Spring 2017 Week 4

Pretty sure the watch list is set at this point. There’s a handful of shows that I’m still kind of thinking about dropping even though we’ve past the three episode point. I guess it really depends when they push me past being just kind of bored with them into disliking them. The rest of the shows I am most likely going to finish. Though with 8 shows as either Must Watch or Usually Entertaining I’m really enjoying Spring so far. That said, with writing anniversary posts, some of the shows I watch on Sunday haven’t been watched yet or updated on this list. Will fix that for next week. How are you enjoying the Spring season?

As always, I would love to know your thoughts on the shows this season so please leave a comment below.

yuri10d

Must Watch

Natsume Yuujinchou 6 (Episode 3)

Natsume continues to be its usual self and was just the fun and relaxing watch I needed this week. Still no complaints about how this season has started as it is very much what I would have expected going into yet another season of Natsume.

Kado: The Right Answer (Episode 4)

After saying this show was not in any kind of a rush, episode 4 felt like it was speeding along nicely. Events are fully in motion (I guess you can’t offer humanity infinite energy and have them just sitting around). This story continues to be fairly intriguing and quite clever, though it is still very dialogue driven and there is quite a heavy political focus at times.

The Eccentric Family Season 2 (Episode 3)

Benten is back! Okay, that statement alone would probably be enough to keep me going another week with this as a must watch regardless of how scattered or absent any kind of overall plot has been so far. Throw into the mix Nidaime’s very cool personality and to be honest I’m pretty happy to forget about the Tanuki and focus on those two for awhile. Still, it will be interesting to see what Yasaburo chooses for his next move after all of this.

Attack on Titan Season 2 (Episode 4)

Okay, it took 4 episodes but Attack on Titan is getting better each week. The slow start to this season is paying off as more and more pieces are coming together and the show is finding its pacing and tone. I really enjoyed episode 3 and episode 4 was better. Hoping this can maintain for the remainder of the season. Plus, the opening song is finally growing on me.

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Usually Entertaining

My Hero Academia Season 2 (Episode 18)

The kids have gone all out with their quirks during the second part of the cavalry battle and, despite the lack of danger being faced, they managed to build some real tension in those final moments. Again, this season continues to be entertaining and enjoyable even if it is also fairly predictable.

Sagrada Reset (Episode 4)

Episode 4 was somewhat less satisfying and has given me some concerns about the intended future of this show. There’s still a lot to think about in terms of what it is doing and where it is going, but for the first time, this show felt like it was rushing to get information out to the audience and as a result it all just felt kind of messy.

WorldEnd (Episode 3)

Much better third episode. After the weak second entry I was kind of fearing that I’d have to drop this show down. While the first episode was great without a decent follow up that’s all it would be, a great first episode. Third episode put some of those fears to rest by dealing fairly decently with the characters and pushing the story along a bit. Hopefully this show can continue to build from this beginning.

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor (Episode 4)

Akashic Records has finally moved from Okay to Usually Entertaining and other than the entirety of episode 1 and Glenn as a character, the rest of this show is quite entertaining (and even Glenn has his moments, I just personally have issues with him). Kind of looking forward to how the rest of this show plays out and still wondering what they have in mind for an end game.

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Okay, I Guess

The Royal Tutor (Episode 4)

Last week I said that I wasn’t really interested in this show, but episode 4 finally feels like we’ve past the introductions and I did find myself quite enjoying this episode. It still isn’t really my kind of thing, but it has its own appeal and this week I found quite a few sweet or funny moments to enjoy. Unless it takes a serious nose dive in quality, this one may end up in the usually entertaining category because even though it really isn’t my thing, it is working hard to win me over.

Granblue Fantasy (Episode 4)

Last week I said, “There’s no reason for me to drop this but little reason to recommend it”. I’m just going to leave that as my description of the show at this point. It is working well enough but it isn’t exactly great.

The Laughing Salesman (Episode 4)

This has pretty much settled here. It is okay to watch and fun while its on but it isn’t exactly blowing me away with any particular element. It is 20 minutes each week I will enjoy and then I’ll probably forget about it until the next week.

