No Love, No War, No Real Interest

Kaguya Sama: Love is War Post Title

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 11 Review

What is worse than two supposedly smart characters facing off on childish mind-games that seldom amount to anything?

Apparently episode 11 where the two don’t meet and we get a skit of Shinomiya moping about the house and learning to use Twitter, another one of those random stories where someone turns ramen eating into some kind of high art form which just goes on far too long, and then another story where both Shirogane and Shinomiya are moping and end up at the school but not at the same time.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War

Sigh.

If it wasn’t for the post credit sequence where Shinomiya was summoned by her father and clearly they are setting something up there I’d say this was an entirely skippable episode. Unless of course you really have some desire to watch Fujiwara eat ramen while some random side character narrates the ‘correct’ way to do so. Is it just me or are there too many of these ramen perfectionists scattered throughout anime? And do such people really exist that they feel there’s only one correct way to enjoy a bowl of soup and noodles?

Fujiwara Kaguya Sama Love is War

Ramen philosophy aside, there’s little entertainment in watching Shinomiya mope and her attempts at using twitter are just this side of pathetic. I honestly wanted Hayasaka to just put her earphones in and enjoy her bath because watching a character sleep in the bathtub was honestly more entertaining (words I never thought I would type).

Kaguya-Sama Love is War - Shinomiya is banned from Twitter

Summer holiday sequences are a staple of high school based anime, and while many fall back on the standard tropes of bikini clad girls playing beach volleyball before splitting a watermelon, at least there’s a little amusement to be found in that. I’m just not sure what, if anything, we were supposed to get out of this mope fest other than annoyed at both the main characters for continuing to be idiotically stubborn.

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Though, at least visually it didn’t drop the ball toward the end of the season as a lot of other anime have. The visuals and animation (what little animation there was), were as on point as always.

Shirogane - Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 11

Anyway, one episode of this to go.

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Up Close with Yuki Soleil

The Price of Smiles Episode 6 Yuuki

Alright, so let’s establish who Yuki Soleil actually is given I’m kind of certain a lot of people decided not to watch The Price of Smiles during the Winter anime season. Which is a fair enough decision. Even though I low-key enjoyed it and still feel it is probably better than some people think, it isn’t exactly great and ends up being a fairly average watch once it concludes (though more on that in the series review that will come out later this week). For now, I just want to look at Yuki, one of the two protagonists that The Price of Smiles splits its time between.

The Price of Smiles Episode 1

On meeting Yuki we find her to be an exceptionally bubbly and cheery Princess. She does all the usual anime Princess things such as being adored by her subjects, has a childhood friend who also guards her, and she sneaks out of the palace to play. It is all pretty standard and unfortunately, despite Yuki actually being a reasonably interesting character, she ends up grounded in this terribly cliche mould.

The other issue Yuki suffers as a character is that despite being The Princess and technically the ruler of the Kingdom of Soleil given her parents are dead (oh look another anime character with dead parents), those around her actively strive to keep her in the dark. Their excuse is they want to see her smiling and happy, but how can she possibly rule anything when she knows nothing of the reality?

The Price of Smiles Episode 4 Princess Yuuki

Even after the truth confronts her in the horrible shock of the death of a close friend in a war she never knew existed, Yuki remains stubbornly naive looking for quick solutions to solve the conflict including offering herself up to secure a peace deal. And while that path could have been interesting, once again, those around her ignore her wishes and whisk her away sacrificing someone else in her place.

The Price of Smiles Episode 12 Yuki and Layla

It makes you wonder what authority Yuki actually has and unfortunately they never address this. While Yuki keeps making decisions and works with Layla, her closest adviser to ultimately get the outcome she wants, she never does win over the council or the army. She technically goes behind their backs. So it never becomes a story of Yuki growing into her authority because even in the final episodes she seemingly has little sway over anyone outside of her inner-circle.

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That and Yuki never really gets over her childish desire to simply make everyone happy, as if such a state were possible.

Yuki is a character who had huge growth potential but largely didn’t get it. Her periods of grief for those who are lost vary with some deaths hitting her significantly hard and other deaths seemingly being just another drop in the ocean.

