Lostorage Incited WIXOSS: From Beginning To End – A Journey of Loss and Longing

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS episodic thoughts

Airing in the FALL 2016 anime season, Lostorage Incited WIXOSS gave us a new and exciting instalment in the WIXOSS franchise. Girls playing a card game with deadly consequences – what could go wrong?

Here are my episodic thoughts as I watched during the season. If you want the full series review it is available here.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 1:

After kind of liking but not being into the original Selector Infected WIXOSS (and never quite understanding if that name was supposed to mean anything) I wasn’t really up for Lostorge Incited WIXOSS. Then I read a couple of fairly solid reviews on episode 1 and decided to check it out.

It’s definitely WIXOSS and that means for me it is watchable and entertaining but I’m always feeling a little bit at arms length from the story. The main character this time, Suzuko, is the kind of simpering and indecisive heroine I find grating and our main setup seems t obe around the fact that her childhood friend has also been made a selector.

The card battles themselves are where I find this series really loses me. Sometimes they have to end their turns, othertimes they attack when it seems like its the opponents turn, and they seem to pull attacks and cards out of nowhere because we don’t actually know what they can do so there’s no real tension going in to the first battle (because as if they are going to wipe out the main character in episode 1).

I did like that this season of WIXOSS isn’t trying to hide the nature of the game from the audience or the selectors (although I suspect that we’ll still find twists a plenty). If it feels like I’m being negative, I don’t actually mean to be. This is a fairly solid first episode  and doesn’t require knowledge of the other stories in the franchise so if you haven’t checked it out and you are looking for dark magical girls playing a battle card game (and let’s be honest, who isn’t looking for that) then you will get exactly what you expect going into this.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS is available on Crunchyroll.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 2:

Shifting focus to the other of the childhood friends, this week we follow Chi around as her carefully constructed life essentially falls apart in a series of unfortunate occurrences and bad choices. With nothing left to lost the final battle of this episode kind of defines what happens when good girls go bad and now I feel really bad for when Suzu finally finds her because this is going to hurt. A lot.

Previous seasons of WIXOSS prepare you for emotional pain but this season has hit the go button right from the start so it is hard to imagine just what these characters are going to go through before the end but I’m really looking forward to following that journey. I’m just kind of hoping someone comes out of it okay.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 3:

This week we are back with Suzuko, mostly. She’s still freaking out about the whole fighting others thing but does eventually enter a match.

Sister complex boy was interesting and tells us what it means to disappear, though this was kind of unnecessary given column writing girl takes the last coin from another Selector and we get shown first hand what it means to disappear. It kind of makes you wonder why they duplicate the information in this episode.

We also learn about a Bookmaker which may have felt like a bit of intrigue for future episodes except the preview of the next episode kind of tells you more information and takes a bit of the mystery away. This episode isn’t as emotionally confronting as last week but does show us a range of Selectors and how they are dealing with (or running away from) being chosen.

Now, not part of the review but a question: Why don’t the Selectors just battle the same person back and forth and agree to lose every second match? Is the time limit something imposed in total (as in if they don’t get five coins after so long they lose anyway)? Anyway, just wondering.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 4:

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS

Hanna is fast becoming one of my favourite characters even though at times her stilted speech pattern seems really affected and a little bit silly. Her inclusion in the story kind of balances out the tragic friendship tale brewing between Chi and Suzuko.

On that note, this week we met the Bookmaker and he is one creepy character. The fact that he isn’t a Selector and therefore not tied into the game against his will just makes him even more loathsome as he seemingly gets off on the desperation of others and while he doesn’t promise them an easy match he certainly implies that a Selector has hope when they do not.

Plus, his threat to Hanna and Suzuko may have been a joke but they can’t ignore the fact that it is possible he’ll work to block them from finding matches on their own which given the time limit on their coins would be a real issue.

As the episode title suggested this week, Chi and Suzuko reunite but it is all a little bit too late. Chi is quite clearly  a little bit broken after the emotional damage she took in episode 2.

All and all, this is a great episode and progresses the plot nicely (if by nicely you read that the writers are working very hard at stomping on any glimmers of hope a character may find). Thoroughly enjoyable though no actual information is given about what the end game might be. This is all character focussed and the game of WIXOSS remains as inscrutable as ever.

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Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 5:

Lostorage Incited Wixoss kind of fell flat this week and the reason is because we don’t gain anything from this episode. Certainly we consolidate the fall out from Chi and Suzu’s reunion and Hanna and Suzu finally face off (an event which has been on the cards since episode 1) but we learn nothing new about the game or even the characters involved.

While consolidation is all well and good, and setting things up for Hanna to finally get her 5 coins so we can find out what happens next, is interesting enough, there isn’t really anything in this episode that will make you sit up and take notice. Even the battle between Hanna and Suzu is pretty predictable given their relative personalities and what we’ve seen of them fighting so far.

All and all a watchable but unexciting entry in a show that needs to find its direction fast now that we’ve got our characters firmly established.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 6:

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS

I’m thinking the combination of the Bookmaker and Chinatsu is going to be an absolute recipe for disaster in Lostorage Incited WIXOSS; the truly great to watch kind of disaster.

While there is still no end game in sight for the actual game, the relationship between Suzuku and Chinatsu has definitely hit a critical turning point. Chi isn’t just rejecting her friendship anymore, she is openly wanting to overwrite anything and everything connected to it.

As justification for this, she’s re-examining her childhood memories and tainting them with her current self-loathing. While she might have had ulterior motives as a child, it kind of seems like she’s definitely allowing her current emotional state to overshadow anything that was ever any good about her friendship. We also get the interesting idea that maybe changing a memory could change the world but given this thought is floated from a child who has lost her mother it seems more likely that this is wishful thinking that is destined to be shattered.

All and all, this show continues to deliver a nice emotional roller coaster even while the plot kind of stands still and waits for the character to all get to the appropriate level of desperate before progressing.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 7:

Lostorage gets points for finally having a character (Shou) suggest what I asked a few weeks ago. Why don’t they just trade coins back and forth until the arbitrary 90 days runs out? Well, Hanna has an answer. Because you will still lose coins and not have all 5 at the end which means memories will still be lost. That’s a nice bit of exposition and effectively cuts out the only escape route I could see for the characters so well played.

Now that I’m done being complimentary, I’m going to honestly say I didn’t like this episode (and yet it was clearly affective at something because here I am well and truly blowing my 100 words talking about it). The start is dull with Suzuko bribing Hanna into teaching her about WIXOSS (but not us because why would you reveal anything to the audience) and then Suzuko and Shou meet for a walk down memory lane of how sweet Chinatsu used to be (okay, that’s not why they met but it is where the scene went).

The only importance of this scene is to show you just how far Chinatsu has gone toward the dark side (I had to) when she later sweet talks Shou into playing her and then absolutely crushes him without any mercy.

Now, I don’t mind characters who are deceptive or a bit nasty but my issue with Chinatsu is she threw off the chains that were tying her down and threw away Suzuko so that she could be whoever she wanted to be and this is it. She wanted to be the world’s most heartless badass card player. Yay for you. You’re officially a horrible person by your own choice and actions.

I was kind of hoping that Suzuko would eventually get through to Chi and even if bad stuff happened somehow both these two would survive until the end but now I’m kind of hoping that Suzuko actually takes Hanna’s lessons to heart and crushes Chi because to be honest, she’s got it coming.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 8:

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS

This was a really good episode and it felt like we hit a turning point for the series as we head toward the end. That said, I am about to reveal some critical information from the episode so if you haven’t watched it yet you may want to go do that first.

Really, really impressed with the truth revealed about the Bookmaker. It was one idea I’d considered but I’d half dismissed it and just assumed he would either be another player in the game or really just a sadist who genuinely enjoyed messing with others. The reality that he was a LRIG and is now in a human body gives his characterisation so much more reason as well as his genuine disdain for people.

This part of the episode was by far the best though I think Chinatsu’s decision not to hand in Shou’s contract was also kind of interesting as it gave her a small amount of redeemability (probably not an actual word really) as a character.

The weakest part of the episode was the declaration that Suzuko is stronger or changed which came through Hanna and then Hanna’s LRIG directly stating it. We don’t actually see much of a difference in Suzuko herself. Definitely a case of telling over showing so I kind of hope next week gives Suzuko some screen time so she can in fact reinforce the fact that she’s come somewhere as a character.

All and all, WIXOSS has continued to be an entertaining trip and as long as it all comes together this could be a fairly strong series.



Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 9:

We now have a clear link back to the other installments in the WIXOSS franchise but they’ve done this in a way that even those with limited familiarity will still be fine to follow the plot. Also, we finally find out what happens when you have all five golden coins.

This episode is intense. From Chinatsu ignoring warnings and continuing to bull-headedly believe that she’s now free and choosing her own path, to the LRIGs and the various games they are playing, to the object lesson of what some LRIGs think of being human, to the final battle and reveal, there is so much going on and parts of this episode get dark. It was a job to watch but definitely not light viewing.

This season of WIXOSS is delivering a fairly solid emotional experience though the question of whether they can wrap up their story in a satisfactory manner still remains.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 10:

While it isn’t hard to see the tragedy part of this episode, the comedy (even allowing that we go with an old school definition where characters simply triumph over adversity rather than looking for humour) is kind of missing which is strange given the episode title. What we have instead is some of the bleakest moments this series has given us so far.

While Suzuko is getting stronger and Hanna is reconnecting with her sister after the massive shock last week, Chinatsu and Shou’s lives are literally coming apart at the seams leading to a final moment, that doesn’t shock because you see it coming fairly early on but it certainly squashes your heart just a little bit and leaves you feeling just that little bit more hollow than you did before.

But while WIXOSS continues to be emotionally quite moving, the story really isn’t getting any clearer and if anything the Bookmaker made things even more confusing with some of his contradictory statements during his two battles this episode.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 11:

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS

So many shows  are delivering disappointing last and second last episodes but WIXOSS has been an exception to the trend as it refocuses squarely on Chinatsu and Suzuko, which has been the relationship that has really driven the events of this series.

I must say that Shou is going to get my vote for most tragic character in 2016 because his death (disappearance, replacement, whatever) was probably the most pointless and preventable. It was so incredibly tragic and the only mildly interesting part is that it shakes Chi enough that she can finally confront herself when fighting Suzuko.

Too bad it took the death of the one actually nice human being in the show to get her to start coming out of her downward spiral. However, with the conflict between Chinatsu and Suzuko all but wrapped up and Hanna finally facing life after WIXOSS (great name for a song mind-you), all that is left is what to do about the Bookmaker and whether either Chinatsu or Suzuko are  stupid enough to try to fight him.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Episode 12:

Okay, they have a second season of this coming so apparently don’t expect a neat little bow around anything. That said, the focus for most this season has been Suzuko and Chinatsu and this episode finishes their story quite nicely with Suzuko taking the lead for once and Chinatsu finally supporting her rather than trying to tear her down.

The show down between Suzuko and the Bookmaker was actually pretty interesting except that as always we don’t really know the rules of the game so it really just looked like they were pulling cards out of nowhere to one-up the other. While I’m not sure whether or not I’m up for another run of this, I really did enjoy this series and I’m looking forward to doing a whole review on it.

Images from: Lostorage Incited WIXOSS. Dir. K Sakurabi. J.C.Staff. 2016


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Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Days Episode Thoughts – A Viewer’s Journey In Watching A Non-Athlete Learn Soccer

Days Episodic Thoughts

Days is pretty much the story of two characters playing soccer together. One is supremely talented and the other has never played before and isn’t all that fit. That said, apparently all it takes is heart and effort because this is a feel good kind of story.

I think if I had to describe this series as a colour that colour would be beige. It is all pretty average but works.

You can read my full series review here.

Days Episode 1

I’ll admit it, I read nothing about this anime and didn’t do any further investigating after watching the episode.

It’s a sport anime so it isn’t my usual thing but I watched the first episode of Days out of curiosity (plus I’ve had one or two surprises even though the vast majority of shows in this genre just don’t work for me). I was pleasantly surprised.

Our two main characters contrast quite nicely (though there seems little reason why they are interacting) and the pace of this episode was quite well done. It didn’t feel like an extended commercial for soccer (football). Don’t know how many episodes I’ll watch but this definitely made me want to at least try one more so well done.

Days is available on Crunchyroll.

Days Episode 2

Days Episode 2

There is something really sweet about the main character in Days and that’s about the only draw this show still has for me. I kind of want to see him succeed and they have just the right ratio of failure and idiocy to success to string you along and make you keep watching.

That said, the short cuts in animation and storytelling make this episode of Days significantly less compelling than it might be. Why animate all the guys running up a hill when you can pan over still images of guys who might be running up a hill? Plus, there’s only so many running scenes and people huffing and puffing after running you can take in an episode.

