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Monday, September 1, 2014

Top 5 Opening and Ending Songs of the 2014 Summer Season

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Monday, September 1, 2014

Top 5 Opening Songs:

5. XXX
Artist: XXX
Anime: XXX
Release Date: XXX
I didn't find anything worth placing. Everything else just didn't interest much at all.

4. Grilletto
Artist: GRANiDELiA
Anime: Irregular at Magic High School
Release Date: July 30, 2014
The techno combined with GRANiDELiA works well together. "Grilletto" reminds me of GRANiDELiA's piece for KLK's opening; action packed visuals that are complemented by battle focused song.

3. Heavenly Blue
Artist: Kalafina
Anime: Aldnoah.Zero
Release Date: August 6, 2014
I didn't enjoy this at first but after the third episode it really grew on me. "Heavenly Blue" has an angelic feel to it, especially with the first few seconds and choir in the background. 

2. Sekai wa Koi ni Ochiteiru
Artist: CHOO with Honey Works
Anime: Ao Haru Ride
Release Date: August 6, 2014
Your typical feel good romantic opening song but none the less I love it. "Sekai wa Koi ni Ochiteiru" is beautiful, upbeat, catchy and just plain lovely to listen to.

1. Unravel
Artist: TK from Ling Tosite Sigure
Anime: Tokyo Ghoul
Release Date: July 23, 2014
Are you surprised? Probably not. Unravel by TK is by far the best opening this season and for good reason. The opening visuals give away very little but the lyrics explain the entire theme of the series; Kaneki's struggle with attempting to live as both human and ghoul while attempting to stay alive. TK's voice is pretty high pitch but it works. Unravel is just of those opening songs that gets the blood rushing. 

Top 5 Ending Songs:

5. Kyuusei Argyros
Artist: Yousei Tukoku
Anime: Tokyo ESP
Release Date: August 6, 2014
A hardcore metal song that reminds a lot of Mirai Nikki's second theme. A high energy song that sounds like something serious is about go down are those types of theme songs I love.

4. Seijatachi
Artist: People in the Box
Anime: Tokyo Ghoul
Release Date: August 6, 2014
For such a blood thirsty show like Tokyo Ghoul, this song is incredibly chill. The laid back, perfect day feeling song is just something I couldn't get out of head while getting up in the morning and biking my way to work in near perfect weather.

3. Dare ka, Umi wo
Artist: Aimer
Anime: Zankyou no Terror
Release Date: September 4, 2014
Hauntingly beautiful. "Dare ka, Umi wo" performed by the wonderful Aimer and written by the great Yaoko Kanno. I love music like this and like most of the soundtrack, "Dare ka, Umi wo" plays to the dark undertones of the series.

2. Sable
Artist: Nano
Anime: M3 Sono Kuroki Hagane
Release Date: July 23, 2014
I fell back on my episodic blogging of M3 SonoKuro but I plan to write a full review soon. Anyway, The second ending song comes from the amazing Nano and like the rest of her songs used for anime theme songs, "Sable" is one of her best. An entirely English song which was unexpected touched my heart with it's "let me decide my own fate" theme.

1. aLIEz
Artist: Hiroyuki Swano ft Mizuki
Anime: Aldnoah.Zero
Release Date: September 10, 2014
One of the best ending theme songs I've ever heard. "aLIEz" is one of those tracks that defines a cliff hanger. I'm always looking forward to hearing this track which doesn't happen often with me. "aLIEz" is the "Don't Lose Your Way" of this season for me.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Top 10 Most Hated Anime Characters as Chosen by the A-P Community

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Monday, August 25, 2014

Anime Planet, one of the largest anime recommendation sites on the web comes jam packed with a number of features and list giving one a sense of the overall community. For this post I will run down the top 10 most hated characters of all time as chosen by the users of Anime Planet. Of course with the addition of newer anime titles and a growing number of users, this list is subject to change with time but for now, here's the list:

#10: Kabuto Yakushi

Despite his drive to become the next Orochimaru, I honest can't hate Kabuto after hearing his back story. It's just too messed up. Even though he helped create an army of the undead to help Madara in his goal for world conquest, I can't help but feel he would have grown up to become a good guy if he wasn't manipulated by Danzo and then by Orochimaru. Kabuto's existence seems kind of like a child soldier. Yeah they probably killed a ton of innocent people but where they are now in life isn't really their fault.

