In/Spectre Episode 12 Review

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Irina 2020 4

Another week, another seasonal show down! As much as I enjoy doing these episode reviews, and I do! I’m looking forward to the little between season break. Whatever else I might have to say about In/Spectre, it did renew my love of both mysteries and Yokai. I hope there’s another show like it coming up next season. And that’s actually saying a lot.

This particular episode wrapped things up exactly as anyone would expect. Kuro and Kotoko defeated the Steel Lady in the manner we saw last week. Rikka backed off, erased the wiki and disappeared for now. Saki and Kuro put their past behind them and he explained that he still loves Rikka and she’s trying to create a god that would bring her back to normal.

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Then we finally got a few scenes of Kuro and Kotoko together. It was mostly relationship fanservice where we got to see that Kuro does in fact care for Kotoko a lot. It was very sweet. Anyone who was hoping for a bit of romance should be happy with this.

The season did a great job ending on a note that felt final and warped up all the immediate points nicely so that if it never continues, we still get a proper sense of closure and it feels like a complete story. But it also left enough questions unanswered and doors opened for a second season to easily get made without feeling redundant.

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As a series, I must say I don’t think I’ve seen anything with this much exposition since A Certain Magical Index. The adaptation from novel to anime was rather minimal and it sometimes felt like I was playing a visual novel with no choice options. That sounds a bit harsh. You should know that I love visual novels and I can certainly enjoy one with minimal interaction. And I think a lot of viewers can enjoy In/Spectre. I just don’t think the production really took full advantage of the potential of the medium. Or any advantage really.

Also, for me personally, I think In/Spectre was one of the shows that suffered the most from me experiencing it once a week instead of in a continuous flow. It made more repetitive episodes particularly annoying to sit through and broke my connection with the characters too much. This is one of the shows I tended to put off watching the most.

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Yest in spite of all this, I consistently enjoyed it. The worst I could say was that some episodes got a bit boring. But when it worked it was great and it made me smile more than once. For a random little show I had no expectations of, I think it did great. I would watch a second season. I would also get a Kotoko figure!

What did you guys think of In/Spectre. Would you watch a second season? Was it your favourite show of the winter? Do you want a cute Pokemon yokai to follow you around?

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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In/Spectre Episode 11 Review

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Irina 2020 4

We are now at episode 11 of In/Spectre and you will never guess what happened. OK spoilers so go watch Kotoko and friends if you’re not caught up with episode 11 and I’ll be right here. You’re all good now? No fear of spoilers? I can lay it all out? Good! This week, Kotoko monologued in a car while Saki made a few comments and Kuro fought with Nanase getting killed in some gruesome ways. I know! Who would have seen that one comming?

Ok, so I’m being a smart arse. I once again didn’t in fact dislike this episode but I reiterate my stance that one of the most delightful aspects of In/Spectre is the chemistry between Kuro and Kotoko and to me, it’s a shame that we didn’t get to see it for the past month or so.

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Otherwise, the episode was pretty much a rinse repeat of the last two. Just like the last two, I’m going to say right now that I didn’t hate but I’m also going to spend the rest of the post nitpicking so it might not be obvious. I’ll try to go the compliment sandwich route… So let’s start with some nitpick bread.

A while ago, I read from a movie critic that I quite like, that there will never bee a good realistic movie about hackers. Because the act of hacking is interesting in concept, it’s quite exciting to learn about or read about, but it’s rather boring to watch. In essence it’s simply watching someone type with nothing much going on on the screen. The only way to properly adapt it to a visual medium such as movies, is to inject some magical realism and try to illustrate the act in some way. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done is is often disblief hindering. I have a similar comment to make about Kotoko’s creepy pasta creation. Not to mention that everything needs to be narrated in order for it to make sense to the audience so by the end of it all, I felt like I would have enjoyed it more as a Light Novel. These particular scenes, which are the bulk of the latest episodes, just seem unsuited for adaptation, to me.

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I do like a lot of elements of Kotoko’s 4th solution, and specifically the detail of the body double having a different face. The most salient bit of information about Nanase’s murder is that her face was bashed in beyond recognition or identification. It’s so important that the missing face is a prominent feature of the Steel Lady. Picking a solution that makes this gruesome detail a key factor is a great idea and makes it more likely to stick in people’s heads.

There seems to be a disconnect between my observation of how internet culture evolves and what these writer’s think. First the attention span that would be needed for people (let’s call them fans) to follow along 4 different permutations of the Nanase myth, the equivalent of hours of reading, without loosing interest seems really unlikely to me. And no third party has injected their own theories? No super popular fanfic with Lady Nanase kidnapping an innocent schoolgirl and ending up in a twisted love story? That doesn’t sound like the internet I know! From my observation, the quickest and easiest way to kill the Steel Lady myth would have been to come up with the next pasta. How about a handsome young man killer with a tutored soul. Young ladies are great for creating online fandoms! Heck, they could have just slightly modified Kuro’s story and there you go…

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On the other hand, going with the notion that a celebrity that supposed to be dead is actually still alive is a tested and true classic. People love to believe in some form of immortality and I bet a lot of fans would have latched on to any story that makes a young, beautiful idol alive and living a crazy twisted double life, rather than just sadly gone forever. As an aside, whether Nanase is alive or dead, Kotoko has just painted her as a cold blooded murderer, staining her memory forever. Stone cold!

