Girls’ Last Tour Episode 4: Is This A God?

Review:

The low key entertainment continues this episode with the girls continuing their journey to the bright building. As a diversion they have the camera they received last episode to play with and so they begin to look a little bit more like tourists.

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However, survival is never far from their minds as the consider the situation knowing that they can take pictures that will last forever but their food will only last another thirty days (7 if they leave Yuuri in charge of it). There’s a constant balancing act in this show as it really looks at survival in this very harsh world, but also humanizes the girls and makes them fairly cute at times as they act just like kids when it comes to the camera.

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Eventually they get to the temple and not so subtly discuss the notion of religion and the after life. While it works, it actually seems kind of like a let down after the build up to arriving at the bright building. The best moment in this sequence comes when Yuuri asks Chito if maybe she’s a god.

This continues to be a very fun watch. The slow pace kind of perfectly fits the emptiness of the world we are exploring with the girls and even when nothing is really happening the banter between the girls remains charming.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Moments That Make Me Flinch

So Halloween today and this year I have put together a top 5 list of anime moments that make me flinch. I am not a squeamish person by nature and when it is happening in anime, I’m even less likely to flinch because anime characters don’t look like real people, and yet there are some scenes that have managed it over the years. Last year my Halloween list looked at 5 anime titles with a great atmosphere that you should watch for Halloween. If you missed it or are new to my blog, I still stand by those choices as excellent viewing for Halloween so please check out the post.

I’m going to avoid being too graphic in the images below, but fair warning that these are moments that make a horror fan flinch so if you are not into that sort of thing, maybe skip this list and try one of my other top 5’s.

Please Note – There are spoilers below. You have been warned. Also, graphic visual warning for people who don’t like blood.

Honourable mentions to Pupa (it should have taken out every spot on this list so I disqualified it), Shiki (the moment Megumi slides out from under the bed), and Tokyo Ghoul (Kaneki being tortured).

Number 5: The teacher suicide in Another

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No, I’m not going to show you the suicide. Watch the show or google it if you are interested. There are even gifs.

This moment actually shocked me cold. Another is atmospheric and nicely put together but ultimately it isn’t scary because it is incredibly standard in terms of the horror it presents. The girl with the umbrella shocked viewers because it was kind of the first real sign things were going to turn ugly but otherwise there’s nothing overly exceptional about it and without the curse would have been an accident. This on the other hand… The teacher walked into the room and killed himself in front of his class. Curse or not, if the teacher had a death wish there was no reason to bring it into the classroom. From a narrative point of view it would have made no difference if the Principal had come to the room and informed the students that the teacher had been found dead. I just kept thinking how traumatic this would be for any class of students, let alone a class of already very scared and traumatized teens. No wonder they all went crazy by the end.

Number 4: Everyone is dead in Owari No Seraph

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While Another shocked me with how unexpected it was, Owari was incredibly painful because of how telegraphed it was. You knew these kids only existed to die tragically more or less from the get-go and that they made it so close before being toyed with by an incredibly vicious vampire just hurts to watch. No points for originality having cute kid characters killed off for dramatic and emotional affect, but just because it isn’t original does not make it any less affective.

Number 3: Gassed in Btooom

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This one really just gets a ‘gross’ kind of comment. It wasn’t that this death from episode 7 was any more flinch worthy than any of the other deaths from bombs and craziness in this show (it is a show about a death game being played out on an island so really you get what you sign up for). Still, visually that was a little sickening and I probably could have happily gone without seeing that.

Number 2: Kei’s torture in Ajin

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There’s something about this scene that is seriously sickening. We’re told early in Ajin that the Ajin are used for medical experiments and we’ve seen some grainy video evidence for that. So, it isn’t a surprise that this is happening. What gets me is just how clinical everyone is about what they are doing. You are killing a child over and over again for no reason other than to satisfy your own curiosity. There is literally no other reason for this as they don’t seem to actually be learning anything of significance from this. All and all, this scene genuinely makes my skin crawl just thinking about it and that some of the scene is shown from Kei’s perspective (so inside those bandages with some visibility but not enough and hearing all the tools those doctors are preparing) just makes it worse.

