Kenja no Mago Review Episode 6

The typical ‘work together’ message undermined by super powered teen.

Episode 6

Kenja no Mago shows us the right way to blow off some steam… Okay, maybe not but I have to admit that Shin made that look so satisfying even if the results were kind of destructive.

The war ended up being pretty abrupt, much like its set-up really. One minute they are fighting and then the empire realises there are demons in their capital and return just in time for the guy who declared war to be killed by Schrom in a fairly confronting early scene this episode. I will point out, I’ll give the demonoid points for at least knowing that if he wants to make sure someone is dead you do have to kill them yourself. Most villains never get this point down which is why they end up losing.

Finally a villain that makes at least a little sense.

Still, the realisation that there are plenty of demonoids around and that they aren’t exactly what the original description of them made them out to be, gives this narrative plenty of fodder for future confrontations for Shin. We already know Schrom at least managed to survive a fight with Shin and so overpowered or not, if Shin has to fight all of them he’s going to struggle alone.

Which might be the whole point of the get along and work with friends message of the rest of the episode.

The Knight School and the Magic School run some joint training in the forest but the Knights and the Magicians absolutely don’t get on despite clearly having complementary abilities. I think the point was supposed to be for the group to learn how to get on but then somewhere along the way that message got dropped and we got another round of isn’t Shin awesome as a horde of demons stormed toward them and Shin wiped them all out.

This is just asking to become a meme.

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Naturally he was in a bad mood because the Knights had started fawning over Sicily and we got another round of the two kids blushing and denying but not denying a relationship.

Honestly, as silly as this anime is and as cliché as a lot of the developments are, it actually just makes me smile while watching and I’m quite enjoying it. There’s certainly no argument to be made that this is brilliant. The static images with panning during the war sequence and demon invasion of the city displays the corner cutting and averageness of the visuals, even if the off-model faces from a distance on almost every character didn’t, but that doesn’t actually take away from the enjoyment of the overall experience.

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Attack on Titan Review Season Three Part Two Episode Four

The Last Charge

Levi and Erwin - Attack on Titan Season 3 Part Two

Episode 4

In my review of episode 2, I said there was a real pleasure in seeing the humans occasionally looking like they might come out on top. The key phrase being ‘looking like they might’. See, realistically what hooked me into Attack on Titan in season one was how utterly brutal it was and seeing the humans getting beaten down and driven into a corner. The humans who broke and the humans who stood and fight and the utter indifference the titan showed regardless of the character of the human in front of them.

Simple and yet effective destruction and absolutely devastating to the human characters.

Therefore, it kind of makes sense that episode 4 of season three part two (that is such a mouthful) hit me very much like the very first episode of Attack on Titan. While for a lot of season three (part 1 and now part 2) I’ve been finding reasons to enjoy it again and new respect for the characters, this episode actually managed to bring back the awe and the very real horror of the situation the characters are in.

There were so many moments that just left me breathless and I watched many sections multiple times just to try and absorb and process what had happened. It wasn’t that the episode was fast paced. Arguably, it is quite slow in how it moves forward. It is more that each event is so pivotal to this fight and there’s so many emotions attached with each section that my brain just froze and I had to watch it again.

Titan Eren vs Colossal Titan.
Eren tries to take on the Colossal Titan.

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Whether it was Armin freezing in his role and then throwing the torch to Jean in an act of desperation, Mikasa’s reaction to Eren getting kicked through the air to land atop the wall, the scouts freaking out as yet more groups are wiped out in an instant as the beast titan flung broken boulders at them, or Erwin’s ‘motivating’ speech before the last charge, every single moment just hit hard. Everything is so raw and human as characters faced with an insurmountable challenge either crumble or attempt to rally for a last act of defiance and it is beautifully brutal in its delivery.

I really wish I knew what was with this guy’s hair.

