Posted on 30 October 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction, Mahoutsukai no Yome

This week on Mahoutsukai we get a Kingdom of Cats, a Serial Kitten-Killer turned formless evil and some new not-so-nice faces.

Mahoutsukai did a lot right this week in my opinion. It created an interesting 2-3 episode story arc with the Cat Killer formless evil. It introduced us to the Sorcerers and setup what will probably end up being a prolonged conflict. Finally, it had Chise finally start doing things, regardless of how reluctant she might be. That last one may not seem important, however when a story is able to proceed regardless of its lead, a viewer will start to ask why they are even there. We will get to that in a moment though, so for now lets jump in.

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Posted on with categories: Yearly Summaries

Do you ever wonder how your tastes change over time? How you remember loving one show to death but now it doesn’t hold up very well, or the shows that you hated stick with you after all this time? Well, that’s the idea behind this retrospective: a look back at the year 2010 in anime, and to those shows from yesteryears. For me though, it’s more of a way for me to play catch up with these 2010’s offerings, since I only watched about a handful of shows from that year; many of them were years ago and my sweet memory just fails me sometimes. I hope this retro review serves as a reminder for long-time fans and as a recommendation for those who want to check out shows in the starting year of this decade.

I have heard many people complain that 2010 was a low point for anime, with a significant decline in both quality and quantity of shows produced. Shows were mostly reduced to 1 cour in length (a trend that continues to this day). Moe anime – cute girls doing very cute things – took the anime fandom by storm with the likes of K-On!! and OreImo. The terrible trend of incest onii-chan love flourished, as many popular shows like Yosuga no Sora, OreImo, B Gata H Kei and KissXsis embraced it at full force. On the other end of the spectrum, fanservice anime and crude, vulgar comedy anime had an unexpectedly great showing, lead by B Gata H Kei and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt with the former and Mitsumodoe, Seitokai Yakuindomo with the latter. It was a year with great loss too, as Satoshi Kon, one of my favorite directors EVER (animated or not) passed away unexpectedly, leaving a big wound that still hasn’t healed. Even now I still visit The Dreaming Machine’s website from time to time. Just an old habit.

On a brighter side of things, noitaminA remained as relevant as ever, with 4 shows (5 if you count Katanagatari which re-aired in later years) ending up in my top 10. Makes me really sad to see how they have struggled in recent years. What is wrong with you, mate? We also witnessed the short-lived but ambitious Anime no Chikara – a project that tried encouraging more original anime produced by A-1 Pictures and Aniplex. As much as I love noitaminA for its focus on mature themes for a mature audience, it was projects like Chikara that I would support wholeheartedly; original, fresh and new ideas that aren’t based on mainstream sources should receive more attention. Whatever happened to the project, I would love to see it alive again.

On a personal note, despite everyone complaining about 2010, with all the shows I sampled, especially with the top 10, I found that this year wasn’t bad at all. The top 10 could be a solid lineup for any given year. And come on, in a year where the top 10 is so diverse it consists of a sports show, a horror show and an incest show (*achoo), it wouldn’t be that bad, right? RIGHT?

To make this list more consistent (and I’m intending to do more retro reviews in the future), here are some basic rules:
– There are 30 shows this year that I decided to sample. I will rate, rank and give short reviews on those shows. Shows are eligible in their year of airing. Shows with split-cour in different years will be eligible for both years (for example, Fate/Zero will be eligible for both 2011 and 2012). Shows that have 2 cour but run in two years will be eligible on the year they start airing (for example, the holy quartet From the New World, Blast of Tempest, Psycho-Pass and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure will be considered as 2012 anime); likewise for long-running shows (meaning Cross Game will be 2009, Hunter x Hunter will be 2011).
– For movies, I will pick exactly 5 movies that air in each year and then choose the best one. Think of it like having a nomination round and then picking out the winner. Short movies that are longer than 30 minutes are eligible in the Movie slot, as are short-form OVAs (meaning Time of Eve or FLCL are eligible here). Multi-part movies will be considered as one entity (like Kizumonogatari Trilogy and Garden of Sinners. Evangelion movies however, due to their separate releases, will be considered as different nominees).
– For rating, I will use psgels’ 100 score system, but beware that my barometer might be different than his. For instance, I consider 60/100 (not 50) as a line between medicroce and passable shows. 75/100 to 89/100 are recommended shows and from 90/100 upward are the cream of the crop. In some rare occasions, I will include plus (+) and minus (-) but remember that they don’t have anything to do with the quality of the shows. (+) is awarded for shows that have strong feminine message, or shows that portray female characters in a positive, sensitive or realistic angle. (-) is casted for shows at the opposite end of the spectrum.

