Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 35: A secret duel to decide it all

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Ranpo chooses to fight

I guess the fight between the Port Mafia and the Armed Detective Agency wasn’t a lie after all. This week’s episode had some surprisingly entertaining interactions despite being mostly action-focused. I’m curious to see where this plot line is headed, since it’s looking grim.

Ranpo asks Atsushi to find Katai

It’s kind of weird for Ranpo to be the one gearing for a fight. I’m also not sure I like the fact that he conveniently gives Atsushi an out from the decision. Sure, it doesn’t necessarily go anywhere, but it seems like a quick way to cut off the conversation.

Katai is shot

Given the fact that he appears in the opening, I have a hard time believing that Katai is dead. I’m going to guess that Fyodor has him captured to keep him out of the fight.

Ranpo tricks Chuuya

Seeing Ranpo trick Chuuya was pretty awesome. Despite having no real combat effectiveness, Ranpo manages to neutralize a large threat from the Port Mafia with some help from Poe. It definitely took me a while to remember that Ranpo has no abilities, but it’s a cool scene.

Akutagawa sees himself in Kyouka

I definitely didn’t expect it, but this is a nice moment between Akutagawa and Kyouka. Akutagawa in particular seems to be softening with his interactions with Atsushi, so it’s nice to see him acknowledging that Kyouka has found her place. I like the idea that he sees himself in her and wishes her the best, even if she chose the other side.

The president meets with Mori

I was expecting the virus to fully incapacitate the two leaders, but it looks like we’re getting an epic fight instead. I’m curious to see the president in action a bit more, to be honest, but I look forward to seeing the fight overall.

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Carole & Tuesday Episode 5: The big time

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The girls need money

It’s nice to see another wholesome episode, as the girls finally get something they could call their first performance. I also think it’s interesting that the series seems to focus more on its side characters than its main characters. We get weekly montages of the two girls interacting, but I feel like I understand what drives characters like Gus and Roddy more than Carole or Tuesday. I’m sure there’s still more to come, but it’s a fascinating thing to note.

Everyone ignores Gus

The opening of this week’s episode made me realize that the last two ideas were Roddy’s ideas, so it’s nice to see Gus’s input here. Even though Gus inevitably fails to set anything up himself, it does give a sense that he had the right idea all along.

Tao has some trust

I’m also enjoying the disparity between the girls and Angela as we continue to see more from her perspective. There’s this sense that Angela’s past gives her the advantage, which ends up working out for pacing. Her progress is marked by industry veterans and important people, which means that she has less trouble making progress. As a result, her screen time goes down, allowing the focus to naturally shift to Carole and Tuesday.

Roddy tries to vouch for the girls

I liked seeing a bit of Roddy’s thought process in this episode. I’ve been wondering for a while what motivates him, and he goes into it a bit this week. As he pretty much states, he mostly comes off as a fan with a general sense of adoration. He wants to help because of that, and he just happens to have some connections that come in handy.

Carole and Tuesday perform for the bar

Carole and Tuesday’s performance was a nice one. It’s nice that we get these weekly performances, and I like the atmosphere of the series. If I were to make one comment to the contrary, I’d say that this setting feels like it has a lot of potential for exploration that hasn’t really happened yet. It’s still early, though, so it’s more of what I’d like to see.

Tuesday's brother leaves

Tuesday’s brother was also surprisingly interesting in this episode. He initially seemed like he might take after his mother, but he ends up leaving Tuesday alone after he finds her, seemingly content to know that she’s okay. I like this idea that he could be an ally in the future, and it breaks from the character archetype I was expecting. I think it might have been cool if he’d taken the opportunity to talk to Tuesday before leaving, but it’s kind of a small point.

Kimetsu no Yaiba Episode 5: Learning the ranks

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Urokodaki confronts the demon

With the series taking a step back from the fighting aspect, I think it’s starting to get more interesting. The emotional scene of Tanjirou’s return in this episode was nicely done. I did get the impression that it’s glossing over some things, which is surprising given that the episode starts with a repeat of the battle in the previous episode.

