Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 32: The power of money remains strong

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Louisa tries to find Francis

For a story entirely focused on the Guild, I thought that this week’s episode was fun. I wouldn’t say I like Francis more as a character after seeing this, but I think his actions make a lot more sense now. I’m curious to see what the implications of the Guild’s return will be. I think it would be cool if they allied themselves with the Armed Detective Agency in the same way the Port Mafia did for the previous season. Alternatively, they could just throw a wrench into the larger battle by acting as an independent faction.

Francis loses all of his value

I honestly don’t remember too much about the characterization that Francis got in the previous season (my apologies for my weak memory). I do remember that his power derives from sacrificing his monetary holdings, which is a neat concept. All of that aside, I liked that episode used monetary values to give a sense of his progress. It’s not something you can do often, and we get to see Francis go from 50 cents to 400 million dollars.

Louisa is captured by some thugs

One thing that did bother me about this episode was that I couldn’t get a sense of why Francis decided to come back. After giving a speech about how he no longer has the motivation to continue his efforts, he immediately reverses his entire decision after seeing Louisa in danger. Is that just meant to show that he cares for her? I would have understood it if he just came back to help, but he basically goes back on everything he said.

Francis is surprised to not own the entire building

Watching Francis deal with poverty was my favorite part of the episode. His implicit assumptions about owning the building and his obsession with cookery sales are hilarious. He’s adapting well.

Francis gives Louisa a hint

This comment was a bit leading for my taste, but I do like how the episode loops in the Armed Detective Agency. They effectively trick Ranpo into helping them. It does seem to set the groundwork for a future alliance, though. Maybe it makes more sense for Francis to act on his own, but I still like the idea of having him work together with the main cast.

Francis objects

I think Francis might be in the wrong series here. I probably would have been more impressed with his plan if I hadn’t already seen it before in Western dramas (the idea of short selling stock before immediately tanking a company). That being said, Francis is meant to be an American character, so you could even argue that it makes it more impressive that he’d use a tactic that’s often used in his supposed home country.

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Carole & Tuesday Episode 7: Mars got talent

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Tuesday is curious

I’m happy to see this episode addressing a dynamic I thought was missing in this series, the relationship between Carole and Tuesday. The series has been fun, but it was a bit strange given that they’re the central characters. After seeing Tuesday’s brother appear to accept her decision, it’s nice to see Tuesday herself gain some resolve for her chosen path. I was also expecting the talent show to be a bust, but it honestly looks like the girls are headed for an encounter with Angela, which should make things interesting.

Gus finds a shortcut

Given previous trends, it’s funny to see Gus advocating for the shortcut to fame in this episode. It kind of breaks with the tone of the previous episodes in that it actually seems to work this time, but I guess it’s still too early to tell. With their current track record, it wouldn’t surprise me if this performance fails miserably as well.

Angela is entered into the talent competition

I’m looking forward to seeing the confrontation between Angela and the main pair. I’ve enjoyed seeing Angela contrasted with Carole and Tuesday throughout the series, so it should be cool to see them interact. In addition to developing the relationship between Carole and Tuesday, this episode did a good job of showing a bit of Angela’s past as well. While she’s clearly coming from a background of fame, the episode makes it clear that her journey hasn’t been easy either.

Tuesday tries to hide her face

I liked seeing this episode build on the previous episode, showing that Tuesday’s nervousness doesn’t come from a typical sense of stage fright. It makes sense for her to be afraid of being discovered, and it’s also why I think it would have been better if her brother had revealed himself when he found her. But that aside, it was funny to see her to reference a tried-and-true disguise technique by covering just her eyes.

IDEA auditions

Most of the performances in this episode were pretty cringe, but I thought that the return of IDEA was hilarious. I have a soft spot for the robot from its introduction in the past, and I liked how he was basically making fun of vocaloid music.

Tuesday admits to being selfish

It was great to see Tuesday starting to open up to Carole. I’ve been wondering for a while how much the two knew about each other, and it turns out that it was practically nothing. I guess Carole respected Tuesday’s privacy, and the two have a tendency to go with the flow. I found it interesting that Carole doesn’t make a big deal about her past, effectively saying that she can’t miss what she didn’t have. Normally, the feeling of jealousy or loss comes from seeing what others have, which makes me question Carole’s relationships with others.

