[Anime] Haikyu!! Season 2 Impressions – Still endearing and still awesome

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[Warning: Contains Season 1 Spoilers]

If you haven’t seen the first season of Haikyu!! (or Haikyuu!!, however you spell it), go watch it now. It’s a sports anime done right, very much in the same vein as Eyeshield 21 or Prince of Tennis. The sport is volleyball, which means a cast of 6 regulars and 4-5 benchwarmers, plus a manager, coach, and a couple of side characters. Not too few and not too many. And after you’ve watched the first season, you will come to appreciate and empathize with every single one of them.

The first season was amazing, which meant I was super excited for the second season. Would it live up to the high expectations set by the first season? Would it be worse? Could it possibly be better?

Here are my impressions after watching the first four episodes of the second season:

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[Log Horizon 2] Episode 11: Cool Techniques, Demikas Redemption and Shiroe’s Final Showdown

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Overall. I’ve realized that life is pretty fair sometimes. Everything that failed to happen in Episode 10 went down like a dream in Episode 11  (except perhaps Shiroe’s grand revelation but I had stopped hoping for the impossible). Shiroe and party began what looks like the last and final try to finish up the raid, and the whole episode was basically an epic fest of second by second strategy, shiny equipment, and showy techniques. Demikas also reached the final stage of his redemption path by dragging Shiroe kicking and screaming into the final stage of the dungeon. No doubt this is my favorite episode of Season 2 to date.

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[Log Horizon 2] Episode 10: Chicken Soup for the Gamer Soul

Hey folks, apologies for being MIA for past 4 episodes as traveling took the month out of me. I’m back now though and ready to give a heartfelt review for episode 10.

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Overall. Unlike Episode 9, an action-packed episode that gave us all the Shiroe action we were missing while Akatsuki wrapped up the Akihabara murder arc, Episode 10 is the sort that haters refer to when they point out how slow the anime pacing is. The entire episode is basically a 22 minute motivational speech. Yeah I get that their whole party died, but half of episode 9 was basically Shiroe resolving his personal issues, which led me to optimistically believe that episode 10 will be when Shiroe reveals his awesome plan, do the impossible, and whoop the butts of the three raid bosses. Tragically, the rest of the party has issues as well, and William Massachusetts’ low self-esteem (“I just accidentally became guild master, but I really suck and don’t deserve it”) rears its head again. Damn. Guess the asskicking is postponed for another episode.

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Shokugeki no Souma Gets An Anime in 2015

For what it’s worth, I simply love it every time a manga I’ve been following since Day One becomes an anime. It’s like a little personal affirmation that “The Important People in the Industry” agree with my taste in manga. Sometimes it was only a matter of time (Nurarihyon no Mago, Ao no Exorcist, Kuroko no Basuke, etc.) as these manga were made for shounen tv, and other times it was a complete surprise–Yowamushi no Pedal, Love Stage (like how the heck did this get approved O.o), Baby Steps (eh, anime / manga have been biased against sports stuff for a while now), etc.

But Shokugeki no Souma is a different beast. By all means, it should have become an anime a loooong time ago. Although it’s a cooking manga, Shokugeki no Souma is so much more “shounen” than most action mangas out there. Except for one defect: the ecchi (aka non age-appropriate for the shounen anime audience). I wrote about the regretful unfulfilled anime potential in my review on Shokugeki no Souma the manga, and I’m so, so glad that my wish came true and it finally got an anime anyways.

