Babylon Episode 3: Cruel temptress

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Zen learns the truth

It was already clear that this series was building up to something, but it blew right past where I expected it to stop. This episode basically starts off with the idea of a city devoted to testing radical ideas, and it ends with something almost supernatural. It makes me feel excited to find out how Zen ends up reacting to it. He even admits in the final scene that his base assumption has already been overturned, so I like the idea of seeing him adjust to a new paradigm.

Nomaru has a bold plan

The overall plan with Shiniki is actually an interesting one. Policy is easy to propose but difficult to project, so the idea of a zone used for testing them out isn’t the craziest thing in the world. Granted, the logistical issue of waiting for years to see an effect poses a bit of a problem, but it’s intriguing in theory.

Zen figures out what Inaba was trying to do

I think the weirdest part of the episode for me was the level of support for Inaba’s idea of speeding up the approval of drugs for clinical use. Maybe it’s just because I’m somewhat invested in this area, but I think that topic should be much more debatable than it’s portrayed to be. To be fair, only one character seems to truly support it, but it’s not like Zen is saying anything to the contrary. Unapproved supplements can be very dangerous, after all.

Zen tries to investigate Ai

The revelation that all of the women we’ve seen so far are the same person is a cool one. It’s one that I already partially suspected, and the reveal itself is a great way to pull her forward as the main antagonist.

Kaika proposes the right to death

The main twist for the episode was a surprising one. I really liked how we find out about the somewhat legitimate nature of Fumio and Inaba’s deaths. The right to die is also an intriguing topic to focus on. From what I’ve seen, the evidence suggests that suicide is something that happens in a whirl of emotions, which means that it would seem to be heavily reliant on timing. The right to death is something that’s important for the terminally ill, but the implications of a broader policy can leave plenty of room for discussion. I’ll be curious to see where the series takes it.

Ai watches the scene

This is also a minor thing to finish things off, but I liked how Ai shifts between her various disguises as Zen is watching her. I honestly hope that this series doesn’t go too heavily into the supernatural to justify her premise. After all, the episode makes a point to say that the pills Zen found were only useful for inducing a peaceful death. I think it’s much more interesting if Ai successfully convinces people like Fumio or Inaba to die, rather than using a drug to force them to do it.

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Fate/Grand Order: Babylonia Episode 3: Please the king

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Ana being forced to fight

Picking up from last week, this episode follows the Chaldea gang as they attempt to curry favor with Gilgamesh. I thought it was funny that it started with the suggestion of joining the front lines in defense of Uruk, but it ultimately ends up being menial side quests. It’s something you would expect from a typical RPG, but Fate/Grand Order isn’t actually that kind of game. But as a whole, I liked the fight against Gilgamesh and the expanded focus on Ana.

Gilgamesh faces off against Mash and Ana

As I’ve said before, I think the choreography of the fights in this series is impressive. The fight against Gilgamesh was cool to watch, and the later fight against Ishtar is probably better. It feels like the episode is devoting time to showing the fight unfold, rather than using flashy energy attacks.

Gilgamesh reveals the Holy Grail

Another thing I like about this arc is that the line between allies and enemies isn’t super clear. Gilgamesh isn’t acting like a bad king, but he’s standing in Chaldea’s way when it comes to their mission of recovering the Grail. In contrast, the Goddess Alliance is clearly made up of enemies of humanity, but they also happen to have the same goal as the main characters. It seems like it would be very easy for alliances to sway in this story.

Ishtar isn't concerned for the main characters at all

Ishtar’s really great at channeling her inner Rin.

Ishtar traps Mash

My favorite part about Ishtar’s fight against Mash and Ana is seeing her use Ana’s chains to restrain Mash. That seems like a great way to fight against multiple enemies. Also, the part where she kicks Ana in the stomach felt impactful.

Chaldea meets the summoned Servants

Oh hey, I guess we get introduced to the other Servants in this episode. Given that they were summoned by Gilgamesh, I do wonder whether they’re meant to be future allies or foes, but I guess it’s good to meet them.

Ana doesn't want to contract with Ritsuka

Watching Ana interact with Uruk was also great. She seems to be softening up a lot as a character, and it’s cool to see. I’m not sure how much I’m supposed to be treating her like a kid, though.

No Guns Life Episode 2: The quest for Tanegashima

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Juuzou assaults a train

This series is surprisingly fun for how it looks. I can’t believe I just watched an episode in which the bad guy’s master plan was to buy up all of the cigarettes that the main character liked. That’s a special type of evil. As a result, this series seems more like a mix of serious and ridiculous, rather than just silly, and I think it benefits from that overall.

Juuzou reaches out to Tetsurou

Watching Juuzou in action was cool. So far, he seems like a typical brawler with explosive fists you’d see in a video game, but it works given his appearance. I’m a bit surprised at how easy it was for him to save Takerou, though. It makes you wonder why it couldn’t have happened at the end of the previous episode.

