Attack on Titan Review Season 3 Part 2 Episode 5

Just wow.

Eren and Armin - Attack on Titan Season 3

Episode 5

Wow! Ouch! Wow again. And let’s throw an ‘ooh’ in there for good measure.

Yep, episode 5 of Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2 has rendered me effectively speechless and trying to describe the emotional response to this episode results in onomatopoeia, word salad, and mostly inarticulate phrases. Shock, horror, celebration, stunned silence, horror again, utter depression, minor triumph, followed by the stillness that comes from being so confused about how I feel and yet moved nonetheless.

The Beast Titan
A truly hopeless situation and one where there will be no eleventh hour rescue. Regardless of how contrived, this works emotionally.

It isn’t as though the episode is some model of perfection. There’s sections of animation that aren’t as polished as some of the sequences we were getting in season one, the character points are all very much orchestrated as are the emotional notes. It isn’t in the slightest bit subtle as we see the death and disaster roll out before us and other than a moment of excellent timing there’s nothing overly clever about it.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2 Episode 5 - Armin

What makes this episode work is that it is the culmination of the all the events leading up to it. Each character moment, whether it is Levi, Armin, Eren, Jean, Bertholdt, Reiner, or the random scout who apparently survived the suicide charge, fits beautifully as the next step in their journey’s even if that step seems to be the end of the line.

Levi - Attack on Titan Season 3
In this moment I finally understood the Levi fandom.

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This is where episodic reviewing is a problem. In terms of spectacle, this episode brought it. Again, it could have been more polished in places, but it looks good enough (significantly better than a lot of anime out there). There’s enough going on to keep the audience hooked and invested with sufficient pauses for the characters to have their moments. However, this episode doesn’t progress plot or the like. It consolidates a sequence of events we’ve been watching and invested in over the last few weeks and as such it nails the perfect emotional climax.

The moment of death – approximately two seconds after this image was captured. Again, ouch.

I’m not going to say what happened, you should just watch it. However, new respect for Levi. That was pretty amazing. Eren gets an incredibly bitter-sweet triumph with a heavy dose of the bitter side of it. And Armin… well, as I said, just watch the episode.

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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The Best Way To Catch A Liar…

The Promised Neverland post title image

The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Review

There’s a definite sense of menace in some of the scenes from The Promised Neverland this week. Isabella confronting Krone is an icy exchange made even more chilling by the incredibly calm way Isabella speaks. Ray and Norman’s exchanges get increasingly more volatile as the episode progresses and nearly come to a head after Norman lies to Gilda and Don about the fate of poor Conny. However, they save the real bombshell for the final moments of the episode and in case you’ve managed to avoid being spoiled already I’ll leave that right there.

The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Mother and Sister Krone

Treachery is a real theme with Krone setting out not just to betray Isabella but to thoroughly take her down. The only real problem is that Krone is so transparent that Isabella’s seen straight through her and Krone’s only real piece in the game cuts her free during the episode. It makes you wonder whether Krone will manage to be a wild card that Norman can’t predict given she’s the only one likely to act erratically in this three way stand off.

The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Don

Meanwhile, Emma lies to Gilda and Don, and she does so before Norman does. While I understand that human trafficking is probably an easier story to swallow than demons eating children it still must have hurt her to deceive them. Even more so when asked point blank about Conny and Norman ended up leaving that answer ambiguous rather than clearly stating what the audience has known from the end of episode one.

The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Ray

However, while there are plots bubbling away here and the interactions between the characters become even more driven leading us toward the inevitable escape attempt, I can’t help but feel like some of the tension was gone in this episode and that the atmosphere wasn’t laying as thickly. It took a second viewing to really figure out why and it is the stark absence of interesting shot types this week. Gone are the clocks that dominated episode one (though we do still get the occasional clock sequence as they check a watch or similar), and a lot of the interesting camera angle and other direction choices that have really set a tone of unease were absent this week. There’s some great character blocking to be sure, but while that establishes personalities it isn’t driving the atmosphere of the story.

