Anime fans fornever

Angel Cop – Repulsive, Uncomfortable, Anti-Semitic

Growing up as an impressionable teenager in the mid-90s meant that my first taste of anime came through Manga Entertainment’s infamous VHS releases; sex, violence and science fiction were the orders of the day and as cheap and nasty as this kind of anime often was, I must admit I still think back on that time of my life quite fondly.

Angel Cop is the epitome of everything Manga (at least in the UK) used to stand for; it’s sinister, bereft of moral fibre and overflowing with such uncompromising violence. And when I say violence, I’m not talking about your sweet Elfen Lied rag dolls. Here is a morbid attention to detail which often forces some quite repulsive and uncomfortable scenes of murder and mayhem. I can best describe it is truly visceral gore. The titular lead character is Angel; a harder, nastier version of Matoko Kunsagi with a hatred for terrorists so deep that she is willing to kill a young kid if it means taking down her unenviable target.

Reading up on Angel Cop shows that it caused quite the controversy when first released in the West due to (according to Anime News Network) “… a rather blatant anti-Semitic slant, however both the dub and the subtitles were altered to a certain degree to cover this”. I am yet to see anything approaching racism in these first couple of episodes, though such an offensive subtext would hardly surprise me given the director is Ichiro Itano, who has previously worked with such questionable content in Violence Jack and to a lesser extent, Gantz.

Based on these opening episodes, I must admit that I am quite enjoying my look back at Angel Cop. Nostalgia often has a way of making things seem better than they actually are (imagine my disappointment when I realized Transformers: The Movie actually wasn’t the greatest film of all time, for shame) but this is still holding up today, despite being produced as an OVA series way back in 1989. The action is fierce and shocking and the visuals are reassuringly striking, combining those wonderful (read: ugly, Brian May-esque) hair cuts from the 80s with an exciting science fiction plot involving special government agents fighting psychically-powered vigilantes and pumped up cyborgs. What more could an action junkie want?

The declining Western anime industry

The imminent bankrupsy of Central Park Media (CPM) forecasts a bleak year ahead for the US anime industry, but given there are more fans now than ever before, one would assume that the opposite should be true. The Anime Almanac has an answer, though I’m not sure whether they are right; it seems fansubs are to blame.

The internet is a great tool for sharing information and this is especially true for the anime community. People are now able to watch new series months (sometimes years) ahead of their local releases and later even share opinions with other like-minded fans (e.g. the anime blogsphere). From the fans’ perspective, this is great, though looking out from say ADV’s base in Houston, it must be frustrating.

ADV US recently licensed “This Ugly Yet Beautiful World” – a 13 episode TV series from none other than Neon Genesis Evangelion and FLCL maestro’s GAINAX. Coming from GAINAX, it should be a license to print money, but “This Ugly Yet Beautiful World” is actually a complete load of rubbish, and there-in lays the problem. Suffice to say had I not watched this show fansubbed a few years back, I would be a lot more interested in it than I am today.

For many of us newer fans, simply being anime is no longer good enough; in this rapidly maturing community, companies can not just go out and license everything under the sun because now the fans won’t have it; we now know what is good from what is bad.

The boom of the early 2000s has led to another problem too. The Japanese companies noticed how successful their anime was becoming in the international markets and decided to bump up the cost of licensing. Now we are in a situation where the US companies are less than willing to throw around their money and the Japanese are asking for too much anyway. Stalemate.

Fansubs are still at the forefront of a newer generation of fandom, while the DVD industry is stuck years behind floundering in the past. The music industry recovered from the MP3 revolution by embracing it; and if it wants to survive, sooner or later the anime industry will have to do the same thing.

Tobira O Akete (Open the Door)

Being a big fan of the works of Koji Morimoto (Memories: Magnetic Rose, Animatrix: Beyond), I was quite pleased when I managed to track down one of his lesser known shorts – Tobira O Akete (Open the Door).

Imagine a decidedly more colourful version of British animation classic The Snowman; a young girl is swept from her bedroom and taken on a magical flying journey through an amazing fantasy world of vivid colour and odd creatures.

The drawing style, as you would expect of these experimental OVAs, is quite unique. As if to mirror the imagination of a young kid, there is more emphasis put on shape and colour than strict detail, evoking a potent mixture of magic and wonder.

