Archive for the “kampfer” Category

Masumi laments her lack of screentime.

I admit I laughed. (For the right reasons, I assume.)

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Natsuru silhouetted.


Eh, I'll take it.

From all accounts, this is the last actual episode of Kampfer, with the next one being a bonus episode. The Internet has been… less than impressed, I should say, with the conclusion of the story. Back when I mentioned Kampfer being my favourite anime this season, reactions went "but it's not over yet", and there was the implication that I would be held to that statement.

Honesty compels me to admit that this ending was not one that I had expected. Nevertheless, the judgement still stands: Kampfer is still my favourite show this season.

I could go into a long spiel about why, but it's all mostly in that post anyway. When the White Kampfers were still doing their character tics (and now I know Hitomi is supposed to be a Bokukko, ie a girl who uses masculine word forms), I had the impression that this was Not A Serious Battle, which may have insulated me from the RAGE that many others seemed to have felt. And the plushies growing in size to sing Beethoven's 9th called back on stuff like the ending of Mai-HiME: a reminder that Action and Drama are not the point of the show.

The point of Kampfer is fun.

So, overall, do I like Kampfer? As I said, it's my favourite show this season. Do I want a second season? Most certainly.

Do I think things could have been done better? Some parts, yes. Mikoto did not get nearly enough exposition, and I'd have liked to see more of the Wacky Romantic Comedy Hijinks between the Kampfers. Which is why I said I wanted a second season, since that would probably solve my complaints with the show.

Favourite character of the show? For some reason, I find myself fascinated by Masumi, despite her status as a background character. I have no idea why.

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Natsuru faces the consequences of her actions.

One week behind, but catching up. I actually did giggle (creepily, as any guy like me would giggle) at the various discussions on how many points or flags triggered each of the Kampfers have with Natsuru. Does it say something about me that I was far, far more interested in the Love Comedy Wacky Hijinks than in all the drama about Kaede trying to make Natsuru her mind-puppet?

Of course, from the books I've read before, which are not precisely high-brow, this is basically what every woman in the world is capable of doing, as a sort of default feminine skill. Most of these books are written by men, although supposedly with their wives or some other female acquaintances giving input. There is the implication that True Love can turn guys into mind-puppets, willing to go through any lengths to fulfil any request, in expectation of… well, not exactly sex, but more affection. I know it's meant for humour, but this is Love Comedy.

And with a blog name like "Moe Check", it's not as though I have any moral ground to stand on.

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Shizuku sees you.

I think part of the reason I like this show so much is that like Zettai Karen Children, it doesn't take itself very seriously, but it's also not over-the-top wacky comedy all the time. There's a nice balance with the scale pegged at the Comedy area of the spectrum, but not jammed right at the edge. There's a coherent story to be told here, but it's not so deep and portentous that all joy is lost in the morass of Serious Business.

The formal introduction of the rest of the White Kampfers is a good example. The moe archetypes displayed are so obvious that they have to be affectionate parodies. We saw the standard genki-cheerful loli-type with Rika Ueda ("If you think I'm just a kid, you'll get burned~") in episode 7, and here we have the tsundere ("It's not like I'm telling you my name because I'm interested in you as my enemy!") Sayaka Nakao and the yandere ("You won't die if we cut your ears off, right?") Ryouka Yamakawa.

I'm not sure whether there's a term for Hitomi Minakawa's character type, other than "normal and competent" ("The mood is gone. Let's just go."). She's not quite into snarky territory, since she hasn't snarked yet (at least in this episode), so she's not the Straight Man/tsukkomi of the group in the usual sense.

Anyway, their introductions and their character tics are so ridiculous that one can't really take them very seriously, and they patiently wait while Natsuru and Akane go through a Humourous Intermission of Silly Arguments. And yet they're still presented as a serious threat, especially when Shizuku shows up to be Serious at them. Laugh at them, but don't deny their skills.

This may also explain why I am not Filled With Fury over wasted opportunities or whatnot in Kampfer. It's entertainment that doesn't require me to do anything particularly strenuous, but still surprises me with its humour, while not actually leaving my comfort zone of the familiar. It's a very nice feeling, and unless something drastic happens in the last four episodes or so, Kampfer deserves its place as my favourite anime of this season.

(What? My standards are my own, I say.)

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Masumi in her element.

