Phantom in the Twilight Episode 6: Well, That Got Serious

Phantom in the Twilight Episode 6 - Van Helsing

This episode was pretty good as Van Helsing makes his presence felt in a show already fairly crowded out with characters. While it might end in yet another cliff-hanger, Phantom in the Twilight manages a fairly decent effort at progressing its plot this week.

Phantom in the Twilight Episode 6 - Wayne

For a show I had fairly mixed feelings about during its first three episodes and mostly just stuck with because I’m a sucker for the supernatural, Phantom in the Twilight actually continues to progressively get better as the audience is slowly drawn more into this world of Umbra and shadowy organisations. And while I use the word slowly, I don’t actually mean that as a criticism. Each week we gain more insight into the relationships between different characters or groups or learn more about how things work while the story also brings these different ideas and groups together. It saves us from anything too much like an exposition dump even though some of the dialogue is clearly explanatory and throw in for the benefit of Ton/the audience.

Phantom in the Twilight Episode 6 - Luke and Vlad

There are some plot developments that are a little clunky and awkward, such as the ongoing saga of Ton’s kidnapped friend. This week Van Helsing sees a reflection in a video and somehow determines that this is the umbra he needs to hunt down and maybe there’s more to the story, but it is kind of skipped over very quickly. Meanwhile, Ton also happens to come across more or less the same image but zeroes in on her friend’s hat. The likelihood of both parties finding the same footage at the same time and drawing the conclusion that they needed to be there is kind of stretching probability, but it does push the plot in a steady forward direction and overall the viewing is pleasant enough that these few awkward moments that exist simply to keep the plot afloat can more or less be forgiven.

Phantom in the Twilight Episode 6 - Chris and Van Helsing

Perhaps the biggest issue I have with Van Helsing’s introduction is that we’ve got another obvious case of an anime asking us to consider who the real monsters are as views of human supremacy are heavily dropped into his dialogue and we’re clearly set up to dislike him. While the commentary this character might offer on society isn’t an issue in and of itself, we’ve seen it plenty of times before and I’m not sure that this anime has the narrative strength to play it well. That said, it is a minor grievance in something that is by and large quite fun to watch.

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Karandi James

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Light Novel Volume 4 Review

I was really excited to pick up this volume because I knew it was going to introduce Welf Crozzo and he was a character I really wanted to know more about that the anime barely touched on. So, did it meet my expectations?

  • Volume 1 thoughts here.
  • Volume 2 thoughts here.
  • Volume 3 thoughts here.

Review:

This was one of those really fun reads where I anticipated something, didn’t quite get what I expected, but was still pretty thrilled nonetheless. Certainly, this is the novel where Bell finally meets Welf and they make a contract as adventurer and smith, but this book has so much more going on than just that.

Bell’s ascension to level two is big news. Now the anime did touch on this, but the reactions of other characters was not as pronounced and the whole levelling up thing didn’t seem quite the big deal other than just another step on the road. The book spends a lot of time on Bell meeting with people who are reacting to the news and you really see the impact the news has on the town of Orario. This helps really flesh out the world this character is in and makes things seem just a little bit more authentic.

We also see a bit more of Bell and Hestia’s relationship, both with Bell receiving a new skill and with Hestia having to go to a meeting of the Gods to get his title sorted out. There’s also a short story at the end that retells some of the events from early in volume 1 but from Hestia’s point of view. All of this continues to help build the relationship between these two characters and expand on the reader’s understanding of who they are as people.

Dungeon4b

We also have Welf’s introduction and slowly get pieces of his story both from him and from other characters that Bell talks to about him. This is definitely satisfying as it takes the character who was kind of fun in the anime and really shapes him. His motivations seems a lot clearer as does his growing friendship with Bell. Now, if I’m honest, this is probably a slow part of the story for people who aren’t fans of Welf, but for me I was really happy to read this and learn more about him so even though it feels like the Dungeon action has kind of crawled to a halt at times in this volume, I was very happy with what I was getting instead.

The final part of the book is focused on a familia that really didn’t show up much at all in anime but here are fairly important. Bell ends up going on a quest outside of the city (not into the dungeon) to help them out. Again, it isn’t the most exciting of moments this series has offered, but it does help grow an understanding of the world, how the familia’s and gods interact, and the complex web of interconnections within Orario.

Volume 4 very much helps build a clearer image of the world outside of the dungeon and as a result provides a foundation for so many more adventures rather than just going into the dungeon time and again (not that the dungeon is boring, but eventually Bell gets into trouble in a dungeon would wear thing in terms of plot). With some great character moments, some excellent world building, and by moving along through a few different sections, volume 4 has managed to be a fairly compelling read even while it might be the most forgettable of the series so far.

