In Another World With My Smartphone Episode 5: Slimes… Sigh.

Review Episode 5:

Well, we knew from earlier episode comments that green slimes existed in this world and that they dissolved clothing so I guess we all knew this episode was coming. Given the premise they were actually fairly tame in how far they went with this one though it is the usual kind of anime stupidity that makes non-anime fans roll their eyes at the entire industry.

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And in case the slimes weren’t enough for the episode we then have Touya starting to combine his magic spells with his smartphone functionality and one of the results is seeing through the wall to one of his female companions as she changes. Maybe they have some fan service quota they have to hit for a show like this and due to the tame nature so far they decided to get a lot of points this episode.

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Though, if you can get past all that silliness, and it really is silly and not overly disturbing or offensive, then we actually get a reasonably sweet story about Touya helping out a couple of his companions and continuing to learn how he can use his smart phone in this new world. Even the slime section had some good moments for the group so all and all the episode is kind of fun.

I just want to know why only the girls ended up with dissolved clothes when we could have easily dumped our protagonist into the mix for an equally unnecessary but at least slightly novel outcome to the scenario.


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Friday’s Feature: Not a Character, an Idea

This post discusses My Hero Academia up to episode 31 focussing only on events in the anime. There are some minor spoilers if you have not watched that far.

Since the beginning of season 1, My Hero Academia has been obsessed with the idea of symbols. All Might is a symbol of justice. He is what other heroes aspire to be and villains fear him. Who All Might actually is has ceased to be important as it is the persona All Might carries when he is All Might that matters to the world he lives in.

Midoriya confronts the separation between the idea of who All Might is and the reality head on when he encounters his childhood hero in the real world. However, with Midoriya being Midoriya, he doesn’t become disillusioned but rather manages to reconcile his preconceived view of the hero with his new understanding of the man.

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But the world they live in (and the real world) does not work that way. Outside of a few of the teachers at UA, most people do not know about All Might’s current condition. He works hard to keep it a secret as he knows that if the symbol of justice ceases to be a shining and perfect symbol of justice, then the world and its balance will be irrevocably changed as villains will no longer have a reason to fear (despite all the other heroes who might do them in), and the younger generation of heroes won’t have that symbol to aspire to.

In a way, All Might’s current condition is actually more damaging than if he had died in the line of duty. If he had died in the line of duty than there could be an outpouring of grief for a hero who had done so much but he would have retained that perfect image he’d constructed until the end. Instead, if his condition as it stands becomes public knowledge, it is likely to tarnish the ideal he’s worked so hard to create (even though his current condition doesn’t change anything about what he had previously done).

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It is amazing in a way that the idea might be bullet proof and All Might’s death wouldn’t change it, but his living on and not representing the ideal people associate with him could deal significant damage. In a way, V from V for Vendetta got it right in that the only way to ensure his ideas carried forward without getting cluttered was to remove the man from the equation. With nothing ever known about the true identity of the terrorist V (at least not by the general public) he transcended the man he was and became a symbol of freedom and a voice for the people. What makes his death even more powerful was that Evey then pointed out that everyone in the crowd could project their own view upon V. He could be their brother who died, their father, their friend, coworker, lover, anyone. He could represent everything they wanted him to represent and he could never do anything to undermine their belief that how they saw him was what they intended.Which is scary because the idea is bullet proof and it is taking on a life of its own and the intended message may get overwritten and eroded in time or misappropriated for a cause it was never intended for and there is nothing anyone can do about that once the idea is out there.

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Which of course brings me to Hero Killer Stain. He has a clear ideal of what a hero should be and he was punishing those who failed to meet his expectations. We already knew that but then episode 31 gave us a bit more insight into how he became disillusioned when he dropped out of hero school and then tried to use words to convince the public that the way they saw heroes was problematic and ensured a system full of contradictions. ‘Hero’ had become a job. Having heroic qualities and a heroic mindset was not as important as results and showmanship. As the Hero Killer his acts caught the attention of many and his arrest got even more eyes locked onto him and his ‘ideas’.

