Houkago Saikoro Club Episode 7: Volcano pressure

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Maki finds Miki alone

I think we might have sacrificed some gameplay time this week to give Miki some alone time with Maki. I’m okay with this trade. We’re back to introducing new characters, with this week giving a formal appearance for the student council president. The series sure is taking its time introducing the transfer student, huh?

Maki proposes a game

We start with a pretty fun sequence. Maki whisks Miki away for some fun, and the two get to know each other. It’s cool that their names are similar, and they’re being introduced as polar opposites, which is even reflected in the games they play. Maki overwhelms Miki with insults, and Miki gets her revenge with compliments. Maki’s got a cute side, I suppose.

Maki talks about her past

I think it makes sense for Maki to have a past like this, but I think the presentation could have been better. I think it’s probably a side effect of the multiple stories in this episode. I got the sense that her harsh childhood story comes out of nowhere and ends just as quickly. Maki also seems like the kind of character who deserves the time to tell her story well. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by Fruits Basket.

Midori explains a new game

In a similar vein, I think the explanation for the game in this episode gets a bit gimped because of the time constraint. I didn’t feel like I got a good grasp of the game’s movement rules, so it was confusing when the characters took their meeples off of boats.

The game ends

I think my favorite part of the episode was watching the camaraderie between Aya and the student council president. Aya seems to have finally gotten her own brother in arms, which is hilarious.

Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne Episode 6: The school trip episode

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Mile wonders about the world around her

This week’s episode was a bit awkward, but it does a good job of enforcing the character stories from last week. We’re starting to see more of the world through the travels of our band of goofs. I do wonder if this series is having a hard time deciding whether it wants to be serious or silly, though. I think the show excels at being silly, so maybe I’m just biased.

Mile goes for a trip

Seeing Mile turn the group’s quest into a class trip was pretty entertaining. I’m always skeptical when a series does a screenshot montage, but I think sightseeing is one of those situations where it fits. The episode also does a good job of steering into the comedy by throwing a modern-style gift shop into the mix.

Reina confronts the bandits

Reina’s anger at the bandits makes sense in context with the previous episode, so this seems like a reasonable progression for her. I also think it makes sense that she gets defeated by the diverse nature of her enemy, which goes back to her need for backup.

Mile takes out the enemies with interesting tactics

I do think that Reina shifts her personality more quickly than I would have expected, though. Mile’s speech about Reina being family feels like it should be correcting Reina’s impulsive solo nature. However, we see Reina stopping herself from killing as well, which seems like an overreach. Maybe it makes more sense as progression from last week rather than progressing from the events this week.

The grandfather watches everything

This might also sound cruel, but I think the episode would have made more sense if the grandfather didn’t survive. It’s weird watching everyone rejoice at the end when most of the caravan was slaughtered. I can see it being unnecessarily cruel to the little girl who already lost her parents. But in that case, it might have fit better if the soldiers had taken the caravan captive. After all, they were soldiers pretending to be bandits, not ruthless killers.

Babylon Episode 6: The great debate

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Tsutsui's remains are investigated

Okay, this episode was a rough one. Surprisingly enough, we get to see the big debate over the suicide law, which was admittedly cool. However, the arguments used in that debate felt really flimsy to me, which made it hard to watch. I think this episode shines overall for its portrayal of Nomaru against Kaika, but both sides could have had way better showings in the debate itself.

Also, I’m aware that suicide tends to be a sensitive subject, so this is a preemptive warning. I’m going to be discussing the debate about legalizing suicide from this episode in great detail, so bear that in mind.

Zen calls his wife

To its credit, the episode has a strong start with Zen. His call with his wife is incredibly foreboding, and her insistence that suicide is bad feels like a bad sign for her. This is excellent foreshadowing. In addition to that, Zen’s reformed plan is great. He realizes that he can’t find legal recourse to do what he wants, so he chooses to take illegal action in the form of kidnapping. Given that he’s supposed to represent justice in this series, this suggests a potential fall from grace.

The politicians are introduced

I get that this is television, which is a medium that can’t go into nuance, but these politicians felt like they had paper-thin arguments designed to allow Kaika to smack them down. The economic argument had the most promise, since he cited a numerical loss in GDP, but he doesn’t give great reasons. And to be fair, Kaika’s response comparing suicide to marijuana seemed pretty bad.

The statistic about the Netherlands having a lower incidence than countries where marijuana is prohibited is one that I don’t doubt. But since you’re comparing different countries, you can’t discount the possibility that relaxed laws just slowed the growth of usage, rather than outright reducing it.

