Vote For The Best Anime of The Spring 2019 Season

Sorry, no feature this week, but instead we’re opening the poll for the best of the Spring Anime season. While there’s been a lot of talk about this being a slow or weak season, it seems most people have found a handful of anime that have really delighted them so it will be interesting to see what has lasted the distance and what you believe is the anime of the season.

Naturally that means it is time for you to vote.

It is a nice simple process. Just pick your three favourite shows from the season and vote below. And then, share the post so more people can have their say. The vote is open until the 29th of June with the results to be announced soon after.

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Remember the top three anime from this vote will go into the final poll for anime of the year. Though given they’ll be going up against the winner’s of the Winter Poll, that may be a steep hill to climb.

I am having difficulty embedding the poll at the moment so while it might work below, please try the direct link to vote and hopefully I can fix it soon.

Thanks for voting. Remember to share the poll and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the results.

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Karandi James
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Kono Oto Tomare Review Episode 8

The Distance Yet To Travel

Kono Oto Tomare! Episode 9

There’s a lot that Kono Oto Tomare doesn’t get right in terms of adding tension or antagonists to their otherwise slice of life, high school club story, but one thing it consistently lands are those poignant emotional moments between the members of the club themselves. With the episode this week focusing almost exclusively on the inner workings of the club and Takezou trying to overcome his lack of confidence as the club president, we had a nice show case of the best Kono Oto Tomare has to offer.

Throw in the musical performance by the other school and it was a pretty good episode. Even if every character from the other schools that spoke seems to exist just to becoming another stumbling block later on in the story and they are still handling antagonist’s roles with all the deft handling of a duck trying to spread butter on a slice of bread.

Likewise, Takezou’s family is another red-mark against the series. Prior to now they’ve been little more than background but this week the father gives Takezou a pep-talk after learning he’s the club president and his mother congratulates him on telling his brother off. Saying how happy she is when Takezou normally says nothing. If the parents are aware one child belittles another continuously and have done nothing to rectify the problem while said child gets emotionally ground into the dirt continuously, it doesn’t exactly make me feel warm and fuzzy to see them congratulating the child who has finally had enough.

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Despite my annoyance at the family situation, I was still nearly reduced to tears when Chika and Takezou finally had a conversation and ‘made up’, even though they weren’t fighting. I managed to hold them in, but it was a close call. And seeing the club members making a new sign for the room and passing the pen, while it is clearly trite and contrived, hit just the right emotional high note that this episode needed to cap it off.

At the end of the day, I parts that work in this anime stand out a lot clearer than the parts that don’t, and it continues to be relatively fun to watch even if I feel like I’m not going to remember much about it at all after it finishes airing.

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Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Review Episode 10

Instant Protagonist Recovery

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 10 - Tanjiro
This is Demon Slayer’s version of victory.

Demon Slayer Episode 10

I just have to wonder how fast a broken leg and ribs can heal given Tanjiro goes from crawling on the ground unable to even grip his sword from exhaustion to walking down stairs and talking normally within the space of one demon dying. It really was the one thing that threw me right out of full immersion this episode but it left me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth given the rest of the episode worked well enough at ending the fight.

Tanjiro was crawling on the ground just a minute ago and now, fine.

Again, we do have the extended flashback of the end of the last episode to start this episode. I’m just accepting that this anime is going to keep doing that and move on at this point. It is wasted screen time and will be worse when trying to binge watch given you will have literally just finished the last episode and be stuck rewatching, but whatever.

After that we swiftly move into the arrow demon having his last revenge against Tanjiro even as his body is disintegrating and it essentially becomes a battle of attrition. The question is whether or not Tanjiro can hold out and keep using his moves long enough or whether he will become exhausted and the demon’s attacks will smash him to pieces before the demon is gone.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba - Demon head

It is one of those overly long and flashy fight sequences you get in shounen where you already know the outcome but the animation looks interesting enough and they are showing off lots of the sword forms so we’ll just kind of go with it.

The second demon, engages in a ball fight with Nezuko which also seems fairly pointless but is again fun enough to watch, before Tamayo casts one of her spells. Now the spell itself is pretty tame but it does loosen the demon’s lips enough that she actually says Kibutsuji’s name, at which point she freaks out and Tamayo points out that it is going to activate a curse. The more we learn about Kibutsuji the nastier he seems.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba - Nezuko pats Yushiro

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This sequence does teach us a few things though. Firstly, the two demons weren’t part of the 12 whatevers, so the question becomes whether they were lying or whether they were deceived. We also learn that Kibutsuji has taken some fairly solid measures to protect himself against the demons he creates, which only makes sense really.

They almost made me feel sorry for the demon here.

This episode works well enough but essentially it is just wrapping up this encounter before sending Tanjiro on his way to the next one and I guess we’ll find out more about the cowardly demon slayer next week given Tanjiro is about to run into him.

