Alert! Time Travelling Heroine Surrounded By Pretty Boys!

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Meiji Tokyo Renka Episode 1 Review

I feel like we’ve seen this all before. Meet a girl in the modern world, contrive some reason, or no reason, and suddenly poof she’s in a historical setting with a vaguely supernatural twist. Okay, I’m getting a distinct Sengoku Night Blood kind of vibe from this one and that isn’t necessarily a favourable comparison.

Meiji Tokyo Renka Episode 1 Mei

However, rather than comparing it to another show that has a similar premise and is also based on a game, let’s look at the first episode of Meiji Tokyo Renka.

We meet Mei, our heroine, in the modern world and quickly establish she’s a loner because she can see ghosts and as a kid she didn’t realise other people couldn’t and she got a reputation as a weirdo. It is a generic enough back story but surprisingly quickly established and the heroine seems to actually have a reasonably positive outlook despite her loner status.

Meiji Tokyo Renka Episode 1 Magician

Soon she meets a magician who puts her in a box and poof she’s transported into the past. This is where the anime kind of lost me a bit (though I’ll admit I wasn’t really buying in even from the start). Straight away she meets two of the pretty boys from the opening and we establish that her memory is a little messed up. While she remembers things like her headphones and names of certain historical figures, she needed to be told her own name by what I assume was the fox spirit.

What little personality heroine may have had quickly evaporates into the usual look at everything a bit blankly and answer yes to a lot of stuff. Oh right, I forgot our heroine likes roast beef. Does that count as a personality trait?

Maiji Tokyo Renka Episode 1 Mei

I didn’t actually hate this one, but past experience with this set up has convinced me not to have particularly high hopes. I’ll keep watching because even when these sorts of stories play out exactly as expected they are watchable but again, I don’t have much in the way of an expectation that this will be anything more than brightly coloured filler.

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Karandi James
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DANCE IN THE LIGHT (MEIJI TOKYO RENKA – YUMIHARI NO SERENADE THEME SONG)
DANCE IN THE LIGHT (MEIJI TOKYO RENKA - YUMIHARI NO SERENADE THEME SONG)

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Libra of Nil Admirari Series Review: Pretty Boys and Books

I can’t help but wonder if maybe this story would be more fun if it were interactive and allowed you to follow along with one guy’s story rather than chopping and changing to ensure each guy got screen time, but no chance of development.

Review:

Libra of Nil Admirari

During the spring 2018 season I chopped and changed a lot with my watch list. There were a lot of shows that potentially could have been interesting, or I wasn’t sure if they would stick, so I ended up watching quite a few shows without reviewing and then as I dropped other shows that didn’t work out I would end up picking them back up. Libra of Nil Admirari was one of those series. And really, the first episode defines the entire viewing experience:

  • It is reasonably unremarkable but has some potentially interesting ideas.
  • Characters are introduced but they don’t really seem to have any overly defined traits.
  • Small moments of danger are inserted to created drama but it never feels like things are actually going to get dangerous.

Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 1

Basically I ended up feeling luke-warm about this whole series. It didn’t help that mid-way through the run the subtitles changed from Ruze to Kuze (or maybe I just paid more attention) and I realised that most of the guys running around in the show I never knew the name of and was left looking it up at the ends of episodes if I actually wanted to talk about that character.

While that might make it seem like a fairly terrible viewing experience, it really wasn’t. The show isn’t bad at any point. However it fails to be interesting or memorable for the most part. The one thing it has going for it are the cursed tomes, and pretty much any episode that dealt directly with a cursed book had at least one moment that really grabbed my attention, but even this story-line ultimately didn’t go very far. While we do get to see who is behind the distribution of the cursed books and they even resolve the story well enough, it’s a pretty unsatisfying story when you simply look at that plot line without the clutter of all the issues the pretty boys bring into the story.

Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 5

And each of the boys does have a story to share. It might have even been an interesting story if they’d been given four or five episodes to develop it but instead we shift the focus to the guy of the week, learn a little about him, and then Kuze either gets herself in trouble and is rescued by him and somehow that results in him feeling better about whatever, or Kuze actually talks to them and makes them realise something about themselves, but either way it is usually resolved before I’ve had time to get invested. Some of the boys were lucky to have their story carry over more than one episode and Hisui was one of the few that actually had quite a reasonable build up. The tragedy of that was they then just kind of wrapped his story up because we were nearing the climax and it didn’t feel like he really had the screen time he needed to make his story actually work.

Libra of Nil Admirari - Episode 6

So what this mostly leaves us with is an anime that actually has some reasonable ideas, is pleasant enough, has a cast that work and individually are each potentially interesting but underused, and ultimately a fairly forgettable plot. The one thing this anime definitely has in its favour is a very upbeat OP and some interesting visuals during the ED, though I’m not entirely sure if either of these is enough to offset the mediocrity of what lies between those two things.

