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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Evil or Live Episode 1: Can We Switch Protagonists?

Overview:

In this modern society, a new kind of “illness” is striking young boys and girls; Loneliness, disbelief and outrage push this generation to get more or more attached to Internet and technologies. The experts called those symptom “Net Addiction”. To prevent that, a certain Rehabilitation Facility has been set up to “Lead the young man back to the right path”. Enrolled to treat is addiction, Hibiki had no idea that this Rehabilitation Facility is nothing more than a prison. In this place where it’s not permitted to escape, how will Hibiki challenge despair in this hell?

– From Crunchyroll

Review:

I read a number of reviews of this before I watched the episode so I kind of knew what to expect. At the same time, a lot of those reviews were by people who found the basic violent nature of the setting off-putting. While the thought of any school actually embracing such actions as a means of ‘reeducating’ is despicable and clearly the violence in this episode is there for shock factor, the basic setting isn’t a deal breaker for the show so far, mostly because this episode didn’t seem to want to have the audience side with the instructors in instigating the violence but also didn’t make much effort to try to get us to sympathise with the ‘students’.

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Unfortunately what that leaves us with is an unsympathetic lead who so far has moved between horrible, delusional and pathetic at various points in the episode and while that actually makes the events somewhat more palatable it doesn’t really help get you into the story. Mostly because the synopsis claims Hibiki is going to try to challenge things and yet this episode seemed to imply he was merely going to be another character’s patsy and he could later come into his own but so far he seems too pathetic to ever succeed in that sort of role.

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While I’m not really sold on the characters or the premise (though haven’t been thrown off by them either), the visuals do some interesting things. Note, in this case interesting doesn’t actually mean good because while there are some great shots and cuts at times that actually help the story along, a lot of the visuals leave you feeling like they were trying for a look they haven’t quite pulled off.

Still, I kind of feel this one is worth at least another episode though if they actually start trying to justify the instructor’s cruelty I am definitely checking out.


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Tokyo Majin Season 1 Series Review: It’s Like Someone Gave the Scooby Gang Super Powers But Forgot About Fun

Overview:

During senior year an apparently mysterious new student transfers in to some academy. And then a groups of kids get superpowers. Seriously, that’s all I got out of this though I guess there was some destiny/fate thing going on as well if I’d been able to pay more attention toward the end.

Review:

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet because to be honest, by about episode 8 the only thing keeping me watching was that I refuse to review a series I don’t finish, and having sat through eight episodes of this train wreck, I very much wanted to have something to show for it. Pretty much, avoid. Sure there are zombies, demons, cackling villains, superpowered teens, and a mish mash of religious and spiritual references tossed about in a way that should actually appeal to me on every level, and yet this is a horrendous chore to watch.

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Starting with the characters, the group of five from the school have zero chemistry. Admittedly, at the start they aren’t a group and the new kid and the bad boy aren’t too bad together, and the other three aren’t so bad as a group, it is just when they put all five together or start trying to do intersecting relationships the whole thing falls flat fast. In some fight sequences I’m sure the writers even forgot certain characters were in particular scenes because they would literally just stand and do nothing (not even call encouragement) until there was no one else left standing and then maybe they’d get involved.

The bad boy is the bad boy because he speaks frankly to his teacher, walks out of class (like straight out the window), and gets into fights on school grounds because why not. This is really incredibly lazy characterisation and we have the same issues with each of the other characters. New kid has no personality. Zip. Unless he’s standing with someone, you could almost just pretend he wasn’t in the scene. Which given he’s apparently important you might want to give him some personality trait. The good girl is only seen as such because everyone else refers to her that way. We seldom see her do anything that would actually make us think she’s a goody two-shoes. The other two characters have their school club related personality traits and their friendship/attraction to the other one or the good girl and basically that’s their entire personality. There’s almost no growth for these characters in the early episodes and by the time you see some positive changes, it is a little bit too late to make you care.

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The story is a mess that heavily relies on throw a random monster/villain into the city and go crazy for a bit. Have the teens sniff out the issue. Some sort of fight sequence where they are royally smacked down. Go regroup and have a pep-talk training session. Give up with the planning and have someone in the group go off to face whatever it is. Everyone else will then decide they have to go too. Some other fight sequence where they may or may not actually win. Occasionally remember that there actually has been some severe collateral damage (read many many victims in the city). Honestly, there is no way anyone still lives in that town after all those incidents. They packed up and moved on.

