Tag Archives: TV

1973: Muses

The world and their dog are talking about E3 at the moment, because everyone needs to livetweet the things that everyone else is watching. So rather than add to the noise, I’m going to talk about something completely unrelated to E3 or even video games: Love Live!

I’ve mentioned Love Live! a few times recently, I know, but the more I watch it the more I adore it. I’m coming up on the end of the second and final season now, and I’ve been very surprised how genuinely emotional it’s been: the premise (“cute girls get together and form an idol group to save their school”) is pure fluff, of course, but the amount of heart and soul with which the whole experience is infused with is simply magical.

The first season of Love Live! drew a little criticism from fans for taking quite so long to “get going”, as it were; it’s about nine episodes before the entire cast is together, and the season is only 13 episodes long, which doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for the main thrust of the story: Honoka’s (and, later, the rest of the group’s) dream to perform at the Love Live school idol festival in front of an army of adoring fans.

I could initially see where these complaints were coming from, but now I’m coming up on the end of the second season, I completely understand why they spent so long over introducing the characters and exposition in the first season: it’s so that when the main drama of the latter part of the second season comes along — the impending graduation of three of the characters, and the question of what happens to their group once they’ve gone — it’s all the more effective because you have a deep understanding of these characters and their affection for one another by this point. Love Live! is an immensely popular anime for fans to “ship” favourite couplings in, but it’s abundantly clear throughout that the affection — and, possibly, romance — between pairings like Nico x Maki, Rin x Hanayo and Eli x Nozomi was entirely intentional on the part of the writers, and the audience feels like they’re a part of this intimacy that the group of nine share with one another.

It tugs at the heartstrings, for sure, and I’m not ashamed to say that a couple of the most recent episodes I’ve watched may have drawn a tear or two. I will also be very disappointed if the final episodes aren’t total tearjerkers.

What’s interesting, though, is that Love Live! doesn’t elicit this kind of emotion in the same way as notorious “crying anime” such as AnoHana and Clannad: there’s no tragedy, there’s no real adversity besides the girls having to overcome various challenges on their quest for idolhood, there’s no death, pain or suffering. There’s just a wonderfully heartwarming sense of love and affection infusing the whole show, and the prospect of that ending is emotional — not because it’s sad (though it is that, too, to a certain degree), but because it’s a delight to have been able to ride along with these girls as they forged the sort of friendships that last for life.

I’m really intrigued to see how the series ends — and what the recently released movie has to offer if I’m able to track down a means of watching it. Suffice to say, then, that I am very much a Love Live! convert.

Oh, and if you were wondering, my provisional “best girl” ranking — provisional because the season’s not over yet, and there’s scope for things to change, I’m sure! — is as follows: Maki > Eli > Nozomi > Kotori > Umi > Honoka > Nico > Hanayo > Rin, with the proviso that I don’t actively dislike any of them; Rin is simply my least favourite, nya. (Although bonus points to her for the “nya”-ing, a trait that always makes me go a bit weak at the knees.)

1969: μ’s Music Start

I’ve been continuing to watch Love Live! and it’s become something of a favourite, particularly now I’m in to the second season which, for my money, is considerably stronger than its entertaining but rather slow-paced debut.

A while back I wrote about how the show is unabashedly nice about everything, and keeps a positive spirit pretty much all of the time without resorting to overblown, melodramatic conflict between characters. The second season has definitely had more in the way of conflict and drama, but it’s been kept sensible and believable for the most part, and primarily used as an opportunity to develop the characters and their relationships with one another further.

One thing that is particularly charming about the show is how it subtly splits the main cast of nine down into smaller subgroups and pairings. We see the development of these individual small groups and couples as well as the group as a whole, and it’s rather touching to see — particularly as in many cases, things aren’t made particularly explicit, but it’s extremely obvious to see, for example, the genuine affection that Maki and Nico have for one another.

