Iron Blooded Orphans Episode 49

Review:

Orga’s death hits Tekkadan hard but Mikazuki actually takes some initiative, even if he is just using Orga’s words to rally the others followed by the blunt threat of violence. I’m not sure if this counts as development or not but it is more proactive than we have seen Mikazuki before.

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Spoilers below.

Someone finally killed McGillis. Seriously, that needed to happen episodes ago. He was a pathetic character and once his grand plan was revealed to be pretty much nothing his existence had become pretty superfluous. His death was fortunately not particularly grandiose nor did it have much impact on any of the events still in motion which is kind of the inconsequential death he deserved at that point.

Anyway, pretty much the guys from Tekkadan that we still actually know the names of are out buying time while everyone else hopefully escapes. Given Hush has already died and the others are well out-numbered I’m wondering what the final count will be next episode and whether or not the others will actually escape or if all of this is all for nothing.

Iron Blooded Orphans is available on AnimeLab.


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Hand Shakers Episode 12

Review:

This show and I do not mesh but this is the toned down version of the rant because the first draft was unpublishable in every sense of the word.

So, let’s just fight, a lot, with attacks we’ve never seen before and don’t know the rules of so don’t really have any reason to feel tension about who might win the battle. Let’s interspersed that with some nonsensical dialogue. Random action that somehow leads to victory, maybe (honestly I tuned out when they started flying around without using the gears with no apparent explanation). Exposition dump from formerly mute character explaining information we don’t care about because why would we when we’ve only just met these two characters and so far have been given no reason to care. This question from Tazuna:

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And somehow that’s the end. Let’s smile. Lots of voice overs reminding us they were supposed to find god somewhere in here but if this is a hint of a second season I’m kind of hoping the final line, “Just kidding” was serious. Full review coming in the future though no surprises about what it will say. The only question I’ve still got is why on Earth did this ever get made?

Hand Shakers is available on Crunchyroll.


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Hand Shakers Episode 11

Review:

So some of the missing pieces were explained, through a heavily narrated way too long flashback sequence. You know when ACCA decided to give us the backstory, they gave it to us from the perspective of an interesting character and we gained more of an understanding of the world and the characters we were already interested in. When Hand Shakers does it, we get a talk fest with characters we barely care about, and other than filling in one or two of the more ridiculous plot holes, it adds nothing. I don’t have any more understanding about Koyori now than I did before seeing her childhood (other than that she was born in the Ziggurat which at least explains why she’ll die if she loses). But that could have been conveyed in about five minutes rather than the entire episode.

And then we get the wonderful speech about how we’re not afraid and we can win because we’re together. Isn’t every pair of hand shakers together? Doesn’t that mean none of them should ever lose if that’s all it takes to win?

Anyway, getting closer to the end of this.

Hand Shakers is available on Crunchyroll.


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Iron Blooded Orpahns Episode 46

Review:

Shino’s death hits hard (you know, unlike the other half the cast that already died, we actually cared about Shino) and after the dust of the battle settles (or, rather Tekkadan and co scurry away to potential safety) we get the regret, the lamentation and the half-hearted I’m glad you didn’t die speeches. Yamagi offers the only purely positive moment when he esssentially tells Orga to get over himself and find some way to salvage the situation (or at least pretend it can be salvaged).

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The thing is, its all kind of meaningless at this juncture. Emotional investment in the boys from Tekkadan faded after season 1 when random new recruits and kids who hadn’t been through the same experiences joined (essentially, the group got too big to see as individuals anymore). And so far in this battle, Shino is the only significant casualty and it was so heavily foreshadowed and locked into place so early in the battle it was hardly stunning or in anyway surprising. The only surprise is the lack of core characters being dead.

By the way, if the comment about Atra looking different means she’s pregnant I’m truly terrified by her chances of survival. She’s about the only character at this point that I do care significantly about in terms of whether they make it to the end of this battle and I’m more or less ready to assume this show is going for pure tragedy given the position we find the characters in.

Iron Blooded Orpahns is available on AnimeLab.


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Hand Shakers Episode 9

Review:

Visually this episode went to a new low on the completely ugly side of things and instead of anything resembling actual plot progression we get an extended fight with the villain from last week (which almost makes you wonder why they didn’t just wrap the fight up then). A few pressing questions came to mind while watching this.

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Why are his parents suddenly acting like parents?

Why is Koyori suddenly speaking?

Why does Koyori need a transformation sequence given none of the other Hand Shakers needs one?

