I feel that every anime season I say “this was a pretty bad season” or, at best, “this was a mediocre season” but this season seems to have been particularly disappointing.
For the first time since I started watching seasonal anime (circa 2013?) there isn’t a single show that I picked up from the season and then enjoyed watching all the way through. The handful of shows I’m still watching are either sequels (and even then I’ve dropped some sequels) or are shows I’m watching as a joke (because they are bad). Like normally I don’t start writing these reviews until three weeks after the season has finished. But I’m starting this one nearly two weeks before the next season starts. Madness. In particular I’m shocked at how many shows I got more than halfway through and then just stopped watching.
Things I’m still watching and/or finished:
So fucking good. I was so scared about coming back into this season that I banked nearly an entire cour of episodes before taking the plunge and watching it in one mini-marathon when I had some time off for work because I was sick. And it was FANTASTIC, like I was so engrossed I didn’t take any notes of talking points until like 2/3 of the way through the season. I’m glad I did the rewatch of S1+S2 by coincidence in the months leading up to refresh me on the situation. It meant that when Arata (finally) confessed to Chihaya the emotional beat really hit and the reactions of all the other people (in particular the Karuta Club members) were really well played.
The middle two arcs of the show really shined as great content. First the qualifiers for the King/Queen matches where we got heaps of character growth- like Chihaya choosing to go on the School Trip instead while Mashima chose to compete. The background development/history of Dr Harada and how his career as a doctor fucked his initial chance of becoming Master in his youth and required him to revisit not only his game style by his life attitude. Which was then framed as a part of a ‘passionate youth’ vs ‘aged experience’ of Harada vs Arata. Plus we got nuanced relationships between Harada, Kitano (Haruda’s elderly rival and head of another Karuta Society) and the reader Makino and how actions in their past shaped the frosty relationships… which were then repaired by present day actions in the qualifier tournament. All while this is happening, we have the Queen Qualifier going on where Inokuma is in a tear-jerker struggle between her dream to keep playing karuta and being a mother for her very young children. (and is in a match of the returning retiree vs the upcoming star). SO MUCH character nuance and none of them are even the main characters. Then in the next arc the Harada story is further developed against the surprisingly depressing background of Master Suo and his struggles of the slow onset of a disability and Inokuma’s is developed against Shinobu’s struggles to make connections with other people (and dealing with her burgeoning friendship and accidental betrayal by Chihaya). While both games have streaks of passionate vs passionless game attitudes through them. Ugh so good.
There were also lots of smaller moments too- like when Taichi lied to Suo about Chihaya being his girlfriend (after Suo had decided Chiayaya could maybe be his future wife…) and also how Taichi bribed Suo into doing a post-match review which he never does. And the nuanced strategy in Harada vs Arata in the qualifier where Harada does an unheard of thing in forfeiting a match to manage his knee pain as an old man. Also the portrayal of dealing with knee pain was very realistic in my view.
But this is a Cynical Nerd blog so there were things that I wasn’t a fan of. I can’t really remember specifics in the first arc and across the season there was a much greater emphasis on relationships than karuta. Not that the relationship stuff was bad but the relative lack of actual karuta propelled storyline was disappointing. Especially in the last arc which was more about the various love triangles that has formed.
There was a big pay off with the love triangles with the second last ep having Taichi finally confess to Chihaya and then quit the club when she rejects him; throwing Chihaya into a loop as she can’t understand why he doesn’t want to hang out with her all the time immediately after the rejection. There were a couple things I didn’t like about how this played out. Firstly, half of the ep following this (the finale) was suddenly focused on Arata setting up his own club and learning the exact same lessons we’d seen Chihaya learn over the previous two seasons about the value of teams. Which meant that not only was it boringly redudant, it was so rushed it felt forced. And it was taking away valuable minutes in addressing the bombshells from the previous episode. Then there is a bit of joking around about how Chihaya is trying to figure out the uncertainty she feels following Taichi’s actions by going to the library… but is ultimately saved not by herself figuring things out but by Arata stepping in randomly. I really think it was a disservice to her character that she wasn’t able to draw on inner strength here and had to be saved by the guy she has the hots for. And the Chiyaya content is interspersed with some great stuff of the other club members stepping up to fill to void left by Taichi leaving and Chihaya being off figuring things out. However the Taichi stuff is not developed or addressed any further. I think they tried doing too much here and thus fucked it. For a dramatic finale, it should have ended on the previous episode with the confession and quit. For a satisfying ending it should have just been focused on Chihaya and the club dealing with the fall out. With Chiyaha coming to a conclusion herself in a more serious way and the club coping in a more humourous way (if they insist on having humour). Then in a post credit epilogue, have Chiyaya receive the message from Arata saying he’s put together his team and will see them at the team tournament next year to set up an arc for S4. Rather than not resolving some things, resolving other things poorly and wasting time on random character for Arata’s team we do not care about.
Also and as a random point, in the last few eps something happened with Chihaya’s VA and suddenly her default talking voice became what has been the emotionally-strained-and-crying-voice across the other 2 and 3/4 seasons. Was really jarring as she sounded like she was having a super emotional reaction to what was happening that didn’t fit with what was going on (pre-confession/quit of course). This was really noticeable because despite the like, 5+ year time gap between S2 and S3 and some recasting being done to replaces VAs who had passed away in that time period; overall I thought the voices were really spot on.
This show is absolute trash. It’s an adaption of a visual novel game where you are a chef or something and have cat maids work at your restaurant. Presumably you fuck them in the VN but here they just get up to wacky hi-jinks largely away from the chef (more often accompanied by the cat obsessed sister). It’s a pretty cutesy and inoffensive and empty show I largely started watching it coz it was cute girls doing cute things. Although the purple haired cat girl who keeps crowing on about getting ‘moist’ when things happen was cringey as fuck.
