Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai First Impressions (1): Love is hard

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The battle for love has begun

Even though I’ve read the manga, watching this first episode was still good for some laughs. I’ve been a fan of this series for while, so it was fun to see. The basic concept is simple. The main characters, Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya, overthink romance to a level that would put me to shame, as they fight to make sure that the other is one who confesses first. It’s a fun premise, and it makes for some truly hilarious schemes.

Miyuki's grand plan to make Kaguya fall for him

I do have a small comment about the visuals in this series. For the most part, they’re fine, but I do get the sense that they’re a bit simplistic for how over-the-top the scenes are. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by some of the visuals from the previous season, but I would expect more going on in the background.

Miyuki needs to figure out a plan

The mental battles themselves are what really drew me to the series. It’s not that the two are necessarily smart, but a lot of the jokes tend to be clever and enjoyable. Still, it’s tough to talk about this series, since it’s a comedy at its core.

Kaguya thinks Miyuki is cute?

You’re going to be seeing this scene a lot. Have I mentioned how much I like this series?

Chika is sad to see Kaguya go

Chika is also great as an agent of chaos in the episode, throwing the plans of both main characters into disarray. She’s the source of a surprising amount of tension throughout the series, and it just makes it funnier.

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Egao no Daika First Impressions (1): Literally protecting that smile

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Joshua acts cool

Well, I’m happy to see that this series went for the dystopia-like setup I was hoping to see. It looks like the story revolves around two nations at war, a typical “empire vs. kingdom” setup. We’re only introduced to the kingdom in the first episode, ruled by the young princess Yuuki. Yuuki largely leads a peaceful life as the ruler, but there seems to be more to it. The first episode overall was pretty interesting, but I did have some issues with how the exposition for the world was handled.

Yuuki sticks the landing

The episode kind of gave me a bad first impression for the weirdest reasons. I know it’s nitpicking, but it was weird to see repeated angles of the same scene, such as when Yuuki is first introduced and when she stumbles on the way to the podium. I thought it was jarring and interrupted the flow of the scene, but maybe that’s just me. Also, I get that Yuuki is supposed to know little about the outside world, but I find it odd that the opening emphasizes her age.

Apparently, there's a new type of chrars

The episode also had the annoying flood of technobabble that you’d expect from a sci-fi show with a unique setting. While that itself isn’t a huge deal, I wasn’t a fan of how the information was finally relayed. We get some spiel about how chrars are some kind of special ore that is significant…for some reason. Additionally, the scene itself is two military officers talking, people who really should know this information already.

The children are happy...probably

With that out of the way, I do think that the series had its strong points. For example, I do like the mystery that is being built around Yuuki, a hidden truth that is being kept from her. When I first saw this scene, I remember thinking that the kids in the city had a dead look in their eyes for some reason. If you think about it in the context of lying to keep Yuuki happy, I think it’s more interesting, since the citizens could all be brainwashed or artificial.

Yuuki is pressed about her knowledge of the country

This scene also could have a dual meaning in the light of the overall ruse. At face value, it’s a subordinate checking the capabilities of her ruler. However, it could also be a sincere question, to make sure that the princess is still in the dark.

The mock battle happens in Tokyo

Given that the opening of the episode speaks of “distant planets”, where exactly are we? Calling out Tokyo by name suggests that this is really just Earth, but it’s hard to say. Perhaps, it’s just meant to be a metaphorical distance. Either way, I’m hoping this “simulation” was actually real, since the soldiers seemed to react so strongly when Yuuki started blowing up the environment.

Time to check out what's happening with the Empire

Based on the opening animation and the synopsis, it seems like we’re still missing half of the setup for this series. That aside, I definitely thought that the scene with the stuffed animal heavily suggested that Joshua was going to die.

Fall 2018 Grab Bag Week 3: Akanesasu Shoujo, Ken en Ken

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I couldn’t decide which of these shows to talk about today, so I’m doing both of them. They each had their own issues, so it was hard for me to decide which one I liked more than the other.

Akanesasu Shoujo Episode 3

After the strange departure that was episode 2, this week’s episode concludes that story by going back to the battles of the first episode. I think that this kind of show could be pretty interesting, but I really hope this series does something better with the parallel worlds that get visited. The way the story resolved in this episode felt mostly underwhelming to me, and I intend to explain why I say that. Also, I wonder if the excessive jargon in this series will get old.