Tanjirou watches the demon die

I’m glad the series is maintaining this idea that Tanjirou sees the demons differently. It makes a lot of sense given what he’s seen in Nezuko, but the episode does a good job of showing it in smaller interactions. Whenever he kills a demon, he looks on the demon with pity. Despite the hatred he felt for the demon in the previous episode, he only hopes for the best for the soul forced to become a demon. It could make him a better character to watch in the future.

Tanjirou searches for answers

It’s almost comical to see Tanjirou attempting to interrogate demons as he’s cutting them down. I have to give him credit, though. He definitely knows where his priorities are.

Only four survive

Hey, look. The characters with distinctive character appearances survived. But in all seriousness, I’d be curious to see how the butterfly girl survived the entire ordeal without any dirt or scratches involved. Additionally, a later scene mentions that there were five survivors, rather than four. In the opening, we saw a guy wearing a boar mask, so I guess it’s probably him.

Also, why does it make sense to give the applicants the demon-killing swords after they’ve finished the test. How were they meant to fight the demons otherwise? I thought that Urokodaki said that only a certain type of sword could kill demons.

Tanjirou tries to pick the right ore

I’m a little miffed that the episode skips over this scene with the ores. I got the sense that this is meant to be an important decision, and it effectively amounts to Tanjirou solving the problem with his magic sense of smell. Also, how did the others choose?

Nezuko greets Tanjirou

This scene definitely handled the emotional aspects well. The surprise of seeing Nezuko awake is coupled with her proactive attempt to greet Tanjirou. It really does separate her from the demons we’ve been seeing in the past couple of episodes. In addition, Urokodaki gets a strong contribution to the scene with his own greeting.

Also, I think I’m okay with the idea that Nezuko sleeps to recover herself without having to eat humans. I just hope the year-long time frame isn’t a recurring factor.

Tanjirou gets his sword

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Tanjirou’s origin makes him special somehow. I think he’d be more interesting if he wasn’t, but I can go with it. As for the color of his sword, we don’t really get much in this episode. Do the colors have general themes behind them?

Dororo Episode 15: Parting ways

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Dororo tries to stay a bit longer

This week’s episode felt like a strange, mixed bag. I thought that the general story was excellent, but the execution felt lacking. On the more obvious side, I felt like the animation in this episode was noticeably shaky compared to previous episode. But more than that, I thought that the general pacing of the episode was a bit forced, to the point where the message was potentially distorted.

Dororo investigates the warehouse

As I’ve said in previous episodes, I like seeing Dororo act independently. She eventually calls out to Hyakkimaru for help when she gets into trouble, but she ultimately gets out of the situation without him. It does a great job of setting up the ending of the episode, when she chooses to part ways from Hyakkimaru.

The villagers sacrifice the orphans

I also liked the idea that the villagers were directly responsible for the death of the nun and the orphans. I don’t know if the episode really makes it clear why they did it, but it does set it up well. While outwardly nice, the villagers are shown to be clearly guarded around Dororo, indicating that there’s more to the village than the lord himself.

Dororo reunites with Hyakkimaru

What I thought was less clear was Lord Sabame’s role in whole ordeal. He’s shown in the same scene that depicts the nun’s death, but Dororo seems to imply that the villagers acted without his intervention. Additionally, the aftermath scene heavily suggests that he sacrifices himself to stop the fire that Dororo started, which could mean that he was just trying to help.

Hyakkimaru regains another organ

It’s been a while since Hyakkimaru got an organ, and this one was a bit gruesome. I’m still a bit underwhelmed by the fight with the moth, since Hyakkimaru just kind of confronts it and immediately kills it. It did manage to escape him a few times throughout this story, but this is kind of a weird climax. Also, I wonder what the implications of getting his spine back are. Does he have faster reflexes now?

Dororo questions her actions

I quite enjoyed seeing Dororo question the pair’s actions by the end of the episode. While it’s true that the villagers committed a heinous crime, it’s hard to truly say that they deserved to have everything burned to the ground. Even though Dororo wasn’t directly responsible for the fire, it’s interesting that she questions whether their arrival ultimately ruined the town.