#9: Orochimaru

Truthfully, Orochimaru is a great villain like Aizen is in Bleach. He's manipulative, merciless, hell bent on obtaining more and more power and no matter what ever seems to happen, this guy never dies. He's a great villain and like any great villain, he manages to get the viewers to hate him the same way the protagonist does. Orochimaru is the cool type of evil character but none the less, his complete disregard for human life, blatant experimenting on people and his near enjoyment of tossing his subordinates and test subjects aside like trash certainly gives a clear list of reasons as to why he's so hated.

#8: Koichi Shido

AP describes him as a sadistic, manipulative and cold-hearted to the extreme, believing that only the strongest will survive in these dark times. Even with a disturbing perversion for young women and questionable motives, he is looked up to as a leader of many who survived the zombie attacks. A character from High School of the Dead who practically becomes a cult leader after the zombie apocalypse and he is also a pedo. This guy is your standard power tripping psycho sexual deviant nutcase but he's also a complete loser when put into a dangerous situation.

#7: Danzo Shimura

Danzo Shimura, a power hungry man who threatened to send the entire village of Konoha into a downward spiral with his war-hawk like rhetoric and authoritarian views. Danzo was responsible for one of the Naruto series most screwed up events; the massacre of the Uchiha clan. Of course that event ended up being the trigger for a heap of other problems including Sasuke's hatred toward Itachi which led to his death. On top of that he even implanted ten Sharigans into his arm that were taken from the corpses of those killed by Itachi and even attempted to have the third Hokage assassinated.

#6: Misa Amane

From the series Death Note, Misa is also an admirer of Kira (Light Yagami) and plays a crucial role in L's death. I'm surprised to see her so high on the hate list but I personally think most of that hate stems from her part in killing L (a well loved character) and her near annoying willingness to be Kira's plaything. Misa serves the dumb blond role perfectly but I'm not seeing a big enough reasoning behind her ranking; especially when compared to other characters like Makoto Itou (#13: School Days) and Nobuyuki Sugou (#17: Sword Art Online).

#5: Near

Near, also from Death Note was the one responsible for bringing down Kira/Light (arguably). Near isn't really a character people hate him for any particular reason but simply despise his existence and view him as unneeded. By that, I mean he is hated for being a replacement to L and as comments on his character profile suggest; having a child like Near become the successor to the almighty L is a slap in the face to fans of L. Near is viewed as a ripoff and did no actual investigating in order to uncover Kira but simply pieced together all of L's research.

#4: Nina Einstein

Ah, Nina Einstein the psycho-lesbian table rapist from Code Geass. This crazy chick was so obsessed with Princess Euphemia that she created a weapon of mass destruction in order to use it to kill Zero/Lelouch. Even though by the end of the series, she returns to her normal shy and quiet self, her actions mid series turned her into one of the most hated characters ever. Raping a table, building a bomb that was used to kill over 35 million people, her insane yandere like love for the princess and not to mention her xenophobia just made her plain unlikable throughout most of the series.

#3: Shou Tucker

The only thing I'm shocked about here is that he's third on this list. If you don't know, Shou Tucker comes from the series Full Metal Alchemist and carries the title of sewing-life alchemist. His talent resides in his ability to sew and reconstruct DNA in order to create chimeras. This guy became one of anime's most hated characters after he not only turned his wife into a chimera but fused his daughter together with the family dog, creating a chimera that lived in pain and agony before being given a mercy killing by Scar. Shou takes the cake for worst parent in anime and is definitely in the running for the worst character in history.

#2: Sakura Haruno

If you've watched anime for quite some time, you have most likely heard someone somewhere speak about how useless Sakura is. In the Shippuden series, she begins to become of more use due to her monster strength and skills as a medic but still she remains one of the most hated characters of all time. I can't really come to a decision on this one because it's really the pre-shippuden Sakura that's receiving all of this hate (that I agree with). Shippuden Sakura is pretty good as a character and a ninja in my opinion tho.

