Dies Irae Episode 2: Why Do They Always Enrol in the School?

Review:

I will actually talk about the episode in a bit, but the end of this just made me wonder why? Why do two of the whoever they are (guessing villains but who knows given lack of explanation) enrol in Fuji’s school? Even if they are interested in him they have already proven more than capable of finding him whenever so why don a uniform and waste your time there? Surely villains have better things to do with their daily lives than poorly masquerade as students?

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Anyway, the rest of this episode was surprisingly coherent though it is clearly still in set-up mode and we still have answers to almost nothing except some explicit link between the whole guillotine dream, Fuji, and the murders around town. We also get a reasonable action sequence even if it mostly involves the protagonist getting beaten up.

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Still, there seemed to be a lot of fillery fluff early in the episode though possibly the discussion about the town and about their dead parents and the church and all those other points may later become actually important. So two episodes of actual story plus a prologue and I’m still on the fence with this. It has potential and so far significantly more watchable than episode 0 made it out to be, and yet I’m not quite ready to commit.


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March Comes in Like a Lion Episode 24: Showing the Frustration and Complications of Living

Review:

This week returns us to the world of Shogi and to Rei’s complicated relationship with Kyouko (and I was really happy to see her this episode as she was the character I most wanted to learn more about this season). Also Nikaido returns and is as annoying and yet sweet as ever.

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We see the final title match between Souya and Kurakuma which ends in an incredibly frustrating manner for Kurakuma (leading to the amusing scene at the end after they discover despite his calm exit from the match he later kicked a hole in the wall). But more than the match we learn about Shimada’s current mental state after losing his match in the previous season and we see more about Gouto, who previously has been seen simply as a villain but now becomes a more nuanced character (still a jerk though).

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Still, it is definitely Kyouko’s return that really made this episode for me. So far we’ve seen her almost exclusively through Rei’s lens and this episode allows us to see her interacting with Gouto free of any Rei filter and what we see is still questionable but less ominous than previous perceptions might have led us to believe.

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I hope we continue to learn more about these characters as well follow along with Rei’s journey. The more I know them, the more I want to know, and I’m just going to have to admit I’m still completely in love with this show.


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Kino’s Journey – The Beautiful World Episode 3: Keeping Things Grey

Review:

Kino’s Journey so far has been a very laid back kind of story in term of its pace and tone and yet the actual events and ideas are pretty big, if a little generic. This week isn’t any different as it has Kino join a travelling country that leaves a trail in its wake.

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The opening of the episode shows us that something has gone wrong with Kino’s travels though we aren’t clued in as to what, but the sense that something had changed is only reinforced when Kino is asked how long they wish to visit the travelling country. Previously, Kino has strictly stayed somewhere for three days but here they suggest they might be staying longer than that.

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Ultimately the travelling country comes across a wall which is defended by those who live in that country. After ‘negotiations’ break down (negotiation mostly being the travelling country saying they were going to pass through and the other country telling them they couldn’t) the travelling country pretty much just cuts through and then rolls through the wall and then over that country’s agricultural area (which is apparently better than houses, though what they are going to eat if you crush their farms is a question that the show chooses deliberately to ignore) and proceeds onwards swatting aside any and all attempts to stop them.

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The obvious comparison to developed nations using superior technology and wealth to pretty much do as they like wherever they like is not subtle nor is the remark about the other country that reached too far with its wall and toll to cross the plains. The end result is something that is actually fairly pleasant to watch but uncomfortable to think about which kind of makes it pretty affective. Kino’s motive and actions are ultimately explained as is their reason for staying with the travelling country for longer than three days and once again we see Kino is moved almost entirely by self-interest in this instance. I’m fascinated by this story so far and while the questions it raises are hardly unique, the way it avoids providing an actual judgement on events (other than Kino’s) is kind of interesting.


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Just Because Episodes 2 + 3: Imagine a Transfer Student Came and Nothing Happened

Review Episode 2:

It isn’t exactly news that I don’t much like slice of life or slow romances, stories set primarily in high school or anything that is particularly slow paced… and yet then there is my absolute devotion to Kimi ni Todoke which more or less hits every one of those criteria. And while Just Because doesn’t yet have anywhere near the charm or draw that Kimi ni Todoke has, I remember the first time I watched that I wasn’t particularly impressed during early episodes but I was strangely drawn to the show. And by the time the first season ended I was in love.

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I’ll admit, I don’t actually expect Just Because to ever rival Kimi ni Todoke in my heart (given none of these characters have quite the same charm as the ones in Kimi ni Todoke) but at the same time, this is some pretty pleasant viewing. Certainly episode 2 has some lacking moments but the genuine charm and familiar interactions between characters just kind of keep drawing me in to this story even while it doesn’t exactly go anywhere.

