In Another World With My Smartphone Episode 5: Slimes… Sigh.

Review Episode 5:

Well, we knew from earlier episode comments that green slimes existed in this world and that they dissolved clothing so I guess we all knew this episode was coming. Given the premise they were actually fairly tame in how far they went with this one though it is the usual kind of anime stupidity that makes non-anime fans roll their eyes at the entire industry.

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And in case the slimes weren’t enough for the episode we then have Touya starting to combine his magic spells with his smartphone functionality and one of the results is seeing through the wall to one of his female companions as she changes. Maybe they have some fan service quota they have to hit for a show like this and due to the tame nature so far they decided to get a lot of points this episode.

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Though, if you can get past all that silliness, and it really is silly and not overly disturbing or offensive, then we actually get a reasonably sweet story about Touya helping out a couple of his companions and continuing to learn how he can use his smart phone in this new world. Even the slime section had some good moments for the group so all and all the episode is kind of fun.

I just want to know why only the girls ended up with dissolved clothes when we could have easily dumped our protagonist into the mix for an equally unnecessary but at least slightly novel outcome to the scenario.


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Gamers Episode 5: This Makes Me Wonder If Being Socially Inept is Contagious?

Review:

I’m kind of in a bind with this show. I really like watching the episodes… but, looking at this episode objectively I really shouldn’t be enjoying this. The characters are all acting too stupid for words, too stupid even for cliché gamer characters with limited social skills, and they seem to be acting stupider by the minute. I should be annoyed, exasperated, or eye-rolling and bored, and yet I’m laughing.

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At this point each character thinks every other character has a thing for every other character and none of them have a clue who actually likes them and it is all just kind of depressing when you think about it. It would be slightly better if even one character knew who had a crush on them and just didn’t like them back, but no, instead every character is living is blissful ignorance of reality and imposing their own misinterpreted view on events.

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The game club is almost a non-entity in this show now as these characters who rejected it are now having ‘meet-ups’ apparently to discuss gaming but more to manipulate the relationships just a little bit more. All and all it is messy and the narrative is really going nowhere because we’re just watching these characters go through the train-wreck that is their attempt at a social life.

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Still, between the upbeat, game themed music in the background, and the absolutely serious way our main character delivers lines that are completely going to be misconstrued, I’m having a really good time watching this show. This was not a good episode from a character or story point of view, but it was fun and maybe for this season that is enough.


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Fastest Finger First Episode 6: Have Phone = Have Social Life, Maybe

Review:

Koshiyama is on an outing with a friend, or at least a classmate in the same club as him so that kind of counts. And he is armed with a smartphone gifted to him by his parents so now he’s out to collect your contact info. Unfortunately, making friends isn’t exactly covered within the phone manual.

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I found this sequence kind of adorable given I always used to love reading the manuals that came with new devices. Saddest thing ever was when they stopped including anything more than basic specs and part guides and made you go online to actually find out how to use the device. Even the Kindle guide only tells you how to open the user manual on the Kindle – tragic but not relevant to the show.

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This episode sees our budding quiz bowl players in an arcade playing a quiz game and of course rival boy is there as well. There’s some back and fourth, some new quiz formats and discussion of how to get faster or better, and some general quizzing before your cliché bullies show up and then get taken out by another character that looks too distinct to be a random one episode character so my bet is they are showing up at a quiz meet later.

Outside of this we get the brief side story of technology girl and the club leader shopping for parts to make the buzzers, and the quiz obsessed girl helping her friend at a maid cafe for reasons that only the word ‘anime’ can explain.

I’ll be honest, this is not such a great episode. Barely anything happens and while there are some laughs to be had with less quizzes and very little narrative going on the characters were left to carry the bulk of the episode and they just aren’t up to the task, despite my finding the main character adorable in an incredibly geeky way.


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Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Episode 6: It’s Dangerous Trying to Please Everyone

Review:

This week the episode focusses on Ozaki, who is apparently writing a manga. He introduces a character based on Aoyama but becomes upset by that character’s popularity when he’d tried to make him the villain. As he attempts to sabotage the character, the manga loses popularity and he is forced to try to turn things around even as his overall dislike of Aoyama continues.

