Monday 29 May 2017

Event report: Basara Club Fan Meeting 2017 Spring

It's been a while since this blog featured something like this, hasn't it?

Since real life didn't allow me to attend the previous Basara Matsuri and stage play events, I leapt at the opportunity to apply for tickets to this weekend's Basara Club Fan Meeting 2017 Spring events when the timing ended up coinciding with some travel I'd already arranged. The Sengoku Basara fandom is in a huge lull right now in Japan - even more so than it was prior to the announcement of Sengoku Basara 4 - and it's been a little sad seeing how few signs there are of the series' influence while travelling around the country over the past two weeks. Sengoku Basara merchandise has vanished from most stores, the anime discs are in bargain bins and we just had the news that Sengoku Basara Dokugan, the only serialised manga currently running (not counting the Retsuden one-shots in Dengeki Maoh) is to end in a couple of weeks. If not for this summer's Zangeki Sengoku Basara: Odawara Seibatsu ('Odawara Subjugation') stage play which has just started its major advertising push, I'd be ready to declare the series officially dead.

So it was with a little anxiety that I bought my tickets and turned up at the venue, half-worrying that I might be the only person there! Thankfully, that wasn't the case. The hardcore fans are still eager to celebrate the crazy action of Sengoku Basara even during this period of deathly quiet.

First of all, to avoid any dashing of hopes I want to make it clear that these fan gatherings are just for fun. The gaming media isn't present and there are no major announcements, so this post won't secretly reveal any news about Sengoku Basara 5 right at the end (sadly). If you still want to read more anyway, please go ahead!

Sunday 7 May 2017

Streaming: Spring 2017 anime first impressions

What on earth happened to anime streaming this season? Right as we had finally settled into a wonderful era of Crunchyroll getting UK simulcast rights for almost everything on offer, Amazon Prime and Netflix have both stepped up their plans to grab exclusive licenses with bizarre global strategies; in Amazon's case, they've started licensing some titles for the US only which has left other English-speaking regions in the dust. It's as though we've gone back in time several years! The situation is worsened by UK licensor Manga Entertainment continuing to sit on its own licenses instead of putting them on some kind of simulcasting service. Their decisionmakers don't like Crunchyroll or dub-only outlet Funimation Now, but in the absence of any viable alternative Manga Entertainment continue to license shows and provoke the pirates by squatting on the digital rights for the UK. And so I don't buy from Manga.

I'm desperately hoping that this mess is just a temporarily blip on the path to progress, though it's not exactly unusual for the anime industry to shoot itself in the foot and prevent those who want to from watching and supporting their favourite titles. Global streaming is always such a mess.

All of my ongoing shows have finished other than Nobunaga No Shinobi, which has a second season continuing straight on from the previous one. So will anything new be joining it in my weekly viewing schedule? Let's see.

Streaming: Winter 2017 anime final impressions

Another busy season for me outside of this poor blog, which is limping along on these anime roundups alone these days. I've only been keeping up on the shows which aired on Crunchyroll which was rather convenient and economical. It feels as though this era may be over moving into the spring season, sadly, as it's absolutely loaded with service-specific exclusives; even losing just one must-see title in winter to Amazon Prime was a shame.

I dropped Fuuka partway through its run after realising that it was never going to become the alternate version of NANA I was hoping for, and from all accounts it seems that I dodged a bullet there. I also dropped Ao No Exorcist for no reason in particular. It was too confusing trying to stitch the canonical events from the previous adaptation together.

So let's go with this for my top three:

1. Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
2. ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept

The other reason for my lateness in posting these final impressions (and consequently, my first impressions for spring) is a little silly. I loved my top show so much that I was afraid to finish it for quite a few weeks, and ended up trapped in an extended winter much longer than I planned. Several of the shows - most notably Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu and Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans - were such emotional rollercoasters that they left me in tatters. I hope the current season will be kinder.