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Chainsaw Man review

Posted : 5 months, 2 weeks ago on 12 August 2021 03:11 (A review of Chainsaw Man)

I don’t get what’s so great about this manga, I kept seeing how praised it was and how revolutionary it felt to a lot of people, but after finishing the first part I can only think that only newer people would say that. After you have consumed a lot of stuff this one just isn’t special. I personally think that Fire Punch was better, more intriguing and had more substance.

That’s the thing, unlike that manga, Chainsaw man doesn’t have substance, it’s all about the mindless action and being honest, straightforward, unpretentious and entertaining about it, which I can respect but I still won’t give it a positive rating just for that, I need something else for that.

After reading his two major works I can say that I don’t like Fujimoto’s works, but from I what I read about him in the extra chapters, with his ideas about consuming stuff, working on his own projects, trying to incorporate more natural dialogues to his mangas instead of what you’d usually read or listen in another works, I came to like him as an author. He basically likes mostly action and horror, and that’s what he tries to do, in a fun way, with no much more intentions than that. Again, I respect the honesty.

Anyways I was thinking about listing the positives and what people liked about it first then complain about the work later, while bringing superior examples.

THE ARTWORK

First things first, compared to Fire Punch, the overall artwork is a lot better, I was even surprised because Fire Punch ended in the same year Chainsaw man began. I guess the drawings there were a lot more rough because of the far more serious story, while here the intention is to make everything much more spectacular, since it’s a heavy action manga about cool shit and empowerment fantasy. Even so I have to say that the artwork is still not amazing, the character designs feel like rehashes of Fujimoto’s previous works with minor diferences, and outside the demons none of them are impressive. The demons are clearly inspired by Hellboy, I like that, but eventually most of them have similar heads and faces and the already little variety and refreshing factor vanishes completely. The artwork also lacks details in the brief cooldown moments and everything looks a lot worse, and there’s a noticeable lack of backgrounds during those moments.

As I was reading the manga, the extra chapters were included, with Fujimoto’s interviews and recommendations, as well as comparisons between the released chapters and the far superior volumes versions, where all that stuff was fixed, so yeah, we can say that all the minuses in the artwork are because of the weekly schedule, and at least Fujimoto bothered to improve on that with more time.

THE STYLE AND TONE

As I said Chainsaw man is just mindless action and doesn’t try to be more than that. Sure, by the end the main villain has a little monologue but it was more about their objectives, they weren’t trying to shove some themes down your throat at the last minute. I have read many saying this thing is mindless trash that doesn’t make any sense but why is that a bad thing? I mean, yes, it is indeed schlock and doesn’t make sense, demons appear around the world, kill lots of people on a daily basis and the world keeps being the same and people go on living their lives as if it was nothing the next day, but it’s a series about a horny immortal guy that turns into a walking chainsaw wasting enemies, chopping them to pieces, occasionaly eating them and then go on to try and get kisses and feels some boobs from his coworkers, why would I expect common sense from something like that? It’s unapologetic action and it’s honest about it, it’s not as if it’s trying to be serious, dramatic or inspirational. One of the more memorable moments in it is literally about referencing Sharknado for three chapters, for God’s sake.

THE ACTION

Ok so for a series like this is has to be good right? Well, it is, if you don’t mind seeing lots of innocent people dying coming off as cool, having an immortal main character which kills the tension considerably, and simple and repetitive battle choreographies for half the duration. It’s only after 40 or 50 chapters where the fights become longer, require more people, stronger enemies appear and forces the main characters to improve on what they do, also the already violent fights become far more gory by then, if you like that. They still lack tension considerably and have simple battle coreographies, but there’s an improvement as the manga goes on. Also as the manga reaches its end, Fujimoto does this things of following every action in a sequence, dedicating even whole chapters with no dialogue to that, like in One Punch Man, for example. With Mappa doing the anime adaptation I’m sure they will be crazier and more impressive there, too bad I won’t watch it since I didn’t like the manga and the only thing I care about in the adaptation is how are they going to show the 1500 victims of the gun demon.

THE PACING

Well, it’s fast, I’ll give it that, something is always happening all the time to keep the reader engaged, and for a fighting shounen the length is fairly short, so no one can feel that it drags on unnecessarily. Even the training arcs are short and have something else happening at the same time. The problem with it is that the manga is so simple and the way the events happen are so repetitive, it becomes tiresome after a while. I mean come on, the whole manga is one long mission arc. Remember when you are watching or reading a fighting shounen and in the first arc there’s this one mission about protecting someone or fighting a minor enemy later revealed to be a minion for the big bad? Chainsaw man is entirely that, it’s all about killing random demons or hunters that go after Denji until the manga reaches the final showdown, which is really not that different. If you don’t mind that, you’ll have a blast with it, me? I read the whole thing in three days because it’s an easy read and because I wanted to get over it.

THE DIALOGUES AND THE WAY THE CHARACTERS REACT

Are they as natural as people say and as the author intended? Surprisingly yes, the characters talk about irrelevant stuff in goofy ways during the relaxing moments, what they like to eat, how much they want to get a boyfriend or girlfriend, stuff like that. Nobody drops a simple, naive, childish, pretentious monologue about ethics or politics or anything like that (looking at you Naruto). It’s all about leaving the moment and appreciating the minor things in life. The problem is that it’s also very simple and childish, filled with juvenile humor. Also, unlike other fighting shounen, the characters don’t react in overly dramatic ways when hundreds of nobodies die, they don’t give a shit, it’s part of the job and it can happen to anyone at any moment, except for the main character because there’s no way he can die. But they also come off as very cold because of that, not overreacting over victims is one thing, being completely unaffected about it makes them look like assholes.

THE SUBVERSIONS

What about the moments when it subverts expectations? There can be a character talking about doing something specific in the future and die almost immediately afterwards, there can be bad guys that seem to be badass and about to do something impressive, and they are killed with extreme ease, occasionaly in absurd and over the top ways, by accident, which would come off as hilarious for some. And it doesn’t happen in the exact same way everytime to become a formula while trying to avoid a formula, nor that often so you see it coming. Also by the end it does becomes more serious and kills important characters in rather unexpected and dramatic ways, with more build up so the deaths don’t come off as random. The famous snowball fight is one of the more memorable moments in the whole manga because of it, it’s really well done, making you understand what it means for the characters and giving you an idea of what’s really happening. At the same time however, I can barely see the actual fight before the outcome, so yeah, I’m no big fan of it either.

THE LACK OF ROMANCE

For a manga about a dumb fuck in his teens that only thinks about food and sex, there are moments when he falls easily for almost every girl he encounters, yet it doesn’t come off as romantic really, because, funnily, most of the women he ecounters want him dead, as if Fujimoto was fully on incel mode when writing it. Despite all that, he actually managed to avoid the generic outcome of the main guy and the main girl in the same team falling for each other, and keeps them as frenemies throughout the whole thing, which is undoubtedly good and refreshing. Even then, Denji and Power both made the other a better person by the end, so I wouldn’t have a problem if they ended up as a couple, is one of those very rare cases where two characters have great chemistry, are not built as a couple, and yet they compliment each other well enough that it would have made sense and be satisfactory if that were to happen.


THE MAIN VILLAIN AND THE TWIST (WITHOUT SPOILERS)

The best part of the manga actually, it’s well done, it’s not really unexpected and surprising, since the main villain remains a mystery throughout the whole manga, and their behavior serves as a subtle hint throughout it, but it’s built upon nicely, with lots of characters coming after them making you think they are the bad guys, onyl to reveal that the main antagonist was there the whole time fooling everyone and manipulating the protagonist, Aizen and that persona 4 guy would be proud.

And now I’m done with the positives, moving on with my complains and justifications for my low rating, which has to do mostly with me having consumed better titles, starting off with the protagonist himself.

WEAK MAIN CHARACTERS BECAUSE OF WAY TOO OBVIOUS EMPOWERMENT FANTASY

So Denji is compelling at the beginning, they give him a basic but serviceable backdrop story and enough justifaction for how dumb, simple minded and much of a simp he is. The problem is that this is all he has, he doesn’t evolve beyond that, and he can become tiresome repeting the same dialogues about the same things everytime. There are moments when the manga hints that he’s feeling the pressure of what he’s doing, ponders about his identity and is shocked because of the death of other important characters, but they are short and are forgotten in a hurry because the next fight is around the corner. More of his backdrop is revealed later on, but by that point it was too late to flesh out the protagonist, that is something you have to do at the early stages to make me care about his travel, not when we are near his destination. Also, since at some point he becomes a global threat of sorts, the manga could’ve’d some consequences for a chance and make him change, but nah, this is all about empowerment fantasy, he even ends up having fangirls around the planet by the end. Despite not having the best execution, Agni in Fire Punch was all about anti empowerment fantasy and having to deal with the consequences of his actions, Denji is unapologetically an empowerment fantasy aimed at his demographic, gaining the ultimate power, becoming immortal, not giving a crap about what he does and how he does it, not facing the consequences of his actions, and becoming a desired chad at the end. Agni was far more compelling when you have passed certain age.

The other main characters have a bit of a backdrop themselves, but those are just way too simple to care about them and makes the early chapters to come off as boring and tedious, they grow to become closer friends by the end, I’ll give them that, but that’s about it. It’s when the authour realized that he can’t make a compelling character and chose to focus more on the scale of the action and the absurd events that the manga became more enjoyable.

COMPLETELY WASTED SECONDARY CHARACTERS

As for the rest of the cast, who gives a shit? The antagonists are not fleshed out in the least, the main villain remains mysterious for most of the duration and once their objective is revealed, the outcome coud have been whatever, they never cared about it. There are lots of secondary characters and they don’t matter because they are just cannon fodder that appears for a few volumes and die, or remain absent until the end, where they die, or just…don’t do anything.

AWFUL FINALE

Another issue is the outcome, which was extremely underwhelming, it has the protagonist deliberately holding back, lots of briefly and lazily explained asspulls to make a dead character reappear and help and make the mc win, and the mastermind falling for the most stupid trick and being defeated in one hit, wow they really are like Aizen. Plus the finale hints that both characters will return in part two, thus once again negating the results, what a load of crap and pointless fights.

EQUAL OR BETTER TITLES

And now for the comparisons with other products that prevents me from giving Chainsaw man a decent rating despite all of its pros.

Even the titles that are all about mindless action need to at least care a little about substance, or characterization, or good presentation to stand above the mediocrities, and Chainsaw man doesn’t do any of that. There’s absolutely no substance, even Hellsing Ultimate has more of it, with the characters struggling a lot more with rejecting humanity and becoming monsters when trying to survive, get powers, and become immortal, especially Seras Victoria, who is a better character than the whole Chainsaw man cast.

Another title that is mainly about action is Black Lagoon, where, just like in here, a bunch of psychopaths try to kill each other on a daily basis. The main difference there, is that there is a bit more substance and serious moments to interact with each other, some arcs have historical backgrounds, there is far more caracterization and even development for the main characters, and the setting is far better stablished. It all happens in a city where everybody is a criminal and enemies can be allies the next day, everyone knows what happens and is involved, and they try not to mess with anyone outside the city so the status quo is maintained. It makes sense for things to be that way in a place like that, unlike open Japan in Chainsaw man.

I dare to rate even Saint Seiya, the fighting shounen with the most repetitive fights of all time, above Chainsaw man, but only the manga version, because it doesn’t has Asgard nor as much plot armor, is not as repetitive since Poseidon is very different in the beginning, and actually lets the Golden Saints be the protagonists during the first part of the Hades arc, while fleshing out the secondary characters more, specially Kanon.

Another one on its level is Akudama Drive, also a mindless action series, with a far catchier setting, an attempt to have more substance and themes, and despite having characters with no names nor background stories, they are more fleshed out than the ones in here, plus the action scenes have more variety and there is a real lack of plot armor.

Heck I think even the beginning of Nanatsu no Taizai (the first season) is as good if not better, because the background stories of the main characters are far more tragic and better, even the secondary characters and antagonists have more to offer than the whole cast of Chainsaw man, and there are far more internal conflicts within the main group. Then the manga and anime continued and everything became way worse.

