Posted on 29 September 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Finished Series: Action, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

Every Anime season we the viewers are shown a number of adaptations, often made after Light or Visual Novels. It’s an already written story with an established base, a smart business decision. In recent years studios have also begun pulling from the Video Game market for their shows. Pieces like the Idolmaster series, Kantai Collection and Akibas Trip. I bring this up not because this is a new event, but because the anime I want to talk about today, Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu, is one such anime.

Ranbu is based off of the online video game Touken Ranbu, along the same lines as Kantai Collection. It focuses on a group of warriors who are the human personification of famous weapons, sent back in time. Their task? To protect history from the forces of the Time Retrograde Army, who seek to change history for an unknown reason. Ranbu focuses in on the 2nd Unit, newly minted and formed from a group who have never worked together before. Together they will face the hordes of the Retrograde Army and defend the past from the future!

Let’s jump in.

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Posted on 25 September 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

Welcome to the final week of Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu, where the plot is rushed and the art is at its best. Lets jump in.

Ranbu opens this week with the title card, skipping the OP. Looks like they want all the time they can get. Picking up where they left off, Ranbu has Horikawa go and get the young Tetsunoske at Hijikata’s request. Reenacting the flashback we saw in earlier episodes, Hijikata tasks him to take his sword back to his family. During this, Horikawa walks out and meets Kane in an empty part of the fort. The direction here is good, with shots mostly showing them together but with objects such as a cannon between them. The two talk for awhile and we learn that for the past 3 years Horikawa has been fighting the Retrograde while working for Hijikata. During that time, apparently he still has not made a decision about whether or not to save Hijikata. Had their breakup lasted longer than an hour for Kane, it would almost be touching.

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Posted on 18 September 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

Welcome to the penultimate episode of Ranbu! Unable to end with a small, personal story, Ranbu prepares for the largest battle yet! Lets jump in.

Ranbu opens up right were last week left off. Kane’s sword falling, to strike Horikawa. Instead, it cuts into the dirt at his feet, moved aside at the final moments. I mentioned last week that I would be disappointed if this ended with Horikawa surviving. If some magical power of friendship caused him to return to the Citadel. However, I failed to consider another option, where it was Kane who faltered. Unable to kill his partner, he fails his duty and lets Horikawa walk away, and I can accept that. For Horikawa to survive, one of the two had to fail/betray their beliefs. Horikawa would have had to leave Hijikata to his fate and Kane had to let a clear threat to history leave unchallenged. All in all, a good way to open the episode.

With the arrival of their Master Saniwa however, everything starts to go down hill. Saniwa teleports in right next to them and starts one of the dullest scenes in the series. In this scene, Kane and Mutsunokami explain what has happened and Saniwa simply… accepts it. He says, why not do both? Why not protect the innocents and history, as if it was that simple. Does this mean he just didn’t care before? The only thing I gathered from this conversation is what I suspected weeks ago. That Saniwa has no personality and is purely a springboard for plot/explanation.

As it is, that is exactly what Saniwa does. After their chat he teleports them to the battle of Hakodate, 3 years in the future-past. This isn’t made clear however, as they simply teleport and the battle is suddenly underway, without any indication that time had passed. What this means however is that Horikawa has been here, waiting for time to pass normally, for 3 years. Whether or not this has had an effect on him, I cant wait to see. This also means though that Tonbokiri, Tsurumaru and Yagen were left to watch-over Ryoma, so our 2nd Unit must fight without them.

After a quick explanation of what is going at the Battle of Hakodate, Saniwa deduces that the Retrograde will no doubt be here. As he finishes, supposedly 50 Retrograde solders are teleporting in, causing Mutsunokami to question if they are trying to change the course of the whole battle. I doubt 50 soldiers could accomplish that in a battle of thousands, but we will leave that alone for now. Kane and Mutsunokami quickly cut down some stragglers before meeting the full force. Knowing they cant do it alone however, Saniwa summons in some reinforcements. In a pretty, sakura flower effect, the 1st Unit arrive and they make short work of the group of 50.

During this whole segment, the character moments aren’t worth mentioning, but the combat itself is quite good. We get a number of quick blade exchanges with actual choreography. Clearly they were saving it all for this grand finale, as we soon learn that the Retrograde are sending in a staggering 1000 soldiers. What confuses me about this, is that the Retrograde has never done this before. Do they have limitless soldiers? If so, why not over run any other time period instead of sending groups of 10-20? This inconsistency in tactics and numbers makes this whole event feel like the typical Shounen bump in the stakes of the fight. Like most, Ranbu fails to realize that the best Shounen arcs tend to be those with the more personal stakes. The ones that don’t require ridiculously strong or large number of enemies. But I am getting sidetracked here.

After leaving the First Unit, Kane splits up with Mutsunokami so that he can track down Horikawa. He runs through the fields towards the Shinsengumi encampment and manages to sneak inside. Curious what their guard situation is like for him to do this, but once again we will ignore it. Kane arrives at Hijikata’s personal room, the room we saw in the flashback. He examines the map with the armies laid out, the sword that both sits on the desk and at his waist. While doing so, Kane hears a voice and footsteps approaching. He quickly hides out of sight, seeing Hijikata enter the room. No doubt this is the scene we saw before, where Hijikata gives the sword to the young man, to return to his family.

However, instead of the young entering the room, its Horikawa! During his 3 years stuck in this time, it would appear that Horikawa has taken the young soldiers place. Its  clever reveal, as I had not considered Horikawa taking his place, yet when the flashback was first showed I thought they looked similar. Now the only question is, what is Horikawa’s endgame? Does he plan to return to the battlefield, giving Hijikata the sword, so that Kane can participate in the battle? Will he try to kidnap Hijikata and remove him from the field? Perhaps he spent the last 3 years attempting to talk to him, get him to change his mind. What about the ridiculous, 1000 Retrograde soldiers?

Regardless, it all comes to a head in next weeks final episode of Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu. Talk to you then folks!