Number 1: Delete in D Gray Man

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No matter how many times I watch episode 56 of D Gray Man I am always going to flinch and I am always going to end up crying for Allen. After everything he went through in the episodes leading up to this, trying to rescue Suman, failing but then recovering Suman’s innocence, this encounter with Tyki is all kinds of cruel. First his arm (and his innocence – so only weapon to fight back with) are destroyed (a feat Tyki may have pulled off anyway but given Allen was already on the brink of exhaustion he really didn’t have much chance). Then, once Allen realises he’s going to die, he sends Timcampy away with Suman’s innocence to protect it, but that leaves Allen completely alone and facing his own death. Then Tyki sets the scene for a truly painful and slow death because he’s Tyki.

This episode is gut-wrenching and emotionally shattering to watch and even tops out the episode where Allen’s eye was taken out by Road (because that was all kinds of gross). So yeah, if I’m talking moments in anime that make me flinch, nothing is ever going to beat this one. Yes, there are far bloodier deaths out there, but the emotional attachment I already had with Allen and then the really cruel way this scene is set up just crushes you. The fact that you know they aren’t actually going to leave the protagonist of the story dead doesn’t actually make this less difficult to watch.

So there you have it for Halloween. My top 5 moments that make me flinch. I’d love you to share some of your flinch worthy anime moments in the comments below.


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Dies Irae Episode 3: I’m Lost

Review:

To be honest, I have no idea what is going on at this point. I get the bit where Fuji is linked somehow to the guillotine girl and for some reason she possessed his childhood friend and then Fuji somehow calmed her down and took her back. Somehow. And that’s the bit that kind of makes sense. All but his arm being split in two and then not. That doesn’t make sense even if she was using his power because he hadn’t stopped it at that point and he did in fact have his arm slice in two.

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However, literally everything else in this show is just…

Some crazy people threatening Fuji. Crazy people watching Fuji. Crazy people making speeches that contain a whole bunch of random phrases that may ultimately mean anything or might have just been thrown in because someone thought they sounded cool. The bottom line is, there’s absolutely no way for the audience of this show to have a clue what is going on because there has been zip in the way of a coherent explanation.

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So blood, bodies, bridge explosions, shouting, tears, and all sorts of things to grab our attention and yes, this show has my attention. However, unless they have the most brilliant tie everything together moment ever, this show is going to remain a completely unsatisfying mess.


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March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 25: Packing an Emotional Punch

Review:

Not really a surprise to those who read my review of season 1, but this show really does take its audience on an emotional roller coaster and this week, while objectively the episode was no better or worse than any other, this week it hit me hard. Partly this is because I’m in a fairly fragile emotional state anyway at the moment due to a bunch of things going on with my work, and partly it is because I kind of care deeply for Rei’s character at this point. Either way, I kind of ended up in tears after this episode. I did feel a bit better though so maybe it was exactly what I needed.

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Basically this episode starts as benignly as humanly possible with Smith and Issa being complete idiots over a pair of large shoes at the shogi hall. It was kind of cute and more importantly it recapped previous events without actually making us watch them again, so that was kind of nice.

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We transition to Rei and Nikaidou eating lunch together. Well, food is getting eaten but mostly what is happening is Nikaidou is verbally dissecting Rei’s character and motivations much to the amusement and bemusement of the others eating at the time. However, it does once again drive home the point that as much as Rei keeps reflecting on himself, he still doesn’t really understand what he really wants. The fact that Nikaidou can see straight through him is an endless source of embarrassment but Nikaidou is a needed character because as much as he annoys Rei, his insight is sometimes exactly what Rei needs to hear to change his line of thinking.

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From there however we start rolling into a downward spiral emotionally. Again, benign introduction with Rei buying bread from a bakery the sisters have recommended and eating in a park before his match. And then… then he sees a bush. That bush triggers a memory from his childhood and before we know it we are deep inside Rei’s thoughts as he sees how all of those events, the choices he made, the choices thrust upon him, the misunderstandings, the confusion, have all shaped him into the person he is right now and pushed him onto the path he is now following. The problem is, and as we saw in episode 23 (first episode of the second season), Rei isn’t even sure it somewhere he wants to be. He plays Shogi but he can’t even answer a simple question of whether he likes it or not. And without Shogi he has no understanding of who he would be.

