Posted on 28 June 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World

When I heard about this arc being hard to watch I readied myself for a number of things. I was prepared to see Subaru die gruesomely, to see him tortured and broken. However while I was ready to see him get destroyed by others; I didn’t expect him to be the architect of his own destruction. This was truly a painful episode to watch with Subaru attempting the brute force his way through story developments like a typical shounen protagonist and it just failing miserably. It wasn’t elegant, nor was it impressive and Subaru came off as outright pathetic in his attempts to make himself seem like a big deal. This is by far Subaru’s lowest point in the series and the visuals certainly show it. The manga tried to give him dignity in that there he was at least given some acknowledgement and looked decent even when getting beaten. Not in the anime, here he looked seedy, graceless and desperate.

Which leads me to rethink something I said in the last episode review of this series, namely that I was worried about Rem becoming irrelevant to the story. Perhaps I was worried about the wrong person and in truth the one whose rapidly becoming irrelevant is Subaru himself and he’s all too aware of it. After the closure of the mansion arc Subaru is in a a brand new run where he has no real idea of how anything will turn out. His usefulness has dropped to zero and his existence in Emilia’s life is no longer necessary. For when you think about it, he has no real reason to be at the King’s selection nor any real reason to be in Emilia’s life. The spotlight is moving away from him and I think Subaru has noticed. That’s what makes this episode a little easier to watch for me, for I see it as Subaru desperately kicking and screaming so that he doesn’t end up left behind.

I will admit that seeing Subaru going through all this is not a pleasant experience and while I appreciate the subversion of the shounen tropes, it’s still somewhat flustrating to see Subaru act like this. What makes this somewhat more frustrating is that Subaru is basically making the moves the viewer likely would. I know if I heard someone start berating the girl I liked by racist assumptions I would call him out on it regardless of where I was. Same goes for Julius as he questioned Subaru’s declaration of being Emilia’s Knight, I too would try to shout him down. Upon being challenged to a duel I would relish any opportunity to hit him. But here Subaru is making all the moves the audience wants but is experiencing the consequences of taking such actions. By declaring himself a knight he publical embarrassed Emilia in front of everyone and by fighting Julius he showed everyone just how much of his words was pure empty talk. I really like that when looking at it from Julius’s perspective all his actions seem logical. Most often to make the hero look better they have his opponent act illogical and unreasonable but here Julius was the more level headed one. He tried to make Subaru see just how he was making Emilia feel and even his challenge was him giving Subaru a chance to show his worth; while preventing him from getting murdered in a back alley for insulting the knights by making him an example. Obviously he isn’t right in every regard, I am fairly certain he got some enjoyment out of beating Subaru to a pulp and his philosophy of might makes right is just wrong. However he isn’t just some one dimensional caricature for Subaru to beat down and show everyone how great and right he is.

On the matter of the king’s selection I find it amusing that none of the candidates is aiming to simply be a good ruler and many are going for a radical and dangerous change. We have Priscilla who basically promises a complete dictatorship. Crusch wishes to rid ties to the dragon and let the people rule the nation which seems like a pretty big deal. Anastasia admitted that she is only after the crown to satisfy her own greed. Felt after being pushed into running as ruler due to Roms interference, declares that she was get rid of the social class hierarchy. Emilia in contrast seems to be the most reasonable one and promises to give equality to all people. Basically each participant has pretty much declared that they are going to do whatever the hell they want when they get the crown so I wonder just how this is planned to be settled.

The defining aspect of this episode is the scene after all of Subaru’s embarrassments where he and Emilia finally have a talk. The talk bordered on the overly melodramatic but hit some big points. Namely that Subaru has placed Emilia on a pedestal so high that he can’t even see her for what she is anymore. Emilia cannot understand just why he holds her so highly and Subaru can’t explain because of the curse. Leaving him rambling like a madman to Emilia about events that just didn’t happen to her. After Subaru lets out his most selfish true feelings; Emilia declares that they go their separate ways leaving Subaru alone. This is probably the most human Emilia has been in the series and he comments such as “I had high hopes for you” cut deeper than a knife. This is a massive turning point in the series but one that has me worried. This is big in regards to Subaru in that once he arrived in this world he made Emilia his center and focused all his efforts for her.

