Voice of Fox Episode 1: Curiosity

Voice of Fox Episode 1

I have to admit I was curious when I read the description of this one on MAL and then the date it was said to come out came and went and I just assumed nothing I used was going to get it and moved on. Then an episode popped up on Crunchyroll. I’m kind of glad it did because while I was curious about it, I probably wouldn’t have tracked it down after the season was over so watching Voice of Fox now is probably the only way I would have ever seen it.

Voice of Fox Episode 1

I caught zero character names during this first episode but I was still pretty fascinated by the characters. Sure they do that annoying thing where they start with the protagonist at some terrible moment before we go back to see how they get there but that is swiftly forgotten as the fairly solid OP starts and we begin to get a look at the characters in the actual beginning.

Voice of Fox Episode 1

Let me just say, for 13 minutes, this first episode packs in a lot and there is almost no direct narration or exposition to get ideas across. Instead, we see the characters in action, whether that is singing, washing dishes, tripping security staff or whatever else they are doing and it all paints a picture of who these characters are and their role in the story to come. Admittedly, they do hit us with exposition at the end of the episode, but still this was a fairly solid effort and I was pretty caught up in the story.

Voice of Fox Episode 1

While I can’t say I’m totally hooked on any of the characters given I can’t even remember their names, I really liked the set up, I took the hook with the whole ‘this message started everything’ melodrama, and so far the music has been really great. I’m going to stick with this one for a bit and see how it goes.


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Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 2 Manga Review: Expanding The World

Natsume’s magical journey continues in this second volume of the manga. This time around we have new characters, new friends and new partings. All of it feeds into the overall feeling that is Natsume’s Book of Friends which is one of pure bliss and reading this volume was a fantastic experience.

Like volume 1, we are given four stand alone stories that are connected through the growth we see in Natsume. Still, you can easily pick up any one of these stories as a one off and truly enjoy the experience. And, not going to lie, volume 2 introduces my very favourite character of the series so I was super excited to read it.

One thing I really noticed while reading this is that the yokai always seem to appear larger than life and more rich and detailed than the human characters. It really helps distinguish the yokai, even the human looking Hinoe seems more detailed and comes to life in a way the human characters can’t match while reading.

The other thing I noticed in this volume was how often butterflies are associated with Natsume. While butterflies have a lot of different meanings, they are closely associated with metamorphosis and transformation which is kind of what the whole story of Natsume is built around so I kind of liked that particular detail.

Okay, let’s look at each of the stories.

Chapter Five: The Spook in the Old Schoolhouse

This was never one of my favourite stories in the anime, even though haunted school house sounds like it should be great fun. The story is well told as Natsume and his class mates attempt a test of courage and are attacked by a yokai who has pretty much fallen into evil because he’s more or less had enough of how humans have treated him. It is an interesting exploration of how monsters are sometimes made rather than born, but it still doesn’t make for the most interesting of story when compared to some of Natsume’s tales.

I was surprised at the conclusion of the story where a character leaves. This is quite different from the anime and where there had been differences in the previous stories, these were more cosmetic whereas this character leaving has some implications for future stories being considerably different to how I remember them from the anime.

Natsume2b

All and all, this was a decent chapter and did what it needed to do. The spooky atmosphere is well portrayed though the chapter ends up being quite dark (visually) because of the sheer amount of shading and the like.

Chapter Six: Natsume Summons a Yokai

Natsume Summons a Yokai is a great story. It is easy to forget in some of the stories that Natsume is facing regular life-threatening danger. The slice of life tone of the series kind of down plays that aspect. Stories like this one remind us clearly of the risks Natsume faces in being able to see yokai and after encountering a particularly nasty one he ends up cursed and being pursued by a shadow that intends to eat him.

As a result, Natsume uses the Book of Friends to summon Misuzu who ultimately send Hinoe to his aid. This is the first time we’ve really seen Natsume actively use the book to reach out for help and it is great to see him growing in what he can do even if he doesn’t really wish to use the book this way.

Natsume2c

We also get to meet Hinoe who was a blast in the anime and comes across just as interesting on paper. She’s a great supporting cast member who in the anime showed up in many stories so I was really excited to see her enter the story here.

The other thing thing story does is really puts Natsume into that difficult place where he has to lie to the Fujiwaras which is something he doesn’t like doing but he feels he can’t tell them the truth. That conflict guides a lot of Natsume’s actions and just makes this story feel a bit more believable than some where kids just go and save the world without their parents wondering why they didn’t come home that night.

Chapter Seven: He Can See

It’s Natori!

