Izetta Ep3 — rampage

IZETTA SMASH !!!izetta3-hulk-smash

Spoiler lamp is ON

TLDR summary:

Yes, the puny Elystadt army is overwhelmed, yes, they are cannon fodder before the planes, bombs and tanks of the alt-Wehrmacht. Watch them die tragically, heroically.


Awwwww crap this is going on much too long.izetta-ch3-lose-lives-buy-time

Yes, 16 minutes and 16 seconds of episode time, if you want to be picky about it.
Wait, what’s that?
…Up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane… izetta3-up-in-sky

Finally roused to action, Izetta skewers the alt-Luftwaffe and then descends to the battlefield to throw tanks around like the Hulk. The Princess is happy Izetta didn’t bug off. The enemy is vanquished! The troops cheer! izetta3-troops-cheer

No pantsu shots. Must learn to accelerate antique swords to mach 6 lest they just bounce off tanks izetta3-tank-bounce

Pacing in episode 3 seemed off, at least in comparison to the adventurous clip of the first and first half of the second episodes. I suspect that the grinding on the battlefield situation was a nod towards the military fans.

The defending Elystadt troop seemed decked out in WWI vintage French and Belgian -ish kit.

The over-confident alt-nazi general staff were right out of central casting. It would be interesting if in later episodes princess Fine takes a more active role in the defense of the realm, rather than simply standing as as figurehead to rally the troops, who mop up after Izetta hurls tanks around and shatters enemy planes. The one Elystadt general that we have seen came across as a doddering blowhard. A Princess with the tactical imagination of a field marshal would be a great compliment to a super-powered magical girl.

The story also requires some Izetta-kryptonite and spy vs spy skullduggery, if only to put a few more characters (seen in the PV) into play. Meanwhile


Look at the powerful duo.
Lets just hope the pace picks up.

Izetta Ep2 — backstories

Spoiler lamp is ON


TLDR summary:

Izetta and Princess Fine met and were friends for a brief time when they were young. The Princess saved her from a peasant mob and suffered a nasty wound to her side in the process. There are limits to Izetta’s powers and she was raised to hide them. The alt-nazis killed her family when they captured her; she will kill to defend herself. The alt-nazis have a foothold in Elystadt; Izetta managed to carry the wounded Princess to the relative safety of a retreating column of Elsystadt troops. Izetta pleads to stay by Fine’s side even as Fine tries to convince her to flee to safety. Meanwhile the alt-gestapo agents from the train resolve to hunt Izetta down. The story so far is a class-S young women’s fast friendship mixed in with a (quasi) WWII battlefield adventure.

Episode two of Izetta etc gives us the quick alt-nazi war footage by way of introduction and then jumps to some cheesecake in the opening credits. When the music fades we are back in mid-air with the Princess in
Izetta’s arms, just as we left them at the end of the first episode. The pacing is brisk and after a brief “whoa how do you fly this thing” near-miss with mountains, our two heroes find themselves chased by alt-luftwaffe fighter planes. Here Izetta shows that besides touching an object to control it, she can also splatter her blood on objects and exert powerful magic at a distance. Enemy planes fall to her ice shards after she lures them into chasing her close to the snowy ground. The Princess gets the last plane with a single shot from the anti-material rifle that they are riding. After they land safely Izetta caries the weakened Princess until they meet up with a column of retreating Elystadt troops. After some field first aid, the party holes up in a ruined mansion and the princess hears of how bad the war is going.

Episode 2 is relatively short on fan-service as the story begins to edge towards an adventurous tale of friendship between two young women facing an implacable foe; almost the stuff of traditional shonen fare. Only the opening credits drop in some odly out-of-place fan-service, along with plenty of tanks and guns. Izetta is a courageous red-headed young girl; the nod to “Red Haired Anne” [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-dawes/anne-of-green-gables-japan_b_4899252.html] the western tale that showed that young women could have fast friendships without suffering terrible retribution (a la Flower Tales) from the fates, is obvious. Houston, we have a Class-S [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_S_(genre)] adventure; think “bromance” with young women (which has to be one of the more convoluted ways of describing the effect, but if it works, roll with it…) See as well: http://okazu.yuricon.com/category/history-of-yuri/page/3/


More of Akagi no Anne: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GN8yqsNCG-A

As the episode ends, the alt-wehrmacht is advancing through Elystadt and the Princess has ordered Izetta to flee.

Genshiken ch120 extra – the second raid

Something like the missing 18 minutes of tape.


(Wow, that dates me!)

