Chain Chronicle – The Light of Haecceitas Episode 12

Review:

Hey, after 12 episodes I finally spelt the name right on the first go instead of the fifth. There’s an achievement. Anyway, this ends pretty much exactly the way you would expect given the story so far. It’s never done more than be a standard sword and sorcery fantasy and the ending, in all its light show, sword clashing, dragon fighting glory is as standard as it comes, including the final boss having three forms to fight through before he was finally defeated. But hey, nobody really cared about the black king because we had to save Yuri.

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So yes, we even get a fight of good Yuri vs evil Yuri inside his head again, just in case we hadn’t already hammered that cliché into the ground. And while this show has always had a heavy light vs dark theme this episode really just hammered it.

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But the strength of bonds and friendship wins, because this is standard fantasy and don’t worry too much about anyone because you know we wouldn’t want the good guys to not feel like they had an outright victory.

Despite what might seem like a harsh episode review, I had a lot of fun watching this and I’m looking forward to writing a review of the whole series.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Chain Chronicle – The Light of Haecceitas Episode 11

Review:

This is all pretty stock standard final battle material now. Characters who have been at odds or set up as opposites face each other and there are a lot of extras getting knocked off (not that it matters given the black king seems to be able to auto generate soldiers at will). It isn’t exactly exciting but it isn’t entirely dull either. Juliana actually stole the best part of this episode with her duel with Burkhardt (and thank goodness someone finally dealt with him – he has felt like an unnecessary character ever since Yuri turned to the dark side). Of course the episode ends with Yuri and Aram facing off. Pretty much, if you’ve watched until now this is a necessary episode to continue things along to fighting the king, but the episode itself wasn’t anything special.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Chain Chronicle – The Light of Haecceitas Episode 8

Review:

There was a moment early in this episode where I realised they’d just thrown us into the middle of a battle and we didn’t know who was fighting or which side they were on. And then I realised that of course we knew who the bad guys are, they are all in black. This story is basic fantasy and they throw a million characters at us but other than our core group none of the others really serve any purpose other than momentary assistance, advice, death count, or needing to be rescued. As a result you can just kind of let the names roll past you and ignore them. It makes for light and amusing viewing but at the same time feels like a bit of a waste that this world isn’t fleshed out any more than it has been.

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Of course we spend quite a bit of time on Yuri this episode. He’s gone to the dark side fairly literally but Aram isn’t really in the mood to take that lying down. Enter a magic book and let’s finally see how Yuri got to where he is.

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Mostly I just felt sorry for this poor tree but that isn’t here or there. While it would be easy to say the world building and character development of this show is sloppy, this core group have really become interesting in the last few episodes and the story continues with enough momentum to entertain. The show has never tried to be anything particularly profound. It really is by the numbers fantasy but it does it reasonably well.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Chain Chronicle: The Light of Haecceitas

Review:

It really feels like other than Shuza, nobody in this world had ever considered any other way of fighting the black king other than Yuri. With Yuri getting taken over the sorcerers, the holy queen, and even Yuri’s friends are all kind of at odds and not really knowing what to do. Shuza on the other hand just seems to want to take over the world and to be honest I’m not sure how he’s any better than the black king (you know, other than having a personality and a bit of flair on screen).

However, this does clear the stage for Aram to step up and he does in the best way you could expect given how new he is to this whole idea of working with others. Not a lot else happens this episode but it was a solid follow up to last week.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Chain Chronicles: The Light of Haecceitas Episode 6

Review:

One of my pet hates when watching anime is how easily characters are brainwashed or manipulated, particularly during critical moments. With that said, as Chain Chronicles completes it’s ‘come to the dark-side’ moment I’m actually impressed that for once the villains (and various hallucinations) gave a fairly concrete argument as to why the hero was wasting his time. It was easy to chip away at his resolve because he has already raised an army and tried to defeat the black king and he has failed completely.

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Unlike so many other anime would be heroes, he genuinely has reason to doubt that he can ever succeed and not just because he doesn’t trust himself, but because he’s already given his all once and crashed and burned hard.

Yeah, other stuff happens this episode. Princess pink hair gives a rousing speech and decides to become a Queen, but the majority of this episode is around Yuri falling into darkness.

Chain Chronicles is available on Crunchyroll.


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Yuri On Ice Series Review

Wait, did I just schedule a Yuri on Ice review for Valentine’s Day? Oh, that’s right. I definitely did.

