200 Word Anime: The Ancient Magus’ Bride – Episode 8

Check out Weekend Otaku’s and my thoughts about The Ancient Magus’ Bride episode 8.

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This week we see the aftermath of Elias’ transformation and what he’s capable of when his bride is hurt. Read on to see what Karandi and I thought of the episode, and catch any reviews you might have missed at this link.

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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 8: Pass the Parcel?

Review:

So Yuzuki has now officially met all of the important characters as she’s been taken for visits, been abducted, found, abducted again, abducted from the abductors, etc, etc, etc. I’m not sure that any of this makes for a plot that makes sense but at least someone finally put together the basic point that everywhere she goes monsters attack.

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It almost makes you wonder why they want her. Oh yeah, her famous blood which so far only one vampire has even tasted in this entire series. It is almost like they just needed an excuse for all the pretty boy warlords to all fall for the same girl…

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Despite the absolutely transparent set up and almost non-existent plot development, this still isn’t actually bad to watch. Just pretty ordinary to forgettable. It doesn’t actually have enough personality to be all that bad to watch.

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But hey, they finally remembered she was supposed to be from another world so possibly this might become a plot point of significance again. I’m not really expecting much at this point though.


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Karandi James.

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Baldur’s Gate 2 Update

I only recently did a post about what I was playing recently but this weekend (while trying to unwind and de-stress) I had a novel experience.

If you’ve never played Baldur’s Gate then you probably don’t know that in the game you assemble a party as you wander about and you can change party members as you go (though to be honest once I pick a team I pretty much stick with them – mostly because I get attached and also because I like how their stories play out). Yes, as you meander about your missions certain events trigger dialogue between either yourself and your party members or between different party members and depending on a few factors (whether you are good, neutral or evil, your current reputation status, and whether you reply correctly or callously to their dialogue) the stories will go in different directions.

As a teen, I always played a chaotic good character. It meant I mostly had a good reputation but could sometimes just take the violent is better approach to the whole situation as long as morally I had the high ground. That meant I tended to choose characters for my party that were either good or neutral to varying degrees.

As an adult, and wanting more of a challenge from a game I’ve played many times through, I decided to see if I could maintain a neutral status throughout the game and have been picking both good and evil characters for my party. This resulted in a few unexpected and never seen before developments.

Firstly, I had a character leave my party. He just upped and left when we got to the end of his storyline. That’s never happened to me before as usually my character ends up in a semi-romance with the guy and he follows me around the entire country-side. But no, he has a little temper tantrum and storms off the screen and suddenly my character can’t move because she’s carrying literally his entire inventory (including a shield that he is the only one who can use and you can’t even sell the thing).

I’d always strived to placate party members before when tensions arose and I’d never actually had the experience of a party member deserting. Being ditched by an NPC actually kind of hurts, as ridiculous as that might sound.

The second thing that happened was two of my party members got into a fight and one of them literally killed the other before turning and politely asking if I wanted to continue travelling together. Um…

One of my party members was just turned into pixellated chunks of debris on the ground of the dungeon I was exploring and the person responsible wants to know if we are going to continue travelling together. And here’s the thing. I could have said no. But then I was going to be two party members short and stuck in a dungeon. As it is, I’m going to have to very carefully back-track and recruit someone new who hopefully won’t try to kill the rest of my party before I can progress.

So while I’m finding the difficulty of Baldur’s Gate nowhere near what I remember having managed to even kill the Shadow Dragon without particular difficulty, it turns out that not being a goody-two-shoes or worrying about my party composition does actually hinder progress quite significantly. I can’t wait to see what happens as I progress the story with the rest of the crazy loons I’ve recruited into the party this time.


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Karandi James.

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Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Episode 8: The Enemy of My Enemy

Review:

For an episode that actually had a pretty dramatic ending (predictable but still dramatic) the rest of this episode just kind of felt like it was going through the motions. London is burning, soldiers are rebelling, and Cardia and Lupin return, reunite with the others and decide to save the Queen.

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I don’t know why Cardia and Lupin had to return and reunite with everyone before that could happen but I guess it worked out better than what the other guys were doing before they reunited which seemed to be nothing except staring around and terrifying already terrified deserters from the army.

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Finis remained a cackling cliché of an unthreatening villain spouting various threats and declarations in between cackles but still accomplishing almost nothing as the group slip through his fingers yet again.

