KADO: The Right Answer Series Review: The Higher They Rise, The Further To Fall

Overview:

One day a giant cube appears off the coast of Japan, swallowing a passenger plane. Turns out a visitor from the anisotropic (or outside of the known universe) has come to Earth to give us some gifts. One of the passengers on the plane is a negotiator and he begins the process of communicating with and negotiating with zaShunina as the world is inevitably changed.

I reviewed KADO week to week so if you are interested in my individual episode thoughts, click here.

Heavy spoiler warning on the following review.

Review:

Two thirds of this show is absolutely brilliant science-fiction. There’s no excess, no silliness, no teenagers in giant robots, no random power ups for the sake of it, no actual fighting, but just new ideas and humanity reacting to those ideas. Here’s an unlimited power source. Okay, who is going to control it? What are the economic implications particularly for countries that rely on the export of fossil fuels? Are there any risks? It’s smart and incredibly thought provoking and while it may not be the most exciting thing to ever grace your screen, it is compelling and it was distinguishable from so many other first encounter stories. Yes, we’ve had peaceful first encounters before, but they are few and far between. Even with the nagging feeling that the benevolent zaShunina was up to something, and even if he had turned out to be evil, this show could still have maintained the tone that had really set it apart from the other anime in the Spring season.

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Alas, it was not to be. The final third of the story plunges us headlong into conflict, introducing a second anisotropic being, before going into a finale that really just needs to be scrapped and rewritten (more on that later, be warned about heavy spoilers coming). Previously, I wrote a feature about anime that end badly and some of the ways that anime manage to stuff up their endings. It is a frequent problem with anime in that resolutions seem to be really hard for them to get right. I’m not expecting a happily ever after for all involved but I would like my endings to make sense and that is where KADO failed completely. Somehow I left that option off the list of ways endings annoy me but KADO has definitely made it clear that this is worse than pulling a power of friendship card.

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However, I shouldn’t start by reviewing the end of the anime. Despite the appalling conclusion we arrive at, there is plenty to admire about this show and I would still argue that for avid anime fans it is worth the watch. At the very least, the first two thirds are quite compelling and even when it falls apart, it is more the disappointment of it that hurts rather than the story itself. There are plenty of worse endings out there. While the disappointment you feel as the show veers away from being that must watch, must talk about show of the year to something far more average is palpable, overall the show remains above average as a viewing experience because even at its lowest point it is still perfectly watchable (just no longer brilliant).This one just feels much worse because of how much better it could have been and that’s really an unfair scale to judge it on (though it doesn’t take away that bitter taste in your mouth after you watch it).

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Visually KADO is impressive. I know some people hated the look of it and that’s fine. And yes, there are some scenes where the CG doesn’t sit quite right particularly in some character movements, though fortunately they don’t move a lot because there’s a lot of standing or sitting and talking (it was a show about negotiation for the most part). There are some really beautiful sequences and moments and at the very least it is visually striking. The characters are easily distinguished and the settings are appealing to look at. Overall, it is a visual feast for the eyes and while it won’t be to everyones’ tastes, it certainly worked for me.

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The music is equally grandiose and memorable. The opening theme is one of my favourite for the year (not sure if it is my favourite yet but it is certainly a contender) and throughout episodes the background music is suitably subtle or dramatic depending on the requirement. I really enjoyed the music in this series and felt it really added to the overall tone.

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For the first two thirds, I really liked the characters. I liked how the different representatives in the government and on the UN council were portrayed. I liked how average citizens, reporters, the military, scientists, and a whole range of people and their reactions came across as the world essentially changed after the arrival of the cube. Other than a small group, very few of these characters progress beyond being a stand in for a larger section of society but that is the role they’ve been given and they do it well. Shindo and zaShunina and their interactions were thought provoking and occasionally even amusing. As the central characters they really had a lot of work pulling us along through what was an otherwise fairly dry first encounter portrayal and they did it really well.

I also liked the themes and questions this show raised. The discussion about the wam being a gift to humanity and not countries was clever and thought provoking as were many of the observations by characters in the early stages of this anime.

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And then it all went wrong.

