As bizarre as it is to say, episode 5 was kind of fun. They
kept going with the plot set up last episode where Haruto was drawn into
Bellnoa’s game and the two of them travel about before taking on a castle. Some
fairly standard things happen (or standard based on the premise of this anime)
in that Haruto is attacked by a hot ninja girl and he and Bellnoa get close
around a camp fire. Meanwhile Nona is watching on and with the aid of another
living figure is ultimately able to enter the game.
What I particularly liked about this episode was Haruto’s
realisation that the reason Bellnoa didn’t want to finish the game was because
she was obsessed with travelling around and levelling up and part of that was
his fault for the way he played the game. Now I feel bad for every character
I’ve ever created because I know I don’t exactly go straight to the finish and
there are more than a few games in the backlog that I’ve just never made it to
the end of.
Now, there is definitely fan-service here as the demon king
of karma blows Bellnoa’s clothes clean off of her in a fight (amazing how that
happens in anime and movies without injuring the person) and there’s also
Haruto’s eyeing off the ninja girl but nothing extreme.
Realistically, episode 5 is about as much as you can expect
from this anime. It progressed the plot, continued to set some stuff up for
future development, fleshed out Bellnoa’s character, and allowed Nona to play
the role of concerned wife. It all just kind of worked even if it wasn’t
Episode 6 of Amazing Stranger is absurd, but given the
context of the show where figures and game characters have come to life it
really isn’t too much of a leap that the two characters fighting over Haruto
would challenge each other to a fight and then spend the rest of the run time
trying to one up each other in terms of sleeping next to Haruto, whispering in
his ear, feeding him and so on. It is most definitely pandering to a particular
audience and yet still kind of amusing.
What makes this work is both Bellnoa and Nona remain true to
their character types in how they take on each of these challenges and
ultimately the back and forth between the two is always kind of energised and
entertaining. Haruto remains the dullest of the three as he just gets to play
the embarrassed geek while the girls fawn over him.
I will say the scene with the two whispering sweet nothings
into his ears was probably the icing on the cake. For my pick, I’d go Bellnoa
has the better voice for whispering with Nona’s high pitch getting in the way
of really creating the experience, but listen to the scene yourself and see
which whisper works best for you.
While the winner was a foregone conclusion from the start,
and the competition was ridiculous and contrived drama for the sake of it, I
can’t say I disliked this episode. Amazing Stranger is well aware that it isn’t
meant to be taken seriously and so just went with their premise this week and
the end result was something that entertained but doesn’t work if you start
asking any questions of it.
Okay, I’d be lying if I said this was a good episode. By
itself it doesn’t do much with just two skits. The first being Bouida’s sister
interviewing Nona and the second involving Bouida going out to Christmas dinner
with an old friend and getting into a fight about anime. Both sections work
well enough, although Bouida’s sister seems way too fixated on her brother’s
What this episode really cements though is that there is a
potential for the premise to be more than a one trick pony though whether they
do anything with this or not still remains to be seen.
Where Amazing Stranger is slightly elevated beyond just
being background noise is in the genuinely warm relationship being formed
between Bouida and Nona. While it isn’t as heart wrenching as some anime
couple’s out there, there’s still a fierce loyalty and sweetness to their
affection and that’s probably the show’s greatest strength right now. Where it
fails is that it can’t decide if it wants to use sex to sell or stay on the
safer side of the line and the end result is something that probably doesn’t
meet the needs of either the fan-service fans or those who prefer more
That and the comedy is far more miss than hit.
Still, the dinner scene and the arguments between two old
friends and anime fans, one who denies everything and looks for faults and the
other being a hopeless dreamer, is kind of fun to listen to and while I’m sure
most anime fans don’t get worked up enough to flip a table in a restaurant, I’m
sure most of us have had sillier arguments with our friends over anime at some
That was actually a pretty good twist at the end of this
episode of Amazing Stranger. I’m not going to get into what happens but I kind
of hope next episode continues from this point and doesn’t just scrap the plot
line and go on to the next set up because that was kind of fun.
Anyway, this week Nona and Bouida are being sickeningly
sweet together so naturally another figure shows up and attacks. Watching Nona
explain reality to the new figure and the new character’s interpretation of
what it meant was fairly good and the fight sequence that followed between the
two figures was actually pretty entertaining.
However, the punch line of the sequence was Bouida solving
the problem by opening the character’s in-game stat screen and unequipping all
their best gear and then playing dress-up with them. Honestly, this is another
of those moments that while it is kind of amusing is also kind of creepy. What
makes it kind of work is that at least all the other characters point out that
Bouida is the worst for his actions even if they were effective and
neutralising the threat.
