Posted on 28 May 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:

Moral of the story, if you build a death star planet destroying ray then you better make sure that it’s not sentient. Though it seems that the dangers of using such weaponry are lost on Kobayashi as even one wiping out the testing facility and a hefty number of people isn’t enough of a red flag for her. I do wonder just what is pushing her to these extremes. Before in the series she seemed like a fairly reasonable person but recent events look to be pushing her to megalomania. Which is a bad thing considering that the Gauna has got the same idea as her and are going for the home world of the enemy. One thing I do find off putting is how nobody seems to take notice of the changes in the people controlled by parasites. Despite the glasses girl broadcasting it with every monotone word she speaks with dead eyes not one person has commented on how fast her personality changed. Kunato has outright manically laughed in the presence of other people and not one person gave him a funny look. Well who knows, maybe they wrote it off as him laughing that no one noticed that he modeled the laser cannon after his member. Which actually makes sense seeing as he started laughing after Kobayashi called his cannon “Magnificent”

The first half of the episode was strong but the second half was not good. I said before that the harem fanservice aspects of this show clash with its more serious aspects but there is another problem. It’s quite simple really. Tanikaze is not a good character. His personality is bland, is history of very little interest(besides his strange convenient healing ability), he’s become the best Sidonia fighter just because and there’s nothing that makes him stand out from other mecha protagonists. This is especially seen when he’s interacting with girls and they somehow find some charming quality underneath all that dull personality. His harem is only growing and unless he gains some sort of dynamic appeal then I can classify him as a standard harem protagonist. The first season worked because events kept happening to keep our mind off it but now that things have slowed down its really evident. Another annoyance is that Izana is now a confirmed girl. A confirmed girl with big breasts. I love women as much as the next guy but I don’t think I will understand anime’s deep fascination with massive boobs. All I know is that I have heard the dialogue between Izana and Yuhata in the bath so many times before in many different animes. And for good measure with got the old “girls clothes are blown apart” because as logic dictates the best way to prevent someone’s suit from being worn by the wrong person is to self destruct it. Rather than stop her from putting it on in the first place. With her gender confirmed, Izana’s last interesting trait disappears so I can only see her presence as a negative at this point. So the way to make this good again is simple. Less harem hijinks, more gauna battles.

Posted on 24 May 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

This episode wasn’t quite what I expected. It is true that I didn’t get the big fight I was looking for, though there were clashes going on. However this still was a very good episode. So on the matters of Kirei, Rin, Lancer and Shinji it was all done perfectly. Well there was this weird moment of Kirei slowly moving his hand down Rin’s chest but considering that it’s Kirei we are talking about he was likely just positioning his hand to rip her heart out. But thank god for Ufotable treating that unsavory scene with some dignity. You see in the visual novel Shinji attempted to rape Rin after Lancer put Kirei down. It’s a pretty bad part of the visual novel and I honestly was dreading it being adapted. However Ufotable instead changed it to Shinji choking Rin. I approve this change on so many levels. It makes more sense, it’s easier to watch and it at least doesn’t make Shinji even more of a unsalvageable mess than he already is. Though it does give this series a strange trend of woman getting strangled. Both in Zero and somewhat here as well. Actually…a Tosaka being strangled by a Mato desperate for her affection? Now I wonder if that’s intentional nod. Afterwards it’s greatly satisfying to see someone put Shinji down a peg. Lancer just was brilliant in this moment. The show really doesn’t give him enough credit. After taking a fatal wound he kills Kirei, chases off Shinji, cuts Rin’s bonds and sets the place on fire. All while dying, that battle continuation skill isn’t there for nothing. It’s also amusing to see him remark that he wished he could have had a master like Rin. In the game Fate/extra he is actually Rin’s servant but sadly they don’t make the most of it there. But Lancer what are you talking about saying you had no luck finding good woman? Fate/Grand order just put out the design for your master, Scáthach and that’s most definitely a fine woman. Amazed you could keep your mind on training. This is the last we will see of Lancer here but at least he went out with a bang.