Days Episode 3

Well, they finally played an actual game of soccer and it went as well as can be expected for Tsukushi.

Despite the usual training camp setting, the boys with clashing with boys from other schools, and the random moments of philosophy thrown in that you usually get with sports anime, this one is still kind of winning me over because I just can’t help but smile. I’m actively disliking the genre but the characters and the general uplifting feeling I’m getting while watching this is making it pleasant.

This was close to dropped after episode 2 but I kind of feel like I’m committed now as I do genuinely want to see where this team goes (even though it is probably the same place every anime team goes).

Days Episode 4

Days Episode 4 - you're living wrong?

I’m fully committed to this show now. I love Tsukamoto as a character. Yeah, he is incredibly lame and overly earnest and all of those other things but somehow he is carrying it off well and making me really want to see him succeed. The other members of the soccer club are also interesting and the introduction to the girls in his class this episode was entertaining.

This episode of Days is full of clichés and the ending is predictable but it is a very nice ride to get there. I also like that Kazama is still present in this episode but has definitely taken a back seat. Tsukamoto isn’t being endlessly protected by his presence anymore but they haven’t just made him disappear from the story.



Days Episode 5

The first half of this Days episode is slow but helps build things up to the tournament. We kind of get introduced to a new character but it doesn’t really feel like he is going to be sticking around and he was more of a stepping stone in the whole plot. I could be wrong though.

There are a few cringe worthy moments as Tsukamoto cheers from the side-lines and as usual he misconstrues a lot of what is happening around him, but by the end that seems to have washed away and we’re back to just being kind of sweet. All and all, a satisfying episode but not quite as charming as the previous one.

I still think it is weird that I actually care about the outcome of a soccer game but this anime has done a great job of making me want to see the team succeed.

Days Episode 6

Days episode 6 - philosophy about winning.

There isn’t that much more to say this week than any other. Tsukamoto continues to learn various parts of playing soccer, we have a firmly established rivalry between two school soccer captains, and we get to see how one of the seniors on the team is having a hard time playing with an amateur.

I actually kind of enjoyed the futsal game with the rival school captain and liked how we saw Tsukamoto internalising some of what he was watching from the other players. All and all, it continues its move forward and work hard philosophy. This episode was pleasant and enjoyable but not a lot else.

Days Episode 7

We finally met a mean-spirited soccer team. It seems insane that none of the players ended up with serious injuries after a match like that but otherwise this was actually really fun to watch.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed that, despite Tsukamoto’s short comings, most people have been supportive, but it meant there was little tension in each episode. Having an actual conflict to overcome was a nice change of pace. Plus, the captain finally took the field which may not have been the smartest move but was certainly entertaining. 

And early in the episode, Kazama finally has a revelation of value. Overall, this maintains its feel good kind of mood with an overloaded message about teamwork and trying your hardest.

Days Episode 8

Cheering for your own opponent?
Days Episode 8

Sport takes a bit of a back seat as we spend a lot of this episode with Tsukamoto and his mother. This episode of Days is adorable as we have a chance to really see how joining a team has affected Tsukamoto’s entire life and outlook. Then of course we get right back into prep for the finals as the team get pumped up and ready to go.

From a plot point of view, this Days episode is all set up and reflection, but it’s the good kind that feels like it is going to make the payoff worth the effort and not the kind that feels like they were trying to stretch the run time unnecessarily. Looking forward to the match next week.

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Days Episode 9

The final game is on and we finally get to see some of the better players actually playing well. That said, that’s about all we get other than a few flashbacks and a heartfelt message that was kind of obvious from the get go. There’s also some good rivalry between the teams. It isn’t that one team is full of jerks tearing down our favourites, it’s that both teams are competitive and in it to win.

It’s a reasonable episode but without the outcome of the game clear, it really is just marking time. Looking forward to what happens next week with the team though.

Days Episode 10

Days episode 10 - it isn't anything to cry about.

Must be the season for protracted final battles. This game continues on (in fact we’ve only just passed the half-way point).

Part of the problem is that they are trying to give each of the players a few moments in the lime light and while this is great for actually giving some of these names and faces a bit of personality, it is stretching this game far longer than I would like and makes this episode of Days feel a little drawn out.

That isn’t saying the game itself hasn’t been exciting. In terms of watching a soccer game, it is interesting enough. Kazama’s self-realisation that he hates losing was definitely entertaining. And I’ll admit, I was probably cheering the wrong thing when Tsukamoto got head butted on the side-lines.

Okay, next week here we come. Will we resolve this game or are we going to stretch it one more week?

Days Episode 11

Alright, when you’re one game of soccer needs a five minute recap at the start of the episode there’s a little bit of a problem with your narrative pacing.

That complaint aside (and it is a big complaint for this Days Episode), I was hooked for the rest of the episode to the point where I was actually surprised when the end credits started. And of course, we don’t know whether he got the last goal or not. I’d like it if he did but given everything else I kind of feel they’ve set it up for another case of Tsukamoto sending the ball flying off the field.

I guess we’ll know next week. The game certainly got more interesting once Tsukamoto took the field though I feel bad for all the other subs on the team because they don’t seem to have been given any field time.

Kazama is a bit emotional.
Days episode 11.

Days Episode 12

So after excessively long game watching, Days decided this week to just jump to after the match and allowed us to see the fallout. Turns out, nobody likes losing. There’s a revelation for us.

That said, I didn’t much mind following the characters around and watching them deal with their loss as well as coming to terms with what it means for them personally. Ubukata and Tsukamoto are particularly adorable in the second half of the episode.

The question then become, what next? Where do we go from losing this match? Hopefully next week will start pointing us in the next direction because this week chose to wallow rather than move us on.



Days Episode 13

There are times when you could almost forget that this anime is supposed to be a show about soccer.

The Days episode this week goes to a festival and then a study session and other than a little bit of running and conversation the sport fades well into the background. That said, at least we are getting some more time with the first year team members which is something we haven’t seen in a long time and realistically as a viewer I was starting to forget who some of the characters were.

This week continues to show us Tsukamoto as he tries to overcome the failure at the tournament and it really is show-casing that even though outwardly things have changed a lot for this character, on the inside he really hasn’t progressed that much but the little progress he has made has been for the better.

Days Episode 14

Days episode 14 - feeling self-loathing.

And we’re off on soccer camp and back into playing games but now our first years are getting a chance to play. This transition is nice and we’re learning a lot more about both the seniors and the first years by seeing them seek their motivation and trying to secure their position in the next tournament.

That said, mid-episode hit a slightly depressing note before they did their usual feel-good turn around. Hopefully next week can continue and we can get some more character development in amongst the kicking the ball around the field. Days continues to be a pretty even note anime. Each Days episode feels much the same as the last and the quality hasn’t noticeably gotten better or worse. It’s a nice consistent watch each week.

Days Episode 15

I’m starting to feel a little bit worn down by Days.

Not surprising really given it was never the kind of anime I’m really interested in. I still do like the characters and I don’t intend to drop this because I do want to see how they develop right until the end but I did find this episode of Days in particular a little tedious.

From the opening gag with the boys finding a bra to Tsukamoto’s excessive emotional outbursts and self-doubt (not really new to the series but this episode it just felt a little too much). Not to mention this episode individually accomplished nothing, though lay the ground work for future developments.

The only real shining part of this episode was finally getting to know Haibara. Up until now he’d very much just been in the background and this episode gave him a bit of a moment though it felt like the writers new we didn’t have a clue who he really was given they had almost every character say his name in about a five minute span (slight exaggeration).

All and all, this series is continuing as it has been going and I know it is only my attention that is starting to waver that made this feel like it was less than previous episodes.

Days Episode 16

Days episode 16 - focus.

After feeling like I’d hit my limit of this last week I was pleasantly surprised by this episode. I complained that Tsukamoto hadn’t really developed and they show us in the game this week that he is finally putting everything together in his own weird way.

I was annoyed by the general lack of tension or anything to really keep you interested and so this week we set up a whole series of rivalries both within the team and with the opposition. So after this episode I’m looking forward to the next one again.

Whether this is an ongoing change or whether this is just the last hurrah before this show falls into the forgettable realms of mediocrity still remains to be seen. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode this week and now I want to know how the next game goes.

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Days Episode 17

Okay, I was ready to call this series dead in the water after we had over 3 minutes of recap from the previous Days episode before the opening song. 5 minutes in and we only just started with new material. However, that’s when things got better and didn’t stop.

The game this time is actually quite intense and the events at half-time (the end of this episode) leave you wanting more. You also see some of the results of the journey each of these characters have been on throughout this series which is something we’ve been wanting for awhile.

This episode doesn’t make this series a must watch again. This show has been fairly hit and miss in terms of tone and pace right from the start and once the novelty of something different (for me at least because I don’t normally follow anything sport related) wore off what I was left with was a fairly generic story about someone who felt they were useless gradually finding out where they belonged and working hard to achieve a goal.

All and all though, this episode was kind of exciting to watch.

Days Episode 18

Days Episode 18

My opinion about Days as a series is unchanged.

There’s a number of issues with pacing and characterisation going on. This episode, however, I loved. From start to finish I was absolutely engrossed. It helped that the main focus of this episode were the characters on the team we’ve spent the most time with.

It also helped that they continued their development as characters and players that was kicked off last episode. Kimishita and Tsukamoto particularly come out of this episode quite strong and even Kazama has an off-field revelation spurred on by the team manager, Ubukata. It’s a great way to finish off this two part game and it really feels like all of the episodes up to now have had some ort of purpose.

I am starting to think that part of the problem with this team’s lack of consistency is that no-one really gets what the Captain is thinking because he’s a really poor communicator. Great soccer player or not he really isn’t a great leader and that leaves his players at loose ends far too often. That said, compared to some of the other Captains we’ve encountered in this series he isn’t too bad.

Days Episode 19

Days doesn’t do all that much this week and yet kind of does what it needs to. The summer camp ends (and amazingly Tsukamoto and Kazama are just over their conflict so that was a plot thread that went nowhere) and they are now in the preliminaries fighting for a spot at nationals. Events kind of blip past and we don’t spend a lot of time on the field but more watching how the players are getting read to deal with this new challenge.

Of course we spend time watching Tsukamoto freak out and question his own abilities. We end the episode 1 game into the preliminaries with preparations for the next game but of course its pouring rain so there’s our new challenge ready to go. It isn’t that this wasn’t fun to watch but it is definitely a bridging episode so by itself doesn’t amount to much.

Though, if you ever want a lesson on how to have an awkward conversation with a parent, just ask Kazama. He’s nailed this as an art form.

Days Episode 20

Days episode 20 - yep, mindless cheerleader.

Days continues into the tournament and we injure yet more players before the semi-finals. Of course, we only make it into the first couple of minutes of that game before it is episode over.

So what did we do for the rest of the Days episode? Well, we spent a lot of it with the team they are facing in the semi-finals and I still haven’t figured out the point of that choice. Either they are about to win and knock Seiseki out, in which case that’s the end of the road for Seiseki. Or they are about to lose, in which case we won’t really see these guys again so why do we care about them starting up a soccer club?

So yeah, I didn’t see the point of a lot of this episode but generally I’m still enjoying Days and I’m looking forward to the last few episodes this season.

Days Episode 21

The game from the last Days episode continues and we see both sides make some mistakes and we also get to see the team’s first years struggle to deal with the pressure of suddenly being forced into a high pressure game. At the centre though is Tsukamoto who has finally genuinely found a love of the game and not just of being included as part of the team.

For once we see him playing with a smile on his face and not crumbling under the pressure or fear of letting the team down. This is a fantastic step forward for his character and it was great fun to watch. I also liked the commentary from the characters who’ve been sidelined in this match.

All and all, a fun episode in this series but nothing really amazing. Of course ending the episode with a ball flying toward the goal but not knowing if it lands or not is just kind of annoying. We’re 21 episodes in, we don’t need bait to come back next week.

Days Episode 22

Days episode 22

After two full episodes of Days the game still isn’t over and I must point out that the animation definitely took a downward turn again this episode. Normally that doesn’t bother me but the sheer number of still images this week, plus some really terrible faces on background characters, kind of ruined the overall tension of whether or not they’d win this game.

I like how the benched players are still being kept involved in the game and are offering their thoughts as we go. I like that most of the players on the team, even those that usually take background roles, have all been involved. However, this week offered a lot more on field bickering for both teams than what we’ve been used to in Days and it was a welcome relief when Usui (as acting Captain) got Seiseki back on track.

Days Episode 23

So this Days episode surprised me as it made me care time and again about the outcome of the game even if it feels this week like it was a foregone conclusion. The ride getting to that final goal was definitely exciting.

Of course, once again, we spent the entire episode watching the game and in honesty I didn’t much care for the other team and those characters so those moments were a little less than satisfying. Looking forward to next week and how this season concludes.

