How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 21 – Marriage For Political/Monetary Gain

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 21 Review

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom visually was very unimpressive this week largely because the entire episode was characters standing around talking in the throne room or talking through a mirror together. The only scene that really broke this up was when Souma told a story about two gods running opposing nations and then the animation was minimal and definitely more storybook style rather than impressive to match the framing device of it being a story.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 21

All things considered, you’d be forgiven for just kind of tuning out as this episode more or less re-established the arrangements more or less decided last week, confirmed everyone was on the same page, and then had Souma chat it out with Maria from the Empire so that she didn’t get the wrong idea and decide he’d broke the Humankind Declaration for which he isn’t even a signatory.

About the only real takeaway from episode 21 of how a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom is that Souma has finally accepted he is king, not an interim, and he’s not going to take his reforms slowly anymore.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 21

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom has more talking heads than anything else.

One thing I mentioned in my review of the previous episode was that Juna would have cause for complaint if Souma agreed to marry Roroa while she was still on hold. And yet, her only comment this week was that she wouldn’t go against any decision Souma made.

That isn’t good. That isn’t helpful. Souma doesn’t need a harem of ‘yes girls’ surrounding him telling him how brilliant he is. He needs decent, solid advisors who have their eye on the safety and security of the kingdom.

In that respect, Roroa outclassed Liscia, Juna and Aisha this week as she’s the only character with a future plan at all that involves doing anything other than just nodding as Souma talks and standing beside him looking like a window decoration rather than a character. Honestly, Souma should call them on this because for a Realist Hero who wanted to surround himself with the brightest and best and those with talent, he seems to now be surrounded by a bunch who can barely contribute a nod to the conversation. This is hardly a riveting supporting cast.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 21

Honestly I have little else to say about this episode. It was a lot of talking and things are all agreed between the main players. I guess we now just wait and see who the new problem is and all things considered it seems like the church state is going to be the new antagonist. It will be interesting to see if they manage to do this well or not.

Also, I’m not convinced the entire population of Amidonia is fine with being annexed into their traditional enemy’s kingdom. Sure, those in Van who have been under Elfrieden rule would mostly be fine with it and others would see it as an improvement over their circumstances with Julius in the lead. But a Realist Hero would be aware that there must be pockets of discontent. But that issue and what they will do about it isn’t really addressed this week.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 21

I can’t say this second season of How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom is disappointing because realistically it is pretty much exactly like season one. There’s some interesting ideas but the actual episodes are bogged down in static conversations and the characterisation isn’t great. It would have been nice to see this anime improve on season one but at the very least it has been about the same quality and hasn’t gotten worse.

Images from: How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom 2nd Season. Dir. T. Watanabe. J. C. Staff. 2022

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Karandi James

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Series Review

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 9 Rimuru in the cave

Ready for the slime of your life?

Here we are with another isekai anime and this one just comes out in the title and says its about That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (you know, because that happens a lot).

Another normal, ordinary, totally average guy who is killed by a totally normal knife wielding running man before being reincarnated as an over-powered blue slime in a world resembling a standard generic fantasy setting where he will begin building an empire and have plenty of adoring subjects because he is awesome.


So, if you don’t like isekai or over-powered protagonists it is probably time to duck out of this one. Because, this anime is utterly unashamed of what it is and while we have the gimmick of the protagonist being a slime, there isn’t a lot that really distinguishes it in terms of plot or setting.

That Time I Got Reicarnated as a Slime knows what it is and doesn’t really try to go beyond that.

Where That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime does manage to distinguish itself from similar isekai adventures is that the protagonist seems utterly without a goal for the majority of the story. Sorry, I’ll correct that. He has goals but mostly they revolve around making his life easier, and usually making life easier for those who follow him.

There’s no grand plan of fighting some powerful evil, trying to return home, or really anything else. Just short term goals that get accomplished in bite sized arcs as this essentially slice of life, empire building story kind of rolls itself out.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 11 Rimuru

As such there is never any real sense of urgency or that there are any real stakes in anything that happens. I kind of found this very off putting and frequently found it hard to invest a great deal emotionally in this show.

While I never overly disliked it, I think if Slime had suddenly had production issues and been delayed a month, I may not have even noticed. It just kind of existed and while I was watching it I usually had a casual good time with an occasional smile, the occasional enjoyment of a particularly good dialogue exchange, and very rarely an interesting fight, but mostly it just kind of passed by.

For people who prefer their stories low-key and don’t mind watching characters just kind of drift and do what they do (so people who don’t really mind slice of life in general), Slime probably offers a rare fantasy opportunity that isn’t all about slaying a demon lord or achieving some grand goal. In a sense it reminds me, vaguely, of something like Restaurant to Another Universe in that you have what appears to be a standard fantasy setting without any of the epic plot trappings that usually accompany it.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 16

In a sense, if Slime had chosen to simply occupy the space of a slice of life in a fantasy setting, I probably wouldn’t have watched it at all because I already know such a premise doesn’t really interest me. However, Slime does at times have hints of a larger narrative and certain arcs seemed to push that forward.

