Fall 2019 Grab Bag Week 9: Assassins Pride

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Melida tries to help Kufa

Assassins Pride Episode 8

I was initially hard on this show, but I think I’ve come to accept it for the most part. I still think that the story is skipping around too much to the point where valuable information is being lost. This is coming from someone who hasn’t read the source material. It’s just that obvious. However, I think that many of the character moments are making up for this in the long run.

Melida tries to trick the maid

Even if the development comes out of nowhere, I think this and the previous episode set up a decent mystery surrounding Kufa. It ultimately culminates in Melida learning about his vampire half, which seems like a reasonable development. Melida also has some solid interactions with Laque as the two investigate the town.

Melida finds a mystery spot

I think the use of the mystery spots in this story is great. I liked seeing Melida figure out that Blossom is using them to hide his experiments with a convenient excuse. I’m guessing that Kufa helped her reach this conclusion by showing her the cave with no gravity. Doing so probably made her wonder why some of the mystery spots were considered off-limits.

Melida finds an injured Rose

Going straight to “death” for Rosetti was kind of a weird choice. It’s hard to believe a character like her would die so easily, so it seems like such a hollow development. It might make more sense if Blossom was lying about it, but it’s hard to fully grasp the scene with how much the series skips overall.

Melida sees into the past

Along a similar vein, Melida’s visions throughout the story felt a bit jarring to me. Given how the episode ends, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to conclude that Rosetti was a half-vampire like Kufa this whole time. It seems to make the most sense if she’s unwittingly the culprit for every attack. However, the flashbacks seem to suggest that Kufa was the experiment victim from seven years ago.

Babylon Episode 5: Hero or villain

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Zen goes to meet a relative of Ai

It’s way too hard to keep track of who is who in this series, but I think the content itself is still great. This week’s episode digs more into Ai’s past as she builds herself up as the main antagonist. She definitely pulls off her creepy personality well. This series certainly handles its tension well, and it’s been a fun mystery so far.

Ai induces anxiety in her classmates

Honestly, Ai is seeming more and more supernatural based on her uncle’s description. I suppose pheromones do exist, but the science around them in humans is kind of sketchy. As I’ve mentioned before, I think that Ai becomes a lot more interesting if her ability is grounded in plausibility, but I think the show can work regardless. It’s more of what I prefer to see, if anything.

Zen muses over Ai's abilities

Listening to Ai’s uncle lust over her wasn’t the greatest experience of all time, but I guess it gets the message across. Ai is clearly meant to be an indomitable force for Zen to face. It does make me curious, though. Why wasn’t Zen affected by her from his interrogation. Was it just because he was never alone with her? Is that why Okuda was the only victim?

Hiasa wonders what Zen thinks about justice

I guess the end of the episode somewhat vindicates Hiasa, but I couldn’t help but feel suspicious when she started asking Zen about justice. I guess she seems a lot more straightforward that Ai was in her interrogation, but it was an unsettling question.

Kaika broadcasts another message

It’s crazy how much this series reminds me of Death Note. Many of the task force investigation scenes seem so similar. The shows also have the common theme of searching for someone who could basically be anyone. In addition to that, Kaika adds that extra layer by being a kind of stand-in on a TV broadcast. Maybe I’m reading too much into it.

Ai calls Zen

Ai’s conversation with Zen in the end is also pretty interesting, especially the analogy to the standard fantasy story. It seems to somewhat comment on the idea of people who readily accept the laws of the land, which could develop nicely as a theme for the show. On top of that, she kills another one of Zen’s investigators, which makes things difficult.

Fruits Basket Review: Targeting the feels

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Tohru discovers a house

I had originally planned to wait until the next season finished before talking about this series as a whole, but what the heck? It’s a series that I thoroughly enjoyed, so I feel like it deserves the attention. And despite how old the source material is and the existence of a previous adaptation, I actually came to this series entirely blind. Fruits Basket was a manga that I’d been recommended a long time ago, but I never truly felt like reading it. And now that I’ve seen the series, I almost can’t wait to do so.