Okay, I was really excited to get to this chapter and to read the story of Natsume’s meeting with Natori and this did not disappoint. I actually feel Natori is a little more morally ambiguous in the way he’s presented in the manga than in the anime and I loved it. The conflict between Natori wanting to exorcise yokai and Natsume seeking a more peaceful solution is well played here.

Natsume2d

However, this story has far wider implications with Natsume getting his first glimpse of humans who can and do interact with yokai. With the introduction of exorcists so many possibilities have been opened up for future stories and I know from watching the anime that these are among my favourite adventures with Natsume so I really look forward to reading more of these later.

Chapter Eight: Asagi’s Lute

To end this volume we get another case of yokai possession, though this time the yokai possessing Natsume didn’t really want to. Her friend put her spirit inside Natsume in order to fulfil her last wish and Natsume is now stuck helping to find the materials to build a lute so that she can play one last time.

This story works very hard to humanise the yokai and their feelings of loss, regret, love and friendship and helping Natsume to see that they have dreams and goals just as humans do. Otherwise, the story is pretty standard for Natsume and while there are some hints of danger along the way, for the most part this is just a case of yokai passing through Natsume’s life and leaving a small change in him in their wake. It is a great way for the volume to end and it consolidates the changes we’ve seen in Natsume already over these first two volumes.

Natsume2e

But, we’re going to have to keep going so volume 3 review coming soon.

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Run With The Wind Episode 3: As The Wind Blows

Run With The Wind Episode 3

The story progresses and our intrepid potential marathon runners are now being coerced into training. Okay, that’s a lie. Some of them are coerced and others are now actually on board with the idea though their enthusiasm waxes and wanes with the promise of girls and how long ago they finished running. That said, Haiji is still a character I can’t stand and while I get he is a necessary plot driving force, if he happened to get side-swiped by a car while running I probably wouldn’t shed many tears.

Run With The Wind Episode 3

Fortunately, the very solid execution of this show continues with some really solid animation and some really great incremental character development for the rest of the cast. They are becoming more and more likeable and interesting (with the exception of Haiji) and I genuinely enjoyed spending time with them as this episode essentially rinsed and repeated waking up for morning running training with a few diversions as characters tried to get out of it or took a trip to the bath house.

Run With The Wind Episode 3

I’m kind of hoping next episode just gets Kakeru’s dark/tragic back story over with though because like some of the other characters I’m at the point where his attitude doesn’t make sense. If you don’t want to run move out. More importantly, if the whole point is that the team isn’t good enough to qualify, doesn’t that work out better for him because it means the farce will be over long before the main event.

Run With The Wind Episode 3

Still, despite my nitpicking and personal dislike of a main character, this is a very solid anime and one that from these early episodes is a contender for one of the better anime of the season. That said, it probably won’t top my list because it will extend into next season and because while I really do appreciate what this anime is doing so far, I’m having more fun with some other titles that may not be quite as polished but for me at least are a little more light and entertaining.

Honestly, if you were waiting to see which shows were worth picking up this season, I’d have to say this one is so far pretty solid.

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The Girl in Twilight Episode 3: She’ll Never Become Chocolate Banana?

The Girl in Twilight Episode 3

I kind of decided early in this episode I really don’t like Nana as a character. Despite her turning point this episode she just really rubbed me the wrong way early on in this episode and her inconsistencies and incredibly silly decision making just made me hope that somehow she’d be left behind in the parallel world.

The Girl in Twilight Episode 3 - Nana

Firstly we get the ridiculousness of her deciding to stay in the world because she’s getting married to a hot celebrity. That’s a really random decision to stay in a world that forces girls to get married at seventeen and you have no idea what else is changed in this new world, plus you are giving up your entire world and friends that you actually know. Then she changes her mind because she finds out his real last name when combined with her first name makes it sound like chocolate banana and she vowed she would never marry someone who made her name sound sillier than it was (how shallow is she).

The Girl in Twilight Episode 3

However, if that wasn’t enough we then learn that the step-father is actually a pretty nice guy who saved Nana’s crystal radio from the rubbish when he first moved in with them and is actually trying to protect her. So her hissy fit last week is even less warranted. We also learn that Nana’s stubborn refusal to join the radio club is just more childish actions on her part.

The Girl in Twilight Episode 3

Despite everything I just said about disliking Nana as a character, this episode was a decided step up from last week. It isn’t just that we got a cool fight sequence in which Nana, the girl of the hour, got a transformation sequence. It is just more intrigue into this whole idea of what twilight is and the ‘King of Twilight’ that not-Asuka is trying to find (though part of me wonders if there is a King of Twilight or if the Twilight world itself is sentient which would be a cool twist but hard to fight.