In those moments I found a genuine enjoyment rather than a casual like of the show. Shizue’s arc in the first cour was the true highlight, hitting some fairly decent emotional notes, filling in our knowledge of the world, and progressing the idea of a villain Rimuru may have to face at some point. All and all, it was pretty solid. There are other arcs, or bits of information within some of the other arcs that also build on an overall narrative idea, but they are scattered and hardly a focal point.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 6

With that it entirely comes down to your viewing preferences and whether you need a driving narrative as to whether this anime will grab your interest.

However, if the basic premise and set up is what you are looking for, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime offers a fairly beautifully presented quality viewing experience. In almost all episodes the visual and animation quality is maintained with none of the mid-season or late season mistakes, glitches, and just rushed efforts that other anime sometimes face.

Rimuru is as charmingly depicted in episode 23 as episode 1 (though early in the series there’s a weird CG visual used occasionally for Rimuru that just seems out of place with the rest of the visuals of the series – quite possibly deliberate but I felt it was weird).

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 1

One thing I did find bizarre was that the anime would introduce monster characters who would have quite strikingly non-human appearances and then after Rimuru gave them a name they would ‘evolve’ and have a more human appearance. I mentioned this in one of my episode reviews, but it felt like an utter waste to take such distinct looking characters and morph them into generic fantasy boy/girl with vague monster appendages.

It felt like a loss for what could have made this anime visually far more memorable than it ends up being, even if it is a pretty anime that is easy on the eyes.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 16

From a sound point of view everything works. Character voices serve their purpose and Rimuru’s voice acting is perhaps the character’s most charming point. He’s easy to listen to, fairly emotive, and the contrast between his inner and outer tone at times is spot on and nails the humour of a situation. Other characters are either good enough or quite interesting, and the background music and sounds do their job but don’t stand out as overly memorable.

Overall though it is the characters that I find to be the weakest element of this anime. Not because they are not good characters. Individually, each character is perfectly fine and they even play well off one another. The problem is that other than Rimuru, no character really sticks around long enough to have much impact. Even characters who stay in the story, after their introduction and brief moment in the spot-light, get shunted to the background where they occasionally fill screen space or make a comment, but kind of cease to develop as actual characters.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 10 Lizardmen

For me, in the absence of a driving plot, I really needed more from the characters and their personal journeys. I needed something to make me want to invest emotionally in this anime, and tragically the characters just couldn’t fill the void.

Admittedly, the characters are largely quirky and cute but when the vast majority of names are forgotten before the series has even been a week completed, and you genuinely don’t know what even half of them are trying to do or accomplish and you generally have no sense that any of the characters are motivated to do anything beyond serve Rimuru, it really makes it hard to care about what happens to any of them and Rimuru is so over-powered (and if he wasn’t, Milim sure is), that it is hard to visualise harm coming to any of them.

Again, it comes down to whether or not you care about any kind of tension or emotional stakes in your story or whether you just want to chill. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime would be a very good anime to just chill to.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 19 Gobta

Before I wrap up, I do want to discuss the episode count. At 25 episodes, this anime took six months to air. That’s a long time investment for episodic watching and I will admit, I was weary of it by the end. It didn’t help that the final arc, despite tying in fairly beautifully with Shizue’s arc from the first half of the season, was undeniably one of the weaker stories delivered.

However, what makes it worse is the anime actually finishes at episode 23 and then we have two extra episodes. Episode 24 actually is better than anything the second half of Slime gave us and just made me wonder why we hadn’t seen more like that. That probably isn’t what you want your bonus material to do. 24.5 is just padding. Poorly executed recap. A poor excuse of filler to pad out a 25 episode count that was unneeded.

Getting onto recommendations, it isn’t as though this was a bad anime. There are huge numbers of fans, massive amounts of merchandise available, and realistically there’s nothing inherently broken about the story. While it doesn’t suit my viewing preferences, it functionally works and at times even I found it very entertaining and at its worst I just found it kind of empty but watchable. So for some this will be highly entertaining.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 18 fanservice

My honest opinion with this one is that there are better isekai anime out there with better journeys and characters. Then again, I prefer something that has clear direction and characters that grow and learn so perhaps Slime and I were never meant to be. Still, I wouldn’t actually tell you to avoid this one. It can be good fun and is nicely made. Give it a try, by the end of episode 3 you should have a rough idea of whether this works for you, and maybe you’ll find a show to fall in love with.

However, I’d love to know your thoughts on That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (the anime) so please share in the comments below. And you can check out my thoughts on season 2 here.

Images from: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. Dir. Y Kikuchi. 8Bit. 2018.

