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.

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.

Egao no Daika Final Episode (12): Pushing the giant reset button

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The soldiers figure out that Yuki is here

I think the best I can say about this ending is that it pretty much hit all of the points I expected to resolve the plot. As a result, I’d say it wasn’t anything special, effectively hitting the baseline. As a whole, I think this series had issues with justifying a lot of its developments, which made many of those developments seem rushed as a result. The ending isn’t too much different in that regard.

Stella finds Layla turning on the machine

As I mentioned last week, I was somewhat hoping Layla would survive in the end. I think she would have bridged that gap between Yuki and Stella in many ways. In the end, her death seemed a bit sad, since Stella never ended up finding out who she really was. It was almost like Layla was killed just because it’s the style the show had adopted, not for any particular character reason.

Stella finally faces off against Yuki

The argument that Yuki and Stella have in the end wasn’t too bad, but I still have trouble agreeing with Yuki despite the fact that she ultimately “wins”. It’s not that I have a problem with her optimism, since I generally agree that people are inherently good as well.

Stella chooses to help Yuki

It’s just that she ultimately admits that she’s gambling on her world-altering solution. Heck, the fact that the chrars drain the nanomachines keeping the world habitable never even comes up, even though it’s a perfectly rational justification. On the opposite side, I guess I never got the sense that Stella was truly “convinced” by Yuki.

The crops recover after the destruction of the chrars

Along those same lines, I think that the ending ends up working out too well. Yuki acknowledges that people will be upset at the loss of the chrars, but things will ultimately be better because people won’t die. And after taking her gambling, that…just happens. For a show that tried to emphasize the gritty nature of war, it’s a strange shift. Yet, the crops rebound without an issue.

Yuki and Stella meet up

As I said, this could have been worse. I think a lot of my opinion is colored by a general sense of disappointment. I would have liked to see a relationship build between Yuki and Stella. Additionally, much of the Grandiga side seemed ultimately pointless. We see the emperor appear in person for the first time in the final episode, and what did he even do?

Final Score: 6/10 I respect how the show played with perspectives in order to tell the story of two sides, but it seemed to have trouble making its plot developments feel earned.

Egao no Daika Episode 11: Hard choices

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Wishing for a funeral for their allies

It’s weird seeing both perspectives in the same episode, but I suppose we’re almost at the end. It’s about time Stella and Yuuki met, so I’m definitely curious to see how it turns out. This episode does have me a bit worried about how the ending will go, since Yuuki has to convince Stella to help her in the final episode of the series. I’m curious how that will be split with the actual kill switch that Yuuki is trying to press. I’m mostly curious about the aftermath, so I guess I’m hoping for a bit of an epilogue as well.

Huey goes on a rampage

I do like the contrast between Huey and Stella, even if Huey comes off more as a jerk. He’s effectively there to tell Stella that words aren’t enough, as he uses his actions to reveal his true intentions. It’s easy for Stella to say that she won’t allow anyone else to die, but it only matters if she can actually do what’s needed.

Yuuki warns the Empire about her new weapon

I also liked seeing this broadcast from the Grandiga side. At this point, we still don’t fully know how much Harold’s death has affected Yuuki’s behavior, but we as the audience have a strong sense of what type of person she is. However, we see this scene from the perspective of Grandiga, who are less capable assessing whether her warning is in line with her character.

Yuuki hatches her true plan

As a result, Yuuki’s true plan isn’t as much of a surprise. That being said, I do appreciate that she’s willing to deceive the other officers in order to make her plan work. She’s really come a long way.

Yuuki plans to stop all chrars

Given the developments in the previous couple of episodes, I’m not too surprised that this is how the series will end. Honestly, I think this trope of hitting the hard reset button is a bit overplayed in media, so I’m curious to see how the series will implement the idea. So far, it seems a bit outlandish, but I guess I’ll wait and see since I liked the terraforming nanomachines concept. Maybe there’s a good reason why the Verde Kingdom thought they could reasonably eliminate all chrars.

Layla talks about her motivations

I guess this is just a random title reference. I sincerely don’t wish for Layla to die in the final episode, since I think we’ve had enough major character deaths for now. But she’s seriously asking for it…

Lily spots Yuuki

You could have at least tinted your windows…come on.