The Girl in Twilight Episode 3

Anyway, I enjoyed this episode well enough but it seems this anime is going to be a rolling case of some moments that really work and others that make me want to bang my head into the key-board. Inconsistencies aside, there are some good ideas at play here.

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FIGMA NO. 392 POKEMON: LIVELY LILLIE

Assassination Classroom Season 1 and 2 Series Review: Every Experience Can Teach Us Something

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

This post definitely needed some updating given it had some awful formatting with the images, a writing style that didn’t flow in the slightest, and mostly I was just never happy with it. Time for an update.

Review:

Assassination Classroom is one of those odd anime that has a heavy comedy focus and yet for whatever reason I still ended up really enjoying it. Season 1 isn’t without it’s issues as the basic formula of focus on a student with a problem, have something really weird happen usually during an attempt to assassinate the teacher, and then have the teacher sit down and help the student learn something ends up getting a little bit repetitive. That said, there’s a vibrant energy and enthusiasm here that kind of takes this basic model and makes it engaging. Very much in the way that the first two seasons of My Hero Academia use the basic shonen model but inject so much hype and enthusiasm into it that it just ends up being great fun.

karma

If you don’t know what the series is about, it is a very basic premise. The students of class E are the lowest in their school and essentially banished to an off-campus building for their lessons as an example to the rest of the students. Enter the new teacher who has decided not to give up on these students who have all but given up on themselves. Only, the new teacher is a yellow octopus looking thing who is also responsible for blowing up the moon. That and the government have also offered the students a lot of money if they succeed at killing him. With the teacher having promised not to hurt the students and the students out for blood, zaniness kind of ensures.

And it works. It works so incredibly well. The plot never becomes overly complicated. We learn more about the teacher and why the moon blew up and why he needs to be assassinated, but there are no random twists or cluttering up of the core plot. The students need to assassinate the essentially unkillable teacher. It never feels the need to bite off more than it can chew and keep the premise and plot really that simple.

Nagisa

The second season looks more at the motivation and reasons and gives us the necessary back story for this plot to make sense, but by then we are ready for it and even though the pace slows down a bit during this part, it ultimately feel very rewarding. Okay, I will admit the going into space sequence for some of the students was a little bit of a reach, but this plot was always larger than life in how it approached things so while it might seem ridiculous, it just kind of fits with the rest of the story at that point.

Where it manages to make this shine though is in the characters. Yes, the cast is huge with the entirety of class E at various points getting a focus, but the core cast are incredibly strong and enjoyable (I’m not going to say actually likeable because some of them are not supposed to be liked). They also grow in real and believable ways through the two seasons in response to what they have experienced. It makes watching what might feel like a fairly repetitive series of events actually feel purposeful as each time the students learn more about themselves and get closer to success.

Karma

Also, Assassination Classroom has Karma who is one of my all time favourite characters. If I could change anything about this series it would be more Karma (and yes I know that would stuff up their pacing and the characterisation of the other class members but I would deal with that for more Karma). I’m totally standing by this even two years on from my original review. More Karma. He makes everything better.

It also just transitions from laugh out loud humour to incredible action sequences to decent dramatic tension and it does it fairly effortlessly (or at least it looks that way). What might have ended up a bit of a mess of opposing ideas and tones ends up integrating into a whole that is just a unique and fun experience.

Assassination43

This show gave me some of the best laughs I’ve ever had (which given I’m not normally into comedy is surprising and yet even on rewatches this show still makes me laugh out loud). Ritsu showering the class with flowers, Professor Bitch’s first attempt at killing Kuro Sensei and then getting dressed in a sports uniform, Nagisa getting dressed up like a girl to be the girl’s protection (even though they didn’t need it and even he knows that it was entirely pointless), the pudding assassination attempt, and toward the end the Valentine confessions. Plus there are some great one-liners between the students or teachers that just make you laugh.

Okay, the show also reduced me to tears at the end but that’s another story.

Oh, and I almost forgot Nagisa’s notebook of Kuro Sensei’s flaws. Some of these weak points are hilarious and seeing these weaknesses being exploited during the students’ assassination attempts is hilarious.

Assassination 44

However, it isn’t just making you laugh. When the characters get injured I found myself leaning forward and waiting for them to get back up. When Kuro Sensei was preaching I wanted to whack him one. When they nearly succeeded at the assassination at the end of season 1 I was just as devastated as they were that they failed. And when the second last episode aired I was completely blown away. Very few anime hit me like that.

