Kino’s Journey – The Beautiful World Episode 3: Keeping Things Grey

Review:

Kino’s Journey so far has been a very laid back kind of story in term of its pace and tone and yet the actual events and ideas are pretty big, if a little generic. This week isn’t any different as it has Kino join a travelling country that leaves a trail in its wake.

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The opening of the episode shows us that something has gone wrong with Kino’s travels though we aren’t clued in as to what, but the sense that something had changed is only reinforced when Kino is asked how long they wish to visit the travelling country. Previously, Kino has strictly stayed somewhere for three days but here they suggest they might be staying longer than that.

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Ultimately the travelling country comes across a wall which is defended by those who live in that country. After ‘negotiations’ break down (negotiation mostly being the travelling country saying they were going to pass through and the other country telling them they couldn’t) the travelling country pretty much just cuts through and then rolls through the wall and then over that country’s agricultural area (which is apparently better than houses, though what they are going to eat if you crush their farms is a question that the show chooses deliberately to ignore) and proceeds onwards swatting aside any and all attempts to stop them.

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The obvious comparison to developed nations using superior technology and wealth to pretty much do as they like wherever they like is not subtle nor is the remark about the other country that reached too far with its wall and toll to cross the plains. The end result is something that is actually fairly pleasant to watch but uncomfortable to think about which kind of makes it pretty affective. Kino’s motive and actions are ultimately explained as is their reason for staying with the travelling country for longer than three days and once again we see Kino is moved almost entirely by self-interest in this instance. I’m fascinated by this story so far and while the questions it raises are hardly unique, the way it avoids providing an actual judgement on events (other than Kino’s) is kind of interesting.


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Just Because Episodes 2 + 3: Imagine a Transfer Student Came and Nothing Happened

Review Episode 2:

It isn’t exactly news that I don’t much like slice of life or slow romances, stories set primarily in high school or anything that is particularly slow paced… and yet then there is my absolute devotion to Kimi ni Todoke which more or less hits every one of those criteria. And while Just Because doesn’t yet have anywhere near the charm or draw that Kimi ni Todoke has, I remember the first time I watched that I wasn’t particularly impressed during early episodes but I was strangely drawn to the show. And by the time the first season ended I was in love.

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I’ll admit, I don’t actually expect Just Because to ever rival Kimi ni Todoke in my heart (given none of these characters have quite the same charm as the ones in Kimi ni Todoke) but at the same time, this is some pretty pleasant viewing. Certainly episode 2 has some lacking moments but the genuine charm and familiar interactions between characters just kind of keep drawing me in to this story even while it doesn’t exactly go anywhere.

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I’m not getting my hopes up too high, but I am honestly enjoying this so far and I’m kind of hoping for some low key entertainment out of this.

Review Episode 3:

This episode gave me a very Haruhi Suzumiya vibe (hence the title of the post) except that it was kind of like what would happen in Haruhi if she didn’t actually have god-like powers. A transfer student has come and the photography girl is latching on hard but he’s pretty ordinary and not particularly interested in what she’s selling.

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Otherwise, a lot of this episode went to Soma and his pursuit of the girl who seems pretty oblivious to anything resembling friendship or romance as well as the commentary or assistance of those around him.

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Really, not a lot actually happens in these episodes and normally that would bother me, but the jumping between individuals and groups as more and more connections are revealed or formed is keeping this from feeling terminally slow and everything is charming enough to leave me feeling pretty happy by the end of the episode. I also kind of like Izumi as the transfer student even though he’s pretty much determined not to get involved in any of the relationship hijinks swirling around him. Okay, I just like protagonists who are low energy observers and I should probably just admit that outright.

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All and all, I’m pretty happy with how this is going. The animation quality isn’t amazing but when the characters aren’t walking or running it isn’t overly terrible. I will admit, a few sequences have had me shaking my head but mostly it is watchable and won’t detract too much from the romantic/teen drama unfolding.


