Friday’s Feature: What a Waste

Have you ever had that feeling of disappointment that comes along after you’ve read a really cool premise or a story seems to have an incredible setting and then literally nothing is done with it?

Well for me, 2017 really delivered a lot of these sorts of shows where you had to wonder why they even bothered. While many anime are set in the generic school type setting or average Japanese city/town, others try for a more ambitious set up, but if the story doesn’t utilise it basically all the show ends up doing is waste its time trying to explain concepts that don’t amount to anything.

This was a major issue for Knight’s & Magic. Forget the fact that the majority of the show takes place in a fairly generic fantasy setting that is largely indistinguishable from any other. Also, forget the fact that we’re introduced to monsters that need to be fought off (the justification for the Knights’ existence in the world at all) but by about three episodes in you’ll never see another monster (okay, slight exaggeration). No, Knight’s & Magic just had an overly complicated premise which fizzled into nothingness more or less the instant the show actually started.

Now, I noted this in my series review of this, but Knight’s & Magic isn’t a straight fantasy but rather an isekai story. Meaning the main character is transported into another world. But Knights Of The Incorrectly Used Apostrophe isn’t satisfied with just opening a portal or whatever. Instead it feels the need to kill off Joe Average computer programmer (in a fairly uninteresting manner) and then have him reincarnate as a genius in the magic world due to his memories of programming. About all we learn of him prior to him dying is that he programs and is kind of respected by his colleagues and he likes robots.

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And that sounds fine. You want a character to be exceptional in a fantasy land so give him advanced knowledge of programs. Only, other than one or two comments about magic being similar to a program, you could almost forget this was the premise after about half an episode. Which means the show wasted precious time establishing a premise that it never used. And given there is at least one other character in the fantasy world who seems to be almost equally a genius, unless later developments claim he was also reincarnated, the entire point seems pretty trivial given the amount of set up time it ate early on in the series.

Now the obvious direct comparison of this premise would be the currently airing Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody. While there are plenty of things you can criticise about the show (and believe me, I have been in my episode reviews thus far) one thing I appreciate is that Satou never lets us forget he is a visitor in the world he has found himself in.

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He reacts with surprise to information that is surprising to someone from modern day Japan, complains about things like bathing outdoors, and he uses his working knowledge of the games he was assisting with in his life before getting transported into the game to essentially cheat the system. So while I would argue that Death March is in any way a better show than Knight’s & Magic (both shows have plenty of other issues), I would argue that the premise is actually better utilised and so the set-up actually feels meaningful.

Essentially, if we cut out all of the other world stuff from Knight’s & Magic, you would barely notice the difference, whereas if you cut it out of Death March, you’d have to be confused as to what the main character was thinking.

But Knight’s & Magic wasn’t the only show last year that had me scratching my head about it’s premise. Sengoku Night Blood (another show that wasn’t exactly a genius work either) really has me wondering about a few points. Specifically, why an alternative history take on the warring states era?

It isn’t as though this era is new to anime premises. It may in fact be the most overused era for historical anime. But alternative history by turning the warlords into vampires and werewolves? I’ll admit, I was kind of intrigued about what they would do with this.

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However, I’ll save you the anticipation. They did nothing. other than two of the vampire boys biting the girl, the only consequence of the characters being vampires and werewolves was that they had pointy ears or dog ears. Literally the only thing that changed was cosmetic. All the plot points were essentially identical even if they had left the characters human (about the only thing that would have changed I guess is they wouldn’t have bitten her but maybe given her a kiss for that power up at the end).

It is almost as if they had a planning meeting to discuss how to make their generic warring states anime feel fresh and new and someone plucked the word vampire out of thin air. But then they did nothing with it. The characters run around in daylight, they eat a normal diet, they are all perfectly pleasant human beings, and essentially this is the single most throw-away premise that 2017 delivered.

The problem with shows that do this is that it makes them feel worse than they are. Because they had ideas, and they threw those ideas in front of their audience, and then the audience was forced to watch them just sit there and have nothing done with them episode after episode. And it begs the question of why include these elements if they don’t want to use them or don’t have time to develop them? Why not trim your show down to the parts that matter and deliver them well?

