Bastion Game Review: Short and Sweet

About two weeks ago I put up my first impressions of this game. Now I’ve completed the story mode, what are my final thoughts on the game?

Review:

Because I’ve already done my basic impressions of the game, I’m going to put this in a straight plus/minus format. I will admit that even though I finished the story, that opened up other play modes and things that I have yet to try.

Plus +

The artwork and music are adorable in this game. They both work really well. It is visually interesting and while the music may get a little repetitive toward the end of the story campaign, it really suits the game itself and adds to a very immersive experience.

Minus –

All up, I completed the story campaign in just under 10 hours. That’s with my save disappearing midway along and having to restart as well as some random deaths due to being overly curious about what might happen if. Basically, I probably could have finished this several hours before I did if I’d actually just focussed on finishing the story. That’s kind of a problem given I’m not that good at games and I really should take awhile to finish them. While I feel I got my money’s worth out of this game, I bought it on sale and I don’t know that I’d feel as happy about the value for money if I’d paid full price.

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Plus +

While the story is relatively linear, the end does give you a two choices which I assume changes the ending in some meaningful way (or at least gives you a different closing monologue). That’s kind of made me curious enough that I want to play through again just to make different choices and see what happens. It is a very minor thing and it would have been nice if earlier on you’d been given some choices. Still, it was kind of nice at the end to feel like you controlled how it played out.

Minus –

The final level firstly adds a hop mechanic making a whole section of the level a platformer. Yet the visuals and the controls don’t really allow for the kind of precision that would make platforming fun and given you hadn’t had to do this the entire rest of the game just felt like a way to stretch out the final level and add a level of irritation to the process. The second thing is that it then swaps out all of your weapon choices for the battering ram. While that is a very cool weapon, I’m left wondering why I spent all that time training and levelling up the rest of my equipment if they were just going to leave me with a new and random weapon right at the end.

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Plus +

I’ll just say it, this is a fun game. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Other than a few random gimmicks in the last level, it doesn’t overly clutter itself with unnecessary mechanics. The story works and the narration, while not as great as I might have been lead to believe was certainly enjoyable to listen to. Basically, I play games for fun and this one managed to give me hours of fun (though also not as many hours as I would have liked).

Minus –

While at first it seems like the range of enemies is pretty good, they all have more or less the same attack patterns. This game ups difficulty by adding more enemies onto the screen but once you get the canon that just makes it amusing to see how many enemies you can simultaneously wipe out. Basically, the difficulty in this game isn’t very high and it doesn’t really do anything to make it more difficulty. Plus, the attack patterns are very repetitive so once you’ve chosen your favourite combination of gear you will slip in a fairly straight pattern of attack yourself.

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Overall, this was a fun game experience and as I said, on finishing and watching the credits through, I have unlocked some other stuff which I’ll have to get in and try, but I’m pretty happy with this steam sale purchase.


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Fastest Finger First Episodes 4 + 5: Practice Makes Perfect I Guess

Review Episode 4:

I’m going to point out Koshiyama’s mother is really harsh. Admittedly, he is using a book to learn how to interact with people and socialize given he wants to join the quiz circle but her telling him he needs to work on his look first was kind of brutal. Fortunately he has other things on his mind and doesn’t seem to dwell on the fact that his mother’s only appearance in the anime so far seems to exist to tear his self-esteem apart. Then again, maybe he needs to go back to that book on social skills because suggesting the girl you are doubling on a bike is fat is probably not helping your situation unless she’s also socially inept, in which case you’ll be just fine.

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This episode steps back a bit and is going back over the foundations of question structures. We’ve already been exposed to these while watching the previous episodes, but this is a nice recap and a good chance to consolidate knowledge. We also meet the girl who is probably going to round out their club or maybe she’ll make the buzzers. Basically not a lot happens this episode and yet it feels like this was needed to really bring the characters together and to give the audience a chance to actually focus on the characters.

Review Episode 5:

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We’re having a joint practice this episode and of course the crazy buzzing pushing guy from the other match is there. Only he seems to be spectating not playing which results in a fairly cute competition with the other three players from the school. It’s a team match and we see that Koshiyama and friends are certainly working better as a team even if they aren’t yet there in terms of memorizing the questions.

