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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AidanAK47
I previously had no interest in a Godzilla Anime film. But after reading the concept here I am now very very interested: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2017-03-24/godzilla-anime-film-reveals-full-title-story-new-visual-november-premiere/.113863
SuperMario
@Kaiser: they are still around. And believe it or not the actual band members are Damon Albarn (former lead singer of Blur) taking care of all the music and Jamie Hewlett who taking of the animation. I love alternative music, I can enjoy hip-hop music and I'm a fan of animation => this band basically has everything I personally love
Anonymous956164
@Mario: Kaiser here, posting from public computer. I had no idea the gorillaz were still around, many years ago I would have listened to their Clint Eastwood song, aswell as dirty harry and feel good inc, I also remember the artstyle of their videos catching my attention.
SuperMario
Anyone here listen to Gorillaz? They're one of my favorite band and their new song Saturnz Barz is great. Excited for their coming album now
Kaiser-Eoghan
I guess I'm considering blood blockade also because I'm burnt out o demanding and old films to some extent.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I really enjoyed the first season of Blockade. It's one of those cases where I think the delayed of the last episode killed all the exciment regarding the show. I actually fall behind and then catched up again as soon as the last episode was out so I enjoyed everything so much more
SuperMario
@Aidan: makes me really wonder why some of the studios are very uptight about their show's details. Like, they have to know if it is a short series or not, right.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yet its not exactly a show that fits into being my thing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Blood blockade battlefront is one of those shows that is always in the back of my head, despite negative biasI managed to at least enjoy some of gungrave, I grew up, sort of with trigun, so with blockade having Yuji Nightow involved theres always that part of me that says to watch blood blockade battlefront.
AidanAK47
This is one of the annoying things about previews. You got o the trouble of looking it up and writing on it only for it to get delayed or turn out to be a short series.
SuperMario
ohh, Blood Blockade Battlefront moves back to October airing. I might have a chance to cover it after all. Though look at how it gets delay and the change of director, it yells more concerns than optimism
AidanAK47
Yep, Manga is completed at 6 Volumes. But it's kinda weird that the series managed to cover 6 volumes when it's so slow paced. I normally thought that 5 to 6 episodes was needed to cover a manga volume on average.
SuperMario
@anon954341: ACCA will finish in 1 cour, as the manga is already completed and from what I heard episode 11 & 12 cover the last 5 chapters of the manga.
Anonymous954341
is Acca 13's story going to finish in 1 cour, or is it still ongoing?
Kaiser-Eoghan
Honestly do wonder how much longer anime blogging will be a thing and how much they have to compete with popular youtuber's channels.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I once had some idea of doing a forum with a friend, it never went anywhere.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Aidan gave good advice anon, I still found old posts from when I was teenager archived somewhere online and it made me facepalm.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Eh, I wanted to throw myself into Mario and your conversation about personalities by talking about myself, force of habit.
AidanAK47
@Kaiser, Not sure what this rambling is about but good for you...I guess?
AidanAK47
@Anon, Blogs take a lot of work for very little in return. I wouldn't try starting one unless you are ready to make a huge commitment. Besides at your age(Based on that comment) it would be best to not put too much on the internet. The internet never forgets and it can come back to haunt you later in life.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The reason I bring some of this up is because I think that even if someone isn't the most emotional person out there, they shouldn't ignore/bash on certain shows/genres because of that, even if you don't get feelings out of it, the story/drama/characters could still be worthwhile.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I do think getting pissed off though is much easier irl than doing it online where it doesn't bother me as much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And it surprises me alot that I followed so many romance manga years ago, enjoyed them, but I've never been a romantic person irl at all.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I also hate incompetence/failure and am generally not especially patient.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I care about others and appearances mainly to extent it either is of benefit, if I have to or it avoids hassle.
