Quadra-collab Fails to Form a Band: Reviews Given (movie)” – pt 4 (Final)

Given Collab

Regular readers will know that I was a huge fan of the Given anime and once I found out about the movie I was super excited. And then Irina went and made it even better by suggesting this collaboration between Scott, Shoujo, Irina and myself after we viewed the movie. Hopefully you have already seen the first three parts of this collab but if not be sure to check them all out:



Meanwhile, here is the final part of the discussion with Scott 🚀, Irina🍸, Shoujo🌸 and Karandi🍣.


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This movie really does take the characters and the audience on an incredible emotional journey despite the short run time.

S🚀: I enjoyed this film quite a bit because of how much of a ride it was. I mentioned listening to Nana music afterwards on Twitter because this made me feel like I was watching Nana again. All of that was because of how messy the relationships were, how everything was made by characters making the wrong choices, and how wrong and yet right relationships felt.

It kind of stunned me in a good way. I think that Haruki and Kaji meeting up with each other felt a bit rushed in some ways, but it feels natural too. Just a lot of good writing I think. Very natural sort of character drama. I do think that adding maybe 30 minutes to put in some breathing room with Mafuyu and Ueno dating would have helped to make it feel complete, but this was good.

It is a sequel movie, so it only makes sense to have the context from other sources to know more. If I would be a new viewer, I think it would work to get the viewer interested in watching the series. I wouldn’t mind more sequels too. More of this softness, please? Thank you. 

SJ🌸 : I didn’t mind the pace of the movie; I agree that it added something that all their emotions were so breakneck, so jarring. Still, an hour-long movie wasn’t enough to scratch my Given itch, and I agree that if one were to go into the movie without having seen the series, one wouldn’t have the experience necessary to form as deep of a connection to the events as they would having watched events prior. I, like Scott, would have liked to see the movie be longer. I think that something closer to feature length (75 to 210 minutes) would have given the adaptation more room to explore without taking away from the jarring twists and turns.

Personally, I felt so much anger—so much indignation and sorrow and frustration. Without getting into spoilers, I can’t say much, but I can say that events that occur earlier in the movie colour my viewing experience for the rest of the film, leaving me conflicted at every turn as I watch Haruki and Kaji’s relationship unfold. A second season taking place after the events of the movie is greatly needed. Given (haha, oops) the amount of content available, I think we actually have a pretty good chance of seeing these characters on screen again. Given is nothing if not good at evoking emotion. I would like more of that, whether that’s in the form of movies/OVAs or a series. (But series, please!)

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So much pain here for all of the characters.

I🍸: Even with all this criticism, at the end of the day, it was great seeing Given again. It made me happy and reminded me just how much I loved the series. I might actually rewatch it. And if they ever announce another season, I will be watching it as it airs!

SJ🌸 : Me, too!! I sure hope that our wishes come to fruition!

S🚀: Nod, nod!

I🍸: Random thoughts – the orchestral piece at the beginning was gorgeous. Just amazing. Also, I think the character designs may have gotten a subtle boost. Maybe it was just me projecting my happiness.

K🍣: The music was brilliant. 

I’m not sure if the character designs got any better but I know that one of the most heartbreaking moments had nothing to do with the emotional story being told and everything to do with me being devastated that one of the characters underwent a hairstyle change mid-movie. I totally get what was driving him at that point but it still nearly made me cry.

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This expression kind of shows my horror at Haruki’s decision to cut his hair

S🚀: I think it looked about the same honestly because Lerche isn’t that much of a power house studio, but their style and direction is always good. They still hid the hands when everyone played music instruments and there was some obvious cg with Mafuyu, but the writing was still great and the music was on point so it all worked in the end. 

SJ🌸 : I actually really like the art of both the movie and the series. There was a bit of a distracting CG work I noticed here or there, but overall, I was very impressed! Further, Karandi, I KNOW!!! THE HAIRCUT. I was… so angry on his behalf.

K🍣: On the other-hand Shoujo, they do this all the time to female characters who are undergoing a transition or dealing with something. I guess it is a nice symbolic ending of one thing and the start of something else. That said, poor hair.

I🍸: Just so you know, in the manga there’s a flashback where Haruki decides that until he starts dating Kaji, he will let his hair grow out. As such, the long hair represented his one sided attachment and devotion to Kaji and him cutting it off was a visual way to tell the audience that he was ready to move on from Kaji specifically. Which was absolutely necessary if they were to ever have a healthy relationship. 

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You’re breaking my heart, Haruki.

I also like Haruki better with his long hair. He’s my phone’s lock screen.

SJ🌸 : I love the symbolism! Yes, he cut his hair when he was originally growing it for Kaji, and yes, it represents an end to his pining (in a great, visual way), but his poor heart!!

S🚀: I wasn’t expecting haircut discourse, but I am kind of inbetween. He looked great with it, but I think his hair being cut is also pretty attractive. It gives him such a different edge that I kind of like. I am apparently the outsider though. 


And so the collaboration ends. A huge thanks to Shoujo, Scott and Irina for this as watching a movie by yourself can be a great experience, but watching a movie and then being able to discuss it with people who were also very attached to these characters and anticipating it and how we felt about it just made it an overall wonderful experience.

I will post an individual review of the movie later and may even do a rewatch first, but for now that’s our thoughts on the Given Movie. And seriously, if you didn’t check out the other 3 parts of this discussion, I totally recommend you do as it was great fun to write and we’d all love to know your thoughts on the movie.

Images used for review from: Given (movie). Dir. H. Yamaguchi. Lerche. 2020.


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Karandi James


DanMachi Review Season 2 Episode 12 – The Love of a Goddess

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Episode 12 is kind of relaxing to watch and while the fact that any tension about Hestia getting kidnapped more or less evaporates doesn’t really seem to matter (or at least it didn’t really bother me). Mostly I just enjoyed the characters enjoying village life and honestly, Bell and Hestia are just too cute. What did you think Irina?

 Well it was obviously not my sort of episode as it focused on tones and themes I just don’t connect with much. Also I really liked the fact that Ares was shaping up to be a different character so I was pretty disappointed that last episode seemed to have been a red herring. This episode felt more true to those harem roots you mentioned. It was well paced and kept the narrative flow in line. A well crafted episode  and one that makes a lot of sense as a season ender.

