The One’s Within Review Episode 2

Mashing Genres For No Apparent Purpose

Nakanohito Genome [Jikkyouchuu] Episode 2

While episode 2 of The One’s Within doesn’t really get us any closer to knowing the who, what or why of the situation, I do like that at least some of the players are open to testing how the mechanics of the game they find themselves in work. It makes sense that views come from more than just participating in the games and finding ways to use that to their advantage as well as finding other potential loop-holes may very well be what keeps this anime afloat.

That they demonstrated this while sending two of the girls to an outdoor hot spring is the kind of fan-service that makes sense. It serves a narrative purpose while providing the audience of the anime with those lingering shots of girls in a hot spring without actually showing anything thanks to the miracle of non-transparent water and unmoving hair that must be duct taped to conveniently cover breasts. Of course they’ll get more views if they are bathing, though we still don’t know who is watching these gamers in the first place.

They also gave us a bit of time to get to know the group dynamic that is forming before four players nominate to take part in the next game. I do like that not all of them are required to be helpful or involved in every situation. Asking the whole group to cooperate on every challenge would be overkill and difficult to make interesting and so narrowing the focus down seems an efficient way of dealing with each situation.

Of course, that’s more or less where the positives for The One’s Within end as to be honest this is fairly disorganised sequences with a cast of characters who seem to be determined to stick to their trope regardless of the situation. The angry boy threatening to kill everyone is already getting old two episodes in and really all of the characters are kind of suffering from being incredibly one note so far.

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SWORD ART ONLINE 1/7 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: ASUNA YUUKI SWIMSUIT VER.

The game itself, raising a girl and then getting her together with the most popular guy in school, is not inherently interesting, though they are pulling out all the stops to be zany and weird for the sake of it. Like the llama headed guy giving the instructions. Seemingly purposeless weirdness so they can point out how random and cool this all is.

Well, panda school girl baking cup-cakes doesn’t make the scenario any more interesting and the fact that she was crushing on one of the team members but they didn’t ultimately pursue that plot line at all just smacked of a wasted opportunity. This seems like it will remain watchable and there’s a potentially really interesting story here is they ever do anything with it, but so far it is sending up a lot of red flags for being a mess and probably not even a hot one by the time the season is over.

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Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Review Episode 15

Demon Slayer’s Stock is Plummeting

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 15

Yeah, this one is going down fast. I am starting to actually hate the dynamic between the main three boys and as we waste 8 minutes of the episode watching them chase each other around in a circle or go through petty squabbles before we get into the meat of the episode, facing the spider demon on the mountain, I spent most of the first half of this episode wondering if it was time to drop this from the watch list.

Nezuko’s big entrance ruined by this idiocy.

Now once they get onto the mountain, and leave Zenitsu sitting on the road feeling sorry for himself, and encounter another demon slayer and are fighting other demon slayers being controlled by puppets, it actually improves a great deal. Tanjiro is in his element, which is to say in over his head and frantically trying to catch up. That’s where his character is most fun.

The boar head guy, who I will learn the name of after he stops annoying me every time he opens his mouth, also gets less annoying once the fight begins but still acts idiotically as he stabs spiders with his sword despite already being told that was fairly pointless. About the only useful thing he does is locate the demon controlling the spiders and even then I’m not really buying Tanjiro’s argument that he couldn’t have found her sooner or later.

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However, turns out this one isn’t going to be a simple case of find and kill the demon given there’s more than one demon on this mountain. Certainly taking out the puppet master is a must but it doesn’t seem like it will end there. We also get a couple of older demon slayers getting sent to the mountain so maybe things will get kicked up a notched in the next episode.

Still, from episode 11 my enjoyment of Demon Slayer has been on a sharp decline. The introduction of new characters was rough and to be honest they’ve killed a lot of the enjoyment of the anime since their arrival. I was hoping they would settle down a bit and that I’d get drawn back into the show but the opposite seems to be happening. I’ll give it a little longer but right now this one is definitely not something I now have to see as soon as it comes out. I’m very happy to wait, watch some other stuff, and get back to this one.

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Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! Light Novel Review Volume 1

Cute, Smart Girl Becomes Cute, Smart and Over-powered Girl?

