They’re the best Anime that 2019 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet, Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken, Senki Zesshou Symphogear XV, and more!
10: Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet
English: Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet
Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム THE ORIGIN 前夜 赤い彗星
MAL Score: 8.10
What was the tragedy that decided the fates of Char Aznable, the man later nicknamed the “Red Comet” as an ace pilot of the Zeon forces, and his sister Sayla Mass?
The two siblings’ journeys, brought on by the sudden death of their father Zeon Zum Deikun who was a leader of the Spacenoids, are depicted in the four episodes of “Chronicle of Char and Sayla.”
The Zabi family who seize control of Side 3 and lead the Principality of Zeon, the early days of many renowned Zeon ace pilots who later fight in the One Year War, the secrets of mobile suit development, conflicts with the Earth Federation Forces, and the road leading to the outbreak of war—all will be revealed.
(Source: Official Website)
Note: A re-edited TV version of the six OVAs released from 2015 through 2018.
The animation in this series is literally movie quality. Sunrise dumped a lot of money into the animation because they knew UC fans would eat it up and buy the model kits (They were right). The line work on all of the characters is sharp and consistent, and adeptly adapts Yasuhiko-sensei’s art style. There are a wide variety of backgrounds, all of which are vivid and detailed. All of the mobile suits are done up in conspicuous CG which looks fantastic. It lends these classic MS designs a sense of fierceness and rigidity that could only be inferred due to the soft, bubbly animation of the original anime. The colors used in the animation are somewhat drab, which also keeps The Origin from looking as candy coated as some of the original.
The soundtrack is every bit as grand as the scale of the One Year War. The crisp orchestration expertly conveys the tone of each scene, with infrequent guitars and synthesizers to spice things up. The opening and ending songs added to the TV version are hit or miss for me, some of them put me to sleep but a few left a good impression. I was especially taken with the first ending theme and its powerful refrain, as well as the final opening theme which is a remake of the classic Gundam song “Beyond the Time.” I don’t think I’ll be defaulting to this new version any time soon, but I appreciate that they did remake it to include in this release.
According to Gundam Wiki, The Origin anime adapts volumes 5 to 7 of the manga, with Yasuhiko-sensei on board as the writer to aid in adapting his pages to the screen. It fleshes out the backstory of the One Year War, several characters from the original series, and most of all Char. We see Char’s development from childhood all the way to the beginning of the original Gundam series. I think The Origin honestly does a pretty believable job setting up his character for the most part, but some plot points are needlessly contrived or depict Char doing extravagantly badass things just because he’s Char. However, that did not hinder my enjoyment of it, and I still think this serves as a fine backstory even though it was not written by series creator Yoshiyuki Tomino himself.
Compared to the OVAs, Advent of the Red Comet is a much quicker watch. There are almost 100 minutes of footage from the OVA that have been omitted from the TV version. Add on the fact that the OVA has viewers sit through a cumulative 30 minutes of recaps, and the TV version saves a pretty significant amount of time. The team that recut the OVA did well picking what to omit, because you still receive the entire main plot. The OVAs go out of their way to show tons of little details and character interactions which nearly amount to fan service, so you will miss out on some things watching this version. Being that it follows the main character growing up over so few episodes, the story pace is fairly unique for a TV anime. Finally, the new opening and ending sequences are all nice to look at, with the final opening standing out in my mind as far better than the rest.
So who should watch Gundam: The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet? I can safely recommend this to any fans of the original Gundam anime or the UC timeline. I might even go so far as to suggest it as an entry point into the franchise to be followed by the original, because the OVA version is loaded with extras that can’t be as fully appreciated without seeing the older series first. If you happen to watch this before the original Gundam then reach out and let me know; I would be very curious what the experience is like.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is one of my favorite anime of the decade. It is a prequel done exceptionally well, and it is easily one of the best installments in the franchise. While it did have some stumbles, its growth as an OVA series over the course of its three-year run is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had with an anime in years. It is one of the most compelling space operas and political anime I’ve seen, and it exemplifies a sense of wonder and charm that few in this franchise can match. As such, you can imagine my worry when this adaptation was expecting a TV re-edit. I knew that no matter what, it would still be a good show and perhaps a more accessible way for certain fans to get into the series, but I also expected it to hinder the material with unfortunate removals and jarring edits. That’s exactly what happened and then some, though that isn’t enough to make this a bad series.
This is going to be a more critical look at how this TV version handles the material, rather than a review of everything we were presented, as I already did that with the review of the OVA which ended last year. As such, this review may sound more negative than the score would imply. The core narrative and feel of Gundam Origin is stellar enough that a good adaptation of such material almost inherently warrants a high rating. It’s just that Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet provides several inconveniences and removals that make this supposedly more accessible rendition serviceable at best.
The first problem this series has is its pacing and how the OVAs and by extension, the manga, were not designed with TV pacing in mind. This is most noticeable in how episodes end, often resulting in cliffhangers that feel limp instead of enticing, as these endings are generally abrupt, resulting in no fanfare or impact. The pacing also highlights how disconnected certain scenes tend to be. Some of it comes down to simple removals and awkward edits like when a scene in episode 5 goes from Char laughing when Garma tries to befriend him to an explosive mock battle that comes out of nowhere. Other instances are simply due to how rushed the pacing of some of the weaker episodes of the OVA –namely 1 and 4– were. Truncating that even further makes the first and fifth episodes of this TV version feel like a series of disconnected scenes happening in rapid succession. Each episode of the OVA had a natural and visible through-line to them, and it sometimes took a while for them to reach their strides. Even when the pacing felt abrupt, it somehow still felt deliberate. It no longer feels deliberate when the true Char Aznable that our protagonist eventually takes the identity of only gets three scenes in episode 4, has an important scene demonstrating the rift between him and his family get cut down heavily, and then dies at the end of that same episode as opposed to having more of a presence in the second OVA episode before dying in the third. It also doesn’t feel deliberate when they further truncate the most rushed plot point in all of Gundam Origin, that being the relationship between Dozle and Zenna from the military academy.
Noticeable cuts include the removal of Amuro’s interaction with his father and some interactions with Frau Bow. However, the one I’m going to be focusing on as it’s one of the more detrimental alterations is the removal of how Astraea’s house arrest was partially motivated by the house owner’s jealousy. We know it was mainly done under Zabi orders but removing this detail while keeping the scene in instead of just altering it to make it solely an act made by the Zabis feels wrong. This makes it so the scene of the owner of the house bitterly reminding Astraea of how her husband sometimes used these chambers for his influential thought feel needless. Knowing where Zeon Zum Daikun, Char’s father, sometimes thought of his speeches wasn’t the important part. What was important was highlighting how Astraea was never an intellectual partner for him and what that meant for both her and the owner who resented her. Chalk this one up to a nitpick but it’s omissions like this and the aforementioned scenes with the original Char that cause the characters to lose some of their vibrancy when the cast of characters was perhaps the most defining aspect of Gundam Origin. The main cast is largely as wonderful as ever but a lot of the side characters a tad hung to dry this time around. It isn’t as egregious as the general pacing and scene sequence issues, but it emphasizes how this version is about rushing to get to the meat of the story regardless of how tactlessly it may do so. Then again, at least it didn’t play a scene twice halfway into episode 3 like Unicorn Re:0096 did when the people involved thought keeping both the end of the first OVA episode and the beginning of the second one was a good idea.
The only things left to cover are the opening and ending themes, as well as a few thoughts regarding the audiovisuals in general. The OVA boasts a fair amount of terrible environmental CGI, so the removal of several scenes for the TV version means the removal of some of said CGI. The rest of the CGI outside of the first episode still ranges from good to downright stellar, with the mechs being particularly great in several instances. The direction is mostly kept intact and along with the crisp animation and expressive character designs, it leaves the series looking gorgeous. The dub retains the same level of quality as the dub of the OVA, so much so that they may have just been ripped straight from that. If not, then the rerecording must have been impressive.
The music is still well-composed, with a few particularly incredible tracks such as the main theme of the OVA and the remix that plays when Char launches into the battle of Loum later into the series. The OPs performed by LUNA SEA are generally good, although visually the first two are nothing more than spoiler-filled montages. The first OP, “Higher and Higher” is easily my least favorite, though things only pick up with the more inspiring second OP, “Hisoubi”, which sports the feeling of a folk tale. The final OP, which is a cover of “Beyond the Time” from the film Char’s Counterattack, is my favorite opening of the year, with a sense of pride and finality matched only by the visuals, which present the current state of affairs with incredible transitions before whisking us away to the original Mobile Suit Gundam from 1979 and returning to the events of this TV edit from 2019. I can’t even begin to do justice to how much this works at celebrating 40 years of Gundam far more than the show itself does. As for the ED themes, almost none of them are particularly worth mentioning in my eyes aside from the colorful visuals in the second ED, as I don’t particularly care for the first two and I only find the third one to be a decent song. The only one I genuinely like is the ED that plays in the final episode, that being a somber song known as “Hikari no Hate” by SUGIZO by Aina The End (BiSH). The final OP and the later EDs provide the only bits of genuinely new content in this show, though since you can simply look them up elsewhere, they don’t necessarily provide much of any real advantage for this version of the series.
I won’t lie when I say I am disappointed with this TV re-edit. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, especially given how spectacular Gundam Origin tends to be. However, there were times where I was actively bored or annoyed by the handling of certain episodes, which was never the case with the OVA. I expected some of the pacing and editing issues presented here considering they needed to adapt from a more theatrical OVA format to a more controlled and limiting television format. However, even considering that, sometimes this show failed to properly do even that material justice, like with the first and fifth episodes. Certain characters feel particularly left out to dry compared to previous iterations of this story, and the pacing occasionally leaves the show feeling like a series of disconnected sequences. Often times, episodes end without the final scene having any impact or even feeling like a proper conclusion to an episode. It’s even worse when said episodes include a scene that feels like the proper end to an episode occurs long before the actual end, and they work much better than the limp cliffhangers and conclusions the show gives us. On top of that, most of the faster-paced moments and certain plot points that already felt rushed were condensed even further. It leaves the pacing feeling a lot more awkward and disjointed than before. I see no benefit to separating the contents of the episodes in and of itself, but the way they truncated and edited them only puts this version at a further disadvantage.
Some may consider most of these nitpicks, but even then, these issues snowball into a substantially inferior experience. Some may not even notice these faults, however, especially if they haven’t seen the OVA or read the manga. Hell, some may even prefer the more truncated version as it allows for binging or digesting the material at a slower pace of 22 minutes a day compared to 55-95 minutes a day or what have you. It’s their choice, honestly. Even a mediocre retelling of wonderful material still leads to a good show. As for me, I’ll stick to the OVA and begin wondering if manga fans had similar feelings regarding it to what I felt here.
Written and Edited by: CodeBlazeFate
Proofread by: Peregrine
Mobile Suites Gundam: The Origin is first and foremost a powerful human story. It is also a war and politics epic. Of course, at the same time, it is a gundam show.
Char Aznable is a rich character. And Gundam: The Origin shows why. The Origin follows the trajectory of Char’s life from his early youth to the establishment of his fame as the ace pilot of Zeon. Along that trajectory, Char’s life started in one of the most privileged families, then thrown by external forces to the worst bottom, and later climbed back to moments of glory. In his childhood, Char saw his father murdered and had his family torn apart in midst of political intrigues. He had to fend off assassination attempts while in exile. Nevertheless, he grew up intelligent, strong, sensitive, but also bearing a sense of deep hatred. My English is not sufficient to depict the heart-wrenching and absorbing stories of Char’s early life. But Gundam: The Origin is.
Gundam: The Origin takes the care to develop the personalities and growths of Char with as much care in moments of thrill as in mundane details — how he consoles his sister Artesia upon the news of their father’s death when he was barely elder; how he stays firm at the last sight of their mother, when he understood it was the last sight; how he became aggressive with a spy upon hearing his mother’s death. Those moments make you relate and root for Char. And the experience is enhanced by solid voice casting. In that moment Char is angry with a spy, his voice is angry. In the moments Char is calm but also cold, his voice is gentle but aloof and also masculine.
Char is not the only one The Origin excels at depicting and voice casting. Dozle and the Black-Tri sound like the muscular men they are on screen with their coarse voice and swift intonation. Artesia’s voice cast has a nice gradient of pitch change — from childish to mature — as she grew more confident and independent in the series. The Origin offers a cast of characters each with their convictions and vices, virtues and flaws. For example, the monologue of Dozle vowing to protect his wife Zenna, while seemingly lacking in intellectualism in his choice of words, strikes at the core of wars in metaphoric terms. I enjoyed how Kycilia is shown to have conflicting traits — honorable at times, cruel and bloody at times; ruthless and efficient at times, soft and gentle at times. The Origin (and to an extent the original ’79 Gundam series) does not shy away from having characters who are conflicted internally — just as how in real life humans are. The Origin also does not shy away from showing nuances in politics: from Gilren’s zeal to Degwin’s moderation, from riots on the street level to backroom negotiations. From yet a different perspective, in anime terms, Char is shown to be extraordinarily talented yet he does not come off feeling OP in a contrived way. That showcases the strength of the series.
With strengths come relative weaknesses. The character pool of Gundam: The Origin is on the bloated side. Its ties to the seminal Mobile Suite Gundam in 79′ blesses The Origin with an abundance of attention, and with it funding and production quality, but also curses it with unique restrictions. The Origin has to make connections to all major characters in the 79’s Mobile Suite Gundam. The characters on the Federation side, however, are less connected to Char’s early life. They are thus spared less time to develop, which only adds to the feel of disjointedness. The flaws in the 79’s original haunt The Origin. The group of civilians fighting as well as professionals left so big of a plot hole that only proper developments for all of them can do justice. The same can be said of Ramba Ral and Black Tri-star on the Zeon side who in the original were only 2-dimensional mini-bosses for Amuro Ray to practice on. I love what is done. Still, with 13 episodes, The Origin does not have the time to develop them all. And if it did, the disconnect can still remain an issue. Having said all the above, it is a paragraph of equal length to critique the weakness in characters of The Origin as to praise its strength. In actuality, the strengths easily eclipse the weaknesses.
The elephant in the room is, of course, the gundam. Gundam: The Origin is somewhat focused on mechas just like the other gundam series. That is not a vice to me. I think it is ok to assume and accept some elements of fantasy as long as the fictional universe comes with a rule set: in which fantasy elements blend with real world physics and social interactions to create something believable. So I have criticisms in that regard. Since war and mecha make a focal topic, quality and precision is called for. Impractical as they are, I can ignore the (lack of) rationale on having arms, legs, sensors in a “head”, etc on mobile suits. I can ignore the impracticality of directed energy weapons against armored targets (along with their inexplicable colors). I still need other believable elements of warfare in order to not laugh at what is supposed to be a politics and war epic. In other words, realism inspires immersion. There needs to be enough realism to support immersion. In some places, Gundam took particular care with realism in combat and succeeded. In others, not so much. For example, I appreciate the depiction of spaceship turret mechanisms and ammo racks based on battleships of WWII — it later helped to explain why Char is able to take out warships quickly with precision shots. I appreciate the depiction on battle formation — although scant, recon rotation, the effects of Minkowski particles — although also scant, the normal suites, the actions of the auxiliary thrusters, etc. They all played a role in building up the intensity of battles and the sense of realism in operating in space, which is a theme of the series. Nevertheless, certain things are wrong: spaceships do not sink; there is no deflection shooting in space; HEAT warheads need to raise elevation in flight and then drop on to MBTs in order to kill them; accelerating with Zaku does not create airflow in the cockpit; particle cannons do not have recoils; Ortega’s Zaku flies backward relative to thruster direction when killing Revil’s flagship; etc. Most disappointing though is the way the revolutionary strengths of Zaku is foreshadowed. And that’s done by one thing only: [pointing to guncannon, Tem Ray shakingly said] this is not the Mobile Suits of Dr Minkowski! “Boss A is super strong. Because A is 10x stronger than B!” Why? No why. How? No how. So there we are back to kindergarten. _Not_ the politics and war epic we can immerse in.
The real underlying reason is, supposedly, Zaku’s Minovsky reactor has much higher output — both in energy and in the quantities of Minovsky particles produced. (The series should clarify this for itself — not through me.) The thrusters of mobile suits are supposed to use Minkowsky particles. Hence the enhanced mobility. Minovsky particles absorb/deflect radar and other electromagnetic waves. Thus guided weapons are useless in battles of the Gundam world. That explains the kind of warfare we see in Battle of Loum. Shying away from technical details creates serious plot holes. The Origin did spend time on technical aspects of warfare. It just all went to Tem Ray mumbling nothingness. So that is a failure of the series. Also, even after excusing the omission on Minovsky particles, it is not excusable how imprecise AA fires are without explanations and how fighters of the Federation fleet seemed to have done nothing. They resemble plot armor too much and thus hurt immersion. For full disclosure, actions of Federation fighters are cut away in the TV series from the original OVA series.
That brings to the next topic, which is editing. My above complaint with fighter scenes, among with a rare few others, are the only issues with the TV cut. In all other places, the TV cut adds to the fluidity of the series. For example, while Garma can certainly be meek, insecure and driven by emotions at times. He nevertheless was able to follow Char in military academy exams. Garma is shown by the series to have true abilities and he works hard for it. I am glad the TV version cut away the numerous flicking hair scenes of Garma. Being superficial and infantile to such an extent would undermine the narrative with Garma. So the TV version did away with them. Along with other edits, the cuts propelled the series to a different level.
A quick note on sound. I watched the series through Crunchyroll. And boi that site sucks in so many ways. (I pay a yearly subscription so I have the right to complain.) It completely butchers the audio track. For example, remember episode 10 when Char heads out with his Zaku? (Ignore his waving clothes, ofc. That’s silly.) The drum beat sounds like a toddler’s murmur with the Crunchyroll version. If you just came from Crunchyroll, you probably didn’t know there are drum beats. With that in mind, I have found the BGM in Gundam: The Origin mediocre. By all means, I have no quarrel with Takayuki Hattori’s compositions. To the contrary, I revere him as a composer. I particularly enjoy the use of brass in the series’ compositions. Brass, along with other orchestral instruments, sound.. a bit old… but in a good way that adds to the feel of politics and war epic and it feels like a nod to the series’ long and lasting history. What I do have complain with is that the soundtracks do not seem to organically interact with the scenes much. Without access to the alternative, I am really not sure if Crunchyroll is the only one to blame.
All in all, I loved the series. I loved the human stories. I enjoyed the sense of scale. I liked the subtleties that the series did not shy away from depicting — be it in personalities, in politics or in warfare. Although it being a war focused series, I do wish for more attention to details in combat and warfare. If only The Origin can continue into an alternate version of the original Mobile Suit Gundam in ’79.
To Gundam haters: this series is worth your time. With a bit of open mind and willingness judge a series by its content, you won’t find the feature of mechas a burden. To Gundam fans: re-joice, Gundam: The Origin is a treat. More likely than not you will find it the best Gundam series — and I say that with classics like 08th in mind. Gundam: The Origin brings new depths to the whole UC universe. Enjoy the show.
9: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken
English: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
MAL Score: 8.11
Thirty-seven-year-old Satoru Mikami is a typical corporate worker, who is perfectly content with his monotonous lifestyle in Tokyo, other than failing to nail down a girlfriend even once throughout his life. In the midst of a casual encounter with his colleague, he falls victim to a random assailant on the streets and is stabbed. However, while succumbing to his injuries, a peculiar voice echoes in his mind, and recites a bunch of commands which the dying man cannot make sense of.
When Satoru regains consciousness, he discovers that he has reincarnated as a goop of slime in an unfamiliar realm. In doing so, he acquires newfound skills—notably, the power to devour anything and mimic its appearance and abilities. He then stumbles upon the sealed Catastrophe-level monster “Storm Dragon” Veldora who had been sealed away for the past 300 years for devastating a town to ashes. Sympathetic to his predicament, Satoru befriends him, promising to assist in destroying the seal. In return, Veldora bestows upon him the name Rimuru Tempest to grant him divine protection.
