Pop Goes The Fear Ghoul?

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Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 12 Review

I’m going to keep this super brief. This episode we meet the murderer guy and it turns out he killed Nagi’s dad because he was digging into the death of a middle-schooler who may have evolved or whatever. Jump ahead and the murderer guy is now investigating the fear ghoul because the victims are mounting and he runs into Nagi who is also investigating.

It’s all a little bit contrived and at the same time kind of gratifying given it brings things together in a way they really haven’t come together before. Still, there’s not much else to say about the episode.

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Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 13 Review

Then we get episode 13 which is the end of this arc. I’d like to say we learned something profound, but mostly things come to a natural conclusion. Natural in only a way that Boogiepop can do natural meaning there’s some mental gymnastics involved in making sense of anything but at least we get to watch Nagi fighting again. So far that has been the highlight of the series.

Actually, watching the initial connection between Boogiepop and Nagi forming was kind of fun in general. It kind of puts stuff that has happened in the other stories into a little more context, even if the whole ‘Echoes planet being destroyed’ part was still very weird and didn’t really fit with anything else that was going on in the story.

I’m actually still not sure in general why we needed aliens in this story. Though it would probably help if I paid a little more attention but I can’t help but find my focus drifting during each episode. The slow pace and monotone nature of the dialogue certainly doesn’t help.

But, that arc is done and there’s still episodes out so I’ll probably review another two next week to try to catch up with this one.

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And Then Shizue Stole The Anime Right Out From Under Rimuru

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That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 24 (Extra) Review

This is probably the most fun I’ve had with That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime since the first cour and it is an episode that takes place prior to Shizue meeting Rimuru. She travels to a kingdom to help deal with a summoned demon but things aren’t what they seem at first.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 24

I’m going to be honest, I would love to say that there’s some great characterisation and story telling going on in this episode, and comparatively there actually is, but twenty minutes isn’t exactly a long amount of time and as a stand-alone story there is only so much they can do. While both Kuro/Black and Shizue come across as very interesting characters, without actual follow up this episode doesn’t quite get them there. Fortunately we’ve already seen how Shizue’s story ends so this works nicely to fill in her character and as for the demon, well it is nicely teased that Rimuru is going to meet him sooner or later so we can expect that we’ll meet him again.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 24

What really works though is that this story is tightly structured with very little left to waste. The first act has a human desperately summoning a demon. We’re never given the absolute specifics as to why, but given what the demon does and what we learn about the kingdom, we can probably take a fair guess as to who they were and why they wanted to summon a demon. Even without that particular bit of information, it is a reasonably dramatic opening for a story and right from the start the demon is pretty cool and interesting looking. Here’s someone you want to get to know.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 24

Shizue entering the story and being met by another adventurer is a little clunkier, but it does solve the problem of having to narrate all the exposition when Shizue has someone else to bounce a lot of conversation off of during the early part of the episode and to fill in the details of why they are all there. But once the action starts, we see Shizue at her finest making decisions and taking action.

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The final act links things back in with the main story and while they do rely on some narration here to explicitly link to potential future events for Rimuru, it feels warranted and this story has been interesting enough that it is a nice tease of something to come.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 24

Of course, the question I’m left with is why weren’t more episodes in the main series as interesting or well paced as this one? Why weren’t the characters given just that little more time and attention, some emotional nuances, anything to just make me want to pay that little bit more attention to them? I really enjoyed this story and I’d happily watch a whole season of this kind of story even without the main plot line. While I wasn’t overly impressed to find out this season was ending with ‘extras’ I will admit that this one definitely went above and beyond my expectations of extra material and really was just fun to watch.

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Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Level 8 Light Novel Review

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Volume 8

The party is finally splitting up and there are some dire consequences to be found.

It’s honestly going to be impossible to review this one without spoilers so if you haven’t read this far in the series, check out the links below for some of the earlier books or check out one of my other light novel reviews here.

