The Ones Within Anime Series Review – A Weird Genre Mix and Incomplete Ending Yet Still Kind of Fun

Within Series Review
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What Happens When You Blend Gamers
With A Creepy Guy in a Llama Mask?

Incidentally, even once The Ones Within finished its run I still don’t know if the guy is wearing a mask or if he’s actually a human with the head of a llama. One assumes its a mask because of how it sits on his suit but it isn’t as though we ever see him take it off. That’s just one of many unanswered questions Nakanohito Genome leaves the audience with.

Normally I have a fair dislike of shows that finish in a completely open manner, seemingly oblivious to their own run time as the story just stops almost mid-sentence without any announcement of a continuation. In this case, that fact still makes it hard to recommend The One’s Within whole-heartedly, but it didn’t really detract from my overall enjoyment while watching.

What started as a weird little outlier for the season grew on me before stumbling a little and then picked up again before it all ran out of time and just stopped short of the characters achieving their goals or getting any real answers.

The cast of The One's Within

And for some this will be enough to not dip their toes into the water or even start The Ones Within. I can’t really argue with that logic. Incomplete stories abound in anime and with so little chance of ever being finished, why spend the time when there are other titles to invest those precious minutes in?

The One’s Within isn’t unmissable but there’s enjoyment to be had.

It isn’t as though Nakanohito Genome is some unmissable masterpiece. The story relies very heavily on randomness for its humour and the characters begin in a decidedly one note fashion and while they may grow on you by the end and the chemistry in the group works well enough, they are not deep by any means. Throw in the incomplete narrative and that’s three strikes against The Ones Within before it even begins.

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With that being said, I had a lot of fun with this series over the Summer season. The first episode kind of had me a little concerned as I kind of got Danganronpa vibes (only with no where near the oomph) from it and I wasn’t the biggest fan of that franchise. Fortunately, The Ones Within progressed over the rest of its first half by kind of carving out its own weird style and there was just enough mix of mystery, random comedy moments, occasionally on point characterisation, and some interesting visuals to continue to draw me into the odd story of the group of gamers who were abducted or selected to play a series of games to earn views.

It is never really established if they would actually be killed but there’s certainly a number of threatening moments that the characters face and even if death isn’t on the cards, isolation certainly is. ‘The White Room’ is an ever-present threat and one that forms a nice catalyst for drama in the second half when one member of the team is finally isolated and the rest are racing against time to get him back.

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The games themselves are equally ambiguous with it never being clear if this is meant to be a real world, a virtual world, or some alternate reality. Some of the games are very clearly just life versions of actual games where others have what appear to be genuine supernatural elements (or at least clearly impossible elements such as a ghost, giant panda, or the creepy plant things). You never really get a good grasp of where the kids actually are or what the mechanics are behind the whole thing though each ‘mission’ is kind of interesting in its own way and watching the group working together, or trying to, in order to overcome the challenges was largely entertaining.



I mentioned the visuals earlier and I do want to return to that. While the animation isn’t great and relies very much on stills and pans, the art itself is incredibly diverse. The range of styles used to express mood and character throughout the series is really interesting and the way the visuals changed up various scenes kept each episode feeling fresh.

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Ultimately, The Ones Within is incredibly flawed and yet it isn’t a disaster. More than that, if the characters don’t turn you away, there’s some fairly interesting development of the characters throughout and various pieces of the puzzle are revealed even if the overall picture still hasn’t formed. Basically, I enjoyed this. I do recommend giving the first episode a try if you are looking for something a bit different to watch, but for those who are time poor or who haven’t already watched most of the standard titles out there, this probably isn’t going to worth the time investment.

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Then again, creepy llama guy is creepy and there was definitely a tone in this story that just clicked for me. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so divided in my opinion of any anime ever but this one was enjoyable despite its faults.


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Karandi James


Do you want to read more about The Ones Within?

Images from: Nakanohito Genome [Jikkyouchuu]. Dir. S Oonuma. Silver Link. 2019.

Isekai Cheat Magician Anime Series Review

Cheat Series Review
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Being Generic Is Not A Crime;
Being Generic and Boring However…

Isekai Cheat Magician is one of those shows where there is in fact truth in the label, though that seems to be a trend in isekai stories (light novels and anime) to simply describe the basic plot and use that as your title. I mean, I always struggled coming up with titles for stories but apparently if I got back into writing I could just put that concern to the side and write a brief synopsis and there we go – insta-title.

In seriousness though, generic isekai is something I quite enjoy. There’s something quite relaxing about genre fiction that doesn’t really aspire to be anything beyond its basic label and when wordanime.blog/best-fantasy-anime/”>watching with others isekai can work as it usually brings something to the table that everyone can enjoy. While I do enjoy more thought provoking fare inbetween my binge popcorn meals, I happily return to these fairly routine anime with a regularity that kind of indicates that I’m getting something out of it.

