The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episode 6: Who Needs Plot?

The Master of Ragnarok Episode 6

In the absence of a new adversary, Yuuto and the group engage in pointless hot spring action before randomly deciding to start compulsory education. The Master of Ragnarok seems to just be reeling from one event to the next without much direction.

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You know, hot-springs are a pretty common thing in anime. Even anime set in the past and not in Japan. So I’m not annoyed that the Master of Ragnarok sent Yuuto and all his female advisers and wannabe wives (and a slave because why not) to the hot spring. I’m more annoyed that they didn’t find anyway to make this a meaningful part of the plot (other than one of the girls washing Yuuto’s back with her boobs, because that’s a thing).

They leave the wolf clan for a vacation because Yuuto’s been working too hard. The girls basically do things girls only do in these kinds of fantasy settings until Yuuto’s nose explodes in a fountain of blood and then they all apologise before attacking him again.

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Meanwhile, Yuuto’s left someone else in charge while he’s away and they’ve made a big deal about that. But nothing happens. There’s no threat from outside to be dealt with or anything unusual that occurs. The guy in charge doesn’t try to usurp power or do anything underhanded. In fact, we don’t see a thing that happens while Yuuto is away. So why even make a point of leaving someone else in charge? More importantly, why send Yuuto away? Did anything of note happen at the hot-springs in amongst the over-the-top fan-service? Nope. Not one single plot or character point. This entire section was just there for the sake of getting characters naked, which they do anyway in bath scenes without a hot-springs trip, and it brings nothing of note to anything.

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We then return and we see another of Yuuto’s innovations from the future is earning the Wolf Clan money and somehow this ends up leading to Yuuto deciding to invent schools and compulsory education. Which is where the episode ends. Not sure why I should care how much Yuuto advances this particular society. Not sure why he isn’t looking for a way home. Not sure where the story is going because at this point and time we’re just kind of watching characters do stuff but not sure what their purpose is.

It’s all just a little empty.


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Karandi James

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The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episode 5: To Catch A Tiger

The fight against the lightning guy (and I’m not even going to pretend I can spell his name) goes according to Yuuto’s plan and while it is fun enough to watch, don’t expect much in the way of surprises given Yuuto’s strategy is fairly apparent.

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I’m not going into any specifics about what happens during the confrontation between the Wolf and Lightning clan, though I will happily say that at least they didn’t stretch this out longer then needed. While Yuuto’s assumption at the end that the Lightning Clan Leader is dead is proved false, it was fairly obvious that character wasn’t bowing out of the show just yet so that was hardly a spoiler.

Again we see the Wolf Clan succeeding through group work, using technology and strategy to overcome a weakness in numbers and sheer battle strength. No one member of the clan works to be above the others and all of them are happy to play their part in the conflict and assist where needed. It’s a nice army that is slowly conquering the world Yuuto is currently living in (or time).

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We do still get a phone call to the present and this episode also gives us a brief glimpse of what Yuuto was like prior to becoming the patriarch, but neither of these points is made to be overly significant here so it seems we’ll continue to wait for the story of how and why Yuuto ended up where he is. I’m not entire sure it matters given I’m quite enjoying the fact that we skipped over all the boring introductory stuff Yuuto would have gone through on first arrival.

This Master of Ragnarok remains a fairly average anime in all regards. It works well enough and hasn’t done anything grievously wrong, but nor has it done anything terribly exciting.


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Karandi James

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The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episode 4: Is Crop Rotation Really The Best They Can Do?

With the majority of this episode being kind of chatty filler and backstory before the conflict kicks off, I had plenty of time to wonder why so many anime in historical settings focus on the introduction of crop rotation. Any ideas?

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This has happened a few times now (admittedly I don’t watch a lot of historical anime) where a protagonist from the future, or someone from a different culture is interacting with a less sophisticated one, and for whatever reason to show off their advanced knowledge they devise a system of crop rotation. I’ll admit crop rotation is a lovely idea and we do need to thank it for a lot of things, but when you think about the myriad of other developments that could be equally beneficial, it makes me wonder why this one is the one we come back to again and again.

And the Ragnarok faces the issue of introducing the idea to fill some time early on in the episode, but it doesn’t really want to become a farming anime and so we quickly just leave people to it and move on. At least Maoyu had the decency to make the idea a central part of the ongoing developing plot. It kind of made it feel more like it was necessary rather than feeling like a tacked on aspect just to point out that the main character does in fact have some knowledge.

