This week we are back on Irina’s blog so be sure to go check out our thoughts on this adorable little episode featuring the cutest yokai birds with ear wings. Granted, there isn’t a lot of competition for birds with ear wings but seriously this was adorable. Also some good plot development stuff and some great character moments.
Seriously though, for Irina and my complete thoughts on The Morose Mononokean Season 2 Episode 11 head over to Irina’s. If you’ve missed our previous posts they are linked to below and be sure next week to catch our review of episode 12 right here.
Back to the three story format this week however the first two skits in episode 10 of Kaguya-Sama Love is War deal with the fallout from Shinomiya’s cold last week. Realistically though, I’m going to end up with Ishigami on this one. In the second story, Ishigami was forced to listen to Shirogane as he meandered his way through the story about the girl a friend of his had apparently offended. Ishigami just summed up the whole situation perfectly when he said it ‘pisses’ him off.
Realistically, we once again have two socially inept characters who after a minor misunderstanding spend one third of the episode squabbling over who will eat a piece of cake and then find someone who will listen to them whine about how misunderstood they feel. I’m certain the comedy is meant to be in how exaggerated and overblown it all is, but mostly I just wanted to push the cake into their faces in story one and in story two I really wished Ishigami had spoken up sooner.
Then we slide into story three where Summer vacation is coming up again. I almost groaned aloud thinking we were going to have to endure a rehash of a previous fight, but mercifully the story went in a different direction. For the first time Fujiwara ended up on the losing side and once again we have Ishigami to thank for actually sounding like a human and pointing out that it wasn’t fair for her to go off travelling but to expect that they wouldn’t go to a festival just because she was away.
Needless to say, if I took on the role of the narrator for a moment, I’m awarding Ishigami as the episodes MVP and literally just want all the other characters to disappear or grow up at this point.
Now, so that it doesn’t sound like I’m just throwing rocks at it for the fun of it and ignoring all the good in this series, the visuals this week were up to their usual standard. Story one used colour particularly well to show the duelling personalities and story two kept cutting between Shinomiya and Shirogane as each one was telling their story and it was actually really nicely put together even if the subject matter was frustrating.
So once again, this is a beautifully produced anime that is utterly missing the mark for me because I’m just not finding it particularly amusing. However, with two episodes to go I’m sticking through to the end of the season and hopefully next week I’ll find something to smile at.
Getting caught in a lie seems to be a theme this episode. First we have the literature club adviser away ‘sick’ for multiple days prompting his oh-so-concerned-students to go visit him at his home. Turns out he’s not sick. He’s actually an author, one that Natsuo is a fan of, and he’s just behind on his deadlines. He openly tells his students this while puffing on a cigarette and blatantly says he hasn’t told the school that he’s working on the side.
Are any of the teachers at this school actually going to have any kind of moral or ethical standard?
However, that isn’t really a drama. It is more just foreshadowing lies coming apart which Natsuo, being a wannabe writer, should have paid more attention to given he’s been lying to Rui about where he’s been going for dinner and it is going to bite him.
The next day at school he’s teasing the girl who like the literature teacher a little bit and she elbows him in the ribs, at the top of a staircase, sending him flying in a way that defies any kind of physics unless Natsuo actually launched himself backwards at the same time as she elbowed him, but let’s ignore that part of the story for now. After falling down the stairs he breaks his leg and so begins Rui in care-taker mode.
Do we even need to discuss how breaking a leg doesn’t prevent his hands or brain from working so why he really doesn’t need his step-sister to share a bath with him? This story has gone for a lot of contrivances in order to create drama and fairly uncomfortable situations like the one we get where Rui is reaching for the soap in the dark bathroom (yeah, you can see where they go with that already). While usually these aren’t too intrusive, the way they blow a broken leg out of proportion here is insane.
Yet, despite how many things he apparently can’t do on his own in this scene because of a broken leg, later on his father apparently has no issue with his son going out in the rain and one crutch to find a missing step-sister.
Anyway, Rui ends up at the cafe and finds out that Natsuo hasn’t been going to his friend’s place and so calls Natsuo on it, and he lies again. Not only that, at the next opportunity he lies to Rui again saying he’s going to apologise to his friend and off he goes to Hina’s house, where Rui later finds him having confirmed he isn’t at his friends house.
Despite how idiotic the plot is here and how overblown everything is, I can’t say I actually dislike it. Outside of the bathroom scene, I actually quite enjoyed watching the train wreck that is Natsuo’s life right at the moment. Still, wondering how exactly this one will wrap up.
