Posted on 1 April 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Schwarzesmarken

Schwarzesmarken is a strange title in that it has a setting with fantastic potential yet the story is dampened by a rushed pacing and Missing characterisation. Despite this there are signs of a greater story under the hood and at times that story can shine despite haphazard adaption. The Stasi make for a great villain in how they impose a level of Orwellian control over East Germany which makes characters hold suspicions about another being a Stasi spy. All the while an Alien threat pushes East Germany into a corner as it deals with enemies both inside and outside. On top of the divided west Germany standing on the sidelines to see who schemes his way to leadership. All the while other countries dip their fingers in attempts to use Germany for its own ends. It’s all a tangled web of power struggles for a country facing total destruction which makes for some great situations which this show can become most engaging.

The strongest element of this show is its setting which is surprisingly authentic to real Germany of that time. A good amount of research went into various elements of this show. From the type of cars used to trains and even stories read to children. The internal politics of the situation are engaging and it does have a strong set of episodes around its middle regarding a character called Lise. Watching the power struggle between the governing parties helps remedy the insufficient level of character development present in the series. Characters can have drastic changes and it often feels as though a chunk of their character arc had been tossed aside to fit a one cour series. Characters who barely shared two sentences can switch from indifferent to each other to being close trusting allies. Frankly it’s jarring and makes you feel as though you accidentally missed an episode. The thing that makes this disappointing is that it’s not as if the characters are boring, if anything they do seem quite interesting. But no time is devoted to letting the viewer get to know them. So when a character dies or faces tribulations you just feel indifferent to their plight because you don’t know enough about them to truly care. The art of the show is fairly basic but the Mecha battles are fairly impressive feats of CGI animation. Music is also good but lost in the level of noise in the Mecha battles.

There is currently a demo for the visual novel of this story on Steam Greenlight. If it is well received there’s a chance of the Schwarzesmarken visual novels being brought over to the west. If that happens in the future I would recommend those Visual Novels over this anime in a heartbeat. It is pretty much guaranteed that the story is done better in the VN than in this anime and I find myself disappointed that I experience this story in its current form. For Muv Luv fans this anime should be good fanservice and it does act as a cliff notes for those not interested in the visual novel alternative. Otherwise I wouldn’t recommend this as while it does have potential, its hampered by a need to rush its way through its story in order to cover its entirely. Which has resulted in an anime which feels detached and lacking.

Posted on 31 March 2016 with categories: Schwarzesmarken

So Schwarzesmarken ends and the cheesy speeches not withstanding it not a bad ending. The Stasi are dismantled, West and East Germany have joined forces and things are looking up. However it turned out we have some causalities. The first being that white haired girl pilot whose name I can never remember and Irisdina. Not much fanfare was give for miss white hair but Irisdina got the full works. She has the satisfaction of taking out Axemann and died overlooking the birth of a new Germany. All of which is touching…if it wasn’t undermined by how she died. I give credit to her for beating the hell out of Axemann while handcuffed but she truly was screwed over when her teammate arrived with a gun and threw it to her. Instead of that teammate you know…shooting Axemann herself. It’s really hard to feel for a death that could have so easily been prevented and no matter how I try to rationalize it I can’t see any reason why she would have thought throwing the gun was better than shooting it. You can’t say she wasn’t acostumed to firearms because firearms training is a requirement for pilots. Those previous seconds shouting and throwing could have so been used to save her life and I am pretty annoyed that girl doesent hold any guilt over this.

Beatrixs goal is revealed to be a desire for Germany to sacrifice all personal identity in order to become a well oiled machine for the sole purpose of destroying BETA. Thus saving the world at the cost of East Germany’s individuality. Meanwhile Katia puts forwards that East and West Germany should put aside their differences and fight BETA together and with both their powers combined they would truly prevail. Beatrix dismisses this as idealistic nonsense and here’s the thing. I agree. Katia’s plan is really not a solution but more of a optimistic approach. That said I don’t find Beatrixs plan much of a solution either. At most her plan would end up with the same result as Katia’s which is not winning the war but rather prolonging the impending defeat. Simply put, these two people have truly no idea just how doomed Humanity is. For you see the BETA have Humanity on its last legs at this time and they haven’t even brought out the big guns yet. It would take some massive world leaping timey wimey stuff to score what could be considered a victory against them. So when hearing all this talk about hope and such I can’t help but pity these fools. I read the visual novel, I know what you face and you don’t stand a hope in hell. So all that’s left is the final battle and I find my thoughts on this series to be mixed.

Posted on 22 March 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Schwarzesmarken

Everything looks to be gearing up for the finale but with the death of Lise goes a heavy amount of emotional commitment. I fear a key problem with this show has returned and that is that it’s difficult to get invested in the events on screen when we have no attachment to the characters. Lise is dead, Irisdina is captured and Katia has been relegated to an off screen position. That leaves us with Theodor and Gretel to carry the show. Neither of the two have been all that engaging though Gretel does have moments. Theodor has reached the end of his arc at this point; as other characters just have pointed out. What remains here is the endgame of defeating the Stasi and the question of just what they are going to do about the BETA horde at their doorstep. I am at least glad that Beatrix has taken up the lead role as main villain after discovering that her superior was a KGB operative who was planning to make east Germany a bulwark for Russia. I like that she didn’t make the stupid move of uncovering his motives without a backup plan. Guess Schmidt should have checked who his officers were getting orders from and he ends up with a bullet to the head from the officers he calls in to take down Beatrix. Now she’s in full command of the Stasi and that’s just the way I like it. Schmidt was never an interesting villain; he’s far too impersonal to the members of the Schwarzesmarken team. Beatrix makes for a much better threat coupled with the fact that she’s a great TSF poliet. We also get some insight into her motivations with her conversation with Irisdina. It’s looks like both Beatrix and Irisdina are trying to fulfil Irisdina’s brothers wishes in two different manners. Both seem to be trying to save Germany in their own way though Beatrix’s methods are more ruthless and unforgiving. It’s possible Beatrix might have been romantically involved with the brother as well which would explain the level of hate she has for Irisdina who had to kill her brother to save herself.