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But forget all of that, or at least so that anime says after crop rotations, naked girl in the room getting rejected, pep talk from hero boy, naked girl declaring she won’t give up, and finally we reach minute 15 where suddenly we need to get serious because the Lightning Clan are going to attack. You know, the clan we heard about last week when that random just kind of walked into the celebration and then seemed to agree to some shady deal with the temple. Anyway, he’s apparently an unstoppable one-man army who for whatever reason still takes his army but only uses the strategy of charge straight ahead, so I guess we’ll find out how the wolf clan will beat him soon. I mean, they might change things up and have the wolf clan lose but then I’m not sure where the plot of this has left to go.

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The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episode 3: Everyone Wants to Be In The Wolf’s Fan Club

Whether they are his own clan, members of a conquered clan, potential rival clans, or anyone else, everyone in this show is fixated on the young patriarch of the wolf clan and I have to wonder if he is really worth all this attention.

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He likes him, right up until he’ll try and kill him later in the show.

This week Yuto is joining in the celebration for the Horn clan having not been wiped out last week before returning to his own clan and generally being nice (he bought slaves to give them jobs, he totally must be nice). As is fairly standard in this type of show every character who meets him ends up either in love with him, infatuated by him, or at least intrigued with the idea of playing with him, and so everything revolves around him. On the bright side, at least he occasionally demonstrates aspects of a personality.

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They also continue to keep a lot hidden about how he ended up where he is, how the communication with the modern world actually works, and how he even rose to the position he’s in. I don’t mind being in the dark about a lot of this given watching the initial dealing with a ‘new world’ setting has been done to death and seeing it already in motion is kind of more fun, except that the characters keep referencing events meaning we’re either getting a flashback or an exposition dump in the future and neither is all that appealing.

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With a support cast that remain completely hollow outside of their affection for a protagonist who is good enough but nothing really noteworthy, this anime is falling very much in the middle for its genre being neither horrendously offensive nor particularly good. The conflicts between the clans might end up being interesting, or it may all just remain background as Yuto builds up his harem. This week he nearly added twins to the mix so we’ll see what happens next time.

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The Master of Ragnarok & Blesser of Einherjar Episodes 1 + 2: Why Not?

I wasn’t going to cover this one initially but was still trying to decide between this one and How Not to Summon a Demon Lord. After two episodes the overall opinion is both are riddled with problems so I might as well go all in (or drop them both but we’ll see what episode 3 does).

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Right, so we’ve got another average guy in a strange world with a smart phone that for whatever reason actually works and he’s surrounded by beautiful girls. So, we’ve seen this already, what is this doing new other than giving us an even more annoying title to type?

Well, the first episode didn’t give us much new, except perhaps a more overt sexual advance from one of the girls that we would normally see. Or at least that’s what I would say if this was an already established show. However, this one seems to have dropped us head first into the middle with Yuto having already been in said world for two years and already risen to a position of power in the Wolf Clan. This at least means we don’t have the fish out of water experience with our main character because he’s already relatively acclimatised. While this might seem like cheating, it actually does cut through a lot of the standard points that would normally bore me silly as characters make similar observations to ones we’ve seen before.

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The other thing it did that was a little bit novel was strongly suggest that we’re still on Earth but in the past and gave Yuto the ability to call to the present day with his phone seemingly provided he’s near some weird device which from the OP seems kind of critical to the whole travelling to where-ever he is situation though nothing has been explained about that. Now while neither of these points makes for a totally new experience, they at least shake up the formula a bit.

The second episode gave us a bit more combat focus and while it wasn’t amazing and having Yuto explain his strategy and reasoning throwing in healthy doses of all the usual war quotes in the process really undermined any sense of tension, it wasn’t terrible. Even the hot springs sequence where the leader of a clan Yuto conquered in the previous episode wasn’t as painful as it might have been.

While I’m not expecting much of anything from this anime, it so far has been watchable. And in a season that has been pretty flat in terms of first episodes, this one is kind of on par with the rest of the pack so far so we’ll give it a little while and see how it goes.


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Ouran Highschool Host Club Series Review

This is a re-post. All reviews from the 2nd of July until the 7th of July will be reruns. New episode and series reviews will resume on the 8th of July.

Overview:

Haruhi Fujioka is a scholarship student at a school for the super elite and while looking for a quiet place to study stumbles upon the host club. Anxious to leave, she accidentally knocks over a vase of considerable worth and after a series of events where the vast majority of the members of the host club mistake her for a boy, she becomes a host. While the club members figure out that she isn’t a boy in order to pay off her debt, Haruhi continues to masquerade as a male for the remainder of the series.

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Review:

This anime was heavily recommended to me quite a while ago and the first time I tried to watch it I just did not get it. The boys seemed vapid and pointless, as well as stereotypical archetypes rather than characters, the jokes seemed pretty obvious and flat and the plot felt absent other than a set up for the scenario that the animators had in mind. Sure it was pretty and had some bouncy music and lots of close ups of handsome anime guys but that didn’t seem like enough to make it watchable.

