Sanrio Boys Episode 4: If The Boys Had Been In Middle-School, This Story-line Might Have Worked.

Before I get into the review, a reminder that last night was the special blog announcement. If you missed it, be sure to check out this post.

Review:

While the copious Hello Kitty product placement throughout this episode actually worked in well with the story despite being blatant advertising, the story itself fell flat on its face. High school boy doesn’t realise soccer is a team sport and now the team are upset with him? It really is a heavy handed and somewhat ridiculous attempt  at giving this character is turn at an angst filled back story only the whole thing comes off as pretty trite and he just ends up looking that little bit pathetic.

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Even the childhood flashbacks don’t do much to help the story along as it just makes you realise how much better this story would have worked for a younger character set.

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All and all, that’s two episodes in a row where this show has missed its emotional mark. One more and I think this one will hit the dropped list.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

 

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Recovery of an MMO Junkie Series Review: Recommendation of the Wonderful Virtual Life

By the way, if you missed it, check out the previous post which has a special blog announcement.

Overview:

Recovery of an MMO Junkie follows Morioka, who has given up work and going out doors to become a NEET by choice who plays an MMO. Her avatar is a male and she is partnered in the game with a healer called Lily. However, everything changes when on her way to the convenience store she runs into a man named Sakurai.

Review:

If you are looking for something amazingly new and different, then MMO Junkie isn’t going to be your thing. It is a fairly standard rom-com with a few gimmicks thrown in (as there always are) to try to give it the tiniest bit of differentiation so that you can remember which particular couple of emotionally inept characters you are following in the particular series. Despite that, there’s something fairly entertaining about MMO Junkie as it manages to execute standard rom-com in an engaging way with most of the material hitting the mark.

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I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by this series. From the synopsis I wasn’t expecting much (actually I was expecting it to be pretty average) and the whole they met in the game and then in real life thing has been done many times at this point. But where MMO Junkie quickly managed to win me over was in the characters of Morioka and Sakurai.

Neither of the two characters are teenagers and while some of their reactions are exaggerated for the sake of entertainment, most of the way through the show they respond in a believable naive but amusing manner to most of the things that happen. Small details like Morioka delinting her rug when she was stressed or thinking about something (a recurring visual gag) and Sakurai’s pink computer keyboard really helped to flesh these two out beyond the standard trope they might otherwise have represented.

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It also helped that I found them both likeable characters. I know some people were frustrated with Sakurai’s lack of initiative, but I found him to be quite a nice guy and to be honest, what he said to Morioka in the final episode while they were washing dishes was adorable. I think if a guy had said that to me in that context I’d have gone weak in the knees. It was just such a sweet moment. That doesn’t mean he’s exactly assertive, but despite his earlier dithering he does slowly but surely make progress towards actually asking Morioka out.

I mentioned this in my episode reviews but the story is significantly better when the focus is on the real world rather than the virtual one. It isn’t that the virtual world is bad or poorly constructed, it just works better as a background to the more interesting story taking place in the real world. So the first episodes that are more heavily focused inside the MMO, while cute enough, are decidedly weaker than later episodes where the characters interact more in real life. This is a problem because I know quite a few people gave this show up early on and it is only ten episodes so this ‘wasted’ time in the series run kind of hurts it overall. And it is difficult to argue that the time isn’t wasted because they initally spend a lot of time explaining how things in the MMO world work or show us Lily and Hayashi fighting a character or just hanging out. While it establishes the bond they have in game, this could be none with much more economy and ultimately it does detract from what is otherwise a pretty solid show.

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The support cast are hit and miss. Koiwai is probably the best example of this where he serves an absolutely essential narrative purpose so removing his character is impossible, but his character is incredibly obnoxious for most of his screen time. Even though his brash personality is what allows him to move the plot along in the way he does, overall his presence is one I’d have really liked to see diminished in the story. However, Kanbe (one of the characters in the MMO) who’s real life controller works at the convenience store Morioka and Sakurai frequent, is almost unused. What little narrative purpose he has is quickly swept away and by the final episode when you get your final look at his character you just have to wonder what the intention was behind his role because ultimately he didn’t do much.

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That might make it seem like there are more flaws to this show than quality but I’d disagree. From the opening song, to the sweet romantic story, as well as the comedic elements that most of the time hit their mark, this show was pretty much pure enjoyment. There are a few slower episodes at the mid-way point but given it is such a short series it doesn’t take long for it to pick itself back up. All and all, if you’ve got a bit of time, this is one worth checking out. You won’t be blown away but you’ll probably leave with a smile on your face.