But what about the natural conversations and dialogues? Those shows lack that. Yes, do you know which titles doesn’t? Tarantino movies, which also flesh out the characters via silly conversations and are not as repetitive about it. They also lack the juvenile humor of Chainsaw man.

But some of those titles suffer from cheesy romances, Chainsaw man doesn’t have that. Ok, I’ll admit that is rare, specially within the medium. The only other example of this that I can think of was outside manganime in Pacific Rim, another simple action thing with more grounded battles.

But all of those are very typical, Chainsaw man has more unexpected outcomes at times. Aside from how unexpected doesn’t necessarily mean good, I have already seen it done far better with a much higher level of trolling in Katanagatari, which also flesh out most characters a lot more before killing them in unexpected ways. Even when a supposed big boss is defeated unexpectedly, it is to build up another and show how his companions are affected by their death. It also has far better dialogues and character development, its value doesn’t come just for the shock factor.

Even as an action series Chainsaw man suffers because it never stops to make you care about its characters and is very repetitive and bombastic, Akudama Drive also suffers from that but I already explained why it surpasses it. Chiansaw man becomes even worse when taken outside its medium and compared with straightforward action films from the eighties, which had far more suspense and characterization, even RoboCop has some interesting themes and identity crisis in it.

But none of those is as batshit crazy as Chainsaw man. Ok then, you know what other weird manga and anime has insane immortal characters fighting each other without juvenile humor, with far better characterization because of far better background stories, and it takes place in a far more creative setting? Dorohedoro.

Now I don’t want to come off as a hypocrite, since I rated almost every JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure above Chainsaw man despite also being random bullshit with asspulled things to beat the bad guys. Over there, however, I care more about the characters, it’s clearly trying to be more absurd and comical about everything, and the big bads are defeated with asspulls, yes, but only after a long battle, usually after lots of battles along the way, all of which are far more creative, tactical and with far more variety than everything you can see here.

As you can see it’s not that I have much issues with Chainsaw man itself, as much as I’ve already seen every possible positive aspect of it done far better elsewhere, or in better shows. I appreciate its positives, and it’s a good thing having all of them together, but that doesn’t make up for its negatives, and the fact that it has far too many better competitors out there. It’s an easy read and fun if all you want its a mindless and honest action series, but that’s it.


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Zegapain review

Posted : 5 months, 3 weeks ago on 5 August 2021 02:49 (A review of Zegapain)

Note: I find it impossible to review the show without some spoilers, but I think there’s nothing here to ruin the experience, I still leave a fair warning here.

Zegapain is one of those series that I’m glad they exist and keep thinking that I should’ve watched sooner, I only found out about it more than a decade after it came out, and only watched it almost 15 years after it aired. But it’s because I never heard about it before that, it didn’t even have the luck to become more known some years after it ran like Shinsekai Yori, I still rarely read or hear someone mentioning it.

It is not hard to see why, the show was clearly a side project in 2006, when Sunrise had their hands full with Code Geass and Gintama at the same time (and perhaps a Gundam project, cause, you know, they never stopped with that one). It’s perfectly clear with just one look at the series, the visuals were ok for its time and are pretty bad by now.

The series begins in a kind of ambiguous or confusing way, combining a typical high school setting with a post-apocalyptic one, you are not sure when you are watching it if what happens on the latter is real or not, since it begins in a mostly typical mecha fashion, where what happens on the other side is disguised as a virtual reality videogame, before revealing its Matrix like setting and premise (but with mechas).

Thus, the visuals are a mixed bag, half the time you are seeing a very well presented mundane setting that still holds up to this day, and the other half you are watching poorly rendered awful CGI in poorly animated battles in a most unimpressive battlefield. The coloring, clearly digital, is ok, darker than what can be seen nowadays, the artwork does not suffer from major quality drops, the character designs are generic but their models are mostly consistent, and they went for semi realistic physical looks, and they never sexualize their characters. The backgrounds are good to the most part, specially in the mundane setting, but since there isn’t much to see in the destroyed world, over there you are mostly watching a void space with CGI clouds. The CGI ends up being what ruins the visuals of the show, the mecha have stupid designs, are done in a very crappy CGI, their attacks and the explosions during battles are even worse, and the movements during battles can’t carry them even if sometimes they try to be slightly tactical, specially when they tend to have repeated footage. The special effects are not great either. Eventually both worlds collide and the visuals become much better during the final episodes, but until then you are watching the same battle coreography against the same enemies throughout most of the duration, and when you are watching a mecha show full of action, that’s a big flaw.

The sound effects are not very good by now, and are a bit generic, buy they are still great for their time, the voice acting is good, there are well known actors and some other that aren’t that famous and all of them made a good job, Kana Hanazawa and Marina Inoue got rather typical roles for them, and you can clearly tell who they are when you hear them, but they were still fine and not as exaggerated and waifu baity as their roles in other series would become later on. The soundtrack is good, sometimes very atmospheric, but not amazing, there are several endings and just one opening, all of which are very calm and melancholic jpop, which fit well with the feel of the show.

But enough of that, eventually what makes the series worth it is its theme exploration and characterization, that are far better than its more famous counterparts (those being the Matrix and Dark City), since Zegapain doesn’t rely on prophecies about chosen ones that contradicts the whole theme of free will nor antgonists of inconsistent capabilities that despite being so powerful are so easily defeatable, nor protagonists that become super powerful from one moment to another with no explanation or a poorly justified one.


The protagonist is Kyo, an imperactive guy, as you would expect from a mecha series, but unlike the usual protagonist, he’s not dumb, he knows his stuff, he more or less understands the terminology used, he’s capable in combat, he notices weird stuff is going on with his crewmates and close friends. Also he’s not an awesome pilot just because, a decent amount of episodes is spent on showing how despite being good at what he does, he always ends up causing problems to others and himself and gets defeated sometimes.


There’s a good focus on his mentality and existential crisis, how he doubts whom he can trust, what is real and what is not, if he can be considered a living being or not, and what’s his relationships with others worth if they are fabricated and will reset from a point on. It’s done in a way that it seems as if he’s prepared for battle but then new concepts and aspects of the situation and show will appear and make him doubt and revaluate everything all over again, get pissed for that, be mean to his friends and love interests and more stuff, but still doing the correct thing at the end. And unlike Shinji from Evangelion, Kyo does not shred a tear about it, so people wouldn’t even be mad at him for that as with that other poor boy.

The only complain I had with him is how was he able to even pilot the robot in the first place, and the series gave me good anwers for that. There’s a VR game in the series in the made up world by the good guys in order to prepare people for the real battle once they awake, something that’s done slowly so they won’t break all at once in an instant. Also the robots are used by two people at the same time, with one piloting and attacking and other managing all the complicated technical stuff, which also serves for faster reaction during battles, better fuel management and to form character dynamics. By the way, unlike Darling in the Franxx, there are no sexual innuendos and fanservice here, despite every female character being good looking and having somewhat tight suits.

Eventually it is revealed that Kyo used to be a pilot in the past, but unlike other series, the amnesia is used here in a thematically relevant way, related to a plot point and it also serves a purpose in fleshing out Kyo even more once his background is revealed, and how his identity crisis and relationships are complicated even further because of that. Heck, it was a way to show even the doubts he has had in the past.

Despite me wording it as if it is something happening to him alone, there are other characters that go through the same thing as well, just not as intense, and not as well done. Zegapain also has a love triangle going on, but is not done in an annoying way, since the girs are good sports, respect each other and even this plot point is related to the themes. If you are in love with someone in a made up reality, is it true love, or something that was programmed by someone else? In this world which sometimes resets and makes you lose your memories, what happens if you had other girlfriend in the past? It was you, or another version of you, with a different conscience and different feelings? Which by the way also serves to flesh out Kyo more and change his way of acting and even fighting later on.

Anyways, Kaminagi is a typical kind girl you’ll find in any other anime but she discovers the truth by herself, not driven by the plot, and since she passed so much time in the simulation program she turns out to be one heck of an almost unpresedented pilot, and even she is not a mary sue that wins all her battles, quite the opposite actually. The problem with her is that at certain point the story finds a somewhat contrived way to make her stay relevant to the plot and even step back her development a little, for at least half the time…I can’t get into details for that but it was a little flaw, even if it served to kick her own identity crisis, for half the time at least. Oh and I won’t spoil this but I want to say that she is voiced by Kana Hanazawa and for once she ends having different luck than her characters usually do, I’ll just leave it at that.

Shizuno is a good character as well, it’s just that she remains rather mysterious for most of the duration, and when her past is revealed and her identity crisis touched upon, there’s almost no time for the show to manage her mini arc in a completely satisfying way, even if her interactions with Kyo and her catharsis were strong.

There are more secondary characters and they get focus and background stories as well, it’s just that since a lot of time is spent on the main trio, their characters arc are done in a much faster way to feel completely organic. Nevertheless it was great to see internal conflicts, positions and doubts within the group, some want to stay in the fabricated reality because they are traumatized for what they have faced in the real world, others want to leave their final moments the best they can, others are running out of time and about to die so they HAVE to defeat their enemies and restore the world as soon as possible, some quention other members of the crew for being so mysterious and try to find out the truth on their own, and so on.

As for the antagonists, they are ok, they are imposing, have their own language and all sorts of powers, yet can be neutralized, they question the humans and learn things along the way, interact with different humans in different ways, they are not onedimensional, and the big boss has a classic sci-fi objective regarding the next step of human evolution and stuff. It’s just that they don’t have nearly as much screentime as the good guys, so you do feel like they could have gotten more focus.

Another good thing is how even the majority of logical gaps I got along the way were answered in a mostly justified and convincing way. I already talked about Kyo but I was also asking myself how do they have the technology for a freaking spaceship and AIs but are limited in what they can do regarding data? Why can’t they just transfer it? What are the rules regarding all the stuff related to that? Why are they fighting against the same two enemies every single time and how do they reappear every single time? What is the explanation of their powers? How can it be that they have a secret base right in front of the enemies base? Is everyone in the crew a teenager? Why aren’t more adults fighting? Do the awakens all come from the same school? Is it just an excuse to have the setting to feel relatable to a young audience or is there an in story reason? Does it affect the character dynamics in some way? And all of that was explained and answered in believable and satisfactory ways, I can’t get into details about any of that sadly.

With that said, there are still things that won’t feel very convincing regarding the data but I consider them minor and easy to miss, at least for me because I honestly don’t know much about all that stuff.

Since the middle episodes take place in the everyday life in the school, some bits of the series will definitely be dull. But since the setting is explained, the dynamics serve to flesh out and develop the main cast, and has an in story excuse regarding the secondary cast, it is all story related and in the service of the narrative, so I can’t complain about that despite not enjoying those bits much myself. So much time is spent at the school during some episodes that forces big events and revelations to happen in a hurry at the end of those episodes, but is not done in a rushed way, the pacing is steady from beginning to end, building up and anticipating what comes next and balancing the major stuff with relaxing moments in a good way.

Eventually there are only two major problems in the show as far as I’m concerned, the mecha battles which as I said, despite having some variety and trying to be tactical, are still simple, repetitive and look ugly as shit, not even the inside of the robots have cool machinery, almost every mecha title have that regardless of its quality! Well I guess it is well excused since most of the functions are activated through advanced holographic technology, damn this series thought about almost everything.

Anyways the issue with this is not only that they are poorly animated and boringly choreographed to the most part, but they also take a lot of needed screentime, which is why the secondary characters and antagonists are not fleshed out in the same level as the main protagonists. Also there are more branches in the series than the main crew but they are hardly present in the show, which is why despite the final battle being epic as hell in terms of scale and stakes, there is very little emotional impact when you see characters dying which you never knew before that point. It also makes you ask yourself if they had the same information as the captain and why you don’t see them fighting against the enemies throughout the show or why you don’t get to know more about them before the final battle.

