Project Haruhi
16Aug/1710

Bakacast #338 – Cellphone Is A Pretty Good Magical Power

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On this episode of Bakacast, My Hero Academy meanders to a conclusion of the Stain arc, Rage of Bahamut doesn't seem sure how to develop its antagonist, Hell Girl follows up it's very good episodes with a trash one, Princess Principal continues to impress, and Luke joins me to talk about In Another World With My Smartphone.

Please email listener questions to bakacast[at]projectharuhi.net or leave them in the comments below.

Time Index

  • 02:44 - My Hero Academy 30
  • 18:17 - Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul 17
  • 31:21 - Fate/Apocrypha 5
  • 39:51 - Hell Girl: Yoi no Togi 3
  • 45:27 - Princess Principal 4
  • 53:38 - Made in Abyss 4
  • 58:00 - Shoukaku no Altair 4
  • 1:02:45 - Cheer Fruits 4
  • 1:07:42 - Luke Reviews: In Another World With My Smartphone
  • 1:22:22 - Listener questions

About Dustin

Dustin (aka Stilts) enjoys playing and yelling at video games, especially RPGs. He also likes super robot shows… the more outrageous the plot, the better!

  • Dayriff

    On My Hero Academy, I think the point of the non-heroic activity we saw in some of the internships was to give credence to Stain’s complaint that there were few true heroes anymore. My take is that the viewer isn’t supposed to sympathize with Stain, but we are supposed to believe that his twisted philosophy is based on a genuine issue that he is responding to in a completely horrible way. It was really unfortunate that one of the most prominent female characters got the “hero as fashion model” approach, but I note that hardening guy and turn-to-metal guy’s internship with Four-Arm Guy wasn’t exactly brimming over with heroic activity either. Luckily Suu’s anime-original episode in #32 helped make up for it.

    Regarding Rage of Bahamut Virgin Soul, I’m a little conflicted about the demons. This season has really played them up as “humans with horns”. We get little demon kids and demon folk going around trying to live their lives, and Dustin rightly refers to their treatment as racism. Except… I still remember how they were portrayed in the original series, and it was as powerful supernatural beings who had malicious intent for humanity. So it’s given me kind of whiplash to see this ‘humans with horns’ take on BahaSoul. Especially when their counterparts, the angels/gods, still retain a lot of that supernatural being with plans for humanity mystique, even as they are people too.

    I’m not sure I exactly want to see the show justify the human treatment of demons, but I think it would have added some depth to remind us of what they were like before being brought low. If the show had included some reminders about how the demons as a people went in for torturing humans, using them as food, casually murdering them, etc. then the story gets more nuanced as a story of the oppressed becoming the oppressors, committing the same sins they suffered out of a desire for payback. Make it clear that poor treatment of demons isn’t driven exclusively by the king… most humans want to see demons suffer for reasons that are understandable.

    Princess Principal #4, I at first wondered how exactly they managed to capture that roomful of scientists at the end and get them off the ship. My guess is that originally the story had them assassinating the scientists, and then it was decided that was ‘too dark’ even for this show, so it was handwaved to capture that somehow occurred off-screen.

    I mentioned this in a previous comment, but though I like Made in Abyss a lot I am having increasing trouble sympathizing with the goals of Riko’s quest. It seems to me to be a fool’s errand, an impossible mission done for lousy reasons. I like cheering for characters trying to do the impossible in pursuit of great ends, but I have a hard time understanding Riko’s obsession with trying to reach the bottom of the Abyss or why she thinks what she’ll find there would make her happy. As for Reg, he seems completely adrift.

  • Banarok

    first of all, thanks for making me watch made in abyss, would probably not have checked it out if it wasn’t for you guys.

    i got a question too, What do you guys watch that you don’t review this season?, i’m curious especially about Larry because he is the one that seem to “stealth” watch the most shows.

    • Having listened to the podcast on and off over the years, I’d like to think you could play a game of Larry bingo, where if a show contains either space travel, cute high school girls or 90’s style harem antics, there’s a strong chance he’s checked it out, no matter how dubious the quality (cough, Eromanga-Sensei, cough).

      • So close… I have to sort of admit Eromanga lived up to its title… the rest I’ll discuss on the next recording (apx. 31 Aug 2017) give or take… You also forgot if it has an ‘all star’ cast that’ll peak my interest… (although Aho Girl was abysmal and a waste of good talent.)