If you wanted Recovery of an MMO Junkie I’d love to know your thoughts.

Episode Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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If you enjoyed this post and would like to see Patreon2more great content on this blog, consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

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Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

 

The Countdown Is Over – And So Now, This

And we’ve finally reached January 31st and the end of the countdown that has been going on for quite awhile now so it is finally time to make some announcements.

Eva Launch!

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Oh, that’s not quite right. That would be cool, but unfortunately budget cuts have meant that the Eva program just isn’t getting off the ground (that was a joke).

Let’s try again.

 

 

Book Launch!

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The first, and most significant reason for the countdown, is that I have compiled some of my posts from last year into an ebook that is now available for purchase. At the moment it is only available from here for $3.99 however hopefully if I can sort out a few final formatting issues it will also be available from some more standard online book sellers – if that happens I will link those in. (And some good news on that front, just waiting on a final approval.)

And while yes, the content in the book is all available on the site already, this is an opportunity to support the blog in a one off manner rather than an ongoing subscription (such as patreon). However, if you are a patron already, or if you sign up to become a patron, you will get access to a PDF copy of this on request as a thank you for your ongoing support for the blog.

Series reviews from 2017 that appear in the book are as follows (some of these have yet to be published on the blog if they are from the Autumn anime season):

  1. ACCA: 13 Territory Inspection Dept.
  2. Akashic Records of a Bastard Magical Instructor
  3. Anime-Gataris
  4. Attack on Titan Season 2
  5. Blue Exorcist: Kyoto Saga
  6. Chain Chronicle: The Light Of Haecceitas
  7. Chronos Ruler
  8. Code Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~
  9. Dies Irae
  10. elDLIVE
  11. Gamers
  12. Girls’ Last Tour
  13. Granblue Fantasy the Animation
  14. Grimoire of Zero
  15. Hand Shakers
  16. Hitorijime My Hero
  17. In Another World With My Smartphone
  18. Juni Taisen: Zodiac War
  19. Just Because
  20. KADO: The Right Answer
  21. Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu
  22. King’s Game
  23. Knight’s and Magic
  24. Land of the Lustrous
  25. Made in Abyss
  26. My Hero Academia Season 2
  27. Natsume Yuujinchou Roku
  28. Princess Principal
  29. Recovery of an MMO Junkie
  30. Sagrada Reset
  31. Tales of Zestiria the X Season 2
  32. The Eccentric Family Season 2
  33. The Royal Tutor
  34. UQ Holder!
  35. Vatican Miracle Examiner
  36. WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?

In addition to the series reviews, the book contains reviews of older series that were published on the blog during 2017, and some of the features and top 5 lists from 2017. It comes in at just over 120,000 words and posts have been edited from the blog form so some of the more glaring typos that slipped through have been addressed (there’s probably some I have missed though).

Note: There are no images included in the book.

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The other bit of news is I’ve been reviewing the reward tiers for my patron site. There are now more tier levels and the rewards are a little clearer and less nebulous. While I find it kind of awkward to ask people to pay for content, as I would like the blog to become something more than a hobby I am going to keep working with patrons and followers to find a good balance here.

Please take a moment to review the reward tiers and to consider supporting my blog in 2018. While I will admit I am still learning things and I still make mistakes, I’m working hard at improving quality and to ensure that content is produced regularly for the blog.

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And that’s where we are up to now that the count down is over. Now we just need to count down to the blog’s second anniversary (May 1). In the meantime, I want to thank all of my readers as you are the reason I want to keep creating content and to create better content. Also, if you have a suggestion for a reward that I could offer my patrons, I am very open to those so contact me or send me a DM on Twitter.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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If you enjoyed this post and would like to see Patreon2more great content on this blog, consider becoming a patron for as little as $1 a month.

Thoughts on Anime.jpg

Another way you can support the content here is by buying a copy of ‘Thoughts on Anime 2017‘ as an ebook. It contains a selection of reviews, features and top 5 lists from 2017 and while the content is available free on the site, this is a great way to give a one off show of support for the blog. It is available for $3.99.

 

Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Episode 4: Was Anyone Surprised By That Ending?

Review:

Well, at least we know now why Syaoran is being all avoidy (though not any details, just that he’s doing that usual lie to the girl in order to protect her thing anime the males in magical girl shows tend to do even though it usually fails miserably – see Darien season two of Sailor Moon for further evidence). However, that the end of the episode, and I don’t think it caught anyone by surprise but was more a matter of wondering when they will tell us exactly what is going on.

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Anyway, the episode has Sakura going about her usual day including her usual fight with her older brother before she meets a transfer student and the flower effects people go a bit crazy (for most of the episode).