Now, liberated from the mundanities of his past life, Rimuru embarks on a fresh journey with a distinct goal in mind. As he grows accustomed to his new physique, his gooey antics ripple throughout the world, gradually altering his fate.
The anime starts off pretty good actually with our protagonist (who is a not-so-social-virgin at 37) dying, with his dying wish being “If I ever get reborn, I want to be OP af and want to screw as many girls as I like”; to be fair, I would probably also wish something along those lines. After citing his wish, “the great sage” reincarnates him into another world as the most OP slime ever. Stuff happens and he ends up saving a tsundere dragon from eternal imprisonment by eating him and also saves a village of goblins from direwolves. He, then names all the goblins and direwolves and takes it upon himself to create an ideal living environment for the monsters to live in. Just because he worked as a “contractor” in his previous life, he’s able to plan out a whole city mostly by himself. He also becomes an expert in holding a conversation even though he was lonely and awkward in his previous life. I don’t know how that works, but good for him right?
After planning a whole city mostly by himself, begins the directionless adventure of the slime. This is one of the main problems with this show, it does not know what it wants to be. There’s no overarching narrative, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but audiences at least need a sense of direction of movement in order not to be bored. There was something about there being a demon lord or something, idk it’s probably the same guy that’s present in every other isekai. What the show does is, it makes one of the characters say “Demon Lord” in some way or the other and the anime is like “well that’s enough plot progression for one episode. Who wants tiddies?”. Instead of actual plot we get “plot”. Not “plot” plot, but PLOT. Every girl the slime ever comes across is infatuated with him because we need to construct a harem or it will not be an isekai. Thus, the slime turns into chad slime and is swimming in tiddies, literally. The second problem with the show is that the danger does not feel real. Since the slime, who gets the name Rimuru by the way, is as OP as Goku in his Rainbow Super Saiyan Ultra Instinct Super Saiyan Legendary Super Saiyan God Ultra BS Level 5 form, nobody stands a chance against him. Anyone who challenges him, gets their ass handed to them in about 5 milliseconds. The fights usually go like this:
1. Rimuru’s henchmen fighting evil guy.
2. Evil Guy: You are just cannon fodder.
3. Henchmen lose; evil guy laughs; Rimuru arrives.
4. Evil Guy: You’re just a slime, you can’t do anything.
5. Rimuru beats the shit out of evil guy.
6. Evil Guy: *gasp* *starts following Rimuru for no reason*
Seriously, everyone who ever comes in contact with Rimuru becomes as loyal to him as you’re to anime. There’s this direwolf whose father is killed by Rimuru, but he’s like “meh, shit happens. You killed my father and dozens of my friends with whom I’ve spent my life till now, but you gave me a name so I instantly forgot about them”.
The comedy is ehhh??? I know comedy is subjective, but I can distinguish between well written comedy that isn’t funny just to me and just plain bad comedy. There’s this character who doesn’t speak and just says “mmmhh” and whenever he does that Rimuru goes “Speak up, man”. It was funny the first time but became annoying after it was repeated for a million times. There’s this lizardman who’s arguably the most irksome character in the show because his only purpose in life seems to be to make stupid decisions for the sake of tasteless humour. But, the most annoying part is that those actions, those asinine actions that he takes in the show which we took for granted, actually contribute to plot progression. He overthrows his father, the king of the lizardmen, from the throne during an invasion just because 3 of his henchmen told him that he is strong *annoyed nose exhale*.
The characters are painfully mediocre. Except for one female character, all others are there just to show some cleavage and get wet over Rimuru for no goddamn reason. Rimuru himself isn’t that interesting of a character. We never get an explanation to his motivation or what he wants to do, he just does whatever is presented to him. That’s weak writing. If your character holds his/her characterisation only in the context of the story then that’s weak character writing. There’s not even much to write as the characters are the definition of average. If they were on either end of the spectrum you would have something to say about them, but the characters in this show don’t have much of a personality. Only one character gets anything resembling a backstory which was so cursory that I forgot about it as soon as it happened. The characters are introduced as some kind of badasses only to further paint them as only superficially badass. There’s a character who tames the orcs and has a calm demeanour in his first scene but loses his mind when his plan fails. He’s portrayed as smart and shrewd but isn’t even able to figure out that his own slave is going to kill him.
The female cast consists of useless fanservice character #1, useless fanservice character #2, useless fanservice character #3 up to useless fanservice character #10, and Shizue. You can literally replace the female cast with boobs and it wouldn’t make a dent of a difference. Every female in this show, in one way or another, is only present to hold Rimuru between her boobs or to get angry for absolutely no reason in order to provide “comic relief”. I’ve put comic relief if massive quotations because all it does is annoy the viewer or pad for time as every episode needs to be 20 minutes long. The “comic relief” usually (and by usually I mean all the time) consists of girls vying to get wet over Rimuru or having other characters eat food that they’ve prepared; usually (and by usually I mean all the time) the food is very unpalatable and causes the person eating said food to faint. As you can see these are entirely new concepts that have never been executed or seen before in any anime, ever.
There’s a demon loli who runs around in bikinis blowing up whatever she wishes and is supposed to be a “demon lord” who are apparently the most OP people in the world. The demon loli is defeated by Rimuru by stuffing her mouth with honey; a feat which is applauded by his loyal followers quoting it as “A feat which only Rimuru-sama can accomplish” *exasperated sigh*. The demon loli (that’s what I’m gonna call her because she was only present in the show to appeal to pedos and was such a superfluous character that I don’t even remember her name and can’t be bothered to search for it), becomes besties with Rimuru because, well, we need an excuse to shoehorn in a loli with enough helium in her voice to lead to dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness and ultimately death.
You might be thinking that despite shitting on this show why have I still given it a 4/10. Well, that’s because even though everything about this anime is utterly mediocre, I still had an urge to click the next episode and ended up finishing it in a day so it gets some points there. Even though the fights themselves can’t be considered anything other than one sided massacre, they were still fun to watch.
Oh, almost forgot. The music is ok, the OPs and EDs are just fine and with the exception of one piece (which I just can’t seem to be able to find), all the others are forgettable. The animation is pretty solid though, especially during the fights. But, what good is animation when the majority of the show is as bland and tasteless as frozen dry fruits.
If isekai is your thing, then go for it, but again if you really like isekai then you’ve probably already watched it. If you don’t like isekai and are going to try it because you’ve heard so many good things about it, then I’d recommend you to refrain from watching it. This is another one of those mediocre isekai that has been hyped to high heavens by the anime community. It’s literally like any other isekai.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime has one colossal issue preventing it from being the fun wholesome D&D comedy it wants to be. There are no stakes because of the insanely overpowered protagonist—Rinmuru. He was a 37-year-old office worker randomly murdered and then reborn in a new world as a blue slime in a JRPG-like fantasy world. It’s an original twist on the typical isekai plot. Except, it’s marketing bait. Rinmuru turns into a kid, and the whole slime thing gets thrown out of the window. Like most isekai power-fantasies, there’s not much tension. Anything Rinmuru encounters in the world can be effortlessly defeated, draining any suspense out of the show. Instead, the story focuses on comedy and constructing a peaceful civilization.
Isekai power-fantasy anime with video game logic are nothing new. Still, this anime’s premise isn’t inherently flawed—mainly because it aims for a light-hearted tone in a genre full of dreadfully serious and boring shows. The animation in the first episode was excellent, and the background art was highly detailed. The quality quickly went downhill—however, it never lost its goofy colorful style. It balanced this light-hearted tone with some offbeat drama from time to time. At first, the stakes were always low because Rinmuru wasn’t the focus; side characters’ stories were at center stage. Rinmaru would defeat a group or save someone, and then they would join his civilization. After that, they would just become cardboard cutouts destined to sit in the background like furniture. No one in this anime ever gets developed. Most of them barely get any lines other than side comments. The dialogue isn’t substantial. Instead, they make blatant observations. All of the humor got drained out. The writer resorted to the same dumb jokes repeated over and over. Haha, the monster girl has big boobs—peak comedy.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is dull, stupid, and can’t decide what it wants to be. The massive cast of characters have no personalities, no individual sense of humor, and we get no sense of who they are. Once the show gets too bored of it’s ‘slice-of-life’ aspects, it tries to pit Rinmuru against gruesome enemies like the man-eating ogres. There’s no point to these action parts except mindless entertainment. There’s no permanence because no one is in danger. As soon as the foes are defeated, it’s right back to silly, vapid comedy and fanservice. Inevitably the tone became so mismatched that it was no longer enjoyable, even as passive entertainment.
Every supporting character is irrelevant—they’re cannon fodder and fools to entertain Rinmuru. He never needs any of them. They linger around Rinmaru like his giant harem, showering him with praise and occasionally make quips like NPCs. By the midpoint in the show, the most important supporting character is Shion. She is continuously onscreen getting her boobs jiggled by the Rinmaru in slime form—that’s the only time he becomes slime again. Anyone Rinmuru defeats pledges their loyalty to him. One character exceeds him in power, but she comes so late in the series and does nothing. Imagine an immovable object meets an unstoppable force—their fights could’ve been epic. Instead of building off one another, she acts like an idiot, then gets ordered around by Rinmuru. He’s pretty much the only character, so this show earns one whole point in its character category. Rinmuru is mildly entertaining while he’s a slime. After that, you realize you’ve got baited.
The tone has two settings: either unfunny comedy or overly serious. Rinmuru cracks jokes in the heat of combat, and it comes off as tone-deaf. The violent action scenes are quite strange because they clash with his irreverent personality. It tries to blend humor with seriousness in one scene, and the result is just confusion and boredom.
From time to time, the dialogue doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and it’s the show’s best, but also the worst feature. The only thing that made it watchable, that kept me awake for all twenty-five episodes was the occasional funny line. They get sandwiched between bland lines of dialogue, breaking up the monotony. When Rinmaru quips at a weaker enemy for being stupider than him, it feels self-aware. Someone finally acknowledged the show is ridiculous.
Conversely, there is some palpable tension after one plotline gets developed for episodes and Rinmaru’s underlings work to succeed. But after all that build-up, he steps in with an annoyed expression, taunts his enemy with a quip, then easily defeats them. It’s boring. Who wants a main character like this? Before a fight, Rinmaru often says, “this fight won’t be easy,” BUT IT IS ALWAYS EASY. He is too ludicrously overpowered for what this show wants to be. He drains away all of the tension like a vacuum.
Another major problem with the broken story structure of this show is the pacing. The author has so little attention span that there can never be more than one plotline occurring at once. No time for character development. No time for world-building. We have a conflict, and we’ll have to see it to its boring unsatisfying conclusion before the show can even introduce the next plotline. I never thought I would miss Overlord, but at least that show made an effort to tell a story. Every arc in SlimeTime but one ends with an anticlimactic letdown; even ones with flashy action set pieces are still unsatisfying. Any giant final boss monster can easily be killed in one punch as if Saitama himself was reincarnated instead of a boring-ass salaryman.
*Spoilers in this paragraph*
Dozens of potential plot threads get cut off for the sake of the final arc. Unresolved plot threads are left open to be revisited in the next season potentially—though I wouldn’t count on it. And this is not a writing technique the author is intentionally using. Instead, this is a ‘Plan B.’ When the main plotline becomes monotonous and tedious, the author shifts gears into another one. The final arc in the show comes out of nowhere. The new characters, a group of kids, have no personalities other than one trait if we’re lucky. Hollow, bland characters are par for the course in Slime Time, but this is where the show went from boring to painful. It tries to make us care about the new NPC kids. We were told by the show that they are going to die if Rinmaru doesn’t help. Thankfully he doesn’t care about anything, so he ditches his small civilization temporarily to help them. He resolves the conflict by himself, totally separately from the kids. They end up just following him around, trying to act important like the rest of the supporting cast in this terrible hackneyed series. But of course, they teased a second season. I can’t wait for another 25-episodes of this mediocrity.
Overpowered main characters are a staple of the isekai genre, and That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is no different. Studio 8bit’s stellar art style and the first two theme songs were fantastic. However, the production was not enough to carry such a disjointed and underwhelming story. If you’re a fan of the isekai genre, then you might enjoy the irreverent humor for a little while; Until that too gets devoured by the slime-loli-thirty-seven-year-old-virgin.
After being turned into a light novel, Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken (That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime) is one of the few isekai shows that I genuinely looked forward to this year. While it subscribes to usual fantasy gimmicks, this show also does a unique job at entertaining the audience through its charismatic main lead, world fiction, and creative storytelling. I refer this show as more of a fantasy isekai, one that has a slime as the superstar.
Can the isekai genre really have potential to be more than just what’s on paper? It certainly could for some franchises. This show is one of them. Satoru is reborn as a slime and his role is crucial to everything around him. Taking on the alias “Rimuru”, he makes up for his appeal through a variety of personality traits: kind, witty, laidback, sarcastic, courageous, and among others. When you look at all these character personalities together, Rimuru can be very likable. In the early portion of the show, we see Rimuru’s charisma and being able to lead supernatural creatures without fear. He even gives names to his new friends while showing his compassion. Rimuru is built to be special in the show. This is established through his immense abilities (such his Predator skill), where viewers can easily point fingers at him for being overpowered. Indeed, this isn’t an overstatement. In most of his battles, they are more like curb stomp face offs where Rimuru dominates his opponents. From isekai shows in today’s world, overpowered characters aren’t uncommon. What actually sets Rimuru apart is his unnatural charisma and human behavior. The witty conversations and small talks he engages with others often makes his fights much entertaining than they should be. Even in serious conflicts, Rimuru finds time to make jokes while being strategic enough to formulate a plan. Now, that my friends, is setting a likeable isekai protagonist by example.
Yet, this show can be a tearjerker at times too. The emotional context draws important value with a character named Shizu. After a titanic battle against a demon known as Ifrit, we learn about her past and Rimuru even inherits her will. Taking on her form, Rimuru realizes that he can’t save everyone regardless how powerful he is. It sets the path of his journey to keep promises such as being a mentor for younger kids. In the latter half of the show, Rimuru finds a group of children with magical potential and tries to lead them as a positive role model.
Even as an isekai show established with such a powerful protagonist, its character cast shouldn’t be overlooked. We meet a variety of characters with colorful personalities during Rimuru’s adventures. Some of the most noticeable ones includes his allies such as Shion, Shuna, Gobuta, Benimaru, Ranga, and later on, the Demon Lord Millim. Through Rimuru’s character interactions, it’s easy to see how his charisma inspires others. Many of Rimuru’s followers shows great respect for him and similarly, he deeply cares about them. Even Millim, a Demon Lord with overwhelming powers, takes a liking to him as the two forms an unlikely alliance. Respect of course isn’t just demanded but earned. Thanks to Rimuru’s abilities, he manages to make alliances with the most unlikely races. Under Rimuru’s leadership, he even sets forth to build a new country with his allies. The central element of storytelling relies on Rimuru’s way of showing his will. He proves this throug his actions and words. Really, by the end of the show, I felt like I understood Rimuru far more than I originally anticipated.
Despite my love for the show’s witty humor, colorful character cast, and storytelling, I should point out the anime still suffers from pitfalls. Fan service scenes with baths are common and Rimuru is still vulnerable to earthly desires in the fantasy world. In fact, I dare say the author made the monster girls as cute and sexy as possible. Millim and Shion are prime examples for their character designs. Just take a close look at them. Millim is pretty much half naked in her default outfit while Shion gives more of a mature lady vibe. Like most fantasy isekai, elves are characterized as desirable by males. This is shown early in the show when Rimuru encounters them and finds himself in brief moments of lust. While the storytelling has adequate development and carries an emotional weight, it’s hard to say that it’s great writing. In fact, many of Rimuru’s battles are extremely predictable even against the strongest of adversaries. In most of those fights, you should certainly expect Rimuru to be the winner. While the series also gives some of its supporting cast time to shine, most of the spotlight falls under our little slime-kun. Perhaps a bit too much…
Finally, 8-bit is back. After years of mediocre light novel adaptations like Infinite Stratos and Knight’s & Magic, Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken’s sets a bar for being a marvelous example of world fiction. The magical world contains fruitful amount of content such as the various nations we see. Tempest is the most prominent one ruled by Rimuru. Located in the Jura Forest, it’s a prime example of a monster country filled with larger than life characters. Meanwhile, other locations such as Brumund Kingdom and Dwargon reminds me of the high fantasy elements of the isekai genre. While the visual quality can look a bit cartoonish at times, it remains vibrant, bright, and contains a fine degree of palette. It suits for this particular show with its lighthearted humor. The character designs are of course worth mentioning in the case of Rimuru, the Demon Lords, his monster allies, and the infamous Veldora Tempest. At times, I feel like the author really put his thought into making them look as otherwordly as possible. The battle choreography also delivers a visual direction of what isekai shows should be. Nothing too groundbreaking but being able to showcase what characters’ abilities can really do. You should definitely not expect a DBZ-level style of action quality but be prepared for some jawbreaking cinematography.
Don’t you just wish life was simpler these days? Looking back at Rimuru’s adventure, I confess that I am a bit envious of his life. He is so carefree despite being an such a prominent figure in his world. Whether taking on the form of a slime, human, or Shizu, Rimuru makes everything look so easy. As such, watching this show felt like an easy way of passing time and enjoying what the author creator wanted us to experience. Now I wish life was easier.
8: Senki Zesshou Symphogear XV
MAL Score: 8.19
Humanity is finally confronted with the threat of the Custodians—the ancient, sentient species held responsible for cursing humanity to speak different languages thousands of years ago. The Symphogear wielders—Hibiki Tachibana, Tsubasa Kazanari, Chris Yukine, Maria Cadenzavna Eve, Kirika Akatsuki, and Shirabe Tsukuyomi—are sent to the Antarctic in order to retrieve an ancient relic. After securing it and rescuing the scientific staff present there from a Coffin, the automated defense mechanism protecting it, the relic is given to American researchers due to international agreements.
The criminal organization Noble Red, a remnant of the previously fought Bavarian Illuminati, starts targeting the relic. Will the Symphogear wielders and their supporting organization S.O.N.G. be able to foil the plans of the organizations conspiring against them?
Meteoroid falling, burning, and disappear, then…
In the distance, that day when the star became music…
Believe in justice and hold a determination to fist.
By shedding many tears, the reality you face is
Create a history, with a light God could not know.
What is Symphogear? For the longest time I’ve never bothered engaging myself in this franchise. I never understood what is was, and I was naturally repulsed by all things mecha. Now that the series is having its final season and its a dry season, I decided to finally give in and give Symphogear a try from the very beginning.
I wondered how have I missed out on the Anime of the Decade all these years.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect watching the very first episode knowing absolutely nothing about the franchise. The show toyed with my emotions so much in that opening setpiece. When Kanade bit it I thought would be a grimdark Madoka ripoff ended up being one of the most life-affirming shows out there. A stunning display of idiocy and action that is both charming and captivating. It’s confident in its strengths and parades its weaknesses proudly, a show that is both all style and all substance.
But most of all, it’s a true roller coaster of emotions, and I don’t use that term lightly. I laughed, I cried, I got frustrated at the ineptitude and stupidity of both the characters and the creators, but most of all, I loved. When the curse of Balal fell in place, songs still managed to bridge that gap and connect us all together.
The one emotion the series never fails to deliver is Hype. The surge of adrenaline and endorphins and all those chemicals in your brain whenever something awesome is happening onscreen is a rare treat in most other anime, but a constant occurrence in this series. The hype does occasionally fail to deliver, the heightened expectations can sometimes be too much, but still, when you hear Hibiki scream DATOSHITEMOOOOOO, you know she means business and join her in song.