Days Episode 24

Days episode 24

Well, if you made it this far through Days you won’t come across anything surprising in this final episode of season 1.

Basically if you have enjoyed the ride to here you will smile, reflect, remember the journey the characters have been on and generally just be happy to be a part of the Seiseki experience. There’s no added depth here, no surprises, no last minute twists in the story.

Days, as it always has been, played this last episode straight focussing on the characters we’ve come to love and then it left us wanting to see how they go in this final game and whether they go to Nationals. Thanks. Season 1 review is available here an I’ve not watched the OVA so don’t know if they go any further or not.

Images from: Days. Dir. K Uda. MAPPA. 2016


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Alderamin on the Sky: From Beginning To End – A Journey of Discovering The Difference Between Lazy and Efficient

Alderamin on the Sky

Alderamin on the Sky (or Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin) is a military fantasy anime that mostly works. The lack of ending is a bit of a problem as is the overall pacing, but if you like Ikta’s approach to life you’ll have a lot of fun along the way with a fun enough cast and some interesting ideas.

What is it about?

A lazy boy (who is also an outrageous flirt) is going to take some exam for the army (because a friend of his has asked him to) but while on route their boat starts sinking and they are forced to bail. Naturally they rescue a princess and then end up behind enemy lines. Though really that’s only how the story starts and we’ll move through more than one military campaign during this series.

While I have written a full series review below you will find my thoughts on each episode of the series.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 1

Not what I was expecting. I very nearly just skipped right past this series thinking I was sick of the every guy joining the army and being amazing and all the girls flocked to him.

While there is definitely a bit of that, Alderamin on the Sky distinguishes itself in two ways.

One, they aren’t currently sitting in a military school and doing training games that may or may not take on a serious tone later.

Two, the main character actually seems to have a bit of a personality and child-hood friend girl doesn’t seem either the overbearing sister type or the pathetic wimp.

Whether I enjoyed this first episode so much because it defied my expectations or because it was good I’m not sure. Looking forward to the next episode.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 2

Alderamin Episode 2

Really loving Alderamin so far. It’s been awhile since a pure fantasy (other than Snow White) has really caught my attention. And Endride (which was my last attempt at this genre) was truly, unwatchably dreadful and I gave it away by episode 4.

Mostly I am finding the protagonist interesting. Yeah, he’s got a dark past and it’s damaged him so the standard orphan with chip on shoulder cliché is well in effect but he isn’t grating on my nerves and I genuinely want to see how he will deal with the situation he’s now been thrust into.

Possibly this will lose momentum once the introductions are over and done with, but I’m really hoping for something good here. The first two episodes definitely impressed.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 3

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Okay, they went to officers school and part of me rolled my eyes thinking that they just couldn’t resist shoving our characters into a school setting and I expected this episode of Alderamin to go downhill from there.

And yes, there is the usual bullying scenes and our eccentric (lazy) protagonist sticks out like a sore thumb, but then we transition into a training exercise and it feels like a real combat situation (rather than two characters having a duel for the sake of it).I also like that none of our main group seem to be the hotheaded type that rise to needless provocation. That type of character tends to bore me to tears.

Also, Solork’s command issues linked to past indiscretions is a nice touch as it adds some weight to the playboy persona he occasionally adopts but we haven’t really seen any direct evidence of in the series. I continued to enjoy this series and was pleasantly surprised at how entertaining it continues to be even while it doesn’t feel particularly new.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 4

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Yatori is really impressive.

With Solork  being so much smarter than anybody else (which makes you wonder how anyone has won a battle prior to Solork showing up) I was really worried that all of his companions would exist just to be pushed around by him and to show off how smart he was.

Yatori in this episode of Alderamin shows that she is capable of seeing through his strategies (even if her rigid adherence to the chain of command prevents her from doing much about them) and that she can act on her own. We already knew she was physically impressive but this episode showcases that aspect as well.

I’m really enjoying this series and I’m glad that Yatori has had a bit of a moment in this episode. The softer aspect of her personality that came through at the end was nice as well. She really is starting to feel like a character rather than an accessory.

But, can they do something about the Princess? Her character at the moment serves little purpose other than to create a sense of drama.

Oh, and I almost forgot to point out that they won the war game. Seriously though, that one was never in doubt.


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Alderamin on the Sky Episode 5

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I kind of know I’m into a show when they deliver a whole episode of flashback and I still love it.

Alderamin timed this perfectly. Just when they’ve shown how well Yatori and Ikta work together we go back to where it all started for them. It’s a cute and charming episode and the wolf siege has just the right amount of drama to be affective. That said, because the entire episode is essentially a flash back the plot this week kind of crawled to a halt.

Overall, great character development, still a thoroughly enjoyable fantasy, and I really can’t wait until the next episode.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 6

While from a plot point of view this episode of Alderamin seems weaker (just another obvious set-up for Ikta to show off his amazing brain), the characters and the writing of this anime continue to make for a pleasant viewing experience.

The change of location was nice and the interactions between characters, new and old, were entertaining and the episode passed swiftly. At some point they are really going to need to explain why all these guys have spirit helpers with them because that aspect has been woefully under-explained and at times we forget the spirits exist at all until the plot calls upon them to act.

This continues to be one of the strongest series this season.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 7

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Alderamin continues to be better than it probably should be. Last week they lay the foundations for a new conflict, this week we see the first stages of that conflict and next week we’ll probably see our core characters resolve the conflict or at least make steps to resolve it. It really shouldn’t be as interesting as it is but I’m totally hooked.

Every episode passes quickly and I just love watching the interactions between the characters. It would be lovely if not every official in the Empire was actually a jerk, but clearly we’re not going to have that wish fulfilled, but otherwise there are some really interesting supporting characters appearing in this anime.

Also, this anime is getting my vote for quote of the week: “Common sense arguments only work on people who have common sense.” Truer words were never spoken.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 8

alderamin8

Continuing the battle in the mountains things take a turn for the worse this episode due to the inept command and lack of preparation for a battle that by all appearances the commanders instigated but weren’t ready for. While this helps to endear us further to the core group and to really feel for the plight of the soldiers, it also feels like something is lacking.

The entire military cannot be made of idiots, regardless of Ikta’s personal views. The obvious trap set up early on in this episode takes some of the emotional punch out of the final scene but Alderamin continues to be a very solid show.

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Alderamin on the Sky Episode 9

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It feels now like this battle is getting stretched out for the sake of it. While there are some very cool moments in the battle and Ikta has a few moments of self-reflection, overall nothing really progresses.

The military are still trampling through the mountains, blindly trying to fight an enemy that knows the terrain and is really, really ticked off. One character who raised a death flag during an early conversation somehow managed to avoid it whereas another character walked straight into his death trap. Unfortunately, I didn’t care enough about either of those characters to be really affected by it.

Alderamin is still my surprise favourite for the season (in terms of new shows), but this episode was so-so.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 10

alderamin10

After last week’s rather ordinary episode, this one seemed to go out of its way to hit us hard with some of the best things about Alderamin.

First we re-established why Ikta and Yatori are actually still the heroes of the story even though they are officers in an army that pretty much sucks. We then get a very humanizing moment for Ikta that works quite effectively as he apologies to someone (for something he didn’t do) and bears the consequences (which will be permanent).

What I liked most about this moment was his explanation afterwards where he points out he didn’t have time to win with words. Seeing him forced into unfavourable action really helps make his character believable when so many times he seems to breeze through situations unscathed.

The core group all renew their resolve and have a bit of a pep-talk before we’re back to business (I wonder if they’ll bring the Princess back or if she’s just stuck narrating for the rest of the battle). We’ve also established a new enemy and this one seems like it will be a challenge to fight. They may have taken binary opposition a bit too far in the strategist from the opposing army but it looks like we are in for an entertaining battle.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 11

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After setting up a conflict between two geniuses last week, this episode really just had the two of them testing the other out. As a result, we had a skirmish with some loss of lives but nothing really decisive. Everything really feels like it is just waiting for the real show to begin.

With that said, I’d like to criticise the main theme of the second half this week, where Ikta’s second in command and Matthew both came to the realisation that people are going to die in the rear guard action. I really hate this in stories about the military where people in the military suddenly realise they might die. It always leaves me thinking ‘what did you think was going to happen when people stood and shot at each other?’.

That said, it looks like we have 2 episodes to go and I’m fairly curious as to how this will actually end.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 12

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With one episode to go there weren’t any surprises this week but that didn’t stop this episode from being dramatic and engaging. It was excellent to see Ikta and Yattori’s relationship continue to be a pertinent motivator even amongst the crisis.

It was also great to see Torway not just be involved in the battle but actually making some decisions about how to deal with a situation on his own (with only a little prompting). Possibly the weakest aspect of the episode was Ikta’s inability to figure out what the enemy was up to (given some of the insights he’s had previously it just seemed plot convenience for him to get stumped now).

That said, I’m really looking forward to the last two days of this retreat to see how they handle things.

Alderamin on the Sky Episode 13

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Ikta finally woke up and figured out a plan to get around the unsleeping guy and that was nearly anti-climatic in the end. Not because turning the tables mid-battle with words alone (after a show of force) isn’t impressive, but the fact that it happened mid-episode followed by a stilted and awkward conversation between the two (with a wonderful barrier of fire separating them) just kind of made it all seem kind of blah.

The rest follows Ikta and the Princess reuniting and her very odd request that makes a really bizarre amount of sense given the context.

“You will lose the war in the right way.”

That said, now I do want this show to continue because while watching these characters and this conflict I’ve kind of become invested in where things will go and while it is tied up enough that we could leave it here, I’d really like to see more. But, all things considered, it seems unlikely that another season will come along.

Images from: Alderamin on the Sky. Dir. T. Ichimura. Madhouse. 2021


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Karandi James


91 Days – From Beginning To End: A Viewer’s Journey Through The Murky Path of Revenge

91 Days Episodic Thoughts

91 Days is at its core a mafia story about revenge and illegal alcohol. In 2016 this anime received a lot of hype prior to release and early episodes certainly made it feel worthwhile. However, could Angelo’s story of vengeance really hold audience’s interest for the whole season?

91 Days is available on Crunchyroll.

91 Days Episode 1: A motive for revenge.

91  Days Title

This was a promising first episode for 91 Days.

We’re introduced to a young man and his motives for revenge. His friend is good with chemistry (helpful for making illegal alcohol and blowing things up apparently). We have all the usual mafia idiocy of overly macho men talking big and then having to follow it up with knife/gun fights.

The tone is pretty serious in this episode (so don’t think Baccano) and the opening credits play more like a black and white movie than an anime. I’m definitely interested at the moment in this but will really need more of a connection with some of the characters if I’m going to get right into this.

91 Days Episode 2: Complicating the act of revenge.

91 Days Episode 2 - Revenge for a fallen comrade.

Like with a lot of mafia shows, almost every character in this story is unlikable.

They are thugs and hypocritical and lack empathy for anyone outside of their own little circle. That said, I don’t dislike 91 Days so far.

It is far more serious in tone than the other shows I’ve picked up this season and I just don’t see how this situation will end well for anyone, but it has created tension and drama in the first two episodes and established a clear motive for our protagonist, even if his plan seems a little complicated (assuming he has a plan and isn’t just winging it). Definitely going to keep going with this.

91 Days Episode 3: Revenge and consequences.

91 Days Episode 3 - Avilio wants revenge.

91 Days continues to be a solid period drama and while little happens this episode, we do get to explore the fallout from the dead bodies at the end of episode 2. Which is kind of a nice change from most stories where they focus entirely on the revenge rather than the dealing with the death of a character and the issue of the corpse.

There are some seemingly significant moments with each of our main characters as we learn a little bit more about their thinking and approach and it looks like we are continuing to move towards Avilio’s revenge, though we still aren’t getting too many hints about whether he has a grand plan or if he is just taking things as they come. While this is moving slowly it is definitely engaging.

91 Days Episode 4: Put the revenge on hold.

91 Days Episode 4 - No revenge this week for the mafia anime.

I found at episode 4 I am enjoying 91 Days less and less. I still do want to see how the revenge eventually is resolved but watching Avilio and what’s-his-name roam around the countryside and running low on cash wasn’t exactly fascinating.

While this episode is full of what might be touching character moments, the plot has literally screeched to a halt and I’m just not that invested in the characters. Oh, and kids who pay for a juggling act with grasshoppers are probably the reason they tell you not to work with children.

91 Days is still an excellently made show, but I’m feeling that if it continues at this pace I’ll probably let it go and marathon it once it is done because in this 20 minutes I didn’t get much out of it.



91 Days Episode 5: Gotta catch them all.

91 Days Episode 5 - More death for the sake of revenge.

They return to the city this week and I have to admit I’m going to need to rewatch 91 Days from the beginning because at this point I really can’t keep the families and their names straight. Which makes this episode with the plot heavy on betrayal, deals and backstabbing particularly hard to follow.