For those still with me, level 8 really stepped things up. As much as I loved the last couple of volumes as they left Grimgar and travelled through the Dusk Realm but the end of the volume where they finally emerged back into Grimgar was a bit of a relief. The question became what now that they’ve gotten back to Grimgar considering it isn’t their world either (though at least there are more humans in Grimgar and they’ve gotten a bit used to it).

Well, it turns out a lot can happen when the party finally arrives back. They aren’t anywhere they know in Grimgar, in fact they are a long, long way away from their familiar territory and hunting grounds or allies that might help them. This presents a number of fairly immediate problems because even though Haruhiro and the gang have undeniably gotten stronger even before their trek through the Dusk Realm (and they most definitely found strength through enduring that), they are still very small fish in the larger pond.

So the team splits up in order to scout the surrounding area and figure out what to do next.

Honestly, as soon as they made this decision it was clear what was going to happen and yet they still managed to make this interesting. Ranta and Merry end up with one group made up of orcs and other inhumans while Haruhiro and the rest end up kind of attached to a mercenary unit that may or may not be assisting a samurai village.

As the team learn about this part of Grimgar, the Samurai villages, Arnold – a force of nature, and everything else that is going on, they are continuing to search for Merry and Ranta however Ranta as always has an interesting knack for survival. When up against an unbeatable enemy, make the enemy a friend remains his standard practice and while it might be argued in this instance his instant bow act saved Merry’s life, it would be difficult to say that Ranta has particularly grown as a character.

That said, his presentation in this volume was perhaps the most nuanced yet as it seemed he was well aware of his failings but desperately wanted to save Merry and couldn’t think of a better way to go about it. It made me quite interested in where his character might go, assuming of course he lives long enough to go anywhere from this point.

However, this does set up for a climax where Haruhiro and Ranta face off. Now, anyone who has read seven books in this series will be on their edge of their seat for this confrontation. While these two have been in the same team since the beginning, the friction between them has never gone away and finally seeing them on opposite sides for real is one of those character moments you are just grateful actually eventuated and they didn’t back away from it at the last minute.

Haruhiro Vs Rantar

While the conclusion is yet to be decided and I’m kind of hopeful that eventually they pull the team back together, Grimgar has a penchant for being very realistic about some things. Water once spilled can’t be returned to the glass and all that. Is this the end of Ranta in the group or will they find someway to save him?

Outside of the interesting team dynamic moments, I must say Grimgar continues to introduce some weird and yet interesting supporting characters. While such a large cast might be a problem if handled poorly, here they manage to keep the focus on how each encounter changes the core group so characters coming and going from the story around them is actually handled fairly well with enough reminders of who the important support cast are for us not to forget (even though it has been awhile since we’ve seen them as Haruhiro’s group have been separated for a fair while now).

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Volume 8

The story continues to move at a good pace giving each moment enough time to have the appropriate emotional weight without lingering overly long on any one point and while Ranta’s dialogue remains fairly insufferable, it has become pretty accepted at this point that it is part of his character.

If anything, I’d have to say my only real criticism of the story at this point is that it has become decidedly serialised. Earlier books could be read more or less independently, though needed to be read in order, and these later ones pretty much build to a climax but leave so much still be to be discovered. That would be fine if all the books were out and while I have volume 9 to read and ready to go I suspect that I’ll soon want volume 10 and unfortunately it is pre-order only and Volume 11 isn’t out until October. That would be why I haven’t been in any rush to get through these volumes because I want the story relatively fresh when I read the next book.

Grimgar remains a really great read and I think the writing has gotten better since book 1. The story and world building are great, the character development remains believable, and the books haven’t fallen into a repetitive pattern as each new adventure really does build on the last but take us somewhere new to learn more about the world and characters. I very much recommend this series to anyone looking for a more serious isekai (though early books do still have too many random fanservice moments just because).

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If you’re interested in reading Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Volume 8 it is available on the Book Depository.

