Posted on 9 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

Welcome to the Biba show where it all comes down to a cage match between steampunk megaman Ikoma and the Titan Kurokeburi version of Memui for the fate of Japan.

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With Ikoma out of the picture, Biba’s revolution comes strolling into the Shogun’s capital with the ease of a hot knife going through butter. I was expecting a bit more resistance out of the Shogun’s amazing artistic main city but the brisk pace of Kabaneri demands that everything must explode and the story hurried along before getting too far into the details. As quickly as the top dogs of Shogun are introduced, they are discarded in favor of Biba and the antics of his Hunters. Even when it comes to glimpses of Biba’s past, which could have been fascinating, are much too brief to provide any meaning commentary or salvage Biba’s flaky backstory. Biba’s reveal as a Kabaneri is particularly guilty of that since it begs the question of how he went from a twelve-year-old general to a mad scientist.

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Since I’ve already beaten the narrative horse to death, what about the main draw of having Ikoma come in and save the day while explosions go off everywhere? Sadly, the climax of the finale was fairly lackluster despite all the pretty colours and great animation that has been consistent throughout the series. The music was nice with 1coma and Aimer’s version of Through My Blood making their first appearance but it didn’t quite fit right with Ikoma powering up to Super Saiyan levels. His appeal as an engineer that could innovate out of any situation was ignored in favor of having him obtaining lazer powers that could flip over a freight train coming in at full speed. It had the spectacle but none of the foundation of the earlier episodes. It was only after that Biba was dead that Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress became instantly better with Memui throwing Ikoma into a improvised trampoline and shedding the taint of the last five weeks.

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Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress ends up resetting its narrative back to episode six with the train speeding off into the sunset with the addition of the remnants of the Hunters. The Kabane still roam across the entire the country and our heroes are still on the move with their outlandish dreams of rice paddies fields and start fresh again without the downward spiral of his introduction unlike how Guilty Crown had to go through an entire 26 episode slog before being put out of its misery. Hopefully once Biba is disposed off, the shackles of his failed legacy can be disposed and focus on what made the series so great in the first place.

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There is immense potential in continuing this new franchise from Studio WIT as I love the steampunk/historic Japanese mashup, the aggressive characters, action, music and visual style. For the first seven episodes, it was extremely entertaining and fun and it would have been an easy 9 or 9.5 score if it could keep up the momentum. Unfortunately, the story and character development didn’t live up to the hype and I left with a show that was one half utterly amazing and one half Guilty Crown. I would love to see more Koutetsujou no Kabaneri in the future but there is no doubt that this is the disappointment of the season for me.

7.5/10

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Posted on 23 June 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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After the Horobi’s laser light show and having Biba-sama completely dominate the narrative with his super cool looking henchmen, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is back on track although it’s on different rails for here on out.

Imprisoned by the Hunters and being caught in the middle of the impending final conflict between the Shogun and Biba, the crew of the Koutetsujou manages to recapture some of the things that I loved about the series up until the end of episode seven. Having the Ikoma and his crew come up with a plan to overcome the odds while jabbing at each other with their character interactions  and break out of imprisonment is exactly what is needed to bring this show back into focus. The music was an improvement over the unsettling soundtrack of the last two episodes although it didn’t reach the highs that had been set earlier by Sawano. The only thing that couldn’t be helped but be mediocre is main target of Biba-sama as an over-dramatic bore that drag downs Kabaneri’s second half.

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Biba-sama’s backstory is certainly brimming with potential as he was casted out as a pawn between two political factions that had different views on how to deal with the Kabane. Being twelve years old and in charge of a military campaign draws a lot of parallels with Arslan Senki which could have garnered some sympathy for this dashingly handsome villain in his tale of being betrayed and slowly dismantled by the Kabane. However, the few scenes that featured the young Biba-sama only highlights the problems with the twelve episode format of Kabaneri as his villainy have a far greater emotional impact if the show could have spend just ten minutes on fleshing out his initial campaign against the Kabane instead just a few moments.

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This is the second time that Ikoma is being casted off the train and it doesn’t look like it he’s going to get back on anytime soon. A brainwashed Memui booting him off and his most certainly dead bro of Takumi are the two biggest shockers of the episode. I’m not too fond of using the mind-altering drug trope as it strip a character of its agency and reduces them to a plot device, but at least Memui put up a decent fight before getting the needle treatment and the green stone is obviously the trigger to snap herself back.

While Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress isn’t a trainwreck, especially when compared to the other flaming dumpster fires of this season, it could have been much better. Episode ten did much to slow the but the final forty minutes has it work cut out to keep it from descending further into the mediocrity that is Biba-sama.

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Posted on 16 June 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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What do you mean this episode writeup is weeks late? What you mean that I have to combine them?

Screw it, we doing live.

The plot thicken as Koutetsujou no Kabaneri continues to barrel on through with but the new additions to the story are a sign that its hype engine is starting to overheat and catch fire. Featuring mortars, steam-powered motorcycles, night vision headgear, and a handheld gatling gun, Biba’s Hunters reminded me of the Equalists from Avatar: The Legend of Korra but with a far more menacing look and firepower that doesn’t disappoint. Equally impressive was the tactics that they employed which offered greater mobility and flexibility compared to the static firing lines of the Bushies guardsmen. Even the new addition of the new Kabaneri, Horobi, offers a new fighting style that focuses on adding to the gymnastics of Memui as opposed to the brute force of Ikoma.

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While the action has remained good with tons of Kabanes and human being killed left, right and center, the tone surrounding all the flashy moves has been changed to being more gratuitous

and lacks the buildup for it to be effective. Having Horobi go from being Biba’s lover to a Kurokeburi doing a rendition of Attack on Titan to an Alex Mercer copycat (Prototype) spewing a lazer cone of death had me experiencing a bit of whiplash and apathy for the sudden escalation of everything while sacrificing story quality and character development. This problem can also be attributed to background music as it goes for the dramatic and dark choirs and drums as I find myself missing the cheesy insert songs that flowed so much better in the previous action sequences.

