Houkago Saikoro Club Episode 9: Game design classes

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The group breaks for exams

I guess we’re getting into some new territory now that the cast is complete. I don’t particularly have a problem with Midori feeling insecure after having met Emmy, but I think that the two characters would be better off if they balanced each other out. It’s still early, so there’s definitely still hope for that, but that was the main thing that bothered me in this episode. Other than that, I liked how it approached the universality of playground games and basically defending homebrew rules.

Emmy tries to find the shop

As I mentioned before, my main concern with this episode is that it seems to validate Midori’s insecurities. Emmy seems to have a real knack for game design, and she comes from the lauded country of Germany. It’s true that Midori needs to swallow her pride, but I would prefer if Emmy had her own set of flaws too. The episode starts off by joking that she has a bad sense of direction, but that doesn’t translate to much.

Midori is unable to clear all of the locations

I like that the episode gives Emmy the win in Elfenland. Combined with her flashback to her friends in Germany, it feels like she deserves that win. Also, I don’t know if it was just me, but I have no real sense of why her final move was able to win the game. Is this something for people more familiar with the game?

Miki explains the game

This episode takes a weird digression into childhood games, but it ties it together well. I liked how it touches on the shared concepts in the playground games of different countries. I’m more familiar with “Red Light Green Light”, but I can still see similar concepts in the Japanese version of it. I’ve also coincidentally seen the Korean version as well, and that version is even subtly different in its own way.

Emmy tries to improve the game

In some senses, a playground game is kind of a weird example. It makes sense for the rules to be simple since children play these games. That being said, I do like how the episode naturally gives Emmy the chance to modify the game by using somewhat basic concepts. I know people can often get a bit straight-laced with the rules, so it’s nice to see the girls embracing the adaptations.

Emmy tries to handle Midori

All in all, I think this setup is promising so far. Emmy mentions that she initially wanted to develop a game with her childhood friend, so I take this episode as the beginning of her potential partnership with Midori. I think it would be cool to see the two working together.

Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne Episode 8: Family matters crop up again

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Pauline is missing

We thought this episode was going to be Pauline’s story, but it turned out to be two family stories at the same time. Honestly, I thought the story felt somewhat rushed. I liked the idea of putting Pauline and Mavis’s families together, but it largely seems to breeze through them. Still, I think the episode was fun overall, especially when Mile gets involved.

Mavis gets a letter from her brother

I thought the delivery of this joke was great. Mavis introduces her three brothers and casually ties it back to Pauline as a punchline. I honestly didn’t see that coming.

Mile finds a safe place

I get that this week’s struggle is more political than other episodes, but I think it would have been nice to get a better explanation for why the brute force strategy wouldn’t work. After all, Mile’s first encounter in the Hunter tournament was against a noble flaunting her power.

Mile gets a disguise

This was probably my favorite part of the episode. Mile takes advantage of the masked identity trope, and it actually works out for her initially. Sure, Mavis’s father eventually sees through it, but this is a much better success than what we’ve come to expect from Mile.

Mile is the surprise master

Every episode needs a Mile face, right? I think the weirdest part about this episode was not meeting Mavis’s brother. He’s supposed to be the groom in this arranged marriage, but he only shows up in a flashback scene. Instead, we interface entirely with his father. Maybe that’s just me.

Fall 2019 Grab Bag Week 8: Kono Oto Tomare

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Sane just wants a break

Kono Oto Tomare Episode 21

I guess this week’s episode ends the long training phase before nationals starts up. This second season has been shaping up a lot better than the first one did. It hits many of the same emotional notes while putting together a pretty solid koto club. I think the first season had to spend more time getting characters on board with playing the koto, while this season is purely focused on coming together to play a piece.

Sane wants some special training

Am I supposed to be shipping Sane with Akira? I’m kind of okay with that. But that aside, I like how Sane figures out his role in this episode. Being able to work with others well is something that’s hard to express, so I think it fits a side character like him well. In the end, he’s still doing his part.

Chika is scolded

I think this series has done a great job of splitting its characters up. The koto club is there to support each other, but not every moment needs every character. Chika can go off and do his own thing with Takezou and Satowa, while Hiro gets her own supportive moment with Takezou. It does leave certain side characters in the dust a bit, but I think it’s better for the story overall.

The executives come to talk about the Hozuki school

On the other side, I like what this season has done with Akira so far. She’s had a surprising amount of independence as a side character, coming to her own conclusions about the club members and eventually becoming part of the team. I think it’s great that she defends the club in this senior meeting without anyone from the club knowing about it. She’s slowly cozying up to the group, but we get to see a shining moment of triumph as the audience.

