That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Series Review

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 9 Rimuru in the cave

Ready for the slime of your life?

Here we are with another isekai anime. Another normal, ordinary, totally average guy who is killed by a totally normal knife wielding running man before being reincarnated as an over-powered blue slime in a world resembling a standard generic fantasy setting where he will begin building an empire and have plenty of adoring subjects because he is awesome.

So, if you don’t like isekai or over-powered protagonists it is probably time to duck out of this one. Because, this anime is utterly unashamed of what it is and while we have the gimmick of the protagonist being a slime, there isn’t a lot that really distinguishes it in terms of plot or setting.

Where That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime does manage to distinguish itself from similar isekai adventures is that the protagonist seems utterly without a goal for the majority of the story. Sorry, I’ll correct that. He has goals but mostly they revolve around making his life easier, and usually making life easier for those who follow him. There’s no grand plan of fighting some powerful evil, trying to return home, or really anything else. Just short term goals that get accomplished in bite sized arcs as this essentially slice of life, empire building story kind of rolls itself out.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 11 Rimuru

As such there is never any real sense of urgency or that there are any real stakes in anything that happens. I kind of found this very off putting and frequently found it hard to invest a great deal emotionally in this show. While I never overly disliked it, I think if Slime had suddenly had production issues and been delayed a month, I may not have even noticed. It just kind of existed and while I was watching it I usually had a casual good time with an occasional smile, the occasional enjoyment of a particularly good dialogue exchange, and very rarely an interesting fight, but mostly it just kind of passed by.

For people who prefer their stories low-key and don’t mind watching characters just kind of drift and do what they do (so people who don’t really mind slice of life in general), Slime probably offers a rare fantasy opportunity that isn’t all about slaying a demon lord or achieving some grand goal. In a sense it reminds me, vaguely, of something like Restaurant to Another Universe in that you have what appears to be a standard fantasy setting without any of the epic plot trappings that usually accompany it.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 16

In a sense, if Slime had chosen to simply occupy the space of a slice of life in a fantasy setting, I probably wouldn’t have watched it at all because I already know such a premise doesn’t really interest me. However, Slime does at times have hints of a larger narrative and certain arcs seemed to push that forward. In those moments I found a genuine enjoyment rather than a casual like of the show. Shizue’s arc in the first cour was the true highlight, hitting some fairly decent emotional notes, filling in our knowledge of the world, and progressing the idea of a villain Rimuru may have to face at some point. All and all, it was pretty solid. There are other arcs, or bits of information within some of the other arcs that also build on an overall narrative idea, but they are scattered and hardly a focal point.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 6

With that it entirely comes down to your viewing preferences and whether you need a driving narrative as to whether this anime will grab your interest.

However, if the basic premise and set up is what you are looking for, That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime offers a fairly beautifully presented quality viewing experience. In almost all episodes the visual and animation quality is maintained with none of the mid-season or late season mistakes, glitches, and just rushed efforts that other anime sometimes face. Rimuru is as charmingly depicted in episode 23 as episode 1 (though early in the series there’s a weird CG visual used occasionally for Rimuru that just seems out of place with the rest of the visuals of the series – quite possibly deliberate but I felt it was weird).

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 1

One thing I did find bizarre was that the anime would introduce monster characters who would have quite strikingly non-human appearances and then after Rimuru gave them a name they would ‘evolve’ and have a more human appearance. I mentioned this in one of my episode reviews, but it felt like an utter waste to take such distinct looking characters and morph them into generic fantasy boy/girl with vague monster appendages. It felt like a loss for what could have made this anime visually far more memorable than it ends up being, even if it is a pretty anime that is easy on the eyes.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 16

From a sound point of view everything works. Character voices serve their purpose and Rimuru’s voice acting is perhaps the character’s most charming point. He’s easy to listen to, fairly emotive, and the contrast between his inner and outer tone at times is spot on and nails the humour of a situation. Other characters are either good enough or quite interesting, and the background music and sounds do their job but don’t stand out as overly memorable.