And those songs are precisely what keeps Symphogear in the minds of many all this while. I’m not an idol anime person, I despise most idol anime and yet. And yet. The moment I hard Gyakko no Flugel for the first time right there on the idol concert, I was enthralled. I knew that regardless of how the series turned out, it would have great music. Covering many genres, the series has a diverse palette of songs ranging from Hibiki’s celtic rock to Tsubasa’s enka-inspired tracks, there’s no shortage of variety. Yes there are songs that don’t work well, but the ones that resonate far outweigh the occasional crap Ignite remix or whatever. XV is no exception to this, and, this is a rarity coming from me with regards to this series, but I actually fully enjoyed the OPs AND the EDs this time round.
The plot and story are fairly typical, but they feel like they belong in a JRPG. Every beat you’d expect is there, mini boss, dungeons, rivals, all those stuff. It’s not particularly fantastic, but it works well. Not surprising seeing as Kaneko was a JRPG writer.
More specifically for XV, XV is mainly about redemption. Not just about the characters, but also in a meta sense. I certainly have had my gripes with GX and AXZ being particularly weak, but XV comes along and somehow redeems them both in my eyes and I just can’t hate them anymore.
Symphogear has to be taken in as a complete package. It truly is more than the sum of its parts. Looking back, yes I can agree on all the flaws (some major) the series has had. Yet in spite of it all, across 7 years and 5 seasons. It’s why I ultimately decided in awarding it with one of my rare 9s. Something this special, this inspirational, this long-lasting is truly an experience to behold. For better for worse, it is the definitive anime that represents the 2010s. It may not have ended in the way I wanted, and it may not have that one kiss I was looking for, but it filled the hole in my heart, and with it ending, the gaping wound in my soul may never heal.
Maybe, for now at least, I can say that the series ended with dignity. It wasn’t perverted into a zombie franchise like Madoka or Fate, nor did it stumble hard in its final moments and is struggling to reclaim its past glory like Nanoha. It has its shortcomings, but thinking back, the journey to the end has been a satisfying romp throughout.
So what is Symphogear? It is a mecha-mahou shoujo-idol hybrid anime. It is Mizuki Nana’s autobiography. It is an anime about fisting. It is 5 seasons and 7 years long and has captivated the hearts of many.
But most importantly, it is Believing in the Song of your Heart.
Symphogear is a series that’s not for everyone. In the words of ANN’s Nick Creamer, it’s “a singing idol mecha yuri romcom battle melodrama with JoJo’s sense of irreverence and a lot of fanservice,” and that amalgamation is no doubt going to scare some people off. But considering that this is a review of the show’s fifth season, I’m assuming that everyone reading doesn’t need to be convinced that this combination is actually the coolest thing ever. And given that, rather than asking how Symphogear compares to other anime, I think the more important question is how XV stacks up against the other seasons of Symphogear.
So then, what are the makings of a good Symphogear season? Through careful research, I’ve narrowed it down to three factors: coolness, escalation, and gayness. As a series, Symphogear is constantly punching past the limits of its internal plausibility, and it gets away with it because it does so confidently and with style. And somehow, it manages to continue to top itself with each consecutive season. And most importantly, it does all this without ever losing sight of its emotional core. I think the best seasons of this show are the ones that have maximized these elements, so let’s see how XV compares.
In regards to our first criterion, Symphogear has never been cooler. XV is the final season of this franchise, and the Symphogear Project team didn’t pull any of their punches to make sure that it got the ending it deserved. There’s a tangible passion behind every moment; the transformation and fight scenes are the franchise’s best, and basically every other episode was stunning enough to be the finale of a lesser show. What’s more, there’s a lot of fanservice in the form of callbacks to favorite characters from previous seasons, which helps to cement that this really is the end.
Managing escalation can be difficult after five seasons. It’s important to continue to raise the stakes so that there’s still tension as to whether our heroes can prevail, but after you’ve already punched God, it’s really hard to do that without moving too far into the realm of abstraction. Fortunately, XV’s writers understand that even when it seems like you’ve reached the top, it’s still possible to escalate past that by changing the focus to more personal conflicts. Like sure, the fate of the world is on the line again this season, but Hibiki is fighting to save something far more important: her wife.
Through all of the twists and turns that this series has gone through, the one constant has always been the bond between Hibiki and Miku. Despite that, Miku has far too often been relegated to the sidelines in past seasons, so I’m glad that the final season was created with this relationship at its core. These two have been through too much over the course of this series, and I hope they’ll have the chance to be happy together after everything is over. They’re so soft.
So Symphogear XV succeeds in all of the criteria I put out at the beginning of what constitutes a good Symphogear, but honestly, those are all arbitrary and don’t really matter. I could spend the rest of my life identifying factors and trying to explain why those are what make Symphogear work, but I think its essence is one that ultimately escapes explanation. It’s not a perfect series, but it’s one that is always unabashedly itself, and at max volume. It’s brought so much joy to both fans and staff alike, and though I’m sad to see it go, I’m also so happy that it even existed in the first place. Symphogear will always be special.
That phrase, every time I hear that damn phrase in hibiki’s annoying voice I just wanna take a gun load it with explosive bullets and shoot myself. After torturing myself through 65 episodes it finally comes to an end. It should be obvious I am not a fan of this series. With that said I do think this is the best season yet.
However it’s still by no means a good series. Throughout all the bs plot devices and cringy twists that they throw at you that seem to come out of nowhere it’s hard to find anything good in this series. I will say the music is good, and the transformation scenes are amazing to watch and fun as hell. One of the main reasons I did not like this series or any of the series in general is because I knew nothing was gonna happen of importance. The only time I was actually hyped was when hibiki’s arm was gonna be bitten off, but then she just regrows another one. Even in this series, Carol’s minions make a cameo to help her out, they were just used to stir up hype and be used as fodder for Carol to make it to were she had to be. Many things like this happen throughout the series of convenient bs that just appears outa nowhere.
I will say the main reason I liked this season better was because of the villains. This time they weren’t overpowered at the start and then through the power of the series ending the main character end up beating them at the end because they need to. They were weak. They were getting whooped by the main characters. When they did lose or win it made sense, and seeing them grow in the series was really fun to watch. Beside that though everything else was still really bad. The plot twists were not exciting everything just felt dull and bland.
When it comes to the characters I can’t say I like them at all. Especially Hibiki, though I did like Maria and Kirika at the very least. They were all one dimensional, stereotypical, and boring. I don’t wanna shit on them to much mainly because I care to little for them anyways to want to do that.
In conclusion, there was really nothing of value I found while watching the 65 episodes this series has. There are a few good merits this series has but it was not worth the watch. If you can make it past season one and enjoy it I think you will honestly love this series, so give it a try if you haven’t already, you’ll either hate it or love it.
7: Bungou Stray Dogs 3rd Season
Japanese: 文豪ストレイドッグス 第3期
MAL Score: 8.20
Following the conclusion of the three-way organizational war, government bureaucrat Ango Sakaguchi recalls an event that transpired years ago, after the death of the former Port Mafia boss. Osamu Dazai, still a new recruit at the time, was tasked with investigating rumors related to a mysterious explosion that decimated part of the city years ago—and its connection to the alleged reappearance of the former boss.
Due to circumstances out of his control, he is partnered with Chuuya Nakahara, the gifted yet impulsive leader of a rival clan known as the ”Sheep,” to uncover the truth behind the case and shine a light on the myth of Arahabaki—the god of fire who might just lead Dazai to the case’s solution.
Meanwhile, in the present day, it is business as usual once again for the Armed Detective Agency. Their peaceful break will not last for long, however, as enemies old and new gather their strength and prepare for another face-off.
Bungou Stray Dogs (3) builds on its solid foundation of characters, continue to weave its finest action and comedic blend for all viewers. Their fate continues to entangle and untwine, with third season zooming closer to them rather than their bombastic gifts, capturing the little moments that made up their characteristics.
The charm and one of the specialties of Bones Studio is, the facial expression of the characters. It’s like watching children react to a movie with sad, delightful, shocking and horrifying scene. They are depicted accordingly to that situation, much like a child genuinely having the times on their lives in that moment. And these are infectious, especially Dazai who seems to be having the most fun expressing his immaturity that could tickle your bones. We could feel the chemistry they have while teasing each other and we’ll want to join in as well. Adding some spice on the witty dialogue, these comedic scenes could be pulled in to ease your nerves and show you the soft and gentle side of them. A relaxed atmosphere on heart-warming interaction.
The suspenseful scenes, can grasp our breath and choke us to our limit. Rather than just focusing on building the ambience with its color palette and ticking the time limit, the menacing look from both the good and the bad sides increase it even further. With a single smirk and the sudden change of tone intensity of voice actors that seems to be unable to hold their rage or excitement, you’ll be brought right into the situation they are in. At that single moment when their pupils dilate, eyes widened and frozen expression of stunned surprise, the screen cuts to black and you know s*it is about to get real. These are the amazing power of a single look that could foreshadow the epic fight scenes and lit it up when it really does happen. This make us root for them, whether they are right or wrong, just because of how brilliance the set-up is.
Third season cherished the return of the lethal frenemy Port Mafia, badass Armed Detective Agency and rising of The Guild, all while witnessing the rise of the strongest one-man mastermind they’ve ever encountered – Fyodor.
Fyodor, is depicted to be a criminal mastermind, one which excel in mental attacks and a smart strategist that made his debut in Dead Apple. One that might even beat Ranpo. Ever since first season, ADA and Port Mafia have always held a fundamental rivalry towards each other despite them having worked together several times in overcoming crisis, such as the deal with The Guild. The prime example would be the formidable Agutakawa and sensitive Atsushi. But this season plays on closer to this blurry state they are in, risking to destroy the harmony built and erupting a fight between these two organizations that could split them apart eternally. In the face of imminent danger, they are to choose to either fight or fall together. And as they gets closer to the thin line that separates them, they will eventually learn the truth behind the bedrock of their organizations.
Besides, Bungou Stray Dogs has its own way of storytelling. Its core of the twist resides in the way the groundworks of a situation is laid out, with each specification detailed on. It initially portrays a wreckage that seems to be impossible to be fixed, then it shows you how it can be fixed. However, this does not steal all the spotlight. The characters are the crucial element that enhance the story. Dazai, is the vital connection of them all, not only because he’s always managed to slip between two organizations but he because he is always 1000 steps ahead. He always seems to be hiding an agenda behind his little actions, as if trying to trick the world that he’s not Kira. And as such, he’s the most efficient character in drawing the best and the worst out of others.
Main highlight of the premise has always been how much each character cares for other in their own way. Their diverse personalities enforced their unique way of interacting, not only amongst the Armed Detective Agency members and Port Mafia, but also between them. They have faith in their team member, and they back each other up in a way that none would get killed. Despite being enemy, their first option would always be exempted from killing each other, however, this doesn’t draw back the life-or-death vibe. Their relationship, is their strength that ties them up and their weakness that holds them down. It all comes to how they are portrayed to utilize that, and it’s worth every seconds to watch it unfolds. There are also more and more insights given on old characters, while adding some new characters, such as a specialist in IT. One of the insights being how Kyoka and Atsushi face their past with their parents, overcoming the inner demons that had been slowly haunting them and eating them away without them realizing it. It ends with a beautiful touch.
The art, is by Bones too.
The songs are quite wonderful, but it is the opening and ending scenes that are synchronized with them that brought the amazement and excitement level high up in sky. The ED is simply the best of all seasons, with the song “Lily” by Luck Life that is simply stunning as it brings back the shounen feelings from previous two season filled with regrets, pain and cheerful moments they’ve all been through. I could even say that it’s almost like a perfect recap but is still refreshing to watch how far they’ve gone from their initial start. One of the endings that I wouldn’t even skip for the sake of it.
Overall, this season has been thrilling and emotional with its consistent quality in each episode. It strikes our heart when we least expected it, and continues to read us their supernatural tales with its dynamic visuals and vibrant characters. It gives closure to their past, as it opens up a new path to the future of unknown threats, heart-warming moments and everything in between. And with that, their adventure is ignited once again.
Cheers, to the stray dogs!
The first two seasons captivated me with its ability to blend literature with a thrill of mystery and action. Having read the manga, it also seems the show itself has enough material to continue from where it picks off from the previous seasons. However, what did surprise me at first is the third season choosing to adapt a spinoff novel. Nonetheless, fans should be prepared as the first two episodes focuses on Osamu Dazai, the former executive of Port Mafia. We are also reintroduced to Chuuya Nakahara as the season decides to focus on their relationship. As Dazai’s former partner, we get an insight scoop of their characters that we didn’t get to see much of before. It can be a bit wonky at first but remains important. As partners, the two shares a charismatic chemistry between each other. Bungou Stray Dogs is well known for its character interactions and season 3 surely keeps its momentum. Don’t be alarmed if the first few episodes starts off differently. The pacing does soon jump back into the present story.
Directed by Takuya Igarashi, he continues to pour his talent as season 3 focuses on the familiar version of storytelling tone. With the present timeline, we are also reintroduced to the Armed Detective Agency with core members such as Atsushi Nakajima, Doopo Kunikida, Kyouka Izumi, Kenji Miyazawa, Akiko Yosano, and among others. Port Mafia members such as Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Kouyou Ozaki, and Ichiyou Higuchi should be no strangers for returning fans. Even former Guild member Lucy remerges with a new role. Season 3 brings in these characters again as the storytelling unfolds while establishing renewed rivalries. Indeed, Port Mafia is still a prominent organization with their reputation and even their current membership roster. Ryuunosuke hasn’t lost his touch from the previous seasons as one of the most dangerous characters to step foot into their world. Soon after, both the Port Mafia and Armed Detective Agency is thrown into a feud again with much higher stakes on the line. With that, season 3 brings back the thrilling sensation I had anticipated for. Characters such as Kyouka has to once again face their past while showing how much they’ve changed. It’s these type of character evolution that Bungou Stray Dogs pulls off very well.
Bungou Stray Dogs is a rare breed of modern anime that is inspired from literature writers and books. Characters are based off of famous literary figures from the real world. Assuming you’re a fan of The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, or E.A. Poe’s series, some of the character names in the show may feel familiar. Port Mafia member Ryunosuke Akutagawa is based on the real life Japanese writer, often regarded as “Father of the Japanese short story”. From his personality and abilities, Ryunosuke is no doubt regarded as a morbid figure. His actions speaks louder than words with his commitments often brings trouble wherever he goes. The show retains its darker side of the underworld this season so do pay attention for small details going on behind the scenes. The Guild also makes a return despite not having their full roster anymore. Most prominently, we find out just how much Fitzgerald lost but after an event with Louisa May Alcott, he regains his will to reestablish the Guild. Nonetheless, don’t expect The Guild to truly be a powerhouse as they were from the past seasons. Season 3 establishes The Guild as an organization reborn rather than striving to become number one.
Speaking of organizations, there’s also one known as The Rats in the House of the Dead. As I mentioned before, Bungou Stray Dogs is known for its deeper mysteries and this group is one of them. Not much is known about this group although it’s shown that their leader, Fyodor Dostoyevsky is a dangerous manipulator. He doesn’t fear death and is armed with an intelligent and cunning mind. With a God-like complex, he is one of the dark horse antagonists to keep an eye on this season. It’s also one of the other key factors that makes Bungou Stray Dogs flow so well: the ability to make meaningful antagonists. With its ever expanding cast and personalities. Bungou Stray Dogs continues to keep the series fresh.
Once again produced by studio Bones, the show returns with its luster art style. The streets, cities, and architecture of season 3 remains adamant to bring a degree of realism. Character designs are unique for every character. More noticeably are their abilities as each is refined by their unique traits and style. The battle cinematics also remains fluid with carefully crafted body languages. And similar to the previous seasons, you can also expect a healthy dose of comedy. Character expressions adds on more effect to this with some of their exaggerated reactions. As for the main reasons people wants to see the third season, the humor, violence, mystery, and style all returns full fold.
In this timeline, Bungou Stray Dogs once again proves itself to be able to carry the torch of the first two seasons. When the third season got announced, I also questioned if it can live up to its expectations. To be honest, I think the first season set the bar while the second season managed to expand its growing story and character roster. The third season further enhanced the franchise with its important background storytelling by adding in more intriguing characters while staying in touch with its themes. What an excellent comeback.
Bungou Stray Dogs is simply… Bungou Stray Dogs.
If you enjoyed the previous seasons of this anime, then you might as well also enjoy this third season, just dont get your hopes up and expect something extraordinary. In my case, I thought the previous seasons of Bungou Stray Dogs were just alright, but somewhere deep inside me I was just hoping for something “more” from this season and that left me a tad-bit dissapointed in the end. Dont get me wrong, this season isnt bad, but I also just dont understand the massive hype that revolves around it, as it just isnt anything out of the ordinary.
In my opinion, the story of this season was one of my least favorite from the three (which I find quite shocking as this one has the highest score on MAL). It is simply mediocre at most. I was honestly way more immersed in the previous 2 seasons and I also enjoyed them way more than this third one, though that may just be me and my shit-taste for quality anime.
In the end, I’m giving the 3rd season of Bungou Stray Dogs a solid 6/10. <3 [/collapse]
MAL Score: 8.22
The greedy samurai lord Daigo Kagemitsu’s land is dying, and he would do anything for power, even renounce Buddha and make a pact with demons. His prayers are answered by 12 demons who grant him the power he desires by aiding his prefecture’s growth, but at a price. When Kagemitsu’s first son is born, the boy has no limbs, no nose, no eyes, no ears, nor even skin—yet still, he lives.
This child is disposed of in a river and forgotten. But as luck would have it, he is saved by a medicine man who provides him with prosthetics and weapons, allowing for him to survive and fend for himself. The boy lives and grows, and although he cannot see, hear, or feel anything, he must defeat the demons that took him as sacrifice. With the death of each one, he regains a part of himself that is rightfully his. For many years he wanders alone, until one day an orphan boy, Dororo, befriends him. The unlikely pair of castaways now fight for their survival and humanity in an unforgiving, demon-infested world.
[collapse title=“Reviews1:”]Dororo had the potential to be truly great, but it wasted it.
I wanted to believe Dororo had well-written characters and deep themes. But truthfully, it had neither. The visuals and directing were promising at first, but the animation quality rapidly declined and the fight choreography became lackluster. There was no substance to the story, it was rarely unpredictable, and the bulk of it was episodic filler. This show had potential with such a fantastic premise, but it squandered it by devolving into a formulaic monster-of-the-week structure.
Dororo is the second adaptation from a manga originally released in the 1960s, and it was first adapted in 1969. Tezuka Productions and MAPPA have collaborated to reboot the franchise with this new darker series; it is violent, gory, and it contains mature content. The premise goes as follows… In Sengoku-era Japan, a baby is born without skin, limbs, or internal organs, but the catch is his father sold all his body parts to demons and in return, they granted him power. And the dad of the year award goes to…! Not him. The demons who were given his body parts live throughout Japan, free to wreak havoc as they please. The deformed baby was set adrift on a river by order of his empathetic mother, and somehow he survived with the help of prosthetics. Later, this baby grows up to be a ronin, Hyakkimaru. It is his goal to retrieve what the demons stole from him by killing them all. At the start of his journey, he encounters the titular character Dororo; he’s a mischievous kid with a name that means exactly what he is, a thief. Together they traverse Japan to kill demons and get back Hyakkimaru’s body parts. This is a fantastic plot setup loaded with potential. Imaging the possible routes the story could take inspired so much excitement in me, but unfortunately Dororo squandered its potential and went out with a whimper rather than a roar.
Throughout the vast majority of this overlong 24-episode series, the plot structure is mostly episodic. I expected Dororo to be an epic complete story of Hyakkimaru’s fight to get back what was stolen, in the end, it didn’t live up to its great premise. In the beginning, it was exciting, Hyakkimaru is a blind and deaf ronin with his limbs replaced by swords. He is determined to fight in spite of his defects, so finds a way. We don’t see the training right away, which makes him an enigmatic anti-hero. Right away, the show settles into an episodic structure, at first, the battles are thrilling; Hyakkimaru slices and dices through giant horrifying monsters with blood and gore flying everywhere. The fight choreography is incredible at first; visceral audio-visual feedback with each slash and stab makes combat tense and realistic, but as the show progresses it becomes far less impactful. Choreography weakens to just a simple slice drawn 2D across a monster design, smash cut to the next shot, and boom the demon is dead. By this early point in the show, it already feels like it is lifelessly going through the motions of the plot like a chore. Each monster used to be so incredibly important, he got back an organ or sometimes even a whole ass limb and it felt as banal as if Hyakkimaru was picking up lunch at a fast-food drive-through. No impact, just progression to the next scene leaving you feeling unsatisfied. It becomes a chore to watch, you just want him to kill the demon, get his body part, then move on to something more interesting.
