Sengoku Night Blood Series Review: Colourful Nothingness

Overview:

Yuzuki is a normal girl who one day gets transported to a different world that kind of resembles the warring states period in Japan only I’m pretty sure there weren’t werewolf or vampire pretty boys fighting that particular war. Turns out her blood resembles the missing Himemiko who used to protect the world with her power.

Review:

The first episode of this was pretty formula and ho-hum. Establishing scene of ordinary girl playing on her phone and then all surprised when she was transported to another world. However, instead of actively seeking any kind of explanation or answer she just kind of placidly goes along with whatever guy as the story unfolds. Really, I get that these sorts of stories aren’t exactly known for compelling story telling but this one doesn’t even try.

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Mostly, I have to wonder why the characters are vampires and werewolves. Other than the slight attraction to Yuzuki’s blood and one scene during the final episode where her special blood is actually used for something, it is almost completely irrelevent to the story.  The various pretty boys either have pointed ears or wolf ears and mostly spend a lot of time standing around talking or reassuring Yuzuki as she goes through the motions of getting carted around, protected, kidnapped, kidnapped from the kidnappers, collected, abducted again and then rescued. Yep, she’s useless from start to finish and has one of those completely bland personalities where her only defining trait is she wants to help everyone else out.

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Of the harem of boys very few of them actually have a distinct personality and there are so many of them that by the end they’ve all just blended into a very colourful mess of names and faces. Very colourful because they all took wardrobe advice from the costume designers of a final fantasy game. The excess of names thrown around in episode one didn’t bother me because they are mostly names we’ve heard in other stories set in the time period and I assumed (wrongly) they would eventually get fleshed out. Unfortunately, this show isn’t much interested in doing anything.

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See, they set the story in the warring states period and alternative history containing vampires or not, one would assume that the main focus of the story would either be the whole war thing or at the very least Yuzuki getting home. However, both of these points are strictly background or not addressed at all and we end up with a final fight where all the warlords team up to beat up some monstrous thing that just kind of appears to abduct Yuzuki while she stands around looking helpless.

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There’s also this weird filter thing they keep doing with the light when Yuzuki is looking at certain characters. I’m not sure why they use the effect or what its intended purpose was but mostly it made me rub my eyes to check and see if I was tired and the screen was blurring.

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Basically, this is watchable and maybe if you really like watching the story of a girl we know nothing about other than she is nice having conversations with guys we know nothing about other than they are a vampire or a werewolf and have the name of a Japanese historical figure, then maybe you might enjoy this. For everyone else there are plenty of better shows and this is a very skippable affair.

Episode Reviews:


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Karandi James

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Friday’s Feature: What a Waste

Have you ever had that feeling of disappointment that comes along after you’ve read a really cool premise or a story seems to have an incredible setting and then literally nothing is done with it?

Well for me, 2017 really delivered a lot of these sorts of shows where you had to wonder why they even bothered. While many anime are set in the generic school type setting or average Japanese city/town, others try for a more ambitious set up, but if the story doesn’t utilise it basically all the show ends up doing is waste its time trying to explain concepts that don’t amount to anything.

This was a major issue for Knight’s & Magic. Forget the fact that the majority of the show takes place in a fairly generic fantasy setting that is largely indistinguishable from any other. Also, forget the fact that we’re introduced to monsters that need to be fought off (the justification for the Knights’ existence in the world at all) but by about three episodes in you’ll never see another monster (okay, slight exaggeration). No, Knight’s & Magic just had an overly complicated premise which fizzled into nothingness more or less the instant the show actually started.

Now, I noted this in my series review of this, but Knight’s & Magic isn’t a straight fantasy but rather an isekai story. Meaning the main character is transported into another world. But Knights Of The Incorrectly Used Apostrophe isn’t satisfied with just opening a portal or whatever. Instead it feels the need to kill off Joe Average computer programmer (in a fairly uninteresting manner) and then have him reincarnate as a genius in the magic world due to his memories of programming. About all we learn of him prior to him dying is that he programs and is kind of respected by his colleagues and he likes robots.