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And then the magic of this show kicked in and I started thinking about the events that have led me to the events of the last four weeks at work and start wondering where I could have possibly gotten off this path so that I wouldn’t have had to go through that. And whether I actually wanted to avoid it at all or whether it was a needed thing to experience on the path to something else. And that’s more or less where I finally had the emotional released I’d needed for quite a number of weeks and had a good cry. That doesn’t fix anything but my head was much clearer after the fact.

As a final kick to the teeth we then have Rei visiting the sisters when Hina shows up in quite the state. Of course we’ll have to next week to find out what is happening there but it does not look good.

I love this story so much at this point. It doesn’t do things with fanfares and it isn’t going to take the world by storm, but for me this story is one I need to watch at this point. I need to see where Rei’s journey will take him.


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In Case You Missed It

Another incredibly tough week in the real world but a great week watching anime – other than the issues I’ve been having with playing videos on Crunchyroll. Also some interesting posts from bloggers and as usual I’ve collected some of my favourites below. If you want to give a shout out to a post, please feel free to leave a link in the comments.

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If you haven’t tried it yet Kapodaco has a great write up of the first three episodes of Girls’ Last Tour that really nails why you should check it out (assuming you have access). I must admit, I’ve been continually surprised by how compelling they manage to make a story about two girls driving around on a tank and this post really highlights why it has worked so far.

Mr Flawfinder asks do anime fans care whether an anime has long lasting appeal which they follow with an interesting discussion about seasonal viewing and how discussion dies quickly and there are very few anime that regularly get discussed after the fact, though merchandise and cosplay are slghtly longer lasting. It is an interesting point and one to think about. Small warning about the language in the final paragraph of the post (it isn’t that bad but warning anyway) but this is a great post to read.

Anime Girls NYC asks us which character we’d like to give their own series to. They suggest a couple of characters they’d like to see get their own spin-off or prequel series before opening the question to the readers and some of the suggestions are pretty interesting. So head on over and leave a comment with your own suggestion of a character who deserves their own series.

Moe Sucks has a fairly blunt review of episode three of Land of the Lustrous. While many people, including myself, have really enjoyed it so far, this review points out some of the issues with the characterisation so far and why it might be less than thrilling for some viewers. They do reveal the end of the episode so if you haven’t seen it, maybe hold off on reading this one, but it is a great post for a different perspective on the show.

Literary Stardust discusses Clever Protagonists using examples from My Hero Academia. Just in case you needed another reason to jump on board with My Hero Academia this is a great post that looks into one aspect of the characters of the show that does feel a bit different. The characters here aren’t just wishing for more power, they are actively learning to use their powers in more effective and diverse ways. It is a very interesting read.

Merlin’s Musings has a review of Shiki that I found thoroughly enjoyable to read as it reminded me how much I enjoy that series. There are some spoilers in the review but it does an excellent job of selling the show.

Anime and Fandom Life share their thoughts on a character they adore, Youko Nakiajima. They do an excellent job explaining why they like this character so much and it was just a joy to read because you could really feel the enthusiasm.

Just a Whole Lot Of Weird looks at the meaning of Deku’s name in My Hero Academia. It is an interesting post looking at how Midoriya has evolved as a character and how the once derisive nickname became a name he chose. For those feeling the absence of My Hero Academia now that the second season has ended, check out the post.

From Lethargic Ramblings a post about why they love the isekai genre.  The title pretty much says it all so be sure to check out this post if you missed it.

Moe Sucks shares their thoughts on Just Because episode 4 and does an excellent job deconstructing the characters and their motives in the final part of the episode. Clearly spoilers abound for people who have not watched the episode, but it is an excellent post to check out and read if you are watching the anime.

