Posted on 31 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Thunderbolt Fantasy

Wow, this episode is way better than I would have expected. Remember last week I mentioned that the demon girl might have a deep appreciation for Gui Niao (I called him Lin Xue Ya previously, but consider that he himself prefers to be called as an alias Gui Niao, I will stick with it from now on) and I expected the clash of light and dark arts between the two girls? Well, I couldn’t be more wrong this time, since the show went in a completely different fashion. Xing Hai hated his guts, because she felt manipulated by him in their last encounter. Many people suggest that it was a romantic tension but I don’t buy that at all. She quickly changes her mind though (way too quickly) after she heard about Tiang Xing Jian sword; and guess who’s the only one she gets along well? This is none other than Dan Fei. I really enjoy how the characters bound off each other, particularly the skeptical remarks from Juan Can Yun the spear wielder to the demon girl, and the venomous words from herself towards Gui Niao. Those arguments actually raise an interesting point about the very notion of hero/villain in the show. The two addition members this week (Xing Hai the demon lady and Sha Wu Sheng the Roaring Phoenix Killer) could very well be the ultimate villain in another series, yet here they will have to become “good” guys, joining up with the group to kill a villain. Gui Niao is another perfect example of this concept, we see him as cool and excellent strategic thinker, but we don’t know his motives in this quest at all. He mentioned that he is acquainted with the antagonist Mie Tian Hai so he feels responsible for stopping the guy, but he might as well just want to get control of the sword himself. Both Xing Hai and Sha We Sheng despised him to the point of hunting him down, plus the fact the he has little remorse when hearing about his master was killed because of him. I say this ambiguity makes his characters somewhat compelling and I can’t wait to see how far he plan ahead and what his true intention will be.

Another bit that goes against my expectation come from the second half. When we heard about the master who has a magic flute, plus the fact that he’s a skilled swordsman, we immediately think he could be a great addition for the group, using his wisdom as a voice of reason for the group to avoid any potential danger, right? WRONG. He was immediately killed off by the Roaring Phoenix Killer Sha Wu Sheng, who his purpose was simply to hunt down any connection to Gui Niao, in order to find him and kill him off. This development takes me completely off-guards, kudos to the writing of Gen Urobuchi. The Roaring Phoenix killer is by far the most skilled and deadliest character we encounter so far. Judged from him having the magic flute that the group desperately needed, I don’t know for sure what will happen in the next episode. Will the gang fight him to death to get the flute? Will Gui Niao negotiate with this guy so he would join the group? God knows. Finally, to the “most whimsical lines this week”, we have Xing Hai hesitating to enter the temple because the “smell” was too offensive. I guess being devil is not easy to get along, even if they really try to. If the show can keep up with those qualities that made it so refreshing: its elegant characters; its campy sense of humor and its stunning fights, I think Thunderbolt Fantasy is up there as one of the most entertaining show this season. The fun just about to begin and I really can’t wait for the next episode.

~SuperMario~

Posted on with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Episode 5 Starts off with Isidro, and some half-assed attempt at levity. This is really harmless, but it highlights an issue that has become apparent from the first episode. It’s widely understood that the inclusion of Puck was done to bring some light-heartedness to an otherwise grim story. But yet again this proves the point that manga and anime are widely different mediums, and what works in one doesn’t necessarily work in the other. A manga is a very fluid format. The style and design elements can be altered to communicate different concepts. It is not at all uncommon to have characters portrayed in chibi or exaggerated forms to correspond to the situation. They can also include footnotes and other remarks to clarify and explain certain things. These techniques can’t really be done the same way in an anime adaptation, or when attempted could seriously backfire. The medium of motion pictures revolves quite extensively around immersion, and things that can hinder that immersion are best to not be included in the first place. This is not to say that the combination of serious subject matter and comedy can’t be achieved,  for example,  Cowboy Bebop, Black Lagoon, Welcome to NHK and Kemonozume have all done this to varying degrees, but doing so requires a mindful approach and a delicate touch.

Thankfully the farce is soon interrupted by the Kushan hunters. Here we get another action scene, which similar to the ones up to now was just alright. There are some interesting angles and framing, but the quick cuts in editing and the unnecessary rotation take away from the action. This is exacerbated by the drops in the frame-rate. I researched the reason for this back during the first season of Knights of Sidonia, and apparently this is due to the cel shading that is done on top of the CGI. In these types of animations when the camera pans the animators need to draw in the details in almost every frame, causing the process to become seriously long and costly. The solution they came up with was to limit the number of frames, so the required number of overlay shading could be reduced. My question is that knowing their limitations, why do they include so many panning shots that aren’t even really necessary? Well the upside of the action scene is that we get to yet again hear Hirasawa’s excellent track Hai yo (Oh Ashes).  I instantly light up every time the track kicks in and the pipes swell up. He truly understands Berserk, and given his close friendship with Miura, it is not at all surprising. I only wish that he had composed the entirety of the OST.