Egao no Daika Episode 10: On the other side

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Looking out over the bleak battlefield

While it’s a departure from previous episodes, I’m glad that this episode is effectively showing the events of the last episode from Stella’s perspective. I think it helped to redeem the previous episode a bit. I do think that it contributes to a bit of a confusing timeline overall, but I like how it was used. I’m still hoping that Stella and Yuuki meet, but it’s looking a bit unlikely at this point. I’m curious to see how things end.

Lily complains to a child

Part of the annoying thing about this episode is how much Lily has been asking to die. Given how many other squad members have fallen up to this point, I’d actually be a bit disappointed if she does end up dying in the end too. Her plot armor has gone on too long.

Stella struggles to survive

It’s nice to see a bit more from Stella’s past. It’s pretty clear that she’s had it rough.

Stella believes she's not putting up a front

I enjoyed this conversation between Owens and Stella. It’s not just Owens that sees the emotions Stella has repressed. We’ve seen the clear indication ourselves, so we can easily agree with Owens when he points out that he went from believing Stella had no emotions to realizing that she was putting up a front.

Harold faces off against Owens and Stella

Honestly, I was ready to point out last week that Owens and Harold very clearly shoot at each other, and we only see Harold die. Logically, it made no sense for Harold to miss at that range. I’m glad that I didn’t, though, since I liked the way this scene was presented. In the previous episode, no one on the Soleil side cares about the aftermath of the fight, so we as the audience aren’t shown the death of Owens. In reality, both sides are devastated by the incident, but we only see each side separately (as they would).

Owens sacrifices himself for Stella

There’s another smaller scene that similarly demonstrates a cool use of perspective in this episode. When Harold’s unit appears, the characters on the Grandiga side all recognize him from the previous fight that crippled Pierce. However, remember that we saw that fight from the Soleil side. As a result, the episode is able to use a flashback that’s completely new to the audience. I think it’s a great use of the flashback.

The squad questions the funeral for Harold

Also, I like the little fake-out at the end of the episode, where it’s revealed that the Empire is holding a huge funeral for Harold, an enemy combatant. While the main characters are mourning their leader, he ends up completely ignored by his own superiors. Instead, they’re recognizing his killer.

Egao no Daika Episode 9: The source of chrars

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Yuuki starts to question herself

It looks like we’re back in Soleil for the second week in a row. I suppose we needed to deal with the aftermath of the chrars reveal before switching again. For the most part, I liked the idea behind the chrars as they were explained in this episode, but I thought that the character focus on Harold in the episode was weak. He almost seems like a pawn of the story to force Yuuki down a path of over-correction. Anyway, the episode ends with Harold fighting a unit he recognizes, likely Owens or Stella, so I assume we’ll be back on Grandiga’s side next week to see the aftermath.

Harold orders the annihilation of the imperial units

I don’t mind the conflicting ideals of Harold and Yuuki, but I’m curious what will happen with the void that’s left after this episode. I did like seeing this portrayal here, in which Harold forces the other officers to kill so indiscriminately that they’re visibly disturbed by it. It shows just how far he’s willing to go, and sets him up further as Yuuki’s polar opposite.

No one really cares about the chrars data

Well, the reaction of the “elite” to the information about the new chrars isn’t too surprising. I would have liked for them to at least make their case, even if it’s as simple as saying they have to keep using the chrars because they’re at war. Or they could make an outright claim that Verde is nuts or something. It makes them feel overly dismissive to the point of being unrealistic.

Layla admits her past to Yuuki

The fact that Layla tells Yuuki everything about her past makes me wonder if she’s headed toward her own death.

Layla discovers the nanomachines

As I mentioned before, I quite like the nanomachine reveal in this episode. The idea that the chrars are causing environmental damage is a pretty clear reference to the current climate change debate, which is nothing new. However, I like how grounded the explanation is, making it believable for sci-fi. In reality, the chrars are draining nanomachines that keep the world terraformed. That’s a cool idea.

Yuuki wonders how to end the war

Yuuki’s statement here makes me wonder if she believes that war wouldn’t be as much of a problem if we didn’t have technology. It’s not an uncommon sentiment, but it’s one I disagree with.

Harold faces the enemy alone

In the end, I felt like Harold’s death was perhaps too quick. I never ended up feeling anything for him, and I never felt like I had a good understanding of what motivated him. Maybe he’s just a weak character overall, but it’s frustrating to see. It seems like the show wanted to make his death mean something, but I guess I didn’t get it.