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I actually really enjoyed this episode. I found Ozaki’s frustration at the audience reaction to his story quite amusing and the way he interpreted the world around him and translated it into his stories was also kind of entertaining. Though, the most amusing thing is that by the end of the episode, despite watching Aoyama for a large part of this episode, Ozaki still doesn’t understand Aoyama. Admittedly, most of the school doesn’t as they all kind of project their own ideas onto him and Aoyama is too detached to either notice or care, but in Ozaki’s case he has seriously caused a problem for himself by trying to write a character based on a person he just doesn’t get.

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So not so much cleaning or soccer this week (though both make a brief appearance just so we are reassured the writers did not forget their own gimmicks). I remain pleasantly surprised by how watchable this is but it still isn’t all that great.


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In Another World With My Smartphone Episode 4: Touya Might Redefine Overpowered At This Rate

Review Episode 4:

In Another World With My Smartphone is very good at making me smile. The show is stupid, and it is playing on every cliché and trope you would expect from an isekai anime, now including the random Princess character who has decided she absolutely must marry the protagonist even if that means waiting two years, yet despite that I cannot help but smile and sometimes even laugh at this show.

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The start of this episode kind of looked like we were going for a more serious, political tone with the King being poisoned an ambassador being accused but then, just when it looked like things might become tense, Touya uses his ‘slip’ spell on an annoying count and sends him tumbling down the stairs. I’m going to be honest, that whole ‘slip’ thing may become the most overused gag in this show, but I don’t really think I want them to stop doing it. There’s just something inherently funny and immensely satisfying about watching either an obnoxious person or a monster just suddenly fall over at Touya’s say so.

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My one genuine criticism was the tiger’s voice after it decided to take on a chibi form. That might get annoying in an episode or two. Otherwise, the harem continues to expand, Touya continues to be oblivious and absolutely brilliant at everything, and all and all, this continues to be a lot of fun to watch even while it isn’t doing anything we haven’t seen a million times before.


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Gamers Episode 4: Do You Need a Reason?

Review Episode 4:

This episode focuses on Tendou as we see her perception of her daily life before and after meeting Amano. It’s interesting in that while she was playing at being the perfect everything before, afterward she is a more real person and yet she sees this as her not being herself. Admittedly, all of this is embedded in the usual high school unrequited love trope and to be honest I’m not that interested in the subject matter, however as we’ve had three episodes to kind of get used to these characters I’m a little more invested than I might otherwise be.

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It boils down to Tendou needing to figure out what she actually wants and why. She seriously thought she knew why she enjoyed gaming but Amano’s views shake her up and challenge her position. At first she sees his views as opposed to hers but she starts to realise the issue isn’t black and white, though that just adds to her confusion, shakes her focus, and ultimately she just isn’t playing like she used to.

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Despite the weak high school girl has crush on oblivious boy storyline running through this episode, it touches on quite a few interesting points and Tendou as a character is more than just a catalyst now. All and all, this show remains surprisingly decent and entertaining to watch.


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Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Episodes 4 + 5: They’re Multiplying

Review Episode 4:

With the exception of one ball being used as a projectile weapon inside a game world, there was absolutely zero soccer involved in this episode. Instead we mostly follow the internal thoughts of a guy named Narita who apparently is also a clean freak but has chosen to try to conceal the fact and keep things around him clean through subterfuge.

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Not sure exactly what the point of this episode was other than showing the contrast of how people in the class treat Aoyama when they know he’s a clean freak compared to the almost daily trauma they inflict on the guy they don’t know about. And the random cooking competition mid-episode was just that: totally random.

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Despite everything going on, Aoyama remains his usual self although we do get a glimpse of what he might be like in a world without germs in the few instances we see his virtual avatar inside the game. Again, not sure what the point is but it wasn’t exactly unpleasant to watch either.

Review Episode 5:

Well, we’re back to playing soccer and now one of the idiots on the team gets a focus. Apparently he was bullied in middle school and… you know, his story’s kind of boring and I never really did care about his character before this episode and nothing during the episode really turned that around.

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There’s a whole message about teams winning or losing together and then there’s a power of friendship thing going on. Basically, wrap up any feel good message and drop it into the story with a few cheap jokes (though I didn’t mind when the guy randomly turned into a cat in the toilet and destroyed the toilet paper roll).