Despite that, Isekai Cheat Magician ended up being one of those anime that started out looking like something I would truly enjoy despite its limitations, for instance Kenja no Mago, and yet ended up being one of the more forgettable viewing experiences of the year. Which is actually a pretty impressive feat given this year’s viewing also included that happily dismissed Grimms Notes.

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However, just in case you have never embraced watching an isekai before, let me run through the basic plot here. Mr Ordinary-Nice-Guy gets summoned by a Princess to another world where he naturally has the biggest, baddest magic power around but of course he won’t abuse his power but rather he’ll help the first people who take an interest in him because they are of course good and everybody who opposes them must be bad for reasons.

Our ‘twist’ such as it is for Isekai Cheat Magician, is that Mr Ordinary-Nice-Guy (Taichi) is with his female child-hood friend when the summoning circle appears and she, despite Nice-Guy pushing her out of the way, jumps back into the circle and gets herself summoned as well.

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It’s fine. She also has super-powers and is actually smart so could probably have been the protagonist on her own but apparently the author wasn’t sure that his nicely written, well rounded female characters could carry a show and so tied them all inexplicably to the dead-weight and personality-less actual protagonist.

Alright, he has a personality but largely it consists of being dense and being nice in equal measure before occasionally punching something.

And let’s consider that for a moment. Despite being a cheat ‘magician’, and boy do they remind us of that a lot as he calls himself one at least once every second episode, or Rin (the childhood friend does), he largely uses his power to strengthen his body and punch things. They could have called him isekai-wannabe-fighter and the story probably would have turned out much the same except for his whole connection with the spirits who actually help him use the occasional bit of magic. Instead of spells and chants and really cool combinations of ideas we get a guy who glows and punches things.

Admittedly, it worked really well for Gon (Hunter x Hunter) but then again they weren’t trying to convince us that Gon was actually a magician.

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Then we have Rin who actually does learn to use magic and carries a staff. At one point she uses a combination of magic spells to slow down an entire army and it is really cool to watch. She’s confident and self-assured, using her knowledge of science to combine with magical power to deliver some spells that are unknown in the world they’ve been transported to. Wow, Rin could carry this anime all on her own and join the list of female leads in isekai anime except that instead she ended up in this.

When she’s paired up with Myura, one of the inhabitants of the world who works to train them in magic, the two are really great fun to watch. Both are powerful but not unbeatable and both are observant about their surroundings.

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Which makes these two characters getting sidelined so the chosen one can save the day in the final battle fairly unpalatable and is perhaps the worst offense of Isekai Cheat Magician (other than just being a bit dull).

Somehow all their tough and strong personality traits get evaporated and they end up more or less just waiting around while Taichi mops things up. It is most definitely a disappointing direction for their characters, though clearly it was inevitable. Even in earlier fights where Taichi was around they found reasons to almost damsel-in-distress them or they found ways to separate the group. Because, they can only be strong and self-reliant if the protagonist isn’t on the scene. That inconsistency kind of hurt.



By the time we throw in villains who by and large aren’t even cliches they are so paper-thin in terms of the writing you almost have to wonder if there’s anything left to appeal about this anime. And the truth is, there are some nice moments between Taichi and Rin and then between Rin and Myura. Rin manages to bring out the best in the cast around her and when she’s bouncing off someone the scenes come to life.

Yet, that probably isn’t enough to salvage Isekai Cheat Magician’s plot that just feels like they didn’t know what to do beyond summon two characters and throw stuff at them, and characters who don’t actually have a consistent personality but merely respond as the plot demands at the time.

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Umm… duh.

Isekai Cheat Magician isn’t creative enough to be called a train wreck. It just kind of is.

Isekai Cheat Magician has visuals that are adequate but certainly nothing note-worthy, music that is equally forgettable, and ultimately an unfinished story because while we have a fight in the final episodes the ‘true’ mastermind has yet to actually grace the scene, and honestly I’ll happily recommend dozens of other isekai titles before this one. That doesn’t make this one broken beyond repair and it certainly is watchable (at least if you’ve watched many other isekai stories). But there’s nothing here that makes this one something that needs to be watched and there are plenty of better anime that do more or less the same things.

A few glimmers of decent characterisation and a decent basic concept just can’t make up for the deficits of Isekai Cheat Magician. Characters introduced only to show off the power of the main character or to drag out the watch time really weigh the mid-season down, and the absence of any real threat makes it hard to buy into any of the tension. Not to mention, when they are flailing about for a real fight at the end they resort to zombies… Like really?

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As with many titles I’ll have to say the greatest problem with Isekai Cheat Magician is wasted potential. The generic set up and storyline is used over and over because it is functionally sound, but only if the writers do something with it. Here it never went anywhere or kept trying to go somewhere but didn’t really know how to build up either the plot or the characters over a sustained period of time. So yes, I’d have to say Isekai Cheat Magician probably isn’t worth your time.