I’m not sure how changing the ghost to a beautiful idol serial killer would make the monster disappear. Flesh and blood serial killers have been a staple of horror stories and creepy pastas just as much as ghosts have been. And this one is full of fanservice. I would have thought that Kotoko’s story would have made the Steel Lady even stronger or maybe created a second one with a face. That would have been funny.

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One thing I can’t deny, it’s that this episode obviously made me think about the story and what’s going on. That’s always a sign the there was something there. Did you guys like it?

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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In/Spectre Episode 10 Review

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Irina 2020 4

You guys are going to have to bear with me a little bit longer. We’re all sending Karandi happy vibes and hope she gets well soon. I’m also playing catch up on my end so I might get closer to that 100 word mark in the upcoming reviews. Let’s see what we can do!

Last week I speculated that the following episodes of In/Spectre could turn out to be more or less repeats. That is, Kotoko has 4 stories to spin and she’s essentially doing so by speed writing creepy pasta in a parked car with Saki while Kuro fights Nanase.

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That’s all episode 9 was (there was a lot more talking than fighting), and Kotoko only managed to get through a single story so I wondered if we were just going to rinse repeat for the rest of the season.

And I still wonder that. This week really was more of the same, except that Kotoko managed to get through 2 stories…sort of. I’ll get back to it. Although I did like this week’s episode, I also sort of wandered away from the tv to get a snack without even really thinking about it. It became background noise at some point even though I wasn’t doing anything else. The characters and core premise are interesting and enjoyable enough to keep me coming back for more, and I would not hesitate to recommend In/Spectre to someone but I found the last two episodes less captivating and I think I know why.

First I think the universe of In/Spectre itself is far more interesting than the creepy pastas Kotoko is coming up with so I would rather they do an investigation or something. Second the episode really are getting repetitive. But mostly, for me at least. I think this specific format is wasting one of the series’ greatest strengths.

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What I mean is that in practice, Kuro is simply a background element. We cut to him a few times throughout the episodes to inject some movement as the other characters are completely stationary but they are really just transition scenes and he has no lines. Saki is staring at the scene and occasionally asks questions to drive the exposition just a bit more naturally but honestly it would make very little difference if she wasn’t there.

Kotoko for her part is sitting in the back seat and narrating her “solutions”. Sometimes we get a visual representation of her in the web but it’s a fairly flat visual without much variation or creativity so really what we’re meant to care about id the monologue. And that’s my issue, it’s a monologue. As in, it’s not a dialogue.

To me, one of the things In/Spectre does particularly well is creating chemistry between the characters. Particularly Kuro and Kotoko. As lovely as Kotoko is, and she is bestest girl, don’t get me wrong, she’s way more fun when she has someone else to play off of. I just miss the banter.

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Towards the end of the episode we did get something a bit different in the form of Rikka coming in to dispute Kotoko’s solutions. I get what they were going for here. A clash of titans. Two masterminds outwitting each other for an audience to marvel at their genius. The problem I have with this is that all of Kotoko’s stories immediately fall apart under scrutiny. The show itself admits this. So having someone poke holes at the theories really isn’t all that impressive or anything. It’s just sort of, well duh…

However, like I said, I didn’t dislike the episode so much as it didn’t grab my attention. It was a pleasant enough and I guess I could call it filler. I am still looking forward to the next episode but I am starting to get a touch impatient for the ladies to get out of that car already…

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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In/Spectre Episode 9 Review

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Irina 2020 4

I’m sure you’re all just as busy as we are but I hope you still have time to enjoy some anime. I’m always playing catch up with In/Spectre myself. I love the show but the Saturday afternoon air time is killing me and I usually end up catching it on Mondays which is not the best. Cause I’m tired and I have two other shows to watch.

Thankfully, I’m having a lot of fun with In/Spectre.

Here’s something I never talk about on my blog, I’m a huge fan of The Golden Compass (the book not the movie). The whole His Dark Materials series really. Hearing Kotoko explain how she is about to wield lies as both weapon and shield really reminded me of Lyra in the best way possible!

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This episode had a few highs and lows for me. Kotoko remains a delight and she was pretty much one maning this week. Don’t get me wrong, Saki and Kuro were there but they were mostly decorative and we only caught a glimpse of Rikka.

I really loved how Kotoko was essentially setting up Saki right under her nose and not even bothering to hide it. It was delightful and another little expression of Kotoko’s capricious and jealous nature.

I thought the alternative story Kotoko came up with for the captains murder was pretty reasonable and the inclusion of an unrequited lover storyline gives it some chance of surviving on the internet. People love shipping after all.