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Karandi James

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 20 – Incompetence Finds Its Victim This Week

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 20 Review

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom bounces viewers back to the war in Amidonia (or the fall-out from the war) after rapidly wrapping up the whole mad-scientist plot. I mean, we start still in the lab and dealing with the whole dragon bone theft issue but after seeing a weird curiosity, that mostly just made me think of mecha godzilla, Realist Hero more or less dumps that line of plot progress and instead we see the mess Julius has wrought since claiming back Amidonia.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 20

You wouldn’t think one incompetent leader could get into so much trouble so quickly but between destroying infrastructure improvements built by Elfrieden, cracking down on individuality on things such as the colour of houses, and then brutally putting down a rebellion after people had starved to death, Julius couldn’t really have done a worse job. It’s unfortunate that his father had alienated or fired anyone competent in his government leaving Julius with opportunists and morons to advise him.

Not like he would have listened to good advice anyway.

Realist Hero has already clearly established that Julius, much like his father, as a strong belief that he is in the right and that he can bully or beat down anyone who disagrees with his view of how the world should be and how he should rule. Unlike his father, Julius has neither the force of personality or the standing army to pull this one off.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 20

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom seems to be expanding Kingdom into Empire.

Seeing Julius brought down might have been amusing if Realist Hero didn’t actually have real consequences in place. While seeing someone do a poor job and pay the price for it, having to flee his own country, could be satisfying, in the meantime the people of Amidonia are starving and in fear for their lives. Not only is their own army putting down those who dare complain, the country was being invaded from the south.

What I did wonder was why Julius didn’t get the Empire to help him again? Or why didn’t Souma ask the Empire whether they supported Elfrieden annexing the neighbouring kingdom (at their request, of course)? As much as it seems a logical conclusion, if the Empire doesn’t support it then they’ll just end up where they were before.

Then again, all these invasions and talks of refugees flooding across the border struck a little too close to home this week and events in the real world are significantly more dramatic than anything this anime is managing to coble together in a fictional setting.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 20

Though, throughout all of this, Souma and Hakuya both note that while Julius’ failure was within predictions, the speed and coordination of all the failings seemed a little contrived. It was nice to see at the end that clearly there was a helping hand within Amidonia pushing events in this direction. Otherwise it really would have felt like things just too easily fell Souma’s way in Realist Hero.

And of course that brings us to the end of the episode where Souma inadvertently acquires yet another candidate for his harem. Politically it makes sense. That said, if Souma agrees to that proposal before tidying things up with Juna I suspect there’s going to be a fall out somewhere along the lines.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom Episode 20

Anyway, I could continue to point out Julius’ failings but I think that point has been well and truly established already in Realist Hero. It was interesting that when deciding what to do, Souma went through the advantages and disadvantages of expanding and taking control of Amidonia. I loved that he mentioned they would lose the reparation payments they had just secured. It actually does make it feel more realistic when that kind of materialism is definitely considered as a factor even in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.

I guess we’ll see in the next episode how all of this plays out.

Images from: How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom 2nd Season. Dir. T. Watanabe. J. C. Staff. 2022

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Karandi James

Sabikui Bisco Episode 9 – Does Anyone Have a Cure For Heart Break?

Sabikui Bisco Episode 9 Review

So many anime should watch episode 8 and 9 of Sabikui Bisco to really understand how to capitalise emotionally on a cliff-hanger ending. Seriously, I thought episode 8 left us at a heart-wrenching moment and my greatest fear was that this week we would literally just see the characters walk away from it within the first few minutes of the episode.

Instead, episode 9 begins with shattered characters and words that are clearly foreshadowing disaster and then things escalate and just don’t stop until the dramatic conclusion of the episode (which I am going to try hard not to spoil because that really should be watched). I’m just left wondering what Sabikui Bisco does for the next three episodes and whether it can ever be as emotionally devastating as it was this week.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 9

Although, it probably doesn’t need to be. What it really needs to do is address what all of this actually changes in the world or whether it was all for nothing.

Sabikui Bisco was far more committed to its plot than I gave it credit for earlier in the season.

In order to avoid too many spoilers I am afraid this particular episode review is going to end up being a little bit all over the place as I focus on less prominent details than the conclusion.

For instance, I haven’t really talked about Jabi much in any of my episode reviews of Sabikui Bisco so far. Yet this mentor character from Bisco has played a key role at multiple junctures in the story, despite spending most of the series injured or captured. And you have to admit, this old man has some spunk.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 9

I mean, Jabi is the one who raised Bisco so we had to know this guy was a bit on the reckless side. He also clearly has a big heart. Throughout the course of the series, his own safety has never been his priority concern. Instead, he’s always looked out for the others, whether it be Bisco or even Pawoo when she was captured.

It makes me wonder why Kurokawa ever thought threatening Jabi’s life, or even his fingers, would somehow convince him to surrender. This old man was never going to fold over something like that.

But now I’m wondering how Jabi is going to react next week to the final of episode 9… Okay, not going there.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 9

Honestly, there’s little more you could ask from Sabikui Bisco at this point. It has been a zany adventure and buddy quest with this whole dystopian thing going underneath it and this episode just brought all those elements together so well. It is always nice when you are watching an anime or a story and realise that everything actually does work together and clearly there was a plan from the start when the writer put this story together.

