Why Emma’s Lack of Compromise Is Both Foolish and Brilliant

The Promised Neverland post title image

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 Review

After one of the best premiere episodes I’ve seen in a long time, episode 2 of The Promised Neverland had a lot to live up to, and while I can’t say it 100% did, it was still a very solid episode that has definitely moved the plot and characters along nicely while still managing to ooze atmosphere and tension. The majority of the episode focuses on Norman and Emma considering how they are going to escape as Mother gives a few indications that she’s got her eye on them and messes with their heads a little, before Ray joins the two in their plans. It doesn’t sound all that exciting but much like with episode 1 it is all about the execution. (Some spoilers below.)

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 Mother finds a kid.

However, this is where I did pick a few faults this week. Where episode one had the consistent clock motif throughout the episode, and that is still present in episode 2, a lot of the visual effects this week seem a little disjointed or don’t seem to quite hit the mark. Notably early in the episode where Emma is sitting up in her bed and we seem to be looking at her from the clock’s perspective and the scene sways back and forth like a pendulum. It is kind of clear they are trying to show us how unsettled she is and how unstable things are and yet mostly I just felt queasy and like the scene went on too long. It didn’t pack enough emotional impact for the time it took.

The second effect that I had to look at a couple of times and still didn’t really click with was when Mother and the other children walk past Norman and Emma back into the house and they are trailed by after images. I’m not entirely sure what tone this was supposed to hit but it was another moment where it didn’t draw me into the scene but rather pushed me out of the moment and had me puzzling why they went with that effect rather than following the characters and the scene.

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman and Emma

Though, with the exception of those sequences, I really liked how this episode was put together. Again we have some very interesting angles used on the characters to show their emotions and relative power, there’s a lot of thought put into the music and sound, and mostly the pacing works exceptionally well at making you feel uncomfortable and waiting for the next moment and then lingers just that little bit longer before moving on.

For me, Emma was the real champion of this episode. Not so much because I like her as a character. She’s pretty generic in terms of the big sister character who wants to be cheerful and protect her family. I like her more because of what she has done for the plot.

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman and Emma

Because of Emma and her shock and inability to just act like nothing happened, Mother seems suspicious of Emma and Norman. This is the first factor that escalates tension in this episode and ensures we are very carefully watching Mother all throughout the episode to see if she actually knows or is just suspicious. If Norman alone had been the one to find out about Conny, there’d be nothing happening in a lot of these scenes because he’s beautifully playing the role of someone who has no knowledge.

Also, the escape plan that Emma and Norman are cooking up involves saving everyone. All of the children. As Ray points out when he is included in the conversation, that’s stupid. It is nearly impossible and even if they all escape how will they survive afterwards. And honestly, Emma, Norman and Ray believably could escape in a couple of days after snooping around some. But then, where would the excitement be?

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman, Ray and Emma

No, Emma puts her foot down hard and insists everyone is going to escape. She won’t sacrifice anyone. And Norman sides with Emma because despite being super-logical, he likes Emma and he’s 12. Emma’s decision and her lack of consideration for any compromise, turns what is already a steep task into one that might be insurmountable.

For other shows wanting to raise emotional and narrative stakes, take notes from The Promised Neverland. You don’t have to randomly and gruesomely kill off your cast to make things seem more dangerous. Yes, this anime did kill a character in episode one to establish the overall stakes, but without a single drop of blood being shed, episode 2 managed to build on that drama and craft a compelling path for the story to take. I am very much looking forward to where this story goes from here.

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Karandi James
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The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1
The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1

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Disorderly and Dull, Perhaps The Worst Things For A Story To Be

Boogiepop wa Warawanai post title image

When a writer chooses to tell a story out of sequence there really should be some kind of reason other than there was an absence of any other narrative hook. Despite the desperate attempt to grab the audience through narrative devices, Boogiepop has fallen pretty flat with its first arc.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 3
Yes, we get that, but have you considered making it something interesting?