The Promised Neverland Episode 4 Ray, Emma and Norman

Ultimately it is a mild complaint about an anime that continues to be entertaining and leaves me wanting more, but if this diminished development of atmosphere continues The Promised Neverland is going to have to be carried by just its cast and the events in each episode. While these are good enough, it isn’t going to make this a must watch so I’m hopeful we see this aspect of it stepping back up next week.

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The Promised Neverland’s First Episode Promises Much, Will It Deliver?

The Promised Neverland post title image

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Review

I kind of wanted to go with a Peter Pan reference for the title. Something along the lines of, “These kids really won’t grow up,” but it seemed a little bit facetious particularly as I’m going in blind to this series. While I did buy the first volume of the manga it is currently sitting in my reading backlog though after this first episode I’m kind of desperate to go devour it because while I know not everything is out yet this season, but this anime is kind of the one I’m most excited about right now.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Emma and friends

There was a lot of hype in the pre-season about The Promised Neverland, but after the snore-fest that Angels of Death turned out to be I have definitely become better at filtering out pre-season chatter. I went in to this episode expecting very little and instead found a well directed, well structured, and beautifully paced premiere that instantly drew me into this story and these characters. Every single scene feels meaningfully thought out and nothing takes up more screen time then it should. The establishment of the happy orphanage with the understanding that things are not what they seem is beautifully portrayed and while you may not know what the actual reveal is going to be, you have a fair idea of Conny’s fate.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Conny

See, this isn’t relying on shock factor. It isn’t relying on a jump scares. It is genuinely building up a world where things are genuinely horrific for the characters and while the audience is let in on the wrongness of the world through a myriad of visual cues, we discover exactly what that wrongness is at the same time as the characters in a sequence that manages to make our protagonists look as small and vulnerable as they actually are in this world.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Emma and Norman

While I won’t deny things might go south for this series, the first episode was a fantastic introduction to this world. It revealed enough to make it feel purposeful while giving us a million questions. At the same time, it has given me the confidence to believe the answers to those questions are going to be explored.

I will definitely be watching this one. For an anime title tagged with horror, this one comes across as fairly smart and so far has been incredibly engaging, and I will admit I am far more intrigued by the sci-fi aspect after the second half of the episode. All and all, this one has hooked me and I am hungry for more.

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Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Series Review: Cute Kids, How Will They Die?

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.

Pretty much no changes in my opinion on this one so again, this post is for people who started following my blog after it came out. I did do some edits but otherwise the post has remained much the same.


Higurashi is one of those anime that truly divide the viewers. Some people love the slow approach and the absolute contrast between the cute kids doing absolutely nothing to the horrendous violence that will follow, whereas others are bored to tears by the every day activities of the characters or are nauseated by the level to which the violence is taken given the age of the characters. I definitely fell into the loved it camp but I will acknowledge that the series does have a number of glaring flaws. I’m going to attempt to avoid any major plot spoilers but that does mean that there’s going to be some points that I’m just going to have to skip.


I’m going to start with the main flaws of the show so that I can end by discussing what is amazing about this show.

First Criticism: The art and animation

I’m not even going to pretend that there is a justification for some of the animation in Higurashi. While at times it seems that the clunky style and odd off-model characters are being used for dramatic effect, mostly it just seems inconsistent and at times even ugly. I’m not normally one to criticise this aspect of an anime but in Higurashi it is absolutely the weakest part of the anime and I know from some people that this is the deal breaker for them.


Second Criticism: So season one finished and we know…?

Yeah. If you watch Higurashi you are definitely investing in a two season viewing. The time loop aspect of this show certainly gets under some people’s skin (but that’s what this show is so if you don’t like time loops you probably aren’t even going to start watching this), but that isn’t the problem. The problem is that you watch an entire season of time loops and while there are definitely some crucial reveals in that first season, you have no idea what they are or what is happening because explanation of the phenomenon starts with episode 1 of season 2.