The Price of Smiles Episode 2 - Yuuki

What manages to keep Yuki from becoming a fairly forgettable character are her few moments of tactical brilliance. This is demonstrated in the early episodes when playing a game. She helps her knight fight his way to victory through reading the terrain. Mid-season this brilliance comes back again very briefly, but over and over again she makes poor calls because she allows her emotions to overcome her reasoning. It does however make her final play more believable because Yuki isn’t a dumb character. She’s naive and she didn’t know much about the real state of the world, but with the right information at her disposal, she certainly demonstrates that she can use it creatively and to be effect to achieve her desired results.

The Price of Smiles Episode 8 Yuki

I’d have loved for Yuki to have gotten more time to develop and to grow. I would have loved to see her actually earn the authority as a ruler and to see her win over those beneath her. Unfortunately, the story just didn’t have time for it and so we end up with a character who potentially could have been great but will for the most part be forgotten.

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Alice The Disciplinarian In Wonderless Land?

Grimms Notes Post Title Image

Grimms Notes Episode 11 Review

For a penultimate episode this was pretty meh and also pretty confusing. I’d always assumed that they transformed into characters they had met. Ex’s first transformation kind of broke that pattern but otherwise mostly they are characters we’ve seen in the world, or I assumed characters the others met before they met Ex. But clearly Reina had never been to Wonderland and met Alice for real so now I’m just plain confused.

Reina Excited to Meet Alice - Grimms Notes Episode 11

Grimms Notes did at least break the formulaic mould it had created in this episode. While it all seemed to follow the usual pattern, the villains threw a curve ball in at the end which is what will lead us into the final episode (or at least what I assume is a final episode), so points at least for that.

Alice - Grimms Notes Episode 11

Turns out Alice and the White Rabbit have joined forces with the Queen of Hearts to remove any trace of wonder from Wonderland. They act like the disciplinary committee from an anime high school and arrest anyone who is seen doing anything that might be vaguely fun by the looks. Turns out these people end up on trial and are then sentenced to death.

Which seems dark but don’t expect the episode to linger on that point.

March Hare -  Grimms Notes Episode 11

Anyway, Reina’s absolutely crushed her hero, Alice, is behaving in such a way and more or less spends the episode trying to talk her into believing in the power of stories. It is all very cute with some fun messages to be had, but this anime just doesn’t have the narrative strength to pull it off in any manner other than stale.

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As for Tao and Shane, they’ve more of less become the peanut gallery since their focal episode and could more or less vanish without appreciably hurting the plot at this point. Even the fight scene had them do one attack and then promptly vanish from existence while Ex and Reina finished it off (or tried to).

Shane and the March Hare Episode 11 Grimms Notes

I guess we’ll see what the villains have planned next week and maybe it will save this show from quietly slipping into forgettable sub-par history.

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Bring the Pain; It Won’t Stop These Magical Girls

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Post Title Image

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 11 Review

As Asuka faces off against Giess and War Nurse Kurumi faces of against Whiplash, the fighting above ground grinds to a halt with The Russian magical girl rescuing Mia as well as Nozomi and Sayako. Of course, there’s no more reason for the fighting to go on above ground given the box with the magical tool in it has already left the building and so the fight below ground, while grand and all, is mostly just marking time.

Asuka vs Giess - Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka  - Episode 11

Kurumi gets quite the beating in this episode, both physically and emotionally. We already knew War Nurse wasn’t amazing at hand to hand combat so her opponent couldn’t be any worse. Yet, despite flash backs to days of being bullied and a lot of mental trauma, War Nurse isn’t going to take a beating lying down.

Kurumi - Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Episode 11

This is probably the best showing Kurumi has been given so far in this series. She’s wanting to go help Asuka, but more than that, she doesn’t want to feel pathetic. She doesn’t want to return to who she was. Kurumi gives this fight everything she has and while she is still very much a support fighter, you have to respect her victory in this instance.

Asuka - Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Episode 11

Asuka on the other hand is a front line fighter but her opponent is also ill-suited. She takes significant damage including the loss of an arm, but don’t think that’s going to stop her.

Now, I should point out, that the fact that Nozomi lost an arm earlier in the series and they simply reattached it takes a lot of the tension out of this sequence. There’s never any doubt that Kurumi will get there and repair Asuka’s arm for her so the cringe and fear that should really work with this scene isn’t there. So instead it feels a little bit flat despite the apparent gravity of a teenage girl having her arm torn off.