However as I kept watching I realised there is this weird, entirely accidental dark undertone to the concept. Like these cat girls are clearly sentient animals yet there is some ‘bell’ system where they get trained up to follow commands and stay focused or whatever to be awarded their ‘bell’. And if they don’t have a bell their not allowed to go outside unaccompanied by their human master. And of course the bell goes on a collar. And there are regular re-tests which they can fail and lose the privilege of free movement.
So like, they’re slaves yeah? Also weird that like the chef guy is starting a new restaurant and staffs it entirely with this slave cat girls. I presume coz they don’t get paid minimum wage. Or any wage. And are basically used as promotional props to attract customers. While the younger sister is part of some cat management group that tracks where cats are and what they’re doing. Towards the end the arranges for two other cats to be put into another business to serve as live in wait staff.
It’s fucked. Like, do they know they’ve made a show about interspecies slavery or was that an accident?
I almost the mistake of watching the first ep of this (not knowing what it was) at the office lunch desk. Fortunately I was quick the uptake something about this was a bit NSFW and switched to another show. To be honest, this show is kind of shitty. The story of it’s production- someone had this idea, some else greenlit it, someone decided to put it on broadcast TV, someone decided to license it internationally and then someone (Funimation) decided to drop it around episode 3 when they actually realised what it was- is better than the show itself. Kind of like Marchen Madden (?) from a few years back.
So this show is a fantasy world where we follow the adventure of 3 blokes (human, elf, semi-fallen angel) plus 1 revolving other fantasy species as they go test the wares of various fantasy species brothels. That’s crazy that this got off the ground.
Of course one has to watch the uncensored version, just to see what TV broadcast anime vaginas look like. But it does deal with some of the questions that this sort of Hentai don’t touch one coz that’s not the point of hentai. Like there’s one eps where they go to a fairy brothel. And it is a extended scene of then getting their dicks measured to find out which fairy can physically fit their penises inside them. With a reverse shame thing of the bigger your dick, the less attractive the fairy’s are. In another one they go a salamander place and physiclaly can’t do anything unless they have fire resistance or else they’ll get burned… so instead have a hot pot BBQ where the cook the stuff on the nude girl (…or in the nude girl). And there is some early commentary about how the ages of elves vs humans skews their views of attractiveness- with the 300 year old elf thinking the old human granny is still young and beautiful while the 500 year old, elf prostitute (who is drawn conventionally attractive) is ugly and old. Or the part where the semi-fallen angel (a hermaphrodite) decides to fuck a very masculine hyena women because her vestigial penis made for some interesting combinations…
Some of this cleverness is very fucked though- like the episode where they go to the reptilian brothel and see various lizard and bird creatures lay eggs. Nightmare inducing what they animated in that episode.
Oh and there is one episode where they go to a golem brothel and can build their own sex worker. Leading them to built look a likes of a female friend of theirs to the expected negative reaction when she finds out. Which is maybe a commentary (accidentally) of where Sex Robots might end up in the real world.
Plus there was a weird subplot in one episode about elections happening that then petered out in to nowhere as that sort of serious content doesn’t belong here. Also the post-credit scenes of some weird sex doctor doing nothing important or the prosistutes doing internal rankings of things were boring. And the random quartet of other blokes who would comment on the brothel reviews were irritating and one note jokes.
But I guess in summary there was an amazing amount of story in this glorified hentai… and an amazing amount of hentai for something put onto TV…
Also a bad those. First up- the repeated dog face licking is disgusting in terms of how often if happens and how much they animate.
Secondly, this show’s watchability rides entirely on the fact the female lead is a look-a-like of Onodera from Nisekoi (but with long hair to make her definitely not a copy!). This is particularly true when the finale ep gives us a basically naked Onodera-clone in a skimpy BDSM costume to be the ring girl for a boxing match.
The main character Jin is a massive cunt but given how idiotic everyone around him is it seems almost justifiable. Like everyone is a one-note character who gets pretty stale quickly. Like the Wolf Girls is overly hyperactive and is stealthy trained by Jin like a dog to do what he wants. The sloth girl who moves at a snails pace (well, sloths pace) and constantly dies coz of overexertion. The koala who is a bit dumb, can only cook with eucalyptus leaves and fondly remembers eating her mum’s shit to get gut bacteria. The cat who doesn’t do anything.
The only interesting main character is the Panda who is cleverly put into the trope role of famous idol attending the school. Who is an absolute moron. Kind of like real Pandas. Some of the side characters though are really interesting- like the Lion who tries pursuing a female Impala and has probably a solid 3 eps of content across the season following that surprisingly great arc as he tries to woo her and get her parents on board and such. And the brief arc of the Zebra who tries to be cool and hang with the horses but is exposed as more like a donkey and goes to hand with them (and they are basically Magic The Gathering Nerds)
But some secondary characters are very one note and get boring quick- the School President who is a naked mole rat and thus hates wearing clothes. The headmaster who is a lobster and who’s tank is constantly being broken. The Hyena girl who thinks she is a boy. (Also as an aside, what a shocked that the male animals are drawn as bipedal versions of the animal while the female animals are basically cute human girls with animal ears.)
The world is also a bit weird- like Jin and not-Onodera have never seen another human before. Yet Jin hates all animals. And there is a group of ‘extinct’ animals who a) are not extinct coz they’re alive and b) hate humans and want to kill Jin and not-Onodera as punishment for making them go extinct. But the extinct dinosaurs are happy just being teachers?
Oh also there is one ep where they go to the underwater campus of their school by the ocean and Jin declares the ocean sucks shit. Making him an even more empathetic MC as he was objectively right.
Haikyuu S4 (+OVAs)
Christ after that essay about Chihyafura, I don’t really have anywhere near as much to say about Haikyuu S4. The OVAs that filled the gap between S3 and S4 that let us cover the progress of the none-Karusuno teams were a good idea so that the mainstream audience wouldn’t switch of at the lack of Karasuno content on launch.
It’s a great season so far although I am several episodes behind. Being sports-ball focused it is ideally watched in arc length binges in my view so you can see each match in one hit. There’s bit of character development, particularly for Tsukishima, and some funny moments of Hinata forcing his way to a training camp and getting valuable experience as a ball boy rather than a player.
