Alderamin on the Sky quick anime review

It took some time for me to get back into anime-watching after the disaster that was the Gundam 00 movie, but I made it back somehow. I’ve watched some other series before Alderamin on the Sky (Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin), but this is the most recent one I tried so I thought I’d dash off a few notes before I got too lazy. You have to ease yourself back into blogging with baby steps.

BlurbThe world is thrown into chaos when the Katjvarna empire takes arms against the Republic of Kioka. Our hero, Ikta, detests war but ultimately has no choice but to become a High Grade Military Officer to defend his land. No one could have ever imagined that this lazy womanizer would eventually become the hero everyone needed (from MAL).

What I liked about Alderamin on the Sky

  • The sprites were cute.
  • Unlike many anime about wars or invasions, named characters do die – and frequently too. Even though some of them were obviously created just so the show could kill them off to make us sad.
  • The show does a good job of showing the brutality and unfairness of war and the negative consequences of bad leadership.
  • Ikta comes up with some interesting strategies, 90% of which work because the opposing side is filled with dum-dums.
  • At the same time he’s not perfect. He can’t and doesn’t save everyone, and he doesn’t necessarily try when the cost would outweigh the benefit. He’s not the typical shounen hero, that’s for sure.
  • Ikta has the brains, but the other characters get plenty of moments to shine. Most of them can outfight him in a heartbeat, especially the main girl Yatorishino.
  • The show has a lot of bright and vivid colors so it’s fun to watch.
  • It’s only 13 episodes long and wraps up the arc it’s dealing with fairly well. Good for a Sunday afternoon marathon.

What I didn’t like about Alderamin on the Sky

  • The “hero” is a lazy, complaining womanizer. He hits on everything in a skirt and it’s neither cute nor funny.
  • The hero and his army are forgiven for all kinds of crimes mostly because he just happened to be childhood pals with the leader of the other side. And she of course is madly in love with him so genocide is totally forgivable when you’re in love.
  • His counterpart on the other side who was supposed to be the smartest strategist on the opposite side turned out to be a disappointment.
  • The setting shows some promise but the world, religion and culture of the countries are not explored in depth at all. An antagonistic country just shows up 10 episodes in when we had no idea that they even existed before.
  • The ending is pretty much “Please read the light novel to find out what happens next, okay?”

Summary

Alderamin on the Sky is a quick watch and a fairly good show that should please lovers of action anime and romance shows alike. The lack of a conclusive ending and the unpleasantness of the main character are the show’s main drawbacks. I still think it’s worth a watch. I enjoyed it for what it was worth and would probably watch a second season if they made one. But at the same time I’m not interested enough to follow up with the light novel so… yeah. That’s it for me.

60th Kohaku Utagassen rundown (2009 edition)

Welcome to my rundown of the 60th edition of Kohaku Utagassen (第60回NHK紅白歌合戦), which took place on December 31, 2009. That’s 8 years ago, which means I have 8 more episodes to watch to catch up with the latest one. Will it ever happen? Your guess is as good as mine. But if I do two editions a year that should help cut down the backlog.

Let’s try to keep it snappy this time. As usual the number  in brackets represents the number of times the artiste/band had appeared on Kohaku.

Introduction

Those kids are cute. Katou Seishirou looks really nervous. Everyone walks down the stairs real carefully. You wouldn’t want to fall down here. Nakai’s combover is pretty skillful… Nothing wrong with going bald, man.

1. Ayumi Hamasaki (11) 浜崎あゆみ Rule

“Rule” sounds like “rurrr.” Apart from that I’ve got nothing to say about this performance. I like her hair and her outfit, actually. Synchronized dancing when singing about not following rules seems a bit contradictory, non? Energetic performance.

2. EXILE (5) Someday

I don’t know any of the members except the one with the sunglasses, and even he I don’t know his name. Oh, I know the guy with the ponytail. And the pretty face. Oh well, time to space out through another Exile performance. Wait, no, gotta keep an open mind. They’re energetic too. The song is nothing special, but it’s fun to watch them jump around the stage like that. My waist hurts just thinking about it. Haha, they look winded. Ganbatte ne, ojisantachi.

3. AKB48 (2) RIVER River Surprise Kōhaku Remix サプライズ!紅白Remix

This is one of the earliest AKB48 batches so I recognize a few faces, if not the names. They really do have terrible choreography. Just jumping around and waiving their hands. Is it supposed to be cute? Oh well. There are so many of them I don’t know where to focus.

4. flumpool (debut) Hoshi ni Negai o 星に願いを

I feel like I’ve heard the name flumpool before but I don’t know anything about them. Practiced lines, very good, everyone saying what they were told to say. How’s the music? Nothing special. The only thing that comes to mind is that the lead singer looks like a girl. Who’s the guitarist giving orders to?