Posted on 11 September 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

This week in Ranbu, we are treated to a pleasant surprise. Not some great, flashy final combat arc but a continuation of the smaller character focused pieces. Lets talk about it.

Ranbu opens up the episode by letting us know the consequences of what has happened last week. It appears that after his argument with Kane, Horikawa has disappeared! Clearly this is in relation to Ryoma, Mutsunokami’s master, and Hijikata, Kane and Horikawa’s master. This is a good choice of final arc, as it makes use of the last few character focused episodes and side-steps the need for a final villain. Its not often in a shounen anime like Ranbu that we get character focused finales. Assuming they stick with it, Ranbu is looking to close strong.

Unable to decide what to do about Horikawa, Kane gathers the team and informs them of his disappearance. Multiple ideas are thrown out, from Horikawa falling to the Retrograde, to maybe an attack on Ryoma to save Hijikata in the future. As it turns out, history has changed with Ryoma leaving the Satsuma residence early for some reason. Lucky stroke for him, as we will learn later. Eventually though the group splits up, 3 guarding Ryoma and 3 heading off to find Horikawa. It removes characters that we didn’t need, focusing in on Kane, Horikawa and Mutsunokami. Its good that we are getting time with the most developed of our leads.

Once away from the others, Mutsunokami decides to have a heart to heart with Kane. He states that Hijikata, even if he survived the battle he died in, wouldn’t have a good life. That Hijikata was a warrior, whose time was ending. That there can be no good life for Kane’s old master and he has a point. During this conversation we are shown a flashback of Hijikata before he died. He sends Kane, as a sword, away to his brother-in-law, turning Kane into a memento. This explains why Horikawa is much more focused on their old master, because he was with Hijikata until his death. Meanwhile Kane’s time with him ended when he got sent away. It does the job of reinforcing the difference in mindset between Kane and Horikawa, no doubt for the upcoming finale.

Their conversation is interrupted however when another fire breaks out, this time at the Satsuma residence, where Ryoma was staying. Its a very pretty sequence, though the sword fights are more flash than substance at this point. The fire, the collapsing buildings, everything is rendered beautifully. While standing amidst this inferno however, Kane is approached by non other than Horikawa, a child in his arms. Didnt think he would appear until next episode, but lets see where this goes.

Horikawa starts with some small talk, how he could only save a single child and how he knew Kane would be here. He uses that though to jump into his main shpeal. That were they really protecting history? All these people dead, the child in his arms barely alive, yet they protected history? Does nothing change, do these people even matter? So begins a long discussion of ideals and what it means to protect. Seeing it going nowhere, Horikawa finally poses the question, asking if Kane will join him in his quest to save Hijikata. Kane, loving his old master but being the loyal man he his, of course refuses, placing them at an impasse.

Its interesting to see the two bring their differing experiences with Hijikata to bear. Each interpreted his actions differently and each was there for moments the other wasn’t. Yet at the end of the day, they are two different people. Now Horikawa must decide, will he fight Kane and escape, or submit and forgo his desire to save Hijikata? Choosing a sort of in between, Horikawa cites how Hijikata used to ‘break’ his soldiers during punishment. Kane knows what he means, and clearly doesn’t like it, but knows something must be done. Horikawa approaches, asking one last time if Kane will join him. In silent response, as Mutsunokami runs to try and stop him, the blade falls and we cut to the ED.

All in all, a pretty good episode. For those that like action they got some quick Retrograde fights and burning buildings. For those that prefer story and character writing, they got an interesting final arc, and everyone got to enjoy the art. So long as the final episode doesn’t negate everything that happened this week, Ranbu can finish the season strong. However if Horikawa comes out of this unscathed and with no repercussions, there will be a reckoning.

See you next week for the exciting conclusion of Ranbu!

Posted on 4 September 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

This week Ranbu treats us to another character focused episode, with quiet moments but little lasting material. Lets jump in.

Ranbu starts the episode off right where the last episode ended. The sun is rising and our party has just said goodbye to Ryoma. Very quickly we see who the focus this week is, as Horikawa begins to question some of their orders. Turns out, meeting Mutsunokami’s old master has raised some flags for him. He tries to work this out by talking to Mutsunokami, but he doesnt have any good answers for Horikawa. It looks like he might have to talk to the Commander about this, but as it turns out they cant leave just yet. They must stay in this time, for an as of yet undisclosed reason. As a fire that never occurred in history breaks out, we cut to the OP.

Returning from the OP, it looks like quite alot is happening. People are dieing and fires are starting that never should have. History is off. Apparently, some Retrograde are laying low after the last mission, still intent on capturing Ryoma. Kane quickly decides that watching over Ryoma should be their first priority. During this time, Horikawa continues to ask questions. If Ryoma is successful, will that not harm their old master Hijikata, of the Shinsengumi? Are they working against their old master? Kane, as the captain, is alot more stoic about this, but I would wager hes simply trying not to think about it.

As it turns out, Kane and Horikawa’s old master Hijikata is also in this city. All this does is rile Horikawa up, as he argues against why he cant meet Hijikata. Its rather ham fisted at times, but its a contast to last episode with Mutsunokami. During this, Ryoma slipped out of the Satsuma residence to go look at plum trees. Can you guess whats going to happen? Hijikata also happens to be in that area, and this turns into a game of keep away, even if neither side really knows it. While watching over Ryoma however, Horikawa begins to have some pretty dark thoughts. If he killed Ryoma, would it not make his old masters life better? Does he still have a duty to Hijikata?

Its an interesting line to go down, but simply knowing Horikawa’s character weakened it. Ranbu hasn’t done anything daring yet. Its played everything safe. That’s fine, shows can do that and still be good. It just makes them predictable. Which is why Horikawa doing nothing here came as no surprise. Continuing on, after this internal debate, the Retrograde attack! Everyone in the park hears the tree fall setting everyone into motion. Ryoma is sent away and once again Tonbokiri decides it’s smart to stand alone. The man needs to learn to work with a team.

