Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 12

Review:

I’ll give Izetta this, it at least resolves. It may be rushed, the final villain nonsensical, and the final battle may be completely boring to watch but I can’t argue that the story did not finish. I’m annoyed that they seemed unable to commit to Izetta actually sacrificing herself. I’m also annoyed that essentially they allowed the war to end exactly the way the real world war ended rather than allowing the magical sacrifice play a significant role (what is the point of alternative history that isn’t). However, I kind of liked Sieg’s fate as I felt it made that earlier death slightly more meaningful.

Come on, Sophie was throwing trains and they broke the Eiffel Tower for no reason other that because the could. That fight was over-extended rubbish full of action set pieces with no tension just stretching out the conclusion that actually could have been the opening move. Frustrating.

Izetta is available on Crunchyroll.

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Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 10

Review:

Well, they didn’t commit to actually having Izetta stay captured by the enemy but at least she didn’t get out of last week’s predicament unharmed (because that would have pushed it way too far). Unconscious for a period of time and then without the use of her legs (for reasons unexplained), Izetta’s condition pushes Fine over the edge and for the first time in this entire war themed anime it seems like Fine is actually devastated by the results of war. Maybe she’s been playing the stoic leader because its expected, but as a young girl caught up in these events her reactions have been pretty much nothing up until now so seeing her all but break down this episode was a nice human touch.

My biggest criticism of this part of the show is Sophie. She’s evil because she is. She’s sworn revenge and doesn’t care if she’ll die or her body will wear out because she was dead anyway. A villain with nothing to lose, no allegiances, and giving no room for reason might seem like they’d be a good match for the overpowered Izetta but it doesn’t make for compelling writing as you can only listen to so many evil cackles over burning cities before you just want to roll your eyes.

Izetta is available on Crunchyroll.

Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Season 1 Series Review

Overview:

Mobile Suit Gundam 00: The world has been divided into three large blocs; The Human Reform League, The Union and the AEU. Each group is in control of on the orbital elevators that goes to space and is responsible for providing solar energy to the earth.  In an effort to end war, a group named Celestial Being begin carrying out armed interventions using the mobile suits known as Gundam.

Review:

I will eventually get around to rewatching the second season of this and finalise my thoughts. Like most Gundam shows when you only watch the first part it is kind of incomplete and wholly depressing. Rather than the only half-kind of depressed you end up when you watch the entire thing. That said, Gundam 00 is among my favourite of the Gundam shows out there.

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If you’ve never watched one of the Gundam shows they all more or less come down to war is inevitable but no one really wants war and war has terrible consequences that trigger yet more violence. The morals and themes are contradictory as are the actions of many of the characters but if you ever want to look at the human condition and how we seem doomed to continue our cycle of violence, Gundam has you covered. It also has giant robots and fairly cool fight sequences so will keep you entertained while it destroys your faith in humanities ability to ever overcome their basic nature.

Gundam 00 focusses on a terrorist group that were set up by a scientist 200 years ago and have been given technology that at the beginning of the series is far superior to anything the major military powers have. Essentially that means they decide who is causing conflict and then wipe them out to make the point that people shouldn’t be fighting. The fact that the 4 chosen pilots are all opposed to war even while they carry out armed interventions, and they are all aware that they are walking contradictions, makes some of the dialogue intriguing but lacks any kind of subtlety.

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What makes this particular Gundam work for me, where others don’t, is Setsuna. Taken by himself he is a fairly bland individual but in the context of the show, his history, and the relationships he creates with the other characters, he becomes fairly interesting to watch and to see the small changes that occur in him throughout the first season. Part of this is to do with meeting Marina but a lot of it has to do with his choices to find a real purpose behind his being chosen to pilot a Gundam. For a character that outwardly seems fairly passive, he is probably one of the more self-aware characters I’ve come across. He knows his strengths and weaknesses and he second guesses his actions but keeps driving forward. His existence amongst the other Gundam pilots brings out the best, and worst, in them.

