The Tools Of War: Phones, Vacations and Love Advice

Kaguya Sama: Love is War Post Title

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 2 Review

Well, seems the annoying narration at the start is there to stay but I kind of raised my issues with that last week so moving on. We also have the character introductions again and I realised just how much this series was leaning of Kaguya’s social status for a lot of the jokes and set-ups, but again its a comedy so we’ll just move on. Still, between opening narration, OP and character introductions that’s a chunk of episode time eaten before the first of the three segments even starts so I’m just wondering how sustainable this story is given even with that it felt like the second skit dragged a little.

Kaguya Sama Episode 2 Shirogane

Focusing on the three sections of episode though the first one was the best of the three. Featuring the President getting a phone and then trading Line addresses with Yuu was actually a pretty good set up. Admittedly, some people may find the punch line hilarious but mostly I just found the conclusion a little eye-roll worthy because it just felt like there was no way Shinomiya would have missed that point. Still, visually, this first skit was the most interesting and the characters were at their sharpest and best.

Kaguya Sama Episode 2 Shinomiya

The following two sections both had good moments. The argument about whether to go to the mountains or the beach for summer vacation seems fairly innocuous and turning it into a high stakes battle actually worked very well in terms of humour. While the proceeding argument ended up taking too long and felt like the punch line was deliberately held off just too far for me to stay full invested, it was still reasonable. However, the visuals here lent more toward girls in swim suits and wasn’t as creative or interesting as the previous section which meant the argument unfolding had to hold the section.

Kaguya Sama Episode 2 Beach scene

Finally, the President was approached for love advice and this was the section I found the weakest and ultimately I didn’t find much about it funny or entertaining. Though I’ll admit watching Shinomiya blush after Shirogane wall slammed the door she was standing behind was pretty cute.

This show remains a real mixed bag for me. There’s some impressive visuals and direction at times and some of the exchanges are very clever and amusing. However, there’s also a lot that really falls flat for me and this episode toward the end really felt like it was dragging. I’m also really concerned about the ability of this anime to keep this concept fresh at three scenarios an episode for a whole season. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

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Karandi James
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Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 1
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, 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)

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

Doreiku The Animation Series Review: Another Cool Premise Gone To Waste

Doreiku presents viewers with a very cool set-up. What if there was a device that would allow you to play a game with someone and the loser was made to become the winner’s slave? There’s so many places such a concept could be taken and yet what we find in this anime is that we’re just going to tread over the usual vices we’ve seen before with nothing really new on the table.

Review:

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There’s nothing wrong with stories that want to explore the darker side of human nature or even human misery. I’d argue that stories are a good place to explore such things and to make audiences think about situations they might not otherwise understand or to ‘safely’ experience emotions that might otherwise be pretty traumatising. With the initial set-up of Doreiku I was kind of hoping once it got over its shock factor in the first episode (and believe me, it is trying to be shocking with its rape and idea of total enslavement being paraded around front and centre) that it would actually look at the motives and desires of those involved or maybe explore the notion of freedom overall.

And while you argue that the anime does explore these things, it ultimately ends up being a very shallow dive. Meanwhile the viewer is subjected to a meandering plot, an unnecessarily large cast, and more than a few illogical plot points that kind of exist just because someone somewhere must have thought they were cool.

Doreiku5b

It all just kind of ends up being an empty viewing experience. Every character (with the possible exception of Eia), seems to think they are amazingly smart and that somehow there’s no chance of them losing. And every character ultimately cheats at the games or resorts to violence and intimidation to set the game up in such a way that they can’t lose. And as the number of masters gets fewer and fewer and the number of slaves gets larger, what we realise is that no one writing this show really thought about what these characters would do with slaves.

Yes, there are the usual sexual antics in places and a lot of the male characters are used as muscle. But scene after scene will show a master talking, and boy do these characters like to talk and yet say nothing, while a handful of slaves stand pitifully in the background. Is that really the best they could do? You enslaved multiple other humans and now you just have them kind of standing around.

Doreiku3a

Though Eia and her original partner Oota aren’t all that much better really. Oota’s just thrill seeking and uses Eia for insurance. And once he gets a taste of power he gets nasty yet we’re still somehow supposed to hope Eia saves him. Eia gets swept up in Oota’s scheme because… well I think it is meant to be because she’s bored or wants a challenge but it never really becomes clear. Midway through the series, Eia suddenly decides she wants to free all of the slaves by, naturally, enslaving them. I just wonder if after all is said and done if their brains are going to permanently fried but the series also isn’t interested in answering that sort of question about the devices in question so don’t ask.

