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

Hello and welcome to another week of Mahoutsukai. This week, as predicted, Chise gets a new friend, our evil Sorcerer gets a name, and Chibi art ruins scenes. Lets jump in.

To start off, lets talk about Chise. Its a good week for her. She shows off her own magic power and smarts with the Tarantula Hawks, a wasp species that hunts spiders. She shows to have potential equal to or above Elias’s, with devouring his hand accidentally, and she binds a familiar. Who, by the way, I am looking forward to seeing more of. Our pair needed a third person to bounce off of. For Chise, I am glad she is standing out more and more, as this is her story.  Shes no longer the cowering new slave from episode one. However, there are still some things that bother me.

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Posted on 29 November 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Juuni Taisen

Oh fuck… Turns out Dragon’s plan all along was to chime in, just so that he is immediately taken down by the flying Rabbit. Lame. What a load of crap. I mean, Dragon has been contributing absolutely zero significance to the plot so far. The reason he wasn’t the first one to have his head chopped off? Because he was standing behind Snake. The reason he survived within the top 5? Because he’s freaking flying and hiding. And just when he makes a speech last week and decides to fight, bam, his body gets cut in half. Duh. I don’t feel like I care anymore.

Maybe Dragon’s very purpose in the story comes afterward, when the now Zombie-Dragon again combines Zombie-Snake as an invincible team to battle Bull and Tiger. I honestly don’t get Bull’s plan part that suggest Tiger taking the ice tank because Bull could have done it himself without relying on the not-to-good-with-thinking Tiger. Anyways, I kinda enjoy the dynamic between Bull and Tiger. Believe it or not they’re quite similar when it comes to fighting style: all aggressive, lone-wolf, no strategy style (simply because they’re too strong and quick to even need a strategy). That is exactly why their style doesn’t work well against zombies, whose body parts keep risen again after getting chopped up. Fortunately, Tiger finally caught on with the plan and uses the ice tank from Dragon to finish those annoying zombies off.

I was curious to see how Juuni Taisen tackles this Rabbit episode, arguably the most mysterious, maddening character of this series. He is the only one who doesn’t have a prolife page in the Light Novel, implying that his backstory is a mysterious one. As it reveals, this week we have… Tiger’s extended backstory instead on how she was a spirited fighter and then broken down due to the ugliness of war and thus turns her into the bloodthirsty beast who drunk on blood and booze and stop worrying about anything else. If there is a central message in Juuni Taisen: their world is harsh, grey-morally and mad and those who still keeps a bright, hopeful sentiment (like Monkey and in an extend, Chicken) will be the first to die. What I find amused about this particular backstory is how Tiger was raised in such a traditional dojo, something that when we saw her fighting stance in few previous back we wouldn’t have guessed correctly. Drinking away, stop thinking and worrying too much in a way free herself to all the commitments and her moral dilemma about the pointlessness of it all. She starts to lose sense of time, of the faces around her and her life seems to be an extended, endless day with more soldiers to kill and booze to drink.

Bull and Tiger meet the formidable Rabbit and to our surprise, they kill Rabbit at a single whoop. But consider Rabbit has fair amount of dirty tactics, I come to suspect that this is all his plan along. Anyone noticed he bites his tongue before getting chopped off? After all he’s a necromantic so it only makes sense that he could raise himself back from the death. In addition, he still has Monkey lurking around somewhere and her ability is simply too powerful. The production this week fares a bit better than the poor execution last week, although the obvious CG still stands out too much in a bad way. A lot of fight scenes this week, however, will somewhat compensate for the lack of any fighting in previous few weeks. So I expect next week will be a fair fight between the best-dynamic fighters to date, and then we will see how Rabbit comes back from the death to haunt those two. In a meantime, Rat just waits out for everyone killing themselves and then claim a victory lap by doing absolutely nothing.