One of the biggest complaints of this episode is Archer using Unlimited Bladeworks again. Admittedly yes, this is a huge waste of mana when he is already nearly out of it and yes, instead of making use of the reality marble he seems to just be using it to make a point. The big question that I really need to ask is….do I really care? The answer to that is no. No, I do not. Because A) even without this huge expense of mana, Archers mana problem don’t make any sense to begin with and B) this means that Archer actually uses UBW for more that just some weak one off attack on Saber. And finally C) Shirou and Archer get to fight in unlimited bladeworks, which is a perfect place for them to fight and is badass. Thankfully the CGI for unlimited bladeworks is much, much better. I wonder why it was they couldn’t do this for it’s previous appearance. So far it’s less of a fight and more Archer hammering in the points that anyone annoyed with his hero complex has wanted to say to him for a long time. I can’t really fault Archer for this. If I met myself from ten or fifteen years ago I would likely beat him bloody myself. But it is interesting to see Saber react to what he is saying as a lot of it applies to her as well. Archer isn’t speaking to her but you can tell his words are cutting her to the core. Even Shirou is getting dispirited.

Then there was the Shirou monologue and realization. Where in the battle Shirou is knocked down and the show basically shows a mental landscape and memories to represent what he is thinking. And damn, this was done magnificently. The imagery of Shirou pulling out the sword from the ground, mirroring Saber pulling the sword from the stone. Shirou walking into the hell he experienced ten years ago to show him taking the path that will lead him to his ruin. Pulling scenes from Fate/zero and showing Kiritsugu giving him Avalon. Just, perfect. Truly. I always worried how they would handle representing the monologues in this route but this made use of the visuals and dialogue to get the point across for more poignantly that the source even did. My one criticism is the song used. The song itself isn’t bad but when the chorus comes into it, it clashes a bit with the mood. It’s a little too cheesy. I see they tried to explain Avalon healing Shirou’s wounds here but this is another reason why it may be best to watch Fate/zero before this. As this really does seem like it comes out of nowhere if you don’t know about Avalon. That is something that has become strange with this series. The original way to experience it was Fate, Unlimited Bladeworks, Heavens feel and then Fate/zero. However due to the Deen version of Fate being subpar and Fate/zero being more accommodating to newcomers, the “proper” to view this story is a little skewed. Diehard fans still claim that UBW must be watched before Zero but in all honestly that may not be the best method to experience it. UBW is dependant of knowledge gathered from the Fate route. You are not supposed to dive into it first. Fate/zero gives the knowledge that is needed for UBW and as a whole may be a better introduction to the series than the Fate route is. Sure Fate/Zero spoils elements of Heavens Feel but Heavens Feel also spoils elements of Fate/zero, so really no matter what you start with, you are getting spoiled on something. Finally if we are to recommend that anime only watchers view UBW first then we might as well tell them to wait about five years or so for the Heavens Feel movie/movies before checking out Fate/Zero seeing as that is the intended order. But that’s just downright unreasonable. Hoping for more action next week but Ufotable, good job.

Posted on 21 May 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:

So far the focus has been pretty heavily on Tsumugi, the chimera. Who is strangely moefied. Its really odd to see what is essentially a giant  tentacled monster display the characteristics of a innocent cutsy little girl. Still she is to me one of the better characters of the show. Untainted by the negative aspects of Sidonia and it’s easy to see why Tanikaze and Izana have bonded with her so fast. On another note the Chimera opposition subplot has been dropped as fast as it arrived. For understandable reasons, considering that you can’t protest the creature that nearly sacrificed its life to save all your hides. That said, she is holding the show to a standstill as the focus is placed heavily on her and less on the developments going on behind the scenes. I understand they are likely using it as either build up for future developments or as a means to pass time without resorting to a timeskip. Sidonia is at it’s best when things are dire and dangerous so having the show take a more easygoing lighthearted tone isn’t making these last episodes too strong.