And I don’t say that to suggest that writers shouldn’t play with narrative structure or that a story told out of sequence can’t be entertaining. But essentially, Boogiepop wa Warawanai has so far confused and bored it’s audience, started to become clearer and introduce some intrigue, before showing its hand and wrapping things up in a neat little bow. All this begs the question was whether or not the story would have been equally as ineffectual if it had been told in order?

Boogiepop wa Warawanai episode 3
We have a man-eating monster on the loose and a potential alien and the story is still this dull. How did you manage it, Boogiepop?

Even leaving aside the plot, after three episodes we have zero characters to really get behind or that we know anything of significance about, the atmosphere is pretty placid though I guess maybe they are going for a still and mysterious tone (missing it if that is what they are going for), and they wrapped up the only mystery they’d presented worth caring about because the over-arching who or what is Boogiepop doesn’t really interest me. And why should it? They’ve done nothing to make me think that it will be a significant reveal.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 3
I wonder how many people will watch the next episode?

By the end of next week I’ll have decided my watch list for the season (though it does move a little after that), and at this point I can’t say that Boogiepop wa Warawanai will be on it. It’s done too little to interest me and it isn’t even something that will be fun to pull apart each week and complain about. Mostly because it is committing the worst of story crimes: it’s boring.

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Karandi James
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Boogiepop Omnibus Vol. 1-3 (Light Novel)
Boogiepop Omnibus Vol. 1-3 (Light Novel)

The Promised Neverland’s First Episode Promises Much, Will It Deliver?

The Promised Neverland post title image

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Review

I kind of wanted to go with a Peter Pan reference for the title. Something along the lines of, “These kids really won’t grow up,” but it seemed a little bit facetious particularly as I’m going in blind to this series. While I did buy the first volume of the manga it is currently sitting in my reading backlog though after this first episode I’m kind of desperate to go devour it because while I know not everything is out yet this season, but this anime is kind of the one I’m most excited about right now.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Emma and friends

There was a lot of hype in the pre-season about The Promised Neverland, but after the snore-fest that Angels of Death turned out to be I have definitely become better at filtering out pre-season chatter. I went in to this episode expecting very little and instead found a well directed, well structured, and beautifully paced premiere that instantly drew me into this story and these characters. Every single scene feels meaningfully thought out and nothing takes up more screen time then it should. The establishment of the happy orphanage with the understanding that things are not what they seem is beautifully portrayed and while you may not know what the actual reveal is going to be, you have a fair idea of Conny’s fate.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Conny

See, this isn’t relying on shock factor. It isn’t relying on a jump scares. It is genuinely building up a world where things are genuinely horrific for the characters and while the audience is let in on the wrongness of the world through a myriad of visual cues, we discover exactly what that wrongness is at the same time as the characters in a sequence that manages to make our protagonists look as small and vulnerable as they actually are in this world.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Emma and Norman

While I won’t deny things might go south for this series, the first episode was a fantastic introduction to this world. It revealed enough to make it feel purposeful while giving us a million questions. At the same time, it has given me the confidence to believe the answers to those questions are going to be explored.

I will definitely be watching this one. For an anime title tagged with horror, this one comes across as fairly smart and so far has been incredibly engaging, and I will admit I am far more intrigued by the sci-fi aspect after the second half of the episode. All and all, this one has hooked me and I am hungry for more.

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Karandi James
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HAIKARAWALKER BY SPLATOON 2
HAIKARAWALKER BY SPLATOON 2

Boogiepop Begins To Reveal Its Secrets

Boogiepop wa Warawanai post title image

Boogiepop wa Warawania Episode 2 Review

I said in my episode 1 review that delaying reveals can payoff if you keep the audience interested enough, and Boogiepop seems to want to keep us relatively interested. While more mysteries come into being in episode 2 with discussion now of shady government organisations and aliens we get a different perspective on some of the events that intersected with episode 1 to fill in some of the details and it creates an intriguing mix of information and questions.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 2

