Days Episode 21

Review:

The game from last week continues and we see both sides make some mistakes and we also get to see the team’s first years struggle to deal with the pressure of suddenly being forced into a high pressure game. At the centre though is Tsukamoto who has finally genuinely found a love of the game and not just of being included as part of the team. For once we see him playing with a smile on his face and not crumbling under the pressure or fear of letting the team down. This is a fantastic step forward for his character and it was great fun to watch. I also liked the commentary from the characters who’ve been sidelined in this match. All and all, a fun episode in this series but nothing really amazing. Of course ending the episode with a ball flying toward the goal but not knowing if it lands or not is just kind of annoying. We’re 21 episodes in, we don’t need bait to come back next week.

Days is available on Crunchyroll.

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Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 9

Review:

Finally a second witch shows up and finally Izetta gets an actual taste of defeat. It would be nice if this meant that some of her naiveté will now wear off and she will actually deal with the reality of being pretty much the only line of defence for a country at war. Of course, only next episode will tell us what they will actually do with this development. My only complaint about this episode is the white witch and the fact that she’s clearly a psycho. We get it, you were betrayed and the legend they tell has been given a nice happy ending that didn’t exist. However, introducing a second witch who just wants to burn down the kingdom Izetta wants to save isn’t exactly the most innovative or interesting thing they could have done and possibly it would be nice to see a bit more to this new character’s personality than revenge against the descendants of people who did her wrong.

Izetta is available on Crunchyroll.

Bloodivores Episode 9

Review:

“If you’re not with me than you’re against me.” Okay, not exactly what orange haired guy who is overly strong said, but close enough to capture the sentiment because why not have two separate factions of inmates fighting it out for no reason while being trapped in a possible parallel dimension with exploding collars while being hunted by monsters? Why not?

Right, reviewing this episode. Stuff happened. Mi Liu and shirtless guy caught up with the other group of prisoners, exchanged words with ex-childhood friend who is certainly going to go back to their group at some point (or die pointlessly, either way) and then met with the leader of said group. After a bit of pleasantries were exchanged such as Mi Liu asking for weapons, orange haired guy asked Mi Liu to join him which Mi Liu refused without actually knowing what orange haired guy is up to (though clearly he’s shady so maybe that was the right choice). This results in a quick and fairly pointless action sequence which then shows us Mi Liu is still pretty quick at running away.

All of that is fine enough. Pacing and delivery need work and it would help if I cared about some of these characters but it works. The real issues come with the other side of the story where Anji is witnessing Lee Shin’s power awakening. Just making wind whirls doesn’t equal cool action sequence and how would you even use a sword that pushed its way out of your shoulder? The idea was fine once again but the delivery dreadful stealing any tension from the scene.

Bloodivores is available on Crunchyroll.

Tuesday’s Top 5: Characters that are not all there.

Okay, anime is full of zany, quirky characters but every now and then we come across a character who you just have to wonder what is going on inside their head (if anything). There characters can be fun and amusing or they can be completely annoying but they usually leave a fairly lasting impression. For the most part I’ve tried to avoid genuinely insane characters (or characters that have a mental illness where it is being treated seriously) or master mind villains because they fall into a category all of their own.

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

Honourable mentions Sylphy (Amagi Brilliant Park), Isaac and Miria (Baccano), Cassandra (Black Blood Brothers), Barry the Chopper (Full Metal Alchemist), Seo (Gekkan Shojo Nozaki-kun) and Hajime (Hamatora).

Number 5: The Colourless King from K

While at first he seems like the mastermind behind the violence between the Kings and it feels like he might have fallen into the villain category, once we get more time with the Colourless King it becomes clear that this is a very unhinged character. What we don’t ever find out is whether or not they were unhinged prior to taking on the personalities of all the people he had taken over or whether he had slowly become that way. Whichever way, this character (brief though their appearance is) definitely manages to steal the show with their multiple personality monologue. That said, this character while unhinged is still very effective at working through their plan and very nearly succeeded at achieving their goals.

Number 4: Schokolade from Jormungand

Sometimes I don’t know if she is effective and actually smarter than she looks or if she is just a food and money obsessed ditz. In a show about arms dealers and government organisations, Schokolade is decidedly a small time character working under other people (or being bribed by them). While it is clear she is being used, it is also clear that she seems to be enjoying herself and usually come out of the situation with what she wants. I have no idea how this character survived through this story though.

