Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 3: Bringing it all together

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Tanaka meets Boogiepop

Finally, I can judge this first arc as a complete story. I still find the series entertaining to watch, but seeing the inevitable payoff for this arc makes me feel a bit disappointed. So many story points felt underdeveloped in the end, which may just be the inevitable consequence of being a light novel adaptation. The ultimate concept behind this first story is interesting, as the entire story seems to be largely resolved by normal people. However, I think this idea comes with a drawback, since Boogiepop is actually an intriguing character who basically contributes nothing.

Tanaka gets some advice from Saotome

I did like seeing Tanaka, Kei, and Saotome investigate Naoko’s disappearance, but Tanaka particularly felt incredibly weak as a character. He’s hinted at in previous episodes as Naoko’s secret boyfriend, but I didn’t feel like I got enough emotion from him to actually feel sorry for his loss. That being said, I do think it’s cool that Saotome tries to turn these two characters against Nagi.

Saotome reveals himself to Nagi

Nagi’s violent death in this episode felt a bit overboard, but I do think it worked from a story perspective. Granted, I personally thought it was obvious that Boogiepop would arrive to revive Nagi, but we didn’t have any confirmation that this show would go to those lengths. And since we saw Nagi alive at the end of the first episode, it would be totally reasonable to conclude that Manticore succeeds at becoming Nagi.

Echoes leaves everyone behind

Echoes was the main weak point for me in this episode. I’m not a fan of how he just disappears. His entire story seems extraneous, despite being the central driving force in the arc. It seems like he learns enough about humanity from watching how Kei and the other students stand up against Manticore, but none of that feels convincing to me. Maybe there’s some deeper message that I’m missing, but I just didn’t get it.

Boogiepop traps Manticore

So, is this how Boogiepop typically operates? Based on this scene, it sounds like Boogiepop is accustomed to using normal humans to achieve its goal. I’m not sure how I should interpret this.

Nagi reunites with Boogiepop

I guess this scene is supposed to imply that Nagi has already worked with Boogiepop in the past. It’s not exactly surprising, and I’m not sure what to make of it.

Nagi muses about the true identity of Echoes

Am I really just supposed to take away from this story that it’s an extended representation for a test from a god? That’s…kind of a downer. I didn’t get that sense at all from watching everything, so it comes off as a throwaway message.

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Dororo Episode 2: The telltale bell

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Old man meets a monster

This episode felt like it had a pretty straightforward story with a predictable twist, but it did have a certain charm to it. It’s interesting to see Hyakkimaru, in particular, expressing himself through silence. I got the sense that the episode was doing a great job of making his intentions clear without words. I almost want to say that the series would be more entertaining if the blind man from this episode didn’t stay with the main characters.

Hyakkimaru remembers the other person who stopped to help him

I’m feeling a bit ambivalent about the narrator in this series. I felt like the old man covers the same information later in the episode, and I would have preferred to keep inferring from Hyakkimaru’s silence. That being said, I do like how the narrator contributes to Hyakkimaru’s background. In this scene, the narrator starts by talking about the other person didn’t pass Hyakkimaru by, and then the scene immediately shifts to show the prosthetics guy.

Dororo wonders why the villagers seem to be doing well

It’s not what the show is going for, but this episode was really weak as a mystery. It was clear what was going on in the village just from this comment alone. That being said, we as the audience implicitly trust Hyakkimaru as the protagonist, so I guess it’s fair for Dororo to question Hyakkimaru’s intentions at this point.

Blind man explains Hyakkimaru's vision

This guy is pretty convenient.

Demon taunts Hyakkimaru's existence

There’s something funny about watching the demon taunt Hyakkimaru only to die easily. That being said, I tend to get annoyed with this type of “vague pronoun” foreshadowing, and this scene is no exception.

The lord is still running into problems

Given the premise, I’m assuming that any misfortune that befalls this lord are related to the dying demons. I would have hoped for something more concrete, but I guess this works. Also, I feel very sorry for Hyakkimaru based on the ending the episode. It looks like he just regained his nerves, which is an awkward organ to get early in the game.

Grimms Notes The Animation First Impressions (1): Telling a grand story

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Alice attacks a monster

In many ways, you get what you’d expect from this episode as a game adaptation. As far as a fantasy series goes, it’s not a bad concept, but I don’t think this first episode did a good job introducing its main premise. Going by what’s obvious, the story takes place in a world based on Grimms’ Fairy Tales, in which each inhabitant is given a Book of Fate containing the story of that person’s life. The main characters are in search of Chaos Tellers, beings which create monsters to terrorize stories…for reasons.

