Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Episode 10 – I’m Going to Miss the Tiger

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Review (some spoilers):

As Tiger echoes my thoughts about little interest in a make-believe war (where the context and stakes are still so incredibly vague there’s genuinely no reason for the audience to care) I have to admit this episode was one of the better ones this show has delivered. Part of that comes courtesy of one of the few characters I have kind of cared about being the focus with Tiger finally getting to explain their issue with Ox. The fact that it is one of those ridiculous fake outs and she actually likes the guy (or respects him or something) and he forgot her which is why she’s annoyed, doesn’t make the episode less fun to watch, though it did kind of highlight that Ox is an incredibly boring character.

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Anyway, Rabbit is dead but not in the way that so many characters in this show have been, though my question is how does dead rabbit get controlled given the Rabbit is dead? That’s enough to do my head in and even if you were to argue that Rabbit’s dead brain could still function as the control centre, the body was still clearly moving after the brain got cleaved in two by Ox so now I’m just confused. If the bodies can move without being controlled, was Rabbit actually doing anything at all earlier?

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Dead Rabbit’s contribution was to effectively cut the final contestants down to Ox and Rat (who is still missing mind you), though I suspect Ox is going to have something to say to Rabbit before we get to a final show down. So, is there any room left for a twist given the characters have maintained strict Zodiac order for their death leaving the two we could have picked back at the start alive? Well, Rabbit might take out Ox or maybe Rat will just stay in hiding or maybe they will bother to have the guys placing bets take some sort of action, but pretty much I’m expecting little from this show. We did however get some fairly pretty reflections in this episode from convenient rain that only seemed to hit the characters when it suited the plot for it to happen.

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But I did enjoy this more than some other episodes. I guess we’ll find out who the final match will be between next week. Keeping in mind we still haven’t had the Rabbit’s back story which is definitely breaking the pattern.


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King’s Game Episode 9: Emotional Tension Despite a Lack of Logic

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Review (some spoilers):

Pointing out holes in the logic of King’s Game is pointless as well as stupid at this point in time. It is clear the story isn’t logical and isn’t trying to be. So the absence of parents at the hospital when two separate teenagers have been admitted with every finger on one hand broken is more or less the standard for this narrative. Questioning it doesn’t get you any closer to anything and it is just one more massive gap in the believability of the world constructed here so you may as well just shrug and move on.

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Despite the inherently broken nature of the plot, the show continues to give some really strong emotional moments and definitely manages to engage the audience in these scenes. Natsuko and Aimi’s break downs during the finger breaking game followed by the twist we all knew was coming but didn’t know what form it would take. Things were going too well for Nobuaki this episode and this show has been all about kicking Nobuaki when he is down but somehow never really getting close to killing him.

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And it makes sense. Nobuaki is really the only character the audience has had any chance to connect with and he’s been set up as the tragic hero. He keeps trying to save everyone around him and fails miserably, meanwhile the saps keep sacrificing themselves to keep him alive so that he can fail to save everyone else. It is insane and yet somehow works because it is just so horrible.

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Still, with smashed and snapped fingers, emotional manipulation, and everyone completely shattered by the end of this episode, I’m guessing the final episodes are going to be explosive. Particularly as we still have ten warm bodies in this show and all evidence points to there only being one survivor.


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Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Episode 5: And The Old Guy Rambles On

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Review:

The Sheep gets some backstory. Is anyone surprised that rather than focusing on the Rat, Snake, Monkey, Rabbit face-off from last week we instead listen to an old guy ramble while he plays with animal models and makes plans about people who are already dead? Good luck partnering with Dog or Boar.

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On the other hand, it seems like the pattern of dying in order of the zodiac isn’t broken yet because the Horse isn’t dead and no-one died yet this episode the Monkey may yet still be the next one to bite the dust. And everyone is so dismissive of Rat and his chances of winning it just kind of makes me think that’s where this is going and that would be incredibly disappointing.

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Though not as much as the reveal of why the Juni Taisen exists which they hit us with in the beginning of this episode. I wasn’t expecting much of a reason given how long they held off on telling us anything, but really? Great. Let’s have a war between twelve warrior,s place bets on them and somehow use that to redraw the global map every twelve years? That’s totally rational. As I said, wasn’t expecting much but this was kind of the minimum possible effort to give a reason for the premise.

Oh well, at least there is some promise of something changing once we are down to half the number of warriors so they’ve managed once again to hook my curiosity sufficiently that I don’t just roll my eyes and walk away and at least this remains really pretty to look at from an animation point of view even if both the story and the characters are leaving me feeling just a little bit uninspired.


