What’s Wrong With The Spring Anime Season?

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I know the headline is a little dramatic and realistically the Spring anime season isn’t any better or worse than any other, and yet for a lot of bloggers there seem to be slim pickings this season when it comes to creating a review list. With my travel overseas making my start to the season a little late, I kind of expected that I’d have too many shows to catch up and that I’d be fighting to narrow my list down to 15 or 16 titles. Instead I’m struggling to find even 14 anime that I might last the season with.

Hitoribocchi

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with the Spring Anime season. There are actually quite a number of anime out that people have been anticipating and are excited about. The Fruits Basket reboot being a great example of something lots of people wanted and the first few episodes haven’t really disappointed. While some viewers aren’t thrilled by the toned down comedy, I’m preferring the tone of the reboot and the visuals and sound are miles better than the original series.

Fruits Basket

There’s also the return of Bungo Stray Dogs, Attack on Titan, and One Punch Man that all have their fans and detractors at this point and all of these anime have made a pretty reasonable start to the season, even if Attack on Titan entered the anime season later than I did.

Bungo Stray Dogs

However, this season seems a lot more scattered in how it has been distributed across streaming services. I have subscriptions to Crunchyroll and HiDive, access to AnimeLab a week after release (as well as a Netflix subscription I rarely use for anime viewing) and yet there are still a plethora of titles I’m just not able to watch yet. Carole and Tuesday, Fairy Gone, and Shoumetsu Toshi were all titles I was interested in checking out but they are either locked behind paywalls of services I don’t use or region locked so I won’t be seeing them any time soon. Every season there are one or two shows I just kind of miss out on that I was curious about but this season this has become a larger problem.

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It certainly brings us back to why there is an anime piracy problem still. Access to anime has certainly improved since the early 2000’s but there’s only so many services someone can subscribe to before the cost definitely outweighs any potential benefit. And region locking just feels like people haven’t woken up to the fact that the world is actually all connected these days (okay, I know there are actual legal and political reasons for region locking but it really does feel like something we should have moved on from at this point).

One Punch Man

For me, while I’m mostly feeling this season is weak, is because while there are a number of shows I’m enjoying to watch, when I think about which ones will probably end up on my DVD purchase list, I can’t think of a one outside of Fruits Basket.

Midnight Occult Civil Servants hits all the right genre notes for me but just isn’t objectively very good. That doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it, but it isn’t the kind of anime you go to watch again. Unless it does something amazing in its second half but to be honest I’ll just be happy if it manages to maintain where it is and doesn’t implode. Demon Slayer might end up being quite good but it is very classic shounen and realistically the only one of those I ever bought the DVD’s for was Bleach. It just isn’t a genre I get super excited about even though the few episodes I’ve watched have been good enough.

Midnight Occult Civil Service

Then there are the school based anime. Hitoribocchi with the shy girl and Senryuu Shoujo with its girl who doesn’t talk gimmick. Both are cute in their own way. They’ve got some good points. But neither is something I’d ever go for a rewatch of. Again, they just aren’t the kind of show I’m likely to remember after they finish airing.

Senryuu Shoujo

While there’s certainly still a few titles for me to try, and I am curious about one or two, I’m definitely finding the spring anime season is coming up a little empty.

Still, I’m sure there are other viewers who have found shows they love this season and as always, another season is just a couple of months away.

Kimetsu no Yaiba

In the meantime, a low watch anime season is an opportunity. It means I get to pick some older anime that I didn’t get to review or watch and fill in some gaps in my anime knowledge.

But that’s enough rambling from me. How are you finding the spring season so far?

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There’s No Anime While Driving

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The statement “there’s no anime while driving” seems like something that should be a totally obvious statement. And as there is no anime, there is also no reading, no gaming, nothing. Just the long stretch of straight black road lined with red dirt, dust, and the occasional (or frequent) animal carcass.

Stardriver / driving in QLD… okay, there isn’t much of a connection but still that picture is cool.

