Tuesday’s Top 5: Visually Interesting Anime in 2017

The final top 5 of 2017 list and this week I am focusing on those shows that I just found interesting to look at for whatever reason. Maybe they were pretty or set somewhere interesting, or maybe they were just plain bizarre, but they are shows that when I think about them I remember the visuals as keenly as I remember the story or characters. I’d love to know which shows you found visually interesting in 2017.

Please Note – Some spoilers below.

Honourable mentions this week goes to The Laughing Salesman.

Number 5: KADO The Right Answer

There’s certainly room to argue that the mix of 2D and 3D as well as copious  amounts of CGI didn’t really go so great in KADO. I found it very interesting to watch but found the characters and their movements to be at times really unnerving. That said, the visualisation of the inside of KADO and some of the devices was really impressive. All and all, with an interesting story and characters, the visuals still managed to be a large part of what defined KADO as a show and it is something people remember after the viewing.

Number 4: ACCA

ACCA first caught my attention because of its character designs and colour scheme which aren’t exactly pretty but certainly are eye catching and at least feel a bit different from the norm. However, what earns ACCA its place on this list is that each of the districts Jean visits have quite distinct visual feel about them. As Jean travels around from episode to episode, the scenery is never dull and the world constructed in ACCA is one that becomes quite interesting and a lot of that is because of the way each setting is visually presented (though attention to small details in each of these settings also helped). Whichever way, while ACCA may not visually appeal to all, it was certainly distinct.

Number 3: Land of the Lustrous

This show is stunning and beautiful and captivating and pretty much any other adjective I can throw at it. While I’m not a big fan of CG Land of the Lustrous manages to use the style to create its own alien feel that fits perfectly with the story and characters being portrayed. This is a case where the visuals have been masterfully thought out to bring out the best of the story and it really should be celebrated. While I really don’t want every show to adopt this style, Land of the Lustrous shows us what possibilities are out there as we increasingly blend old and new technologies in animation.

Number 2: March Comes in Like a Lion (first and second season)

This one may not be as pretty as Land of the Lustrous, but the visuals get my attention for the simple reason that they do a lot of the heavy lifting in conveying the story and the emotional tone of the episode. Normally visuals are an after thought for me as a reviewer but in March Comes in Like a Lion it is the powerful visuals that need to be discussed more often than not because very little of the story is explicitly said but rather it is visualised through symbolism on the screen. How the show manages to continue to perfectly convey each moment is truly wondrous and the impact of these visuals is quite clear given how emotionally invested I’ve become in this show and these characters.

Number 1: 18if

For a show that ultimately isn’t very impressive as a story, the visuals are what will really stick. Each episode is a new dream and has a new art style and this makes for a fairly fascinating experience as you never really know what to expect from the next episode until it is upon you. Some styles are better than others, but overall, 18if remained a visual feast even when the narrative didn’t really hold up its end of the deal. As a result, it is the anime I found the most visually interesting throughout 2017 even if I didn’t think much of the anime as a whole by the time it was done.

Which shows in 2017 caught your eye?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Opening Themes in 2017

Last year I wrote my list on the top opening themes of 2016 and unsurprisingly Yuri On Ice’s History Maker took out the top spot. This year there wasn’t a single stand out song that really stuck with me, but there were lots of opening themes that really matched their show so it ended up being a fairly close competition.

My criteria for top 5 opening theme is mostly that the song could be listened to as a song by itself and still sound good without the visuals, though also had good visuals to go with it, that it matched the tone of the show, and that it got me ready to watch the episode. So here are my top 5 opening themes of 2017.

Please Note – There probably won’t be any spoilers in this list.

Honourable mentions this week go to: Recovery of an MMO Junkie, 18if, Chain Chronicle and Land of the Lustrous.

Number 5: Here from The Ancient Magus’ Bride

This probably shouldn’t need too much explanation but the song conjures up a sense of sadness and lonliness even while it seems to move us forward. The visuals also have Chise alone a lot of the time and yet surrounded by magic and beauty, even when it is quite dark. All and all, I really enjoy this theme each week and feel it compliments the show quite nicely.