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For the lows, the alternative story (which took up most of the run time) was maybe a bit too believable. As in I wish it had been more outrageous or just a bit more fun. And the show itself mentioned that it was on the TL:DR side and then Kotoko went on to add another 20 minutes worth. Honestly, that was way too demanding for modern internet attention spans.

Throughout the episode I kept thinking that when they mentioned multiple rumours, I thought they would have different stories and not just keep adding or retconing the same story. By the end of the episode Kotoko does mention that this was in fact only story one of four. I’m not sure how to feel about that.

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Episode 9 of In/Spectre was more or less in real time. Kuro is fighting Nanase while Saki surveys the situation and Kotoko types out the spookypasta while narrating it for us viewers. I can believe that only a half hour passed in the reality of the show. I’m not sure if that means that the next three episodes are basically all going to be the same thing, with a different story from Kotoko.

That could in fact be pretty interesting but it could also get old. Of course there’s only one way to find out.

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For my part right now, I just really want to know why Rikka is doing this. We did have some vague story about her trying to find the limits of her power but I think there’s more to it than that. She has been presented as extremely gentle and kind. She doesn’t seem the type to murder a bunch of folks cause she’s curious…

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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In/Spectre Episodes 7 and 8 Review

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Episode 7

Irina 2020 4

Wow, we’re already at episode 7. More than half way through and most shows should be slowly making their way to the finale. The season sort of flew by. From the looks of it, InSpectre will be sticking to the steel lady Nanase storyline for the remainder of the current run and I’m pretty happy about that. A good suspense/mystery needs to build on itself. I was a bit afraid that they would be going on a “Yokai” of the week or two format but those fears proved unfounded.

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I wouldn’t have minded a yokai of the week format as I quite enjoy that particular style of story. That said, In/Spectre is offering us something else and that is a look at the difficulty in overcoming rumour and speculation once it gets going and unlike other stories that have taken a similar path, there’s no simple solution here (sorry, I rewatched that episode of Supernatural where a ghost was created through rumours on a website). I’m going to say I’m really enjoying the story arc as a whole and hope it manages to stick the landing.

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I’ll just come out and say it, this episode was not my favourite. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike it but I think the very exposition/conversation heavy format is finally starting to wear on me a little. Let’s face it, it’s pretty amazing that it took 8 episodes of people just talking to each other in plain rooms for me to find it getting old. If anything, it’s a tribute to his good the show has been. But this week I was a little bored. Maybe it’s because they were going over information we already knew and not much more. What did you think Karandi?

Honestly, I didn’t mind it. Okay, in the grand scheme of things, as a single episode this one isn’t particularly exciting. however as another step in the process of dealing with Nanase it works and I’m invested enough in these characters and enjoy the dialogue enough that I’m happy enough to go along with it and wait for the next episode. I think what makes it work for me is that at no point did I feel like we had lost forward momentum or tension. We’re building up to this confrontation with Nanase and the story isn’t suddenly veering off that path or filling in time with a fetch quest for the sake of it. Everything here feels purposeful even if it is a slow build.

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One thing I did really like was seeing Kotoko “disassembled”. Don’t get me wrong, her character design is great but when you add in the gaping void where an eye should be and the missing leg contrasting the highly cute outfit and features, it becomes incredibly interesting. It’s not Gorey or frightening, she manages to retain all her charm and yet it throws me off balance. I think it’s one of my favourite character designs in recent history.

About that, I thought it was great to given they hadn’t made a huge deal about her prosthetics other than her leg coming off in a fight. Yet, this sequence gave us a moment where she stood up on the bed and perfectly balanced on one foot and also moments where she was kneeling on the bed and there was no discernible difference in the shape of her skirt from the right side to the left even though there would be significantly less bulge on the left side due to the missing limb. I really liked the intent of this sequence and maybe it is just Eizouken’s influence, but at times it didn’t feel like her movements or the movements of her clothes were right. Still, I do love her character design.

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In large the episode rehashed what Nanase is believed to be and spelled out the increased challenge of defeating her with a competing urban legend now that she has killed again and the rumours have intensified. I think most of us would have figured that part out and they went on about it a bit too much. It did however lead to Kuro’s suggestion of drowning her in dozens of competing stories instead of trying to craft a perfect one, which I thought was a very smart solution and really in line with the social media age. I hope we’ll at least get to hear some of the urban legends they come up with and they won’t all be boring fake police reports or something. The idea of escalating tall tales that could get out of control sounds very amusing!

Yes, surely fragmenting the legend is easier than simply competing with it. I didn’t mind that they belaboured the difficulty of the challenge here. Normally I would find it a bit tiresome and would want them to get on with it but here I feel they are really trying to build a case as to why this monster is much harder to deal with than others Kotoko may have had to encounter and deal with before. Basically, I didn’t mind it.

