Kenja no Mago Review Episode 6

The typical ‘work together’ message undermined by super powered teen.

Episode 6

Kenja no Mago shows us the right way to blow off some steam… Okay, maybe not but I have to admit that Shin made that look so satisfying even if the results were kind of destructive.

The war ended up being pretty abrupt, much like its set-up really. One minute they are fighting and then the empire realises there are demons in their capital and return just in time for the guy who declared war to be killed by Schrom in a fairly confronting early scene this episode. I will point out, I’ll give the demonoid points for at least knowing that if he wants to make sure someone is dead you do have to kill them yourself. Most villains never get this point down which is why they end up losing.

Finally a villain that makes at least a little sense.

Still, the realisation that there are plenty of demonoids around and that they aren’t exactly what the original description of them made them out to be, gives this narrative plenty of fodder for future confrontations for Shin. We already know Schrom at least managed to survive a fight with Shin and so overpowered or not, if Shin has to fight all of them he’s going to struggle alone.

Which might be the whole point of the get along and work with friends message of the rest of the episode.

The Knight School and the Magic School run some joint training in the forest but the Knights and the Magicians absolutely don’t get on despite clearly having complementary abilities. I think the point was supposed to be for the group to learn how to get on but then somewhere along the way that message got dropped and we got another round of isn’t Shin awesome as a horde of demons stormed toward them and Shin wiped them all out.

This is just asking to become a meme.

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Naturally he was in a bad mood because the Knights had started fawning over Sicily and we got another round of the two kids blushing and denying but not denying a relationship.

Honestly, as silly as this anime is and as cliché as a lot of the developments are, it actually just makes me smile while watching and I’m quite enjoying it. There’s certainly no argument to be made that this is brilliant. The static images with panning during the war sequence and demon invasion of the city displays the corner cutting and averageness of the visuals, even if the off-model faces from a distance on almost every character didn’t, but that doesn’t actually take away from the enjoyment of the overall experience.

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Attack on Titan Review Season Three Part Two Episode Four

The Last Charge

Levi and Erwin - Attack on Titan Season 3 Part Two

Episode 4

In my review of episode 2, I said there was a real pleasure in seeing the humans occasionally looking like they might come out on top. The key phrase being ‘looking like they might’. See, realistically what hooked me into Attack on Titan in season one was how utterly brutal it was and seeing the humans getting beaten down and driven into a corner. The humans who broke and the humans who stood and fight and the utter indifference the titan showed regardless of the character of the human in front of them.

Simple and yet effective destruction and absolutely devastating to the human characters.

Therefore, it kind of makes sense that episode 4 of season three part two (that is such a mouthful) hit me very much like the very first episode of Attack on Titan. While for a lot of season three (part 1 and now part 2) I’ve been finding reasons to enjoy it again and new respect for the characters, this episode actually managed to bring back the awe and the very real horror of the situation the characters are in.

There were so many moments that just left me breathless and I watched many sections multiple times just to try and absorb and process what had happened. It wasn’t that the episode was fast paced. Arguably, it is quite slow in how it moves forward. It is more that each event is so pivotal to this fight and there’s so many emotions attached with each section that my brain just froze and I had to watch it again.

Titan Eren vs Colossal Titan.
Eren tries to take on the Colossal Titan.

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Whether it was Armin freezing in his role and then throwing the torch to Jean in an act of desperation, Mikasa’s reaction to Eren getting kicked through the air to land atop the wall, the scouts freaking out as yet more groups are wiped out in an instant as the beast titan flung broken boulders at them, or Erwin’s ‘motivating’ speech before the last charge, every single moment just hit hard. Everything is so raw and human as characters faced with an insurmountable challenge either crumble or attempt to rally for a last act of defiance and it is beautifully brutal in its delivery.

I really wish I knew what was with this guy’s hair.

It has been a fair while since I’ve really gotten this swept up in an episode of Attack on Titan but realistically there isn’t a thing about this episode I would change. It just worked. And while we’ll once again have to wait for the next episode to really see the outcome, I’m actually happy for now. I need the time to contemplate and digest and that is the mark of a really solid episode of anything.