It’s funny, too. This scene was a particular standout moment for me:

And there’s plenty of other great moments. I particularly like how the characters all have a few surprising elements to go alongside the trope their “facade” appears to be based around. Nico, for example, acts like a cheerful and energetic young girl when she’s on stage and performing, but becomes one hell of a tsundere when she’s in private. Nozomi, meanwhile, initially appears to be softly-spoken and refined, but occasionally reveals some surprisingly lecherous tendencies towards her bandmates.

Umi’s a particular highlight for me. Initially positioned as the conventional “class representative” type — long dark hair, stern expression, takes everything much too seriously — she occasionally reveals that she has a fun side underneath her mature exterior, which she primarily maintains in order to keep the rather childish and impetuous Honoka in check. Umi has some wonderfully deadpan lines, and despite the “class rep” type of character usually being fairly expressionless (or limited to one emotion — usually anger and frustration at everyone else’s incompetence), Umi is actually one of the more expressive characters in the show; her calm and refined demeanour for the majority of the time makes it all the more impactful when she does genuinely get mad or sad.

In short, then, I can well and truly understand why this show is so beloved by its fans, even as it’s surrounded by hundreds of other shows that may seem conceptually, thematically or aesthetically similar. Love Live! stands above your average slice-of-life with its loveable characters, catchy songs and sense that it’s a show with some genuine heart and soul behind it.

I’m looking forward to watching the rest, and will be intrigued to check out the movie when it eventually arrives.

1962: Great Title Sequences (From My Living Memory)

Re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine recently has made me more conscious of something that had been on my mind for a while: the fact that TV doesn’t really seem to do lengthy credits sequences any more.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as in the case of Star Trek you’re sitting there for a good few minutes watching swirly space and Patrick Stewart as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard and Avery Brooks as Commander Sisko (still in season one at the moment) and, consequently, without a credits sequence the show itself has a few more minutes to play with. But does that few minutes really make a difference? Perhaps when the show is a short 20-minute affair, but when it’s 45 minutes or more there’s a strong argument for saying the writers should maybe look at where a few bits can be snipped.

But anyway. Whether or not credits sequences are a good thing isn’t really what I want to talk about today, since that would be a short discussion — yes, they are — but what I did want to talk about is the ones that have stuck in my head over the years. A good credits sequence is strongly iconic and does a good job of summing up what the show’s all about — either literally, by introducing characters, or sometimes in a more abstract sense by using representative imagery.

These are in no particular order. Given how I’m attempting to call them up from my living memory, they’ll probably in roughly chronological order, but I am making no promises. I’m simply going to provide them for your delectation, with a few words about why I like them, why they’re important to me or why I simply find them memorable.

Henry’s Cat

I hadn’t thought about Henry’s Cat for the longest time, but a brief Twitter discussion with the fine Mr Alex Connolly the other day reminded me of both its existence and its terrible but strongly iconic credits sequence.

I honestly don’t remember much about Henry’s Cat beyond the title sequence and the little bit of an episode I watched out of curiosity on YouTube the other day. But I do suspect it’s rather a product of its time, and not the sort of thing that kids are watching on TV these days.

Count Duckula

Whoever uploaded this gets bonus points for including the “Thames” logo at the beginning. Ahem. Anyway. Count Duckula was brilliant. And I’ve watched a few episodes recently and it’s still genuinely quite amusing thanks to some wonderful voice work and characterisation… not to mention its baffling premise of a vegetarian vampire duck voiced by David Jason.

Unlike Henry’s Cat, the Count Duckula theme and intro has stuck with me all these years. However, I did not know until two minutes ago when I looked at Wikipedia (to make sure it really was David Jason who voiced Duckula) that Count Duckula was actually a Danger Mouse spinoff series. TIL, and all that.

