Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Light Novel Volume 3 Review

As my collection of light novels grows, so does my appreciation for them. For the most part these are quick and bite sized reads that pack a reasonable punch and DanMachi is a series that is definitely sitting well for me.

Review (some spoilers):

  • Volume 1 thoughts here.
  • Volume 2 thoughts here.

Wow. Just wow.

One of my favourite fights in anime history in novel form and it was amazing. I worried as I realised we were approaching the minotaur fight that reading the sequence couldn’t possibly be as interesting as watching it. Generally speaking, reading battle sequences doesn’t interest me all that much. And yet, I was so wrong. This third volume delivers in a way that made me wonder why the anime fight sequence wasn’t even better.

However, I’m kind of skipping ahead in this so let’s take this a bit more logically.

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This third volume begins with Bell looking out for Lilly as the fallout of volume 2 is kind of dealt with. Lilly isn’t leaving the Soma family but she can’t really go back there either and Hestia isn’t really thrilled with having Lilly around but grudgingly understands her necessity to Bell. This is more or less just closing volume 2 properly and the story doesn’t really get going (unless you really like the usual trope of two girls fighting over the oblivious hero) until Aiz offers to train Bell to fight.

This sequence plays out much the same way as the anime with a few key differences. The physical toll these training sessions take on Bell are far more pronounced in the light novel and we see far more of his internal conflict, both with training, fighting, and dealing with being that close to Aiz than we ever did in the anime. This is really great as it makes the lessons he learns during these brief sessions far more real. Aiz also kind of comes off as an actual character during some of these sessions though she still remains the least interesting cast member here.

During all of this though, we get cuts to Freya and her familia as they set the wheels in motion for a fairly nasty surprise for Bell. As antagonists go, Freya’s kind of run of the mill. She clearly has designs on Bell but she hasn’t actually directly approached him. Not even once. Instead she’s doing that really silly thing that villains do when they sit back and look haughtily down on the scene and play games with their prey. This can kind of be excused by giving her the bored goddess label, but it still doesn’t make for an overly compelling antagonist. That said, as a plot device to kick things in Bell’s life into gear and make things interesting, it works very well. So while I sometimes forget who the responsible party is, I really enjoy the results of some of these set ups.

And the minotaur battle is everything you could ask for.

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I’m not going to lie. This fight takes up nearly a quarter of the book (50+ pages of a 200 page novel). And it is worth every page. At no point does the conflict get dull or repetitive. I was reading this in bed and that was a terrible idea because I wasn’t putting this book down until the fight was over. And then the next morning I read it again.

There’s a real sense of movement, of panic, of tension, and of a success that is awaiting its chance. The whole sequence is a redemption for Bell, a chance for him to recover finally from his trauma back in book 1 where he could only wait helplessly for death when facing a minotaur.

I love that he isn’t an overpowered juggernaut just cutting through his enemy. Here he’s still outclassed and he’s having to use every ounce of skill he’s learned and ever weapon and trick he’s acquired just to stay alive. Yet he knows he must somehow break through and actually win and he continues to look for his chance and his moment. It is a brutal fight and absolutely thrilling.

So, yeah, I really loved this book and I can’t wait for the next one.

If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought of this.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Light Novel Volume 2 Review

Review:

That title is really way too long no matter how you look at it.

Anyway, onto book 2 (book 1 thoughts here) and we continue to follow Bell’s adventures. Hestia’s role in this book is much smaller and the focus is more on Bell developing as an adventurer and the introduction of Lilly, a supporter for Bell’s dungeon exploits. There is a small introduction of the idea of having a personal smith and people who have watched the anime will know where that is going, but it isn’t really dealt with in this book. As I said, this is definitely more about Bell and Lilly, with a little bit more about Eina from the Guild.