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What becomes worrisome about this, or awesome depending on how the plot is handled, is that in the eyes of the public there is a link between the Hero Killer and the League of Villains. For the audience, we know that Stain outright refused to join the League of Villains as they did not live up to his standards of what a true villain should be any more than the heroes he had killed lived up to the standard of true hero. But the public do not know that. They only know that there is a connection. More importantly, how Stain was making his judgement of which heroes were true heroes and which were fake was through a deeply personal set of criteria. Any attempt to mimic of copy his ideology would result in a character coming to a very different set of judgements.

But Hero Killer Stain has been arrested. He has become the symbol of a movement and has lit a fire motivating people to action and then he has been removed from the scene. He is unable to correct perceptions (even if he was so inclined) and more importantly, unlike All Might, he’s already fallen so he can’t mar his own reputation that has taken on a life separate from himself. Admittedly, he could escape and get out and change the legend unfolding around him, but that would almost be counter productive to the movement left in his wake.

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For the League of Villains, if they are in any way able to understand how the world works, they won’t ever point out they were at odds with the Hero Killer. They’ll allow his symbol and image to draw people to them and then they will twist that message to their own ends.

However, what I find particularly interesting about this is that All Might was a constructed brand. He went out of his way to become the symbol of an idea. Whereas, Hero Killer Stain simply lived true to his own ideals. He didn’t make speeches or pompous appearances (he’d already given up on using words to change people’s minds). He acted and his actions spoke for him, though whether the true message came across is anyone’s guess and it will be interesting to see how the next generation of villains take his message and use it. But that’s why Hero Killer’s mark is going to be harder to erase than All Might’s would. Hero Killer was appealing to base impulses that people had hidden away and were just waiting for an excuse to let out and his message spread organically without anyone in particular constructing the narrative behind it and yet its momentum was undeniable.

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Of course, there’s a lot of real world parallels about how messages and branding as well as people standing in for ideals that we could get into but I’m certain that most of us have already thought about just how this works in reality and some recent examples. Even if the show doesn’t go any further into this issue, it has been an intriguing build up (please don’t spoil in the comments if you have read the manga).


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Gamers Episode 5: This Makes Me Wonder If Being Socially Inept is Contagious?

Review:

I’m kind of in a bind with this show. I really like watching the episodes… but, looking at this episode objectively I really shouldn’t be enjoying this. The characters are all acting too stupid for words, too stupid even for cliché gamer characters with limited social skills, and they seem to be acting stupider by the minute. I should be annoyed, exasperated, or eye-rolling and bored, and yet I’m laughing.

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At this point each character thinks every other character has a thing for every other character and none of them have a clue who actually likes them and it is all just kind of depressing when you think about it. It would be slightly better if even one character knew who had a crush on them and just didn’t like them back, but no, instead every character is living is blissful ignorance of reality and imposing their own misinterpreted view on events.

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The game club is almost a non-entity in this show now as these characters who rejected it are now having ‘meet-ups’ apparently to discuss gaming but more to manipulate the relationships just a little bit more. All and all it is messy and the narrative is really going nowhere because we’re just watching these characters go through the train-wreck that is their attempt at a social life.

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Still, between the upbeat, game themed music in the background, and the absolutely serious way our main character delivers lines that are completely going to be misconstrued, I’m having a really good time watching this show. This was not a good episode from a character or story point of view, but it was fun and maybe for this season that is enough.


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Princess Principal Episodes 5 + 6: Always A Train Story

Review Episode 5:

I get that trains were really important as a mode of transport way back when, but I find train episodes relatively boring for the simple reason that there are only so many things you can do in a train episode. Basically you have linear paths because the carriages are strung out behind one another, and you can go above or below the carriage, and you always have to worry about derailment and carriage separation, but the stories always end up playing out much the same way. Okay, Baccano managed something a little different on a train, but Princess Principal adds only anti-gravity catch up from the separated carriages to the ones ahead and a merging track that may cause two trains to collide.

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However, while the plot of Princess Principal becomes quite predictable this week due to his chosen setting, the focus on character, particularly Chise, is quite interesting. We’ve now seen how each of the girls has come to this group and each story has given us a bit more insight into the group itself. Hopefully now the overall narrative can kick into gear because we’ve now gotten through these introductions.