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The episode starts with Bell nursing Hestia in bed and it is super adorable. Not long after she wakes up and while Ais has scouted around to check for signs of pursuit we’re largely not concerned about Ares or anything that happened last week. Instead, Bell is going to help prepare for the festival. While this doesn’t do great things for the story it does give the characters some quiet time to reflect and we also get a bit more world building when we learn that the villagers worship the black dragon’s scales and Bell has to wonder about whether all monsters are just monsters or not. While this doesn’t go anywhere right now it is going to become pretty important in the next part of the story so there’s something to look forward to in a new season of DanMachi.

They have been foreshadowing that black dragon pretty heavily. Sounds exciting! I do like DanMachi when there’s adventuring involved. The dungeon episodes were always my favourite ones. I’m looking forward to getting back to it.

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In addition to Bell and Hestia this episode also deals with the mayor of the village who is dying. He used to be an adventurer but his goddess was killed and returned to heaven leaving him alone. There’s some nice moments when he is talking to Bell and encouraging him not to have regrets and Hestia also gets to shine as she allows him to have hope before the end. About the only problem I had with this particular story was the granddaughter didn’t really get to do much and the episode didn’t focus on her feelings about his passing. It would have been nice for her to have had a moment or two given the story bothered to introduce her at all.

I did like how unperturbed Hestia was by his death. Taking it in stride as everyone else cried. This was a nice illustration of the fact that Hestia has seen so much death that it’s simply become a part of life. Nothing to be all that concerned about. It also reminded me of the distance between gods and humans. I’m with Bell, it’s ridiculous to expect an actual relationship with one. You’d just end up as a favoured pet, if you’re lucky!

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But Hestia sure was impressive in the moment. Possibly the most impressive she’s been all season!

The festival itself was more or less what you would expect from a village festival. Best moment of course goes to Hestia demanding that Bell ask her to dance the way he asked Ais way back when they went to Apollo’s ball. It is a nice full circle for the story to turn and definitely managed to make things feel a bit more linked given this season has felt a little bit all over the place.

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Before we get to the end of the episode and the journey home, Hestia and Bell have an actual talk about the different life-spans of mortals and gods. Hestia is definitely sugar coating but I loved it when she told Bell that she’d find him again no matter how long it took. It might not be realistic but it is adorable and sweet.

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Well Bell is her child. It’s the sort of thing you tell children. What’s the point of making him feel worse?

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And then the season ended. A third season has been announced and the teaser we got at the end of this episode was enough to make me excited, though I’m pretty sure people who don’t know what is coming won’t get why this is so exciting. Honestly, this second season has been a bit of a mixed bag but I still love the characters here and there were definitely more than enough fun moments. What are your final thoughts Irina?

I preferred the first season myself. There were some good episodes this season too of course but I just liked the tone and rhythm of the first season better. I also liked Bell and Hestia’s interactions and relationship a lot more in season 1 where they spent a lot more time alone together.

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To me, this season felt like it was trying to get to something. I’m not saying it right. All the mini arcs felt rushed and I couldn’t quite get the connection I wanted to the new characters or the events. I feel like half the stories in there could have been a season to themselves. I don’t know if they skip over a lot of stuff in the novels as well or if this was just out of necessity to fit in the 12 episode span but often times I would find that the set up was great and I was ready to get the adventure started and BAM we’re off to the next thing. I hope next season will have a single overarching story line.

That I’ll have to agree with. It would be nice to spend more time on an idea rather than running straight to the next thing. Still, I think as long as Bell and Hestia show up, most of us will end up happy enough.

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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Images from: DanMachi 2nd Season. Dir. T Hideki. J.C. Staff. 2019.

DanMachi Review Season 2 Episode 11 – Chasing Hestia

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Bell’s most notable character trait, outside of his hero complex, is his absolute cluelessness when it comes to girls, particularly Hestia so this week’s initial complication comes as no surprise. What is a little surprising is that DanMachi is diving into a new plot with only two episodes to deal with it. I wonder how that’s going to go?

They’ve been pretty good at wrapping up the mini-arcs fairly quickly. I think most plots this season were resolved in roughly 3 or 4 episodes so I’m not too worried.

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The episode started more or less as I expected it to as they wrapped up the issue with Haruhime, however there seems like a lot of loose ends here. Like they don’t address the fact that there was a conflict in the city and the pleasure quarter was burned down. Nor does anyone mention the death/disappearance of a goddess. It is almost like other than Haruhime joining Hestia familia the events of the previous arc just aren’t going to be dealt with which is kind of a shame.

And we still don’t have a backstory for Haruhime. Maybe I’m the only one who’s interested in that. I don’t know why I keep going back to it. You know when someone starts telling you something then goes, nevermind before getting to their thought and then you just can’t think of anything else until they tell you. The Haruhme thing is like that for me. But yeah – they really should mention all the death and destruction and all. Two reasonably well known familias have gone down in like a month… 

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Then again, why deal with the world building and resolving the previous conflict when we can put Haruhime in a maid costume and contrive a situation for Hestia to blow her stack. Admittedly, I really like Hestia, even when she’s throwing a temper tantrum, but it just feels like we skipped some important elements and I really don’t feel like we have time enough to deal with the conflict we’re being plunged into.

Ok, now you’re starting to sound like me. This is a little eerie.

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I actually don’t know why anyone was surprised by Bell’s answer to Hestia when asked how he’d react to a goddess confessing their love. It is such a typical Bell response in terms of how he views and treats the gods in general. I do get why Hestia was annoyed by it, but the rest of the familia should have expected it.

I get why she was annoyed but like you, I don’t know what else she expected. They’ve gone through this a few times now, she should know what a precious little bunny he is. I figured she would have thrown her usual huff then gone on as always. I would really like to know what Hestia sees in Bell. Not in the sense that no one could like Bell just wondering what exactly Hestia likes since she arguably knows him best. I would like to think it’s more than the fact that he was her only follower for some time. 

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Of course, this episode introduces an external threat to the city of Orario in the form of Ares and the army from another kingdom. Unfortunately, this threat isn’t one we can take all that seriously as Ares, despite being a god of war, is more or less played for laughs and manages to kidnap Hestia only through a series of ridiculous events and happenstance rather than good planning. I feel kind of sorry for the Prince who is serving him and I wonder how Ares has managed not to be killed by his own people up until now.