There will be mild spoilers. It’s worth mentioning that this list is highly subjective. For instance, you will see me talking a lot about how female characters are portrayed in some shows (I hesitate to use the term “feminist” here). And don’t get furious when you see shows like Yosuga no Sora make a top list (there. I said it) because that’s just how subjectivity works. With all the groundwork established let’s hit the road before it gets dark, starting with #30:

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Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Houseki no Kuni

It’s incredible how much of a problem-prone Phos is, since almost every episode ends with Phos find themselves in deep shit.  If I go with the logic in Monogatari series it’s because Phos themselves attracts the attention from all kinds of trouble. Nothing much happened this week… is what the plot leads us to think. Underneath its surface, however, there’s a lot going on here. In truth, this episode is incredible. With this episode, they explore what I believe the core concepts of Houseki, and if the first dream sequence hasn’t signalled you clear enough, Houseki is rooted very deeply in Buddhism symbols and ideas. It’s funny to raise comparison between two shows I’m blogging this season: Houseki no Kuni and Girls’ Last Tour, but while this week Girls’ Last Tour explores the idea of God and religion, those themes are far removed from Houseki’s context despite being influenced heavily from Buddhism’s concepts. You see, Houseki is more interested in the separation/ independence between body, mind, and flesh and for me they really take core ideas of Buddhism to heart without relying on religious angle. Pretty awe-inspiring is what I say.

Let’s talk about this week’s title, because it’s important. Flesh, bone and soul. Three elements to form a human being. As the old tale from Ventricosus’s planet suggests, the fifth moon where the human used to live (AKA us) was destroyed, resulting in them split apart into 3 separate kinds of being: Gems, Admirabilis and Lunarians. One important thing to note is that those species are created in their most basic forms: Gems as their most basic elements – the bone, Snail is the one of the most basic type of lifeform – the flesh, and with the soul – symbolized by the religious images. Now that the character designs make so much sense and I’m in awe with the creativeness that the mangaka Haruko Ichikawa has thought up (bravo!). Then the idea that The Lunarians purposely fight off and kidnap the Gems and Admirabilis in order to become human again is seriously blow my mind. This division of beings also brings up one intriguing question: what is Kongo-sensei then? He’s obviously no Gems and based on how the Lunarians bow to him in his dream meditation, he could only be a human. So why does he help the Gems to fight off Lunarians here? My take for now is that he doesn’t want those beings reverse back to human form. Last week I had undermined Phos’ new ability of talking to snail as a silly quirk, but after this episode it’s clear to me that Phos holds the keys to open the that exploration between the three races.

Heavy themes and ideas aside, this week I’m quite surprised myself that the show’s humors hit the marks very well. Those moments like Phos purposely mistranslates or the snail being all bibbidi-doo over Kongo-sensei, or Red Beryl as a costume designer? What a cool job she has. Talking about Ventricosus, just look at the amount of transformation she done this week. From being a giant snail who basically brainwashed, to a little snail with soul (funny how we can see the souls of those gems and snails but those who suppose to be “the Soul” – the Lunarians, are portrayed as soulless) and then transforms into a beautiful being who look not unlike the Gems with big boobs (sorry but it’s kinda important in Houseki). I suspect transformation (or even hybridisation) will serve as another main theme of Houseki going forward. The idea of transformation, again, is rooted in Buddhism’s concept as transformation centers around the concept of death (welp, I think I’m still doing alright here despite being a non-religion myself). With this episode alone, Houseki opens to more thematical deep, and I’m already impressed how original and symbolic Houseki continues to be. Turn out last week I was trying too hard to sell Houseki’s appeal because with this episode 4 I can confidently say that Houseki will become something special. Mark my words.

