[TV] The What Anime Are You Watching Thread!

GasBandit

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Initial D: Fifth Stage



Genre: Car racing, Drama, Action

Fanservice: Nothing too egregious, a bathing suit at the beach or two

Premise: The exploits of Project D continue, having moved on into the street racer Mecca that is Kanagawa. The opponents are tougher than ever, and with each race the stakes get higher. At the same time, a spectre from Ryouske Takahashi's past resurfaces, throwing a potentially deadly twist into the fate of those who would be the fastest drivers in all Japan.

Alright, I got a lot of gripes with this one, but let me first say that it's still an excellent watch.

The CGI is good, and I like how they use post processing effects to really accentuate the car battles - it makes the races seem much more visceral and tactile. But a lot of the character designs have really changed drastically - Ryouske for example is almost completely unrecognizable, and a lot of other secondary characters are hard to recognize. This is exacerbated as well by the fact that this is the first proper season (not counting Extra Stage 2) that doesn't have an english dub/localization, so all the voices are off as well, and naturally the subtitled dialog has a completely different feel because it's a much more literal translation than how the localization team for the previous seasons rewrote the lines to feel more natural to english audiences.

And to make matters worse, a lot of the hand-drawn animation has gotten downright sloppy. The artwork isn't anywhere near as bad as season 1, mind you, but you can tell this was either rushed or lazy. The animation is not fluid, there's plainly a lot of missing frames. And most jarringly of all, the lip flaps are shoddily animated (sometimes only repeating 2 or 3 frames) and aren't synchronized to the speech at all - sometimes even beginning before and ending after the actual dialog. Even amateur animators on youtube do a better job with mouth movements on this. It's inexcusably low quality work.

But aside from that, it's still a really good story (aside from one or two plot holes - since when does vehicle top speed matter on the downhill to the point where the aerodynamic difference of the 86's headlights being up or down matters?? These guys rarely break 60mph!). A lot of the focus shifts away from Takumi and highlights the Takahashi brothers - Keisuke's growth as a driver, and Ryouske putting the ghosts of his past to bed. It helps to flesh out the world, and de-emphasizing Takumi is a good way to prevent the story from getting stale as it assuredly would if the only plot arc was the one where Takumi wins every single race. His races are still interesting, of course, but they're the potatoes of the meal to the Takahashi's meat. I also like that it's teasing that there might actually be a relationship with a girl that doesn't end in embarrasing sadness possible for one of the drivers.

And speaking of her, it was good to see that the fanservice was very restrained. Sure, there was a beach episode with a bikini, but the camera seldom lingered in a "male gaze-ey" kind of way, and there was one episode involving a date at a driving range where the girl wore a short, loose skirt that any other anime would have turned into an excuse for a panty shot when she twirled on the follow through with the golf club. Now, the twirl happens, but the exposure is only implied by showing the reaction of the spectators present instead of explicitly focusing on her body. That's a refreshing change not only from the blatant pandering of Extra Stage, but from typical anime tropes as a whole.

One last gripe though, of course - the darn season ends on a cliffhanger. GAH.

So, while I would say this wasn't as good as Stage 2, 3, or 4, it's still a good watch and I am looking forward to watching Final Stage.
 

GasBandit

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Initial D - Final Stage



Genre: Car Racing, Drama, Action

Fanservice: None

Premise: a four-episode mini-season that serves as the series finale, depicting the final race of Project D - which, in a shocking twist, pits Mt Akina's teenage savant AE86 driver... against another teenage savant AE86 driver.

Well, I'm not quite sure why this had to be its own thing. It's exactly the same as Fifth Stage in terms of everything - art, plot, soundtrack, cgi, the whole works. It's like they just chopped off the last 4 episodes of Fifth Stage and made a super short 6th season. So, all the critiques I made about Fifth Stage apply here - the animation is still sloppy, the cgi is still good (though overall, I think the soundtrack suffered some both in selection and quality in stages 5 and 6), and the story is still interesting, despite the somewhat trite premise of the final battle.

That said, it does manage to bring closure to the story (though most of the closure is found in the ending credit montage).

Spoilers follow:

So Takumi's final opponent is a mirror version of himself... Takumi drove Akina pass for 6 years before he started racing, Shinji has driven his home pass for 12. Takumi had to learn to drive smoothly so as not to ruin the tofu he was delivering, Shinji had to learn to drive smoothly so as not to wake his overworked mother sleeping in the passenger seat. Takumi's father is a widowered ex street racer turned tofu shop owner, Shinji's mother is the widow of a rally car driver from whom their family AE86 is inherited. It all feels a little contrived, but there ya go.

I did guffaw quite a bit at the callback to second stage at the climax - that is, in a race he looks like he will lose, Takumi overtaxes his engine and it blows in exactly the same manner it did - but this time, Takumi's good enough to regain control of the car by hammering in the clutch, coming out of his spin, and ending up winning the race BACKWARDS with a BLOWN ENGINE.

So anyway... off to find the next thing to watch I guess.
 
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I love how much easier anime fandom is now. My daughter is able to just go online and watch professionally translated anime within days or weeks of an episode airing in Japan for the first time. If there's an anime she likes that isn't mainstream, I can still find merch for it easily, or just go on sites like Redbubble or Etsy and find SOMEONE who also likes that anime who made their own merch for it. Even just 20 years ago, I don't know if I would have been as interested in anime if I didn't have access to the huge library of fan subs my college anime club had. Anime pricing is still as ridiculous as ever in some circles, but streaming is the greatest thing.
 

GasBandit

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9 episodes in, and I suddenly realize, Rascal may not dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, but he sure as fuck is trying his damnedest to be Bakemonogatari.
 
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7 episodes into Netflix's Castlevania

This shit is way better than it has any right to be. There's a good number of easter eggs from the games but the series isn't relying on you going "Oh! Oh! That's from the games!" for its entertainment value. It's a fantastic dark fantasy right out of the mold of the original Berserk with exciting action, exceptional voice acting, and a plot that's actual coherent. The characters have great chemistry, motivations that make sense for who they are, and in many ways even Dracula is rather tragically sympathetic.
 
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7 episodes into Netflix's Castlevania

This shit is way better than it has any right to be. There's a good number of easter eggs from the games but the series isn't relying on you going "Oh! Oh! That's from the games!" for its entertainment value. It's a fantastic dark fantasy right out of the mold of the original Berserk with exciting action, exceptional voice acting, and a plot that's actual coherent. The characters have great chemistry, motivations that make sense for who they are, and in many ways even Dracula is rather tragically sympathetic.
Even with the notable absence of a certain character (Morrison said he exists, he just hasn't been shown yet) I have to say this is the best animated adaption of a video game to a TV series since Danganroppa.
 
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Even with the notable absence of a certain character (Morrison said he exists, he just hasn't been shown yet) I have to say this is the best animated adaption of a video game to a TV series since Danganroppa.
I hope you are talking about 3 and not the one that actually tried to adapt the first game.
 
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SSSS.Gridman #10

Welp, we've taken a huge turn in the series. The exploitation of tropes has reached peak.

On realizing that her rivals are literally operating from the Junk Shop next door, Akane just grabs a knife and stabs one of them.

This show has hit full TRIGGER. It's a must watch now.
 
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S4 of My Hero Academia doesn't come out until October. I'd cry more about it if I wasn't reading the manga now, but I do hope that means the many action sequences in the next story arc will look amazing.
 
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