Keep in mind, that up until episode 12, they hadn’t done anything that could not be salvaged but a lot of eyebrows were raised when they revealed that one of the human negotiators was actually also an anisotropic being and wanted to send zaShunina away because she didn’t like him messing with the world. Then they had a fight between the two anisotropic beings that ended with Shindo getting severely injured and a really cliché anime encounter as the female anisotropic being first healed him and then got really embarrassed because she wasn’t wearing clothes. This was not good. First we’d moved away from negotiations to combat, we’d introduced another super being so they could have a fight sequence (no human could have) and then we went smack into teen drama territory. Where did the clever and intriguing writing go during this phase?

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Episode 11 tried to raise our hopes. Shindo had a plan. He reconnected with various characters who had assisted him throughout the series and humans worked on a solution to the problem. Okay, so we’re not just going to leave it to the super beings? Awesome. We might get back on track.

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Turns out, no (Final Warning – MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW).

The final episode delivers a mind-numbingly stupid twist.

In addition to the plan that the audience were let in on, a plan Shindo clearly knew was absolutely going to fail given the actual reveal, Shindo and anisotropic being number 2 hatch a second plan. Manipulate time, have a daughter, and have her deal with the problem.

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What?

Are you kidding me?

Now I could break into a rant here about feeling betrayed and all the rest but here’s the thing, just because this didn’t end the way I wanted it to or thought it might doesn’t actually make it bad. Certainly we’re left with questions and there’s a lot of logical gaps in how this concluded, and most certainly this isn’t exactly a satisfying ending when those of us who followed the show from the beginning followed it because of the different approach it was taking and not because we wanted to see super power beings babble at each other and then just end the fight. But, it does resolve the overall plot and given events in the final four episodes and zaShunina’s increasingly erratic behaviour in the final episode it kind of forced itself into this kind of conclusion.

I still think though if you are going to bring in time manipulation have the future daughter show up about twenty minutes earlier so that Shindo doesn’t die a completely pointless death. That wouldn’t make this ending any easier to swallow but at least wouldn’t make it a complete waste of space.

The show is actually a victim of its own earlier episodes. It set a tone and standard for its plot that the second half utterly failed to live up to. Most of us went in expecting nothing because we hadn’t even heard of the show until it started, and then it was amazing. It was well written and interesting and seemed to be heading somewhere a bit different. It just couldn’t hold onto that for a full 12 episodes. Pretty much everything after the introduction of the Sansa is questionable as to where this started going wrong. But, if I take away the expectations I gained from those first episodes and just look at the second half, this is still one of the better shows I watched this season. So for all that I want to rant and cry foul at such a travesty of an ending, stepping back I realised that while I am hoping for a fan-fiction ending that actually does the show justice, this is still not the absolute piece of dribble it could have been. It isn’t as though it all becomes a pointless dream sequence.

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But that then makes me wonder what the point of the ending was. Was that supposed to be a touching ending?

We had an incredibly pointless and avoidable death, followed by a dull and pointless chase and fight sequence, followed by dialogue that did nothing to answer any of the actual questions that people are sitting there thinking about. Where did the clever and thought provoking writing go? Where did an emphasis on dialogue and negotiation go? Hey, here’s a plan. It still sucks but might have worked a bit better. Why doesn’t future daughter actually try talking to zaShunina rather than turning him into pretty coloured lights? I might have believed her as Shindo’s daughter or legacy then. Some sort of compromise could have been reached once she showed up given zaShunina finally had someone who could stop him. Of course, future daughter is really an incredibly stupid plot device in the first place so it would have been better if Shindo had just figured out how to actually get zaShunina talking again given that would have actually fit the tone of the show.

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Basically, I’m annoyed because this show got my hopes up. It was so good. It was great. And then, it wasn’t. It doesn’t invalidate the good things earlier in the series. It doesn’t mean that this is a show that should be avoided at all costs. What it does mean is that you have to go in knowing that the ending won’t be as satisfying as you would like and just accept it for what it is. It is a science fiction that almost got it right but, despite its name, ultimately missed being the right answer.

Sorry that this review kind of flip flops around. I kept having to delete sections as I just went in to full rant territory because I was so disappointed by that ending.