Overall though it is the characters that I find to be the weakest element of this anime. Not because they are not good characters. Individually, each character is perfectly fine and they even play well off one another. The problem is that other than Rimuru, no character really sticks around long enough to have much impact. Even characters who stay in the story, after their introduction and brief moment in the spot-light, get shunted to the background where they occasionally fill screen space or make a comment, but kind of cease to develop as actual characters.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 10 Lizardmen

For me, in the absence of a driving plot, I really needed more from the characters and their personal journeys. I needed something to make me want to invest emotionally in this anime, and tragically the characters just couldn’t fill the void.

Admittedly, the characters are largely quirky and cute but when the vast majority of names are forgotten before the series has even been a week completed, and you genuinely don’t know what even half of them are trying to do or accomplish and you generally have no sense that any of the characters are motivated to do anything beyond serve Rimuru, it really makes it hard to care about what happens to any of them and Rimuru is so over-powered (and if he wasn’t, Milim sure is), that it is hard to visualise harm coming to any of them.

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Again, it comes down to whether or not you care about any kind of tension or emotional stakes in your story or whether you just want to chill. That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime would be a very good anime to just chill to.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 19 Gobta

Before I wrap up, I do want to discuss the episode count. At 25 episodes, this anime took six months to air. That’s a long time investment for episodic watching and I will admit, I was weary of it by the end. It didn’t help that the final arc, despite tying in fairly beautifully with Shizue’s arc from the first half of the season, was undeniably one of the weaker stories delivered. However, what makes it worse is the anime actually finishes at episode 23 and then we have two extra episodes. Episode 24 actually is better than anything the second half of Slime gave us and just made me wonder why we hadn’t seen more like that. That probably isn’t what you want your bonus material to do. 24.5 is just padding. Poorly executed recap. A poor excuse of filler to pad out a 25 episode count that was unneeded.

Getting onto recommendations, it isn’t as though this was a bad anime. There are huge numbers of fans, massive amounts of merchandise available, and realistically there’s nothing inherently broken about the story. While it doesn’t suit my viewing preferences, it functionally works and at times even I found it very entertaining and at its worst I just found it kind of empty but watchable. So for some this will be highly entertaining.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Episode 18 fanservice

My honest opinion with this one is that there are better isekai anime out there with better journeys and characters. Then again, I prefer something that has clear direction and characters that grow and learn so perhaps Slime and I were never meant to be. Still, I wouldn’t actually tell you to avoid this one. It can be good fun and is nicely made. Give it a try, by the end of episode 3 you should have a rough idea of whether this works for you, and maybe you’ll find a show to fall in love with.

However, I’d love to know your thoughts on That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime (the anime) so please share in the comments below.

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Karandi James
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The Price of Smiles Series Review

The Price of Smiles Episode 1

Smile and the world smiles with you… Unless you are in the middle of a war.

There is something about average anime that make them very hard to review. They aren’t necessarily bad, but the potential they had to be better actually makes them taste a bit more sour particularly after they’ve just ended. The Price of Smiles is an average anime, even for a mecha anime. Almost painfully average in every respect. Yet at times there were glimpses of a far more epic and amazing story simmering just beneath the mediocre execution and some of what was delivered managed to shine just bright enough to keep up hope of improvement.

The Price of Smiles Episode 8 Yuki

However, if you aren’t drawn in within the first few episodes, you will probably be better off thanking The Price of Smiles for its time and moving on. Without trying to be too facetious, the pay-off at the end of the Price of Smiles is not really worth the price of time commitment to get there.

Which is a real shame because there was a lot of potential in the ideas here.

For those unfamiliar with The Price of Smiles it covers two different girls, Yuki and Stella. Some episodes exclusively focus on Yuki and her Kingdom, yes she is a Princess, and other episodes focus on Stella, who is just an expendable soldier on the other side of the war. It isn’t until the second last episode that we see both perspectives in the same episode and it is an interesting way of delivering what might be a fairly predictable narrative.

The Price of Smile's Episode 5

While the war itself, two sides fighting over resources, is pretty standard, through Yuki’s position we see those at the decision making level of the war on both sides as well as Yuki’s childish and naive perspective. It gives one view of the story and realistically, that could have been the only view and we still would have ended up with an okay anime.