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

Houseki’s just getting better and better huh? This episode is a knock-out, this series is truly a knock-out. It must be Houseki’s most devastating episode, leaving Phos, Antarc and Kongou-sensei the deep wound that won’t easily be healed. Let’s get to the main turn of event upfront: Antarc is taken away by the Moon people. This result, in a way, is a paid price for Phos getting their new arms. Just two episodes since their first appearance, Antarc has earned more than enough to become a reliable, yet surprisingly poignant and humane character and they’re undoubtedly one of my favorite characters in Houseki. Just two episodes since their first appearance, but the loss of Antarc feels profoundly impactful, not only with us viewers (since Antarc was the very first gem from our point of view to be taken by the Lunarians), but also with both Phos and Kongou-sensei, the only two beings who share a deep connection with Antarc. But boy, the Iced Gem does put up a good fight. In a way, it’s more like Antarc is unlucky when they encounter a string of bad luck all by their own: Phos’s in the situation where they can’t help (another instance where Phos being useless when it counts the most), the sky is unexpectedly clear, Kongou-sensei being hold up and most of all, the Lunarians attack them TWICE. They’re a persistent bunch, to put it very mildly.

But Antarc’s character strength shines through all over this episode with many, many great character moments. From the very early on, where we can clearly see their frustration towards Phos’ losing the forearms. Diving deep into the sea of ice, risking their own safety and nearly losing their hand, all we can hear was “they’re gone”. It’s more like the far cry from Antarc that they blame the loss of Phos’ forearms as their own lack of teamwork experience. Or their furious later on when they wanted to take their hand back because they don’t want to lose any memories with the sensei. Or even later when they literally breaking apart, they do their best to take care of Phos and tells Phos to take care of sensei and carry on the winter job in their place. Antarc sure will be missed; an unsung hero who exits the field almost too soon, leaves a big impact to those remaining players, especially Phos.

Like how we expected last week (and frankly this was the only plot development that comes as expected, the rest is fairly unpredictable), Phos’ getting a new pair of hands and they’re much stronger, albeit much harder to control, than Phos’ previous arms. This is a true “body-horror” element if you ask me, unfamiliar limbs attached to the host and then grow accustomed and spread all over the body and go out of control. At first, these golden arms take completely out of hands, building themselves up into the golden jelly, then golden solid cage which completely “swallow Phos whole”. However, with the devastating feeling of watching Antarc broken apart, then being taken away by the Lunarians, Phos goes pass their own limits to control those freak arms and manage to make them a useful, powerful weapon. This is the first time, however, that we witness the desperation in the eyes of Phos. The laid-back, why-so-serious character becomes angry, distraught, and later, deeply disappointed about themselves that they can’t do anything to bring their friend back. Big part of why Phos is still very likable despite their seemingly-annoying attitude lies in the dynamic voice acting work from Tomoyo Kurosawa, who did a marvellous job voicing Kumiko in Sound Eupho last year. In an interview, the staff comment that they build Phos’s body acting based mostly on the nuance of Miss Kurosawa’s voice (which is not a common practice by all mean since usually the voicing session comes much later in the production phase), and here we can see the easy dynamic from Phos that made them click like a stick.

Houseki again drops another crucial setting: A Chord Shore where supposedly all the Gems are born in, and for my money, where it all begins. We get the see the brief part of an incomplete crystal who washed up, drop into the ground and become nothing. Only in rare occasions, the complete Gems are born, and they were taken immediately into the swings of Kongou-sensei, who teach them about the world and assign them to their jobs. All I’m getting at is that Kongou-sensei definitely controls their income of knowledge and he obviously hides something underneath the surface. Even Yellow Diamond, the oldest gem, admits that they already forget the reasons they fight the Lunarians. All other gems don’t know either the reasons they fight except that they were told to fight. I guess the main reason here has to do with Kongou-sensei, in the sense that those gems fight the Moon people to protect himself from the Lunarians. Just looking at the way the Lunarians “ambush” the Monk: for me their actions all hint towards to “worshipping” Kongou-sensei, and I suspect that they gather the Gems in order to make the best material to submit him. But what intrigue in the settings doesn’t lessen the fact that Houseki has delivered some of its most emotional-wrenching moments to date. I have a strong feeling that Houseki keeps building itself up to an epic drive, both in terms of emotion, as well as its narrative scope.

