They’re the best Anime that 2020 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season, Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka III, Majo no Tabitabi, and more!
10: Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season
English: Sword Art Online Alicization War of Underworld Part 2
Japanese: ソードアート オンライン アリシゼーション War of Underworld
MAL Score: 7.44
The final battle against the Dark Territory drags on, as players from all over the world flood the Underworld’s servers and plunge the Human Empire into utter chaos. Asuna Yuuki and her friends defend their new allies with everything they have, but their numbers are falling. Meanwhile, Alice Zuberg heads toward the World’s End Altar while Gabriel “Vecta” Miller relentlessly pursues her.
Meanwhile, members of Rath strategize a plan in an attempt to restore Kirito’s damaged fluctlight. However, the intruders occupying the main control room have other plans. Surrounded by death and despair, when all hope seems to be lost, one voice reaches out to Kirito—a familiar one saying, “I will always be by your side.”
Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season is the epic conclusion to Akihiko Kayaba’s dream of creating artificial human intelligence. Now it is up to Kirito and his friends to protect this collapsing world from the people that still think it is just a game.
I used to be an atheist until I watched Sword Art Online: Alicization: War of Underworld Part 2. History has proven Jesus was a real man, but the second coming of Christ was merely a myth to me. I never truly believed Christ would return from the heavens to liberate us… until now. Reki Kawahara has created the final chapter of the Bible. This tale rivals Shakespeare, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and The Odyssea. It is the most spectacular writing I have seen in the entire franchise, maybe even of all time. War of Underworld Part 1 began this mythological story. Kirito, the holy spirit, was trapped within the vessel of a sleeping man. The fake news viciously scrutinized Kirito, causing him to fall into a coma. These blind fools, Youtubers, and MAL reviewers howled like banshees of how Kirito was overpowered, lacking any personality, and every girl illogically fell in love with him. But Kirito overcame these haters in a triumphant return that will go down in history as the most epic piece of fiction ever created.
Sword Art Online has gained a massively negative reputation for popularizing the isekai harem power fantasy genre. Alicization: War of Underworld 2 sought to rebrand the franchise as a deep and mature survival thriller with philosophical themes, emotional character arcs, and commentary on the future of artificial intelligence. Alicization attempted to accomplish these goals, but it missed the mark. Part one was wasted on a virtual war between one-dimensional characters. It wasn’t worth caring about any of them because they were artificial intelligence. Their deaths are meaningless. There is no tension when no one can die. The AI soldiers are not real, and the nameless gamers only risk losing their in-game avatars. Why are there no police trying to save the people trapped within the game, you ask? Because the whole show works on video game logic!
(Read my review of Part 1 for more information)
Part 2 does nothing to raise the stakes. Characters from prior seasons hack their way into the video game, but they are wrapped head to toe in plot armor. What do you do when all your characters suck? Just add the old ones! With the power of deus ex machinas, every human gamer is granted superpowers. The first part focused on the one-dimensional inhabitants of the underworld. In this season, they are useless. SAO momentarily cared about humanizing these computerized soldiers. There was potential it could’ve had deep themes. But who cares about that boring shit? They threw all of that away to make room for epic battles and technobabble! Part two is surface-level action shlock for the fans who crave shock value but are not willing to seek out something deeper, or better written. Around 30% of this season takes place in the real world. And it’s all dead air. It focuses on forgettable characters monitoring the game with convoluted motives. Who cares about pseudo-scientific explanations of things that never needed to be explained? Everyone gains new abilities and weapons at random. If they’re in danger, the show will remind us they have a secret weapon or a ghost will come to rescue them. Yes, ghosts. No joke, there are characters who DON’T die after they’re killed. It’s never explained why. There’s no logic. There’s no point in explaining how the main characters get SOME powers when you can just show how they got them and how they work. But SAO is a Very Deep anime for intellectuals, so it must make sense! Now and then, we get a long-winded explanation that no one asked for. Seven years and SAO still hasn’t learned what “Show don’t tell,” means. Go back to an elementary school English class! The scientist people use technological terminology to sound smart. Fluctlights, STL, Self-image. It’s all made up bullshit! This is so intelligent! All this with some techno music in the background makes a great baby’s first sci-fi show. They aimed for the Matrix but landed closer to Transformers. I don’t care about the pseudo-scientific reasons for why Leafa gets a gigantic sword. Most of the time, new powers are thrown in at will. Stop pretending like any of this makes sense! Does anyone watch SAO for the boring exposition dumps? No, they don’t. It’s just to save the animation budget.
