The Tools Of War: Phones, Vacations and Love Advice

Kaguya Sama: Love is War Post Title

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 2 Review

Well, seems the annoying narration at the start is there to stay but I kind of raised my issues with that last week so moving on. We also have the character introductions again and I realised just how much this series was leaning of Kaguya’s social status for a lot of the jokes and set-ups, but again its a comedy so we’ll just move on. Still, between opening narration, OP and character introductions that’s a chunk of episode time eaten before the first of the three segments even starts so I’m just wondering how sustainable this story is given even with that it felt like the second skit dragged a little.

Kaguya Sama Episode 2 Shirogane

Focusing on the three sections of episode though the first one was the best of the three. Featuring the President getting a phone and then trading Line addresses with Yuu was actually a pretty good set up. Admittedly, some people may find the punch line hilarious but mostly I just found the conclusion a little eye-roll worthy because it just felt like there was no way Shinomiya would have missed that point. Still, visually, this first skit was the most interesting and the characters were at their sharpest and best.

Kaguya Sama Episode 2 Shinomiya

The following two sections both had good moments. The argument about whether to go to the mountains or the beach for summer vacation seems fairly innocuous and turning it into a high stakes battle actually worked very well in terms of humour. While the proceeding argument ended up taking too long and felt like the punch line was deliberately held off just too far for me to stay full invested, it was still reasonable. However, the visuals here lent more toward girls in swim suits and wasn’t as creative or interesting as the previous section which meant the argument unfolding had to hold the section.

Kaguya Sama Episode 2 Beach scene

Finally, the President was approached for love advice and this was the section I found the weakest and ultimately I didn’t find much about it funny or entertaining. Though I’ll admit watching Shinomiya blush after Shirogane wall slammed the door she was standing behind was pretty cute.

This show remains a real mixed bag for me. There’s some impressive visuals and direction at times and some of the exchanges are very clever and amusing. However, there’s also a lot that really falls flat for me and this episode toward the end really felt like it was dragging. I’m also really concerned about the ability of this anime to keep this concept fresh at three scenarios an episode for a whole season. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 1
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 1

Advertisements

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 3 With Irina and Karandi

This week was another great episode for season 2 with the characters showing a yokai around their school. While that might seem like a pretty mundane plot, the characters of The Morose Mononokean are up to the challenge of making this more interesting than it might seem.

Check out Irina and my thoughts on episode 3 over on Irina’s blog.

The Morose Mononkean Season 2 Episode 2 Fuzzy.
Just because Fuzzy isn’t in the episode enough, here’s a pic from episode 2.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
Play Asia Exclusive
Play Asia Exclusive

The Growing Bonds That Join These Characters

Domestic Girlfriend Post Title Image

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 2 Review

Given I went into the first episode of this anime expecting that Domestic Girlfriend would be the usual clueless protagonist who falls over and lands on a girl’s chest or with his nose in her crotch and that would be played for laughs, and I would promptly drop the show, the far more serious drama unfolding here is actually a pleasant surprise. While there are certainly elements that might turn some away such as the bathroom scene, the story seems to be dealing with largely characters that act kind of like real people (though there are still gaps in that credibility).

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 2 Rui
I like that Rui gets to the heart of the matter.

This episode largely focused on Natsuo and Rui’s interactions and despite Rui not leaving much of an impression last week, that is for the better. Compared to Sensei’s more stereotypical and silly persona, Rui is a harder read and the audience, like Natsuo, is invited this week to take a second look at her.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 2 Natsuo
Believe it or not, he’s actually being helpful.

There’s an incredibly charming scene at school where Natsuo is attempting to help Rui get used to conversation but somewhere throughout it stops being play and they end up verbally sparring much to the entertainment of the class. While Rui’s transfer to Natsuo’s school is a cliche development, it makes sense given they live together and at least she didn’t land in his class.

Domestic Girlfriend Episode 2

However, Sensei does get development this episode as we see that her tears last week were indeed because of a situation and that situation is ongoing. While the audience, and Natsuo, aren’t fully in on the details just yet, it is clear that things aren’t going so well for Sensei when it comes to romance.