Posted on 28 November 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Kino’s Journey -The Beautiful World-

This episode almost seems like a compromise formed from the complaints I had last episode. Namely because the first half of the episode was what I look for in Kino and the second half was the most pointless fluff to grace the series to date. So let’s deal with the first part first which was quite good. Not the best KIno has to offer but still pretty solid and this week’s episode deals with a modern like country and it’s problem with radio waves. Kino is once again out of the protagonist seat and instead we have Riko, Shizu and Ti. Funny enough these three are not traveling for fun like Kino is and are instead looking for a country which they can settle down in. Considering their current role as secondary protagonists, I am guessing that plan won’t go so well. Sure enough the three find out that the relatively normal country has a problem with people going crazy every few years and committing horrible criminal acts. The reason behind this appears to be machines implanted in all the citizens brains from a time when they were slaves and a radio tower which sends out bad radio waves that cause people to commit horrible crimes. However it turns out that the radio tower is broken down and has not been operational in a very long time.

Therefore the horrible crime that happened in this episode where a teacher massacred his classroom of students, was in fact an act that he committed by his own will. Shizu once again shoots himself in the foot here by confirming this to the people, only to have them call him a liar and decide that he is now under control of the radio waves, despite how ridiculous that notion sounds. Again the characters in this episode don’t really act realistically and if you try you can certainly poke some holes into the setup. For example it’s fairly unrealistic that no traveler was sent out to investigate the radio tower before Shizu despite them living with it so long. But again, that’s not the point. The point here is the meaning behind the story and in this case I believe it’s people’s tendency to try to rationalize the illogical. It reminds me of conspiracy theory in a way as people, instead of accepting a simple truth, attempt to find some kind of underlying evil to blame. For example, there is a popular theory on the Jack the Ripper murders being a series of assassinations to cover up a secret marriage in royal family and orchestrated by a secret organization known as the freemasons. This theory is off course, ridiculous and falls apart when placed under closer scrutiny. However this theory is a far more comforting thought in that the murders had meaning and that these women at least died for a reason, as evil though it may be. This is at least a work of logic and easier to accept that over the far more terrifying truth. That a psychopath came to London and killed five women for absolutely no reason. For isn’t it far more reasonable if the devil or aliens made people do such horrible things? Surely ordinary people could not willingly commit such monstrous acts without remorse? No, of course it wasn’t their fault, it’s all because of the video games/corporations/government/satan/society/parenting/god or whatever you care to name.

So in this country they would prefer to believe that a giant evil radio tower was forcing innocent people to commit horrible crimes than accept that these crimes were of the people’s own choice. Unfortunately this belief is likely the reason for the high crime rate in the first place as the authorities do not punish those who commit these crimes and simply isolate them for a time before releasing them back into society. It’s up for debate whether there is anything to this radio story, it doesn’t make sense on a fundamental level but the criminal who killed that classroom did seem like he was behaving erratically as though there was a supernatural force at play. I somewhat wonder if this thing is thing is more of a subconscious suggestion and people just forsake any moral control because they are under the impression that they are being controlled. I could be possible that when Shizu lied about their being another radio tower to the man that just the very idea of it would be enough to push that man to become a criminal. All in all I do like this story though the payoff was a bit expected. But then there is the second half of the episode where we follow a day in the life of our resident grenade loli.

Let me preface this by stating that I like Ti. I like the dynamic of her looking emotionless while being prone to emotional outbursts, while Riko is a dog that looks happy go lucky when in reality he’s much more serious and Shizu is Kirito isekai-ed into Kino’s world to get karmically kicked in the nuts for all the crap he pulled in SAO. Ti wants the same thing that Riko and Shizu want but has an underlying desperation to her. To her, these two are her last chance for happiness and if anything whatsoever comes to threaten that then she will resort to any means necessary to protect it. I do really like that, she’s like an emotional time bomb who you never know when or how she will be set off. Her fascination with as well as endless supply of grenades only making her all the more dangerous. In a two cour series I won’t mind having half an episode to just show Riku and Ti bonding but as far as I know this is one cour and time is precious. So why is this prioritized over more important stories? You can’t tell me there were no stories to fit a half an episode timeslot. I mean it’s cute and all, almost makes me forget this girl was threatening to kill a baby just ten minutes prior, but don’t we have more important things to get to? As far as I know we have four episodes left and while I enjoyed my time with Kino I still feel like there is a well of untapped potential that it is failing to draw from. I hate to use the word disappointing as I feel this show doesn’t deserve the label but once again I feel that frustration I felt with Little Witch Academia, where in a good show could have been great if things just went a little differently.