I didn’t finish it the first time through. I got, maybe 10 episodes in and just couldn’t take any more vapidness so walked away.

So why did I go back and watch it and how did that then lead to it becoming one of my favourite binge worthy animes of all time? (Note, that is different from becoming my favourite anime or even a good anime.)

I’ll have to repeat my initial thoughts to explain.

The boys seemed vapid and pointless. Yes, they are. It’s a harem comedy so of course they start that way. How on earth are you going to introduce a harem comedy and address all six of the guy’s back stories in the first episode? This is a case where the characters aren’t so much developing as they are slowly being fleshed out. Toward the second half of the series, most of the characters get an episode or two specifically aimed at rounding them out and at least explaining some of their more interesting character quirks. They aren’t wrapped up in a neat little package but by the end of the series they are least feel like vaguely plausible human beings.

More importantly, on a second watch I started quite liking Kyoya as a character. He’s in the background a lot but his words and actions carry weight and it is interesting seeing how he interacts with the others. From starting to like one character, I began to see a bit more of the other characters. While Tamaki and ‘Honey’ are never going to be my pick for characters given their overly needy natures, I found the twins (by the third watch through) fascinating. Re-watching for the umpteemth time, any episode that focusses on the twins has become one of my favourites.

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Will I argue that these characters have depth and complexity and are outstanding at demonstrating the nuances of the human condition? Not a chance. They are still archetypes but for the context of the show they work and when given a chance they have enough variation to to be more than just cardboard cutouts.

As to the comedy and jokes being obvious and flat, well there isn’t really a counter argument. It really just depends if you are in the mood for yet another he slipped on a banana peel, he just massively misunderstood that, or general mistaken identity humour. Most of the humour relies on overexaggeration which if you are in the wrong frame of mind will definitely come off as more annoying than humorous but when you are in the mood to just relax and not think about much, it can work. More importantly, the humour is consistent. It isn’t that some jokes hit and others miss the mark; it is simply that this is the type of humour they are delivering, take it or leave it.

In terms of plot, it is highly episodic with the overall story of Haruhi paying off a debt. But this is character driven. It is how the characters respond to the challenge of the week and what we learn about them. The events are more of less irrelevant at times and it seems the writers knew that too as many of the transitions and motives for things occurring were dismissed as simply being a particular character’s whim and off they went to the next set or costume change.

What I ultimately like about this show is it isn’t trying too hard to claim any legitimacy. The fact that the boys are using a music room as a host club in a school is never explained other than Tamaki decided he wanted to start one. There is no teacher presence anywhere and only once or twice does studying come up (which given it was apparently part of Haruhi’s motivation for going to the music room in the first place seems a bit odd that they didn’t use that as a source of tension later in the story). The characters are all (except Haruhi) super rich and have connections and any plot point that can’t be explained sensibly gets dismissed as a perk of being rich and having connections. This allows for some fairly extravagant set-ups for otherwise fairly ordinary rom-com events.

Possibly what seals the deal with this anime for me is Haruhi herself. At first she comes off as an emotionally cut-off tomboyish girl with very few defining traits other than intimidated by rich people and smart. That quickly fades and we see how Haruhi deals with each of the events in the Host Club. Again, not a huge amount of development, but she certainly comes out of her shell as the series progresses and learning who Haruhi is can be quite a fun adventure.

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The theme song is definitely infectious though so if you aren’t in the mood for a pop song to go bopping around your head for the next week you may want to hit skip on that. However, even the end credits have pretty great music.

My favourite moments include the commoner coffee scene, the ‘date’ with Hikaru, and watching the twins play the which one is Hikaru game.

My recommendation: watch this when you are wanting to seriously relax and just shut off from the world. It’s light and sweet and when you don’t think about it, pretty funny. Don’t watch it if you are in the mood to deconstruct something, because it won’t ever stand up to close scrutiny.


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Karandi James

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 12: Kind of An End

Bad guy neutralised, Kuze’s engagement sorted, and everything back to normal, yet the anime holds back on actually choosing one of the guys or giving us closure on all the villains.

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Compared to some anime this season, this was actually a pretty solid resolution. Kuze wanted to know where the tome came from that cursed her brother and that part of the story is effectively wrapped up in fairly quick order this episode. What is less clear cut is where the harem antics are going and what is next for the villains given those that survived are on their ship sailing somewhere when the curtain closes.

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While this ended up being better than I expected, it never quite gets to being good and it never quite manages to throw off the harem tropes that kind of weigh everything down and this final episode is a good example. We have a perfect opportunity for the heroine to make an actual choice and instead we leave it open so everyone and no-one can be happy with the solution. I was also a bit disappointed that when it came to the crunch the heroine needed the knight in shining armour to swoop in and save her because really she didn’t do much of anything to solve this.

