Just Because Episode 1: Just Life

Overview:

At the end of the second semester of third year of high school, four students are prepared for graduation and feel the ending to their high school life. But that changes a little with the arrival of a transfer student.

– From MAL

Review:

Normally this is the kind of show I kind of hesitate to start because no matter how good it is I just know I’m going to end up wondering what the point of it is. Fortunately for me, it seems like most of the characters in this show are in search of a point or have accepted that mostly there isn’t one as they go about their frantic activities as their school lives wrap up.

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So instant relatability. We also don’t just follow one person through an entire day at school but rather move fairly fluidly from group to group with multiple individual problems, dilemas and ideas being introduced. While that makes it more or less impossible to remember all the character names after one episode, it gave a sense of forward motion that I usually don’t get from these kinds of stories and I greatly appreciated it.

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All and all, these characters have the potential to be charming enough, and there’s certainly enough possibilities for future events that could come up from the set up. While there isn’t anything new from a narrative point of view, I really did like the execution and pacing of this episode and am kind of keen to see more at the moment.


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Anime-Gataris Episode 2: The References Just Keep Coming

Review:

I really had a lot of fun with this episode. From a story point of view it is pointless. Girls recruit new club members and start a club which is then immediately challenged by I’m guessing the student council because what else do you do when you are a self-aware high school comedy focussed around a new club? Still, from start to finish they are packing in the anime references. My two favourites go to the shout out to Haruhi Suzumiya and Sword Art Online.

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Questioning her use of the word ‘standard’ here.
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This particular title will never get old.

However, for all that this is silly and fun, as well as slightly ominous with the talking cat and mysterious room mystery being totally ignored even though that is clearly the only chance of an actual plot appearing, this episode made an excellent point about how closed off the anime community sometimes is. Minoa is struggling hard to follow conversations and the logic of hard-core fans with well established arguments and at times you kind of realise why new fans might get turned away.

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It isn’t particularly deep and meaningful, but I think most people who are anime fans will recognise the scenarios presented. This one is definitely a surprise for me this season and I am so far really having fun with it.


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King’s Game Episode 2: Meaningless Flashback

Review:

Both King’s Game and Black Clover decided to eat a lot of their second episode run time with extended flashback sequences. In the case of Black Clover it was to establish a relationship between the two main characters that had already more or less been established and could have been shown clearly in less than half the time they spent on it. In King’s Game we get to see the first King’s Game that Nobu was a part of.

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The issue being, we already knew how that game ended. He’s the only survivor so we do not care nor plan to get invested in anyone we see in the flashback. We already know how the game works as we’ve seen it through the first episode and they’ve clearly established that you die as a consequence of failing an order. And we already knew Nobu was traumatised from the experience of the first game. So what were we actually supposed to get out of that?

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Flashbacks need to expand on what we know about the character or the plot and all this one did was confirm that the King’s Game is real and it sucks and the audience already knew that. Actually, what this flashback really did was ensure the plot in the story we’re actually watching only progressed by a tiny little increment as we have Natsuko first pretending to be a damsel in distress and then showing that she’s totally psychotic and manages to get the whole class hating Nobu again.

While I’m still pretty into the idea here and wanting to see more of the story, the cracks in this narrative are showing up really quickly and they need to start filling some of them in or this is all just going to fall apart.


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Anime-Gataris Episode 1: A Pleasant Surprise

Overview:

Just as soon as she enters Sakaneko Private High School, Asagaya Minoa is dragged into the anime club by her classmate, Kamiigusa Alice, even though she knows next to nothing about anime. A classmate, Kouenji Miko, along with other anime-loving senpais, quickly turn her into an anime fan. Fighting off the incessant shut-down threats of the student council, and completely oblivious to the coming apocalypse, the anime club talks about anime in the club, at Akihabara, at anime Meccas, and at hot springs.

– from Crunchyroll

Review:

This is the kind of show I try usually just to confirm it is what I think it is from the excessively pink haired smiling protagonist surrounded by generic assortment high school tropes pretending to be characters in the art work. And usually I get about ten minutes in, feel satisfied that the show is not doing anything I didn’t expect, drop and move on.

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And yet, I didn’t feel any compulsion to stop watching during this. In fact, I laughed out loud a couple of times, rolled my eyes a few other times, and generally sat up and paid attention to the over the top silliness and the sheer number of misappropriated anime they managed to squeeze into some of those conversations. My favourite was ‘The Girl Who Slept Through Time’.