The other issue is how convenient are the resolutions in the final episodes, lots of stuff happen to give more functions, abilities and power ups to the good guys in the last two or three episodes, and as much as they try to explain and justify it, they will still feel rushed and contrived in order to let them win for a quick happy ending after a time skip.

Which is why Neon Genesis is still the best mecha anime starring teenagers ever made despite its flaws and not being nearly as philosophical as this one, no ugly CGI, the enemies and battles have lots of variety, and yet the protagonists don’t win all the time, far from it, there’s a reason why the kids are the ones doing the fight and why are they the ones piloting the robots since the very beginning, the action takes place in the same city and there’s a reason why, as well as showing how the whole place is built taking that in count, every secondary character is fleshed out in a basic or major level and contributes to the plot or character dynamics since the very beginning, and there are no forced happy endings, quite the opposite actually. And no preference for badass Kyo Sugurus over depressed Shinji Ikaris will change that.

That doesn’t take away the greatness of Zegapain though, it’s still a great show to the most part, but it prevents it from being even better, which would have been that way if the ugly mecha battles were shorter and more time was spent on the other branches and characters, as well as anticipating the power ups so they don’t feel aspulled at the end. Other than that I consider it a great and seriously underappreciated anime, one of the best that I watched, and much more meaningful and polished than some similar movies that are far more famous.


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Fire Punch 08 review

Posted : 5 months, 3 weeks ago on 3 August 2021 12:30 (A review of Fire Punch 08)

Note: This covers the whole manga but there are no major spoilers.

Well, that was a weird title, in a good way, to the most part at least. Its plot points and elements reminded me of different titles, so I’ll go over it comparing it to them for a little.


MY HERO ACADEMIA

The set up is kinda similar, super powers appeared around the world but instead of taking place in the future from now and somehow not changing the world in its entirety, it goes for a far edgier version where one single ability destroyed the whole environment forever, technology got stalled and now everyone struggles to survive, no teenagers and high schools in contemporary societies here.


HOKUTO NO KEN

In this post-apocalyptic setting full of chaos and no authorities, people abuse their powers, the strong abuse and enslave the weak, and everyone has lost their mind, plus since the resources are obviously limited the food is scarce, leading some to resort even to cannibalism. Thus religious cults end up being formed and they spread lies and made up bullshit, and they get followers because they are dellusional and in need of a savior, this last element reminded me a bit of Akira.


VINLAND SAGA

To its core, Fire Punch is a revenge story where an edgy protagonist lives (and dies, constantly) just to achieve that and there’s a lot of focus on the mentality of the main character and how self destructive his goal can be, and even how it can affect the lives of everyone around him. Plus both manga dare to do something different with it or go beyond that point, by either not achieving that or showing the consequences of doing so.

And now for this work itself, this is the best part of the manga by the way, showing how the protagonist is literally an unstoppable killing machine that sets up to avenge his loved ones, destroying many innocent lives in the process, becoming a God in the eyes of others, and doubting his goal, objectives, desires and methods along the way, there is a lot of time spent on long introspective scenes where Agni suffers the mental pressure of what he’s doing, thus the manga is not done with empowerment fantasy or victimizing in mind.

Plus the visual narrative during those moments is superb, there are whole chapters showing every single action in the whole sequence, if you’ve read One Punch Man or Fujimoto’s other work Chainsaw Man, you know what I mean. This happens even during the moments where he goes on a rampage, which, thanks to a sharper stroke, the prominence of shadows and close to no lighting, all combined with no dialogue, thankfully comes off as horrifying instead of epic, again no empowerment fantasy in mind.


With that said, there’s an ever present weird feeling throughtout the work regarding its approach and tone to its themes. After a messed up beginning and thanks to a certain character, the whole thing turns into a kind of self aware satire of revenge stories pointing out outloud the tropes and clichés of those type of stories, thanks to said character (and the author)’s fondness of movies in general, especially action and horror where those things are rather common. I have to say that I don’t like this guy’s style of combining morbid and serious stuff with bizarre events and juvenile humor, it makes the tone uneven and hard to know how to respond to this story. Thankfully after a while the manga enters its best bits with all the good stuff I already talked about thanks to a major event in the plot, thus becoming kind of a dark subversion of this kind of story.

Another weird aspect is the kind of incestuous thing, having consumed Koi Kaze and Usagi Drop I can safely say this the most Freudian japanese product I have consumed in my life. The implementation of this is kind of a mixed bag, it’s well established in the context of the series at the beginning since this messed up world left the protagonist and his sister all alone and desperate for emotional support, and their survival instinct and their wish/duty to protect and feed their village kicked in. It’s off putting, I’ll never accept this kind of stuff, but it was well presented in story

After that the manga tries to confuse you concerning a look alike of mc’s sister, it’s rather ambiguous if she’s or not the same person, leading him to develop a weird mix between a sister complex or love, protective obsession or sexual attraction, not being clear enough if he sees her as his sister or lover, and it gets worse the more it goes on all the way to a crappy finale. And I know they are not clearly related, but when I see them acting like siblings for half the duration, the romantic moments just feel kinda wrong. Well presented, weirdly developed is my final verdict regarding this.

Which can sum up the manga pretty well, although the good aspects are still there, the last thirty chapters are rather infamous because, although the protagonist keeps facing the consequences of his actions and never feels like an empowerment fantasy, the resolutions are rather light for him. I keep seeing how he repents for what he has done to others yet keeps being forgiven rather easily, and I know some of them have become his family at that point, but in a story about facing the consequences of your actions, everyone close to Agni seems to forgive him and wish for his happiness with ease. Plus just like the weird feelings towards his non sister, this dynamic had no build up, and that’s because of its worst aspect, the time skips.

There are just too many and they are big, not letting the story to flow naturally, the dynamics keep changing, many side characters disappear from the manga and are never seeing again, some others change completely and even become antagonists, and none of that was properly built upon before happening and also, again, the ending was total bullshit.

Finally for a post apocalyptic series, having an immortal protagonist takes away a lot of tension, well at least side characters die and you don’t know when the protagonist can snap and kill everyone nearby, so there’s that I guess, and the interesting developments still make up for it.

I would normally complain about the characters changing their mentality or becoming amnesiac during time skips and the power levels being somewhat inconsistent as well, but I can sort of accept the way it’s presented here, in both a metaphorical and literal way. Metaphorically, the protagonist lets his desire for revenge go, you can even see that his flame doesn’t burn with the same strength during some vignettes, and his expression becoming much calmer during those and literally half his brain is always burning and was since his childhood, so there’s that for an explaination of him forgetting stuff and being so dumb at times.

Neither the artwork and the designs are that good but some of them are impressive and the highlights in the visuals (the darker moments, as previously mentioned) make up for it. The backgrounds are usually very good too, it’s just that it becomes a little tiresome after a while when you are just seeing the same frozen world almost all the time.

In the end, you get a messed up but well established beginning, followed by a bizarre self aware satire of revenge driven action heroes, followed by a very well presented dark subversion of said revenge stories, with a very bad finale. It’s flawed and it abuses time skips, but as a whole it is meaningful, rather engaging, visually interesting and ultimately mostly well presented, so I say it’s worth the read, despite not being anywhere the masterpiece level some claim it is.

My rating varies between a 6 and a 7 out of 10 among the volumes, with a, let’s say, 6.5 for the manga as a whole.


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Deca-Dence review

Posted : 6 months, 1 week ago on 24 July 2021 04:59 (A review of Deca-Dence)

Note: This long ass review has major spoilers about events present in the second episode and some other minor ones

Deca-Dence was the best anime from last year for me, at least outside of sequels. And saying that is kinda weird since outside of Japan not that many people gave it a chance and among those that did give it a chance, many people dropped it within the first two episodes. Heck, I wasn’t even planning to watch it because of the premise and the previous works made by its studio, I watched it two times and even I think is not that big of a deal either, which says a lot about what I think of anime from last year.

The main reasons why I think that Deca-Dence deserves to be considered as the best or at least one of the bests shows from last year boils down to being fairly original, having a steady pacing and an evolving plot brimming with lots of interesting themes and ideas that are actually looked into throughout its duration, and how many things it does better in its twelve episodes compared to other products of its time.

At first, the setting is rather typical but engaging enough, a city within a fortress attacked by giant monsters with steampunk aesthetics in the middle of a wasteland is hardly original these days but it works well if done properly and it also makes everyone instantly remember previous works such as Children of the Whales, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, Darling in the Franxx and Mortal Engines, which can be a good thing…although in this case is not that good because of the titles mentioned.

Compared to those, Deca-Dence is a complete story which doesn´t fool around for half its duration with pointless slice of life teenage dramedy with sexual innuendos in both its mechanisms and its memeable crappy dialogue, and does not throw ludicrous elements and situations just for spectacle purposes (despite having its own silly things) nor does it change plot points and characterization every five minutes, which automatically makes it better than all of them.

Then the second episode begins and drops a big plot twist that changes the show completely by apparently turning everything into a VRMMORPG and that made lots of people drop the show. The thing is, it is not really a videogame. It has elements that resemble videogame mechanics but that world is actually real, the npcs are actual people with actual lives and their deaths kinda matter. And that world is inside a huge dome and the game is in reality the way a tryrannical government of chibi robots control what was left of the human race after a most typical post apocalyptic sci-fi scenario happened, and the greatest warriors that fight against the monsters turns out to be avatars used by said tiny robots. Thus the series moved from a combination of the previously mentioned shows to a mix between Log Horizon, Ready Player One, The Matrix, kind of a reverse Surrogates, with even bits of SSSS. Gridman thrown in there.

How does it stand against those? Compared to Log Horizon, Deca-Dence is, again, a complete and far more compressed story where something relevant is always happening and does not have as much slice of life comedy and slow mmo progression. Plus it has far better characters.

Compared to Ready Player One, it combines elements that are present in other ips but are not exclusively from them, and it does it to build its own thing, not for comedic and referential purposes while mentioning them to sell on their names. It also has a break the norm/take down an evil government/organization type of plot that does not pander to gamers while mocking them with self-depreciative humor and plot points and has more interesting themes in it.

Compared to Gridman, it lacks the anti escapism message but it has a more focused plot where the ideas, objectives, points and twists are presented much earlier and not near the end, and that’s all I can say about that other series without spoiling its final episodes.

Compared to Surrogates, it does not saves its plot twists for the last ten minutes and thus it does not make the plot and characterization feel inconsistent, and it doesn’t feel like a typical thriller/action flick…and yet it still has better action.

I even dare to place it slightly above The Matrix, which came out at the right time in the end of a millenium filled with fear of technology and that was far cooler in terms of visuals and action, combining martial arts with cool gunfights with CGI and directing that were innovative and impressive at the time, but its theme exploration of virtual reality and free will was very superficial when you think about it, since having a destined choosen one as a protagonist contradicts the whole premise, there’s no real tension and free will when you do what a prophecy says that you have to do.

Deca-Dence also has cool action and a basic theme exploration, but at least it has actual proactive characters that want to change both the world and themselves, with strong dynamics between them.

That’s how Deca-Dence gets its peculiar identity and manages to be somewhat unique, by mixing altogether a plethora of elements that normally wouldn’t be in the same show.

With that said, I have to admit that Deca-Dence is barely worth watching more for its ideas than its execution, which is severely lacking in presentation and a proper finale. It’s not a thinking man’s action series, it’s a semi serious and semi comical action adventure first, and a barely competent sci-fi series that explores interesting themes of existentialism, free will, the meaning of life, revolution and stagnation, change and status quo, that leaves you pondering about stuff waaaaay after.

The main reason for that is that the tone is very light. Although it’s refreshing to have an energetic and positive girl as a protagonist in a show where humanity is on the verge of extinction, it can’t be denied that Natsume’s attitude takes out a lot of the sense of urgency that the show could and should have. Even aside from her, Kurenai is presented as a badass veteran fighter that wants to end the war against the Gadolls and leave the city yet she turns into a complete fangirl the moment she sees Kaburagi (heh, if she knew) and the artwork in the robot society makes hard to take stuff seriously at first.