Izana losing an arm and leg was a pretty surprising development but it’s nice to see some consequences instead of wrapping her up in bandages and saying she’s healed. However her character is still hindered by her attraction to Tanikaze and much of the interesting aspects of her neutral gender are only used for harem moments with him. At this point I see her as a complete girl so I don’t even understand what the point was of making her gender neutral in the first place. I truly could not care less for Izana’s attraction for Tanikaze as from a romantic standpoint she’s hasn’t got a hope in hell of getting together with him. Speaking of which, at times it really does feel like those harem moments are a separate show altogether. Maybe it’s the CGI but in a setting as do or die like Sidonia, having a moment where a woman punches a guy to the wall for pushing his face in her breasts just feels unreal.

Will it ever be addressed as to why the cafeteria lady is a talking Bear? Its funny that it’s gone on so long and yet no one has really questioned it. The villains endgame remains mysterious and his intent unclear. So far his works have saved Sidonia from obliteration but I would eat my foot if this guys plans were just to aid Sidonia. He has the chief under his thumb and looks to be pushing her to take a more aggressive stance against the Gauna. Tsumugi is undoubtably part of his plan and I think he hasn’t liked that she’s gotten rebellious. I don’t see a happy end for this chimera. It’s possible that Kunato needs to reach the Gauna homeworld and is pushing the chief to use more Gauna based Weaponry as a means to take over once they reach the homeworld. It would be best if things kick up before these hijinks get tiresome.

Posted on 17 May 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

Oh my god, I can’t believe that Archer is the future Shirou Emiya!….said no one who watched this episode. But yes the cat is out of the bag. Archer is Shirou turned cynical and jaded after playing executioner for a couple of decades. There was a small bit showing how he contracted with the world and there were some flaws with how it was presented. Namely that in the flashback Archer still had red hair when it should at least start turning white. Do I really care though? Nope, not in the slightest. It’s a minor detail and you can just wave it off as him gaining the hair later. Admittedly the reveal and explanation was the weakest part of the episode as it does show the flaws of Nasu’s writing. Namely the long winded and roundabout approach of explaining the simplest of matters. In a previous post on this series I basically summarized the topic of counter guardians that took well over five minutes to explain here. The visuals did there best to keep things interesting but I bet the animators had a tough time figuring out just how to make over ten minutes of roundabout dialogue engaging. This my friends is why I unlike many type moon fans say that including the inner monologues would not make things better. Quite honestly any time I see Archer lecture on about heroes I am reminded of a skit in Fate/Hollow Ataraxia called “Justice and the kitten”. In it Archer saves a kitten from a tree and three girls thank him for it and call him a hero of justice. Which in turn spurs Archer into a big speech about how heroes of justice are bad and that his action may have been a bad thing for the kitten. The skit makes it seem like Archer was just really embarrassed and his little speech was him just acting tsundere. So every time I see Archer monologue on I can’t help but smile and recall that skit.

I do think this is a better episode than the last few weak ones. You could get invested in the dialogue and the events happening with Rin were very engaging. First of all, props to Ufotable for not going too far with Shinji feeling up Rin. We are not out of the woods yet but at least this scene was made as painless as possible. This gives me hope that the distasteful scene to come is treated with restraint. Plus I really cannot stop watching Lancer punch Shinji to the floor. On first viewing I rewound and watched that shot at least three times. Truly satisfying. Kirei’s entrance made this all the better with Shinji dumbfounded at the side while Lancer, Rin and Kirei have a serious discussion. Like a kid standing at the side while the adults talk. Really Unlimited Bladeworks isn’t Kirei at his best as this is still the point where he was still a rather generic villain in the Visual novel. With knowledge of Fate/zero this scene has a lot more impact. Having Kirei admit to killing Rin’s father was excellent and even Rin saying that she suspected it. It’s actually rather interesting. Kirei’s father never seen his true nature, neither did his wife or Rin’s father for that matter. But Rin may be one of the few to see him for his true nature from even a young age.

