Run With The Wind Series Review

They’ll take your emotions for a run.

For those who followed my episodic reviews you will already know it took me awhile to get into this series. The opening episodes, while there were some really pretty animations, didn’t really grab me as we set up a fairly standard team sport anime. We had Haiji, the pushy driver of the group getting the team together with his vision of them running some marathon, and then we had the assortment of motley characters who would ultimately come together as a team. It was all very ordinary and I didn’t really like Haiji as a character, but something kept me watching.

Run With The Wind Episode 1

I’m really glad for whatever that something was. Run With The Wind ended up being an extraordinary emotional experience and by the end I was smiling and crying and just wanting to cheer with these boys. It isn’t that this anime broke any new ground or did anything a whole pile of sports anime haven’t done before, it was more the execution of its elements. Giving this anime its two cours to develop these characters and the team and leading us to the race that they had been training for and giving that race the episodes it needed to play out so that we could see how each character had really grown throughout the series really paid off and while it might be just another sports anime, this one really hit me where it needed to.

It is unusual for me but I want to start reviewing this anime by discussing the sound design. I specifically discussed this in my episode 11 review, but really Run With the Wind was a standout anime for how it used sound. Whether it was music or ambient sound the choices were always extremely fitting for the scene and highly effective at conveying the tone or emotion of the moment. It is very rare for me to pay that much attention to the sound but Run With The Wind is one anime where it pays off and while it might be a little heavy handed it is a major contributing factor in explaining why I was so swept away by events in each episode.

Run With The Wind Episode 11 Rain

Equally, Run With The Wind new when to put its effort into the visuals. While it wasn’t used in every single race, there were several moments throughout the series, particularly when Kakeru was running, that the anime went all out to visually represent the beauty of his running or his connection with the wind. They are scenes that just draw you in and leave you breathless but they aren’t overused or intrusive. It would have been tempting to put such visual effects over each runner or to use it every time Kakeru ran but the restraint shown meant that each instance really stood out and had impact.

For the rest of the visuals, these are adequate with each of the ten boys having an interesting enough character design and the animation being on point. I was impressed by the races where most of the characters still seemed suitably animated even if a little too regular in their movement but there weren’t a huge number of still shots and panning which a lot of anime would have done rather than animating the crowd of runners.

Run With The Wind Episode 16

All and all, the production is pretty solid for Run With The Wind and that complements a narrative that is basic but well paced and delivered and characters who each have an arc that works and ties in nicely with the story.

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I’m not going to argue that this story or the characters are revolutionary or something we haven’t seen before. If you watch a lot of sport or club anime you’ve seen everything here before. However it is delivered competently and ultimately the experience is fairly rewarding.

Run With The Wind Episode 4

Haiji was perhaps my greatest surprise. Starting as a character archetype I find quite grating, by the end of the series, while I’m still not thrilled at how he enlisted the others, I found him a fairly charming character. His leg of the race was one that really made me smile and I celebrated with him, which is something I wouldn’t have believed early on in the story. It wasn’t that Haiji changed all that much throughout. It was more that the anime took the time to flesh him out and make him feel like a real person. Sure he was pushy at the beginning and they never try to pretend that didn’t happen, but they give him a motive that makes sense and allow even him to second guess his own actions and to consider where he’s really going. It helps to really begin to appreciate what he was trying to do and why by the end.

Run With The Wind Episode 18 Haiji

Equally, Kakeru begins as your fairly standard character archetype. The highly talented runner who has quit due to some trauma from his previous club. He initially clashes with everyone. Haiji because he doesn’t really want to run with the club and with everyone else because of their inexperience with running and their attitude toward it. His character journey is also pretty standard and honestly drawn out too long. While I like where he ended up, I feel they could have resolved some of his arc a bit sooner than they did and that’s probably my main complaint from this series.

Run With The Wind Episode 13 Kakeru being pulled up by his team.

However, each character needs to be looked at individually. Where they all start as just background noise and additional numbers for the club, by the end they have each become a character in their own right and one that for whatever reason the audience has become attached to. It is an extraordinary effort that Run With The Wind has taken to give each character sufficient moments that there is a connection formed before the final race and then each character concludes their character arc as they run their leg.

Run With The Wind Episode 23 - Prince

Honestly, if you didn’t give Run With The Wind a go when it was airing, this is an anime that is well worth the time. While it is slow to really get going it is a journey that is rewarding and with great sound and visual design it is an anime that is truly worth watching.

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Karandi James
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Sword Art Online Alicization Series Review

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 7 Kirito

Proving that more is not always better.

There be spoilers below.

I remember back when Sword Art Online had just begun. I remember the first episode of the Aincrad arc and just how quickly it seemed to pass by and how heavily the bombshell at the end of that episode fell. I remember rapidly skipping to the next episode (it came out before I could stream things as they aired but that meant I could binge) and I remember just how absorbed I became with the characters and the story and just how much fun the whole viewing experience was.

Sword Art Online - Aincrad
Nostalgia, sigh.