Using waves to attack

The series stars Tohru Honda, a recently orphaned girl who lives alone in a tent as her grandfather’s house is being renovated. She manages to (quite literally) pitch her tent on the property of the Souma family, one of those old and traditional Japanese families. Yuuki Souma, one of her classmates, stumbles on Tohru’s tent, and offers her a place to stay. Tohru starts to learn more about the Souma family when she accidentally discovers their secret: several of the family members turn into zodiac animals when hugged by a member of the opposite sex.

Yuuki hates cats

I think the surprise supernatural element to the series has always made me wonder if I truly wanted to dive into the story. Looking back, I wonder if I was just avoiding yet another zodiac story, but I now know that it isn’t the main driving force in the series. The series itself is incredibly character-focused, with main characters and side characters alike having incredibly tragic stories. Additionally, the zodiac curse ends up largely taking a backseat to the truly dysfunctional nature of the Soumas.

Yuuki calls for some help

Much of the first season focuses on developing the main trio, Tohru, Yuuki, and Kyou, while introducing its cast. Part of what always impresses me about the series is how well-thought the characters seem to be. The series excels at creating sympathetic characters with emotional backgrounds. Even Tohru, who initially comes off as the saint that can heal anything, has her own issues to deal with.

Shigure questions Tohru

Other than that, I’d say the first season is largely devoted to introducing many of the zodiac characters. It’s enough to make me wonder what else is left to tell in the second season, but the track record of the first season leaves me excited to find out.

Overall Score: 9/10

Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne Episode 3: The rematch

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Mile tells the girls a story

The time skip in this episode was so random that it makes me wonder if the light novel did the same thing. Regardless, this series has a fun lightheartedness to it that makes really enjoyable to watch. I think it’s almost sad that Mile still thinks she can get away with being average after everything she’s done so far. On the other hand, her friends seem to have effectively accepted this.

Mile creates a new illness

I’ve been having fun with the references in this show. Watching Mile infect her friends with chuunibyou with Sentai stories made this episode so much better.

Six months pass

I suppose the point of the time skip is to get the other girls roughly up to Mile’s level before they venture out into the world. It would be awkward if they held her back, right?

The plan is unveiled

Oh, is she actually going to be a recurring villain? I already forgot her name, though.

The old man surrenders

I guess the main showcase in this episode is the exhibition match. Each of Mile’s friends gets to showcase her unique talents. Of the three, I think that Pauline was the funniest, since she effectively plays full damage sponge to win. She’s probably the least straightforward of the group.

Mile wins by default

I was pleasantly surprised with Mile’s fight. Her movements are ridiculous, but I thought that her sword fight looked great. Even though she’s supposed to be incredibly fast like Mavis, her movements were still very clear. It’s more than I would expect from a show like this.

The Crimson Vow unites

Does this mean that the girls are finally independent? I look forward to seeing how the Crimson Vow fights outside of the school environment.

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

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Miki tries to get her teddy bear back

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

Miki is the cat master

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

Trying to get a game together

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

Kyouko introduces herself

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

Midori explains the rules

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

Kyouko guesses Miki's past

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

Miki takes a risk

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

Assassins Pride First Impressions (1): Leap of faith

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Kufa is questioned

I know it’s still too early to judge, but this opening episode felt rocky to me. To be fair, I think the series looks fine visually, and I find the setting interesting. I quite like the idea of humanity being sequestered into floating domes. But the main character is a hard sell for me, and many of the developments in this episode didn’t make much sense.

Kufa meets a mysterious girl

The story takes place in humanity’s last haven, Flandore, a floating candelabra of cities protecting them from the dangerous lancanthropes of the outside world. The main character, Kufa Vampir, is an assassin tasked with training the talentless noble, Melida Angel. He’s also instructed to determine whether she’s truly the legitimate child of his client and to kill her if she isn’t. However, he instead chooses to help her.

Kufa introduces himself

The episode basically starts in the middle of Kufa’s last job, and his main assailant ends up escaping. Given that we as the audience know nothing about this job throughout the course of the episode, it seems weird to use it to introduce a character with seeming importance. Kufa’s associate comments that the fleeing enemy is on Kufa’s level, so I have to conclude that he’s coming back later.

