The Silver Guardian Series Review

Overview:

The synopsis on Crunchyroll tells me this is the story of Suigin saving Riku Rei. It kind of starts that way from about episode 2 to episode 4 or 5. After that I’m not so sure even the writers knew what this show was actually about. I reviewed this show weekly so if you are interested in my episode thoughts click here.

Review:

While I will admit this show is not as toxic as something along the lines of Hand Shakers, it must be said that this is probably my second biggest regret for the year that I didn’t just drop it at episode 1. Part of me kept hoping this would turn into something like Spiritpact and build on its strengths recovering from a poor first episode, and while the first half of the series certainly showed promise, the second half just kind of gave up caring.

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But rather than just hit out with poor comparisons and the like, I should probably review the show itself. The problem is, I don’t have much to say because everything is still kind of in introductory mode even though we’re 12 episodes in. A season 2 is apparently on the cards (why I do not know) but it isn’t until next year and by them I’m pretty sure nobody is going to remember this even came out.

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Keeping it simple then, let’s look at characters. Suigin is the main character and he is generic, nice protagonist model C with a side dish of poor student / obsessed gamer just in case we didn’t think he had any distinguishing traits. Oh, and he wears a red scarf. This seems significant in episode 1 and in the opening but never after that.

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Riku Rei starts out looking like she might be a character. The opening narration is done by her in episode 1. She’s the kidnap victim that sends Suigin racing around trying to save her (for about half an episode before we just get into random game play situations). Her father developed the game that she’s apparently trapped in after his murder. It kind of seems like she should have some personality but nope.

Everyone else is pretty much forgettable including the one note villains who don’t have anywhere near enough presence to be considered memorable or interesting.

The story itself is simple enough but for some reason the show doesn’t want to focus on the story. Suigin, go save Riku Rei. This isn’t that hard a concept to get. Why are you raiding that tomb? Why are you out of the game at all given she’s inside it? Why haven’t you actually finished the tutorial yet? Oh, and why are we watching some random players randomly playing? How do they relate? The second half of this show is maddeningly frustrating in how it wants to stretch out its wafer-thin plot as far as it possibly can even if that means smashing the wafer to pieces and scattering the dust from here until wherever the end of the series actually is.

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Visually, it works. The music is pretty cool at times. individual fights are kind of interesting. But as a whole this is one to skip. Short episodes or not (13 minutes), we all have better things to do than wait for this show to find its own plot.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 12

Review:

Seriously, I haven’t the slightest idea what the intention was. This apparently has a second season planned for next year and I won’t be watching it.

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Really?

We start off in the fight Suigin dropped into last week. He still can’t actually fight so Twin Star turns into a dragon and ends the battle.

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That’s it. No mention of Riku nor do we find out what Suigin wanted from the commentator guy or how any of this is connected to anything we saw in episode 1. I got nothing. There’s a fight. There’s some poor jokes. Then it ends and that’s all. I’ll be reviewing this whole series shortly but I can already tell you not to bother if you haven’t tried this show.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 11

Review:

I love that this show has absolutely zero sense of urgency or desire to actually deal with its main plot. Otherwise, I might actually start to feel concerned for some of the characters. Instead, our kidnap victim is now doing a Princess Leia impersonation and for some reason joining weird cult guys though we have no explanation as to why they want her to join or why she’s going along with it. But that’s such a minor point in this episode why dwell on it at all.

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Instead, let’s meet random new character with a sister complex who doesn’t seem to understand that the game money isn’t money in the real world, and is for some reason willing to sacrifice all his memories to win one fight, and didn’t actually properly research all the rules of the fight before literally dropping into it. Yep, I’m feeling a real desire to get behind this character.

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And that’s the episode. There’s also the confusion of the Crunchyroll episode title saying Final but a bit of searching on Google suggests there are two more episodes and given the title within the episode wasn’t Final and even the side story this episode didn’t end, I’m guessing there are more episodes to go. Either way, this one is more on count down at this point and I’m only watching it through because I made it this far.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 10

Review:

I moved the Silver Guardian down to the ‘They Made This’ category after episode 10. The first episode of this was poorly done but intriguing. We then had about 4 or so episodes where they were actually building a reasonable story with two characters that, while generic, we could get behind. Then we’ve had the last few episodes. This episode we do not see Riku Rei at all (though she is talked about) and Suigin is almost a no show. Instead we follow the random gamers introduced fairly randomly a few episodes a go and to be honest it isn’t interesting and I’m not sure how it was even relevant to the main plot line.

