Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Episode 3: Points for the Episode Title

Review with spoilers:

I’ve made it fairly clear that so far Zodiac War hasn’t exactly been amazing viewing and this week isn’t an exception. That said, I actually enjoyed this episode significantly more than episode 1 or 2 because the Chicken was actually kind of a fun character: you know, before they inevitably cut down the one character we’ve actually learned about during the episode.

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This show has clearly set its formula in stone with giving us glimpses of a character’s past and the messed up life they have had, as well as their internal thoughts about the other characters and the fight, before terminating their life in a gory and what seems to be an attempt at surprising twist at the end of an episode though given it has now been repeated three times that leaves something to be desired.

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However, the Chicken had far more personality and was far more interesting to learn about than either the Boar or the Dog, though no better at making me sympathetic for the ending we all kind of saw coming. If we get another plus out of this episode it is that the Boar is finished for good and isn’t a walking zombie boar anymore.

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Although, as the post title suggests, this episode has a pretty fun title though ultimately that gives away not only the death of the Chicken (though I guess that was kind of inevitable) but also the one who will strike the blow:

Cutting a Chicken with a Beef Cleaver

Clever? Yes. Leaving any room for any kind of surprise in the episode? Not really.

And once again we learn nothing of why the zodiac’s are fighting or who is in charge of setting up this match or even what they actually achieve if they win. I was pretty sure I was going to drop this show this week but then I kind of liked the episode despite having issues with the overall story (or lack of overall story other than ‘kill each other’). Still, looking at the good points of this show (it looks great, the character designs are interesting if a little crazy at times, there is definitely potential for the story, and well it is hard to really stuff up a battle royal too much) I’m probably keeping this on my watch list and maybe it will grow on me.


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Land of the Lustrous Episode 1: A Visual Feast

Overview:

In the distant future, a new immortal and genderless life form called Gems populate the Earth. The 28 Gems must fight against the Moon Dwellers, who attack them regularly to abduct them and to turn them into decorations. Each Gem is assigned a role, such as a fighter or a medic.

Being only 300 years old, Phosphophyllite is the youngest of the Gems and has no assignment yet. He wants to help to fight the Moon Dwellers, but is too weak and brittle for battle. One day the master of Gems, Kongou (Adamantine), assigns him the task of creating a natural history encyclopedia.

– from MAL

Review:

From the very beginning this episode is both beautiful and interesting. The premise is odd enough that it draws you in and as the episode progresses small details about the world and the characters are introduced. Never too many that you feel you are being subjected to an information dump, but a steady trickle of ideas that mean that by the end of this first episode it feels like enough has been stated to get the story started.

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While not much is known about any particular character at this point, the few we have met have been given definite personality traits that will hopefully flesh out with time. The shared desire to have a purpose in life kind of permeates all the interactions but never feels particularly heavy handed at this stage.

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However, where the show shines is in its visuals. While the CG may not work for everyone and the characters move oddly at times, given they are anthropomorphized gems it actually really works and the world we’ve been introduced to is beautiful. Fight sequences are stunning and the entire thing just feels well thought out from a visual point of view.

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Really glad I got to check out this episode and looking forward to the next one.


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200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 3

The third week of the Autumn anime season and  Weekend Otaku and I are sharing our thoughts on the third episode of Black Clover. If you missed it last week, here is our post on episode 2.

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Karandi’s Review:

I really don’t want to harp on about Asta’s voice and yet as I reflect on this episode the one thing that stands out to me is just how annoying it is. Over and over again he shrieks out repetitive dialogue for no apparent purpose and the inflection he puts on so many words is at best described as ear grating. This wouldn’t be a problem in a minor character, but Asta’s continuous screen presence with barely a minute between lines means that the audience suffers an ongoing assault by that voice.

Otherwise this is pretty standard train and prepare for the upcoming exam. Meanwhile everyone is still pretty much tearing Asta’s chances down (logical maybe, except this is shounen so there is really no way that he won’t eventually succeed even if he did fail the exam there would be some weird event after and he’ll get to move forward). This show has now had three episodes and while it is passable, it is really not going out of its way to impress.