Although, we could simplify. Nobody likes Nero and Avilio would be better off just letting nature run its course (as his friend tells him Nero is going to die even if he does nothing). But that’s not good enough for Avilio who is apparently the completionist of the gangster world and won’t be satisfied unless he gets them all.

I did enjoy this episode more than last week but as I said, the details of the show are starting to get confused because I probably haven’t paid close enough attention.

91 Days Episode 6: The road to revenge never did run smoothly.

91 Days Episode 6 - Bold proclamation.

I really think this is going to be one of those shows where everyone ends up dead.

91 Days just keeps twisting this straight revenge story so that everyone is playing everyone else and you can just see a massive body count when we get to the end of the line.

That said, this episode was really interesting. It moved quickly from Nero and Fango making a deal, to Nero negotiating with Orco, the inevitable double cross and fire-fight, and then the final sequences where it is absolutely confirmed that Fango is completely crazy (and not in a fun kind of way).

I like that you never know when Avilio is playing someone or being honest (or being honest in order to play someone). There’s some clever writing and some great work with the voice acting.

91 Days Episode 7: Dead men walking.

91 Days Episode 7 - Everyone wants someting.

I’m pretty sure this episode of 91 Days affirmed my conclusion from last week; everyone in this anime is going to end up dead.

This episode more or less confirms that the ultimate end for all these betrayals and intrigues is a bullet. It really feels like this show only has one reveal to go and that is who is the extra person involved in the killing of Avilio’s family (and will he still be alive for Avilio to kill when he finds out who it is).

Until then, we’re just going through the motions of having Avilio pressing just the right buttons to have the others more or less self-destruct. Maybe there will be a better twist coming, otherwise it really will be just watching this to see the inevitable end of this revenge tale.

91 Days Episode 7.5: Recap episode – enough said.

You know, Cheer Boys did the whole recap thing awhile back and I expressed my dislike of recap episodes that add nothing new then. At least when it did it, they added some narration and they were following a high point in the series.

91 Days follows the killing of Frate (which might have been emotionally interesting but is hardly a major plot progression) with a recap episode that literally gives us nothing new. It did however make me wonder why Avilio hasn’t changed his haircut throughout his entire life. That is the level of engagement I had with this episode.

Now, 91 Days has put itself on the back foot because if the next episode doesn’t do something good, I am going to go from finding it interesting enough to being frustrated with it.

91 Days Episode 8: Problems with revenge.

91 Days Episode 8 - Changed by revenge.

Corteo is going to be a problem. Okay, he is a problem. He’s a problem for the other characters and he’s a problem as a character. I won’t spoil the developments in this episode but I do want to address the problem of Corteo as a character.

He is Avilio’s friend. He wants to help him but has no desire to be involved in the shady world of the gangs. Which all makes perfect sense as does his hesitancy at certain times. What doesn’t make sense are his actions this episode (no specifics to be mentioned).

It’s just impossible to figure out what he is attempting to accomplish so when it goes wrong you just roll your eyes at the inevitability of it all and you still don’t know what Corteo wants. Does he still want to help Avilio? Are his actions somehow supposed to help him? Or has he just slipped off the deep end?

91 Days Episode 9: Revenge and its cost.

91 Days Episode 9 - Didn't see it coming when seeking revenge.

Corteo is captured but not yet killed. Kind of surprising really.

This week felt like the story of 91 Days was done diverting us from the central narrative by watching gang in-fighting and seemed to get right back to Avilio and his revenge. Who is the elusive letter sender? Who is the fourth killer? With that focus back front and centre the story was far more compelling than I’ve found it in recent weeks and by the end, when Avilio figured out who was behind recent events at least I was actually really engaged with this story.

While at times the characters seemed a little off visually this week, this is probably the best episode 91 Days has delivered for awhile.

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91 Days Episode 10: Revenge or suicide?

91 Days Episode 10 - Revenge or suicide? What's on your mind?

If I wasn’t sure before this episode more or less confirmed that Avilio has no intention of surviving his revenge quest.

With that piece of information in mind, his actions throughout the whole series make a lot more sense because at no point could I see what his exit plan was going to be. This isn’t to say that his death is guaranteed, but it does make it clear that beyond his revenge he has no plans, and the number of death flags raised this episode make it very doubtful the anime has any plans to save him last minute.

Who else will end up dead? Or more importantly, will there be anyone or anything left when the flames from this revenge burn out?

Corteo’s death this episode is not tragic as it is definitely the result of his own choices and has been inevitable for awhile now, but the execution of this death was perfect for the tone of this story. While this episode is slow moving it hits all the right notes to draw us back into the story after a middle that seemed to lose its way.

91 Days Episode 11: Burn it down.

91 Days Episode 11 - No future for those who seek revenge.

Turns out we have one more episode of 91 Days, but this was a highly entertaining episode. The first half was all semi-ironic statements about planning for a future (that we should all know by now was never going to exist) and the second half was metaphorically about burning everything down (though less flames and more knives and bullets involved).

I do question how incredibly lame you have to be to have two guys stabbing someone else multiple times and still not actually succeed at killing him, and worse, allowing yourself to be killed by the wounded beast. Anyway, this episode brought us to the conclusion that everything (right from the killing of Avilio’s family) has been for nothing because nothing is going to survive the war that has now been ignited.

I’d ask if Avilio is happy with this outcome but the answer to that is obvious. I still think this whole story would have been more affective with less episodes as the middle really felt stretched out, but I am very satisfied with where we are going for the conclusion.

91 Days Episode 12: The conclusion?

91 Days Episode 12 - Where revenge leads.

Now the weakest part of this series so far was the diversion from the whole revenge thing to go on a road trip. So, for a final, how about we get a taste of the war going on and then send our main characters on an echoing road trip again only this time it will be really depressing? Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

While I appreciate that all the way through, 91 Days has attempted to ensure it was building consistent metaphors and themes, being reminded of my least favourite moments from the mid-season and the general feeling of failure and pointlessness that permeated this episode really just made it a little bit flat.

I’ll admit, this anime is going to be hard to review because it is a good anime but there have been moments all the way along that I haven’t liked as much..

91 Days Episode 13

91 Days Episode 13

It feels like it has been forever since 91 Days was on, though I guess that is hardly true. Still, my series review of this tale of revenge was a long time ago so I wasn’t really sure what to make of the release of an episode 13 in the middle of the Summer 2017 season.

I guess there isn’t really a lot to make of this. Instead we see three fairly disconnected stories that do fill in some character gaps or relationships that we knew about but didn’t really get to see in the series, but ultimately nothing here is needed for the series nor does it radically change your view of anything or anyone.

For a stand alone, it kind of is nothing. Not bad or good, it just kind of floats along and really if you didn’t already know the greater narrative there would be nothing at all to this. With some attachment to the characters and knowing how some of these relationships end up, it has a little more impact, but still is hardly going to knock your socks off.

So for die-hard fans of 91 Days, this one might be worth checking out, and given it is only a standard episode length it isn’t a huge time investment, but it is hardly something you need to rush out and watch.

Images from: 91 Days. Dir. H. Kaburagi. Shuka. 2016.


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Karandi James


D Gray Man Hallow – From Beginning To End – A Dramatic But Not Fulfilling Viewer’s Journey

D Gray Man Hallow - Episode Guide

The original D Gray Man anime came out in 2006 and ran for 103 episodes before just kind of abruptly ending more or less mid-battle and the series vanished from notice. Which is a shame because I absolutely loved it and it was a case where even tracking down the source material wouldn’t help because the manga kept going on hiatus as well and wasn’t finished.

So with the announcement in 2016 of a return for D Gray Man with Hallow, I was thrilled. Would it be a reboot and kick the series off again? Turns out no. It was a continuation but with new character designs and quite a few other new things thrown in as well. That said, D Gray Man Hallow ended up being an interesting enough watch even if it didn’t quite hit the spot I’d hoped for.

Anyway, the story is about Allen Walker who is an exorcist of sorts, but Hallow more or less kicks off with him being accused of siding with the Akuma and Hallow is not something you can jump into without having watched the original series. So for fans of D Gray Man, yay. For everyone else, there’s a lot of episodes to watch but even unfinished this series is kind of fun (dark but fun).

Below are my episodic thoughts of the series.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 1

So D.Gray-Man Hallow (other than adding even more punctuation to the title than I remember) tossed us straight into the narrative. We get a brief fight sequence where we see our core exorcists fighting (just to remind us what their weapons are and that they are awesome) and then we are heading to the new exorcist headquarters (the old one was kind of destroyed – watch the previous episodes).

No time to breathe as we get into the usual Allen/Kanda bickering before Allen is hauled away to continue the ongoing plot where the Black Order suspect him of having ties to the Noah and the Millenium Earl. It works and doesn’t stop for any explanations or recaps so it isn’t friendly to the uninitiated but it gave me exactly what I wanted and that was the story to keep moving.

There’s also a great cliff-hanger ending and some more hints about what the Bookmen are up to. Yay!

Still not 100% sold on the new character designs but it isn’t as though they are ugly, just different.

Loved this episode and really looking forward to the next.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 2

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 2

This episode is classic D Gray Man in everyway imaginable (good and bad). While we get a few moments and discussions around the greater battle and the exorcists plan as usual Allen and crew are mostly in the dark so let’s put aside the main plot and go investigate a random thief who may or may not have Innocence.

Well, there’s a reason the show already ran 103 episodes but has actually progressed the plot about as far as most anime do in 24. That isn’t to say that this episode is bad. As I said, it’s just the way D Gray Man has always been. And it flips the switch between random and ridiculous humour in a fight sequence to deadly serious (and hey, soon to be dead orphans) so quickly.

It makes you laugh, groan, roll your eyes, fill with curiosity about all the things you don’t know, support the exorcists (or at least the ones you like) and fear the enemy (which isn’t easy given their frequently clown like appearances). I know that this aspect of D Gray Man always rubbed some people the wrong way but for me, even though the tone is all over the place, it just feels right.

All the different elements come together and combine with overly dramatic music and fight sequences that just make you sit up and take notice. Besides, other than Kaneki (Tokyo Ghoul), I’ve yet to meet a protagonist other than Allen Walker who I genuinely feel is in peril on a regular basis.

Oh, and Kanda was awesome this episode.

D Gray Man is available on AnimeLab. If you haven’t watched the original, you really have to before you can watch this, but it is worth at least trying (this is one of the few series that hadn’t been given any kind of resolution that I still rewatched over and over). Of course, if you don’t like your anime dark than maybe give it a miss because this one has some real pain in store for its characters even if it isn’t as visually confrontational as some of the more contemporary anime.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 3

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 3

Spoilers abound if you haven’t watched the episode. Normally I avoid critical plot points in episode reviews, but this one kind of needs to be here.

I’ll cover the bad first. The animation and character designs took a serious dive in the second half of this episode. Which in a series where the original was way too dark and the animation was passable but worked with the atmosphere and now the reboot has taken extreme liberties with the colour and character designs seems risky. Change was fine after a long break but further reduction in quality isn’t.

From a plot point of view this episode nicely wraps up the orphanage story, introduces yet another type of Innocence and has someone who doesn’t possess Innocence defeat an Akuma (which if you haven’t watched a lot of D Gray Man won’t seem like such a big deal except that it is a major plot development). Now I want to know what the Crows are up to and how underhanded they’ve been to acquire that power and I’m positive it is going to have some really nasty consequences down the line.

And Allen… Okay, we knew right from the first episode of Hallow that there was some serious focus on what was going on with Allen and whether or not he is part of the Noah, but this was fantastic. When his sword stabbed him I kind of had an ‘oh no’ moment because I remembered what happened when he used it on a Noah in the previous series and yep, this was not good.

Though, in true D Gray Man style, rather than let this happen now, they give us just a taste of the disaster awaiting our characters and then Kanda swoops in and snaps Allen out of it. Though, I’m going to be honest, I felt like Allen was off for the remainder of the episode and I wonder if that is deliberate or just a by-product of the change in character design. Really wanting to know where this one is going.

So, still in love with this show but would really appreciate some consistency in the animation quality – not asking for amazing animation because that would be out of character for the series, but just stable performance. It is really rare for an action anime to get me this emotionally invested but D Gray Man succeeded in the original series and it has managed to maintain that feeling now.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 4

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 4

It may just have been me, but I felt all the characters were excessively chatty this episode. So many new bits of information dumped very quickly in fairly awkward lines of conversation, to the point where we jumped into a battle mid-way along and really don’t know where they are fighting or why because nobody bothered to tell us that. I’m thinking this is probably necessary when we’ve only got 13 episodes, but that doesn’t make for great story telling.

Don’t get me wrong, this was still good fun and there are so many looming catastrophes you just kind of feel like you’re waiting to see which one manages to hit them first, or whether they’ll all strike at once.

