Captain Earth Series Review: Earth is Doomed and As Usual Only a Group of Teens (And Robots) Can Save Us

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in July 2016 and can be found here.

Another post that originally I did in a plus/minus format and I’m going to try and untangle that a bit. This is an interesting series in that it is not exactly one I like but I find myself rewatching it on the odd occasion for whatever reason. As a result, I’m never really sure where I stand on it and so reviewing it kind of helps to sort out some of the clutter with this one. So without any further rambling, let’s get on with the review, and just a note there are some plot spoilers ahead.

Review:

There’s something about mecha anime that for whatever reason make me super critical before I start even watching them. It isn’t as though I dislike the genre given there are plenty of mecha anime I’ve enjoyed. I think the real issue is that the genre is a little hit and miss for me and as a general rule I go in expecting not to end up enjoying the show so the ones that work end up pleasantly enjoyable. Still, Captain Earth balances perilously in that inbetween area where I find myself enjoying it enough even as I laugh at the once again ineffectual adults who ultimately shove the entire fate of the earth onto some emotionally traumatised kids (admittedly, only two of the kids are human if that makes the concept any better).

Captain Earth at its core accepts what it is and what it is presenting. The planetary gears who act as the face of the villains for the majority of the series (before the real bad guys step forward – where have I seen that before) are as over the top ridiculous as you would expect and their motives more or less amount to being kids fighting over the largest scoop of ice-cream. About as effective too, because while they are squabbling the ice-cream probably melted and no one ended up with anything. There’s technobabble, there are the bureaucrats that get in the way, and then there are the troubled teens that all just want to help and be free and maybe pair up and live happily ever after.

This anime embraces that and makes it work. So while there is certainly plenty to mock if you are in the mood to mock, if what you want is another one of ‘those’ kinds of stories, you could do far worse than Captain Earth.

captain-earth

One of the best things about the anime are the way the characters are presented. Admittedly, all of the characters are barely fleshed out archetypes and copies of characters who have appeared in other mecha anime or the like and taken individually they don’t amount to much. However, when you step back and look at the whole cast as an ensemble and just the small touches given to them you start to notice how much thought was put into balancing the archetypes and roles. There’s no excess and some of the details are really fantastic. For instance, in the feature picture, the two ‘human’ characters in the group (Daichi and Akari) don’t zip their uniforms all the way whereas the two ‘non-human’ characters wear them completely zipped. It’s those little touches that show the individual attitudes and natures of the characters that are fun to spot throughout the series and they are consistent and actually meaningful.

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Though while I’m giving the characters props, I’m going to give the planetary gears the rant they deserve. Our villains are the most cliché driven and useless creatures in creation. Their motivations are actually endlessly explained. Why are they attacking the earth? Because humans are weak and insignificant and we can devour their libido. They tell us this over and over again. Whether it is the humans discussing the threat or the villains discussing their plans. Other than that, they just seem like highly sexually charged teenagers playing with toys and their planning sucks. Let’s try repeating the same sequence of events again. Oh, that didn’t work. Maybe if I try the exact same thing? How about you try it now?

Finding out that the planetary gears were also being manipulated from above was not a surprise. Given their singular lack of a master plan other than eat everything and the fact that most of their advice came from an outside source, the betrayal is pretty inevitable and by that stage you more or less have written off these guys as pathetic.

On the most recent rewatch, I started to like some of the planetary gears a little bit more as some of their interactions weren’t as over the top as I remembered, but they are still terrible villains and they really do let down what is an otherwise fairly competent cast and realistically, a lot of my rant should be saved for Salty Dog.

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These guys are the most nonsensical element of the whole show. It is like the writers knew they didn’t have enough conflict or drama with the planetary gears (given that they were useless and they needed recharging after every encounter so couldn’t attack next episode) so they threw in some of the most repugnant human beings they could find and gave them a position of authority. Delete all Salty Dog characters, cut down the number of episodes, and the anime still works and is probably the better for it. And realistically, this is probably the sticking point. Everything else in this anime is fine or actually quite good, but Salty Dog are neither interesting enough as villains or menacing enough to actually serve any purpose other than filling screen time.