What made this book so fun to read is that you just kind of roll along from one event to the next. There’s ideas that we know will get developed later and reminders of things that have already happened, but there’s always this sense of pushing forward and growing. And that is driven largely by Bell and Bell’s character but it also comes through in the writing itself which keeps exchanges short and description sparse. There’s certainly enough description, but there aren’t large sections where you feel like things have been over-described and you are waiting for something to actually happen.

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Lilly was a great addition to the cast in this book. Hestia and Bell are both too sweet for words in most scenes and the majority of other characters that were focused on in book 1 were also relatively nice characters. Lilly, with her more complex story and motives and her definite bitter streak really injects some much needed flavour into what might otherwise become a fairly bland fantasy romp. Despite their being a goddess targeting Bell, this is still a very peripheral story line and so without Lilly there really wouldn’t have been much tension in this tale at all.

Ais also fares well in this second volume. Though her presence is minimal, her few encounters with Bell, as well as Eina’s observations of her, help to start painting a picture of her character. For Bell, Ais remains something of an ideal or a target, but the audience are starting to see Ais more as a person and hopefully this continues into the next book.


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However, this is a book set in a city where the focus is entering a dungeon and hunting monsters, and I must say that these parts of the story held up very well. We get taken deeper into the dungeon than we had been in the previous book and we learn more about the creatures living there (as well as learning more about the tower above the dungeon). We also see that Bell’s experiences in the dungeon aren’t forgotten as he has some moments where he plays it cautious remembering that Minotaur that nearly killed him when he first met Ais. The dungeon is also a good way of keeping track of Bell’s progress as an adventurer given otherwise it is just numbers and letters on a stat sheet. Seeing Bell’s encounters with the monsters helps give us a real image of how strong he has become.

This book also introduces magic to Bell. While that part of the story may have been underutilized, it certainly opens many future possibilities, and like Bell I have to admit shooting a firebolt is pretty cool.

All and all, this is a great follow up to the first book and I like that it seemed to have a focus for this book even while progressing other stories for later use. I’m looking forward to the third volume of this series.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Kino’s Journey (2017) Series Review: Aimless Wanderer’s Journey Fails To Connect

Overview:

Kino travels from country to country with her talking motorrad Hermes. She stays in each country for three days and then moves on.

Review:

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for episodic stories (even highly formulaic ones) so Kino’s Journey was something I thought I could get in to. I’d never seen the original (hadn’t heard of it until this new series came out) so I didn’t go in with expectations or comparisons like some viewers, and yet after my initial fairly positive impressions during the first 2 – 3 episodes, the show essentially bombed. So what went wrong?

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A lot of the blame needs to be placed on the lack of cohesion in this story, which is a weird criticism to give something that is episodic and yet makes sense. When I think about something like Natsume Yuujinchou that used a fairly episodic approach through most of its seasons, each season still has an over-arching theme that is developed and most stories somehow connect us to that theme. Even something like Ghost Hunt has characters who develop over the course of their encounters and relationships that change so even though the individual stories can be viewed in isolation, watching in order adds something to the experience as there are solid narrative connections.

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Kino’s Journey lacks this. Kino is not an interesting enough (or explored enough) character to make their development (not that there is any) the linking thread (plus Kino is missing from a number of episodes of Kino’s Journey). And there seems to be no central idea other than one of selfish desire and even that isn’t really explored it just kind of is.

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As a result, individual episodes have to be judged on their own merit as stand-alone stories and not one of these episodes has sufficient depth or strength to really hold up. Some of them are outright badly written and completely pointless.

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That isn’t to say there are no good ideas or interesting moments in Kino’s Journey. There are plenty. However, the story isn’t interesting in delving into any of these or giving them the exploration they need to be something more than a throw away line or idea. You will swiftly be moved on to more mediocre moments and wondering just why you bothered to watch the next story at all.

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Overall, this one just wasn’t worth the time. It looks good enough but isn’t dazzling. The basic premise is solid but nothing is every really done with it. Some of the support characters we meet along the way are interesting enough but as this is an ongoing journey, none of them hang around long enough to save the show. And episode 12 is a joke gone wrong so just spare yourself. Definitely not one I can recommend.