Admittedly, the entertainment of the very first series from 2012 shouldn’t really have all that much to do with whether or not this story arc from 2018-2019 is actually any good, nor should I compare them and expect that to be the same. Kirito has grown as a character since then, the technology has moved on, and almost all the other characters we spend any length of time with in Alicization are completely new. It is its own experience but not stand-alone. The events in the real world do require pre-existing knowledge of the franchise to make sense so even if I wanted to give Alicization a clean break from the seasons of SAO past, it wouldn’t really be doable.

Could someone totally new to the franchise start with Alicization?

Sure. They’d miss some context for things but mostly I doubt that would change the overall viewing experience. Except perhaps that a new viewer would go in without any expectations of Sword Art Online and so some of the disappointment I faced while watching Aliciation wouldn’t have played a factor. Maybe a new audience member could just enjoy a romp in the new world with the new cast and not wonder what happened to the cool and reckless Kirito before he ‘grew up’ and became the boring, moralising and largely passive protagonist we encounter here.

I know. I just called Kirito boring. I didn’t think I’d ever do that. Lots of other people did even back in Aincrad but I always really liked Kirito as a character. Alicization was the killing blow though.

Part of this is because Kirito spends a large part of Alicization seemingly mentoring Eugeo. Being pushed into a mentor or teacher role means that he does need to explain and sermonise and take the high ground in order to lead by example. It also means standing back at times and taking the background role to let the student grow. And honestly, given the context of Alicization, which I’ll get to in a bit, Kirito moving into that role makes perfect sense, but it isn’t interesting.

The sacrifice of Kirito’s spirit and character, though a significant blow to my enjoyment of the franchise, possibly could have been rationalised as Eugeo is actually an interesting character to watch grow. While never as interesting or dynamic as Aincrad’s Kirito, he wasn’t a bad substitute. However, Eugeo’s character arc comes to an abrupt and fairly pointless and ridiculous end by the end of this half of Alicization. So ultimately I watched Kirito help another character grow at the expense of being entertaining in his own right and then that character isn’t going to do anything because they are already finished. Or at least, finished enough as I don’t doubt SAO’s ability to come up with rubbish reasons for this not to be the end.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 11 Kirito
Or Kirito, you could maybe do something. That would be nice.

This isn’t the first time Kirito has had someone he’s mentored and helped has died. The Moonlit Black Cats, particularly Sachi, were a large part of his character growth in Aincrad and Sachi’s death left emotional scars that Kirito had to work really hard to overcome.

The problem is that Eugeo’s character had pretty much 20 something episodes of mentoring and then before he surpassed his master he died and his death hasn’t seemed to amount to anything, though perhaps they’ll capitalise on it in the next half. All I know is that it left an incredible taste of dissatisfaction in my mouth.

Eugeo - Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 23
Well, it was nice getting to know you Eugeo, even if it turns out to be pointless.

For all that I’ve just attacked the characters, I’m now going to back up a bit and actually look at the fundamental problems in Alicization as a series. Keep in mind, there are some really great moments throughout the 24 episodes. Sequences where one character or another really rises up and does something cool and dramatic and for a moment you can just get swept away. So I am not saying there’s nothing good about Alicization.

However, what really hurts Alicization, other than the time difference between events in the real world and the events in underworld which results in Asuna and the others getting bare minimum screen time and an absolute lack of audience buy in to the event in the real world…

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 6
Wouldn’t we love for this to have actually been explored. Sure maybe they’ll get to it in the second half but how long does it take to actually get to a point?

Okay, the time thing probably needs its own section because it was a really unnecessary contrivance that really hurt the pacing of the real world events. With the large gaps of time between when we even saw characters in the real world and how little progress that plot made over the course of a whole season, because events in Underworld move fast, it just isn’t a very effective way to tell a story, particularly in a season spread over more than six months. Perhaps binge watching would alleviate some of this issue but honestly, at times I all but forgot what Asuna and the others were even doing so the dramatic final for them really had next to no impact.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 6 Asuna

Right, so what really hurts Alicization, other than all that stuff, is the way they execute the story. The idea behind Alicization is actually really interesting with souls being digitalised and raised within a virtual world. The pseudo-science techno-babble explanations of the how and the why don’t really help here but the concept is cool. The problems within that world where those in control of the command codes are corrupt and others are forced through the Taboo Index to essentially obey those of higher standing within the world.

I mean, it isn’t terrible original if we put it in the context of a dystopian kind of story, but it works and there’s a lot of potential ideas for exploration and so many potential paths for the story to take.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 10 Eugeo
And yes, I’m deliberately not going to discuss the use of sexual assault here. It actually fits what the narrative was trying to do and people have already discussed the execution of the scene to death. With so many other issues in the anime to address, the lack of nuance around this particular development is hardly the gravest sin.

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And while Alicization does take some interesting paths and does explore some of the concepts, it does it in an incredibly poorly conceived manner. Where large chunks of information are given to us through forced exposition in the form of incredibly long and artificial sounding dialogue exchanges between characters, and a lot of that information is either repetitive of previous bits of information, or just so abstract that it will make no difference whether the audience has it explained or not, it just doesn’t make for interesting viewing.

