Episode One-Derland | Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto

Plot: If perfection exists, it’s personified as Sakamoto. He’s gorgeous, gets perfect grades, is extremely athletic, oozes charm and has pretty much everything go in his favor. Even when jealous classmates try to take him down, he easily comes out on top with style.

Breakdown: This series was suggested to me a while back, and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed the first episode very much. It’s a pretty unique premise – amping up the idea of this perfect golden hot guy character to insane levels and being so over-the-top with him that it’s actually very funny.

The world was easy to build and the characters just as easy to introduce. They seem like largely one-off characters besides Sakamoto, though, as it seems to be a repeating cycle of ‘Rrrgh I hate Sakamoto because he’s so perfect and gets all the attention. I will sabotage him!’ *sabotage fails* ‘I now love Sakamoto!’

I did think this episode had the most boring opening scene I’ve seen in a long time. Just having a faraway shot of three boys bouncing a ball back and forth with the most minimal animation they can muster as they talk about Sakamoto for about two minutes. What’s even worse is this is a running gag….

Sakamoto, as a character, is obviously super cool and exaggerated. He does everything with this flair that would otherwise come off as odd in other shows, but everyone fawns over here. He is truly perfect, and that makes for some great comedy

However……..that’s also my main concern with this show.

This series is 13 episodes long, and each episode seemingly has two stories in it. I don’t think this premise is strong enough to uphold 13 (technically kinda 26 I guess) episodes. It’s funny to see Sakamoto perfect himself out of so many situations and see how the sabotage/challenges of his fellow classmates fails over and over, but he’s too perfect. I already know he’ll come out on top in every situation without even trying. Part of the fun is figuring out how he’ll get out of it, but you still know he inevitably will.

How many times can you see him stylishly do something amazing before it gets old?

And how long can a character who is seemingly perfect from all angles carry a show? He’ll certainly never grow or have challenges to overcome, so the entire series is reliant on his shtick being strong enough to carry 13 episodes/26 stories, and I’m really unsure about that. Some of the situations are quite funny even without him, like the plot with the bee, but Sakamoto’s the main focus, so it’s iffy.

The art and animation are quite nice, even if those faraway shots make me think they’re cutting corners to save money for the more complex animation, which is fin. Sakamoto’s scenes have to be as stylish and sleek as possible.

The music was also fairly unique and pretty nice.

Verdict:

Continue Yes

Still unsure as to how much fuel this sparse plot can power this series for, but I enjoyed myself quite a bit in this opening episode, so I look forward to continuing it.


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Episode One-Derland | Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

Plot: The future is uncertain – whether for good or bad. But one thing is certain – Mirai hates pretty much everything, by her own admission. She’s annoyed by school, her parents, her little brother, Yuuki, and believes nothing good ever happens. The world can fall apart for all she cares. But what happens when the world literally falls apart around her head when a massive 8.0 earthquakes destroys everything around her?

Breakdown: (Note: Cards on the table, this article is actually kinda old. I finished Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 quite a while ago now (Full review will come sometime down the line). Still wanted to post this, though, in case anyone was interested. Thanks for reading~)

Hmmm……..how is it possible that I don’t hate the main character? She is one of the grumpiest most temperamental teens I’ve seen in fiction in a long time. But at the same time, she shows a likable side, and it’s not like this behavior is abnormal. She’s a teenage girl who finds herself unhappy with life. And every time she tries to get invested in something, it gets ruined in some way, but in minor ways – ways that are minor inconveniences to most people, but, to a hair-trigger teen, would seem like they’ve just destroyed everything.

For instance, she wants to buy a cute ribbon for her mom for her birthday but someone else grabs it. Even when they try to give it back to her, she just pouts about it and has a fit after. She gets into driving a little robot thing, which I assume will be reincorporated later since it was specifically designed for recovery missions in disaster zones, but someone gets all irritated at how long she’s taking, so she pouts and walks off.

There was one time where I think she was just being stupid. Her mom buys cake FOR HER OWN BIRTHDAY because I guess everyone else just forgets. She doesn’t want any cake for herself since she’s on a diet, and her mom has to go to work too, so she leaves it to everyone else, but Mirai gets all pissy because…..the cake is in wedges and isn’t round.

She actually complains to her mom about that. And then later she mocks her mom behind her back about this “Who doesn’t know birthday cakes are round?” Like, how entitled are you when you’re complaining to your mom and your friends about the SHAPE of your MOM’S birthday cake that SHE BOUGHT HERSELF. Bear in mind, she only bought this cake for them, too, considering she wasn’t going to have any.

Her family as a whole is very realistic as well. Her father is a bit of an indifferent ass. He doesn’t really give any thought to Mirai telling him that it’s his wife’s birthday. He steps on a bunch of chips on the floor left out by either Yuuki or Mirai and he really doesn’t do anything about it besides complain a little. When their mom comes home and instantly starts warming up dinner, he starts to complain about how late it is and puts the blame of his whining on the kids who hadn’t even talked about dinner up until that point.

Their mom is pretty likable. She gives Mirai chores and responsibilities, actions which are, of course, viewed through the lens of a teenager as proof of her being a relentless slave driver, and she works a lot, but she obviously cares about her family a great deal. She never seems like she’s unreasonable to me, even if she does lose her temper once.