About the only real visual criticism I could make of episode 9 is that it is pretty much the same colour from beginning to end and it is quite a bleak and dull looking episode compared to previous ones. Then again, given events, the colour palette more or less suits the episode perfectly.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 9 Review

Can the next episode be out already?

This is perhaps the biggest problem with seasonal viewing in that there’s so much I want to say but at the same time don’t want to say until people have a chance to watch this episode on their own.

Anyway, Sabikui Bisco has gone from being a curiosity and kind of interesting to being something I am highly emotionally invested in and that is definitely a good thing given how many other anime this season kind of lost me at the mid-way point.

Images from: Sabikui Bisco. Dir. A Ikariya. OZ. 2022

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Karandi James

DanMachi Series Review

is it wrong to try to pick up girls in a dungeon season 2 release date spoilers for danmachi e1436273064961

DanMachi Overview:

DanMachi is one of those rare fantasy anime that actually isn’t an isekai (though at times it feels like it should be).

In a fantasy world, Bell Cranel wants to be an adventurer and wants to meet the love of his life in a dungeon. With the divine blessing of his Goddess, Hestia, Bell is going to work hard to become strong, and let’s be honest, this is one of my favourite series ever.

DanMachi Review:

Alright, I avoided this anime when it first came out. The name “Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?” was kind of an instant turn-off and I just had this image of the most generic harem comedy in existence and wasn’t going to go near it.

No idea why I ended up watching the first episode of it, but I do know that I then watched the entire show in the space of an afternoon. For all that it isn’t a perfect series, it is a delightful bit of fun and highly addictive viewing.

DanMachi - Bell and Hestia

Is it generic fantasy? Definitely. You have dungeons and elves and minotaurs and you’ve got a whole pile of RPG elements thrown in with levelling up and stat scores and the like. It isn’t trying to break new ground in its world building but neither is it playing these things as a joke. While the feel of the show is light-hearted they’ve taken world-building seriously and the world you are presented with is a very functional setting for a story.

Do we have a harem? Not quite but pretty close. Bell does have a lot of admirers by the end but to actually describe this as a harem comedy would not do justice to either this or to harems because while there are certainly elements of harem here, that isn’t the main focus despite the title. There is one girl that Bell likes and he uses that like as a motivation to drive himself to get stronger.

While other characters flock around him and the usual comedy elements get thrown in, the story focuses very much on Bell developing as a character.

This is character development. Bell will definitely learn from this.

So what works about this show? The comedy is a little bit childish and over the top at times, but it generally works and is amusing. Hestia in particular can usually make me smile. But then again, the idea of a Goddess taking on part time jobs to buy her hero equipment (or even dinner in the early stages) is pretty amusing in and of itself.

Pretty much if you don’t crack a smile during the first episode then this show isn’t going to work for you because from a tone point of view it isn’t really going anywhere and they are only going to get more excessive in their efforts to make you laugh.

Bell Cranel works as a character. Okay, he’s a bit bland as a character (generic self-insert cliché) but the story allows for him to grow and actually begin to make decisions and choices and to start to find out who he is. And unlike so many other characters he doesn’t discover he is actually an ego-maniac. He discovers that he genuinely wants to have an adventure and to protect his friends and he derives great joy from his small (and not so small) successes.

The interactions between the gods and the gods and their families work really well. I feel a little hypocritical on this point because they do a great job of massacring mythology in this and I’ve certainly criticised other shows for this previously, however I didn’t feel annoyed by the way they presented the gods in this show.

They also didn’t try to shove their version of mythology down your throat. It was more they had god like characters who happen to have the names of gods you may or may not be familiar with and as a result you may or may not like the way they are represented. That said, the interactions are great.

Bell’s party that slowly forms is fantastic. Originally hiring a supporter (who comes with a lot of baggage) before recruiting a smith (who also comes with a lot of baggage), these additional characters really help to off-set Bell’s general blandness and inject new energy into the second half of the series.

Welf Crozzo (the smith) is one of my favourite characters and my only complaint would be his limited screen time given how late in the series he is introduced.


Then we have the dungeon exploration itself which is just pure fun. Whether the characters are picking off small fry or facing up against a floor boss, the combat is visually entertaining and hits just the right balance between being dramatic and being over the top. Bell’s battle against the minotaur is one I will continue to love forever.

It perfectly brought together the previous plot points (Bell being embarrassed when he was cornered by a minotaur and being unable to fight against it as well as his desire to protect), it allowed for some critical character development and a bit of a power-up in the process before we moved into the final arc, and it was an awesome fight to watch. I loved every minute of that fight.

The biggest flaw might be that the final fight sequence isn’t quite as exciting as it needs to be. Bigger enemy doesn’t necessarily make for a better fight and it actually felt like all the clever moves and strategies that we’d see previous got tossed out the window as the characters threw themselves at the giant blob of a villain (little bit sarcastic but you get the idea). 