The comedy in this episode was actually good, in my opinion. Watching the non-Nana girls get forced to sleep outside because they didn’t get to merge with their parallel selves was funny. I also had no problem with the joke that Nana refused to go through with marriage because of what the marriage would do to her name.

We also finally get an explanation from Seriousuka about what she’s doing, which was fairly interesting. I’m going to be really shocked if the King of Twilight doesn’t eventually turn out to be the collective Asukas’ missing brother. It’s way too suspicious that he disappears in multiple worlds. Please don’t make him a captive…I’d be annoyed to see that.

Hmm, Nana breaks away from her arranged marriage to enter the embrace of her friend, Asuka. Sounds like…

The fact that the groom was the Clutter was depressingly obvious. It also raised a lot of questions for me. Do the Clutters always infest the world gradually by assuming an identity? If so, what exactly was the endgame for this Clutter? Was he going to gain some kind of political influence by marrying Nana?

Uhh, this is neat and all, but how is this going to work out if they all have to use Seriousuka’s Walkman? Are they each going to buy their own cassette player?

Ken en Ken Episode 3

This series still has the weirdest pacing. The first episode seemed like it was trying to rush through multiple stories at once, but the second episode screeches to a halt to show an extended flashback. I honestly wonder if the second episode would have worked better as an opener. Anyway, I guess things are back on track with this third episode, but I’m still not too confident I get where things are going.

I don’t really get why Zhao gets lauded as a genius later in the episode after he repurposes a construct that his predecessor was working on.

I really don’t understand this scene. Is it trying to say that this food wasn’t in the backpack? If so, where did it come from? There’s no way Yin would react this way if she recognized it as part of the stuff stored in the scroll. Can Yun just make infinite food or something?

Me: Magic hands? Where did those come from?

The show: Don’t worry about it. It’s just more Mujia stuff.

Ning’s crisis of conscience is actually quite interesting. I like the idea that Yin contributes to it with her over-protective and self-sacrificial natures. Still, I find it really weird that it’s literally given away in the OP that Ning will betray Yin and get lost in her bloodlust. I know OPs have a reputation of spoiling the show, but this one is way too obvious.

Ken en Ken – Aoki Kagayaki First Impressions (1): That’s a lot to process…

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from this series, but it seems okay so far. The first episode was paced pretty awkwardly, as it shifted between multiple different stories really quickly. I can somewhat see how the stories might converge soon, but it was pretty confusing within the perspective of this single episode.

This is just my rough understanding of the story so far. Based on the introductory narration, this series is focusing on the efforts of a small resistance force led by our main characters against the Taibai Empire. The main characters, Yin and Ning, are sisters who survived the destruction of their own village by the empire.

I’m assuming that the resistance will center around the village that the girls happened to visit on their travels, where they’ll probably end up meeting the Chief Engineer who defected from the empire. Yin seems to have awakened some kind of ancient power to help her fight, but there’s not much to gather about that yet.

I felt like this episode got kicked off before it had a chance to establish itself. The fact that Yin comes across some hidden power is pretty standard, and I have no issue with that. But she didn’t even seem like she should be in any danger, and she’s suddenly attacked. She drops into a hidden chamber, and everything just starts happening around her until she’s saved. So far, there’s just no context, I guess.

From the ending of the episode, I can gather that these are future allies, but I still think that too many things are being set up in this one episode.

This line might be more effective if we had a sense of what that meant. If Yun isn’t a construct, does that mean constructs don’t typically act independently?

Wait, wasn’t Yun wielding daggers?

I’m not going to lie. This reminds me of Repede from Tales of Vesperia and I love it.

I really wasn’t expecting Zhao to get upgraded to Chief Engineer to replace the missing one. I’m curious whether it has something to do with the fact that the previous Chief Engineer showed him the blueprints for Zhengtian. I wonder he’ll have memorized a portion of those blueprints or something, making him more useful. Still, shouldn’t he be like an apprentice engineer first?

That being said, I do like the idea of pitting Zhao against his childhood friends whom he thinks are dead. It should make the main conflict more interesting. Also, the fact that Zhao befriended the Empress makes me hope that there’s more to the empire itself. So far, they just seem like the generic bad guys.

Angolmois – Genkou Kassenki Final Episode (12): Death awaits

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While bittersweet endings always have a sense of realism behind them, I couldn’t help feeling that this ending wasn’t too satisfying. It kind of felt like there were too many characters to go through and kill, so most of the deaths just felt lackluster. Amushi and Onitakemaru are arguably two of the most developed exiles in the series besides Jinzaburou, and their deaths really don’t reflect that fact. And what exactly was going on with that magic shark?

