One Punch Man Series Review: One Punch – One Joke

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This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in August 2016 and can be found here.

I’ve not made all that many changes to this one as my opinion really hasn’t changed. I did however, get rid of the plus/minus format. Still, if you read the original post, that kind of covers it.

It’s really difficult to review One Punch Man. On the one hand, it is awesome. The main character defeats his enemies with one punch. It’s funny. It’s visually striking. The music is really well chosen. On the other hand, essentially the plot is about a guy with almost zero motivation who instantly kills his opponents removing any tension from any conflict and once you’ve seen the punch line to most of the jokes there isn’t a lot of rewatch value. And in honesty, rewatching this one was kind of dull. While there are a few moments that still really shining, without the novelty factor there just isn’t much here.

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At the centre of the story is Saitama. He really feels like a character for the modern world. He’s self-centred, lazy, and reasonably ignorant of things that don’t particularly impact on him (not saying that everyone in the modern world is like that but it is certainly a recognition of a social trend). He also has a very high opinion of himself and his value and at times seems to carry a giant chip on his shoulder about the lack of credit he receives for his work. Compared to the superheroes of the past (or the current Hollywood trend of dark and edgy heroes), Saitama is a fantastic breath of fresh air and fairly easy to relate to.

And he has even more depth than most of us initially give him credit  for. There are times when he could receive recognition but because of the ramifications to others, Saitama deliberately plays down his part in a job. Given his usual self-involved attitude, these moments are really important to making him feel like a genuine character and someone who is becoming more aware of the world around them even as he seeks recognition.

Basically, this character has toed the line and managed to make us not hate him, even while he plays up some of the less desirable traits of the modern culture. Its an interesting mix and one handled more deftly than you might at first assume, but a lot of that gets lost under a fairly one note plot.

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Sticking with characters though, I want to give a shout out to Genos. My favourite character from the show (and someone who deserves some kind of award for the sheer amount of determination he has and how little it actually gets him). He is your typical hero in every sense of the word. Tragic childhood on quest for revenge and to save others from the same fate. Willing to sacrifice himself and always working to improve. He is also the only one who really recognises Saitama for what he actually is (even if his perception is a little tinted by rose coloured glasses).

Genos also brings about some of the more amusing and tragic moments of the anime as he tends to attempt self-destruction fairly regularly (to save others of course) or gets swatted into pieces. You feel bad for him but can’t help but laugh and given how much damage he sustains in early episodes without lasting impact (because apparently being a cyborg means anything can be fixed) it takes a lot of the trauma out of his injuries. While Genos couldn’t carry the show by himself (he is too weighed down with clichés), he is an excellent support character and adds just the right notes of earnestness, dedication, and over-zealous stupidity to most scenes.

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However, that one note plot is a problem as is the inability to escalate tension throughout the story. When you start your anime with city destroying monsters, giants, cyborgs, gorillas and life sucking mosquitos, how do you up the ante? Sure, aliens? Why not? Only they don’t come off as any more threatening than the hoodlums or any of the other villains we’ve seen. I think they are supposed to, given all of the heroes are seemingly gathered to face them, but what we end up with is a series of small group fights that lack punch (sorry about that) and then Saitama squaring off against the leader of the aliens and… well winning with one punch. They may draw out this battle sequence for longer than others in the series, but to be honest the outcome is obvious and you’re not sitting on the edge of your seat waiting but rather just waiting for the inevitable punch line.

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And so our plot line boils down to a single manta. “Saitama is strong. Saitama is good. Saitama hits things and kills them in one punch.” Possibly this is a story about the organisation for heroes and maybe there’s more to the whole thing there but in the first season (which is all we have at the moment), there is genuinely no real plot. There are a series of incidents that get dealt with and in the process we see Saitama and Genos interacting more and more with other heroes (all of which have their own agendas and motives). This is not actually a plot. The series is a collection of set-ups and punch lines with just enough world building packed around it to make it feel like maybe there is some plot progression. Certainly there is space for there to be a plot. You know, the hero guy who seems to be wanting to take over, and the other guy who… wait we just don’t know what they are actually up to and they probably made up less than 5% of the screen time so let’s not justify that as a plot.

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But the weak plot isn’t enough to take away from the fact that this show knew what it wanted to bring. This is high energy fun. I may make fun of the obvious ends to battles but the show continues to find ways to make these amusing and visually appealing regardless. More importantly, they keep finding ways to make battle sequences look and feel different (even knowing they will end the same way). The sheer variety in the enemies and the use of lesser heroes and even the stronger heroes in the early stages of fights keeps things feeling fresh and moving.

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For me a lot of the jokes fell flat. Even the ones that were pretty funny the first time round weren’t particularly amusing when I tried to watch it again with a friend. A lot of the humour relies on shock and spectacle and unfortunately that just doesn’t hold up to a second viewing (and a third viewing for this review just killed it – there’s almost nothing left that sticks when you have already seen it and you know where its going). The character related humour worked better but even that didn’t have the same impact on rewatch. There are definitely some satirical elements at work here, but the show isn’t really cohesive enough to call itself a satire. Mostly, it’s just going for amusement and entertainment and for the most part it succeeds.