Next we get the reintroduction of Silat and his Bakiraka clansmen. If I’m not mistaken this is the first time since the movies that he has made an appearance. Silat is an interesting case, since he’s one of the handful of characters to endure in the story past the Golden Age Arc, and although he continues to play a part he is still usually delegated to the sidelines. He was understandably removed from the 97’ adaptation, as there was no reason to include him so briefly at the end of the series. He also made an appearance in the movie trilogy in a slick action scene, but the third film failed to correctly portray the complexity of his character.  We will see how much they will develop him in the new show.

I want to point out how newcomer unfriendly this adaptation truly is. To those who have only gotten into Berserk with this new series Silat won’t be making any sense. A lot of other factors are exactly the same, with them only resonating with fans of the manga or the previous iterations. Liden Films have failed to properly communicate that this is a continuation of the movies, and yes, this is linked to the movies and not the old show, as there are flashback scenes that include segments and music directly taken from the trilogy. This might be due to some licensing issues with Studio 4°C who made the films. I am personally fine with this, as I am very familiar with the material, and the last thing I wanted was for yet another developer to go over the Golden Age Arc. I still can see a lot of new viewers passing on this show due to their confusion, and it would be a shame for people to avoid the Berserk franchise only due to this series’ lack of quality; which is the most damaging aspect of this adaptation.

The next section switches back to Albion, as we get to see Mozguz engaging in an uncharacteristic act of kindness. It doesn’t take long for the audience to be reassured of his depravity, as he moves on to torturing the mother of the child he just saved. I’m not really a fan of these sudden outbursts which are accompanied by severe character deformation. I understand that they suppose to be somewhat shocking, and aim at creating tension in the scene, but they are often just distracting. This brings to my mind a certain scene at the end of the first episode of Akame ga Kill, which has a little girl suddenly exposing her messed up nature. In fairness this isn’t as abrupt as in AgK, since Mozguz is already shown to be vile and ruthless. What I admire here is the daringness of the series, which doesn’t shy away from sex and violence. They have included things that I was certain will be dropped, so the producers are at least adamant on keeping the dark edgy side of Berserk. However I do realize that this might be done more for the sake of publicity, and not purely out of artistic integrity. I wish that the same approach was applied to the more subtle tone and subtext of the Berserk story.

Speaking of daringness, we get the return of the nippleless women, this time in the form of Luca. They should either go all the way with it or not include nudity at all, but I guess there are restrictions that are out of their control. Some suggest that these would be fixed in the Bluray release, but considering that they have to go over and draw it in every frame causes me to doubt that. We get to see a scene with Luca entertaining Jermore, a minor member of the Holy Iron Chain Knights. Luca is an interesting character, and despite being a prostitute she is still portrayed as a strong woman, who not only knows how to take care of herself but also the rest of her camp. It’s good to see a working lady portrayed in a sympathetic light, and she manages the group with almost a socialist methodology. There is also a brief exploration of wartime economics and upheavals. The kingdom of Midland doesn’t seem to catch a break, with the Kushan invasion happening on the heels of the recent conclusion of the hundred year war with the Chuder Empire. The passing of the king has only added to the social instability, and this can be seen by the ubiquity of famine and poverty. For most people hope seems to have faded, and they all do whatever it takes just to survive. The stoning scene shows how ruthless people have become. Being from the Middle East myself, I know how average people can act in horrific ways. When individuals are themselves under pressure they find catharsis in having any sense of control. It is probably not by chance that such crisis has consumed the land, setting up the stage for a certain someone to make his return. There is also a brief introduction of the rest of Luca’s group, but Nina is really the only one of any importance. We get to see her plight, and it’s implied that syphilis is now commonplace.