Dororo leaves Hyakkimaru

I think that seeing Dororo leave Hyakkimaru behind in her frustration makes things interesting as well. While her run-in with Itachi clearly gives Hyakkimaru a reason to “save” her and prove that he cares for more than killing demons, I appreciate how she acts upon her own doubts.

Bungou Stray Dogs Episode 27: The real god

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Dazai chastises Chuuya for using brute force

This story doesn’t really have any brakes, does it? This week’s episode basically blazes forward from the setup in the first episode. I like how this arc is shining the spotlight on how broken Dazai while he was in the Port Mafia. He makes jokes, but he doesn’t have the goofy attitude we see in the present. I also like Chuuya’s addition into the story, since it would probably be less interesting if it was just another prequel arc solely devoted to Dazai.

Dazai is annoyed at doing more work

The episode starts off from where it left off last week with Chuuya and Dazai facing off against some armed mercenaries. I do like how the fight acts to contrast the two. Chuuya takes a more direct approach, relying on his overwhelming strong abilities to take out multiple foes. On the other hand, Dazai’s power only works against those with abilities, so he tends to avoid combat when necessary.

Dazai confronts Chuuya

However, I think it’s more than just a brains and brawn scenario. As we see later in the episode, Chuuya is perfectly capable of piecing together the evidence. It seems more like he prefers the direct approach, which is likely aided by his ability. So, he isn’t just dumb. I think that’s why he’s able to work well Dazai, and it explains why Dazai calls him lazy.

Dazai cruelly kills the soldier

The episode also reveals a more sadistically cruel side to Dazai, which I think is interesting. He goes through the effort of asking for permission to finish off the dying soldier, but he also displays a sick sense of pleasure while shooting him.

Randou is busted

Given how few characters were introduced in this arc so far, it wasn’t particularly hard to guess that Randou was the one behind the recent attacks. The whole thing with the sea was a nice touch, but I wasn’t too surprised. I’m much more curious about the fact that Chuuya claims to be Arahabaki.

Chuuya talks about Arahabaki

Again, there aren’t too many characters in this arc, so there are only so many options for this Arahabaki thing, but I’m looking forward to seeing how Dazai reacts to it. He seems a bit taken aback in this episode, but I’m guessing he had some kind of suspicion. After all, he asked the other Sheep members for more details about Arahabaki after already deducing that Randou was behind the recent attacks.

Yakusoku no Neverland Episode 7: Skirting betrayal

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Emma reassures everyone

As always, the tension continues to rise. I like how this episode plays out through what seem like tiny battles with Krone. It does end with this sense that it might be moving too quickly, but I want to believe that there’s more going on in that final scene.

Krone explains how to become a Mother

What I liked about this episode was that Krone acts as an easy antagonist, forcing a give-and-take scenario when she confronts Emma and Norman. I also get this real sense that I still shouldn’t trust anything she says, despite her willingness to help, which adds an interesting element to the information.

Emma asks why Krone wouldn't betray them

I’m a big fan of the common theme in these confrontations, which is that Emma tends to push the hardest when things get serious. That being said, I almost don’t understand this scene. Krone seems to lay out a mutually assured destruction scenario in order to gain their trust.

She can go to Isabella to betray the kids, but Ray can go to Isabella to betray Krone. However, this scenario just sets up the condition that the first person to rat the other wins. Is the idea just that the information Krone would give is worth not betraying her?

Krone figures out what the kids know about the tracking devices

While I still have trouble believing that Norman would fall for this, I do like how this scene plays out. Inferring based on inaction is a nice idea to trick the kids.

Krone talks about the outside world

I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get any details about the outside world, but I suppose it’s not the focus now. I do get the sense that this reference to “Him” is an offhand comment that I should keep track of, though. This series seems to have a lot of innocuous scenes of that kind, which is nice for rewarding attention. There’s a similar moment when Emma asks Don and Gilda for a favor when Ray and Norman aren’t present, which makes me wonder how much Emma actually knows.

Phil walks in on Krone searching Ray's bed

Phil, you are so suspicious, man. Anyway, I have a hard time buying that Krone will get kicked out so quickly. Given the nature of other cliffhangers in this series, I wouldn’t be surprised if Isabella walks in to give her good news or something.