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Overview:

Yuri Katsuki is a Japanese figure skater who kind of feels his not-so-glorious career is over when Victor (his idol from Russia) shows up to become his coach. I reviewed this week to week, it took out my best of the season and the year (and was the reader’s choice as well), and after episode 10 I wrote a feature on the appeal of Yuri on Ice to me (all of which can be found here) so now I have to try to review it as a series.

Given everything already out about this series, I’m not even trying to avoid spoilers and my review will outright tell you who wins the final competition so if that is an issue, please go check out some of my other posts on Yuri on Ice instead.

Review:

Let’s be honest, this is not going to be an overly objective view. I’m going to try, but I’m going to fail, because just saying the name Yuri on Ice still makes me smile like a bit of an idiot. I’m actually going to take this as a plus/minus review because that is going to help maintain some objectivity and it will also mean I’m not just reiterating stuff I’ve already said in my over posts on this series (or at least there will be less reiteration – I’ve written a lot about Yuri on Ice already).

Plus +

The characters in this story feel real. That was kind of the main point of the feature I wrote back while this was airing. Are they the most well rounded characters in all history? Not really. Do they contain infinite levels of depth? Definitely not. But they feel real. In real life people aren’t always well rounded and depth is something that even if someone has it they don’t always show and these characters have enough depth to keep from being boring. Even the minor characters who get very little screen time feel like real people. One of the criticisms I’ve read of the show is that the support cast exist only to lose and from a narrative point of view that is kind of true. However, someone has to lose the competition (or at least not win) and given our main characters (Yuri, Victor, and Yurio) kind of only interact with their family sparingly and then other ice-skaters and their coaches, it kind of makes sense that most of the support cast are competition and that at some point they are going to lose events. I don’t actually see that as an issue with the characters and more an inevitability of watching a sports anime. I love the cast of Yuri on Ice (even JJ who is really an obnoxious braggart but is never actually cruel to the other skaters which is an important point for when they switch things around in the final competition and make you see him through a different lens). They just feel like this could be a real group of people for at least 80% of the run-time of the show.

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Minus –

While it is fantastic that we got to see a romance between two male characters that didn’t involve either one declaring they weren’t gay, acts of violence, or acts that are borderline if not totally predatory, Yuri on Ice didn’t really delve into this. Rather, it feels like they wanted to just ignore the fact that this was a male on male relationship and just tell a story of a relationship which is fine and it would be lovely to see more shows just tell the story they want to tell (so not really a minus). But while it was lovely to see the main characters just accept their attraction and relationship the fact that every other character in the story just accepts it as well and not one person ever raises the issue that they are gay or both guys or anything else, really shatters the realism that is built up almost everywhere else in this story. It is great that this relationship is accepted in the world of Yuri on Ice. It is great that they didn’t need to spend half the run-time justifying themselves. But when you have a Thai character announce to an international group of competitors and a restaurant full of customers from Barcelona that his two male friends just got married and no-one says anything except congratulations (admittedly, he did make the announcement in Japanese) you just have to wonder about the reality being presented. Certainly it would be great if this is how such announcements were greeted but for the most part I think most of us know that this isn’t how such an announcement would be taken. So, no, I’m not criticising Yuri on Ice for not being a political piece on gay rights but I am criticising it for this one critical break from constructing a believable reality in terms of the main relationship.

Plus +

This is so pretty. Okay, people who know a lot about animation and people who are more critical in general of animation than me, will point out the terrible facial expressions some of the characters have if you pause at points during their routines. They will also point to reused sequences of animation for the routines. There’s a few other parts they’ll hold up to show you that this anime doesn’t have amazing animation. Sorry, but I disagree with them whole-heartedly. This is beautiful to watch. The colours, the movement, most of the expressions, everything is just gorgeous and if a certain action sequence gets reused multiple times I’m fine with that. Outside of the skating I loved how each of the venues was shown and I love the small details are included throughout. Yuri on Ice is beautiful and for something that seems pretty simple on the surface there is an incredible amount of detail that you can find when you start looking (and my rewatch of this series only convinced me that I’ll have to rewatch it again, soon, to pull out yet more details).

Minus –

I kind of touched on this when I talked about the characters but the story is really simple. While this isn’t really a problem in a character driven show there really isn’t much going on from a story point of view. Even the other competitors aren’t really constructed as antagonists because they aren’t. Yuri is facing himself and his own self-doubts. Yurio is trying to transition into the senior competition and prove he is better than what he has shown the world so far. JJ is trying to fan his own ego. The characters are all facing some inner-demon rather than an actual antagonist or conflict. The competition is more or less just a way to show us who is winning their psychological battle at any given moment. Yurio winning overall was predictable early on and Yuri not winning gold was also nearly a foregone conclusion after Victor said they’d get married if he did. In light of wanting another season this ending was definitely needed. However, Yuri did need to show how much he’d improved and overcome through Victor’s presence so a silver medal and a world record will just have to do. Still, a lack of antagonist or real conflict won’t detract from the overall viewing experience so while from a narrative point of view this might be a minus, from an enjoyment point of view it probably won’t interere with the fun of watching.

