Revisionist history, flash backs and forced memory retrieval…
okay, this episode got more interesting than I originally expected. Instead of
our usual opening we had a story about the first moon landing and alien
contact, though this was an interesting portrayal of those events. Then Robi
and Hachi land on an industrial planet where Robi’s ship apparently came from
so they can get repairs.
What follows is that Robi learns quite a bit about his
family, or seems to actually bother to think about them and realises a few
things, and then he goes to the anime fan club that exists on the planet for
the anime his grandfather apparently directed. Which seems fine until the crazy
fans realise that Robi actually has seen the lost episode and they decide to
forcibly extract it from his memory. That comes with a handful of side-effects
but no problem.
As usual, this episode doesn’t take itself particularly seriously
and despite the shady dealings going on it is difficult to imagine any real
danger to anyone. The pursuit of a missing anime episode is a suitably
ridiculous goal and the lengths the characters are going to suitably
exaggerated. All and all it just kind of works even while it is pretty
Also as usual, now that Robi and Hachi have visited the world they are blasting off on the next leg of their journey. I wonder if they will ever reach their destination or if Robi will ever actually pay off his debt? Though, honestly that would most definitely be the end of the adventure if it happened. I did start wondering what happened to Hachi’s storyline though. The characters that were pursuing him vanished and have been completely forgotten but I wonder if they’ll turn up before the end.
We’re continuing our space tourism trip and this time Robi
and Hachi find themselves on a planet that’s about to have an eel festival. However,
for the first time Yang and the others chasing Robi for his debt will actually
be on the planet at the same time. Expect lots of food made from eel parts,
various tourist activities and ultimately that Robi and Hachi are going to run
Hachi continues to be good value in this show as he embraces
more or less whatever comes his way. Whether it is being chased by a giant eel,
trying eel jelly, or taking a bath with an electric eel, it is very hard to
bring him down. While episode 6 of RobiHachi chooses not to get into his choice
not to access his money it remains a persistent plot point as Robi ends up
entering an eel race in order to earn money for the next leg of the journey.
Still, it will be interesting when the story finally does decide to deal with
On the other hand, Robi remains as straightforward as ever
with his obsession with girls and having a good time and absolutely no plan for
the future. As he’s chased by the debt collector he repeatedly says he will
settle up on his return to earth but nothing he’s done in this series indicates
he has any actual plan for accomplishing this. Just one hopeless dream that
will probably fail as miserably as all of his past get-rich-quick schemes which
are the reason he’s landed himself in this mess in the first place.
Still, while the plot of this anime is pretty sparse, the overall episode remained entertaining with us jumping from one event to the next and enough of the jokes landing to keep it feeling light. It is all over the top and silly but the bright colours, fun back ground music, and entertaining characters are keeping this one floating along relatively well even if it isn’t doing anything particularly amazing.
Want a giant robot that doesn’t have real weapons and then a
visit to Mars where the people are octopuses only maybe they aren’t? This anime
continues to be weirdly amusing even if the main conflict ended up being
resolved by an incredibly heavy handed parody of the standard ‘be yourself’
message. I mean, they pushed that hard enough it almost went straight past
parody and into the realm of not knowing whether or not they were actually
being half serious.
Alright, so we pick up from last week with Robi and Hachi
inside the transformed robot and bickering about who is the lower and who is
the upper half. Somehow or another they escape, though when they tried to fire
their weapon it just made a really bright light which seems a bit odd but is
explained by the end of the episode. Then they run away but because of fuel
issues they land on Mars which works in their favour.
The debt collector is really obsessed with getting Robi and
is prepared to chase him to the ends of the galaxy and kind of figures where
Robi intends to head and goes to head him off. What the debt collector didn’t
count on was Robi having to make a stop so the end result is that for now at
least Robi and Hachi have a bit of breathing room. I do find it interesting
though that Hachi intends to follow through on his job of collecting the money
from Robi even if he doesn’t appear to be in any rush to do that.
This one is really just easy, if bizarre, watching as Robi
and Hachi do the tourist thing on Mars and weirdness follows. Hachi ends up
arrested because he learns the secret about the octopus people and Robi goes on
a date that takes a turn for the strange. Ultimately they meet back up and the
episode ends with them heading off for what I guess will be their next random
adventure and if the episode title is anything to go by we’ll end up on Pluto.
Alright, from Mars to Pluto with the debt collectors a whole
leg of the journey behind in RobiHachi this week. Now, neither Robi nor Hachi want
to be on Pluto, however apparently they were so successful at helping out Mars
tourism, the representatives of Pluto decided that forcing them to help with
their PR was a great idea.
