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Sunday, June 22, 2014

USA ties Portugal:

The battle in the group of death continues.  USA and Portugal exchanged goals and leads to the very end, resulting in a depressing 2-2 tie.  A win was only 30 seconds from our grasp, but a tie should serve as well.  Now, if we either tie or beat Germany, we get through to the next round.  In addition, even if we lose to Germany, so long as Portugal ties or beats Ghana, we still go the next round, due to goal differential.  We're basically a lock for the next round, which is something most experts said was impossible going into this tournament.

Not only are we getting through this gauntlet, we played a heck of a good game against Portugal, with great goal-scoring opportunities, beautiful passes and shots, amazing goalkeeping, good play from our substitutes, and a satisfying amount of ball possession.  We looked like a totally different team than when we played Ghana.  Even though we beat Ghana and only tied Portugal, this was definitely the USA's finest performance in a long time.

The story for Russia and Japan isn't as good, though they aren't technically eliminated yet.  The third game will determine everything for all three of my favorites.

Meanwhile, Random Curiosity has its new summer anime preview up.  Unlike Cart Driver, it's optimistic about practically all of the coming series.  Glasslip, Locodol, Aldnoah.Zero, Barakamon, Jinsei, Sabagebu, Akame ga Kill, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Himegoto, Ao Haru Ride, Hanayamata, Majimoji Rurumo, Zankyou no Terror, Tokyo ESP, Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance, and Rokujouma no Shinryakusha all look worthwhile to at least check out.  I didn't like Persona 4, but it was wildly popular, so perhaps this Persona 4 Golden Remake will also be good this time around.

When you combine these promising series with known good sequels and remakes like Sailor Moon Crystal, SAO II, Fate/Kaleid Liner 2wei, Yama no Susume Second Season, and Hanamonogatari, the summer season might be even better than the current spring crop.  The summer season is only two weeks away, so it's okay to get hyped a little bit.  We're really down to the last home stretch before the greatness of Sword Art finally resumes.

The summer season will continue to host Jojo's, Fairy Tail, Hunter x Hunter, Naruto, One Piece and Pretty Cure as well.  That's a great start to any anime season, so it's difficult to see how this summer could go wrong.  However, I will say there's one series missing from this list whose absence pangs me more as each day goes by:  Bleach.  I feel like the Bleach anime is the one series with the most potential to improve if it were told all the way to the end.  I don't know how many more episodes would be needed, but there were just plain too many mysteries left unanswered when the Bleach anime ended.  The nature of the Soul King, Ichigo's roots, Aizen's true desires, the true nature of Kenpachi's lieutenant, the bankais of at least half the cast still unused, so on and so forth.  Bleach with all these mysteries solved would be such a fantastic series, it could even be in the top 10 of all time.  Bleach without any of these mysteries solved is, at best, on the level of Ojamajo Doremi, which also blew it all with a rotten ending.  The difference in that action potential is a crying shame, maybe the worst tragedy in anime history.  Why was Bleach cancelled instead of just put on hiatus like Fairy Tail?  We'll never know, but now we're all paying the price for that decision.

PapaKiki is probably the second worst oversight in anime.  It could be a much longer series, and should have been, but inscrutably the opportunity was passed over.  The third biggest mistake is the lack of an adaptation of Key's latest visual novel, Rewrite.  I can forgive Japan a lot, but these three decisions are just plain unacceptable.  I'll keep complaining about them until the day I die.

We must make do with what we have, however.  The Wind Rises came out and is available for viewing, Miyazaki's last anime film.  It was okay, but lacks the spark that his earlier works so impressed me with.  Spirited Away and Mononoke Hime are just on a completely different level.  This movie happened to be my 500th anime I've watched in full or at least three episodes of.  Once the summer season begins, that number will easily reach 510, at which point I'm supposed to provide a list of top 170 anime rankings.  However, I don't even have enough good series to list all the way up to 160, so this 170 landmark will once again just pass by in silence.  It's a shame, but the world of good anime isn't actually infinitely deep.  For now, I'll try to get my list up to 160.  170 can come some other day.

Once the last episode of Brynhildr airs, I encourage people to go back and read the manga starting at chapter 40.  The anime isn't exactly wrong, but it skips so much manga content that it may as well be.  You'll enjoy the series much more once you get to see all the extra portions that were left on the cutting floor.  Perhaps more importantly, the manga is still ongoing, so you'll get to see what happens next long after the anime is over.

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