Finally, there’s Yuuki, who is just a sweetheart. He loves all of his family, is really polite, kind and generally happy. Even when Mirai is being a complete bitch to him, he still tries to keep his head up and even cheer her up.

Back to Mirai, she’s having a bit of an existential crisis in that she has an assignment over summer break about where she sees herself in ten years, and she really doesn’t know. She has no direction and no interests besides her cell phone, which is quite typical of a teenager. Just when all of her troubles start to bubble over, the earthquake starts.

The scene with the earthquake was extremely well done, but it came so late in the episode that we didn’t get the absolute full scope of the damage, which is a fine decision as I’m certain we’ll see plenty of it later.

As an intro episode, it does a great job establishing the characters and the main conflict for the entire series. I can imagine the beats the show will take, but I won’t be so presumptuous as to assume everything will be predictable.

The art is kinda simple, though I do think the way the smiles are drawn is adorable. And the animation is extremely fluid. It really looks great.

As for the music, it’s alright. I didn’t have a strong reaction to the opening theme, but I really enjoyed the ED, and the BGM was pretty good.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

I’m really looking forward to the rest of this series. I’ve heard really good things about it, and it has a pretty unique premise, so I think I’m in for a good experience.


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Episode One-Derland: Red Garden

Plot: Kate, Rachel, Claire and Rose are all from different walks of life, but they have one thing in common – they’re dead….But not really. Well, yes, they are, but they’re still walking around and interacting with people – anyway, they don’t remember anything about the night they died, but mysterious ‘teachers’ show up to guide them…to murder?

Breakdown: I had plot synopsyes from other websites that I could have ripped from, but I like writing my own. So if that plot sounds confusing it’s only because this first episode is really confusing.

I didn’t know much about Red Garden going in and I pretty much still don’t, even after reading a couple of reviews on it. It tends to get middle of the road reviews, and that seems to be because the final four episodes are terrible. Several reviews I read treated this series as if it would have been near masterpiece level had the ending four episodes not been so rushed and terrible. The THEM review on it made it sounds like a damn car crash of plot development.

To tell you the truth, that almost put me off altogether, because I can stand watching a bad anime or just a couple of episodes of a bad anime to get my chuckles in, but if you give me a good anime and then tell me its finale is terrible, I feel like I’ll be investing a lot just to end up disappointed.

One of the reasons for the initial confusion is that the first episode keeps jumping between the girls. For a good chunk of the run time, it’s just constantly reminding us that the girls don’t remember what happened the night before and they’re all sleepy and feeling ill.

The opening scene does show all of the girls, now unconscious, being transported back to their houses, and we learn a friend of Kate’s, Lise, went missing and was found dead in the woods under mysterious circumstances. Everything culminates in the end with all of the girls being lead to a location in a park by a bunch of butterflies that only they seem to be able to see. They meet two people, clad in black, who introduce themselves as their teachers before instructing them to kill a nearby man who turns out to be a monster.

It’s staged very much like a thriller, which I like, but it doesn’t change the fact that the first episode is confusing. I think it does enough to keep my attention and make me want to learn more, however.

The art and animation will take some getting used to. Everyone’s very lanky with big lips and smaller eyes than you typically see in anime. It’s not really bad, but it’s just weird to me. Not my cup of tea.

The music in general is pretty nice and the voice acting is also decent.

THEM noted that this series has a very awkward habit of having the girls, for no reason, suddenly break out into sad songs and mentioned that their voice actresses just could not sing worth a damn. I honestly didn’t think anything of it when I read that, but when Kate started singing….yikes.

I was going to give her some slack because she was grieving her friend so it was probably just her emotions affecting her voice, but…..no. There’s a difference between putting emotion into your voice and sounding like someone is gently strangling you as you sing. I shouldn’t be visibly flinching at points during your song.

Continue Yes

While I am going to be very wary of the final four episodes, many people still seemed to enjoy it in its entirety just fine, and I think it’s worth a roll of the dice. Nothing’s really reaching out to me as ‘masterpiece’ worthy or even all that great, but I still think it will be interesting and hopefully explore some cool ideas.


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Animating Halloween | Episode One-Derland: Jujutsu Kaisen

Plot: The world is riddled in curses – demon-like creatures that consume humans and other curses in order to become stronger. They’re usually invisible to the human eye, and people called Shamans are sent out to dispatch the curses and cursed charms in order to protect the world from harm.

Yuuji Itadori is not one of those people….Yet. He has insane levels of strength and speed, making him a much sought after asset to all of the sports clubs in school, but Yuuji would rather hang out in the occult club with his friends. Being in the occult club is not only more fun and less stressful than the sports clubs, but it also allows him to regularly leave school at 5PM. Yuuji needs this time open in order to visit his ailing grandfather in the hospital everyday, much to his grandpa’s annoyance.

His grandpa suddenly tells him to not live his life as he did – with no friends and hardly anyone around during his last days. He tells Yuuji to live a good life, make friends and die surrounded by people. As he utters these words, Yuuji’s grandpa suddenly passes.

Fueled by his grandpa’s final words, Yuuji becomes determined to ensure everyone has a proper death, even risking death himself to save others from a terrible fate. His newfound mission in life leads him to making a reckless decision that forces him to become the host of the curse, Sakuna.

Breakdown: “Twix! Another series that debuted very recently?! Please seek medical attention, for you are surely ill!”