Still, definitely some promise of some excellent stories to come from this point and I look forward to reading them.


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Karandi James

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Angolmois: Record Of Mongol Invasion Episode 6: Division

Angolmois Episode 6

With the remainders of the army and the exiles momentarily unified in their desperation to survive, it is now the divisions in the Mongol army that are being exploited. That said, even with the infighting, the Japanese are really outnumbered here.

Mongol6a

I’m kind of annoyed at the way Teruhi is being presented so far in this series. She just keeps changing tone and reacting to situations and to be honest I don’t really get her as a character. We met her when she was playing the role of being haughty and cruel (which just seemed like a stupid approach with the exiles in the first place) and since then she’s been the stubborn tom-boy, the damsel in distress, the grieving family member, the tortured leader type, and so on. From one scene to the next you don’t know what face she’ll be wearing or how she’ll react and while fair enough her life is getting turned upside down, six episodes in her character remains fairly problematic in terms of actually saying whether or not I have a clue what her role in this story is.

Far easier to nail down is the role of the adopted son who last week joined forces Jinzaburou and the exiles as he tried to figure out a reason why he was even fighting and the writing was on the wall then for what his fate as a character would be. Points for the show not dragging it out and giving it enough weight as an event without belabouring the point. However, other than Teruhi and Jinaburou, none of the characters really have much, well, character. They are either stereotypes or more or less still blank slates with little to distinguish them from the other cast members. And that’s perhaps where Angolmois is starting to lose me now that the initial draw of the conflict is starting to wear a bit thin as we continue to see the Mongols chasing the Japanese across the island (there’s only so far you can pus htaht concept without liking the characters before it gets a bit old).

Mongol6c

Still, with developments towards the end of this episode bringing in some new characters, there’s some potential for a different direction. And despite m complaints about the cast, this is still a generally enjoyable show, outside of the ugly filter.

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Karandi James

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Holmes of Kyoto Episode 6: Something About Pride

Holmes of Kyoto Episode 6

Last week I mentioned that Holmes of Kyoto suffers from very little happening in each episode, and episode 6 is a prime example of not much happening. Not sure that’s a good a thing.

Holmes of Kyoto Episode 6

In episode 5 we were introduced to a potential villain/rival but much like the gap between episodes 1 and 5 where the story meandered about doing very little of consequence, episode 6 decides it is time for Holme’s grandfather to have a birthday party with a petty bit of mystery tossed in during the final five minutes just so the episode didn’t feel totally empty. While I guess you could argue that there are some character interactions and introductions that might be important, the bland nature of most of this episode with an excess of panning over still images means that all I could see this episode as was downtime for the animators. Maybe they used up all their energy with that minor action sequence last week where Holmes went to hit the guy with his fan.

Holmes of Kyoto episode 6

That isn’t to say that learning a little more about the grandfather is bad as learning about his time on TV and the fallout when a professional maintains his integrity in the face of ratings and the pride of others is interesting enough. Yet the meandering pace of the story and the yawn inducing locked room mystery that is solved in an instant really kind of kill any kind of goodwill I may have felt towards the slightly more intriguing parts of the episode. All and all, not sure this one needs to stay on my watch list, and yet it isn’t horrendous enough to really be bothered dropping either.

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Karandi James

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Sunday Without God Series Review: When Moe Meets Life and Death

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in June 2016 and can be found here.

I’ve watched this series a couple of times since my initial review and while some of the shine may have come off of this show on repeated viewings, there’s still something pretty great about it. I was kind of happy revisiting this one for a repost and to reconsider where it sits.

Sunday Without God - Ai

Like last time, one of the most striking things about  this anime was how beautiful it was. Every scene is just a feast for the eyes. Whether they are showing souls dancing in the air, the trees, leaves, sunlight or anything else, it is truly beautiful. And the music that accompanies most scenes is rich and lovely to listen to while conveying a lot of the mood of the current scene. And this anime is all about atmosphere.

While at first it seems Ai is just another overly cute anime protagonist who is going to save the world with peppiness, there are a lot of dark undertones to the world in Sunday Without God and the plot never shies away from dealing with these. And Ai, to her credit, tackles most obstacles head on with very little denial of reality of insistence that something isn’t right. She works to overcome things on her own.

Which means the aesthetics of this anime are amazing and our protagonist (after we get through the initial scenes of her life before she was aware of anything) grows in leaps and bounds and takes us on a journey of discovery about life and its purpose (even if it gives us few answers on the way). The support cast are also a great asset to this story.