So while Domestic Girlfriend may be teetering on the edge of being a soap-opera (the only thing stopping it is that we currently have a very small cast of characters), so far it has been highly entertaining. And I really do love the music so far, particularly the OP and ED.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
TORADORA! 1/6 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: TAIGA AISAKA -THE LAST EPISODE- REPACKAGE VER.
TORADORA! 1/6 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: TAIGA AISAKA -THE LAST EPISODE- REPACKAGE VER.

Not Brushing Aside Trauma Makes For A Better Narrative

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Post Title Image

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 2 Review

I loved Sailor Moon growing up. It was really the first anime I watched that I came to realise was anime. As such, magical girl stories have been something of a staple for me since entering the world of anime and while I will admit I’m a little over this dark take or parody twist all of them seem to take these days, Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka is so far managing to offer a nice balance of elements that is drawing me right into the story. In Sailor Moon when the bad guy’s insidious plans went public, the normal response the following day from characters, particularly Molly, was to assume they’d had some crazy dream or similar. Very rarely did any impact from the event linger and it was almost as if it hadn’t happened. While that works well enough in Sailor Moon, it was refreshing to that this wasn’t the approach taken here.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Episode 2 - Asuka

The events from episode 1 were not brushed aside and the world did not reset with everyone just moving on. The trauma of nearly being killed weighs heavily on Asuka’s classmate as does the feeling of helplessness. This story is taking it’s themes seriously even as it builds something fairly entertaining.

And it is entertaining. It isn’t wallowing in the misery of its characters and traumatising them just to see them break (not yet at least – it might still go there). Instead it seems to want to look at the situation it put its characters in and consider the way it would impact on the different characters. We see this in the classmates’ different responses to the violence in the city with the girl who was in the midst of it exhausted and suffering, going into shock after a police car with its siren passes her by. We also see those less close to the scene and their more subdued tone compared to the previous episode.

Magical Girl Spec Ops Asuka - Episode 2 - disas

Then we get another contrast. We have seen Asuka is still dealing with the trauma from the war and trying to get on with her life, but what about the other magical girls? This episode brings in Kurumi who is more of a support fighter but because Asuka is refusing to join the unit, Kurumi is all they’ve got when a left-over Disas is set loose in the city. Not only do we get a bit of back story between the two but we see that Kurumi, despite admitting she isn’t very strong, is still fighting the fight and has taken a very different approach to life after the war than Asuka. What I found particularly applause worthy, was that the scene didn’t condemn Asuka’s choice even though Kurumi accused her of being unfair and awful. The story leaves the audience to decide as it presents these two characters.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Episode 2 - Villains

While the villains of the piece may yet be the weak link, they’ve still got time to develop beyond crazy for the sake of it and there’s plenty of interesting ideas afoot here. If you’ve been avoiding the dark magical girl genre, Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka may just be the one that works for you (then again, early days).

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
MAGICAL GIRL LYRICAL NANOHA THE MOVIE 1ST 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED PVC FIGURE: NANOHA TAKAMACHI CASUAL WEAR VER
MAGICAL GIRL LYRICAL NANOHA THE MOVIE 1ST 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED PVC FIGURE: NANOHA TAKAMACHI CASUAL WEAR VER

Harsh Comparison Of Experience and Naive Ignorance in Battle

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode Review Title Image

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 15 Review

Episode 15 continues directly where the last episode of Alicization left us with Eugeo and Kirito encountering two girls in the tower. Now there girls, like so many people we’ve met in recent episodes, are a little bit messed up in the head due to a tragic and very short back story (yay for not another multi-episode exposition dump). Still, when they drop on the audience that 28 kids were slaughtered in the attempt to perfect resurrection and these two nut-jobs are the only survivors you kind of think that maybe this is an issue the story should actually expand upon.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 15
Wait did you just casually mention kids exploding and this is all the time you are giving this idea?

