Posted on 31 July 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Princess Principal

And we’re back for some James Bond’s cute girls action’s dose of the week and I am happy to report that we have a very good episode in our hands. In fact, I won’t hesitate to say that this is the best Princess Principal we’ve seen so far. Well, case1 builds more groundwork than this week but this case9 has far more exciting case than previous weeks. Not only that, this episode builds up the interactions and hints towards the deeper intentions of all the girls, save Beatrice (seriously, who’s in the right mind to put her as action spy? She’s a dead weight girls. But somehow… I like her that way). But even in Beatrice’s case, now the team knows how to shut off her annoying scream so I’m totally happy with this episode. Moreover, this week is the only time that I can feel Princess Principal slows down the pacing (it’s still fast though) that allows more character interactions, while still maintains the beat throughout and as a result, the episode flows extremely at ease.

This week, the team uses the Princess’s position to gain access to the Cavorite mine and get the prototype from the underground lab. That prototype, a mini Cavorite control unit – looks eerily similar to the one Ange has. I like the way Princess Principal keeps expanding the use of that special device. This episode, she shoots the device to activate scanning the previous objects situated in the room. In other events, the Princess’s grandma and the Duke of Normandy make sure to let the Princess (and us) know that they have a plan for her marriage with the Russian Empire to calm the high tension between the two countries. The actual search for the prototype is interesting enough, each of the girl contributes to one task of the mission, there is of course twist and turns along the way but those don’t overwhelm the story. Moreover, they don’t pull any overpowered, unbelievable skills in there like previous weeks. I actually have quite a great time following the case this week so I hope Princess Principal keeps this tempo from now on.

It appears Princess Principal will go for a non-chorological order; pretty much Haruhi-style, now that we jump to case9 and my hope for a proper introduction of Chise is still in place; although this episode does spill the beans about Chise’s hidden agenda. Damn, I’d pretty much prefer if they keep it more ambiguous but the reveal does tell us a lot about her motives, as well as her current situation. Well, I honestly wouldn’t expect Chise expresses so much cute reactions but let’s see what she has on a serious side. She works under Lord Horikawa, whom I assume is belong to Japanese Imperial Family; who uses Chise as a spy to determine which side to ally, the Commonwealth or the Kingdom. This “White Pigeon” team is indeed an ideal team as they have 2 members from the Commonwealth, and other 2 from the Kingdom; so Chise can have a clear picture regarding the situations of both sides. She feels insecure about her role in the group, however, as she gets really upset by the way Ange constantly puts her out of action field considering she has the greatest combat skills of the group. What she doesn’t know is that Ange uses her as a safety net for the Princess, to which the Princess doesn’t agree with (very great characterizations all around). How does she and Lord Horikawa found out about the team is anyone’s guess right now, but I’m secretly glad that she isn’t here to kill the Princess or Ange off. Or will she?

Dorothy has also grown a lot on me. Now, it becomes a norm and I am really looking forward to her doing a femme fatale’s impressions to seduce whatever male species in the world. But this episode goes further than that, having her in a bind herself to keep a closer watch on the Princess, the person that she obviously grows accustomed with. Just see how Dorothy feels uneasy about the mission, and then relieves when the suspicion is proving wrong; towards her remark at the end: “White pigeon isn’t grey” and you can sense how much she went through to protect what she considers as friends versus her mission. Speaking of “friends”, it’s worth noting that while Ange considers only the princess as true friend, hence over-protective of her; the Princess considers everyone in the team as friends. Will Ange come to trust other members of her team? They all have different agenda anyways so whatever happens, the end-result will be a big battlefield between the casts. And those who fight for their love usually are those will end up being miserable in the end.