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Moving away from the characters, this anime is pretty. And while prettiness isn’t reason enough to watch, it is enough to hold your interest in the down times between attacks and the like in this series. Some of the sequences on the space station are truly gorgeous and that’s probably a good thing given little else happens on the space station (a few major plot points aside). The animation is competent and each setting has its own unique kind of feel. They certainly go out of their way to romanticise the island setting and even the trip into space has a distinct look and feel about it.

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And of course, because we’re dealing with teenagers we’re going to go for a romance. It doesn’t matter that the world might end as long as we find out who ends up with who (okay, that’s a little depressing so we’ll move on from that thought). I’ll admit Daichi and Hana are adorable together but it is nice to see Akari and Teppei really grow as characters and help each other overcome their personal hang-ups. A lot of shows would have just kind of thrown these two together or left them as the friends of the actual couple we were supposed to be interested in, but these two really get the chance to shine throughout the mid-way parts of the anime. They get a little sidelined at the end, but they aren’t the protagonists so it kind of had to happen. Still, Akari’s magical girl act and Teppei’s slow growth to becoming more human, is one of the real strengths of this anime.

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However, two years ago when I wrote my first review, the biggest minus of all was the failure of the plot and I have to admit, watching Captain Earth again for this review just reminded me of how big of a plot failure there is. Wow, I gave Darling in the Franxx some smack talk and yet this anime probably does just as much wrong from a plot point of view and yet I remember it affectionately. Amazing what seeing something when you are younger and more impressionable will do for your view on it.

After a barrage of half-hints and the like during the first few episodes the story then eschews all sense of mystery and just kind of hits you with enough made-up jargon to drown you in it. Following that, we settle into a rinse and repeat battle of attrition with the planetary gears. During this, a betrayal occurs (and I’ll leave that one a mystery) that leaves a new villain to move behind the scenes to set up a final confrontation that still doesn’t seem to have all that much in the way of purpose, and to distract us from this we have the Salty Dog group hindering our heroes for no apparent purpose other than ‘because’. Finally, we all get in a space ship and fly to Uranus for a smack down that happens but doesn’t and then some of us race back to earth where an even more confused smack down occurs and then somehow we all end up okay. Right.

So nothing wrong with that convoluted mess of a plot.

If you don’t think about the details it is straight forward. Kid admires father. Becomes hero in his own right. Get’s the girl. Unfortunately the details plastered on that are persistent and very hard to overlook and why should we even try. There’s also enough jargon and babble thrown at you that you keep feeling like perhaps there should be a decent plot under all of that and yet really it is the kid becomes the hero, saves the world and gets the girl plot made convoluted because its fun to try to be pretzel?

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This all brings me back to my original point. This is not a particularly good anime. The story does not hold up when judged objectively on its own merits. That was true when I first saw it, it was true after watching it again, it is true two years later when I’ve revisited it.

And yet, I like this anime.

I genuinely enjoy it for what it is and I enjoy the cast enough that even when they are taking the absurd far too seriously I can just kind of go with it. The kids get into dangerous situations and at times sustain injuries, but it isn’t angsty for the sake of it and even though these kids all have their own traumas they are genuinely fairly happy teens (all things considered). It makes a refreshing change and they bring a bit of warmth and charm to a concept that isn’t new in any way.

Sure, this won’t work for everyone but there is fun to be found in Captain Earth.

If you’ve ever had the chance to see it, I’d love to know your thoughts.