This other side of the setting has a much more cartoony artstyle and the cutesy designs don’t help out either. It’s on a middle point between Yuasa’s Kaiba and Imaishi’s Dead Leaves, not as bizarre as the former and much more innocent than the latter. In the middle of the series there are even more comical moments in this other society and there are about…shit. I guess the point is that the system exploits the workers, takes everything from them, and then fills them up with just the bare minimum, so they decide to revolt, leave and take down said system. Good concept and the execution wasn’t bad but I’ve seen it better in more bizarre and gross ways in both Dead Leaves and Aachi wa Ssipak, even if I still rate Deca-Dence higher than them for having more substance.

The show focuses more on the robot side from a point on instead of the tragic human side and a big part of the atmosphere is lost because of it. Well, at least I can recognize that Deca-Dence knows how to manage its tone, as the more serious, dramatic and tragic moments does not feature this type of comedy in between.

An also, between the silly comedy and the action bits, there’s good enough downtime for the characters to interact, plan stuff, do that stuff, and being a representation of the themes. In the first two episodes alone there are a couple of good dialogues between Natsume and Kaburagi about her sharing the same ideals as Kurenai and a desire to change herself for the better and to no longer be weak and a burden, even if she has to risk her life and perhaps die while doing so, as someone who has lost everything and is labeled as incapable of chasing after her dreams, she still wants to do it and prefers to lose her life while trying instead of living the same life, which is meaningless to her.

Kaburagi is the polar opposite of her, having lost everything and knowing about what really happens, he sees no point in risking one’s life and prefers to settle down and just try to survive and be unnoticed while working for the system. He kinda begins as a depressive and suicidal guy, and his interactions with Natsume and seeing how she, despite being weak, clumsy, idealistic and a bug that has to be erased from the totalitarian system, still tries her best, changes his views about life and leads him to defy the system and let everyone live their lives on their own. From there, she sees him as the only person that actually believes in her at first and the one that helps her overcome her weaknesses and even grow as a person.

It’s nothing mindblowing, it’s typical shounen stuff, but it does wonders in starting their relationship as a master and student or even a father and a daughter instead of just coworkers with more or less hierarchy amongst them, and thankfully it never has romantic implications and developments. And at least it made me brainstorm and ponder about thoughts of this kind for hours the two times I watched the show, but I’m sure it won’t be the case with everyone.

There was another anime last year where something similar happened, it was ID: Invaded and although it was good in there as well, the interactions between the protagonists are few and begin in the middle of the series, they do not affect each other since the beginning, thus their dynamic is not as strong as this one.

Not everyone shares the same mindset however, in both the human and robots side are people that prefer the status quo and just try to do their stuff the best they can without taking much risks. They are Fei, as someone who sees corpses everyday in the battlefield and cares for Natsume but also underestimates her (but eventually is influenced by her), Turkey as a backstabbing bastard, Minato as someone dedicated completely to the system that does not know what to do once his role is over (for a bit) yet is conflicted because of his friendship with Kaburagi and Sarkozy, who begins as a resigned and useless coward, becomes a traitor and gets influenced by Kaburagi (after he was moved by Natsume), and stars one of the most heroic and epic scenes in the whole series. So by extension, the interactions between Natsume and Kaburagi leads them to affect others through their actions. Again, wonderful character dynamics.

Then there is Jill, who doesn’t have the same thematic depth behind her like the previous characters, she’s more about regretting the past, and someone who had good intentions but ends up learning that the system just can’t control everything and breaking the stagnation is ultimately inevitable, even if it takes time. She ends up being the most useful character in the show, since she’s both a hacker and someone with a strong connection to the system itself.

With that said, not every character is as good, Donatello is the typical macho dude that just wants to fight and kill stuff and the antagonists, as imposing as they are, lack screentime and effectiveness to become memorable. From a point on the mass produced jailers become a joke because they are defeated with shit, and the rest of the robot society is completely ignorant about how they are being exploited and treated as livestock of some kind, and keep treating everything as a videogame to the end. Basically, they are distracted from what’s going on through entertainment. Sadly, there are no more human characters explored as much either.

And I have to admit that aside from Kaburagi, the development of the rest is not as good and happens in a matter of episodes, even Natsume’s breakdown and recovery happens in the same episode, but at least is shown seriously and makes her doubt about her meaning and objective in life for a bit and if it would have beeing preferable to remain ignorant to the whole thing.

Since the setting combines steampunk, futuristic sci-fi and videogame ideas and elements, it needs to have a way for objects and logics to work in all of them for the world to feel organic. The steampunk elements are non existent outside the fortress so let’s pay more attention to the other two.

There are people that defy the system and the way it works, labeled as bugs, which of course fits the videogame terminology and logic as well, for they do the same in there, the leveling system and upgrades explain well how these players are above the humans in terms of skill in the war against the Gadolls, the weapons and energy they use works well as both a sci-fi element and a videogame mechanic, a tank that absorbs energy from the monsters and serves as a fuel, and since the people live in a wasteland they have to eat their corpses as well, it’s not rare to feed on the creatures you kill in a videogame so this also fits well on that part of the setting as well. The reason for the robots to participate in this whole thing, aside from the empowerment fantasy, is to gain more of the same fuel from the Gadolls that keeps them functioning, so that element fits within their society as well and that is of course a good reason to keep playing the game. And everyone is seen and more or less controled via chips and cores inside their brains. Thus this weird world they live in feels organic as a whole. The exposition could be better though, it’s ok to have infodumps inside the school or when Kaburagi explains stuff to Natsume, but outside of those situations, there is a lot of spoken information that is not integrated in the best possible way.

Still, you have to suspend your disbelief about how some things play out, for example, why did the system save someone as dangerous as Kaburagi? Why didn’t it remove some parts of his body (his jetpack), as well as Donatello’s laser? Why does it allow the most dangerous prisoners to gather together and even fight with each other when they feel like it? Also this whole thing about them being able to play the game in their cells, and how Natsume is unknown to the system are a bit of a stretch, the corporation is presented as an Orwell’s Big Brother that sees everything type of system yet they don’t notice all of this stuff? There’s an episode where four people run all around to find a body in a Monsters, Inc. fashion and it can’t see that either. Most of this is explained as Jill hacking the system but when you have one single character doing all sorts of stuff, the excuse becomes hard to accept. The system’s course of action does not make much sense either, you want to avoid what happened in the past by supressing humans? That makes sense but why not kill them on the spot? Well I guess they need sacrifices within the game. And what it did at the end was pretty questionable, and I even doubt that the corporation was dismounted, it remains unclear. And that final Gadoll at the end of the series was pure bullshit.

But the biggest issue in the series is the finale itself which is hard to accept, I can deal with the fake deaths since the avatars are an element well established that makes sense within its story and setting, I would prefer for the deaths to be permanent, but I’d rather take a well excused way to survive than a death that happens to maximize the cheap feels when it was possible to be avoided (with that said, the last resurrection is kind of a stretch). What I can’t ignore is what happened to the society after the conflict is resolved, of course and I can’t get into details regarding that, but it’s too friendly and happy and it happens after a time skip thus not letting the viewer to see how it happened and how does all of these people live there without the fuel? It doesn’t make sense, and there should have been more internal conflicts in there.

This is why Deca-Dence is no close to Gurren Lagann in this regard, partially for being rushed and having at least half the amount of episodes it needed. That series did wonders in its second half, showing the conflicts in the newly established society and implementing a big plot twist that changes the whole premise, heck even the whole series up to that point and expands the themes as well as the scope of the story, and also the scale and the epicness of the battles.

As an action series, Deca-Dence is exciting at first but can become dull for some as the episodes go, not because of the production and the atmosphere, which are both pretty good to the most part, but because of how short the fights are, how repetitive the choreography is and how underwhelming are some of the outcomes. At least I can say that I like what they did with Natsume, beginning as a crappy fighter that can’t do anything right, having a training montage, getting upgrades and becoming better, typical shounen stuff, yet remaining unable to do anything during the major battles, and being Kaburagi who has to take care of the stuff at the end. That’s how you handle a power scale properly, for once a series lets the experienced veteran fighter be the one that takes care of things and even making his actions lead to relevant changes afterwards, it even makes more sense because of the limit breaker which the humans lack. Brand New Animal did the same last year, but it suffered of too much ass-pulled power ups for Michiru and a resolution that was even worse than Deca-Dence’s in both its final battle and its conflict.

As for the visuals, the artwork is pretty good to the most part but there are drops in quality when the perspective is located far away, lots of characters lose their faces when that happens, at least the character designs are pretty great, distinctive to other anime because of the weird eyes and for having noticeable noses, A RARE THING IN MODERN ANIME. The robots look much more cartoony but they look good when they are with the humans, the two completely different artworks don’t clash with each other. The backgrounds are low key trippy and well made and the motions are acceptable during battles, not great but excused because of the fields of the Gadolls and the way the angles follow the movements during the battles as if someone was moving a camera (like in Burn the Witch or Majo no Tabitabi, for example) helps to make them feel epic at first. The special effects are good except for the CGI Gadolls, which are pretty bad, expecially in the last episode.

As for the sound, the effects are impactful and immersive, the voice acting is ok, the distortion for the robots is also ok, the soundtrack is not that memorable but is pretty good to the most part. The opening and ending are decent but typical jpop/jrock stuff, and the bgm has some electronic tunes which don’t work outside of the series, but there are also symphonic pieces which are combined with what I think are celtic instruments that makes it pretty unique and atmospheric. Very good stuff as a whole.

As a whole, Deca-Dence is far from a masterpiece because is rushed and not that serious and is not really a memorable work but it has interesting themes, good enough action, strong character dynamics, a mostly organic world, is somewhat fun while still provides food for thought, and it does a lot more in just twelve episodes than a lot of longer shows and more famous movies from around the same time, with at least slightly better execution than them.

Want more like this? Play the Danganronpa videogame series (but avoid the anime) and Transistor for similar plot twists, watch Dead Leaves and Aachi wa Ssipak for the gross and bizarre parts, the first Lego Movie for a comical take in totalitarian dystopias with some existential bits, the 1997 italian action movie called Nirvana for a story about a videogame character becoming sentient due to a virus and his developer helping him while he is chased by his superiors, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann to see how the action, the epicness, and the evolution of the themes and the conflict could have been far better, and Dark City, The Truman Show and Zegapain for better somewhat existential stories about free will and fake/virtual realities.


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Oddtaxi review

Posted : 7 months ago on 28 June 2021 08:54 (A review of Oddtaxi)

Once in a while out of nowhere comes an original anime that renews my dying interest in the new stuff from the medium. 2020 had a bunch of them but they were either quite basic or couldn’t end in a good way for being either too ambitious or rushed, or incomplete, or having bad writing near the end. This year’s pleasant surprise was Odd Taxi which unlike those managed to wrap up things in a satisfying way. It was made by the Pokémon studio and another one which I never heard of and had no previous hype before airing whatsoever, the premise isn’t amazing by any means either, just an anthropomorphic walrus driving a taxi, big deal. I checked the first episode out of pure boredom and by pure accident I found the title I liked the most from this year full of sequels of stuff I didn’t watch and new stuff I don’t care about.

Before moving on with the actual show I’ll just talk about the stuff I care the least about in a hurry, the visuals aren’t very good, the setting is just your more or less known Japan by any anime watcher with anthropomorphic animals thrown in but it looks good. The rest, not so much, the furries’ designs are simple and kinda generic but at least they are not sexualized, they don’t quite match with the backgrounds at times, the motions aren’t very fluent and the CGI cars clash a lot with the rest of the visuals.

As for the sound, both the effects and the music are fine, neither of them are nothing special but they do their work just fine, I don’t care about the ending, to me is just idolish crap which I always skip after the first episode but at least it fits a little with the show, on the other hand the opening is amazing, easily the best of the year for me, and it’s accompanied with catchy visuals too. The voice acting is very good to me, far more mature than what I expected and I was surprised by the performances, given the voice actors behind them, aside from a few of them, the rest gave an unexpected and refreshing performance, good stuff, Odokawa and the rapper were the best.

