A Princess in Pursuit of Her Hero

Endro - Post Title Image

Endro Episode 5 Review

For all that Endro has been pleasant enough over the opening episodes, this episode drew me right into this story. It isn’t that it does anything particularly unique as it is very much playing on the Princess tropes in introducing a new character, but it is doing it in such a way that it makes this anime really feel like it has its own ideas and a tone it really wants to set.

Endro Episode 5 Princess Rona

Plenty of anime have a Princess who believes she will marry a hero or has a hero and a Princess fall in love. The hero being a female didn’t deter the Princess in the least and that was kind of interesting as the Princess clearly forced her way into Yuusha’s life and then threw an entire festival to raise the status of the hero. While there are some good laughs here it is also clear that this anime isn’t going to blink away from the idea of two characters of the same sex falling in love. It takes this head on.

Endro Episode 5 Princess gushing over hero

And that is admirable in itself but they follow it up with actual character development for the Princess in the same episode. She goes from being infatuated with Yuusha because she is the hero to actually seeing Yuusha as a person and liking her even more. The whole episode is just good fun but it is full of so many little moments that raise questions, make a point, or just stick out as interesting that it is difficult to really talk about the episode without doing a scene by scene break down given the overall plot is Princess shows up and throws festival, hero saves things when they go wrong.

Endro Episode 5 Princess and Mao

I will say that Mao was really good this episode. She’s a character I haven’t really liked previously but her role this week was very well used and the hints the Princess is dropping that she knows who Mao is are interesting as I wonder where they are taking that plot line. All and all, while I haven’t been fully behind this anime, this episode took some excellent steps and getting me drawn in to the story.

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THAT TIME I GOT REINCARNATED AS A SLIME B2 WALL SCROLL: MILIM (RE-RUN)
	THAT TIME I GOT REINCARNATED AS A SLIME B2 WALL SCROLL: MILIM (RE-RUN)

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Are Destiny and Fate Really All Just Written?

Grimms Notes Post Title Image

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Review

I have to wonder if the source material for this, which is apparently a game, if the player gets to decide whether they want to set the stories back on track or let them fall into chaos? Or is it all just mandated that of course these story worlds will endlessly repeat and you have to be apart of maintaining a status quo so that character lives never change beyond what is written on the pages of their books? It is a little sad to think about really and it is probably the one thing that really bothers me about this anime.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Tao

Episode one wasn’t great but it did enough to make me want to watch. Episode two was just kind of there and feels more and more filler like so I’m wondering about its placement. Three and four though give us Ex’s backstory and they did a great job of establishing his character and his personal motive for helping restore Cinderella’s story and really I wish this anime had started here. And yet, despite the character being interesting, the conflict personal and understandable, it does nothing to relieve the overall worry that this story seems to be all about making people play their role, whether they want to or not.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Ex

Sure, we’re only four episodes in and maybe it will get to fleshing out some of these points and ideas and it might even explore them a bit, but so far we’re supposed to be behind the group that come in from outside and essentially force things back onto their predetermined path. For once the crazy villain’s speech about hope and liberation didn’t seem to crazy because I could actually see exactly where he was coming from and at least the characters were offered a choice.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Loki

Then the heroes tune the world and everyone forgets what has happened. Not only is their choice undone but they are robbed even of the memory of anything outside of their books. It’s kind of hard to get behind that.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Shane

Still, in the hope that eventually these ideas will be pursued and explored I’m watching on. These last two episodes were at least a little compelling and far better handled than the opening episode and little bits and pieces about their powers and the like are being revealed each episode. Still, I’m hardly jumping up and down to recommend this one.

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GRIMMS NOTES VISUAL BOOK
	GRIMMS NOTES VISUAL BOOK

The Important Qualities Of An Adventurous Leader

Endro - Post Title Image

Endro Episode 2 Review

As I watch four pastel girls go through the motions of a pyjama party discussing their favourite monsters and what they like about them (though they keep the actual subject hidden for a little bit to make it a punch line) I had to wonder what the appeal of this kind of show was. I get that there are plenty of fans of slice of life and cute girl shows but honestly this scene was actually less fascinating than watching my cat pursue a lizard across the floor of my study (I rescued the lizard, came back and watched the scene again).

Endro Episode 2 Seiran
I’m sure my cat would try.

That doesn’t for a minute make Endro actually a bad show. I can’t really compare it with all that many other cute girl or slice of life shows because normally I don’t really stick with them, but this anime functions just fine, each scene moves along, each character plays their role, it looks good enough and it intersperses action or physical comedy in amongst the talkier scenes to break things up a bit. Everything works but the vast majority of the content doesn’t actually appeal to me as an audience. Still, if I had the choice of watching this episode again or episode 2 of Grimms Notes I’d choose this one in a heart beat. This anime is actually functional as a narrative.

Now there were actually two parts of this episode that did interest me and will keep me watching despite this being well outside of my interest area so far. The first was the leadership decision. Mao, in another insidious plan (provided you find six year olds insidious) to break up the heroes’ party so that they won’t defeat the demon lord in the future declares that each team needs to choose a leader. The girls in the heroes’ party all assumed they were the leader and are shocked to find out they aren’t.

