Posted on 29 September 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

I am truly sorry for the delay. I know I know … these excuses are becoming exceedingly homologous of a young student who has been procrastinating on his homework, but I give you my word, for at least what it’s worth, that this is certainly not the case. I have been preoccupied with my pet’s medical condition, and that has taken a toll on my time, wallet, and the ability to focus and attempt to give somewhat of a fair analysis. I thank all of you for your patience and support, and finally will attempt to dive right into the first cour finale, titled ‘Those Who Cling, Those Who Struggle’.

The episode picks up right where the last one left off, with our heroes torch in hand ready to brave the encroaching horror that is engulfing Albion. Down by the courtyard we get one of the last scenes of Luca comforting Nina and once again endangering herself to shelter her. Nina has the bulk of her growth in this very episode, which basically adds up to her accepting her weaknesses and choosing to follow her destiny; wherever that may lead her.

Now we head back over to Guts and company on the ramparts, attempting to ward off the encroaching phantasm. I took extra note of Isidro’s remark regarding the fact that if the miasma is powered by human suffering, then how come the whole world is not already engulfed by such a conglomerate? However, the fact of the matter is that Isidro is still unaware of the significance of the event unfolding at the tower at this particular night; which has rendered the boundary between the physical realm and the astral world especially uncapacious.

Farnese’s whimpering has also become rather grating by this point, but thankfully this will be the turning point for her. What is refreshing though is her newfound admiration for Guts. This follows a trend that has been steadily developing, but as I will explore in my season review this still doesn’t necessarily lead to her becoming a more compelling character in the future. I liked Guts’ remark about not wasting time on prayer, as she will need both of her hands for fighting. This is on the surface referring to the physical gesture of holding hands together during prayer, and also insinuating that any preoccupation with faith and prayer will only detract in a real battle.

At the top of the newly-formed Godhand tower the Egg of the New World is about to hatch. Puck remarks that the mass of souls are all screaming in unison. It is implied that the spirits are all pleading for some form of salvation to come and free them from their hellish existence. Griffith reborn as the Hawk of Light pierces the darkness, and seemingly offers respite to the damned souls; albeit the truth is far more sinister than what meets the eye. Upon the completion of the reincarnation ceremony the tower crumbles and all the ghastly tide retreats back towards the depths of the Vortex.

We get a brief introduction to Schierke, her master Flora, and the female elf Ivalera, as the percussions of the ceremony are felt throughout the land. This is a very significant event in the world of Berserk, and it can be argued that everything since the Eclipse has been leading up to this moment. The new series has also been emphasizing this, by creating a momentum through its pacing that has steadily marched towards this encounter. For such a long build-up and implied preeminence, this moment was handled rather poorly. Any gravity that is present here is mostly achieved through the viewer’s familiarity with the world and the characters, while the contributions of the actual show add up to bot all that much.

The gang’s reunion is interrupted by the appearance of Silat and his Bairaka clansmen. He uses the term “Krishna Sena” to refer to Gut’s party, which upon some research seems to roughly translate to ‘God’s Legion’. This might be a reference to the perceived supernatural circumstances that Silat has come to associate with each of his prior encounters with Guts. We get another action scene, which while short-lasting is still done more competently than some of the previous ones. We get Guts cutting through a whole squad with a single slash, as usual, while Serpico utilizes an interesting triple Remise to neutralize three opponents (this is a fencing move that is achieved by rapid thrusts without withdrawing the sword after each attack). Jerome, Isidro, and even Azan join in the fray, and for a moment we get a glimmer of the harmony that the original Band of the Hawk displayed during the Golden Age.

This continues until Zodd makes his re-entrance. They translated one of the soldier’s remarks regarding Zodd as “Bada”, which I can only assume is a stand-in for the word ‘beast’. Seeing Zodd can only mean one thing: that Griffith is not too far behind, and right on queue- here comes the bride! Guts is about to go full berserker, but seeing the distress in Casca reminds him once again of his priorities, signaling a growth in character that has taken him far past his Black Swordsman days. The Skull Knight also drops in to make this a proper family reunion.

The final section is dedicated to tying up some loose ends, and establishing Guts’ new fellowship. Luca is found to have survived by falling/hiding in a well. This serves as a clear parallel to the old lady who survived the atomic blast in Nagasaki by accidentally tripping into a well, as illustrated by Fred Weiner’s famous 1978 World War II documentary The Unknown War.

We proceed to set up each character’s objective, and this serves as a segue into the inevitable second cour. All in all, this finale was not as bad as I thought it’d be, but to be fair my expectations were very stunted by this point. The whole thing was true to the source material and quite serviceable, but also devoid of much real joy and excitement. Not all of this is the fault of this series however, and I will soon delve into all of that with much more detail in the upcoming season one review. I am already working on that, and aim to make it the most critical and literary analysis of the show as a whole. Thank you for your time and continuous patronage, and stay tuned for a comprehensive look at Berserk 2016.

~Bam~

Posted on 10 September 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

The cold opening retreads the ending of the previous episode, with Casca being set on the pyre. In the spirit of the last few ones, this episode is also quite a fast-paced and action heavy. We have a very brief reintroduction of Zod, which serves more as a cameo than anything of substance. After the opening the series has officially moved unto volume 21 of the manga, covering the final stretch of the Incarnation Ceremony.

We see the Egg Apostle climbing the Tower of Conviction in preparation for becoming the Egg of the Perfect World. It stumbles upon the Demon Child, and resumes to take it in itself out of pity. This chapter delves a lot into the topic of social outcasts, and the alienation that sets in them due to the ostracization. We see this with Mozgus’ elite torturers, Luca’s gang of mistresses, The Egg Apostle, and to some extent the Demon Child itself.  Suffering is a recurring motif in the Berserk saga, and the aforementioned subject is one that comes up quite often. It was a central theme in the Lost Children chapter, which much to fans’ dismay was omitted from this adaptation, as well as the steward of the mansion featured in episode 3 of the tv series.

Isidro proves himself as one of the less useless characters of his stature, actually managing to save Casca from the lynch mob. Diving down that height with a non-elastic rope will realistically result in his spine being snapped in half, but given some of Guts antics this comes off as a really minor gripe. There are a lot of characters featured here that do nothing but stand around and gawk, and with the exception of Jerome and Puck to some extent, Isidro at least manages to be active in the proceedings.

Guts cuts through the soul phantasm and makes his way to the tower, and the effects here are again of especially low quality. The bigger the soulmass gets, the uglier the CG looks. We also see Mozgus transform to his true apostle spawn form, which similar to his regular model is quite unremarkable. The Dragonslayer CLANG! does make sense here, but they really should’ve recorded some more sword sound effects. The entirety of the sound mixing of the series is very sub-par, and only the voice acting is of adequate quality. We hear the Skull Knight’s voice-over during the first part of Guts and Mozgus’ battle, and this also comes off as unnecessary since it’s just a reiteration of the same thing he was telling Guts in their earlier encounter.

We see the masses praising Mozgus as an angel who will deliver their salvation, and throughout this whole episode their sheepish nature is highlighted over and over again. I was never a big fan of this trope, and it just happens to be a quite reoccurring theme in anime. Speaking of tropes, Mozgus is saved by his bible, but the somewhat interesting point here is that he is not evil for evil’s sake, but a very misguided true believer. What is absurd however, is that Mozgus is not only adept at using his brand new apostle form and its abilities, but has also somehow managed to name his moves in the little time that he’s had. Guts finishes Mozgus off in a resourceful way, and it was good to see that they included the little detail of him guarding against the explosion the very last second.

Nina continues to be annoying, and I was glad that she was quickly written out of the episode. Guts and Luca are the only characters who remain reasonable throughout this chapter, and their dialogue is pretty much the only interesting ones. This is a problem with the manga as well, and another sad reminder of the superiority of characters and writing during the Golden Age Arc. On that front, there is a sad tender embrace between Guts and a reluctant Casca, which manages to be a brief but poignant moment, although admittedly not by virtue of execution, but rather relying on the backstory of the characters.

Down by the bottom of the tower Azan is engaged in a brave but foolish struggle, and after Mozgus’ demise the ceremony is now well underway. We see that the gang equip themselves with torches, and Farnese finally moves to reassure us that she hasn’t turned into a complete CGI statue. This part is just developing her disillusionment with her faith, and the payoff doesn’t arrive until after the ceremony. There is a quick mention of Serpico not being too fond of fire, which is a nice little nod to later in the story.

This was a fast but utterly unremarkable episode, since the action sequences in the series are not at all handled proficiently. The next episode is “Those Who Cling, Those Who Struggle” and appears to be the final episode of this cour. It is not clear if they are going for a continuous 24 episode season or two separate cours, but I am guessing that there will be a break after the next episode. Well at least things will be a bit clearer by next week, so we’ll have to wait and see where we are headed.

~Bam~

Posted on 8 September 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Greeting my fellow Berserkers. I know it’s been quite a while since the last post, and it is understandable if you thought that the series has been once again dropped from the blog. But I gave my word that I will see this to the end, and well intend to keep that promise. I originally planned to cover every single episode with its own separate entry, but after completing episode 9’s review came to the realization that due to the action-oriented nature and fast pacing of the episode it became a much shorter post than the previous ones. Hence I planned to do a multi-review that covered both episodes 9 and 10. But between the premier on Friday and tonight I had a series of setbacks that caused another unforeseen delay, and pushed the whole thing back over a few days. But better late than never I guess, so here’s the review to at least catch us up before the release of the semi-final episode.