I really dislike the character who walks into Theodor mourning his sister and congratulates him on killing her. No matter how much of a horrible person someone is; you don’t walk into their funeral and congratulate their lover on becoming single. It’s just not something people do. I can’t say Theodor has been an interesting character as his arc has been one big sister complex. Now he’s that Mecha protagonist who’s really good at piloting and has a constant case of low self confidence. Meanwhile Gretel has been taken to the Stasi files Archive where Axemann reveals his agenda to come under Beatrix’s command and offers Gretel a chance to join the Stasi. However Axemann isn’t a pilot and didn’t take into account the communications transmitter Gretel has in her suit. The rebels rush in and Gretel gets shot and is now presumably dead; leaving the series in the hand of Theodor. This could have been a great scene had it not been for the fact that I truly don’t know Gretel well enough to emit an emotional response. I have more or less ground this point to dust but this really is the biggest problem with this show. The focus has been mainly on presenting the events of the story fast and foremost that no time has been spent on letting us get to know the characters. Which makes character moments within the story just feel empty. Lise worked because of the main stories big focus on her but when it comes to other characters it’s either out of nowhere or just not effective. One thing I haven’t commented on with this series is the music and it really is quite good. I felt it often gets overshadowed by the heavy amount of Mecha clashes and bullets but I like the German feel they went for. Mecha battles are quite excellent as well with some great CGI work. So all that’s left is the final battle and I find my thoughts on this series to be mixed. Though in all things considered this could have gone a lot worse.

Posted on 15 March 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Schwarzesmarken

The BETA are still coming and with the Stasi in full control we now have rebels working to overthrow the Stasi. All the while West Germany watches from the sidelines as it tries to figure out which side to support. To make up their mind they send Kirke to East Germany to survey the situation because of her relationship with the Schwarzesmarken team. You remember her? The girl who first treated the team with utter contempt but somehow off screen became BFFs with them? Another character who was negatively affected by the time constraints. Anyway I found the little bit of humor they threw in about her “Wiping her own ass”. Crude humor tends to work me sometimes. With her coming the rebels decide to use Theodors plan to make use of her as bait to lure the Stasi into an ambush. Which works like a charm thanks to the Stasi squadron commander being a complete imbecile. Lise tried to warn you guys but you brush her off with a “Your brother is with the rebels so your opinion is worthless” I suppose without Beatrix there to whip some sense into them and Lise is too preoccupied with her brother to give a damn what happens to the rest of her squad. I love the way she jumped out of the way of a bullet, letting it hit her comrade behind her, it shows that she truly has no love for her Stasi comrades. One particularly grisly detail about this battle is that the rebels didn’t evacuate the town before fighting in it. Which meant that quite a number of civilians got caught in the crossfire. That’s sort of a glazed over part of mecha anime though chances are a Gundam explored it. When you have giant robots fighting all about the place then collateral damage is a guarantee and while Kirke wasn’t in favor of it, at least the team saw it as necessary. After all they couldn’t orchestrate mass evacuation without alerting the Stasi of their ambush.

So Lise is dead. I don’t even need to know if Theodors gunshot hit her to confirm that. With the amount of shrapnel lodged in her body you can already tell that she was done for. This acts as a nice parallels to the start of the series, where Irisdina shot one of their comrades after she was horribly wounded in a BETA attack after sacrificing herself to save another. Even the delicious irony that Theodor originally hated Irisdina because she apparently shot and killed her brother. Yet here he is, putting a bullet in his sister. She had it coming and I am glad that Theodor actually had the guts to do it instead of a third party jumping in to save him the trouble. Lise was too far gone, too broken to salvage. All that was left was to give her the death sentence but at least she got it from her brother. I still state that Lise is far from forgivable in what she has done but it is disheartening to see her reach such a tragic end. Her will and love was beaten and defiled till it was twisted to help her best serve the Stasi. Even on her last words she was speaking of how stupid it was to oppose them, for she knew all too well what they are capable of. After all the torture; having her mind,body and soul twisted beyond repair to save the one person she cares about; her final reward is a bullet to the head. This may be the only character moment Schwarzesmarken got right though it did get a tad overly melodramatic. Still we know the history between the two, a complicated relationship of family and lovers, and it certainly must have been excruciating for Theodor to pull that trigger.The final shot was reminiscent of a certain scene from Madoka Magica and I liked how you had to really listen to hear the gunshot. With Lise out of the picture or heads turn to our new main threat, that being Beatrix and her werewolf battalion. We don’t have much left to the series so she won’t have much time to shine. Still I would like her to have a nice climactic fight with Irisdina at least, considering that they seem to have history.

Posted on 9 March 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Schwarzesmarken

For the past few episodes we were able to get past the lack of character development by focusing on the situation at hand. However with an episode like this which depends on emotional investment in the characters; Schwarzesmarken really shows this animes weaknesses. Lises situation is unfortunate though she still remains nonredeemable. Pham’s death didn’t invoke any emotion from me as her screen time in the anime has be rather limited. I guess they tried to make it more meaningful by having her comfort Theodor and Theodor admiring that he always thought of her as an older sister. But this scene felt contrived and forced due to the interaction between these two being absolutely minimal throughout the series. I would even bet this is the first time we seen them talking to each other alone. It’s clear that a lot of content is missing here and likely cut due to the anime’s time limitations. This is adapting seven volumes worth of light novels after all. In that line of thinking this may be best an anime seen after reading the visual novel or light novels; as then you would have the context needed to be affected by the struggles of these characters. If anything this show displays the importance of downtime in a story. You need to lay back; let your characters talk and interact. Allow the audience to know the person behind the giant Mecha. Then when the time comes to have them face challenges it won’t fall flat like this.