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Lockon is a really fun character to get to know, but that’s about as far as it goes, until we get to the final third of this first season when Setsuna’s past is revealed. This triggers a change in Lockon that has a profound flow on effect and forces the viewer to reconsider these characters yet again.

Tieria on the other hand, just hates Setsuna from the get go but even he manages to find common ground when the thrones show up and the two learn (briefly) how to work together. Admittedly, this is a short lived truce as both Setsuna and Tieria have some more growing up to do before they’ll actually find common ground.

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The pilot who has the least to do with Setsuna is probably my second favourite character(s). Allelujah (or Hallelujah depending on which personality is in charge) gives us some of the more entertaining moments and is strangely the most human of the four gundam pilots (despite being a modified super-soldier reject harbouring an inner psycho). That said, Allelujah is the first to deviate from the carefully laid out plan when he goes out of his way to rescue civillians and is also regularly the voice of reason amongst the group. He also provides one of my favourite moments of character progress during the final battle sequence in season 1 but I’ll leave you to watch that for yourself.

In honesty though, there are too many characters. We have representative pilots from all the major blocs as well as independent movements, the leaders of the different countries and organisations, and almost everyone has an aide or a friend following them around so they have someone to talk to rather than monologueing all of their inner thoughts. The vast majority of these characters fall into the trap of becoming caught up in an endless cycle of vengeance and having no personality outside of ‘I’ll get him for…’. After awhile it becomes easier not to remember who they are or to care too much about their stories and the series allows you to not care about them.

Even those characters not actively involved in the fighting are all setting up their own agendas and while it kind of feels believable in that all of these people are out for their own ends, it doesn’t make for compelling watching.

And if you haven’t watched it, stop reading now because I’m about to spoil the end of season 1 without any kind of filter.

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Why do we not care? Because the vast majority of characters that we have met will either be dead or irrelevant by the end of the first season. Yep, we go for an all out space battle and knock off so many of the minor bit players it makes you wonder why they even let them get that far. We also take out a few major players in an attempt to elicit some real emotion from what is otherwise a cold spectacle that serves no purpose other than to reinforce the overall message that violence doesn’t stop war.

Then of course we skip 4 years and get to see where some of the survivors have ended up and that’s where the season ends and we’ll pick it up next time, but don’t worry, we already know who the new main antagonists are going to be because they did knock off the last one.

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Before I give my final thoughts though, I also want to point out that Saji and Louise get my vote for most annoying ‘civilian’ representatives in a military anime. I get that they are trying to show how innocents get caught up in events and how lives are ruined and I also get that a lot of why these two are annoying is because they are trying to show us a happy and uncomplicated life prior to war ripping it apart, but if I could go back and remove every scene involving these two I would. Saji is a pathetic doormat of a character and Louise does not allow you to feel any sympathy for her when tragedy strikes because she’s been such an overbearing drama queen prior to that moment. I really disliked this pair and felt they added little to the viewing experience.

As I said in the beginning, I will rewatch the second season and then finalise my review but if you like mecha anime or if you are wanting to try one that has some interesting characters, the core cast of this are entertaining enough and the story works even if it does try to be too complicated for its own good some times.

What are your thoughts on Gundam  00?

 

Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 9

Review:

Finally a second witch shows up and finally Izetta gets an actual taste of defeat. It would be nice if this meant that some of her naiveté will now wear off and she will actually deal with the reality of being pretty much the only line of defence for a country at war. Of course, only next episode will tell us what they will actually do with this development. My only complaint about this episode is the white witch and the fact that she’s clearly a psycho. We get it, you were betrayed and the legend they tell has been given a nice happy ending that didn’t exist. However, introducing a second witch who just wants to burn down the kingdom Izetta wants to save isn’t exactly the most innovative or interesting thing they could have done and possibly it would be nice to see a bit more to this new character’s personality than revenge against the descendants of people who did her wrong.