You know, when the episode started I thought for a second I had accidentally started an old Grandcrest episode. There was something about the look of it that just reminded me of that show so much.

I like doofuses so I’m looking forward to seeing what Ares can do. What I really like about him is that he is completely different in personality from all the gods we’ve seen so far. It’s a nice change.

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Stupid plan or not, we do at least get an opportunity to see Ais in action again and watch Bell try to save his goddess. Seeing Ais, Hestia and Bell coming together here feels really nostalgic as these characters really haven’t been together much in this second season.

I’m sorry, please don’t be mad at me, but I think Ais is super boring. I have nothing against her. She seems like a nice girl. I would go for a drink with her in real life but I would invite Loki so that there is some conversation. Considering Bell can have his pick of absolutely anyone, I really don’t know why Ais. Other than the fact that she’s the hottest main character that is.

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Yep, Ais on her own is pretty boring. There’s a reason I didn’t like the spin-off. She works as the love interest that is out of reach but that is all.

Naturally we end the episode on a cliff hanger. I’m just not sure that this is bringing us enough of a build up to really make the final episode of this season overly satisfying. It all feels a little rushed and cobbled together. How did you find it Irina?

It feels different. It’s not just some god deciding the want Bell for themselves so I do appreciate the novelty. Yeah the build up is a little thin but I don’t know where it’s going to go from here so there’s at least a lot of possibilities.

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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DanMachi Review Season 2 Episode 10 – The Last Hero

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Right, I’m starting with an apology for this post being hopelessly late and even with the delay it is still going to be a little shorter than normal. Irina has been incredibly patient as I’ve been unable to keep up with posting during this latest round of sickness, though hopefully now I can start getting back up to speed.

And on the note, DanMachi gave us a very nice episode to watch this week. I have a few issues with the way things play out here, but these were issues I had with the light novel in this particular section, so honestly I’m pretty happy with how the anime has covered it. What did you think of the episode, Irina?

 OK, it’s been a few days so I may be mushing the last two episodes together but I remember it as an action packed jamboree. Also, I think I may be getting a crush on Takemikazuchi so that fact that we got to see him a little means it was aces in my book!

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The episode starts with Freya’s familia moving in on Ishtar and if we thought the amazons were bad news they’ve got nothing on Freya’s children as they are pretty much razing the pleasure quarter. While the episode doesn’t linger on this, it is our first real glimpse at just how powerful Freya’s familia actually is.

And a good set up. I find that a lot of the gods sort of overlap each other. The ones we don’t see that much that is. A powerful but mysterious goddess who is unusually taken by Bell is sort of the default “other” god archetype for DanMachi but by keeping Freya both a little extreme and shrouded in enigma, it makes her way more interesting than the norm. At least to me.  This episode made me want to know more and that’s a good thing.

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Of course, we need to focus in on Bell who has made the decision not to abandon Haruhime. Just breaking the killing stone isn’t enough. He wants her released but Phryne isn’t going for it. A fight between Bell and Phryne was kind of inevitable, though I find the way this story goes out of its way to not have Bell directly take down any human opponents to be a little bit dissatisfying. I know they want Bell to be the hero, but the narrative never forces him to get his hands dirty and that kind of feels like the author just liked the character a little too much.

I’m with you on that one.

Not that Phryne’s end is actually a problem. Seeing her grovel pathetically before shoving her foot clean into her mouth was pretty satisfying. It just feels like Bell’s being protected by the plot a little too much.

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I don’t know if it was like this in the books or are they just streamlining Bell’s success for the sake of run time? That’s something that happens a lot in adaptation so I wouldn’t be surprised if this entire episode was originally way more challenging for Bell than it seemed onscreen.

Though on the note of things that feel a little less than satisfying, Welf and Lily really don’t get to do anything here. There’s a brief moment where they get in a scuffle but that is resolved almost instantly and other than the recovery of Mikoto there’s almost nothing to their story in this episode.

One of the things that bugs me personally about this season is that we really don’t get any development for Welf. We got a bit for Lily and I was really happy about that. But I was so psyched to see that Welf was joining the main cast this season and it still feels like he’s a very secondary supporting character so far. This said, there are a lot of characters in DanMachi, I understand if they decide to wait another season to give Welf his turn. To be fair, we hardly got to see Hestia this season as well but at least we had already gotten to know her from the previous season.

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Bell would like Welf and Lily to get more screen time as well.

Hermes on the other hand continues to get the best bombshells to drop in the story. For a character who has limited screen time he really does steal the best revelations and shows up just in time for the most exciting moments. It fits well with his character and it means when he’s moving about you kind of anticipate something happening. Still, it would have been nice if he’d answered the question of how much he’d planned this whole scenario out because to be honest it all works out very conveniently for Bell, and for Hermes when all is said and done.

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Hermes is a troll mastermind character so I would expect things to go his way most of the time. And her is a supporting character so personal conflict isn’t quite as important for him. But I would like to see Bell outright fail just once. We learn a lot from our failures and it would be a great chance for character growth,

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Which leaves us with Freya, who is one scary lady and I still don’t know why Ishtar thought she could take her on. I mean, no competition at all. I’m not sure the episode gave enough weight to Ishtar’s demise, though it was pretty and sparkly, but it definitely left me wanting to see more of Freya.

From their respective mythologies, I would have expected Ishtar to be way more powerful than Freya. I mean Freya is a very important and powerful goddess in her own right but Ishtar’s influence spans so many civilizations and she was a supreme divinity while Freya is usually overshadowed by her husband Odr/Odin.

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This episode did what it needed, the pace moved well enough, characters came to logical ends and events resolved themselves enough though with still enough loose ends that it doesn’t feel all wrapped up. Basically it all works perfectly fine. I’m not sure this has in anyway reached the excitement of season one or even the winning of the war game earlier this season, which is a small problem for an episode so near the end of the series, but honestly, this arc just never quite managed to get there, even though it did bring some important bits of information and world building into the story.

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The episode was nice, the only thing missing for me was how Haruhime got herself involved with Ishtar in the first place. Honestly I’m burning with curiosity. How did a kind and reserved little fox like that, with a good and loving family around her get herself into this type of trouble. Why didn’t she seek out the Takemikazuchi familia?  It sounds like it would be a great story and I don’t know why they won’t share it with us… I guess every lady needs her secrets.