Axemann entering the fray again wasn’t exactly a surprise as he’s a bit too good of a villain to be killed off screen like that. His presence does present a dilemma in that to defeat the Stasi they are forced to work with Stasi. Especially someone like Axemann whom is hardly trustworthy. While allying with him it increases the chances of overthrowing the Stasi; it also presents the possibility of repeating history all over again.Axemann wants a seat of power in the new government and if they give him that well…it’s only a matter of time before he begins to take over again. Though I doubt he’s going to survive this series as he just has far too many enemies about. Even background characters are out for his blood.

So when a hefty amount of character interaction is chopped out this makes Pham’s sacrifice very unnecessary and illogical. What does she hold such faith in Lise and why is she going to such lengths to go outside with a rocket launcher and attempt to disable her TSF? It makes you question whether Pham was just an idiot seeing as she seemed to be banking on Lise not firing back at her after she hit her with a rocket launcher. Personally she might as well have just jumped into a TSF and used that to disable Lise. You could say she was too weak for that but she did just carry a rocket launcher through snow for a considerable distance. Pretty sure she could manage a TSF. Taking this into account I can only look at Pham’s sacrifice as pointless which lessens the tragedy of it. A tragedy I find much more compelling is that Lise’s current stance. This episode Lise revealed just to what lengths she went to in order to protect her brother. Sold out her friends, sold her body, killed dozens and even sacrificed her humanity by becoming Axemanns “pet”. She did the absolutely unthinkable and all for the day when she could be with Theodor again. And now she stands baring everything she is to him and he can’t possibly forgive what she’s become. Her efforts ultimately ensured that Theodor would never be with her and the sad fact is that she is far beyond redemption. The only thing Theodor can do for her now is put a bullet in her head which he sadly cannot bring himself to do. Considering just how broken Lise is; I think he’s going to really regret that. After all Lise has already shown the depths she will resort to if it means she can be with her dear “Onii-chan”

Posted on 1 March 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Schwarzesmarken

This week on Schwarzesmarken. The squad is captured, the bad guys have won, our main character is in a emo coma and the little sister character has gone full bitch. So in one fell swoop the Russian faction of the Stasi has wiped out the Berlin faction and taken over East Germany. I was previously under the impression that they planned to use the Schwarzesmarken team as hostages to stop the Berlin faction but it seems that their Russian friends have given them some brand new TSFs which were used to wipe out Axemann. Oh Axemann, you were so confident in this Coup d’etat that you didn’t know that all you were doing was rolling out the red carpet to welcome your enemies. With that the Stasi have practically won; they have the resources to resupply the front lines and control over the government. Other countries have no choice but to work with the Stasi in under to fight the BETA. And if the Stasi happens to enforce a full on totalitarian dictatorship in the process then who has the right to protest?

The real highlight of this episode is Lise; who has dropped the cutesy little sister act and revealed her true colours. Symbolised by the removal of her hair ribbons. Now she’s given the job of torturing her former comrades for information about Katia and damn if she isn’t reveling in it. She looked to show a small bit of reluctance when ordered but she certainly is smug in torturing them. It does look like her feelings for Theodor are real but I would guess that he is the only only she cares about. I peaked a little bit into her history and she’s certainly not had it easy. I won’t elaborate as it may be expanded on in future episodes and frankly I want to not look further into it as there is a chance of the Schwarzesmarken visual novels getting officially translated, as the Muv Luv kickstarter stated they were planning to translate a demo of it. (Just to note. Schwarzesmarken started as a series of seven light novels. AGE later made a visual novel covering up to the large scale attack with the Americans in the anime. Which is about up to volume 3. Another VN is coming out to cover the rest of the story) Regardless of what she went though however it doesn’t excuse her actions now. This change from little sister character to cold blooded betrayer has caused me to like Lise a whole lot more. I previously groaned at her very first appearance as she leapt as her brother with a “Onii-chan!” but she has undoubtedly improved the show as whole. I am hoping with her reveal and Axemann out of the way we can finally see Beatrix jump into the position of main villain and show us what she can do. Of course BETA are the main threat but I put them in the same place I would put the whitewalkers of Game of Thrones. That being a looming threat to raise the stakes but not the focus. Beatrix has been heavily underused for these past 8 episodes and I want her to prove her presence worthwhile in these last episodes.

The last part of the episode focused on Katia convincing the rebellion forces to use her status as the daughter of a hero to rally support to overthrow the Stasi. This finally snaps Theodor out of his emo coma and he remembers his promise from the very start of the series. I must ask Theodor, what were you thinking about while dazed out. It has always being a curiosity of mine as to what goes through a Mecha protagonists head when they crunch up in fetal position and their eyes go dead. Maybe they just think roundabout logic like Shinji Ikari or maybe they enter some dream world where they are a protagonist of a harem or something. (That statement may be dramatic irony considering the beginning of this franchise. Though the internet’s constant debate of what is and isn’t ironic has caused me to not even be sure what it means anymore.) To me this scene represents one of the biggest flaws with this franchise. I mean, I do love Muv Luv but it has its fair share of problems. This problem is; the heavily over dramatic speeches. There are plenty of moments in all the works of characters getting caught up in huge dramatic speeches that go on and on without taking the context of the scene into account. The pragmatic nature of the writing can get overbearing at times. Admittedly the Schwarzesmarken novels were written by Hiroki Uchida whereas the main series was written by Koki Yoshimune so it’s toned down a bit here or simply cut short to fit it in the anime. Still seeing Katia getting into a big speech that manages to stir Theodor out of his stupor was too cheesy for my liking. That said; it worked on the general so I guess we can move on to overthrowing the Stasi. Just how they can manage that will be something to see.