On that note, the reason this didn’t throw me from enjoying this is because I accidentally watched season 2 first, not knowing it was a sequel. I just thought the flashbacks were flashbacks until I found out that they were actually scenes from the first season. And that’s a criticism. When the entire first season is actually unnecessary to make sense of your mystery (it does add some important character points and certainly enriches your understanding of some things but it isn’t necessary) then you have to wonder if the plot might have been able to be trimmed down into one season in the first place.

Third Criticism: Science

I know I said I was going to avoid major plot spoilers and so that’s going to make this point a bit threadbare however anyone who understands anything about mental health, parasites, or epidemics is going to tear some of the explainers in this anime apart. And while the vaguely supernatural feeling of the show (and some actual supernatural elements) may allow us to excuse some shoddy science, a lot of what enables events in the plot is the funding into the research taking place in the village. Who would fund that research with the explanations the audience are given?


Final Criticism: Too cute is too cute

The character designs of the group of classmates, the weird punishment games, the overly cute way of speaking attributed to Rika, Satoko’s pretend villains laugh, and even the theme that banding together will allow you to overcome trials you can’t by yourself… For a horror/suspense/mystery piece there’s a lot of overly sweetness and cuteness running around and at times it detracts from the atmosphere of what is otherwise a reasonably solid effort.  Yes they are trying to establish a contrast and succeeding, but the balance (particularly in the first season) is thrown out by the length of time we watch kids playing games with little to nothing happening. Even the first arc of the second season seems to drag us through a slice of life comedy rather than anything even vaguely suspenseful.

Let’s move on to the good stuff.

First Reason To Love Higurashi: Understanding of horror

Higurashi is not just a slasher gone wrong with the expectation that it will shock audience because the cast are so very young. The violence is actually crafted beautifully to play upon the universal fears of the its audience. It finds those actions and thoughts that it knows will elicit a very strong response and presses those buttons in just the right manner to make you feel that little bit shocked, sickened and completely and totally engaged.


So if you aren’t a horror fan and don’t like the feelings that horror done well can evoke, then Higurashi is never going to be for you. But for those who want horror that actually gives them that emotional response (and not laughter at the cheesiness of something) then you will find some really well developed psychological attacks in this story. While the animation and at times the characters themselves may intrude upon the experience, it is horror done well.

Second Reason To Love Higurashi: Resolution


Too many stories, particularly horror stories, just leave you hanging. There are unresolved plot threads and character arcs left dangling and some things just never make sense. Maybe they were distractions or red-herrings but they just never fit with the overall story. Higurashi isn’t that story. By the end we know why we are time looping (even if the specifics of the power behind it aren’t explained). We know who was behind orchestrating the tragedies that occurred in each time loop. We know how they finally broke the cycle of tragedy. We know what each character’s individual weakness was and how they faced it to move forward. Really, what few plot threads are left open (mostly about characters and events outside of the village) do not seem very important. We have all the answers we truly need and it is satisfying.

And unlike other horror anime (Another, I am pointing the finger at you), Higurashi decidedly ends the tragedy. There’s no next year where things are just going to start all over again with a new group. The only thing that isn’t resolved with any level of satisfaction is the question of whether any of the characters will ever be able to leave the village.

Thrid Reason To Love Higurashi: It get’s better on rewatch

I’ve mentioned this when talking about a few anime (such as One Punch Man), that some stories just don’t hold up to a rewatch. I know that punchline, that character isn’t very interesting a second time round, there’s no compelling reason to be engaged with the plot a second time. Higurashi wasn’t like that for me. In fact, every time I rewatch it I find something new that I hadn’t noticed before. Some throw-away line that adds significant understanding to a character action or choice, some expression on a character’s face that signifies what they will do later in that arc, the links between arcs and timelines, there’s always something new to find.