Ah, time for the usual introduction of the judges. Wasn’t Abe Hiroshi involved in a scandal recently? Who’s the one guy at the end? There’s always one random guy at the end. Whoa! Whenever SMAP shows up in this programs they look so young I don’t know what to say.

5. NYC boys (debut) 60th Kōhaku Memorial NYC Special紅白60回記念NYCスペシャル

A defunct boys’ group formed for no reason and disbanded for no reason. I don’t know any of them, but they’re going to sing old Kohaku songs. Hmm, interesting songs, but I would rather have watched the original performances. Wait, they only sang 2 old songs and then that’s the end of it? If I had a son this age, I would tell him to go to school and learn hard instead of wasting his life on this kind of boy band.

6. Ikimono-gakari (2) いきものがかり YELL

The song was used for the National Middle School Choral contest or something. The guys behind the lead singer look sleepy. Ah, the song makes you sleepy. Naruhodo. The two white things on the front of the singer’s dress look like tentacles. I can’t stop staring. At least it’s keeping me awake. I feel sorry for the students who had to practice this song for their choral contest. In our time we had fun songs like Lift Every Voice and Sing— Oooh! I spotted a staff member! They’re doing a better job of hiding them this year but I got one at last!

企画「こども紅白歌合戦」、審査員:両津勘吉(香取慎吾)Time for the kids’ corner where all the kids perform something each. SMAP guy is the special judge.

1:Kato Seishirou “Katsuobushi dayo Jinsei wa” 加藤清史郎「かつおぶしだよ人生は」 – Looking at his Wiki profile, it looks like he largely dropped off the map after 2016? Apart from one or two variety show appearances. That’s showbiz, kid. Too bad, his song was really cute. Very cute.

2:Sakura Maya “Taigyou Matsuri” さくらまや「大漁まつり」. Powerful voice, cute dress. Currently studying law in university. Showbiz is hard, man. Who is this Sakana-kun? Wasn’t he the guy pimping the sushi last year?

3:Snow Prince Gasshoudan “Snow Prince” スノープリンス合唱団「スノープリンス」 – Very young group under Johnny’s, just more fodder for the pedophiles. Only formed to promote the “Snow Prince” movie so I dunno where they are now. Forgettable song too.

4:Oohashi Nozomi “Nonchan Kumo ni noru” “Gake no Ue no Ponyo” 大橋のぞみ「ノンちゃん雲に乗る」「崖の上のポニョ」- Poor girl was nervous presenting. Making her “graduate” from showbiz was the right decision. Now she’s free to do whatever she wants.

Policeman guy is annoying… Both teams both won. That sucks. Even the kids are struggling to clap. Ah, I see, this is the role that made Japanese fans start calling him “Hogei!” Yeah, whatevers. That’s it for the kids for today. They have to go to bed now, national law.

7. Natsuko Godai (16) 伍代夏子 Shinobu Ame 忍ぶ雨

Hahaha, Ayanokouji is funny. Isn’t this that Saotome guy that shows up every year? I love Godai’s kimono. Lovely. The song is the usual enka song. If you take the lyrics away and play just the instrumentals they all sound the same. Love her hair too.

8. Takeshi Kitayama (5) 北山たけしTsurugi San  剣山

He got married that year! Whoa! What a… manly stage… What are they wearing? And more important, what are they not wearing? (o__o) … I can’t tell whether it’s better that they turned around or not. I like the song okay, but I can’t focus with those… guys in the back.

Hey, Nakai and Nakama changed their clothes. I know this Takeda from somewhere. Eh…. Live video from Nagasaki. Fukuhara’s nose is looking less pinched than normal. This must have been before his most recent nose job. A room where Sakamoto Ryoma stayed with a katana mark from back then. That’s cool.

9. GIRL NEXT DOOR (2) Infinity

Oh, Takeda is an interesting presenter. Vocalist has a lovely smile as ever and I like her dress, makeup and hair. Where’s the keyboardist that looks like Ekin Cheng? No close up for Mr. I’m Too Cool? Oh, there he is. Real quick. Doesn’t look too Ekin-like today. Very meh song. Now I remember why I gradually stopped watching these Kohaku programs.

10. Jero (2) ジェロ Umiyuki 海雪

What’s the point of this forced marriage of hip-hop and enka? I’m all for livening up the staleness of enka, but this is just silly. Especially when you have such a good song. Well, whatevs. Spaced out a little there, but I enjoyed the song.