I shall just say that the temptation to post up some sort of hiatus notice is immense, but I have seen where that road leads.

Since the past few weeks have been quite busy with one thing or another, though, I haven't actually had the time to watch anime. Any anime. (Although now that I have a PSP, I should probably look into that; the problem is often not free time, but free time in front of a device capable of watching anime.) So now I'm going through the anime I didn't have the chance to watch earlier.

Remember: two posts per week, regardless of post quality.

This episode of Kampfer is a little different in that Girl-Natsuru does not make an appearance. Instead, the entire episode is spent with Guy-Natsuru going on a date with Shizuku, resulting in expressions of despair and rage from many bloggers, according to the reactions I have read. The most common criticism is that here is a beautiful girl practically throwing herself at him, and Natsuru ignores her for the most part to obsess over some ulterior motive that she might have.

On the one hand, I can understand where Natsuru is coming from. Shizuku Sango, Student Council President, has been shown to be a trickster type, revelling in playing pranks on Natsuru's situation. From Natsuru's point of view, the most important thing they should be doing is researching the White Kampfers, not go on some date; Shizuku's sudden request is therefore not what it seems on the surface, or so he thinks. And he's already in love (or at least a crush) with Kaede, however illogical it may seem (love is blind, can't choose the person your heart follows, so on and so forth). Shizuku knows that, and so her date request is a bizarre non-sequitur at best.

On the other hand, Natsuru does act truly blockheaded. Even if he believes that the whole thing is only subterfuge to draw out the White Kampfers, he does not act appropriately. He apparently sees himself as an outside observer to the mission, rather than an active participant. He doesn't even try to play along with the date, until Shizuku pretty much has to pin him down to do so. Instead, he makes commentary about how This Is Not A Date, and The White Kampfers Must Be Out There, and generally being too obvious for the White Kampfers to want to make a move.

Unless, of course, his blockheadedness is only a ruse to show any watchers that Natsuru is still himself: how suspicious would it be if Natsuru, a known Kaede fanboy, was seen out on a happy date with Shizuku?

Plans within plans, wheels within wheels.

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Prelude to a chocolate-flavoured kiss.

Do people in Real Life actually play that Pocky game? I know there's the whole Lady and the Tramp spaghetti thing, which seems to be a sort of cliche by now; I don't think I've seen it truly played straight, or at least played straight without a mention of the original.

But the Pocky thing seems to turn up whenever a romantic comedy anime, or even any anime with a hint of both romance and comedy, enters a scene which has party connotations. Two people are paired off by in-universe random chance, which happens to be something completely different beyond the fourth wall, concentrating on maximum hilarity potential. Some plot may even be progressed.

The only other party games I'm aware of with more harem romantic comedy anime screentime are Twister and what I've seen translated as the King's Game, which is the one with the numbered sticks and the one marked for the King, but which I can't seem to find on Wikipedia. For some reason Spin The Bottle is popular in fanfics, but I don't think I've seen an occasion in an anime itself. (Or if I have, it was quickly forgotten.) Twister makes for an excuse to entangle limbs of opposite genders, while the King's Game is straight in-character sadism.

This could be like the beach activity of splitting open watermelons by brute impact. We see it referenced in many places in anime, but as the girls in Lucky Star comment, only rich people can afford to do this, and rich people tend not to be the sort to do it. (Except for Haruka Nogizaka.)

I'm also assuming that I don't need to put a trademark sign after every mention of Pocky, since I don't know how. I know it's registered under Glico, but I'm hoping I don't get sued or anything for this, especially since strawberry-flavoured Pocky remains my favourite snack.

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Nervous Natsuru.

Why are most of the customers in the Maid-ish Cafe female? Fushigi mystery.

Contrary to what Kaede and apparently most of the NPC cast says, I don't really think Natsuru's Special Maid Outfit is all that attractive. It's too showy, and makes her look like she's Trying Too Hard to be sexy. Well, okay, she's not really; presumably it's the fault of the class rep and her cronies.

Thanks to the opening and ending animations, the identity of this New Kampfer is no surprise. What I did find refreshing was that the Obvious Questions asked in the usual fan-speculation manner are, if not answered, then at least acknowledged: where do Kampfers come from? Why are the Messengers all from the same toyline that apparently only Kaede likes? Is Kaede involved in this somehow?

