Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Villains of 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

Realistically 2018 was not a good year for villains. And by that I mean we didn’t really get anyone who stood out as a well crafted or particularly interesting villainous character (at least none in the shows I was watching). Most of the time there either wasn’t a villain, the villain was more a force of nature or some kind of larger problem and not a person, or the villain was kind of lame. So no Makishima (Psycho Pass) type characters that just made me want to discuss them and their motives. It is a shame considering this is my first yearly top 5 villain list and it is going to be pretty ordinary. I guess we can just cross our fingers and hope for some better villains in 2019.

That said, I’d love to know who your favourite villains were in 2018 so please leave me a comment below.

Honourable Mentions:

Honourable mentions this list go to Cartaphilius from The Ancient Magus’ Bride who was almost a good villain and then somehow just kind of became fairly lame. I really wish they’d done more with him given the build up he got. And Sagawa from Kokkoku who again seemed like a really solid bad guy and then… well I’m not sure I ever understood his motive in the first place so I can’t say whether or not he got his wish.

Number 5: Milza from Record of Grancrest War

It is probably a sign of how weak I found villains this year that I even considered Milza. He started out as a fairly strong character but ultimately he was far too arrogant and his plans were pretty flawed. Theo and his army got the best of Milza at every turn and all and all he ended up being pretty disappointing. Still, he was the main antagonist for a lot of the series and it was pretty satisfying seeing him defeated.

Number 4: Carnival from Lostorage Conflate Wixoss

Another villain that just doesn’t hold up. Carnival has more or less become a lackey in the latest Wixoss entry and other than stirring the pot a bit their presence in the series is fairly forgettable. Which is a shame given Carnival could have been a great antagonistic character with just a bit more effort put into them. In terms of villainous attitudes, Carnival definitely wins.

Number 3: Cancer from Cells at Work

Probably not a villain at all so much as a natural hazard, but Cancer from Cells at Work deserves a mention here. Such a great character considering the potentially dark subject matter here. They managed to present Cancer as a clear threat, as someone who was disruptive to the natural order and needed to be eliminated, while still managing to give them enough individual personality and desire to live to make them reasonably sympathetic. For a two episode character, Cancer had more characterisation than most the rest of the characters on this list. The only reason Cancer isn’t number 1 on the list is because I’m kind of uncertain as to whether villain is really the right classification for them at all.

Number 2: Dino from Banana Fish

Dino was going to take number one on the list. Not because he’s actually all that great a character, but because at least he really is a villainous scum-bag who was unwavering in their horrible endeavours. However, then the second last episode happened and we suddenly had a new final bad guy for Ash to fight, and then Dino did a last second random act of something that was probably just him trolling the other bad guy but might be considered a potential help to Ash so I kind of felt his credit as a villain was questionable when technically he saved the day (momentarily). It wasn’t the first time he’d helped Ash either. While his motives were always fairly repulsive, measured by his actions, Dino saved Ash on at least three occasions. Not much of a big bad when you keep rescuing the hero.

Number 1: The Goblins from Goblin Slayer

Which means, the number one spot on the list doesn’t go to a person but rather a whole species as depicted in Goblin Slayer. These green monsters are definitely not something you want to bump into unaware and you certainly don’t want them deciding to visit your farm. Considering the goblins in That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime have been great fun to meet as characters, it is fascinating the contrasting view shown in Goblin Slayer. These inarticulate and vicious creatures will stab you, tear you apart, rape you, and use you as a literal shield against arrows. The show has wasted no time trying to show them in a sympathetic light but rather has only depicted them as something that must be stopped at all costs.

And that’s my list of anime villains in 2018. I’d love to know what made your list or who your favourite villain was this year so be sure to share in the comments.

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Karandi James
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ARTFX J PERSONA 5 DANCING STAR NIGHT 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: PROTAGONIST & MORGANA

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Heroes in 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

Tuesday’s Top 5 and this week we are counting down the Top 5 hero characters from 2018. There’s a few criteria as normal and to prevent this from becoming a My Hero Academia list, only one character from each show could take a spot on the official list. So, who would you have included on your list?