None of that has really helped this along visually and the pacing within episode 2 is still pretty languid. This anime is in no rush to reveal, show its hand, or even move on to the next scene as it lingers over conversations and cups of tea. That isn’t to say nothing is happening, it is just taking its time and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a mystery.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 2

While I’m still not 100% sold on this one, the premise is interesting enough, some of the characters this week started to actually have some character (actually I’m not sure why this couldn’t have been episode one with a few minor additions), and the story seems to be taking shape. Hopefully another episode or two and I’ll be caught up in this one.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 2

There’s been quite a bit of chatter about the original anime which apparently aired back in 2000. Maybe at some point I’ll look for it but for now I’m pretty happy to see how this one goes.

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Karandi James
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Boogiepop Phantom Big Key Chain Suema Kazuko
Boogiepop Phantom Big Key Chain Suema Kazuko

Leaving the Audience On The Outside in Boogiepop

Boogiepop wa Warawanai post title image

Boogiepop Wa Warawanai Episode 1 Review

I am aware that this anime has some history and that some people will be fairly familiar with the subject matter here. I’m not one of them. I’d never heard of this one until the promotional materials for the Winter season started floating around and even then I only kind of paid it a vague kind of attention. As such, I went in fairly cold though the tags of psychological and mystery seemed like it might be something I’d really enjoy.

Boogiepop Wa Warawanai Episode 1

It is hard to judge an anime, any anime, on its first episode alone but honestly the best description I can think of for this first episode is ‘sedate’. We meander about watching a few interactions between characters, some rumours and whispers, and hear about missing girls and monsters, and then it is all over and Boogiepop leaves. We don’t really know how or why it resolved other than it did and it seems like things aren’t actually resolved at all.

There’s a strategy at play here and anyone new to the material will be wondering now just where this is going. There’s certainly lots of intriguing questions about the mystery, about Boogiepop, and even just about the ‘normal’ characters we’ve encountered.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 1 Boogiepop

The question is whether or not this episode succeeded in being interesting enough to make the audience care about pursuing those questions. Realistically, that’s borderline for me. The opening song was pretty average to dull (though it might grow on me), the animation and character designs are also pretty average. So far none of the characters have particularly grabbed my interest, not even the cloak and hat wearing Boogiepop and I don’t think I can recall a single other character name.

I’m going to give this one a bit more time because it does feel like this might go somewhere and it’s listed genres are ones I usually enjoy. Still, if there isn’t a noticeable pick up in the next couple of episodes or something that really hooks me I’ll probably leave this one.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 1

I’d love to know your thoughts about this first episode. Did you enjoy it? Did you find it a bit slow? Leave us a comment below.

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Karandi James
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Boogiepop Phantom Big Key Chain – Boogiepop
Boogiepop Phantom Big Key Chain Boogiepop

Erased Series Review: Weak Mystery, Great Character Drama

Erased Title Image

This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in August 2016 and can be found here.

I first watched Erased when it aired and it was an anime everyone was talking about. Being apart of the conversation was fantastic particularly as it was a bit of a mystery so we all got to sit around on social media speculating about where it was going. That said, there was a lot of hype going on at the time and there was also a wave of enthusiasm around it. 

Going to be honest, I loved this anime then and I still really like it now. But it was an anime that benefited from going in cold, having to wait each week and being able to mull over what you’d learned and where it might be going and to engage in those conversations, and it also just benefited from the community behind it. In the absence of those things, Erased ends up being good enough, and still tells a fairly good story with interesting characters, but a lot of the ‘magic’ is kind of gone. The live action series is fairly solid as well though if you’d like to try the story again but a little bit differently (apparently it follows the manga closer or something like that).

Live Action - Erased

Though, it is a mystery anime which makes any kind of review hard. Particularly a re-visited review. There’s only so much you can say without giving the game away, particularly in a mystery like this one where it already seems pretty easy to figure out where things are going. Ultimately, mystery is a poor label to give this one. While technically the main character is playing ‘Whodunit’ the audience can figure it out far too easily and while the reveal is still very worth the price of admission, if that was all there was to Erased it would be a fairly easy to dismiss.