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This remains quite a strong anime this season even if I was making fun of the train setting earlier. The episode works, the characters are fantastic, and some of the fight sequences on the train were pretty cool.

Review Episode 6:

Nope, instead we’re going to get some back story on Dorothy and a fairly tragic tale that is pretty predictable but great to watch nonetheless. It was also great to see the dynamic between Dorothy and Beatrice as this episode unfolded given while they were in the last episode they were more in the background to Ange and Chise (who this time are the ones sent to the sidelines).

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This is an episode of real highs and lows for Dorothy with Beatrice acting as the observer and the one who asks the questions the audience want an answer to and it works really well. The drunken father may have been a fairly generic plot device, but it is delivered well and overall the story, while not complicated, is largely entertaining.

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None of this however changes the fact that at episode 6, other than Ange wanting to help the Princess and the Princess wanting to maybe be the Queen, we really don’t have a central plot here. The individual cases are pretty entertaining and the girls are a real joy to watch, but what is holding this back from being truly fantastic is a sense that we are heading toward something.


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Fastest Finger First Episode 6: Have Phone = Have Social Life, Maybe

Review:

Koshiyama is on an outing with a friend, or at least a classmate in the same club as him so that kind of counts. And he is armed with a smartphone gifted to him by his parents so now he’s out to collect your contact info. Unfortunately, making friends isn’t exactly covered within the phone manual.

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I found this sequence kind of adorable given I always used to love reading the manuals that came with new devices. Saddest thing ever was when they stopped including anything more than basic specs and part guides and made you go online to actually find out how to use the device. Even the Kindle guide only tells you how to open the user manual on the Kindle – tragic but not relevant to the show.

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This episode sees our budding quiz bowl players in an arcade playing a quiz game and of course rival boy is there as well. There’s some back and fourth, some new quiz formats and discussion of how to get faster or better, and some general quizzing before your cliché bullies show up and then get taken out by another character that looks too distinct to be a random one episode character so my bet is they are showing up at a quiz meet later.

Outside of this we get the brief side story of technology girl and the club leader shopping for parts to make the buzzers, and the quiz obsessed girl helping her friend at a maid cafe for reasons that only the word ‘anime’ can explain.

I’ll be honest, this is not such a great episode. Barely anything happens and while there are some laughs to be had with less quizzes and very little narrative going on the characters were left to carry the bulk of the episode and they just aren’t up to the task, despite my finding the main character adorable in an incredibly geeky way.


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Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Episodes 6 + 7: Well, guess that secret is out.

Review Episode 6:

Another resident returns to the apartment (seriously, how many residents are there not living in the complex) and he happens to collect and sell books. Of course one of the books is a bit odd and Inaba and then exorcist girl (who doesn’t ever seem to actually do any exorcisms) noticed.

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Despite her taking the book to be checked out it then shows up in Inaba’s bedroom and hey, turns out it is full of spirits and Inaba is now their master. Only most the spirits in the book seem pretty useless.

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It is a pretty dull episode really, just going through the motions of introduce new character and weird object and then have the cheap comedy of the spirits in the book. However, Hase shows up at the end to save the episode. It seems like Inaba wants to tell him about the apartment but he’s struggling and then after Hase picks a fight with some thugs (as you do) they get chased and the book shows up again kind of outing Inaba’s secret whether he wanted to tell Hase then or not.

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This of course leaves the whole episode on a cliff-hanger but I’m not that annoyed by it. If the last five minutes hadn’t happened this would have been a pretty pointless and dull episode so I was just kind of happy something happened in the end.

Review Episode 7:

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Plunging boldly forward (I’m joking), the show chooses to put the Inaba and Hase conversation about the random spirit on hold while they deal with the thugs, which would make sense except they wrap that up pretty quick and then Hase still kind of leaves without an actual explanation. Nor does he offer any explanation as to his own apparent knowledge, though Inaba is a particular kind of dense given he’s impressed with a fairly rudimentary magic fact.