Number 3: Karuta Roromiya from Inu X Boku SS

Karuta is another food obsessed girl and she is one spacey character. It is difficult to know what she is thinking but as Watanuki points out, she always knows what she is doing even if the rest of us don’t get it. Besides, how can we hate someone who helps small animals, likes to eat, and can transform into a giant skeleton if push comes to shove?

Number 2: Ladd Russo from Baccano

While he is definitely a villain he isn’t a crazy evil genius. Ladd is just… obsessed with violence? An egomaniac? Completely disconnected from reality? It’s hard to know but a character who chooses to wear white in order to show the blood better definitely deserves a mention as someone who isn’t all there. And Ladd is such an upbeat murderer. That said, other than hunting the thrill of violence and death, his motives remain totally in the dark as does any reason for his warped personality. I wasn’t even a little upset when he was beaten and had to abandon the train though his survival was a little regrettable.

Number 1: Grell Sutcliff from Black Butler

There’s not a lot you can really say about Grell except that he knows exactly who he is and he isn’t about to change. This is one flamboyant character who enjoys a good fight as much as a good flirt (though in Sebastian’s case Grell would love to go beyond flirting). Grell’s favourite colour is red and he personifies the fiery and diverse nature of this colour from passion through to violence. That said, we know next to nothing about Grell’s real feelings beneath the antics and we know next to nothing about how Grell came to be how he is. This character marches to the beat of their own drum and it works.

So that’s the list this week. Who would you have put on yours?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiss Him, Not Me Episode 8

Review:

Just when I think I’m over the basic faults in Kiss Him, Not Me’s premise we get an episode like this. Nanashima essentially assaults Kae because he has ‘a fever’ and then apologizes profusely but Kae is a little bit traumatized (from both the kiss and the realisation she couldn’t stop him from holding her down). And then at the end he ‘saves’ her by beating up some overzealous fans and she decides that boys can be scary but very dependable. Um, did I miss something there? What sort of rationalisation is that?

Once again,  I know that depicting realistic relationships is not actually the job of a story but could we at least not reinforce messages that allow culturally entrenched domestic abuse to be perpetuated. That would be nice.

Now, if I remove my personal distaste for this overall message this week, the episode is neither better nor worse than any other. That said, one more episode like this and I will finally toss this show into the dropped pile. There’s only so much air-headed girl getting pursued by guys who actually don’t know her as a person or particularly care about the person I can take and if we’re going to start excusing assault I think I’m going to have to pull the plug.

Kiss Him, Not Me is available on Crunchyroll.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 8

Review:

This was a really good episode and it felt like we hit a turning point for the series as we head toward the end. That said, I am about to reveal some critical information from the episode so if you haven’t watched it yet you may want to go do that first.

Really, really impressed with the truth revealed about the Bookmaker. It was one idea I’d considered but I’d half dismissed it and just assumed he would either be another player in the game or really just a sadist who genuinely enjoyed messing with others. The reality that he was a LRIG and is now in a human body gives his characterisation so much more reason as well as his genuine disdain for people. This part of the episode was by far the best though I think Chinatsu’s decision not to hand in Shou’s contract was also kind of interesting as it gave her a small amount of redeemability (probably not an actual word really) as a character. The weakest part of the episode was the declaration that Suzuko is stronger or changed which came through Hanna and then Hanna’s LRIG directly stating it. We don’t actually see much of a difference in Suzuko herself. Definitely a case of telling over showing so I kind of hope next week gives Suzuko some screen time so she can in fact reinforce the fact that she’s come somewhere as a character.

All and all, WIXOSS has continued to be an entertaining trip and as long as it all comes together this could be a fairly strong series.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS is available on Crunchyroll.

Bungo Stray Dogs Episode 21

Review:

Things picked up again this week (no whale and no Atsushi really helped) and we saw an attempt at making an alliance with the Port Mafia by the Agency. What I like about this is that both sides know they are going to cooperate because they are kind of just used to one another and neither of them like the interlopers, but they also know they don’t want to admit that so are posturing like crazy. However, posturing aside, Chuuya shows up just as Dazai knew he would when Dazai walked into the Guild’s trap to retrieve Q (who seems to mysteriously disappear during the battle at the end of this episode but whatever). Chuuya is awesome in this week’s fight and we see exactly why Chuuya and Dazai worked as partners. It’s over the top and crazy but they may have finally actually killed someone (who knows, he may turn out to just be injured like everyone else yet). It’s a fun episode and has the right mix of comedy and drama to keep you engaged and the chemistry between Chuuya and Dazai as they banter and then team up to battle is fantastic to watch.

Also, I love how Dazai just casually slips this comment to Kunikida during the opening sequence.