#1: Sasuke Uchiha

The hate for Sasuke has almost always been strong. He is certainly annoying and this is where the hate for him comes from. No one seems to have sympathy for the emo kid. He had his entire village slaughtered and when he finally exacts vengeance for their killer (his older brother), it turns out that his big bro Itachi wasn't really given much of an option. He's left all alone, an enemy of the state and the blood of his only brother is on his hands. It's hard not to see why Sasuke grew up to be such a messed up kid but that doesn't stop people from hating the guy. This number one spot is certainly undeserved but I'll be the first to admit that Sasuke does annoy me as a character from time to time.

Things to be aware of:

  • Near and Nina constantly switch places due to the number of people that hate them being so close in number.
  • Kabuto also tends to switch places with Orihime Inoue (Bleach) for the same reason.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Hellsing Ultimate to Replace Black Lagoon on Toonami

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Saturday, August 23, 2014

So what could replace the insane high octane shelling of Black Lagoon on Toonami? Something even more bloody and more insane, the anime series Helling Ultimate has been chosen to replace Black Lagoon on September 13, 2014; a week after Black Lagoon Second Barrage ends. Technically, Hellsing Ultimate is a 10 episode long OVA series that aired from 2006 to 2012 so it is somewhat strange that Williams Street didn't go for the 2001 full Hellsing series first. There's still the possibility of it airing when the OVA ends tho. Either way, suit up Toonami faithful because if you thought Revi was crazy, you're going to flip when you see Alucard.

11:30 - Attack on Titan
12:00 - Bleach
12:30 - Space Dandy
01:00 - Shippuden
01:30 - One Piece
02:00 - Gurren Lagann
02:30 - Beware the Batman
04:00 - Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood
04:30 - Cowboy Bebop
05:00 - SWCW
05:30 - Samurai Jack

         "Those who dare impersonate the dead are judged to join their ranks."


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Anime to Look Out For This Season (2014 Summer)

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It has come time again for the Anime to Look Out For This Season post and this season but only a hand full made the list. Their are a number of decent series this season but these four really stuck out to me.

Zankyou no Terror

A well directed and beautifully illustrated series that isn't high adrenaline but gets your heart going. Zankyou no Terror is about a pair of "brothers" who are committing terrorist acts for some unknown reason. The story itself isn't too special but the way it's handled and presented makes it a true thriller; sort of like the difference between your mom and a professional chef cooking the same dish. The brothers go by the name Sphinx and each of their riddles is a recurring reference to the Greek tragedy of Odepius handing the viewer a riddle as to how this all might end. If you don't know the story and history of Odepius, that's okay. Detective Shibazaki will fill you in along the way and interesting enough, he does it without ever being boring.

Zankyou no Terror is one of those thriller series that play out like a movie, utilizing camera techniques that one would only see from a live action film. I am still unsure of Lisa's role in everything and at the moment she simply feels like a side character who will become the light at the end of the tunnel for Sphinx or vice versa.

Tokyo Ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul has been kinda rushed but it's still pretty good thus far. A series that forces the MC (Kaneki) to survive as a Ghoul and struggle as a human in a world where the two sides are basically at war. Calling this series an internalized version of Romeo and Juliet seems kind of fitting as Kaneki attempts to live as a Ghoul/Human hybrid but is constantly reminded that the two sides simply cannot coexist. Tokyo Ghoul is indeed a typical shonen series but with horror in a taste of psychological trauma sprinkled on top. These are what make Tokyo Ghoul worth watching.

Kaneki's inner struggle to accept his new Ghoul identity is something that is short lived but his psychological struggles are still ongoing as he attempts to find his place in two very different worlds.

Ao Haru Ride

Ao Haru Ride is kind of like your typical romance series filled with the whole "I love you but I won't say it" kind of theme. Unlike some though, this anime also contains other elements including, loving your former crush all over again and falling in love with the guy your best friend likes while maintaining your friendship. Besides the main romance, the unforbidden and one sided love between Murao and Tanaka Sensei is also an interesting side story.

All in all, Ao Haru Ride is still a pretty direct series when it comes to it's approach to the romance between Kou and Futaba. Anyone who enjoys a good romance should definitely pick up Ao Haru Ride.