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And yes, the random library girl from last week is going to make the quiz team some buzzers and she demonstrates this by taking apart the guest school’s buzzer set. I think she’s going to be a fun character.

I’m not actually sure if this show is heading somewhere, though it does seem to be trying to set up some kind of rivalry between Koshiyama and Mikuriya and that could be kind of fun once Koshiyama has figured out his own playing style.

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This continues to be really enjoyable. I particularly liked the quiz this episode because most of the questions were pretty general knowledge with only a few that required any kind of specialist japanese knowledge to answer so I was having a lot of fun playing along with them and seeing if I could get the answers first. The show itself remains watchable but is only really fun if you like quizzes.


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Initial Thoughts on Bastion

Before I went on a bit of a break, Steam was having a sale (a fact that pretty much everyone on Twitter kept reminding me about so against my better judgement I checked it out). One of the many games I picked up during the sale was Bastion. A game I’d watched many people play through parts of it, read and watched reviews of, and had always been kind of interested in but never gotten around to actually buying and playing. My question going in was whether the game would live up to the hype around it.

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The answer is yes and no.

One of the things that was emphasised about this game in a lot of the reviews was the narration and how clever it was, how it responded to what the player was doing, how funny it was, etc. While I will admit I’ve enjoyed the narration, given the story is fairly linear, in even levels don’t offer a lot of choice about where to go or what to do, the narration hasn’t really matched expectations of great game narration set by games like The Stanley Parable that truly managed to make the narrator feel like someone watching the game. At times the narrator in Bastion prompts your actions by telling you what you need to do and this sometimes happens when I’m in the process of wondering what would happen if I did something else (usually something stupid but I like trying things in games just to see what happens). It is like the narrator is drawing me out of the game I want to play and leading me along a prescribed path. Though there are other times where the narrator clearly responded to my actions like when it mocked me for attacking every single plant on the screen like I was going to win a prize (who knows, I might have).

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Outside of the narration, Bastion is a pretty straight forward set up for a game. You wake up (an unnamed kid) in a world that has suffered some sort of calamity. As you start to walk, a path appears. Once you get to the end of the first area you go to a hub world where you slowly rebuild the world as you collect various bits and pieces. This sounds like you’d have some freedom of travel but there are seldom many choices of where to travel from the hub world with only one or two new areas opening at any one time.

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You also collect a range of weapons and skills which you can try out different combinations on but pretty much once you find a combo that works for your playing style you kind of stick with it for most the levels. Then the game decides it doesn’t want you doing that and some levels you will find new weapons which are then automatically fitted and you can’t change your weapon selection without visiting a specific building either in the hub world or if you are lucky enough to find one in the level. Sometimes this serves a practical purpose as you need that new weapon for an enemy coming up, but other times it leaves you playing awkwardly and stumbling along until you can switch out to your usual gear.

The game is also incredibly easy. Deaths are few and far between and the consequences for death pretty non-existent other than level progress being lost but the levels are so short that isn’t a drama. And it acknowledges that the game is easy by offering the chance to pray to various gods which might make the enemies stronger or more resistant to physical attacks or whatever in exchange for more experience. If you die while the idols are making the game harder, when you restart the level it offers to turn this off or allows you to start with the penalties still in place.

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For all that though, the story being woven by the narrator about the world before the calamity is kind of compelling and while the narration may not be mind blowing, it is really easy on the ears while playing and you can kind of get caught up in just listening to the story and forget what you are actually doing. It is also a really pretty game to look at although at times it is difficult to see which direction the path is going (leading to the occasional plummet into thin air – though the consequences of plummeting are pretty low so have at it).

Basically, I’m having a lot of fun working my way through the story and while I might like it to be a bit more challenging and the narration is not as good as my expectations would have led me to believe it should be, I’m really glad I picked this up. Hopefully I’ll finish the story and review the whole game eventually.


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Gamers Episode 1: Loners Going to Lone

Overview:

“Would you like to be with me… in the Gamers Club?” Amano Keita is a perfectly mediocre loner with no particular distinguishing features other than his love for games. One day, his school’s prettiest girl and Gamer Club President Tendo Karen suddenly calls out to him.