Posted on 30 July 2017 with categories: 18if, Currently Watching:

Well, it was a very shaky 18if episode this week. After episode 2 when the show went for much darker territory, and episode 3 when 18if filled my heart with its bittersweet moments, episode 4 goes back to the style of premiere episode and even when putting these two episodes together, this one gets pale in comparison. The director of this episode is Hiroko Kazui, who mostly known as the storyboarder of later Monogataries series, and key animation of Tokyo Godfathers. As you can guess from the title “The Witch of Gluttory”, this episode is all about eating, food-porn about curry rice and donuts. Here come one of the main issues of 18if, and it isn’t about the different directors handling each episode; the 18if’s cases lack urgency. Only episode 2 produced some sense of urgency because the cast tried to save the bad guys in real life. Other episodes though, no one in the risk of danger, even the Witch that it’s hard to see any importance of saving the case throughout the episode. One thing worth mentioned is that the girls don’t necessary have a Sleeping Beauty Syndrome or in a coma to become a witch; as Airi still keeps her normal daily routines at day and become a chibi witch at night.

The episode follows a girl who has eating disorder known as bulimia because she wants to maintain a skinny body. Thus, she consumes a large amount of donuts and cakes at night, then immediately purges them out. I know18if is very inconsistent in its art and quality, but what they’re really consistent so far, is how jerk they portrait the male characters who break the Witches’ hearts. This one simply breaks up with Airi because he finds someone else who skinnier than her. Jerk. She ends up feeling insecure about her weight, which lead to her eating disorder and her distaste to her favorite curry food. Well, she isn’t really distaste the curry meal, because she still cooks them tastefully, and in truth I still can’t connect it with her problems. Look, this episode is way too vague about her issues. I bet most of us after watching this episode don’t even know whether she gains weight by eating a lot or loses weight by throwing those foods. Can anyone even guess who was the other little girl in her dream? You can’t? I guess so – why include her then? Consider that this aspect was already the episode’s strongest, you would know how misfired this episode find itself in.

Because when you start mentioning other aspects then it falls apart rather quickly. The dream sequence is string of cartoonist wacky adventure (with overloaded cakes) and experience a severed tonal issue that it’s hard to take any of this seriously. Not only Haruto, our recurring cast fares so much worse and overall are inconsistent with their character so far. The scientist has a “curry kick” and singing and exaggerating with no purpose whatsoever; Lily suddenly has an urge for donut that makes her more superficial and goofy than engaging; and Haruto has zero chemistry with the Witch that I don’t feel any emotional investment in any of this. The story and its pacing all have its problems and worse they can’t even maintain a consistent tone. 18if is fascinating project, that’s for sure, but they need to do better than this to really engage us. This episode is a big “meh”, not bad enough to be a disaster, but unmemorable and uninspiring.

Posted on with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

If you’d asked me a month ago for my top picks of the season, Ballroom e Youkoso would have been one of them. If you’d asked me two weeks ago to rank the new summer series, this show would have been right beneath Made in Abyss at the top of the heap. If you’d asked me seven days ago whether Ballroom was going to bounce back from its first subpar episode, I’d have wagered it would… but it didn’t. We’re only four weeks into a planned 24-episode run, so this level of pessimism must seem premature to many of you. Part of me knows that it is. The other, much larger part of me is too disappointed to care, so I’m going full nitpick mode for the next 500 words, with the promise that I’ll resume standard coverage next time.

Let’s start with how annoying Sengoku was in this episode, and more broadly, the depths of stupidity to which anime character writing can descend. Hyodo, Sengoku’s star pupil, has been concealing a knee injury that his teacher fears will worsen without rest. His solution is to take advantage of Hyodo’s absence and use Tatara as a substitute, which will disqualify Hyodo, thus preventing him from dancing and compounding his injury. (Let us overlook the fact that he could have simply convinced Shizuku to withdraw, as a later manga chapter will point out.) He then proceeds to blame Tatara, who he roped into this ridiculous plan, for lighting a fire under Hyodo’s ass, claiming that it will be his fault if his rival should bust his leg on the floor. The show hangs a lampshade on how dumb this is by having the background characters accuse Sengoku of being unreasonable, but the show forgets their objections as quickly as it raised them. The kicker is that Mr. Coach of the Year thinks to himself, “I guess it was worth butting in,” when he sees Hyodo dance the tango like a man possessed, and later laughs about the length of his ban from competitive DanceSport.

