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Tris8



Joined: 30 Oct 2009
Posts: 2113
Location: Where the rain is.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:35 pm Reply with quote
Gewürtztraminer wrote:
Most reverse harems score points with me by fleshing out the heroine way more completely than most harem animes for the main lead.

La Corda dOro was a cut above the rest by my standards. The whole competition thing, when she realized she was essentially spoiler[cheating], played out well. I really liked her character design as well, a little bit trashy if you will.
I agree. The boys may have been cardboard cutouts, but Hino had some personality. And when she actually made the decision to continue on with the competition, even though spoiler[her violin had lost its magic,] I was truly impressed. I was not expecting the series to actually try and tackle the issue of her spoiler[magic violin belittling the others hard work], and it did a good job of it too.

I finished Natsume Yuujinchou Shi and Familiar of Zero F today. Really, I don't know how you guys keep up with currently airing shows. I get so darn impatient waiting for the episodes to come out each week.... And some of you follow a dozen shows a season! How do you keep track of it all?!? Anime dazed Except for special exceptions, I don't think I'm going to watch currently airing shows anymore. So much for my New Year's resolution. Very Happy I think I did pretty well to keep it until nearly April Anime hyper
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Surrender Artist
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Joined: 01 May 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:45 pm Reply with quote
errinundra wrote:
...I think it's easily the best "Girls with Guns" release (of those I've seen) since the first season of Gunslinger Girl, which was broadcast in Japan in 2003. It's certainly superior to any of the post-Noir Bee Train efforts (including Phantom ~ Requiem for the Phantom), Canaan, or the first season of Black Lagoon


You know, I've been wanting to watch Mardock Scramble: The First Compression for a while. It immediately seized my interests and reading this makes it fairly clear why. I haven't yet, mostly for stupid and embarrassing reasons that I won't explain because I am stupid and embarrassing enough with exposition, but I'll deal with them and see it eventually.

errinundra wrote:
These feminist points are all fine - they suit my own political beliefs - but they are constantly undermined by the fanservice, which, thankfully, isn't of the bouncing breasts or overipe labial panty bulge varieties seen so often these days in anime. Nevertheless, Balot spends much of the film naked. (At times it's weird because she's missing pubic hair and labia: it has an R rating and was shown in cinemas, so why the prudery?) Anyway, simply put, she's gorgeous. Dressed or undressed, I cannot think of a lovelier female character in anime, from facial features to breast size to you-name-it. How on earth can I absorb any feminist message when I'm fantasising over the woman bearing said message? Actually, the viewer's complicity in her exploitation is part of the film's power. She is the male object of desire and the male object of pity and, to her and the film's credit, she strives to be something else.


I very much sympathize. Even without having seen the film all of the times that I ended staring, not all as inadvertent as I'd like to be able to say, at her ass when she was on the ANN background advertisement had a similar effect. She's less alluringly drawn in the manga adaptation. It runs in a shōnen magazine and the mangaka is a women, which might both explain the difference. The tension between what the film might think it's saying and the nature of its lead has made me a little wary of it from the get-go, not that I ever really stopped wanting to see it. It hits too many of my buttons too hard.

I think that not showing Balot's pubic hair and vagina might be legacy of Japanese obscenity laws, which forbade both. I think that they might no longer be deemed so obscene as to be unpublishable, but they're probably still stigmatized.

errinundra wrote:
Balot's resulting mental breakdown. That she breaks down follows logically from her circumstances, the development of the story and the ideology of the film. That she would retaliate so violently also makes sense but, why oh why, does the whole tone have to be undermined with worn out anime cliches like the goofy, sleepy-eyed, orgasmic grin and the weapon licking? It's insulting.


The manga also shows this in a less sexualized way. What happens in that version didn't strike me as a breakdown, but as a sort of dehumanization. As she fights the Bandersnatch Gang she becomes more sociopathic; happy in her ability to easily kill. She becomes almost condescending to the freaks, meeting them with facial expressions and mannerisms that seem almost lighthearted. It's played as a sort of betrayal of Œufcoque's trust.

Whenever I get to see the film, I'll be interested in seeing how it compares with the manga, which is the only version of the story I know at the moment.


Last edited by Surrender Artist on Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:03 pm; edited 1 time in total
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dtm42



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
Posts: 12381
Location: NZL

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:34 am Reply with quote
I just had an amazing night of Anime watching. Three episodes, three strong series finished.

First I finished Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, which I think did enough to earn an Excellent rating - just. I rated the third season as Very Good so it is good to see a return to form, although I don't think the fourth season is quite as good as the first two (which I also rated Excellent). I do hope that if/when season five is aired it will focus more on an overarching story instead of filler and also show Natsume's growth from here on out. Manga readers have given me some hope in that regard, so I await the next season with a positive attitude.