Yes, I have officially started my drive to the city to catch a plane to get to Japan. The first leg of the journey done, I’m writing this after a full work day and a three hour drive while sitting on the edge of what might be the single most unaccommodating bed in the history of motel beds (not unclean, just really uncomfortable) and I’m sitting on the bed because when I sat in the chair every single time I moved (you know to like type something) it squeaked and shrieked like I was killing its mother and so I gave that up as a bad joke.

But I am not complaining. Tomorrow I have another fairly long drive and then I have just a few hours to pick up the few things I needed to buy for the trip but couldn’t get where I lived and then I’m flying up and away to Japan and I’m very excited.

However, back to the point of the post (okay, there is no point, not really), it kind of occurred to me that driving long distance is the single most boring game ever invented. It’s like a really dull driving simulator only getting bored mid-journey and crashing out is kind of life threatening which is actually enough to make you keep paying attention even as you stop at yet another roadworks sign where there isn’t a single person working on the road (or even visible) or as the sun turns into a flaming orange ball in your rear-view mirror and threatens to burn your eyes clean from their sockets if you actually dare to glance at your mirrors.

But as to the true inspiration for the post title I’ll have to give thanks to the great Tom Hanks for that one as it borrows heavily from his line from ‘A League of Their Own’.

Tom Hanks - There's no crying in baseball.

The important point though is that I’ve started my trip and I’m really excited. I finished watching everything I was reviewing in Winter except for Boogiepop wa Warawanai which I do intend to finish I just haven’t quite gotten there yet. Still, over the next couple of weeks while I’m hoping to do update posts and possibly some first impressions posts, output is going to be a little down on the blog.

Hope everyone is doing well and I’ll be back soon with actual updates from Japan.

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Embarrassment, Scrapes, Colds, and Other Deadly Things in Anime

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Life is tough for the average high school anime character. Getting caught in the rain is nearly a death sentence when a dreaded fever will strike and certainly any character who ever had a bout of chuunibyou knows that embarrassment really can kill.

There are plenty of fairly sensible plot and tone reasons for these greatly exaggerated dangers, however the frequency with which these are rolled out each season is kind of mind blowing at times.

Do we have a cocky character who needs to be taken down a peg? Or a character who is holding the plot back by refusing to comply with someone else’s fairly insane demand? Well, look no further than bringing their ‘dark past’ into the open and suddenly you’ve got a blushing and embarrassed character willing to agree to nearly anything.

Chuunibyou - die from embarrassment

Of course, that’s nothing compared to having a guy and/or girl confess or, even worse, touch hands. Look out if they’ve just walked in on someone changing. Suddenly you could fry an egg on the primary red face of the character as they blush all the way to the tips of their ears.

A lot of the time this is played off co-medically and sometimes it just gives the story a way to keep progressing because without some form of coercion the character has no reason to meet the demands of another but they don’t actually want a real sense of menace in the story, but realistically, the blushing character is a trope that is just littered throughout anime.

Kaichou wa Maid Sama

But worse than simply being embarrassed is getting a scrape. Or an actual cut.

Pretty much anything that breaks the surface of an anime character’s skin, no matter how minor, is treated like someone just tore a limb off.

Actually, I think characters who lose limbs have less reaction.

Edward Elric - Losing a Limb
Yeah, pretty sure Edward didn’t react that badly when this happened.

But a scrape on the face of an idol? That’s just wrong. You absolutely must treat it this instant and anything less would potentially endanger their face or potentially court a permanent scar.

Nanami treating Kurama's Wound

While I’m all for effective first aid, even of minor injuries, the reactions to which characters go at the first sign of an injury is a little overwrought. It almost makes you wonder if they never played and fell over as kids and experienced all the usual bumps and bruises that come with growing up. And certainly recent anime have made me wonder if the frequency with which people in Japan break limbs is somewhat lower because if Domestic Girlfriend taught me anything it is that apparently breaking your leg prevents any part of you, including your brain, from functioning properly.