I’ll admit though, that Ai is probably the part of this show that is the weakest when you rewatch it. Though the first viewing was great, in follow up viewings her excessive optimism and overall cuteness kind of get a little harder to take so even her development as a character doesn’t manage to off-set it. However, if you like up-beat moe characters, Ai is going to be a hit.

Sunday Without God

Sunday Without God is episodic in that there are distinct story arcs within the greater journey Ai is taking. The first few episodes deal with her meeting a stranger who changes her perception about the village she was raised in. The next arc takes her to a city that is almost entirely populated with the dead who are trying to live their own lives. Then we have a school arc, because they just kind of had to stick a kid in school (and to be honest this is the weakest of all the arcs but it does lead very nicely into the final arc). And lastly, Ai is recruited by a boy named Alis and asked to help him destroy his world. The explanation behind that request is more mundane than it at might at first appear but it is an excellent story to end on.

While some characters travel with Ai, each arc brings new characters into the fold and then they go their own ways. This is both a strength and a weakness. The strength of this is that we continually meet new characters appropriate to the current setting and we also don’t have to keep inventing reasons for others to still be hanging around. But it’s a weakness because some characters are really interesting and then they are left behind. In a longer series, this could have been a nice touch as Ai may have had a chance to revisit these characters when she was a little bit more worldly. Unfortunately, in 12 episodes, mostly these characters are simply forgotten.

And the more I think about it, the more I wish Ai had returned to the city of the dead and after seeing some other parts of the world and meeting the other characters. I feel that this would have helped to show how far she had come in her journey, and more importantly there were some great characters left in the city of the dead that I wouldn’t have minded seeing how they had fared since encountering Ai. I would really love to see this further explored but at this point it seems unlikely.

Sunday Without God

I’ll be honest and admit that if you are after something fast paced, Sunday Without God is not for you. Even though there are occasional moments of action, the show focuses very heavily on character dialogue and interactions. This is a story about how people deal with life, death, and what comes next and it is very focused on their reasons and their emotions. Large lengths of time are focused on characters either sitting and talking or driving together and talking or eating together and talking.

There are so many unsolved mysteries in the world of Sunday Without God. And a lot of that can be laid at the feet of the episode count. 12 episodes is barely enough to scrape the surface of this world where people do not stay dead and wishes come true. The world here is bizarre and intriguing and there’s a certain pessimism underpinning everything that happens but Ai brightens each and every situation with her presence preventing it from becoming truly depressing. More time to develop this world and more time to unravel these mysteries would have been fantastic.

Sunday Without God

This is a show full of fascinating moments and ideas. I love the initial story and watching as Ai confronts her rapidly expanding world. I also love the city of the dead and how we see the different views on death and life. But my favourite character is Alis who isn’t introduced until the school arc and doesn’t really do much until his request for Ai’s help. The relationship between Ai and Alis and how they work together to save/destroy his world is really interesting.

Overall, I loved Sunday Without God, though will admit the rewatch value is pretty ordinary as the missing pieces of the story become more apparent and the shine comes off the protagonist. However it is sweet and thought provoking and just a pleasure to watch. However, it is also heavy at times and the plot is slow moving. I’d strongly recommend that if you haven’t watched the anime, at least watch the first three episodes and see the first story before you make up your mind about it. It’s well worth checking out.


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Karandi James

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My 13 Reasons Why

Matt in the Hat tagged me nearly two weeks ago and I know I’ve been tagged for this one before and just never got around to responding. Part of that is my busy schedule and the other part of that is thinking of 13 things that keep me going is actually kind of hard when I kind of sum it all up into one simple answer (which I will make my number 13 on this list). Still, I’m thankful for the tag this time and for those who tagged me before that I didn’t respond to (sorry).

Rules:

  • Mention the person who nominated you
  • List 13 reasons why you keep going/living
  • Nominate 10 or more people to give their reasons why.
  • Use the picture that I created in your post.

My Reasons:

I did mention finding 13 was actually quite hard. Some of these are a little silly as I desperately tried to fill the numbers. Really, number 13 is the only one that is actually important and it is enough.

levy reading 2

01. Too many books still to be read and still to be published.

02. Too many movies still to be seen and still to be created.

03. Too many anime I have never watched and that haven’t been made yet.

Okay, the first three are all very similar but very important. I have watch lists and read lists filled with titles and these grow every single day. If I had a hundred life-times it wouldn’t be enough to get through everything that I wanted to read and watch so that’s a pretty compelling reason to stick around.

natsume6

04. My current cat needs me to feed her and any future pets I acquire would be equally dependent.

05. Certain family members would need to find someone else to play scrabble against online if I suddenly went silent online.

