Southwestward

     Southwestward is the third episode in Attack on Titan’s second season, and as such, it slows down quite a bit, not to say that this is a bad thing, as the show is notable for having ebbs and flows, but here’s where you begin to… feel the crunch, and bear with me on this.

     Southwestward starts where we left off, Connie and some of the members of the 104th still warning the surrounding villages of the titan invasion. They find no one at the village and come to the conclusion that everyone must have escaped successfully, despite the fact that all horses remain. It’s where we also see the titan inside Connie’s house talk to him, though Reiner denies hearing anything.

Reiner reminds him of his duty and urges him to continue on with their mission, leaving behind the mysterious talking titan.

 

reiner1
No time for pretending we didn’t hear that titan talk now…

 

There are two teams still looking for the breach inside Wall Maria, and Ymir argues that they should be sent back, as they do not have the gear to fight titans should they encounter them. Nanaba denies her requests and they ride on. It’s here where we start getting some development from Ymir and Christa, a welcome change of pace from what we’ve seen so far.

It’s nice to get away from our main cast, if only for a moment… Continue reading

I’m Home…

Let’s get a few quips out of the way before we start with this week’s overview of the series…

  • Yes, it’s nowhere near as action-packed as the first episode, but that ain’t bad
  • Sasha is not a joke character, not after this episode
  • Why are we wasting an episode on Sasha and Connie? You’ll find out soon enough, anime watchers
  • It didn’t end where I wanted to, and yes, I’m referring to the manga, I read it, and if you didn’t, more power to you, but hey, I’ll do my best to not spoil anything…

OK, let’s get it.

Right away, we start with a simple recap of last week’s action, and Mike’s death is still significant as most of the characters don’t know he’s dead or how he died in the first place.

The news has just come in, and everyone’s ready to move, with Hange still studying the crystal structure that was left behind after the battle in Stohess. There’s no rest for the wicked, as Levi and co. decided to bring along Pastor Nick. The idea of torturing him to get him to talk comes up but is quickly cast aside. I wonder why…

(I like that little foreshadowing…)

Armin states out the obvious, that Titans have been protecting them from Titans, but we don’t fully understand why…more on that later…

Hange tells E.M.A that Pastor Nick has knowledge that’s essential to the survival of mankind but is refusing to talk, and their reaction is par for the course. Eren bursts out, but before he can make any kind of argument, his condition causes him to sit back down.

We see them taking off, and the story now shifts to the 104th, still on their mission to warn the surrounding villages of the invasion. Sasha goes off on her own to warn the villagers but finds the village is empty, with the exception of a little girl who won’t leave her mother as she is slowly consumed by a titan inside their homes. Sasha takes an ax to his neck, but she can’t slice the nape off in one blow, and the damage just heals back instantly. Unable to help the mother, she grabs the little girl and runs out, first attempting to take the horse, but eventually, running on foot.

I really can’t do this scene justice.

We all remember how Sasha gave up when she couldn’t kill that Titan in the first season, and in that scene, she was better armed.

Here, all she has is 4 arrows. No gear, no squad, and no hope of survival if she fails…

 

sasha faces the titan
I knew what was gonna happen, but it still gave me chills…

 

However, our little potato-muncher doesn’t back down. Doesn’t run away, and man, was that scene something, cause now she knows.

It’s easy to give up, give in when you got Mikasa or Annie or Reiner backing you up. Also, facing a titan that close for the first time, after everything that had gone down that day…

That’s enough to make anyone crack. I love how this situation is direr. She’s alone, and that little girl’s survival rests entirely on her. They don’t make a point to say this in the manga, at least I don’t remember if they do (please correct me if I’m wrong) but the anime is clear.

I love how this situation is direr. She’s alone, and that little girl’s survival rests entirely on her. They don’t make a point to say this in the manga, at least I don’t remember if they do (please correct me if I’m wrong) but the anime is clear.

This time, she has to fight.

It’s also interesting that, as she’s running away, we see her flashback to her time during training, where Ymir was making fun of her accent, we see her remember her dad… I bet you anime watchers were freaking out at this point. Death flags left and right… but that’s not what goes down. She knows she has to change, and she’s afraid, that was the whole point of the flashback with her dad, and the scene with Ymir and Krista. She’s different and is a little ashamed, but none of that matters right now.

She turns around and is face to face with that titan again. She takes aim and fires the first shot, clipping him in the neck, and you can see the fear in her face. The desperation. I love how the titans are a real threat no matter how many times you see them.  There’s no getting used to them and that alone makes for great tension. Fires again, and misses with her second shot.

Another thing to consider, she’s not like our other characters.

There’s no sense of devotion in Sasha. She is not in control of her emotions the way Mikasa is, or Annie was. She’s not filled with rage or the desire to be free.

Sasha’s motivation for joining the Scouts is entirely different.

As she stands there, she’s scared out of her freaking mind, but it’s not like before, cause she’s seen the terror of the titans, and she knows what inaction will cause, and so she fires a third shot and hits her mark. Emboldened by that, she decides to not risk it this time and goes for the shot.

 

right in the eye
BAM!!!