Grimoire of Zero (Episode 3)

It didn’t get any worse this week, and as an individual episode the third one was probably the most interesting. However, the world and overall plot of this story remain pretty flat and as I am only passingly interested in the characters there really isn’t a lot of appeal in this show. Still sounds like it should be far more interesting than it is.

Alice & Zoroku (Episode 4)

I realised that at this point I don’t care about this show or its characters. There’s a tiny part of me still vaguely curious about where they are going with this whole dreams of Alice thing which is why I haven’t dropped this, but I’m not emotionally invested in the slightest. This realisation came as I watched twenty minutes of a young girl being treated cruelly after being kidnapped and not once did I care about whether she was rescued or not. I legitimately felt nothing for her plight. This one may not survive the whole season because usually this level of detachment comes right before I start making excuses to avoid watching the next episode.

The Silver Guardian (Episode 4)

This finally clawed its way out of the ‘They Made This’ category as it finally looks like they are actually going to tell the story they promised us at the start of episode 1. All and all, episode 4 was a pretty interesting episode (not great by any means but compared to episodes 2 and 3 it was pretty good). If the show actually builds from there it might even become passably entertaining.

Sword Oratoria (Episode 3)

Sword Oratoria is dangerously close to hitting the ‘They Made This’ category, because really, why did they make this? They’ve given us no new perspective on Ais, there’s no actual plot being constructed yet, the events that have been retold have been less satisfying from the new viewpoint, and even if we ignore that this is a spin off and simply view it as an entirely new show, it is still flat and uninteresting. The couple of seconds of entertainment that you gain from seeing Bell or hearing a line from the original show, does not make up for the rest of the episode.

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They Made This

Nothing at the moment that I’m watching.

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Tried and Dropped

Tsukigakirei (Episode 2)

Eromanga Sensei (Episode 2)

Armed Girls Machiavellism (Episode 2)

Sakura Quest (Episode 1)

Love Tyrant (Episode 1)

Clockwork Planet (Episode 1)

And now the shows have made their initial impressions and are pushing on with their stories. Which plot has you most interested this season?


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 4

Reivew:

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

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

TitanS2E4

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

TitanS2E4b

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

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

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Spring 2017 Week 3

The Spring season continues to be entertaining, which is great afer the relatively slow Winter season. My list is pretty much consolidated now though there are still a handful of shows that I’m not convinced I’ll watch through to the end. That said, I have 15 shows at the moment that I’m going to be reviewing episodically this season. Looking forward to what everyone else has decided to follow.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts on the shows this season so please leave a comment below.

yuri10d

Must Watch

Natsume Yuujincho 6 (Episode 2)

So sweet. Okay, I loved this episode as it kind of touched on everything I love about the Natsume series and following on from such a great first episode, this season is really starting well. Absolutely love this series.

Kado: The Right Answer (Episode 3)

This show is definitely in no rush to move the plot along. It is taking its time with each scene and the waiting in between. Rather than finding this dull or boring, I’m actually finding that it is adding to the tension of watching. There’s so many answers you are waiting for and hoping the next conversation will reveal. While not everyone is going to love the pace of this, there’s a fairly compelling story being set up here.

The Eccentric Family Season 2 (Episode 2)

Episode 2 introduces yet more characters and plot threads into the mix and this really feels like it is going to go the same path as season 1 where lots of ideas slowly develop before coming together at the end (or at least lets hope they do). Pretty much is you enjoyed the humour and tone of season 1, season 2 is much the same (which means I’m having a lot of fun with it so far).

Attack on Titan Season 2 (Episode 4)

Okay, it took 4 episodes but Attack on Titan is getting better each week. The slow start to this season is paying off as more and more pieces are coming together and the show is finding its pacing and tone. I really enjoyed episode 3 and episode 4 was better. Hoping this can maintain for the remainder of the season. Plus, the opening song is finally growing on me.

days11

Usually Entertaining

Sagrada Reset (Episode 3)

Given my episode review on this took me clear over 500 words and I still wasn’t sure I’d said everything I wanted to and given right now I’m desperately awaiting the next episode, I had to move this up the list. It isn’t highly recommendable given the incredibly slow pace and unrelatable characters, but I’m really enjoying picking at the mysteries being presented and still trying to piece together where this story is going. Part of me kind of wishes they’d started with episode 3 and just filled in some of the blanks rather than having us sit through the first two episode before jumping two years.  This episode really got the story moving and while the characters still have as much personality as your standard talking toaster, when they are surrounded by intrigue you can kind of get behind the pair.