Kaiser-Eoghan
People tend to think I'm cold, articulate, blunt irl too.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm not a sentimental or passionette/emotional person irl, I don't like wasting time with other peoples shit and don't bother with it, avoid looking at people or touching them physically, talk in long dry speeches and in general come off as a quiet, reserved but snarky/cynical person.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I probably unknowingly come off as different on this site than I would irl.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Honestly I'd veer towards depressing or surreal/strange/messed up work more out of just wanting to see weird and depressing stuff happen and little else, just interests me, I can't remember the last time I cried.
Anonymous953782
um i wanted to make my own blog but it wants a email but i dont want my parents finding out
AidanAK47
It is weird how we never clash on what we want to cover on each season. Anyway I need someone to contrast my egotisical self so it's all good.
SuperMario
haha, Aidan: heartless grumpy monster & Mario: sentimental sappy bloke. Readers, you got yourself quite an odd combination of writers here.
Anonymous951955
We'll see; trailers can give false impressions
Anonymous951955
Not that all changes from source adaptations are terrible, but in this case, at least the trailer makes it look pretty bad.
Anonymous951955
It looks not great; I understand the need to change it a bit to suit the format/audience, but at what point does it turn from adaption to "loosely based on"?
HelghastKillzone
I'm glad we're past the phase of moe club shows.
AidanAK47
@Helghast, now that's something I never thought I would hear.
HelghastKillzone
Hell ya. We are in a golden age of anime that is filled with options and quality.
Anonymous951809
What a great week! Iron Blooded Orphans, Onihei, Little Witch Academia and ACCA 13 all had great episodes! I am spoiled!
Anonymous950847
@Anon and @Aikan

The LoGH manga remake has been out. It did not work for me.

I hope he anime goes its own way. I do trust Production IG, so I hope. I think it might not be this year. No lgoic, just a hunch.
AidanAK47
@Anon, Only info I can find is that it's coming out this year and it will be by Production IG. But I think you are right in that if it;s coming this year it will definitely be winter.
Feeling rather cautious about the remake myself. LoGH is dated visually but in a way it is a product of it's time and things you could forgive in the old version wouldn't be so forgivable in the new.
Anonymous949997
Does anybody know when that LoGH readaptation is coming? It's supposed to be this year right? Probably winter right?
SuperMario
But I will give it a full review anyways because all the amount of time I spent in that series should be paid off somehow, right?
Kaiser-Eoghan
But serious Gohands is a studio that had potential its just a shame its wasted on rubbish writers. Although I did like mardock scramble, because cyberpunk =)
Kaiser-Eoghan
If I met handshakers in public I'd refuse to shake its hand =D
SuperMario
Oh, it's actually just an extra Hand Shakers episode that serves as a prequel story. Not that bad then
SuperMario
Not to disregard Hand Shakers, but the best way to describe how I feel about that series is mind-numbing
Kaiser-Eoghan
They tried with that Military guy and his daughter but not by much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But I do agree that there needs to be more to the characters, right now its JUST Tanya.
Kaiser-Eoghan
As for Tanya, having caught up with it, its a nice trashy guilty pleasure, especially due to the protagonist and I enjoy the setting because I'm a war film fan and like some of the action/politicking. I still do wish it was aesthetically a bit better. The dub isn't that bad and I'd welcome a second season.
Kaiser-Eoghan
In an ideal world Kino's journey would have been a good model for what light novel adaptations can be and SHOULD be.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If we must have more light novel adaptations, I would prefer them to be like Tanya, Muvluv, okay hardly breathtaking, but still better than that thing Aidan linked.
Lenlo
*Sigh* It looks exactly how I imagined it would and its terrible.
Lenlo
Please dont tell me thats an actual title.
AidanAK47
In another world with my smart phone light novel to get an anime.

Oh my god...This literally sounds like a joke title you would see within an anime. Tried giving it an honest chance by reading it and it's just shit. Just pure terrible.
AidanAK47
If people in Japan are actually buying blurays thinking its a good show then something is seriously wrong with the world.
AidanAK47
@Topgavin, maybe too many people watched it because it was so terrible. I haven't watched past episode 1 but it doesn't sound like it improved.
Topgavin
Just incase you guys were avidly waiting for the announcement, Hand Shakers is getting a prequel season because it's apparently selling well......