Admittedly, it ends the way it needs to for Bell as a character, but as a viewer you gain little satisfaction. The Minotaur fight was a personal triumph for a character we’d grown to like and then this final fight was with a boss from nowhere and while it has its place it didn’t feel as rewarding. Worse though, it all just feels like a resting point for a continuation that has yet to come, though I guess we’ll see if it ever does (rumours say yes, but they’ve been wrong before – meanwhile I’ve well and truly read beyond this point in the light novels now and please give us another season).

Okay, I have to mention my other criticism which is the basic dress of every female character (even the armoured ones). Starting from Hestia on, they are not dressed for any practical purpose and while some of the male costumes aren’t any better there is at least a wider variety of clothes for males.


Is this show going to blow your mind and change the way you think? Probably not. What it should do is provide you with a few smiles, some exhilarating fight sequences, and a whole cast of cute and zany characters to chill out with for an afternoon. If that sounds appealing, pull up a chair and give it a watch.

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Karandi James

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 7 – Departure’s and Turning Points

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 7 Review

Arifureta continues to be a mixed bag of varying animation quality and varying amounts of care. At times there are scenes that look truly beautiful and then they are followed by a still image depicting everyone walking in for dinner with the sound of footsteps over the top to give us a sense of actual movement going on (unsuccessfully). Likewise we go from a silly game of tag where Shia’s bikini top gets stolen to full on conspiracy and murder at the castle.

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 7

As always, my feelings on Arifureta are mixed as the overall plot line is fascinating and all of these characters have moments where I truly do like watching them. Then there’s everything in between those moments and when that starts dominating the episodes I find myself wondering once again why I continue to push through with this anime.

Definitely a case where reading is the better option for this story because you can definitely get through the more frivolous parts quicker and when you get to the meat the story is actually really good.

Those still watching Arifureta really have to just accept this is what it is.

You’d be forgiven early on for feeling that episode 7 of Arifureta was just going to be more filler time with fan-service as Hajime and the girls delay leaving Myu and her mother due to Hajime suddenly having sentimental feelings toward leaving Myu behind. Admittedly, it is a pretty decent character progression point given other than Yue, Hajime had cut himself off significantly from others after the initial betrayal that led to his fall so seeing him so connected to another is actually a great step forward.

It doesn’t make watching them play tag in bikinis any more interesting. Nor does it make morning wood jokes actually amusing.

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 7

However, for all that Hajime and gang seem to be in a holding pattern this week, events back at the castle involving the other students are in full swing. We finally get to see Aiko in her prison and admittedly she isn’t doing a whole lot other than fretting about things. It would have been nice to see her plotting escape or trying to get a message out or literally anything to show that she had grown beyond just wringing her hands and hoping, but at least we’ve finally seen what happened to her after her abduction.

Of course, it does leave you wondering why she isn’t just dead. All well and good to say she’s been taken off the board but the problem is she could be placed back on it if you just leave her where she is.

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 7

Aiko isn’t the main point though. What we see this week is that huge numbers of people in the castle are being influenced and this leads to an attack on the Knight Commander and pretty much only decent guy there. While a fairly common criticism I’ve had of Arifureta up until now is that we don’t spend enough time on this aspect of the story, leading to only having a vague sense of any of these characters, the Knight Commander has managed to make an impression so the attack upon him definitely carried weight and it definitely has huge implications for the safety of the students going forward.

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 7

And just to ensure that the plot is really hopping along we also get a cut of the demons declaring that their god has spoken and they are going to war. This could potentially lead to a very violent climax if all of these plot threads actually come together.

All that is really left is to see what Arifureta decides to do with all these plot points. Hopefully something good. Or at the very least, explosive.

Images from: Arifureta 2nd Season. Dir. A Iwanaga. asread & studio MOTHER. 2022.

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Sabikui Bisco Episode 8 – They Aren’t Going To Leave It There (Oh they did)

Sabikui Bisco Episode 8 Review

If I thought episode 7 of Sabikui Bisco left us on a dramatic cliff-hanger, clearly I was mistaken as episode 8 shows us exactly what a dramatic cliff-hanger really is. I guess the only question I’m stuck with is whether I think Sabikui Bisco will actually follow through or whether this is going to be one of those stories where we get a dramatic cliff-hanger only for everything to be resolved within a minute of the next episode beginning.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 8

Only time will answer that particular question and in the mean time I’m going to try to review this episode without spoilers. Though, this episode did very much cement my opinion that despite all the weird mushroom trappings, Sabikui Bisco is very much going through the motions of an adventure narrative plot. We had four episodes setting up the adventure and bringing the two main characters together. The next four episodes had their journey to find the MacGuffin and then set up this new problem. Now, with four episodes left, we’ve hit another dramatic turning point in the story.

Sabikui Bisco wasn’t going for light viewing this week.

