Kino’s Journey Episode 5: A Little Dull This Week

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Review:

This week Kino took us to two countries. The first where they memorialized the motorrad of a previous traveller who apparently became a great leader. The Motorrad was thrilled with being confined to a memorial mind you, asking Kino to smash it to bits after they said they couldn’t ride him out of there.

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Then we journeyed to a land of liars where we get told the story of an uprising against a tyrannical king. You kind of know you aren’t getting the whole story and then you get two further additions to the story putting it into a different perspective. It is interesting enough but essentially people sitting around and talking about something that has already happened.

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While the first couple of episodes of this were slow, they were pretty engaging. These last two episodes have been a lot flatter and I’m feeling my interest fading. Hopefully the next story is engaging again.


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Autumn 2017 Week 5

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This continues to be a fantastic season for me in finding anime that I have really taken a shine to. The shows aren’t perfect and how many of them will stand a rewatch test after the fact (or even manage to end well) still remains to be seen, but so far I have genuinely loved the Autumn season. Looking forward to what all these shows do next. Except, of course, Evil or Live which I dropped this week.

Let me know your favourites and the ones you have dropped in the comments below.

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Must Watch

March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 (Episode 25)

This show is not in any danger of losing the top spot here. There are very few shows that hit me the way March Comes in Like a Lion consistently does. It just has the perfect emotional resonance for me to be completely absorbed in the story. The pace is slow, there’s a lot of shogi chat, some of the slice of life moments may not feel overly purposeful, but the driving emotions come through so beautifully clearly and the contrast between the moments of hope and despair hit hard. Completely in love with this.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Episode 4)

That was fantastic. This episode gave me everything I was wanting from this series in that the relationship between Chise and Elias is further explored (or made a bit murkier), we learn more about the complexities of the magical world and they continue to expand on the difference between mages and sorcerers and hopefully that will continue, we also get an interesting plot in this episode with the Kingdom of Cats and to corrupted soul that needs to be cleansed. Absolutely no complaints from this week’s episode.

Land of the Lustrous (Episode 4)

Another superb and beautiful episode that gives us a little more knowledge about the world and helps Phos grow just a little bit more. I really wonder what will happen next week given they left us on a cliff-hanger but this episode was solidly done and truly mesmerizing to watch.

Kino’s Journey (Episode 4)

Falling a little bit in the list this week, Kino’s Journey remains interesting, but I wasn’t quite as impressed with episode 4. Possibly this was the because the focus wasn’t on Kino and the stand in protagonist for the week, while a nice side character, just didn’t seem as interesting.

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Usually Entertaining

Girls’ Last Tour (Episode 4)

Episode 4 doesn’t do much but it doesn’t really need to. The girls are kind of charm personified and while they are just going through the motions of survival they are doing it with a firmly grounded optimism (which is kind of better than an over the top and fake kind of optimism). Really cute show and really enjoying it despite how laid back it is.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie (Episode 5)

Fairly solid episode this week advancing the characters and the story and still being relatable and charming. While this show does have its flaws and the characters aren’t exactly deep, it really is adorable to watch and I’m thoroughly enjoying it so far.

Anime-Gataris (Episode 4)

Anime-Gataris shouldn’t take moving below MMO Junkie personally. It is just that as we hit episode 4, MMO Junkie has continued to build on its strengths while this one kind of plateaued this week. It was still good fun and highly entertaining but the cracks in the story are starting to show and they are going to have to start filling some of them in soon or work harder at distracting me from seeing them.

Just Because (Episode 4)

Episode four was a fantastic follow up and almost seemed to be a mini-climax to some of the plot points developed throughout the first three episodes. Yet I remain very interested in this show. Mostly because the question of what these characters will do now that one’s confessed and one’s been shot down before he ever got to is one that really interests me. For the most part this show is fairly solid but there are definitely scenes where the visuals aren’t quite up to scratch and the general slow pace is a little bit of a problem for me, but I’m really enjoying it overall.

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Okay, I Guess

King’s Game (Episode 5)

Okay, as badly as this one is written, it is still topping this list. I’m enjoying watching it even though you could probably pick it entirely to pieces if you think about any of it for even a minute. Still, it is unashamed about being melodramatic teen horror and while it isn’t exactly going to challenge any of the classics, it is entertaining enough for the season.

Sengoku Night Blood (Episode 5)

This one might just drop a bit in the list if it doesn’t pick up soon. It is still a pretty chill viewing experience but a few things are starting to become a little annoying about it. That, and for all the frantic energy of some characters in this episode, I am not certain anything was really accomplished other than a lot of still frames with guys grunting of shouting over the top of them.

Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ (Episode 4)

Cardia continues to get better as a character and while I had some issues with the logic of this episode, the quick pace and just the general tone was really entertaining. It isn’t going to hold up if you think about it, but if you just want to sit back and kind of enjoy something kind of historical and kind of romantic, with just a little bit of action, this may fit that spot for you.

