Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Review Episode 6

The first assignment.

Episode 6

Oh look, my guess was right. Episode 5 we’re told about demons with supernatural abilities and episode 6 of Demon Slayer brings us face to face with a demon who moves through water and can just kind of pop out of the ground or walls at will, and somehow has divided himself into three. It isn’t bad foreshadowing so much as just kind of telegraphed and lacking in any kind of build up, but that’s more or less the only fault I’m going to pick here and it is at least a consistent feature of this anime.

Nezuko now has her own custom suitcase to ride around in, or sleep in as the case may be, and while it looks too small for an actual human let’s just go with it. I wonder how much better and faster Tanjiro would be at fighting if he put the case down first before trying to fight. I mean at one point he was fighting a demon while holding a girl and carrying his sister on his back. That has to slow him down some.

That’s something a creepy stalker would say before locking you in a basement.

Just in case we thought his keen sense of smell was just a gimmick this episode uses it as an ongoing point as Tanjiro tracks the demon around town and ultimately uses scent to attack. The visuals of the red smoke for the demon’s scent are quite effective and at least it is a practical counter to an enemy you can’t see until it attacks.

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On that note, Tanjiro’s water based attacks look awesome this episode. Actually, the whole fight sequence was kind of fun, which is just as well because the tracking the demon and the fight took up the lion’s share of the screen time. There was one odd moment where the episode went to first person with Tanjiro’s sword waving in front of the audience that was a little jarring (and to be honest made me a bit queasy – there’s a reason I have no interest in trying virtual reality), but otherwise the visuals worked very well.

Lastly, Nezuko’s appearance at the end was more or less expected but still pretty awesome. I’m not entirely sure about the morality of hypnotising her and I’m pretty sure it would be narratively better if she just wanted to help others because of her attachment to her brother, but it does at least mean they don’t have to justify her actions as she fights demons.

Kimetsu no Yaiba continues to be entertaining and the quick pace of the story means there’s no time to be bored. While there’s not a huge amount of depth here it is working well enough.

He does look good in that uniform though.

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Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 6: Father’s Day

I don’t know what’s going on this week. I’ve watched a few anime that I’ve really enjoyed but also made me cry. It’s been a very bittersweet sort of week. And Bungo Stray Dogs fits right in!

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me too!

This week it seems we are continuing on the foundational work of developing characters which really should have been better established in earlier seasons. More specifically, we are looking at Kyouka and Atsushi with a little side of Lucy.

On paper this worries me. I have nothing against Kyouka But I always figured she was the token gap more character. The adorable lethal girl with the lethal skills for those that enjoy that sort of thing. Through 2 season and a movie she’s pretty much only been an attractive archetype with nothing much to bring other than a slight twist on the damsel in distress. The bad**s in distress, I suppose. 

As for Atsushi, in many ways I feel he’s the weak link in the series. He’s sort of dull and annoyingly emotional. If he has to makepeace with his gift and accept the tiger one more time, I might need some Pepto. I know it sounds harsh but the only two modes this kid has is expositional wallflower or super angsty weretiger. It gets grating, or worse, boring.

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I should have used that crying screencap again

How am I doing selling this episode so far?

Maybe I’m just predisposed to this season, but I think there’s been a net improvement in Atsushi’s character. I’m not about to call him my favourite or anything but we’ve been focusing on him for two episodes now and I’ve yet t be annoyed by him. He got a bit emotional in the second half of this one, but it was pretty justified.

We start off by being reintroduced to Lucy and neatly tying off a loose end from season 2 in the process. Well done guys! Lucy is a great choice as a character to bring back. She’s shifty enough that her allegiances could go either way. Her gift is powerful but inconvenient. I might have prefered to see a little more of Twain or Poe, but she’s a solid choice.

The arc then quickly shifts to show us finally what happened to Kyouka’s parents and it’s not exactly what we’ve been led to believe. In fact, it was considerably more interesting in my opinion. And it fundamentally changes a lot of what Kyouka has held as truth and has been influenced by all her life. She must now figure out how to shift her anger and her guilt. This revelation changes everything.