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King’s Game Episodes 3 + 4: These Kids Will Need So Much Therapy – Assuming They Live

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Review Episode 3:

This show continues to be plagued with various problems but by far the worst aspect of it is we are watching round two of the King’s Game for Nobuaki but they keep sending us back for extended periods of time to the first game. The first game being far more interesting with a far more likeable cast. It just kind of makes the problems of the current group of students more apparent and episode 3 actually spends so much time back in the past when we jump again to the current timeline it took me a moment to remember what was even going on.

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That said, this week gave the audience some really cold moments and kind of nailed the horror of this situation. The popularity poll, various characters’ despair, the fake out with the punishment not being death and then a truly horrible punishment being specified in the conditions of the next task… It all just worked really well at making this situation seem utterly and completely horrific. With better execution this could be a truly fantastic horror story and yet it comes up wanting.

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Still, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying it. This is a great example of popcorn fiction where if you don’t think too hard and aren’t after quality you can have quite a bit of fun with the viewing experience (provided of course girls splattering out of windows and images of self-immolation – not actually followed through in the reality – fit within your definition of fun viewing).

Review Episode 4:

And I remain convinced that if they had just told the story of Nobuaki’s first encounter with the King this would be a much better show. The flash back this week focused on the time a girl tried to find the King by issuing an order to herself to touch the King under the assumption that the King was in her class. That ended pretty badly but it is the kind of situation where the audience knowing how bad an idea it is makes the whole thing kind of thrilling to watch.

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Unfortunately, the present day story isn’t faring so well with Nobuaki clearly having learned nothing from his first round. He’s still making baseless assumptions and while there is nothing new about stupid characters in horror, the fact that a number of people seem to think he is a good thinker and trust his ideas really concerns me.

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The line above really bothered me. Just because a King’s Game may have been held in the village (no idea what evidence Nobuaki has for that one but hopefully we’ll find out later) doesn’t mean there is any clue as to how to stop the game. The story Nobuaki told seemed to indicate everyone died so clearly they didn’t actually find a way to stop the game so assuming there are any clues of use there is kind of insane. Not to mention, Nobuaki’s comment that it was probably the first game, indicates he has no idea. He’s just assuming because it is the oldest one he knows about.

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Still, for all the idiotic decision making and assumptions, one thing remains clear. Nobuaki is desperate not to admit he is going to fail and that people are going to die. He would rather dish out false hope and cling to any possibility than accept despair.  He’s also surrounded by characters who are so desperate for hope they will cling to his empty words though it has been interesting to see their reactions at crunch times with some thanking him for trying while others become disgusted by the hollowness of the entire situation.

So yeah, this show is still full of problems but intriguing enough and maybe when they finally get to the village they’ll start advancing the present day plot more than the previous game.


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Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Episode 3: Points for the Episode Title

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Review with spoilers:

I’ve made it fairly clear that so far Zodiac War hasn’t exactly been amazing viewing and this week isn’t an exception. That said, I actually enjoyed this episode significantly more than episode 1 or 2 because the Chicken was actually kind of a fun character: you know, before they inevitably cut down the one character we’ve actually learned about during the episode.

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This show has clearly set its formula in stone with giving us glimpses of a character’s past and the messed up life they have had, as well as their internal thoughts about the other characters and the fight, before terminating their life in a gory and what seems to be an attempt at surprising twist at the end of an episode though given it has now been repeated three times that leaves something to be desired.

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However, the Chicken had far more personality and was far more interesting to learn about than either the Boar or the Dog, though no better at making me sympathetic for the ending we all kind of saw coming. If we get another plus out of this episode it is that the Boar is finished for good and isn’t a walking zombie boar anymore.

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Although, as the post title suggests, this episode has a pretty fun title though ultimately that gives away not only the death of the Chicken (though I guess that was kind of inevitable) but also the one who will strike the blow:

Cutting a Chicken with a Beef Cleaver

Clever? Yes. Leaving any room for any kind of surprise in the episode? Not really.

And once again we learn nothing of why the zodiac’s are fighting or who is in charge of setting up this match or even what they actually achieve if they win. I was pretty sure I was going to drop this show this week but then I kind of liked the episode despite having issues with the overall story (or lack of overall story other than ‘kill each other’). Still, looking at the good points of this show (it looks great, the character designs are interesting if a little crazy at times, there is definitely potential for the story, and well it is hard to really stuff up a battle royal too much) I’m probably keeping this on my watch list and maybe it will grow on me.


