Kino’s Journey – The Beautiful World Episode 3: Keeping Things Grey

Review:

Kino’s Journey so far has been a very laid back kind of story in term of its pace and tone and yet the actual events and ideas are pretty big, if a little generic. This week isn’t any different as it has Kino join a travelling country that leaves a trail in its wake.

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The opening of the episode shows us that something has gone wrong with Kino’s travels though we aren’t clued in as to what, but the sense that something had changed is only reinforced when Kino is asked how long they wish to visit the travelling country. Previously, Kino has strictly stayed somewhere for three days but here they suggest they might be staying longer than that.

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Ultimately the travelling country comes across a wall which is defended by those who live in that country. After ‘negotiations’ break down (negotiation mostly being the travelling country saying they were going to pass through and the other country telling them they couldn’t) the travelling country pretty much just cuts through and then rolls through the wall and then over that country’s agricultural area (which is apparently better than houses, though what they are going to eat if you crush their farms is a question that the show chooses deliberately to ignore) and proceeds onwards swatting aside any and all attempts to stop them.

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The obvious comparison to developed nations using superior technology and wealth to pretty much do as they like wherever they like is not subtle nor is the remark about the other country that reached too far with its wall and toll to cross the plains. The end result is something that is actually fairly pleasant to watch but uncomfortable to think about which kind of makes it pretty affective. Kino’s motive and actions are ultimately explained as is their reason for staying with the travelling country for longer than three days and once again we see Kino is moved almost entirely by self-interest in this instance. I’m fascinated by this story so far and while the questions it raises are hardly unique, the way it avoids providing an actual judgement on events (other than Kino’s) is kind of interesting.


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Just Because Episodes 2 + 3: Imagine a Transfer Student Came and Nothing Happened

Review Episode 2:

It isn’t exactly news that I don’t much like slice of life or slow romances, stories set primarily in high school or anything that is particularly slow paced… and yet then there is my absolute devotion to Kimi ni Todoke which more or less hits every one of those criteria. And while Just Because doesn’t yet have anywhere near the charm or draw that Kimi ni Todoke has, I remember the first time I watched that I wasn’t particularly impressed during early episodes but I was strangely drawn to the show. And by the time the first season ended I was in love.

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I’ll admit, I don’t actually expect Just Because to ever rival Kimi ni Todoke in my heart (given none of these characters have quite the same charm as the ones in Kimi ni Todoke) but at the same time, this is some pretty pleasant viewing. Certainly episode 2 has some lacking moments but the genuine charm and familiar interactions between characters just kind of keep drawing me in to this story even while it doesn’t exactly go anywhere.

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I’m not getting my hopes up too high, but I am honestly enjoying this so far and I’m kind of hoping for some low key entertainment out of this.

Review Episode 3:

This episode gave me a very Haruhi Suzumiya vibe (hence the title of the post) except that it was kind of like what would happen in Haruhi if she didn’t actually have god-like powers. A transfer student has come and the photography girl is latching on hard but he’s pretty ordinary and not particularly interested in what she’s selling.

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Otherwise, a lot of this episode went to Soma and his pursuit of the girl who seems pretty oblivious to anything resembling friendship or romance as well as the commentary or assistance of those around him.

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Really, not a lot actually happens in these episodes and normally that would bother me, but the jumping between individuals and groups as more and more connections are revealed or formed is keeping this from feeling terminally slow and everything is charming enough to leave me feeling pretty happy by the end of the episode. I also kind of like Izumi as the transfer student even though he’s pretty much determined not to get involved in any of the relationship hijinks swirling around him. Okay, I just like protagonists who are low energy observers and I should probably just admit that outright.

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All and all, I’m pretty happy with how this is going. The animation quality isn’t amazing but when the characters aren’t walking or running it isn’t overly terrible. I will admit, a few sequences have had me shaking my head but mostly it is watchable and won’t detract too much from the romantic/teen drama unfolding.


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Evil or Live Episode 2: Could There Be One Nice Character In This Story?