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Irina 2020

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DanMachi Review Season 2 Episode 9 – Conviction

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Bell and Mikoto make the call to save Haruhime and hope that the others will understand this week. The decision is made knowing exactly what the potential consequences might be and the two of them are giving everything they’ve got for this rescue attempt. As usual, when things are looking hopeless, that is when DanMachi is at its best as the characters really do rise to the occasion. How did you find the episode, Irina?

Aside from a few tropes that really irritate me, I thought it was great. I find that DanManchi really shines in the high action episodes. That’s when you get that classic fantasy adventure feeling that works well in this series.

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Bell - She saw right through me - DanMachi episode 9

I kind of wish I knew why I liked Bell so much. Even back in season one I really just love watching him in action and seeing him overcome trials. He’s such a stereotypical ‘nice’ character with a hero complex and yet he’s utterly charming to watch. This week I really enjoyed the beginning of the episode where we see Bell down and out, realising he blinked at Aisha’s challenge and let Haruhime be taken away. He’s disgusted with himself and yet still conflicted because he doesn’t want to bring trouble on his family.

But, he finds clarity in remembering what he believes a hero to be. And he just can’t sit around and let Haruhime be killed. Together with Mikoto they come up with a daring/crazy plan to try to first save Haruhime, and if that fails, smash the killing stone so the ritual can’t happen. No problem as there’s only the entire Ishtar familia in between them and their target. It might not be as clear as a giant monster in a dungeon, but this threat is massive and yet Bell goes charging in, firebolt blazing as he distracts the Amazons and buys time for Mikoto to get to Haruhime. I found it quite rewarding to watch even while I wondered how they thought they were going to survive.

Bell - Why does Haruhime-san have to die? - DanMachi Episode 9

I like watching Bell. As in I like his character design a whole lot! And I would love him as a supporting character. As a main character he’s just too perfect. He solves everything, he saves everyone, he never strays from his morality. I never feel any tension or fear that things aren’t going to work out for Bell this time because the character is just too flawless.

Even in this episode, he’s the one who convinced Mikoto to save Haruhime, even though it’s her childhood friend. Like I said, I think he would be an incredible supporting character to a sightly less perfect protagonist. This isn’t just my opinion of course. I was under the impression that the glowy thing on the wall Bell found was a trace of Haruhime’s power and that his fire bolt was boosted, that’s why it was so incredibly strong? That’s also why he came up with that plan.

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Not quite. That’s his argonaut power that he used back on Goliath and a few times back in season 1. It responds to his desire to be a hero. We saw him using it back in episode 4 when he blew up the tower in the war game.

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We get a very few cuts to Hestia, Lily, Welf and Take’s family outside the compound. They know Bell and Mikoto must be inside but the gate is guarded and they have no proof. Hestia is also wary of starting another war and so they are left cooling their heels. It is a shame given after the incident with Apollo, Lily and Welf have seriously been sidelined in this story, but their actions make sense. That said, it was pretty satisfying when they saw the explosions going off inside and decided enough was enough and took the Amazons down.

I do wish we got a bit more action from Lily and Welf though as you say, it makes sense that they would be hanging back with Hestia at this point.

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Come on guys – get involved.

Freya is also clearly on the move but I assume we’ll see more of that next week as it wasn’t a major part of this episode. Just something bubbling away in the background as it has been since this arc began. I do like that they aren’t letting the audience forget that Freya is Ishtar’s real target and all of this other stuff is preparation or bait, but they also aren’t eating a lot of screen time with it.

You probably know a lot more about Freya than I do. She’s always been a mysterious character to me and I’ve been dying to find out more. So I look forward to that.

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The majority of the episode is definitely following Bell on his rampage through the building. He’s letting off as many firebolts as he can, though I noted he was being pretty careful not to directly hit the Amazons. Amazing that even when outnumbered and trying to save a life he’s still concerned about hurting others. He is actually doing fairly well until Phryne literally drops in on the fight.

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There’s a definite moment where you have to wonder if he’s even going to survive and then he’s saved from Phryne by Ishtar of all people. (well…)

I was kind of reading this as she didn’t want to share her toys rather than actually caring whether Phryne attacked Bell but how did you see it Irina?

I was reading it as asserting her authority over her familia. Phryne really doesn’t seem to have much issue with disobeying her goddess which is pretty inconsistent with the little we know of Ishtar. I was actually very surprised that Phryne hadn’t been heavily punished way earlier.

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Yeah, Phryne is just terrifying.

I say that but I really don’t know much about Ishtar at all beyond her reputation. They’ve managed to keep her pretty mysterious as well which is a good look for a goddess of desire and lust.

Then we have two conversations that both look at the morality of prostitution. Admittedly, neither one is particularly deep or meaningful as they are both kind of rushed encounters, but it is interesting that the story attempted it. First we get Ishtar’s view as the goddess explains it to Bell and then that is almost immediately contradicted by Haruhime’s view that she expresses to Mikoto. Honestly, in a different kind of story it would be nice to see this developed and expanded on but DanMachi isn’t really about the deep and meaningful and so we get a fairly shallow look at the idea and then it is all quickly shoved aside for more action.

Which is fine. It wasn’t really a dual view, the show clearly frames which context it expects the audience to take in.

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Like I said, I think DanMachi is best in action so I didn’t mind having the conversation cut short in favour of more exciting feats of courage and skill! One thing I think I would have liked though, is to find out how Haruhime got in this situation in the first place. How she ended up with the Ishtar familia at all. I’m not sure why but I was really curious about that the whole time.

The episode comes to a close with Mikoto trying to save Haruhime on the roof and ultimately using a self-destructive magic technique to take down a whole bunch of Amazons opening a window for Bell to swoop in and break the killing stone. The situation is far from resolved with Haruhime still chained up, enough of the strongest members of the Ishtar family still between them all and escape, and both Hestia and Freya familias on the move outside.

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My guess is they are going to be just fine! There’s Takemikazuchi and some members of his familia as well. And he’s a god of war so he’s got this! Amazons are all well and good but Thunder God! Just sayin.

I do wonder if there are going to be some unexpected long term fallout though. Hestia and her familia just made quite the name for themselves with the whole Apollo affair. If they manage to best the Ishtar familia so soon after, and in conditions that are much less to their advantage, they are going to become very difficult to ignore. They may end up attracting the wrong kind of attention.  

