Hunter x Hunter Episodes 34 + 35

Review Episode 34:

Why is it when Killua says not to worry, I start to worry? Still, the events this episode were not unexpected and I kind of wondered why coercion to fight hadn’t come up earlier. Essentially, Gon’s 2 months of non-training have come to an end and now he and Killua are apparently determined to set speed records for learning everything because amazingly enough being the protagonist means you just can. While I appreciate we aren’t stuck here for months in training it’s a little ridiculous. Though, Killua’s solution in the end was somewhat more peaceful than I expected.

Review Episode 35:

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Okay, peaceful may not have been the best way to describe Killua’s solution. It was, however, effective. From that little game Gon and Killua now each have three wins and Hisoka has finally told Gon that he can pick the time for their fight. I’m not sure if that’s actually an achievement or not.

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And given some of the things happening in this arena in all the fights why on earth is the commentator bothering to say something is unbelievable at this point?

The only real negative here is the fights are getting a little samey and I’m kind of hoping we move away from the arena soon because as cute as Gon and Killua are I’m not a big fan of arena matches in any anime.


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WorldEnd Episode 3

Review:

With the exception of one scene early on where there’s an intentionally misleading comment about Willem sleeping with one of the girls, this episode actually dialed the fan-service moments way back down and instead finally turned its attention to Willem.

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He’s a decidedly level headed individual really first looking through old records and then assisting in teaching a better way to use the magic sword thing (Dug weapon or whatever they want to call it – though it was very cool when he was putting on the light show with it at the end). We learn a tiny bit more about how a supposedly extinct member of the human race is still wandering around but other than answering how he managed to still be around 500 years after they lost the war, we still know little about his actual life. The episode ends with the girls heading off for what should have been a life-ending mission however there’s a chance they’ll survive now (and thank goodness we were spared the training montage).

I really enjoyed this episode. Things moved along nicely, we got the information we needed, a few touching moments, a couple of smiles, and some actual character development. You can’t really ask for more in a show like this.

WorldEnd is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Royal Tutor Episode 4

Review:

While the first three episodes of this were fine in their own way, and probably quite enjoyable if the style of comedy is more your thing, I honestly felt I could stop watching this show at any time and be perfectly fine with that. At the end of episode 4, I had a smile on my face and kind of wished the next episode was available which left me wondering why it had more of an impact.

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I think it mostly came down to the fact that this episode didn’t feel like yet more character introductions and the interactions between the Princes, the Tutor, and the people in town all felt a little bit more natural than some of the stilted interactions we’d seen as they clamoured to give us the necessary information about each player in this story. Whichever way, I quite enjoyed following the Princes on their trip into town and the end of this episode is just sweet.

The Royal Tutor is available on Crunchyroll.


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Akashic Records of a Bastard Magical Instructor Episode 4

Review:

And Glenn is back to being a bit scummy as he essentially places bets on his classes performance in the magical competition. This underlying idea kind of smashes any of his kindness or reasoned decision making in setting up the students and preparing them, and he does do some good work building the students up and getting them to acknowledge their own strengths. But knowing underneath that he’s just trying to get some extra cash kind of kills it for him as a character moment.

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The episode was still kind of fun because we’re moving through events at a very good pace. Rumia gets a bit more development with the royal mother who abandoned her dropping by for the competition and there’s some set up for something happening next episode though fairly ambiguous as to what that something might be. All and all, since episode 1, this show has definitely improved and continues to build on that, if only they didn’t keep giving me reasons to hate Glenn.

Akashic Records of a Bastard Magical Instructor is available on Crunchyroll.


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Friday’s Feature: Avoiding the Paradoxes of Time Travel or Plunging Headlong Into Them with Sagrada Reset

This post was written after watching the first three episodes of Sagrada Reset and while it discusses those episodes everything in this feature will be pure speculation and opinion. Keep in mind this post is not trying to tell you that Sagrada is an amazing, must watch anime given there are a lot of issues so far with it as an anime. It is however, looking at the premise of the show and how it is dealing with, or not dealing with, time travel.

And then episode 4 came out and a lot of my speculation has already been tossed out the window. On to the next lot of theories then, still, this was where I was after episode 3.