But, by cutting Yuki’s story by introducing episodes from Stella’s perspective, on the front lines of fighting and on the side of the invading forces, it kind of gives the story more depth and keeps it feeling fresh.

The Price of Smiles Episode 6 Yuuki

Neither story is particularly amazing, though Stella’s story and the cast surrounding her are perhaps the more interesting, but together they manage to create a wide view of the world and the different responses to the war. If there had been a few more episodes and a bit longer to really flesh out a few world building points, this choice in splitting the narrative between two characters would have worked really well.

That said, it isn’t exactly an original idea with plenty of other mecha anime that split their narrative between representatives of different factions to give that particular insight into what each side is doing and how it is affecting different groups of people. But original or not, it is a fairly solid choice particularly with the anti-conflict message that is heavily stamped on almost every episode.

The Price of Smiles Episode 5

Again, this isn’t exactly new for the genre, but here the lack of subtlety is probably one of the things that hurts this anime the most. Yuki, the white and pink clad Princess wringing her hands and hoping for peace and wanting to bring smiles to everyone is just too much. And while the excuse that her advisers kept her in the dark about the true state of things, or even that they were at war, can explain some of her reluctance to face the reality they are dealing with when it is force upon her, honestly some of her decisions are a little hard to swallow.

Though while we are on messages, this anime also managed to bring in a heavy handed environmental allegory about humans over using resources and destroying eco-systems and while this seems to be at the centre of the conflict and is tied heavily in the final solution of the series, it is almost as though The Price of Smiles knew it didn’t have time for everything and so while it wanted to wear an environmental slogan it ultimately discarded it in favour of the anti-conflict stance.

The Price of Smiles Episode 9

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Which is why I said the anime needed more episodes to really develop its world. The setting here is fantastic (or at least could have been). They are on a colonised world that was terraformed using technology no one on the world still really understands but the Kingdom has developed the chrars, a fairly substantial power source and one which allows their technological superiority (not that it really helps them all that much in the war).

As the story progresses we learn a bit more about this seemingly amazing power source and how its use is tied in to the failing crops and eco-systems that are at the core of the conflict between the two groups as resources are becoming scarce. If this idea had been put front and centre and given time to be really discussed and dealt with, it could have really given this anime a bit more of an edge. However, while the idea is there, and is interesting, ultimately Yuki’s decision comes down to her immediate need to not see any more death in the war. The long term implications, despite the ground work already being laid, are more or less glossed over leaving this all feeling a little bit less than satisfying.

The Price of Smiles Episode 11

Visually, The Price of Smiles also suffers as its run continues. While action sequences always look relatively polished and are great fun to watch, and the character designs are quite lovely even if the majority of their clothing looks insanely impractical, the animation falters in later episodes in non-action scenes and characters appear off-model more often or with barely sketched in faces when seen from a distance. It isn’t enough to really mar the viewing but it is definitely noticeable in the later episodes.

The other major complaint I will level at this series is its inability to create drama through any means other than killing off its cast. While the first important death comes early and is something of a shock, in the second half they essentially kill one major character per episode with increasingly diminished emotional returns to the point that the final death in the last episode can barely even register because you were expecting it long before it happened.

The Price of Smiles Episode 2 - Joshua

Despite its faults, I don’t really mind that I watched The Price of Smiles this season. There was always plenty to talk about and while I wanted more from it, I actually relatively enjoyed what I watched. The characters weren’t amazing but were interesting enough and the fights were spaced out nicely to keep the talking moments and the fighting moments relatively balanced.

The Price of Smiles Episode 2 - Yuuki

This isn’t an anime to avoid, nor is it one to rush out and watch. Still, if you are in the mood for a mecha anime, and you have a bit of spare time, you could certainly do worse than The Price of Smiles.

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Karandi James
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Sirius The Jaeger Series Review

Sirius The Jaeger

Things that go bump in the night should watch out.

It isn’t all that often that I watch a Netflix anime (or I should more accurately say it isn’t often that I finish one) and there’s a lot of reasons for that, however having read some mixed reviews about Serius but seeing it was a bit of an action story featuring vampires, I decided to take the plunge. I watched a handful of episodes one afternoon and was hooked. Clearing my schedule the following afternoon, I binged the rest of the series.