That isn’t to say the series isn’t without it’s flaws. The number of characters means that only a few are developed and that is a little disappointing. The first season falls into a bit of a teacher helps student of the week pattern, however this is kind of needed for us to develop an understanding of the class, but it is a little repetitive until they move on to planning their assassination. The government allowing this set up to occur is questionable but we can suspend disbelief on that one. And the weapons don’t hurt people? Seriously. Anything can hurt someone if you hit them hard enough with it.

However, ultimately what set this anime as one of my all time favourites is that it didn’t blink at the end. The plot is resolved in the way it needs to be and while it might be heart breaking and slow and incredibly melodramatic it is exactly what this show needed to finish off with. I give it a million points for commitment to concept with that ending (and right there is great evidence that I should not use numerical scoring systems).

assassination

And I completely missed the fact that the music is fantastic. The OP’s for Assassination Classroom set the tone perfectly getting you fired up for the episode. They also really help in the early episodes with learning the students’ names. Definitely not to be skipped.

If you haven’t watched Assassination Classroom, I fully recommend giving it a try. It might not work for you, but it is certainly a bit whacky, a bit different, and at least you know it does definitely end.


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ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM ORIGINAL SOUNTRACK

Space Battleship Tiramisu Zwei Episode 3: Yakisoba and Co-op Heroes

Space Battleship Tiramisu Zwei Episode 3

Once again, Space Battleship Tiramisu proves itself baffling in the way it handles plot. It is almost as if it can’t handle having a plot or a direction for too long and after an episode or even half an episode it literally jettisons whatever thought process was being followed to throw something random in before the characters just seem to forget what was happening before (not entirely but enough that any tension that might ever have been constructed is instantly eroded). And thus it is that Isuzu holding the father hostage lasts until some random delivery guy shows up, proves he can also operate the Neo Durandel and Isuzu decides he’s had enough and runs away.

Space Battleship Tiramisu Zwei Episode 3

But it doesn’t make any sense. Isuzu was the only one who seemed to have a weapon or a team in place so he should have been able to either take the new machine or destroy it even if he couldn’t use it. And yet he just abandoned his plan and ran laving his enemies and their new shiny weapon perfectly in-tact. While I’m not asking for much in the way of logic from a show that featured a talking pubic hair in season one I’d at least like the characters to occasionally at least act in their own best interest.

Space Battleship Tiramisu Zwei Episode 3

Then, instead of looking at the massive security breach that has seemingly just occurred, Subaru and his father get on with testing the Neo Durandel and apparently some universe sense is awakening in Subaru. Let’s be real, the guy is just hopeless and yet somehow manages to occasionally win in space. But I did appreciate the use of yakisoba preparation as a means of testing deft handling of the Durandel and the image of Subaru drifting around surrounded by floating noodles was kind of amusing.

Space Battleship Tiramisu Zwei Episode 3

As always, this anime remains watchable enough with the occasional spark of really solid narrative and humour and then there’s everything else. Fortunately with short episodes that everything else doesn’t overstay its welcome.

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That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 3: Submissive Wolves and Buff Goblins

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 3 - Goblin

You know, if I’d seen this a long time ago I’d probably be totally in love with it. But as it is, I just can’t help but feeling like just making the main character a little bluer and bouncier than the standard isekai protagonist isn’t quite enough of a distinguishing point. From a plot point of view it still feels like we’re very much in an introductory phase as our protagonist still knows very little about the world, something which isn’t aided by the fact that he doesn’t ask sensible questions. When asked if he was sure he should be giving everyone a name all at once he simply said he didn’t see a problem. Why wouldn’t you ask why the other guy was concerned? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 3

None of that is saying this show isn’t fun enough. My issue is it is very middle of the road. Some of the humour sticks and some of the action is kind of cool, okay the swift end to the leader of the dire wolves was very cool, but there’s a lot of very forgettable scenes as well and at the end of three episodes if I had to sum up this story it would be ‘bouncy blue slime thing eats stuff and makes friends with monsters’ which admittedly doesn’t sound too bad but also isn’t making me desperate to see what happen next.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 3

Partially this is because there’s still no real indication that the story is going anywhere and while it is fine to focus on character exploration rather than having some urgent mission from the get go, I’d probably need to care more about the character for that kind of thing to work. As it is, I’m not overly concerned about Rimuru and now that the goblins and dire-wolves are teamed up, evolved and commanded to play nice with other species, I’m not overly concerned for their well-being either.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 3

So while yes this will be pleasant enough viewing, unless the story takes a sudden turn after we get through the introductions I’m really not thinking that this one is going to end up in my top picks for the season. It is watchable, it isn’t doing anything overly wrong, last season I’d have been thrilled to watch it given how little there was on my watch list, but this season it is getting overshadowed quite a bit by other shows I’m more interested in.