 

That was a maddening 10 seconds, as the titan had her, but she slipped through his grip, in the same manner she did with her dad years earlier.

I gotta say, I liked how she ran into her dad, and how he was proud of her, that’s something she needed, and it made me smile.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of all the people who said this episode was a waste of time. While we’re all entitled to our own opinions, I think the detractors are just dead wrong this time.

I don’t see it as a waste of time, it’s true that Sasha is a minor character, however, the mere fact that they’re focusing so much on her should be a sign that she might become important later on, and it was neat that the story focus on someone other than our trio and Levi.

I also think that a lot of people are just glossing over their scenes in this episode. Without giving away too much, the fact that Pastor Nick is holding something back widens the mystery, and that’s what we should be focusing on. He was willing to die rather than reveal his secrets. A man like that, a believer, they’re hard to break, and I’m curious to see just how they’re gonna break him, or if he’s eventually gonna tell them on his own the reason for the titans inside the walls… could there be more he’s not saying? How can you not have more questions? There was so much left unsaid in those small scenes, and all people can focus on is how potato girl gets a whole episode.

How can you not have more questions? There was so much left unsaid in those small scenes…. and all people can focus on is how potato girl gets a whole episode.

If they weren’t fans of that, they’re not gonna like what’s coming next. Attack on Titan is gonna expand, at least that’s the hints that we’re seeing throughout the two episodes we’ve gotten so far.

I go back to that intro, it’s cool and all, but if we don’t pay close attention, we can miss vital details that are gonna come into play this season, and I’m not saying that just cause I read the manga, the anime gives that away as well.

Krista and Ymir are featured prominently in the opening sequence, and so is the rest of the 104th.

The OVAs also focused on the rest of the 104th, Eren and co. were an afterthought, and why not? It’s nice to have a whole ensemble cast, with all of them fully realized as characters. When characters like that die, you feel those deaths, they’re meaningful, besides, it’s good story-telling to develop your characters anyway.

All I’m saying is, get ready, cause the story is not gonna swing back to our trio until much later in the series, possibly the end of this season, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that better of a series for it.

Closing thoughts…

  • I’m not sure just how fast the anime will blow through the manga chapters, but this may not end where we want it to (the manga readers will get that…)
  • Sasha is a badass, and a perfect example of what courage really is…
  • I liked her dad’s outfit
  • Hange is “best friends” with Pastor Nick
  • Why is Levi useless again, if he was able to use the ODMG to slice Eren out? That bugged me a bit
  • Those CG horses…
  • I liked how Mikasa was concerned for Eren (that’s not new), and how Eren didn’t rebuff her or push her aside (that was new, and it proves my point)
  • Connie’s fears were all but confirmed in this episode
  • What happened to the villagers?
  • How did that titan get in there with those little legs?

OK, that’s all for this one…

 

 

ReLIFE… part 2

“Every athlete dreams of a second chance”

As we continue to look into ReLIFE in depth, I want to keep this quote as a reminder. It has to do directly with the main idea that this show wants to make. I originally heard this quote in a movie about football. If you never saw The Replacements, starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman, you’re missing out, as it’s one of those Sunday afternoon movies that you watch simply cause it’s there. Not a massive hit, but memorable enough to be liked to this day.

It was Gene Hackman, in the role of the head coach who uttered these words, and I think it applies to more than just football….

I could probably write a full solid post about The Replacements, but that’s for another time…

ReLIFE’s story arcs are something to aspire to when it comes to proper story and character development. Most animes today only last 12, 13 episodes and most directors know it. In such a short span, it’s up to these creative teams to put up the best version of their product, and it’s such a sad thing to say most animes fail in this regard.

I’ve seen plenty of animes that start really strong, with good premises, strong characters, meaningful themes, and a good setting, only for these animes to fall apart in the later stages of the show’s run. Even if the anime manages to finish somewhat gracefully, to leave more questions than answers is an unforgivable sin when it comes to good storytelling. The argument could be made that it’s always good to leave the audience wanting more, but not when it leaves such glaring plot holes or unanswered questions.

ReLIFE has only 13 episodes to play with, and the studio takes full advantage of this, at no point do you feel you’re watching filler, or do you feel bored. There

There at least 3 story arcs that take place during our 13-episode run, and they all feel fully formed and well made, with subplots and small elements developing at the same time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a show mess up one story arc in 13 episodes, where as you’re watching it, you’re questioning as to why you’re watching in the first place, and when you’re done, you’re left with a sour taste in your mouth.

The Rivalry Arc

We see Arata arrive at school, for his first day, and things immediately go wrong for him. He underestimates how things have changed for students. He doesn’t bring a pencil and eraser (and he proceeds to freak out about that) and when he empties his bag, his cigarettes fall out. He hits on his teacher later on while he’s being reprimanded for smoking. Despite his first day, he quickly makes friends with those around him and begins to get involved in their lives. One of the goals of the ReLIFE program is exactly that, to help the subjects break out of their shells and interact with others.

We learn a little bit about how the class system works, with a male and female representative being selected from those who score the highest in the class. Before this year, it had been Kariu and Oga who had been the class reps, this year, it’s Oga and Hishiro who are the class reps, to the dismay of Kariu.

