Give In To Your Hate – Embrace The Darkness

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode Review Title Image

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 11 Review

Reminder: the poll is now open for you to vote on the best and worst anime of the 2018 Autumn Anime Season. Be sure to jump in and have your say.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary has been heading for a tragic end for awhile and right now it is kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion. The Empress is in a state of emotional turmoil after sentencing Ning to water torture last week (and Ning has fully gone off the deep end after experiencing said water torture). All this has done is emboldened the Empress’ enemies and they are now moving far more openly against her.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 11 the Empress

Meanwhile, Zhao has thrown himself fully into his work. Last week though I made the comment that he was doing nothing about Ning and apparently that is untrue. He’s been sending petitions to the Empress to receive her pardon. Petitions the Empress hasn’t been reading. Way to be a great friend and all. Still, there’s a massive construct to complete before the series end because if it doesn’t even get finished it will be the sub-plot that’s gone nowhere and I’d have to wonder what the point was.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 11 Zhao

Also meanwhile, Yin has finally accepted joining the rebel family and now has more brothers and sisters. She’s still totally brooding about Ning though. Good thing this anime isn’t in to making us wait as Ning returns, insane and powered up, ready to fight her sister to the death.

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 11 Ning fights Yin

At this point the battle between the rebels and the empire is almost superfluous to the central characters’ personal dramas. One thing is for sure, Ning has definitely misplaced all of her anger onto her sister and it doesn’t look like she’s coming back from that any time soon.

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Karandi James
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Exposition On A Plane With Index And The Terrorist

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode Review Title Image

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 10 Review

There are fewer things sadder than falling out of love with a franchise but I just have to admit that is where I am with A Certain Magical Index. I’ve put the final decision off until episode 13, but I’m almost certain this one is a drop. What is making it worse though, is that this season is making me really question why I actually even liked this show in the first place.

To go through the issues of this episode would take too long, so let’s just look at the moments that really illustrate why A Certain Magical Index season 3 is failing to really engage. 

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 10

Firstly, we have an encounter between Misaka and Touma at the oh-so-familiar vending machine. That seems great and all. Misaka’s a great character and the vending machine is a staple set piece in the anime at this point. However, what was this scene doing? Really? Other than hoping fans would squee with delight over seeing Misaka was there anything happening in that sequence? Touma asked Misaka not to tell anyone about his amnesia? There were quicker and more logical ways to get to that point. Was it the comedy that was supposed to land as Misaka blushes and actually feeds coins into the vending machine? Because that was most definitely a swing and a miss as the anime continues to undervalue its female characters.

Then we get the scene in Touma’s apartment where he gets the call telling him he needs to go to England. The joke where Touma asks Tsuchimikado to make it quick and so no further information was given before hanging up was actually pretty amusing, so even though from a plot point of view it is maddening because we’re having a scene change for no explained reason, it kind of worked. What doesn’t is that right after that the window is broken as a smoke grenade is lobbed in to the apartment and both Touma and Index are knocked unconscious. 

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 10

That could work if they woke up all surprised by where they are, but instead, through flash backs, we find out they went to the airport, rejected the plane that was organised for them, and took a regular flight to England. So why even knock them out? Could the writer not figure out how to end the scene? 

Then we are finally subjected to terrorists on a plane. Index, we’ve seen terrorists on planes before. So many times. You have to at least be vaguely competent in this one because what you’ve delivered this week is half-hearted at best and what should actually be an interesting transition sequence from one city to the next turns into yet another mangled mess. About the only positive is that Stiyl shows up, in another plane for some reason, and throws some magic around. And again, unless they are just hoping that the mere presence of a character cooler than Touma makes the audience jump in delight there really isn’t anything to this scene.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 10

So positives are few and far between and negatives are overwhelming. This episode isn’t alone in this though as Index has gradually worn away any leeway I was willing to give a franchise I genuinely liked. I’m now at the point where I just have to wonder why they even continue to churn this out.