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I’m not getting my hopes up too high, but I am honestly enjoying this so far and I’m kind of hoping for some low key entertainment out of this.

Review Episode 3:

This episode gave me a very Haruhi Suzumiya vibe (hence the title of the post) except that it was kind of like what would happen in Haruhi if she didn’t actually have god-like powers. A transfer student has come and the photography girl is latching on hard but he’s pretty ordinary and not particularly interested in what she’s selling.

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Otherwise, a lot of this episode went to Soma and his pursuit of the girl who seems pretty oblivious to anything resembling friendship or romance as well as the commentary or assistance of those around him.

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Really, not a lot actually happens in these episodes and normally that would bother me, but the jumping between individuals and groups as more and more connections are revealed or formed is keeping this from feeling terminally slow and everything is charming enough to leave me feeling pretty happy by the end of the episode. I also kind of like Izumi as the transfer student even though he’s pretty much determined not to get involved in any of the relationship hijinks swirling around him. Okay, I just like protagonists who are low energy observers and I should probably just admit that outright.

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All and all, I’m pretty happy with how this is going. The animation quality isn’t amazing but when the characters aren’t walking or running it isn’t overly terrible. I will admit, a few sequences have had me shaking my head but mostly it is watchable and won’t detract too much from the romantic/teen drama unfolding.


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Evil or Live Episode 2: Could There Be One Nice Character In This Story?

Review:

This week we move away from the instructors and their deliberate acts of cruelty (though they do get one fairly ominous looking scene) and instead we focus on the cruelty that people can inflict upon one another once they start forming packs and seem to have absolutely zero empathy. It wouldn’t be so hard to watch except that each new character you meet seems to be more warped and twisted than the previous, to the point where for a moment I kind of thought Hibiki wasn’t so bad (then of course I remembered he’s an obnoxious little rat of a human being).

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This is certainly not comfortable viewing as we have female ‘students’ publicly groped and stripped and deals involving females sleeping with a male in order to gain access to a phone. Though one has to wonder where the instructors were during any of that and how purple hair has seemingly unlimited information access (which opens up a whole other series of issues).

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Visually this remains odd and from a story point of view, uncomfortable. Yet it is kind of like watching a train derail in slow motion so I somehow don’t think I’m going to look away just yet particularly because despite finding every character in this show so far to be hideously obnoxious, I still actually kind of want to know what happens to them (even if what happens turns out to be very bad things).

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So, not recommending this one but not dropping it either.


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My Girlfriend is Shobitch Episode 2: And Dropped

Review:

No surprise here that this one didn’t last. Once again there were some sweet moments between the two main characters utterly and completely lost amongst over the top and poorly executed lewd humour. Though I think the girl rubbing the broom stick against her own crotch was more or less the final nail in the coffin for this one (complete with close up).

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Shows like this confuse me because they don’t seem to go far enough to really appeal to the ecchi crowd but they go too far for the casual viewer to really be overly comfortable with the viewing experience.

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While I’ve certainly seen worse than this, I am definitely not the audience for this anime and so I’m leaving it right here.


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My Hero Academia Season 2 Series Review: Shining the Light on Heroes and Villains

Overview:

There’s no denying that season 1 of this show made me sit up and take notice when I picked it up mid-season after reading many positive reviews. The second season continues Midoriya’s journey (as well as the rest of the students’ journies) to becoming a hero.

Earlier I covered some of the ideas in this series in Friday’s Feature: Not a Character, an Idea.

Review:

With the exception of Bleach (which even I’ll admit isn’t all that great when you break down the story) I’ve never been much for straight shonen action shows. I can’t stand the shouting, the long drawn out fight, the pointless arcs where a villain is built up to be beaten down, the random hero power ups, and all the other silliness that tends to infect those kinds of shows. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good action story, I just prefer something a little less aimed at teenage males. Surprisingly, My Hero Academia kind of has all of the qualities of a shonen story that usually annoy me and yet, much like Bleach before it, instead of turning me away it kind of manages to draw me in a little bit more with every ridiculous fight sequence.

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The first season was utterly charming and just plain fun to watch, and season 2, despite launching into firstly a tournament arc, and then a training/power up sequence, before going into an exam sequence (all of which should have killed any fun or momentum for me) managed to not alone maintain that sense of fun, it also fleshed out a very real and meaningful dialogue around the nature of heroes and villains. All of this while characters continued to grow and develop and come to a greater understanding of themselves.

