Mama Is a 5th Grader???: Galaxy Express 999’s Maetel in Shinkalion Z

I don’t necessarily feel obligated to write about every crossover character in the Shinkalion franchise, but when she’s a rendition of one of my favorite heroines from one of my most beloved anime, I just have to say something.

Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion Z has continued the propensity for surprising cameos by introducing a new character based on the mysterious Maetel from Galaxy Express 999. Given that she comes from a manga that prominently features a space vehicle shaped like an old steam locomotive, Maetel is arguably a more sensible guest character than Shinji from Evangelion or Hatsune Miku. However, the fact that she turns out to be a Shinkalion pilot feels like an even bigger (but still welcome) twist.

Maetel, in this case, is not the charming and motherly figure who gives an orphan boy a train pass to go on a never-ending journey to the stars. Rather, she’s an 11-year-old from Hokkaido who has trouble talking in person but likes listening to ham radio and 70s enka. In the story of Shinkalion Z, she learns about Shinkalions through a broadcast by a confused and forlorn antagonist from the first series, and discovers the existence of the Shinkansen Ultra Evolution Institute that commands the Shinkalions. Key to this is someone who’s clearly the commander of the Institute from the first series, thinly disguised. Having made a handful of appearances since Episode 20, she reveals her own Shinkalion in Episode 28: The Shinkalion Z H5 Hayabusa.

It’s pretty much impossible for Shinkalion Z to have kept any of Maetel’s original backstory, so I understand why they went a very different route. Her Shinkalion is also the spiritual successor of Hatsune Miku’s, the latter of whom has a connection to Hokkaido through the annual Snow Miku festival—but I’m not sure if there’s any such relationship this time  Somewhat like Miku (who uses a different kanji for Hatsu-ne in this anime), her name is slightly off in Shinkalion Z: Her full name, Tsukino Maetel (“Maetel of the Moon”), is a sideways reference to Hoshino Tetsurou (“Tetsurou of the Stars”), the main character of Galaxy Express 999

While the aesthetic of Shinkalion is quite different from Galaxy Express 999, I hope they can incorporate the latter somehow. The gimmick of Shinkalion Z is that the bullet-train robots can combine with other trains for upgrades—could the H5 Hayabusa get some steam-locomotive arms?

Shinkalion Z episodes are typically only available for free on YouTube for a week or two, so that’s why I’m posting this now. In a rare moment, Episodes 21 through 27 are available until the 30th of November, so if you want to see more of Tsukino Maetel, now’s your chance.

Megalobox, Nomad, and Science Fictional Development

Nomad is the sequel to science-fiction boxing anime Megalobox. Though the two series differ overall in terms of substance, they complement each other incredibly well. It’s rare that you get a sequel that manages to be both its own thing and connect well to the original, but this is what Nomad accomplishes. That being said, I realize I never actually reviewed Megalobox, so consider this a kind of two-for-one deal. I promise I’ve done my best to not spoil either series.

While writing about both shows together is convenient for me, doing so also helps highlight the strengths of each more clearly in my mind. Megalobox was made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the seminal boxing manga Ashita no Joe. It’s impossible to overestimate the cultural footprint of Ashita no Joe in Japan, from the general love of cross counters (Joe’s go-to move) to the iconic final moments of the series with the protagonist Yabuki Joe slumped dead in his chair at the ring corner, smiling. What Megalobox does is take the DNA of that all-time classic and tell a similar-yet-different story. Instead of the story of an orphaned street punk who discovers a passion for boxing, it’s about a similar character (also named Joe) doing so in a futuristic setting where technology has become part-and-parcel with the sport—now named “Megaloboxing.” All boxers now where equipment on their arms (known as “Gear”) in order to hit harder and faster, with eventually one notable exception: Joe himself.

Megalobox follows a more conventional route for a boxing story, focused on an underdog who rises through the ranks. If you’ve seen Rocky and the like, it’s of a similar vein, though the SF aspects brought in by Gear and all the money surrounding the technology make the divide between the haves and have-nots far more pronounced. Megalobox is great storytelling from beginning to end, with great artwork and music to boot, and I even liked the way the future setting was incorporated into the narrative. However, a part of me felt like it was more often an aesthetic flourish, and that the story could be told about as well if it were just set in the modern day without all the cybernetics.