Plus +

Can we talk about the music for a moment? Because after you get past one of the most memorable opening themes of the year what you have is a show that just throws amazing music at you. Admittedly, given each skater has two separate songs and we’re introduced to a lot of different skaters over the course of the show, it was kind of easy for this anime to hit us hard with brilliant music. However, what really sold the music was the solid link to characterisation. These skaters are revealing who they are through their music (part of that ongoing inner battle) and each piece has been perfectly mapped to the character. Some of these links are obvious with Yuri naming his original piece ‘Yuri on Ice’ and JJ naming his ‘Theme of King JJ’ but others are far more subtle and yet equally powerful. I am going to have to get the soundtrack to this anime at some point because the music is exceptionally well done.

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Minus –

This is a criticism I raised early on in the series when reviewing week to week and it is of some of the dialgoue. Between being cheesy, obvious, or incredibly lame there are some terrible lines of dialogue early on (though admittedly some of this may be because things got lost in translation). The instances of lame dialogue thinned out as the series progressed but there were definitely a few face palm worthy moments early in the show. Actually, some of the interactions between Victor and Yuri later in the series border on brilliant, not because there is a stand out line that makes you go ‘yes’ but because they really develop a natural pattern of conversation (or arguments) as they spend more time together.

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Plus +

This is a truly emotional experience. Okay, that is beyond subjective but if the characters have drawn you in to their romance and their desire to win then you will find yourself incredibly caught up in the final episodes. I know I was. There were tears. Both first and second time through. They were mostly happy tears.

Plus +

Yeah, that’s two in a row, I’m cheating. While the story is pretty basic I loved how early events impact upon later ones and flash backs are used with real purpose and make you reconsider both the story and the characters. I’m not going too much into this because it is something that is better to experience but information you gain as you go will continue to change how you view the early events and this definitely helps give the basic storyline a little bit more of a wow factor.

I’m going to leave this on the positive because even though I thought I’d said everything I wanted to about Yuri on Ice before this review still just spiralled a little out of control even after multiple rewrites and edits.

Final thought, if you are one of the very few people who haven’t already watched Yuri on Ice (or haven’t already totally written it off because of all the crazy fans) then you should definitely give it a go. Maybe it won’t rock your world but its definitely got a solid (if simple) story with characters that moved me (and clearly thousands of other crazy fans).

Please tell me why you loved Yuri on Ice below… or tell me why it wasn’t your thing.


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Chain Chronicle – The Light of Haecceitas Episodes 2 + 3

Review Episode 2:

Chain Chronicle picked up directly where we left off with Yuri and Aram defeating the soldiers who were attacking the village. After Aram faints and then wakes up, Yuri gives him a talking to and attempts to recruit him into his volunteer army which by the end of the episode he’s decided to change the name of. This show does not do subtle.

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These are the bad guys in case you couldn’t figure that part out. This is generic fantasy without any surprises so far and to be perfectly frank I’m enjoying it. It’s felt like a long time since someone just did a steep the world in darkness kind of story without trying to throw some massive over-complication in to make it seem more clever. There’s very little to recommend it, it doesn’t stand out from any of the other generic fantasy out there nor does it seem to be trying to at the moment. The writing is okay, the characters generic, the fight sequences passable, and basically if you just want to switch off and do fantasy for awhile this is working.

Review Episode 3:

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Is this the characters admitting they have no clue where to go or what their next step is so we’ll just kind of aim for this group of people and hope they can exposition us out of nowhere? Okay, it’s a fairly standard plot development in fantasy but it doesn’t make it any better. The Princess has gone to round up some allies and Yuri and his group are off to see the sages and then… I don’t think any of them have thought any further than we want to win. There are some cool moments this episode with Aram and Burckhardt (predictable but cool) and the final minutes give us a bit of excitement before the episode ends.

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This remains a fairly generic but decent enough fantasy so far.

Chain Chronicle is available on Crunchyroll.


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Autumn 2016 Week 13

This is my last overview for Autumn. Though I don’t think many of the Winter shows are starting straight up so not sure what next week will bring yet. Anyway, this is my final list and tomorrow I’ve got my reflection post with the best and worst for the year as well as the result of the reader poll coming out.