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Previously I wrote a feature article focussing on the use of time travel in Orange and essentially the fact that no matter how I looked at it, even if the mechanism they used for time travel worked, it made no sense that the future versions of a person would actually take the actions they took. As a result of how time travel played out I essentially found the basic premise of the show flawed because the character in the future assumed that changing the past would create a parallel timeline where her past self could experience the different version of her life while future self continued to live her current existence. There was no evidence to give the character confidence this was how time travel would work other than one off hand spur of the moment discussion by a science teacher back when she was in high school For all she knew she was undoing her entire future life and the life of her child.

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Essentially, while I like science fiction, and quite enjoy stories that use time travel as a mechanism, I find these stories tend to by and large fall apart once you step back and actually question the internal logic of them. Even Terminator makes very little sense given the AI has figured out how to travel through time and sends only one machine with a specific target rather than sending an army to hit multiple targets simultaneously. Assuming there’s an energy consumption reason behind that decision, taking out Sarah Connor is still a really pointless move. Even assuming John Connor never exists it is highly unlikely that no human would stand up in his absence. John Connor became the leader of the resistance, but if he hadn’t been there, someone else would have become the leader and maybe they would be more effective. Let’s be honest, if no one had ever tried to kill Sarah and then John, his childhood (assuming he existed at all given his father is technically also from the future) would have been completely useless at preparing him for the end of the world. Surely the AI is smart enough to draw these conclusions and to realise that given the machines seem to be winning in the future anyway, messing with that timeline is unlikely to tip things in the machines favour.

But none of that has anything to do with Sagrada Reset.

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To start with, Sagrada Reset is not using time travel. Nobody moves through time, the world is reset to a particular point (literally to a save point predetermined by Haruki). In the first episode she tells us that it changes nothing and no one can be saved because even she does not remember the reset until she tries to reset again to the same point (because clearly the same events would occur uninterrupted leading to the trigger that makes her want to reset) and she realises she can’t because each save point can only be used once and she can’t set a new save point within 24 hours of the old.

This made me interested in how this show would deal with time because it seemed like a neat way to avoid the usual time travel paradox  discussion without creating parallel worlds because she was literally destroying everything that had come after the save point and starting over to admittedly let events repeat themselves unhindered. This was more or less confirmed in episode three when we got this line from Kei who is the only character we know of who can remember events that have happened during the days that were reset:

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It’s an ugly way to put it but if the reset works the way Haruki has described then it is rather accurate. Meaning you are giving up the three days that have existed, erasing them from everyone’s memory, and starting over.

But then we have Kei who does remember what has happened and who shares that knowledge with Haruki in order to change events (although far more cautiously after the events of episode 2). All of this leaves the story open to be a fairly basic protagonist goes back three days to solve the mystery of the week kind of story without any further issues of concerns about the mechanism that allows that story to operate. This, by itself, would still be a fairly watchable premise and could even be entertaining if done well (though not particularly original – hardly a sin in the entertainment industry these days).

What got this show stuck in my head were the other complications and mysteries that have crept into the story or been hinted at. We’re only three episodes in and yet there’s an almost endless stream of questions and possibilities.

Episode 2 saw Kei use a reset for an almost trivial reason. I guess from his emotionally stunted point of view it made sense to approach the situation that way but from anyone else’s point of view it was a lame reason to ask the girl you just kissed to reset the entire world. As interesting a discussion as that might make as to the true nature of Kei’s character, what makes this moment more than just a minor blip in the story is that after the reset one major thing has changed and that leads to a character’s death (at least she’s reported as dead – let’s be honest, this is clearly setting up a mystery and the girl died off screen so there is every chance for a return later in the series with a faked her own death story). Putting aside conspiracy, she’s not dead, for just a short moment, this made me draw the conclusion that someone other than Kei must remember the reset and have intervened to change events.

However, another blogger (Marthaurion from Marth’s Anime Blog) had this to say in his review of episode 2:

It seems like the reset changed the timeline, but it also seems like…it didn’t?

Which of course made me question the original conclusion I’d drawn and I realised that both options were possible and weren’t actually mutually exclusive which raised even more possibilities further down the track, and none of that addressed the potential of the character not even being dead.

So let’s go back to how the reset works, or at least how it is explained which could be highly suspect anyway given if it worked the way Haruki describes why on earth would she even know she had the power because technically any memory of it should be wiped from her own mind.