Satowa tells Chika her story

I do think that the series could be doing more to show Satowa’s personal struggle with her song. Moments like this one with Chika are great for forcing her to face her past, but I sometimes wish to see more. With nationals coming up, I feel like the inevitable conclusion for her saga is for her mother to show up, but it’s only been developed so much at this point.

Fate/Grand Order: Babylonia Episode 8: Defying a goddess

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Tiamat threatens humanity

As far as battles go, this week’s episode was pretty epic. It’s sad to see Servants only getting single moments to shine, but I respect how their battles have been portrayed in this adaptation. I would have liked to see some more lasting impact from these battles, but I guess they served to inspire Ritsuka.

Ushiwakamaru faces off against Tiamat

Ushiwakamaru sure has it rough. She definitely had a great showing in this episode, effectively facing off against a god with her sword skills. She probably has the most dynamic combat in the episode as a whole. However, the ending reveals that she is still alive, and it’s heavily suggested that she will become brainwashed as a future enemy. I’m hoping she’s right about her strength of will, because having her face Ritsuka will be sad.

Leonidas wastes away

Leonidas gets a more brief moment in this episode, but it’s an excellent demonstration of his Spartan courage. He’s not a character I’ve used in the game a lot, but I know he’s a powerful defensive unit.

Ushiwakamaru lectures Tiamat

This is probably my favorite line in the episode. Heroic Spirits are basically legends manifested into reality, so I like the idea that they fight for humanity to preserve their legacy. It really gets down to the idea of leaving a mark on the world and gaining a sense of immortality as a result.

Enkidu taunts Ritsuka

Enkidu (or rather Kingu) remains the most incomprehensible character in this show for me. I honestly can’t tell which side he’s supposed to be working for. He clearly spares humanity in this episode, but he seems devoted to Tiamat. Is this supposed to show the influence of the real Enkidu? That would be cool if it was the case.

Benkei leaves everyone behind

I guess Benkei gets the worst part of the deal in this episode. He’s here to reveal that he’s a fraud and leave the party. I’m curious to see how Ritsuka will fight now that the main three Servants have been lost. Is it time to recruit some goddesses?

No Guns Life Episode 7: Conspiracy theories

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Olivier is fired

It’s episodes like this one that make me wonder how many factions exist in this series. It seems like we’re getting to see a lot of different players with varying motives, which I think is cool. I think that many of the developments in this episode would make more sense if we had a better sense of what the Nightmare of Norse Scott was, I’m sure that will change soon. This week also does a good job of continuing to demonstrate how well Juuzou and Kronen work together.

The captives talk about Juuzou

There’s a minor conversation in this episode about Juuzou’s reliance on the cigarettes. I’m not sure if it’s just meant to show that the other characters only know so much about Juuzou’s past or if it’s something more. They seem to imply that Juuzou might be trying to hide something more. I wonder if he’s going to go berserk soon or something.

Gondry attempts to kill Armed

Now that I know that Gondry was being controlled, I wonder how much of the things he was saying were his own words. It’s mentioned later Gondry’s mind would affect whoever was controlling him, so his desire to be useful could legitimately be his own. Alternatively, it could be a representation of whoever was in control.

Armed talks about Juuzou

Listening to Armed narrate Juuzou’s fight was kind of awkward. I get that he’s somewhat showy, but I’m not sure I enjoyed the way the fight kept cutting back to him. Also, his extensions make it hard to tell whether they’re his thoughts or his spoken words.

Gondry is being controlled

It looks like someone else was able to replicate Tetsurou’s Harmony ability. That could make things interesting in the future. Based on how Gondry acted, I wonder if this version of Harmony is only capable of giving suggestions. Tetsurou seems to speak through his target.

Armed reveals his true colors

After seeing this final scene and some of the brief bits in the preview, I feel like I’m supposed to conclude that Armed was the one who killed Olivier’s father. If Gondry was meant to be a scapegoat, it could mean that the Nightmare of Norse Scott was a larger incident that involved more Extended. That would explain why Armed believes that the truth would harm the development of extensions.

Random Lists: 5 Amazing Worlds to Explore (Through Travel)

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Sensei struggles

I’ve never really been an outdoors person, but I grew up in a household that loved their family trips. When your extended family lives on another continent, you get kind of used to it. As a result, I think I have a somewhat uncharacteristic sense of wanderlust. To that end, I think I’ve always enjoyed anime that let me channel that feeling in a better (cheaper) way. These shows feature characters who are just trying to get from place to place, whether it’s to explore their destination or to take in the sights along the way.