For those who have felt the keen absence of solid
fan-service both the dress up sequence and the subsequent bath sequence kind of
fill that gap, though quality fan-service it really isn’t, not that I
particularly like any fan-service but fairly lazy and uninspired fan-service is
definitely worse than just the usual fan-service.
But as I said at the beginning, the episode ending was
pretty solid and I definitely appreciated it. I’ll appreciate it more if
episode 5 moves on from that point.
Part 1 of the review of the blog looked at the general stats for the year but numbers are just kind of that. As 2018 draws to a close I’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of the posts I wrote this year that people read and to wish all my followers a wonderful night and success in 2019.
Most Viewed Episode Review
This one is and isn’t a surprise. It is the post most often hit by search engines so it kind of explains the sheer number of views this post has gotten. Anyway, this one managed to become my second most viewed post ever on the blog: How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 2: Fan Service and Boobs in Fantasy Land. Part of me kind of wishes my most viewed post for the year was one that was slightly better written than this one but still I’m glad that an episode review did get some attention.
Most Viewed Light Novel Review
Again, not so much a surprise with the anime release, but my light novel review of Goblin Slayer Volume 3 ended up being my most read review this year. Timing really worked in this one’s favour but it is a shame because of the first three volumes, volume three was definitely the weakest and the review meanders because of it (it is always hard to review things you have a luke-warm reaction to). Still, I’ve continued reading this series and I am looking forward to getting more light novel reviews out in the new year (and manga reviews as I continue to work through Natsume Yuujinchou).
Most Viewed Inquiring Minds Post
Turns out there are some topics all bloggers are a little bit interested in and one of those is how to gain followers. I wish I knew the answer to that one myself but I did my best to answer the question about how I gained the followers I have. Of all the post series I’ve started on 100 Word Anime, I really enjoy the Inquiring Minds Posts because the topics are so varied and they usually force me to think about things I would otherwise be writing about or just think about something in a different way. They have been some of my most challenging posts to write and I certainly don’t always get them right, but I’m really glad I started the series and hope my readers continue to send questions my way in 2019.
Most Viewed Series Review
I was absolutely thrilled to see that this post that came out in early January ended up being my most read series review of the year. It is an anime that is so close to my heart and I just love it (and where is the next season already). Noragami Aragoto was a delight to watch and I had a lot of fun writing the review. Given the responses, clearly a lot of my readers love it as well.
Most Viewed Feature
I’m noticing a trend with this and my most viewed episode post. When you write a feature about fan service in anime discussing the currently popular fan service filled anime that is already blowing up your views because you used ‘boobs’ in a post title I guess it is to be expected it will get views. I’m not big on click bait so while I get that these sorts of topics get views, I’m not about to start filling my blog with them because while they have their place it isn’t my main topic. Still, this feature may have garnered some click bait views but it also gained some fairly decent discussion in the comments and that was something I was really delighted about. My most viewed feature of 2018: Is Anime Doing It’s Fans a Service?
Most Viewed Top 5 Post
My most viewed top 5 post was looking at my favourite dubbed anime. I’m not much of a dubbed anime viewer (and having recently watched the Yuri on Ice English dub now that I’ve finally got the DVD’s I’m standing by my usual stance of sticking with the Japanese versions of most things), but occasionally there are English dubs I quite like. Clearly lots of people have opinions on this one as it is one of my most commented posts and it remains a post that regularly gets found by search engines.
So that is my look back on 2018. I’ll be looking at my plans for 2019 very soon as Irina has asked me a fun question for my first Inquiring Minds post of 2019. Once again, I hope all my readers have an excellent night and get to welcome in the new year.
This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in June 2016 and can be found here.
This review was initially written in a style I very quickly dumped and that was separating out the characters, plot and setting under heading and discussing them in isolation. While I haven’t really changed my view on this anime, I have restructured the review quite significantly.
This is a series I’d rewatched even before my first review and I noted that while the show remained ridiculously fun, the flaws of the series become far more glaringly obvious when the pretty shining colours and wow factor are less distracting and you already know the outcome of the games (though you kind of new the outcome in the first place it was more how they were going to pull it off).
It is worth noting that realism is not what this anime was going for. All of the characters are complete and over-the-top parodies of human beings (even though the vast majority aren’t human). And while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does make it hard to feel sympathy, empathy, or anything else for the characters. This problem was actually made worse when I finally got around to reading the first light novel hoping it would perhaps shed some light on some of the character’s back stories (note, it doesn’t at least not in volume 1).