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Just Because Episode 1: Just Life

Overview:

At the end of the second semester of third year of high school, four students are prepared for graduation and feel the ending to their high school life. But that changes a little with the arrival of a transfer student.

– From MAL

Review:

Normally this is the kind of show I kind of hesitate to start because no matter how good it is I just know I’m going to end up wondering what the point of it is. Fortunately for me, it seems like most of the characters in this show are in search of a point or have accepted that mostly there isn’t one as they go about their frantic activities as their school lives wrap up.

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So instant relatability. We also don’t just follow one person through an entire day at school but rather move fairly fluidly from group to group with multiple individual problems, dilemas and ideas being introduced. While that makes it more or less impossible to remember all the character names after one episode, it gave a sense of forward motion that I usually don’t get from these kinds of stories and I greatly appreciated it.

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All and all, these characters have the potential to be charming enough, and there’s certainly enough possibilities for future events that could come up from the set up. While there isn’t anything new from a narrative point of view, I really did like the execution and pacing of this episode and am kind of keen to see more at the moment.


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Girls’ Last Tour Episode 1: Deceptively Charming

Okay, I kind of decided to give HiDive a go given it has a couple of series from last season I want to watch and this season it picked up a few titles I wanted to try. Not sure if I’m keeping the subscription long term but we’ll see how it goes.

Overview:

Civilization is dead, but Chito and Yuuri are still alive. So they hop aboard their beloved Kettenkrad motorbike and aimlessly wander the ruins of the world they once knew. Day after hopeless day, they look for their next meal and fuel for their ride. But as long as the two are together, even an existence as bleak as theirs has a ray or two of sunshine in it, whether they’re sucking down their fill of soup or hunting for machine parts to tinker with. For two girls in a world full of nothing, the experiences, and feelings the two share give them something to live for.

– From MAL

Review:

I’m not big on slice of life, but slice of life post apocolyptic style had a certain appeal and so I’m kind of glad I got to check this out. The first episode, while bringing you face to face with the horror of civilisation being dead, is utterly and completely charming.

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This is kind of helped along by the two leads who are adorable and their interactions, while fairly sparse considering they are the only two characters we see, are fairly grounded and yet both sweet and revealing. At times the themes seem to hijack the dialogue with some heavy handed anti-war statements but all and all, this is a pretty solid first episode.

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I’m looking forward to watching a bit more with these characters.


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March Comes in Like a Lion Season 2 Episode 23: I Missed This

Overview:

March Comes in Like a Lion is back and we are resuming Rei’s journey as he figures out how to live and what he wants. If you missed my review of season 1 be sure to check it out.

Review:

The second season has started and initially we find ourselves with a more upbeat Rei. He’s engaged with the science/shogi club and actually opening his window and not dreading the outside world. We quickly see however that as much as things are going well for him, there is no instant fix for the deep and complex emotional issues that have plagued Rei from the beginning.

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Still, there’s a more upbeat tone to the opening song and far more interaction from Rei with others than the first season ever gave us. He’s also proactive  in deciding to visit the sisters and to share his story with them. Emotionally this was a joy to watch as was the realisation that they aren’t sweeping any of the issues under the rug. The opening might be more upbeat but it isn’t all sunshine and roses and the visuals are still brilliant at depicting emotional states. All and all, an excellent start to a second season and hopefully I continue to love being on this journey with Rei.

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One criticism, just so it doesn’t look like I’m giving this show a free pass because of emotional connections, they hit us with the shogi cats in the first episode this season (just thankful they didn’t sing the song).

Anyway, loved this. Can’t wait for more.


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Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Episode 13: This May Be The End

Review:

Not of the anime, because tragically that has more to come so it kind of looks like it is just going to continue into the next season (I can’t actually find an episode count anywhere though). However, I am pretty sure this will be my last post on this. Hopefully. If I have any sense at all I will drop this for real.