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All and all, pretty ordinary. And yet, Saint finally gets a little bit of a story in this episode and while it wasn’t unexpected, it turned out to be more interesting than anticipated. More importantly, it set up that fairly dramatic ending. Now I don’t doubt that this show will squander most of that drama with an overly simplified conclusion to the scenario in the next episode, but at least it let the episode end on a high note.


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Karandi James.

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Tale of the Waning Moon Volume 2 Manga Review

Just a warning to start that the contents of this manga are not suited to everyone containing explicit (and sometimes graphic) sexual non-consensual relationships between male characters. While I have included no images below, the story content will be discussed.

My review of Volume 1 can be found here.

Review:

Well despite the warning there, volume 2 is decidedly tame by comparison to volume 1 in terms of what it actually depicts. It is problematic in that Ryuka is more or less clearly surrendering to the idea that he is falling in love with Ixto (you know, moon spirit who raped him and then essentially put a spell on him forcing him to find his way to the moon) but if you ignored that premise, volume 2 is actually kind of sweet. Ryuka’s working hard to find his way and to overcome obstacles, and Ixto is doing what he can to ensure not too many obstacles fall in his path. If their actions stemmed from a different starting point it would be sweet.

So to get it out of the way, this particular volume does have non-consensual sex going on yet again between unnamed characters who have been kidnapped and brainwashed by another former resident of the moon who now lives inside a cave and spirits away young men. This situation isn’t actually stopped or even dealt with in the story, it is merely a setting our main characters come across but they are rapidly kicked out and then the story moves on, but it is still fairly graphic for the short moment the characters cross paths with this scene. I’m kind of hoping somewhere down the line there’s a reason this character and this place even exist because otherwise the main characters literally gained nothing by the encounter and it did nothing to progress the plot. Still, given the one they met came from the moon and his place is inside the cave where the sealed portal to the moon is kept, I’m guessing this might become more important later in the story.

However, for Ryuka we have a fetch quest this book. Basically after reaching the portal to the moon, the pull that has been directing him to find Ixto kind of fades but he still can’t get through the door. Fortunately (and conveniently) there’s a list of items on the door that Ryuka will need to gather in order to open it and despite not really being compelled anymore, Ryuka becomes fairly determined to track them down.

He’s still accompanied by Aldin and the horse/man Ral. When asked why Aldin is still journeying with them, given he now knows that Ral and himself have been cursed, he points out he doesn’t know  how to get rid of the curse and he may as well stay with Ryuka while looking for a way to fix the situation. In honesty, these two get very little development this book, though the final part of the story has the group return to Aldin’s home as one of the objects they need is a family heirloom (again with convenience) and it kind of looks like their story is going to be dealt with in earnest fairly soon so I’m kind of looking forward to that.

It is however an odd way to tell an adventure story with the cahracters having crossed the desert to get to the portal and then crossing the desert again, and encountering the bandits again, in order to retrieve all the items they need. Honestly, it feels like stretching content to have not told them in the first place that before you get to the door you will need x, y, z. More importantly, it just means bringing back characters and settings we’ve kind of already seen and the second encounter with the bandits was no more meaningful than the first.from volume 1.

Despite the fairly meandery plot, I’m liking how Ryuka is shaping up as a character and despite my misgivings about him actually falling in love with Ixto, I can’t help but want the two of them to end up together at this point. Though, I sort of suspect things are going to get worse before they get better for the two of them.

Anyway, I have the third volume ready to read, so I’ll get to it soon and write my thoughts then. If you’ve read this series I’d love to know your thoughts.


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Karandi James.

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Anime-Gataris Episode 8: It’s a Swing and a Miss

Review:

One thing that has become painfully obvious during the mid-season of Anime-Gataris is that this show is at its best when it is a straight parody of other anime or when the characters are passionately engaged in an anime discussion dropping references left and right. Devoid of either of those ideas, the story itself doesn’t have enough substance to stay standing and the one note nature of these characters becomes far too clear.

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Why was this even here? They didn’t end up doing anything with it.

The reason episode 8 highlights these issues so beautifully is because the entire episode is a tug-of-war between the show trying to be plot driven with the anime club getting shut down and overcoming the student council’s meddling and a barrage of references about doing your best, the screening itself which dumps huge numbers of references and then we finish with a dance sequence that other than being filled with creepy CG was incredibly familiar.

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Basically we had moments that reminded us that this show knew how to make us laugh and had some energy, and then we had all the scenes with Minoa thinking or moping or rallying to get her enthusiasm back up. Minoa is a cute character and when she’s discussing anime she shines. But otherwise, she just doesn’t have enough character, and the audience hasn’t been given enough reason to care about her as a character, for any of the rest of this to have much impact.