While Tonbokiri is off fighting Retrograde, Kane and Horikawa are running after Ryoma. In the best scene of the episode though, Hijikata passes right in from of Kane, running towards the sound of combat. It happened fast, and to Kane who had been fighting against seeing Hijikata this entire time. For a moment he shuts down, before we see Kane is crying. He was afraid of what his reaction would be seeing Hijikata again, yet this short glimpse was enough for him. He steels himself to preserve the future that he knows will lead to a horrible life for his former master. Because that is his duty.

After this moment of resolution, another Ootachi appears. As if to demonstrate their growth, internal and external, Mutsunokami and Kane manage to dispatch it quickly. Still weaker than the 1st Unit, but better than their last attempt. There’s a quick ending scene with Kane and Horikawa, talking about their former master afterwords. This scene, along with the ‘non-interference’ speeches earlier, would all have hit harder had they not already been undercut by the first episode. Remember back when Kane saved that girl from a fire in Episode 1, completely ignoring the non-interference rule? As I said it would, it’s undercut all of their future scenes on the topic. We have already been shown its a non-issue. But I digress.

Ranbu only has 2 episodes left. In this remaining time, they must establish a final arc and some sort of satisfying conclusion. I don’t see how they can do it. There’s no main villain, there is nothing really at stake and the Retrograde are faceless antagonists. As it is, I am expecting a flashy final fight with a hollow plot behind it. I would love to be proven wrong but I don’t think I will be.

As always though, we will find out next week. See you then!

Posted on 28 August 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

This week Ranbu gives us a character-focused episode, in a self contained little story. Good, but with its problems. Lets jump in!

Ranbu starts off with the 2nd Unit teleporting in to Kyoto in style, falling from the sky as swords. The mission this time? To protect Sakamoto Ryoma during the Taradaya Incident, where he was almost caught. No doubt, the Retrograde Army plan for him to be captured, ruining his plan to bring down the Tokugawa Shogunate. As it turns out, Ryoma was Mutsunokami’s former master! Clearly, Mutsunokami is the focus of Ranbu this week.

Because of his association with Ryoma, Mutsunokami knows all about the incident and how to plan around it. This puts our 2nd Unit on even ground with the Retrograde Army, as now they know that path to defend. Strangely however, Mutsunokami wants little to do with Ryoma. He wants to avoid meeting him again, perhaps because he fears how he would act? Or maybe what he would say, affecting the future? Regardless its an interesting character point. Soon after they lay out their plan, night comes and everything starts.

Police surround the inn where Ryoma is staying, setting off the Taraday Incident. Ryoma and his guard flee, with the 2nd Unit taking out the Retrograde Army as they appear. Shockingly competent, the 2nd Unit takes care of everything quickly and quietly. However it wouldn’t be an episode with the 2nd Unit if nothing went wrong. A Retrograde slips past and attacks Ryoma, doing who knows what. We next cut to Mutsunokami fighting some simply Retrograde, before turning a corner and seeing a terrible sight.

In a very nice scene, we see Ryoma fleeing from a horde of police, alone and unable to fight. Lights behind him, as he trips and falls to the dirt, Mutsunokami debating whether or not to jump in. After a short speech from Ryoma, he does just that. Running into the fray, defeating the police and saving Ryoma. They flee together, slowly opening up, Mutsunokami fixing his hands and protecting him. During some of their scenes together you can see how alike they are and how Ryoma influenced Mutsunokami. When Mutsunokami finally talks, Ryoma even remarks on their similar accents. After these bonding scenes, Ryoma is lead back to the Satsuma Clan house, only to run into one final group of Retrograde.

In this final segment, we get some pretty scenes and a quick fight. Little occurs here story wise, but Mutsunokami has quick but well done fight in an alley way. With the fight over, Ryoma is turned over to the Satsuma clan, and the mission is over. All in all, an above average episode, but with the lack of a final arc I am concerned how Ranbu is planning to end the season. I am not sure what sort of final mission would be satisfying to end Ranbu when it had little overarching story.

Still, we have 3 episodes left, so the only thing to do is wait. See you next week for another episode of Ranbu!

 

Posted on 22 August 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

This was perhaps the best week yet for Ranbu. There are no flashy fights or new enemies, but there is a lot of characterization and quiet moments. Lets jump in.

Ranbu starts this week right after the 1st Units victory of the unnamed Retrograde soldier. Honebami does some fawning over the units strength, before being told there is one more job left to do. Surprisingly they don’t mean more combat, but rather a humanitarian effort. Having completed their mission, the 1st Unit wants to help those affected by it. So they go around and buy some food, to hold a little soup kitchen sort of event. This was very unexpected, but very welcome. Our first unit, even the large scary one, has a heart. Unhappy with simply protecting the future, they decided to also protect the people. It’s purely character focused and I love it. Continuing this trend, the 2nd Unit has some character scenes as well, but none as good I fear.

We cut back to the Citadel, where Saniwa and our resident fox discuss the previous mission of the 2nd Unit. Apparently, they protected history by the thinnest of margins. Saniwa, being the terrible employer he is however, states they did more than he expected. Truly? Then why give them this job? Though this is all ok, as Kane has some ‘quality’ that makes up for all this. Once again, Saniwa is a terrible employer. During this conversation another emergency occurs, meaning our 2nd Unit is going to get another arc. Kane better get ready, because he has a job to do!

Speaking of Kane, he is having some confidence issues. We transition to him sitting by a river, contemplating their last mission. Apparently he has the same doubts I did, which is good to know. He has his doubts as to how history could possibly be saved with that fire, with all those dead. Its good that this is a reoccurring issue, rather than one off with him. As he considers this, Horikawa approaches, and the two set off. One by one they gather the members of the 2nd Unit, Kane asking them if they will fight once more with him. One by one we see the effects this loss had on the 2nd Unit, eventually reaching Tonbokiri.

There is a small scene with Mutsunokami losing his mind about being asked last, which went on for too long, but that is a minor gripe. It broke up the solemn, quiet moment, with some poor comedy, but it ends on a sweet note. Mutsunokami leaves a gift of Daifuku for Tonbokiri, his favorite food. In a much more subtle scene of sweet comedy, Tonbokiri reveals the mountain of Daifuku everyone else had left for him. It’s a good welcome back to the best character of the squad.