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Bungo Stray Dogs is available on Crunchyroll.

 

Alderamin on the Sky Series Review

Overview:

Alderamin on the Sky follows Ikta Solork, a fairly lazy and apathetic young man, who unfortunately finds himself forced into joining his country’s military along with his childhood friend.

I reviewed this series week to week so if you are after individual episode thoughts click here.

Review:

For those who followed my episode to episode reviews (or checked out my Summer rankings each week) it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I really enjoyed and quite strongly recommend Alderamin as a series. It isn’t perfect by any means and it isn’t exactly the most mind-blowing thing you’ll ever watch, but it is an interesting military fantasy with a cast that give reasonably consistent performances and tell a story in a decent fashion.

This may not seem like a glowing recommendation but when it comes to fantasy, anything that can settle itself down long enough to get the fundamentals of story telling right without tripping themselves up with how clever they are and how amazing some mystical thingy is, kind of stands out. Even taken out of the fantasy genre, Alderamin delivers a solid piece of story telling even if it never quite rises to being all that exciting.

I will put a language warning on this anime. Normally I wouldn’t bother (given most shows that use this kind of language are pretty obvious about it) but given the generally nice nature of the show and the characters some of the sexually explicit language that comes out at times (and a little bit of swearing) seems to come out of left field. It isn’t intrusive and not excessive, but it definitely makes its presence felt so if that isn’t your thing then perhaps you should pass.

Because of this I’m going to do a plus/minus format for the review.

Plus +

Ikta and Yattori as main characters are brilliant (and not just because we keep getting told Ikta is meant to be brilliant). The chemistry between them as long term friends feels genuine and more importantly, it is needed for the plot to work. Ikta might be a brilliant strategist but without knowing his resources and what they can do, he would have failed far more often than he did. More importantly, because the two characters know each other so well, they can take action knowing someone will have their back and this allows them to take risks that progress the story. Honestly, if nothing else in this story worked, the relationship between these two would be more than enough to keep me watching. I kind of lived in fear that they’d try to make it romantic but we were fortunately spared that particular development.

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Minus –

The Princess Chamille and most of the military officers we meet throughout the course of the anime are pretty flat as characters. While Ikta’s core group get some development and a few minor soldiers and lower officers get some opportunities to show that they are people, the higher officers and the Princess get one note personalities. Fortunately they don’t appear all that often so it isn’t enough to ruin the viewing but it makes you wonder how the entire Kingdom hadn’t already fallen apart with some of the morons that were in charge.

Plus +

While some might find the pacing a problem, I quite enjoyed the way this shows breaks down. There are 2 – 3 episodes given to each of the minor conflicts as we progress to the final retreat that Ikta is put in charge of. This gives them time to set up a situation, have some piece of wisdom revealed, a little bit of character development and interaction, before we charge into another inevitable battle (well, it is a military fantasy). I didn’t mind this method of pacing out the story and felt it worked quite well with the subject matter – then again, I also enjoyed the weird strategy narration from Lord Marksman and Vanadis so maybe my record with military fantasy anime is questionable. Basically, the show steps this up from an escape, to a military exercise, to a field conflict where they have the upper hand, to a field conflict where they don’t have the upper hand, to a full on retreat. At each stage forcing Ikta to work that little bit harder for his victory (even if by victory we mean successful retreat). From a reality point of view it is laughable but from the point of view of escalating a situation in order to push a character it works very well.

Minus –

Lengthy explanations. This is a problem in any show where the main character is supposed to be smart. The writer’s feel the need to have them explain their reasoning (ad nauseum) to a range of other characters and they inevitably don’t come off looking as smart as they would if they just kind of did what they needed to do. I don’t know about you, but I do not stand around telling people my entire thought process before I make a decision. I will walk people through the final reasoning, but all the steps along the way get cut out because nobody wants to listen to it. For a show that mostly had clever character interactions, I’d really love to go back through it and hack out almost every one of Ikta’s strategy explanations.

Plus +

It’s kind of pretty. Okay, it doesn’t rise to the wow factor of something like No Game, No Life in terms of striking world building, but I actually found myself enjoying the scenery and character designs while watching this. The visuals match the story. They do what they need to do and they don’t bother trying to clutter up the issue or disguise flaws by dangling pretty colours in our faces. I’ll echo that point for the music. It works but it isn’t trying to steal the show.