Now he’s lost that and the time has come for him to find a new objective but there lies a problem in this. If Subaru dies then possibly all this will be undone and even though while watching this episode I desperately wanted someone to kill Subaru just to undo the utter cringeworthy displays he put in, I do not want his confrontation with Emilia to be undone. If I am asked about whether this episode was a good or bad episode I say my decisive factor is what comes after this. This could be a great example of Shounen deconstruction if it remains this way and a great cornerstone of Subaru’s development as must pick up the broken relationship pieces caused by his mistakes. But if all this gets swept under the rug and Subaru gets to replay for the perfect end then this episode will leave a particularly bad taste in my mouth.


Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Kiznaiver, Reviews by AidanAK47

Kiznaiver is a very different faire from Studio Triggers other works in that it takes a more serious tone and has a writer who tends to go more for the melodramatic. This is a tale about a group of very different people gathered together and have their pain linked to one another. In an effort to take a step towards world peace a system was devised to allow people to feel the pain of others as if it was their own and thus these group of people must learn to coexist with one another to complete missions given to them throughout the summer. This is the premise sadly lost in this show as it eventually gets lost in a love pentagram, excessive teenage melodrama and angst over the past. Kiznaiver is a polarising title in that it has elements of great worth and characters, while not particularly deep, that have good chemistry. However while it had a vague idea on the themes it wanted to touch and what it intended the characters to be, it purely gets lost when it comes to presenting those idea’s. What we are left with is a series which doesn’t know where it is going and wastes more than half its runtime in reach of a goal. Though once it finally decides on its direction it sacrifices all it has set up and it’s greater elements for forced drama and soap opera like developments. All to end on a climax with feels undeserved and rushed.

Kiznaiver is a bad story with excellent presentation as while the story developments are confused and lack focus, the presentation could fool you otherwise. Direction is particularly excellent in giving emotion to certain scenes and the visual aesthetic is quite appealing. The anime also sports a great opening with what may be the last song by the excellent band “Boom Boom Satellites”. The OST has some notable tracks and sound direction is spot on. The characters are quite likable and at times the comedy can work well but it falters when it sacrifices the comradery of the group for the cheap thrill of over emotional outbursts and vocal preaching. The plot gives special attention to certain characters only to abandon them to the sidelines afterwards and at times changing characters to fit what is demanded of the plot only to double back and have them return to how they were. At the beginning Kiznaiver was aiming to be zany and fun like any other trigger anime but halfway in it decided it was going to be Kokoro Connect. Then reaching its endgame without really deciding on which of the two it would prefer to be.

The show tries to act as a character study and tries to get across a deeper insinuation about the nature of feelings and connecting with other people but when examined it comes across as shallow and simplistic. Mainly resorting to a traumatic past as the cause of someone having communication issues instead of taking into account that maybe their are those of us who simply can’t connect with others. Or simply don’t want to. Two character get more focus in regards to this and one has their development more or less negated within two episodes of coming out of her shell. The other remains rather enigmatic and when it comes down to it, all that we truly learn of her is that she has a contrived tragic past. If it doesn’t affect you then sadly she has nothing else, besides acting as a love interest. Despite this it has moments; in both the forced drama and zany antics there were points when it comes across as genuine and heartfelt. Though this does make me lament just what this series could have been if had better planning. This is Trigger trying something different and as an experiment it is interesting. I would like to see Trigger tackle something like this again but if they do I hope they hire a better writer.


Posted on with categories: Kiznaiver

This was certainly pure narrative confusion at it’s zenith and in that regard I don’t mean that the events depicted were hard to understand but rather a general confusion on what mood it wants to go out on. In this episode we had comedic, drama and climatic showdown all hastily weaved together to try and make something work. In that regard I may have succeeded on small fronts but failed as a whole. So Noriko has gone full supervillain out of nowhere and is attempting her own version of the human instrumentality project. The story tries to explain away her motivations by having Mutsumi lay out that Noriko has somehow gotten it into her head that in order for her to give back pain to those deprived by the Kiznaiver experiment, she needs to take on everyone’s pain and somehow that will fix everything. Or something about wanting to connect to others through pain…honestly I have lost all interest to truly dissect it at this point. Basically the logic is akin to saying the best way to heal a bruise is to break your arm. But who cares, the show only cares that Noriko needs to be stopped and the only way to do so is to have Agata give her a good talking to. Thus through the power of love and friendship and all that complete utter bull…um sorry I mean he’s going to snap her out of it with a good scolding. It’s clear that Kiznaiver wanted to have a big climax and that I am not really supposed to question the machinations of it too much. For if I do, awkward questions show up like isn’t Noriko forcefully abducting an entire city and performing dangerous surgery on them? Did she get away with this scott free, like no repercussions whatsoever? Where did she get that legion of followers who do her every bidding? And the big one, just what is this supposed to accomplish?

