RobiHachi Review Episode 9

Stealing Childhood Memories

RobiHachi Episode 9

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 ridiculous.

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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.

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RobiHachi Review Episode 6

Eels in Space

Episode 6

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 away.

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 that issue.

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.

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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.

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RobiHachi Review Episodes 2 + 3

Ground Roots Space Tourism?

Episode 2

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.

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Episode 3

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 pretty funny.

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.

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RobiHachi Review Episode 1

What did I just watch?

Episode 1

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.

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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 show.

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.

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Rare Case When Naive Heroism Doesn’t Win The Day

The Price of Smiles Post Title Image

The Price of Smiles Episode 4 Review

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.

The Price of Smiles Episode 4 Yuuki

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.

The Price of Smiles Episode 4 Princess Yuuki

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.

The Price of Smiles Episode 4 Leila serves Yuuki

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.

The Price of Smiles Episode 4

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.

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Why Emma’s Lack of Compromise Is Both Foolish and Brilliant

The Promised Neverland post title image

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 Review

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.)

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 Mother finds a kid.

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.

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman and Emma

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.

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman and Emma

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?

The Promised Neverland Episode 2 - Norman, Ray and Emma

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.

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The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1
The Promised Neverland, Vol. 1

The Promised Neverland’s First Episode Promises Much, Will It Deliver?

The Promised Neverland post title image

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Review

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.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Emma and friends

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.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Conny

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.

The Promised Neverland Episode 1 Emma and Norman

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.

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HAIKARAWALKER BY SPLATOON 2
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