She who…graciously offered me a summary of the two 4-koma strips that were included as volume extras for V20. I had been very very very curious as to what Madarame and Hato-as-chan talked about when Mada dragged Hato off for a longer conversation at the temple.

It looks at first like more of the same. Dismissing it as such would be a mistake.

Right panel: Mada asks Hato about how a seme x uke pairing is established. Physical attributes? Hato starts to fan out as to how a seme can also be a wimp who lacks confidence, a uke can be assertive, that emotional traits add variation to pairings.

Left panel: Mada confused, blurts out a question to Hato: Why the ??? do you like BL? What most drew you to it? Hato replies that the most important aspect of BL-ish m:m romance, for him/her is “absolute trust“. This leaves Mada flustered..


Hmmm again.

Normally these volume extras are supposed to be funny. Discussing the intricacies of rotten pairing conventions might carry a whiff of nervous discomfort hah hahs for the uninitiated but this hardly makes the effort worthwhile. As for the “absolute trust” thing, it sounds like some of the stock disclaimers that BDSM enthusiasts toss off when defending their hobby. While not unheard of in the literature surrounding yaoi, BL and fujoshi lore, it is not high on the list of usual talking points.

Hmmm a third time.

Have a bonus panel. The Ch 120 cliff-hanger as a caption contest!

120 clean caption contest web.jpg

I promise to work more of this in to one or more of the Genshiken Nidaime wrap-up posts that I have been alternately grinding on and avoiding for the last few months.

In the meantime, Izetta ep 2 was Way Kewl!

I am brave and I am pious

Izetta: The Last Witch/  Shumatsu no Izetta / Izetta, Die Letzte Hexe
Now streaming on Crunchyroll Premium
(as well as all the usual dodgy anime sites)


The drawbacks to spending too much time hanging out on social media are well known, but the occasional benefits should also be noted. Like running into a fan-storm of anticipation when a kewl new thing is set to break — especially when the property lives up to the hype.

Izetta is way kewl. Astro Nerd Boy has an excellent summary of Ep1 (some spoilers) and appreciation up on his site [http://anime.astronerdboy.com/2016/10/izetta-the-last-witch-01.html ] and notes how, unlike many current properties in contemporary Japanese animation, Izetta is not a derivative product adapted from a manga, a light novel or a game; part of a media mix strategy to sell a crap-load of otaku crap to otaku. Just wait a few weeks. I have a feeling that it will become one of those rare efforts, where an original story anime serves as the anchor to a product flood. It is that good.

a tomboy princess steals a lesbian magical girl from the nazis #izetta
–Twitter: “muro ‏@kisomuro Oct 1

Well, not-quite nazis…

Princess Fine (Fi-ne) of the Principality of Elystadt is in a desperate situation. It is 1940  in alternate-universe Europe and even though Germania missed its Trump moment, it still has an Emperor (maybe they didn’t miss it and the deranged art school dropout crowned himself?), a very large mechanized military and a really vicious case of lebensraum. So much for IATT bulletin 1147.

The story team’s decision to scrap some of the usual nazi drag, while retaining all the 1940’s military tech and germanic ambience recalls Sergei Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky and it’s “Teutonic Knights”

Note the gold-plated Lugers the alt-gestapo operatives carry.
Very Teutonic Knight.

The inscription, favoured by the British SAS is an odd choice. The German motto on the flag of Elystadt is a better touch:

“ich bin tapfer und bin fromm”

Elystadt is also ethnic-Germanian-ic (it seems to be coincident with western Austria, through to Liechtenstein, the latter of which also has a two-color horizontal barred flag) and is full of deep-wooded magical germanian-ic forests. His Germanian Emperor-ness wants their occult mana as well as Elystat’s precision machinists. His agents have already captured and sealed up a young red-haired witch in a very steam-punk-ish containment pod (reminiscent of Branagh’s Frankenstein). Princess Fine, while on the run from Germanian agents had previously bumped into it. Her second encounter, captured, on a cargo plane and menaced by rape-y alt-nazis is enough to wake Izetta, unseal the pod and blast the back end off the plane. In a Ghibli-esque moment, the princess and the woken young witch plummet through the debris-filled air.

…Along with a handy-dandy honkin big anti-material rifle. Hmmmmmm… A distinct lack of broomsticks, Hmmmmm… Damn! This thingy has cold metal in uncomfortable spots. Oh shit right:

Princess Get!

It seems the princess, or perhaps some long past ancestor who looked just like her, once saved the young witch (or some long past ancestor who looked just like her) from the usual angry peasant mob.