My Hero Academia Season 2 (Episode 17)

I’m feeling that while I’m going to mostly enjoy watching this season, a common complaint is going to be whether or not we actually needed to watch something. There are so many scenes and conversations where I just have to wonder what they are adding to overall character development or plot and mostly they aren’t. They are just there getting us from A to B but we could have easily skipped straight over it and just figured out that a conversation or a scene had happened without watching it. Still, it is good fun even if it isn’t the most compelling viewing.

WorldEnd (Episode 2)

This second episode wasn’t bad, but it definitely had a lot more work to do filling in story than episode 1, and as a result, it wasn’t as interesting. That said, there is still quite a bit of promise in this show and I’m hoping now that its gotten through some of its explanations we can move forward.

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Okay, I Guess

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor (Episode 3)

So this went from the bottom of this category to the to and if it keeps going I may have to move it to usually entertaining. The various fights around the school were well done with enough variety that it didn’t feel like Glenn was just pulling the same trick on each villain. Admittedly, that final win was a bit convenient, but it is only episode 3 so I guess you can’t go killing off your title character.

Sword Oratoria (Episode 2)

And down it goes. To be honest, I enjoyed this episode less than the episodes of Alice & Zoroku and Granblue Fantasy, however Sword Oratoria still gets a few points for being a spin-off of a show I loved. Still, once we get past episode 3 if the series hasn’t managed to find its own feet (or anything of interest to present) I can see this show diving well to the bottom of my watch list. This second episode was almost painfully dull to watch as it contained everything I didn’t like about DanMachi and none of things I did enjoy.

Alice & Zoroku (Episode 3)

Right, so this is staying on my watch list but it is pretty ordinary. The ideas are good (or at least interesting) but the narrative and tone aren’t settling as we jump around and it makes the viewing experience less than thrilling. I get some people will be enjoying this more but I’m finding myself bored during the comedic stretches and less than impressed with the attempts at drama.

Granblue Fantasy (Episode 4)

Last week I said, “There’s no reason for me to drop this but little reason to recommend it”. I’m just going to leave that as my description of the show at this point. It is working well enough but it isn’t exactly great.

The Laughing Salesman (Episode 3)

I don’t think this will ever come up on my list of must watch anime and even saying it is entertaining is a stretch. What it does is formulaic cautionary tales but there’s something satisfying about watching it. The visuals aren’t great (but they are consistent), and with the exception of the Salesman there aren’t any recurring characters so character development is non-existent. That said, this is twenty minutes of viewing where I can switch off and happily watch and let the story just kind of roll over me and sometimes that’s enough to get out of a show.

Grimoire of Zero (Episode 2)

This one is slowly moving downward. There’s still a possibility that after it gets through these early episodes it will pick up, but to be honest, I’m not very impressed so far. It really sounds like it should be more fun than it is.

The Royal Tutor (Episode 3)

The Royal Tutor isn’t badly done. It’s perfectly nice to look at, the jokes are there and only a few are actually cringe worthy, and the characters are slowly but surely taking shape. That said, I am watching this with about as much interest as I watch the sports section of the morning news at this point, which is I’ll sit through it because it is there but barely remember it once it leaves the screen. One more episode (I say this week and probably for the next three weeks after that).

The Silver Guardian (Episode 4)

This finally clawed its way out of the ‘They Made This’ category as it finally looks like they are actually going to tell the story they promised us at the start of episode 1. All and all, episode 4 was a pretty interesting episode (not great by any means but compared to episodes 2 and 3 it was pretty good). If the show actually builds from there it might even become passably entertaining.

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They Made This

Nothing at the moment that I’m watching.

gangsta6

Tried and Dropped

Tsukigakirei (Episode 2)

Eromanga Sensei (Episode 2)

Armed Girls Machiavellism (Episode 2)

Sakura Quest (Episode 1)

Love Tyrant (Episode 1)

Clockwork Planet (Episode 1)

Week 3 over – what made it onto your watch list for the season?