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And that sounds fine. You want a character to be exceptional in a fantasy land so give him advanced knowledge of programs. Only, other than one or two comments about magic being similar to a program, you could almost forget this was the premise after about half an episode. Which means the show wasted precious time establishing a premise that it never used. And given there is at least one other character in the fantasy world who seems to be almost equally a genius, unless later developments claim he was also reincarnated, the entire point seems pretty trivial given the amount of set up time it ate early on in the series.

Now the obvious direct comparison of this premise would be the currently airing Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody. While there are plenty of things you can criticise about the show (and believe me, I have been in my episode reviews thus far) one thing I appreciate is that Satou never lets us forget he is a visitor in the world he has found himself in.

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He reacts with surprise to information that is surprising to someone from modern day Japan, complains about things like bathing outdoors, and he uses his working knowledge of the games he was assisting with in his life before getting transported into the game to essentially cheat the system. So while I would argue that Death March is in any way a better show than Knight’s & Magic (both shows have plenty of other issues), I would argue that the premise is actually better utilised and so the set-up actually feels meaningful.

Essentially, if we cut out all of the other world stuff from Knight’s & Magic, you would barely notice the difference, whereas if you cut it out of Death March, you’d have to be confused as to what the main character was thinking.

But Knight’s & Magic wasn’t the only show last year that had me scratching my head about it’s premise. Sengoku Night Blood (another show that wasn’t exactly a genius work either) really has me wondering about a few points. Specifically, why an alternative history take on the warring states era?

It isn’t as though this era is new to anime premises. It may in fact be the most overused era for historical anime. But alternative history by turning the warlords into vampires and werewolves? I’ll admit, I was kind of intrigued about what they would do with this.

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However, I’ll save you the anticipation. They did nothing. other than two of the vampire boys biting the girl, the only consequence of the characters being vampires and werewolves was that they had pointy ears or dog ears. Literally the only thing that changed was cosmetic. All the plot points were essentially identical even if they had left the characters human (about the only thing that would have changed I guess is they wouldn’t have bitten her but maybe given her a kiss for that power up at the end).

It is almost as if they had a planning meeting to discuss how to make their generic warring states anime feel fresh and new and someone plucked the word vampire out of thin air. But then they did nothing with it. The characters run around in daylight, they eat a normal diet, they are all perfectly pleasant human beings, and essentially this is the single most throw-away premise that 2017 delivered.

The problem with shows that do this is that it makes them feel worse than they are. Because they had ideas, and they threw those ideas in front of their audience, and then the audience was forced to watch them just sit there and have nothing done with them episode after episode. And it begs the question of why include these elements if they don’t want to use them or don’t have time to develop them? Why not trim your show down to the parts that matter and deliver them well?

I don’t exactly know the answer to that but I’m going to turn this over to you and ask if you’ve ever been let down by the premise of a show?


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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The Worst of Autumn 2017

Something different this season, I’m starting with the worst so that the best can follow. I will admit, this season the poll had the most votes for worst anime of the season and there was a clear winner fairly early on. So, first I’ll share my picks for worst of the season (keeping in mind these are the shows I watched and not the ones I dropped) and then I’ll share the result of the reader’s poll. Be sure to check back later for the best of Autumn.

My Least Favourite Show

Despite a number of shows managing to disappoint or not live up to their potential this season (and yes there were a lot of amazing shows too but that means very few ended up in the middle either being fantastic or meh, dull or just painful), a clear winner for my least favourite show still emerged. Yes, it was the show I should have dropped after that train wreck of a prologue and I certainly shouldn’t have continued beyond episode 3 and yet I’m just not very good at knowing when to admit defeat. You guessed it, Dies Irae. A horrible mess of a show that never got any better and after watching a prologue and 11 episodes I’m still not really sure if there is any point other than crazy characters with super powers being crazy.