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


Kanata no Astra Anime Series Review

Kanata no Astra Series Review
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The School Trip That Will
Take Them Across The Galaxy

Kanata no Astra was an anime that seemingly came out of nowhere. I’d never heard of it and hadn’t seen any promotional videos or the like prior to the Summer 2019 season beginning. Turns out this was for the best because once this story got going it sucked me right in and was quite the enjoyable ride, more so because of walking into it absolutely blind. While it isn’t flawless, this was undeniably my favourite story of the Summer season and if it hadn’t been for the emotional connection I felt with Given, this anime would have walked away as my favourite anime of the season.

I know. High praise right off the bat.

That said, I will caution readers that though I’m going to avoid major plot spoilers as much as possible, given the nature of this story, with small bits of information revealed throughout each episode, pretty much anything I mention beyond the first episode would count as a spoiler. If you want to go in blind, just know this one is great and concludes its plot very nicely and that first double episode might start a bit slow but hang in their, it definitely finds its feet.

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For everyone who is still with me, let’s talk about Astra Lost in Space.

This one is a fairly basic story following the voyage and return model where our kids, thinking they are going on a school camp, end up thrown to the other side of the galaxy though fortunately they find a functional space-ship (convenient that) and then they have to plot a route and make their way home. On the journey they learn a whole bunch of stuff about the world and themselves. Underlying this is the reason for them ending up in that situation which we will learn more about piece by piece as the journey progresses with all being revealed nicely by the end.

Still, it was really fun having a week in-between each episode to speculate.

We do need to start with that first episode though. Kanata no Astra begins and ends its run with a double length episode which adds to the overall cinematic feel this one seems to be striving for. Honestly, I probably could have done without the black bands that framed the screen for the majority of scenes however in key moments of drama, such as the rescue sequence at the end of that first double episode, that cinematic feeling really helps draw the viewer into the character’s situation and it works remarkably well.

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What was a little less thrilling was the opening twenty minutes which is where the story lays its groundwork and introduces the characters. While the goofy comedy aspects on display in this part never go away, the rest of the story balances moments of tension with moments where the kids kick back and get to be kids. The opening sequence on the other hand feels like pure fluff despite the necessary introductions to the characters and the setting.

If I were to change anything in this series, it really would be this opening because I actually did pause the episode and contemplated walking away as my Summer watch list had been quite full. By the time I got to the end of episode one, all such thought were erased from my mind.

See, the characters in this story individually aren’t all that great or exceptional. In fact, most are pretty much characters we’ve seen many times before. The cast however is perfect together and as the group of kids face danger together, work together, clash with one another and then reconcile, they win the audience over and their plight becomes somehow more significant and interesting. Whether the story had ended up with a satisfactory ending or not wouldn’t change how fun the journey with this cast was even if individuals within the group annoyed me, they fit within the team.

The story also deftly introduced an additional character to the crew toward the end. Their integration only added to how solidly they had built these characters as the students we’d been travelling with interacted with, learned from, and responded to the new addition. There was some attempt at building up a few characters on Earth who were plot significant, though given the time frame this anime was working with, as well as the fact that the kid’s journey was by far the more interesting part of the story and the conspiracy was more interesting when the kids were speculating, this didn’t really go very far.

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The one down side of all of this is the reveal of the traitor ended up being less of a reveal and more a confirmation of what you will have probably suspected for awhile. The character in question did feel off comparatively and there’s a lot of obvious flags along the way. I’d picked the traitor and then dismissed them because they seemed too obvious. While this isn’t the end of the world given their reveal is just one part of the mystery it is a point where more nuanced individual characters may have helped muddy the waters a bit more while still making this make sense.

Obvious red-herrings aside, there really weren’t any other candidates.



Still, it isn’t as though Kanata no Astra wants you to be perplexed. There are clues in the OP and a number of moments where characters tell us important information. While it is a slow drip-feed of info it never really stops coming and if you put the pieces together, by the time most revelations occur you’ve got a fair idea of what’s about to happen and then it is the satisfaction of having figured it out. Or in one case, being miffed that you went the wrong way with your speculation (well, I can’t get them all right).

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Anyway, I loved the sense of tension this series managed to build up at key moments. I loved how when the kids had some down time they really felt like teenagers who were finding their way to a friendship. The music was fantastic and I liked that when a character changed her hair in the show they changed it in the opening as well. I also found it great the number of times Astra didn’t play the OP at all because it was using every minute of its episode time.

In less deft hands this story could have felt bloated, rushed, or meandering depending on how it was delivered. Yet here it feels like every step of the journey has been carefully plotted out and given just enough time without lingering past its welcome. Critical conversations are framed by comedy or short action sequences and everything balances nicely. In short, this series is a genuine joy to watch. It’s a space exploration story with a group of characters you can enjoy spending time with but it has ongoing drive throughout the series giving it a sense of direction and focus that helps pull everything together.