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Review Light Novel Volume 11

MY HERO ACADEMIA - 2018 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
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The higher the rise, the harder the fall.

Bell’s reputation took a serious hit at the end of volume 10. The people of Orario saw him stand between adventurers and monsters and in the end they now see him as someone who puts his own needs above protecting them from monsters. However it isn’t just Bell who has been affected as his whole familia is now on the back-foot with everyone wanting to take their shot at the family that rose to fame so quickly.

It is a really interesting turning point in the series as prior to this Bell was looked down on for being small or inexperienced. Then he began his rise to fame and gained respect from so many people and other adventurers that while there was jealousy and some hostility, for the most part Bell has had a steady climb in status over the previous 10 books.

Volume 11 turns the tone of the series on its head. Seeing Bell despised is actually kind of hard, particularly when as the reader you know what bell was actually trying to do and you also know that even if he explained it very few would listen to him or take his side. And that’s the strength of this volume. Bell is in a position where he has to gain back some of the trust that has been lost or it is more or less the end for his familia, but at the same time he can’t turn his back on the xenos. This conundrum nearly paralyses him and makes any action seem more or less impossible. Harder still when even those in his familia are starting to wonder if the cost of helping the xenos was too high.

That said, Bell has drawn the attention of quite a number of gods through his meteoric rise and they aren’t happy to leave things as they stand either. The question is, will their meddling make things better or worse and will Bell be happy with the outcome?

While earlier books in this series were fun and exuberant as Bell launched into new adventures and took on new foes, volume 11 brings a much more serious tone to the entire story. It is no longer a simple matter of monsters bad, kill the monsters, and Bell as a character is forced to grow beyond the naive youth he’s represented previously.

The situation also strains a lot of the pre-existing relationships and forces characters to question the basis of those relationships and whether or not they can continue. Particularly strained is the relationship between Ais and Bell as Bell put himself directly in Loki familia’s way during the previous volume and the conflict between them isn’t over as Loki familia works to restore the status quo.

On the one hand, I kind of preferred the light and energetic tone in earlier volumes but on the other, I really enjoy watching Bell grow up. This volume gives him a lot of time to really question his goals and what he wants and I feel in terms of the greater narrative it does an excellent job even if it wasn’t quite as fun individually to read.

Despite the more contemplative tone, volume 11 does deliver a thrilling climatic battle on par with any that we’ve seen so far. Bell is going to get pushed to the limit physically and emotionally before this book is done and while this volume does bring a nice conclusion to the current arc, it also leaves you wanting the next book.

Clearly I enjoyed reading volume 11 of Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon and I’m looking forward to seeing Bell after this book to see what lasting impact these events have had.

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Fruits Basket Review Episode 7

Changing Emotions Like the Seasons

Hatori and Kana - Fruits Basket 2019

Episode 7

The story of Hatori and Kana was one of my favourite moments in the original anime series so I will admit to being both excited and nervous as to how it would play out in the 2019 version of Fruits Basket. Fortunately, this episode was everything I could have wanted and all the characters, Momoji, Hatori, Honda and Shigure just shine throughout their interactions.

Hatori and Honda - Fruits Basket 2019

I loved that this episode gave us a real sense of the size and wealth of the Soma clan. This is something I felt was missing from the original anime and it always felt like we were told about the clan rather than seeing it. However, in a few brief moments and a little bit of dialogue Fruits Basket manages to impress upon Honda just how big the Soma’s are as well as give the audience a sense of the family. The visuals while Momoji and Honda are walking to Hatori’s house begin the process and then as Momoji explains about the inside and outside people the rest of the picture falls into place.

However, the true star of the episode is Hatori. I always really enjoyed his character and his backstory is great. He’s a character I wanted to know more about in the original, because even though we know about his first love there’s so much we don’t know about him and his ability to erase memories that was just never explored in the original anime. I really feel the way he was set-up in this episode was fantastic and I’d love to see more of this Hatori in future episodes.