Given just how surreal and vivid Tobira O Akete is, it is hard to know whether or not everything that happens was just a dream. It is fun to watch though and took me back to a time when the world really was a kaleidoscope of wonderful colours and impossible shapes.

One Piece – Episodes 78 through 91 – The Chopper Arc

Much like a snowball rolling down a mountain, my outright love of One Piece is now out of control, ready to smash anything that dares stand in its way. I’d seen images of Chopper before this arc, but never did I expect his history to be so frightfully tear jerking, so utterly heart breaking and magical. This is no doubt a big reason why I so enjoy anime like One Piece; every character, even a talking reindeer with a blue nose like Chopper, is fleshed out as a brilliant, larger than life personality, dogged with tragedy yet still content, nay determined, to move on with life, to achieve his own personal dreams.

No doubt this will go down as my favourite story arc of One Piece (so far). When an endearing character like Doctor Hiruluk dies out to a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria, it’s hard not to get swept up in the moment, overcome with the tragedy Chopper’s loss yet filled with admiration for the deceased final words, a speech filled with the kind of optimistic philosophy that fills your heart with a such reassuring warmth and hope for life.

The idea that someone never dies if you inherit their memories and their will is a message that lies at the heart of One Piece. Gold Roger’s greatest achievement was in his final words, echoed at the beginning of every episode, the words that gave birth to a thousand dreams. Similarly, Doctor Hiruluk’s limitless passion and impossible ambition lives on through Chopper. This was anime at its best, at its most powerful and I love it (to pieces, one might say!).

Naruto – 186 – The episode where Shino laughs

This episode makes a mockery of everything Naruto stands for and as a hardcore fan, there is a guilty voice saying I should be completely offended by it, but honestly, this episode was so off the wall and slapstick funny that I could not help but love every minute of it.

The premise is brilliant. Naruto and Shino are asked to attend a funeral on behalf of a “client”, the catch is that if the other guests at the funeral can make Naruto or Shino laugh, they will get a cut of the deceased’s fortune; cue some of the most surreal, weirdest attempts at humour seen this side of Cromartie High School. Given how serious this show usually is, it makes a nice refreshing change (especially within the confines of such endless, empty filler) to see the likes of Shino and Naruto just cut loose and laugh their heads off.

Episode 186 will not go down as the finest example of the Naruto anime, but right here, right now, I have to admit this is the most fun I have salvaged from Naruto for what feels like years.

Jyu-Oh-Sei – 5 through 6 – Lost Love

To my frank and utter bemusement, we are now over half way through the 11 episodes of Jyu-Oh-Sei and although a part of me is glad to see every episode crammed full with so much story and character development, I can’t help but lament a narrative which is clearly moving a bit too fast for its own good, not least of all Thor’s transition from talented kid to Ochre Ring’s respected Top in a measly two episodes.

It is a shame because the rest of this show is outstanding. The planet of Chimera strikes me as a colourful, vast and dangerous place to live, the main characters convey and conceal their ambitions admirably and the story drives ever onwards with themes of love, betrayal, conspiracy and strength. Watching the likes of Thor and Tiz grow into adults adds a real sense of the depth to their personalities and if only we had 26 episodes to play with, the interwoven character relationships could have crushed us with their climaxes; in particular, it would have been great to see a few more scenes devoted to fleshing out such an inevitably tragic heroine like Chen.

Jyu-Oh-Sei is an exciting and immersive experience, but now I’m doubtful it can become a real classic.

Fan-girl translation of the above:

I love Jyu-Oh-Sei! Not that I seen all the episodes in the anime nor read the manga but it makes me really happy to watch how cute they all are 2gether! yay! And aww, Third are sooooo cute!!! Why aren’t boys in the “real” as cute as him? mwihihi ^^
well to everyone who reads this, just watch the anime it’s worth it!!!

Reigniting the flames of fansubs

In an interview with ActiveAnime, Viz Media’s director of PR Evelyn Dubocq slammed all forms of internet piracy. Despite the generic corporate style of her responses (which show little-to-no knowledge of the anime community as a whole), Dubocq’s remarks have inevitably reignited the flames of debate within the anime community.

On one side we have the hippy-like fansubbers who feel like everything should be free and on the other, there are the hard-line DVD fans, their motto is that “anime is a luxury, not a right”.