Nomaru makes an emotional argument

The guy giving the argument that suicide is bad because it’s against the rules was probably the most hilarious one. I actually agreed with Kaika’s response to that one. The third guy didn’t even have an argument, so I have no comment there. Nomaru actually has a decent point, even if it’s a bit condescending.

Kaika talks about his goals

Honestly, I think Kaika has an interesting point when he says that an open conversation about death might promote better understanding. That’s what drew me to this show in the beginning. However, I’m not a fan of how romanticizes the law. I’m fairly certain that it’s been demonstrated that a large percentage of people who attempt suicide don’t try again. I don’t personally see how legalizing it makes those heated decisions any better.

Nomaru talks about the suicide law's effects

Honestly, the interaction between Nomaru and Kaika in this episode was interesting because it felt so suspicious to me. At one point, it was starting to sound like Nomaru was trying to say that the suicide law couldn’t be debated theoretically, so it needed to be put into practice to see how effective it was. That might have been a solid reversal.

Kaika reveals the kid's identity

To finish things off, Kaika successfully manipulates Nomaru into promoting Kaika’s own son as a candidate in the election. It’s a nice development given the rest of the content in the episode, and I’m curious to see where it goes. I still find it hard to believe that Nomaru wouldn’t have recognized the mother, but I’ve already mentioned that I somewhat suspect that he’s working with Kaika. This show definitely has some crazy twists.

Fall 2019 Grab Bag Week 6: Honzuki no Gekokujou

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Honzuki no Gekokujou Episode 6

It feels so difficult to talk about this series because of how much I enjoyed reading the manga. I feel like I’m largely lamenting the animation quality when I watch this series, but I don’t think it’s particularly deficient otherwise. I like how the series portrays the comedy behind Main’s thoughts as she struggles to make progress.

Otto introduces Benno

This episode largely focuses on introducing Benno, who is a fairly important character for quite a few episodes going forward. He teaches Lutz and Main a lot about trading in this world, and I tend to enjoy watching his business-like interactions with Main.

Lutz chooses to help Main

I also quite like Lutz’s relationship with Main. He’s always trying to support Main and make up for her weaknesses. It’s sad to see his dream being shot down by Otto in this scene, but he bounces back well. Also, the episode basically using his career choice as a way to introduce more of the world.

Benno recognizes the disease

The episode ends on a more serious note. Scenes like this are what I appreciate about this series. Main has a strong personality, but the show always has that looming sense of tension behind it all.

Fate/Grand Order: Babylonia Episode 6: A capricious goddess

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Ishtar is summoned

It kind of felt like there was a lot going on this week, but I liked learning more about Ishtar. Along with that, we got a little bit of focus on Ushiwakamaru as well, so I’d say the characters are getting more fleshed out. If anything, I’d say the show doesn’t have the strongest sense of direction, but I think that might be changing with this episode’s discussion of the Three Goddesses Alliance.

Gilgamesh gives the gang a task

This might change next week, but I thought it was funny that the Tablet of Destinies ultimately ends up being a glorified fetch quest. Ritsuka ends up just getting it in the end, and Ishtar fights him for it despite not having any idea what it is. That being said, I do think it was an entertaining way to introduce the idea of visiting the underworld.

Ana is ready to go

I really liked this episode’s character moments. Ana’s enthusiasm for the quest was really cute, despite being a small scene. In addition to that, Ushiwakamaru’s interaction with Ritsuka was a nice touch, given that she’s based on a Japanese legend. I liked seeing her sense of pride in how her story has come to life in Ritsuka.

Ritsuka enters the underworld

Ritsuka’s journey to the underworld was a bit jarring, but I think it works overall. Gilgamesh mentions that he lost the Tablet of Destinies while walking through Kutha and the underworld, so it’s not crazy that Ritsuka would find it there. I would have liked to know more about Ziusa-dra, though.

Ishtar flies away

The fight against Ishtar was great in this episode. Even when you ignore the combat, the scenes where Ishtar floats around also looked great. I might be biased because I have her character in the game, but I thought that this scene in particular was awesome.

Ishtar is tied up

I’ve seen enough anime to know where this is going.

No Guns Life Episode 5: Introducing the law

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It looks like this series is finally cooling down from its somewhat rapid-fire opening, so it’s fleshing out its world some more. This week’s episode largely focuses on the government infrastructure centered around managing Extended while establishing Juuzou as a reluctant cog in this process. I think that this information is nice to see, and I like that Juuzou is effectively treated like a more active criminal informant.