All the while this deathly serious stuff is happening, there are random jarring moments of comedy sprinkled in with little regard to the tone. I just say when you cut from Norikos sister telling Agata about how lonely Noriko was and how he needs to save her to two of those weird mascots sumo wrestling in the park, well it’s clashing.At this point the KIznaiver things is basically magic and Noriko’s big terrorist attack is stopped once Agata tells her to just let things go and badda bing badda boom, everything’s solved. The other Kiznaivers didn’t really have a point here besides chucking in their two cents on the situation. Giving speeches that solemnly remind me that these people haven’t really hung out long enough in front of the audience to give them the “nakama” card. Also for some reason the bullies come back and are unceremoniously booted off screen again. Seems their sole purpose was to act as an exposition device for the other Kiznaivers so they know what is going on. Well once Noriko comes to her senses it’s time to settle the shipping in the epilogue because that truly is what was given primary focus this series. Yes I am somewhat glad that Kamina 2.0 and Yoko 0.5 got together but personally I would be most interested in seeing more of Luluco finding Nova in the background.

The ships are pretty much what was decided in episode 4 with Noriko and Agata, Chidori and Tenga, Yuta and Maki with Nico doomed to forever alone status. Unless her and Hayame kick something off. Truthfully this all felt forced as while I can get why these characters could go for each other, I find it far too sudden with it all happening in such quick succession. As I see the gang all together again I find somewhat of the feeling that gave me hope for the series in the beginning. The characters do play off each other well and I do find their interactions amusing. (Particularly Noriko’s comment that she and Agata will have a pure relationship…until Agata pushes her down.) This is strange even coming from me of all people but perhaps Kiznaiver would have fared better if it left all this Kiznaiver experiment stuff to the side and just had it be about the characters playing off one another.

Looking over it all Kiznaiver was a confused series that spent too much of it’s start wasting its time and pushing for a dramatic climax as it reached it’s end. Some say that perhaps with a two cour season it could have shown more of it’s potential. It certainly could have but seeing as the writer couldn’t build a series for one cour I doubt she could do it much better with two. I blame the majority of Kiznaivers failings on the writer as speaking in terms of presentation it’s fairly remarkable. In much lesser animation studio this story wouldn’t nearly have been what it is and I see it as a testament of just how much Trigger can really do even with lacking material. If there are those of you who have lost faith in Trigger due to this series I say watch the short series that aired alongside it this season. Space patrol Luluco is shorter, more in tune with triggers style, had a far more satisfying climax and is overall a much better show than Kiznaiver. Most of all I truly look forward to that Little Witch Academy TV series they announced. Kiznaiver ultimately wasn’t what I hoped but I am certain Studio Trigger has more bullets to fire.


Posted on 26 June 2016 with categories: Bungou Stray Dogs, Currently Watching:

And we get to the end of Bungou Stray Dogs, but this last episode doesn’t offer any conclusive ending, instead feel more like a set up episode for the next season. This last episode functions like a typically Bungou Stray Dogs’ episode; there are many good things to say about it, mainly the technical triumphs and the great character designs, but the writing and the new characters are mixed bags.

Let’s get to the good side first. As far as action show goes, Bungou Stray Dogs is at its top form this week. There are new set of enemies introduced, promising a three ways battle between the Armed Detective Agency, the Port Mafia and the Guild (the North American organization of the gifted) in a second season. Thus the main set piece this week happens in the imaginary closed space of Lucy (resembled of L.M Montgomery – the author of Anne of Green Gables) named Anne’s Chamber. I have mentioned that the show always had a very good grip on creating a memorable set pieces that really feel like it breathes by itself, this time in particular the close spaced is just wonderful. It’s so stylish and awe-aspiring, while at the same time dreamy and creepy. The fighting sequence is exciting, with the cat-and-mouse chase that are thrilling from start to finish. Atsushi again proved himself this week that he is capable of fighting for himself, and I can forgive him for wanting to run away calling for help because that’s just who he was. Thankfully he got pulled back by the physician, who soon revealed to be the Port Mafia’s boss. He is one of the more interesting character out of this show, both very mysterious and smart and tricky, and he’s just like Dagai who seems to be one step ahead of everyone else.