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KADO Episode 12

Review:

As this is the final episode, assume major spoilers ahead. Minimal ranting – I’ll save that for the whole series review.

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You know, given zaShunina’s development as a character up to this point, it would have been really nice if the revelation that a copy of Shindo wasn’t Shindo had actually had some bearing on his choices. Instead, he casually explains he came to that conclusion and then we just move on. Why bother even including that bit of dialogue if it is meaningless? And if Shindo thinks zaShunina is finally becoming a human because he’s having a temper tantrum because things haven’t gone his way, what is Shindo’s actual opinion of people?

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Great, from higher being with different values to Bond villain in less than 5 minutes of poor dialogue.

Of all the things I didn’t like about how this show ended, zaShunina’s treatment is the one that bothers me the most. It’s like the writers gave up trying to consider what it would be like for a being of a higher dimension to come to Earth and just turned him into your typical overpowered and cocky villain. This becomes really clear in the ‘I predicted’ speech where essentially all of Shindo’s planning in the previous episode becomes just another wasted exercise. And all of this, including the destruction of what was an interesting character, comes so that the writers can throw one final ‘twist’ at the audience that this show definitely didn’t need.

I know earlier in the season, one of my praises for the show was its lack of tropes. It was an intelligent sci-fi focussing on human reactions and politics and felt incredibly real. Well, let the final episode kill that as we go for:

  • Over the top villain speeches
  • Brave hero rushing to his death
  • Over powered high school girl showing up to save the day

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Yep, KADO went there. And while the explainer they give for her existence makes enough sense to skate across the surface of logic it really does not fit with the show we’ve been watching. More importantly, if this was the surprise trump card, show up five minutes earlier. Her presence and actions just make Shindo’s death completely and utterly wasted and unnecessary.

I will review the whole series. I still think Kado is worth watching but with this ending, it really isn’t the must watch it could have been.

KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


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KADO Episode 11

Review:

After episodes 9 and 10, I was starting to really worry about where this show was going for a conclusion. I’m still not 100% sold that this is going to end well, but episode 11 definitely made me hopeful that I should have high expectations.

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Part of what helped was Shindo’s approach in this episode. He is still very much thinking through his options, considering the other party, considering what resources he has at his disposal, and generally doing his job and being quite competent. I really worried that with the introduction of Tsukai that humans would get sidelined during some final smack down that would not fit the tone or nature of the show. Admittedly, zaShunina and Tsukai did have a fight, but its done and Tsukai’s already lost. She’s taking a definite support role (or rather an advisory role) as Shindo puts his plans together.

The other part that made this episode far more promising than the previous two was that we started to put things together from much earlier in the series. Shindo goes back to the metal company he helped in episode 0 for assistance and also calls on crazy science girl for a new device. His plan is simple: surprise zaShinina. While most of those helping him think he is making a weapon, Shindo sees it very differently.

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That said, I kind of thought of a much easier way to deal with zaShunina. He wants to take a human; I’m pretty sure we found a volunteer.

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But that wouldn’t work if he wants to take all people or whatever and they’ve never really clarified given it seemed earlier that zaShunina would have been happy just taking Shindo.

On that note, favourite part of the episode was the ongoing development of emotions for zaShunina. Apparently even he realises that clone Shindo isn’t really Shindo. He never seems overly happy or satisfied when talking to Shindo and his treatment of the clones this episode just kind of makes it clear that zaShunina doesn’t see them as anything but cheap knock-offs.

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I’m really looking forward to how this story will end. It may not end up being brilliant, but I know this anime has really been great fun to follow this season and I’ve loved thinking it through each week and waiting for the next episode.

KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


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KADO Episode 10

Review – Some spoilers:

I very nearly had a complaint about this episode but by the end of its run I was more confused as to whether this episode worked or not with what we already knew and with the tone of the story. After a rewatch, I liked it a bit better but I still have a lot of question marks.

As to what my complaint was, it was that we spent six minutes of the episode (minus the opening song and a brief recap) watching the formation of the universe. Pretty and all and the text discussion over it was kind of entertaining, but really, the whole thing is entirely skippable and by the way didn’t we leave our protagonist in a life or death situation so is this really the time for a walk through fictional universal history?