With that out of the picture, Odd Taxi is initially nothing really special, just a comedy about talking animals on a taxi, but the dialogue is pretty good thanks to the forty year old cynical Odokawa passively aggressively questioning everyone else about how futile the stuff they do or worry about actually is. From there, in a way, the series makes fun of modern things such as a guy whose whole life is literally dedicated to the idol group he’s fan of, another who dropped out of the university to seek quick bucks and fame by spreading lies and scamming people on the Internet and being obsessed over being relevant on social media.

It also deals with a gatcha addiction theme, a very relevant topic today, but I have to say I don’t think it was explored very well, since the character suffering for it has a very unbelievable tragic background, lost his cellphone in a kinda contrived way, and has very composed internal monologues reflecting on his own life for a character that is supposed to go completely insane. I know that his episode is among the most populars of the show but I couldn’t buy the whole thing.

But it’s not a boomers anime with a millenials are a lost generation type of message, the older cast deal with their own issues and are flawed as well, from an easily manipulated woman caught up on drugs traffic because of a naive love to a literal monkey desperate to marry with whoever he finds and just like the younger idiots he posts his income on the Internet. Heck there’s even a comedy duo where the older guy can’t catch up with the modern society, constantly complains about it and can’t up his game and is jealous of his younger more succesful partner, he is the pure boomer of the show and look how he is portrayed.

It also deals with dark topics within the idol industry being in shady and illegal business but I can’t go into details regarding that. If the series would stop at that it would be a kinda funny and unorthodox slice of life comedy with interesting themes in the background but decided to go further by becoming a crime adventure, an internal battle within two mafia guys which ties its seemingly at first unrelated stories kinda like the “Go!” 1999 movie which starts as a teen comedy and turns into a crime adventure midway. All the characters end up being caught in the main conflict and are somehow connected with the others by the end.

As for the characters, everyone is kinda colorful and has something that makes them stand out a little, such as the capoeira practicer nurse, and eventually most if not all of them have their background revealed and face the consequences of their actions and are affected by the events, going through their own character arc.

Despite all the good things I said about the show, I don’t want to oversell it as a kind of hidden masterpiece or something, since there are definitely contrivances to make the stuff happen and simple and convenient resolutions, such as characters appearing out of nowhere to save someone else or stuff like that, and whenever there’s action it’s hardly exciting, the choreographies are not very good and as I said the visuals are not very good to back those scenes up. Also things go Odokawa’s way quite easily, you almost feel like he can play around with gangsters and cops however he wants without much struggle and tension. Plus, despite dealing with different stories and characters coming together, it lacks the interwoven narratives used by those late 90s and early 00s movies such as Go! and of course those made by Tarantino and Guy Ritchie, or even Baccano! within the same medium, it’s much more straightforward in that regard. I can at least say that this title has better characters, as memorable and fun as those other casts may be, they lack the character arcs and kind of depth found here. Compared to those titles, Odd Taxi is nothing special and memorable and lacks the same level of refined style, but within the anime medium is kinda unique and definitely worth the watch.


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Back Arrow review

Posted : 7 months, 1 week ago on 19 June 2021 02:18 (A review of Back Arrow)

What a weird title. It combines a village pulled out of a western movie full of poor people pointing guns at someone the moment they step inside their place, an asian empire combining chinese and japanese aesthetics, another european like medieval kingdom, but all of them have advanced technology. Eventually the plot moves from yet another giant things battling each other behind a world sized wall with a dumb amnesiac protagonist voiced by Yuki Kaji and a centuries old prophecy about the end of the wolrd, to a multi layered political struggle between each country with backstabbing, alliances between former enemies, betrayals, crazy revelations, characters that don’t stay the same way as they began and change along the way while still retaining their basic concept and initial motives, and a main character that has to deals with his destructive powers, all of it presented with fast paced comedy and mecha action in a setting that keeps evolving adding mortal traps, a greek mythology hell like place and eventually going to space for an all out battle against demigods in a finale only akin to the 1984 OVA called “Birth”, it should be at least half as amazing as it sounds, but it isn’t.

Because it’s stupid, like, different levels of stupid. It’s like the creators were trying to make a serious show but weren’t serious about it. First of all it’s silly, it has a cringy comedy that you stop considering funny once you are over twelve, and that clashes a lot with the political struggle it’s going for. Also who the hell comes up with names like Back Arrow, Bruh and a country literally filled with pretty boys, even named after them.

Second, it has bad plot devices, an amnesiac protagonist doesn’t have a backdrop by default and although Back Arrow does get some development and internal struggle, the bad writing takes away all of that very easily. An end of the world prophecy in an advanced world like that? Really? It has some kind of twist, that gets resolved just as badly as the protagonist, well, because it concerns him as well. Mecha activated with imagination and own will like powers? Lame, and gets even worse when they try to give it a scientific explanation later on. A pink haired pacifist princess that never stops talking about the power of love uniting every country and being the explanation of everything in the world and its habitants. What other good show did I watch with a character like that? None. It’s even her own power to be a broken tank healer that takes damage and turns all that pain into healing magic. She also has a twist behind her and is as lame as it’s crazy, it has a silly background, and it doesn’t have nearly as much internal struggle as it should, which in turn is resolved very easily, or not, or does it? It keeps reappearing whenever there needs to be a conflict or an asspulled last moment save.

Third, there seems to be consequences for everything, which would be very cool, but they are resolved very easily, I can’t give proper examples with much details but let’s just say that for reasons the whole kingdom turns against the aforementioned princess, and even that is resolved very easily.

That probably has to do with another issue which is the erratic pacing, every episode has something important going on that contributes to the plot yet the first three have conflicts resolved in very stupid ways and most of them are jokes about a pantsu. Even leaving those aside, there are countries and characters that appear, seem to disappear and reappear again later on suppossedly to do something important, and they don’t, they turn out to be useless and not even do something at the end (again the fucking Pretty Boys country). Also the writing is just so bad, I can’t even count the amount of asspulls it has, the protagonist alone keeps pulling all kind of broken and convenient for the moment powers without even having the source of energy used in the show, eventually there’s a semi dark explanation for that which turns into dark powers that apparently is going to be a major conflict, and it’s resolved just because in about two episodes. And don’t get me started on Bit’s, Shu’s, and above everyone else, Zetsu’s powers, my God.

Oh, also the ships and mechas, they keep pulling spaceships and mechas out of nowhere. Oh, also the characters and the political bits, imagine ending a centuries long war in about two episodes of lame speeches and broken powers, or moving from loving someone to try to kill him and love him again in like, what, 5 episodes? As for the background stories only Shu and Kai has some good ones, the rest are hilarously ridiculous, imagine having shooting your own sister and princess because someone made you think a giant bird was haunting them as your backdrop, reason for exile, and eventually sacrifice in search of redemption, that’s pathetic man.

It’s not even very good as a spectacle, aside from the mecha being absolute bullshit, they look lame, who came up with these designs? Also they are suppossed to be an individual thing product of oneself’s inner state and yet I see two whole mass produced army of them battling against each other. Oh and there are also Zetsu and Shu’s Brightheights or whatever they are called (and more) but I won’t talk about them. These mecha are also made with fugly CGI and aside from the final battle they also move in very choppy ways, not very exciting as action isn’t it? As for the rest of the visuals, well, the setting is interesting enough and looks ok and the non cg effects look ok too, the character designs are recycled from previous works of the creators and constantly go off model on top of having a rather bad coloring, lowering the overall quality of the visual department as a whole.

I don’t have much to say about the sound, there are two openings and endings, none is particularly good, the background music is good enough, as are the sound effects, voice acting is effective albeit generic.

This was a mess, a very interesting one to follow for old timers for how crazy it is but otherwise still a mess in almost if not all aspects. During the same season of its second cour alone, Godzilla Singular Point was far more comitted in being a hard sci-fi series and SSSS.Dynazenon was a straightforward episodic tokusatsu mecha show with random power ups but far more meaningful and consistent characterization, they are far from great but even them kick the crap out of this, let alone older series such as the equally crazy Planet With and above all the modern classics such as Gurren Lagann being everything this series tries to be or Moribito handling its prophecy/fantasy/political aspects and character interactions far better.


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Horimiya review

Posted : 9 months, 3 weeks ago on 10 April 2021 11:09 (A review of Horimiya)

It’s crazy to see hoy many peculiar circumstances have revolved around a title such as this. First, it came out in the most overloaded season in years with so many popular ips getting an adaptation or popular series getting a continuation at the same time and somehow staying relevant and somewhat controversial to its end, which is not what happened with lots of the remaining titles.

Second, its studio made three of the most talked about series of the season at the same time and as expected all got issues in terms of production and schedule and received criticism in the end because of it. Cloverworks did whatever the hell they wanted with Neverland’s second season, making it one of the worst rated second seasons of all time, rushed this title leaving its huge original fanbase disappointed and overworked its team responsible for Wonder Egg Priority to the point of being unable to finish the product in time. That alone makes them one of the worst studios among the newer ones, if not the worst.

Third, it is simultaneously an overhyped and overhated title, by being labeled as one of the greatest romcom/slice of life manga of all time and yet being panned by some for stuff that doesn’t really feel like a big deal, to anime onlys such as me at least.

And fourth, it has two different versions with two completely different styles, casts, pacings and studios coming out at the same time, one of them with the most random airing dates ever seen.

And it’s crazy to think that when you leave all that fuss aside, the title itself is not really special, it stands out more for all the shit happening around it than on its own. There were a few romcoms with unorthodox beginnings or elements coming out for some years (off the top of my head, Gekkan Shoujo, Ore Monogatari!, Science Fell in Love so I Tried to Prove it, Recovery of an MMO Junkie, Tonikawa, heck this season has I Shaved. Then I Brought a High School Girl Home, which sounds like a porno) while Horimiya is far more common, even beginning with a rather typical set up of two people meeting casually, one of them being a gloomy looking, depressive, black long haired with glasses otaku that was either bullied or ignored in the past, which is something all otakus has gone through in such stories and arguably in real life as well, immediately making every Twitter anime fan out there to feel identified with, that makes the top girl in his class and school fall in love with him almost right away.

Aside from the last one, those other titles share an uncommon beginning but later on they lose steam because they develop in typical ways, drag more than they need, betray in some level their premises and are left incomplete. Horimiya is the exact opposite by having a far more common beginning, playing around a bit with the stereotypes and expectations of its genre, going a lot faster than the norm and getting a complete adaptation in just one cour.

First, it goes against the initial impression by revealing right away that the protagonist is not a gloomy otaku as everyone thinks he is and he doesn’t look like what he forces himself to look, and reveals the top girl in his class to be a lot different than how everyone thinks she is as well. That’s its main hook, to make you think that you are gonna watch typical characters and then change a bit your perspective about them, while at the same time tapping into themes such as not showing yourself for who you really are because of the others’ perspectives and expectations and because of high school norms, a rather rare theme to see in anime romcoms I think, right now the only other examples like this one that I can think of are KareKano and Ouran High School.

Still, Miyamura feels like a self insert character for otakus at the beginning, because he embodies what the 2000s and early 2010s idea of cool was, with his piercings, chains, tattoos and his very typical “I take my glasses off and brush my hair back and I’m suddenly handsome and awesome” trope, which helped a lot in making the top girl in his class and school fall in love with him. Later on he’s flavored a bit more by revealing that he’s capable of beating the crap out of everyone and has some not exaggerated nor crowd pleasing homo comical bits.

As the episodes go more stuff is revealed about him and he interacts differently with more characters to make him feel like his own being instead of just a flavored combination of different stereotypes, he gets a little development and chatarsis in facing his past and his former self while appreciating how he changed and thanks to who but without disregarding who he used to be.

As for Hori the main girl, I don’t like her honestly and don’t quite grasp why is so cherished by the fandom. She has lots of typical tsundere things such as jumping to conclusions and misunderstanding things rather quickly and getting violent with Miyamura rather easily. Plus I don’t think that her conflict is as big as his, how is having a little brother to take care of and not looking as pretty as everyone made her to be can even compare? I’m not as dumb to notice that she has a tomboyish side that wants to hide from the rest but this series doesn’t do a very good job in exploring that, the previous version is better in that regard, despite still being incomplete. Honestly, the only thing that surprised me about her, and not exactly in a good way, is her unexpected kink.