My main complaint would be the Millenium Earl. In the original series he was an amazing villain. Yeah, he laughed and did all the cliché villain things but there was a sense of genuine malice about him. Unlike most villains, I really believed he intended to destroy the world. New Millenium Earl is just kind of meh. It took a lot of thunder away from the episode.

Meanwhile, Allan is definitely having some identity issues and Kanda seems to be the next character to finally get some sort of details added into his back story. Given everyone else, I’m thinking this is going to be tragic.

Looking forward to whatever new tragic past and future disaster this show will bring us next week.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 5

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 5

Right, I’m back to fangirling.

This episode was amazing. From start to finish I loved it. I loved that the scientists had some focus time, and I really, really hope they don’t die tragically in the next episode or two, though given it’s D Gray Man, they actually might kill them off. It would be too much to hope that the directors of human experimentation (and I know that isn’t their title but it really should be) get killed off instead.

The Noah attack on the base, Allen coming to the rescue, the brief moment of comedy before the fourteenth tried an extreme hostile takeover on Allen, the scuffle that followed and ending with Allen seeing Alma and Yu’s memories… It was a near perfect episode. Okay, the pacing was all over the shop and the comedy, while very D Gray Man, probably interfered with what was otherwise a super tense moment, but I just loved watching this episode.

I think this show highlights what I enjoy about D Gray Man. Allen charges in to save a comrade and lands on the Millenium Earl and has to be first told that he has just landed on the main villain, meanwhile he’s looking around at all the other hostages and Noah thinking ‘what is going on?’.

The following exchange that goes from deadly serious to comedy to slapstick and back again might rub some people the wrong way but it is what I love about this show. And then it ends just when things are getting even more interesting meaning I now have to count the days down to the next episode.

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D Gray Man Hallow Episode 6

Image from D Gray man  Hallow Episode 6

It must be the week for flashback episodes because D Gray Man sees us spending almost the entire episode inside Kanda’s memories. This episode is particularly affective because the audience have always known the the dark order were not exactly the white knights of the world and that they have been up to some pretty despicable things, however seeing it from the viewpoint of 2 children, with Allen thrown into the mix, really hits home and makes you wonder who the villain of the story really is.

That said, I am going to criticise the constant over the top expressions this week. Seriously, at times you could have mistaken Allen Walker for Atsushi from Bungo Stray Dogs from the way his face was twisting around. While the comedy elements of D Gray Man usually hit home and make a nice relief from the otherwise overwhelming darkness, this week it just interfered with what was in all other respects a pretty compelling episode.

Kanda also suffered from some really ridiculous facial contortions this week which just felt out of character, even for a younger, test subject Kanda.

Alma is an interesting character and while we mostly see him from young Kanda’s viewpoint, seeing him toward the end from Allen’s point of view just adds to the many mysteries surrounding him. While at first he seems like the annoying little brother character found anywhere, he actually has surprising depth for a character we’ve only just met.

Road is back. She was always one of my favourite among the Noah and she doesn’t disappoint in her few moments of flirtation with Allen. While I’m not sold on this voice for Road, her playful tone undercut with a whole lot of malice is still well in effect and as always you just have to wonder whether she likes Allen or wants to kill him or both.

Lastly, Wisely gave us an excellent line early in the episode prior to getting buried in the flashback when one of the exorcists asked him to leave Alma alone. “We’re the Noah. We have no mercy to show you guys.” This kind of sums up why the Millenium Earl and the Noah are among my favourite villains ever.

Yeah, they are kind of trying to destroy the world which on the surface seems like a stupid goal, but unlike so many other self-proclaimed super villains on a mission to the destroy the world, you kind of believe that the Noah are actually committed to the goal and have the power to back it up. There’s an absolute callousness about their characters that tells you that they can and will cross any and all lines.

In the original 103 episodes, there are a lot of events with the Noah that back this up. They aren’t all talk. They aren’t the gloaty villains sending their minions out while they criticise their efforts. These guys bring pain with them.

So that’s my overblown thoughts on episode 6. Clearly I’m still very attached to this series and even with the idiotic facial animations this episode still dragged me into the story and didn’t let up until the credits rolled.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 7

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 7

When D Gray Man first came back, one of my biggest worries was that it wouldn’t be the dark and emotionally turbulent story I knew and loved. The last two episodes have really put that worry to rest. I am really thankful for previews of the next episode now because I was genuinely worried about the fate of one character this episode and got no closure before the credits on whether he was still alive.

On this episode, we continue our journey through Kanda and Alma’s memories until Allen decides he’s had enough and breaks out. However, as Road points out, it’s just a little bit too late and things in the real world are only getting worse. Still, that final shot of Kanda is all kinds of awesome so looking forward to next week.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 8

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 8

Is it possible to become darker and more tragic than child experimentation in the name of saving the Earth? D Gray Man makes a good attempt at answering that question this week when Allen is given a choice of ending the fight between Kanda and Alma by joining the Earl.

Obviously he refuses, but that’s more or less what the Earl had in mind and things only get worse from there. We do get a very classic Allen and Kanda moment mid-battle but it is a brief reprieve and by the end we realise that no matter what the outcome of this battle is going to be, Kanda is going to be even more emotionally damaged than he was going in, and that cannot possibly be a good thing.

Amazing episode. Still loving D Gray Man.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 9

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 9

Too much to say. Firstly, Alma and Kanda Yu’s saga decided to take things and make them just one step sadder and they were already pretty devastating.

I loved how Allen helped them this episode and feel that if anything ‘good'(?) was going to come out of it, Allen found the best possible solution to one of the worst situations for two characters to be in. And the brass’ reaction is pretty much expected at this point and time. Brand Allen a traitor. Because nothing inspires loyalty in your troops like doubting them, arresting them, performing medical experiments on them, etc.

Why does anyone even still work for the Order? It isn’t like they are doing such a great job in fighting this war. Maybe the exorcists would be better off forming their own order. One that isn’t crazy and sadistic.

Anyway, despite being told he’s committed an act of treason and that if he doesn’t retrieve Alma he won’t be an exorcist anymore, Allen continues to try to save one of the exorsists that has Alma’s cells inside of him going crazy. And you know, he was even kind of succeeding until Link shows up right at the end just in time to make things worse. Yeah, we know there’s a whole thing going on with Allen and the Fourteeth, but time and place Link.

On the other hand, Kanda actually thanked Allen. I couldn’t believe it. Over a 100 episodes and for once, Kanda is actually grateful for Allen’s well-intentioned soft-hearted intrusions. Admittedly, Kanda has been through a lot in the last three episodes, but that was unexpected and totally heart breaking simultaneously.

If I have to complain about something, it would be the fact that the Earl and the others seems to be sitting around having a tea party while the exorcists are doing all this in-fighting. Hello, Earl, are you actually serious about defeating anyone? Because this episode would have been the perfect time to do it.

And from the preview of next episode it looks like after this the bad guys are just packing up and leaving even though right now they really could crush the Order and there really isn’t anyone left to stop them.



D Gray Man Hallow Episode 10

Image from D Gray Man  Hallow Episode 10

Just what the show needed, more infighting on both sides and more complications (I’m being a little sarcastic).

This was a great episode. Characters reflected on the previous battle and began manoeuvring for the next rounds. There was a good balance between depression and feeling sorry for themselves and the desperate humour that the characters interject in order to stop the audience falling into a chasm of self-loathing. Allen and Link’s discussion in the prison was touching.

Lenalee and friends being force-fed to try to get over the losses in the battle and to think about the next fight was both funny and sweet as we once again realise the bonds these characters have built up throughout the series. And the leaders of the order continue to be completely arrogant and I really wanted the ceiling to fall in on them. Oh, and Lavi and Bookman look like they are in some serious trouble.

Plus Road showed up again. Even when she isn’t doing much, Road appearing is fantastic. A lot of emotions in a fairly low key episode when you consider that action-wise almost nothing happened.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 11

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 11

Does Link actually taking action for Allen this week redeem him for not trusting Allen in the first place? Probably not, but at least Link made a decision and didn’t blindly follow orders. While they didn’t show us his ultimate fate, it kind of seems like that’s more or less it for Link at this time.

We still didn’t find the heart but we now found a ‘special’ kind of innocence that exists to protect the heart and we now know who killed Cross but we don’t know why. That said, the Cardinal’s actions force Allen out of the Order and the thing is, it kind of felt like going with the Noah was the less horrible decision to make which given some of things they’ve done really makes you wonder what the Order is up to that the Noah are a better choice.

Of course, Tyki and Road are just kind of awesome so if Allen had to go with the Noah at least it was those two (cruel and twisted though they both are).

I just need to mention Lenalee. For most of Hallow she’s either been background or absent, which is a shame because in the early days of D Gray Man she was a very tough fighter and she helped Allen out a lot. Okay, she did go through that whole part where her innocence broke and she couldn’t fight but she finally overcame even that. Seeing her spring back into action at the end of this episode was definitely a great moment and I am looking forward to seeing some more next time (assuming they continue with this and don’t go off on some weird tangent).

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 12

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 12

With only one episode to go this show is most definitely going to leave us hanging again (let’s just hope we don’t have to wait that many years for a continuation again). That said, the show is also determined to break our hearts. First we get a reminder that Allen has had his arm destroyed previously (thanks for that memory).

Then we have Road disappearing fairly dramatically after brining us a fresh reminder about Mana’s message to Allen about moving forward. And then we get Lenalee appearing right before Allen uses the gate to leave (possibly for good even if he did promise her that he would always be an exorcist no matter what happened).

Of the three events, that was the one that really got to me because Allen and Lenalee have always been two very broken characters that have used each other numerous times to find the strength to carry on. Inside I was begging Lenalee to get off the ground and dive through the gate after Allen (but we all know that Lenalee couldn’t leave the order or her brother at this point and time because she has no identity outside of that at this point).

While this episode was heart-wrenching for long time fans, was it a good episode? Objectively I’d have to say no. We simply pick up where we left off and essentially set up obstacles to stop anyone who isn’t supposed to get to Allen from getting there.

No new information is revealed and while it is dramatic to see so many sore points raised for a single character, this doesn’t lead to development (although there the preview for the next episode kind of tells us that we have reached a critical turning point for Allen so it will be interesting to see what they do next).

I know I’ve been fan-girling a lot over this series and that isn’t about to change but we’re getting close to the point where I’ll have to review the series as a whole and while there’s been a lot to like the essential problem remains the same: if you haven’t watched the original you are missing too much to really care about any of these touching moments.

If you have seen the original, a lot has changed that you are just having to accept or you are going to be frustrated. It’s going to make any kind of review really difficult.

D Gray Man Hallow Episode 13

Image from D Gray Man Hallow Episode 13

As a season end this was kind of lame (assuming 13 episodes is season end). Nothing is resolved and we have one character on the run, another one returning from being on the run but not really re-joining the team and two characters still in enemy hands but then again, I never expected anything to be resolved in 13 episodes. It’s been a long running series and nothing has ever happened that fast so the fact that the Kanda and Alma story was wrapped up as quickly as it was surprised me earlier in the season.

This episode as an episode was really enjoyable. Seeing Allen and Cross after they first met and getting some more hints about Cross’ involvement with Allen becoming the Fourteenth was interesting. Actually being reminded that Lavi and Bookman are still in the hands of the Noah and the Noah being their usual callous selves was entertaining (though, they hurt Lavi so now they have to die – sorry).

Lenalee being her usual overly emotional self before Kanda’s return felt really nostalgic and the crystallisation of Mugen (while downplayed within an already packed episode) was something I’d kind of been waiting for given the enemies just keep getting stronger so eventually our exorcists are going to have to catch up or die.

By the way, is Link actually dead? I know we saw his gravestone but it just seems really kind of anti-climatic for him to have died then.

Alright, whole season review of this is going to be tough to write but look out for it. If you are still deciding whether to watch Hallow, basically don’t bother unless you have watched the previous D Gray Man. While you might catch up on the storyline, without the emotional connections to the events, it is going to be pretty flat. That said, if you have watched the original, while there are definitely stylistic difference, from a story point of view this is a great continuation, we just need more.

D Gray Man Hallow - Episode Guide

Be sure to check out the full series review.


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Karandi James


Momokuri – From Beginning To End: A Viewer’s Journey With Cute Stalkers and Awkward Romance

Momokuri Episodic Thoughts

What is Momokuri about?

Yuki Kurihara falls in love with a boy in the grade below her and wants to know everything about him. She follows him around and takes photos of him and later progresses to straw stealing. Okay, she’s basically a creepy stalker but Momokuri is going to play this as cute and somehow it is kind of going to work.

After she has taken 100 photos for her collection she asks him out and to her surprise, he says yes. Now we have two clueless people together and a whole lot of spectators wondering just what is going on.

