This Week in Moe Shit: ‘Umamusume’

High school girls — animal-eared girls, no less — with an earnest transfer student who wants to Be the Best. And they race in stupidly kawaii outfits that probably create a lot of wind drag. And at the end of the races they have an idol-style concert. This feels like the Triple Crown for moe trash.

All that actually doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that horses’ ears do not work like that. I don’t know why the hell the animators insisted on having the girls’ horse ears squinch at the middle. Horse ears swivel at the base and tend to point more out than down.

horse ears

Sadly, this sample is missing the most popular moe expression, “kawaii dismay.”

But this series DOES actually have something resembling a character arc for our main girl Special Week and a few other characters. Especially since this seems to be based on a mobile game. They doubt themselves and get disappointed and we’re shown and not just told how much hard work they do rather than stupid random power-ups.

Still good for happy nice time watching, but still…

umamusume ears

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This Week in Moe Shit: ‘School Babysitters’

The moe in this one is less about high school girls and more about toddlers. And our main character is actually a dude, which makes this a rather unusual piece of moe shit, but there’s not much plot beyond slice-of-life and there’s little to nothing by way of character arcs, so I feel very comfortable in calling this moe shit.

So our main duo, high schooler Ryuichi and preschooler Kotaro, are conveniently orphaned by the plot and are taken in by the chairwoman of a private academy who makes Ryuichi earn his keep by watching a bunch of the teacher’s kids as part of the “Babysitting Club.”

Now, I’m a soulless monster who doesn’t like kids. Theoretically I like babies — like, other people’s babies who go away before too long — but toddlers are right out. Probably even laid-back toddlers like Kotaro is supposed to be. So it’s a backhanded sort of endorsement that I did not find these fictional toddlers either too annoyingly saccharine or annoyingly implausible.

Some of the side characters are one-trick ponies who aren’t really worth the plot making an effort to include them once their schtick is up. Or their schtick isn’t that funny.

There’s a guy in Ryuichi’s grade who’s fallen in love with one of the teachers and claims her kid as his “future daughter.” Except that teacher’s not a single mother, it’s just that her husband is an archaeologist who mostly works overseas. The joke should stop there, but the show insists on keeping it running, so it comes off as creepy and no-longer-funny. It was kinda charming in an awkward way when you thought this guy was just too earnest rather than delusional, but after a certain point I was half-expecting him to kidnap the baby or some shit, and that is not what I want for my happy-nice-time watching.

Luckily there is some decent humor in this to distract from off-key notes like this, and side characters who aren’t gross.

Like another classmate, a girl with a crush on Ryuichi, who wants to be good with kids but sucks at it. I kinda relate to her, but I’ve had more time to come to grips with the fact that I am crap with kids and nothing’s really gonna change that.

After being low-key terrorized by the kids being the gross little horrors that they are, Ryuichi makes her feel better by telling her that he doesn’t like gross things either, but that he puts up with it because the kids aren’t just a faceless mass of snot and bugs to him, they’re Taka and Kirin and Takuma and Kazuma.

Which is very happy nice time-making, but my mileage has varied considerably on that theory in regards to kids. Pets, yeah, I can apply that to, so the sentiment isn’t entirely lost on me.

This Week in Moe Shit: ‘Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san’

Crunchyroll has this title translated as “Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen,” which I think is a clunky-ass translation. I think a better one would be “Ramen-Loving Koizumi.”

In any case, this is about a high-school girl, Koizumi, who eats ramen pretty much everyday but can’t do it in peace because of this creeper-ass blue-haired girl who stalks her to all the different ramen joints she visits.

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This Week in Moe Shit: ‘Laid-back Camp’

Lord knows why, but I find myself watching anime that is most adequately described as moe shit, which is cute high school girls doing cute slice-of-life shit and has very little real plot and very little by means of character arcs. I like to think I have better taste than this, but this is apparently what my brain wants for my junky, decompression, happy-nice-time viewing.

Laid-Back Camp (or Yuru Camp) is about a bunch of high school girls who go camping.

That’s pretty much it.

The characters can be generally defined as the genki girl, the silent loner who thaws, the girl with the dog, and those other girls.

I like to think of myself as someone who appreciates nature, but there are too many things about camping that are complete and utter bullshit, a short list being:

  1. Bugs
  2. No running water
  3. Walking more than 20 yards to a bathroom
  4. Most kinds of weather
  5. Sleeping, however indirectly (not indirectly enough), on the hard-ass ground

So this lets me indulge in a comfortably vicarious experience of a hobby I am only very theoretically interested in. There’s lots of pretty artwork about the scenery and vistas that I’m sure are based on real-life views from around Mount Fuji.

Reviewing ‘The Glass Magician’

I think I made a mistake, picking this one up. I was hoping for more worldbuilding, but mostly what I got was these wrong characters in the wrong setting with the wrong plot. I feel like screaming “You had such PROMISE!” the same way Obi-Wan screamed, “You were the Chosen One!” on Mustafar.

I don’t want to hate our main character, Ceony, but I think I’m three-quarters of the way there. She just needs to be carefully cut out and pasted into a more suitable book, like a cozy mystery where she gets to be a mommyblogger who solves crime on the side. Because I’m THISCLOSE to kidnapping Charlie N Holmberg and making her watch Upstairs, Downstairs while duct-taped to a chair.

We did get some more worldbuilding, but it took the 60-70% of the book to build up enough steam to get there. Honestly, the real plot of these books is the TIRESOME will-they-won’t-they between Ceony and her mentor Magician Thane, and the cool stuff with the magic is more of a subplot. And that is disappointing.

It does have some natural conflict because of course Magician Aviosky, Ceony’s supervisor, is NOT OKAY with the budding romance, and it’s perfectly legit, what with the power differential between student and teacher and all, but I wonder why the hell did you not hire a chaperone for Ceony. That was a pretty normal-ass thing to do for the times.

Not that it would exactly prevent such a romance, but then she’d be less antsy about having Ceony alone with a man. Just an easily-solved conflict like that being used as a plot convenience really bugs me.

But anyway SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS, etc.

The actually interesting plot is about the cohorts of Lira, the villain of the last book, trying to track Ceony down to discover how she defeated her. We learn more about Gaffing, which is glass magic, and I’m having another Mustafar moment because that stuff is actually interesting, what with spying and magical teleportation through mirrors and stuff.

And we discover that magicians CAN break their one-true-only bond with their material to switch with another. And while Ceony chooses to stay with paper magic, she never once thinks about Smelting, which supposedly caused her so much angst in the first book.

This could have made it SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING because turning into a Smelter would solve all the red-tape-type conflict about having a relationship with Thane. He wouldn’t be her teacher, and they could date and hold hands and suck face without any problems. But that would cause NEW conflict because he’s taught her to love Folding for itself, which is only BETTER, plot-wise. We could have some REAL STAKES, but she opts out of it entirely.

obi wan chosen one

 

Reviewing ‘The Paper Magician’

“The Paper Magician” by Charlie N Holmberg is some good creative stuff. Ceony Twill is a student magician being placed in an apprenticeship to Paper Magician Emery Thane. This means being magically bonded to paper and being unable to do any other kind of magic, when she wanted very much to be bonded with metal. Then Bad Stuff happens to Thane, and Ceony recklessly plunges off to adventure in order to save him. It’s the first book of a series, too.

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Reviewing ‘Blood Song’

This feels like Not a Real Review because “Blood Song” is a short prequel to Robert Mullin’s series that starts properly with “Bid the Gods Arise.” Why didn’t I do that instead? “Blood Song” was free for Kindle as a promotion that I only found out about because we have some internet acquaintances in common.

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