The Important Qualities Of An Adventurous Leader

Endro - Post Title Image

Endro Episode 2 Review

As I watch four pastel girls go through the motions of a pyjama party discussing their favourite monsters and what they like about them (though they keep the actual subject hidden for a little bit to make it a punch line) I had to wonder what the appeal of this kind of show was. I get that there are plenty of fans of slice of life and cute girl shows but honestly this scene was actually less fascinating than watching my cat pursue a lizard across the floor of my study (I rescued the lizard, came back and watched the scene again).

Endro Episode 2 Seiran
I’m sure my cat would try.

That doesn’t for a minute make Endro actually a bad show. I can’t really compare it with all that many other cute girl or slice of life shows because normally I don’t really stick with them, but this anime functions just fine, each scene moves along, each character plays their role, it looks good enough and it intersperses action or physical comedy in amongst the talkier scenes to break things up a bit. Everything works but the vast majority of the content doesn’t actually appeal to me as an audience. Still, if I had the choice of watching this episode again or episode 2 of Grimms Notes I’d choose this one in a heart beat. This anime is actually functional as a narrative.

Now there were actually two parts of this episode that did interest me and will keep me watching despite this being well outside of my interest area so far. The first was the leadership decision. Mao, in another insidious plan (provided you find six year olds insidious) to break up the heroes’ party so that they won’t defeat the demon lord in the future declares that each team needs to choose a leader. The girls in the heroes’ party all assumed they were the leader and are shocked to find out they aren’t.

Endro Episode 2 Leader

Here I will give the show some credit. Instead of petty squabbling or attempts to bring other members of the team down, the girls diplomatically choose the mascot character as the leader (truly cute). When that idea gets shot down they each take a turn at being leader and fail abysmally. Because, as the girls realise, they all bring something to the party. Whether it is strength, brains, weirdness, or sheer luck, each of them has their own important qualities that are needed in a leader. The end result, they are all the leader. It’s a cute and novel solution and this was actually the part of the episode I ended up most engaged by.

The other part of the episode that actually made me think this might go somewhere interesting at some point, was that the Demon Lord realises that if things continue they’ll end up repeating the same actions as last time and the heroes will turn back time again and they’ll be stuck in a loop. One problem with this is the sequence the Demon Lord recalls with the girls casting the spell isn’t the same as what we saw in episode 1 so not sure why the discrepancy there. However, this show surprised me yet again by having Mao simply decide she won’t become the Demon Lord and instead she’ll just take it easy.

Endro Episode 2 Mao

Did the villain just take herself out of the picture? Does that mean her petty plots are done?

Endro isn’t really my kind of show and yet I’m still kind of glad Cactus Matt suggested I watch it because there’s been some interesting moments in amongst the fluffy nonsense moments that aren’t my speed. While this might not end up going anywhere with these ideas given it is listed as a slice of life, I can’t deny that some of the ideas are interesting.

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Karandi James
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FINAL FANTASY XIII (PLATINUM HITS)
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The Fine Art Of Not Explaining Things

Grimms Notes Post Title Image

Grimms Notes Episode 2 Review

Another episode where we go to a story world, meet some characters and then some how tune everything back to the way it is supposed to be so these characters can go about following some predestined plan without the interruption of chaos. I’m not entirely sure if that is actually a good thing still and given the motives of the main characters are not explained, nor have I been convinced these endlessly repeating story zones are actually a good thing, I can’t say I’m really invested in their success.

We do feature Don Quixote this week. Kind of. Maybe. There’s windmills and enough generic references that if you learned about his story by reading the cliff notes version it more or less works.

Grimms Notes Episode 2 Don Quixote
Seems legit.

However, they started this episode with our group of four wandering through some fog with the blonde girl claiming she could sense an agent of chaos in a story zone ahead. The way it was kind of explained is this fog just kind of goes on and on and in it there are story zones where characters play out their stories.

So, why?

Then we’re told that only people with blank books of fate can move between story zones.

Again, why?

I mostly just wondered at that point if they were born in a story zone and how did the people around them react to their lack of book of fate. More importantly, how did their very unscripted existence not disrupt the story zone to the point it collapsed. How are they any different from agents of chaos.

Grimms Notes Episode 2 Ex

Basically two episodes in and I don’t really know who the main characters are and they’ve exhibited almost zero personality between the entire group. I don’t really get what they want or why though I get what they are doing. I don’t really understand the villains or what their goal is. So this is just kind of happening and I guess I can keep going along with it but it isn’t very good.