Ahhhh, hate to disappoint anyone who thought I was starting to keep up with current series, but someone just asked if I was going to do this series for Animating Halloween and I had never heard of it before, but I was still like ‘Okay!’ So here I am. That’ll show you for thinking I’m hip and hoppity with the current anime the youth today is jamming with.

Jujutsu Kaisen does a very good job at drawing you in from the get-go. It starts with a scene in which our main character, Yuuji, is tied up and someone is telling him that he’s set for execution before we get our theme song and flashback to how we got to this point.

Outside of that it’s…pretty much standard shounen fare. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it runs through a lot of shounen fantasy/fighting tropes. Super kind, goofy and optimistic main character who is also brave, heroic and self-sacrificing? Check. Born with super physical traits like speed and strength? Check. Deeply impacted by the death of a loved one? Check. Deuteragonist who dresses in black is stoic and cold? Check. Bonus points for the wolves being part of his powers. Fighting monsters? Check. Main character getting some sort of insane super power as a last resort to save his friends? Checkaroo.

I was going to argue that maybe him housing a demon/curse in his body was kinda unique, but it’s also…not. I very quickly remembered that that’s basically a shounen/seinen trope too – either housing a demon, being a demon/monster or having dark powers. Naruto, Yusuke, Ichigo, Yugi, Ken, Inuyasha, Eren, I think Asta from Black Clover also qualifies, though I’m not that familiar with the series – hell, you can even argue that Goku kinda falls under this trope too because of his uncontrollable ape form.

They also don’t do much in the way of making memorable monster designs or names for the things. Curses and shaman?

Again, none of this is particularly bad as long as they can package it in such a way that draws my attention and leaves me wanting more, and it did.

I really enjoyed Yuuji. He may be kind of a stock shounen protagonist, but he’s easily lovable and a lot of fun. He’s one of those characters I’d love to have as a friend. He also has a great relationship with the two members of the occult club, though as far as I’ve read on the series they don’t stay on as regular characters, which is a bummer if true. I liked them as characters on their own. They were endearing and really passionate about the occult.

Fushiguro was alright. He was the most flat of the characters, at least so far. Unlike Yuuji, he didn’t shine through enough on his own to bypass his tropes, but he didn’t make me angry or anything. Hopefully, after some time, he’ll shine a bit more.

As a first episode, it does well. It establishes the world and characters decently enough and gives us just enough information to make a solid episode without being a big exposition dump while also ending on a good cliffhanger.

The art and animation are pretty good. Got some nice character designs and interesting shots.

I also enjoyed the music quite a bit too. The OP is particularly catchy.

As for whether this is good Halloween fare so far…well, it’s more simply supernatural than it is horror, but for lighter Halloween fun, this seems to work just fine.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

I had quite a bit of fun with this episode, and I’m interested in seeing where it goes. Not sure it’d stick with everyone who’s a bit over all of the normal tropes, but I think it has enough style to continue working itself out.


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Episode One-Derland – Yashahime: Half-Demon Princess

Plot: Over a decade has passed since Kagome made the decision to stay in the feudal era with Inuyasha and the others. Now a new generation faces the challenges of the demon infested world.

Breakdown: What-what-what-WHAT!? Twix is reviewing a show the same week it premiered?! 2020 IS a crazy year!

As much as Inuyasha tended to irritate me as time went on, I can’t deny that it holds a special place in my heart. So when I heard that they were going to be making a new series based on the children of the original characters, I actually got excited and had every intention on watching it the instant it came out. And I did.

Like many fans of the original, I wondered about who these kids were, who the mother of Sesshomaru’s kids was, what kinds of powers they had, what enemies they’d face, what hopefully Naraku-free threat they’d be facing as the big bad – but I especially wondered where the original gang was in present day. What do they look like? What are they up to? Are they all still alive?

And the answer to all of these questions is!

Pbbbbtttt I dunno.

While I did enjoy watching this episode, I’ll be frank, it’s not a very good first episode. 95% of it is flashbacking to Kagome a mere six months after she decided to stay in the feudal era. The group battles a demon that Kikyo sealed many years ago and….that’s it. It doesn’t reveal absolutely anything more than what we knew of at the end of The Final Act.

And, oh, just for nostalgia sake, let me rant about this, please.

Kikyo……I really, really hoped we would finally be beyond the Kikyo crap. Seriously. It was, by far, the worst thing about the original series barring Naraku being an unkillable pain in the ass. But…nope. Kikyo gets brought up a ton in this first episode, and we get that same old song where Inuyasha keeps information from Kagome because of Kikyo’s involvement and Kagome gets irritated because of it.

I nearly burst a blood vessel.

At the very end, Kagome seems to assert that she was more irritated that Inuyasha didn’t have faith in her to not get upset, but it also contradicts an earlier statement where Kagome was like ‘Nyehh if I was Kikyo, you’d let me do the dangerous battle thing nyeeehhhhhh!’

This had better be just a one-off incident, because I am not about to sit through anymore of this love triangle bullshit – especially when, now, it’s with a fully dead 100% pure grade-A nonliving third party. At this point, all it does is really highlight that Kagome seems like the runner-up here. It probably isn’t going to be constantly happening as I imagine most of the new series from this point on will focus on the new kids (most of the old cast don’t even get shown in the OP and ED) but still…I’m keeping my eye on you Yashahime

That being said, credit where credit is due, Kagome is a lot more tolerable than she was previously. She’s clearly matured and grown stronger and braver. She’s an active participant in battles, she comes up with smart ideas (though sometimes reckless…) and she’s not as hotheaded as she was previously.

