DamePri Anime Caravan Episode 4: And Then They All Visited The Farm

Dame x Prince Anime Caravan Episode 4

Review:

Last week I noted that all of the Princes had finally been introduced and I wondered what the anime was going to do next. Well, no more wondering. Now I know that the Princes are going to go on a field trip to annoy Ani and play the rich guys see a farm for the first time card.

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Which honestly isn’t that surprising given this show is pretty much following the plot of a fairly generic story and the only particularly noteworthy parts of it are that the Princes’ personalities have been dialed up to an eleven and Ani is playing the straight-man with definite determination in the face of all ludicrous developments.

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Don’t ask.

However, the episode does remain fun and even if nothing that happens is a surprise and the story essentially consists of the three princes and the noble guy that Ani has met in the previous episodes descend on her rural kingdom, play around, complain about the food, and then they move to the next kingdom and Ani is to accompany them. While this isn’t a masterpiece, it isn’t subversive of any kind of genre, it isn’t even really a parody, it does manage to be amusing in its own way and the characters do have their own charms even if they are ridiculous.

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Karandi James

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DamePri Anime Caravan Episode 3: And We Have Finally Met All The Princes

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Review:

This week’s episode was a little bit more subdued and slightly less over the top but was still kind of fun as Ani went to Ruze’s coronation and then got roped into trying to get Ruze’s shut-in older brother to attend.

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The interactions between Prince Mare and Ani are amusing enough but a far quieter affair than Narek and Vino last week. I’m wondering if we’ll ever find out what his deal with scissors is but basically this is a case of cute girl talks to guy and guy shows up to coronation after all.

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And while things don’t exactly go as planned, we now seem to have all the characters from the end credits in the show so I wonder what is going to happen next. This show isn’t particularly good, but it is kind of easy viewing and Ani plays the straight man quite well when surrounded by the weirdness that is each of the Princes.


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DamePri Anime Caravan Episode 2: Walking The Fine Line Between Absurd And Stupid

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Review:

This week Ani is sent by her parents to the neighbouring kingdom as a spy to determine whether the peace treaty is actually going to hold. There’s something really relaxing about the way dialogue is delivered in this anime as conversations seem to have a nice rhythm and then they’ll deliver the punch line usually followed by a pause before the pace picks up again. It is kind of interesting just to listen to the characters sometimes even if what they are saying might not be all that amazing.

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Of course, Ani almost immediately runs into both the Prince (Narek) and the Duke (Vino) though not before a failed attempt at a mascot character and a magical girl parody ate up episode time.

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However, once she began interacting with Vino and Narek in earnest the second half of this episode kind of became quite amusing. Teo is forgotten and I’m left wondering where he even is during the events of the second half but we are reintroduced to Riot once Ani is ‘invited’ to stay at the palace.

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Ultimately, this show is walking that very fine line. At times it pushes the absurd enough to be funny and other times it reaches a bit too far or not far enough and misses the mark. Overall, there isn’t a lot of substance to this story, but there are more moments making me smile than groan and even though it seems clear that Ani’s matter-of-fact approach is going to ‘fix’ all the princes and other guys in the story (because so far they are all a little over the top), I think I might stick with this one for a bit of a brain break.


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DamePri Anime Caravan Episode 1: This Was Really Silly And Yet Kind Of Okay

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Overview:

Okay, I read the synopsis of this on MAL and on HiDive and to be honest, I still don’t know what the show is actually going to be about given both of those descriptions seem to describe the events of episode 1. So maybe we’re just going to be repeating this for a season? Anyway, Ani is a Princess from a small kingdom and because her father is injured she has to go sign a peace treaty in a neutral Kingdom. There she meets the Princes of neutral Kingdom and the one her Kingdom was at war with and they are both just a little bit strange. Outside of that, I’m not sure what this is about.

Review:

This show hadn’t actually been on my radar at all but it came along on HiDive so I gave the first episode a go and found myself kind of enjoying it. It is sill and over the top and the story isn’t very clearly established, but I didn’t feel myself marking time while watching it and by the end I kind of want to know what awaits Ani (and Teo because he is sure to tag along) in the next episode.