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The other new bit of information was the first overt reference to Kuro’s cousin. She was the one in the hospital and we never learned much about her other than the fact that she seems to have passed. However, the closing scene hinted at a much deeper story. First Saki being mildly jealous of her ex’s new relationship brought up Rikka as if she had been a romantic rival. Which was a bit clumsy but whatever. More importantly (to me) the visuals and atmosphere of the scene were presenting her as a villain, and a particularly menacing one at that. It bring up so many questions. Why wasn’t she made to eat Yokai, or was she? Why was she always so protective of Kuro when he was young seeing as most people naturally shy away from him? How much did she know?

Like I said, this wasn’t my favourite episode but it did make future episodes sounds very promising and I’m looking forward to next week.

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Episode 8

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Episode 8 continues the build up to dealing with Nanase and presents us with a tangible nemesis for Kotoko to face off against on the internet (kind of necessary if the coming battle of words is to have any impact). That said, they’ve now dragged out the preparation phase over nearly three episodes and while I’ve enjoyed it enough, by the mid-point of this episode I was starting to want them to move along a little bit quicker. A sentiment I feel Irina had in episode 7 of In/Spectre.

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Ironically I found this episode much better than the last. Possibly because we were seeing (or rather being told) things we didn’t know before. I think it confirms my issues with the last episode had more to do with the fact that is was almost a recap episode.

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Kotoko is cute when she’s panicking.

Episode 8 of In/Spectre spends a lot of time filling in events that occurred during the time skip including how Kotoko met Rikka (Kuro’s cousin) and even ended up living with her for a time. Not to mention, we learn just how Kotoko managed to get a key to Kuro’s apartment which was a question raised earlier by this arc. As usual it is difficult to tell how much of Kotoko’s account is genuine and how much is coloured through her own perception (such as the happy birthday parties with Rikka) but we now know the lead up to the current Nanase case and we know who Kuro and Kotoko are actually up against behind the scenes.

It was cute. And I guess Kotoko is an unreliable narrator but somehow I believe her on this one. One thing that I’ve noticed is that the relationships in this series are a little off. Like Kuro and Rikka are both deeply lovely yet frightening at the same time and you can’t quite relate to them as you would to anyone else. Same thing goes for Kotoko obviously. And somehow, I really got a sense for that oddness in the flashback. I also really really like the idea of Kotoko and Rikka having slumber parties and dishing about Kuro behind his back!

Kuro almost throwing up at the thought of domestic life with Kotoko was hilarious. They have a weird relationship.

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While the back story was great to hear where the episode lost me a bit was in the extended exchange between Saki and Kotoko in the car. This definitely felt like they were padding the episode run time in order to end at a pre-determined point. Which, I’ll give the episode credit for, it ended at a pretty great point with the confrontation launching both online and in the real world. But that doesn’t take away the feeling that this episode lingered overly long at times on conversations that are feeling more and more like recap rather than forward movement. It’s the first time I’ve really felt In/Spectre was dragging its feet (though I know some viewers have felt previous conversations went too long).

I guess I see what you mean. Although it didn’t bother me as much it was the point in the episode where I thought to myself, this series really is tell don’t show. This said, I feel like Saki is suppose to be the straight man, maybe even the audience surrogate. These scenes with her are what grounds the series and gives it a more modern feel. Or at least I think that’s what it’s meant to be.

And the cliffhanger was really fantastic. I do like that they chose to make the Steel Lady hit much closer to home than all the early theories. This is a much more interesting monster and the very uncertain morality happening here is quite appealing.

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Despite all that, I am pretty excited to see how this arc concludes and I’m curious as to whether this confrontation and clean up will take the remainder of the season, given that seems like it would stretch too long, or whether we’ll get another mini-arc to end the series after this. I’m not actually sure which I’d prefer but either way In/Spectre has been pretty entertaining this season.

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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In/Spectre Episode 6 Review

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We’ve got a genuine magical girl appearance this week and I was smiling from ear to ear. While Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken is shaping up to be my anime of the season, Kotoko is definitely charging for my favourite character of the season. Then again, it is her exchanges with Kuro and Saki that make her so memorable, so maybe best cast? Anyway, how did you find the episode, Irina?

Irina 2020 4

FUN! Although when I looked over my screencaps I realized almost nothing happened. It says something when an episode can thoroughly entertain me while being essentially only one long conversation between 3 people. This said, I have to admit this wasn’t my favourite episode but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. As for Kotoko being best girl, I think we all know where I stand! Kuro is all wrong for you, he don’t appreciate you like I do!!!!

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Honestly, I just had so much fun this week as well. Beginning with the conclusion of the conversation Saki’s room, episode 6 of In/Spectre just hit the right notes. I loved Kotoko’s dive onto the bed to grab the file as well as the small signs of a more intimate relationship between Kuro and Kotoko as he nonchalantly put his hand on her leg. It is a small detail but I couldn’t help but wonder at how any other anime girl would have reacted to that gesture.