Star Trek: The Next Generation

You can’t really get more iconic that Star Trek when it comes to title sequences, and there’s really not much more that needs to be said about The Next Generation — aside, perhaps, from the fact that when you look at it, it’s actually rather basic. Once the credits themselves start rolling, it’s little more than text and the Enterprise occasionally hurling itself at the screen.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

I didn’t like Deep Space Nine all that much when I was younger; its relatively “static” nature of being set on a space station rather than on an exploratory starship made it feel a bit more “boring” to the young me. Revisiting it recently has made me realise (or remember?) that it’s actually really rather good — and certainly a lot more consistent than The Next Generation was in its early seasons.

I like the theme very much. It’s one of those pieces of music that just sounds satisfying. What I did find interesting, though, was when they changed it very subtly starting in the fourth season:

It becomes faster, I think it’s in a different key, the orchestration is different and the accompaniment is less “bare”. It accurately reflects the show’s noticeable change in direction from the fourth season onwards, not to mention the changes in the cast: Commander Sisko becomes Captain Sisko, The Next Generation’s Worf joins the crew and Shit officially Starts Getting Real with regard to interstellar conflicts.

Friends

Friends was everywhere when I was a teenager, and I didn’t mind because I enjoyed it a whole lot. The credits sequence was simple and straightforward, accurately summing up each character with a selection of season-unique snippets of their most iconic moments. It was fun to try and identify which episode each of the snippets had come from… you know, if there wasn’t anything better to do.

Angel

Ah, Angel. Probably one of my favourite TV shows of all time, next to its companion piece Buffy the Vampire Slayer (which is also one of my favourite TV shows of all time, but whose credits sequence I never really rated all that much). Angel’s intro was great in that it reflected the dark, brooding nature of its title character, but it also allowed the show to pull off one of its best features: the unexpected and surprising fact that while it wasn’t afraid to deal with some seriously dark themes, it was very happy to poke fun at itself and show the silly side of the supernatural as well as the scary. The intro helped with this in that it set the expectation for a very “serious” and dark story, then in true Whedon fashion, it often subverted these expectations with the actual content of the episode.

Yuru Yuri

(This was the best video of the intro I could find that hadn’t been snagged by YouTube’s copyright laws. You’ll just have to deal with the Spanish subtitles.)

I love Yuru Yuri. It’s such a delightfully mundane and silly anime; very little actually happens in it, but by the end you have such a wonderful understanding of these loveable characters that it doesn’t matter that they haven’t done anything of note. The opening titles complement it perfectly, introducing the characters visually and setting the energetic, joyful tone for the rest of the show.

Love Live!

You’d hope a show about music would have a catchy theme tune, and Love Live! doesn’t disappoint. This video (which repeats several times; you’re not going mad) is from the first season and, like any good opening sequence, neatly summarises the show and its characters without them actually “saying” anything (although one could argue the lyrics of the song have a certain degree of meaning). Also it’s just plain catchy.

Akiba’s Trip

One thing I really like about Japanese games is that they treat them the same as anime — and that means that a big deal is made out of the opening credits, with music that is often released as a single in its own right. Akiba’s Trip had a particularly strong opening with a catchy theme song, a good introduction of all the characters and, again, a summary of what to expect from the next few hours of your life.

Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory

The Neptunia series has some excellent songs throughout, but the opening theme for third game Victory is one of the stronger ones. It does a great job of capturing the games’ energetic, joyful spirit and acknowledges their origins as a parody of the video games industry at large through heavy use of electronic effects and synthesised sounds. It also makes a point of demonstrating the extremely strong friendship between the core cast members — they may not see eye-to-eye about everything (or anything) but they stick together and help one another out.

Omega Quintet

Last one for now, otherwise I’ll be here all night and I quite want to go to bed. I wrote a few days ago about how I like the fact Omega Quintet treats its episodic story just like an anime series, complete with opening and ending credits sequences. Here’s the opening sequence, which you see not just at the beginning of the game, but at the start of every chapter. It’s as delightful as the game itself.