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Which leads us on to the cutest of the spirits summoned so far. At the behest of the apartment’s occupants, and because cheap jokes are so much better than progressing a plot according to the writers of this increasingly hard to defend show, Inaba summons Death, Thanatos and get’s this cute little guy.

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Seriously, I want one.

Outside of that, the show then goes through a spiritual training sequence that is pretty stock standard before they decide to leave us on another cliff-hanger with Hase dramatically announcing on the phone that he is visiting the apartment. Or at least, that would be dramatic if they hadn’t really shown the outcome of that visit in their preview. This show  makes some truly baffling choices.


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The Empire of Corpses Movie Review: Another Case of a Plot Getting Lost Amongst Literary Allusions and Sci-Fi Spectacle

Overview:

Watson, a student doctor, becomes obsessed with the idea of bringing back a human soul after his friend dies. Using his friend’s corpse, he begins experimentation using the work of Victor Frankenstein as a guide. When he is caught, he is sent on a mission to retrieve Frankenstein’s notes and then a whole bunch of other stuff happens.

Review:

I don’t watch anime movies very often but every now and then one comes out that I think I’d really appreciate watching. The Empire of Corpses caught my attention early on being set in the 19th Century and focussing on the idea of Frankenstein’s legacy having become a reality. Building the British Empire literally through the use of an army of corpses and corpse labourers is a fascinating idea and thinking about how that would change the world, and the sheer number of arguments it would cause in terms of morality,  is something that I thought I’d really like to explore. Unfortunately, this movie is interested in introducing those ideas but it isn’t interested in dealing with that reality. While the first half an hour or so sets up what looks like it will be an interesting moralistic tale about the subjective rights of the deceased and empire building, those ideas quickly get swept aside and make way for a convoluted and not entirely realised narrative that exclusively follows Watson’s obsession with death and scientific pursuits.

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Points therefore must be given to Watson’s characterisation. He really does follow the mould laid out in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein perfectly. Pursuit of answers and science at the expense of anything and then the horrible realisation of what his pursuit has wrought but still an attempt to justify the actions and to bring some good from what is in this case a steaming pile of corpses. If the movie was seeking only to bring the tale of Frankenstein to a new era through a story that could almost be seen as a very late entry sequel it may have even been successful as Watson’s links to Frankenstein are incredibly clear and his relationship with Friday, the corpse he has brought to life, is definitely the high light of this film.

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But why stop at just referencing Frankenstein? Why not reference any and every classic work and character from the era, even when it makes zero sense to do so? Also, why restrict the story to just one location and setting when we can trot around the entire globe? Let’s deal with a former American President visiting India, the Russians attacking various groups through the use of exploding corpses, a trek through Afghanistan, skip on over to Japan where we can get some cliché culture before exploring a lab, and then we’ll just jump across to America before getting back to the Tower of London. The whole movie is so incredibly cluttered with unrealised ideas and most of them end up being fairly pointless.

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The entire Russian influence is one of the most pointless aspects of the story. There are Russians attacking our main characters, but they meet with a Russian who is going to guide them to where the notes might be in Afghanistan. We’ll meet another Russian scientist who will point out the horror of the research (and in so doing will turn his actual living friend into a living corpse before having the corpse do the same to him) and then somehow this becomes the point that everyone will remind Watson about later on that they died for something. None of this ends up feeding in to the overall narrative where we end up with The One (Victor’s original creation that could talk), using Frankenstein’s notes to try to create a soul in an android and trying to transfer his own mind into the mind of Friday because apparently Friday’s corpse has been well taken care of. In case you got lost there, don’t worry, it doesn’t actually make any sense while watching it either.

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And this brings me to one of the most maddening points of the entire movie. The final half an hour. Let’s just ignore the fact that they were on a quest to retrieve the notes, which turned into destroy the notes, which turned into Watson’s obsession with copying the notes before destroying the notes, and then they had to retrieve the notes when they got stolen again. Let’s just ignore that. It isn’t relevant. And we’ll ignore that midway through the story we suddenly had characters who could influence corpses by sound, either voice or stamping their foot. Why and how this works is clearly unimportant to anyone writing the story so we’ll just let it go. I’ll even ignore the fact that somehow our main group of two guys, an automaton girl and a shuffling corpse managed to get through a heavily armed military installation in order to get to the final confrontation even if that doesn’t end particularly well for the corpse and the girl as they end up at the centre of the whole thing.

