12-sai is looking to be an inoffensive but also redundant work of art. I don't see anything here that's new or interesting compared to previous shoujo stories.
Mumei, anime's most beautiful woman in episode #1 of Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, has been radically re-imagined as a battle angel alita clone. She's completely unrecognizable in this new form and no longer pretty in the least. It's a crying shame. At least I took plenty of pictures when I had the chance. Also, the Attack on Titan copycatting continues, with the humans afraid of a human who can become a titan, oh, I mean, a kabane, and questioning whose side he is on, etc. I like the art and the action sequences, but a plot that so thoroughly plagiarizes another popular work is detestable. I can't end up giving this show too much credit if it continues to so perfectly mirror its predecessor.
Kuromukuro had a nice third episode, though it was a lot slower paced than the previous two. At this point I think the story is too simplistic to go very far though. I prefer interesting situations like in Classroom Crisis where you don't just kill mindless alien invaders all day.
Macross Delta has also lost a lot of its momentum. It lost its humor somewhere along the way, and has become more of a shonen action training arc nonsense that's better simply skipped because it's too boring to waste time on as a viewer. Just say "after that he practiced flying every day and gradually improved, the end." How is the viewer any worse off? We want to see the moments in his life that are decisive, not humdrum.
Naruto: Itachi Shinden doesn't show enough material from the parts of his life we don't know about and shows way too much material about the parts of his life we already knew about. I consider the arc an overall failure even though its beginning was so promising. Real Naruto begins May 5th. Just two weeks left. Surely from here on they'll continue until the end of the manga. It would be madness to put any additional filler in after all they've done already.
Netoge no Yome turned the protagonist into a complete asshole. He won't be Ako's boyfriend because 'games are different from real life,' but when she tries to meet up with another man, he tells her she isn't allowed to do that because he's her husband 'in the game.' So which is it? He just says whatever is convenient to him at the moment and jerks her along, a possessive asshole who won't do anything for her but doesn't want anyone else to make her happy either. I just can't say enough how much I detest this man. The problem is Ako is still lovable and the jokes are still funny so the show is still a net positive. But all I can do is hope the male lead suffers every time I see him on screen from here on.
The only show that's exceeding my expectations so far is Sailor Moon. Which brings me to an interesting question. If I'm so against homosexuality, why am I fine with yuri in anime?
First off, there's a huge difference between bisexual women/lesbians and bisexual men/gays. I find it eminently less offensive and more believable for true love to blossom between women. The actual statistics reflect this as well.
Second off, people can tell the difference between fiction and reality. A cute funny yuri romance in anime is just doubly cute when it includes two girls instead of a boy and a girl, and what male viewer wouldn't approve of that?
Thirdly, yuri stories are just plain better executed, and thus come off as more natural and compelling romances than pro-gay puff pieces ever manage.
Fourth, in a country that honestly taught students the demerits of being gay in their Health classes, we can afford to have yuri anime floating about romanticizing it. People understand that what they see on tv isn't the same as what happens in real life.
Fifth, gays 'make love' to their partners by physically harming them and giving them horrendous levels of new diseases and ailments for the rest of their life. Anal sex is incredibly unhealthy and unnatural. If you're willing to hurt your partner that much just to satisfy your lust, you must not love him very much, now do you? Women have no such abominable practices, so their lovemaking can actually be making love, and thus worthy of respect.
Sixth, in general, women are statistically better off when they marry men, and men are better off when they marry women, so it's harmful for both sides when all the women desert their menfolk and pair up with each other. I want to prevent this happening at a pervasive level. But anime only deals with the absolute best relationships imaginable in an ideal world between two women. These women are clearly soul mates, destined for each other, infinitely happy together, and couldn't imaginably love anyone else. In a situation like that, it's laughable to try and tear them apart and put them with members of the 'proper' opposite sex. You just have to fold gracefully and let the lovebirds at it when you see a couple as perfect together as Sakura Trick's. Reality isn't normally that beautiful, so it's easy to stomp down on inferior potential couplings and dissuade them from ever happening. If the world were like Sakura Trick, we wouldn't need a government because we'd all be angels anyway.
Seventh, most yuri anime series are only at the level of intense friendships, which I consider to be beautiful and divine, love in its purest form, so who could possibly object to that?
Today had a lot of good manga come out -- One Piece, Bleach, Hunter x Hunter and Naruto. The last two normally don't release anything anymore so we were very lucky to have them. Nevertheless, the Naruto chapter focused on Mitsuki isn't worth much without the context of having seen the Bolt movie. That movie comes out in blu-ray, and thus to the English speaking world, July 6th. It's been a long wait.
Shonen Jump is on vacation next week so that's all we'll be getting for a while.