From a critical standpoint, SAO is utter nonsense. There’s one narrative thread that ties every piece of this rancid rotting carcass of an anime together. Wish fulfillment. This is an otaku’s wet dream. Beginning with the first plot point, Kirito is waking up. The best character development he’s had four seasons was becoming a vegetable. Without our God-tier main character, there was some threat of danger. Unfortunately, we need our overpowered pussy slaying MC back. Kirito is, and always has been, a hollow placeholder for all of the men in the audience to project their personalities onto—with none of his own. Once his harem entered the game and told him how much they loved him, he began to wake up. Seriously, this is what happened. One by one the girls say they love him and they cry because he’s a vegetable. Time after time, Kirito’s harem uses the power of stroking his ego to make him more powerful than God himself. Unfortunately, every girl loves Kirito. They each have their own story, but it will never be told. There’s more to know about them. In season 2, the Mother’s Rosario arc showed us Asuna could get her own story. It emphasized her friendship, rather than romance. She wasn’t overpowered. Even though it was rushed, there were actual stakes. When she’s with Kirito, she becomes a lobotomized puppet, just like all the other girls. After the girls join his harem, their personalities cease to exist. They become vacuous waifu-bait. Another cell is added to the prison–Kirito’s harem. They are no longer people with lives and goals. They are Kirito’s cheerleaders, existing to love him, to massage his ego, and to provide fan service.
In a good story, the heroes work for their powers. In SAO they are given powers. There is no tension because Kirito is so powerful, but how does his harem fare alone? While Kirito is in a vegetative state, psychopathic villains from past arcs return to torment his harem. Of course, when they feel hopeless they pray to Kirito for hope. Jesus is to Christians what Kirito is to his harem. The moment they say his name they get motivated to keep fighting. In many scenes, his girls hold each other, say how much they love Kirito, cry, and then they’re filled with hope. He is the only source of hope in the entire world, despite still being a vegetable. When Kirito’s around, his harem becomes even more pathetic. They know they’re useless compared to him. Rather than helping him fight, they stand by and watch. Usually praying for his safety and help. Kirito summons ghosts, he freezes armies, and he creates healing rain. Why? Because he’s God! Even though he’s asleep, EVERYONE still relies on him. This must be female empowerment!
The women are treated as motivation for the audience to hate the villains rather than actual characters, and their pain is used to make Kirito seem godly. They’re tortured in violent gore porn scenes meant to evoke emotion, but it just bored me. Gore and rape don’t equal maturity. It’s like watching a kid’s show trying desperately to be taken seriously. Sinon and Leafa in particular are characters who embody the women as a commodity during this season. I’m going to paint you a picture, please skip to the last paragraph if sexual assault triggers you. Leafa falls from the sky in her first appearance of this season. The camera pans down her legs and her cleavage is exposed. Moments later, an evil woman with large breasts appears out of nowhere. She sexually assaults Leafa with tentacles. She cries, yells, and is choked, meanwhile the scantily clad dressed woman laughs sadistically. She is plenty capable of killing her captor, which she says clearly. Yet she chooses to endure the pain because she doesn’t want to kill anyone. Meanwhile, alluring woodwind instruments play in the background and the woman continues torturing her. I am not describing fetishistic hentai. This is a five-minute-long scene from the first episode of War of Underworld 2. I felt nothing but disgust with the show’s staff and cringe. I’m so sorry for the artists who had to animate this vile shit. I will speak directly to the fans just once: If you see someone who’s upset by the sexual assault, do not try to defend it. Even Reki Kawahara regrets writing it. Again, torture porn does not equal maturity! The anime insists on masquerading as something smarter than the average light novel adaptation. There’s nothing intelligent about making every villain a molester.