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Now I’ve actually watched the series twice already because I was watching the episodes alone to review them but about four episodes in I talked a friend into watching some of it and we soon caught up to where it had aired. After that I’d watch and review the episode and a day or two later we’d watch the episode together. It is amazing how many extra details you pull out of this on a second watch even if that watch is still with a weekly gap.

Kanata no Astra benefits from taking breaks and thinking things through.

On that note though, I don’t think I’d recommend binge watching more than two episodes of this at a time. This series seems to lend itself to that slower viewing experience of watching chunks of it and then contemplating before watching a bit more. Still, I’ll definitely buy this on DVD is it becomes available because this is one series I just had a blast with.

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Just so it doesn’t sound like I’m heaping nothing but praise on this anime I will point out that it has a penchant for ending episodes on cliff-hangers, or building up to dramatic moments and then resolving them fairly quickly. In other anime I’ve found this can get quite annoying as it makes it feel like they are going for cheap TBC moments. For whatever reason I didn’t find the impact to be annoying in Astra and usually just happily waited for the resolution or accepted where the story went. That doesn’t mean it won’t be irritating if you find that particular narrative gimmick one that wears thin.

However, minor niggles aside, I’d strongly recommend giving Astra Lost in Space a go. Maybe it won’t work for you but I know I thoroughly enjoyed the story that was told here and there’s plenty of positives to take away from the series even if it ultimately doesn’t work for you.


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


Want To Read More About Astra Lost in Space?

Images from: Kanata no Astra. Dir. M Andou. Lerche. 2019.

If It’s For My Daughter I’d Even Defeat The Demon Lord Anime Series Review

Daughter Series Review
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A Non-Isekai Fantasy
With A Double Dose Of Adorable

If It’s For My Daughter I’d Even Defeat the Demon Lord is a sweet slice of life fantasy story. It isn’t all that easy to find a straight fantasy anime that isn’t isekai or shounen action. Finding one that focuses almost entirely on characters and is more in the slice of life category is even harder (then again, finding a slice of life story that I don’t find dull is pretty difficult so maybe I’ve just missed a few key stories that fit the description).

However, the ridiculously long and overly descriptively named “If It’s For My Daughter I’d Even Defeat the Demon Lord” or “Uchi no Ko no Tame naraba, Ore wa Moshikashitara Maou mo Taoseru kamo Shirenai.”, hereafter to simply be called If It’s For My Daughter, does a fairly good job at delivering a slice of life as Dale, the human adventurer, takes on adding Latina, the lost demon child with a broken horn, into his life.

I will say that this anime is straight up adorable, largely because Latina is that kind of perfect child that only really exists in stories. You know, the one who has been through a hellish experience and rather than being bitter, rebellious, or emotionally shut down, she’s quiet, thoughtful, hardworking and generally the shining light of perfection. It isn’t exactly a realistic depiction of a child who has suffered a traumatic experience, but reality isn’t exactly why someone would watch a fantasy story about a demon girl in the first place, so I guess we can move on from that point.

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There are a few moments where Latina’s past and the fact that she is a demon get some attention and these are played relatively seriously and hold enough emotional weight. The early scene where Latina is thoroughly rejected by a teacher, with fairly drastic consequences because of the choice Latina makes following that rejection, is perhaps one of the most memorable moments of If It’s For My Daughter. However, it isn’t that it is a darker moment that makes it memorable.

It is how the moment causes Dale to sit up and re-evaluate what he’d been doing and to see Latina more clearly. Of course, everything ends up mushily cute and almost nauseatingly sweet but that’s more or less the flavour of the show and it does it very well.



Those who have read the source gave some fairly dire warnings when the anime started regarding where Dale and Latina’s relationship would go, and while if you are looking for subtext you will certainly find it, If It’s For My Daughter can very much be seen as the two developing a father/daughter (or more realistically an older brother/younger sister) relationship throughout. Having not read the source I’m not going to comment one way or the other about future possibilities, but the current anime series remains fairly wholesome unless you go looking for things to tilt your head at.

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Basically Dale brings Latina into the world and introduces her to people, places and things she’d never seen and she flourishes. The two are very attached and we learn early in the show that Dale seems to have changed since picking her up but at the time we didn’t know what Dale had been like prior to Latina.

If It’s For My Daughter very much looks at the transformation of characters through their relationships with others.

The second half of the season of If It’s For My Daughter, as Dale returns to his home village with Latina, fills in some of the blanks, as do some conversations with people who’ve known him awhile and it becomes clear that Latina’s influence on his life has been for the better. There are certainly indications that more challenges await the pair in the future but this season at least lets us bask in the sweet and happy as challenges are faced and overcome and the two get to spend plenty of time together.

Clearly the character designs work and Latina in particular is made to be as adorable as possible. The animation however is incredibly lacking at times. Walking animation becomes very poorly done at times and other animation is sometimes almost distracting it is so lacklustre.