But by far the best part, was how this revelation came to light. There are still people in this world that love Kyouka very much. I teared up a little.

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I’m not ashamed!

The second half tok yet another stab at Atsushi’s les misérable orphanage past but for the first time we get a bit of moderation. It’s still awful but with space and perspective it becomes nuanced. People do terrible things with the best of intentions.

We don’t get that much in the way of new information but the episode did tell us one very important things. Atsushi led a difficult and painful childhood. One that was unfair and that no child deserves. But he was also loved. And the man who raised him, truly did want him to grow up to be a good and happy man. That’s a gift that cannot be overestimated. 

It throws your whole world astray. When you believed yourself to have been completely alone and reviled your entire life, to suddenly find out that someone out there was trying their best for you. And then to just as quickly find out that that person is now gone. That’s a pretty trying emotional roller coaster for anyone o put up with. Especially little Atsushi.

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 I did, a lot

So what are we left with after having our two young heroes face their mommy and daddy issues and completely upend their understanding of the world. Well, we do have two important but so far very flat characters finally gain some depth. It was also smart to keep the stories fairly short. No time for overblown melodrama or annoying contrivances.

It was probably the weakest episode of the season when taken by itself but you can tell that it’s foundational and I appreciate seeing that effort is being put into the groundwork. It’s a good sign.

I’m looking forward to the next episode and I’m starting to miss Fyodor just a smidge.

As usual, in order not to clutter Karandi’s media library I’ve stored the rest of the screencaps on my blog. If you’d like, you can go see them HERE .

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what is she looking at?

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Midnight Occult Civil Servants Review Episodes 5 + 6

The supernatural mystery grows.

I have to give Arata credit here for a very appropriate reaction.

Episode 5

Not sure how I feel about the Another of the week being Pandora. Not to mention, it was pretty obvious from her first appearance where they were going with it so the reveal of her name toward the end of the episode didn’t meet with quite the ‘ooh’ moment I think they were going for given Arata’s reaction.

Still, the set-up here is nice for a case-of-the-week kind of story with an urban legend about an elevator to a parallel world. I do feel they probably should have done more investigation to determine if anyone was missing prior to actually looking into supernatural origins but we’ll just go with it. The basic flow of this episode was fine as they introduced the problem, the investigators looked around, and then Arata and Sakaki trigger a condition and get taken in the elevator to another dimension.

The dimension itself is at first kind of awe inspiring and I can imagine if I’d ever gotten out of an elevator into such a place it would be shocking. But, it quickly becomes kind of dull. And as Arata and the Another prattle on making very little ground as mostly we’re just getting another emphasis of the fact that despite being able to understand their words, Arata really doesn’t get Another’s, nor does he really make much effort beyond asking her to stop what she’s doing. It isn’t as though he proposes an alternative or discusses why what she is doing might be a problem, merely insists it is.

This is where a stronger lead character, or at least a more interesting one, would come in handy because an actual debate about the morality here might have lead to an interesting exchange. Instead, while this all works, it remains decidedly average in execution and content.

Ultimately, this episode seems to serve little purpose other than adding a minor bit of backstory to one character and while it was enjoyable enough there was so much more potential here than it actually delivered on.

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Episode 6

With twelve episodes in this season (at least as far as MAL is concerned) we’ve hit the halfway point and I’m actually feeling optimistic about this series. Episode 6 brings together so many elements from the previous episodes to set up a new challenge for Arata and the team to deal with and it just did it in such an effortless manner.

This episode we learn that one of the girls they rescued previously in the zombie like episode has woken up and so Arata and Kyoichi go to interview her. So far so ordinary with them revisiting a victim now that she’s woken up. However we learn quickly that she wasn’t a recent kidnapping and despite looking like a teenager she should be well and truly older. We also learn a few details about her abduction, most notably the black sand, and then learn that she’s lost her ability to sing.