Tetsurou fears the crab

It’s interesting to see Tetsurou harboring lasting impressions from the previous arc. It’s in like with his character, and it gives him room to become more resolved, I suppose. It’s a reaction I would not have expected to be there, but it’s a good reminder.

Juuzou goes off alone

I’m cool with the idea that Juuzou and Tetsurou are two sides of the same coin. They have similar motivations, but Tetsurou is still new to the world. It’s a good way to set Juuzou up as his future mentor within the series.

Juuzou insists on finishing his tune-up

I really liked the fake tension in this scene. Juuzou understands the situation with EMS, and he knows he’s not in any immediate danger. However, Tetsurou is new to this and doesn’t know anything. So, the lack of communication between the two is creating the real tension in the scene, since Tetsurou has been shown to act impulsively on incomplete knowledge.

Kronen arrests the suspect

I do like the slight misdirection in this episode with the appearance of the Hug Bear. In reality, that prisoner is the one that is under control, but he enters the scene as though he’s the rogue element that Juuzou needs to handle. It gives Kronen a decent entrance as well, since it isn’t the guy that Juuzou is being tasked to find.

The last prisoner is revealed

Part of me suspects that this guy is going to have a past with Juuzou.

Toaru Kagaku no Accelerator Review: The reluctant hero

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Last Order wants a holiday

Step back, everyone, and make way for edgy science. In case you need something to tide you over until the third season of Railgun comes out, here’s a story about Accelerator. I may have mentioned it before, but I’ve always had trouble getting into the story of Index. I guess I tend to prefer the slightly more grounded stories of Academy City. That being said, I will begin this review with a slight warning. This series really isn’t a standalone and arguably relies on background from Index and Railgun.

Accelerator recovers from his injury

As evidenced by the title, this series follows Accelerator, the strongest esper in Academy City, as he recovers from being shot and attempts to protect the Misaka clone known as Last Order. Haunted by his role in the Misaka project, he takes on a somewhat anti-hero role, using his callous personality and his vector powers to do some good. From what I’ve heard, the series is based on a manga, but I haven’t heard the greatest things about the source material. I think that the adaptation is fine, though.

Accelerator has good taste in light novels

My overall impression of the series is that it has a somewhat split personality. It’s somehow lost between two overarching stories, and I only ended up liking one of them. That’s largely because the story seems to go down a familiar road closer to the end, with the main villain attempting to yet again create a Level 6 esper.

These fools can't comprehend

On the flip side, the lurking story throughout much of the first half of the series centers around a rogue division of Anti-Skill calling themselves DA. Unlike the organization as a whole, DA is composed of disgraced officers who will resort to extreme action to discipline espers. To me, this was always the more intriguing story, about a group of regular people trying to impose their sense of justice on people with abilities.

Predicting the villain's movements

As a whole, I think that the series might be trying to do too much. I think it tries to make Accelerator seem more “cool”, but giving him less screen time. He often ends up swooping in to save the day, but I would have liked to see more from him. The necromancy part also seems to detract from the setting. Still, I thought the series was enjoyable overall, and I didn’t have trouble watching it to the end. Also, the opening song is great.

Overall Score: 7/10

Houkago Saikoro Club Episode 6: The joys of game design

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Casually playing board games in a bar

Surprisingly enough, this week’s episode doesn’t introduce the character that was hinted at last week. Instead, we get a refreshing shift to Midori rather than another episode about Miki. I have no way of knowing about board game culture in Japan, but I’m not the biggest fan of how hopeless the episode makes it look. Still, I think the episode is a strong moment for Midori, as she learns to rely on her friends some more.

Midori is criticized

Honestly, Midori’s situation in this episode resonated a lot with me. I’m no board game designer, but many of these principles can be applied to anything creative. Midori’s personality reminds me of myself when it comes to blogging. I’ve historically had a fear of showing an incomplete product when it comes to posts. It’s often better just to foster the discussion, rather than putting together some perfect piece on your first try.

Midori explains her game

I do like how Midori’s game is portrayed in the episode. When she brings out the playing cards, you can start to see where the game is becoming more complicated. The game elements start feeling like additional layers stacked on top of the main concept.

Miki and Aya give suggestions

Personally, I would have liked to see a little bit more from this scene. I certainly know how Midori feels here, since it’s often crazy how obvious the suggestions of others might seem. However, I’ve been in this situation as part of my job, and I think it’s often too easy to say these things when you’re not the one who has to implement them. I think there’s a balance to be found when giving even solicited advice.

