Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Episode 6: Learn to Take The Win

Review Episode 6:

So far I’ve enjoyed the fight sequences in this series and not a lot else and then along comes episode 6 where we have no fighting going on as the swords have returned to the citadel to have their wounds treated and deal with their issues after the last mission. Despite being reassured that history hadn’t changed they are all brooding on things during this episode which actually makes you wonder what the advantage is of having living swords fighting in the first place if they are as prone to emotional damage as a standard person.

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We also get to meet members of the first unit who are apparently about to set out on a mission for next week. I wonder if that means we won’t see any of the characters that I still haven’t really connected with or whether the second unit will end up getting involved.

The other thing we see this episode are more of the little fox things but to be honest their role could kind of be filled by a smartphone so I haven’t really paid attention to them as characters.

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All and all, these guys really should pick a fight with someone, anyone, just to keep this from getting too dull.


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My Hero Academia Episodes 29 + 30: The Boys Are Back Together

Review Episode 29:

I remember back when the tournament arc started the reason I was disappointed with that was because tournament arcs just can’t do high stakes for real. The worst that will happen is they’ll lose (although My Hero Academia managed to put its own spin on that with Midoriya doing some permanent damage to his hand). Well, the internship is definitely making up for that. I wanted real danger and stakes, here they are, and watching Iida, then Midoriya, and then Midoriya backed by Todoroki facing the real world Hero Killer is truly spectacular and everything I could ever want from this show.

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Midoriya and Todoroki have both come so far to who they were back in the tournament arc, and Iida is having his moment now where he can choose whether he’s going to grow as a hero or really just fail as a hero. I’m hoping he steps up because this is a generation of kids who really could change their world once they got over their own baggage. Loved this episode and looking forward to the next.

Review Episode 30:

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Once again, My Hero Academia has left me completely speechless and just sitting as the credits play staring at the screen in silence. This episode was go, go, go with the exception of one fairly necessary flashback sequence for Iida.

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We finally got to see Endeavor actually act like a hero and it makes a pleasant change given our only previous encounters with him made me really question this world’s definition of hero. We also got to see the conclusion of the fight between the Hero Killer, Todoroki, Iida and Midoriya and that was a fantastic experience. Yet, even when the show delves into the darker side of this world, the watching experience remains one of fun and entertainment. This is a show that balances itself well and always remembers what it wants to give its audience. Fantastic episode, looking forward to what comes next.


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Chronos Ruler Episodes 4 + 5: My Time is Faster Than Your Time

Review Episode 4:

I’m going to comment on the opening of this anime, because I haven’t in the reviews of episodes 1 – 3. What is that supposed to be? In addition to sounding horrible (which I guess is technically subjective), visually it is an eyesore.

Moving away from that, this episode was a direct continuation from last week which means Victo is fighting someone who claimed to be a god but from the sounds of it is technically more a descendent of someone who might have been a god. And of course she initially comes across as wanting to kill him but then gives him a chance to defeat her by not using her powers directly on him. Basically, she’s just going to let him win because why would any hot maybe-god like woman want to actually kill Victo? Other than he’s completely annoying and hasn’t done one thing in four episodes to make me think all these people should actually be hung up on saving his life or memories.

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Though this episode did clarify Mina’s position and basically while she’s a little bit of a pathetic character, at least she’s not a pathetic traitor. Her loyalty to Victo is pretty straight forward at the end of the day.

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Is this getting any better? Not really.

Review Episode 5:

All this episode does is draw the two fights to a close. Kiri vs fire guy who turns out to be a complete idiot with a ‘tragic’ backstory (I really think writers are running out of ideas for tragic backstory), and Victo vs self-declared-time-goddess.

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Neither fight is particularly interesting. Both Victo and Kiri pull out something random as a twist that is, I guess, supposed to be clever but basically it is the we’re the protagonists and we’re not going to lose move. In Kiri’s case it kind of works simply because we know he wasn’t trusting Mina before they entered the place so some basic preparations make sense, in Victo’s it makes very little. But still, watching Kiri beat a guy that is completely useless isn’t exactly satisfying.

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Watching Victo get beaten up before his final move on the other hand was a bit more satisfying, though he ended up technically winning the fight and to be honest, I’d have happily watched him get pounded into the ground.

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The writing is still pretty dreadful and while they are doing some fun things with speed up and slow down the plot of this hasn’t progressed in nearly three episodes because they’ve been so busy showing us these ‘cool’ fight sequences. Pretty forgettable stuff, really.