The Ninth episode starts off with the high priest informing Farnese of her orders to withdraw. We get the Vandimion namedrop yet again, and aside from backstory, this also serves to illustrate the great influence of her family in both the affairs of Midland, as well as the Holy see. The Vandimion family is a noble house of Vritannis, which happens to be the seat of the Holy See.  Their standing with the church allows her father to demand her return from the perceivable dangerous situation in Albion. She is hesitant of leaving, and snaps on Serpico, who she rightfully believes to have spied on her on behalf of her father. She hates losing control, and relieves her stress by going off on the only person who would unconditionally follow her.  Yet as events unfold she won’t get the chance to comply to her father’s will, even if she was convinced of doing so.

As mozgus tries to “cleanse” Casca in the iron maiden, all hell breaks loose within the basement of the tower, prompting everyone to flee towards the higher levels. The CG used here for the animation of the ectoplasm is actually effective, as it gives the entity an unnatural ghastly quality. It also features a violet hue, which admittedly lightens up the scene quite a bit. Guts, having just entered the tower, kidnaps the only person of authority which he happens to recognize right away, and Farnese is forced to come face-to-face with the source of her misery. It’s strange how Serpico would miss this, given his established sagacity up to this point. Guts doesn’t give Farnese much time to ramble, and again showcasing his ability to make any scene more enjoyable by vicariously carrying out the sentiments of the viewer.

Next we get the displeasure of another scene with Nina wallowing in her misery. These are taken directly from the manga, and although the series has been keeping them brief, they always come off as slightly irritating, to say the least. And then again on mark, Luca comes to her rescue, surely making everyone wish they had someone like her to care for them. At least Nina is aware of her undeserving kindness, making her a bit more sympathetic. She might seem like a hopeless failure, but to be fair, who wouldn’t despair faced with such dire circumstances. Jerome is featured here as well, serving as a reminder that not all knights of the Iron Chain serve the same unreasonable sadistic ideals. Berserk is a mixed bag of characters who inherit different levels of depth and likeability, but at least they are not all made of the same simple mold.

Down in the basement we see that Mozgus is not being so rational, and challenging the creeping phantasm with a ‘come at me bro!’ level of bravado. There’s a quickflash of the Egg Apostle, as he stings Mozgus and his elite torturers with the protruding stingers. I’ve noticed that some viewers had various degrees of confusion regarding this, so I try to clarify the point: Mozgus and the torturers were not apostles. They were just ruthless tools of the Holy See, and it is this quick instance of injection that sires them to the level of Apostle Spawns; similar to the Great Goat of the cave cult. The next scene features a pillar of flame that blasts thru the gate of the cell, which much to my surprise, was animated traditionally.

Luca’s sacrifice of letting go in order to spare Nina, is just one more attempt at resurrecting the proverbial horse so it can be beaten to death once again. Her rescue by the Skull Knight might be a nice surprise to tv viewers, and hence a nice little development. The term she actually uses to describe Skull Knight is ‘Shinigami’, which they translated to “death” in the subs, but most anime fans will recognize to actually mean the Japanese entities known to be gods of death, comparable to the western grim reaper. Given his visage and abilities, I don’t really blame her.

Episode 10 starts off with Guts facing off against the newly-transformed Mozgus party. We’re now starting volume 20 of the manga, again reminding us of how fast the new series has been adapting the manga. I always enjoyed the designs of the Mozgus Apsotle Spawns, but the CG depletes a lot of that charm by obscuring details and making all models simple and symmetric. The undertone of evil beings with angelic features is one that has a longstanding tradition within the Berserkverse, and quite frankly one of the more interesting and subversive aspects of the original manga. This has somewhat been diminished by time and latter imitation, yet it is a testament to the potency of Miura’s iconic style.

After a quick scuffle between the Egg Apostle and the Skull Knight, we see it retreat while managing to snatch Luca at the last moment. I feel that Skull Knight’s hesitation to follow is due to the desire of tracking its lair, and reassuring of its purpose. The Apostle brings Luca to a creepily romantic candlelit vigil by the foot of a Hawk idol made from disposed bodies. It then proceeds to confide in her his backstory as a rejected feral child, that upon coming into the possession of a Behelit, offered the world as a sacrifice in exchange of becoming the Egg of the New World. I personally envisioned him as a twisted child, so it was a bit jarring at first to hear Hiroyuki Yoshino’s voice coming out of him. If he sounds familiar it’s because you have most certainly heard him as a VA in one series or another; given that you’ve watched more than a few anime series. He has done everything from Meow in Space Dandy, to Favaro in Rage of the Bahamut. It doesn’t take long to get used to this however, and instead intrigued by the peculiar order of events that has led to this moment. There is more than just coincidence at work here, and I will hopefully get much deeper into that in the following reviews. Last thing of note in this sequence is the Skull Knight swallowing the Behelit, which comes into play at a crucial moment much further down the line

Next we are taken back to the Tower of Conviction, as a heated battle is taking place between a lonesome Black Swordsman and the entirety of the Mozgus party. This is old news to Souls fans, but I’ll take the moment to note that the original inspirations for the Titanite Catch Pole, Saw Cleaver, and the Logarius’ Wheel are all featured here within the same shot. The choreography is actually nice, but again the editing does its best to make the fight as incomprehensible and disjointed as possible. I will give credit however, that in this one instance the infamous Dragonlayer CLANG! Is used in the right situation for once, as the blade violently clashes against the breaking wheel. The beating that Guts endures after that is frankly quite ridiculous, as that places his durability even beyond some of the Apsotles that we’ve seen in the series, let alone an already beaten up human being. Guts has been brutalized so many times that an X-ray of his chest will resemble that of a suitcase full of dog-treats under the airport’s luggage scanner. Unfortunately this will only get worse as the story continues. The use of the handcannon although predictable, is always satisfying. I however was incredibly disappointed at their portrayal of Guts’ signature canon-spinning-slash, which was damn near impossible to discern through the horrible editing.

Finally, we get to see the camp dissolve into chaos, as the encroaching evil makes it a hellscape that holds back no punches. This escalating horror and familiar imagery is a clear indication of what is about to take place here. We see Mozguz boasting about his powers that he deems as ‘divine’ and calls out for Casca’s burning at the stake to uproot the evil. Unfortunately the CGI phantasm looks much less pleasing here, as the bigger size stretches the textures to a bare minimum. Mozgus says he will be granted a “miracle to defeat the Hawk’s power”. I saw people confused about this line, since the Holy See idolizes the Hawk as a sign of the divinity. They have done a poor job at explaining, but the religion believes in the duality of good and evil, and envision a Hawk of Darkness that stands in opposition to the will of the Hawk of Light. That is what Mozgus is referring to in this instance.

The episode comes to an end as Guts realizes the nature of what is about to happen, and slashes past the augurs of the Godhand to rush and save Casca. I was lucky, as these two episodes were of very equal pacing, content and overall quality. The tone has slightly improved, but continues to be hit-and–miss, with great disparity in quality from scene to scene. I still believe that the use of traditional animation has been on a steady rise, but this only makes the switch to basic CGI models that much more jarring. The next episode is titled “The Shadows of Ideas”, and appears to be the first half of this cour’s finale. This would be a good chance at another dual review, but due to the tardiness of my last few posts I will cover the next episode separately as soon as possible. Expect things to heat up even more, as we move towards the climax of this entire arc. Let’s all hope that it manages to surprise us, and shine a redeeming glimmer of light on the show, instead of further derailing its quality.

 

Posted on 20 August 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Episode 8 starts with a cold opening that retreads the fateful rendezvous of Guts and Casca. I actually thought that this was a good move, as this is a very big moment in the overall story of the last few arcs. After the Golden Age section we get very few deep character moments, and a lot of the pathos of the story has been replaced by mere action. I’ll take the time to reiterate my opinion that the Golden Age Arc is quite honestly the very best part of the story. The focus on the characters and their relations, combined with the world building which masterfully portrays a dark fantasy realm that borders close to our own, yet at the same time concealing an inundation of supernatural evil slithering under the surface, are what have made Berserk the masterpiece that it is. After the events of the Eclipse a lot of that imperative was washed away, and replaced by a revenge story which is heavy on plot, yet slim on thought-provoking ideas with deep emotional impact. This little scene of reunion hearkens back to those glory days, even if ever slightly so.

All that said, after the opening we are thrown right back into the action. The fight choreography is taken directly from the manga, but turned up a few notches. As intricate and detailed as Miura’s drawings are, it’s still sometimes hard to follow his action panels. Compared to Tezuka, or the more contemporary mangaka such as Naoki Urasawa and Takehiko Inoue, Miura’s panels seem to be displaying the key frames, and leaving out the dynamics of the action to the readers’ imagination. So at least here we get a more direct interpretation of the fight scene, which while completely sufficient, fails to really enhance on its source, as say a studio like Ufotable would’ve managed to do. We even get the near miss of Guts almost losing his only functioning eye, but he manages to use a little bit of strategy to neutralize the Goat before resorting back to brute force and finishing the job.

