Why Summer Is The Time To Watch Fantasy Anime

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Another anime season has rolled in and while there are still a few titles left to get rolling the Summer season has already proven beyond a doubt to be a boon for fans of fantasy. For those who find fantasy a little harder to take, they must be scratching their heads in search of anime to watch this season but for me the difficulty is in deciding what to prioritise for my watch list. It has been a long time since I’ve felt so spoiled for choice.

So what is good this season for fantasy viewers other than the sheer number of anime?

  • To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts Episode 2
  • Isekai Cheat Magician Episode 1
  • Cop Craft Episode 1
  • Arifureta Episode 1
  • Astra Lost in Space
  • Granbelm Episode 1
  • Demon Lord Retry Episode 1
  • Fire Force Episode 1
  • Dr Stone Episode 1
  • Uchi no Musume Episode 1

Starting with the non-isekai stories we’ve got the ridiculously cute ‘If It’s For My Daughter I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord‘. This one is looking to have more of a slice of life focus within a fairly generic fantasy setting. For me this one is one that I’ve enjoyed the first episode of but I’m still on the fence overall. That slice of life aspect isn’t exactly my favourite and anime about cute kids only have about a 50/50 hit rate for me particularly if they spiral into the overly cutesy. Still, this one gave us a fairly solid opening act and set up an adorable father/daughter dynamic and there’s plenty of potential for it.

For something a little bit different, we’ve got the odd-couple detective team being set up in an alternative reality version of Earth with ‘Cop Craft’. This one had a bit of a shakier start but for those who are into gritty detectives and like the idea of the grizzled and jaded detective teaming up with a fairly clueless fairy girl who is apparently handy with a sword then there is some fun to be had. Not to mention at least this one gets us out of that generic pseudo-medieval setting that so many fantasy stories default to.

For magical girls and giant robots simultaneously there is the visual spectacle of ‘Granbelm’ which may or may not be setting up yet another magical girl death match. As usual we have clueless protagonist suddenly finding themselves in the midst of the battle and when push comes to shove turns out to have super magic robot powers but there’s actually some potential here for this one to end up being alright. I guess it depends on where it goes next but the first episode sure got my attention.

Then we have something that I really haven’t figured out if it is supposed to be fantasy or horror (not sure whether it has figured it out yet either) with ‘The One’s Within‘. For now I’m on the fence about it but again there’s plenty of room for growth in the story and any premiere that can mix giant pandas with ghosts certainly gets a second episode to at least try to explain itself.

However even the big hitters like ‘Dr Stone‘ and ‘Fire Force‘ have trappings of fantasy about their premises and ‘Astra Lost in Space’, while technically sci-fi really just seems like a fantastic voyage set in space. ‘Demon Slayer‘ is ongoing as is ‘Fruits Basket‘ and both of these integrate fantastic and supernatural elements into real world settings fairly seamlessly for an enjoyable watch for those who didn’t pick them up during Spring.

And of course we still have the return of ‘DanMachi’ (Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon) to look forward to. Believe me, I’m looking forward to that.

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Oh, and I didn’t mention ‘To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts‘ which has actually had a really solid opening two episodes and is looking at being up in my favourites for the season.

There’s others but then we turn our attention to the isekai fest that has begun this season. Hot on the tail of ‘The Rising of the Shield Hero‘ and ‘Kenja no Mago‘, this season has a plethora of protagonists being wrested from their everyday lives and thrown into fantasy land where they inevitably end up as over powered juggernauts. For those over the usual isekai trappings this will be met with a groans however for those who find the standard tale of unlikely protagonist in magic land, this is certainly a season to celebrate.

The bottom of the barrel so far seems to be ‘Demon Lord Retry‘. While there’s certainly room for growth here it certainly delivered the least inspired opening episode of the bunch and left me wondering if it intended to actually do anything that would even make it stand out. Then the second episode aired and I realised the tone they were going for with the anime and between the butt spanking and other poor attempts at humour this one is the one I feel I’m most likely going to drop of the three isekai I’ve picked up so far. On the other hand, the main character isn’t a high schooler so at least points for the non-generic isekai protagonist, now if only they’d make him interesting.

The second isekai I’ve got on my list this season is ‘Arifureta’. Now, I loved the first light novel in this series. I devoured it almost over-night because I was drawn in and couldn’t stop reading. I was kind of excited about it getting an adaptation and then I watched the first episode. While Arifureta can certainly get better given the source material they are working from, that was a really uninspiring first episode and one that feels like the people making the anime missed what was appealing about the source in the first place. Still, it isn’t as though it was actually bad, it was just that it kind of felt like they were just trying to skip over all the set up in order to have an edgy opening and in the process shot their own story in the foot.

However, the isekai that has so far got me most interested in the anime is ‘Isekai Cheat Magician’ which again gave us a fairly generic set up kind of episode but managed to give off the comforting vibe of a story that knows what it is trying to be and is happy to deliver a reasonable job of it. As the added bonus here we have not one but two characters carried off to magic land however the rest plays out as expected with them getting into trouble almost immediately, getting rescued, joining up to be adventurers and then learning they both have crazy strong magic power.