The episode ends with a scene between Guts and Isidro. Despite being a goofy little brat, it’s clear that Guts sees a bit of himself in the kid, persuading him to let Isidro stick around. After the so-called “epihpany” at Godo’s house it appears that Guts has calmed down a little bit, causing him to warm up and let go of his constant rage. It’s interesting to see how close they’ve been following the manga in the recent episodes. Looks like the sporadic script of the first few ones might’ve been growing pains, and they have now found their groove, and are now simply attempting to tell the story. The next episode is “A Nighttime Feast: Burning at the Stake” implying that it might be multi-episode chapter. I’m getting the sense that we might be getting the ‘cave scene’ after all. The majestic Skull Knight is also making his reappearance. Berserk 2016 has serious issues, no doubt, but I would be lying if I’d said that I’m not enjoying myself to some extent. It is a treat to get a new Berserk at the end of the week, and unfortunately when anticipation rises the wait for the next episode only grows longer.

~Bam~

Posted on 30 July 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

I wanted to start off by apologizing for the late review, as well as giving some general information and my overall impression of the new series. I’ve been a Berserk fan for quite a while, and both the 97’ series and the Berserk manga are among my top 5 anime/manga of all time. I was quite excited when news of the new adaptation broke back in December, and same as everyone else got heartbroken upon watching the initial preview. Still I reserved hope, and was eager for the premier. As I was watching the first episode my disappointment grew with every passing minute. Unlike most fans my discontent wasn’t merely based on the animation quality or the plot deviations and omissions, since for me those were expected, but rather the overall tone of the series which I felt was off by a large margin. Nothing expresses the disconnection as much as the intro. Everything from the music, to choice of content, to the execution felt very misguided. The original anime overcame its shortcomings by creating a dense atmosphere, and a lot of that was achieved through Susumu Hirasawa’s moody and unconventional soundtrack. The opening song itself is alright, but the problem lies with its relation to the grim content of the story. I completely understand the other authors of this blog’s disenchantment with the show, and don’t support the idea of having the reviews forced on someone who doesn’t enjoy covering the series; as the result is often a steep decline in the quality of the posts. I personally have come to terms with the animation, and will only comment on it when something is out of the ordinary. I’ll try to keep the comparisons to the manga at a minimum, and will aim to judge the new series on its own merit. With that being said, let’s move on to the review of episode 4 ‘Epiphany’.

We are now well into the Conviction Arc, and approaching the end of the Binding Chain chapter. I’m surprised by how fast the show is progressing, yet the pacing of this episode was relatively well done, with ample time being set aside for character development. The episode starts off with guts’ vision of Casca on a pyre. We also get a glimpse of the Demon Child, as he urges Guts to seek Casca at the ‘Holy Ground’. This prompts him to head back to Godo’s house to check on her. It’s in this section where we get most of the character development, as Guts realizes his mistake of leaving Casca behind to pursue his vendetta against the Godhand. This is actually quite a crucial moment, as it’s the turning point for Guts’ plans and ambitions. It might not appear so in the show, but Guts has spent a long time away chasing ghosts (apparently two years) as Casca was left to suffer alone in the mine. I always felt that Miura didn’t really layout the story ahead of time, and probably initially planned to have Guts as a lone swordsman seeking justice. This is somewhat apparent from the Berserk Prototype, which has Guts on a revenge spree against the “Apostles of Vana” for slaughtering his mom. We also see this in the Black Swordsman Arc, which has little to no mention of surviving allies, and only the Demon Child left as a stark reminder of what has befallen him.

Moving on, we’re reintroduced to a slightly older, but much more mature Rickert, and later Erica brings Guts to the Hill of Swords. This is to further hammer in the point, both as a tribute to the Band of the Hawk, as well as reminding Guts that he has to focus on the few loved ones that remain. This is actually borrowed from a real practice of erecting symbolic graves, usually plain white crosses, for victims of war or natural disasters whose bodies couldn’t be reclaimed. This location will again come into play a bit later in the story. From the original Hawks only Guts, Rickert and Casca have survived, and now the more important one has gone missing, which motivates Guts to drop the pointless headhunting and go look for her. Although I don’t particularly care for the emotional pleas of Erica, it serves the purpose of knocking some sense into Guts, so I didn’t really mind it that much. We are also introduced to the Beast of Darkness, which is as a manifestation of Guts’ darker side and hidden desires. There’s also the coup de grâce from the ever-so-shirtless Godo, as he gives his last to repair the Dragonslayer. Their farewell is short, yet appropriate, since as Godo himself puts it “It’s better than getting all weepy” and it’s good to see a character staying true to the end.

