Afterlost Review Episode 12

Definitely no bread crumbs at the end of the bread crumb trail.

Shoumetsu Toshi Episode 12

Okay, they never really had a clue what caused any of this or what was actually going on. It all came down to will power, friendship, and an individual choice with no context given as to why any of those things mattered or would have any impact on reality. Afterlost is a meandering mess of a tale right until the end, but they didn’t forget that Yuki wanted green curtains so I’m glad they got the important details right (sarcasm).

That will fix everything.

There’s really little positive to say about this final episode other than it is a final episode. One way or another the character that has been playing the role of the villain did not succeed at finishing Lost and saving all the people from his universe. Still not sure how that happened or why but I think there was something involving a magic bullet… Doesn’t matter. Not even slightly.

Don’t even ask me what is happening here. I just don’t know.

We did get one sequence of what life would have been like if Lost had never happened. For a brief horrifying moment, I thought Yuki might actually choose to undo it all which would make it even worse than pointless. Like one of those ‘it was all a dream’ endings. Nothing worse. Fortunately Yuki decided against that. I’m not entirely sure what she chose given she never actually articulated it but the world just kind of kept on going.

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I am going to do a full review of this anime but it won’t be for a few weeks so I’ll save you the anticipation. Just pass.

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Afterlost Review Episode 11

The Slow Descent Into A Climax

Shoumetsu Toshi Episode 11

Right, so we’re finally entering Lost. That doesn’t mean we won’t waste half an episode right off the bat showing what all the minor characters are up to, even those we don’t remember. These guys are breaking into a server room so Geek can do some hacking thing in order to communicate with those who enter Lost. These other guys are doing something. These ones blew up some cars. Honestly, if I remembered any of their names it would make this easier but most of these characters have had literally no development and barely any screen time.

Even the girl who has been working with the villains who seemed all big and bad earlier in just kind of gets dropped. We get a few moments of flashback to realise she really doesn’t like the bad guys, she’s just helping them so that she can get revenge (like that ever works), then she pulls a gun on the big bad and next time we see her she’s bleeding on the ground. Not even worth shooting on screen.

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Lost itself turned out to be disappointing as it is mostly like they dove under water and then we wasted the next half the episode with various scenes we’ve already seen with minor variations as Lost attacked Yuki and Takuya’s memories. It wasn’t overly satisfying to watch given they’ve never really done much to make any of these moments matter in the first place let alone on replay.

All and all, it feels like an attempt to delay so that the confrontation with the big bad can happen next episode and we can end on a cliff-hanger. Honestly, Afterlost had some great ideas but no clue about execution.

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Afterlost Review Episode 10

Dragging Things Out

Afterlost Episode 10

Here we go setting up for the final stretch of the story. And it really is a stretch as Afterlost drags out he characters having their final preparations before heading into the Lost. Given we started this anime with Yuki and Takuya heading to the Lost the fact that we’ve gone around in a circle to come back here while making little ground in between is a little disappointing.

Sorry, you just jinxed it. You are not getting that DVD back.

Likewise the fact that this episode just launches us straight back into the story from the end of episode 8 as if the flashback episode in between didn’t happen. The very first scene has Yuki still on the ground where Souma died and regularly makes a point of showing his broken necklace that Yuki ends up integrating into her own, but no one actually makes mention of the fact that he died (other than one casual reference from the antagonist). It is like the writers realise how insignificant he really was and that no one actually cares so they’ve just moved on.

Speaking of the writers, whoever they may be, I get the distinct impression they are the only ones taking Afterlost seriously. With episode titles such as ‘fate’ and ‘decision’ it is like the weight of the world is in every single one and yet the episodes continue to be a lot of meandering around very little. Sure there’s a mystery here but it isn’t all that compelling.

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However, no matter how poorly developed, every character of kind of note needs to be seen this episode and their current state of mind after the previous events have played out revealed. So we see plenty of regret and sadness and frustration while Yuki broods in her bedroom and Takuya lies about the scooter needing more maintenance to delay the final push forward. Giving the antogonist’s time to prepare to get in their way again and to stretch what little story remains to the final episode even if it isn’t partiuclalry interesting.

But that’s okay. Eat a tomato. Afterlost seems to think they are delicious.

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Afterlost Review Episode 9

Prepare for the Flashback

Afterlost Episode 9

Goodness, an episode that is entirely a flashback and yet one that finally tells us who and what is responsible for the Lost event occurring. Only nine episodes in? How nice of Afterlost to finally decide to tell us.

The problem with the reveal here is that it isn’t confirming what we knew or building on clues or ideas, it just throws an entirely new idea at us and yes it makes sense but it isn’t exactly a satisfying reveal because there’s no ‘ah ha’ moment where all the little bits and pieces click into place. What’s even worse is that the anime leaves us with a whole bunch more questions because even though this explains the main antagonist’s goals there are all these other characters doing things that make no sense and there’s no real connection between them and this reveal.