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What I won’t ignore is that until this final part there was an attempt to at least make corpse technology look like a technology. Out of place in the time period technology, but technology. This final sequence forgets all of that and instead we suddenly have green lights floating about and random blue crystals growing over things as organ music plays. It is all visually spectacular and all completely fantastical gobbledygook with no grounding in anything that could be considered reality even within the reality constructed by this movie. It is like they just ripped up their own rule book and went for broke. Including, after one of the character cuts the power, smashing some keys on an organ manages to repower up the device momentarily. I’m really willing to suspend disbelief during a film, particularly one about reanimating corpses in the 19th Century, but there is suspension of disbelief and then there is swallowing bull and this movie crosses the line far too much in the final sequence.

Not to mention, even after it is all done and we get an aftermath, the story only deals with Watson and Friday. We do not get to see how the world has changed after the night the corpses that were relied upon as labourers went crazy and the sheer mass murder of civilians. You would think that there should be some significant social reform going on but why bother letting the audience know about any of that. It’s clearly just background noise.

Anyway, I bought this film on sale and I’m glad of that because full price would have been asking too much. I’m also glad I watched it with someone because the two hours would have felt really long if I didn’t have someone to help me make fun of the sillier moments in the narrative. Not to mention it was nice to know it wasn’t just me losing track of what was going on at the end. It just does not make sense.

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So do I recommend this?

That’s tough because I know I’ll probably rewatch this next year at some point. It is bad, terrible in fact in terms of story, but there’s enough ideas and the like here that I wouldn’t mind another watch. It also looks really good with some great atmosphere. Not to mention, its a zombie anime and I like bad horror stories. So, no, I probably wouldn’t recommend it but it isn’t a completely unwatchable, fling the disc out the window kind of movie. That’s not exactly high praise but its the best I can manage for this one at the moment.


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Competition (kind of) Reminder

So just a reminder that starting this week 100WordAnime now has a Facebook page.

And to celebrate I have a competition going until the 19th so if you haven’t ‘entered’ yet and you would like the chance to win an incredibly lame prize, please continue reading.

Thanks to everyone who has already offered advice on Facebook and has already followed over there. To one particular follower, you know who you are, thanks very much for directing me to information and helping out, it is really appreciated.

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On offer:

A blog post written by me on any anime related topic for you.

Conditions:

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01: The post will be between 200 – 500 words.

02: The post will be emailed to an email address of your choosing within 7 days of you sending details of the topic to me via my contact page.

03: If you specify a single anime as the topic and I have not watched it, I will request a different topic. Realistically, it would be best just to give an anime related question that I can choose example anime to discuss but that is ultimately your choice.

04: I will not provide images to go with the post, however you may choose to add images.

05: You do not have to actually use the post on your blog. I don’t know exactly what else you would do with it, but you are not obliged in any way to publish it in any form should you choose not to.

06: If you do choose to publish the post, you will need to credit me as the author and a link back to my blog.

So how can you be in the running to ‘win’ this ‘amazing’ prize?

Visit my new and fairly empty Facebook page and like or follow the page by midnight on the 19th of August. (oh and ensure that you aren’t preventing people from seeing that you’ve liked the page because otherwise I won’t know who you are).

I will add all the names of people who like or follow the page into a random list generator on the 20th and whoever ends up at the top of the list will be the ‘winner’.

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I know the page isn’t really doing much at the moment, but I’m working on that and I’m working to continue making the blog better. As always, any feedback or advice is welcome.


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Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Episode 6: It’s Dangerous Trying to Please Everyone

Review:

This week the episode focusses on Ozaki, who is apparently writing a manga. He introduces a character based on Aoyama but becomes upset by that character’s popularity when he’d tried to make him the villain. As he attempts to sabotage the character, the manga loses popularity and he is forced to try to turn things around even as his overall dislike of Aoyama continues.