We next get to see Farnese using the situation to try and kill two birds with one stone, and coercing the troops of taking care of Guts along with the rest of the ghouls.  Azan tries to be the voice of reason, but is soon shut down, and being well aware of his rank, simply continues to follow the orders. Azan reminds me of a certain knight in Final Fantasy IX named Steiner, who while taking himself seriously, is still relegated to comic relief; although both characters aren’t exactly push-overs.

It’s brought to Farnese’s attention that Serpico is missing. This leads in to our next action set-piece, which proves to be a bit more personal. This duel has been long in the making, since although Serpico has no qualms with Guts, his devotion to Farnese compels him to remove the threat that has been plaguing her mind. There also seems to be a bit of a clash of egos at work here. Serpico is a pragmatist, using the best tactic to set up the match to his advantage, with no apparent regard for honor. He has always somewhat reminded me of Griffith, and I think the parallels are too striking to be completely coincidental. The fast fighting style, the cunning calculation, the pride, all point to a resemblance in their world-view and personality.

The narrow landing prevents Guts from drawing his sizeable weapon, but he isn’t particularly new to being in the corner either, and starts the face-off with a flurry of arrows and explosives. Serpico manages to regain his footing and then precedes to send a wave of rapid thrusts. Guts catching the rapier’s blade with his hand is again reminiscent to the surprising way he caught Griffith off-guard by biting the edge of his sword. Looking at the hilt of Serpico’s rapier, it resembles a German Pappenheimer, which means contrary to common belief the blade is not only pointed for thrust attacks, but also edged for slashing. It’s also somewhat historically accurate that such fine rapiers were often quite brittle; making the shattering of it not much beyond the realm of possibility.

Down in the valley we have Farnsese going off on her men. The prospect of Guts surviving is taking a toll on her, and we see her scabbard-smashing her men in front of a concerned crowd of knights. On the other side we see that Guts nearly pushed to the same limits over Isidro losing Casca, but he manages to subside his rage. I feel that this is in part due to what took place at Godo’s house, and how this situation was quite similar to his unwarranted outburst against poor Rickert.

At the end, the gang heads towards the Tower of Conviction, as the Skull Knight vague ramblings foretell an ominous encounter. Inside we get a glimpse of Nina and Casca, and a small window into Uncle Mozguz’ House of Terror.  The stage is set, and the pieces are assembled. The next Episode is titled Blood Flow of the Dead, so I’m guessing that it will be the first part to a double, or perhaps triple, episode, that will be covering the main part of the chapter we’ve been waiting for. These recent episodes have been following the manga extremely closely, and all the while moving at quite a rapid pace. My only issue is still the execution, and how the show has yet to go beyond what they are directly drawing from. One could only hope that there is some budget being set aside for a more memorable finale, and at least now we can anticipate the trajectory of the rest of this cour. Until next Friday and more Berserk, stay tuned my friends.

~Bam~

Posted on with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

I apologize for this very late review, but due to circumstances I didn’t have the means of watching the episode, and hence the week-long delay. I’ll try to at least leave a notification in case of such issues in the future, but otherwise will try to keep the posts steady. So let’s get right to it, shall we?

We get a recap of the ending scene of last episode, with the Demon Child warding off the spirits, and in turn making Casca the hailed princess of the cult. It appears that in these times of desperation, the cult members cling to anything that they can praise as a deity. The noteworthy thing here is that Casca shows a maternal instinct for the Child, as she tries to reach for it before it disappears. This stands as a stark contrast to Guts, who sees the child as a curse and an ugly reminder of his past.

Next we have a scene at the camp, with Luca being brave and assertive as ever. I always disliked Nina’s characterization, but she appears to be even more annoying in this series. Her selfish ways are highlighted here in an attempt to create some sort of a character arc for her in the future. The duo’s discussions are interrupted, as they are notified of an impending trial of another one of their compatriots.

Looks like we have ourselves a classic witch hunt here. Not unlike such similar occurrences in reality, these hunts are more about silencing unrest and class warfare than anything else. There are few tools more effective in oppression of a population, than an appeal to divine authority. Thankfully the masquerade is cut short by the sudden appearance of a certain Black Swordsman.  Guts has well established himself as the king of entrances, and this instance is not any different. I really do enjoy his no-nonsense approach to information gathering, and when pushed he proceeds to lay down the authority very swiftly. Fans often forget that Guts is truly an antihero, with his mercenary background defining his sense of morality. He is single-minded in his approach, and not afraid of taking any necessary measures to achieve his goals. I like to note that the digital blood splatters were bearable in this scene, and did little to distract from the action.

Next we have a rush back to the campsite in order to fetch Casca. There is a quick overview of the state of constant fear that has enveloped the camp, as people are quick to sell each other out in order to avoid punishment. The knights’ preoccupation with the situation in Albion can only mean that the news of the full-scale Kushan invasion has not reached their ranks yet. This is exacerbated by the show jumping the gun, and expediting the assault on Windham as early as four episodes ago.

Nina proceeds to panic when Luca doesn’t make it back to the campsite, and makes another stupid decision to seek refuge in the cave of the cultists. I guess this can be excused, since from her perspective the chance of Luca being caught by the knights is actually very high, and this decision is made out of pure desperation. I never liked the “princess is in another castle” shtick, but here it serves to move the plot towards the eventual encounter.

I never fully understood the mechanics of Puck’s visibility to mortals. It was implied that those of closemind and narrow worldview would find it harder to see him, but here we are told that larger crowds further hide his presence. I guess things are more easily concealed when there is more commotion. There is also a shallow attempt at explaining Isidro’s backstory, but given the rapid pacing of the episode this can be excused, as it would’ve bogged down the flow if it was given too much focus. He might be a silly kid, but at least he’s honest and to the point. From his view it definitely seems as if he’s found himself quite a master in Guts, and there’s safety in being under his wing. Little does he know how much of a magnet Guts truly is to danger, and considering that he learned his skills firsthand in a mercenary camp, Gut’s utility as a sword instructor is at the very least highly questionable. Nevertheless, he pursues Nina and Casca towards the cave.

Next there is the reappearance of Joachim, as he spills the bean about the location and activities of the cultists. A soldier also breaks the news of Guts to a visibly shocked Farnese, as the main thing she was trying to avoid has finally come to find her. Her reluctance in facing Guts definitely plays a part in their decision to give priority to hunting the cultists. There is some irony in the fact that the gravitation of the common people to these cults is directly related to their struggles under the Holy See’s oppression. The tighter the grip, the heavier the backlash against it.

We’re welcomed back to the cave, and it seems that this episode has given it a livelier look, as a bright magenta color palette prevails the tone of the scene. There also appears to be some improvements to the textures, with the ground and the cave walls having a more detailed look to them. I personally always enjoyed the symbolism of the crown of thorns that they place on Casca, although I admit that it is more for show than pertaining to anything deep. Nina is being prepared to be sacrificed for the union of the Great Goat and Casca, who as we remember is being worshiped as an idol of the cult. The world of Berserk heavily revolves around the concept of sacrifice. The cave seems to be located within a certain interstice, as a place where the barrier between the physical world and the astral realm is particularly weak. This is further intensified by the presence of Casca, which yet again summons the ghosts of those who were sacrificed to possess the cultists.

Next we get a full-on zombie brawl, as the Iron Chain Knights converge on the location of the cave. Well, in reality it’s more of a slaughter than an actual battle. I like to take the time to say that I really enjoy the design of the visor on Farnese’s helmet, here portrayed with an even more exaggerated length than the manga. Isidro proves his worth, as he buys some time until Puck can fly and get Guts. It is revealed that the Great Goat is not really of any supernatural essence, but just a man donning a ceremonial goat head. This quickly changes as the Egg Apostle sires the Great Goat, and makes him a true apostle-spawn. I’ll be getting into the Egg Apostle’s story in later reviews.

I seriously thought that what ensues will be toned down, but lo and behold, we are greeted to yet another demonic rape attempt. I guess after the infamous Rape Horse I should be expecting the series to stick close to these specific elements of the source material. Here we have some familiar workaround female nudity, as well as a peculiar censorship of some violence. I think this is a good place to delve a little bit into the strange censorship laws placed on the Japanese media. The regulations regarding anime censorship are strangely specific, with varying levels of rationalizations. There is much leeway in the graphic portrayal of violence when the subject is considered “otherworldly”. This means that a zombie, monster, or any evil creature can be shown to be straight ripped apart, while human victims need to be toned down to either simple stabbing or details being subject to black bars and omissions. There are similar laws regarding nudity, and more specifically the male reproductive organ. As Toshio Maeda of Urotsukidōji fame came to realize back in the 80’s, a regular human penis can under no circumstance be portrayed in media, while any phallic or “penis-like appendage” is completely acceptable under article 175 of the Criminal Code of Japan. And hence, the inclusion of the snake penis.

As things seem to be reaching a critical level, we are greeted to another badass Guts entrance, this time in the form of what can only be called a ‘Batman moment’. He emerges from the shadows, swiftly maneuvering down to the pit, and making mince-meat out of the possessed cultists. The Dragonslayer dances with little resistance, as the cavelight gives a Sword of Moonlight blue hue to its blade. As we get passed the nasty goat circumcision, we are thrilled by a much-awaited reunion of our two estranged lovers, as their meeting gaze speaks much more than anything that could be uttered here.

