Blue Exorcist Season 2 Series Review

Overview:

A continuation of Blue Exorcist (reviewed here), the story picks up with pretty much everyone being scared of Rin and Yukio still stressing about everything. Someone stole the eye of the Impure King so now we’re all going to Kyoto because clearly a world threat should be handled by students and a small branch group. I reviewed this week to week so if you are interested in my episodic thoughts click here.

Review:

It’s shows like this that make me hesitate when someone asks me if I’m excited about an upcoming sequel. Sure, the original may have been fun (in the case of Blue Exorcist I liked the first season well enough though I wasn’t a die-hard fan), but do we really need that continuation? And more importantly, is the continuation doing anything other than giving us more of the same?

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In the case of Blue Exorcist a continuation was actually kind of needed. Rin’s grand goal of defeating Satan was nowhere near being in sight at the end of season 1. However, season 2 barely even acknowledges that such a goal ever existed. If season 2 had progressed towards this and Rin had substantially grown and we could see some sort of end point that maybe eventually he’d have a chance at succeeding at his lofty and impossible goal, then maybe this could have worked.

Instead we get a side story about the Impure King which essentially means after a brief and pathetic struggle our cast shift locations to Kyoto where we meet Suguro’s family and a whole bunch of new characters, sit around and talk for most the season, and finally get an overly extended fight sequence against a villain who has literally no agency in the story other than to be the villain. It’s an entirely filler filled story that could have been told in about an hour for all the content it actually delivers.

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And still they could have pulled this off. The strength of Blue Exorcist wasn’t in its amazing plot (it had a great premise but didn’t do a lot with that anyway) or even the amazing characters (given they are all pretty much one or two note sound bits). The strength of season 1 was its crazy energy and the simple fact that it would embrace the absurd. It was fun. Logic could fail within the story but it was just fun to watch.

Season 2 failed to understand the concept of fun and absurd. And while a more serious tone for a show that probably needed it given the subject matter also could have worked, you need to give us something to replace the fun times of season 1. Characters sitting around talking and having group meetings, or watching a character repeatedly train and fail, or watching a character mope and wallow in self doubt, or hearing yet another speech about friendship… none of these things replace fun.

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It isn’t even that season 2 is not as good as season 1. As a story it has so many issues.

Firstly, Todo, who was kind of the catalyst for the story starting with his theft remains a complete enigma at the end. He didn’t die in that fight, we know that, and yet where is he at the end? Why did he stir things into motion? What’s his fascination with Yukio? Is he coming back? We don’t know anything, and while loose ends are fine in their own way, not knowing his motivation for stealing the eye and any of the events that follow make most of what happens pretty pointless to watch.

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Secondly, while we’re on the subject of villains, the Impure King himself is basically a giant mushroom growing out of control. There’s no personality, no presence, and given how late in the game he actually shows up, he really is just a plot device. The grand fear that he might be unleashed hovering over the series and then the final boss that no one cares about. Yes, he needs to be defeated, but there’s no satisfaction in seeing him defeated because I didn’t actually care about him as a villain.

Thirdly, the minor inconsistencies in the story itself. You know the coats the kids wore to rescue Rin that made them invisible, that they wear for the rest of the battle and yet people interact with them just fine. So they only make you invisible when you want to be? Really? This whole thing really annoyed me during those final episodes. They are having a conversation but isn’t that person invisible? It just kept distracting me from the incredibly repetitive dialogue. This wasn’t the only inconsistency the story served up but it was the most distracting.

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Fourthly, Rin. Arguably the only point to this whole arc is watching him finally gain control of his flames so that maybe people will trust him (and you know he won’t get executed). However he just doesn’t care. He’s so happy-go-lucky that the threat of execution is kind of just dropped into the story by Yukio as a major downer every now and then and then we just kind of push that aside and get back to Rin being Rin. Even his final drawing of the sword and defeating the Impure King (flames finally controlled because of friendship) is kind of half-hearted. So yes, Rin grew over these 12 episodes, but not significantly enough to justify the rest of the viewing time.

