Grimm’s Notes The Animation Series Review

The quality of the story here is certainly grim.

Grimms Notes Series Review

In case it hasn’t become clear as I work my way through the anime I watched during the 2019 Winter Season, I’m jumping back and forth between anime I enjoyed a lot and anime that kind of had a bumpier ride. Last week was the slice of life delight My Roommate is a Cat so unfortunately this week we’re crashing down to the unintentional disaster of a narrative that is Grimm’s Notes. Admittedly, I am running low on anime I actually enjoyed last season, but I do still have reviews of The Promised Neverland and Endro to come out so there’s a few delights still in store.

Loki - Grimms Notes Episode 12

What should be obvious by now is that I don’t really want to write about Grimm’s Notes and yet I feel I kind of need to. I did in fact watch the entire season and while we had an intriguing premise and an entire minefield of potentially interesting questions to ponder about morality and the human condition and free will, the anime literally does nothing with any of that. Instead it becomes an exercise where the protagonist’s are right because they have to be and they don’t even try to convince the villains, let alone the audience, that they have any grounds for that conviction.

Grimms Notes Episode 1

Basically the story involves a whole bunch of story zones where every one living in them has a book that essentially tells them what is going to happen in their life and that is the script they follow. Our main characters are all characters who, for whatever reason, have blank books. They travel from story zone to story zone and stop chaos tellers from messing up the stories.

Grimms Notes Episode 10 Curly

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However, where that becomes problematic is that they set Red Riding Hood back on a path to be devoured by a wolf, set Snow White and her step-mother up to repeat a tragedy, and basically override any one’s objections that maybe the story shouldn’t be followed.

These are the characters we are supposed to support.

Grimms Notes Episode 9 Loki

I wouldn’t mind so much if they ever explained the consequences of not getting the story back on track. We get an ambiguous statement about story zones collapsing but are never told what that looks like or what happens to the characters in the story. Do they all die? In which case, sure, maybe keeping the story on track is a good idea. But it isn’t established, nor does anyone actually ask.

Alice - Grimms Notes Episode 11

Even the villains don’t bother to make their case for why giving characters free will might be a good thing. For once the villain’s actions are actually something that seems kind of logical even if there are dire repercussions, and they never even try to justify themselves.

Instead we get the heroes saying they’ll set the story right and the villains who stay in the shadows and make ambiguous comments but do little.

So the plot is a bust, and the characters are worse. Visually this is fine. Not good or great or particularly interesting, but I’ve certainly seen worse and some of the fights are actually kind of fun to watch even if the motive behind them is lacking. The music is unexceptional and honestly completely forgotten almost as soon as the episodes end.

Grimms Notes Episode 3 Young Ex

Honestly, this was such a great concept and handled so incredibly poorly. The biggest issue is the crushing disappointment of realising that the writers clearly had no clue what to do with their own idea when it came to the anime. I have no idea if the source (which I think is a game) did a better job or not, but I do know this anime is incredibly skippable.

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Kenja no Mago Review Episode 9

Happy Times

Shin and Sicily - Kenja no Mago Episode 9

Kenja no Mago Episode 9

I genuinely don’t expect much from Wise Man’s Grandchild which is good because what we get has been pretty average even for those who like generic isekai fare. That said, episode 9 of Kenja no Mago needs a pat on the back for jumping straight past the blushing dating and confession episode and into an engagement. While I might in the back of my mind see this as setting up a sudden and tragic death for Sicily, the overall tone of the anime doesn’t support that so mostly this is just pleasantly forthright about their relationship.

However, we have plenty of training camp shenanigans still to go with this episode. Whether it is Shin learning float, or anti-gravity magic, the rest of his classmates getting suited up in even more over-powered protective gear, or taking on a catastrophe class demonoid, there’s a lot going on.

One thing I do need to point out is that visually this anime is getting sloppier by the episode. While the magic still looks great and individual expressions on characters or the characters in close up look relatively good, the rest of the anime, particularly group shots and distance shots, look at absolute best like they were hastily completed and more like they were deliberately cutting corners as facial features disappear entirely and heights between characters just suddenly alter. While some of this is played for comedic effect, some of it really just seems badly done.

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Then again, Kenja no Mago doesn’t seem to be trying to compete on visuals and it isn’t really trying to be more than an average isekai story. It remains fun enough each week, the main cast are engaging enough, and while I still think they are potentially setting up the death of a character as a trigger for Shin to go berserk (that would be an interesting change in tone) mostly this is pleasant and undemanding viewing.

At some point though I am going to have to write a post about how this anime has framed the majority of its female cast because to be honest there’s an entire post in that.

