Tales of Zestiria The X Season 2 Episode 13

Review:

While this final episode is not bad when compared to the rest of the show, it was definitely hurt by the extended break between episode 12 and 13. The momentum (what little this show had) was definitely gone and it took me awhile to remember exactly where we’d left the characters and then I got to marvel all over again that they were really doing a power combine thing to win the final battle. Actually, what really hurts this episode is the game like nature of that battle.  The villain just stands there as they have a pep-talk, call the names, combine, Sorey falls to his knees, multiple times, before he’s finally able to stand, and the villain is still just standing there. Worse, the villain then gets his own power up and Sorey just stands there while it happens.

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After the battle things get better, but even then the show can’t commit to actually having Sorey’s sacrifice mean something and post credits be prepared for everything to be smiley happy, even if that makes no sense given the nature of what they were facing. I’ll review the full series of this soon, but not particularly impressed with season 2 of this.

Tales of Zestiria the X is available on AnimeLab.


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Spring 2017 Week 4

Pretty sure the watch list is set at this point. There’s a handful of shows that I’m still kind of thinking about dropping even though we’ve past the three episode point. I guess it really depends when they push me past being just kind of bored with them into disliking them. The rest of the shows I am most likely going to finish. Though with 8 shows as either Must Watch or Usually Entertaining I’m really enjoying Spring so far. That said, with writing anniversary posts, some of the shows I watch on Sunday haven’t been watched yet or updated on this list. Will fix that for next week. How are you enjoying the Spring season?

As always, I would love to know your thoughts on the shows this season so please leave a comment below.

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Must Watch

Natsume Yuujinchou 6 (Episode 3)

Natsume continues to be its usual self and was just the fun and relaxing watch I needed this week. Still no complaints about how this season has started as it is very much what I would have expected going into yet another season of Natsume.

Kado: The Right Answer (Episode 4)

After saying this show was not in any kind of a rush, episode 4 felt like it was speeding along nicely. Events are fully in motion (I guess you can’t offer humanity infinite energy and have them just sitting around). This story continues to be fairly intriguing and quite clever, though it is still very dialogue driven and there is quite a heavy political focus at times.

The Eccentric Family Season 2 (Episode 3)

Benten is back! Okay, that statement alone would probably be enough to keep me going another week with this as a must watch regardless of how scattered or absent any kind of overall plot has been so far. Throw into the mix Nidaime’s very cool personality and to be honest I’m pretty happy to forget about the Tanuki and focus on those two for awhile. Still, it will be interesting to see what Yasaburo chooses for his next move after all of this.

Attack on Titan Season 2 (Episode 4)

Okay, it took 4 episodes but Attack on Titan is getting better each week. The slow start to this season is paying off as more and more pieces are coming together and the show is finding its pacing and tone. I really enjoyed episode 3 and episode 4 was better. Hoping this can maintain for the remainder of the season. Plus, the opening song is finally growing on me.

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Usually Entertaining

My Hero Academia Season 2 (Episode 18)

The kids have gone all out with their quirks during the second part of the cavalry battle and, despite the lack of danger being faced, they managed to build some real tension in those final moments. Again, this season continues to be entertaining and enjoyable even if it is also fairly predictable.

Sagrada Reset (Episode 4)

Episode 4 was somewhat less satisfying and has given me some concerns about the intended future of this show. There’s still a lot to think about in terms of what it is doing and where it is going, but for the first time, this show felt like it was rushing to get information out to the audience and as a result it all just felt kind of messy.

WorldEnd (Episode 3)

Much better third episode. After the weak second entry I was kind of fearing that I’d have to drop this show down. While the first episode was great without a decent follow up that’s all it would be, a great first episode. Third episode put some of those fears to rest by dealing fairly decently with the characters and pushing the story along a bit. Hopefully this show can continue to build from this beginning.

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor (Episode 4)

Akashic Records has finally moved from Okay to Usually Entertaining and other than the entirety of episode 1 and Glenn as a character, the rest of this show is quite entertaining (and even Glenn has his moments, I just personally have issues with him). Kind of looking forward to how the rest of this show plays out and still wondering what they have in mind for an end game.