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My Hero Academia Episodes 27 + 28: Time For a Power Up

Review Episode 27:

No surprise that most of this episode focusses on Midoriya’s meeting with Gran Torino and learning a little bit more about his power. The other kids get a look in as we see the start of their internships and they realise reality is quite different from their dreams. That said, I have to wonder why Gran Torino just had to be the cliché mentor character. Small, acts crazy, and gives obscure advice rather than actually clearly explaining a process. I get there is some joy in seeing Midoriya figure it out for himself, but surely that is time that could have been spent on something better.

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Compared to some of the episodes that have come before it, this one is neither particularly good or bad, but it does progress the story and the new opening is kind of interesting (I’ll see if it grows on me after a few more episodes).

Review Episode 28:

Please tell me that they aren’t really going to kill Iida. It seems a little dark but crazier things have happened I guess.

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Anyway, Midoriya continues training and he’s on a train to Tokyo when a villain and a hero crash into the side of the train leading to Gran Torino launching himself into the fight. Midoriya is still on the train though so I wonder if he’s going to jump into the fray or watch from the sidelines.

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The other kids are mostly being tortured by their mentors, in the usual way that interns are tortured as their ideals are crushed and ground into dust by the reality of the day to day job.

Overall, this was a pretty intense episode by the end and while I’m not sure what the villains are up to with this attack as it just seems like unplanned chaos, the hero killer has been pretty entertaining and seeing Midoriya figure out his quirk a little bit more has been great. I love how they are leaving it fully open for him to continue evolving so we can’t really criticise later power ups as a plot cheat.


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Chronos Ruler Episodes 2 + 3: Why Is Kiri Trying to Save Victo?

Review Episode 2:

This episode gives us a lot of information but a lot of it could be considered disinformation so I’m kind of waiting for the next episode to confirm anything that we’ve been told. That said, Victo is a seriously annoying character. He may have had his time eaten and regressed but I cannot believe Kiri hasn’t actually tried taking his head off with his sword yet.

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Outside of Kiri and Victo, we have a gambling town where everyone is desperate and a giant white horologue shows up and eats quite a lot of people’s time before Kiri and Victo give it a fight. Then a random girl shows up insisting she’s Victo’s wife and she essentially manipulates everything from that point forward. Not sure if Victo is just playing along for the fun of it and he’s actually aware of her less than honourable intentions, or maybe she actually is telling at least partially the truth. All I know for sure is that she’s a more annoying character than Victo (and what is with that outfit) and the two of them ganging up on Kiri was just kind of mean. I desperately wanted Kiri to push them out of the train.

Review Episode 3:

Well, that went well.

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I’m not really sure what the organisation was hoping to achieve but they kind of failed miserably at everything which more or less explains why they aren’t winning the war against the horologues. That and you have idiots who say stuff like this:

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Despite the poor comedy, terrible pacing, and generally bad writing, I found myself kind of enjoying this episode. Victo actually sort of took this seriously and ceased to be annoying for half an episode and then we may or may not have met the god of time. That could be kind of cool. Also, turns out that while Mina might work for the idiotic organisation, her enthusiasm for Victo was genuine.

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So, despite my misgivings that this is just going to end up being another waste of my time, I’m plunging on with this story and kind of hoping that Victo grows up (both literally and figuratively) and that maybe Kiri lightens up just a little.


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Chronos Ruler Episode 1: They’re Like A Less Useful Version of Dr Who

Overview:

I don’t have anything for this one. No write up on Crunchyroll where I watched it and I didn’t have any information going in. Basically two guys who can slow down and speed up time are fighting some demons who apparently eat human time and that’s all I’ve got so far.

Review:

This episode couldn’t really pick a tone. It didn’t know if it wanted to be a slapstick comedy at times, a dark and edgy fantasy piece, or an action story, and the end result is kind of uncomfortable to watch even while there are some good moments in amongst the clutter. Unfortunately this show is definitely giving in to the worst trait of so many fantasy and science fiction stories in that they are trying to be mysterious for the sake of it, and then our protagonists end up monologuing mid-battle to explain a whole bunch of stuff that could have been said ealier.

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Still, there could be something in this story so I’ll give it another episode or two. If nothing else, the time eating demons are kind of cool to look at and the time manipulation element is kind of interesting, even if they’ve made it clear no actual time travel is going to take place.