11. Nana Mizuki (debut) 水樹奈々 Shin’ai 深愛

Sekine Mari and Ito Terry come to cheer her on. Bringing up her dead dad for more tears or something? Haaai. I don’t know any of Nana Mizuki’s songs… Actually I don’t know the woman herself. BRB quick Wiki. Okay, she’s Hinata in Naruto. The only thing I can remember her saying is “N-Naruto-kun,” but it still counts. And the song? Her voice is shrill in a way that reminds me of Ayumi Hamasaki. And she’s supposedly a trained singer? Well at least, this means she’s probably not lip-synching. Hai, tsugi.

12. FUNKY MONKEY BABYS (debut) Hero ヒーロー

I seem to remember liking this song, but… what’s the point of pulling an NHK announcer out to cheer them on? Just because he’s slightly good-looking. Yeah, I like this song well enough and the artistes seem to be enjoying themselves. I’m always happy when I find a song I like in these shows. The pics of regular dads doing regular jobs is oddly touching. Apparently Funk Monkey Babys broke up in 2013. Oh well.

13. Mitsuko Nakamura (14) 中村美律子 Kawachi Otoko Bushi 河内おとこ節

Staff member spot! Two of them! Tokio dragged out to support Mitsuko Nakamura again. Whatever for? Let my farming idols perform! Smiled at the fan reaching out to touch her sleeve. It would be tempting to touch your favorite star, wouldn’t it? Tokio have an attitude like “This is so stupid but a job is a job.” They’re not even matching the rhythm. Tuned out and started checking my phone. Haaai.

14. Porno Graffitti (8) ポルノグラフィティ Anima Rossa アニマロッサ

Za Travellers? I know some of those…. in fact, almost all of those owarai combis. They didn’t have enough time to introduce all of them. Too bad. They had to cut Porno Graffiti’s introduction too. I like this song. This is one of their better ones. I remember it very clearly too, so I must have heard it elsewhere. He made the heel of his shoe 60mm to support Kohaku’s 60th birthday. “Nobody cares, though.” Lol. Chuuru, chuchuchuruu~

15. Yoshimi Tendō (14) 天童よしみ 花筏 -Hanaikada-

A song for her mother. Hanaikada is a raft of flowers on the surface of a river. Whoa, that judge looks just like her mother. I always think that’s cute. This song doesn’t sound just like the usual enka songs, so I like it automatically. It’s actually not that special or memorable.

16. Kenichi Mikawa (26) 美川憲一 Sasoriza no Onna 2009 さそり座の女 2009

Yet another performance of Sasoriza no Onna. The first time I liked it, now it’s just old. They cut out The Travellers for this? This time with an Indian spin on it. Whatevs. Time to check my smartphone again, maybe the bar has gone from 25% to 23%, exciting stuff.

“Who invited these guys to Kohaku?” – Nakai, I completely agree.

17. Fuyumi Sakamoto (21) 坂本冬美 Mata Kimi ni Koishiteru また君に恋してる

I know the original song (by Billy Ban Ban) and like it a little better, but I’ve gotta hand it to Fuyumi Sakamoto, she really made this song her own. IIRC she performed it again the following year. I like her furry dress too, very…. furry. It’s a different feel from the usual Sakamoto, which is nice too.

18. Takashi Hosokawa (33) 細川たかし Bōkyō jon kara 望郷じょんから

Love this song. Love this performance too. I usually rewind it and watch it a few times. Unfortunately this was the last time Takashi Hosokawa performed on Kohaku before getting caught chilling with yakuza. Chilling with yakuza in Japan = no probs. Getting caught = no no. Hmm, but according to my research that controversy happened in 2007. Whatever, let’s forget about that and enjoy the beautiful song and powerful performance and powerful black dye in his hair. Love the shamisen interlude… I’m gonna have to rewatch this. Powerful ending… One more time! No, two more times!

19. Ai Otsuka (6) 大塚愛 Is

Staff spots in the lobby don’t count. I don’t care about Arashi, get them off my screen. Oh, Sabu-chan! Sabu-chan can stay. This was Arashi’s first time showing up on Kohaku. Whatevs. Last year it was Grandma’s rugs, this year, Ai is wearing Grandma’s curtains. And she wrote the song herself, clever girl. Too bad I had forgotten it by the time the performance ended.

20. Remioromen (debut) レミオロメン Konayuki 粉雪

Konaaaaaayukiii. Remioromen have been friends since elementary school. That’s nice. Staff member telling them to drag things out and buy time. That’s too obvious. And they bought time successfully. Lip synch? It sounds too similar to the record… wait, that part was a little different. The Konayuki is more “screamy” and nasal too.  Well I don’t mind either way, I love this song too.

21. Miyuki Kawanaka (22) 川中美幸 Futari Zake ふたり酒

Time for the mid-period voting. Nakai changed out of that awful blue suit. That’s good. I like the ordinary couple pics in the back. In fact I think I like seeing ordinary people at shows like this. I like Futarizake too. Songs about happy married life are so rare, it’s always about “I like this pretty girl or I like this fine boy or such and such broke my heart,” you know? Really sweet pics.