And just when you think Sora and Shiro aren’t so bad afterall, Shiro’s outright lack of human emotion will punch you in the gut or Sora will follow up a truly brilliant dialogue with a panty joke or something equally jarring from the flow of the show.
That said, there is something amazing about these characters. My personal favourite is Izuna, who unfortunately doesn’t come along until close to the end but is actually the character I found the most sympathetic.
Jibril has some shining moments (anyone who values libraries and knowledge automatically gets some brownie points) and her adaptability is something to behold. But, those moments are contrasted with their attempts at using Jibril for comedic purposes that mostly fall flat. She was at her funniest when recalling the previous wars when she apparently single-handedly wiped out many elves. That was some pretty dark humour being thrown around in that scene, though that’s fairly consistent within No Game No Life. A lot of what you will be amused by within the context of the anime is actually quite dark and problematic when taken out of that context.
The plot here is really where some people will start to drift away. They tell us early on that Blank will NEVER lose. Seriously, they weren’t joking. Doesn’t matter what the situation or odds, these two are going to find a way to win. Whether you find the incessant rationalisation and explanations for how they managed to win charming and amusing or just pretentious will really determine how much you enjoy the story here.
More importantly, it kind of cuts off just as it’s getting interesting. They are progressing toward their stated goal but still have a long journey ahead of them and that’s it. Game over. Or, anime over. Perhaps we’ll eventually get a follow up, but for now, we’re left with Blank ready to start on their journey to challenge Tet (the god of Disboard) and yet we don’t get to see that journey.
There isn’t really anything resembling a subplot in this. There are supporting characters and something about a potential rebellion in Elven Garde but mostly this just serves as more fodder for explanations about how Sora manipulated the situation to win. What back story there is revolves around the previous King who lost a lot of Imanity’s (Humanity’s) territory to the War Beasts, and again, it isn’t a subplot so much as another piece of a long and convoluted explanation of victory.
However, where the characters might be questionable in how they are presented and the plot will only work provided you enjoy watching how they win rather than feeling any tension about whether they will win, the visuals are distinct, to say the least. Even on a rewatch, Disboard reamined beautiful.
Okay, the colour palette is a little on the insane scale but it is supposed to be a fantasy world ruled by a god who thinks games are the best way to solve conflicts so we can probably let that go.
The music works but is reasonably forgettable and the voice acting is neither particularly good or bad. Shiro’s voice annoys me because it feels like everything she says has been put through a filter and is just that little bit too high and whisper like. Maybe this was supposed to make her sound cute but it drove me crazy by the end of the series. Fortunately, Shiro doesn’t talk anywhere near as often as Sora.
There’s fanservice here. Lots of it. Bathroom sequences and female characters losing their clothes for some fairly flimsy plot points. While bathroom scenes aren’t by themselves a problem their lack of purpose in this case is. It seems at times the entire plot just screeches to a halt while they chatter about random things while covered in suds. Could they at least talk strategy while showering? And seeing Sora using his phone to try to get photos of Stephanie in the bathroom is just all kinds of creepy.
Despite all the problems this series has that keep it from being a must watch, I like the set up and enjoy the games that are played. I like that the characters aren’t just proclaimed to be smart but they actually are planning ahead and have a vision of what they are trying to accomplish. The value of knowledge in this anime is expressed over and over again and that is something to be celebrated. That and the whole thing is so over the top and fun. While it won’t be for everyone, you can do a lot worse than No Game No Life.
This one barely needs reviewing really because to be perfectly honest between what people already know of the DanMachi (Is it Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon) series and the title, it kind of tells you everything you need to know. This OVA was released on HiDive and I was happy enough to return to watching Bell and his friends given I’ve been reading the light novels and feel like I’ve been waiting forever for a second season of the anime, but even I didn’t have high expectations going in. Simply put, it was obvious from the beginning that this is strictly filler and won’t be advancing the plot in any meaningful way. I did have some minor expectations that it might fill in some of the character development I’ve come across in the light novels that wasn’t present in the original series, but sadly that is lacking as well. Still, if you are a fan of DanMachi then you’ll probably know more or less what to expect here; just keep in mind the title is not lying.
We catch up with the characters directly after the events in the series where Bell has just slain Goliath and they are making their way out of the dungeon. After the usual Lily and Hestia antics fighting over Bell (wait, you guys know you are still in the Dungeon right and should be paying attention) they are attacked and in the process Hestia ends up finding a new tunnel which leads to a hot spring (because anime).