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Karandi James

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CAPTAIN EARTH: COLLECTION 1

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A Special Halloween Top 5: Spirits, Ghosts, and Dead People – With Luminous Mongoose

Luminous Mongoose has had a busy month organising a number of collaborative top 5 lists for the spooky season. I was really happy they asked me to be a part of it, though I definitely struggled with time management (it has been a really busy month). Still, I love Halloween and all things creepy so getting to put together a list of top 5 ghosts seemed like a great idea.

Anyway, I’ve got the start of the list (5 – 3) but if you want to see who my favourite ghost/spirit character is, and Lumi’s, than you will have to jump over to their blog. Hopefully you enjoy the list and as always, I’d love to know which characters you would have included on your list.

Number 5:

Karandi’s Pick – Atsushi – Natsuyuki Rendezvous

Atsushi

He’s the jealous husband who literally won’t go away and when the new part timer who has eyes on his wife notices him, Atsushi starts out trying to drive him away. When that is unsuccessful, he takes a new approach convincing him to share his body and allow the ghost to speak with his wife. Needless to say Atsushi has a few other things in mind.

Lumi’s Pick – Son Goku (While he was dead after fighting Cell) – Dragon Ball

Son Goku.jpg

Okay, so right off the bat, counting Goku as a ghost will tell you that I’m being very loose with the entries on this list. While Goku has died as much as he has children and grandchildren, I always enjoyed his character the most when he was just a ghost exploring the afterlife of the Dragonball universe, and spectating on the affairs of his friends and family. The biggest reason why I included him here is thanks to the image above, which is the iconic Father-Son Kamehameha. Not only is it a beautiful shot, it also represents Goku passing on the torch to his son as the next savior of Earth, and it was a great send off for one of action shounen’s most iconic heroes.

At least until GT and Super crapped all over that.

Number 4:

Karandi’s Pick – Yuuko – Dusk Maiden of Amnesia

Yuuko4

She’s forgotten plenty but Yuuko has finally found someone who can see her and she’s ready to have fun exploring the mysteries of the old school house and generally mess around. Equally alluring and scary, Yuuko appears as people think she will and she uses this to her advantage as the ghost president of the supernatural research club.

Lumi’s Pick – No Face – Spirited Away

No Face.png

No Face is a very simple but effective character. We have no clues as to his motivations, nor does he ever even string together complete sentences. All we know is that he wants to be friends with Chihiro, and gets cranky when he doesn’t get what he wants. It’s a strange thing to see a possibly centuries-old spirit act like a spoiled child, but it really works for the bizarre tone of Spirited Away. His design is  creepy and off-putting, while still being distinctly Ghibli, and that lands him a spot at number 4.

Number 3:

Karandi’s Pick Yukine – Noragami

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Okay, probably not technically a ghost but he is the spirit of a dead boy who was reforged into a weapon for a god so I’m still throwing him in my list. He’s a fantastic character and while at first he comes off kind of sullen and one dimensional, his growth as a character over the two seasons of Noragami are a delight.

Lumi’s Pick – Fuko Ibuki – Clannad

Fubo Ibuki.png

Okay, major spoilers for the first arc of Clannad, so feel free to skip this if you somehow haven’t watched KyoAni’s magnum opus in terms of drama.

Having Fuko on here could be considered cheating since she is TECHNICALLY not dead, but she is the spirit of a girl in a coma, so I’m counting it. Just like Yuuko from Dusk Maiden of Amnesia, Fuko is a mysterious girl who is apparently tied to the school in some way, and has no memory of who they are.

When I first watched Clannad, I thought it was just gonna be a straightforward slice of life highschool drama, mysterious robot and girl in an astral plane aside. The reveal of her true nature was legitimately surprising and the mystery of it was intriguing.

She was the introduction of the supernatural element to the story which becomes a huge deal in the later arcs, and her arc was the highlight of my time with Clannad’s first season. Plus, her sudden reintroduction as a gag character despite her very heartfelt and emotional ending was hilarious and still completely in-character, so she makes the list at number 3!

