DocHaus (Level 18)

It's no use, I'll have to use...THAT!
followed by
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(or, "Are they still on Namek?")

Okay, I'm convinced that this new season is a psychological experiment being perpetrated on all casual and hardcore fans of Haruhi. Basically, to see how long you can keep looping the same freakin' story over and over again to the point where people stop watching.

Sure, the first episode was good, classic Haruhi: A dash of ADD-related humor combined with nonsensical storytelling to lure both new and old fans into the series. In scientific terms, episode one acted as the "control" of the experiment. But then eps 2-5 are where the independent variables come into play, the part where the same episode is repeated with cosmetic changes here and there as part of an evil plot to discover how far they can stretch their fanbase until they snap (considering that some hardcore fans actually rented out hotel rooms in Saitama just to be the very first people to see the new season, I'd say pretty far). I told this to a couple friends who also watched the series, and one of them countered that the animation for each episode is different.

Skimming through each episode again, I tentatively agreed with him on that point. However, I said it didn't really matter to me so much as the fact that they basically repeated the same storyline over and over. It's kinda like the drunk guy at a party who tells a joke that he thinks is hilarious. You chuckle along with him at first, but then he thinks that if he says the same joke louder then he'll get more laughs, so he keeps raising his voice and telling the same joke over and over until you just want to dump what's left of your beer on his head and walk away.

Maybe the show will actually switch to a different plotline next episode, but I am not going to play along with their little experiment. I am not going to watch another episode of this series for the near future. The writers of this show shouldn't be allowed to get away with repeating the same story with only a few changes several times in a row. If I wanted that I'd watch Inuyasha, and at least then the characters might be different during the repeated plotlines.
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[or, thoughts on "Queen's Blade" and related shows.]

I was going to write this upon finishing the summary (if you can call it that) of the last episode of Queen's Brade/Blade. But first, I was sorta kinda drunk. Second, the "review" button for the series does not appear to be functioning. And I will be damned if I have to write a review of each individual episode.

So how will I sum it up? It is a step above Ikkitousen (or "Battle Vixens" if you saw the manga on US bookstore shelves).

Let's start out with a quick recap of Ikkitousen for the sake of comparison: The story there was about big breasted girls (and a few dudes) who were the reincarnated aspects of legendary warriors/nations from the whole Romance of the Three Kingdoms tale, with a clothes-ripping rate that I thought couldn't be beat until I saw QB. I call this franchise "self-hating hentai." Why? Because on one hand it wanted to be a shonen action manga with some school stuff on the side, and on the other hand someone wanted a child-sized R3K story. But someone else wanted sexy, big-breasted girls so that they could sell it to horny teenagers and older otaku. Unfortunately, the fight between these forces was never quite resolved, and so anyone who saw the anime/manga ended up getting the worst of all sides: a series that gave liberal amounts of fighting and all the nudity it could get without showing actual nipples, crotch or any sexual acts. As a friend of mine wrote after dragging himself through the first season (without any alcohol, God help him): "Next time? Decide if you want grimdark, hentai, or romantic high school comedy with combat. Don't try all three. Because it just doesn't f**king work."

Going into Queen's Blade, we can say that there were two forces at work here: The side that wanted to sell toys/gamebooks/dolls/figures and wanted a show with a vague plot to tie them all together, and the side that didn't think it would sell unless the main characters were all sexy, big-breasted woman (with the exception of a couple characters for the lolicons out there). In this case, the latter side mostly won out (although there was reportedly an alternate "censored" version aired on some Japanese channels), and unlike Ikkitousen they didn't seem too confused about their goal: Show off the characters with as much cleavage and sex as possible so you can sell the toys, but not so much that it gets classified as "hentai" and shoved into a dark room somewhere. I think that's what made this show a little more watchable for me than Ikkitousen: it didn't try to hide the fact that it was all about the T&A, and that the paper-thin plot about a grand tournament was just an excuse to parade it on display.