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Still, we go back to before Yuki was born and see her father rising up in his research, through various means, and the truth and plots behind it all. We also see him grow fond of the woman who would become Yuki and Souma’s mother. I’d say we see him fall in love but it really doesn’t seem like there’s enough emotion going on for that.

I enjoyed watching this episode but, like with most episodes of Afterlost, feel like it is mostly lost potential and it just doesn’t do enough to tip it into the arena of actually being good.

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Afterlost Review Episode 8

Little Brother Goes Boom?

Afterlost Episode 8

On the surface, episode 8 of Afterlost actually seems like a step forward. The characters are in a perpetual state of movement as all the main players finally push forward with a plan to reveal the machinations of the evil chemical company and the episode ends with a spectacularly close call to a second Lost event occurring. But then you think back and realise not one new bit of information came to light, with the exception of the fact that the only reason Souma didn’t blow up earlier was because his sister was hanging around him.

I’ll give Afterlost credit for that. It managed to keep things feeling like we were getting closer to something big and while on the surface it looks like we got it, really this just consolidates what we already knew. The conspiracy is vast and even with the public being let in on the information, with confessions from key players, with everything needed to end the farce, in walks in the commissioner and lets those who are apparently responsible walk. More than that, bows his head to them and apologises for the inconvenience.

They are however going to need to offer some real information soon. Like why Souma started turning into a monster just because his power was unstable and why that may have triggered a second Lost, and what actually happened when Yuki got there. Also, how was Akira back this week grabbing Yuki when she, once again, got thrown off the scooter? And why does Takuya keep riding that thing around without a helmet given the sheer number of times in the last 8 episodes he’s been tossed off of it?

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On the brighter side, I did enjoy this episode more. It didn’t leave me looking at the clock and seeing when the episode would end. I had a sense of satisfaction and forward momentum even if the reflection afterwards made me realise we hadn’t really gotten anywhere.

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Afterlost Review Episodes 6 + 7

Frustrating to say the least.

Episode 6

In episode 6 Afterlost tries really hard to build a solid emotional climax with the older brother being one of the ghost things and being used by Souma before being ordered to kill his younger brother. Of course the power of love prevails, the artefact controlling him erased and then we get a touching brother flashback before older brother disappears.

The problem is that Afterlost hasn’t really earned this emotional moment it is aiming for. In fact, not even close. Souma isn’t much of an antagonist and we don’t really know how or why the artefacts work or the impact on the Tama-shi ghost things of being called or used. The younger brother, the magician, we barely met, and the few glimpses of back-story weren’t enough to build any kind of connection with either of these characters. Likewise the rest of the crew that were for some reason still involved.

This guy is fighting, though I’m not sure it matters.

With the main pair being more or less sidelined during this particular fight there’s no connection for the audience with the events. We still don’t know how this plays into the larger story or even if it does and honestly, watching Yuki crying and screaming as Akira is skewered by icicles just left me unmoved and mostly impatient for them to end this fairly pointless encounter on the roof and actually get around to something resembling plot at some point.

This anime is apparently 12 episodes long and we’ve now burned through half of them but it barely feels like we are at the end of a second episode in terms of things we actually know. Fair enough if the characters are interesting or compelling in their own way but I couldn’t honestly say that I even remember all the character’s names having to look them back up each week just to review the show. Other than that, my knowledge of each one would fit in a very short dot-point list and it wouldn’t be overly interesting reading.

So with no clear plot connection and no character connection, episode 6 of Afterlost rings hollow. The story of two brothers torn apart by the lost, more signs of conspiracy given someone clearly sent the older brother into the path of the disaster, and mysterious power boosting artefacts aren’t enough to make this compelling viewing and that is definitely a problem.

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Episode 7

Takuya, the magician guy, and some random detective that we met a couple of episodes ago are now visiting an academy looking for clues to connect to the agency. This is all so far removed at this point from the original get Yuki into Lost to find her father that I’m struggling to care at this point about the intrigues and conspiracies. I’m sure it is all very clever but they’ve given me no reason to believe it is important.

Part of the issue is the agency is still completely without any kind of stated goal or intent. We’ve seen a few faces of the agency, and even those who might be in charge, but there’s no actual motive which makes them difficult to really feel anything for or about. There isn’t even an implied motive other than ‘science’ which is really becoming a lame excuse for  people to act irrationally in the pursuit of some kind of knowledge in a Frankenstein/Prometheus cautionary tale kind of way.

Sorry, that rant was probably directed at a number of other movies and shows I’ve watched where the actions of characters have been equally inscrutable and then the plot has summed it up as a desire for some knowledge as if that makes all the craziness in any way logical.

Why it particularly rankles here is we’re moving at a snail’s pace to nowhere. At the least, Takuya does mention to Yuki at the end that there’s something he wants to do before taking her to Lost, but that’s the first time he’s even mentioned trying to get back to Lost with her in episodes. Why he suddenly feels the need to apologies for putting off something he’s been putting off for a fair while is not addressed.