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Probably my biggest problem with this is one of the villain’s henchmen actually asks the villain outright why Riku Rei is so important (something the viewers would really like to know as well at this point) and the villain just says ‘I know you probably don’t understand’. Absolutely, because nothing has been said and no hints have been given. I don’t mind shows that delay reveals but that’s when there’s some solid foreshadowing and groundwork going on. This show just feels like it is leaping from idea to idea and making it up as it goes. Honestly not really enjoying watching at this point and if it wasn’t for my curiosity about how we get to the events we saw in episode 1, I would probably be doing a late season drop at this point.

The Silver Guardian is availabe on Crunchyroll.


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Tales of Zestiria The X Season 2 Series Review

Overview:

I previously reviewed season 1 of Tales of Zestiria the X, the story of Sorey the Shepherd on his journey to purify the malevolence of the world. Season 2 continues Sorey’s journey as he eventually gets around to dealing with the Lord of Calamity. I reviewed this week to week here.

Review (spoilers for the final battle included – fair warning):

While I will freely admit that based on a game adaptations have a terrible reputation, there are quite a few that I enjoy. The original Resident Evil movie is highly entertaining (if silly) fun and there have been a number of anime I’ve enjoyed before later finding out they were based on games I’d never heard of. Tales of Zestiria I knew was a game because unless I disconnected from the internet entirely it would have been impossible to miss that, and yet season 1, despite some issues, was fairly enjoyable.

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Season 2 spent a lot of time correcting that and came into line with the expectations of based on game adaptations. The sense of fun disappeared from the series entirely and a lot of the second season lacked direction or purpose. We spent a lot of time with Rose early in the season but in the end she and Alisha kind of seemed like excess baggage by the time we got to the final fight sequence. Some characters seemed to appear only because they must have actually been significant in the game but all they did here was distract and clutter an already cluttered narrative. They had no impact because in the anime they served no purpose.

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Though perhaps the biggest issue season 2 had was the final episode just didn’t come out. No announcement in an obvious location about what had happened. It was a week after I stopped looking for the episode when I read on someone else’s blog the episode was delayed until the end of the month, but it wasn’t like anyone was going out of there way to make it known why there was a delay or that the delay had even happened. Part of the blame for that has to go on to the distributors though who just didn’t put up the next episode and didn’t bother to put any kind of notice on their blogs or email out to their subscribers. Amazingly enough, people don’t get half as annoyed by delays when informed about them.

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Still, when you are already mid-way through a final boss battle and then the next episode just doesn’t show up, it really does break the flow. And when the show was already so problematic you had considered not watching further about mid-season, if not for my fairly insane levels of curiosity I may never have gone back to watch the final episode.

All things considered, it didn’t matter whether I watched it or not. By the time we get close to the final episode we already know what to expect from Tales of Zestiria. They have no commitment to theme. No commitment to actual narrative. Sorey is good because he is. There’s no other reason. He believes he can save the world because he does. There’s no other reason. Others have faith in him because they do. Some of them kind of have reason for this, but most just blindly listen to his unsupported assertions and after a half-hearted counter-argument, accept them as truth from that point forward.

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There’s lots of shared smiles, hand holding, and pep talks, but little to support the connections that are supposedly existing between the main group. Even Sorey’s final solution for dealing with the Lord of Calamity is just him asserting that he can do it and it will work and the others once again accept it on faith that it will happen. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that plan.

It’s overly optimistic foolishness at best, and even if you put your own logic on hold and also just accept that whatever Sorey says is right for whatever reason, the narrative is still deeply unsatisfying. Most of the season they just kind of go from one minor issue or character drama to the next until the henchmen for the bad guy shows up and tells them where he is. She even escorts them there, before she gets turned into a dragon and ceases to have any relevance to the plot. Then again, the bad guy couldn’t have just sent Sorey a carrier pigeon and a map for all the impact said henchmen had so maybe her turning into a dragon was the most useful thing they could do with her.

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They finally get through all the dragons and face the Lord of Calamity and suddenly we can combine powers and meanwhile, Calamity guy is just going to stand there and wait for them to discuss it, do it, and then get used to it. As a villain he kind of sucks. I know someone will argue that the human inside him actually wanted to be purified or killed all along and so was allowing Sorey the chance to do so, but then why is he actually scary? And why did the human inside allow him to stir up so much chaos and slaughter at the end of season 1 if the human actually cared about what was going on? It is inconsistent and makes no sense.