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 3

Review:

Sometimes this show gets its logic just right. While I still think my theory that the people in Connie’s town turned into titans is sound (and nothing this episode refuted that even overly optimistic girl) the group continued onto the wall to look for a hole. At that moment I started thinking if the villagers turned into titans there wouldn’t necessarily be one. And sure enough not long after group coming down the wall one way runs into group going the other along the wall and neither group found a hole.

TitanS2E3
It’s unbelievable that you can say this with a straight face because even if the villagers had actually fled, it’s unlikely they outran Titans.

This episode sets up quite a lot. The scouts by the wall for some reason take refuge in a castle ruin (why there is a ruin inside the walls where space is short is still something I’d question) and as soon as they set up there I just kept thinking death trap. End of the episode, they are besieged by Titans and half of them don’t have any gear or weapons. Awesome. Hange and Armin continue to theorise about Titans from limited and incomplete knowledge but at least they are trying to use their heads and the end of the episode sees them, Eren and Mikasa heading to the castle (though they don’t actually know that the other guys are there or that the Titans are attacking it). This could be an interesting next episode.

Also, Beast Titan makes a brief cameo doing a King Kong over the wall.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Spring 2017 Week 2

While there are still a handful of shows I’m sitting on the fence about, for the most part I know what I’m going to watch for the season and I’ll have a final list by next week. One thing I know is that I am more excited about the possibilities for a lot of shows this season than I was during the Winter season so I’m really hoping they live up to their potential.

I’ve loved reading everyone else’s initial impressions of Spring. Seems like a lot of shows have been very hit and miss for some people with some raving over them and others instantly walking away, but there’s a lot of great conversations happening as people share their views and make their choices. Looking forward to watching the rest of the season and following along as others watch their shows of choice.

As always, I would love to know your thoughts on the shows this season so please leave a comment below.

yuri10d

Must Watch

Natsume Yuujincho 6 (Episode 1)

This is kind of no-brainer given I’ve already watched 5 seasons of it. This is my total relax/calming show and I love watching the characters as they go about their lives. This first episode does exactly what you would expect of Natsume (and if you haven’t watched the previous seasons you should really give them a go). I know Natsume is unlikely to be my best show of the season (it’s a little too low key for that) but I’m starting it here because this show just makes me so happy.

Kado: The Right Answer (Episode 2)

The complaint I made last time about little actual progress probably remains, however, I was really into this episode and felt profoundly disappointed when it ended. The show has definitely set up some good intrigue during these first episodes, whether it continues until the end of the series is another story, but for now this stays a must watch.

The Eccentric Family Season 2 (Episode 1)

While this show is a bit different for me (slice of life following a tanuki with a heavy comedy focus) I can’t deny that I found season 1 thoroughly charming. Season 2’s first episode delivers more of the same though offers little to anyone not already familiar with the characters or story so far given it provides almost no recap and only very briefly introduces the characters before plunging straight into a new conflict.

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Usually Entertaining

WorldEnd (Episode 1)

I know that isn’t the full title but forget that; there’s no way I’m typing that every week. Anyway, this is almost a cute overload but somehow managed to land on the charming side with just enough intrigue that I’ll ignore the couple of innuendos that made me wince and the clear cliché riddled territory we seem to be heading into for episode 2. I really enjoyed this first episode so hopefully it can continue to charm.

Attack on Titan Season 2 (Episode 3)

Attack on Titan might even make it to a must watch if it keeps actually investigating some of the mysteries and inconsistencies in the world that appeared in season 1. Season 1 was very action focussed and reactionary, which while spectacular left me feeling a little over it by the end. Season 2 so far seems to be trying to fill in some of the gaps in the world building as well as build some fairly decent mystery into the story. That said, it could all come tumbling down again and we could go back to shouting characters and violence, which is still entertaining but not must see.

Sword Oratoria (Episode 1)

As much as I was excited for this title and a return to this world, the protagonist of this spin-off is boring. Okay, she fights well with a sword and they are definitely setting up tragic backstory for her, but that doesn’t make her any more interesting to watch and clearly the show knows it given how little screen time she got in the first episode (one scene she got was a bath scene where she mostly just stood moping in water). Still loving the world and the dungeon in this series, really excited to see some familiar faces, but if this is going to move higher on the list then the Ais is going to have to step up.