So yes, the Summer 2019 anime season is shaping up to be an excellent one for those who enjoy fantasy. I haven’t tried everything and I know there’s still a handful of shows to start so I’d love to know what your favourite fantasy titles for the season are and which ones you think will end well.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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Why I’m Enjoying Senryuu Shoujo More Than Hitoribocchi This Spring Anime Season

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I don’t usually directly compare two anime, largely because each anime needs to be viewed on its own merit. Whether the story is similar or a character follows a comparable arc, if an anime is enjoyable in its own right, let it be enjoyable.

From that point of view, I’m not going to argue that Senryuu Shoujo is the better of the two anime I’m discussing today, simply that I’m enjoying it more. However, I’m certain there are other viewers out there who feel differently and I’d love to hear your take on either show in the comments below.

For those who haven’t followed either show this season here’s a brief break down. Senryuu Shoujo is listed on MAL as a Slice of Life/Comedy about a girl who doesn’t speak but communicates through poems and hangs out with another poetry lover, ex-delinquent Eiji as part of a club at school. It currently has a score of 7.34 and is a short anime format with each episode only lasting 12 minutes.

Hitoribocchi is also listed on MAL as a Slice of Life/Comedy and this time we’re following a very shy girl who has gone to a different school to her friend from middle school and now, for reasons, has to make friends with everyone in her new class. It currently has a score of 7.53 on MAL and each episode is a standard 23 minute length.

From the description you can tell that neither anime sits in my comfort zone of happiness. They aren’t the kind of thing that by nature I find entertaining. Yet each season I try a handful of comedy or slice of life anime and add a few to my watch list, because every now and then you end up with something like My Roommate is a Cat that just utterly charms me and I’d miss out entirely if I didn’t watch a lot of shows that are just fine for those who like the genre, but don’t do much for me.

Keep in mind that ‘March Comes in Like a Lion‘, an anime I regularly rave about, is in fact a Slice of Life. So while I don’t click with the genre as a whole, when it grabs my attention it really draws me right in.

That said, it should be fairly clear if you’ve been reading my episode reviews of either Senryuu Shoujo or Hitoribocchi that I’m not exactly loving either one. To be honest, both will be forgotten almost the minute the last episode airs with just enough lag time for me to write my whole season review. But, in the rank on MAL, number of viewers, and just the amount of blog coverage, it seems Hitoribocchi is the preferred show out of these two.

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There are two main reasons why I prefer Senryuu Shoujo.

The first comes down to the run time. With both anime being limited in scope and content and being reasonably formulaic in their approach of setting up the scenario or gag for the episode and then running with it, I find that Hitoribocchi stretches each moment that little bit too far. I’ve mentioned it before in an episode review and on Twitter, but if the episodes were half the length and more tightly paced, I’d enjoy the content a great deal more. Particularly as I find my tolerance for Bocchi waning the longer an episode runs, if it ended at the 12 minute mark I’d probably find her sympathetic and adorable whereas by the 23 minute mark I’m more annoyed at her.

Senryuu Shoujo with its 12 minute run time perfectly hits the mark. The episodes are bite sized. Not much happens but nothing overstays its welcome either. As a result, the episode always ends when I’m pleasantly in the groove of an episode and so leaves me wanting the next one. They say timing is everything in comedy and to be honest a lot of my preference on the two anime comes down to this factor.

Then we have our two female leads, Bocchi and Nanako.

In a recent review of one of the Hitoribocchi episodes, I was pretty scathing of Bocchi’s character. She whines and whimpers her way through almost every encounter. While her shyness and awkwardness began as relatable and a sympathetic character trait, as the series has progressed there’s just no other aspect to Bocchi. She has no hobbies or likes or dislikes. She has friends now, who she is grateful for, but has no trouble abandoning them in pursuit of making another friend. She’s also incredibly self-centred and rarely thinks about the feelings of others because she’s so wrapped up in her own anxious worrying about how people see her.

Now, if her character wasn’t being played for laughs in a school comedy, possibly I would be more sympathetic toward her. Given I was that incredibly shy person who struggled to speak in the company of strangers, who felt sick at the thought of having to speak in front of people, and most definitely avoided encounters that I was not comfortable with, I might have really connected with Bocchi’s character had they made the tone somewhat more serious. Instead though, I mostly see her start to tear up and feel she’s just a little bit pathetic rather than sympathetic and I’m finding it hard to really connect with Bocchi or any member of the cast.

That said, for viewers that do find Bocchi sympathetic, or just like her or the supporting cast, the viewing experience of Hitoribocchi will be considerably more entertaining.

Nanako from Senryuu Shoujo is a little less relatable but a lot more interesting as a lead. She doesn’t speak at all but expresses herself through facial expressions, body language, and through her poetry. While the gimmick is definitely gimmicky, and you do have to wonder sometimes where she pulls the board out from to write a poem, and how she wrote it that fast, she is by and large adorable. More than that, she’s positive about things and it pursuing a ‘romance’ with Eiji while enjoying her high school life.

I did like that when we met her parents and got a bit of backstory, it was pointed out that Nanako was in fact bullied for not speaking when she was younger. While I would actually like the anime to delve into the drama a bit more and look at why she doesn’t speak and how this actually impacts on the day to day when she isn’t with those who accept her weird quirk, I get this one is a light comedy and wasn’t planning on being a deep dive into dealing with difference. Still, Nanako is an intriguing character but one who brings cuteness and light into most scenes and her interactions with Eiji are off the charts adorable.