Now before we go any further into this entry, we may as well ascertain one simple fact; by downloading and watching anime fansubs, you are breaking the law; irregardless of if it’s “unlicensed” outside of Japan, you are infringing copyright law.

Now that you know this, whether or not you watch fansubs is, and always should be, a question of considered personal ethics. I can only speak for myself, but the reason I download anime is because I am a fan and to put it simply, I just want to watch the latest and greatest shows as soon as possible. I’m not patient enough to wait another year for the US DVD releases and heck, we live in modern times now; we shouldn’t have to wait so long anyway.

Now I’m aware no one is entitled to anime- after all, like the hardliners say, it is a luxury, but my love of anime knows no bounds. I’m not downloading fansubs because they are free, but rather, just because it is anime and I want to watch it now.

By picking up fansubs am I hurting the Western anime industries? No. Given how niche a genre this really is, anime has and always will survive through fan-driven word of mouth. Naruto is the most downloaded anime of all time; at it’s highest point over two hundred thousand people were downloading new episodes every week, has this detracted from it’s runaway success in the United States? Has it even affected DVD sales?

Of course there will always be leechers that only download anime and never buy the real thing, but then, if say fansubs magically disappeared tomorrow, would they suddenly begin investing their hard earned cash in official anime DVDs instead? Of course not, once a cheap skate, always a cheap skate. No money is lost or gained on these people.

The world of anime fansubs is not as black and white as some will have you believe; unless you are 4Kids (in which case; fuck you), they should never be considered a replacement for the official DVDs but similarly, unless a better- and legal- means of previewing subtitled anime becomes available, fansubs will always serve an absolutely vital service to anime fans, something I am very grateful for.

Naruto – 185 – Grotesque Pet

And so begins another 23 minutes of pure time filling anime, Naruto-style. But despite it’s stupid premise, episode 185 wasn’t too bad; at least it was funny. These one-shot episodes are surely more suited to absurd comedy than say last week’s rushed mess of unoriginal drama.

I’m sure we all have a mild fear of wild animals, especially those that drop out of the sky, grotesquely attach themselves to our bodies and then grow bigger over the ensuing weeks. It’s disturbing how Naruto actually takes to his furry mutation (called Onbu) quite well, even if in one particularly gross scene, it pisses all over his back! Not to mention that he gets treated like a leper by his “friends” and of course, there is the smell too, how can Naruto stand the smell?!

As stupid as sounds, I have to admit I was even quite touched when Onbu carried Naruto back home; a nice display of brotherly-love never fails to warm the heart! This was hardly a return to form, but for what it’s worth, the gross out comedy hit all the right notes.

Black Lagoon – 4 – Neo Nazis

The beauty of Black Lagoon is that it knows exactly what it is; pure action, and then forcing the volume way past maximum. If last time flying submarines weren’t enough for you, how do Neo-Nazi’s sound?

The Black Lagoon is after a precious Nazi painting (commissioned by none other than the Fuhrer himself, Hitler) that has been sleeping with the fishes for a good 50 years, since the collapse of World War 2. It’s an easy 50k for Dutch and his crew until a regiment of hard ass Neo-Nazi’s crash the party and decide they want the painting too.

Of course, it’s unfair for me to label Black Lagoon as all action, because while the gunplay surely plays a pivotal role in this show, the characterization and setting is equally as strong. In just 12 minutes, I found myself carefully invested in a doomed Nazi submarine captain and feeling his subordinates’ claustrophobic horror when told they have but 2 hours left to live.

The kid within me just wants to go giddy at the flashy, powerful style of Black Lagoon, but its true strength lies within a compelling ability to weave personal stories within the context of such sheer explosive madness.

Kiba – 7 – Hollow Defeat

As insane as it may sound, the last two episodes of Kiba were actually quite good! If you then stop to consider that they also didn’t feature its main character, there is something undoubtedly wrong.

To keep me interested, a show has to have an interesting, involving and immersive story; Kiba doesn’t have that. Likeable and unpredictable characters can also help too; no such luck for Kiba here either, we gleaned some of these elements in the previous two episodes, but now we are back to Zed’s gladiatorial timeline any semblance of potential has flown out of the window.