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

As disappointing as it is to admit, Inuyashiki has broken its hot streak. This week, thought it has both highs and lows, was on average a let down. From heel-turns to a blistering pace, there is a good deal to cover, so let’s jump in.

While the show is named Inuyashiki, we have seen far more of Hiro than of the titular main character. This episode, we finally see Hiro own up to what he is. He admits to Shiro he is the killer, opens up about being a robot. It feels like some progress is about to be made for him. Then in a ridiculous heel-turn, Hiro decides to heal people to make up for all his murder. On one hand, I like their exploration of “the good outweighs the bad”. It’s a worthy concept to look at. Yet on the other, it’s so sudden and comes after a veritable murder spree, because a girl he doesn’t care about asked him to. Its like he is latching on to anything to make him feel human.

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Posted on 26 November 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Girls' Last Tour

Girls’ Last Tour again addresses many things about the meaning of life through its very minimalist method. This week, the girls encounter massive filing cabinets that remind me a great deal to the terrific Terry Gilliam’s visual style. Most of them are secured, but in the only few that are opened, there are only useless items: a dysfunctional radio, a button, a piece of cloth, an empty shell. The girls have no idea what those objects even mean, until they encounter the stone statue that it hits them. These items serve as a remnant, a memory to those who passed away. Here, the idea of memories is discussed and admittedly the one that I am sometimes wondering myself: when we get to the end of our lives, isn’t our existence defined by the memories of people we meet in our lives, and those people will be soon gone as well? Memories can be easily fade away, with the faces and the even the names you no longer recall. Our mere existence is goddamn futile. In this episode, Yuu already has a difficult time remembering Kanazawa and Ishii, despite just met them few episodes ago (and in the world where they hardly meet another human being, it does strain some credulity here. But we’re talking about Yuu after all, so it could happen), but she does remember Kanazawa through his camera, an item he gave to the girls as a parting gift. As long as the camera is there, the girls will remember him, just like the various unusable objects in that filing cabinets.

Then our girls head their ways ascending to the upper level. The way the girls spiralling around and around is a great metaphor for their lives, and pretty much our lives, are structured in the same model. We keep doing our daily routines in circle, in an endless loop that finally lead up to the final destination – our death. Well, Girls’ Last Tour isn’t that kind of bleak, pessimistic show so we also have Chi-chan getting dizzy with her cute dizzying expression and they escape death by the touch of hair trying to get across the unstable track (and effectively destroyed their track as well, I feel sorry for the next guy who go upon this path). Once they reach the next level, the new ruined landscape looks more organized, and less tumbledown than previous lower levels, with the sight of full moon to boost. They discover a golden liquid named “Beeu”, drinking them and dancing under the moonlight. Drunken Chi-chan might be the best version of Chi-chan ever. Moreover, the girls always have that close physical relationship with each other, the way they feel utterly comfortable lingering beside each other, and that quality again shines brightly under the spell of the moonlight and alcohol. I love the way Chi-chan breaks her character, to be even more expressive and active than Yuu. Just look at the girls enjoying those little happy moments despite the vast emptiness of the world around, whatever the end of this last tour might be (I’m starting to think we might have a very sad, bleak ending here), I know that they won’t have much regrets whatsoever.

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

Before I launch into things here, allow me to express my apologies for the double episode review. 3-gatsu is the type of show that ought to receive weekly coverage, but I’ve been busier than usual during the past month. Among my list of preoccupations was a marathon of the 3-gatsu manga, which I couldn’t stop myself from reading once the bullying arc began. Before I knew it, I was caught up, and the agonizing year-long wait for new material had begun. How great is it that there are still fifteen episodes left this season to help tide me over? I can’t wait to watch each one, and hopefully blog about them not too long after they’ve aired. (For anyone wondering how the manga compares to the show, I’d say it manages to be even more emotional despite the limitations of its format – I can’t recommend it enough.)