Episode Reviews:


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Karandi James

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Tale of the Waning Moon Volume 4 Manga Review

Just a warning to start that the contents of this manga are not suited to everyone containing explicit (and sometimes graphic) sexual non-consensual relationships between male characters. While I have included no images below, the story content will be discussed.

Overview:

The final volume of this series and one that concludes Ryuka’s journey to the moon to find Ixto. Also where we will find out whether it is love or really just a spell. My reviews of the previous 3 volumes can be found here.

Review:

I’m going to get my one and only real criticism out of the way so that I can then focus on what a great conclusion to the adventure this volume was. What is that criticism? The prologue to this volume which sees Widow helping Ryuka and Coon collect the last items needed to open the door to the moon. No real problem with them wrapping up the fetch quest, however they felt the need to include one of those random trees that appear in these sorts of stories that for some reason have vines that wrap themselves around the hero and well, they didn’t get a lot further here but they certainly suggested the possibility.

Given the rest of the volume pretty much dealt with the characters’ actual emotions and feelings and their relationship that had been built up over three volumes and this adventure across the desert and back again and again collecting what was needed before travelling to the moon, it just felt so out of place and such a throw back to the first sequence where the main character was raped. Maybe they are worried they’ll lose readers if they actually just let the story be sweet because it seemed like one of these types of scenes cropped up any time things actually looked like they might settle into mature and sensible romance.

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However, that is literally my only complaint of substance about this. Volume three wrapped by Aldin and Ral’s story though Ryuka does make good on his promise to fill Aldin in when he returned the dragon’s breath, so they get a brief cameo toward the end of this volume. Without their distraction, we turn our attention fully to the moon spirits and Ryuka.

All the way through this story Ixto has been a bit of an enigma. You kind of want to hate him at first because of how Ryuka meets him but time and again he’s helped Ryuka out (though I guess you could point out Ryuka wouldn’t have needed to be rescued so often if it wasn’t for Ixto’s spell in the first place). This volume fleshes him out as we learn about his family and his history. We also get to find out whether Ixto’s spell really did cause all of this or whether Ryuka genuinely has fallen in love at this stage.

Widow, who also started off as a character that we probably could have done without, becomes someone of genuine interest here and while he does add in an unneeded complication, for the most part his contributions to the story this volume are quite welcome.

On that note, Coon also finally gets a cool moment for about two seconds before turning back into the whiny little moon-cat that he is. But still, at least he got his moment.

I’m not going into spoiler territory so I’m not going to say anything more about what actually happens. What I am happy about is that the story does resolve itself nicely and everything feels complete. Despite a few scenes that I’d rather have not walked into unprepared (and I was unprepared back in volume 1) I ended up really enjoying Ryuka’s story. I’d definitely recommend reading it provided you won’t be put off by male on male sexual relationships. sometimes quite explicit (though there’s definitely worse out there) and the ongoing issue of non-consensual sex which comes up in most of the books a couple of times at least. Ultimately I’d say it was a sweet romance except that I just can’t use that as a final conclusion to any romance that starts with a rape.

If you’ve read this series, I’d love to know your thoughts on it.


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Karandi James.

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A Place Further Than The Universe Episode 1: Mostly Harmless

Overview:

Tamaki feels like she is wasting her youth but every time she tries to do something she gets scared and backs out. Then she meets Shirase who wants to travel to Antarctica because her mother did and went missing there.

Review:

I must admit, I really don’t buy into the idea that you have to travel somewhere to find yourself or that you are missing out on things just because you aren’t doing something extraordinary with your life so Tamaki’s main motivations as a character aren’t exactly hitting their mark in terms of making me care about her or the journey she is embarking on. That said, this first episode was pretty charming even if I did find myself a little indifferent to the overall story so far.