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My Least Favourite Character

This is actually kind of hard because there were a lot of very bland characters out there this season. I’d nominate most of the cast of Juni Taisen but none of them hung around long enough for me to really care enough about to say they were my least favourite character. And Asta (Black Clover), as much as he would win for most annoying voice of the season, hasn’t actually done enough of anything for me to care about him either. So, sorry to say but the character who I liked the least even though he is kind of important to the story was Koiwai from Recovery of an MMO Junkie. If I knew him in real life I would genuinely despise this guy. Regardless of his intentions, his actions are at times highly questionable and he has way too much fun stirring up Sakurai.

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My Least Favourite Story

Unquestionably Juni Taisen. I think what makes this worst is the advertising that insists on twists and turns in a plot that is utterly devoid of anything resembling a twist (unless a lack of twist is a twist these days). And really, where is the story. They fight, they die, we still don’t know what impact that had and we never had any reason to care about them. The few interesting elements of this show can’t save a plot that marches through the process of knocking off its cast without bothering to give us a reason why or making us care.

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My Least Favourite Opening Theme

Sengoku Night Blood, oddly enough. It isn’t that it is terrible but it is just painfully generic and unremarkable in any sense of the word. I guess it matches most of what the show delivers but to be honest this was the opening I skipped the most during Autumn.

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My Least Favourite Visuals

I have to give it to King’s Game. As much as I quite liked this story, the terrible depiction of deaths (heads getting screwed off, bleeding, severed limbs etc) just come off as incredibly laughable when they aren’t completely lame. While the rest of the show is just kind of average, for a horror that takes pride in knocking off its cast with alarming regularity they never really did manage to make even one death look in any way cool, interesting, or even just impressively real. For instance, in the image below, the guy is bleeding from the neck and his head is about to fall off. While censorship could be blamed a little, even that isn’t enough to account for how poor some of the visuals are in this anime.

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Reader’s Choice – Worst Anime of Autumn 2017

Well, here it is. I’m going to be honest in that I was hoping that Dies Irae would take over the lead but I guess I always knew what the majority of people would vote for. Thanks to everyone who participated in the vote this time round.

Worst of Autumn

Yes, King’s Game had an early lead and never really relinquished it. Clearly, bad horror left a bad taste in many viewers mouths.

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That’s it for the worst of Autumn 2017. Be sure to check back later for the best of Autumn post and remember the best of the year poll will open tomorrow with results to go out next week. As always, I would love to know your final thoughts on the season, so what did you vote for and which shows do you think deserved the title worst of the season?


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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 12: Do We Celebrate Yet?

Review:

There’s always a sigh of relief that comes with the end of a show that has become tedium to watch. This one doesn’t even get to declare itself a bad show. It is just kind of there. And that’s all that can be said of this final episode as well.

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The boys get together (wait, you thought they were warring factions) and they beat up the giant yakuma thing that showed up last episode for the sake of having a final fight given the warlords clearly aren’t interested in actually having a war. They get beaten pretty badly but do manage to pry what’s her name free from it and so you think maybe we’ll finally find out what is so special about her.

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Nope. Instead, we’ll just have the two main vampire boys suck her blood, start glowing golden and beat the giant thing up again. And that’s all she wrote. The resolution kind of remembers that she’s meant to be looking for a way home, you know because she was transported into another world in episode one in case we forgot given the lack of significance this fact had, and then the story ends. Just kind of nothingness right to the end and I feel writing a full series review of this is going to be challenging.

And be sure to have your say in the reader’s poll for best and worst anime of the season. If you haven’t voted click here.


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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 11: Once a Damsel in Distress

Review:

I think what continues to bug me the most about this show is there is actually an interesting premise here, buried underneath the inane chatter that clutters most of the screen time. This alternative view of the warring states could have been interesting if the show had cared to actually examine it or even the bringing together of the warlords to defend the world from the Yakuma could have been fun. Instead though, we are treated to more guys trying to be nice to miss no personality before we finally get back to something that might be remotely interesting.

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And just in case protecting villagers and pride was not enough, she goes and gets herself captured by the monsters just to set up a final fight against the monsters (with no resolution to the warring factions in sight). Mostly this remains a fairly bland and uninteresting watch. It isn’t strictly speaking broken, just not really worth the effort.