Feel free to share your thoughts on this season in the comments below.
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I Must Keep Watching

  • Yuri on Ice (Ep 12 – Finished)
  • Natsume Yuujinchou Go (Ep 11 – Finished)
  • March Comes in Like a Lion (Ep 11)

March Comes in Like a Lion is odd. Not that the show itself is odd but it is more the enjoyment I get from watching it is odd. When  I step back I have to wonder why it has taken me in the way it has and while I am loving it, it is a show I will really have to think about and probably rewtach before I can really explain what’s actually good or not about it. Still wondering how it is going to stretch content for another 12 episodes but looking forward to what it does.

 

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Still On My Radar

  • Lostorage Incited WIXOSS (Ep 12 – Finished)
  • Days (Ep 24 – Finished)
  • Iron Blooded Orphans (Ep 37)
  • Bungo Stray Dogs (Ep 24 – Finished)
  • Flip Flappers (Ep 13 – Finished)
  • Izetta: the Last Witch (Ep 12 – Finished)

Lostorage Incited WIXOSS was never really brilliant but it has been consistent in its narrative and after 12 episodes I can honestly say I’m glad I watched it. Certainly there are better shows and this isn’t one I’d say was  must watch, but it was certainly worth the time this season.

This far in to Iron Blooded Orphans I’m unlikely to drop it but the last two episodes have definitely been less fun to watch and I’m currently really disengaging from the viewing experience. I’m hoping it picks back up soon.

Flip Flappers left off without really ever giving me much satisfaction. It is kind of fun to watch and visually it is gorgeous but the characters and story just never quite accomplish anything so while I liked this more than Izetta in the end it is still a series that I wish could have been better.

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Not Dropped But Not Sold On These

  • Kiss Him, Not Me (Ep 12 – Finished)
  • Trickster (Ep 12 – No episode this week)
  • Bloodivores (Ep 12 – Finished)
  • Nazotokine (Ep 12 – Finished)

Another one I am glad to see finished. Kiss Him, Not Me is probably not a terrible anime but I was never the right audience for it and watching it was more of an endurance test than anything else. Well, done now and just have to review.

 

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Dropped

  • Cheating Craft (Ep 4 – Dropped)
  • Girlish Number (Ep 1 – Dropped)
  • Nanbaka (Ep 2 – Dropped)
  • Magical Girl Raising Project (Ep 2 – Dropped)
  • Matoi the Sacred Slayer (Ep 2 – Dropped)
  • Touken Ranbu – Hanmaru (Ep 1 – Dropped)
  • To Be Hero (Ep 1 – Dropped)
  • Occult;Nine (Ep 1 – Dropped)
  • Dream Festival (Ep 1 – Dropped)

Autumn 2016 finished!

Yuri on Ice Episode 12

Review:

A beautiful ending (or non-ending depending on how you choose to take it) to a beautiful character piece. This show has never been perfect and the final episode is no different. If you look you’ll find things to criticise and that’s fine if that is what you want to do. For me though, I didn’t even remember to get a screen shot and had to go back and rewatch. I have genuinely loved being on this journey with the characters and this episode gave me exactly what I needed to feel satisfied while leaving just enough space that if they choose to make a sequel it won’t undermine everything that’s already happened. It’s a smart choice like most of the narrative choices that have been made in this series. I can’t wait to try to write a review of the whole show (I think I may be redrafting that for hours).

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So what happened? Yuri broke Victor’s heart (probably unintentionally) and then they rebuilt from the ground up over the course of 6 skating routines. It was beautiful. Okay, someone won gold, silver and bronze medals and a world record was beaten but you know I somehow don’t think that was supposed to be the focus.

Yuri on Ice is available on Crunchyroll if you haven’t already checked it out.

 

Yuri on Ice Episode 11

Review:

That was incredibly nail biting, exhilarating, beautiful, and wow  do they know how to keep emotions running high throughout. It might be a bit predictable with Yuri not performing perfectly in the short routine and JJ taking a bit of a stumble. If Yuri had been brilliant again in his short skate there wouldn’t be much tension next week. If JJ had been flawless it would have been impossible to believe anyone could beat him. The other skaters all did much what we expected, save the one we hadn’t seen which was refreshing. It was also excellent to see Yurio finally skate to his potential. However, what was with that bombshell at the end and where is that going to go next week? I cannot believe we have to wait a week to find out what is going to happen next because I really want to know now.

Yuri on Ice is available on Crunchyroll.