The Otakusphere: Rooster tails, odd taxis and runic empires

Good morning, afternoon or evening wherever you are in the world. It’s Sunday in my corner of the hinterlands, which means it’s time for another trip around The Otakusphere.

I’m in the middle of a long weekend. In the states, we’re celebrating Independence Day. Since the U.S. ships its culture out worldwide, I can’t imagine most people are unfamiliar with it. But in case you are, it’s the day that the Declaration of Independence was signed by representatives of the 13 colonies.

What is interesting is that the Continental Congress actually voted on the declaration two days earlier. Also, a lot of hay gets made out of its most famous line:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

What often gets left out of discussions is that the Declaration, while a foundational document, is not a document that carries the weight of the law.

Well, we could go a lot deeper than that. I like U.S. history, but it’s a lot messier than the politicians would have you believe.

That said, s-CRY-ed started on July 4, 2001, and that is a show about freedom and shell bullets — two very important things.

So let’s get some reckless fire and start our tour of the Otakusphere.

The spring season has officially wrapped up, and people are putting up their posts about the final episodes of the shows that they have managed to watch for the entire season. To be honest, there are still a few shows I would like to watch this season but haven’t gotten to.

But I’m not going to talk about those.

Instead, let’s talk about Odd Taxi. Here is a review of the final episode from Season 1, Episode 1. Jesse, like everyone else who talks about this show, gushes about it here.

Yet, I still find myself torn. Don’t get me wrong. I like the show. It’s competently written. The pacing is good. The characters are at least interesting enough to capture my attention. The thing is that I’ve seen this kind of story before. It’s an Elmore Leonard or a Tim Dorsey or a Carl Hiassen story. Only, it lacks the style of any of those writers.

Baccano! and Durarara! are just better in that sense. But I can’t tell if I’m just bagging on it because I’m frustrated with how much praise it’s getting or if I do think it’s flawed.

I’m still struggling with it.

Anyway, let’s move on to another story I’m torn about — 86. Here are three generally positive but still mostly different viewpoints on the show — one from Dewbond over at Shallow Dives in Anime, one from the Otaku Post and one from Space Whales Anime Blog.

So I’ve watched all but the last episode, and I think the climax at episode nine is terrific. Personally, I think episodes six and seven are good. But overall, a lot of people are going to have a hill to climb with this show. It is slow. With many of these episodes, nothing really happens. Sure there is a lot of talking, but little of it is advancing the plot.

That said, if you can get behind its laconic pace and its reasonably intelligent handling of class and race issues, there is something to enjoy in this show. Overall, on a one-to-five scale, I come down on the high end of a three, maybe the low end of a four.

Let’s move on to some thought-provoking posts about anime I haven’t seen.

I’ve had Beaststars on my list to watch for a while. I’ve been a little put off by the Zootopia-like setting because I’m not sure if that can carry an entire television show. That said, The Otaku Exhibition takes on the challenging question of trying to determine what the allegory is with a world full of anthropomorphic predators and prey.

This is a question that often gets broached when people are discussing stories like X-Men. People try to determine how well mutants could be different groups. It seems evident that when X-Men was created, they were looking at the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.

But now, that seems complicated to apply that easy of a label to it.

Then there is Hanebado. To be fair, this is yet another show that I’ve been wanting to watch after hearing it described as, “What happens after someone loses the final tournament?” I didn’t even realize there was a problem with breasts in the show.

Anyway, this post about it from Casper at Reasons to Anime takes the stand that it’s not as big of a deal as it was made out to be.

All right. Now it’s time to talk about video games.

Yes. I know that this is an anime blog, but I read video game blogs too because that is the world that we live in. And the idea of having just one hobby that trumps all other hobbies seems strange to me.

Granted, I always have too many things to do.

So Frostilyte over at Frostilyte Writes takes up the issue of timers in video games. You know, like that timer that happens at the beginning of Final Fantasy VII as you’re running out of the first Mako plant, and you get stopped by 20 enemies. And for some goddamned reason, the timer keeps going even as the characters do their victory dance.

I mean, could you pick a better time to dance around, guys? The place is going to blow up soon.

Anyway, Frostilyte defends using timers and points to the open world of Dishonored 2 as a reason for wanting them.