Then I finished Bakuman Season 2. This is an amazing show, far stronger than the first series/season. I ended up rating it as Masterpiece because no show since PMMM - no, not even Usagi Drop or Chihayafuru - had me as eager to watch the next episode as this one made me. Bakuman (especially the Anime) gets dismissed quite a lot, but people don't know what they're missing. My only fear is now that the show has peaked, as A: I really can't see it getting any more engrossing than it already is, and B: the real journey has sort of finished and from here on out they story will struggle to be fresh. But when season three comes around - and happily enough it has already been announced for later this year - I will be watching, no doubt about that.

And then of course there is Chihayafuru. You may be surprised that even though it didn't resolve anything I am still giving it a rating of Masterpiece. Why would I rate it that when even Zipang - an incredible Seinen series - remains on Excellent? Well, Zipang sort of just ended abruptly, as if truncated, whereas Chihayafuru got a more rounded ending that felt like a natural stopping place for the season. Of course there probably ain't going to be a second season because the show has - and let's be honest here - bombed in Japan. Sure it was just an advertisement for the Manga but the lack of buzz amongst Japanese Anime fans makes me think the higher-ups won't want to finance another season. It must have cost a bit to make the show, what with the nice art and Disney-esque music and the gorgeous character designs (Chihaya is one of the most beautiful Anime leads, ever). Mamoru Miyano (who previously voiced Light Yagami and Kyōma Hōōin, and voiced Taichi in this series) probably wasn't cheap either.

Anyway, it was nice to spend an evening watching three good finales to three amazing series. I almost want to wish that every Anime-watching night could be this good, except that it is by suffering through the crap stuff that we learn to appreciate and enjoy the wonderful works so much more.
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errinundra
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Joined: 14 Jun 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:49 am Reply with quote
Surrender Artist wrote:
...As she fights the Bandersnatch Gang she becomes more sociopathic; happy in her ability to easily kill. She becomes almost condescending to the freaks, meeting them with facial expressions and mannerisms that seem almost lighthearted...


Yes, that's there. The movie just pushes it into cliche as can be seen in my screen shot in my previous post.

Quote:
...It's played as a sort of betrayal of Œufcoque's trust...


Definitely. That is done quite well in the movie.
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nightjuan



Joined: 22 Jan 2008
Posts: 1388

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:55 pm Reply with quote
Heroic Age: I'm only about halfway done with this series, but the experience has been relatively positive so far. While the initial story isn't particularly unique, in the grand scheme of things, at the very least it does provide us with a good excuse to have space battles on a rather large scale.

Predictably enough, Age (who isn't nearly as annoying as I feared he would be) only has any real trouble when fighting similar "monsters" but it's interesting to see how the different factions react to him, as his nearly unstoppable nature starts to be exploited beyond what one would consider reasonable. On that same note, the setting could use some additional development, to be sure, given that there's still a lot left to explain and everything seems a bit too easy for humanity (also known as the "Tribe of Iron") right now. The remaining cast of characters hasn't been too impressive, but thankfully none of them have actually gotten on my nerves either.

Production values are...perhaps of only moderate quality, with some very good moments surrounded by a lot of recycling of sequences when they're really trying to stretch the budget. Unfortunately, the character designs are definitely on the bland and boring side, but the soundtrack is actually quite nice. That said, I'm fine with the use of 3-D CGI, which has been fairly appropriate for the material.

Overall, Heroic Age isn't the kind of series I would want to rate too highly, but it's definitely looking like a pretty decent title. That said, whether or not the second half of the story tends to improve or worsen will surely end up making a big difference here.
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Gewürtztraminer
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Joined: 14 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2012 9:02 pm Reply with quote
Genma Wars, 11-13. Psychedelic drugs are the only answer to the existence of this series. At every plot point, you consider the most outlandish thing that can happen, and it or something even more crazy occurs.

Jin and Roof are now in the past (which appears to be modern day earth). High school girls are being drugged into being prostitutes for the elite spoiler[who are Monsters or proto wizards], ugly green baby decides to do unbirth (going back into the womb) for the second time in the story. Monkeys in space plotting Earths downfall.

I think I really need to own this. As deranged as Eiken was visually, Genma Wars is story wise.


Surrender Artist wrote:
Quote:
Cocaine is a hell of a drug.


Truth.
I can not explain this series any other way.
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errinundra
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:45 am Reply with quote
With the first quarter of the year coming to an end I've now completed the three ongoing series I'd been watching.