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This one looks like it will be hard to review because early episodes were really good value in terms of just making me laugh. Now however, while I don’t dislike the show, it has definitely slumped into kind of watchable nothingness.


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Karandi James.

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Clannad and Clannad After Story Series Review

Overview:

It seems really unlikely that you don’t already know what Clannad is about but just in case, the story mostly follows Tomoya who runs into Nagisa on her way to school talking to herself. Seems she is a bit worried because she’s had to repeat a year due to ill health and she’s worried she won’t know anyone. Tomoya isn’t exactly the most reliable assistant given his own personal traumas but the two of them are going to try to make it.

Review:

This is going to be fairly short because my overall feeling with Clannad is that while it was fun to watch not much of it sticks afterward. Almost instantly my memory becomes hazy. I know there are plenty of female characters that Tomoya helps along the way during the first season, but other than Nagisa and Fuuka none of them really left any kind of impression (other than the genius who can kill people with the sound of her violin – okay they don’t die but they look like they wish they could die).

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After Story has a far more lasting impression but that is because the story focusses on what happens after they are done with school and is pretty much about Tomoya and Nagisa’s relationship which then leads to Tomoya building a relationship with his child and finally facing his own issues with his father. It is a far more focussed story and while the other characters all make appearances, it is clear who owns the story and it has far more emotional strength as a result. Still, After Story only works because of the ground work Clannad did in the first place so it isn’t as though we don’t learn about these characters as they go about fixing everything.

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I often wonder why male anime protagonists feel that they have to help every sad anime girl that they encounter but clearly it is a necessity as is the girl then following said guy around like they have no existence outside of said guy and guys other rescued girls. Even when it is clear the guy is with or going to end up with one of the other girls. Just keep hanging around and maybe you’ll get your screen time.

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Tomoya’s one male friend fares a little better because at least you remember him, even if it is only because he gets beaten up almost every time he appears. It is a running gag, and like many of the comedy moments in the series, one I wasn’t so fond of. And yet, for all that they literally use this character as a punching bag, Sunohara’s existence is kind of essential to the series and his few actually dramatic moments work well.

The story does take a fairly serious look at a range of high school and life issues. Some of these are quite moving and relatable and others are recognisable even if you don’t have any personal experience. This focus on real drama kind of lifts this show from just being another generic high school harem thing.

Basically if you like slow high school stories that have a lot of drama but are peppered with the usual kind of comedy moments and scenarios than Clannad is quality viewing. While watching it, the show draws you in with its visuals and music, and while none of the other things really stuck with me, while watching I didn’t have any criticisms other than the fact that it felt like I’d seen pretty much all of this before. After Story made me cry but it was working really hard to achieve that so full credit for them succeeding at their goals.

As for me, I liked this well enough while watching but not enough that I’d go for another round any time soon. Definitely a case of having experienced it, enjoyed it, and now moving on.


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UQ Holder Episode 9: What Does Anyone Expect From an Episode Called “Love, Baths and Vigorous Exercise”?

Review:

This episode begins and ends with Tota seeking answers from Evangeline and getting at least one decent revelation by episode’s end. Which I’m guessing is meant to make us think the rest of this is worth our time.

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I’m just not sure I’m in for a random bath sequences with B list characters who seem to only exist for scenes like this. I’m not sure when Tota acquired full harem status but it has been building for awhile. The issue is, the various love interests don’t actually seem to have anything to do with the main plot that keeps getting sidelined while the girls literally fight over who gets to wash Tota’s back.

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Even Kuroumaru, who actually used to be interesting, has been reduced to love struck maiden getting involved in stupid fights that serve no purpose given the protagonist remains oblivious to anything going on around them anyway. And when the whole thing is resolved by nothing changing you start questioning why you just gave the sequence nearly twenty minutes of your life.

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I don’t actually dislike this show, I just don’t see much point to it. It feels like you could recut the plot points of the story and end up with about one episode worth of material at this point.


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Karandi James.

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Girls’ Last Tour Episode 8: What Is Left Behind?

Review:

This week we get three short stories in the episode where the girls first visit a grave yard of sorts and start thinking about what people have left behind. Yuuri, as usual, has some interesting insights which she then contradicts with her next breath, but she’s still amusing and thought provoking. I also like how the camera continues to be used (and the return of the statues) as the series progresses so even though there’s no real over-arching story here there does feel like forward progress as the girls gain knowledge, memories, and items.