Shigure’s appearance was timely and amusing as always and the relationship between Shigure and Hatori was delightful to see. With the story so often focusing on the younger members of the clan, seeing Shigure and Hatori and realising that they’ve gone through a lot of the same things that Soma and Momoji are going through was great and I look forward to more of them as well as some of the other characters we’ve yet to meet.

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While this episode didn’t have any explosive moments it focused very much on the family and what Honda’s presence may mean in the future. It gave the whole episode a subdued tone but one that leaves you wanting more. Absolutely lovely episode.

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Amazing Stranger Review Episodes 5 + 6

Battle of the Female Figures

Episode 5

As bizarre as it is to say, episode 5 was kind of fun. They kept going with the plot set up last episode where Haruto was drawn into Bellnoa’s game and the two of them travel about before taking on a castle. Some fairly standard things happen (or standard based on the premise of this anime) in that Haruto is attacked by a hot ninja girl and he and Bellnoa get close around a camp fire. Meanwhile Nona is watching on and with the aid of another living figure is ultimately able to enter the game.

What I particularly liked about this episode was Haruto’s realisation that the reason Bellnoa didn’t want to finish the game was because she was obsessed with travelling around and levelling up and part of that was his fault for the way he played the game. Now I feel bad for every character I’ve ever created because I know I don’t exactly go straight to the finish and there are more than a few games in the backlog that I’ve just never made it to the end of.

Now, there is definitely fan-service here as the demon king of karma blows Bellnoa’s clothes clean off of her in a fight (amazing how that happens in anime and movies without injuring the person) and there’s also Haruto’s eyeing off the ninja girl but nothing extreme.

This seems a sensible reaction.

Realistically, episode 5 is about as much as you can expect from this anime. It progressed the plot, continued to set some stuff up for future development, fleshed out Bellnoa’s character, and allowed Nona to play the role of concerned wife. It all just kind of worked even if it wasn’t particularly amazing.

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Episode 6

Episode 6 of Amazing Stranger is absurd, but given the context of the show where figures and game characters have come to life it really isn’t too much of a leap that the two characters fighting over Haruto would challenge each other to a fight and then spend the rest of the run time trying to one up each other in terms of sleeping next to Haruto, whispering in his ear, feeding him and so on. It is most definitely pandering to a particular audience and yet still kind of amusing.

What makes this work is both Bellnoa and Nona remain true to their character types in how they take on each of these challenges and ultimately the back and forth between the two is always kind of energised and entertaining. Haruto remains the dullest of the three as he just gets to play the embarrassed geek while the girls fawn over him.

I will say the scene with the two whispering sweet nothings into his ears was probably the icing on the cake. For my pick, I’d go Bellnoa has the better voice for whispering with Nona’s high pitch getting in the way of really creating the experience, but listen to the scene yourself and see which whisper works best for you.

While the winner was a foregone conclusion from the start, and the competition was ridiculous and contrived drama for the sake of it, I can’t say I disliked this episode. Amazing Stranger is well aware that it isn’t meant to be taken seriously and so just went with their premise this week and the end result was something that entertained but doesn’t work if you start asking any questions of it.

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Top 5 Mystery Anime

Tuesday's Top 5

A lot of people love a good mystery. Okay, some people get frustrated and skip to the end when it is a book, but given the consistent production and sales of mysteries there’s clearly an audience. I’ll admit, I get frustrated when a mystery takes too long to get going, doesn’t give enough indication of where it is going, or the payoff ultimately wasn’t worth the wait, but when a mystery gets things right I tend to fall in love with the story.

Anime and mystery is a bit of a mixed bag and I will admit my choices of favourite mysteries are based entirely on my own enjoyment of the story as a whole. Which is why Hyouka isn’t on the list. I loved the first arc and first mystery but found everything after that a little less satisfying. The Promised Neverland I really enjoyed but not for the mystery elements, same for something like Erased.

However, as always, I’d love to know what some of your favourite mystery anime are and why so be sure to leave me a comment below.

Number 5: Sagrada Reset

Also known as Sakurada Reset a lot of people dropped this anime fairly early on and I’ll accept the reasons they gave. The character dialogue is really clinical and detached and doesn’t resemble anything you would actually encounter between normal humans. The pace early on is incredibly slow and while there are bits and pieces indicating a bigger picture and mystery it takes a long time to get going.

