Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Series Review: Why Details Are Important

Overview:

Some group want to change history and the characters we follow want to stop them. And the characters we follow happen to be the spirit of swords brought to life by a sage from the future who can sense time distortions.

Review:

I kind of covered a lot of my issues with this show in my feature a few weeks ago where I asked what went wrong with Katsugeki Touken Ranbu?

I stand by that question now that the series has ended. Because, it seems like this show has what it needs to be truly great and yet what we have instead is a shallow dive into a story the audience never actually gets to experience and characters who really don’t progress beyond a name, a fighting style, and a single note personality. It is telling that after 13 episodes of this I’m still not actually sure of all the character names and had to resort to looking them up and even then when looking at a character list it took me a moment to remember what some of the characters had even done in the show.

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Part of this is definitely because this is a game adaptation and there is certainly some expectation from the anime that viewers are at least passingly familiar with these characters already. But I haven’t played the game and even if I had, source material does not excuse sloppy characterisation (or none as the case may be) in the anime. The same might be true for the lack of plot development but again, even if the answers can be found elsewhere, that doesn’t make watching the anime any better.

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Basically what is lacking from this anime are the details. We don’t know anything about any of the characters other than these two (Horikawa and Kanesada) used to work together serving the same master who died. That’s the one character plot that is developed and kind of resolved by the last episode. Still, given neither one of those characters has any personality beyond loyal to their master and mopey as they question their purpose, it isn’t exactly a draw to the show nor when we finally get the end of this sub-plot does it provide satisfaction. The heroes of this story are trying to stop events from changing so it is more or less obvious what the end of this story will be.

The other characters we get the names of and occasional references to their former lives and masters, but none of this information goes anywhere or leads to anything. It barely connects to the overall plot with the exception Mutsunokami when we meet his former master. And what is the overall plot?

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Well, just in case we forget the swords mention it every other breath. They are going to protect history. They’ll stop history from changing. Why history is being targeted and by whom is something apparently the audience doesn’t need to know. I mean, yes, we are told the Time Retrograde Army are responsible, but who are they? No names, no discernible characters, no motive other than change history. No idea how many there are so basically they just spawn as many as they want in each occasion going so ridiculous as to have 1000 of them show up in the final episode only to do nothing but charge blindly forward and be mowed down by a significantly smaller force that previously struggled with groups of 10 or 20. Minor plot issue but whatever.

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It seems like this anime wanted to focus on Horikawa but didn’t want to leave out the other characters. So instead of getting a focused story revolving around Horikawa growing into his role in the second unit we kind of flit all over the place as we introduce a late addition to the second unit, then the entire first unit, and the we’ll finally get back to Horikawa but by that stage we haven’t really grown attached to him because he practically disappeared mid-season.

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However, this anime looks amazing and the sound is pretty impressive. Even when there is no tension to be found in a battle, if you close your eyes and just listen, it sounds super dramatic. But even mundane sounds like the leaves, the characters walking, gusts of wind, it all just very impressively done. If only even some of that attention to detail had gone into characters or plot (and I don’t mean the overdone character designs, I mean their personalities).

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While this show isn’t by any means unwatchable, there’s just not a lot of point. You won’t learn anything about the overall conflict or what the end game for either side might be. You won’t learn all that much about the characters and what you do learn could have been covered in about two episodes. Visually impressive fight sequences aside, there’s just not enough reason to bother with this show.

If you watched Katsugeki Touken Ranbu, I’d love to know your thoughts so please leave a comment below.


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Chronos Ruler Episode 13: At Last The End

Review:

As the final episode comes around I wonder if this show has accomplished anything? Victo/Victor (subtitles changed mid-series) still hasn’t got his time back and in point of fact now knows it should be impossible to ever do so and yet apparently feels it could still happen. Kiri is still trailing after his useless amnesiac of a father and enduring the absurdity of being put down for not being able to eat pasta through his nose. The only real change is they now have Mina and Blaze also tagging along, whenever the writers remember they should be relevant.

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This wasn’t a satisfying final fight. Last week the horologue revealed his true form and this week unleashed a barrage of attacks that really should have just annihilated the team. However, Victo then decides he can work with the others and trust them in order to achieve victory and for some reason this also means he doesn’t die when he very clearly should have.