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Grimm’s Notes The Animation Series Review

The quality of the story here is certainly grim.

Grimms Notes Series Review

In case it hasn’t become clear as I work my way through the anime I watched during the 2019 Winter Season, I’m jumping back and forth between anime I enjoyed a lot and anime that kind of had a bumpier ride. Last week was the slice of life delight My Roommate is a Cat so unfortunately this week we’re crashing down to the unintentional disaster of a narrative that is Grimm’s Notes. Admittedly, I am running low on anime I actually enjoyed last season, but I do still have reviews of The Promised Neverland and Endro to come out so there’s a few delights still in store.

Loki - Grimms Notes Episode 12

What should be obvious by now is that I don’t really want to write about Grimm’s Notes and yet I feel I kind of need to. I did in fact watch the entire season and while we had an intriguing premise and an entire minefield of potentially interesting questions to ponder about morality and the human condition and free will, the anime literally does nothing with any of that. Instead it becomes an exercise where the protagonist’s are right because they have to be and they don’t even try to convince the villains, let alone the audience, that they have any grounds for that conviction.

Grimms Notes Episode 1

Basically the story involves a whole bunch of story zones where every one living in them has a book that essentially tells them what is going to happen in their life and that is the script they follow. Our main characters are all characters who, for whatever reason, have blank books. They travel from story zone to story zone and stop chaos tellers from messing up the stories.

Grimms Notes Episode 10 Curly

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However, where that becomes problematic is that they set Red Riding Hood back on a path to be devoured by a wolf, set Snow White and her step-mother up to repeat a tragedy, and basically override any one’s objections that maybe the story shouldn’t be followed.

These are the characters we are supposed to support.

Grimms Notes Episode 9 Loki

I wouldn’t mind so much if they ever explained the consequences of not getting the story back on track. We get an ambiguous statement about story zones collapsing but are never told what that looks like or what happens to the characters in the story. Do they all die? In which case, sure, maybe keeping the story on track is a good idea. But it isn’t established, nor does anyone actually ask.

Alice - Grimms Notes Episode 11

Even the villains don’t bother to make their case for why giving characters free will might be a good thing. For once the villain’s actions are actually something that seems kind of logical even if there are dire repercussions, and they never even try to justify themselves.

Instead we get the heroes saying they’ll set the story right and the villains who stay in the shadows and make ambiguous comments but do little.

So the plot is a bust, and the characters are worse. Visually this is fine. Not good or great or particularly interesting, but I’ve certainly seen worse and some of the fights are actually kind of fun to watch even if the motive behind them is lacking. The music is unexceptional and honestly completely forgotten almost as soon as the episodes end.

Grimms Notes Episode 3 Young Ex

Honestly, this was such a great concept and handled so incredibly poorly. The biggest issue is the crushing disappointment of realising that the writers clearly had no clue what to do with their own idea when it came to the anime. I have no idea if the source (which I think is a game) did a better job or not, but I do know this anime is incredibly skippable.

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Kenja no Mago Review Episode 9

Happy Times

Shin and Sicily - Kenja no Mago Episode 9

Kenja no Mago Episode 9

I genuinely don’t expect much from Wise Man’s Grandchild which is good because what we get has been pretty average even for those who like generic isekai fare. That said, episode 9 of Kenja no Mago needs a pat on the back for jumping straight past the blushing dating and confession episode and into an engagement. While I might in the back of my mind see this as setting up a sudden and tragic death for Sicily, the overall tone of the anime doesn’t support that so mostly this is just pleasantly forthright about their relationship.

However, we have plenty of training camp shenanigans still to go with this episode. Whether it is Shin learning float, or anti-gravity magic, the rest of his classmates getting suited up in even more over-powered protective gear, or taking on a catastrophe class demonoid, there’s a lot going on.

One thing I do need to point out is that visually this anime is getting sloppier by the episode. While the magic still looks great and individual expressions on characters or the characters in close up look relatively good, the rest of the anime, particularly group shots and distance shots, look at absolute best like they were hastily completed and more like they were deliberately cutting corners as facial features disappear entirely and heights between characters just suddenly alter. While some of this is played for comedic effect, some of it really just seems badly done.

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Then again, Kenja no Mago doesn’t seem to be trying to compete on visuals and it isn’t really trying to be more than an average isekai story. It remains fun enough each week, the main cast are engaging enough, and while I still think they are potentially setting up the death of a character as a trigger for Shin to go berserk (that would be an interesting change in tone) mostly this is pleasant and undemanding viewing.

At some point though I am going to have to write a post about how this anime has framed the majority of its female cast because to be honest there’s an entire post in that.

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Attack on Titan Review Season 3 Part B Episode 7

So What’s In The Basement?

Attack on Titan - the basement key.