Daily Lives of High School Boys

This surprising gem follows the daily routines of supposedly normal high school boys - for the most part straight man Tadakuni, schemer Hidenori, and fake blond Yashitake - their sisters, some funky high school girls, the student president of the nearby girls' school, and a sublimely inspired literary girl. As a rule, Japanese comedy shows leave me cold. British novelist Angela Carter describing the nature of Japan, once wrote of "a passive, cruel sweetness I did not immediately understand, for it was that of the repressed masochism which, in my country, is usually confined to women". Japanese humour, while highly ironic, is usually very cruel. Daily Lives is no exception but, despite that, it is singularly funny.

Each episode consists of 6 or so short vignettes. Like all sketch comedy, the individual segments can be hit and miss. When it works, which is surprisingly often, it is hilarious. The usual formula is to set up the characters' or viewers' expectations then completely deflate them. A good example is the sketch where one of the boys is throwing a ball in the park with his father. You may think it is a sweet example of a family playing together. Truth is, they've locked themselves out of the house and they have nothing better to do until the mother comes home... from a trip overseas. For the most part it avoids the academic side of their lives and, praise the gods, mostly avoids the usual high school activities found in anime such as cultural festivals and swimming pools (and it makes sure you know they have). Apart from the their sisters (who are usually monstrous) there is little family interaction (notwithstanding my example above). It gets right down to the most essential thing: high school boys being daft. They're not idiots but they sure end up doing pretty stupid things. They can also be delightfully gross, like looking for centipedes in their vomit or eating hot dogs off the ground, but it's all done with such a cheerful dagginess that it's impossible to be offended. Even the cruelest scenes, eg Tadakuni conned into dressing in his sister's clothes and being caught in the act, are forgivable because they succeed at what is important in comedy - they make the viewer laugh.

The most memorable character is a secondary one: the literary girl. Most episodes have one sketch devoted to her and her love interest Hidenori (although they too can be variable in quality). The poor girl gets herself into the most diabolically humiliating situations (there's that Japanese penchant for masochism again) but her sheer doggedness will win you over. It's no wonder that, even as a minor character, most publicity shots include her with the three mains. How the relationship between her and Hidenori is resolved in the last few minutes of the series is as magical as it is unexpected. A bit like the show, really.

On the down side, although Daily Lives starts out with a fresh approach to high school comedy it quickly settles into a formula of its own. After the first episode it rarely pushes the good taste envelope any further, or develops its good ideas (literary girl excepted). It also veers into some misogynistic territory with its constant portrayal of girls as simultaneously stupid, terrifying and humiliated.

Rating: good

Chihayafuru

I watched this mainly because it was directed by Morio Asaka who has proven himself to be one of anime's most interesting directors in the way that he can present sweet or cute characters in unexpected ways. Think Gunslinger Girl or Chobits. In a sense he manages the same thing in Chihayafuru where the main character, Chihaya, is, on the surface, sweet and vacuous but, thanks to great writing, direction and artwork, we soon realise has a rich and complex inner life as she follows her ambition of being a master of the card game karuta. Her two closest friends - the rivals Arata and Taichi - are also compelling. Arata is the catalyst behind everything in the show: he inspires Chihaya to go beyond her self-imposed limitations; and unknowingly pushes Taichi, through the latter's envy, to support Chihaya in her endeavours. The slightly chilling Arata is a fine contrast to the generous Taichi. The touch of mongrel in Arata is perhaps why Chihaya is subconciously drawn to him. It's interesting to note that we see Taichi add some cruelty to his karuta strategems in the final episode. Chihayafuru is at its best when it focuses on the emotional interplay between the three, even if they do emote unrealistically at times. One of the failures of the series is that Arata is absent for long stretches at a time. The other members of the karuta club - Kanade, Nishida and Komano - are pleasant enough without being outstanding

Two thirds of the way through the series, Chihayafuru loses its mojo. In episode 15 our heroine loses a climactic match to her arch-rival, Shinobu. Thereafter Chihayafuru forsakes its most charming element - the emotional development of the principal characters - and becomes something else: a sports anime with a flimsy plot. Worse, the karuta games entirely lose their electricity. Even the once beautiful visuals decline: the face faults and deformations become more frequent while there is considerably less detail in the backgrounds or even in the characters themselves. It's almost as if the substantial part of the budget was used up until episode 15 and much economising was required thereafter. It even seems that there was a different director from that point, it changes so much. The recap episode 16 separates the series into two disjointed segments.

Wild theory: perhaps it was originally intended as a one-cour series, covering what became episodes 4 to 15. Perhaps the length was doubled at some point in the planning so they added a 3 episode flashback at the start, a recap episode and 8 more at the end.