So what makes a hero? All kinds of things but I’ll be honest, my list this week focuses very much on heroes who fight for their version of justice and as such it ended up being a fairly action heavy list. There’s some great heroes out there who have saved others emotionally and deserve a spot but unfortunately I need to narrow down the list somehow.

Also, apparently this is my first top 5 hero list and I don’t know why I didn’t do one for 2017, but I guess that means we’ll have to see how we go from here.

Honourable Mentions:

Honourable mentions this week go to Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura who is awesome, and tragically the only female I ended up short listing because the shows I watched this year were fairly short on female heroes I could really get behind. I had high expectations for Release the Spyce but to be honest none of the cast there have really stuck with me. The other honourable mention goes to Diablo from How Not To Summon A Demon Lord. Seriously awesome character but hard to argue that he’s a good hero when he’s working at portraying a demon lord persona for most of the series. That, and he really doesn’t fight for justice so much as protecting those he’s decided are his friends.

Number 5: David Lassic from Record of Grancrest War

David was a great character in Record of Grancrest War. One of the many mysteries of the anime was why he was so subservient to Theo for most of the run time given he was a great leader in his own right and incredible on the battlefield. Thinking back through the majority of the battles, he played a pivotal role in so many of them and Theo should be really thankful that David was on-board. Outside of that, he took down a cyclops that apparently took a troop of mages to take down in the past and he did it with about four people. And, it wasn’t blind luck. He actually decided to take on the monster, asked the right questions about how to beat it, put a plan together and then executed it with the hindrance of weird animation. Still, fairly epic moment for the show and for David.

Number 4: Sousuke from Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory

There’s a lot of nostalgia at play in this choice, I will admit. I loved Sousuke as a hero from before this year and while Invisible Victory ultimately left me wanting a bit more than it was willing to offer, what it did do beautifully was showcase why Sousuke is amazing. No weapons, no back-up, no real clue where the enemy is? Not a problem. Sousuke makes and executes plans to equip himself as needed and find those responsible for taking Chidori. In the meantime he’s going to look great doing it and if you thin a few bullet wounds are going to stop him in his tracks you really haven’t paid attention to this franchise.

Number 3: Kirito from Sword Art Online Alicization

Another choice that is probably heavily nostalgia fuelled given I’m not entirely sure I am sold just yet on the Kirito we are seeing in Alicization. Certainly he’s had his shining moments. Defending Asuna in real life was fairly noble, if stupid (try running away first before you take on a murderer with an umbrella) and the fight against the goblins was just fantastic. However, since Kirito hasn’t really got a target to take down just yet the actual heroic aspects of his character aren’t really shining through. Still, there’s been enough promising signs that I still gave him the number 3 spot on the list. Hopefully the rest of Alicization next year brings him back to number 1.

Number 2: Goblin Slayer from Goblin Slayer

This one shouldn’t be a surprise. You want a faceless hero who fights against an evil even though he won’t get any real credit for his contribution to the safety of the villagers? Goblin Slayer is your guy. He doesn’t fight for glory or fame or even wealth. He just wants to kill goblins and ensure that others aren’t hurt by goblins. He’s kind of a pure force of nature in his single minded approach to goblin slaying and while that probably doesn’t make him the most mentally healthy character, it certainly makes him a strong hero.

Number 1: All Might from My Hero Academia Season 3

However, the number 1 place on this list was more or less determined months ago. Was any character going to have a moment as heroic or as epic as All Might giving the last of his power to hold back All For One while the students rescued Bakugou and the other heroes kept civilian casualties down. Even as his power broke and his weakness was exposed for all the world to see, All Might didn’t falter. He looked clearly at the camera and passed the torch to Midoriya who he has now dedicated himself to preparing for the future. All Might has worked to define what being a hero is and even without his quirk he’s working to prepare the next generation. All Might really is Plus Ultra!

