Phantom in the Twilight Episode 1: This Season’s Hot Guy Cafe Brought To You By Vampires and Werewolves

This is one of those stories where potentially it could end up quite good or it could end up being a mess, or it might just become formulaic and dull, and there’s really no way to tell from the early episodes. Welcome to Cafe Forbidden where the staff aren’t exactly as welcoming as you would think.

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Ton is our walking cliche of a protagonist who travels to London to go to school and immediately gets robbed. Only she gets robbed by an invisible assailant and end up running into a strange cafe that turns out was started by her great-grandmother. Ton really doesn’t have much going for her in this episode other than some over exuberant reactions to being in London and then getting to run around a lot.

I mean, the guys at the cafe aren’t exactly subtle when one of them clearly says he knew her great-grandmother who has been dead for 100 years and even though he gets cut off, Ton doesn’t question that for a single instant. She’s one of those protagonists who could quickly become quite annoying given she seems fairly happy to just let the plot push her wherever it needs to. About the only positive is that at least it is her friend who gets kidnapped at the end of the episode and not her.

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The one thing this episode did have going for it was that it didn’t draw out the supernatural reveals. Right from the theft it is pretty clear that magic is afoot and by the time we have a werewolf (or guy with wolf ears) fighting a pack of goblins it’s all pretty much a given and this is the aspect of the show I’m most interested in at the moment. Hopefully the second episode consolidates some of the better points of the show and maybe gives Ton some actual purpose other than to be the designated clueless person in the series.

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What did you think of Phantom in the Twilight?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Kaichou wa Maid-Sama Series Review

Overview:

Misaki is the first female student council president at a school that used to be an all boys school but is now co-ed (with a very low female student population). She’s determined to reform the school and the boys in it and to encourage more female students. However, her family are quite poor so to help out she has a part time job working in a maid cafe and she does not want anyone from the school to know her secret. She’s managed to conceal it fairly flawlessly until Usui, one of the most popular boys in school, finds out.

Review:

This one is a fairly standard story with fairly standard characters and yet still manages to be a lot of fun (as long as you don’t think too much about any of it). We’re of course going well into cliché territory with the angry girl, the mysterious prince like guy, the maid cafe, the cross dresser, the delinquents, and pretty much any other stereotype you want to throw in to the scenario, yet at least this show managed to cover them with a bit of vibrancy and energy which made you feel like they were trying rather then just marching out a by the numbers script.

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Probably the weakest part of the story is the relationship between Misaki and Usui. While they have some truly adorable moments Misaki is just far too dense and Usui is just far too perfect at everything. Plus he continuously puts up with Misaki’s violent outbursts and just keeps hanging around regardless. This creates a number of issues. Misaki is at first built up as a fairly capable and independent character but by a third of the way through we seldom see her deal with any conflict on her own. Usui (either directly or indirectly) is the one actually solving issues, supporting her, or saving the day. The fact that Misaki usually gets the last word doesn’t take away the fact that she’s essentially the damsel in distress for the vast majority of the story. Also, Usui himself is originally shown as someone being continuously confessed to but by a few episodes in this aspect kind of vanishes from the story as well. The two characters just kind of revolve around each and fall into the pattern of Misaki encounters trouble (either real or something blown way out of proportion), Usui offers to help and is refused, Misaki then either fails to solve the problem or gets stuck over working, Usui does something either in the background or overtly, problem solved.

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That isn’t to say that they aren’t fun to spend time with, but they lack depth and anything interesting about them in the beginning is kind of written out of the by the mid-way point. Fortunately the show finds new and novel ways to mess up Misaki’s view of the perfect world she’s trying to create and so at least it doesn’t get too dull or repetitive.

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I will point out that Usui is very big on contact and at times it feels like he’s really cornering Misaki. Then again, given she’s studied akido, she probably could extricate herself from most of his advances if she really wanted to. Still, you might find one or two scenes a little uncomfortable.

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The support cast are fine. The other girls and guys at school have very little in the way of distinguishing personalities (even the three idiots who end up frequenting the cafe), but they serve the purpose as a background to Misaki’s various problems. The other maids at the cafe are a little more distinct but are still decidedly one note. The students from the rival school are also one note but at least serve the purpose of making you hate them. Misaki’s family are odd and in a way that is never explained or explored which feels like wasted potential really. So fine, but fairly forgettable.

I do have issues with the opening. That song is really grating and loud. It might not be so bad for others but I really found myself reaching for the skip every time an episode started.

There isn’t much else to say. There’s some funny moments, some touching moments, and some moments that just fall flat. If you like a standard kind of rom-com with okay characters but good pace and reasonable writing you should find something to enjoy here.


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Karandi James.

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Kiss Him, Not Me Episode 3

Review:

Let’s have a school festival and embrace all the clichés on the planet.

Maid cafe. Check.

No, a cosplay cafe. Check.

Class doing a play. Check.

Guy having to dress like a girl. Check.

Hand holding freak out. Check.

Sharing a meal freak out. Check.

Haunted house freak out. Check.

Girl getting unwanted attention from guys. Check.

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s use a lot of heavy references to other anime and hope it passes for a punch line this week. I mean, we already have our characters dressed in some cosplay so we might as well. My personal favourite came from No Game, No Life when Kae declared that “Real life is just a shitty game”.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m being a little sarcastic. Even if I ignore the fact that I don’t much like the premise of this show, this episode gave me nothing else to hold onto, except a really cool Attack on Titan cosplay, but given it’s drawn rather than someone actually wearing the costume it kind of loses the impact.

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The guys still don’t get the girl and she’s just going along with them even though she has no interest. I still haven’t worked out why she just doesn’t tell them she’s not interested.

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The previous two episodes had moments of humour and kind of worked as episodes even with my criticisms of the overall setup. This episode feels longer than it is. The few jokes and amusing references to other material aside, there’s just not substance here at all.

Despite all of that criticism, I’m still going to keep watching this. Part of me wants to see if Kae can actually develop something resembling a spine and the other part of me wants to see if the guys in this can ever rise above being designated plot points. I’m not holding out much hope of that happening, but if it did that would be kind of cool.

Kiss Him, Not Me is available on Crunchyroll.