It has been a fair while since I’ve really gotten this swept up in an episode of Attack on Titan but realistically there isn’t a thing about this episode I would change. It just worked. And while we’ll once again have to wait for the next episode to really see the outcome, I’m actually happy for now. I need the time to contemplate and digest and that is the mark of a really solid episode of anything.

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Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon Review Light Novel Volume 11

MY HERO ACADEMIA - 2018 ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK
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The higher the rise, the harder the fall.

Bell’s reputation took a serious hit at the end of volume 10. The people of Orario saw him stand between adventurers and monsters and in the end they now see him as someone who puts his own needs above protecting them from monsters. However it isn’t just Bell who has been affected as his whole familia is now on the back-foot with everyone wanting to take their shot at the family that rose to fame so quickly.

It is a really interesting turning point in the series as prior to this Bell was looked down on for being small or inexperienced. Then he began his rise to fame and gained respect from so many people and other adventurers that while there was jealousy and some hostility, for the most part Bell has had a steady climb in status over the previous 10 books.

Volume 11 turns the tone of the series on its head. Seeing Bell despised is actually kind of hard, particularly when as the reader you know what bell was actually trying to do and you also know that even if he explained it very few would listen to him or take his side. And that’s the strength of this volume. Bell is in a position where he has to gain back some of the trust that has been lost or it is more or less the end for his familia, but at the same time he can’t turn his back on the xenos. This conundrum nearly paralyses him and makes any action seem more or less impossible. Harder still when even those in his familia are starting to wonder if the cost of helping the xenos was too high.

That said, Bell has drawn the attention of quite a number of gods through his meteoric rise and they aren’t happy to leave things as they stand either. The question is, will their meddling make things better or worse and will Bell be happy with the outcome?

While earlier books in this series were fun and exuberant as Bell launched into new adventures and took on new foes, volume 11 brings a much more serious tone to the entire story. It is no longer a simple matter of monsters bad, kill the monsters, and Bell as a character is forced to grow beyond the naive youth he’s represented previously.

The situation also strains a lot of the pre-existing relationships and forces characters to question the basis of those relationships and whether or not they can continue. Particularly strained is the relationship between Ais and Bell as Bell put himself directly in Loki familia’s way during the previous volume and the conflict between them isn’t over as Loki familia works to restore the status quo.

On the one hand, I kind of preferred the light and energetic tone in earlier volumes but on the other, I really enjoy watching Bell grow up. This volume gives him a lot of time to really question his goals and what he wants and I feel in terms of the greater narrative it does an excellent job even if it wasn’t quite as fun individually to read.

Despite the more contemplative tone, volume 11 does deliver a thrilling climatic battle on par with any that we’ve seen so far. Bell is going to get pushed to the limit physically and emotionally before this book is done and while this volume does bring a nice conclusion to the current arc, it also leaves you wanting the next book.

Clearly I enjoyed reading volume 11 of Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon and I’m looking forward to seeing Bell after this book to see what lasting impact these events have had.

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Fruits Basket Review Episode 7

Changing Emotions Like the Seasons

Hatori and Kana - Fruits Basket 2019

Episode 7

The story of Hatori and Kana was one of my favourite moments in the original anime series so I will admit to being both excited and nervous as to how it would play out in the 2019 version of Fruits Basket. Fortunately, this episode was everything I could have wanted and all the characters, Momoji, Hatori, Honda and Shigure just shine throughout their interactions.

Hatori and Honda - Fruits Basket 2019

I loved that this episode gave us a real sense of the size and wealth of the Soma clan. This is something I felt was missing from the original anime and it always felt like we were told about the clan rather than seeing it. However, in a few brief moments and a little bit of dialogue Fruits Basket manages to impress upon Honda just how big the Soma’s are as well as give the audience a sense of the family. The visuals while Momoji and Honda are walking to Hatori’s house begin the process and then as Momoji explains about the inside and outside people the rest of the picture falls into place.

