UQ Holder Series Review – Well, I Made it to the End

Overview:

Tota is your usual powerless nothing in the village from the sticks but his guardian is something quite special. Their ordinary life disrupted, Tota is going to learn about fighting, magic and immortals and his ordinary life is never going to be the same.

This is a follow up to a series of OVA’s about the grandfather apparently though I hadn’t heard of them and hadn’t watched them.

Review:

This review is going to be pretty brief because basically you either like the formula UQ Holder is delivering or you don’t. Check list of things you need to like to really get into this anime:

  • All types of girls and many excuses to blow their clothes off or leave them disrobed
  • Generic protagonist that wants to be strong and protect everyone and for some reason is actually able to get strong (though may not end up protecting everyone)
  • Action sequences that go on a little bit too long and rely heavily on spectacle
  • Humour that mostly involves nudity or physicality
  • A story line that drifts from one thing to the next

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I didn’t actually dislike UQ Holder at any point but it isn’t exactly something I would rush to recommend to someone. You can kind of just turn your brain off and watch Tota charge at more or less everything and power up when it is suited to the narrative for him to do so. There are some interesting bits of history and lore in the story, though having not seen or read any of the prequel material I probably missed a few things there.

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Probably the worst thing about the show is that it ends with the bad guy doing a ‘I’ll get you next time’ and disappearing. So no resolution there and then the show ends the final episode on a cheap gag.

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The show really plays off the fact that most of the cast can’t be killed. Fights get seriously over the top very quickly and regardless of how you slice and dice the characters you know they are just going to get back up later. There’s seldom a reason to feel any real concern.

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Anyway, if you are curious, try the first episode. The first five minutes more or less tell you what sort of viewing experience you are going to have so you can make your own call. Don’t expect it to get any better or worse than its opening as consistency is one of this show’s key strengths.

Episode Reviews:


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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The Best of Autumn 2017

And the Autumn Season has come to a close bringing an end to the 2017 year in anime. While the poll for best of the year will get going tomorrow, for now it is time to reflect on the final anime season that 2017 had to offer. Starting with my picks, we’ll then look at the results of the reader poll. This was incredibly close this time with three titles changing back and forth with barely a vote in it for the entire duration of the poll.

My Favourite Show

Well, if you’ve followed my weekly season overviews you know season 2 of March Comes in Like a Lion has been on top every single week. However, it isn’t finished yet so it isn’t taking this out (though it so should by a million miles as I’m completely obsessed with it at this point). Yes, I rewatched season one and all episodes of season 2 that were out over the Christmas break and no I didn’t get around to watching Full Metal Panic for a review so, whoops.

With that one ruled out though, what took it’s place?

It came down to Land of the Lustrous and Girls’ Last Tour. I loved both shows but considering the final episodes and which one gave me a greater sense of completion and I have to give favourite show of the Autumn 2017 season to Girls’ Last Tour.

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My Favourite Character

This was super, super tough as there were so many great characters this season. It finally came down to two and I have to give it to Phos from Land of the Lustrous. I didn’t much like Phos when I first met them but over the course of the series and following along with Phos’ transformation as a character, they really captured me. However, other great characters from Autumn included Rei from March Comes in Like a Lion, Chito from Girls’ Last Tour, Morioka from MMO Junkie (okay, I just loved her), and Ena from Just Because.

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My Favourite Story

My favourite story was absolutely Land of the Lustrous, but for that whole slightly unfinished feeling. I still think it was the best story of the season. March and GLT are both more slice of life and drama driven than story driven. That said, I personally loved King’s Game because it is a completely terrible story delivered in a fairly terrible way. So, personal enjoyment fairly high but quality pretty low on that one.

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My Favourite Opening Theme

So many great ones this season. I mean I loved the King’s Game opening as it fit the trashy feel of the show, Juni Taisen was amazing with Rapture (my favourite thing about the show), MMO Junkie was just upbeat fun as was Girls’ Last Tour. However, my favourite for the season needs to go to March Comes in Like a Lion. I loved how the opening theme really captured the progress Rei has made in his journey over the course of the first season and where he is now. And, once again it beautifully matched the visuals to the lyrics and tone. Still, this one was incredibly close this season.