Every now and then I watch an episode of an anime that just leaves me emotionally wrecked. That was this week’s episode of Sabikui Bisco. We begin with Milo facing Kurokawa having watched his little broadcast in the last episode and we finally get to see what images drove Milo to drugging Bisco.

Kurokawa is just… well, evil would probably be the best term. Cartoonishly evil. Motive revealed – profits at the expense of the lives of everyone suffering from the rusting. Maintaining power. Oh, and throw in the kicker reveal about Kurokawa’s life before he was the governor. Added kicker, he’s personally responsible for why everyone hates mushroom keepers.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 8

That’s a lot of reasons to hate a person. And the thing is with the over the top nature of how this story has played out, having a villain that is so ridiculously villainous just kind of makes sense.

Speaking of over the top, Milo really stepped up this week in Sabikui Bisco. As much as it didn’t end up working out, you have to admit the sight of him charging in to the villain’s den, taking out the lackey’s and taking slices out of Kurokawa was really impressive. If Kurokawa didn’t have plot armour because he’s needed to still be around in the final act of this story he would definitely have been taken out by this attack.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 8

What doesn’t quite add up though is that Milo did go to a lot of effort and clearly put some thought into his attack and yet turns out Jabi was going to rescue himself and probably could have gotten himself and Pawoo out without Milo or Bisco ever turning up. It really does suck when the designated hostages can rescue themselves as it makes the efforts of the heroes look more than a little futile.

Still, how awesome was Jabi?

Sabikui Bisco Episode 8

Actually if we are ranking how awesome the characters were this week in Sabikui Bisco, tragically Pawoo who only gets to be the damsel in distress and torture victim comes in quite low but Bisco, despite coming to save Milo, doesn’t do much better. For all that he’s had some truly awesome moments throughout this series, somehow here he was just kind of off his game.

I know, they are going to use the whole poisoned last episode thing as a reason, plus he didn’t really expect the attack to come from where it did, but given some of the dodges and cool moves he has pulled off previously it really did seem like they had to seriously de-power Bisco this week in order for the story to progress as they wanted.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 8

Anyway, Sabikui Bisco was great. I love watching this scene unfold and my only issue is the credits started rolling leaving us severely hanging until next week.

Images from: Sabikui Bisco. Dir. A Ikariya. OZ. 2022

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Karandi James

Basic Adventure Narrative with Unusual Mushrooms – Sabikui Bisco Has My Attention

Basic Adventure Narrative - Sabikui Bisco

Sabikui Bisco has been airing during the Winter 2022 season and while there’s some chatter about it unfortunately it just couldn’t compete for the communities attention when big-hitters like Attack on Titan and Kimetsu no Yaiba are airing. Which is a bit of a shame because the audience that likes those kinds of shows would probably find enough to enjoy in Sabikui Bisco though it clearly doesn’t have the budget of either of them and is by a studio that I can’t seem to find any other anime listed for.

It probably didn’t help that the first few episodes kept the audience guessing about what kind of story this was ultimately going to be as we were introduced to a world being taken over by rust, a city with a corrupt leader and all the usual dystopian trappings, and a guy who could shoot arrows that caused giant mushrooms to instantly sprout.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 2

It more or less guaranteed that Sabikui Bisco was going to be an anime that would end up being enjoyed by a few but give it six months and most people won’t have heard of it.

Again, a bit of a shame. Not saying this anime is some hidden masterpiece or anything, but if you just want to strap in and enjoy a fantasy ride, Sabikui Bisco has consistently delivered. And perhaps the reason it has managed that is that despite some of the more bizarre choices within the post-apocalyptic setting we find ourselves in, Sabikui Bisco is following almost a check list of what an adventure story needs to be. In short, our heroes find themselves on a quest.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 3

I’ve mentioned this before on my blog that I value entertainment over originality. Weirdly, Sabikui Bisco kind of gives me both. The plot line is very much exactly what you would expect from a quest meanwhile the setting continues to feel fresh and interesting though is perhaps underutilised and underexplored.

The basic introduction to Sabikui Bisco

In Bisco Akaboshi, the ‘man eating mushroom’ (perhaps one of the weirdest and most inaccurate nicknames ever given he’s neither a mushroom or a man-eater) we have our enigmatic hero. He first appears with his face fully bandaged over in a poor attempt at disguise to cross a checkpoint. We know little about him other than he is a wanted criminal, is travelling with an old man, and he rides a giant crab. However, once he arrives in the city he meets soon to be sidekick/best friend trope Milo.

We’ll talk about how Milo has most definitely risen above his archetypal roles in a moment.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 6

Through meeting Milo we learn that Bisco is, as all hero’s in adventure stories must be, on a quest for your standard McGuffin. This is a quest to find a mushroom that can apparently cure the disease known as the rusting that both the old man Bisco is travelling with and Milo’s sister, Pawoo, are suffering from. Actually, it probably isn’t strictly fair to call it a McGuffin because having it isn’t in and of itself the goal. The goal is to cure the rusting. Still, it could have been literally anything they had to travel to find.