The last sequence of the episode switches back to the Holy Iron Chain Knights, now tasked with escorting Mozgus the grand inquisitor of the Holy See to the tower of conviction; although it’s unclear why he would need any protection in the first place. We also get to see an original action scene, which in itself is not that spectacular, but serves to show the ruthlessness of Mozguz and his twisted ideology. The bible headsmash is taken directly from the manga, albeit toned down a few notches, but the torture scene with the Logarius’ Wheel is sufficient enough in getting the point across. Farnese is adamant at first, but is soon distressed from witnessing the horrible torture of the villagers, further weakening her faith and trust of the church. There’s also a brief glimpse of the elite tortures, as well as the prostitute Luca, which sets up the board for the rest of the chapter.

Overall I would say that this episode showed quite a few improvements over the previous ones. The CGI and the 2D animation were integrated more seamlessly, and the show took a much-needed break from the lightning-fast pacing to focus on the characters. The coloring and shading on some of the models during the carriage scene, particularly the armors, were enjoyable. Mozguz seems to be primarily rendered in 3D, and given his round physique it creates a Katamari look to him that diminishes his threatening presence. The next episode is titled ‘The Tower of Conviction’, so it looks like we’re going straight into the birth ceremony. Isidro and the Kushan scouts will also make an appearance. I’m hoping that they don’t skip some of the in-between material, particularly an infamous cave scene. The upside of this late review is that the wait for the next episode will be especially brief.

~Bam~

Posted on 29 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Neon Genesis Evangelion

Turns out that our boy Shinji is after all THE ONE, akin to Neo in the Matrix or every main mecha hero for that matter. He has been chosen, he must therefore use such strength and heart and wits as he has. Sound like I’m complaining, right? Well, I’m not because I think this is a necessity for the series: you have to build the foundation first in order to deconstruct it. You have to establish all the genre tropes first before you crush them, move its parts apart and then assemble the parts again. Why do I think this series is a mecha deconstruction then? Because of the way this episode framed the story. It’s a bold choice to jump-cut from the climax of the battle to the next day where Shinji wakes up quietly in a hospital. The show deliberately hides the outcome of the battle till the end of episode to the point it had fooled me to believe that the battle was a failure, but in a larger sense, this is not unlike a failure. Nobody comes out as happy and excited as we normally expect from the winner side. Gendo, the one seems the most pleased with the outcome, was scolded by the committee for using the budget for his own personal gains (build a toy and let the son plays it); Misato voices her concerns out loud; the citizens in the city were afraid and planned to head out of the city; and certainly our Shinji was not happy about the result, NOT ONE BIT. The ceiling motifs in this episode is a nice touch of symbolism, because it sums up very well the disconnection between Shinji with the rest. Shinji just don’t feel the city as his home, as the place where he belongs. He just wants to be left alone and has nothing to do with the whole mess. There’s already some intrigue moments of the images of the Angels messing with his head, and I appreciate those moments both in terms of the symbolism it conveys, and the visual it possesses. The show really conveys a false sense of security well, indeed it feels more like they are more terrified with the potential of the Eva than satisfied with it. The Eva just literally went berserk and saved the day, but notice that Shinji at that time was unconscious and I do feel like Shinji just become the Eva at that point. Is it the trigger in order to activate the full potential of Eva? Well, I guess I just have to wait until later episodes to find out meself.

Now let’s talk a bit about the world-building of EVA. When Misato shows Shinji about the rising buildings, I think it summarizes the world of EVA the best. The city as a whole looks like a fortress (and as Misato points out, functions like one), this is basically a battlefield. The rising towers and buildings adjusts well with the theme the show establishes so far. Those building, just like our Shinji, hiding underground, waiting for the sun set to raise ahead. The committee also mentions about a certain project that is more important than defensing against Angels. What could be more important than protecting the world from aliens? For now, my guess is that they’re building another perfect city in order to get the hell out of here. Well, I feel like I have caught up too much with all the symbolisms of the show and I think some of my take here might go well off the mark, but really, aside from Utena and Monogatari series, no other show has ever given me that much imageries to chew on and I really appreciate that. All those aside, I really like the Misato’s apartment and the untidy trash, beer cans and takeaway junk foods everywhere really hint a lot about her character. To say that I still can’t put my fingers on what the hell the penguin doing in the episode?