Overall this one was a faster, denser, and dare I say better episode than the last few that we’ve had in Albion. There are many confrontations in store, and the stage is nearly set for one of the most iconic moments in the history of Berserk. I have my work cut out for me, as I’m jumping right into the next review as soon as this one is posted. Stay tuned for more, as I rush to make up for lost time.

~Bam~

Posted on 6 August 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

The episode picks up where the last one left off, with the lakeside haunting of Casca and Nina. We see the brand attracting ghouls followed by the Demon Child warding them off. For those who might be unfamiliar with the franchise, the Demon Child is Casca’s infant, and it’s been corrupted by the Godhand form of Griffith, Femto. The child’s powers were never clearly explained, but it’s safe to assume that he takes a bit after his stepfather. This will be further explored in the coming chapters.

The next scene marks the return of the Skull Knight. I’m definitely disappointed that we didn’t get to see the fight between Guts and the Wheel Skeletons. It’s not really a crucial scene, but given the iconic design of the monsters it is still a letdown. Skull Knight warns Guts of the significance of the ‘hawk dream’ which apparently was shared with him as well. Guts calls him “old man” which is a bit of an understatement, given that he’s at least a thousand years old.

Speaking of millennia, the Skull Knight explains that an Eclipse-like event is about to unfold, which takes place every thousand years. It’s unclear if he’s referring to the general descend of the Godhand, or specifically to the rebirth ceremony. It is widely believed that the he is the psedo-apostle form of another character in the Berserk universe called Emperor Gaiseric. He supposedly united the nations of Midland over a thousand years ago. Later in the episode we learn that the emperor imprisoned a man that refused to deny his sins. The prisoner must’ve been in the possession of a Behelit, as his trial ends with an Eclispe. This occurrence causes the empire to crumble, and earlier in the story we see the remains of branded bodies in the tower where Griffith was being held prisoner. It’s unknown if Gaiseric ever became a Godhand and then later reborn, or gained his powers from a separate source.

The scene comes to a close with Guts asserting his intention of saving Casca, no matter what gets in his way. I have to say that it’s refreshing to see this defiant side of Guts again. His resolute attitude and disregard for warnings and danger is a core part of his personality, and one of the main reasons why he’s such a beloved character. He fights on against all odds, and his neverending struggle is symbolic to the spirit of survival that keeps pushing all humanity forward. This charming arrogance is sorely missing from some of the new chapters of the manga. Readers who are staying up-to-date probably know what I’m talking about. He has been portrayed uncharacteristically timid in the newer installments. This might be due to character growth, but I’m hoping that it’s temporary, and that we’ll soon get to see the true berserker in action.

We switch back to the Tower of Conviction, as a doubtful Farnese is reflecting on the state of affairs. There is a subtle juxtaposition of the relative prosperity of the Holy Iron Chain Knights, set against the hunger and famine that continue to ravage the land outside. If you’ve been paying attention, there are frequent close-up shots of Farnese throughout the series. I realized that the reason for these is most likely because the close angles hide the uncanniness of the CGI, and create a more drawn look to her face. Moving on, we get to see the prostration of Mozguz, and him reassuring Farnsese of her faith, by an appeal to blindly following the divine authority. Even in reality, blind faith is often used to give purpose to those who are distressed by uncertainty. It’s also explained how Mozguz targets the social outcasts and uses their ostracization as a tool for recruitment.

We then head back to the campsite, and are introduced to Nina’s thirsty lover, Joachim. He’s mostly used as a plot-device for the viewers to get to see the other side of Nina, as she invites him to their secret gathering. As I expected, the episode includes the infamous cave scene. Similar to the manga, the gathering is a plethora of psychedelics, sex and cannibalism. I guess now we know where Nina caught that nasty little STD. Among the storm of hedonism it seems that some curious nipple-theft is taking place, and nobody’s the wiser.  It’s surprising that so much nudity is included, especially given the fact that they were well aware of their limitations due to censorship. It’s not really a big deal, but it’s seriously distracting. The orgy scene itself is drawn minimally and awkwardly, giving it a clean and sterile look that detracts from the sense of grotesque that they were going for. No matter how much they distort the images, and draw characters off-model, this still doesn’t look all that hellish. The cannibalistic imagery might be the only aspect of it that is slightly unnerving. We also get a glimpse of the Goat Head, who serves as the leader of sorts to the cult. I’ll be discussing him in more detail in the upcoming episodes.

The party is interrupted when Joachim is chased out of the cave, leading to his fall into the ravine. He’s later found by the Egg-Shaped Apostle, which will be playing a crucial part in what’s to come. It’s always good to see Luca, as she takes no nonsense from Nina, and promptly starts scolding her for her stupidity. Their reconciliation doesn’t last long, as Casca’s discovery leads to an attempted rape by a group of impressively aerodynamic men, which itself is interrupted by the manifestations of some more ghosts. This scene is very awkward, since the few models they had were reused so many times, in some instances standing almost next to eachother. The saving grace is that the scene is brief, as the Demon Child yet again dispels the apparitions.

Similar to episode three, this one also has an extended post credit scene. We get to explore the backstory of both Farnese and Serpico. Farnese is engaged in almost Lady Melisandre levels of pyromania, and it is shown that this is deeply rooted in her childhood. Serpico again demostrates that he’s a sympathetic fellow, and it’s his tragic past that has brought him into the Vandimion fold; that among other things. This episode in whole was rather plain looking, and primarily used as set-up for the next one. I understand that there was no way to exclude this whole section, but I hoped that they portrayed it with some more energy. The grey muddy colors are really tiring, and at this point I can’t wait for the Eclipse to bring some change in the scenery. The next episode is called “The Black Witch” so at least we know it’ll be racist. I jest, in reality we’re going to get a big reunion, but not a particularly sweet one. Things always seem to pick up when Guts enters the picture, and so the next one is going to be a more dynamic episode

~Bam~

Posted on 31 July 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Episode 5 Starts off with Isidro, and some half-assed attempt at levity. This is really harmless, but it highlights an issue that has become apparent from the first episode. It’s widely understood that the inclusion of Puck was done to bring some light-heartedness to an otherwise grim story. But yet again this proves the point that manga and anime are widely different mediums, and what works in one doesn’t necessarily work in the other. A manga is a very fluid format. The style and design elements can be altered to communicate different concepts. It is not at all uncommon to have characters portrayed in chibi or exaggerated forms to correspond to the situation. They can also include footnotes and other remarks to clarify and explain certain things. These techniques can’t really be done the same way in an anime adaptation, or when attempted could seriously backfire. The medium of motion pictures revolves quite extensively around immersion, and things that can hinder that immersion are best to not be included in the first place. This is not to say that the combination of serious subject matter and comedy can’t be achieved,  for example,  Cowboy Bebop, Black Lagoon, Welcome to NHK and Kemonozume have all done this to varying degrees, but doing so requires a mindful approach and a delicate touch.

Thankfully the farce is soon interrupted by the Kushan hunters. Here we get another action scene, which similar to the ones up to now was just alright. There are some interesting angles and framing, but the quick cuts in editing and the unnecessary rotation take away from the action. This is exacerbated by the drops in the frame-rate. I researched the reason for this back during the first season of Knights of Sidonia, and apparently this is due to the cel shading that is done on top of the CGI. In these types of animations when the camera pans the animators need to draw in the details in almost every frame, causing the process to become seriously long and costly. The solution they came up with was to limit the number of frames, so the required number of overlay shading could be reduced. My question is that knowing their limitations, why do they include so many panning shots that aren’t even really necessary? Well the upside of the action scene is that we get to yet again hear Hirasawa’s excellent track Hai yo (Oh Ashes).  I instantly light up every time the track kicks in and the pipes swell up. He truly understands Berserk, and given his close friendship with Miura, it is not at all surprising. I only wish that he had composed the entirety of the OST.

Next we get the reintroduction of Silat and his Bakiraka clansmen. If I’m not mistaken this is the first time since the movies that he has made an appearance. Silat is an interesting case, since he’s one of the handful of characters to endure in the story past the Golden Age Arc, and although he continues to play a part he is still usually delegated to the sidelines. He was understandably removed from the 97’ adaptation, as there was no reason to include him so briefly at the end of the series. He also made an appearance in the movie trilogy in a slick action scene, but the third film failed to correctly portray the complexity of his character.  We will see how much they will develop him in the new show.

I want to point out how newcomer unfriendly this adaptation truly is. To those who have only gotten into Berserk with this new series Silat won’t be making any sense. A lot of other factors are exactly the same, with them only resonating with fans of the manga or the previous iterations. Liden Films have failed to properly communicate that this is a continuation of the movies, and yes, this is linked to the movies and not the old show, as there are flashback scenes that include segments and music directly taken from the trilogy. This might be due to some licensing issues with Studio 4°C who made the films. I am personally fine with this, as I am very familiar with the material, and the last thing I wanted was for yet another developer to go over the Golden Age Arc. I still can see a lot of new viewers passing on this show due to their confusion, and it would be a shame for people to avoid the Berserk franchise only due to this series’ lack of quality; which is the most damaging aspect of this adaptation.

