ACCA Episode 11

Review:

ACCA has been a great watch and while part of me wondered if the final episodes could deliver after the last of the mysteries seemed revealed, episode 11 answers the question with a resounding ‘yes’. Everything about this episode worked and continues to tie the plot together while continuing to give us highly nuanced and interesting characters.

A few points to touch on (so 100 words bye-bye).

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Firstly, Nino came back in one of the most dramatic ways possible. I won’t spoil, but this was actually the first action-like scene this show really delivered on and provided both a great reunion between Nino and Jean and pushed the plot forward. No tugging heartstrings just for a cheap emotional outcome. This scene was used with purpose and did no overstay its welcome as it was one of many major plot developments in the episode.

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Secondly, Jean, who I have always found fascinating, actually emoted regularly throughout this episode and yet didn’t break from his usual stoic character. It is amazing how they made him seem more involved and emotional, while it didn’t seem like they’d just transformed his character for narrative convenience.

Thirdly, of course, we have the coup which is pretty much out in the open at this point. I’m still not certain whether Jean seriously intends to go through with the plan as laid out or if he has his own agenda and thoughts about how it will end, but he’s certainly letting things run its course at the moment. Still, a few of his lines this week made it seem as though there is one more secret to be revealed and I hope that I’m not disappointed.

And finally, the Prince is heading to Badon for the ACCA centennial (or whatever it is) and it seems like Maggie was trying to give him one last chance to not be a moron which the Prince utterly and completely threw away. Regardless of how the coup turns out, I’d really like the Prince to be brought down several pegs. Not necessarily killed (though I probably wouldn’t shed many tears) but at least soundly given a reality check.

Okay, I loved this episode and I cannot wait until next week.

ACCA is available on Crunchyroll.


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Tales of Zestiria the X Season 2 Episode 11

Review (spoilers, no attempt to not reveal information):

Possibly the whole Dezel sacrificing himself to blow away the dragons so that Sorey isn’t forced to either attempt mass purification (which cannot end well) or to accept that maybe shooting them is the only option could have been dramatic and moving. Certainly his farewell to Rose was nicely handled; and she looks adorable in that hat (sorry, distracted from the actual point there).

However, I just couldn’t get into this episode. Why did they have to farewell all the hanger-ons who rode that far with them? Was there some actual reason? If there was, why did they even come that far?

Why did we need to introduce a new character at this point? Did they do anything or add anything to the story?

When Dezel does blow away the dragons (interesting really given how strong they are and yet Sorey and the others, just fine) does Symonne actually revert from being a dragon or was that just some artsy visual that makes no sense?

Anyway, all of this kind of distracted me from what should have been a fairly heartbreaking moment. Mostly I just wondered why Dezel hadn’t hit Sorey across the side of the head with the gun and tell him to get off his moral high horse already. Okay, I am a little jaded at this point and this show hasn’t done much for me in the last few weeks so I’m being needlessly nitpicky.

Tales of Zestiria the X is available on AnimeLab.


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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid First Impressions

Overview:

Tohru is a dragon who shows up to be Miss Kobayashi’s maid after some drunken incident in the mountains. Only, as a dragon, Tohru’s understanding of how to be a maid is a just a bit off.

Review:

I’m not going to lie, I really didn’t enjoy this first episode. It’s perfectly functional as a show and I’m sure some people would find it adorable but I just found the voices grating and the interactions between the characters pretty dull. It is a shame because I’ve been kind of curious about this one, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing to watch it. Probably the most fun I had during this episode was when the robbers came to the apartment but that lasted about a minute and while it was funny, I just don’t think a show has lasting appeal whtn a minor joke mid-episode is the highlight for you.


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1000 Follower Thank-You

So, I actually didn’t notice when this happened until Raistlin nicely pointed it out and then WordPress sent me a cute little notification. But, at the start of the year I set a goal of reaching the 1000 follower mark and now it’s happened.

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So, pretty much I just want to give everyone of my followers a huge thank-you (I guess times 1000).