There are some episodes here and there with good self-contained stories, like Dororo’s bloodstained backstory or Hyakkimaru’s training. These unexpectedly exciting episodes showcased the best art. The visuals CAN be solid, not spectacular, but well stylized and consistent. The gray-scaled flashbacks were somewhat obnoxious with red unnecessarily highlighted. There are less blatant ways of indicating a scene takes place in the past, just gray-scaling it is lazy. It’s like visual storytelling for babies, give me something worth analyzing. If only these episodes didn’t feel haphazardly thrown into the season, they would have been highpoints rather than slightly less average than the rest. Like any episodic plot structure, things somewhat go back to normal at the end of each episode, with the added limb onto the main character. Many episodes don’t feel connected to each other, which lessens the impact of the previous one. After binge-watching it I can say it is very disjointed, which might not seem obvious watching it weekly. It doesn’t flow naturally as a story should, we get a new monster each episode (with the occasional two-parter) and a development episode tossed into the mix at random. Dororo gets a flashback in late in the first cour, and it’s touching if predictable, but it feels forced. He randomly gets a fever at the start of the episode, then suddenly he’s telling us his life story in a fevered haze. This show is made for TV airing, to spark hype each week then be forgotten until it does something different in the next chapter. I don’t want to generalize here, but it seems like most anime produced by MAPPA have varying degrees of pacing issues and art inconsistencies. Dororo is no exception.
For the most part, the art is decent. Excessive zooming in and out on still images is constantly used in place of animation. The worst instance of this is a giant explosion being zoomed in and out on as an animator dragged it around their screen with a cursor. This happens during the most climactic moment in the entire show! These cost-cutting animation techniques undermine the impact of any scene they are in. The character art is cell-shaded, which is typically fine, but here it looks quite lazy. In other terms, the animation is very low effort. Cell shading isn’t a problem on its own but it doesn’t look right on the watercolor background art. I hesitate to call the background art “detailed” because it always looks are so messily drawn. Watching the characters walk across pudgy watercolor backgrounds looks off. It’s as if they were stickers pasted onto the screen rather than a part of the show. This further contributes to characters not being fully fleshed out into real and relatable people. For most of the show, the main perspective is given to Dororo instead. Once Hyakkimaru grows a personality he shares the protagonist role, then eventually his perspective overshadows Dororo—and mind you he has about one personality trait for much of the show. Dororo is developed enough to maintain interest in the first half of the show; he was orphaned at a young age and losing his beloved mother visibly impacted him. By the time Hyakkimaru takes the role as the main character, Dororo is sidelined and he becomes a damsel in distress to be saved in many of the side plots. When the show ends, it feels like he barely mattered to the story at all, other than giving us some emotional investment while Hyakkimaru was an aimless killing machine.
This is the fundamental issue with the two main characters, there isn’t much to them. When one of them is developed, the other is unimportant. Dororo follows Hyakkimaru into fights out of habit and belonging, as we learn from his lonely back story. Hyakkimaru is silent because he cannot speak without his organs—which feels more like a plot convenience to avoid writing a character—but once he can speak he needs to learn how. His speech is simplistic, one word at first, sometimes his handicap is played to comedic effect; this is especially annoying in one tonally maligned comedy filler episode. There needed to be gradual character development along the way. But instead, it is episodic, things go back to the way they were. Hyakkimaru is already a capable fighter at the start of the show, and his determination to fight despite his lack of limbs made for exciting fights. As he gains more limbs the show loses what made it so original, it gradually becomes a cliched samurai story. Hyakkimaru’s struggle to fight even with defects becomes less of a struggle, he becomes a typical blank slate badass protagonist. Midway through the second cour is a major tonal whiplash. Rather than a continuation of the intense emotional action, the writers opt for an over the top comedic filler episode. It is a mediocre episode in its own right, with no action whatsoever with a lame monster of the week. What really gets me is how badly the episode was placed in the series. In truth, it doesn’t fit anywhere in a show that takes itself this seriously. Many of the episodes could have been removed entirely to reach the final confrontation faster. Once we do get to the ending it is worthwhile, but by then the damage has been done. Hyakkimaru’s characteristic development leaps by the final arc to justify the duality between him and the antagonist. It works at setting up a decent finale that ultimately felt like an undeserved finale.
Throughout Dororo’s twenty-four episodes, one thought was almost always on my mind, “This would be great if…”
If it was shortened to twelve episodes, then the writing would be condensed with more time to develop the side characters.
If they removed the filler and focused more on developing Hyakkimaru.
If they gave Dororo more purpose in the show.
If they connected all the random one-off stories with a theme.
If it were shorter, then maybe the art quality would have been more consistent.
In the end, I can’t say I disliked watching all of Dororo. There were parts I liked, parts I hated, and the rest of the show was average. The most enjoyment I got from this anime was imagining how great it could have been. It is not worth anger, analysis, or remembering, and consequently, I have no reason to watch it ever again.
The original series aired some 50 years ago in the late 1960s. Most of us probably weren’t alive back then to see this older timer. Manga with content revolving around demons seemed like a popular trend among children those days. The brainchild behind this work is Osamu Tezuka, who is regarded as a “the father of manga”. With famous franchises like Black Jack and Astro Boy, he goes down in history is a legendary figure.
Dororo is a dark fantasy adventurous tale with supernatural elements and dealing with characters’ emotional journey of discovery. From its very few episodes, I noticed an old school feeling that blends with modern quality productions. The original series had a much simpler animation style with cartoony character designs and black and white quality. MAPPA and Tezuka Productions decided to take their style to bring these characters to modern standards. Immediately, I felt as if the show had a credible outline for its artwork. Consisting of 24 episodes, the roadmap of the show also gives an easy pacing for new viewers. Do note that I have not read the manga but jumping into this anime isn’t much of a problem. We have two main characters – Hyakkimaru and Dororo traveling together during the Sengoku period. Hyakkimaru is the limbless ronin due to circumstances of his birth while Dororo is the thief who joins as his partner during their journey. The two forges a unique bond despite their contrasting differences. And throughout their journey, they face many obstacles ranging from powerful demons, saving people, and overcoming their own personal struggles.
At the heart of the show, Dororo is known for its moody and dark tones. There’s the theme of revenge born from the beginning. The episodic structure (as some fans dubs it as ‘monster of the week’) is a typical style of storytelling for this show. However, Dororo’s intriguing content comes from character development. This is especially true for Hyakkimaru as he begins to develop human characteristics, feelings, and becoming more of himself. Being accompanied by Dororo, they begin to understand each more and more with each progressing episode. At some point, we even see Hyakkimaru laughing, which is something he’d probably never expected from himself. Dororo is also a character that injects a dose of playful energy into the show. Let’s face it, Dororo is a kid but sometimes shows the mature personality of an adult. As a show about survival in a dark and grim world, the duo relies on each other every step of the way. In the latter half of the show, Hyakkimaru’s mentality contains both of a human and demon. His desire to protect Dororo may also be his greatest weakness as he is forced to rely on his demonic side. It makes the overall show very thrilling as viewers will anticipate the consequences of his actions.
In Dororo, notice how almost every character our duo encounter faces some sort of challenge in their lives. Whether it’s about personal relationships or just to survive, this anime makes it clear that it’s not an easy world to be in. There’s carnage with gory content as the show establishes itself as a dark fantasy. The monsters are characterized with a fusion between classic and modern designs while taking ideas from folklore. There’s also a question to be addressed – what really makes a monster? Is human another word for monster? There’s a sense of grey morality explored in later episodes that will no doubt be controversial. This includes the actions of Kagemitsu Daigo and Tahomaru. For their motives and actions that greatly influenced the show’s plot, they can be viewed as monsters. In other words, if we behave like beasts, we are no better than the beasts themselves.
Nonetheless, I don’t see Dororo as a complicated storyteller. The episodic nature and dark fantasy elements brings together a classic adventure. It holds itself together as a visual masterpiece with its aesthetics. Particularly, I find some episodes with the black and white coloring to fit perfectly. What also amazes me is how Dororo doesn’t make battles feel pointless. There’s action to follow, behaviors to observe, and see how each fight progresses change for characters. Hell, such a show with all this despair even has its happy moments. The show’s humor comes off naturally thanks to Dororo’s personality. It doesn’t play out forcefully with questionable dialogues and character interactions. Instead, the character chemistry between our two main leads is what does the talking. The more you watch this anime, the more you’ll feel attached to our duo. It’s not a question of how but the way they develop together in their journey.
For being an iconic classic, Dororo’s modern adaptation will easily get people into the mood for those who has a taste for dark fantasy. Even if you don’t belong in that category, that’s alright because it’s a chance to experience the artistic creativity of Osamu Tezuka. And I’m so glad to be alive in this timeline to experience it.
From Magical Circle Guruguru, Fruits Basket, Legend of the Galactic Heroes and Bogglepop Phantom. With the few exceptions that shall not be named theses remakes have been well received by fans and critics. This leads me to on of the more recent anime remakes Dororo.
Unlike any other remake minus Fruits Basket 2019 I had high expectations as this being done one of my favourite directors Kazuhiro Furuhashi the same director that gave us the underrated cop drama Your Under Arrest, the flawed but highly enjoyable Rurouni Kenshin adaptations and the atmospheric Hunter x Hunter 1999. Fortunately the series managed to almost perfectly deliver my high expectations as this is easily one of the best anime remake I have seen period.
The story follows a ronin named Hyakkimaru who is born malformed and is required to kill demons to obtain his missing body parts. He is accompanied by a troublesome orphan thief called Dororo during his travel. From there the duo roamed around various countries, hunting for ghouls and demons.
There a lot of things to like about Dororo. For starters this show is very dark both visually and narratively.
It’s Sengoku-era of Japan after all. The most darkest period for Japan. The dark nature of Dororo is only enchanted with the show asking us the viewer various deep questions what makes us human and what defines a machine and what makes a monster. Hyakkimaru character arc is a brilliant case study of this. From the first episode he has a personality of a machine where he hunts down demons without breaking a sweat.
As he gains more body parts he starts to becomes more human where he starts to understand the world that he is in but at the same time Hyakkimaru’s journey of collecting body part’s is slowly breaking him mentally.
Not only the harsh reality of the world starts to mentally creep him he also has to face the fact that he has killed various people along he’s journey hunt and as a result it makes Hyakkimaru less of an actual human. This is Dororo biggest strengths by a long shot as it makes you the viewer think about all the actions that Hyakkimaru has done thought he’s body part journey.
This is the main reason why it was hard for me to call Dororo a full out episodic series.
Similar to Cowboy Bebop and to a less extant Ouran High School Host Club the series has all the elements of a standard episodic series yet the characters are developing along with the plot.
When the series starts taking the overarching plot approach towards the end it’s feels natural thanks to the series strong direction and build up. It didn’t pull it’s overarching plot from its ass as every single episode of Dororo had a purpose despite it being mostly episodic.
The second best thing about Dororo is how brilliant the world-building is. The series is set in Sengoku-era of one of the most darkest periods for japan yet it does a splendid job of making the world of Dororo feels alive thanks to the spectacular attention to detail towards various locations and races.
Unfortunately Dororo does have some minor faults.
To say that at times Dororo doesn’t have enough substance at times is an understatement. Granted that compared to any other MAPPA series excluding Banana Fish. Dororo has the most substance thanks to it’s setting, characters writing and thematic exploration but at same time Dororo clearly had its fair share style over substance moments where the writing was put in a bus in favour of visual presentation at times.
This also leads to my second and final problem with Dororo the inconsistent quality of the episodic episodes. Granted there was not an episode in Dororo that I consider to be bad or even average but I still felt like some episodes had clearly better written than others.
The weakest episodes of Dororo went for the more typical approach by featuring less memorable one off characters and stories.
Regardless theses two flaws did not shut down the adventurous party that was Dororo.
A silent protagonist in any fictional work is very hard to pull off as can easily becomes blank stake for that particular work.
Fortunately Hyakkimaru doesn’t fall into the same traps of other silent protagonists he is an interesting character from start to finish. His character arc was well-handled thanks to great writing, and he’s just a sympathetic character overall despite him being mostly silent.
Similar to a silent protagonist a child protagonist in any fictional work is very hard because they can easily be the most annoying thing in your story. Fortunately the character Dororo doesn’t fall into the same traps as most other child protagonists as he’s a great and enjoyable character.
She’s the perfect companion for Hyakkimaru as she tries to best to help Hyakkimaru succeeds of his journey of getting his body parts back. Her personality is full of life and humanity despite being a child living in a harsh world.
The best part about these two protagonist is their strong character chemistry with each other. I really loved the dynamic duo of Dororo and Hyakkimaru as they have a strong and unbreakable bond. Both Dororo and Hyakkimaru would do anything to ensure that their partner is safe from danger.
The rest of the characters were good. Some of them are better than others, but they all served they roles and purpose in the story.
If, I had two words to describe the visuals of Dororo it would be atmospheric and gorgeous.
MAPPA did a fantastic job of bring this classic series to life with its beautiful soft colour palette, well-drawn characters designs and splendid background secretly that is filled with attention to detail. This is only enchanted with the fantastic visual direction. When the show decides to have a flashback the entire show minus the blood goes to black and white which homages the visual presentation of the original series.
The animation was for the most part is beautifully choreographed and well-animated. It does dip at times notably episode 14-15 but it never dipped to a point of being ugly.
The soundtrack is outstanding. The series uses a mixture of Melancholic and Japanese folk music pieces only enhances the plot and setting.
The same thing can be said for all the opening and ending themes that Dororo has to offer.
The voice acting is strange in a good way.
The Seiyuus that did the voices for Dororo and especially Hyakkimaru were newcomers. With this in mind you would think that the voice acting would be bad because of this but no. In fact, they were amazing as they fitted with they respective roles perfectly.
My favourite Seiyuu out of the two is Rio Suzuki as Dororo as she did an outstanding job at being the cheeky Dororo to life.
There is currently no English Dub as from June 2019 then again the show has gained a big following from both vintages and casuals watching meaning the series will someday get a quality dub and I hope Bangzoom will be the ones that will dub it.
Dororo is what an anime remake should be.
It takes everything that was great about the original series from 1960s and expanded it to new heights with its beautiful presentation, smooth soundtrack, strong characters and intriguing plot that has a purpose.
It did have a few faults along the way but the faults didn’t shut down the grim and fascinating party.
Amazing job MAPPA.
You finally made a modern anime classic.
5: Kimetsu no Yaiba
English: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
MAL Score: 8.58
Ever since the death of his father, the burden of supporting the family has fallen upon Tanjirou Kamado’s shoulders. Though living impoverished on a remote mountain, the Kamado family are able to enjoy a relatively peaceful and happy life. One day, Tanjirou decides to go down to the local village to make a little money selling charcoal. On his way back, night falls, forcing Tanjirou to take shelter in the house of a strange man, who warns him of the existence of flesh-eating demons that lurk in the woods at night.
When he finally arrives back home the next day, he is met with a horrifying sight—his whole family has been slaughtered. Worse still, the sole survivor is his sister Nezuko, who has been turned into a bloodthirsty demon. Consumed by rage and hatred, Tanjirou swears to avenge his family and stay by his only remaining sibling. Alongside the mysterious group calling themselves the Demon Slayer Corps, Tanjirou will do whatever it takes to slay the demons and protect the remnants of his beloved sister’s humanity.
Does fantastic animation trump mediocre writing? When it comes down to it, can you ignore one to enjoy the other?
As for Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, most of the anime community falls into one of two extremes. Either they love it for the amazing animation, an abundance of horrifying villains, and incredible fight choreography—or they hate it for subpar storytelling, shallow character writing, and unfunny comedy. The truth is somewhere in between. Demon Slayer has some of the best animation of this generation, but I can’t recommend the entire show because the writing is… pretty bad.
Our hero, no older than fifteen, carries his dying sister as he trudges through a snowstorm, crying out in anguish. Soon after, we flashback to before everything went wrong. We are greeted with a loving family. The scene is saturated with brilliant light reflecting off the snow-covered ground, angels singing with hopeful music. They are going to die. All of them. The cold-open is completely unnecessary. It is obvious this family with zero characteristics other than ‘happy’ will be killed. Violently. The lone survivor, Tanjiro, inevitably leaves them; now that his father is deceased, he is the designated man of the family. Upon his return, he finds his family viciously murdered. Demon Slayer never shies away from violence, and we learn this immediately. Blood soaked with horrific expressions, children protecting one another in their final moments, it’s all the more effective because their deaths are left to our imagination. Tanjiro stares in terror, speed lines on either side of the screen. Aside from the maximum shock factor of a happy family being slaughtered, there’s little reason to care. If you need speed lines to convey the protagonist’s severity finding his family violently murdered, you need to rewrite the scene and start over. It plays out so predictably, and we still know nothing about him other than he was part of the happy family. He carries away the only survivor, his sister Nezuko, barely clinging to life. Soon she becomes the monster that killed her—a demon. Tanjiro vows to avenge his family and cure his sister, by becoming a DEMON SLAYER!! It practically writes itself; a horrific monster-of-the-week for the heroes to fight off, and it works. As the demonic threats become bigger threats, Tanjiro becomes a more capable fighter. There’s a real sense of progression.
Before his family was killed, Tanjiro hadn’t fought at all. Somehow he barely knew what demons were. Demons are enough of a threat in this world that there are demon-hunting squads, yet this family didn’t know about them. Thankfully through a lucky coincidence, Tanjiro gains new powers in a training montage. There was no character progression, but at least there was lots of pretty animation. Nezuko, despite essentially being a lobotomized demon, is trained to believe ‘humans good, demons bad’. Not only is this a cheap way to avoid writing character development, but it also raises even more questions with the internal logic. If people can hypnotize demons to be good, why is this the only time we see it happen? Rather than integrating this information into the story, it is dumped onto us during an action scene as if the author forgot to mention it in a prior chapter.
Time after time, the action is undercut by the awkward dialogue. For example, a disembodied head demon ties it’s hair to Tanjiro’s weapon, then it is flung away and gets stuck to a tree. It struggles, then it says aloud exactly what we saw happen “I wrapped my hair around his hatchet to grab it but it got tangled up!” We could easily assume this from the shot composition and body language. Constant inner monologues, flashbacks, unnecessary comments, and awkward pauses bring the action to a screeching halt. One of the most egregious moments is when Tanjiro angrily stares at his friend being beaten up. Two minutes later, he finally yells and tries to intervene, cut to the ED before anything happens. They’re like five feet apart for two whole minutes, and then it just ends. Early on, this was one of the main reasons many people dropped Kimetsu no Yaiba. Show don’t tell is a rule that Ufotable can follow; their staff is loaded with talent and an unlimited budget. Being a manga adaptation, the moment-to-moment descriptions are necessary to supplement what the paperback art can’t depict. However, a high-budget adaptation like this does not need superfluous descriptions. I frequently felt like I was watching an action movie with someone who pauses it once a minute to comment on what’s happening.
About two-thirds of Demon Slayer is action scenes, and one-third is jarringly out-of-place comedy. When it works, it is a stunning spectacle; the heroes run through the dark moonlit forest chasing after vicious demons, orchestral music excellently hypes up any scene, then the breathtaking fight choreography. The background art is beautiful, occasionally the CGI backgrounds are jarring. Thick lines around the character designs make them (usually) feel suited against the realistic backgrounds. Both the demons and heroes have iconic designs with distinct color pallets. I didn’t notice a single shot with off-model character art. During action scenes, the use of CGI character models allowed for dynamic 3D camera movements, unlike anything I’ve seen since Ufotable’s Fate/Zero. Occasionally, CGI models were unnecessarily used at a distance, it was still distracting.