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Okay, I Guess

The Royal Tutor (Episode 4)

Last week I said that I wasn’t really interested in this show, but episode 4 finally feels like we’ve past the introductions and I did find myself quite enjoying this episode. It still isn’t really my kind of thing, but it has its own appeal and this week I found quite a few sweet or funny moments to enjoy. Unless it takes a serious nose dive in quality, this one may end up in the usually entertaining category because even though it really isn’t my thing, it is working hard to win me over.

Granblue Fantasy (Episode 4)

Last week I said, “There’s no reason for me to drop this but little reason to recommend it”. I’m just going to leave that as my description of the show at this point. It is working well enough but it isn’t exactly great.

The Laughing Salesman (Episode 4)

This has pretty much settled here. It is okay to watch and fun while its on but it isn’t exactly blowing me away with any particular element. It is 20 minutes each week I will enjoy and then I’ll probably forget about it until the next week.

Grimoire of Zero (Episode 3)

It didn’t get any worse this week, and as an individual episode the third one was probably the most interesting. However, the world and overall plot of this story remain pretty flat and as I am only passingly interested in the characters there really isn’t a lot of appeal in this show. Still sounds like it should be far more interesting than it is.

Alice & Zoroku (Episode 4)

I realised that at this point I don’t care about this show or its characters. There’s a tiny part of me still vaguely curious about where they are going with this whole dreams of Alice thing which is why I haven’t dropped this, but I’m not emotionally invested in the slightest. This realisation came as I watched twenty minutes of a young girl being treated cruelly after being kidnapped and not once did I care about whether she was rescued or not. I legitimately felt nothing for her plight. This one may not survive the whole season because usually this level of detachment comes right before I start making excuses to avoid watching the next episode.

The Silver Guardian (Episode 4)

This finally clawed its way out of the ‘They Made This’ category as it finally looks like they are actually going to tell the story they promised us at the start of episode 1. All and all, episode 4 was a pretty interesting episode (not great by any means but compared to episodes 2 and 3 it was pretty good). If the show actually builds from there it might even become passably entertaining.

Sword Oratoria (Episode 3)

Sword Oratoria is dangerously close to hitting the ‘They Made This’ category, because really, why did they make this? They’ve given us no new perspective on Ais, there’s no actual plot being constructed yet, the events that have been retold have been less satisfying from the new viewpoint, and even if we ignore that this is a spin off and simply view it as an entirely new show, it is still flat and uninteresting. The couple of seconds of entertainment that you gain from seeing Bell or hearing a line from the original show, does not make up for the rest of the episode.

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They Made This

Nothing at the moment that I’m watching.

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Tried and Dropped

Tsukigakirei (Episode 2)

Eromanga Sensei (Episode 2)

Armed Girls Machiavellism (Episode 2)

Sakura Quest (Episode 1)

Love Tyrant (Episode 1)

Clockwork Planet (Episode 1)

And now the shows have made their initial impressions and are pushing on with their stories. Which plot has you most interested this season?


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Sagrada Reset Episode 4

Review:

I’ve got nothing. While the reveals this episode don’t really completely destroy my working theories from after episode 3, they don’t add any support to them and some of the reveals make it seem like this show is a little more about plot convenience then about making a cohesive mystery. Though, that isn’t saying it couldn’t be doing both but episode 4 was certainly full of more coincidences and throw away lines of explanation than I would have liked.

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I’m going to have to do a feature on Kei at some point. His character is really asking to be dissected (probably not literally). Whichever, episode 4 solves the whole cat mystery, finds the MacGuffin (actually literally) though does nothing with it, reveals a few points of information but doesn’t give us any closer look at what the overall plot might be. It annoys me that I’m as hooked on this show as I am given the ongoing issues with its overall pacing and presentation, but I am definitely still hooked at this point.

Sagrada Reset is available on AnimeLab.


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Kuromukuro Series Review

Overview:

Kennosuke is a samurai who lived 450 years ago when ogres attacked his home and killed/kidnapped his Princess. Trapped in some sort of suspended animation, he is woken when the ‘ogres’ return and finds the world is a very different place.