Reina explains about the Chaos Tellers

While I do appreciate that the episode tries to weave its exposition into what it’s doing. Using Ex as the newbie to give the other characters a reason to explain themselves is fine, for the most part. I still don’t get who the main characters are, though, and why they’re seemingly able to traverse stories that aren’t their own.

Villagers consult their books

I do find the concept of the Book of Fate interesting, and I’d be curious to see how the story uses normal people to show how these books influence society. It reminds of me of “Yulia’s Score” from Tales of the Abyss, which I thought was an underdeveloped aspect of that series. Maybe this series has something else to say about that.

Red Riding Hood is a title passed down

Along those same lines, I do wonder if other stories are like the one we’re introduced to in the first episode. Here, the inhabitants of the “Red Riding Hood” world seem to be locked in some kind of loop as they perpetuate the popular fairy tale. Is that normal? It gives the main characters an excuse to relive the events of each fairy tale, I suppose.

Shane questions Red Riding Hood

I don’t mind the twist that Red Riding Hood is actually playing host to the Chaos Teller, and I liked this scene in particular. With the way Shane calls out to Red Riding Hood in her interrogation, I’m assuming it’s meant to be a call back to the way Red Riding Hood questions the wolf in the story.

Red Riding Hood turns the hunter into a wolf

One (slightly) big plot point that I didn’t understand in this episode was the wolf. Is there actually a separate wolf who’s meant to eat Red Riding Hood or is it supposed to be the hunter? I get the sense that there’s meant to be another wolf, but it’s weird that it just never makes an appearance in the episode.

Alice discusses battle strategies with Cinderella

Wait, so Ex is actually in control of Alice when he transforms? That must make things interesting.

Ex has a blank book

So…what? Without even knowing if Ex is the only character with a blank Book of Fate, it’s hard to really draw any conclusions from this scene. As I mentioned before, we don’t exactly have any idea who the main characters are supposed to be.

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai First Impressions (1): Love is hard

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The battle for love has begun

Even though I’ve read the manga, watching this first episode was still good for some laughs. I’ve been a fan of this series for while, so it was fun to see. The basic concept is simple. The main characters, Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya, overthink romance to a level that would put me to shame, as they fight to make sure that the other is one who confesses first. It’s a fun premise, and it makes for some truly hilarious schemes.

Miyuki's grand plan to make Kaguya fall for him

I do have a small comment about the visuals in this series. For the most part, they’re fine, but I do get the sense that they’re a bit simplistic for how over-the-top the scenes are. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by some of the visuals from the previous season, but I would expect more going on in the background.

Miyuki needs to figure out a plan

The mental battles themselves are what really drew me to the series. It’s not that the two are necessarily smart, but a lot of the jokes tend to be clever and enjoyable. Still, it’s tough to talk about this series, since it’s a comedy at its core.

Kaguya thinks Miyuki is cute?

You’re going to be seeing this scene a lot. Have I mentioned how much I like this series?

Chika is sad to see Kaguya go

Chika is also great as an agent of chaos in the episode, throwing the plans of both main characters into disarray. She’s the source of a surprising amount of tension throughout the series, and it just makes it funnier.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai Episode 2: The parts we missed in the first episode

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Kyouko is afraid to take the same path back home

I know it’s probably cheating to talk about the same show twice in the same week, but I couldn’t help myself. Having just watched the second episode of this series, I got too excited to talk about it. While the somewhat jumpy style of storytelling can be incredibly confusing, I find the series fun to watch when I take a step back and map things out. I know I personally had to take a lot of notes to make that happen, but it felt like I was being rewarded for it. Either way, this episode seemed to expand a ton on the previous episode, so I’m glad that they were released together.

Magic drugs make you feel better

It’s a feeling I recognize much more when I’m reading light novels. I just like it when a series makes me truly feel that paying attention is worthwhile, that the scenes in the episode matter. Granted, the series doesn’t make it easy. As I said last week, many names are mentioned very infrequently, so keeping track of the cast of mostly similar characters is a struggle.

Nagi attacks Kyouko and questions her about the drugs

Take this early scene in the episode as an example. We start the episode with Kyouko and Suema walking home together. Kyouko fears for her life, and she suddenly gets attacked from behind. At the time, Suema isn’t shown on screen, so we’re left wondering whether Suema made some supernatural move because Kyouko learns too much.

Suema and Kyouko talk about the attack later

The show immediately flashes forward to a cafe, where Kyouko and Suema are logically continuing their conversation. Kyouko tells her story about the drugs, and the two question whether it’s the reason Kirima Nagi is interested in Kyouko. This conversation indirectly confirms that Nagi attacked Kyouko in the earlier scene before a later scene flashes back again to definitively confirm it.