– From Crunchyroll.

Review:

There’s this thing I really hate about stories where they make out that being alone is the single worst thing that can happen to a person and the loner is almost always ‘cured’ when someone or something reaches out to them and helps them see themselves in a new light and gives them some confidence. While some people are alone and desperately want someone to reach out to them, there are genuinely people who are happy with their life being pretty spartan in terms of interactions with other people. So where does Gamers come into this? As a first episode it was going directly down the path of so many other stories, and then Amano turned the pretty blonde down.

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Admittedly, I don’t think his rejection is actually going to stick given its kind of clear he is going to join the club, but it was so nice for him to assert that he was happy playing games on his terms. It means, when he inevitably does join the club, this show doesn’t have to be about transforming him as some sort of charity case. More importantly, it gives his character time to figure out whether he really wants to join and why rather than being dragged into it by the pushy blonde which is the set up of so many other stories.

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I’m really sitting on the fence with this story. I’m not really into high school anime about clubs but I do love the sound track so far (gaming sound effects are releasing strong nostalgia vibes) and there have been enough moments of genuine amusement to make this seem like a promising pick up for the season. Still, this one is a wait and see.


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Sword Art Online Season 1 Series Review

Before I get into the review today, I just want to have a minor celebration as this is my 150th anime series review (admittedly, I am counting the SAO abridged series review that I did so maybe this is actually review 149). Whichever way, I was tossing up between SAO and Psycho Pass but I think I want to wait a bit more before trying to review Psycho Pass so SAO it is. Thanks to everyone who keeps reading these, hopefully they are either helpful or entertaining.

Overview:

I’m pretty sure everyone knows the story of SAO but essentially there’s a new game that uses technology that allows players to pretty much completely enter the game (or at least feel like they have) and on the day the game is launched the creator of the game essentially traps them all inside telling them they have to clear all 100 floors before they can log out. No problem then. Oh, and they’ll also die in real life if they die in the game due to some design in the equipment that allowed them to enter the game (because people are really likely to sell you a helmet that can fry your brain). Of course, that’s only the first arc and that takes up about half the season before we move into the second arc of fairy dance which is mostly about rescuing a Princess in a cage.

Review:

In case I seemed overly snarky in my overview, I’m just going to say this straight out, I love Sword Art Online. I get that the story has its flaws and that you could throw insults at most of the characters if you really, really wanted to, and yes there are some technical issues with the delivery of the show in some scenes while others are really beautifully done which kind of leads to an inconsistent viewing experience, but you know what, none of that actually matters to me. I loved this anime from episode one and through the entire first arc. I completely and totally fell in love with the virtual world and with watching Kirito face each challenge and overcome it. To point out how much I loved it I will say I only have three anime plush characters and Kirito is one of them (the other two being Maka from Soul Eater and Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon). So while I will admit there are issues with this anime, this review is more of a reasons why something doesn’t need to be perfect to be good.

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To be a bit logical about my approach I’m going to start with the plot. It is really incredibly simple and that’s fine. Here’s all these people trapped in a game that can kill them. Here’s the way out. Get from point A to point B and don’t die along the way. It can’t get much simpler. Of course with all of those different characters trapped in the game responding to this threat and challenge in different ways, there’s plenty of material to keep the story interesting even as the basic narrative works because it isn’t trying to be anything more than what it is. There’s no convoluted twists or surprise rules that come out of nowhere. Even Kirito admits SAO’s rules are always fair even when they suck. Although, that’s kind of what kills two moments in the first arc that should be really amazing.

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The first is the reveal of who or what Yui actually is. Up until that point, the programs and the game have run incredibly smoothly and all in the way in which the one who designed the game intended. So Yui as a program being cut away from the players makes no sense. Why create her in the first place if you aren’t going to let her function? And if you decided you didn’t need that function, why not just delete her? More importantly, why can she act outside of her program at all? I know they try and do an exposition dump explanation for this but it really doesn’t work with the rest of the setting and plot and mostly just feels like they really wanted to add in a cute child for Kirito and Asuna, which certainly works but you kind of have to check your logic at the start of the episode to really accept that.