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Alright, there’s nothing new about self-aware comedy or taking cheap pot shots at light novels, anime, or the culture surrounding it, and there’s certainly nothing new about directly referencing the material you’re making fun of, but this episode made me laugh and to be honest, that was enough.

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I don’t know if I’ll make it through a whole season of this or whether that initial good feeling I got from this episode will wear away after a couple of derivative and fairly mindless episodes, but I’m willing to give this a go and hope for the best.


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TWOCAR Episode 1: Just Not For Me

Review:

I kind of knew starting this that I probably wasn’t the audience for this show so while there is actually nothing wrong with this as a first episode it absolutely did not appeal to me. When we got to six minutes and the race commentator was still introducing each quirky team so that each girl had a chance to say something witty and show off their particular quirk (twins, cross-dressing, goth-loli, etc), I definitely knew this show wasn’t something I was going to stick out.

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Despite that, I did get to the end of the episode and was still pretty indifferent to everything that was going on. It looks nice enough, has set up the characters, and pretty much has done what it needs to do as a first episode, so if you like high school girl club stories and felt what was missing from your life was one that involved motor-sports than this might be for you.

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For me though, I’ll leave this show here.


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King’s Game Episode 1: This Could Get Interesting

Overview:

Kanazawa Nobuaki has transferred to a high school far from where he used to live. Due to an incident at his old school, Nobuaki is afraid of getting close to his new classmates and keeps himself at a distance, but he starts opening up because of a sports day inter-class relay. Then, a single text message from someone calling themselves the “King” is sent to everyone in class. Nobuakiā€™s classmates think it’s a simple prank, and don’t take it seriously–but Nobuaki knows that a death game is about to begin, and struggles to oppose it

– From Crunchyroll

Review:

It is very hard to judge a supernatural horror from a first episode, mostly because you can get something really lame and have it turn out amazing, or you can have something pretty decent that doesn’t manage to do anything with its set up. King’s Game definitely gave us the fairly decent beginning.

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That said, it doesn’t do much to break from your standard horror tropes (which is probably why it works so well for me because this is very much slipping into comfortable viewing). Nobuaki has been through the King’s Game before and is traumatized so even before anything happens at his new school he’s on edge and trying to keep classmates at a distance. Already we know he’s going to give in and make friends and it is going to end tragically. The class photo more or less sealed that deal.

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Though, I like that they return to this at the end to do the body count. And that is where this kind of deviated from the expected. It wasn’t just one dead in the first episode to prove the seriousness of the game. Ten die in the first episode. Which makes far more sense when they don’t yet know to take the game seriously (and who ever listens to the ravings of the one student who claims that it is real), and they don’t yet know the consequences. So it makes a lot of sense that they aren’t checking their phone and they aren’t taking the instructions seriously and the high body count (while clearly being played for shock value) automatically lets the audience know that we just shouldn’t get attached to these characters.

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They also lay to rest the question of whether this is supernatural or a serial killer with that final death of the episode being unable to be anything but unnatural (if they try and explain that away later I’m calling bull on it).

There is however some fairly gory imagery and horror isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea so this isn’t going to appeal to everyone (plus they start the episode with my least favourite trauma as the main character dreams of drowning).

That said, I’m pretty sold on this for the season. Even if it derails, bad horror can still be entertaining and this was a pretty good set up. I’m in and if I change my mind later I’ll pretend I never said that.


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Gamers Episode 12: Interesting Choices

Review:

One thing Gamers has been consistent about is going in a different direction to what I have expected to the point where I stopped trying to make predictions for this show many episodes ago. This final episode is no exception.

The introduction sequence where we are reunited with the other guy Tendou recruited into the gaming club, who we pretty much haven’t seen since the first couple of episodes, narrates his own back story. Why this is suddenly needed, I’m not sure, but as usual with this show it managed to be just silly enough to make me smile. We then get our usual opening before we get back to our usual group of 5 casual gamers going to a hot spring for a gaming meet because… reasons?

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However, here is where you could pretty much turn the visuals off and just listen to the dialogue, or read the subs, as the visuals more or less add nothing for the remainder of the episode. The dialogue however is like listening to a heated debate on the radio and is at times quite entertaining as Aguri challenges the gaming fanatics on the cost of their games and on having to buy DLC.