I don’t exactly know the answer to that but I’m going to turn this over to you and ask if you’ve ever been let down by the premise of a show?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime That Disappointed Me From 2017

Last week I gave my top 5 list of suprisingly good shows from 2017. This week I turn it around and share my top 5 disappointments from 2017. Like the last list, this isn’t the list of shows I thought were the worst (those will come out in their own list with the reader’s choices later). This list is for shows that I foolishly held any kind of expectation for and then had my hopes dashed, shattered and basically destroyed as the series progressed. It is a highly subjective list as if you didn’t have expectations for the show it probably won’t be a disappointment so I’d love to know which shows you found a bit disappointing last year. Be sure to leave a comment below.

Please Note: There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions go to Clockwork Planet, KADO, and Silver Guardian.

Okay, KADO was actually a major disappointment but I didn’t have any expectations when the show started because I hadn’t even heard of it. It was more the second half of the show could not manage to live up to the expectations built during the first half.

Number 5: Juni Taisen: Zodiac War

This is entirely my own fault. I rarely watch promotional videos prior to viewing an anime but this is one I had seen talked up a lot and the promos looked fantastic. In the show’s defense, the show mostly looks pretty amazing, particularly in action sequences (which are few and far between after the dramatic opening episode that show cases just how pretty the animation could be). But with dull characters that I never connected with and a mostly predictable plot I didn’t care about, this show quickly became a chose to watch and ended up being something I actually put off watching for a day some week’s even knowing that the events of the episode would be ‘spoiled’ after I read the blogs of others. I just didn’t care whether I knew what was about to happen or not because I’d given up expecting anything from the show.

Number 4: Knight’s & Magic

For a show with such a cool concept of combining mecha and magic and placing it in a standard isekai setting this quickly became just a mess of time jumps, dull narration, and very little to invest in. Ernesti could have become an interesting character excpet that the show went out of its way to never challenge him and to never have him second guess himself. Ever. The support cast are mostly forgettable. The final story arc deals with a threat that more or less comes out of nowhere and you don’t actually feel any of the main characters are threatened. Basically it is a mess of a show where it could have so easily been good.

Number 3: Black Clover

I’m aware, it isn’t done yet. But the disappointment this one gave me was palpable. I don’t buy into hype and so despite the Crunchyroll push of this anime everywhere prior to release, I kind of resigned myself to a pretty standard shounen story that would have the usual annoyances of the genre but would probably be a good enough bit of light hearted entertainment. Alas, Black Clover forgot the most imporant part thing is to actually engage your audience and entertain them. See, the point isn’t just to stretch wafer thin content until it crumbles and exposes the absolute rubbish characters and their lack of motives or development. Each episode just compounded the irritation associated with this show and it couldn’t even live up to my expectations that this might be alright for a bit of fun. I feel very bad for people who went in to this show actually expecting the next big shounen title.

Number 2: Tales of Zestiria the X Season 2

After season 1, I wasn’t expecting much of season 2. I was more or less just hoping to find out how Sorey actually got a handle on his powers and defeated the Calamity King. And in fairness, season 2 did get around to delivering that story. We just spent a lot of time kind of meandering around before the henchman of the villain just kind of showed up and said ‘he’s over there, go get him’ and then we watched the characters more or less just go and do that. There are some good moments and some fairly impressive visuals at times, but all and all the narrative is a mess and there are too many characters who seem to exist only because they must have been in the game. It all just detracts from the story and sucks any fun out of the experience.

Number 1: Sword Oratoria

My number one biggest disappointment goes to a show I didn’t actually finish so have never reviewed (and given I am not inclined to return to the show, I will never review). Sword Oratoria. I am such a huge fan of DanMachi and I was actually really excited to see a spin-off (would have preferred a sequel but I’ll take what I can get – or at least I thought so). Then I found out the focus was going to be Ais, one of the least interesting characters from the original. Then the show aired. So boring, so much talking, so many characters I don’t care about… When the only reason to keep watching are the tiny glimpses of Bell you kind of have to realise you may as well just go and rewatch DanMachi. This was incredibly disappointing.

So there is my list, and as I said at the beginning it is incredibly subjective due to the fact that you can only be disappointed when you go in expecting something. Please share your biggest disappointments from 2017 in the comments below and get the conversation going.


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Karandi James.

