Summer 2018 Week 6

The half-way point and there are still a few shows I’m on the fence about but I’m pretty happy with my line up. At the very least I’ve got a little something from quite a number of genres which means at least my week is nice and variable as I go from action to romance to drama to comedy. Even those shows not quite up to scratch are still giving me something to write about at this point with Holmes of Kyoto being the only one I’m feeling like I’m reaching to try to find anything remarkable enough (good or bad) to be bothered to mention in a review.

Still, here’s hoping that as the shows go into their second half we see some of them step right up for the end of the season. So early speculation, but what do you think is going to stick its landing to be the best of the season?

What I watched

100 Sleeping Princes and the Kingdom of Dreams (Episode 6)

Dream6a

I’ll just have to accept that this anime is kind of average to middling and watch it because it doesn’t make me tax myself with thinking about it once it is done, or get around to dropping it. The thing is, as unremarkable as this anime is, it is inoffensive and it does provide some calm viewing each week. Not to mention it has been pretty consistent, even if not overly good.

Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion (Episode 6)

Mongol6a

As we kind of get an ongoing run through the mountains with the characters, it is becoming more apparent to me that while this works as plot driven drama and your enjoyment will very much depend on how into the conflict you are, where it doesn’t work is as a character piece given how poorly developed some of these characters are six episodes in.

Attack on Titan Season 3 (Episode 4)

Titan4a

Attack on Titan continues a fairly solid trend and I would actually go so far as to say it is weaving a compelling story so far this season. Whether it can hold onto its narrative for the duration remains to be seen and that’s been tricky for the show in previous seasons, but four episodes in and I have to say I’m actually reasonably optimistic at the moment.

Banana Fish (Episode 6 – Not Reviewed)

Banana6b

This story continues to delight in tragedy consolidating Ash’s tragic back story, introducing new characters and then summarily killing them off. There’s no big emotional impact from anything this week, but the overall affect of continuous tragic situations is leaving quite the impression.

Cells at Work (Episode 6)

Cells at Work Episode 6

The fun continues in episode 6 with an adorable look at Red and White blood cells’ pasts. That said, this show is about to tackle cancer (or at least cancer cells) and the tonal shift at the end of episode 6 seems to be setting up a slightly less amusing tone for next week. This show has definitely surpassed my expectations going in and I’m really enjoying it.

Holmes of Kyoto (Episode 6)

Holmes of Kyoto Episode 6 - Aoi

Honestly, part of me thinks I may just forget to watch next week’s episode given how dull this was. It wouldn’t be an actual decision to drop, but more just that I’ll put it off and then not get around to it. Which is a shame given there’s a potentially decent premise here. And yet dull and bland remain my two main descriptors of this anime.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord (Episode 7)

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 7

And amazingly, How Not To Summon a Demon Lord has found that balance between fan service and plot and has managed to deliver an episode that delivers on both. While I’m definitely never a fan of the whole girls and slime thing, there was very little to genuinely complain about in terms of the story this week. This one was fairly entertaining.

Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi (Episode 20 – Reviewed for Patrons)

Kakuriyo20fOh well, we had one mission end almost instantly but fortunately the mermaid was nice enough to give Aoi new directions (otherwise they would definitely run out of plot before the end of this series). Unfortunately we’re back to Aoi’s cooking solving everything. This story just doesn’t know how to build any kind of excitement into its episodes.

Phantom in the Twilight (Episode 6)

Twilight6eThis one has turned out to be another of the pleasant surprises of the Summer season. Hardly flawless and not exactly something to rave over, Phantom in the Twilight is however remaining a fairly consistently entertaining anime on my line up with small improvements almost every week. As we hit the half-way point of the season, this one is looking pretty good.

Steins;Gate 0 (Episode 18)

Steins18c

Like most bad guys, the professor talks too much. If he’d just got in the time machine… oh well. Steins;Gate 0 continues to escalate as we approach its final episodes and the tension has mounted high. The question is whether they’ve thought through how to emerge from this tangled web in tact. They managed it in the original series, so here’s hoping.

The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einhenjer (Episode 6)

Ragnarok6e

Week 6 appears to be the week for the removal of positive plot directions and descending into fan-service for the sake of it. Both this and How Not To Summon A Demon Lord spent considerable screen time showing us the female casts’ assets rather than actually progressing their story at the midway point. Not exactly a positive sign.