      • I should also have mentioned shows with a military angle ^^. Actually, with that in mind, if you haven’t seen Sora no Woro/Sound of the Sky yet Larry, I’d definitely give it a try. I imagine you’d really appreciate it.

        Eromanga makes sense from a production and casting perspective, and there were definitely people on my twitter timeline that enjoyed it for that. I dunno though; I still remember the ending of Oreimo with the ‘incest for the win’/fake marriage/kiss stuff where the author basically admitted to enacting his fetishes all along. Fool me once…

        I couldn’t even get annoyed by Aho Girl. Sure, it was incredibly mean-spirited & misogynistic, but it was also such a lazy & throwaway piece of trash that it was basically dead on arrival. I’ll leave my frustrations with Centaur’s Worries, as the weird co-pro adaption is destroying all sense of societal commentary, comedic timing and tonal consistency, insteading focusing on the least interesting or uncomfortable aspects.

      • Sora no Woto.. yeah I started it and thanks for reminding me, I need to finish it. My worry, referring to your comment above is… there is more and more of this ‘lazy and throw away’ anime being produced. Adaptations of LN or manga that stray far from the original. Cash cow series that really should have been left out to pasture a long time ago… Now I’m not saying everything is getting bad, but compared to lets say 10 years ago. The quality has suffered, as well IMO, the content… I guess taste have changed or maybe those who wield the power are looking for a ‘fast buck’ instead of quality.

        One wonders if this is the start of the ‘decline of anime’ as we’ve come to know it. A decent sci-fi series might brighten my outlook (a new series not a 2199 retelling) More ‘Girls und Panzer’ could help too… just saying.

      • Girls Und Panzer is an interesting choice to mention considering that show epitomises many of the issues of modern anime production. Don’t get me wrong, I like that show a lot, but it is a series less about introducing genuine characters, story arcs & themes than it promoting popular otaku tropes, in this case cute girl archetypes and military hardware fetishism. Fortunately it had talented and passionate writers that were able to create something of value, similar to what happened with Kemono Friends, but that show was obvious from the very start about creating merchandise and marketing tie ins. For every happy accident like GuP, there are a bunch of failures like Military or Upotte which can’t disguise their cynical roots of selling body pillows, etc.

        The ‘Decline of Anime’ is something people have been espousing since the 1970’s, so I tend to treat that claim with a pinch of salt. It’s true that we’re in the middle of a consumption bubble at the moment (something Shirobako clearly pointed out), but the general model of shows released hasn’t altered greatly. Some popular franchise will emerge and a stream of clones and inspired shows will emerge. We had it in the mid 90’s with Eva, then in the early 00’s with sci fi light novels, then meta high school shows inspired by Haruhi (Kannagi, Lucky Star, etc), then the rise of little sister shows from Oreimo and currently the isekai genre from Sword Art Online.

        Saying that, although nostalgia tends to blind us, we are in a better position than 10 years ago, when the previous consumption bubble burst. In terms of the overall minutes on television each week, we’re still somehow behind the saturation point of 2005-6, due to the rise of half-length and miniature web series designed for cell phone consumption during commutes, while the entire western business isn’t based on licensing speculation competition like it was back then (although fees have drastically risen again, due to competition from Netflix, Amazon etc).

        There are plenty of partial adaptations, designed mainly to promote the original manga/light novel/game etc than unique stories, but unfortunately that’s the safest way to stay in the green in terms of merchandise & bd sales, rather than take a risk of an original story that doesn’t sell (cough, Flip Flappers). Even if the anime adaptation isn’t a massive success, such as Chiahayafuru, the boost in manga sales might at allow more to be made. As much as I’d love to go back to the heady days of 1998-2004, when the success of Eva allowed more original projects to be green lit, clearly not enough were profitable to continue that pattern. Also, those shows were still ultimately nuggets of quality surrounded by forgettable mediocrity forgotten by time. I’m personally of the belief that there’s roughly the same ratio of quality-crap that there’s always been, possibly leaning more positively nowadays, it’s just the amount of shows and nature of streaming has made the good stuff feel more transitory and difficult to remain in fandom consciousness permanently.

        So yeah, I don’t think the general model of producing anime has changed massively during the last 15 years beyond the way people view it, just the trends and sheer volume. Funnily enough, main reason for the rise in production during the last 2-3 years is chiefly down to foreign capital from international streaming services, partially from your Crunchyrolls, Netflixes and Amazons, but also largely due to Chinese investment. Production committees are now seeing an influx of money, but rather than using it to create one or two high budget, original and ambitious series, tend to create ten or so cheaply made ‘safe bets’, such as what you’re complaining about.