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Basically I had a lot of fun watching this episode. There are certainly bits that could be tidied up and while watching I got the sense of deja-vu as it felt very similar to Bell running with Hestia away from Apollo familia. Still, it is nice seeing Bell facing a different kind of threat from monsters in the dungeon and the exploration of the grey areas in this world, as in Bell attacking another familia in order to be a hero, is quite interesting. Though now I’m wondering what the series plans to end on because apparently there are three more episodes and it feels like this situation is going to be wrapped up next week (unless they drag it out and that would kind of suck).

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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DanMachi Review Season 2 Episode 8 – The Killing Stone

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This week felt like a lot happened while I was watching it and then, when I reflected after the episode was done, I realised that other than the reveal of what was going to happen to Haruhime very little else was actually all that important to the plot. Though seeing Bell in a genuinely panicked state early in the episode and conflicted at the end made for some fairly solid character moments. What did you think Irina?

Since I don’t have the advantage of hindsight, I never really know what’s going to end up being important to the story or not. It’s true that all in all it was really just the obvious followup to last week’s episode. This said there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m really happy we found out what the killing stone is, it would have drove me crazy! I’m a little sad we found out through such a super convenient way but at least it makes the plot move along swiftly. All in all, it was a fine episode in my opinion.

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There was a lot of super convenience going on this week.

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I guess we should tackle this episode logically. We start with a bit of a replay of Haruhime boosting Aisha before Aisha attacks Bell. Then we get to new material as Mikoto comes to the rescue (I’m hoping this was after she took care of the monsters attacking Welf and Lily, they never really address that point). What follows is more or less a straight out smack down with both Mikoto and Bell getting knocked out pretty quickly and being taken captive by the Amazons.

While watching Bell get beaten down, I realised one of the reasons I’m really not a nice person. I kind of like seeing Bell get beaten largely because that makes his triumphs more exciting. Poor guy. Not to mention I feel bad for Welf because how many sets of armour has Bell gone through now?

It was by far some of the best animation we’ve seen all season. A great scene. I don’t know about being a “nice” person but I don’t mind Bell getting beaten down. It happens every other episode and he always wins, usually quickly. By now I’ve been a little desensitized towards it. I know he’ll be fine so I never really worry about Bell as I would another character.

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He’s not just the protagonist, he’s the golden boy hero. It’s very difficult to make the stakes feel real under those circumstances.

Bell getting kidnapped by the Ishtar familia was more or less bad enough given Ishtar’s intentions, but things progress from bad to worse when it becomes clear that Phryne – toad girl – has whisked Bell away to her own little hidey-hole and her intentions are probably worse than Ishtar’s. Bell’s genuine fear in this scene was actually pretty palpable and for once they didn’t play a guy being severely intimidated by an aggressive female character for laughs (kind of hard to do so when the male character is literally chained to wall).

I was surprised anyone in the Familia would openly go against Ishtar like that. She does not seem particularly forgiving.

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I’m not sure where I stand on Haruhime in this episode as she goes about helping Mikoto and Bell in clear defiance of her famila and yet she won’t consider actually running away from what is about to happen. I don’t think they’ve made it clear while one act of rebellion is okay so long as she goes along with the insane plan Ishtar’s cooked up. And it is insane. Or was there some logic to her reasoning that I missed?

I kind of assumed she needs money to save an ailing family member and her sacrifice is for that or something along those lines. She seems completely resigned to her fate. There must be a reason.

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Fortunately though, Mikoto finds some conveniently left papers in a study that in detail describe the ritual that the Killing Stone is used for. Simultaneously, Take explains to both his own familia and Hestia’s what they can use the Killing Stone for. Wonderfully convenient timing all around.

It’s a good thing Take knew everything off the top of his head even if Hestia had no clue.

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As much as I might be mocking it partly it is necessity. If they’d found out earlier about the ritual they wouldn’t have bothered with their plan to try to buy Haruhime which would have essentially made half of last episode and this one pointless. Also, the characters are now under immense time pressure if they intend to intervene. And all of this coming on the back of the war-game makes it harder for Bell to act because he’s become very aware of his responsibility to protect his famila and not involve them in squabbles with other, larger, families.

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They could have easily made the new moon in a few days and dedicated the episode to actual research getting to the same point but it would have felt a little more earned. It also would have, in my opinion, heightened the pressure as we would have built up a cat and mouse mystery suspense for one episode to launch the countdown off of. I understand that they have resource material to respect but this felt like a bit of loss in adaptation. It’s just rushed.

Very true. And watching Welf and Lily and the others involved in a research montage sounds pretty fun to be honest.

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Which brings us to the moment at the end of the episode where Aisha more or less dares Bell to try to take Haruhime with him and he hesitates. And it kills him. He came to Orario to become a hero and now he’s torn because he isn’t sure what being a hero means in this instance. Is it saving the renard in front of him or is it protecting his goddess and his familia from harm?

He should go back to his original plan of building his own harem. He seems to have a knack for accidentally seducing the ladies. It would be way less trouble too. Hmm, ok maybe just a bit less trouble…more trouble?

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I’m looking forward to what happens next and while the plot in this arc is less fun than a lot of the other arcs in this story, I’m really enjoying seeing Bell growing up a bit. How are you finding season two so far Irina?

I’m not really seeing the character development in Bell so far. That’s fine as far as I’m concerned. A static character in a high fantasy setting, especially a moralistic one, isn’t a bad thing. I think I liked season 1 a bit better so far. That’s personal. I love an underdog and seeing Hestia and Bell in their crumbling little base, the two of them with nothing to their name against the world, it just spoke to me personally. It had this intimacy that I like in stories. Although Welf is one of my favourite characters, they have not used him at all so his presence isn’t really making a difference. But I am looking forward to seeing what opportunities  their new situation brings.

That’s a fair point that Hestia familia was a lot more sympathetic in their old accommodation. And yeah, while Welf is a great character, when it isn’t his story arc they really do just kind of sideline him. Ir kind of reminds me of Klein in SAO really. If they keep adapting the story he’ll certainly get great moments but right now he and Lily are kind of just there.