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Teo and Ani are definitely playing their roles straight making them kind of the least interesting characters we’ve me but it is necessary given every other character we met looks like they are auditioning for the lead role in a high school drama production.

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Very little is learned about the characters though some relationships between them have started to be established and there might be some actual intrigue if the show decides to look at some of that, but really what this episode did was bring a group of eccentrics together, let the bounce off one another for awhile and then sent them all home. What happens next is still kind of unknown so the show could end up being quite a fun ride or could just become a tedious slog of poorly repeated jokes.

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So on that note I’m firmly putting off making any kind of decision about this one, however I will be watching the next episode.


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Princess Principal Episode 11: Another Fine Mess

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Review:

This episode was everything you could have wanted from Princess Principal after the bombshell ending to episode 10. Ange stayed true to who she has been and attempted to throw off pursuers and then run-away with the Princess. Princess however also stayed true to who she had become and pretty much told Ange she should run off by herself.

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This is kind of fantastic not because it was unexpected (because by this point it wasn’t), but because of how well this series has built up the relationship between these two characters. They are both hurt by the outcome of this confrontation and it isn’t just that they drew some tears, the audience is feeling the pain of this encounter.

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That said, the rest of the episode was pretty ordinary in terms of setting up for a final. It is functional but not exceptional and the introduction of Zelda at this late stage didn’t help things along. Still, looking forward to where this goes next.


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Princess Principal Episode 9: East Meets West

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Review:

We kind of knew it had to come along, an episode that focusses on the fact that Chise is actually Japanese and that there are different cultural expectations. Fortunately, this episode elicits more laughs than groans and actually manages to make for some great character moments even while it plays on some fairly obvious cultural clichés.

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Of course, Chise is the focus of this episode and the narrator, bringing her unique view of the other characters to the forefront as well as highlighting the dynamics of the group. And again, this could have felt really trite and it is definitely a nod to the strength of the writing that this episode pulls it off and makes you feel you’ve gained a greater understanding of all the members of the team through this episode.

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Still, the bully triggering the duel was a fairly clunky plot device, even if it was ultimately well used. As he isn’t a character we’ve ever seen before or one we are likely to see again, there was little emotional investment and you kind of knew that he was more or less a fly to be swatted (though it was still pretty satisfying when Chise landed that hit – despite the fact that I now want to know what her ribbon is made out of).

Overall, a fairly good episode in what has been a pretty great watch this season.


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Princess Principal Episode 8: The Truth of the Black Lizard Planet

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Review (with potential spoiler):

This episode is excellent in that it finally clears up a lot of the viewer’s suspicions about what happened between Ange and Charlotte once upon a time and it does it well. It is an expected reveal but one that is dealt with appropriately. What it isn’t particularly good at is being an episode on its own.

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The story essentially has the group staking out a building and other than interactions between Ange and a pickpocket where she begins to tell a story from the Black Lizard Planet (giving us a flashback of overly adorable Ange and Charlotte) and a few montages, very little happens. This is an important character episode but the plot of the episode is really flat.

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While the occasional character driven episode in a larger narrative works, Princess Principal has been completely episodic up until this point (and out of chronological order) so giving us an episode that doesn’t stand up in its own right but as part of the larger picture might work, is a bit of a risky move. Fortunately, the characters here are charming enough to pull it off so even if you walk away realising that pretty much nothing happened, you still feel pretty satisfied.


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Princess Principal Episode 7: Spying Is Sometimes A Dirty Job

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Review:

I didn’t find this episode quite as interesting as some of the previous ones, mostly because this week nothing really came as a surprise. Previously, there’s been something that unfolded in a way I didn’t quite expect, but this episode was more or less strictly by the numbers as they set up and delivered a reasonable story.