My Hero Academia Season 3 (Episode 18)

My Hero Academia Episode 56

My Hero Academia rolls along and while this week was definitely a bit more interesting than the last, I still can’t help but feel there are opportunities being lost here. This arc is just not grabbing me and seeing the kids pull through at the last minute isn’t thrilling so much as expected by the time they get there. Hoping next week picks up.

Episode of the Week

Cells at Work - Episode 6
Cells at Work just remains impressive. It knows when to entertain, when to inform, and it has some pretty great handling as it transitions between lighter and more dramatic moments. Hopefully next week manages to nail the appropriate tone.

Character of the Week

My Hero Academia Episode 56 - Bakugou
As much as I have not been enjoying this arc of My Hero Academia, I’m not jaded enough to ignore a great moment for Bakugou. In one scene he acknowledges Midoriya and also drops a subtle dig that he remembers Midoriya’s previous slip up and that he’s put it together. Sometimes, he really does have these great moments.

Dropped or On Hold

  • Angels of Death (Episode 4)
  • GeGeGe no Kitaro (Episode 19)
  • Hanebado (Episode 1)
  • Harukana Receive (Episode 1)
  • Island (Episode 4)
  • Lord of Vermilion: The Crimson King (Episode 4)
  • Planet With (Episode 1)
  • The Thousand Muskateers (Episode 1)
  • Yuna and the Haunted Hotsprings (Episode 1)

If you want to join in the conversation on Twitter be sure to follow along: Summer Anime 2018


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How Not To Summon A Demon Lord Episode 7: Overwriting = Bad but Command = Good?

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 7 Diablo

The Prince returns and Shera follows him leaving one depressed Demon Lord. However, Rem and Alicia get Diablo back on his feet and then it is time for a showdown between the Prince’s ability to overwrite Shera’s will with Diablo’s ability to command her to tell the truth as his slave. Wait? Who was supposed to  be the good guy here?

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 7

After the fan service heavy episode 6, I was hoping for a more plot driven episode and to be honest, this episode delivered (while still actually delivering on fan service at the same time). It was unexpected how well the episode managed to balance both aspects that so far had been separated. Where most events fell into either the fan service or the plot/character camps, this episode succeeded at delivering the two simultaneously without seemingly giving up on the quality of either. A rare feat but one I had to applaud by the end.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 7

Shera is the star of this episode even if she isn’t the hero. From the early focus on her as she watches Diablo make potions (as he watches her breasts jiggling) to the first round of brain washing where she returns to her brother, this episode is Shera’s. Diablo may have started the episode with a flash back to his childhood when he was still in the real world and facing rejection (a theme that will carry through the episode) but it is nowhere near as compelling as Shera’s story here.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 7

By the time the stupid prince Keera delivers cloth eating slime to Shera (and do I dare ask why it immediately attacks Shera’s clothes when there’s the prince, a rug, a tent and a lot of other cloth it could eat), despite the obvious cliche moment of the girl writhing under the slimes, the audience is genuinely feeling for Shera’s character and waiting for the rescue that we know is on the way.

Even after the rescue, it isn’t as though Shera simply becomes baggage. As Diablo and Keera fight it out for control over Shera’s mind, ultimately it is what Shera wants that dictates the outcome of the battle and then Shera’s not ready to cry and play the damsel in distress. She’s standing right there next to Rem as Keera unleashes his dangerous summon and I’m hoping that Shera continues to grow as a character and an adventurer.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 7

This was a genuinely satisfying episode and while bouncing boobs and dissolving clothes may not be to everyone’s liking, here it felt like they actually did belong in the story rather than feeling like an added extra for the sake of it after the fact.

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Friday’s Feature: Is Anime Doing Its Fans a Service?

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 2

Fan-service: Essentially something added to a work of fiction for the sake of pleasing the audience. Now that means fan-service isn’t limited to nudity, groping, and other things of a sexualised nature that most people immediately think of when we talk about fan service, but it does include those elements. I’ll hopefully get back to what else fan service is in a future post, but today I’ll probably just be discussing what we mostly think about when the term fan service shows up.

This season brings us How Not To Summon a Demon Lord, The Master of Ragnarok, Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs, Free, Harukana Receive and the list of anime that would immediately spring to mind when someone mentions fan service just goes on. Now before you think I’m about to launch into a rant or a tirade against the various half-clad girls flouncing about the screen (or equally shirtless men who are striking a pose while flicking their hair about), I’d like to reassure you that while I’m not a fan of fan service, nor do I deny that there is an audience for it and that it serves a purpose within stories.