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The biggest shift tone and direction in Kabaneri can be placed on the shoulders in the arrival of the main antagonist, Biba-sama. Teased and hinted throughout the series, his presence throws supercharges the narrative to outlandish proportions with his experimental technology and superweapons. As a character, he has some nice quirks like being mechanically inclined like Ikoma and also dashingly handsome but the twisted ideals forged by a past that is filled with betrayal by his own government are the dark edgy cliches that I expect from an mediocre anime. On the surface, his future without fear seems to have many things in common with Ikoma. As his hostile takeover and massacre of the current station shows, his vision involves wiping out the Shogun authority and creating a new order with his freak experiments unlike Ikoma’s ideals of cooperation and a brighter future. He certainly reminds me of Gai Tsutsugami of ill-fated Guilty Crown where the seemingly good guy is turned in the big baddie that everyone else has to take down although Kabanari is in a better position to be the superior product.

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For a twelve year old Kabane killing machine caught between her loyalties of her newfound companions and personal savior of Biba-sama, Memui acts quite predictable in this clash of opposing ideals. Going from her carefree attitude to being an easily manipulated tool of Biba isn’t a bad way to interject some character development and drama but the compressed season format isn’t the right fit to do so given all the other wacky shit that been going on in the past two episodes. I’m willing to give a pass on the erratic behavior from Memui provides she sees the errors of her ways and goes back to kicking ass alongside with Ikoma. Judging by her actions which directly resulted in another station being overrun by the Kabane and becoming a victim for Biba’s sickening experiments, she is definitely having second thoughts about aligning herself with Team Biba.

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In Ikoma’s case, he has gone completely from seizing the initiative to merely reacting to the ever encroaching influence and power of Biba-sama. It a little sad see a character who is able to mygver his way out of situations with his piercing steam gun and be the unifying force for the Hayajiro be reduced to repeating the same few lines begging to Memui and fighting with his back against the wall.

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From the onset of the series, I made a prediction that Koutetsujou no Kabaneri would lie somewhere between the megahit Attack on Titan and the disappointing dumpster fire of Guilty Crown given that both shows. These past two episodes have taken a markedly different tone than the rest of the series which has me leaning towards the latter rather than the former. However, unlike my fellow blog writers who have declared that the Kabaneri Hype train was going to turned into a literal train wreck from the very beginning, I have hope that it will right itself and deliver an epic finale. My outlook isn’t based on blind optimism but rather that I can still see a path where Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress could redeem itself. By having all our protagonists team up and take down Biba-sama in the fun loving way that defined the first half of the series while hopefully patching up its storyline. In contrast, Guilty Crown was way past the point of no return by the time it reached the latter half of its runtime.

But seriously, the amount of Kabane lazers needs to be toned down.

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Posted on 2 June 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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Can the best show of the season to continue be even more epic than a giant Kabane chasing after a train armed with a tank cannon?

Get ready to be disappointed because the Kabaneri hype train stops for a shopping trip in this episode.

After six episode of running away from Kabane and fighting off enemies on a speeding train, it is inevitable that Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress would give its cast a chance to wind down and let loose before the next leg of their journey. The show does a good job of balancing out its supporting characters by giving them meaningful screen-time alongside our main characters. Between Memui’s first shopping experience with the ladies of the Hayajiro, the bromance of Ikoma and Takumi sticking it to the Bushi and the constant shipping between Ayame-sama/Kurusu, there is plenty of lighthearted humor to go around.

The Tanabata was a good excuse for all the ladies to dress in Yukata clothing.

It’s not all fun and games in the station as the cold and hard reality of the Kabane infection rears its ugly head in a couple of place even though not one of the those glowing zombies shows up. As the encounter shows with the Hayajiro conductors and the boy, whose father was sent flying into the station as a Kabane, there is no place for sugarcoating the bitter truth. However, the latter half of the episode, while it acknowledges that the world is a hellish unforgiving place, pushes a narrative that is hopeful and looks forwards. Just look at Memui’s cynical views on her own dual nature and Ikoma’s rebuttal of his goal of reversing the Kabane side of her.

It’s more than just mere survival.

It’s about going past that and dreaming about a bright future. While Memui’s wish for a belly full of rice is laughably simple and Takumi ‘s appetite for three hot beautiful wives, it all points to a place where the Kabane simply doesn’t exist anymore.

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With Memui’s brother/Hunters coming into town, it sets up the main conflict for the latter half of the show with its attention turning towards other human factions having ulterior motives and setting their plans into motion. Afterall, he is the one who turned little Memui into a Kabane killing machine and the foreshadowing of a sinister plot is bound to have the squishy humans turn their weapons on each other.Even though the action is missing from a show that is all about killing Kabane in the most brutal and spectacular way possible, Studio Wit still manages to deliver a less hectic episode that can stand on its own through its characters interaction and cheesy music while pushing the story ever so slightly.

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Posted on 21 May 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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If you haven’t heard by now, the second season of Attack on Titan has been delayed till 2017 because Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is far too awesome for Studio Wit to handle in a single year. I really couldn’t care less about the delay since I already know what’s going to happen in season two but Koutetsujou no Kabaneri doesn’t concede an inch when it comes to future episodes. I certainly couldn’t predict the evasive maneuvers the Hayajiro pulled off when escaping the Kabane-Titan is chasing nor the epic showdown in the end but there are few details to note before we get to the fireworks.