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After all of this, I’m still going to recommend this one to people who haven’t tried it. The first watch is great fun and you’ll have some great laughs with it. However, I don’t see myself ever wanting to buy this one on disc and I probably won’t go for another watch of it anytime soon.

What did you think of One Punch Man?

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Karandi James
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ONE PUNCH MAN ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
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Trigun Series Review: He’s The Most Wanted Man Ever But He’s Just Looking for Love and Peace

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in July 2016 and can be found here.

I’m going to be honest, after rewatching this one and re-reading my review, I’m not changing much. So this post is really just here for people who weren’t following the blog back in 2016.

Review:

I had to wonder when I first started watching this series what all the fuss had been about. It was a not so well drawn, cliché comedy with a main character whose hair just kind of made me want to pour a bucket of water on his head.

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Really, really, glad I didn’t stick with my first impulse on this anime.

Yep, it starts out as a screwy comedy with a character who hops around in the desert, dodging bullets like Daffy Duck, and B Grade villains who really need to learn the meaning of restraint but don’t seem to offer any genuine tension. And that kind of hurts the show because of the sheer number of viewers who will probably walk away in those early episodes. I definitely would have if I’d watched this for the first time now when I have access to so many other titles.

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Somehow, after you get to the end of the series, you realise this show couldn’t have started any other way. Vash the Stampede is one of those shows where you don’t even know where the tone changed, but by the end of the series you are left feeling you’ve just watched a dramatic masterpiece. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration (alright definitely an exaggeration but you get the point), but for something that starts the way it does, the character development and the way the plot is revealed just work so well. There isn’t a moment where you think, okay now it will get serious. It’s just that the blend of comedy and drama in each episode shifts more and more to the drama end of the spectrum while still holding onto some of the comedic elements and you don’t even realise its happening.

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Part of that transition comes because a lot of the story is filtered through Meryl’s perception of Vash and it takes her awhile to a) recognise who actually is Vash and b) begin to understand that there is more to Vash than the goofy persona he deliberately chooses to portray. Meryl’s growth as a character and her increasing empathy for Vash work well as a frame for so much of the story. Because, like Meryl, the audience is coming in to this half-way through.

Vash has a very complicated back story and while I’m still not entirely convinced by the seemingly subjective amnesia or the overall villains plot or even some of the twists that lead us to the conclusion, it didn’t matter while watching. I was engrossed by these characters as they slowly revealed themselves.

I do want to talk about Wolfwood though.

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He’s an interesting character. Like Vash, he plays the fool far too well, though his facade has a lot more chinks in it than Vash’s. More importantly, Wolfwood get’s the distinct role of playing a character while knowing he isn’t convincing anyone but pretends he doesn’t know that he isn’t convincing them. It’s interesting to watch given the animation isn’t amazing and yet Wolfwood’s nuanced expressions and the subtle (and sometimes less than subtle) shifts are well used to show us that he is well aware his antics aren’t convincing and yet he’s enjoying the chance to just play for awhile.

Far and away Wolfwood is my favourite character of the series because of his similarities to Vash, and yet the distinct path he chooses. And they use the contrast well. While they both play the fool, at the end of the day, Vash is an idealist whereas Wolfwood is firmly grounded in reality. Which is probably why the outcomes for these characters vary so deeply.

And at some point I really should give Wolfwood his very own post because he’s just an awesome character.

So should you watch Trigun?

Absolutely.

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It’s funny and heartbreaking and has fast paced action followed by some excellent characterisation. It builds a rich world where humans fight for survival and shows the history behind the current circumstances. Characters respond in not necessarily realistic ways, but in consistent ways to the conflicts surrounding them and there are some very cool characters who will appear throughout the series. While the villains are of the over-the-top and bad for the sake of it nature, the hero is also good for the sake of it so it kind of balances out and ultimately the story isn’t about who is good and who is bad but about choosing your own path.

That, and there’s a lot of gun fights and some fairly great weapons to admire. I love Vash’s sunglasses and coat but really would love to fix his hairstyle. However, since writing my review of this initially, I met a cosplayer who had the single most awesome Vash the Stampede look you could imagine and after seeing it in real life I kind of don’t know that Vash could be any other way.

Have you watched Trigun? What were your thoughts?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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THE CALIGULA EFFECT: OVERDOSE

Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Final Impressions with Kapodaco and Karandi

Karandi: Well, season three is now over and Kapodaco and I now have the chance to look back over the last six months of our lives viewing My Hero Academia and to think about how we feel about the series as a whole. That’s kind of a hard ask right now for me given I’m still kind of looking at that final episode and wondering what that was supposed to be, but I guess we’ll muddle through it. Kapodaco, what are you thinking?