Posted on with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

Ask the average 3-gatsu fan who embodies the heart and soul of the show, and they’re likely to say Momo, the precocious preschool-aged sister in the Kawamoto trio. Another popular pick would be Hinata, whose sensitivity and unflagging support for Rei make her an invaluable member of the cast. Yet despite their big fanbase and importance in balancing the series’ tone, we hardly got a glimpse of them in the last episode, and they were nowhere to be found in this one. Though I haven’t read the manga, I’ve heard that Hinata will be the focus of a big arc in the near future, so I guess Umino-sensei is saving the ever-popular sisters for that moment. In the meantime, we got to reconnect with plenty of familiar faces in this episode, including Nikaidou, Smith, Gotou, and Kyouko. How nice to be reunited with friends!

I talked a lot last week about Yanagihara, who became one of the show’s most captivating characters practically overnight, and he cemented that feeling for me in “Chaos.” The man really commands a room, shutting down Rei and Nikaidou’s antics and forcing others to accommodate his need for space as the Meijin title match continues. Many other pros tolerate the eccentricities of their fellow shogi players, but Yanagihara puts the game above all else – including people, one suspects. Not even Gotou, whose imposing frame and viper’s tongue cause people to tread carefully around him, can phase the old master as he studies the Souya/Kumakura match. Still, there’s a chill in the air during their scene together, with mournful strings blaring in the background as they size each other up. Based on Rei’s dislike for Gotou (who is sleeping with his adopted sister), one might assume this tragic background track is meant to foreshadow a conflict between the prodigy and his most hated opponent. It seems to me, though, that Yanagihara and Gotou will be the ones sitting across the board from one another before too long. Their personalities and schools of thought are too different not to clash with shogi as a metaphor.

Contrary to my prediction about the Meijin match, Kumakura managed to take it to a seventh and final game. Given the way Souya checkmates him to protect his title, however, it’s safe to say there’s still a sizeable skill gap between the two. I was impressed by the way the show handled this scene: the match commentator and nearly every pro in the shogi hall couldn’t make sense of the move, but after thinking for a while, Kumakura gracefully admitted defeat, stunning nearly everyone. Apart from the two men engaged in combat, only Yanagihara realized it was mate in 17 moves, and only after playing it out did the truth become obvious to everyone else. 3-gatsu isn’t exactly a top-shelf psychological anime, but I’m always intrigued by the way it portrays its 9-dan players as existing on another plane of reality. Souya typically looks so fragile that a strong gust might blow him to pieces, but the wind in his world blows where he commands it. The show keeps giving us peeks into Shimada’s home, where the former challenger appears to be playing along with the current TV broadcast, never leaving his house or contacting anyone. If getting swept 4-0 can do this much damage to a man, how much anguish must Kumakura be experiencing, having tasted victory only to get blown back by Souya’s superhuman foresight?

Even with such a pivotal match taking place this early in the season, the highlight of this episode was what we learned about Gotou after he left the shogi hall. Rei’s biggest problem with the man isn’t just that he’s sleeping with Kyouko, but that he’s having an affair with her, and for anime-only fans, that fact has stained our perception of his character… until now. In a very tender hospital scene, the show reveals that his wife Misako is in a coma, and that the skincare products Kyouko bought for him were intended for her. Kyouko knows this, and asks if she ought to accompany him during his visit, but despite their continued intimacy, Gotou doesn’t want a lover’s comfort while visiting the woman he married. The show generates nothing for pity for these characters here, including Kyouko, whose feelings of loneliness and paternal abandonment drive her to show up at Gotou’s apartment later that night. She sweet-talks her way in, overriding his protests in a brief moment of levity, but the mood becomes sorrowful again as Kyouko observes his physical and emotional exhaustion. Forced to put her selfishness aside, she finds that she can’t get angry with him, which leaves her with only their shared pain to consider. This type of emotional gut punch is one of the things I love most about 3-gatsu, but deep down I’m waiting for the moment when Rei must contemplate his own pain and loss once again, since that’s what drew me to this show in the first place.