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My Favourite Visuals

No competition at all here. As much as March remained on point with its visuals (and is glorious as always) Land of the Lustrous was truly exceptional at showing us all what CG could do when handled well and not making our eyes bleed.

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Reader’s Choice – Best Anime of Autumn 2017

Here it is:

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Yep, the Ancient Magus’ Bride stole it in the last couple of days thought early on it looked like Girls’ Last Tour would take the lead before March Comes in Like a Lion managed to pull ahead. For so much of the vote these anime were within one vote of each other and the lead swapped a number of times.

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That of course brings us to the end of the best of Autumn 2017. Get ready to vote for best of the year with the top 3 titles from each season going head to head and that poll should be open tomorrow.

As always, I’d love to know what you thought about the season so please share your thoughts on the poll and any of the other shows in the comments below.


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Karandi James.

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The Worst of Autumn 2017

Something different this season, I’m starting with the worst so that the best can follow. I will admit, this season the poll had the most votes for worst anime of the season and there was a clear winner fairly early on. So, first I’ll share my picks for worst of the season (keeping in mind these are the shows I watched and not the ones I dropped) and then I’ll share the result of the reader’s poll. Be sure to check back later for the best of Autumn.

My Least Favourite Show

Despite a number of shows managing to disappoint or not live up to their potential this season (and yes there were a lot of amazing shows too but that means very few ended up in the middle either being fantastic or meh, dull or just painful), a clear winner for my least favourite show still emerged. Yes, it was the show I should have dropped after that train wreck of a prologue and I certainly shouldn’t have continued beyond episode 3 and yet I’m just not very good at knowing when to admit defeat. You guessed it, Dies Irae. A horrible mess of a show that never got any better and after watching a prologue and 11 episodes I’m still not really sure if there is any point other than crazy characters with super powers being crazy.

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My Least Favourite Character

This is actually kind of hard because there were a lot of very bland characters out there this season. I’d nominate most of the cast of Juni Taisen but none of them hung around long enough for me to really care enough about to say they were my least favourite character. And Asta (Black Clover), as much as he would win for most annoying voice of the season, hasn’t actually done enough of anything for me to care about him either. So, sorry to say but the character who I liked the least even though he is kind of important to the story was Koiwai from Recovery of an MMO Junkie. If I knew him in real life I would genuinely despise this guy. Regardless of his intentions, his actions are at times highly questionable and he has way too much fun stirring up Sakurai.

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My Least Favourite Story

Unquestionably Juni Taisen. I think what makes this worst is the advertising that insists on twists and turns in a plot that is utterly devoid of anything resembling a twist (unless a lack of twist is a twist these days). And really, where is the story. They fight, they die, we still don’t know what impact that had and we never had any reason to care about them. The few interesting elements of this show can’t save a plot that marches through the process of knocking off its cast without bothering to give us a reason why or making us care.

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My Least Favourite Opening Theme

Sengoku Night Blood, oddly enough. It isn’t that it is terrible but it is just painfully generic and unremarkable in any sense of the word. I guess it matches most of what the show delivers but to be honest this was the opening I skipped the most during Autumn.

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My Least Favourite Visuals

I have to give it to King’s Game. As much as I quite liked this story, the terrible depiction of deaths (heads getting screwed off, bleeding, severed limbs etc) just come off as incredibly laughable when they aren’t completely lame. While the rest of the show is just kind of average, for a horror that takes pride in knocking off its cast with alarming regularity they never really did manage to make even one death look in any way cool, interesting, or even just impressively real. For instance, in the image below, the guy is bleeding from the neck and his head is about to fall off. While censorship could be blamed a little, even that isn’t enough to account for how poor some of the visuals are in this anime.