The Master of Ragnarok Episode 6

Let’s move the discussion momentarily away from the current season of anime. We all know Hollywood movies have used these kinds of gimmicky moments forever to draw the audience. There’s little reason for the various Bond girls to be shown so often in swim-wear, formal wear, or wearing very little while in bed (or for the Daniel Craig scene where he emerged from the water). There’s practically zero reason why Amanda Hunsaker (Lethal Weapon 1) makes her only appearance in the movie wearing an open robe that is blowing open in the wind before she takes a dive off the balcony. And anyone who watches a lot of bad horror and slasher films will know that there’s definitely going to be a sex scene at some point and inevitably the girl who participates in said scene is going to die fairly soon after. That’s been done so often it is now a running joke in self-aware parodies of horror.

But while I say there’s no reason for these scenes, we all know the reason. Even if that isn’t the part of the film appealing to you, someone out there was waiting for that scene and they enjoyed every second of it. Whether that girl or guy was hot or not will make or break their enjoyment of that film. And while sometimes these scenes are fairly well integrated into the plot, Amanda’s death worked because she was working as a hooker, she was on drugs, and the whole scene played into the tragedy of her death, others are clearly there just so they have something to put into the trailer to get audiences to watch.

If you were advertising a movie, wouldn’t you want the shot of Daniel Craig walking out of the water wearing that?

Daniel Craig - James Bond - Swimwear

It plays great for the trailer, gets people talking online, gets images shared, and while no one is talking about the plot of your new Bond film, everyone knows there is in fact a new Bond film and Daniel Craig looks hot (if you are into that kind of thing – personally I’m all for Antonio Banderas in the Mask of Zorro, but to each their own).

Now anime may take things to a whole new level, but it more or less does the same thing (save for when a show is entirely built around fan service moments and the plot is entirely jettisoned – there’s a commitment there but I’m not sure I’m interested in the end result). This season I’ve been watching How Not To Summon a Demon Lord and The Master of Ragnarok. Both are essentially isekai stories and as normal they are both filled with fan service moments. And this is something that in individual episode reviews I definitely take a negative take on but this isn’t actually condemning the existence of fan service itself but rather speaks of what I’m looking for in an episode.

For me I’m looking for moments that move the plot or help flesh out or develop the characters and the issue with the way fan service seems to be delivered in these kinds of shows is it not only doesn’t do either one of those things, it actively eats screen time which could be used for parts of the show I’m actually interested in.

The other issue I find, and the reason I probably seem fairly negative when I discuss fan service as part of a review, is that so often it is females being seen in this light and it is regularly extremely sexualised content even if it is played for laughs. The boob grab, the rubbing breasts against the guys arm, the low camera shots, touching other girls; I’m clearly not the target audience for this kind of content so while such sequences don’t make me instant drop as they would some people, they certainly aren’t adding to my engagement of the story or helping me to actually care about the characters as people. That doesn’t necessarily make the show or the fan service bad, but it does mean that I’m less likely to really be drawn in as a member of the audience.

How Not To Summon A Demon Lord Episode 6
I’m certain someone somewhere is thinking ‘damn she’s hot’. I’m mostly just wondering why her skin has random glowing patches and whether or not she’s used double sided tape on that top.

Of course, I’m certain there’s a writer somewhere who is now all upset and about to lose sleep because Karandi isn’t interested in his content (heavy sarcasm there). Because of course, for every viewer that determines that the weight of fan-service is just bringing the story to a screeching halt there are clearly plenty of viewers happily checking in.

If I ever needed evidence of that (and I didn’t mind you), then this season really did prove it to me. In the last 30 Days, How Not To Summon a Demon Lord episode reviews have been my most viewed posts. Also most searched for terms to find my blog via search engines.

Top Posts 30 Days

However, even looking over the last three months, the first three episode reviews which have only been up for perhaps a month and a half at most, are the most viewed posts.

Top Posts 3 Months

Then if I look back over the entire year, the first episode review of the show is now the second most viewed post, surrounded entirely by Killing Stalking reviews (and I don’t have to wonder what fan service that particular title was delivering).