Given the nature of the show it isn’t a deal breaker, however given there are scenes of Dale adventuring it would have been nice if the rare scenes involving action had been more well put together. It isn’t the focus of the show but it shouldn’t be that much of a detriment either. Either that or they should have had all the action off screen as on more than one occasion they would just cut back to Dale returning and that worked well enough.

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This one basically works. Its excessively cute and the key to most scenes is make Latina look cute, however the relationship between Latina and Dale is nicely developed in the episodes given, the supporting cast work well enough, there’s a few moments that get a bit darker and a few hints of a larger story at play though these won’t go all that far in this season, and outside of the poor animation there really isn’t a lot to complain about. All and all, this one was enjoyable enough to watch even if relatively unremarkable.

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Though, Latina is most definitely the cutest anime girl of the year even beating out Nezuko from Demon Slayer.


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


Given Series Review (anime)

Given Series Review
Given Series Review

Low Budget But A Lot of Heart

It’s time for my Given Series Review.

Given was one of those quiet shows that I took an interest in from the write up and then when Irina suggested we cover it together for the season I happily accepted but didn’t expect much. What I got was a compelling story, wonderful characters, drama that felt right and not overblown (most of the time) and some wonderful choices in music and direction that overcame some of the obvious budget restraints the series was working under.

While it wasn’t a flawless series by any stretch of the imagination, my only real complaint when it was done was that the story wasn’t yet finished and I wanted a second season.

While visually the likes of Demon Slayer and My Hero Academia would wipe the floor with something like Given, and even more genre specific titles such as Bloom Into You are far superior even on just a casual glance, Given worked hard to use what it had to tell it story and the end result was definitely satisfying. Colour and shot composition are used to speak volumes as the characters move through their daily lives and as a viewer I found certain settings began to take on a life of their own with the school staircase almost feeling like an old friend by the time we got to season’s end.

This doesn’t really hide the static backgrounds, still images, or lack of detail in background characters, but I don’t really think they were trying to hide it. The attention to detail is where it needs to be and this carries over into the sound direction. The first episode made some clear choices using silence and diegetic sound only for a fair length of time before any background music came into the picture. Actually, the whole series could be seen as a slow build-up to their concert where the sound finally comes together but overall they’ve done a phenomenal job.

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What is Given about?

I mean, we could talk about it as the story of a band that has no vocalist and after meeting Mafuyu at school, Uenoyama recruits him into the band but that barely scratches the surface. The story is very much about these two boys who are both pretty lost at the start of the series (for different reasons) who find new purpose after meeting and then have to deal with the growing feelings between themselves.

And unlike so many anime, this one doesn’t blink away from that. The characters confront their uncertainty about being in a same sex relationship, and about being in a band and in a relationship, head-on by the end of the season.

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Both of these characters have baggage and they are both very much teenage boys. Communication becomes an issue on more than one occasion as does impatience and just a general lack of life experience. Of course, Mafuyu’s baggage is the driving force behind a lot of the drama, though watching Uenoyama figure out how to navigate the emotional fallout is at times quite difficult.

For those who find stories around suicide or domestic abuse a challenge to watch, while this one isn’t overly in your face around it, these ideas are most definitely a part of what have shaped Mafuyu and the quiet way the story addresses his past will probably open some emotional scars if you have them and it is probably wise to go in knowing that this content is there.

Outside of their individual drama, the band and preparing to perform just adds an additional layer of tension into the story and pressure to push the characters into action, as well as introducing two amazing supporting characters.

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Whether it is band-mum Haruki or the harder to read Akihiko, the two older members of the band provide gentle teasing, support, an occasional word of advice, and their own drama into the story. What makes them amazing is that they don’t seem to exist just to revolve around the main pair. They really are characters in their own right with a lot on their own plates.

That is probably the most amazing accomplishment of Given is that every character feels like they could be the protagonist of their own story and we just see glimpses of that story as they pass through the main narrative. It makes the overall story feel complete and brings these characters to warm life in a way that definitely feels special.



At eleven episodes, Given paces itself well (though this didn’t carry over to the much shorter live action adaptation). The story is a slow burn but each step brings you closer to a climax well worth the wait. The aftermath is beautifully handled and the characters grow on the audience with each passing episode and while I might have started off wanting to protect Mafuyu and thinking the drummer was pretty good looking, I finished the series very much loving all of these boys and wanting the best for all of them in the future.

Whether they are dealing with their emotional baggage, choosing a name for the band, or actually up on the stage, just spending time with them and hanging out became a joy each and every week (even when things were going badly for them).

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As for the shounen ai tag (or boy’s love), this one is free of a lot of the tropes that put people off the genre. No age gap of note, no forced physical contact (though there’s fairly limited physical content in general outside of a kiss – so if you are hoping for that side of things this one isn’t going to deliver) and so on. This one is just a sweet school romance between two boys finding their way and it does it so well.

