Tales of Zestiria the X Episode 8

Review:

And then we got another dragon fight? Okay, we introduced some new characters and realised that Sorey is completely idealistic and they set up some new dark thing for our characters to confront next week but mostly this episode has us watching a dragon fly around and various characters discussing whether it should (or can) be killed, purified or left alone. Visually this dragon fight was actually better than the previous one, though it was probably aided a great deal by the fog that permeated every scene where the dragon was flying. It was a fun enough episode but it didn’t really move the story along any further so we’ll see what next week brings. I do get the feeling I’m going to like Edna.

Tales of Zestiria is available on AnimeLab.

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Days Episode 9

Review:

The final game is on and we finally get to see some of the better players actually playing well. That said, that’s about all we get other than a few flashbacks and a heartfelt message that was kind of obvious from the get go. There’s also some good rivalry between the teams. It isn’t that one team is full of jerks tearing down our favourites, it’s that both teams are competitive and in it to win.

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It’s a reasonable episode but without the outcome of the game clear, it really is just marking time. Looking forward to what happens next week with the team though.

Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Orange Episode 9

Review:

While this episode is an improvement on last week the show is very much stretching things out as far as they can go. Kakeru and Naho still aren’t ‘dating’, just walking home together, giving each other significant looks and becoming unreasonably jealous when other people interact with the other. Naho’s friends are completely ‘supporting’ her but I’m pretty sure most of what they do this episode is what normal people would consider intrusive meddling. I don’t think this episode is any worse than any of the earlier ones but I do think my patience has run thin which is making it all a little harder to deal with. They either need to move forward or something new has to happen other than the two main characters awkwardly circling one another.

Orange is available on Crunchyroll.

Top 5 Tuesday: Nice Guys/Girls in Anime

I know it’s weird but this is probably the hardest list I’ve tried to write so far. I was thinking how easy it would be to come up with the top 5 nice characters but then I started thinking what about… and the list just never ended. Finally I’ve whittled it down to my 5 favourite nice guys and girls.

My criteria for the final list was simple. They had to be nice and pivotal to the plot. The couldn’t be nice even while other characters walked over them (so they had to have some sort of backbone) but they mostly liked to get on with others. Also, they had to be in an anime where the main characteristic of the cast wasn’t nice. So Shirayuki and the like were ruled out pretty much instantly. See what you think and add any characters you’d like in the comments below.

Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned.

Honourable mentions this week are going to a lot of characters because they got axed from the final list. Kazari Uiharu (A Certain Scientific Railgun), Sakakibara Kouichi (Another), Yuri Makita (Ao Haru Ride), Naoya Touhara (Astarotte no Omoucha), Tohru Honda (Fruits Basket), Chiho (The Devil is a Part Timer), and lastly Kukuri Yukizome (K).

Number 5: Shiemi Moriyama (Ao No Exorcist)

There’s not a lot to say about Shiemi. She’s an adorable character and she just wants to make friends with all the other exorcists. The reason she isn’t higher up the list is because she is a little bit of a doormat at times and it takes a lot for her to assert herself, though she does improve throughout the series. Fittingly, her summoned spirit thing allows her to grow plants that she mostly uses for healing purposes which more than once makes her invaluable to the team.

Number 4: Hak (Akatsuki no Yona)

This one was probably an odd choice because I’m thinking that most people don’t automatically use the adjective nice to describe Hak. However, my view is he is an incredibly nice character. He’s the older brother/friend who looks after Yona and she knows that he’ll have her back even when she blows up at him. More importantly, early on Hak respects Yona’s choice even when he is clearly in love with her (or maybe that’s just my view). He could have been a lot more intrusive but instead other than some gentle teasing, he kind of stays out of her way (until she needs some serious rescuing). I think he’s an incredibly nice character toward his friends and particularly Yona, but I’m guessing his enemies will not see that side of him.