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Reader’s Choice – Worst Anime of Autumn 2017

Well, here it is. I’m going to be honest in that I was hoping that Dies Irae would take over the lead but I guess I always knew what the majority of people would vote for. Thanks to everyone who participated in the vote this time round.

Worst of Autumn

Yes, King’s Game had an early lead and never really relinquished it. Clearly, bad horror left a bad taste in many viewers mouths.

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That’s it for the worst of Autumn 2017. Be sure to check back later for the best of Autumn post and remember the best of the year poll will open tomorrow with results to go out next week. As always, I would love to know your final thoughts on the season, so what did you vote for and which shows do you think deserved the title worst of the season?


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Our Love Has Always Been 10 Centimeters Apart Episode 6

Review:

I’ll get to a full series review of this shortly but I really look at endings like this and wonder about some romantic tropes that show up again and again. The girl waiting patiently while the guy goes off to pursue his dream might in the context of the show look adorable but other than sending her a DVD the guy didn’t even write. No emails, texts, letters, and not even a phone call. I don’t care how focused on his dream he was, if he neglects the girl for seven years and then expects her to be all smiles and gladness when he returns I’m failing to see romance and just seeing selfishness.

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Needless to say, while this final episode retains the tone of the rest of the show (so adorable for those into that kind of thing) and all of the students graduate and go off to their bright shining futures and all three of the girls and guys eventually get to their happily ever after all nicely paired up (so no relation to reality at that point) so basically this works as an ending. However, despite liking earlier episodes this ending just left a bad taste in my mouth.

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And I’m not just blaming the guy here. The girl has a phone and internet and the means to get on a plane. Nope. She decided to wait (as the show endlessly repeats). Only every time she said it I just wanted to slap some sense into her. Needless to say I won’t be rewatching this one but I’m guessing someone thinks this is a romantic conclusion.


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Just Because Episode 12: The End

Review:

This final episode adequately brings their high school life to an end and resolves most of the romantic tangles. It does however take its sweet time about doing so and by the time I was waiting for the post credit scene to get to the final resolution of Eita and Natsume’s relationship I was very much over the episode. Which is a shame because while the show has been slow it has never felt dragged until these final episodes.

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Still, despite that complaint, the story brings itself neatly to an end and while I’m not jumping up and down about this show it was certainly a fairly consistent watch this season with characters I found very recognisable even if I did want them all to take lessons on communication at one point or another. Obviously not everyone gets a happily ever after but no character gets totally thrown under a bus either so that was something I was pretty happy about (really was worried about photography girl).

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I’ll get to a whole series review of this soon.


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Just Because Episode 11: This Certainly Is Roundabout

Review:

With Soma and Morikawa coming to a tentative understanding last episode we really now are just waiting on Eita, Natsume and Ena to get their acts together and actually have a conversation. However, they are all waiting on something as well and episode 11 finally gets to that point.

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Eita and Natsume sit their respective entrant exams while thinking they’ll talk to the other after they get accepted (they probably should have had the conversation earlier but that’s life). Meanwhile, Ena works on the yearbook before finding out the results of the photography competition.

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One episode to go and then this sleepy little love story will draw to a close. I’ve had fun with this show but it is incredibly slow moving at times.

Remember, time is running out to have your say in the reader’s poll for best and worst anime of the season. This week the winner of the best anime poll has swapped three times so it is ridiculously close. If you haven’t voted click here.


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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 12: Do We Celebrate Yet?

Review:

There’s always a sigh of relief that comes with the end of a show that has become tedium to watch. This one doesn’t even get to declare itself a bad show. It is just kind of there. And that’s all that can be said of this final episode as well.

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The boys get together (wait, you thought they were warring factions) and they beat up the giant yakuma thing that showed up last episode for the sake of having a final fight given the warlords clearly aren’t interested in actually having a war. They get beaten pretty badly but do manage to pry what’s her name free from it and so you think maybe we’ll finally find out what is so special about her.