Posted on 23 February 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Schwarzesmarken

These latest episodes of Schwarzesmarken have started to show the shine I once saw in the MuvLuv Alternative visual novel. Characters remain underdeveloped but the show has benefited from having the characters defined by the situation and thus we can ignore that fact that they are very thin personality. The BETA battles are excellently animated too and really show off how much of a difference it makes between fighting laser class and heavy laser class. The Static sprites of the visual novel made it difficult to convey the level of threat each BETA strain posed. You were told of course, but when it came to combat all BETA were the same. Combat is fast and tense, I just wish I felt more for the characters to let it put me on the edge of my seat. Though Theodor just went up a notch in my book and for one simple reason. Dear readers I have seen so many anime that try to make you think the that the main character is about to get laid. So much so that I practically assume that no matter how good the situation looks, something will prevent it. So when I heard that Theodor genuinely slept with Lise I had to do a doubletake. I thought that maybe it wasn’t what it sounded like but they made it abundantly clear, Theodor had sex with her. Well Theodor you are now above over 95% of harem protagonists just by being able to do the deed. Even if you choose to do it with the worst person possible.

Well Lise is a Stasi spy, just as I figured. Her allegiance looks to be with the Russian faction of the Stasi and the move looks to have caught Theodor off guard. Theodor wasn’t a complete idiot and held on to the possibility of his sister being a spy and it seems he slept with her to keep her under his thumb. Logically speaking that’s a decent move as it does look like Lise truly loves Theodor but Theodor simply isn’t good at manipulation. He’s too oblivious to others feelings and far too straightforward to be able to effectively keep her under his control. One of the biggest issues are that it’s clear to anyone that he holds feelings for Irisdina and very nearly confessed to her at the end of the episode. I am guess this was the main motivation for Lises choice of hostage at the end of the episode. Theodor made it abundantly clear to Lise just how much Irisdina meant to him when she asked him to run away with her. Though thinking of that, she likely suggested this to prevent him from seeing her do the dirty work of killing his teammates. The second is that Theodor greatly underestimates his step-sister. Truly who knows what kind of dirty work Lise had to do while within the stasi. She is not the same little girl you knew back when you were kids.

Things are looking bleak, the BETA are performing Zerg rush tactics, the Stasi have instigated a Coup d’etat and now they have captured the Schwarzesmarken team. From my speculation I would say that the move to capture the team and the Coup d’etat are the two factions working separately. The Coup seems like Axemanns work and the capture of the team looks like Beatrix’s work. Based on this I would say the Russian faction is planning to use the team as bargaining chips to get the upper hand over the Berlin faction. I doubt the Stasi is unified in this Coup d’etat as while it has a high chance of success when in the middle of a BETA attack, once you have managed to overthrow command, then the Stasi will have to be the one to deal with the BETA attack. Considering they spent most of their time overthrowing isn’t of defending against the attack, it’s doubtful things would end well. As with many a war, it’s always the idiotic commander who happens to mess things up for everyone. There’s may be giant robots and Aliens about but in the end, war never changes.

Posted on 17 February 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Schwarzesmarken

In a pleasant turn of events, this was the best episode of Schwarzesmarken to date. We didn’t have much mecha action but instead we have a high focus on Schwarzesmarken’s strongest asset. Namely its setting and internal politics. (Strange as with a Gundam series I tend to hate those aspects) there were some nice bits of character development, though Gretel’s should have been established much earlier. We learn that the Stasi is not united and is instead undergoing a power struggle between two factions. One lead by Axmann who wishes to cut ties with all foreign nations for the Stasi to stand on it’s own and other lead by another man who has Beatrix under his thumb and wishes to strengthen ties with the soviet’s. With that the suicidal nature of the Stasi makes so much more sense. The Stasi isn’t just trying to take over the military but is also fighting for power within itself. Everyone is so concerned with solidifying their position that they don’t take into account the inevitable demise of the country by the hands of BETA. Much like any apocalypse story, the most dangerous thing on the planet are humans themselves. We have a number of players on the field, the two factions of the Stasi, the military and minor factions such as Theodors group and this new group. Even in modern times, the game of thrones continues on.

The second half of the episode focuses on a particular dilemma, whether Lise is a Stasi spy. For Theodor this is troublesome as he what’s to believe in his sister but as things go on she just gets more and more suspicious. So much so that the entire team is on hand to take her out by episodes end. Even Katia joining the witchhunt. Axmann stirred up the pot, likely because he thinks Lise is a spy for the Russian faction of Stasi and this isn’t helped but Lise’s suspicious actions. Her efforts to get the team to dismiss the thought of her being a spy and her efforts to try to get Katia and Theodor to admit to fighting the stasi only serve to damn her further. Her last action this episode seems to be a move of pure desperation as she tries to seduce Theodor. You could write this off as typical harem nonsense but I have never seen a harem girl make a move so daring.

So do I think Lise is a spy, that sweet innocent girl who only wants the best for her brother? Well…she’s a spy without doubt. How am I so certain of that? The most damning piece of evidence is her conversation with Katia. True her insinuations about having Theodor to herself if Irisdina was out of the picture is pretty telling when she’s the one making the move on him at episodes end. But that’s not what gave her away. For you see when Lise gave back Katia’s necklace she said “You should be careful carrying around a picture of you and a westerner” and here’s the thing. Katia burned the picture of her and her father in an earlier episode. This episode showed her replacing it in the necklace with a newspaper clipping of their victory at the BETA battle. So how did Lise know what picture was in the necklace before? This is a most interesting turn of events as Theodor must now come to terms with his sister being a spy as I highly doubt her seduction will work. But if Lise is found out I doubt the Stasi will let her live so Theodor, what will it be? Let your sister be sent to her death a second time or sell out your team to save her life? Now this Schwarzesmarken, is my kind of entertainment.