The other new characters presented this week, however, are just bland. I’m a bit disappointed that Fitzgerald turns out to be over the top archetypical American villain, the one who thinks money can buy everything and proud himself for that. I originally think he’s one of the tough one to beat but judge from the facts that he’s super one-dimensional, and he got killed off rather easily in the end, all that made me wonder what’s exactly his role in the show. Lucy is also a very one-note character, who appears mostly as a mad, sick little girl who just want to have fun. A bit about her insecurity among the Guild is a nice little touch but other time she functions like a typical villain. Dagai again back to the office and seems like nothing happen further emphasized my complains on the inconsistency of the show.

Looking ahead, I honestly have no idea how they could handle the mega-battles between the Armed Detective Agency, Port Mafia and the Guild. There seems to be a lot more Guild members with more unique skills to fight against next season, but it seems to me that Mori (the Port Mafia leader) is the ultimate boss. I’m a bit keen to check out the second cour just to see how they handle all that, but I’m not sure about covering its second cour, since I don’t think the show will get any better than what it is now.


Posted on 24 June 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Currently Watching:, Joker Game, Reviews by AidanAK47

When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on board. However the sad thing about entertainment is that even if you try something new, if you don’t succeed it amounts nothing more than a show which had a good idea and a lesson for others to not brand out from their tired concepts. In that regard I truly lament such anime but unlike them I don’t think Joker Game will remain as a lesson for others, for to do so it would have to be memorable. An idea with such promise, a tale about a team of Japanese spies sent out to gather info in the time right before World War II broke out. You could spin quite a tale with that setting but sadly Joker Game settles for a much more simplistic level.

The first problem with the show is it’s episodic format and it truly limits the plot when each episode’s story needs to be resolved in a short time frame. Each episode has a brand new cast and a brand new setting. This essentially prevents the viewer from becoming attached as there is rarely anything consistent to latch on to. But most importantly in episodic shows the show is often held up by the characters and their interactions. However Joker Games protagonists are completely interchangeable with little in defining characteristics. No matter the episode the main character plays the role of the super spy who never fails and in that regard is mainly a plot device. When looking over the story, Joker Game is style over substance and merely a spy power fantasy. The writing lacks the nuance to weave a compelling narrative around international espionage and often resorts to contrived or trite developments in order to make the protagonist look as good as possible. The villains in each episode range from the over the top evil to inconsequential, often any threat they pose is completely undermined by episodes end. The writer holds his protagonists in too high a regard which ultimately makes this a show about the triumphs of several Gary Sue’s and how much better they are than other people. It don’t take long for this aspect to wear on you and through the episodes the victories of the D-agency spies become less compelling and more boringly anticipated.

Through while the writing can reach unrealistically silly levels as the D-agents display skill bordering on the supernatural, you can still find some interest here. The show never truly drops to a level of becoming bad and to some they can come to enjoy the exploits of the spies and their missions. I found three or four episodes to have above average value and the show remains consistently watchable. However it never truly excels and in episodes can become quite boring as you wait for the inevitable cop out win of D-agency. The episodic structure continues right up to the end where the show simply stops instead of ends. The art and animation remain consistently good and the soundtrack is rather catchy and nostalgic of Noir fiction. Joker Game is a show that lacks the high points to be recommended and the low points to be outright hated, it’s middle of the ground which made the score of this series rather appropriate. Joker Game is a series destined to be lost to the ravages of time, soon to be forgotten.


Posted on 23 June 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri


After the Horobi’s laser light show and having Biba-sama completely dominate the narrative with his super cool looking henchmen, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is back on track although it’s on different rails for here on out.

Imprisoned by the Hunters and being caught in the middle of the impending final conflict between the Shogun and Biba, the crew of the Koutetsujou manages to recapture some of the things that I loved about the series up until the end of episode seven. Having the Ikoma and his crew come up with a plan to overcome the odds while jabbing at each other with their character interactions  and break out of imprisonment is exactly what is needed to bring this show back into focus. The music was an improvement over the unsettling soundtrack of the last two episodes although it didn’t reach the highs that had been set earlier by Sawano. The only thing that couldn’t be helped but be mediocre is main target of Biba-sama as an over-dramatic bore that drag downs Kabaneri’s second half.