Speaking of Shonen Jump, I think One Piece's biggest problem is that the men don't hit women. This is a synecdoche of the overall issue that the crew never takes anything seriously. They won't hit women, even when it's necessary to win. They won't kill their opponents, even when it's necessary to win. They won't think before they act and thus avoid traps/trouble, even though it's necessary to stay alive. In Bleach, Ichigo blew Candice's arm off. He punched Isane in the gut. He was willing to beat up the muddy boots girl. Many other men have also fought against women seriously throughout the manga. It's taken as a given that if you're a powerful being using magical powers on the battlefield, things like gender no longer have any meaning. But One Piece is so retrograde that even in a world where women are some of the strongest people in the world they still must be treated like delicate china by all the men. It's revolting.
One Piece isn't worse than all of its similar competitors (Fairy Tail, Naruto and Bleach) just because it's too long, or it doesn't have an ending, or something simple like that. The problem is I can't respect the crew. Sanji is too perverted. Franky loses sight of the bigger picture and concentrates on 'fighting a manly duel' or some other nonsense at the expense of the crew's chances of victory. Brooke is just a complete idiot and fails at everything, even when he should have easily succeeded. Zoro is way too lost, it defies all human logic how he could be that stupid. Luffy is so hotheaded that he callously throws away the lives of his crew and his own life over and over, only to be bailed out by the author through various unbelievable miracles. Usopp is too cowardly and far too willing to abandon his allies in their time of need. Which means the only decent people on the show are Chopper, Nami and Robin, who aren't even given as much time on screen as the others.
Those three are the only characters who take the voyage seriously, and therefore the only characters I can respect and care about. I care about all the Strike Witches, because all of them care about protecting the world from Neuroi. That's a huge difference. For that matter, I respect Vivi, who tried her best to protect Alabasta. I care about Shirahoshi, who tried her best to protect Fishman Isle (though, admittedly, in an incredibly naive manner.) I care about Whitebeard, who fought to the bitter end for his principles.
When the side characters of your series outshine the mains, there's a huge problem. And this will never change, because Oda thinks these foibles are funny, and he loves gags more than the plot. I think the reason I loved One Piece so much for so long is that it was originally focused on the more serious characters -- Nami, then Chopper, then Vivi, then Robin, and soon after that Shirahoshi and her amazing mother Otohime. Also, Zoro used to act more seriously in the past, as did Sanji, so it was easier to overlook their faults. Even Usopp used to be much braver when he was protecting his own island from harm, or when he fought Luffy over the Merry-go, and Luffy also seemed to have a more serious side when seriousness was called for.
Will One Piece ever regain its former grandeur? I don't believe so, because the plot simply isn't heading in a direction that lends itself to seriousness. Only a miracle could see Luffy's crew defeating any of the Yonkou. So only hijinks will occur for the rest of this arc. Random nonsense will somehow miraculously dig them out of yet another hole they dug themselves into, but if they had been acting seriously they never would have tried these stunts. Taking on Kaidou and Big Mom at the same time? Really?
His plan to defeat Shanks is just insulting. Shanks gave his arm to save Luffy's life, and this is how Luffy repays him? Ugh. And as for Blackbeard, Luffy simply stands no chance. The Darkness fruit is already better than the Rubber fruit, and the Quake fruit is supposedly the strongest in the world. Blackbeard has both, plus a crew of combat specialists, not just random fun companions like Luffy's picked up.
Beyond the Yonkou are the marines, and Luffy still stands no chance against the admirals. So some sort of asspull will be used to get the crew through that fight too. Shichibukai are the limit of the Straw Hat's strength, as has been shown yet again in Dressrosa where it took tons of outside help to beat just one Shichibukai. Anything beyond that is unbelievable. They would need an extraordinary power-up to get any further than this. Maybe if they got a powerful logia user to join the crew, it would become more balanced. But as it is they're just hopelessly outclassed. I don't even think Jimbei joining would be any help, because we saw the limit of his strength at Marineford (no chance against Akainu.)
Plus, we're at the phase in this story where character counts are going to decrease from here on, not increase. There won't be any new Vivis or Shirahoshis. They're heading for Raftel and fighting the last bosses of the series. Because One Piece takes a long time to do anything, I realize it'll still be decades before we see the ending, but the foreshadowing has told us what to expect from here, and there isn't going to be anymore 'go to an island, meet the new inhabitants, make new friends' stuff from here on. If any new crew members join the Straw Hats, it'll be from a pool of people we already know. There's no chance for any dramatically awesome new character to appear and steal our hearts away anymore. There are no Wendy Marvels waiting in the wings.
I resent the anime for endlessly slowing down the pace, just like I resent Naruto for its overuse of flashbacks and filler. But it's not even about that. The manga itself is the problem. And that's a problem no adaption can fix.