Twitter explains this trope quite succinctly:
“You swerve to avoid a squirrel. Unknown to you, the squirrel pledges a life debt to you. In your darkest hour, the squirrel arrives.” –Twitter (var.)

Just in case it hasn’t snuck up and beaned you on the head yet, Izetta is built with a good helping light yuri subtext. The character notes, per ANN, give us:

“If I am promised to the princess, then I will fight for her sake.”

Once again the Twitter commentary is pithy:

Sometimes, I think people float in the air with sparkles secretly hoping they’ll eventually be seen. #izetta” –Elel ‏@HolyAjora

Other Twitter-ratti have noted Izetta’s Raiders of the Lost Ark vibe. As well, the fan-service, though light so far, is just enough for class-s soulful girl-friendship yuri; too much grope-y skinship would necessitate a boy hero main character’s embarrassed gaze. As well as a mob of beer-serving, dirndl-clad, cleavage-displaying moe-blobs. What we might fail to notice in all this is how our Princess has just acquired her own cute and very devoted kinetic energy weapon. Izetta can control and direct anything she touches; she is a magical-girl railgun. It might take her a while to level up from sending swarms of jousting lances into Stukas and Messerschmitts to something more logistically practical:

Wonder if she can do one-meter iron rods at mach 6? † 

Some limits are going to have to be imposed on Izetta’s powers lest the war conclude in Episode 2 with a rain of hypersonic gothic cathedrals dropped from low orbit on alt-Berlin.

Personally, I feel that while a measured response against a mechanised alt-nazi empire’s war machine might be heroically romantic, it is a poor strategy. Kill it with fire! Similarly, if magic sparkly forest sprites stall out the baddies’ plane and drop a gold luger into your hands, best to start shooting alt-nazis while you can. Without hesitation. Most European royalty were trained from childhood how to so react. It was a tough neighbourhood.

Sadly, turning Izetta into a psycho lesbian magical-girl WMD would lose the chance to recycle a shit-tonne of WWII movie and anime battle-girl tropes. That also means that Princess Fine cannot be too bloodthirsty. Resolute, heroic but not cold-blooded. The challenge to the story team is one of restraint; You could really stuff this thing to the rafters with every last toy in the prop room. They must also take care to avoid the shonen-ish ever-escalating destroy-everything magical battles of doom treadmill: that gets stale fast.

I give you this on my word of honour. You are now free of the need to watch D-Gray-man: Hallow. K-rist! What a stinkerI think the idea was to turn the boy lead into some kind of fujoshi pain-fetish-toy; he keeps getting battered about and losing limbs. Otherwise it is endless new characters with ever-levelled up powers, poignantly tragic flashie-backs, angry brooding glances from dude #2 and random magical battle destruction. It also suffers from story discontinuity, cardboard characters, secret occult factional intrigue and a bad case of woobie. I had no idea they still made anime this bad.

Did I mention Ralph Bakshi’s Wizards?

Ok, it was kind of interesting way back in 1977, but the filler footage… Gehhhhhh! Could have been cut to 19 minutes. Oh what the heck, roll it:

Anyway; don’t do magic vs quasi-nazi war machine that way.

Meanwhile Izetta has fine animation, good pacing and at least two, probably more heroic female characters. Heroic guy characters too, although Hime’s guys (so far) keep getting shot. Joker-Game style inscrutable spies and sneering villains. An extra helping 1930’s decor and oak panelling. Frilly costume drama princess gowns for those who might want some. The writers and producers might even be angling for women viewers. The fanservice x ballroom gown ratio in the next couple of episodes should tell how serious they are about this. Did I see a Taka-ish woman Elystadt palace guard officer in the preview clip?

This will make for a fun 12 weeks if they can keep up the pace.


† Assuming a 5cm thick 1 meter iron rod accelerated constantly to a terminal velocity of mach 6, impact energies in the range of 40 – 60 MegaJoules can be anticipated. “For comparison, 50MJ is equivalent to the kinetic energy of a school bus weighing 5 metric tons, travelling at 509 km/h (316 mph).” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railgun]
Magical Girls are not to be trifled with.


Normally I loathe student-teacher pairing plots…


I will make an exception because of the absurd level of WTF(!!!) cheesiness that Jitsu Wa Watashi Wa continues to pile on, chapter after chapter…

The small horned creature center background is her grandmother, the demon high school principal, who does not want her grand-daughter, the 29yr old spinster ex-girl-gang leader teacher to …

Awwwwwwww Fuggggetttit… 

Fansplaining’s fanfiction survey

Fansplaining has a survey that will reveal your most intimate fanfiction desires!