Manticore attacks Saotome

While this is happening, an unknown girl is being attacked by the Manticore, and we’re shown the ID of Yurihara Minako. Based on the positioning, I assumed that Minako was the victim, but this later scene reveals that she’s actually the Manticore’s disguise. We also see that the Manticore has allied with Saotome, who happens to be the guy who runs into Keiji in the very first scene in the series.

Manticore creates a drug to control Akiko

And what was Saotome doing when he ran into Keiji? He was on a date with another girl, who is then revealed to be Kusatsu Akiko, the girl who passed out the drugs that Kyouko took. At this point, the pieces felt like they were falling into place for me, so the story started making a lot of sense.

Manticore struggles to wake victims up

One thing that didn’t add up in this episode was why the Manticore needed the drug. Perhaps it was simply meant to make the victims easier to lure, but it doesn’t explain why the Manticore was upset about the girls becoming nearly catatonic. Do they need to be awake? That much still needs to be revealed, I guess.

Kamikishiro finds Echoes

Remember Keiji’s missing friend Kamikishiro from the last episode? It turns out that she’s not just another victim, but the key to Echoes, the true origin of the Manticore. She’s apparently also friends with Nagi, which didn’t fully make sense to me, but I guess it makes the story fit together better. I’m wondering why Nagi had to get herself suspended, but I suppose it’s just an excuse to investigate more efficiently.

Echoes wants to track down the Manticore

To be fair, I think Echoes takes this story into some really strange territory, since he adds the surprise alien aspect. If he’s somehow linked to Boogiepop, that might work out for some grand scheme, but that remains to be seen.

Nagi confronts Echoes

With all of that set up, I’m curious to see how Boogiepop factors into this story. We’ve seen Boogiepop standing before a dead girl, who is likely the Manticore based on what we know so far. Based on this style of storytelling, I’m presuming that Boogiepop didn’t kill the Manticore, but I’m curious to see how this ends.

Winter 2019 Grab Bag Week 1: Shield Hero, Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita

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I don’t think I’m going to be posting about these shows regularly, so I guess it’s a good time for a grab bag. It’s time for two shows that couldn’t be any more different from each other.

Naofumi has a strange dream about another world

Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari First Impressions (1)

I’ve been reading the manga for this series for a while now, so I had a good idea of what to expect going in. The main character, Naofumi Iwatani, is summoned to a fantasy world in a way that must be incredibly familiar at this point. In this world, he serves as one of four legendary heroes tasked with saving the world from the monsters that threaten it. However, he is summoned as the Shield Hero, a hero disregarded as the weakest of the four given his lack of offensive capabilities.

Background stories get too complicated

As far as adaptations go, I thought this episode turned out pretty well. The animation generally looked fine, and I thought that the background music was nice. Using a double-length episode to get into the gritty part of the show while still having time to introduce the world also seemed like a good idea.

Myne explains why she wants to know the price of Naofumi's armor

Watching this episode for effectively the second time was interesting. Since I knew that Myne would eventually betray Naofumi, there were a lot of cues that I didn’t pay much attention to the first time. For example, the simple task of asking for the price of his armor should be suspicious, and it makes sense if she wants to resell it later.

This country is a matriarchy

The matriarchy thing was kind of weird overall. I think I mostly skimmed through it when I was reading the manga, so I didn’t realize how much emphasis the series puts on it. I get that it’s a central theme to the show, but it feels unnatural. Just think about it. Patriarchal themes are baked into modern Western society, but would you ever point that out to some alien species without being prompted? Maybe it’s wrong of me to think in that way, but I would be surprised if it was a common conversation starter.

Naofumi negotiates

I think the funniest part of the episode was seeing Naofumi use the balloon monsters to his advantage. Since his defense is raised by the legendary shield, he doesn’t take any damage when they latch on to him, so it’s funny to see them used as an improvised weapon.

French toast is ready

Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita First Impressions (1)

Strangely enough, this might be the weirdest premiere in the season. I mean, didn’t we just have a show like this in the previous season? It’s actually frightening how similar the two shows are. The female lead (who covers one of her eyes) meets a grade school girl and falls in love. The younger girl rejects her advances, but she’s able to at least partially win the girl over with food. The female lead also likes to make clothes for the younger girl.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t enjoy this episode much at all. It gave me a low initial impression because of its background music alone. Maybe I’m overreacting, but the music in this show seemed largely grating to my ears. Visually, the show was mostly okay. In this scene, for example, I think it’s funny that the background is framed to give the image of Hinata pouring sugar on Miyako.