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Karandi James
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12 Days of Anime Characters – Siluca Meletes

12 Days of Anime Title Image

Okay, so this year I’m going to be participating in the 12 Days of Anime and I decided that I’d like to focus on some of the characters I really liked, or found interesting, in 2018, but for whatever reason they won’t end up on any of my favourite character lists. 

So for Day 1 I’m going to look at Siluca Meletes from Record of Grancrest War.

Record of Grancrest War Episode 8 Siluca

Now Siluca starts out as a great character. She’s a young, plucky mage, fresh out and going to serve a lord that she’s already decided is a womanizer and someone she doesn’t want to work with citing the uniform he put her in as solid evidence that she should pass. On the way there she runs into Theo, a young man determined to gain power and free his island from whatever. And so she joins forces with him and helps him rise to power.

Great story, right?

And it probably would have been in slightly defter hands. However, because of the choppy nature of the narrative, Siluca, who starts out all strong and smart does get to spend some episodes devising plans, being overly ambitious and getting Theo in and out of trouble. She even gets to fight once or twice and show off some of her really cool magic tricks.

Record of Grancrest War Episode 9

And then it all goes sideways for her as a character.

As much as I loved Theo and Siluca together, as soon as Siluca became an official love interest, the story all but sidelined her. She occasionally gets to be in the same scene as Theo and she’s certainly there for the dramatic revelations at the end, but mostly she becomes background. The one or two shining moments she gets swiftly get buried under an avalanche of other things happening in the story and the need for Theo to ultimately be the hero.

Record of Grancrest War Episode 22

Here is a character who well and truly gets butchered for the sake of narrative convenience. Her brains, her strength as a mage, all of the things that made her so delightful early on get toned down until she’s essentially the sound board for Theo and moral support.   It is such a shame because she is a character with incredible potential, and it is horrendously squandered here. 

For once, I am crying out for a prequel. Let us see Siluca before she met Theo, as a young mage learning her craft. She would be a delight and we would get to see her character as she truly could have been. 

Record of Grancrest War Episode 2

Siluca Meletes, you deserved a better anime.

Tomorrow I turn my attention to Shimada in March Comes in Like a Lion.

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Karandi James
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RECORD OF GRANCREST WAR 1/7 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SILUCA MELETES
	RECORD OF GRANCREST WAR 1/7 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: SILUCA MELETES

Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Couples from 2018

Tuesday's Top 5

This week’s top 5 list counts down my favourite anime couples from 2018. They don’t need to be canon, they don’t need to actually end up together, they just need to be super-adorable and make my heart melt. I’d love to know which anime couples you fell in love with this season so be sure to leave me a comment below.

And apparently I haven’t previously done a list like this at the end of 2017 or 2016, so this is the very first couples list for a single year. I’m definitely going to have to make this an ongoing thing next year because this list was super fun to write.

Honourable Mentions:

I never thought I’d see the day that Kirito and Asuna weren’t on my Top 5 couples list but with what little we’ve seen of Alicization and only one episode with the two of them actually together I just couldn’t justify having them in the top 5. The same goes for Okabe and Kurisu from Steins;Gate 0. I love those two together but they just didn’t show up that much together this year. The last honourable mention is Mitsuru and Kokoro from Darling in the Franxx. Those two were actually pretty adorable together despite my misgivings with the plot of Franxx.

Number 5: Siluca and Theo from Record of Grancrest War

As much as there are some big issues with Record of Grancrest War, and as much as I feel Siluca’s character progression hit the skids as soon as Theo and Siluca became an actual couple, this was one of the most adorable pairs from earlier in the year. Theo may have seemed like a passive protagonist, but he certainly didn’t waste any time or the opportunity to confess his love to Siluca. These two characters could have really carried a very different show if they had chosen to focus on their relationship a little bit more and it would have been fantastic to watch.