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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 10: And She Goes Back to Hideyoshi

Review:

This really is just an elaborate game of pass the parcel that we’ve been watching over these ten weeks. Yazuki starts with Hideyoshi and has literally just been passed around through every other character’s strong hold and now she’s going back to Hideyoshi. It really just feels fairly empty and pointless at this stage.

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Oh, there’s also some back story about why Hideyoshi and Nobunaga aren’t getting along and it is the usual kind of misunderstanding/honour/pride thing you’d expect and not all that interesting to be honest.

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And the yakuma threat continues to grow but I guess Hideyoshi or Nobunaga are going to do something about that and maybe that will be our climax for the season because it certainly doesn’t seem like we’re getting Yazuki home (which seems to have been forgotten as a plot point quite some time ago).


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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 9: No Bad Guys Here

Review:

This story is determined to only make the yakuma actually bad because everytime we have one of these war lords looking all scary and intimidating (and actually being intimidating given our heroine has been kidnapped, locked in a shed, and – by our most recent contender – threatened with death if she tries to escape) every single one is actually a good person who is just misunderstood. I definitely spent a large portion of this episode fighting off an eye roll.

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It didn’t help that I actually almost forgot the heroine’s name a couple of times this episode and it wasn’t until near the end when another character mentioned it that I remembered what it was. This is probably a sign that I’m not really caring about her character (or lack of character) at this point in time.

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But without any of the war lords to care about being villainous the Yakuma have levelled up in this episode and I guess that’s where we are going for the series final at this point. I’m really not caring one way or the other to be honest. Still like the look of the night sky in this show but the story has been underwhelming for a fair length of time now.


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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 8: Pass the Parcel?

Review:

So Yuzuki has now officially met all of the important characters as she’s been taken for visits, been abducted, found, abducted again, abducted from the abductors, etc, etc, etc. I’m not sure that any of this makes for a plot that makes sense but at least someone finally put together the basic point that everywhere she goes monsters attack.

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It almost makes you wonder why they want her. Oh yeah, her famous blood which so far only one vampire has even tasted in this entire series. It is almost like they just needed an excuse for all the pretty boy warlords to all fall for the same girl…

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Despite the absolutely transparent set up and almost non-existent plot development, this still isn’t actually bad to watch. Just pretty ordinary to forgettable. It doesn’t actually have enough personality to be all that bad to watch.

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But hey, they finally remembered she was supposed to be from another world so possibly this might become a plot point of significance again. I’m not really expecting much at this point though.


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Anime Quotes – Autumn 2017

Yes, this is another fairly random post where I have collected my favourite quotes from this season (so far) in one place. I’d love it if you would share your favourite lines or quotes from the season in the comments.

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Sengoku Night Blood Episode 7: It Isn’t Dropping If I Just Stop Watching

Review:

I’m not actually dropping this show nor do I actually intend to stop watching. It was more that Date’s reasoning that it wasn’t locking her up if he didn’t lock the door to the warehouse really kind of bothered me. If you kidnap the girl and stuff her in a warehouse overnight that is locked the first time and give her every appearance of locking her in the second, and given she’s still kidnapped and unarmed, I kind of think that is locking her up whether the door is physically locked or not.

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I’m pretty sure none of these characters are taking the conflict seriously at this point. They wander around villages, they make good food, they go hunting with falcons, search for missing girls, but none of them seem all that much in a hurry to actually win and unify the land or whatever other goal they are spouting might be.

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As such, the show has no sense of tension and no sense of urgency. Encounters happen and sometimes there are injuries but basically everyone just keeps going on. Even when surrounded by the monster spirit things, after fighting a little bit, they just make the decision to ride through them. Cut scene and we’re at the castle. No problem. So why fight them in the first place?

This show is still quite pretty but that’s about the only point in its favour at this stage given the characters are pretty ordinary, the story is going nowhere quickly, and there’s really nothing drawing me back to watch the next episode other than I’d kind of like to know if she ever gets home. Or a new outfit.


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