Review:

This week we move away from the instructors and their deliberate acts of cruelty (though they do get one fairly ominous looking scene) and instead we focus on the cruelty that people can inflict upon one another once they start forming packs and seem to have absolutely zero empathy. It wouldn’t be so hard to watch except that each new character you meet seems to be more warped and twisted than the previous, to the point where for a moment I kind of thought Hibiki wasn’t so bad (then of course I remembered he’s an obnoxious little rat of a human being).

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This is certainly not comfortable viewing as we have female ‘students’ publicly groped and stripped and deals involving females sleeping with a male in order to gain access to a phone. Though one has to wonder where the instructors were during any of that and how purple hair has seemingly unlimited information access (which opens up a whole other series of issues).

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Visually this remains odd and from a story point of view, uncomfortable. Yet it is kind of like watching a train derail in slow motion so I somehow don’t think I’m going to look away just yet particularly because despite finding every character in this show so far to be hideously obnoxious, I still actually kind of want to know what happens to them (even if what happens turns out to be very bad things).

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So, not recommending this one but not dropping it either.


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My Girlfriend is Shobitch Episode 2: And Dropped

Review:

No surprise here that this one didn’t last. Once again there were some sweet moments between the two main characters utterly and completely lost amongst over the top and poorly executed lewd humour. Though I think the girl rubbing the broom stick against her own crotch was more or less the final nail in the coffin for this one (complete with close up).

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Shows like this confuse me because they don’t seem to go far enough to really appeal to the ecchi crowd but they go too far for the casual viewer to really be overly comfortable with the viewing experience.

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While I’ve certainly seen worse than this, I am definitely not the audience for this anime and so I’m leaving it right here.


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

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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Land of the Lustrous Episode 1: A Visual Feast

Overview:

In the distant future, a new immortal and genderless life form called Gems populate the Earth. The 28 Gems must fight against the Moon Dwellers, who attack them regularly to abduct them and to turn them into decorations. Each Gem is assigned a role, such as a fighter or a medic.

Being only 300 years old, Phosphophyllite is the youngest of the Gems and has no assignment yet. He wants to help to fight the Moon Dwellers, but is too weak and brittle for battle. One day the master of Gems, Kongou (Adamantine), assigns him the task of creating a natural history encyclopedia.

– from MAL

Review:

From the very beginning this episode is both beautiful and interesting. The premise is odd enough that it draws you in and as the episode progresses small details about the world and the characters are introduced. Never too many that you feel you are being subjected to an information dump, but a steady trickle of ideas that mean that by the end of this first episode it feels like enough has been stated to get the story started.

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While not much is known about any particular character at this point, the few we have met have been given definite personality traits that will hopefully flesh out with time. The shared desire to have a purpose in life kind of permeates all the interactions but never feels particularly heavy handed at this stage.

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However, where the show shines is in its visuals. While the CG may not work for everyone and the characters move oddly at times, given they are anthropomorphized gems it actually really works and the world we’ve been introduced to is beautiful. Fight sequences are stunning and the entire thing just feels well thought out from a visual point of view.

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Really glad I got to check out this episode and looking forward to the next one.


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200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 3

The third week of the Autumn anime season and  Weekend Otaku and I are sharing our thoughts on the third episode of Black Clover. If you missed it last week, here is our post on episode 2.

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Karandi’s Review:

I really don’t want to harp on about Asta’s voice and yet as I reflect on this episode the one thing that stands out to me is just how annoying it is. Over and over again he shrieks out repetitive dialogue for no apparent purpose and the inflection he puts on so many words is at best described as ear grating. This wouldn’t be a problem in a minor character, but Asta’s continuous screen presence with barely a minute between lines means that the audience suffers an ongoing assault by that voice.

Otherwise this is pretty standard train and prepare for the upcoming exam. Meanwhile everyone is still pretty much tearing Asta’s chances down (logical maybe, except this is shounen so there is really no way that he won’t eventually succeed even if he did fail the exam there would be some weird event after and he’ll get to move forward). This show has now had three episodes and while it is passable, it is really not going out of its way to impress.