There is a point and eventually we get to Tsukai’s childhood where her father exposition dumps some cheesy dialogue about using our limited time to live the best we can and apparently this makes it some sort of profound statement that deeply affects her after this.

I was actually wondering if Tsukai had actually been born at all or whether she was just using the family as a cover, but it appears she’s actually been moving her way through lots of life forms in this universe and learning so we did get something out of this sequence. That said, I would probably put the first half of this episode as my least favourite sequence so far in the series. Sure it fills a couple of gaps and tries to give some motivation to Tsukai, but basically we knew she loved the world as it was from her monologue two episodes ago and everything else is just kind of filler.

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And so we move into the second half where we finally get back to zaShunina apparently threatening Shindo but he’ll take the time out to deal with Tsukai first  even though he actually blocked Shindo from moving at one point with the weapon he was trying to kill him with last week so it makes no sense why he didn’t just cut Shindo down then and there.

So let’s skip to my favourite part. Nope, not the bit where Shindo does the stupid protagonist thing and shoves Tsukai out of the way after her shield fails and takes the injury. We already knew from last week’s preview he was going to get hurt and this was just kind of a stupid, anime standard way to do it given, as I said earlier, zaShunina had plenty of opportunity earlier to make a clean hit of it.

My favourite part happened after Tsukai takes Shindo and flees and zaShunina is left with a copy of Shindo and a pool of blood.

If we weren’t already convinced that zaShunina had been changed through his encounters with Shindo, this sequence clearly shows the depth of that change in a very short time frame with only one word being spoken. Sure, zaShunina is cold, calculating, and utterly does not get what it means to be human. Sure, he was going to kill Shindo, use his copy, and move on. However, I don’t think even zaShunina realised that Shindo dying would affect him. He seemed incredibly surprised.

Then again, the show clearly wants to hammer this point home. Later in the episode when Shindo-clone is presenting the new device to a room full of excited journalists and scientist, zaShunina walks away and onto a roof top where he stares into the horizon. Nothing new about that given how many times we’ve seen a similar scene, but in this situation the expression on his face and the music really drive home his internal conflict and sadness.

And let’s all just ignore the cliché situation Shindo and Tsukai end up in after she heals him. Okay.

Hey this show has had a good run with 9 episodes that have just been great to watch and very few complaints. Even this episode in context isn’t so bad but as a stand alone is definitely weaker.

KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


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KADO Episode 9

Review:

I came to the conclusion while watching KADO this week that the question I’d been wondering about for most of the series was flawed. I’ve been trying to figure out what is going on with zaShunina and whether he is actually good or bad, but as this episode points out in relation to the WAM and Sansa, the terms have no meaning once you introduce a non-human element. Obviously, you could conclude from zaShunina’s actions in the second half of this episode that he is bad or evil, but that isn’t actually the case. He really kind of reminded me of Kyubey from Madoka in that he isn’t being bad, he just has a completely different set of values and agenda to consider.

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That said, if you’ve been waiting for answers and explanations, this episode is going to give them to you. It does it in the usual fashion of heavy dialogue but there’s certainly enough going on visually to keep you enthralled. Besides, despite this not going the direction I thought it would, everything being revealed here makes sense.

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Anyway, I’m really glad they finally gave Tsukai’s character a real explanation. She’s been a bit off for awhile and I really didn’t get her motives last week, nor did I really understand why she seemed so prominent in the opening theme. This week it all makes sense and when I rewatch this show I’m going to pay more attention to her.

Loved this episode. Love how this series has unfolded so far. Though, I rewatched this episode with a friend and their conclusion was that while it made enough sense it seems all too convenient that Tsukai was the negotiator chosen at the start all things considered. I had to concede the point. Given what we now know about her you do have to wonder how it was she just happened to be the one chosen so I’m kind of hoping an explanation is coming and it isn’t just plot convenience.

Kado is available on Crunchyroll.