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Nope. Instead, we’ll just have the two main vampire boys suck her blood, start glowing golden and beat the giant thing up again. And that’s all she wrote. The resolution kind of remembers that she’s meant to be looking for a way home, you know because she was transported into another world in episode one in case we forgot given the lack of significance this fact had, and then the story ends. Just kind of nothingness right to the end and I feel writing a full series review of this is going to be challenging.

And be sure to have your say in the reader’s poll for best and worst anime of the season. If you haven’t voted click here.


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200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 13

Welcome to the final post for Black Clover that Weekend Otaku and I will be writing together. We’ve mutually agreed to end our joint coverage of Black Clover here. While I don’t think either one of us have fully committed to dropping the show, we both know we aren’t really enjoying it and there’s only so many ways you can say that before it becomes repetitive. However, we will be continuing joint coverage of The Ancient Magus Bride over on Weekend Otaku’s site (link at the end of the post if you haven’t checked those out). Meanwhile, you can check out our previous posts of Black Clover if you have missed them.

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Karandi’s Review:

This week brings us some more brilliantly nuanced character performances as the noble characters subtly display their disdain for Hage and its residents before valiantly offering to protect those beneath them who are in need. Oh wait. No, that isn’t right.

Okay, we get Salim play acting as the nice noble though due to the poor writing quality and the absolute lack of subtlety in this show it is quite obvious where this whole mission with Yuno is going before we actually get there. As such the audience is asked to endure a fairly painful meal in the church where Klaus continues an internal monologue of disdain while Salim plasts false smiles across his obnoxious face. It is almost a relief when the sister gets kidnapped.

What made this scene worse was Yuno’s reaction to Asta sending money. Yuno, due to lack of screen time and contrast with Asta, is about the only character I haven’t actively disliked in this show and then we get the scene this week where he reveals clearly he is every bit as stupid as Asta, he’s just quieter about it.

Then, just in case you were still hoping for something from this story, we get a standard sequence of Yuno flying/walking toward the very cleverly chosen location where Sister Lily is being kept captive and facing off with one bad guy at a time. Because of course, when facing someone really strong your best option is to individually take him on and spread you forces out so they can’t back each other up.

This show is just kind of painfully stupid to watch. The story does do what most other shounen shows would do and you could almost write out the plots of several stories that would use this exact sequence and yet here there is nothing fun or interesting to distract from the poor quality or simple nature of the story. I honestly can’t see me getting to the end of this show.

 

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

I half expected the detour in Hage to be simply that, given this show’s propensity for drawing out unnecessary sequences. With that said, I can appreciate the attempt to draw intrigue into some of the things going on in Clover Kingdom outside of Asta’s small point of view. As is usually the case with Black Clover though, the execution fails to impress.

The plot being more or less predictable isn’t too much of a disappointment, given that it led toward some more magic battling – something I’ve been wanting more of from this show since the end of the first episode. The problem here is in the lackluster experience, stemming from the gauntlet style one on one fights that Yuno spends about ten seconds on for each. Like every fight thus far (except maybe the one against Heath), there is no flash, no sense of the stakes, and no real tension. It’s just another set of scenes to get through on the way toward wherever this show is going.

On that point: with this episode coming in at the end of the winter season I had dared to hope that it would lay some groundwork for what’s to come. The most I could take away from the last couple episodes was that the Wizard King is interested in the brothers. I could be wrong, but I don’t think I missed any other major point among the tedium in between.

In the end there just isn’t enough to justify the time spent, at least in writing about it if not watching. I’ve enjoyed parts of this show more than I probably should have (I could be tempted to watch an entire season of Petit Clover), there isn’t much more I can say about it that I haven’t already. While the show may deliver something over the course of many episodes, one of the few reasons I may continue to watch, there simply isn’t enough substance to it on an episode by episode basis. Even for viewers who love shounen, Black Clover’s superficial approach to the genre’s tropes and lack of narrative leaves too much to be desired.