But while I’m writing I might as well do a quick reminder that my 1 year anniversary for my blog is coming up on the 1st of May and I’m looking at running some special posts in that week with the help of some of my followers.

If you are interested in being a part of my blog’s anniversary (because the followers are the reason the blog keeps going), please contact me. I’d like to feature a post about your blog and some of your posts and then have maybe 100 words that you’ve written about why you love anime, or what you like about my blog, or whatever. I’m happy to discuss.

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Of course, if you’d like to support my blog in other ways, please check out my patreon. I really would like to look at doing more with my blog but need a little more time that can be dedicated to it if I’m going to expand my content. A big thank-you to those who have already chosen to offer support.

Once again:

Thank-you for following 100 Word Anime!


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elDLIVE Episode 11

Review:

There’s actually a half decent set-up in this episode with the villains demanding Chuta get handed over and the spy in elDLIVE (though it seems like it is obvious who that is unless they are just playing us). However, as always, elDLIVE decides to strangle itself by spending the first third of the episode on a random art museum excursion where the boys get all excited over pictures of naked girls and the girls get all offended. The other issue this episode is Chuta is back to being miserable. While I get he isn’t going to instantly be full of confidence, his bouts of self-doubt are really dragging this particular story down because they aren’t dealt with very well and he isn’t a sophisticated enough character for me to care about his insecurities. It just makes me want to slap him and tell him to get over himself. Plus, Dolough fading out just before revealing the name of the traitor is pretty lame though was completely expected at this point. Well, I guess we’ll find out how this crisis is resolved next week.

elDLIVE is available on Crunchyroll.


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Haikyuu Episodes 22 + 23

Review Episode 22:

I’m really thinking these people are taking Volleyball just a touch too seriously (though I guess that is how you get good at things and I probably take other things just as seriously – I just can’t see the point of hitting a ball over a net). Still, the amount of angst some of these characters have is kind of astounding for a high school sports competition. And of course we visit flash-back land to see just why the Blue Castle setter has it in for Kageyama and maybe that was supposed to make us slightly care about his character, but I just can’t see him as anything other than an obstacle creating an opportunity for Karasuno to learn and grow. At this point I can’t see them winning but stranger things have happened.

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It is kind of wonderful to see the change in Kageyama as he retakes the court. Hinata is obviously able to work better with him and once Kageyama and Tsukushima start actually communicating (badly, but communicating) the whole team really is working well. They finally finished the second set and now we get to watch a third.

Review Episode 23:

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See what I mean about them all taking this game too seriously? Still it was nice to see Yamaguchi take the court even if it was only for a serve. Still, it would really suck to be the other players standing on the sidelines when every first year has been on and they haven’t. Anyway, they are really drawing things out now but it doesn’t feel slow.

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I’m not sure now whether they are going to win or lose. My bet is still on lose but what do I know?

Haikyuu is available on AnimeLab.


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Killing Stalking Chapter 9

Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.

Review:

How about it? You’re going to be the masters of your own fate! What a joke! But it’ll be exciting, like a roller coaster.

Sangwoo is really, really cruel. I can’t help but admire how incredibly expert he is at playing on human emotions, building up small glimmers of hope and then crushing them mercilessly under foot. He’s the brilliant manipulater and the game he sets up in this chapter brings that attribute to the foreground.

We pick up exactly where we left off in Chapter 8 with the new guy being thrown into the basement. Sangwoo, after forcing introductions, decides that the best way to break the ice will be a card game and of course it isn’t any fun if there isn’t something on the line. Why not bet their lives.

So begins a game that kind of reminded me of some of the episodes of Death Parade. The characters are doing something totally innocuous, but with the stakes as high as they are, emotions frazzle and things rapidly spiral out of control. In this case, Yoon Bum having won the first game before Sangwoo declared it a practice round, becomes desperate. In his desperation he clings to the only thing he has and that is Sangwoo.