SuperMario
Should be happy for it, though I'm a bit disappointed that I can't be able to cover it
SuperMario
Inside Mari gets live-action series adaptation. Why not anime?? Duh
Spike
Little Witch Academia finally tips it's hand on the overall plot! I'm pretty pleased and think some direction might help bump it up from just being 'good' overall.
HelghastKillzone
@KTravlos Still watching it week by week and I'll write up a review on the second season of Iron-Blooded when it ends.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: It is however the kind of anime film that would have the wide audience appeal though, as in anime for people who don't watch anime.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: just prove that people has paid attention to anime. That's an encouraging sign actually
Kaiser-Eoghan
Feck, silent voice was booked out when I got there just now....should have booked in advance, showing at 7:00 on Friday booking it now.
SuperMario
@KTravlos: I haven't, but that more because I'm not a big fan of Mecha genre. I believe one of our writer HelghastKillzone still follow the series
KTravlos
No idea, if you are all still watching MS Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans. I am, and while the 2nd Season toned down some of the elements that made the 1st Season good, it is still pretty good with the last episode doing a great job. If it keeps it, it definitely is head to head with Turn A Gundam for my favorite long-form Gundam Series (I am doing Gundam Origins for the original story)
Lenlo
Mhmm. It was one of those shows it weave adult themes into a kids show, so it had something for both. Now I can also appreciate the artstyle that doesnt use hard black outlines for everything.
AidanAK47
If anything I get so much more out of Samurai Jack now than when I watched it as a kid.
Lenlo
Love that dude Aidan. And yes Kaiser, I think anyone get enjoy it now. I love that its back, but even without that its easily standing on its own
Kaiser-Eoghan
How much of this love of samurai jack is a nostalgia driven thing? I'm not knocking that nostalgia but would it be possible to get something out of the show now if I never watched it when I was younger?
Lenlo
Yeah, that conversation was great. Really shows you how messed up hes become. Its also amazing when you realize that was the last set of spoken dialogue in the episode. There was not a single word uttered in the second half.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The audience who enjoyed samurai Jack has grown up, them bringing up seppuku and blood is possibly a part of that.
AidanAK47
Scene with the coffins was awesome as was the fight in the dark. My personal favorite part of the episode though was Jack arguing with his old design self. And young jack suggesting committing seppuku made my eyebrows raise. I mean..damn.
Lenlo
I agree Aidan. That quick shot of Jack vs the Daughter, with the sudden blood, suprised me as much as it did Jack. I really loved the scene with the coffins. The music nad sound was just great there.
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, It was a really great episode. I love the meta of Jack being worn down by the wait and the wait the viewers had to endure for the new season. I is rather odd seeing blood in Samurai Jack though but it does make that particular moment have so much more impact.
Topgavin
April 16th for NZ. It is a lesser known movie than Kimi no na wa though, so I do wonder how available it's going to be in cinemas
Lenlo
This second episode of Jack was really just amazing. Its making full use of the new budget/tech for the art and of the new rating, along with the impact the timeskip would have on Jack. The cinematography was superb as well.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: Koe ko machi will creen in Aussie in the beginning of April as well. I'll go to watch it; but I would love to jear your thoughts on the movie.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There is a preview screening of koe to kachi on Monday night, depending I may go, I may review it or at least talk about it on here.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm dying waiting for the Blame! anime film adaptation to come out in May. I've wanted an adaptation for years.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I'm too much of a cheap-ass to actually buy anything, don't even use legal streaming for films or anime/manga/comics, pirate almost everything.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Or shelves for that matter.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've fallen out of the collectors thing pretty much entirely. I don't like to advertise any of my interests on my bedroom wall either.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Some years ago I ended up selling almost all of my anime dvds/vhs and manga, comic books aswell, took down my posters and moved what figures I had left into attic boxes , just no space for it and it was a good way to get some quick extra cash.
Lenlo
I love Rakugo as well, im not meaning to bad talk it at all. I simply also agree with Aiden that slow rolling us with Yakumo's death was poorly done and that its feeling stretched.