Kapodaco: I was thinking about it at work today. It feels so perfectly succinct. I rated the first season a 7, the second a 7.5, and now I’m feeling a 6.5 for the third. On MAL, I have a 7 for all three of them, so if one isn’t looking to dig deeper, they’ll assume I saw them all the same. But that’s personal perks.

There’s a lot that the series does that got me just as excited as any other season, even more so on occasion. At the same time, there’s definitely some big befuddlement with the scope of the story and fighting off the temptation to introduce a thousand characters to keep the story spicy, but then having to keep up with said characters and make it harder to keep everything in focus. It detracts from the characters one actually cares about and wants to see more of. It happened a lot during the end of the season with other classmates simply noting their observations and little more, and I said very early on with this season that I was looking forward to seeing these classmates have more of a role—by the end, it was definitely underwhelming in that category. What say you, Karandi?

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Karandi: I’m in agreement. One of the biggest issues season three has had is that it insists on trying to keep the whole class in each of its sequences and has all of these characters essentially standing around and doing very little. All of these students got into the hero course and class A and yet they so rarely get to do anything.

Then season three had the fight sequence against the villains where we saw a couple of characters we’d already met but it introduced the pro-heroes doing the training, the random kid that Midoriya had to convince that heroes weren’t all bad, and half a dozen villains. We moved into the exam arc with a whole bunch of schools and characters. Then right at the end we have the Big Three introduced. None of these characters had anywhere near enough screen time or development to make them anything more than their name flashing across the screen and maybe their quirk so I have zero attachment to them.

I will admit, that while I’ve been throwing a lot of rocks at season three of My Hero Academia, compared to the vast majority of seasonal anime that I’ve been watching, even season three is pretty solid entertainment. My biggest issue is that it isn’t as good as season two. Which might seem a little petty but at the moment it is still a disappointment.

Outside of the characters though, I felt the overall narrative structure this season let it down a little bit and I touched on this a couple of reviews ago. What did you think?

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Kapodaco: I may have said a few times that the clichés had piled on a little more than with previous seasons. Even when they weren’t, I think a lot of the issues stems back to the fact that there are a thousand new characters introduced, such that the mangaka is biting off more than he can chew. He wants to make the scope huge so that it can feel like a giant world of all-encompassing heroism, much like how Capitalism is the entire world of my home country of the U.S.A. I can feel the mangaka wanting to do more with his script that perhaps anime isn’t accustomed to doing with a “mere” two-cour season.

When the season wanted to do more with the state of the world after the fall of All Might, it was fairly intriguing, because while the end result is fairly inevitable (villainy skyrockets), he tends to paint these villains as more than just “I’MMA BURN SHIT BECAUSE WHY NOT?!” These characters, who will inevitably have more of a point in the story at earlier junctions and with higher stakes, are better incorporated than the random heroes or one-off Big Three™ groups because their motivations are clear(-ish) and they have more to do than to let the pacing methods of introductory writing take the wheel.

In a phrase, he’s biting off more than he can chew. I may have said that before. And while I was writing that, I made the horrid realization that Mineta had more character-distinguishing moments than anyone else in the minor cast.

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But let’s ignore that and focus a little on the positives, yeah? I think I know the answer to this, but what was the best part of the season for you?

Karandi: Tricky question (not). My favourite part hands down was All Might’s final battle. Not so much for the fight itself (though that was pretty cool and Midoriya helping Bakugo without actually getting into the fight was also kind of cool) but more because of the greater implications in the world. I really wish that we’d get more on this because every time they touch on it, we get a moment that actually feels like it has weight and gets me very interested. Even during the exam arc, as dull as I found that, when they were actually discussing specific changes to the exam format because of how they wanted a different type of hero in the future, heroes focused on team work rather than individual achievements, it just felt like the previous events with Stain, All Might’s arc, and everything else were coming together to have a real impact on the society within the story.

That remains one of the great strengths of My Hero Academia even though, as you have said, the writer may very well be biting off more than he can chew. Unlike so many other super hero stories, this one really feels like events are shaping the lives of everyone in the world and the structure of society rather than just being a cool fight and then life goes on unchanged. I really enjoy that aspect of it and I really hope it continues as that is what keeps drawing me back into the story. How about your favourite part of the season?

Kapodaco: I am in total agreement. All Might’s final fight was the high point of the series bar-none. I don’t recall exactly, but I think I mentioned that the episode itself, the one where everything becomes “resolved,” was an easy 10/10 episode. So it wasn’t just the best episode of this series for me, but one of the best episodes of any anime I’ve ever seen. I can and cannot be emotional dependent on the subject matter, but that aspect of All Might and the significance of his passing of the torch was something that got me really hyped. It made me a fan of All Might, ironically in the same way it made everyone within the universe of the show a fan of All Might. That sheer, unquestioned passion and charisma to do what’s right was something this series can do phenomenally well with the amount of attention to detail in building upon it.