Now, Sangwoo could have just let things run their course but that is not his style. Instead, after looking at Yoon Bum’s hand, he sits behind the other guy and begins indicating to Yoon Bum which card he should pick. Naturally, this gives Yoon Bum just that little bit of hope that Sangwoo doesn’t intend for him to lose.

Which makes Sangwoo directing Yoon Bum to the joker just that little bit more cruel. The fact that as readers we see this outcome coming from the moment Yoon Bum looked desperately at Sangwoo doesn’t take away the impact of that final draw.

Of course, knowing how many more chapter already exist after this one, I’m pretty convinced Sangwoo isn’t about to kill Yoon Bum so now I’m curious as to what the twist will be next chapter.

That’s really all there is to chapter nine. It is a delight to read and in terms of sex and violence is probably one of the safest chapters yet (except for the part where Yoon Bum is still pretty naked and covered in bandages from previous damage, and the bondage on the other guy), however there is definitely tension cutting through the entire chapter that leaves you just a little bit tired after reading because you’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop ever since the game started.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this chapter.


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Dusk Maiden of Amnesia Series Review

When I came across this title on my list of anime I want to review I was kind of stunned. I thought for sure that I must have reviewed this. Then I realised that I’d just placed Yuuko on my Top 5 list of Characters with Convenient Missing Memories and that the show made my top 5 list of supernatural anime.

Overview:

Teiichi Niiya has just enrolled in a new school and after getting lost in the old school building comes across a room that is rumoured to be haunted. There he meets Yuuko, the ghost of the school and somehow he can see and touch her. The two form the Paranormal Investigation Club to figure out the mystery of Yuuko’s forgotten past. They are joined by Kirie Konoe who can also see Yuuko but is convinced she’s an evil spirit and Momoe Okonogi who would love to see spirits but remains blissfully ignorant of most of the goings on.

Just so you know, there are spoilers in the review below.

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Review:

As much as I genuinely love the experience of watching Dusk Maiden of Amnesia it is a hard anime to recommend to someone else. The biggest issue being that this story wants to be three separate anime and keeps changing its mind and shifting directions. That isn’t to say that each part isn’t entertaining in its own way, however the abrupt tonal shift and change in direction for the characters is a little bit jarring. Also, the first episode, while amusing if you watch it through after watching the rest of the anime, is a pretty terrible introduction to the series. So, to look at what is good and not so great about this anime, I’m going to take a plus/minus format approach to this review.

Plus +

Teiichi Niiya as the lead in this story had the potential to be just another middle-school anime protagonist. And at first he does seem like that.

Oh, you’re dead. That’s too bad. You don’t remember what killed you? Let’s find out.

But that quickly gives way. After his initial acceptance of what Yuuko tells him and the situation he starts to realise that things are off and becomes quite active in his pursuit of the truth hidden in the school. He persists in this even after Yuuko actively seeks to stop him. So does that make him just a go getter who won’t give up on his goal? Not really. There are several instances where things look dicey for the pair. After Niiya breaks his leg (or his leg is broken after shadow Yuuko pushes him down a flight of stairs), and after Yuuko purposefully sheds all memory of Niiya it really does look like things are done and it takes awhile and some prompting after some events for things to get back on track.

Teiichi, while accepting enough of the premise so as to not be the annoying ‘in-denial’ protagonist (of the kind William became in Devils and Realist) is also not over-powered, super-smart, the centre of a harem (though it almost goes there) or anything really other than the descendant of someone who had been close to Yuuko and an actual nice guy (but not a complete push-over for the whole series).

Minus –

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I mentioned this before but the show does not know what it wants to be other than supernatural (which doesn’t tell you much other than that there’s a supernatural element in this case a ghost). It starts off almost pure comedy with the ghost playing with Okonogi who can’t see Yuuko, and this is almost immediately followed by the ghost trapping herself and Niiya in a food elevator which leads to the standard accidental breast grabs that show up in anime all the time.

However, after a few episodes the comedy elements seem to give out to actual supernatural investigations and several cases are taken and solved (though it turns out Yuuko’s boredom accounts for a lot of the mysteries around the school). Anyway, this is very much the kids in a club phase of the story.