Of course, they only have a vague idea where the mushroom even is and it is more mythological than reality. Then again, most people believe the mushroom keepers are spreading the rust when in fact the mushrooms they are spreading about are actually helping to remove the rust.

Now, the adventure itself through the dangerous landscapes filled with a range of biological and natural dangers could have been sufficient challenge for Sabikui Bisco to take on. However the early episodes also introduced us to a villain.

And while he isn’t a moustache twirling, monocle wearing, cackling bad-guy he’s the next best thing in anime – a gravelly voiced yakuza knock-off complete with an army of bunny guards armed with guns.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 1

So it is the arrow shooting mushroom keeper against the gangster with gun wielding bunny soldiers?

Actually not so much. Because after Sabikui Bisco delivers the first three episodes where all the characters are established, Milo and Bisco head off on their own (pursued by Pawoo) to find the mushroom that will save their loved ones and our villain kind of disappeared for awhile. However, you had to know he was going to return. They spent too long on that set-up to let such a good opportunity just fade away.

At the halfway point just after they find the item they’ve been searching for, the villain sweeps in and essentially resets the goal-posts for the heroes who were already on a tight timeline. It is a pretty standard move in an adventure story for a party member to betray the hero or for something unexpected to throw the mission into overtime only the stakes are now far higher and the potential losses far greater.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 7

All and all, an excellent way to pivot into the second half of the anime season and hopefully a sign that Sabikui Bisco won’t lose momentum but will power through to a conclusion at the end of the season (I am being optimistic). Still, unlike so many other anime it really hasn’t felt like it has floundered in the mid-season. Each episode has naturally progressed from the last and they’ve interspersed action set-pieces with character moments fairly nicely so that there’s always something happening.

However where Sabikui Bisco has truly excelled is in the partnership between Bisco and Milo. While Bisco is a seasoned adventurer he’s pretty brash and loud and he tends to tackle everything head on. He isn’t a mindless idiot though. He has some real survival skills and a solid knowledge of the world they are travelling through.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 4

Milo on the other hand has lived his whole life inside the city and has become a doctor and he could definitely have become the dead-weight of the team or have been used as the damsel in distress in every other scenario. Instead the doctor commits to this journey and the path he has chosen as he is determined to save his sister, and everyone else who is dying from the incurable illness, and while Bisco’s instruction is at times lacking Milo works at improving himself.

While Milo’s medical knowledge is impressive, his ability to learn and adapt to new situations is what makes him an incredibly strong asset in the team and someone that while Bisco teases him occasionally you can see he respects. It’s also just great watching him get stronger and more confident.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 7

It probably isn’t a coincidence that the two are colour coded with Sabikui Bisco giving the hot-headed Bisco spiky red hair and the calmer, more thoughtful Milo soft blue hair that falls across his face. Their different personalities are clear from the start and yet this odd-couple pairing works and makes what happens at episode 7 even more amazing to watch. It will be interesting to see what impact this has on the two moving forward.

Sabikui Bisco isn’t treading new ground with its plot or even its characters and yet its taken the standard adventure story, thrown in a whole bunch of weird, put it in a blender and somehow managed to make the concoction stick through decent writing and not letting the pace slow down enough for audiences to question some of the plot holes. If you haven’t given Sabikui Bisco a try yet this season, now may be the time.

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Karandi James

Sabikui Bisco Episode 7 – Everybody Vs Everybody Else

Sabikui Bisco Episode 7 Review

Sabikui Bisco presses forward with the plot in a big way this week with the dynamic duo of Milo and Bisco finally reaching their goal of finding the rust eater mushroom, just as Pawoo roared onto the scene at the end of episode 6 determined to teach Bisco a lesson for taking Milo with him.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 7

Weirdly, Milo doesn’t intervene as Pawoo and Bisco exchange words and initial blows and it isn’t until Pawoo is lifted into the air by the rust eater that he takes any action. And what dramatic action it is as he charges into the air on the back of Akutagawa going head to head with the rust eater. It is extraordinarily brave and kind of stupid simultaneously, and because it is anime that means it is going to succeed.

Sabikui Bisco continues along at a brisk pace.

You have to wonder with all of these mushrooms instantly springing up into full growth, how they actually work. Largely, I have to wonder after Bisco and Milo get themselves chomped by the rust eater and clearly fire mushrooms inside of it how they managed to get pushed out through the roof of the mouth with the mushroom clump and not get crushed to death in the process. Or maybe I wasn’t supposed to be applying logic to this situation. It looked cool. It was dramatic. There was a great soundtrack. Let’s just go with it.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 7

The fight isn’t without casualties with Bisco getting knocked about a bit and Akutagawa, everyone’s favourite giant crab and definite mascot for Sabikui Bisco, losing a pincer. That Bisco later in the episode mocks Akutagawa for getting turned down by a female crab (off-screen but I really want to see what she looked like) was kind of low. I felt so bad for Akutagawa.