For several episodes now, Rei has been thinking about what kind of help he can offer to Hinata during this difficult period. He has a plan to support her financially, should that become necessary, and he’s made himself a constant presence in her life, keeping the promise he made by the river in “Ladybug Bush (Part 2).” But now he’s approaching the problem as directly as he can, by asking her to describe her school life little by little. Rei even uses his connection with Hina’s schoolmate (and crush) Takahashi to provide her with an escape route during her unbearable lunch hour. Though Takahashi is certainly doing her a favor by springing her from that oppressive environment, he misses the mark in another way. As the two of them play catch, his hard throws cause Hinata to yelp in pain, but he denies that the pitches were fast enough to warrant that response. He can’t understand that stinging sensation because he doesn’t share her perspective, the same way that those who minimize the negative effects of bullying don’t realize how damaging it is. Maybe I’m reading too far into the scene, but it seems like the show is presenting this solution to Hina’s isolation as a temporary, imperfect one.

Of course, Takahashi does more to help than just injuring Hinata’s glove hand. He remembers Chiho, who once gave him half of her lunch during a school trip, which gives Hina an opportunity to talk about her. He also invites Takagi (the head bully) and her friends to play catch, only to intimidate them by using his full strength, sending a clear message that his friends aren’t to be messed with. But his involvement in their class backfires when the jealous Takagi (or one of her flunkies) scrawls an insulting message on the chalkboard, and their teacher sidesteps the issue by calling Hinata “uncooperative.” The look on her face at the end of “Letter” closely resembled one of Kyouko’s bitter facial expressions, which is a scary parallel to consider. Hina describes the anger she feels in the episode’s most striking segment, which featured violent colors splashed on a dark background, closely matching her desire to beat the bullies in her class to a pulp. Despite her bottled-up rage, though, the conclusion to this scene was more sad than anything else, as we learn that Chiho is now at a rehab center, having failed to attend her new school. For all that Hina has had to endure, she’s proven to be resilient, but the same treatment was enough to break her sweet friend.

Even Akari is a victim of this awful situation, facing feelings of inadequacy as a mother to her younger sisters, and dreading the inevitable parent-teacher conference that will be arranged if Hinata continues to keep her chin up. Though Rei managed to find the perfect words to reassure her several weeks ago, he’s so moved by her plight here that he loudly proclaims his support for her before God and several dog walkers. Akari charmingly accepts, which apparently causes the younger boy’s heart to thump, but it isn’t just his heart that responds; as Rei rides the train to his next shogi match, he recalls that seeing Akari smile against the sunset like that caused a bolt of desire to shoot through him. This poses a sizeable predicament for him, since he already cares very strongly for her younger sister, though not in an overtly romantic sense. It’s hardly a surprise that Rei would feel something for Akari – not only has she showered him with attention and care since they met, but she’s a beautiful woman with a highly desirable body. The natural way that this attraction was introduced came as a relief, since there are plenty of other series that would linger on the subject for too long. We’ll see how willing the show will be to explore it as the season progresses.

Rei is forced to shut down that line of thinking before his match with Hachiya, AKA the Irritated Prince of the East. All of his ticks, from tongue clicking to fast, aggressive play, really pulled me in during their showdown. 3-gatsu is generally good at making shogi interesting for those of us without any knowledge of the game, but it slipped a bit during the back half of its first season. For me, this was a return to form, but the most interesting thing about Rei and Hachiya’s match came after its conclusion, when Yanagihara and Smith declared them to be totally alike. Like Rei, I didn’t agree with that assessment one bit – at least, not at first. During their match, Rei assumes Hachi to be totally self-absorbed, because he doesn’t think about how his noise-making affects his opponents. But despite Rei’s willingness to consider the needs of others, especially in this arc, he does have a tendency to focus inwards, likely because of the isolation he experienced at school and in his second home. This intense introspection can make him blind to the feelings of others, especially Nikaidou, whose friendship he often takes for granted. There will be an even better example of this limited perspective in a few episodes, though, so I’ll put a pin in this theory until then.

Posted on 23 November 2017 with categories: Ballroom e Youkoso, Finished Series: Sports

It seems that the closer Ballroom e Youkoso gets to the end of its run, the further it moves from my strike zone. The series’ wide-ranging cast is its greatest asset, so you’d think that an extended flashback exploring Akira and Chinatsu’s shared past would be a slam dunk, but these episodes left me cold. There are too many hurdles for the show to overcome, between a lack of expressive motion, inconsistent portrayals of skill and compatibility, superfluous dialogue, and poor scene transitions. Assuming I continue doing double-episode posts, I’ve only got two more to go, but I’m dreading the final review that lies beyond them. Takeuchi Tomo, the original creator, has given us the heads-up that the Ballroom anime may receive an original ending due to delays in the manga’s release schedule, which only adds to my apprehension. Then again, the show has been pretty faithful to its source and still ended up in this rut, so maybe some fresh material is just what it needs.