Aldnoah.Zero; one of this season's gems brought to us by Gen Urobuchi and the music styling of Hiroyuki Sawano. Aldnoah.Zero is dramatic, entertaining and pretty exciting. The characters are a mixed bag of personalities each with their own goal in mind except for our MC who seems to be a genuine robot. He's not a machine but his personality certainly seems that way. Despite being the main character, Inaho is a character that you will only want to see during mecha fights as his battle strategies seem to be the only plans capable of winning against the Martians.

Slaine makes for a better MC and as of recently he has become a much bigger piece of the plot. A assassination attempt, a conspiracy to unleash war, a god complex and a sense of over whelming oppression with the MC's brilliant strategies as the last sliver of hope are Aldnoah.Zero's main selling points. It has its faults but overall this is an anime that one should definitely look out for this season.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Bad, The Decent and The Great: July 2014 Monthly Roundup

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Bad: Rail Wars
Rail Wars in a nutshell.

Yeah, this is just plain bad. A series about a group of students working as security for a train company. Right off the bat that premise didn't really sound like much but I was hoping  for a surprise. I actually got less then what I expected. The fan-service in this show is just plain cliche and sadly, it can't even convince me to at least watch it for the fan-service since it has nothing else of interest. Panty shots, face to tits, bouncy cleavage, mistakenly grabbing tits, you name it. Action? blah, comedy? bland, drama? what?, music? didn't even notice it, animation? average. There's nothing to take interest in when it comes to Rail Wars and now that I really think about it.....DROPPED!

The Decent: Aldnoah.Zero

Gen Urobuchi + Hiroyuki Swano = this. What is this exactly? A series about humanity divided into two people; the Martians (humans living on Mars) and the Terrans (humans who stayed on Earth). Sort of like the hatred between hardcore Democrats and Republicans, a brutal battle takes place between two people who are virtually the same but despise each other for their difference in political and sometimes religious beliefs. I'm not big on mecha series but anything Hioyuki Swano composes for, I have to take a look at and I'm glad I did with Aldnoah.Zero.

I believe Urobuchi gets a lot more hate than he deserves and this series is one of the reasons why I think so. Aldnoah.Zero is just a brutal anime of pure oppression by a greater and more powerful force. Sawano's music emphasizes each scene perfectly, creating an emotional feel. The only thing I am bummed about when it comes to Aldnoah.Zero is the old theme of kids saving the world in ways the adults could never think of. Somehow a group of teens manage to take down what was once thought immortal whereas an entire battalion of trained military officers couldn't come up with any of the same deductions or battle plans as our stoic MC; Inaho Kaizuka. LOL, no wonder Terrans were getting fucked over by the Martians so badly.

Besides that old theme and the MC without a personality, Aldnoah.Zero is still an emotional and highly dramatic anime that I look forward to every week. Now if only Inaho could grow a personality rather than walk around as a cold and calculating robot, I would give this series a straight 4.5/5.

The Great: Blue Spring Ride

I tend to fancy romance series now and again and this season I have my eyes set on the series; Ao Haru Ride which has certainly lived up to my expectations. I am not familiar with the manga so the anime is my first experience with the series which has a lot of love from my fellow Anime Club members. I can see why. Our MCs, Kou "Tanaka" Mabuchi and Futaba Yoshioka were originally friends in middle school who held mutual romantic feelings for each other. A misunderstanding leaves both unable to confess their feelings which is tough since Kou ends up moving away because of family issues. During their high school years, they meet each other once again but both of them have changed drastically and Futaba attempts to find the old Kou she loved in the new and darker Kou she has reunited with.

Kou's severe personality change has us all questioning what exactly did Kou go through to turn him from the easily embarrassed middle schooler to the blunt and slightly heartless high schooler he is now. Who knows but Futaba's constant searching for the answer and attempts at holding onto the old Kou proves for a touching romantic drama/comedy. It's clear that the new Kou doesn't love Futaba but he still cares for her so the potential for a second budding of love is there.