Though I will also give credit to a point where we tend to overlook because it directly followed a long chain of “meh” episodes. I really liked the final two episodes concerning the U-A students being ambushed by the League of Villains. It properly gave me what I wanted in other characters getting the spotlight and it presented an interesting potential for Bakugo’s character (which ended somewhat dully, but there’s still time) that I thought was intriguing at the time. It showcased the power of the League of Villains and the experience needed for the young heroes before they could properly handle a full-scale villain attack. There was a lot going on in those episodes that I really appreciated. I may also simply like it because it followed a lot of dull episodes, so I was really just looking for something to cheer for.

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Karandi: It is a good point that the power of the villains doesn’t get showcased very often and it is something that is somewhat lacking, particularly in the latter half of this season. We know there’s this threat sitting out there but we so rarely see them and that threat doesn’t feel overly connected to the main characters all that often, so this ambush was a really great moment in terms of seeing the students being at times overwhelmed by the villains and unprepared for dealing with the attack. It also gave them some great moments where we could see them working together and helping each other out in a fairly intense situation.

Alright, so which characters do you feel really shone in this season, if any?

Kapodaco: Well, the easy answer is Midoriya and Bakugo. Then again, they are the most important characters in this series, I think. All Might is definitely up there in importance, as well, but the moment he retired, it all fell to the younger generation, and Midoriya and Bakugo are two people who were totally inspired by All Might’s heroism. Their fight scene was a rare highlight in the second-part of the series, and they continue to be the only characters (okay, just Bakugo) that I see anyone I follow on Twitter care about. They were the shining spots of the season as an obvious answer.

If I had to give an answer concerning a minor character… It’s fairly difficult. A lot of the minor characters had some time to shine, specifically in the Provisional Exam Arc when they all had split up and what-not. I actually recall not minding the group consisting of Yaoyorozu, Asui, Jiro, and the masked dude with wings whose name I can never remember. Still, one episode—half an episode, really, doesn’t give them the credit of a “Shining spot” in the season. I guess if I had to pick a character among the minor cast… Aizawa. He may not have had any immensely notable scenes or important parts specifically to his character, but he’s the only character I’d consider minor who had an ever-present place on the season and provided enough input—whether serious or not—to give him a place in my memory banks. And hey, Aizawa’s cool. He should get a shout-out. What about you? Who do you like most rather than Wind Guy™?

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Karandi: What is Wind Guy’s name? He must have one, but I just don’t care enough to look it up. I think you are right about Aizawa. He was a fairly constant presence this season in each arc and while I still feel the basic education system in this world leaves a lot to be desired, he genuinely does look out for his students even if he doesn’t insist they all get a lot of therapy. I particularly liked his role after the first arc where he and All Might were apologising to parents and then his observations during the exam arc were fairly well received.

That said, if I was going to give a shout out to a minor cast member I’d probably go with Kirishima. He doesn’t do a huge amount that has a major impact on the plot, but I feel his presence with Bakugo has really helped to moderate Bakugo’s more extreme moments this season and it is a friendship that has formed gradually since season one to the point where you aren’t sure when they actually started being friends but it feels right that they are. I especially liked that he was involved in Bakugo’s rescue but even in the provisional license exam he was in Bakugo’s group for the duration. Anyway, he’s a character I hadn’t paid a huge amount of attention to previously and this season just made me realise that he’s a fairly useful presence with the dynamic of the group.

As far as main characters go, I was a little disappointed with Todoroki and Uraraka this season, though they both had their moments I just felt like they were just rehashing the same moments we’d already seen from these two characters. Don’t get me wrong, Uraraka is still adorable as she stares out the window at Midoriya and her decision to put her feelings to the side to focus on becoming a hero are pretty logical, but she’s just so underused in the story at this point. And Todoroki’s moment was a definite step backwards. So, yeah, I’d have to say Midoriya and Bakugo got the best moments from the main cast this season as well.

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Anything else you want to discuss before we wrap this up?

Kapodaco: Well, I would’ve suggested a worst moment of the season as a whole, though I guess we did sort of go on a spiel above about the series’ pacing and all. If I could say something about characters that disappointed me, I would agree with Todoroki, but would also like to throw in Iida. He had some good short moments here, but he was one of my favorite characters coming out of the first and second seasons, and here he’s basically a nagging mother to everyone and that’s kind of his shtick. Really would’ve liked to have seen more from him.

Karandi: I actually agree. Iida really has become a nagging mother and that’s his sole purpose at this point in the story. I’d really like to see him having a bit more personality next season, or they could just move him to the background rather than having him in scenes just to lecture.

Kapodaco: He’s not Mineta, though.

Karandi: True. And for the most part we’ve avoided mentioning Mineta. Though I wish the show would avoid mentioning Mineta. Or showing him. Or actually having him as a cast member. He gets more irritating every single episode. Or maybe I already hit my tolerance for his shtick and I wish they’d just drop it already.