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Irina 2020

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DanMachi Review Season 2 Episode 7 – Being A Hero Is Not Like The Stories

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I’ve come to the conclusion that I definitely prefer DanMachi when Bell has a clear goal or problem to face. Last week felt off in pacing and a little directionless whereas this week, with Bell’s focus on Haruhime even before he made the decision to try to liberate her, had a feeling like it was moving toward something. How did you feel about it, Irina?

I agree that a sense of purpose and a defined goal is a pretty important element in adventure narratives. It’s tough for us to get excited if we have no clue where we’re going and why but just to play devil’s advocate, last week’s goal was pretty clear. Bell wanted to find out what Mikoto was up to and help her and that turned into Bell wanting to escape the Ishtar family. It’s straightforward. Mind you, I didn’t dislike last week’s episode.

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This week started with Bell getting a dressing down from Hestia and set the rigorous punishment of slowly sweeping leaves which the rest of the familia decided to help out with anyway. That may not sound like an exciting start but to me it reinforced my feelings as to why Bell and Hestia are never going to be together romantically. Their relationship is too set as goddess and follower, or less formally as parent and child. While Hestia might act whimsical at other times when it comes to the family Hestia is very much a doting parent indulging her child and taking delight in their growth. Plus the whole leaf sweeping scene at least got the whole Mikoto is looking for Haruhime out into the open so at least they didn’t drag that out as if it was some kind of mystery.

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After a few other bits and pieces we get a sequence of Mikoto trying to get Haruhime to talk to her and then a reminiscence about Haruhime back in the east. Which is interrupted by Hermes who claims to be checking in on Bell.

The flashback was actually quite touching. I hadn’t realized how much I liked Takemikazuchi. I really don’t get why Mikoto didn’t go back to him after the war game. He seems like such a great and kind god. Not really how I would imagine a war god but it makes him more interesting.

Alright, the way I understood it from the books, is that when a god transfers a family member they can’t transfer back for at least a year. They made a bit deal in the books about it in the books when Mikoto did her farewell to her old family. Of course, the anime hasn’t really got into that and while it is a nice detail it doesn’t really change all that much whether it is there or not, though it does make Mikoto hanging around make a bit more sense.

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I’m going to be honest, Hermes was the highlight for me this week. From his frantic appearance at the bar trying to get Mia to help him get a message to Freya to his openly disregarding his role as a messenger and telling Bell and Mikoto what he delivered to Ishtar, Hermes stole every scene he was in. It is very fun seeing him losing his aloof coolness.

Hermes is the highlight of every week!

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You mentioned not making Haruhime a mystery. I agree that would have been silly or even annoying since her identity is completely obvious from the start. This said, I think the story could very much use a bit of mystery. Things have been moving along from point A to point B without much complication so throwing some confusion in there could be fun.

The entire episode, I was dying for them to do some research on the killing stone. Like forcefully talking to my TV!

I know. I mean, you know it is going to become important after Hermes name drops it like that and you can tell they are going to end up looking into it, but there doesn’t seem to be any haste in regards to finding out about it.

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However, Ishtar isn’t sleeping on the events of last week either. She’s decided to kidnap the Little Rookie under the assumption it will provoke Freya into some kind of hostile action. We learn at the guild that this isn’t the first time Ishtar has waited for other families to act against her before retaliating with fairly drastic consequences. Not sure how she feels kidnapping a member of another familia is going to sit with the guild or maybe she’s just super confident they won’t do anything. Either way, her plan feels a little shaky and more like she’s just going to make things up as she goes.

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To me Ishtar is one of the weaker plot points. I just can’t seem to care about her. The character design is nice and all. In concept, bringing Ishtar and all that implies into the fold of ancient Greek gods is also a good move. In practice though she’s just another whimsical god that wants Bell. We’ve seen it already and in my opinion, we’ve seen it better.

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Can’t argue that. Freya, like Apollo is just another throw away god who wants to chase Bell and the real players in the game aren’t going to take that very well.

It’s not that I’m saying the character or arc is bad but it feels a little worn. There are like a dozen other Gods and Familias I rather learn about that could be used for the same plot. At least so far. I could be eating my words in a few episodes.

I do like Aisha’s relationship with Haruhime though. It hasn’t had a lot of screen time but through a few simple gestures we kind of get a feeling of closeness between the two. That said, it still feels really imbalanced because whether she’s nice about it or not Aisha is clearly making sure Haruhime doesn’t get away. Still, the scenes with these two are generally fairly sweet to watch.

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I have to be honest. I think we know Aisha from past seasons. The name sounds vaguely familiar. But I do not remember her at all.

The episode ends with another trip to the dungeon, which is something of a novelty in the current arcs given most of the action is taking place in the city. The Amazons from Ishtar familia are waiting for Bell and Bell and Mikoto, accompanied by Welf and Lily are ready to make some money in the hopes of being able to buy Haruhime back honestly from Ishtar familia.

While I think everyone can figure out that the Haruhime situation won’t be resolved that simply, I think it was a lovely effort. Bell wants to be a hero and save the girl, whether she’s a prostitute or whether she’s asked for it or not, but he isn’t willing to cross a line that will endanger his family (yet). It is nice seeing him working toward a solution and doing what he can to help Mikoto and Haruhime. Still, this whole arc is fairly important for Bell as he really does have to move beyond the idealistic kid who came to the city with dreams of being a hero and after the war game with Apollo we’ve already seen Bell take a step forward. This encounter with Haruhime and needing to think through his actions and the effect they will have on others is the next catalyst for him and it is really great watching his character slowly evolve.

I don’t know why they refuse to research the Killing Stone. Hermes made a huge deal about it.

Protagonist stupidity for plot convenience?

That’s about the only reason I could come up with.

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One positive bit of info I got out of it is that the debt may not be a big deal after all. Hestia owed 200 million (I looked it up) which is a lot but at the same time, Bell and Mikoto were thrilled to find out that it would only cost 3 million to get Haruhime free. I figure it may take a little while but if 3 million is definitely doable, in the long run 200 seems doable as well. I guess I’m an accountant at heart… It does not make me happy to learn this about myself. 

I definitely think this episode was more enjoyable than last week. It certainly felt like it finished quickly and I was kind of surprised when the end credits played because it hadn’t felt like twenty minutes. Hopefully we’re now through setting the pieces on the board and we’re ready for some more fun action from DanMachi.

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There’s a small difference in the size of their blades here.