You might claim that Sengoku is just a dick, but think about the fact that the author delayed the disqualification just long enough for Hyodo to land himself in the hospital, or that Tatara continues to blame himself for Hyodo’s injury and DQ, even though it’s obvious to anyone with an ounce of brain power that neither of those things are his fault. This series is pushing square-shaped story beats through circular holes, and whenever the peanut gallery shows up to remind you that what’s happening doesn’t make a lot of sense, they get swept under the rug. Some of the same problems are present in the manga, but seeing them presented at a static pace and with no adjustments is a real disadvantage for viewers of the TV version.

Where the anime ought to excel is in the dancing scenes, but they’re just not cutting it for me. Ballroom is pulling the classic trick of cutting from panning stills to amazed reaction shots, and hoping that its real-life audience will feel the same sense of wonder as the faces on screen. I’m starting to see a lot of painted backgrounds that are meant to imply movement, as well – they’re not as cheap as speed lines, but they serve the same purpose. The standing ovation that Hyodo’s tango received near the middle of the episode felt utterly phony, given that more than half of it looked like posing rather than dancing, and that sucked the life from everything that happened afterward. Iwakuma’s brief appearance came off as immaterial, and what could have been a real heart-to-heart between Tatara and Hyodo ultimately felt like a convenient way to move the former boy one step closer to his goal. It now falls to the Akagi siblings (the two characters introduced just before the ED) to breathe new life into this once-charming show, or else the next five months of blogging are going to be tinged with regret.

NOTE: This week, I started referring to the show’s protagonist (Fujita Tatara) by his given name, which should become a regular practice going forward.

Posted on 28 July 2017 with categories: Series which were Dropped, Shoukoku no Altair

Shoukoku no Altair seems to be settling into a rhythm. For an episode containing as much new terminology and backstory as this one, “The Eagle’s Joint Struggle” moved from beat to beat with an ease I wasn’t anticipating. That tone is partly owed to the character of Baskan Suleyman, whose competent yet approachable personality dominated the proceedings this week. As one of just two survivors of the Tughril people, you might expect him to be a darker, less forgiving figure, but his competence and charm made him my favorite cast member thus far. Mahmut seemed to have a similar opinion, which transforms his journey into one of purpose, rather than exile. It was great fun to see the two falconers swap stories and team up on a few of Louis’ flunkies. Mahmut now has his first real comrade, as opposed to the mentors, friends, and enemies he’s encountered until this point, and that’s a welcome addition to the series.

It wasn’t all fun and games this week, however, as the episode-opening dream sequence made the horrors of our hero’s past more vivid than ever before. During the first of these visions, Mahmut was literally rooted to the ground while his mother was murdered before his eyes. One new detail I spotted in this scene was the baby she cradled as her attackers advanced – this couldn’t have been her first child, since Mahmut was five years old when his village was burned, so perhaps his younger sibling was tragically taken from him that night, as well. Even more interesting would be if a third Tughril tribesman still lived, perhaps as a member of the Empire, having been captured during the raid. We aren’t given too much time to reflect on these possibilities, however, as the dream shifts to feature shadowy figures that prey on Mahmut’s self-doubt and tear at his eyes and ears. This is a new, more serious tone for the show, so it’s good that some friendly faces were introduced later to provide some balance.

