Sengoku Night Blood Episode 3: Sake, Herbs, Bees and an Attack

Review:

If the goal here is to walk through a loosely based on actual history historical setting where the cast have been replaced by pretty boy vampires and werewolves than this episode accomplishes its goal wonderfully. If there was an intention of actually helping us learn anything about these characters (other than the name of the person they are supposed to be) or to progress some sort of plot than this episode comes up short.

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That isn’t to say this isn’t still kind of fun. The vampire group meet with the werewolf group and drink sake before a contrived fetch quest sends the girl into the woods to look for herbs where she conveniently and for no apparent purpose steps on a bee hive. Seriously, they do nothing with that other than scene transition. Why even include it?

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We do however see that every single guy is going to fall for the girl regardless of her seeming lack of personality. So yes, plenty to criticise, but this still works from a switch your brain off and enjoy the pretty visuals kind of  perspective and there is still the possibility of the plot going somewhere as they do have a few scenes that indicate more is going on than drinking and flirting.


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Code Realise ~Guardian of Rebirth~ Episode 2: Keeping it Simple

Review:

There’s something to be said for sticking to formula. It is like a well worn pair of shoes or jeans. You slip into them and you just feel comfortable. They may not look that great and depending on how worn they are you might end up not openly wearing them, but deep down you really love them.

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Code Realise isn’t my old favourite pair of shoes, but it is still comfortable viewing because it isn’t doing anything unexpected but what it is doing it is doing well enough. Blank Slate protagonist it actually had a few lines of dialogue this week that weren’t purely turning statements back into questions (though she still did that a lot – does this count as development), and the pretty boys in the mansion take her on a field trip (as you do when you’ve stolen something and are now trying to protect it). The schemers seem evil because they are, the pretty boys are all very good people with just that one black spot in their past to make them seem a little bit damaged and all and all this show isn’t treading one foot off of the very predictable path laid before it.

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Even the start where we had a quick scene of running followed by a guy pointing a gun at the main two before flashing back to how we got to that point is pretty much the oldest trick in the book for generating interest early in an episode where nothing actually happens at the start.

So after two episodes my verdict is that this relaxing to watch but I’ll forget it more or less instantly because so far it hasn’t done a thing to distinguish itself. Still, it works and looks good so if it is more your genre you will probably have a great time with this.


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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 2: My Teenage Self Would Have Loved This

Review:

I really think that if this had come out (and I’d had the means to watch it) when I was fourteen or fifteen, I’d have been in love with it. However, as I am not a teenager (and haven’t been for well over a decade) and I’ve watched a lot of anime at this point, I know that this is not particularly good. They still haven’t bothered to explain anything about the characters to the audience so either you just accept that it doesn’t matter who they are and just define them by whatever bizarre outfit they are wearing, or you dredge up every memory of these names from every other anime and try to piece it together and even then, it doesn’t make a lot of difference.

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The female heroine is starting to get a tiny bit of personality rather than blank slate, but mostly it is just the usual ‘I’d like to be helpful’ personality that so many harem leads fall into and of course her acts of kindness charm every single guy she talks to. Be prepared for blushing warriors left and right as she ‘helps’ them out (and that sounded more suggestive than intended given nothing is actually happening).

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Despite the obvious and fairly relevant criticisms of this show’s set up, characters and plot, I’m still having fun watching it. Okay, it is definitely appealing to that inner teenager inside rather than the adult I supposedly am, and I definitely will not argue that this is actually quality viewing (the series so far has a two star rating on Crunchyroll and I’ve never seen a functional show score so low on there given most things are at least three stars even if they are hopelessly broken), but I’m kind of happy to just switch my brain off and admire the pretty shiny spectacle playing out.

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Yeah, the dialogue is also an issue but I’m going to ignore that for a bit.


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In Another World With My Smartphone Episode 12: They Actually Did It

Review:

Wow. I did not see that ending coming even when last week seemed like this show was actually going to address the harem issue (where so few shows ever just admit that there is a harem even when it is obvious). Taking it straight and just having the girls outright ask Touya to make them all his wife is a refreshing change from the usual outcome where the protagonist remains oblivious or really only has one girl they are interested in leaving the others hanging without resolution.

Touya though is still a slow protagonist cliché and of course asks the girls for time to think about it and ends up consulting the god who sent him into this world in the first place. I hadn’t really realised that the Gate power technically made that possible, but that of course raises the question of whether Touya can gate back to the real world or not… But even if he did would he then be stuck because magic doesn’t work in our world? That’s a whole other line of thinking so moving on.