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Honestly, this was no worse than any other episode in this show but all and all the writing and characters have been terrible and literally the only reason I’ve stuck with it was I was kind of interested in the time manipulation element. Too bad they never did anything with that. Will write a final review soon.


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Knight’s & Magic Episode 13: Some People Are Just Sore Losers

Review:

Well, this ended pretty much the way everyone predicted and managed to be pretty pointless right to the end. Ernesti fights the drake and shows off a few new tricks (though I’m not certain splattering it with oil and setting it on fire counts as a new trick).

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We then get the engineer from the otherside (name has totally escaped me at this point) and Ernesti having an argument which may have only been occurring in their heads or may have been broadcast, I don’t know as it was unclear, about the aesthetics of robot design. Because that’s super important in a life or death battle.

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All of this is interspersed with the side characters storming the fortress below and one final fight with the sword mecha which ends as expected before the captain of the drake decides to ram the Princess. This is where my mild irritation with the generally stupid writing decisions in this show blew up into full of rage as the Princess stubbornly insisted she wouldn’t move because she believed that she would be protected. Lady, there’s a giant robot dragon falling out of the sky about to land on you. Would it kill you to take three steps to the right? No, instead Kid has to have a moment to jump from one airship to the drake to fight the captain and then jump out of his mecha and into Ernesti’s hand because I guess Kid hadn’t done anything useful in a few episodes because wasn’t his mecha powering the airship? Oh yeah, his mecha was powering the airship. His and Ady. So why is it still flying given he’s just abandoned ship? So frustrating.

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Anyway the war wraps up, we get some more Kid and Princess stuff before they all head home. But this is my favourite part of the episode. The Smiths that actually build the machines that have made everything possible finally get official recognition for their effort. Then Ernesti begins plotting his next steps and we end the show. Of course nothing is resolved because opposing designer guy survived and is looking for a new hire, the King or whatever of the country that started the war hasn’t been defeated, the sword guy is still alive and heading home, and there’s new tech coming out everywhere changing political and economic landscapes, but sure, let’s just end the story here. Why not at this point?

I’m kind of looking forward to a full series review of this show. I think it is going to be fun to write.


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Chronos Ruler Episode 12: Obvious Symoblism Before A Final Form Reveal

Review:

Chronos Ruler hasn’t exactly been great. In fact, the writing and characters have been pretty terrible and these final episodes are certainly cementing that point. Episode 11 was basically a series of extended mini-fights with the side characters before we got back to the main boss and episode 12 pretty much screams boss fight from start to finish with a minor character moment mid-episode just in case they haven’t convinced us yet that Victo (Victor) is actually a really great guy (something they decided in the second half of the season because in the first half he was scum).

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But hey, chain symbolism. Haven’t seen that in… Never mind.

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If that wasn’t bad enough, we then get all the good guys together and they start overwhelming the bad guy. Who of course then does a final form reveal right before we cut to the end credits. Why don’t villains ever use their ‘true’ form from the start of a fight? It would save us a lot of time.


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Tokyo Majin Season 1 Series Review: It’s Like Someone Gave the Scooby Gang Super Powers But Forgot About Fun

Overview:

During senior year an apparently mysterious new student transfers in to some academy. And then a groups of kids get superpowers. Seriously, that’s all I got out of this though I guess there was some destiny/fate thing going on as well if I’d been able to pay more attention toward the end.

Review:

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet because to be honest, by about episode 8 the only thing keeping me watching was that I refuse to review a series I don’t finish, and having sat through eight episodes of this train wreck, I very much wanted to have something to show for it. Pretty much, avoid. Sure there are zombies, demons, cackling villains, superpowered teens, and a mish mash of religious and spiritual references tossed about in a way that should actually appeal to me on every level, and yet this is a horrendous chore to watch.

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Starting with the characters, the group of five from the school have zero chemistry. Admittedly, at the start they aren’t a group and the new kid and the bad boy aren’t too bad together, and the other three aren’t so bad as a group, it is just when they put all five together or start trying to do intersecting relationships the whole thing falls flat fast. In some fight sequences I’m sure the writers even forgot certain characters were in particular scenes because they would literally just stand and do nothing (not even call encouragement) until there was no one else left standing and then maybe they’d get involved.