Not so with Nomad

Taking place a few years after the end of the first anime, Nomad sees the characters older and in most cases very different places. Here, not only is the plot less about characters striving to succeed in the sport of Megaloboxing, and more about the struggle of just being alive. Migrant discrimination, drug addiction, and severed bonds among family are among the topics explored in Nomad, where the sense of a world on the brink of dystopia looms large but also feels close to home.

Here, Megaloboxers’ Gear take on a more vital role in more ways than one. More than just being a way to augment one’s skills in the ring, the way each Megaloboxer views and utilizes them tells stories about how they’ve gone through life. Ast the series progresses, one particular Gear is at the forefront of a potential scientific revolution, but the ethical aspects of its development become of central import to the overall story. Whereas Megalobox felt like a boxing story with science fiction elements in it, Nomad is more the other way around in the best way possible. It’s not just SF because it features newfangled technology, but it challenges viewers to think about the influence and repercussions such changes would have on individuals, society, and humanity. 

In conclusion, watch Megalobox. Then, once you’re done, watch Nomad. It’s hard to find a one-two combo as strong and as impactful. 

Real Character: Love Live! Superstar!!

In my estimation, Love Live! Superstar!! is the best Love Live! anime from a storytelling perspective. It doesn’t necessarily have my favorite characters, but what it brings is a sense of both personal and interpersonal development that feels satisfyingly cohesive and speaks to real worries that people have. 

Superstar!! is the story of Shibuya Kanon, a girl who is a wonderful singer but is constantly held back by severe stage fright. Over the years, her optimism has waned, especially after she failed to get into Yuigaoka Academy’s prestigious music program due to freezing up during auditions. Resigned to enter its general curriculum instead, Kanon thinks singing will only ever be a private thing for her, but that all changes when she’s discovered by Tang Keke, a student from Shanghai. Keke loves school idols (essentially idols who act as mascots for their school), and she thinks Kanon would be perfect for it. However, not only does Shibuya feel that she simply doesn’t have it in her—the school itself forbids school idols as something that would drag down its reputation.

Kanon’s sense of defeat at the start of the series feels all too real, and it’s what makes the generally positive attitude of Superstar!! that much more poignant. Kanon stands out from past Love Live! heroines because her struggle reflects a genuine doubt that comes from believing she is physically and mentally unable to pursue her dreams. But thanks to the friendships fostered with Keke and the other eventual members of the group (not a spoiler because they all appear in the opening), as well as the way they help each other rise to the occasion, her gradual steps to overcoming her situation feel well earned.

All this applies to the other girls as well. Whether it’s Keke’s enthusiasm often running ahead of her ability, Arashi Chisato’s relationship with both dancing and her childhood friend in Kanon, Jeanna Sumire’s frustration with being a former child actor who always seemed destined to never shine, or Hazuki Ren’s conflict between upholding her family’s honor and her own desires, there are challenges each of them face that feel simple yet profound. The hope they give each other fights back against the fear in them, and helps them stand.

The fact that there are only five girls (instead of nine or more) also helps greatly with making the series feel more complete. Not only does it give more time for each character’s story to develop, but there’s a far better sense of how they complement one another. When you have nine-plus like Superstar!!’s predecessors, they often seem like well rounded groups just through sheer brute force. With a smaller main cast, their connections feel deeper without having to delve into ancillary material (drama CDs, etc.). It also results in what I think is the most robust cast overall—it’s hard to pick a definitive favorite, but I lean towards Keke.

Unlike Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club, which began with character designs more in line with the previous series and then given a different spin for its anime, the Superstar!! designs have been their own thing from the start. This gives this generation a somewhat different visual impression overall, and the animation does a great job of having both that idol sheen and a sense of the personal. The songs are standard idol/Love Live! fare but fun and uplifting, while the physical performances are portrayed incredibly well. They do an especially good job of showcasing Chisato’s superior dance skills compared to the rest of the cast.