Pick of the Week

I reblogged this post earlier in the week, but for those who missed it Irina over at I Drink and Watch Anime is working to promote new aniblogs to try to welcome new bloggers into the community and just make the whole starting blogging a little less scary. Every month Irina is hoping to promote a new ani-blogger through their Blogwarming Party and I think it is a great idea. Please spread the word or if you come across a new blog that would benefit from a little extra attention, direct them Irina’s way.


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Kino’s Journey Episode 4: We Can Fix It

Review:

At first I thought it was odd that this episode had Shizu as the main character visiting the country (Kino doesn’t appear until much later in the episode, though you kind of know they are going to show up and it isn’t much of a surprise when they finally do run into each other). However, given the nature of the story, it kind of made sense.

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Shizu isn’t passive or willing to take the not-my-problem approach to injustice that Kino seems to adopt at times and sets about investigating the Ship Country before deciding he needs to fix the problem. It is very reminiscent of shows like Stargate where they encounter a culture and then try to convince them they are wrong because their actions don’t agree with whatever personal philosophy the character has decided on for the week. So Shizu decides to confront those in charge.

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After trying for a peaceful solution, he straps on his sword and off he goes to be the hero before running smack into Kino, who being Kino is operating strictly under their own self-interest. Of course Kino chose to stay in the tower rather than become a worker. And of course Kino doesn’t care about the workers. But, when the tower decides to change the ship’s direction upsetting Kino’s travel plans… Suddenly Kino’s self-interest is in-line with Shizu’s. Probably just as well for Shizu. Nice guy but not the brightest bulb in terms of self-preservation or even social studies really.

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Yet, the end is fairly predictable. The people ‘saved’ didn’t actually asked to be saved and they kind of liked their status quo. It wasn’t perfect, but they never asked an outsider to mess it up. Then there’s another little twist but it isn’t overly significant so I’ll leave that alone.

I didn’t like this episode as much as previous ones. Mostly because Shizu is a character (or representative of characters) we’ve seen a million times before. Kino’s action in the first three episodes are interesting because they tend to deviate from what you would expect in a given situation. Still, the contrast between the way Kino travels and Shizu this week is quite well done.


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Just Because Episode 4: When You Break Through A Wall, Sometimes All You Get Is A Broken Wall

Review:

I remember when Tsuki ga Kirei was on and how many people kept saying how real and relatable it felt but I never really got that vibe. That’s probably because I’m catching it from Just Because. Watching Soma build up again to a confession is painful but the show isn’t. This is seeing the pointless and the awkward moments of high school play out with a group of teens that aren’t going to change the world, aren’t actually falling out of society, but a lot of them are just going through the motions and accepting their normalcy for what it is.

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There’s a lot to like this week as the characters all take seem to take a step and the end result is a lot of crushed toes (well, hurt feelings is probably closer to the reality). It isn’t that they have all failed. It is just that life is going one way and they tried to go another and the end result was pretty predictable.

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What I think I liked most this week was seeing Eita lose his aloof and stoic self in the face of Natsume’s blatant self-denial. It didn’t get him anywhere and Eita losing his cool is kind of like normal Eita with the minor exception being that he lets more of his hand slip than normal. Just enough that he regrets it after the fact. It will be interesting to see the fall out of this episode next week and which relationships remain in tact and which ones become strained.


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Autumn 2017 Week 4

If you missed it, my review schedule is up on my patreon site, though I will admit there is still plenty of movement going on this season. That is probably because of the sheer number of shows that have caught my interest and last season I’d have watched them just to have something kind of fun to talk about. This season however I’m probably going to end up dropping shows and putting them on my list of shows to come back to at a later date (which usually means a long time before I get to them). Still, this is where the shows currently sit on my list and hopefully they can continue to be fun. At the moment I have a lot of shows in my Must Watch and Usually Entertaining categories. I kind of know already some of them will wear thin as the season goes and they’ll start dropping down, but I’m kind of hopeful about a lot of them.

How is everyone else finding the Autumn anime season this year? Let me know in the comments below.