Yes, they are having a lot of fun this episode with floral filled scenes. New girl seems nice and totally not suspicious which probably means she is up to something (but maybe she’s just the red-herring to distract us from whatever Syaoran is up to – though given Sakura pointed out the similarities in their names I’m guessing there’s something going on).

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Anyway, we get another dramatic card capture moment and that about wraps it up for the episode. Much like last week, this was quite fun and moving along at a reasonable pace, even if it was a little predictable. I was surprised by the card itself being ‘action’ given I expected it to be ‘wood’ but I’m also really surprised by how small scale Sakura was being when she was wondering what to use it for. Anyway, another week, another card captured and more cute costumes for Sakura.


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If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.

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Karandi James.

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Male Characters in 2017

Following on from last week where I looked at my top 5 choices for best female characters in 2017, I now have my list of males. This list is always so much harder to write because there are more lead male characters and for some reasons more personality types for male characters which means the pool I’m selecting from is a lot larger making it harder to narrow down. Ultimately, same with the female characters, my choices come down to my opinion of characters I connected with, found fun and entertaining, and just really enjoyed spending time with. That said, I’d love to know your favourite male characters from 2017 so please feel free to share in the comments below.

Please Note – Some spoilers below.

Honourable mentions this week go to: Sakurai from Recovery of an MMO Junkie and Aram from Chain Chronicle.

Number 5: Yasaburo from The Eccentric Family Season 2

He’s mischievous, sticks his nose into everything, but cares deeply about his family, Yasaburo continued to charm as the narrator of The Eccentric Family. A tanuki who enjoys transforming and tricking others, as well as generally stirring up trouble, it is always hard to know how much of what Yasaburo does is planned and how much is impulsive, but it is clear that life will never be dull when Yasaburo is around.

Number 4: Todoroki from My Hero Academia

I’ll admit, Todoroki didn’t leave much of an impression during season 1. I knew he’d made it into the school on a recommendation but that was about it and I hadn’t paid a lot of attention. Season 2 made me pay attention to this character. He’s not as flashy as Bakugou and he certainly has emotional hang-ups and tragic back story character traits that would normally make him the protagonist in such a setting (unfortunately Midoriya has that position all locked up) but Todoroki is a fascinating support character in a show with a large cast of big personalities all looking for their moment to shine. Really looking forward to what Todoroki does next and really loving that just wanting to move forward hasn’t instantly allowed Todoroki to get over all of his baggage.

Number 3: Natsume from Natsume Yuujinchou Roku

Okay, this almost hurt seeing Natsume at only number 3 but I just couldn’t move him any higher on the list, which speaks volumes of the characters above him, but poor Natsume. Part of the reason Natsume isn’t number 1 is because a lot of the episodes in season 6 focused on the support cast of Natsume Yuujinchou. Which was lovely to see, but it meant Natsume himself didn’t get as much development and growth as previous seasons. While seeing where he is now was a joy, when I compare how Natsume was presented this season with the other characters on the list, I just couldn’t move him any higher. Anyway, still one of my favourite characters ever, Natsume is fantastic.

Number 2: Jean from ACCA

I know Jean didn’t exactly wow everyone with his very calm and unconcerned manner, but for me his subtle display of emotions and his carefully portrayed nonchalance in the face of political plots and conspiracies was wonderfully done. I really enjoyed slowly getting to know this enigmatic character and I really liked how he took control of the story toward the end where throughout the series it seemed like he was adrift and being pushed along by the whims of others. I could definitely stand to see a return of Jean though it seems very unlikely.

Number 1: Rei from March Comes in Like a Lion

Season 1 ending, season 2 beginning, doesn’t matter, they both aired in 2017 and either way, Rei is an awesome character. I have absolutely loved following Rei’s journey as he confronts his mental health issues and social anxiety and starts finding his way into the world (realising that interacting with others brings yet more issues and troubles into your life that then have to be confronted). Rei is one of those characters I can relate to, that I want to help, that makes me cry, that makes me cheer, that just draws me in makes me hang on their every word and wonder why they did what they did and want to watch a show again and again to see if I can understand the character better. My best descriptor for Rei: Unforgettable.

My favourite male character list is complete but who was on yours after 2017?


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Karandi James.

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Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens Episode 3: Game On

Review:

Well, this anime just became my favourite of this season (still sitting underneath March Comes in Like a Lion which carried over from last season). The first two episodes interested me and started getting me drawn into these characters and their world but episode 3 consolidated everything I wanted from this show. Between the great sound track, betrayals, murder, and all of the general chaos, this is a great start to a season.