Endro Episode 2 Leader

Here I will give the show some credit. Instead of petty squabbling or attempts to bring other members of the team down, the girls diplomatically choose the mascot character as the leader (truly cute). When that idea gets shot down they each take a turn at being leader and fail abysmally. Because, as the girls realise, they all bring something to the party. Whether it is strength, brains, weirdness, or sheer luck, each of them has their own important qualities that are needed in a leader. The end result, they are all the leader. It’s a cute and novel solution and this was actually the part of the episode I ended up most engaged by.

The other part of the episode that actually made me think this might go somewhere interesting at some point, was that the Demon Lord realises that if things continue they’ll end up repeating the same actions as last time and the heroes will turn back time again and they’ll be stuck in a loop. One problem with this is the sequence the Demon Lord recalls with the girls casting the spell isn’t the same as what we saw in episode 1 so not sure why the discrepancy there. However, this show surprised me yet again by having Mao simply decide she won’t become the Demon Lord and instead she’ll just take it easy.

Endro Episode 2 Mao

Did the villain just take herself out of the picture? Does that mean her petty plots are done?

Endro isn’t really my kind of show and yet I’m still kind of glad Cactus Matt suggested I watch it because there’s been some interesting moments in amongst the fluffy nonsense moments that aren’t my speed. While this might not end up going anywhere with these ideas given it is listed as a slice of life, I can’t deny that some of the ideas are interesting.

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FINAL FANTASY XIII (PLATINUM HITS)
FINAL FANTASY XIII (PLATINUM HITS)

What Happens When a Magical Girl With PTSD Drawn Back Into War?

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Post Title Image

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka Episode 1 Review

There’s been a lot of dark magical girl stories in recent times and we continue to move further and further away from the pink sparkly heroines of the 90’s where danger came in the form of cackling villains and light effects that seldom had any real impact. Though, outside of Madoka, I can’t say I’ve been a fan of most of these stories. Not that I object to dark stories with murderous plots and carnage, but just I find the premise somewhat thin and it is more a case of can we get these characters to kill each other rather than thinking through the why.

I will admit, I didn’t actually expect anything from Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka. I hadn’t watched a PV or read any kind of synopsis I just saw militaristic magical girls on the thumb-nail and figured we’d be getting something along the lines of Strike Witches. Which is probably why this first episode had so much impact. It literally came out of nowhere for me.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Asuka

The big bad magical threat is defeated. Asuka and the magical girls who survived long enough took out the big bad boss and restored peace to the world. We see this pretty much at the start of the episode as we see that this story isn’t kidding with its threats as of the nine magical girl who were working with the military for the operation, four died before ever making it to that final battle. Points to the anime for not showing us each of the deaths of character we didn’t know just for the sake of splashing some magical girl blood about the screen and instead we simply hear one soldier talk about the fact that there are nine girls, we then see five and one of them is holding the dog-tags of those who didn’t make it. Far more affective given we haven’t had time enough to care for anyone in this story.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Magical Girls

Then we transition to a normal high school setting (because this is an anime and of course our heroine is going to transfer into a class). Still, this section of her making friends within the class, her dealing with memories she’d rather not have, slowly opening up and joining a club, is handled well and I actually found myself really hoping that she’d be left alone to live that life (though even before the scarred military guy shows up you know that isn’t going to happen).

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - Asuka being called

Where the anime really shines though is in dealing with Asuka’s clear trauma from the war. She fought a war while in middle-school. Just seeing a mascot character handing out balloons causes disturbing flashes and later we see the fate of her parents (and here we have an anime character without parents where it seems to be more than plot convenience but actually a valid emotional note for the protagonist). These dark and disturbing images, and they are disturbing, are incredibly solid at establishing why Asuka is traumatised, how real the threat was, and that this is not going to be a light and frothy story of a magical girl fighting cackling villains but a world in which the threats are very, very real.

But what are those threats? Given the war is over, though I guess there is still room for another invasion. Turns out humans are more than capable of carnage and misery without the assistance of fluffy invaders from another world. When Asuka’s classmate is caught up in an attempted jail-break, Asuka is forced back onto the scene.

Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka - New battlefield

It’s a solid first episode and one that has me wanting to know where they’ll go next. This one has a lot of potential and hopefully it knows how to use it.

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THE PICTORIAL BOOK OF WITCHES AND MAGICAL GIRLS
THE PICTORIAL BOOK OF WITCHES AND MAGICAL GIRLS

Give In To Your Hate – Embrace The Darkness

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode Review Title Image

Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary Episode 11 Review

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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Play Asia Exclusive

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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A Certain Magical Index Rubber Strap Collection Box
A Certain Magical Index Rubber Strap Collection Box

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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Rubber PlayMat Collection “To Aru Majutsu no Index III” Ver. A
A Certain Magical Index Rubber Playmat