Maybe it is because I watched this while feeling really unwell, but to be honest this wasn’t even amusingly bad anymore. It was just kind of tedious to watch.

Hand Shakers is available on Crunchyroll.


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Iron Blooded Orphans Episode 45

Review:

This episode is essentially the battle that we’ve been heading towards for quite awhile. Though with so little reason to care given Tekkadan threw themselves willingly into the hopeless conflict, McGillis’ plan was pretty much nothing, and given none of the other players have mattered in the slightest, essentially this is just watching bits of metal beat and shoot each other into space debris. Even the known character who died at the end of the episode couldn’t really create an emotional response given again, his death was so obvious and he willingly threw himself at it. While I genuinely had a great time watching season 1, season 2 of this show has been mostly tedious and to be honest I really don’t care who wins this battle or who survives. Still don’t want Atra to die but I’m struggling to see how she’s going to survive at this point.

Iron Blooded Orphans is available on AnimeLab.


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Hand Shakers Episode 6

Review:

You know, there has been a lot of criticism of this anime but other than being ugly, having extremely long moments of exposition that explain nothing, a goal that makes no sense, and two characters that are about as interesting as watching paint dry, there hasn’t been anything too broken about this show. And yet, episode 6… Where do you even start?

I’m not even going to comment on the not one, or two, but three mesh comments this week. I promise. It isn’t even worth it amongst all the other things wrong with this episode.

Instead, let me focus on the battle itself and why this is a definite issue for a show that is built around pairs battling.

Firstly, there is no point. You might get a wish? This is even worse than WIXOSS where you get a wish, it just isn’t carried out the way you want it to be.

Secondly, our main characters can’t lose. Unlike other shows where you can get one or two losses and then come back, one loss puts you out of this game and in Koyori’s case might kill her (if we can believe anything we’ve been told) and so our protagonists are absolutely guaranteed at least a draw if not victory.

Which brings us to thirdly, how is Tazuna not very crispy-fried after being hit by repeated on point, very strong (to the point of overkill) attacks? He should not have been able to launch his final attack because he should have been killed in the first round of flames, at the very least from the giant flaming hand that crushed half a building, or any of the other attacks launched at him that he failed to avoid, including the last one that just of delayed him before he sailed through the smoke and won the day.

Oh, and a fourthly, just for a bonus, why do they only need to take out one part of the pair and how do you know which one? Explanations, please?

I’m not dropping this. I am watching it through to the end if for no other reason than to write a feature about appalling story telling. But wow. That was bad.

Hand Shakers is available on Crunchyroll.


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Iron Blooded Orphans Episode 42

Review:

And so Tekkadan cuts ties with their allies and avenges the deaths of Naze and friends. Points for acting on emotions and drama but this is hardly a master plan and now things are unraveling fast. The fight was almost anti-climatic given the cowardice  and weakness of the enemy and really this whole situation was just a catalyst to push Tekkadan onto a path of no-return for the remainder of the series. However, even the show seemed to realise it had been awhile since we had some heavy handed reminders of where Tekkadan came from and why they were supposedly fighting, so cue some throw away dialogue about being human and a very brief reminder that human-debris are still a thing in the universe. This show is working but I’m definitely feeling like we’re going through the motions at this point rather than really experiencing the events.

Iron Blooded Orphans is available on AnimeLab.


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Hand Shakers Episodes 4 + 5

Review Episode 4:

Let’s get this out of the way. They are still abusing the word mesh in this show. We get it. He uses gears and likes to fix things. Please, someone rewrite his dialogue.

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However, I didn’t really have too many issues with this episode (beyond things that are just inherently part of the show and have already been pointed out to be terrible). My biggest issue with this episode is that they reveal a lot of information about how Hand Shakers enter Ziggurat and why they shouldn’t use their real name and the Professor is just like, oh I forgot. Did we not waste 10 minutes of episode 2 on exposition and in that time were we told anything useful? Why couldn’t this information have come then? If they did that, we could actually start moving this plot along a bit.

Though other than that, this episode is still pretty much the same as the other three before it so if you haven’t already dropped it and you didn’t either scream in aggravation or burst out laughing at the timing of this explanation then you are probably going to continue watching.

Review Episode 5:

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Yep, it’s another mesh comment. Help.