There was a minor controversy surrounding Ballroom’s 41st chapter (from which “Rival” draws) a while back. When it was first published in Monthly Shounen Magazine, it contained a page where Akira thought to herself, “What I love is something else.” She expresses a similar thought in this episode (though Amazon’s subs use “like” instead of “love”), a reference to her affection for Chinatsu, rather than the sport that binds them. However, when chapter 41 was included in a compiled volume of the Ballroom manga, that text was removed, probably because it suggests a same-sex attraction on Akira’s part. Coming into this episode, I was curious which way the show would lean, and to my pleasant surprise, they included the line. In fact, this episode was heavy with lesbian subtext, from Akira’s descriptions of heart-pounding excitement at being around Chinatsu, to her “embarrassment” at studying the nape of her neck, to her jealousy at the thought of anyone else teaming up with Chinatsu.

Now we know that Akira is gay (or at least bisexual), and that her attraction to her former partner has shaped their relationship coming into adolescence. We even delve into her psyche a bit, as she manipulates Chinatsu into dancing the boy’s part because she prefers her in a “male” role, and labels her feelings as “wretched.” Despite its success in telling their story, however, Ballroom fails to connect it to the larger picture of the current arc. Akira dances to be close to Chinatsu, not because of a particular love for competition; Tatara’s current goal is to become a better competitor by understanding what it means to lead. Those ideas don’t have much to do with one another, although you could argue that the show has lost sight of Tatara’s arc, as well. The show is constantly giving us mixed messages about both him and Chinatsu. Take Mine-san’s evaluation of the pair, for example: “They have childish faces, but their childishness has disappeared.” Hello?! How does this explain Chinatsu’s relentless mocking of Akira in this episode (which kind of undercut the emotional aspect of their backstory), or Tatara’s exasperating timidity?

That brings me to my next point, about the lack of consistency surrounding the show’s treatment of the Tatara/Chinatsu partnership. Just a couple weeks ago they were in the zone, flying through the early rounds of the competition, and using their clashing personalities to push each other to new heights. We even got that scene where Chinatsu was viscerally influenced by Tatara’s movement, so much so that it threatened to overtake her. Then we get to these episodes, and the entire peanut gallery is shit-talking them, Chinatsu is acting totally aloof, and they’re literally stepping on each other’s feet. Then we move to the slapstick second half of “Friend,” which features a scene where Hyodo sits on Tatara’s back and “separates his muscles” over his anguished cries, while Chinatsu and Akira nonchalantly eat bananas in the foreground… I’m cool with anime moving rapidly between different styles and tones, but only if they establish that versatility as a part of their DNA, and Ballroom has never been as wacky or felt as conflicted as it was here. The majority of this doubleheader’s appeal was lost on me, but hey, there’s only four episodes to go.

Posted on 22 November 2017 with categories: Currently Watching:, Juuni Taisen

Can’t say I am fond of a huge flashback where they advance almost nothing to the plot, let alone an extended flashback-within-a-flashback. It hurts as well as the production takes quite a disastrous turn this week, with many off-model and inconsistent animation. Haizz, I’d love to be proven wrong but so far Juuni Taisen has done nothing to impress me at all. The entirety of this episode focuses on the twin’s motive through a case, where each of them assigned to two opposing parties and in the end, they are the ones who take the whole cake. If there is one positive note I’d give about the flashback (there isn’t many), it’s that Juuni Taisen keeps twisting the notion of what kind of warriors/ heroes Snake and Dragon are. First, they implied that the twins doing all the killing for money, which at first sight seems kinda appropriate with their mottos, well… “Killing for Money”. But later on, the show hints that they share their stolen money for the poor, Robin Hood style, most notably through the story of two little brothers. In the end though, it’s clear that they’re doing the way the do is simply because it’s fun and excitement

The twins rather work as one unity team this week so it’s hard to look further on their bond except that now we know why Dragon shares no remorse towards the death of his twin brother, because they don’t see the value in the concept of mourning. Heck, it’s hard for me to even pinpoint if they truly love someone beyond their own because they seriously lack empathy. Dragon points out during the court that their moral sense is vastly different from normal people, thus applying normal people’s judgement into their case isn’t really appropriate. I am honestly not sure how he can get away with that argument, although it’s clear that he did and in the end, every bad deed they had done is nothing more than amusing themselves and makes their lives more fun.