Biba-sama’s backstory is certainly brimming with potential as he was casted out as a pawn between two political factions that had different views on how to deal with the Kabane. Being twelve years old and in charge of a military campaign draws a lot of parallels with Arslan Senki which could have garnered some sympathy for this dashingly handsome villain in his tale of being betrayed and slowly dismantled by the Kabane. However, the few scenes that featured the young Biba-sama only highlights the problems with the twelve episode format of Kabaneri as his villainy have a far greater emotional impact if the show could have spend just ten minutes on fleshing out his initial campaign against the Kabane instead just a few moments.


This is the second time that Ikoma is being casted off the train and it doesn’t look like it he’s going to get back on anytime soon. A brainwashed Memui booting him off and his most certainly dead bro of Takumi are the two biggest shockers of the episode. I’m not too fond of using the mind-altering drug trope as it strip a character of its agency and reduces them to a plot device, but at least Memui put up a decent fight before getting the needle treatment and the green stone is obviously the trigger to snap herself back.

While Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress isn’t a trainwreck, especially when compared to the other flaming dumpster fires of this season, it could have been much better. Episode ten did much to slow the but the final forty minutes has it work cut out to keep it from descending further into the mediocrity that is Biba-sama.


Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Mayoiga, Reviews by SuperMario

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years.

On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life is an intriguing concept, because there could be lots of angles to explore, even within its mystery/horror fare. The show could use the setting to explore the internal conflicts between the cast, or the nature of those monsters that drive anyone insane or even dig deep to the mystery behind Mayoiga, or the show can go full cannibalism that was suggested many times in the first episode.

Instead Mayoiga goes off track very early and never looks back and the overall execution certainly stands out, in a very-bad-it’s-good way

Billed as a mystery show, Mayoiga contains many elements that feel like a recipe for disaster: over the top characters, awkward pacing, long and meaningless conversations. In the first 10 minutes of the show for example, literally EVERYONE in the cast got introduced (and that 20 plus characters to remember). The characters have a distinct and overall solid character designs; but most of them are way too over the top to feel like real people. Mitsumune, our main character, for instance, feel really bland and his only traits are unsure about himself and his affection towards Masaki. The conversation drags on, don’t really advance the plot or flesh out the characters. Worst of all, the pacing sucks, sometimes it drags for too long before moves too quickly, for example in the first half of the show, there are few episodes where nothing important happens except the cast arguing. The cast themselves uses their time wisely to talk about how to call rock, paper, scissor the most correct way, arguing over the name of one of the cast who just vanished, or lying asleep in the end without the care of anything else.  The cliffhangers, were presented in almost the end of every episode, just so that the stake returns back to normal in a very next moment.

Thematically, Mayoiga actually has its meaning underlying under the surface. The monsters are revealed to be Nanaki, which are part of each individual’s past psychological trauma, come to life. They are a symbol of all those ugly things that the cast left behind to start over their new life. They are not, as the series progresses, intend to harm the cast, but are a part inside each character, and the show made a point (as in your face as possible) that all of them need to face their own Nanaki (their traumatic past) in order to become a better person. The Nanaki monsters, represented in 3D animation, are both out of place and uneasiness at the same time, which actually fits to the theme very well.  But I have to say, reading this underlying message is a bit too much, as the series itself never attempt to dig deeper into its theme.

Which brings me to the next point, many of the above elements actually WORKED in favors of the show. One thing that Mayoiga truly excels, the one thing that Mayoiga will likely be remembered for years to come, is its ridiculousness. All the ridicuolous, awkward bits are intentional, majority of them are so well-aware that it becomes hilarious. Many of the Nanaki monsters, for instance, are just plain silly in concept, such as a big silicon boob monster (yeah! You read it right!), or a girl seeing a giant Mitsumune because he happens to look like her ex-boyfriend, so instead of seeing her ex she would see Mitsumune who she just met for 2 days. See the absurd sense of logic here? Indeed, most of the cast embrace that ridiculous sense of logic wholeheartedly that it’s actually refreshing to see them keep betraying our expectation. Lovepon would be nothing if not for her “execution” speech, and after a while it’s just feel so welcome to see her running for her life from the monster, still remain in character “We going to be executed!!”. The Driver and his bus also keep appear/ vanish without any explaination is also a good running gag. Other characters, like Mitsumune, Hayato, Koharun, Nanko, actually the whole cast also embrace their one-note traits to a bitter end, put it up to the max that they become so gimmick and fun to watch. The conversations, as I mentioned above, drag on and on; but there is a lot to enjoy there, mainly for their unique train of thoughts and the ridiculous topics they could come up to.

