The Wandering Witch–Offers a Short Review

Posted on Dec 24 2016

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Welcome, all, again–I wish you the happiest of whatever holidays you might be celebrating this time of year. With this viewing season winding down, I will in this column discuss those new shorts that have contributed so much entertainment despite their brevity. And there have been some great ones this season! With so many to choose from, I’ll have to limit myself to just four: Ninja Girl & Samurai Master; Kiitaro’s Yokai Picture Diary; KAIJU GIRLS; and Miss Bernard Said. These are the shorts that most impressed me.

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We’ll begin with Ninja Girl & Samurai Master, a three-and-a-half minute powerhouse of deadpan delivery of one-liners and slapstick physical comedy. This is without doubt my favorite short of the season! The storylines move swiftly, challenging the viewer to keep pace with two very different comedic tempos within the show: the rolling progression of the physical humor and the staccato bursts of keen dialogue. This becomes especially enjoyable to watch as you realize that the titular heroine, Chidori, really isn’t the sharpest tool in Nobunaga’s shed. That’s right, this show is set during Japan’s Sengoku (or Warring States) period and focuses upon the exploits of Oda Nobunaga–accomplished with the unacknowledged help of some Iga shinobi. Unacknowledged because ninja move in shadows, right? Maybe. Or maybe the Iga clan is just embarrassed that Chidori’s such an airhead. Regardless, sit back and watch a wild romp through history re-told! (And for a different take on this period and its leaders, check out SENGOKUCHOJYUGIGA, which is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. . .)

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Next is Kiitaro’s Yokai Picture Diary, slightly longer at four minutes per episode but crowded with just as many odd characters, most of them supernatural. Yokai means monster in Japanese, and each episode of this series introduces viewers to a different monster as it seeks to disrupt the lives of Kiitaro and Suzu. Kiitaro is a boy who has been expelled from his family’s main house and is living in a separate building on the property; Suzu, however, is actually a yokai herself. Suzu is a zashiki warashi, which is basically a spirit being in the form of a young girl. She shares Kiitaro’s new dwelling with him, and they become close friends. Kiitaro is perceptive to the supernatural, so Suzu helps him explore and navigate the world of yokai–and there seem to be a lot of them to find on his family’s place! Lucky for him, he seems to be a likable guy. . .

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But now to KAIJU GIRLS, a rollicking and irreverent homage to girl power, those crazy monsters from cheap Japanese sci-fi, and, of course, magical girl transformation sequences! I’m not even sure where to start with this one. Let’s see, three girls meet as they arrive at the location of an organization which has invited them to apply for membership, and they quickly form one of those instantaneous bonds of camaraderie found only amongst terrified initiates (or within suspect letters to certain suspect publications). Turns out that this organization, GIRLS, finds and recruits girls who have inherited the souls of kaiju, those incredibly diverse and powerful monsters populating decades-worth of Japanese post-apocalyptic science fiction. When triggered, these girls manifest the powers and characteristics of their particular monster–scaly feet, ashy elbows, and all! (And sincerest apologies to all the pedo-pervs out there, but these girls have real curves shining through their naked spinning scenes–I mean, their transformations.) So, how do they control all that wild energy? Through training and the use of soul riders, PDA-like devices that focus their powers. It’s stupid fun, so why not try watching?

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Last on our list is Miss Bernard Said, a glorious “back-atcha!” to all the condescending, snobbish bookworms you remember from school. Sawako Machida wants to cultivate the cool, aloof image of the self-absorbed reader engrossed in works of literary merit. Sadly, she doesn’t have the mental or emotional stamina to actually read much. So, what to do? Obviously, she should hang out in the school library and harangue those students who live her dream image, all the while trying to worm her way into their groups and discussions. It’s foolproof, right? Well, more than once she gets proven the fool, but there’s something to say for persistence. More stupid fun that’s well worth watching!

And that’s pretty much it for this time. Thank you, dear readers, for another wonderful year! I’m eagerly looking forward to discovering new anime in the months to come, and will happily continue to share my discoveries with you. And while I no longer write for Crunchyroll’s Takeout newsletter, I do now offer reviews at https://anotheranimereview.com, and welcome you to visit me there. Again, I wish you and yours a happy holiday season and a joyous New Year! Now off to Rabbit House for some cocoa. . .

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