Then things take a turn for the dark and it seems like they are looking for some genuine psychological horror at this phase of the story but it is hard to take it seriously due to everything that came before.

Lastly, we seem to hit upon a supernatural-romance ending. Which is sweet and dramatic and really touching but was I watching a supernatural romance?

None of these parts are bad in and of themselves and they actually do all work to form a cohesive story but it’s hard to know just who the intended audience was given very few people are likely to sit through all of those different phases happily even if it is only 12 episodes.

Plus +

This one is a major spoiler though technically I already spoiled it in my top 5 list.

Yuuko

The reason for Yuuko’s fairly selective memory loss is not only a plot device that is explained, but it is actually kind of clever and almost believable in a supernatural story. That the trauma of her death was too much of a burden to carry that she threw it off, creating a shadow version of herself, and then she continued to throw off any negative emotions or memories, feeding the shadow version and remaining up beat regardless of the situation, feels like something that could happen (when dealing with a ghost at least). I really liked how this part of the story played out and I loved how Yuuko utterly resisted being reconciled with her memories. And when we see how she was killed it is pretty horrible.

Minus –

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Girls have breasts. We get it. Amazingly enough this is a known fact. Do our two female students and one ghost need to compare sizes and take any opportunity to glare at each other’s busts. Does our male lead need to actually grab Yuuko’s breast to prove he can touch a ghost?

While this isn’t over the top groping or fan-service it just doesn’t feel like it fits into this story (at least not after the first couple of episodes where it kind of feeds into the comedy elements). Normally these sorts of anime antics are ignorable, but as i said, they just don’t fit with anything else on the screen so it almost makes you wonder if they were contractually obligated to include it.

Plus +

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The music and atmosphere of this show is pretty amazing. It’s part of the reason I wish they’d played this story straight as a supernatural investigation with a hint of romance instead of trying to squeeze in the school club, slice of life, comedy elements. The old school building is dripping with atmosphere and the sunsets, lighting, use of wind, everything just creates this glorious supernatural atmosphere and it is all preceded by an opening song that while it isn’t great to listen to on its own (it’s not bad) just perfectly fits what this show could have been.

Minus –

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Let’s look at episode 1. First we see a scene with a girl writing in a journal about how she’s going to investigate supernatural occurences, meanwhile supernatural occurances are occurring all around her. Things are moving on the table and she doesn’t notice. Then we see the scene again only this time we see Yuuko (the ghost) being bored and deliberately trying to bait the girl and failing to get her attention. Maybe it was supposed to be funny but mostly you’re just left waiting for the punch line as to why you are watching this show. Then we get the painful scene with Niiya pretending to phone the ‘ghost’ president of the club so that he can talk with Yuuko without looking like a crazy person (a ploy they use many times throughout the show and could have been interesting but at this stage it just looks gimmicky). By the time we get to the groping in the food elevator I’m thinking the vast majority of viewers have chucked it in and said enough.

While I know this gets said a lot, I will say it anyway. This show does get better. The first episode is really not a good example of what this show does well nor is it particularly interesting when you don’t know or care about any of the characters. This episode fares better after you’ve watched the whole series and then when you do a rewatch you actually don’t think the first episode is so bad. I just remember it took me three goes to initially watch the anime in the first place because I kept rage quitting episode 1.

As I said, this is a hard anime to recommend but if you like supernatural stories then you will probably find lots to enjoy in this even if one or two parts of it annoy. On the bright side, none of the elements really stick around long enough to be too painful because this show just keep pushing forward.

If you’ve watched Dusk Maiden of Amnesia I’d love to know what you thought of it.


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Iron Blooded Orphans Episode 47

Review:

This is like watching a collision in slow motion. You know the impact is coming and you know it is going to be bad but you’re just kind of inching toward it. This episode saw them finally arrive back on Mars but with no allies and no money, Tekkadan really has no chance. Zack is about the only one with a brain for bailing but even then I think he’s going to have trouble given they seem pretty determined to wipe out Tekkadan.