Top Posts Year

So here’s a show I started watching out of curiosity because I don’t mind isekai stories, but wasn’t really thrilled about. It delivered two episodes that had me sitting on the fence before it finally launched into its actual plot. Episode six took us back to nearly sixty percent of the episode being fan service focused moments rather than plot and I wondered once again whether the show was really worth my time or not. But it most definitely appeals to its target audience. It has left the other isekai fan-service filled title, The Master of Ragnarok, for dead.

Which of course made me wonder why?

In terms of actual plot, both stories are more or less the same. They both have an interesting idea, potentially interesting directions they could go, and both have regularly come to a screeching halt because they’ve wanted to show off the numerous girls in the show in various states of undress.

How Not To Summon A Demon Lord Episode 6 - Diablo and Shera

In this at least How Not To Summon A Demon Lord tried to come up with a semi-plausible explainer linking all that grinding on the bed action to some kind of magic that may or may not eventually free Shera from being a slave (I’m not sure I buy magical boob gropes, but whatever). Still at least they tried. If the scene had been a little shorter and there had been a little less orgasmic panting, I may have even not felt distinctly uncomfortable while watching it. Master of Ragnarok didn’t even really bother. They just had another character tell the MC to take a break and go to the hot springs where the girls then pounced upon him.

The Master of Ragnarok Episode 6

It was thinking about this where I realised the difference in these shows really lay. Even with its non-fan service moments, The Master of Ragnarok isn’t subtle. The main character always just explains his battle plan to someone, usually waving his phone around to remind us he’s from the future, and usually making a reference to the fact he’s a cheater using future knowledge. And it delivers fan service in an equally blunt and matter of a fact way with the girls just coming straight onto him and declaring they want to be his wives. Its very much like they have a tick box list of events that they need to shove into the narrative and so they’ll just have the character say whatever is needed to progress us from A to B. As such, despite the more interesting setting, the Master of Ragnarok is actually a fairly sub-par show even when compared to How Not To Summon a Demon Lord, even if it does have more girls of more types and so far a lot more nudity.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord - Episode 5 - Diablo

How Not to Summon a Demon Lord has several advantages. Firstly, Diablo as the main character also provides some fan service as he has been shown on more than one occasion to be shirtless or posed very dramatically. While there are less girls (so far – the harem has been growing however) the characters of these girls are infinitely more developed and entertaining than the girls in Ragnarok. For instance I even remember Rem and Shera’s names and what their motivations are and the why they hang around the protagonist. While the story isn’t all that rich and deep, it is logical enough and there’s a lot of fun to be had with the idea of a socially awkward over powered demon lord who is role playing his way through his current life. And then the fan service itself has often been used to build connections or tension between the characters, and while there are plenty of other ways the show could have gone about it, we all probably have to admit that Rem’s ‘torture’ session where she ended up confiding in Diablo definitely kicked both the plot and character development into gear.

DemonLord1d

Though I think we’ll just leave aside the whole issue of slavery and ownership for a whole other discussion because there’s a lot of that going around this season as well.

So I’ll get back to the question from the title about whether anime is doing its fans a service through the inclusion of fan service? The answer, whether you individually like it or not, is probably yes. It sells and there’s clearly a market for it. Does that mean everything needs these elements in it? Not really. Does it mean you have to watch them? Also no. There’s plenty out there without these sorts of scenes, and yet, I know that there are some people who haven’t watched Dan Machi because of Hestia and I can’t help but feel that perhaps they missed out on a fairly extraordinary adventure because of one element. And while there are plenty of shows I have dropped because the balance of fan-service to plot tipped too far away from plot, provided I’m getting some decent character moments and plot development, fan service isn’t likely to make me turn something off.

Though depending on how loud the girl is moaning I may end up muting the episode.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 6 - Shera

What are your thoughts on fan service in anime?


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Karandi James

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Steins;Gate 0 Episode 18: Even Knowing The Future Won’t Help You Make a Better Choice

Steins;Gate 0 - Episode 18 - Okabe

While there are some things that can be known about the future, and some choices that once made that will set things in motion, but without experiencing it, there is no way for the characters to know the outcomes of changes they make. Okabe experiences the disappointment of this first hand when he realises his choice to stay in this world line didn’t guarantee a happily ever after.