More importantly, why did Ex turn into Red Riding Hood after turning into Alice. Can they just become anyone? Do they have to have met the character? What determines their power? Or are these all questions I am meant to not be asking as I just kind of go along with it all?

Honestly, if the episode was actually exciting I might let a lot of these questions go and hope for future explanations but it really does feel like we’re just getting walked from place to place and stuff happens and then we go to the next place. I can’t say this is something I recommend at this point.

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Harsh Comparison Of Experience and Naive Ignorance in Battle

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode Review Title Image

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 15 Review

Episode 15 continues directly where the last episode of Alicization left us with Eugeo and Kirito encountering two girls in the tower. Now there girls, like so many people we’ve met in recent episodes, are a little bit messed up in the head due to a tragic and very short back story (yay for not another multi-episode exposition dump). Still, when they drop on the audience that 28 kids were slaughtered in the attempt to perfect resurrection and these two nut-jobs are the only survivors you kind of think that maybe this is an issue the story should actually expand upon.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 15
Wait did you just casually mention kids exploding and this is all the time you are giving this idea?

But no, in the same episode with multiple other issues including a really weird and pointed comment about gender and feelings of inferiority that Sword Art Online does not have the narrative strength to carry off and feel like anything other than a patronising nod at gender politics. Seriously, if they want me to take SAO’s commentary on gender even vaguely seriously they should give Asuna a sword again and let her fight side by side with Kirito. Then I’ll start taking some of this messaging a little more seriously (a little bit, it’s SAO so I’m not exactly looking to it for gender politics).

However, neither of those points, both fairly big points, were what I walked away from the episode wanting to discuss. Instead, my focus is very much on the Eugeo and Kirito dynamic. It was something very early in the episode that shifted my attention to this and despite all these other distractions I never really got off of thinking about it.

Sword Art online Alicization Episode 15 Eugeo, Zel and Nel

At the beginning of the episode, when the two sweet girls on the stairs are introducing themselves, Kirito taps Eugeo on the shoulder, tells him he’s not good with kids and that he should handle it, and then places himself behind Eugeo. This seems like such a weird move for Kirito. You know, Kirito, the guy who picks up every cute girl and gets involved in their business until they are smiling and happy even though he acts like he doesn’t want to get involved. Not to mention, he adopted a program as his and Asuna’s kid. So not being good with kids is a major flag going up that something was going on. I actually replayed the scene to see if I could figure it out and I was really pleased later in the episode when I realised I had pin-pointed what had made Kirito act weirdly. There’s a line that girls say that warns Kirito not all is as it seems and he appropriately takes action (admittedly, he does seem to figure out not just that something is up but just what nature of attack he’s about to face which seems a bit far-fetched, but hey, Kirito).

And that really highlighted something for me between Eugeo and Kirito. During the last episode, Eugeo was the one who ended the fight after Kirito acted as the diversion. Kirito’s role was the more risky one because he had to be able to defend against a full attack while Eugeo prepared, but Kirito managed. However, in all of this, Eugeo has been seen as a fairly solid swordsman in his own right.

Sword Art online Alicization Episode 15 Kirito Fighting

This episode splits the two characters very solidly not on their talent with the sword but on their experience in actual battle. We’ve seen more than once a situation where Eugeo has become emotional in the midst of conflict and we see it again in this fight. We also see that Eugeo isn’t on guard against the two girls even though they are in enemy territory and they are fighting their way to the top. It is here that Kirito’s past, his knowledge and experience, allow him to shine. Even though once the fight begins in earnest, Eugeo plays a critical role, again it is Kirito leading the pace and direction of the battle.

Sword Art Online Episode 15 Alicization Kirito
I wonder if we’ll actually see this attack or if they are just faking us out?

The dynamic between the two characters and Eugeo’s changeable nature as he is new to this environment make for some of the more interesting moments that Alicization has brought to the franchise. Must admit, I really ended up enjoying this episode even with the sheer amount they tried to cram into it and as a result ended up doing a pretty ordinary job of.