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Knight’s & Magic Series Review: It Is Going To Take More Than Duct Tape To Fix This Mess

Overview:

A guy who is apparently a genius programmer (the synopsis told me so) is killed but then is reborn in a fantasy world where he can use his somehow remembered understanding of programming to use magic and build robots. Now he wants to build his dream robot.

Review – Some spoilers:

I was watching a video review of this anime the other day (sorry, cannot remember which blog I was on or I would link) and they said (heavily paraphrased) that they didn’t know why this was even an isekai story as the fact that the guy was originally a programmer in our world literally added nothing to the story. This was something that kind of bothered me while watching the show as well. Other than eating up precious minutes in the first episode where we meet our robot obsessed programmer and then watch him die, there is zero mention of him coming from another world ever again in the anime. He does weird things occasionally and certainly a lot of his ideas are derivative of things he could have seen in his former life but he could just as easily have been a genius ahead of his time. There was no reason to add the extra complication of reincarnation. It added nothing to the story and it wasted set up time on a set up that wasn’t needed.

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And basically that explains a lot about what is wrong with Knight’s & Magic. It has a lot of things in it that aren’t necessary and what it doesn’t have is any clear or focused narrative. The premise is super cool. I love that they decided to mix mecha and fantasy. The mix of robots and magic is perfect because for once I’m not rolling my eyes at giant robots being able to move and jump or do anything that they are doing because they are powered and moved by magic so they can do whatever they like. The initial setting in the fantasy world where people are attacked by beasts and the robots are needed to fight them gives a fairly wide range of possible story lines and works well enough even if it is pretty standard, and the weird main character who doesn’t understand the concept of impossible could have been really fun.

This show should have been amazing.

The final battle takes place between a flying robot and a mechanical dragon. How do you manage to make that lame? Well, let Knight’s & Magic teach you.

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I guess we all should have been tipped off by the unnecessary apostrophe in the title. That bugged me all season but now that I reflect on the show it kind of matches it perfectly. It has an idea but wants to make it look even cooler than it is so it goes just that one step too far. Genius kid develops robots for his kingdom? We can do better than that. That kid is a reborn programmer from Earth who loved model robots. It adds nothing but it sounds cool.

While I’m being petty I’ll also take aim at the opening song. There’s actually nothing wrong with the opening as it visually works and the song, while fairly generic, is entertaining enough, but for some reason each week (and I’m not sure if they did this from the start or it if came along later on) they felt the need to break the song up with dialogue from the upcoming episode. Kind of jarring and a little spoilery. Right up there with those previews they used to give us for Sailor Moon back in the 90’s and then Serena would tell us to stay right there because they’d show us what happened. Only, we just kind of saw it in the preview so doesn’t that take a lot of the fun out of it?

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If I look at this more objectively, my biggest issue with Knight’s & Magic is the story. Or maybe it is the lack of story. A story implies that things are building toward a climax where as this is a series where stuff happens, the characters react, they overcome the challenge (which mostly doesn’t end up even seeming like a challenge) and then in the aftermath of the previous event, something else happens. So there’s a few issues.

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The first is the reactionary nature of the characters. Ernesti wants to build his own mecha. Great. That’s a character goal and something to work towards. And he does work toward that goal but he does a lot of stuff that seems superfluous to that goal along the way and seems to take great delight in the destruction of enemies even if they never stood a chance. The other characters however, don’t seem to have any goal. Kid and Ady are hanging with Ernesti. Because they made friends with him when he was young? Because they have zero ambitions or goals of their own? What do these two want? It is never made clear, they just kind of hang around as Ernesti’s entourage for the entire series. Other characters also seem to just get dragged along in Ernesti’s wake and even the villains for the most part have very little in the way of actual motive or vested interest in anything that is actually going on. So no one is driving this plot. Except maybe the narrator who is literally dragging the audience through months and years of development in a matter of a few minutes of perfunctory narration.

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The second is the lack of a clear antagonist. Ultimately the series chooses the war with some country whose name I don’t remember (it started with a Z as mandated by all derivative fantasy writers – close second if it started with an X) and we get a bit of a face off between Ernesti and another designer who is also a genius. This had me wondering whether other genius was also reborn in this world and that’s the only way someone shows any signs of intelligent thought (because the side characters sure didn’t) or whether he was this world’s version of a real genius and Ernesti just stomped out the evolution of an entirely different kind of technology for his own amusement. Yet other than one early encounter where technology is stolen from Ernesti by a character who returns later only to be cut down in seconds, there’s no sign of this Kingdom or any kind of political tension until very late in the series. Instead we see Ernesti handle the beasts (which are what we are introduced to in the first episode as the problem), then they disappear as we see Ernesti challenge another development lab, and then we see new robots fighting beasts, then Ernesti meets some not-elves and learns all the secrets of how to build a robot. All that happens before we get any hint of a war looming ahead. I know we need some background but could the show try foreshadowing.