With the winding down of Genshiken Nidaime, this blog can revert to its true form; a series of disjointed tracts from a sketchy fundamentalist cult based on vulgar readings of Dr. Saito Tamaki‘s theories on otaku subjectivity and desire. ‘Round these parts, when we ain’t doing snake-handlin’ and speakin’ in tongues (the way of pastor Hopkins), we perform the rituals of libidinised reading and appropriative secondary production; sometimes tarted up for the university heathens as “Transformative works”.crack-fanfaction-gospel-web

The most fearsome of these doin’s ‘o secondary production is to go into a trance and readeth, even maketh fic. As the Genshiken and Tamaki-dono hath decreed, so mote it be, even if it is best motied off-stage and out of view.

What amazing varieties and ways there be to partake in these spiritual exercises! Such love! Such devotion!

Wanna help us do a BIG analysis of fanfiction tropes and themes? Our official survey is live! Please take and share:

The Fansplaining Fic Preferences Survey:

The good folks at Fansplaining have been making and posting interesting podcasts on western fan practice (with a strong emphasis on slashy fandoms) for a while now. Notable is their commitment to posting transcripts of these, usually a week or so after the podcast.

see: http://fansplaining.com/ and http://fansplaining.com/about

c123p9-transactional-webThe Genshiken is all about rude doujin makin. Draw what you know, neh? Kio-gami is a mangaka, not a light novel writer. For those us us who skivved out on drawing classes, scribbling is easier than scratching. Plaisir de texte and all that..


If you have been so bitten by the bug, or are even a bit curious I commend to you the Fansplaining survey; so that you might opine (and gaze in awe!) on their introductory typology of western fic tropes. The survey biases towards slashy narratives, bien sur, because there just ain’t that many dudes writing long grinds about their epic FPS map clearing forays. The absence of sections on machine-generated crapfic and on trollfic are also telling. I am a bit saddened even as the omission is understandable.

That Halo troll-fic machinima ain’t got no schmex might be the most convincing proof of the existence of a merciful deity yet.

Behind my flippant tone is of course a small dumpster full of shame — hey, it’s a guy thing. But the fun of reading or trying one’s own hand at a short “what-if” with your fave charas is more than just a diversion. Nothing short of scanlation encourages such close reading as trying to jam your headcanon onto an existing property. You really, really begin to obsess over minutiae. Even a trash ship (one of those can’t exactly define it but you’ll know it when it sneaks up and bites you on the leg things) demands a serious and very detailed consideration of the original materials. The only risk is having your mind gripped by the unshakeable conviction that the author pulled their lame compromise resolution out of -ahem- the air and that the only possible way it could have gone (if the editors hadn’t spiked it) would have been a beach-front marriage in Hawaii.

Followed by a Saturday afternoon spent shopping for curtains.


113 pages of wooden dialogue between two very hungover idiots trying to wrap their aching heads around their predicament.


Oh my! So many possibilities. This woobie thing; maybe that’s a bit too squick?

Go forth and completeth the survey, and remember:


Upon a stage of sand

A status update of sorts.


Soon, the last chapter of Genshiken Nidaime will show up on various grey places on the internet, with magically shooped-in english words. To say that I am feeling withdrawal symptoms already would be an understatement.

Rest assured, I will keep this blog going: the search is on for a viable approach to the continued examination of how Contemporary Japanese Visual Culture and its artifacts do so many neat things with fan desire. It is just going to get a bit bumpy as I fit new landing gear to this thing.

Meanwhile… Diversion Time! 


From the 11th, on through to the 25th, the September Grand Sumo Tournament is on!

Don’t ask me how I became a somewhat-fan of Sumo. I loathe professional sports. I loathe professional sports on a visceral and intellectual level. Do not go there, Just think of everything you despise and hate, add logical arguments for your feelings plus a gut-level disgust and then multiply by a factor of as much free time as you can muster. I have lots of time.

Fortunately, Sumo is different.


It is a socio-religious ritual.
No tournament, no more Sumo?
Perhaps the sun will not rise tomorrow.

This leads to a few considerations:

  1. If it is 4pm through to 6pm in Tokyo, what time is it in my time zone?
  2. Why must the Japanese Sumo Association and NHK be so freaking tight-fisted about live-streaming the tournaments? $10 a day on Ustream or a cable subscription to NHK sports, IF the local cable co has it and IF I have cable.
  3. Highlights and daily summary videos don’t cut it. It is all WHOMP when the wrestlers launch at each other and then one of them is out of the ring. No build-up, no drama, NO RITUAL! In short; it is treated like a sport. Add one more thing to the “why I hate” pile. It has to be live feed to capture the drama and the spectacle.