Posted on 11 February 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Schwarzesmarken

For something that definitely feels rushed, this was a pretty good episode for Schwarzesmarken. I really cannot emphasize enough at how much of a shame it is that this series looks to be cut down to fit into a single cour. If given a two cour run I think Schwarzesmarken could really shine but sadly unlike its predecessors it is saddled with one. But well at least we get to enjoy the setting and political status this world has to offer. We have a conflict as the West German pilots try to pick a fight with the East German pilots. I have never been to fond of these kinds of characters who seem to exist to provide conflict. Such as those thugs that are in every anime that go after any pretty girl in the street so our hero can jump in and look good. It seems like a complex issue, as east Germans hate west German because they feel they sold out and are taking it easy while they are holding of the BETA hordes. Whereas the West Germans dislike the East because of their dystopian society and previous failures in major operations. Basically they think that East Germany makes West Germany look bad but there are likely other factors. Luckily the fight is broken up by the west German commander, showing that not all west Germans are one dimensional stereotypes.

The battles between TSFs and BETA are still a excellent sight and I admit that I started to feel the exhilaration I once felt while reading the visual novels. Some moments if dodgy CGI but otherwise it’s quite excellent. We got some good exposition on just how America handles BETA which is interesting. The Americans like to play it safe and focus on long range bombardment as their TSFs are not suited to close range combat. Fun little fact from the VN, American TSFs are mainly designed with the focus of taking out other TSFs, not BETA. Which might give some light to where their priorities are. America got off rather light when it comes to the BETA war, mainly because when a BETA hive landed in Canada they decided to nuke Canada halfway to hell to ensure BETA didn’t reach America. But of course there inexperience with fighting BETA shows when their plan is destroyed once a horde of BETA show up outside of their defense line. Giving the 666 squad a perfect reason to jump in and save the day. Then everyone is almost killed by the reason which affects every war’s outcome, an idiotic commander. Looks like Gretal was under pressure to distinguish the squad in battle to give the Militia the upper hand over the Stasi. Really wish they established this beforehand instead of having Irisdina throw it out like an afterthought.

Now that Commander isn’t too keen on helping the Americans and is determined to let them die out of pure spite. So we have a short wait till Gretal comes around and tells him to go to hell. Again it feels like we missed a huge chuck of character development we were supposed to have at this point and the pacing makes the suicide mission seem not as difficult as they made it out to be. One thing I must applaud is how menacing they made the fort class BETA look. In the VN these guys were not all that treating but here they really are a dominating presence. So the day is saved and our heroes are free to go home and get screwed over by the Stasi, who look to be cooking up something nasty.

Posted on 3 February 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Schwarzesmarken

This episode starts with a groan as we meet a new member of the cast, that being Theodor’s sister who on first sight hugs with with the ever so traditional “Onii-chan!” The sister does bring some good developments to the table, namely the machination the Stasi has in store for her, but I really wish the didn’t resort to an old caricature. We even have some back story for Theodor which pretty much only confirms that yes, Lise is Theodor’s step sister and non blood related so she’s perfectly fine for being pushed into the boy’s harem. I understand that harems are essentially series tradition for Muv Luv (The first entry of the series was a pure by the numbers harem after all) but Schwarzesmarken at least has kept that particular element at bay and I would like it to stay that way. The last thing a do or die setting like this needs is harem hijinks. As far as Lise’s standing as a spy she certainly is suspicious. She clearly seems to be feigning amnesia over the period she spent with the Stasi and doesn’t seem too pleased with Therdors approval of Irisdina. Her reaction is a bit too serious to write off as simple jealousy. There’s also that rather delayed response from her when Katia was about to get ambushed by BETA. I am willing to bet that she was weighing her option of letting Katia die to BETA assault. Whatever the Stasi has planned it seems to be working as Therdor looks reluctant to entertain the possibility of Lise being a spy. He may say otherwise to Katia but that felt like he was just putting her at ease.

So with a new member added to the cast this looks like a good time for the team to have some R&R and use the new character to flesh out the other members of the squad. At least that would be the wise move but sadly the plot disagrees and sends them out to a major offense against the BETA. It really seems like there could be plenty of things to expand upon before jumping into a major plot arc. Such as Katia’s awkward position of no longer acting as a replacement for Theodors sister. A large amount of Theodors dedication to protecting Katia was due to her resemblance to his sister and now that his actual sister has shown up it puts Katia in a more perilous state as when push comes to shove he will save his sister before saving her. Plus the whole complicated feelings humbug with dear Therdor senpai not noticing her anymore. However that is written off quickly and now we are in a big offensive quite literally straight out of nowhere. A combined effort by the UN and countries of the world to prevent BETA from crossing too far west from Europe. Our big issue here is when Gretel starts giving out unreasonable orders due to a desire to distinguish the east German task force in order to win political favor. However no one seems to hold them in high regard as artillery is fired without regarding them being in the line of fire and at episode’s end it looks like even the west Germans despise them. A little hypocritical considering that east Germany is the one thing keeping the BETA at bay but with the Stasi and whatnot, they are hardly beyond reproach. All of this has the potential to be quite interesting but the fatal flaw remains. We the audience lack emotional attachment to the characters. Why is Gretal looking for political favor? Why is anyone here fighting at all? Why did Irisdina tell a racist joke before going into battle? And most importantly of all, why should we even care if these people live or die?