22. Shinichi Mori (42) 森進一 Hana to Chō 花と蝶

He has performed 42 years in a row at Kohaku. Wow. And now he’s not singing Ofukuro-san. So happy. I already like it, lol. Footage of his first performance. He looks almost exactly the same. And his hair is still black… ahahahaha. His nose is a bit different, I think?

So far the white team is leading. Yeah, that sounds about right. Hosokawa Takeshi alone should win the whole thing.

60th Kohaku Theme Song “Uta no Chikara” (The Power of Music) 第60回紅白テーマソング「歌の力」合唱 – Everyone singing the theme song of the program. Hmm, hmm. Well, let’s hear it. Joe Hisaishi composed the theme and people in Japan sent their thoughts about “the power of music” to be used for the lyrics. Music is certainly powerful, I can’t deny that. How about this song? It’s a good song actually but would be better if one person or a unified choir sang it.

Special performance: Susan Boyle, “I Dreamed a Dream. “特別出演:スーザン・ボイル、唄:「夢やぶれて」- The year of Susan Boyle’s big break… Hey, Nakama and Nakai changed clothes again. I just noticed. I too was impressed by Susan’s viral performance on Britain’s Got Talent. And I like this song too. Let’s enjoy this. Oh come on Susan, Kimutaku’s English was perfectly clear. Okay, enough talking. Very nice performance, thought nothing can top the passion and shock factor of her debut.

23. Yusuke (debut) 遊助 Himawari ひまわり

Singing with 3000 sunflowers… Waste of sunflowers. Whatever makes you happy. The song is so-so.

24. aiko (8) あの子の夢 Ano Ko no Yume

People who performed in a drama she sang the song for. “Welkame.” I’ve given up on liking aiko’s music so I’ll just play a little Granblue through this one. It’s almost Strike Time. Her dress is cute though. Hai, arigatou gozaimashita.

25. Hideaki Tokunaga (4) 徳永英明 Kowarekake no Radio 壊れかけのRadio

Ah, the radio-live corner for those who can’t watch it live… Aaaah, I see the satff member holding up the cue card. Tee hee hee. This is the song that turned me into a Tokunaga fan. Ah! The camera wobbled. How dare you! Lovely. Nakai always makes sure to say extra nice things to Tokunaga because apparently Tokunaga gets really nervous at Kohaku.

26. Ayaka Hirahara (6) 平原綾香 Mio Amore ミオ・アモーレ

Something about the song that Arakawa Shizukawa won the gold medal to. Ah, this classic tune. And the guitarist Rolly is supposed to be famous? Ehhh. Shiranai.

27. TOKIO (16) Taiyō to Sabaku no Bara 太陽と砂漠のバラ

Yay! The usual photo makes its usual appearance. It’s just not Kohaku without it. Now for this song… It’s aight. I like Tokio so I give them a few extra marks every time but it’s nothing special really. I’ll have forgotten it by tomorrow ^^; Actually it’s not that bad. Happy New Year!

28. Junko Akimoto (2) 秋元順子 Ai no Mama De… 愛のままで…

Terry Ito is showing up for the 3rd time today. Why, did he do something special that year? Ooh, I like her dress. And of course I like the song, but I said so last year so no need to repeat. The chandelier background goes well with the song. Miyamoto Emiri is the violinist, from the drama Tenchijin. Well done, ladies.

29. Perfume (2) One Room Disco ワンルーム・ディスコ

They’re really determined to promote this Ryomaden taiga drama, aren’t they? Open your mouth properly when you talk, Fukuhara. Song is eh, dance is eh. I only like Polyrhythm from them.

30. Tohoshinki (2) 東方神起 Stand by U

Uwah. The crowd is really excited by this one. Wow. I don’t know much about TXBQ or whatever these guys are called. Standard boy band song. Because of recent events (suicide) in the KPop world, looking at them just makes me worried. As long as they’re happy, eh?

31. Kaori Mizumori (7) 水森かおり Aki no Miyajima  安芸の宮島

I already know the secret behind your dress, Karoi-chan. The acrobatic performances in the background should have been given their own scene because they don’t seem to have anything to do with her so….. oh, I see. They’re pretending to be a Torii like in her song. Ah so.

32. Hiroshi Itsuki (39) 五木ひろし Itezuru 凍て鶴

He’s in this 40th year of showbiz. Sugoi. I like Itezuru so it’s fun to hear it again.