But no, in the same episode with multiple other issues including a really weird and pointed comment about gender and feelings of inferiority that Sword Art Online does not have the narrative strength to carry off and feel like anything other than a patronising nod at gender politics. Seriously, if they want me to take SAO’s commentary on gender even vaguely seriously they should give Asuna a sword again and let her fight side by side with Kirito. Then I’ll start taking some of this messaging a little more seriously (a little bit, it’s SAO so I’m not exactly looking to it for gender politics).

However, neither of those points, both fairly big points, were what I walked away from the episode wanting to discuss. Instead, my focus is very much on the Eugeo and Kirito dynamic. It was something very early in the episode that shifted my attention to this and despite all these other distractions I never really got off of thinking about it.

Sword Art online Alicization Episode 15 Eugeo, Zel and Nel

At the beginning of the episode, when the two sweet girls on the stairs are introducing themselves, Kirito taps Eugeo on the shoulder, tells him he’s not good with kids and that he should handle it, and then places himself behind Eugeo. This seems like such a weird move for Kirito. You know, Kirito, the guy who picks up every cute girl and gets involved in their business until they are smiling and happy even though he acts like he doesn’t want to get involved. Not to mention, he adopted a program as his and Asuna’s kid. So not being good with kids is a major flag going up that something was going on. I actually replayed the scene to see if I could figure it out and I was really pleased later in the episode when I realised I had pin-pointed what had made Kirito act weirdly. There’s a line that girls say that warns Kirito not all is as it seems and he appropriately takes action (admittedly, he does seem to figure out not just that something is up but just what nature of attack he’s about to face which seems a bit far-fetched, but hey, Kirito).

And that really highlighted something for me between Eugeo and Kirito. During the last episode, Eugeo was the one who ended the fight after Kirito acted as the diversion. Kirito’s role was the more risky one because he had to be able to defend against a full attack while Eugeo prepared, but Kirito managed. However, in all of this, Eugeo has been seen as a fairly solid swordsman in his own right.

Sword Art online Alicization Episode 15 Kirito Fighting

This episode splits the two characters very solidly not on their talent with the sword but on their experience in actual battle. We’ve seen more than once a situation where Eugeo has become emotional in the midst of conflict and we see it again in this fight. We also see that Eugeo isn’t on guard against the two girls even though they are in enemy territory and they are fighting their way to the top. It is here that Kirito’s past, his knowledge and experience, allow him to shine. Even though once the fight begins in earnest, Eugeo plays a critical role, again it is Kirito leading the pace and direction of the battle.

Sword Art Online Episode 15 Alicization Kirito
I wonder if we’ll actually see this attack or if they are just faking us out?

The dynamic between the two characters and Eugeo’s changeable nature as he is new to this environment make for some of the more interesting moments that Alicization has brought to the franchise. Must admit, I really ended up enjoying this episode even with the sheer amount they tried to cram into it and as a result ended up doing a pretty ordinary job of.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
SWORD ART ONLINE: LOST SONG
SWORD ART ONLINE: LOST SONG

Why Emma’s Lack of Compromise Is Both Foolish and Brilliant

The Promised Neverland post title image

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 Review

After one of the best premiere episodes I’ve seen in a long time, episode 2 of The Promised Neverland had a lot to live up to, and while I can’t say it 100% did, it was still a very solid episode that has definitely moved the plot and characters along nicely while still managing to ooze atmosphere and tension. The majority of the episode focuses on Norman and Emma considering how they are going to escape as Mother gives a few indications that she’s got her eye on them and messes with their heads a little, before Ray joins the two in their plans. It doesn’t sound all that exciting but much like with episode 1 it is all about the execution. (Some spoilers below.)

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 Mother finds a kid.

However, this is where I did pick a few faults this week. Where episode one had the consistent clock motif throughout the episode, and that is still present in episode 2, a lot of the visual effects this week seem a little disjointed or don’t seem to quite hit the mark. Notably early in the episode where Emma is sitting up in her bed and we seem to be looking at her from the clock’s perspective and the scene sways back and forth like a pendulum. It is kind of clear they are trying to show us how unsettled she is and how unstable things are and yet mostly I just felt queasy and like the scene went on too long. It didn’t pack enough emotional impact for the time it took.