I really just get the feeling that Amushi deserves better than his death here. It just feels like another one in the sea of deaths, and I honestly would have preferred if he survived (since he’s a child).

I think having Kano pretend to kill Teruhi in order to save her makes sense. It does reek of shock value, but I can see the argument that Teruhi would have refused any plan to save only herself.

I would have liked to see more of Jinzaburou’s past, but this flashback seemed okay. It felt appropriate to the situation, and helps to illustrate Jinzaburou’s feelings of regret.

I think the fact that vengeance kid is the first survivor Jinzaburou meets is great. It shows that the kid’s thirst for revenge is greater than the Mongols, and I think it works.

Either Onitakemaru is meant to show up “later” or he dies off-screen. Either way, I’m pretty annoyed with how he’s handled.

The fights in this final episode are actually…fine. They’re not quite at the level of the ones in the first episode, but they feel a lot more natural than what we’ve seen in recent episodes.

I guess these soldiers are just really afraid of Jinzaburou, but I still don’t think fear justifies letting him walk through them without resistance.

Final Score: 7/10 Promising in the beginning, but the large cast isn’t handled too well and the ending feels really rushed.

Angolmois – Genkou Kassenki Episode 11: That kinda fell apart

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Okay, this week’s episode was much more of a bloodbath than I expected. I understand that we’re near the end, but the episode itself really felt like it was trying to cram in as many deaths as possible. As a result, the pacing of the episode ended up feeling weird, and many of the characters seemed to shafted as a result.

When I saw the Magistrate constantly sending people away from the south gate, I was pretty sure he was intentionally trying to sacrifice himself. I saw this scene and thought that he was clearly trying to save Jinzaburou. It would have been nice to see more of that, but he doesn’t really get the time.

In the end, his death wasn’t the worst it could be, but it gets a bit lost in the chaos. Tatsu’s death right before his kind of messes with things, since she didn’t have any impact as a character overall.

I really wish I could believe Onitakemaru’s change of heart. Based on what we saw in the previous episode, I can only conclude that he returned to help because he had no chance of making it past the Mongol reinforcements. That reason itself isn’t a bad thing if he proves himself more after he comes back, but we don’t really get anything more.

While this is clearly a death flag, I find it interesting that we don’t actually see Onitakemaru die in this episode. It feels like an anomaly in an episode where everyone else is dying, so I’m inclined to believe that Onitakemaru betrays everyone. I’ve suspected that he was a traitor from the beginning, so maybe I’m just biased.

Seriously, who is this guy and why is he getting a backstory now?

I guess an episode with so much death would need to end by crushing all hope. Still, everyone knows that an anime character who falls into water is immune to death.

Angolmois – Genkou Kassenki Episode 10: Looking pretty rough

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I feel like I’m having a lot of trouble following the character motivations in this series, but the episode was enjoyable overall. Some characters are quite clear, like the lovestruck Amushi, but I can’t figure out the Magistrate at all. Also, the episode ends on a bit of a weird clffhanger, but I guess things are about to go way south.

I’m not sure what to make of Shiraishi. He just kind of…ended. His final words about doing things for the sake of clan also feel like a hollow way to explain himself.

Introducing this kid again is a little weird, but I have to admit that it’s a funny way to advance Teruhi’s love side story.

The hidden yandere has appeared!

This is a fairly small scene, but I still think the idea of using animal behavior to read the enemy is pretty interesting.

I’m not sure what to make of the Magistrate in these scenes. It seems like he’s simply lying to his troops about the omens to keep their morale high, but I’m having the hardest time figuring out whether he truly believes what he’s saying or not.

Onitakemaru’s motivations feel a lot clearer now, and they seem reasonable. I also don’t really mind that the incoming Mongol forces make him turn back around. I just don’t like the way the cliffhanger in this episode is handled.

Before the credits roll, everything is great. Everyone’s hopes go up as they spot the incoming ships, but Onitakemaru’s grim expression makes it clear that the ships aren’t their salvation. Beating the revelation in after the credits just feels excessive.

Angolmois – Genkou Kassenki Episode 9: Defend the gates

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I thought this week’s episode handle the warring parts pretty well. If anything, I’m still not sure I can fully buy into the whole traitor thing, but it seems to be going somewhere that could be cool. I respect the show for making the two sides of the fight seem reasonable in comparison to each other. The Mongols are the invaders and the bad guys, but they’re not painted as “evil”.