Kuro and Kotoko’s relationship is fascinating to me and I hope we get a chance to find out what happened between them during that time skip. And Kotoko is usually so exuberant with any attention Kuro gives her so the understated reaction is a bit odd. There’s a story there! I did enjoy the bedroom conversation but I thought the scene was just a smidge too long. Or maybe they could have spliced in some animation sequences just to break it up a little. However, the idea of fighting a monster of belief with gossip really thrilled me as a concept. There’s something darkly comedic about the idea and I love it. It also modernizes this story filled with traditiional Yokai and twisted takes on classic fables.

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Naturally my favourite moment goes to the construction site ghost summoning. I absolutely loved Kotoko’s delivery as she drew her magic circle though it was Kuro’s dead-pan reaction that really sold the scene. The two year time skip earlier in the show kind of confused me because it hadn’t seemed like there was any reason for it. Now though it is clear that Kuro and Kotoko have had any number of adventures together and built up quite a complex relationship and understanding and we’re slowly learning the new status quo between them through seeing these interactions. I kind of love it while at the same time am still not entirely convinced we needed it. I feel we could have started with this case and they could have later gone back to how Kuro and Kotoko met. Then again, that’s just me being nit-picky when I’m actually just enjoying the story as is.

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I’m not sure about the reordering. I don’t disagree but I think I would have to see it. Part of why I’m enjoying the current arc is that I got really attached to the characters in the beginning where nothing much was happening so they had time to build them up. I have been comparing Kotoko to Cardcaptor Sakura for a while so I also loved the magical girl moment. It was probably my favourite comedic moment but maybe not my favourite overall. I’m glad they worked the cane into the animation.

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Moving away from Saki we have a Kotoko and Kuro only moment as he escorts her to her hotel (pretty sure he doesn’t plan on staying with her even if she does pout). Again, it is a lovely sequence that gives us a lot to ponder about the two and the state of their relationship. Equally, it does give us a little bit of exposition about the nature of Kuro’s particular talent for ‘seeing’ the future. For an anime that is so dialogue heavy, they do manage to avoid expositioning us to death and leave a lot of things as implied rather than said. So when we get these explicit explanations of how something works they are far more effective because it isn’t buried under a million other explanations.

I have been watching a few anime with divination as an element and this is one of my favourite takes on it. It allows to have both absolute and accurate predictions while maintaining the prospect of an uncertain future with limitless possibilities. It does make Kuro seem terrifyingly powerful though. Almost godlike really. I’m starting to be a little afraid of the guy.

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I can’t let the review end without at least mentioning the post credits. I’m not getting into detail but despite my overall dislike of cliff-hangers, this is a great example where one feels earned and works. They spend the whole episode working toward Kotoko developing a plan for dealing with Nanase and just when they have the information they need to progress their plan something happens that alters the playing field and tips the balance very much against them. It was nicely done and the transition between Kotoko worrying about exactly the scenario that occurred and seeing it happen was timed more or less perfectly. I’m definitely waiting for the next episode now to see how this revelation changes things.

This was in fact my favourite scene. Favourite may not be the best way to put it. It evolved a character I liked a lot and was very effective. In any case, it got me hanging. I’m cautiously excited about the final implication of an actual flesh and blood antagonist. Although I do like the concept of a mindless evil, there is something to be said for a good villain. It can really bring a story together.

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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In/Spectre Episode 5 Review

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Alright, so the twist wasn’t what I was expecting but ended up being a fairly common explanation for modern stories revolving around ghosts. I don’t know if I’m disappointed or not with that reveal, but I do know I really enjoyed the episode as a whole because it just had so many great moments. Did you enjoy it, Irina?

Irina 2020 4

Considering that I said last week that it sounded like one of those monsters born out of belief and I mentioned I like that trope, I can’t deny I enjoyed it. As far as the reveal goes, it was pretty much exactly as I figured and it brings me back to good old Japanese technophobia in horror media which I like. However, the most interesting part of the episode for me, was the flashback.

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Minor diversion before I actually get into reviewing the episode: how much attention are you paying to the OP, Irina? I actually really like the OP to In/Spectre and so I haven’t yet skipped it and one thing caught my eye last week and again this week and now has me asking a few questions. It’s right at the end of the OP where we see Kotoko approaching Kuro, we get a close up of Kuro and then we cut back to the whole scene and we realise that Kuro’s vanished. I’m wondering what that implies about where the series is going? If anything.

I quite like the OP as well. I particularly like when Kotoko bangs her cane on the ground and it seems to have some magical effect. It’s too bad they aren’t using that mechanic in the show. I think it’s a nice alteration of the magical girl wand. As for Kuro disappearing, I’m not sure but it would make sense. After all, they keep insisting that his immortality has cost him some measure of his humanity and it’s framed as a bad thing so they may be getting the audience prepared for the reversal. Maybe? I hope not, I like Kuro.