Now we all know DanMachi has never been afraid of fan service and so behold Hermes preparation of swimsuits for the girls to change into, including one too small for Hestia that eventually snaps while trying to dress and an ‘improvised’ version is constructed. I will point out that while lingering shots of the girls (and guys at times) and various camera angles are simply blatant pandering to fans, but the banter going on between the characters as they relax and unwind from their adventure is genuinely enjoyable. The chemistry between the group is pretty solid and if you like the show then you already like these characters and so listening to them here will be a genuinely good time.
Of course though, they are in the dungeon and DanMachi is aware that fan service is not its only selling point. Introducing monster fish that use the hot spring to pray on adventurers for a few minutes of exciting action toward the end works well enough to let Bell do the hero thing, and I’m only going to vaguely mention the whole water suddenly melting their swimsuits off but somehow not dissolving Lily’s back pack when she drops it in the water at the end. Basically, whether you are into this show for the girls, the action, or the character interactions, this OVA actually delivers on all 3 and about the only thing it doesn’t do is deal with the overall plot (and no one ever really expects and OVA to do that).
This is not your introduction to the series though and will make little to no sense if you aren’t familiar with the world and the characters. Even for fans of the series, this is decidedly something that can be ignored. But, if you are in the mood for twenty minutes more of Bell and Hestia, then its worth a shot.
Fan-service: Essentially something added to a work of fiction for the sake of pleasing the audience. Now that means fan-service isn’t limited to nudity, groping, and other things of a sexualised nature that most people immediately think of when we talk about fan service, but it does include those elements. I’ll hopefully get back to what else fan service is in a future post, but today I’ll probably just be discussing what we mostly think about when the term fan service shows up.
This season brings us How Not To Summon a Demon Lord, The Master of Ragnarok, Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs, Free, Harukana Receive and the list of anime that would immediately spring to mind when someone mentions fan service just goes on. Now before you think I’m about to launch into a rant or a tirade against the various half-clad girls flouncing about the screen (or equally shirtless men who are striking a pose while flicking their hair about), I’d like to reassure you that while I’m not a fan of fan service, nor do I deny that there is an audience for it and that it serves a purpose within stories.
Let’s move the discussion momentarily away from the current season of anime. We all know Hollywood movies have used these kinds of gimmicky moments forever to draw the audience. There’s little reason for the various Bond girls to be shown so often in swim-wear, formal wear, or wearing very little while in bed (or for the Daniel Craig scene where he emerged from the water). There’s practically zero reason why Amanda Hunsaker (Lethal Weapon 1) makes her only appearance in the movie wearing an open robe that is blowing open in the wind before she takes a dive off the balcony. And anyone who watches a lot of bad horror and slasher films will know that there’s definitely going to be a sex scene at some point and inevitably the girl who participates in said scene is going to die fairly soon after. That’s been done so often it is now a running joke in self-aware parodies of horror.
But while I say there’s no reason for these scenes, we all know the reason. Even if that isn’t the part of the film appealing to you, someone out there was waiting for that scene and they enjoyed every second of it. Whether that girl or guy was hot or not will make or break their enjoyment of that film. And while sometimes these scenes are fairly well integrated into the plot, Amanda’s death worked because she was working as a hooker, she was on drugs, and the whole scene played into the tragedy of her death, others are clearly there just so they have something to put into the trailer to get audiences to watch.
If you were advertising a movie, wouldn’t you want the shot of Daniel Craig walking out of the water wearing that?
It plays great for the trailer, gets people talking online, gets images shared, and while no one is talking about the plot of your new Bond film, everyone knows there is in fact a new Bond film and Daniel Craig looks hot (if you are into that kind of thing – personally I’m all for Antonio Banderas in the Mask of Zorro, but to each their own).
Now anime may take things to a whole new level, but it more or less does the same thing (save for when a show is entirely built around fan service moments and the plot is entirely jettisoned – there’s a commitment there but I’m not sure I’m interested in the end result). This season I’ve been watching How Not To Summon a Demon Lord and The Master of Ragnarok. Both are essentially isekai stories and as normal they are both filled with fan service moments. And this is something that in individual episode reviews I definitely take a negative take on but this isn’t actually condemning the existence of fan service itself but rather speaks of what I’m looking for in an episode.