Fourth Reason to Love Higurashi: Memorable characters

I know I haven’t given the characters a good write up so far. The kids are overly cute and the adults are all on the periphery, but they are all actually more compelling than they might appear at first. On the surface of the kids you have the smart boy who has gotten into trouble but now has his own little harem, the troubled girl with the bad home life, the cute priestess type, the tom-boy, and the weirdly obsessed with cute things girl. However each of these characters has a detailed story and through each cycle you learn more about them and by the end of the second series the audience really can connect with these characters which makes their success even more satisfying.


As I said at the start, I do fall into the camp of loving Higurashi. I love horror and this anime hit the right notes for me. I found the mystery engaging, I really grew to love the characters, and I got just the right amount of shock from the horror in the story (though the needle in the food kind of froze me for a moment even though this is arguably one of the less horrific moments).

Should you watch Higurashi? That entirely depends on what you are looking for and what you can tolerate in an anime. If bad animation is a deal breaker, then you are probably going to pass on this. If you like fast moving stories or horror that just keeps ramping up the violence, you will probably pass on this. That said, there’s plenty for horror lovers to enjoy in this story.

If  you’ve watch Higurashi, let us know your thoughts.

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James


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Tuesday’s Top 5: 90’s Horror Movies for Halloween Binge Watching

Tuesday's Top 5

Now we come to the final Halloween top 5 post and while I’d love to do another anime binge list, there just aren’t enough new horror anime to really justify it this year. So instead I decided to turn my attention to the movies that made me the ridiculous horror fan I am today. Given I was only 16 when the 90’s ended, I probably shouldn’t have watched most of these movies during the 90’s but I definitely did. I loved them. And this list is just the tip of the ice-berg.

For this binge list I decided to go for teen horror flicks that deliver every cliche in the book and are perfect for a drinking/chocolate game while watching. For instance, every time they knowingly discuss a horror trope, eat an M&M. Whether you were a child of the 90’s or not, I’d love to know what your favourite 90’s horror movies are and what you plan to watch for Halloween so please be sure to leave me a comment below.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: The Blair Witch Project – I couldn’t not mention this movie given it kind of started a whole trend in horror films with shaky-cam, but at the same time it just isn’t as fun as some of the others on this list to watch. Still, worth the mention.

Number 5: The Craft

The Craft.jpg

Starting with a classic teen horror where four teens turn their hand to witch craft with some interesting results. When Sarah decides they’ve gone to far the other three turn against her leading to one magical and messed up confrontation. Don’t watch if you are afraid of snakes, just saying. Do however watch if you love 90’s movie soundtracks because The Craft has an absolutely awesome one.

Number 4: Scream

Scream - Movie

A second Neve Campbell film on the list, she did get around. This one however had to be on the list. From the epic Drew Barrymore death scene that opens it, to the endless number of horror tropes they manage to stuff in all the while reciting self-aware dialogue that just makes horror fans laugh, Scream does it all. And just remember, if the killer is in your house you should run out the door and not up the stairs. Also remember, the sequels definitely had diminishing returns. Stick to the first, it is definitely the best.

Number 3: Urban Legend

Urban Legend

Is there anything better than a movie featuring a group of college students getting killed using classic urban legends? Probably plenty given this movie is cheesy over the top melodrama with some fairly fine examples of by the numbers acting, and yet taken another way it is hilarious to watch and most of the characters end up coming to sticky endings. Warning on this one about the puppy in the microwave (flinch).

Number 2: The Faculty

The Faculty

Okay, sick of killer teens and college students? Always believed your teachers were evil? Well, The Faculty delivers a modern take on The Body Snatchers with aliens invading the sleepy little town and taking over the staff of the school before moving onto the students. Parasites crawl inside and take over the host leaving them incredibly strong and with a powerful thirst. Let’s assemble the crack team of students including the new girl, the geek, the popular girl, the football guy, the social outcast, and the delinquent and see if they can save the world.