Topgavin
Nevermind, the $30 price tag made that decision for me
Topgavin
Weird how I see $8 movies on youtube as a ripoff yet a $90 series as a bargain. All these $300 box sets made me think it'd be in the hundreds. Wonder if I should get rebellion too
SuperMario
I'm still pretty much a fan of Rakugo this season. It goes much darker than the first season, something I didn't dare to think before consider this isYotaro's story. Would love to see more about rakugo's industry but this season does flesh out a lot of our core characters
Kaiser-Eoghan
I said it before but I'll bring it up again, the slow pace allows for, when big things happen to have a larger impact when they do.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*In
**and(not on) waiting for the series to finish
Anonymous935946
Season 1 showed a lot more, different periods and times, the development of Rakugo, the tragedy of Sukeroku & Miyokichi (or at least one version). In contrast, season 2 was basically about Sukeroku's legacy in the form of Yotaro and Konatsu and their kids, and Yakumo's relationship with death, changing from fatalistic to happiness over the course of the series.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think it might be 13 episodes, the first season had 13.
Anonymous935946
To be honest, I understand your point: It's hard to actually describe what happened in season 2. I guess I became invested into Yakumo in season 1, and then warmed up to Yota and Konatsu in this season.
Anonymous935946
Yeah, I think they certainly could have compressed the front half of the season. There wasn't too much plot going on, but I enjoyed the characters and their interactions, so I didn't mind the deliberate pacing.
Lenlo
I still really like Rakugo, its really good, it just probably didnt need 12 episodes. That said, really lookin forward to the timeskip
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I've never actually seen any of Olivier Asayas' films come to think of it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But going back to that dragging on, that did factor in almost making me hold off on waiting for the series to finish before going back. The anon's comment was what got me to watch this weeks episode right now rather than waiting till later.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Rakugo remains at this point still going in too long, but in fairness to the anon, yes the episodes conclusion was effective on emotional level and I bought into the dreamy atmosphere, largely due to the good cinematography the series uses.
Lenlo
Really? Im torn. Im glad they didnt bait and switch us again, but I always liked how grounded Rakugo was so im not sure how ok I am with the supernatural part and some of it felt like fanservice in regards to bringing characters back. The VA though is fantastic as always and I am definitely looking forward to this last timeskip. Cant wait to see the kids grown up.
Anonymous935526
Rakugo was otherworldly today. Not going to lie, was fighting tears back, but failed at the end.
SuperMario
@Topgavin: the bluray goes by region as well so you can only buy it in Australia/NZ region (region 4). For Madoka I still find it easiest to just go to JB Hi Fi and buy it. Sometimes I find it cheaper from JB Hi Fi than even their original distribution company.
AidanAK47
@Topgavin, I ordered my Madoka bluray's from Amazon.co.uk.
Topgavin
Where do you guys buy your merch? Was looking into buying the Madoka blurays but can't find a reliable place to ship to NZ.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: nah, Personal Shopper isn't even a horror. It's just a failed arthouse that have little to say except grief.
SuperMario
...even now. For Raw, I would never expect the positive reactions from mainstream. I think the film really push the tolerance of the voewers, but it was a refrrshing watch.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: now you mentioned 2 films thay I really fond of. I come from Vietnam, so I could easily tell you that the settings are staged. The dialogue is pretty unnatural as well, but the movie grows a lot on me. I still love the striking visual and a long, slow mood the film evoke, and It speaks to one of the theme (women's identity in Vietnam society) that speaks well to me and still relevant...
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Is personal shopper really that mediocre a horror film?
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I also got back from seeing Raw a couple of hours ago, though the violence was enjoyable I was expecting it to be more so, it was also surprisingly funny at times.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I did eventually see Scent of Green Papaya, while I did like that a plot actually did appear later on I was mostly content to find it a really pretty looking and generally relaxing film.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: =< Sorry that anon post was me, was using the work computer and didn't log in.
AidanAK47
@Anon, don't do that. Don't hint at future events and just let people see for themselves.