Posted on 29 October 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Girls' Last Tour

We have another solid entry of Girls’ Last Tour as this weeks the show focuses back to the dynamic duo with some light philosophical touch. In Girls’ Last Tour, they run around the idea that civilization is a foreign concept. Those girls are stripped away the existing knowledge of the past era, our girls can only rely on Chi-chan’s limited knowledge to figure out the world around them, and at large the very core of our civilization’s sophistication loses its meaning. Usually, Girls’ Last Tour addresses the meaning of high-concept terms (like “war”, “God” this week) through the eyes of our main duo. Due to the fact that those girls have little to no understanding about the concept of tradition, society and civilization, they explain those concepts based on their practical and logical reasons. “War” for example, is just a glorified term of “Conflict”. “Gods” that were once worshiped, likewise, are nothing more than stone statues and in that sense, “What is Cheese” is equal to “What is God” since those girls don’t understand the context of it.

Yuu struggles to comprehend why people put so much efforts for a fake paradise, in which Chi-chan argues, Pascal’s Wager style, that the belief is based not on an appeal to evidence that God exists, but rather that it is in their interests to believe in God and it is therefore rational for them to do so. Like the way Yuu freaks out when she is left alone in the dark. When she has no one else she can rely on, she holds on to her gun (such good metaphors here) and realizes the importance of Chi-chan’s company. The same can be said with the worshipers. For the unknown and terrified afterlife, believing in God they will receive a good reward in the other side of the world. A heaven paradise.

This episode also features the stone statues quite prominently. I guess that the higher the level Chi-chan and Yuu explore, the more modern and complex civilization they encounter. In this level, religion was keep popping as they go along since those stone statues represent worshiped gods. If you haven’t noticed, all the stone statues’ look to the left, only the one “God” who looks to the opposite side. I love such tiny bit of details like that. Also another tiny detail that blink and you miss is that the camera that Kanazawa gave them last week signifies the year they might live in:  year 3230. Talking about the camera, the first half we have the girls playing with their new toy: taking pictures as they move along. The girls then make a pointed comparison about the food will be all used up one day, but the pictures are there forever. When the world breaks down and there will be no more living person left, those pictures are still there, preserved by the moment it was taken. Chi-chan then has an idea to preserve that very moment: the two of them together. The moment they move slowly closer to each other is pretty intimate. The girls still have a rock-solid chemistry together. To answer all the philosophical, deep questions these girls find themselves into, Yuu nails it the most:

“What is Cheese – food”

“What is God – not food”

“Why do people live – food”

Posted on 27 October 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Adventure/Fantasy/Science Fiction, Inuyashiki

Welcome to week 3 of Inuyashiki, the premier serial killer anime of the season. This week Astro Boy grows up, a teenager terrifies his best friend and parallels between our two leads get even stronger! Lets jump in.

Very similar to last episode, this week focus’s equally on our two leads. Once again it shows us the parallels and the differences between the two. It does this by forcing each of them into very similar situations and then showing us how they handle them, side by side. Not exactly subtle, but at least there isn’t a narrator forcing it down our throats. The two main scenarios in this episode are how they handle bullies and how they handle healing powers. They both enjoy the situations, reveling in their power, but for very different reasons.

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Posted on 26 October 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Dies Irae

On the list of top ten worst ways to start an anime episode, I think that panty shots is quite high. Well if it means anything I at least appreciate that Ren didn’t flush up and start stammering, instead acting relatively normal about it. Unlike Kasumi who well reacted in the usual manner of resorting to kicking his teeth in. Like Ren said, you can’t blame the guy if you are the one that put it in his line of sight. So for all one or two of you that are actually still keeping up with this series I say this is the episode you drop. I can’t blame you honestly as this adaption is truly making me question whether the visual novel itself was all that great. It is truly a mark of a bad adaption if it causes you to think lesser of the source. I do remember the beginning of DIes Irae being slow but for visual novels this is usually par for the course. Think of any visual novel adaption and you will likely find it’s beginning to be rather slow paced. Believe it or not this is actually moving at a faster pace than the visual novel and for that I am glad. Truth be told i didn’t really start getting interested in DIes until after this little serial killer arc was done.