Realistically, this does allow a few things to happen in a story. The first is minor drama. If we’re in a standard high school setting, there just aren’t a lot of real hazards so even minor ones end up being overblown. However, what mostly seems to happen is the injury is seen as an excuse to force characters together in a more intimate setting.

Whether that is through the infirmary visit (sometimes after being carried Princess style), helping the person with their daily life, or visiting the sick friend and then being alone in their room with them, it is a pretty standard plot point. It also leads to some charming and cute encounters as well as some more comedic, entertaining, and sometimes more risque moments.

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However, being embarrassed, scrapes, cuts, broken limbs… all of these pale in comparison with the real deadly killer of anime. The unstoppable force that will knock a protagonist flat in an instant and require all other characters to mope and wonder if they will ever survive.

Yes.

It is that.

The common cold.

Caused of course by any kind of water outside of a shower making contact with said character. And even a bath or shower might trigger it if they don’t 100% dry themselves immediately upon exit.

Seriously, the anime cold/fever is the single most prevalent and debilitating weapon in any anime. Far more effective than a zanpakuto from Bleach at keeping characters down.

And it seems to spread across almost every genre.

Natsume with a fever

From Natsume, the guy who as his friends say catches colds easier than anyone, to darker fantasies like Black Butler, anime characters are in grave peril when there are colds about and apparently they are always about. Maybe the rain droplets carry it? Who knows?

Ciel and Sebastian

All I know is that as soon as water is involved someone is going to end up sick with a fever and inevitably going to end up having bed rest and some kind of towel draped on their head.

Much like scrapes this scenario does allow for more one on one moments but fevers come with the added advantage of a closed mouthed character may let their guard down. Characters acting weird, spilling their true thoughts, severe misunderstandings, all of these things can be triggered by an anime fever.

This situation also confined the character to a single place which allows the rest of the story to progress putting pressure on them to recover and do whatever they need to do. In the case of Norman in The Promised Neverland it gave Emma a chance to show how adorable she was as a kid and also the tight relationship between the three central characters.

The Promised Neverland - Norman sick, Emma visiting

However, with anime writers seemingly out to make anime characters blush from their toes to their foreheads, scar them for life with minor scrapes and wounds, or burn their brains with fevers caused by walking in the rain, it really must be hard for the average anime character to get through the day. And that is even before the giant robots and vampire ninjas show up to cause havoc.

So here’s the question for you: What is the deadliest of all anime ailments?

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Karandi James
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They Can’t All Be Natsume – Nor Do They Need To Be

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As a reviewer I try to avoid comparison where possible between one story and the next (and previously wrote a feature about it – comparing apples and oranges), but it is kind of inevitable that comparisons will be made. Partly that is because similar characters or stories will remind you of the previous one though other reasons for comparing are to make a point clear, to point out the strength or weakness of a story, or to help your audience to really get a feel for what you are talking about by linking it to something they are likely more familiar with.

Still, comparisons aren’t always all that helpful. I recently went looking for some reviews of Kamisama Kiss online and found comparisons everywhere (I was curious about what people had said at the time it came out because that was pre-blogging days so I hadn’t really read any reviews of people who watched it when it first came out). On several occasions I found it compared to Fruits Basket or InuYasha and it seldom came out favourably.

While as a shoujo, the comparison to Fruits Basket kind of makes sense, the overall tone and feel of the stories are entirely different. I watch Kamisama Kiss when I want to just have a bit of a laugh and soak up some cute yokai vibes. Sure, it doesn’t really manage character drama all the deftly, but there is the occasional moment where it hits the spot, but realistically, you kind of watch Kamisama Kiss for the weird antics as Nanami learns to be a land god and the supernatural reverse harem that forms around her.