Every major villain is a one-dimensional molester with no depth. Making your villains do horrible things without challenging their ideals is awful writing. Molestation is used as a cheap way to make the villains evil. Their one motivation is being crazy molesters. This is a lazy way to get the audience to hate them. People only care about seeing Kirito kill the assholes, not because they want him to challenge their beliefs. Ridiculous plot armor everywhere. None of the victories feel deserved. Sinon is saved by Kirito’s necklace twice, Asuna is saved by her dead friend Yuuki, Alice’s Uncle gets a random power to win a fight. Kirito saves Sinon from a rapist without even being there. His necklace saves her from being smooched by a bad guy. The female characters are portrayed as weak, cowardly, and unable to succeed without the support of someone—usually a man. This is just sad.
In 2013, Sword Art Online popularized power fantasy harem isekai anime. After four seasons, it has continued to make the same mistakes. “SAO is good now,” Are you joking? It has only gotten worse. This is normally the part where I’d praise the art for being outstanding. It’s without a doubt the best of the entire franchise, but what does it matter? No amount of glitter and gold will make this piece of shit beautiful. Since SAO opened the floodgates, we’ve been blessed with titles such as Kenga no Mago, Arifureta, Master of Ragnarok, Isekai Cheat Magician, Isekai wa Smartphone tomo ni, Death March and so many more mind-numbingly generic anime. Thank you SAO. Thank you for fucking up a generation of anime.
Thank you Lord Kirito! Hail the Father, Hail Kirito! Hail the Son, Hail Kirito! Hail the Holy Spirit, HAIL KIRITO!
The story follows the basic template of the light novel; we have a Kirito in a coma waiting for his return as the underworld struggles to survive. The fight allows a large number of characters to participate in the story. The action sequences and some of the subplots are concluded (for example, Bercouli), so the development of the main character is completed. We can see tears, blood, gore, betrayal, fear, and many other feelings during these episodes. Maybe the screen gets saturated with action to the point that we can’t process what’s happening, or perhaps the events are too fantastic to be accepted. Furthermore, those awkward and useless scenes will lead us to wonder why several fans hate SAO, and it’s not a problem with the adaptation that is a problem with the novels and the need to promote them with fan service. Albeit this silly impression, the show is able to offer a charming conclusion to Alicization’s story arc, leaving the door open for future development.
On the other hand, character development wasn’t too impressive. I understand that various characters are introduced. However, I want to remind the audience that several of those characters have already had their development through other arcs of the story. Therefore, it is unnecessary to cover more details because the setting of the story will not allow it. They are just fillers that will help with the conclusion of the battle, and perhaps that is a negative aspect of this series. Asking for further character development when the climax was already set is not wise, but it could have enhanced the enjoyment. For example, giving Alice a bit more context would have been interesting. Still, this second season I feel like she is left behind as a supporting character, and all her development from the previous seasons froze.
From art and technical aspect, the color palette is traditional but exciting nonetheless, the adaptation focuses more on the action sequences than the personal details that could have been expanded. Even if the action was well directed, you would feel like something is missing if you are not an avid SAO fan. I can’t complain about the technical aspect of the series, it’s good and I think the director and the studio made an excellent adaptation. On the sound, it’s okay and it helps with the dynamics of the action, but it’s not great. The songs are interesting, especially Anima by ReoNa; for some reason, I like the rhythm and the lyrics.