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KADO Episode 8

Review:

I’m sure I’ve already said this, but if you haven’t given KADO a try this season, you really do need to. While the slow pace and dialogue heavy delivery won’t sit well with everyone, the ideas this show develops as the narrative unfolds are well worth it, plus it actually has a fairly excellent if simple storyline. It isn’t getting so caught up in being clever that it forgets its own narrative.

There’s too much going on at this point for me to really know what my thoughts on this episode alone are. I will admit, the low point of this episode was the ‘date’ Shindo went on.

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Mostly my issue with this was the cheap comedy moment where the family assume the two are together but I also had an issue with Tsukai herself. She’s making a lot of assumptions about life and evolution and while her anti-change, protect what already exists, stance is recognisable as many people oppose change even if it is for the better, it just seems at odds with the life she’s just shown us. While she loves what her father does, her father describes her as someone who never listened and flitted off overseas and did what she wanted. It doesn’t seem like the mindset of someone who would actively fight against progress for the sake of preserving culture. That said, it isn’t as though she is wrong either. zaShunina’s changes are rapid and will result in violent destruction of the world that was if carried out in their entirety. That may ultimately be a good thing but I think most people would prefer to be eased in to such drastic changes.

However, one of the things I have loved about this show is the different responses we’ve seen to the arrival of zaShunina so this was just a deeper look at someone who wasn’t necessarily saying he was an evil alien out to the destroy the world, but still pointed out that his changes were going to lead to the destruction of the world as we currently know it.

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The more interesting part of this episode came from the decision to broadcast Sansa. I wondered if, given they only needed to see the device, if the effect could be transmitted via video and this episode clearly tells us, yes it can. This leads to an interesting but very short discussion about whether sharing information is in itself wrong.

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The language is quite emotive even though all up this exchange lasts less than five minutes of the episode it is once again  very interesting thought and one that can easily be applied to the real world. This is where Kado has continued to shine. Each dilemma faced by the characters has a real world equivalent and the range of viewpoints put forward are never that far fetched as we’ve seen their parallels over and over in reality.

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Clearly though, they go forward. They have to at this point for the narrative to continue. Still, we’re left wondering as for the first time the show itself draws zaShunina in a potentially threatening manner at the end of the episode. Prior to this, viewers have been suspicious of him mostly because we’re humans and someone strange appearing and offering free stuff is naturally viewed as suspicious. But none of his actions or even the way he has been portrayed in previous episodes have actually given us any concrete reason to believe he was up to no good. It may be deliberately misleading, but the final scene this week really brings those suspicions to the foreground and once more I’m left desperate for the next episode because I want to know.

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Once again, if you haven’t started this show, go watch it.

Kado is available on Crunchyroll.


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Spring 2017 Week 9

Alright, I wasn’t crazily looking forward to all the sequel seasons that came out this Spring but most of these have actually turned out to be pretty cool so it has made this season of sequels actually pretty fun to watch. I can’t say the same this week for a lot of the shows in the ‘Okay, I Guess’ category as a lot of them gave some fairly luke warm episodes this week. They were watchable, to be sure, but they didn’t do much else.  Let me know your current thoughts on the season below.

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Must Watch

Kado: The Right Answer (Episode 8)

Do I need a category above Must Watch? This show is making me consider that a possibility at this point in time. Episode 8 was fantastic, even the low point of the episode where we had some slightly off comedy contributed to the overall narrative and to be honest I’m just completely hooked on this. Must have the next episode.

Natsume Yuujinchou 6 (Episode 8)

That was so adorable. It’s been awhile since we’ve had a new yokai of the week with the last few episodes all bringing back a focus on already known characters. I really had a lot of fun with this episode and I’m kind of hoping  Aoi does come back in future episodes but its always hard to know which characters will return and which have come and gone. Anyway, Natsume continues to be utterly adorable.

My Hero Academia Season 2 (Episode 23)

Okay, one more episode like these last two and I may even move this above Natsume. This show continues to prove it knows exactly what its audience wants and it delivers it with gusto. It isn’t ashamed of its superhero and shonen tropes but fully embraces them and because of that it continues to be pure fun and builds on its strengths rather than trying to apologise for its own origin.