Suspension of disbelief is bent to the point of breaking in many of the action scenes, but many find it hard to criticize them because they’re so damn entertaining to watch. Every time he unleashes his water breathing technique, I was always in awe; the painterly ink-like waves with lush blues juxtaposed against the photorealistic background look cool every single time. He has tons of different water breathing styles, each with different animations and usages. A basic slash, then combos, a 360-degree slash, and a mercifully quick painless slash to name a few. The whole water breathing technique that he uses to fight is awesome, even if the logic behind it is a bit vague. As it is described in the show, you inhale deeply, and it gets your blood excited! So what does that really mean? Even he says, “I still don’t get it.” On the other hand, what’s less forgivable is Tanjiro’s super-powered nose. Even before he trains, he has this unbelievable ability. He smells emotions, he smells demons from a mile away, and he smells the invisible thread that allows him to make such accurate attacks. There are other unexplained abilities like super hearing; these kids are essentially the lamest heroes from My Hero Academia, except with no in-world explanation for their powers. Demon Slayer takes many shortcuts when writing its story and characters. If only those flaws didn’t permeate through the best part of the show, I might have been able to recommend it.
Tanjiro is a good person. His ideals are unshakable. He fights for his family, he throws himself into danger to save total strangers, he even comforts the demons’ tortured souls after slaying them. The problem is, he’s too good. His ideals rarely come into question. After seeing a few randos get murdered, he learns that not everyone can be saved. However, nothing breaks him. Unlike most monster-slaying main characters, his morals never blur the lines between becoming what he is fighting against. As a shounen hero, he is what you expect, an unequivocally good person. That’s why he’s such a boring protagonist. Motivated solely by his desire to slay demons and save his sister, his personality is essentially a blank slate for the audience to project onto. Unfortunately, he’s the best character we’ve got. Nezuko, as adorable as she is, has next to no lines of dialogue. Other demons can speak, for some reason, she is gagged with a stick. During the daytime, she waits within Tanjiro’s wooden box to avoid being burnt, only coming out when it is convenient for the plot. When her brother is outnumbered against stronger foes, she jumps out and decapitates demons with a dive kick. It’s badass… but their unlikely partnership doesn’t make much sense within the story’s internal logic. In the first episode, Nezuko is a vicious demon, prepared to eat her brother, and somehow unlike any other demon in the show, she can stop herself. Not even four episodes later, we see another kid-turned-demon immediately forget about his siblings and eat them (and he’s also able to speak immediately). She exists solely to motivate Tanjiro to save her, and that constantly made me think, “Why?” Why does he need to make her human? She’s in full control of her demon form, she’s insanely powerful, she doesn’t need that gag, and if she were a human, she would have died fighting alongside her brother. There are kindhearted demons in this show, people who were saved from death by being turned, so why is it such an issue? All I ask for is a story that remains true to its internal logic. She’s lobotomized and nonverbal, but look at this cute demon girl crouching in a basket!
The emotional payoffs lack the impact the visceral presentation they deserve. Right before or after a ‘boss’ demon is killed, we always see a flashback to make us sympathize with them. Trying to get the audience to care about a villain minutes (sometimes seconds) before they die just doesn’t work. They have already lost the fight; who cares if they had a tough childhood if we’ll never see them again? Like most of the emotional payoffs in this show, there is beautiful background music to carry the lacking script, most notably the insert song in episode nineteen. Without the music, the writing isn’t enough. All of the ‘development’ for the main characters happens in flashbacks too. Nezuko gets next to nothing. In the latter half of the show, the script has less time to be redundant. Instead, it’s replaced with comedy. I hoped the other characters shown in the OP/ED would be a lot better. Oh, how I was disappointed once Zenitsu was introduced. If there’s anyone who likes Demon Slayer for the humor more than the action, violence, artwork, and music, I’d sure like to ask them why. The characters are around fifteen years old, and that’s who the humor would appeal to. Over exaggerated reactions, crying, yelling. So. Much. Yelling. Zenitsu almost exclusively speaks with a shrill yelling voice. The few battles he fights alone are so frustrating that I was rooting for the demons. His defining character trait is ‘coward’. He does get a flashback eventually that still does nothing to explain why he is so annoying. Nearly all of the humor in Demon Slayer is jarringly placed right next to series moments. People get violently killed, then within seconds, cut to the main characters in a cartoony art style doing a slapstick routine. In a series as dark as this one, levity is necessary to a certain extent; however, it feels like the author tried to make the mature themes more accessible to a younger audience by using drastic tonal shifts from horror to humor. The maligned tone made the scary to me, but only because it was so all-over-the-place that I could barely tell what tone they were aiming for most of the time.
Tanjiro sees his family in flashbacks when he needs motivation in a fight. In the climactic moment of the entire show, he gets a new ability retconned into the story through a flashback. Many argue it was foreshadowed in the ED—however, the flashback explains a new storyline that gives Tanjiro a new power—a retcon. Inosuke is here too, he doesn’t do a whole lot, but he has more relevance than Nezuko, at least. Zenitsu and Inosuke are the most expendable characters. In the final arc, we get the most stilted dialogue in the entire series. A dozen new characters get introduced, each with one gimmick to their personalities. Overly cute, overly angry, completely nonverbal, they added nothing but fluff. Demon Slayer began with a roar but ended with a whimper. Even though it was poorly written, the stunning animation and grimdark aesthetic kept me entertained; it’s a shame they threw most of that out the window for filler and unfunny comedy in the final few episodes.
Either you will think this is one of the best shounen anime ever created, or you will think it has some of the worst writing in a big-budget anime to date. Perhaps even somewhere in between. You could skim a Wikipedia summary of the story, then watch all the action scenes on YouTube and you’d lose nothing. I’ll ask you one more time, are you willing to deal with bad writing to enjoy fantastic animation?
When it comes down to it, you’ll know what to do.
For a show to be good, it’s not always necessary for it to have a complex plot and a deep cast of characters. This is exactly what Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer) proves. This show is yet another spectacle by ufotable – the studio that can take an otherwise generic shounen with a fairly linear story and turn it into a show that has fans craving for more every week. The studio has done just that with Kimetsu no Yaiba by making it one of the most popular shows of the year with its animation quality and direction. Kimetsu no Yaiba is a show from Spring 2019 that only got a real popularity surge in Summer 2019. Half an episode of a cleverly directed and masterfully animated battle led this show to become one of the most prominent topics of discussion on online anime communities. That doesn’t mean the rest of the show isn’t a visual feast; it truly is eye candy from the first minute of the first episode to the final minute of the last.
The premise of the show isn’t original. It starts with the family of a hardworking boy who lives in a small village being devoured by a demon while he’s away. The only survivor, his sister, is turned into a demon herself and so the boy begins his journey to not only get revenge on the demon that took his family away from him, but also cure his sister and turn her into a human once again. I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we said that we haven’t come across similar plotlines in anime over the years. However, I’ve watched several shows over the years which have similar plotlines yet didn’t get a fraction of the popularity Kimetsu no Yaiba has garnered because they were done by smaller studios and didn’t have the visual prowess of what ufotable has brought us. One of the first shows that come to my mind when thinking about this is “Sirius the Jaeger” from Summer 2018. It’s got a very similar theme and protagonist to Kimetsu no Yaiba but with vampires instead of demons.
Ufotable really outdid itself here. I just can’t praise the studio enough because that’s how big their contribution has been. I wasn’t an original manga reader but I’ve gone and read the manga as far as the anime has been adapted and it does have some glaring plot pacing and character writing issues. The manga is honestly decent at best. The anime also manages to hide some very cliched moments that were scattered throughout the course of the manga.
Having said all that, there are some problems that the anime couldn’t totally eliminate from the manga. One of them is the pacing in the middle part of the anime. I felt that some fights and arcs dragged on for far too long. While this might not seem as a massive problem to people who binged these episodes, it did feel like a pain waiting weeks just to get to the conclusion of the said storylines. Come on, 2-3 episodes for a one-on-one or two-on-two fight, mostly sword-fights, is taking it too far, especially in a 26-episode season. It wouldn’t really be a problem if these arcs seemed naturally long. But they didn’t. You could easily make out that it was being drawn out to tiresome levels, and I have no idea why.
Like the narrative, Tanjirou Kamado, our main protagonist is a pretty straightforward character. Kind, gentle, selfless and caring are just some of the qualities that he possesses. His determination in the face of overwhelming opponents is nice to see, although again, it is something exceedingly typical of protagonist in a shounen. One of his most defining traits though is the love he bears for his family. He’ll go to any lengths to keep his sister, Nezuko (more about her later), the only real family that he has left, safe. On top of that, the primary motivation he has to find Kibutsuji Muzan, apparently the master of all demons, is not because he wants to avenge his family. Instead, it’s to find a cure that would make his sister human again. Throughout the season, he’s shown kindness towards everyone, human or demon. Even after becoming a Demon Slayer, he sympathizes with the situation demons find themselves in, having to rely on human flesh and blood simply in order to survive, even shedding tears for them. However, he finds out that that’s not true for every demon that he encounters. Some just kill for fun. This was a great opportunity to actually develop Tanjirou.
Unfortunately, this is where the second of my two complaints with the show begins: the handling of its characters and their development. Character development is extremely disappointing in Kimetsu no Yaiba and Tanjirou’s character is the prime example of that. Apart from his demon slaying skills, his personality as a whole did not grow much in the series. Some of the villains that are introduced have short arcs or an episode to themselves and it’s difficult to sympathize with them in that short period of time.
Now, let’s talk about the most tiresome of the entire cast, Zenitsu Agatsuma. He’s an annoying, weak, girl-chasing guy who somehow passed the Demon Slayer exams and became a demon slayer. His pessimistic nature was kinda amusing at the beginning, but it became old very, very quickly. He’s a coward who hides behind a kid when faced with a demon and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. The only reason he’s in the show at all is for comic relief, and that gets irritating very fast. Kimetsu no Yaiba has an extremely dark and serious vibe to it so the odd moment of humor wouldn’t have hurt if it was placed well. But no, Zenitsu has to bring out his shitty personality traits 5 times every episode. And even worse, his comic relief moments kill the mood during tense situations when the main cast is against a formidable enemy that they have barely any chance of defeating. How are we supposed to take these moments seriously when he’s drooling over girls or just lying there crying like a baby?! The guy has no major part to play this season and we’re supposed to believe that he’s one of the main characters. Good Lord! Remove Zenitsu and almost nothing would change. He’s the same at the end of the season as he was when he was introduced. Easily one of the more prominent reasons that dragged the series down for me.
We then have Inosuke Hashibira, another one of the new demon Slayers. A hot-headed boy who covers his face with a boar mask, he’s got excessive pride and a love for battle. His favored opponents are demons but he doesn’t mind beating up a human if they happen to come in the way of his fights. At first, he does come off as annoying with these traits dominating his character, but he does change into a more understanding person as the story progresses. He begins to see that there are beings out there, both humans and demons, against whom he’s no better than a fly to be swatted. I honestly quite enjoyed watching him as a character grow out of his little shell.
Next, we move on to everyone’s favorite girl: Nezuko. Even after being turned into a demon, she’s shown to have incredible restraint in her demonic thirst. Without speaking a single word since becoming a demon, she’s demonstrated her love for her brother over the course of the season. The bond between the two siblings is one of the driving points of the series. Her little “demonic” idiosyncrasies are amusing to say the least even though there are certain moments which made me question the physics side of things in the show. If you’ve already watched Kimetsu no Yaiba, you’ll get the reference.
There are two supporting characters who actually had massive impacts on the story, and whom I personally really enjoyed watching in the brief screentime that they got. They’re Giyuu Tomioka and Sakonji Urokodaki. These two actually shaped Tanjirou as a person going forward. Tomioka is the first demon slayer we’re introduced to, and the one that shows the path to Tanjirou to do the same. Urokodaki is the person who trained Tanjirou to be a demon slayer soon afterwards. Both of them impacted the way Tanjirou developed (although I have to say, he didn’t develop a lot) and his actions in the series are partially driven by what he was taught by them. There’s not too much else to say about the other characters without spoiling a bit since most of the remaining important characters are introduced in the second half of the season. The villains that do appear in the first half are very basic and slightly disappointing to be frank: almost all of them are shown to have a tragic history but I could never really sympathize with them. The author tries to invoke emotions with their past but fails in conveying it in an original manner that would actually leave an impact on the viewers.
Overall, the characters are easily the weakest part of the series. Zenitsu’s constant ramblings are a pain, and the writing as well as the lack of development of some other characters leaves a lot to be desired.
Visually, this show is a masterpiece. No other way to put it. In terms of animation, Kimetsu no Yaiba can compete with any other anime and still come out on top. It’s arguably the most well-animated series of the year and will go toe to toe with any other anime series you can throw at it. The animation is the reason that led to the popularity of the show and hats off to ufotable for that. Every episode is a visual feast. From the fluidity of the animation to the vibrant character designs, it’s all top-notch. Some of the fight scenes in Kimetsu no Yaiba are simply stunning and what’s equally stunning is their effective use of CGI. The aforementioned battle sequences are some of the best in anime in terms of animation quality, and that’s not an exaggeration.
The audio side of things isn’t shabby either. I was somewhat surprised by the decision to have only one opening and ending for both the cours. The opening was very pleasing in the first few episodes, but I began skipping it in the latter half of the show, not because I got tired of the vocals or the music, but because it had the same visual sequence as well. They definitely could’ve done with a second set of opening and ending although this is a small issue and doesn’t put any stains on the great production quality. The voice acting is splendid for the most part sans the annoying and repetitive trash that came out of Zenitsu’s mouth. Yes, it was fun in the beginning but it didn’t hold up well. His ramblings were just plain annoying after a few episodes. That complaint aside though, I felt that the VAs did a superb job of conveying the necessary emotions when required. Special props go out to the VAs doing the demons. They created incredible tension which when paired with the stupendous animation had me totally immersed.
And of course, how could I not mention the incredible work done by Yuki Kajiura and Go Shiina? Yuki Kajiura has a history of producing outstanding soundtracks for anime like Fate/Zero and Sword Art Online (the only good thing to come out of almost every season of SAO is the OST), and she certainly doesn’t disappoint here. The OST perfectly compliments the visuals, and I thought it immaculately suited the Edo period setting which Kimetsu no Yaiba seems to be based in. The series has a multitude of soundtracks which add variety and prevents any major overuse of a particular track. Near perfect score to the overall sound department.
At the end of the day, Kimetsu no Yaiba is a typical shounen with top-tier production values and a few critical issues such as some poor character writing and pacing. Despite these issues though, I enjoyed Kimetsu no Yaiba for what it was: an anime with stunning visuals and soundtrack which managed to keep me hugely entertained for the majority of its run. Even if you don’t particularly like shounen, I’d urge you to give this a shot just for the aesthetics if nothing else.
If there is one single thing to point to with Kimetsu no Yaiba, it would be its atmosphere. Brooding, oppressive, and tense are some of the adjectives I might use to describe the mood of Kimetsu no Yaiba. It is an anime that sucks you in and doesn’t let you go… most of the time, anyway. It is around the tenth episode when things make an unfortunate change for mass appeal – the characters Zenitsu and Inosuke: screaming, obnoxious lunatics who you might expect to see from a series like Naruto or Bleach rather than a careful series priding itself in its atmosphere.
That’s not to say that all the side characters should have been removed, or that battle shounen tropes are inherently bad. But certainly the show could have benefited from not having dude-with-boar-head yelling at the top of his lungs and some blonde dickweed whose raison d’etre is to burst your eardrums with his constant whining and crying. For one, perhaps two episodes, this is somewhat amusing and does well at giving the viewer a break from the despair, an intermission of sorts… not something you would expect from the entire story henceforth.
Although the roles of Zenitsu and Inosuke are somewhat diminished after the mansion arc, the story introduces the “Hashira” (or ‘Pillars’ in the localized dialogue), a set of nine warriors who sit atop the Demon Slaying corp as the strongest it has to offer. There are a few more normal faces here, particularly Tomioka, Shinobu, and Kanao (even though the latter is technically not part of the Hashira), but the rest are complete one-note gags much like Zenitsu and boar-face-man. A monk who is constantly in a state of tears, a strange woman who is infatuated with every man in existence, a constantly-angry clone of Bakugo from Hero Academia, and so on and so forth. While this might keep the interest of younger viewers and those of weaker attention spans, this contrast of silly and serious hampers the story and takes the viewer away from the atmosphere to such an extent that by the end of the anime’s twenty-six episode run, it has mostly just become another battle shounen series.
But for a battle shounen series, Kimetsu no Yaiba is top of its class, and even on its own still a worthwhile endeavor. Tanjiro and his moral dilemma of having to execute demons while protecting his sister, a demon herself, and harboring feelings of sympathy for those he cuts down, makes for a far more compelling and human protagonist than almost all of his brethren. He is exceptionally weak at the start, but his two years of training make his moderate combat skills seem appropriate, and he is still vulnerable enough that no plot armor will allow him to cut down opponents regardless of their power. Even by the end, he is losing many of his battles.
Though still very much shounen in nature, these battles deserve some praise for their inclusion of wounds and injuries. Whereas most anime of this genre will have characters— especially the protagonist— being beaten half to death and still standing as if almost nothing happened, Tanjiro is repeatedly being crippled by broken bones, internal bleeding, and his body simply giving up on him. There is a limit to his vitality, and he cannot simply get up and retaliate at max power as other protagonists often do. If he is hit in the leg, his leg will break, and he will be unable to escape or to attack at full power. These are small details, but they make the story far more engaging by giving consequence to the battles and a very real potential for death and failure.
Anime set before the modern day are rare enough, but ones set in the oft-forgotten Taisho period are closer to zero. Kimetsu no Yaiba’s setting is one of its greatest strengths, the early Taisho period being a bleak, short reprieve before Japan’s foray into militarism – perhaps the darkest decades the country had ever experienced. Though the imperial revolution had long since hit Japan by this point, and swords were outlawed and replaced by firearms almost fifty years prior, Tanjiro and the rest of the Demon Slaying corps fighting demons rather than humans allows for melee combat to make sense in a setting where it ordinarily wouldn’t. It’s certainly an interesting contrast to see the characters wielding katanas in big cities where trains and primitive automobiles are thriving about, and the forlorn atmosphere of the period fits well with the tension and despair entrenched within the story.
The setting and the atmosphere are amplified by the moody and period-appropriate sound design, with the shakuhachi (Japanese flute) and other traditional instruments, as well as up-tempo Buddhist chanting permeating the music. There are occasional tracks that do not fit the setting or the tone of the show, and the opening theme should not have been a generic throwaway J-Pop song, but for the most part the music is a hit.
Which can be said for the entirety of the anime, really. It’s a hit. Mostly. Had the manga been published for an older demographic, it would no doubt have been able to tell its story without the usual trappings of the battle shounen genre. But at the same time, a lesser-known publisher means the series would probably not have been published weekly or have been nearly as popular as it is, and so a studio as big as Ufotable would likely not have picked it up for a high-budget adaptation. So I can live with the realities, I suppose, and enjoy my time with the series. But I can also live without Zenitsu screaming my ears off.
4: JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 5: Ougon no Kaze
English: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
Japanese: ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 黄金の風
MAL Score: 8.59
In the coastal city of Naples, corruption is teeming—the police blatantly conspire with outlaws, drugs run rampant around the youth, and the mafia governs the streets with an iron fist. However, various fateful encounters will soon occur.