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Okay, back to thinking about the current episode, and it opens with Kuro continuing his fight with Nanase. Kotoko is watching, and for whatever reason ducks behind a vending machine, and while she’s watching Saki shows up. They briefly comment on Kuro’s fight, mostly dissing his fighting style, and then we finally get some exposition about Kuro and Kuro’s family and just how he came to have eaten two different kind of yokai. This also wasn’t what I expected nor how I anticipated we would learn Kuro’s secret, but honestly, it worked really well and I found myself actually enjoying this flash back despite it being placed in the middle of a fight sequence (probably because nobody seemed to be taking that fight seriously anyway).

I really enjoyed the flashback a lot. And I loved the explanation for how Kuro became as he is. It was both way more horrific yet oddly logical than I had imagined. I imagine some pretty harebrained things. The black and white with red blood aesthetic was a bit on the nose but not enough to take me out of it.

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As for the fight, no one took it seriously. It was a physical altercation between two creatures that cannot get injured or even really hurt. It was a formality. But something struck me about it. It was animated so oddly and just to make sure we don’t miss it, Saki and Kotoko comment on it several times. Saki’s line about how it looks like they’re acting out a play stuck with me. There is something here that can’t be explained by the fact that Nanase is not the idol at all. I really hope they get back to it.

After the flashback and the fight wrap we see the three characters return to Saki’s apartment and we finally have all three characters together. The interactions here are a little odd because they seem to always be either between Kotoko and Kuro, Kuro and Saki, or Saki and Kotoko, and never really have all three engaged in a single conversation at once. It’s both incredibly awkward and yet perfect given these are the currently existing relationships within the group and they aren’t a cohesive unit at this point. More than that, there’s a lot of baggage underlying each of the relationships that seems to seep into their words and actions.

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From that point of view, Kotoko is the only character whose internal thoughts the audience is privy to and she’s still trying to scare Saki off. I’m not sure she’s going to have a great deal of success there but how do you see it Irina?

Romance tropes aren’t my area of expertise. Actually I just want to know how Kuro and Kotoko even ended up dating in the first place. It’s clearly some type of relationship of convenience but I would love to know the nature of their relationship. I do like how different everyone’s personalities and motivations are. They are a cohesive group with the same goal in mind and yet they couldn’t be more different which is creating some really nice dynamics.

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I’m continuing to really enjoy In/Spectre. I find the characters interesting, I’m interested in its premise, the dialogue is always fun to listen to and try to dissect, and they are doing a really good job of balancing the more comedic moments with some of its darker ones. That said, given we’re just short of half-way, I kind of have to wonder where things will go in the second half of the season.

I’m enjoying the series as well. I think this latest reveal is going to allow us to avoid some of the potential melodrama I was seeing in Nanase’s story (although I do think she might show up in the flesh sooner or later – mostly based on how present she is in the credits and promotion of the series). However the real story for me remains the respective natures of Kotoko and Kuro and how they fit together.

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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In/Spectre Episode 4 Review

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I found myself really enjoying the episode of In/Spectre this week, though when I got to the end of it and started thinking through what had happened, I realised we weren’t a whole lot further ahead than when we started. Part of that is the nature of the show with its heavy use of dialogue but I’m finding it thoroughly enjoyable and don’t often feel like the episode is padding things out (though once or twice it may have lingered longer than needed in a scene). How did you feel about it Irina?

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The bulk of the episode was in fact an exposition dump to get us up to speed on the Steel Nanase legend. I didn’t mind it at all. It really gave it that spooky pasta feel and I think it fits the show. Moreover, I once again praise the chemistry between all three of the main characters that makes it fun to watch them simply interact in mundane circumstances. I really liked this episode and I wish I could have watched another.

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My favourite part of the episode had to be the opening exchange between Kotoko and Saki. I loved that Saki just called it straight away that Kotoko wasn’t Kuro’s girlfriend and I had to stop the episode because I was laughing too hard when Kotoko tried to justify their closeness through that reel of photos on her phone. It was just really funny and well delivered. Of course, it makes you wonder why Kuro is still hanging around at all two years on, particularly as he has now apparently gone AWOL for a week. That boy has a lot of secrets and I’m really curious to know the answers.

The pictures were just the best, weren’t they? And Saki and Kotoko make a fun odd couple as well. Both are pretty strong headed and capable which means they interact more or less as equals which is always interesting in my opinion. This said, I’m not sure this was my favourite part per see. I enjoyed the entire episode.

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The more serious side of the story though is that Saki is investigating the real idol Nanase’s death while Kotoko is also trying to get information together. In/Spectre once again used its tactic of telling us what happened to Nanase through Saki’s readings, but then Saki raised a question about the story making us doubt what we’d just been told. Of course, we don’t yet have an answer but this anime definitely seems to thrive on leaving the audience in a bit of limbo as to what the truth actually is.

To be fair, I have a feeling that unravelling the Nanase mystery is in fact what the core of the season will be. I’m only basing this on the OP visuals though so don’t put too much stock in that. Still it’s what my feeling is at the moment and as such I really can’t blame the series for not revealing everything right off the bat. I figure we won’t get that until episode 10 or maybe 12. Then again, I could be completely off here.