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What probably caused this issue was more of the story was focussed on the girls saving a laundry mill through fairly ordinary innovations rather than their actual mission (though they did carry that out simultaneously). As a direct result, this episode felt fairly mundane and like we were being left out of a more interesting story that we just never got into.

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Despite my finding this episode less interesting, it is still a solid story and the characters, having all had their introductions, are quite charming. Overall Princess Principal remains a fairly strong title this season.


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Princess Principal Episodes 5 + 6: Always A Train Story

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Review Episode 5:

I get that trains were really important as a mode of transport way back when, but I find train episodes relatively boring for the simple reason that there are only so many things you can do in a train episode. Basically you have linear paths because the carriages are strung out behind one another, and you can go above or below the carriage, and you always have to worry about derailment and carriage separation, but the stories always end up playing out much the same way. Okay, Baccano managed something a little different on a train, but Princess Principal adds only anti-gravity catch up from the separated carriages to the ones ahead and a merging track that may cause two trains to collide.

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However, while the plot of Princess Principal becomes quite predictable this week due to his chosen setting, the focus on character, particularly Chise, is quite interesting. We’ve now seen how each of the girls has come to this group and each story has given us a bit more insight into the group itself. Hopefully now the overall narrative can kick into gear because we’ve now gotten through these introductions.

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This remains quite a strong anime this season even if I was making fun of the train setting earlier. The episode works, the characters are fantastic, and some of the fight sequences on the train were pretty cool.

Review Episode 6:

Nope, instead we’re going to get some back story on Dorothy and a fairly tragic tale that is pretty predictable but great to watch nonetheless. It was also great to see the dynamic between Dorothy and Beatrice as this episode unfolded given while they were in the last episode they were more in the background to Ange and Chise (who this time are the ones sent to the sidelines).

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This is an episode of real highs and lows for Dorothy with Beatrice acting as the observer and the one who asks the questions the audience want an answer to and it works really well. The drunken father may have been a fairly generic plot device, but it is delivered well and overall the story, while not complicated, is largely entertaining.

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None of this however changes the fact that at episode 6, other than Ange wanting to help the Princess and the Princess wanting to maybe be the Queen, we really don’t have a central plot here. The individual cases are pretty entertaining and the girls are a real joy to watch, but what is holding this back from being truly fantastic is a sense that we are heading toward something.


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Alderamin on the Sky Series Review – Military Fantasy That Mostly Pays Off

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Alderamin on the Sky Overview:

Alderamin on the Sky follows Ikta Solork, a fairly lazy and apathetic young man, who unfortunately finds himself forced into joining his country’s military along with his childhood friend. That said, Ikta Solork makes for a very cool knight, in his own way.

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Alderamin on the Sky Review:

For a series that is riddled with issues, Alderamin on the Sky manages to be a pretty entertaining series. It isn’t perfect by any means and it isn’t exactly the most mind-blowing thing you’ll ever watch, but it is an interesting military fantasy with a cast that give reasonably consistent performances and tell a story in a decent fashion.

However, as is usual with this sort of thing one season isn’t really enough and at this point a second season is more or less off the cards (though weirder things have happened).

This may not seem like a glowing recommendation but when it comes to fantasy, anything that can settle itself down long enough to get the fundamentals of story telling right without tripping themselves up with how clever they are and how amazing some mystical thingy is, kind of stands out. Even taken out of the fantasy genre, Alderamin on the Sky delivers a solid piece of story telling even if it never quite rises to being all that exciting.

That said, I haven’t quite figured out the title and whether that ever makes any sense of whether it is just words kind of mashed together from some kind of randomiser.

Strangely, I will put a language warning on Alderamin on the Sky.

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Normally I wouldn’t bother (given most shows that use this kind of language are pretty obvious about it) but given the generally nice nature of the show and the characters some of the sexually explicit language that comes out at times (and a little bit of swearing) seems to come out of left field. It isn’t intrusive and not excessive, but it definitely makes its presence felt so if that isn’t your thing then perhaps you should pass.

With that out of the way let’s look at Alderamin on the Sky in a bit more detail.