Number 4: Nanami and Yuu from Bloom Into You

Okay, Nanami and Yuu both have issues with relationships and I’m honestly not sure if I’m hoping for these two to get a happily ever after or not after everything that’s happened, but I cannot deny I love watching these characters together. The way they gently poke at each other, move the other to see things differently, offer comfort and support, as well as mock when the occasion calls for it, is just all kinds of adorable. I’ve really enjoyed watching their relationship progress even if it is progress of the one step forward several steps back kind.

Number 3: Syaoran and Sakura from Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card

Another great couple from a not-so-great anime. Then again, Syaoran and Sakura have been one of my favourite couples for a very long time and Clear Card just confirmed why. Seeing these two together is truly a joy. Now if we could just stop Syaoran from trying to keep secrets from Sakura, and if Sakura could share her power more often because watching the two of them flying together was the single most squeal worthy moment ever.

Number 2: Takato and Junta from Dakaichi

It won’t be for everyone but I really enjoyed watching the relationship develop in Dakaichi. Part of the appeal is Takato as an individual character, however the longer you watch, the more you realise that everything that is great about how Takato changes as a character comes about because of Junta, and he’s no slouch either in the character development department. These two guys have found each other and while their relationship is riddled with issues and ego, it is an so much fun to watch and I just keep hoping for their happily ever after.

Number 1: Ash and Eiji from Banana Fish

This one isn’t going to surprise anyone who follows me on Twitter. Seriously, every Friday I’ve been spamming the retweets of fan art and screen caps of these two because they are so worth it. And you know what, they don’t need to kiss on screen, they don’t need to actually confess their feelings, and we don’t even need a ring exchange. Every scene with these two together shows their relationship and feelings and seeing them interact is the sweetest and simultaneously most heartbreaking thing to watch and most definitely gives this one every reason to top my list here. Ash and Eiji are beautiful together and bring out the absolute best in one another.

That’s my list, come to an end. Right now I’d love to know which couples made your list and why so be sure to leave me a comment.

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Karandi James
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Record of Grancrest War Series Review: Run While You Still Can

Record of Grancrest War is a fantasy series that doesn’t seem to understand that cohesion is an absolute must when building a fantasy world. However, that’s just the start of this anime’s problems.

Review:

I really love fantasy. There’s just something really great about stepping away from this world for awhile and losing yourself in another world with characters who are struggling to overcome overblown evil and to find their way in their world. That means, even when early indicators are that a story might not hold up, I tend to hold on and hope. In many cases that leaves me feeling a little burned.

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Record of Grancrest War isn’t actually a case of me feeling burned. I’d honestly be lying if I said I didn’t quite enjoy that frustrating twenty minutes of viewing each week even as I wrote ever snarkier episode reviews about it. It isn’t so bad that it is good, nor is it actually good. There’s just something about it that remained appealing and kept reigniting my optimism that maybe this anime might pull itself together even as it failed to capitalise on anything time after time.

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While that means I don’t have regrets about watching it; it also pretty much means I will never put myself through a rewatch of this anime nor would I actually recommend it to someone unless they were equally desperate for a fantasy and weren’t too concerned about the quality of the story being told.

So let’s look at the show in greater detail.

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Essentially this story bites off a lot more than it can chew. It starts off with a wedding that is essentially interrupted by chaos appearing and killing both the father of the groom and bride, apparently stopping the continent from being united and plunging it into war. It’s a fairly dramatic back drop for a story, but we’ll not get back to this particular plot line for a fair while so just leave that in the back of your mind.

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We jump to Theo and Silua, who from the OP are apparently the main characters but be prepared for these two to just disappear from the story for episodes at a time and regularly not be even half as interesting as anyone in the support cast. Admittedly, there are some adorable Theo and Siluca moments and by the climax Theo is the speech making protagonist that I kind of hoped he would become, but realistically these two kind of bring the show down right from the start by not being interesting enough to shape the story around.