The next section switches back to Albion, as we get to see Mozguz engaging in an uncharacteristic act of kindness. It doesn’t take long for the audience to be reassured of his depravity, as he moves on to torturing the mother of the child he just saved. I’m not really a fan of these sudden outbursts which are accompanied by severe character deformation. I understand that they suppose to be somewhat shocking, and aim at creating tension in the scene, but they are often just distracting. This brings to my mind a certain scene at the end of the first episode of Akame ga Kill, which has a little girl suddenly exposing her messed up nature. In fairness this isn’t as abrupt as in AgK, since Mozguz is already shown to be vile and ruthless. What I admire here is the daringness of the series, which doesn’t shy away from sex and violence. They have included things that I was certain will be dropped, so the producers are at least adamant on keeping the dark edgy side of Berserk. However I do realize that this might be done more for the sake of publicity, and not purely out of artistic integrity. I wish that the same approach was applied to the more subtle tone and subtext of the Berserk story.

Speaking of daringness, we get the return of the nippleless women, this time in the form of Luca. They should either go all the way with it or not include nudity at all, but I guess there are restrictions that are out of their control. Some suggest that these would be fixed in the Bluray release, but considering that they have to go over and draw it in every frame causes me to doubt that. We get to see a scene with Luca entertaining Jermore, a minor member of the Holy Iron Chain Knights. Luca is an interesting character, and despite being a prostitute she is still portrayed as a strong woman, who not only knows how to take care of herself but also the rest of her camp. It’s good to see a working lady portrayed in a sympathetic light, and she manages the group with almost a socialist methodology. There is also a brief exploration of wartime economics and upheavals. The kingdom of Midland doesn’t seem to catch a break, with the Kushan invasion happening on the heels of the recent conclusion of the hundred year war with the Chuder Empire. The passing of the king has only added to the social instability, and this can be seen by the ubiquity of famine and poverty. For most people hope seems to have faded, and they all do whatever it takes just to survive. The stoning scene shows how ruthless people have become. Being from the Middle East myself, I know how average people can act in horrific ways. When individuals are themselves under pressure they find catharsis in having any sense of control. It is probably not by chance that such crisis has consumed the land, setting up the stage for a certain someone to make his return. There is also a brief introduction of the rest of Luca’s group, but Nina is really the only one of any importance. We get to see her plight, and it’s implied that syphilis is now commonplace.

The episode ends with a scene between Guts and Isidro. Despite being a goofy little brat, it’s clear that Guts sees a bit of himself in the kid, persuading him to let Isidro stick around. After the so-called “epihpany” at Godo’s house it appears that Guts has calmed down a little bit, causing him to warm up and let go of his constant rage. It’s interesting to see how close they’ve been following the manga in the recent episodes. Looks like the sporadic script of the first few ones might’ve been growing pains, and they have now found their groove, and are now simply attempting to tell the story. The next episode is “A Nighttime Feast: Burning at the Stake” implying that it might be multi-episode chapter. I’m getting the sense that we might be getting the ‘cave scene’ after all. The majestic Skull Knight is also making his reappearance. Berserk 2016 has serious issues, no doubt, but I would be lying if I’d said that I’m not enjoying myself to some extent. It is a treat to get a new Berserk at the end of the week, and unfortunately when anticipation rises the wait for the next episode only grows longer.

~Bam~

Posted on 30 July 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

I wanted to start off by apologizing for the late review, as well as giving some general information and my overall impression of the new series. I’ve been a Berserk fan for quite a while, and both the 97’ series and the Berserk manga are among my top 5 anime/manga of all time. I was quite excited when news of the new adaptation broke back in December, and same as everyone else got heartbroken upon watching the initial preview. Still I reserved hope, and was eager for the premier. As I was watching the first episode my disappointment grew with every passing minute. Unlike most fans my discontent wasn’t merely based on the animation quality or the plot deviations and omissions, since for me those were expected, but rather the overall tone of the series which I felt was off by a large margin. Nothing expresses the disconnection as much as the intro. Everything from the music, to choice of content, to the execution felt very misguided. The original anime overcame its shortcomings by creating a dense atmosphere, and a lot of that was achieved through Susumu Hirasawa’s moody and unconventional soundtrack. The opening song itself is alright, but the problem lies with its relation to the grim content of the story. I completely understand the other authors of this blog’s disenchantment with the show, and don’t support the idea of having the reviews forced on someone who doesn’t enjoy covering the series; as the result is often a steep decline in the quality of the posts. I personally have come to terms with the animation, and will only comment on it when something is out of the ordinary. I’ll try to keep the comparisons to the manga at a minimum, and will aim to judge the new series on its own merit. With that being said, let’s move on to the review of episode 4 ‘Epiphany’.

We are now well into the Conviction Arc, and approaching the end of the Binding Chain chapter. I’m surprised by how fast the show is progressing, yet the pacing of this episode was relatively well done, with ample time being set aside for character development. The episode starts off with guts’ vision of Casca on a pyre. We also get a glimpse of the Demon Child, as he urges Guts to seek Casca at the ‘Holy Ground’. This prompts him to head back to Godo’s house to check on her. It’s in this section where we get most of the character development, as Guts realizes his mistake of leaving Casca behind to pursue his vendetta against the Godhand. This is actually quite a crucial moment, as it’s the turning point for Guts’ plans and ambitions. It might not appear so in the show, but Guts has spent a long time away chasing ghosts (apparently two years) as Casca was left to suffer alone in the mine. I always felt that Miura didn’t really layout the story ahead of time, and probably initially planned to have Guts as a lone swordsman seeking justice. This is somewhat apparent from the Berserk Prototype, which has Guts on a revenge spree against the “Apostles of Vana” for slaughtering his mom. We also see this in the Black Swordsman Arc, which has little to no mention of surviving allies, and only the Demon Child left as a stark reminder of what has befallen him.

Moving on, we’re reintroduced to a slightly older, but much more mature Rickert, and later Erica brings Guts to the Hill of Swords. This is to further hammer in the point, both as a tribute to the Band of the Hawk, as well as reminding Guts that he has to focus on the few loved ones that remain. This is actually borrowed from a real practice of erecting symbolic graves, usually plain white crosses, for victims of war or natural disasters whose bodies couldn’t be reclaimed. This location will again come into play a bit later in the story. From the original Hawks only Guts, Rickert and Casca have survived, and now the more important one has gone missing, which motivates Guts to drop the pointless headhunting and go look for her. Although I don’t particularly care for the emotional pleas of Erica, it serves the purpose of knocking some sense into Guts, so I didn’t really mind it that much. We are also introduced to the Beast of Darkness, which is as a manifestation of Guts’ darker side and hidden desires. There’s also the coup de grâce from the ever-so-shirtless Godo, as he gives his last to repair the Dragonslayer. Their farewell is short, yet appropriate, since as Godo himself puts it “It’s better than getting all weepy” and it’s good to see a character staying true to the end.

The last sequence of the episode switches back to the Holy Iron Chain Knights, now tasked with escorting Mozgus the grand inquisitor of the Holy See to the tower of conviction; although it’s unclear why he would need any protection in the first place. We also get to see an original action scene, which in itself is not that spectacular, but serves to show the ruthlessness of Mozguz and his twisted ideology. The bible headsmash is taken directly from the manga, albeit toned down a few notches, but the torture scene with the Logarius’ Wheel is sufficient enough in getting the point across. Farnese is adamant at first, but is soon distressed from witnessing the horrible torture of the villagers, further weakening her faith and trust of the church. There’s also a brief glimpse of the elite tortures, as well as the prostitute Luca, which sets up the board for the rest of the chapter.

Overall I would say that this episode showed quite a few improvements over the previous ones. The CGI and the 2D animation were integrated more seamlessly, and the show took a much-needed break from the lightning-fast pacing to focus on the characters. The coloring and shading on some of the models during the carriage scene, particularly the armors, were enjoyable. Mozguz seems to be primarily rendered in 3D, and given his round physique it creates a Katamari look to him that diminishes his threatening presence. The next episode is titled ‘The Tower of Conviction’, so it looks like we’re going straight into the birth ceremony. Isidro and the Kushan scouts will also make an appearance. I’m hoping that they don’t skip some of the in-between material, particularly an infamous cave scene. The upside of this late review is that the wait for the next episode will be especially brief.

~Bam~

Posted on 20 July 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Forgive me for the delay on this particular post but I must admit that in light of Berserks quality my interest in covering it has somewhat declined. I know that for every episode to come I will have to dance around the elephant in the room but this series isn’t making that easy for me. As when coming close to enjoying the show I am constantly pulled out of it. My experience of watching Berserk is essentially a game of denial as I try to pretend the ugly visuals don’t exist. Perhaps I should find it cathartic as Berserk is a series which by its very nature is ugly. The things that make Berserk stand out as a series is it’s pure unapologetic brutality. Rape, gore, death of children and every uncomfortable theme you can think of is par for the course for Berserk. It is very much a pulp fantasy work and likely one of the finest in manga history. Plenty have tried to imitate but few have matched it’s glory. A true Berserk anime should be quite nightmarish considering the creatures that could have walked out of a Clive Barker novel, however the anime looks to be nightmarish for entirely different reasons.