Those faces belong to Barbaros, a kulak (Turkish for “ear”) in Zaganos’ spy network, and the aforementioned Suleyman, both of whom reveal themselves to Mahmut when he pays a visit to his home village. The show wasted no time in demonstrating the function of the Pyramis from last time; when held under a fountain at particular shrines, it emits a beam of light that Zaganos’ people can identify, and which Barbaros quickly spotted this week. It’s such a clever device that I’m already past worrying about how easily it fell into Mahmut’s lap, and ready for him to travel to more shrines and meet more potential allies. Not that I’ll forget Suleyman any time soon – his goal of using the spy network to prevent war stands in fascinating contrast to Zaganos’ apparent desire for it, so there may be an ideological clash in their future. Perhaps the larger arc of the series will be Mahmut flipping the spy network’s ultimate purpose from one of conflict to one of peace. Then again, maybe the Poison General isn’t as war-hungry as he appears, and everything we’ve seen from him so far has been part of a much longer game.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the smaller details this week that really helped the episode breathe, including the brief ritual Mahmut performed upon his arrival at Yeni Tughril. What really impressed me about this scene was its lack of explanatory voiceover – we know from context that the water is intended to pay respect to the dead, and while the finer details may escape us, the silence makes the moment that much more poignant. (That being said, anyone who wants to offer additional commentary on that scene is more than welcome to do so!) Also worth noting is Mahmut’s observation that the area’s wild eagles will migrate north soon, so he won’t be able to use them in combat for a while. These quiet moments gave the show a healthier, more natural air this week, so I’ll be on the lookout for them next time, as well.

Posted on with categories: Classroom of the Elite, Currently Watching:

Just like what the long title suggests, this episode’s all about “bargaining” and establishing the hidden rules behind this academy. If you originally think Class D got the high scores due to their own efforts, well you’re in the wrong show then. You see, the bottom line here is that you can use the points to buy off everything within the school: old test’s questions and even buy off the exam’s score. Not only they get away with all that, it is heavily implied the teacher and the school expect them to work that way. That’s the world they live in huh? It’s just a matter of knowing and exploiting the system (what they call as a S-System). So, using points as a trade for something they need, that’s one part of this system. The next past would be how to gain points for the class then. From what I understand, all the points class D received from the midterm test are 87 points – not that much by any means but when you compare how many points class C improved after the test (from 490 to 492 – 2 points), it does indeed feel the gap has narrowed. But in order to aim for the top they need to have a bigger plan to gain points and slowly move up their rank – which I believe will be the main plot of Youkoso going forward.

But the way Youkoso executes its theme and its plot still leaves a lot to be desired. The story did jump back from few days before the exams and Sudo gets a fair amount of screen time this week but never at once we see him make any real effort for the test, so why go your way to save someone like him then? I feel like Youkoso just creates a situation so Ayanokoji has to step in and uses his negotiation skills to save the day. The show also introduces many characters from other class, most notably the bullying Ryuen from class C (who got praised from the “elites” of class A for gaining 2 POINTS), and the blonde Ichinose from class B – for my money they will become their respective class representatives when the time comes. I know this school setting isn’t supposed to be realistic, but they really stretch the idea too thin: Teachers who never explain the rules but berate the students for not figuring out themselves; tests that don’t change for at least 2 years, down to the exact words; the scores are already announced but somehow can be altered. I guess for the sake of enjoyment, we just need to look away those foolish details but even then, the story so far doesn’t have any lasting power.

How Youkoso handles the main leads though, is far more successfully. Ayanokoji proves to be the right main behind the job who would do anything necessary for the sake of the class and Horikita shows another soft side of her of wanting to help her classmates out – something that she would never consider doing before (on that note: it completely lost me why she had to lower her English score for the sake of helping Sudo? Could anyone give me an explanation?). But the powerstar of this week, of course is Kushida as she reveals her other ugly bitchy side of her. It’s interesting to note that in the novel, Kushida gets pissed at Horikita in a part where Horikita just shrugged of the “3 Fools of D-Class” from her tutorial and she still gained Ayanokoji’s trust nevertheless. But in the anime, Kushida revealing her true colors come from her jealousness towards all the attention Horikita “gets”. In other words, more bitchy and cruel. Again, same content, different meaning. If you ask me which version I prefer, in this particular case I’d go for the anime version; since what better way to show another dark side of a character than showing of their selfish bitchy side? I like the way she handles Ayanokoji by intentionally let him grab her boob. Give boob-grabbing the whole new meaning.  As much as I like the new personality-twist, this week unfortunately isn’t Youkoso’s best moments.