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Must Watch

March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 (Episode 24)

Wow. There were so many characters getting moments in this episode that when you just think about the show it feels like it should have been incredibly rushed. However, that wasn’t the case as every moment we saw has naturally built from previous moments with these characters. They are logical next steps or expansions on things we already knew and yet they give us that more complete picture. Really loved this episode and this series is making a very solid return.

Kino’s Journey (Episode 3)

Episode 3 just kind of reinforced what I liked about the previous episode and I’m kind of hooked on finding out where Kino will go next and what they will see. This show seems to be trying to avoid making any kind of statement but it raises a lot of issues and the parallels to reality work well at putting a lot of emotional weight behind seemingly simple situations. All and all, good fun so far.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Episode 3)

While I wasn’t entirely sold on some of this episode, The Ancient Magus’ Bride remains a beautiful anime to watch (both visually and emotionally). The few complaints I have about a slightly weaker story are pretty much offset by everything else this show offers. My thoughts are available on Weekend Otaku’s site where we reviewed the episode together.

Land of the Lustrous (Episode 3)

How do you make a story about anthropomorphized gem stones interesting and a truly emotional experience? Land of the Lustrous is taking a good shot at showing us exactly how to do that. The narrative is still a little bit sparse but the characters are really shining in this beautifully animated show. Well worth checking out.

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Usually Entertaining

Girls’ Last Tour (Episode 3)

This continues to be pretty good viewing. The slow pace and very little happening is off-set by the richness of the world and a slow trickle of information about the past, as well as the two very charming leads. While this one probably isn’t going to become a must watch for me, I am definitely being entertained by this.

Anime-Gataris (Episode 3)

This is just so much fun. There might be better shows and even better parodies out there, but I’m really enjoying watching this and am liking the cast more and more. Hoping this continues to build on the foundation they’ve got here and hopefully they don’t go off the rails in a few episodes.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie (Episode 4)

The transition to focusing on the characters’ real lives for the first half of episode 3 was well made and really cemented this as a series I am enjoying. The MMO parts remain weaker, but with the context being provided by their real lives even those scenes are becoming more enjoyable. So episode 4 was a little bit slower to get started with the focus back on the game for a bit, but once it got going it was a very enjoyable episode.

Just Because (Episode 3)

I really am enjoying this fairly sleepy story so far. It isn’t overly exciting and nothing much is happening (transfer student, past relationships surfacing, new relationships forming, and lots of just kind of meandering) but it has a kind of charm that keeps me smiling during the episodes. Hopefully this continues along these lines.

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Okay, I Guess

King’s Game (Episode 4)

Sensibly enough, I kind of get that the copious issues with characterisation and pacing are probably going to kill this as an enjoyable viewing experience for a wider audience. However, I like the premise of this as a horror and there are genuine moments that actually work (though the overall execution of the show needs some work if anyone was ever expected to take this seriously).

Sengoku Night Blood (Episode 4)

Continuing to be a relaxing viewing that isn’t really inspiring me to think or worry for the characters. Pretty chill experience of girl, with just enough personality that I probably shouldn’t mock her for being a blank slate but not enough to actually be a character, exploring fantasy warring states Japan complete with vampires and werewolves who all dress like characters rejected from a Final Fantasy line up. Anyway, I’m enjoying it but I’m not exactly going to sing its praises.

Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ (Episode 3)

Bring on the vampire boy with a grudge against Van. At the very least, this gave Cardia some reason to empathise with someone else and she started to actually seem more like a person in this episode because of it. Hopefully she keeps going because she may even gain a personality if this keeps up and then I will have to stop making fun of her.

Black Clover (Episode 4)

Finally this show is starting to move on a bit and this episode was the best so far. Still some issues and they are definitely running some jokes straight into the ground, but it is becoming a bit more enjoyable. Hopefully this is a sign of better things to come.

Juni Taisen: Zodiac War (Episode 4)

Yep, with Chicken gone we are back to boring characters who don’t actually seem to be in a hurry to kill each other even though they have a time limit before they die naturally of ingested poison. The one story point I took from this episode is that they couldn’t refuse to join the fight though why that might be or what the true purpose is has yet to actually be revealed.