For me I’m looking for moments that move the plot or help flesh out or develop the characters and the issue with the way fan service seems to be delivered in these kinds of shows is it not only doesn’t do either one of those things, it actively eats screen time which could be used for parts of the show I’m actually interested in.
The other issue I find, and the reason I probably seem fairly negative when I discuss fan service as part of a review, is that so often it is females being seen in this light and it is regularly extremely sexualised content even if it is played for laughs. The boob grab, the rubbing breasts against the guys arm, the low camera shots, touching other girls; I’m clearly not the target audience for this kind of content so while such sequences don’t make me instant drop as they would some people, they certainly aren’t adding to my engagement of the story or helping me to actually care about the characters as people. That doesn’t necessarily make the show or the fan service bad, but it does mean that I’m less likely to really be drawn in as a member of the audience.
Of course, I’m certain there’s a writer somewhere who is now all upset and about to lose sleep because Karandi isn’t interested in his content (heavy sarcasm there). Because of course, for every viewer that determines that the weight of fan-service is just bringing the story to a screeching halt there are clearly plenty of viewers happily checking in.
If I ever needed evidence of that (and I didn’t mind you), then this season really did prove it to me. In the last 30 Days, How Not To Summon a Demon Lord episode reviews have been my most viewed posts. Also most searched for terms to find my blog via search engines.
However, even looking over the last three months, the first three episode reviews which have only been up for perhaps a month and a half at most, are the most viewed posts.
Then if I look back over the entire year, the first episode review of the show is now the second most viewed post, surrounded entirely by Killing Stalking reviews (and I don’t have to wonder what fan service that particular title was delivering).
So here’s a show I started watching out of curiosity because I don’t mind isekai stories, but wasn’t really thrilled about. It delivered two episodes that had me sitting on the fence before it finally launched into its actual plot. Episode six took us back to nearly sixty percent of the episode being fan service focused moments rather than plot and I wondered once again whether the show was really worth my time or not. But it most definitely appeals to its target audience. It has left the other isekai fan-service filled title, The Master of Ragnarok, for dead.
Which of course made me wonder why?
In terms of actual plot, both stories are more or less the same. They both have an interesting idea, potentially interesting directions they could go, and both have regularly come to a screeching halt because they’ve wanted to show off the numerous girls in the show in various states of undress.
In this at least How Not To Summon A Demon Lord tried to come up with a semi-plausible explainer linking all that grinding on the bed action to some kind of magic that may or may not eventually free Shera from being a slave (I’m not sure I buy magical boob gropes, but whatever). Still at least they tried. If the scene had been a little shorter and there had been a little less orgasmic panting, I may have even not felt distinctly uncomfortable while watching it. Master of Ragnarok didn’t even really bother. They just had another character tell the MC to take a break and go to the hot springs where the girls then pounced upon him.
It was thinking about this where I realised the difference in these shows really lay. Even with its non-fan service moments, The Master of Ragnarok isn’t subtle. The main character always just explains his battle plan to someone, usually waving his phone around to remind us he’s from the future, and usually making a reference to the fact he’s a cheater using future knowledge. And it delivers fan service in an equally blunt and matter of a fact way with the girls just coming straight onto him and declaring they want to be his wives. Its very much like they have a tick box list of events that they need to shove into the narrative and so they’ll just have the character say whatever is needed to progress us from A to B. As such, despite the more interesting setting, the Master of Ragnarok is actually a fairly sub-par show even when compared to How Not To Summon a Demon Lord, even if it does have more girls of more types and so far a lot more nudity.
How Not to Summon a Demon Lord has several advantages. Firstly, Diablo as the main character also provides some fan service as he has been shown on more than one occasion to be shirtless or posed very dramatically. While there are less girls (so far – the harem has been growing however) the characters of these girls are infinitely more developed and entertaining than the girls in Ragnarok. For instance I even remember Rem and Shera’s names and what their motivations are and the why they hang around the protagonist. While the story isn’t all that rich and deep, it is logical enough and there’s a lot of fun to be had with the idea of a socially awkward over powered demon lord who is role playing his way through his current life. And then the fan service itself has often been used to build connections or tension between the characters, and while there are plenty of other ways the show could have gone about it, we all probably have to admit that Rem’s ‘torture’ session where she ended up confiding in Diablo definitely kicked both the plot and character development into gear.
Though I think we’ll just leave aside the whole issue of slavery and ownership for a whole other discussion because there’s a lot of that going around this season as well.