With the sunshine and lollipops of the gang getting back together though, the warning from Saniwa’s scene comes out. The 2nd Unit is summoned, once more into the breach! They are being sent out on another mission, running into the 1st Unit on their way out. By the 1st Units estimation, they are now prepared, but we will have to see.

All in all, a good episode. Quiet, lots of character moments, and the opening of a new arc. Disappointed we still don’t have an antagonist but I doubt we will be getting one at this point. Ranbu appears to like its villain of the week story, so let’s roll with it. So long as these character scenes continue, between the pretty combat scenes, Ranbu can end on a high note. I’m looking forward to see if that is the case.

See you next week!

Posted on 15 August 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

Welcome back to another week of Ranbu. This week we have mystery, intrigue and a stupid amount of new characters. Lets jump into it.

Ranbu opens up the episode on a burning castle under siege, troops inside and a battle raging. We see a figure cut down in the smoke, only for his spirit to flow into an Oni mask on the wall. Cut to the OP. A good start, with the mask becoming our villain for the week and giving us some hints as to how the Retrograde army comes to be. Sadly this air of mystery quickly gives way to another action focused episode as the OP ends and we see our new group of heroes in action.

The first squad, who I will not name simply because I can only keep track of so many characters, are fighting the Retrograde army as they zap in. Already we see they are a step up from our old unit. They quickly tracked down the Retrograde Army to their point of entrance and are cutting them down with ease. Even an Ootachi goes down with one swing, even though our old unit had trouble with one. Its a good display of the power difference between the units. Next up we have some expository scenes, setting up the conflict and giving us some backstory to our characters.

As it turns out, most of them are from the same clan, Ashikaga. The first unit is, in some form or another, made up of great weapons from a renowned clan. Interspersed among the backstory and exposition, Ranbu shows us some scenes around town. Even though a war just ended, people are hiding in the town. We quickly learn a street slasher is going around, murdering people at night, and that many think it to be the deceased Shogun. The mystery element comes back in here for a bit, more so when we learn Mikazuki was wielded by the Shogun.

After our group eats their fill, they head out once more to the town. Scouting around town they find little, until Honebami is confronted by the Slasher. Turns out, the Oni mask turned into a spear wielding Retrograde Soldier. The Oni is made immediately threatening by being able to summon more Retrograde. We already know that a single Retrograde is no threat to the first unit, but what about a horde? After summoning more soldiers, the Oni quickly flees, motioning for Honebami to follow it. The Oni leads Honebami to a ruined site, the castle from Ranbu‘s opening scene.

Smarter than previous Retrograde, the Oni was leading our group into a trap! It summons a horde of Ootachis to deal with the first unit, oh what shall they do? Sadly, this isn’t even a challenge. Our new leads cut through this horde like butter, setting up the strength of the first unit. This fight goes on for a bit, with lots of individual flashes of style but little extended choreography. In particular I enjoyed Mikazuki’s attack displaying his crest. Its disappointing however, as the air of mystery has been completely dropped by this point. Ranbu has made it clear that flash is all it has at this point. Its pretty but the characters are shallow. It has lots of effects and paint, but no substance.

We never find out why the Shogun became a Retrograde soldier. There is no setup for a future arc. Every character aside from Mikazuki and Mitsunokami seem to have a single note. I want there to be more to Ranbu than just a pretty face, but the harder I look the more disappointed I am when I find nothing.

See you next folks, and lets be thankful we at least got the future fox food club.

Posted on 7 August 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

Snap, crackle, pop, Ranbu opens this week on a bolt of lightning! We ended last episode on a low point, our heroes defeated and being teleported out at the last second. They reappear on a platform, surrounded by smoldering coals, in what we later learn is the Citadel. The base of operations for our party. Lots going on here, and we will get to it, but lets focus in on our heroes.

The damage from their respective fights appears to have carried over, as both Kane and Tonbokiri are rushed into medical treatment. Its a strange medical treatment, as they magically pad paper on a wound and heal a sword, but its pretty to look at. An explanation would be nice, as we still have no idea as to how our heroes exist as both weapon and time-cop. I understand time is an issue in anime, it has to be used effectively, but I do think it would help flesh out the narrative and characters abit. The rest of the party not in critical condition however, have a much easier and light hearted time.

The comedy this episode really works, as we get some TSA style inspections, witty banter and a time traveling fox food club. It does a good job of filling space between scenes that, even if they don’t succeed, attempt to be dramatic. For example we learn that Tonbokiri is in a comatose state from his wounds, good consequences for their loss. This is undercut when he recovers consciousness later on in the episode. We hear that, as of 2205, the time our characters are based out of, history has not changed. Edo gets a full broadside during an important meeting, goes up in flames, and there are no changes? Didn’t our heroes fail? They completed their mission, history is preserved, so all things considered they won with minimal casualties! Its a disappointing resolution after a well done end of an arc, leaving Ranbu in an akward place.

Speaking of arcs, lets talk about the next one. Much of this episode was focused on Mikazuki, the man in blue and usual captain of the First Squad. Everything this episode, from the music to the lighting and camera angles, leads us to think this is not a good man. Found in the Commanders office alone, ominous music and shadows cast over his face, Mikazuki might be the villain we so desperatly need. Ranbu reinforced this feeling when the Commander states that the Retrograde army usually arnt this subtle, meaning these smart tactics are new. Its laid on so thick, I could almost believe Ranbu is throwing us a red herring. I dont think Ranbu is that clever however as even Mikazuki’s laugh sounds evil.

Continuing on, theres a nice bit of video-game fan service. There is a cafeteria scene with a crazy amount of unique character designs milling about in the background. No doubt they all appear in the game series, so I am sure fans appreciated that. Some of these characters even get names and speaking lines as we are introduced to Yagens brother. A mild mannered white haired boy, he resembles Yagen alot. Curious how a weapon has a brother, but ill roll with it. Numerous scenes occur, some quite frankly pointless scenes that scream “CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT” like an air horn. Its all rather ham fisted, but I suppose its better than nothing. There does have to be consequences for how last episode ended, with defeat and a sweeping orchestra. This week atleast ends on a much less dramatic note.