My Hero Academia Season 2 (Episode 16)

Midoriya still hasn’t used his quirk but they did manage to give us that sense of over the top fun in episode 16 that  I enjoyed during season 1. So while I’m still a bit critical of the direction this is going, I had a smile on my face during most of episode 16. Hopefully the show can consistently give us more of these moments.

Sagrada Reset (Episode 2)

I just don’t know. Something interesting happened toward the end of episode 2, which shook the episode from just kind of going through the motions to being genuinely intriguing but the slow pace of the delivery and the robotic characters are going to wear thin sooner rather than later. Plus, why do we now have a 2 year time skip? Okay, I just don’t know. I’m intrigued more than entertained and I’m not yet ready to drop this one down any further but I’m not sure I’d recommend this as a watch to anyone.

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Okay, I Guess

Grimoire of Zero (Episode 1)

While there was nothing wrong with this as a first episode it just wasn’t particularly exciting. A lot of exposition and introductions with a vague set up for the story. Despite that, there’s certainly the possibility of this getting quite interesting (or becoming really generic). We’ll see how it goes.

Alice & Zoroku (Epsidoe 2)

Episode 2 is leaning firmly toward a cutesy slice of life style and while the poor CG was gone, the animation isn’t anything to write home about. There’s nothing really wrong with being cute or slice of life, but I’m not overly interested in it. That said, I am still wanting to know a bit more about these dreams of Alice so from a curiosity point of view I’m not dropping this just yet.

Granblue Fantasy (Episode 3)

Generic and ordinary seem to be the buzz words for this show. Nothing wrong with episode 3 but no real excitement or anything of interest either (which you know we have swords, magic, airships and an entire army in this episode so why can’t it be exciting). There’s no reason for me to drop this but little reason to recommend it.

The Laughing Salesman (Episode 2)

Mindless was a good description of this last week as this week rolls out another two stories that pretty much follow the same formula established in episode 1. I think we’re going to need something to shake things up in episode 3 or I may not make it to episode 4.

The Royal Tutor (Episode 2)

Really my opinion of this hasn’t changed much. It is perfectly watchable but definitely not my usual genre and a lot of the comedy is missing the mark for me. I’m interested enough to go a third episode but this one is definitely heading toward being dropped.

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor (Episode 2)

Why didn’t they start with this? Okay, I still hate the main character and given the outfits the girls are in and the fact that we’ve had an attempted rape 2 episodes in isn’t promising, but this second episode actually seemed to realise it was supposed to do more than just roll out lazy clichés and kind of delivered a semi-compelling plot in amongst the less desirable parts. And tragically it introduced an idea about magic just interesting enough that dropping this is more or less off the table for now.

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They Made This

The Silver Guardian (Episode 3)

Pretty much this has become predictable but watchable nothingness. There’s not a single thing to recommend it from the three episodes it has aired, but there isn’t really any reason to hate it either. It just kind of is.

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Tried and Dropped

Tsukigakirei (Episode 2)

This is actually quite a good show and if you are into slow, middle school romances with shy lead characters it is worth checking out. That said, it isn’t my thing and the characters didn’t quite interest me enough to stay on board.

Eromanga Sensei (Episode 2)

While the first episode was kind of enjoyable even while there were some jokes that were a bit uncomfortable, episode 2 from minute 1 decides that having a cute girl discuss male anatomy and a younger sister throw a tantrum like a 2 year old is good enough for laughs. While the episode may have been getting to a point, I honestly don’t care.

Armed Girls Machiavellism (Episode 2)

Kind of figured this would end up here sooner or later. Unlike Akashic Records, the second episode of this is pretty happy to continue in the same tone as episode 1 which means it isn’t doing much other than bath scenes and various innuendos interspersed with some generic comedy and action.

Sakura Quest (Episode 1)

Love Tyrant (Episode 1)

Clockwork Planet (Episode 1)

And that is week 2 finished. Which show has surprised you the most so far?


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Friday’s Feature: Betraying My Own Expectations as a Viewer

Admittedly, this is not so much a feature as a ramble.