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In The Absence of A Reasonable Argument, Rely on Sophistry

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Grimms Notes Episode 10 Review

Well, the villains finally take the time to speak with Ex regarding their ambitions in Episode 10 of Grimms Notes. Curly asks Ex whether it is more important to protect Jeanne D’Arc’s life or her fate and Ex utterly fails to answer, mostly because despite 9 episodes of dashing into story zones and correcting fates, Ex has never really addressed the big question of whether or not his actions are right.

Grimms Notes Episode 10

Just when you think he might be developing something resembling a reasonable character who at least contemplates his actions, he throws aside thinking it through or the consequences and just accepts that Jeanne is committed to her fate, as written in her book, and so he’ll trust in her feelings.

Grimms Notes Episode 10

The problem with that argument is that we don’t know how much Jeanne is actually in control of those feelings. Her rising up and leading the French was written in her book of fate. As was her acceptance of their ultimate betrayal and her death. So trusting in the feelings of someone being controlled by fate as a justification for defending that fate is at best a flawed argument and is more likely a form of self-deception so that Ex doesn’t need to ask himself the big question of whether or not he’s actually the one doing more harm than good by assisting Reina in tuning story zones.

Grimms Notes Episode 10

The ongoing avoidance by this story of looking at this big question is really starting to bug me because exploring it and having the characters really deconstructing their motives could have been a really interesting affair. Instead the good guys are good because they are and no matter how logical the villains seems they are the villains of the story. The nebulous story tellers have so far escaped being questioned for their questionable morality in creating characters who are clearly sentient but are then forced to live out lives that involve avoidable suffering.

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It all just seems like a strange premise if the story isn’t willing to actually address any of these issues.

But hey, another story tuned and back on track. Jeanne can lead that army, at least until she is killed.

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Apparently They Do Grow On Trees

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Endro Episode 9 Review

Like me, you probably didn’t actually bother to think about where the Cartado the characters have been using in Endro have come from. I mean, it is hardly a critical plot point other than Mei’s obsessive fascination with everything to do with them. However, here’s an episode devoted entirely to the mystery of where they come from and how they are harvested.

Endro Episode 9 Cartado Trees

That’s right, harvested. Because apparently these cards to grow on trees in a hidden village that the overly cute girls have just scored themselves an invitation to for a festival.

Arriving at the village takes a few little leaps but doesn’t eat much of the episode. It does, as normal, highlight the different personalities of the girls in the core group with Mei, the usually reserved one, being as determined as we’ve ever seen her to reach their destination.

Endro Episode 9

Once there though the story just goes for full cute and weird with the girls seeing the trees laden with cards, changing outfits, and then participating in a competition to become the cartado king by harvesting the rarest ‘wild’ cartado. It’s all kind of good fun though I do like that the end result of becoming the king is a one off lap around the village and that’s all the pay-off, other than the bragging rights which I’m certain Mei is definitely holding onto even if the village location is a secret.

As usual for this series, we get a lot of fluff and silliness, a bit of heart, and some weird antics. It all works well and the episode plays nicely. Now I just wonder why they don’t grow those trees in more places.

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Endro Episode 10 Review

Episode 10 of Endro is a little bit weird. Okay, a lot weird but only a little bit by Endro standards. The girls are on what was meant to be an ‘easy’ quest apparently sent by Mao which makes me wonder if the Demon Lord is back to trying to off the hero or whether the snow-storm was a genuine mistake.

Endro Episode 10

Anyway, while huddled in the tent, they start sharing their dreams for the future in the hopes of keeping each other awake. They kind of fail but it turns out a monster was helping them along by showing them what they were dreaming of. Needless to say, each of the girls is dreaming of what we know they want, heroics, food, cards, and boobs, but Seira is able to break free of the dream when she realises it isn’t real.

There’s not a lot more to this episode other than Seira breaking the others out of their dream with the rather direct approach of smashing their dreamworlds to pieces with a hammer before they eat the combined crystallisation of their dreams (yep, weird even by Endro standards).