Given isn’t without its issues. Conveniently snapping guitar springs (apparently synced more to emotional tension then any real reason for strings breaking), well timed or contrived conversations or comments, and an overly positive outcome do kind of bring down the overall standing of the story. However, that would probably matter more to someone who was trying to give this a numerical score.

For me, despite all of those issues and despite the clear restrictions in the quality because of the budget, I loved this anime and these characters. I went in expecting so little and what I got blew me away and moved me emotionally.

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Clearly I recommend trying this anime if you haven’t. It will not work for everyone. That slow pace may really put you off in the early episodes or maybe sweet romance isn’t your thing with a bit of drama thrown in. The music aspect might appeal, however there’s limited development there as the music takes a backseat to their relationships in terms of screen time. Still, if you give it a go and watch it through, there’s definitely a solid build up through out the series and an emotional payoff worth waiting for. Now we just need that season two. However if you can’t wait you can check out a fun discussion about the movie as well as my review of the movie.


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


Want more rambling thoughts from Irina and Karandi on Given?

Images from: Given. Dir. H Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2019.

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Season 2 Anime Series Review

DanMachi Season 2 Series Review
Is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon - starts with energy.

Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon Season 2 Gives Us A Season of Set Up

I’ve made no disguise of my love for this franchise. Beginning with the original season of the anime after a long delay I ended up reading the light novels and falling in love with the world and characters all over again. However the spin-off series, Sword Oratoria kind of bored me to the point where I dropped the anime and then finally a second anime season of DanMachi was announced.

After a four year gap there was always the question of whether season 2 could match the excitement of season 1 and I faced the added issue of knowing where the story went because I’d read ahead in the novels. I’m usually not looking at an anime based on already knowing the story so it changes my views a little bit.

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Fortunately Irina was also up for some more Dungeon fun and so the two of reviewed this series weekly. Probably a good thing because a lot of what I saw and felt was because I’d experienced the books and knew where things were going or bits about characters that just isn’t in the anime. It made me look at the anime and what the anime was doing rather than what I already expected it to do. However, none of that changes the main problem with this second season.

The main problem is that a lot of what happens is about the characters facing more or less throw-away characters while background information is set up for future story arcs. The same thing happened in the books only when reading at least I can read it quick and move on to the next book. Here we’ve gotten to the end of Is It Wrong to Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon season 2 and it still feels like we’re waiting for it to get started.

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But, a lot of the charm of the original series came from the characters themselves and in that respect Bell is still a charming and optimistic protagonist surrounded by some great support characters who bounce well off of one another.

While season 2 has little actual dungeon based adventure it makes up for it by having Bell expand his knowledge of the other familias, the gods, and the city itself. This world building is crucial for future developments and more importantly something that helps expand the world of DanMachi to more than just brown dungeon walls.



The first arc of season 2 has the Hestia familia getting challenged to a war game for contrived reasons by the god Apollo. This actually was a really cool opening arc though would have been more impressive if Apollo had been given any characterisation outside of ‘be mean to the protagonists’. Still, watching Bell’s friends rally to his side and seeing his familia growing before the small group of them take on the much larger family was pretty thrilling. Unfortunately this arc was also the highlight of season 2 and it was more or less all over by episode 4.

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The story then transitions to a focus on Mikoto entering the red light district in search of a friend. Naturally Bell gets involved and they find the friend but she’s part of the Ishtar familia. Then of course Ishtar decides she wants Bell (what is it with Bell and goddesses). Following on from this we get various chase sequences, learn of a nasty ritual and then have a confrontation between multiple familias. It was one of my least favourite arcs in the books and seeing it brought to anime didn’t really make it much better. The new characters aren’t overly interesting and Ishtar is also a pretty one-note antagonist.

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There’s some final moments in the season with an army attacking the city and again there’s some good world building going on which will lay a solid foundation for future stories but to be honest this really did feel like that slower middle episode of a trilogy. Which is weird given it is just another set of stories in the same world as season one and yet here for whatever reason the threats never quite click and we don’t get anything anywhere near as impressive as the fight with the Minotaur from season 1.

What remains solid are the supporting characters. Hestia, Welf and Lily, now joined by Mikoto make for an excellent back-up team for Bell. Hermes gets far more screen time in season 2 and his presence permeates all three arcs and it is often fun trying to guess what he is up to and what he is plotting. He’s one of those fun, ambiguous characters and I kind of hope he never changes.

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Overall, Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon Season 2 is watchable enough and continues the story of Bell and his familia. However, by and large all it really made me want is the next season where all the little bits of information we’ve been learning start coming into play. That and I really just want to see Bell back in the dungeon again as it feels like despite the dungeon being part of the title season 2 spent far too long outside of it. Splitting these arcs up might have helped interspersing more dungeon antics in between and it could have been quite fun to watch, however it is what it is.