Steins;Gate 0 Episode 18 - Okabe

Steins;Gate 0 finally got around to revealing that the professor who has been overly interested in Okabe since the beginning is actually the guy behind a lot of what has happened. And really, what else did anyone expect, particularly given we knew the Americans were one of the factions at play, and there’s literally no other reason for the professor to have been so incredibly interested in Okabe and then Daru. It’s one of those reveals you see coming a mile away and yet it still is kind of satisfying when the show gets around to rolling it out and even his mad scientist laughter, before being pummelled in the face by Suzuha, kind of worked in context rather than sounding cartoonishly over the top villain like (Okabe did pretty much set the tone in Steins;Gate for mad scientist laughter to be accepted as part of this story).

Steins;Gate 0  Episode 18 The Professor

Outside of that, we finally get the full story on Kagari and while this works well enough and fills a lot of the gaps, it overall seems really messy as a way of getting a message to your past self. And how detailed were her brainwashing instructions? How did the future professor know enough about what the characters would be doing and when for it to be affective? And while she might be brainwashed that doesn’t really explain beheading a guy with her hand – something about her suit maybe?

Steins;Gate 0 Episode 18 - Kagari

Overall, this episode does an excellent job of continuing the escalating tension, bringing plot points together, and if the objective of this series is to watch Okabe disintegrate as a character we definitely saw him take some damage emotionally, but as usual I’m left wondering if any of this was necessary and whether it has added anything to my original enjoyment from the first series. I’m still coming up empty on reasons why this was a needed series, and yet it isn’t as though I dislike it and it does seem to be setting up for a big finish. Here’s hoping it nails the execution.

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Phantom in the Twilight Episode 6: Well, That Got Serious

Phantom in the Twilight Episode 6 - Van Helsing

This episode was pretty good as Van Helsing makes his presence felt in a show already fairly crowded out with characters. While it might end in yet another cliff-hanger, Phantom in the Twilight manages a fairly decent effort at progressing its plot this week.

Phantom in the Twilight Episode 6 - Wayne

For a show I had fairly mixed feelings about during its first three episodes and mostly just stuck with because I’m a sucker for the supernatural, Phantom in the Twilight actually continues to progressively get better as the audience is slowly drawn more into this world of Umbra and shadowy organisations. And while I use the word slowly, I don’t actually mean that as a criticism. Each week we gain more insight into the relationships between different characters or groups or learn more about how things work while the story also brings these different ideas and groups together. It saves us from anything too much like an exposition dump even though some of the dialogue is clearly explanatory and throw in for the benefit of Ton/the audience.

Phantom in the Twilight Episode 6 - Luke and Vlad

There are some plot developments that are a little clunky and awkward, such as the ongoing saga of Ton’s kidnapped friend. This week Van Helsing sees a reflection in a video and somehow determines that this is the umbra he needs to hunt down and maybe there’s more to the story, but it is kind of skipped over very quickly. Meanwhile, Ton also happens to come across more or less the same image but zeroes in on her friend’s hat. The likelihood of both parties finding the same footage at the same time and drawing the conclusion that they needed to be there is kind of stretching probability, but it does push the plot in a steady forward direction and overall the viewing is pleasant enough that these few awkward moments that exist simply to keep the plot afloat can more or less be forgiven.

Phantom in the Twilight Episode 6 - Chris and Van Helsing

Perhaps the biggest issue I have with Van Helsing’s introduction is that we’ve got another obvious case of an anime asking us to consider who the real monsters are as views of human supremacy are heavily dropped into his dialogue and we’re clearly set up to dislike him. While the commentary this character might offer on society isn’t an issue in and of itself, we’ve seen it plenty of times before and I’m not sure that this anime has the narrative strength to play it well. That said, it is a minor grievance in something that is by and large quite fun to watch.

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Angolmois: Record Of Mongol Invasion Episode 6: Division

Angolmois Episode 6

With the remainders of the army and the exiles momentarily unified in their desperation to survive, it is now the divisions in the Mongol army that are being exploited. That said, even with the infighting, the Japanese are really outnumbered here.

Mongol6a

I’m kind of annoyed at the way Teruhi is being presented so far in this series. She just keeps changing tone and reacting to situations and to be honest I don’t really get her as a character. We met her when she was playing the role of being haughty and cruel (which just seemed like a stupid approach with the exiles in the first place) and since then she’s been the stubborn tom-boy, the damsel in distress, the grieving family member, the tortured leader type, and so on. From one scene to the next you don’t know what face she’ll be wearing or how she’ll react and while fair enough her life is getting turned upside down, six episodes in her character remains fairly problematic in terms of actually saying whether or not I have a clue what her role in this story is.