While it might seem like splitting hairs, the shorter run time plus the more compelling, or at least less annoying, female lead makes Senryuu Shoujo my preferred slice of life/comedy anime from the Spring anime season.

However, I get this is an entirely subjective opinion based on my own preferences and interpretations of the characters and story (as is pretty much everything on my blog so business as usual). Which is why I would love to hear from my readers whether they are preferring Senryuu Shoujo or Hitoribocchi this season. Or is there another slice of life/comedy anime that got your attention this season? Let me know in the comments below and we’re almost at the end of the Spring season so remember to go vote for your favourite show of the season in my poll here.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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Blogging Habits and Losing Momentum

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Earlier this week Irina posed an excellent question in her post when she asked whether blogging breaks work? It was an excellent post, in case you missed it, and one that got quite a few people talking. When Irina first brought this post to my attention, I absolutely loved it because it was something I’d wanted to write about but just hadn’t really figured out how and so I decided I’d write a follow up to Irina’s post.

The problem though is that I still don’t really know where I want to start with my thoughts on this one. Because I don’t know what the best options are I only know what my experiences are. In the end I decided that didn’t matter and I should share them anyway, but forgive me if this post seems a little more rambling than normal.

First of all, for those newer to my blog, I should probably point out that in three years of blogging I have only had one month where I did not post every day. From the very start of this blog until April of this year at least one post was published everyday, even when I was on holidays. I’d diligently prepare posts ahead of time, whether it was answers to a thirty day challenge or similar, to ensure content continued to exist on the blog.

However, that was my choice.

See, I’m very much a creature of habit and for me having things work relatively consistently is a very important part of my enjoyment of them.

My Roommate is a Cat Episode 10

At first I posted everyday to make blogging a part of my daily routine. And then, it was a part of my daily routine. It felt unnatural not to log into my blog in the morning before work or in the evening to check comments for the day. I may not have written posts everyday, doing the majority of my writing and drafting on weekends or on days when I watched a number of anime episodes, but I ensured I scheduled posts throughout the week and over time I found my balance at three posts per day.

That was what I found worked for me and as part of my routine and habit, maintaining that, mostly, is fine. There are some weeks when the day job is exhausting me or I have actual real world social engagements (they do happen), or over the last year my health has been a little less than stellar causing me to need a little more actual rest than normal and I find that routine a little tiring, but mostly I enjoy it and find it comforting.

Blogging has become my comfort food.

It is definitely part of what has helped me maintain my energy and focus as a blogger. It is just a part of my routine, a daily habit, like brushing my teeth or feeding the cat. It is something I miss when it isn’t there and fondly return to once I have access again.

I’m certainly not saying every blogger needs to blog everyday. Everyone has different circumstances and is blogging in their own way.

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But I do think, however much you blog, you need to make it a habit in order to maintain it. Whether you blog only on weekends, every second day, the third Tuesday of each month (that would be odd, but sure), making it a habit and part of your routine can make it significantly easier to handle.

Unless you are one of those people who find routines make things dull in which case stick with what works for you because the last thing you want to do is kill the fun of blogging. I couldn’t handle blogging without a routine. I certainly couldn’t have kept the blog going consistently for the last three years without it becoming an ingrained habit. But that is me.

Then we get to April of this year.

Yep, I went to Japan. It was a trip that came up relatively unexpectedly because the person I stayed with only had a few months notice and then I had a couple of months before I went to visit. That might sound like heaps of time (we are talking months) but for me an overseas trip is something that nearly a year’s worth of planning goes into.

Going to say though, an overseas trip definitely has to go under suitable reasons to take a blogging break. Get out and enjoy the country you are visiting.

I also didn’t know what anime, if any, I’d be able to access in Japan and it was the start of a new anime season so I didn’t even know which shows I’d pick up to watch.

Throw in some poor health in the months leading up to the trip and my work getting incredibly busy, and I had to make a few choices.

One of those was to not work to schedule posts for while I was away.

That was a really tough decision.

I agonised over whether it was the right decision. Just short of the third anniversary I was going to not post daily? It seemed like a crazy thought and yet less crazy than pushing myself to the limit writing fast and poorly thought out content just to claim I maintained a daily posting schedule.

That wasn’t what I wanted for my blog.

Still, I definitely worried whether I would lost momentum by not blogging consistently for nearly a month.

In terms of blog growth and views, I definitely did lose momentum. April was one of the poorest months ever for my blog and each week the views and visits shrank even though I did post a few updates from the trip.

Yes, April was pretty tragic all round.

Understandable if there isn’t new content going out and people are starting to review the new anime season. Why visit a blog with limited new content and not covering the new season?

The other loss of momentum I worried about was losing my habit of blogging. However, there were two things that I think made sure that didn’t happen.

The first is that I had a definite time period for which the posts were stopped. The time that I was in Japan and the time it took for me travel home. It was a clear and obvious end to the ‘break’.