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I just want to know why every character who meets Inaba thinks anything of him? Seriously, what are they seeing that the audience isn’t? They all sit around and give him advice and pep talks. That is literally their entire interaction with this kid and yet they all speak so incredibly highly of him. Yet, everything he has done and his internal dialogues just make him look and sound like an idiot.

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I hate this main character, I hate that all the other characters seem to think he’s amazing, and I hate that nothing ever seems to happen in this show. Okay, I think I just made my mind up and I’ll be dropping this.


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The Eccentric Family Season 1 Series Review: Grief, Family, Adventure, and Foolishness – This Tanuki Will Experience Them All

Overview:

Yasaburo is a tanuki and one of four brothers who have recently lost their father, the one who used to lead the Tanuki world in Kyoto. With an election fast approaching to decide who the next leader will be, plenty of family drama, and an absolute sense of adventure, this is one story that will quickly take on a life of its own. I’ve already reviewed season 2 of this so if you are looking for that review please click here.

Review:

It is hard work having a famous father. Regardless of how down to earth he might be, people outside the family are always going to judge you based on a comparison to him. For Yasaburo and his brothers they have for most of their lives been found wanting as each one seems to have one part of their father within them but none of them can really match up to the man they remember only as the warm and comforting father who cared for them regardless of their faults and foolish ways (and actually encouraged some of their sillier traits).

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The Eccentric Family tries to keep the slice-of-life and upbeat comedic tone going through its run time with quirky and fast paced dialogue. Certainly the story is jumping around through a series of seemingly disconnected events as Yasaburo pokes his nose into the business of his mother, his various brothers, his uncle and cousins, his tengu mentor and the mentor’s protegé, and the human group that eats Tanuki the Friday Fellows. All of this would make you think that perhaps this is kind of empty viewing or light hearted at best. But this is a show not afraid to delve headfirst into grief and how grief can change a family. For all their foolish actions and the distractions they are seeking out, at their core, every member of the family is deeply hurt by the death of a man they much admired.

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Though, the same can be true of all the characters. None of them are what they at first appear, or at least that isn’t all there is to them. As the story progresses we learn small details about them, we see the characters pushed into a variety of situations and how they respond, and occasionally we see the masks they have carefully constructed for the world come down.

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The character designs are interesting and characters are easy to distinguish though that isn’t the same as being pretty to look at. There’s a weird thing going on with ears in this show, and to be honest the characters aren’t that good to look at, but they are distinct and after awhile you realise how their appearance is such a reflection of their personality, or at least the personality they are trying to project. In that sense, Yasaburo’s near constant shifts early in the show make a great deal more sense.

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For me the strength of the show is in the character dialogue and the music. Both are distinct enough to be memorable and there are some very good exchanges between the characters that leve you smiling or just a little bit broken hearted. However, if you aren’t the kind to enjoy listening to characters exchange barbs, or quirky comments, than you may just find episodes becoming tedious because while there is some action to be found it is definitely spread sparsely throughout the series run time.

I certainly recommend trying this anime though. It has a real charm to it and really portrays the connections between family members in a way that I feel few anime really get (while at the same time it seldom falls into slow drama). There’s a lot going on but all the stories eventually come together and ultimately it is hard to follow Yasaburo around and not get a smile.

I’d love to know your thoughts if you’ve watched The Eccentric Family.


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Fastest Finger First Episode 7: New Rivals, New Brothers, New Buzzers?

Review Episode 7:

This was interesting in that it felt like lots happened during the episode and you could list off a lot of stuff, but in terms of moving the plot forward we started with them preparing for the regular meet and we end with them still in preparation for the regular meet. Points for not letting an episode with almost zero plot progression drag and a lot of that has to do with the different character interactions.

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At the same time though, I just kept kind of wanting them to move this along a bit. As much fun as the quizzes have been, and learning new facts, and watching the characters stumble their way toward being competitive, as a series the show is leaving a lot of room for improvement. We get small hints at character development and relationship building but these haven’t amounted to a lot yet so it is hard to know if the payoff will ultimately be enough to carry the show to its conclusion.