Then I realise, I’m still watching it. As are a lot of people. So either other people like it more than I do, or we’re all just continuing to keep up the popularity of an anime that really should just fade away. One thing I do know, A Certain Magical Index is falling flat for me right now and while I’m committed until episode 13, I’m almost certain to drop it after that. 

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Karandi James
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That Moment You Know The Magic is Gone

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode Review Title Image

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 9 Review

Let’s be real, I haven’t been overly thrilled by the return of A Certain Magical Index at all this season. The first arc was mostly nonsense that even on going back to season two it is still fairly hard to figure out what was going on or why. The second arc ditched the protagonist altogether. Now we’re in this third arc and the glaring issues with this narrative are becoming almost impossible to ignore. It isn’t a case of being fun anymore surrounded by exposition dumps. It is now a case of tired attempts to recapture something of the spirit that drew people to the show being crammed in amongst nonsensical dialogue just to ensure the audience hasn’t cracked their nose on the keyboard when the dozed off.

Alright, that was pretty harsh and actually not true.

At heart the lightning, the movement lines, the cheesily delivered lines mid-fight all still actually work for me, but – and this is a huge but – now these feel like inserted filler to a narrative about characters I don’t care about in a world that has become increasingly random.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 9 Kanzaki

Maybe it is all a byproduct of the long gap between seasons. Maybe it is a result of my being much older now and less easily impressed with shiny, pretty things (who am I kidding, I love shiny pretty, things), but I just know that I almost forgot this even came out yesterday and when I did watch it I found myself really just kind of nodding along to the expected beats.

Kanzaki turned up as the last minute hero of last episode and lasted less than five minutes before she was coughing up blood. I’ll admit, they were a cool five minutes. Actually, I’ll fix that. There was about a cool minute in those five minutes of actual fight, meanwhile the two saints prattled various bits of nonsense at one another that I guess passes for plot or exposition at this point but honestly, who could care.

Then we have Acqua more or less pounding Kanzaki while pointing out how stupid she is and her church for even fighting if they are that weak, blah, blah, blah… More big hits, more property damage, where the hell is anyone from Academy City while the churches are fighting it out destroying entire levels? Nope, no answer to that one.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 9 Kanzaki

And then there’s the revelation. Team work. Kanzaki calls on all the glorified extras who were beaten down in last week’s bit of filler and they all jump down an entire level and then proceed to more or less just stand totally still while Kanzaki and Itsuwa try a repeat of the saint spell they used last week and they still would have lost except that Touma manages to arrive, at that precise moment, in the middle of the battlefield and blocks Acqua’s attack with his hand.

Wow.

While watching this, it occurred to me, that not even the shiny, pretty action is that shiny anymore. During that final strike we didn’t get to see the characters in relation to one another once. We had close up of Kanzaki, close up of Itsuwa, close up of Acqua, one very brief panning shot of the scene that didn’t even make it down to Touma, and then back to close ups. There was no chance to get a sense of what was actually happening and all the characters had more or less identical pained looks on their faces so if they were going for revealing emotions, they kind of failed.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 9 Touma and Itsuwa

I’m giving this one to episode 12. At that point, I’m almost positive I am done. It is going to need to do something pretty spectacular in the next three episodes though because to be honest, this was just bad.

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Karandi James
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Watch the Slime Playing With Powers and Defeating Ogres

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode Review Title Image

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 9 Review

Rimuru had something of a touching moment at the start of this episode where we saw him looking eye to eye with the mask Shizu left. For a character that existed for only a couple of episodes, she’s left an impact on both the Rimuru and the audience and her presence is palpable throughout the episode as Rimuru’s human form does mimic hers in a lot of ways and he’s also acquired her powers. 

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 9 Rimuru

Still, despite doing a decent job on the passing of a character last week and beginning with remembering her we quickly turn to some comedy that will either have you smiling or groaning depending as Rimuru plays with the body double skill and first ageing and then playing with the sex of his human form. Fortunately this is a brief moment of comedy before we get on with more important things (though still kind of cool if you think about future possibilities it has to be able to change the appearance of your clone).