Mindless, derivative action is about the only way I can describe this episode. As much as I wanted to see Kiba retain last week’s promising conclusion, I can’t hide from the fact that Zed and his general story is so incredibly cliche, predictable and hollow that watching Kiba is good for only one thing; reminding me how important genuinely innovative and creative anime actually is.

Tokko – 3 – When Phantoms from Hades attack!

The mysteries behind Tokko are slowly starting to unravel amidst yet more greasy siscon innuendo and extreme blood letting. As blunt as Tokko often is, it makes a refreshing change to watch such a traditional horror show for once. It is said that the monsters (or as they will now be known; phantoms) have “literally crawled up from Hades” and are attracted to their victims by the strong scent of survivors (people who, including Ranmaru, have survived previous phantom attacks).

Every episode is bound to have its moment of extreme violence and here, it happens right at the end when a group of doctors are attacked by a heaving swarm of screeching worm-like parasites- the end result of which being that they are all transformed into mindless, rowdy zombies. Cue samurai swords, exploding eye balls and the rest; if nothing else, Tokko is good for a few exploding eye balls.

It’s funny how after all this happens, the characters can still switch back into their playboy modes and head out on the lash; episode 3 ends with Ranmaru and his sister taking part in an utterly horrific-looking group date, a date eventually crashed by the hilariously thick-witted, obviously perverted TOKKI boss, no doubt on his way back from the local yakuza meet.

Jyu-Oh-Sei – 3 through 4 – Nature bites back

Again I get my hit of Jyu-Oh-Sei in double dosage, and again I’m left feeling completely intoxicated by it. It’s the story that I love; so thick with detail, almost every scene contributes something new or shocking, continuously building on the already heavy narrative with yet more helpings of tribal politics, social commentary and romantic entanglement.

The only real problem with Jyu-Oh-Sei is the intense homoerotic undercurrent. Consider Thor’s skimpy clothes and Third’s “friendly” personality and clearly this is a show perfect for the ladies’ Noitamina animation block in Japan (having previously aired Paradise Kiss amongst others). I’m not a lady though, so I’d rather Thor put on some trousers and get a haircut- and undoubtedly, it’s this very camp aesthetic style that has made it easier for people to write off Jyu-Oh-Sei- their loss, really.

By episode four, the story is moving into high gear; Third’s gradually showing his hand as both a callous manipulator and devious liar while Thor’s quest for his return home has only worsened after discovering that his space-dwelling life is limited to but a mere 8 or 9 more years; a side-effect of having been brought up in a space colony and then suddenly dumped on a foreign planet. Conspiracies and back stabbings are all being promised, and don’t be surprised if it turns out that Third’s behind it all.

Animation-wise Jyu-Oh-Sei rivals Black Lagoon for some of the most electrifying action scenes of the spring season. Watching Thor take down an ugly insect-like carnivorous plant was a particularly exciting moment; this was a scene full of kinetic motion, painful collision and gravity-defying ass-whoopery of the highest order that was very reminiscent of Miyazaki’s ground-breaking movie Nausicaa and The Valley of Wind.

Naruto – 184 – Ad nauseam

The filler wasn’t supposed to go on for this long. A black hole of 48 straight episodes, 18 hours of pure nothingness; it would be funny if I didn’t love Naruto as much as I do, but as it stands this is a damn travesty. And the frightening thing is, an end to this utter farce is still no where in sight.

So this is basically how every filler arc has gone so far; Tsunade hands Naruto a stupid task under the premise that it’s actually a really important mission, Naruto complains but does it anyway; meets up with random Konoha genin- this time, it just so happens to be Kiba. Two or three Kage Bunshin no Jutsu’s later and mission complete. Throw in some completely redundant character development for Kiba and his pet hound Akamaru along the way and repeat the formula ad nauseam, but next time with Rock Lee, or Hinta, or Neji.

The sad thing is that a lot of what makes Naruto so much fun is still present here. The art direction (no matter how blatant the limitations on animation are right now) is as electric, colourful and bouncy as it always was and Toshio Masuda’s soundtrack never falls to enthral, compel and excite me. I still love seeing the characters pull off their unique ninjitsu moves and kick ass- but honestly, I’m in dire need of a story now, a real story, where when characters get hurt, they stay hurt. A story where Naruto (the character) isn’t such a third wheel- it’s hard to imagine that just one year ago, we were amidst Sasuke’s defection to the dark side.