Fruits Basket on the other-hand I watch when I want to go through a bit of an emotional journey. I usually watch it when I’m feeling low and don’t know the reasons for feeling that way. Watching Fruits Basket and watching Tohru help others really helps process your own emotions and there’s definitely a cathartic effect as you see each of the characters she touches slowly come to terms with themselves. About the only complaint for the original series, other than the dated visuals, would be the lack of ending, which is why I’m super excited about the upcoming rebooted series. Whichever way, I wouldn’t have even thought of comparing it to Kamisama Kiss because in terms of why I enjoy it, it couldn’t be more different.

I can’t really comment on its similarity or dissimilarity to InuYasha because despite that one being on my watch list for a very long time, I’ve still yet to actually watch it.

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So as the title of this post suggests, recently I found myself comparing The Morose Mononokean to Natsume Yuujinchou. Actually, worse than comparing, I mostly pointed out that The Morose Mononokean couldn’t hold the emotional weight of something like Natsume. And that’s actually really true but it is more or less true of the vast majority of anime and not an actual complaint about The Morose Mononokean.

Now when watching these shows, comparisons do seem more or less inevitable. They both follow teenage boys who have the ability to see yokai. More importantly, the first season of The Morose Mononokean and Natsume Yuujinchou more or less follow the yokai of the week format where a new yokai is introduce, the main characters encounter it and it is either threatening or friendly, there’s a little bit of misunderstanding or a problem to resolve, then someone we fix things and we learn and grow from the situation. Rinse – repeat. Yokai of the week.

However, Natsume Yuujinchou, for all that it really is a monster of the week kind of story, has managed subtle and continuous character growth and built an impressive supporting cast that all feel like fully developed characters in their own right. Admittedly, it is now six seasons in, but it is still impressive how you barely notice the character growth until you go back to the beginning and then you realise just how much ground each character has gained. It is such a natural drip feed of growth and development that you really don’t even notice it but the results are there to see in how each season Natsume is that little bit stronger than he was and his relationships with those around him are that little bit deeper and more interesting.

Natsume Yuujinchou

In short, Natsume is pretty brilliant and you should definitely watch it.

The Morose Mononokean is not.

And that isn’t actually slapping it down. The Morose Mononokean season one was decidedly average in every way. It used the yokai of the week format well enough. The characters were entertaining and the back and forth between the two main characters was actually pretty entertaining. Visually it was okay, but they really did a great job contrasting the mundane world and the yokai world through the use of colours. Everything about it functioned, though it never delivered much in the way of an emotional punch and the characters remained more or less as they began, though a bit more of an understanding was forged between the two main characters.

In fairness, I don’t think it was really trying to pack much of an emotional punch. There are more ‘comedic’ moments dotted throughout, and Ashiya, as the protagonist, is quite the loud and reactive character responding to things with over the top expressions and shock rather than calm deliberation. The yokai frequently aren’t really given a voice and other than fuzzy, Ashiya isn’t really developing much in the way of a relationship with them and he wasn’t shunned or outcast so he doesn’t have to go through the emotional growth Natsume needed at the start of season one.

While that makes The Morose Mononokean a somewhat less compelling watch, it works as it is. Season two expands on the world building and the characters and it has become a much stronger story in its own right. It still has a vastly different tone and feel to Natsume, despite the surface level similarities in premise, but it really is its own show.

But telling someone The Morose Mononokean isn’t as good as Natsume Yuujinchou isn’t exactly helpful when it comes to reviewing, however true I might personally feel that to be. Nor is telling someone that it is similar to Natsume overly helpful because if someone starts it expecting another Natsume, they are surely going to be disappointed.

I think as a reviewer I am going to continue to strive not to overly rely on comparisons to convey my feelings about an anime. They certainly will happen and sometimes fairly thoughtlessly, but I hopefully won’t use them as my main summation of a show. In the case of The Morose Mononokean, through season two I have definitely come to appreciate it for what it is on its own and I’m no longer really looking at what I feel it is missing. Hopefully when it ends and I write my final review my thoughts on it as its own entity come through loud and clear.