Despite all that, the series ends with so much more left to explore. I look forward to another series, directed by Morio Asaka and concentrating on the emotional lives of the three main characters. There are hints that I might get what I seek.

Rating: good

Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing

Fam the Silver Wing turned out to be a pale shadow of the first series, Last Exile. There are several reasons for this. I'll start off with the character designs. In the original series the character designs were detailed and dramatic, if occasionally sentimental. In Fam they are infantilised and cartoonish. The effect is to distance the characters from the viewer, thereby reducing the emotional investment. The characters become mere faces saying things, attached to moving bodies. Example 1: Sophia Forrester Mk II has no presence whatsoever as she gives orders on the bridge of her battleship; where is the majestic sweep of the arm from the last episode of the first series that leads to so much personal grief? Example 2: Fam can pull some memorable poses, but that's all they are; they seem quite disconnected from any inner emotional life. The major fault lies in the prosaic, though admittedly pretty, character designs and the limited facial expressions - limited in their variety and their ability to project character.

Another problem is that a Genki Girl, and that's basically what Fam starts out as, isn't appropriate as the main character of a space opera. Genki girls don't have much depth or staying power. True grandeur, and Fam the Silver Wing has pretensions towards the epic, should be played over a slow and steady beat. Because the rhythm of the series is way too fast, events pile up one after the other with no sense of development or import. The characters' motivations are opaque (because they lack depth) and too often their actions make little sense. Oddly enough, as Fam's Genkiness declines, so does her significance in the unfolding events.

All these problems can be forgotten once the anime becomes airborne. The flying scenes and the aerial battles are breathtaking. The ships themselves, from the vespas to the battleships get the bulk of the creators' love and attention. (Perhaps that is why the characters are so ordinary. The poor things have been neglected terribly. Hey, a brand new way to induce moeru in the viewer!) Happily, Fam the Silver Wing is worth seeing just for the aerial pyrotechnics.

Rating: decent
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classicalzawa
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:14 pm Reply with quote
@Gewurtatraminer
You are really making me consider get that $13 Genma Wars bargain bundle off TRSI. It sounds amazingly trashy. Still not sure if I want a full 13 episodes of wtf when a few or a terrible movie usually does it for me, but it sounds like you had so much genuine fun watching GW that I'm honestly jealous. It sounds like you plan to get said bargain bundle yourself, so I guess that makes it worth rewatching? Or does it make it worth it to keep it around for a drinking game?
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Gewürtztraminer
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Location: Texas - Its like whole other country.

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:00 pm Reply with quote
classicalzawa wrote:
It sounds like you plan to get said bargain bundle yourself, so I guess that makes it worth rewatching? Or does it make it worth it to keep it around for a drinking game?


I had not seen the $13 Genma Wars bundle, for sure it is worth that price.
I have been picking up a lot of those Media Blaster's bundles recently, and just ordered this myself. 3700 ratings on Netflix (2.5), only 1 short review warning about the sexual content.
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dirkusbirkus



Joined: 10 May 2008
Posts: 697
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:21 am Reply with quote
I just got through watching Paranoia Agent, which surprised me by being both coherent and accessible (for a Kon work). I went in expecting to be overwhelmed with symbolism and freeform story telling, but was pleased when everything concluded in a way that wasn't too hard to understand. I'd heard that PA was basically Kon recycling ideas he'd had left over from other productions, hence my initial feeling of apprehension. But overall, I was very satisfied with how everything played out.

I did have a couple of lingering questions for the guys who've seen and enjoyed it. Firstly, regarding Harumi/Maria.spoiler[ I know Kon has been known to reference issues in Japanese society in his works, and it got me to thinking that the character of Harumi/Maria could have been representing a generation of Japanese females during a transitional phase in society. A sort of 'changing of the guard' if you will. Harumi's passive side would represent the older mindset whereby ladies would be dutiful and precocious, and Maria represents the new era of female empowerment. During a shift in attitudes like this, there's bound to be those struggling with their identity and what society expects from their roles as females. My question was, am I reading too much into this or was this a more individual case to highlight mental illness or somesuch?]

Secondly, the fat otaku. spoiler[I could see where he fit into the narrative in terms of his escapism, but when Maniwa goes cuckoo, his story overlaps with the otaku, and I wasn't sure why? I know it all leads to Maniwa discovering Sagi's past but it was a little bit Alice in Wonderland (quite literally, taking into account the bunny ears of the first doll). Did anyone else find this a little... clumsy?]
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errinundra
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:47 am Reply with quote
@dirkusbirkus,

If you can forgive me for stating the obvious, Paranoia Agent is a highly allegorical. The Harumi / Maria episode is probably my favourite (hey, she's voiced by Kotono Mitsuishi for starters). Your reading is as good as anybody's. I also think that she represents the Japanese obsession with kawaii as a salve for their darker side.