Once again, Lancer gets the short end of the stick and to those who watched Fate/Zero this might be an ironic end for him. Having Rank E luck will do that to you. It’s a pity he wasn’t given more screen time as he only was really starting to shine here. Admittedly the scene isn’t over yet but the next events will be brief to say the least. The end of this episode is what really stood out to me though as it promises great things for the next and gave me the thing that Fate/Zero’s music composer Yuki Kajura did not. Fate/Zero did have a good soundtrack and while she delivered on the iconic song “Sword of promised victory”, she neglected the other most iconic song from the game soundtrack. Yet as the episode closes, Archer and Shirou walk towards one another to fight and my ears hear that beautiful melody. Undeniably it’s “Emiya”, the theme tune of both Archer and Shirou and when it plays that means things are about to get awesome. Ufotable, the next fight is a defining moment. It is a time to wash away any distaste I may have. Break open the budget, bring out all the guns and make this the anime fight to end all anime fights. Make it beautiful Ufotable. Make it beautiful.

Posted on 12 May 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

Well here it is. The name drop. The very thing the route is called after. And its….its…kinda bad. Of all the places to make the first visual blunder, why did it have to be here? Well Archers reality marble/noble phantasm Unlimited Blade Works was unleashed and Ufotable thought the best treatment would be to render it entirely in CGI. If it was just the sky and swords given the treatment it wouldn’t have been too bad but the ground was CGI as well and it shows, especially when the camera is panning. The texture on the ground is so flat that it resembles an early PlayStation one game and when you stick those colourful drawn characters in it the difference in looks becomes glaring. A lot of the core problems with this episode where in this scene. Fans criticized it because Shirou didn’t counter Archers sword rain the way he did in the visual novel but to me that’s minor problem. They also disliked how Archer materised the swords in the air instead of lifting the ones around him but again that’s minor to me. The main problem is that Archer pulls out Unlimited Blade works for nothing. He takes it out, tries one attack and then it disintegrates again. Even in the Visual Novel I remember after reading that scene thinking “Is that it?” Archer taking such a huge gamble and effectively doing nothing with it was always a head scratcher to me though Archers thoughts and actions during this route have been rather nonsensical.

This could have been the time to get the most out of UBW. All the fights of the second half have so far been short lived. This could have been the point where you could add material that would have benefited the story. Previous new material was nice to have but not needed but a fight here, even if it ends unconcluded, would have done wonders. True they could be saving the budget for the finale. Which makes sense as that’s the best time to go all out. But I am starting to get worried. This could be the beginning of a disappointment. I had full confidence in Ufotable last season but these last couple of episodes have shaken it. Now I fear that when I see the final confrontation I will be unmoved by it. Also as I have brought up many times before, there are 6 episodes left, yet at the rate they are burning through the material they will reach stories end by 3 or 4 episodes. I even heard word that the last episode will be forty minutes long. Just how do they plan to fill out that time? With more nice to have but not needed material? Fans say the story is rushing but honestly I believe the last thing Fate should do is slow down. What Fate needs to do is deliver. The build up has been built and the stage is set, it’s time for the fireworks.

A standout moment in this episode was Archer admiring that he should never have been a hero. There was a lot of emotion in that line and you could see Saber resonated with it. As her wish is similar. Rins explanation of Archers past was good though potentially confusing to those who don’t know what a counter guardian is in the Nasuverse. To those who don’t know, a counter guardian is basically a glorified hitman. Whenever mankind is threatened with potential extinction the earth summons up counter guardians to remove the cause. In other words, kill the person or people who are pushing humanity’s self destruction. They have no control or will of their own when summoned. Archer is a fellow who contracted with the earth to receive power in life and as a result was used as a killing machine after his death to bring stability. Hence resulting in him becoming cynical and jaded by the very ideal of heroism. Rins explanation on his past was fairly vague so I think anyone who doesn’t know the details will just be lost. But I say you get the basic idea. But the sure are driving the nail in about his identity at this point. I won’t say it until it’s stated outright but come on. The characters know and the audience know. If anyone is genuinely surprised when it comes out I will be shocked. The next episode has a scene I have been dreading and coincidentally is Shinji’s worse moment as a character.(In this route mind you. We still have Heaven’s feel and hoo boy…) Be cool Ufotable and handle this delicately.