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Karandi James
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SWORD ART ONLINE: LOST SONG
SWORD ART ONLINE: LOST SONG

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Series Review

Their Fight Isn’t To Save The World – Just Their Corner Of It

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary was one of those odd titles that comes out each season where I haven’t heard of it, haven’t seen any promotional materials, and just kind of go in blind. A fantasy-action, according to MAL at least, it seemed like it could be quite fun. And I was pleasantly surprised to find a fantasy that wasn’t isekai and instead had a faintly historical setting though the inclusion of mechas and ultimately flying armour kind of threw any basis in reality right out the window.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 6 Cheng

Now, I am going to end up recommending this title, mostly because very few people watched it while it was airing and I feel it really got overlooked in a strong season. However, that recommendation comes with a caution. The animation goes from average to terrible and remains that way through most of the run time. So if you are someone who expects modern anime to have high quality or at least reasonably consistent animation, I’d suggest not even trying this one because you are not going to enjoy it. For those that don’t mind the slightly shoddy visuals, there’s a pretty decent story to be found here.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 4

The setting works very well in Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary. The Taibai Empire is expanding and wants to conquer the world and does so by brutalising the inhabitants of small villages. It is more or less the expansion of China though don’t expect historical accuracy here. Yin and Ning are two sisters whose lives are destroyed when their village is attacked. Yin is waiting outside the village at the time and escapes mostly unscathed but Ning loses both arms (in what becomes an ongoing trend in this story – seriously, how many sets of arms does she go through?).

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 6 Yin and Ning

With this backdrop we follow Yin and Ning as they join up with the rebels fighting the empire. However, their scenes are interspersed with Zhao (Yin and Ning’s childhood friend) and Cheng, the Empress. We see both sides of this conflict and the personal dramas of these four young people all propelled into a war they didn’t start but are now just kind of destined to get caught up in. It borders on melodramatic at times, but each of the characters is interesting in their own way.

Yin and Ning, despite being close as sisters, are changed by the events in different ways. Yin just wants to keep her sister safe and out of the war but Ning is far more violent and wanting revenge for Zhao’s ‘death’ as well as the loss of her arms. It is probably telling that Ning’s fate isn’t exactly wonderful given her motivation rides from one hatred to the next. Yin on the other-hand suffers ongoing heartache as she tries and fails to keep the war away from her life.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 4

Zhao’s transition to serving the empire seems really odd at first but ultimately his character begins to make sense as he consistently chooses the path of least resistance. He’s someone who just wants to get a little ahead in the world and find a small piece of strength for himself. But it is his wavering between his various allegiances that ends up costing him.

Lastly, we have Cheng who is torn between being a very young girl who lost her father and being the Empress of a vastly expanded nation. I really liked that Cheng got treated as a human throughout all of this rather than just being the face of the enemy. Her relationship with Zhao is complicated and interesting to watch unfold even if you know early on there is no way it will end well.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 4

With a cast that all hold their own ground and a setting rich with potential, it is almost a shame that the animation wasn’t up to the challenge. We have sword fights, magic, burning villages, explosive death machines, and impossibly awkward mechas. The story choosing to focus in on the young cast members caught up in events makes things feel more personal and allows there to be some resolution within the thirteen episodes but a lot of the plot is implied or occurs off-screen with plenty more to happen after the end of the final episode, should there ever be a continuation.

As I said at the start, I do recommend this one for people looking for a fantasy or action story though it isn’t without its problems. Still, despite it not being that great, it was a little different and certainly interesting enough week to week.

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Karandi James
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DIABOLIK LOVERS OFFICIAL VISUAL FAN BOOK
DIABOLIK LOVERS OFFICIAL VISUAL FAN BOOK

The Accidental Creation of A Slime Nation

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode Review Title Image

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 15 Review

Rimuru is remaining very much a character that plot just happens to. He died because the plot killed him off and was reborn for the same reason. He stumbled across Veldora in the cave by chance and equally became the leader of the goblins by a series of events mostly outside of his control. Same with the ogres. And now the Lizardmen and Orcs have decided to leave him in charge of the whole forest alliance supported by the Dryad and before Rimuru knows it the Dwarf King shows up and acknowledges the alliances as an actual nation.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as  a Slime Episode 15 - Dwarf King

At no point does Rimuru have any real plan for where this is going (outside of getting his bath constructed because that’s apparently a really high priority). And while Rimuru does make decisions, for instance he could have ignored the goblins when they asked for help against the direwolves, in terms of being the protagonist his choices are always kind of driven by circumstance.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 15 - Rimuru becomes a chancellor

What it means is that this bouncy blue blob, while amusing to be sure, seems very passive in a story that seems to be revolving around him. Certainly Rimuru gets some great moments, and watching him getting flustered as more and more titles and responsibility get thrust upon him, is entertaining, but Rimuru isn’t really driving this story. In point of fact, the plot isn’t really pushing forward at all. It progresses and there’s certainly indicators of future conflicts, but the story seems content to wallow in the everyday moments broken up by action only by necessity.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 15 - Bad guy