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Whether I stick this one out for the season really depends on how the story unfolds from here.


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Series Review

Overview:

Continuing on from season 1 after the fight with Annie, the scouts are trying to investigate when reports of titans inside the walls come in. Then we spend a lot of time running around and screaming. It is attack on titan afterall. I reviewed individual episodes of this while it was airing so if you are interested in my thoughts on the episodes click here.

Review:

This season was very much like season one for me in that I really loved the first half and let myself get swept away with it, and then in the second half the nagging feeling that this show can’t remember that it is actually supposed to have a plot started kicking in. The difference being that season one started with that incredible titan attack sequence that just blew me away and sucked me straight into the story whereas season two’s first episode, while it had its own charm, just isn’t going to stack up. The other major difference being with half as many episodes, things derailed a bit faster this time round then last time.

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Before I get into the positives, of which there are many given despite my complaints I’m still watching this show and still actually hopeful season 3 will come out next year as announced, I am going to go through my major issues with this season.

The first is the pacing and the way plot points are introduced and dealt with. Attack on Titan does not have good pacing. It didn’t in season 1 and it hasn’t fixed the issue in season 2. The Beast Titan makes an appearance early on, we get one other appearance and then he vanishes until the tease right at the end of the series. Delaying information is a fine tactic for building suspense when done right. Something like ACCA did it very well. But in this instance we don’t have any clues or ideas and there’s no reminders of this particular plot point. It just kind of appears and then goes and nobody even seems to mention it thereafter. Much like the titans in the walls who seem important only no one seems to be in much of a rush to deal with that issue. Or what happened to Annie? Or the key from last season? And when did Eren actually become the hope for humanity? Stuff happens or is said but nothing is built on.

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Another problem, the first half of this season deals almost entirely with the side cast as each seems to get an episode focus and then once they are reunited the focus shifts entirely onto Eren and Reiner. And while some of these episodes are very good (more on that when I get to the positives), there isn’t really a lot of cohesion between these stories and when we eventually slam all these characters together only a few actually survive all these plots being crammed together to have any further relevance. It kind of feels like most of those episodes exist only so you stop calling Sasha ‘potato girl’ and can actually distinguish characters from the support cast if you have never read the manga.

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Honestly, the show really only knows how to deal with one thing at a time. There’s never any subtlety in the presentation and as a direct result when we are investigating the titans in the wall, that’s all we’re doing. When we are learning about Ymir’s back story, that’s all we’re doing. While some shows might get away with that, Attack on Titan has created the problem of far too many ideas, and if it is only dealing with one at a time that means it has shelved everything else and the audience is just left waiting. I think Eren’s basement got mentioned once in this second season. Season 1 it seemed like a big deal but apparently it isn’t a big enough deal that we actually need to mention it or even seem to remember it. More importantly, once the action starts, all of the ideas kind of get tossed and instead we just get to see this show be cool action.

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Of course my final major issue is our supposed protagonist, Eren. He says it himself that he hasn’t changed at all and while he might have said that in the midst of understandable depression and desperation, it really rang far too true. He hasn’t changed. He’s the same angry little kid shouting at the world and just kind of demanding that it fix itself in a way that benefits him. While he has had some development over the two seasons, he’s still just plain unlikable. The fact that the other scouts seems to realise he is the single most irritating person in the world doesn’t help. It isn’t exactly surprising that his return to the main group at mid-season marked the down-turn in my enjoyment of the show.

So now that it sounds like I hate the show, I’m going to turn this around and tell you why you should probably watch this season anyway (if you haven’t already).

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For all its faults with story and character, Attack on Titan gets one thing right every single time. It gets into the audience’s head and it moves the audience. Whether it is the visual spectacle and tragedy of Mike getting torn apart at the start of the season, the horrified expressions on the young scouts faces as they realise that the older scouts (the only ones with weapons) have finally lost and are being eaten alive by titans, Reiner’s casual but show stopping declaration that he was the armoured titan, of the final episode of this season where they mirrored the death of Eren’s mother right in front of him yet again, this show manages to make you sit up and take notice. It might be shock, it might be sadness, it might be anger, but while watching you feel these emotions surging through you and these images and the sounds stick in your head after the episodes are done. Plus, the titan tossingmoment in the final battle was kind of fantastic. This season is worth watching just for the touching Eren/Mikasa moment in the final episode. As much as I dislike both of those characters, that was one excellently handled emotional point.