Attack on Titan 3B Episode 7

After so many big moments in the last couple of episodes, Attack on Titan made some smart calls at the start of this episode. Seeing the relief tinged with guilt Eren felt as Armin woke and Eren hugged him was perfect. Seeing Levi, the one who made the final decision, still seeming to be at war with his own emotions clearly conveyed just how big a deal the previous moment was. And then Armin. His horror at what had happened, his disbelief that he was chose and not Erwin, and then his near panicked response as he realised just what weight was getting dropped onto his shoulders.

All of this conveyed through a single scene that brought together the threads from last week when the characters were nearly at each other’s throats over the decision. Hange in particular asked the pertinent question of Eren and Mikasa. Whether they think they can do what they like provided they take the punishment?

Then we move from this quiet moment on the walls to the equally quiet and eerie walk through the town. I loved the juxtaposition between the young Eren and Mikasa running through the streets with the still and somewhat shocked older pair that walked almost mechanically toward the site of Eren’s house. The moment lingered uncomfortably long as we saw scenes of the people who used to live there before they faded away again leaving only broken buildings and the plants that were over-taking the town.

However, we then get to the moment we’ve been waiting a very long time to see. The basement itself.

I wasn’t actually surprised when the key didn’t work in the door. It seemed like the typical thing Attack on Titan would pull. So many characters dying to get this boy and this key to this door and it didn’t even work? Seemed like exactly the kind of thing this story would do.

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Levi’s response was suitably measured given the situation and then we began the search through the basement in earnest. There’s really no words for how it felt waiting for them to find something. Knowing that even if it wasn’t going to be what the characters wanted, there had to be something in that basement or the story was literally going to fall over. Waiting then and knowing that the episode was going to conclude before we had more than a small taste was kind of torture.

Attack on Titan Season 3 - Opening the book

I will point out that while I’m not a big fan of the ED this season, at the end of this episode I absolutely appreciated the journey for these characters shown throughout the closing credits. This season really is building on every step of that journey and it seemed perfectly fitting this week. Not to mention, you kind of have to hang around for the after credits sequence this week.

And now we wait for the next episode again.

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Natsume’s Book of Friends Volume 15 Review

Striving Toward Impossible Goals

With most of my reviews of the various volumes of Natsume’s Book of Friends I’ve tried to find a common theme that links the stories or ideas. Unfortunately I came up short in volume 15. Not because the volume isn’t great, but because each story has its own distinct tone. That said, I had a great deal of fun reading this volume and not just because the first three chapters deal with Natori.

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Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 15
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Chapters 60 – 62

I remember how great this story was in the anime. It was the ‘oh no’ moment where Natori overheard the yokai talking to Natsume and finally learned a little bit about what Natsume was keeping from him. With Natori’s ambiguous character where we are never really sure if he’s a good guy or not, this has great emotional impact and leaves you on egg-shells waiting to find out what comes from this situation.

However, that’s the end of the story. This one mostly focuses on Natsume helping Natori out with a job. A retire exorcist’s home is being attacked and it turns out that two of the servants have been trapped outside the house and have become enraged believing their master shut them out. It is another reminder that human and yokai relationships won’t last forever but for now Natsume is just trying to help the best he can.

There’s some great moments between Natsume and Natori, some darker moments where Natsume looks be to in danger, and as usual a calm that comes at the end. It is a nicely written story and I loved how they spread it over three chapters giving it the time it needed to develop so that the ending really hit home.

Visually, these chapters seem a little less impressive than previous ones. Even Natori doesn’t bring his usual sparkle to the scenes. However, the story more than makes up for it and so it was great to read.

Chapter 63

We move on to a stand alone story about a small yokai who wants to join a parade but isn’t strong enough. This one is interesting in that it is the yokai who learns from the experience rather than Natsume, though it seems like at first the yokai might betray Natsume and hand him over as a tribute even though Natsume has been helping him. Nyanko-Sensei does nothing as he expects Natsume to learn from the experience, but instead the yokai has a change of heart.

Given we’re so often told that yokai don’t change this was a really cute story and an interesting one as we see immediately how Natsume’s interactions with the yokai have changed him. It would have been nice for Natsume to take something from this encounter as well, but there was enough going on here.

Special Episode: Touko and Shigeru

Now despite this being an ‘extra’ this story was my favourite of the lot in this volume. I also loved this story when we saw it in the anime. The Fujiwara’s took Natsume in but we so seldom get a full story focused on them. The rare ones we do see are always mine-fields of rich emotions and just full of love and healing energy and to be honest when I read this I really needed it at the time.

It doesn’t hurt that this is one of the prettiest stories in the volume with the passing of time depicted beautifully through various scenes looking at the sky. Touko and Natsume’s relationship is slightly redefined by the end of the chapter and it just makes you realise once again how much love and warmth the Fujiwara’s have enveloped Natsume in.

Absolutely lovely read and I fully recommend reading this volume.

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Natsume's Book of Friends, Vol. 15
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Karandi James
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