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Attack on Titan Review Season 3 Part B Episode 7

So What’s In The Basement?

Attack on Titan - the basement key.

Attack on Titan 3B Episode 7

After so many big moments in the last couple of episodes, Attack on Titan made some smart calls at the start of this episode. Seeing the relief tinged with guilt Eren felt as Armin woke and Eren hugged him was perfect. Seeing Levi, the one who made the final decision, still seeming to be at war with his own emotions clearly conveyed just how big a deal the previous moment was. And then Armin. His horror at what had happened, his disbelief that he was chose and not Erwin, and then his near panicked response as he realised just what weight was getting dropped onto his shoulders.

All of this conveyed through a single scene that brought together the threads from last week when the characters were nearly at each other’s throats over the decision. Hange in particular asked the pertinent question of Eren and Mikasa. Whether they think they can do what they like provided they take the punishment?

Then we move from this quiet moment on the walls to the equally quiet and eerie walk through the town. I loved the juxtaposition between the young Eren and Mikasa running through the streets with the still and somewhat shocked older pair that walked almost mechanically toward the site of Eren’s house. The moment lingered uncomfortably long as we saw scenes of the people who used to live there before they faded away again leaving only broken buildings and the plants that were over-taking the town.

However, we then get to the moment we’ve been waiting a very long time to see. The basement itself.

I wasn’t actually surprised when the key didn’t work in the door. It seemed like the typical thing Attack on Titan would pull. So many characters dying to get this boy and this key to this door and it didn’t even work? Seemed like exactly the kind of thing this story would do.

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Levi’s response was suitably measured given the situation and then we began the search through the basement in earnest. There’s really no words for how it felt waiting for them to find something. Knowing that even if it wasn’t going to be what the characters wanted, there had to be something in that basement or the story was literally going to fall over. Waiting then and knowing that the episode was going to conclude before we had more than a small taste was kind of torture.

Attack on Titan Season 3 - Opening the book

I will point out that while I’m not a big fan of the ED this season, at the end of this episode I absolutely appreciated the journey for these characters shown throughout the closing credits. This season really is building on every step of that journey and it seemed perfectly fitting this week. Not to mention, you kind of have to hang around for the after credits sequence this week.

And now we wait for the next episode again.

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Amazing Stranger Review Episodes 9 + 10

Nona’s Jealousy Fights Back

Amazing Stranger Episode 9

In this episode of Amazing Stranger, Nona’s character takes a turn for the even more pathetic. It starts out innocently enough with Nona dreaming of Bouida growing old and then dying. Understandably, for a robot girl that is pretty rough, however she then persists in lying to Bouida about ongoing dreams in order to go on more dates with him.

I definitely find the moments of this anime that focus on Nona’s jealousy, the least interesting. While this episode wasn’t so much jealousy as just a general selfishness (originally born out of fear) it still brought out the pathetic side of Nona’s character. With the other two girls reduced to commentary for most of the episode there wasn’t really much to celebrate here.

However, there was some amusement to be found in the manner in which Bouida attempted to cheer up Nona as he took her to an amusement park, an arcade, shopping for a model of her space ship and then star gazing. Each activity is so cliché in its own way and yet kind of perfect for the story here.

For once though there seemed to be no gratuitous fan-service, unless Nona grovelling for forgiveness when her lie is revealed counts as fan-service. Which is odd because this episode doesn’t seem to advance the overall plot of what the point of the characters coming to life is or seem to be for those looking for those fan-service moments. It just leaves me wondering if we were just supposed to find this episode charming in its own right but then it doesn’t do anywhere near enough to reach that point.

Oh well, I’m not exactly looking for this anime to be amazing. Amazing Stranger remains watchable enough even if there isn’t a lot more to it than that.

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Amazing Stranger Episode 10

Did I say that the fan-service was reduced? Silly me. Episode 9 clearly just stored it all up for a hot springs moment in episode 10 of Amazing Stranger. Then again, despite where they could have taken this, much as with previous fan service servings, Amazing Stranger keeps things relatively tame.

The girls get into discussing a few bits and pieces when it comes out that Nona doesn’t remember how her anime ends. Apparently that’s going to be important toward the end but in the meantime we have a tank girl from some mobile game show up who tries to capture Nona. Shadow Nona appears and the fight is on.

Nice costume.

There’s a minor moment where we jump away from the fighting at the hot springs to see Bouida’s friend tracking down the source of the living figurines but the episode pays little to no attention to this aspect so instead let’s focus on Shadow Nona’s emotional situation where she feels jealous of the other girls and of Nona.