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 9 Rimuru in human form

I enjoyed Rimuru returning to the cave where Veldora was to play with his new powers. It kind of gave it a sense of importance and also reminded the audience about Veldora (who at this stage is pretty easy to forget). But, this episode did want to move things along and so we have a party of hunting goblins being attacked by ogres. However, things aren’t as they seem as the ogres are only attacking because their village was attacked.

Going to be honest, this one is a pretty transparent as to where this is going.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 9 Ogres

By the end of the episode Rimuru in his own weird way has won them over and they all go for a feast. Which is probably a sound way to end anything really. Still, like many things in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime it all felt a little too unearned. Largely though, this remains a pretty fun viewing experience and it has built nicely upon its foundations even if at times it feels a little shallow.

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Karandi James
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A Fight Between Saints Should Be Exciting, Right?

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode Review Title Image

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 8 Review

Part of me wonders if maybe I’ve just outgrown this series? Looking at this episode from a distance it should be really exciting. We’ve got a whole pile of characters from the church gathering themselves together to take on a saint. It’s a dramatic fight, the music is pumping and we move through multiple set-pieces leaving destruction in their wake. Their inevitable defeat isn’t a problem because they aren’t the protagonists, not even close. 

A Certain Magical Index Episode 8

Yet, as I watched episode 8 of A Certain Magical Index, I couldn’t help but find myself wondering why I was supposed to care. 

Touma is in the hospital after being severely injured and then thrown of the bridge last week and the saint gave him one day to hand over his arm. The fight now isn’t doing anything. A day hasn’t passed, Touma isn’t even awake, it is all just filling screen time. Perhaps if I thought there was any chance they might have resolved the situation prior to Touma waking up their might have been some point to it, but all and all it just seems like an excuse to throw around more terminology and jargon and have a ‘cool’ fight sequence.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 8

This impression isn’t helped with the arrival of Kanzaki after the B Team are definitely taken out despite Itsuwa getting all fired up. Kanzaki was a cool character back in season one but she just kind of shows up now, broods a bit, occasionally does something cool with her sword, and then Touma will show up to save the day. And while I get they were trying to show that Kanzaki is a part of her group, using more or less the same sequence of attacks that we just watched against the enemy but faster and more powerful isn’t all that interesting.

A Certain Magical Index Season 3 Episode 8

Then of course the whole thing is proven to be pointless by the post credits scene where Touma wakes up and instead of sensibly resting in his hospital bed off he goes to join the fight leaving the conveniently sleeping Index oblivious to the plot as normal. 

Yeah, I really don’t know why I’m watching season three of this. The issues with the plot and characters just get more and more pronounced with every passing episode.

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Karandi James
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Goblin Slayer Volume 3 Light Novel Review: It’s A Date, And Goblins

The Harvest Festival is on its way and all the female adventurers and friends suddenly have one thing on their mind. Too bad Goblin Slayer only ever has one thing on his mind – killing goblins.

Previous Reviews

Review:

Of the three volumes I’ve read so far, this one is probably the weakest. And that’s because instead of feeling like we were on some epic adventure (albeit to fight goblins), this one genuinely felt like we were reading a harem based light novel with a wishy-washy protagonist, girls who have no purpose outside of their pursuit of him, and ultimately a conflict that felt like it was thrown in at the end for the sake of having a final fight. And while none of that makes this a terrible read, it certainly wasn’t as compelling as previous entries.

However, the positive would be that Goblin Slayer is given more time to become a bit more humanised in this volume. He’s still the enigma and still has complete tunnel vision for goblin killing, but his interactions with the rest of the cast help to paint a broader picture of his overall personality when removed from blowing up goblin nests. Priestess also comes out of this volume looking reasonably good with her being able to showcase how far she’s grown since the opening of volume 1 where she was the scared little girl in need of rescue.