Hinata is killing her sister

I think Hinata had the strongest showing in this episode despite not being the show’s main focus. On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird am I? But that’s all I really had to say about this show.

Dororo First Impressions (1): Spooky demon baby

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The Hall of Hell sounds friendly

Okay, I probably should have expected it, but this series seems a lot more grim than I was expecting. Perhaps it’s still too early to tell, but this introduction definitely took a harsh tone. Additionally, part of me wonders how much of this I would have understood if I hadn’t read the synopsis beforehand. But since I have, it seems that this story follows Hyakkimaru, a man on a quest to retrieve the organs that were stolen from him at birth after his father made a deal with a group of demons.

The lord sacrifices something

From what I saw in the first episode, the story seems fairly simple, but I guess it depends on how the show approaches its moral implications. Sure, the lord comes off as a jerk, but he’s technically trying to save his land. It might call into question whether it’s truly right to undo the wish later in the series. Who knows?

The statue is destroyed by the lightning

I’m not entirely sure how I was supposed to interpret this scene, but my understanding is that the child’s life is saved by this statue. I’m assuming that this leaves the lord’s wish “incomplete”, as the child now has the opportunity to retrieve what was lost.

A man approaches a doctor who specializes in prosthetics

I’m not entirely sure what this part was doing in the episode. Is it just supposed to introduce this doctor as the one who saved the main character? Is he a recurring mentor character?

Dororo steals from thieves

I’m a little bit worried about Dororo as a character. I get the feeling that I’ll find this bratty behavior annoying pretty quickly.

Gruff guy threatens a dog

How do we show that this guy deserves to die? Have him threaten to kill a puppy! Brilliant!

The main character regains his face

Honestly, I’ll be happy if the series doesn’t dwell too much on this scene. Given what we’ve seen, it shouldn’t be hard to guess that the main character regained his face after defeating one of those demons. Additionally, the lord starts to see his fortune weaken at the same time, so it makes sense.

Akanesasu Shoujo Review: A world of possibilities

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The girls talk about a ritual to enter a new world

Hey, who knew that radios were supposed to be cool? I suppose if I could use a radio to travel across dimensions, I’d be a lot more into it as well. That’s what we have for ourselves with this series. The main character, Asuka Tsuchimiya, is the leader of the Crystal Radio Club along with four of her classmates. Though they typically just goof around, the girls learn about a ritual, the Ritual at 4:44, that they can perform with a radio. It starts out as harmless fun, but the main characters soon find out that the ritual actually works when it sends them to a parallel world.

Time to roll the dice

In the other world, the girls are surprised to find Asuka, or at least another version of her from a different world. From there, the stage is set. Each arc sees the girls entering a new world, a different possible future for Earth based on the actions of humanity. In these worlds, each girl is confronted with her own weaknesses, Persona-style, and overcomes them to become an Equalizer to fight against the mythical King of Twilight.

Yuu wonders if they've all gone crazy

As an extra note, the ending for this series gets really weird. Despite being an original series, it’s ultimately inconclusive, and the series leaves off without getting into the nature of the King of Twilight, who acts as the main antagonist. Maybe it’s wrong for me to expect that sort of thing, since the series is supposed to be paired with a mobile game, but I would have at least liked to have some explanation for the multiverse scenario.

Marriage is mandatory in this world

Much of the series relies on the appeal of the alternate timelines that the girls visit. That aspect was pretty big for me, since it was the main thing I was curious about while I was watching. Personally, I had a bit of a problem with those worlds, as they didn’t seem particularly creative to me. I mean, the generic “Western” setting alone felt the laziest to me. I did like how the worlds brought out different aspects of the girls. For example, the pretty girl with the shy personality dreams of being a hero, which seemed interesting.

Seriousuka fights

From the animation side, I didn’t have a particularly strong opinion. For the most part, it looked fine. For the record, though, the battles are pretty heavily CGI, if that bothers you.

In summary, I think my overall impression of this series was that it “wasn’t for me”, despite having a lot of potential with the things I tend to like. It wasn’t all that bad, but I did get the feeling that I was kind of forcing myself to watch it as time went on. I did like Seriousuka, though.

Overall Score: 6/10

Egao no Daika First Impressions (1): Literally protecting that smile

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Joshua acts cool

Well, I’m happy to see that this series went for the dystopia-like setup I was hoping to see. It looks like the story revolves around two nations at war, a typical “empire vs. kingdom” setup. We’re only introduced to the kingdom in the first episode, ruled by the young princess Yuuki. Yuuki largely leads a peaceful life as the ruler, but there seems to be more to it. The first episode overall was pretty interesting, but I did have some issues with how the exposition for the world was handled.