Hishiro is a natural at school, and studying, at the cost of her non-existent social life.

Kariu is…ambitious.

She wants to be the best, she respects Hishiro for her intelligence. She respects Tamari for her impressive volleyball skills. She wants to be respected and admired by them in return. She cares very much about what they think and wants to be seen that way by everyone. Despite her stubborn attitude, she doesn’t come off as hateful. You don’t dislike her cause you see how hard she works. She wants what we all want, and she takes no shortcuts.

The problem for her is, she can’t keep up.

Arata and the others see this, and he wonders whether he should intervene, but before he knows it, he’s caught up in it, as he catches Kariu trying to cause trouble for Hishiro by stealing her school bag.  He lectures her and tells her that cheating and taking the easy way is not something she really wants, cause she’s quitting on who she really is. She counters by saying he’s not any older than she is (keep in mind, she’s not aware of how old Arata really is) and that he has no idea what she’s really going through

Later on, while talking, Hishiro asks Arata just exactly went down, and Arata breaks down, having given up on staying neutral and tells her just what is going on.

Hishiro stays late, and Arata finds himself in the middle as Hishiro confronts Kariu and tells her that all she wants is to be friends with her. Kariu is stunned by this turn of events, but tells her that she’s jealous of her position in the class, and that next time she will beat her out for the position. She agrees to be friends with Hishiro on the condition that Hishiro see her as a rival.

tamari-and-kariu

she loves it and she knows it…

A few things about this arc

  • Arata feeling guilty that he’s an “old man” hanging out with kids never gets old
  • Kariu is a tsundere and that ain’t bad
  • Oga trying to help Arata and An is hilarious, especially cause they’re adults who can’t study
  •  Hishiro’s smile…
  • Arata being older than his teacher is hilarious
  • Hishiro wanting to change, to have friends, to make those connections, how can anyone dislike her?
  • Arata trying to be neutral and totally failing at it…

The Volleyball Arc

With Hishiro, An, Oga and Arata in tow, we see how hard Kariu works to play as well as Tamari, and in straining herself to play at a higher level, she twists her ankle and is told she won’t be able to play in their final games.

She is furious at herself for this, and as Tamari tries to calm her down, she gets upset and the two have an argument.

She distances herself from her friends, from her teammates, and refuses to go to school, to train, to fix the chasm she has created with Tamari.

It’s at this point that Arata and Hishiro decide to intervene, with Hishiro telling Kariu that she does not want to lose Tamari as a friend.

It’s funny how the most anti-social of the bunch literally has to drag the proud and stubborn, so very stubborn Kariu to the game, so she can play. They patch things up and play the final game.

Would have been nice to see them win, but they don’t, and even though their days of playing volleyball in high school are over, they’re still pretty happy that they did play that final game together

the-hug

the hug…one of the best scenes in the show…

The Fireworks Arc

The fireworks arc is the best of the bunch, brief and to the point, it’s basically Kariu and Oga’s road to confession and it actively proves that the ReLIFE program does work. All this time Arata has been struggling with the fact that he’s an older person who’s now deeply involved in the life of these kids, it’s only in this arc that he realizes they’re people, not just kids, and makes Oga realize that he likes Kariu in a very special way. It’s cute to see just how innocent Oga is at this moment since he’s never thought of Kariu in any other way

(Though I don’t blame him, she’s a straight up tsundere lol)

Arata’s logic, combined with the scene that’s presented to us later, and Oga snaps into reality.

The mere idea that Kariu could be with someone else is enough to make Oga react, and I thought that was great since most anime characters would be indecisive to act, and such a revelation would take “a while” to form, “a while” being next season.  At the same time, the idea that Oga might choose a different high school than her scares Kariu enough into convincing her that confessing is the right way to go,

(Considering the fact that she’s had a crush on him for the longest time, this doesn’t suddenly make her act out of place)

It also has the unintended side effect of making Hishiro question her reality as most of the time she has been distant with her friends and has only come around recently. When she learns Kariu’s reasons for confessing to Oga, she questions things even further. This is also one of my favorite aspects of the series, in the fact that not everything is tied up in a pretty bow for you, there are plenty of plot points left unresolved.

At the actual fireworks festival, the groups conspicuously gives the two the time alone they need to make their respective confessions…

 

confession
just before they spill the beans…

 

Although it’s only for the briefest of moments, we see Hishiro go with Ryo, and it’s this action that now causes Arata to feel jealous, if only for a second. He brushes them off, but we are reminded of what he said to Oga, and now we know, that Arata has feelings for Hishiro.

It’s a small moment, but done really, really well, and that’s pretty much ReLIFE as a whole.

Small moments, but done well.

Unbeknownst to them, the group has also schemed to give Arata and Hishiro their own little private time as well, and they watch the fireworks together.

 

the-fireworks
that’s all of us…

 

It’s here where they talk about the fireworks and compare them to their lives and whether it’s worth getting close to someone.

Again, small moments, but done really well, and this is where we’re hit with the bombshell, and it’s a pleasant one.