Libra of Nil Admirari Episode 12

As for a recommendation, I really can’t. If you happen to really love historical settings or reverse harems, then perhaps you will enjoy this more than I did, but mostly I think what was good about this show just served to highlight all the opportunities it missed. By the end I was mostly just wanting it over because I kept thinking about how it could have and should have been much better. So not inherently broken but neither is it recommendable.

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DamePri Anime Caravan Series Review: Take Standard Reverse Harem With Just a Touch of Parody

There’s something to be said for a anime that can be so silly and yet take itself fairly seriously when it comes to dishing out some serious drama. DamePri kind of walks a fine line throughout most of its run time but the end result is pretty entertaining. What did you think?

Review:

Given I’m not big on comedy and normally by mid-season any comedy I’ve picked up is starting to wear me down, my overall reaction to this anime is a bit of a surprise even to me. That isn’t to say that this anime didn’t have a mid-season slump. Episodes 7 and 8 were definitely a low point for this otherwise fairly charming if mostly harmless series. Yet, the final arc really let the drama of the story with political intrigue between all three Kingdoms play out even while the characters persisted with their comedy moments of Ani’s deadpan reactions, Narek’s narcissism, and Ruze’s general co-dependence on his prime minister.

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This isn’t a story that is easily explained given there’s a lot of interconnections but at the end of the day you don’t really need to get the bigger picture as this show doesn’t jump between times or locations but rather tells us what we need to know, when we need to know it. The focus is always on the characters, particularly the young Princes and the Princess as they form a fairly tight friendship (and a bit more given most of the Princes are crushing on the Princess who remains mostly indifferent to their advances but respects their growth as people).

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The political shenanigans are therefore just a backdrop to give these characters room to show off what they can do and while individually they might become annoying, the mix of ‘types’ being presented here works with none of them staying long enough to truly make you wish them harm (Narek is touch and go early in the series but as the anime continues, has one of the better character progressions). Of all the ‘main’ characters, Teo, Ani’s knight, is probably the one who is used the least in a meaningful way, though he does still get at least one cool moment in the final episode so he wasn’t totally forgotten in amongst substantially more interesting and colourful characters.

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Mare (Mea – depending on your subs) is by far my favourite character. A shut in and the brother of the shining Ruze, he talks mostly through his doll though that pretence fades more and more as the series continues and Mare is one of the most open about his feelings for Ani. Most scenes with Mare hit their mark for me and I quite enjoyed his screen time.

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Visually, this is bright and pretty but nothing exceptional. The character designs are distinctive and probably the only real point of note, other than the sparkles around Ruze at times. The same is pretty much true of the music with the ED being pretty cool but not a lot else of note.

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If you are looking for a reverse harem with a down to earth female character and an anime that isn’t afraid to make fun of itself or its obviously generically constructed cast, then you will probably have a bit of fun with this. It isn’t exceptional by any means, nor is it particularly bad. Some jokes will be repeated a few times too many and other visual gags will just kind of leave you rolling your eyes, but the feel good tone of this show and generally quick pace as you move from one set up to the next for the cast will mostly keep you entertained with more hits than misses.

I’d love to know what you thought so if you watched the show please leave me a comment below.

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Karandi James

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Sengoku Night Blood Series Review: Colourful Nothingness

Overview:

Yuzuki is a normal girl who one day gets transported to a different world that kind of resembles the warring states period in Japan only I’m pretty sure there weren’t werewolf or vampire pretty boys fighting that particular war. Turns out her blood resembles the missing Himemiko who used to protect the world with her power.

Review:

The first episode of this was pretty formula and ho-hum. Establishing scene of ordinary girl playing on her phone and then all surprised when she was transported to another world. However, instead of actively seeking any kind of explanation or answer she just kind of placidly goes along with whatever guy as the story unfolds. Really, I get that these sorts of stories aren’t exactly known for compelling story telling but this one doesn’t even try.

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Mostly, I have to wonder why the characters are vampires and werewolves. Other than the slight attraction to Yuzuki’s blood and one scene during the final episode where her special blood is actually used for something, it is almost completely irrelevent to the story.  The various pretty boys either have pointed ears or wolf ears and mostly spend a lot of time standing around talking or reassuring Yuzuki as she goes through the motions of getting carted around, protected, kidnapped, kidnapped from the kidnappers, collected, abducted again and then rescued. Yep, she’s useless from start to finish and has one of those completely bland personalities where her only defining trait is she wants to help everyone else out.

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Of the harem of boys very few of them actually have a distinct personality and there are so many of them that by the end they’ve all just blended into a very colourful mess of names and faces. Very colourful because they all took wardrobe advice from the costume designers of a final fantasy game. The excess of names thrown around in episode one didn’t bother me because they are mostly names we’ve heard in other stories set in the time period and I assumed (wrongly) they would eventually get fleshed out. Unfortunately, this show isn’t much interested in doing anything.