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Anonymous2049774
Besides that for the most part I'm really enjoying. The backgrounds are great, I think the CGI is actually pretty good with the ships, only thing missing is that classic Imperial/FPA themes, but I suppose they have to make new ones.
Anonymous2049774
Actually, Julian also looks pretty young right now, but that's probably because... he is at this point in the story. But I just hope throughout the series we get to see his character design grow.
Anonymous2049774
I agree. I honestly don't even mind most of the designs, there are only a handful of characters I feel like they missed the mark; only problem is most are pretty important characters (most notably Kircheis, I think Yang's design is somewhere in the middle for me)
KTravlos
just one issue. Annerose's weird eyelashes. They stood out. More than Reihards. But they did.
KTravlos
Episodes 3 and 4 of the new LOGH have won me over. Very good, good use of music, and economic but to the point. Episode 3 did a better job than the original in getting across the depravity of the nobility. And Jessica in episode 4 was great.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have successfully managed to ignore Darling in the Franxx.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Masky: I keep up with it because I'm so far in, some of the intrigue is gone, their just fighting the monsters now.
AidanAK47
Funny enough whle I was really into the promised Neverland before, I now have no real interest in it. After the first arc ended my engagement died out
Masky
Hmm, *bother to care at all makes more sense I think
Masky
If what is pretty much best of it that is out nowadays is just "semi" on level on caring, why ye care to care about shonen at all? :D
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: One of the very few shounen I semi-care about.
SuperMario
Good news, the Promised Neverland will be adapted into anime https://www.animefeminist.com/the-promised-neverland-gets-anime-adaptation/
AidanAK47
Heard of it, don't know anything of it.
Anonymous2043546
anyone know OpenGL
Kaiser-Eoghan
Rather nice inclusion that they had the voice actors actually speaking Ainu in Kamuy's third episode.
Anonymous2040262
its almost like he could be an antagonist
SuperMario
For me I don't mind if I have to pay to watch the series/ films, but damn it don't restrict me to access it. Entertainment medium is meant to be an exposure (for the lack of better terms), it's supposed to be available to the mass and nobody care for a series that isn't available for streaming. We have way too many other options out there
SuperMario
"Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem". Someone said that and I couldn't say it better
SuperMario
@Amagi: which part of Firework that you stopped? It's the movie that make less and less sense as the story goes on so I feel you on that
Amagi
I really wonder what's up with this guy. Considering the hype and VN screens he gets he seems to be more than just random side-protagonist. Looking forward to the rest of this series.
Anonymous2039704
One of my favorite OPs this season
Amagi
Now I textwalled again and feel bad.
Amagi
In short: be it indie-products or official series or papers, just upload everything on a virtual plattform and you'll get a bigger audience, many of them even willing to pay as long as they get what they want in high quality.
Amagi
Something might only become popular 4 weeks later but it doesn't matter because it's still there and people can watch it whenever they want and the other series don't matter since it isn't a classical rivalry as we know it from tv.
Amagi
"Less people watched the first episode than the 1000th iteration of [insert some "classic" movie old people watch for the sake if it]. With streaming plattforms like Netflix and others series just get dumped and are always accesible.
Amagi
Another reason for why I prefer streams and stuff: TV and quotes are a horror. They often cancelled series after one or two episodes because the quotes didn't live up to what they wanted. Instead of giving a new series some time. It needs time to get a fanbase and people often need weeks to even know about a new series, but nope.
Amagi
In the end such things are usually screened in ~3 places around the country for a day or two. So if you aren't living nearby or have work to do on that day: good luck.
Amagi
Sometimes it isn't their fault though, like when there is an anime or some indie guy from my country is making a movie - and nobody wants to show them.
Amagi
Same here. I really want to give small companies or indie/artists a chance, but it's not always easy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
What baffled me was the British film institute blocking Irish users using their legal streams.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Believe it or not I actually WANT to support.
Kaiser-Eoghan
While I do pirate alot, in cases where an obscure film actually gets a cinema release I make sure to pay to see it at the cinema, I support all the rare anime screenings too.
Amagi
There is so much stuff I had to pirate or I would have had to relinquish it completely. Even with non-fiction books for my university studies.
Amagi
lmao. But I 100% agree. Maybe you're lucky if you live in the US but otherwise you are often enough f*ed. Bad marketing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Point I was trying to make is that, region blocking is only encouraging piracy more.
Amagi
narf~ couldn't manage to finish that Firework movie, do I miss much? It seems like something that might have a bunch of good ideas for the later part but the first half just bored me and I couldn't get into it for some reason.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Release your damn indie project on a reputable site or at least offer a paypal option and if its something off-colour in content, send the bloody thing digitally and not as a dvd.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Oh look, funimation releases eng dub trailer...think I'll...wat....oh wait this video is not available in your region"
Kaiser-Eoghan
"This video cannot be streamed outside of"
"Sorry we do not deliver to Ireland"
"Sorry this film from less than a decade is out of print"
Yeah, fuck legal streaming, just for that I'm pirating you.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Truly you have become the most super of Marios.
SuperMario
Finally pulling those reviews out. Guys, if you're expecting for Hinamatsuri and Masotan posts, the former will be done tomorrow and if I have more time I will do the second one too. Enjoy for now
Anonymous2037529
LWA academia is probably the only trigger project i've truly cared about. I haven't watched KlK to completion or luluco for that matter(i got to get around to that) but ive seen everything else and i just don't give a damn about any of em
Amagi
But to say something positive - I liked the second episode of Kamuy way better than the first one. Budget seems to be really bad but the rest makes up for it it seems.
Amagi
I think Luluco was the only one I enjoyed after KlK which already had a bunch of problems - but overall it was far too entertaining for me to seriously care about those.
Amagi
Guess the last 1/3 might be more interesting when they start with the actual world building for once, although they could probably slam the love stuff even more in our faces but who knows. Not fond of any of the latest Trigger anime to be honest.
Amagi
Also they're really overdoing it with all that obvious message stuff and the "love superpower" trope I always hated anyway. Still watching I mean at least it has a plot and tries.
Amagi
I still can't care about anyone or anything in this series I think it's really not made for me. I might have liked Goro but he's too unimportant and the sauros revelation was kind of a letdown since it's the most common twist for these kinds of things.
AidanAK47