None of this is all that odd given some of the things we’ve seen from the Another’s and yet it means something to Kyoichi. Tragic back story time as the older member of the team fills Arata in on the his sister’s abduction when he was younger giving him a personal investment in the current situation.

While the civil servants are doing their thing though, Huehuecoyotl is busy setting up more mischief and we see that he ends up directing the kidnapper toward Arata’s friend, I’m assuming just for his own amusement.

Honestly, while the visuals remain pretty unimpressive and the animation is ordinary at best, I’m enjoying the way this story is rolling out and episode 6 has really managed to catch my attention and it feels like all of these characters have finally settled into their roles and now they can just get on with things rather than feeling forever like we’re getting introduced to stuff. It is a comfortable place to be in the mid-season and hopefully this means Midnight Occult Civil Servants will be able to pull together an interesting second half.

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Fairy Gone Review Episodes 3 + 4

Why have one coincidence when you can have 5?

Fairy Gone Episode 3

Episode 3

In episode 3, Fairy Gone seems to focus on the black fairy tome. After giving us a few scenes tying up loose ends from their last mission, Free and Marlya meet a Vice-Minister who explains what the fairy tomes are and why people are searching for the black one. Or kind of. Despite the amount of screen time the explanation takes up we still don’t really know why people want it other than it was torn out of the original tome.

From there it should be a simple matter of meet the scholar and collect a piece of the tome but you know why make things easy?

Free encounters yet another face from his past (again, is it really that hard for them to meet new people, does every encounter have to come with back-story and complications) in the form of Bitter Sweet – what a name? There’s some wine drinking and some really unsubtle dialogue and then a chirpy yellow fairy starts creating a raucous.

Because, you know, two groups after the tome wasn’t enough, let’s also throw in the mafia. We then have a three way chase sequence that ends in a bit of a fight and stand-off.

I actually enjoyed most of this, though again it will only work if ultimately these threads they are spinning come together in a satisfying manner. However, it felt like everything took longer than it should and more than once in a scene I found my eyes flicking to the clock to see just how long it had gone.

The other issue with the story being that despite the whole fairy soldiers being more or less wiped out in the war and the creation of them being illegal, it seems like every other person we meet is possessed. Much like continually running into people our protagonists have back-stories inter-connected with, they really are pushing coincidences a little too far. While it might be well and good to say that working in the job they do, Marlya and Free and more likely to encounter fairy possessed people, occasionally you think they would run into someone a little more ordinary.

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Episode 4

Something novel happened; we didn’t begin with a flashback. That said, immediately after completing the fight from last episode we had a flashback but it seems like there’s some progress here.

These fights are still ridiculously dark – need some more contrast here.

I don’t mind the fights between humans and fairies. They took a bit to get used to in this series but watching Free fighting Sweet and Marlya jumping into the fray was pretty cool and the fight in the tomb later was also kind of interesting to watch. Knowing a bit more about the parameters and limitations of the fairies would probably help add weight to some of the fighting, but mostly it works.

I am starting to get the impression that the ministry is pretty useless. I mean, they recovered the tome only to have it stolen almost the next day and it seems they are always a step behind or on the back foot.

Meanwhile, we meet some other characters who clearly work for Dorothea who are searching some other guy’s house though the why is not really clear or who he is, other than a name. It is a little disjointed when you jump from character to character but you don’t know who some of the characters are and others just haven’t been given any time to develop.

Still, the partnership between Free and Marlya has finally worked itself out and we have a bit of flow between the two of them. That’s what I making the majority of this episode pleasant enough to watch. Hopefully these two continue to build some chemistry as the series continues.

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Bungo Stray Dogs 3 – ep 5: The Girl With The Flowing Black Hair

Every Friday after I finish the latest episode of Bungo Stray Dogs’ season 3, I think the exact same thing to myself: Gowsh – I can’t wait to see the next one! This should give you a clue about how this review is going to go!