One of my favourite bits of symbolism in the series can be seen in this episode. When Maria goes to the rubbish tip, the insulators on the electricity pylons look like razor blades. I found it chilling.

I also think that Maria's face as spoiler[Shonen Bat is about to put her out of her misery] is, for me, the single most horrifying image in anime.

I never quite got the fat otaku. Given that he appears in passing in several scenes I wonder if he originally had a larger role but was written out as production proceeded.

***

I've decided to put 2012 on hold. Yes, I've just begun Legend of the Galactic Heroes. I'd been planning to watch it once I finished the 2012 first quarter titles I'd been watching. They're out of the way, so I'm off into the stars with Wen-li and Lohengramm. I've just watched the first episode and I'm sure I'm going to enjoy the journey.
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nightjuan



Joined: 22 Jan 2008
Posts: 1388

PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:47 am Reply with quote
errinundra wrote:

Yes, I've just begun Legend of the Galactic Heroes. I'd been planning to watch it once I finished the 2012 first quarter titles I'd been watching. They're out of the way, so I'm off into the stars with Wen-li and Lohengramm. I've just watched the first episode and I'm sure I'm going to enjoy the journey.


The first couple of episodes usually tend to be looked down upon even by existing LOGH fans, but if you like what's there then it's practically a given that the rest of the first "season" will continue to be to your liking.

Just one bit of advice: try not to watch the next episode previews, since they sometimes spoil even the most important developments.
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errinundra
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 11:56 am Reply with quote
nightjuan wrote:
...Just one bit of advice: try not to watch the next episode previews, since they sometimes spoil even the most important developments.


Thanks for that. Will do.
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dtm42



Joined: 05 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:00 pm Reply with quote
nightjuan wrote:
Just one bit of advice: try not to watch the next episode previews, since they sometimes spoil even the most important developments.


Please note that I provided the YouTube links solely for people who don't care about the spoilers or who have already watched the shows in question to quickly check out what I'm saying. If you want to watch either series but haven't yet, and you don't like being spoiled, for heaven's sakes don't use the links.

Too bad errinundra started watching the show (yes, I call it a show even though it technically isn't) without telling us first, because otherwise I would have advised them to skip the entire first ED in every single episode it appears. I knew within three episodes who between Yang and Reinhard was going to die and who was going to succeed the deceased in the fight against the remaining person. And that isn't a spoiler for the show because it is right there in the freaking first ED. I got really quite angry at the show, it is Le Chevalier d'Eon all over again, except in that series the spoiler (which reveals whom the traitor is; a really important event) is in the bloody OP. Truly a moment worthy of facepalm. Way to ruin my love of that character, since how can you take them seriously when you know they will wind up betraying their comrades?

Before anyone says that I spoiled Legend of the Galactic Heroes for them (or Le Chevalier d'Eon for that matter), I just want to point out that the show spoils itself and that the spoiler is extremely obvious if you pay even the slightest amount of attention to the ED. I mean, if I can figure it out within three episodes (I had a strong hunch after the second episode, was certain after the third), then it is in no way a spoiler or even a foreshadowing for anyone. And please note that I was not crawling the OPs and EDs to look for clues and spoilers, I don't do that for series I haven't finished yet. I caught the spoilers for both without pausing or slowing the video down. Not that I would (or did) need to. I mean geez, could they have laid it on any thicker?

So yeah, very unfortunate for errinundra. But I consider I've done my public duty in informing people to avoid the OP for Le Chevalier d'Eon and the first ED for Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Hopefully fewer people now will have the major plot twists/events for both shows spoiled because the production staff went overboard with the foreshadowing in the OPs and EDs until it became outright spoilers.
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nightjuan



Joined: 22 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:09 pm Reply with quote
dtm42 wrote:

Hopefully fewer people now will have the major plot twists/events for both shows spoiled because the production staff went overboard with the foreshadowing in the OPs and EDs until it became outright spoilers.


While that's also a fair warning, I would have to say that the specific ED under consideration absolutely does not spoil how or when any particular incident happens. Unlike some of the next episode previews, which can blatantly tell or show the audience exactly what's going to happen, the ED's spoilers are relatively figurative and open to interpretation since there's no attempt to provide the real context for them.


Last edited by nightjuan on Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:11 pm; edited 1 time in total
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