There must be something about the Autumn anime season and Goblins. Between Goblin Slayer, That Time I was Reincarnated as a Slime and now this goblins are getting quite the show casing early this season. Still, I somehow suspect these goblins aren’t the cute and friendly kind we met in slime and I also doubt they are going to give Kirito all that much trouble (though it is early in the season so who knows).
On that note, Kirito really is learning his limitations within the game world. Things he feels he should be able to do from past experience are proving beyond his current skill level and there’s a lot about how this particular system functions that he’s yet to understand. This makes it a pleasant experience and one we haven’t really encountered since Aincrad where Kirito isn’t already fully developed and ready to go. Sure he has a lot of past experience up his sleeves but clearly he’s going to have to work if he wants to employ that to maximum effect in this world.
As much as people make fun of Kirito being overpowered, in Aincrad while he was certainly a strong solo player there was always the risk of death and he was grinding hard to ensure he could keep climbing the levels (they just fortunately cut a lot of that process off screen so we didn’t have to watch it). However that meant that at each stage of that arc, Kirito was evolving as a player and a character and it was by far my favourite part of SAO. Alicization seems to be returning to that dynamic without actually doing a full reset on Kirito’s character and so far they are actually kind of pulling it off.
Eugeo is also remaining a pleasant enough character to get to know and I’m looking forward to how he changes under Kirito’s influence (and we do already know Kirito can influence him given he did back when they were kids even if neither of the characters remember it). Though, I’m hoping Selka is more than just the damsel in distress to get things rolling because it really seems like she could be a more interesting character than that.
All and all, the first three episodes of Alicization have been intriguing. While it is definitely a slow lead in to the story, there’s been enough going on to keep me interested and certainly I’ve enjoyed coming back to seeing Kirito in a virtual world, so I’m looking forward to more, and to when they eventually get around to showing us what is going on in reality.
Well, the sleazy concept here turns out to be a gimmick at best given despite the premise of guy needs to produce star children with twelve girls and each one needs a ritual that takes place on a large bed and involves the removal of clothes for some reason, there’s really nothing more to it. To be honest, I’m kind of happy Conception didn’t follow through for the simple reason that a lot of the female characters look way too young to be caught up in that kind of thing. But, there’s an issue of the gimmick part of this show being allowed to overtake common sense. Not explaining the ritual fully to Itsuki, or the dangers of the Labyrinth just kind of make it all seem like they are desperate to make some fairly dull viewing seem in anyway compelling.
And yes, I did just call a show that begins with a child being produced (somehow), goes to a flower viewing sequence before yet another child is produced between the same guy and a different girl before switching to the labyrinth where both said star children get hit and turned into what look like Russian dolls before Itsuki skedaddles, dull. At the thirteen minute mark I was checking the episode time convinced it had to be nearly over only to realise that was the half-way mark.
And what really annoys, is that under all the ridiculous trappings, there is actually something resembling an interesting plot. The visitor from another world having to defeat the labyrinth is actually kind of fine and if the girls could just entrust him with some ancient weapon of something rather than producing star kids, we could cut a lot of nonsense out and just have Itsuki win their trust, receive the whatevers, and then enter the labyrinth and go and defeat some impurity. But no, we have endless fan-service fuelled moments that by themselves aren’t bad, but they are poorly executed and seem to miss their timing more often than not. And that tanuki still hasn’t found a paper shredder to run himself through.
I’m giving this one more episode for the simple fact that I want to see if Itsuki is actually going to come up with a plan now that he’s been in the labyrinth though I’m not holding my breath for finishing this one.
As much as the first episode made a splash and instantly grabbed my attention with its zany and hard hitting first scene and a follow up that was fairly surreal mostly because the audience didn’t see it coming, episodes 2 and 3 had an uphill battle to maintain that. Firstly, the surprise is lost. We now know what this Zombieland Saga is about and so far there hasn’t been anything added to the plot beyond that initial zombie girls forming an idol group to somehow save Saga. So without surprise and without any kind of overall plot we’re left with a group of zombie girls who intermittently practice and perform slightly improved routines becoming more and more idol like interspersed by Kotarou (the manager and supposedly the guy who brought them back from the dead) shouting at them or generally being fairly incomprehensible in both his motives and actions.