Although, I do have to point out something important. Inuyasha still has his curse beads on.

I get it. The ‘OSUWARI/SIT BOY!’ thing is a staple in the series, but it’s also kinda dated. Even halfway into the series, I was wondering why he still had those things on. In one of the movies, the beads actually break and, at the end, Kagome puts a new set on him. It was probably done to meet the status quo with the series, since the movies are questionable in canonicity, but still. Why does she insist on keeping those beads on him?

They were initially put on him to keep him from causing trouble because he was untrustworthy, threatening and wanted the jewel. He caused a lot of destruction trying to steal it when Kikyo was alive. After he mellowed out, the beads were still seen as necessary because he’d sometimes become full-ish demon and the beads would help bring him back to normal. But eventually that also stopped being an issue.

After that, the beads just started being a boyfriend collar, and throughout the entire series Kagome would slam him into the ground whenever she pleased. Sometimes, she’d get so pissed at him, several times completely unwarranted, that she’d do it numerous times in a row.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. They’re also part of his character design. She probably doesn’t even use them anymore. She’s 18 now. She’s matured and level-headed and—she used them in this episode because she was a little bothered that Inuyasha didn’t have faith in her to not get upset over the Kikyo stuff (given that she has such a spotless record in that regard.)

Can we just bite the bullet and say the A-word? It’s abusive.

I think we’ve moved beyond the days of ‘Haha, knocking the guy around is funny because he’s the guy, but if the genders were reversed this would clearly be horrifying.’ Seriously, imagine if Inuyasha put beads on Kagome that slammed her into the ground whenever he got annoyed by her.

I did really enjoy seeing Sesshomaru be a team player in this episode, even assisting Kohaku in his hunt for the demon, though he didn’t directly help. He did visit Rin briefly, but he didn’t say anything to her.

No, it’s still not clear whether she’s the mother of Sesshomaru’s kids. I’d say she’s not because the ages aren’t matching up very well, unless….*barf*, and I have no clue where that red streak in their hair would’ve come from. Setsuna does have the same hair color as Rin, but that’s about it. Setsuna has purple eyes while Towa has red eyes, which don’t line up with either Sesshomaru OR Rin, soo….*shrug*

Anyhoo, let’s finally talk about the new stuff. In the present day…er…the old present day…..not the modern era, we meet Towa Higurashi (As we’ll see later, gauging from the trailers, she was raised by Sota in the present day, so she adopted his last name.) She is the titular ‘Yashahime’ or half-demon princess. She’s been captured by some lord who is interrogating her about modern day stuff they found in relation to Kagome, who at this point is a well-known legend of sorts. One of those items is a Japanese history book, so they want to know what their fate is. Towa freaks out because she doesn’t want to change history.

Let me repeat. Yashahime, the sequel to Inuyasha, is now concerned about the time stream……

Come on, really? They were never, and I mean NEVER concerned about changing the future in the original series. Kagome came and went to the feudal era as she pleased and never once even caused a ripple in the future/present. There were one or two occasions where the presence of the shikon jewel in present day would cause demons to attack there, but that’s about it.

She brought current-day stuff with her all the time and rode around the entire countryside on her ‘iron horse.’ The only time they ever really even touched upon it was when it came to Hojo’s ancestor because Kagome was briefly concerned that she was destined to marry him in the feudal era since Hojo’s other ancestor was named Kagome (then it turned out that past!Hojo just literally renamed his new bride Kagome because that’s not insanely disrespectful or creepy or anything.)

And do I even need to point out the most obvious crime Kagome committed in the time stream in the end? Doc Brown over here decided to LIVE in the past permanently and start a family with Inuyasha.

Why is anything in the time stream at risk now?

Back to the matter at hand, Moroha, a bounty hunter who is Inuyasha and Kagome’s kid, and Setsuna, Towa’s twin sister who is a demon hunter, rush in to save Towa, ousting the lord’s aide as being a mysterious four-eyed owl in disguise. They opt to let it live since it could have vital information. In the end, they grab the modern stuff and leave.

Nope, I’m not kidding. That is all the new kids do the entire episode.

Let me address each kid, though.

Moroha is freakin’ adorable. Her clothes are reminiscent of both Inuyasha’s trademark garb and Kagome’s look when she tried to turn his robe into an outfit for herself. I love that the bow in her hair is also situated to look like dog ears. She both wields a cool new sword AND uses a bow and arrow. She’s clearly adopted more of her father’s personality, but she has Kagome’s overall appearance.

Towa’s got a really nice look. I love the white motif, and the red streak in her hair. Her suit is so awesome. Don’t know why she doesn’t have pointy ears or dog ears since she is half-demon. Setsuna also doesn’t have either. It’s weird, and a bit of a missed opportunity in the design department.

Setsuna is definitely the one who takes after their father most, even if she didn’t acquire his trademark white hair. She’s got his stoic attitude, the armor and, of course, a littler version of Sesshomaru’s fluffy boa. She’s also got a really cool glaive as a weapon.