And it turns out, Sirius the Jaeger is actually great fun. We have a group called the Jaegers hunting down vampires and trying to exterminate them, meanwhile the vampires are conspiring with political activists and the like to get some shady and nebulous plot off the ground. It is a great set up and the pre-World War 2 setting really helps to allow some credibility for some of the goings on here.

That said, it isn’t as though Sirius the Jaeger is a perfect anime series. We’ve got a lot of cliché characters, some plot points that don’t really seem to make a great deal of sense, a villain who seems kind of together but ultimately makes stupid choices just to make things more interesting and as a direct result gets seriously burned, and just some general moments where if you applied any kind of real world physics to a situation you could write most of the characters off. Yet, none of that really gets in the way of the story because the story doesn’t really let it. It isn’t taking itself all that seriously as it powers through introducing ancient tribes, vampires, vampire hunters and building in a subplot about nations arming for war. It just wants us to enjoy the ride as we see Yuliy first work to kill all the vampires and then to try to find out about his tribe and the Ark of Serius.

Sirius The Jaeger - Yuliy

Where some anime might get very exposition heavy while trying to balance all of that, Sirius the Jaeger limits talk time between characters and information about all of these different aspects comes to us over time and fairly naturally. It’s built into exchanges between characters in small bite size chunks with only a few longer more focused conversations to flesh out key points. There’s only one point where the Professor stands with Yuliy and essentially information dumps and it’s about three quarters of the way through and is a fairly significant reveal that directs the final turn of the series. Given it comes on the tail of a fairly impressive battle between the Japanese military and the vampires, the down time isn’t too much of a problem.

However, what really drives this story is the action. We will be taken from one action set piece to another and be prepared for lots of jumping over roof tops, a car chase sequence, a battle on a train, fighting in the woods, and finally fighting on an airship because why not. Each fight is fairly distinct and while Yuliy is at the centre of most of them, the conditions are vastly different as are the other participants and potential collateral damage and so it continues to feel fresh.

Sirius The Jaeger fight

There’s also a sense of urgency around a lot of the fight sequences. While it never gets to a point where you actually fear too much for a main character, it always feels like losing a fight will cost the characters something and even if they win the fight there is always damage. The near destruction of the house they were staying in while in Japan and the company having to pay compensation to the owner is one example but in every fight it felt like there was a lot potentially riding on their decisions.

I really enjoyed how the series dealt with Yuliy. Even though we ultimately get a standard chosen one fantasy plot where he’s lost his family, last survivor, needs to take control of the shiny powerful thing, his character manages to feel reasonably fresh as it treads this fairly standard path. While his surly revenge driven opening isn’t exactly a breath of fresh air (think Eren from Attack on Titan only competent and less shouty), Yuliy actually manages to have quite a well developed personality and his interactions with the other characters are usually entertaining.

Sirius The Jaeger

Unfortunately, I can’t really say the same about Ryouko, the daughter of the family who host the vampire hunters (Jaegers) in Japan. Her character is kind of a love interest for Yuliy only she’s utterly unnecessary. Though at times she delivered crucial items or got herself into trouble at particular points, realistically her character brought nothing to the table and honestly her following Yuliy around into increasingly dangerous situations just struck me as slightly stupid so I couldn’t really get behind her character.

They did far better with Mikhail (Yuliy’s brother) who we encounter throughout the story, despite Yuliy thinking he died when the vampires attacked his village. The interactions between Yuliy and Mikhail, while at times pushing at the boundaries of logical, always have a good chemistry about them.

Sirius The Jaeger Yuliy and Mikhail

However, this is a vampire story so how are the vampires?

A bit hit and miss. The royals are very entertaining and classic kind of vampires (other than the whole able to deal with daylight thing). The control older vampires have over those they’ve turned is a feature that I really like in vampire stories as is the fact that turned vampires retain their memories of being human but at the same time aren’t any longer. The slave vampires and their monstrous form was a bit less likeable because it essentially turned a lot of the fights into waves of red bat things that had very little to distinguish them and none of them were really strong enough to be of note anyway.