Anonymous930711
The glasses teacher in scum's wish will have an interesting moment to look out for in the coming episodes, I read on in the manga. Only one chapter left.
SuperMario
*ED instead of OD
SuperMario
@anon928813: usually they will release the music separately from the DVD/Blurays. I believed the OP had released last year, and according to their website the OD gonna release in 5th of April
Anonymous928813
Does anyone know the release date for Zaregoto's OST? Is it bundled with one of the BDs?
Kaiser-Eoghan
Y'know I'd like to see this Akane-sensei girl attempt to seduce me and just watch her fail at trying to do so.
Kaiser-Eoghan
My guess is that Miura will do another 6 or so chapter run then put it down for another while.
Lenlo
Im so happy Berserk Manga is starting up again, but im curious for how long. I remember sitting through that boat. I was there for all 7 years of it. Im like a hiatus vet now
Kaiser-Eoghan
Pretty much in agreement on titan where after what the first season covers I've pretty much been waiting for it to get back on track before I bother to get back to it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I should be catching up and sangatsu and acca.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I never saw kekkai sensens first season so there's little chance of me watching the sequel.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Berserk and Natsume I'll just stick with the manga. I don't know about Bahamut, it took me a few episodes to get into before it became fun, but then the ending was disappointing, again maybe there's room for improvement in season 2.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I would hope that eccentric families second season would be able to live up to the potential of building on the first. However it's been a while since I've seen season one, might need to refresh myself.
SuperMario
For the Spring season, it is a season of sequels. From sequels alone, I'll follow Berserk, Eccentric Family, BBB, My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, Natsume (is it the last season?), How to Raise a Boring girlfriend. I dropped Shingeki no Bahamut after 3 episodes, but might pick it up again before the new season begin.
SuperMario
Before that, Utena and Haruhi.
SuperMario
Gotta love the extend a passionate fan would go. The last time I felt passionate about something anime-wise was Monogatari as there was a period of several months that I watched nothing but that series, and rewatched and rewatched. It just clicked with me personally at that stage of my life.
Lenlo
At this point, ill watch/read anything with Berserk on it. I already own all of the original print runs of the Manga. If I had the money, I would buy everything else.
SuperMario
@Lenlo: I'll be on the same boat with you regarding Berserk. I know I CAN ENDURE it (finger crossed)
Lenlo
Man, your season preview reminded me I soon have to watch another season of CGI Berserk. Im not going to like it, but its a trial I must go through as a hardcore Berserk fan.
Lenlo
Im glad they didnt lose the funny robots in their pursuit of the Grimdark
Lenlo
That flute into Skatman-like singing was great
AidanAK47
@Lenlo, I had the biggest smile when Jack destroyed the robots flute and he started singing with his mouth. Looking at clips of the show on youtube I don't think I appreciated just how funny this show was. Also digging Jacks PTSD and the daughters of Aku.
Lenlo
Dude has problems and I loved the singing robot
Lenlo
Have to say, enjoyed seeing Jack again.
Lenlo
Thanks Aidan! Cant wait to watch it tonight
Kaiser-Eoghan
Well I suppose it is moreso samurai Jack wasn't really a large part of my childhood.
AidanAK47
Don't know how it is for security but I never really had trouble with it.
Lenlo
Love me some Samurai Jack though
Lenlo
It may just be Malwarebytes actin up. Ill look into it and if its a false flag check it out.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I never really had any opinion of samurai Jack when it was airing.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Oh I'm enthusiastic about Kino season 2, but I want to be cautiously optimistic just in case.
Kaiser-Eoghan
But has anyone read on in the Kino novels to confirm that a second season would have good material to work with, would it fall prey to the light novel curse that apparently many of then weaken by the third volume?
Kaiser-Eoghan
The only issue I've found with kiss is that, in firefox at least, sometimes it slows down my browser but only now and then. Never had any trouble with viruses or mal/spyware on it. Though it won't allow adblock =<
SuperMario
@Aidan: I was surprised at Kino's Journey news as well. Yay for having a new season!!
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