Endro Episode 10

Still, if you just want a bit of fun, this episode certainly hits the spot. It also plays on the whole time travel element with Yuusha’s dream most definitely being a throw back to the memory of fighting the demon lord way back in episode one.

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Top 5 Anime By 8bit Studio

Tuesday's Top 5

When looking a bit more closely at the That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime anime I started wondering if there were any other anime by the same studio I liked. Turns out, not really, but I did manage to find enough for a list. While I will admit 8bit doesn’t have quite the catalogue of some studios, as I scrolled through the titles I couldn’t help but note that even the anime I’d watched from the list weren’t ones I had particularly fond memories of, with one or two exceptions.

Still, I have been wanting to look more at the studios, directors and voice actors in anime for awhile so this seemed like a good place to start and as always I’d love to know what you would have put on your list.

Honourable Mention: Comet Lucifer

Alright, if you ever read my review of this one you know I didn’t much like it so I was kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel to have an honourable mention. On the bright side, it isn’t unwatchable and I did finish and review it so I guess that gives it a win. The set up is actually kind of interesting, its just that the story takes a lot of weird twists and turns.

Comet Lucifer

Number 5: Knight’s And Magic

Here it is, the title that doesn’t quite understand how apostrophes work or really get pacing or plot development. On the other hand, much like Comet Lucifer from the honourable mention, Knight’s and Magic does have a really good core idea it is just the execution of it that doesn’t end up panning out. I think a lot of us watched the whole season just hoping it would pull itself together and it just never did and I’m still not quite over the flying mechanical dragon they pulled out for the climax.

Knight's and Magic - Ernesti

Number 4: Tokyo Ravens

Now this is an interesting title. I haven’t actually reviewed it at this point because I’m never very certain how I feel about it. Again, very cool concept and a fairly decent cast of characters on display. Where it falls down again is on execution with the pacing going from incredibly slow to skipping over things and tripping over itself sometimes within the one episode, but more than that, the main character is one of those ‘chosen’ one style characters who isn’t half as great as he’d like to be and he seems to be angry at the world because of it. For all the things I like about Tokyo Ravens I find him fairly hard to get into.

Tokyo Ravens

Number 3: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime

Another anime I’m very on the fence about. At the story came to a close last week I’m really thinking through where I stand on this anime. I can’t deny it was fun, because I definitely had some fun watching, but even now, when there are still extra episodes to air, I’m struggling to remember any particular detail from the story because nothing other than the main character is a slime, is really sticking out. Still, a well made production and very relaxing with a few laughs and a few decent fight sequences so it would be hard to say that there was anything actually wrong with it.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 19 Rimuru

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Number 2: Shounen Maid

Now this I actually really liked. While not an amazing anime by any means and certainly you could make the scenario a lot creepier than it is with the main character moving into his relative’s house and working as a maid, but the series is actually just kind of cute and charming. The relationship between the two main characters is more heart warming as they both help the other to become more rounded people, and it is all just sweet. The plot doesn’t go anywhere particularly fast but if you just want something that is sweet and a bit of fun, Shounen Maid will definitely work.

Shounen Maid

Number 1: How To Keep A Mummy

Another anime without much of a plot but it makes up for it in sheer adorableness. I actually didn’t realise this was made by 8bit but just seeing the art for it again made me smile. Yes, cute is the rule of the day, but there are some tender moments for any pet owner to enjoy, not to mention some laughs and a few more serious antics with the supernatural creatures. All and all though, this one is just a lot of cute bliss and one that is well worth taking the time to watch.

How To Keep a Mummy

So those are my picks but which is your favourite anime from 8bit?

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Reminder to Vote in The Best of Winter Poll

You still have time to get your vote in for the best of Winter 2019.

Remember you can pick up to three titles from the season.

Get your vote in before the 30th and be sure to tell your friends. The more votes the more representative the result will be of the community.

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Karandi James
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