And that’s our list numbers 5 – 3. Again, be sure to check out Luminous Mongoose’s post for the rest of the list.


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Karandi James

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GHOST TRICK: PHANTOM DETECTIVE

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 5: Past Wrongs and Future Destinies

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 5

I’m going to start with the whole elven fortune telling thing that happened in the bar, apparently as some kind of entertainment while the dwarven smith guy was still treating Rimuru for making all those swords. Mostly because the episode kind of buried this part underneath yet more close ups of elven breasts and cheesy dialogue but it actually kind of intrigued me given the image we see in the crystal ball. Of course, then the guy who doesn’t like the dwarven smith comes over and makes a big deal about Rimuru being a monster and a fight breaks out so this part of the episode is pretty much shelved and forgotten. Part of me wonders if this is deliberate to make me intrigued and the other part of me, the cynical part, is more concerned that this was a their best effort and foreshadowing that we’re going to get. Because needless to say, we haven’t had a lot of other foreshadowing, unless the King muttering something about Rimuru being a monster at the end counts.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 5

Anyway, putting that to the side as clearly it is a discussion to have later in the series when it has either done something with it or just forgotten about it, the rest of this episode focuses on the dwarf smith and his relationship with his former subordinate who apparently framed him and now continues to harass him with more or less impossible requests. A punch to the face was probably warranted but it does lead to the dwarves and Rimuru getting put back in the jail cell with Gobta (who at least the show acknowledges was forgotten but then they promptly go and forget him again).

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 5

The practical upshot of this is that the dwarf decides he doesn’t need to hang around any longer and agrees to leave the city to work fro Rimuru, so clearly Rimuru’s whole building a village plan is right on track. Unless of course the Dwarves get executed which given the nature of that court system may have happened. I actually really wanted more time spent on this sequence because there are literally a thousand questions about how such a legal system exists and how open it is to corruption and none of them will be addressed because for the first time ever this anime seems in a hurry to get to the next thing. But really, there’s no way this system works. There isn’t even a thin illusion that this might be justice.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 5

I will give this episode credit though because of all the episodes so far, this is the one that has given me the most to think about and the most enjoyment. I really liked seeing the exchange between the King and the dwarf and I really liked the King afterwards putting the other idiot in his place. I think the more this world expands the more interested I’m getting in it, though clearly not enough to remember pretty much any of the character’s names so far but I’ll probably get there (or I’ll look them up).

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Karandi James

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THAT TIME I GOT REINCARNATED AS A SLIME FACE CUSHION: RIMURU TEMPEST

Tsurune Episode 2: Finding Your Target

Tsurune Episode 2

There’s a couple of things Tsurune has gotten very right that makes this anime a fairly solid show and one I want to follow right from the beginning. Comparing to the other sports anime I’m watching at the moment, Run With The Wind, I feel I’ve clicked a bit more with this one. While Minato is also reluctant to continue in his chosen sport, unlike Run With The Wind, the other characters aren’t coercing and forcing him back. They are certainly nagging and encouraging (and a little overly intrusive), but ultimately the choice that he makes in this episode is his own decision that he has come to after his own reflection.

Tsurune  Episode 2 Seiya

The other thing that really grabs me in this story so far, other than just being gorgeous to watch, is that so far Minato, and all of the other characters, don’t appear to have some high minded goal like be the best in Japan or win some competition. The goal so far is to re-establish the archery club and now there’s a tournament they’ve decided to try entering, but ambition is so far being kept in check. Minato has been shown to be pursuing a sound and striving for the form that will given him that, and the other characters haven’t really established their motives just yet. I’m certain that at some point these guys will aim to win something, but so far it is more about pursuing the sport than pursuing victory and I really kind of appreciate that.

Tsurune Episode 2 Minato and Who
Did they really just name the owl W’ho’?