1959: High School DxD is Exactly What I Want From an Anime

For a while now I’ve been seeing numerous images from the anime High School DxD that were, shall we say, somewhat on the titillating side. I follow a lot of anime and Japanese gaming fans on Twitter; a number of them are fans of this show and rather fond of posting pictures of it. And with good reason: it’s a very “photogenic” show. Particularly if you like pretty ladies.

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Despite the numerous sexy pictures that had been shared, though, one thing was clear: the people who enjoy this show regard it with genuine affection and enthusiasm rather than treating it as the softcore pornography that so many people outside of the various otaku fanbases tend to write Japanese popular media off as. And so I was curious, for several reasons: first of all, who was the intoxicating redhead who seemed to dominate so many of the pictures; and secondly, what exactly was this show all about?

I’d been meaning to check the show out for some time but it’s only in the last couple of days that I’ve finally started investigating it. And, what do you know? Within just three episodes, it’s already abundantly clear to me that this is exactly what I want from an anime — and I already understand why those people who are fans of the show are quite so passionately invested in it.

junhyung-highschool-dxd-koneko-chan-136161

The basic setup runs thus: Issei is a particularly obnoxious horny teenage protagonist who is obsessed with breasts, but, as is usually the case with this sort of character, finds himself unable to convince any self-respecting young ladies to show theirs to him. Everything changes for him when he meets a girl on the way home from school, though; she claims to have been watching him, and desperately wants to be together with him. The two begin dating and all appears to be going well for a while — Issei even manages to rein in his baser urges for long enough to appear almost respectable.

Then the shit well and truly hits the fan for our Issei. After a thoroughly enjoyable date, his new girlfriend kills him by stabbing him through the chest with a spear of light, and leaves him to die in the park. It transpires that she was a fallen angel, and that Issei has a mysterious power within him called “Sacred Gear” that the fallen angels very much wanted to dispose of — and for a moment it looks as if they were successful.

Given that all this happens in the first episode, though, that would make for a very short series, and as such it will probably not surprise you to hear that Issei is rescued from his plight by red-haired beauty Rias Gremory, a young woman held in high esteem by everyone at the school they both attend, and president of the school’s Occult Research Club.

3338059-5929868530-ibuoVThe Occult Research Club is a not-terribly-subtle front for the fact that Rias and the other members are actually devils, and in allowing Issei “rebirth” from his murder they turn him into one, too — specifically, a servant devil of Rias. From there, Issei gets drawn into a situation that is clearly well beyond his understanding — at least in the early stages of the series — as a three-way holy war unfolds between the forces of Heaven, the devils of Hell and the fallen angels attempting to usurp the devils from Hell to claim it as their own.

What’s interesting about High School DxD is that it presents the devils — typically depicted as evil, monstrous creatures prone to the most dreadful acts of depravity in anime — as the most sympathetic, relatable of the characters. Rias and her companions are for the most part very “human” in terms of their attitude towards their situation and towards Issei, with a few exceptions; Issei, for example, is extremely surprised to wake up from his initial ordeal with a naked Rias in his bed next to him, with her seemingly completely unperturbed by the fact that they are both nude. Rias is absolutely in control of herself and clearly takes pride in her appearance — and this sort of overt sexuality is not at all uncommon in numerous mythological depictions of devils. Rias isn’t a succubus or anything — I don’t think, anyway; I may stand corrected after a few more episodes! — but it’s clear that, for her, she has transcended such petty human concerns as being embarrassed about being in the nude, or being seen by someone with whom she doesn’t have an “intimate” relationship.

By contrast, the fallen angels and the representatives of Heaven have so far been thoroughly horrible pieces of work, with an exorcist priest in the third episode even going so far as to sadistically murder someone who had attempted to make a pact with one of Rias’ household of devils and then threaten to rape his own assistant, herself also a member of the clergy, all because she had met Issei earlier in the episode and believed him to be a “good person” despite being a devil.