One interesting bit they threw in was that the vampire race was dying because of a sickness that had no cure. That was an interesting addition to the story and actually worked as a good catalyst for moving the immortal vampires with a sense of urgency.

The Jaegers

So overall, a pretty fun action story. Definitely not a horror despite the presence of vampires. It move along at a nice pace, has some good fight sequences and largely decently realised characters. While it isn’t going to be anime of the year or anything like that, this one was certainly an entertaining romp.

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Tsurune Series Review

Tsurune Episode 8 Minato

Overcoming challenges together; Tsurune takes on the emotional scars of its cast and shines.

There’s something just a little bit special about this latest sports anime from Kyoto Animation. The studio is known for being good at handling solid emotionally driven stories with the likes of Clannad on its line up and its also dipped its toes into boys doing sports before with the fan-service laden Free. That perhaps set the bar very high for Tsurune in some viewers’ minds and I do recall seeing a lot of first impressions that went along the lines of ‘as expected from Kyo-Ani’ or ‘nothing special compared to…’.

Tsurune Episode 2 Minato and Who

However, that seemed a little harsh given is something is done well it is done well even if another anime made by the same studio perhaps surpassed it or the studio has done something comparable before. While I’m not going to make the case that Tsurune is some sort of hidden master piece, I will put forward strongly that Tsurune is well worth the watch for those who like getting invested in emotionally driven stories with the back-drop of a sports tournament to keep the plot on track and to ensure that we have an ongoing sense of direction.

Tsurune Episode 1

Tsurune is beautiful. There’s no denying that fact and while I’m certain we could screen cap some less favourable moments, almost every scene is beautifully composed and the use of colour, light and movement are purposeful and interesting. The choice for the majority of Masaki’s scenes early on to be bathed in blue tones (a colour scheme we return to at the end) was very well done and played nicely into a narrative twist in the early episodes. The portrayal of wind and movement as the arrows flew was gorgeous and was taken to its extreme during the final where each shot set a flurry of sparkling leaves flying (okay, they may have taken some liberties with reality but it looks great). And each of the characters, yes the heavily male dominated cast, look fantastic.

The music and sound design also deserve a special mention as these are truly used to enhance each and every scene. While it might seem to some too calculated or artificial, I found it absolutely complemented the visuals and the narrative and particularly during competitions I found myself waiting for the sound of the arrow being released, the wind, and then the impact as the arrow either hit or missed its target. It was very affective and adding greatly to the overall enjoyment while watching.

On the surface we have a basic story of a character who used to be good at archery who quit after developing target panic (essentially couldn’t hold his draw and released the arrow too soon throwing off his aim). His friend who followed him to high school wants him to get back into the sport as does a childhood friend who has reunited with them. After some resistance, Minato does decide to get back into archery and works to overcome his target panic.

Tsurune Episode 8 - Minato

That story alone could have worked beautifully and yet while that is the frame for the story, Tsurune explores so much more. With five boys coming together (the group of three friends and another two characters), there are plenty of personal conflicts and emotions to deal with as they try to form a team and overcome their own short comings. Where Tsurune surprised me was how well in dealt with Seiya’s story as I had thought he was more of a support character but ultimately he had an incredible arc. The coach, Masaki, also had plenty of solid development and was portrayed as a real character rather than a token adult figure. Even the characters at the rival school began to be expanded upon toward the end and while their arcs seem cut off in the middle it created the feeling that this story and these characters were more real.

Tsurune Episode 11 Masaki

However, at only thirteen episodes and with so many characters not everyone can have their story told. Nanao, despite having some excellent supporting moments, is still largely a mystery as was Ryouhei, despite his childhood friend status. The three girls who were also in the club had a couple of excellent scenes but were largely ignored by the narrative getting to stand on the sides of scenes and really just got used by the plot when needed rather than being fleshed out in their own right. These are small complaints and without more episodes it would be difficult to address these issues, but given the excellent progress so many other characters made it just feels like a shame that others were almost benched.