Michael Jackson Tribute Stage, performed by SMAP 追悼企画「マイケル・ジャクソン スペシャルステージ」、演出:SMAP

Brief mentions for Imagawano Kyousuke – RC Succession’s lead singer. I really miss him. – Katou Kazuhiko – Ano Subarashii Ai wo Mou Ichido… And Michaeeeeel! ;___; has it really been that long? Seeing Kimutaku trying to dance like Michael just makes me see how talented the real thing was. This is just sad… :-< Waaaah…. Not sure that was their intention, though. I’m baaad! I’m baaaad! I should stop watching this and go watch Michael Jackson videos on YouTube. Though again I’m sure that wasn’t their intention.

33. Kaela Kimura (debut) 木村カエラ Butterfly

A song she wrote as a surprise for a friend who got married on Valentine’s Day. That’s nice. The song is… nothing remarkable.

34. Alice (3) アリス Champion チャンピオン

Yay! Alice! Can’t believe they’re wasting so much time on this long intro from Arashi. Gimme the good stuff. I learned this song from Ippo, but I became a fan of Alice itself when I saw them on Kohaku. It’s nice to have them back. Lai la lai la lai la lai la lai! Everyone seems to be having fun. I really enjoyed that one.

35. Mika Nakashima (8) 中島美嘉 Nagareboshi 流れ星

Not Oodori again. They’re not funny. Another change of clothes for the Nakai team. Tendo Yoshimi always seems to be up for a laugh. I like that about her.

Mika Nakashima. She always looks a little out of it, but that’s just Mika-style I guess. Hmm. Nothing memorable about this song. I haven’t found many new songs to like in this Kohaku, mainly old favorites. That’s okay I suppose.

36. Yuzu (3) ゆず Aitai 逢いたい

Song written for the singer’s father who passed away. You’re trying to make him cry, aren’t you? Camera zooming in on his face to catch even the faintest glimpse of a tear if they can. Zurui. This sounds like something Nakajima Miyuki would sing to good effect. Not a bad song. The tears are just not coming, eh? Don’t force it. I’m sure you told your daddy everything you wanted to while he was alive.

37. Angela Aki (4) アンジェラ・アキ Tegami (Haikei Jūgo no Kimi e)手紙 〜拝啓 十五の君へ〜

Repeat from last year. I didn’t have much to say about it last year, and still don’t this year. I see some choir members still filing in, but no staff members. They’re really hiding them well this year.

38. Akira Fuse (25) 布施明 My Way マイ・ウェイ

Sakai Masaaki and Mori Mitsuko hosted the show many years ago. I’m not that familar with My Way in English, much less in Japanese. But Fuse Akira’s voice sounds rather faint to me. Okay, now he’s belting it out. I’ll go on Youtube and see Frankie himself perform it.

39. Sachiko Kobayashi (31) 小林幸子 Manyō Koiuta Aa, Kimi Matsu to 万葉恋歌 あぁ、君待つと

Last boss! Let’s see what she has for us this year! Aha, staff member at last. I was getting lonely. These guys are just buying time, like the sub-boss before the real one shows up. Let’s see. Even the choral music is like…. AAAAAAHH, Last Boss’s transformation! Scary!!! It looks like every swipe would take 9999 HP off your life. I wish I could have seen that in real life. I like the song a lot too.

40. Masaharu Fukuyama (2) 福山雅治 Hatsukoi はつ恋

Hmm, he’s going to sing too, is he? And the actress played his mother in Ryomaden. “Even if this love hurts you, I want you anyway.” Riiight. Actually I like the song but I don’t like the lyrics and the sentiments expressed so that’s it. I get the feeling those funky psychedelic lights are there to hide a background they don’t want us to see.

41. Kumi Koda (5) 倖田來未(×misono)2009 Kōhaku Koda Special 2009紅白KODA SPECIAL

Performing with her younger sister misono. I like Koda’s hair. And dress. I can’t see misono’s face clearly. Okay, nothing special. Voice, nothing special too. Welp. And the song is just so much noise and yelling. Next please. I looked up misono and it looks like if her latest CD doesn’t sell 10,000 copies her record company will cut her loose. misono fans (if you exist) work hard!

42. 嵐 Arashi (debut) 嵐×紅白スペシャルメドレー Arashi x Kōhaku Special Medley

I don’t know any of their songs so uh. Yeah. Ganbatte ne, ojisantachi. Oh wait, I know that first A-RA-SHI song. This will probably be like SMAP where I hate on them while they’re active but then when they break up I’m like aww, I want them back. Unfortunately I only know Ohno and Ninomiya by face. Which one is Piss Jun? I’ve heard… things. They got quite a bit of time to perform. Johnny’s doled out the paychecks thick and fat that year. Oya, they changed their clothes at some point.

Buying more time for the special guest to show up and for Arashi fans to get their fill. They’re surprisingly not out of breath for people who have been “singing” and dancing so hard. That’s the power of being 9 years younger than now. Even I could sing and dance back then. Honest!