The girls are selected

As I mentioned before, I’m looking forward to seeing the girls face off against Angela. I’m sure that something will go wrong with the competition, but I think it’ll be worth it as long as the two manage to meet Angela. We can’t have them successfully giving their performance to a large crowd yet, right?

Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita Review: Many forms of love

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Miyako thinks logically

It’s been a while since I wrote one of these, and I don’t want to give the impression that I’m neglecting them. This series was one I was generally on the fence about during the winter season. The story centers around a socially awkward college student named Miyako Hoshino. Through her younger sister Hinata, Miyako meets the grade schooler Hana Shirosaki and immediately falls in love with her.

Miyako is super shy

This show is the strangest combination of the cute girls doing cute things concept combined with the general premise of Uchi no Maid ga Uzasugiru from the season before it. The two shows are eerily similar for how close their airing dates are. I know it’s a weird way to start, but that distinction was important for me. It takes a much lighter spin on the idea, whereas its counterpart steered straight into it with a comedic focus.

In the end, characters clinch the series for me. While I have no strong feelings for the main pairing of Miyako and Hana, I loved Hinata as a character. I’m not typically fond of the “ball of energy” character, Hinata adds an excess of warm feelings to the show overall. And while she has an unnatural attachment to her sister, their general relationship as siblings appealed to me. I also tend to like the character the supports the others from the sidelines, and Hinata is somehow that character.

Did she lie?

From a musical perspective, I definitely started off rough with this series. The general soundtrack felt somewhat annoying to me (though I liked the ending theme). It’s something you get used to after a while, but it was noticeable for me in the beginning. Other than that, the series looked okay for the most part, opting for a heavily pastel color style.

Hinata is killing her sister

If you’re still reading past the first paragraph and you’re looking for a relatively fluffy series to watch, I don’t have a problem recommending this series. It takes a light approach to personal insecurities, and I thought it was fun overall.

Spring 2019 Grab Bag Week 7: Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin

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Azazel finds his love

Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin Episode 7

This series has been in such a weird grey area for me. If I had to qualify it, I’d say it’s almost like the series has too much whimsy while trying to deliver something serious. Decisions seem to change at the drop of the hat because they almost have to do so. In other situations, seemingly big events seem to get waved away. I’d almost prefer if the series stuck with a more whimsical tone for the type of fantasy series it’s trying to be.

Theo tries to find the source of the sand

Let me give an example. This episode starts with a sort of climax for Kyouichi’s character arc. We learned last week that his sister was one of the girls spirited away by Azazel, and he tries to take advantage of Arata to find her. This blows up in his face when Izumi is kidnapped during their investigation, forcing him to finally admit his intentions to Theo.

Kohaku opens the gate to Hell

This isn’t a bad way to develop Kyouichi, either. When he’s brought on, Theo adds his own perspective, and the three are able to work together to find a cool way to locate Azazel. But then, what happens? Their attempts ultimately fail, and Arata is forced to ask Kohaku to take them to Azazel. And Kohaku does it. That sure seemed easier than triangulating the gravitational effects of the black sand, huh?

Cerberus admits defeat

To be completely honest, I don’t mind the idea that Cerberus is defeated with some candy, but it still plays into the same idea. It’s interesting to see Cerberus guarding the gates of Hell, and his weakness is pretty much as silly as it was in Harry Potter. His appearance was impressively short-lived, though.

Azazel fails again

I would have liked to see a bit more of the girl’s perspective in this scene. While it’s clearly monstrous, I find the idea that she was aware of everything Azazel did to her to be quite intriguing. It makes me wonder if she’s intentionally cut short so she can crop up again later.

Kyouichi's sister is blinded

Here’s what I thought was the low point in the episode. As everyone escapes from Hell, it’s finally revealed that Kyouichi’s sister has gone blind. It’s a sad development, as she doesn’t get to see how much her brother has grown. And then, the stolen body parts are immediately returned to their owners. It cheapens what should be a sad scene for me when things just get resolved like that.