Todays episode bring in some anime original content and if hearsay is to be believed, this was written by the mangaka of Berserk himself, Kentaro Miura. However when examining the content itself I must question what was the need for it. My original thoughts were that Miura was supplanting the less TV friendly aspects of the series by adding in different content. However the dark aspects are still here so I wonder why the change was needed. In the manga Gut fought a bunch of demon dogs till dawn and Farnese was nearly raped by a possessed horse. In this anime the exact same thing happened but instead we have the addition of a mansion and a encounter with a demon apostle. The encounter doesn’t add much of anything besides confirm that Guts is after revenge. It reminds me of a point in the manga where out of nowhere Miura decided to dedicate two chapters to a flashback with Gut’s meeting a fairy. The story itself was good but it’s reasoning and overall presence in the plot is utterly insignificant. It came at a time when Miura needed to get a move on and push the story to a climax but instead he decided to put in a filler story. This feels much the same, the fight against this dog demon is rather entertaining but when you plan to cover over sixty 30 page chapters in a single cour I think you don’t have time to waste on events that put the main plot on standstill.

However what really bugs me is that they adapted events of the manga and made them lesser. In particular there is a line Guts says about the demons reminding him of how he felt when he started all this. In the anime Gut’s just throws out this line upon meeting the apostle and it doesn’t have the same impact. In the manga Gut’s sees the horse about to rape Farnese and is suddenly reminded of Griffins rape of Caska. Which cause him to be filled with rage and say that line. It was a pretty powerful line and it just confuses me as to why they would keep the horse attempted rape and yet move the line to a different scene. What’s also puzzling is the sound design where they essentially decided that everything Guts hits with his sword will make a clang sound. I understand the idea of emphasising that his sword is more a huge hunk of metal instead of a blade but it really doesn’t make sense to have a sword clang when he’s cutting transparent beings or dogs made of flesh and bone.

It becomes quite distracting once you notice it. There is also the matter of Farnese’s non existence nipples. It’s likely something to be fixed in the blu-ray releases but I find it funny the priorities censorship has. Apparently the depiction of female’s nipples is out of the question yet showing a scene of forced Bestiality is apparently fine? I mean sure you darkened the scene but you still show her getting clearly molested by that horse. What is the point of censorship when it doesn’t censor the most damning aspect? This is the kind of thing that leads to weird fetishes forming. Where the story goes from now is a good question, Farnese has gone through an ordeal which has shaken her faith and put her in a rather compromised position. In particularly her rather kinky possession which lead her to nearly kill Guts while asking him to split her in two with his sword is certainly a story she wouldn’t want circled around the Knights. Her pride could very well lead her to hunt Guts down till her dying breath. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned after all.

~AidanAK47~

Posted on 12 July 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Well this isn’t going to be an easy watch for me. Back in the days I was just getting into anime and manga I happened upon a series called Berserk. I watched it, really liked it and then went to read the manga. Eventually I read it up to date but over time I lost interest in it due to the ever slow release of chapters and just the story being stuck in a dull arc with no end in sight. I truly pity the fans of the series as their suffering must be immense. To such a degree that just the act of Gut’s making it off a boat after seven years is a cause of massive celebration. To make matters worst it has not fared well in regards to animated adaptions. The first adaption is the best and manages to be a good watch. However the animation is bare bones and it left off on the cliffhanger of the century. Several years without a sequel until a new series of movies came out which covered the events of the anime series. The movies had better looking 2d animation but suffered from poor CGI during battle scenes. Regardless this gave fans hope that this could lead to the possibility of the rest of the manga getting adapted but sadly this wasn’t the case as the series was left to the side again. Now here we are with a brand new adaption covering material never adapted before and we shall finally see the rest of berserk in its true glory….right? We it’s times like this that I wonder if Miura named his manga series rather appropriately, for the fans are most certainly berserk and for good reason.

The episode reviews are likely going to beat this point to the ground but when it’s as glaring an issue as it is I must bring it up. The CGI animation is truly awful, there’s no getting around that. It’s ugly, jarring and unnatural. However the main issue with this animation choice is the lack of consistency for that is what is causing the vast majority of problems. I have watched fully CGI shows before and I can tolerant even bad CGI or awkward CGI. Bubuki Buranki I think did an excellent job with it’s CGI animation and Knights of Sidonia still had a compelling narrative that allowed you to look past stiff motions or off putting shots. But those two series had a consistently in it’s style whereas Berserk does not. Berserk switches between 3D animation, 3D animation with sketch overlays and 2D animation and in doing so it never allows the viewer to become accustomed to a style. It’s especially jarring because of the difference in quality between each style. When you finally start to accept the uncanny CGI models, the story switches to 2D animation and gives you a glimpse to the quality this series could have had. Even if this meant we would get more still frames and less animation, this is the Berserk the fans would be happy with. But then it jerks you back to the CGI which when it switches to a sketch style becomes somewhat passable but keeps jerking between passable and bad, never letting the viewer settle into a style. Berserks high quality art style is one of it’s highest points of praise for the manga and I like it the most for just how expressive it makes the characters. There may be some who say that we should give them a break and that the CGI is the best the studio can do but I say nay. For there is a Berserk Musou game coming out and the animation in that games trailer tops everything this series has displayed.

What makes this especially sad is that there are moments, moments when the quality of the story shines through. I look at this anime as a diamond covered in mud and at some times the mud slides off and the shine of the diamond flows through but a minute later they throw muck over it again. The scene with Guts getting integrated by the knight commander, him in the cage getting worried over the demons beginning to come after him, Guts running to attack the female commander, the moments of the manga adapted true then manage to help you forget about the quality of the shows visuals. However it isn’t only the visuals at fault for there are other problems. In particular the conversation between Guts and the vice commander had far too fast pacing, to a degree that it felt on fast forward. Puck tends to break immersion when her turns into his chibi form and overall his character isn’t very likable in his current form. Small details are getting lost such as the Female Knight commander actually enjoying whipping Guts which is a pretty big part of her character and this arcs theme overall. Which mainly has to do with religious fanaticism and how people use it to justify their own base desires. I am also not fond of the hint of tidings of more anime original content which regardless of whether it’s written by Miura or not isn’t what this series needs. For now I see Berserk as a tough watch in that it takes a lot of tolerance to look past it’s numerous flaws and see the good in it. The studio needs to step up and keep a consistent style, otherwise this will be as disappointing as when Miura inevitably once again puts the Manga on hiatus.

~AidanAK47~

CHANGE USERNAME
Kaiser-Eoghan
Although it was mixed in with laughing my ass of eventually.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Of all the Itou stories to be un-nerved by, its the second half of this third episode oddly that does it for me and I never get uncomfortable during anything .
AidanAK47
@Anon, We are working on it.
Anonymous1742736
Are you planning on making a top anime of 2017 list?
Amagi
Yeah Mash is one of the few good ones it seems.
Amagi
Oh damn, good that you remind me, I didn't pick anything yet. But I guess I will go with Altera, considering that some of them don't look that good and I own her anyway. Would have wanted the Scat one but the drawing looks weird.
AidanAK47
Which Bond CE did you pick for the 2 mill? I went with the Mash one. Only only whose artwork I liked.
AidanAK47
Might settle for making Bryn my endgame lancer though.
AidanAK47
As I said in my Apocrypha post, I have no interest in any version of Jeanne. My top priorities for my endgame team is Isekander, Scathach and assassin Shiki. And Shiki is a welfare so only need to worry about the other two.
Amagi
Yeah, I was considering to keep rolling for the new 4* at first but I really want Jeanne Alter and she's coming soon.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, I tried rolling for Karna and got nothing. Though I think Bryn is better. I plan on rolling one more time with the saint quartz we are getting to try for NP2. Though we do have the valintines event coming.
Amagi
@Aidan: Same here, just got Brynhildr. Even though I already got Karna last month. But I wanted her, nice design, finally a single-targed 5* and she's even one of the few servants related to my country.
KTravlos
@SuperMario. The contemplation of the death of humanity, and the loneliness, both were very disturbing to me. Kinda like thinking of my grave.
AidanAK47
YANDERE GET. Bryn's mine baby.
AidanAK47
Gonna try rolling for Brynhildr tomorrow. Bit annoyed they chose to translate it as Brynhild. I mean it's not incorrect but her name is far more recognisable as Brynhildr
AidanAK47
@Amagi, The grind wasn't that bad for me. Mordred carried me for it. Though I managed to get Siegfried in the gacha despite not being on rate up. I admit that the event was rather lackluster. Story wasn't that fun and the whole saber restriction was a pain. Also gonna take me a while to readjust to regular damage.
Amagi
Man that FGO Saber Wars event was annoying. I am happy finally I have 2 mio. altrium now and am done with it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Reminder that netflix Godzilla anime is later today.
Amagi
Damn I didn't noticed that ankle band of the little demon from the intro scene of FranXX 01, now I feel stupid.
Lenlo
Yuasa is great! Ping pong and Tatami Galaxy are still some of my favorites
SuperMario
Oh fuck, the lead singer of the Cranberries passed away. I literally just listened to their music yesterday. Damnn, sad news
SuperMario
@Kaiser; thanks for considering me but I believe Wooper is much more a Yuasa's fan than I am
SuperMario
Far out!!!
SuperWooper
Yuasa will be answering questions on Reddit's anime board on the 20th.
SuperMario
@Niello: what do you mean regarding Yuasa?
SuperMario
@Travlos: I agree that Girls Last Tour is a special little gem, but in what ways it's disturbing?
Niello
Holy cow, Masaaki Yuasa AMA!! What magic is this?
Niello
Meawhile, Japan took a different approach and we ends up with a bunch of .hack rehash and diving more and more into escapism. Until we eventually got isekai and then it just spiraled into a sea of mediocrity.
Niello
While that opened its own can of worms, at least it opens up element about making ends meet, managing irl relationships, earning extra income for a poor family, getting cheated etc.
Niello
in the characters real life just fine. Something more a long the line of Net-juu but more technologically advanced. And I would say that plenty of those have been superior to Japanese online game and isekai story shenanigans. That said, it doesn't mean that those don't have their own kind of traps they usually fall in. A bunch of those instead focus on the aspect of making money off of games.
Niello
...Getting stuck in a virtual reality game and being transport to another world that happens to be like a game are completely different though. I don't know what is it with Japan and getting stuck in game plots considering that there are loads of other game-base Asian novels that came before it that manage story lines where they manage to tell compelling stories in game while balancing what happen
KTravlos
I finally finished Girls Last Tour. What a profound, fluffy and disturbing masterpiece. Bravo.
Amagi
Yeah. I feel the world swap is pretty much pointless when real life isn't relevant anymore. It's just a stupid as hell excuse to combine fantasy wish fullfilment with self-inserts, which is why these main characters tend to be 29 by now, just like the big part of the otaku community.
Lenlo
Of those you listed, no, I dont think they get explained? I mean, SAO did, but I dont think that falls into your category.