~SuperMario~

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei

Well after a decisive defeat after assaulting the enemy headquarters, Illya and her newly united crew decide to hang around the school. The main bulk of the episode was dedicated to a fight between Chloe and Illya while other parts were mainly the characters clarifying the situation. The main reason behind the fight was Chloe being sick of Illya’s wishy washy attitude and wanting to beat into her the point that the dissonance she is feeling is exactly what Miyu felt at the beginning of the series. Though truthfully I don’t think their anything wrong with Illya wanting to vent her frustration about the situation. For the most part this fight was a motivation beating from Chloe to get Illya to kick herself into gear. Considering the level of effectiveness it might be beneficial for her to pop out of this series and go into another to give a certain someone this season a nice ass kicking so they get their stuff together. I find the reasons for the fight to be a bit flimsy but I rather like the fight itself as it was a great parallel to the main series. The beginning of the fight had Illya install the lancer card and it mirrored the first fight of Fate/stay night were Lancer fought against Archer at the school. The final blow was a nice homage to the fight between Saber and Archer in Hollow Ataraxia as well.

I really disagree with Chloes claim about excalibur being the strongest noble phantasm. My guess is that she mean it more in a metaphor matter but I might as well debunk this as I really hate this whole “Saber is the strongest class” nonsense. Excalibur does have a high level of power but in exchange it requires a huge amount of mana, has a long preparation time and when taken in the context of the holy grail war, is highly unsuited to the battle. In a war which secrecy is a priority, a giant flashy laser beam which lets everyone know who you are is a truly terrible weapon. In terms of power Gate of Babylon, Unlimited Bladeworks and Ionioi Hetairoi beat it easily. Even if we take it as meaning the most powerful sword, It’s nothing compared to Gilgamesh’s Ea. Even Gae Blog is a arguably a more powerful weapon than excalibur seeing as it’s a one shot kill. But well the power levels in the nasuverse are screwed to high heaven. You can debate it to kingdom come and there are many who do.

Of course I can’t avoid talking about what else happened after that can I? This is the reason why I said toned down, as opposed to removed when talking about the fanservice in this season. Fanservice is still there but it’s just not quite a prevalent, yet Sliver Link decided that a three panel shot of Kuro “refiling” mana needed more attention. I guess we can say goodbye to this getting a english dub, not that it had much chance of one seeing as season 2 is still undubbed. Nor is it all that disappointing considering the quality of the first seasons dub which wasn’t that bad but not ideal. Considering the west apprehension towards Lolita fanservice I say a scene with two underage girl heavily making out might make them fear being accused of selling pedofile porn if they decided to publish it. Can’t say I blame them and bloody hell Chloe this is why I don’t like you. There is some value in the theory that she is the personality of the original Illya and the current Illya is a personality that formed after her memories were wiped. But until that story element bears fruit, Chloe is the character who just amps up the Lolita fanservice.

Otherwise this episode had some Other nice little bits. Gilgamesh remains awesome and I like to think that Chloe wearing glasses while explaining things was a reference to Rin, who also sometimes has a tendency of putting on glasses when teaching Shirou magic. That aspect of the original Fate may even be a callback further to Ciel from Tsukihime who had a section of the game where she would teach players about how they went wrong on game choices and what to do to fix it. Really you can find tons of little details like this within the series. Tanaka’s stubbornness with wanting to wear a gym uniform which is the exact thing that Illya wears during the Tiger dojo segments of Fate/Stay Night. Even the fact that Illya’s transformation clothes while installing Saber are that of Saber Lily and Lilys in anime have a common association with…nevermind.(I also mentioned this before in my Fate/Unlimited Bladeworks reviews but Saber Lilys suggested backstory is that she is a saber that was seduced away from Shirou by Caster. So there’s that too.) I have said this before but this is a series mainly for Fate fans, in the same way the Danganronpa animes this season are for Danganronpa fans. Without a certain degree of familiarity with the main franchise they lose a lot in appeal.

~AidanAK47~

Posted on 28 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Mob Psycho 100

This may be a surprise to some so I better start this with an explanation. As you know I originally planned to cover Berserk this season and have put up reviews of the last two episodes. However due to Berserks rather disappointing quality, my desire to cover it has vanished. I doubt anyone wants to read my constant whining over the series so I decided to drop it. Now I will still put up a post about my feelings on it at the halfway point and give it a review when it finishes. But I have given up on covering it weekly. Instead I thought it would be better to cover Mob Psycho as I really didn’t want this season to go by without someone on the site covering it. So why not me?