Finally, the conclusion is acceptable, but sometimes the plot is useless and leads us to think that the story is garbage. However, I think the author is playing with some fictional elements that can give us great emotions and better development in future arcs. I can’t recommend this series to all fans because you need to understand SAO’s entire plot from the beginning to enjoy the full context, but I do enjoy it until the last episode. One last commentary, it was funny watching Alice coming out from a box lol.
From the first episode titled “The War of Underworld”, part 2 immediately jumps into the chaos with characters we were familiar with from the previous seasons. In this case, we are reintroduced to Sinon, Leafa, Klein, Lisbeth, Silica, and among others as they make their journey to the Underworld. Furthermore, Kirito still remains in a comatose state with viewers wandering if he can ever recover to normalcy. With the full weight of the ongoing war, characters such as Bercouli gets their triumphant yet sorrowful moments. It’s his moments of tragedy that is depicted not by fear but with a resolve, a way for this show to exemplify his character’s personality at its apex. And as I watched more and more of this season, I realized that every character has its importance, not like random fodder thrown away.
For the sake of part 2, we are treated with 11 episodes with the ultimatum to conclude this saga. As the longest story arc to date, SAO Underworld wanted to fully capitalize its themes such as identity, loyalty, and love. When we realize what SAO Underworld has been selling to us, it makes sense to see how characters behave. It’s important to know that the war is much more about one side trying to gain dominance over the other, but rather why characters fight with their lives on the line. Bercouli, Alice, Sheyta, Iskahn, and Asuna are among a few of those who finds a reason to fight. And it is because of their reasons, they put everything on the line. For what’s worth, SAO Underworld isn’t afraid to also pull the trigger with character betrayals such as Yanai. With every action, there is a consequence as startling revelations are discovered.
Meanwhile, fans will also have a lingering question on their mind. Will Kirito ever wake up from his coma? He’s the black swordsman that stepped foot into the virtual world of the franchise from the very beginning and make no mistake, he is an integral part of the Underworld arc. The memories grows to show his despair but somewhere within him, Kirito will find a way to become what he once was before. That is, during mid-season, he reawakens to battle against Vassago (Prince of Hell) and reunites with his friends. The moment between him and Asuna is imperative to show that despite them being apart for so long, they’ve never forgot about each other or their reason to exist. It’s a characterization element of the show that makes up their character roles this season. Furthermore, Kirito’s resolve to fight the good fight again shows that is able to conquer his personal demons and that anyone can overcome any obstacle in the SAO world.
On the outside world, there’s also the threat of the government with the world at stake. This season shifts the balance between the virtual and real world to a surprisingly satisfying effect. The betrayal of Yanai is one such example to capitalize on how characters are motivated by their own morals. When you throw the government into this complex arc, the stakes are raised even higher. For what’s worth, you should expect SAO Underworld to deliver its best arc to date. It manages to woven together the multiple arcs together to meets its ends. This isn’t some half-baked game project like Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris. It may not be perfect but certainly manages to evade a disastrous launch from the beginning. With every episode that progresses, we see more and more of the story unfold and why characters fight the way they do. SAO Underworld is the best for what this franchise has to offer and this one really hit the ball out of the park.
9: Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka III
English: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon III
MAL Score: 7.45
When Bell encounters a frightened little girl in the dungeon, he doesn’t think twice to help. But this simple act of kindness has consequences. The girl is a monster and proof that monsters can be eerily human. And not everyone can accept this…
Season One was a straightforward generic isekai, being distinguished only by the high quality of execution. Since I can hear autistic screeching all the way from here, do note that “isekai” as an anime genre name means action-adventure fantasy with JRPG mechanics, or even more precisely, the “SAO clone” (the same way “first-person shooter” is the “Doom clone” genre). Any arguments to the contrary, particularly the ones based on the semantics of the words “another world” (which is NOT how “isekai” translates from Japanese) are an exercise in mental deficiency.