Posted on 27 July 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Reviews by AidanAK47

Upon hearing that Castlevania would be getting an animated TV series my first reaction was that of unpleasant surprise. Part of the reason was because of the video games infamous history with adapting their stories to other mediums but my main reason was that being familiar with the Castlevania games, I knew the story was by far the weakest aspect. I have played a number of Castlevania titles though my main experience is with the so called “Igavania” titles which helped birth the Metroidvania genre. Let me say that story was not the reason I came to love the franchise, as a matter of fact the story rather went beyond “Dracula has revived, go kill him again.” However against all odds this series has managed to pull a rather enjoyable story out of the bare bones that was present in the game it was based on, Castlevania 3. I believe the main reason behind this story turning out to be a good video game adaption has to do with the writer being a famous comic writer by the name of Warren Ellis. Not being much of a comic fan I have only read a couple of his works like Planetary, Transmetropolitan and Crecy but based on those I can tell he has skill.

The story of this series isn’t anything to gush over but does serve well in using the little story in the games and fleshing it out to a better degree. It reminds me a lot of old anime ova’s from the 80s with its high level of violence and gore while sticking to a simplistic but enjoyable story. Make no mistake this animation isn’t for children with swearing and corpses abound. I admit that with the large amount of anime I watch it is rather refreshing to experience something that doesn’t have the usual Japanese tropes. Our main character Trevor Belmont is the one to get the most screentime in this short hour and a half season and he certainly makes for a fun main character. Starting your introduction with a drunken brawl is certainly a plus in my book and he is a good mix of playful and skilled without delving into overpowered territory. Other characters didn’t quite get as much screen time to really get a grasp on their characters but they were believable enough to get invested in.

The main cast only really assembled in the final minutes of the last episode. The villains on the other hand were on the weak side with the demons being sidelined by the church who really get treated as ignorant and greedy as all hell. Not saying it’s an inaccurate depiction but they do come off as rather one dimensional when any priest is automatically a murdering scummy psychopath. I hope that with this there role in the story is more or less finished with the end of the season as the first episode does nicely make Dracula’s motives much more compelling. He sadly didn’t get much of a role in this season but clearly the story wanted to focus on a minor villain first before taking on the main one. Our main villain for this season happens to be a bishop and I can pretty much sum him up as the same character as Frollo from Disney’s the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Religious, insane and so mistakenly sickeningly self righteous that he makes you want bash his head in with a sledgehammer.

This “Season” is only four episodes long and feels more like a hour and a half pilot episode. If I had to guess I would say that these four episodes were to gauge interest in the series due to the negative view of video game adaptions and considering just how quickly a second season of eight episodes was greenlit it looks like the response was quite positive indeed. In the continuation of the series I hope they keep up this level of quality but I also hope that they have much more monster variety as the enemies were primarily variants of demon creatures. Part of what makes Castlevania great is the huge cast of enemies from monster movie and myth. You didn’t just fight demons in Castlevania but ghosts, goblins, fishmen, werewolves and a whole host of monsters including Death himself. It would be a massive shame for the series to not capitalise on that and instead keep the monsters as dull demon creatures.

Animation for the most part is excellent with some occasional stumbles but excelling when it needs to. Music overall was fine but I do wish for a rendition of the iconic Bloody Tears or Vampire Killer songs. For fans of the games there is details sure to make you smile such as platforming on clock gears which I am sure any Castlevania fan is familiar with. However this doesn’t require knowledge of the games to be enjoyed either as the story very much stands on it’s own. Overall I would consider this to be one of the strongest Video Game adaptions to date though that may not be high praise considering it’s competition. If you happen to be burned out on anime or just looking for a nice change of pace then I do recommend checking this show out as it’s short and sweet.