Needless to say, this isn’t going to be enough for this to stretch a whole season riding on the shock enjoyment of episode 1. While meeting the now awakened rest of the girls is reasonably done, and the scene where they were essentially playing catch with Tae’s head while attempting to perform a concert and it ended up being a rap battle was amusing, and even the bad CGI actual idol performance in episode 3 kind of served its purpose if you are attempting to mock idol culture and idol anime, there just isn’t enough in this show to offset the lack of direction and the generally bad writing that even the most enthusiastic Mamoru Miyano (of Steins;Gate and about a zillion other anime fame) cannot seem to elevate beyond slightly eye-brow raising.
Not to mention, any pretence of this actually being a horror got thrown out the window once we started to meet our zombie crew. In the first episode, Sakura was alone and scared and neither she nor the audience knew what was really going on. It really worked as both horror and comedy. With no suspense left, nothing lurking in the shadows, and zero atmosphere to speak of, episodes two and three suffer horribly as they need to be carried by the momentum of the actual story (which we already established isn’t up to the task) and the character interactions (which might get better but certainly aren’t amazing here).
Now it isn’t bad enough yet to declare dead in the water, but without an injection of some serious chemistry between the characters or some fantastic plot direction, this one is going to end up wallowing in its own inadequacies before someone finally puts it out of its misery. A few good and eye-catching moments aren’t enough to hold an episode together and they certainly won’t hold a show together for a whole season without something sitting behind them.
Sakuta and Mai may very well have become my favourite couple this year during this episode. It isn’t that they are actually overly sweet on each other, though there are definitely those cute moments and I particularly loved Mai helping Sakuta catch some sleep and letting him know he’d done enough (okay, technically she drugged him so there might be some sort of issue there). No, it is just the atmosphere around the two of them and the way their dialogue flows back and forth with an ease and comfort that just makes them a pleasure to see together and to listen to. The give and take in the dialogue and in their actions just creates a beautiful chemistry that makes this episode a fairly solid third episode despite a few minor niggles along the way (please stop letting the characters run, they aren’t good at making it look like they are actually moving forward).
Outside of just how great spending time with this pair of characters is, this episode gave a very satisfying, if slightly cringe-worthy, conclusion to the mystery of Mai’s disappearance. There’s enough emotional tension built up and while you could get quite critical of Sakuta’s solution if you wanted to be really jaded about the whole thing, or if it just didn’t emotionally work for you, I really loved the moment finding it the perfect cap to three episodes I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
But, that leaves us with the problem of the rest of the season. None of us really knew what we were getting with this show and the whole bunny-girl thing put me off looking for information about the title so I’ve really been flying blind. While I thought they would stretch this mystery out longer, I’m really glad they didn’t and there’s still plenty to wonder about as it is quite clear Mai’s isn’t the only case of weird things happening. And, the anime does point a direction for the rest of the season.
The introduction of a new mystery to solve. After the Schrodinger’s Cat theory this time they have suggested we’re moving on to Laplace’s Demon which could be interesting but at the same time makes me wonder if we’re going to connect these stories together in a meaningful way or whether they are going to turn this into a series of cases the main cast just kind of deal with for a few episodes. Either option is fine, but to be honest I’m kind of going to want more Mai and Sakuta.
Here’s hoping the rest of the season can be as solid as the first three episodes have been.
After episode 2 just kind of meandered about in the past and really illuminated nothing that hadn’t already been surmised, episode 3 picks up right where episode 1 seemed to leave off and progressed things quite nicely. All the standards that you would expect from the plot kick in so this one won’t be getting any points for originality, but it is interesting enough as it sets the childhood friends up on opposite sides of the conflict, builds a fairly interesting relationship between Zhao and the Empress, and continues to have the military seem pretty brutal and pretty hopeless simultaneously.