Egao no Daika Episode 8: All about the chrars

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Yuuki commands the troops

This week’s episode brings another strange shift in the story, introducing a third party into the conflict. This whole business with the introduction of Verde seems to move the focus back on the chrars, which lowers the significance of the overall war in my eyes. I’m curious to see how it goes, but it’s a jarring change. That aside, Yuuki’s shift as a military leader is pretty clear in this episode, which is nice to see. Though, I kind of want to see her actually succeed for once.

Yuuki's military strategy evolves

I do wonder how much this series will struggle to allow Yuuki to keep her idealism. Her reasoning makes sense given her goal, but the series seems to beat into our heads the idea that her ideology is holding her back. Still, it’s progress…

Yuuki wonders why Verde dislike chrars

I’m not sure how I feel about this move back to the chrars. On the one hand, it makes sense given how much this series loves to mention the “new chrars”, but it’s an odd shift. And is it just the new chrars that cause a problem or is there some fundamental issue with using chrars in general? Given how these things normally go, I’d assume there’s some world-depleting drawback involved. There’s an earlier scene in this episode where Yuuki mentions that the crops in Soleil haven’t been doing well recently, which leads me to that suspicion.

Fleet talks with the emperor

The emperor seems to be getting pushed as a polar opposite for Yuuki. In this conversation, he seems to be willing to sacrifice his own people to test the new chrars in combat as needed. I wonder how the introduction of Verde will change things, since I find it hard to believe that Grandiga and Soleil will unite against a common enemy. Verde doesn’t even seem strong enough to do that.

Izana sends the data to Yuuki

Why was this data hidden in the first place? I’m starting to wonder now if the previous king was in a similar situation as his daughter, which would suggest that his advisers hid information from Verde from him. Also, I could see this development as potentially giving an interesting spin to Joshua’s death. What if he died from exposure to the new chrars while injured? Just a thought.

Izana chooses a name for his child

It’s kind of sad to see Izana go, but I guess it beats watching him sit around as a prisoner all of the time. When I saw him look at the boat before entering the palace, I was expecting him to use it to escape after sending the data to Yuuki. But in hindsight, I suppose the real idea was that he was debating priorities. He could use the boat to get to his family, or he could continue with his mission to find out what Verde actually knew about the chrars.

Egao no Daika Episode 7: The danger of local delicacies

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Izana tries to negotiate peace

I have to hand it to this show. It sure knows how to hit someone in the gut. Honestly, I completely bought into the lighter tone of this episode, but the show rather effectively ripped it away. I can’t say I say that coming. That being said, I still have issues with some of the other things that come up in this episode. This series seems to heavily take advantage of mystery without delivering on it, and it truly bugs me. I would be happy if it’s playing at some grander mystery, but that remains to be seen.

Stella looks over the aftermath

This scene did give me some hope that Stella was starting to question her role in the Empire. I still like the idea of having her join the resistance, but later events in the episode make me less sure.

The emperor appears

So…does this mean we have a face to label as the antagonist in this series? This appearance seems a bit random.

The crew wonder about Stella's past

This episode seemed to build a bit more on the mystery surrounding Stella’s origins, but it felt weak to me. We’ve already gotten pretty clear evidence that she’s Layla’s missing daughter, but this episode seemed to push some kind of history with the palace. Layla didn’t have any relationship with the royal family before the accident in Leash, right?

Owens offers to let Pierce work at his orphanage.

This moment is probably my least favorite moment in the episode. After spending multiple episodes building up questions around Owens and his past, he just flat-out tells everyone that he runs an orphanage. It seems like such a mundane reveal after all of the hype. I felt similarly about Joshua’s death, which is why I said earlier that I think the mysteries in this series never really pay off.

Stella meets her foster parents

This happens once again with Stella’s past. It’s true that her past is sad to watch. She’s the typical case of the foster child replaced by a biological child, but it seems like a weak reveal for why she smiles all of the time. To be fair, though, I think that this story is used to great effect in this episode. It simultaneously reveals the self-imposed nature of Stella’s fake smiles and ends with a tragedy that she can’t force herself to smile at.

Stella finds the flowers in the royal garden

I question the point of this scene. I was under the impression that Yuuki cared for the flowers because of Joshua, and Stella seems to be embellishing it. It could be a play at humanizing Yuuki in Stella’s eyes for the future, but I’m not sure.

The main characters learn about Pierce's death

Pierce’s death worked for the most part, but it also seems to push Stella further away from the resistance forces. That being said, it’s not really clear who attacked the transport, so it’s always possible that the Empire was actually behind it. That explanation fits better with my impression of the overall direction for the story, but seems a bit convoluted.