However, If I find that a Japanese government cultural initiative has made the live NHK feed of the tournaments available to an asian country’s national broadcaster, on the basis of that country’s longstanding interest and involvement in Sumo, and that for some reason, their web streaming service is available to me…


There goes my sleep schedule.

Here’s a pile of web links:

Official NHK site: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/tv/sumo/

Good sports fan site: http://www.cibersumo.com/index.php/en/

(you’ll need a throw-away email address to reg up on the streaming site, plus Google Translate to navigate)


A live Sumo tournament is a wonder to behold, even if one is way back in the cheap seats during a weekday, early on in a tournament. Actually there are no “cheap” or “seats” but you and a friend might manage to get an entire four-cushion railed-square to yourselves. Yes, you take your shoes off and don’t spill your food and drink on the carpet, please! The crowds are well behaved, except for the drunk oyagi who yell out their fave’s name and sing randomly during matches. If a high-ranking wrestler wins a difficult bout that clinches a loss-free tournament, the crowd might toss their cushions in celebration. These displays invariably only happen after the last, highest ranked match of the afternoon. Everything is usually over by 6pm.


Unlike western pro sports, the wrestlers make a show of good sportsmanship, modesty and serious behavior in the ring. There is no trash talking, prima donna acting out, or cheap shots. The closest I have ever seen to a foul was what looked to me like a masterful fake-out: a high-ranked veteran, nursing an injury on his left side, faked to one side, then dodged to the other during the face-off and effortlessly face-planted his bewildered opponent with a light tap on the back. To me, it looked like a genius move but it earned the winner the vocal disapproval of the crowd and later, a warning from the association. It might be a “legal” move but it was considered a cheat to the fans, who paid to see the wrestlers wrestle.


So: a holy rite. Stop with the TV coverage that treats it like a mere “sport”.

If I had the ears of the highest ranks of the Japanese government, I would beg they knock heads at the NHK and the Sumo Association, then drop a nice hefty subsidy on both in the name of tourism and cultural exchange, that the tournament feeds be made available free for a worldwide audience.

Make sure the bow ceremony at the end doesn’t get cut out, DAMMIT!

That also means showing the entire award presentation at the end of the tournament too, down to the last 40kg bag of rice and chromed tractor engine (the awards get odd, it becomes a charming form of product placement) that the lucky tournament champ has to lift to accept. I swear, I would never get tired of it.

Damn! It’s 5am!

It’s Ok, we’ll wait…

Well, that’s a wrap for Genshiken Nidaime…

The last chapter of The Genshiken is out on the magazine stands and digital sales sites in Japan. The ending echoes the first generation’s graduation, but offers strong hints of a continuing tradition within the club and the possibility that we may see more of the characters and stories we grew to love. Will Kio Shimoku eventually decide to do a Third Generation, a sendaime?

Would he continue from where he left off or jump ahead a decade, allowing ‘Spotted-verse” cameos by the old crew? His boat, his call. For now, a well-earned break, perhaps a diversion or two.

Congratulations! Heartfelt thanks! Have a relax…

No pressure, we’ll be waiting.


Of further interest: Dr. Maniax has a summary and impressions up on his blog:

Chapters 125 & 126: Ghost Pain

“The author should not pull a Rame when writing about Rame pulling a Rame.”
– Forum comment, ch 125

HNK that right web

Warning! Spoiler lamp for chapters 125 & 126 is on.

One chapter left before the curtain comes down on the second generation of the Genshiken. I suspect that at this point, Kio Shimoku is writing with an eye to a smooth adaption for any potential second cours of an anime. Those of us who were used to more robust plotting and longer setups must look at the rushed, even forced concluding chapters with mixed feelings, once we get over the initial shock that our beloved franchise may be, if not terminated, at least on extended sabbatical.

Continue reading

Force Majeure

Go on you two… Say something!


Chapter 126, the second-last chapter of Genshiken Nidaime has hit the newsstands in Japan (as well as some of the nefarious grey regions of the intertubes). It sure looks like Saki Kasukabe has laid down the law: Mada and Sue must talk. They have no choice in the matter.

Some wag advanced the theory that the entire arc of the Genshiken, of both generations and umpteen reader years, was based on the fundamental idea of setting Madarame up with a girlfriend.

Oh My! They all look so cute! I am feeling wistful.