Kapodaco: I regret bringing that up, because now we’re sort of just lingering before the finish line.

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Karandi: Right, so final thoughts?

Kapodaco: It was a letdown, but not so much that I think it hurts the overall appeal of the show. A lot of good foundational things are still present in the form of the League of Villains growing stronger, Midoriya (and now Bakugo) having more motivation to get stronger, and All For One promises to still be around, and I think he’s infinitely more interesting than half the other characters introduced in this show since the beginning. I’ll reiterate again that I want some focus on other characters, but it’s definitely hard with so little time for such hard, time-consuming work as animation. I’m still fairly enticed to watch the fourth season. I was actually a little intrigued by the end of your analysis this week on the final episode. Will you continue the series?

Karandi: I think I’m realising now how viewing seasonally changes my views on shows. My Hero Academia has a rich world and some really interesting ideas but season three I found really challenging to watch week to week. Between deliberate cliff-hanger endings, arcs that didn’t feel rewarding to watch, and just low points, I will admit that this season was a bit of a struggle. And it is a challenge I didn’t face when I watched Bleach because seasonal viewing wasn’t a thing (and I’m comparing to Bleach because other than Hunter x Hunter (still unfinished), these are the only long running shounen anime I’ve attempted). But if I picked season five of Bleach (or really any season after season three) and tried to review it episode to episode in a weekly format, I can imagine I’d be every bit as frustrated. Looking at the whole, there’s still a lot to like about My Hero Academia.

That kind of leaves me wondering if I will do episode reviews of season four or just wait until it is done and binge it. I did just buy the second season on DVD as a cheer me up present to myself and I’m really looking forward to binge watching that, and I think it might be my preferred viewing method for this kind of show. So, am I continuing? I think I’ll start season four episodicially, but I might end up bailing and waiting until it is done airing.

However, if you wanted to review it together again, I’d probably really enjoy that. It has been really great working with you on this and I’ve enjoyed discussing the show each week even when I haven’t enjoyed the show so much.

Kapodaco: If you want to collaborate with me again for the fourth season, I’d be more than willing. I came to you with this collaboration, if you recall. And this was certainly an experience I won’t ever forget. It’s likely the most rewarding thing I’ve done in the ani-blogging community ever. Should we do this again, however, I want the exclamation mark quantity increased to four.

Karandi: I think it’s agreed then (although maybe not about the exclamation marks). So on that note, let’s finish this because I think we’ve gone on quite long enough. I’m thinking we need a ‘Plus Ultra!’ or something to finish with, but I’ve got nothing.

Kapodaco: Leave it to me.

Everyone! Look forward to Karandi and I’s next collaboration on the fourth season of My Hero Academia! Visualist x100!!!!™ Coming again to a blog in the near future!!!!!!!! Plus Ultra!!!!!!!

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All Reviews:


Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed following along with us this season. Looking forward to the next one. Plus Ultra!

Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three Episode 24

Right so with one more episode to go My Hero Academia sets up… some sort of fight between first years and third years? I’m not entirely certain that this is really something I’m all that hyped for, but I guess we’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, this is how Kapodaco and I felt about the penultimate episode of the season.

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Karandi:

Well, I’m pretty much convinced at this point that season three is going to end on a reasonably unspectacular note despite the promise of a fight against one of UA’s top students. This season has just been all over the place and there’s no time left to build up to anything that would feel kind of actually climatic. I’m definitely feeling that from a seasonal point of view, it would have made more sense to have given us a single cour season ending with All Might’s retirement as that would have been a spectacular season end. Then this could be the mid-point of a new season rather than the ending.

Okay, now that I’m done rewriting the show, what was this episode like other than making me realise that there’s little next week will do to really reconsider my thoughts on this season?

Adequate. That’s really the best way to describe the episode.

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We get a half episode or so following around a monologuing villain and in the process get a feel for the genuine changes to society following All Might’s retirement. I genuinely enjoyed this section, though again, it isn’t going to build to something amazing in an episode (or at least it really shouldn’t). So if this had come earlier in the season I’d have been thrilled by this sequence but as a second last episode starting point I was kind of wondering where they think they are going with it.

The second half has the students attending their opening ceremony and we get some clear envy from Midoriya who feels like he’s being left out (due to the whole house arrest thing). And again, this section works well enough but isn’t exactly thrilling. I do wonder why at the end of the third season we’re still getting character names and quirks floating over the screen though. If you don’t know who Uraraka is at this point, you aren’t going to just because they put her name on the screen.

Honestly though, the introduction of the Big Three felt kind of lazy. Like they were just kind of dropped into the plot for the sake of convenience. Maybe they do something great with these characters but their introduction was a little bit underwhelming and again, we’ve only got one episode left so I’m not really expecting much to come from this at this point.

So, the episode works well enough. If this had been a mid-season episode it would have been fine. As a penultimate episode of a third season, I’m a little less than impressed though.