We’ve suspected it for a good while, but it’s through a flashback that we finally learn who Subject 001 is. We’ve known that Arata is Subject 002 and that the first subject couldn’t make the necessary changes to deem their experience a success. It’s here now that we’re shown that Hishiro is Subject 001.

(I didn’t even mention that, cause I didn’t want to spoil it, but it is a big deal)

They’re both fully aware of the program’s limitations, and the one year limit, and what happens at the end of said year. The desire that they both have is undermined by this fact, and it’s one of the show’s most poignant scenes. If you’re like me, you’re probably screaming at the TV, and that’s a good reaction. We see their love blossom in this moment, and now you know it’s possible, it’s not weird, and it’s going to happen, but not yet.

Arata shines in this moment, as he knows he can’t fall in love with her, so he doesn’t succumb to his emotions. A lesser man would have, and it’s one of Arata’s most endearing aspects. It’s hard to describe what it makes you feel, as they’re both in the exact same situation, with Hishiro already in love with Arata, but also refusing to simply let it take place. They’re both afraid of what’s gonna happen at the end of the year, but they know the impact they’ve had on each other’s lives has been significant, and we know it too, with the added bonus that at some point, things will change.

I don’t know where the light novel goes from here, I’ve yet to read it, but the anime ends well, with life simply going on. They go to school the next day, and nothing seems different, and that’s good.

Closing Thoughts

  • The anime was all released at the same time, and more animes should do this, binging is great
  • I was so into it, that I burned through the whole thing in one night, had to watch the series to make sure it really was good
  • I really, really hope there’s a second season, but I’m not gonna hold my breath
  • Hishiro’s character arc is amazing, and one of the highlights of the show, I might have to write a whole post just on that
  • The next post will be about themes and my final lingering thoughts
  • I got to write about the second episode of Attack on Titan, so expect that on some point

Till next time…

 

The Beast Titan

4 years ago, I started watching Attack on Titan, and that’s where everything changed.

Attack on Titan is overrated, and it has a lot of flaws, and as a fan, it can be easy to overlook that but it’s true.

At some point, I’ll write something about that, but right now, I guess I’m just giddy about the fact that it’s back.

For years, my love of anime was tempered, cool, a nascent desire that was just waiting to grow. I’ve loved anime for years but it never escalated the way it did after I watched the first season of Attack on Titan. I know it’s not an amazing, life-changing anime, but for me it was, it kinda sparked something inside of me, and I found something inside myself that I’d lost so many years ago. It made me feel like a kid again, and that was a feeling I hadn’t felt since. All the characters had unique and distinct flaws, personalities, and quirks you instantly like or dislike.

After 25 episodes, that feeling went away. Reading the manga is not the same, but it was something to keep us at bay.

I wanted more, and I’ve found plenty of animes that have made me feel the same way, though not as intense. We always knew it was coming back, but year after year, and nothing happening, we wondered…

Attack on Titan season 2 starts with a bang, immediately taking us into the action. It reminds us that, despite the impressive victory, humanity still knows nothing about the titans or where they’re coming from, and what’s more, the danger is far from over.

Full disclosure before I continue,

I’m caught to the manga, I know what happens next, but I’m not about to spoil that for you, just in case you’re not there with me.

I’ve read a few reviews since the episode came out last Saturday, in fact, it’s kinda late to write a review, considering the next episode is only a few days away, but I just wanted to put down a few thoughts. A lot of people are complaining about the quick cuts and the way the story is moving forward, but I kinda like it. I like how the show is keeping us up to speed, giving us a quick recap of what’s happened so far, and moving us into what’s going on now, cause it’s been a while for a lot of people

Jumping into the storyline, we find ourselves with the other members of the 104th, those who didn’t participate in the operation to recapture the Female Titan. By now, the idea that there could be other traitors within the Scouting Legion has everyone on edge. In fact, it almost looks like they’re under house arrest, when all of sudden, there are Titans in the distance.

Before I continue though, the opening sequence with Hange and Pastor Nick was great, and I can’t remember if that was in the manga or not, but it was good, and it sets up even more intrigue. Titans inside the walls? How they’d get there? What happens if they wake up?

Lots of good stuff, lots of question to be answered, but in typical Attack-on-Titan fashion, we’re not getting those answers just yet, so we’ll have to wait, but it must be important.

The majority of the episode is spent with the other members of the 104th, and the emergence of the new Titans in the distance. This is a shock to all of us, as they’re inside Wall Rose, and last time we checked, they successfully defended Wall Rose in the first season, so where the hell did they come from? Has Wall Rose really fallen? The Scouting Legion quickly gets going and split up into groups to warn the surrounding villages of the attack.

Mike or Miche (why is his name being traduced that way?) decides to buy the teams some time and engages the coming titans, his skill being second only to Levi, but it’s the new threat that steals the spotlight here.

 

beast titan
monkey trouble…

 

The Beast Titan, with all his might and glory, makes his first appearance here, and I always thought it was nighttime when he did, don’t know why I pictured it that way.

He talks, and that’s what has everybody freaking out, cause, for the most part, we know that some humans can turn into titans, but we never heard them speak, no one of them ever displayed intelligence.

I can totally remember the first time I read it, but watching it, it’s completely different. You can see his power, his presence.