George gives some advice

This is a nice line to have in the episode. As I mentioned before, these concepts can be applied to many different things, and this tends to be my view on blogging. It’s easy to get defensive about something you spent time crafting, but reacting to criticism is often the easiest way to grow.

Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne Episode 5: Everyone has a past

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Reina remembers her family

I guess this is the stuff they skipped from the light novel. Last week’s episode teased Reina’s character story, but it turns out that every character gets a chance to share. While it’s nicely compact and all, I do wonder how much of Mile’s story is missing here. I also would have appreciated if the tone of the episode had shifted with the tone of each story. But that aside, we certainly have a colorful cast of rogues.

Reina loses her father

I’m surprised that the character with the most suffering gets to go first. Well, I suppose Reina has decent reasons for being less forgiving than her companions.

Reina burns her foes

This might just be me, but I felt like Reina’s story could have benefit from some spacing. It’s sad to see her lose her second family, but I think it’s much more effective if reinforcements didn’t arrive right after their deaths. Let her wander a little first. That being said, I liked seeing this explanation for the flashback in the previous episode. I wasn’t expecting this level of darkness in a series like this.

Pauline's mother hatches a plan

So, Pauline gets it from her mother. That’s my takeaway from her story.

Mile wakes up as a noble

The isekai awakening seems so much less intrusive as a delayed flashback. My main comment on Mile’s past is that the episode seems to go to a disturbing length to force the Cinderella parody on her.

Mile doesn't know how to react

I guess this is the weekly reminder that Mile has the best faces. Also, it’s a pretty small scene, but I think my favorite part of the episode is the depiction of Reina’s inner fire. It’s shown flaring up when she unlocks her magical abilities, but it dims when she finally tells her friends. It’s a cool thing to add.

Mile pretends to be a goddess

Mile really knows how to keep a low profile. Part of me wonders whether her friends from the academy will return in the future. It seems strange that they just disappear from her life.

Fall 2019 Grab Bag Week 5: Gundam Build Divers Re-RISE, Assassins Pride

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I watch too many shows, so let’s talk about some other ones.

Mei is annoyed

Gundam Build Divers Re-RISE Episode 5

I’ve largely been treating this show as a relaxing sideshow, and I think it holds up decently. I like that it breaks the mold by having its main character, Hiroto Kuga, be an experienced player rather than a complete newbie. I think it’s refreshing to follow someone who knows what he’s doing, but I do wonder about how the series is handling character stories.

Par tries to leave

The story largely follows four players who find themselves thrown together D&D-style into an adventuring party within the game. I get that it’s interesting to follow along as the characters learn about each other, but I do get the sense that their pasts are a bit too mysterious. This episode is a nice opportunity for Par, but it starts with Mei displaying a preexisting relationship with Magee. Am I supposed to recognize her from the previous season?

Hiroto unveils a new form

Still, I think that the variety in the mobile suits seems interesting so far. I’ve always liked transforming Gundams, so it’s cool to watch Hiroto fight. Justice Knight is annoying so far, but what can you do? The overall story seems to be following a potential non-player ecosystem within the game, which is a natural progression from the self-aware AI that was Sarah in the previous season. The story reminds me of the focus of Infinite Dendrogram, so I think it’s promising.

Melida and Nerva are friends now

Assassins Pride Episode 4

When I last spoke about this series, I commented that I liked the concept behind its setting, but I thought that its explanations of character motivations were lacking. To be honest, that hasn’t changed all too much, but I do like that the series has been working on building its world some more. It certainly explains a lot. In other senses, I get the feeling that it’s rushing through its developments a bit. The previous episode was meant to be Melida’s debut, but this week’s episode immediately shifts to a much more important tournament without much reason.

Melida and Elise are revealed

I get that this competition is supposed to be a prestigious thing, but I still find it weird that everyone just kind of goes with it when Melida and Elise are revealed here. Also, we as the audience don’t really get a good sense of why this is a shocking reveal until it’s fully explained, which makes it feel like a weak moment. I’m not even sure I have a good sense of where Melida ranks within her school. Is she effectively a first-year?

Kufa must prove himself

I do have to give the episode credit for Carrier Marquis’s reveal. It’s not a bad fight, and I like the slight explanation of the class system within this world through her Clown class. Compared to the previous episode’s vampire reveal, it feels like a step up. Yeesh, how does Kufa trick anyone with his name?