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

When I saw the intro to this episode I thought the show was getting into something epic until I realized it was a sort-of flashback. If that’s what Asta imagined the Wizard King to be like, I can’t blame him for being enthusiastic. In any case, that sort of sequence might have served better for the series intro rather than the protracted start of a journey that this episode offered. While not a whole lot is actually happening, that’s not necessarily making the series bad. It’s kind of similar to how Hunter X Hunter started, but where that series had some charming characters to start off with (and some actual motivation for Gon), this one has a protagonist that really challenges viewer enjoyment.
I don’t know if Gakuto Kajiwara is to blame for the assault we’re getting on our ears each week or the directors for having him deliver that same annoying scream over and over, but just like Karandi (and I’m sure all of you as well) I’m having a really hard time putting Asta’s yelling aside and trying to focus on the rest of the episode. As for his character, I can see what they’re trying to do through his conversations about how someone’s station in life shouldn’t limit them. It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s been a bit on the nose so far and there’s little else to garner any investment in him.
Thanks Weekend and just a reminder, if you missed our review of The Ancient Magus’ Bride episode 2 you should hop on over to WeekendOtaku’s site and check it out.

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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 3: Sake, Herbs, Bees and an Attack

Review:

If the goal here is to walk through a loosely based on actual history historical setting where the cast have been replaced by pretty boy vampires and werewolves than this episode accomplishes its goal wonderfully. If there was an intention of actually helping us learn anything about these characters (other than the name of the person they are supposed to be) or to progress some sort of plot than this episode comes up short.

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That isn’t to say this isn’t still kind of fun. The vampire group meet with the werewolf group and drink sake before a contrived fetch quest sends the girl into the woods to look for herbs where she conveniently and for no apparent purpose steps on a bee hive. Seriously, they do nothing with that other than scene transition. Why even include it?

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We do however see that every single guy is going to fall for the girl regardless of her seeming lack of personality. So yes, plenty to criticise, but this still works from a switch your brain off and enjoy the pretty visuals kind of  perspective and there is still the possibility of the plot going somewhere as they do have a few scenes that indicate more is going on than drinking and flirting.


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Karandi James.

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Just Because Episode 1: Just Life

Overview:

At the end of the second semester of third year of high school, four students are prepared for graduation and feel the ending to their high school life. But that changes a little with the arrival of a transfer student.

– From MAL

Review:

Normally this is the kind of show I kind of hesitate to start because no matter how good it is I just know I’m going to end up wondering what the point of it is. Fortunately for me, it seems like most of the characters in this show are in search of a point or have accepted that mostly there isn’t one as they go about their frantic activities as their school lives wrap up.

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So instant relatability. We also don’t just follow one person through an entire day at school but rather move fairly fluidly from group to group with multiple individual problems, dilemas and ideas being introduced. While that makes it more or less impossible to remember all the character names after one episode, it gave a sense of forward motion that I usually don’t get from these kinds of stories and I greatly appreciated it.

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All and all, these characters have the potential to be charming enough, and there’s certainly enough possibilities for future events that could come up from the set up. While there isn’t anything new from a narrative point of view, I really did like the execution and pacing of this episode and am kind of keen to see more at the moment.


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Karandi James.

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Girls’ Last Tour Episode 1: Deceptively Charming

Okay, I kind of decided to give HiDive a go given it has a couple of series from last season I want to watch and this season it picked up a few titles I wanted to try. Not sure if I’m keeping the subscription long term but we’ll see how it goes.

Overview:

Civilization is dead, but Chito and Yuuri are still alive. So they hop aboard their beloved Kettenkrad motorbike and aimlessly wander the ruins of the world they once knew. Day after hopeless day, they look for their next meal and fuel for their ride. But as long as the two are together, even an existence as bleak as theirs has a ray or two of sunshine in it, whether they’re sucking down their fill of soup or hunting for machine parts to tinker with. For two girls in a world full of nothing, the experiences, and feelings the two share give them something to live for.

– From MAL

Review:

I’m not big on slice of life, but slice of life post apocolyptic style had a certain appeal and so I’m kind of glad I got to check this out. The first episode, while bringing you face to face with the horror of civilisation being dead, is utterly and completely charming.

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This is kind of helped along by the two leads who are adorable and their interactions, while fairly sparse considering they are the only two characters we see, are fairly grounded and yet both sweet and revealing. At times the themes seem to hijack the dialogue with some heavy handed anti-war statements but all and all, this is a pretty solid first episode.

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I’m looking forward to watching a bit more with these characters.


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Karandi James.