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While I’m not convinced I’m going to stay on board with this for the season, I’m certainly wanting to know a little more about what the girls intend to do. However, the wanting to go to Antarctica just because your mother did motive isn’t really working for me either. What did work this episode were the interactions between the characters. Tamaki and Megumi make very believable friends and Tamaki’s initial interactions with Shirase were pretty solid.

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I’m not such a fan of the visuals as the characters are all super shiny but the animation so far has been fine. This one is on a wait and see. If a lot of other stuff comes out, I’ll probably pass on this but it may manage to grab my interest a bit more in the next couple of episodes.


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Tale of the Waning Moon Volume 3 Manga Review

Just a warning to start that the contents of this manga are not suited to everyone containing explicit (and sometimes graphic) sexual non-consensual relationships between male characters. While I have included no images below, the story content will be discussed.

My review of Volume 1 can be found here. Volume 2 was review here.

Review – Some plot spoilers:

A good half of this book is devoted to wrapping up Aldin and Ral’s story with Ryuka and Ixto assisting or being sidelined. That isn’t so much a problem because Aldin and Ral’s story has been interesting from the beginning and it makes sense that their story should conclude before we get to the end of Ixto and Ryuka’s story. A lot of this is closely tied up with Aldin’s family and the relationship between Aldin and his two brothers and while it is a distraction from the journey to the moon it is compelling in its own way. I’m a little dissatisfied that even after overcoming the spell they still have to be apart for the next three years but at least there is now a solid chance for them to build a life together in the future, so that was actually kind of nice.

Plot however is a tricky thing. You need complications to keep things interesting and sometimes that involves characters doing stupid things. Ixto steps right into that in this book with an action he takes to allow Ryuka to help Aldin and Ral out. It is kind of obvious from Coon’s reaction (the moon cat) that Ixto shouldn’t do what he does and yet he does it anyway and as another character points out later Ixto volunteered. No one even asked him to do it because if he hadn’t suggested it, they wouldn’t have even known it was an option.

This creates a complication and for the first time since the story began we see that Ryuka is completely cut off from Ixto’s influence and still chooses to make the journey to the moon, though with the usual self-denial of these stories where he doesn’t openly admit he has actually grown to love Ixto but more he wants to punch him for some stupid reason. Ryuka also enters into a fairly stupid deal in order to achieve this goal and I’m really quite concerned about how that is going to play out.

As much as I enjoy this story and am looking forward to the fourth book, sometimes these standard tropes just make you roll your eyes.

Now as for the warning label, this book brings us a reasonably consensual and yet slightly coerced scene between Ixto and Ryuka. Ixto aware he probably isn’t coming back decides to make the most of his potential last time seeing Ryuka. We then get another Ryuka gets abducted moment by a guy who very graphically describes what he’d love to do to Ryuka (thanks for some of that imagery) but fortunately doesn’t get very far before he is forcibly stopped. Compare to book 1 it is fairly tame but it is about the same as book 2 and might still rub some people the wrong way.

All and all, the overall story remains on track. Ryuka is still trying to find true love and is journeying to the moon where Ixto is waiting. The friends he met along the way were helped to a kind of happy ending and now there’s just one major obstacle left to overcome (and a whole bunch of little ones). I still like Ryuka as a character and while some of the content is a bit confronting, the story is kind of sweet, though clearly not a manual for healthy relationships at this point.

If you’ve read it I’d love to know your thoughts but please don’t spoil the ending because I’m getting to the next book very soon.


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Made in Abyss Season 1 Series Review: Adventure Calls

Overview:

Riko is an orphan training to be a cave raider as the city she lives in is built around Abyss, a mysterious giant hole in the ground. The Abyss holds many secrets, including fantastical creatures, a curse, and possibly Riko’s mother.

Review:

The spirit of adventure is something that a lot of stories are built around. You have your random ‘hero’, put some insurmountable something in front of them and let them have at it. One advantage most of those stories have over Made in Abyss is they usually finish with either the hero triumphantly returning, dying heroically, or surrendering the challenge in some moral statement that they will then hit you over the head with during the epilogue. Made in Abyss isn’t finished from a narrative point of view (hence the second season announcement) and that makes it difficult to really talk about at the moment. Mostly because if this is it then I would have to say it is deeply unsatisfying.