Fight animation is better than it was in episode zero but in comparison to fight animation we get today it’s quite lacking indeed. I do recall someone remarking that this anime reminds them of early 2000’s animation and not in a good way. Indeed that is the impression I get as well but part of what is contributing to that is Dies Irae’s obvious inspiration. The visual novel came out a couple years after Fate and many were still chasing Fate/Stay Night’s success and you can certainly see that. Though to be fair the plot actually mirrors another Type Moon work by the name of Tsukihime. The persist in this episode is obviously Kirei inspired and the general serial killer plotline is much like that of Tsukihimes beginning plotline, which also insinuated that the main protagonist may be unconsciously a serial killer.

It’s a pity that the anime skipped over the dialogues between Mercurius and Reinhart as those two really could supervillain monologue. Though the translators might have serious trouble when they start talking. They already appear to be having trouble as terms are mistranslated. For one they are called Lisa, Riza. Calling Valeria the priest of the grail instead of the Golden Vessel. But the biggest mistranslation here is calling the obsidian round table, the black round table. I hear that fans offered to give a terms guide to the translators at crunchyroll to help them stay consistent with the visual novel translation but seems they didn’t take that offer. I mean I can understand a level of apathy with this series but this is a matter of professionalism. If you are going to do the job then do it right. What could make this more of a problem is if the Simuldub of this series(Yes, Funimation is doing one.) goes off the Crunchyroll translations rather than the proper terms. Again though, I did understand if that level of consideration isn’t applied as the series itself isn’t going to do any real justice to it. Still I would like to be surprised and see this series improve as the true story begins.

Posted on with categories: 3-gatsu no Lion, Currently Watching:

When 3-gatsu no Lion first aired in the fall of 2016, there was a heated controversy among manga fans about the appropriateness of Shaft’s adaptation. The show was undeniably faithful to its parent material in terms of story, but its abstract visuals and quirky mood shifts gave it a different flavor than its predecessor. Although Umino-sensei personally requested that Shaft handle the TV series, the decision was met with resistance by part of her fanbase, some of whom swore off the anime completely. Happily, I approached 3-gatsu last year with no prior expectations to weigh me down, and it became one of my favorite series in recent memory, and a virtual lock for my top 10 list in a couple months. Despite my love for the work, I opted not to read the manga during the offseason (a self-imposed restriction I’ll be sure to lift one day), so these blog posts will be written without knowledge of future events. I also want to say a quick thank you to Mario, who has graciously allowed me to continue where his coverage of the story left off six months ago. Cheers, mate!

After the previous season concluded on such a hopeful note, I was curious about which version of Rei we’d get in this opening episode: sadsack Rei or social Rei. Despite his clear growth leading up to this point, 3-gatsu hasn’t been afraid to isolate its main character as he struggles to break free of his anxiety and depression. The show opted to continue where its hopeful season finale left off, though, so we got to spend a delightful half hour with a friendly, optimistic Rei. Seeing him in a teaching role within the new Shogi Science Club was really satisfying – some of the best teachers are driven to give to others the type of care they never received, which I sensed from him in this opening scene. His style of instruction was gentle, but occasionally urgent, as if knowing just when Noguchi (the mustachioed senpai of the club) needed a push to continue with his frustrating shogi training. I really enjoyed the back-and-forth between these two, since Noguchi is much more mature than Rei, but maintains a willing attitude as a student for the benefit of his new friend. Their relationship isn’t just a one-way street, either, with the elder boy walking Rei through the process of creating homemade ramune candy, which he eagerly brought back to the Kawamoto household to share with the girls.

The lack of screen time given to Akari, Hinata, and Momo was a little disappointing, but the majority of this cast is interesting enough to have entire episodes structed around them. This one cut between the club’s viewing of the Meijin title match, the match itself, and the private musings of two legendary figures, who I’ll talk about in a bit. The current Meijin, Souya, is an unstoppable force in the shogi world, but it’s his opponent who dominated their scenes together. We only got a glimpse of Kumakura Kengo last season, but we received much more than that here, as he positively devoured the sweets that were brought to him during the match. The peculiar shots of delicate cakes being crushed, all set to a heavy electric guitar riff, were about as Shaft-y as you can get in a scene featuring two adult men eating. This was the one spot where the show’s visual presentation was distracting for me, but it was certainly a memorable way to convey Kumakura’s strength and intensity. Stern-faced and looming in stature, Kumakura appears to present a difficult obstacle for the Meijin, but given Souya’s place as 3-gatsu’s “final boss,” I doubt he’ll struggle too long before putting away his challenger.