Tsurune Episode 7

From a plot point of view this is about as standard as it comes as the team overcomes personal conflicts, struggles to qualify and then slowly comes together toward the end of the series. That doesn’t make it less satisfying to watch but if you are after something unpredictable or something that throws in a few unexpected twists and turns Tsurune probably won’t do it for you.

Tsurune focuses instead on maintaining its pace and tone. The focus remains on the characters and their growth. The competitions are the setting which allows that growth to happen and provides complications and set backs, but the story never forgets what its core is.

Tsurune Episode 2

While this isn’t the single most spectacular anime I’ve ever seen, it was an absolute delight to watch each week bringing a bit of calm bliss as I watched the next episode. I grew to care deeply for these characters and loved seeing them rise up and overcoming challenges. All and all, I would recommend giving it a go. While it may not work for you, and if slow pace isn’t your thing it probably won’t, there are certainly worse anime you could try than Tsurune.

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Voice of Fox Series Review

Voice of Fox Episode 1

Singing, Lies, Rumours, and Social Media – You’re Always On Stage

Voice of Fox is one of those short anime that comes out that very few people seemed to pay attention to. And it kind of makes sense. The Autumn anime season was full of some amazing titles and you can’t watch everything. A short anime that adapts a Chinese Manhwa about a kid wearing a fox mask and wanting to make it as a singer probably isn’t high on people’s watching priority list. Still, there was something about the first episode that drew me in and I’m really glad I strapped in for the ride. While Voice of Fox isn’t a ground breaking masterpiece that must be watched, it is a solid effort at telling a reasonably interesting story in a fairly short run time given episodes are only around ten minutes long.

Voice of Fox Episode 6 Hu Li

Where Voice of Fox works is the tight focus on a very small pool of characters who interact within a larger social setting. With idols and stars making up a large part of the cast, social media and the internet play a huge part in this story as public perception sways and changes with events, rumours, apologies, and performances. While at times the public opinion seems to veer far too strongly too quickly, it is a good look at the pressure of anyone living in the public view and who relies upon fans and an audience for their livelihood. Hu Li also explored the idea of being independent or being part of an agency and the difficulties in getting yourself out there alone vs what a large company can achieve.

Where it falls down is that too many of these characters are either good people with poor luck getting trod on by an uncaring system or they are ruthlessly ambitious with very little in the way of actual human emotions. The characters who are set up as the antagonists don’t get to be anything other than star hungry and while the anime does attempt to give Kong Que (the guy who Hu Li is the ghost singer for) some sort of angsty back-story, it is one of the moments that is a bit rushed and the emotional impact is minimal. It also is quickly forgotten when you realise that despite what has happened to Kong Que he is still pretty ready to throw Hu Li or anyone else under a bus for just a scrap of fame so he’s not exactly a nuanced character.

The story largely focuses on the events around a reality idol show searching for the Rising Star of China, at least for the first half. The filming is rocked by scandals as singers get sick, power outages occur mid-performance and Kong Que is revealed as a fake and Hu Li as the real voice. This section of the story is really quite focused and driven and while there are some comedy moments that don’t quite stick their landing, by and large it is highly entertaining.

Voice of Fox Episode 6 Hu Li

The second half, where we explore the characters and their motivations a bit more and wait for their final decisions, is a little less well handled. It does come back to the competition and we do get a satisfying ending, but there’s a little loss of momentum in the second half.

There’s also a lot of singing in this. I really enjoyed the music including the OP and ED but I also really just liked the performances. If the music doesn’t work for you, that is possibly going to be a deal breaker because all of these characters are on stage at some point and singing.

Voice of Fox Episode 3

I’d recommend giving this one a go. It was one of those pleasant surprises of the Autumn season and I really wish more people had watched it because it would have been fun to discuss it more each week. Not a perfect show by any means, but one that I could definitely get lost in and just go along for the ride.

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Anime Kitsune no Koe -Voice Of Fox- Original Soundtrack
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Goblin Slayer Series Review

He’s Not Trying To Save The World – He Just Wants To Slay Some Goblins

If you were on any kind of social media during the last months of 2018 then you probably caught some of the Goblin Slayer rape/infant killing controversy after episode one aired. Fortunately, after the storm died down and more thoughtful posts and commentary started coming out, most people seemed to agree that largely the problem could have been solved by the various streaming services providing sensible classification or warnings prior to the show airing and only a few extremists were still calling for the entire show to be trashed and calling those who enjoyed it degenerates.