Mary saves a girl

This week’s episode also delves more into the anatomy behind the Extended with the introduction of Mary, the mechanic. The concept behind them isn’t too crazy (and might be arguably simplistic), so I don’t really have much of a comment there. Now, I just wonder how an Over-Extended is supposed to be different.

Cunningham threatens Juuzou

It looks like we’ll be joining Juuzou in a crusade against the entire Beruehren Corporation. Cunningham probably isn’t their best representative, but he certainly knows how to make an entrance (and an exit).

Juuzou recovers from the battle

One thing that I think is interesting about the series is that it makes me question what people say on screen in a way that doesn’t feel overtly subversive. Juuzou claims that he doesn’t have a dependency on the Tanegashima cigarettes, but he acts like someone experiencing withdrawal. It makes you question how much of that was a bluff.

In addition to that, Tetsurou is introduced as the son of the CEO of Beruehren right as Juuzou is mentioning how much the corporation covered up the story. It makes you doubt that particular piece of information until it’s later confirmed.

Granbelm Review: Magic always brings suffering

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Mangetsu is apparently a genius

I suppose you could call this series “magical girls with mechs”. To be more specific, the show takes place in a world where magic has long been sealed away. However, it’s last remaining vestige is Granbelm, a monthly battle amongst mages who wish to become the Princeps Mage and gaining their one true desire. The main character, Mangetsu Kohinata, is randomly drawn into that battle one night. She’s rescued by Shingetsu Ernesta Fukami, who teaches her about Granbelm and inspires her to help Shingetsu win Granbelm.

Shingetsu can't be defeated

While the overall outline of the story is a pretty familiar tale, I think the series has some interesting twists along the way. There’s a lot of discussion about identity and finding meaning that I quite liked while watching the series. The main characters also have strong personal stories, but I would say that this comes at the cost of side characters.

Mangetsu tries to flee to safety

To give an example, I thought that Anna had a decent arc, but I found her personality to be frustrating to watch. Other characters, like Rosa, are completely cast off after the first episode, never to be seen again. On the other hand, I quite liked Mangetsu’s character. She starts out as a girl seemingly stuck being mediocre, and she eventually finds her own sense of purpose.

The spell is complicated

If I had to point to a single issue that I had with the series, it would be a weak explanation of the world. Granbelm is supposed to be a special competition that happens once a month, and yet the series tends to skip to the battle whenever it can. In addition to that, the magic of the world pretty much does whatever it wants. There’s no sense of consistency when it comes to the abilities that a particular mage has, and it’s hard to tell who deserves to win any given fight.

The robot is summoned

Unfortunately, the logic behind a magical world is one of those things that I like to think about, so I would say I had some trouble getting through the series. Overall, I thought that it had some cool ideas, though, so I would still be willing to say that it was a decent showing for the season it was in.

Final Score: 7/10

Houkago Saikoro Club First Impressions (1): Bust out the German board games

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Miki tries to get her teddy bear back

Well, it’s basically another cute girls doing cute things show, but I can get behind this. I hope this isn’t a sad commentary of myself that I’m so willing to spend time watching other people play board games. My excuse is that I’m always looking for new games to play, so it works out. For that reason, I’ve been enjoying this show, since it’s showing me games I’ve never heard of (despite recognizing some of the games in the store from the first episode).

Miki is the cat master

The series itself follows Miki Takekasa, a shy high school student who runs into the cheerful Aya Takayashiki. Having just arrived in the city, Aya forces Miki to show her around town, and they both notice the class rep, Midori Oono, on her way to her part-time job in a board game shop. Intrigued, the girls bond over a game and start to try out more games together.

Trying to get a game together

I really like how the episodes so far have generally featured a new character being pulled in by some kind of casual interest. I feel that way all of the time when I see people playing board games. Hopefully, that doesn’t make me sound too weird.

Kyouko introduces herself

The series so far has tended to focus mostly on Miki’s timid personality. Most of the non-game moments involve her thinking about how she acts around others. Personally, I find her somewhat relatable, so I wonder if there are people who find her character annoying or something.

Midori explains the rules

As fair warning, the episodes so far have spent about a quarter of the run time on Midori as she explains the rules of the game the girls are about to play. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this yet, since it often seems like a shorter period of time is devoted to the game itself (which is what I’m more interested in). However, I recognize that I wouldn’t want these scenes gone, since the context is necessary.

Kyouko guesses Miki's past

Switching more to the specific, I wanted to say that I liked how this week’s episode was framed. Miki ties the game into her own personal struggle throughout the episode near the end. As she delves deeper into her frightening memories from middle school, she’s able to find a treasure in the end. The twist that Kyouko wasn’t actually Miki’s bully is a nice touch, since it makes the journey feel like it had a true reward, like the game.