Thats why I liked .hack//sign over alot of more modern game Isekai. Also .hack//sign did explain what happened to Tsukasa.
Amagi
Considering how bad most of these are I wouldn't wonder if they wouldn't even bother with an explanation and just end it with the characters being happy in that game world and that's it. Or magic and the whole harem gets transported into reality at the end because power of love and such.
Amagi
I have no problem with a sci-fi fantasy mix, I liked .hack//sign for example, but it annoys me that such an incredibly bizarre situation gets never explained. Or maybe it will but it never happened so far because none of these LNs was ever finished and concluded yet. I just wish to know how they explain that.
Amagi
I mean all those shows in which the character just finds himself stuck in a real world that's (coincidentally?) the same as the game he recently played. Be it Overlord, Death March, Log Horizon or the 300 other series with that premise.
Amagi
Some thing that always bothered me about game isekai for which I never got an answer so far: did any of those series ever end and/or explain how the warp has happened and why the MC is in the game? - Not talking about .hack, SAO and such where the action of getting trapped is part of the premise
Niel
@Eoghan - Btw, Kokkoku isn't a time travel. it's stasis, apparently. Looks very promising so far. Though if I am to trust the manga score, it's shit.
Niel
But is Toradora really slice of life? As far as I can see it's straight up romance.
Lenlo
And Mario, ill rag on SOL all I want! :P

Wooper, its true good shows transcend genre, as there are still some like Toradora I like, but those are exceptions that prove the rule so to speak.
Lenlo
@Niel, yeah I base my potential % on the odds something gets/stays good.
AidanAK47
I am of similar mindset about Franxx. I want it to get better but I don't really see it doing so. Unless the other characters get a majority personality boost or the MC stops being a plank.
Niel
XD
Kaiser-Eoghan
I confess....I only sat through just over half an episode of aldonoah.
Niel
Since it's Trigger, I will give the benefit of the doubt. I'm just very skeptical about this whole formula.
Niel
The way I can see this series improving is through world building. And if other aspects are going to improve too, it's going to revolve around that.
Niel
It leaves about as much impression on me as much as the first episode of Aldnoah did, and I dropped that one straight away. The character chemistry doesn't look like it will go places that's not cliche. The gimmick doesn't seem like it has much potential either.
Niel
So you're all betting it on "this is going to get better". I mean, I hope it gets better. Though right now this feels more Kiznaiver than Kill la Kill or LWA.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'd nominate Mario to do the devilman review as he's the most immediate Yuasa fan to do it and Bam is too awol to write it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The cute girl shows just bleed and blend in my mind now, same with the isekai shows.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Devilman, my show of the season, unless after the rain ends up having some emotional wallop.
Kaiser-Eoghan
So for me its looking like: Junji itou, Cardcaptor sakura, keeping up with sangatsu, wait and see on amegari . Not watching a time travel or trigger show and I remain unable to sit through Mahoutsukai .
Amagi
The story itself is generic so far but so are most Trigger series at the beginning so not sure. Maybe it will stay weak, but in general I prefer series that start with the weaker episodes and get better and better over time over the many series that use up all of their budget and trump cards in the first episode and drag on after that.
Amagi
I really love Trigger's esthetics and their characters. I am happy they're more often involved in non-trigger-only productions because I honestly think that most of the stuff I enjoyed about FranXX was heavily influenced by them.
SuperMario
@Nielo: Franxx's first ep was stellar for me. Storywise, it's lackluster (and I see the similar in tropes between this and Beatless) but production-wise it's excellent
SuperMario
I think I just keep watching it on a weekly basis. Still trippy as hell
SuperMario
Okay, I just watched second episode of Devilman Crybaby and it's still pretty good.
Nielo
By the way, what's up with Darling in the Franxx? I thought it's a very weak first episode.
Nielo
@Lenlo: Slice of life isn't my thing either, and I usually avoid series set in high school.
Nielo
@SuperMario: Takagi-san is cute, I'll admit that, but since I already read the manga it's not new to me. Sora Yori is good, but it's not particularly cute. I found Hakumei to Mikochi and Yuru Camp very boring. Haven't got the chance to watch Mitsuboshi Colors or Gakuen Babysisters but I don't think they could be more cute than Mii-kun.
SuperWooper
HOT TAKE: Genre is irrelevant. What matters is whether a show is good.
SuperMario
Don't knock off MY genre Lenlo. It's one of the reason I got into anime in the first place :)
Lenlo
Im not saying it doesn't do what it sets out to. I just don't think what it sets out to do is all that... great.
Lenlo
@Niello, Slice of Life was never my Genre in the first place :/ I typically avoid them. I have my own life to deal with and already graduated high school, why would I want to deal with a melodramatic anime highschool, is my line of thought.
SuperMario
@Niello: okay, let's see:Takagi-san (the titular character), Mitsuboshi Colors, Gakuen Babysisters (Toddlers!!), Hakumei to Milochi (tiny girls) and two more slightly more mature but equally cute: Sora Yori and Yuru Camp's casts
Nielllo
@SuperMario: I'm sure this is where our definition of "cute" parts way, but I'll ask anyway, what are those 5 shows?
SuperMario
@Niello: seems so because I can eaisily pick 5 more shows that are cuter, and better than Mummy this season ;)
Nielllo
...So I suppose I'm the only one who's kinda bored out by a lot of the slice of life shows that's trying to be cute this season and only perked up by the Mummy anime because it's actually do what it's meant to do and be legit cute.
Lenlo
I am interested in Koi, but still have concern about the relationship itself.