Like I mentioned in my review posts, Mayoiga is a masterclass of using anti-climax not only to twist our expectation out of the usual conventions, but also to reduce any tension whatsoever. Take the revealing about the nature of Nanaki for examples, in a sequence where 4 members of our group witness their own Nanaki, they seem defeated, had nowhere to run but somehow, all of them managed to escape from it, without any injury. In other scene we witness the group decided to tied Masaki up and attempted to stab her, just so that she got ambushed by the bus driver, who drove her away just to beg her to allow him to meet his daughter again. The extensive use of anti-climax might seem uneven, absurd and even laughable at first, but actually these are all intentional so that the show can screw you out of any conventional sense.

But self-aware or not, Mayoiga can’t hide a fact that, in a nutshell, this show is an incoherent mess. In fact, inconsistency is the only consistent trait the show has. Mayoiga always feels like a product of too many minds, too many ideas that crammed all together, that contributes to too many half-baked ideas, and the pacing is all over the place. This seems understandable though, as in the process of making Mayoiga, the director Tsutomu Mizushima (Girls un Panzer, Shirobako, Prison School) encouraged the team to come up with ideas, and Mari Okada responsible for putting everything together. On that note I have to say the ending is surprisingly conclusive. Yes we would never know what happen to the people before the cast arrived, or how the majority of the cast meet their Nanaki (they JUMPED straight from those guys sleeping to they being back to the bus), but all the main questions are addressed and I actually feel kind of satisfied with the ending. This is a show with lots of obvious flaws, but it is also a show that unlike most of our usual anime fare. I have a great time with Mayoiga and ’m happy that I got the chance to cover it.


Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Joker Game

Upon finishing yet another rather uneventful episode of Joker Game, I began to wonder just what this series had planned for its finale. “How best to top off a rather mediocre series such as this?” I thought to myself. However when looking over general consensus over the episode I found out that I seen the finale of Joker game, and this was it. I was truly shocked. Nothing in this episode felt final or conclusive, not even an after credits scene or a simple affirmation that yes, this was indeed the end. In some ways it’s fitting, as Joker Game is a series without an impact so to bow out before anyone notices you are gone is somewhat poetic. However i must wonder why this particular story was chosen as the finale. When compared to other episodes of the series it is a much somber and simple affair. A spy is killed under the watch of a D-agency spy and he must investigate just what happened. Naturally he finds out what happened easily and decides he is unfit to be a D-agency spy. For he actually has human traits worth caring about.

It is rather funny that this was the first Spy to make me somewhat care about him and at least showed some level of humanity. Yet when the episode ends they get rid of him because he is far too human to be a part of the team. It really is a testament to the utter lack of defining traits these boring supermen have that they see any some shred of personality as a weakness. This is the author pretty much saying that because this man was lead astray by his memories of a girl in his past that he was no longer “cool” enough to be a part of the big boys club. Also got to love the casual sexsm of Yuuki stating that the reason the D-agency doesn’t have women is because they are far too temperamental and in less control of their emotions. Considering the time period it’s not all that surprising for Yuuki to think this but considering how much of a super spy he is, I would have thought he was too smart to believe such rubbish

Frankly I don’t have much to say about this. I have long beaten the problems of this show to death and seeing as it just repeated those problems it’s just left me reiterating points like a broken record. There’s really nothing here, a man dies, the spy finds out why he dies from offscreen info and decides he’s not fit to be a spy anymore because he feels love. Only real point of note is when the man of the episode got bent out of shape when the D-agents were reporting to hm. Yuuki pretty much gave him full authority on the mission which is likely because he knew what happened and figured he would let the man be in control of his last mission. With an episodic series like this you could have chosen any episode to be the finale and there are certainly better episodes to end on. Ultimately I think I will have a hard time recalling this series in a year’s time, in fact I still don’t even know anyone’s name. Besides Yuuki. Maybe because he was the only real consistent character in the series.