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I will point out that Aoyama’s fans remain as annoying as ever and to be honest I don’t know how he puts up with that on a daily basis. But at least we will never forget the title character’s name.

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This one is wearing a little thin for me at this point.


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The Eccentric Family Season 2 Series Review: How Much Trouble Can One Tanuki Get Into?

Overview:

As I went to write this, it occurred to me that I have yet to actually review season 1 of this show so I really must bump that up my priority list given reviewing season 2 without season 1 just seems odd. That said, season 2 picks up the story in the year following the events of season 1 and the tanuki are still trying to elect a trick magister and Yasaburo’s way too serious brother Yaichiro is still trying to follow in his father’s footsteps and assume the role. However, Yasaburo is not content to just have one thing going so once again he is interfering in tengu and human affairs as things get more and more out of control. I reviewed this week to week so if you are interested in my individual episode thoughts, click here.

Review:

The Eccentric Family is one of those very odd anime where there is a story and you could boil it down fairly simply in terms of the main plot, and yet that is almost incidental to what you are actually going to be watching. Season 2 follows the same format as season 1, in that we’ll mostly be following Yasaburo on his rambles around as he stirs up trouble and mischief, offers ‘advice’, and generally seeks out trouble for the sake of having a bit of fun. That said, season 2 seems to have decided it was time for a number of the cast members to grow up and so we have far more focus on romance and relationships outside of the family than in the previous season. There’s also a few quite dark moments (though season 1 did deal with the fall out of their father getting eaten so even though it is a comedy it isn’t as though it wasn’t always dealing with tragedy in one form or another).

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Because of the large cast and the rambling nature of the plot, it is more or less impossible to summarise the story given any summary is going to leave out massive amounts of subplot, all of which come back into the main storyline eventually. Basically season 2 follows yet another attempt at tanuki society electing a new trick magister only this time things seem to be going relatively smoothly for Yaichiro with almost no-one in tanuki society standing against him. The issue comes that Akadama-sensei has refused to be the tengu representative and has instead appointed Benten (who eats tanuki) and so the tanuki ask the recently returned not-tengu (his own insistence), Nidaime, to oversee the election instead, which really upsets Benten. Clearly that’s not all that is going on given we have a trip to hell, the return of the banished uncle, not one but two budding romances, the Friday Fellows seeking out yet another tanuki to eat, and multiple other storylines just bubbling along. Despite the sheer amount of content this show packs in it never feels overly rushed and even when things initially feel random, you know they will make sense eventually so you kind of just wait for them to twist back into the main narrative and then it all just kind of clicks.

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Basically, if you liked season 1 and enjoyed this eccentric cast walking around and having off beat conversations while stuff happens and they react, then season 2 gives you more of the same with a slightly more mature tone at times and with Yasaburo having a few more moments of reflection given even he realises that eventually his actions are going to get him killed.

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My favourite part of season 2, other than the music and the character designs which I loved in season 1 as well, was the inclusion of Nidaime. Any scene where he and Benten appeared together was fantastic. The tension between those characters and the occasional explosive encounters were well worth waiting for though I regret that they didn’t get a chance to meet in the aftermath as it would be interesting to see where they’ve ended up after that final encounter.

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Benten is still a fantastic support character in her own right, stealing literally every scene she is in, but this season she isn’t alone amongst a seemingly male dominated cast as Kaisei and Gyokuran (the two tanuki love interests) definitely step into the spot light at times (and isn’t it nice that these fool brothers are finding some fairly sensible matches to help keep them from going too far).

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The one complaint I would raise is that the ‘magic’ seems to have gone missing from a lot of this season. Yes, the tanuki still do transform but this is for the most part no big deal. There are a few encounters between Nidaime and Benten, however the last of them ends in hair pulling and barely anything of note (other than a storm being summoned and how jaded am I that this barely registered as magical). Basically, season 1 had a sense of wonder about the supernatural even as it worked to integrate the magical world into the city of Kyoto. Season 2 makes everything fairly common place and a lot of the wonder has just kind of fizzled. Admittedly, it was replaced by higher emotional stakes but I missed that feeling as I watched this season.