My original fears for this adaption were that due to the manga/webcomic’s slow beginning that it would take a while to start catching people’s attention. However it seems that Bones realized this and decided to mix about chapters in order to have a good mix of comedy and action each episode. The result has been great so far and the studio has added scene which help the stories feel cohesive instead of disjointed. However the action and comedy is admittedly hit or miss for me, the reason may be a number of things. Comedy has always been something far too subjective for me to evaluate and it doesn’t help that my sense of humor is not really attuned to japanese comedy. One’s comedy i something I can find amusing at times but while I did laugh at One Punch Man, I admired it more for it’s visual excellence and it’s story beats. Mob Psycho seems far more concentrated on comedy and the villains are more silly looking than threatening. That mixed with the inevitably of Mob just steamrolling them has me less interested in Mob Psycho than One Punch Man. I know that I should be judging this show on it’s own merits instead of comparing it to One Punch Man but the similarities between the two shows make that rather difficult.

I have warmed up to Reigen these last two episodes after finding him rather annoying in the first. The likely reason for this is that he has moved to a supportive role instead of standing in the spotlight with Mob. This tones down his conman antics and makes him a much more likeable characters. For even with all his faults as a human being, Reigen really is a good mentor for Mob. He has shown to really care for the kid and his advice while said with self confidence with no basis, is still solid advice for Mob to follow. Mob himself is also fleshing out as a character with these past two episodes focused on dilemmas he faces. Despite the deadpan demeanor, Mob does have a range of emotions and personal problems. I find it really amusing at how little he values his psychic power and has a greater interest in muscle training his body. His gullible nature is also quite endearing as well as his childish aspects. Accepting a challenge from a cult leader because he loves milk brought a smile to my face. I think from this point on the stories main focus will be Mob’s coming of age as a character and I am interested in that.

Animation is this shows distinctive feature as it takes ONEs rough art style and incorporates it will a high level of movement. The result is a adaption true to the art of the webcomic while being visually interesting. However i must admit that at times the animation can become a bit Chaotic and much like One punch Man, the higher quality your animation is then the more noticeable the animation drops become. There are times the animation becomes somewhat choppy and while some may say it’s a feature of the style of animation, to me it feels like playing an online game where character animation is lagging. The style reminds me a lot of Masaaki Yuasa of Mind Game and Tatami Galaxy fame. A style which generally sacrifices art for a high level of exaggerated moment though Mob is to a much less emphasized degree. At the moment what this show really needs is something to cut it away from it’s ties to One Punch Man and make it’s own identity, though considering the number of hidden Saitama references I worry the Studio may not have that in mind.

~AidanAK47~

Posted on 27 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Orange

Orange takes it very slowly this week, even slower than its standard. Indeed, we can summarize the plot of the first 15 minutes just by one sentence: After Kakeru dating with another girl, Naho feels brokenhearted and avoids Kakeru like a plague. Which actually makes sense. After all, the guy already had a girlfriend so if you are truly his best friend, it would be for their best interest just to avoid any close interaction like they used to, right? Except that both Naho and Kakeru feel very awkward with each other. Naho feels powerless that she can’t control the way she wants, so she bounds for another regret: What if she said to him face-to-face instead of sending letter? Or blaming her future-self for having it way too easy. Those feelings are genuine but it’s truly exhausted to follow her feeling. Ueda the new girlfriend sadly doesn’t shed enough light for her own character, and because we see Ueda through Naho’s and the group’s perspective, Ueda comes off more as a negative object (girlfriend who steal their best friend away) more than an actual person.

For the last few episodes, I always feel that the letters work more as a plot device. It is those letters that made Naho changing the future, but I like the fact that in this episode, it’s not those letters but the friends who actually encourage Naho to take action. Yes, this is a right step because, like she stated last couple episodes, those letters can’t change who she is, it is by the support of friends that she could make her effort. Furthermore, I can understand the change in attitude of Kakeru with Naho. Unlike their original timeline, the feeling of Kakeru towards Naho and his hesitant towards Ueda comes directly from her response “No” last week, because now he knows what she’s thinking. But still I can’t see how the friends know what she needs and support her this time, and not in the other timeline? Maybe because this time they sense that Naho is hiding something from them (the letters) so they can sense that she’s been depressed? Or the other way round? I don’t really see the link here.