Azazel goes back on his loop

And finally, I’m curious about how Azazel plays into the rest of the series. It seems like his story is largely played out, but the episode ends with him effectively starting over with a new batch of victims. Is he going to be the ultimate antagonist in this series? Or is this just a return to the status quo akin to a horror movie’s ending?

Fruits Basket Episode 7: What a tale of loss

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Tohru is nervous to meet Hatori

Okay, that was a level of sadness that I wasn’t expecting to see…this series doesn’t hold back. I definitely can’t help but feel really bad for Hatori after hearing his story. It’s kind of a weird character arc too, since the episode ends with a somewhat bleak outlook for Hatori that I don’t think he deserves. I guess the point of the episode was to set up Akito as the definitive antagonist in the story. Well done?

Akito lashes out at Hatori for trying to marry

I find it hard to believe I’ll be able to eventually sympathize with Akito, but I suppose I’ve been wrong before. If someone like Hatori doesn’t seem to resent Akito, there must be a good reason behind everything. The episode mentions a “curse” of some sort, which seems to be separate from the zodiac thing, so maybe Akito has a personal curse.

Tohru gets flustered

Tohru has so many good facial expressions. And if Akito flipped out in response to Hatori trying to marry someone from a branch family, I can’t imagine what the reaction to Tohru will be. Then again, Tohru exists to win everyone in the Souma family over, right?

Hatori changes

Well, I definitely wasn’t expecting to see a seahorse in the zodiac. I find it funny that the seahorse is used here, since it’s not clear whether it’s meant to represent the dragon or the horse in the zodiac. They’re both there, after all. That being said, the dragon is much harder to account for, so I suppose it makes sense for Hatori to be the dragon. After all, there’s a clear gap between the general impression dragons tend to give and the appearance of Hatori’s animal form. I doubt that’s a coincidence.

Hatori is forced to erase Kana's memories

This story was hard enough to watch when it was just a recounting. Seeing it happen in real time is just depressing. I have to give the series credit. It handles the emotional stuff well.

Hatori runs into a familiar voice

The last scene in the episode just makes me feel more bad for Hatori. He seems to find some solace in Tohru’s words, but that just makes him part of the harem. And even if Kana’s memories return, it doesn’t solve everything if she’s found someone else to make her happy. Maybe Tohru helps him move on to someone else?

Dororo Episode 19: Opposite day

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Hyakkimaru finds a horse

Well, we definitely got a lighter episode this week. I guess it worked as a bit of a breather after the more dramatic episodes. At a certain point, I feel like Dororo’s insecurities about her relationship with Hyakkimaru are becoming a recurring thing. However, I think the episode worked for injecting some fun into a primarily dark story.

Hyakkimaru chooses to be with Okowa

This episode was surprisingly subtle with its “opposite day” gimmick. I liked the fact that the episode immediately jumps in with the first villager Hyakkimaru and Dororo meet. I didn’t think anything of it when the villager said that the smith in the village wasn’t any good. It makes the scene an interesting one in hindsight.

The villagers wish Okowa well

I liked seeing Dororo and Hyakkimaru fight an enemy without brute strength. Dororo got to shine a bit more in the episode as a result, since she tends to be more perceptive than Hyakkimaru. That being said, I did struggle with buying into Dororo’s struggle. Feeling abandoned by Hyakkimaru feels like something she’s already overcome, so it’s weird to see it again.

The smith was to create a sword to stop fighting

I realize that the source material for this series is incredibly old, so I wonder if Rurouni Kenshin is based off of this concept. It certainly seems familiar.

Hyakkimaru wants his swords

Hyakkimaru really doesn’t get any goofy scenes, so this scene was hilarious to see. I do wonder why he doesn’t just flatly reject Okowa now that he can speak normally, but what do I know?

Hyakkimaru finally regains control

This hug was also a nice touch. These two characters are great together.