You would think there would be some cap on the number of stories of average Japanese teens dying tragically, meeting god and being reborn in another world, but no there is not. And I’m kind of happy about that. As much as some of these stories are derivative nonsense without a speck of originality, care or talent behind them there are also stories that really make something of the basic premise. It is like all those ‘boy meets girl’ stories and how some of them can really distinguish themselves and others end up stacked on the pile of mediocre genre stories and still others rot in the pile of substandard and uninspired crud.

This latest series I picked up to read after a recommendation came up through The Book Depository and I read some reviews on other blogs is Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! which is a marathon of a title and uses excessive punctuation to boot. Throw in the generic cute character on the front cover and the magic circle she’s standing in and all and all there’s a million warning signs that this is going to be dribble and yet it manages to defy all expectations and became one of the more enjoyable stories I’ve read for awhile.

I certainly jumped it to the top of the to be reviewed stack which is on the edge of reaching 20 books that I’ve read but have yet to type up my thoughts on.

There’s plenty to unpack in this story but my overall thoughts are that it is pure enjoyment to read. That doesn’t mean it is some hefty literary work that is going to take the world by storm. It is nicely written (or at least the translation effort was nicely done as most of it flows really well), the story moves along at a good clip, and the characters are entertaining enough. However it isn’t exactly trying to shatter the mould or blow our minds with its genius narration so just open up the book and start devouring the story.

Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life is Available on the Book Depository
Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! (Light Novel) Vol. 1
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The biggest downside of this book is it takes awhile to get going. As usual with this kind of plot we have to kill off our main character in one life and have her reborn. It takes about 30 pages of so to get through the basic set-up before our reincarnated protagonist lands at her first academy and the story really kicks off. Fortunately, once it kicks off it doesn’t really stop or get bogged down again and when you get the end of the volume it gives sufficient closure for the moment but leaves you wanting more.

Or at least, I certainly did and ordered the next couple of volumes already for future reading. While it might run out of steam in a couple of books, this is a fairly promising start.

Possibly one thing that really did help me get into the story was that our protagonist wasn’t a loner male. Kurihara Misato was a little bit isolated in her former life because of the expectations placed on her by others, but she wasn’t another shut-in gamer. Admittedly, they do play on her social awkwardness and inability to read others a bit too much early on in this story, but she’s a fairly up-beat heroine making the most of her situation.

I also like that there is no demon-lord in sight so far. Throughout this whole volume Misato/Adele/Mile faces many challenges but these include social status, socialising in general, friendship, and finding a place for herself in the world. No evil demons to fight or world ending terrors existing just to be terrors. Admittedly, there’s certainly room for political intrigue and other issues to blow up into larger issues in future volumes, but this was very much a low stakes story but with every decision being vital to the protagonist as she desired to fit in and anything that could risk that was seen as a threat there was an ongoing sense of purpose and direction for the story.

The supporting cast is quite large as the story carries from Adele’s home life, to her school, to the bakery where she works for a time, to the first village she runs to, and then to the academy for hunters she attends, but all of the characters we encounter are fun and interesting. Their interactions and responses to Adele/Mile as she goes about pretending to be normal despite obviously not being so is pretty entertaining, and by the end of this volume there’s a pretty cool group surrounding our main character.

There’s also a lot of very funny moments in the story. I’m not huge on comedy and a lot of jokes fall flat for me, but this book had me chuckling on more than one occasion as the protagonist’s plans blew up in her face or the other characters let her get away with something even though they all knew exactly what was going on.

As I said earlier, it is just a fun little book. With a delightful protagonist, overpowered or not, a plot that never seems to get put on hold even as there’s not a lot of clear direction to it as of yet, and a supporting cast that have been fun to get to know, Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! is one of those books that will just make you smile and try the one more chapter game until you fall asleep while trying to complete it in a single sitting.

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Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! (Light Novel) Vol. 1
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Arifureta: From Common Place to World’s Strongest Review Episode 2

Have They Managed To Get Anything Right?

Arifureta Episode 2

It is rare that I watch a show when I have pretty much no positives to discuss. Yet Arifureta falls into a very weird space where I feel oddly compelled to continue watching mostly just to see whether they ever manage to reveal the potential of the story in the light novels while at the same time I’m just weirdly fascinated that clearly the people who have adapted this do not understand at all what readers enjoyed about the story.