Kufa catches Melida

In addition to that, Kufa’s first scene with Melida felt really awkward. For whatever reason, he has to catch her as she falls from a balcony. It’s a weird way to introduce a character like Melida, who tries to remain largely self-sufficient.

Melida lacks talent

And to Melida’s credit, I do like that aspect of her. Throughout the episode, she constantly refuses help, rather than screaming at the world about how alone she feels. She seems to legitimately act to further herself without being a burden to others.

Melida tries to protect her hair

I think the strangest scene in this episode is Melida’s defense of her hair. I get that it’s supposed to inform her character, but the timing of that monologue felt misplaced.

Kufa offers to help

Kufa goes from quickly condemning Melida straight to risking his own life to save her without a clear transition. Maybe it’s just his mysterious personality, but I would have expected something that seemed less like impulse. I feel like this series generally could be good, but it has some explaining to do first.

Lord El-Melloi II Case Files Episode 12: True identity

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Melvin has no idea what's going on

Well, this wasn’t a bad episode to end the arc. I felt like everything fit together in the end, and I understood more than I did in previous episodes. That being said, I don’t think I was properly equipped with the knowledge to guess the culprit before Waver’s final deduction (evidenced by the fact that I got it wrong last week even after it was technically revealed). Perhaps, this is one of those mysteries that’s better watched the second time around.

Caules admits to everything

I know that Waver explains that the healing magic was what tipped him off to Caules, but was that really the only hint? It might be enough for him to go off of, given that he’s Caules’s teacher, but it’s not a great clue for the audience. If I watch this arc again, I wonder how much I’ll be able to pick up on things that Heartless does as Caules.

Waver puts it all together

While pinpointing the exact culprit wasn’t the easiest task, I do commend the arc for making it pretty clear that a third party was involved. I’m not sure how I feel about the attempts to misdirect through Adashino, but I don’t think that Heartless came out of nowhere. I think the show does a good job of tying him together with the Animusphere investigation and the detour into the Forest of Einnashe in the previous episodes. His connection to the previous arcs are admittedly more shaky, though.

Faker reveals herself

I thought only Fate/Grand Order was allowed to make up new Servant classes.

Karabo faces off against Faker

While the final battle was a bit of a mishmash of powers, I really liked Karabo’s fight against Faker. Based on the visual presentation of this scene, it looks like Karabo was using the memories of Faker’s attacks against her. If so, I think that’s an amazing way to fight, since it’s taking advantage of the enemy’s strength while keeping track of the flow of battle.

Gray releases Rhongomyniad

Given how the episode cuts off in the end, I wonder what the next episode will be. This battle seems incomplete, so I find it hard to believe that it will be a new one-episode mystery. Is there going to be some sort of epilogue? If you ask me, they’re making it out like Faker and Heartless are set to return as recurring enemies.

Carole & Tuesday Episode 16: Starting the recovery process

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Carole and Tuesday check the results for their single

I question the setup in this episode a bit, but I think that the emotional payoff works out in the end. I’m not entirely sure what to make of recent episodes. The major point in this episode seemed to be that the debut single for Carole and Tuesday was released, but that didn’t seem to amount to much. Still, getting background on Gus isn’t too bad, and I can only hope Flora plays more of a role in the show moving forward.

Carole and Tuesday find a band

Given how much the girls typically struggle to make things work, it’s kind of funny to see something just work out for them. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with them randomly finding a band, but I do somewhat question the idea of the band helping them out for free.

Angela gets some protection

This “knight” business with Angela is being drawn out more than I expected. That being said, this week’s episode seems to throw an interesting wrinkle in it by having Angela get a message after she meets with the prime suspect.

Gus tries to help Flora

I like that this episode shows Gus being a good guy. His encounter with Flora makes his relationship with Carole and Tuesday a lot more reasonable. Also, his story of betrayal makes his fear of recording labels understandable. He also seems to have a fairly warm relationship with Flora, so I think it would be cool to see him together with her in the future.

Flora falls into hard times

Past that, I think Flora’s story didn’t seem like much. From side research, it seems like she was based on a real musician, so I guess I can’t be too upset.