Egao no Daika Episode 6: Facing defeat

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Yuni tries to get back into action despite her injuries

It’s a shame that this series can be so hard to watch, since it has made some impressive strides in recent episodes. With the confirmation that Yuni was in the theurgear from the previous episode, it truly feels like the series is trying hard to merge its perspectives without distorting the timeline. There are no extraneous flashbacks from each side to give a more complete story. Instead, it feels like we’re always only getting pieces of it from different perspectives, which is surprisingly interesting. Additionally, this episode shows a ton of character development for Yuuki, and I think that’s promising.

Yuuki wonders if she can give herself up to the Empire

Yuuki’s attempt to give herself up is a surprisingly illuminating attempt. At the beginning of the episode, she’s trying to find any way to stop the war, so she brings it up as a possibility only to have it shot down by her subordinates. At the end of the episode, she continues to pursue the idea, but her behavior has changed. She’s no longer asking for permission. She has made the decision herself (even if her subordinates end up defying her).

Izana tries to convince his wife to evacuate

Yeesh, this episode was foreshadowing Izana’s sacrifice pretty hard, wasn’t it? Part of me feel like I should be incredibly suspicious about how reluctant this series is to confirm character deaths. Izana seems to accept his own death in the end, but it’s never explicitly stated and his wife is shown looking mostly okay.

Harold visits Joshua's grave

I guess this counts as finally confirming Joshua’s death. At this point, I’m still suspicious, though. If it were so simple, why have so many episodes past without definitely saying it?

Harold remembers his dead love

Also, I appreciate that Harold’s motivations are explored a bit more, but I didn’t fully understand his suicide mission. If he truly had this vendetta against Grandiga, why did he never go into battle in the earlier engagements?

Stella tries to protect her ally

After the reveal at the beginning of the episode, I was wondering if we might get a chance to see the reverse, a view of Stella’s unit from Soleil’s perspective. Since the Grandiga forces are so uniform, it’s difficult to spot any distinct soldiers within them. I was happy to see that the series didn’t waste any time making it happen, though.

Yuuki gives orders to the troops

It’s nice to see Yuuki taking charge in the battle. Also, she seems to have a knack for using terrain against her enemies.

Yuuki is betrayed by her officers

I feel really bad for Yuuki at the end. She earnestly tries to help, but the actions of her officers make her look like a deserter. I’m curious to see how this plays out, though. Grandiga’s ruling party has mostly come off as tyrannical so far. So, it might be interesting to see Yuuki lead a resistance group against them. It would also give Stella and her allies a reason to join Yuuki, since they might start having doubts about their orders.

Egao no Daika Episode 5: Hidden beneath the smile

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Meals on the battlefield are troublesome

We’re back to the Grandiga again this week. This week’s episode is pretty similar to last week’s episode that it goes a bit into the past of a side character to show something about one of the two main characters. For me, Lily’s story was surprising not because of its actual content but rather because it didn’t get her killed. She still seems to be asking for it, but it was nice to see another side of Stella.

Huey meets up with some old friends

Speaking of characters that were asking to die, the sudden appearance of these soldiers was a fairly clear indicator of their eventual fate. I’m curious to see whether it triggers some background for Huey later on, but we’ll see.

Owens goes over the plan

I think part of why I tend to have trouble with this series is the tactical dialogue. Don’t get me wrong. I think those conversations add a lot, but I’m not having an easy time paying attention during them.

Owens is used to taking care of kids

I’m also not sure if I like how much the series is pushing this “mystery” behind Owens. The hints are severely lacking in subtlety, so I’m wondering if the payoff is supposed to be a exceptionally shocking or something. Maybe he used to watch over some kids being used in lab experiments or something. Otherwise, I don’t see why it’s a big deal if he takes care of some orphans.

A suspicious unit attacks the Grandiga units

This scene made me wonder if one of the Vanquish twins was actually piloting this theurgear. It’s suspicious that the unit gets so much focus and survives in the end. If so, I think it’s actually kind of cool. Given that we don’t know who’s who yet, I like the idea that the unit has plot armor even if we don’t exactly know it.

Stella smiles for real?

I’m actually surprised that Stella had this smile in her. I was totally expecting her to maintain her stoic routine with everyone. That being said, I do think that this scene is helping to set up a tragic death for Lily, especially if Yuuki has truly lost Joshua.