Episodes of Momokuri are only about 12 minutes long and they kind of run two together so the episode count is a little all over the place.

momokuri
Nothing to be concerned about… really.

Momokuri Episodes 1 + 2

I am nominating Yuki Kurihara as the cutest stalker anime character I’ve seen. Unlike a lot of other stalkers out there, she doesn’t seem in any way malicious, just really creepily obsessed.

Momokuri should not appeal to me. Nothing happened except these two characters getting together and then their various friends giving them advice and the like. However this kind of hit the right amount of cute without being tedious for me and I actually do want to see how this relationship develops (if it develops).

Definitely giving this one a few more episodes.

Momokuri Episodes 3 + 4

I shouldn’t find Momotsuki fretting about whether he could have opened his umbrella in a cooler fashion endearing but somehow I do and it sets the right tone for leading into the next two episodes.

Yuki remains the sweetest creepy stalker character ever.

The first of these two stories in Momokuri has the two going on a date and then shaking hands for Momotsuki’s birthday (wow that was interesting shade of red). The second story has a study session involving the friends of the two. I really do like the support cast in this. They kind of break up the sweetness.

On a final note, I’m nominating this for worst opening of the season – though I’m sure there are other contenders.

Momokuri Episodes 5 + 6

I’m not sure why they continue to claim these as two episodes when we really have gone into a more cohesive storyline (or rather the events just kind of flow into one another rather than shifting from one situation to the next).

Momokuri remains really cute even as it follows what should be a very unhealthy relationship.  The introduction of Rio was interesting though I find her liking Momotsuki because he is short every bit as off putting as Kurihara’s obsession with his expressions (and her straw collection – what’s with that?).

Anyway, this feels like it has well and truly established its tone for the season and I’m enjoying the silliness and sweetness of it.

By the way, does anyone else find the opening reminds them of Acchi Kocchi?

Momotsuki having his photo taken without permission (again).
Image from Momokuri.
Just another photo taken without permission.

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Momokuri Episodes 7 + 8

This is definitely a single episode and not two parts, however I’m going to let that go from now on and just accept the weird episode numbering going on here.

I don’t like Sakaki as a character and I think her reason for liking Momotsuki is even more lame than Kurihara’s which makes it difficult to sympathise with her as she watches Momotsuki and Kurihara’s ongoing ‘relationship’. That said, while Kurihara is still weirdly stalkerish, her relationship with Momotsuki feels really genuinely and quite sweet this episode of Momokuri.

Cue lots of blushing and internal dialogue as both these characters spend some time thinking about their feelings. Though Kurihara’s ongoing secret photography obsession has really got to go before we can actually call this a sweet romance story.

Momokuri Episodes 9 + 10

Same old Momokuri.

Kurihara goes shopping and agonized over her choice of swimsuit as well as whether she’s offended Rio. They go on the BBQ and cute things are said and various characters blush. One positive of this episode is that some of the support cast get a bit of time to show us they are real people and not just background filler but essentially nothing happens.

I’d like to know why Momotsuki feels it would be bad to just tell his ‘girlfriend’ that he thinks she is cute but apparently he can’t say that and that is the fundamental flaw in the entire ‘relationship’. These two characters are infatuated with one another and the idea of being in a relationship but aren’t actually in a relationship. They don’t know how to talk to one another.  That doesn’t stop this show from being cute but it isn’t doing a whole lot more.

Better not to ask why the main two are both acting crazy.
Image from Momokuri.
Probably better not to ask.

Momokuri Episodes 11 + 12

Each week this show delivers a pleasant little story but continues to lack anything that really makes it stand out or memorable.

This week in Momokuri, Momotsuki and Kurihara go to a festival, get separated, and then find each (with some help from Rio). There’s a few other things happening but mostly that’s it. Momotsuki continues to be plagued by various self-doubts and he really needs to wonder a bit more about how Kurihara knows everything about him sometimes but otherwise the show doesn’t really do tension or drama. Everything is just kind of level and plodding along.

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Momokuri Episodes 13 + 14

So Momotsuki is sick and his friends decide the best person to look after him is Kurihara which leads to the expected and standard girl looking after boy in room with embarrassed blushes sequences. What I did like was how they used this episode to show Kurihara is growing as a person.

Momotsuki’s sleeping face entrances her and she reaches for her phone and then she puts it down. She realises that she’s been staring at his picture and not at him. It’s a significant step in moving this relationship from slightly creepy to actually completely adorable.

The final sequneces of these episodes of Momokuri where we see them trying out each other’s first names, with the extreme blushing is just a nice way to finish the episode and shows us that while they are moving forward they aren’t taking any sudden leaps.

Kurihara grows as a person and puts her phone down.
Image from Momokuri.
Just put the phone down.

Momokuri Episodes 15 + 16

Is it bad that this week I spent a lot of time counting just how many scenes were actually static images that we were panning over? Or that most of the dialogue is delivered by characters off screen and we are shown a static reaction shot?

Right from the start, Momokuri hasn’t exactly gone out of its way to be visually impressive so it seem harsh to judge the series now but I think the fact that I was paying attention to that this week meant that I was not that interested in the episode. Admittedly, the end of the second half, where Noriko confronted Kurihara head on about her obsessive practices, was probably the strength of the episode, but the earlier trip to the pool and subsequent hand holding while walking home just felt like more of the same.

This show is still sweet (and Kurihara is still adorable in a cute and creepy kind of way) but I feel like this week was just going through the motions.

Momokuri Episodes 17 + 18

Dating clichés continue with a visit to the amusement park.

That said, this was a particularly cute episode of Momokuri. I love how the characters are all becoming slightly more aware of each other and themselves so it doesn’t feel like we are just treading over the same ground all the time. They may be slow to catch on, but they are catching on.

All and all though, Momotsuki and Kurihara are close to becoming the cutest anime couple I’ve ever seen. Not my favourite couple and certainly not my favourite romance anime, but they are kind of adorable together. How many other anime characters can pull off the ‘my hair is stuck in your button’ routine without your eyes rolling clear out of your head?

Kurihara - oh my hair is caught in your button.
Image from Momokuri.
In any other anime this would probably could not have worked.

Momokuri Episodes 19 + 20

Momokuri delivered a solid episode this week, which surprised me because when I saw it was a festival episode I expected everything to just kind of generically run along.

Instead we got an episode that made significant advances in Momotsuki’s and Kurihara’s relationship, including Kurihara finally telling Momotsuki most of the truth about her obsession. I did not see that coming.

Also, Rio and Momotsuki make the cutest couple ever even though they aren’t the actual couple in the show.

Now of course we need to wait a week for the fall out. Hopefully everything ends well for our actual couple.

Rio and Momotsuki.
Image from Momokuri.
Rio and Momotsuki doing their thing.
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Momokuri Episodes 21 + 22

It’s nice that both Kurihara and Momotsuki have just kind of accepted that they are both weird and they like each other. I also like that Momotsuki is starting to teach Kurihara a little and their interactions feel a bit more natural (at least in the first half of the episodes).

Another pleasant feature this week in Momokuri was some tension amongst Momotsuki’s friends caused by a misunderstanding. I’m looking forward to seeing that sub-plot developing so let’s hope it doesn’t just fade away. My least favourite moment this week was probably the ending where Momotsuki gives in to unreasonable jealousy when another guy pulls a cobweb out of Kurihara’s hair.

All and all, if you’ve watched the show this far, this is a good episode. Is this anime amazing? Not so much. But the characters are cute and quirky and some of the weirder parts of this relationship seem to finally be getting sorted.

Momokuri Episodes 23 + 24

This episode of Momokuri was definitely less impressive than the previous ones but continued to be cute and sweet. My real issue was it was a simple reverse of a situation we had already seen. Instead of Kurihara taking care of a sick Momotsuki, we see Momotsuki visit Kurihara when she is sick. Even with the add in of it being Christmas, there really isn’t enough new material here to make this engaging.

That said, I am also going to reiterate a previously raised point: Momotsuki needs better friends.

Another point that seems fairly standard for anime is that Kurihara actually took care of Momotsuki when he was sick. Momotsuki just kind of holds her hand and blushes a lot.

Anyway, one more episode to go and we’ll see how it all ends.

momokuri24b
How do you giggle unenthusiastically?

Momokuri Episodes 25 + 26

The finale of Momokuri went much the way you would expect, though the scene change to a hot spring was kind of out of left field.

While we had already done pool and beach it didn’t seem like the show had any way to contrive a hot springs visit. How I underestimate anime sometimes. Apparently you can always find a way to send a group of unaccompanied teenagers to the hot springs.

Anyway, the romance is nicely wrapped for the main couple and the other characters get as little development as always and it all ends sweetly (if a little creepily) ever after so the show maintained it’s consistent tone throughout.

Images from: Momokuri. Dir. Y Hiaike. Statelight. 2015-2016


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Karandi James


Cheer Boys!! From Beginning To End – A Viewer’s Journey Into Male Cheerleading

Cheer Boys Episode Thoughts

Cheer Boys!! or Cheer Danshi!! with its multiple exclamation points for no reason (I’m guessing it is just really excited about its content) is an anime series released in 2016 based on a novel about a group of college boys who decide for various reasons to start a cheerleading team. There’s 12 episodes plus a recap episode after episode 5 (not sure what was going on in 2016 but this happened a lot).

As cheesy as that sounds, the series ultimately had quite a bit of heart to it and while it isn’t going to rival anime sports giants such as Haikyuu anytime soon, Cheer Boys!! wasn’t bad viewing. Below are my thoughts from each episode of the series from my first viewing.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 1 – The Curtain Rises

Bandou’s family are into Judo but he was never all that good at it. Now he has injured his shoulder and finally has an excuse to quit. His best friend sees this as the perfect opportunity to start a male cheerleading squad.

Queue a whole lot of speeches about the power of cheers and positivity. Okay, this was actually a reasonable first episode but you get more or less what you would expect given the premise of Cheer Danshi!!.

The characters are introduced in a reasonably sensible manner, they discuss events that they probably shouldn’t need to in order for the audience to know what is going on, and then they hand out fliers to start a cheerleading team. There are some funny moments but mostly this one has had a slow start.

My biggest complaint is the jerk who came up to them while they were watching a cheerleading team and berated them over wanting to start one. Who does that? Even if you think they have no chance, just laugh and move on. Why set yourself up as an antagonist when there is no need for it at all?

Anyway, Cheer Boys is available on AnimeLab for those in Australia and New Zealand and this one is a wait and see.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 2 – Your First Cheerleader Smile

Bandou speaks with his sister.
Image from Cheer Boys Episode 2

Cheer Danshi!! is moving along slow and steady. Last episode they formed the team, now we’re recruiting members and setting goals. I like that they didn’t become spectacular after a training montage and that the small improvements feel genuine, though I still question whether an injured shoulder would be any more useful in cheerleading than Judo.

The dynamic between the boys is great and the new additions are keeping it feeling fresh. I’m not going to drop this one for a bit even though it isn’t my usual style of anime because it’s light and enjoyable without too much thought required.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 3 – The Seventh Squirrelurai

Philosophy and sport - just play.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016

Yep, Cheer Danshi!! is light and enjoyable and not too much thought is required. That’s the perfect summation of this anime. This week we get the standard messages about perseverance over talent while we’re introduced to another male soon to be member of the club.

Like most the other members he’s coming with his own motives and baggage but the show doesn’t seem to want to dwell on this but rather continues to focus on the boys developing into a cohesive team and that’s pleasant enough if not particularly exciting. It was nice to see them actually start to develop some tumbling skills though the speed at which they succeeded kind of makes me want to question whether the writers have ever tried actually tumbling.

If you want something light and easy, watch a couple of episodes of this.

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Cheer Boys!! Episode 4 – What We Want To Break

Almost a team.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016

There’s something to be said about a show that just goes about it’s business quietly. Cheer Boys!! has a likeable cast of boys slowly learning the ropes of cheerleading. Some of them have personal baggage, they don’t always get along, and they sometimes don’t succeed. Otherwise, it’s just your usual never give up and keep trying anime with a power of teamwork motif thrown in because that’s what these shows do.

Haru’s fear of heights has been coming for awhile so it wasn’t a particularly stark revelation and the boys watching an experienced team train and realising their current limitations was a kind of necessary next step. This show is pleasant, amusing, doesn’t fall into the so little tension it is dull category, and continues to entertain but it isn’t particularly exciting.

This one also has a pretty cool opening song. It’s a little infectious and kind of fits the show nicely.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 5 – Let’s Go, Breakers!

Eating is a test of courage.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

This episode of Cheer Danshi!! just flew by. I got so caught up in the team prepping for their first performance and then the performance was on and the credits were rolling. This episode just feels right, like the culmination of the past four episodes and all of their effort.