Other than these three, the OP and ED also show us current-day versions of Kohaku and one of Sango’s three kids. Kohaku has become an awesome demon slayer, and his nephew seems pretty cool and has also become a demon slayer. We catch a brief glimpse of Sesshomaru, though he never ages or changes anyway, and we see just the slightest of glimpses of Inuyasha, but it’s not enough to actually show anything.

Look at that shot of him in the picture above – that’s about the most we see. Why he has his back turned, I don’t know. I’m not even sure every character is shown in present day on that splash image because, as much as I hate to say this, Kaede would likely be dead by then, going by feudal era life spans (she was probably in her 60s or so in the original series, and the average life span back then was about 50 or so.)

The art and animation are updated just a tad. The art stays very true to the original series, and the animation is more fluid with more dynamic shots included as well.

The music is kept very similar to the original. There are many familiar tracks, but also several new ones. The OP and the ED are alright. They might have to grow on me.

The voice acting is really good so far. Many of the characters have returned from the previous series, to my knowledge, and the new ones are pretty good so far as well, especially Moroha’s who is clearly trying to emulate Inuyasha. It’s adorable.

I don’t know if a dub is planned anytime soon, but I’d love to see it, especially considering I’ve never really watched the series in Japanese that often.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

While I will admit that this first episode is, narratively speaking, rather poor form for an introduction, I can’t say I won’t keep watching. Of course I will. The siren call of this franchise is too strong for me. I may even do *gasp* WEEKLY RELEASE UPDATES.

I AM excited to see what happens next, and I am still on the edge of my seat to get a current-day update on where everyone is, how they look and what they’re doing.

However, that’s just my view. This first episode doesn’t work much to get the average viewer excited, though. It was like they bookended Yashahime teasers onto an epilogue episode of The Final Act. We still have no idea what the plot of this series is yet, honestly, besides ‘The kids of the old characters do stuff.’

I feel bad for people going into this blind. You’d be very confused. I hate to say this, but I feel like you’d really have to watch the entire original series to get this off the bat. It’s rather frustrating, too, because they had all the time in the world to actually cover all of the necessary stuff in a manner that would benefit a newcomer, but they just decided to make a mostly irrelevant (?) story instead.

If you enjoy the original series, I think this is worth the watch, but if the original never caught your fancy, I doubt this would entice you much, especially since homework is basically necessary. Maybe I’ll change my tune in that regard once we get further along the line, but as of right now I can’t really think of any way to justify it for newcomers.

Next episode, we’ll be learning about the backstories of the three girls, so we still have a bit more of a baseline to build here, but with this it’s more necessary. I think their origin stories will be pretty interesting from all I’ve heard, so here’s to future episodes!


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Episode One-Derland – Majestic Prince

Plot: Team Rabbits is known as the ‘Fail Five’ in the Military Junior Pre-Academy or MJP where they pilot mechs and train to defend their space colonies from threats. One such colony needs some pilots to buy them time while they evacuate from a massive attack by enemy aliens. Despite their lack of teamwork and sporting the lowest scores in class, Team Rabbits is chosen as that someone.

Even though they have no experience in real mechs, they’re able to pull themselves together and succeed in their mission. When they discover there are civilians left behind with no ships to take them back to safety, their appointed leader, Izuru, takes it upon himself to take a step towards being a hero and goes forth to force the enemy to retreat so he can rescue the colonists.

Breakdown: I love mech anime. Something about giant robots and lasers and space wars is just always really cool to me.

That being said, it’s a bit hard to break out in the genre because a lot of things either seem like they want to be an Evangelion clone or a Gundam clone.

This definitely isn’t gunning for an Eva clone, but it might still be a less-serious Gundam clone. We’ll have to see.

I definitely appreciate the more teamwork-oriented focus this series has. It always seems like it’s one singular protagonist who does all the important stuff or they pretend like it’s a team when it’s really, again, just one person doing everything.

Izuru might be that considering he’s the leader and his one goal in life is, literally, to be a hero, but I’ll reserve judgment.

Each person on the team has their own concrete personalities, though some need a bit more fleshing out like Ataru and Kei. That’s completely understandable this early in the series, though.

Izuru is a very likable protagonist. I like MCs that are really brave and yearn to be heroes, but still obviously have a lot of reservations about what they’re doing. He’s also an artist, so that earns a +1 from me.

Asagi is the hot-head of the group. Kei is the serious one who holds basically a supervisory role in combat. Ataru is the sniper who has much more reservations than anyone, but is also a geek about weaponry and tech.

Then there’s…..*sigh*…Tamaki. I quickly learned to hate Tamaki. No idea why she’s even in this academy. She’s insanely boy-crazy and hardly ever doesn’t think about guys or finding her true love. She’s also clumsy and has such moe characteristics that she even has that breathy whiny baby voice I just wanna stab.

I just don’t know why she’s here. Why is a girl who acts like an infant in a damn military academy?

The mech designs were pretty unique and fun to watch. The fact that the mechs react to their emotional states and thoughts based on their DNA is somewhat unique, and I like that each mech has a specific purpose in combat and they’re not all just ‘robot with gun’ or ‘robot with sword.’

In regards to being a first episode, this one does alright. We establish the main cast pretty well, but the world-building definitely needs work. We can tell they have space colonies and they’re at war (?) but we have no idea who these aliens are or why they’re attacking. They just have weird green mechs and their own unique language. Also, they live on Jupiter, I guess?