I did however have to do a double take in this episode, literally stopping and video and going back, and I’m certain that’s what they intended, when they suggested Takigawa was actually a ghost. It was a well executed moment because while you don’t really think this is an anime that is likely to actually have a ghost, it leaves you in just enough doubt that when Minato dives to stop him shooting the last arrow you are kind of glad, even if it does all turn out to be a silly misunderstanding.

Tsurune Episode 2

There’s a really relaxed feeling so far to this story but at the same time it feels like these characters have begun moving forward even as we’re only really just getting to meet them. Visually it has been pretty amazing with only a few group scenes where extras have looked a little bit off, and the music and environmental sounds have so far been really solid. I’m really enjoying this so far and I hope it continues as it has so far and I’d really like to start to get to know the rest of the cast a bit better now.

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Karandi James

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NINTENDO LEGEND OF ZELDA RUCK SACK BACKPACK

Tuesday’s Top 5: 90’s Horror Movies for Halloween Binge Watching

Now we come to the final Halloween top 5 post and while I’d love to do another anime binge list, there just aren’t enough new horror anime to really justify it this year. So instead I decided to turn my attention to the movies that made me the ridiculous horror fan I am today. Given I was only 16 when the 90’s ended, I probably shouldn’t have watched most of these movies during the 90’s but I definitely did. I loved them. And this list is just the tip of the ice-berg.

For this binge list I decided to go for teen horror flicks that deliver every cliche in the book and are perfect for a drinking/chocolate game while watching. For instance, every time they knowingly discuss a horror trope, eat an M&M. Whether you were a child of the 90’s or not, I’d love to know what your favourite 90’s horror movies are and what you plan to watch for Halloween so please be sure to leave me a comment below.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: The Blair Witch Project – I couldn’t not mention this movie given it kind of started a whole trend in horror films with shaky-cam, but at the same time it just isn’t as fun as some of the others on this list to watch. Still, worth the mention.

Number 5: The Craft

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Starting with a classic teen horror where four teens turn their hand to witch craft with some interesting results. When Sarah decides they’ve gone to far the other three turn against her leading to one magical and messed up confrontation. Don’t watch if you are afraid of snakes, just saying. Do however watch if you love 90’s movie soundtracks because The Craft has an absolutely awesome one.

Number 4: Scream

Scream - Movie

A second Neve Campbell film on the list, she did get around. This one however had to be on the list. From the epic Drew Barrymore death scene that opens it, to the endless number of horror tropes they manage to stuff in all the while reciting self-aware dialogue that just makes horror fans laugh, Scream does it all. And just remember, if the killer is in your house you should run out the door and not up the stairs. Also remember, the sequels definitely had diminishing returns. Stick to the first, it is definitely the best.

Number 3: Urban Legend

Urban Legend

Is there anything better than a movie featuring a group of college students getting killed using classic urban legends? Probably plenty given this movie is cheesy over the top melodrama with some fairly fine examples of by the numbers acting, and yet taken another way it is hilarious to watch and most of the characters end up coming to sticky endings. Warning on this one about the puppy in the microwave (flinch).

Number 2: The Faculty

The Faculty

Okay, sick of killer teens and college students? Always believed your teachers were evil? Well, The Faculty delivers a modern take on The Body Snatchers with aliens invading the sleepy little town and taking over the staff of the school before moving onto the students. Parasites crawl inside and take over the host leaving them incredibly strong and with a powerful thirst. Let’s assemble the crack team of students including the new girl, the geek, the popular girl, the football guy, the social outcast, and the delinquent and see if they can save the world.

Number 1: Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow

Right, so Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci may have a lot to do with this taking the number one spot. Okay, everything to do with it. I love these two in movies and the two of them together was always going to be brilliant. Add in a fairly macabre tale of the headless horseman, ‘modern’ detective skills, and revenge and you have yourself a fairly great movie to watch. Christopher Walken also delivers an excellent performance given his brief time on screen.

So what are you waiting for? Which 90’s horror film would you add onto the list? Or what do you plan to watch this Halloween?