The bad boy is the bad boy because he speaks frankly to his teacher, walks out of class (like straight out the window), and gets into fights on school grounds because why not. This is really incredibly lazy characterisation and we have the same issues with each of the other characters. New kid has no personality. Zip. Unless he’s standing with someone, you could almost just pretend he wasn’t in the scene. Which given he’s apparently important you might want to give him some personality trait. The good girl is only seen as such because everyone else refers to her that way. We seldom see her do anything that would actually make us think she’s a goody two-shoes. The other two characters have their school club related personality traits and their friendship/attraction to the other one or the good girl and basically that’s their entire personality. There’s almost no growth for these characters in the early episodes and by the time you see some positive changes, it is a little bit too late to make you care.

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The story is a mess that heavily relies on throw a random monster/villain into the city and go crazy for a bit. Have the teens sniff out the issue. Some sort of fight sequence where they are royally smacked down. Go regroup and have a pep-talk training session. Give up with the planning and have someone in the group go off to face whatever it is. Everyone else will then decide they have to go too. Some other fight sequence where they may or may not actually win. Occasionally remember that there actually has been some severe collateral damage (read many many victims in the city). Honestly, there is no way anyone still lives in that town after all those incidents. They packed up and moved on.

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Then we have our cackling villains and occasional other superpowered individual. They delightfully add nothing to the story of note except an occasional fight or bit of less than witty banter. Possibly these characters could have been more interesting, but they receive about as much attention as the main cast do, which is very little.

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There’s apparently another season of this. I won’t be starting it. I’d love to know your thoughts on this series if you’ve watched it. Maybe someone has a better opinion of it?


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Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Episode 13: History Was Saved, Though Why That Matters Is Still a Mystery

Review:

And they met with their old master, defeated the thousand enemies, watched their master die, and then they went on a next mission. The End.

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Alright, that probably isn’t fair to the show. They actually did manage to make the two swords reuniting with their master fairly emotive in the end, which was a fair effort given how little I care about these characters.

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And they also managed to make the final battle truly beautiful, though this show has always been pretty and the fight sequences have been its strength all along. What bothers me is that suddenly the master can use all his strength to send all the swords to the same time period. Really? Just having him collapse doesn’t change the fact that this breaks a pre-established rule and kind of a point of tension in that only so many of them could be sent. More importantly, enemies that used to be good for extended fight sequences are now cut through like they are made of butter. For all the spectacle, there is no tension in this sequence.

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But the story has ended and everyone is back together and continuing on to protect history from… I still don’t even know. This show has never once cared to explain the motive of the enemy so I really don’t see why I should care.

A disappointing ending to an anime that never managed a story half as good as its visuals. I’ll get around to reviewing this later but I’m just going to point out that telling me the movie version is coming at the end of this episode is counter productive. After sitting through this series the last thing I want is more of this story.


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Knight’s & Magic Episode 12: Are We Sure Ernesti Isn’t a Villain?

Review:

I had a lot of time for thinking while watching this episode, mostly because other than super dramatic music and various bits of magic zipping across the screen not a lot was going on in the first half. The fights may look visually impressive for the first two or so passes, but as Ernesti circles the ‘Drake’ and we get the same animation of its lightning defense etc, it all just starts looking a bit samey and I kind of tuned out what was going on until Ernesti hit the ground. Points for the ‘villains’ for finally knocking him out of the sky.

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What I started thinking about was Ernesti’s character and how he pretty much exhibits every characteristic you would expect of a B Grade villain. He chuckles gleefully when he destroys his enemy or creates a new machine designed to kill. He has no qualms about stealing his comrades machines if it is convenient to him. He has no loyalty to the actual rulers of his country and really would sell his loyalty to whoever would give him the access he wants to innovate with his robots, and don’t threaten the future of that robot design or he’ll take it very personally.

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That made it much harder for me to actually care about the villains and their actions given I don’t know enough about them to care personally, and their actual fighting style has been practical and not as underhanded as Ernesti’s.

Anyway, there’s one more episode of this and it is another show I’ll be glad to see off my watch list. The narrator of this show is getting my vote for most annoying character of the season.


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Kenka Banchou Otome Series Review: Just Your Typical Girl Meets Boy, Trades Places With Him, and Aims to Rule the School Kind of Story

Overview:

Apparently based on a game, this story has a heroine who is either unnamed or who has a name I can’t remember run into her twin brother who pretty much coerces her to take on his identity and attend an all boy’s school. There she’s forced to fight to prove she can be the top of the school. And other than some stuff about the power of friendship that’s about it.

Review:

There’s nothing overly wrong with Kenka Banchou Otome given the short anime format being used and the premise. Plus, the whole based on a game thing is painfully obvious. That said, there’s not a lot overly praiseworthy about the show either.

The heroine, who I am going to refer to as Hikaru because that’s the name she uses most of this series, has the same problem a lot of male harem protagonists have. Other than being good at pretty much everything she has practically zero personality. Maybe mopey. She does mope well. For a show where episodes barely crack the one minute mark with their closing credits, I get we aren’t going to develop an entire cast of well rounded individuals, and to be honest they do a decent enough job of most characters given the time they have. The characters all run pretty cliché but they feel distinct enough in the moment so they work.

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The fight sequences are necessarily short given again the episode lengths. A few punches, a kick or two, some still images of other dramatic poses and facial expressions, and then we’re pretty much down to the huffing and puffing aftermath and someone conceding defeat. To be honest, for a show about fight your way to the top of a school, there are surprisingly few fights. They manage to make this make sense given the reputations of most of the characters that few people want to pick a fight and just accept that they would lose, but it still seems like there’s be at least one random attack of opportunity around the school at some point.

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One thing I didn’t like was the diary style entries that cut into the episodes. We’d be watching a sequence and then one of the characters would be narrating their thoughts and we’d see them in some other random setting apparently thinking back on that time. Its the kind of conceit that works in a story when the characters have some actual depth and there might actually be something to reveal from their inner thoughts and reflections but to be honest it is just a distraction and it eats up episode time this show didn’t have to spare. It adds nothing to the characters or the narrative at all.

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Otherwise the music is relatively good and the story makes enough sense. And that’s literally all I have to say about this because there really isn’t a lot happening here. Basically this one is a watch if you’ve got a spare hour or so because that’s all it is going to take to watch and it isn’t bad. Again, it isn’t particularly good, but it is hard to imagine what else they could have managed with those episode lengths.

I’d love to know what you thought of the show if you’ve watched it.


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Chronos Ruler Episode 11: What is a Fight Without a Twist?

Review:

Last week set up three separate fights for this week and episode 11 delivered but my question becomes, why bother? When all three fights follow the exact same pattern of one guy gets the upper hand and monologues about their amazing technique before they go for the kill and the other guy does the exact same thing with a smug self-satisfied look, it all just becomes pretty tedious. Not to mention, we don’t know enough about how any of the powers in this show work to know whether or not what the villains are doing is even vaguely plausible so there is no shock factor in these twists.

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That isn’t to say the action itself isn’t good. The fights are decent enough. Not exactly something to rave about but there have certainly been worse fight animations in anime.

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And at least the fight that Kiri has jumped into seems to have taken a more serious turn. I wish I could actually be invested in that fight but there’s pretty much no way they are actually going to kill Kiri so I assume Victo will get over his issues next episode and save him.

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I am kind of glad they’ve stopped translating Victo as Victor, but for the purpose of consistency I’m not changing his name in my reviews. That said, one of the final lines this episode makes no sense unless you realise his name was supposed to be ‘victor’.


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Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Episode 11: Teen Sword Drama?

Review:

This episode is really dramatic. In case you don’t pick that up because fo the actual characters or performances, the music is sure not going to let you forget it. It just screams drama for almost the entire final third of the episode. Possibly if I was more invested in these characters it may have actually worked nicely but to be honest I was kind of just waiting to see if they’d actually fight or not.

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Kunihiro has disappeared after seeing his former master last week and we’re going to spend a lot of time this week rehashing the conversations about loyalty, preserving history and we’ll intersperse those with flashbacks of their former master.

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As soon as he said this, it was kind of obvious where this plot line was going. He almost pushed Kunihiro into the role and I guess that kind of solves the problem of the series finding a villain we care about before the end. Why give us any information about the actual enemy or the ramifications of their actions when we can focus instead on internal squabbles within this second unit?

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On the other hand, Kunihiro gave us the first actual bit of drama where the argument was clear and the consequences obvious. Though, that won’t do the plot any good if he gets himself cut down because then we’re just going to have to watch the swords sitting around all depressed again. So I guess now I’m curious as to whether they are setting him up as an antagonist, or if this really is just a minor drama point to lead us back into yet more conversations about loyalty. And of course, I already know that I’ll end up watching more because even a tiny bit of curiosity is usually enough to keep me watching something even when it isn’t good.


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