But enough bitching about the meta stuff, how did the actual show pan out? Pretty much exactly how I expected. It was a long parade of fanservice, only interrupted by the occasional fight scene or dialogue sequence where Claudette got angry about something. The only character in my opinion that showed anything more than one-dimension in this show was the warrior-miko Tomoe, who actually tried her best not to fall in with the fanservice-y aspects of the show, though the writers dealt with that little discrepancy in the second half of the series. This thing would've been written off as a piece of crap if not for the "acid-shooting boobies" of the demonic bunnygirl, which was probably a first for a genre where you think you've seen everything that could be done to animated women. It's probably for that reason that any of us took note of the show. That act alone in the first episode probably set an unreasonably high bar of innovation in the hentai-ish aspects of the show that they couldn't match (except the tit-biting snake lady came pretty close), but they did manage to satisfy at least one fetish per episode.

So if you want my recommendation, go ahead and watch this show if you want some cheap hentai-thing to watch or if you're interested in a drinking game (take one shot every time someone's clothes get ripped, and two shots when a fetish gets invoked though knowing TV Tropes' version of Rule 36 you'll probably die of alcohol poisoning shortly after). Watch it if you really, really want to know the backstory of those characters in the books and figurines that you might have bought. But trust me, you're better off spending your time on a better series, like Seikon no Qwaser. At least in that series, they offer some hard science along with the fanservice/borderline-hentai content. You think acid-shooting boobies are bad? Wait until you see masochistic twin girls who secrete the element of Mercury.

But on related note, whatever happened to the GI Joe version of selling toys? Y'know, the kind where you have an incompetent team of superheroes versus an even dumber team of villains who use the very same vehicles and characters that kids could buy on shelves and man-children could laugh at before smuggling them out of the Toys R Us? I'm assuming they still have those kinds of shows in Japan, right? Otherwise, Power Rangers would've ended and there would only be 150 Pokemon. Perhaps that's the same reason that Power Rangers keeps getting syndicated, Queen's Blade is going to run another season, and Pokemon/Digimon/Beyblade/[Generic Toy Monster Show] will never f**king end.
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I looked upon Queen's Brade episodes within Anime Vice, and though one lone soldier did the duty of grabbing several screenshots for our benefit, none would dare post a summary after the first ep. hit.

I did what no one else would do, out of sheer boredom and loathing and the fact that I've got a brand new internship that pays nothing waiting for me tomorrow: I filled those episode summaries of Queen's Brade. I did it. Me. And as they slowly ate away at my sanity I found that I just couldn't take them seriously. So I decided that if this show was going to drag my brain down into the utter abyss, I was going to take it down with me.

Hopefully you enjoyed summaries 3-6 (ep #2 was lame, and therefore doesn't count). I swear, I'm going to see this through to the end if no one else will take up the burden from this point. And then I am going to take a very, very long shower to cleanse myself of this pure, distilled awfulness.
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(disclaimer: take the following blog postage with a grain of salt, as my brain may not be 100% there at time of writing)

In between stressing about upcoming finals in a couple weeks and trying not to act like a total dingus outside of these walls I've been catching up on some of the new shows that have been going. Perhaps I should share some thoughts about them with you all? Ohohohoho...

Let's start off with the most recent one I've seen: Shangri-La, a world ravaged by global warming so badly that it seems Japan (Atlas?) is now ruled by lolis and the adults are forced to fight each other for the leftover scraps. Also, that Lady Ryoko chick seems like a sexier version of Futurama's Mom: a ruthless businesswoman who will abuse her wussy, masochistic servant boy for the slightest inconvenience. On the other hand, I gotta say that you don't often see trannies in such main character positions. I find that kinda amusing. Also, a slight possibility that *SPOILER* the main loli princess might be the daughter of Momoko *SPOILER*.