@Vonter, the mummy anime would be better as short vignettes together I feel.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Koi amegari is surprisingly tasteful, subdued and pretty.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*to where
Kaiser-Eoghan
Try as I might, my love of kyoani tv anime has largely evaporated did where I no longer want to bother at this stage, I'll just wait and see. I'll just stay quiet on the franxx anime, theres little value in me trying to get through a trigger work at this point.
SuperMario
I get the exact same feeling with Takagi-san. It's pretty good on what it does but 20 minutes of the same thing for a whole season doesn't sound that promising
Vonter
The chibi mummy anime
Vonter
It's a shame it isn't a shorter 10 or 5 minute series, I think that format would make it shine more, since it does what it's trying to do.
Amagi
Speaking of it, I liked the second episode of Kokkuko or whatever the name is even more than the first one.
Amagi
I really have a problem with all these shows that rely on one single thing, joke, shenanigan or whatever. Be it something cute, some certain kind of interactiong or whatever. It doesn't matter how good it is it will bore me with episode 2.
Lenlo
Like, yeah, the mummy was cute. But the cute became rote/bland really quick. There has to be more than "cute" to be worth watching for more than a single episode to me.
Lenlo
@Niello, I was harsh because its not aimed at me. I wanted to drop it 5 minutes in, kept up for the post, then was thankful it was over. There wasnt anything overtly bad about it. Its just there was nothing good either.
AidanAK47
To be fair it's not as if we are lacking cute in this season.
In fact it's in danger of inflation.
SuperMario
@Niello: yes, the mummy is cute, the show is cute but beside that it's pretty mediocre. That show in particular is the only show that I have the damnest time to give it a potential rating.
Niello
It's not even down because of legal reasons, since the site pull down contents that are lincensed. It's down cause it's too much for the site owner to manage. Much of it also have to do with too many bots, which comes back to how a lot of other sites are relying on batoto.
Niello
@Masky: Not enough manga titles are getting translated. Batoto is the site scanlation groups basically rely on, and where other aggregation sites pull their content from. No batoto no obscure titles, a big blow to small scantation groups and one big manga/scanlator community down.
Niello
Why are you guys so harsh on the mummy show? It's so darn cute. Give it some credit. If a comedy show can be good because it does comedy well I don't see why a show ike Mummy can't be good if it can make people go "aww".
Masky
I don't really know why that is the case, maybe marketing budget and UI friendliness when done right? :P
Masky
Eh, wouldn't say it will kill manga industry. I mean, more and more official methods of reading manga online is starting to pop up and legit channels to pay to get access to manga can surprisingly enough harm free channels to get manga.
Masky
Anyway, I do find it funny how how the isekai character dies can be so meaningless that is joke in most of them
Niello
Batoto is going down, how this affect the manga reading is going to be interesting. Hope it's not slowly dying.
Masky
(at least that one, besides forgetting to introduce what the heck is gimmick besides generickness, acknowledged how most of otaku mcs shouldn't erally want to get transferred to fantasy world since they never get to see how their favourite mangas end :P )
Masky
Anyhoo, it gets annoying since its not just isekai being cliche, sometimes is just them being kind of badly written(or at least adapted to manga). Like, I found one new isekai today, but I have no idea what its gimmick is(from what I understood, its that "cute companion" that character gets is hideously op because mc didn't spefy cute girl when he asked god manager dude for cute companion)
Masky
Slime one is one of better from the more generic ones weirdly enough :P I mean I still wouldn't call it good, but at least MC character isn't god tier, just top tier and it has sort of village building simulation feel to it. Plus at least naming things giving monsters more powers is something funny regarding jrpg mechanics
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or alternatively the car was on a boat with the character or parents in it and the boat and car were hit by a falling plane lol
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its always "car accident" that sends the characters to another world or in harem cases "Lost parents due to car crash", for christs sake doesn't anyone die in out of control plane or speedboat crashes anymore, at least make it a motorbike....
Nayrael
Ah sorry, should probably not have touched the colors...
Nayrael
Trust me, Isekai is better when it doesn't try to be imaginative. When it tries to be original then... Isekai with a Smartphone... Isekai where the MC turns into a Slime... and my favorite: Isekai where the MC became a Hot Spring popular with sexy girls.
Masky
Assuming "new" things can happen under the sun
Masky
Anyhoo, I do wonder what the heck will be next "popular genre trope that will become so overused cliche that everyone groans whenever show uses it even if its actually good show"
Masky
Like, seriously you could do really interesting story variant on isekai with that if done right. Suddenly becoming characters you have roleplayed would be trippy as hell espicially if one of characters went really into detail with backstory while one of them is just "Bob the fighter, he likes fighting" and has to deal with what happens when you assume life of such a person
Masky
But I wouldn't honestly be surprised because of my anger issues related to amount of unimaginative isekai :P Though I guess trpg based one would be more imaginative in comparison
Masky
I'd assume not since I assume tabletop rpgs are much more niche than jrpgs in japan
Masky
So has anyone yet done isekai where guys getting transferred were playing trpg? :P
KTravlos
quite happy with most recent Attack of Titan manga chapter.
SuperMario
Alright, one more impression post to go before we really get on to new season
SuperMario
@Kaiser: yep, I just fixed it. Thank you
Kaiser-Eoghan
*than just the reviewers names
Kaiser-Eoghan
A slight problem with the coding there in the newest impression, showing code gobbledeegook rather than the reviewers names above their impressions.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I'm seeing it on 2nd of February.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Late screeners generally leak shortly after the uk release, so maybe early Febbruary it'll be online?
SuperMario
@Kaiser: yep, Phantom Thread. Could be Daniel Day Lewis's final performance. Is it available online already?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Did you know that Paul Thomas Anderso8n has a new film coming out? Also I found out there is a Polish semi-knockoff of purple rose of cairo.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Awesome, just got myself an invite to a secret private torrent site =)
K-Off
@Kaiser When I was in University, I was a waiter at a Korean-owned Japanese Sushi restaurant with a kitchen staff of entirely Mexicans with poor English. The owner, while he provided the rest of his staff with small meals during our lunch or dinner shifts, never game any to the kitchen staff. The guy even ranted to a customer about how "lazy" or "ignorant" they were.
K-Off
Buses are pretty common in America, even outside the major super-cities like LA, NYC, or Chicago. It's public rail you're thinking of that we don't have much of outside the cities.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I brought up the racisim/aunt story wondering if anyone had any horror stories about where they worked?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Bokusen: Buses don't seem to be a thing in America, meanwhile over here, despite traffic, public transport is much more of a thing, couldn't imagine not getting a train or bus somewhere.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi. I must say you changed my positive view of the German education system.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: And yet Austria gets the far right party in power and Israel also has a far right apartheid leader.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If any good came from it, her boss got banned from facebook .
Amagi
Two years ago the alt/new right hold a rally here since they're successful elsewhere with their anti-immigrant/PoC speeches. In the end it was 35 nazis vs 29.000 counter-demonstrators. The joke: when they had to leave with police protection they shouted "We are the people". Yes 35 hated bigots are surely the people, not the 29k. I laughed.
Amagi
@Kaiser-Eoghan: That aunt story is pretty shit. I am kinda happy about smartphones nowadays, you can often make photos or record speech if you are witnessing something. Also, thank God the racists in my city are very rare since antifa and leftwingers took hold of it decades ago - now 70% of people are immigrants so racists don't even tend to show up anymore.
Nielllo
Great. I don't think most of what I wrote actually appeared in the chat.
Niello
what I'm going to do in the long run.
Niello
While Liberal art colleges are really good for developing writing and reading skills, the truth is in science classes you still don't do much of that. it's also limited by general lack of equipments that you get at bigger Uni. My college don't even have engineering.
Bokusen
@Kaiser Darn it, I hate it when racists try to justify their beliefs. That guy sounds like a major jerk!
Bokusen
@Niello Ah, yeah I think I might have preferred the UK system too if they give a month to study for exams! Wow...That sounds much nicer. Oh, and yeah, I wish the US had better public transport too... After seeing Japan's public transport system, I wish the US's could be more like it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The landlords love to kickout people through unfair prices a stick their friends in instead.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Since we're on careers, it reminds me, one of my aunts telling me what a bastard her boss was, guy was a racist, she complained about it then he got rid of all the evidence linking him to it and made it seem as if she was the rascist and humiliated her in front of her Arab friends.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think we all end up getting this huge kick in the ass moment where we learn andget it together.
Kaiser-Eoghan
It gets better thankfully, grew up and am happy with this postal clerk job.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The landlord story is a common one, they still think themselves feudal lords.
Amagi
And yeah, all this neet time. Although not moving out isn't that uncommon here anymore, considering how the rent increases, especially in my region (European bank city). And if I look at my friends it seems like they've the same problems. Even those who have found their dream jobs are otherwise living a nerdy life, going to pubs at night and so on. I think a part of us will always stay twenty.
Amagi
@Kaiser-Eoghan: This "career" was exactly the same for me. I am pretty sure I wasn't even capable of thinking about my future up until, as you said, mid-twenties. There were just so many other things that interested/bothered me, school wasn't even among my top 30s or so.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: Oh how I regret not getting into novels, noe my concentration is too shit to read them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Actually I don't think teenagers even really know who they themselves actually are .
Kaiser-Eoghan
Youth is wasted on the young.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I remember wasting so many chances to properly appreciate and get into certain things when I was younger too, when I actually had the time. We have no idea how to use it at that age.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The answer is down to the kid themselves wising up early and adults needing to find a way to REALLY motivate kids.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I hated being in that position, leeching off my parents/the state.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I remember as a teenager thinking watching films/anime/playing videogames with my friends/brother would last forever, then getting a dose of reality that everyone just moved on .
Kaiser-Eoghan
and between short contracts you spend months as a neet.
Kaiser-Eoghan
You just end up bouncing between go nowhere evening/day courses that are more about putting asses on seats than actually getting anyone anywhere.
Kaiser-Eoghan
and then you find out you dossed off so much in school you can't get to grips with university.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I wouldn't recommend anyone doing what I did in my teens and early 20s, dossing off all the time, then finding out you have to wait five years to go to college as mature student, your school results are middling and not job/college useful, end up taking forever to get to the stage where you can start building up temporary job experience because no one will hire you.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Heck, as a teenager I remember pretty much living in the moment, never even thought seriously about what I wanted to do, I don't think I even thought about that my adolescence would end, pretty much rushed through my homework and never studied, stayed up all night watching anime/reading manga and playing videogames allday.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I don't think I actually matured/grew up until I was in my mid twenties.
Kaiser-Eoghan
My school never did a career prep class.
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Featured Posts

Violet Evergarden – 02 [Never Coming Back]

I’m thankful that this second episode plays out much quieter and more subtle than the first, because I’m not a fan at all with the grandeur approach of the first episode. This makes the second week of Violet slightly better than last week, but I still find myself not totally satisfied with the whole experience. […]

Kokkoku – 2 [The Second Moment]

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Dies Irae – 10/11[Einherjar/Self-Destruction Factor]

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Mahoutsukai no Yome – 12 [Better to ask the way than go astray]

Welcome to the end of Mahoutsukai’s first cour! Apologies for the lateness of this review. I had expected another to come out over Christmas and to simply do a double feature, but Mahoutsukai pulled on over on me! This week we finish up Chise’s wand, get to see Grandfather Nevin again and have an almost […]

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Houseki no Kuni (Fall 2017) Review – 92/100

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Girls’ Last Tour (Fall 2017) Review – 86/100

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