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Then we have our cackling villains and occasional other superpowered individual. They delightfully add nothing to the story of note except an occasional fight or bit of less than witty banter. Possibly these characters could have been more interesting, but they receive about as much attention as the main cast do, which is very little.

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There’s apparently another season of this. I won’t be starting it. I’d love to know your thoughts on this series if you’ve watched it. Maybe someone has a better opinion of it?


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My Hero Academia Episode 35: Aizawa’s Always A Teacher

Review:

There’s a lot of terrible teachers out in the anime universe, fortunately for Todoroki and Yaoyorozu, Aizawa isn’t one of them. Even when he’s hunting them down, he still takes the time to reflect on their progress as students and to give them the push they need to overcome their own difficulties. As much as he likes to play the tough guy, when it comes to his students, he is always a teacher.

Still this episode sees us go through three different tests and after the inglorious defeat of the two muscle heads in round one it seems like most pairs have at least discussed possible plans.

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The teachers aren’t going all out but they aren’t playing overly nice either so it is kind of nice to see the students rise to the challenge.

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Still, this episode hits you with the emotional high of Yaoyorozu finally getting to do something other than fret or worry about her own inadequacies. It has been a long time coming but she’s finally joined the many other awesome female characters in this show that get to stand on their own two feet and be counted. And seeing Todoroki follow her lead and learn from his own mistakes was also pretty cool.

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Now we just have to hope that some of our other favourite characters don’t bomb out next week. This show continues to be a bundle of fun as even the most mundane of events (a school exam) comes to life when these characters take the stage.


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Princess Principal Episode 9: East Meets West

Review:

We kind of knew it had to come along, an episode that focusses on the fact that Chise is actually Japanese and that there are different cultural expectations. Fortunately, this episode elicits more laughs than groans and actually manages to make for some great character moments even while it plays on some fairly obvious cultural clichés.

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Of course, Chise is the focus of this episode and the narrator, bringing her unique view of the other characters to the forefront as well as highlighting the dynamics of the group. And again, this could have felt really trite and it is definitely a nod to the strength of the writing that this episode pulls it off and makes you feel you’ve gained a greater understanding of all the members of the team through this episode.

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Still, the bully triggering the duel was a fairly clunky plot device, even if it was ultimately well used. As he isn’t a character we’ve ever seen before or one we are likely to see again, there was little emotional investment and you kind of knew that he was more or less a fly to be swatted (though it was still pretty satisfying when Chise landed that hit – despite the fact that I now want to know what her ribbon is made out of).

Overall, a fairly good episode in what has been a pretty great watch this season.


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Gamers Episode 1: Loners Going to Lone

Overview:

“Would you like to be with me… in the Gamers Club?” Amano Keita is a perfectly mediocre loner with no particular distinguishing features other than his love for games. One day, his school’s prettiest girl and Gamer Club President Tendo Karen suddenly calls out to him.

– From Crunchyroll.

Review:

There’s this thing I really hate about stories where they make out that being alone is the single worst thing that can happen to a person and the loner is almost always ‘cured’ when someone or something reaches out to them and helps them see themselves in a new light and gives them some confidence. While some people are alone and desperately want someone to reach out to them, there are genuinely people who are happy with their life being pretty spartan in terms of interactions with other people. So where does Gamers come into this? As a first episode it was going directly down the path of so many other stories, and then Amano turned the pretty blonde down.

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Admittedly, I don’t think his rejection is actually going to stick given its kind of clear he is going to join the club, but it was so nice for him to assert that he was happy playing games on his terms. It means, when he inevitably does join the club, this show doesn’t have to be about transforming him as some sort of charity case. More importantly, it gives his character time to figure out whether he really wants to join and why rather than being dragged into it by the pushy blonde which is the set up of so many other stories.

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I’m really sitting on the fence with this story. I’m not really into high school anime about clubs but I do love the sound track so far (gaming sound effects are releasing strong nostalgia vibes) and there have been enough moments of genuine amusement to make this seem like a promising pick up for the season. Still, this one is a wait and see.


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Princess Principal Episode 1: This Might Be A Fun Ride

Overview:

At the end of the 19th century, London, the Kingdom of Albion has been split into East and West sides by a giant wall. Five girls attend Queen’s Mayfaire, a conventional and prestigious school. Under the guise of regular high school girls, they act as spies under cover. Disguise, reconnaissance, infiltration, car chases… Each girl uses their own set of special skills to dart around the world of shadow.