The music was alright, but mostly forgettable so far. I have the same notes for the voice work, basically, but damn Tamaki’s voice, seriously. I guess I can’t fault her VA too much, because I can’t say the voice doesn’t fit the character, but it’s so annoying when combined.

The CGI work is really quite good, though the character designs leave something to be desired. They feel very much like a rushed rip-off of Gundam SEED’s style. Some of the details are also very odd, and some characters are simply ugly. I have to roll my eyes at the fact that we have two prominent women in command there and they both look like porn stars. The one who works in the pit has a jumpsuit on and I can’t believe for a second that her boobs aren’t always falling out on the job. They have to be.

I also have to mark off the direction because some of the editing and directorial choices are very unappealing, like sudden quick cuts and the really annoying habit of bobbing the camera and zooming in real quick.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

I’ve heard really good things about this, and even though I was a bit uncertain at first, I’ve been told that it gets much more interesting and intense after a handful of episodes. Let’s see where the journey takes us.


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Episode One-Derland: Made in Abyss

Plot: On the island of Orth, a massive pit called the Abyss beckons explorers with strange creatures and valuable relics. No one knows how deep the Abyss truly is, but cave raiding is so important to the city that even children are put to work excavating the Abyss.

One day, a lowest ranking cave raider, Riko, finds herself in mortal danger only to be saved by a mysterious burning light. The light originated from a boy lying unconscious quite a ways away from her location. She believes the boy to be a robot due to his metal arms, strange metal helmet and oddly textured skin. The boy that she names Reg has no memory of who or what he is, nor does he remember anything about Orth or the Abyss.

What secrets lie within the Abyss? And where did Reg really come from?

Breakdown: I caught a few glimpses of this show in an AMV a while back and it looked interesting. The art style for the characters looked simplistic and the characters didn’t seem like they had much to them, but I was intrigued by the concept and who doesn’t love cyborgs?

Now that I’ve given it a shot, I have to say it seems pretty good. It’s a fairly unique plot and setting, and I’m really curious as to the mysteries of the Abyss, especially Reg’s origins.

They introduce the characters pretty well. Riko is a hard worker, but she’s also a trouble maker. She really wants to rise through the ranks so she can go to the same levels in the Abyss as her mother.

Nat is a bit harder to pin down. He seems less enthusiastic than Riko, but is nice enough.

Shiggy seems like the brains of the group, both making them a plan to sneak into their orphanage and creating a device to awaken Reg.

Speaking of the orphanage, how messed up is this place? Granted, the classroom is awesome, even if it’s an accident waiting to happen with everyone’s desks attached to the walls, but they’re all forced to be cave raiders and give over everything they find to their superiors to help pay for the orphanage.

It’s also really unclear as to whether these are even orphans. The head woman talks about their parents as if they’re still alive maybe, and Riko definitely talks about her mom as if she’s alive.

There’s not much to say about Reg yet. Being a character with amnesia, his dialogue consists heavily of just asking questions and looking around. Plus he’s only been awake for about a third of the episode. He could be a little funny, though.

I don’t know what to make of Leader yet. He seems like he genuinely cares about the kids, but he seems like he’s keeping secrets and might be an asshole deep down.

As I mentioned, the art for the characters is pretty simplistic, foregoing noses and making everyone’s head appear very rounded. It’s not bad, and the animation is very fluid. Plus, the landscapes are really nice. Not as awe-inspiring as I’d really like of a show like this, but very good.

The music is also pretty mellow and nice to listen to, and the voice acting was all very well done even if Riko’s VA was getting a little grating. It’s mostly because she’s one of those characters who basically yells all of her lines.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes


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Episode One-Derland: Ajin – Demi-Human

Plot: Seventeen years ago, humanity discovered the existence of ajin; seemingly immortal beings with other superhuman abilities. Only two have been discovered so far, but interest in the ajin remains extremely high.

Kei Nagai, however, only wants to focus on being a ‘fine human.’ He wants to rid himself of frivolity and study hard to become a doctor. He’s even given up his old best friend, Kai, to achieve it.

Distracted while walking in the street, Kei is suddenly hit by a truck. Everyone watching instantly believes he’s dead. No one could survive a hit like that. Well….no one except…

Breakdown: Ajin: Demi-Human is a title I’ve heard of, but never really learned much about.

The show has a talent at capturing your attention. From the first scene, you’re sucked in by the ajin as one lone ajin takes out an army of people with ease, even taking RPG shots head-on without issue.

Then we shift to present day and our main protagonist, Kei, who is really hard to like or relate with. He has a very odd manner of speaking (Who says their main goal in life is to be a ‘fine human’?) doesn’t ever smile and is a big stick in the mud. Even when he’s a kid, he’s talks like a serial killer who’s too cynical for his age.

He has a flashback to his sister, Eriko, crying over a dead puppy and Kei basically shrugs it off and says “He was sick, so he died. It can’t be helped. Though, what’s the point of dying? Might as well not die.” He’s like six in this flashback, by the way. Not like his mom is much better. She called the puppy ‘defective’ and is the one who basically told Kei to dump Kai as a friend if he wants to be a ‘fine human.’

Kei gets a little better near the end because he actually sucks up his pride and contacts Kai for help, and he shows determination to not ever be caught by anyone, but he was trying my patience for a while.