Winter 2019 Grab Bag Week 7: Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai

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Kyrie just wants to be paid

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai Episodes 5-6

Based on the recent episodes, it seems like the series is kind of settling in on its rhythm, and I think it’s getting a lot more interesting. There doesn’t seem to be any sort of central narrative, unless you count the random politics that Julia injects. However, recent episodes have been focusing more on the girls’ pasts, which has made them more interesting. I would prefer having some more detail about their pasts, but they’ve been doing a good job of explaining individual quirks.

Reona apologizes for going nuts in the previous episode

I know the most recent episode was about Kyrie, but I wanted to take a moment and mention Reona. She was the focus in the previous episode, and I ended up really liking her story. I like the idea that she keeps herself in check as part of being the leader of the group. It would have been easy to make her insane when she’s not holding back, but the “tenacious” aspect fits well with her character.

Julia talks about the policy changes

I have a hard time keeping track of the stuff Julia says, even though she seems to be incredibly important for worldbuilding. It sounds like Isao from the previous episode is trying to deal with sky pirates by enforcing restrictions with licenses to fly, which raises some interesting questions. However, Julia typically ends up being pushed to the side, so it’s hard to take her seriously.

Kyrie chases off the mysterious plane again

Thinking back, I feel like the weirdest part about this episode is that we get an entire story of Kyrie’s childhood, but we never find out what her problem with the mystery plane is. She yells a lot at it about previous encounters, but she doesn’t seem to have much more of a connection with the pilot.

Kyrie just wants to learn more

If anything, I think Kyrie’s childhood curiosity and desire to learn is pretty relatable.

Kyrie talks to her old friend

It’s not a bad story, but what exactly was the takeaway from it? I suppose the story does a good job of showing why Kyrie loves to fly, but I’m not sure I understand the ending. She puts the rock down almost like a gravestone, and we saw her talking to it again in a previous episode. Did the old man actually die? He seemed fine when he flew off.

Winter 2019 Grab Bag Week 6: Karakuri Circus

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Masaru's grandfather refuses to believe him

Karakuri Circus Episode 16

It feels like it’s been a while since I talked about this series, but I’ve been keeping up with it on the side. I thought that this series had a weird enough story as it stood, but the recent revelations surrounding Masaru were even wilder. It feels a bit sudden, but I’m curious enough to see where it goes because it has such interesting implications.

Masaru's grandfather tries to show his memories

The idea that Masaru was intended to be overwritten with the memories of his father is a bit random, but it gives Masaru an intriguing enemy to face. He’s facing not only the people who believe that Sadayoshi succeeded but also the part of himself that firmly believes that his father failed. Part of me wants to believe that Masaru’s grandfather is correct, and Sadayoshi has secretly been in control of Masaru at key moments. It could be a surprising reveal later in the story.

Masaru learns about his grandfather's past as a doctor

That being said, I feel like the flashbacks in this series truly do come out of nowhere. Just to be clear, I think that they tend to be interesting and contribute to the overall context of the series. However, they tend to crop up in fairly tense moments, they’re really long. It’s almost like they distract from the story, and you’re forced to remind yourself what’s going on when they’re done. It could feel more natural, you know?

Angelina arrives from the sea

Timing aside, though, I thought that Angelina’s story was good. Her feelings of loneliness and confusion make sense given that shiroganes are born with such a set purpose. However, the story does its job of showing Lucille’s love for her daughter, and Angelina’s journey to find her own love. I’m totally fine with that.

Angelina reacts in shock to the word shirogane

This whole idea that Masaru’s grandfather gave the shiroganes their name is a bit random. I guess it’s fine, but it doesn’t seem to change much.

Winter 2019 Grab Bag Week 5: Manaria Friends, Shield Hero

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Grea's new haircut

Manaria Friends General Impressions (1-3)

To be fair, there’s not too much to talk about for this series. As a fan of the Manaria-related content from Granblue Fantasy, I see the show mostly as a bit of fun, watching characters I like interact with each other. The series basically follows Anne, a princess attending Manaria Academy, and her friend Grea, a dragonborn princess. As far as we’ve seen in the first three episodes, the series is largely slice of life without too much development involved. I’m actually kind of hoping that changes, though, since what I know of Grea’s story is surprisingly interesting.