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Finally, Yukio. Yukio, please go get some professional help for your issues and stop taking them out on your brother. preferably before you end up turning into a demon. Yukio is quite possibly my least favourite character in this show and this season just kind of emphasised why. Its odd, because normally I like the character who thinks about things as opposed to the characters who rush in, but Yukio is so boring and so contradictory that I just want to slap him most episodes. In his defense, he did get a few good moments in the fight against Todo but that hardly makes up for everything else.

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People who really enjoyed season 1 of this and really like the characters, may find enough here to enjoy. For everyone else, I just don’t see it as being worth the time it takes to watch. It is watchable, but there’s just not much point in it. So while I did have some fun with this, mostly I just kind of watched it. And as the season progressed and it became increasingly clear they were stretching out a very small amount of material, I became increasingly more critical of this. There are some good moments but overall I’m probably never watching this again.


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Haikyuu Episodes 32 + 33

Review Episode 32:

To continue with the egg anology from earlier, I think the team has turned into scrambled eggs rather than an omelet. There’s a lot of focus on their evolution but they’ve yet to actually get it together as a team.

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Though, this episode also sees Tsukishima get a lot of focus, mostly because he’s about the only one on the team not expending large amounts of energy running around and trying to collapse from exhaustion. I get from a team point of view Tsukishima’s attitude might be frustrating but to be honest he seems like the only sensible person on the team. He plays, he trains, he rests. Just because he isn’t killing himself doesn’t seem like reason enough to get annoyed at him (though then you have to compare him to the rest of the team dynamic).

Review Episode 33:

The focus on Tsukishima continues as we get angsty backstory. I don’t know why every character with an attitude problem has some terrible childhood realisation or disappointment (some people just have bad personalities, but apparently that isn’t possible in anime).

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Anyway, props to Yamaguchi this episode for finally just confronting Tsukishima rather than letting the problem for the team linger. They still aren’t winning anything but they are getting closer.


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Granblue Fantasy Episode 4

Review:

Stories like this always make me ask the same question; how does the empire even function? When every representative you meet of said empire is conspiring against every other, cruel and stupid, malicious, or crazy, it really makes you wonder why the entire empire hasn’t just imploded. They haven’t given us any reason for the empire to be evil, they just are because… plot?

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Other than that, this episode again raised the question of how far away can Gran get from Lyria given he goes down to the dock while she stays in the building. Not that they are separated for long but they’ve given us no real guidelines on how separated they can be at this point.

Also, the agents from the previous episode show up for a flashy but mostly pointless battle.

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This show works on the surface and I guess if you just kind of tune out and watch passively it is all well and good, but so far that’s all it is managing to deliver. Without actual motive from the antagonists or overall goal from the protagonists (other than not get caught by the antagonists) it is really all just reactionary and not very compelling.

Granblue Fantasy is available on Crunchyroll.


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 4

Reivew:

With the beast titan having climbed the wall last episode I kind of thought that having sent the titans after the group in the tower he was done. Oh no. He’s hanging around to cause more problems and it is just the kind of cruelty you expect from Attack on Titan.

However, rather than just get into the fight we’re skipping back two hours (what is with this season and time skips?). Connie is still obsessing about his village and it seems like he is trying to convince himself everyone survived but the common sense part of his brain keeps rejecting that notion.

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Ymir is far more vocal this episode than I ever think we’ve seen her and it is to her detriment as she let’s something that seems like it should be important slip (however the show is not lingering on this point as there are titans to fight).

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Anyway, the fight actually starts out pretty well. Given how the soldiers have done previously against titans I wasn’t convinced it was going to be a long fight, but the scouts are actually pretty good. You know, until the beast titan launches boulders at the tower, they run out of blades and then gas. It all kind of goes downhill from there. Leading to the final scene and the big reveal of the episode, which most of us saw coming about midway through the episode but was still pretty cool.

