Inuyashiki First Impressions (1): The hero arrives

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I’m still not sure what to make of this series, but that was a promising first episode. I wasn’t completely sold on the old protagonist, but the progression of the episode did a good job of changing that. I gotta say…this is probably the most awkward midlife crisis I’ve ever seen.

I felt like this episode made good use of the scenes it showed. The weird delusion on the subway seemed strange at first, but makes a lot more sense when put into the context of the entire episode. It’s pretty much introducing us to Inuyashiki’s desire to be a hero even if he doesn’t have the power to go through with it. His desire to help at the end of the episode starts to make more sense with that in mind.

The cancer diagnosis and Inuyashiki’s subsequent phone calls also do a good job of illustrating his current position and mental state. There’s no need for him to narrate anything in his head or give some weird speech. The moment when he asks if his family would even cry at his death, you have a good sense of what’s happening.

As for the “discovery” scene, I suppose that pretty much went as expected. It was decently comical too.

In the case of the ending scene, I was pretty curious about the decision to upload a video of the incident with the punk kids. It seemed like a strange thing for an old man to do (or even know how to do), so it made me wonder just how much he’s in control of his new body. There’s the issue of the other guy who was with him when the aliens arrived. Plus, Inuyashiki was effectively turned into a robot, so how much is “him”?

Having Inuyashiki give his name at the very end was a nice touch too. He waits until he’s accepted himself and recognized that he still has the will to participate in the world.

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Fate/Apocrypha Episode 14: Team up

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I don’t know if there’s something going on with the second half, but I’m still having issues with this series. I’m starting to wonder if I gave the series too much leeway in the first half because I recognized that it was still ramping up. I was so surprised that Caster went down in a single episode that I was really expecting the golem to get back up at the end.

If Caster was willing to sacrifice everything just to get his golem operational, even his own life, what the heck was holding him back? It doesn’t even seem like he needed to betray the Black Faction. His original plan was to use Gordes after all, and it’s not like he cared if the Black Faction killed him in retaliation. Why not just finish the golem?

I’m also not really losing much sleep over Caster’s Master, who ended up as the golem core in the end. He had basically no introduction or screen time, after all. I was curious about his final question about why Caster was trying to create a human too, but I guess that’s not going anywhere with both dead.

I will admit that this scene with the hippogriff refusing to join the fight was a surprising laugh in this episode. It might have been my favorite moment in the episode.

On the other hand, the scene between Mordred and Jeanne seemed to be going for the same comedic effect, but felt much less effective. It felt extraneous and took too much time just to negotiate a Command Spell.

So does Sieg have to use a Command Spell every time he transforms? That seems incredibly inconvenient for something that only lasts a few minutes.

Finally, what exactly happened to Chiron’s Noble Phantasm? Was it the heat vision thing that he used to see Adam’s weak point? It felt like he was supposed to make a final strike, but it never came.

Juuni Taisen Episode 2: Not so sure anymore

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While I was more intrigued by the first episode, I’m much more hesitant after seeing this second episode. I feel like I’m seeing the start of a formula which will make this show less interesting to watch. Both episodes have started with a focus on a particular character, explained that character’s background, and then killed the character in the end. For that to work, these characters are going to have to be very interesting.

At least they cleared up the whole thing with the poison rocks from last week. It seems that the rules of Juuni Taisen change every time its held. However, that still brings up more questions. If the participants can leave the city, is it normal that the starting city is emptied? Or is this a special precaution against a particular “necromantist”?

While Chicken’s betrayal was pretty predictable, I wasn’t quite expecting the casual nature of Dog’s death. She just reached out and crushed his skull. I was expecting some elaborate plan, but there’s no way she’d rely on Dog to bite her, right? Either way, that death was good for a laugh, but I’m still wondering what Chicken brings to this show.

As a final note, I went ahead and checked the order of the Chinese zodiac to see if there’s a pattern. If we assume there’s more to the dead Snake/Dragon twin, the current death order is Boar and then Dog.

The legend behind the original zodiac order was that there was a race between all of the animals and the order was determined by when they all finished. As such, Boar is the last in that order and Dog is the animal before Boar. Rooster is also the animal before Boar, and she’s looking pretty likely as the next death. So it’s fairly obvious that this series is going in that same order when determining the ranking for this game.

Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but the Juuni Taisen is apparently a recurring event in this world. That makes it annoying that this “random” event happens to be the one that follows the ordering of the zodiac. I get why it’s happening…it just feels really weird.

Also, this all means that Rat is going to be the winner. Again, I wouldn’t normally have a problem with that, but Chicken makes a point this week to point out how it’s weird that he’s in this fight. It’s like they’re waving a giant flag that he’ll win.

Kino no Tabi (2?) First Impressions (1): Justice!

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I know I said I wouldn’t watch this series, but I figured I’d use this first episode as a test to determine whether I should invest in watching the original. And given what I saw in this episode, I’m really thinking I might do it. This episode was a cool combination of a calm travelling adventurer exploring new worlds with a fun philosophical twist.