Anyway, the focus this week kind of seems to be the card games being played although it mostly seems like this is filler while we wait for Tazuna to have some cryptic conversation with someone who from what he says might be the ‘god’ they are possibly going to eventually get to challenge (who knows). Five minutes of dialogue between the two and mostly I was just bored and I have no desire to go back and listen again for whatever clues I may have missed.

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But no, the lowest point of this episode other than being mostly boring and pointless is probably Lily and her little brother. If they were trying to make us care about the upcoming conflict they have failed because I have no reason to like or care about either of these two and to be honest, I probably would have preferred knowing less about the both of them.

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Episode 5 is done but we finish all set up for a fight no one seems to want but they aren’t backing down from. Maybe we’ll learn something about Koyori or maybe we’ll just rinse and repeat the previous battle experiences.

Hand Shakers is available on Crunchyroll.


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Lostorage Incited WIXOSS Series Review

Overview:

Well if you’ve watched the Selector Infected WIXOSS then you already know the basics here even as Lostorage puts a new spin on the game. WIXOSS is a popular card game only some people are chosen to become Selectors which means for them the game has some very real consequences. I reviewed this week to week so if you are interested in my thoughts on individual episodes click here.

Review:

Firstly, I’m going to say that while this anime is technically a sequel it really doesn’t require you to have watched the previous seasons to know what is going on and that is because the game has changed anyway and we’re dealing with a whole new group of players who don’t have any experience with WIXOSS either so they’ll tell us what we need to know as we go. There are a few throw backs to the previous seasons and characters so people with familiarity will probably get a bit more out of some scenes than others, but it is not inaccessible to new comers. I think that is a very good thing because I enjoyed this a lot more than the previous seasons.

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Given the basic premise is about people being chosen to become Selectors and forced to play a game with high stakes (in this case loss of memories) but a promise of a wish being granted if they succeed is all pretty standard the show doesn’t spend a lot of time trying to justify its essential death game. Instead it focusses more on how the game disrupts the lives of those caught up in it and this makes it infinitely more interesting than if it spent episodes trying to explain the how and why of the game. Though, it would be nice if they gave the viewer a little bit more information about the game given there are times when it really feels like the players are pulling wins out of nowhere because we don’t understand the rules sufficiently to know if what they did was actually plausible. As I said though, it is more how the wins and losses impact upon the lives of those playing so maybe the show made the right choice all along.

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS continues the tradition of having a name that looks like it should mean something but ends up really just being three words mashed together and also continues the tradition of inflicting maximum emotional pain upon its characters. I could be wrong but I think this series actually had more happy endings than Selector Infected given there was only really one character I liked who did not ‘survive’ the games and I felt really, really bad for him.

The show follows Chinatsu and Suzuko who were friends once upon a time but now they’ve grown up and Suzuko has been away for awhile but has finally returned only to find that Chinatsu is very different these days. By ‘chance’ both of these girls become Selectors and essentially Chinatsu is working to erase Suzuko while Suzuko wants to try to save Chinatsu (even if Chinatsu is disinclined to being saved). Others inevitably get caught up in this conflict and we see how Chinatsu and Suzuko interact with other Selectors. Essentially Chinatsu becomes poison and almost everyone who interacts with her ends up regretting it whereas Suzuko may at first bring conflict but ultimately encounters with her lead to a reasonably positive outcome (at least comparatively).

What the show does well is really look at how people deal with things when they are really desperate. The impossible situation the characters are in when they have to find someone to battle before an arbitrary time limit comes to an end, the devastation of losing a memory when they lose a battle, and the possibility of losing everything if they lose all of their coins push these characters to their limits. Throw in the Bookmaker who first offers hope by promising to organise them a match so that they don’t hit the time limit, and then crushes that hope by deliberately pitting weaker players against strong in order to destroy them, and you have some really desperate characters who are clinging to anything to stay afloat.

This is not a perfect show. The game is poorly explained, some of the victories are really plot convenience (as are some of the losses), characters portray ideas rather than real characterisation at times, and the dialogue is hard to take seriously particularly mid-battle, but the show fundamentally works. It is dark but not depressing, it makes you question what you would do in the various situations characters find themselves in, and it makes you feel a sense of loss or triumph at the appropriate moments.

Of course there was the announcement of a follow up season even though I’m pretty sure these characters don’t have much left to offer so I’m hoping that any follow up gives us some new cast members because otherwise I’m not seeing much of a point.

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Anyway, if you didn’t watch Lostorage Incited WIXOSS during the Autumn season I would recommend this one to check out. It isn’t going to blow you away but it is a pretty enjoyable watch.


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