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Again though, we know it isn’t going to be permanent, unless Kurumi dies before the fight is over but that seemed unlikely, and also, the audience knows the reason for this fight has already gone. Asuka isn’t aware of it so is fighting for real, but it makes it hard for the audience to invest.

Of course, that doesn’t make Asuka’s winning attack any less cool to watch.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 11

I don’t know what they are going to do to Whiplash but I don’t think it will matter. She was pretty broken after losing her fight and then Giess put the final nail in the coffin by revealing what his side did to her.

Whiplash - Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka - Episode 11

The one thing I do know is that none of this will be properly solved next week unless it is done at break neck speed so it seems we’ll be left hanging at season’s end. And was that last comment by the villain about the magical tool a sign that Sayako is actually going to become a magical girl or am I reading too much into that?

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5 Days Left To Vote – Pick Your Favourite Anime of Winter 2019

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10

We are down to the final five days to get your vote in. And there’s now a clear distinction between the front of the pack and the rest. Still, the top 3 anime chosen in this poll will go into the anime of the year poll at the end of the year so even if your favourite doesn’t take the top spot, it could be in with a chance later in the year when more people have had the chance to see it.

As the Winter shows draw to a close it is time to ask yourself what your favourites have been. This isn’t about technical proficiency but about pure enjoyment as a viewer and what you have wanted to talk with your friends about. Which anime did you eagerly anticipate each week and which are you sad to see ending?

Choose up to three and have your say. The poll will close March 30 with results out (hopefully) on the 1st of April.

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In Case You Missed it 2019 #12

With the Winter season rapidly coming to an end it is time to have your say in the reader’s poll (if you haven’t already). There’s six days left so make sure you have voted. Also, if you missed it, earlier today I had an announcement out about some travel so be sure to check that out. Otherwise, business as usual and we have some great posts from the community. I definitely urge you to check out the pick of the week.

Posts from the Community

Xenodude gives us a fantastic list featuring their five favourite drunk scenes from anime. Of course a certain ice-skater doing a poll dance made the list but what else did. It is just a fun list to read with some great anime and characters on it, so if you want a smile this one is worth the read.

Yuri on Ice Episode 10

BiblioNyan has a great write up of Netflix’s live action Erased as an intro to J-Drama. While I personally still find the live action version of Airi creepy, the rest of this drama I found pretty entertaining and I really enjoyed reading this write up about it from the point of view of someone who went and read the manga. Definitely one to read.

Emi from Ramblings N’ Scribbles has a great post focusing on the wonderful character of Akane Tsunemori from Psycho Pass. It is a great post that looks at a range of Akane’s attributes as a character and celebrates what she achieves in her story as well as who she is. If you want something positive and fun to read, as well as want to spend more time with a great character, from the perspective of someone who was trying to play her as part of a fan dub project, then this is a great post to check out.

Kawaii Paper Pandas shares their top ten abilities from Bungo Stray Dogs. There’s clearly a lot of enthusiasm here for the topic and you can feel the love while reading the list. Also, they’ve shared the promotional video for season three of Bungo Stray Dogs so if you missed seeing that here’s a chance to look at what is coming.

While on that topic, Alexie shares their five favourite abilities in Bungo Stray Dogs, plus a couple of honourable mentions because the show just has too many cool abilities to be contained to just five. Whether you like the show or are interested in just seeing some cool character powers, this is a fun and spoiler free post to have a bit of a look at.

Ktulu has a review of Re:Creators. I still haven’t had a chance to see it but I’ve enjoyed some of the takes different reviewers ave had on it. This one was fun to read as it looked at different aspects of the anime and then suggested ways it could have been improved. I’ll hopefully get to see this one eventually to see what I think of it, but in the meantime I’ll enjoy reading what others thought.

Otaku Central covers one of my favourite anime, and clearly one they enjoyed, Noragami. If you want a look at whether or not Noragami is an anime to check out, this write up covers the main characters and themes and doesn’t contain plot spoilers.

A Girl and Her Anime reviews an anime short called Sono Toki, Kanojo Wa. It sounds kind of interesting, particularly the art style, but I will admit I’d never heard of it prior to reading this review (or if I have heard of it I’d promptly forgotten). Still, it is an interesting write up that has made me intrigued and maybe I’ll find the time to go looking for this one at some point.