Ikta and Yattori as main characters are brilliant (and not just because we keep getting told Ikta is meant to be brilliant). The chemistry between them as long term friends feels genuine and more importantly, it is needed for the plot to work. Ikta might be a brilliant strategist but without knowing his resources and what they can do, he would have failed far more often than he did.

More importantly, because the two characters know each other so well, they can take action knowing someone will have their back and this allows them to take risks that progress the story. Honestly, if nothing else in this story worked, the relationship between these two would be more than enough to keep me watching. I kind of lived in fear that they’d try to make it romantic but we were fortunately spared that particular development.

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However, as much as thought and effort has gone into the relationship between Ikta and Yattori, the Princess Chamille and most of the military officers we meet throughout the course of the anime are pretty flat as characters.

While Ikta’s core group get some development and a few minor soldiers and lower officers get some opportunities to show that they are people, the higher officers and the Princess get one note personalities. Fortunately they don’t appear all that often so it isn’t enough to ruin the viewing but it makes you wonder how the entire Kingdom hadn’t already fallen apart with some of the morons that were in charge in Alderamin on the Sky.

Moving onto the pacing, it is kind of a bit disjointed if I’m truly being honest.

Some viewers might find this a bit of a problem but Alderamin on the Sky kind of works. There are 2 – 3 episodes given to each of the minor conflicts as we progress to the final retreat that Ikta is put in charge of. This gives them time to set up a situation, have some piece of wisdom revealed, a little bit of character development and interaction, before we charge into another inevitable battle (well, it is a military fantasy).

I didn’t mind this method of pacing out the story and felt it worked quite well with the subject matter – then again, I also enjoyed the weird strategy narration from Lord Marksman and Vanadis so maybe my record with military fantasy anime is questionable.



Basically, the show steps this up from an escape, to a military exercise, to a field conflict where they have the upper hand, to a field conflict where they don’t have the upper hand, to a full on retreat. At each stage forcing Ikta to work that little bit harder for his victory (even if by victory we mean successful retreat). From a reality point of view it is laughable but from the point of view of escalating a situation in order to push a character it works very well.

Except when the story screeches to a halt for another lengthy explanation.

This is a problem in any show where the main character is supposed to be smart. The writer’s feel the need to have them explain their reasoning (ad nauseum) to a range of other characters and they inevitably don’t come off looking as smart as they would if they just kind of did what they needed to do.

I don’t know about you, but I do not stand around telling people my entire thought process before I make a decision. I will walk people through the final reasoning, but all the steps along the way get cut out because nobody wants to listen to it. For a show that mostly had clever character interactions, I’d really love to go back through it and hack out almost every one of Ikta’s strategy explanations.

At least though, while Alderamin on the Sky has us listening to Ikta it’s kind of pretty to look at. Okay, it doesn’t rise to the wow factor of something like No Game, No Life in terms of striking world building, but I actually found myself enjoying the scenery and character designs while watching this. The visuals match the story.

They do what they need to do and they don’t bother trying to clutter up the issue or disguise flaws by dangling pretty colours in our faces. I’ll echo that point for the music. It works but it isn’t trying to steal the show.

Unfortunately, fFor a fantasy, the world building is probably the weakest component in Alderamin on the Sky.

We get a basic idea of the main ideologies and set-ups of the main powers in the world but there are a million unaddressed questions in this series (like what is actually with the character’s spirit companion things). While these don’t get in the way of you understanding the plot, they leave the world feeling a little incomplete.

That said, incomplete is probably better than weighed down with excess detail at the expense of character or story development.

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As I said at the start, I really enjoyed Alderamin on the Sky and I’d really like to see more of this story but it brought things to a fairly natural conclusion and the narration has told us where this story plans to go so even if we never see any more of this world or these characters we can call it a day with sufficient closure.

My recommendation is to watch this anime. If you like any kind of fantasy or if you just want an anime that tells a pretty straight forward story, Alderamin is well worth the time.


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Karandi James