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These past two episodes have been Memui-centric with her mysterious origins playing into her current brooding about being weak or strong. Haven’t been bitten by a Kabane, it raises the question of how she became a Kabaneri either through being injected with the virus or some other means. There is also the issue of the fused colony and how that thing came into being. Instead of being a collective Kabane or manifestation of the Kabane in its purest form like I suggested last week, it more of single special Kabane that centrally manages all the biomass on itself, either living or dead. If Memui’s brief hesitation before delivering the final killing blow is any indication, the Kabane shei recognized is probably someone from her ill-fated group.

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Whereas Icoma’s backstory had a Kabane chomping on his sister, Memui is a victim of the fear and paranoia seeping into the people that are to supposedly defend the remainder of humanity. I’m just glad that Icoma just doesn’t really care all that much about the philosophical nonsense and proceeds to blow through a horde of Kabane. Just look at his setup at ensnaring the Kabane and using explosives to funnel in his opponents. I did felt cheated that we didn’t get to see the full fight between Icoma and the Kabane because it would have been awesome to see him in his gladiatorial style when compared to Memui’s far more elegant method of Kabane-killing gymnastics. The second half of the episode more than made up for that omission with its fast-paced high-stakes action sequence.

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This is where the Rule of Cool trumps any concerns for the actual physics when it comes to standing in front of a massive Type 48 Cannon, releasing the pressure limit by undressing or having enough weight to influence a speeding train from derailing. There was a show that aired not too long ago called Rail Wars! and it had the exact same situation where the occupants had to shift their weight to prevent the train from derailing on a turn. Physic calculations were done and it was concluded that it had practically no effect in preventing the train from derailing. Another nitpick that I make is the line of rifleman standing in front of the Type 48 Cannon. A gun of that caliber would produce a shockwave strong enough to throw those dudes right off the train when it fires.

Infantry stay behind this arrow so that they don’t get BTFO.

Infantry stay behind this arrow so that they don’t get BTFO.

I could go on about all about the unrealistic things but when the entirety of KABANERIOFTHEIRONFORTRESS is blasting in the background while the Hayajiro is just one step from doing a multi-track drifting maneuver and everyone is fighting for their lives, those inaccuracies tend fall to the wayside. I just love the imagery of the entire scene as there was so much good frantic action taking place in the approaching dusk as it reminded me of what made Attack on Titan so popular. Studio Wit continues to up the ante when it comes to delivering jaw dropping set pieces and episode six doesn’t fail in the least.

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Posted on 18 May 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, Other:

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This will be the first time in my anime blogging career that I have ever done one of these anime OST review. It should be known that I have a complete bias for Hiroyuki Sawano as he has become one of the biggest composer for anime in recent years in some of my favorite anime shows. His musical style tends to emphasize heavy rock, orchestral, choirs and electronica in a bombastic manner. It not that he isn’t capable of other genres as he has shown to be quite proficient but his loudest and epic soundtracks receives the lion’s share of attention. Some of his works featured in shows like Blue Exorcist, Guilty Crown, Attack on Titan, Kill la Kill, Seven Deadly Sins, Aldnoah.Zero, Seraph of the End, and Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn. Sawano also composed the soundtrack for Xenoblade Chronicles X as well as various Japanese live-action drama throughout his career.  

If there is one legitimate complaint about Sawano’s music, it’s that he tends to rely too heavily on the same few singers for the vocals in his anime compositions.Thankfully, he incorporates more singers into his latest work including EGOIST, Eliana, Cyua (performed for Guilty Crown and Kill la Kill ) and Aimer. Describing his latest work on Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is little tough since he likes to reuses the same style but it would be something along the lines of the dramatic vision in Attack on Titan combined with the epic beats of Aldnoah.Zero.

Standout Tracks:

KABANERIOFTHEIRONFORTRESS, Warcry, JAnoPAN, Through my Blood, 88城, Grenzlinie, Ktetsu上-abdli, 1coma, icon

Strong Background Tracks:

KGK, ComeBack音, noname

Impressions:

KABANERIOFTHEIRONFORTRESS – The main theme of Koutetsujou no Kabaneri with Eliana being the main singer and is what ət’æk 0N tάɪtn was to Attack on Titan. While ət’æk 0N tάɪtn had an absolutely sick drop with Mika Kobyashi vocals, I felt that this theme was more consistent in its buildup and execution.

Warcry – As heard in episode two and five when Memui goes to town on those pesky Kabanes, this insert song comes with all the terrible and cheesy lyrics of mpi

JAnoPAN – This odd track is more along the lines of SiTE-n0w1 (Aldnoah.Zero) where it had this funky dancefloor beat and peculiar voices. I have been never been a fan of mpi as his English singing really sucks but the intensity of the latter half has me interested in where they decide to insert this as Memui goes further down the hole.

Through my Blood – Featured in episode four, it’s a tossup between Mika Kobyashi and Aimer’s version bundled with the ED CD single.

88城 – I didn’t get all that riled up by the first half of this song even though it was had this sweeping sound that you find in your typical introduction in a movie. It is the second half that got me excited as it was

Grenzlinie – Uplifting song with Cyua on vocals that starts off soft and ends off in on an epic note.

Ktetsu上 abdli – Not a big fan of piano solos but the first half of the track has this depressing jazz-like feel to it like a person who is moping about and wailing at random things. It’s not a bad thing as it does sound quite lovely in a morbid kind of way as it spirals down in oblivion in its second half. Featured in episode three where Memui impales a pregnant lady that had the misfortune of turning in a Kabane.

1coma – The definitive theme for Icoma. I would says that this describe about the resolve of our main character that grows into this epic orchestra version of Through the Blood as he gains the means to realize his purpose of protecting people by kicking ass with his own steam gun.

icon – Different version of the ED where Eliana sings in English as opposed to EGOIST/Aimer’s Japanese. I prefer the original version as the Japanese and interplay between the two voice makes for a more pleasant experience and the cheesy English lyrics proves to be too much.