Erased

The plot however works well. The tie-in of the mystery with Satoru’s ability of revival is well managed and while they don’t explain the phenomenon, it almost doesn’t need to be. It is established that he can and does jump back in time and they use it appropriately as a vehicle to keep the story moving. Any explanation would have been pretty silly anyway so passing on that and just letting it go was actually the better option. And it does allow for a compelling story with a villain returning after a considerable length of time and seeing adult and child Satoru attempt to overcome his schemes with limited knowledge and at first few allies.

I’m not changing this next paragraph because I stand by it entirely from the original review.

“With Erased, it is the characters who sell the show. And even then you couldn’t point to anyone character and say that character is amazing. A lot of people liked Satoru’s mum but I found her one of the least interesting characters because she really didn’t seem like a realistic mother and was more a plot device that existed only to Satoru the advice he needed when he needed it, cause him distress with her death in the original timeline, and filled in any parts of the plot that you really couldn’t expect a child to succeed at overcoming. The friends Satoru has as a child are also a little off and at times serve no purpose. The first potential child victim is interesting but not overly believable as a character. However all of these characters complement each other perfectly and create a show that has a lot of heart and at times emotional depth. Even if they don’t shut up and like to endlessly articulate things that really don’t need to be said.”

Erased

Erased is a fun story. It isn’t an edge of your seat thriller but it will get you caught up in the mystery even after you figure it out and the characters will warm your heart. The OP is amazing so be sure to listen to it, and some of the visuals are really beautiful. Ultimately, Erased is an anime where lots of small details and moments add up to something that feels great to watch even though there are some issues with pacing, the ability to believe the plot, and the overall mystery falls a little short. Still, two years on I would still firmly recommend this anime for those who have never seen it.

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Karandi James
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Sore wa Chiisana Hikari no Yona [w/ DVD, Limited Pressing]
Sore wa Chiisana Hikari no Yona [w/ DVD, Limited Pressing]

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 12: And Now We Wait Until Next Year

Attack on Titan Season Three Episode 12 - Erwin and Levi

Well, once I found out this season was going to be split in two, any hope for an actual resolution of any sort this time around when out the window so I guess I’m not actually disappointed. And despite last week being a bit of a snooze fest and this week just plunging us into a cliff-hanger with a during end-credits tease, season three has still become my favourite Attack on Titan season yet, though I’ll get more into that when I do a whole season (half-season?) review.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 12 - Hange

This week we get the higher ups talking some more and recapping things for us so that we know where we’re going next and why. Other than the over use of brown in this scene it works well enough and at least we’re clearly set on a course of action for now. That’s probably the best thing they did. Even with the gap between now and April next year when part 2 is supposed to come out, this episode gives us a clear direction which is something the end of season one and two lacked.

Attack on Titan Season Three Episode 12 - Eerwin

We get an interesting scene between Erwin and Levi that might have more significance and people who have read the manga probably know what that is but for me I’ll just file that under interesting and wait until the show chooses to maybe get back to it.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 12 - Sasha

However, it was the second part of the episode that really got things going as we saw Sasha at her food craziest yet before Jean and Eren get into a ridiculous fight. It was kind of nice to see a little life in Eren even if he very nearly reverted into shouting idiot Eren. I think they played this nicely with him trying to have a bit of energy but inside he’s still kind of broken. Plus, we then got a Mikasa, Armin and Eren moment that was kind of adorable and brought us back to where these three started (as the OP has been all season) and it was just kind of nice to see this again even if it felt like tragic death flags were being raised all around (or maybe that’s just me because I’m used to this show doing that to us).

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 12 - Jean and Eren

So yes, this episode works and as a mid-season point it is pretty solid. As the last episode we’re going to see this year I just have to shake my head and remind myself it is Attack on Titan. This isn’t the worst thing they’ve ever done to viewers.

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Karandi James

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ATTACK ON TITAN ANTHOLOGY (ENGLISH) HARDCOVER