Now here’s a question: The Little Fox or Fuzzy? Which is the cuter yokai?

In the meantime, I’d love to know your thoughts on comparisons in reviews and whether you find them helpful or not. Please leave a comment below and get the conversation started.

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Why Do Anime Heroes Get The Most Boring Powers?

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In case it doesn’t become immediately apparent, this discussion is mostly me musing on something that has bothered me in a handful of shows that I’m now generalising across anime. It is not actually intended to be an overly serious post but honestly, I’ve been wondering this for awhile and of all things it was Endro that brought me back to musing about the powers given to a hero in anime.

Endro! Episode 1

For those who aren’t watching the pastel painted moe fest that is Endro, it is the story of a girl who wants to be a hero and defeat a demon lord, only she kind of already did but stuffed it up sending the demon lord back to the past and now the demon lord is her teacher as she learns to be a hero. of course she has a team of friends along for the ride and a Princess who has fallen in love with her, but mostly it is just a lot of fun and silliness.

Now, as one of the symbols that Julia Charldetto is in fact the hero she comes across the ‘hero’s sword’ and draws it out. In fitting with the colour scheme of the anime it is pink. And it sparkles. But basically we have a hero who swings a sword and whacks things.

Endro Episode 2 Seiran

Meanwhile, we have Seiran in her squad who is an elven priest and when all else fails can actually put her glasses on and is a crack shot with a bow. Then we have Fai who is more hand to hand and likes pummelling things and jumping a lot. Lastly we have Mather with her obsession with Cartado and an array of interesting magic to bring to the fight. All of these characters have really cool abilities and yet the hero in their story has a pink, shiny sword.

Endro Episode 4 Finding Shells

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Now I’m not dismissing swords. Swords can be super cool. Just look at Hitsugaya in Bleach with Hyourinmaru and how cool that sword can be with weather controlling effects and ice dragons. Seriously, that is a cool sword. As is Rukia’s zanpakuto and dozens of other blades in Bleach.

Hitsugaya - Bleach

But, do you know who has a less than cool sword? Ichigo Kurosaki. The hero of Bleach. His sword is really big. About the only time it kind of looked cool was when Hollow Ichigo was swinging it around by the wrap and attempting to pummel Ichigo with it. Actually, Ichigo vs Hollow Ichigo is just a fantastic fight to watch in general and Hollow Ichigo provides some great entertainment throughout the course of Bleach.

Even when Ichigo steps up to the next level, his sword actually becomes less impressive and realistically, while he gets really fast and agile, and hits things even harder and faster, Ichigo’s power is the least interesting one to watch in Bleach (okay I take that back, there are worse powers in Bleach but when looking just at the main group of shinigami and Ichigo’s human friends, his power is just not that interesting by comparison).

Hollow Ichigo - Bleach

Though, even if we move away from sword wielding heroes to a magical girl like Sailor Moon, what we see is a hero surrounded by characters with cool elemental powers that are showy and flashy, fairly versatile and interesting, and yet in season one she throws her head band and occasionally heals things. Even when she uses the Silver Imperium Crystal, other than a light show the power itself is not that interesting to watch. It might be the strongest force in the universe but that by itself doesn’t make it all that fascinating to watch as the bright pink light engulfs her enemy and thus ends the climax.

As the seasons continue, Sailor Moon upgrades from her Crescent Moon Wand to the Moon Sceptre and if nothing else she continues to get the absolute best accessories compared to the other scouts. The Moon Spiral Heart Attack is perhaps the longest one to get going of her general attacks and is so overblown in both the set up and execution that you almost have to laugh (actually, I was more worried Serena was going to trip over her own hair while doing the activation sequence) and yet realistically for all the increases in power Sailor Moon’s attacks remain much the same. She’s very much a one punch and they are dead kind of hero and once she lets off her attack in most cases the battle is done. While the other scouts might be less effective in battle, at least there are some interesting possibilities for outcomes when they attack.