Surprise performance: Yazawa Eikichi “Jikan yo tomare” “Cobalt no Sora” サプライズ出演:矢沢永吉、唄:「時間よ止まれ」「コバルトの空」Yazawa Eikichi is the special artiste coming to perform. He really has a star aura about him, doesn’t he? He should consider becoming a pro wrestler. And it’s interesting to see the walk all the way to the stage. That’s cool.

Aha, I remember really liking the Cobalt no Sora song. And I like Jikan yo Tomare, which I also learned about from this Kohaku performance. So I did get something nice from this episode. Oya oya, what happened to the subtitles? Not that I need them, but I can imagine a lot of scrambling going on in the back.

43. Kobukuro (5) コブクロ STAY

As with aiko, Kobukuro is an act I keep listening to, waiting for the day I finally find a song I like from them. The lack of a proper intro for this song tells me they’re running behind schedule again. It happens.

44. Akiko Wada (33) 和田アキ子 Mōichido Futari de Uta Itai もう一度ふたりで歌いたい

The whole program is now running ahead so now they’re wasting time. Well done. Aku Yuu really was a master lyricist. I wouldn’t listen to this song separately but I’m enjoying this performance.

45. Kiyoshi Hikawa (10) 氷川きよし Tokimeki no Rumba ときめきのルンバ

Shiny shiny shiny. Nothing particularly special about this song. Though it’s clever the way they turned “aishiterunda”  (I love you) into “aishiterumba.”

Another (!) dress change for Nakama Yukie. And another rushed intro. Cameraman spot!

46. Sayuri Ishikawa (32) 石川さゆり Tsugaru Kaikyō Fuyu Geshiki 津軽海峡・冬景色

I like Ishikawa Sayuri, I like this song, love the kimono. I’ve heard it a couple times too often though, so I’d like it if she performed something else next year. Really nice kimono. I like the hair decs too, though the hair looks pulled back a little tight.

47. Ayaka (4) 絢香 Minna Sora no Shita みんな空の下

This was her final release before she took a break from music, I believe? That’s what Nakama Yukie is saying. Boring song with the usual “Do your best” lyrics. They could have picked a better performer for the last but one performer at Kohaku. Was Ayaka really that popular? I keep waiting for the song to end and she keeps singing.

48. SMAP (17) Soto Kyutto ~ Sekai ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana そっと きゅっと〜世界に一つだけの花

SMAP-kun-tachi. Their current song of that year and then the usual Sekai ni Hitotsu. For me, doing a medley of the song you’re currently promoting with one of your past hits seems like an admission of failure. Like your song didn’t make it on its own so you have to package it with something better. Sotto Kyutto isn’t too bad, in a typical boy band ballad song. Oh I see, Toshiyuki the special judge wrote and composed Sekai ni Hitotsu. That’s nice. The idea behind the song is nice, so I understand why it became such a hit. Why is misono distracting Last Boss in the middle of a performance?

49. DREAMS COME TRUE (featuring Fuzzy Control) (13) Sono Saki e ~Kōhaku Special Version~ その先へ 〜紅白スペシャルバージョン〜

You know, I never see Dreams Come True mixing in with the crowd or doing those little skits and plays. They must have it written into their contracts somewhere. A different song from them, “Middle of Nowhere.” And now “Sono Saki e.” Neither one is really rocking me so I’m playing Granblue Poker. I’m almost out of chips. I’m not winning at all… I can’t even get up to 8000 chips. This sucks.

50. Saburō Kitajima (46) 北島三郎 Matsuri まつり

Sabu-chan! I gave my thoughts about this two years ago, was it? Has everybody got a fan? No, go get some more. Etc, etc.

Results: The White team won yet again. I think the Reds finally got a pity win the following year, but this 60th edition is the last one I remember watching with rapt attention.

Watched Gundam 00 Season 2 + the movie

Yes, I said I would watch it and I did… and it almost killed this blog. Was it bad? No, honestly I enjoyed most of  Gundam 00 Season 2 more than the first season. The ending was highly implausible and a little overly optimistic given the nature of human beings, but it was… serviceable. Acceptable, even. The movie, I shouldn’t have watched. It was exhausting, pointless, aliens? in my Gundam? It’s more likely than you think! And by the end I was all Gundammed out. Not just Gundammed out but anime-d out, it took me two weeks to touch any episode of any other show.

Final thoughts: I marathoned both seasons so fast that they’re a blur now. I want to forget I ever watched any of this stuff. It was such a cheerless, joyless, tedious show. At least I did learn that I prefer the Gundam Seed/Wing-type BOOM POW KAPOW overpowered Gundams to these useless weaklings with their ridiculous ideas and incompetent leadership. So from an anime watcher’s point of view it’s good to know what you like and what you don’t like.