Honestly, Jinzaburou’s strategies might be my favorite parts of this series. They always seem reasonable, effective, and simple. They don’t come off as grand schemes that shock you with their creativity as you might expect to see in a war series.

Weekly complaint about the still screenshots that keep getting used for the larger battles. Come on, I want to see the fighting at least a little bit.

Well, at least you get to see Shiraishi struggling with his decision a bit.

I honestly don’t know why you wouldn’t just immediately suspect Shiraishi with what you said last week. He specifically offered to go to the west wall.

I’m not sure how to feel about this part of the episode. The fact that the old dude is already waiting at the citadel to burn it down suggests that they just always have this contingency in case the citadel gets attacked. It doesn’t suggest any sort of forethought for this specific battle. I might be reading too much into it, though.

I probably should have picked up on this earlier, but I get the sense that this Mongol general is meant to be a contrast to Jinzaburou, who has also been described as someone unwilling to lose soldiers easily. I guess he’s supposed to be a slightly more depraved version of Jinzaburou or something?

Again, I’m not too sure what to make of Shiraishi’s betrayal. It seems largely squandered, but this development at the end might be okay depending on where it goes. You could argue that someone as devoted as Shiraishi would be more willing to commit to the betrayal once he’s started, so this behavior makes a lot more sense.

Angolmois – Genkou Kassenki Episode 8: Heavy betrayals

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I admit I’m still a little confused after this episode, but there was a lot that I liked about it. I thought the whole traitor business was handled in an interesting way, especially with how the stories were told. I just don’t know if I fully buy Shiraishi as the traitor.

Well, I think this counts as being partially correct about the Emperor’s orders being a lie. Jinzaburou’s deductions are pretty cool here.

The small sparring match felt like a bit of a waste of time, but it was pretty entertaining to watch. I guess it shows more of Jinzaburou’s character, but it doesn’t feel too new.

As crappy as Saburou was as a person, I thought he was an interesting character. I like the way the flashbacks show his dishonesty while he’s telling his lies. It could have just as easily been Shiraishi calling him out for his lies, and this way was much more realistic and subtle.

I’m having the hardest time buying that Shiraishi would betray everyone. I guess it’s not insane for him to lose hope in the cause, but he seemed like a pretty stable guy so far. Maybe Saburou’s rant was meant to change his opinion, but I still don’t get a sense for why it’s supposed to be convincing. Still, I’m curious to see how this plays out later. He seems to have gotten away with it.

Also, I totally thought the series was going somewhere different when Shiraishi killed the diver lady. I thought he was going to reveal that she was also secretly a traitor like Saburou. That would have been cool.

Reinforcements are a lie.

This scene’s a little weird because it suggests that Saburou wouldn’t have been trusted if he had come forward as the traitor, so the story almost demanded that Shiraishi be the one here. Sure, the Mongols would have recognized Saburou as the one who received the silver badge, but I still think it’s inconsistent with the line about a “true traitor”.

Aww, I really wanted him to call Shiraishi out. This gets totally swept under the rug.

Angolmois – Genkou Kassenki Episode 7: Advanced underwater tactics

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This week’s episode seemed like a bit of a break from the war. Sure, it had a skirmish with the Mongols, but it didn’t seem like much. It seemed more like the episode was setting up some kind of castle siege in the near future, which sounds like it could be fun. I’d like to say that the episode is meant to develop the history surrounding the island, but the information we got seemed mostly surface level.

The emperor’s statement is actually pretty interesting. If you really think about it, that’s what the main characters have really been doing. There haven’t been many huge wins in the campaign so far. Instead, Jinzaburou’s fights tends to be about securing an advantage, and then retreating before incurring any losses.

The animation in this episode felt pretty lackluster. The arrows in this scene don’t even land anywhere or look real. It’s kind of sad given how much I praised the first episode.

This sounds like what you say right before you betray someone.

The wall race was a weird tone shift, but I appreciate that it gets used later as vital information about the castle’s structure.

Oh boy, we have another traitor.

The fact that most people seemed to praise the castle as a defensive structure while Jinzaburou remains skeptical seems like a red flag. I mean, I don’t have a problem with watching a castle siege, because I think it will be cool. However, this whole “no one listens to the main character when he’s right thing” is a bit of a bummer.