So the characters are pretty dull, there’s no real theme or message to wait for, and the plot is a meandering and cluttered mess held together only through who currently owns who, what does that leave us with? Visuals that are okay but not great. Music that works with the show but isn’t memorable. A cute puppy, but it is also wearing a device and is a slave.

Doreiku4b

If you’re just kind of curious, it isn’t the worst thing ever, but there’s not a lot to recommend this one. That and if you are easily upset by difficult subject matter, then definitely give this one a skip. It is deliberately confronting at times but doesn’t really address any of these issues.

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Karandi James

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Angels of Death Episode 4: This Is The End

That minor nagging voice from last week telling me this might get better has now been dragged out and beaten to death by common sense. Angels of Death is boring which is the most irredeemable thing something made for entertainment can ever be.

Angel4a

I love psychological horror. I love bad horror. Cheesy dialogue. Cliche set ups. Standard horror settings. Angels of Death has all the ingredients to engage me as a viewer regardless of whether it did it well or in a terrible King’s Game kind of way. And yet since about midway through the first episode I’ve been kind of bored and just waiting and hoping that somehow this would improve.

Episode 4 is no exception and I’m pretty sure I knew four minutes in that I wasn’t continuing beyond this episode. Yet another floor boss is introduced and we get the usual tongue licking the lips to show she’s unbalanced (though later we’ll also get the mismatched eye thing too) and then maniacal ear-grating laughter. This by itself isn’t the end of a show but lets look at every character other than Rachel so far.

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We meet Zack in episode one and he kills bird and laughs maniacally. Great, he’s crazy, better run. We meet the Doctor who pins Rachel down and throws his head back and laughs crazily before getting skewered on Zack’s scythe. We then meet Eddie. Now in Eddie’s defence, he was more of a giggler than a laugher but the point remains that other than giggling and ranting about his love for Rachel from the shadows, we once again have an extremely shallow characterisation that somehow is supposed to be thrilling.

Maybe I’m just missing something but all I feel while watching Rachel stare blankly at walls before commenting that there is something there or nothing is bored. All I feel when I see Zack getting electrocuted in a chair he idiotically sat on is exasperated. And all I feel when the show ends on a cliffhanger with Rachel potentially about to be done in by poison gas is weary.

Angel4c

For me, watching anime is fun and engaging. In that sense, I think I’d rather go back and watch Record of Grancrest War than even one more episode of this (not that I intend to do that).

However, next week I’ve decided to finally start a formal rewatch of Yuri on Ice, as opposed to just binge watching it whenever I’m feeling a bit down, and I’m going to review the episodes again, hopefully a little more objectively than I did the first time (though honestly, given Yuri and Victor are smiling at me from the wall next to my computer, I somehow doubt it). Anyway, if you want to join me, I’ll be covering episodes 1 and 2 next week instead of watching anymore of Angels of Death.

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Karandi James

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Angels of Death Episode 3: Surrender to Game Style Dialogue and Repetition

Episode 3 continues with the mediocrity and makes it clear that no one really thought through how this would play out as an anime. I’d like to say I was done with this, but there’s this minor nagging voice in my head telling me it might get better.

Angel3c

There’s not much positive to say about episode 3 of this. The creepy atmosphere kind of developed in episode 1 is completely gone at this point. While we’re still wandering around dark levels of a hospital, the environment is so different at this point it is impossible to really think that and instead we’re just in kind of a generic creepy place. However other than a lack of decent lighting, there’s little to actually give you a sense of creepiness. Oh look there’s running water and grave stones. But that’s not enough and it doesn’t evoke anything as we watch the characters stumble around in this episode.

Angel3a

If we add to that the ongoing lack of chemistry between the two main characters and that the giggling floor owner this week was a pumpkin headed kid with some romance delusion that was insufficiently explained to have any impact, there’s just not much to hold onto as the show forces us through one game mechanic filled set piece to the next. Whether it is Rachel drawing the audience’s attention to the torch, the notes, or even the final fight sequence which reminded me of playing King’s Quest where if you didn’t have ‘this’ item you were doomed to failure, this show doesn’t sit well as an anime but really does look like someone playing a game and it isn’t doing the show any favours.

Angel3e

Also, lack of anything else to pay attention to has me wondering how Zack’s mouth even works given he has a bandage clean over it and yet he manages to speak just fine and it opens and closes.  I guess he could have cut a slit but then wouldn’t we occasionally see lips instead of bandage that somehow seems to move perfectly with his mouth. This is the kind of thing that only distracts me when I’m slightly bored while watching, and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the emotion the show was going for.

Honestly, I should drop this and if I have any sense this will be the last episode I watch. However, I somehow suspect next week curiosity as to whether it can improve will get the better of me. We’ll see.

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Karandi James

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