But yeah, it’s Haikyuu. By this stage you love it or you don’t. There’ not much to say.
Things I’ve dropped mid-season
This was my hot tip to be AOTS after the first couple eps. Interesting concept, interesting characters, a weird high-school-girl-chasing-collage-aged/graduated-guy-that-would-be-unacceptably-creepy-in-reverse relationship I could just ignore. But it really stumbled.
Firstly, they kept mentioning the age difference between the male and female leads. Honestly the only thing creepier than the age difference was how often they mentioned it.
Secondly, the second/third arc with the dead idol ghost girl just dragged on and on and on and kept getting more and more complicated that I just gave up and dropped it. Female MC is in a new city and wait the idol ghost is being investigated by the male MCs ex-gf who is chasing up the death of her superior officer by idol-ghost while the male MC has disappeared but then he reappears to fight the idol monster by co-incidence in the same city and it turns out that the idol-ghost is powered by internet forums being managed by male MCs older sister who is actually in love with and went out with the cop girl originally coz they look similar and sister has some mysterious motive to be doing this and fucking things up for female MC and the ghost realm…
Like it killed the momentum where like 2 episodes in a row was the main guy being beaten up with a steel-beam mostly off screen in a deadlocked fight while the main girl sat in a car typing on internet forums and narrating to the secondary girl what lies she was making up to try weaken the ghost. And they didn’t finish it up. Ugh.
Also every episode seemed to end in the middle of a big moment, rather than having the big moments contained within an episode. Very weird.
Somali and the Forest Guardian
This was a very sweet and cute show but I found it to be too slow and too episodic to really hold my attention. Kind of like Kino Journey or Girls Last Tour. Nothing really happened rather than kind of shallow interactions with one off characters that showed an interesting world and the deepening relationship between (effectively) a man and his adopted/rescued daughter as they looked for the daughter’s real family.
I did like the notion in this show that in this multi-species world, humans had been incredibly racist and violent yet weak. Leading to them starting wars with the other races and being wiped into effective extinction to stop their cruelty. Although some of the details of these things didn’t really add up and I’m not sure it was intentional. Like there seems to maybe be a commentary on how history is written by the victor that isn’t deliberate. In particular the humans of old are admonished for their intense cruelty that led other races to be forced to fight them but no-one ever comments that the cruelty those races are/have inflicted on humans and suspected humans is equally (if not more) cruel. And like in one of the later eps the planned murder of the six year old human child is justified because “centuries ago a wolf man was walking through a forest and happened to stumble upon a human child who was for some reason in the woods being attacked by viscous wolves. The wolf man bravely fought off these wolves all by himself and gallantly took the child to the nearby village where he was then shot on sight out of racism/fear. Therefore we kill al humans”. Aside from some very convenient details and non-sensical responses by the humans, even it that story was true how the fuck did anyone find out about it? The wolfman was by himself and allegedly killed in a human village. How did word get out about what happened to him? I suspect this is just a by-product of less than stellar writing/continuity maintenance but it does hint at a potential great theme that could have been explored.
I should point out this show wasn’t really bad, it just was too slow and simple for my tastes. I think initially I dropped it episode 8 or 9. But then I actually got spoiled through facebook on what I thought was an incredible ending leading me to pick it back up and rush through to get to that moment, only to find that wasn’t the actual end.
So the main thrust of the story is that the Golem (dad) has been looking after the human (daughter) in his forest but he has a set lifespan of 10 years and is in his last year. So he wants to get her to somewhere where she will be able to survive and grow up safely before he dies. Hence their hunt for a human settlement. On facebook I saw a series of images that showed Somali (the human) at some big festival looking happy and being held up by another character to be able to see. Then she turns around to excitedly talk to the Golem and realises he wasn’t there. Which I think would have been an incredible way to end the show- with the Golem succeeding in his goal and then dying (and, I dunno, disintegrating into dust while Somali was looking away). Successful in his mission and her then left in the care of a new family to help her get through the sadness/mourning. So good. Instead that’s the halfway point and it turns out he’d just tried to fuck off. Somali chases him down and in a very typical and boring yelling conversation convinces him to stay with her forever.
This was a surprisingly entertaining show about fashion and modelling that I didn’t expect to like. Kind of like how Devil wears Prada is a surprisingly great movie. Interesting lens to view it through of the male MC who is incredibly talented naturally but has incredibly financial family burdens on him that strangle his dreams and the female MC who has grown up in the modelling business and has everything right except for being too short.
However it doesn’t really go anywhere with that and while it started great with them both trying to work in the industry (while still being students) it quickly devolved into a typical, boring school based competition between male MC and highly exaggerated one note characters (while female MC and the industry people from earlier kind of disappear). It got boring very fast and I dropped it around episode 9.
Look, as a spin off story of Madoka this show had potentially had impossibly high expectations to live up to. Even with the clusterfuck that was the sequel movie and a large amount of discourse in the lead up to this starting that the story is based off a game and is nowhere near as good.
Even so, I stuck with it for a while and while it had an interesting premise to start with (a magical girl who can’t remember what her wish was but does remember she has a little sister who everyone else has forgotten) but that was sidetracked as an increasingly large number of magical girls were introduced as they tried to truck down some luck granting magic thing and a secret shadowy organisation or something and… yeah… it was just boringly typical and uninteresting. Dropped after episode 10.
For some reason I was pretty excited for this show but I’m fairly sure in hindsight that I wasn’t that big a fan of the first season. The first ep is centered around the introduction of the ‘Rising of the Shield Hero’ characters…. who are then ignored mostly for the rest of the season.
Nothing really interesting happens, with the 12 minute episodes being too long for a comedy short and too short for interesting story telling. Dropped after episode 9
Heya Camp (aka Yuru Camps S1.5 or S2?)