Posted on 22 June 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Game Reviews

I really should be getting Grand Kingdom or waiting for Mirage Sessions. My review of Stella Glow is way past relevancy being nearly 8 months late, but I finally completed this and it wouldn’t hurt to briefly wrap up my thoughts about the game created by the now-defunct Imageepoch. I somehow managed to get through Lord of Magna in little over a week but I couldn’t motivate myself to finish this game after chapter 6. So first, jumping into the game, I admittedly didn’t have too much experience with much of Imageepoch’s previous titles, I only played Luminous Arc 1+2 and thought the gameplay was pretty good (although I’ll always hate the story in these kind of games). Therefore, I expected Stella Glow to be much of the same. In terms of its gameplay, it’s even somewhat over-simplified/dumbed-down since my last Imageepoch game.

To be brief, combat is turn-based spread over a 3D grid ala Luminous Arc, separated by free-times in which your character can buy weapon upgrades, find loot, do odd jobs for money, and interact with party members in order to unlock new support abilities. With combat, the atrocious AI aside, it’s relatively vanilla and doesn’t rock the conventions very much. It’s blasé to say the very least, with an outdated concept of PP-based skills that is actually a regress with its lack of any equivalent to Luminous Arc’s Flash Drives aside from the conducting (which doesn’t do much for strategic depth). There is no more depth beyond these standard attacks and skill-attacks, so what you see is what you get all the way through your 50+ hour game. Moving your team members around a strategically-lacking battle area has never felt more unexciting as a direct result, and makes grinding all the more painful to do. And you’re going to have to do a lot of it.

Compounding the problems to combat are the enemies. The AI in the game utilizes little form of strategy or out-maneuvering. If it has a better shot at greater damage output (such as attacking my characters from behind) it doesn’t do it, and as is the case almost all the time they rush the nearest available frailest unit and zerg-rush them without any semblance for party-cohesion/roles. For example, even when my tank Archibald is quite vulnerable sitting at a low health, enemies still often rush my witch who’s at full HP because the AI simply cannot understand strategy and the benefits of knocking down selective units. The challenge instantly turns to frustration as early game I didn’t even bother using healing units very often, since they have to come close to another party member in order to heal, yet then become vulnerable to long-range enemies’ ridiculous ranges. On the other hand, some skills thankfully offer low-mobility characters like Archibald with long range attacks to attack past 2 squares, which is sorely appreciated for such a slow unit, and it theoretically gives these characters better usage early-game with stronger party cohesion. However, this does not work as well as it should, as you often cannot attack diagonal squares aside from magic skills. For me, that defeats the purpose of trying to give slower units a greater mobility. Yes, Archibald gets better later on in the game, but there is little logic to not allowing long range attacks in general, Archibald or otherwise, to hit diagonal boxes especially when terrain heavily limits your ideal range of movement anyways. Some elements of Fire Emblem would’ve been great here, like diagonal attacks and earlier long range healing skills. Otherwise, everything else about the combat system is solid, such as the satisfying range of roles in your party, and the activities that you can do in between battle times are varied and interesting.

As for story, it’s about a generic protagonist with a mysterious past who has the power to collect witches, in true harem spirit–as is plastered all over the back cover. I’m not going to complain too much about the generic plot as much as I hate it, it’s simply there to provide a backdrop for the challenges that our characters will face after all, and none of the party members felt forced or too out of place. However, any longtime JRPG player will recognize the story going through the motions in a half hearted attempt to try and set these characters beyond their archetypes to no avail, and the writers have every blame for this. In a game like this it’s imperative for it to be a worthy character story, with immersive character conflicts to make up for the lackluster backdrop concerning some generic kingdom under attack by some generic villains. Unfortunately however, by the end, there is very little characterization. Well, apart from “She’s not shy anymore” and “He’s less strict now.”

Lastly, the user interface is clunky and bare bones to put it lightly. Whilst in battle, you cannot access an options menu to adjust your game settings, it is only available outside of that and events. Even then, the options menu is simply pathetic. There are volume sliders, options to turn off combat animation (which is already available in battle), and little else besides it. No options for changing the controls to adjust the inversion, utter disuse of the circle pad, story recaps, turtle paced scenes, and the list goes on. But at least the game looks good for the 3DS and the soundtrack isn’t half-bad, even if the fan service is irksome as hell and never stops, but that point is rather moot with a game like this that lets you know what you’re in for with the cover. Overall, if you haven’t picked this game up yet I’d recommend you give it a try at least, it’s honestly far better than the likes of Lord of Magna.