Much like with the idol group earlier, we meet a group of people who were caught in Lost who are trapped in some kind of memory. Just like the idol group, while this does give us some more information about the agency and the conspiracy, it just doesn’t feel like it needed a whole episode and I couldn’t really connect or care about the characters we only just met when we already knew they wouldn’t be hanging around.

Afterlost continues to be a frustrating watch as I do actually want to know what happened but the story is taking the slowest and least interesting path to get to that revelation.

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Is The New Season of One Punch Man Disappointing?

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The Spring Anime season is upon us and over and over again I’ve been seeing blog posts discussing how this season is a slow season or a poor season in terms of anime. I don’t necessarily disagree but at the same time I’m actually having fun with the season even if a lot of what I’m watching is decidedly average. However, there’s one title in particular that I’ve seen being hammered because it is a ‘disappointment’ and it made me wonder whether or not One Punch Man Season 2 is actually disappointing?

Though, realistically, the answer is pretty evident. The vocal fans of the original season are disappointed. Whether the second season is objectively any worse than the first season is potentially something to be discussed, but the palpable feeling of being let down by a lacklustre second season is wide spread. Even the MAL score supports this with season one scoring 8.87 and season two coming it at 7.90 and likely to fall as more and more episodes come out and more people check out the second season.

As for my personal satisfaction levels, I’m enjoying season two of One Punch Man well enough. Then again, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the original season. While I loved the music, found it on a first watch through amusing enough, and enjoyed some of the social observations it offered, there was little rewatch value and even by the end of season one it felt like the punch-line had worn a little thin.

Therefore, I wasn’t one of the fans hotly anticipating a season two. I was more the person who was wondering just why a second season was even needed.

The key to no disappointment is no expectations.

While that might seem like a simplistic view it really has had a strong impact on my viewing of One Punch Man so far this season.

However, taking my personal expectations out of the equation, what is better and what is worse about One Punch Man season two? Or what are people saying is better or worse and are the criticisms warranted?

Right from the news that One Punch Man was changing studios, from Madhouse to J.C. Staff there was criticism and concern. Admittedly, an anime changing studios isn’t the end of the world but the two studios are known for such vastly different types of stories that it seemed like an odd fit and the question of whether J.C. Staff could deliver what fans were demanding was opened before the first trailer even dropped.

When you couple that trepidation with promotional videos that do nothing to address the concerns, showing neither the bombastic animation or musical score that characterised the first season, and providing little else in place of it, the concerns and outright derision for an anime that hadn’t even aired yet got a lot louder.

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Throw in an OP that in no way lives up to the original and you have a recipe for disaster before a single minute of actual episode has even played. It is probably telling that actually finding a YouTube version of the new opening is actually kind of hard and then I realised I didn’t want to listen to it anyway. The OP of season 1 however is perfect in every way. From the dramatic visual of Saitama punching the screen to that initial “One Punch!”, it hits the perfect note for hyping you up for the series and the show you are about to watch. The new OP lacks impact in more or less every way. Whether it is visuals or sound it is a poor second at best and for an anime that is largely loved for those elements not spending the time to get them right is certainly a clear way to upset the fan-base.

Then we have the anime itself. Still just focusing on the visuals, we get tweets such as this one that remind us clearly how much better the animation was in season 1.

For a sensationalistic anime that built itself on its aesthetics, those explosive scenes where the sakuga took over and nearly took on a life of their own were key and 8 episodes in to season 2 we’ve nothing that even comes close.

Is the animation in One Punch Man season 2 bad?

No. It is perfectly adequate. And adequate would be fine if we’d never seen season one. Alas, this isn’t a matter of comparing apples and oranges. We aren’t comparing the biggest work of the season to some small project. We’re comparing the first part of the story with the second and the second has been found wanting.

And let’s not even discuss the actual soundtrack within the episodes. See, watching the scene in that tweet, outside of how good it looks is how well the sound contributes to the impact of the scene. This aspect has largely been ignored by season two and while again the sound direction is adequate it also isn’t in any way memorable or noteworthy.

In fact, the only element I’d possibly argue that One Punch Man Season Two is maybe at least on par with season one is the narrative itself and the occasional moments of comedy.

Now, if you read my blog regularly you already know I’m not a big fan of comedy, but I liked the sense of humour in One Punch Man. The repetition of the same central joke got a little tiring but Saitama’s laconic nature and blunt replies as well as the gap between his superhero prowess and his lifestyle was amusing.

Season two actually continues the humour pretty well and I really liked the introduction of King and listening to Metal Bat plan to kill the next person who returned a sushi plate to the train was pretty funny. And Saitama’s entry into the martial arts tournament has had plenty of comedic moments thrown in.

Additionally, the story feels like it has more direction this season with a building threat rather than just seeing Saitama go about his daily business before a large threat comes to the city seemingly out of nowhere.

Is a slightly more plot driven season enough to overcome the disappointments that season two has brought?

Most viewers would apparently say no if the online chatter is to be believed. It isn’t as though they were watching One Punch Man for the plot.

However, I’ll throw this one over to the readers and ask you: “Has season two of One Punch Man been disappointing?”

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