This was the biggest disappointment for me this season. I loved the first season of Yuru Camp and was really excited for the sequel. To then be crushed when the sequel was a series of 3 minute shorts. So nothing really happened in them which made the week to week wait terrible. I think across them the story is the girls following one of those tourist hot spot maps. Given the appeal of the show was them going camping not them going sight seeing, very disappointed. Dropped after episode 8 but honestly if there is every a proper sequel (which I think there is soon) I’ll probably just marathon all these as a block for a single ‘episode’ to lead into episode 1 of season 2.
I’m actually surprised I didn’t like this show given how much everyone else I know who watches anime creamed their metaphorical jeans over it. It’s about highschool girls wanting to make anime as a school club and is a bit of a behind the scene look at the production process (with each of the main trio representing different parts of the process). I personally loved Shirobako which did a similar thing, as well as shows like New Game and Genshiken and Bakuman which also have similarities. Plus this show has a really unique art style which while maybe lower quality than a typical anime
But I very quickly found myself getting bored after a very fun first episode. It took me a few more episodes to figure it out- this show was incredibly shallow. Approx 1/3-1/2 of every episode was dedicated to an elaborate dream-esque sequence of the three girls (well, two of them) animating some sort of scene. Which looked great. But was actually accomplishing nothing in terms of further progressing the plot or developing the characters. It was just a flashy set piece that chewed up time and gave some meta-insight into the process of making anime. But the worst part was that the subject of each sequence was completely random and disconnected from any larger idea (at least in the episodes I saw) being inspired by some random thing encountered as the trio set up their ‘film club’ to make an anime. I suspect that if each sequence had been them actually making something to do with the anime they wanted to make rather than just random shit it would have been orders of magnitude better. Dropped after 3 episodes.
Other things worth commenting on
Darwin’s Game- A fairly fun concept mixing death games a la Hunger Games or Battle Royale with a mobile app delivery system. You get invited in and manifest some special ability and then have to fight (often to the death) to win and earn points or whatever. The goal of the game wasn’t really explained in the first three eps and the over-the-top female lead’s lady-boner for the MC put me off enough to not watch further But I have heard some good things about it so maybe it is worth checking out again given the COVIF-19 shut downs…
Koisuru Asteroid- I was repeatedly pointed out to me how beatifically and well animated this show was, in particular how the studio actually put in effort and resources to animate characters in the background. While nice, that wasn’t enough to cover over the paper thin characters and lack of interesting angles being explored in the fairly interesting concept of kids trying to make a school club of two different interests being jammed together work. Just a typical high school girls doing misc things anime.
Hatena Illusion- It’s like the worst character of the seven highschool prodigies show got his own spin off in a dark universe version of Magic Kaito.
Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu- A SAO clone where the gimmick is a female lead and game devs who don’t know how to design or balance a game
Infinite Dendrogram- Another SAO clone that apparently has some great twist halfway through where it turns out it isn’t a game but is actually a real alternate reality that the people have been fucking with and/or saving. Also apparently the MC has some super famous siblings. Too bad it was incredibly bland (and had the worst fight scene I’ve ever seen where the guys’ plan was to hopefully not be killed more than six times…) so fuck that
Nanabun no Nijyuuni- a weird show where it’s called 22/7 but is a group of eight random wannabe idols following the instructions given from a magic rock underground. Very strange.
Number 24- a terrible rugby anime where they try to have a message that if you are horrifically injured in a sports match all you need is will power to overcome it.
Oda Cinnamon Nobunaga- Nobunaga and his contemporaries are reincarnated as dogs in modern Japan. Just what will they think of next?
Plunderer- why would you make your main character specifically a sex pest?
Pet- what seemed to initially be an elaborate, trippy show about mind bending power quickly degenerated into an erratic mess with big reveals and twists that just served to make things worse.
Rikei ga Koi ni Ochita no de Shoumei shitemita- like the Big Bang Theory but anime i.e. someone trying to make a show about scientists who has never seen a real scientist. let alone interacted with one.
ARP Backstage Pass- absolutely terrible male Vocaloid group show but fantastically bad post-credit scene where the of Vocaloids of the characters are awkwardly standing about in a recording studio commenting on the episode. Where the real world animators have them doing some whacked movements to try make them look real or something.
Oshi ga Budoukan Ittekuretara Shinu- a really cool concept of showing the idol craze from the perspective of a hard core fan rather than just the idol group. However really reminded me how I dislike idol fans, moreso than I dislike Idols themselves, so a very quick drop after watching most of an episode to confirm I did not like any of the characters who were archetypical fans.
ID Invaded- a mix of the worst parts of Psychopass and Minority Report. Had an interesting start but didn’t really go anywhere with it
Beastars (from last season but only watched this season)
Japan is trying to make furries acceptable it seems. And wolf girls sexy. With a weird amount of success. (Like seriously the amount of work put into making the underclass wolf girl Juno be hot was crazy)
But seriously- WHO THE FUCK KILLED TEM?! That is such a strong opening plot thread that is dropped at the end of ep2/start of ep 3 to pursue a romance story between a wolf and a rabbit plus the staging of a play by the very exclusive drama club. Such a strange decision to just drop the inciting incident and never revisit it or solve who murdered the guy. Like the first two eps are really sombre as the MC Legossi the wolf things about the murder and what it means… to then have ep2 end with a rabbit stripping naked and trying to fuck Legossi coz she thinks he is trying to fuck her.
Also it really struck me as weird that people (well, animals) were so against interspecies relationships yet were super keen on having an integrated society to overcome carnivore vs herbivore problems. Like a great way to move past those would be to allow (and encourage) people to hang out with different people. And maybe even fuck a bit.
Haru (hot rabbit upperclassman) gets a real rough trot in this movie- she’s basically forced into being a bit of a slut as that’s the only way she can get people to interact with her and then she gets mercilessly bullied for it. But there were some great scenes between her and Legossi and they connect o a deeper emotional leevl that neither of them knows how to respond to.