Izetta is available on Crunchyroll.

Iron Blooded Orphans Episode 32

Review:

Just letting you know, I am about to name characters and major events from this episode. If you count that as spoiler than please know this was a tragic episode to watch (in the best sense of the word) and I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

For everyone still with me…

It was Aston. It had to be Aston or Takaki and it was clear early in this episode it was going to be Aston and even the manner of his death was pretty heavily foreshadowed with him cautioning Takaki and reminding him that they needed to work the way they always did. So the war is finally done because the guys from Mars finally showed up, but it was all a little bit too late to stop the tragedy we’ve been edging towards for literally weeks. Only, Aston’s death, while tragic, isn’t the real take-home tragedy of the episode. It’s just your normal plot pulling heart strings and taking out a character that they worked hard to make you like after a rough entrance. The real tragedy is what happens after when they are ‘cleaning’ up from this farce of a war. I think even the writers know that there’s no emotion attached anymore when Mikazuki shoots someone in cold blood. We’re kind of used to it. So him passing the gun to Takaki… That was cold, calculated, and utterly devastating.

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Now, in the context of the show it is difficult to argue that Takaki didn’t have ‘the right’ given his friend had just been killed and the guy with his arms restrained behind him kneeling on the floor played a fair role in getting his friend killed. But Takaki, a character that we couldn’t have identified as anything other than the cheerful guy with the smart sister a few weeks ago, just calmly and coldly executed this guy. And then went home to his sister. Admittedly, given her reaction to his return, he’s probably a little bit broken but then the episode ended so we don’t even get to deal with the fall out.

Okay, there’s a much longer post that I could write about this episode but my 100 words are done and for anything else I’ll need to rewatch the episode and think about what I’d really like to focus on.

For now, Orphans continues to hit the right notes and while it isn’t a thrill a minute it is at least thought and emotion provoking.

Iron Blooded Orphans is available on AnimeLab.

Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 8

Review:

Well, at least someone in Izetta remembered that Jonas died and for half-a-moment that became an actual significant plot point and then we move on because now we have to create a sympathetic Germanian character before knocking him off (sorry, should have prefaced that with a spoiler alert but if you’ve been watching the show you probably saw it coming from the parachute drop). Izetta and Fine are still seeking an alliance and as predicted that is going to be as pleasant as expected. Fine really is a little too idealistic to be running a country and Izetta is completely clueless about politics. The only interesting development on that front was the run in with I’m guessing the pod girl and even that is clearly just set up for future events. The real action happened back at the old castle and while it was pleasant enough to watch, the only unexpected thing was the return of the cart driver at the end of the episode.

Okay, my love for this show died out a while ago and while I’m still hoping for a half-decent finish I’m getting more critical of it by the episode.

Izetta is available on Crunchyroll.

Iron Blooded Orphans Episode 31

Reivew:

I know I’ve been predicting death for the cast of Iron Blooded Orphans for awhile now, but it is just as true this week. This is the slow motion fall toward an inevitable end (and not just because it’s part of the Gundam series). It doesn’t seem possible we could get through the next episode without someone biting it but maybe they’ll stretch this tension further. I think that’s what is really working for this series. It knows someone is going to die. The audience knows someone is going to die. But they are raising enough death flags over enough different characters that either we’re in for a massacre or they really just want to keep us guessing when and where.

That said, I’m being kind of callous given there were casualties already from Tekkadan but the show didn’t really seem to care about any of them and only one was even given a name. Plus, they’ve been mowing down the enemy left and right and nobody seems to care about any of them. This treatment of people as nothing is consistent with the show in general though with their fascination with the phrase human debris. Not to mention, we’re all just kind of waiting for Takaki to realise that their ‘leader’ is just playing with them.

It’s hard to say this episode was enjoyable because mostly you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it definitely continues the story along and keeps you watching.