Out of all the Love Live! anime, this is the one I would most readily recommend to people unfamiliar or wary of idols and idol-related media. The story of Kanon and the others feels like it exists a little beyond the parameters of idoldom, and thus more accessible while also just being really solid and beautiful overall. While this season ends well, there’s little doubt that a second season is coming. I can’t wait.

The Ginguiser Crowdfund: Only 24 Hours Left to Help Preserve This Retro Mecha Anime!

Back in January this year, I posted about a crowdfund by the anime studio Nippon Animation to digitally preserve one of their obscure giant robot anime from the 1970s, Blocker Corps IV Machine Blaster, and avoid being left with only the original deteriorating film prints. While it looked to be in danger of not making it, the crowdfund was successful. Now they’re back to raise money to archive another one of their quirky 70s mecha series: Super-Transforming Magic Robo Ginguiser. Unfortunately, I only discovered this crowdfund very recently, and now there’s only 24 hours left to fund it as of this post!

Ginguiser, like Machine Blaster, is not exactly the most timeless anime around. But it’s still a part of anime and mecha history, and I feel it’s important to make sure we make even the possibility of a high-quality release someday a likelihood. I mentioned it briefly in my overview of 1977 for the Golden Ani-Versary back in 2013, but mainly to share the amazing image above. Check out the opening by Sasaki Isao of Space Battleship Yamato and Getter Robo fame!

Readyfor.jp is a Japanese-only site, so it can be tricky to navigate, and it doesn’t make donating from abroad easy. For the convenience of those who want to contribute but hit a language barrier, I’ve provided the same guide to donating as in my previous Machine Blaster post.

First, you’ll have to make an account on the site. At the top-right corner is a red button for logging in and creating an account. From there, you can either choose to register directly with readyfor.jp by clicking the red button on the right, or via Facebook using the button below it.

The blank spaces above, from top to bottom, are “user name,” “email address,” “password,” and “password again.” Then you’ll get a confirmation email, in which you’ll have to click a link to confirm your registration.

From there, if you go back to the Ginguiser project, you’ll see another red button to the right of the main image. That’s the donate button, and it’ll take you to a page where you can choose how much you want to put in. Unlike other crowdfunding sites, you can only select along preset amounts, so the minimum is 3,000 yen, which gets you a thank-you message and updates via email. The most expensive one, at 70,000 yen, is Ginguiser soft-vinyl figures. At the bottom, you’ll have the choice to pay via credit card or bank account. For payments outside of Japan, it’s probably better to use a credit card just because bank info in Japan can be very specific and have aspects that other countries don’t.

This is where it gets tricky. After putting in your credit card info, you’ll have to add your address as well. However, the form is not formatted for non-Japanese addresses, so you’ll have to work around it. Thankfully, if you just kind of fill it in as you would a normal address (and ignore the actual meanings of each form space, in case you can read Japanese), then it works out. Another crowdfund on readyfor.jp has provided a helpful screenshot, which I’ve also provided here. Note how the postal code in Japanese is just filled out as 111-1111. The only blank spaces this image isn’t showing are for your name.

From there, you hit the last button at the bottom and confirm your contribution! You can also write a message in the space provided.

I hope Ginguiser can make it! And if you’re the curious sort, there’s actually a Ginguiser tag on the Japanese art site Pixiv. Warning: Some images are NSFW!

Away with Ads: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for November 2021

Readers may have noticed something different this month: Ogiue Maniax is now ad-free! And right in time for this blog’s anniversary!

I felt that the ads were getting more and more intrusive on the blog if you don’t use any sort of ad block, so I’ve been wanting to do something for a while now.

I’ve also had my Patreon going for more than a few years now, and I wanted the money to go more directly to giving my readers a better experience when reading my posts. I’m thankful to my patrons for allowing me to talk about the new anime season or giant robots or whatever, with special gratitude to the following this month:

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from October:

The Anime THEY Don’t Want You to Know About: Makyou Densetsu Acrobunch

I reviewed a lesser known but quite peculiar mecha anime from the 1980s.