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Kapodaco:

There is absolutely nothing I could possibly add that would make my general thoughts on the episode any different from Karandi’s She is absolutely spot-on on just about everything.

I will add a few more thoughts on various moments, however. Notably with the beginning sequence.

I thought it was super cool to know more about… Two? Is that his name? The villain who reminds me a bit of anime Deadpool. His backstory is almost hilarious with how bizarre it is, and the fact that he seems like a reasonable dude despite his alignment is super fascinating. I was a little disappointed the whole episode wasn’t just about him. The state of the world after All Might’s “retirement” felt a little forced to me, though I suppose there’s little other way to make it known than to have things pan out in a point-blank fashion. Writing in this episode was also in danger of encroaching on Saturday-morning-cartoon levels of dumb (“If you’re trash, make like it and burn for me”) (paraphrasing).

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The moment I saw one of the “Big Three,” whose appearance is strikingly similar to that of All Might, I thought to myself, “Oh, God. Are we going to have one of those ‘I’M the proper replacement to All Might! Look how much he inspires me in my appearance and demeanor!’ type situations where Midoriya begins to question his worth as ‘the Chosen One’?” With one episode left, he’ll likely be prominent for any potential (or, frankly, inevitable) future seasons as the “new” rival or whatever. If correct, ugggggggggggggggh. This is such a lazy trope that I sincerely, sincerely hope the mangaka has some witty plans for, because doing it like any other of the thousands of series I’ve seen do it before would be very tiring.

Does anyone else notice that, aside from Todoroki, no other character than Midoriya and Bakugo seems to be getting any meaningful screentime? This episode has various characters make comments—Tsui says a thing, Tokoyami says a thing, Iida makes a few jokes—but they’re essentially background characters right now. I really miss the events when it displayed the input and potential for other characters, both in their powers and personality. It’s inevitable with about 365234625 characters that occasionally they’ll have to take a backseat, but with how well the series has been on showcasing them in the past, it feels like the mangaka is starting to bite off more than he can chew.

Meh. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the last episode turns out to be so unbelievably spectacular that it completely destroys Karandi and I’s expectations and makes us diehard fans for life? That’d be cool.

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Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 25 and the season final.

Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three Episode 22

The exam is done and now we know who passed and who failed, but more importantly, My Hero Academia is finally turning its attention to what is coming next. The story kind of stalled during the last arc and it kind of felt like we were spinning our wheels and just waiting for it to pass but episode 22 plunges us straight back into the very dynamic world of heroes and villains and this episode is much better for it. Kapodaco and I share our thoughts below, but we’d love to hear what you thought of the latest episode.

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Kapodaco:

Well, what do you know? It really was the Provisional Exam arc bogging down all the potential quality. The moment it ended, I became intrigued with the series again.

First and foremost, not only did Todoroki and Wind Guy™ not pass, but Bakugo didn’t pass, either. I feel like justice has been served with all my griping in the past weeks. This was slightly mitigated by the examiners giving them a fallback plan via a three-month course to essentially “correct” their faults… but they were all bound to pass anyway, so it’s a fine substitute. Nice of the series to not take the easy way out. Now I’d like to see if it will ever show the three characters in said three-month course. Probably not, but we’ll see.

Even more ominously, the bearer of hormonal jealousy ended up being a member of the League of Villains, who also revealed she had a drop of Midoriya’s blood. Seeing as Midoriya’s ingested All Might’s DNA (which I think in this case means it’s ingrained in his blood), this might hint at All Might clones, or something of the sort. That’s interesting.

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What I found to be the most riveting part of the episode was the talk between All Might and All For One, even if I think the reasoning for the meeting was bogus. It laid the foundation of what the world may be coming to, as nothing All For One said was unreasonable, which was what made it so threatening. Even behind bars, his influence and perspective is one that seems like he’s in complete control. This is a good villain—a very good one. Just out of curiosity, I’d like to see an episode that looks at what All For One claimed in his spiel, whether the world really was on edge and if villains felt more motivated to act.

And as if the developments wouldn’t end, Bakugo has figured out Midoriya got his quirk from All Might (which, frankly, is pretty obvious if anyone paid close attention). Now he wants to fight him. I don’t know about myself, but this is a moment many have been dying to see since the beginning. Bakugo and Midoriya duking it out, presumably going all out. If I may make a prediction—as I normally do—the moment the fight actually kicks up, something bad will happen that’ll stop the fight midway… assuming they even fight at all with Midoriya fidgeting and hesitating.

While not quite a return to All Might form, this episode definitely went back to the formula that worked so well for the series in the past. Lots of developments happening all at once, great danger being seeded in the minds of the heroes, and the prospect of something bigger in the distance. I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, far more than the the last, say, four or five episodes. I’m sincerely hoping the season ends on a high note.

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Karandi:

I also found this episode far more enjoyable than pretty much anything we’ve seen since the exam started, though despite the many positives to come out of this episode I don’t think it makes the previous episodes any more palatable. It was great to see that they did fail some students but then I felt they undermined that by giving them that second chance rather than making them wait for the next exam.