Yeah, they still aren’t perfect and clearly the team is still growing (given how many boys we see in the opening) but this core group are finally getting things together and progressing and it is really satisfying to watch. My favourite moment this week goes to Haru’s outburst on the roof. For a normally quiet character when he let’s loose everything just comes out at once.

This show isn’t going to wow anyone but it has been a really pleasant ride so far and so if you haven’t picked it up it is well worth checking out the first 5 episodes.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 6 – Restart

Well that cheerleading team grew fast.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

So we now have a full team and a shiny new goal (though personally I think a national competition only a few months after assembling a team is probably overly ambitious) in Cheer Danshi!!.

We also finally confronted Sho’s predictable trauma but by the end of the episode he’s ready to move forward. I kind of get why we went from 7 members to 15 this quickly but it means that our new members are difficult to understand and remember (admittedly they clearly thought about how to visually differentiate the characters but their personalities for the most part remain a mystery).

It will be interesting to see how this plays out and it maintains its positive and upbeat tone.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 7 – Strain

Different goals and approaches cause friction.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Well this episode of Cheer Boys!! is certainly an excellent case study on what happens when a team lacks a shared vision. It’s kind of hard to watch the inevitable break down of communication and the half-hearted and doomed efforts to patch over the problems rather than address them.

That said, it is kind of exactly what this show needed because the feel good and everybody just pulling together thing was really starting to feel a little artificial, particularly with so many new team members joining for so many different reasons. Kind of hoping they find a genuine way to deal with these issues next week.



Cheer Boys!! Episode 8 – The Dawning of a Bond

Unproductive conversation is more or less how we built society.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

This episode brings the in-team tension to a head, has Hisashi try to quit, and then has a touching resolution before we go to a New Year’s training camp for a training and cooking montage. It’s fun to watch and we finish on a nice positive, but I can’t help but wonder why the rigid guy has to loosen up to fit in and why it isn’t the irresponsible guy who never quite get’s it that doesn’t have to pick up his act.

The brocoli guy is seriously irritating and as a team member he kind of sucks. I would have definitely preferred an outcome where he started to take something a bit more seriously. Or maybe both characters realising they’d need to meet halfway. Though, Hisashi definitely needed to learn how to give criticism without being offensive.

Cheer Danshi!! remains an enjoyable, if fairly pointless, watch. I am however concerned about the fate of Kazu’s grandmother.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 9 – Tears of the Sun

Kazu having a moment of reflection.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Kazu’s grandmother doesn’t remember him. I don’t know whether the lead up to this episode was good or bad. It’s been clear for awhile that Kazu’s grandmother is not going well and that Kazu is hiding that from Haru. So it wasn’t a revelation of any sort. That said, at least it didn’t come completely out of left field to add artificial tension to the story.

I really feel the issue was that this episode just didn’t hit the emotions I felt it wanted to get across. Which, given Kazu is a main character, is a shame because his episode had so much less impact than some of the other episodes of Cheer Danshi!! we’ve already watched.

Anyway, we’re moving onto the competition and we’ll see what our team have managed to pull together in too short a time period to actually make a team of novices competitive. Hopefully it will be inspiring because realism left awhile ago.

I know that sounds like I don’t like this show but that isn’t actually true. It’s an enjoyable watch. It just doesn’t offer anything else of substance to go with that so will be fairly quickly forgotten by me.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 10 – What I Wanted To Tell You

I'm sure that wall loves the attention.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

I think they made some smart decisions this week with the focus on the characters prior to and after their qualifying performance and leaving out lengthy scenes of various teams performing. We’ve seen enough cheerleading throughout this show to know what is happening and this way the story kept up its pace and didn’t feel dragged down by extended pretty animations.

Even a mistake in the routine was mentioned after rather than seen. Though realistically that is also probably because they haven’t really got the animation budget to bring these routines to life. So smart choices all round then.

I also liked the dual focus on Haru and Sho throughout the episode. All and all, this episode was more satisfying than anticipated because I was worried we’d be sitting through rounds of routines and the story was going to get stopped in it’s tracks.

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Cheer Boys!! Episode 11 – Bittersweet Valentine

Hmm yum.
Image from Cheer Boys 2016.

Let’s put cheering on hold and deal with all those pesky relationship issues that continue to remain unresolved. That seemed to be the theme this week and while everything here felt a little bit contrived it also felt like they were wrapping up loose ends nicely before the competition.

I do feel that the whole making a cake for Valentine’s Day thing was kind of needlessly silly as was the ‘twist’ but realistically it was obvious the girl was never making the cake for Haru. However, the resolution of the conflict between Haru and his sister felt needed even if it turns out they just needed to talk and then he just needed to go watch her match.

All and all, Cheer Danshi!! remains pleasant but superficial and I’ve enjoyed watching the season, however as they essentially wrapped up any existing plot point except the finals there doesn’t seem much left for these characters to do but either win or not next week.

Cheer Boys!! Episode 12 – Cheer Boys!!

While I liked that the focus of the episode was on self-reflection and the journey travelled rather than winning a national tournament after less than a year as a team, the note book gimmick fell kind of flat. It just felt like if they actually tried this someone would have grabbed the book and walked off and the team would have had a few more falling outs and misunderstandings the day before the competition which just isn’t productive for generating team spirit.

I am disappointed that we didn’t get to see the routine uninterrupted and instead we had flash backs and quotes from the note books over the top. For a show about cheerleading we’ve seen very little (thankfully, because otherwise it would get dull) but we’ve now watched the final episode and still not really seen a full routine.

All and all, this series has maintained its tone and ended satisfyingly enough but other than being reasonably enjoyable to watch it has also remained reasonably forgettable.

Cheer Boys the full team.

Find the full series review here.

Images from: Cheer Boys. Dir. A. Yoshimura. Brain’s Base. 2016


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Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


The Morose Mononokean Season 1 – From Beginning To End A Viewer’s Journey

Morose Mononkean Episodic Thoughts 1

The Morose Mononokean or Fukigen na Mononokean, aired in the Summer Season of 2016 and while I was initially a little put out that it didn’t quite meet my expectations, this supernatural story ultimately won me over with its cute character interactions and interesting lore.

My thoughts on each episode of season 1, The Morose Mononokean.

Episode 1

I quite enjoyed this first episode of The Morose Mononokean even though it is largely set up and getting the two characters together. The whole time watching it I kind of got the feeling that it was somewhere between Natsume Yuujinchou and XXXHolic. I’m kind of hoping it get’s its own vibe somewhere along the line but I found this very cute and entertaining.

I’m hoping Ashiya develops as a character and I’m kind of hoping we learn more about the exorcist but overall this episode gave us a nice intro to the world and how things are going to play out.

Episode 2

Ashiya - The Morose Mononokean

This one is definitely trying for the position of my favourite anime this season. It is a perfect blend of sweetness, fantasy, and just enough drama to keep things moving and interesting. Like episode 1, I’m definitely getting a Natsume feeling from this but even then the characters are a little bit livelier and have a bit more attitude.

It’s definitely shaping up to be a yokai of the week story but it feels like the developing relationship between the two characters and Ashiya becoming more attuned to seeing yokai will nicely tie this all together. Loving this so far.

Episode 3

By the end of the season, I am going to be able to spell the title without checking it twice. Anyway, I am still loving this anime. This week we see Ashiya attempting to help a laughing priest by crying and we get to watch Abeno wondering if Ashiya is actually able to succeed. There’s very little that is subtle about The Morose Mononokean.

Abeno spends a lot of this episode talking with a yokai about Ashiya and various observations are made about both characters. Meanwhile, Ashiya helps the priest’s daughter leaving us all with a shiny, happy feeling by the end. All and all it is a nice solid episode with a self-contained story while advancing the relationship between the two main characters. We also get to learn a bit more about the room itself this week. Looking forward to the next episode.

Episode 4

Abeno - The Morose Mononokean

So this is probably my least favourite episode of this show so far. Mostly because when you give any character a set of rules you just know they are going to break every single one so the whole thing falls into the path of beyond predictable.

It’s paint by numbers and while the trip to the underworld is pretty it hasn’t been particularly enlightening so mostly we’re just hanging around waiting for Ashiya to get into trouble, which he inevitably does. And Abeno is going to be so annoyed when he catches up with him. Hoping things pick up again next episode.

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Episode 5

The underworld - The Morose Mononokean

Ashiya is either getting more annoying, or my tolerance for him is dropping as the episodes progress, but this episode I was finding him particularly irritating. Although, in retrospect, that’s probably because we got this awesome glimpse of a different kind of Ashiya at the beginning after Fuzzy got hurt and then Abeno showed up and he went right back to usual whimpering Ashiya.

That said, I liked the episode. We finally learned a bit more about Abeno and got some hints about how he became the master (actually we probably have enough to put most of it together now). I’m glad Ashiya reunited with Fuzzy as it kind of felt like that needed to happen and I was surprised it hadn’t happened earlier. Also, the introduction of the Legislator has worked well and he looks like he could be an interesting character (or failing that an interesting plot device).

Looking forward to the next episode of The Morose Mononokean.

Episode 6

I really hope they are eventually going to explain Ashiya. Weird power last week that got cut off and then this week a strange ability to find metal things. Not that it isn’t cool, but an explanation would be lovely. This is a nice and simple fetch quest of an episode. Find a ring and return it.

Turns out the returning brings up some of Abeno’s baggage about humans not really understanding yokai (not that he’s really bothering to try and overcome that hurdle on his own). It’s a pleasant enough story and has a lot of charm. My favourite moment though is the tease that occurs right before the ending and now I really want to know what’s coming.

Episode 7

morose7

This episode of The Morose Mononokean brings back the girl Ashiya met at the temple and introduces a fox yokai that at first seems more annoying than anything else. I really enjoyed watching this episode as all the way through it there was a growing sense of unease. Shame the episode doesn’t resolve but it does leave off at an excellent spot if they want to make us wait for next week.

Also, it’s kind of fun watching Abeno get flustered not once but twice this episode. Ashiya also get’s a moment where he actually uses his powers of observation. Anyway, great episode, a little darker than some of the previous ones, and now I need episode 8.

Episode 8

This show has done this twice now. Set up a conflict at the end of one episode only to resolve it within minutes of the next making it more or less a non-issue. Abeno’s foul mood about the jobs this episode aside, very little happened after the issue with the fox was finalised.

Yes, we did get to see a young Abeno (so cute) playing with the fox in what was probably a totally unnecessary flashback and we got to see Ashiya taking the initiative on a job, but really this episode felt like we were marking time.



Episode 9

Humans doubt exorcists. There’s a revelation for Ashiya. In what was probably the least interesting episode yet of The Morose Mononokean, Abeno and Ashiya are called to a house by a girl who thinks her room is possessed. Turns out she’s right, but her mother is not particularly thrilled at her spending her allowance on an exorcism.

Anyway, little is learned or revealed through the episode but the end then sets up the next issue for next week. As you can tell, I didn’t much love this week’s episode.

Episode 10

morose10

Once again the ‘problem’ set up in the previous episode turned out to be not much and while Ashiya and Abeno did succeed at exorcising a yokai (helped him move on from past regret), the reason they went to the farm was actually not addressed in the end.

As much as I like the look and feel of this show, from the point of view of the plot it isn’t really going very far. I do like the addition of Zenko to the group as she provides a little bit of a buffer between the rounds of Ashiya and Abeno bickering but because she can’t really see the yokai she isn’t involved at critical moments. It makes her a nice supporting cast member and I hope she hangs around.

Episode 11

I feel this episode would have had far more impact if my internet connection hadn’t continuously dropped while trying to watch it. As a result, I saw the episode in 2 – 5 minute blocks with a lot of frustrated waiting and reloading in between.

The episode picks up from last episode and we finally see Ashiya face a consequence for being an overly kind nit-wit. The question becomes will this lead to anything resembling a real conflict to be resolved or will they just wrap it up nicely in the first three minutes of the next episode (if there were any hints after the credits, I didn’t see them this week due to lack of loading).

I enjoyed this episode of The Morose Mononokean more than the last couple despite the interruptions but I still feel this anime hasn’t quite managed to nail consistency or engage me with the characters as well as I would have liked to be.

Episode 12

morose12c

For the first time this series has decided to actually take a problem seriously and drag it out. While it almost seems certain that everything will be fine by the end of next episode, it was nice to see the characters we’ve met over the season rallying to solve Ashiya’s problem. And Fuzzy clinging to Ashiya toward the end was just kind of heart breaking.

What this series hasn’t done is given us any further information about either Ashiya or Abeno and maybe there isn’t anymore to these characters than what meets the eye but it hasn’t felt like that for most of the series so it really feels like we’re going to end this series barely scratching the surface of the mysteries that might have been. Not really fair to criticise a show for what it isn’t, but in this case the show just isn’t quite enough as it is. it is pleasant and enjoyable and the characters have been fun but there’s always something missing from the mix.