Should you purchase this soundtrack? The answer would be a resounding yes as I found myself placing ten out of sixteen soundtracks onto my music player. Hiroyuki Sawano manages to find his way again after his rather subdued work on Seraph of the End and comes out with a smashing OST to a show where the there are definitely no brakes on the zombie-killing train.

Posted on 14 May 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

Sometimes being a badass isn’t enough.

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On the journey towards the Shogun’s stronghold, the Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress hype train finds itself staring down a massive glowing thing while Memui is fracturing between her newfound companions and her past. Memui’s motivations aren’t all that hard to see given her ability in smashing Kabanes into the ground and following the young master’s orders. An old acquaintance, that looks like Snake from Metal Gear Solid, observes that this is only her redeeming value and it does much to blunt the progress she made in connecting with the people aboard the Hayajiro. There was this picture in my mind that Memui’s master had a super awesome plan to save humanity but the scene where Memui’s friend is executed makes it seem that he isn’t all the benevolent to begin with. References to weapons being stored up for human targets by the Shogun authority will no doubt pay off later down the storyline but more pressing issues are at hand like the Black Smoke and removing the obstacle off the track.
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The action doesn’t disappoint with Memui’s assault on the boiler room that mirrors her fight in episode two with a few additions like using a cloud of suicide bags as an offencive tool. Even the music is the same but with the lyrics taken out lending itself to being a foreshadow of the limits of her personal fighting power. It’s just too bad that the sheer volume of enemies proves to be too much for Memui’s as cool as that entire action sequence was. I prefer her when she was just cheerfully murdering Kabane with a carefree demeanor as opposed to recklessly fighting out of a sense of pride and desire to be a useful tool.     .

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What exactly is that massive Titan-Kabane that everyone refers to as the “Black Smoke”? It is simply a bunch of individual Kabanes glued together to form a megazord or is this an entirely new creature that is the physical manifestation of Kabane virus? The close-up view reveals all the Kabanes being mashed together but the eerie sludge-like movement and glowing eyes say otherwise. Those new upgrades to the firepower to the steam rifles and Katanas better come in handy because this “Black Smoke” Kabane doesn’t like a pushover at all.

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I showed my friends, who have seen Attack on Titan but were not following current airing anime, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress and were instantly hooked. It then turned in a marathon session where we caught up to the current episodes and they told it was already better than its predecessor because of its pacing, music, characters, setting and the maddening wait for the next episode. I would be inclined to agree as it ends with the Hayajiro standing alone against a zombie-titan while the Kabaneri duo are off doing their own thing.

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Posted on 6 May 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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Episode four comes out swinging with tons of action, resolves its internal tensions and looks forwards to its second arc with hopeful optimism. There are no brakes on the Hayajiro, especially when the Kabane launches a surprise offensive and interrupts the cliffhanger that was going nowhere fast thanks to Kurusu’s intervention.

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I was worried that the continuous bickering over the Kabaneri and retarded decision making  would be an annoying barrier but thankfully, those concerns were swiftly dashed away.  Nothing was more satisfying than seeing a sword-wielding Kabane slice his way through the would-be conspirators and then a good chunk of the hapless passengers unlucky enough to be caught in the wrong place. It is worth noting that Memui recognize the Kabane type as a Wazotori only adds to her mysterious origins and that she knows much more than she lets on.

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Wit Studio knows how to animate fight scenes and they definitely do a good job having some well-executed sword fighting mixed up with ranged combat. All the fighting inside and on top of the train carries the Attack of Titan vibes that catapulted that production studio to the forefront. That being said, there were some animation quality issues that I could see in several scenes such as the still frames and other oddities in the more fluid sequences Hopefully, it won’t be a repeat of what happened in the latter parts of Attack of Titan, where there was a significant drop as the animators scrambled to complete episodes.

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Ayme continues to turn the corner from being a timid daughter living in the shadow of her father to being a rather daring leader. Pivoting around from being relinquished of the masterkey and picking up a weapon to lead the defense from the Kabane horde, she continues to grow as a character that speaks of courage and badassery especially when it comes to her awesome steampowered bow. While the mechanics of how such a bow can operate are highly questionable, it is no doubt a very unique and cool looking weapon in a setting that is already steeped in steampunk design philosophy. Another great part is the music that is layered on thick and heavy with Sawano’s traditional styles that only ramps up the intensity as the fight progress through the train as well as the two insert songs. I felt that while the first song was pretty good, it went on for far too long with the key change being evident of that fact. However, the extended outro that coming from a different part of the full ED was a nice touch in rounding off the first arc.

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All the distractors are either dead or send cowering into a corner, everyone gets along and the Hayajiro is chugging along into the sunset. The first four episodes of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress were highly enjoyable to me and as the numbers from MAL indicates, this is the most popular and highest rated show (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable doesn’t count) airing this season. Buy your tickets and get onboard because the wild ride is only getting started.

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Posted on 30 April 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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There are no brakes on the Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress train even when it goes for a pit stop to pick up some water and say a prayer for the dead. While my fellow writers firmly believe that Koutetsujou no Kabaneri will disintegrate into a trainwreck in terms of the story and characters, I boldly predicted that this will end up become the anime of the season for the many in the anime community and episode three absolutely does not disappoint in the least.

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For an episode dealing with the aftermath of fleeing a overrun station, it was jampacked with stunning moments like Ikoma blow up his zombified sister, Ayame-sama getting in some stabby brinkmanship, Mumei impaling a infected pregnant women with two swords and revealing the feeding necessity that all Kabaneri process. I did find that the prejudice of the Bushi guardsmen and the civilians to be tiring with all the finger pointing going around. Thankfully, Memui makes all the right moves in response to this hostility by never backing down from a fight and goading her agitators into a brawl instead of pointlessly pleading her case like Ikoma. By following up on a rigorous training regiment to make him a more effective shield consisting of beating the shit out of him over and over, there is something deeply refreshing about having a female anime character that stands out so drastically from all her cookie-cutter counterparts. With the revelation that is steeped with the likes of Valvrave’s own vampiric protagonists, perhaps the prevailing fear and prejudice against the Kabaneri isn’t baseless after all. It takes our misunderstood and underappreciated heroes and switches them into powerful beings burdened with a necessary evil. Mumei already relishes in this aspect and given Ikoma’s motivations and his history with the Kakane, he is going have a very bad time coming to grips with the dual nature of Kabaneri.