That’s my initial complain with Horimiya, despite the struggles of the main characters, it doesn’t really feel that important, so yeah the characters later on learned to cope with themselves and reveal who they really are to the rest and that’s it, nothing much changes. Even Miyamura didn’t have that hard of a background story, you were ignored on middle school because of your looks, big deal. It’s a highschool drama after all, so of course I wasn’t expecting much depth or conflict, plus nobody watches a slice of life series for the plot, it’s the characters what grasps the attention of the audience, so I can let it slide.

Still, there were at least two aspects that I would have liked to see more explored, one is the hostility towards Hori’s father in his house which is just treated as a joke and the other is the hint that Miyamura felt so bad for being so lonely, it’s hinted in the series that his parents are usually away and that made him that way, but there’s literally no mention nor exploring of that in the least to make the story and characters even better. At least it was a different take on the usual trope of the protagonist being all alone in his home, in anime it’s usually portrayed as a blessing, here is the reason for a mental scar, even if it’s not a big deal and is resolved rather easily, this feels more real and better in my opinion.

Perhaps the reason for these problems have to do with the so criticized fast pacing, many moments and things were deliberately left out of the adaptation in order to stick to the most important scenes and the finale, and although the series comes off as more focused, tolerable and even enjoyable than the usual dragged on and melodramatic romcoms, at least for an anime only such as me, it does feel like the series moves from one thing to another rather fast and without giving each event that much importance nor having that much build up, it’s not done to the point of feeling like characters are being rewritten just because, but it can, and certainly did bother some people.

Still, I rather have the more believable development of the main couple that is portrayed here, than waiting for no less than thirty episodes for them to hold hands, say each other’s first name out loud, confess, and at best kiss. I mean, we do get all that (and more, although it was only hinted and not as obvious as in the source), and the characters still feel embarrassed and flustered over the pettiest things, but it all happens in half a season.

Still, I want to point out that there are moments when their relationship can come off as a bit toxic and possessive, especially from Hori. I mean, I wouldn’t have issues if the characters said stuff like this is MY girlfriend/boyfriend, but when instead you see characters that say THIS IS MINE or BELONGS TO ME, even at a point when they are still not a couple, it comes off as a bit off putting and cringy, and there are other awkward dialogues as well but that’s to be expected from a title such as this. I guess it was originally written a whole decade ago after all.

The rest of the episodes are dedicated to show more of the secondary characters, who also begin as stereotypes and are eventually shown to be more than just that and have their own stuff to cope with, as well as backgrounds stories to justify their behaviour. Not a big deal, it’s a highschool drama after all, and they don’t have super complicated characters, but it’s enough to make the cast a bit more memorable and better established as a whole than what you usually get in other similar series.

The best thing about the cast, including Hori who until now I more or less made her sound as a monster, is that is far more sensible and mature than their equals in other shows and talk about what bothers them rather quickly instead of making a big fuss over everything and dragging the series unnecessarily. That is something it has over the previous version, which is more dramatic over minor things. The few romances which I didn’t really dislike a lot have that as well (Hikari no Densetsu, Ajimu Beach Story) but I’d say Horimiya is a bit better in that regard for fleshing its cast more, in both quantity and quality, and for managing its narrative a bit better with less flaws aka fleshing them out enough before getting axed and skipping to the end with an out of nowhere time skip. Granted, not every side character is done very well (that lesbian junior and that green haired dude that speaks very loudly), but as a whole they are fine.

The finale felt satisfactory regarding characters arcs and seeing a graduation as just a step towards another phase in life that doesn’t necessarily means no longer being able to see the rest of your friends ever again, istead of the melodramatic end of the world you get on other series, and that’s fine for once.

In terms of presentation, the show has very good visuals, not suffering of obvious quality drops, and in this regard it’s way better than the other version. There are instances when some characters don’t have faces, but it’s done on purpose from the perspective of the characters that feel isolated, so it has a reason in the narrative. The designs are not that unique nor interesting but stand out a little thanks to the rather large and thin figures (not to the point of looking like XXX Holic thankfully) and the characters having their hairs and eyes of the same color, whether that is a good or bad thing is up to you, I didn’t even notice that until someone else pointed that out. The backgrounds are done well and there are effects shown as the characters’ figures presented as some sort of auras slowly coming from their bodies and getting back together during their internal dialogues and monologues, which are quite interesting to see.

As for the sound, I didn’t really feel the opening and ending songs, they are fine for the show, some will find them cute, for me they were nothing special. The voices fit the characters well but I prefer the cast from Hori-san to Miyamura-kun, still this department is serviceable as a whole.

For some final thoughts regarding the hate during the end, perhaps it’s because I’m an anime only but I don’t get it, it’s quite sad to see newer anime fans being spoiled by digital drawn animation and the possibility to acces the source material with ease to the point of complaining about not getting a panel to frame adaptation with 10/10 visuals or saying that an adaptation is shit because it has not that bad CGI for like 5 out of 24 minutes per episode. In this case, I’ve seen people saying that the manga overstays its welcome and drags with pointless stuff after a certain point, and then the adaptation skips all that to the end, and they still say the adaptation is shit for skipping the boring stuff, to me it’s just stupid, but what you gonna do.


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Inuyasha review

Posted : 10 months, 1 week ago on 26 March 2021 12:55 (A review of Inuyasha)

Note: This covers the whole franchise

I began watching anime at a very young age but didn’t know what an anime actually was until my teenage years, where I got to watch InuYasha on YouTube, back in a time where a single episode was divided in at least three parts because the maximum amount of minutes per video couldn’t even reach the 10 minutes mark, the audio and the image usually weren’t aligned very well, most channels would usually take out the openings and endings to avoid any possible copyright, and I watched the latin america dub for that is my native language, which changed a lot of the original dialogue. And despite all that, I loved the heck out of it at the time.

It was combining a lot of different elements and genres to please everybody, it felt like a somewhat refreshing take on what the isekai trend was at the time for not being an isekai, and it was expanding on a similar concept handled by its author on a previous work, Fire Tripper, which received a pretty crappy adaptation. What was there not to like? The series featured a high school girl at the beginning of the new millenium, thus being somewhat relatable to the audience, thrown way back to an era completely different than hers, allowing the series to have both creepy, sad and comical situations from her perspective because of that, it was mixing contemporary and feudal times and it was a blast to see how different the two settings were, and it was an action adventure about searching a macguffin all around the country, filled with nightmarish demons everywhere, giving it a constant sense of urgency. Heck, it even had romantic polygons to please the shippers (usually girls) and badass characters from both genders of that time. It combined action, adventure, romance, comedy, horror and a cool mythological lore which all of that was based on, all of that with a mostly consistent tone with no mood whiplash.

Of course, when you look back at it, there were lots of stuff that weren’t explained in it and that didn’t make sense. The well was working whenever it felt like it, the constant time travel wasn’t affecting the present in any way, the modern elements Kagome was bringing to the feudal era shocking the people from that era was funny at first but it's something that just shouldn’t happen, her family not giving a damn about what could happen to her was pure nonsense, Kikyo was acting like a bitch towards the main group most of the time, and the coexistence of her and Kagome at the same time is hard to accept, the Tessaiga, just like the well, was working however the plot demanded, Naraku giving Miroku a technique that works against him without being able to take it away is plain stupid and as good at the characters motivations and reasoning seemed at first, they eventually come off as stupid the more you watch the show. It was still easy to shut off the brain and enjoy the epic dumb fun displayed on screen…for a while.

Despite its highs and lows, the first twenty or thirty episodes were pretty good not only for the mixed genres and elements but also because every character was important and somewhat tragic and every fight was creepy, intense and had lots of battle choreography and a basic strategy.

After that, the show becomes very repetitive, reuses scenarios and formulas too often, relies heavily on the already high plot armor, InuYasha, Sesshomaru and Naraku are constantly leveling up and making the fights too boring and tensionless and the secondary characters become mostly irrelevant and are reduced to spectators and commentators of InuYasha’s battles and never develop, Kagome is completely useless against normal enemies but overpowered against the main villain to the point of almost killing him a few times, and still not doing so because the writing is poor, Sango forgets her main objective for most of the series, Miroku comes off more and more as a pervert and even a cheater for still touching other women when he was already kind of Sango’s boyfriend, Shippo is reduced to a cute mascot in just two episodes. On top of that, the comedy never changes and the already bad exposition becomes plain terrible, and the romantic aspect, as complex as it seems at first, ultimately comes off as if InuYasha was a two timer that was playing with two different women at the same time and still getting jealous whenever one of them was around other men, before choosing his second option once the first died for good after four or so fake deaths, Naraku was doing everything out of jealousy, which is lame, and so on and so on.

Still, from episode 40 to 50 the show was still kinda watchable thanks to InuYasha slowly opening more to Kagome and her resolution on episode 49, the look into his past, Naraku almost getting the whole Shikon no Tama, and some of his incarnations having a little of personality, objectives and free will on their own.

However, after 50 episodes, everything bad about the show becomes even worse and the series constantly repeats itself with endless filler, and I’m not talking about the original anime content, which yes, it’s there, and it’s usually terrible, but also canon material where the gang still goes around fighting random one time demons in tensionless battles because InuYasha is too powerful by then, almost nothing in the show is worth watching from that point, and the series goes to shit. Even when they try to make you somewhat care with InuYasha’s demonic bloodlust and new techniques, all of that is mostly taken away for you to give a damn.

The show becomes good again for its one and only long arc from episode 102 to 123 because the plot was going somewhere, in a setting with its own lore, the fights were interesting because of the different fighting styles of the antagonists, every character had moments to shine on their own, the antagonists were interesting and had different dynamics between them despite being part of the same group, it has several highlights in terms of interactions among the characters and themes and there are negative consequences once the arc is over.

I mean, the silly comedy, despite being mostly absent, was still there, the exposition was still terrible and the writing was still not the best, since the characters seemed to be stupid at times and the way Naraku was even able to get in Hakurei and become more powerful is a stretch, but as a whole the show was once again almost at its initial level.

But after that the show becomes mediocre at best once again before ending incomplete thanks to all the horrible filler and the repetitive situations and outcomes, at least the artwork remains pretty good up until the end despite the large number of episodes, thanks to the improvement of the original character designs of Takahashi with sharper lines and more facial variety, even if it meant killing the resemblance between Kagome and Kikyo in the manga, which is a big plot point and even if it was easy to tell which enemies wouldn’t last much because of their uninspired designs. The backgrounds were well made although typical and repetitive, the motions were good at first but almost non existent once the battle choreographies were replaced with big light beams of different colors that could kill hundreds of enemies at the same time, and the special effects were very good for the time. The transition from hand drawn to digital was done well despite losing a bit of impact in the character designs and shading.

As for the sound, the voice acting is ok, the sound effects good, the music is very good but not very memorable because, despite being a good composer, Kaoru Wada tends to repeat himself with his works.

Whatever happens afterwards in the manga is pretty cool on paper with newer revelations, powers and incarnations, but the events kept playing out in the same old tired ways, the resolutions were too simple, the power ups were getting out of hand, and the finale was disappointing and had some silly things such as Kagome finishing high school only to leave her family forever and going back to the feudal era, somehow not breaking the time continuity while doing so.

By the time the sequel came out, the visuals and sound were good but the adaptation was so rushed it only made the already poor writing even worse thanks to its super fast pacing, plus lots of people didn’t care about it anymore at that point, because lots of cooler or better similar shows came out between the two series.

There are also four movies in the franchise, but none of them is truly special and they reuse the soundtrack of the series and reflect well the state of the show at the time. They have better visuals than the series but they are simple what if stories that don’t add much nor are very remembered. The first one is (not) remembered for rehashing content from the series, it has lots of action for every character but not much of a plot and it came out after season 2 when the series was already losing steam. The second one is remembered for killing off Naraku in a very disappointing way in ten minutes and because the main couple kiss YAAY, but it’s otherwise a stupid and mostly boring what if scenario where the characters introspect about what they are going to do next before going back to the same thing as before and where the plot gets completely undone by the time the movie is over. It came out after the third season when the series was already shit.