The Eccentric Family Season 2 (Episode 8)

Can Benten and Nidaime get their own show because I’d happily watch those two forever? Of course, Kaisei also made a great showing this week. Basically, I still love all these characters and they continue to be highly entertaining even as there seems to be no real point to anything that is going on. Maybe it will all come together, but even if it doesn’t, this one is more about the journey than the destination.

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Usually Entertaining

Attack on Titan Season 2 (Episode 10)

And down it comes again. This is more or less what happened with season 1. I got into it and really got swept away early on and then the story kind of suffered from pacing issues, lack of reveals, and problematic characters. Season 2 has not escaped any of these issues in its second half. Still very entertaining viewing, but it just doesn’t stand up next to something like My Hero Academia that goes from strength to strength with its characters. I won’t compare this to Natsume or KADO because that would be ridiculous but I know which next episode I’m more looking forward to.

The Royal Tutor (Episode 9)

I was less sold on this episode but this series has still be fairly entertaining on the whole. It wasn’t as though this episode was bad, more it just felt a little bit like they were purposefully delaying any kind of serious dive into Heine’s past. Possibly the events in this episode are more significant than that but it really felt kind of like a throw-away villain for the sake of having one more episode.

Sagrada Reset (Episode 9)

I’m thinking I’m going to have to move this further down. Entertaining isn’t quite the right word for it. Personally, I’m enjoying picking it apart and looking for clues and double meanings, but from an actual narrative point of view we’ve seen enough now to know it is kind of failing as a story. Plot, characters, and pacing are all full of issues and while the concept is kind of cool there’s only so long that will keep your story afloat.

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Okay, I Guess

The Laughing Salesman (Episode 9)

This week I wasn’t quite so caught up in  The Laughing Salesman, though whether that was because the stories lacked bite or because I just wasn’t in the mood I’m not sure. Overall though, this series is pretty consistent so still happily following along with this one.

WorldEnd (Episode 8)

There’s only so many shopping trips I can take watching in one series and WorldEnd has already exceeded its quota. For all the good ideas that keep me watching the show it has spent far too much time just waffling around and showing us cute girls being kids. I get that there’s meant to be a contrast for emotional affect but to be honest it just keeps dragging the pace down.

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor (Episode 9)

First inconsistent, now rushing through what feels like it should be a range of more significant plot points. This remains watchable and has some good ideas but I can’t say I’m overly enjoying the viewing experience at this point.

Grimoire of Zero (Episode 8)

Send out the assassins, I want them all alive. That kind of seems contradictory to me but I guess that’s more or less standard for this show at this point. I am actually enjoying this show but the plot is so incredibly contrived and the reveals are pretty much obvious so I’m struggling a little bit to take it seriously.

Granblue Fantasy (Episode 10)

Granblue continues its trend of watchable but not good. It would be really nice if I actually knew what the characters wanted to achieve for this series. Are we collecting pieces of the sky map, running from the empire, getting Gran to the island of the astrals where his father is, randomly helping random people, or is it all about saving Lyria? I don’t know and I don’t think the show does either.

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They Made This

The Silver Guardian (Episode 10)

There we go, it finally made it into this category. Each week for about three weeks I’ve been wondering what the writers were actually trying to do and now I’m more or less convinced that they’ve decided just to pull random actions and characters out of a hat and that’s the focus for the week. Okay, it isn’t that bad, but Suigin was barely on screen this week, Riku made no appearance but was mentioned, and we spent most of the episode with the random players we met a few episodes ago first mugging other new players and then being the victims of a mugging. I’m not sure what that contributes to the overall plot and to be honest I wasn’t that interested.

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Tried and Dropped

Alice & Zoroku (Episode 6)

Sword Oratoria (Episode 5)

Tsukigakirei (Episode 2)

Eromanga Sensei (Episode 2)

Armed Girls Machiavellism (Episode 2)

Sakura Quest (Episode 1)

Love Tyrant (Episode 1)

Clockwork Planet (Episode 1)

Which ending are you most looking forward to?