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And I love how they threw this line in from Kudelia but then backtracked and said they weren’t sure. Though it kind of seems like they are doing everything possible to raise a death flag for Atra.

Anyway, my emotional investment is still gone and this episode didn’t do much to bring it back. Tekkadan willingly threw themselves at this conflict naively believing things would work out because they did before. It kind of just seems like a logical consequence of that and while its tragic and all it isn’t as though they couldn’t have avoided this whole mess with some smarter decision making earlier on.

Iron Blooded Orphans is available on AnimeLab.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Reasons to Watch Evangelion

I still haven’t actually tackled trying to review Neon Genesis Evangelion but one day I will take on the challenge of trying to actually review a show that is simultaneously brilliant and hopelessly broken but in the meanwhile here are my top 5 reasons as to why you should watch the original anime even if you are pretty sure you are going to hate it. While a lot of these apply to why you should watch any show, some are quite specific to Evangelion.

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

Honourable Mention: The theme song ‘Cruel Angel Thesis’ is amazing. No other words, just amazing.

Number 5: The Online Discussions

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Love or hate Evangelion, there’s a lot of ongoing discussions and debates about this anime. It is pretty much everywhere and anyone who has watched it has an opinion and those opinions are very diverse. The problem is, you can’t engage in these discussions until you watch the show.

Number 4: Broken Characters

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Some people love the characters of Evangelion and see them as deep with real emotions and emotional scars. Others just like looking at the girls in their flight suits. Whichever way you choose to look at the characters of Evangelion, what has to be obvious is that each and every character is fundamentally broken. We have a hero who isn’t just a wimp, he is all but completely passive about life except in a few key moments. The supporting team of heroes where one of them has an inferiority complex made significantly worse after she becomes fully aware that she isn’t the one who is actually going to save the day and the other show is equally indifferent about the fate of the world as the hero. We have the workers of Nerv all of whom are pursuing their own agendas and the members of the oversight committee who think they are in control of most of the other people but really are more or less helpless spectators.

Individually these characters aren’t particularly interesting or particularly good characters outside of the context of this show. But as a cast they pose so many questions and reflect so many of the darker sides of human nature that the sum is definitely greater than the parts that make up the cast of this anime.

Number 3: You’ll Get The References

Seriously, Evangelion is one of the most over-referenced anime I have ever seen. Not that intertextual references are a bad thing but it has gotten to the point where people are referencing the references and the actual source material and purpose are kind of getting forgotten. Still, seeing a Gendo pose, an AT field, any quote about a machine not responding, the epiphany sequence (totally used in the Simpsons movie as well as a whole bunch of anime), the monoliths (though these were definitely borrowed even when they appeared in Evangelion), and so on can just make you smile. There are literally references to this anime everywhere in other anime, in TV shows and movies.

Number 2: Can The World Be Saved?

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I love that Evangelion takes place in a world that has been broken but is trying to rebuild. Facing the same threat again, it seems humanity is scrambling for a way to survive and like all good anime finds the only salvation in dysfunctional teenagers, but the world isn’t saved. At least not in any kind of form that would be considered saved in a traditional story. It puts all the struggles and minor triumphs these characters go through into perspective and the ending, while severely open to interpretation, really makes you think about all those stories where some big bad is just kind of wept away with limited fall out and makes you wonder about the credibility of either the evil they were facing and the effectiveness of the heroes.

Number 1: It Makes You Think

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Again, whether you love this show in the end or hate it, whether you think the references are simply religious jargon tossed around and the symbolism is mish-mashed, whether the characters work for you or not, what Evangelion does brilliantly is pose questions for the audience to ponder. You may not like the answer you are presented with (or you may not be presented with an answer), but you will have questions and feel that there is more than one possible answer.

There we have it, my top 5 reasons why I would say you should watch Evangelion (other than, it’s Evangelion). If you’ve seen it what reasons would you give for watching it, or not?


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