I really was disappointed when I didn’t get to watch it while this was streaming. I read so many reviews where people talked about how good it was so when I did sign up for HiDive I was very happy to see I had gained access to this series. And there is a lot to like about it. However, despite its many positives, there’s also a few elements that just kind of rubbed me the wrong way throughout the series. And then of course it seems to end just as the journey threatens to get interesting. So, backing up, I’m going to look at this in a fairly logical manner.

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Where Made in Abyss shines is the setting. You wouldn’t think you could make exploring a hole in the ground this visually impressive, but apparently with a bit of fantastical imagination you really, really can. From the different level designs, to the impressive array of creatures Riko and her acquired partner Reg encounter, the setting is never dull. That is the best thing about this adventure story. The place they are exploring is interesting. Improbably and unrealistic (given the whole curse thing), but interesting. And I’ll take interesting over realistic most days when it comes to fantasy settings so I really did enjoy the world building that was going on in this.

This interesting setting is further enhanced by the actual quality of the visuals and the direction. There’s been a lot of thought put into how to present this world and the shot types, use of colours, and just the general style of this anime all bring out the best of this world. Throw in good music and sound design and you really have an immersive world for your audience just to lose themselves in.

Unfortunately, the story and characters haven’t fared quite so well. It isn’t that either are particularly poorly done, but the story is slow to get going and then incomplete and the characters are… Well, they are interesting in pieces but on the whole they are kind of dull (and I know I just annoyed a lot of people by saying that).

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Riko is probably my biggest issue with the show. Early on she is insufferably smug (before they begin their descent). While she has some skills, she’s still a beginner and she really doesn’t have enough actual talent to back up her towering opinion of herself. With the discovery of Reg, she immediately decides he is going to help her descend to the bottom of Abyss in search of her mother going against every rule she’s been taught. Because, why follow rules that seem to only be in place to stop you from committing suicide?

They do try and justify Riko’s relentless drive to the bottom of the Abyss with the whole back story reveal from her birth, but to be honest it doesn’t paint her in any better light. She’s a weak girl, relying on Reg’s strength to protect her, as she tries to accomplish a journey she has no business being on and the very vague motivation of meeting her mother (who might not even be there or might be dead) and she learns mid-journey that might not be the reason she feels compelled to travel anyway. Don’t let that deter you Riko. Just keep plunging headlong down a hole. It kind of made the more horrific moments of some of the final episodes less horrific because really it just seemed like Riko had asked for such a thing to happen to her (though Mitty’s story was pretty horrific no matter how you view it).

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Reg doesn’t escape criticism though given he chooses to put up with Riko’s selfishness and even seems to actively encourage it, though he seems to get little out of it. The whole get his memories back motive seems paper thin in most episodes given he doesn’t really seem to care except in tiny snatches where I guess even the writers realised that if Reg had any independent thought he would have left Riko already. As useful and strong as he is, and immune from the curse apparently, Reg’s lack of action in most situations makes you wonder what his purpose is other than elevator and designated crier on most occasions.

But even the characters are functional. Okay, they have a very singular motivation that doesn’t seem sufficient to warrant what they do to achieve it, but otherwise they work well enough and the general relationship between the two work (assuming you are happy believing Reg is a doormat). Then we have the story itself.

Admittedly, the story isn’t finished, so the lack of finale isn’t a problem at this point. What is more of a problem are things like the compass Riko has that gets built up to be important, and then gets washed away and forgotten. It never does anything of consequence. Her mother’s weapon? Get’s used once, by Reg, and then is lost the next time they even try to think about using it. They introduce devices and elements into this story that just seem to be distractions. It doesn’t help that a lot of the early episodes are explaining features of the setting in the upper levels of Abyss, that we then leave and from what we understand of the story, won’t be returning to. So much time is chewed up in developing that marvelous setting that it leaves little room for real plot development.