Besides the main cast, we also have a couple of strong supporting characters ranging from the cute Yuri Makita, to the eccentric and overly friendly Aya Kominato to the quiet and reserved Shuko Murao. Makita serves as a reminder of Futaba's middle school self. Aya has a crush on Shuko who has a one sided romance with a teacher who happens to be Kou's older brother. There's no shortage of content when it comes to romance, comedy and drama with this series and what's better is that it doesn't really look like Ao Haru Ride (Blue Spring Ride) will take the same path as Kimi ni Todoke.

Kimi ni Todoke just seemed to run around in circles with the mutual romance and the side characters were primarily for comedy (minus Kurumi). Ao Haru Ride (for now) seems pretty straight forward and this show is more about rebuilding the old romance that once was.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Are You Willing to Pay a Monthly/Yearly Subscription to Read Manga?

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Thursday, July 31, 2014

So if you haven't heard, the Japanese government is planning to launch attacks on sites that illegally stream manga and anime. The attacks are mainly if not entirely targeting Chinese sites that are estimated to have caused a profit loss of nearly 560 Billion Yen (U.S$ 5.6 Billion Dollars). We don't know when or if these attacks will be aimed at American sites but it pains me to think about my favorite manga sites being shut down. I understand the reasoning though but at the same time, I am also well aware piracy exist for a number of reasons; some due to people being cheapskates but it's mostly due to legal alternatives being few in number or having a limit to their reach and their library. Personally, I like to consider the existence of illegal streaming anime sites as a blessing in disguise but I also can't ignore that yes, the publishers and those who work on anime and manga are indeed losing money.

Anime has had a better time then manga due to the fact that fans don't have to buy individual DVDs just to watch a series but instead can buy a monthly or yearly subscription to sites like FUNimation and Crunchyroll and easily get their fill. If you just want to watch and not own, then it's a great and cheap way to get your fill of anime as the two giants put together tend to capture most if not every anime of the season (after their founding) but still, these two have their limits. Our European brethren are still short on available anime and usually have to resort to using VPNs to get around Crunchyroll's and FUNimation's licensing limitations. Even if you can't pay for it, Crunchyroll and FUNimation still stream anime (with commercials) for free. Another issue is that not every anime in history can be found on legal streaming sites, making pirate sites all the more attractive. Anyway, there are fewer reasons to watch illegal anime streams over legal ones but sadly, manga hasn't been given the same advantage.

For manga, buying volumes individually has become the best legal way of reading manga and those tend to cost anywhere from $4 to $12 per volume (if you can find them) to own which really adds up for a long series like Naruto or Bleach but all of that may be changing with Crunchyroll's recent move. Crunchyroll has begun giving manga the same treatment as anime and now fans can purchase a monthly or yearly subscription and read all of Crunchyroll's acquired titles which are currently few but growing none the less. It's unclear for now if this will prompt other sites like VIZ to change their style of manga publication but we'll certainly find out in the long run. Ever since Fakku's streaming deal with Kitty Media in 2011 and their recent publishing deal with Wanimagazine, I have faith that maybe one of the larger illegal manga sites can someday take the Crunchyroll route in life and become a massive legal site with a monthly or yearly subscription for fans to read their entire library.

I started off watching anime on Toonami and then when I finally got my own PC (seven years ago) the first place I started reading manga was OneManga and anime on Anilinkz. I won't judge pirates especially since I still tend to watch some series on illegal sites if I can't find them on Crunchyroll. I'm still contemplating a subscription to FUNimaion but their Roku and Android apps haven't received the greatest reviews. Even when I warming up to legal anime streaming, I find myself stuck with illegal manga streaming. I'm not the type to own anime and manga, I prefer to watch/read once and be done. The only time I watch an anime a second time is when the dub release comes out or it's rerunning on Toonami and I've never went back to reread a manga a second time. Basically, for someone like me, buying a volume digitally or physically would be a waste of money but I could see myself paying for a yearly subscription to Mangahere or to Crunchyroll when it's library gets bigger.

In the end, my question to you is would you be willing to pay maybe $40 to $60 a year to your favorite manga site if you were given the opportunity.