With the invasion of the military base and the parallel invasion of Naha city occurring at the end of last episode it was clear that this week Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka would be focused on the battle at hand. What follows is a fairly scattered affair with the audience jumping from one scene of the battle to another and seeing Tamara and Mia in action at their respective locations as well as following the actions of various soldiers and Nozomi and Sayako in amongst the fight before we finally get down to business in the bunker with Rapture, War Nurse and the main villains of this fight.
While it is a scattered affair frantically jumping from one point where the soldiers are being beaten back to another, interspersed with civilians fleeing and dying and ordinary police being incredibly heroic before dying, all of this cut with scenes of the military commanders glaring at their screens and musing about potential strategy, it works really well because the set up for this fight was put in place last episode. Even though the overall motives of the villains is still unclear, making that the weakest link in the whole series, the basic parameters for this sequence were clearly laid out and the target of the General in the basement was pretty straight-forward, even if it turns out they were after something the general had rather than the general herself.
Action sequences in this anime remain very entertaining to watch with a real sense of pace and movement about them. It makes getting screen caps kind of difficult because of the amount of motion blur at times but at the same time, watching the sequence it is very solid portrayal of a frantic fight sequence. It’s also fun watching the transition between the soldiers and their standard tactics compared to the Magical Girls who are almost a whole army on their own and have their own way of fighting.
While characterisation gets put to the side for a large majority of the episode, Asuka still manages to deliver a decent effort at remembering that she was traumatised by the previous war and has yet to really accept that she’s back involved with the conflict. While many an anime hero would have committed to fighting and then never mentioned their trauma again, Asuka is wearing hers on her sleeve and it really is only Kurumi’s presence at her side while they wait that keeps her grounded and prevents her from breaking down entirely as they listen to the sounds of battle and dying over the radio.
Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka remains a fairly decent viewing experience and while it has at times pushed the violence a little further than some people would like, its been delivering a reasonably compelling story and it seems to be heading to a decent climax. Now whether or not we get a decent end point or are left hanging is really all that’s left to find out in the next two episodes and that could really change my overall opinion of the show.
While I’ll get to reviewing the episode in a moment, I just want to look at the opening act of this episode which addresses the fight between the Senator (only barely introduced a few episodes ago) and Eugoe (no longer brainwashed), Kirito and Alice. Mostly because there was a lot of build-up around a character only just introduced, a cliff-hanger as the fight got started, and then we spend the opening scene rewatching his power up. Only to essentially one shot kill him. Alice distracts his flame creation with little difficulty, Eugeo diverts attention from Kirito by half-heartedly attacking the administrator causing the senator to look away, and then Kirito light beams him to death. The end.
In the words of the Administrator herself, that was boring.
All that build up and a week’s wait and nothing. Barely even a whimper.
Then without any further discussion, the Senator’s body is flipped against a wall and promptly forgotten. Discarded as the bit character he was but he essentially served no purpose. None at all. Not even a cool fight sequence and diversion. Literally he just put the breaks on the story for a build up that never delivered.
Following this the episode gets back into exposition and sermonising mode. They did at least draw parallels between whether the game world and reality are similar in asking whether humans live their lives in fear of being reset by some unknown creator, so points for thematic linking back to the original SAO. However, again, this is a lot of back and forth covering content we already knew. The only real take from this is that Eugeo now knows Kirito isn’t just someone from his world (which I’m left wondering why Kirito hadn’t told Eugeo this by this point, but whatever).
However, the Administrator then decides to reveal her ultimate weapon that will replace the incredibly flawed system with the integrity knights. It is shiny and golden and really large. So cool. In a matter of seconds it impaled both Alice and Kirito and left them bleeding on the ground and Eugeo shaking in his boots.
Of course, after a spider vs sword golem moment that makes about as much sense as it sounds like it should, Eugeo stabs the special dagger into the floating platform and somehow that lets the Cardinal appear. In an instant Kirito and Alice are healed, we get some more exposition while the Administrator just kind of floats and gloats, and then the episode ends.
This show makes me want to face palm so badly almost every week at this point.
Nothing is having any consequence at the moment. Eugeo brainwashed – fixed next episode. Senator guy is really powerful – killed in one shot within minutes. Kirito and Alice stabbed and bleeding – instantly healed including their clothes and bloodstains.
Meanwhile, the Administrator seems to just have whatever power they decide to give her which makes you wonder why she doesn’t just rewrite the world’s code to disappear the floor and send Eugeo, Kirito and Alice back to the bottom and ignore them. Why bother fighting at all? As to the Cardinal, who knows what she’s up to?
I’m almost all for letting the humans outside of Underworld hit the reset button at this point. It couldn’t make it any sillier.
Death has definitely lost its impact in The Price of Smiles as three episodes have played three key deaths against the other. My only real concern was that Lily still hasn’t managed to bite the dust given she insists on raising her own death flag. However, with the exception of Joshua, this anime seems to have gone out of its way to target older men for death in battle despite the number of young females flying around in the mechs. It makes you wonder if the writer just couldn’t bring themselves to kill off the cuter characters.