Asia_ArgentoThere seems to be a pretty strong anti-religion sentiment underpinning the series — or, to be more specific, an anti-fundamentalist sentiment. The fallen angels and the forces of Heaven — with the exception of Asia, the aforementioned exorcist’s assistant — have so far been pretty much psychopathic in how devoutly they follow the tenets of their faith, while the devils themselves are more philosophical and deliberate in the way they go about handling things.

There’s a strong amount of chess imagery used throughout the series, too, with it being explicitly lampshaded and spelled out for the viewer in the third episode. Rias is the “king” of her little group of devils, and her companions fulfil the roles of the knight, queen and rook. (Even odds that Asia shows up again later to fulfil the “bishop” role.) Issei is dismayed but unsurprised to discover that even with his mysterious Sacred Gear power, he is no more than a lowly pawn who has yet to prove himself — but even with his low status, it’s clear that Rias wants to protect him and help him grow stronger. Whether this is due to her own self-interest — his Sacred Gear would clearly be a potent weapon in the holy war — or whether she actually cares for him remains to be seen, but it’s certainly an interesting setup.

Rias_Gremory_7

And my God — no pun intended — is it ever a beautiful-looking anime. Gorgeous women doing sexy things aside — and there’s plenty of that — the animation and design is spectacular, with some gobsmacking battle scenes in just the first few episodes. The more monstrous foes Rias and the gang face are truly hideous to behold, but even in its more mundane moments the show simply oozes style.

Wonderful use of colour helps give cues to the viewer as to what is going on, with each of the main factions involved in the holy war seemingly having their own colours associated with them. Most things the devils get up to seem to be bathed in red light, for example, while the fallen angels tend to bring an ominous, sinister, high-contrast purple light with deep shadows in their wake.

This beautiful visual design is perfectly complemented by a Gothic-cum-rock soundtrack — it may be a cliche by now for this sort of “good versus evil” affair (particularly if you’re a Castlevania fan) but it really works wonderfully, giving the show a fantastic sense of energy and a feeling that it’s had some real love, care and attention poured into it.

Yes, it’s dripping in fanservice and I’m disappointed to admit that I know all too many people out there who will write this show off purely on these grounds regardless of whether or not it’s actually any good. But there’s a strong argument for the heavily overt sexuality of the show to very much be part of its overall aesthetic, with it being used both to reflect Issei’s forever sexually frustrated teenage desires — which are still very much intact even after becoming a devil — and the common depiction of devils as something erotic, exciting, tantalising and well and truly off-limits to the “normal” people.

_  ,_Himejima_Akeno

So why do I say it’s exactly what I want from an anime? Well, it has all the things I enjoy: light-hearted slice-of-life character interactions (yes, there’s time for that between all the Good Versus Evil Versus A Bit of Both shenanigans), thrilling action sequences with kick-ass soundtracks, memorable characters and a whole lot of sexiness. My dream anime, in other words.

I’m really intrigued to see where the show goes from here. After just three episodes, it’s already a favourite, and I’m absolutely in it for the long run.

Rias is love, as they say.

1934: Across the Universe

I’ve been rewatching Star Trek recently and simultaneously introducing Andie to it. At the time of writing, we’re coming up on the end of season six of The Next Generation and a few episodes deep in Deep Space Nine, because yes, I’m one of those people who likes to watch overlapping shows chronologically so the few-and-far-between crossover episodes happen at the “right” time.

I’ve been really enjoying them. I reached something of a saturation point with Star Trek in my late teens and early twenties as it was on TV an awful lot and it was one of those shows I liked to record every episode of on video. I started collecting the official videos at one point and even had some of the more ostentatious box sets — such as the awesome Data one which had a metallic mould of Brent Spiner’s face — but eventually reached a point where I simply parted ways with it, not because I was no longer enjoying it or had seen it all — to date, there’s a significant chunk of Deep Space Nine I’ve never seen, I’ve not seen beyond the first season of Voyager and I’ve been surprised how little I remember of The Next Generation — but simply because there were lots of other things vying for my attention.