Watch Shounen Jump’s hype video for the anime below:

[Log Horizon 2] Episode 5: Serial Killing, Badass Soujirou, and Other Assorted Idiocy

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Overall. First of all, what an amazing episode!!! After all that buildup in the first few episodes (and an especially action-less Episode 4), Episode 5 has delivered on everything and more. All my regrets and doubt have been washed away. The People of the Land (well one guy) has really stepped up to present a legit challenge to the all-powerful adventurers. Some light is finally peeking out beneath the Akatsuki dark cloud. Soujirou has a MASSIVE episode as he finally shows us why he’s cool enough to have a harem. We finally see an offensive style “Teaching” / “Overskill” and it looks awesome. Shiroe’s entire party got wiped out by Boss X but whatever, at least they found a boss when they were just crawling around complaining last episode. MOST IMPORTANTLY, that ominous foreshadowing in Episode 1 when Akatsuki and Shiroe meet in death on Christmas Eve just happened, which means that this is the depth of their failure — all that’s left to do is go up!! I can’t wait until Shiroe comes back with a vengeance and Akatsuki just destroys that creep. So, so satisfied right now XD

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[Log Horizon 2] Episode 4: The Real Housewives of Akihabara

Episode 4 is a couple days late due to weekend traveling, sorry folks…

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Overall. While Episode 3 was about getting stuff done, Episode 4 was an exhibit of horrors: the horrors of what can happen when too many girls are together for too long, the horrors of too many characters musing about romance, the horrors of Studio Deen’s truly atrocious art, etc. I am not sure how I feel about this episode because there are just too many mixed messages flung around, and the only thing flowing continuously through  Episode 3 seems to be Akatsuki’s depression, which is just sad [pathetic]. I supposed I should be excited that Shiroe has some deep plot to take over the world through flavor text or that stereotypical big bad wolf villain finally did something other than appear dramatically for two seconds…buuut, I think watching Akatsuki has eroded my own self-esteem and I need a few seconds. Pardon me.

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[Log Horizon 2] Episode 3: Raid Mechanics for the MMO Soul

NO GOOFING AROUND. E3 gets serious.

NO GOOFING OFF. E3 gets serious.

Overall. Episode 3 is pretty much a continuation of the plot setup in Episode 2 (read Episode 2 review). Shiroe & co. begin on the raid, while festivities still continue in Akihabara as the adventurers prepare for Christmas. Since Season 2 has begun, I don’t think festivities have ever stopped in Akihabara. The lone party pooper is Akatsuki, whose angst cloud just balloons even more with each episode. What happens when it pops?

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[Log Horizon 2] Episode 2: Red-Light Districts, Galaxy Idols, and Shounen Romance

Annnd, with this post, I’ll be back on track with the anime episodes! *whew* Writing 5 posts in the past 5 days (all on Log Horizon) is not quite something I would care to experience again…

Read last episode’s review here.

But on to reactions for Episode Two:

Overall. Very happy to report that Episode 2 is so much smoother and coherent than Episode 1. Additionally, Season 2 is shaping up to be a faster pace, more action-packed storyline than Season 1, which is great. I feel that Season 1 would have taken at least 5 episodes to cover the content shown in Season 2’s first two episodes.

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[Log Horizon 2] Episode 1 – Part B: Cyborg Consciousness

(Author’s Note: this is a follow up to the preview post. Please read that first to better understand this. Also, refer to Part A for my Episode 1 reactions.)

I took the term “cyborg consciousness” from Ted Friedman’s essay on Sid Meier’s Civilization and how the game (and computer games in general) teaches us new ways of perceiving the world. He puts his argument succinctly:

“The way computer games teach structures of thought – the way they reorganize perception – is by getting you to internalize the logic of the program. To win, you can’t just do whatever you want. You have to figure out what will work within the rules of the game. You must learn to predict the consequences of each move, and anticipate the computer’s response. Eventually, your decisions become intuitive, as smooth and rapid-fire as the computer’s own machinations.”

Man = Machine

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[Log Horizon 2] Episode 1 – Part A: Bad Art, Choppy Plot, and Shiroe’s Fall from Grace

I decided to split up my episode review (because it’s too long otherwise) into the episode reactions (Part A) and my theme discussions (Part B).

Most Random Screenshot:

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wolfman on the right literally twitched for 20 sec straight.

First Minute Preview. The first minute of the episode was chock full of spoilers for the rest of the season, but that’s fine because I have no idea what the pictures mean anyways besides a sense that things will get awesome.

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