Imagine you were watching some kind of fast paced sporting tournament and every now and then the competitors stopped, poured out some cups of teas, and sat around discussing their motives, training methods, and the history of their coach. Then they just get up and start competing again.

Sword Art Online Episode 13 Kirito the collaborator
Buckle up, this conversation is taking a whole episode. You’ll get flash backs, but they are just going to keep on talking.

Alright, Alicization wasn’t that bad, but the analogy is kind of apt in terms of the enjoyment in viewing.

When you throw in the fact that Kirito and Eugeo set out from Eugeo’s home town to find Alice and end up enrolling in a school and just happily training for a few years (happily may be an exaggeration) and it doesn’t seem like they are in any kind of hurry to achieve their goal, the pace of this story seems all over the shop and goals that drive characters seem to do so selectively. Even once they get to the tower and begin facing off against Integrity Knights, it is very hard to care about these characters as antagonists and their motives for fighting, or not fighting, are really hard to swallow sometimes. As is Alice’s rapid decision to work with Kirito when they were hanging outside of the tower.

Sword Art Online Alicization Eugeo
Yep, priorities.

What it comes down to is you’d get a moment of excitement or interesting interaction and then Alicization would hit the breaks to explain something to you and just when things got going again it would do the same. With the narrative pacing off the characters really needed to step up to sell some of these exchanges only they didn’t. Outside of Kirito and Eugeo, barely anyone got any screen time and the few who did didn’t really draw me into the story so much as just existed within it.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 4

The music is workable but doesn’t give anywhere near the sense of excitement that I found in the score in the original series. Visuals work fine and the various attacks are pretty cool to watch. Eugeo really wins out here with his sword being exceptionally beautiful and its attack leads to some really interesting effects. Kirito is less lucky and because he gets limited time to go crazy with his sword there are far less moments where he just looks super cool on screen in Alicization. However, overall, Alicization is kind of average to look at. Character designs work as do settings but very little of it is stand out or amazing.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18 Eugeo Ice

I really did want to like this latest Sword Art Online. I was excited about the return of the franchise and to be honest, my love of the original has meant that subsequent iterations get a lot of leeway. However, Sword Art Online Alicization is not just not good, it is openly obnoxious at times as it drags the audience along and through unnecessarily long sequences and seems to care little about making any character actually more than just another plot point to be resolved. The end results is I didn’t have much fun watching it and realistically, if it hadn’t had the SAO connection, I’d have dropped it after the first cour rather than persevering through all 24 episodes. What’s worse than holding on 24 episodes? Watching 24 episodes for the thing to end on a cliff-hanger.

I feel like I’m writing a break up text to SAO with this review.

Honestly, I can’t recommend this. For those newer anime fans, I still think trying the original SAO is worth it despite the online hate factory for it, but Alicization is a lesser show in almost every way imaginable and while there were many readers of the light novels proclaiming that Alicization would fix the narrative issues with SAO, I think Alicization the anime just found new and improved ways to annoy an audience.

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Karandi James
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The Promised Neverland Fact Check – Sheets

The Promised Neverland post title image

Hi all! Are you surprised to see me here? For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Irina and I like anime. I like it so much that I have a little blog on the subject that I have been posting on for a bit over a year now, during which time I have had the privilege to not only get to know Karandi but to collab with her on a few posts.

Both experiences have been a pleasure.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Emma and friends
and just plain fun!

As such, I took a leap a little while ago and asked Karandi whether she would be interested in a more structured collaboration between our two blogs. She doesn’t know this yet, but I was super nervous about it. I like to faith nonchalance, but it was a bit like confessing. I half expected her to politely turn me down. I mean you guys know how much work Karandi puts into this blog. It’s her baby. So, I understand just how much of an honored it is to be allowed to intrude like this. I hope to live up to the opportunity. Please take care of me.

(Since Karandi is going to read this she’ll find out I’m not as cool and composed as I pretend to be and am actually a huge dork. I hope this post will make up for that. Here we go!)

Neverland10f
warning! spoilers ahead!

EPISODE 12 OF THE PROMISED NEVERLAND SPOILERS AHEAD

The Promised Neverland was one of the biggest anime to come out of the winter season. It was generally well liked by fans and critics alike and a lot of people actually watched it as it was airing. It’s no surprise that it got quickly greenlit for a second season and I know I’m not the only one looking forward to it.

One small point of contention about the show, at least among my readers, was the kids’ triumphant escape at the end of the season. I don’t know about you guys, but my readers were very dubious about it. It started with a twitter comment questioning Don’s amazing throwing abilities which I addressed here. I had a lot of fun with that article and I think my readers enjoyed it as well.

However, secondary questions arose. It seems viewers weren’t ready to let it go at just that. The most frequent comment on that post was that although they were happy to accept that Don would have been able to throw that initial rope over the chasm, they were still unconvinced that the sheets would have been viable as ziplines.