So I’ll get back to the question from the title about whether anime is doing its fans a service through the inclusion of fan service? The answer, whether you individually like it or not, is probably yes. It sells and there’s clearly a market for it. Does that mean everything needs these elements in it? Not really. Does it mean you have to watch them? Also no. There’s plenty out there without these sorts of scenes, and yet, I know that there are some people who haven’t watched Dan Machi because of Hestia and I can’t help but feel that perhaps they missed out on a fairly extraordinary adventure because of one element. And while there are plenty of shows I have dropped because the balance of fan-service to plot tipped too far away from plot, provided I’m getting some decent character moments and plot development, fan service isn’t likely to make me turn something off.
Though depending on how loud the girl is moaning I may end up muting the episode.
Kaze no Stigma focusses on Kazuma Yagami who was previously expelled from the Kannagi family when he failed to develop any fire magic. He’s returned to Japan after an absence and he’s no longer the weakling a lot of the family took him for. Having become a contractor for the spirits of the wind, he’s got a few new tricks up his sleeve. Throw in tragic back story and meddling family member trying to set him up with his cousin and you have the basics of this story.
Kaze no Stigma is one of those very weird anime where it actually has some really great ideas and parts of it and individual stories are actually quite good, but you have to sit through some real groan inducing moments to find them. The overall enjoyment of the action and magic (which are quite enjoyable) continually gets disrupted by completely unnecessary (and fairly poorly executed) fanservice, obvious comedy moments that seldom hit the mark, or just random character interactions that don’t really seem to contribute much. What you end up with is a series that as a whole is watchable but can’t really be well recommended.
The basic consistency issues are most clearly highlighted through the two lead characters. We meet Ayano Kannagi first and she’s an arrogant and hot headed fire magic user from the Kannagi family and destined to be its next head (after she beat down Kazuma way back when). However, despite some raw power she’s pretty useless most of the time. Also, despite continuous evidence throughout the series that Kazuma is now way out of her league, she continues to belittle him verbally and pick fights with him, even while blushing and getting jealous every time he even interacts with another female character. Basically, Ayano’s character is such a cliché character. She doesn’t come off as authentic in the slightest.
While that would be bad enough, the show also continually uses her for its fanservice elements (though she isn’t the only female character who gets put through this). Her clothes are regularly strategically torn during figths and we and other characters get some interesting angles when she’s in combat. They don’t even make it through the first sequence in episode 1 before the wind blows her skirt up with her declaring “I hate the wind” which is nice for setting up her love/hate relationship with Kazuma but pretty horrendous as an introduction to the show.
Despite that, Ayano does get some cool moments. Her jumping off the building to intercept Kazuma when he lost his senses was pretty reckless but as she herself pointed out it was the only thing she could do in that situation. There are other moments in battle (usually after a pep-talk from Kazuma) where she manages to not be useless but these are few and far between.
Kazuma on the other hand goes from being cold to pretty much everyone in the Kannagi family (except Ren, his younger brother) to being cold to pretty much everyone except Ayano and Ren. Ayano however he mostly teases and torments. However, Kazuma’s basic personality feels far more realistic than Ayano’s given his history and we learn throughout the series that he has very real reasons for his anger toward his family and for keeping his distance from everyone else. His insistence that he get paid (even by the Kannagi’s) when helping out is explained by his uncle in that it allows him to help his family without losing face if it is a paid job. So while he might come off like a jerk, his actions mostly make sense. And he’s about the only character in the series who gets any development. He’s still a jerk to Ayano, though, and given she’s set up as the semi-love interest (though it never really goes anywhere) that’s a bit problematic.
None of the other characters really do much of anything. They are there, but they are really quite forgettable (with the exception of Ren who has nailed being cute little brother but not a pushover).
The story also is fairly inconsistent as it weaves from hunting down a killer, to some random youma fights, to American magic user showing up and challenging Ayano, to the mage family that are supposed to stop the volcano erupting, before we finally get to Kazuma snapping and seeking revenge for a past wrong. None of the stories are bad in and of themselves (except the American magic user, could have done without that) but the don’t really create a cohesive narrative either. It’s more we just kind of drift from idea to idea with characters who don’t really change much or have much in the way of a goal. Possibly this could still be interesting, but the stories are pretty predictable.
The art and animation is probably another part where this anime lacks consistency. While some scenes are quite well done and some fight sequences are really entertaining, others just seem lackluster. They serve their purpose but that’s about it. particularly around the mid-way point it all just seems very half-hearted.
Overall, this is a watchable series and if you like urban-fantasy you will probably enjoy it well enough. However, there are certainly stronger series out there.