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That god passes Touya on to the god of love who points out she’s responsible for setting up clichés (so there’s our lame excuse for the show having Touya walking in on the girls in the bath earlier in the season). It is kind of amusing because as always the show delivers this absurdity as if it is the most natural thing in the world and then moves on. I like the way this show just sets up its jokes, delivers them with conviction and then continues on playing it straight. It’s a refreshing change from self-aware shows that feel the need to celebrate their own cleverness.

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At the end of this episode Touya makes his decision (though still asks the girls to wait until they are all older which to be honest is also kind of nice). I do like that the group outside who discuss Touya and point out that it has been predicted he’s going to end up with 9 wives. Poor Touya, he can barely handle the four girls he is now engaged to.

They then give us so post credit sequel bait so it would be nice to know if this will ever continue on. As much as this show is a stupid comedy full of clichés and tropes that we’ve seen a million times before, it just clicked for me so I’d kind of like some more of it even if I’m not exactly going to highly recommend it. I will get around to a full series review of this at some point.


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In Another World With My Smartphone Episode 9: Behold the Great and Powerful Touya

Review:

There’s genuinely no way to ignore the breast groping segment of this episode. While this show has definitely hit fan service points before just for the sake of having them, this is probably the first time I’ve actively wanted to stop watching the show because of a fan service moment. It was just incredibly unnecessary and intrusive into what was otherwise a pretty good episode. Yae’s brother and father have gotten caught up in a war and now Touya’s going to walk in and end it in about five minutes.

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Yeah, that’s probably why there are the unnecessary clutter moments in this episode. There is no challenge in this world for Touya as he is incredibly and ridiculously overpowered and while mostly that’s been amusing, this episode really needed to put something in his path to at least slow down the resolution as maybe that would have meant they wouldn’t have needed to have ‘that’ particular scene go on as long as it did.

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And once again, we have some fairly casual violence and just kind of dismiss the fact that the guy Touya beat in an entirely unfair fashion crumbles into dust.

Definitely not the best episode this show has offered us.


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In Another World With My Smartphone Episodes 6 + 7: And the next cliche is…?

Review Episode 6:

There are pretty much two ways an audience can take this show: either it is an uninspired and derivative rehashing of every other light novel isekai story that has ever come before it mashed into one trope laden season OR it is an intentionally derivative story that lets the audience smile even as it packs in every possible cliché and trope it can find into episodes that are full of energy and humour.

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Basically, I’m in the second camp which is weird because normally this kind of show would either bore me to tears as they pull out the full on harem (no longer even hinted at really) around the oblivious and protagonist and in desperate need of an exciting end to an episode that otherwise involved setting up house, playing games in a carriage and shopping, the suddenly pull out a dragon attack on a village. If it didn’t bore me, I’d find one (or all) of the cast sufficiently annoying that I’d let it go anyway.

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And while I’m not going to argue that In Another World With My Smartphone is actually original, because it isn’t, I kind of think the writers here have actually managed to not just shovel masses of tropes toward the audience and expected them to swallow, but they’ve actually kind of considered what makes those tropes fun. While that might not hit the mark for everyone, I have enjoyed Touya (bland and overly nice protagonist that he is), and each of the girls in his harem are quite pleasant in their own way. The individual adventures have been fun and more jokes have hit the mark for me than missed. Plus, we are definitely getting more integration between smartphone and magic now, so the title is becoming less a cheap gimmick and more an actual part of the plot.

Hopefully they don’t lose their sense of fun in the second half of the season.

Review Episode 7:

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A bunch of stuff happens this episode and yet you could also argue very little happens. It seems like some of this may become important later, particularly Touya meeting the sassy fairy girl and creating his own gun from a dragon fang as that seems like it should have some far reaching implications. But other bits feel mostly pointless. Entertaining, but pointless.

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Like his fight with the king where about the only thing of note is that using Slip is still hilarious (I’m never going to get over finding that funny) and that Touya really can just use whatever spell he likes once someone explains how it works. Otherwise, this match was entirely without narrative purpose and really took up too much of the episode for the few jokes it delivered.

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The fairy girl on the other hand looks like she could be a fun character and hopefully she won’t become just another harem hanger on.