This episode revolved around a country where murder is not prohibited by law. It’s an interesting concept that plays on the viewer’s preconceptions about morals. You’d expect (as the characters in the episode do) that a country such as this would be a destitute hangout for criminals, but it ends up being a fairly amiable place. However, the episode manages to build to its ending by giving brief glimpses into the somewhat crazed mentalities of the citizens.

In the end, I found myself really wondering whether a society such as the one depicted in this episode was truly viable. Could the authority of the citizens really keep a place like this together? In fact, my interpretation was more that this country was really an elaborate trick. The citizens are a group of people who occasionally thirst for blood and satisfy themselves by using word of mouth to lure criminals to their country.

Anyway, I like where this episode went, so I’m curious enough to see more. Oh, and I know there’s the obvious question of the talking motorrad. I definitely wondered what it was supposed to be and how it could talk. But the fact that the characters in this series didn’t really question the talking motorrad makes me think it’s not that important. I can probably accept that.

Code:Realize: Sousei no Himegimi First Impressions (1): The master thief

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As far as first episodes go, this one wasn’t too bad. The steampunk world seems interesting and the setup seems to have a few moving parts to be explored, between the scrappy band of thieves, the revolutionaries attempting to burn London down, and some mystery character lurking in the shadows. The episode also looked really good visually compared to some of the other stuff I’ve seen in this season.

The heroine for this series is set up as a pretty standard sheltered princess with a dangerous power. The use of a perpetual motion machine might make her interesting, but I suspect it’s a simple case where the machine is actually behind her “poison”. It could be interesting to see her participate in thief operations.

The reverse harem is a bit expected in a shoujo series, but the rest of the characters seem intriguing enough. I like the band of thieves idea and it’s fun that they’re named after fictional characters.

The eccentric character in the shadows is probably my main gripe with the episode. I’m just not that interested in who this character is…presumably just the main antagonist backing the terrorist plot given the song.

This flashback transition was kind of cool too.

Overall, I’m willing to keep watching this series to see where it goes. Maybe I’m just coming off of a high with Princess Principal and I’m being baited by the similar setting.

Mahoutsukai no Yome and Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou First Impressions: Strong contenders in the season

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I’m not planning on covering either of these shows further than the first episode because they’re both technically slice of life, so I’m going to bundle the first episodes together. I doubt I’ll have much more to say.

Mahoutsukai no Yome

I was really looking forward to this adaptation and this first episode didn’t disappoint. With both the way it looked and the way it presented what was in the manga, I felt like this episode did its job. The simple story follows Chise as she tries to find a home for herself after facing only rejection in her life. But the world she enters when she meets Elias leads to some truly charming tales.

I really liked the sense of wonder and mystery I got from the soundtrack in the first episode. It really seemed to fit. The opening song was also pretty nice. I still think that the description of a Sleigh Beggy is a bit strange, but it’s not super important. It’s also a pretty ridiculous name.

I’m curious how this episode felt for people who didn’t read the manga, but watched the OVAs. The OVAs gave a sense of the suffering that Chise experienced before she met Elias (specifically the scenes depicting her home life), so I wonder if the scene with the aerials makes more sense with that context. Given how tragic her life has been, she’s willing to accept Elias just because he welcomed her into his family.

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou

In sharp contrast to the first show, I knew practically nothing about this series. However, I similarly enjoyed this first episode. Overall, the scenery in this episode was really nice and I liked how much of the story was told without exposition or even dialogue. The interactions between Chito and Yuri were also really charming.

The basic setup for this series seems to be two main characters travelling together through the ruins of a war-torn world. While Chito and Yuri do talk about war in the episode, it’s about the concept rather than a specific event. The background is basically shown in a flashback without any words to elaborate. Normally, I’d be bothered by something like this, but I felt like the scene said a lot.

If I were to lodge a complaint at this series, it would be that I couldn’t quite behind the scene with the final ration. I understand the link to the earlier conversation about why people go to war, but it almost seemed a bit too…overt? But that was pretty minor overall. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of this.

Dies Irae First Impressions (0): Something about Nazis

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While this episode was only meant to be a prequel to the actual show, it was kind of a mess and doesn’t bode well if it’s a indication of what’s to come. As always, I’m someone who’s painfully unaware of the source material.

I guess the point of this episode was to go into the pasts of the main villains, but I didn’t really get much out of it. I get the sense that it’s intended for an audience that knows more about the series than I did, but I’m still not sure what’s there to glean. All I got was that the main antagonist might be getting manipulated from the background, so he might not have full responsibility for his actions.

I was hoping to get more from the fighting parts of the episode, but they didn’t seem particularly special either. Specifically, I felt like it started getting more ridiculous when the characters started glowing. Past that, there wasn’t much to the exchange of blows…just a lot of staredowns.

But hey…gold is cool, right?

Overall, I think this episode 0 was just unfortunate. It doesn’t really introduce anything and probably ends up being more confusing than it’s worth for anyone not familiar with what it was supposed to be (I can’t be the only one). I’ll reserve judgment until I see the real thing, I guess.