Apart from that, I’ve got nothing left to say about Gundam 00. It’s good to get it off my backlog. It doesn’t mean I won’t watch any more Gundam. And it got me pretty involved when I was watching. But… now that it’s all over… what did I watch it for? It was so crappy, so unsatisfying, such a waste of time… *sigh* I want those 2000 minutes of my life back… <— That’s how I felt when I finished the whole show + the movie.

Oh. I supposed I’d better comment on my wishlist from last time:

The overall story needs to make sense – It did, more or less. I won’t spoil. I don’t care enough to spoil

Better planning, strategy and reconnaissance from all parties but especially the Gundams – NOPE. There were flashes of brilliance here and there, but everything always fizzled to naught. Nobody ever had a backup plan in case the first one didn’t work, it was just ridiculous. And I lost count of the number of battles that turned into skirmishes – you hit me, I hit you, we kill a few grunt pilots, everyone retreat!

More Tieria back story – This we got. Pretty straightforward stuff, and Tieria becomes much less of a jerk and much more of a useful, sympathetic character as the show progresses. This part I enjoyed.

Less Saji and Louise – Ha. No.

Less Setsuna, less Mari-whatshername – Ha. Of course not, Setsuna is the main character. But there was less focus on Marina and she didn’t turn into the second coming of Lacus Clyne, so we should be grateful for that much.

Enough talking about Gundam 00. It wasn’t bad but it made me feel bad. It’s that kind of show. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to hunt for something light and fluffy and actually interesting to clean the bad taste from my mouth.

Classroom of the elite animefangirl

Classroom of the Elite anime review

Hmm, this is bizarre. I enjoyed it when I was watching it, but Classroom of the Elite (Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou Shugi no Kyoushitsu e) is rapidly fading from my memory now. That’s bad, isn’t it? Or rather it’s a testament to how badly the show dropped the ball in its second half.

Blurb: In the not too distant future, the Japanese government has established the Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing School, dedicated to instructing and fostering the generation of people that will support the country in the future. The story follows the perspective of Kiyotaka Ayanokōji, a quiet and unassuming boy who is not good at making friends and would rather keep his distance. He is a student of D-class, which is where the school dumps its inferior students in order to ridicule them. After meeting Suzune Horikita and Kikyō Kushida, two other students in his class, Kiyotaka’s situation begins to change.(wikipedia as usual)

Or, to summarize even further, “Emotionless, overpowered main character solves trivial problems on school campus.” Your enjoyment of the show will depend a lot on how much you like stoic, clever characters and how cute you think the girls are.

Where Classroom of the Elite first goes wrong is in not showing what’s so bad about being in Class D. When you’re in Yale, you’re in Yale. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re in class A or B or C. The whole premise of the show is about Kiyotaka teaming up with Horikita to make it to class A, but apart from a matter of personal pride it just seems like a hollow, pointless achievement.

Fan speculation has it that the entire Class D will be kicked out before graduation, but there is nothing in the show to support it – unless it’s one of those “Read the light novel” deals. So that being the case, the obsession of certain students with getting to Class A and the lengths their teacher will go through to get them there all seem pretty weird. You have all the privileges and facilities available to you whether you’re in class A or class D so why struggle so hard to rise higher?

If you can’t get behind or understand the motivations of the key characters then from the start the anime is in trouble And yet I still enjoyed Classroom of the Elite for what it was worth. Which wasn’t too much, but it wasn’t bad. The characters were interesting. I like pseudo-harems where the girls aren’t actively competing and have lives and objectives outside being the main character’s girlfriend. The inventive methods used to get around obstacles were interesting as well. I hope to see more uses of points to get around problems in the future.

But still, the element of “What am I fighting for!” runs strong in this one. It feels very pointless at times. And what’s worse, sometimes the show itself loses sight of that supposed goal. Episode 6 was a horrendously boring farce dedicated to stopping a peeping plot. Couldn’t they have cut that out? Halfway through the final arc there’s a panty-stealing crime as well, like, is that really necessary? Does anyone care? The studio must be really confident of getting a season two if they’re willing to waste two episodes out of twelves on breasts and panties.

Classroom of the Elite makes for a fun binge watch, but it’s a little too unfocused to make a lasting impression. As I said, they need to explain what’s so good about class A and what’s so bad about class D. The rest of the show is fine, but without that fundamental basis established it’s hard to care. Failing that, they could explain more about Kiyotaka’s history and motivations. Anything to make us invested in the story.

As it is, it’s not that good a show. Great premise, nice character designs, cute characters, no lasting impact. Watch or watch not, you’re not missing anything either way.

gundam 00 tieria is so cute when he cries

Gundam 00 first season impressions

Gundam 00 is the first Gundam series I’ve watched seriously since Gundam Seed Destiny ended. I loved the first two-thirds of of Seed Destiny, btw. How did it fall apart so horribly? But that’s a story for another day.