Episode 7 was fun but unlike previous episodes I can’t really say this was the slime episode or the dungeon episode or the whatever episode. Very little focus.


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Dance With Devils Series Review

Overview:

Have you ever wanted an anime musical? Not an anime with a character who wants to be an idol and occasionally performs, but an anime where the cast just burst into song and dance? Well look no further because Dance With Devils takes a typical supernatural harem show and adds music.

Review (a few major plot spoilers here if you are concerned):

It should probably be noted up-front that I’m not the biggest fan of harems (though I don’t hate them) nor do I particularly like musicals (but again I don’t hate them). Mostly I watched this for the sheer novelty of seeing an anime musical and yes, it is novel, but it isn’t great.

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To put it simply individual songs with their accompanying visuals within this anime are quite good. I particularly liked the fight sequence early on where Rem defeated the enemy during his song because visually it was interesting. The story itself with Ritsuka being a grimoire that both devils and vampires are fighting over is also pretty interesting. Throw in Lindo, the kind-of-brother-who-also-has-a-massive-crush-on-the-protagonist, who is somehow a vampire and an exorcist, and you’ve got a fairly impressive list of ingredients to make an interesting narrative. The show then proceeds to squander most opportunities to do this.

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Part of the issue is it is a harem show so for the first half the series each episode kind of focusses on a different member of the student council as they get their introductory song and get to torment Ritsuka in a way that makes no sense given their overall objective (then again it is never particularly clear why the other members of the student council care one way or the other about the grimoire). This means a lot of the plot is just kind of put on hold even though initially we are under the impression that time is of the essence, you know given Ritsuka’s mother was kidnapped by vampires and might be being killed. And of course each member of the student council is a devil and a particular ‘type’. You’ve got the handsome flirt, the strong guy, the massochist, and then literally a dog. It’s all pretty stock standard.

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When we finally have the introductions out of the way things do take a turn for the more serious including a character actually being killed (which I kind of didn’t expect and the show gets points for actually upping the danger level) but the relationships between the characters just kind of drift back and fourth without progressing (which again is probably the general issue with harem stories because if someone just stopped dithering and actually made their feelings clear the story would probably end).

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For all of that, the vampires are probably the weakest part of this show. They really just exist to launch attacks and force the plot forward but they themselves get almost no development and their motives, while explained, aren’t particularly compelling or convincing.

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This is definitely a show for fans of harems, people who will watch anything with a vampire in it, or anyone who is just curious about how an anime musical looks. For everyone else, there are probably better harem shows and there are most definitely better supernatural shows out there. This is never unwatchably bad and there are some good moments to be found in

Amnesia Series Review

Overview:

A girl wakes up but doesn’t remember anything and for some reason seems to intrinsically trust whichever guy shows up in her life first.

Review:

Originally I reviewed this over on Crunchyroll immediately after watching it. Probably a bad idea (it was pre-blog) and I really didn’t like it very much. That said, I probably didn’t hate it as much as some people did. This review isn’t a rehash of the previous one  on Crunchyroll but rather a reconsideration after time and a rewatch which has more or less brought me to the same conclusion. Amnesia isn’t terrible, but it just isn’t very good.

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Any kind of accurate plot synopsis that tells you more than my overview is going to spoil what few plot points there are in relation to why she keeps waking up without her memory so I’m just going to point out that the plot makes sense in that the ridiculously shallow character archetypes wander through the events and usually respond in a way that makes sense (even if the characters themselves don’t). The problem with the plot is only that it relies very much on the central gimmick of a main character with amnesia and the suspension of disbelief when they reveal why.

If you haven’t already backed out of this review and are still reading I’m now going to turn my attention to the characters.

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My original description of the main character was ‘blank slate heroine’ and I’m sticking by that. She genuinely has nothing, not even memories. So forget the usual blandness of self-insert and just think of a Doll from Darker Than Black without the potential for evolving. And that leads me to wonder who this anime is for. The stereotypical hot guys (personifying various tastes)  dancing around in every other shot would indicate they are trying to appeal to women and yet the main character isn’t someone you can self-insert onto even if you wanted to (and given the personalities of a lot of the guys you would have to wonder why you would want to enter that world – this one is much safer at a distance). She is so hopelessly blank you almost pity her. So while a stronger heroine who could negotiate with the various men in the harem might have provided for an entertaining bit of escapism and a flirt with danger, the heroine here just makes you cringe and want someone to rescue her from her very existence.