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Part of this is due to the artwork. The world, the titans, and the characters while not beautiful (not the right descriptor) are perfectly suited to the story they are telling. There’s an enormous focus on character reactions to the horror surrounding them and this is told largely through their eyes and they are impressively expressive. The titans this season no longer had the surprise factor that season one gave them, but they still managed to make them suitably creepy and devastating. Even the smaller titans were made incredibly terrifying, particularly when Sasha was facing off with one without and gear. There’s a few moments where the animation might be off, but this show is still incredibly impressive from a visual point of view.

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The music also remains on point. It took nearly half the season before the theme song grew on me but it certainly did and while I still don’t understand the point of some of the visuals in that opening, I actually began looking forward to it as it framed the episode nicely. However, it is the music and sound-effects throughout the episodes that will really just drag you in. They aren’t intrusive but rather add to an immersive viewing experience. The show also makes fairly affective use of silence in the final episode which was a pretty excellent choice.

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So pretty much if you are going to sit a pick faults with the storyline, you will most definitely find them. If you want to pull characters apart and look at whether they seem like real people or have real motivations or any kind of normal reaction to situations, you will probably find it fairly easy to fault this season. If you think too hard about all the story threads that seem to get pulled into the spot light for a brief moment and then tossed aside, you will absolutely be disappointed. However, if you strap in and just watch, you will probably get swept away by the grandeur of the moment and watch some pretty cool fights and some really tragic deaths.

My review of season 1 finished like this:

It’s beautiful, fast paced, and dramatic and when it is at its best it truly shines and those moments will carry you over the slower bits. If we actually get a continuation that matches the feel and quality of season 1 then this could be a very memorable anime. Otherwise I think it is one of those ones that had its moment in the sun but without finishing won’t have staying power.

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My thoughts have changed a little as season 2 was far better during the first half when it did finally focus on some of the more interesting characters. However, it still suffers from a lack of ending and without knowing where all these conspiracies and plot threads are going there’s little other than a wait and see mind set when thinking about how I feel overall about this show.

That said, I’d love to know your thoughts on season 2 if you’ve finished watching it. I know some of the bloggers out there loved this season a lot more than I did but some have been more critical please feel free to share your stance now that it has concluded.


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Granblue Fantasy Episode 12

Review:

All the way through this I just kept thinking it felt like the end of a season. It wasn’t giving us answers but it just felt like this was the final battle. Turns out episode 13 is an extra so that feeling wasn’t misplaced.

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So then I have to ask, what was the point? Yes, the journey continues and there are all these new characters with very cool fighting skills (meanwhile where were these guys during the last fight in this city) and all the old faces have returned but we’re no closer to the island of the astrals, Gran’s father, or knowing anything about Lyria. Though, Lyria did at least get a nice character point where she finally wants to know about herself. Still, 12 episodes of floating around, fighting the occasional primal beast, meeting people and the like; fun as it was, it really is kind of pointless.

Still, watch Gran win another fight? Okay.

Granblue Fantasy is available on Crunchyroll.


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My Hero Academia Season 2 Episode 25

Review:

What was that? Oh, that was my heart skipping a beat and me forgetting that I can actually breathe. We’re all good. Given this episode gave us a recap, reminding us how angry Bakugo is as a character all the time and a prep room confrontation between the two characters before we got to the fight and it was still all over before the 12 minutes mark, it has no business hitting me that hard. By the way, the next part contains major spoilers for the fight so go watch it first.

Are we sure that Bakugo isn’t secretly evil?

This fight was short but really, really intense. I think all the big shonen titles of the last twenty years could take a lesson from this. Stretching a fight over three, four, five episodes (half a season) does not make it more powerful. Getting the audience invested in the participants, having some emotional drive, and hitting hard and fast, that is going to knock the audience back in their chairs and have them wondering how many times they can watch it before the internet crashes.

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Bakugo is angry for most of this fight. Like, furious. Almost manic would probably be the best descriptor. He isn’t angry at Todoroki. I’m somehow doubting Bakugo has actually seen Todoroki as a person yet given I don’t think he’s used his name once. No, Bakugo is angry at himself and the situation. Once again, Midoriya has beaten him at his own self-imposed standard and that is killing him just a little bit inside. And outside. He isn’t given to keeping his feelings to himself.

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Todoroki on the other hand is emotionally torn in two. He wants to win and he knows he needs to use his left side. He is hearing Midoriya’s words from their fight and logically he understands their meaning and knows the truth of it. He actually does start bringing out his flames after Midoriya calls out from the stands, and then… Well then reality kicks in. A lifetime of trauma doesn’t just vanish because of one fight and a pep talk.