Iron Blooded Orphans is available on AnimeLab.

Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 6

Review (spoiler heavy for the episode – don’t read if you haven’t watched yet):

I said on my Twitter feed at the 30 second mark of Izetta that I really wanted Jonas to get shot. Here’s the problem with Izetta as a show. It started out serious and did that just fine for a few episodes. Then it became two girls on a road trip with one of them so overpowered there was no threat. Then we became cute girls running around a castle with a war backdrop. A little bit more serious and now we spend most of episode 6 with the cute girls again. Only… The start and end of this episode beg us to take them seriously and go back to being all about the dark things that happen during war. Not to mention, the writers clearly felt that they had been too soft and sweet for a number of episodes because that final shot of Jonas was definitely a retaliation against all the pie eating that had happened earlier in the episode.

I’d seriously stop now if you haven’t watched the episode.

Killing Jonas at the start of the episode would have made sense. He overheard something he wasn’t supposed to and he was clearly a danger as it was obvious he could have blurted it out at any moment. But instead of that, we get that moment where he rushes back to camp and blurts out just enough to draw attention to himself (raise your own death flag much) and then we watch Izetta and Fine eat pie.

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At the end of the episode, his death is meaningless. They already know about the Germanian spy and either Jonas has already spilled the beans (in which case killing him is pointless) or he kept his silence (in which case killing him is pointless though you might want to put him under closer supervision).

I don’t mind killing off characters when it serves a purpose but Jonas’ death only tries to recapture some of the drama from earlier in the series but ultimately does nothing except make you wonder if the fates of these characters are being decided by lottery.  If they wanted us to think Sieg was cold and calculating, we already knew that. Ultimately his death only works if thematically this show is going for a no-one wins in war message and that doesn’t actually seem to be the case.

Okay, totally blew my 100 words but I kind of feel that this is the episode where I finally put my hopes for this series aside and now I’m just going to watch it to the end and hope if remains decent. The shiny first and second episode have passed us by and we are left with events that are either generic or lacking in emotional punch.

Izetta: The Last Witch is available on Crunchyroll.

Bungo Stray Dogs Episode 17

Review:

We have transitioned back to the present but this actually wasn’t such a bad thing. Given at the end of the last season they had already introduced the Guild they didn’t waste any time with introductions and just kind of plunged us straight into a three way war. It’s amazing how much more tolerable characters can be when they aren’t just being goofy for the sake of it and actually have a real and pressing danger to deal with. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though as the most obvious criticism is that there are so many characters that it is difficult to care about them, and the ones we’ve already met have pretty much established themselves to be death proof already. Still, a fairly enjoyable episode and a smooth enough transition from Dazai’s past exploits. Last point, I have to agree with Kunikida in asking why is Atsushi back to acting like the damsel in distress when we saw last season that somehow he magically became an awesome fighter in one episode.

Bungo Stray Dogs is available on Crunchyroll.

Izetta: The Last Witch Episode 4

Review:

I asked for an explanation of how magic worked in this show and we more or less got it and that takes away any worries about inconsistency in Izetta’s powers during the tank fight. We also see Fine respond to her father’s death, the enemy dealing with the fall out of losing the battle, and Izetta gets her own PR agent (not really but it feels like it). As an episode, this is kind of nothing. It’s all just set up and tying up loose ends from the first three episodes. If I were marathoning this show, it wouldn’t be a problem because all of this is needed information and will hopefully flow naturally into the next episode. As a stand alone watch though, this was kind of dull even as it gave us what we needed. The show is still pretty this week, though I’d have to ask where they even found that outfit they shoved Izetta into after the totally necessary bath scene. It’s not like any other female in the place is wearing something like that and they didn’t exactly have time to make it. After a great start, Izetta definitely slowed things down a lot this week but I’m hopeful that now that they’ve laid some groundwork we can pick things up again next week.

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Izetta: The Last Witch is available on Crunchyroll.