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 7: The last boss appears

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Tanjirou stops Nezuko's rampage

Despite the weird bombshell dropped at the end of last week’s episode, I thought that this week’s episode was pretty solid. I thought that Tanjirou’s first mission was wrapped up well, and I’m very intrigued by the introduction of Muzan, the main villain. I do wish I had a better sense of where Tanjirou keeps pulling these sword skills from, but I think it’s just something I’ll have to accept (or read in the manga).

Tanjirou debates leaving the fight to Nezuko

It’s a small moment, but I liked the scene where Nezuko jumps over the demon on her way back to Tanjirou. I don’t think there was anything about the hypnotic suggestion that forces her to obey Tanjirou, so I get the sense that this is an action born out of pure will. So, I can conclude that Nezuko isn’t blindly attacking demons and has some reasonable mental faculties.

The demon analyzes Nezuko

I’m a bit torn on Nezuko’s fight in this episode. I think the episode explains her struggle in the fight well. She’s not trained like Tanjirou is, so it makes sense that her attacks are straightforward. However, I feel like having Tanjirou jump in at the last minute to save her somewhat undermines his decision to leave her to fight for herself. I guess his trust is well-placed in the sense that she succeeds in holding off the demon long enough, but the hero moment of Tanjirou’s appearance seems like overkill.

Tanjirou asks about Muzan

The fear in this demon’s eyes at the mention of Muzan is good way to introduce a fearsome enemy without directly calling out his power. It also brought up an interesting question. If Muzan truly is the only one who can turn humans into demons, then does that mean that every demon in existence has some connection to him?

Tanjirou tries to comfort the widower

This scene is probably my favorite one in the episode. When the man lashes out at him, Tanjirou doesn’t try to bring up his own past to quell him. He lets the man vent it out without trying to come out on top with his own personal suffering. It truly felt like the right thing to do in that situation. The drama isn’t all about Tanjirou, after all.

Tanjirou sniffs out a familiar scent

I wasn’t expecting Tanjirou to find Muzan so quickly, but this development made a lot more sense as I thought about it. This is Tanjirou’s first experience in a larger city, and it’s reasonable for Muzan to be in a heavily populated area. Given Tanjirou’s magic sense of smell, it’s a surprisingly fair series of events.

Tanjirou finds Muzan

I’m not sure how to feel about Muzan so far. He ends the episode by quickly turning a nearby human into a demon, but I’m wondering how much that’s supposed to be taken as a malicious act. It certainly seems like he’s the type of person who has no qualms with creating demons, so why is he living with a human family? I find it hard to believe that he’s simply manipulating them. It might be interesting to find that out.

Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 31: The trials of parenthood

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Kyouka admonishes Demon Snow

It looks like the story is still on standby, but I did like the thematic style of this episode. On its own, it’s a combination of two side stories to explore the pasts of Atsushi and Kyouka some more. However, I like the idea that they share the same basic idea of a child being unable to understand the actions of their parents. I did think that the stories suffered a bit from being cobbled together, but I think it worked fine as a sense of emotional backstory.

Lucy appears with the missing page

On a completely unrelated noted, I think Lucy’s a fun addition to the cast. She seems to play the role of the jealous ex well. To be fair, her introduction is probably part of the reason why this episode felt a bit rushed, but I think she becomes better as a character from it. Her power makes for a funny interaction with Atsushi, especially when he tries to use it to dry their clothes.

Kyouka finds out about her parents

Kyouka’s story felt the most awkward for me in this episode. I was glad to see her return to the series, and I liked hearing the truth behind her parents’ death. The fact that Demon Snow originally belonged to her mother explains why she can’t control it well. Additionally, I feel like the story does a good job of explaining why she might have believed that she killed her parents, despite it being far from the truth.

Atsushi investigates a dead body

On the other hand, Atsushi’s side of the story ends up being relatively mundane, but I think the conclusion is built up better than Kyouka’s story. My first guess when I saw this scene was that the accident would be related to the blood control from Kyouka’s story, but it ended up being completely Atsushi-focused.

Atsushi struggles with how to react

I thought that Atsushi’s struggle with the death of the headmaster was interesting. It reasonable that he’d be upset with the headmaster for mistreating him, but it’s nice to see him overcoming that instinctive reaction. With everything he’s learned about his power, he’s come to see the world from the headmaster’s perspective in some sense, which I think is a great indicator of character growth.