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 Thank-you Weekend, it has been a pleasure covering this show with you (and that was probably the best thing about the show). Be sure to check out Weekend Otaku’s blog for our reviews of The Ancient Magus’ Bride.

Karandi’s Random Reflection:

It has been so great following Black Clover and The Ancient Magus Bride this season with Weekend Otaku. I have a lot of respect for Weekend Otaku and his opinion so just knowing that he were going to read my random thoughts on episodes made me think about what I really wanted to say and saved me from just writing ‘Make it stop’ over and over again during the early episodes of Black Clover.

I’ll admit, the first half of this season was particularly challenging for me due to my work situation but having this ongoing project really helped and I want to thank Weekend for offering to work on an extended collaboration. I know both of us had weeks where viewing the shows and getting a draft of the post to the other and then reviewing was quite the effort and yet for 13 weeks we’ve both been there for the other.

However, this project has also made me shift my focus a few times because I would realise both Weekend and I had picked up identical points so then we’d have to think about what else could be said about the episode or whether there was anything else to be said (and sometimes we’d come up empty). I’m really glad we did this 200 Word Anime project during Autumn and I’m really happy that Weekend Otaku was the one I started this project with. It is definitely something I’d like to do in future seasons though one thing I have definitely learned is to not over-commit myself because it isn’t that unusual for my work situation to go crazy and I was really struggling some weeks. When I review by myself I just shift my post order around at will if I fall behind as there’s always something scheduled later I could move up (that’s a necessity if you are going to keep daily posting long term), but even with the couple of days we left as a buffer between the episode airing and when we wanted to have our post out sometimes it was a push.

Basically, a huge thank you to Weekend Otaku and everyone who has followed along with this series of posts.


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Anime-Gataris Episode 12: Death By Narrator, Nonsense, and No Direction

Review:

Anime-Gataris has become an increasingly convoluted and frustrating watch. Despite early indications that some catastrophe was coming, the final form it takes is incredibly random and the solution is equally non-nonsensical making for a fairly lacking finale that draws on the worst clichés of poor endings including the power of friendship overcoming anything.

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Now, I like a good Gurren Laagan reference as much as the next anime obsessed human but even that wasn’t enough to save this story from sinking into a swamp of its own making. It was almost like watching a dream play out on screen which meant nothing really had any weight and so wasn’t worth worrying about.

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I’m not sure how I feel about this series as a whole right at the moment but I know that this episode just kind of made me sigh. A lot.

Finally, time is running out to have your say in the reader’s poll for best and worst anime of the season. If you haven’t voted click here.


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Girls’ Last Tour Episode 12: Parting At The End of the World

Review:

For a final episode of a slice of life/post-apocalyptic anime this episode this episode of Girls’ Last Tour hits all the right notes. First we look back at the journey the girls have taken courtesy of their catalogue of photos that they have taken since receiving the camera. Also, throw in the most overt reveal yet of what happened in the past to get the world to this point.

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Add in a dash of danger and a threat so that this final episode feels just that little bit more dramatic than previous ones. This sends Chito into action in a way we haven’t really seen previously from the character who usually freezes in the moment. It was a wonderfully done segment and also gave us a glimpse as to how Yuuri and Chito’s journey started.

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Then we get a glimpse of the future and this is probably the weakest part of the episode because even though we’ve had plenty of build up this explanation still felt weak and rushed. I would have liked a little bit more from this part of the episode and yet it was still narratively sound and certainly does what it needs to do as part of rounding out this series.

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Finally, we have our feels with the girls reaffirming what we’ve known all along. These two belong together as they perfectly compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses. There is no doubt that neither girl would be alive without the relationship of trust and understanding that they have. And then they set off continuing their journey upward through the layers even with no knowledge of what they may find or even if there is anything to find.

This show has been beautifully done from start to finish and there is no cause for complaint with this final episode. I look forward to writing my series review for this one.

In the meantime, the reader’s poll for best and worst anime of the season will close at the end of this week. If you haven’t voted click here.


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