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Before Bakugo’s attack even reaches him, Todoroki has conceded defeat and his flames have gone out. It means Bakugo has convincingly won the tournament but it means his actual victory, showing that he is better than Midoriya, has been snatched from his grasp.

I was kind of glad when they knocked him out before declaring him the winner. He actually looks really peaceful when he’s unconscious.

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So, if all that happens in 12 minutes what happens for the rest of the episode?

We have an award ceremony where All Might shows once again he is a giant dork yet everyone loves him. Except maybe Bakugo. That kid does not know when to just let something go and I kind of love him for it. He might be a socially inept, explosively angry, bully at times but his genuine drive to always be the best is kind of admirable. A lot of characters say they want to be the best but they almost always succumb to being ‘nice’ or helping others. Bakugo isn’t hindered by the usual constraints put on protagonists because he isn’t the protagonist. This allows us to see the true personality of someone who strives to be better than other at any cost. Even if he wants to be a better hero which is kind of arguably a good thing.

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We also spend some time with Iida and his family in the hospital before we head back to the classroom and the students are told they have a couple of days off class. It’s the final scenes here where we see the reflection and regrouping process these characters go through that takes this episode from being cool action to actually being another excellent building block in this story.

While we see numerous characters I’m only focussing on these two. Todoroki visits his mother. He realises he has to overcome his block on his own and he’s finally ready to take that first step. Midoriya on the other hand has taken Rescue Girl’s words to heart and has finally realised his reckless actions cause others to worry. He is also finally ready to go to the next level and wants to take that first step.

With that, the whole class is fired up and ready to get stronger and with the villains briefly being shown plus the condition Iida’s brother is in, it is clear it won’t take long before the students are going to be thrown back in the deep end.

Seriously brilliant episode of a show that has really delivered this arc well.

My Hero Academia is available on Crunchyroll.


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 11

Review:

There were so many moments in this episode where I just had to stop the episode and ask what on earth they were doing. Admittedly, the first half of this second season seemed like it had finally taken the hint and was working to develop the world and characters as well as lead us toward some answers. It was really, really enjoyable and nicely done. This second half however has devolved into more or less the mess that the second half of season one fell into. Events occurring and then more events (with some shouting in between).

There’s only one episode left of this second season. At this point there is zero chance of anything happening to allow this to end well (or logically, sensibly, or satisfyingly) and that is a real shame. Unfortunately, they will always choose cool over substance in this plot and as a direct result we have a mess.

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When did Attack on Titan start doing panels? I’m thinking back through all the previous episodes and when this style might have been used and I’m drawing an absolute blank. Why in the second last episode of the second season would you suddenly decide to do this? A more appropriate time to try this would have been back when Reiner pulled Eren aside to reveal he was a titan. A reveal of that magnitude would have deserved an artistically different choice and wouldn’t have felt as out of place as this moment did.

Then we have Mikasa revealing what we already knew. Her sole reason for existing in this anime and in this world is to save Eren. While I wouldn’t mind her wanting to save Eren while accomplishing other goals, her absolute single minded focus makes her an incredibly dull character. She doesn’t talk much, but she wastes what few words she has this episode on threats and lines you would expect a b grade villain to utter. Her absolute dismissal of the situation for the other characters also pretty much shuts down any possibility that we might find out their actual motives because you know, we still don’t know where they are going or why they are wanting Eren or Christa other than vaguely knowing they are going ‘home’ and that Christa knows something about the walls (not sure what), and Eren might be something but that point hasn’t been explained and yet:

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Where did that come from? And why does everyone just buy that? Since when was Eren being held up as humanities only hope? So frustrated right now.

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But hey, looks cool. Okay, some people will really enjoy this because we’re back to fast paced action for most of the second half of the episode and it is a cool fight (even if a lot of what is going on makes very little sense and once again a lot of the ‘extras’ get mowed down without drawing a weapon – aren’t these guys trained).  The titan throwing at the end was particularly cool to look at. But cool does not make for a good storyline and to be honest, the parts of the story I’m wanting to see kind of get buried here.

One more to go. I’d cross my fingers and hope for a worthwhile conclusion but I’d really hate to end up disappointed so at this stage I’ll just kind of hope for a really cool fight and maybe I’ll get that.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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