Carole & Tuesday Episode 6: The almost performance

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Gus gets a gig

This week’s episode seemed like the first of what I’m guessing will be many false starts for our main characters. Given how much the opening monologue emphasizes their eventual full performance, it’s hard to take a big opportunity like the one presented in this episode too seriously. That being said, I liked how the gig was approached. One last overall comment about this episode is that the music festival generally makes me wonder more what the current state of music in this world really is.

The girls meet Skip

Specifically, I’m curious about the conversation the girls have with Skip. He makes a general comment about musicians losing a certain spark as they become more established, but I’m curious what it’s meant to mean in this world. At face value, it’s a not-so-veiled comment at the current state of popular music, but it seems to be missing the context within its own story.

Crystal talks to Skip about his song

This is a random tangent, but I definitely didn’t understand the lengths the episode took to hide Crystal in this scene. I didn’t even recognize her after her face was revealed, so it wasn’t exactly a shock to see. Maybe it’s just meant to be as simple as adding some mystery to a celebrity relationship.

Skip sings his song

But back to my main point, I find it interesting that Skip dedicates a song to Crystal in a world where songs are supposedly designed by AI. I don’t think it’s necessarily inconsistent, but it’s a point where context is helpful. For example, AI could create music to match a musician’s lyrics. Alternatively, the musician could add some basic input parameters to trigger the generation of the entire song. Maybe it’s just because of my personal interests, but I’d like to learn more about how the show envisions that.

Carole and Tuesday recover from the performance

I think the takeaway for the performance was handled well. It would be unreasonable for a massive audience like that to come around to Carole and Tuesday’s song given the type of music they came to hear. The two would have to be truly impressive to override a mob mentality. Instead, Crystal’s view of the performance is a nice, grounded way to look at it. There are people within that crowd who may have taken their song to heart even if they couldn’t express it in a way the girls could see.

Spring 2019 Grab Bag Week 6: Kenja no Mago

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The first victim is taken

Kenja no Mago First Impressions (1-5)

If any show is going to prove how much of a sucker I am for entertaining facial expressions, it’s going to be this one. I’m not going to lie. I started watching for them. The series as a whole is a lot to wade through, but I still think it’s been fun to watch. It follows Shin Wolford, a reincarnated Japanese man who is raised by the legendary sage of his new world.

Shin's ability is explained

The running joke of the series is that Shin grows up in a largely sheltered environment, which leaves him with absolutely no common sense. Effectively, that makes him a typical isekai protagonist (who must learn about the new world around him) with the training of a native-born inhabitant. It’s not a terrible combination, but it certainly raises some questions.

Shin uses a gate to link two places

Shin’s advantages as a reincarnated human aren’t explicitly called out, but he seems to benefit from a general understanding of science from his old world. It allows him to better understand how the magic of his new world is manipulating the laws of physics. Honestly, I think that’s not a bad way to do it, but I feel like that aspect of him gets glossed over a lot.

Seeing the wise man

In fact, I’d almost argue that this effect is pretty common for this series. It might just be a product of being a light novel adaptation, but I definitely feel like events in the story are dragging the audience along. Things just kind of happen, and it’s almost like we’re expected to just accept them and move on.

Shin's words are understandable

That being said, I’ve enjoyed Shin’s interactions with his classmates so far. He doesn’t really lord over them, and he’s quick to share his understanding of magic when he can. It remains to be seen how they’ll develop as a result, but I don’t get the sense that Shin is explicitly hiding things from them.

Schtrom is alive

As a result, I don’t get as much of a sense that people are keeping secrets just to up the drama in the series. I got a similar feeling when the series addressed Schtrom. It doesn’t make a big mystery of whether he’s dead. Shin concludes that he’s alive and justifies it.

Time to go to war

I get the feeling that the series might try to dodge this, but I’d be interested to see how Shin handles a war. As long as he doesn’t end up being an unstoppable war machine, it could give his friends room to shine.