There’s also an issue in episode 10 with the visuals. While The Price of Smiles hasn’t been exceptional, it has been relatively decent from both an art and animation point of view. However, this week felt rushed with long shots of characters frequently looking either off-model or facial expressions looking very sketched in and then jarringly we would snap to full detail for a closer image. It all just felt a little slap-dash and that is a shame as the season approaches it’s end game.
Outside of those complaints though, The Price of Smiles manages to continue furthering its development of Stella’s squad as the Kingdom presses forward with their battle. We get some more orphan dramas as Lily and Stella go with the commander to entertain some kids they come across (the irony of first making orphans and then feeling sorry for them is a little heavy handed but otherwise it makes a solid point).
The battle sequence also looks very well done. For all the earlier glitches in quality, the commanders final battle was a suitable spectacle, albeit brief.
What troubles me is that it seems really unlikely that this war can wrap up in the two episodes remaining because regardless of what Princess Yuki is up to she doesn’t have the power to stop the war. Stella is an interesting character but far too low in the military hierarchy to have any say on the direction of the war. All and all, this doesn’t feel like it can wrap up, unless of course they just blow the whole planet up and wouldn’t that be a depressing way for The Price of Smiles to wrap up.
The Price of Smiles Episode 11 Review Review
Apparently we’ll get to episode 12 before Stella and Yuki actually meet (that’s assuming they do though it seems almost certain given the post credits sequence this episode). And we’re also apparently going for a destroy the thing everyone is fighting over kind of ending even though that is going to make life incredibly hard for everyone for a fair while. Oh well, with one more episode to go after this I guess there wasn’t much else they could do.
Stella’s squad are dealing with the death of their commander which causes some emotional outpourings and some punches, but otherwise they are still just following orders. It is Yuki who surprises this week by using propaganda of her own, declaring they have a new weapon, and taking a more aggressive approach by claiming they’ll reclaim one of the cities firmly in enemy hands.
Unsurprisingly this is a ruse and Yuki has cooked up a plan to destroy all the chraras which are the cause of the failing eco-system but also the source of their power. While the new weapon entertains the main forces, Yuki and her group are slipping through to the old Verde Empire to enact their plan. Which is where they encounter Stella’s squad which were ordered to watch a border.
I’m not entirely certain if this is a satisfying direction but at least Yuki is taking a direct hand in the final events and if we actually get a Stella/Yuki meeting that would be kind of great after this long. Not to mention, Stella’s mother, Leila is with Yuki, and is also currently the only one of the four who essentially raised Yuki still alive. Does anyone else sense a death flag here?
Whichever way, next week’s episode is called ‘The Price of Smiles’ so I guess we’ll find out what it really costs to bring happiness to everyone.
Wow, The Promised Neverland is determine to wring every inch of drama out of the current scenario and in less deft hands I would find this kind of irritating as the episode ends with so many question marks. However as this anime continues to present beautiful visual and sound direction to support a compelling story with characters I’ve come to love, instead of feeling frustrated I’m mostly just on the edge of my seat waiting for more, exactly as they intended.
Going straight into spoiler territory if you haven’t seen the episode.
Norman’s last night at the orphanage is heart breaking. His teary farewells with Emma and Ray as they staunchly deny what is about to happen and then his goodbye to the other kids is perfectly delivered. Emma’s last ditch attempt to cause a scene and to keep Norman from leaving is perfect as is Isabella’s cold and crushing death threat to keep her from going any further.
The quiet walk to the gate, the third we’ve seen as Norman follows Connie’s and Sister Krone’s footsteps, is just long enough to have impact but not feel drawn out and Norman and Isabella’s casual conversation is revealing, though of what I’m not entirely sure of just yet. However, we then get the moment that has left me desperate to know more and that is the brief moment we see of Norman beyond the gate and entering a lit room. Is Norman dead or not? We have no way of knowing and with the tone of the show it could go either way plunging us into a tragic reveal later or a triumphant return and both would fit the current narrative beautifully.
As for Emma and Ray, despondent would be a tepid descriptor of their personalities as the days, weeks and then months roll on and finally Ray’s last day approaches. Though, if you think The Promised Neverland is done yet, think again as Emma seems determined to see something through which just makes me wonder what scheme they’ve hatched in the background that we don’t yet know about.
With so few options available I’m scratching my head to figure out what they have planned, but ultimately I’m going to have to sit back and wait and to be honest the anticipation is horrendous. I desperately want to know.
Clearly I’m a little caught up in this story and so clearly it has met its goals. I’m loving The Promised Neverland and I’m waiting with bated breath for the next episode.