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.

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Winter 2019 Grab Bag Week 3: Shield Hero

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Raphtalia levels up

I’ve been having a lot of fun with this series, and I think it’s been doing a good job as a light novel adaptation. The show is a lot more entertaining when Raphtalia comes into play, which makes me more grateful for the double-length first episode.

Raphtalia is not happy

If I take a step back and think about the first three episodes, I suppose standard light novel pacing still applies. For example, most of Raphtalia’s character growth got covered in episode two. I kind of think it works, though, since Naofumi’s own shift in response to Raphtalia’s growth is probably much more interesting (at least for me).

Naofumi watches as the other heroes abandon the town after setting a flare

I do like how the series messes with typical video game tropes, though. We see this more when the wave starts. The other three heroes rush to the big boss, which is the rational thing to do when you’re playing a video game. In a scenario where real world consequences aren’t important, defeating the enemy and getting the reward is the priority. Naofumi, on the other hand, goes for the nearby village, as he has been spending his time immersed in the real world while the other heroes have been playing a game.

Naofumi leaps from a burning tower to attack the enemies

Story aside, I also wanted to take a second to comment on how awesome the fight in episode 3 looked. When Raphtalia and Naofumi were fighting off the zombies, the scenes felt very seamless and smooth. Most important, you can clearly track Raphtalia’s movements throughout the encounter, and her reactions to her enemies make sense. That’s the kind of thing I really like to see.

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

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

Naofumi has a strange dream about another world

Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari First Impressions (1)

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

Background stories get too complicated

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

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

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

This country is a matriarchy

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

Naofumi negotiates

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

French toast is ready

Watashi ni Tenshi ga Maiorita First Impressions (1)

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

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

Hinata is killing her sister

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

Marth’s Manga Adventures: Trapped in Fantasy World Edition

This type of story is becoming a lot more common these days, with the main character usually either trapped in a game world or suddenly transported to a fantasy world with many video game powers. Here are a few of the ones I’m reading.

Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari

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The main character in this series, Naofumi, gets summoned to a fantasy world by a spell that is intended to summon the legendary four heroes to save the world. Each hero is given a legendary weapon, with the Naofumi’s being the shield. The video game tie-in for this series is a bit less important, with some of the characters vaguely remembering a video game that is similar to the fantasy world. This series is more on the serious side when it comes to these kinds of stories, with the focus mostly being on the judgment of society and things like betrayal. I’ve found it pretty interesting so far, but the new chapters come out monthly, so there aren’t that many chapters. I guess I just find the concept of discovering the uses of the weaker class interesting.

The New Gate

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This series follows the more common video game theme. The main character, Shin, defeats the final boss of a game and finds himself transported to the future world of that game. It’s an interesting series that dives deeper into the NPC perspective of the player characters in a video game, but it’s another series that has infrequent releases. Most of the story seems to be Shin trying to find his place in this world…exploring and such. I have trouble seeing the direction of the series, though…what exactly is the end goal for Shin? Most of the chapters don’t really show a desperation for finding his home. I feel like this series mirrors Log Horizon in many ways.

Isekai de “Kuro no Iyashi Te” tte Yobarete Imasu  (In Another World, I Am Called the Black Healer)

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This series is a newer one that I’m still evaluating. The main character, Kanzaki Misuzu, is suddenly dragged into a fantasy world one day as she’s walking home. With fairly little explanation, Misuzu finds herself trapped in this world with a video game-like interface as a mage of some sort. The series is still acclimating Misuzu to the world, so it’s hard to say for sure whether it’s going to continue to be interesting, but I’m sticking with it for now. I’m mostly curious what the limitations of her new powers are, since she seems to be able to cast whatever spell she wants. They are hinted at in the latest chapter (chapter 4) as some sort of backlash when she runs out of MP. Anyway, the series takes a different spin with a female protagonist…though I have to say that casting her as a healer is still pretty stereotypical.