What that means is things become fairly straight forward in that Riko and Reg descend to a new level. We get a brief tour guide of the features of the level, usually courtesy of Riko, before something attacks them. They might meet people on the level who usually start off looking scary and like they are going to hinder the journey but then they will continue to let the two kids descend into the depths. I know I questioned Riko and Reg’s motivation but I really need to question the motives of every adult in existence in this story. What are they thinking?

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Toward the very end of the series we get an introduced subplot back on the surface about some improbably disease that is killing people on their birthday, but this is kind of introduced and then put to the side. There’s also Nanachi and Mitty’s story which I’m certain will become important to Reg and Riko as they descend to level 5. However, neither of these points have played any significance in the plot so far. They are set up for future developments that hopefully will do something with them.

I think that while I liked this as an introduction, I feel this is a story I’d have liked have been dropped into the middle of. When Riko and Reg were already a fair way down and we could have learned how they got there over time. I think less explanations about the Abyss and more just letting viewers be a little bemused and astonished by the mystery of the place, might have made it an even better setting and wouldn’t have devoured so much screen time that could have developed character or plot elements.

That doesn’t mean this was bad. It was thoroughly enjoyable. What it does mean though, is that I took quite a few breaks between episodes when watching this because I seldom felt compelled to move on to the next episode. While watching it was enjoyable enough, but there was no sense of haste or need to see what happened next. And without an ending, I probably wouldn’t recommend this series as a must watch. There’s too much still left to be revealed and too much that could go severely wrong with the plot so I’d prefer to wait and see how it develops before I’d firmly throw a recommendation behind this. Still, if you want a bit of a fantasy/adventure fix and you don’t mind a lot of set up, this was a good watch and for all my issues with it, most of these are things that could probably be overcome with more time for the story and characters to find their way.

Let me know what you thought of the series.


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Kino’s Journey Episode 9: Disjointed Fragments

Review:

The episode title claimed various countries and it wasn’t kidding. This episode we jump between Shizu, Ti and Riku and Kino and Hermes as they travel about. The end result is a fairly mish-mashed episode with ideas and countries fighting for your attention and the usual lack of subtlety I’ve come to expect from this show.

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The opening observations of the bandits of the groups passing by were amusing enough but ultimately just set up for a joke about Kino’s master and didn’t connect to anything else of serve any purpose.

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The country with the point system could have been really interesting if they’d bothered to actually explore the notion but instead they just explicitly lay it out, including the major flaw in the system, and then we just move on.

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Then we have some random cooking thing that somehow connects Kino and Shizu again, a random country where Shizu and Ti make a point about wishes. Again, that could have been interesting but nothing was done with it. And lastly a country we don’t get to see at all because Kino’s had their memory wiped on departure.

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While not one of these things was bad, the episode as a whole was lacking in cohesion and impact and overall just another meh moment in a series that hasn’t done much to impress during its run time.


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Land of the Lustrous Episode 8: Phos is Golden

Review:

For all that Land of the Lustrous has some pacing and narrative issues, the overall anime continues to be an intriguing and pleasing viewing experience. Being easy on the eyes (and sometimes truly beautiful) certainly helps in this, but it is also how the story remains fairly ambiguous but not annoying. The world these characters inhabit is alien to the viewer and while occasionally we get a small exposition dump, for the most part we’ve learned about it as we have travelled with the characters and primarily Phos. It is amazing how well this show has managed to make me care about Phos despite her having many character traits that usually annoy me to no end.

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And it isn’t just Phos. For all that the time we spend with some characters is brief, each leaves an impression on the viewer. They come into the story with a purpose and they don’t linger about unnecessarily. While this doesn’t make the story particularly realistic (of course it is a story about anthropomorphized gem stones so what do you want) it does make it very engaging as there seem to be no wasted moments or interactions even when you don’t initially see the point.