The Best Sports Manga You’re Not Reading: Shoujo Fight

My long overdue general review of thia fantastic volleyball manga.

Sora in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Gameplay Thoughts

My personal take on the style and potential of the final DLC character.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 45 might just be my favorite chapter to date. Things are coming to a head between Akira and Jin!

Kio Shimoku’s Twitter has been buzzing with preparation for both his collected-volume releases in September. In a rare treat, he’s actually been retweeting fans who are supporting both Spotted Flower and Hashikko Ensemble, which is how I got retweeted by the man himself!

Apartment 507

A look at the farewell episode for Jigen Daisuke’s retiring veteran voice actor in Lupin III.

Closing

The two things that have my attention as of late are the final Hakai-oh: Gaogaigar vs. Betterman novel and Super Robot Wars 30, which features that very same story. I’m in a constant internal struggle as to which I prioritize. Do I spoil the novel or the game?

This month is also Anime NYC, and I’ll likely end up going. It’s smaller than New York Comic Con, so I predict it’ll be safer, but it’ll still be important to exercise best COVID-19 prevention practices. Remember, vaccinations will be required!

A Tribute of Violence and Reverence: Getter Robo Arc

Getter Robo Arc is one of the most unusual Getter Robo anime ever, doing what none of its predecessors even bothered to try: Be a generally faithful adaptation of the manga. This choice is all the more unusual because 1) the manga never finished, and 2) watching any (or even all) of the previous Getter Robo anime only prepares you to a certain degree. But Getter Robo Arc has different priorities than many anime, including its predecessors, and that’s to be a letter of love and gratitude to the original creator of Getter Robo, the late Ishikawa Ken.

Getter Robo Arc is the story of Nagare Takuma, son of the original head pilot of Getter Robo, Nagare Ryouma. Having experienced tragedy and now filled with a desire for revenge, he travels to the Saotome Research Institute (the home of Getter Robo) to get some answers. However, heading the Institute is his father’s old co-pilot, Jin Hayato, and the old scientist recognizes in Takuma the same fiery spirit as Ryouma. Hayato draws Takuma into piloting the mighty Getter Robo Arc against a mysterious force from beyond the cosmos bent on wiping out humanity known as the Andromeda Stellaration, and joining him are Takuma’s friend Yamagishi Baku, a psychically gifted monk whose older brother also has ties to Getter Robo, and Shou Kamui, a half-dinosaur descended from the first Getter Robo’s enemies. As they battle, their struggle takes them to the core truths of what the mysterious “Getter Energy” is.

It’s difficult to exaggerate how varied the Getter Robo anime prior to Arc have been. Sometimes they’re approximate counterparts to manga versions with the edges shaved off a little, like with Getter Robo, Getter Robo G, and Getter Robo Go. Sometimes they’re heavily reimagined sequels and reboots that play with elements of the franchise like Lego blocks, as is the case with Shin Getter Robo Armageddon, Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo, and New Getter Robo. So while Getter Robo Arc is supposed to be the last manga entry and the direct sequel to every manga version before it, watching literally every anime that has come out before will give you a rough preparation for what’s going on, but there will inevitably be a lot of blank spaces to fill out in terms of understanding. Someone coming in with this as their very first Getter Robo anime may feel lost for at least two or three episodes.

Yet, even with this confusing aspect of the series and animation that comes across in the best of times as desperately trying to make the best of limited talent and resources, I really enjoyed the ride that Getter Robo provides. Even if Takuma, Kamui, and Baku can never stay on-model from scene to scene, the anime conveys their intensity in spades. Though the story feels like a rickety minecart, the franchise’s general emphasis on the positives and negatives of limitless human potential ring loudly here in a way that shows the original manga’s undeniable influence on works like Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann. And while the battles aren’t quite as gorgeous as the ones found in the 2000s OVAs like Armageddon, they’re still impressive and exciting. 

I didn’t go into this show knowing what I’m about to mention, but I think it can be important for fans to know an important SPOILER about the Arc manga:

It never finished.