Now, using makeshift sheet ropes to escape imprisonment is one of the best known and widely used tropes so we might need to re-evaluate a lot of fiction depending on what we find out today. But it’s a risk I’m willing to take. So, let’s do science to it (*and by science I mean wild assumptions and suspicious guesswork. You know, the usual)

Neverland11a
haven’t even started yet!

Ok so let’s start by figuring out how much weight was applied on those sheets. Here’s a little fact that will never be useful to you in any way. I weight the same thing as the average Canadian 12-year-old. I looked it up for the post. Actual numbers do vary depending on the sources, but they range between 91 and 98 lbs.

The oldest children being twelve, we can assume no one is much higher than that. Moreover, although the children weren’t malnourished in any way, they are also very active and food was in limited supply, as such no one was overweight by any means. I think we can safely assume that 100lbs in the maximum those sheets had to take at once.

I know that to do this correctly, I have to account for the fact that the eight was distributed across those hangers and concentrated back on the hook. I should also try to calculate the wear caused by friction but that may be s midge above my capacities. At least for this post. So for now, let’s just see if the sheets would have survived at all.

The Promised Neverland Episode 12 - Climbing the wall
kid, I got some bad news

Finding the amount of weight an average bed sheet can hold without ripping was surprisingly difficult. I wasn’t able to find exact numbers (although I’m sure they exist) as manufacturers tend to measure friction over time rather than the capacity of having their sheets used in a great escape. What I did find however, was quite a bit of anecdotal evidence.

This is the relevant excerpt from that last article:

>Driving up Boulder Canyon in the time before cell phone cameras, I nearly drove into the creek upon seeing this. A”toprope” was being ascended by a corpulent man and his partner, both dressed in jeans and sneakers. They had set it up using several lengths of a bed sheet twisted into a rope, knotted every dozen feet or so, and passing through a large pulley that was draped over the top of the route. We observed nothing of note on our return from Animal World, so the two must have at least escaped with their bodies intact.—Submitted by Richard Wright, via climbing.com

Neverland8e
to be fair, the rest of the article said you shouldn’t use sheets for rock climbing…

Fact is, bed sheets are not just a well worn trope. They have been used in real life escapes on repeated occasion and have often worked. From what I learned, you can braid the sheets to boost their strength however, it is possible for a bedsheet to support a full-grown adult. Braided sheets can hold over 200lbs with no problem. Moreover, a lot of the examples mentioned that the sheets were cut or torn into strips which would have reduced their internal integrity somewhat making them more fragile than if used as a whole.

Unfortunately, most of the stories do not mention the men’s weights but I think it’s safe to assume most of them were at least 100 lbs if not considerably more. So, based on this I think the sheets could have taken the weight. But those sheets weren’t used as ropes exactly, they were more akin to a zip line. Does that make any difference?

Actually it does. Climbing up would in fact put the most stress on your sheet. The combined pulling and slight jerking motion with putting all of your weight on specific spots is what’s likely to put the most stress on the material. Climbing down is a bit better as you are letting gravity do part of the work and not transferring that on to the sheet, but you still have all the tension focused in specific places. Theoretically at least, zipping down the sheet will have your weight move down the sheet very quickly remaining for only split seconds at any single spot. This is a motion that is less likely to tear the sheet out right but will subject it to a bit more wear.

Neverland12e
ehh – close enough

None of this is as conclusive as Isabellas but there is reasonable evidence to believe the sheets *could* have supported the kids.

But you know what is more dubious. Whether those cloth hangers could hold up. Most modern hangers aren’t meant to hold up much more than 20lbs. I suppose heavy duty wooden ones for winter coats may go a bit above, however that’s still not 100lbs.

Admittedly, in the olden days when fancy garments where a lot more elaborate and heavier, you could conceivably have an outfit weight 100bs although it would be exceptional. That is a huge amount of weight to carry for an entire day. But it would have been possible that some industrial strength hangers meant for special outfits like that were made and those could carry the weight. If we are generous and assume that’s what the kids were using, I guess they could have pulled it off, seeing as they were only hanging for very brief periods.

However, if you ask me, the weak point in the plan was there.

So, what did you think? Did I convince you that bedsheets are practical replacement ropes in a pinch? On a different note, do you enjoy these types of posts? I’m open to try more if you have any ideas.

Promised-Neverland-Isabella-yardstick-2
still my greatest accomplishment!!!

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Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Series Review

The boys, and Fuzzy, are back for a more dramatic season of supernatural events.

I had the distinct pleasure of getting to review The Morose Mononkean Season Two with the lovely Irina and I will admit, I went in with fairly low expectations. Season one of the Morose Mononkean was okay but that was all. I love yokai stories and so I’d enjoyed it but that was no real drama, no real forward driving story, and the characters all seemed to lack development. They just kind of drifted about happy to deal with the immediate issue but not to address any of the larger world questions that seemed to keep coming up.