However, the true star of the episode is Hatori. I always really enjoyed his character and his backstory is great. He’s a character I wanted to know more about in the original, because even though we know about his first love there’s so much we don’t know about him and his ability to erase memories that was just never explored in the original anime. I really feel the way he was set-up in this episode was fantastic and I’d love to see more of this Hatori in future episodes.

Shigure’s appearance was timely and amusing as always and the relationship between Shigure and Hatori was delightful to see. With the story so often focusing on the younger members of the clan, seeing Shigure and Hatori and realising that they’ve gone through a lot of the same things that Soma and Momoji are going through was great and I look forward to more of them as well as some of the other characters we’ve yet to meet.

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While this episode didn’t have any explosive moments it focused very much on the family and what Honda’s presence may mean in the future. It gave the whole episode a subdued tone but one that leaves you wanting more. Absolutely lovely episode.

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Amazing Stranger Review Episodes 5 + 6

Battle of the Female Figures

Episode 5

As bizarre as it is to say, episode 5 was kind of fun. They kept going with the plot set up last episode where Haruto was drawn into Bellnoa’s game and the two of them travel about before taking on a castle. Some fairly standard things happen (or standard based on the premise of this anime) in that Haruto is attacked by a hot ninja girl and he and Bellnoa get close around a camp fire. Meanwhile Nona is watching on and with the aid of another living figure is ultimately able to enter the game.

What I particularly liked about this episode was Haruto’s realisation that the reason Bellnoa didn’t want to finish the game was because she was obsessed with travelling around and levelling up and part of that was his fault for the way he played the game. Now I feel bad for every character I’ve ever created because I know I don’t exactly go straight to the finish and there are more than a few games in the backlog that I’ve just never made it to the end of.

Now, there is definitely fan-service here as the demon king of karma blows Bellnoa’s clothes clean off of her in a fight (amazing how that happens in anime and movies without injuring the person) and there’s also Haruto’s eyeing off the ninja girl but nothing extreme.

This seems a sensible reaction.

Realistically, episode 5 is about as much as you can expect from this anime. It progressed the plot, continued to set some stuff up for future development, fleshed out Bellnoa’s character, and allowed Nona to play the role of concerned wife. It all just kind of worked even if it wasn’t particularly amazing.

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Episode 6

Episode 6 of Amazing Stranger is absurd, but given the context of the show where figures and game characters have come to life it really isn’t too much of a leap that the two characters fighting over Haruto would challenge each other to a fight and then spend the rest of the run time trying to one up each other in terms of sleeping next to Haruto, whispering in his ear, feeding him and so on. It is most definitely pandering to a particular audience and yet still kind of amusing.

What makes this work is both Bellnoa and Nona remain true to their character types in how they take on each of these challenges and ultimately the back and forth between the two is always kind of energised and entertaining. Haruto remains the dullest of the three as he just gets to play the embarrassed geek while the girls fawn over him.

I will say the scene with the two whispering sweet nothings into his ears was probably the icing on the cake. For my pick, I’d go Bellnoa has the better voice for whispering with Nona’s high pitch getting in the way of really creating the experience, but listen to the scene yourself and see which whisper works best for you.

While the winner was a foregone conclusion from the start, and the competition was ridiculous and contrived drama for the sake of it, I can’t say I disliked this episode. Amazing Stranger is well aware that it isn’t meant to be taken seriously and so just went with their premise this week and the end result was something that entertained but doesn’t work if you start asking any questions of it.

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Senryuu Shoujo Review Episode 6

Leader of the non-rebellion.

Episode 6

There’s definitely something seriously wrong with Nanako’s family, particularly her father. I mean, I get he’s playing the overprotective daddy trope but how on earth could you reach the conclusion that Nanako is rebelling. And why is that his biggest issue with his daughter when she never actually speaks. Surely that’s of greater concern than whether or not she’s becoming a thug.