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Now, there is nothing new to be found in My Hero Academia. We have seen each of these characters before and asking the question of what makes a hero is pretty much story-telling from cave-man days. So it isn’t the novel content that is keeping me fixated. It is all about the delivery.

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This world and these characters are bright and larger than life. Their actions, their ideals, their emotions, everything is heightened unapologetically and then dropped into a world is becoming more and more real with every point we learn about it. While we don’t have Quirks in the real world (or at least not that I’ve noticed), there is something extremely relatable about this social media, popularity focused society that has taken a noble calling (being a hero) and made it a vocation. One that is highly sought due to monetary rewards and social recognition. All of this makes for a very grand and highly energetic narrative even when not a lot is actually happening with the main characters. I’m pretty sure these students could make catching a bus entertaining at this point.

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Part of this is because of the sheer number of characters and their diverse personalities. While some of the less important classmates are still pretty one-note, a lot of these characters have had their moment in the spot light and have started to become far more interesting as the series has progressed. My Hero Academia is very big on giving characters clear motivations for their behaviours and attitudes and ensuring the audience understands these. That way, when a character begins to change or grow, or even just acts out of character, it is immediately apparent and the impact is even greater because we’ve understood why that trait was significant in the first place.

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It also helps that the characters are just fun to spend time with. Even Bakugo, the overly angry and shouty one, is always great fun on the screen. If he could learn to focus some of that rage he could be a truly awesome asset in the future, though at the moment he’s more of comic relief and occasional bringer of tension to an otherwise fairly happy group of kids.

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This season saw Todoroki and Uraraka both gain ground as characters. Each had a number of moments to shine throughout the series and learned from their own actions and the actions of others to progress toward their goals. Seeing the these two characters finding their way and seeing how that changed their relationships with other characters in the story, felt very rewarding. Both kind of gained ground in terms of being my favourite characters from this show by mid-season.

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However, the real spot-light this season needs to go on All Might and Midoriya’s relationship. If growth along a journey was the theme for the season, Midoriya truly personified this as he fought hard to gain control of his ability and also really considered why he wanted to become a hero. Early in the season he loses a fight in the tournament to Todoroki, not necessarily because he couldn’t win (although arguably at the time he couldn’t) but because he needed to help Todoroki. Midoriya chose a tournament loss to ensure a greater victory, helping a friend. And that more or less defined who he was. But, there are greater dangers coming and All Might is trying to prepare Midoriya for those. We see the greatest change in Midoriya, spurred on by Bakugo, when he actually strikes All Might during the exam. Season 1 Midoriya couldn’t have even tried to strike All Might. This transition from idolising All Might, to working to surpass him as a symbol of justice, is just another step on the road for Midoriya though for the audience, there’s the added tension of kind of suspecting All Might’s time is more limited than Midoriya knows. All Might is definitely holding back from telling Midoriya everything so that is one puzzle piece we’ll all be waiting for in the next season.

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Turning our attention to the villains, we see the Hero Killer rise up during this season and his impact on both the narrative and the characters is enormous. Even other villains are launched into renewed vigour because of the Hero Killer’s actions. For me, this part of the season was by far the strongest and most interesting. Mostly because the rest of the season focused on the growth of the future heroes but didn’t really give them a real world challenge to face. Though, the final episode this season leaves little doubt as to where the story is going.

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To begin bringing things to a close, I wasn’t overly thrilled with the openings this season. They worked and they definitely grew on me after several episodes, but initially I was kind of underwhelmed by them. Also, some of the fights in both the tournament and the exam arcs just felt like they were there for the sake of completion rather than for adding anything into the story. But these are minor complaints when considering the season as a whole.

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Season 2 gave me more of what I loved about season 1, and continued to grow both the world and characters in an  immensely satisfying manner. While I would have liked a little bit more from the narrative as we seem to be moving very slowly forward, this is a minor nit-pick to what is a fun series to get into.

I’d love to know your thoughts on My Hero Academia so be sure to leave me a comment below.


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Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Episode 3: Points for the Episode Title

Review with spoilers:

I’ve made it fairly clear that so far Zodiac War hasn’t exactly been amazing viewing and this week isn’t an exception. That said, I actually enjoyed this episode significantly more than episode 1 or 2 because the Chicken was actually kind of a fun character: you know, before they inevitably cut down the one character we’ve actually learned about during the episode.

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This show has clearly set its formula in stone with giving us glimpses of a character’s past and the messed up life they have had, as well as their internal thoughts about the other characters and the fight, before terminating their life in a gory and what seems to be an attempt at surprising twist at the end of an episode though given it has now been repeated three times that leaves something to be desired.