Alright Franxx, you are forgiven for episode 14.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Do you ever go to those surprise horror/thriller preview screenings? Where they don't tell you what film it is until it starts?
Kaiser-Eoghan
*worrying about
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Its saying something, when I haven't seen eternal sunshine since it came out, but even by re-watching the trailer, the feelings, the whole film comes back. At that point I'd grown out of Jim Carey's comedy, so seeing him play against type was refreshing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Ah, I'm more forgiving then, I'm likely to give higher points for sheer imagination that I'm not as bothered by worry about the story.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Any negative argument against mood indigo by him can be countered by the fact it has Audrey Tatou in it.
Anonymous2035464
jhonrhean
SuperMario
and I just watched A Quiet Place. A solid indie horror one. It builds on atmosphere and it does the family chemistry right
SuperMario
I don't like The Science of Sleep to be honest. Tons of interesting ideas and visually creativeness but the story itself is a mess
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Gondry needs to avoid making any more commercial comedies, he also needs to start working with Kaufman again, they brought out the best in each other, although on his own, he can be playful and inventive with his films, such as mood indigo and science of sleep.
SuperMario
But check out his other movie Eternal sunshine of Spotless Mind. It has an inventive mind control/ mind altering concept in there
SuperMario
Jim Carrey is kind of mind controller himself. I couldn't take my eyes off him
SuperMario
@anon2028818: it was indeed season 5. SORRY FOR MY IGNORANCE :)
Vonter
The Jim Carrey movies.
Vonter
Dorei-ku seems like a Kakegurui. You see one episode you've seen all. It'll be better if it was crazier like Mirai Nikki. Mind control IMO could be a very creepy setup if it's watched through the perspective of the victim rather than the perpetrator. Losing notion or reality and control. Could liar liar and Yes man be considered mind controlled stories?
Vonter
Ore Mahou Shoujo, baffles me, since I had to skip another long musical off key number, which makes me wonder where the budget cut starts and where the trolling begins. Also makes me sad, there aren't a lot of female to male transformations since it'll be interesting watching that perspective. Maybe a love triangle from both genders could apply since females are more accepted to be bi, in media.
Vonter
Megalobox could be something really special, but I hope like with Ashita no Joe, the anime isn't solely boxing. Joe, had social commentary, had a personal struggle do to the protagonist origin, attitude and view of life, since he started very immature and rebellious.
Amagi
Megalo Box, Tiramisu (I find this genuinely funny), S;0, GGO which is so much better than SAO, Wotaku, Hinamatsuri, Cutie Honey, LotGH, Hisone to Masotan and so on
Amagi
I really love this season as well.
Lenlo
Also personally I am enjoying this current season a alot. But I also know/like a good bit of the reboots/sequels
Lenlo
Oh man... 2015 winter was good. Forgot thats when those came out
Anonymous2028818
@SuperMario: Wasn't that Natsume season 5?, pretty sure season 4 was several years earlier.
SuperMario
Another strong anime season for me was 2015 Winter, where we had YuriKuma Arashi, Maria the Virgin Witch, Death Parade, Durarara whatever season, second cour of Shirobako, Parasyte and Your Lie in April
SuperMario
Even so, with this season I'm still willing to give some shows another chance, like Caligula or Cutie Honey Universe(!)
SuperMario
For me, the best season in recent years was Fall 2016 when we had Flip Flappers, Sound Eupho 2, Yuri on Ice, Natsume 4, Fune wo Amu, Drifters and 3-gatsu no Lion. But I know that Aidan would disagree with me on this
SuperMario
@anon2028201: it's me who said this season is a mixed bag. It's like you said, this season is too heavily on sequels/ reboots and only some new anime stand out, the rest of the pack is just meh.
Anonymous2028201
To me this seems like a pretty good seasons, but judging some of the impressions, it's a bit more of a mixed bag for most. Just curious, what were the best seasons for recent anime? This one seems good to me, but to early to tell right now
Anonymous2028201
Lovin this season so far: a lot of reboots/reimaginings and sequels, but I'm enjoying them all. MHA S3, LOGH DNT, S;G 0, Megalobox, Golden Kamuy are what I'm watching right now. I hear Full Metal Panic is good as well, but I haven't gotten around to watching the original series.
Anonymous2028258
so i just recently rewatched fullmetal panic fumoffu and i gotta say that this is easily one of Kyo ani's best works. It's such a surprise that this was their first anime; it's a damn good romance comedy
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Lol I love B-movie type stuff, because the rules are off.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was the only person who watched Mazinkaiser skl and shin mazinger and skullman.
Anonymous2026379
@Kaiser Takeshi Koike really wanted to really sell it as a grindhouse feature and I ate that shit up; I really dug the tone he was going for.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: It was strange seeing that Goemon short, much as I enjoyed it, thats the goriest I seen lupin get.
Anonymous2026379
Megalo box is pure retro while lupin is a mix of old and new...and you're right; people just think they can't jump right into it. But that's why more people should be talking about it; to let the masses know that you don't need a starting point to get into the Lupin franchise
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm a massive fan of the devilman manga and I thought devilman crybaby was better than it.
Anonymous2026379
90's-esque throwback feeling shows like lupin and megalo box have been giving me
Anonymous2026379
Luoin part 5 is definitely mixing the best of new and old. Honestly, I've been having a blast with it as well as this generally 90
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think the problem is, people see lupin as this long thing they can't get into, when really its so episodic/standalone mostly you can pick up and watch.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And of course getting the best bits out of old and new.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*visual style
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm a fan of this hybrid old and new style, megalobox does it too, mine fujiko aswell and casshern sins.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was surprised by how well the Fujiko mine show came together in the end.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'll be interested in picking up more facts about thrm.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Come think of it, Akira Kurosawa did some old western (eastern?) in Russian, that had an Ainu in it.
Anonymous2026379
Asirpa is sooooo adorable.....almost feels patronizing to say that about her due to how badass she is
Anonymous2026379
What makes Fujiko work so well as this sexy icon is that she isn't just sexy: she's smart as shit and uses that sexiness to dominate and control her opponents (similar to bayonetta) rather than be chained by the objectification of her opponents (and the viewers for that matter)
Anonymous2026379
I wonder what other obscure cameos we may get this season. And yea you're right about some of Lupin's potentially sexist traits being assuaged by his level of cool and the genuine respect he shows a good deal of the women he has encountered throughout the series
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Yet still a fun film at the same time.
Anonymous2026379
@Kaiser Yea, mamo was a pretty dark element introduced to the lupin franchise; and considering the tone of the gravestone of Jigen, it makes sense he would cameo there
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Help I want to kidnap Asirpa =<