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Now this is where I wish my Japanese was better to know how accurate a translation those subs are but the implication here is that if things are being rearranged to a past state there’s no guarantee that some mistakes won’t creep in to the reconstructed version of the world. Particularly when literally everyone and everything is being rearranged. It would seem very unnatural for it to fall perfectly back the way it started.

If we then assume the robot or android analogy they made in episode 1 was meant to be something more than a throw away thought bubble then we could see Haruki and her power essentially like the save function in a computer game. Save before you face the boss and should the battle go south reload and try again. In some games the boss will always repeat the same attack patterns allowing you to learn how to overcome it. This would be the way she describes her power working. However, in other games, while the boss will still attack you the sequence of attacks may not be exactly the same each time and you may even have a random encounter before you get to the boss fight that didn’t show up in the previous iteration.

So I guess that leads me to wonder if this story is leading us down the path of discussion about whether events are preordained (in which case they would repeat identically without interference) or whether they are more random (in which case even if the reset was perfect anything after the reset could potentially change though most people would be inclined to repeat their actions simply because without any change in the stimulus provided there would be little reason for them to react differently).

Meanwhile, none of this gets us any closer to knowing if there is another person who remembers the loops and is interfering or whether the power itself is something else altogether.

Now let’s go full conspiracy theory on this show just for the fun of it.

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My current working theory is that after the Bureau was confronted by Kei and forced to give up on securing Mari because the mother stayed behind, they somehow realised that Haruki and Kei were messing with time but weren’t sure exactly how, or maybe the figured it out but wanted some more details. The next time Kei and Haruki reset, the Bureau used its influence to make one critical change and removed Soma from the picture (either by killing her, convincing her to leave town and then faking the news story as her memory would be gone anyway, or because she was already working for them in her capacity as class rep – which incidentally explains how the Bureau knew about the power in the first place given Soma was the one who put Kei and Haruki together – they simply asked her to disappear). Possibly this was a field test to determine whether or not Haruki really was unable to reset the same period of time.

We then get a two year time leap where it is strongly implied that Kei and Haruki have used the reset and developed a working relationship, though Kei apparently isn’t keen on using the reset easily anymore, and now the Bureau is directly monitoring them through the creation of a club at their highschool and the known Bureau representative being the club advisor.

This time they seem to be testing the three days and the save points by setting up the ridiculous scenario with the run-over/kidnapped cat. Evidence for this includes the advisor knowing when the save points are and Kei reporting the use of a reset to him, the timeline for the cat getting killed and the request that Kei and Haruki help, the suspicious actions of the girl who requested help in the first time line where she’s following their investigation and then in the second where she’s clearly waiting for them to show up (thus confirming they travelled through time and thought something would happen at the bakery), and the advisor’s strange request that Kei not reset time until three days had passed even though they had a new save point.

And that’s a lovely theory that essentially the Bureau are orchestrating the whole thing in order to find a practical way they can utilise this combination ability of Kei and Haruki. The only issue is the hole in the wall thing that showed up in episode 3 at the moment won’t slot into that theory at all.

Basically, more information is needed. To be honest, I’m kind of going to have to finish this show at this point, no matter how bland the characters may be at times or how dialogue heavy the episodes may get while pacing continues to be hit and miss. I may end up really hating this story by the end, but right now I just need to know. Time travel without time travel. What kind of narrative paradox can you create?

If you’ve been watching Sagrada Reset, what do you think?


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Natsume Yuujinchou Roku Episode 3

Review:

There’s something very cyclical about the nature of Natsume Yuujinchou. Events have a way of repeating and characters who have long disappeared from the narrative return at the most unexpected of times. Admittedly, Shibata wasn’t from that long ago, but he had a decidedly single episode air about him so his return this season is something of a surprise though perhaps shouldn’t be when this season has so far been about connections. Shibata knew Natsume back when everyone still thought he was a liar and only called on him for help when he was in trouble. Unlike Tanuma and the others who now know Natsume’s secret, Natsume regards Shibata with a great deal of suspicion and it is hard to take his overtures of friendship as anything other than being driven by guilt of past wrongs.

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As a result, I quite enjoyed this episode as it brought Tanuma and Shibata face to face and made the contrast between them clear, even while it has moved Shibata closer to becoming an actual friend.