Black Clover (Episode 5)

Black Clover is kind of finding its way. It is definitely taking its time but I think there were only two moments in this episode where I actually found Asta annoying and the rest of the time he was surprisingly okay. We also finally seem to be moving things forward and introducing characters who might actually be interesting so fingers crossed for future episodes.

Juni Taisen: Zodiac War (Episode 5)

Another boring character mumbling plots and observations to himself as we get some background on the Sheep. Meanwhile, the fight set-up last week happened but wasn’t resolved, and realistically we are no closer to actually knowing what any of the characters want. It is kind of shame because actually seeing Monkey and Rabbit fight could be pretty cool if they were actually going to show us that instead of giving us a few lines of dialogue, one strike and dodge, and then cut away to someone else.

UQ Holder (Episode 5)

This isn’t really moving anywhere on this list. It is watchable and the show works. I can imagine that some people will have fun with it. For me it is just too generic in its story and the balance between comedy and action isn’t quite fitting. There isn’t a single character I particularly like nor am I particularly curious about anything in the story so realistically there’s little appeal drawing me back to the show. But it isn’t broken and there is some silly fun to be had. The fights aren’t too bad and there’s a decent amount of carnage given none of the characters ever die so they just put them through hell.

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They Made This?

Dies Irae (Episode 3)

Nope. This show hasn’t improved. It is just finding new ways to confuse me. There’s still a very small hope that maybe all of this will eventually make sense and I will move this back out of the ‘They Made This’ category at that point. But for now, this is an incoherent ramble of ideas and gore.

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Tried and Dropped

Evil or Live (Episode 4)

Well it went from They Made This with me wondering who the audience was for this show, to not even caring. Episode 4 did nothing to further any of the points I was kind of interested in and really emphasised the points I hated about the show. So this one is now officially dropped from my line up this season.

My Girlfriend is Shobitch (Episode 2)

TWOCAR (Episode 1)

Taisho Mebiusline Chicchaisan (Episode 1)

Love is Like A Cocktail (Episode 1)

Konohana Kitan (Episode 1)

A Sister’s All You Need (Episode 1)

Urahara (Episode 1)


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Kino’s Journey Episode 4: We Can Fix It

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Review:

At first I thought it was odd that this episode had Shizu as the main character visiting the country (Kino doesn’t appear until much later in the episode, though you kind of know they are going to show up and it isn’t much of a surprise when they finally do run into each other). However, given the nature of the story, it kind of made sense.

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Shizu isn’t passive or willing to take the not-my-problem approach to injustice that Kino seems to adopt at times and sets about investigating the Ship Country before deciding he needs to fix the problem. It is very reminiscent of shows like Stargate where they encounter a culture and then try to convince them they are wrong because their actions don’t agree with whatever personal philosophy the character has decided on for the week. So Shizu decides to confront those in charge.

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After trying for a peaceful solution, he straps on his sword and off he goes to be the hero before running smack into Kino, who being Kino is operating strictly under their own self-interest. Of course Kino chose to stay in the tower rather than become a worker. And of course Kino doesn’t care about the workers. But, when the tower decides to change the ship’s direction upsetting Kino’s travel plans… Suddenly Kino’s self-interest is in-line with Shizu’s. Probably just as well for Shizu. Nice guy but not the brightest bulb in terms of self-preservation or even social studies really.

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Yet, the end is fairly predictable. The people ‘saved’ didn’t actually asked to be saved and they kind of liked their status quo. It wasn’t perfect, but they never asked an outsider to mess it up. Then there’s another little twist but it isn’t overly significant so I’ll leave that alone.

I didn’t like this episode as much as previous ones. Mostly because Shizu is a character (or representative of characters) we’ve seen a million times before. Kino’s action in the first three episodes are interesting because they tend to deviate from what you would expect in a given situation. Still, the contrast between the way Kino travels and Shizu this week is quite well done.


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Autumn 2017 Week 4

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If you missed it, my review schedule is up on my patreon site, though I will admit there is still plenty of movement going on this season. That is probably because of the sheer number of shows that have caught my interest and last season I’d have watched them just to have something kind of fun to talk about. This season however I’m probably going to end up dropping shows and putting them on my list of shows to come back to at a later date (which usually means a long time before I get to them). Still, this is where the shows currently sit on my list and hopefully they can continue to be fun. At the moment I have a lot of shows in my Must Watch and Usually Entertaining categories. I kind of know already some of them will wear thin as the season goes and they’ll start dropping down, but I’m kind of hopeful about a lot of them.

How is everyone else finding the Autumn anime season this year? Let me know in the comments below.