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I'm probably as surprised as you, at finding someone to talk to about Lupin on here.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: And through comparing/contrasting the jigen grave stone and Fujiko mine, with some of the sillier older ones, it shows the Lupin characters are flexible enough to work both in a darker AND sillier context.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*character
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Fujiko is precisely how a fanservicey character should work and how built in/essential it is to her haracter, without becoming an irritant.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: By all means Lupin himself shouldn't be a character we like, much like Bond, but like Bond theres a coolness to the character that allows us to love him.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Another great thing about Lupin is how it uses its 60s cool to get away with what would normally probably be considered fairly sexist.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I had a big smile on my face when Mamo made a cameo appearance at the end of one of the recent ones and thats because I remember the Lupin Mamo movie was one of those first anime that I watched about 20 years aago.
Anonymous2026379
not to mention that its one of the few anime this season that actually knows how to utilize dialogue to explore flesh out its characters rather than exposition or contrivance: looking at you darling in the franxx
Anonymous2026379
@Kaiser-Eoghan Nice fun facts; but yea Lupin III is a series that has always had an amazing sense of pacing and adventure, traits that are definitely on display this season
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Its a huge franchise too so I'm often never sure where to go next.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: You may or may not know this, but the voice actor for solid snake voiced Lupin in one of the dubs.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I watched a few episodes of the Italy set lupin show too .
Its a fun franchise due to its cast but its something I have to follow irregularly, lest it get repetitive.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Fun fact, guy who directed the gold of babylon film was a famous B-movie noir director in the 60s.
Lenlo
Dont trust anything written by the original SAO author. Everything is his fault. Kirito is not in this series.
Lenlo
Even the original SAO author has little to do with it, which is why its actually good
Lenlo
So SAO Alt is basically completely removed from the rest of SAO
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Lupin is one of those things I dip in and out of, whatever part of the franchise it is. I've seen birdcage kingdom, Mamo, cagliostro, nostradamus, Jigens grave stone, mine fujiko and the recent Goemon centred special.
Anonymous2026379
it's a damn shame not a lot of ppl are talkig about/watching lupin the third this season
Kaiser-Eoghan
But for all I know with that team behind it, its an improvement, but theres probably not much point in me watching as I dropped the first season after less than 10 episodes.
Kaiser-Eoghan
See how he attempts to seduce me into watching something related to sword art.
Lenlo
Huh... I didnt know the writer for SAO Alt was written by the Kino's Journey creator and produced by the Flip Flappers people. Explains a lot
Lenlo
I wish I knew what you meant by shaman girls, and I cant wait
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, Oh I know Leskinen. May he find his Japanese Shaman girls one day. But seeing as I know the story I wanna experience it differently.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Its even set in hokkaido, Korean/Japanese director, Japanese cast, Ken Watanabe is in it: https://letterboxd.com/film/unforgiven-2013/
Lenlo
Also, I love the ED. Really, 2 episodes in, I love S;G all over again.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: really? They remade Unforgiven in Japanese?
Lenlo
its*
Lenlo
Like... is good.
Lenlo
But your missing out on the cult of Leskinen. The engrish is actually one of my favorite parts
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, Meanwhile I am happily waiting for the dub.
Lenlo
Dangit... I have to wait another week for Steins;Gate 0 now. I cant do this.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: The Japanese remake of unforgiven had ainu people in it.
Anonymous2025797
Also I wonder if budget is distributed according to the director, some animes will spend more in the first episode. Some will spend more in the last ones. It's subjective, but if it's like all business it is looking for the better result at the minimum expense. Hence why I believe Berserk was made the way it did.
Anonymous2025797
@Kaiser-Eoghan - Ideally a story should be as long as it needs. But reality seems that a number of episodes is decided before production. And so you either have to stretch or cut material. Kinda like that 300 page manga of Les Miserables, is simply unfeasible translating that book into that few pages.
KTravlos
Oberstein was a great character.
KTravlos
I actually feel Aidan can do a good job on it. Sometimes been too exposed to the material may lead to clouded eyes.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Though I'm surprised by how I unexpectedly laughed at wotaku, I do wonder if later on it will include any slight drama elements to sustain interest.
Kaiser-Eoghan
OMO; OBERsteins; Gate =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
From watching episode 2 of golden kamuy, yeah, the source material definitely is lifting this.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm going to have to wait and see on steins; gate 0, it is encouraging to here this might be darker , at the same time I remember having to sit through too much goofy humour in the first one.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was actually surprised, that, while rare, there were some moments of humour, that lightened it for me.
AidanAK47
Throughout the entire series I expected Oberstein to pull some inevitable double cross. And was shocked when he never did.
Amagi
@Kaiser: Agree with Oberstein. I think antagonists are es important as the mains in fiction and I loved this guy, he's perfect for series like these.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Galactic heroes was an example of where when watching it, when big death scenes occured, I would make noooooo and shouting noises at the screen while clenching my fist.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I love characters like Oberstein, shrewd, clever, but done right to where I can believe it, not characters like, say Lelouch .
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'd be concerned if the new galactic heroes series skimps on the violence, that kind of thing needs to be in there, in most shows/films and shown to be explicit, consequences need to be shown.
Amagi
*about, not with
Amagi
Sadly, most original 2+ cours series I know feel dragged whereas many 1 cours originals could have needed ~3 more episodes. Talking with series that have an actual plot of course.
Amagi
I really like the 13 episodes thingy for originals but I wish there would be more 26 episodes series, especially for adaptions.
Amagi
@Kaiser: I agree. Nothing kills my interest faster than formularic episodes and repetition.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In general I think 50 episodes would be the most I'd watch for an anime, 39 seems ideal.
Amagi
Or worse and the romance drama is the main plot and it's Kiznaiver all over again, while the rest is just flavor to make the romances more forced since they're the MCs are only teens and such. Dunno but I can never bring myself to care about this kind of stuff.
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Featured Posts

Hisone to Masotan – 02 [I’ll Name the Dragon Masotan]

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