The third one, which came out after the Shichinintai arc when the show was good again, is the best and the only worth talking about, it has great visuals, minus the horrible CGI at the end, it has the fastest pacing and the highest stakes and amount of action with most main characters involved, as well as the most serious tone, it also deals with a somewhat internal conflict within the main demon family in the show and expands on its backstory without contradicting what was stablished in the main series but it is still nothing special, it has nothing to do with the Shikon no Tama and the resolution is simple and obvious, plus it uses simple and somewhat boring elements from the show such as an arm making you able to wield a sword you normally couldn’t use and a demonic sword mind controlling someone. It also has some issues regarding the internal logic of the series, such as:

-The well keeps working however it suits the plot
-Kagome’s spell was useful for once, but the necklace breaks and gets repaired, which shouldn’t happen
-Sesshomaru is able to touch Tessaiga, which shouldn’t happen
-The Tenseiga has abilities non present in the main series. Ironically the movie anticipated the sword getting more abilities later on, and managed to build Sesshomaru’s subtle development, so it’s not completely a minus

And the fourth is easily the worst as it came out after the series was over and sums up the worst aspects of the series and its fillers. It wasn’t the worst in terms of visuals, it’s actually the best in that regard, partially for being animated by Sunrise themselves, which meant not suffering of the lesser character designs from the previous movies, animated by Kyoto Animation. But in terms of story it was about protecting little kids from one dimensional villains, which feels wrong for InuYasha and is much less exciting than saving the whole world from powerful demons, it happens in its own simple setting with its own simple lore, which is told instead of shown and is also literally disconnected from the world around it. But it’s biggest issue is that it has too many characters at once without being well excused by its plot, as it was the case in the third movie, the main ones all conveniently gather in one place and disappear once the script says so because they are no longer required instead of having good reasons for that, the enemies are hyped up as literal gods but they are defeated very easily after powering up, which is lame and the movie is full of forgettable kids with two words of characterization, plus a good chunk of the duration is wasted on silly comedy around them. I mean the comedy is present in all of the movies, thrown in unappropiate moments and very silly ways, but the fourth one takes it to a whole new level.

Then eleven years after the sequel ended, a complete cashgrab of a sequel came out and most people didn’t care about it, again, and was even called BoruYasha by some. Yashahime was completely boring and uninspired, despite having a good artwork, its visual presentation is boring, simple and lacks the cool details of the original, the sound is nothing special because the voice acting is still just ok and most of the soundtrack is rehashed from the original series, and the effects are just ok.

The series relies heavily on rehashing stuff from the original to the point of even causing serious retcons. The well worked because of the Shikon no Tama? Not anymore. Characters died or disappeared on the original series? They are here because why not, InuYasha and Sesshomaru were able to use powerful swords and techniques because of their connection to said items and because they learned how to use them? These three girls can use them however they want with no explanation from the get go and the way their powers work are changed at the end. Did you like how Kagome was bringing stuff from the modern times to the feudal era? Towa does the same.

Do you want an ongoing plot? Too bad because most of the show is wasted on stand alone missions that are resolved too easily and have no connection to the main objective before the series ends incomplete and leaves you waiting for a second season, which causes the main battles and events to play out with an even worse pacing and writing than Kanketsu-hen’s. And yes, InuYasha suffered from that as well but it wasn’t a 24 episode series thus it undeniably had more relevant stuff in it, despite also having more terrible filler.

Do you want good characters with good personalities and backstories? Not here because Moroha has the personality but her backstory is very poorly written nonsense, Setsuna has the looks and backstory but is the most boring of the three because of her amnesia and cold attitude, and Towa doesn’t have anything in her favor, she’s the most inconsistent and stupid of the bunch, she’s presented as a tomboy yet becomes a typical girly high schooler when she goes back to her time, and spits boring moral speeches that usually cause more harm than good, while also doing the most stupid things such as giving her pearl to a fishy guy she likes because she spoke to him a few times.

On top of that there are horrible fillers in the series and also very bad messages, such as putting an addiction to a cellphone (which is never shown clearly in the series) in the same level as a toxic and possesive love, or the brooming present in the series that was criticized by most, even if it was still well received by some shippers. Age is not the problem here, since Sesshomaru is a young demon and girls becoming wives and giving birth when they are teens wasn’t considered weird in that era. It’s the betrayal of the character dynamics what caused the complaints. Rin was supposed to be sort of a daughter to Sesshomaru, slowly making him care about humans, not a love interest to bear his children and not seeing him ever again, with no build up towards that change, thus it was Usagi Drop all over again.

It is also inconsistent in some elements, such as Setsuna losing control of her demon powers because she’s a half demon, but not Towa and Towa losing her powers once a month like InuYasha because she’s a half demon, but not Setsuna. There’s also the fact that Moroha’s shortcomings for being a quarter demon work however it suits the plot at the moment.

Plus the fights are boring and the enemies are defeated way too easily, except for the epic final fight which still suffers from being way too fast paced, with asspulled powers that are changed from how they were throughout the whole series, and the characters’ motivations and courses of action changing a lot in just two episodes, before leaving the series incomplete with the expectation of a sequel that who knows when it’s going to come and if it gets any good.

I will at least accept that there are a few decent things in Yashashime, the main antagonist is a honorable and respectful warrior that seems to have good motives behind, but is boring as a villain because he’s nowhere near as schemy and backstabbing as the cowardly bastard Naraku, and he doesn’t achieve anything at the end and his objectives remain unknown because of the open ending. The lore is expanded in the series and although it feels kinda like the needless continuations of Dragon Ball at times (because they introduce stuff that was supposed to always be there even if it was never mentioned in the original series), it was still pretty cool and does fit the initial concepts, and the older cast overshadows the newer one with just a few minutes of screentime, and the motivations behind the whole thing are not (just) unrequited loves and complicated love polygons.

Thus, nostalgia aside, the franchise was nothing special and was beloved at the time because we didn’t know better, and rewatching the franchise made that perfectly clear, my ratings for the different entries are as follows:

-A somewhat generous 6/10 for the third movie for being the best and most consistent entry in the franchise, yes, this is as highest as it gets.

-A 5/10 for the original series and manga, for being overall cool and starting strongly, but also dragging the plot a lot with poor writing before finishing in a disappointing way.

-Another 5/10 for the first movie for having cool action but not much plot.

-A 4/10 for Kanketsu-hen for messing the adaptation of the final parts of the manga with its super rushed pacing and another 4/10 for the second movie for being a boring build up to a finale that erases its whole plot.

-And finally a 3/10 for the first Yashahime season and the fourth movie, for being the worst and most stupid entries in the franchise.



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Usagi Drop review

Posted : 10 months, 3 weeks ago on 8 March 2021 01:44 (A review of Usagi Drop)

The best thing about Usagi Drop is that everyone knows about it and its finale thus you don’t necessarily have to hold back in what you say when you talk or write about it, but I’ll try to do it anyways while I cover both versions.

There are a good bunch of manga and anime about someone taking care of a child all by themselves but Usagi Drop has the unorthodox approach and quick progression of having a thirty years old man adopting his illegitimate 6 years old aunt, the kind of stuff that makes you raise an eyebrow and check the source out of curiosity alone.

And then you get a sweet and wholesome slice of life and coming of age feel good type of series centered in how the life of the adult, Daikichi, changes completely now that he takes care of a child, from small changes like doing a little more excercise or changing a bit his diet, to more drastic changes in his daily rutine and even changing his job in order to spend more time with Rin and take care of her properly. There’s also a good focus on his own insecurities (as well as others’) as a father figure and how he deals with stuff while he learns from other parents he interact with, as well as he actually tries to communicate with Rin’s mother.

As for Rin, she begins as a melancholic child, sad, silent and distant child because of her backdrop but learns to open up to others rather quickly, this results in a character that is both adorable due to her fondness of bunnies (which remind me of Yuzuyu from Aishiteruze Baby) and other kids things she does, yet at the same time is quite mature for her age, making her a very likeable character, even if her characterization definitely does not represent a typical girl of her age.

There are more characters of course but none of them gets as much focus as the main pair, they all have some backdrop stories, their own way to deal with parenting, and all are lively and likeable in their own way, but their role in the show is to further enrich the dynamics between Daikichi and Rin more than providing something on their own, and their backstories are mostly told instead of shown.

The quick and rather unorthodox setup and all the stuff that happens, along with the character dynamics are what make the show worth the watch instead of the actual plot, which is basic and simplistic and has some issues which I want to adress here. First, the message is that, despite the fact that now your life has changed completely and that now you have to make a lot of sacrifices, all of that is worth it if you manage to make your child happy, which in turn will result in your own happiness. That is sweet and all, no problem with that, but why does the series makes it sound that Daikichi’s life outside of his role as a father is now…kinda…completely over?

This is an issue I have with anime and teenagers’ mentality, you’re not old at your thirties and your life does not necessarily has to be completely dedicated to your kid, you can still have stuff and time for you alone…I mean Daikichi and Yukari are single so it makes sense for them to be completely dedicated to their children but what about the other parents that are married? They sound as if their lives are completely the same as Daikichi’s when it should not.

And seriously, does not the author and any teenager knows about people in their thirties that still go outside sometimes, begin a new family, or a new career? They would be shocked to see what thirty, forty and even fifty years old people are like in my country. This issue only grows stronger in the second half, after the time skip, but I want to leave that for later.

And I have to point out this about Mariko’s story, she is in a relationship she doesn’t want to, and in a family she doesn’t feel part of, for her daughter’s happiness, yet I don’t think a child can possibly grow happy in a family like that. This portrayal in particular wouldn’t be accepted as proper theme exploration in our times, but I guess it’s a japanese story after all, and was made a while ago, and there are women like that, so I’ll have to accept it, but I wanted to point this out. She still left her husband in the second half out of screen so all of this was pointless though.

Another thing with the setup is that, despite Daikichi feeling and saying that his life has changed completely, we don’t actually see any of that previous life he talks about before we see him as a father figure for Rin, as with most characters’ backdrops, it’s implied or told instead of actually shown thus it’s hard to actually understand this supposed big change.

And finally there’s the fact that, as a wholesome and sweet feel good type of everyday life story, Usagi Drop has no conflict to make the plot and subject more compelling, Daikichi has it a little easier than the rest because of Rin’s rather mature side, he gets all the paperwork needed for the adopting and the inscription on kindergartens and schools all too easily and stuff, there aren’t any different takes on parenting and conflicted characters about parenting (as it was the case in Aishiteruze Baby) nor any sense of urgency (as it was the case in The Pursuit of Happyness). This doesn’t mean that Usagi Drop is a bad show nor does it handles its theme poorly, is just that it does a good job for its genre, but does not takes an extra step to be even better.

Compared to the anime, the manga has obviously slower progression, some differences in how some things play out and I think Daikichi has more or at least longer internal monologues, thus I found it to be slightly better than the anime up until chapter 24.

As far as the production in the anime adaptation goes, it did a wonderful job in traslating the story to its medium, the manga has a serviceable art style that becomes better as it goes on, but the artwork remains simplistic all the way to the end, and the backgrounds are often absent. The anime has basic and simplistic designs with facial repetition among its characters, but the artwork is far better, the backgrounds are breathtakingly beatiful, and it of course benefits from its lively body language, fluent motions and pastel special effects that are used at times. It’s so rare to get a slice of lice series that wasn’t made by Kyoto Animation that pays so much attention to detail and artsy elements in its visual presentation.

As for the sound, both the opening and ending are made to sound as innocent and pure as possible, and the background music is made up almost completely of sweet piano pieces. Nothing really memorable but all of it fits the tone and feels the series was going for pretty well. The sound effects are appropiate and the voice acting is spot on, every character has a voice that fits them well, there aren’t that many famous voice actors but those that appear in the series does not sound like their typical roles thus they managed to stand out amongst the rest of their very similar roles (Kana Ueda), everyone did a good job, even the children who were voiced by actual kids.