Far easier to nail down is the role of the adopted son who last week joined forces Jinzaburou and the exiles as he tried to figure out a reason why he was even fighting and the writing was on the wall then for what his fate as a character would be. Points for the show not dragging it out and giving it enough weight as an event without belabouring the point. However, other than Teruhi and Jinaburou, none of the characters really have much, well, character. They are either stereotypes or more or less still blank slates with little to distinguish them from the other cast members. And that’s perhaps where Angolmois is starting to lose me now that the initial draw of the conflict is starting to wear a bit thin as we continue to see the Mongols chasing the Japanese across the island (there’s only so far you can pus htaht concept without liking the characters before it gets a bit old).

Mongol6c

Still, with developments towards the end of this episode bringing in some new characters, there’s some potential for a different direction. And despite m complaints about the cast, this is still a generally enjoyable show, outside of the ugly filter.

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Holmes of Kyoto Episode 6: Something About Pride

Holmes of Kyoto Episode 6

Last week I mentioned that Holmes of Kyoto suffers from very little happening in each episode, and episode 6 is a prime example of not much happening. Not sure that’s a good a thing.

Holmes of Kyoto Episode 6

In episode 5 we were introduced to a potential villain/rival but much like the gap between episodes 1 and 5 where the story meandered about doing very little of consequence, episode 6 decides it is time for Holme’s grandfather to have a birthday party with a petty bit of mystery tossed in during the final five minutes just so the episode didn’t feel totally empty. While I guess you could argue that there are some character interactions and introductions that might be important, the bland nature of most of this episode with an excess of panning over still images means that all I could see this episode as was downtime for the animators. Maybe they used up all their energy with that minor action sequence last week where Holmes went to hit the guy with his fan.

Holmes of Kyoto episode 6

That isn’t to say that learning a little more about the grandfather is bad as learning about his time on TV and the fallout when a professional maintains his integrity in the face of ratings and the pride of others is interesting enough. Yet the meandering pace of the story and the yawn inducing locked room mystery that is solved in an instant really kind of kill any kind of goodwill I may have felt towards the slightly more intriguing parts of the episode. All and all, not sure this one needs to stay on my watch list, and yet it isn’t horrendous enough to really be bothered dropping either.

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Sunday Without God Series Review: When Moe Meets Life and Death

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in June 2016 and can be found here.

I’ve watched this series a couple of times since my initial review and while some of the shine may have come off of this show on repeated viewings, there’s still something pretty great about it. I was kind of happy revisiting this one for a repost and to reconsider where it sits.

Sunday Without God - Ai

Like last time, one of the most striking things about  this anime was how beautiful it was. Every scene is just a feast for the eyes. Whether they are showing souls dancing in the air, the trees, leaves, sunlight or anything else, it is truly beautiful. And the music that accompanies most scenes is rich and lovely to listen to while conveying a lot of the mood of the current scene. And this anime is all about atmosphere.

While at first it seems Ai is just another overly cute anime protagonist who is going to save the world with peppiness, there are a lot of dark undertones to the world in Sunday Without God and the plot never shies away from dealing with these. And Ai, to her credit, tackles most obstacles head on with very little denial of reality of insistence that something isn’t right. She works to overcome things on her own.

Which means the aesthetics of this anime are amazing and our protagonist (after we get through the initial scenes of her life before she was aware of anything) grows in leaps and bounds and takes us on a journey of discovery about life and its purpose (even if it gives us few answers on the way). The support cast are also a great asset to this story.

I’ll admit though, that Ai is probably the part of this show that is the weakest when you rewatch it. Though the first viewing was great, in follow up viewings her excessive optimism and overall cuteness kind of get a little harder to take so even her development as a character doesn’t manage to off-set it. However, if you like up-beat moe characters, Ai is going to be a hit.

Sunday Without God

Sunday Without God is episodic in that there are distinct story arcs within the greater journey Ai is taking. The first few episodes deal with her meeting a stranger who changes her perception about the village she was raised in. The next arc takes her to a city that is almost entirely populated with the dead who are trying to live their own lives. Then we have a school arc, because they just kind of had to stick a kid in school (and to be honest this is the weakest of all the arcs but it does lead very nicely into the final arc). And lastly, Ai is recruited by a boy named Alis and asked to help him destroy his world. The explanation behind that request is more mundane than it at might at first appear but it is an excellent story to end on.