The second part that is kind of faulty is the end of the arc itself. Previously, Kirito had received an item that would allow a dead player to be revived within 10 seconds of their death (which didn’t help him at all given the character he’d been trying to revive was well past that). The implication being that between your health bar hitting zero and the game frying your brain you had a 10 second grace period. So what’s with the conclusion to the arc when Asuna clearly gets herself killed and Kirito then does his game breaking move to win the fight though it ends in mutual destruction and there’s Asuna waiting for him, not yet dead. If they are trying to say that sequence took less than 10 seconds they are seriously kidding themselves.

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However, outside of those two issues where the rules the show itself has established seem to fall apart, the plot during the first arc is really well handled. We get the first episode where the world is established and we meet Kirito and Klein as they kind of stuff around and teach the audience the main game mechanics before we get the shock reveal that they are trapped. Then we time jump to the first boss fight which takes a major emotional toll on a lot of people. We keep time jumping for a bit given the series covers two years of time in half a season and we aren’t made to watch the players grinding. Instead we see the major events, we consider how they might affect the characters, and then we jump ahead and can see how the character has coped or not with previous events. For some, this method of narration is jarring and feels like a cheat, but to me it was kind of the perfect way to just get to the points we needed to see and yet still have that epic feeling of being trapped for two years. I honestly think seeing anymore of the boss fights or floor clearing would have been incredibly dull because they aren’t necessary to the overall character or plot development. Sure, they may have been cool fight sequences but without purpose it would just be filler.

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Unfortunately, then we move into the second arc and while my bigger concern with Fairy Dance is the characters and how they are treated, the plot itself is needlessly cluttered. Essentially everyone was saved at the end of the first arc except for those players who weren’t. They just didn’t wake up. Turns out they are trapped in a new game as experimental subjects, except Asuna who has just been put in a bird cage. As I said, I have issues with the treatment of the characters but this plot is so incredibly unnecessarily complex. If you want to experiment on people you have heaps of people logging in and out of the game every day. Surely you could run a few tests on them, alter their memories a bit, and send them home. Why trap someone in the game world forever? More importantly, why run an experiment inside a game? Why not just move that data outside of the game world altogether and then no one could come and release them because they wouldn’t be able to ‘beat’ the game?

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The other issue is that the events in Fairy Dance happen over an incredibly short period of time in the real world and it really felt like a story and scheme as grand (or insane) as that one, needed more time and to be properly fleshed out.

Basically, while I will rewatch the first arc of SAO endlessly, Fairy Dance isn’t anywhere near as interesting or compelling. The story is a victim of its own premise which was characters trapped and need to be free. End of first arc sees the characters get free. Its kind of done and no matter how you force scenarios after that to make dangers in the game world for them to face, the best story has already been completed. And that complaint could probably carry over to character development as well, particularly for Kirito. I like how he progresses during the course of the first arc but then he seems literally frozen in time after that just going through the motions of saving other characters.

But that’s kind of jumping ahead. Let’s wrap up plot. Regardless of whether this story has an intricate or deep plot, what SAO does is tell its story in a way that draws the audience in (and given the initial popularity of the show, even if people are on the hate wagon now, when it aired they were drawn in). The sweeping grandeur of the first episode is an effective hook and while events afterwards may not quite live up to that, they at least logically flow on for the most part and issues and complications are resolved in a meaningful way. Not to mention, it is fun. It’s fun in a way that other trapped in a video game stories haven’t really captured for me. Certainly there’s the high stakes threat of characters dying in both the game and the real world, but for the most part they are just kids bouncing around a video game world and it is fun to be a part of that.

Onto the characters then.

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Okay, Kirito does gain quite the harem by the end but that’s in the most superficial sense of the word. It becomes quite clear early on that Asuna is the only one Kirito actually sees as a real person and not a ‘little sister’ or ‘damsel in distress’. So while he certainly helps the other cast members out and they certainly do follow him around there-after, it isn’t the usual harem like setting where the protagonist hasn’t made a choice. More importantly, even the girls themselves seems to realise Kirito has already made his choice and so seem fairly happy to take on that ‘little sister’ role. So with that out of the way, what is Kirito actually like as a character?