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Still, we could have at least had a dramatic ending if the show had actually been willing to commit to self-sacrifice for the greater good and yet even then it fails to follow through.

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All and all, Tales of Zestiria season 2 is full of pretty light shows and transformations, has a few minor character moments that are half-way interesting even if the overall plot gets thrown aside for these to fit in, it does bring things to a resolution, but is mostly a disappointment to watch and to be honest there’s plenty of better things you could be watching.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 9

Review:

It’s always a bad sign for a series when I’m googling the episode count by the end of the episode. Basically I’m wondering whether this is close enough to done that I should just see it through or whether I should let it go. The concept was always interesting enough and earlier episodes (not episode 1) kind of felt like they were moving forward. However, the last two episodes have just kind of felt like we’re traipsing through the worst clichés of the stuck in the video game/chosen hero genres and they aren’t being done particularly well.

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Seriously, who is buying this?

In all seriousness, this episode is entirely pointless. The bad guys we met previously are now robbing random players, Suigin is researching Grave Buster (which seems to have a fairly complex history considering it was meant to be a new launch game), and for some reason the bad guy who is holding Riku Rei calls to introduce himself. That last part is still baffling me as to why.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 8

Review:

So the grandfather’s left over data apparently came with an expiry because it broke apart and disappeared which would have been fine, but if he knew his time was limited maybe he should have been a bit more forthcoming with some actual explanations. Such as what is a tomb guardian, why are they needed, what happened to all the others, and what are they guarding against? You know, just things that would make this plot make sense. Poor Riku Rei though. She’s really just be turned into the prize at the end of the game. Her only mention this week came when the grandfather pointed out that protecting the tomb would also save Riku Rei (no actual advice on why it would help though).

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My other criticism this week goes to the antagonists. When the throw a tantrum like Team Rocket it really makes it hard to feel any sense of menace so you kind of disconnect from caring about the conflict.

All and all, this show has remained watchable but I’m not going to recommend it anytime soon. We’ll see if they manage to actually sort out the mess by the end.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 7

Review:

There’s a lot that could be said about this episode. We could talk about the uselessness of Twin Star who showed up, pressed herself against Suigin in the previous episode before dragging him into the game, and then ran away during this episode at the first sign of trouble. Or we could talk about the weird cat girl thing who appears in suggestive poses to kiss Suigin (apparently unsealing a memory though why that is significant or how it was sealed are clearly issues this show is unconcerned with).

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But let’s ignore that and focus instead on the appearance of the dead guy, or rather the dead guy’s data. He gets bonus points for figuring out a cool introduction and then loses several million points for not getting to a point.

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Really, this episode introduces nothing other than some potential villains (who probably aren’t going to be hanging around too long) and the fact that Suigin can talk to his grandfather so might get some actual information. We learn nothing about how the game mechanics work or where Riku Rei is (other than a short snippet of her being bathed by mermaids at the end of the episode – why?).

Needless to say, despite enjoying the last few episodes, this one felt like a definite step backward.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 6

Review:

It’s taken six episodes but hey we finally went inside the game they told us in the write up they were going to get sucked inside of. Despite the sarcasm of that statement, I was going to say that this was a surprisingly good episode in a series that started out very ordinary and has progressively gotten more compelling. I was going to say that.

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Then, in a 13 minute episode, at around the 10 minute mark we suddenly got a recap of the story so far. It’s been 6 half episodes. Why do we need a recap? Are you concerned that people can’t recall barely 80 minutes worth of story? Anyway, until that point, I was oddly enjoying watching Rei get kidnapped and Suigin come face to face with the fact that real world problems aren’t easily solved and the whole getting sucked into the game thing (even if it did include another depiction of a woman whose breasts defy the laws of physics) was kind of cool.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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The Silver Guardian Episode 5

Review:

The murder is finally addressed and the fallout from it really keeps things moving forward. Riku is understandably upset, but more than that she’s targeted. Suigin is given a gift and learns that he was actually a relative and also gets a lot of money in the new game (which if I remember they did say the players strength would be related to wealth – so significant clearly).

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Still, the real point to note from this episode is we finally see the other executives in the game company and essentially the villain of the piece and it is a scene straight out of a Saturday morning cartoon from twenty years ago, complete with evil chuckle. I wasn’t expecting much of a master plan from the villains, but surely they could at least avoid draping themselves entirely in cliché.

The Silver Guardian is available on Crunchyroll.


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