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Karandi James

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YAMISHIBAI:

Skull-Face Bookseller Honda-San Episode 4: We’ve All Been There

Skull Face Bookseller Honda-san Episode 4

One thing that continues to be a great draw with this anime is the fact that Honda-San is kind of a great stand-in for the average and everyday viewer who works a day job, probably as part of a larger organisation, and is generally not in a position of great power within said organisation. As such, it makes the events fairly relatable even though most of us probably don’t work in book shops.

Skull-Face Book Seller Honda-San Episode 4

This week particularly, takes Honda out of the books shop and sends him to training and I think I really finally clicked with this character as the sinking feeling he was experiencing on entering kind of matched a feeling I’ve felt many times before as I’ve gone into workshops and training sessions.

Skull Face Book Seller Honda San Episode 4

It isn’t that Honda is resistant to learning, obstinate, or wanting to cause trouble. It is more the excessive enthusiasm with which the trainer’s take on the role of something as basic as smiling and the cringe worthy lengths they go to in order to impart some of their wisdom on their somewhat reluctant students. However, the anime also makes it clear that the actual concept of training in customer service isn’t actually a problem and the trainers aren’t actually evil.

Skull Face Book Seller Honda San Episode 4

Still, eleven minutes doesn’t give a lot to work with so while the scenario is a nice snap shot and most of the audience should be able to really relate this week, the anime doesn’t quite go so far as commentary. There doesn’t feel like there’s any message here other than just one that observes the idiosyncrasies within corporate structures and the zany people you will meet along the way. Maybe that is enough but it would have been nice to see this one push a little further along.

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Karandi James

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GATE: JIEITAI KANOCHI NITE, KAKU TATAKAERI WATER-REPELLENT SHOULDER TOTE BAG: RORY MERCURY

Release the Spyce Episode 4: It’s All About Mei and Fu

Release the Spyce Episode 4 Mei and Fu

You know, there are secret organisations afoot, drugs being traded, human experimentation, and all kinds of weird, but for whatever reason this anime feels that spending an episode dealing with the mentor-student relationship of Mei and Fu is the absolute best thing it can show us. This episode really does make it clear that despite the trappings of a spy story, at heart this one just wants to be a cute girls in a club kind of thing and the only real difference is occasionally they face life threatening situations.

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That doesn’t make this bad, but it does mean that the threat and the spy side of this story really aren’t to be taken overly seriously. I mean, who cares about all of the secret agent type stuff when there are household accounts to balance?

Spyce4a

If it seems I’m being a little snarky it is probably because I don’t know that either the audience or the characters gained anything from this episode. I mean, sure, Mei and Fu go through a bunch of stuff, end up fighting, after that gets Mei hurt on a mission Fu moves out, but then they reconcile and take down the random token drug dealer Fu had spotted earlier in the episode. Fu realises that her mentor does appreciate her and they all live happily ever…

Wait, why did we need a whole episode to come to that realisation?

Spyce4d

I’ve described this show as average, and realistically it still is. But the bottom line is it isn’t a particularly compelling cute girls in a club kind of thing nor is it a very competent story about a team of female spies, so what we’re ending up with is a tepid serving of both genres and it makes for a viewing experience that is kind of good enough but not particularly memorable.

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Karandi James

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KIZUNA AI 1ST PHOTO ALBUM

Castlevania Season 2 Series Review: Oh Look, We Got The End Of The Season

Castlevania Season 2 Promotional Image

I mentioned repeatedly in my season 1 review of this that it really wasn’t a season. It was a taste test. A preview or introduction to a series that hadn’t been fully made before release. Here, with the so called season 2, we get the rest of the season bringing the total episode count now to 12 which is pretty much a standard season. So other than a prolonged gap during which time I forgot most of the pertinent details forcing me to rewatch the first four episodes before getting into this, was there any real purpose to this? All I can figure is that they really weren’t sure of their market and wouldn’t commit the resources but that’s a really terrible way to deliver a story as all it really did was make the faults of this second season more apparent.