The second effect that I had to look at a couple of times and still didn’t really click with was when Mother and the other children walk past Norman and Emma back into the house and they are trailed by after images. I’m not entirely sure what tone this was supposed to hit but it was another moment where it didn’t draw me into the scene but rather pushed me out of the moment and had me puzzling why they went with that effect rather than following the characters and the scene.

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman and Emma

Though, with the exception of those sequences, I really liked how this episode was put together. Again we have some very interesting angles used on the characters to show their emotions and relative power, there’s a lot of thought put into the music and sound, and mostly the pacing works exceptionally well at making you feel uncomfortable and waiting for the next moment and then lingers just that little bit longer before moving on.

For me, Emma was the real champion of this episode. Not so much because I like her as a character. She’s pretty generic in terms of the big sister character who wants to be cheerful and protect her family. I like her more because of what she has done for the plot.

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman and Emma

Because of Emma and her shock and inability to just act like nothing happened, Mother seems suspicious of Emma and Norman. This is the first factor that escalates tension in this episode and ensures we are very carefully watching Mother all throughout the episode to see if she actually knows or is just suspicious. If Norman alone had been the one to find out about Conny, there’d be nothing happening in a lot of these scenes because he’s beautifully playing the role of someone who has no knowledge.

Also, the escape plan that Emma and Norman are cooking up involves saving everyone. All of the children. As Ray points out when he is included in the conversation, that’s stupid. It is nearly impossible and even if they all escape how will they survive afterwards. And honestly, Emma, Norman and Ray believably could escape in a couple of days after snooping around some. But then, where would the excitement be?

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman, Ray and Emma

No, Emma puts her foot down hard and insists everyone is going to escape. She won’t sacrifice anyone. And Norman sides with Emma because despite being super-logical, he likes Emma and he’s 12. Emma’s decision and her lack of consideration for any compromise, turns what is already a steep task into one that might be insurmountable.

For other shows wanting to raise emotional and narrative stakes, take notes from The Promised Neverland. You don’t have to randomly and gruesomely kill off your cast to make things seem more dangerous. Yes, this anime did kill a character in episode one to establish the overall stakes, but without a single drop of blood being shed, episode 2 managed to build on that drama and craft a compelling path for the story to take. I am very much looking forward to where this story goes from here.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1
The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1

If I Sit On It, It’s Mine – So Says The Cat

My Roommate is a Cat Post Title

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 2 Review

Anyone who has owned a cat will get a good laugh out of this episode if nothing else. From the opening sequence of Subaru finding the cat asleep on his laptop to later being scared when he opens a box to find the cat asleep inside, these are wholly relatable moments for the audience to enjoy. I’ll admit though, my cat and I have come to an arrangement when it comes to keyboards and now she has accepted sitting beside the keyboard and just periodically swiping at my fingers if I’m not paying her enough attention. Negotiations with cats are always ended in favour of the cat even when the human thinks they’ve won.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 2 Cat on Keyboard

Realistically, there’s not a lot going on in this anime. It is very slice of life, author living with cat, and honestly other than the appeal of seeing my own cat’s antics on screen, there’s not a huge amount to cling to in terms of plot. Even though I quite like Subaru, I found his ‘misunderstanding’ at the pet shop a little bit on the painful side and while the rest of the episode rolled along smoothly, it seems every time the cat is absent from the screen things hit a bit of a rocky patch.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 2 Subaru at Pet Shop

As with last week, the final part of the episode flipped the perspective and we got the cat’s point of view on the events of the episode. Again, I’m not sure this adds a lot, but it is cute so we’ll just go with it.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 2 Cute Moment

While I’m not going to say this is a particularly good anime, if you like cats, don’t mind things just being cute for the sake of it, and can put up with something where about half the jokes don’t quite land, you’ll probably enjoy this. I’m enjoying it and it isn’t a genre I normally like. The love of cats goes a long way here.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
avatar
Consider supporting the blog by:

Patreon2

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Or, use one of my product affiliate links.
NENDOROID DOLL: MAD HATTER
NENDOROID DOLL: MAD HATTER