Kirito kind of bucked this trend in Sword Art Online (at least in Aincrad). While his sword style was a bit weird to begin with, it was always fun to watch. This only got better when he demonstrated his dual wield ability which was unique in the game making his ability actually one of the more interesting in the story.

However, Sword Art Online decided to kick its own hero when they introduced magic in Fairy Dance, and Alicization has taken the Bleach approach where swords aren’t always swords. Suddenly, Kirito isn’t looking all that crash-hot even in his own series, though he is still one hero who kind of breaks this trend of having the most boring power going.

Actually, there are plenty of cases where the hero does have a cool power or hidden ability. The problem is, with a lot of these powers they are so OP that they kind of instantly end fights once they get going or can’t be used because of the general scale of destruction. So even when a hero has a very cool ability, its use outside of final battles is pretty minimal meaning we’re watching a hero fight at less than full capacity in a lot of fights and it doesn’t always make for engrossing viewing, particularly when you know that they can pull out another power if things get really tough.

For instance, Bell in Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon has a very cool attack. Admittedly, I like Bell’s fighting style anyway where he relies on speed and his fairly small knife, moving around his enemy and wearing them down rather than just smacking them really hard once. Bell’s fight against the Minotaur is still one of my favourite fights ever and for all that there are stronger warriors in DanMachi, Bell is actually just great to watch in action.

But, his Argonaut Skill is definitely an overpowered skill, tempered by the long time it takes to activate. In order for Bell to get a decent strike in with it, he requires a lengthy interval in which his companions are likely to get splattered if they aren’t careful. While the results of this attack are fairly spectacular, it essentially boils a fight down to the flies buzzing around an enemy and distracting it long enough for Bell to get a decent fly-swat and one punch end the battle.

Is there a solution to this? I mean, we want our heroes to win their fights and having a fairly unstoppable attack more or less guarantees it. Though, such a large scale attack usually ends up looking much the same as every other large scale attack. The personality and distinction of an ability is washed away by the effects given to promote the size and scale of the attack.

Anyway, as I said at the start, this wasn’t an overly serious post. I’ve just been thinking through anime heroes and wondering why more of them don’t have unique or interesting powers and why so many end up with giant swords. I’d love to know your take on anime heroes and whether they have interesting powers or not so leave a comment below.

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The Promise of Later

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There’s a definite trend for anime that start slowly or have a lull in the mid-section to be defended by staunch lovers of the source material using the phrase ‘it gets better’. Usually with a ‘trust me’ thrown in there as well. And often times that is actually quite correct in that the story does find its feet and pick itself up. However, does that actually make the story any better in the first place if the only way to defend it in the early days is to argue that something better is coming?

I guess we could point out that viewers these days are fairly impatient beings and with so many anime available to them each season it is easy enough to simply not want to play a waiting game. Why wait for one title to ‘get better’ when another title simply is ‘better’?

Endro Episode 8

Now, I know I am an impatient person. Given I’ve suggested things like skipping the first 100 pages when To Kill a Mockingbird as you won’t appreciably miss any of the plot by doing so, though you will lose a lot of character and world building. I guess it depends why you are reading the story in the first place and whether you really get immersed in all that set up or just keep turning pages to see when the ‘plot’ might appear. But yes, that book tried my patience to no end and even though the trial and the message in the second half of the book are actually pretty solid, I really felt like I wanted the time spent reading the opening act back.

However, I’m perfectly happy to wait a reasonable length into a series with an interesting premise for it to find its feet even if the opening act isn’t exactly blowing me away. Of course, that results in me watching quite a number of anime that just never find their feet and end as boringly as they started, or worse, they go in weird directions and just kind of implode. Caligula would probably fit into this category. I didn’t drop it even though there were plenty of poor episodes early on and plenty of warning that it was going to be a mess. However, I wanted to give it time to find its way and finish its set up. Too bad it never got any better.