Fortunately, season two of The Morose Mononokean is one of those exceptions to my usual rule that sequels offer diminishing returns. Season two of The Morose Mononokean took everything that was nice and lovely from season one (the colour scheme, the relationship established between Abeno and Hanae, the yokai designs) and then added in everything I felt was missing. The end result was a season that was superior in every way and getting to discuss it each week with Irina just added to the fun as we speculated about characters and plot developments.

For those who are unfamiliar with the premise, Hanae can see yokai and in the beginning of the first season is actually possessed by one (the one that comes to be the cute mascot character of the show, Fuzzy). Hanae is saved by Abeno who while being human, and Hanae’s classmate, is also the master of the Mononokean, which means he can open the door between the human realm and the underworld and he exorcises yokai (essentially sends them home).

In season two we see a Hanae that initially starts off more comfortably in his role as Abeno’s assistance but a trip to the underworld and an encounter with one of the three powers there, the Executive tries to kill him because he is human.

This is by far the most danger he’d faced since realising yokai were real and beginning his work and for The Morose Mononokean as a narrative it really upped the stakes and tension in general. It also opened the way for more exploration of the political situation within the underworld which helped to really flesh out the world that had felt kind of shallow in season one.

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By itself, this would have been enough to make me enjoy season two far more than season one, but they also began to fill in Hanae’s backstory including his family situation. While there are still a lot of questions hanging over this at the end of season two, it really helped push character development for both Abeno and Hanae. It also helped their relationship, which had always been interesting, progress further as we got to see Abeno really take on a caring role as he tried to protect and help Hanae.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 10

Hanae’s development of powers he could use against yokai was also a really interesting progression because it opens up all kinds of possibilities, some of which unpleasant, for where the story might go. Plus, if you ever wanted to see Abeno and Hanae go head to head, you won’t be disappointed here.

The Morose Mononokean Episode 6 Ashiya and Yahiko

But it isn’t just the central duo getting a lot more development. The Legislator, Abeno’s boss essentially, was an enigmatic but interesting character in season one. While there is still a lot about him that we don’t know, he was given substantially more screen time and his meddling was far more overt in season two. The Executive and The Justice, the other two parts of the triad of power, were new additions to the cast but provided some really great moments even if they were very limited in their screen time.

There are also a host of yokai characters who come and go from the story as normal and these were all interesting and worked in their own way. Some of these have ties to the past or two the various political factions and others are just yokai of the week characters, but all leave a lasting impression on the main characters and the audience.

The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 4 Kinako

In addition to the improvements in the narrative and the character development, it seems like season two of The Morose Mononkean had a real lift in its visuals. While the rich colour palette used in season one for the underworld remained, all of the visuals just seemed crisper and characters less prone to going off model in this second season.

The Morose Mononokean - Beast in human form

If you decided to pass on this second season but didn’t mind the first, I’d strongly suggest giving it a go. If you’ve never tried the anime but you like yokai stories, definitely give the first season a go and while I know this is said all the time it really is true here, this story gets better as it goes. The only thing missing now is the knowledge that we’ll eventually get a third season to get some more closure on some of the loose ends.

Now to finish off with a gallery of Fuzzy.

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A Time For Choices

Endro - Post Title Image

Endro Episode 12 Review

I don’t have a huge amount to say about this final episode of Endro. It was, like most other episodes of Endro, cute and charming in it’s own way, played the tropes of its genre well with a few minor twists to keep things entertaining, and ultimately went for a saccharine ending that I really can’t fault it for. Overall, this anime reminds me a little bit of fairy floss (or I guess cotton candy depending on where you live). It looks pretty, kind of tastes great for a moment, but leaves you with very little substance.

Endro Episode 12 -Fai

I’ll probably look more at that idea when I review the series as a whole but this episode really didn’t deliver much in the way of surprises (and we are going to head into spoiler territory).

Endro Episode 12 - Mao
Now, who is a cranky demon lord?

To no one’s surprise, Yulia is feeling conflicted about the idea of fighting Mao even if it is to save the Princess. After a sob-story from the golem it becomes even more clear that this is one epic hero vs demon lord battle that just isn’t going to happen. The overall solution is a little trite but very in keeping with the story. I do however like the story’s overall commitment to characterisation.

Endro Episode 12 - The Hero's Party

When faced with a part of the story they’ve spun that doesn’t quite add up, the girls ultimately shrug it off with a ‘whatever’ and get on with having fun. It keep beautifully with their actions up until now where they ponder things briefly but never get too deep into anything before becoming distracted by something new and shiny.

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While ultimately we end up much where we started and it might seem like no advancement was made, it does feel like the characters are starting out a little wiser this time round and even if they make mistakes they’ll find a way to get through them.

Endro Episode 12 - Yulia
My Hero

In a season of fairly decent series, Endro isn’t topping my list but I’ve certainly had fun enough with this story and I’m kind of looking forward to doing my full series review of it.

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That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Series Review

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 9 Rimuru in the cave

Ready for the slime of your life?

Here we are with another isekai anime. Another normal, ordinary, totally average guy who is killed by a totally normal knife wielding running man before being reincarnated as an over-powered blue slime in a world resembling a standard generic fantasy setting where he will begin building an empire and have plenty of adoring subjects because he is awesome.