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Where I felt the episode was wasting time a little was in giving us an entire anime opening to a drama that Nanase apparently appeared in. Seriously, mid-episode we get this opening song to a TV series that doesn’t actually exist for a character that is already dead. It just felt kind of unnecessary, though the cheesy nature of that OP was enough to make me smile and some of the lyrics were amusing due to how terrible they were.

Really? I loved it. I wanted to watch it. It seemed so inane. And from the little we do see of the real Nanase (as unreliable as it may be) she seemed like the type of person that would have had no patience for such an inane series. I wonder how she took it.

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I also really liked Kotoko’s musings that Nanase the ghost may not be exactly as she appears. No malice, no sense of vengeance… I’m not entirely sure where they are going with this. Maybe it’s one of these stories where the gruesome circumstances of her death coupled with her idol status simply captured the imagination of the masses and it’s people’s collective, for lack of a better word: “belief” that created the Steel Lady. I sort of enjoy those stories even if they are a little clich√©. I guess it’s less clich√© than a vengeful ghost, although not by much.

Overall though I’m pretty happy with how this is going. I like the three characters of Kotoko, Kuro and Saki, even though they haven’t all been in a scene since episode 1, and I’m enjoying the way this story delivers dialogue. I’m also pretty curious as to what is going on with Nanase. They seemed to be alluding to the possibility that it was the estranged sister that might be dead and Nanase took her place, though I doubt the answer will be that obvious. Any theories before we wrap up Irina?

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Foiled again, why don’t I read ahead!! I’m hoping that the show won’t fall into melodrama again and that long lost family is a red herring. Internet manifestation is what I’m going with although to be honest, I don’t really believe it myself. I’m happy Kuro’s back!I hadn’t realized I missed him.

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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In/Spectre Episode 3 Review

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Alright, my prediction last week that the cliff-hanger would resolve within the first minutes this week proved slightly incorrect and yet not. The Guardian Snake story was finished at around the 8 minute mark and then we had a two year time skip. In/Spectre certainly makes predicting where it is going a little more difficult than other shows. That said, I had quite a bit of fun this week with it. How about you Irina?

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Well the conclusion of the Snake Saga got a bit melodramatic and contrived for my tastes. I did like that Kotoko had a semi explanation for her apparent omniscience though. This said, once I started watching it as a fun supernatural soap opera, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I also did like how things picked up after the time jump.

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I’m going to talk about the end of the Guardian Snake story first and then I’ll deal with the introduction to the new story because it makes sense to do these things in order. The snake story finished through dialogue but ultimately gave us a possible scenario for the facts as they were presented that the snake accepted. Kurou and Kotoko then leave the mountain and catch a ride home and discuss further with Kotoko somehow or another drawing the conclusion that she was now Kurou’s girlfriend.

It kind of sounds dull but I really find I enjoy the exchanges between the characters in this story. Dialogue here is rich and individual words end up having a lot of meaning, which probably means relying on subs isn’t the best option as we’re probably losing some of the nuance in translation. That said, I really just find the dialogue fun to listen to and it reveals a lot about the characters. I was pretty happy with how this story wrapped up.

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Personally, I think the scene works mostly (if not entirely) due to Kotoko and Kuro’s fantastic chemistry both as characters and actors. I’m not sure the exact same dialogue would have been as successful with any other two characters.

Kotoko is a character I enjoy a lot so far but she does run the risk of being one note and the car conversation was really just reinforcing the personification we have gotten so far rather than adding anything to it. I look forward to seeing these two get developed a bit more because I think there are some very solid foundations here.

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The two year time skip caught me off guard and it took me awhile to realise who the young police officer was, though it did click before the story actually revealed it. I will admit I very much enjoyed the introduction to this next story. A ghost who caused a traffic accident is fairly common in urban legends and with the dead idol twist this story got me immediately interested. What was less clear was how Kotoko was going to get involved however she arrives before the episode ends and we get another short action sequence. Like the first story there’s this mix of fun with an underlying darkness and I really just like the tone of this story.

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I recognized her right away and I really liked that they made her the main focus of the latter half of the episode. It’s a really interesting relationship that brings up conflicts we don’t explore quite as much. As for the steel lady Nanase story line, it played out like a creepy pasta and I mean that as a compliment. A slightly cheesy creepy story whispered between school kids that everyone laughs about but are secretly just a little scared of. I eat that stuff up. It adds back a bit of camp and lighthearted fun to the series and I think In/Spectre shines when it’s just a little goofy. A really strong start to what I am assuming is going to be the main arc (based on the visuals in the OP).

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Part of me is wondering if the two year time skip is going to be meaningful or whether they just wanted to fast track Kotoko and Kurou’s relationship. Of course, it is hard to say given Kurou didn’t reappear yet in the ghost story. However, Kotoko was pretty confident in her declaration that she was his girlfriend. Then again, she told the snake the same thing… I definitely love that we can’t exactly trust everything Kotoko says or take it at face value. It makes you look a little closer at things.