Minus –

For a fantasy, the world building is probably the weakest component. We get a basic idea of the main ideologies and set-ups of the main powers in the world but there are a million unaddressed questions in this series (like what is actually with the character’s spirit companion things). While these don’t get in the way of you understanding the plot, they leave the world feeling a little incomplete. That said, incomplete is probably better than weighed down with excess detail at the expense of character or story development.

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As I said at the start, I really enjoyed Alderamin on the Sky and I’d really like to see more of this story but it brought things to a fairly natural conclusion and the narration has told us where this story plans to go so even if we never see any more of this world or these characters we can call it a day with sufficient closure. My recommendation is to watch this anime. If you like any kind of fantasy or if you just want an anime that tells a pretty straight forward story, Alderamin is well worth the time.

 

In Case You Missed It

Here we are again at the start of another week. It’s an interesting time of the season as many people are in full blown speculation mode about where the shows this season are going and discussion about various scenes in shows have really taken off. Here is a collection of posts that caught my eye this week, as always feel free to add a link to any posts you felt were interesting (preferably anime, gaming or manga focussed).

Animeindianphilosopher has posted a poem (?) called I Hate Anime. If you haven’t read it you should check it out.

Bobble Anime has a great discussion about Magical Girl Raising Project (Eps 1 – 8). I’m still trying to decide if I will ever go back and watch more of this show. I’m interested in some of the things people have said have happened but I just remember how dull those first couple of episodes were. Still, discussions like this one keep me interested.

The Mind of the Hybrid One has a very positive review of My Hero Academia.If you’ve been under a rock and not come across this anime already you should check out this write up of it and then go watch the anime.

Dominic Cuthbert on Little anime Blog reviews Full Metal Alchemist and why is is such a fan favourite.

Dad Watches Anime compares evil from Madoka Magica with Supernatural this week and now my head hurts from trying to figure out who from that line up was more evil. It’s a great post that will get you thinking.

Raven on Golden Realist looks at how communication devices have changed in anime in a post called The Times They Are A Changin’. It’s an interesting look at how we’ve progressed (in anime) from letters to smart phones and all the steps in-between.

Mechanical Anime Reviews examines how Iron Blooded Orphans is similar and different to other Gundam shows. It is worth a read and it makes it clear why Iron Blooded Orphans might be a way into this franchise if you’ve never really given it a go.

Mel in Anime Land reviews Psychic Detective Yakumo. I was excited to see this because so few people ever mention this anime. If you like supernatural stories or mysteries well worth checking out.

Hot Chocolate in a Bowl continues to give us some excellent information about ice skating to complement the events we are seeing in Yuri on Ice. That’s part of what I love about the anime community is that there are so many people who are willing to share information that will enhance or change your viewing experience. Anyway, its a great post and answers a lot of questions about the specifics of the competition itself.

Mako-Tachi also looks at Yuri on Ice but examines it as a sexual coming of age story. This is a great post if you want to look back at Yuri’s transition as a character so far in this series. Well worth checking out.

Lethargic Ramblings also gave me the best laugh this week with their guide on How to Become an Elitist. They do point out at the end of the post that it was supposed to be a satire, and I kind of worry that they needed to explain that because I can’t imagine reading and taking the post seriously as anything other than satire, but I guess that’s the internet for you. Anyway, if you want a good laugh this is definitely a post to check out.

And lastly, Scott on Mechanical Anime Reviews put together his Anime Presidential Cabinet. It’s a fun look at how various characters would fair in various cabinet roles and is well worth a read if you have the time and are in the mood for a laugh as well as a break from real world politics.

That’s all from me this week, I know it’s a bit light on but what I’ve noticed is when I read blogs and I’m tired, even if I enjoy the post I forget to record the link and then it is forever forgotten in the vastness of the internet. This week I’ve been really tired and next week is not looking much better.

Flip Flappers Episode 8

Review:

Flip Flappers this week takes us to a futuristic city full of lights, giant birds, robot battles and a very short man who apparently created the city.Visually it is stunning as usual but from a story point of view all we see is Yayaka moving further away from her core purpose because of her genuine affection for Cocona (no matter how much she tries to pretend otherwise). I can’t help but think that Yayaka is walking a very fine line and will soon find herself either in real trouble with her group or thrown away. Other than this we really just see Cocona and Papika do their usual run around and let their emotions guide their actions. Somehow Cocona has recovered from her fear of changing things. We know this because she says so. And that’s it. There’s no real build up to this fairly major shift from the previous episode where she was nearly paralysed at the thought of change. Apparently hanging out with Papika has just done it. Still wondering what the end game of all of this is going to be but still entertained enough to keep going.

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Flip Flappers is available on AnimeLab.