The episode spends the bulk of its time with the sisters, Ning and Yin and that’s to the anime’s benefit as the relationship between these two is fairly entertaining. With Ning getting new arms from the magic scroll thing that seems to just spit up whatever the plot requires, we may have escaped a fallout between the two because of Yin’s over-protectiveness (and I may have just mixed those names up so I’ll check next week). However, another standard conflict may raise its head as the older sister tried not to kill the enemy leader whereas the younger sister, fuelled by rage and revenge, just swooped in and ended him. While her actions are understandable, they clearly took the older sister by surprise.
However, as fun as these characters are, there’s no escaping that the animation in this one is a little on the dodge side. Particularly during fight sequences where they seem to try to step things up and the end result is some fairly uncomfortable visual effects. It is a shame that the look of this show alone from episode one will put a lot of viewers off, because there’s definitely a potentially interesting story here and hopefully one that pays off in the end. If it all derails horribly, so be it, but right now I’m fairly hopeful for this one.
I have to admit I was curious when I read the description of this one on MAL and then the date it was said to come out came and went and I just assumed nothing I used was going to get it and moved on. Then an episode popped up on Crunchyroll. I’m kind of glad it did because while I was curious about it, I probably wouldn’t have tracked it down after the season was over so watching Voice of Fox now is probably the only way I would have ever seen it.
I caught zero character names during this first episode but I was still pretty fascinated by the characters. Sure they do that annoying thing where they start with the protagonist at some terrible moment before we go back to see how they get there but that is swiftly forgotten as the fairly solid OP starts and we begin to get a look at the characters in the actual beginning.
Let me just say, for 13 minutes, this first episode packs in a lot and there is almost no direct narration or exposition to get ideas across. Instead, we see the characters in action, whether that is singing, washing dishes, tripping security staff or whatever else they are doing and it all paints a picture of who these characters are and their role in the story to come. Admittedly, they do hit us with exposition at the end of the episode, but still this was a fairly solid effort and I was pretty caught up in the story.
While I can’t say I’m totally hooked on any of the characters given I can’t even remember their names, I really liked the set up, I took the hook with the whole ‘this message started everything’ melodrama, and so far the music has been really great. I’m going to stick with this one for a bit and see how it goes.
The story progresses and our intrepid potential marathon runners are now being coerced into training. Okay, that’s a lie. Some of them are coerced and others are now actually on board with the idea though their enthusiasm waxes and wanes with the promise of girls and how long ago they finished running. That said, Haiji is still a character I can’t stand and while I get he is a necessary plot driving force, if he happened to get side-swiped by a car while running I probably wouldn’t shed many tears.
Fortunately, the very solid execution of this show continues with some really solid animation and some really great incremental character development for the rest of the cast. They are becoming more and more likeable and interesting (with the exception of Haiji) and I genuinely enjoyed spending time with them as this episode essentially rinsed and repeated waking up for morning running training with a few diversions as characters tried to get out of it or took a trip to the bath house.
I’m kind of hoping next episode just gets Kakeru’s dark/tragic back story over with though because like some of the other characters I’m at the point where his attitude doesn’t make sense. If you don’t want to run move out. More importantly, if the whole point is that the team isn’t good enough to qualify, doesn’t that work out better for him because it means the farce will be over long before the main event.
Still, despite my nitpicking and personal dislike of a main character, this is a very solid anime and one that from these early episodes is a contender for one of the better anime of the season. That said, it probably won’t top my list because it will extend into next season and because while I really do appreciate what this anime is doing so far, I’m having more fun with some other titles that may not be quite as polished but for me at least are a little more light and entertaining.
Honestly, if you were waiting to see which shows were worth picking up this season, I’d have to say this one is so far pretty solid.
I kind of decided early in this episode I really don’t like Nana as a character. Despite her turning point this episode she just really rubbed me the wrong way early on in this episode and her inconsistencies and incredibly silly decision making just made me hope that somehow she’d be left behind in the parallel world.
Firstly we get the ridiculousness of her deciding to stay in the world because she’s getting married to a hot celebrity. That’s a really random decision to stay in a world that forces girls to get married at seventeen and you have no idea what else is changed in this new world, plus you are giving up your entire world and friends that you actually know. Then she changes her mind because she finds out his real last name when combined with her first name makes it sound like chocolate banana and she vowed she would never marry someone who made her name sound sillier than it was (how shallow is she).