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I still think those who enjoyed the first season will enjoy being reunited with this story. It could have been better but it also could have been a lot worse.


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Karandi James


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DanMachi Season 2 Series Review
Series Review

Images from: DanMachi 2nd Season. Dir. T Hideki. J.C. Staff. 2019.

Demon-Lord Retry Series Review

Demon Lord Retry Review
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Demon-Lord Retry? More like Demon-Lord Builds a Spa!

Maou-Sama Retry (Demon-Lord Retry) is one of those anime that thoroughly convinces me that just because it has a slightly different take on an old idea it doesn’t necessarily make it interesting. In Retry’s case we have Kunai who was managing a game who after deciding to shut it down finds himself inside what looks suspiciously like said game (though with some differences). I wonder where we’ve seen that set up before? Where it tries to be a little different is that the protagonist actually looks older inside the game (so if not magically made a teenager again) and is also considered a ‘demon-lord’ in the world so doesn’t instantly become a hero.

Which would all be well and good if they did anything with that. However, as far as I can see, other than the holy maidens not liking him initially, his basic interactions of find girl, help her, have girl join ever growing harem of hanger-on’s as he meanders about fairly aimlessly fits more or less with a lot of lesser isekai stories (and some that actually make this formula interesting). Where this might succeed is if the humour of Demon-Lord Retry has you cackling but to be honest I think there were about three scenes where it made me crack a smile and outside of that I was just a little bit bored.

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Initially, despite the first episode not being particularly thrilling, I thought that this one would pick up a bit once it found its feet. Kunai seemed fairly focused on finding a way to get home and so with the first girl he rescued (Aku) in tow he sets off. And somehow over the series that plot thread becomes lost in a tangle of shopping, gaining power, increasing the number of rescued girls hanging around to the point where Aku all but disappears from the show, and then building a spa resort in a village inhabited by bunny people.

I am going to take a swipe at the art and animation in this one. While Kenja no Mago which I enjoyed earlier this year also had pretty lacklustre art and visuals that seemed pretty cheap, particularly for background characters, Demon-Lord Retry looks very lazy a lot of the time. While sometimes it seems used for humorous effect, by and large it just isn’t that nice to look at or interesting and fights are a fairly bland affair when they actually occur (they are pretty few and far between).

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While the visuals won’t make or break your enjoyment of this anime, they certainly don’t add anything appealing for those on the fence about the whole thing. Nor do the voice actors bring much to the table with each character seemingly only having one tone (a second one if they are really lucky) and then they deliver every single line in that tone.

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However, because the story is going practically nowhere, the characters don’t have all that much to say. While we learn a few facts about the characters from their exchanges it never feels like we get to the heart of who they really are and honestly it feels a little empty.



I guess the comedy is supposed to compensate, however unless you find a holy maiden getting her butt spanked hilarious or the cross-dressing adventurer’s overt attempts to seduce Kunai chuckle worthy you’re probably not going to find the space being filled. When its not trying to gain laughs through the above there’s a kind of self-aware smugness to the series that makes it all seem more tired than funny. Certainly there are many anime that have pulled off self-aware comedy and actually been pretty amusing, but this one is not going to join their ranks (at least for me).

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By the time this series came to a close I was well and truly ready to say goodbye to it from my watch list. At no point is it unwatchably bad, and again, those who appreciate the form of comedy in this will definitely get more from it, but it also didn’t bring anything to the table that seemed worth sitting through twenty minutes each week. The characters were flat and uninteresting, the comedy for me missed the mark by a mile, the story is all but non-existent and without interesting characters watching their town building efforts is pretty dull, and visually it just wasn’t interesting to look at.

While there’s certainly worse anime out there than Maou-Sama Retry I’m just not sure this one is worth the time.


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Karandi James


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Images from: Maou-Sama, Retry! Dir. H Kimura. EKACHI EPILKA. 2019.

Arifureta: From Common Place to World’s Strongest Review Episode 13

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Arifureta = Overkill

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Arifureta Episode 13

Hurray! We made it to the end of the Arifureta anime. If life were a game this would definitely be an achievement for having survived an endurance test of some sort, though I somehow suspect that a binge watch of this series would make it somewhat more palatable.

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Anyway, episode 13 sees Hajime and his harem race through the dungeon and drop in on the fight below before destroying all the monsters, shooting the demon, and calmly returning to the surface. Then Kaori declares she’s in love with Hajime and despite being calmly and firmly rejected insists on joining the ever growing harem of girls following after Hajime.

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As usual the lack of impact this episode has comes back to the lack of foundation any of these characters have, and following on from that, the way at which we rush through the situation and just how little we’re asked to care about anything that is happening. This sequence really should have had some impact. Hajime reuniting with his classmates, their reactions to his transformation, the split in their current morality, yet the anime just glosses past it all. It’s there, but carries no weight, much like most of the events the anime has sped through.