Similar to Miura Kentaro’s recent passing and Berserk, Getter Robo Arc and Getter Robo as a whole are in a state of limbo because of Ishikawa’s death in 2006. While the question of whether Berserk will continue is still unknown, the anime version of Arc barely adds anything extra to the cliffhanger that greets viewers by the end. I can’t say I’m entirely satisfied with that approach, as I think it wouldn’t have been a terrible idea to at least try—the manga’s still there, after all. But much like with Miura and Berserk, it might not have felt appropriate to take a generally faithful manga adaptation to a conclusion not envisioned by an author like Ishikawa, who clearly had an entire universe of Getter in his mind.

Overall, Getter Robo Arc comes across as crude and inconsistent in execution, yet filled with love and passion. In a way, it perfectly encapsulates the Getter spirit. It does make me wonder if we’ll ever see more Getter Robo anime, but I think that’s, in a way, an inevitability.

Here’s Your Reminder to Watch Thunderbolt Fantasy

This originally began as a review of Thunderbolt Fantasy Season 3, only for me to realize that I never reviewed Season 2 after talking up Season 1. Between that fact and an official confirmation of the next part, I’ve decided to just write about why Thunderbolt Fantasy is still one of the best shows ever. Every time a new season comes out, it is a must-watch

Thunderbolt Fantasy is an Asian-fantasy puppet-theater TV show, and is a Japanese/Taiwanese co-production featuring writer Urobuchi Gen (Madoka Magica) and the Taiwanese company PILI International Multimedia. There has long been a debate as to whether it should be considered “anime,” but I think it qualifies in spirit, if not entirely in letter. Just the openings alone convey an energy that’s hard to match

Opening 1:

Opening 2:

Opening 3:

While I’m not typically into puppets, and have no particular attachment to series like Thunderbirds or StarFleet, Thunderbolt Fantasy just succeeds on so many different levels, from the witty dialogue to the charismatic characters to the overall plot to the exciting visual presentation to the catchy music. Season 1 is overall one of the greatest viewing experiences I’ve ever had, and while there’s something magical about that first story that the sequels have never quite reached, they still get incredibly close. Even when one aspect of the series falters, though, the other factors run on all cylinders. I’m never not entertained while watching. Crucially, Thunderbolt Fantasy continues to deliver on the big moments, and it’s amazing at building up suspense and then delivering a satisfying payoff. 

Thunderbolt Fantasy truly feels like a series that never fails. Even when you think there’s a moment where it jumps the shark, it ends up going so far beyond expectations that the shark jumps over the rider instead. If you haven’t watched it already, I highly recommend starting as soon as possible. It’s an unforgettable experience.

Failure Is Technically in My Vocabulary, but I Choose Not to Acknowledge It to Make a Point: The Great Passage

“An anime about making a dictionary” sounds more like a sleep aid than entertainment, but The Great Passage defies such expectations. It heavily humanizes its story through its characters’ emotional journeys, but it also provides an interesting perspective on the fundamental role of dictionaries and how much we can take that role for granted.

The Great Passage tells the story of Majime Mitsuya, a young and awkward sales rep for Genbu Publishing who gets recruited by the company’s Dictionary Editorial Department. While his shyness and lack of people skills made him terrible for Sales, Majime shows an immense love of the nuanced and myriad ways words can be used. The department’s goal is to release a new dictionary, titled Daitoukai (“The Great Passage”), that would be ideal for modern users to have a robust understanding of how words are used in the here and now. Along the way, Majime makes friends, falls in love, and devotes his life to making Daitoukai a reality.

Majime has a certain magnetism deriving from the fact that while he’s extremely knowledgeable about words, he’s also bad at expressing himself, as if the sheer range of possibilities overwhelms his brain. This irony provides the backdrop for many of the relationships that develop throughout the series, and I appreciate that the story focuses on such an introverted character. The series isn’t subtle about this character trait at all—even stating it outright—but it’s still a very effective portrayal. The central friendship of the series, between Majime and his gregarious and sharp-witted co-worker Nishioka Masashi, sees two very different people with different strengths and weaknesses find ways to lift each other up.