After Destiny ended, I watched the movies of the original Gundam 0079. Interesting stuff, especially for the similarities and differences between it and Seed. And watching Amuro getting Bright-slapped is probably the most satisfying thing in all anime. So that was fun, but not a full series. I followed it up with Zeta Gundam, but I’d downloaded only 5 episodes. Once I ran out I couldn’t decide whether to continue it or not, so I put it on hold… about 7 years ago. I’ll make it my next mecha project after 00. It had potential and I liked Camille.

After Zeta I tried Turn A. Watched at least 10 episodes but it was slow. Really slow. Too much drama, too many cross-dressing shenanigans, nothing I wanted to watch was happening. I skipped to the last episode but obviously it didn’t make much sense. That was it for me and Turn A. Most recently I watched an episode of Victory Gundam… or was it Gundam X? The one with the little boy. Didn’t catch me but I did mean to try a little more.

What’s the point of this long lead in? Nothing! I just like to write. And it does show that I’m not a Gundam hater, no matter how critical I am of it in this and subsequent posts. I watched Gundam 00 because I wanted to enjoy it, and for the most part I did. It had a lot of flaws (dumb protagonists being number one) but I’m only halfway through. That’s why I’ll save judgment until I finish the whole show. A few impressions plus wishlist for season two.

Impressions of Gundam 00 season one
  • gundam 00 animefangirlThe slow build up was a bit frustrating, but the upside is that it helps to keep all the parties and characters distinct in my mind. You’re never left guessing who is who or who is working for who, it’s very easy to follow.
  • The story, such as it is, is easy to understand. More questions have been raised than have been answered so far, but the timeline is clear, the general aims and objectives of the different parties are clear as well. It’s very straightforward.
  • The Gundams aren’t quite as cool as I’d been hoping for. They look decent enough but outside of a few early scenes they don’t act very cool. They get beaten up a lot, which any wrestling fan can tell you reduces your cool factor by 0.1% for every blow. Their weapons are either not interesting (yawn beam saber) or are rarely used even when they should be (Dynames’s long-distance rifle, Kyrios’s pincers).
  • The Gundams need more strategy. The enemies seem to do a lot of planning and thinking about how to take the Gundams down. The Gundams just rely on luck and their superior firepower and armor. That makes some of the battles hair-rippingly frustrating (episode 15!!).
  • setsuna is such a weaklingI can’t decide whether I like the relative weakness of the Gundams or not. On one hand it’s a nice change from the KIRA STOMPS nature of Seed/Destiny and the AIEEEE IT’S A GUNDAAAM nature of Wing. On the other hand, I watch Gundams to see stuff getting blown up, pink explosions everywhere, so 00 is a little dull so far. Ask me again at the end of the show.
  • It’s great how the enemy combat leaders are seasoned and competent and give the Gundams (a.k.a. Gundumbs) a run for their money. TBH I often found myself rooting for them, especially for Sergei of the Human Reform League. Smart, compassionate, skilled… why couldn’t he be the main character?
  • Seeing the tables turned on the Gundams in the last few episodes of the season was GLORIOUS. Smarts + firepower trump simple firepower every time. QED.
  • The last episodes of the season were a huge disappointment. Enemies coming out of nowhere and attacking with very little motivation, unimpressive final boss, ugly mecha, wasted buildups etc etc. But to explain would involve spoiling so I will refrain.
Wishlist for season two
  • The overall story needs to make sense. They’re doing well keeping things logical so far and I’d like them to keep doing so. That’s my main wish.
  • Second biggest wish: better planning, strategy and reconnaissance from all parties but especially the Gundams. They approach battle like they’re in Gundam Wing but they have all the might of an light novel protagonist in front of a truck. Their piloting skills are only so-so so they need to compensate with brains. That goes double for you, Ms. “tactical forecaster” Sumeragi.
  • More Tieria back story. Horrible fashion sense aside, he had the most professional attitude out of all the Gundam pilots. Everyone else got their flashback, now it’s Tieria’s turn.
  • Less Saji and Louise. Please.
  • Less Setsuna, less Mari-whatshername. A forlorn wish, I know.
  • Cooler mecha. I can forgive it in Knight’s & Magic and Aldnoah Zero, but Gundam is the mech show. If the lead mecha don’t make me go “I want all of them!” something is wrong.

That’s it. A very short wishlist because there wasn’t that much wrong with the show apart from the lack of strategy in the battles. Trying to shoot your way out of everything against enemies that are more experienced and better prepared than you doesn’t work very long, which the show illustrates well. And now that they’ve illustrated it, I’d like them to do something about it. Let’s see if they do.

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