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 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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Midnight Occult Civil Servants Review Episode 9

I Didn’t See That Coming

Midnight occult Civil Servants Episode 9

Midnight Occult Civil Servants Episode 9

After the light midnight stroll we had last week, this episode of Midnight Occult Civil Servants was a slap across the faces folded by a glass of freezing water tossed over our heads. And while there were certainly hints early in the episode that it was going to get a little darker the twist at the end actually did catch me off guard because I just didn’t believe this anime was going to go there.

Arata - Midnight Occult Civil Servants

As usual the episode begins with a new case to deal with and we see the team doing the usual office things before Arata gets assigned to go and look into a situation where a child has gone to sleep and won’t wake up. After Arata’s on his way we learn from Kyoichi and Theo that there have been cases like this one before so they suspect Arata can handle in. Then there’s a weird moment where Arata gets sent to work with the government office. This would have made more sense early in the episode before he picked up the case but it seems to just kind of get thrown in.

However, right from meeting the two guys Arata is now working with, you kind of know things aren’t going to go well. There’s a guy with a scar on his eye-brow who seems to have an intense hatred of the Anothers and you can see the ideological clash that’s coming even if not the consequences.

The actual hunt for the Another goes much smoother than normal. They talk to the brother of the most recent victim and find out the location the kids were dreaming of and off they go. It does strike me as weird that the mother wasn’t present during this interview but that’s a minor detail.

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I’m just going to say, the Another they find this week is really cute. Arata plays a game of tag with it, has a bit of a chat and more or less resolves the issue. Then get prepared for the slap in the face as that government guy you just knew was a problem takes matters into his own hands. The idea of who is more monstrous, monsters or humans, isn’t exactly a new one for supernatural stories to delve into however I was shocked by the callous cruelty on this one.

Mostly it makes me very curious as to what the last couple of episodes will bring for Midnight Occult Civil Servants as there’s plenty of fodder to dig into here but will it do it justice?

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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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Midnight Occult Civil Servants Review Episode 8

A Supernatural Stroll Through Tokyo

Episode 8

There was something pleasantly subdued about the episode this week. After the attempted rising tension last week that kind of fizzled, Midnight Occult Civil Servants could have pushed for an escalation but instead decided to focus on kind of what the title of the anime implies: the day to day of civil servants. As such, while there are some interesting moments to be found in this episode it really is just a series of events in the days following the last episode.

We begin with some housekeeping as Kyoichi files paper work for his sister given she’s suddenly reappeared after many years and she’s still 17 years old. We also see Arata and Kyoichi take their sister and friend shopping for clothing. It is all just mundane stuff and yet adds a little bit of realism to the scenario presented here with employees watching over encounters with Anothers.

They also confirm that Arata is Seimei’s descendant, although I kind of thought that was already pretty obvious. While it seems like just something else thrown in early on the end of the episode circles back to this with Kohaku (Huehuecoyotl) leading Arata on a tor of Tokyo that ultimately ends in a garden that clearly belonged to his ancestor.

Throw in an encounter with a crow who also knew Seimei as well as the ongoing disturbances caused by Kohaku’s presence creating yet more work for Arata’s co-workers as he unknowingly follows Kohaku across half of Tokyo, and the episode is complete with very little actually happening and yet this episode still felt like it has a place as it builds on the relationship forming between Kohaku and Arata, continues to look at Arata’s connection with Anothers, and continues to examine the role of the civil servants in all this.

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Where the episode is at its weakest is in the visuals. The walk around Tokyo takes us to some very familiar sites but the visuals just aren’t up to the task. It may have been worth have less locations and more detail, or possibly just hoping for a bigger budget for this anime altogether, but basically the visuals are a noted low-point and make this one a harder sell than it should be.

We do however get the occasionally striking image such as Kohaku in the garden.

On that note, I love the opening song to this anime but the visuals are utterly failing to live up to the music and would love it is someone had done an AMV to this one because it could be aweseome.

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Afterlost Review Episode 5

Is It Padding Or Set-Up? Time Will Tell.

Episode 5

No bread.

Okay, no bread yet. Still just crumbs and pieces of ideas that might come together.

Afterlost shifts its focus this week to the magician we saw briefly earlier and a criminal group that are stealing artefacts that may have his brother in them and somehow or another Takuya and crew get talked/coerced into going to the scene of what should be their next heist to… I’m not sure. Reunite the brothers?

Of course it isn’t that easy with Souma showing up and essentially being a bit of a jerk and then we’re left for the set-up of another round of Souma versus Yuki where we know she is stronger but not all that in control, plus she doesn’t want to hurt her brother, and where he’s just a bit crazy and will probably do more or less anything for reasons that are yet to be made clear.

I’m in two minds about this at this point. I had fun watching the episode but then I’m left wondering what happened to the whole needing to get to Lost thing. It feels like the characters just abandoned that idea. I’ll admit, they had good reason to rethink the plan, but it doesn’t seem like they’ve bothered to give us a clear sense of what their plan B is. How episode 5 ties in with Yuki finding her father or finding out what happened with Lost is really not outlined or even hinted at and ultimately it just kind of feels like a filler complication with additional characters to flesh things out and distract. Then again, perhaps there is a link and we just haven’t got there yet.

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Really, Afterlost works well enough but it is still all riding on whether or not this story pulls itself together or whether it ends up just a convoluted mess with padding. I’m hoping it comes together but I’ve been disappointed before so I’ll hold off on making any judgements until I get a clearer picture of what this one wants to become.

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Midnight Occult Civil Servants Review Episode 7

A lot of build up but no climax.

On a separate note – always bribe fairies with sugar. It apparently works.

Episode 7

The conclusion to this two parter wasn’t a disappointment, but it didn’t really seem to do as much as it could. Midnight Occult Civil Servants builds up to a confrontation that ultimately doesn’t exist and while we get some interesting moments along the way it really felt a bit anti-climatic.

On the positive side, Arata, Kyoichi and Seo get some moments early in the episode to clarify their current positions. Previously these three characters, despite being on the same team, have felt very disparate in their goals and approaches to things so it was nice to see them hashing out their current views and motives as it really felt for once like they were actually a team.

We also got some great moments with Huehuecoyotl as they taunt the team even while congratulating them on narrowing down their search. As they proceed toward ‘hell’ Huehuecoyotl makes their role as a trickster and someone just trying to alleviate boredom clear. Normally this kind of character would annoy me but I find Huehuecoyotl fairly entertaining so far.

That said, despite wanting to play with Arata, Huehuecoyotl certainly isn’t about to let him get eaten and I’m not sure how powerful Huehuecoyotl actually is but the other Another didn’t even want to put up a fight.

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While it is a cool moment it is the first of two really anti-climatic moments. The second one being when they finally find the demon and the girls, and of course the only two girls left inside are Arata’s friend and Kyoichi’s sister. The problem here being that they are essentially stopped from doing anything, the situation ends and they leave with the girls, and things sort themselves out without them ever raising a finger. They’d have got much the same result if they’d just had some coffee and waited for the day to be over.

As much as I did enjoy this episode, I can’t help feeling it really didn’t do as much as it could have.

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