If you were to ask me directly what kind of anime I liked and didn’t like most of my regular readers already know that I would put comedy, slice of life, and cute girls doing anything pretty much on the side of generally not liked and horror and darker anime on the side of anime I quite enjoy. Shounen titles and drama tend to fall somewhere in the middle depending on their focus.

So imagine my surprise as I began the process of finalising my picks for reviewing this Spring and realised quite an odd trend. With the exception of Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia (both of which are only medium priority because while I’ll enjoy them well enough neither one had a first season that I would add to my list of favourite anime ever – with these I watch, I enjoy, I move on) the majority of the titles I’ve picked are pretty low key and there’s a lot of cute going on. Though I will admit I’m not even going to try to classify Kado at this point because I have no idea what that is going to become.

Starting with the sequels: I’ve got Natsume Yuujinchou which can only be described as a slice of life with a supernatural paint job just to give me enough justification to say that I’m watching a fantasy rather than a slice of life (it’s a slice of life, I’ve more or less accepted that) and then The Eccentric Family which is much the same. Slice of life with a supernatural paint job. Just for an added weirdness, The Eccentric Family relies heavily on comedy and for some reason I still didn’t run for the hills but actually loved the first season.

The other two titles I’ve pretty much decided on are both fantasy. I’ll insist that forever but both of them also feature healthy doses of cute girls and other suspiciously cute characters and objects. Granblue Fantasy and WorldEnd have both given me enough reason to smile while watching that I’m going to continue. I don’t know if I’ll end up regretting those choices but for now it seems like a reasonable call.

Admittedly, I still have a whole bunch of other titles to decide on before I have a final list, but there’s an interesting number of comedy, slice of life and cute coming through this season. Meanwhile, some of the more action focussed shows have been pretty bland (through to awful) in their first episodes and in terms of horror there’s pretty much nothing going on (The World Yamizukan did not appeal).

Sagrada

Of course, this is why I don’t make a watch list before the season starts. Just because something ticks a genre box doesn’t mean I’m going to like it and if I didn’t at least try some of these other shows I really would miss out on things that I end up loving.

I watched the first episode of Natsume after seeing a random screen cap of one of the yokai in the show. I remember the feeling of being disappointed as the soft music played and the pastel colours filled the screen. Then I remember getting to the end of the first episode and immediately skipping to episode 2. And then binge watching the whole first season in a single afternoon.

Add to this the fact that I kind of enjoyed the first episode of Eromanga Sensei and either my taste has completely warped recently or some of these first episodes managed to execute ideas I would normally find repellent in an interesting manner (of course that doesn’t bode well for me finishing the season).

Spring 2017 is going to be a weird season for me in terms of reviewing and I’m still not sure what my final list looks like but hopefully it will be fun discussing all of the shows with everyone.


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 2

Review:

From an action point of view, not a lot happened this episode. We probably should have expected that given how many characters are not currently geared up for a fight. Sasha, however, manages to shine. Through flashbacks of her past we learn a bit more about our food obsessed character and then we see her taken an axe to a Titan, even knowing that realistically there’s no real way for that to be effective. Still, Sasha manages well enough for someone practically unarmed and then poorly armed given the threat (and let’s just be happy there was only one Titan because otherwise this would be really hard to swallow). Eren, Levi and co get a small moment in this episode but they aren’t the focus and it is more like the show is just reminding us they exist and the final moments of the episode are given to Connie who is having a less than fantastic return to his home village. It does look like next episode is going to crank up the action a bit from the preview, but I actually really liked this episodes focus on Sasha.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Visually Appealing Anime Titles

One thing  I learned absolutely while trying to write this list is I have a clear taste when it comes to how a series title should look on screen. Basically anime titles fall into three categories for me. Completely forgettable, eye-sore, or nailed it. There’s very little middle ground. The ones in the list below are titles that stuck in my mind long after I finished watching the show. They are iconic without being crazy busy with details. More importantly, they fit the show that they are preparing you for. As always this list is very subjective so I’d love to hear your choices on anime titles that have visual appeal and why in the comments below.

Please Note – Probably no spoilers this week.

Honourable mentions go to: Vampire Knight, Blood Lad and Tsubasa Chronicles. Though from more recent titles, 91 Days was pretty impressive and probably deserves a spot on the list below.