        It’s a pretty unpleasant situation, but rather than being seen as the death of anime, there’s a lot of insider speculation that it will lead to significant industry change. For a start, there’s been growing resentment and vocal anger towards the way anime produced by committee systems are being run, both in the fact that the money doesn’t trickle down to the actual animators, or that there just isn’t enough talent to successfully complete projects. That’s a big reason why we’re seeing big gaps between continuations of long-running shows (Titan, Blood Blockade, One Punch Man, Mob Psycho), as it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get talented staff back together. Industry insiders have been forecasting a shift away from this system in the next few years, so it’ll be interesting to see what they can come up with.

        Another change is that more ambitious projects are getting picked as cinema-release movies/ova episodes, so they can avoid piracy, tv regulations, committee demands or the decline that naturally occurs with meeting deadlines. In terms of adaptations we’ve seen this with Yamato, Persona 3, Kizumonogatari & Gundam, with upcoming franchises like F/SN: Heaven’s Feel or Pluto on the way, while original titles are also appearing with more frequency (Lu Over the Wall, Fireworks, etc). These features tend of get a lot international exposure and hype abroad, regularly featuring in the film festival circuit, which is great for exposure and changing the perception of anime from classroom settings and teenage power fantasies.

        Finally, we have Netflix itself slowly moving away from licensing anime in favour producing their own, something they can throw more time and resources towards than tv anime. We’ve just seen the release of Castlevania come out after over ten years of production, while Masaaki Yuasa is releasing his own version of Devilman, a Bones original called A.I.C.O Incarnation is in production and LeSean Thomas’ finally has managed to get Cannon Busters funded, to name a few over the next 12 months.

        Ultimately, even without all that to look forward to, I personally think the last 5-6 years have been better in terms of quality series being released than the 15 before it, possibly even before it if you take away the greatest hits like Eva, Utena Bebop etc. Sure, there’s a mountain load of crap to wade through, but I can usually be confident of having 2-3 great shows per season, as opposed to yearly. Heck, you can see the difference compared to the first several seasons of Bakacast reviews. Naturally age makes us all more cynical and less patience for nonsense but aside from the volume & the inside-baseball drama of modern production, I still think we’re in a good place right now in terms of fandom.

      • And holy crap, that was supposed to be a paragraph or two max, not a full essay. Maybe my brain is telling to go back to writing my own stuff again.

      • I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who tends to get a little ‘long winded’ something I have to remember on the podcast… I guess the utterly (searches for word) trend of highlighting absurdly abnormal behavior is what is getting to me, especially when something like that not only sells well but seems socially acceptable… the current Aho Girl falls into that category and there has been more… GuP you did hit that on the head… Bodacious Space Pirates… falls there too… I don’t know, you could be right, it would seem I’ve become less flexible and maybe a bit more cynical with age.

        P.S. nothing wrong with expressing ones self. I found it interesting and educational.

  • Other than utter trash-tier stuff like Triage-X or Handshakers, I can’t think of that many truly abysmal shows for the Dustin/Luke sections. I mean Vatican Hymen Detectives is classic terribad material, but you’d need to watch the first four episode arc to understand how truly bad that show is, and I’m not sure the point is to flat out cause aneurisms through its hideous pacing and ridiculous twists.

    How about going the Symphogear route and checking out a few episodes of shows, that while not considered great in the traditional sense, might at least lead to some fun chats. Here’s a few examples:

    1. Konosuba. One of the first, and arguably best self-aware isekai shows. It’s legitimately hilarious in places, although the m.c. skeeviness and occasional aggressively mean-spirited humour has always swung the pendulum between love and hate as far as I’m concerned. It also has one of the best group dynamics I’ve encountered in a while, counterbalanced by the fact the entire cast are utterly hopeless trash. If there’s any show that could lend itself to a weekly watch, it’s probably this.

    2. Kemono Friends. Everyone’s favourite post-apocalyptic happy fun times kids show, at least since Adventure Time got stuck up it’s own ass. The trick is to keep watching until you recognise it as the best show of the year, i.e. till the end.

    3. Phi Brain. The greatest anime ever made. Anyone that claims it is somehow bad, or merely ok hasn’t ascended to the point of recognising the show’s true genius. Join us, Dustin. JOIN US!