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Exactly!

Let me just say right off the bat, the writing this season has gone up a considerable notch! You hear about animation boosts as budgets get increased for later seasons of popular shows, well this time we have a narration boost and it is hugely welcomed.

The episode starts off by catching us up with the Armed Detective Agency. This is pure nostalgia fanservice but I have to admit, I got a huge kick out of seeing them all together again. Even Atsushi was great and I usually find him rather dull. We got some friendly and fun little banter in a coffee shop that established a much lighter mood than we’ve seen so far and reminded us that BSD is often a comedy. But a shadow was lurking, dum dum DUM.

One scene later that lovely café where they had enjoyed such a pleasant afternoon, lay in tatters and the owner was holding an injured hand with his fingernails ripped off. As I looked at our heroes’ horrified faces I though, whoa – they are wasting no time. Attacking straight on the agency’s home turf and violently at that. This is epic. Does Fyodor really move that fast? why? The scene was such a 108 from the previous one, it made me dizzy in the best way.

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stuff just got realz!

We quickly find out it was the doing of some new criminal organization called the Park but their affiliations are uncertain. At this point I thought to myself, well this is a little weak. The new leader was carefully detailing the organization and flexing in what was a rather ungraceful straightforward info dump. Not to mention that yet another criminal organization in this occasionally overstuffed plot seemed lazy. Dostoyevsky is much more interesting as a lone gunman villain and brings something new. If we wash him down with some two bit gang, the character loses some of his appeal and mystic.

And I should really learn some patience some day. Not only did the Armed Detective Agency track down this supposedly uncatchable group in seconds, they also disposed of them in roughly the same span of time. We even got to see Akiko have some fun which is always a reat. Not only that but the next intant the café was back in sparkling form and the apparently unharmed owner seemed no worse for wear.

the entire opening act was one big slapstick subversion of every trope we’ve come to expect from the show. It was wry, funny with just a bit of bite and reintroduced us to the characters in the best way possible. I don’t think past seasons managed this level of charm or wits in the writing and it set the bar rather high, in a season that has been impressive on that front.

Bungo Stray Dogs S3 ep 5 (12)
you know what, I say just run

The rest of the episode took a turn as it split focus between Atsushi and Doppo trying to get help from a former Armed Detective Agency member called Katai Tayama and Higuchi trying to figure out what Akutagawa is up to.

Katai has a gift which allows him to control computers and Doppo is hoping this will help them figure out something about the microchip that almost caused the Moby Dick to crash into the city last season. Unfortunately the man is lovestruck, having fallen for an elegant black haired beauty, and currently useless until he can track down the lady and confess.

Meanwhile, Higuchi accidentally runs into Akutagawa outside Mafia headquarters for once but he is with an elegant black haired beauty, which leads Higuchi to fear the worst. Namely that he has gotten himself a girlfriend! Hilarity and hijinks abound as the two groups cross paths and rce to find out the truth. I,m not gonna tell you what it is. There’s a few good twists. You should watch this episode!

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stalking shows you care!

The second half unfold like a lighthearted romantic comedy. Complete with misunderstandings and comical overreaction but that smart writing still come through. First it’s just plain fun but mostly, it sets up a lot of things without making obvious at all.

Throughout the episode we are reminded of the season two finale and they are starting to tie both season’s together, making a larger arc rather than throwing out past seasons like a lot of shonen. Second, the episode served as a huge character development (even a touch of backfill) for a lot of important players.

Most notably the stoic Higuchi just became my favourite character, showing an adorably hopeless side and just plain fun personality. But we also got a lot of background information and establishment on important Port Mafia characters we hardly saw in the episode. Not to mention that it was a pretty in depth introduction for Katai which might turn out to be a major player (or sacrificial pawn) this season.

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relatable

If this keeps up, season 3 is set to eclipse the previous ones in my mind and I’m already a little bummed out that it only gets 12 episodes. This story had potential to grow and it seems to be in the hands of a very skilled team. This will likely be the season that finally pushes me to buy all the manga.