Back to the main event, Bull and Tiger narrowly escape death. Like what I guessed last week it’s the burning that kill those zombies for good (or if you have crows by your side), and both Bull and Tiger are determining to finish Zombie Snake once and for all before having their own match, but Dragon has different plan. At this point, I feel the plot has padded out too thin, both doesn’t do much to advance the plot, and the backstory doesn’t catch much of my interest either. Add that to the poor quality of production that feel like they could break apart at any moment, and we have Juuni Taisen at its lowest point. Still think they have something up their sleeves for the final round but I won’t hold my breath after disappointment after disappointment.

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

Ho boy, I know Houseki’s world-building is unique but the idea of gems’ hibernation in winter due to the lack of sunlight? What a creative idea it is. This winter landscape makes a nice contrast to the lively green field of grass we’ve encountered in previous episodes. The new world that feels both empty, vast and alien. Like how the color fillers in Houseki adjust depending on which Gems taking a spotlight, this white icy winter represents the new centre character this week: Antarctictite. A lone-wolf germ by design more than by choice, while the other gems fall asleep during winter, Antarc hardens their solid form and carries on the duty to protect the sleeping gems along with Kongou-sensei. Antarc might become one of my favorite Jewel people out of just this episode, the way they’re attentive to their duty, carry out many lines of job, from chopping down ice foes, clearing the icy paths, to more bizarre jobs like babysit and protect the other gems (putting the blanket onto them and they will fall back asleep, what a quirk!) and even Kongou-sensei himself. I also like the way Antarc behaves towards our Phos: wary at first, but once they hear the frustrating of Phos, Antarc assists Phos to all their ability.

The two prominent themes of Houseki so far has again developed greatly in this episode. First is the struggling for their own roles in the eyes of Phos and Cinnabar and second is the theme of transformation. Phos feels utterly frustrated because they couldn’t do anything to help their partners, yet receives almost no trouble from their peers, as if the other gems have no expectation whatsoever toward Phos. That moment and the one earlier when Phos just runs and meets Cinnabar in their night patrol, unable to talk to Cinnabar ring hollowly true. These might be gems, but they feel more humane than most characters I have encountered this season. Secondly, after having their legs repaired (and for the better), this episode suggests the idea of Phos need to repair their hands (and that might be for the better as well), the hands from supposedly the Lunarians to begin with. And that exactly what happened in the end. Phos’s stumbling into the icy pool; and lost both of their forearms. This leads to two interesting implications. First, it’s pretty much intended that this story is the journey of Phos who transform by replacing parts of their body to make them stronger. First the limbs, and I suspect the next one would be their body and their head and what I found the most interesting is the desire of Phos to cut off their limbs. If so, what happened to Phos’ own memory? When they lose their own gems their memory is fade away as well, will Phos remain as Phos as they attach the new materials into their body? Moreover, what happened if the remains of Phos’ fragments joined into the new whole body? Will that be Phos as well and carry the same personality with this current Phos? Man, this is going to be intriguing.

And of course I can’t pass this review without mentioning the most important new character in this episode: the ice floes. What exactly are they? They share the same appearance with the Lunarians, have a harrowing voice and sometimes whispers uncharacterised words, except that Phos clearly understands what they said. Kongou-sensei regards them as “sinners”, which sound eerily similar to the human race, but consider that it’s Christian, not necessary Buddhism, context that regards human as such, my guess is that the ice floes don’t represent the human race. More like they are an incomplete state of the Lunarians, which we all know is representing the “Soul”. The ice floes call out for Phos, but it might be that Phos’ current state of mind who do the talking, since they have a knowledge of Cinnabar, whose Phos’ desire the most to help out. Until next episode should we know more about Phos’ new forearms and what those ice floes really are, but this episode might be the best episode of Houseki so far: striking landscape with memorable new characters and the world-building that both deeper, more fascinating but strangely beautiful at the same time. Houseki is building up to be one of my favorite anime this year has to offer.

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