Posted on 4 May 2015 with categories: Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

There was a time when I believed that in order for an adaption to work it must stick to the source material as close as possible. More often than not an adaption failed because the director wanted to put his mark on it and disregard the very reason people love the story. However there can be times when something is adapted perfectly true to the source and yet ends up weaker all the same. This is what faces me here. This episode had two of my favorite moments in the route, them being the Lancer vs archer fight and Rin fighting castor hand to hand. There are those who claim this episode was rushed and I can see how they came to that conclusion. But the strange truth is that when you strip the descriptive text and monologues from the scenes they really are this short. So herein lies the problem, that text gave impact and significance to these scenes but there is no real way of satisfactorily transferring this to visuals. I remember reading about Rin beating up Castor was an adrenaline fueled moment but here its cut short because of it’s brevity. In terms of adaptation this is perfect as it really did happen like this in the visual novel. But the visual novel gave you time to revel in the moment and make it special. So in a strange turn of events, staying true to the source actually hurt these scenes.

The the episode starts off with a small flashback to Souichirou’s past which wasn’t in the visual novel and isn’t the best place to dive into his backstory. Again, it’s likely only there to try and get the audience to care about him before his death. There were plenty of opportunities to go into this before without it being as out as place as this and really could have been handled better. Even more shoddy is that at the end of Souichirou’s speech we cut to a distasteful shot of Saber lying suggestively on the floor. I am not going to say than fanservice has no right to be in anime but gentlemen there is a time and place for it. This was most certainly not it. The highlight of the episode was obviously the Lancer vs Archer confrontation which was longer than the visual novel but still short lived. The clash of Gae Blog and Rio Aris was a beautiful sight, you could really tell it’s where the effort went to in this episode. One has to wonder just how Fuyuki is still oblivious to the holy grail war when there is the base equivalent of a nuclear explosion happening not far from the city. It is admittedly an issue in Fate/Zero as well as it’s never really explained as to why Fuyuki is so deserted at night and ignoring explosions and light shows. One thing that might confuse people here is that the three fights, Lancer vs Archer, Rin vs Castor and Shirou vs Souichirou take place at the exact same time. However the episode shows the fights one after the other, giving the impression that they follow each order in sequence. They added small things to the fights to try and show this like the tremors or the coughing up blood but it may not be clear.

Thus does Archer betray Castor and take her out of the running. The third servant to be removed anti-climatically. I would like to say that the visual novel gave these two more character building to make this moment more meaningful but that would be a lie. There death is exactly as it was in the visual novel and just as ineffective. Fate/hollow ataraxia was the game that gave these two some better characterisation and brought in their interesting relationship that felt like two socially awkward people trying their hardest to be a loving couple. But here the fate route didn’t show anything about them(Really Castor is unceremoniously killed off the moment she shows up.) and UBW is about as much attention as they get. Yet again the episode cuts off just when things were getting really interesting and the big reveal was about to be shown. I can’t say enough how much this story is not meant to be cut up into bite sized chucks. More and more I find myself leaving each episode unsatisfied. So much so that I am beginning to question if this story is really is as good as I thought it was. It’s a rather disheartening thought but after rereading the fate route of the visual novel I can really admit that it is truly bad. So I am beginning to fear that if I reread what is my favorite route of the series that it would come up short of how I remember it. But there are still plenty of episodes left and this is far from being a bad show. Still it is a question of how they plan to fill the remainder of the season when they are this far into the story.

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