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Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Episode 2: Dead Boar Walking

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Review – Minor Spoiler:

After episode 2, I’m still pretty underwhelmed by this one. It looks fantastic, I have no complaints about the visuals or animation. Yet, I was bored during a lot of this episode.

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The Boar was dead at the end of the previous episode and is now shuffling about in true zombie fashion, marching to the beat of the crazy rabbit’s drum. Therefore we go into this second episode pretty much knowing nothing about anyone else, save the Boar’s opinion of them and then things begin. We chop and change from character to character spending time with the Monkey and the Rat who are hiding out in the sewers, also the Ox gets a few lines of monologue on, the Horse has a brief appearance, the old guy who’s animal I’ve forgotten entirely sits on a step and plots, some girl who has some tail sticking out as an easily grabbed accessory meanders by in a shot, and then we sort of focus on the Dog and Chicken as they team up.

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The issue of course being that we already know that any alliance here is going to be incredibly short lived and we know nothing about either character save a brief flash back we get of the Dog which just made me suspect he was going to be the next designated victim. Then he starts narrating much the same way the Boar did and he also has some incredible confidence. He kind of walked into that death flag. But again, we don’t know enough about him to care or the Chicken girl and the Ox’s encounter with the Horse is all but completely meaningless to us given they are but names at this stage and have no substance.

It is interesting in that they haven’t even told me enough about the characters to make me dislike them. They are just nothing at this point and time. As a result, it doesn’t matter how hard this show tries to shock with gore, betrayals, twists, or super powers because I have no reason to be invested. I still don’t know why this war is happening because no one ever bothered to explain it. I don’t know why these characters are participating or even bothered to show up and none of them have really been given a motive save the Monkey who may be trying to stop it but joining a death match doesn’t seem the best way to end it. I still don’t know who organised it or what they get out of it.

Basically, if you can simply enjoy watching the characters roam around and kill each other I guess there’s something here and maybe sooner or later they’ll get around to explanations, but right now it all just seems like they expect that killing someone dramatically will make for interesting viewing regardless of who that someone is and what reason there is for their death.


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Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Episode 1: Not Entirely Sure you Can Get A Season Out Of This

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Overview:

The record of the bloody battle between the twelve proud warriors— The 12th Twelve Tournament that gets held every twelve years… Twelve brave warriors who bear the names of the signs of the zodiac fight each other for the lives and souls. The participants are twelve very strange warriors: “Rat,” “Ox,” “Tiger,” “Rabbit,” “Dragon,” “Snake,” “Horse,” “Goat,” Monkey,” “Rooster,” “Dog,” and “Pig.” The victor of this tournament gets to have one wish granted, whatever the wish may be. The one wish they want granted— Who will be the final survivor?

– From Crunchyroll

Review – Episode Spoilers Ahead:

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Okay, seriously, how is this a whole series? This episode is told from the boar’s perspective and she gets to the venue, finds out the rules for the seemingly idiotic death match (I assume we’ll get some justification though this story does not seem big on rationalizing), the match starts, an alliance almost forms and after that someone blows up the floor and we see boar girl face off with bunny boy and then the one character the audience has had any chance to connect with is killed.

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Um, right. So was I supposed to be interested in the other guys who may have combined spoken 100 words this episode? Am I meant to look forward to endless flashbacks of their traumatic childhood as they were prepped for this insanity?

Basically, other than ‘hey, cool death match’ this episode doesn’t do anything because the only characterisation they offered us ceased to be relevant by the end. The match itself isn’t actually interesting yet because other than vague ‘you’ll get a wish granted’ comment, there’s no actual motive or reason for this match. No motive, no characters to care about yet… it isn’t a great start.

Plus, they gave all the characters poison which will kill them in 12 hours. So each episode is going to be like an hour in real time and using flashbacks to fill in the rest of the run time (speculation)?

I guess there were supposed to be some shocks and gasps at some of the violence, gore, and trauma, particularly of the childhood the girl endured, but to be honest it all just kind of felt flat. It was more a shopping list of shocking imagery rather than an actual emotive viewing experience.

So, maybe this will draw me in more once I know some of the other characters, but my honest first opinion of this is it isn’t exactly getting me excited for what is to come. Which is kind of a shame because this is one I was kind of looking forward to. Oh well. I’ll give it another couple of episodes and then decide.


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