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Saito decides to do something about his situation and seeks out the avengers to frame the guy who framed him (sounds like it could be fun). This plot doesn’t get a huge amount of development but the seeds are there and it is definitely going to mess up other plans later on. More importantly, at least Lin and everyone else is smart enough to realise Saito has clearly been framed and not one person actually believes he killed the girl.

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As for Lin, he gets a very cool opening sequence when he goes to confront his former boss. The boss kind of bothers me because he has had countless chances to actually kill Lin and each time he ends up gloating and not actually doing it. In the office he gloats about how he’s been pocketing the money that Lin thought he was sending to his mother (who has apparently been dead for five years). That’s kind of petty and gloating about it just makes this guy look even more pathetic. Though I guess then we don’t just wonder about why Lin isn’t dead at the end of the episode given this guy already has a clearly established M.O of talking too much.

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Meanwhile, Lin isn’t the only one being targeted now as Banba’s also stuck his nose in too far. Lin and Banba teaming up was inevitable so I’m glad they didn’t drag it out and have Lin act stubborn for half a season before they got to this point. Still, it won’t matter if they don’t find a way to avoid the hitman who is clearly going to be coming for them sooner rather than later.

Basically, this was a lot of fun (you know if you don’t mind murder in your stories) and there’s plenty of characters to like and despise in various measures and plenty of plots bubbling away. I’m looking forward to seeing where this should go next but I’m very glad I picked this show up this season.


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March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 37: Rei vs Souya

Review:

This was everything I could have wanted from a first match between these two characters. It wasn’t a major showdown but rather a peaceful and thought provoking game where Rei overcame both the mental hurdle of facing Souya and overcame the knowledge that he was going to lose after making a move he knew was wrong the moment he made it.

The game plays out quietly with only the commentary from the spectators (not in the same room) really providing any dialogue or sound outside of the pieces gently being placed upon the board. What I liked is that they showed us enough of the game to get  as sense of the game but they didn’t drag this on overly long so viewers shouldn’t find themselves wanting things to move along. The pacing of this game just kind of hit the mark it needed to hit.

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The second half of the episode then looks at the journey back to Tokyo which is broken in Sendai by the typhoon as the shinkansen (bullet train) is suspended. This is really where we get to see Rei and Souya interact and it is kind of surreal with the possibility that Souya can’t hear being raised. We also get to see Rei in a much different state of mind after losing a game then we’ve ever seen him before which is a testament to how far he has come mentally since the beginning of season 1.

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It will be interesting to see if they continue with these two next week or if they will skip over it but I feel there is probably more coming between these two. While this was a much more low key episode in comparison to the emotional punches of Hina’s arc in the first half of this season, this feels like a very necessary part of the story and I’m really loving seeing Rei in this space. Looking forward to next week.

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Record of Grancrest War Episode 4: Finally

Review:

There’s something deeply satisfying early in a story when the protagonist’s plans go awry. Later in the series it can feel like set-backs exist just to drag the plot out, but early on if victory is too simple there’s no reason to fret. Well, Record of Grancrest War gave us three episodes of very easy victory and things all going Theo and Siluca’s way and then we get to episode 4.

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Not once, but twice, Siluca is rebuked by her foster father for over-reaching and both times leads to some fairly severe consequences. Good fortune and protagonist plot armour see them saved at the end but that also isn’t without cost, though one could argue that Theo didn’t exactly work to broker the best deal and it would be nice to know more of what is going on in his head.

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Throw in some battle sequences that work well enough (animation is not this anime’s strong point but it isn’t hideous so we’ll leave it alone) in addition to the added emotional investment in the story and this episode finally took this show from enjoyable enough because I like fantasy to genuinely interesting as I ponder what it might do next. Now, it might just return to forgettable mediocrity but I’m kind of hopeful that this is a sign of things to come.


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Junji Ito Collection Episode 4: Did I Ever Mention I Find Puppets Creepy?

Review:

Once again we get two creepy stories with neither one really pushing into actually being scary so much as strange and a little unsettling. What horror I did find in the second story came from my own dislike of puppets and marionettes which was firmly embedded when I was a child. And, just saying, but that puppet was so creepy looking I can’t imagine anyone actually taking it with them when they ran away.

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The first story this week was kind of nothing. Creepy cursed object story but as usual this anime doesn’t take the time to build up the suspense of atmosphere and merely walks us through the events. While they are dark and the end is kind of tragic, it never really gives us a chance to feel for any of the characters leaving the end of that first story fairly empty.

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And so this series continues to be watchable but not really all that good.


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Karandi James.

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