As a side note, I’m really enjoying both the OP and ED. The OP is fun with a good beat to and great animation to get you in the mood, while the ED is a smooth wind down after the excitement of the episode with just a hint of melancholy in the imagery. I think I like the visuals of the OP a little better and the song of the ED a bit more. Do you have a preference?

Since Karandi doesn’t have unlimited storage space, I’ve dumped all the screencaps on my blog so you can go see them HERE if you like. Yes there is an unreasonable number of them.

Bungo Stray Dogs S3 ep 5 (54)

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Midnight Occult Civil Servants Review Episodes 3 + 4

Ugly visuals but interesting premise.

This is a very trustworthy face.

Episode 3

Just going to point out that Midnight Occult Civil Servants is making a good run for ugliest visuals of the season. While I get night scenes need to be dark, the lack of contrast or distinction in the visuals makes this a murky and unpleasant viewing experience even if I’m inherently interested in the story.

Midnight Occult Civil Servants Episode 3
For example, this could have been an interesting scene but instead I’m stuck tilting my head and squinting at it trying to figure out just what I’m looking at.

With that said, the story isn’t exactly running along. This episode focused entirely on fighting off the corpses woken at the end of the last episode and while we learned that the Another that was responsible for waking them was a friend of Arata’s ancestor, little else was gained from the episode in terms of greater narrative. Then again, we are still establishing the world and the relationships between the different wards and the police involvement in cases involving the Another’s so maybe that is enough for a third episode.

Despite wanting to like this anime, and for the most part enjoying it, even I have to roll my eyes at the solution though. Drawing the Another’s name from a memory of a story his grandfather told him, Arata is fast becoming a protagonist that just has whatever information or skill is needed to solve the problem at any given time but doesn’t know until it is needed. That essentially means he can pull any fact from some childhood story at any time to solve any future problems and that sets a dangerous precedent and makes it difficult to take any dangers seriously when he overcomes them as easily as thinking really hard about a childhood memory.

Still, I am enjoying this supernatural story so far. The range of yokai involved seems quite extensive and it seems that some of them at least are going to pose actual threats. It also seems like there’s going to be a focus on the way different groups respond to the yokai. I guess we’ll wait and see what is ultimately delivered but for all the flaws this series has shown in its first couple of episodes, Midnight Occult Civil Servants works well enough and as someone who is a fan of the genre being delivered it is doing enough to keep me interested.

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Episode 4

I finally figured out what was bothering me about character designs in Midnight Occult Civil Servants. All of the characters look like they suffer from sleep deprivation due to the way their eyes are drawn. At first I thought it was just Arata and they were trying to show the fatigue of his situation but then I realised all the characters have the same basic feature and it is what has been throwing me off so far.

Arata Episode 2 - Midnight Occult Civil Servants

Anyway, this week is a more stand alone story with Arata learning to deal with his new yokai housemates and then work taking a tour of a district and checking in on the yokai in the area. A problem arises when a police officer is kidnapped by a yokai who turns out to be the god of a shrine and the group need to get him back.

I’m not entirely sure the characters meandering about and meeting weird yokai really counts as much of a plot and it eats up a lot of episode time. While the encounter with the monkey spirits turns out to be a necessary development for the resolution, the random naked guy and other spiritual encounters are really just filler for an episode, that while interesting in some ways, lacks substance in a lot of others.

Yeah, random naked guy is random. Does not appear again.

The drinking challenge solution to the kidnapped officer is also a little weird because it seems bizarre they’d accept that challenge or not try to think of an alternative. The other issue I am having is their continued statements that the Anothers are like natural disasters. So far each Another that we’ve encountered has had clear reasons for their actions even if they aren’t reasonable by human standards. It seems bizarre an organisation that is meant to monitor them hadn’t found more information or ways to deal with them over the years.