After the first episode aired, there were so many comparisons made in reviews of Arifureta to That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, but the thing is, other than both being isekai there really isn’t all that much that is similar about them beyond superficial genre elements. Yet you can’t actually blame them for the comparison given the anime version of Arifureta just seems like a failed attempt at a grim version of Slime. And that’s kind of appalling for a whole bunch of reasons.

Hajime would like a word with the writers of the anime.

However, even ignoring the source that is being adapted and just looking at this anime, two episodes in and it is pretty bleak. Not just because of lack of contrast in the scenes within the cave that make it almost impossible to distinguish what is happening, though way to save on drawing backgrounds.

This week we get a little bit more of a flashback about how the class ended up in another world but the characterisation is a simple matter of one liners from a few of the more prominent students with the teacher wailing in the background. Not one of these people comes across as an actual person. They are stand-ins for characters that might eventually develop in the space they are occupying but they’ve yet to do anything two episodes in.

Then we have our protagonist, Hajime. Putting aside the fact that I really feel they’ve butchered his character arc as presented in the light novels beyond salvation, I’d probably accept a different Hajime except that the one presented here is incredibly boring. His transformation was instantaneous last week and this week we see none of his struggle in these incredibly tough levels. Instead we get a simple montage of him knocking off monster of the week type creatures (only he covers it all in one episode) and now we’re fifty floors further down and knocking on the golden haired vampire girls’ door. Mostly it feels like no one writing the anime had any interest in actually developing their protagonist, or even cared for a moment if he came across as anything other than a stand in, so long as they could get to the naked vampire.

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Arifureta: From Commonplace to World's Strongest (Light Novel) Vol. 1

So was the naked vampire girl worth getting to? Not so far. Other than a few wispy lines of dialogue that sketch out a minimal back story she’s had no time to do anything. While Yue was a really great character in the source I’m not holding my breath at this point given the treatment the rest of the cast have gotten.

But she’ll look cute in all the promotional videos.

Arifureta may easily take the crown for most disappointing anime of the year. However, even if we removed any expectations readers had going in, this one isn’t even managing to hold its own against the rest of the isekai this season. It has so far been a bland and dull affair taking two episodes to jump through huge amounts of exploration and character levelling up but not taking any time to actually make us feel anything for a single character in the show.

All and all, this one is a train wreck of the highest order and it isn’t going to fall into the so bad it is amusing category. I can assure you, I’m not amused. Bemused, maybe, by how you take this story and make it this boring. I’d have settled for being a generic and fairly lame isekai over this effort.

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Dr Stone Review Episode 2

Stand Back: He’s Going To Try Science

Dr Stone Episode 2

They have an opportunity to rebuild the world but do they want to rebuild the world they had? It is an interesting question that comes up at the end of this second episode and one that certainly builds a lot of tension going forward as the more people Senkuu and Taiju wake up the more opinions they are going to have to deal with.

Episode 2 of Dr Stone has the duo setting out to wake up Yuzuriha, Taiju’s potential love interest. However, Taiju hesitates and decides they need to take her back to camp and make sure they have clothes for her before they do that. Naturally this then opens up opportunity for them to be attacked by lions. I’m really glad Taiju asked why there were lions in Japan because I was a bit confused by that one as well.

On the run, the two wake up another student instead, one that Taiju believes will be good at fighting. Turns out he is excessively good at it and takes the lion out in one punch and spends most of the rest of the episode pummelling wildlife. However, as I said before, more people mean more opinions and Shishiou has some big opinions about the world they left behind.

One thing I noticed while collecting a few screen caps this week is how many scenes look very much the same. I know we only have a few characters so far and the backgrounds so far have either been forest or beach but the number of close to medium shots of one of the characters with a generic foresty background behind them is a little absurd.

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MY HERO ACADEMIA - 2018 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Then again, we have a guy who punches lions, another guy who tears around the beach collecting shells like he’s some kind of robotic vacuum cleaner, and a guy who is smart enough to go from shells to soap and concrete almost in an instant so I’m guessing they aren’t super huge on realism even if a lot of the explanations make sense.

Of course, Senku’s slip-up, or decision to withhold one of the uses of the shells from the others seems fairly prudent given the situation, but it doesn’t seem like our new human society is off to a good start if three people can’t see eye to eye and are already keeping secrets from one another.