See, there’s a flow to stories. When you get caught up in them, it is easy to miss small details or to stop yourself from asking hard questions or picking at the edges to see what falls out. But once the story has had a jarring pause and you’ve had months plus a rewatch to contemplate, it is much harder to become immersed in the world. Particularly when the series itself seems to be doing everything possible to stop you.

Castlevania Season 2 Camilla and Hector

Now, that isn’t to say Castlevania is bad. Because, it actually is quite a fun little romp of a story provided the copious blood and guts being splashed around aren’t a problem and the clear sequel bait endings for the surviving cast members doesn’t annoy. If this had come out in a solid chunk and I’d binged the 12 episodes altogether, I’d have had an absolute blast and while I still probably would have noted a few of the flaws, I don’t think I would have been as disappointed.

I was going to try to start positive but I realised that every positive I have for this season comes with a caveat so we’re just going to have to wade right in and hope we don’t sink.

If you like your blood and violence (and if you made it through the first four episodes the answer to that is probably yes), then season 2 is going to deliver. However, there’s a different kind of feel to it. Whereas season 1 had kind of a cruel humour with its demons running from the city carrying an infant (the excess of this imagery just made it more amusing than horrific and maybe that’s saying something terrible about me) and Trevor’s whip cracking removing eyes and the like. It was excessive but fun. It was almost pushing things to the absurdist level as it rained fire and blood down upon the masses. Season 2 sadly lacks any of this kind of edge and instead we are left with vampires tearing through small packs of fleeing humans and a few fights between various demons and Trevor, Sypha and Alucard. These conflicts are still bloody but nowhere near the same level as the city slaughtering madness that the first four episodes threw at us.

Castlevania Season 2 Trevor

And that seems to be a reoccurring theme of season 2. We get more of things given there are more episodes, but at the same time it is less. There’s less impact, less care, and generally less involvement. The church that was such a threat in season one gets some mentions but otherwise are completely absent from the conflict. The vampires spend more time squabbling amongst themselves inside the castle and Trevor, Sypha and Alucard spend an inordinate amount of time investigating the museum that is Trevor’s family vault. With the three main groups separated for vast spans of time (and the church more or less vanishing) there’s a lot of waiting for things to get moving. It doesn’t help that the vampires barely attack anything during the run of the eight episodes here so unless you are fresh on the memory of season one you may not even really remember why we should care about Dracula’s whole kill all the humans plan.

But, we’ve just gotten to my big issue with this second season. Dracula. In season one, the time we spent with him was not great but it was well used time. They built up a very strong impression of this character who was literally larger than life. His love for his wife, his fury at her loss, the pain he felt and his anger being distributed amongst the masses in a slaughter that wasn’t justified but understandable. Here, well Dracula is just a hollow shell waiting to be killed (as more than one character points out). There’s a clever line from Alucard about this whole massacre thing just being a really long suicide note, and he’s right but that just kind of makes Dracula’s character seem even more hollow. The fire and fury is gone and we never even got to see it fade. We went from this extraordinary and imposing menace to the guy who spent nearly eight episodes sitting in his chair staring at the fireplace and occasionally having one on one chats with the various minions who were all scheming around him as he sat more or less oblivious or indifferent.

Castlevania Season 2 Dracula

Perhaps if we’d seen this transition and the slow loss of his connection to the war he started and the drive he had, it might have played out more emotionally. However, the transition happened off screen. One season we see him in one form and now here he is a different and much less interesting one.