Caligula Episode 11

Yet there comes a time during a season where you have to wonder if the time being sunk into watching is actually going to be worth a later payoff. In the case of Sakurada Reset, it turns out it really was. Now, I still don’t fully recommend Sakurada Reset to any but the most avid anime fan given there’s a lot of set-up time and I very nearly walked away from the anime mid-season. But…

See, there’s that ‘but’.

It gets better.

The ending of Sakurada Reset was one of the most satisfying narrative conclusions I’ve seen in anime and while it isn’t the best, by any means, I felt that all of the set up time, the weird stilted dialogue, the seemingly disjointed stories, and the general frustration felt while watching individual episodes of the story, were worth it for that ending. Everything came together in a way that so few shows manage and it just felt like reaching the summit of a mountain and getting the most gorgeous view imaginable.

Still, if someone else were to watch the first few episodes and tell me they dropped it, I would fully understand. I would try to argue that they should be more patient and give it more time because it is quite the slog to get through and I remember how tiresome some of those mid-season episodes were.

Run With The Wind Episode 4

There’s also Run With The Wind, that has built up to a second half that is truly unmissable. Yet would I blame anyone from walking away in the first half? When I hated one character entirely for a large chunk of the first cour, didn’t really connect with a lot of the others, and found the training sequences less than compelling and it was really only direction, visuals and sound design that really kept me hooked (and Prince as he has some of the coolest lines imaginable). I really can’t say that everyone is going to think that the ending is worth it (particularly as we aren’t yet at the end). What I will say is I am super glad I kept watching because wow that has been one of the best emotional payoffs in a long time from anime.

Run With The Wind Episode 7 Prince

But I’ll turn my attention to Sword Art Online Alicization. I was really looking forward to more SAO, and not a spin-off without Kirito, but genuine SAO. Alicization as an arc has been talked up by those who have read the source so much so even though I tried to go in with reasonable expectations, there was this sense that what was coming should be amazing.

First few episodes had their moments. They got me into the story and established characters. There were sufficient cool and nostalgic moments sprinkled in. Yep, this was SAO and I like SAO and Kirito was back doing his thing. It wasn’t like Aincrad which hooked me from episode one and dragged me into a story that I ended up loving, but it was certainly a promising beginning.

Sword Art Online Alicization - Episode 2 - Kirito

Then we just kind of meandered along. Stuff has happened to be sure but if the recap episode after episode 18 was anything to go by, not enough to justify 18 episodes worth of viewing. And as more and more chinks in the poorly paced and exposition heavy narrative become completely impossible to ignore, the defence that is being mounted is ‘it gets better’.

How much better and will it be worth the time commitment? Well only time and personal judgement will answer that.

Will I drop Sword Art Online Alicization? Probably not. I like Sword Art Online and much like Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card, nostalgia will get this show a lot of life-lines and keep me watching and hoping.

But if I was asked whether or not someone should start Alicization, would I actually recommend it?

Right now the answer is absolutely not, unless you happen to be a huge fan of SAO and just want more. There are significantly better written and better executed shows airing right now and while Sword Art Online Alicization remains a watchable experience there is very little I could point to that would be something I could recommend to anyone who isn’t a Kirito fan already.

The argument ‘it gets better’ just seems a little hollow here.

Ultimately, each viewer is going to make their own decision about how much time they are willing to give something. Whether they will stick with something for the long haul or whether they will cut their losses early. Each viewer will decide whether the promise of something better later is worth what they are watching right now. But I am interested to know from my readers how you feel about the ‘it gets better’ defence and whether you feel it has merit as a means of recommending someone continues to watch something or whether you are someone who drops things fast when they don’t deliver.

Leave us a comment below and lets get the conversation started.