This week closes out on a flash of the First Squad, which Yagens brother has just been assigned to. Apparently there is a new crisis and they have been sent out! Most likely we will follow the First Squad on this mission for a few episodes as the Second squad recovers. With this squad mostly being comrpised of villainous looking people such as Mikazuki though, I am hoping Ranbu will treat us to some First vs Second squad conflict in the future.

Its not surprising we got a breather episode to setup the next arc, but for the most part Ranbu was empty this week. Scenes could have been shorter with the same content and Tonbokiri could have spent more time out of comission. All in all a little disappointing.

Heres hoping the First Squad makes it interesting again. See you next week!

 

Posted on 1 August 2017 with categories: Finished Series: Action, Katsugeki Touken Ranbu

A rather shallow episode of Ranbu this week, but not without its twists, both pleasant and disappointing.

Ranbu opens up the week on Tonbokiri and Horikawa on the bridge, most likely immediately after Kane and Mutsunokami left. Little happens here, some one sided conversation with posing, before we cut back to the boat. Here is where most of the meat is going to happen for this episode. We quickly learn the name of the white cloaked swordsman, Tsurumaru, and get to see him in action. Making full use of the 3D environments, we get some ambitious soaring camera angles around the ship. This lets us get a good view of Tsurumaru’s love for the fight, as we even see him egging the Retrograde troops on. This with his facial expressions make him seem like the unhinged member of the party. Its all rather well done.

During one of his taunts, Kane and Mutsunokami finally arrive on the boat, quickly putting an end to the fight. There’s some quick, meaningless, dialogue while the crew and the boat are dealt with. Then Mutsunokami gets to live his dream and pilot a boat! Alone. I am pretty sure this is more than a one person job, but hey, rule of cool right? During all this Tsurumaru finally lets Kane, and by extension us, know that the Retrograde army doesnt have to stop the meeting. Instead, they can just burn Edo to the ground! With a ghost ship full of Retrograde army zombies! Where did they get the 2nd ship? Doesn’t matter apparently, cause back we go to the bridge.

Here at the bridge we get the continuation of the fight against the Ootachi. There are some nice cuts with Tonbokiri, before the fight is interrupted by the palanquin of Katsu, one of the men from the oh so important meeting. One could almost think this was the plan, to intercept the pallanquine, but instead the Ootach goes berserk and flees into the night! A bit ridiculous since the Ootachi will attack the palanquin later on, but we will get to that. No instead the Ootachi jumps onto a tower and lights its sword on fire, Gondor calls for aid! Curious why he didn’t light it up in the fight, but it makes for a pretty reveal. Sadly there is little foreshadowing or build up to this little twist. Makes me think the Retrograde army are less, intelligent foes, and more convenient plot generators.

One interesting thing about the Retrograde army though, they actually win this round! The cannons go off, cannons not from this era supposedly, and Edo goes up in flames. History gets a full broadside! Some beautiful fire on the ship and in the town gives us a nice scene cut into the Ootachi attacking the palanquin it avoided earlier. Here we get another interesting twist where, presumably, one of our heroes goes down for the count. After a short fight Tonbokiri, one of the least developed but most likable characters, gets a slash across the chest and a sword through the gut. Its a nice scene, the weapon which represents Tonbokiri breaking as he goes down. Tonbokiri isn’t the only one with a serious wound though, as we transition to Kane on the ship. In a rage, he kills some Retrograde, and gets a sword through the stomach. Bad day.

With Kane and Tonbokiri down, it looks like we are hitting the nadir of our heroes journey. With a howl everyone gets teleported back to home base and we get a somber credits scene. Its thematic but we know so little about these characters and what they are fighting for that the episode hit like a lightweight. The only novel thing about it is that our heroes lost, which was unexpected for this series. I hope we get to see how history changed because of all this, so we get a sense of whats at stake. Instead, we get an after credits scene.

Its a scene that dismisses everything that has happened so far and introduces another new character! Well done Ranbu, well done. Mikazuchi, leader of the first unit, who will apparently replace or join our old party. We really didn’t need new characters. What Ranbu needed was an actual villain. Someone with charisma, someone who could carry this show. Instead we get more and more of the video-game roster and a video-games shallow story. At-least we get a new arc next week.

See you next time everyone!