I actually didn’t dislike last week so the comparison isn’t the same for me. They both were pleasant as far as I’m concerned. The only issue I had this week was with just how much exposition there was. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s adapted from a light novel and not a manga but I got a bit tired of having characters just explain things at me. I’m looking forward to what promises to be a more action oriented episode next week.

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Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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DanMachi Review Season 2 Episode 6 – A Different Kind of Adventure

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I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this episode which isn’t overly surprising given how I felt about this particular story in the light novels. It felt bloated and the danger felt fairly farcical compared to some of the situations Bell had been in. That said, I have been curious about how the anime was going to handle this sequence. How did you find the episode Irina?

To me it was harmless filler. I liked that they manage to get their does of fanservice in while making it plot relevant. I would call that a plus but otherwise, you’re right. It was just a little aimless and there didn’t seem to be much point to it given everything else that’s already going on.

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Starting at the beginning I actually kind of liked the introduction Ishtar was given. She actually came across as kind of god like when you compare her to someone like Hestia. Then again, maybe I just liked Ishtar’s introduction because later in the episode she gets one up on Hermes and to be honest it was nice seeing that not everything goes his way every time. Then again, I’m wondering what we’re supposed to imagine Ishtar did given the reaction we get is Hermes curled up and crying. it is kind of baffling.

Like most love goddesses, Ishtar doesn’t have the best reputation for worrying about her partnership feelings. This said, they made it pretty clear what she did to him, in my opinion. Hermes was a touch embarrassed and I’m proud of him for actually caring!

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This is also a clear moment of Lily and Welf dropping the ball. They are normally fairly reliable characters and yet despite being worried about bringing Bell into the pleasure quarter they promptly get distracted and leave him behind. Then they don’t notice he’s missing until after Mikoto has explained the whole story giving him plenty of time to be completely lost. Lily is normally far more on top of things and it just seemed convenient that this is the one time they both seem to suck.

Yeah, the entire set up was pretty contrived. I haven’t read the books so I don’t know if this is actually the case but as I said, to me it read like filler so that’s how I watched it. I didn’t worry too much about character consistency or event logic, to be honest.

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Though Haruhime’s introduction was fairly interesting. There’s so many tones going on as she tries to be all seductive, ends up fainting, then Bell and Haruhime end up sharing stories about heroes that they are both clearly fans of. There’s something really cute about their interactions here and even though it is pretty obvious (even if you haven’t read the books) that Mikoto’s story line about wanting to find a friend and Bell running into this random character from the far-east are going to collide, I kind of enjoyed this section of the episode.

I like fox girls. I wonder if she faints every time? Maybe some people have fainting girl fetishes and that’s how she makes her money. The hooker with a heart of gold is one of the oldest and most common archetypes in fiction. I’m looking forward to seeing how DanMachi uses it.

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But, by far my least favourite part of the episode was Aisha and Phryne and the Amazons chasing Bell. It didn’t feel quite as overblown as it did when reading it but it isn’t the last time we’re going to play tag with these characters. Honestly, Phryne’s description was bad enough to read but seeing her character realised in anime just makes her look more ridiculous and Aisha is all over the place in terms of being able to figure out what she actually wants.

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I guess I just didn’t give it as much thought really. I had no issue with either character personally. Aisha was a lot like all the gods that just want Bell and are all fickle about it and Phryne was a basic comic relief character. I guess it could get annoying if we end up seeing a lot more of her since she seems a little like a one trick pony.

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Then or course we have Bell himself. We discussed last week his dreams of being surrounded by maids being a little silly given Bell’s reaction to actually getting female attention. This week he’s getting a lot of female attention and he’s acting like somehow his is worse than being attacked by monsters. While I’ll admit the sight of Phryne would probably make a lot characters run away, his general reaction to all of the girls is incredibly exaggerated and seems a little overblown given some of the things Bell has managed to get through.

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As I said when I reviewed the book, this wasn’t my favourite part but there are still some good moments in it and it leads on to bigger and better stories later as it does some needed world building. Still, by itself, this episode certainly wasn’t great.

I agree, you shouldn’t judge the series by this episode. It was a bit disorganized and aimless but it wasn’t downright bad or anything. An okay distraction for fans of the show.

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Irina 2020

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DanMachi Review Season 2 Episode 5 – Home, Family and Crippling Debt

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I fully understand the point of this episode in terms of the overall story and yet at the same time I found this bridging section to be awkward even when reading the story as well. They’ve done a reasonable job of adapting it for the anime but that doesn’t alter the fact that this is strictly a transition between one conflict and the next and it isn’t the most elegantly handled.

What did you think about the adventures of Hestia familia this week Irina?

I thought the episode seemed fairly on par with the season. I honestly wouldn’t have noticed any clumsiness if you hadn’t mentioned it.  In fact I still don’t. Of course I don’t have the novels to compare it to. I’m assuming they are simply better written.

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Despite being a transitional episode, they do still manage to deliver some fairly important points throughout the episode. Firstly, we have the Hestia familia celebrating and they have a lot to celebrate as they point out themselves, recapping their achievements over the past few episodes. However, the last one is the one we didn’t know before and that is that Bell has gone up yet another level and is now a level 3 adventurer. It is really cool to see that he’s still getting stronger considering that is his dream and that his unique skill allows him to grow incredibly fast provided he’s passionate about it.

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I do really love their family symbol though.

Bell is good at everything. I’m still waiting for a moment when he’ll just screw up something royally through his own fault. I think it will give a bit of depth and relatability to the character. This wasn’t the episode for it mind you, we were celebrating!

I liked Soma’s cameo at the beginning. I found it really touching. For some reason, I am just so intrigued by that character. Maybe there’s nothing to him…

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I also enjoyed his brief appearance as it made it clear that Lily still has that history and she hasn’t just discarded all of that. It would be nice to see whether anything changes for the Soma familia in the future.

We then get a bit of a look at the mansion they’ve moved into it and it is kind of nice having a bit of down time with these characters. Seeing Mikoto’s genuine excitement over the bath they’ve had built and Welf’s quiet pride at having his own workshop ready to go are both lovely moments. Less thrilling is Lily and Hestia’s banter when they start wondering about hiring maids and then decide, based on Bell’s reaction that wouldn’t be such a great idea.