The first of the two legends I mentioned earlier is Jinguuji Takanori, the chairman of the Japan Shogi Association. We’re already familiar with the fun-loving, responsibility-shirking chairman from his multiple appearances in the previous season, but his character took on a different dimension in his conversations here. The man sitting across from him was Yanagihara Sakutarou, whose name I only found by Googling, since it wasn’t mentioned in the episode. I really appreciated that 3-gatsu went for naturalism during his first appearance, rather than putting a title card on screen to inform us of his name, date of birth, JSA rank, blood type, and favorite foods. From the dialogue between these two men, we learn that Yanagihara is set to face Souya in a future tournament, where even the reigning shogi champ will occupy the role of challenger. Yanagihara is nearing 60, but his wry sense of humor is very much intact; though he confesses to fearing the Meijin, his tone verges on disrespectful as he describes Souya’s talent. The chairman even labels his playstyle as “mocking,” an accusation which his friend protests only half-heartedly. Based on their playful, layered conversation, I’m already looking forward to the moment when Yanagihara steps into the ring to face his destined opponent.

Posted on 25 October 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Juuni Taisen

If you had any doubt before that Juuni Taisen is written by Nisio Isin, this episode should clear that out front. It’s talking and talking through and through this week, but this episode also restores my faith that the reversed Zodiac order only serves as a narrative one, and not for the death order. It’s Monkey and Rat who have the most screen time this week and I certainly enjoy the various themes these two explore, be it their own approach on war, the act of saving lives, and the Zodiac War itself. Monkey, as the Rat (and everyone points out), is a pacific, but what sells her ideal is that she isn’t simply an optimistic, idealistic naive person. She has experienced through all the crimes, the hardships, the brutality of war and still, she tries to make peace with her best efforts. Monkey might save more lives than any warrior in the game, but it also means that she has failed more lives than she ever wanted to. The flashback about her trying to ceasefire in a long-winded border conflict between two nations clearly points out that although her intervention comes from a good intent, the effort could end up backfire and might lead to more severe conflicts.

Although Rat didn’t mind following on her peace agreement, he has lots of criticisms regarding her method. First, he points out that with her current skills (which, by the way, is awesome. She can transmute any substance between physical states, being teach by the Three Wise Monkeys no less), it’s much quicker (and more effective) to achieve her goal by killing/ destroying bad weeds rather than negotiating and hoping she can change their minds. It’s just her way of using her weapons though, and I greatly appreciate her for that. Second, Rat laments that saving all the people also means that they have to save rubbish people who don’t deserve to be saved, and by protecting them, they would assume that protecting/saving is someone else’s job. Although he has his point here, I have a feeling his argument mostly comes from his own frustration rather than pointing directly at Monkey’s method. We have his way of thinking here, but without the context it’s hard to know what Rat’s personality is at this moment. Finally, he argues that the Zodiac warriors, more than any other people, are a dangerous bunch who can only find meaning in fighting each other. Are they worth saving at all? Whatever the case, Monkey more than holds her own in this episode. She might be a pacific, yes, but her method never feels unrealistic and I don’t think she’ll be sent off any time soon.

The action does pick up at the end when Bunny team ambushes Rat and Monkey using zombie birds (the ones that Boar killed last week) and now it’s 2-and-2 battle. Now, pure speculation. Toward the end, one line from Rat actually throws me off guard: He remarks at Monkey’s decision to restrain the Mad Rabbit peacefully as “you’re always like this – as “all the time”. Now I have two theories behind his statement. 1) Rat is specifically assigned to join this Zodiac battle to tag along and control/support Monkey. This theory fits with the fact that the warriors in this edition of Zodiac War are more aggressive than usual and they might seek a bigger goal beside gaining one’s wish. Whatever that goal is still in the dark right now, but it does seem that Rat knows pretty well about Monkey’s ability and method. Or 2) Rat has time-rewinding ability. It might sound crazy but consider that he always knows what going on next, and the fact that almost every other warrior has that déjà vu sense when they meet him, which might indicate that they in fact face him all over and over again. That also explains his bored attitude since the guy might have repeated the cycle endless time (let’s say it’s 15,521st time), and if that’s the case, what makes this loop any different than the others? Anyways, I suspect the talky nature (and the lack of body count) might turn some viewers off, but for me we still have a pretty solid episode at hand. Next week will be the old wise Sheep’s turn and I expect we get a good one-off story out of this old man before he’s killed by whoever it is (Frankly, I see him has no chance to win this tournament). Doesn’t matter, I’ve fully embraced Juuni Taisen by now.