There’s some weird shit that happens with the… deer(?) Louis at the end that I don’t really understand. Wasn’t clear what was going on. But the part where he brutally finishes off the Lion Mafia (after Legossi had fucked them up saving the kidnapped Haru) was mercilessly cold. On the flip side, the show got a bit too into how brave and great Louis was for performing in the school play despite his hurt ankle… and how he then had to come in and replace his replacement in the second show coz only he could act well for the legions of drama fans at the school.
There are a few odd bits towards the end that just struck me as implausible, even in a world of animal people. Firstly, there was a scene where the Town Mayor was just wandering about the set up for a festival with no aides or media or anything. Letting him tell Legossi and/or Louis (forget which, maybe both) to give up on Haru coz the Lion Mafia who had taken her were a) going to eat her and b) too powerful to stop. How was the maor able to say that out loud without someone hearing it and the media going crazy?!
At the same festival, after doing a weirdly sexual dance the wolf girl Juno stops everything down to loudly proclaim how great and gentle Legossit is. Which then miraculously cures all the anti-carnivore sentiment the audience was feeling at the time given a spate of carnivore cause murders of herbivores… yeah cool…
Also there is a weird post-credit teaser that didn’t really make sense. Looking it up it was a teaser about the murderer of Tem and some crazy drugs storyline…. cool, I think a S2 has been greenlit by Netflix
This was fine. Not great. Not terrible. It was barely a movie. It was literally a five episode arc stitched together into a single release. Including the little scene change still images of the chibi characters. Which they used to skip over scenes- which works fine for TV shows but for a movie it was weirdly jarring as we were basically leaving scenes mid-conversation so a joke could land and then not seeing how they got from one location/time period to the next.
There were some great parts- like peak Konosuba humour when Kazuma helps the big bad open the door into the secret lab and then kicks them down the stairs and locks them inside. (Unfortunately the big bad then broke out). Also the Crimson Demons were pretty great- both their insane levels of OPness and the clearly manufacture ‘bit’ joke nature of all the crap they shout out for their magic (although the explanation for their OPness was both boring and unnecessary). Plus the comedic and tragic poverty of Megumin’s family, leading to them trying increasingly elaborate plans to get her hooked up with Kazuma, was great.
Conversely- there was some weird shit that Japan seems to be ok with and shouldn’t. Like lazy jokes about rape and then transphobia with the Big Bad. Ugh. Just terrible.
Also Yunyun was criminally underused. As usual with Konosuba. The only ‘heart’ in all of the movie was when Yunyun saved Megumin’s sister in a flashback and in doing so fucked her allocation of magic skill points.
While the final fight scene was very well animated, there was some dodgy stuff in other parts of the film and I don’t think it was really worth seeing in cinema.
Sadly this might be the last Gym Anime section for a while given my gym has closed due to COVIF-19 and it’s much harder to walk around outside and watch anime on my iPad.
Goddamn this show was fantastic. It admittedly starts a little slow as it introduces game concepts that are much more well known amongst the anime watching community than they were back when it came out. This does become more pronounced with the kids training arc as it really goes whole hog in establishing the foundations of the game mechanics and logic and stuff which is essential for a first time watcher.
But the excellent arcs of ‘Crescent Moon Burger’ where Shiro uses economics and guile to wrench the Akiba players out of depression and give them a purpose was great and the ‘Return of the Goblin King’ where they had to build relations with the NPC nations and then go fight off a goblin invasion they’d inadvertently caused more than make up for those draggy bits. Also the last arc about the festival was super rushed but I dunno what else one could do with a 3 episode chunk after you finish you big main arc for a 2 cour show. And those two great arcs definitely make up the majority of the show.
Having recently watched SNAFU I found it interesting to compare how Shiro embracing the villain role was done compared to Hachiman. Where Shiro’s evil embrace is much more accepted by those around him (with Minori being a notable exception to this but it’s played that it is, aside from her being in love with him, due to her being younger while the older people realise the value of having a villain around). But the way that Shiro and Crusty basically do good cop-bad cop to all of Akihabara and then then NPC nations and stuff was really well executed.
It also did these like, non-battlefield battles really really well. In particular Shiro’s schemes to set up the Roundtable (both in getting the money to buy the guild hall and in inviting the selected guilds to form the Roundtable) and Minori going through paperwork to get the festival ready and the political dynamics to get relationships set up with the NPC nation were all really good.
I also really like the relationship that was built up between Crusty and Rayneshia (Lenissia?). Felt very organic and believable. I similarly found Naotusugu and Marrielle plus Rudy and Isuzu. I found the Nyanta-Serrara and Shiroe-Minori pseudo relationships less appealing though given they were both one-way attractions by much younger girls to much older guys. Actually I thought there were too many chicks interested in Shiroe but I guess that’s what you get with the MC.
Speaking of Rudy- damn the emotional beat of him and his contract signing with Shiroe to get him out of a tight spot was fucking incredibly. Tears to my eyes.
I think weirdly that this show has an incredibly interesting world and really want to find out what is going one (why are the Adventurers here? What happened to the Knights of Izumo?) but I have such a bitter taste in my mouth from S2 being so disappointing that I couldn’t do it. Might be something I force myself through in the shutdown in prep for S3 coming out soonish.
Watched this ages ago with some mates I haven’t seen in ages and was a bit unsure about giving it another go. I watched the first arc, seven eps, and it was really good. Super tense as the titular Akagi plays mahjong against various Yakuza people and beats them despite the odds (often involving some level of cheating). I remembered that Akagi won through superb skill but on this rewatch his victories are much more due to extraordinary luck than anything else. And external luck- like lucky the cop chasing him for crashing a car into the ocean was crooked and also knew yakuza people. There isn’t really much else to say, it was a fun show. Although fuck off is they want me to believe that Akagi is 13. Twenty is a more believable age. Episode 8 then had a time skip by 5 years or something and I decided my appetite in the area had been whet so I decided to pause and move on to something else.