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Instead we keep going off on little side quests about following other characters and their plights. Villar and Milza eat up a lot screen time in the first half of the series being a far more interesting hero character and antagonist. And Marrine and Alexis eat a substantial portion of the second half, being the couple who didn’t get married in the beginning and end up leading opposite factions in the war (at least Marrine does as Alexis is more of an artist than a fighter). Throw in some werewolf maids, an assassin, a warrior, other Lords and Mages, and even a Vampire King who will apparently be super important in the final episode even though we know nothing about him, and the story is cluttered, unfocused, and bloated.

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None of this is the end of the world for a story if it manages to link its ideas together, but Grancrest just kind of reels from event to event, jumping time and space with little care for its audience. You never get a sense of the world as characters literally move between cities and islands and cross half a continent without any real indicator of how long that took. The world as a result feels like a series of hubs rather than an actual world.

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The story also keeps forgetting that the whole point was to end the age of chaos. It gets back to it in the climax but you can go episodes without anyone mentioning chaos. And the chaos beasts that are such a big deal in episode one just vanish for nearly half the series. You can’t help but feel you are being told chaos is a big deal just so the climax makes sense but there’s no evidence to support that for the bulk of the series. Mostly because the series focuses almost exclusively on fighting between the Lords and acquiring lands and crests.

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Theo’s crest makes pretty lights. Not sure if it does anything else, but look, pretty.

And this is where things get really dodgy on the world building side. The crests don’t ever make sense. What one Lords crest does isn’t the same as another and the discrepancies are given no explanation. Even the titular ‘Grancrest’ itself has no explanation other than it will end chaos. Great, what does it do? And you’ll still ask that question at the end. Because while it does end chaos, the how and the why are without even a quick explainer.

Grancrest20c

I guess I can’t get through this review without mentioning the visuals. Even in episode one the animation isn’t great. While you can ignore it and enjoy the episode, it isn’t exactly something you would praise. However there are countless moments in episodes where the animation is just outright bad and distracting. And while in a more compelling story they might get away with this, in a show where the story makes little sense, the characters aren’t really winning us over, and the world building has failed, poor animation just takes things a step too far and it becomes quite painful to watch in some instances. Blending poor animation with poor CG also doesn’t help the situation (ask Irina about the water).

Then we have this overly dramatic soundtrack that would work perfectly for a game or a competent anime of this nature, and yet here just feels like it is desperately trying to prop up the thin outline of a narrative and it fails.

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There we have it. Nothing really to recommend here and yet it isn’t unwatchable. I can complain all I like, and I certainly did in the episode reviews, but I kept going back to it and watching. Realistically, after the half-way point I didn’t even want to drop it because I actually did want to see if Theo would become the Emperor and save the world, even if the process involved to get him there made no sense.

If you put yourself through this anime, I’d love to know your thoughts.


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 Record of Grancrest War
Record of Grancrest War


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Tuesday’s Top 5: Reasons The Anime of Spring 2018 Have Been a Bit Disappointing

Tuesday's Top 5

I normally try and keep the top 5 posts pretty upbeat, but I can’t deny I’m a little disappointed with the last season of anime. No, it isn’t a sign that modern anime are dreadful or that seasonal watching is the problem. It is just that there were a lot of anime that just didn’t live up to their potential or deliver. As the season comes to an end, I’m reflecting on reasons why I was so disappointed this season.

Whether you liked the season or not, I’d love to know your thoughts on the anime from Spring 2018 so be sure to leave me a comment below.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Number 5: Sequels and Spin-offs That Just Didn’t Land

SAO3e

Whether it was the debacle that was the continuation of Tokyo Ghoul (reverting to the story in the manga without providing explanation for anime viewers) or the disappointment of SAO Alternative: GGO where viewers were asked to watch a pink bunny girl play a game without much in the way of stakes and were expected to care, the Spring 2018 season has definitely had its share of mis-fires with sequels and spin-offs. Even if we look at the ending of Cardcaptors, most people are expressing a general sense that it just didn’t manage to live up to its predecessors and My Hero Academia took a fair while to get going (though fortunately it has now gotten going and it has certainly stepped up).