Carole and Tuesday pay homage

That aside, I do like that Carole and Tuesday cover Flora’s song out of respect for her. It was a great way of bringing things around. Also, it felt like a small part, but I also liked that Flora’s attempts to sing along in the end don’t overpower the girls. It just sounds like a normal person trying to mimic a song.

Lord El-Melloi II Case Files Episode 5: Fairy magic

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The group examines Waletta

I guess the extra episode is meant to show off more of the combat in this series. Honestly, I’m still not sure I’m convinced on the mystery aspect so far, but the series has been entertaining so far. I do like the general principle behind the mysteries, but I get a sense that too much is kept from the audience to make Waver look more impressive. It’s funny to see him in actual combat this week, though.

Waver speculates

It seems to me that most of these stories revolve around Waver immediately coming up with the right answer and spending most of the runtime proving himself. I don’t mind this approach, since it emphasizes evidence over just coming across the solution.

Gray's secret is revealed

I think Gray’s story is interesting, even if I also think it’s just a way to inject Saber (Arthur) into the story again. At least, she seems to have a legitimate reason for being a clone of Saber. It seems like that was actually her intended purpose.

Reines is used as a catalyst

Reines and Waver have a surprising amount of give-and-take in their relationship. Given how smug Reines tends to be, I’m totally okay with this.

Waver figures everything out

This again? How many of the mysteries in this series are going to be caused by the supposed victim? To be fair, the mysteries have some distinctions that give them their own layers, but it’s strange how similar they are at a fundamental layer. Maybe I’m just reacting more to the idea of researchers doing sketchy things.

Gray uses Rhongomyniad

Oh look, it’s discount Excalibur. That aside, I think my favorite part of this stormy fight was Shishigou’s interaction with Waver in the middle of the fight. In comparison to the other abilities used in the fight, Waver uses some fairly wimpy magic blasts.

Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 37: Race to the end

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Dazai warns the boys

While I understand how much this episode had to resolve with both Pushkin and Fyodor, I think the events largely felt rushed. Atsushi and Akutagawa’s fight against Ivan felt like it should have been an episode climax on its own, but it largely feels like a backdrop for Dazai’s search for Fyodor. I say this mostly because I felt like Akutagawa and Atsushi were at a crossroads of sorts, whereas Fyodor’s capture seems more like a temporary setback for him.

Dazai helps direct the search for Fyodor

So, I have a question after seeing how this episode concludes. Was Dazai’s search for Fyodor meant to be a smokescreen for the audience or for Fyodor? It clearly works as a smokescreen for the audience, but it’s more impactful if he was trying to fool Fyodor. However, I guess I don’t see how it could have been the latter…

Atsushi gains a new ability

Watching Atsushi and Akutagawa forced to work together and combine their abilities is very much a cool moment for the episode. This is partly why I wish the episode would have taken more time for this fight. I feel like this new combined power could have been explained better with more time. From what I can gather, Akutagawa is giving Atsushi more reach with his claws, but there has to be more to that.

The group finds Pushkin

This may be a weird question, but how exactly do they get rid of the virus? From later scenes in the episode, it’s highly suggested that Dazai was never on-site, so it doesn’t seem like he could have touched Pushkin. I know that Pushkin surrenders in this scene, but the bosses punch him before he does anything, so it doesn’t seem like he would have willingly dropped it. Does it just go away when Pushkin is knocked out?

Dazai meets up with Fyodor

Seeing the shocked expression on Fyodor’s face was actually pretty cool. He doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would take defeat well. That aside, I like the fact that Fitzgerald is used to defeat Fyodor, because it gives a solid reason for focusing on him earlier in the season. The Eyes of God that he steals are used in the finale to wrap things up.

Akutagawa threatens to kill Atsushi

The final scene between Atsushi and Dazai is nice, but I kind of wish that it had been used to tie the present day events with the flashback at the start of the season. Atsushi and Akutagawa seem like decent analogues for Dazai and Chuuya. Both pairs work well together despite having very antagonistic personalities. I think linking the two together would have given the opening flashback some more meaning.

Final Score: 7/10

A fun season with a lot of solid action, but the story starts to feel rushed in the end.