Damn this show was great. Seeing Hachiken develop as a character in this entirely new environment (an agricultural high school) and thus force all the farm kids to change with his fresh, city attitude to things was so fucking good. I remembered from my initial watch that tragedy involving Komoba’s family going bankrupt and him having to leave school but I was surprised that played out in late S2. Could have sworn it was S1, especially since the knowledge of this impending event gave a hugely bittersweet taste to all the advice the farm kids were giving Hachiken about how to adapt to the farm life right away from episode 1.
I really loved the Porkbowl arc- a great story that forced all the characters (and the viewer) to think about the reality and morality of modern animal farming practices. The school festival arc that wrapped S1 was pretty fun but predictable- Hachiken was clearly overcommitted and while him getting hospitalised when he crashed and burned was more extreme than expected, that and the result where everyone else pitched in to cover were predictable. Plus the theme across the whole series about these young kids having to decide whether to try follow their dreams or stay in the family business (or try to do both or try to merge them together) was really impactful.
There were also lots of little moments with the characters that were really funny- like Tomikawa being an idiot, the Equestrian club senpai being unable to get a job, the redhead girl stealing the teachers cheese, Hachiken’s brother being a lazy genius worker, the dynamic between Hachiken and Mikage’s father. Plus some episodic storylines about people mistakenly trying to fin UFOs or mistakenly thinking someone had gotten knocked up.
That being said, I felt really disappointed when they show end for the sheer number of plot threads that were not resolved. In particular the Hackiken-Mikage romance, the need for Mikage to raise her grades to be able to get into uni and the horrifically fucked up family situation Hachiken had left behind by choosing this school. Related to this, both series were only 11 episodes long. I think those missing 2-4 episodes to have a full 2 cour really would have let them flesh those things our and make an all round stellar show.
This show had a good start but I dropped it mid-episode 5 when ‘Antiskill’ (a police group I don’t care about) were fighting ‘DA’ (a terrorist group I didn’t know anything about) in a gun fight (that was poorly animated). Fuck that. I came to see Accelerator kick ass using his crazy OP esper powers while Last Order runs around being funny and cute with him.
Firstly- a fucking great OP. Absolutely bangin tune. And then a really funny and enjoyable show. Hasebe is basically what I aspire to be as a working professional- maximally lazy and still employed (and very good at the job when it needs to be done). I was really pleased to see how the Hasebe-Lucy relationship developed although the twist that it was his dad who approved her crazy name was very obvious from episode 1. The twist about the Section Manager being a stuffed rabbit was less grating than I remembered it being.
Being a fairly casual comedy there isn’t really a lot to point at as a fantastic key moment. It has a really solid cast, both the ‘main’ three of Hasebe, Lucy and Miyoshi as new employees but also the extra’s like the work senpais Ichimaya and Chihaya plus Toko as the ‘customer’/little sister with a brother complex. But I was really fucking annoyed at how little the romance plots moved. Especially between Ichimaya and Chihaya. Like they fucking teased them coming out public, especially to Ichimaya’s sister Toko so much and yet didn’t fucking do it. Also the introduction of Tanaka as a rival for Hasebe (sort of?) and a love interest for Miyoshi (sort of?) felt really forced as she was the only main person without a love interest.
But definitely worth a watch if you haven’t seen it before. Would love a second season!
I think this has possibly the best first episode of anything, although you only realise that at the very end of the episode. While rewatching it when you know what is going on you spot heaps of little clues- the odd grave marker in the rooftop garden, the odd postures of the people on the sports field. You think it’s just cute girls doing cute things but then bamn- zombie apocalypse and the MC girl has had a mental snap and is delusional. Fucking boom.
Across the series it had a great mix of tense moments and fun/funny moments. Mixing pool episodes with dangerous trips to the mall to get supplies. Weirdly time appropriate with the COVID-19 stuff shutting shit down and the need for people to keen active and entertained beyond ‘just surviving’.
My only main criticism is a story related one… CLOSE THE FUCKING SCHOOL GATE. We see the school has a really solid wall/fence around it with apparently only one entry/exit point through the front gate. Close it. Stop zombies form being able to get into the complex and then you can slowly knock off the ones who are already inside. Goddammit. We also later find out the school was a deliberate safe point/bunker for the potential zombie apocalypse so it would definitely have been able to do it.
Actually a second main criticism- it climaxed like half an episode too early which then meant that the last half of the finale was weirdly drawn out. Like they introduced the idea of their being a second dog at the school which is what prompted the now dead original dog to venture out of the safe zone… only to then fuck off to look for another safe house and not get the dog (which is confirmed to be there in the credits… why?). Although the surprise Kei reveal in that section was quite a shock and powerful. The S2 tease post-credits was maybe a bit optimistic.
Another surprisingly good show to rewatch. The music wasn’t as good as I remembered but the show itself had a great mix of cool action/fight scenes and funny and/or touching character moments. And the twist reveal in ep1/2 about what was going on (and what happened with Tatsumi’s friends) really set a great tone for the whole show. Not what was expected.
Also holy shit so many characters die. I remembered Bulat’s death but then Sheele died less than two episodes later. Then towards the end of the season in a 20 minute period across two episodes we lose three main characters in a row. Then the MAIN PROTAGANIST dies in the SECOND LAST episode. What the hell, Crazy.
For a 2 cour series the escalation of power was pretty reasonable and consistent across the whole show. Although there seemed to be a bit too many ‘villain of the week’ episodes jammed in to the end to justify why the good team and bad team didn’t just immediately fight around ep16 instead of ep22.
Also it really didn’t make sense to me that Wave stuck on Team Bad when his entire character was ill-suited to them. Exactly like Tatsumi. (Sure Wave teamed up with Tatsumi at the end, but only at the point where basically all of Team Bad were dead and another, more powerful foe had shown up)
Great show, definitely worth checking out. Just don’t get attached to anyone.