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Three episodes in, there are a multitude of questions that remain unanswered like where the big storyline of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is heading and the nature of the Kabane. There are glimpses of the bigger picture with Mumei’s overall objective of reaching the Shogun’s main stronghold and the Kabane research facilities but the immediate needs of the Hayajiro with its ongoing concerns of food, water, repairs and survival will probably take precedent for the next little while. If the episode four previews are anything to go by, there will be plenty of gory action before this train pulls into the next station.

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Out of every single anime show that is airing this season, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress has the all the best action, animation, music as well as being the single show that I look forward to the most watching each week. I can’t tell you whether or not it’s going to turn into a flaming mess but it is certainly going to be one pretty wild ride before it concludes.

~HelghastKillzone~

Posted on 20 April 2016 with categories: Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

If you been following this site for a while, you may have noticed that someone new has made his first post. My name is HelghastKillzone and I’ll be the newest writing member of the Star Crossed Anime Blog. Before I go into the finer details, here is a little history on what anime means to me.

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Just like any typical person growing up in the 90s, anime in my childhood consisted of rushing home on weekdays from elementary school to watch Sailormoon, Pokémon, Gundam Wing and whatever Fox Kids or YTV  decided to throw in on Saturday mornings including the short-lived Escaflowne. Over the years, I picked up series here and there, from Hellsing to Evangelion to 5cm per Second but I never followed anything week to week until the Fall 2013 season. My actual blogging career started that year in the spring with MeepingAnime.com (now known as azureminds.com), ProjectOtaku.com (now defunct) and finally, SeaSlugAnime. I have covered such shows as Chaika, Captain Earth, Aldnoah.Zero, Zankyou no Terror, Psycho-Pass 2, Seraph of the End, Unlimited Blade Works and ERASED on an episodic basis as well as having written up on older shows, movies, seasonal preview and the low-hanging fruit of top ten lists.

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My tastes tend to lend towards the more mature and darker end of anime but I’m not closed off to indulging myself in the more lighter, moeblob, ecchii side of this wonderful animated medium. I will admit that there are large gaps in my viewing experience like the staples of Cowboy Bebop, Stein;Gate and Ghost in the Shell. It’s on my to watch list but I have a hard enough time in keeping up the latest and greatest but I would still love to hear your suggestions on what I should watch next. If you trouble grasping on what I would enjoy, my online alias and accompanying display picture is a perfect example of what exactly you’d expect from me. HelghastKillzone is from the Sony’s FPS franchise of Killzone for which I love the gunplay, visuals and aesthetics but the story is something left to be desired. The display picture, though, isn’t from the video game but instead, taken from the movie of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, which is one of the very few anime I have awarded 10/10. If you are still unsure what where I stand, I suppose writing up a top ten anime show article for myself would do the trick.

Jin-Roh-The_Wolf-Brigade-wallpaper

As for my personal life, I live in Vancouver, Canada in the North America unlike the my other European contributors on this site. I hold a political science degree with some other lesser diplomas and certificate to go along with it. I do find it a little sad and ironic that my best phase of writing came after I received my bachelor degree where it was all about analyzing perspectives and pumping out papers. As for my working life, I’m actually a serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces for the last eight years and is looking to further my career within governmental agencies  In my spare time, I play extensively in this little-known MMOFPS game call Planetside 2 under the same name. If you have heard of this peculiar game then I suggest you hit up the Connery server for some sexy times.

For the spring season of 2016, I will be covering Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. Unfortunately, due to a work-related trip, I won’t be able to do episode three piece until this Monday.

Calling it now. Anime of the Season.

LINKS

Go on and say bad things on my MAL Profile:

http://myanimelist.net/animelist/HelghastKillzone

Previous Articles:

http://www.seaslugteam.com/author/helghastkillzone/

CHANGE USERNAME
SuperMario
Another strong anime season for me was 2015 Winter, where we had YuriKuma Arashi, Maria the Virgin Witch, Death Parade, Durarara whatever season, second cour of Shirobako, Parasyte and Your Lie in April
SuperMario
Even so, with this season I'm still willing to give some shows another chance, like Caligula or Cutie Honey Universe(!)
SuperMario
For me, the best season in recent years was Fall 2016 when we had Flip Flappers, Sound Eupho 2, Yuri on Ice, Natsume 4, Fune wo Amu, Drifters and 3-gatsu no Lion. But I know that Aidan would disagree with me on this
SuperMario
@anon2028201: it's me who said this season is a mixed bag. It's like you said, this season is too heavily on sequels/ reboots and only some new anime stand out, the rest of the pack is just meh.
Anonymous2028201
To me this seems like a pretty good seasons, but judging some of the impressions, it's a bit more of a mixed bag for most. Just curious, what were the best seasons for recent anime? This one seems good to me, but to early to tell right now
Anonymous2028201
Lovin this season so far: a lot of reboots/reimaginings and sequels, but I'm enjoying them all. MHA S3, LOGH DNT, S;G 0, Megalobox, Golden Kamuy are what I'm watching right now. I hear Full Metal Panic is good as well, but I haven't gotten around to watching the original series.
Anonymous2028258
so i just recently rewatched fullmetal panic fumoffu and i gotta say that this is easily one of Kyo ani's best works. It's such a surprise that this was their first anime; it's a damn good romance comedy
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Lol I love B-movie type stuff, because the rules are off.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was the only person who watched Mazinkaiser skl and shin mazinger and skullman.
Anonymous2026379
@Kaiser Takeshi Koike really wanted to really sell it as a grindhouse feature and I ate that shit up; I really dug the tone he was going for.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: It was strange seeing that Goemon short, much as I enjoyed it, thats the goriest I seen lupin get.
Anonymous2026379
Megalo box is pure retro while lupin is a mix of old and new...and you're right; people just think they can't jump right into it. But that's why more people should be talking about it; to let the masses know that you don't need a starting point to get into the Lupin franchise
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm a massive fan of the devilman manga and I thought devilman crybaby was better than it.
Anonymous2026379
90's-esque throwback feeling shows like lupin and megalo box have been giving me
Anonymous2026379
Luoin part 5 is definitely mixing the best of new and old. Honestly, I've been having a blast with it as well as this generally 90
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think the problem is, people see lupin as this long thing they can't get into, when really its so episodic/standalone mostly you can pick up and watch.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And of course getting the best bits out of old and new.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*visual style
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm a fan of this hybrid old and new style, megalobox does it too, mine fujiko aswell and casshern sins.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was surprised by how well the Fujiko mine show came together in the end.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'll be interested in picking up more facts about thrm.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Come think of it, Akira Kurosawa did some old western (eastern?) in Russian, that had an Ainu in it.
Anonymous2026379
Asirpa is sooooo adorable.....almost feels patronizing to say that about her due to how badass she is
Anonymous2026379
What makes Fujiko work so well as this sexy icon is that she isn't just sexy: she's smart as shit and uses that sexiness to dominate and control her opponents (similar to bayonetta) rather than be chained by the objectification of her opponents (and the viewers for that matter)
Anonymous2026379
I wonder what other obscure cameos we may get this season. And yea you're right about some of Lupin's potentially sexist traits being assuaged by his level of cool and the genuine respect he shows a good deal of the women he has encountered throughout the series
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Yet still a fun film at the same time.
Anonymous2026379
@Kaiser Yea, mamo was a pretty dark element introduced to the lupin franchise; and considering the tone of the gravestone of Jigen, it makes sense he would cameo there
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Help I want to kidnap Asirpa =<
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I'm probably as surprised as you, at finding someone to talk to about Lupin on here.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: And through comparing/contrasting the jigen grave stone and Fujiko mine, with some of the sillier older ones, it shows the Lupin characters are flexible enough to work both in a darker AND sillier context.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*character
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Fujiko is precisely how a fanservicey character should work and how built in/essential it is to her haracter, without becoming an irritant.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: By all means Lupin himself shouldn't be a character we like, much like Bond, but like Bond theres a coolness to the character that allows us to love him.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Another great thing about Lupin is how it uses its 60s cool to get away with what would normally probably be considered fairly sexist.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I had a big smile on my face when Mamo made a cameo appearance at the end of one of the recent ones and thats because I remember the Lupin Mamo movie was one of those first anime that I watched about 20 years aago.
Anonymous2026379
not to mention that its one of the few anime this season that actually knows how to utilize dialogue to explore flesh out its characters rather than exposition or contrivance: looking at you darling in the franxx
Anonymous2026379
@Kaiser-Eoghan Nice fun facts; but yea Lupin III is a series that has always had an amazing sense of pacing and adventure, traits that are definitely on display this season
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Its a huge franchise too so I'm often never sure where to go next.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: You may or may not know this, but the voice actor for solid snake voiced Lupin in one of the dubs.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I watched a few episodes of the Italy set lupin show too .
Its a fun franchise due to its cast but its something I have to follow irregularly, lest it get repetitive.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Fun fact, guy who directed the gold of babylon film was a famous B-movie noir director in the 60s.
Lenlo
Dont trust anything written by the original SAO author. Everything is his fault. Kirito is not in this series.
Lenlo
Even the original SAO author has little to do with it, which is why its actually good
Lenlo
So SAO Alt is basically completely removed from the rest of SAO
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Lupin is one of those things I dip in and out of, whatever part of the franchise it is. I've seen birdcage kingdom, Mamo, cagliostro, nostradamus, Jigens grave stone, mine fujiko and the recent Goemon centred special.
Anonymous2026379
it's a damn shame not a lot of ppl are talkig about/watching lupin the third this season
Kaiser-Eoghan
But for all I know with that team behind it, its an improvement, but theres probably not much point in me watching as I dropped the first season after less than 10 episodes.
Kaiser-Eoghan
See how he attempts to seduce me into watching something related to sword art.
Lenlo
Huh... I didnt know the writer for SAO Alt was written by the Kino's Journey creator and produced by the Flip Flappers people. Explains a lot
Lenlo
I wish I knew what you meant by shaman girls, and I cant wait
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, Oh I know Leskinen. May he find his Japanese Shaman girls one day. But seeing as I know the story I wanna experience it differently.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Its even set in hokkaido, Korean/Japanese director, Japanese cast, Ken Watanabe is in it: https://letterboxd.com/film/unforgiven-2013/