Outside of that, this is pretty easy viewing and while it isn’t amazing by any stretch it is still keeping me entertained. Hopefully it continues to do so until the end of the season.

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Fairy Gone Review Episodes 1 + 2

Messy beginning but potentially intriguing premise.

Episode 1

Well, having read many first impressions and early episode reviews of Fairy Gone I’d definitely revised my expectations downwards and that kind of paid off. While I can see why the first episode at least hasn’t exactly wowed viewers, I actually found it worked well enough. Sure, I doubt we needed to start the episode with a history lesson of places we don’t know or care about and I am almost positive we could have gained most that information more organically later, and I know the designs of the fairies are pretty much beyond ugly, but otherwise this did its job of kind of making me interested it intends to go.

Contrast would be nice.

One thing that does concern me is the absolute lack of chemistry between Marlya and Free. The two of them have many scenes together and exchanges in this first episode and while it kind of seems like they are trying to set up some kind of banter between the two, mostly the dialogue is coming off as stilted and the two are absolutely making no connection. I really hope they don’t intend for this to ever develop into any kind of romance because that would be as realistic and entertaining as watching a broom stick fall in love with a mop.

Marlya and Free - Fairy Gone Episode 1

There’s also a lot of information dumping going on in this episode outside of the history lesson. Free explains a lot of stuff to Marlya in a storage room that kind of seems like she should already know it given where she is and it is difficult for me to figure out how much of that information is relevant or that I need to care about.

Then there are the fairies that Veronica, Free and Marlya all use in this first episode. The connection and relationship between the human and the fairy is ill-defined. Veronica’s seems to have physical form and deflects bullets and things away from but also seems to turn into smoke and attack those she’s cut with her dagger, but the connection between the two is not really clear. Also, the fairy seems to disappear and then is called back but whether it can do this indefinitely or not is also pretty vague.

Still, considering I went into this with substantially lowered expectations after reading some reviews, I was pleased to find the first episode at least was watchable and given the genre and subject matter, I’m going to give it a little bit to find its feet because I’d like to see what it might do.

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Episode 2

This anime has already established a really weird pattern of putting seemingly irrelevant flashbacks at the beginning of the episode. I don’t know if Fairy Gone was trying to establish character backstory or what but the disconnected scenes we got at the start of this episode didn’t elicit any emotion other than some kind of desire for them to get to a point. We don’t care enough about the characters to care about random deaths in their background, particularly when none of the characters or events seem connected to what follows in this episode.

This guy’s name was Jet. He died instead of Free during the war. Why that matters I have no idea.

That said, once the episode proper began with Free making his report on the events of last week and then Free and Marlya joining up with two other members of Free’s team to spy on a possible arms deal, the rest of the episode proceeded relatively logically and entertainingly enough. Considering how much the characters seem to like explaining things it would be nice if we actually knew the limitations of the fairies but that seems like we’re just asking for too much and so we see Marlya unable to summon her fairy again after it was injured but that seems kind of random. How much do you have to injure the fairy to prevent its summoning given Veronica’s was injured last week but managed to still be summoned?

It also seems overly convenient that this week’s antagonist is summon from Free’s past given Veronica, last week, was from Marlya’s past. Given the whole unification war and that they are all travelling about, could they possibly just deal with someone not intricately tied into their past? Would these stories not have more impact if they came later after establishing the main characters a bit more so we were actually more caring about their backgrounds?

Wolf and Marlya - Fairy Gone Episode 2

There’s also some questionable design choices going on here with the transports just looking outright ludicrous as they scurry about and tip over seemingly far too easily.

But, despite the complaints, I am kind of curious and Free and Marlya seem a little more in sync this week. Wolf also seems like he might be an interesting antagonist if they actually bother to develop him. There’s plenty of potential plot fodder bubbling along here with different factions and levels of command and so I think I’ll kind of stay hopeful that maybe this one actually does eventually do something with all that potential. Those hopes might be dashed later, but for now I’ll keep watching.

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