Yuuki sticks the landing

The episode kind of gave me a bad first impression for the weirdest reasons. I know it’s nitpicking, but it was weird to see repeated angles of the same scene, such as when Yuuki is first introduced and when she stumbles on the way to the podium. I thought it was jarring and interrupted the flow of the scene, but maybe that’s just me. Also, I get that Yuuki is supposed to know little about the outside world, but I find it odd that the opening emphasizes her age.

Apparently, there's a new type of chrars

The episode also had the annoying flood of technobabble that you’d expect from a sci-fi show with a unique setting. While that itself isn’t a huge deal, I wasn’t a fan of how the information was finally relayed. We get some spiel about how chrars are some kind of special ore that is significant…for some reason. Additionally, the scene itself is two military officers talking, people who really should know this information already.

The children are happy...probably

With that out of the way, I do think that the series had its strong points. For example, I do like the mystery that is being built around Yuuki, a hidden truth that is being kept from her. When I first saw this scene, I remember thinking that the kids in the city had a dead look in their eyes for some reason. If you think about it in the context of lying to keep Yuuki happy, I think it’s more interesting, since the citizens could all be brainwashed or artificial.

Yuuki is pressed about her knowledge of the country

This scene also could have a dual meaning in the light of the overall ruse. At face value, it’s a subordinate checking the capabilities of her ruler. However, it could also be a sincere question, to make sure that the princess is still in the dark.

The mock battle happens in Tokyo

Given that the opening of the episode speaks of “distant planets”, where exactly are we? Calling out Tokyo by name suggests that this is really just Earth, but it’s hard to say. Perhaps, it’s just meant to be a metaphorical distance. Either way, I’m hoping this “simulation” was actually real, since the soldiers seemed to react so strongly when Yuuki started blowing up the environment.

Time to check out what's happening with the Empire

Based on the opening animation and the synopsis, it seems like we’re still missing half of the setup for this series. That aside, I definitely thought that the scene with the stuffed animal heavily suggested that Joshua was going to die.

Boogiepop wa Warawanai First Impressions (1): That kind of resolved itself

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Keiji runs into a friend

I know the second episode is out, but I’m writing this post having not watched it yet. To kick off the new season, it looks like we’re going deep into mystery territory with this series. We’re not given too much of an introduction in the episode, but it does do a decent job of setting up the basic mystery of the show, which is whether Boogiepop is a force for good or evil. We see this through the eyes of Keiji Takeda, a normal student who is friends with Touka Miyashita, the girl Boogiepop is inhabiting.

Boogiepop tries to save the suffering man

With Boogiepop’s introduction, we get a clear indication that its on the side of humanity, as it seems to bemoan the suffering of someone whom the other bystanders ignored. From that interaction, I got the sense that we’re meant to immediately assume that Boogiepop is in some sense the “hero” of the series.

Boogiepop stands ominously behind Touka

However, quick scenes throughout the episode seem to indicate something more sinister. We see Touka, who is presumably still possessed by Boogiepop, in various locations looking strangely amused.

Discussing Boogiepop in class

When we first see mention of Boogiepop outside of the main pair, the girls seem convinced that Boogiepop is behind the disappearances at the school. Naturally, rumors are not meant to be taken too seriously, but the episode continues to call Boogiepop into question.

Dead girl hangs from wires

Finally, Boogiepop is shown standing before a dead girl, right before it confirms to Keiji that it has completed its mission at the school. The episode leaves off suggesting that Boogiepop might have killed the girl, even if it denies that fact. In that sense, I think the episode does a good job of setting up the mystery surrounding Boogiepop.

Boogiepop deals with the police

Now, let’s take a step back and talk about the flip side. It might have just been me, but a few of the scenes in the episode had some questionable animation. It tended to look like the scene was jerking around, as though it was dropping frames or something. The most noticeable example is in the scene where Boogiepop is confronted by police officers. Perhaps there’s some stylistic choice going on here, but I really didn’t get it.

Random girl is scared of being killed

Additionally, I think the episode relies a bit too much on the audience knowing the characters more than we really should. I give the episode credit for having characters interact with each other in a realistically familiar way, but it also means that many important names are mentioned only once. For example, I had to look back in the episode to confirm my assumption that Kamikishiro was the girl who walked with Keiji to school.

Nagi introduces herself

Overall, I thought the episode was decently intriguing. I’m at least curious enough to see where it goes. As I mentioned, the animation was a bit weird for me. However, I did like the background music, as it was sufficiently eerie without feeling overly generic.

As a final note, I think the introduction of Nagi at the end was interesting, since it seemed to heavily suggest a future relationship between her and Touka. However, the opening sequences make her look more like an ally than a future enemy.