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Still, there are worse ways I could spend twenty minutes of my week than catching the next episode of a show that isn’t exactly brilliant but has managed to remain pretty even in its delivery throughout the season.


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Fastest Finger First Episode 6: Have Phone = Have Social Life, Maybe

Review:

Koshiyama is on an outing with a friend, or at least a classmate in the same club as him so that kind of counts. And he is armed with a smartphone gifted to him by his parents so now he’s out to collect your contact info. Unfortunately, making friends isn’t exactly covered within the phone manual.

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I found this sequence kind of adorable given I always used to love reading the manuals that came with new devices. Saddest thing ever was when they stopped including anything more than basic specs and part guides and made you go online to actually find out how to use the device. Even the Kindle guide only tells you how to open the user manual on the Kindle – tragic but not relevant to the show.

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This episode sees our budding quiz bowl players in an arcade playing a quiz game and of course rival boy is there as well. There’s some back and fourth, some new quiz formats and discussion of how to get faster or better, and some general quizzing before your cliché bullies show up and then get taken out by another character that looks too distinct to be a random one episode character so my bet is they are showing up at a quiz meet later.

Outside of this we get the brief side story of technology girl and the club leader shopping for parts to make the buzzers, and the quiz obsessed girl helping her friend at a maid cafe for reasons that only the word ‘anime’ can explain.

I’ll be honest, this is not such a great episode. Barely anything happens and while there are some laughs to be had with less quizzes and very little narrative going on the characters were left to carry the bulk of the episode and they just aren’t up to the task, despite my finding the main character adorable in an incredibly geeky way.


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Elegant Yokai Apartment Life Episodes 6 + 7: Well, guess that secret is out.

Review Episode 6:

Another resident returns to the apartment (seriously, how many residents are there not living in the complex) and he happens to collect and sell books. Of course one of the books is a bit odd and Inaba and then exorcist girl (who doesn’t ever seem to actually do any exorcisms) noticed.

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Despite her taking the book to be checked out it then shows up in Inaba’s bedroom and hey, turns out it is full of spirits and Inaba is now their master. Only most the spirits in the book seem pretty useless.

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It is a pretty dull episode really, just going through the motions of introduce new character and weird object and then have the cheap comedy of the spirits in the book. However, Hase shows up at the end to save the episode. It seems like Inaba wants to tell him about the apartment but he’s struggling and then after Hase picks a fight with some thugs (as you do) they get chased and the book shows up again kind of outing Inaba’s secret whether he wanted to tell Hase then or not.

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This of course leaves the whole episode on a cliff-hanger but I’m not that annoyed by it. If the last five minutes hadn’t happened this would have been a pretty pointless and dull episode so I was just kind of happy something happened in the end.

Review Episode 7:

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Plunging boldly forward (I’m joking), the show chooses to put the Inaba and Hase conversation about the random spirit on hold while they deal with the thugs, which would make sense except they wrap that up pretty quick and then Hase still kind of leaves without an actual explanation. Nor does he offer any explanation as to his own apparent knowledge, though Inaba is a particular kind of dense given he’s impressed with a fairly rudimentary magic fact.

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Which leads us on to the cutest of the spirits summoned so far. At the behest of the apartment’s occupants, and because cheap jokes are so much better than progressing a plot according to the writers of this increasingly hard to defend show, Inaba summons Death, Thanatos and get’s this cute little guy.

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Seriously, I want one.

Outside of that, the show then goes through a spiritual training sequence that is pretty stock standard before they decide to leave us on another cliff-hanger with Hase dramatically announcing on the phone that he is visiting the apartment. Or at least, that would be dramatic if they hadn’t really shown the outcome of that visit in their preview. This show  makes some truly baffling choices.


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