06. I’m almost certain that my work would pile up even if I was no longer here and that is a depressing thought.

These three are all very much about the impact my not being here would have on others. While I’m being flippant about it, whether I realise it or not most days, my presence actually does have some kind of impact on others and that’s certainly something I should try to remember.

Noragami2e

07. I’m still growing my blog and I’m sure it would miss me if I stopped logging in.

08. I still don’t know what’s in Eren’s basement.

09. I won’t get to see season 3 of Snow White With the Red Hair or Noragami (should they ever get made).

10. I haven’t learned all the kanji (forget all, I haven’t learned 500 of them yet).

11. I still haven’t managed to max out every stat on Skyrim (and given I’m not playing it at the moment I’m unlikely to every complete that goal, but it seems wrong to leave it unfinished).

12. Chocolate (I don’t think that one needs an explanation).

Yuri on Ice Episode 3 - Yuri chooses a costume

13. My story isn’t finished yet.

Outside of all of the other reasons, this is the most important. My story may not be all that fascinating to others, but it isn’t finished yet and that means there are still endless possibilities for where my story will go and where it might eventually end. And everybody knows there is nothing worse than a protagonist that gives up mid-adventure so while my story is still going, I’m going to keep trying my best to do whatever it is I’m doing at the time. I’m well aware that eventually I’ll run out of pages and that perhaps my book will be thinner than I would have liked, but I’m determined to make every page read the way I wanted to live my life (I may not succeed but at least I’ll try).

Nominees:

I have no idea who has been tagged at this point so feel free to ignore.

  1. Average Joe Reviews
  2. The Things I’ve Seen
  3. Anime Sunday
  4. Couch Crusin
  5. Negative Primes
  6. All About Anime
  7. Raistlin
  8. Keiko
  9. Otaku Orbit
  10. Anime Luxembourg

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Karandi James

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The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episode 6: Who Needs Plot?

The Master of Ragnarok Episode 6

In the absence of a new adversary, Yuuto and the group engage in pointless hot spring action before randomly deciding to start compulsory education. The Master of Ragnarok seems to just be reeling from one event to the next without much direction.

The Master of Ragnarok Episode 6

You know, hot-springs are a pretty common thing in anime. Even anime set in the past and not in Japan. So I’m not annoyed that the Master of Ragnarok sent Yuuto and all his female advisers and wannabe wives (and a slave because why not) to the hot spring. I’m more annoyed that they didn’t find anyway to make this a meaningful part of the plot (other than one of the girls washing Yuuto’s back with her boobs, because that’s a thing).

They leave the wolf clan for a vacation because Yuuto’s been working too hard. The girls basically do things girls only do in these kinds of fantasy settings until Yuuto’s nose explodes in a fountain of blood and then they all apologise before attacking him again.

Ragnarok6a

Meanwhile, Yuuto’s left someone else in charge while he’s away and they’ve made a big deal about that. But nothing happens. There’s no threat from outside to be dealt with or anything unusual that occurs. The guy in charge doesn’t try to usurp power or do anything underhanded. In fact, we don’t see a thing that happens while Yuuto is away. So why even make a point of leaving someone else in charge? More importantly, why send Yuuto away? Did anything of note happen at the hot-springs in amongst the over-the-top fan-service? Nope. Not one single plot or character point. This entire section was just there for the sake of getting characters naked, which they do anyway in bath scenes without a hot-springs trip, and it brings nothing of note to anything.

Ragnarok6f

We then return and we see another of Yuuto’s innovations from the future is earning the Wolf Clan money and somehow this ends up leading to Yuuto deciding to invent schools and compulsory education. Which is where the episode ends. Not sure why I should care how much Yuuto advances this particular society. Not sure why he isn’t looking for a way home. Not sure where the story is going because at this point and time we’re just kind of watching characters do stuff but not sure what their purpose is.

It’s all just a little empty.


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Princes

There’s something about growing up on a heavy dose of fairy tales and fantasy that leaves me with this ridiculous urge to still fantasise about the prince riding up on his noble steed and sweeping me off my feet, despite the fact that if common-sense hadn’t knocked that notion out of me, Shrek really should have. And yet, I can’t help but feel my heart do a little skip when we’re introduced to an anime prince who looks like they might be the hero I was holding out for.