And to save the best for last, let’s talk about the stand out elements of this episode: the technical aspects. Except from the present day when the group visits his house after 10 years, the rest of the episode feels really off. Now, to be frank, this episode is doomed to be a disaster. After all, making an entire episode basically about love despair with no main action until the very end of episode is not ideal, to say the least. In addition, the restrain of the budget is shown visibly here: so many still frames; our characters in long shots look so shabby. Instead the show tries to be different. There are many out of place elements in this episode that constantly put us off: The CGI part of the vending machine; the mixing of dialogues with montages; the heavily use of frog motifs (which I’m not sure what for); random conversations from other people, and most jarring, the use of rock music in a supposedly sad and melancholic episode. This episode just basically screws over the consistency Orange had built in their first 3 episodes. It’s a risk move, of course; because most of the time I’ve been wonder if I watched the same show. I remember certain episode from “From the New World” run with that very same idea and went all out with their own styles. All this for the service of the climax scene, and boy, it works wonderfully. The confrontation between our lovebirds in the end really pays off what come before. I like the Orange now. Orange’s still going strong, but our Naho won’t and thus our hearts will burst into flames along with her.

~SuperMario~

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Thunderbolt Fantasy

With this episode we basically get an idea where the show will head for the rest of the series and I pretty much enjoy the direction they taking so far. Of course it makes sense that in order to get past those obstacles, the band needs to ally with others who are most suitable for the jobs, even if it happens to be a female demon who practiced necromancy, oops. Well I certainly don’t want anything to do with the demon in my group but I have an impression that she has been frightening people so that they would just leave her be herself. From what I see in the opening intro the other guy (I presume to be the guy who has that Soul magical blah blah blah Flute) looks even more peculiar. Lin Xue Ya proved again to be the mastermind who really plan everything ahead and it would be boring and cliche if he were the master sorcerer, so I hope the show avoids that. But he seems so confident to deal with the demon Xing Hai here, so I guessing Xing Hai has deep appreciation for him, just like Shou Yun Xiao the archer. I like the fact that this series acknowledges that not all demons are necessarily evil, which would add a little bit of context to our demon lady next episode. I also like the whimsical reverse-gender role of her “cutting off parts of 100 beautiful men to make a perfect living doll”, it’s just fantastic when you try to imagine her doing that.

The most interesting bit is of course the three obstacles the cast have to overcome. Well, setting up the Seven Sin Tower in the borderline of human and demon realms is a nice touch, because the show can dwell into dark magic and devil territories. I can see the clash of light and dark arts between the girl Dan Fei and the demon Xing Hai, and I hope they can explore that tension a bit in coming episodes. The three obstacles: The Village of the Dead, The Valley of the Doll, Labyrinth of Darkness; are not at all unique, instead we have encounter some of these before in other anime, but for this one I have high hope that Gen Urobuchi could make those materials interesting.

For a wuxia-action show, this episode in particular surely takes its time, as the first two-third of this episode was dominated by these characters talking to each other. But when the action kicks in, it sure looks wonderful and fun. I have said it before but there is certain charm of practical effects in puppetry that we can’t see in animation, like the body-exploding last episode. With this episode it was head-chopping. But the action is not even the highlights of this episode, it is the dialogues that maintain the campy sense that so entertaining to watch. There are many silly moments like when our main character Shang Bu Huan frustrated of the idea of him tagging along with the group, but get slightly annoyed when those characters proceed to introduce themselves and ignoring him (“Quit trying to move this conversation without me”); or when Dan Fei confronts him on the importance of protecting the legendary swords, instead our main character just ranting about the very idea of putting your own lives to protect the swords (which actually a very valid argument); or even the two most silly guys of the show Juan Can Yun and Shang Bu Huan talk about picking up girl and accuse each other of being pervert. Those moments create a weird chemistry between the cast but I hugely enjoy them that way. Like a puppetry show, these characters are just there to perform their larger-than-life roles, but they perform it so goddamn well that I have no complain whatsoever.

~SuperMario~

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei

Plenty of action this week as we have faceoffs between Beatrice and Illya with Gil and Angelica firing legendary weapons back and forth. I wish there was a bit more fight animation here as while it was the same in the manga, it’s still a shame to have the scene cut away just when the combatants start to fight. True, they shouldn’t blow the budget just yet but the fights in this episode were essentially two people talking and just when they are about to fight the scene cuts over to the other fight where the combatants have just stopped fighting. Still I can’t say there were not great moments in this episode. For one Gilgamesh getting angry at Angelica for using Enkidu, the chain named after his closest friend. I have no idea why but having Gilgamesh say Mongrel just fills my heart with glee. Funny thing is that I think it only became a signature of him when the Fate/Zero dub came out as before it was regularly translated as bastard or lowlife.