Posted on 26 July 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kakegurui

I could make it point to go on about how ridiculous it is for a school to allow a student to carry a firearm or putting forward a life plan which I am fairly certain is a clear violation of human rights but honestly that dead horse has been beaten enough. In Kakegurui this is just how things work and that’s that. So with the major loss last episode Yumeko has now been reduced to pet status and it’s shown that being a female pet is significantly more dangerous than a male pet. All things considered it would be pretty obvious for male students to take advantage of such a position so we have the usual rapists come on scene to try and assault Yumeko. This is a common trope in anime, these random dudes who jump at the opportunity to grab a woman the minute she’s left alone. It appears in anime so often than I am genuinely curious as to how true to life it is. Are there really random guys who wander around Japan just trying to rape every girl alone on the street? Considering Japan has a declining birth rate and some reputation of men being Herbivores I find it rather dubious. Either way when it comes to these kinds of scenes at least this was the more tasteful of the sort. I got worried when Yumeko started taking off her underwear but the show at least knew when to stop. Truthfully though what did Yumeko expect from this situation as oddly she seemed disappointed when these guys said they were not going to violate her. Taking her personality into account however this does make a degree of sense.. Yumeko is someone who gets a thrill of gambling her life so this to her could have just been another gamble. Can she escape them unscathed or would she be caught and violated? That certainly sounds like a bet she would take on.

We have the return of Mary from the first episode and it looks like were are getting the old shounen trope of first time villains turning into allies. Based on the first episode alone you would think that there would be no way to redeem her but these past episodes have shown Mary to be the lesser evil in this school. Mary more or less aimed to embarrass her where as our other villains here are aiming to rip off her fingernails or ruin her. With a taste of Humble pie Mary has actually become one of the most reasonable people in the cast with her selfish intentions being less malevolent and more petty. Even in context it felt that she only targeted Yumeko in the first episode out of Jealousy over the male lead if I am reading this right. She has show a level of attachment to him and she’s has blond twin tailed hairstyle which is often chosen hairstyle for your typical tsundere. Yumeko doesn’t seem to hold hard feelings towards her either and they two do make a good duo of easygoing madness and level headed crook. Seeing the two work together is fun and I can tell the voice actor had a whole lot of fun with the last line of the episode.

So to get Yumeko back on top we have entered a high stakes game of two card Blind man’s Bluff, aka Indian Poker. Rules of the game is that you can see one card from everyone’s hand but your own and know one of your cards. A win is decided by getting a pair of matching numbers(Pair) or a pair of matching suits(Mark) with no match being a Pig. Upon two people getting a mark or a pair the winner is decided by who has the highest number. So if you are going to cheat at this game the best bet is to have a partner who can signal what card you had to show the group. Yumeko and Mary are clearly working together somehow as Mary talked to her before the match but it does seem to be something less obvious. As the villain of this gamble saw such a play and was bluffed instead. It’s pretty clear the villain is cheating somehow as well as in this show the villain is always cheating. Thus it becomes a game of who can out cheat the cheater and knowing Yumeko I doubt this delinquent is getting off easy.

Posted on 25 July 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Made in Abyss

This episode looks to be setting up the big adventure to guide us through the rest of the season but I really cannot comment enough on how much of a terrible idea it is. Riko is pure rookie when it comes to abyss diving and here she is deciding to take on the challenge of making it to the bottom of the Abyss. All for the vague idea that her mother just might be waiting for her down there. In the world of children is a brave and noble quest. But in the world of common sense it’s just a really dumb idea that’s certainly going to get them killed. But hey we got to have a story and I certainly cannot call this a plot hole as no adults are consenting to this mad gamble, though the dorm leader seems to be letting on that he knows more than he’s letting on. But I am with the other kid on this once, either Riko’s mom is dead or she’s in a place where she can afford to wait a few years. The smart idea would be for Riko to earn her way through the ranks and get close to a white whistle. Then decide to drop down to the lower levels as right now I don’t think they even have enough food to last them the trip. But I guess that’s what going to make this whole journey all the more tense, seeing these two notice just how ill prepared they truly are.