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Episode 8 is a fascinating episode and I am going ot have to rewatch it at some point. Phos’ transformation takes a really dramatic turn and that certainly was interesting and did grab a lot of my attention. So much so that other points such as some of the master’s moments and the behaviour of the Lunarians, interesting though it was, didn’t quite get as much of my attention as they required and thinking back I’m certain I’ve missed some of the finer points.

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I’m not going to claim Land of the Lustrous is any kind of game changing anime, but it is certainly doing its best to feel distinct. It isn’t quite like anything else I’m watching this season and while stories of weak underdog characters who gain strength are plentiful, the transition that Phos is undergoing has given this standard trope a unique feel. Really enjoying this show this season and eager to see where it will go now.


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Tale of the Waning Moon Volume 2 Manga Review

Just a warning to start that the contents of this manga are not suited to everyone containing explicit (and sometimes graphic) sexual non-consensual relationships between male characters. While I have included no images below, the story content will be discussed.

My review of Volume 1 can be found here.

Review:

Well despite the warning there, volume 2 is decidedly tame by comparison to volume 1 in terms of what it actually depicts. It is problematic in that Ryuka is more or less clearly surrendering to the idea that he is falling in love with Ixto (you know, moon spirit who raped him and then essentially put a spell on him forcing him to find his way to the moon) but if you ignored that premise, volume 2 is actually kind of sweet. Ryuka’s working hard to find his way and to overcome obstacles, and Ixto is doing what he can to ensure not too many obstacles fall in his path. If their actions stemmed from a different starting point it would be sweet.

So to get it out of the way, this particular volume does have non-consensual sex going on yet again between unnamed characters who have been kidnapped and brainwashed by another former resident of the moon who now lives inside a cave and spirits away young men. This situation isn’t actually stopped or even dealt with in the story, it is merely a setting our main characters come across but they are rapidly kicked out and then the story moves on, but it is still fairly graphic for the short moment the characters cross paths with this scene. I’m kind of hoping somewhere down the line there’s a reason this character and this place even exist because otherwise the main characters literally gained nothing by the encounter and it did nothing to progress the plot. Still, given the one they met came from the moon and his place is inside the cave where the sealed portal to the moon is kept, I’m guessing this might become more important later in the story.

However, for Ryuka we have a fetch quest this book. Basically after reaching the portal to the moon, the pull that has been directing him to find Ixto kind of fades but he still can’t get through the door. Fortunately (and conveniently) there’s a list of items on the door that Ryuka will need to gather in order to open it and despite not really being compelled anymore, Ryuka becomes fairly determined to track them down.

He’s still accompanied by Aldin and the horse/man Ral. When asked why Aldin is still journeying with them, given he now knows that Ral and himself have been cursed, he points out he doesn’t know  how to get rid of the curse and he may as well stay with Ryuka while looking for a way to fix the situation. In honesty, these two get very little development this book, though the final part of the story has the group return to Aldin’s home as one of the objects they need is a family heirloom (again with convenience) and it kind of looks like their story is going to be dealt with in earnest fairly soon so I’m kind of looking forward to that.

It is however an odd way to tell an adventure story with the cahracters having crossed the desert to get to the portal and then crossing the desert again, and encountering the bandits again, in order to retrieve all the items they need. Honestly, it feels like stretching content to have not told them in the first place that before you get to the door you will need x, y, z. More importantly, it just means bringing back characters and settings we’ve kind of already seen and the second encounter with the bandits was no more meaningful than the first.from volume 1.

Despite the fairly meandery plot, I’m liking how Ryuka is shaping up as a character and despite my misgivings about him actually falling in love with Ixto, I can’t help but want the two of them to end up together at this point. Though, I sort of suspect things are going to get worse before they get better for the two of them.

Anyway, I have the third volume ready to read, so I’ll get to it soon and write my thoughts then. If you’ve read this series I’d love to know your thoughts.


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Thanks,

Karandi James.

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