Before watching Servant x Service, I wanted to watch Working! which was by the same creator but down first. My first attempt to watch it had Crunchroll load up the spin off show which was fine but less good. Then it started playing S2 Episode 1 of Working!!. Then episode 1 of season 3. Then it decided to tell me that for some reason season 1 isn’t available in Australia for some unknown reason. So I didn’t watch it
Ugh this was so long ago that talking about it seems really pointless. Especially given I thought it was interesting but not very exciting. It was a really fun journey but in the end it was actually a really simple revenge plot that was pretty stupid and flawed. I know that in the OG comic this is a sequel to that the complex and dumb plot by Ozymandias is meant to be stupid to the reader but this was boring stupid.
I liked the little easter eggs clues hid throughout the place e.g. the old man Ozymandias statue, the big blue dildo called Ex-Cal-ibur. But got annoyed at stuff that wasn’t explained- that the silver man who slid into the drain system while being chased by a cop.
I thought Dr Manhattan’s death at the end was stupid. Very avoidable. Kind of a lazy way to get around him being both so OP and so detached from the worldly problems of the… well… world.
The two outstanding things to me were a) the Jeremy Irons scenes which were so different to everything else and the slow reveal of what was going on there and b) the flashback episode to Hooded Mask in like the 1920s or 30s.
Yeah I dunno. I vaguely remember the movie and have had the comic (well, ‘graphic novel’) explained to me numerous times but I really didn’t see what was so great about this show. But definitely worth watching if you do love the OG comic from what I can tell, a great adaption of that idea/concept into a modern setting.
This was an odd show. I really didn’t like the start and initially dropped it after one episode. But for some reason I went back and persevered and found the second half was much better.
I think the idea of disconnected timelines was interesting but think it was poorly done as the chronologically last storyline spoiled parts of the other two. Also the fact one story took centuries, one years and the last a matter of days wasn’t clear to me to begin with and made this seem inexplicably all over the place. But looking into the production this is because S1 was really a S0 adapting a whole bunch of prequel material rather than adapting a singular story arc.
I don’t know why people creamed themselves over the fights in episode 1. Or one of the fights in ep 1. Nothing seemed particularly interesting or great about them.
The cliffhanger ending was really fucking annoying. Clearly made to generate hype and media as people talk about it. The mysterious old man on the dragon hunt quest turning out to be a dragon was very predictable.
The Bard guy shat me to no end. Such a stupid audience/author insert- talking about modern shit like PR and marketing in a world where those things don’t exist coz people are too busy avoiding dragons and the plague.
I have a note that says “I dont’ get Yennefer gating the school”. I don’t know what the fuck I meant by that. Maybe ‘hating’?
I guess this was fine but I would wait until the next season is out. Maybe just watch the first six episodes and then wait to finish the last two when the rest of the story is out.
The Mandalorian (S1?)
This was pretty good. It dragged in the middle with some self-contained stuff that was capped with a meh episode ironically being direct by Dave Filioni. But then it has a great prison escape movie with a double cross and then revenge (featuring a really ugly twilek and a Robot voiced by Moss from IT Crowd) that had an obvious but satisfying little epilogue scene. Then the last couple eps had a great through line bringing things together from previous episodes so the titular Mandalorian could protect/save baby yoda. There was also a surprisingly emotional beat when we learned Mando’s clan had all been massacred after his initial betrayal and escape to save Baby Yoda. And an even more surprising reveal of the Dark Saber in the hands of an ex-Imperial Officer.
Also took me surprisingly long to pin down when exactly this movie falls in the Star Wars timeline. And I liked how there was some moving around of episode release dates so that the episode where Baby Yoda does force healing would come out before the Rise of Skywalker so they could technically say that was a pre-established force power and not a random thing they threw in to try piece together a movie plot.
I really liked this because it’s probably the first thing since the Prequels that have legitimately expanded the scope of the Star Wars universe with new ideas and concepts and themes and stuff. Rather than just retreading old ones or shitting on old ones.
This was an odd one for me because I initially was really enjoying the show… then I watched the Red Letter Media reviews and realised that I was really missing some stuff. In particular, this wasn’t really a Star Trek show. It seems to have been written by people who have only seen the Star Trek movies and don’t really get the Star Trek universe.
For example, the Romulan Star Empire isn’t just one planet in one solar system. It’s a system spanning group as big as the Federation. Which means it makes no sense why they would be entirely reliant on the Federation for support evacuating a single star system. Nor does it make sense that the Federation would suddenly become incredibly xenophobic and hate the Romulans and decide to pull aid after an entirely unrelated issue with synthetic robots. Again the Federation isn’t reliant only on the resources of the Earth system so losing Mars isn’t that big of a deal. But more to the point, just because the Romulans are sort of enemies doesn’t mean the Federation would hang them out to dry. Almost the opposite- originally the Klingons were the big enemies but the Federation tirelessly worked to turn them into allies. They’d do the same for the Romulans.
Whatsmore, within the Federation it’s established that wealth is no longer really a thing and poverty doesn’t exist. So having Ravi live in poverty and be super bitter over Picard’s rich family wealth makes no sense. (Also Picard’s family home was destroyed in a fire that killed all his family, so it make no sense that his place is furnished with ancient family heirloom furniture). It reeks of trying to jam in ‘real world’ messages in an ineffective way (as opposed to how prior Star Treks did that super subtly and expertly). In a similar vein the way the main story was centred around ancient Romulan myths and prophecies and ‘those chosen one’ being fulfilled really ran counter to the rationalism that is in the DNA of Star Trek.
On the character side of things, even I know that the Picard in this new series is super disconnected from the original Picard. Firstly Picard hates kids so his weird relationship with the Romulan Warrior Monk boy makes no sense (no does his keeping children memorabilia in his storage locker). But also Picard was famously distant from his crew in general, him going to play poker with them at the end of the series was a first. But if there were any crew member he was close to, it was Dr Beverley Crusher. Not Data. The weird maybe homosexual love relationship they set up between Picard and Data as Picard’s driving force in his Enterprise live makes no sense. Now I acknowledge that in the 20-40 years between TNG and Picard, Picard could have changed. But you need to show that change, even if through flashbacks, not just make it and then set up in flashbacks that he’d actually always been this way.