Number 4: Scattered Viewership

Hero49g

Normally with seasonal viewing there’s the couple of shows that everyone is watching. Spring 2018 hasn’t had one of those unifying shows that has ignited the entire community. Instead we have small groups of people proclaiming a love for Megalo Box while older mecha fans have been rejoicing over the return of Full Metal Panic, some people praising SAO Alternative: GGO for not being SAO and a few who have gone for one romance or another. But there’s been no single show that has gotten everyone really excited. With so many big titles out that would seem really odd and yet nothing has really captured the masses this season.

Number 3: Controversy and Fan Idiocy

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While I like to avoid the fandoms are toxic debates, some of the stories going around this season really do emphasise that sometimes people just go too far. Death threats to writers and voice actors just should not be a thing. I know I don’t want someone coming into my workplace and threatening my life just because they disagree with how I go about doing my job, or spamming my email or twitter feed for the same. And then of course we have the issue of post plagiarism sweeping the blogosphere with quite a number of bloggers impacted. The last few months have not been great for community spirit and like it or not, it does impact on the enjoyment of the medium when the community is very much focused on some of these more negative aspects.

Number 2: Recaps, Fillers and Gaps

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How many shows this season have done recap episodes or fillers? And how many have skipped airing one week or another due to some event of the like? It has made following shows more challenging than normal as episodes are delayed or skip a week, or worse they put out a recap episode four episodes in as if the entire community suffers from short term memory loss. While I get production delays happen and that sometimes schedules do go awry with broadcasting, the Spring 2018 season feels like it has just been one interruption to the schedule after another making it even harder to get into some of the shows on offer.

Number 1: Broken Narratives

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Whether it is Record of Grancrest War, Darling in the Franxx, or even the abomination that is Devils’ Line, there are so many anime this season that just make no sense in terms of how they have structured and delivered their story. Maybe they are trying to avoid the label of generic but we’ve got time skips, random characters dropping in and out, reveals that make no sense, themes that get built up and then abandoned, and all and all its just a mess. This hardly makes for a satisfying viewing experience. There’s a reason narrative structure is almost identical in every culture, and that’s because people figured out a long time ago how to deliver a story in a way that made it interesting. A lot of these shows need to go back to basics and just figure out what they wanted to be because honestly Spring 2018 has definitely been a bit of a miss in terms of delivering anything resembling a compelling story line.

So those are my reasons for feeling a bit disappointed. I’d love to know if you were disappointed with the season and why, or whether you ended up loving the season and why. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Also you can vote for your favourite and least favourite anime of the season below.


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Record of Grancrest War Episode 24: At Last, The End

We’ll burn 10 minutes of this episode fighting the vampire king who is apparently important despite not really showing up at all prior, and then we won’t fight the Mages in Eramu because they’ll just poison themselves. Yes, this is how Record of Grancrest War Ends. Not with a bang, or a whimper. Unless that’s the sound of the audience hitting themselves for watching this far.

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Yes, let’s just pretend the last ten minutes didn’t happen and that someone hasn’t just died. It is better that way.

Clearly this episode has some issues as a final episode, but for the most part these are issues that have plagued the whole series. Priscilla being a deus ex machina to overcome the vampire king is more or less par for the course that this show has run, and the fact that the mages, set up as the true villains, are taken out in almost ridiculously short order because they are already pretty much defeated and then the only mage left of note kills himself (what is it with the suicidal mages in this story) is just what you would expect.

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So with that said, I’m not actually disappointed in this and the show’s general unwillingness to follow through on knocking off any of its main characters. So many death flags for both Silica and Theo and yet these weren’t acted on, nor were other characters forced to sacrifice themselves on their behalf. Essentially they all just held hands and walked through the finale because Theo promised to end chaos. Apparently that’s enough to allow him to succeed.

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With that, this anime is done and I will now have to get around to writing a series review. That should be fun.

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