Anne and Grea test out weapons

I’ve always thought that the contrast between Anne and Grea was interesting. They both share a relatively similar set of insecurities, but they have opposed personalities. Plus, there’s the whole fire and ice thing going on.

Grea tries a new outfit

Also, every episode seems to have a fairly gratuitous dressing scene for at least one of the main characters if you’re into that. Not to say I’m not into that…

Raphtalia is tired of dealing with people

Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari Episodes 4-5

It’s interesting to see how my opinions can change from manga to anime. Granted, part of it has to do with the fact that I tend to analyze anime more heavily than manga, but I’m sure a decent part of it comes from how much time has passed since I first read it. My point is that I’ve been a bit skeptical about these recent episodes, especially when it comes to general dialogue.

Raphtalia gets a new slave crest

While I thought that Raphtalia’s defense of Naofumi during the duel with Motoyasu was a great emotional moment, her speech to Motoyasu felt a bit strange. It’s true that Naofumi has demonstrated a much stronger sense of empathy than Motoyasu, but Raphtalia’s claim that Motoyasu should have a slave of his own doesn’t feel convincing to me. It completely ignores “opportunity”, right? The opportunity to buy a slave presented itself to Naofumi, after all.

The villagers start to help Naofumi

It is nice to see people warming up to Naofumi, though. It makes him come off as much less of a jerk overall, which makes him an easier character to watch.

Motoyasu tries to add new tolls to the village

I mean, I get that it’s a legitimate mistake from Motoyasu here, but it’s weird that he doesn’t back down when Naofumi tells him what the buying power of a silver is. Add in the annoyingly blatant cheating during the race, and it just seems like Motoyasu and Malty are being mean for the sake of it.

Filo takes human form

New character time? Filo definitely went through a full range of changes, but it looks like we’ve settled on one.

Houseki no Kuni Review: More than a pile of rocks

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Phos is happy

Is it fair to say that this show is the one that made me rethink the “dumb as a rock” expression? I’ll admit, I decided to watch this show largely because my parents are both geologists, but the series brought up some surprisingly interesting philosophical concepts. To set the stage, the story centers around a society of minerals in human form, called Gems, who fight against an invading species that is trying to spirit away the shiniest of them to the Moon. Yeah, I know it sounds like a weird concept, but each side actually has a surprisingly deep history.

Bort has no time for inferior beings

The Gems themselves are actually composed of microorganisms, which inhabit the minerals that make up their visible surfaces. As opposed to normal human anatomy, a Gem’s identity exists within all of these organisms, rather than being concentrated in one spot. As a result, the show does a lot to show how many of their behaviors and lifestyles are adapted as a result. For example, any significant damage to a Gem’s body will result in memory loss. It’s an interesting concept that appealed to the neuroscientist in me more than I would have expected.

Phos is taunted by a jellyfish

The main character, Phosphophyllite, is relatively younger Gem with a low hardness rating. However, Phos is one of the brighter gems, which makes them a preferred target for Lunarians. We follow Phos as they try to find a way to be helpful to the other gems, at somewhat drastic costs. As a result Phos changes pretty drastically throughout the course of the series, which is intriguing to watch. Phos is also a charming protagonist, with a goofy attitude backed by an earnest desire to contribute.

Smug Phos

As a fair warning, this series is fully 3D, in case that’s a deal breaker for you. I wasn’t generally bothered by it. The music of the series also brings plenty of tension to its battle scenes, with a bit of a traditional sound to it. I also really enjoyed the opening song, since it has a bit of a mysterious feeling to it and an off-beat musical line.

Cinnabar is worried

All in all, I thought that this series gave me a lot to think about, whether it’s the nature of memory, the perception of time, or just the cost of gaining power. Additionally, I’ve read the manga past the point where the anime ended, and I’ll end on a warning. If you thought that the anime was weird, you haven’t seen anything yet. The story gets pretty absurd.

Overall Score: 8/10