In terms of the depiction of dictionaries, The Great Passage expends as much energy as it can to wax poetic about them. Dictionaries are likened to ships that help guide humans through the darkness, and it’s emphasized repeatedly that no two physical dictionaries are the same. They have to determine which words to keep and how to define them, and this results in different “personalities.” It implies that dictionaries are influenced by the priorities and biases of those who make them, even as they attempt to remain as objective as possible. In a sense, it brings the idea of reading multiple sources for news to a realm commonly considered rather staid and neutral. 

Towards the end of the series, there’s also an examination of the ups and downs of privately versus publicly funded dictionaries. While the series doesn’t delve too deeply into it, it does factor in ideas about the risk of government control over words versus the perils of being beholden to capitalism and the market. Brief though this comparison may be, it’s probably the closest The Great Passage gets to explicitly taking a difficult stance.

A more subtle yet nevertheless present point I find in the series is that it implicitly argues that “having kids” isn’t the be-all, end-all of adult life. There are a handful of couples throughout the series, and a decade-plus time skip halfway through shows where they end up. While one character is shown with children, another character’s situation quietly highlights how two people in love with each other but also possessing their own passions can find fulfillment in dedicating their lives to their respective endeavors.

The Great Passage is ultimately a charming series that takes an elegant approach to an unusual topic. Whether intentional or not, it makes for some impressive marketing for dictionaries, but much like Shinkalion does for bullet trains, it’s hard to fault something so inherently beneficial. The anime often plays it safe in many ways, but there are shadows of more daring positions and beliefs that result in a quietly complex work.

The Anime THEY Don’t Want You to Know About: Makyou Densetsu Acrobunch

For many years, the only impressions I had of the anime Makyou Densetsu Acrobunch were 1) that it has a fantastically beautiful and catchy opening and 2) the vague sense that it’s about a group of adventurers traveling the world in their giant robot. After finally getting the chance to watch the series in full, I find that it simultaneously falls short of and exceeds my expectations.

The premise: Acrobunch follows Rando Tatsuya and his five children on their quest to pursue clues about the legend of “Quaschika,” which is said to be the key to a mysterious treasure. Traveling in their combining giant robot, Acrobunch, they must also contend with the Goblin Society, an ancient underground race that is tens of thousands of years old and seeks the power of Quaschika to take over the surface world and supplant the human race. The characters travel to prominent ancient landmarks/sites (Atlantis, Stonehenge, the Nazca Lines. etc.), get into battles, fall in love, and discover that the secrets they’re after are far beyond what they could have predicted.

Acrobunch is, in a word, inconsistent. From story to animation, the quality swings wildly from meh to marvelous. When you look at the visual presentation, the secondary hero is supposed to be Tatsuya’s youngest son Jun, but he rarely gets plotlines of his own and is often overshadowed by his handsome older brother Hiro. On top of that, he looks anywhere between 10 and 20 years old, depending on who’s drawing him (see also Da Garn). The four Goblin Demon Generals are who the Randos fight the most, and every so often the series reveals a glimpse into their characters, only to hardly build on them further. Examples such as Hiro’s romance/rivalry with the beautiful White General Cera, Black General Groizy’s desire to make Cera his own, or how Blue General Bluzom seems to have a bit of a noble streak all get brought up and then left underexplored. All the storylines involve the search for Quaschika one way or another, but there are definitely some that are more compelling.

Even the robot itself suffers from this, sporting a nice-looking but rather complicated design that results in either Acrobunch looking fantastic (as in the aforementioned opening animated by the endlessly influential Kanada Yoshinori) or terrible (like a Ginguiser reject). That same opening also contributes to the false impression of Hiro’s importance and age. Overall, it’s not even that Acrobunch is too episodic, but just that sometimes there are episodes that hit and sometimes there are ones that miss, regardless of how much each one advances the main story.

Aside from the amazing opening, the main thing about Acrobunch that lingers in the memories of Japanese fans is actually the final episode, and so I think it’s important for me to discuss the big reveal of the series. Stop reading now if you wish to avoid spoilers. 