As of now,

Deaths: Snake, Boar, Dog, Horse (maybe), Chicken

Favorites to win: Bull, Rat, Monkey, Rabbit, no-one

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

Jack is back and sadly this is the weakest episode so far of the second cour. A big part of that is because it was more or less pointless as while it brings Jack back into the war after a long absence, it really didn’t accomplish anything. This episode mainly revolved around Jack torturing mages to gain information to infiltrate the Black Headquarters and attempt to kill off Fiore. But well once the servants return she says “I will get you next time!” and runs away. So the attack failed and thanks to Jack’s noble Phantasm, the Black team know nothing about her powers or what she looks like despite coming face to face with her. So nothing was truly accomplished. This isn’t how i thought Jack would re-enter the story and I fear that she is becoming another pointless mid-boss much like Avicebron was.

I originally thought that Fiore and the crowd would wish to recruit Jack seeing as she’s a rogue servant and they need all the help they can get to face off against the red servants. I mean sure, there’s the morality issue of joining up with a serial killer but this is the team that was literally breeding people to die in war. Rather silly to have them care about the sanctity of life now. If it’s a danger of her betraying the black side then you can have Joan bind her with command spells. It’s doesn’t make much sense for them to prioritise killing Jack over taking on the gardens of Babylon. Shirou is currently working on a plan that could have devastating consequences for all of humanity so why is it that Jack running around killing mages is a bigger issue?

Not sure why Jack is doing this in the first place as taking out the Black team wouldn’t help her chances of getting the grail at all. They bypass this off with her just being crazy and wanting to kill people but still this just seems far too forced a development. After all, even if she succeeded that would mean it’s her up against all the red servants in the giant death castle. Even if you are crazy those odds are far too disadvantageous. That’s not the only forced element here as when Fiore was attacked a single question went through my mind. Why wasn’t she using her command spell? Command spells do have the power to transport a servant to your side and that’s one of the best reasons to have them in reserve and yet here Fiore seems to have forgotten about it completely. The light novel explanation is that she was just so scared and not thinking straight which does fall in line with her inexperience with combat.

However they also showed her using magic and planning to get her gear which does mean she had some logical thinking. Really if she was trying to find a way out of the situation then the command spells should have come to mind. When it comes to this episode, the word of the day is forced. It feels forced for Jack to attack the black team. It feels forced for her to just retreat after pulling all this. Really this whole sudden conflict just feels forced as if the story just remembered that Assassin of black is a thing and is now trying to find the fastest way to remove her from the plot. As some last notes, I like how they showed that Fiore is unaccustomed to cellphones as mages tend to be rather clueless when it comes to technology. I also like that Sieg is at least getting some payback for his newfound power and I just hope it isn’t somehow negated with another powerup.

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Fire Force – 11 [Formation of Company 8 / The Mightiest Hikeshi]

Unlike other shows I’m watching, Fire Force seems to be hitting stride right at the end of the season. I still argue this show is best in episodes like this one – minimal fight scenes, which they struggle with, and limited catgirl.

DanMachi2 – Army’s Advance (Rakia)

DanMachi is sliding down a muddy hill.  That’s both a summary of what happened this episode and the state of this season’s quality in general.

Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note – 12 [Lightning and Shooting Star]

As I have speculated in the past couple of weeks, the culprit behind all the crime is Dr. Heartless. What did surprise me was him being a Caules impostor the entire time he was on the train. Lord El-Melloi II isn’t a show about the audience solves the mystery for themselves but there was still […]

Kimetsu no Yaiba – 25 [Tsuguko, Kanao Tsuyuri]

Welcome one and all, to the penultimate week of Kimetsu no Yaiba. It’s an odd week I feel, though not a particularly negative one. Just the difference between “fine” and “good”, as this week covers more training, Kanao’s backstory and some actually good comedy. So without further ado, let’s dive in. Starting off, let’s talk […]

Dr.STONE – 12 [Buddies Back to Back]

Welcome to another good week of Dr.STONE, this time tackling a chapter I have been expectantly waiting for. As this week Senku and crew confront the dangerous side of science, Ginro finds his courage and we take another step towards our cure-all. Let’s get right to it! First and foremost I want to talk about […]

Mononoke – 7 [Faceless Monster, Part 2] – Throwback Thursday

And so ends another arc of Mononoke. This was an interesting one as I was simultaneously proven right, yet also wrong, based on last weeks predictions. So without further ado, lets dive right into the finale of our latest horrifying arc. Starting off, Mononoke this week sort of pulled a fast one on me. It […]

Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note – 10-11

Contrary to last episode’s ending scene of Gray and Hephaestion charging into each other, it winds up being something very reminiscent of the that entire banquet of kings episode from Fate/zero. Although fewer in participants, less epic and far shorter than its predecessor, it’s filled with substantial dialogue between these two warriors about their own […]

Vinland Saga – 10 [Ragnarok]

This was a pretty insightful week for Vinland Saga. As we get a deeper look into Askeladd’s character, Thorkell goes on the move and Thorfinn continues to question his place in the band. Lets dive in! Starting off, like always, the productions. This week was, to use a dirty word, pretty damn cinematic. Vinland continues […]

Fire Force – 9/10 [Spreading Malice/Promise]

Fire Force is an anime that shows more than it tells.  For that reason, I’ve saved up two episodes to have something more to talk about than a simple recap.  Let’s go!

Latest Reviews

Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel – II Lost Butterfly Anime Review – 91/100

Long time no see and strap in cause this is going to be a long one. I will preface this review with the assumption that you have seen the first movie of this trilogy and this movie as well as the assumption that whomever is reading this knows what a command spell is. So basically […]

Serial Experiments Lain Anime Review – 78/100 – Throwback Thursday

Serial Experiments Lain is weird. It is a series unlike any other, wholly unique in anime, both modern and historical. Every aspect of it, from presentation to narrative, is best described as an experience. It is because of this that I believe Lain is a must watch, if only to experience a piece of anime […]

Penguin Highway (2018) Movie Review – 89/100

You’re walking along in your neighborhood, going about your daily routine. It’s a fine morning. The sun is shining brightly. But suddenly, you see something strange. You squint your eyes; even rub them, to make sure it isn’t a mirage before exclaiming with excitement, “Oh, look. It’s a bird. No, it’s a plane! No no. […]

One Punch Man Season 2 Anime Review – 34/100

Often at the start of one of these reviews, I will wax philosophical about a series. Attempting to slowly draw you, the reader, in to whatever topic or anime I am discussing in that review. This time, none of that. This time, I have to come out and say from the beginning, that One Punch […]

Dororo Anime Review – 55/100

In the modern anime sphere, getting a complete story, start to finish, is a rare thing. As is getting an adaptation for an older work. Dororo however has, through the grace of Twin Engine, managed to get both of these. Based on the 1967 manga of the same name by legendary Mangaka Osamu Tezuka, Dororo […]

[Star Crossed Anime Exclusive] Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection Review – 80/100

I was lucky enough to be at Sakura-con in Seattle on 20 April 2019 for the Funimation’s movie premiere of Code Geass’ third movie with the Director himself, Gorō Taniguchi, along with his senior staff in attendance inside a room full of raving fans. Was it was worth the decade-long wait to have a worthy […]

Paranoia Agent Anime Review – 67/100

In an era of the mundane, where every series is the same moe blob, the weird sticks out. Even the most mediocre series can get attention just by being weird. Paranoia Agent is not mediocre, and it is far beyond simply “weird”. Written and Directed by Satoshi Kon, Paranoia Agent is one of his last […]

Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) (Winter 2019) Anime Review – 78/100

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known […]

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 77/100

Coming to Kotobuki, there are lots of aspect that catch my attention: it’s from a famed director Tsutomu Mizushima who can turn the most trashable and genre-able concepts into something intriguing; it’s an CG show about air pilots: it has extended aerial combat set-pieces. Watching it till the end, I have to tip my hat […]