Dies Irae (Episode 2)

Definitely still setting things up but improving as we continue along. This is kind of a good sign and I hope it continues. More murder, fights and high school life in this episode and a few hints at what is going on but nothing concrete yet.

UQ Holder (Episode 4)

The second half of the episode this week really kicked things up a notch. I’m still not overly impressed, but it is harmless fun so far. Well, harmless for the audience and not so much for the immortal characters. Making your cast immortal makes it pretty hard to up the tension so we seem to be going for pain and causing emotional distress at the moment.

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They Made This?

Evil or Live (Episode 3)

Hey, first show into the They Made This category. It has the honour of having intrigued me enough that I want to know how it ends, while at the same time being more or less unwatchably bad during this third episode. Pretty much, other than the premise which is kind of interesting, this show has so far managed to butcher every other aspect and to be honest it is kind of cringe worthy.  We’ll see if it recovers later in the season or if it gets too bad and I end up dropping it.

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Tried and Dropped

My Girlfriend is Shobitch (Episode 2)

TWOCAR (Episode 1)

Taisho Mebiusline Chicchaisan (Episode 1)

Love is Like A Cocktail (Episode 1)

Konohana Kitan (Episode 1)

A Sister’s All You Need (Episode 1)

Urahara (Episode 1)


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King’s Game Episodes 3 + 4: These Kids Will Need So Much Therapy – Assuming They Live

Review Episode 3:

This show continues to be plagued with various problems but by far the worst aspect of it is we are watching round two of the King’s Game for Nobuaki but they keep sending us back for extended periods of time to the first game. The first game being far more interesting with a far more likeable cast. It just kind of makes the problems of the current group of students more apparent and episode 3 actually spends so much time back in the past when we jump again to the current timeline it took me a moment to remember what was even going on.

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That said, this week gave the audience some really cold moments and kind of nailed the horror of this situation. The popularity poll, various characters’ despair, the fake out with the punishment not being death and then a truly horrible punishment being specified in the conditions of the next task… It all just worked really well at making this situation seem utterly and completely horrific. With better execution this could be a truly fantastic horror story and yet it comes up wanting.

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Still, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it. This is a great example of popcorn fiction where if you don’t think too hard and aren’t after quality you can have quite a bit of fun with the viewing experience (provided of course girls splattering out of windows and images of self-immolation – not actually followed through in the reality – fit within your definition of fun viewing).

Review Episode 4:

And I remain convinced that if they had just told the story of Nobuaki’s first encounter with the King this would be a much better show. The flash back this week focused on the time a girl tried to find the King by issuing an order to herself to touch the King under the assumption that the King was in her class. That ended pretty badly but it is the kind of situation where the audience knowing how bad an idea it is makes the whole thing kind of thrilling to watch.

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Unfortunately, the present day story isn’t faring so well with Nobuaki clearly having learned nothing from his first round. He’s still making baseless assumptions and while there is nothing new about stupid characters in horror, the fact that a number of people seem to think he is a good thinker and trust his ideas really concerns me.

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The line above really bothered me. Just because a King’s Game may have been held in the village (no idea what evidence Nobuaki has for that one but hopefully we’ll find out later) doesn’t mean there is any clue as to how to stop the game. The story Nobuaki told seemed to indicate everyone died so clearly they didn’t actually find a way to stop the game so assuming there are any clues of use there is kind of insane. Not to mention, Nobuaki’s comment that it was probably the first game, indicates he has no idea. He’s just assuming because it is the oldest one he knows about.

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Still, for all the idiotic decision making and assumptions, one thing remains clear. Nobuaki is desperate not to admit he is going to fail and that people are going to die. He would rather dish out false hope and cling to any possibility than accept despair.  He’s also surrounded by characters who are so desperate for hope they will cling to his empty words though it has been interesting to see their reactions at crunch times with some thanking him for trying while others become disgusted by the hollowness of the entire situation.

So yeah, this show is still full of problems but intriguing enough and maybe when they finally get to the village they’ll start advancing the present day plot more than the previous game.


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