In episode 1 he’s great and a lot of the reason I was sold so heavily on this series. He’s a gamer clich√© and what little we learn of his life outside of the game is that he has some issue with his family, spends a lot of time alone in his room, and is obsessed with games. he then enters the virtual world and we see him come alive. This resonated so well with me as I kind of had the same experience as a teenager where I just didn’t feel like I fit and games and stories were something that could make me feel alive. Despite being built off a cliche, they spend a bit of time showing us that while he is anti-social even in the gaming world, he does want some human connections so he isn’t willing to sever ties instantly with Klein but nor is he willing to take on Klein’s friends as part of his responsibility. The process of Kirito making the decision on how to act at the end of that first episode really made him feel real. He did make a rough call and he did end up abandoning everyone else to try to secure his own survival, but he’s a teenage boy who doesn’t get how to be around others in the first place. He was human enough to try to reach out and save Klein because he thought he could without exposing himself to unnecessary danger, but he wasn’t willing to risk his own life for strangers. It just made him a very believable person to me.

The time jumps after really do track Kirito’s progress as a character. While each event we see isn’t crucial to the overall plot, each event they jump to is crucial to the changes we see occurring in Kirito that take us from the guy who fled the town of beginnings by himself to the guy who challenged the creator of the game in order to save everyone. Every episode we see a slightly different Kirito. These aren’t massive changes or a totally reinvented character, but one who has experienced weeks/months/years in a death game and reflected on each of the previous encounters and grown from it.¬† While he’s never going to be the biggest people person and his first priority remains his own survival (although you could argue he prioritizes Asuna’s survival over his own after about episode 10), he slowly learns to let people in.

Why is he so slow about it?

Because the first time he tries to join a guild and actually make friends his own indecision and poor judgement gets them all killed (or at least so Kirito thinks). It isn’t necessarily true because even if he’d told them how strong he was they might have still walked into that room and Kirito may have still failed to save them, but it doesn’t matter what the reality was it is more how Kirito views the situation. That may have been enough to stop Kirito ever letting anyone else in except that he receives Sachi’s message later on and that allows him a small window to move forward.

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He doesn’t then just become champion of justice and all around good guy. We see through his encounter with Silica that while he’s acting the hero on the surface, he’s mostly just going through the motions. In fact, he’s been hired by someone who experienced the pain of seeing his friends killed and Kirito could relate so he decides to exact ‘justice’ given he can’t do anything about his own situation. Silica is initially just someone Kirito uses to achieve his goal however that encounter again changes him. Later episodes we see him actually seeing the person and finally actually caring about others.

Admittedly, the other characters in SAO don’t get a lot of love as the first arc at least is all about Kirito and his journey. There’s certainly a wide range of characters and each time we re-encounter them, they’ve changed a bit because of their own experiences but we don’t really know what they are so it has less of an impact. While Fairy Dance brings in some new characters, it is the core group from the original game that are the more interesting characters (amazing what putting a group of people through a near death experience will do to them).

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However, something does need to be said about the villains both of the first and second arc. While the first arc one could argue doesn’t really have a villain and his motives remain fairly confusing, the second arc introduces a pure scum type villain who ends up being so cartoonishly over the top you can’t help but wonder if you are watching an entirely different show. The only real positive of the villain in Fairy Dance is the real world crisis that the villain presents to Kirito as it points out clearly that no matter how amazing Kirito gets at playing games he still can’t control the real world.

This has gotten quite long so I’m going to quickly go through the last few things. Visually, I love this anime. I like the look of the game world and the action is great. The equipment the characters have and the way the towns and cities operate just reminds you of being in a game world. I love the sound effects and music and think that really adds to the immersive experience of the show.

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As I said at the beginning, I love this anime. I won’t try to tell you it has no faults and I won’t tell you that everyone should love it. What I will say is that this is a fun anime to watch and should be watched for fun. While it touches on some more complex issues, the basic narrative works because it doesn’t clutter itself up with too many different ideas. Basically, worth giving a go to if you like fantasy/action type anime. It may not work for you, but you may just find yourself having a lot of fun at least in the first arc.


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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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