Eriko is in the hospital for unknown reasons and seemingly hates him now. She’s unpleasant.

Kei’s ‘friends’ at school are two-faced jackasses.

The only one here who seems likable is Kai, who, despite being dumped as a friend, still goes out of his way and risks his life and future to help Kei in the end.

I don’t think I’m really spoiling anything to mention that Kei’s an ajin. He discovers this out of the blue when he gets hit by the truck. Now everyone and their brother are chasing him down.

I say this isn’t really a spoiler because the episode makes is really obvious that Kei’s an ajin even without him getting hurt or nearly killed. His focus on being a ‘fine human’ his inability to ignore news about ajin even when he flatout says he should ignore it because it has nothing to do with his studying, his suggestion that ajin are still humans despite their abilities, showing sympathy for them etc.

I’m a bit concerned that the show might lose tension with this. Immortal characters are, by default, typically boring because you’re never concerned for their welfare. Why would you? They can’t die.

So if you’re not really worried about their safety, you either have to worry about the safety of other characters, of which the only ones I’m really concerned over are Kai and maybe Eriko, or you have to make the immortal character more interesting.

As a first episode, it did introduce us to the world and characters fairly well, and it kept itself grounded enough to maintain a true sense of realism even with immortal beings as the forefront of the plot.

The art and animation are fully 3D CGI, and I have a real problem getting accustomed to that style. It works pretty well here. I don’t feel like I’m watching a half-hour long video game cutscene or anything, but I find myself being pulled out of immersion every so often when I notice the art and animation.

The music is really good so far, even if the background animations for the ED were really depressing. We just keep seeing silhouettes of people killing themselves in various ways.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

While I am a little wary here as I’m concerned this will be an endless diatribe as to why humans suck, which wears on my psyche as episodes go on, I am looking forward to where this story will go.

(Status Update Pre-posting: Completed watching – will post the full anime review sometime soon.)

Recommended Audience: While there wasn’t a whole lot of graphic stuff in this episode, mostly just a couple of people getting shot and Kei getting hit by the truck, neither of which was very notable, THEM Anime Reviews warns that this should be NC-17 due to the intense amounts of gore they’ll presumably have later on, particularly when experimenting on the demi-humans. I can’t make that determination yet, so I’ll just say 16+

 


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Episode One-Derland: My Love Story!!

Plot: A classic love story – a handsome, charming young man saves a beautiful young woman and they fall hopelessly in love. That is the plot….of a different anime.

The plot of this one involves Takeo, a large, traditionally unattractive and somewhat imposing young man with a heart bigger than he is, falling for a beautiful timid girl named Rinko. However, every girl he falls for ends up falling for his extremely attractive and cool best friend, Suna, who coldly shoots down every girl who confesses to him. Believing her to also be in love with Suna instead of him, Takeo decides to take it upon himself to help Rinko win over Suna, even at the cost of his own feelings.

Afterall, a girl so cute and kind could never fall for someone who looks like him……Right?

Breakdown: Romance isn’t my favorite genre, but this series always looked pretty unique to me, and I had heard great things about it.

I’m happy to say that, so far, it’s lived up to expectations, but still has some problems.

Let’s start with the positives. Takeo is a precious cupcake, protect him. He can be a little gross, admittedly, but he’s got a heart of gold and I wish nothing but good things for him.

His relationship with Suna is also really unique and interesting. It must be heartbreaking to be best friends with a guy who, for lack of a better term, ‘steals’ all of the girls you fall for and then brushes them off when they confess to him.

Suna’s not really a jerk, he’s just not interested. And he also doesn’t try to take these girls from Takeo, they just don’t think of Takeo as a romantic prospect due to his size and features and instantly fall for Suna because he’s cool and handsome.

I looked forward to their interactions most of all, because, despite the fact that they seemingly have little in common, Suna is at his most relaxed and happy when Takeo is around, and Takeo is more confident, usually, with him around.

The story is a little on the weak side because the trope of two people falling for each other after the guy saves the girl from someone is so overdone that it probably predates written word. However, it was done in a way that was pretty cute, even if the groper was a complete idiot.

Who, when being accused of groping a girl, in the middle of a police station, in front of a cop, responds to the girl directly accusing him of groping her with ‘You were asking for it, with a skirt so short!’? I know full well that guys do throw around the ‘You were asking for it because of what you were wearing’ garbage ‘excuse’ but realize where you are, dude.

My only other problem is Rinko. She’s a little overly moe. She’s super shy, constantly blushing and has one of those ultra-kawaii high pitched voices that was honestly started to grate on me after a while. I don’t know if this was intentional, but I thought Takeo was more adorable than Rinko was. I’m just kinda sick of her stock character structure. All we need is for her to be clumsy and she’ll win moe bingo.

That being said, I do root for them to be with each other because she is really nice and doesn’t seem at all put off or intimidated by Takeo’s appearance. I also thought it was really sweet, and kinda sad, that Takeo was fine rooting for her to be with Suna and dedicating himself to helping her be with him because all he really wants if for her to be happy, even if it hurts him.

The art and animation is really nice, which is to be expected of a shoujo title. Nothing terribly impressive, but still nice to look at.