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See, they set the story in the warring states period and alternative history containing vampires or not, one would assume that the main focus of the story would either be the whole war thing or at the very least Yuzuki getting home. However, both of these points are strictly background or not addressed at all and we end up with a final fight where all the warlords team up to beat up some monstrous thing that just kind of appears to abduct Yuzuki while she stands around looking helpless.

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There’s also this weird filter thing they keep doing with the light when Yuzuki is looking at certain characters. I’m not sure why they use the effect or what its intended purpose was but mostly it made me rub my eyes to check and see if I was tired and the screen was blurring.

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Basically, this is watchable and maybe if you really like watching the story of a girl we know nothing about other than she is nice having conversations with guys we know nothing about other than they are a vampire or a werewolf and have the name of a Japanese historical figure, then maybe you might enjoy this. For everyone else there are plenty of better shows and this is a very skippable affair.

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Karandi James

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Amnesia Series Review

Overview:

A girl wakes up but doesn’t remember anything and for some reason seems to intrinsically trust whichever guy shows up in her life first.

Review:

Originally I reviewed this over on Crunchyroll immediately after watching it. Probably a bad idea (it was pre-blog) and I really didn’t like it very much. That said, I probably didn’t hate it as much as some people did. This review isn’t a rehash of the previous one  on Crunchyroll but rather a reconsideration after time and a rewatch which has more or less brought me to the same conclusion. Amnesia isn’t terrible, but it just isn’t very good.

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Any kind of accurate plot synopsis that tells you more than my overview is going to spoil what few plot points there are in relation to why she keeps waking up without her memory so I’m just going to point out that the plot makes sense in that the ridiculously shallow character archetypes wander through the events and usually respond in a way that makes sense (even if the characters themselves don’t). The problem with the plot is only that it relies very much on the central gimmick of a main character with amnesia and the suspension of disbelief when they reveal why.

If you haven’t already backed out of this review and are still reading I’m now going to turn my attention to the characters.

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My original description of the main character was ‘blank slate heroine’ and I’m sticking by that. She genuinely has nothing, not even memories. So forget the usual blandness of self-insert and just think of a Doll from Darker Than Black without the potential for evolving. And that leads me to wonder who this anime is for. The stereotypical hot guys (personifying various tastes)  dancing around in every other shot would indicate they are trying to appeal to women and yet the main character isn’t someone you can self-insert onto even if you wanted to (and given the personalities of a lot of the guys you would have to wonder why you would want to enter that world – this one is much safer at a distance). She is so hopelessly blank you almost pity her. So while a stronger heroine who could negotiate with the various men in the harem might have provided for an entertaining bit of escapism and a flirt with danger, the heroine here just makes you cringe and want someone to rescue her from her very existence.

Or maybe that was just me but my impression from first viewing to second actually got worse because the first time through I just found her bland and the second time I was genuinely wanting her out of most of those situations.

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The shock deaths that are thrown at you throughout the series are also kind of off-putting (and this is from someone who actually appreciates slasher horror). In amongst this warped romance these deaths feel incredibly out of place and because the heroine is so hopelessly defenceless against them it kind of hurts to watch. This isn’t the amusement of watching a bad horror in action, or even the thrill fo watching a good horror play out while you wait with anticipation for the next shoe to drop. This is just uncomfortable viewing at the best of times. I think it’s because it really feels like the writers at times felt that having the girl fall in love with or be played around with by the possessive guy or the jerk or the whatever wasn’t edgy enough so let’s add a dose of inconsequential death and that will give it some edge.

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My final major criticism with this show is that all of the main characters really are dressed like extras from a circus. It helps distinguish them from one another (because little else does) but you have to wonder how long it would take to put on some of those outfits and given the truly bizarre effect of them, why they would even bother (not a criticism of individuals who have clothes with flair but rather a criticism on ordinary character designs poorly disguised up by overdressing characters).

So if it seems like this is truly dreadful from that then I’m probably not being fair. Amnesia is perfectly watchable with a plot that works during the viewing and fails on the reconsideration. The characters are not good but with the exception of the central protagonist they aren’t so dreadful as to make this an unwatchable ordeal and even my main criticism of the protagonist is that she is an empty shell rather than a terrible character (though some would argue that this is worse).

On a personal level I really disliked the show. I hate the way the heroine is portrayed and romance in general and the ending (while conclusive enough) is not satisfying nor does it seem to justify the journey (though it is logical enough within the context of the show). But I can’t bring myself to actually say I hate Amnesia because mostly I am walking away realising that much like after my first viewing I’m going to forget this very quickly and move on to other anime that leave a more lingering impression. More importantly, I can kind of see that some viewers would enjoy elements of this show even if they aren’t for me.

If you’ve watched Amnesia, I’d love to know your thoughts.


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