There’s a lot of silliness here involving old-time mascots,
Robi’s general gullibility when it comes to girls and breasts, as well as a
giant robot battle that essentially amounts to kids in a playground shouting
their super-secret moves and counters at one another because no one is actually
game to fight. As stupid as it all sounds, it actually works and ends up being
The favourite moment of the episode though has to go to the
inhabitants of Pluto fiercely objecting to having Pluto downgraded from a
planet to a planetoid and their argument that a day of the week should not be
named after a moon but rather after Pluto. Either that or listening to the
representative and his daughter try and list the actual appeals of Pluto which
amount to not very much given it is a frozen hunk of space rock and in this
case inhabited by the ugliest Penguin you ever did see.
What I do like is that despite the skit like nature of this
anime where so far each episode has kind of had its set up and then finished it
off, they keep making it clear where the journey is going next. At the end of
this episode Robi and Hachi are about to leave the solar system and it turns
out someone other than Robi’s debt collectors are tracking them. I’m betting it
has something to do with Hachi given they were tracking his credit and we know
Robi doesn’t have any, but I guess we’ll have to wait and find out who else is
after them and why.
Why hadn’t I heard about this anime? I mean, seriously, I
had no idea this existed and I still don’t really have a clue what it is about
despite watching the first episode but I know I want more of it. Even the MAL
synopsis doesn’t really help in this case because it mostly just summarises the
events that occur in episode 1.
However, what I do know is that despite being about a guy
who is clearly naïve, gullible and completely reckless (so the kind of
character I normally dislike immensely), I found Robi pretty charming as the
lead. And then, pairing him off with Hachi, the straight character who finds
life boring and predictable but wants to find something interesting, just works
beautifully in this episode.
I do want to point out that visually this one is really striking
and bright. It isn’t beautiful by any
means, but the bright colours and solid look to the whole thing just works for
the kind of story being told. The character designs are interesting as well,
though they might be pushing Hachi’s lack of interesting things a little too
far with his look. On the other end of the spectrum the debt collector is
probably incredibly over-designed to scream knock-off villain.
Really though, I just had fun with this. Comedy isn’t
usually something I get into but episode one of RobiHachi left me smiling and
wanting more. There were a couple of moments where I just had to stare at it
and wonder if they had just done something, particularly at the end where the
two fighter jets (that kind of come from nowhere) merge into a giant robot like
a 1980’s cartoon. It was just so ludicrous and yet at that point you kind of
expected something along those lines because it just felt like that kind of
So, fun characters, good pace in the episode, no clue at all
where it plans to go, but so far entertaining, while I had no expectations
going in, literally didn’t have a clue what I was about to watch, this one is
going onto my watch list.
The Price of Smiles is still definitely a mixed bag four episodes in, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that even if it doesn’t nail its narrative, I’m happy I stuck with it because it at least feels like it is trying a few things. After this week’s episode I’m particularly impressed with how they are handling Yuuki, post Joshua.
Does anyone else find it odd watching the opening and seeing Joshua smiling and waving in central position in so many shots given he lasted all of two episodes and gets some flashbacks?
This episode sees the Princess’s military still fighting a losing retreat as they try to hold a line and evacuate cities being attacked pretty much continuously. At first Yuuki is completely unable to cope with the new situation (keeping in mind that everyone has worked to keep her completely in the dark). She screams at them and asks why they want her approval now when they’ve never asked her before or told her anything. It is a legitimate complaint and one that probably wouldn’t come up under normal circumstances. She doesn’t just smile bravely and do her job but has to take the time to process the new situation.
We get a lot of backstory about the death of Yuuki’s parents and a lot of this explains how Leila came into the picture as someone close to Yuuki. Now this is where I felt they were laying coincidences on far too thickly as Leila was also in the explosion that killed Yuuki’s parents and during the course of events she lost her own family, including a blue haired daughter who I’m guessing is not so dead after all and isn’t that a convenient plot development, but Leila also saved Yuuki’s life when she was an infant.
Still, as interesting as learning what triggered the war all those years ago was, it wasn’t half as interesting as what happened when the Princess decided to actually step up. She went to where the leaders were directing the evacuation and listened as they told her they’d used the technology she’d already told them wasn’t for war. Instead of flying off the handle she accepted that it was necessary to save lives.
Then we realise that in the evacuated city there are some civilians making their own stand. Yuuki asks the military leader to save them and he sends in a team to do just that, and they all get killed.
In so many other stories they’d have narrowly saved the day or come up with some clever plan. But here, under-resourced and under-pressure, they try and they fail and the soldiers sent in and the civilians are killed. Yuuki’s face sells the whole scene and it is curious to wonder just how many more blows she can take emotionally given her whole world has literally been upended over the past few days.
The Price of Smiles may not be amazing or revolutionary, but there’s enough interesting ideas being thrown about here and the cast work well enough. I’m having a good time with it and if it actually can develop these ideas without feeling rushed in its run then it could end up being fairly solid. Even if it doesn’t, it has so far proven entertaining enough.