Number 3: Mimiko Katsuragi (Black Blood Brothers)

Mimiko kind of gets dragged around a lot during Black Blood Brothers and she works really hard for Jiro and his brother to help them get to the Special Zone and to help them get established there. She’s an incredibly nice person, but she is definitely not a door mat. At every stage of the journey she puts forward her views and at times openly challenges Jiro and his opinions. She’s probably the most balanced character I’ve included on this list.

Number 2: Aberline (Black Butler)

In an anime where every character is more or less morally suspect, Aberline and his desire to make a safer London really does stand apart from the rest of the cast. Of course, his nicer nature made it inevitable that he would give us one of the more tragic moments of the series and the futility of his gesture just made it all the more heart-breaking. Aberline is a great character. He has his convictions and a desire born from his own life experience and yet he reaches out to Ciel as he sees that Ciel has definitely lost his way in all the corruption. Nice guy, tragic end.

Number 1: Jacuzzi Splot (Baccano)

A nice guy looking out for his friends in a world of gangsters? Jacuzzi had to be my number 1 pick (though it was hard even choosing him from amongst the cast of Baccano because a number of our ‘gangsters’ were deceptively nice). He is completely devoted to his friends and ensuring their safety, would love to avoid violence if at all possible, seems like a complete coward but definitely knows when it is time to stand up and be counted. And he doesn’t do that half way. Even the story behind his tattoo is completely adorable.

So, which nice characters have I missed? Who should be on the list?

 

 

 

Momokuri Episodes 17 + 18

Review:

Dating clichés continue with a visit to the amusement park. That said, this was a particularly cute episode. I love how the characters are all becoming slightly more aware of each other and themselves so it doesn’t feel like we are just treading over the same ground all the time. They may be slow to catch on, but they are catching on. All and all though, Momotsuki and Kurihara are close to becoming the cutest anime couple I’ve ever seen. Not my favourite couple and certainly not my favourite romance anime, but they are kind of adorable together. How many other anime characters can pull off the ‘my hair is stuck in your button’ routine without your eyes rolling clear out of your head?

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Momokuri is available on Crunchyroll.

Food Wars Season 2 Episode 9

Review:

Back we go to the kitchen only now the roof opens and we can see the moon. So different. And there are three people cooking. Completely different from every other match. Except that it isn’t. The show fails to raise the stakes or the tension in this finals match. More importantly, all three characters cooking are so arrogant in their opening remarks that you more  or less want all three to fail and then you wonder what would happen if all of the dishes were dreadful. Would there still be a winner? The reaction shots to eating the food were also fairly subdued compared to those we’ve seen previously. And Soma? You don’t get a do over with your dish. Serve it complete or don’t, but this after credits tag on kind of makes things even worse. With that said, I’m kind of thinking that once a winner is declared I am probably going to be even less invested in this show than I currently am. So holding out for an episode was probably a good move.

One positive: The flashback of Alice and Ryo. That was pretty awesome.

Food Wars is available on Crunchyroll.

91 Days Episode 7.5

Review:

You know, Cheer Boys did the whole recap thing awhile back and I expressed my dislike of recap episodes that add nothing new then. At least when it did it, they added some narration and they were following a high point in the series. 91 Days follows the killing of Frate (which might have been emotionally interesting but is hardly a major plot progression) with a recap episode that literally gives us nothing new. It did however make me wonder why Avilio hasn’t changed his haircut throughout his entire life. That is the level of engagement I had with this episode. Now, 91 Days has put itself on the back foot because if the next episode doesn’t do something good, I am going to go from finding it interesting enough to being frustrated with it.

91 Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Erased Series Review

Overview:

Satoru has a strange ability to go back in time moments before a disaster. After his mother is murdered and he is made the main suspect he goes back 18 years to when he was a child and finds himself trying to prevent a series of kidnappings and murders from his childhood.

Review:

Erased is one of those anime that when it was airing everyone was talking about it. Some people loved it, some people thought it was overly hyped, and there were a few who really didn’t care but just got sick of hearing about it. Given it’s a murder mystery with a supernatural plot device (though that aspect of it never get’s developed or explained), I was kind of sold on the series from the get go.