Lenlo
Also, I love the ED. Really, 2 episodes in, I love S;G all over again.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: really? They remade Unforgiven in Japanese?
Lenlo
its*
Lenlo
Like... is good.
Lenlo
But your missing out on the cult of Leskinen. The engrish is actually one of my favorite parts
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, Meanwhile I am happily waiting for the dub.
Lenlo
Dangit... I have to wait another week for Steins;Gate 0 now. I cant do this.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: The Japanese remake of unforgiven had ainu people in it.
Anonymous2025797
Also I wonder if budget is distributed according to the director, some animes will spend more in the first episode. Some will spend more in the last ones. It's subjective, but if it's like all business it is looking for the better result at the minimum expense. Hence why I believe Berserk was made the way it did.
Anonymous2025797
@Kaiser-Eoghan - Ideally a story should be as long as it needs. But reality seems that a number of episodes is decided before production. And so you either have to stretch or cut material. Kinda like that 300 page manga of Les Miserables, is simply unfeasible translating that book into that few pages.
KTravlos
Oberstein was a great character.
KTravlos
I actually feel Aidan can do a good job on it. Sometimes been too exposed to the material may lead to clouded eyes.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Though I'm surprised by how I unexpectedly laughed at wotaku, I do wonder if later on it will include any slight drama elements to sustain interest.
Kaiser-Eoghan
OMO; OBERsteins; Gate =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
From watching episode 2 of golden kamuy, yeah, the source material definitely is lifting this.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm going to have to wait and see on steins; gate 0, it is encouraging to here this might be darker , at the same time I remember having to sit through too much goofy humour in the first one.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was actually surprised, that, while rare, there were some moments of humour, that lightened it for me.
AidanAK47
Throughout the entire series I expected Oberstein to pull some inevitable double cross. And was shocked when he never did.
Amagi
@Kaiser: Agree with Oberstein. I think antagonists are es important as the mains in fiction and I loved this guy, he's perfect for series like these.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Galactic heroes was an example of where when watching it, when big death scenes occured, I would make noooooo and shouting noises at the screen while clenching my fist.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I love characters like Oberstein, shrewd, clever, but done right to where I can believe it, not characters like, say Lelouch .
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'd be concerned if the new galactic heroes series skimps on the violence, that kind of thing needs to be in there, in most shows/films and shown to be explicit, consequences need to be shown.
Amagi
*about, not with
Amagi
Sadly, most original 2+ cours series I know feel dragged whereas many 1 cours originals could have needed ~3 more episodes. Talking with series that have an actual plot of course.
Amagi
I really like the 13 episodes thingy for originals but I wish there would be more 26 episodes series, especially for adaptions.
Amagi
@Kaiser: I agree. Nothing kills my interest faster than formularic episodes and repetition.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In general I think 50 episodes would be the most I'd watch for an anime, 39 seems ideal.
Amagi
Or worse and the romance drama is the main plot and it's Kiznaiver all over again, while the rest is just flavor to make the romances more forced since they're the MCs are only teens and such. Dunno but I can never bring myself to care about this kind of stuff.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Though better 110 episodes of galactic heroes than a long shounen that just repeats itself.
Amagi
Speaking of recent episodes, I unironically thing that FranXX's world (building) is pretty interesting (although I hope those klaxxosaurusses will be more than just random cannon fodder) but I doubt the series will ever get to the main plot again the next time.
Amagi
Same here. It was really the only time I did this. I am usually exhausted by just thinking about marathoning long series. It's the reason why I won't get into FMP for the new series either. LotGH was an exception since I found it easily to watch for some reason.
SuperMario
Man, just image burning through 110 episodes of it and my spirit fades away
Amagi
Watched that whole series ages ago.
Amagi
Just watched the first three Neue These episodes and I surprinsingly liked it. Thought I would hate it due to being an OVA fan, and I still prefer the old designs by far but overall it's pretty good. I think I might even prefer this version of the first battle, but I have to rewatch the old one I guess.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Also while I can't remember which episode, Yang picks up a book with the author of the series' name on it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Arslan feels so lightweight by contrast/comparison.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I think, given your knowledge KTtravlos, that a series review of the new galactic heroes season would probably benefit from you writing it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I bring up the music in my earlier comment, because I can understand your reservations regarding the music choice in the remake.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And certainly one of those shows, that going back to the first episode after finishing, gives a strong perspective just on how evolving the series was.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*despite me not
Kaiser-Eoghan
Despite not being monarchist , because the characters were human moreso than cartoon characters I couldn't hate on Reinhard.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Travlos: I suppose by the time it got to Julian's arc, I was surprised they were still bothering to fight but the fact that they were essentially the last bastion of their beliefs made it special.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Travlos: Sometimes when I just finish a show, its a case where I HAVE to jump online immediately after and excitedly ramble out an essay on it.
niello
ugh democracy
KTravlos
@Kaiser ultimately LOGH for me was a decisive point in my political life, as I think it made the best defense of democracy in any form I have seen. And it worked partly because the opponent was presented in the best possible incarnation (Rienhard). Yang's continued adherence to democracy, despite recongising its flaws, helped me avoid a personal descent into authoritarian politics.
KTravlos
@Kaiser. I am happy you had a good experience. I watched the prequels a while after the main show and I was happy because it was great getting back to those characters. The prequels were also great in fleshing the setting and the characters. So yes, take your time and a break. That way the prequels will be like visiting a place you liked again after a while.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@KTtravlos: I have some other stuff to get through before watching the galactic heroes prequel though =<
Kaiser-Eoghan
YES according to discord poster I'm not a millenial!
Kaiser-Eoghan
Sorry for overposting. I have always always being an incredibly verbose person.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter; Not that I oppose captilistically made for a buck cinema, it can be entertaining yes, but I set a standard.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: As open as I am to trash cinema, I consider the resident evil films, like the superhero ones, anti-art.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can understand why people don't like Villier, but he did I think work as a device to add extra tension.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I feel some release at finishing but at the same time sadness at saying goodbye to the show and its characters.
Kaiser-Eoghan
, showing its age.
But for something of this length, it kept itself up far better than most long shows and I feel the length its somewhat justified.