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The second story gives us another rare brush with action and danger as the girls climb another tower. Again, this links back with the previous story climbing the tower including looking at the lift that was broken which is what forced them to try to drive up the spiral. This was a nice break from the usual sleepy nothing and once again showed why the girls make such a good team and the strengths they bring to the partnership.

Lastly, what to do at the end of the world after you explore and don’t really find anything? Try the random golden fluid you found in a bottle of course. I’d be a little more cautious about drinking random liquids, particularly ones that look and smell more like petrol than water, but the girls down quite a quantity of beer under the shining moon light for a very relaxed and cute ending.

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This show continues to be a fun and relaxing watch with just enough poignant moments that you can’t dismiss it as fluff but it seldom gets too serious for too long. Very good watch so far this season.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Non-Weapon Items Used as Weapons

Alright, this list could literally go on forever because anime has used a lot of items that we usually don’t consider weapons in fights. Cards, coins, crosses, hair pins… You name it and some anime character somewhere has attempted to weaponise it (probably successfully). I narrowed this list down to characters and items that were genuinely fun to watch in action and where the item was used in its standard form and didn’t have some magic transformation applied to it (sorry Orihime’s hairpins but that ruled you out). Weapon effectiveness was not the primary consideration which explains a few of the choices below. That said, this was a fun list to make and I’d really love to see what you would have included on your list so please leave a comment below.

Please Note: There may be some spoilers below.

Honourable mention this week goes to Lin Shaolee in Black Cat for their creative use of a scarf as a weapon (though a lot of the weapons in Black Cat could have ended up on this list). The other honourable mention:

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I’m just going to leave this here and get on with my list.

Number 5: D Gray Man – Soccer Ball

You have to admit, soccer is not the first thing you think about when someone mentions D Gray Man. In a show full of weird weapons as every Innocence is just a little bit unique, Daisya Barry’s stands out because it is just a ball and he is just a kid playing even when fighting for his life. For a character that only really appeared in three episodes his impact is enormous because his personality is a breath of fresh air, the impact he has on others is incredible, and then he dies tragically (as do most side characters in D Gray Man so I guess we all saw it coming). Still, odd ball weapon choice and still incredibly awesome to watch.

Number 4: Hunter X Hunter – Fishing Rod

Again, Hunter X Hunter is full of plenty of weird items being used as weapons, but I think Gon’s fishing rod is a classic. I kind of thought it was cute when he was training to be a hunter and was using a fishing rod, and then the more we learned about being a hunter the weirder it seemed and some of the situations Gon ended up using that rod are fantastically non-sensical and yet it always ends up pretty effective. But mostly this made the list because it so suits Gon’s personality. I did notice that he was using it less often as the story progressed and I still have a fair way to go through the series so I’m kind of hoping it doesn’t get totally forgotten later.

Number 3: Black Butler – Cutlery

Did anyone seriously think I was going to make this list without adding Sebastian to it? The reason this isn’t number one is because I’m pretty positive the only reason these weapons are effective is because they are being thrown by a demon. I somehow don’t think the average person is going to throw a fork hard enough to penetrate skull from a distance (I could be wrong but I hope not). Still, watching Sebastian in action with the silverware… Just another reason he is one hell of a butler.

Number 2: Soul Eater – Tombstone

For a show about people who can literally transform into weapons, Sid’s first fight might seem a little underwhelming given he is just hurling his own tombstone around. And yet, in any other show awesome. Here’s a zombie literally fighting off his attackers by pummeling them with his own tombstone. There’s a certain level of craziness to that idea that really appeals and it doesn’t hurt that this fight is the first time we see Maka and Black Star ‘working’ together.

Number 1: Love, Chuunibyou and Other Delusions – Pigtails

Yep, it is the Dekimori Spin and other random attacks by Dekimore (aka Sanae). Okay, her attacks are almost never effective but they are always awesome to watch whether we see her own delusional version of the attack or whether we see the real world action, it is always fun. Including the time she tangles herself in her own hair and falls over. I also liked the time she increased the weights on her hair fora more effective attack and then couldn’t even really move. Yes, weaponised pigtails. We definitely need to see more of this even though I’m pretty sure most villains will not be shaking in their boots.

There’s my list for the week and as I said before, I’d love to hear what you would add on your list. What’s your favourite non-weapon item that has been weaponised?


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