Asking penguins to wait

5. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than The Universe)

Admittedly, this series involves much fewer destinations, but it technically includes content from three different countries. I’d say that counts. Additionally, I think it’s probably the most relatable tale in the modern era, as it follows four girls who travel together to Antarctica. I’m not necessarily saying that Antarctica is the most desirable of destinations, but the idea of putting together a group of people to visit a new place is somewhat universal.

Mikochi gets serious

4. Hakumei to Mikochi

This isn’t the grandest of journeys, but it’s all relative. The titular characters, Hakumei and Mikochi, inhabit the world of the small, which makes a vast expanse even more so. I think the novelty of the show largely comes from how the perspective change influences the lives of the girls. Because of the size difference, they can live in a tree and food becomes more plentiful. It’s a relaxing world to experience.

Chi stares

3. Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou (Girls’ Last Tour)

How about something more futuristic? I can think of nothing more uplifting than a show about two girls who explore the shattered remains of a humanity that has all but destroyed itself. While most travel shows are about unraveling the world around you and seeing beautiful backgrounds, this series is more of a mystery show. As we follow Chito and Yuuri, we’re learning about how the world has managed to get itself to this point. In that sense, it will always be one of my favorite shows set in a post-apocalyptic world.

Holo dresses up

2. Spice and Wolf

Set in a simpler time, this series is probably the one I think about first when I think of travel. The two main characters, Holo and Kraft Lawrence, have a clear goal in mind, but they stop to explore everything along the way. While the main thrust of the series is the portrayal of economic and business interactions, I think the series benefits greatly from the diversity of its setting. It’s so entertaining to watch Holo and Lawrence learn about the various cities in this humble period of history.

1. Infinite Dendrogram

I suppose this is cheating, but I honestly can’t wait for this anime adaptation to air. Just from text alone, I feel like I’ve been able to explore an incredible world within a game that has its own unique ecosystem. What impresses me the most about this series is that it meshes its self-grown fantasy world with the “idea” of player-controlled characters so well. It’s not just a world that has been invaded by gamers. It’s a world that has become used to the existence of those gamers.

Houkago Saikoro Club Episode 8: Double feature

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Emilia welcomes the group

These episodes with two board games always feel so awkward. I enjoy seeing more games, and I thought both games in this episode were especially cool. However, I do get the sense that the pacing is harder to balance when there are more games in an episode. In this week’s episode, it felt like Dobble didn’t get a fair shake.

Emilia joins in the game

I do think that the episode balanced the two new characters decently, though. Emilia is a nice addition to the main group, since she has game knowledge similar to Midori’s. However, she’s not just a carbon copy. She takes games seriously like Midori does, but she excels in explaining game strategy to Miki and Aya.

Aya sees the scoring

In previous games, Midori tends to explain another player’s mistakes to them after they make them. In contrast, Emilia explains the thought process behind the discard mechanic to Aya immediately, giving her a better tip. Additionally, I like that Emilia takes her loss in stride despite her prideful comment about never losing. I feel like this shows that she’s more willing to give away her own advantages in the game to make it more fun for everyone.

Miki tries to put a game together

On the other hand, Yoshioka is another fresh-faced newbie, but it’s nice that his first interaction with board games is through Miki. She was in the same position recently, and the episode does a good job of showing Yoshioka’s own reluctance fading as the game progresses. To top it off, Miki is the one pushing him along.

Miki explains the game

As I mentioned before, I would have liked to see more of Dobble. It felt like Yoshioka was hitting on something when he commented on the vague nature of the game. Maybe there’s something to giving a less restrictive description of a symbol. In that sense, this game feels more like a casual game, which is nice to see from time to time.

Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne Episode 7: Taking time off

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The girls rest

Mile may not have gotten the exact obligatory beach episode that she wanted, but you have to commend her effort. This week’s episode was a bit slow, focusing on the girls taking a day off. Watching Mile will the beach part into existence was funny, and Reina has some fun solo moments of her own. In the end, the episode seems to indicate that we might be shifting towards Pauline’s story soon.

Reina hides from her friends

Reina gets a short scene in this episode, but it’s probably my favorite segment. Her impressions of her comrades are hilarious, and she has a great interaction with the innkeeper’s daughter.