With the modern age of video on demand, though, you can watch a show like Star Trek at your own pace when it’s convenient to you, and with no fear of missing episodes because you’re out on Wednesday nights at 6pm or whatever. This gives the shows a much greater feeling of coherence than if you’re watching disjointed — and sometimes out-of-sequence — episodes once a week on the television, and makes it into a much more enjoyable experience as a result.

Although I’m enjoying revisiting The Next Generation — and, as noted above, have actually forgotten a significant amount of it, so rewatching these episodes feels quite “fresh” — the main thing I’m looking forward to is the completely new episodes of Deep Space Nine. For some reason, when I was younger, I and my family regarded Deep Space Nine as “the boring one” in the Star Trek pantheon, with it not getting truly interesting until the fourth season, when they sped up the theme tune a bit, gave Sisko a badass starship to fly around with and decided it was high time the Klingons started being villains again. Watching it with more mature eyes and — I like to think, anyway — refined tastes, I’m liking it a lot more than I used to for its emphasis on characterisation and relationships over tales of derring-do in space. It’s a good complement to The Next Generation, and watching them in parallel as we have been really highlights this.

Also Odo is a work of genius, combining witty writing with some wonderfully deadpan delivery by Rene Auberjonois. I’m especially interested to find out more about his particular story arc, as that’s something I’ve only seen dribs and drabs of here and there; I stopped collecting the videos and watching the show just as the Dominion storyline was getting underway.

There’s still a long way to go before we’ve watched all of them, but I’m not complaining; the shows — with the possible exception of the first couple of seasons of The Next Generation — very much stand up to the test of time and, while occasionally cheesy (rocking camera shots while people throw themselves around the set ahoy!) remain some of the most interesting, enjoyable, dramatic, emotional and thought-provoking television there has ever been.

Here’s to the final frontier.

1925: Tiger and Dragon

I finished watching Toradora! last night — I also forgot the time we normally raid in Final Fantasy XIV on Monday nights, so I had to split the last episode in half — and I have to say, I’m very much a fan.

I knew nothing at all about the show going into it, aside from what a few of the characters looked like and that it was by the same person who did Golden Time, which those of you who have been reading for a while will recall was the last show I watched all the way through. I enjoy jumping into things like this, whether they’re books, movies, TV shows, anime or games. It means that you can start watching/playing/reading/whatever with no preconceptions, and it also means you have that genuinely pleasurable sensation of not knowing what is going to happen next — and the equally fun ability to play “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”

Toradora!, as it turns out, ended up pretty much where I expected it to end up, albeit with a bit of a twist in the latter half of the last episode. It was an enjoyably unpredictable ride along the way, however, featuring some extremely complicated interpersonal relationships between the main cast members — who were, in turn, complicated individuals in their own right.

Ryuji was a good protagonist. Eschewing the frequently-seen blank-slate or self-insert protagonist found in a lot of anime — particularly slice of life, romance or harem anime — he was an interesting character whom we gradually came to understand fully over the course of the whole show. The show sensibly didn’t batter us over the head with his personality traits or angst; a lot of his characterisation was quite subtle, with the things he didn’t say often being as important as the things he did say.

Taiga, meanwhile, was an exciting leading lady. Brash, unpredictable and quick to anger without relying completely on the tsundere trope, much of the show’s “point” — if indeed it had one — concerned the audience and Ryuji alike coming to understand exactly why she seemed so angry at the world. Again, though, the show didn’t fall into the trap of having her make overly melodramatic gestures of angst throughout; the things that caused her pain were real and relatable, and her relationship with Ryuji was believable and heartwarming to watch grow.

The other cast members all had their interesting elements, too. Minori, for example, lets her genki girl attitude slip more and more as the show progresses and reveals that her feelings for both Taiga and Ryuji are complex, conflicting and difficult to know what to do with. Ami, meanwhile, underwent some interesting development from being a simple two-faced bitch to someone with depth and not always entirely clear motivations. I did find Ami’s falling in love with Ryuji to be a little hard to swallow — it felt a little like drama for the sake of drama — but it added an interesting twist on proceedings.