Number 1: Sleepy Hollow

Sleepy Hollow

Right, so Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci may have a lot to do with this taking the number one spot. Okay, everything to do with it. I love these two in movies and the two of them together was always going to be brilliant. Add in a fairly macabre tale of the headless horseman, ‘modern’ detective skills, and revenge and you have yourself a fairly great movie to watch. Christopher Walken also delivers an excellent performance given his brief time on screen.

So what are you waiting for? Which 90’s horror film would you add onto the list? Or what do you plan to watch this Halloween?

Thanks for reading.

Karandi James


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Castlevania Season 2 Series Review: Oh Look, We Got The End Of The Season

Castlevania Season 2 Promotional Image

I mentioned repeatedly in my season 1 review of this that it really wasn’t a season. It was a taste test. A preview or introduction to a series that hadn’t been fully made before release. Here, with the so called season 2, we get the rest of the season bringing the total episode count now to 12 which is pretty much a standard season. So other than a prolonged gap during which time I forgot most of the pertinent details forcing me to rewatch the first four episodes before getting into this, was there any real purpose to this? All I can figure is that they really weren’t sure of their market and wouldn’t commit the resources but that’s a really terrible way to deliver a story as all it really did was make the faults of this second season more apparent.

See, there’s a flow to stories. When you get caught up in them, it is easy to miss small details or to stop yourself from asking hard questions or picking at the edges to see what falls out. But once the story has had a jarring pause and you’ve had months plus a rewatch to contemplate, it is much harder to become immersed in the world. Particularly when the series itself seems to be doing everything possible to stop you.

Castlevania Season 2 Camilla and Hector

Now, that isn’t to say Castlevania is bad. Because, it actually is quite a fun little romp of a story provided the copious blood and guts being splashed around aren’t a problem and the clear sequel bait endings for the surviving cast members doesn’t annoy. If this had come out in a solid chunk and I’d binged the 12 episodes altogether, I’d have had an absolute blast and while I still probably would have noted a few of the flaws, I don’t think I would have been as disappointed.

I was going to try to start positive but I realised that every positive I have for this season comes with a caveat so we’re just going to have to wade right in and hope we don’t sink.

If you like your blood and violence (and if you made it through the first four episodes the answer to that is probably yes), then season 2 is going to deliver. However, there’s a different kind of feel to it. Whereas season 1 had kind of a cruel humour with its demons running from the city carrying an infant (the excess of this imagery just made it more amusing than horrific and maybe that’s saying something terrible about me) and Trevor’s whip cracking removing eyes and the like. It was excessive but fun. It was almost pushing things to the absurdist level as it rained fire and blood down upon the masses. Season 2 sadly lacks any of this kind of edge and instead we are left with vampires tearing through small packs of fleeing humans and a few fights between various demons and Trevor, Sypha and Alucard. These conflicts are still bloody but nowhere near the same level as the city slaughtering madness that the first four episodes threw at us.

Castlevania Season 2 Trevor

And that seems to be a reoccurring theme of season 2. We get more of things given there are more episodes, but at the same time it is less. There’s less impact, less care, and generally less involvement. The church that was such a threat in season one gets some mentions but otherwise are completely absent from the conflict. The vampires spend more time squabbling amongst themselves inside the castle and Trevor, Sypha and Alucard spend an inordinate amount of time investigating the museum that is Trevor’s family vault. With the three main groups separated for vast spans of time (and the church more or less vanishing) there’s a lot of waiting for things to get moving. It doesn’t help that the vampires barely attack anything during the run of the eight episodes here so unless you are fresh on the memory of season one you may not even really remember why we should care about Dracula’s whole kill all the humans plan.

But, we’ve just gotten to my big issue with this second season. Dracula. In season one, the time we spent with him was not great but it was well used time. They built up a very strong impression of this character who was literally larger than life. His love for his wife, his fury at her loss, the pain he felt and his anger being distributed amongst the masses in a slaughter that wasn’t justified but understandable. Here, well Dracula is just a hollow shell waiting to be killed (as more than one character points out). There’s a clever line from Alucard about this whole massacre thing just being a really long suicide note, and he’s right but that just kind of makes Dracula’s character seem even more hollow. The fire and fury is gone and we never even got to see it fade. We went from this extraordinary and imposing menace to the guy who spent nearly eight episodes sitting in his chair staring at the fireplace and occasionally having one on one chats with the various minions who were all scheming around him as he sat more or less oblivious or indifferent.