Wow, I love it when people make a judgement over your entire existence based on your preference of fictional stories. That said, I don’t want this review to turn into a debate about censorship and I kind of covered my thoughts on this whole thing in a feature about triggers back when episode one first aired so I’m just going to get on with reviewing the anime now.

Still, the need for a warning label on this anime does exist because it does have content that some people will find distressing. I’d strongly recommend not watching it if you know that you don’t like shows where female characters are subjected to sexual assault or if buckets of blood flying about the screen in fight sequences is going to make you feel queasy.

The problem with that though is that while these things are in Goblin Slayer, it isn’t really what the show is about. Quite a few reviews I’ve read have criticised Goblin Slayer for not being as dark as Berserk or for being toothless. While Goblin Slayer does explore some of the darker aspects of adventuring and the less noble side of killing creatures most other consider merely pests rather than facing off against demon kings, the story is essentially about the two main characters: Goblin Slayer and Priestess.

In the first episode we meet the Priestess as she joins up to become an adventurer, gets recruited into a party of rookies and more or less lead to her death by the overconfidence and cockiness of youth and general perceptions about the weakness of goblins. It’s a solid opening encounter that sets the tone for a world where adventurers can and do die particularly early in their careers and goblins might be individually weak but in a dark cavern with numbers on their side if you aren’t prepared you are in for a world of hurt. It’s also pretty confronting in that the fates of these nameless rookies are pretty tragic. Fortunately we haven’t spent enough time with them to feel we know them, but basic empathy for humans and knowing none of these characters were actually bad people, just inexperienced, makes the whole encounter leaving you with a slightly sick feeling in your stomach, which is more or less what it intended.

Goblin Slayer Episode 1

Fortunately, Priestess is rescued by Goblin Slayer and the two then form a partnership of sorts. The story follows the two as they learn from one another, the Priestess learning how to use her miracles to best effect for a party and about the tricks goblins use and how to beat them, and Goblin Slayer learning slowly how to interact with others and to trust others even if just a little bit.

Goblin Slayer Episode 9 Goblin Slayer and Sword Maiden

What this means is the story seems to sway back and forth between life and death encounters in dark dungeons and slower moments where the two go about their days in the guild and town preparing equipment, eating and drinking with others, and generally living their lives. It is this two toned approach that seemed to annoy some viewers who stuck around after episode one. I think they might have expected the violence just to keep going and not let up, but the point of the story isn’t to be violent. Violence happens in the world being constructed but it isn’t all there is to life. That is what Goblin Slayer is needing to learn and his removal of his helmet in the guild in the final episode is a good sign that he is finally starting to realise he doesn’t need to be the armed Goblin Slayer 24 hours a day.

That might seem like a small step but it is some massive character progress for him and it builds on dozens of small exchanges peppered throughout the series.

Priestess is no slouch either really stepping up in the final fight to both immobilise the final boss and to heal Goblin Slayer. She uses his plan and her own decisions to get the outcome she decides is best.

However, in case it seems like I just keep heaping praise on this series, I do have to point out the biggest problem with it. The series works best if you’ve read the source (either the manga or the light novels will do).

And that’s a problem.

Goblin Slayer Episode 5

An anime adaptation should stand alone. It should show the story in anime form for fans of the source who want more of the characters, but should also be accessible and make sense on its own.

Goblin Slayer fails in that regard in that a lot of the decisions and ideas are kind of hinted at in the anime but don’t make sense without the additional knowledge the source gives you.

One example that stands clear from reading episode reviews was when High Elf Archer asked Goblin Slayer not to use fire and a whole bunch of other things on the goblins under water town. And he agreed. That was all there was to the exchange in the anime.

From reading the books there was a lot more behind both her request and his acceptance. Namely the whole town being above the sewers and potential collateral damage. Now it makes sense why she’s being fairly specific with her limitations (other than she doesn’t want to get set on fire or poisoned) and why he actually listens and agrees. More importantly, it makes sense that in the next episode, when he is about to set off an explosion he checks first that they have travelled beyond the borders of the town before he puts his plan into action.