Number 5: Sailor Moon (1990’s)

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Alright, it doesn’t look like much these days but back when I first saw this anime the opening song and the final shot with the girls striking a pose behind the title really left an impression. You have the main cast, including the cats (even before all the characters were introduced so you knew who was coming), you’ve got the crescent moon in both the sky and behind the title, you have the love heart over the I, and the weird spot light on the scouts with the rest of the background detail left kind of hazy but still quite pretty. By my tastes today, I probably wouldn’t think too much of this title, but the lingering impression it left forced me to concede this title serves an absolute purpose in appealing to the target audience of the show so it deserved a place on my list.

Number 4: Another

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There’s definitely something to be said about simplicity and Another get’s it right. Basic red on black is pretty standard, particularly for horror, but the letter design and arrangement, all just that little bit off, adds to the general creepiness of what you are about to watch.

Number 3: Evangelion

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When I first thought of this topic for a list, I believed Evangelion would end up being my number 1 choice however when I looked closely at each of the titles in my short list, it just didn’t quite measure up. Much like Sailor Moon, this one has the advantage of me watching it when I hadn’t watched a lot of anime, and it left a lasting impression so even as I look critically at it now, I remember the genuine sense of excitement that title used to invoke in me. Okay, it’s simple text but the colour choice and composition are striking enough to draw you in and the general feeling of a whole bunch of things mashed together kind of fits the story you watch unfold.

Number 2: Attack on Titan

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I’ll be the first person to admit, I’m not actually that big of a fan of Attack on Titan. I really enjoyed it and the first episode really did make me sit up and take notice but by the end of season one I found the whole thing to be slowly losing momentum. That doesn’t stop the title being very visually appealing and the promotional posters for this anime, with the title centred and the whole thing causing our eyes to sweep from Eren in the front all the way to the looming giant at the top just works (incidentally this one promotional poster that came with a DVD that I actually have up on a wall because I really enjoy looking at it). The title itself isn’t the most flashy, but it is distinct enough in its choice of font that it is instantly recognisable on any of the promotional materials and is hard to miss when you run your eyes over the spines of many DVD’s.

Number 1: Bleach

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Okay, don’t start prepping all your reasons why I am wrong. This title screams what the show is, which is larger than life. More importantly, this basic text title with it’s red, white and blue colour scheme is absolutely recognisable and stands out from the crowd. The flames out the side frame it perfectly. The whole thing is fun and not taking itself overly seriously while at the same time making you feel there’s something more to it.

Bleach actually gets a double hit here because in addition to the series title being iconic every single episode gets it’s own eye-catching thematically appropriate episode title screen. Preparing you for the episode to come in both subject matter and tone (even if you don’t get it when you see it at the start of the episode by the end you’ll know exactly why the title looked like that). Eventually I’ll do a top 5 list of episode titles for Bleach because they have some very cool designs.

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Alright, over to you. What anime titles have grabbed your attention?


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Attack On Titan Season 2 Episode 1

Overview:

I think everyone knows the story but in case you have somehow managed to avoid it, humanity is living in fear behind three walls and in season 1 the titans broke through one of the walls and chaos ensued. Then they found out some people can turn into titans and now they are super paranoid about spies. Season 2 picks up right after the final fight of season 1 so watch season 1 first if you haven’t.

Review:

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Everyone in this show continues to yell or be super dramatic or completely defeatist. And while we get that humanity is on the brink of extinction and tension is high, it is very hard at times to want to see the human race saved when watching this show. Actually, the best moments come when they are losing horribly to the titans. That said, if this had come out immediately on the heels of season 1, it would have fared better. It is interesting and a good continuation of where the story was, but this episode doesn’t have a lot of bang in it so if they were hoping to recapture that sense of wow that hit us with season 1 it kind of failed.

The second half of the episode delivers a good fight and a really interesting encounter with a new kind of titan (with predictable results but if you are in the show for the gore you’ll be happy) but again, it didn’t have quite the same impact of that first titan peering over the wall. Speaking of, and I know I made this criticism about My Hero Academia as well, what is with the opening theme? I remember how blown away I was by the music in season 1 and how hyped just hearing it could make me. This one… I’m not even sure the visuals go with it.