Animated exactly as it was drawn in the manga, the horse scene still has me geeking out, days later, and the way that he engages Miche is haunting.

It’s easily the best part of the episode because, for all his skill, his experience, and his talk, Miche succumbs to despair. You can see it on his face, his fear, the confusion that nearly drives him to madness in that moment. It was conveyed so much better in the anime, which is very encouraging of Wit Studios, who were criticized in the past.

A sign of good things to come.

When he finally does re-discover his inner fight, it’s much too late, the Beast Titan has taken his ODMG, and has left him to the mercy of the other titans in the area. I can’t really say we connected too much with Miche in the anime or the manga, we didn’t really know anything about him, other than his name, his rank, his skill, and what his death meant.

The Beast Titan was to be taken seriously, and he clearly demonstrates that here.

The anime ends with his gruesome, graphic death. Another sequence that was extended from the original source material, and we’re left to wonder, what’s coming next?

A sign of good things to come.

A few things,

  • Erwin and Levi were notified of the Fall of Wall Rose early on in the anime, but that’s all we get from them
  • We revisit the last scene with Eren and Mikasa, and that was one of my favorite moments
  • Eren’s flashback seems oddly out of place, but if it means a change between him and Mikasa, then that’s great, I hate the idea that most people have about him. He really does care about her, and maybe we’ll see that in this season
  • Sasha and Connie, always stealing the show
  • Nanaba is badass, even if we didn’t see her much during this episode
  • The Opening is OK, not great, but that ending….freaky…

I don’t know if I’ll be doing weekly reviews of the episodes, but I did want to talk about the first episode of the new season, and hopefully, the season ends where it’s supposed to end…

Currently Watching -February Edition-

I was hoping to start writing this series earlier this month, but now it’s a good time as well.

It’s very easy to get stuck in the past, especially as you get older.

There’s so many animes that I want to revisit at some point, that I find myself wishing I had more screens, just to watch them all, but that’s not gonna happen anytime soon.

For February, I thought I was gonna find myself with little to no new animes to watch, and I’m kinda glad I was wrong.

In no particular order, let us begin…

Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon

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It’s as silly as you imagine it to be…

Of the new animes that I started watching, this one has to be my favorite and I can’t really pinpoint why. I’ve tried explaining it to several people and all I get is blank look from most of them. I know I’ve been on a slice-of-life kick lately, but this anime is not like that. It could also be the way I’m describing the plot.

Recap time: 11 seconds…

A dragon from another world decides to be a maid and goes to live with a young woman in Japan that rescues her, her friends follow her and learn all about the human world. Oh, hijinks ensue.

That’s not too odd, is it?

I guess it has to be the art style, cause that’s always a draw for me. It could be the greatest story ever told, but if the animators can’t draw me in….(yes I realize that was a pun…)

Yes, I like shiny things, like all of us like shiny things, don’t deny it…

Six episodes in and it’s the only anime that I’m watching week to week, more on it to come later…

An easy recommendation for anyone looking for something to new to watch, if only to try it for one episode…

Masamune-kun’s Revenge

anime_release
I’m at odds with myself, I want him to fail and succeed at the same time…

I saw the promo video for this one, and added it to my queue, but it was at the urging of one of my friends that I decided to watch it and I’m so very glad I did.

I don’t really have an opinion of it yet, being only 3 episodes in, but it’s a ride I’m definitely enjoying so far, and I guess I don’t want to be watching all my new animes week to week, but maybe I should.

Recap time: 15 seconds

Masamune-kun is one of the school’s most attractive guys, but it wasn’t always that way. Having to work to get to that status, he’s now hell-bent on making the girl that rejected him in his youth fall in love with him, only to reject her and break her heart. Oh, hijinks ensue…

This anime is one of the standout animes of the season, and I’ve heard nothing but good reviews from a lot of my trusted sources so I’m already on board, stay tuned for more on this one…

The Saga of Tanya the Evil

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The littlest nazi…

Hmm…

I always say to watch the first episode of any anime to gauge the style, story, pacing and overall interest.

This anime is the exception to the rule.

The first episode was flashy, extravagant, and it sets a very odd tone to the series overall, not a bad one mind you, but it’s just odd, and despite the excellent reviews and the good word of mouth, from the first episode I wasn’t feeling it and I was even doubting myself whether my sources had been wrong for once…

I reluctantly put on the next episode and I was instantly relieved to find that it was a good anime, and it was just a question of watching the second episode.

Recap time: 16 seconds

      A salaryman is punished by God for not having faith in Him, and is reincarnated as a little girl in an alternate universe where “Germany” is at war with the Allied nations. Kinda like their version of World War 1. Oh and there’s magic here too, for some reason…   

I do think that the first episode of this anime hurts its cause instead of helping it. I did hear from a number of reviewers that you need to watch the first two episodes to really immerse yourself in it and like I said before, I’m glad I did.

There’s no way you can find out what this anime is about from the first episode, and while that’s not bad, it’s also not good, but it might have to do with the presentation more than anything.

I’m not watching this one week to week either, I have a few episodes left to see, but I do enjoy it, and I’ll be writing a small post on it in the near future. I say small, cause I’m not that big of a fan just yet, and I like to let ideas and impressions sink in before I decide to dedicate time to them.