The second thing that really helped was that I wasn’t taking a break because I disliked blogging or had lost my love for my blog. While I did enjoy having a small break, and will probably schedule at least one break each year from now on as it probably will help keep me going, by the time my plane landed back in Australia of all the things I was eager to get back to, my blog was fairly high on the list.

Run With The Wind Episode 12 Celebration
Seriously, I’d hug my blog if I could.

Interestingly enough, the first couple of days were a little challenging, and I’m certainly out of future drafts that I used to have saved up for weeks when I was busy, but my habit and routine came back swiftly and May was a fairly solid month for the blog.

I find it interesting though that we always talk about losing momentum or steam. We seldom discuss the opposite. Gaining momentum. Over three years of blogging I have noticed that views and growth tends to come in waves but each time in my blog they have gotten that little bit higher. Consistent posting and being present in the community has meant that slowly but surely growth has happened and momentum builds on itself.

My break in April taught me a lot of things. First, I don’t just write my blog because it is habit to do so. I made it a habit because I loved it and I wanted blogging to have a place in my life. Second, when you take a break from blogging, you certainly do lose momentum, however that isn’t an irreversible thing. Just as momentum can be lost, momentum can be built. And finally, if you are considering taking a blogging break, have a plan for when you return and returning will be significantly easier.

But as I said at the start, this is just my experience. It won’t be the same as other people and people take breaks for all sorts of reasons. Still, if you are looking to take a break, as Irina said in her post, maybe look at the reason why. Maybe changing something up would work better than a break. Or maybe you actually do need a break.

I’d love to know your thoughts about blogging habits, momentum, or taking breaks from the blog so leave us a comment below.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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Is The New Season of One Punch Man Disappointing?

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The Spring Anime season is upon us and over and over again I’ve been seeing blog posts discussing how this season is a slow season or a poor season in terms of anime. I don’t necessarily disagree but at the same time I’m actually having fun with the season even if a lot of what I’m watching is decidedly average. However, there’s one title in particular that I’ve seen being hammered because it is a ‘disappointment’ and it made me wonder whether or not One Punch Man Season 2 is actually disappointing?

Though, realistically, the answer is pretty evident. The vocal fans of the original season are disappointed. Whether the second season is objectively any worse than the first season is potentially something to be discussed, but the palpable feeling of being let down by a lacklustre second season is wide spread. Even the MAL score supports this with season one scoring 8.87 and season two coming it at 7.90 and likely to fall as more and more episodes come out and more people check out the second season.

As for my personal satisfaction levels, I’m enjoying season two of One Punch Man well enough. Then again, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original season. While I loved the music, found it on a first watch through amusing enough, and enjoyed some of the social observations it offered, there was little rewatch value and even by the end of season one it felt like the punch-line had worn a little thin.

Therefore, I wasn’t one of the fans hotly anticipating a season two. I was more the person who was wondering just why a second season was even needed.

The key to no disappointment is no expectations.

While that might seem like a simplistic view it really has had a strong impact on my viewing of One Punch Man so far this season.

However, taking my personal expectations out of the equation, what is better and what is worse about One Punch Man season two? Or what are people saying is better or worse and are the criticisms warranted?

Right from the news that One Punch Man was changing studios, from Madhouse to J.C. Staff there was criticism and concern. Admittedly, an anime changing studios isn’t the end of the world but the two studios are known for such vastly different types of stories that it seemed like an odd fit and the question of whether J.C. Staff could deliver what fans were demanding was opened before the first trailer even dropped.

When you couple that trepidation with promotional videos that do nothing to address the concerns, showing neither the bombastic animation or musical score that characterised the first season, and providing little else in place of it, the concerns and outright derision for an anime that hadn’t even aired yet got a lot louder.

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Throw in an OP that in no way lives up to the original and you have a recipe for disaster before a single minute of actual episode has even played. It is probably telling that actually finding a YouTube version of the new opening is actually kind of hard and then I realised I didn’t want to listen to it anyway. The OP of season 1 however is perfect in every way. From the dramatic visual of Saitama punching the screen to that initial “One Punch!”, it hits the perfect note for hyping you up for the series and the show you are about to watch. The new OP lacks impact in more or less every way. Whether it is visuals or sound it is a poor second at best and for an anime that is largely loved for those elements not spending the time to get them right is certainly a clear way to upset the fan-base.

Then we have the anime itself. Still just focusing on the visuals, we get tweets such as this one that remind us clearly how much better the animation was in season 1.

For a sensationalistic anime that built itself on its aesthetics, those explosive scenes where the sakuga took over and nearly took on a life of their own were key and 8 episodes in to season 2 we’ve nothing that even comes close.

Is the animation in One Punch Man season 2 bad?

No. It is perfectly adequate. And adequate would be fine if we’d never seen season one. Alas, this isn’t a matter of comparing apples and oranges. We aren’t comparing the biggest work of the season to some small project. We’re comparing the first part of the story with the second and the second has been found wanting.

And let’s not even discuss the actual soundtrack within the episodes. See, watching the scene in that tweet, outside of how good it looks is how well the sound contributes to the impact of the scene. This aspect has largely been ignored by season two and while again the sound direction is adequate it also isn’t in any way memorable or noteworthy.