Ahh well, at least I got to see the slick ANBU elites in this episode, even if they were reduced to abducting a (nin-)dog. How the great have fallen, eh?

Greetings and Salutations

As is the proper tradition for us newbs, here is my belated introduction to the hectic world of blogsuki.

If this is the first time you have come across BATESZI; HI! I hope you stick around! Of course, that’s entirely down to your (and indeed, my) tastes in anime- I’ll give you fair warning though and say I won’t be reviewing Haruhi, Fate/Stay Night or whatever other “cute” series are popular right now. Sorry- we’re all about the mucky gems here at BATESZI, so prepare to gasp at the dramatic highs and gut-wrenching lows of Kiba, fall in the love with the beauty of TOKKO and drown in the deep, dark depths of Black Lagoon. I’m starting to worry I have bad taste in anime, but stick with me anyway.. could be worth a laugh?!

If you gloss over the hypocrisy of actively blogging the semi-popular Ergo Proxy, my main goal for BATESZI is cover the more overlooked and undervalued anime out there, as well as chipping in with the occasional article (read: rant) every now and then too. A long and winding road lies ahead. Thanks for reading and come back, please.

Kiba – 6 – The price of freedom

It’s easy to take kids anime for granted, but compared with Western cartoons aimed at the same young viewers, the difference in conviction and themes is exceptional. Through out episode 6 of Kiba, several (old and young) characters die. It’s not gory, but the intent to kill is clear from the outset. There are no last minute resets, no brave super heroes to save the day; that’s not to say there aren’t characters with good intentions, but (as this episode suggests) sometimes good doesn’t always win out.

Frankly, I was really impressed with this episode. As cliche as Kiba has been up until now, I never expected to see the characters battle like they did here. It was shocking to see Noa envelope an entire town in flames, shocking to see old buddies like Kis and Gale impale each other with their swords.

Episode 7 promises a return to the dumb-luck of Zed and his boring face off with Dumas, but taken as their own separate story, both episode 5 and 6 represent an emotional and unpredictable high point for this series, where the ideology of short sighted adults collides with the untainted vision of youth. I’m in no doubt now that Noa will eventually turn bad and come to battle Zed, but with this kind of compelling back story, who could blame him for giving up on society?

Ergo Proxy – 8 – Larger than life

I read a few weeks ago that somewhere along the line, Ergo Proxy gets a bit like X-Men; mutants against mutants and all that. I guess episode 8 is where it started.

This episode was just weird. The people Vincent meets, the way the monstrous finale plays out- it was just utterly inexplicable in places. What immediately struck me was how much it was like watching a full episode set in the post-apocalyptic hell of The Terminator. Cyborgs roaming the barren land, people dying all around you, skies dark and depressing, and everyone having long lost hope.

It was the most action packed Ergo Proxy has been for while, though any true excitement was offset by my utter bemusement at what was happening, combined with a darkly shrowed presentation; it’s hard to make out what is going on when all you can gather is odd flashes of light and the muffled cries of dying soldiers.

I’m looking at this like the beginning of the second arc of Ergo Proxy. Very head-scratching and frustratingly mysterious, it ends with a larger than life battle between Proxy and an unknown ‘mutant’ adversary. Visually this was a fine episode, though ultimately my enjoyment was tempered by the sheer random style of it all.

Black Lagoon – 1 through 3 – Adrenaline Rush

It took me a few weeks to catch onto Black Lagoon, but now I’m fully convinced of its (loud) qualities. I had avoided it up until this weekend because the reviews I’d read gave the impression that it was another typical girls with guns anime. I was wrong and it’s much more than that. I’m sorry for doubting you, Madhouse.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though- Black Lagoon is a purely action driven series, but (like Gungrave) rather than simply wallowing in style, the story sprinkles enough compelling character development to really capture the moment. The star of the show is Levi- an absolutely badass mercenary capable of killing her enemies by the dozen. So far, she has shown very little in the way of emotion- preferring instead to swear, get drunk and basically kill anything that moves. Her foil (and opposite lead) is Rock- a Japanese “salaryman” whisked away from the boring world of corporate business. He’s still searching for meaning in his life and opts to become a sailor of the Black Lagoon rather than go back to his boring old life of monotony. Rock is living the epitome of every salaryman’s dream.