Ousama Game First Impressions (1): Plenty of death to go around

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I was surprised that this series added a pretty simple twist to standard setup to make things seem very different. There’s nothing particularly special about a class having to work together to survive a death game. But what happens if one of the students has gone through the game once already? It’s not a bad twist, but I’m honestly not sure it was handled well.

What does this change accomplish? Well, it adds an extra point of tension to the game. The class wants to know who is behind the Ousama Game, and they suddenly have a suspect who conveniently knows a little too much about the game. Plus, Nobuaki even admits that he’s the only survivor from the previous game, which is pretty suspicious. As such, I’m still not sure whether I liked the death of the “bully” character at the end of the episode, because it partially exonerates Nobuaki.

My biggest hope for the twist is that it lowers the learning curve for the game. The class naturally has to figure out this game, but having someone with experience should make that a simple question and answer session rather than a series of trial and error. Nobuaki can tell everyone what kind of orders to expect, how many come at a time, and what the progression of the game is.

I’m pretty sure his name isn’t “Tubasa”.

The main criticism I have for this episode is how…dumb the characters seem. I wonder if this is foreshadowing of the kinds of deaths we should expect to see in this series. For example, Natsuko’s friend claims to have some special knowledge that Natsuko is interested in Nobuaki, which is something that should have been incredibly obvious when Natsuko didn’t object to the kiss.

In another scene, Nobuaki says that his girlfriend is “very far away”, and then immediately asks Natsuko whether she believes in heaven. Maybe Natsuko was being polite, but that seemed pretty blatant to me.

Anyway, I think this series seems curious enough from this first episode. I’m interested enough to want to see where it goes. If I go by my standard rule, the first target is always the culprit, meaning it’s either Nobuaki (which would actually make for a pretty cool twist) or Natsuko.

And…protagonist desk: check.

Black Clover First Impressions (1): Volume is important

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I’ve heard a lot of praise for the manga, but I’m not completely convinced by this first episode yet. Let’s start with the obvious. Asta isn’t exactly the most unique protagonist ever, the seemingly powerless individual in a world of magic harboring a hidden power. He also seems to suffer from perpetual shout voice. I might have been okay with the volume if he wasn’t also randomly elongating his speech as well. Maybe I’ll get used to it.

As I said before, this story revolves around a world of magic. How do we know it’s a world of magic? Well, there’s a very helpful and colorful glow around anything affected by magic…except when there isn’t. I might just be getting excessively nitpicky as usual, but I guess I hoped there was some explanation behind that. The simplest one would have been that magic from a grimoire glows, but that doesn’t seem to be the case either.

Same deal with the magic academy and the arrogance of the nobles. That’s pretty standard.

I’m not really sure what happened with this scene. Maybe the CG chains were a hint, but this scene seemed pretty strange in black and red. Some cheap form of censorship to make the scene look more grim, perhaps?

Finally, I want to talk about this whole thing with the “magic-detecting chains”. First off, it’s pretty contrived for an extra ability. But more importantly, why exactly does that work so well on Asta? We’ve seen him maintain hope pretty well in this episode, so it seems odd that he would believe the words of a complete stranger so easily, especially an admitted thief. Perhaps there’s something here about affirming the thing you already suspected in your mind but refused to accept?

So, I could use a little help here. I know there’s a lot of hype surrounding this series, so I’m assuming I should at least give it a little more time to prove itself. The clover stuff seemed okay, and I’m admittedly curious about Yuno’s pendant. What exactly was I missing?

Juuni Taisen First Impressions (1): Definitely not suspicious

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I’m still not entirely sure what I’ve gotten myself into, but this episode certainly got my attention. I’m just going to say in advance that I’m likely to just stick with zodiac animal names rather than actual character names…we’ll see where that leads me. Anyway, this was an entertaining first episode, doing a decent job of introducing things through the lens of a single character.

The combination of Boar and Rabbit as the first real introductions to the cast seems somewhat telling. Rabbit is the most overtly insane member of the cast while Boar remains completely composed as the defending champion. Yet the episode proceeds to show us just how twisted her past was to get her to this point, suggesting that every character is equivalently demented.

Let’s be honest, though. Boar was pretty much asking to get stabbed when she went into her internal Sherlock Holmes-style battle planning mode. I’m still not fully convinced because it seems too early to remove a character, but I have to admit that the signs are there. Her background was shown and she is the defending champion. I’m just not sure it makes for a good story to have her continue on as a zombie alongside the other guy (Snake?). We’ll see where it goes. She’s technically not dead yet.

It’s incredibly silly that Boar is able to avoid being hit by an assault rifle at this range, but I was more impressed with the actual fight scene to care.

Also, I just want to make one quick comment about the game description. While I understand that the explanations about the poison are meant for the audience, it’s a bit surprising that no one in the room was already familiar with the rules of the competition. Sheep in particular seems like someone who would have participated at least once. The fact that Boar was able to recognize most of the participants also suggests that at least some of them are famous enough. Maybe these bits are hints at rules that weren’t stated, like maybe participants can only compete once.

Anyway, it looks good so far. I’m totally okay with continuing this show. Also, I want to make sure to say that I thought the ending song was really cool.