Enter Giorno Giovanna, a 15-year-old boy with an eccentric connection to the Joestar family, who makes a living out of part-time jobs and pickpocketing. Furthermore, he is gifted with the unexplained Stand ability to give and create life—growing plants from the ground and turning inanimate objects into live animals, an ability he has dubbed “Gold Experience.” Fascinated by the might of local gangsters, Giorno has dreamed of rising up in their ranks and becoming a “Gang-Star,” a feat made possible by his encounter with Bruno Buccellati, a member of the Passione gang with his own sense of justice.
JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze follows the endeavors of Giorno after joining Bruno’s team while working under Passione, fending off other gangsters and secretly plotting to overthrow their mysterious boss.
I am a fan of JOJO, a big one at that, but this part, i.e. part 5 is kind of overrated. Now, before you guys unleash the 7-page Muda on me, let me address this first – overrated does not mean bad, it just means that while the show is good, people put it on a pedestal reserved for the greats. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get started.
JOJO Part 5 aka “Golden (Experience) Wind” aka “How does King Crimson work?” aka “Araki flexes on you with his awesome taste in music” aka “Girono’s piss drinking adventure” is the fifth instalment in the Jojo franchise. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of the few shounen that does something which most other shounen don’t, that is, it’s actually manages to be interesting. This season we follow Giorno Giovanna as he has a dream in which he pledges to become a gangster and kill the reigning mafia boss. The plot is as simple as it gets but the way it is crafted is what makes Jojo an amazing series.
The characters are colourful and flamboyant as has been the case with previous instalments of the franchise and each character brings something new to the table. There are many characters that have been introduced thus far in the series and no two characters feel the same. They all have their unique personalities and powers. That being said, many of the characters in this season are quite boring. Comparing the characters in part 5 to those in part 4 or part 2 makes me feel like there’s something missing with the characters in this part.
The characters in part 4, along with being awfully stylish and making me self-conscious of my own image, had their own distinct personalities and received immense characterisation which helped solidify their place in the overall narrative, but Golden Wind decides to not have as much depth to the characters and instead gives them some kind of unique trait, which, when applied to minor antagonists works to some extent but, when the same strategy is used for main characters, it falls flat.
There are 6 main characters this time, viz Girono, Buccellati, Mista, Narancia, Abbacchio and Fugo. Girono is a great main character and so is Buccellati. Both are well characterised and I really enjoyed their backstory, I really wish I could say the same for the rest of the characters. Mista is a character who religiously believes that every person in this world has a destiny set out for him and a man cannot deny his destiny no matter how hard he tries. He believes this because he was sent to prison and then got out. That is all it takes for him to follow his religion of fate.
Abbacchio is a dick to Girono for some reason and only trusts Buccellati because he has “lost faith in humanity” due to him, with his own volition, receiving a bribe from a criminal which ultimately resulted in the death of his partner. Can you find the logic in here, because I surely can’t.
Fugo and Narancia can be described as 150 IQ and 50 IQ respectively and that basically sums up their character. Any attempt to flesh out their characters via backstories felt cheesy and banal. Instead, I would’ve preferred if they’d developed throughout the show’s run. I am admittedly shitting on the characters but I can’t deny the fact that watching these characters’ dynamics with the plot and each other was a Golden experience (heh, see what I did there?). Anyway, I don’t hate the characters, but I don’t LOVE them either; I just wish more care was put into the characters.
The main antagonist, Divolo, is great. His end goal is to completely erase his existence so that no one can trace him, but he acts in pretty questionable way in order to achieve his target. Questionable not in the sense, “Oh boy, that was a pretty evil thing to do”, no not that, but questionable in the sense, “wtf is he doing?”. The next few lines have to be spoilers in order for me to explain my statement.
He wants to kill his daughter Trish with his own hands in order to protect his identity as she could be a mean to uncover his past, and thus he cannot entrust this job to anyone. So, Girono and the gang take his daughter to a secluded island and are ordered to take the girl into an abandoned building accompanied by a bodyguard. Why didn’t he call his daughter in by herself? I’m pointing this out because this is the crux of the second half of the show. Had Buccellati not gone with Trish, he never would’ve found out about the true nature of Diavolo and the second half would’ve been about 50 episodes long or maybe would’ve never happened.
——————————————–Spoilers End ————————————————
Now, let’s get to the two main appeal of Jojo which is the fights and the stands. Araki really let out his creative genius in this part as almost all the stands are unique and have a very specific set of abilities which give rise to some great fights in the series. The stands in this part are my favourite as even though there are a ton of characters in this part who posses a stand, no two have the same abilities or even remotely feel the same. Girono has a stand that can give anything life, Bucellatti has a stand that can create zippers on any material, Abbacchio’s stand can replay any past scene etc. There are many great stands in this part; I can’t explain them all due to spoilers but trust me when I say that the stands are absolutely majestic and better than they’ve ever been, at least when viewed through a creative perspective.
Now, the fights. The thing I like about fights, especially stand battles, in Jojo is that no matter how outlandish or cheesy they get, they are never boring. Battles are won through wit and shrewdness, not with “nakama” power and boy are there some great fights in this part. Since every new minor villain our heroes encounter has a different stand than the last, the Jo-Bros have to come up with new tactics every time in order to ensure their victory. No two villains are defeated in the same way and the stakes are higher than ever.
All the fights in this part are great…, which is what I would say if they were. The stands themselves are great and utilised to almost their full potential, but the same is not true for the users’ brain. I could feel myself being irritated during some fights especially the one in which Narancia’s tongue was replaced with a stand and he was spewing nonsense. Instead of realising that they’re under an enemy attack, the protagonists start an argument among themselves. This shit goes on for two whole episodes until the enemy is finally defeated.
I said that the stands in this part are my favourite, but there is a stand, an important one at that, which is just ridiculously overpowered and admittedly was an asspull. Gold Experience Requiem is Girono’s Gold Experience evolved and it comes out of a shell like any other non-mammal baby and that stand’s abilities are more broken than the shell it came out of. Before good old Gold Experience evolves, the protagonists are being overpowered, then literally 2 seconds after the appearance of Gold Experience Requiem they have the upper hand. I might be nitpicking, but it did take away from the overall experience of the boss fight.
The art and animation are godly. Even though I prefer Diamond is Unbreakable’s art style, the art of this part has gradually grown up on me. The background art is fantastic and the whole show is vivid and vibrant. Every colour palette chosen for a particular scene is probably the best it could’ve gotten.
The music is amazing as well. The first opening, Fighting Gold, is just pure epicness and the character themes are pure perfection. The sound that the stands make while doing stand stuff is well suited for each stand. The voice acting is great and there isn’t an insipid moment.
What I like about JOJO is the fact that it does not try to be something that it’s not. The characters adopt the Robin-hood ideology but it’s not forced upon the viewer as is the case with many other anime. The characters simply are the way they are, they follow their own philosophies and are not brought down by or question the ideals or morals of others. Most of the fights are great, the stands are amazing and even though the characters do fall flat at times, it’s still an enjoyable ride and has probably the best villain you’ll see this year. All in all, Golden Wind is another great addition to an already great franchise.
Go watch it.
The general premise of a Jojo part, is no brainers for anyone familiar with the series, we have our megalomaniac villain to defeat, a group of idealistic heroes, the clear distinction between good and evil. And, of course the oldest way of resolving conflict, proving your rightness, by simply eliminating the other guy, and his objection. Fighting and beating the crap of bad guys is the main element of Jojo, with its bombastic, masculine fights and weird powers. To an extent I am not much of a fan of mega complex power systems in general, those are simply endless rules, limitations, specific powers, which mean nothing, and just amount for the author playing really complicated logistic chess with himself in every battle (with endless exposition). Nevertheless, I respect the variability, and immense number of circumstance those create.
Really, there is nothing wrong with this premise; it can amount to some of the more interesting works of fiction. Araki himself, has already proved repeatedly, he can spun this mold, to something at least interesting. Playing such stupidity earnestly, filling simple narratives with energy, a grand scope, and comprehensible dramatic and logistical stakes, can generate great entertainment.
This was sadly not the case here. Araki takes out most of his dry stupid humor, the situation awareness, and pleasure in indulging in baffling scenarios. There was always a tendency at looking at the humorous, seeing conflict, world and the general scenarios as a joke in Jojo’s, the climax of part 2 being exactly about how nothing makes sense, and the protagonist poking fun at the antagonist, and chain of events. There was always an unbelievably childish humor, filled with eschatological occurrences (fezzes everywhere), pointless gore (lots of killed animals), endless sadistic unbelievable murders, waiting at every corner. The characters were smartasses, just throwing one liners, and witty dialogue at one another, overreacting to everything in the most enjoyable way possible.
Now most of this is gone, or toned down. The bizarreness remains in name, but is sadly lacking in attitude. Those were replaced with more drama, serious naturalistic reactions, and long moments of people staring at another, rationally thinking the best course of option. Or in the endless joyless fights, that comprised most of any specific episode. Levity is kept to a minimum, self-importance of specific situations and conflicts raises to unbelievable heights. Character interactions, witty dialogues and bouncing personalities, that were mandatory in any episode of parts 3 or 4, are barely here.
A shame none of this serves to make a more meaningful narrative. Characters are barely anything more than skilled stand users, which fight really well. There is strange case to be made for them, because they seem to make the impossible, start to get less interesting the more the story progress. It is as if you know less about this people at the end of the line, than at the end of first quarter. The flashbacks and introductions are promising, presenting group dynamics, personalities, their wants, needs and troubles in life. When finishing their specific episodes, any main character narrative is over, their motivations go nowhere, development is nonexistent, ideals are barely there, specific quirks and attitudes are so rarely remembered they barely count as there. There is no one with a comprehensible, well-developed mentality, and specific mindset. The cast mostly consist of the same guy, all mechanically dealing with the next enemy of the week most of the time, with not much else going on.
However, those pale in comparison, to the disastrous structure. Events and objectives come and go, with seemingly very little progression, or any meaningful change. There is no reason for the climax to not have happened maybe 15, or even more episodes earlier, and nothing occurs of substance in most of the side quests. You have these awful character deaths being sold as grand twists, when they actually mean nothing in the grand scheme, change nothing, and are not even culminating or cathartic for the characters themselves (with one exception). Those amount only to sappy excuses for everybody to get sad for a moment, and then quickly move on as if nothing happened. This ends in a climax, where the main conflict is resolved with no internal change, or the protagonist learning something, but by being granted the ultimate bullshit power up, and everybody stands (including the audience) having no idea what the fuck it does. Of course, there is an even better epilogue, about a minor story before the events of the main series, which helps not to inform or close character or story, but just to give a better sense of the brilliant recurring theme of destiny. Those priorities are just so completely wrong.
Despite still considering Araki a good writer, there is no other label than disappointment to part 5. Because of overextending a simple story, while removing everything that made it fun. While some individual moments, and battles are actually enjoyable (Araki is a master at twists, constantly changing and messing a fight scene), those are completely eclipsed by a messy whole. Obscuring the weirdness and coolness of narrative, in cloth of self-importance and pretentions is a mistake I did not expect from the man, and found nothing in his vision to compensate.
A journey into the Jojo franchise may take some time for newer viewers to get used to. Luckily at this point, any fan jumping into Golden Wind should be familiar with the Jojo experience. David Productions managed to bring their A-game into the show with fluid choreography and stylistic action scenes. Almost every fight feels unique with the mind games, Stand abilities, and occasional trash talk. Dialogues added in makes the fight feel engaging because let’s face it, who wants to watch a dragged out battle filled with nonsense? Some shows with similar genres fall for this mistake but Golden Wind makes the best of it. Plus, you can be sure to experience some awesome battle music such as Bruno’s theme song in the anime.
With another 39 episodes, you may wonder the overall direction of the story. Jojo has been known to be faithful to its fans when it comes to adaptation standards. The previous Jojo anime series followed a formula of adapting each arc at a careful pace. Golden Wind compresses approximately 155 chapters to work with and the roadmap seemed like it would be difficult to fit into 39 episodes. In fact, this show actually inserted some anime original scenes to flesh out the overall tone of the story. Mind you, accomplishing this feat is not easy as it would require omitting some content. Thankfully, the show managed to stay intact. Some of the more prominent battles (such as against King Crimson) makes a huge impact to show how dangerous the antagonists can be while making the protagonists looks strong at the same time. Speaking of which, who are the gang of characters joining this season?
One of the most prominent characters is none other than the Stand user of Gold Experience, Giorno Givanna. Now I’m not going to lie but compared to other previous Jojo protagonists, he stands out more as a lesser heroic guy. With his tactical mind and colder personality, Giorno can take some time to get used to at first. Comparing to other Jojo characters, he is also much more serious and thus have lesser time to make jokes in the show. Luckily, this season still has a lot of room for entertainment with its balanced cast. The most important one consists of the group led by Bruno Bucciatari. This group consists of mainly outcasts and in general, characters who wants to bring a purpose to their lives. Their main mission is to protect a young woman named Trish Una. The group itself consists of a unique character cast of various personalities. What really sells their characters is how each of them are carefully developed with their background stories. Their presence in the show got me invested into each of them for not only their roles but how they became who they are in the present storyline. This list includes the Leone Abbacchio, Guido Mista, and even the childish Narancia Ghirga. Even Bruno’s right-hand man, Pannacotta Fugo becomes an important figure despite being a side character. Trish’s character also develops throughout the story that sees her growing up from a spoiled brat to a courageous companion in the group. At the end of the day, it’s easy to pick out at least one or two characters you can relate to or find likable.
Similar to previous Jojo series, Golden Wind has a diverse range of antagonists and groups. The Italian mafia gang known as “Passione” is easily the most dominate group led by Diavolo. With a large amount of operatives and secrecy, Passione tests the limits of how powerful a group really can be in the Jojo franchise. The boss Diavolo himself is also a mysterious character whose secrecy makes him one of the most intriguing characters in the show. As the owner of one of the most dangerous Stands, he’s no pushover and in fact becomes the biggest threat to the main characters. Other prominent members of Passione such as Polpo, Zucchero, and Luca brings unique problems in each of their arcs. While it may feel redundant at first with the familiar “monster of the week” adventure formula, Golden Wind makes the most of its villains to make them as memorable as possible. This also extends to the assassins from La Squad Esecuzoni as each arc feel like an adventurous thriller with the antagonists trying to kill Trish. However, we shouldn’t also declare the protagonists in the show as caped heroes. Honestly, it’s easy to see the main protagonists as anti-heroes. If we take a look at some of their actions, they include killing if it means getting the job done. This is a take on a darker version of the previous Jojo protagonists but also brings in a refreshing side of the show. Whether you agree with their actions or not, it stands firm that Golden Wind contains some questionable content. I’m just glad the anime adapted the content for what it is and didn’t fall victim to dreaded censorship.
Golden Wind hits the ball out of the park with its technical elements. The art style looks fantastic with its character details. In particular, the Stands in this show are all decorated with unique characteristics that makes them stand out. The camera angles of the battles scenes also makes every fight feel impactful. Even the close up frames and character expressions are captured with importance. Director Yasuhiro Kimura makes a strong impression with its art direction and deserves praise. Similarly, the music in the show carries a great amount of charisma with its OST. Fighting Gold became one of my favorite OP songs of the year for its fighting lyrics and choreography. Keeping in pace with its other bizarre elements, “Uragirimono no Requiem” also hits the mark with visual dynamics.
After weeks and weeks of bizarre adventure, we’ve finally arrived at the end and it’s been an unforgettable journey. Following Giorno and his comrades together is more than just a golden experience. Having read the manga, I had high expectations for this adaptation and it left me with no less than being impressed. This show may be over but the Jojo universe is still open for exploration. And when the anime adaptation of Stone Ocean inevitably gets announced someday, we can relive another bizarre adventure again.
3: Vinland Saga
Japanese: ヴィンランド サガ
MAL Score: 8.73
Young Thorfinn grew up listening to the stories of old sailors that had traveled the ocean and reached the place of legend, Vinland. It’s said to be warm and fertile, a place where there would be no need for fighting—not at all like the frozen village in Iceland where he was born, and certainly not like his current life as a mercenary. War is his home now. Though his father once told him, “You have no enemies, nobody does. There is nobody who it’s okay to hurt,” as he grew, Thorfinn knew that nothing was further from the truth.
The war between England and the Danes grows worse with each passing year. Death has become commonplace, and the viking mercenaries are loving every moment of it. Allying with either side will cause a massive swing in the balance of power, and the vikings are happy to make names for themselves and take any spoils they earn along the way. Among the chaos, Thorfinn must take his revenge and kill Askeladd, the man who murdered his father. The only paradise for the vikings, it seems, is the era of war and death that rages on.
This dude is apparently the protagonist of the story, but he does absolutely nothing to deserve this title. No wait, he runs like Naruto and is OP for some inexplicable reason after receiving absolutely no adequate training throughout his young life, so I guess he does check off most of the boxes for “generic anime protagonist.” Unfortunately, he has zero semblance of development until the very end of the anime. And his personality throughout the entire show is as stale as expired bread. Now I don’t care if he evolves much more as a person in the much longer source material. I’m basing everything off of what I see in the anime, and what I see is a poorly written character whose total stagnancy is astounding. Also, Vinland Saga is considered to be a historical anime and boasts a more realistic take on Vikings. Now no one, least of all me, expected this anime to be entirely realistic. I mean come on, it’s an anime after all. But when Thorfinn can accomplish feats like casually charging through hundreds of arrows shot at his head, leaping 12 feet in the air over a moat, sprinting up the side of a vertical castle wall, and running through dozens of trained soldiers in armor while making abrupt slashing motions with his knives that decapitate all of them with one slice, then I start to have a problem with the “realism” factor. Moments like these had deleterious effects on the quality of the anime in my eyes, and Thorfinn’s inexplicable demigod-like feats of strength and skill when compared to the generally normal capabilities of the majority of the rest of the cast caused a disconnect with the historical direction that the anime seemed to be aiming for.
Of course that loud, mountain of a man Thorkell is somehow worse when it comes to absolutely shattering any sense of realism that Vinland Saga was aiming for, but I don’t even want to attempt to talk about that horrendously written character.
Yes, I believe Thorfinn failed spectacularly as a protagonist. But thankfully, there’s Askeladd. He’s honestly much more of a main character than Thorfinn, and is actually quite compelling and given a believable reason for his actions. He’s clearly the deepest character and most entertaining part of the show, and despite my issues with many aspects of the anime *cough* Thorfinn *cough* he kept things interesting. He’s the type of character that you initially want to hate but then grow to appreciate as time goes on, and I have to commend Vinland Saga for writing him in such a compelling way. But even Askeladd couldn’t save Vinland Saga from falling into mediocrity. And that’s thanks to the inclusion of another certain character.
Canute is a Norse princess waifu…but he’s a dude. The entire arc surrounding Canute can be summarized as Askeladd’s vikings with Canute in tow march through all of England in fear of Thorkell’s vikings who are in pursuit. It’s terribly boring and is worsened by Canute constantly whining to his cone-headed adviser until even Askeladd gets annoyed by his character and tries to make a man out of him. Canute remains stagnant for many episodes until he has this incredibly pathetic and laughable epiphany about love that doesn’t really make any sense and his character suddenly does a complete 180. His voice proceeds to drop an octave and his eyes get smaller and sharper to visually imply that yes, Canute’s balls have finally dropped. His character transformation is so abrupt and nonsensical that I can only describe it as a monumental failure when it comes to development. This is especially sad because I know that the author of Vinland Saga has the ability to write quality characters. He did it with Askeladd after all. It just feels like he sort of gave up on trying to realistically develop Canute over a proper period of time and was just like “Screw it, he’s a badass now!” Which is honestly quite unfortunate.