I'm not actually expecting much by way of revelations in this season. If Kampfer gets extended for another season it would be nice, but for now I'll just enjoy this guilty pleasure without guilt, of cute girls in cute costumes, despite one of them only doing it part-time.

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Costume Contest.

I'm not sure that I would have done better if I had been in Natsuru's place. On the one hand, girls seem to get a lot more cosplay opportunities. On the other hand, having to keep in shape has to be a lot more difficult. Presumably part of the advantage of Kampfer-ism is the ability to keep a svelte figure no matter what the circumstances.

Gender-benders with the character in question switching back and forth have that extra risk involved of embarrassment when the transformation wears off somehow with the male character now in female clothes. This doesn't often apply the other way, apart from the character shrinking a few sizes, and the Clothes A Few Sizes Too Large thing can be pulled off as a fashion statement anyway.

So far Kampfer has not gone down that route, but I find it interesting that I seem to have this reluctance to see such a thing happening anyway. It's the equivalent in embarrassment quotient of those cliched dreams (which I've never had myself, although it must be a matter of time) where one is not wearing any pants. It's a level of schadenfreude that is quite beyond my tolerance.

This, even though I am perfectly happy to see a man (be he transformed into a pretty lady) caught between several women, and the dispute is not laced with Drama and Angst, but instead Wacky Comedy Hijinks. It's not serious, the show tells us. It's okay to laugh.

Hearing Yuko Goto as the perverted assistant class rep, especially using her Mikuru-voice, probably helps in that.

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Natsuru piinchi~

Kampfer has been getting… well, not rave reviews. It is, in fact, getting slammed pretty hard, in the way just about every show I like has been slammed at one point or another (the sole exception is Card Captor Sakura, which appears unslammable). The difference is that after all that slamming, if the slammer is still around, the disclaimer invariably appears: "it's bad, but I can't stop watching it."

There are apocryphal stories of Ranma 1/2, often cited to be the most popular gender-bender anime series among Anglophone audiences, being a sort of gateway to the realization of gender dysphoria among some viewers. Occasionally I suspect that the reason I keep playing as female characters in games is due to Ranma 1/2 being my very first anime. I don't think I have Gender Identity Disorder, because despite my interests and what I have been told is a disturbing lack of Internet Testosterone, I do still like looking at cute girls. Then again, you never know.

In all the male-to-female gender-bender stories that I have viewed, read, or otherwise experienced since then, assuming the story was made for popular consumption and not, say, a deliberate subversion (which to my view is good only for a one-shot gag, and quite unsustainable through an entire series), one truth appears to be unquestioned: the former male is certainly going to turn into an attractive female. It is a convention as established as drawing characters with the usual number of limbs and appendages.

Being that Kampfer is not the sort of show to troll viewers with a subversion in this, Natsuru appears to follow this trend. In fact, she (changing pronouns as appropriate) follows it too well, and I half-expect some sort of psuedo-scientific explanation of why she seems so popular among the female students. Perhaps Girl-Natsuru is seen to be more manly than Guy-Natsuru? It is a mystery.

And then there is the tradition of giving the genderbent-into-female character even larger cup-sizes than most of the rest of the cast, for no conceivable reason. (Well, other than the meta-reason of fanservice, which is always a good reason.) Presumably back problems are avoided by turning into girl-form only occasionally, but having those assets without any real need for them seems a little odd. Not unwelcome, just… odd.

In my darker moments, I often wonder if the joke about breasts being good flotation devices would preclude the existence of the Jusenkyo Spring of Drowned Girl, unless she was not as well-endowed as her spiritual descendants turned out to be.

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Are girls more flexible?

City of Heroes has a number of dance emotes, for a given value of "dance". This is because the animator who first manipulated the game model frames for this purpose based the moves off his own flailing attempts, and I use these less-than-flattering words because I am quoting to the best of my knowledge the man himself.

One of these dances, known among players as the Hyperactive Monkey, requires such great movements of the abdomen that when I introduced a friend to the game, she noted that doing that dance in real life would likely rupture something important.

Watching the ending animation for Kampfer, I cannot help but think of that phrase.

Kampfer has been billed as a "guilty pleasure", if it has been billed positively at all. While I am certainly going to be following this show, assuming it does not deviate too far from the source, I cannot quite call it a "guilty pleasure", as I feel refreshingly free of guilt.

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