Storytelling: 5/10 Average fantasy story
Gameplay: 7/10 Limitations aplenty, but otherwise strong system that remains familiar
User Interface: 3/10 Clunky and frustrating
Production values: 9/10 Looks and sounds great for the 3DS


Fire Emblem Fates

Luminous Arc

Lord of Magna

Posted on 21 June 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World

This looks to be the weakest episode of Re:Zero to date which does seem to be a trend when it comes to the arcs of the series. When looking over these twelve episodes I have come to find that the weakest episodes of the series are the first episode of an arc which does make sense when you think about it. Subaru’s first runs are often fairly uneventful and it does highlight a weakness of the series in that Subaru really doesn’t have much of an objective. When an Arc truly kicks off Subaru is suddenly given an objective to break the loop and survive beyond it but when he succeeds his motivation returns to protecting or wooing Emilia. For the style of story Re:Zero is telling it requires groundwork to be laid down before the plot can begin in earnest so the story must be carried by it’s comedy and antics which are clearly not its strongest suits. It also doesn’t help that upon introduction Re:Zeros characters do feel very stereotypical, evidenced by a number of characters introduced in this episode whom are trope heavy in regards to first impressions. That said my first impressions of the characters of the second arc was much the same and Re:Zero managed to make them much more interesting as the arc continued.

We have a number of returning characters from the first arc and quite a number of new ones. Two standouts are Priscilla and her very dark souls design inspired bodyguard called Al. Priscilla is cocky and seems to believe that everything in the world works out in her favor. Whether this is just a misconception on her part or something with some degree if truth is still up in the air but if it’s the latter she should prove to be quite interesting. Al I find interesting mostly due to his design which does feel like a reference to Dark Souls. Many have made jokes claims about comparing Re:Zero to Dark Souls because of his very narrative nature being similar to the Dark Souls mechanics of repeatable facing death until you get the tools and knowledge needed to progress. I have heard that he should prove to be quite an interesting character and some information was present in a manga scene the anime skipped which boosted his significance greatly. Though I will refrain from revealing it as it is very likely going to be show in a later episode. The butler at the beginning whom Subaru spoke with was also intriguing as he was able to recognise that Subaru has gone through life or death situations, though this perhaps him overestimating Subarus worth as Subaru didn’t actually live through those situations. Felt is back and much as expected is a candidate for the throne or Dragon priestess as they refer to it. The reveal was fairly predictable as Felt kept getting mentioned as the episode continued.

Rem has certainly warmed up to Subaru but I must admit that I am worried that she might be a victim of a little thing I refer to as “Light novel heroine” syndrome. This is when a particular girl has the story focus on them for a specific arc or volume of a light novel to the degree of a main heroine. However once the arc is completed and the girls problems are solved then she is tossed to the sidelines to which she will be damned just be a rare pointless camo now and then. By far the biggest victim of this syndrome is Index of the Certain Magical Index series, whom despite the series being named after her, is only relevant to the plot in about 2 of the 24 light novels and likely still is irrelevant even in the new series of light novels. So far Rem is tagging along but I do hope that he plays a more significant role besides just an unimportant side character. The manga of the series at least showed her being more proactive than here as a scene was omitted when Rem comes to save Subaru from the bandits in the alley. It’s understandable why it was omitted but still rather a pity as it truly was a great moment for her. Either way even when put on the sidelines she still manages to steal the show…or perhaps that’s my own bias speaking. I am actually starting to wonder why Emilia was made the main heroine. Well there are special IF chapters which detail what would happen if Subaru got together with Rem so those could be used as a simulation of Rem being the main heroine.

Subaru got admittedly annoying here as while I know his mannerisms are a front to hide his insecurities, he can still get a bit overbearing. I also think he is misunderstanding his role here. This is a rather interesting  concept as Subaru actively has to force inself to get involved in important events. Normally a protagonist is automatically included in any important matters to the plot but due to Emilia’s objections, Subaru is finding himself getting pushed away from the royal selection which is no doubt involved with the next incident. We have a clash of white knight complexes here as Subaru is forcing himself to get into more dangerous situations for Emilia’s sake while Emilia is trying to keep him uninvolved in order to protect him. This is the first real crack in their relationship as the two clash when it comes to their objectives. However Subaru doesn’t quite get that he is not the person who saves the day but as was pointed out at the start of the episode, he is the one who sets things in place for the hero to save the day. But Emilia doesn’t quite get that having Subaru around is a valuable thing as the more he knows the better prepared he is if things go wrong. I do think it’s rather odd though for Subaru to be so intent to involve himself even when it clearly hurts Emilia to do so.


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