The rocket is assembled, and we now have to fight a giant monster.

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After this past year’s horrific fire at Kyoto Animation, I found myself looking at all the animated series that Kyoto Animation had done in the past, and found that I had seen so very few of them, and that they were also all on my to-watch list well before the fire. The body of work of the studio was at a level that I’d compare to GAINAX at their prime. So, having read the first volume of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid a couple jobs ago, while I was working in Downtown Portland, I decided to bump that show up on the list. Also, as a part of the weekly anime viewing nights I’d started with my parents after I got my Dad into anime, I decided to add that show to the rotation, sight unseen. The results were favorable, with an asterisk.

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In the Rivers of London series, there’s always been something of a gap between what Thomas Nightengale, The Folly’s “Gov”, was up to between the end of the Second World War and the start of the series. There’s an implication that he’s been involved in varying degrees with the Met, but not heavily – if he had, then the Met wouldn’t have had to come up with the procedures they did when Peter Grant started working out of The Met. The most recent (as of this writing) collected graphic novel in the series, Action at a Distance, helps to answer some of those questions, though not without a few problems of his own.

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At Kumoricon 2019, I had the good fortune of getting into a screening of the anime film Penguin Highway. It is an anime film of a variety that doesn’t come out in the US very much – an anime film that is a straight-up family adventure film, and a film that also plays into some of the Kids on Bikes concepts that came up in a few works I’ve reviewed recently (The Gate and Tales from the Loop).

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Cover of Battle Angel Alita: Last Order Omnibus 1

Battle Angel Alita ended – sort of – on an interesting note. Due to health issues, the mangaka, Yukito Kishiro, somewhat rushed the manga’s conclusion, quickly moving the story into the floating city of Zalem, before blitzing through the city coping with the revelation that everyone in the city has computer brains – and Alita ultimately ending up in control of the city. The sequel, Last Order, starts there, before going into an oddly different direction.

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Cover of Genshiken Second Season vol. 1

When a creator revisits an old creation, it can be interesting from a reader’s perspective, as we see how changes with time influence that work, whether it’s the Eva Rebuild movies, or Chris Clairmont returning to the X-Men, Timothy Zahn returning to Star Wars, or what have you. With the revival of Genshiken – Genshiken Second Season – the manga elects not to pick up right where the old manga did, and instead skips forward, to a new generation of otaku and a look at how fandom has changed with time, with some interesting results.

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Key Art banner for season one of "What the Hell Are You Doing Here, Teacher?"

When it comes to concepts related to fanservice in anime, there are some that are very hard to do well. One of them, probably the biggest one of them, is what I call “Sexual Slapstick.” It’s someone walking into a room and seeing someone undressing, or tripping and falling and copping a feel (or seeing something they shouldn’t. They’re all based around acts that are gross, which means it can be hard to make funny. Season one of We Never Learn did it and What the Hell Are You Doing Here, Teacher? also manages to actually pull it off.

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From Left - Ultra Seven, Ultraman, and Ultraman Ace from Season 1 of Ultraman

This past year or so we had a fair number of anime series paying tribute to classic Tokusatsu series from Tsuburya Productions. The most high profile of these was S.S.S.S. Gridman, with Netflix’s Ultraman Season 1 (adapting the manga) coming out earlier, and flying under the radar. There are a few reasons for that – Gridman had Trigger’s rep going for it, instead of being a totally CG anime series, and was released in English in a more conventional manner instead of the Netflix binge model. As far as how much each of those contributed – well, I can’t get into specifics without delving into Steiner Math (which I flunked in college). That said, the show is still fun, and worth your time.

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Excerpt from the art of The Electric State.

The Electric State is very much a different book from Tales from the Loop and Things from the Flood. Those books had a retrospective narrative – the point of view for those books was from the viewpoint of someone looking back on events with a sense of nostalgia. The Electric State, on the other hand, has a more conventional narrative, while still having significant themes of memory, but definitely without the warmth of nostalgia.

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