Episode 15 of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is an excellent example of what this story seems to want to do. We see the town being constructed and encounters between characters. While there is a fight in this episode it is short and more good-natured than hostile and afterwards everybody eats.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 15 - Orcs

For me this means while I am enjoying That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime but it isn’t going to be a story I hold up as a favourite and these characters are never going to leave all that much of an impression on me. From week to week I don’t really think about this show outside of watching it and even when things end on a bit of a cliff-hanger I’m not overly concerned. Still, for relaxing and entertaining, That Time I Got Reincarnated as Slime is certainly hitting the mark and it is just kind of a fun way to pass the time.

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Karandi James
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THAT TIME I GOT REINCARNATED AS A SLIME – RIMURU CHANGING MUG CUP
THAT TIME I GOT REINCARNATED AS A SLIME - RIMURU CHANGING MUG CUP

Another Cute Girls Beat Demon With A Time-Warp Twist

Endro - Post Title Image

Endro! Episode 1 Review

We see to be swimming in stories that take place after a final battle in recent times, though here’s a twist… they went back in time to before they beat the villain and the villain has gone back to but remembers that final battle. It all sounds kind of cool and fun and then we realise it is a slice of life story featuring a quartet of cute girls with the demon being transformed into a loli teacher for whatever reason.

Endro Episode 1

If we find out at the end that the only reason the heroes get strong enough to defeat the demon lord is because the demon lord was the one who trained them (though technically she’s trying to get them expelled), I’m probably going to be really annoyed at this.

Endro! Episode 1

All and all though, the first episode is pleasant. The characters are cute without becoming annoying and so far we haven’t had any random boob groping or the like (though we did get some ear nibbling and sleep talk plus the outfits of a couple of these girls are reminiscent of the uniforms in Akashic Records of a Bastard Magical Instructor).

Endro Episode 1

What might get annoying is the demon as the loli teacher. While she has the potential to be quite interesting as the only one aware of the time travel and what happened when the heroes confronted the demon lord, so far she’s kind of petty and pathetic and her schemes are transparent and juvenile. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to like here but she’s certainly the weakest link for me so far.

While I’m not 100% sold on this one if it comes down to a choice this season of watching this or Ueno-San I will definitely pick this without hesitation.

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Karandi James
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SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SAKURAJIMA MAI
SEISHUN BUTA YAROU WA BUNNY GIRL SENPAI NO YUME WO MINAI 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SAKURAJIMA MAI

The Will To Keep A Smile Shining

The Price of Smiles Post Title Image

The Price of Smiles Episode 2 Review

The Price of Smiles plunges us headfirst into the war this week. While learning that Joshua has been deliberately keeping the Princess in the dark we also see the lengths he will go to in order to see her smile. And yet…

The Price of Smiles Episode 2

There just seems to be a small hole in the whole plan here. Given the military are currently losing the war against the empire you would think sooner or later the Princess is going to notice pieces of her kingdom getting overrun. Not to mention the costs associated with maintaining all those units and the death and injury of the soldiers. Joshua is just a little misguided and what worries me more is that everyone else in the entire Kingdom seems to be playing along with it.

The Price of Smiles Episode 2 - Joshua

Though, because of this, the end of the episode didn’t hit with anywhere near the impact it should have. It seemed obvious this set up was flawed and couldn’t be maintained and if you thought about how the cruellest way would be to make the Princess aware of the situation you could probably nail the end of this episode. It still works and it still sets up a dramatic turning point, but emotionally you were more waiting for it to happen rather than shocked by it.

The Price of Smiles Episode 2 - Joshua

That said, we do get a brief moment at the very end where the second character who is dancing about the opening sequence finally shows up. It will be interesting to see where this story chooses to go next week now that we’ve thoroughly broken the Princess’ smile. Or will she just bravely soldier on with her usual cheeriness because people expect it of her? So many possibilities and we might just cut to the other group altogether.

The Price of Smiles Episode 2 - Yuuki

I’m honestly not hugely into this show and yet at the same time I am intrigued by the possibilities so they’ve managed to get me very interested even if the execution and characters have so far been just okay (there really isn’t much to criticise it just doesn’t really grab me either).

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Karandi James
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TO ARU MAJUTSU NO INDEX III 1/7 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: MIKOTO MISAKA
TO ARU MAJUTSU NO INDEX III 1/7 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: MIKOTO MISAKA