In fact, the only element I’d possibly argue that One Punch Man Season Two is maybe at least on par with season one is the narrative itself and the occasional moments of comedy.

Now, if you read my blog regularly you already know I’m not a big fan of comedy, but I liked the sense of humour in One Punch Man. The repetition of the same central joke got a little tiring but Saitama’s laconic nature and blunt replies as well as the gap between his superhero prowess and his lifestyle was amusing.

Season two actually continues the humour pretty well and I really liked the introduction of King and listening to Metal Bat plan to kill the next person who returned a sushi plate to the train was pretty funny. And Saitama’s entry into the martial arts tournament has had plenty of comedic moments thrown in.

Additionally, the story feels like it has more direction this season with a building threat rather than just seeing Saitama go about his daily business before a large threat comes to the city seemingly out of nowhere.

Is a slightly more plot driven season enough to overcome the disappointments that season two has brought?

Most viewers would apparently say no if the online chatter is to be believed. It isn’t as though they were watching One Punch Man for the plot.

However, I’ll throw this one over to the readers and ask you: “Has season two of One Punch Man been disappointing?”

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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What Demon Slayer Has Been Getting Right, and What It Has Gotten Wrong

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I’ve had a bit of a rocky history with typical shounen anime. While I am most definitely a fan of Bleach, and Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood worked a treat, most of the other big names never struck a chord with me and a lot of the standard protagonists make me wince (or in the case of Asta from Black Clover they make me hurriedly reach for the mute button before finally walking away). In that sense, it is no wonder that I originally approached Demon Slayer or Kimetsu no Yaiba with a little bit of wariness.

Seven episodes in to the anime, even if my review of episode 7 has yet to be published, and I’m really happy with my choice to watch it. That doesn’t mean the story won’t go off the rails, become bogged down in side-missions or character developments that make no sense, or generally leave me wanting to walk away further down the track. Nor does it mean that Demon Slayer has nailed every aspect of its story and characters. To be honest, there’s plenty that’s pretty easy to criticise without getting into the nitty-gritty.

However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Demon Slayer has been a lot of fun to watch.

So before the story decides to tie itself in convoluted knots or the protagonist decides to become so overpowered that the story lacks any tension, or so whiny that I can’t handle them anymore, I decided to look at these first seven episodes a little more closely and really think about what Demon Slayer has gotten right. Largely because I am really enjoying watching it. But likewise I want to think about those aspects of the story and characters that are less admirable because for some this anime is another swing and a miss and there’s reasons why it won’t work for everyone.

That said, clearly there are spoilers for the first seven episodes here if you haven’t watched them. However as I have no knowledge of this series outside of the anime, please refrain from throwing any thing that hasn’t been revealed in the anime into the comments.

Starting with the pacing of the anime, viewers will immediately divide on whether or not Demon Slayer has good pacing. I’ll be clear, I love it. In seven episodes we’ve had the angsty back-story and the initial crisis that has spurred our hero into action, gained a mentor, completed a gruelling training sequence, taken on a test, achieved the goal of becoming an actual demon slayer and completed the first mission as a demon slayer. Plus, we’ve already met a character who has kind of been set-up as the ‘big bad’ or potential nemesis, though perhaps this is just a red-herring (though given the artwork for this series I kind of doubt it).

Demon Slayer - Kimetsu no Yaiba - artwork
Yeah, we’ve got the dark and creepy figure looming behind the heroes – seems like he’d be the villain.

That’s a huge amount of ground to cover and if we compared this to Bleach it is incredibly fast paced. I mean, the ‘big bad’ wasn’t even in our field of view until season two in Bleach and the reveal didn’t come until near the end of season three and the whole getting a mentor and training took a long, long time. Full Metal Alchemist wasn’t as drawn out but even there it didn’t cover this much ground so quickly.

Now, if we were just being catapulted forward without any way of orientating ourselves or without any kind of decent character work in a rush to cover plot this pace would be a huge negative. But, this is where being reasonably generic and treading a well known path helps. The plot isn’t confusing or baffling in any way. We know this story. Everyone knows this story. These opening events have been presented to us in a thousand different ways right from the earliest of children’s stories. The audience can follow this, even at this pace, and it means long exposition isn’t needed as we move through each sequence because we mostly have known what the next step is going to be.

In amongst the events Demon Slayer has sprinkled sufficient character development for Tanjiro, our protagonist. He isn’t growing in leaps and bounds, but we’ve learned of his quiet determination, his compassion, and resolve. We see his love for his sister, his desire to get stronger, and the weird quirk with his sense of smell which I’ll get back to soon.

Outside of Tanjiro and his sister Nezuko, very few characters have gained any real screen time or exploration, but that’s fine. We’re setting up this hero and this pair right now and with events driving forward as they are I’m not sure I wanted to spend ten episodes getting to know the wizened mentor for him to simply see them on their way again. The time he got was enough to set up his relationship with the pair.

So for me the pacing has been spot on. It is moving quickly enough that I’m not even slightly bored or wanting things to move along. I don’t feel like any fight or conversation has lingered too long. The few points I’d like to know more about I’m confident enough will eventually get their time so for now I’m happy to wait. I really feel this story has found the right speed for what it has tried to accomplish.