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Must Watch

March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 (Episode 24)

Wow. There were so many characters getting moments in this episode that when you just think about the show it feels like it should have been incredibly rushed. However, that wasn’t the case as every moment we saw has naturally built from previous moments with these characters. They are logical next steps or expansions on things we already knew and yet they give us that more complete picture. Really loved this episode and this series is making a very solid return.

Kino’s Journey (Episode 3)

Episode 3 just kind of reinforced what I liked about the previous episode and I’m kind of hooked on finding out where Kino will go next and what they will see. This show seems to be trying to avoid making any kind of statement but it raises a lot of issues and the parallels to reality work well at putting a lot of emotional weight behind seemingly simple situations. All and all, good fun so far.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Episode 3)

While I wasn’t entirely sold on some of this episode, The Ancient Magus’ Bride remains a beautiful anime to watch (both visually and emotionally). The few complaints I have about a slightly weaker story are pretty much offset by everything else this show offers. My thoughts are available on Weekend Otaku’s site where we reviewed the episode together.

Land of the Lustrous (Episode 3)

How do you make a story about anthropomorphized gem stones interesting and a truly emotional experience? Land of the Lustrous is taking a good shot at showing us exactly how to do that. The narrative is still a little bit sparse but the characters are really shining in this beautifully animated show. Well worth checking out.

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Usually Entertaining

Girls’ Last Tour (Episode 3)

This continues to be pretty good viewing. The slow pace and very little happening is off-set by the richness of the world and a slow trickle of information about the past, as well as the two very charming leads. While this one probably isn’t going to become a must watch for me, I am definitely being entertained by this.

Anime-Gataris (Episode 3)

This is just so much fun. There might be better shows and even better parodies out there, but I’m really enjoying watching this and am liking the cast more and more. Hoping this continues to build on the foundation they’ve got here and hopefully they don’t go off the rails in a few episodes.

Recovery of an MMO Junkie (Episode 4)

The transition to focusing on the characters’ real lives for the first half of episode 3 was well made and really cemented this as a series I am enjoying. The MMO parts remain weaker, but with the context being provided by their real lives even those scenes are becoming more enjoyable. So episode 4 was a little bit slower to get started with the focus back on the game for a bit, but once it got going it was a very enjoyable episode.

Just Because (Episode 3)

I really am enjoying this fairly sleepy story so far. It isn’t overly exciting and nothing much is happening (transfer student, past relationships surfacing, new relationships forming, and lots of just kind of meandering) but it has a kind of charm that keeps me smiling during the episodes. Hopefully this continues along these lines.

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Okay, I Guess

King’s Game (Episode 4)

Sensibly enough, I kind of get that the copious issues with characterisation and pacing are probably going to kill this as an enjoyable viewing experience for a wider audience. However, I like the premise of this as a horror and there are genuine moments that actually work (though the overall execution of the show needs some work if anyone was ever expected to take this seriously).

Sengoku Night Blood (Episode 4)

Continuing to be a relaxing viewing that isn’t really inspiring me to think or worry for the characters. Pretty chill experience of girl, with just enough personality that I probably shouldn’t mock her for being a blank slate but not enough to actually be a character, exploring fantasy warring states Japan complete with vampires and werewolves who all dress like characters rejected from a Final Fantasy line up. Anyway, I’m enjoying it but I’m not exactly going to sing its praises.

Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ (Episode 3)

Bring on the vampire boy with a grudge against Van. At the very least, this gave Cardia some reason to empathise with someone else and she started to actually seem more like a person in this episode because of it. Hopefully she keeps going because she may even gain a personality if this keeps up and then I will have to stop making fun of her.

Black Clover (Episode 4)

Finally this show is starting to move on a bit and this episode was the best so far. Still some issues and they are definitely running some jokes straight into the ground, but it is becoming a bit more enjoyable. Hopefully this is a sign of better things to come.

Juni Taisen: Zodiac War (Episode 4)

Yep, with Chicken gone we are back to boring characters who don’t actually seem to be in a hurry to kill each other even though they have a time limit before they die naturally of ingested poison. The one story point I took from this episode is that they couldn’t refuse to join the fight though why that might be or what the true purpose is has yet to actually be revealed.

Dies Irae (Episode 2)

Definitely still setting things up but improving as we continue along. This is kind of a good sign and I hope it continues. More murder, fights and high school life in this episode and a few hints at what is going on but nothing concrete yet.

UQ Holder (Episode 4)

The second half of the episode this week really kicked things up a notch. I’m still not overly impressed, but it is harmless fun so far. Well, harmless for the audience and not so much for the immortal characters. Making your cast immortal makes it pretty hard to up the tension so we seem to be going for pain and causing emotional distress at the moment.

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They Made This?

Evil or Live (Episode 3)

Hey, first show into the They Made This category. It has the honour of having intrigued me enough that I want to know how it ends, while at the same time being more or less unwatchably bad during this third episode. Pretty much, other than the premise which is kind of interesting, this show has so far managed to butcher every other aspect and to be honest it is kind of cringe worthy.  We’ll see if it recovers later in the season or if it gets too bad and I end up dropping it.