Still, credit where it is due, and for the first time ever, they made a sensible move in terms of providing actual and real feedback to the students to assist them in improving. Why we don’t see this more often in exams and anime schools is a  little beyond me but so many of them take the Food Wars approach of pass or get out and never be heard from again, which kind of defeats the purpose of them being in school. That was a solid bit of world building and brought some credibility to everything we’d sat through in terms of the first elimination round and then the observations during the second round, including not just removing candidates who dropped below the pass mark.

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Like Kapodaco, I also really enjoyed the conversation between All Might and All For One. I love the idea that both mentors are essentially benched in terms of being active participants and it is the next generation and those that they’ve inspired (for better or worse) will carry on the fight. Though there’s definitely something ominous about the fact that All For One is still alive in general. All that security just seems like it is begging for a break in and break out by the villains later to rally the troops further and showing us what it all looks like means we’re now kind of expecting to see someone getting through all of that.

Then we have Midoriya and Bakugo. I’ll take a moment to happily jump up and down at how cute Midoriya was when he was smiling at his license and taking a photo of it to send to his mum and All Might. Then I’ll get to the more serious confrontation between these two which has been a very long time coming and while I’m expecting them both to get in trouble with a teacher if they actually start fighting at school (wasn’t the whole point of moving them on campus to provide actual supervision) I would very much like to see a one on one between these two characters.

While not a stand out episode, this one was a pretty solid return to what I enjoy about this anime and I kind of hope this season doesn’t lose steam again and manages to finish on a high note.

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Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 23.

OWLS Blog Tour: One Foot In Front of the Other

Welcome to my August OWLS post. This month we explore the theme of Journeys and it has been an exciting month with so many great posts already coming out. The schedule is below so if you missed any posts you can be sure to catch them up.

OWLS  are a group of otaku bloggers who promotes acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. OWLS emphasise the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being. Each month, OWLS will look at a specific theme. If you want to know more, please do click on the logo in the side bar.

The theme for August: Journey

“We have all heard this saying in some shape or form: “Life is a journey.” We travel down a path in hope that we reach a goal or destination, but the travel in getting there isn’t always easy. Along the way, we encounter some personal struggles. It is in those moments where we must overcome an adversity to complete our journey or take a different route or path instead. In this month’s OWLS post, we will be discussing the personal journeys of pop culture creators, icons, and characters. We will explore the journeys that these characters went through, discuss the process and experiences they had on their journeys, what they discover about themselves, or share our own personal journeys.”

One Foot in Front of the Other

The Hero’s Journey is one of the most standard plots stories can deliver us. For people who shun cliche, generic, or ordinary narratives, this one is probably the one they like the least because we’ve seen it time and time again with almost no variation. But they kind of miss the point. While it might seem that a journey should be plot driven and surprising, what makes the Hero’s Journey worth following is the character themselves. It is their journey that we’re interested in.

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We all know that wherever we meet the hero, something is going to happen to take them from their ordinary life into the start of their journey (the call to action). We know that they’ll probably resist at first (sometimes a lot and sometimes not much) but they will eventually realise they need to go (accepting the call). Stuff will happen and there will be a set-back, generally speaking someone the hero knows will die or suffer some consequence because the hero wasn’t yet strong enough or has made a mistake (defeat). However, because this is a hero’s journey, they will rise up and overcome that weakness before succeeding in some way (rebirth/atonement). And lastly they will return home their character forever changed by the events they have experienced.

It is a story we know well. It comes straight out of mythology from almost every culture and remains practically unchanged into the modern world. We may make our protagonists more edgy, self-aware, glib, or whatever, but they are all still walking this same path.

I thought really long and hard about what example to use for this particular theme and I ended up being overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. However, I ultimately decided to focus on a journey that I got to experience in a more personal manner. So I turned to Lara Croft’s journey in Tomb Raider (2013), as you actually get to walk this journey with the protagonist.

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What I think is worth remembering about all of these journey’s is that while the character in question, in this case Lara, do have an end goal when they are called to action, finding out what happened to her father, the steps in between are always shrouded a bit in mystery. The character makes a choice in an effort to get closer to their goal and then they are forced to react to the world and the problems that their choice has brought them.

For anyone who has played Tomb Raider, you will know that you spend quite a lot of time running, avoiding capture, and figuring out if you should try for a more careful approach or just go in with your bow and hope the opponent doesn’t have a gun.

See Lara ends up in a situation she never even imagined. After getting washed up on the beach after the storm sends the boat onto the rocks, she’s hurt and alone and left with very little equipment. She literally has to take it one step at a time as she figures out what is happening on this tropical island and slowly builds up her weapons and abilities, learning from experience and growing after each encounter.

There are no short cuts on this journey. No steps that can be skipped. Every experience is a valuable one in preparing Lara for what is to come. And while you might be able to predict more or less what is coming next in any sequence as this is a fairly familiar tale, it remains engaging and exciting because Lara as a character is someone you want to see succeed.