Number 4: Rapture from Juni Taisen

 

One thing I noticed last year was that not necessarily liking the show doesn’t necessarily mean that I dislike the theme. Rapture is a definitely a case where it captures what I would have loved Juni Taisen to be. It really gets me ready to watch something truly special and then I found the episodes mostly leaving me disappointed. That said, it wasn’t like the theme was a mismatch. It is more the theme is aspirational of what the show was trying to be.

Number 3: Tabiji from KADO: The Right Answer

As much as I ended up disappointed by the ending of KADO I still loved the way the show presented itself early on and I love how the theme just prepared you for a calm viewing experience that was puzzling and made you think. Visually, the quality of the opening isn’t impressive, but it still looks gorgeous and draws you into the story as you try to link ideas and images that may not actually go together. Regardless of how the show ended, it was a theme that really stood out for its show and set a tone that was unique in its season.

Number 2: Shadow and Truth from ACCA

Now this was a theme I would have happily listened to over and over again. It’s boppy and upbeat but also just a bit intriguing. The visuals stood out and it really set the laid back and yet exciting feel of the show. Okay, maybe I’m just a sucker for jazz inspired opening songs because there were a few this year I really enjoyed.

Number 1: The Other Side of the Wall from Princess Principal

This one is exciting, thrilling, powerful and visually entertaining. It is everything you could want from an opening about an all female spy team back at the turn of the century in a steampunk like setting. Thematically relevant and hitting just the right tone, this was definitely the opening of the year for me.

Alright, over to you. What opening themes made you pay attention in 2017?


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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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Spring 2017 Week 11

This is my final Spring List though I will be posting the results of my polls when I get back at the end of July. If you haven’t voted yet for what you think the best and worst of the season have been, the links are at the bottom of this post. The vote for best is pretty close so far though worst seems to already have a clear winner. As always, I’d love to know your thoughts on the season so please feel free to comment below on any of the currently airing shows.

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Must Watch

My Hero Academia Season 2 (Episode 25)

Okay, this one doesn’t make me think and wonder about the nature of the universe but it has certainly made me sit up and take notice (and eat my words – not literally – about a tournament arc being boring). That was completely amazing as a finishing touch to that story arc and we are already moving into the next one so no down time or filler (or at least it doesn’t look like we’re setting up for that). My review for this episode once again went well over the 100 words and I do not regret even one word I spent gushing over this episode or this series at this point.

Kado: The Right Answer (Episode 10)

My review of this week’s episode is going to be far longer than my usual 100 words (hoping to cut down my initial rant a bit). It isn’t that anything that happened this episode was particularly bad. This show is still an absolute must watch. However, for the first time, even while watching the episode there were parts where the shiny coating seemed to be flaking off just a little bit. Just hoping this show can hold out until the end of the season and not fall apart too soon.

Natsume Yuujinchou 6 (Episode 10)

I’d love to be able to put this and My Hero Academia on an even level I think after this week. My Hero Academia is exciting, but Natsume always plays to its strengths and season 6 has been exceptional at spinning a good story and drawing the audience into Natsume’s world. The conclusion to this season looks like its going to be pretty solid too so really looking forward to the next episode.

The Eccentric Family Season 2 (Episode 10)

Benten backed down from a confrontation with Nidaime and the only other appearance of Benten this episode turned out to be a dream sequence but she still manages to have massive presence even when she isn’t on screen. This episode really kicks things into high gear and suddenly the stakes are much higher than before. You would think Yasaburo would learn to stop stirring trouble but I guess the show wouldn’t be half as interesting without him sticking his nose into things without thinking it through.

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Usually Entertaining

Attack on Titan Season 2 (Finished)

Full season review coming shortly. The last episode was actually kind of decent and did reveal something so at least it gave us that and didn’t just have a smack down for the whole episode. There are still so many questions but it did feel like it made some progress.