So, if you don’t like isekai or over-powered protagonists it is probably time to duck out of this one. Because, this anime is utterly unashamed of what it is and while we have the gimmick of the protagonist being a slime, there isn’t a lot that really distinguishes it in terms of plot or setting.

Where That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime does manage to distinguish itself from similar isekai adventures is that the protagonist seems utterly without a goal for the majority of the story. Sorry, I’ll correct that. He has goals but mostly they revolve around making his life easier, and usually making life easier for those who follow him. There’s no grand plan of fighting some powerful evil, trying to return home, or really anything else. Just short term goals that get accomplished in bite sized arcs as this essentially slice of life, empire building story kind of rolls itself out.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 11 Rimuru

As such there is never any real sense of urgency or that there are any real stakes in anything that happens. I kind of found this very off putting and frequently found it hard to invest a great deal emotionally in this show. While I never overly disliked it, I think if Slime had suddenly had production issues and been delayed a month, I may not have even noticed. It just kind of existed and while I was watching it I usually had a casual good time with an occasional smile, the occasional enjoyment of a particularly good dialogue exchange, and very rarely an interesting fight, but mostly it just kind of passed by.

For people who prefer their stories low-key and don’t mind watching characters just kind of drift and do what they do (so people who don’t really mind slice of life in general), Slime probably offers a rare fantasy opportunity that isn’t all about slaying a demon lord or achieving some grand goal. In a sense it reminds me, vaguely, of something like Restaurant to Another Universe in that you have what appears to be a standard fantasy setting without any of the epic plot trappings that usually accompany it.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 16

In a sense, if Slime had chosen to simply occupy the space of a slice of life in a fantasy setting, I probably wouldn’t have watched it at all because I already know such a premise doesn’t really interest me. However, Slime does at times have hints of a larger narrative and certain arcs seemed to push that forward. In those moments I found a genuine enjoyment rather than a casual like of the show. Shizue’s arc in the first cour was the true highlight, hitting some fairly decent emotional notes, filling in our knowledge of the world, and progressing the idea of a villain Rimuru may have to face at some point. All and all, it was pretty solid. There are other arcs, or bits of information within some of the other arcs that also build on an overall narrative idea, but they are scattered and hardly a focal point.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 6

With that it entirely comes down to your viewing preferences and whether you need a driving narrative as to whether this anime will grab your interest.

However, if the basic premise and set up is what you are looking for, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime offers a fairly beautifully presented quality viewing experience. In almost all episodes the visual and animation quality is maintained with none of the mid-season or late season mistakes, glitches, and just rushed efforts that other anime sometimes face. Rimuru is as charmingly depicted in episode 23 as episode 1 (though early in the series there’s a weird CG visual used occasionally for Rimuru that just seems out of place with the rest of the visuals of the series – quite possibly deliberate but I felt it was weird).

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 1

One thing I did find bizarre was that the anime would introduce monster characters who would have quite strikingly non-human appearances and then after Rimuru gave them a name they would ‘evolve’ and have a more human appearance. I mentioned this in one of my episode reviews, but it felt like an utter waste to take such distinct looking characters and morph them into generic fantasy boy/girl with vague monster appendages. It felt like a loss for what could have made this anime visually far more memorable than it ends up being, even if it is a pretty anime that is easy on the eyes.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 16

From a sound point of view everything works. Character voices serve their purpose and Rimuru’s voice acting is perhaps the character’s most charming point. He’s easy to listen to, fairly emotive, and the contrast between his inner and outer tone at times is spot on and nails the humour of a situation. Other characters are either good enough or quite interesting, and the background music and sounds do their job but don’t stand out as overly memorable.

Overall though it is the characters that I find to be the weakest element of this anime. Not because they are not good characters. Individually, each character is perfectly fine and they even play well off one another. The problem is that other than Rimuru, no character really sticks around long enough to have much impact. Even characters who stay in the story, after their introduction and brief moment in the spot-light, get shunted to the background where they occasionally fill screen space or make a comment, but kind of cease to develop as actual characters.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 10 Lizardmen

For me, in the absence of a driving plot, I really needed more from the characters and their personal journeys. I needed something to make me want to invest emotionally in this anime, and tragically the characters just couldn’t fill the void.

Admittedly, the characters are largely quirky and cute but when the vast majority of names are forgotten before the series has even been a week completed, and you genuinely don’t know what even half of them are trying to do or accomplish and you generally have no sense that any of the characters are motivated to do anything beyond serve Rimuru, it really makes it hard to care about what happens to any of them and Rimuru is so over-powered (and if he wasn’t, Milim sure is), that it is hard to visualise harm coming to any of them.