On another note….as corny as the third ending theme is, I got the feels listening to it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But while the first 50 odd episodes were an easy job for me aswell as all of the 4th season and some of the late 3rd season made it difficult for me to pull myself away from it, the dialogue even though often well observed did become difficult to follow at times and somewhere in the middle theres a stretch of episodes, bar some moments that feel a bit of an endurance test and the animation is at
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its attention to detail I felt was at its strongest in the documentary and the series dedication to filling the view in on its world building/fictional history.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I admired the scope, ambition of this series and the battles eventually grew on me and I was surprised by just how visceral the melee combat got which suited me perfectly. At the same time for all the strategy and action, I found myself more in it for the story, characters and intrigue/politicking. Those battles, due in part to their music choices, had an epic feel to them
Kaiser-Eoghan
In the end the characters stood out for me the best were Reinhard, Oberstein (for being essentially the amazing man with the plan), Reuntal, Kircheis and Rubinsky, I warmed up to Julian, Yang and Schenkop. When important deaths occurred, they felt highly dramatic, in four cases emotionally effecting for me .
Kaiser-Eoghan
Also, KTtravlos, thank you for pushing me toward watching the original legend of the galactic heroes, my opinion on the series is largely a mixed one, but by the end I felt I’d watched something rewarding and I’m happy its crossed off my list and I should have gotten round to it sooner.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm probably the oldest here, being 32. Which apparently makes me around Yang-wenli's age, which according to someone means I'm middle aged .
Kaiser-Eoghan
To the discord guy who brought it up, its difficult not for me to be political, my father was an activist and is a Marxist , I ended up becoming a contradiction a semi-agnostic, but spiritually inclined/tolerant socialist with internationalist ideology.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Ends in very cliffhanger/abrupt indy way though and the things weakness/how to kill thems too easy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I liked how it explains nothing also and the creature design and how it visual communicates to the audience.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: While I won't say anything, a character death is handled in what I considered a schmaltzy manner. There is a particularly headscratching decision the characters make that you'll either rationalize or hate, but it leads to one of the tenser set pieces later on.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Quiet place has a good idea at its backbone, that they use sign language in the film to communicate and occassional whispers adds to it, it and the silence allows for a mood to be effectively communicated. It does have jump scares, I wasn't annoyed by them, but I never felt the film required them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: I read the discord, if you ever need to ask a question relating to film, come to me about it, I will without fail be able to answer 9 times out of 10.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was adequately amused by the first episode of wotaku, but found the male lead funnier, which I'm attributing to him be more deadpan.
Lenlo
We found a convient weekend for everyone
Kaiser-Eoghan
*watching
Kaiser-Eoghan
I would also float the idea of recommendation podcasts every now and then.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I will listen to the podcast more in full later. But I was surprised after asking/suggesting it on the discord, that it came so soon.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I am thinking of re-watching gasaraki and ai yori aoshi.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Niello: Perhaps after a while of watch the anime I will simply jump on to the manga.
Vonter
I watched Resident Evil: Vendetta yesterday. It's incredible dumb but kind of fun. I do wonder if in terms of entertainment are like the best videogame based movies. Since it plays like a videogame, it's based on a videogame and is more or less in line with the tone the series has had for a while.
niello
It's such a shame that Golden Kamuy art direction is such a train wreck.
KTravlos
and for the sake of Clausewitz there is clinical term for what Reinhard did. It is called "defeat in detail". Napoleon was a master of it. Proper way to defeat it , is to order the threatened force to retreat to a point where other allied forces are converging. The enemy will either have to retreat, or fight at a disadvantage. The 1813 and 1814 campaigns against Napoleon are examples of that.
KTravlos
Episode 2 of LOGGH: Der Neue Thesis was much better than the first. The music is still an issue, but Yang was well portrayed. I do think there is lack of the directors in showing the cruelty of war, like the first one did. We will see.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Still need to see his short films and black Peter.
Amagi
@Anon: I already know the manga and enjoy it, think the anime is a good adaption so far. Feels good to see a series about video games that are actually just games and romance without tsunderes, tons of blushing or unworldly naive harem girls.
Anonymous2016456
the anime
Anonymous2016456
how do you guys think of wotakoi?
SuperMario
@Kaiser: Hereditary sounds pretty promising here
Kaiser-Eoghan
Forman's an interesting case, when you look at the huge disconnect from his early films from the 60s and then what he went on to make.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, unfortunately I am not a fan of country music so Nashville didn't appeal to me =<
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: And before Jack kept playing the same role over and over.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Aside from Courtney Love's presence, Larry Flynt is an excellent film. I love the custom camera tricks Kubrick used in Lyndon , dog day afternoon suceeded for me because it did so much more than being just a bank rob film. I wish Spielberg would return to his pre-90s films .
SuperMario
Cuckoo's Nest reminds me of the great 1975 Oscar Best Picture, which for me was Oscar's greatest line-up. The line-ups for that year were: Cuckoo Nest (winner), Nashville, Barry Landon, Dog Day Afternoon and Jaws
SuperMario
@Kaiser: RIP the man. I've seen 2 of his, Amadeus and Cuckoo Nest. Both great but they were more because of the strength of the source
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Milos forman has died =<
Kaiser-Eoghan
Indeed the character designs in steins; gate have seen changes....shockingly mayuri's chest is larger than Daru's ;)
KTravlos
I can live with that. Interested to see what made you reserved.
SuperMario
@KTravlos: you won't agree with my series review then. I have a lot of reservations on VE
KTravlos
Also I finished Violet Evergarden. This was an exceptional series in my book.
KTravlos
the two characters. Finally the battle soundtrack was simply wrong.

I am going to watch it because it is LOGH. And frankly after watching the new one I felt the fact that the old one was dated technical wise (but not in music). But at least on comparison of first episodes, the old one did a better job at giving depth to Reinhard and Keircheis.
KTravlos
well I watched the first episode of the new LOGH and then watched the first episode of the older version. The update in the art is good..but. If the old one was too talky, this one is too boom boom. I also felt that they did not sue the time well to establish Reihard and Kircheis well. Especially the removal of some lines that were in the first episode of the original, really took away a lot from
SuperMario
@Amagi: I can see your point but what a premise for Golden Kamuy.
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