Irina lists her five anime that she wants another season of (though Natsume Yuujinchou got its own mention because there’s always a need for more of that). There are some great picks on the list and realistically I’d love another season of every single one of them so I had great fun reading this list. Be sure to check it out if you missed it.

Taki

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Pick of the Week

This one is a bit of a late entry but really deserves to be the pick of the week. I like Crunchyroll. I do. Not the company because their customer service is terrible and they don’t communicate adequately when there are problems and that’s just the tip of the ice-berg of issues. But, they’ve made anime accessible in a way that no other streaming service has managed. Still, with the announcement they are upping their cost (not much but enough to make you wonder), it is probably time that they got called out on a few things and actually started trying to improve their service.

Now, I’m unlikely to get into the nitty-gritty of it all but Floating Into Bliss has a great video/transcript that looks at three of the big issues that need to be addressed. It isn’t a hostile attack but more a look at the series of events and decisions that sit behind a lot of what has happened with Crunchyroll and it does point out a need for change. If you didn’t catch this video and you are a Crunchyroll subscriber, you should definitely go check it out. And for those who aren’t inclined to watch videos, the script is there for you to read instead. Enjoy.

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Empty Promises Preceding Empty Actions

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Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 23 Review

I’ll give this episode its positives first, because to be honest I’m kind of at the point where I’m not sure if next season I’m going to continue with episode reviews or whether I’ll just watch in batches of three or four episodes at a time and review once it is done. On the positive side, we finally got some action and significantly less exposition. The action was flashy and sparkly and suitably dynamic and all and all it kind of worked.

And there the positives end.

Cardinal - Sword Art Online Aliciztaion Episode 23

Cardinal makes the Administrator swear on her fluctlight that she’ll let the others go and then offers essentially to die. Administrator, agrees (as if anyone believes her) and then proceeds to blow Cardinal around the room with a bunch of flashy light and explosions ending with a limb flying off and Cardinal flopping onto the ground to be held by Kirito.

So, why didn’t the Administrator just kill her?

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 23 - Eugeo are you...

Oh I know, this is meant to be showing us how cruel Administrator is by playing with Cardinal. Also how over-confident etc, etc. But mostly it is just making her look like a complete idiot because what it does is gives the Cardinal a chance for one more program.

Then we have the whole sword automaton thing that is apparently made up of three hundred people somehow drawn from the memories of the inegrity knights (okay, that part lost me a little, but it had to do with the shiny little crystals in the roof).

Sparkly Ceiling - Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 23

However, if I thought the Cardinal was dumb for trying to make deals with the Administrator, and then I thought the Administrator was dumb for not just actually killing her, then Eugeo gets the prize for most idiotic decision making of the episode.

Cause, you know, turning into a sword and flying around is going to fix everything.

Eugeo - Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 23
The imagery was also somewhat less than subtle.

What’s tragic is Eugeo’s one sword, I’m guessing because he chose and accepted it, took out the core of the 300 sword thing. Which just kind of makes you wonder if maybe they couldn’t have figured out a better way to do that.

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Then he turns his attention to the Administrator and attacks her. Admittedly, he does land a blow and injures her but the end result is one dead Eugeo.

I kind of feel like this series threw his character well and truly under a bus. Giving Kirito and off-sider and a male companion was actually kind of novel but mostly he’s just been used by the plot over and over again and now they’ve split him in two and dropped him bleeding on the floor. I’m just not convinced that this was a particularly compelling character arc and given how idiotic his actions were here I’m not even particularly upset that he met his end.

Eugeo Sword - Sword Art Alicization Episode 23

Kirito also has Asuna flashbacks as Alice gets in-between him and the Administrator and that is apparently what triggers him into action. Not Cardinal’s death. Not Eugeo choosing to turn into a sword, which no one did anything to stop. Not Eugeo subsequently fighting alone as a sword before being cut down. Not Eugeo dying. But a flash back of Asuna jumping between Kirito and Heathcliff from Aincrad. That gets him moving.

I like the Aincrad arc a lot, but really?

More importantly, unless Kirito has some program destroying move in mind he’s still going to lose. And if he does have a program destroying move in mind, Eugeo’s death was worse than idiotic, it is pointless.

Sigh.

Really wondering what is supposed to be appealing about the current state of the story because I’m just not getting it.

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