CHANGE USERNAME
Vonter
Or are the 50s the new late 30s or early 40s?
Vonter
Are japanese people vampires? https://ultra.fandom.com/wiki/Toru_Furuya
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: If you look at the voice list, that Japanese voice actor for Mario in that anime movie is the same voice actor for Amuro Ray from the original Gundam.
Vonter
Also considering Baby Bowser was raised by Kamek. I suppose those beings could be made by magic.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - My head canon is that Bowser made them himself. Kinda Lord Zedd or Rita from Power Rangers.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I still subscribe to the headcanon that Peach is the mother of Bowsers children.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I remember growing up with the relatively poor American cartoons, none of them featured Wario.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have committed videogame genocide apparently.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Everytime I broke or hit a brick in the Mario games I was probably murdering a toad.
Vonter
The ending it's "interesting" considering the relationship Mario and Peach have isn't something as close, as Link and Zelda.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - It's weird but at the same time it does use elements from the game. Like the music, and story bits from the manual from the original Super Mario Bros. (Where it mentioned Bowser uses magic to turn Toads into the bricks, clouds and other objects of the game).
Kaiser-Eoghan
I never did end up watching the Mario anime movie that came out in the 80s.
Vonter
Also someone is putting the effort of making a Bowsette adventure doujin. This is the type of stuff that could be it's own original thing since it strays far from what's Mario. Despite the occasional mild nudity it's quite fun so far, despite also how weird it is.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - At the very least it'll be interesting to see where it goes. It happens also every time something comes back. Times change and so the way we make stories. Also the original run had a curtain call chapter, so this is more a new story.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Which is often what happens with episodic stuff for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I essentially read Fraken Fran until I got my fill of it.
AidanAK47
@Vonter, I feel that Franken Fran pretty much ran it's course though. Not sure what a new series could bring.
Vonter
Latest news: Franken Fran will get a new manga series. After it was cut short, it seems this little horror manga will get another chance: https://imgur.com/a/ypjtI4c
Vonter
I also read a bit ahead on Shield Hero. And I like it is character driven, but the cast isn't as big as other Isekai, like in Overlord where there are too many characters to easily keep track of what's happening (ever since it started Overlord feels like the most attached to its light novel origins).
Vonter
The monster town growing and expanding into it's own country reminded me of Digimon World. A game which you allied with Digimon to expand your town, add shops and other services. I've heard Xenoblade X was also like that.
Vonter
I watched during the weekend, the Slime Isekai. It's fine, though it lacked more conflict, the MC feels like its too powerful. Maybe this would have been great as a videogame since the concept of how this Slime evolves reminds me of the SNES game: E.V.O. The Search of Eden. It was about your character evolving through the ages and the player choosing how it adapts to it's environment.
Animosh
Also nice to see some love for LOGH in your personal lists (especially Aidan's). I guess it's too much of a niche series (a political epic in space) to score highly in the overall list, but I loved it. It retained much of what made the OVA so great while providing a much-needed update to its visuals and arguably better pacing.
Animosh
I also hadn't heard of the Kase-san OVA. Not sure whether enough can really happen in a one-hour OVA to make it worthwhile (it gives the impression of being promotional material more than a full-fledged adaptation), but I've been looking for another good yuri series after Bloom into You, so it can't hurt to give it a try.
Animosh
Nice to see Kaze ga made it on the list, even with just one cour out. I've seen most of the stuff that's won positive awards, but I've always avoided Pop Team Epic because of how silly it seemed to me. But given all the positive reviews (here and elsewhere) maybe I should give it a chance after all.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yu-no can go fuck itself.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There's also Yuasa's new thing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Maybe the thriller shows will be worthwhile but I'm not really as interested.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yeah spring looks packed for me, there's also that throwback ova to riding Bean and some creature horror ova.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I notice that Index gets an annoying amount of episodes/adaptations, one of those shows that keeps going away for a while then keeps coming back.
Kaiser-Eoghan
We might get dororohedero and Vinliand saga at years end. I would like for pluto to air this year.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Definately looking forward to the josei and shoujo stuff in Spring 2019, nothing of interest for me thats on the summer 2019 list yet.
Vonter
Like you wrote, seems like it's the start for new ways to stream anime. With Crunchyroll making simulcasts and Netflix putting some anime in the spotlight considering the audience it has (and it also helps it has better dubs, at least in spanish). Finally I felt last year the criticism of fanservice got more loud, also summed with how tumblr and facebook politics are putting restrain on sex conten
SuperWooper
@Anon, Netflix is getting Watanabe's new series, Carole & Tuesday, next season. It might not have the mass appeal of Crybaby (violence and sex) or Aggretsuko (cute animals), but it ought to do well for them if they slap "FROM THE DIRECTOR OF COWBOY BEBOP" all over the Internet.
Vonter
Last year I also didn't watched a lot of drama or slice of life, which is a shame since a lot of what's listed reads like it fits those genres.
Vonter
Kind of a lukewarm year 2018 was in terms of anime series. Although I admit I watched a lot of trash as well. Most of the good stuff I watched last year was on Netflix. In terms of bad I already an issue on the list because disappointing, bad and trash are different degrees of badness.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Sorry for being so long and overdramatic, I'd normally stay quiet but I had to get my feelings out.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I don't want to say anymore about this show anymore, I know those who did watch it generally emotionally connected with it or thought it was some kind of epic, if anything I felt it was an epic ruined by being chopped down. I hated it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Nothing seems settled on long enough and nothing registers.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As Hateable as Jomy is in the beginning, I would at least liked to have seen proper flow of plot structure allowing for some natural progression of character.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As an idea and I think if explored with more episodes/more it could be something, this also includes Keith.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The timeskip and general pacing annihilate anything that could be anything approaching reaching close to working with this series, resulting in an un-compelling cast I feel nothing for that ruins and undersells any drama which is far too overdone when it occurs.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can't complete this, don't care if I've watched the first half.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I didn't like the couple of episodes of Terra e I watched a some years ago, unfortunately this second attempt, over halfway through the show only illustrates further just how much I utterly despise this show.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As I've said before, I do think re-watches are important, especially years later after watching a show you disliked, if only to see if you'll enjoy it on the second run, lately thats been mostly successful for me, however....
Anonymous3325300
Meanwhile, I do expect that this year will be much stronger in terms of quality. Of course, I had the same assumptions last year based on the winter shows, but I do feel like this could be a stronger year full of great shows, instead of a lot of merely "good" ones.
Anonymous3325300
I predict that Netflix this year probably won't have a Devilman/Aggretsuko-level hit in terms of new anime. Evangelion is probably all they need, even though it's an old series.
Lenlo
If anyone thought that wasn't getting on this list, they either didnt watch it or have really low standards
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: Its so catharctic that you listed steins;gate 0 I remember how we essentially lived and watched it together.
Lenlo
I think thats what the most pleasant surprise category is supposed to be. Didnt wanna double up on to many cats
Kaiser-Eoghan
No biggest surprise category?
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can understand including bunny-senpai as a runner up, I'd have trouble picking between it and sorayori.
Lenlo
Episode 7 is so damn good, I don't care that its American.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: How do you think I feel, I'm not far off 35.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Glad you actually made room for a movie category aswell.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Based Lenlo, cheating with American anime cartoon.
Lenlo
Im just happy I got Castlevania on this list at all
Kaiser-Eoghan
Dropped planet with, hinamatsuri and violent evergarden though, didn't see Hisone.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I probably would have replaced planet with with happy sugar life or banana fish though or yagate ga kimi.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In any case, I am glad my wife Kanna Hanazawa won an award on your list and that Devilman got featured more than once.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, I though you would be splitting the voice actor category into voice actor and voice actress, though I suppose that's probably cheating a bit.
SuperWooper
You're not alone - of the four of us, I was the only one who watched it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I must have missed ASAGAO TO KASE-SAN. Hadn't heard of it until now, I should have paid more attention.
Anonymous3324478
Oh and the music was pretty good too I guess. Another episode is airing in March.
Anonymous3324478
Masa also recovered from his car accident from a few episodes ago. It was totally unneeded in my opinion.
Anonymous3324478
The last episode of Tsurune was a decent ending to an otherwise formulaic sports show with some great animation on par for the course with KyoAni. Minato overcame his target panic and won it for the team. Twins got owned big time.
Animosh
There's a new episode out of the Gridman voice drama: https://barnnn.blogspot.com/2019/01/ssssgridman-voice-drama-episode-6n.html. It's a pretty good one too.
Animosh
My only worry is if the series will be able to get to its logical stopping point (the end of the Claw arc) in 12 episodes. But I suppose I should trust Bones over my vague memories of how much content there is left to cover.
Animosh