I was thinking the same thing..did they fast track the relationship or is Kotoko lying again. She mentioned having come “here” because of Nanase so I’m thinking this is a different city. Maybe Kuro is still back home, with his wife and children or something… I don’t actually think that but I might enjoy seeing the main relationship in the series being an unexpected shift from the obvious Kuro/Kotoko romance to a more complex Kotoko and Saki friendship. Or they could do both!

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Honestly, I really like In/Spectre so far. The characters are really fun, the story is engaging, and it leaves me wanting to know more about the underlying world and the characters. I could do without them splitting stories over episodes, but that isn’t a deal breaker and clearly is going to continue throughout the season so I’m just going to have to accept that episodes won’t necessarily end on a resolution for the current story.

I am having a lot of fun with the series as well. It’s sort of what I hoped BoogiePop would be.

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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In/Spectre Episode 2 Review

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We’re back with the second episode of In/Spectre and I must say I was really enjoying it. Right up until we got a ‘to be continued’ shot and then the credits rolled right when things were getting really juicy. It is such a cheap plot particularly when it is clear that this story will be wrapped within a few minutes of the next episode and honestly, this anime didn’t need to deploy cheap tactics to make me keep watching. I was definitely going to watch the next episode. How did you find episode 2, Irina?

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First I gotta say My Hero Academia sort of knocked me out yesterday so I decided to wait until the next day to watch In/Spectre on a fresh mind. I gotta say, I don’t really mind cliffhangers, I know I’m one of the few. To me, it’s a technique that’s really unique to serialized fiction and when used right can not only build up excitement for the next instalment but make the audience rethink the episode and consider it in a different light. As long as it’s not used at the end of a season with no next one announced, I’m all for cliffhangers and I am the one fan who didn’t mind it here. I saw Twitter, I know I’m alone on this…

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This episode leans very heavily on its dialogue right from the start. Kotoko meets Kuro at the hospital and they discuss a few things (like the fact that he ate the flesh of a mermaid and one yet to be revealed yokai) before Kotoko reveals her plans for the evening and invites Kuro to accompany her. He declines – he has plans to eat soup for dinner and he isn’t giving that up for a trip up the mountain to talk to a giant snake – and then we see Kotoko greeting the serpent and the two engage in a ‘friendly’ chat about the motive of the woman who dumped a corpse into the swamp. It’s very odd how this anime manages to sound so laid back and relaxed while dropping some fairly heavy subject matter and yet I think that’s part of its charm. Still, those who do not like excessive dialogue are going to find this episode a bit more challenging to get through. How’d you find it?

Fun! To me, there’s enough chemistry and interplay between Kotoko and Kuro to make these conversational expositions a lot more entertaining than you would expect. In short I like these two together and I’m happy to watch them prattle on. Considering general anime narrative structures, I think most fans are pretty o.k. with heavy dialogue in anime. It’s fairly common. At least I hope so since so many of my favourite anime have quite a bit of talking in them.

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One thing I really loved is how all the scenes are so deliberately dull but the yokai, like the snake guardian, are so vivid. It kind of reminded me of the general vibe in Natsume or even The Morose Mononokean where the yokai are almost always more colourful and vibrant than things in the human world. Admittedly, this anime isn’t as visually exciting as either of those and yet it feels like there’s a lot of attention to some of the smaller details.

The yokai seem to shine. I mean the Snake guardian was positively radiant but even the lesser yokai look like they’re glowing just a little.

This episode was a lot closer to what I thought the series was going to be (i.e. a crime procedural with a supernatural twist) and as such the drab lighting fits with the genre.

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The mystery of the woman dumping the body is kind of interesting and I do want to know what her motive ultimately was – but I do think it was really cheap of the episode to cut off the end of the story where it did. This definitely could have resolved this week and not felt rushed. It also sets a poor precedent for future episodes ending on a cliff-hanger just to add artificial tension and honestly with weekly viewing that gets old, fast.

I made my feelings known. It probably could have been resolved but I don’t necessarily think it needed to be resolved. And yes I realize most people disagree.

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Overall though, this was a really pleasant episode to watch. I really do like Kotoko as a character and her interactions with Kuro have been interesting so far. They’ve made me want to know more about the specifics of the yokai in this story and I really want to know more about Kuro’s story and how he came to eat a mermaid and whatever else he ate. All and all, In/Spectre seems like it will be a fun but at times flawed viewing experience.

I was a bit surprised that Kotoko and Kuro just went back to their dynamic after last episode without any more conflict there. I mean Kuro looked pretty scary for a second. This said, I am enjoying their odd couple romance a lot so I’m going to overlook it. I also thought it was hilarious and inappropriate for Kotoko to just be introducing Kuro as her boyfriend when he’s not around…fun! Looking forward to next week.

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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