Fuuka

 

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The main character is not one of these girls…

 

Of all the animes I’m currently watching, this is the one with the least original idea. The animation and story are on point, and it’s been enjoyable, but I can’t really say it’s anything new.

Recap time: 17 seconds

A guy starting a new year at school, can’t remember if it’s a new school, meets a girl and is intrigued by how aloof she is, also his childhood friend is famous, and might be in love with him? Don’t know, oh, it’s about music too, I think?

First things first…

It all seems just so very familiar, and sometimes that’s a bad thing. I’ll be sticking with this one, just to kind of see where it’s going, but the MC is bland, and I’m not the first one say that. The lead heroine, Fuuka, is intriguing, and reason enough to watch, and with his childhood friend, I’m expecting to see some sort of lover’s triangle.

Again, it’s not anything new, but I’ll be patient and see where it takes us.

A few people I’ve spoken to have read manga, but I have not, so I don’t want to assume anything about the characters or where the story is going.

To speak the truth, I have the slightest fear of being disappointed with where it’s going to end, but it’s a journey I’m willing to make, if only for my audience….

There it is…

These are all the new animes that I started to watch in the month of February. I’ll be doing these small recaps of what I’m watching every month so that’s something to look forward to…

Parting thoughts…

  • Still working on the ReLIFE posts, and you should be seeing that shortly, as quickly as today or tomorrow
  • I’ve had to deal with a small family emergency and a little anxiety on my part, and that’s why it’s been a while since I posted anything, but the situation is resolved, more importantly, no writer’s block so, yeah…
  • I’ve got a number of new “series” of posts coming up, so that should be fun
  • I’ve been wondering if the addition of pictures to the posts is having any effect…
  • Gonna rewatch all of Attack on Titan in preparation for the season premiere happening in a month or so, you should be seeing something to that effect pretty soon here…
  • Oh, I guess the anime that I would recommend to watch of the four that I discussed would Kobayashi’s Maid Dragon, but I don’t have a real reason why, only that it drew me in…maybe I like maids or something…
  • If there’s an anime you would like me to watch or an anime you recommend, feel free to let me know and I’ll check it out.

 

 

ReLIFE…part 1

“Every athlete dreams of a second chance”

My giant list of animes was even bigger in 2016. I have too many, and just not enough time to actually ever catch up, which is awesome, cause I’ll always have something to watch, something to talk about. When ReLIFE came to mind, I kinda just shoved it aside. I was in the midst of watching Re:Zero and I was very excited with where that series was going and finishing it.

That didn’t happen.

I didn’t drop Re:Zero cause it was a bad series. A lot of people are really divided when it comes to that series. Some people say it’s genius and other people say it’s a steaming pile of cow dung, and I have no say in either camp. I saw a few episodes and it definitely had my attention, but it kinda lost my attention. The steam, the buildup of the first few episodes kinda dissipated quickly for me, (despite the fact that I waited until the series had a good number of episodes so I was not forced to watch it week by week).

I still can’t explain what happened or why I stopped watching it. It’s still in my queue, mocking me, and I know that I will get to it eventually. I hope to do so before my reviews for animes of 2016 are over, so it’s at least in consideration for me, but I digress,

Re:Zero came and went and I saw a few other anime in between that and ReLIFE.

One night I sat down and looked at the mess that is my queue, and just picked it at random, having completely forgotten what it was all about, and why I had put it on my list in the first place, and I got to say,

It was the best random pick I’ve made in a good while, quite possibly the whole year.

ReLIFE is amazing.

There.

That’s the whole sum of the review for this short series, right then and there. Stop reading this. Go watch it. If you saw it, watch the dub, it’s just as good.

Stop reading this. Go watch it. If you saw it, watch the dub, it’s just as good.

I sat down and saw one episode, then the next episode, then the next one, and so on and so on. I’m really glad I was off the next day or that would have been an awful day at work as I went to bed pretty late that night.

I finished the series off the next night, finding out to my utter despair, that it was only 13 episodes long.

Why? I’m still asking that, to anyone who’ll listen…

I didn’t find out until later that the whole series had been released all at once, like how Netflix does with their shows.

The Setting

As far as the setting goes, it doesn’t really do anything. It’s set in modern-day Japan, and I think there’s something special to that right then and there. It’s easy to like fantasy. It’s easy to like romance. It’s easy to like stories that take us away to new and undiscovered places. To see the world differently and to grow as a person. A good series (anime or not)  will do that. Slice-of-life anime have to follow a predetermined set of rules. For the most part, they have to be grounded, set on Earth, modern day Japan, and the characters are real people, normal people with flaws and character traits that appeal to us all, traits we can all identify with.