The rest of the Lagoon crew are just as likable- particularly captain Dutch, who defines macho cool in very 1980s Schwarzenegger way.

It’s notable just how immoral the story has been up until now. Given this is about modern day ‘pirates’, the action is not so much as case as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, rather how much Dutch and crew will be paid – there is no respect for human life. The characters are criminals, but remain sympathetic because of their honourable warrior-code and a strong sense of comradery and friendship.

The animation is very physical and kinetic; when combat kicks off, there is a real bite to every bullet, every punch and every torpedo. It’s consistently exciting because the presentation maintains a palpable sense of danger where anything and everything is a possible weapon.

My long winded countdown of the top 8 spring anime

It’s been a while since I’ve watched so much anime. This spring season is quite remarkable in that not only is there an unprecedented number of new series, but also because a lot of them are actually quite good. And I’m not a fan of harem, loli or whatever other genre is “hip” right now.

My top 8 spring anime

8. Tokko

Undeniably this is a terrible series. Why I’m watching it, let alone blogging it is a mystery fit for Columbo. So yeah, big guns, big monsters, big breasts and dismembered corpses. That’s Tokko; it’s so damn badly animated too. I guess those are the reasons why I’m watching it. Approach with caution!

7. Kiba

Utterly fan pandering shounen adventure escapades, yet I’m bitterly enjoying it because despite the lead character Zed being the worst “hero” ever- the rest of the cast and the generally bright, expansive setting envelope me in a finely built universe, ripe for escapism. Given the sheer number of good shows airing this season, I’m not sure how long I’ll stick with Kiba but the fact I’m still around by episode 5 suggests there must be something I like enough to keep watching.

6. Good Witch of the West

Yet more frilly medieval melodrama featuring only pretty characters with mad hair styles; the Good Witch of the West has an interesting fantastical take on the days when teaching and explaining science was banned, but I’m not a fan of the way every character is so damn cute and as soft as a pillow. Certainly, the fairy tale premise suggests potential, though I may wait for a few more weeks and watch this in batches.

5. Witchblade

The first GONZO series since Basilisk that isn’t utterly mediocre tripe, Witchblade; starring an impossibly large cheated female avenger akin to Devilman\lady is a surprisingly heart-rending tale of a woman fighting (with strange supernatural powers) to be reunited with her lost daughter. The action and animation have so far been disappointly below average, but the story retains some strength thanks to a mysterious plot and the fractured relationship between mother and child.


By rights NANA should be higher on this list but I can’t hide the fact that the characters simply don’t interest me enough. Being as it is a series by and for young ladies, it’s not terribly surprising I’m not totally into it. That said, the particularly slender and stylish character designs are wonderful and the drama is very well… dramatic; lots of passionate kisses, tearful eyes and sad goodbyes.

3. Utawarerumono

So like everyone already knows, Utawarerumono (worst series title ever) is based on a porn game, but rather than having tons of fan-service (so far, there has been none, thank god), the story seems to be heavily spiritual and environmentalist- a Studio Ghibli style rural fantasy in which violent forest spirits and other mysterious apparitions exist.

2. Jyu-Oh-Sei

The fantasy and action in Jyu-Oh-Sei is deep enough to suggest an interesting story is on it’s way, though the strong homoerotic undertones are slightly detracting from what I hoped would be a completely dead pan science fiction show.

1. Black Lagoon

I watched the first episode today and I feel ashamed to have ignored Black Lagoon for so long. The action is stylish and fluid without falling into boring poses, while the characters themselves are interesting and mysterious enough to forecast some compelling drama ahead. Black Lagoon is vaguely reminiscent of Gungrave in that it stars compelling adult characters capable of pulling off some cool kick-ass moves. Very impressed.

Stuck in backlog hell

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

The most hyped series since Mai-Otome, I plan on watching Haruhi sooner or later. I admit the extremely loud fan-base has put me off it for now and at the best of times I try to avoid anime based around Japanese school girls. Until the unabated praise slows itself down, I’ll be content to ignore Haruhi.


Apparently Higurashi is disturbing horror, but again, it looks so typically cute and “otaku” that I’m having trouble motivating myself to sit down and watch the damn thing. I had the same problem with Jigoku Shoujo; for so called horror, Enma Ai looked like such a calculated pin-up for fan culture that I eventually just lost interest.