I mean, it does make sense and all, given Bell became an adventurer because his grandfather told him he could meet girls, but at the same time, given Bell’s personality, his fantasy about being surrounded by maids just seemed somewhat less than genuine.

I know. There are a few harem elements in DanMachi but it feels like the story just abandoned that idea and now we have these random little tidbits left over. Bell’s only ever shown interest in one girl no matter how many have shown interest in him and he’s always respectful.

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Soon we see Daphne and Cassandra again as Cassandra is trying to get into the mansion because she dreamed her pillow was there. I love this small moment because while it means almost nothing now, these small encounters between Bell and Cassandra will eventually pay off, so what seems like a weird little sequence that has little weight is actually quietly laying some ground work for the future. Not to mention, I just like Cassandra and Daphne’s dynamic. Then again, how do you find them Irina given they really haven’t had all that much screen time? Have they left any kind of impression or are they just kind of there?

I quite like Daphne. Part of that is due tho the fact that I simply like the oracle in Greek mythology and all her many re-imaginings and part of it is the fact that I like space cadet characters.  I’ll be honest, I’m not entirely sure I would recognize Cassandra if you showed me a picture right now. But I do know who she is in terms of being A fairly high ranking member of Apollo’s familia? I think.

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This is Cassandra.

By the way, they didn’t really explain what happens to the children now that the god is exiled. Do they have to go with him or are they homeless. Are they still part of the familia? How does that work?

I don’t know the full ins and outs but I do know most of Apollo’s followers are looking for new familia’s to join so I guess they are just cut free?

After this we skip onto the main part of the episode which is Hestia’s recruitment drive. Now that the family have gained some fame for their success in the war game Hestia is looking to expand. The various reactions of the current members were all pretty interesting to note.

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 However, as silly as the whole sequence is, I love that it comes back to Hestia’s debt that she incurred back in season one on behalf of Bell. This plot point had kind of disappeared when it seemed like such a big deal at the time that Hestia had managed to get this one of a kind knife. The fact that she always waved it off like nothing didn’t change the fact that it was a huge deal that she had the goddess of the forge make it for her child. I also love Hestia’s attempt to downplay it here as not ‘bad debt’.

Bell’s reaction was equally amusing as he realised just how valuable the knife is that he’s been running around using. Admittedly, that is exactly why Hestia got it for him, but it is still daunting to realise the value of something you’ve been using to cut through monsters.

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Hestia should really have requested that Apollo taken on her debt when she won the war game!

The good part is, no one seems to be in a hurry to collect so they can take their time coming up with the payment. It’s a nice built in excuse to go fight random monsters or explore dungeons.

However, the episode inevitably becomes an extended bath scene at the end. I guess we all saw it coming as soon as we saw that they’d had the baths built and the two entrances. Bell and Welf are in one room having a bath and conversation and Hestia, soon joined by Lily and Mikoto are in the other listening in on the conversation. There’s no surprise in this scene given this type of fan-service has been in the series since the beginning, but it remains something that doesn’t really grab me about the show and still doesn’t really feel necessary to it. Ultimately it doesn’t really seem to be aiming to titillate or amuse and so it more seems like fan-service because fan-service. I don’t know, what did you think of the sequence?

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It was a fun reversal of the classic tropes with the girls trying to peep in on the guys, this said there were extended scenes of the camera aimed squarely at Hestia’s painfully pressed chest as she was trying to climb over the wall so I’m not going to say titilate wasn’t one of the goals.

Speaking of which, has the fanservice gotten way more intense this season. I’m having a bit of trouble with it. There have been regular scenes, twice this episode, where the camera is so focused on Hestia’s cleavage or backside that they cut her head off screen even though she’s talking. Seems kind of rude to do that to a goddess.

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If you want to see the girls in the bath pressing up against the wall you will just have to watch the episode.

I don’t know that the fan-service got more intrusive given there were plenty of shots in the first season that were equally fanservice focused. I think this episode just didn’t have enough else going on to keep things moving and so those scenes stood out more. Incidentally, if you’ve watched the OVA which is essentially a dungeon fantasy version of a hot springs visit, this episode was actually a bit tame compared.

While this one certainly isn’t my favourite episode, it has effectively moved us beyond the war game. With the ending focusing in on Mikoto it is clear we aren’t getting much down time before launching into the next arc which is probably for the best. This is one of those episodes that if you were binge watching the series would probably not really be noticed, but as a stand alone while watching weekly, it just doesn’t have the same excitement as some of the other episodes this series has delivered.

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I have to say, I liked it. It was focused and easy going. There wasn’t much to it, certainly, but it didn’t have any plot holes or character inconsistencies so I have nothing to complain about.Also, I don’t think I ever get a chance to say this, I really like the ED. It’s fun and the music is popping.

I wonder if we’ll get an episode that both of us just love?

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Irina 2020

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DanMachi Review Season 3 Episode 4 – The Winner Takes All

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Karandi - Avatar

Oh yes!
Go Bell, Welf, Ryu, Mikoto and Lily.
Irina, did you know the reason I love this anime so much, is because of how stupidly optimistic these characters make me feel? And this episode made me feel like literally anything was possible. I love walking away from an episode on a high like that. How did this episode work for you?

It was fun. I was really looking forward to the start of the war games. I tend to like adventure anime and I’m not watching one this season. (Although I am watching the second season of Log Horizon and it is wonderful but that show has a lot of layers to it and ends up with surprisingly few straight forward action episodes.)

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I still haven’t actually gotten back to Log Horizon. I abandoned it a few episodes into season one because I just didn’t care about the characters and found it was moving too slowly. It is always on the list to get back to but somehow I never do.

Alright, so the war game begins and despite having three days, Bell’s party launches a string of fairly vicious attacks from the word go. There’s fantastic moments for each character reminding us of their particular skills and we move through this really quickly but it doesn’t feel rushed, more like intense. What did you think?

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Not that much. Not in a bad way. I just don’t really have anything to say about it.

Syr gets to farewell Bell and give him a pendant for luck before he goes off to the game. Then she gets to stand around and fret for the episode. A position that Eina, Ais, and most of the other characters who aren’t in either Apollo’s or Hestia’s families are stuck in. Still, there are some nice touches with Mord (the guy who attacked Bell back in the dungeon back in season one and then fought with him against Goliath) betting his money on Bell. It reminds us that some people have seen Bell’s potential and are sticking with it.

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