Review (there’s a few spoilers):

I haven’t watched a lot of anime on Netflix, mostly because there isn’t very much available in Australia, and most of what is there is already available on other services. Still, I’ve tried a few now of the Netflix originals and for the most part found them watchable, bingeable even, but not overly remarkable. Kuromukuro doesn’t do much to buck the trend there.

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In all seriousness, I actually finished a watch of this series in very quick order and then had to go back and rewatch bits for the purpose of review. Mostly because what this story does right is keeps you wanting more at the end of each episode. Things are happening. The plot continues to drive forward. It doesn’t matter that it is predictable and gimmicky, it just keeps driving onward and you get to the end credits and you are jumping straight into the next episode because anything else just seems silly.

I was going to review season 1 and season 2 separately (given Netflix so nicely insists they are 2 different seasons and labels them as such) but given episode 13 (final episode of season 1) ended with one of the main characters getting run through with a sword and being critically injured and that’s where it ended I kind of just kept watching. Even though I knew that’s why they did and even though it annoys me when stories pull those cheap emotional stunts to make you wait for the next episode or season. This show got away with it not annoying me because all of season 2 was already sitting there but if I’d had to wait 6 or 12 months there’s a good chance I’d have never gone back to it.

So other than my petty dislike of being overtly manipulated as a viewer, what works in this show and what doesn’t? Let’s go for a plus/minus approach.

Plus +

The cast works really well. Okay, every character is actually a walking archetype at various times but they also get small moments where they get to be real humans even if only momentarily, and there are enough cast members that none of them really hang around long enough to get too painful. I liked the dynamics of Yukina’s family, I liked her group of school friends, I liked the UN office workers and researchers, and I liked the soldiers. They all just kind of did what they needed to do. Are any of these characters going to make my favourite ever list? Not a chance, they are pretty forgettable. But, within the context of the story they are in they work remarkably well.

Plus, I really enjoyed the romance element that came into it later on. It was kind of clear from the start they were going to go there, but it was actually kind of sweet when that part of the story got moving.

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Minus –

The villains are all but cape wearing, cackling clichés. And no, they aren’t quite that bad but they get close at times. Initially one of the ‘ogres’ gets killed by Ken and then they said another, single warrior against him. Then they have this weird honour thing where they can’t return if they don’t win and they like one on one battles (though using puppets to pin your enemy down apparently doesn’t count as cheating). It’s all kind of depressing because it reminds me of Beryl’s minions in the 1990’s Sailor Moon and the main villain is about as useful as Beryl really. Turns out he isn’t the actual big bad because he’s also just a cog in the works of a much grander plan. Whichever way, there wasn’t really much satisfaction to be found from overcoming these villains because they were pretty much basic plot points derived from other stories and they weren’t particularly interesting. The only ‘villain’ who gets some points is the clone of Princess Yuki and that’s only because it ties in nicely with Ken’s story and Yukina.

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Plus +

While the fights are not using the smoothest animation ever, they actually give you a feeling of speed and you feel some real concern for the pilots at times (even though it becomes obvious fairly early on that this show isn’t interested in permanently knocking off any of its main cast even when they deserve it). As a result, the fights are pretty fun to watch even once the outcome becomes inevitable.

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Minus –

How many clichés can you pack into a single show? While this show probably isn’t the worst offender ever for this, some of these just felt so unnecessarily tacked on. We had the pool scene, because high school right, and yes the transfer student who is actually a 450 year old samurai, and the school festival of course, the overlooked love interest, the cosplaying best friend, the useless female teacher (hate that one), the teenage mecha pilots, the hot springs trip, the doppelgänger, the 450 year old machine that still somehow works perfectly, the internet obsessed guy, and so on. While some of these were used well within the context of this narrative, others, as I said, felt really unnecessary and like they existed just because the writers were told to make an anime so they did. Clichés aren’t always bad, but some of these just weren’t needed.