Castlevania Season 2 Dracula

Perhaps if we’d seen this transition and the slow loss of his connection to the war he started and the drive he had, it might have played out more emotionally. However, the transition happened off screen. One season we see him in one form and now here he is a different and much less interesting one.

They do fill a lot of the screen time with his followers though. The majority of the vampire characters are either glorified extras or just annoying, with Camilla being a notable exception. That said, her character remains more or less on the side of things and ultimately hers is a story unresolved so there’s little satisfaction to be found in this one. Also, her sudden swearing at various points might have been amusing but it kind of seemed vastly out of character for her (plenty of other characters swear and that’s fine, but it just sounded so wrong coming from Camilla – and not just because she was female but rather because it seemed like it didn’t fit with the rest of her persona). The two human generals Dracula acknowledges could have both been interesting but instead they come off as fairly cheap characters with contrasting ends just for the sake of it.

It might be fair to say that none of these characters left an impression, except that even when they are just stuffing around in a library, Trevor and Sypha have real chemistry and the addition of Alucard’s comments and provocations actually just worked really well. Every moment spent with the main group (and admittedly, there weren’t enough moments spent with them) was purely fun and once the fighting started things got very good very quickly. It’s just a shame that there’s so much down time focusing on things that aren’t really all that interesting first.

Sypha - Castlevania

I mean, there are questions about Sypha’s seemingly unlimited magical reserves and Trevor not being totally dead because even though he’s from a family of monster hunters he is actually a human, and Alucard just kind of does whatever because apparently half-vampire means worse than a full vampire though how that works is unclear… but none of this matters. This group is awesome fun. Let’s see more of them.

All and all, watching both season 1 and 2 of Castlevania together won’t be a bad watch. There’s plenty to enjoy – again though with a warning about the blood and gore, it is definitely a feature. However, this isn’t something that is unmissable and it probably won’t be remembered for long. But hey, whips, swords, magic, vampire killing… It is all good fun just remember not to ask too many questions.

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Karandi James


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Zombieland Saga Episode 4: Zombies At A Hot Spring

Zombieland Saga Episode 4

Kotaro as the manager is doing a good job at fighting with Haiji from Run With The Wind for gaining the title of most obnoxious character of the season. Haiji at least has his good moments in between being a blatant manipulator whereas Kotaro here is just obnoxious in every single scene he is in. It is almost a shame that he’s voiced by someone so recognisable because I’m honestly never going to be able to hear that voice again without seeing this smirking idiot screaming into the faces of the zombie girls or being unbearably smug about doing something fairly lame.

Zombieland Saga Episode 4

And the reason I’m fixating on that is because very little else in this episode gained my attention. The girls are all about working together to overcome their doubts and actually practice to become idols (meanwhile they have this touching heart to heart while shirking practice to take in some sights). We get a performance that goes better than most of their shows so far and then we get dumped into what I guess is more traditional zombie horror territory but here it is played for cheap laughs and to be honest it wasn’t so much amusing as it was just a little mind boggling.


Still, I guess episodes 3 and 4 have at least established the idol tone this show is going to take, I’m just not so sure I’m up for a whole season of this. The character dialogue between the girls is very flat, the music isn’t really getting any better, and even though the girls are zombies they clearly have no interest in exploring the horror element of that, so I’m just not sure what is left for me to enjoy here.

Zombieland Saga Episode 4

I’ll probably give this another episode but I’m fairly certain this one is going to get a mid-season drop because I’m just not feeling it and unlike other titles that aren’t exactly nailing it for me, I’m not even overly optimistic that this one will improve as time goes on.

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Karandi James


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