Or maybe that was just me but my impression from first viewing to second actually got worse because the first time through I just found her bland and the second time I was genuinely wanting her out of most of those situations.

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The shock deaths that are thrown at you throughout the series are also kind of off-putting (and this is from someone who actually appreciates slasher horror). In amongst this warped romance these deaths feel incredibly out of place and because the heroine is so hopelessly defenceless against them it kind of hurts to watch. This isn’t the amusement of watching a bad horror in action, or even the thrill fo watching a good horror play out while you wait with anticipation for the next shoe to drop. This is just uncomfortable viewing at the best of times. I think it’s because it really feels like the writers at times felt that having the girl fall in love with or be played around with by the possessive guy or the jerk or the whatever wasn’t edgy enough so let’s add a dose of inconsequential death and that will give it some edge.

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My final major criticism with this show is that all of the main characters really are dressed like extras from a circus. It helps distinguish them from one another (because little else does) but you have to wonder how long it would take to put on some of those outfits and given the truly bizarre effect of them, why they would even bother (not a criticism of individuals who have clothes with flair but rather a criticism on ordinary character designs poorly disguised up by overdressing characters).

So if it seems like this is truly dreadful from that then I’m probably not being fair. Amnesia is perfectly watchable with a plot that works during the viewing and fails on the reconsideration. The characters are not good but with the exception of the central protagonist they aren’t so dreadful as to make this an unwatchable ordeal and even my main criticism of the protagonist is that she is an empty shell rather than a terrible character (though some would argue that this is worse).

On a personal level I really disliked the show. I hate the way the heroine is portrayed and romance in general and the ending (while conclusive enough) is not satisfying nor does it seem to justify the journey (though it is logical enough within the context of the show). But I can’t bring myself to actually say I hate Amnesia because mostly I am walking away realising that much like after my first viewing I’m going to forget this very quickly and move on to other anime that leave a more lingering impression. More importantly, I can kind of see that some viewers would enjoy elements of this show even if they aren’t for me.

If you’ve watched Amnesia, I’d love to know your thoughts.


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Interviews With Monster Girls Episode 3

Review:

This week we focus more on the succubus teacher (and despite that her name is completely forgotten after the episode). I was actually fairly drawn in to the episode during the first half while we followed her daily life because they really made the challenges she faced as a demi trying to live a normal life quite clear and you could understand some of her reactions in episode 1. The second half however where she is talking with the dullahan in the library just makes you wonder what rules there are in Japan governing student-teacher relations given the succubus doesn’t bat an eye over the girl falling for the teacher, but rather  gets jealous because she’s also kind of falling for him. And so Takahashi’s harem is more or less complete. Next week, the snow girl.

Interviews With Monster Girls is availavle on Crunchyroll.


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Campione Series Review

Overview:

Godou Kusanagi is supposed to be returning a tablet to someone in Italy when there is an attack by a god and somehow he ends up with the ability to fight gods though mostly he seems to run into cute girls with supernatural powers.

Review:

This is going to be quick. I didn’t much like this series.

Why?

The plot never made sense. Using the power of a god to somehow fight gods and all these factions and groups want the power but rather than try to take it they send various girls to ‘observe’ or interfere and either way the motivations of anyone in this anime are highly questionable at the best of times.

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The characters are as generic as they come. You have your self-insert protagonist surrounded by an increasingly large group of super powered females. None of the girls have any discernible personality besides annoyed or ditzy. And the paper thin premise that somehow you can teach mythology via kisses just makes you wonder ‘what the’ on so many levels. Even then, you would probably forgive all of that except that they proceed to butcher mythology to the point where you wonder if they just put a mythological encyclopedia through a blender and then dropped the remains on the floor and called it a back story. While mish-mashes of mythology are not new to anime, this one takes it to a new level of ‘huh?’.

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The fight sequences are mildly entertaining except that ultimately each battle will end with self insert protagonist getting just the right clue at just the right moment, making a pretentious speech where he relays a whole bunch of mumbo-jumbo about the various gods and their stories, and then he’ll swing his sword around and voila, problem solved.

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If you don’t mind harems, have no qualms about made up mythology, and you don’t really question why anyone is acting the way they are, this actually moves along nicely and is entertaining enough. However, it doesn’t do much else and I’m certainly not going to give it another watch. There are definitely worse anime out there, and this one isn’t overly bad, it just fails to really do anything of note.

What did you think of Campione?