Ultimately Bouida asks Nona to watch the final episode of her anime with him and the episode ends. It isn’t great but it isn’t bad either and we did progress the plot, such as it is.

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Fruits Basket Review Episode 10

A Different Kind of Shigure

Fruits Basket 2019 - Shigure

Fruits Basket Episode 10

Wow, Shigure is a much greyer character in the 2019 Fruits Basket than in the older version, and I think I love it. He was always a little morally ambiguous and his motives were never overly clear but he seemed more playful than manipulative in the older anime. However, this episode brings his personality to the forefront for the viewer and it leaves me wanting more.

Fruits Basket Episode 10
We still don’t know what Shigure’s goal is or what his relationship with Akito actually is but they are definitely making me interested.

Underpinning Shigure’s expansion as a character is the silliness of Valentine’s Day and Kagura seeking out Kyo, but as has consistently been the case with this adaptation the humour is down played to allow the drama come through. Kyo’s genuine pain and fear, Yuki’s hesitation, Tohru’s desire to help but not knowing how all get moments to shine. Even Kagura seemed more solid in this episode than in her introduction even though we still had one sequence where she pursued Kyo at the school.

The real victory of the episode is the ground work it is laying down for the future. The Soma curse sits behind everything playing out here including Shigure’s duplicitous nature and the vague threats to Tohru’s future happiness. While nothing specific is revealed yet there is a definite heavy atmosphere hovering over every line of dialogue, every look, and every pause as the Soma’s keep their silence.

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The double date between Kagura, Kyo, Yuki and Tohru was suitably cute and Tohru’s enthusiasm for the idea was adorable to see. I loved the scene at the cinema where the girls got very caught up in the movie meanwhile Kyo and Yuki looked like they’d rather be anywhere else.

But the scene that will really stick with me, and probably most viewers, is Shigure speaking with Akito. They are really building tension beautifully around Akito and I can’t wait to see where they take it.

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Senryuu Shoujo Review Episode 9

Eiji’s Day Out

Senryuu Shoujo Episode 9

Instead of following Nanako, this week we follow Eiji as he goes about a typical day while on Summer vacation in Senryuu Shoujo. Admittedly, I don’t think most of us start a typical day by dropping our phone in ramen and then run into literally everyone we know while wasting time in town before being invited back to our ‘not’ girlfriend’s place, but really this seems pretty typical for these characters.

This is actually Nanako’s father’s thoughts and not Eiji’s.

Honestly, there isn’t a lot to say about this episode as we simply encounter Eiji’s ‘big-sis’ character, the fortune teller, the club president and then the art girl in succession. Each encounter is cute enough but not particularly note-worthy as it simply reinforces their standard characteristics. Then Eiji runs into Nanako.

The highlight of this anime continues to be the adorable nature of any sequence between Eiji and Nanako and even if this encounter ended up being emotionally overblown when Nanako’s father met Eiji, it couldn’t take away from how cute the two are. The conversation between Eiji and Nanako’s mother was also cute, but now we know Nanako has just always communicated through poem and we still don’t know why.

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This was very much easy viewing but didn’t really bring anything new to the table for Senryuu Shoujo.

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Afterlost Review Episode 8

Little Brother Goes Boom?

Afterlost Episode 8

On the surface, episode 8 of Afterlost actually seems like a step forward. The characters are in a perpetual state of movement as all the main players finally push forward with a plan to reveal the machinations of the evil chemical company and the episode ends with a spectacularly close call to a second Lost event occurring. But then you think back and realise not one new bit of information came to light, with the exception of the fact that the only reason Souma didn’t blow up earlier was because his sister was hanging around him.

I’ll give Afterlost credit for that. It managed to keep things feeling like we were getting closer to something big and while on the surface it looks like we got it, really this just consolidates what we already knew. The conspiracy is vast and even with the public being let in on the information, with confessions from key players, with everything needed to end the farce, in walks in the commissioner and lets those who are apparently responsible walk. More than that, bows his head to them and apologises for the inconvenience.

They are however going to need to offer some real information soon. Like why Souma started turning into a monster just because his power was unstable and why that may have triggered a second Lost, and what actually happened when Yuki got there. Also, how was Akira back this week grabbing Yuki when she, once again, got thrown off the scooter? And why does Takuya keep riding that thing around without a helmet given the sheer number of times in the last 8 episodes he’s been tossed off of it?

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On the brighter side, I did enjoy this episode more. It didn’t leave me looking at the clock and seeing when the episode would end. I had a sense of satisfaction and forward momentum even if the reflection afterwards made me realise we hadn’t really gotten anywhere.

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