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UQ Holder Episode 3: Immortal Girls and Monsters

Review:

I have to wonder what this show actually thinks is its selling point. The action, while fun and all, isn’t particularly well animated and since pretty much every character of note is an immortal there is pretty much zero tension or reason to actually be concerned about the outcome. They try to alleviate the lack of tension by adding an artificial time limit for a test, but really given the basic narrative structure there was no other way for the test to end, so again, zero tension.

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If we looked at it from a comedy point of view, to be honest it is somewhat lacking. Not dreadful mind you, but there’s definitely better action/comedy shows out there if that’s what you are after. And the fan-service this week kind of vanished, so if that was your draw you are going to be out of luck.

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Mind you, none of this stops the episode being watchable enough. It just isn’t anything special and the show as a whole isn’t anything special. As I’m deciding my final watch list over the weekend, I seriously question whether this one will stay on it.


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Karandi James.

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Anime-Gataris Episode 2: The References Just Keep Coming

Review:

I really had a lot of fun with this episode. From a story point of view it is pointless. Girls recruit new club members and start a club which is then immediately challenged by I’m guessing the student council because what else do you do when you are a self-aware high school comedy focussed around a new club? Still, from start to finish they are packing in the anime references. My two favourites go to the shout out to Haruhi Suzumiya and Sword Art Online.

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Questioning her use of the word ‘standard’ here.
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This particular title will never get old.

However, for all that this is silly and fun, as well as slightly ominous with the talking cat and mysterious room mystery being totally ignored even though that is clearly the only chance of an actual plot appearing, this episode made an excellent point about how closed off the anime community sometimes is. Minoa is struggling hard to follow conversations and the logic of hard-core fans with well established arguments and at times you kind of realise why new fans might get turned away.

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It isn’t particularly deep and meaningful, but I think most people who are anime fans will recognise the scenarios presented. This one is definitely a surprise for me this season and I am so far really having fun with it.


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March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 Episode 23: I Missed This

Overview:

March Comes in Like a Lion is back and we are resuming Rei’s journey as he figures out how to live and what he wants. If you missed my review of season 1 be sure to check it out.

Review:

The second season has started and initially we find ourselves with a more upbeat Rei. He’s engaged with the science/shogi club and actually opening his window and not dreading the outside world. We quickly see however that as much as things are going well for him, there is no instant fix for the deep and complex emotional issues that have plagued Rei from the beginning.

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Still, there’s a more upbeat tone to the opening song and far more interaction from Rei with others than the first season ever gave us. He’s also proactive  in deciding to visit the sisters and to share his story with them. Emotionally this was a joy to watch as was the realisation that they aren’t sweeping any of the issues under the rug. The opening might be more upbeat but it isn’t all sunshine and roses and the visuals are still brilliant at depicting emotional states. All and all, an excellent start to a second season and hopefully I continue to love being on this journey with Rei.

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One criticism, just so it doesn’t look like I’m giving this show a free pass because of emotional connections, they hit us with the shogi cats in the first episode this season (just thankful they didn’t sing the song).

Anyway, loved this. Can’t wait for more.


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Code Realise ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Episode 2: Keeping it Simple

Review:

There’s something to be said for sticking to formula. It is like a well worn pair of shoes or jeans. You slip into them and you just feel comfortable. They may not look that great and depending on how worn they are you might end up not openly wearing them, but deep down you really love them.

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Code Realise isn’t my old favourite pair of shoes, but it is still comfortable viewing because it isn’t doing anything unexpected but what it is doing it is doing well enough. Blank Slate protagonist it actually had a few lines of dialogue this week that weren’t purely turning statements back into questions (though she still did that a lot – does this count as development), and the pretty boys in the mansion take her on a field trip (as you do when you’ve stolen something and are now trying to protect it). The schemers seem evil because they are, the pretty boys are all very good people with just that one black spot in their past to make them seem a little bit damaged and all and all this show isn’t treading one foot off of the very predictable path laid before it.

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Even the start where we had a quick scene of running followed by a guy pointing a gun at the main two before flashing back to how we got to that point is pretty much the oldest trick in the book for generating interest early in an episode where nothing actually happens at the start.

So after two episodes my verdict is that this relaxing to watch but I’ll forget it more or less instantly because so far it hasn’t done a thing to distinguish itself. Still, it works and looks good so if it is more your genre you will probably have a great time with this.


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