However, if that wasn’t enough we then learn that the step-father is actually a pretty nice guy who saved Nana’s crystal radio from the rubbish when he first moved in with them and is actually trying to protect her. So her hissy fit last week is even less warranted. We also learn that Nana’s stubborn refusal to join the radio club is just more childish actions on her part.
Despite everything I just said about disliking Nana as a character, this episode was a decided step up from last week. It isn’t just that we got a cool fight sequence in which Nana, the girl of the hour, got a transformation sequence. It is just more intrigue into this whole idea of what twilight is and the ‘King of Twilight’ that not-Asuka is trying to find (though part of me wonders if there is a King of Twilight or if the Twilight world itself is sentient which would be a cool twist but hard to fight.
Anyway, I enjoyed this episode well enough but it seems this anime is going to be a rolling case of some moments that really work and others that make me want to bang my head into the key-board. Inconsistencies aside, there are some good ideas at play here.
Once again, Space Battleship Tiramisu proves itself baffling in the way it handles plot. It is almost as if it can’t handle having a plot or a direction for too long and after an episode or even half an episode it literally jettisons whatever thought process was being followed to throw something random in before the characters just seem to forget what was happening before (not entirely but enough that any tension that might ever have been constructed is instantly eroded). And thus it is that Isuzu holding the father hostage lasts until some random delivery guy shows up, proves he can also operate the Neo Durandel and Isuzu decides he’s had enough and runs away.
But it doesn’t make any sense. Isuzu was the only one who seemed to have a weapon or a team in place so he should have been able to either take the new machine or destroy it even if he couldn’t use it. And yet he just abandoned his plan and ran laving his enemies and their new shiny weapon perfectly in-tact. While I’m not asking for much in the way of logic from a show that featured a talking pubic hair in season one I’d at least like the characters to occasionally at least act in their own best interest.
Then, instead of looking at the massive security breach that has seemingly just occurred, Subaru and his father get on with testing the Neo Durandel and apparently some universe sense is awakening in Subaru. Let’s be real, the guy is just hopeless and yet somehow manages to occasionally win in space. But I did appreciate the use of yakisoba preparation as a means of testing deft handling of the Durandel and the image of Subaru drifting around surrounded by floating noodles was kind of amusing.
As always, this anime remains watchable enough with the occasional spark of really solid narrative and humour and then there’s everything else. Fortunately with short episodes that everything else doesn’t overstay its welcome.
You know, if I’d seen this a long time ago I’d probably be totally in love with it. But as it is, I just can’t help but feeling like just making the main character a little bluer and bouncier than the standard isekai protagonist isn’t quite enough of a distinguishing point. From a plot point of view it still feels like we’re very much in an introductory phase as our protagonist still knows very little about the world, something which isn’t aided by the fact that he doesn’t ask sensible questions. When asked if he was sure he should be giving everyone a name all at once he simply said he didn’t see a problem. Why wouldn’t you ask why the other guy was concerned? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
None of that is saying this show isn’t fun enough. My issue is it is very middle of the road. Some of the humour sticks and some of the action is kind of cool, okay the swift end to the leader of the dire wolves was very cool, but there’s a lot of very forgettable scenes as well and at the end of three episodes if I had to sum up this story it would be ‘bouncy blue slime thing eats stuff and makes friends with monsters’ which admittedly doesn’t sound too bad but also isn’t making me desperate to see what happen next.
Partially this is because there’s still no real indication that the story is going anywhere and while it is fine to focus on character exploration rather than having some urgent mission from the get go, I’d probably need to care more about the character for that kind of thing to work. As it is, I’m not overly concerned about Rimuru and now that the goblins and dire-wolves are teamed up, evolved and commanded to play nice with other species, I’m not overly concerned for their well-being either.
So while yes this will be pleasant enough viewing, unless the story takes a sudden turn after we get through the introductions I’m really not thinking that this one is going to end up in my top picks for the season. It is watchable, it isn’t doing anything overly wrong, last season I’d have been thrilled to watch it given how little there was on my watch list, but this season it is getting overshadowed quite a bit by other shows I’m more interested in.