Yeah, I agree a split cour could be good. It would allow the series to maintain its high levels of animation, and given how stacked next season looks to be (anime aside, there's also American Gods and the Game of Thrones madness to keep up with), and with another ONE show airing, a break wouldn't be so bad.
SuperMario
Split cour of Mob Psycho would be awesome. I don't want to watch 2 ONE's adaptation in one season
Lenlo
Not for bloggin
Lenlo
While I love Mob, I am a bit happy its only 1 cour. I couldnt do 3 2 cour series
Animosh
Assuming we do get 12 episodes, a split cour would still make sense ... but I guess we'll just have to wait for the official confirmations
Animosh
As far as I can tell the only source is some guy in Twitter, so not sure how reliable it is
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - Devilman Lady is what comes to mind on how to do this type of show better. That one had also a special agency for supernatural incidents, has a simple but compelling main character, uses it's time to build atmosphere and mood and even the action while a bit stilted had better monster design and the violence it's graphic but entertaining like Robocop.
Vonter
@Kaiser-Eoghan - Ok I will check. I'm also curious where it goes in terms of tone. Because it's all over the place.
Vonter
Ok. Last time I tried the login in feature didn't respond. This time it worked.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Keep me posted of magical girl spec ops in case it does turn into the kind of guilty pleasure shlock it should.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Is this vonter? If you register an account you can keep the name.
Anonymous3321080
But I think what gets me the most its how it beats the dead horse of the 80s action hero arc. Van Damme, Arnold and Stallone had more or less these type of lines. Its kind of funny this anime pretends these aren't tropes we don't use anymore because of how corny they come off. It'll definitely work better as an abridged series since it can be very boring when it tries to add the school life moment
Anonymous3321080
Also Mahou Spec Ops... Is interestingly bad. It tries to be exploitative and shocking but feels very sloppy, kinda like that meme of *slow heavy metal music plays* It also wants to play it like a dark shoujo anime, but the cute monsters are just distracting.
Anonymous3321080
Reading your conversations about idols, despite being mediocre Gokudolls and Ore Mahou Shoujo made jabs at that culture. At least painting some aspects that may be true of how exploitative it is. I suppose because those are subpar, over the top and cheap is what they can do that. Can't remember one aside from Perfect Blue which criticizes that industry.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But only if there was more anime noirs.
Amagi
Reminds me of that stalin vs hitler comic. Think it was russian. They're attacking each other with magical super powers there. And yeah, I love noir now that you mention it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: That'd make for a great noir story.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Imagine Stalin and Hitler trolling each other on twitter.
Amagi
It's easy to construct superiority when you never have to show your private face and never participate in mundane chat talks or so.
Amagi
I bet a lot of people who had some aura of authority back then due to only ever appearing in books or for very rare (scripted) speeches would probably laughing stocks now if we'd see them commenting on daily stuff and news on twitter or reddit.
Amagi
I personally have given up upon having heroes. I still find a lot of historical people interesting but let's be real the few of them that weren't blatanly bad in some way were different then we imagine them to be (even if they're good). Just look how different people feel now that you see them tweeting on twitter VS policians etc decades ago.
Amagi
I like the idea of a main character longing for a dead friend and role model he had and still idolizes. Then at some point he starts reconstructing his friend's past to cherish his memories about him even more but finds out that the friends wasn't the hero he believed him to be and maybe even the own memories of him were idealized a lot over the years after his death without him even noticing.
Amagi
Yeah we are always searching for some sort of über-ich or perfect being that symbolizes the goal of some personality growth we're trying to achieve.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or the reason why some people need to have so many things or idols they probably don't need.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think there is a genetic/mental inadequacy in humanity that makes us susceptible to following "higher people who we forget are actually human" because of our own desire for an avatar or general inadequacy as human beings.
Amagi
Yeah this. It's probably also why they defend them so eagerly. Because it's actually true that "their" version of that person would never do that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: And that probably creates a much stronger blow to them when the actor is found guilty of a crime.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Very good response.
Amagi
It's kinda weird how almost everything we know about others is actually just interpretation to some degree.
Amagi
The weird thing is that I think that many fans of acrots/celebrities rather create their own versions of them they fall in love with rather than loving the actual person, whom they barely even know. It's fun because the concept of a waifu sounds extremely weird to normal people, but many normal people kinda do this too but with real persons (but imaginary personality).
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think thats where it starts getting obsessive or where it gets too close to the next level, such as what the anon mentioned.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I also can't bring myself to get too attached to a celebrity or to a character. I do look at hentai doujins yes but, I've probably had thoughts about certain actors or what not, but I never actually want to sleep with them, again I think that's taking fantasy too far.
Amagi
I never know if these are serious celebrations or rather some fun memes they do to post, I always assumed the latter. Kinda.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think the fans celebrating the idol's birthday thing is taking it to far too, especially if its an anime character.
Amagi
Yeah I was never an idol fan either, and I don't just mean the idol genre in anime but anything similar to idol stuff in general, like being a fanboy/girl of some celebrity or something. Was never able to get into that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its all too superficial.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Don't like the ideas it gives teenage girls either .
Kaiser-Eoghan
Certain topics just set me off =<
Amagi
The third episode of Wake Up girls was pretty good in that regard. I think it was the third one.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But yes, thats a pretty bad story what happened to the woman you mentioned.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Might be a good idea to catch some documentaries on that topic .
Kaiser-Eoghan
But that was just a sentence from some guy on a podcast though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Now though I didn't see it, I do recall someone saying some of that Wake up girls idol anime slightly brought up seedier parts of the industry if not much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The hallow shallowness of the idol industry I mean.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I also dislike the shallowness of it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I love how Perfect blue takes influences from those gialli/giallo style films from the 60s/70s to an extent, while also spitting on the industry.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But you know what sucks? A part of me, both in regards to those women (and probably some of the male idols) whether it be in reality or animation, I can't actually deny finding some of these men/women actually physically attractive.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Music industry has its seediness just about everywhere and of course victim blaming going to appear everywhere, not just Japan.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*commodification-consumerist
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I hate capitalism, I hate the idol communication-commercialist industry and the willing self-aware slaves and their masters who perpetuate it, the music is largely awful aswell. I don't watch most of the idol anime, I think the idea of 30 something men throwing cash it is awful.
Anonymous3319279
Wonder if there will be some modern equivalent of Perfect Blue? That was a scathing critique of the idol industry back in the late 90s. Although given how shows that are flat out glorifying the industry are the best-selling shows on BD every year, I doubt it.
Anonymous3319279
In short, she was assaulted by two men at her home who were then arrested. Then she was pressured by her managers into claiming that she was to blame for this, not the men and apologizing to an audience.
Anonymous3319279
Hearing about what happened to some idol named Mahohon seriously makes me wonder if idol culture in Japan seriously needs an overhaul and if media needs to stop glorifying the industry so much.
Anonymous3319260
Ok. No pressure, just asking.
AidanAK47
@Anon, we are working on it. It's nearing completion and should be posted soon.
Anonymous3318799
I don't know if I missed it. But have you put the overview of 2018? Of best show, best character, etc. Did 2018 had a good anime villain?
Masky
Anyhoo, surprisingly Lovecraft's books have some really faithful manga adaptions
Masky
A story set in world post "Cthulhu"(or whatever is setting equivalent) awakening and transcending humans into "savage" inhuman world that he is supposed to bring forth
Masky
Ya know, speaking of lovecraft here is what I really want to see:
Kaiser-Eoghan
Well I guess Die Farbe and whisperer in the darkness count and the cthulu one, the latter two were done by the Lovecraft society.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The closest we got with an actual adaptation was Dreams of the witchhouse , but they left out Nyarlathotep.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Those films were fun, but none of them dated well either.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have to seperate my knowledge of the books from Stuart Gordon and Brian yuznas films that borrow elements and titles from Lovecrafts works, once I accept their takes on him are just body horror a black comedies I can kind of accept it more.
Lenlo
I think Junji Ito's manga works have come the closest to Lovecrafts brand of horror, and we all saw how that adaptation went.
Lenlo
Yeah, Lovecraft is a hard one. Even his own books are hit or miss, because it is a very fine line for his brand of psychological horror. Would make for an interesting and unique anime if done well though
Kaiser-Eoghan
A lovecraft themed world would find some difficulty in getting the atmosphere right as he has proved difficult to adapt.
Lenlo
Ah. Yeah, a non-traditional setting like that would be good. I think Isekai, to really change it up, should start going for non-traditional settings. Sci-Fi, Lovecraft, etc. I think this was mentioned before yeah?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: I believe the anon was saying it in relation to making a good setting for an isekai show.
Lenlo
Its why I standby Sakaki in this that, even if he was a dick about it, he is right to be angry at how it all placed out. Just not at Kurahara.