– From AnimeLab

Review:

This show was one of the few titles that has been getting quite a lot of praise this season that I actually have access to so I was looking forward to checking out the first episode. Even so, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it that much. It kind of reminded me a bit of Joker Game, but with a bit more energy and (let’s be honest) more cute added in to it. The combination might work but more importantly, it looks like we have a far more focussed cast so hopefully I won’t feel as disconnected from the show as I did when watching Joker Game.

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I really like the set up in this first episode. There’s still a lot we don’t know about why these girls are spies or what really caused the conflict or what the end game is, but you don’t feel confused while watching these girls carry out their mission. While one of the girls is of the overly cute, squeaky voice variety that might get on my nerves, the others all seem quite interesting and I look forward to learning more about them.

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That said, right from the word go, this show is making sure we know it isn’t all sunshine and roses just because young girls have taken the lead roles. This had some dark moments and it doesn’t look like we’re heading for a happily ever after any time soon. Definitely going to keep this one and see how it goes. It may not end up being amazing, but this first episode certainly hit the mark.


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Akashic Records of a Bastard Magical Instructor Episode 12

Review:

This show kind of gave its best and worst in this final episode. It reminded us of the ridiculous outfits and ways it has treated its female cast even while making us laugh as Re=L threatens to take down Leos.

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It gave us a truly absurd wedding dress and what did they do to Sistine’s hair?

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We also had a villain whose motives were poorly explained and who seemed fairly mentally unbalanced which has become something of a trend for this series.

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That said, we also got a really cool magic fight and Glenn got some of his slightly cooler moments fairly reminiscent of the episode where he first started actually teaching magic and not being a complete waste of space.

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All and all, this episode concludes the whole Sistine marriage to Leos thing (which was kind of concluded before the episode only, who knew) and they at least remember that the Akashic Records are in the title of the show, but otherwise we’re still none the wiser about most of the other aspects of the world or storyline. While I didn’t hate this, I wasn’t exactly sitting on the edge of my seat either.

I’ll complete a full series review of this shortly.

Akashic Records of a Bastard Magical Instructor is available on Crunchyroll.


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Akashic Records of a Bastard Magical Instructor Episode 11

Review:

In case it hasn’t become clear, Glenn really doesn’t have any shame but at least he understood his opponent and the tactics he would be up against and devised a suitable counter, even if he didn’t play to win but merely bring the duel to a draw.

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That said, his basic personality is all over the shop. I get that they are trying to give us this whole tragic back story so we can see Glenn as just a young mage full of ideals that got crushed by tragedy and his current obnoxious persona is merely a cover for deep inner pain but to be perfectly honest I’m not buying it. He’s just too obnoxious.

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That said, plot armour apparently broke this episode at least temporarily because while Glenn may have taken the class combat to a draw he later gets beaten fairly badly and from Sistine’s voice over it seems he slunk away. I somehow doubt that’s the case and it’s probably all part of some plan to have Leos reveal his hand so they can round up everyone all at once and somehow everything will work out, but maybe this show will surprise me. Maybe.

Akashic Records of a Bastard Magical Instructor is available on Crunchyroll.


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Akashic Records of a Bastard Magical Instructor Episode 10

Review:

Okay, right from the start my biggest issue with this show was Glenn. He was lazy and unforgivably sloppy at his job (which effected the well being of the students in his care), and basically his attitude sucked. Despite backstory which tried to excuse it, that didn’t make the initial impressions of this character any better, however he actually did start doing his job and was fairly competent at it once he felt inspired to do it. So this episode?

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They pull this exact same scenario three times and each time you just can’t help thinking how much better things would be if Glenn just never came back. While I get that a lot of this episode is set up for the next confrontation, when they play Glenn like this I hate him and to be honest there isn’t a lot else to keep you watching the show at the moment. Any interesting curiosities with the magic have ceased to be a point of discussion, the students have more or less just become part of the background, and the larger mysteries around Rumia have essentially been put on hold. So what I’m left with is a show where I don’t much like the comedy moments and a main character I despise. I really would pull the plug on this show except (there had to be one) that part of me actually wants to know what the deal is with the cult and Rumia.

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Though it is quite likely that Glenn would be more tolerable this episode if Sistine didn’t make some truly insane choices and you can argue she doesn’t do well under pressure (there’s certainly precedent), but there’s very little that is threatening enough to have her declare that she’s her teacher’s lover.

Akashic Records is available on Crunchyroll.


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