This episode was excellent. It hit all the points I loved about the first episode of Attack on Titan ever. The feeling of being desperate and trapped, actual fear of the titans, the inevitable deaths, the few shock moments of survival, some reasonable action in amongst frantic action and waiting. It just kind of kept you on edge and waiting and was satisfying in what it delivered. More like this, please.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Killing Stalking Chapter 14

Before I get into reviewing this I want to make it clear that none of the content being reviewed in this post is suitable for children and even for adults is probably going to be confronting. Anyone who has been following the copious posts about Killing Stalking on Twitter probably already know that, but just giving everyone else fair warning.

Review:

Depsite this being a long chapter, very little actually happens. Sangwoo goes to Yoon Bum’s former address and grabs some of the stuff, pays off the land lord and returns bringing Yoon Bum (who is back to being chained up but no longer in the basement) crutches. Then Sangwoo says something strange about them going out. So… Is Yoon Bum still imprisoned, as the chain suggests, or not?

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And really, that’s all I got out of this chapter. No thrills, no games, no emotional up and downs. Nothing. I get that not every chapter is going to be a gem but I’m just not sure what exactly we were supposed to get out of this. If they wanted to show us Yoon Bum’s pathetic life before Sangwoo, we already had a firm picture. Maybe there’s something significant in some of the objects Sangwoo collected but there’s nothing in this chapter to let us know that.

Part of me had been wondering how long before this story lost steam. I mean, how long can you keep someone imprisoned and find ways to make that entertaining to the audience without just going too far? Maybe it was jut me but this chapter felt like it was just stretching content.

Oh well, I’ll see what the next chapter brings.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Harem Leads

It’s a truth universally acknoweldged that the lead character in most harems is an empty shell designed only for self-insert purposes. And yet every now and then we’ll come across a lead character in one of these shows that actually has something resembling a personality. As always, this list is entirely my own opinion and I’d love to know what you would have included on your list so please comment below and get the conversation going.

Please Note – There will be spoilers below.

No honourable mentions this week (probably because I don’t watch enough harem anime and the vast majority of characters I could think of had no personality).

Number 5: Hayate from Hayate the Combat Butler

Now Hayate’s main personality trait is that he’s bascially a nice person, however he shows enough moments of actual self-interest and responds reasonably human like to the antics of the girls around him which is why he gained a spot on the list. Also, it is hard to see him as a strictly self-insert character when he has a serious need to clean.

Number 4: Kodaka from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukinai

The guy with the two toned hair and a seriously bad reputation (totally undeserved of course) seldom comes over as personalityless. He does come across as easily lead and fairly apathetic about most things but he has enough moments of actual human interaction that you can see there’s an actual character in this lead. My favourite moment was when he told Sena off at the pool. He did do the cliche male lead thing and saved her from the punks but then he called her on her rubbish. Go Kodaka. Unfortunately that just got him yet another admirer.

Number 3: Ayumu from Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka

Alright, Ayumu is a zombie and can also transform into a magical girl who shares his house with a necromancer, an ex-magical girl, and a vampire ninja. That in and of itself makes him kind of interesting. Aymum is on the list because unlike so many other protagonists, he has a goal. He wants to find the person who killed him. Admittedly, this gets lost at times amongst the usual harem/comedy antics but he is at least working toward something and not just kind of existing for the sake of the girls fawning over him.

Number 2: Tigrevurmud (Tigre) Vorn from Lord Marksman and Vanadis

Tigre gets a place here because unlike so many other male harem leads, he actually knows how to take advantage of the situation (not that way). Even after being taken prisoner, due his skill with the bow he wins his captor’s approval and then convinces her through some plot contrivance to lend him her army for a little bit. There is a fair exchange for that service however with Tigre essentially surrenduring his territory to her but given the options he’s got its a fairly solid move. That’s probably why I like him as a character. His choices are always restricted by the circumstances he finds himself in and yet he finds logical ways to approach each conflict and in the process he wins quite a few admirers.

Number 1: Haruhi from Ouran High School Host Club

Yeah, I get its a she and this is technically a reverse harem, but to be honest Haruhi is probably my favourite character from any harem style anime ever so I had to give her the top spot. What I like about Haruhi is she’s just so straight forward about her approach to everything. No horrible moments of paralysed indecision or being dragged along without complaint. That isn’t to say she has no weaknesses (typical female fear of thunder coming through as well as just generally being naive at times) but she’s a great deal of fun to watch.