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3 Life Lessons You Can Learn From Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood

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There’s no doubt that Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is a well loved and popular anime title. The number of mentions on best anime of all time lists, it’s most favourited status on MAL, and the sheer number of fan arts and fan fictions about the characters speak volumes of how the fan base loves this particular work. And there are plenty of good reasons to love it. Really great story that is given sufficient episodes to really develop, rising action that really drives toward a climax, a great main and supporting cast and even fairly solid villains, not to mention the heart and humour the anime brings to its tale. However, this isn’t going to be a review of FMA Brotherhood, but rather taking a look at 3 life lessons you can learn from watching the diminutive alchemist and his bound-to-a-suit-of-armour younger brother.

Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood Alphone and Edward Elric

Lesson 1: Someone who shares the same goals as you is not necessarily your friend.

This one should be self-explanatory but sometimes it is almost as though people crave someone who understand them so much that they overlook this point. Throughout the course of the story, Edward and Alphonse run into many a character who is seeking a philosopher’s stone and their motives are wide ranging as are their uses for the incomplete stones they come across. In the case of Full Metal Alchemist, the brothers can almost assume that anyone sharing a similar goal as them is probably up to no good and will become a hindrance sooner rather than later.

Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood Crimson Alchemist

At the same time, the brothers cannot complete this journey on their own. They need those who support their goal but may not necessarily share it to assist them on their way. And that’s the important lesson here.

Winry may not ever want to be an alchemist and she personally has no desire to possess a stone, but she does understand what drives Ed and Al and she supports them with everything she has. Her goal is not the same, but it complements what the brothers wish to achieve which makes Winry invaluable in more ways than one.

Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood Winry

While finding someone who does share the same goal can be great, just because someone doesn’t necessarily want the same thing as you doesn’t mean they can’t understand what is driving you. This comes through incredibly clearly throughout Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood.

Lesson 2: A government that can manipulate the information provided to its people cannot be trusted not to become corrupted.

As much as I try not to get political on my blog, Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, through its fictional institutions but based on fairly familiar government structures, manages to make some fairly good points about political power and corruption.While it gives no actual solutions to the points it raises, it becomes quite clear that Amestris as a country is rife with corruption with those in the inner circle benefiting while those on the outside simply become fodder for the machine.

Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood Fuhrer Bradley

A large part of the issue is that the government controlled all the records and there did not appear to be much in the way of independent reporting of events going on. With both the war in the past and the ongoing events in the story, cover-ups and lies were frequently fed to the public and the main characters manipulating their actions and responses.

And while I don’t assume that our governments are actually being run by homunculi that are trying to bring about the end of the country, the point about providing truthful information to the public was fairly well made and is as relevant now as it was when this story first came out (if not more so).

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Lesson 3: You can’t stop tragedy but how you deal with the tragedy is more important.

Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood is a story built on tragic events. The war in the past that took Winry’s parents, the death of the Elric’s mother, Nina, Hughes, and so on. However, on each of these occasions we see characters dealing with the tragedy in their own ways and we see that some responses are more helpful than others.

For Edward and Alphonse, they refused to let go of the past and the tragedy and instead of accepting what had happened and moving forward, they created a secondary tragedy when they tried to bring their mother back to life. This cost Edward a leg and his brother his whole body and Ed only saved him through giving up an arm (puts a whole new twist on the costing an arm and a leg). There were a few factors that played into this. For instance, their incredibly young age and the absence of any other parental figure. While Winry’s grandmother certainly tried to look out for them, it wasn’t enough during such a tragedy to keep them from taking this path.

Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood young edward

And the tragedy may have ended there with the brothers never going any further except that Mustang came along and offered Ed a lifeline. For the remainder of the series we see Edward clinging to that hope and thread as he journey’s forward. When he meets Tucker and Nina and that encounter inevitably leads to tragedy, Ed, while he feels the tragedy, doesn’t make the same mistake again of trying to deny the tragedy or make it go away. Instead he ensures Tucker can’t hurt anyone else and then seeks comfort. It doesn’t make the tragedy of Nina any better, but at least a secondary tragedy was avoided.

Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood Nina
Let’s all just pretend she lived happily ever after.

What lessons have you learned watching Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood or from another anime?

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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