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And that’s the true beauty of the hero’s journey. It doesn’t matter that we’ve seen this story before. It really doesn’t. Because when executed well it is gloriously engaging. We see our own lives reflected in it where we set a goal for ourselves but the steps that we will take to get there are dictated by circumstances and unexpected obstacles will find their way onto our path and we’ll have to react to them. We learn as we go. We learn from failure. We also get hurt and knocked down but then we need to choose. Do we get back up and try again or do we hit the exit button and leave the game entirely?

The Schedule for August (be sure to check out any posts that you have missed):

4:  Shay (Anime Reviewer Girl)

7: Takuto (Takuto’s Anime Cafe)

9:  Matthew Castillo (Matt-in-the-Hat)

12: Lita (Lita Anime Corner)

13: Shoka (Shokamoka’s Blog of Wonders)

15: Moonid

16: Jack (The Aniwriter)

17: Z (aniblogplay)

18:  Dale (That Baka Blog)

21: Marth (Marth’s Anime Blog)

22: Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews)

23:  Mel (Mel in Anime Land)

25: Dylan (DynamicDylan)

26: Marina (Anime B&B)

28: Steph (TwoHappyCats)

29: Karandi (100 Word Anime)

30: Megan (Nerd Rambles)

31:  Rai (Rai’s Anime Blog)


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Visualist x 100!! – My Hero Academia Season Three: Special(?)

That question mark in the title is deliberate because to be honest there’s nothing special about this episode. Random filler would be a better episode description and while that isn’t great news it still could have clawed itself to the status of at least entertaining filler. Tragically, that is not the case and the resulting mess has left both Kapodaco and me decidedly underwhelmed.

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Kapodaco:

Let’s get a few things out of the way right now, this episode is all of these things:

Filler, an advertisement, unnecessary, fan service, random.

Even with all of this in mind, I genuinely would not mind an incredibly random and out of place episode that has nothing to do with what came before if it was in any way good or fun. After all, with as monotonous as the series has been of late, it’s pretty amusing to see that even the anime itself is so bored of itself that it decided to take a quick detour.

Unfortunately, the ensuing content could not only escape the soulless and meandering negative tie-ins attributed to the tags listed above, but it ultimately showcased very, very little of what this series can offer in terms of writing prowess or energetic fun.

The six most popular characters—or perhaps just the mangaka’s favorites—(hence “fan service”) are tasked with playing Clue because it’s “special training.” That’s all this episode is. I see very little value in how this will prepare them all with being heroes and very little value outside of putting this into the Mystery genre as to why I’m supposed to care about sudden “Whodunnit?” content. The extent of fun things we got to see in this episode is Bakugo getting angry/irritated and blowing things up.

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What makes this even worse is that sprinkled in the beginning and ending segments of this episode are little tidbits of All Might’s past as a pro hero, putting extra effort to showcasing his sidekick while in America, David Shield. The end of this episode proudly proclaims that All Might and Midoriya are going to visit I-Island to visit Shield and his daughter… only to then announce that this will all become available “in the movie.” The movie. Oh. So this was the most popular heroes playing Clue and building up to an actually-interesting premise that won’t be featured in the main series, but a spin-off movie. Thanks.

It’s pretty difficult to not outright tell this episode to fuck itself, but I suppose if they wanted to produce a random episode that diverges from the main plot to sell a product, at least they did it here and not the episode before All Might loses all ability to go super. I’d be a lot more angry if the placement of this filler content was in-between actually riveting content, but even on its own, it’s still pretty inherently disruptive and shallow.

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Karandi:

Am I allowed to copy and paste Kapodaco’s rant? Seriously, I’d really like to.

I actually enjoy Clue (or Cluedo) and locked room mysteries are inherently fun. So why can’t My Hero Academia, a show produced by Bones and in season one and two really nailing the fun tone, manage to make a one off episode with this premise entertaining?

And it really isn’t entertaining. Even if I overlook the fact that we end with a blatant plug for a movie and the fact that we disrupted what little flow the exam arc had, this episode in and of itself is not fun. Each character does exactly what you would expect from them giving the single more one note performances ever. It was like someone gave these characters to the hands of writers who had read their profile and never watched a single episode of the show.

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Midoriya mutters and puts things together, Iida is overly procedural, Bakugou is a bit of a hot-headed jerk and the other three are there because people like them. Seriously, they don’t contribute anything. Todoroki in particular could have been erased from every single scene without a single line needing to be rewritten and that is a horrendous misuse of his character.

I won’t belabour it any further. This is a waste of twenty minutes of your life. It isn’t fun. It doesn’t contribute to the characters in any meaningful way. And unless you were clueless about the movie coming out it doesn’t really tell you anything new about the franchise. All and all, watch literally anything else.

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Previous Reviews:


Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Kapodaco’s blog next week when we review episode 21.