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The third issue is how anti-climactic the climax is. Ernesti never loses. In the penultimate battle he is fought to a draw but even then it isn’t like his robot blows up or anything. There isn’t a single moment of actual tension in this series because you know Ernesti will win. Usually very easily. So even though the final battle works hard to make you think there might be some tension, by this point the audience knows how the story goes and you can almost narrate the story for them. It is an aerial battle with a mechanical dragon and I was bored. There’s something very wrong when a show can’t manage to make you worried that maybe the mechanical dragon might actually be an effective weapon against the protagonist.

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I’m not actually opposed to happy endings and the main characters having a triumphant return. But I’d like to feel they worked for it and earned it and to be honest this didn’t do it. Likely this is because not one of the main characters is even crippled let alone killed. Only one of them is even in any kind of danger during the entire final battle and other than some strategic blood on his face from unseen wounds, there’s no actual sign of injury. And after the battle, he’s fine. No recovery period. Okay, the robot broke, as did a few others, but not one main character left with any kind of lasting scar from a full on war that they fought on the front lines of? This feeds well into the idea that this is self-insert wish-fulfillment but it does not make for an interesting story.

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Basically, I really wanted to like this show. I kept hoping that the next week would do something with the really interesting premise that caught me in episode 1. Unfortunately this show had no interest in developing characters or plot and ultimately was nothing but a disappointment. A good-looking disappointment with some cool mecha designs, but still a disappointment.

I’d love to know your thoughts so please leave a comment below.


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Karandi James.

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Knight’s & Magic Episode 13: Some People Are Just Sore Losers

Review:

Well, this ended pretty much the way everyone predicted and managed to be pretty pointless right to the end. Ernesti fights the drake and shows off a few new tricks (though I’m not certain splattering it with oil and setting it on fire counts as a new trick).

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We then get the engineer from the otherside (name has totally escaped me at this point) and Ernesti having an argument which may have only been occurring in their heads or may have been broadcast, I don’t know as it was unclear, about the aesthetics of robot design. Because that’s super important in a life or death battle.

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All of this is interspersed with the side characters storming the fortress below and one final fight with the sword mecha which ends as expected before the captain of the drake decides to ram the Princess. This is where my mild irritation with the generally stupid writing decisions in this show blew up into full of rage as the Princess stubbornly insisted she wouldn’t move because she believed that she would be protected. Lady, there’s a giant robot dragon falling out of the sky about to land on you. Would it kill you to take three steps to the right? No, instead Kid has to have a moment to jump from one airship to the drake to fight the captain and then jump out of his mecha and into Ernesti’s hand because I guess Kid hadn’t done anything useful in a few episodes because wasn’t his mecha powering the airship? Oh yeah, his mecha was powering the airship. His and Ady. So why is it still flying given he’s just abandoned ship? So frustrating.

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Anyway the war wraps up, we get some more Kid and Princess stuff before they all head home. But this is my favourite part of the episode. The Smiths that actually build the machines that have made everything possible finally get official recognition for their effort. Then Ernesti begins plotting his next steps and we end the show. Of course nothing is resolved because opposing designer guy survived and is looking for a new hire, the King or whatever of the country that started the war hasn’t been defeated, the sword guy is still alive and heading home, and there’s new tech coming out everywhere changing political and economic landscapes, but sure, let’s just end the story here. Why not at this point?

I’m kind of looking forward to a full series review of this show. I think it is going to be fun to write.


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Karandi James.

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Knight’s & Magic Episode 12: Are We Sure Ernesti Isn’t a Villain?

Review:

I had a lot of time for thinking while watching this episode, mostly because other than super dramatic music and various bits of magic zipping across the screen not a lot was going on in the first half. The fights may look visually impressive for the first two or so passes, but as Ernesti circles the ‘Drake’ and we get the same animation of its lightning defense etc, it all just starts looking a bit samey and I kind of tuned out what was going on until Ernesti hit the ground. Points for the ‘villains’ for finally knocking him out of the sky.