I did like the lead in this week with the club president and Eiji sharing pictures of their pets. One thing that I always find weird in any kind of show is when someone has a pet rabbit. Given it is illegal to own rabbits where I live and they are considered an invasive pest, the idea of keeping one as a pet just strikes me as bizarre. More or less like owning a pet cane-toad.

The moments with Eiji, his sister and Nanako at the park are cute but that’s about it in terms of what you can say about it Unless you want to get into the repeated rabbit poo joke that just seemed there to fill run time as it was pretty much nothing.

With the majority of the episode focusing in on Nanako’s father freaking out about his potentially ‘rebellious’ child though there just wasn’t enough cute going on to off-set it. And while we did resolve the issue at the end and everything ends with a sparkling smile, there’s just too much that doesn’t sit right. I think I prefer this anime when it focuses on the school stuff and it is rare for me to say that.

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Afterlost Review Episodes 3 + 4

The conspiracy grows.

Episode 3

This was a bit strange, which is a weird way to start a review about an anime that wiped out a whole city and has ghost like people and helicopters chasing motorbikes. And yet, Afterlost continues to be a bit of a perplexing story mostly because I’m still not entirely sure what story I’m getting. The supernatural search for the truth makes sense, the buddy/journey thing works, the mystery might eventuate into something that works and the action elements, while not awesome are fine enough.

But this episode we got something else again and I guess it adds to the overall mystery, I am just not sure what.

Geek, Takuya and Yuki are still heading toward Lost and Takuya is conveniently on the phone with the red-head from last week. Convenient because it means we can cut the phone off in a blast of static to show where they have crossed into the most recent phenomenon. And what is that? Well, we’re in a closed space with a time loop because an idol regrets breaking up with her group.

I’ve been wondering for a bit what the idol group have to do with anything given they’ve had a presence in the previous two episodes, but even after we spent most the episode on them, I still legitimately have no understanding of what they are contributing here. Two things did come out of this clearly. The first is that the group definitely disappeared during Lost and the second is that it seems like their producer knew they were going to disappear before it happened. How and why, who knows, but it is just another piece of information to process.

However, Takuya and Yuki then part ways with Geek who is mourning the fact that changing things inside the closed space didn’t actually change the past – good reason to bail on your friends – right before Takuya and Yuki are attacked by Yuki’s brother which results in her making things go boom.

It is difficult to say if I like this or not but at this point I’m intrigued. That said, it is intrigue that could easily tip into frustration if it is all disjointed without any gain so I guess we’ll see what episode 4 brings us.

Meanwhile, I’m going to ponder the tag for this anime: Where I End and You Begin.

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Episode 4

And now we’ve clearly moved into police procedural story as we follow a plucky lieutenant who had follower her father into the police force investigate the events surrounding Lost mostly due to personal interest with her father having been caught up in it. This is actually a pretty interesting episode as she gathers bits and pieces of information and ultimately links a chemical company to Yuki and Lost. However, we were warned members of the Agency were everywhere at the start of this episode, and that is proven true by the end.

On the bright side, okay it is a pretty dark kind of bright side, Takuya didn’t instantly bounce back from his injuries. He’s actually taken some fairly critical damage this time after being thrown off his bike, yet again, and then psychically beaten up. I’m amazed his arm is still functional but still he isn’t exactly brushing this one off without a scratch given he spends most the episode hospitalised.

Yuki also has some things to think about. You know, her thought to be dead brother being alive and psychotic, her existence leading to Takuya being injured, herself being used for medical experiments among other things. Honestly, Yuki is coping a lot better with all this than a lot of anime characters would and certainly significantly better than most people. However, once again we see that pretty much everyone who comes in contact with Yuki ends up in trouble given the police girl didn’t really have any leads left until Yuki opened up to her.

I don’t feel like this episode got us any closer to actual answers but it did do a lot to consolidate bits and pieces we’d heard before and dropped just enough new titbits to keep me wanting to know more. It is very effective at this whole bread crumb game. Though I’ll end up sorely disappointed if at some point I don’t end up with a loaf of bread.

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