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KADO Episode 7

Review:

Once again this show demonstrates it has a firm grasp on reality even while it introduces some fairly fantastical concepts. From the background of local protesters (upset at Kado’s new location) to the businesses making Kado shaped cakes, this show doesn’t seem to want to dwell on any one viewpoint in terms of how the public would respond to the intrusion of a highly advanced visitor. Despite the background noise, a lot of this episode focuses on the reporter and his team who essentially fly up to the cube and request an interview which zaShunina grants. This kind of made me wonder why no one from the media had tried this previously when zaShunina had already made it fairly clear he wanted the world to know what he was up to, but I guess all the military and government groups surrounding the cube had put off a lot of reporters. Still, it seems like this is something that someone would have tried already.

Part of me wonders how much of what happened in the cube actually came out on camera and how the reporters will choose to frame their encounter within the cube. Not to mention, it seems like this new device that eliminates the need for sleep is doing quite a bit more than that and the effect seems variable from person to person. As Shindo puts it:

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Very, very curious as to where this will go next particularly with that final conversation for the episode which certainly seems to indicate this peaceful progression is not going to last.

KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


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Friday’s Feature: Mid-Season Thoughts On ‘KADO: The Right Answer’

At episode 6 I had to admit I had fallen completely in love with this anime. There’s someone in the real world who I think will love this show but they won’t watch it until it finishes airing but at the end of each episode I want to talk to them about it and hear their thoughts. They’ve now banned me from mentioning anything that happens because they want to enjoy it for themselves and that’s fair enough but it means I’m wanting to talk about this show so much and really don’t have an outlet for it. (On that note, spoilers if you haven’t watched up to episode 6 will follow).

That’s part of why I would recommend this anime 100% even though it isn’t finished airing (and I rarely recommend unfinished anime because too many take a nose dive in the second half). But even if KADO follows that trend and does deteriorate into nonsense as the season continues, these first 6 episodes give more than enough reason to watch and discuss this show.

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Certainly there are points to be made about the visuals of the show but I’m not really interested in that aspect at this point and time (although, mostly I think it’s been pretty with the possible exception of a few moments where the characters have gone a bit creepy momentarily). What is really grabbing me about this show is thinking through this scenario if it actually happened.

The list below severely simplifies the plot from the first 5 episodes (in the process leaving out a lot of interesting thoughts and concepts raised by the show but we’ll get back to that later):

01. A cube appears and swallows a plane full of passengers.

02. We learn the passengers are fine and will be released but the being from the cube wants to negotiate.

03. As part of that they want to give all of humanity a source of unlimited energy.

04. The UN attempts to control this new energy source and Japan, the nation that received it complies but only because they’ve got a scientist who has already figured out how to make the energy source anyway.

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Even if that were it for a plot and no further curve balls were thrown, that is more than enough to get my personal curiosity fired up. Of course what most people are wondering is what zaShunina is up to in just handing humanity unlimited energy. A popular theory I’ve seen is that it is the usual alien gives double edge sword and sits back and waits for humanity to destroy itself. Certainly that is a possibility and would fit with what is happening in terms of the UN trying to muscle Japan into compliance, mostly urged by the US and Russian representatives (and did anyone else find it odd that the whole UN Security Council other than Japan actually agreed on something).

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I’d like to believe the anime isn’t going there, though events in episode 6 make me a little suspicious of zaShunina. His ‘next’ step concerns me a great deal both in terms of what it means practically and in terms of what he will need to do to accomplish such a goal. Still, if he isn’t out to destroy humanity (or see us destroy ourselves) I have to wonder what his overall goal is. Is he just benevolent and wanting to improve humanity? That seems unlikely although I’ll admit that is probably my own cynicism coming through more than any evidence from the anime.

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Then again, part of me wonders if zaShunina is actually the one in charge of this at all. I remember when we first met him he kind of was constructed by the cube itself.  As they have very carefully avoided actually asking him anything about himself of note (other than where he comes from) it is quite possible that zaShunina’s intentions are irrelevant as he might just be an agent for an as yet unseen factor in the background. That might be needlessly conspiracy theory-ish but it makes a lot of sense when you consider the nature of zaShunina’s appearance and the fact that he seems to have a check list of objectives but doesn’t explain the reason for them outside of general terms that could be misconstrued.