To be honest, I would add a third type of timer. There is a storytelling timer. Many open-world games will make things seem desperate at a certain point, so getting to the game feels more important than hunting down every pigeon. I’ve heard this about Marvel’s Spiderman, but I haven’t experienced it.

From collecting stuff to catching them all, let’s talk about Pokemon clones for a while.

A Reluctant Hero posted this review of Invizimals, a collecting game where you need to find all of the invizimals. I know I shouldn’t be, but I was surprised that people tried to capitalize on Pokemon in such a blatant way. You might as well call it a Pokemon clone game.

Anyway, the art looks pretty cool. I’m not as hot on Pokemon games. I’ve tried one, and I bounced for better or worse.

Next, let’s talk about Disney Rides turning into video games?

Anyway, Buffalo Retro put up a short review of The Haunted Mansion, which is a game I’ve never heard of. But the line that caught my attention is that the game is based on an amusement park ride. I know that Disney had some success with turning The Pirates of the Caribbean into a movie, but I wouldn’t expect them to turn a haunted house into a video game.

I will give it credit; the designs are pretty good. I don’t know if I want to go platforming in a haunted house, but I don’t know if I want to go platforming anywhere.

Finally, let’s stop by the Indiecator to talk about Empire in Ruins. I really wanted the title of this game to be Empire in Runes, but, hey, I can’t win them all.

This one caught my attention because of the idea that it’s a grand strategy and tower defense game. I’m not sure how well those things mix, but if you’re interested, go take a look.

Now let’s talk about a few movie reviews.

Yes. I know this is an anime blog, but all media will eventually become one homogenous pile of slag when the end comes. So why not have fun now?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Curtis over at Iridium Eye Reviews finds some of the most obscure and unusual artifacts. This one about The First Rasta and the birth of Rastafarianism is no exception. If I had more time and more drive to make myself a better person, I would watch more of these.

So don’t be like me. Go read his review and go watch the documentary.

Also on my list of people who find unusual gems is the Man in Black and his Instant Headache. This review of the Indian movie Ek Mini Katha sounds like it could be a fun comedy. Though it might be a bit bogged down.

It’s worth giving the review a read and probably watching the movie.

Finally, we have K at the Movies, who also finds strange and obscure artifacts to talk about, though some are more dubious in nature. This week, he is talking about The Ghost and the Boy with a Box on His Head.

The premise alone is enough to intrigue me. One of my problems with Shutter Island is that it saves its best question for the very end rather than asking it at the beginning of the movie. In this case, it seems like it asks the question right away: Is it better to be in love with a hallucination or be sane and lonely?

Again, another movie I should watch. But I probably will forget about it.

Also, I’m bad at watching movies.

Finally, let’s wrap up with a couple of travelogue posts because I can’t help but share pictures from places I’ll probably never get to.

They’re coming from the usual places. This one from Resurface from Reality takes us to the gardens and the home where Umineko takes place. The pictures are frankly gorgeous.

Then there is this post from Going Batty with Matty about Kochi Prefecture, the Chicken Kingdom. This is where I learned there is a breed of chicken that uses feather extensions. (No, not really, but they do have ridiculously long tails.) Go and have a look.

That is all I have for today. I have to figure out a way to make it easier to go through all of these posts, but I also think it’s essential to do this.

Just remember everyone, be good, be careful and learn a lot, not necessarily in that order.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

11 thoughts on “The Otakusphere: Rooster tails, odd taxis and runic empires

    1. No such luck on this side of the Atlantic. It seems like it’s not even legally available to buy over here.

  1. Thanks for the shout out and for promoting that review. I never thought too much about watching various movies or documentaries to be a better person, but I do my best to educate myself with different things. My next review involves something with a lot more levity though.

    1. I’m just impressed with your ability to hunt down obscure stuff that I wouldn’t even think to find. Unfortunately, I don’t have that same motivation to find that stuff, so I’m glad that you do.

      1. Thanks. It has been a fascinating journey doing so even before I got into reviewing these things. I wanted to know what else is out there besides whatever Hollywood forces down people’s throats.

  2. Yaknow, I think I mostly agree with you on Odd Taxi. I love it, and am probably going to give it a glowing review in the next week (or so…), but while I think it was competently directed – and used a modest production efficiently – it didn’t have… flair. And when it did, it felt like a mistake (like the rapping dialogue or the generally out-of-place soundtrack).

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