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However, it is now done and all I have to do is review the series as a whole without it turning into a rant (that may take some re-writes) and then I can pretend this anime doesn’t exist and just go back to reading the books. then I can ‘look forward to’ or be horrified by the fact that this one apparently got a second season. This is definitely a case where they are telling the same story but have utterly missed everything that made the story interesting.


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Karandi James


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Images from: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest. Dir. K Yoshimoto. White Fox. 2019.

Arifureta: From Common Place to World’s Strongest Review Episodes 11 + 12

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Cute Girl Attack

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Arifureta Episodes 11 + 12

Watching the Arifureta anime is like reading a synopsis of the novels. It’s all kind of there and yet there’s no depth or details and it all just feels rushed as we lurch from one thing to the next with zero effort in the transition. Episode 11 immediately has our ‘heroes’ returning Will to the guild, collecting their status plates, Shea and Hajime going out on a date and then promptly freeing a fish man from an aquarium before rescuing a mer-folk child from slavers and then destroying all the slavers in town. All that in just twenty minutes.

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In between Shea and Hajime’s shenanigans in the whole rescue the mer-girl story, we cut back to Tio and Yue who are sipping coffee and discussing Yue’s thoughts regarding Shea and Hajime. This is actually a pretty important when you consider the group dynamics but here it just intrudes into an already over-packed episode and doesn’t end up feeling like it has any weight. Then Hajime blows one of the slavers through a wall and takes out their table and the two join in the chaos.

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I guess if you have an incredibly short attention span the pace at which Arifureta chews through content might actually work but I just keep wondering how much more interesting any of the ideas here would be if they let them sit for a moment and actually explored them. Though, given I already felt the light novels kept shifting tone too rapidly from book to book as a new girl seemed to be added in each volume, the anime series compressed it all further and the end result is fairly messy.

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However, all of this is better than Arifureta’s attempt in episode 12 to reconnect us with the Heroes’ Party fighting in the labyrinth. A lot of the problems here go back to where this series started when it cut out all the foundation for the classmates. It makes it impossible to care about these people and in many cases impossible to even remember who they are. Which takes what might be a nice climatic moment for the series with the party getting wrecked by a demon and Hajime needing to swoop in for the rescue and makes it just randoms dying because they didn’t have enough sense to run or surrender and Hajime giving in to his newly acquired ‘daughter’ when she asks him to go save them.

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On the other hand, if episodes 9 and 10 were the strongest up until that point, episodes 11 and 12 continue that trend in terms of watchability (provided the CG monsters don’t make you physically wince, though by now you should be used to them). While a better foundation would have made all of this sit better, the episodes themselves are not inherently bad, just a little rushed, and episode 12’s only real failing is that we don’t have an emotional connection with the characters so don’t care about what is actually a pretty exciting situation.

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Anyway, there’s one more episode to watch of this series. I’d say it won’t get a sequel anime but given Granblue fantasy is getting a season two, maybe this one will as well. It isn’t like we desperately need a third season of Noragami or anything.


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Karandi James


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Images from: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest. Dir. K Yoshimoto. White Fox. 2019.

Dr Stone Review Episode 13

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Eyes of Science

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Dr Stone Episode 13

Just when we think it is time to make the medicine there’s a small stumbling block in their path. They need alcohol and they will only get that if they win the tournament (see Senku really shouldn’t have sent Taiju away). With most of the rest of the ingredients assembled and made, Dr Stone is all but ready to make this cure all drug we’ve been working towards and it really feels quite satisfying given we’ve travelled with the characters through every laborious step of it.

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However, there is that tournament to get through and Ruri’s life is hanging in the balance. If Magma wins, it won’t matter if they make the drug or not so there’s a definite pressure on them to not screw it up. They’ve trained hard, entered as many people as they can to try to plan contingencies and done everything they could to ensure success, yet it isn’t a sure thing. Moments like the draw going the exact opposite way to how they were hoping demonstrate how some things remain outside of their control no matter what they plan.

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Though, and if you’ve read the source don’t spoil this, it seems like they’ve opened a very narrow path for Chrome to maybe come out on top. If Kinro actually wins his bout, which given the melon girl threw him the helmet with the glasses in it seems plausible, then Magma is going to be out of the running at round one. Provided Chrome doesn’t get stepped on by someone outside their crew, whoever vs him in the final round could just throw the match and let him marry Ruri. There could be worse outcomes.

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Still, we’re only one match into the tournament and it wasn’t totally decided at the end of this episode so literally anything could happen. I’m just kind of hoping they don’t drag it out for a few weeks and that we get on with the plot. The speed at which we’ve moved through other aspects of this anime suggest that would be the case but I guess we’ll see what the next episode will bring.


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Karandi James


Want to follow Senku on his journey to bring back civilisation?

Images from: Dr Stone. Dir. I Shinya. TMS Entertainment. 2019.