After one of the best premiere episodes I’ve seen in a long time, episode 2 of The Promised Neverland had a lot to live up to, and while I can’t say it 100% did, it was still a very solid episode that has definitely moved the plot and characters along nicely while still managing to ooze atmosphere and tension. The majority of the episode focuses on Norman and Emma considering how they are going to escape as Mother gives a few indications that she’s got her eye on them and messes with their heads a little, before Ray joins the two in their plans. It doesn’t sound all that exciting but much like with episode 1 it is all about the execution. (Some spoilers below.)
However, this is where I did pick a few faults this week. Where episode one had the consistent clock motif throughout the episode, and that is still present in episode 2, a lot of the visual effects this week seem a little disjointed or don’t seem to quite hit the mark. Notably early in the episode where Emma is sitting up in her bed and we seem to be looking at her from the clock’s perspective and the scene sways back and forth like a pendulum. It is kind of clear they are trying to show us how unsettled she is and how unstable things are and yet mostly I just felt queasy and like the scene went on too long. It didn’t pack enough emotional impact for the time it took.
The second effect that I had to look at a couple of times and still didn’t really click with was when Mother and the other children walk past Norman and Emma back into the house and they are trailed by after images. I’m not entirely sure what tone this was supposed to hit but it was another moment where it didn’t draw me into the scene but rather pushed me out of the moment and had me puzzling why they went with that effect rather than following the characters and the scene.
Though, with the exception of those sequences, I really liked how this episode was put together. Again we have some very interesting angles used on the characters to show their emotions and relative power, there’s a lot of thought put into the music and sound, and mostly the pacing works exceptionally well at making you feel uncomfortable and waiting for the next moment and then lingers just that little bit longer before moving on.
For me, Emma was the real champion of this episode. Not so much because I like her as a character. She’s pretty generic in terms of the big sister character who wants to be cheerful and protect her family. I like her more because of what she has done for the plot.
Because of Emma and her shock and inability to just act like nothing happened, Mother seems suspicious of Emma and Norman. This is the first factor that escalates tension in this episode and ensures we are very carefully watching Mother all throughout the episode to see if she actually knows or is just suspicious. If Norman alone had been the one to find out about Conny, there’d be nothing happening in a lot of these scenes because he’s beautifully playing the role of someone who has no knowledge.
Also, the escape plan that Emma and Norman are cooking up involves saving everyone. All of the children. As Ray points out when he is included in the conversation, that’s stupid. It is nearly impossible and even if they all escape how will they survive afterwards. And honestly, Emma, Norman and Ray believably could escape in a couple of days after snooping around some. But then, where would the excitement be?
No, Emma puts her foot down hard and insists everyone is going to escape. She won’t sacrifice anyone. And Norman sides with Emma because despite being super-logical, he likes Emma and he’s 12. Emma’s decision and her lack of consideration for any compromise, turns what is already a steep task into one that might be insurmountable.
For other shows wanting to raise emotional and narrative stakes, take notes from The Promised Neverland. You don’t have to randomly and gruesomely kill off your cast to make things seem more dangerous. Yes, this anime did kill a character in episode one to establish the overall stakes, but without a single drop of blood being shed, episode 2 managed to build on that drama and craft a compelling path for the story to take. I am very much looking forward to where this story goes from here.
I kind of wanted to go with a Peter Pan reference for the title. Something along the lines of, “These kids really won’t grow up,” but it seemed a little bit facetious particularly as I’m going in blind to this series. While I did buy the first volume of the manga it is currently sitting in my reading backlog though after this first episode I’m kind of desperate to go devour it because while I know not everything is out yet this season, but this anime is kind of the one I’m most excited about right now.
There was a lot of hype in the pre-season about The Promised Neverland, but after the snore-fest that Angels of Death turned out to be I have definitely become better at filtering out pre-season chatter. I went in to this episode expecting very little and instead found a well directed, well structured, and beautifully paced premiere that instantly drew me into this story and these characters. Every single scene feels meaningfully thought out and nothing takes up more screen time then it should. The establishment of the happy orphanage with the understanding that things are not what they seem is beautifully portrayed and while you may not know what the actual reveal is going to be, you have a fair idea of Conny’s fate.
See, this isn’t relying on shock factor. It isn’t relying on a jump scares. It is genuinely building up a world where things are genuinely horrific for the characters and while the audience is let in on the wrongness of the world through a myriad of visual cues, we discover exactly what that wrongness is at the same time as the characters in a sequence that manages to make our protagonists look as small and vulnerable as they actually are in this world.
While I won’t deny things might go south for this series, the first episode was a fantastic introduction to this world. It revealed enough to make it feel purposeful while giving us a million questions. At the same time, it has given me the confidence to believe the answers to those questions are going to be explored.
I will definitely be watching this one. For an anime title tagged with horror, this one comes across as fairly smart and so far has been incredibly engaging, and I will admit I am far more intrigued by the sci-fi aspect after the second half of the episode. All and all, this one has hooked me and I am hungry for more.