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime With Blood and Gore

Yes, we have more Halloween list fun this week as I count down my five favourite anime that have a lot of blood and/or gore. Now I had to think long and hard about my pre-requisite for something ending up on this list because just most amount of gross out moments didn’t seem like a great criteria. So instead I decided to go with anime that use blood and gore the best as part of the narrative rather than for the shock factor. That said, it is my list so I’d love to know what you would include on yours.

Please note, there will be spoilers below. And while it should go without saying given the list title, a lot of the images will be disturbing if you do not like blood and gore. 

Honourable mentions: Tokyo Ghoul and Attack on Titan, both provide blood and gore aplenty but it always feels more sensationalist than necessary.

Number 5: Higurashi

Higurashi

Cute kids who turn into psychos and kill their friends, in sometimes truly horrifying ways. This anime really does push the boundaries with a young cast that are subjected to torture, dismemberment, and generally just misery and death. Despite the young age of the cast it doesn’t really hold back on showing the deaths seemingly relishing in each and every failed attempt to break free from the time loop. This one definitely earns a spot on the list even if it isn’t quite as graphic as some of the others.

Number 4: Elfen Lied

Elfen1

I almost just made this an honourable mention given a lot of the blood and flying body parts could definitely be seen as just an attempt to shock the audience. Still, the story does rely heavily on human fear of the unknown and of fear of the monster, and Lucy delivers both as she walks her way through a mass of armed guards leaving nothing but blood in her wake. After the opening the blood keeps coming but it is certainly diminished after the anime has set its scene.

Number 3: Another

Another

While more about atmosphere and creepiness than blood, there’s something even more shocking about the moments of pure gore this anime delivers because of the slow build to them. Very few people forget the umbrella on the stair case incident and the teacher suicide in the classroom is a truly unsettling and disturbing visual that isn’t leaving me any time soon. As these deaths are the result of the curse the class is under the violence and shocking nature of these events are actually kind of necessary because otherwise the kids wouldn’t be half so desperate to undo the curse.

Number 2: Devilman Crybaby

Devilman

Want a break from simply dripping and splashing blood around the screen? Devilman Crybaby delivers true body horror with some truly violent and gory sequences that will leave you feeling fairly unsettled. As much as I didn’t really get into the story or characters of Devilman Crybaby, I have to admit that if you are after a genuine round of body horror with a lot of gore thrown in, this anime is going to deliver provided you don’t also mind a lot of sexualised content mixed in with that.

Number 1: Pupa

pupa2

This one wins again (as it previously in 2016 on anime I recommended for Halloween). This is one graphic and disturbing short anime that will definitely get under your skin as a younger sister, infected with a virus, will feed by eating the flesh of her still living older brother (also infected but fast healing). This is blood, gore and a whole lot of shudder inducing imagery and definitely not for the faint hearted. Also, not for anyone who wants a conclusion because you’ll be left wanting.

And there we have it, my top 5 list of anime that use blood and/or gore. As always, feel free to share your list in the comments below.


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ARTFX J TOKYO GHOUL:RE 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: TOUKA KIRISHIMA

Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San Episode 2: Too Many Books In The Book Store

Skull-face bookseller Honda-San Episode 2

This week the focus is on introducing the rest of the cast and they do this by having endless deliveries of stock to be sold prior to a holiday period. For those who enjoy the idea of watching staff running around trying to stock book-shelves it works quite well however there isn’t a lot else going on. The over-reactions of the characters certainly help carry this sequence but as it lasts for the majority of the episode you have to wonder if they weren’t driving the only real ‘joke’ into the ground.

Honda2a

That said, this anime is also informative about the different genres and about the other materials that sometimes come out with books as well as release dates so there is a little bit of insight buried under the absurd masks each of the characters is wearing (and no, I refuse to ask why).

Honda2c

Despite that, this episode is pleasant enough eleven minutes, though it does bring back fears of perhaps being crushed to death under a pile of books at some point (a legitimate fear that people who own too many books genuinely have). This remains watchable though not exceptional and I’m thinking that’s probably where we’re going to remain for the rest of the season.

Honda2d

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Episode 1: Just Your Everyday Book Store


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GADGETRY SHIROW MIWA DESIGN ARCHIVES