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Again, it comes down to whether or not you care about any kind of tension or emotional stakes in your story or whether you just want to chill. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime would be a very good anime to just chill to.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 19 Gobta

Before I wrap up, I do want to discuss the episode count. At 25 episodes, this anime took six months to air. That’s a long time investment for episodic watching and I will admit, I was weary of it by the end. It didn’t help that the final arc, despite tying in fairly beautifully with Shizue’s arc from the first half of the season, was undeniably one of the weaker stories delivered. However, what makes it worse is the anime actually finishes at episode 23 and then we have two extra episodes. Episode 24 actually is better than anything the second half of Slime gave us and just made me wonder why we hadn’t seen more like that. That probably isn’t what you want your bonus material to do. 24.5 is just padding. Poorly executed recap. A poor excuse of filler to pad out a 25 episode count that was unneeded.

Getting onto recommendations, it isn’t as though this was a bad anime. There are huge numbers of fans, massive amounts of merchandise available, and realistically there’s nothing inherently broken about the story. While it doesn’t suit my viewing preferences, it functionally works and at times even I found it very entertaining and at its worst I just found it kind of empty but watchable. So for some this will be highly entertaining.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 18 fanservice

My honest opinion with this one is that there are better isekai anime out there with better journeys and characters. Then again, I prefer something that has clear direction and characters that grow and learn so perhaps Slime and I were never meant to be. Still, I wouldn’t actually tell you to avoid this one. It can be good fun and is nicely made. Give it a try, by the end of episode 3 you should have a rough idea of whether this works for you, and maybe you’ll find a show to fall in love with.

However, I’d love to know your thoughts on That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (the anime) so please share in the comments below.

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Karandi James
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Friendly Talks With Arthifis – Meiji Tokyo Renka Final Thoughts

Meiji Tokyo Renka post title

Thanks everyone for joining Arthifis and me as we review the final few episodes of Meiji Tokyo Renka. We’ll be covering The Rising of the Shield Hero over on the Anime Shelter with Arthifis so be sure to check that out as well. As usual, I will be red, where Arthifis will be bold and blue. Hope you enjoy.

Hey Arthifis, welcome back. The Winter anime season has been a lot of fun but it’s finally coming to an end. I’m going to be a little sad to see this one disappear from my watch list. What about you?

Hey Karandi! Thanks for having me yet again on your blog! 😀

I’m with you! In the beginning the Anime Winter Season seemed to not have much to offer, but there were many nice gems going on! 😀

When it comes to Meiji Tokyo Renka, completely agree with you! Especially on episode 10, in the end of Ougai’s arc I really felt that I wanted more than 12 episodes! It’s a little bit strange because I didn’t realize, but my feelings for Mei as a character really grew and I got somewhat attached to her!

What did you think about Ougai’s arc completion?

I think with Meiji Tokyo Renka the characters and their stories are really the winning piece of the puzzle. They are all pretty charming, even if a lot of the support cast didn’t get a lot of development. Ougai, who had been a bit of a mystery all the way along, finally got his well deserved focus and as you said, episode 10, it just felt like this story had so much to offer.

That doesn’t make it perfect by any means, given there are plenty of things that could have been improved, but with such a cute cast and the general fun that was found in watching most episodes, overall I just ended up really charmed by this one.

I did find it weird the Shunsou’s arc was completed after Ougai’s. What did you think?

Well, I think Meiji Tokyo Renka ended up in a weaker note than the rest of the overall Anime. For me these 3 last episodes were the weakest and that many things were basically rushed to make it end by episode 12.

For example, there are things in Ougai’s arc that are not very well explained. I mean, I understand that Elise “spirit” is probably Ougai’s mental state. However, being this an Anime where spirits lurk around, it just makes it confusing.

Then Shunsou’s arc… That episode is probably the worst of the Anime, in my opinion. Not only things were not quite well explained as the overall episode execution had way less quality than the rest of the Anime. It had even more static frames for example.

And then, plot wise, it ended up not being really explained. First, Shunsou’s eyes problem… It was never there until that episode which is a little bit strange. Then, the black cat appearing from nowhere was just… Meh… I mean they have been looking for him since episode 1 almost and then the cat just appears randomly…

Last, but not the least, Shunsou’s eyes seem to just magically heal on the last episode. What do you think?

Shunsou’s eyes bothered me. It was like we knew he couldn’t paint because the black cat went missing but to find out there was a medical problem that no one had felt the need to raise in ten episodes, to the point where he couldn’t see something right in front of him, just seemed really fake and like they just suddenly had to come up with a problem.

That said, and while the sensible me knows very well the plot of that episode is complete rubbish, the girl in me really loved the episode.

Mei chasing after Shunsou and helping him gather up his paintings again. Her reassuring him and helping him to metaphorically see, and as he comes to terms with the fact that he needs to get the surgery done the black cat returns to him.

I thought it was absolutely adorable even while the logical side of my brain tried to escape. Then again, you also mention the number of static images in the episode, which I also really liked because they were really pretty and easy to grab as screen caps, but in terms of animation quality, that’s pretty dreadful.

Let’s be honest though, Meiji Tokyo Renka has always been average at best when it comes to animation so falling a little down at the end of the season was probably to be expected.