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There’s one scene where the three girls end up in the hot spring, because anime, and while they are having a fairly serious conversation about what sort of DLC they prefer in games the visuals just show various suggestive shots of the girls in the water. Really adding absolutely nothing to anything and quite boring given other the occasional slow pan these shots may as well be still images and do not relate to the conversation you are trying to follow. I’m not anti-fan service but I had to wonder why this was included.

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So this final episode added nothing to the resolution of the various characters relationship issues although it did confirm that the two couples were still couples and hadn’t disintegrated from all the misunderstandings earlier in the series. And other than the intro where we got some back ground on one member of the gaming club, the gaming club made no appearance. Essentially, this was a group of gamers discussing gaming and defending their positions. That’s all it was. For me it worked and I left this series with a smile, but really if someone were to say this episode was pointless I wouldn’t have much leg to stand on to argue against that view point.

Full series review coming soon.


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Fastest Finger First Episode 12: Define Fun

Review:

As expected, this anime has ended by wrapping up the meet though really the tension in the episode ended with the end of the match up between Koshiyama and Mikuriya (no spoiler on how that goes). Basically, there’s a lot more story implied with where the two go from here after this meet but as this is the final episode there’s a real question of whether we’ll ever get a second season or if this is really it for the anime.

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I had a lot of fun with this final episode though will admit that other than watching characters over think questions, and seeing people try to deal with Akira, nothing really happened. Of course, it is a show about quizzing so I’d probably have been a bit put out if they’d tried anything else for a final.

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I’ll get to a full review of this show later but I think the biggest disappointment is that the characters still haven’t been developed much at all. Because we spend so much time with the quizzes, any characterization is definitely taking a back seat.


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Gamers Episode 10: A Tale of 5 Teenagers

Review:

There’s no mistaking we’ve come along way from the original set-up of Keita being asked to join the Gamers Club at school. That isn’t to say that every step has been good and right now I’m wondering how we got where we are, given if someone described this episode to me and told me I should watch the show I would probably laugh at them, and yet somehow this is oddly compelling.

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I think it is the slow boiling effect in that they’ve just slowly turned up the craziness and now we’re fully immersed in this ridiculous love pentagon thing and I’m not sure even the characters remember who they think likes who at this point.

Still, the two characters who stood out to me this episode for contrasting reasons were Chiaki and Aguri. Prior to this episode, if you had asked me which of these two characters I liked the most I wouldn’t have picked Aguri. Yet, coming out of episode 10, she’s the clear winner for one simple and obvious reason.

This episode sees Chiaki waiting around for Keita to help her untangle her part in the story and still fail to actually accept her own feelings. Essentially, she’s playing the damsel in distress and making no moves of her own to get to a happy ending. On the other hand, while Aguri is making no progress with her actual boyfriend, she stands up for herself and abandons a meeting with a ‘friend’ from middle-school when they start insulting gamers. Aguri acts with integrity and determination and sticks to her own convictions. Admittedly, she follows this up with crying and running so it isn’t a perfect character moment, but of the three girls this episode, Aguri is the one who has the most agency as a character and it was really great to see.

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As for Tendou, well, she hasn’t really had a part in this story for awhile and her most compelling moments this episode were quite literally phoned in. Hopefully she gets to step up again in the next episode.

It is a bizarre little story and while I’m caught up in it now it is becoming increasingly difficult to think that I would recommend it after it is complete.


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Fastest Finger First Episode 11: Low Level Thrills Ahead

Review:

There’s not a lot to this episode beyond the obvious and yet when it ended I felt my body relax because I’d clearly been tensing up during most of the second half. It’s kind of fun to be that caught up in a single character’s emotions even if the end result is quite a sore neck.

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The third round of the quiz meet continues with the second group and Akira is back in his sister’s school uniform and determined to generally annoy people. I still really hate Akira’s character but I give credit to the creators because clearly that is what his character is intended for.

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The real thrill here though is Koshiyama as well see him employing everything he has learned about quizzes and questions as well as a fair desire to win even when he doubts he can. I particularly loved the final question mostly because he did exactly what I would do when I know I’ve come across a piece of information but can’t remember it. Of course they end on a cliff-hanger but from what I’ve been able to find out next week will be the final episode of the season so I guess things will come to an end one way or another then.


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