Thus despite its actual quality being way too exaggerated, Usagi Drop is a fairly well made feel good slice of life series with an interesting premise and an acceptable portrayal of its theme within its genre, as well as loveable characters with good interactions between them, and a much better than needed presentation. And for once, leaving it incomplete worked in its favor because the second half of the manga dropped the ball so hard it made a hole in the ground, good job IG.

After chapter 24, the series makes the common mistake of relying on a big time skip which in this case skips the process of how parenting changes along the years and makes the characters change a lot out of screen, both in body and personality.

What follows after that is a boring and uninteresting high school drama romance that is not about the initial subject anymore, nothing feels important, the character dyamics changed a lot out of screen as well, the biggest conflicts now are that Kouki used to have piercings and red hair, and that Rin and Reina want boyfriends now, who cares about all of this?

I don’t want to sound like a hypocrite, since Aishiteruze Baby also has high school drama and romance, but over there it wasn’t presented after a big time skip, it served to develop the characters and their relationships, and the author more or less tied it up with the main subject, over here it feels like the author didn’t know what to tell anymore.

It’s not that I’m against the idea, I’m against having elements that have nothing to do with the initial hook, on top of being far less interesting. Showing parenting now with teenagers instead of kids could be interesting as well, but that’s not the focus here. And now the message is lost even further, now the kids are not kids anymore yet the adults are still reluctant to find happiness on their own, why? It doesn’t make sense anymore. Showing Daikichi and Yukari having feelings for each other, not getting together because of their kids and then having her marry a random guy that is not shown even once was pure bullshit. I already complained about this “you’re now too old to live your life” mindset and this second half of the manga only made it way worse.

But despite its lows, the adaptation could have been continued a bit further, because there’s a whole volume about Rin wanting to meet her mother, which makes perfect sense, and the manga shows how she finds her name, all the procedures she goes through, little discussions with Daikichi because of that, good stuff. The only minor complain I have is that the reunion itself was very lighthearted, but I’m willing to say that it was still ok because of Rin’s mature attitude, fitting with her personality, and because of her realization that she does not feel that woman as her mother and that Daikichi and the rest are her actual family.

I’m in favor of this type of message, although the people that gave birth to you is undeniably related to you, that doesn’t mean that they are your actual family, especially if they abandoned you, family is the people you grew out with and that cared about you, blood related or not. Thus I think that the anime could have shown the time skip and avoid the silly high school drama to adapt the 7th volume up until chapter 43 and this message, which would have make a perfect ending for this story.

But then the author pissed all over her own story, themes, message and characters from chapter 44 onwards by changing the series completely to a disgusting romance with incestuous vibes, even using the tropes of not blood related relatives, parents that aren’t biological parents, and betraying her own messages along the whole series up until even the exact previous volume. This was a story about parenting and all of a sudden turned into a disgusting telenovela with all of its stupid tropes and plot twists, with rushed revelations to make it even worse. On top of that, after the manga was finished, the author decided to release an extra volume showing stories that take place between those ten years, that only added more salt to the wound. Some of them were shown in the anime specials, but they mean nothing on their own, they are short side stories that don’t add much. In the manga, they only aided in reminding you of what could have been shown instead of the stupid highschool drama, and how good the series was before it was ruined, they show some characters backdrops along those ten years but what does it matter at that point? That should have been shown earlier to make people care, not once the story was over.

And that’s how a perfectly serviceable heartwarming story was ruined because of its author just to be original (although it wasn’t) and to subvert expectations, betraying its premise, setup, character dynamics, development and themes along the way. Shotout to Production I.G for realizing this bullshit and deciding to stop the adaptation midway, now go consume Aishiteruze Baby instead…and Koi Kaze if you happen to want more of that other stuff.

Anime 6/10
Specials 5/10
Manga 4/10


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Aishiteruze baby review

Posted : 11 months ago on 26 February 2021 12:24 (A review of Aishiteruze baby)

I wanted to watch this title since I watched Usagi Drop in 2017 because it was recommended as something similar in any database you go to but I didn’t because I was watching a lot more things. Anyways I finally watched it last year and read the manga two weeks ago and I’m very pleased with what I found in them. This review will cover both versions.

The first thing that needs to be clarify about Aishiteruze Baby is that, despite being compared with Usagi Drop, it doesn’t have a father-daughter relationship and instead features a high school playboy that all of a sudden has to take care of his five years old cousin, which is more interesting because it can lead to much more character development.

And it does, throughout the show, Kippei gradually turns from a playboy that does nothing but fooling around with different girls and is a complete disaster at school to a caring man taking care of Yuzu the best he can, learning things about her and parenting along the way. His change is so drastic it even surprises the rest of the cast. It will perhaps feel sudden for some people but I didn’t have any issues with it.

As for Yuzu, what can I say? She’s a five years old girl that was basically abandoned and still tries to stay positive while she learns lot of things in her everyday life. Unlike Rin in Usagi Drop, Yuzu is not mature for her age in the least, she views everything with a simplistic mindset and often misunderstands what happens and people’s intentions. At the same time, she’s an emotional mess since she was abandoned and is thus very emotionally dependent of others, which is something she more or less learns to handle along the way.

The show also spends some time in building an emotional connection with some of her belongings that were left behind by her mother and how she eventually grows out of them while also showing how she slowly starts to forget her mother as a consequence of being apart from her.

At the same time, she has some comical quirks as expected from a girl her age, such as imitating the way bunnies jump from time to time. In other words, her characterization is very solid, she’s both adorable and somewhat tragic, grows along the way and really feels like a five years old kid, except for the annoying moments that every kid has at that age, if something can be criticized about her characterization, that would be it, but I don’t think anyone watching the anime or reading the manga would complain about that.

The show does not stop at the wholesome semi big brother-young sister relationship between these two and features a bunch of secondary characters to deal with the subject matter even further. On one hand, this means a lot of secondary characters are also fleshed out, which is a plus but on the other hand it also means that almost every single person but the main family in the show has family issues. It is necessary for theme exploration but man does it feel kinda convenient that lots of characters go through similar problems at the same time. I still give it a pass because is basically the series telling you that in reality there’s no perfect parenting, but it can become a little repetitive for some.

I can at least appreciate the different takes of the subject through them. There’s of course Kippei who has good intentions but messes up most of the time because of his inexperience, there’s Yuzu’s mother who, despite being an adult, is completely unprepared for such role, there’s Kota and his abusive mother, who thankfully is portrayed as a conflicted person and not a one dimensional evil mother as it was the case with a certain once famous show about time travel that deals with a similar theme in a way that feels ridiculous and impossible to take seriously.

And then there’s Miki, by far the lowest point in this series. Her introduction is very sudden, her interactions with the other characters is not bad but her backstory is completely ridiculous and edgy. It may have made a little bit of sense almost twenty years ago when the manga was being published and the anime aired but even then, it was very over the top and by now is the type of stuff that makes you drop a show and label it as ridiculous. I would put it almost at the same level as the stupid backtory of a character that I’ll just name as chocolate girl from that certain other show. Thankfully she disappears after a few episodes.

Then there’s Kokoro’s case, by far the most similar to Yuzu’s and the one that strikes the most as kinda convenient (for having two people knowing each other and both of them with similar cases) but that is what makes them undestand each other in the end and thus it works well in terms of interactions between them. The best thing about her is that, despite having her father with her, he’s absent, thus showing that even when a parent is there, it doesn’t necessarily means that they are doing a good job.

With all that said, I have to admit that the series explores the theme on a basic level and the resolutions are always simplistic, not bad nor superficial but definitely not in a way that feels mindblowing, or revealing/eye opening, is a wholesome slice of life series first and a human drama after. There are some things that come off as a bit melodramatic and are hard to take seriously (what happens with Yuzu’s crayons at the beginning of the show) and you have to suspend your disbelief a little with this show, but outside of Miki’s backstory, it never reaches a point where it breaks your immersion.

Kokoro also brings the romantic element of the show as she’s the one that, along with Yuzu, turns Kippei from the mess he begins as to the young family man he is at the end. The relationship between them develops along the series and although, yes, is highschool teenage drama, is never exaggerated nor melodramatic. I kinda did a spoiler there, didn’t I? Well, in my defense, the show spoils it in both the opening and the ending so it doesn’t make much difference, and the outcome is kinda obvious anyway.

Then there are some more secondary characters and they also have a bit of their own storylines but are not related to the main theme, they are there to flesh out the secondary cast and flavor the series but not much would be lost if all of that wasn’t shown.

In terms of presentation, the manga has a very typical and simplistic shojoish art style that improves a little by the end and the anime makes a good job in translating it faithfully to its medium but its quality is very by the numbers, even for 2004 standards it was very average leaning a little to a below average level for its time and by now it looks like shit. The character designs are generic, quality drops are ever-present, the backgrounds are not finished at times (quite often, I must say), motions are as simplistic as they can and there are rarely any effects that stand out.

When it comes to the sound, the music works well for the type of show and helps to make some scenes a bit memorable but is not really amazing and the sound effects are…there. As for the voice acting, is to the most part just plain awful. Whether they were newbies or veterans, none of them did a convincing job. Yuzu’s voice actress can be forgiven because she was literally a kid but not excused, a decade later Rin from Usagi Drop, Naru from Barakamon and Tsumugi from Amaama to Inazuma were all performed by girls in her tens as well and they all did a much much better job.

And even leaving Yuzu aside, the rest have no excuse, especially Kokoro’s voice actress who sounds bored and emotionally absent all the time, making her emotional scenes lacking a little bit every time.

And now for a short comparison between the two versions:

-Since the chapters of the manga are about 30 pages long each, the conflicts in the beginning are resolved in one of two chapters at first, so the anime stretched them out a little to last between two or three episodes, aside from obviously making the scenes to last longer than one or two panels. It makes them feel more important without slowing the pace much. Miki’s backstory was more tolerable in the manga though.

-It gives some secondary characters a little more spotlight, it was unneeded but welcomed. At the same time however, the manga has some other secondary stories that were mostly or completely absent in the adaptation (mainly the sister’s) but even then, the manga doesn’t focus on them that much, sadly.

-It makes Yuzu’s mother less unlikable by skipping something but at the same time it never shows the resolution of her “character arc” (which happens mostly out of screen anyways).

-It changes a whole arc from the manga by skipping it almost entirely, on one hand, the arc was a bit melodramatic so keeping it out of the picture was perhaps for the best, but it was also a major point in the development of Kippei and Kokoro’s relationship that even has a big impact in the next arc and the ending, and it doesn’t happen in the anime.

-Both versions have different endings and neither of them are completely satisfactory, but not bad either. The anime ends by adapting a litte from a certain volume and mixing it with the final volume but is to the most part an open and ambiguous finale that feels like a “and they were happy” one. The manga has a more complete resolution but it came out almost out of nowhere, making it seems like the manga was doing poorly before rushing the resolution as quickly as it could before making a time skip that doesn’t show most of the characters.

Unexpectedly, three kinda similar show came out last year and none of them are on par with this one or Usagi Drop. Somali to Mori no Kamisama has a feel of adventure and tragedy but its theme of racism is very superficial and is incomplete, Kakushigoto fools around for most of its duration before trolling you with a non tragedy ending and Taisou Zamurai didn’t have that much father-daughter relationship and was filled with random stuff. Compared to Amaama to Inazuma, this series does not reduce parenting to just feeding a child and that’s it. Heck, Aishiteruze Baby is even better than Usagi Drop in my eyes for doing a lot more with its theme, fleshing out more characters and for not going the same disgusting path during its second half in the manga. And I have watched Kurenai recently and the less I talk about that mess of concepts and themes the better.

Thus, despite looking and sounding like shit and not being anywhere close to amazing, it manages to be the most meaningful and best show of its kind that I watched up until now (I still have some similar shows to watch, such as Akachan to Boku) despite being the oldest, for being longer and more focused, and for fleshing out its characters far more than the rest.



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