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Top 5 Anime With Fairies

Tuesday's Top 5

Fairies are fun to see in stories because there’s so many variations and forms on the idea of what a fairy is. From The Seven Deadly Sins to Amagi Brilliant Part, fairies show up over and over again. This list are my favourite appearances of fairies in anime (not necessarily best anime).

As always, I’d love to know your take on the list so please leave me a comment with your favourite anime that includes fairies.

Number 5: Midnight Occult Civil Servants

While starting his new job, Arata finds himself dealing with creatures called Anothers and as the only one who can understand them he ends up having to negotiate with these beings on numerous occasions. One of my favourite groups that turned up from time to time throughout the stories were the little fairies that lived in the park. Whether they were mad because the humans messed up their offerings or allowing themselves to be bribed for directions with cookies, these little creatures were always cute when they showed up.

Number 4: The Ancient Magus’ Bride

I genuinely couldn’t have made this list and left The Ancient Magus’ Bride off of it. This one gets points for being very detailed in its folklore and taking a more traditional approach to fairies and their rules. While they may not be as cute as some of the other entries, the attention to folklore here gives this one a well-deserved place and while the anime ended up dragging on a little bit, the magic and magical creatures were definitely a highlight and worth watching for.

Number 3: Sword Art Online Fairy Dance Arc

This may well be one of the most hated of all the SAO arcs and yet while the end of this arc brings us a psycho villain whose motive and actions are entirely flawed, the game that this arc is set in looks beautiful. The different fairy races that the characters can choose from, the flight mechanics, and the magic are just brilliant and I’d honestly love to play this game (provided it wasn’t being run by a made person using it to test mind control on people).

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FAIRY TAIL 1/6 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: ERZA SCARLET BUNNY GIRL_STYLE / TYPE ROSSO

Number 2: WorldEnd

Here’s a different kind of fairy. These ones I’m never really sure if they are actually fairies, leprechauns, or something else entirely but it is a fun take on the story and the girls are all quite fun to get to know. Used to fight beasts with magic weapons and slowly losing control of their powers or losing their memories, the story here is tragic and yet quite compelling for the most part. If only the mid-season had managed to hold up its end this one would have a lot more discussion around it.

Number 1: Humanity Has Declined

How on Earth could I not have put these adorable and incredibly creepy fairies as the number one on the list. The story takes place as humans are declining and fairies have returned. The main character has the job of liaising with the fairies as they pursue new entertainments. They latch on to any idea and go crazy with it but just as quickly move onto the next thing (kind of like watching the progress of the internet in fast forward really). Whichever way, these little guys are a must see.

And that’s my list this week but be sure to let me know what your favourite anime with fairies are.

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Fruits Basket Review Episode 15

A Walk By The Lake

Fruits Basket Episode 15

I think this is the first time when I genuinely preferred how the episode was handled in the older anime compared to this one. While this anime has taken a slightly different approach, for the most part I’ve found the changes are in the story’s favour however this week I found the episode somewhat lacking and I can’t even really figure out what was really missing.

Shigure decides they should go on a trip for Golden Week and cons Tohru into agreeing so naturally Kyo and Yuki are coming along. Hattori is coming as the driver and they are all off to the lake. While it might seem like Shigure is being nefarious, and he does kill several birds with one stone here as he’s messing with his editor and manipulating the younger generation but he’s also demonstrating that he does genuinely look out for Hattori.

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Fruits Basket Collector's Edition, Vol. 1

The return of Hattori’s situation with Kana is quite welcome and by far the strongest part of this episode as with Aya’s arrival at the cabin we see the three old friends together and both Aya and Shigure support Hattori as best they can. There’s a nice contrast of the old generation and the new and the hopes they have that Kyo and Yuki won’t end up emotionally broken however what Hattori has taken out of all of this is hope and trust in Tohru.

The less interesting parts involve Kyo and Yuki as they walk Tohru to the lake and bicker. Something felt lacking from these scenes and overall nothing really came from the situation. After the emotionally wrenching episode last week this one really lacked punch and while in a binge watch it will certainly serve as a nice breather, as a stand alone episode it just doesn’t have the strength of other episodes Fruits Basket has delivered.

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