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What I started thinking about was Ernesti’s character and how he pretty much exhibits every characteristic you would expect of a B Grade villain. He chuckles gleefully when he destroys his enemy or creates a new machine designed to kill. He has no qualms about stealing his comrades machines if it is convenient to him. He has no loyalty to the actual rulers of his country and really would sell his loyalty to whoever would give him the access he wants to innovate with his robots, and don’t threaten the future of that robot design or he’ll take it very personally.

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That made it much harder for me to actually care about the villains and their actions given I don’t know enough about them to care personally, and their actual fighting style has been practical and not as underhanded as Ernesti’s.

Anyway, there’s one more episode of this and it is another show I’ll be glad to see off my watch list. The narrator of this show is getting my vote for most annoying character of the season.


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Karandi James.

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Knight’s & Magic Episode 11: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, No… It’s a Giant Mechanical Dragon?

Review:

This show was definitely written by a bunch of people sitting around saying “You know what would be cool…”

“Yeah, giant robots that fight with magic.”

“Totally.”

“Wait, what if they had like four magic wands?”

“Too cool!”

“And then what if some of them looked like horses?”

“That’s fantastic!”

“And we’ll paint some red. Everyone loves red!”

“Awesome!”

And then the conversation starts to devolve and eventually we get to…

“And then the enemy just builds a freakin’ dragon and it burns the whole city down!”

Stunned silence for a moment.

“Woah! That is amazing! Write it! Write it!”

So yeah, that’s how I imagine the planning meeting for this story going and to be honest watching this show is rather like being a fly on the wall for one of those conversations. The participants look like they are having fun, but it isn’t fun.

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We had one antagonist in the prince who was dispatched almost without a second thought but that kind of left room for the designer guy from the supposed bad guys to become an antagonist. Only we know absolutely nothing about him other than he is on a serious ego trip, which more or less puts him on par with our apparent hero, Ernesti, that we know nothing about other than he is good at everything because he was a programmer in a previous life.

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And all this leaves me asking what the point of all of this is for the audience? Maybe the writers are having fun. Maybe Ernesti is having fun somewhere. But for the audience we are continuing to watch a series of events strung together only through narration about characters we know literally nothing about and have little reason to care.

Maybe I could just shrug and agree that a flying mechanical dragon is cool. Okay, it is cool. I love dragons. This one burnt a whole city in one breath and looks pretty awesome. Only, I know how this will go already. Even if I choose to buy into the cool factor this week, next week or the week after, Ernesti will tilt his head, come up with some weird idea and laugh as he rushed into battle and that dragon is going to end up either a flaming mess of scrap parts or Ernesti is going to take control of it. Either way, I’m pretty sure I am not going to be satisfied with how it goes.


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Karandi James.

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Knight’s & Magic Episode 10: Who Needs Characterisation and Motivation When We Have Narration?

Review:

Once again this show has a general lack of respect for narrative as we gloss over huge problems of resourcing the build of new (or upgrades to) existing robots, cram in a Princess rescue, a cheer up the Princess date episode, and the thief from earlier comes back with the potential to actually be a character but then gets cut down in about two seconds. Because, hey, why actually make any one of these things a focus or give it the time it needs to be interesting when we can gloss over events and trample on our characters and just have the narrator fill in the blanks with a few lines of inane dialogue.

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It is kind of a shame because Kid finally got to do something other than be Ernesti’s hanger on number two and they still just kind of glossed over that fact. Given he so far hadn’t done a single actual narratively noteworthy thing and his existence was fairly pointless other than rounding out the screen when Ernesti and Ady were there, is seems kind of mean to give him a moment and then just glide right past it.

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Not to mention we finally met someone kind of smart on the other side and the narrator tells us he’s important and his meeting with Ernesti (kind of) in this episode is important, but you wouldn’t know that from watching the show given he’s there and gone.

This show is making a good run for most flawed show I’ve watched to the end this year and that’s in a year when I watched Hand Shakers.