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I’m going to keep this review short (or so I thought when I started but it kind of went on a bit) because most of what I’d like to say has already been covered a million times before and also,  and because it’s a mystery of sorts (though that aspect doesn’t work so great because you can pick the culprit one episode in after the time jump) so I don’t really want to spoil it for anyone who has avoided the internet for most of this year and somehow still managed to find my blog.

I’ve already said the mystery doesn’t work so well. The main issue is the lack of potential suspects. Plus, the story is told in a relatively straight forward fashion (strange for a time travel story) so it’s really easy to get a sense of where things are going and how they connect. That said, just because it isn’t really a guessing who the villain is kind of story, doesn’t make it bad. The plot works really well and the changes Satoru makes in order to overcome the past tragedy have sensible flow on consequences. Though, without any real mystery, the plot could be accused of being a little bit dull. Which is a weird thing to say about a time travel story with murders occurring both 18 years ago and in the present time setting.

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With Erased, it is the characters who sell the show. And even then you couldn’t point to anyone character and say that character is amazing. A lot of people liked Satoru’s mum but I found her one of the least interesting characters because she really didn’t seem like a realistic mother and was more a plot device that existed only to Satoru the advice he needed when he needed it, cause him distress with her death in the original timeline, and filled in any parts of the plot that you really couldn’t expect a child to succeed at overcoming. The friends Satoru has as a child are also a little off and at times serve no purpose. The first potential child victim is interesting but not overly believable as a character. However all of these characters complement each other perfectly and create a show that has a lot of heart and at times emotional depth. Even if they don’t shut up and like to endlessly articulate things that really don’t need to be said.

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The opening theme is fantastic. On my first watch I wondered what that up-beat song was doing on such a show, but like the cast of characters, there’s a surprising amount of depth when you listen to it and by the second watch through you realise just how perfectly the music is for the story and its themes. Erased is also beautiful. Whether we are focussing on a character or the night sky, everything is just really pleasant to look at and the animation works well.

I really enjoyed my first watch of Erased. So much so that I talked a friend into watching it with me about a week after it finished airing and we marathoned the series. This is where I think the plot really succeeds. If Erased had been a guess that bad guy kind of mystery where the reveal at the end was what brought all of the plot threads together, I don’t think a rewatch could have been very satisfying. However, as a character driven piece with a steady and well thought out plot, Erased can be watched again and I actually enjoyed it more the second time through, because I knew what to expect and wasn’t trying to watch it as a mystery.

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For people that might find endangering a child a bit confrontational, Erased probably isn’t their cup of tea. If you’ve been told it’s a murder mystery you may walk away disappointed. If you actually want to know why Satoru time travels and how that works, give up now. But if you want to see the power of the human spirit and friendship overcome what seems like an insurmountable obstacle and you don’t mind an overly talky ending, Erased will be a rather enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.

 

Hitorinoshita Episode 8

Review:

So from half-decent to watchable at best. There were some genuinely amusing moments this episode as Houhou infiltrated headquarters looking for Chou Soran but then we kept having to go back to Soran who spent most of the episode being an idiot. He did get to make one touching little monologue about Houhou which humanised him a little and then he got punched through a wall and spent the rest of the episode getting beat up but still being completely cocky. While this show remains watchable, that’s about the best recommendation I’m giving it. So many good ideas just getting buried under poor characterisation and execution.

Hitorinoshita is available on Crunchyroll.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 8

Review:

Continuing the battle in the mountains things take a turn for the worse this episode due to the inept command and lack of preparation for a battle that by all appearances the commanders instigated but weren’t ready for. While this helps to endear us further to the core group and to really feel for the plight of the soldiers, it also feels like something is lacking. The entire military cannot be made of idiots, regardless of Ikta’s personal views. The obvious trap set up early on in this episode takes some of the emotional punch out of the final scene but Alderamin continues to be a very solid show.

Alderamin on the Sky is available on Crunchyroll.