I also find the narrative to be quite weak and lazily written. Sure, it shows on multiple occasions how harsh and cruel Vikings can be, but in reality it just depicts a bunch of dudes traveling around accomplishing not much of anything for like 20 episodes with a few “dark” moments sprinkled in to remind viewers that they’re watching a medieval fantasy. I honestly couldn’t find much depth or intrigue in this anime at all. It’s just not interesting to me whatsoever and feels like a ginormous waste of time. And the whole revenge plot surrounding Thorfinn and Askeladd had about as much substance as the awful revenge plot featured in Masamune-Kun’s Revenge. Which is to say that there’s practically zero substance, as it never feels like Thofinn makes any progress whatsoever at getting back at Askeladd. Now this would be fine if the anime took the route of trying to develop their bond and bring them closer over the years, but it doesn’t feel like that either. That is of course until the anime force feeds us that angle at the end in a last ditch attempt to derive some emotional impact…sorry, it didn’t work. The whole show is just Thorfinn being perpetually angry at Askeladd and Askeladd being sort of indifferent to Thorfinn, which was quite disappointing for me. It made the whole anime feel sort of pointless. And when I can draw parallels to frickin Masamune-Kun’s Revenge, which is in my opinion one of the poorest produced anime of the 2010s, you just know that Vinland Saga done goofed up somewhere along the line.
Despite my harsh criticism of Vinland Saga, I don’t actually hate the show or anything. It does have some solid visual and sound work (bar the jarring CGI), courtesy of Wit Studio. And there are some fun fight sequences included. I’m just disappointed that the anime squandered so much potential. While it admittedly starts strong with Thors and finishes strong with Askeladd, the rest…unfortunately isn’t the best.
As the struggles between English and Danes grew worse each passing year, calls for peace had diminished, and death became commonplace. In the wake of these restless times were Vikings; violent raiders who reaped the spoils of war and marched to the beat of their drum. Brutal, merciless and unfeeling, they pillaged whoever they pleased and left only wreckage behind them. And raised by the band who murdered his father is Thorfinn, a young boy driven by hatred, longing to cut down the one responsible and avenge his past.
This is the tale of Vinland Saga, a sprawling epic penned by Makoto Yukimura that thrusts you into a world drenched in bloody violence and battle-hungry warriors. At least, that is what the manga first introduces readers to. Whereas the anime, produced by Wit Studio with director Shuuhei Yabuta at the helm, decides to take a different approach with the saga by telling its narrative chronologically. Aside from a short battle sequence, viewers aren’t subjected with carnage outright, but a calm and tranquil village on the coast of Iceland untouched by the remnants of war. In doing so, it trades the fast-paced feel of its original story for a more methodical slow burn that fortunately retains enough intrigue and uneasiness to keep it from becoming a tedious watch.
Such a change carries significant implications for the remainder of its runtime, altering the show’s focus in such a way that brings more light to the world at large. Yukimura is often praised for his passion of technical realism as displayed in his previous work Planetes. Vinland Saga is no different, taking inspiration from Nordic tales that combine elements of culture, family and overarching philosophy into an engrossing plot. Here these features are given slightly more consideration, with early episodes providing a greater representation of the lifestyles embodied in this realistic setting. The nameless faces we encounter, though unimportant to the story at large do feel like real people, with their own goals, families and livelihoods. This level of realism is also found through various anime-only scenes later in the series, that both maintain the steady pace of the show between key events and help in conveying an appropriate air of verisimilitude for its interpretation of the saga at large.
With a more methodical approach comes a better understanding of Vinland Saga’s characters initially. Some may be inclined to point out how this comes at the cost of cast members losing some degree of subtlety, feeling forced in the process. But what is important to note is that characters early on lay the foundation for the development of our protagonist. Thorfinn is easily impressionable and holds a curious eye from those he admires, most notably his father who he learned the concepts of honour and courage from. His actions when his morals are tested, and more importantly Thorfinn’s reactions aim to give viewers a clearer look at the bigger picture – a story of personal and global discovery. It is more than happy to let viewers dwell on the tender moments and melancholic scenery before the story inevitably shifts gears. As a child, Thorfinn sat at the feet of the great explorer Leif Erickson, captivated by his thrilling tales and in turn longed for adventure of his own. However, those youthful fantasies are soon shattered in a raid that leaves the boy craving revenge on the band’s leader, Askeladd.
Vinland Saga thrives off the dichotomy between Thorfinn and Askeladd. A child’s innocence ruined with only vengeance left in its place, and a man that epitomizes what any Viking would want in a leader: strong, intelligent, calculated and charismatic. One wears his deadened heart on his sleeve, unfazed by the “comrades” around him and content with watching the world burn, while the other holds a silver tongue and laid-back demeanour, masking his desire for influence by any means necessary. Thorfinn is willing to take part in whatever atrocities asked of him if it means bringing him closer to killing his commander, even though he’s just a pawn in the greater game Askeladd is playing. Their relationship is one that walks on thin ice, giving each of their interactions a hint of uncertainty. Not only is it hard to predict how the plot will progress and subsequently where it’ll take this band of misfits, but also how Thorfinn will be able to achieve his revenge, if at all.
Consistent characterization is arguably the show’s greatest strength, as within a story so epic in scope lies a profound study of character archetypes. The source material knows that historical stories often require authentic characters and the adaptation does not forget this. Vikings are neither vicious by nature nor are they depicted as idealized figures of legend, just men hardened through tough lives with dreams of making a fortune. The raids are done less out of malice but rather from the need to survive in a landscape where winters are long and resources are scarce. These warriors are humanized to an extent that prompts questions on the nature of war and those who voluntarily take part in such. The world and its inhabitants are considered for with a more holistic perspective than what anime normally offers, delivering on its rare setting that warrants a mature audience. There have been criticisms lobbied at the anime regarding some of the exaggerated feats of power and use of clichés as if it were a shounen story, which I find ironic given the manga was originally published as a shounen before being moved to a seinen magazine. Being a relatively faithful adaptation, the anime incorporates these parts but gradually grounds them into the plot, convincingly enough to where it slowly but surely no longer requires as much suspension of disbelief from the viewer.
While Vinland Saga is rich in depth and subtext, it is still a story steeped in action and combat. Unfortunately, this is where the anime suffers most. It’s worth pointing out that this show does have its merits visually; art director Yusuke Takeda and his staff at studio BAMBOO boast some astounding digital background art that capture the gravity in times of mourning and sorrow. The voice acting performances – Thorfinn’s especially – are excellent in bringing the struggles and emotions to life. Character designs by Takahiko Abiru do well to imitate Yukimura’s artwork – albeit not with such excellent attention to detail or graphic displays of savagery, but still quite serviceable enough for a TV anime. There’s this myth that Vinland Saga is among the likes of Berserk, Kingdom and Vagabond as manga considered impossible to adapt. This is hyperbole, as apart from Vagabond’s aesthetic, these can all be realistically recreated in anime depending mostly on the staff, budget and scheduling. Fixating on atrocious efforts in the last decade only soils the standards that fandoms will have for future attempts. Thankfully, this adaptation is generally effective in transforming the majority of the manga’s illustrations and panel compositions to animated form… Expect for one key aspect: the action.
The battles in Vinland Saga look about as disorderly as the computer-generated ocean that our cast frequently sail over. Of course, that isn’t the say that water is the only thing that is CG: the boats are always CG, the foot soldiers often turn CG, the entire environment in long-shots end up being CG, and all these examples of CG integration look especially jarring. It’s reminiscent of Shuuhei Yabuta’s work overseeing the 3D animation on Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2, with short yet often noticeable faults. The direction overall is still an improvement over his last directorial effort on Inuyashiki, even holding flashes of excellence as the different animation styles, models and digital effects merge into great action sequences. But these moments are few and far between a multitude of scenes looking as though they were haphazardly worked on and do not coalesce well in comparison.
Even the more experimental cinematography such as first-person perspective shots that appear great in concept pale in contrast to other anime that pulled off the same technique far better in the same year (Mob Psycho anyone?). By the time it finishes airing, there will be those eager to shower this series with immense praise for the art and animation, whilst forgetting to mention the inconsistent nature of its visuals. It’s tumultuous. There are great screenshots you can take of the anime at its most expressive and colourful – most of which are found away from the action. Likewise, there are short clips that highlight the visual blandness and worse portions that barely look as though they belong to the same season. The action still holds tension and weight when watching, but half the time you are probably better off glossing over them.
These action scenes do gradually improve over the season, even if simply by not being as ambitious as before. However, there still lies various issues within the script that are worth mentioning, if only for their lasting effect on the project. Earlier I pointed out the importance of historical accuracy in Vinland Saga that pervades every corner of its setting. For the most part, the anime remains accurate in its portrayal of 11th century Northern Europe. But the screenplay is where most of its discrepancies exist. The staff in charge of writing such altered sections from the source material that acknowledge proper cultures, only to have such be overwritten for what I can only surmise as for the sake of localization. This furthermore muddles the various languages that characters are meant to speak throughout the story. There were never complaints about the manga including morsels of lore into the plot, and all these changes do is needlessly break immersion and consistency. This dialogue is also laden with telling the viewer actions that are clearly shown seconds beforehand. These could easily be brushed aside as nitpicking, but when these instances happen time and time again, it’s no longer a nitpick; it’s a recurring problem.
But nevertheless, these problems do little to take away from the overall experience that makes Vinland Saga such a special piece of fiction in the realm of manga and now anime. While the premise does tell a tale of revenge, there is a balance ever-present. It rides a line which avoids getting too heady for its own good, but at the same time follows a linear path that realizes its potential to be intellectually stimulating. Drawing you in with its copious amounts of violence, before peeling back the layers to reveal something truly meaningful. Look beyond the strokes of bloodshed from mere pawns and see what caused these acts to occur. Vinland Saga casts a mirror over this time in history, on both famous figures and those forgotten overtime and simply asks us to think over what is shown. Consider if Thorfinn really has any enemies to justify his pursuit for vengeance. Ponder over the musings of a priest that fall on the deaf ears of most Vikings. And imagine if there were a land somewhere, far from slavery and the flames of war.
Of all the clashing ideals of love, war and pacifism at play, the most fascinating comes from Prince Canute. Hard to fathom at first, being introduced as timid and weak, even drawn with a bishounen appearance. His inexperience in times of conflict and inability to function without his servant make him wholly unfit to rule over anyone, as demonstrated once held hostage by Askeladd. Every man is a slave to something: Thorfinn to his anger, Askeladd to the past, Thorkell to the battlefield and Canute to his own comfort. But it is once he loses the person closest to him when the shackles around him are broken. His preconceived notions about the world are shattered, leading to a startling epiphany where he is born anew as the strong leader history remembers. Canute’s ambition to spite God and create a utopia on Earth is chilling to watch develop, with heavy piano music accompanied that while ill-suited for the setting, hits all the emotional beats. His motivations not only serve as a compelling transformation of his character, but bring into question basic tenets of love and freedom with an intriguing yet complex theological framework. If the Vikings represent a struggle of maintaining independence, Canute’s arc symbolises the first steps toward a nation state, where freedom is forcibly exchanged for stability – and the Prince is more than willing to cut his father down to achieve that dream.
‘Every action has a consequence.’
Behind the brutality and political scheming lies this constant message. They are felt by each character and echoed through the narrative. In part, this is what makes Vinland Saga such an unpredictable journey. Thorfinn’s past catches up to him and tries to sway him from the existence he chose after seeing his father slain with his own eyes. Askeladd’s craftiness and quick decision-making for years has brought him to serve under Canute as his right-hand man. And the Prince’s circumstances caused by the King’s order has resulted in the emergence of his greatest threat to the crown. From the beginning, the series has prepared its stage for an inevitable impasse, with each piece carefully positioned for their own personal growth. But despite all the planning and deliberation possible, the world may decide to deal you a different hand. The nature of the world is unflinching, with unexpected endings sometimes being peaceful, tragic and even undeserved, for better or for worse. After everything being built up to this moment, we are given more questions than answers, and left in shambles, unsure of what awaits these characters in the saga’s next entry. The prologue concludes. Such is life, and such is history.
– – – – – – –
For years, Vinland Saga has been proclaimed as a must-read classic manga, and here the anime does it justice. It’s a powerful tale with well-defined, palpable characters all living in a harsh yet beautifully captured world brought to life by rich colours, stellar landscapes and a varied selection of melodies that help convey a specific tone. Presenting the narrative in a different medium where it does falter on occasion, but essentially stays true to the heart of Vinland Saga, even providing original content that compliment the core material with a strong directorial voice and impressive execution. Some may be concerned for where the series can go after such an ending. But let me assure you that Vinland Saga knows what kind of story it’s telling, and it is nothing short of remarkable.
Thorfinn Thorsson is the Icelandic protagonist, a character with complex personality driven with an ambition. After the death of his father, he becomes a warrior, someone who will do whatever it takes to get his revenge. In this 11th century, the audience must understand how barbaric life is. Every day is an adventure where possibilities are almost limitless. Vinland Saga is very engrossing with a rich culture and preaches to the elements of historical fiction. This anime adaptation adapts a story to get us familiar with its Viking world, the harsh life of Thorfinn Throsson, and what it means to survive.
Besides Planetes, Vinland Saga is mangaka Makoto Yukimura’s most prominent work. The anime adaptation remains faithful throughout the series but the director does mention that “there will be some adjustments to the manga”. With that in mind, the audience shouldn’t need to worry too much because Vinland Saga is fundamentally an adaptation for fans of the original series. The first few episodes takes off to showcase the violence and barbaric nature of the 11th century. From the harsh weather to immense amount of bloodshed, it is obvious the producers wanted to make the anime feels as real as possible. Wit Studio managed to carry a caliber of high production quality throughout a great deal of this series. The landscapes and Baltic Sea are illustrated with gorgeous visual quality enhanced by its realism. The scenes in some episodes contains elements of photorealism, characteristics that makes this show’s visual quality nothing less than a near masterpiece. There’s a Viking culture that we must quickly adapt to such as the rough clothing, crude ships, and historical weapons. Vehicles are replaced by horses and technology is crafted by the hands of humankind. In essence, this anime retains a beautiful setting but with dark elements of complex storytelling.
With the characters in mind, Thorfinn is the central protagonist as we focus on his rebellious life. During his childhood, he was happier like an ordinary kid before his life changed forever. Now, he carries a vengeful attitude with a rebellious nature while trusting almost no one but himself. He is what I describe as a survivalist, someone who is opportunistic, wild, and unpredictable. He is fundamentally a decent person although some of his actions are questionable throughout the series. It’s hard to judge his character altogether in this adaptation but based on his actions, you could say he is far from a heroic protagonist. What is important is the relationship he develops with others in particular, Askeladd, the man who manipulated Thorfinn into his service. This becomes a complex relationship because Askeladd was contracted to kill Thors, Thorfinn’s father. As leader of his own Viking band, he is an important figure because of his influence on Thorfinn. And the more you watch Vinland Saga, the more you’ll realize how much certain characters have influence over others.
Taking some steps back, the audience should also be familiar with Thors, the father of Thorfinn. As one of the most powerful character in the franchise, Thors is a testament and symbol of warrior. And despite not being around as much as the other characters, Thors teaches us what it means to be a true warrior. This is somewhat in contrast to Thorkell, a barbaric man with inhuman strength and widely considered to be one of the most brutal warriors in the series. He loves the thrill of fighting, to always find powerful opponents, and tests his strength. After encountering Thorfinn, he comes to respect the boy for his inner strength and determination. He is even somewhat honorable in that when facing against worth opponents, he prefers to settle it in a fair fight, without interference or bias. In my eyes, he is a breakout character to always keep an eye on.
But Vinland Saga isn’t just about barbarism and violence. It has a society ruled by order with laws and dictatorship. From within the story, we meet Canute, a prince with a cowardly personality and bishonen-like appearance. Created as a foil as some of the main characters, he starts off as a meek man but transforms into a strong headed prince after losing someone close in his life. And that’s what makes Vinland Saga so meaningful. Character deaths are impactful and causes people to change as in the way it’s meant to. I can honestly say from heart that character evolution in Vinland Saga is one of the core fundamentals of the series. It’s not just about evolving characters either but showing the reality of death. It’s a clever way to avoid character assassination by changing their personalities through events. As I watched more of the show, it becomes more and more intriguing to understand each one. Unfortunately, a 2-cour adaptation does limit the potential of full character development. There’s much more to be found in the manga but that’s for another story.
If I said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. Vinland Saga contains a cruel world and filled with moments of despair, emotions, and conviction driven by action. If you’re here to see fan service, it’s served with bloodshed and body horror, not half naked women. It has little time to humor as its time period isn’t an era to enjoy life. It’s to survive in it. What will seduce the audience to this series’ theme ultimately come down its hallmark of creative realism. It manages to be exactly what it advertised from the start and in Thors’ words, make a “true warrior with no sword”.
2: Mob Psycho 100 II
English: Mob Psycho 100 II
Japanese: モブサイコ100 II
MAL Score: 8.82
Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama is now maturing and understanding his role as a supernatural psychic that has the power to drastically affect the livelihood of others. He and his mentor Reigen Arataka continue to deal with supernatural requests from clients, whether it be exorcizing evil spirits or tackling urban legends that haunt the citizens.
While the workflow remains the same, Mob isn’t just blindly following Reigen around anymore. With all his experiences as a ridiculously strong psychic, Mob’s supernatural adventures now have more weight to them. Things take on a serious and darker tone as the dangers Mob and Reigen face are much more tangible and unsettling than ever before.
The most hyped up second season since My Hero Academia II has come to fruition and let me say, it does not disappoint.
My expectations were sky-hecking-high after an incredible first season. Yet, SOMEHOW, the second season went above and beyond the call of duty and blew me away with the most amazing season of any show I have ever seen in my life. Allow me to explain.
While most people’s complaints related to the show is “bland” and “too slice-of-life”. I must first say that this show is centered around the characters rather than the plot, despite the plot being really, really good.
Nothing related to the story is wasted. Every character, every line, every moment, every sound, camera angle, power, you name it, is important. There wasn’t a single episode that I felt that I was sold short. I ate up every moment, because it MATTERED.
While small things like incredible animation, directing, pacing, humor, romantization of normal occurrences and all other terms I could use to show how great the show is despite 90% of the population not knowing what that means, I want to focus on the main part of the series I love the most.
The characters. Every single one of them feels like a fragment of a real person’s soul, and shaped to become a well rounded character. Reigen, Mob, Teru, Ritsu, Suzuki, Shou, CLAW, new villains, side villains, and school kids, are all important characters. I was constantly surprised and satisfied with how real these characters felt and reacted to their situations. Their motivations were understandable, and frighteningly relatable.
The relationships between these characters are even more fascinating and is what brings me to tears a majority of the time.
The psychology of this show blows my mind, and saying that it has taught me how I think is flawed (by showing characters that mirror my way of thinking) and how life is actually beautiful (albeit being kind of awful sometimes) would NOT be an understatement.
Mob Psycho 100 is my favorite form of entertainment on all platforms for probably the rest of my life. I would not hesitate to recommend this anime to other people, knowing that many people will probably miss the point of the whole show, which is this:
You matter. Relationships matter. Living life joyfully and working hard, even as a everyday commoner, is not something to be ashamed of, but to be cherished. Enjoy yourself, your life, and your relationships. A message needing to be heard by every human being.
I hope this review was helpful.
“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”
When season 2 of mob psycho 100 got announced it would be an understatement to say that I was excited. I was brimming with excitement to see the continuation of Reigen’s, Mob’s and all the other characters story. But now after it’s release and I’ve watched all the episodes of my oh so awaited season 2. I’m honestly not feeling it, and I’m very disappointed.
I’m in no way saying that mob psycho 2 is a bad show. Not at all. The animation is stunning, the direction is phenomenal and the voice acting is as good, if not even better than the first season. It’s noticeable that a lot of care and effort has been put into making Mob Psycho 2. But despite all of these amazing features it has, I feel as if Mob Psycho has lost what made it unique and fun. What made the first season of Mob psycho great in my opinion is three points: the lightheartedness, the sense of humor and the characters. Season 2 only hits one of these points, but actually improves upon it. The characters. Mob and friends have never been better. Mob actually has an arc spanning over the whole season, not one forced into the last few episodes (as in season 1). Mob wants to improve as a person and actively makes an effort to do so. Something you really can’t say he does in the first season. Reigen also has an amazing arc this season. I won’t talk much about it because it would be a shame if I spoiled it for someone. Reigen was more or less the same person at the end of the first season as he was at the start. In season 2 tho, he’s a changed man at the end. It’s not only Mob and Reigen that’s gotten better, but all other characters also stepped up in season 2. They all changed so much that some felt out of character. But I don’t mind since the most of the characters are very well written. And that’s the part of Mob I adore. The rest of it kind of sucks.