Anyway, full series review coming soon.

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 11: I Guess That’s A Twist

Episode 11 of Libra of Nil Admirari first gives us an “I am your father moment” before we get a revelation that what seemed like a totally superfluous character is actually also a bad guy. It almost makes you want to hum the ‘dum, dum, daaas’.

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Apparently taking down an evil cult is actually pretty easy once you set their building on fire and actually move in and arrest them. Realistically, the final moves against Karusu were pretty ordinary with the professor being the only one who put up much of a fight before he was taken down by the laws of poor slap-stick comedy. But there was a shadowy figure waiting in the background, apparently because there’s another episode to go and we just wiped out all our villains.

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I won’t say who, just in case there’s anyone out there who cares about spoilers for this anime, but realistically, think of a character who was introduced early on that has literally had no impact on anything (okay, that doesn’t actually narrow it down in the case of this cast). But whichever way, while I hadn’t suspected them, I’m not really surprised because at least it gives them a reason to exist. I guess the question remains whether Kuze will get herself out of trouble or be rescued in the final episode.

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 10: Every Character Face Your Demon

With every character seemingly facing their tragic back story nemesis in one episode, it is hardly surprising that this episode feels a bit shallow as we jump from confrontation to confrontation with a pause in the middle for a cup of tea (not joking).

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I had the interesting experience of watching this episode when someone else was around. Interesting because they listened to the overly boppy opening with the smiling dancing characters and grimaced. Then the episode started and we have the villain essentially ranting about how he was going to force himself on Kuze and get her pregnant before he tried to do that. At this point I had to pause the episode because the sheer volume of questions getting thrown at me made watching impossible. And once again, it reminded me so clearly how totally wrong the OP is for this anime. We then got on with watching.

And what we watched were various pairs of characters confronting issues they’ve had for awhile. So Akira saved Kuze having finally decided to be on her side, though not really because he tells her to run while he does the hero thing, leaving Kuze wandering around the mansion that is both on fire and full of enemies and so naturally she stops for tea with the mistress of the house.  Clearly Kuze isn’t actually interested in being rescued and Akira could have saved himself the time. Later on Kuze catches up with Akira and Hayato, or they catch up with her being dragged into the subway, and we get a moment where it turns out Akira is the half-brother of the villain, etc, etc. It was a pretty flat revelation and when Kuze points out it doesn’t matter, I had to wonder if anyone had ever thought it did matter.

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We also get a confrontation with Migiwa and Shougo facing down the guy who was a writing pupil at the same time as Migiwa and who was an author Shougo liked, who also happened to write the book that ended up cursing Shougo leading to him attempting to kill himself. This was a more interesting confrontation but ultimately solved fairly tritely by Shougo pointing out that he wanted to read more books by the author. So sweet. Can we remember this guy writes books that kill people?

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Lastly, we have Hisui confronting the crazy professor guy who throws in the ‘I killed your mother’ card to send Hisui’s weird flame power a little out of control. I don’t know what he was hoping to gain from that but it was all a little cliche and then he ran away.

Meanwhile, the mansion is still on fire, no one has actually been arrested, as far as I can see not one villain is even detained yet, and the third party running around in the mansion hasn’t actually done anything except set things on fire.

In fairness to the episode, all of these elements make sense as part of the grander narrative, but the episode itself was pretty messy and unresolved and we’ll all just have to wait until next week to see what happens next.

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Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 9: So, Master Plan Is To Breed?

I’ve been wondering for awhile if the villain had an end game and a reason for wanting to kidnap Kuze. Turns out all he wants is to breed and have little baby Kuze’s who can see auras and also want to end the world. Perfectly normal plan really.

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And someone please explain who is following this guy around with a spotlight while he delivers this terrible exposition.

Reporter guy who set himself on fire last week survived (surprise) and the traitor who was taken back in by Karusu turns out to just be chilling in a room and waiting around for a reason to break down the door with a chair. Meanwhile the Prime Minister is nearly assassinated, reporter guy’s notes point fingers at drugged up writers for creating fake cursed tomes, and ultimately Kuze gets kidnapped because despite being told to run away, she stands still and shouts the guy’s name over and over like somehow that will help.

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Now, in a fair defence of the episode, this was actually kind of exciting given they didn’t just wander around and look at book shops for the entire run time. However, for the plot as a whole, the reveal of why this guy’s been after Kuze just kind of fell completely flat. I get the whole starting a war thing to make Japan great again. That’s crazy, but there’s enough logic behind it that I could buy it as a villainous plot. But wanting to take Kuze to Europe to have his baby? Where did that even come from?

So, this series continues to be watchable enough but not good.

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