With so many princes to choose from it was really hard to narrow down this list so I gave myself a few conditions. Firstly, they had to actually be a prince and not just called a prince (so no Prince of the school on this list). Secondly, no duplicates from the same show. Finally, these princes are in the order in which I personally would like them to come and save me from my mundane life. That said, I’d love to know which prince you’re holding out for.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: Mare (DameXPrince Anime Caravan)

Number 5: Prince Endymion (Sailor Moon)

Endymion

While these days I’m not the biggest fan of Tuxedo Mask and even as a kid I thought he talked too much, there was something undeniably cool every time we got to see Prince Endymion. His costume for one was a thousand times better than the Tuxedo Mask persona and he had an actual sword rather than a rose and cane so actually looked combat ready. The real tragedy of course is the limited screen time this character got in the original series.

Number 4: Ling Yao (Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood)

Ling Yao.gif

Okay, questionable choices aside, Ling Yao is a character who is literally willing to do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. And while at first it might seem like his goals are pretty self-serving, there’s a lot more at stake than it might at first appear. This guy is driven, talented, and willing to go as far as he needs to succeed. What’s not to like?

Number 3: Bruno Von Glanzreich (The Royal Tutor)

Tutor2

Of the four Princes in the Royal Tutor, Bruno was the one I consistently liked the most, though all of these princes went through some fairly decent character development throughout the course of the series. Bruno may have been awkward and indecisive at times, but deep down he always just wanted to succeed and he worked hard to achieve his goals. I love a hard working yet awkward prince.

Number 2: Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass)

Lelouch.gif

Did I  just say I liked someone awkward? Apparently not, because I’m now jumping to a guy who is literally overflowing with self-confidence. Between you and me, Lelouch would drive me crazy in real life. I’d probably end up slapping his smug face mid-chess game and then work at demolishing him on the board (okay, I don’t like losing either). And yet, there is something undeniably appealing about someone who will take on an entire empire to settle a personal grudge and who ultimately plots his own death in order to save the world. It’s a weird appeal, but it is appealing.

Number 1: Zen Wisteria (Snow White With the Red Hair)

The prince that I think most of us envisioned as kids. The guy who will ride in to save the day but if he can see the situation is under control he’ll just wait patiently until you are done. Sorting most things through words and paperwork but able to draw a sword and go to town when needed, quite literally the fairy tale prince.

I had so much fun writing this list but I’m really looking forward to seeing which princes my readers like. Please let me know your favourite, or your top 5 anime princes in the comments. And next week I’m going to take on my favourite Princesses.


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Karandi James

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Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4: A Time For Everything

Attack on Titan Season Three Episode 4

Sorry. I stuffed up the schedule on this one and it came out earlier today than intended. Here it is at the intended time slot.

This week Attack on Titan seems to want to  look at all the possible choices and outcomes of the current internal conflict. And so we have a characters finding their time to fight, their time to run, their time to listen, their time to gloat, and their time to shout, in an episode that is undeniably a bridging point and yet perhaps one of the better episodes from a narrative point of view that this series have ever delivered.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4 - Jean

With the exception of the newly introduced antagonist, Kenny, and the currently held hostage Eren and Christa, this episode runs us through almost all the major players in the current internal conflict. The titans have definitely become a footnote to those in charge rather than an actual threat that needs to be dealt with and while that might diminish some of the horror felt earlier with the appearance of the titans, it does go a long way to explaining this world and why only a small group of Scouts were ever interested in actually expanding territory or exploring beyond the walls. Those in charge are looking only inward and only to their own lives. It seems a terribly flawed and short sighted approach to leadership, and it is framed that way, and that is why as an audience we can continue to tolerate the violence Levi, Hange, and other characters we’re supposed to like unleash upon the people that technically their role is to protect.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4 - Levi

It isn’t as if this human on human violence came out of nowhere. Season one brought us the horror of titans, but also showed us Eren’s savage treatment when his nature was revealed, refugees being sent out as fodder to reduce the number needing to be fed, and the general broken nature of the command structure of the world. One of the earlier scenes with Levi involved him literally kicking a tied up Eren so the fact that he is capable of extreme violence is hardly news.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4

However, what differs in season 3 to season 1 is the context. In season 1 we constantly had the threat of the titans breathing down the necks of characters who were desperate to fight them back. Season 3 so far has none of that. The only threat presented in this season has been other humans and they are doing a fine job of supplanting the titans as the real monsters (and again that was pretty clearly hinted at in both previous seasons).

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4 - Erwin

So while we’re getting no closer to Eren’s basement, I can’t say I’m unhappy with the direction this has taken so far this season. As plot and character points start converging and a real picture of this world comes together, it makes the viewing a far more satisfying experience. And if the characters would stop shouting that would be fantastic, though I did mention that this episode a lot of characters found their time to shout. Eren being gagged last week and absent this week apparently left an opening and every character except Armin and Erwin decided to take their turn at shouting. Now if only anyone was listening.

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