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If you’ve never given The Eccentric Family a go, don’t start with season 2. It assumes an understanding of the events of season 1 and the relationships between most of the characters are already pre-established and assumed knowledge. That said, this is one anime worth trying because it is kind of zany fun with a lot of drama thrown in and certainly feels a bit different.


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Gamers Episodes 2 + 3: Not Game Over For Amano

Review Episode 2:

This story might be a little heavy handed in delivering its message and asserting the independence of its characters but it is really great to watch unfold. In between the nostalgic blips and bloops of classic gaming music and characters genuinely enjoying their hobby, we see the fall out of Amano’s rejection for joining the gaming club. His classmates (in fact the whole school) are gossiping and he’s more or less oblivious. Enter Uehara (guy with the pink haired girlfriend) to give us the grass is not greener on the other side story.

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Basically, Uehara was a gamer but decided he wanted to not be that person in high school and so transformed himself. But which is the better option? Amano is essentially ostracised in the classroom (originally by his own shy personality and now by gossip and rumours) and Uehara is forcing himself to act in a way that doesn’t suit in order to ensure acceptance. The fact that events this episode seem to lead to a friendship forming between the pair just makes it more interesting to see where they are all going.

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What really surprised was that Amano has yet to actually join the game club. I kind of thought after rejecting it last episode, he’d reflect and after a few minor mishaps this episode he’d cave and rock up to the club room. I’m impressed the series didn’t go there in episode 2. By the way, the theme song (actually all the music) for this show, rocks.

Review Episode 3:

It’s just like watching a train wreck as Amano is forced into and attempts to interact with others. The love triangle (square/pentagon/whatever) quickly forms even though basically everyone is just making assumptions about everyone else. Given they still aren’t in the game club, I wonder if ultimately they are going to make their own group, or just keep gaming alone-together but it hardly even matters at this point because this story really did take on a life of its own separate from the usual girl tries to get guy into club.

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There were a few moments this episode where felt the obvious comedy elements were intruding on what is otherwise a really fun and enjoyable story, but mostly the jokes are hitting the mark for me and that’s probably to do with the subject matter and the fact that I appreciate these characters even as they simply take on assigned roles.

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I’m really loving watching this and while I’m not declaring it a must watch, I think for people who grew up as gamers, this is going to be a fun ride.


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Clean Freak Aoyama-Kun Episodes 2 + 3: Cute Bat, Crazy Girl

Review Episode 2:

Part of the reason I don’t like comedy all that much is because jokes get progressively less funny with the retelling and when you can see the punch line coming. Aoyama-Kun hits us with some gags that you can see coming from a mile away and, in one case, the near half episode that they dragged out the joke until the inevitable conclusion was kind of painful even if there were some interesting parts along the way.

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Despite many of the jokes not really working for me, I still find this show kind of interesting even while I’m mostly just kind of marking time and waiting for it to get to the next thing. Aoyama-Kun is an interesting enough protagonist, though perhaps calling him the protagonist is wrong in this instance given he’s the least active participant in the story. The action revolves around his existence and he is more a spectator upon the weirdness that surrounds him.

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I kind of liked the inclusion of the female manager and at least she’s openly stalking Aoyama now instead of hiding in the background. That was kind of getting old and I’m only two episodes into it.

Review Episode 3:

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The first part of this episode bored me to tears. Partly because guy who likes to show his abs off from the first episode showed up again and then there was some random food eating contest while Aoyama sat and polished the cutlery. It was all so incredibly pointless and even the other characters admitted that so it just felt like filler and not particularly inspired filler.

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The second half of the episode we got to watch another match and Aoyama is really kind of cool to watch. Completely unrealistic, but cool. You can almost understand his horde or fans when you see him on the field. This second half was much more entertaining even if it was pretty predictable what the outcome of both the match and Aoyama’s team-mates attempt to hug him at the end.

That’s probably another thing I need to mention. Three episodes in and I cannot remember a single name other than Aoyama’s and that’s because it’s in the title and someone screams it almost every five minutes. Every other character is just kind of there. So, still watching this but it really is a forgettable experience all up.


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