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

When I saw the intro to this episode I thought the show was getting into something epic until I realized it was a sort-of flashback. If that’s what Asta imagined the Wizard King to be like, I can’t blame him for being enthusiastic. In any case, that sort of sequence might have served better for the series intro rather than the protracted start of a journey that this episode offered. While not a whole lot is actually happening, that’s not necessarily making the series bad. It’s kind of similar to how Hunter X Hunter started, but where that series had some charming characters to start off with (and some actual motivation for Gon), this one has a protagonist that really challenges viewer enjoyment.
I don’t know if Gakuto Kajiwara is to blame for the assault we’re getting on our ears each week or the directors for having him deliver that same annoying scream over and over, but just like Karandi (and I’m sure all of you as well) I’m having a really hard time putting Asta’s yelling aside and trying to focus on the rest of the episode. As for his character, I can see what they’re trying to do through his conversations about how someone’s station in life shouldn’t limit them. It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s been a bit on the nose so far and there’s little else to garner any investment in him.
Thanks Weekend and just a reminder, if you missed our review of The Ancient Magus’ Bride episode 2 you should hop on over to WeekendOtaku’s site and check it out.

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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 3: Sake, Herbs, Bees and an Attack

Review:

If the goal here is to walk through a loosely based on actual history historical setting where the cast have been replaced by pretty boy vampires and werewolves than this episode accomplishes its goal wonderfully. If there was an intention of actually helping us learn anything about these characters (other than the name of the person they are supposed to be) or to progress some sort of plot than this episode comes up short.

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That isn’t to say this isn’t still kind of fun. The vampire group meet with the werewolf group and drink sake before a contrived fetch quest sends the girl into the woods to look for herbs where she conveniently and for no apparent purpose steps on a bee hive. Seriously, they do nothing with that other than scene transition. Why even include it?

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We do however see that every single guy is going to fall for the girl regardless of her seeming lack of personality. So yes, plenty to criticise, but this still works from a switch your brain off and enjoy the pretty visuals kind of  perspective and there is still the possibility of the plot going somewhere as they do have a few scenes that indicate more is going on than drinking and flirting.


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Just Because Episode 1: Just Life

Overview:

At the end of the second semester of third year of high school, four students are prepared for graduation and feel the ending to their high school life. But that changes a little with the arrival of a transfer student.

– From MAL

Review:

Normally this is the kind of show I kind of hesitate to start because no matter how good it is I just know I’m going to end up wondering what the point of it is. Fortunately for me, it seems like most of the characters in this show are in search of a point or have accepted that mostly there isn’t one as they go about their frantic activities as their school lives wrap up.

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So instant relatability. We also don’t just follow one person through an entire day at school but rather move fairly fluidly from group to group with multiple individual problems, dilemas and ideas being introduced. While that makes it more or less impossible to remember all the character names after one episode, it gave a sense of forward motion that I usually don’t get from these kinds of stories and I greatly appreciated it.

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All and all, these characters have the potential to be charming enough, and there’s certainly enough possibilities for future events that could come up from the set up. While there isn’t anything new from a narrative point of view, I really did like the execution and pacing of this episode and am kind of keen to see more at the moment.


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Girls’ Last Tour Episode 1: Deceptively Charming

Okay, I kind of decided to give HiDive a go given it has a couple of series from last season I want to watch and this season it picked up a few titles I wanted to try. Not sure if I’m keeping the subscription long term but we’ll see how it goes.

Overview:

Civilization is dead, but Chito and Yuuri are still alive. So they hop aboard their beloved Kettenkrad motorbike and aimlessly wander the ruins of the world they once knew. Day after hopeless day, they look for their next meal and fuel for their ride. But as long as the two are together, even an existence as bleak as theirs has a ray or two of sunshine in it, whether they’re sucking down their fill of soup or hunting for machine parts to tinker with. For two girls in a world full of nothing, the experiences, and feelings the two share give them something to live for.

– From MAL

Review:

I’m not big on slice of life, but slice of life post apocolyptic style had a certain appeal and so I’m kind of glad I got to check this out. The first episode, while bringing you face to face with the horror of civilisation being dead, is utterly and completely charming.

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This is kind of helped along by the two leads who are adorable and their interactions, while fairly sparse considering they are the only two characters we see, are fairly grounded and yet both sweet and revealing. At times the themes seem to hijack the dialogue with some heavy handed anti-war statements but all and all, this is a pretty solid first episode.

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I’m looking forward to watching a bit more with these characters.


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Karandi James.

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