Natsume Yuujinchou remains a sweet and pleasurable viewing experience and I have no complaints about how this season is going so far.


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Grimoire of Zero Episode 3

Review:

Grimoire of Zero remains pretty bland. I didn’t mind the episode this week and the problem of the week that the main duo dealt with, but the overall story and world still feels pretty much like it hasn’t gone anywhere after the info-dumping first episode.

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While we get a glimpse of some of the reasons why normal humans might not like the beastfallen so much, the two characters in particular that we meet are both so ridiculously over the top in their poor behaviour and it hardly seems like it would be the typical behaviour given the beast fallen are clearly not totally hated in the town. It is all kind of inconsistent (as is the comment that the mercenary knows the girls aren’t witches but later on they clearly say that only a witch could tell). Still, this is watchable even if I’m not terribly into it.

Grimoire of Zero is available on AnimeLab.


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The Laughing Salesman Episode 4

Review:

Moguro is quite a cruel person when you think about it. Neither of the characters this week particularly deserved the outcome of their story, unlike previous characters who have had some deep character flaw. Story 1 has a guy who has fallen in love at first sight but insists it has nothing to do with the girl’s looks.

Salesman4 This makes him a little delusional but not an inherently bad person, and really, he probably would have been fine if he’d found out the girl had buck teeth under her mask however turning into whatever that was definitely pushed it past the plausible.

Salesman4cIn the second story, the guy is actually a kind of nice guy. You could claim his motivation for sharing his paradise with the girl was that he was attracted to her, but even if it was a friend, he had something that was working well for him and he wanted to share it.

This makes the stories this week different int tone from the previous ones where the characters either deliberately asked for trouble or acted in ways where the consequences made you feel strangely satisfied. Still enjoying these strange little stories each week.

The Laughing Salesman is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Eccentric Family Season 2 Episode 3

Review:

Yasaburo loves trouble. This we learned during season 1 of The Eccentric Family. However, in this episode he seems to be inviting it from every direction imaginable. Once again, we get an episode full of encounters that all seem fairly random except that Yasaburo serves as the connection between all of these people but Benten’s return was the true highlight of the episode.

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Still, Benten’s arrival alone isn’t enough to make up for the overall driftless nature of the plot so far. As much as I love these characters, season 2 has been taking its time about getting to a point and that is somewhat holding the show back. And yet, Benten arriving and then watching her interact with newcomer character Nidaime… Well, that is interesting. If this show needed something to get things moving, the encounter between those two characters was more or less what the doctor ordered.

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This is the face of an extremely brave man. Few people would dare speak so calmly having just tipped Benten to the floor even if they did first lay out a table cloth for her to land on.

I just have to wonder if they’ll end up killing each other or falling completely in love because those two personalities together is going to make for an explosive combination. Of course, the show could back away from this plot point and go in a different direction. It is kind of hard to know.

The Eccentric Family is available on Crunchyroll.


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Alice & Zoroku Episode 4

Review:

I’m really wondering what the point of most of the episode of Alice & Zoroku was. Minnie C, for whatever reason, continue to toy with and generally be cruel to Sana and after Minnie C injects her with some unidentified liquid, Sana essentially goes to some space where she meets a girl who could literally only be an older version of Sana (though they kind of didn’t tell us anything about her).

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Anyway, unidentified blonde girl with exact same eye-colour as Sana pretty much tells her that she has someone who will help her and to call their name and suddenly Zoroku finds himself in the car with Sana and Minnie C. Why that was helpful I’m not sure though in the process the little tracking thing they were trying to use that wasn’t working because she didn’t have it with her so they now know where Sana is and rush to the rescue (did Zoroku have the tracker on him?).

Finally, at the end of the episode, rescue arrives.

Possibly if this had been an entertaining 20 minutes, or if something had been revealed, or even if the moment between Sanae and her grandfather had come off as anything other than a desperate attempt to tug some emotional heartstrings, there would be a point. But essentially they start the episode trying to find Sana, at the end of the episode they found her. Everything in between was kind of just there. Admittedly, I’m at a point where I don’t actually care about any of these characters so you could probably blow both Sana’s legs up with a gun and it still wouldn’t get an emotional response from me.

Alice & Zoroku is available on Crunchyroll.


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