I will admit that Illya just so happening to pull out Ruby from a stack of mystical items out of pure chance was a cheap coincidence. But it’s nice that she finally figured out how to install the cards and now we can see Illya cosplay as heroic spirits. Though she says she learned it from Chloe, though how she remembers when she installed archer and how Chloe knew how to do it is still a bit of a mystery. Bah! It’s the nasuverse. Here it follows the logic of who cares as long as it’s cool. If a gym uniform girl can take a direct hit of lightning from the hammer of the gods then who am I to question validity? Speaking of which that seemed odd even to the characters themselves. Tanaka has proven herself to be a strange anomaly as she seems by all accounts to be invincible. She’s clearly not from that world and can’t seem to remember anything besides her mission to destroy the Ainsworths. Considering the world’s current state and it likely being mainly the Ainsworths fault, I say the chances of Tanaka being a counter Guardian sent by the world is high. Despite her being for the most part comic relief, I prefer her to those classmates of Illya as at least she plays a role in the overall plot and isn’t an existence whose only purpose is the pad out the length. Plus she can be genuinely funny at points but maybe that’s because I relate her and illya’s relationship to Taiga and Illya from the Tiger Dojo. Actually in the manga I was certain that Tanaka was a younger version of Taiga due to not seeing her hair colour. If you dye her hair blond she would bare a striking resemblance.

It may be an odd thing to say but I am rather glad that Prisma Illya’s magical girl transformations are much more reserved than that of usual magical girl anime. A particular awkward thing about watching Nanoha is how the transformation sequences go a bit too far with the nudity. I am sure lolicons rejoice but for me it just makes me fear someone walking in and having a huge misunderstanding about my preferences. Illya may be technically eighteen(I assume she is in this spinoff too considering Shirou’s age.) but she certainly doesn’t look it and I have no interest whatsoever. This is why the heavy fanservice aspects of Zwei were particularly awkward for me. It’s a bit like Bayonetta for me, the thing itself is trying to make her as physically appealing as possible but I just am not into that so it just leaves me blank faced and uncomfortable. Well uncomfortable in Prisma’s case; Bayonetta I more just find somewhat amusing. Looks like Bazzett and Chloe are joining in next episode and I hope Chloe is bringing more than just lesbian lolita antics.

~AidanAK47~

Posted on 26 July 2016 with categories: 91 Days, Currently Watching:

Seeing as things didn’t quite go to plan for Avilio last episode, it’s now time for him to prove his innocence to Nero. Avilio is playing his cards right and things would have gone to plan if it wasn’t for the man who lead them to Fango before. He states out of curiosity that he followed Vanno and found both their bodies. Then decided to sell Serpentines body to the police. Personally I doubt it was concern that drove him but rather his own greed as when pressured he did mention that he got too greedy. Chances are he knew what was going down and decided it would be a good chance to make a profit. So todays episode was essentially Avilio tracking down the body in order to show Nero that his story wasn’t made up. Having done that it looks like Nero believes he is in the clear but I think otherwise. Nero may be acting normal on the surface but looking closely he has been showing signs of suspicion about Avilio. I don’t think him taking Avilio with him on his little vacation is because he trusts Avilio but rather him practicing keeping his enemies close.

Fango returns once again to liven things up and I will give him credit in that his character allows him to add a little chaos into the mix. Having him follow Avilio and Nero resulted in a pretty excellent scene with him exchanging hostages. I still think he’s more a loony tunes character than a Mafia underling but that move with him noticing that it was Avilio under the hostage hood and then brushing it off unless he was close enough to pull out a derringer was quite ingenious. His relationship to the Don is interesting as well in that they seem to hold the same opinion on food. However it does feel like Studio Shuka is trying to make him their version of Ladd Russo in places. There is a possibility of him taking over his family and ending up the main antagonist and in regards to that I am not sure on what to think of it. Maybe if he can dial down the crazy he can become a compelling character but otherwise I fear he may steer the show in the wrong direction.

If the title is anything to go by it looks like Avilio’s revenge is going to be a long process and a time skip may be coming soon with this incident escalating into a war between mafia families. Avilio and Nero are leaving before things get too dangerous but it’s possible that when they come back the family will be no more with Nero left to rebuild it. This could create an interesting dynamic between the two as Nero would need Avilio’s intelligence but at the same time Avilio would be taking every opportunity to kill Nero. However chances are that Nero is Avilio’s final target and before him are people Avilio also plans to take out. That look in his eyes as he lights up that cigarette makes me think he’s got some machinations in the works. Though first it looks like the two of them have to deal with a hitman being sent on their trail.

~AidanAK47~

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