Despite that, the conclusion of this two cour series is perhaps one of the best conclusions I’ve come across in anime. Every single arc and story comes together and every hint or idea actually serves a purpose. While it isn’t a realistic ending by any means from a narrative point of view it provides perfect closure to the story and just made me want to watch it through again to see all those clues I missed. For me that’s the mark of a good mystery and this one ended up paying off.

Number 4: ACCA

If you’ve followed my blog for awhile you will know I really got into ACCA. The conspiracy focusing around Jean, the gifts of cigarettes, the plot to overthrow the ruler, all of it just really got me hooked and interested as I wanted to find out who was actually behind what was going on and how they would resolve it. This one ended up being a lot of fun and while it isn’t exactly driving toward a conclusion as we follow Jean about in his work and visit each district in turn, there’s enough going on and the characters are interesting enough to keep you engaged until the later episodes where the conspiracy takes a more central role.

Number 3: No. 6

Dystopian story where the government controls the news and people’s lives and those who question anything are arrested (or forced to flee) – that in itself is enough reason to be interested in No. 6. Throw in the mysterious plague with the insects that are killing people and you’ve got a whole lot of story to cover. I’ll admit, the conclusion to No. 6 isn’t as satisfying as I’d like. Everything comes together but that ending really just goes a bit off the rails as they try to wrap things up and go for the dramatic conclusion. Still, the journey to that ending is one that is well worth following with two characters that are just awesome to watch and a lot of social commentary packed into the mix.

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Number 2: Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni

It seems odd that there aren’t more horror mystery anime in this list but the bottom line is so many of them are either more psychological than mystery or the mystery they present isn’t overly satisfying. Something like Another does a great job setting up its mystery but ultimately we’re never given any answers for what has happened. Higurashi spends a lot of time setting up its various mysteries and through the various time loops we ultimately get answers for most of them. Whether it is the strange illness that sends people crazy, the murder of Rika, or even the motives of the characters, ultimately Higurashi explores and explains everything in a deeply satisfying manner.

Number 1: Shinsekai Yori

This one is another slow burn in the beginning as it sets up its world and characters but it is one that is incredibly worth the effort. In addition to just being beautiful to watch, finding out the secrets and lies that underpin this future society and seeing how the central characters react and respond to each reveal is truly a delightful viewing experience. While it isn’t the kind of mystery you can solve as a member of the audience it is one that presents puzzling inconsistencies and contradictions as well as strange rules and ideas that allow you to contemplate why they exist before the characters are forced to examine them closer and ultimately find out a series of truths that shake their understanding of their world. Truly delightful viewing even if a little horrifying at times.

And there they are, my favourite 5 mystery anime but as I said before, I’d love to know yours so leave a comment below.

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Senryuu Shoujo Review Episode 6

Leader of the non-rebellion.

Episode 6

There’s definitely something seriously wrong with Nanako’s family, particularly her father. I mean, I get he’s playing the overprotective daddy trope but how on earth could you reach the conclusion that Nanako is rebelling. And why is that his biggest issue with his daughter when she never actually speaks. Surely that’s of greater concern than whether or not she’s becoming a thug.

I did like the lead in this week with the club president and Eiji sharing pictures of their pets. One thing that I always find weird in any kind of show is when someone has a pet rabbit. Given it is illegal to own rabbits where I live and they are considered an invasive pest, the idea of keeping one as a pet just strikes me as bizarre. More or less like owning a pet cane-toad.

The moments with Eiji, his sister and Nanako at the park are cute but that’s about it in terms of what you can say about it Unless you want to get into the repeated rabbit poo joke that just seemed there to fill run time as it was pretty much nothing.

With the majority of the episode focusing in on Nanako’s father freaking out about his potentially ‘rebellious’ child though there just wasn’t enough cute going on to off-set it. And while we did resolve the issue at the end and everything ends with a sparkling smile, there’s just too much that doesn’t sit right. I think I prefer this anime when it focuses on the school stuff and it is rare for me to say that.

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