How many have you read? Mine are bolded below, with links to reviews where available.
A pitch perfect book trailer for Ancillary Justice, done by the same person who did the wonderful Starships video. It’s uncanny how the video manages to capture the setting and story using only pre-existing sources. This got my imagination firing on how good a real movie or television series adaptation might look and yet. And yet… One of the things that sets Ancillary Justice apart is its use of pronouns and how we see the world through Breq’s eyes only, who is either unwilling or unable to make gender distinctions. Doing the same in a visual medium is much harder; the effect will be lost if we’re seeing actors who are “clearly male” or “clearly female” and they can’t all be Tilda Swinton. It would be a very different experience and one that needs lot of care and attention to get it right. I’m not sure anybody could do it right.
As you may be able to tell from the panels above, Keijo!!!!!!!! can be described in one word: stupid. It takes the standard conventions of the sports manga and applies it to a “sport” that consists of girls in swimsuits trying to push each other off wobbly platforms floating in swimming pools, using only their butts or breasts. Purely an excuse to draw pretty women’s asses? Not quite. What saves this from just being wank fodder is that the mangaka, Sorayomi Daichi, takes the sport absolutely seriously while still being aware of how silly it is; Daichi is also very good at thinking up inventive new techniques or combos, in the best tradition of bullshit sports manga powers. Everybody has their own breast or butt focused superpower, which the onlookers breathlessly explain and the heroine has to counter.
To give but one example, the girl above here has the very special power of being able to copy any of the other player’s abilities just by fondling their asses, activating them by remembering how they felt: unlimited ass works. It’s gloriously dumb and the author pulls out one example after the other in each new chapter and that for at least ninety chapters, that being as far as the scanlations have gotten. I won’t pretend that this is anything other than dumb entertainment, following a storyline that you can find in dozens of other, better (pretend) sports manga, but what I like about it is that it’s innovative, honest and open in its fanservice and not demeaning to its characters — what also helps is that these are actual adults, rather than the usual high school girls. Not perhaps a series to be proud of that you read it, but certainly a cut above the usual harem fanservice nonsense. And yes, of course it will get an anime.
Nobody would ever confuse Macross with hard science fiction, so it’s hilarious that perhaps the most scientifically rigorous moment in the franchise’s entire history is done in service to a bit of equal opportunity fanservice by Mirage and Hayate. The artificial gravity has broken down, you’re floating around in free fall and have to make your way over to a giantic power cable to reconnect the emergency power supply. What’s more natural than to strip down, thrown away your clothes in the opposite direction of where you need to go and rely on old Isaac Newton’s law of every reaction triggering an opposite and equal reaction? And of course if you’re trying to open a recalcitrant valve in zero g, you need to be able to anchor yourself to something, or someone…
And of course the Walkure members pick up the transmissions between Hayate and Mirage, leading to some hilarious as usual reactions from Freyja. A funny climax to an episode that was mostly setup and taking stock. Having been driven off Ragna, Walkure and company now find themselves in a situation familiar from every other Macross main series: stuck on a island city ship among the stars. But this time it’s one that hasn’t flown in thirty years so there are some issues, which is where the main threat of the episode came from. I quite liked this episode, as it also finally build up the Hayate-Mirage relationship again, which had gotten short shrift until now as compared to Hayate & Freyja.
Or even Rei-Rei and Maki-Maki, who got to showcase their leet technical skills again during the crisis. Walkure might be the only idol group boasting a skilled starfighter mechanic and an ace hacker among their members. All in all, it made episode fourteen a fun breather episode after the way the previous episode ended. A great new insert song too, NEO STREAM, as song at the climax of the show, which sounded somewhat prog rocky in places. Also the last appearance of the first opening theme, featuring Freyja’s involuntary scream from episode thirteen when she jumped off the Elysum.
Episode fifteen is more of a slog, compared to that. The focus lies squarely with Windermere as the Wind Singer, Heinz, is crowned king after the death of his father two episodes ago. There’s a distinct whiff of the Nurenberg Rally to the coronation, as Lord Roid sweeps up the crowd into accepting not just a war to “liberate” their star cluster, but to take over the entire Galaxy. Roid is the one obsessed by the idea that Windermere is the true heir of the Protoculture and therefore the natural ruler of the Galaxy, not an entirely unfascistic sort of idea, though more reminiscent of WWII Japan than Germany.
If eminent destiny is not your cup of tea, Windermere has of course another excuse for waging war on the Galaxy: back during their independence war a dimensional weapon was detonated on their planet, leaving a nasty wound behind that has not healed yet. As the episode starts, we have most of the Aerial Knights visiting ground zero, save for Bogue, the team’s resident hothead. He it seems is visiting his family, but as we cut to him, we see he’s actually visiting their grave, heavily implying they died during the detonation. That’s one of the things I’ve always liked about Macross: its villains are never outright evil, rather have good reasons to fight even if their ultimate goals have to be opposed. If Windermere’s truth about the bombing is the entire truth, that is a question for another episode.