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Plus +

I kind of like how this ends. Yeah, there’s still plenty of story out there but it really feels like they brought things to a close. Particularly given the five year time jump (which doesn’t seem like enough given the changes but we had a dialogue line of explanation on that one) which gave us insight into what everyone had done and was doing and really gave the series a sense of closure. Such a rare feeling with anime.

Minus –

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Okay, this one is a minus I don’t normally point out or worry about and most people won’t care, but I found the sub-titles to not be great on this one. I’m aware subs don’t always direct translate and the people who sub things think about the intended meaning and flow and all sorts of other things (or at least if they are good they do, some terrible subs just direct translate everything whether it makes sense in English or not). However, there were a few instances in this where I had to wonder if the sub-title was making it less clear what the intended meaning had been. My Japanese isn’t great so I usually assume that the subs are closer than what I’ve translated and the problem is on my end, but there were a few times where I actually went back and re-listened because what I was reading was definitely not conveying the idea the same way I’d heard it. Again, the problem could definitely be on my end but it was a distraction from my viewing.

Mostly, this is a lot of fun, but there’s not a lot of depth and nothing much to take away from it. If you want to watch some giant robots smash each other with samurai swords, and a vaguely moralistic message about the general nature of human beings and organisations (and if you want aliens, ogres, and nanomachines thrown into the mix) then you’ll probably have a great time watching this. If you’re wanting something that requires a bit more thinking than maybe look elsewhere. Definitely a popcorn viewing anime but not memorable.


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Hunter x Hunter Episodes 34 + 35

Review Episode 34:

Why is it when Killua says not to worry, I start to worry? Still, the events this episode were not unexpected and I kind of wondered why coercion to fight hadn’t come up earlier. Essentially, Gon’s 2 months of non-training have come to an end and now he and Killua are apparently determined to set speed records for learning everything because amazingly enough being the protagonist means you just can. While I appreciate we aren’t stuck here for months in training it’s a little ridiculous. Though, Killua’s solution in the end was somewhat more peaceful than I expected.

Review Episode 35:

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Okay, peaceful may not have been the best way to describe Killua’s solution. It was, however, effective. From that little game Gon and Killua now each have three wins and Hisoka has finally told Gon that he can pick the time for their fight. I’m not sure if that’s actually an achievement or not.

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And given some of the things happening in this arena in all the fights why on earth is the commentator bothering to say something is unbelievable at this point?

The only real negative here is the fights are getting a little samey and I’m kind of hoping we move away from the arena soon because as cute as Gon and Killua are I’m not a big fan of arena matches in any anime.


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WorldEnd Episode 3

Review:

With the exception of one scene early on where there’s an intentionally misleading comment about Willem sleeping with one of the girls, this episode actually dialed the fan-service moments way back down and instead finally turned its attention to Willem.

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He’s a decidedly level headed individual really first looking through old records and then assisting in teaching a better way to use the magic sword thing (Dug weapon or whatever they want to call it – though it was very cool when he was putting on the light show with it at the end). We learn a tiny bit more about how a supposedly extinct member of the human race is still wandering around but other than answering how he managed to still be around 500 years after they lost the war, we still know little about his actual life. The episode ends with the girls heading off for what should have been a life-ending mission however there’s a chance they’ll survive now (and thank goodness we were spared the training montage).

I really enjoyed this episode. Things moved along nicely, we got the information we needed, a few touching moments, a couple of smiles, and some actual character development. You can’t really ask for more in a show like this.

WorldEnd is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Royal Tutor Episode 4

Review:

While the first three episodes of this were fine in their own way, and probably quite enjoyable if the style of comedy is more your thing, I honestly felt I could stop watching this show at any time and be perfectly fine with that. At the end of episode 4, I had a smile on my face and kind of wished the next episode was available which left me wondering why it had more of an impact.

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I think it mostly came down to the fact that this episode didn’t feel like yet more character introductions and the interactions between the Princes, the Tutor, and the people in town all felt a little bit more natural than some of the stilted interactions we’d seen as they clamoured to give us the necessary information about each player in this story. Whichever way, I quite enjoyed following the Princes on their trip into town and the end of this episode is just sweet.

The Royal Tutor is available on Crunchyroll.


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