Mile is criticized by Nano

Mile gets her own character moment in this episode, but I’m actually not entirely certain what to make of it. It’s true that her new friendships have given her social interactions to take up her time. As a result, I suppose she no longer needs to find side hobbies pursue in her spare time. On the other hand, she could just be saying that there’s nothing else to do in this world without anime and books.

Mile shows off her swimsuit

I think this goes just about as well as Mile could have hoped. I thought it was great that she was able to convince her friends that her swimsuits would work out. You’d think they would have learned by now.

Mile gets blamed

The episode ends with some light fun, but it includes a small moment where Pauline notices a soldier watching them. Is she noticing a threat to the group or Mile specifically? Or is this related to her own past? I’m curious to see what happens.

Babylon Episode 7: Everything falls apart

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Kaika reveals his plan

I would definitely call this week’s episode a large improvement over the previous one. Kaika takes the conversation about the suicide law back in an interesting. More importantly, Ai finally makes her big move, and it’s pretty insane. Honestly, I’m just wondering at this point if there’s anything that Zen can do to beat her. Are we just in for a mental torture-fest at this point?

Kaika broadcasts to the world

To be fair to Kaika, I think his performance in this week’s episode is a lot better than we saw before. Playing the heartstrings of the public by putting the spotlight on his son’s heart condition is an admittedly effective move. I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it, though. It’s not like his heart will necessarily save his son, since transplants are inherently risky.

The world thinks about death

More importantly, I feel like his argument is more of a commentary on the limitations of current technology. If we reach the point where we can grow transplantable organs or created artificial ones, what happens to the conversation about death? That being said, this development certainly makes me wonder about Inaba. He’s the first victim of this series, and I can see a powerful sedative being useful for Kaika’s goal of suicide.

Zen tries to save Kujin

I really liked watching the tension as Zen’s plan is systematically torn apart by Ai. It’s like we’re finally getting a big reveal about how much of a threat Ai is. My main worry about Kujin’s death is how supernatural his description of Ai makes her seem. As I’ve said before, I would prefer if Ai is grounded in realism, and I’m not seeing how that’s possible when she can force people to kill themselves from whispering in their ear. I’m mostly hoping we don’t see some crazy justification for her powers in the end (like you’d see in a low-grade horror series).

Ai taunts Zen

The final scene of the episode is truly chilling. Up to this point, Ai has felt like a somewhat reasonable villain, but this scene makes her feel a lot more insane. The fact that this entire scene is punctuated with scenes of Zen’s family also makes it seem so much more sinister. I don’t think this bodes well for Zen’s wife.

Ai wants Zen to understand

So, is it really so simple? Does Ai just want Zen to understand her? I’m sure Zen wasn’t paying too much attention to what she was saying on the video, but it sounded to me like she wanted Zen to explain to her why she behaved the way she does. I guess that makes some sense as a version of motivation for her, so it makes me wonder.

Fate/Grand Order: Babylonia Episode 7: Snake problems

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Solomon taunts the heroes

I’m a little sad that this episode starts directly with the vision of Solomon, rather than showing the flow of events following the recovery of the Tablet of Destinies. It makes me want to stand by my comment from last week about the tablet being a MacGuffin. That aside, this week’s episode does a nice job of showcasing the other Servants in this Singularity, which was cool to see.

Leonidas gives Ritsuka advice

It was cool to see more of the day-to-day survival role that Leonidas plays at the wall. This particular scene was a bit surprising, though. Keep it together there, Leonidas.

Merlin gives Ana advice

I liked seeing Merlin’s chat with Ana in this episode as well. It’s probably my favorite part, as Merlin admits to his own inhuman nature and encourages Ana to open up to the main characters.

Ushiwakamaru finishes off the enemies

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Benkei and Ushiwakamaru’s fight in this episode. It was a great progression of attacks, but the quality of the animation felt weak. It reminded me a lot of the fights from the first episode.

Enkidu reveals his plan

I probably haven’t been paying enough attention. Was the Northern Wall part of Nippur or is it the main wall we’ve been seeing at the Absolute Demonic Front? Because I really like the idea of Enkidu sending Demonic Beasts to attack Gilgamesh’s main stronghold to keep him locked up there. Meanwhile, Enkidu can sacrifice humans in neighboring villages to other Demonic Beasts.

Enkidu traps Ana

Oi, stop bullying Ana.

Tiamat makes her appearance

It looks like the goddess behind Enkidu finally makes her appearance. To be fair, she ended up looking better than I expected. I also think it’s interesting that Enkidu almost seems to bemoan her arrival, almost like he’s tired of dealing with her or something. Maybe that will be relevant later.