So it’s been around for awhile now but beneath Made in Abyss’s bubbly like exterior does hide some rather disconcerting elements. Like Riko’s room originally being a torture room, the slums of the town which seem to have people regularly dying of toxins from the Abyss, Skeletons found in praying posture, foreign invaders and we even have a rumor of children that die on their birthday with they look into a mirror. That last one is rather concerning as the smallest child’s birthday is soon and he’s showing signs of being sickly. That sounds dangerously like a death flag to me. I have said before that I am wary of this show transitioning into a darker tone as such a change requires a deft hand at writing and plenty have failed to capture the potential such a tonal shift brings. Though perhaps these dark details will just be food for thought in the background like the way Adventure time slips in details about the world that betray it’s sunny disposition.

I can’t say I was that broken up over Riko’s departure from her friends as her friends haven’t really been around much to get attached to. Though it seems that people did get broken up about it when my focus was on Regu’s introspection on why he was made and his connection to the Abyss. As well as questioning whether he’s a robot, Cyborg or Android. Based on RIko’s inspection and him still possessing biological traits I am putting a firm bet on him being a Cyborg, a human modified into a robot. The purpose to this is still up in the air but it was confirmed in this episode that Regu isn’t affected by the curse of the Abyss. So he could very well be an ambassador from the lower depths who has forgotten his mission. Though considering he has Megaman arm cannons his intentions may not have been peaceful. As to where he came from the best bet would be this Capital of the unreturned level of the Abyss meaned in the map. Could those who have ventured into the abyss have established their own colony in the lowest levels of it? And if so, are they friend or foe?

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Apocrypha

There are many things that can lead to one anime downfall but even with certain weaknesses in area a anime can shine through. Berserk 1997 showed that a strong story can make up for a powerpoint level of animation. Tatami Galaxy showed that even with lacking art a compelling story can be told.(I am sorry but despite it’s creativity I find Masaaki Yuasa’s artstyle to be ugly.) However I believe there is one thing which no amount of quality in animation, story and art can make up for. That thing is pacing and there are two shows this season which prove that. One being the Vatican Examiners anime and as of the last two episodes, Fate/Apocrypha. Yes, no amount of quilty could make a difference when you rush through the story like a speeding train. It kills emotional impact and makes it hard to truly connect with the events on screen. Fate/Apocrypha isn’t Shakespeare(Despite it well…featuring Shakespeare.) but this episode truly felt to me like actors soullessly reenacting the events of the novels. With the gravitas of reading a wikipedia article, the events of the novel are places on screen but without any of the significance that make them meaningful. It’s a true pity as from what I hear these novels start strong but grow weaker as they continue. So we are essentially fast fowarding what could be the best parts of the story.

Art and animation have certainly taken a hit with the berserker scenes featuring some truly cringeworthy examples of poor quality. Still frames and crude artwork really killed the scene along with a pacing that robbed it of it’s meaning. This episode should have been a big confrontation from the big players on the scene but it just felt so lackluster. For an example of missed connotation and am certain anime only watchers would be confused over just what Darica was so mad at Gordes for. To clarify this has to do with Siegfried’s legend where it is well known that he was bathed in dragon’s blood which provided him with a level of invincibility. The blood covered all of him except for one patch on his back which was covered by the leaf of a maple tree. What this means is that Siegfried has a massive weak point on his back which is why Grodes refused to reveal his name in the second episode. However in that battle Grodes was forcing Seigfried to use his noble Phantasm which would announce his identity to his enemies. In fact this makes the slip up last episode all the stranger when he announced himself to Karna and Gordes didn’t make a sound. Point is that informing an enemy that you have a critical weak point is generally a bad move. Hence why Achilles kept his identity to himself as his his very name has become synonymous with a metaphor for a fatal weakness.