On a side note, I finally managed to spell the title right (The Morose Mononokean) first go and now the show is about to end.

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Episode 13

The episode is called ‘The End’ and while it certainly ended the crisis with Ashiya’s vision it didn’t really offer any other insight or resolution. That and they kind of just gathered every character together and used their emotions to solve the problem. Really?

Anyway, the final episode ends much the way the show has gone all the way along. It’s as if we are just continuing to skim over the top of a much more interesting story but at the same time being given enough that we keep coming back. I haven’t heard any news of a season 2 at this stage so I guess we’ll just have to be satisfied with a ho-hum story of two human boys learning to find the balance between human and yokai.

But wait…

Actually, there is a season two and Irina and I did episodic coverage of it together. If you weren’t following my blog then be sure to check it out.

Images from: Fukigen na Mononkean. Dir. A Iwanaga. Pierrot Plus. 2016


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Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Ghost Hunt – From Beginning To End A Viewer’s Journey

Ghost Hunt Episodic Thoughts

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Ghost Hunt is an anime series from 2006 that essentially goes through a number of story arcs about a team of paranormal researchers. While some stories are better than others, the whole series is actually pretty entertaining. What follows are my thoughts on each story arc after rewatching the series.

Evil Spirits All Over

The characters of ghost hunt
Here is the crack squad of would be ghost hunters minus the boss.

This arc nicely introduces Mai to Kazuya Shibuya, a 17 year old who dresses in black and runs the Shibuya Psychic Research company. She also meets his assistant Lin and a range of other spiritualists including a monk, a shrine maiden (kind of), a clairvoyant, and a priest (from Australia and I must say that accent is truly dreadful though that’s only a problem if you watch the English dub as the Japanese version has a different location and accent).

The case in this arc of Ghost Hunt involves an old school building at Mai’s school. A number of accidents have occurred and the Principal wants the building cleansed so it can be demolished. While the mystery in this arc isn’t particularly compelling, it is a nice backdrop to introducing the characters and Mai’s entry into the world of ghost hunting.

Without spoiling the conclusion of this arc, it is difficult to say anything more about what happens. We learn a range of facts about ghosts and poltergeists and are introduced to each of the characters specialties when it comes to dealing with spirits. We also see that they don’t always get it right.

This is a very satisfying introduction to the series.

Positives:

  • The voice actress for Mai is a fantastic screamer. Very few screams in television are as satisfying as some of Mai’s.
  • Kazuya hates being wrong. He’s so cute when he is angry.
  • The show isn’t going for flash or gimmicky. It’s keeping a steady pace and measured tone but uses the characters and the atmosphere to keep you interested. It’s refreshing for a show to not feel the need to dress itself up and go over the top.

Negatives:

  • Already mentioned it, but John’s Australian accent is horrendous. To the point where I was showing Ghost Hunt to a friend of mine and she actually asked if his character was going to die soon so that we wouldn’t have to listen to it any longer.
  • A lot of narrative convenience, like most mysteries. If you pay attention, you’ll probably solve this case before the characters do because it isn’t that mysterious.

Anyway, you should definitely check out Ghost Hunt at some point. The opening theme is also kind of interesting because it has no lyrics and doesn’t use character images. Instead you just get a simple orchestral piece and a range of visual effects that set a nice, spooky tone. While the opening gets old after a few episodes, it is definitely different from the usual anime fare.

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The Doll House

ghost hunt 3
Creepy doll.

The SPR team are hired to investigate a haunted house where a woman lives with her sister-in-law and niece in this arc of Ghost Hunt. The rest of our psychics, spiritualists and mediums show up to help out on the case.

This arc is a great creepy, haunted house story. You’ve got the creepy kid with the seriously creepy doll and a step-mum who seems mysteriously cold. Add in some thumps, bangs, furniture rearrangement and messages being written on walls and you have everything you need for an entertaining ghost story.

This arc does use a lot of the same techniques as the first, but it feels more like they are trying to establish a pattern before they get a bit more experimental in their ghost hunting.

Positives:

  • Mai demonstrates some psychic ability of her own even while she continues to learn about the business.
  • Ayami is adorable as the creepy kid.
  • Minnie (the doll) is possibly able to hold up the horror end of a ghost story all on her own.

Negatives:

  • Why doesn’t Kazuya just tell the others what he is going to do? I know this becomes an established pattern, but it makes no sense and adds needless conflict.
  • The step-mum leaves and no one ever mentions her again. Hello, she just ditched her step-daughter and left and no-one thinks this is worth commenting on?

While the doll house isn’t one of my favourite arcs from Ghost Hunt, it certainly has impact and is effective as a ghost story.



The Afterschool Hexer

ghost hunt 4
Mai really nails the damsel in distress role at times, though isn’t always needing rescuing (just a lot).

We’re back in school again, although this time SPR were called in to deal with a string of incidents including a haunted desk and a cursed club. Turns out a girl named Kasai demonstrated psychic talent and was then harassed by certain members of the student body and staff and declared she would ‘curse them to death’. However, Mai insists that Kasai isn’t the culprit.

This arc of Ghost Hunt really brings out the investigative skills of SPR and friends as they are faced with what looks like a haunting and events that must be supernatural, but there are no spirits to be found. Thanks to Mai being clueless, many of the characters offer explanations of various phenomenon for the audience to get up to speed in a way that doesn’t feel overly forced, and the resolution is quite satisfying.

Also, while there is the investigation into the phenomenon, there’s a lot of discussion around how psychics and strange phenomenon are viewed by the public at large and how they are represented within the media.  While this discussion doesn’t really come to any kind of conclusion, it certainly gets the audience thinking about their own views and how people are accepted or not within society.

Positives:

  • Mai continues to demonstrate growth in her abilities, even if she has no control whatsoever.
  • Kazuya is at his absolute sweetest in this arc and the way he comforts Mai is the most human you will see him in the entire series.

Negatives:

  • Takigawa and Ayako are at their most pig-headed in this episode. While they’ve butted heads with Kazuya in the previous arcs, there they seemed to have a point. Here, they seem to be objecting for the sake of keeping some tension in the group.
  • The case may be solved but a lot of the emotional damage from the events in the story will remain. No clue is given as to how any of that is going to be resolved.

As a stand alone story I find The Afterschool Hexer one of the most satisfying cases Ghost Hunt has to offer. It isn’t as dark as some of the cases later on, but it develops nicely and the couple of twists feel natural and planned. Well worth a watch even if you don’t watch the rest of Ghost Hunt.

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Ghost Story in the Park

ghost hunt 5
A brief moment of excitement.

This stand alone episode is a refreshing change. We’re outdoors, in the park, and getting soaked by a petty and vindictive spirit who dislikes seeing couples in love. Honestly, it’s a filler episode at best but it does show Mai’s jealousy as Masako uses the opportunity to get closer to Kazuya. There’s not a lot more to say about this one but you can just watch it on its own.

A Silent Christmas

ghost hunt 6
Don’t turn into a ghost and possess everyone now.

While it only goes over 2 episodes, this arc hits a fair emotional punch. We’re dealing with orphan children at Christmas time and a possession by a child’s spirit. When the spirit possesses Mai things get even more distressing.

Positives:

  • Lin actually speaks in whole sentences during these episodes.
  • Because the cases are smaller there is more focus on the characters in these episodes.

Negatives:

  • The storyline is pretty uncompelling as there is little mystery in what is going on.
  • Kazuya seems to take a back seat to some of the other characters during this story.

I must admit, I regularly skip right past this story when I’m rewatching Ghost Hunt. It doesn’t add a great deal to the series and doesn’t quite match the tone of some of the other story arcs. That said, if you’re watching the series for the first time, there is some good character development to be found.


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Forbidden Pastime

ghost hunt 7
Good dreams… Mai, stay asleep.

And for a third time Ghost Hunt returns to a school setting, but this time it returns for my favourite story of the series. Strange occurrences are happening on a daily basis all over the school and the students are panicked. Several aren’t coming to school anymore at all. However, the strict staff at the school think it’s all in their heads or that they are playing some silly game and won’t deal with any of the issues. When the SPR and friends arrive on the scene it is already chaos and within minutes of setting up a base a phantom dog attacks a girl in a classroom.

There are several reason why this is my favourite story but the first would have to be the introduction of a new character, Yasu. He’s a student who contacted SPR to try to get the situation resolved and he hangs around helping out with odd jobs and providing valuable insight to the location. He also stays on in a support role in the remaining narrative arcs.

The second reason I like this story is there definitely seems to be more menace in this story. We’ve encountered ghosts and curses and all sorts of other things previously, but there’s been very little sense of ongoing danger. The Forbidden Pastime turns that on its head and at time you genuinely wonder how things are going to be all right at the end.

Positives:

  • Mai learns some magic. Not well and she doesn’t use it particularly well here but it is about time she learned something about how to defend herself from spirits given her current occupation.
  • Yasu is a fantastic addition to the cast and adds some genuine levity into scenes that are very heavily weighed down by the dark atmosphere of this story.
  • Lin finally gets to show off some of his expertise.

Negatives:

  • Kazuya continues to not tell people things for the sake of being Kazuya. Seriously, would a ten second explanation kill him?
  • A lack of any teaching staff at the school that express anything other than contempt for the ghost hunters. If phantom dogs, weird smells, fires and other strange events are occurring that often, how can all of the staff assume the students are lying?

There are some tense moments in this story. It isn’t exactly horrific but it will make you sit up and take notice and it definitely preps you for the arcs coming as Ghost Hunt takes a turn for the more creepy. Well worth a watch.

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The Bloodstained Labyrinth

Okay, I’m not overly squeamish, but I found some parts of this story hard to watch. Probably because the story is being told from Mai’s perspective and she goes through some genuine trauma during this arc of Ghost Hunt. While the theme is still more mystery than horror, if you don’t like blood or dismemberment, you should probably give this arc a miss.

Kazuya and team are hired to investigate a mansion that has a very weird design and is known to be haunted. A teenager went missing while inside with friends and then a fireman who was part of the search team looking for him disappeared. However, Kazuya is not the only one hired for the job and so he asks Yasu to stand in as the company boss so he can get to work and not deal with the other teams. It’s pretty cold and pretty typical of Kazuya this far into the series.

Once inside the house, the weirdness keeps growing. The design is insane and without a floor map a lot of the earlier episodes are devoted to exploration and holding a séance (which ends about as well as expected when you are in a haunted house). Mai also begins experiencing some very vivid and very disturbing dreams. Once not one, but two members of other teams go missing, Yasu is sent away to ensure that everyone has someone with them at all times that can protect them.

There’s a couple of twists and turns in the dealings with the other teams that I won’t get into to avoid spoilers. The main mystery is solved but there’s definitely a sense that this wasn’t a victory this time around and Ghost Hunt shows us once again that dealing with spirits is tricky. This story is dark and highly affective.

Positives:

  • Yasu is back and has some great lines early on when little else is happening. Without him, there’s a good chance the first episode in particular would have been snore worthy.
  • Mai continues to grow as a person and psychic.
  • Kazuya get’s put in his place a couple of times by a former mentor.

Negatives:

  • John’s presence in this entire story is almost completely pointless. So much so that at times you forget he is actually with the team.
  • Why are the other psychic researchers so useless? Surely even they can do some basic background checking on the house?

Once again, if you don’t like too much blood then maybe don’t touch this particular story. It isn’t horrific but it isn’t exactly nice either.



The Cursed House

ghost hunt 8
Cursed, possessed, whatever.

It’s going to be hard to really review this without spoilers so I’ll keep it simple. A family who own a certain property have been cursed and they hire SPR to look into it. Unfortunately several members of the family are already possessed which leads to some very violent encounters. You can tell we’re at the final as the body count in this story stacks up and the number of spirits encountered is quite extraordinary.

One key event that I am going to mention is that Kazuya is possessed in this story arc and then knocked out and kept unconscious by Lin until he can be exorcised. While we’ve kind of had indications before that Kazuya must have been dangerous, this is the first time we are overtly told that he has power.

Needless to say, he’s in a bad mood when he does wake up.

I’m going to leave it there because anything else is going to spoil this final story of Ghost Hunt for you.

Positives:

  • All of the characters get a moment to shine in this final story, including Ayako who has previously had very little chance to show off what she can do.
  • It suitably ups the tension to leave us with a very satisfying conclusion to the series.

Negatives:

  • Talk about leaving you wanting more. It feels like these characters are just touching the edge of their potential and we could learn so much more about them.

Overall, Ghost Hunt is a great mystery anime with a focus on the supernatural. Its episodic nature works in its favour when you only want to watch a couple of episodes and this allows you to see a whole story quickly. However, I’d love to see more stories with these characters and watch them grow even more and encounter other supernatural events. It was just great fun watching them.

Images used from: Ghost Hunt. Dir. A Mano. J. C. Staff. 2006


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Karandi James