Still, Shunsou’s episode aside, we then have the final episode which just felt really rushed considering it seemed like a complete turn around from where we were just three episodes ago.

Yeah that was what I going to comment next. Mei just had said that she would stay in the Meiji Era forever… And then, last minute, she decides to go back.

I have a few problems with this. First, how did Ougai knew, from the bat the she was going away, when she just had said to him that she loves him and wants to stay with him for the rest of her life.

Second, why did she go? That’s the main question, right? Because, not even once she really gives the vibe that she wants to come back. Of course, that’s part of her missing memory. However, she actually just met the man of her life… If I was in her shoes I would just stay there lol

The why did she go question really bothered me as well. I mean, Ougai is really great for her. Perfect in point of fact. And yet, she gets her memory back and just decides to go back home.

I kind of put this down to it being a Voyage and Return story in the end. Like Alice in Wonderland, it doesn’t matter how much fun she has, once she learns her lesson she is right back to reality. Of course, that doesn’t make it any less a terrible way for this show to end because seeing Mei back in the present didn’t bring me any joy at all.

Yeah, it basically became an “accepting yourself” kind of story like I mentioned in one of our first conversations. It just went with the route that I was expecting from the start, which is a bummer.

Nevertheless, being Meiji Tokyo Renka originally a game, I’m pretty sure they just went with one of the routes – the Ougai romance. I’m not sure though if in the game there is the option for you to decide to stay or to go… But, even if there isn’t, I would prefer 1000 times that she just stayed with Ougai. It makes more sense to the story, and I would end the Anime a happier person xD

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I know, right. Like Ougai and Mei actually become officially engaged and then we end with a wedding scene. It is so cliche and silly and yet it would fit perfectly with the tone and atmosphere of this anime and just leave you smiling. Of course, it would kill any other ships viewers had for Mei, but the way the story is presented there really aren’t a lot of viable options. Sure there were plenty of guys introduced but only Ougai got enough attention to be taken seriously.

Or do you ship Mei with one of the others?

Nope… I mean I actually found rather cute how Izumi, who doesn’t touch anything because of his fear of germs, to grab Mei’s hands and dance with her nonetheless. However, it’s without a doubt Ougai who I ship the most.

Talking about the dance… Don’t you think that the way she said goodbye to everyone was a little bit… Too damn fast? Especially Shunzou… I mean, they ended up being close and she doesn’t even say the word goodbye lol

I actually kind of thought it made sense she didn’t say goodbye to him. They had become very close and at times they kind of seemed like brother and sister. So for me it was like she couldn’t bring herself to actually say goodbye. Though, that brings us back to wondering why she left at all.

What did you end up thinking about Charlie after all of that?

Well, you already know that Charlie, for me (not as Mei’s ship or something like that), is basically the most handsome of them all. So, it was great to see that he was in fact coming from a good place and that he was a spirit that was always there to protect her. A spirit, that was strong enough to have a real body and make time travel, twice.

However, I don’t think that Charlie really had to “die”. Although I understand why they decided to do that. He had done his main objective and goal, he was able to develop Mei to someone who is going to be able to be happy… But, yeah… Can’t lie and say that I didn’t become a little sad when I saw him disappear. What about you? You were the one saying last time that you thought he had a hidden agenda somewhere 😀

Yeah, that didn’t really pan out. However, I didn’t mind this with Charlie having manipulated the situation to help Mei learn something and then giving her the choice of staying or going back. Not quite as good as if he was some mastermind villain… There really is no bad guy in this story. Actually, in a lot of the anime I’ve watched this season there is no real villain. It is making my list of possible best villains of the year really short so far and a few that I’ve written down are kind of lame.

Hahaha now that you talk about it, you are right… This season has been way more about the voyage than actually heroes and villains… Besides Shield Hero and Neverland there is not actually “villains”… The only one I can remember now is Asuka Special Corps.

However, it’s nice to see that, even without synergy, many Anime shows were able to be interesting and enjoyable to watch. Meiji Tokyo Renka is one of them and I give an overall 4 stars out of 5.

Something that I did yesterday, was to look up who the characters are in real life. I just looked up Ougai and Shunzou and, well, it’s really nice to see how they picked real important people and took into account some details. For example the black cat painting is one of the most popular paintings from the real guy 😛

I think this is one like Bungou Stray Dogs where now that it is done, I’ll probably find some time at some point to look up the characters. As for an overall rating, I don’t tend to use any kind of scale, but I had a lot of fun with this anime this season and it was certainly one of the more consistently entertaining even if the overall quality was a little average in some aspects.

I had a lot of fun discussing it with you during the season as well.

Any final thoughts before we wrap this up and go discuss Shield Hero?

Well, not really. Just wanted to say that I’m really thankful for you to have picked this one for us to follow this season. It was a lot of fun and I probably wouldn’t give so much thought if not for this collab 🙂

Yes, I didn’t expect this to be anywhere near as enjoyable as it ended up being, and our talks were really fun. Hopefully we do this again and find an equally fun show to follow. Alright, over to the Shelter.

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Karandi James
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