I think this show suffered for having a lack of a consistent story through line. Like in episode 1 we’re introduced to a bunch of characters who are either dead or left behind by the end of episode 3…. like what was the point of the Romulan butlers Picard had being left behind. Then in the middle it got diverted into this side story about Borg and borg drones being de-borgified. Which was kind of interesting but again didn’t really serve much of a purpose for the overall story of ‘what happened with the Synths’ (also like, since when were they called ‘Synths’?’). Although I’m glad that it didn’t turn out that the Borg were actually created by the Romulans way in the past… it just turned out one lady was so sad it destroyed the Bog cubes ability to function… so… yay? There’s also this clumsy introduction of Seven of Nine for Voyager fans plus this weird meta-death of a Borg character who’s OG actor become a weird racist on Twitter and they wanted to make clear he wouldn’t be able to reprise the role.
Then in the final clump of episodes (after a one off ep making pizza in a forest planet where we learn the federation decided to just let people die of a curable illness because they became xenophobic against synths…) we finally get to the plot about the synths. Where it turns out that they weren’t actually evil but then actually they are evil but then they can maybe choose to not be evil. Because the show is just ripping off the plot of Mass Effect 3 and/or Halo 2 (I think its Halo 2) of some external force of uber-Synths being summoned by the Synths to destroy all organic life. Somehow. Ugh it’s such a mess.
The evil Romulans are also super one note and shallow villains. And they hit all the lame stereotypes- the evil girl who just likes being cruel and killing things (and was disguised as a human for no real reason in ep1). The evil boy who turns out to not be evil and switches sides coz he loves one of the main girls. The weird Romulan Starfleet lady who is a mole in Starfleet but not a good one.
Even stuff within the 10 episode span weren’t internally consistent. Like they talk in ep2 about how the synths are super strong and can rip through titanium walls with their hands. But then in ep10 three of our heroes go in hand-to-hand combat with them and aren’t immediately murdered. The AI scientist Agnes has some weird shit done to her to make her a mind slave or something so it’s impossible to know when her actions are a secret doublecross of the heroes or a triplecross of the people who mind fucked her to go back with the heroes. And the Elnore Warrior Monk guy is either poorly written or poorly acted because he seems so out of place as an idiot comedy character while everyone else is a crazy smart drama character.
When they revealed that not-Data was trying to figure out how to transfer memories, was pretty obvious that the random illness Picard was diagnosed with in ep1 that hadn’t come up again was going to flare up in the end and he’d be saved by getting put into a new body. Also got very annoyed how in the final scene basically every character had paired up with these weird forced diversity things- Picard+Data (although Data was now dead), Ravi and Seven of Nine, Agnes and Rious(?). So boring.
The Mole US (S1)
This was a surprising random thing I watched a couple weeks ago. One of the better Survivor podcasts I listen to, the Dom and Colin Podcast, talked about them doing a retrospective on this and how it was all available on YouTube. Having a vague recollection of it from my childhood and a lot of workplace flexibility at home I figured I’d give it a shot.
And damn its really good. Anderson Cooper does a great job as host (even if he does blow up the games of some players by sharing what they’ve done to to group). It is surprisingly engaging, I think because being early in the reality TV phenomenon it had actual, real people being themselves rather than people playing characters to try get famous (although the Mole was of course playing a character).
The obvious thing to note is how dated it is- this show is from pre 9/11 and it shows. The people don’t really get how mobile phones work, have to read/follow paper maps or tourist guidebooks for info and play dominoes to fill in time when waiting for stuff. Also the shit they get asked to do is crazy by modern standards- like in one challenge they each have to get charged by a bull twice and try pull the bull down via its tail. Crazy.
For the most part the challenges were really good I felt. The idea is that they had to come up with things that required teamwork and required opportunities for the contestants to legitimately not do it (e.g. fear of heights for skydiving) or for the contestants to actively betray the tea for individual reward i.e. exemption from elimination (e.g. the laser tag challenge) and also let the Mole make legitimate sabotage attempts without being obvious (e.g. the paintball night defence, the watch identification task).
One obvious exception to this was the challenge where one person had to agree to shave their hair. Making a woman in particular do this for like $1000 of pot money is insanely unreasonable given the cultural and social norms around women’s hair. Especially when the woman in question is getting married in two months time. That was just fucked.
Another thing I liked was the obvious production vs contestant stuff going on. Like one contestant got busted snooping in a production van for clues and one challenge was deliberately leaving the contestants unsupervised near a (fake) production notebook. Also in the finale contestants who’d identified the Mole correctly pointed out they’d used things like how production were allocating hotel rooms to determine who the Mole was. Such open battle lines between these two groups was so strange and great.
I was legit surprised at who the Mole was at the end and who the winner was I’d tipped the Winner was the Mole and the guy who came 2nd would win. But I think that was because they’d nailed the key strategy in the Mole- the two non-Moles Stephen and Jim had not only formed a solid alliance but they’d quickly nailed down that Kathryn was the Mole. Which then meant that they started deliberately doing Mole like behaviour to make other people suspect them and have the other guy throw suspicion on them. That way everyone else would be guessing wrong and get eliminated.
This works really well because the elimination mechanic is entirely in the individual players hands- they have to answer a bunch of questions about what the Mole had done in that cycle’s tasks. I really like this mechanic and how it leaves things entirely up to to the individual’s own ability to keep them in the game. Is the only reality TV show I’m aware of that does that. Although I do think that some mechanism where a) precise success on the quiz mattered (although rewarding the top scorer would fuck the Mole… maybe the median scorer?) and b) where players could more actively try get certain contestants eliminated would be good.
But yeah. This was a fantastic show. I tried to watch the Australian version too but only ep1 was available on YouTube (which was a beat for beat repeat of the US version weirdly enough). The rest are blocked for copyright reason. Will see if I can wrangle other copies of the show.
Look I’ve got a lot of thoughts and this blog is already too long (nearly 11,000 words…). I’m going to write up something on All Stars separately.