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However, the Chicken had far more personality and was far more interesting to learn about than either the Boar or the Dog, though no better at making me sympathetic for the ending we all kind of saw coming. If we get another plus out of this episode it is that the Boar is finished for good and isn’t a walking zombie boar anymore.

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Although, as the post title suggests, this episode has a pretty fun title though ultimately that gives away not only the death of the Chicken (though I guess that was kind of inevitable) but also the one who will strike the blow:

Cutting a Chicken with a Beef Cleaver

Clever? Yes. Leaving any room for any kind of surprise in the episode? Not really.

And once again we learn nothing of why the zodiac’s are fighting or who is in charge of setting up this match or even what they actually achieve if they win. I was pretty sure I was going to drop this show this week but then I kind of liked the episode despite having issues with the overall story (or lack of overall story other than ‘kill each other’). Still, looking at the good points of this show (it looks great, the character designs are interesting if a little crazy at times, there is definitely potential for the story, and well it is hard to really stuff up a battle royal too much) I’m probably keeping this on my watch list and maybe it will grow on me.


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Land of the Lustrous Episode 1: A Visual Feast

Overview:

In the distant future, a new immortal and genderless life form called Gems populate the Earth. The 28 Gems must fight against the Moon Dwellers, who attack them regularly to abduct them and to turn them into decorations. Each Gem is assigned a role, such as a fighter or a medic.

Being only 300 years old, Phosphophyllite is the youngest of the Gems and has no assignment yet. He wants to help to fight the Moon Dwellers, but is too weak and brittle for battle. One day the master of Gems, Kongou (Adamantine), assigns him the task of creating a natural history encyclopedia.

– from MAL

Review:

From the very beginning this episode is both beautiful and interesting. The premise is odd enough that it draws you in and as the episode progresses small details about the world and the characters are introduced. Never too many that you feel you are being subjected to an information dump, but a steady trickle of ideas that mean that by the end of this first episode it feels like enough has been stated to get the story started.

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While not much is known about any particular character at this point, the few we have met have been given definite personality traits that will hopefully flesh out with time. The shared desire to have a purpose in life kind of permeates all the interactions but never feels particularly heavy handed at this stage.

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However, where the show shines is in its visuals. While the CG may not work for everyone and the characters move oddly at times, given they are anthropomorphized gems it actually really works and the world we’ve been introduced to is beautiful. Fight sequences are stunning and the entire thing just feels well thought out from a visual point of view.

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Really glad I got to check out this episode and looking forward to the next one.


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200 Word Anime: Black Clover Episode 3

The third week of the Autumn anime season and  Weekend Otaku and I are sharing our thoughts on the third episode of Black Clover. If you missed it last week, here is our post on episode 2.

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Karandi’s Review:

I really don’t want to harp on about Asta’s voice and yet as I reflect on this episode the one thing that stands out to me is just how annoying it is. Over and over again he shrieks out repetitive dialogue for no apparent purpose and the inflection he puts on so many words is at best described as ear grating. This wouldn’t be a problem in a minor character, but Asta’s continuous screen presence with barely a minute between lines means that the audience suffers an ongoing assault by that voice.

Otherwise this is pretty standard train and prepare for the upcoming exam. Meanwhile everyone is still pretty much tearing Asta’s chances down (logical maybe, except this is shounen so there is really no way that he won’t eventually succeed even if he did fail the exam there would be some weird event after and he’ll get to move forward). This show has now had three episodes and while it is passable, it is really not going out of its way to impress.

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Weekend Otaku’s Review:

When I saw the intro to this episode I thought the show was getting into something epic until I realized it was a sort-of flashback. If that’s what Asta imagined the Wizard King to be like, I can’t blame him for being enthusiastic. In any case, that sort of sequence might have served better for the series intro rather than the protracted start of a journey that this episode offered. While not a whole lot is actually happening, that’s not necessarily making the series bad. It’s kind of similar to how Hunter X Hunter started, but where that series had some charming characters to start off with (and some actual motivation for Gon), this one has a protagonist that really challenges viewer enjoyment.
I don’t know if Gakuto Kajiwara is to blame for the assault we’re getting on our ears each week or the directors for having him deliver that same annoying scream over and over, but just like Karandi (and I’m sure all of you as well) I’m having a really hard time putting Asta’s yelling aside and trying to focus on the rest of the episode. As for his character, I can see what they’re trying to do through his conversations about how someone’s station in life shouldn’t limit them. It’s a nice sentiment, but it’s been a bit on the nose so far and there’s little else to garner any investment in him.
Thanks Weekend and just a reminder, if you missed our review of The Ancient Magus’ Bride episode 2 you should hop on over to WeekendOtaku’s site and check it out.

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