Also @Anon, I loved Bloodborne! No idea what the convo is about, but saw it mentioned
Lenlo
They should Kaiser, I agree. Just look at American college football right now. ITs coming out all over the place, and people wonder why teams dont speak out against it. Its because they are kids, they think "This is how its SUPPOSED to be. Only the best make it. Its not the coaches fault, he makes us win". etc etc.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There is a spinoff anthology for bloom into you's manga.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or other big issues relating to sports such as performance enhancing drugs.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Lenlo, a thought popped into my head there, more sports shows should focus on abuse.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think flipflappers is one of my favourites in years, but it was definately at its best when it wasn't really about wrapping up its story.
Amagi
Space Dandy and Kaiba had this to some degree too. Liked both series.
Amagi
@Kaiser: Kinda sad that the latter half of Flip Flappers was rather weak because it started with this different worlds idea.
Amagi
I think Matsumoto stuff might actually be the very first anime I have seen in my life, not regularly though and usually when I was in Italy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The noir world could be in black and white.
Kaiser-Eoghan
How about another world that has different sections that follow different genres?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Helped greatly by his use of artistic cinematography and use of dramatic stills.
Anonymous3316528
Old anime has very bitter stories. Despite the old drawings, several had harsh live lessons. Osamu Dezaki had such a talent to direct drama.
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Winter 2019 Summary – Week 2

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Some days, I wonder what it is with America and anime about organized crime. Baccano!, 91 Days, Blood Blockade Battlefront, all set in America, all involving criminal underworlds. Today, I get to add another to that list in the form of Banana Fish. Much more grounded than the others, it’s story dates all the way […]

Castlevania Season 2 Review – 73/100

According to much of the Western Anime community, this series wouldn’t be relevant for a site like this. Being made in the West by Americans, and English being its first language, many would disqualify it from the start. However I name them all fools for Castlevania, Directed by Sam Deats and Ryoichi Uchikoshi is clearly […]