The two other points that season 2 doesn’t get is the lightheartedness and humor. Which mostly goes hand in hand. Mob psycho season 1 is a lighthearted slice of life anime about a boy with psychic powers that despite his lack of emotion tries to live out his normal life as good as possible. Mob psycho season 1 never gets serious and dark. It has its emotional moments but never something too serious. In season 2 mob literally comes home to find his house on fire and sees what he believes to be his family burning. Mob Psycho 2 is one of the darkest and most serious shows I’ve seen in a while. And I don’t understand why, Mob Psycho was funny because of how lightheartedly these situation that would be handled totally different in other shows. That’s why it’s funny. When the most serious thing ever happen and Reigen then laughs about it later isn’t funny. It seems more like a flaw in Reigens character. I feel weird saying this but Mob Psycho season 2 isn’t funny at all. Season 2 abandons the concept of the first season and it makes me really disappointed. The first season of Mob Psycho was an analysis of manchildren and more or less a parody of shounen animes. But the second season isn’t a parody anymore. It’s turned into what it made fun of in the first place. I find it very hard to even call it a slice of life anymore.
To further prove my point that Mob psycho isn’t a slice of life anymore is the frequency and lengths of fights. There are few fights in the first season of Mob, meaning that when Mob went 100% and the fights broke out, it felt Impactful and epic. But in season 2 there are fights more or less every episode. The fights are longer, some spanning over something like 10 minutes. The animation might be great, but it gets overwhelming. I was finding myself sighing and thinking isn’t this fight over soon? Rather than being amazed by them as I was in season 1.
The most stupid thing ever happened as well. You know how the show is called Mob Psycho 100. Well suddenly mobs emotions can get ever 100% and he grew even more powerful. The point of the WHOLE show is that once the emotions get to 100% they overflow and Mob can’t control them anymore. But what’s the point of that if he suddenly can get 200%. It breaks the concept season 1 put up. Season 2 takes everything season 1 does good and throws it in the trash can.
What was once fresh and amazing is now just another My Hero Academia, and it’s a real shame. I had high hopes for this anime and I was let down big time. I would honestly rather watch the worst anime ever than rewatch this. The animes I feel the least from are the ones that are mediocre, the animes with extreme wasted potential. And Mob Psycho has sadly become one of them. I was expecting greatness and when what I got was very mediocre. It hit hard and my rating off this season of Mob Psycho suffered.
This season, we again go on a journey with Mob (the OP psychic) and Reigen (the conman) as they exorcise the demons present in the world and those present inside of them. The plot is as simple as it gets, we have our exorcisms going on; Mob being taken advantage of and deciding to become a better person; Claw, making a move; the body improvement club being awesome, etc. The plot doesn’t really diverge from what was presented to us in Season 1, though it does take some detours, those are what make this season so much better than the first one.
The previous season focused more on the fights and their aesthetics whereas this season the attention is more on the character development through the fights. Sure, the fights look as beautiful as ever, but more importance is given to how the characters change and what they take away from the fights. Reigen and Mob visit various clients, and most of the time the exorcism of the spirits serves as a catalyst for Mob’s growth as a character and as a human. But, where the anime shines is not the plot, but the characters.
The characters are the heart of the show, which is true for most stories but more so with this one. The characters may look like typical shounen characters if you look superficially, but when scrutinized, one can come up with a different conclusion. One aspect about the characters I love is how human they feel. Mob does not require any catalyst for the instigation of the feeling that he needs to change, it comes from within him. It’s a joy to see him transform into a socially acceptable person from a socially awkward teen. The show handles this change in a way that is realistic and poignant, which is to be expected as the show does such a great job of portraying the difficulties and hurdles faced by Mob due to his awkward disposition. No development feels rushed or out of place and everything is handled at a pace that is not too fast but not too slow that the watchers get bored. As you watch Mob trying his level best to grow up as a person, you can’t help but start to support him. The body improvement club is what our society should be. They are introduced as temporary comic relief characters but slowly they become an integral cog in the growth of Mob. We don’t spend much time with them on screen, but whenever they are on screen the experience is absolute gold.
The two characters in the spotlight are Mob and Reigen with the latter also getting a character arc which is probably one of the best I’ve seen in recent years. Reigen is a conman, he swindles people, including Mob, for his own personal gain, but, despite that he’s one of the most likeable characters in the series. At first, there seems to be a dichotomy between him and Mob, with Mob lacking the very confidence that Reigen seems to be brimming with, but this season lets us view things with a different perspective. We see Reigen’s inner struggles vicariously and realise he’s not much better off than Mob. Reigen when put in a difficult situation where his only ally seems to be him himself, his introspection reveals a great deal about him and his relationship with Mob. He realises that under the pretence of helping Mob control his powers, he was actually taking advantage of him and was holding Mob back from enjoying his youth. After his epiphany, he does not feign ignorance but tires to better himself as a person. Reigen, in Mob’s own words, is a genuinely good guy. Furthermore, his ultimate move – Self Defence Rush – is capable of destroying the whole planet and needs to be nerfed.
The anime also boasts a spectacular cast of supporting characters. We’ve got dimple, the spirit who wanted to take over Mob’s body at first but warms up to him and becomes more and more of a comrade after each passing episode. This change happens gradually which helps audience familiarise themselves with his character. We don’t get any abrupt character change and thus the show avoids alienating the viewers. Another character worth mentioning is Mogami, a resentful spirit who is the perfect depiction of what Mob would’ve been had he not met with Reigen or had Reigen been a selfish person. The serendipitous meeting between Mob and Reigen is what kept Mob and his uncontrollable powers anchored to the ground. The body improvement club is as epic as ever and this season has convinced me that the biggest muscles they have are their hearts. The characters are meticulously crafted and handled with care. That being said, there are some flaws here and there.
Most of the villains are underdeveloped and are there only as an obstacle for our heroes to overcome. We don’t know their motivations for joining the evil organisation that they have joined and neither do we learn about their personalities. Not all villains are cannon fodder though. The leader of the organisation has a goal set in his mind and though his motivations are a bit overbearing, it’s not difficult to picture that among tens of hundreds of espers one would come across such a guy. Although, the villains are not as interesting as they could have been, I don’t think it matters much because at the end of it all what Mob Psycho really is, if you ask me, is a coming of age story.
The animation is absolutely fantastic. Studio Bones have outdone themselves once again. If you’re holding out on this show because you think that the animation looks crap then, I don’t know what to say to you except you’re missing out on an acid trip. The facial animation conspicuously shows the characters’ emotion and much of the characters’ thoughts are accentuated through their body language. There is a lot of visual storytelling which is really well complimented by the unique art and animation. Lastly, the fights are stupendous. The animation does a great job of presenting the tension and force exerted by each punch, each kick that the characters throw and receive. Every time someone uses his/her psychic powers to pin someone to the ground, the anime does an awesome job of accentuating the augmentation of gravitational field around them which helps in visualising the incomprehensible telekinetic powers that the characters possess. This one guy has the power to teleport himself anywhere he wants and keeps doing so while fighting. You would think that it would make it very hard for us to follow him as he keeps darting around, but due to the excellent cinematography and clever use of visual direction, you can always keep your eyes on him using your peripheral vision. That’s some next level stuff right there. Massive props to everyone involved in animating the series.
The music is brilliant as well. I’m no connoisseur of music but I can tell whether a piece of music fits a scene or not and in the case of Mob Psycho 100, most of the pieces perfectly complement the ongoing scene. The music during fights are perfect to get you hyped, and those during the emotional scenes will make the feels hit you like a truck. Also, the OP is fire.
Mob Psycho 100 is one of the best character driven narratives to come out in recent years. It’s a near prefect retrospective look into a teenage mind and how everyone is susceptible to change. It sends a message that no matter how incongruous you are with respect to your surroundings, no matter how detached you are with reality, you can always start over.
1: Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Part 2
English: Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2
Japanese: 進撃の巨人 Season3 Part.2
MAL Score: 9.10
Seeking to restore humanity’s diminishing hope, the Survey Corps embark on a mission to retake Wall Maria, where the battle against the merciless “Titans” takes the stage once again.
Returning to the tattered Shiganshina District that was once his home, Eren Yeager and the Corps find the town oddly unoccupied by Titans. Even after the outer gate is plugged, they strangely encounter no opposition. The mission progresses smoothly until Armin Arlert, highly suspicious of the enemy’s absence, discovers distressing signs of a potential scheme against them.
Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Part 2 follows Eren as he vows to take back everything that was once his. Alongside him, the Survey Corps strive—through countless sacrifices—to carve a path towards victory and uncover the secrets locked away in the Yeager family’s basement.
On the basis of that postulate, the journey resumes for our SnK characters, as they prepare to undertake a fierce battle against those who want to annihilate humanity…however, is that these guys objective?
It is well known the one-of a kind storytelling attributes this adaptation has: the understated foreshadowing –great for those who like to re-watch shows-, the captivating epicity, the more than famous plot twists; nevertheless, it never stops to amaze me the ability –and specially, in this season- they have had to build, step by step, a huge storyline that is both fascinating and enjoyable, while being able of connecting the dots that had been scattered during the 3 seasons prior to this one -all of this without making the story messy and confusing-.
While I am on this subject, I have to bring to the table the marvellous combination of this storytelling with the animation and music. One of the most overlooked aspects, not only in anime, but also on the film industry, is the ability of a motion picture to use this or that piece of music, sound, silence and/or frame in this or that given moment to capture the audience and, what can I say, Shingeki no Kyojin does it extremely well on this season.
Speaking about music, this asset is and has been one of SnK’s hallmarks. Not only the use of it –as I mentioned before- but the compositions per se are just one of a kind. Am I the only one who listens to them on a daily basis? And if this was not enough, WIT studio decided to bring into the equation some of the old soundtracks from season 1, which we will all agree were masterpieces.
Furthermore, speaking about other technical aspects, the animation has made quite an improvement, leading to great results. This made some of the events –including fights- that took place over the course of this season something special: backgrounds were depicted in a really wonderful way, movements and facial expressions were really fluid and seemed pretty natural (including the Omni-directional mobility gear animation where camera rotations and 3D movements were executed to perfection) and pace was used fantastically well –that episode 54 fight it’s a great example, where Levi moves so fast that it takes time to the physics to actually catch up with him, making it look like he moves at the speed of light-. This, accompanied by an amazing sound design, a cast sounding as good as they do and a very good characterization, makes Shingeki no Kyojin a really wonderful series to watch. And don’t forget what a banger the OP was.
Moreover, I’m glad that, between the chaos of war, they have set aside some time to explore the inner conflicts of some of our characters, their convictions and motivations, the reason for them to fight, as well as exploring on how their decisions not only changed –and will change- their lives and made them who they are now, but the lives of the people around them. Characters like Levi, Armin or Erwin, who had not have so much screentime-development over the course of the show gain in importance on this season -it was about time-, without laying aside others like Eren -who finally shows a glimmer of manhood and logic-, Mikasa, or even our titanic traitors -if you know what I mean-, as they also meaningfully develop. For instance, side characters no longer feel like side characters.
So, while I’m not in a position to say that I would never see something like this in awhile, I can say that this season was, hands down, a dazzling, breathtaking piece of animated work.
TL;DR: From Titans being shredded to human bodies being melted, this is the season fans have been waiting for since Season 1. We have been blue balled long enough. It’s time to finally find out what’s in that bloody basement. If you didn’t watch any previous seasons, don’t even bother reading or watching this anime. Go back to watching your crappy anime. We are in the endgame now.
[Story: 9/10 , Characters: 8/10, Art: 9/10, Sound: 8/10, Enjoyment: 10/10]
“Everyone will die someday. Does that mean life is meaningless?” – Erwin Smith
The second part of Shingeki no Kyojin or Attack on Titan Season 3 picks up immediately where it ended. No delay in pacing, no unnecessary flashbacks, we are in the endgame now. If you’ve been following this show, you know where we are and what’s at stake. We all want to know what’s in that basement. So let’s finally find out. Question is, are you ready? Can you handle the truth? If there is one thing I’ll warn you, after learning the truth, this season will immediately surpass any of the previous seasons and just turn the entire show upside down. If you can’t handle the truth, avoid this season. Your watch has ended. If you can, let the clash begin, for Isayama has the best curve ball prepared since GRRM wrote Game of Thrones. Don’t worry though, thankfully we don’t have incompetent writers like D&D to screw this gem of a manga up. With the animation powerhouse of Wit Studio and musical prowess of Linked Horizon, Tetsurou Araki delivers the justice this manga have always deserved. It’s been a while since we’ve seen an anime that can equally deliver on both action and plot.
“It’s us who gives meaning to our comrade’s lives!” – Erwin Smith
From Titans being shredded to human bodies being melted, this was the bloodiest season of them all. This season is the season of revelations. All the hype that’s been building up since season 1 about the bloody basement is finally going to be explored. Question is, who will survive to know the truth and who will die trying. If there is anything the preview showed us last season, we know Araki will be jamming to “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” as he skillfully directs this cour. The story is linear but you’re constantly at the edge because every episode ends on a cliff-hanger and the dead bodies just pile up. Despite how fast paced each episodes are, you know certain episodes are going to be jaw dropping when they start without playing the opening song. What’s more, some episodes, there is more after the end song. Just downright crazy. Last season we tackled the moral dilemma of our living system within the walls by juxtaposing the childish and adult view whereas this season we tackle the racial political dilemma of genocide, murder and ostracism. The only complaint viewers are allowed to have is maybe two more episodes to flesh out the plot better. Overall, the manga is beautifully adapted and no qualms about it.
“My soldiers, rage! My solders, Scream! My soldiers, FIGHT! – Erwin Smith
Time after time, the characters of this show just always stand out. Despite this season being more plot heavy, the characters still managed to steal the spotlight, especially Erwin. As each season are passing, more major characters are dying; that’s why we are able to focus more on the key characters of the show and better understand the uphill battle they are always facing. This not only heightens the anxiety and tension but delivers a cathartic feeling in their success or death. Last season, our heroes had to go up against humans and deal with the ramification of murder. This season, despite reverting back to killing Titans, they have to deal with the ramification of murder again. It seems Isayama wants to solidify within us, no matter how much we enjoy seeing our heroes kill Titans, murder is murder. Moreover, none of this would be possible had it not been for the seiyuus. Every damn season, they are going above and beyond to give each character such depth and plot, hell even minor side characters are voiced so well. You just can’t help feel right in the moment of the story. Huge kudos to them.
“No casualties, Don’t you dare DIE!” – Levi Ackerman
Aside from the stellar linear plot & well developed characters, if there is one thing this studio does justice, it’s their animation & art style. Without any surprise, this season they nailed it again. At this point, they have set the bar so high, good luck any other studio, attempting to reach it. Every panel was hand-drawn really well and the use of CGI for certain action sequences flowed really well. Kudos to the key animators. We know they bailed on us part way last year since they were not going to finish the animation in time but be glad they took the time. They delivered. The background score was really hype throughout all the fight sequences and the drops right before key enigmatic moments definitely escalates the excitement each episode. Linked Horizon is back again for an eargasmic opening song, even if it sounds very similar to their first opening song and the ED song is nice and chilling. When the OST is released, fans of this show will enjoy listening to it repeatedly.
“I always knew you were the bravest one out of any of us” – Eren Jaeger
Overall, SnK S3 P2 significantly blew all previous seasons out of the park. Is this season perfect? No. Is it the best we’ve seen so far? Yes. Isayama is a master of foreshadowing and this season from all the revelations, you will be going back and realizing just how many scenes and dialogues you overlooked thinking it would never be important to the story. Given how well Araki and staff of Wit Studio adapted the manga by rearranging the story arcs to showcase a better linear plot, it really accentuates the rewatch value of this show. Even after it ends after it’s final season (which has also been announced), fans of this show can continue to rewatch over and over again. At this point, if you’ve come this far without spoiling yourself, then anime watchers, I would recommend hold your breath and not read the manga. If you’re a manga reader, be happy your fav manga was adapted this well. Without spoiling too much, the series ends with a new purpose and goal for the characters. The real war is about to begin. Nevertheless, there is no point not watching this season of AoT. You’ve already invested in watching previous seasons, so might as well binge watch this season. That’s always the best way to watch this anime. Anyways, check it out & let me know later how you like it as well as share with me your favourite quote from the anime! Ciao.
P.S. Thank you for reading. I hope you found this short and supaishi review helpful!
Now let’s begin this review.
Imagine if you were a fish that since birth has been living inside a fish tank, you are unaware that there is a bigger world out there with vast oceans where you can swim to many different areas and see various different species. That is basically what Eren and company were in, and we as the viewers were also in the same situation. Attack on Titan season 3 part 2 is the season that connects all the previous seasons neatly together, this was three seasons in the making. Snk is an action/mystery series that builds its foundation and then explodes with greatness when the apparent time comes.
To appreciate this season you have to realise how important foundation is, in terms of setup, without proper build up this season would not be getting the praise it currently has, because if there wasn’t any foundation the impact of the basement reveal and the character interaction/fights would be lacking, there would be a big void there.
I think plenty of persons believe the basement would be the end game, where after finding out what is in the basement the series would eventually end, the twist is that the basement is simple the key to open the next level of the series, the first 3 seasons
were simple the prologue and it is now time for the series to touch on the main plot or the true issue at hand.
Visually this season looks great despite the issues with the animators, the staff did their best with this season from the awesome soundtrack, to the great action scenes, some fights were lacking a bit like episode 2 also the cgi Collosal titan was a bit distracting at times, but that still didn’t affect my enjoyment of this season, the voice acting in this season was phenomenal especially in episode 6 when there was minimal ost used in that episode.
The interaction and development for some of these characters in this season was also a highlight, especially between Erwin and Levi, there is a famous criticism that snk gets a lot and that is that the characters are bland, but I think it is an outdated criticism back in season 1 that needs to die, simple put a lot of characters didn’t get much time to develop in the first seasons also in retrospect some of the characters didn’t get early development because of their secrets, but as more seasons were release, the more the characters grow on you and the more you appreciate these characters and want them to finally be free.
Despite giving this series a 10/10, don’t take it as me saying it is a “perfect” series, because no series is perfect and this is where I will point out a flaw I personally have for this particular season and that is the fakeout in this season, specifically regarding Reiner and Armin, I didn’t like the situation/explanation in how they both survive and that bothered me, but here is where Isayama shows why he is a God writer! he somehow finds a way to make something great come from those two sour situation for me, with Armin in episode 6 and how that was written was just incredible the same with Reiner, can’t say much but all I will say is that he is putting him to good use, not often a writer can write something you as the viewer didn’t like but then just blow you away with what he has done with that particular situation.
I don’t think I will ever like it, but what I am getting at is that nothing in this world is perfect, just like how you care for your close family and friends and you know they have their flaws, you argue with them at times and there is somethings you don’t like about them, but in the end you care deeply for them, it is basically the same for loving a series or someone despite their flaws.
And to end this I will say to all anime only watchers, I know that some of you are nervous, excited and even skeptical on where the series is going, but trust me when I say you should have faith in Isayama, he delivered on the basement reveal and has set up the series perfectly for the main course, see you all again in season 4 and make sure that you will not become another fallen soldier when the next season arrives, Erwin would not be pleased.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your day.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Part 2
2. Mob Psycho 100 II
3. Vinland Saga
4. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 5: Ougon no Kaze
5. Kimetsu no Yaiba
7. Bungou Stray Dogs 3rd Season
8. Senki Zesshou Symphogear XV
9. Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken
10. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet