Why I’ve Never Been A Fan of Anime Tournament Arcs

Why I've Never Been A Fan of Anime Tournament Arcs

For some fans, the announcement of an anime tournament arc starting is enough to make them squeal with joy and start anticipating the awesome show-downs to come.

For me though, finding out that a story I’ve been enjoying is about to embark on a tournament arc is usually enough to make me sigh. I’m happy enough when it turns out I was wrong. My Hero Academia managed to turn their anime tournament arc into quite the impressive fare with some of the show’s best episodes and fights appearing during its run, but that’s more of an exception rather than the rule.

My Hero Academia showing us that anime tournament arcs can be entertaining.

So what is it about anime tournament arcs that really puts me off before the arc has even started?

Anime Tournament Arcs – A Different Kind of Fan-Service

For me, it very much feels like a tournament arc is just a different kind of fan-service. Largely because it puts characters we love up against one another and shows of their flashiest moves. This includes characters who normally wouldn’t fight each because they are friends.

Dr Stone - Anime tournament arc in the midst of invention.

However, unlike a beach episode, tournament arcs tend to run through multiple episodes if not entire cours of a season and so while the tournament may exist for a purpose and there may be some goal the characters wish to achieve by entering it, the narrative as a whole more or less screeches to a halt while we essentially watch action sequence after action sequence with character match-ups that might be thrilling but ultimately if we skipped to the conclusion we wouldn’t be much worse off.

Even My Hero Academia wasn’t exactly progressing its plot throughout its tournament but it did compensate by delivering some of the strongest character moments and break-throughs for the series making it feel meaningful and needed with the characters emerging from the tournament with some improved mind-sets and motivations.

But when we look at anime built entirely around a death game or tournament style match up such as Juni Taisen: Zodiac War we can really see the weaknesses of this kind of narrative.

Juni Taisen - A continuous anime tournament arc

Sure watching super-powerful characters pummel each other can be fun but it works better if we actually know the characters first and want at least one of them to succeed in the end. It also helps if we understand what the purpose of all the fighting is in the first place.

No Consequences To Losing An Anime Tournament

The other issue anime tournament arcs suffer from is a lack of consequences of failure within them. As much as the stories might try to make the stakes seem impossibly high, a tournament arc is by its nature a controlled setting and generally speaking regardless of how out of control the situation gets you kind of suspect that someone will step in before the characters actually die.

Likewise, while a character might go in needing to win in order to obtain some goal, losing seems to only mean they don’t get it (that and they have a massive bump to their pride). At times that doesn’t seem like a particularly huge consequence.

The Asterisk War - Anime tournament arc with school students

If we look at something like The Asterisk War, one of the biggest issues early on was while winning the tournament may lead to the characters learning something new or gaining something they were seeking, they did have other options to pursue and losing just meant things kept going as they had been.

The anime tournament didn’t result in any earth shattering consequences or even concrete and clear personal losses for the characters in question. And you could never actually believe that the schools would allow the students to be critically injured during the fights even if they were getting beaten up quite badly.


Of course, it is equally ridiculous when the fate of the world rests on the outcome of an anime tournament simply because, who does that? Whether it is Mirai Nikki with its god planning to hand his powers over to the final survivor of the death matches or something like the Fate series with its Grail Wars, it just feels so contrived and not like a real consequence.

Fight, fight, fight!

Lastly, tournament arcs in anime have this nasty tendency to outstay their welcome.

In an effort to appease everyone they shove as many characters as possible into the matches and then of course you have to justify their presence. Or give each and every character a shining moment before moving on. It eats up screen time and season time that could be better spent else where.

One Punch Man - Anime tournament arc that felt empty.

Plus, each fight ends up starting to feel much the same as the last as some fail to make each match-up feel unique and energised.

I definitely felt this fatigue in Dr Stone which actually had a relatively short tournament arc when they were looking to elect a village leader. In the grand scheme of the story, an anime tournament arc felt out of place and more than that, it slowed our progress toward a conflict with the revived Tsukasa to a crawl.

Dr Stone - more anime tournament images

While there were some funny moments along the way in the mis-matched battles throughout the tournament mostly it felt like an intrusion into the story and for an anime that focused largely on science and building cool inventions out of stone-age materials, it was one of the least original ideas they could have brought into the story.

Do you like anime tournament arcs?

I’ve probably made this clear already, but there are some truly great anime tournament arcs out there. And when it fits the story’s purpose and helps develop characters, there’s definitely a place for a tournament arc.

But for anime that just kind of throw it in there to pad out there story or to provide some candy for viewers who were always wondering what would happen if X character fought Y, they end up being largely something that make me wonder how many episodes I can safely skip before I lose track of the story.

So I’d love to know how you find anime tournament arcs and whether you are a fan or not? Also, what has been your favourite anime tournament arc? Be sure to leave me a comment below.

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Karandi James

Why Bell’s Minotaur Fight Is An Excellent Anime Moment

Dungeon Feature

Fight scenes are everywhere in anime but some stick with the viewer long after the closing credits. Here’s my favourite and why.

There are a lot of action anime and fight scenes that reviewers seem to have paid attention to over the years. However one of my favourites never seems to get a mention. So in this post I want to look at exactly why Bell’s minotaur fight is an excellent anime moment.

While it might be argued that fight scenes are fairly prolific and most follow a fairly routine delivery method and so there is little variation other than the animation between one anime fight sequence and another, I find that for me there are a few key ingredients to making a fight sequence that I am both thrilled by while watching and it sticks with me long after the anime has finished airing.

For a fight scene to really stick the landing it does need to be technically proficient. Frantic cuts and messy effects all over the screen can’t hide lacklustre animation or characters who are going off model more often than not. However, there also needs to be a solid reason to care about the outcome of the fight and the character involved (and I don’t mean by pasting a last minute flashback in to try to suddenly elicit sympathy for an otherwise unpopular character right before they die).

Considering those two components, I’m drawn back again and again to season one of DanMachi (Is It Wrong To Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon) episode 8 which is appropriately titled ‘Argonaut’ and then depending on whether you view it on Crunchyroll or AnimeLab comes with the subtitles ‘wanting to be a hero’ (Crunchyroll) or ‘a hero’s aspiration’ (AnimeLab).

Incidentally if you haven’t watched episode 8 of DanMachi, I’m going to suggest that you go watch the episode first before reading the rest of this post because there will be spoilers for the fight below. That and it is just a really cool fight that kicks off around the 9 minute mark of the episode.

I’ve also discussed this fight previously as it topped my list of favourite fight sequences involving a blade of some sort. I get there are better sword fighters out there but this scene remains a personal favourite and I’m going to break down why this scene works so well for me.

fight danmachi2
Bell locked in deadly battle.

So why does the scene work?

For those who have watched DanMachi, you will know that the minotaur is a recurring enemy that Bell has to face off against. Now this isn’t a floor boss or a world destroying threat of any kind. For high level adventurers, like Ais and most of the Loki Familia, the minotaurs are just a nuisance that they kill off only to protect weaker adventurers when they venture onto the higher levels of the dungeons.

For Bell, the Minotaur represents a major failure for him on his journey to become a hero. In the very first episode of DanMachi we see Bell running in terror from a Minotaur that had evaded the Loki Familia and entered the upper levels of the dungeons where newer and less experienced adventurers were learning their craft.

He’s quickly cornered and is about to die when he is rescued by Ais. There’s trauma in this situation caused by Bell nearly losing his life before he’s accomplished his goal of becoming a hero, there’s hero worship as he sees his ideal in Ais’ cool and effective response to the threat, and there’s also general humiliation of needing to be rescued – which is further compounded later in the episode when the Loki Familia are having drinks and one of them recounts the story of the young adventurer who was pretty much covered in minotaur blood after being rescued.

Setting the stage for Bell’s minotaur fight.

While episode 8 is not a season finale and this isn’t the big-boss that Bell ultimately comes up against, bringing back a minotaur (not the same one obviously) for him to face off against when he’s a little bit stronger and yet still very inexperienced brings up a whole range of emotions and this fight has meaning for the character and for the audience.

DanMachi season 1 - episode 8 - Bell vs the Minotaur
Bell realising what is approaching him… not good.

These emotional stakes kick the sequence off as we hear the first rumbling footsteps of the Minotaur approaching Bell and his supporter Lily. It is very clear that Bell hasn’t overcome his earlier trauma involving the Minotaur given after turning to face the looming threat he freezes. It is Lily who makes the first move, diving to push Bell out of the way of the Minotaur’s opening strike and getting injured in the process.

Even then, we clearly see Bell’s fear in the first phase of this fight. He’s striking out blindly using magic and nearly obscuring his enemy to his own detriment more than once. Bell takes an early hit and his light armour is smashed leaving Bell with pretty much just his speed and agility and he’s wearing himself out fast between the injury taken from the hit and his own lack of control in the face of fear. If not for his desire to protect Lily, it is quite possible the fight would have ended fairly quickly and with the Minotaur being victorious.

However, after Lily runs away (at Bell’s behest) we enter the second stage of the fight (keep in mind this battle wraps up in the one episode so we’re not going the bloated shounen route of three episodes to power up a single attack here).

Bell vs Minotaur 2
Bell strikes back.

The second stage very much has Bell calming himself. He draws Hestia’s knife as well, takes a more controlled stance and we see him using the skills he’s learned in his short time training with Ais. His movements are definitely more purposeful now but he’s still barely avoiding blows that will crush him if they land. This stage really emphasises the size and power difference between the two with Bell getting pushed back as he blocks, low angle shots looking up at the Minotaur as it strikes down toward Bell, and even a number of foot stamps that Bell struggles to avoid.

Still, the audience can see how much Bell has grown in the first half of the season. While he’s still outclassed and outmatched here, he’s using everything he has to stave off death and land even small strikes against his opponent. And more importantly, while he’s still afraid, he’s not wanting to run. He’s looking for an opportunity and he’s holding on until he can find it.


That said, the fight is realistic in that eventually Bell misses his timing and is cut and then thrown. He’s down and if he wasn’t a protagonist in an action anime he’d probably be dead. It’s at that moment that the Loki Familia make their appearance and Ais moves between Bell and the Minotaur, ready to take down the threat.

For Bell, this is the worst possible outcome. To be rescued once again. To realise his own weakness once again. It is humiliating and it strikes at his own aspiration and desire. He enters the dungeon because he wants to be a hero. Heroes don’t lie on the ground while their idol rescues them from death. So by the power of grit and determination (which is almost as powerful as the power of friendship when it comes to writing anime plots) Bell gets back on his feet.

Bell's Minotaur Fight is an excellent anime moment
Uh oh – crazy eyes. Bell’s going for it now.

This clear link back to the opening scene, the demonstration of character growth, the purposeful motivation of the character for continuing this fight (personal stakes rather than some nebulous world-saving goal that could as easily be accomplished by another) all work together to give this fight real emotional weight. The fact that each stage is well choreographed to show exactly Bell’s mental state just elevates the entire sequence to something that, for those invested in the series, becomes impossible to look away from.

Truly an excellent anime moment.

When you combine the smart narrative choices with solid visual work and direction, and toss in a beautifully thought out sound design, moving from the ominous footsteps, to the sword scraping, to the slow build-up until we get to Bell’s battle song essentially by the final stage of the fight as well as the ringing sounds of the blades, the breath and roar of the Minotaur and Bell’s own thoughts and movements, you get a sequence that really carries the viewer into the moment. And what a moment it is.

The final phase of this fight is one where the Loki Familia stand in for the audience, watching this rookie adventurer taking on a superior foe and actually getting the upper-hand. They are awe-struck and mesmerised even as they see the flaws in Bell’s assault, they respect the effort and that even as the fight progresses he’s finding new strength.

At the close of the battle, as Bell stands completely drained of magic and energy, there’s a real sense that something amazing has occurred and the audience cheers for Bell even as we too want to know what has changed with his status after that momentous feat.

Everything about this fight works for those invested in the series and even for those who go in without liking the character or much knowledge of the story, will definitely find that there’s a real thrill in watching this fight. That’s why even after so many other anime and so many anime fight sequences, I always remember DanMachi and Bell vs the Minotaur. This is one fight that deserves to be remembered and is a truly excellent anime moment.

Images in this article from:

  • Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon. Dir. Y Yamakawa. J.C. Staff. 2015

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Karandi James

One Punch Man Review Season 2 Episodes 7 + 8


The Hero And The Pretender


One Punch Man Season 2 Episode 7

The S Class heroes are finally on the move against the monsters, not that the audience or One Punch Man cares given how little screen time the catastrophe striking multiple cities is given. Instead our focus is either on the end of the tournament or on a little aside with some swordsmen that ends up revealing that by consuming monster cells humans can become monsters.

The Hero Association really isn't very good at their job - One Punch Man Season 2

I’m certain that’s actually worth knowing given the smart monster association currently causing all the problems (even if the S Class Heroes are mostly mopping them up) but this episode doesn’t dwell on that situation and takes us back to Saitama.

I’m sure this will be important but right now I want to know who won the tournament.

Which is okay actually. The tournament doesn’t linger on the lead up but gets to the fight between Saitama and Suiryu in relatively short order. The similarities between the pair are drawn into the open as is the overwhelming difference in the conclusion the two have drawn. Both characters have suffered from being too strong and essentially facing no opposition and wanting a fun fight. Yet Suiryu looks down on heroes and others in general where Saitama is mostly hopeful of finding a challenge and doesn’t look down on those weaker than him, even if he isn’t always particularly nice to them.


The fight is lively enough and entertaining in the ongoing joke of Saitama holding onto his wig. Still, at the end of the day, there was no way he was going to get away with his impersonation. I guess I’ll find out what happens now that Saitama’s done at the tournament next episode.

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One Punch Man Season 2 Episode 8

Oh yes, the turning into monsters part was definitely an important sidenote that became the basis for this episode really. As the monster’s plan concludes, for now, some very nasty monsters turn up at the martial arts tournament determined to convince the strong contestants to eat the cells and become monsters, or to kill them. It is a simple conflict but one that is delivered fairly well in this episode of One Punch Man.


With Saitama already gone after being disqualified for having a wig (and impersonating someone else), it seems like this group of marital artists are doomed. A few try to fight and are summarily beaten down with very little in the way of fanfare. Then Suiryu steps up. Not because he wants to be a hero. But because he’s a human shaped blob of ego who clearly didn’t believe he could even be challenged and before he even takes the stage he elicits a promise from a girl that she’ll essentially be his prize after his victory.

Which kind of makes watching him struggle against the humans turned monsters satisfying.

At this moment, I was hoping the monsters would win.

Then all that satisfaction turns to raw horror as he takes on some brutal punishment. To his credit, he doesn’t actually try to run away until after everyone else has already gone except for the two heroes who were in the tournament who come back for him. It doesn’t do him any good, and the sounds of bones breaking are all kinds of horrific, but it does make the sight of him lying on the ground, reaching out, and crying for a hero affective. Seeing such a massive contrast from the beginning of the episode to the end just works.

Now I kind of want someone to rescue him.

However, as with all good hero stories, just when you think it is all over, in swoops the hero, cape flying all.


Sometimes Saitama just looks completely cool. Then he goes back looking like a doofus, but seriously, that entrance was awesome. Looking forward to next week.

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Karandi James

One Punch Man Review Season 2 Episode 6


Everybody is Monster Fighting

One Punch Man Season 2 Genos

Episode 6

Monsters outside the arena and monsters inside it. This episode keeps cutting between the two and both are interesting enough in their own way.

Alright, I’ll be honest. I liked this episode a lot because we got quite a lot of Genos. Genos left the arena to go fight some monsters and we get a number of sequences of Genos taking down monsters and just looking awesome. Of course, One Punch Man isn’t above disassembling or crushing Genos and by the end of this episode he’s been stomped into the ground (or at least that’s what it looked like) but he certainly got to look cool first and that is worth celebrating.


It should be noted that episode 6 doesn’t really progress anything. At the end of episode 5 we had monster outbreaks everywhere and the martial arts tournament was underway and the rich guy’s son had been kidnapped. This episode we still have monster outbreaks, a couple more heroes are down, the son is still kidnapped and the hero association is freaking out about the possibility of losing an investor (rather than the fact that they are currently failing miserably to actually stop the monsters) and Saitama is still taking part in the martial arts tournament.

I mean this looks cool and all but is there a point other than being cool? And does it matter?

It could be considered a waste of an episode except that the cuts between fights were all interesting enough and One Punch Man has never been one to avoid burning screen time on the set-up for a fight or a joke. What matters is whether or not it was an entertaining spectacle rather than whether it drove the plot particularly far.


In that sense there’s a bit of a mixed response. Without the impressive soundtrack and smooth visuals from season one there’s a lot less wow factor in these mini-skirmishes and while watching Genos is always awesome I kind of wanted a bit more spectacle. I mean, if we’re having spectacle for spectacle’s sake it should be extraordinary and yet this was just kind of okay.


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Still, if you like watching the heroes and monsters scrambling about and seeing some pretty standard tournament smack talk before various opponents are put down way too quickly there’s entertainment to be had. That, and all the Genos fans out there will certainly be happy with his screen time this week. I certainly was.

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Karandi James

Sirius The Jaeger Series Review

Sirius The Jaeger

Things that go bump in the night should watch out.

It isn’t all that often that I watch a Netflix anime (or I should more accurately say it isn’t often that I finish one) and there’s a lot of reasons for that, however having read some mixed reviews about Serius but seeing it was a bit of an action story featuring vampires, I decided to take the plunge. I watched a handful of episodes one afternoon and was hooked. Clearing my schedule the following afternoon, I binged the rest of the series.

And it turns out, Sirius the Jaeger is actually great fun. We have a group called the Jaegers hunting down vampires and trying to exterminate them, meanwhile the vampires are conspiring with political activists and the like to get some shady and nebulous plot off the ground. It is a great set up and the pre-World War 2 setting really helps to allow some credibility for some of the goings on here.

That said, it isn’t as though Sirius the Jaeger is a perfect anime series. We’ve got a lot of cliché characters, some plot points that don’t really seem to make a great deal of sense, a villain who seems kind of together but ultimately makes stupid choices just to make things more interesting and as a direct result gets seriously burned, and just some general moments where if you applied any kind of real world physics to a situation you could write most of the characters off. Yet, none of that really gets in the way of the story because the story doesn’t really let it. It isn’t taking itself all that seriously as it powers through introducing ancient tribes, vampires, vampire hunters and building in a subplot about nations arming for war. It just wants us to enjoy the ride as we see Yuliy first work to kill all the vampires and then to try to find out about his tribe and the Ark of Serius.

Sirius The Jaeger - Yuliy

Where some anime might get very exposition heavy while trying to balance all of that, Sirius the Jaeger limits talk time between characters and information about all of these different aspects comes to us over time and fairly naturally. It’s built into exchanges between characters in small bite size chunks with only a few longer more focused conversations to flesh out key points. There’s only one point where the Professor stands with Yuliy and essentially information dumps and it’s about three quarters of the way through and is a fairly significant reveal that directs the final turn of the series. Given it comes on the tail of a fairly impressive battle between the Japanese military and the vampires, the down time isn’t too much of a problem.

However, what really drives this story is the action. We will be taken from one action set piece to another and be prepared for lots of jumping over roof tops, a car chase sequence, a battle on a train, fighting in the woods, and finally fighting on an airship because why not. Each fight is fairly distinct and while Yuliy is at the centre of most of them, the conditions are vastly different as are the other participants and potential collateral damage and so it continues to feel fresh.

Sirius The Jaeger fight

There’s also a sense of urgency around a lot of the fight sequences. While it never gets to a point where you actually fear too much for a main character, it always feels like losing a fight will cost the characters something and even if they win the fight there is always damage. The near destruction of the house they were staying in while in Japan and the company having to pay compensation to the owner is one example but in every fight it felt like there was a lot potentially riding on their decisions.

I really enjoyed how the series dealt with Yuliy. Even though we ultimately get a standard chosen one fantasy plot where he’s lost his family, last survivor, needs to take control of the shiny powerful thing, his character manages to feel reasonably fresh as it treads this fairly standard path. While his surly revenge driven opening isn’t exactly a breath of fresh air (think Eren from Attack on Titan only competent and less shouty), Yuliy actually manages to have quite a well developed personality and his interactions with the other characters are usually entertaining.

Sirius The Jaeger

Unfortunately, I can’t really say the same about Ryouko, the daughter of the family who host the vampire hunters (Jaegers) in Japan. Her character is kind of a love interest for Yuliy only she’s utterly unnecessary. Though at times she delivered crucial items or got herself into trouble at particular points, realistically her character brought nothing to the table and honestly her following Yuliy around into increasingly dangerous situations just struck me as slightly stupid so I couldn’t really get behind her character.

They did far better with Mikhail (Yuliy’s brother) who we encounter throughout the story, despite Yuliy thinking he died when the vampires attacked his village. The interactions between Yuliy and Mikhail, while at times pushing at the boundaries of logical, always have a good chemistry about them.

Sirius The Jaeger Yuliy and Mikhail

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However, this is a vampire story so how are the vampires?

A bit hit and miss. The royals are very entertaining and classic kind of vampires (other than the whole able to deal with daylight thing). The control older vampires have over those they’ve turned is a feature that I really like in vampire stories as is the fact that turned vampires retain their memories of being human but at the same time aren’t any longer. The slave vampires and their monstrous form was a bit less likeable because it essentially turned a lot of the fights into waves of red bat things that had very little to distinguish them and none of them were really strong enough to be of note anyway.

One interesting bit they threw in was that the vampire race was dying because of a sickness that had no cure. That was an interesting addition to the story and actually worked as a good catalyst for moving the immortal vampires with a sense of urgency.

The Jaegers

So overall, a pretty fun action story. Definitely not a horror despite the presence of vampires. It move along at a nice pace, has some good fight sequences and largely decently realised characters. While it isn’t going to be anime of the year or anything like that, this one was certainly an entertaining romp.

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Karandi James

Land of the Lustrous Episode 10: Bort, Phos & Dia



I was really happy to see some of the old Phos back this week. They certainly are still not the Phos we met at the start of the season, but they have definitely not lost all of their spunk which was kind of a welcome sight. I certainly had a good laugh when she asked the jelly fish about whether she should team up with Bort.


Outside of those lighter moments however, this episode is probably the most tension we’ve seen from this show. Phos is still suffering from losing Antarcticite and a new lunarian has appeared that is more than just a bit of a handful.


However, Phos teaming up with Bort isn’t just about Phos and Bort. Bort’s partner, Dia, comes back into the story this week and the complex relationship Dia and Bort share gets put in the spotlight. I really loved it when Dia admitted she’d encouraged Phos to change so really couldn’t say anything about the two teaming up. My heart nearly broke when Dia claimed that Bort was never wrong as a rationalisation for why she was fine with losing her partner. And then we see Dia in this situation:


Of course nothing is resolved in this episode and now I’m waiting impatiently for next week to roll around so I can see what the outcome of this fight will be, though part of me wonders if I should be prepping for heartbreak.

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Karandi James.


UQ Holder Episode 10: Tota is a…



I really love how shows go from telling us nothing, to revealing something and then every single character in the show just openly talks about that thing as if it was always obvious (by the way that was sarcasm). ACCA did the same thing when Jean’s past was identified and suddenly everyone just kind of openly discussed it with each other and with him even though prior to the reveal to the audience everyone had been so closed mouthed about it. Where ACCA would get a pass though i that the reveal was kind of clever in the first place whereas UQ Holder just seems to continue its trend of stuff happens because it does narrative path.


After the reveal last week that Tota is actually a two year old clone (that explains his behaviour) he’s trying to come to terms with that and everyone is now wanting to discuss his grandfather with him. of course they all have incredibly fond memories of him and it is so unfortunate that he has now been taken over by an evil entity (though the audience has not yet been told what said entity is after or why it is evil so we really don’t have any reason to care other than a few of the older characters seem to think it might be a problem).


We have a contrived fight sequence with Tota getting beaten down, before his friends call out to him rallying his strength so that he can finally hit his opponent, which leads to the ‘it’s a girl’ reveal, before she chuckles and the real big bad appears and it looks like it is all over, but then Evangeline swoops in to save the day, and then both the bad guys and good guys side-kicks rush in and… how many clichés were they planning on shoving into one sequence?

Whichever way, this episode was decent. No original thought whatsoever and only passable delivery, but it was passable and all of those clichés exist for a reason and they are kind of exciting to watch unfold even if the overall narrative is eye-roll worthy.

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Karandi James.



Chronos Ruler Series Review: Cool Concept Does Not Equal Good Story



Time eating demons have stolen Victor’s time leaving him looking younger and without memories of the past 12 years. Together with his son they are hunting the demon that ate his time in order to get it back.


This actually should have been kind of fun. Two guys with weapons that can slow down and speed up the time of particular objects (Kiri uses water and Victor uses a deck of cards) to fight horologues (time eating demons) that target people with regrets who want to turn back time. It all sounds like it should be kind of fun to watch.


Then we get the reality where Victor is the particular kind of annoying protagonist that is ridiculously cocky in his own abilities so acts like a complete fool almost 100% of the time. Never taking anything seriously, drinking, hanging out with girls, teasing his son, he’s basically incredibly annoying in every single scene. That I could probably overlook given a lot of the early focus in on Kiri who plays the straight man of the duo. The son forced to deal with the fact that his father barely remembers anything about him and to also deal with the fact that his father acts like a three year old fairly continuously. Except that the series then wants us to take Victor’s plight seriously and the entire final arc asks us to start seeing Victor as a good guy. Sorry. Too late. I have no empathy for the character and I want him to get eaten.


This is kind of the problem with the whole show. It wants to have those serious emotional moments but the characters have not been presented to the audience in a way that makes them plausible. It wants the villains to have weight and feel threatening but has spent too long with the characters playing the fool for us to actually believe the villains they fight are any kind of real threat. There’s no balance between the comedic moments and the more serious moments and the writing doesn’t lend itself to having the audience really looking for much from this series given the plot just kind of drifts along with no sense of urgency at all and villains appear for no reason other than to inject a fight sequence and then disappear with no consequence.


Basically this show is built around an idea that is very cool and could be really fun to watch. The group of Chronos Rulers could have been really awesome and we could have had a nice and simple linear narrative fighting some opposing force. Instead we follow Victor and Kiri, and later Mina and Blaze, as they wander about looking for a character’s memories when they’ve given us no reason to be invested in that quest. We learn nothing about the greater war that is going on or any of the other characters, though their brief appearances suggest that knowing less in this case is probably a good thing.


For most of the season this show dropped into the They Made This category and I stand by that placement. Though this show could have built something quite interesting it was held back by poor characters and writing and ultimately wasn’t all that enjoyable to watch. Even the time manipulation element which at first was kind of interesting, never went anywhere as characters just used the same basic attacks over and over again.

I’d love to know your thoughts if you watched this show last season.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.


Knight’s & Magic Series Review: It Is Going To Take More Than Duct Tape To Fix This Mess



A guy who is apparently a genius programmer (the synopsis told me so) is killed but then is reborn in a fantasy world where he can use his somehow remembered understanding of programming to use magic and build robots. Now he wants to build his dream robot.

Review – Some spoilers:

I was watching a video review of this anime the other day (sorry, cannot remember which blog I was on or I would link) and they said (heavily paraphrased) that they didn’t know why this was even an isekai story as the fact that the guy was originally a programmer in our world literally added nothing to the story. This was something that kind of bothered me while watching the show as well. Other than eating up precious minutes in the first episode where we meet our robot obsessed programmer and then watch him die, there is zero mention of him coming from another world ever again in the anime. He does weird things occasionally and certainly a lot of his ideas are derivative of things he could have seen in his former life but he could just as easily have been a genius ahead of his time. There was no reason to add the extra complication of reincarnation. It added nothing to the story and it wasted set up time on a set up that wasn’t needed.


And basically that explains a lot about what is wrong with Knight’s & Magic. It has a lot of things in it that aren’t necessary and what it doesn’t have is any clear or focused narrative. The premise is super cool. I love that they decided to mix mecha and fantasy. The mix of robots and magic is perfect because for once I’m not rolling my eyes at giant robots being able to move and jump or do anything that they are doing because they are powered and moved by magic so they can do whatever they like. The initial setting in the fantasy world where people are attacked by beasts and the robots are needed to fight them gives a fairly wide range of possible story lines and works well enough even if it is pretty standard, and the weird main character who doesn’t understand the concept of impossible could have been really fun.

This show should have been amazing.

The final battle takes place between a flying robot and a mechanical dragon. How do you manage to make that lame? Well, let Knight’s & Magic teach you.


I guess we all should have been tipped off by the unnecessary apostrophe in the title. That bugged me all season but now that I reflect on the show it kind of matches it perfectly. It has an idea but wants to make it look even cooler than it is so it goes just that one step too far. Genius kid develops robots for his kingdom? We can do better than that. That kid is a reborn programmer from Earth who loved model robots. It adds nothing but it sounds cool.

While I’m being petty I’ll also take aim at the opening song. There’s actually nothing wrong with the opening as it visually works and the song, while fairly generic, is entertaining enough, but for some reason each week (and I’m not sure if they did this from the start or it if came along later on) they felt the need to break the song up with dialogue from the upcoming episode. Kind of jarring and a little spoilery. Right up there with those previews they used to give us for Sailor Moon back in the 90’s and then Serena would tell us to stay right there because they’d show us what happened. Only, we just kind of saw it in the preview so doesn’t that take a lot of the fun out of it?


If I look at this more objectively, my biggest issue with Knight’s & Magic is the story. Or maybe it is the lack of story. A story implies that things are building toward a climax where as this is a series where stuff happens, the characters react, they overcome the challenge (which mostly doesn’t end up even seeming like a challenge) and then in the aftermath of the previous event, something else happens. So there’s a few issues.


The first is the reactionary nature of the characters. Ernesti wants to build his own mecha. Great. That’s a character goal and something to work towards. And he does work toward that goal but he does a lot of stuff that seems superfluous to that goal along the way and seems to take great delight in the destruction of enemies even if they never stood a chance. The other characters however, don’t seem to have any goal. Kid and Ady are hanging with Ernesti. Because they made friends with him when he was young? Because they have zero ambitions or goals of their own? What do these two want? It is never made clear, they just kind of hang around as Ernesti’s entourage for the entire series. Other characters also seem to just get dragged along in Ernesti’s wake and even the villains for the most part have very little in the way of actual motive or vested interest in anything that is actually going on. So no one is driving this plot. Except maybe the narrator who is literally dragging the audience through months and years of development in a matter of a few minutes of perfunctory narration.


The second is the lack of a clear antagonist. Ultimately the series chooses the war with some country whose name I don’t remember (it started with a Z as mandated by all derivative fantasy writers – close second if it started with an X) and we get a bit of a face off between Ernesti and another designer who is also a genius. This had me wondering whether other genius was also reborn in this world and that’s the only way someone shows any signs of intelligent thought (because the side characters sure didn’t) or whether he was this world’s version of a real genius and Ernesti just stomped out the evolution of an entirely different kind of technology for his own amusement. Yet other than one early encounter where technology is stolen from Ernesti by a character who returns later only to be cut down in seconds, there’s no sign of this Kingdom or any kind of political tension until very late in the series. Instead we see Ernesti handle the beasts (which are what we are introduced to in the first episode as the problem), then they disappear as we see Ernesti challenge another development lab, and then we see new robots fighting beasts, then Ernesti meets some not-elves and learns all the secrets of how to build a robot. All that happens before we get any hint of a war looming ahead. I know we need some background but could the show try foreshadowing.


The third issue is how anti-climactic the climax is. Ernesti never loses. In the penultimate battle he is fought to a draw but even then it isn’t like his robot blows up or anything. There isn’t a single moment of actual tension in this series because you know Ernesti will win. Usually very easily. So even though the final battle works hard to make you think there might be some tension, by this point the audience knows how the story goes and you can almost narrate the story for them. It is an aerial battle with a mechanical dragon and I was bored. There’s something very wrong when a show can’t manage to make you worried that maybe the mechanical dragon might actually be an effective weapon against the protagonist.


I’m not actually opposed to happy endings and the main characters having a triumphant return. But I’d like to feel they worked for it and earned it and to be honest this didn’t do it. Likely this is because not one of the main characters is even crippled let alone killed. Only one of them is even in any kind of danger during the entire final battle and other than some strategic blood on his face from unseen wounds, there’s no actual sign of injury. And after the battle, he’s fine. No recovery period. Okay, the robot broke, as did a few others, but not one main character left with any kind of lasting scar from a full on war that they fought on the front lines of? This feeds well into the idea that this is self-insert wish-fulfillment but it does not make for an interesting story.


Basically, I really wanted to like this show. I kept hoping that the next week would do something with the really interesting premise that caught me in episode 1. Unfortunately this show had no interest in developing characters or plot and ultimately was nothing but a disappointment. A good-looking disappointment with some cool mecha designs, but still a disappointment.

I’d love to know your thoughts so please leave a comment below.

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Karandi James

UQ Holder Episode 5: More Secrets



The fight from last week continues and naturally they both get in over their heads until the orphan boy comes back to defend them. I don’t know why so many writers think this is a good idea for a scenario. The two super powered immortals just got totally wiped out (one sealed and one literally cut in two and pinned to the ground) and yet the totally powerless boy will somehow think it is smart to run into the middle of that fight. More importantly, immediately after, both the previously incapacitated heroes will suddenly be able to move/fight again. Really?


I guess it is one of those things where we’re supposed to just accept that their determination and will power allowed them to overcome reality but to be honest it always seems like a bit of a cheat.


That said, the fight between Tota and the werewolf is pretty cool and for once Tota actually came off as kind of cool. He did demolish an entire building in an arm wrestle though but that was quite a bit of growth for his character in a short space of time. However, just in case we were thinking he’d grown up the final sequence has him saying something stupid and being bashed into the ground for it because that is apparently hilarious no matter how many times it happens.

This show remains okay. Not good or bad. It just kind of is. I would suggest a younger audience would probably have a great deal of fun with it, but the sheer amount of fanservice would make it hard to recommend to that audience so it ends up being a bit of an odd show as I’m not entirely convinced who would enjoy all parts of it.

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Karandi James.