Now, the sequence makes enough sense in the anime in that you aren’t completely unable to follow it, but it also feels like you are missing something. That isn’t how a story should make you feel and this was only one scene out of many that had anime only viewers tilting their heads and wondering just what was behind a decision.

So while I will recommend this anime, it is an average anime. It isn’t great or amazing. There are definitely issues with how this has been adapted from its source.

Still, I thought it looked great, I enjoyed the characters, loved the sound design, and all and all had great fun following along with these characters and adventures. While it does get dark, there’s also plenty to balance it and from a narrative point of view it makes sense that those moments are as dark as they are.

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Karandi James
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Release the Spyce Series Review

Spies Eat Spices And Look Cute Doing It!

Release the Spyce was an anime that from its first episode grabbed my attention with its cute girls doing spy antics but even then there were a few warning flags that made me wonder where this would go. What followed was a series that awkwardly attempted to balance high stakes spy scenarios with a story about cute girls doing cute things at school kind of story and the mix just didn’t work. It isn’t that it couldn’t have worked, however Release the Spyce didn’t have the strength of writing or characterisation to pull it off.

Release the Spyce Episode 5 Mei and Hanzo

Not to mention the logic in the story just never worked no matter how you looked at it. While I get anime, and fiction in general, doesn’t need to be totally true to life (in fact as a fantasy/horror fan I prefer it when it isn’t), I do need to be able to suspend disbelief. Between a training sequence that utterly turned the main character into a nearly unstoppable powerhouse in a matter of weeks, the ‘spyce’ only working on teenage girls for reasons that will never be adequately explained, the villains targeting the one city where they know the opposition are hiding despite being able to carry out their plan more or less anywhere, and the really terrible explanation that the words spy and spice are somehow related (solid no on that one), this anime really worked hard to push me out of the narrative at pretty much every opportunity.

Release the Spyce Episode 3

Persevering in the hopes that we’d get to some decent spy and espionage kind of moments, the results are kind of mixed. On the one hand, the visuals are pretty good. Bold and bright colours dominate and it is all a bit sharper than a lot of the pastel colour palettes that seem to be dominating a lot of the anime I’ve been watching. Every screen cap really stands out in the folder and it isn’t garish (outside of the OP).

Release the Spyce Episode 12 Momo

The action also works reasonably well with fight sequences being pretty tightly controlled in time and scope. There’s a few too many girls fighting hordes of mindless robot fights, but for the most part the actual action sequences deliver decently. Now, I’d like to know why our spies spend so much time in direct combat rather than sneaking about, but that’s probably another one of those questions I just shouldn’t ask.

Release the Spyce Episode 4 Mei and Fu

Interactions between each of the apprentices and their mentor are fairly solidly constructed. Now, this is a blessing and a curse. It means in the episode focusing on that pair, the two get great moments to shine and there’s some solid character work. On the other hand, that pair may not necessarily interact well with the others (or in interesting ways) and in episodes where they aren’t the focus sometimes it is difficult to remember if they actually have a personality. This anime didn’t balance things very well and couldn’t move the spot light from one pair to the next without totally sidelining the rest of the cast. Then it had to awkwardly transition back to the whole group facing a threat and it just didn’t do a very good job of it.

Release the Spyce Episode 10 Momo

Finally, the season ending. It ends. It hits all the usual notes for spy stories. It just isn’t compelling enough. I have nothing against generic stories that follow their genre beats. But you have to give me something and here we had average characters going about an average final mission with no surprises because all the twists were exactly what you were expecting and delivered with very little fan-fare or anything else.

Release the Spyce Episode 1

As I said, not bad, just not really worth the time or effort. Still, you could certainly do worse than this piece and provided the opening song doesn’t give you a headache (it really is flashy for those with light sensitivity), there’s not a lot that this anime does that is actually worth criticising. It just doesn’t manage to do anything particularly well either and given it potentially could have been so much better there was definitely a sense of disappointment as week after week this one seemed determined to be at best average.

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Karandi James
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