In episode 24, the characters discover that Quaschika is actually the spirits of a civilization that came from beyond our universe, and who are responsible for starting life as we know it. Whenever a planet’s sentient life-forms get too evil overall, the world and/or universe are destroyed, and the “good souls” are taken by Quaschika to start over again. It sounds like the perfect recipe for a true antagonist that could potentially unite the humans and goblins against a common foe—except that Tatsuya actually enables the world’s destruction and reset to happen! Without blinking an eye, he triggers the transformation, and in the end we see our six heroes and even one of the Goblin Demon Generals spirited off to a new universe as the rest of Earth’s inhabitants are wiped out!

Although it’s a hell of a twist, it doesn’t seem like Tatsuya’s actions are meant to be a kind of villainous reveal. Rather, because Acrobunch’s story takes so much from conspiracy theories, the anime’s curveball finale ends up feeling more like a cousin to the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens mixed with the kind of apocalyptic prophecies you get from cults like Heaven’s Gate or Jonestown. In a sense, Acrobunch is like a cousin to the grimmer works of Tomino Yoshiyuki like Ideon and Zambot 3, but with a further touch of paranoia. The abruptness of it might also be the result of the series getting cut short, and it wasn’t that unusual back then to cap off a canceled anime in the most traumatic way possible, as with Baldios.


Makyou Densetsu Acrobunch doesn’t exactly come out of the gate swinging, but it can be an interesting experience that does enough to build on itself. That doesn’t necessarily prepare viewers for the end of the series that basically explodes everything we knew thus far, but at least it means Acrobunch is hard to forget once you know about it. And as always, there’s that irresistible opening to re-watch over and over.

Ouran High School Ghost Club: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for October 2021

The funny thing about blogging for as long as I have—almost fourteen years, at this point—is that you never know what old entry might somehow get excavated and arrived from the massively convoluted ball of information that is the internet. Or rather, you never know which of your posts managed to have the right accidental SEO to actually survive and be on the front page.

This month, All Elite Wrestling held one of their big pay-per-views, All Out. It was an event with many surprise debuts such as Bryan Danielson (formerly Daniel Bryan) and Adam Cole, and among those appearances was New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s Suzuki Minoru. I myself was watching and yelling at the screen as soon as his music hit, but when I decided to just check my blog stats on a whim, I noticed a huge spike in hits. The reason: Hundreds of people were finding my 2018 blog post about Suzuki’s entrance theme, “Kaze ni Nare.” Somehow, some way, that post is still on the front page when you google the song’s title.

Anyway, I hope the following Patreon sponsors take flight like birds and risk their lives to become the wind:

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from September:

Standing in a Whirl of Confusion—Gundam Reconguista in G Part II: Bellri’s Fierce Charge

My review of the second G-Reco movie. The films continue to impress.

It’s a Secret to Everybody: Giant Gorg

My review of the lesser-known mecha anime Giant Gorg directed by the legendary Yoshikazu Yasuhiko of Gundam fame.

The Unquenching Desire for Villains: 9/11, 20 Years Later

A serious and personal reflection on a moment that changed many lives, including my own.

Hashikko Ensemble

Chapter 44 sees the characters unite in full force, and reveals the softer side of Kousei.

Kio Shimoku’s Twitter has been buzzing with preparation for both his collected-volume releases in September. In a rare treat, he’s actually been retweeting fans who are supporting both Spotted Flower and Hashikko Ensemble, which is how I got retweeted by the man himself!

Apartment 507

A review of 2017’s Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul.

Closing

By next month, the fall anime season will be in full swing. All the big sequels and follow-ups like the new Demon Slayer, JoJo’s, and 86 have my attention. However, the fact that Sunrise is trying their hand again at a new mecha series has my attention. Will Kyoukai Senki be any good, or will it land like a wet fart? The fact that it’s impossible to predict given Sunrise’s track record actually has me more excited.

The final Smash Ultimate DLC character is in just a few days! My dreams will always be with NiGHTS (no pun intended), but I’ll be happy with anyone.

Lastly, speaking of October, New York Comic Con 2021 is on. If you’re going, know that NYC requires full vaccinations for entry for those eligible to get vaccinated. Stay safe.