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Summer 2017 Week 9

A slightly less intense week which was definitely needed. Thanks to everyone who has sent me good wishes or positive thoughts via twitter, things really have been a bit full on in the real world at the moment but there’s light at the end of the tunnel in that I know in about a month’s time I will be through most of the stuff I’m currently dealing with from a work point of view and things should resume some sort of normality. Just have to get through the next month or so.

As always, I’d love to know your thoughts on the shows of the season so please leave me a comment below.

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Must Watch

My Hero Academia (Episode 33)

No episode last week.

Princess Principal (Episode 8)

Episode 8 feels better than it actually is. I really enjoyed watching it and felt the characters really carried the episode, and then I thought back and realised that in terms of the story, pretty much nothing happens in episode 8. It is filling in backstory (probably fairly crucial backstory), it is helping us understand the characters better, but it isn’t being a good story on its own which given this series has been pretty episodic is a little bit of a problem. Still, this show has been my surprise love for the season, so still having a lot of fun with it.

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Usually Entertaining

Sagrada Reset (Episode 22)

This continues to build on all of those bread crumbs that were so irritatingly scattered around in the first half to deliver something that could potentially be a great ending (there’s a lot of ‘could’ and ‘potential’ in there though and I won’t count my chickens before they are hatched). Really keeping my fingers crossed that Kei’s plan delivers the ending this build up deserves.

Gamers (Episode 7)

Right, I’m still not going to argue this show is amazing and it is never going into the Must Watch category, but I’ve decided that I would love to own this show on DVD and be able to binge episodes at will.  I’m really just having fun watching these incredibly awkward characters fumble their way through first love with enough gaming references thrown in to give it a little more appeal than the usual rom-com. Still, from a narrative point of view it is all over the place and the characters are all incredibly over the top so it isn’t going to appeal to everyone.

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Okay, I Guess

In Another World With My Smartphone (Episode 8)

Still amused by this and still seeing very little point to anything going on. I guess not everything has to be deep and meaningful but I find it odd that this hasn’t managed to annoy me yet with how little purpose most events in the show seem to have. One minor gripe is that Touya didn’t make anyone slip this week but he did shoot two pickpockets with rubber bullets so that was probably much the same really.

18if (Episode 8)

Episode 8 of this is truly beautiful to look at. Okay, the story is every bit as dream like as previous ones, but it feels like we’re getting a little bit closer to something. Overall, this series remains confusing when thinking about the whole narrative, but individual episodes continue to be interesting in their own way.

Fastest Finger First (Episode 8)

This one is definitely consistent. It delivers low key entertainment week after week never getting any better but not doing anything to derail the basic premise or tone of the show. That makes it fairly fun to watch as you know more or less what you are going to get each week but also pretty unremarkable at the end of the day.

Hell Girl: Fourth Twilight (Episode 7)

Well, we’re pretty much back to formula this week. That isn’t actually a bad thing because the formula works pretty well. It just isn’t as interesting as what the last two week’s delivered so there’s a minor disappointment there. Still, I did enjoy seeing the guy get taken to hell this week. It just felt very satsifying.

Clean Freak Aoyama Kun (Episode 9)

This is starting to take a downward turn, or maybe I’m just over it. Basically, same old jokes, same old characters, and maybe I’m ready to let this go. It was never particularly good and its biggest strength was it wasn’t terrible and occasionally even managed to be kind of funny.

Knight’s & Magic (Episode 9)

Look at that, last week I complained there was nothing for the characters to fight against and this week drops us head first into a war we know nothing about and have no reason to care about but the narrator will work hard to make you feel there is some sense of urgency here. This show makes me roll my eyes way too often.

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life (Episode 9)

There’s some set up this week for something that may turn out to be some sort of plot point of interest but really this continues to be plagued by poor writing, poor pacing, and a really boring protagonist. It isn’t actually bad, but it never quite becomes good either.

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They Made This

Vatican Miracle Examiner (Episode 8)

This was a surprisingly good conclusion to the mystery. They didn’t wrap everything up and there’s still loose ends, but the answers we got were actually kind of satisfying. That’s a step forward for this show and if it keeps going I may need to move it back to being ‘Okay’.

Katsugeki Touken Ranbu (Episode 9)

Another mission, another fight, zero explanations. Looks and sounds pretty still but I’m really checking out while watching now because they’ve given me nothing to care about.