Lately, I’ve really begun to appreciate the slice-of-life genre. It’s hard to tell engaging, interesting stories when under such limitations, but we see it year after year, that it’s those limitations that lead to beautiful and engrossing stories. It’s so hard to do this, because we’re dealing with the ordinary, but ReLIFE excels in these situations. It’s an ongoing anime, so I don’t know where it’s going to end up, and the premise is a bit hard to believe.  At least hard to believe that it could be done in real life. It does seem a bit out of place for the genre, but I think it works

The Premise

Arata Kaizaki is a man, who like almost all of us these days, is still struggling to find his place in this world, despite the fact he’s at that age when most people have already overcome such concerns. He’s 27, working out of a convenience store, and he’s pretending to still have the high salary, promising career he had just a few months ago. To add to that, he’s viewed as a NEET amongst his peers. One night, after a particular monotonous day at work, he meets Ryo Yoake, a man his age that presents himself with one of the most unique offers I’ve heard.

Join our program at ReLIFE and not only will we pay for your housing and expenses for a year, but after the experiment is over, we will help you find a job.

Sounds great right? Hell, I’d take that offer in a second, even to this day.

After some reluctance, Arata takes his offer and he joins Ryo at the housing facility that ReLIFE runs. He’s told to take a pill, and that this pill would make him look ten years younger, after this, he’s to return to high school and go to school for one year.

In effect, it’s an opportunity to do things “all over again.”

I’ve always said that the strength of any anime is the first episode. The first impression it makes on us is what we remember after all, and ReLIFE does not disappoint.

It pulls you in, and right from the get-go, you care about Arata, because, like I wrote above, we all struggle to find a place in this world, some of us more than others. This is especially important in Japan, seems the NEET phenomenon is so high there, and it’s such a problem. The ReLIFE idea on how to “rehabilitate” people with those issues is novel, and I really liked it.

Is that their only goal? Don’t know…

Arata is plain, but likeable, and from the get go he makes friends, his first day in class is memorable, as he is scolded by a teacher who’s in reality younger than he is. He quickly blossoms, and you see the type of person he is, and that makes you root even more for him, but more on that later on.

In this aspect, ReLIFE is a hit, a must watch. It’s one of those anime that hooks you in, and before you know, 4, 5 hours are gone, and you’re halfway through the series without even realizing it, and I love shows like that, and I know you do as well, and the premise has a lot to do in that aspect, it’s one of those shows I tell my friends and really, those who’ll listen, to watch the first episode, you won’t be disappointed.

The Characters

arata

Arata Kaizaki

Arata is our main character, and the story mostly follows him. As I’ve already written, when the story first starts, we see how much he has been struggling over the last few years, going from job to job, working only part-time, and how he quit his first stable job when he saw what that particular workplace was like, of course there’s more to that story, but more on that later.

When he is approached by Ryo, he becomes ReLIFE Subject #002.

As a high schooler, he’s kind, easy to get along with, albeit somewhat naive about what it’s like to be a high schooler in this modern age, underestimating the challenges he’s about to face.

As such, he can’t seem to pass his exams, and is stuck taking makeups until he can. His appearance hides his years of practical knowledge and wisdom and as such, he becomes very valuable and quickly respected by his close friends.

As far as MCs, ReLIFE doesn’t have a problem, as most of its main characters are interesting, charming and easy to relate with. The story could have followed anyone of them and it would have held its own, but we get to see Arata’s view on things, and that’s not bad.

ryo

Ryo Yoake

Ryo is our mysterious stranger. He’s the one that approaches Arata with the proposal to turn his life around and get him going on the right track. Ryo works for the ReLIFE labs, and while we don’t know the extent of their reach, right away, we can see they have a good amount of affluence. He’s the same age as Arata and because he’s Arata’s support, he has to be by his side, and attend the same school he does.

Due to the fact that the support staff has to pass off as teens, it seems he’s been going to the school for quite a while, at least 2, 3 years. Arata and Ryo don’t interact much while they’re in school, but get on along great outside of it, choosing Arata’s temporary apartment to drink and smoke in.

There’s much we don’t know about Ryo, but we can infer a few things. He used to be a lot more open, but it appears that something happened. It might have something to do with Subject #001, but we don’t really have enough to make a educated guess. Despite his cold and hard exterior, he cares deeply for his friends, and is thrilled to see Arata break out of his shell and engage with his friends.

an

An Onoya

An starts out as another “transfer student” in the same vein as Arata. As such, both of them struggle with their exams.

We later find out that An is another member of ReLIFE’s support staff, and as such, she’s the same age as Arata. Worried that Arata would take advantage of a high school girl, she set him up and was relieved to see him not take the bait.

We don’t really know much about An, other than the fact that Ryo and her have worked together in the past, and that’s she being groomed to take on her own subject soon. She’s a lot more open than Ryo and has quickly established herself in Arata’s circle, as such, she’s often seen with him at school and in other social functions, much to the chagrin of Ryo.

oga

“something he says a lot to Arata…”

Kazuomi Oga

Oga is a student that is in the same class as Arata, Ryo, and An. He’s upbeat, kind, helpful, and very bright. His appearance doesn’t lend to this aspect of his personality but he is the men’s representative in his class.

He offers to help out Arata and An, but quickly regrets it as the two have no intention of actually trying to pass their exams, although An does so later on. Despite this, he is their friend, and we quickly see the three grow close.

As an actual high schooler, (and not pretending to be one) Oga is inexperienced, and hasn’t really thought about what he wants out of life, though as the series progresses, we get an idea of who he is and what he wants.