Speaking of Achilles he certainly got shafted here along with Atalanta. Unless you know the history the significance of these events will likely puzzle the regular viewer. Thing is that Chiron is Achilles teacher and he taught quite a number of heroes. He also outranks Atalanta as a Archer as he is the basis of the star sign of Sagittarius and possibly one of the best heroic archers.(That well…are actually Archers) Might as well note that it’s nice to see some genuine archers in the Archer class for once. Both Zero and Stay nights archers only qualify as an Archer on a technicality. Though one thing that is odd is that the servants of this war all seem to have independent action which is a trait generally only given to the Archer class. Servants should have to stick close by their masters but because the Archer class is primarily a long range fighter they are given the ability to be able to last without a master and move a significant distance away from them. Here that rule seems to have been thrown out completely but somewhere in the massive bunch of tangled wires called Nasuverse lore there bound to be a technicality of sorts.

So we have the first casualty of the Great Holy Grail war and by Suicide of all things. As mentioned before it’s hard to truly feel for Siegfried’s sacrifice when we barely knew him and the pacing is so fast that all you can really feel is mild surprise. Even in the novel I didn’t quite care for him though his nature of acting as a hollow automaton which carries out people’s wishes is a similar demeanor of that of Shirou. He said he had no wish for the grail but it appears his real wish was simply to do something for himself rather than someone else. Such a shame that this act would be to save the life of what seems to be the most agreed upon weakest element of this story, the Homunculus character. I didn’t see a lot of him as I only read the first two volumes but I do remember the parts that featured him dragged horribly. I truly don’t look forward to seeing this fellow more in the future. Still there is something rather odd here, the opening of this series featured Siegfried facing Mordred and yet here shows he committed suicide before he could face her in battle. How very strange.

Posted on 24 July 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Princess Principal

We have another fun action-spy time this week. While this week isn’t as great as the week before, the decision to group the girls in different pairings make this one entertaining to watch. This means Ange is pairing up with Beatrice, and the Princess with Dorothy (just to make it more consistent I will address Ange the spy as Ange, not Charlotte and the current Charlotte as the Princess). Admittedly, the first pair receives a larger amount of focus than the other duo since this week is all about their first mission together and in Beatrice’s case, accepting those girls as her companions. Beatrice has a decent DARK backstory here, but her character is still the simplest out of our main girls and the way she’s obsessed over the Princess is way too much for me. On that I think all the clues have been suggested regarding how those girls’ relationship gonna pan out. The Princess really intents to become the next Queen so that she can order the fall on London wall. Ange agrees to play along with her even if it means she’d deceive the Princess and deceive herself. Of course, when she’s going to deceive the Princess she has to deal with Beatrice so that development can create an interesting crack between the main cast. Take heed that even work together as a team, each girl has different agenda and at the end of the day it’s a matter of who achieving their objective, so I expect the last “conflict” would be within the group.

Their mission this week is to retrieve a stolen printing plate (make me wonder what’s the currency they use in that fictional world? Do the two divided nations use the same currency? North Pound – South Pound?), and that somehow involve dodging bullets outside of a floating airship, explosions and tandem parachute jump because… when you’re a spy so you just have to make some noise huh? Dorothy again steals all the limited screen she has here with her seduction femme fatale technique (looking forward to her arc), and I’m glad to see many events don’t go as Ange’s plan during the mission, thanks largely to Beatrice. Still, she possesses an amazing superhuman skill of listening to multiple phone lines but still be able to remember all the conversations. As far as this mission goes it’s fun to follow at best, but gives little insight for us to delve into. On that note, how the hell Beatrice can intimate voice from some random caption that she has never meet before?

The reason why Beatrice can alter her voice has been revealed this week, and well, it certainly is sad and twisted. Her father uses her as a lab rat and he changes her vocal chords into a mechanic one. That explains her unnatural high pitch “himesama” voice but it would prove to be useful for spying. Ange and Beatrice share nice chemistry together, although I don’t really like the way they’re linked together by the Princess. Indeed, the Princess role plays a great impact here since as soon as Beatrice realizes how Ange truly cares about the safety of the Princess, she lets her guard down and agrees to join the spy team. Chise is nowhere to be found in this episode but from the look of it, I expect her to make an appearance soon, probably next week and it will be interesting to know her stand and her role in all this. A fairly enjoyable but a bit forgettable episode. Still my muse of this season. And like Rick remarks at the end of Casablanca: “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

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