Chronos Ruler (Episode 8)

There was an attempt this week to humanize Victo’s character (and sort out his name with the subs switching to Victor). It was an attempt and probably the best effort at making him feel like a person rather than a character template, but it is just a little bit late after 7 episodes of him being pretty much a painful brat.

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Tried and Dropped

Restaurant to Another World (Episode 1)

Centaur’s Life (Episode 1)

Convenience Store Boyfriends (Episode 1)

Saiyuki Reload Blast (Episode 1)

Battle Girl High School (Episode 1)

Hina Logic (Episode 1)

Tsuredure Children (Episode 1)

Fox Spirit Matchmaker (Episode 1)

Aho Girl (Episode 1)

The Irresponsible Galaxy Tylor (Episode 1)

Does anyone have a favourite villain this season? I’m really struggling to think of anyone who fits the title (other than Stain from My Hero Academia of course).


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Karandi James.

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Knight’s & Magic Episode 9: Oh Look, We Finally Found a Villain

Review:

After nine episodes this show has finally decided to bring a villain into the mix, but I have to wonder how we’re supposed to care about the sudden political situation of neighbouring kingdoms when previously we only saw the one small group who stole Ernesti’s prototype and then vanished without further thought or discussion. I mean, great, we’re finally doing something with that previously dropped plot line, but after 8 episodes of having no antagonist we suddenly have an entire nation wiping out other kingdoms in moments. It’s kind of a sharp contrast and the narrator is working overtime to explain where we are and who the people are and what they are doing and that just isn’t good storytelling.

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They are also doing that thing where the main bad guy isn’t really in the picture and we’re left with some psycho guy that of course we’re supposed to hate but clearly he isn’t the brains of the operation anyway. However, in a show that apparently only has 13 episodes and we’re already at episode 9, we don’t actually have time to defeat psycho boy and then take down the actual villain, unless of course they are just going to narrate us over that too, or we’re going to end with psycho boy being killed by the ongoing threat, ongoing.

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I don’t particularly think either scenario will be very satisfying to watch at this point.


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Karandi James.

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Knight’s & Magic Episodes 7 + 8: More Like a Development Timeline Than A Story

Review Episode 7:

Let me preface my review of this episode by pointing out that there is something infections about Ernesti’s raw enthusiasm. Not just within the show as other characters are drawn into his desire to create and build, but the audience also become a part of wanting to see what will happen and what could happen with these machines.  Early in the episode there’s a moment where he is piloting and this broad grin just bursts out across his face and you can’t help but smile with him for the sheer thrill of seeing that robot in action.

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However, that’s really the only thing carrying the show at this point and it is certainly the only thing carrying this episode. You feel good about the success and how amazing it is and you might walking away feeling that this was a good episode. And a lot of stuff happens. The fight between the lab and the kids, further developments over months, the king stepping down, Ernesti designing new units for the former king and the current heir, and just reading that list makes you realise that none of these events get the time and attention they probably deserved.

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The narrator pushes us through time by telling us months or whatever have passed and we see brief snippets of characterisation. The kids have graduated middle school, somehow, even they don’t know how given they point out they barely attended class, yet this means nothing to the audience because we only ever saw Ernesti really once at school and since then he’s just been playing in the workshop, which makes you wonder why even include the school?

Basically, I enjoyed this, but it wasn’t a good episode in an anime that increasingly reveals it isn’t a very good story. It gets the right ‘feel’ but when you step back from it you realise this is really quite shallow and is barely giving lip-service to narrative at this point.

Review Episode 8:

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Yep, this isn’t a very good story.

They are so absolutely determined to never let Ernesti actually face an obstacle. Start of this episode there’s a horde of beasts heading toward the location where the reactors are made. Seasoned veterans are getting swarmed and can’t hold them back. No problem. Ernesti and his friends will swoop in and save the day without effort, without a plan, without any issues at all.

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Ernesti is told he can’t learn the secret of the reactor because he doesn’t have the time and then the narrator tells us three months later he learned all their secrets. Really? All their secrets? In three months? I’m calling bull on that and this whole story right now. That’s where my credibility limit has been crossed even in an anime about a reincarnated programmer building giant robots powered by magic. Yep, that’s the line.

Besides that, this show continues to be plagued by pacing issues, rushing through significant moments, lack of any kind of overall villain, and basically is just not very good. Wish fulfillment escapism aside, there’s little else worth watching this show for.


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Karandi James.

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