We don’t see too much development out of Oga, but what we do get is gold, and quickly makes the series all the more better.

kariu

Rena Kariu

Rena is a student that is in the same class as Arata, Ryo, An, and Oga. Very bright, proud, and highly competitive, Kariu is a fan favorite, and right from the get-go, we see why.

On Arata’s first day, she quickly gets him out of a jam, and lends him a pencil and eraser. Later on we learn how bright she is, as she was the class representative for the last two years, until now.

Kariu is the most developed character of the series, and a good number of the story arcs feature her as an important character, if not the central character.

Despite her appearance and her attitude, which is…short tempered, she’s insecure, and doesn’t know what she wants out of life. Her failure to be recognize by her peers as a rival originally drive her mad, but this is resolved as the series goes on.

It’s easy to say that most of us will reasonate with Kariu as we all went through that phase in our lives. Well-written, she never breaks character, and this makes her a joy to watch.

tamarai

Honoka Tamari

Honoka is a student that is also in the same class as most of our MCs. She’s the captain of the volleyball team and is good friends with Kariu. Her physical abilities are recognized and well praised by most students, though that wasn’t always the case.

Her physical abilities made her a target of bullying in her younger years, and it’s a source of internal conflict for her.

Her story arc is heavily connected with Rena, and is one of the highlights of the show.

Her childhood friends also go to school with her, and are constantly watching Arata as they believe he’s interested in her.

hishiro

Chizuru Hishiro

Hishiro is the current class representative along side Oga, a fact that drives Kariu mad in the first few episodes. She’s quiet, shy and doesn’t stand out in her class despite her intelligence. Her awkwardness makes her difficult to talk to and engage with, and her inability to remember names makes her seem cold and indifferent.

As she sees Arata quickly make friends with his other classmates, she realizes that she has to change, and takes a leap by asking Arata for his phone number, explaining that she must change.

Hishiro and Arata quickly become friends, and after a confrontation with Kariu, the two also become friends. Her quest to get friends is ongoing, and she slowly begins to change.

Like Kariu, Hishiro is central to the plot, and finds herself, unknowingly, in most of the plots.

Easily the standout character of the series, you can’t help but root for her the whole way

As I wrote above, ReLIFE has no problems with its cast. They’re all well developed, engaging, interesting characters with strengths and flaws that we can all see and appreciate. Making a cast this diverse and cohesive is a difficult obstacle that most shows are not able to overcome but ReLIFE has no issues with it whatsoever.

My analysis of ReLIFE continues in the next post…

 

 

 

Small Thoughts on “Konosuba”

Even when I want to be brief, I find myself writing too much on any given subject. To curb this particular habit, I want to write smaller posts on some animes that I’ve seen that while are interesting, they don’t need long overviews or compositions.

Konosuba is one of those animes that came out last year when the “lost in a new fantasy world” genre suddenly became big again. There was quite a few of those last year, and I’ll be talking about some of those in my upcoming posts.

While the majority of the animes that came out focused on the individuals, and their internal and external strife that they went through, Konosuba is different.

Konosuba is on the other end of the spectrum.

A comedy with no qualms about trying to be serious whatsoever, I gave it a chance, simply cause the animation was pretty good, and Aqua catches your eye. More on Aqua later on,

A few thoughts…

  • Aqua is an idiot, and the fanservice is on point
  • Oh yeah, fan-service…
  • Kazuma’s death is one of the funnier moments in the series, in the first half and it still brings a smile to my face
  • Whoever runs that organization cares very little for Aqua, and that was funny too…
  • Darkness is the last member to join the group and she’s funny as hell, her eccentricities are a total plus, and don’t take away from the story
  • The story…it’s there, sort of…
  • The second season just started and it’s picked up right from where the first season left off

Kazuma is our main character, but as a main character, he’s pretty weak, despite the fact that he’s smarter than most MC when it comes to the ladies. After his embarrassing death, he meets up with Aqua, the blue hair goddess that is in charge of where some souls go in the afterlife.  After being told he can only take one thing to the next world, he jokingly says he wants to take Aqua, and his request is granted, much to the surprise of Aqua herself. After finding themselves in a fantasy world, Aqua is told she can’t go back to her old job until some big baddie is defeated, though there doesn’t seem to be a rush.

After you spend some time watching serious or emotionally driven stories, it’s nice to take a break and watch something that’s different. Konosuba is that kind of anime. Like I said, it has a story that’s there, but it’s kinda not the point. Hell, the first episode focuses on Kazuma and Aqua taking on regular day jobs and enjoying themselves. It’s only at the end of the episode that they realize that’s not why they’re here, though there’s no rush to do anything big. Kazuma at times is enjoying himself though most of the time, he’s just taking care of Aqua, Megumin and Darkness later on.

It’s ridiculous, it makes no sense, and its fan service is there, though it’s not overwhelming.

I can probably write more on this anime, but it’s not necessary. It’s a dumb guilty pleasure that I enjoy on a regular basis.

Maybe I’ll write more on it when the second season is done but in the meantime, it’s nice to just laugh and not think about the ridiculousness that is Konosuba.