The Royal Tutor (Episode 10)

This week we finally get to the episode we’ve been waiting for and the reveal about Heine’s past. While nothing revealed here is mind blowing or changes your whole perception of the show, it is a nice reward after the build up and it fits in with the audience’s knowledge of the world. Also, some really great character moments fill this episode so it is kind of a delight to watch. Overall, this show is probably my biggest surprise from this season given how much I’ve been enjoying it.

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Okay, I Guess

The Laughing Salesman (Episode 11)

Business as usual here. Two people introduced and both get their five minutes of tragedy. I’d really like there to be just one story that went a different way just for the novelty factor but I’m still enjoying this easy going and formulaic show. The no surprises means it is fairly restful viewing.

Granblue Fantasy (Episode 12)

Despite this show having another episode, the preview has made it pretty clear next week is just an extra and that was the feeling I got the whole way through this episode. It felt like a finale. It didn’t answer a lot of questions, but we had all these characters come back, random new characters running into the fray, and a big boss fight. Pretty much a season end.

Grimoire of Zero (Episode 10)

Grimoire and Granblue are kind of battling it out to see which one is going to be the most mediocre fantasy show this season. Both have good ingredients and ho-hum execution. Granblue is losing at being more mediocre than Grimoire though because I actually kind of like the characters in Granblue. Then again, the magic in Grimoire is kind of cool, if only they spent more time on that.

WorldEnd (Episode 10)

Yep, this show has officially made me accept that it just isn’t going to be very good. The first episode is interesting enough and makes excellent use of music and visuals to draw you in to what should be a very interesting world and narrative. However, the rest of the series just hasn’t been able to match the emotional feel of that or actually make use of the interesting setting and plot that has been dropped on it. It all feels like we are going through the motions at this point and while this show remains pretty that’s about all I can say it has going for it at this point.

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor (Episode 11)

The show worked hard this week to pack some sort of punch but it just isn’t working on me given I’m really in a state of indifference toward the entire cast at this point. Possibly this episode will play out a bit better for those who have formed some sort of connection with the main characters but for me this was mostly just watching them build up to a series end and wondering if they’d be nice enough to actually kill off the main character.

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They Made This

Sagrada Reset (Episode 11)

I had to drop this show here. This show is on absolute notice given I spent almost all of this episode thinking I was done and that I was finally dropping it. I had no reason to want to continue. If not for the preview I would be finished with it. It is a sad state of affairs where I’m only continuing to watch because of thirty seconds of preview.

The Silver Guardian (Finished)

Apparently a second season of this is coming out next year (according to MAL at least) but to be perfectly honest I won’t be watching. This is an unresolved meander and a mess of ideas. It still could have been okay if it had managed to tie up any of its plot elements but it steadfastly ignored the actual plot right until the end and its final episode focussed on poor comedy instead of story. Oh well.

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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)

Time to start choosing the best and worst shows of the season. If you haven’t voted in my poll yet, please click the links above and have your say.


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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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Spring 2017 Week 10

We’re getting close to the end for some of these shows and I’d love to know which ending you are most looking forward to. For me, I’m actually just kind of sad that I’m going to have to wait on some of the endings because I may or may not get to see them while travelling. That said, the ending will make or break a few of these in terms of where they end up in my final list for the season so let’s hope they end well. Please share your thoughts on the season in the comments.

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Must Watch

Kado: The Right Answer (Episode 9)

I suggested that this show needed to be in a higher category last week (not that I have one) and after episode 9 I firmly believe this anime really is in a category of its own. The enjoyment is different from something like My Hero Academia and Natsume Yuujinchou. It is telling a story and there are characters (and these are both very good), but it is the ideas behind the story and the characters that make it utterly compelling.

My Hero Academia Season 2 (Episode 24)

Another rapid fire series of clashes and we’re heading for the final of the tournament next week. Probably just as well, as they’ve probably milked as much development out of these match ups as possible and while its been amazing I’m glad they aren’t stretching the friendship. Even as the tournament wraps up though this show presents a new conflict incoming so at least we won’t be left at a loose end once the tournament ends. My Hero Academia showing it is keenly aware of the short attention span of most of us these days and is happy to keep us entertained.