While some characters travel with Ai, each arc brings new characters into the fold and then they go their own ways. This is both a strength and a weakness. The strength of this is that we continually meet new characters appropriate to the current setting and we also don’t have to keep inventing reasons for others to still be hanging around. But it’s a weakness because some characters are really interesting and then they are left behind. In a longer series, this could have been a nice touch as Ai may have had a chance to revisit these characters when she was a little bit more worldly. Unfortunately, in 12 episodes, mostly these characters are simply forgotten.

And the more I think about it, the more I wish Ai had returned to the city of the dead and after seeing some other parts of the world and meeting the other characters. I feel that this would have helped to show how far she had come in her journey, and more importantly there were some great characters left in the city of the dead that I wouldn’t have minded seeing how they had fared since encountering Ai. I would really love to see this further explored but at this point it seems unlikely.

Sunday Without God

I’ll be honest and admit that if you are after something fast paced, Sunday Without God is not for you. Even though there are occasional moments of action, the show focuses very heavily on character dialogue and interactions. This is a story about how people deal with life, death, and what comes next and it is very focused on their reasons and their emotions. Large lengths of time are focused on characters either sitting and talking or driving together and talking or eating together and talking.

There are so many unsolved mysteries in the world of Sunday Without God. And a lot of that can be laid at the feet of the episode count. 12 episodes is barely enough to scrape the surface of this world where people do not stay dead and wishes come true. The world here is bizarre and intriguing and there’s a certain pessimism underpinning everything that happens but Ai brightens each and every situation with her presence preventing it from becoming truly depressing. More time to develop this world and more time to unravel these mysteries would have been fantastic.

Sunday Without God

This is a show full of fascinating moments and ideas. I love the initial story and watching as Ai confronts her rapidly expanding world. I also love the city of the dead and how we see the different views on death and life. But my favourite character is Alis who isn’t introduced until the school arc and doesn’t really do much until his request for Ai’s help. The relationship between Ai and Alis and how they work together to save/destroy his world is really interesting.

Overall, I loved Sunday Without God, though will admit the rewatch value is pretty ordinary as the missing pieces of the story become more apparent and the shine comes off the protagonist. However it is sweet and thought provoking and just a pleasure to watch. However, it is also heavy at times and the plot is slow moving. I’d strongly recommend that if you haven’t watched the anime, at least watch the first three episodes and see the first story before you make up your mind about it. It’s well worth checking out.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episode 6: Who Needs Plot?

The Master of Ragnarok Episode 6

In the absence of a new adversary, Yuuto and the group engage in pointless hot spring action before randomly deciding to start compulsory education. The Master of Ragnarok seems to just be reeling from one event to the next without much direction.

The Master of Ragnarok Episode 6

You know, hot-springs are a pretty common thing in anime. Even anime set in the past and not in Japan. So I’m not annoyed that the Master of Ragnarok sent Yuuto and all his female advisers and wannabe wives (and a slave because why not) to the hot spring. I’m more annoyed that they didn’t find anyway to make this a meaningful part of the plot (other than one of the girls washing Yuuto’s back with her boobs, because that’s a thing).

They leave the wolf clan for a vacation because Yuuto’s been working too hard. The girls basically do things girls only do in these kinds of fantasy settings until Yuuto’s nose explodes in a fountain of blood and then they all apologise before attacking him again.

Ragnarok6a

Meanwhile, Yuuto’s left someone else in charge while he’s away and they’ve made a big deal about that. But nothing happens. There’s no threat from outside to be dealt with or anything unusual that occurs. The guy in charge doesn’t try to usurp power or do anything underhanded. In fact, we don’t see a thing that happens while Yuuto is away. So why even make a point of leaving someone else in charge? More importantly, why send Yuuto away? Did anything of note happen at the hot-springs in amongst the over-the-top fan-service? Nope. Not one single plot or character point. This entire section was just there for the sake of getting characters naked, which they do anyway in bath scenes without a hot-springs trip, and it brings nothing of note to anything.

Ragnarok6f

We then return and we see another of Yuuto’s innovations from the future is earning the Wolf Clan money and somehow this ends up leading to Yuuto deciding to invent schools and compulsory education. Which is where the episode ends. Not sure why I should care how much Yuuto advances this particular society. Not sure why he isn’t looking for a way home. Not sure where the story is going because at this point and time we’re just kind of watching characters do stuff but not sure what their purpose is.

It’s all just a little empty.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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