Moving on from zaShuina himself, the reactions of the people and the world in this anime to the events feel very real. Life in Japan, after the initial surprise of the cube arriving, returns to normal outside of a few interruptions to the airport itself and the episode 6 temporary evacuations of certain districts as a precaution. The media are camped outside the cube and reporting regularly, there are photos and the like being sent around on social media, but for most the cube is a curiosity. While some of the more extreme were protesting the Japanese government’s refusal to comply with the UN, the majority of people kind of went about their daily life.

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For some, this might be a problem because we’re used to seeing Hollywood movies where everyone just kind of stops in their tracks or runs crazy at the mention of the arrival of aliens. Remember early scenes in Independence Day when the President makes a speech about the cities where the space ships were headed and how he asked those who felt compelled to leave the cities do so in an orderly manner and then there was just absolute chaos? We’re preconditioned by movies to think that a world changing event will actually be world changing.

Yet, what we see in reality is quite the opposite. Though there have been mass protests and the like to various election outcomes and situations in various countries, for most people they’ve kept going about their daily life. While most people have a vague awareness of situations occurring, they don’t know the details nor do they really care very much unless it directly impacts upon their daily life. You might disagree with that but when we look at the numbers protesting compared to the numbers just going about their business it is clear that the majority would prefer to maintain a status quo life-style even if they take to social media in the evening to pass on a few memes without really troubling themselves to act.

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KADO latches on to this notion, that people prefer their daily routine and the things they understand, and uses it to its advantage in forging what is becoming a very believable storyline, even with a premise that seems incredibly far-fetched at first glance. Of course there are characters directly effected by the events and they are responding. Of course governments are troubled by the offer of unlimited energy. There’s so many ways that could politically and economically go wrong and yet could have an extreme benefit if used appropriately. Of course scientists are fascinated by the chance to go further and research ideas that they couldn’t have before. But for everyone else, other than a possible flight delay and a traffic jam, life is going on. The more socially or politically aware individuals would be watching the news to keep up with developments, but during the day they go to work and things move on (whether for the better or worse is something the show hasn’t commented on in any way at this point).

KADO has totally won me over at this point. It is science fiction done very well. No sensationalist fight sequences to entertain the masses, but a tight focus on the human condition in the face of one very clear intrusion into the normal world. The reactions and flow on effects to that intrusion have been handled with care and what is being woven is a fairly compelling story that asks us to really consider the idea of humanity and national borders, yet at the same time doesn’t seem to want to preach its own brand of morality (at least not at this stage). And that isn’t to say that sensationalist fight sequences aren’t entertaining or a part of science fiction, but at its core, a good sci-fi really should get us to re-evaluate ourselves and the world at large, and KADO has succeeded admirably at that.

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If you haven’t given KADO: The Right Answer a go yet, this is the one show from this season I think is unmissable. Certainly there are more sensational shows, and shows that look prettier, or move at a faster pace, but none of the shows this season have made me want to think and talk as much as KADO has.

What do you think so far about KADO or what is your theory about zaShunina?


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KADO Episode 6

Review (definitely spoilers if you haven’t watched the episode):

You know, we’ve all been asking what the deal with Shindo is and this episode decides to finally show part of its hand on this issue. Yes, Shindo is definitely no longer normal in the strictest sense of the word, however zaShunina attributes that to the processing for Shindo to leave the cube in the first place (given he was the first human to be processed) rather than the poor attempt at first communication so that was a bit of a surprise.

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The Shindo focus continues this episode as he visits his mother, plans the relocation of the cube, and it is pointed out by the female negotiator that he needs to rest leading to the realisation by Shindo that he hasn’t been. Instead of leaving this plot point dangling the final part of this episode has zaShunina straight out acknowledge what we’ve all been thinking though as a next step I’m really not sure what zaShunina is up to.

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I’m totally hooked on this at this point. The answers come when they are needed, there’s amusement at times in the dialogue which ensures that it doesn’t become a monotonous babble of science and politics, the characters are more and more endearing as the series progresses, and I am just completely curious about what the end game of this series might be.

KADO is available on Crunchyroll.


Are you a fan of 100WordAnime.blog?

If you like this site and you like what I do, consider becoming a patron.

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Thanks,

Karandi James.

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