Anyway, Pawoo finally accepts that Bisco isn’t a man-eating maniac who kidnapped her brother. Which should have meant the group could make the medicine, get back to the city to save Jabi, and spread the cure for rust.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 7

Of course, it isn’t that simple. Sabikui Bisco had established the evil governor Kurokawa in its early episodes so it isn’t as though his interference comes out of nowhere. At the same time, convenient he shows up in a giant airship capable of listing the entire rust eater right at that particular moment.

It kind of makes you realise he’s known all along about the potential cure and for whatever reason doesn’t want it getting out (I’m guessing it is to do with power and control or just that he’s evil) but it is interesting that other than the mushroom keepers everyone else seems to be in the dark about it and that he’s managed to quell even rumours in the general population.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 7

Of course the governor’s plan doesn’t stop with just taking the rust eater. For a show that moves so quickly and seems so light and fun if you just kind of watch the brightly coloured scenes, it kind of is really dark. Though I guess it is set in a post apocalyptic dystopian society so what else should I expect from Sabikui Bisco.

Kurokawa ambushes Pawoo on her way back to Jabi with the cure and televises something that Milo sees on TV. Weird given the amount of times there was no possibility of Bisco or Milo seeing a broadcast and yet the one time they are resting in a room is the time he tries to talk to them that way (I get it, don’t ask questions). Anyway, whatever Kurokawa says gets Milo ready to drug Bisco to sleep.

Yes it is that tired old trop of betraying someone to save them.

Sabikui Bisco Episode 7

I don’t know why anyone thinks this is a good idea though I am impressed how well Milo thought it all through as he clearly realised he needed more than one contingency if he was actually going to drug the mushroom keeper.

Sabikui Bisco leaves us on a dramatic cliff-hanger (again) and honestly I just want to see what happens next.

Images from: Sabikui Bisco. Dir. A Ikariya. OZ. 2022

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Karandi James

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 6 – Another Labyrinth Down

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 6 Review

When Arifureta directed Hajime onto his quest to conquer each of the Labyrinths, initially as a goal to maybe get home and then apparently to bring down the gods of the world, or whatever, I wondered how they would keep this scenario interesting.

The first Labyrinth (in season one) was brutal for Hajime given his weakness when he fell into it and transformed him entirely teaching him a huge range of skills along the way. Subsequent labyrinths have been less impressive. While the second presented some challenges, mostly they’ve been a walk-through for Hajime and gang and while they’ve learned a new magic at the other end there’s been little personal growth associated with the journey.

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 6

If the journey is giving diminishing returns, what will Arifureta do next?

I guess if someone was determined to attempt defending the Arifureta anime adaptation they’d point to Kaori’s understanding this week as she accepted her position in the party and that Hajime was in love with Yue. I’m not entirely sure that was a winning decision but I guess it counts as character growth.

For Hajime though, this latest Labyrinth really didn’t do much for him other than give him the token that means he now has conquered enough labyrinths to go back to the one in Shea’s forest. I’ll admit though, as Hajime himself points out, the visions in this Labyrinth would have been much harder to deal with if you were from the world originally. As it was though it really was as Hajime put like “watching a bad play”.

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 6

Basically this Labyrinth revealed that a year after peace was forged between humans, beastmen and demons, the human king got all the delegates from the beastmen and demons onto a boat, went off on a religious extremist rant before executing the lot of them. Go figure it was a human who broke the peace treaty and did it because he was hiding behind religion.

Although, I guess we are potentially being led to believe that he was being manipulated behind the scenes. With the end scenes showing us what is currently happening in the palace where clearly people are having their minds controlled, it is certainly possible.

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 6

And certainly they remind us at the end of this episode of Arifureta yet again of things going very wrong for the students waiting back at the palace. While Hajime and his group are out doing and as a result continuing to gain magic and skills, the rest of the summoned heroes have kind of stagnated and seem to not even be venturing out from behind the walls anymore.

Even as they worry about their teacher who has not come back and others who have gone missing, they still simply sit at a table and wring their hands rather than taking action.

Arifureta Season 2 Episode 6

Honestly, we’re very back to Arifureta just kind of being adequate. We’ve returned to the murky visuals at points in the Labyrinth making it difficult to see what is happening. We’re also back to seemingly little to no challenge for Hajime and his gang as they simply walk through one of the most dangerous places on the planet. Even the one potential threat that may have challenged them was easily dealt with due to the arrival of the talking fish Hajime randomly rescued way back when (and how many viewers had just forgotten about that).

That said, there is a sense that this season of Arifureta is actually moving us toward something. The ongoing saga with the other students suggests that Hajime isn’t going to be ignored for too much longer and it makes me wonder where this season will end.

Images from: Arifureta 2nd Season. Dir. A Iwanaga. asread & studio MOTHER. 2022.

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Karandi James