Natsume Yuujinchou 6 (Episode 9)

Natsume did not get any worse, it’s just My Hero Academia has been getting stronger and stronger and Natsume is more of a consistent and relaxing joy. Comparing the two shows is insane given how vastly different they are in tone and style and yet I’d have to admit that right now I am definitely more eagerly anticipating the next episode of My Hero Academia, even while I’m convinced that long term Natsume will be the show I come back to more often for re-watching. This week’s episode was back to Natsume episodic formula and it worked well.

The Eccentric Family Season 2 (Episode 9)

Seems my wish for more Benten and Nidaime will be answered with where this seems to be heading. Episode 9 was fantastic and we see a lot of the story lines starting to converge in a fairly intriguing manner which may or may not explode next week depending on how they choose to handle this current situation. All and all, I’m hooked and can’t wait for the next episode.

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Usually Entertaining

Attack on Titan Season 2 (Episode 11)

Attack on Titan is only still this high in the list because of how much I enjoyed the first half of this season. This second half belongs in the ‘Okay, I Guess’ section and this last episode doesn’t even make it that high with a lot of issues in both narrative and delivery. On balance, I’m thinking I’m going to end up feeling much the same about season 2 of Attack on Titan as I did about season 1. Wow, there’s some great visuals and emotions and some scenes are done superb, and wow, this story gets derailed pretty quick and they don’t know how to do pacing or characterisation.

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.

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Okay, I Guess

Sagrada Reset (Episode 10)

Much like Kado I’m starting to think this show needs its own category but it wouldn’t be above must watch. This one would be more out to the side of the list in a pile of shows where I have no actual opinion about whether they are good or bad until they finish because they might still go somewhere but meanwhile I’m hopelessly frustrated by it. Sagrada Reset, the show to watch if you like things that go around in circles and offer analogies in place of explanations.

The Laughing Salesman (Episode 10)

Another two stories and another two hearts… well I won’t say they’ve been healed but they’ve certainly been changed by the events that have befallen their owners. Moguro continues to dish out some interesting consequences to the deserving and undeserving alike and this story continues to be a bit of an oddity but kind of enjoyable for it.

Grimoire of Zero (Episode 9)

Grimoire of Zero is probably going to end up on my list for a show that wasted a lot of its potential. There are good moments and the world itself is fascinating but the story just doesn’t know what it wants to do and there’s too many ideas that just get shafted. I would like this show to be better than it is but while pretty it has rarely been above ordinary in terms of character or plot and unfortunately I’d rather watch something inconsistent than something I find kind of dull with occasional moments of entertainment.

Granblue Fantasy (Episode 11)

I’m no wiser as to what this show’s end goal is going to be, but this episode spends a great deal of time trying to make us care about Lyria and the bond between her and Gran, so maybe that’s actually important. As always, this show is watchable, pretty enough, stuff happens, but I’m not overly invested.

WorldEnd (Episode 9)

WorldEnd started so much higher on this list and now it seems to be in free-fall. the inconsistencies, the wasted time in each episode, the scattered focus, it is all starting to wear on me as a viewer so that even the moments that should hit the mark are starting to miss more often than not. I’m gradually losing my care factor about any of the characters in  this show and that is definitely not something that the show can afford given the story has been a meandering mess with a lack of clear direction.

Akashic Records of Bastard Magical Instructor (Episode 10)

What little goodwill this show had gained in the mid-season is rapidly fading as we’re regressing to cheap comedy and stereotypical character reactions. That’s not to say it still couldn’t work, but this episode was completely unappealing to me after two fairly ordinary episodes.

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They Made This

The Silver Guardian (Episode 11)

Not regretting the decision to move this down to this category. Episode 11 is just as much of a mess as the last four episodes have now been. That’s almost half a season of mess and if you count the first episode as well, we’ve had more mess than decent content and that is never a good sign for a series. To be honest I don’t even care anymore whether Suigin ever finds Riku Rei.

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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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Karandi James.

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

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Karandi James.

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