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Tried and Dropped

My Girlfriend is Shobitch (Episode 2)

TWOCAR (Episode 1)

Taisho Mebiusline Chicchaisan (Episode 1)

Love is Like A Cocktail (Episode 1)

Konohana Kitan (Episode 1)

A Sister’s All You Need (Episode 1)

Urahara (Episode 1)


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Karandi James.

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Kino’s Journey – The Beautiful World Episode 3: Keeping Things Grey

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Review:

Kino’s Journey so far has been a very laid back kind of story in term of its pace and tone and yet the actual events and ideas are pretty big, if a little generic. This week isn’t any different as it has Kino join a travelling country that leaves a trail in its wake.

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The opening of the episode shows us that something has gone wrong with Kino’s travels though we aren’t clued in as to what, but the sense that something had changed is only reinforced when Kino is asked how long they wish to visit the travelling country. Previously, Kino has strictly stayed somewhere for three days but here they suggest they might be staying longer than that.

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Ultimately the travelling country comes across a wall which is defended by those who live in that country. After ‘negotiations’ break down (negotiation mostly being the travelling country saying they were going to pass through and the other country telling them they couldn’t) the travelling country pretty much just cuts through and then rolls through the wall and then over that country’s agricultural area (which is apparently better than houses, though what they are going to eat if you crush their farms is a question that the show chooses deliberately to ignore) and proceeds onwards swatting aside any and all attempts to stop them.

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The obvious comparison to developed nations using superior technology and wealth to pretty much do as they like wherever they like is not subtle nor is the remark about the other country that reached too far with its wall and toll to cross the plains. The end result is something that is actually fairly pleasant to watch but uncomfortable to think about which kind of makes it pretty affective. Kino’s motive and actions are ultimately explained as is their reason for staying with the travelling country for longer than three days and once again we see Kino is moved almost entirely by self-interest in this instance. I’m fascinated by this story so far and while the questions it raises are hardly unique, the way it avoids providing an actual judgement on events (other than Kino’s) is kind of interesting.


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Kino’s Journey Episode 2: Story Crafting Done Right

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Review – Episode Spoiler Ahead:

There was something magical about this episode even as we started with a vision of a woman speaking with Kino in an incredibly ambiguous fashion and then we get straight into a new country, one that Kino has apparently been wanting to visit. Yet on arrival, things are not as expected (which plays directly into the audiences’ expectations).

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For a set up so common, what Kino’s Journey then does is  take us through a rather thought provoking series of events that have us both backing Kino and question their choice in how to deal with the situation. Other characters similarly have ambiguous motives so while the plot progresses in a more or less routine fashion there is plenty for the audience to contemplate.

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What truly works though isn’t the shocking climax of the fights, because that was pretty telegraphed by Kino’s earlier question about stray bullets and a number of other hints, but rather just how well all the moments of this episode connect.

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Perhaps the most powerful scene of all comes after Kino leaves the country and is throwing rocks into the water. The conversation between Kino and Hermes is both illuminating and maddeningly vague leading you to speculate about the intentions of the characters involved.

All and all though, this episode really stepped up defied my expectation that this episodic series might be dull. This episode was truly a treat to watch.


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Kino’s Journey – The Beautiful World Episode 1: What Will We See?

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Overview:

“The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.” A story about Kino, who travels around the world with nothing but her guns for protection and talking motorcycle Hermes. Kino travels to many mystical worlds, each with its unique customs and people, and learns about the world through their stories, at times conjuring humor and inspiration or other times piercing cynicism. However, Kino has her own custom, to stay no longer than three days in every town without exception, as it is enough time to learn almost everything important about the place while still leaving time to explore new lands.

– From Crunchyroll

Review:

Kino’s Journey wasn’t really on my radar but it came up on Crunchyroll and seemed like it could be a bit interesting, plus I read a couple of other blogger’s first impressions and it seemed like it would be worth trying. This first episode is slow and yet tells a complete story and is oddly compelling.

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As a main character, Kino is still something of an enigma and in this episode acts largely as a passive observer. It kind of reminded me a bit of Mushishi in the way that events just kind of happen rather than the MC instigating things. My problem with that is I find these sorts of stories a little dull as a rule.

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Still, for a first episode I enjoyed this. The country we visited was interesting and Kino encountered enough colourful characters to draw us into this world. I do want to know why the motorcycle talks and why other characters just respond to it as though that is perfectly normal, but even if that is never explained I somehow doubt that is going to make or break this journey. It seems like it will be pretty episodic given they’ve already established that Kino is only going to stay three days in each place.

All and all, I think this could be good, but we’ll see how the next couple of episodes go.


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