The music was alright, but really forgettable. I wrote this only a few hours after watching the first episode, and I can’t really remember anything about the tracks besides that they were fairly typical fare for this type of show. Upbeat and sugary.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

Even though it had some aspects that were kinda cliché and Rinko really needs to do some work to truly grow on me, I really enjoyed this first episode and look forward to watching the rest of the series.

Recommended Audience: Rinko gets groped, but it’s probably the most non-graphic grope I’ve ever seen in an anime. Other than that, nothing. 5+

Episode One-Derland: Kekkaishi

Plot: Yoshimori Sumimura and Tokine Yukimura are the youngest of their rival clans. Their families are heirs to the Hazama style Kekkai technique, giving them the powers to contain, battle and destroy ayakashi – monsters with immense power who threaten the land.

The Kekkai users or Kekkaishi are tasked with protecting the Karasumori school – a building that was built on top of the burial ground of Tokimori Hazama himself. He was born with a strange power that drew ayakashi to him and increased their power exponentially in mere moments. Even after his death, the power still resonates within the school grounds.

A young Yoshimori used to want nothing more than to shrug off his responsibilities as a Kekkaishi. He hated the constant training, always getting his battles interrupted by Tokine, the fact that his older brother seemed more suited for the job despite not being a legitimate heir, like him, and the fact that their roles as Kekkaishi put a real strain on his and Tokine’s friendship.

Tokine, on the other hand, loves her role as a Kekkaishi and excels at it. She’s stern with Yoshimori, but only because she realizes what a dangerous and important job it is.

One day, Tokine badly wounds herself trying to protect Yoshimori from an ayakashi that he failed to properly dispose of due to being tricked by it. Ever since that day, he’s felt a heavy burden of guilt and has vowed to become stronger so he won’t get anyone hurt ever again.

Breakdown: Hey, it’s Kekkaishi! That show everyone’s heard of, but no one ever seems to talk about ever.

Even when this show was airing on Toonami/Adult Swim, I really heard no one talking about it. The best I managed was someone mentioning the OP on a ‘Best Anime Opening Theme Songs’ list, and I’d agree with that.

I caught a bit of the show here and there when it was airing on TV, but it never caught on with me for some reason.

Now that I’ve finally sat down and given it a full chance, I’m happy to report that I really liked it.

Is it breaking new ground in the shounen genre? No. At the end of the day, it’s still a show where it’s the MC’s ‘destiny’ to beat monsters and protect the land and those he cares about. At the very least, he’s not a prodigy MC. In fact, he’s quite inept, at least so far, at being a Kekkaishi. Even when we cut to present day where he’s older and more focused, he’s still overly headstrong and makes a bunch of mistakes.

The thing more people remember about this show, at least I do anyway, is the unique aspect of the glowing boxes, also known as Kekkai. Despite just being, well, glowing boxes, they’re useful for a plethora of purposes, and it’s a welcome change up from the typical ‘blam-blam Imma firin’ mah lazar’ powers most supernatural shounen shows get.

As a first episode, it lays down the groundwork extremely well – maybe a bit too well, because they went way overboard with those text-boxes that explain every little thing, but it’s not a big deal. In one episode, we firmly establish the backstory, the enemies, the lore, the characters and their motivations – and the pacing never felt off-kilter.

Yoshimori is a little annoying, but he’s also very relatable. He doesn’t want to get out of being a Kekkashi at first because he’s sick of the training and being out every night – he’s sick of being bad at it and knowing that being a Kekkashi and even part of the Sumimura family prevents him from being close friends with Tokine.

He’s also emotional and greatly sympathetic towards others, even perceived enemies, which is something I greatly appreciate in my shounen protagonists.

His grandfather is more annoying than anything. The worst part of this whole episode was the five-ish minutes of him just screaming at Yoshimori.

Tokine is also a good character. You can tell she still wants to be close friends with Yoshimori again and feels the strain of their families and responsibilities impeding on them. She’s a great Kekkashi, even if she does seemingly ‘take’ Yoshimori’s targets and kinda treats him poorly when they’re older.

I was very disappointed to read on the Wiki that she’s regarded as the weakest Kekkaishi when she’s so good right now. I am sick to death of female fighters getting nerfed in action anime just because ‘hurr hurr penis=power, go battle an ayakashi in the kitchen lol’ I really hope that I’m wrong about that and the Wiki’s just wording things poorly, but seeing as how I’ve found several sources of this label, I’m inclined to believe it. Can someone who’s actually seen all of the show or read the manga tell me otherwise?

He didn’t get much screentime, but I really liked Yoshimori’s father. He reminded me a lot of Sakura’s father from Cardcaptor Sakura. He’s kind and very supportive.

The art and animation is okay. The character art, particularly with the noses, never meshed that well with me, but it’s not really bad. The animation is nothing special, but alright.

The music is really good. Not sure it’s a soundtrack I’d run out and buy yet, but I really love the OP, the ED is good and the BGM is pretty nice.

The voices, English dub, were good, though I’m questioning whether Laura Bailey is fully-suited for Tokine. Love ya, Laura, I’m just not sure you fully fit her yet. Judgment pending.

Final Verdict:

Continue Yes

I was pleasantly surprised by this episode, even if it is fairly generic. Being generic isn’t necessarily bad as long as the execution and style is interesting enough to hook my attention. I look forward to the rest of this series and hope that it’s a lost gem, not rightfully buried under the sands of time.


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