P.S: here's a thank you to all of the legal paying fans from M.A.G (Manga Anime Guardians)

Monday, July 21, 2014

First Impressions: Glasslip, Ao Haru Ride and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun

Posted by: Arthur Hargrave on Monday, July 21, 2014


Studio: PA Works

Genre(s): Romance, Slice of Life

On the other side of the glass, you can see tomorrow. The daughter of a glass artisan family, Fukami Touko, spends relaxed days at a cafe called Kazemichi at a friend’s house. On the summer vacation of her third year in high school in front of Touko appeared a transfer student boy Okikura Kakeru. He spoke out to her, that he can hear the voices of the future. If someone knew in advance what their future would look like, what would they wish for? While feeling never before felt tremors in herself, Touko realizes that she has started getting a sense in her heart which she can’t leave alone…

Another dramatic (possibly supernatural) love polygon anime brought to us by PA Works. Group of friends spends their days happily together with one sided romance hidden underneath their friendship. A new guy comes in and disrupts their peaceful way of life and his presence ends up bringing out the underlying feelings the group held for one another. Seen it before but I've enjoyed NagiAsu, Ano Natsu de Matteru and Kokoro Connect thoroughly giving each a solid 4/5 so I'm willing to watch this.

This first episode didn't lay out anything for me other than the cast's names and personality. I can already sense where this series was planning to go right off the bat tho. The transfer student Okikura is a really weird guy who at least half of the main group are immediately suspicious of and carries the same exact personality as Tsumugu from NagiAsu. Suggested from his earlier stunt with the chickens, he will turn out into the most hated character in the bunch, become the Touko's love interest which will conflict with Yukinari's feelings for Touko and slowly create a domino effect . My first impressions of Glasslip is that it's pretty bland but will probably end up being pretty great if not decent due to it's immediate similarities with NagiAsu and AnoNatsu.

Ao Haru Ride

Studio: Production I.G

Genre(s): Romance, Drama, Slice of Life, Comedy, School life

Summary: Yoshioka Futaba has a few reasons why she wants to “reset” her image & life as a new high school student. Because she’s cute, she was ostracized by her female friends in junior high, and because of a misunderstanding, she couldn’t get her feeling across to the one boy she has ever liked, Tanaka-kun. Now in high school, she is determined to be as unladylike as possible so that her friends won’t be jealous of her. While living her life this way contentedly, she meets Tanaka-kun again, but he now goes under the name of Mabuchi Kou. He tells her that he felt the same way as she did when they were younger, but now things can never be the same again. Will Futaba be able to continue her love that never even started from three years ago?

Ao Haru Ride seems to have a decent following and I can why. Production I.G decided to flesh out the same art and atmosphere they gave to Kimi ni Todoke on this series as well. The chalky background is just as oddly beautiful in Ao Haru Ride as it was in Kimi ni Todoke. Besides art, the romance here is definitely taking a different route than the usual awkward and "too nervous to say something" theme are not present here. Mabuchi and Futaba have both underdone severe changes since they've last seen each other and the pair that had a secret love one another are no longer present. They both love what the other used to be so this series is more focused on whether or not they can love what they see before them now.

I think I'm actually going to enjoy this romance more so than the awkward cuteness of Sawako and Kazahaya. The renewing of old romance is just one of two themes as loving one's self as they truly are will also be a major theme in this series. The cruel bishounen Mabuchi may revert back to his more feminine ways as the tomboyish Futaba learns to care less about what other people think, drop her fake friends and return to her cutesy moe self. I'm looking forward to all of those changes.

It's kind of weird how he can say that with such a smile.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun

Studio: Dogokabo

Genre(s): Romance Slice of Life, Comedy, School life

Summary: Sakura Chiyo confesses to her crush, Nozaki-kun, but he mistakes her as a fan! Unable to convey her feelings, what happens when he invites her to his house? Find out in this hilarious series!

I wouldn't say that this series is absolutely hilarious but it managed to make me laugh here and there. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun states that it's suppose to be a romantic comedy but really it will most definitely be a completely comedic series with our Chiyo crushing on Nozaki all season. Sadly though,  feel like this show will probably go the same way Mangaka-san to Assistant-san went. It's pretty funny at first but then there's recycled jokes and the same comedic situation being reused and the jokes becoming stale. That's the obstacle all comedy based series have to overcome tho. Some are good at it and some aren't. I'll hope that Nozaki-Kun is one of those anime that manages to get funnier and funnier every week but I doubt it.