Goblin Slayer Vol3b

Unfortunately, the rest of the cast, whether it is Guild Girl, Female Knight, Cow Girl, High Elf Archer or Witch, they all just come off looking pretty vapid and silly as they scurry about trying to attract this or that guy’s interest at the festival. Then again, it isn’t as though Dwarf Shaman or Lizard Priest come off any better. While they aren’t trying to attract a partner they seem to spend almost two thirds of the book doing nothing but taking part in various eating and drinking activities.

And that’s more or less the whole problem. Even though Goblin Slayer is preparing for something from the beginning, it is easily dismissed as his usual eccentric paranoia and doesn’t really count as foreshadowing. The disgruntled adventurer is an obvious flag early on, but it doesn’t amount to very much. So by the time things start happening and the much needed goblins arrive (needed because how can he be Goblin Slayer if there are no goblins), the reader is more or less suffering from festival fatigue and it is almost a relief to see the town plunged into danger.

The danger itself though never feels all that real. Unlike in the previous volumes where the Goblins attacked either a farm that was pretty remote or were underground, here they attack a town. There’s very little reason why our plucky adventurers seem to be fighting without back-up given how many adventurers are in the town (and I don’t care how drunk they claim they might be after the festival), and yet the book insists on having the core group take on much larger numbers by themselves. While it is an excellent showcase of their abilities, it kind of pushes plausibility and after a fairly dull set-up it isn’t really much of a payoff.

So I left this volume with mixed feelings because there are some great character moments here for Goblin Slayer and Priestess and the final fight is actually kind of exciting even if it makes little sense in context, but there’s just too much down time here and too many female characters being too cliche female character from a light novel. I’m hoping the next volume picks back up because if this is an ongoing trend with this series I may very well let this one go and that would be a shame. It has been a lot of fun up until this point.


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Karandi James

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Goblin Slayer Volume 2 Light Novel Review: It’s Always Goblins

Goblin Slayer has quite the reputation now and in this volume he’s answering a quest request from the Sword Maiden herself, a Gold-ranked adventurer who apparently fought a Demon Lord.

My review of Volume 1 can be found here.

Review:

While this second volume doesn’t quite have the drawing power of the first, it is a very decent follow up. There is an understanding that while the protagonist is cool and all, he can’t carry the story alone, and so a lot of energy has been put into the support cast. And even while many of these characters do come off a little too one-note at times, they are all quite interesting notes and the interactions between them are always kind of fun.

The reason this novel works so well is that the readers have a soft spot for this cast. We’ve watched them come together and fight off a horde of goblins with a lot of risk and very little reward. We like these characters already and we don’t want them to die. So when the story plunges them headlong into danger there’s an instant hook to make us keep reading. Because even though I know there are plenty of novels to come and therefore it is very unlikely that the main cast are going to die here, abandoning the story when they were still stranded in a sewer never really crossed my mind as a viable option.

Goblin Slayer Vol2b

If I had to complain about any character in this particular volume, it would be the Sword Maiden. I’m not really sure what they were going for. At times she seems super seductive, at others she’s the fragile and damaged adventurer, and others still she just does not seem like she’s a real character. And given she’s the catalyst for the adventure in this volume that’s probably the book’s weakest link.

However, once the quest is accepted and the characters are on their way through the tunnels and facing some fairly hairy situations, using arrows, swords, slings, magic, and whatever else is handy to survive the next encounter, the story moves along beautifully. There’s some fairly tense moments in the darkness and as the characters do come under heavy fire and several of them do sustain some fairly heavy injuries considering they are the main party – a feat the book only gets away with because there’s magic around so ultimately they manage to get the cast back on their feet before the final act.

Basically, if you enjoyed the first story, and you are up for another adventure fighting off a horde of goblins who may have learned a couple of new tricks, then this story will work for you. The writing style remains much the same and is quite enjoyable, the characters are still pretty fun, and the fight sequences manage to be exciting without getting too hectic. I had a lot of fun with this second volume and I’ll be reviewing volume 3 very soon.


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Karandi James

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