Miki takes a risk

Overall, I’d say I like what this show has been doing so far. My main comment is that I would like to see the other girls do well. It seems like Miki tends to do unnaturally well on games that rely on a substantial amount of randomness.

No Guns Life First Impressions (1): Pull the trigger

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Juuzou sets off

Well, this is not a premise I would have ever seen coming, but I think the series overall seems to work so far. I feel like some of its gags are a bit overplayed, but the episode was pretty entertaining nonetheless. I like the noir-ish setting and the potentially sci-fi idea of the Extended (even if the name is ridiculous). I’m coming in blind, though, so I’m not sure what to expect from here.

Juuzou talks about the world

The series takes place in a post-war civilization where people are allowed to enhance themselves, becoming the “Extended”. The main character, Juuzou Inui is a former soldier with a gun head who now lives as a Resolver, which is basically a detective for cases involving the Extended. We pick up with him as he takes on the case of an orphan named Tetsurou, who apparently has the ability to take control of Extended.

Juuzou talks about his job

I think the first episode does a decent job of setting up its world. It explains the Extended and introduces Juuzou before jumping right into its main story. Maybe it’s just the oddness of the premise, but I didn’t feel particularly confused about what was going on.

Tetsurou is prevented from escaping

Juuzou himself seems to have a reasonable head on his shoulders (had to be done). He’s effective as a detective, and he handles himself pretty well. Additionally, I like the idea behind Tetsurou. I assume he’ll eventually join Juuzou based on the opening, but he seems to be coming from an interesting background. I look forward to seeing how that ends up playing out.

True identities are revealed

The part that I found questionable in the episode was some of the humor. Don’t get me wrong. I liked a lot of Juuzou’s silly moments, like when he’s kissed at the beginning of the episode and such. However, I had a problem with the running joke that everyone freaks out when they see his head. In a world where people are randomly changing parts of themselves, I find it hard to believe that people would react so strongly to one thing in particular.

Tetsurou seeks freedom

All in all, I think this could be a fun ride. It leans heavily towards the serious side when it comes to tone, but there is a lightheartedness to a few of the scenes. The characters seem promising so far, and I’m curious about where they will go.

Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne First Impressions (1-2): Totally normal

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Mile is busted

I totally didn’t delay talking about this series because I was already covering enough isekai shows. That would be crazy. I can’t even call this the silliest premise because Shinchou Yuusha exists, but it’s a hilarious show with less of an end goal in mind. And good lord, the facial expressions are strong.

As a side note, I’ve heard that the anime starts further in the story than the light novel does. It’s something that I plan to investigate more when I get around to reading the light novels, but I haven’t noticed any problems with it so far.

Mile introduces herself

In summary, the series follows Mile, a Japanese girl reincarnated into a new world. In her previous life, she felt isolated by her natural talents, so she wishes to be average in her new life. However, the gods take that request quite literally and adjust her talents to the average of all creatures in her new world, including dragons. This leaves Mile unfortunately overpowered compared to other humans as she sets out to live a normal life.

The girls don't believe Mile

This series has a fun sense of self-awareness with its jokes, making clear references to things like Truck-kun. I enjoy the lighthearted nature of the show, even if the premise is a bit strange. Mile’s airheaded personality also makes you really wonder just how gifted she is, which I think is a nice character trait. She’s kind of a weird character to try and relate with, though.

Mile tries to escape

The one thing I’m not sold on so far is the “gods” of the world. They’re apparently supposed to be nanomachines or something, with Mile’s main companion being nicknamed Nano in reference to it. I hope there’s something more to them, since “nanomachines” are somewhat of a buzz word.

Mile tells her tragic backstory

Come on, Mile. You had an entire life of reading fantasy light novels, and you choose a backstory from this world? Rookie mistake.

Reina is no longer surprised

I think it’s hilarious that Mile makes friends who get so fed up with her excuses that they end up just accepting her. That certainly sounds like true friendship to me.

Babylon Episode 2: Hard questions

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Fumio asks Zen for his motivations

I guess things aren’t looking great for Zen now. I’m still not sure how to process the ending of the episode, but at least the third episode is already out. If the next episode truly wraps up this story in some way, then I applaud the effort to release the episodes at once. This is clearly the kind of series that’s hard to keep track of across multiple weeks.

Zen questions Emiko

The main focus of this episode is the interrogation of Emiko Hiramatsu, a woman somehow associated with Ano from the previous episode. The interrogation itself is done in a cool way, cutting between Zen’s investigation and the questions with solid timing. It makes less sense in the beginning, but it starts to fall in place when they get to the ryokan.