They do fill a lot of the screen time with his followers though. The majority of the vampire characters are either glorified extras or just annoying, with Camilla being a notable exception. That said, her character remains more or less on the side of things and ultimately hers is a story unresolved so there’s little satisfaction to be found in this one. Also, her sudden swearing at various points might have been amusing but it kind of seemed vastly out of character for her (plenty of other characters swear and that’s fine, but it just sounded so wrong coming from Camilla – and not just because she was female but rather because it seemed like it didn’t fit with the rest of her persona). The two human generals Dracula acknowledges could have both been interesting but instead they come off as fairly cheap characters with contrasting ends just for the sake of it.

It might be fair to say that none of these characters left an impression, except that even when they are just stuffing around in a library, Trevor and Sypha have real chemistry and the addition of Alucard’s comments and provocations actually just worked really well. Every moment spent with the main group (and admittedly, there weren’t enough moments spent with them) was purely fun and once the fighting started things got very good very quickly. It’s just a shame that there’s so much down time focusing on things that aren’t really all that interesting first.

Sypha - Castlevania

I mean, there are questions about Sypha’s seemingly unlimited magical reserves and Trevor not being totally dead because even though he’s from a family of monster hunters he is actually a human, and Alucard just kind of does whatever because apparently half-vampire means worse than a full vampire though how that works is unclear… but none of this matters. This group is awesome fun. Let’s see more of them.

All and all, watching both season 1 and 2 of Castlevania together won’t be a bad watch. There’s plenty to enjoy – again though with a warning about the blood and gore, it is definitely a feature. However, this isn’t something that is unmissable and it probably won’t be remembered for long. But hey, whips, swords, magic, vampire killing… It is all good fun just remember not to ask too many questions.

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Karandi James

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DEMON CASTLE DRACULA X: NOCTURNE IN THE MOONLIGHT ORIGINAL GAME SOUNDTRACK

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 4: Ditch The Main Cast And Go For A Ride

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 4

Theoretically we might have met a lot more of these characters before than I remember. I haven’t watched seasons one and two of this for awhile but I’m going to be honest and just say that I recognised maybe four characters in this episode. The rest of the time we were just blipping between groups of people and locations as everyone kind of went about either planning to do something or planning to foil someone else’s plan and lots of stuff went boom in between.

Index4d

Part of me wonders if everyone just realised that Touma is a really boring character and that Index contributes nothing given the two of them were completely absent for the entire duration. Now, at first I tried to rationalise this by thinking that maybe they still weren’t back in academy city but that logic doesn’t really work when Tsuchimikado and Accelerator are both running around in this episode. Alternatively, Touma is probably back in hospital again but given Accelerator went by the hospital to harass the only doctor who ever appears in this anime at one point, we could have at least seen Touma in a scene to confirm that. So basically, Touma’s just vanished and apparently the audience isn’t supposed to ask why or where. I’m sure he’ll turn up later in this particular story and solve everything by punching something but in the meantime I guess all these characters are a lot more interesting even if I have no idea who most of them are.

Index4c

The episode is very concerned with you not getting bored though. We’ve got one group taking some guy into custody before the truck gets bisected and the guy gets killed by another group who are apparently planning an assassination to act as a decoy for stealing some long titled widget from a lab. But another group are annoyed about that and are going after them as well leading to a wrecking ball going through a truck and a guy jumping off a roof. And there’s yet another group that blew up the apartment that belonged to a guy in the group that took the first guy into custody and then the guy who owned the apartment apparently used Aztec magic to turn himself into one of the group and infiltrated it and they are apparently trying to steal a computer virus (or something) as a decoy because they are actually after another lab that has something to do with a satellite.

Did I mention somewhere in there we also got a quick scene of Last Order being taken home from the hospital? I’m sure that is somehow important but can’t for the life of me figure out why.

Index4a

Right, I have no idea what is going on. Or why. And for some reason I don’t really care because this was really fun to watch even without much of a context. I’m just going to assume eventually this will all make sense, and in the meantime the characters can all just keep running around and making things go boom.

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Karandi James

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A CERTAIN MAGICAL INDEX: COMPLETE SEASON 1