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That does bring me to the next point though and that is Tanjiro as the protagonist. Honestly, while we’ve learned enough about him that he serves the plot well enough, to call him a strong protagonist would be a lie. He’s largely being swept along by one event to the next and while he is determined to achieve his goals it doesn’t really feel like he’s driving this story.

When his family are killed he coincidentally runs into a demon slayer who sends him to a mentor. The mentor trains him but sets him an impossible task to avoid him taking the final test. The test has him encounter a demon that knows his mentor who targets him. The demon slayers send him on the mission that has him encounter a demon before sending him to the city where we end episode 7. While at no point does Tanjiro give up or surrender, other than the decision to hunt demons the vast majority of events have kind of happened to him and he’s had to react or deal.

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 1

He also doesn’t have a particularly strong presence. I’ll admit, his compassion toward others, including demons, is probably a defining trait of his and one I quite appreciate in this kind of story, but outside of that I’d be reaching to really note any other traits. He’s protective of family and a hard worker but really we know little of Tanjiro as a person and only real know Tanjiro the guy the plot keeps pushing around. While there’s plenty of time to develop him, when you think about Ichigo, Edward, Gon, or so many other shounen protagonists they have so much more presence and features that really stand out.

Tanjiro has a sense of smell.

You know this because we’ve been told, again and again and the plot has found various ways, some more contrived than others, to bring Tanjiro’s sense of smell into relevance. I’ll admit, his use of it while fighting the demon in episode 6 was quite effective and visually kind of awesome, but at other times, like when choosing the ore, you just have to wonder what the point was and whether there’s something missing from the anime or whether they intend to fill in the details later.

That and his smelling the winning blow in a fight is just plain ridiculous no matter how you want to slice it.

But while we’re looking at things the anime is telling rather than showing, or shoving into the story rather than letting naturally develop, the introduction of Muzan Kibutsuji needs to be mentioned as a counter point.

Muzan Kibutsuji - Demon Slayer

There are very few anime that could claim such a solid introduction to a character and regardless of what mis-steps the anime has made and may make, episode 7’s end has bought Demon Slayer a lot of goodwill from me.

First we were given a name by the mentor. A name of a demon that can make other demons that Tanjiro will clearly have to eventually track down and deal with in his quest to save his sister. It is a little trite and fairly standard for this sort of story and yet it sets the scene for what happens next.

Tanjiro fights his first demon as a demon slayer and instead of delivering the killing blow interrogates him about the location of the demon Muzan Kibutsuji.

The demon responds by refusing to speak and completely freaking out before blindly attack Tanjiro and getting cut down. The demon knew it would be killed at that moment but it gave the audience the impression that being sliced and killed by a demon slayer was preferable to what Muzan Kibutsuji would do if the demon betrayed him. That’s a powerful first impression and it is the first thing that audience really know of this demon outside of his name. It is simple and yet very affective.

Buffy - I'm the thing that monsters have nightmares about.

What surprised me was that Tanjiro then ran into said demon on his next mission. Despite the fast pace of events I honestly didn’t expect it so soon but it was a really brilliant introduction.

Everything about Muzan Kibutsuji is menacing and off-putting, including the presence of a human daughter and wife (maybe).

With only one line Muzan sends chills down our spines, and it isn’t even a threat, yet.

With a simple action Muzan proves exactly what he is capable of doing and leaves Tanjiro mostly open mouthed in shock and frozen as he does not know how to respond to the developing situation.

In this sense, Tanjiro really reflects the audience as this came so quick and hit so hard we’ve hardly had time to get our feet underneath us.

Sure, things may go south from here, but watching episode 7 was a delight. The standard demon fight conclusion that began it was entertaining, even if there are some questionable choices about Tanjiro entering the swamp going on. The progress from the end of that fight to the end of the episode was spot on and really made me sit up and pay attention.

Demon Slayer isn’t perfect. Not by a long shot. But it is getting a lot right and at the very least it is finding a way to enter an already crowded field and make its presence felt. Whether it ends up staying the distance and leaving a lasting impression will remain to be seen but this opening salvo is nothing to sneeze at.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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3 Reasons Why Flashbacks Aren’t Always The Best Narrative Device

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For anyone who has started Fairy Gone this season it should have immediately become apparent that in addition to the visual problems with the anime the narrative itself relies heavily on flashbacks and exposition to fill the audience in on information. While neither flashbacks nor exposition are actually inherently bad, in point of fact they can both be used incredibly effectively, the way they’ve been employed in Fairy Gone is fairly maddening.

At some point I’ll have to look at exposition and anime that use it well and anime that just beats its audience over the head with the exposition driving dialogue and literally nothing else happening, but for now I just want to look at flashbacks and how these have been used poorly so far in Fairy Gone.

The first real problem the audience will encounter with Fairy Gone is that each of the first few episodes begins with a sequence that is actually a flashback, usually to the war where the Fairy Soldiers were originally created to fight in. That’s fine and all as many a story begins with a flashback sequence to an important time prior to the events of the story proper and over time the significance of the scenes becomes clear. I’d liken Fairy Gone’s attempt with the style used for the Dark Angel TV series where most episodes begin with a flashback of Max back at Manticore, the institute where she was raised as a soldier.

