Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Nine Hells of Anime Episode 53: Mind Game

This episode, we delve into the avant-garde with Masaaki Yuasa’s cult film Mind Game. Its story of regret and possibility takes full advantage of its unorthodox and loose art style and plot structure to create an experience that nearly defies description, but is the end result pretentious nonsense or an expertly written oddball?

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The Nine Hells of Anime Episode 52: Always My Santa

Tis the time of year to spread that good cheer and all the nice podcasters get to review Tokyo Godfathers. Unfortunately, we’re on the naughty list and instead get Always My Santa, a quant Christmas romance brought to us by Ken Akamatsu of Love Hina infamy. Of course by quaint, I mean a predictable pile of garbage with an unlistenable dub. Two words: Santa harem.

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Introduction to Touhou 41: Satori

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“What you’re thinking speaks volumes beyond anything you could say with your mouth.”

Satori Komeiji is part of a youkai race of the same name that is known for roaming around mountains. I do have to question what Satori’s parents were thinking since naming her Satori is akin to naming a dog as Dog, but I digress. When a satori encounters a human traveler, it will start tormenting them by reading their thoughts aloud. When Reimu and Marisa encounter Satori during Subterranean Animism, she begins reciting their thoughts, which includes the usual “Thinking about this is too much work. Let’s just beat her up.” That’s not exactly news to the rest of us, but now we know they mean it.

It’s worth noting that this power is represented by the presence of an external, third eye that’s somehow connected to her body through a series of tubes. Aside from being a convenient source of reaction jokes in fandom, this eye also has symbolic importance that will come into play later with Satori’s sister Koishi.

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No one likes having their thoughts read, least of all out loud, so Satori lives in relative isolation, kept in check partly by her own antisocial disposition and partly by Oni in the surrounding area like Yuugi, who don’t believe in deception and will just say what they’re thinking anyway. After all, it’s one thing to know that an Oni wants to smash your face in. It’s another matter entirely to do something about it.
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The Nine Hells of Anime Episode 51: Bakemonogatari

Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei meets xxxHolic in this obtuse and painfully verbose mishmash of supernatural and harem elements. This beautifully designed, yet deeply flawed anime is an excellent counterpoint to the glitz and hype of Studio Shaft and serves as a reminder that visual distinctness isn’t necessarily indicative of metaphorical depth or even good animation.

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Introduction to Touhou 40: Yuugi

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“I’ll trust you this time, based on what your strength and this sake tell me.”

Yuugi Hoshiguma is an Oni residing in the Gensokyo’s subterranean cave system. Specifically, she occupies the city within a region known as Former Hell, which previously housed all those subject to eternal damnation before the Ministry of the Afterlife found it inadequate for some unexplained reason and relocated elsewhere. The official byline is that they were trying to reduce costs, but how exactly one reduces the cost of delivering excruciating suffering to the damned by moving from one hole in the ground to another is something of a mystery.

Parallel to this process, the Oni abandoned the surface world, either due to boredom or on account of humans developing increasingly efficient ways of killing them, depending on who you ask. The specific reasons for the Oni exodus have already been discussed in talking about Suika, so I’ll spare you the repetition. The Ministry and its judges were either unable or unwilling to transport certain evil spirits to the new Hell, creating a need to station a force to contain these remnants. In exchange for uncontested control of Former Hell, the Oni agreed to police the evil spirits and they became its primary residents. Though the surface world’s youkai, presumably led by Yukari, had reservations about allowing the Oni to consolidate power, they agreed to noninterference under the condition that the underground youkai sever contact with the world above. It’s this agreement that later forces Yukari to use Reimu as a proxy in Subterranean Animism. Though a human’s presence in the underground realm would be highly irregular, it wouldn’t be in direct violation of this crucial treaty.

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The Nine Hells of Anime Episode 50: Kuttsukiboshi

To celebrate 50 consecutive episodes of podcasting, the crew lets down their guard long enough to be blindsided by a shockingly low-budget OVA. Not since Mars of Destruction have we seen something this poorly animated, but the surprises don’t end there. Kuttsukiboshi’s borderline pornographic tale of psychic lesbians throws twist after baffling twist in a peculiar romance we won’t soon forget.

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