Anyway, I enjoyed this episode and it is entertaining enough (though a lot of the main characters had very little to do this episode). The show crippled itself with the long delay and I’m thinking they better build this quickly if they don’t want people to be over it, but if you actually enjoyed the story of season 1, this nicely picks up from where we left off.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Attack on Titan Series Review

Overview:

Eren Yeager has grown up in a city surrounded by walls. Three in fact and they are the only things keeping the titans (really large humanoid monsters) from eradicating what is left of humankind. However, Eren wants out of the city. Then, a titan breaches the gate and Eren’s world comes crumbling down. Training as a soldier, Eren eventually gets to fight against the titans.

Review:

Attack on Titan is another one of those shows that will blow you away with the opening. The music, the action sequences, the sheer horror and visual feast presented in episode 1 just kind of freeze you in place glued to the screen. It hits every nerve and makes you just sit and take it in. And that high emotion can carry you clear to the end of this first series if you let it. However, what you find when you step back from those emotions is that while Attack on Titan is amazing in so many ways, there are some issues sitting beneath it that just continue to threaten to unravel your viewing experience.

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Firstly, I have to be honest and point out that I fell in love with this series in minutes of watching the first episode. I rewatched that first episode so many times I lost count, but it kind of did everything you would ever want from a first episode in an anime. We met the characters, knew what the threat was, and felt that threat. We weren’t just told titans were bad or scary. We saw them literally tear Eren’s world apart and lay waste to the town. It wasn’t the gore that sold this episode (although visually it is quite confronting). It is the way we see this destruction from the multiple perspectives. We see it from Eren’s point of view as he is helpless to save his mother. We see other characters who are either running or hiding or crying or trying to fight and failing. We get down and personal with them even though we only know some of these characters for a short space of time. But we also see the bigger picture. We get the sweeping shots of the city and the overhead view. We see the titans looking down at the fleeing humans and you can’t help but see ants scurrying from the rain. It’s an intense first episode and sets up a world and a conflict that are inherently interesting and clear.

The rest of season one maintains this clarity of titans bad but it does spend a lot of time muddying its own waters by building in multiple human conspiracies. While this is not necessarily a problem in terms of narrative, and is in fact needed unless all you want is human vs monster conflict, the issue is that very few of the characters in Attack on Titan are anything more that the mouth-piece of whatever ideal is needed in that setting. Actually, if we are honest, most of the characters shout. A lot. Repeatedly. I really, really wish some of these characters would stop shouting (Eren particularly).

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Possibly if these sub-plots (although it kind of feels like some of these human conflicts are going to end up being fairly important to the main plot) had been handled better or if the characterisation had been up to it this could have been a really interesting way to flesh out the world established in episode 1. Instead it all feels like clutter and a distraction from something that was infinitely more interesting.

By the time we get out of the city with Eren (okay, and Levi who is probably the coolest character I’ve come across in a modern action anime) the level of excitement has gone down significantly but this is where they start turning that around. The speed at which the extras get knocked off in this sequence (even though they are apparently trained for this) is disheartening (which I think is the point given we’ve kind of been led to believe they have a chance and this clearly shows they don’t). At every stage after this you get the distinct impression that these characters are well out of their depth and that sense of shared helplessness really helps drive home the drama as they struggle against the fate of dying without accomplishing their goals.

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Of course, there’s no getting around the elephant in the room. It didn’t end and then season 2 got pushed back and back. Season 2 is meant to come out this year so let’s hope but at the moment no matter how amazing an experience you had with Attack on Titan all you’ve been left with are questions, spin-offs and adaptations.

I know I haven’t spent a lot of time on characters. There are actually some pretty cool characters in this story but all of their character journey’s have been cut short at this point and time due to the story just stalling. So I’ll do a better review of the series as a whole once I know where they go. That and any of the extras we meet are likely to just get eaten anyway.

Essentially if you like action with high stakes and a bit of horror, aren’t turned off by gore, and you don’t mind characters who aren’t fully realised, then Attack on Titan will amaze you. It’s beautiful, fast paced, and dramatic and when it is at its best it truly shines and those moments will carry you over the slower bits. If we actually get a continuation that matches the feel and quality of season 1 then this could be a very memorable anime. Otherwise I think it is one of those ones that had its moment in the sun but without finishing won’t have staying power.


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