Moving on down the list...Asura Cryin': It's got ghosts who may or may not be dead, an overly powerful student council that might be the current Knights Templar vs. an overly powerful science club led by an evil(?) cyborg woman with an undetermined relationship with the main hero's brother and a Yakuza princess who can shoot fire from her hands. Also, there's ghost-y mechs. Y'know, a lot of shows and movies come to mind where they talk about some variation of the Knights Templar. How about a show where they have a modern-day incarnation of the Hashishin? Well, I guess the Japanese equivalent would be the ninja. Never mind, then. What was I talking about? Oh yeah...anyways, Asura Cryin' looks good, and I think it'll get better as the series goes on. But if it starts turning into another "mons" series ("your White Ghost type is weak against my Green Lancer type!") then I'm tossing this laptop out a window.

Valkyria Chronicles: Considering that I'll probably never play the game unless it gets ported to the 360 and we invent a tie made out of veggie bacon (or "Facon"), this series will have to do. Apparently, they made a tank that can (briefly) go underwater and kill the Naz--er, the Imperial Army, all thanks to the genius of the Jewi--er, Darcsen engineer who built it. Of course, Isara still takes a bunch of shit from her new teammates during that mission for her heritage based on a stupid unproven myth. I guess it was inevitable when you're setting something in a faux-1940's Europa that racism would pop up. The series looks good so far, but episode 4 looks like it's going to be mostly filler.

Eden of the East: Apparently, there are two tropes prevalent with the main characters in almost all animu I stumble across--either they have amnesia, or their parents are dead/missing. Akira seems to fit both pretty well. It didn't sound that interesting at first, but I've kinda warmed up to it as it's been going on. Also, it seems that Akira may or may not have massacred a few thousand NEETs by himself. I'm tempted to ask something like, "How did he get them out of the house? Promises of free lolis and catgirls?" but that would be bad taste. Plus, Oasis does the opening theme, which is awesome but I'm sure you've all heard of that by now.

Queen's Brade: I don't know why I keep watching this thing. I guess it's to see how far they can keep pushing the bar with the pantsu and oppai. Episode #2 was kinda lame, featuring a ninja girl and shinto priestess vs. evil ninjas who morphed into some kinda perverted toad creature. #3 upped the ante with Reina, mud/oil wrestling and the tit-biting snake. #4 seemed more oriented towards those with a fetish for vomit and electric torture, though Aya Hirano got a few more lines in than the past episodes and I couldn't help but laugh when her angel character got sprayed with her own milk (I think that was milk?). #5 looks like it will feature a large-breasted Japanese Cleopatra. You think they would've saved the tit-biting snake for that one. Or maybe Brendan Fraser will be looking for Imhotep in that pyramid and get distracted. Who knows?

Phantom: looks to be kinda like Noir (according to the credits, Bee Train is behind part of the show and Ein does seem to be a dead ringer for Noir's Kirika). Though it's starting to get a little boring to follow when the main characters are supposed to be emotionless killing machines. Admittedly, it was because of this that Ep. #4 threw me for a loop when Ein and Zwei showed actual emotion, but apparently it was all just an act for the cameras. I'm just hoping someone (friend or enemy) goes batshit insane in the next couple of episodes to throw in some spice to the otherwise bland flavor of this series. If they start having to fight an army of blue-suited soldiers with impeccably bad aim (*cough* LES SOLDATS *cough*), then I'm dropping this from my list of "to watch."

I'm starting to get the feeling I should set up a mic and go all Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw up in this piece, but I don't think I'd be able to fake an English accent that well. Feel free to agree with me or bitch about some trivial thing I wrote in the comments.
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The greatest anime, nay, the greatest show of this season, is Queen's Blade. They managed to pack so much utter insanity into the first episode alone that no critic will be able to resist its siren song. What other show can you think of contains the following in its pilot episode:

  • A demonic bunnygirl with small hands formed from her own hair that squeeze her breasts which squirt acid instead of milk?
  • A barbarian woman who dresses her captive in bondage gear...just because she can?
  • A blond-haired princess who really, really likes her sister?
  • An angel who seems to be voiced by the same seiyuu behind the godly Haruhi?
  • A battle preparation montage where putting on one's thong is considered important enough to include?
  • Gigantic Exploding Boobs!

Until you find me a show that can contain all of this in its first episode, I must submit to you that Queen's Blade will be known as the greatest show of this season, and possibly the best anime of all time!
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