Let's see what I've gotten through in the last few months.....reality has kept me away from here for a while, so pardon the long post.
As for TV series, I did a few re-watches, took in a new(er) series that started last October and wrapped in March, and finally got to watch a show in its English format whose first season I streamed back in 2012. I also rewatched a few in the Ghibli filmography and got all caught up in general with their works.
As it's probably known here by now, I typically (both out of need and preference) watch anime with the English track on. So I was ecstatic when a show that got little attention (frankly the animation of Season 1 killed it due to its odd 3d cel-shaded look, but it has a good story rooted in real-world history) during its streaming period, Kingdom, was going to be put out in full...both Seasons (2nd never got an official streamed broadcast), and a dub to boot.
The dub for that show though, I could tell it was done by perhaps the most well-known studio notorious for some of the most ear-bleedingly AWFUL dubs in anime. FUNimation didn't use their own talent, instead farming it up north to Canada and their Blue Water Studios. Now I'll grant, the reasons are obvious....it's a very niche show, it's nowhere the popularity of a Shonen Jump blockbuster, so corners had to be cut, and they DID give us the 2nd season on home video, which I didn't think would ever happen. To be fair as well, not all the voices are bad. Xin, Diao, the narrator, and some others whose names escape me, were just fine to me, but ugh, I was reminded how hard studios used to try to match lip-flap by compressing / stretching the recorded track, or shortening / lengthening silence....and how oftentimes it came out subpar and stiff. One of the lead males in the series (in fact, a very important character), Zheng Ying (Ei Sei in Japanese)'s actor came off as unemtional and very stiff. A crying shame! :( Yes he's a serious character with a serious job (unification of the states into the country of China), but that doesn't mean 'so stoic to the point of monotony with no emotive inflections in the voice'. All I can suggest to anyone wanting to watch this one, just stick with the Japanese. The last time I've had to 'thumbs down' a dub was with 'Crest of the Stars', and I'm quite a connoisseur with English recordings for anime. Again just a shame, but I probably had my bar set way too high with this one.
Still a good show though and it got me to read up and watch some Youtube vids on the history of China, leading up to the Warring States period in which Kingdom is based around.
I then did a weeks' marathon (one or two a night) of some of the Ghibli catalog. I did watch all the newer movies from 2006 onwards that I hadn't watched yet. Tales from Earthsea, Arrietty, From Up on Poppy Hill, The Wind Rises (Miyazaki's last film as director), and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Isao Takahata's last as director). The latter four were 'very' good films, both in the plots, direction and animation. Kaguya used an animation style that at first, I thought I was going to hate. Then as it told the old 'Bamboo Princess' Japanese folk tale, it completely made sense, and made it enjoyable. Can't recommend that one enough. Arrietty set itself up for 'sequels'....it's based off The Borrowers series of children's stories, but only the first one (of about four books I believe). Too bad the studio is basically 'inactive' for now, unless they've started. Poppy Hill I believe is going to wind up becoming a bit underrated / unnoticed. It's a bit more modern (Set in early 1960s Japan prior to them hosting the Summer Olympics) and nowhere rooted in fantasy like other Ghibli Studio output.
The only story that seemed disjointed was Earthsea. I love fantasy with a medieval bent, but even the author of the books was disappointed with the end result, so that tells you something.
All these movies have top-notch English tracks to them. They were well mixed, even those that weren't released through Disney/Touchstone (they passed on a few, handing them to GKids / Universal-Comcast for theatrical release).
I have one left, When Marnie Was There. Should get around to that at some point.
I've been streaming Utawarerumono: The False Faces on Crunchyroll (I have 3-4 episodes left), and also bought the Utawarerumono OAV series, which basically is just the 'break between arc' episodes that would have been part of the run in the original 2006 anime series if it were scheduled past its 26 episode run. Basically filler that one would slot into the final 13 episodes. Fanservice abound in those episodes, but it was a hoot watching old favorite characters (and their VAs, save for one) reprising their old roles nearly 8 years after the original run of DVDs, which I still own.
As for the new show, which already is licensed and sure to get a bilingual release (Sentai has the rights), this is an odd twist. The characters 'look' younger, and where the first series was quite full of fantasy (both medieval-ish and sci-fi) twists and a colorful, enjoyable cast of characters, this new one though.....they throw on 8-10 episodes of fanservice during the character introducing arc here. Thank goodness things start to get interesting into the latter half or I would have probably dropped this one like a lead rock into the Pacific. I won't spoil things, but in short, the show's set itself up for a 'Season 2', due to all the buildup spent in The False Faces. From what I've read online, there is a 3rd game to come out in the fall, so I guess it remains to be seen.
In the last week, I ran through an old favorite, Chobits, and I've started on its 'sort of tie in' prequel series, Angelic Layer...both part of the same story universe/locale. Amazing how the former still holds up and is eerily relevant today, what with people falling more in love with their mobile devices rather than interacting with real people. I'm sure that was not CLAMP's intent what with its fictional slant, but because the show is set (like so many anime set in Japan) in a modern-day Tokyo suburb, and does get into some serious plot material about love, loss, relationships and all their intricacies, my mind can't help but draw logical real-world parallels. Scary stuff. Thank goodness, Angelic Layer is a more positive, lighter-hearted show...it's CLAMPs try of the whole 'battling something-or-other' shows of the early '00s that were so popular.