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I actually really enjoyed this episode. I found Ozaki’s frustration at the audience reaction to his story quite amusing and the way he interpreted the world around him and translated it into his stories was also kind of entertaining. Though, the most amusing thing is that by the end of the episode, despite watching Aoyama for a large part of this episode, Ozaki still doesn’t understand Aoyama. Admittedly, most of the school doesn’t as they all kind of project their own ideas onto him and Aoyama is too detached to either notice or care, but in Ozaki’s case he has seriously caused a problem for himself by trying to write a character based on a person he just doesn’t get.

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So not so much cleaning or soccer this week (though both make a brief appearance just so we are reassured the writers did not forget their own gimmicks). I remain pleasantly surprised by how watchable this is but it still isn’t all that great.


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WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us? Series Review: Someone Save Us From These Titles

Overview:

This is a story that takes place after the world has ended, humanity has been destroyed, and the species that survive now live on floating islands. However, the beasts still attack and so fairy weapons are kept to use magic swords to fight them. Willem, the only surviving human, is recruited to take care of the fairy weapons only he learns they are young girls who are basically being sent to their deaths.

I reviewed this week to week so if you are interested in my individual episode thoughts click here.

Review:

I was not planning on watching this show this season. The excessively long title, the cute characters, everything about it just screamed that this was a light novel train wreck waiting to happen. But I did watch the first episode because I like to give things a go, and amazingly enough the first episode of this show is actually really, really good. There are issues even in that first episode with how the characters are set up and the story being a little bit nebulous, but the delivery is great, the music goes perfectly, and it is just kind of a joy to watch.

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Then what happens is we have a whole series of ups and downs. There are some truly spectacular and emotional moments in this series. There are some great character moments. There’s some funny moments. Then there’s a lot of cute girls being cute, long drawn out side stories, too many characters being given focus when they aren’t really needed, an absence of the overall plot feeling like it is progressing, and the main characters just never quite clicking into their assigned roles. The show is working hard, I’ll give it credit for that, but there’s a lot of moments during the series where dropping seems like a perfectly fine option because while this never gets to terrible, there’s a lot of episodes that aren’t good.

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Then we get to the final episode and it is like that first episode all over again. You could walk away and feel great that you made it through, stuck it out, and that it was all worth it. And really, it is. Not watching week to week, this show would be signficantly better because a lot of that fluffing about in the middle wouldn’t feel so drawn out and the bits of narrative would feel closer together. Not to mention, you would get that excellent ending so much earlier and you probably wouldn’t be trying to pick it to pieces.

So I’m left wondering if I enjoyed this series overall or not.

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I’m going with yes. For all that there are definitely lows in this series and they probably could have halved the character count and actually ended up with a more focussed story, I really did enjoy spending time with Willem and Chtholly. Okay, part of my enjoyment comes from just how broken both of these characters are inside even while they smile and joke and try to carry everyone else (I really do have a thing for characters like this and I’ve never understood why but if I lined up my favourite characters they would all be very broken people). But part of my enjoyment comes from the fact that they are characters that you want to know more about and you want to see them somehow get through what they are facing even when you know they aren’t going to. While the romance aspect didn’t work so well for me with these two, I definitely feel the two connected and needed one another and that worked really well and made the final all the more satisfying.

Oh and did I mention the music. The music is a real selling point for this one.

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However, I’m certain I said this somewhere in my write ups while watching this, I feel that now that the show is done, I’d like a different team to take it apart, cut out all the excess and unnecessary bits, and put together that much better story that runs through the whole thing. It would end up half the length but I think it could be spectacular. Those moments are there already, but they are getting buried beneath average sequences and scenes and scenes that are good but have no purpose here (and while they might be setting up later events for the story, they don’t do anything for the narrative in this series).

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Overall, I’d definitely recommend trying this but just know going in that this show is very uneven in its tone and delivery. You’ll be on the edge of your seat, smiling, crying, nodding along in one sequence and in another you’ll just be sitting back wondering when they are going to get back to something that matters (and please can something squish the green fairy girl now, I don’t want to go shopping with her again).


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