I was surprised that the show had two surprisingly brutal fight scenes, too; these weren’t sexualised catfights that were intended to be arousing rather than shocking, as sometimes seen in more fanservicey anime, and nor were they overdramatic, exaggerated conflicts that, while stylish, were out of place with the rest of the setting and characters. They were gritty, believable, brutal and genuinely quite upsetting outbursts of anger from people who had been bottling things up for way too long. (As a fellow “bottler”, I could relate very much to the feelings in these scenes, although I have thankfully never come to blows with anyone over this sort of thing.)

Ultimately, everything wrapped up fairly neatly, but there was a pleasing tang of bittersweetness to the ending; the understanding that, despite your best intentions and grand plans, things don’t always go exactly as you expect them to — and that in a complicated situation of personal relationships, you need to know when to let go, otherwise somebody is going to get hurt.

I very much enjoyed the show as a whole, and understand now why it’s such a well-regarded anime. I think some lighter fare is on the table for my next show to watch, however; after an hour or so of several people I follow on Twitter exchanging a series of rather racy pics earlier, I’m strongly considering checking out High School DxD, because who doesn’t love a bit of fanservicey nonsense? Boring people, that’s who.

1904: 21st Century TV

The Internet has brought with it many things both good and bad, but by far my favourite thing about it is to do with video.

No, I’m not talking about YouTube generally — the whole “anyone with a webcam can make videos!” culture it promotes feeds into modern youth’s unhealthy obsession with “being famous” — but rather the fact that, between the various streaming services out there, both legitimate and… less legitimate, there is probably some way of watching all those programmes/adverts/movies you wish you still had 1) the VHS tapes for and 2) something to play them with.

This last week, for example, Andie and I have watched Police Squad!, the TV-based precursor to the Naked Gun movies. Only six episodes were made, and back at university, when I “discovered” the show for the first time, I had a VHS cassette with two of them on it, so I had only ever seen those two episodes. Now, however, some helpful Polish person has kindly uploaded the whole lot onto YouTube for anyone to enjoy at their leisure. No waiting for TV networks to license them and show them again. No tracking down video tapes and VCRs. Just click and go.

The ability to rediscover old favourites is one of the best things about streaming video, then, as my rewatch of Star Trek: The Next Generation for the first time in about ten years will attest. But the fact that streaming services makes new favourites easier than ever to discover, too, is rather wonderful. I doubt I’d have become so interested in anime without my Crunchyroll subscription, for example; prior to widespread streaming video, the only real way to get into anime was to buy VHS tapes or DVDs, and with anime being niche-interest and somewhat “exotic”, particularly when it first hit these shores in the mid-90s, it was a rather expensive hobby. Anime DVDs and Blu-Rays still cost up to twice as much as a regular ol’ Western film even today, making online services like Crunchyroll much better value.

This is the TV of the 21st century, then; it really is the vision of the future we had twenty, thirty years ago: decide what you want to watch, then just watch it. In most cases, that’s possible to do, even if you have strange, bizarre and peculiar tastes. And even if you’re more fucked up than most, I can almost guarantee that there’s some dark corner of the Internet out there somewhere more than willing to cater to your particular interests, whatever they might be… for better or worse.

In these days of people seemingly constantly yelling at one another on social media and comments sections on large sites being widely (and, sometimes, justifiably) regarded as fetid cesspits, it’s easy to forget the great and wonderful things that the Internet has brought to modern life. I’m a strong believer that its ability to “archive” — for future generations to be able to enjoy movies, TV shows, animations and other videos from years ago — is one of the best things about it. And as technology improves and we find more and more ways to interact with this world-wide network, I hope we never lose sight of these simple pleasures that it’s allowed us to enjoy like never before.