Now I actually really like Dark Angel and how Max’s childhood permeates each episode through flashbacks, particularly when she’s having an episode and weak or when she encounters someone who is connected to her past. However there are are a couple of things Dark Angel does differently that actually makes those flashbacks enjoyable and relevant.

Mainly, the longer flashbacks are narrated by Max herself. We aren’t just seeing the kids running around doing stuff, but are given her thoughts about what had happened. This isn’t usually a long monologue worth of narration though. It is usually just a few lines leading into the sequence or a couple of lines at the end that link us back to the present and why she’s thinking about it at all. It’s amazing how some simple framing can make the flashbacks feel so much more purposeful and immediately relevant.

Fairy Gone doesn’t do this. We get some text telling us what year we’re in and usually the name of the city where the characters are. Also character names seem to appear sometimes but they aren’t always characters we know. The sequence of events plays out and while there are bits and pieces that by the fourth episode seem to be relevant, at the time you are mostly watching characters you don’t know participate in events long past and given little to no reason to care about it. The transition from flashback to present day is indistinct, again save some text, and there’s usually no immediate link between what we saw in the flashback and what follows after, other than the tenuous one of these characters previously knew each other in some cases.

Speaking of transitions, this is another case where Dark Angel did it better. In order to always know whether we are in the past or present, without having to wave text around the screen, the flashback scenes are leeched of colour and the sound is slightly muted or echoes as if hearing it from a distance. That means when we come out of the flashback the world resumes its normal tone and sound and there’s an instant awareness of when and where we are in the story.

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The second problem I’m really finding with the flashbacks is I’m not sure that they’ve added anything of note. I mean, we know Marlya and Veronica belonged to a village that got destroyed and the two of them escaped before getting separated, but did we need the whole flashback sequence to establish something that we could have learned a myriad of other ways? Now, this could have been a really interesting flashback providing insight into Marlya’s motives or feelings or it could have just been a really exhilarating or exciting set-piece but due to the lacklustre and pedestrian way it was delivered there’s little to no reason to really care about the sequence at all, and yet they’ve shown it more than once.

Fairy Gone Episode 3

Free’s backstory is equally frustrating as it has established a relationship between himself and Wolfran and their involvement in the war, but these are things we could have just as easily have picked up by staying in the present and through comments made between characters. Seeing it could have been interesting if the sequence had built any emotional investment or given us more insight into the relationship but it really didn’t.

Again, bringing it back to Dark Angel, the flashbacks there are at times repetitive but they do so to emphasise and reinforce particular points. Each one fills in a piece of Max’s past and provides understanding of her volatile nature and her complex relationships with Zac and Lydecker. While they possibly could have achieved the same effect with a few less repetitions, for the most part each flashback felt meaningful in terms of providing context for a very complex character.

But that does bring us to the third problem Fairy Gone is having with its flashbacks, which is how much time they eat out of episodes that already feel like they aren’t getting very far with the story. I’m actually kind of interested in the premise Fairy Gone has laid out and I’m slowly warming up to the characters, but I feel I’d be more attached to the whole story at this point if it spent less time wasting time in the past without seeming to really value add and more time actually developing the characters as they are and their current relationships with one another.

Now, there are plenty of anime that use flashbacks. Some at the beginning of a series to establish setting and some throughout the series to develop a particular character’s backstory or to establish a new setting or idea. There are many anime that manage to do it very well.

For example, Fruits Basket uses fairly continuous flashbacks of Kyoko, Honda Tohru’s mother, and the advice she gave Tohru as well as the love between mother and daughter and this is used really well. It often gives Tohru’s advice and ideas context as to why she feels the way she does or feels compelled to act and it establishes key themes that are being considered within the episode in question. These flashbacks are heartwarming and flesh Tohru out as a character who has pre-existing relationships that changed her, even if her mother is now dead.

On the other hand, we have something like Juni Taisen that essentially filled each episode with flashbacks of a single character, building them up, just to knock them off at the end of that episode. By the third time that happened the writing was on the wall for the series as a whole but I’ll give them credit for consistency at least even if it didn’t end up being all that entertaining.

Somewhere in the middle of those we have something like Attack on Titan where some flashbacks are used beautifully at just the right moment to fill in key details or character points and at other times just feel like filler to delay moving the plot forward.

The main point being that flashbacks aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Like all narrative devices it really depends on how they are executed and for what purpose as to whether or not that will work within their story. So far, Fairy Gone hasn’t demonstrated a great grip on how to actually use flashbacks effectively but Fairy Gone isn’t bad because of an excessive use of flashbacks. It is more that it hasn’t used these in an interesting manner or to drive either the story or characters forward.

But that’s enough from me. What do you think about flashbacks in anime? What are some of your favourite anime that use flashbacks well? And what are some anime where the flashbacks just make you wince and wish they would be done already?

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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May 2019 OWLS Post – Finding Happiness In and Out of Your Comfort Zone

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Hi everyone. Sorry it has been a couple of months since I’ve had a go at an OWLS post but I decided to definitely get back to it in May and then, once I saw the prompt for May I knew I had to write something for this one. Let’s get into it.