Okay, so over to you. Which harem lead would you have on your list.


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My Hero Academia Episode 17

Review:

I’ve thought this before, but class A is full of morons isn’t it? They might be really powerful but they just like to bulldoze their way through challenges rather than thinking it through. While the spokesman for class B at the end of the episode may have had a fairly repellant personality, his reasoning is sound and I kind of respect him for it. I’d respect him more if he’d just taken the headband and run away rather than sitting and gloating and stirring up someone who really isn’t going to take it well.

The construction of the teams was kind of entertaining and I loved the different views people had about why they would or wouldn’t team up with someone.

Of course, as fun as all the team making and running around was, this episode really feels like it is just waiting for something to happen and it doesn’t. Maybe it will come next episode but it really did feel like we were going through the motions. Would it have mattered if we hadn’t seen how the teams were negotiated and we just saw the battle mid-way through? Somehow I don’t think it would so we could probably just skip right over this episode for all the plot it develops.

My Hero Academia is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 4

Review:

After the introductory episode where it was made clear that something was going to happen in this story, it has taken 3 full episodes for that something to actually happen, and even then it is more an introduction to it rather than it happening. The game ends but the last night goes horribly wrong with some weird monster showing up in game and stripping players of their equipment, except Suigin of course because he was held up at his part time job and arrived late. Given the comment that their stuff will carry over into the next game, I’m guessing it is going to be significant that he didn’t lose it particularly the magical flower thing they finally found.

However, the real drama of the episode, that nearly gets buried under all that teen angst, is that Rei’s father get’s shot.

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I don’t know about you, but I think pretending to be a thief would be a terrible alibi considering you are still a criminal.

Something is up with the new game, which we already kind of knew, and in case we didn’t realise the flower was special because of its super shiny appearance, Rei’s dad has a picture of it on the screen he is monitoring before he gets shot.

A far more interesting episode than the last two because it finally feels like the story is taking itself a little more seriously and moving somewhere.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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KADO Episode 3

Review:

They’ve emerged from the cube and finally negotiations are getting underway, but my question is what are they actually negotiating? Given zaShunina has already said the passengers will be released and he seems to be wanting to give information rather than receive it, stating that it is a negotiation seems a bit off. Then again, I’m kind of certain there’s more to it than altruistic higher order being giving humans advanced knowledge so maybe things will become clearer later.

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I’m thinking this show is only going to have a very limited appeal to anime fans in general. It is incredibly dry with most of this episode being focussed on the set-up of negotiations, the press moving into position through security, or the negotiation itself. While the music is amazing and I’m finding the animation really pretty (some people disagree on that one), the slow pace of the dialogue heavy story is probably going to cause some people to walk away despite the fairly interesting nature of the discussion. Okay, the ideas are highly interesting, the delivery might be a little less so depending on your preferences. Despite that, I’m pretty hooked on this show right now.

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KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


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Sword Oratoria Episode 2

Review:

While I had my reservations during episode 1, episode 2 of Sword Oratoria confirmed 3 things:

  1. Ais is an incredibly boring protagonist and even with every other character falling over themselves to talk about her or to her, it doesn’t make her any more interesting.
  2. While DanMachi was a fun adventure story with its occasionally over the top fan service/comedy moments interrupting the flow, Sword Oratoria seems to be a fan service driven comedy with occasional moments of adventure.
  3. Bell’s cameos are still the most interesting thing about this spin off.
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Pure genius.

All and all, that’s kind of depressing because I was kind of excited to see this show come out on AnimeLab even though it wasn’t the sequel I wanted but a spin-off I didn’t ask for. I still wanted to give it a go and enjoy it. But between breast groping, bathroom scenes, and a shopping trip that includes all the usual fetish outfits this episode gives us nothing to hold onto in terms of hope that this show might manage to be a fun adventure.

Sword Oratoria is available on AnimeLab.


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