Emiko talks about her actions at the ryokan

I also like how the episode sets the tone of the interrogation. It’s not just the visual presentation that’s eerie, but also the way Emiko talks and seems to take pleasure in the whole encounter. I felt a sense of unease pretty much every time she said something.

Ano is watched

I really should have taken notes while I was watching this episode. It’s so hard to keep track of the political parties involved in this entire scandal. From what I’ve gathered so far, the trouble in the investigation comes from the fact that multiple parties seemed to be involved, making it hard to pin things like Fumio’s murder on Nomaru.

Emiko pities Zen

In the end, I still get the strong sense this story is more about the woman than the political candidates, despite Zen’s own obsession with the mayoral election. I’m not sure if Emiko is supposed to be a completely new character or the unidentified woman from the first episode. Given that the episode basically starts focused on her, I feel like she has to be someone we’ve seen before.

Zen must give his report

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to make of the final scene in the episode. Nomaru’s appearance makes it seem like Zen has been sold out by his superior, which I think would be an interesting development. I guess we’ll have to find out in the next episode.

Fate/Grand Order: Babylonia Episode 2: Meeting Merlin

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Enkidu looks over the battle

Strangely enough, I thought that this episode was much more entertaining than the first episode, despite liking Ishtar as a character from the game. The visuals were less noticeably jarring in this episode, and I think the story seems initially interesting. Oh, and the facial expressions in this episode helped. I really can’t help myself in that regard.

Enkidu's secret is discovered

This series wastes no time with Enkidu’s betrayal. It makes for a pretty cool fight, and I think the development itself comes out of nowhere. I think it’s great that Merlin ends up using historical knowledge to reveal that Enkidu had been lying.

Roman can't accept Merlin

Merlin’s entrance as a whole is hilarious. I liked his interactions with Da Vinci and Roman (and Fou, for that matter). There’s also something funny about him being labeled as the “embodiment of dishonesty” when he’s the one who pointed out Enkidu’s own deception.

Merlin is a dishonest man

Merlin’s own story as a Servant is a bit sketchy, though. I guess it makes sense that he’s being summoned to an era in which he doesn’t exist, but using the “dead before you were born” argument seems questionable. When Emiya was summoned from the future, at least he had died in the future.

Ana accepts some cookies

This is definitely a tangent, but Ana is surprisingly adorable.

Ritsuka and Mash meet Gilgamesh

I also like Gilgamesh’s portrayal in this episode. We immediately see him acting as a fairly responsible king, which is in line with his portrayal in Fate/Stay Night. He’s ambitious and possessive, but he respects his subordinates. I’m curious to see how his fight against Mash and Ritsuka will go next week.

Mugen no Juunin – Immortal First Impressions (1): Finding the evil ones

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Manji loses his sister

I guess I’m behind again, but I’m here for the grit. This episode put a lot of effort into looking dramatic, and I think it did a good job of selling the tension of its setting. Overall, the theme of the series seems interesting overall, and I like the concept behind Manji as a character. I think that the action has me wary so far, but it’s still too early to tell (I’ll probably check out the second episode fairly soon).

Rin visits her father's grave

The story follows Rin Asano, the daughter of a dojo master slaughtered by the followers of Itto-ryu. Left as the sole survivor of her family, she seeks vengeance against everyone involved. In order to reach her goal, she enlists the help of Manji, an immortal swordsman seeking atonement for the death of his own sister. The two work together to eliminate the swordsmen of Itto-ryu.

Rin is sent to seek out Manji

I’m sure that I’m exactly the wrong person to comment on this, but I thought that the opening scene of the first episode was a bit much. I guess it looks cool, but it’s a bit too much flashing for my taste. As a general comment, the action in this episode as whole seemed like it was being skipped. Many scenes seem to cut to black as sword strikes happen. I think it fits with the general style of the episode, but I hope it doesn’t last forever. I’m kind of hoping for something like Dororo.

Manji must kill evil men

As I mentioned before, I think that Manji’s character is really interesting. He’s apparently tasked with killing evil people, and he seems to consciously work towards that. I liked that he questioned Rin when she gave her request, attempting to make sure he wasn’t being lured into something nefarious.

Rin just wants revenge

Manji also has a decent point when he comments on Rin’s grudge. From Rin’s perspective, it certainly would seem like her family’s fate was completely unjustified, but she has no idea what motivated the swordsmen who attacked them. Since Manji seeks to defeat evil, it’s something that he would think about, which makes for an intriguing scene.

Manji attempts to kill Sabato

The episode seems to cut to encounter with Sabato fairly quickly. Still, I think he’s a great first enemy for Rin. He makes her question what she truly wants out of her quest by offering to kill himself. Rin essentially acknowledges her weakness and prepares to “settle” for one death when she attempts to kill herself. I like the scene as a callback to her earlier conversation with Manji, when he asks her to prove her resolve. In this scene, I’d say that she proves the opposite.