Happiness is subjective. We all have different definitions of what happiness means to us and we also feel happiness in varying degrees. This month we will be exploring several questions describing our happiness in our fandoms, communities, and hobbies. Why do we find enjoyment watching anime or reading manga? Why did we decide to join the anime or pop culture communities?  Why do we blog about our hobbies or cosplay as our favorite characters? This topic is all about the passions we have for our interests and why they are important to us.

OWLS Theme for May

Finding Happiness In And Out Of Your Comfort Zone

When I read this prompt the first thing I was reminded of was Prince from Run With The Wind and while I’ll get to my own experiences in a little bit, I’d like to examine his character first the journey he went on throughout the series.

Run With The Wind Episode 7 Prince

Prince has a clear comfort zone at the beginning of the series. His room in the apartment is floor to ceiling stacked with his manga and he is most comfortable when his nose is stuck inside one of those volumes absorbing the story and the characters within it. While superficially this might seem like a story about getting the loner out of his room and exercising, what we see instead is Prince connecting the new experiences he has with his experiences within stories and blending the two in a way that few anime or stories dare.

Run With The Wind Episode 14 Prince

Ultimately, his passion for manga is still burning fiercely at the end of the series. He hasn’t moved on from it, grown up, found a new love that surpasses the old. While the manga is visually less prevalent in later episodes, in case there was any doubt that the message here was about embracing multiple experiences, Prince’s passionate speech to Haiji about the great characters who could inspire him makes it clear that Prince’s head is firmly still with his beloved manga and the characters he has formed attachments to.

Run With The Wind Episode 19 - Prince

Equally though, he tells Haiji at the end that he’s had fun with running the race and its truly the first time Prince acknowledges what the audience has seen in the second half of the series, Prince has embraced the team and the new hobby without compromising on his first love.

Run With The Wind Episode 23 - Prince

I bring up Prince because he’s a truly wonderful example that it doesn’t need to be all or nothing. I am an anime fan and also a fan of gaming, a fairly new fan of light novels, a much older fan of novels and movies, but I also enjoy hiking, travel, and anything that involves eating chocolate. As such, I don’t define myself solely through one fandom or another and nor do I allow one fandom to prevent me pursuing new avenues should something take my fancy.

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One of the many things I love about anime is that it is squarely in my comfort zone. It is largely an individual hobby, though there is a thriving online community I can interact with, largely activities involve being indoors, and anime, despite having some interesting variations and themes, essentially follows the same basic rules and structures of narratives that I love from movies, books and other TV shows. Slipping into the anime fandom was easy, getting hooked even easier, and staying within the fandom is very comfortable.

There’s a genuine happiness that comes from finding a new anime and falling in love with it, watching a terrible anime and pulling it apart, watching an anime with a friend and cringing when you realise that they are about to do something that as an anime fan you are very used to but you are about to get asked to explain by someone less familiar with it. There’s happiness to be found when you finish an anime, whether it was better or worse than you expected and there’s true joy in the anticipation of a new season even if it doesn’t end up panning out. Then there’s the happiness of connecting with others who equally love what you love, collecting figures, books or other merchandise of characters you’ve truly come to care for, and ultimately owning the shiny DVD’s of a series that you will binge again and again.

However, anime also takes me out of my comfort zone in ways I’ve learned to love and appreciate.

Five years ago I would have said I was never going to watch harem based shows. Now I routinely have these in my list of anime watched for the year, though more reverse harems.

Three years ago I would have said I wouldn’t watch sports based shows. Now I’ve got quite the catalogue of sports anime that I’ve finished and I’ve had in depth conversations with a friend who coaches volleyball around a game we were watching because having watched Haikyu I actually know what is going on now other than the ball goes over the net.

There are so many anime in so many different genres that I never thought I would try that I’m now loving each and every season.

Two years ago I started reading light novels and some manga. I’ve since had to once again reorganise my shelves in order to find space for the next volumes of Is It Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash and of course Natsume’s Book of Friends. The collections are growing as quickly as I can buy them and yet my shelf space is limited and I already have quite the library of novels that I’ve been accumulating since I was a pre-teen.

I don’t actually dislike e-books, but there’s something truly magical about opening a new volume and the feel and smell of the paper.

In the last couple of years I’ve been to two conventions (which given where I live is quite the venture) and spent the weekend surrounded by hundreds of people. For me that is an intense and overwhelming experience and yet because everyone there was embracing the fandoms and a love of the same kinds of movies and anime that I love both were incredibly rewarding experiences.

Even on this last trip to Japan I made a note of a few things I particularly wanted to find and managed to even ask at shops for certain items or shows to see what they had in relation to them, though my tongue tried to glue itself to the roof of my mouth before hand as I freaked out about whether I’d be understood or not.

All of these things bring me happiness even as they push me further beyond what I thought was my comfort zone and I try things I may never have given a chance and interact with people I might never have had any reason to speak with, because of the happiness and joy I’ve found in anime.

here’s no one reason why I love anime, but because of my love of anime, my life is filled almost daily with small pieces of happiness. For as long as I keep finding those moments of happiness I will continue to love anime. How about you?Be sure to catch Jack’s post on the Aniwriter and next up in the tour is Naja on the 13th.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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100 Word Anime:


Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com