Anyway, the “depth” (quotes to emphasize the fact that many people that like using this word as a praise of anime shows they like wouldn’t recognize depth if it bit their ass and held on) of Season One of Danmachi comes from the fact that it took the building blocks of SAO and treated them as speculative fiction. The MC is overpowered and wins every fight. The MC has a harem. JRPG mechanics are a thing. That’s our baseline. Instead of using these elements mindlessly, or attempting to reject/subvert them, the story tasked itself with building a world where they make logical sense. E.g. the MC is swarmed by women because he is physically attractive, has a pleasant personality, and is a famous prodigy (“bElL iS gEnErIc sELf-iNseRt” – a low-intelligence wannabe critic). Add on top of that Greek Mythology, core ideas of which (the inevitability of fate; a hero’s place in the world; gods walking among men; etc) the author has managed to capture on a level that flies over the head of 99% of the audience – and you get the objectively best non-comedic isekai there is.
Meanwhile, Season Two tries to mix things up, managing to check a lot of boxes on a midwit’s list of things that make an anime series bad in the process. A dip in production values (especially the action sequences). Huge chunks of the source material content that didn’t make it into the adaptation. A story that actually tried to expand its horizons beyond the standard isekai template and do something original and thought-provoking (Ishtar’s “what’s wrong with being a whore” monologue in its 20 seconds has more “depth” than an entire 3×3 of an average pseud) instead of staying in its comfort zone and spinning the wheels – and as every midwit knows, “a show that confuses me by doing something I don’t understand is stupid and bad.”
In short, Season Two was better than Season One in concept but worse in execution (even if the pleb opinion would make you believe it’s the worst thing since cancer).
All this long introduction was necessary so that I could keep my actual Season Three review short – Season Three is peak Danmachi experience as it combines all the strongest aspects of the first two seasons.
More amazing action sequences on the level of Bell vs Minotaur fight – it’s not just that action sequences look good, it’s that they’re episode-spanning and tell a story instead of interrupting (or being interrupted by) a story.
More speculative fiction goodness (a comically evil mustache-twirling antagonist is driven to be comically evil by his hereditary magic schizophrenia).
More godly shenanigans continuing from Season Two – Yato’s Evil Twin (aka Ikelos) is my favorite new character by far, because he’s here to spell out loud what other gods like Hermes, Loki, or Freya are trying to hide under their facades and platitudes – that the gods are there to play The Sims irl, nothing more, nothing less.
More exploration and expansion of the story’s core themes – Wiene’s arc, which spans the entire season, is like Haruhime’s arc on steroids. What does it mean to be a hero? Sure, you want to protect the weak, but who exactly fits the definition of “the weak” here? How are you going to do “the right thing” if you can’t even tell what it is? How about when your close friends consider the right thing to be the opposite of what you think is right and go against you? These aren’t the questions you answer with just doing your best and trying really hard – Punished Bell has to do some serious soul searching.
The direction is as good as in Season One. I’ve seen too much anime for my own good during my lifetime. Too often I find myself watching a show that I can recognize as objectively well-made – but still struggling to finish an episode in one sitting because I kinda know what it is doing at every moment. DanMachi III is in the minority of shows that kept me engaged from start to finish and actually looking forward to new episodes – because new and interesting stuff just keeps happening. This is literally what it means for a series to be well-directed.
9/10 for a top-shelf action-adventure series.
In a nutshell
After growing bored of their realms, the Gods of multiple pantheons descended to Earth, where they create groups called Famillia. The story takes place in a fictional city called Orario, which also has a tremendous net of catacombs. Many members of Famillias visit this dungeon to defeat monsters to earn money and to just become famous. Among many Famillias, there is the Goddess Hestia’s Familia. Unlike other Gods, Hestia has only one follower, who has never had a desire to reach “the top.” However, everything changes when the only follower of Hestia, Bell, meet Ais Wallenstein, a first class adventurer. Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? focuses on Bell’s quest to becoming one of the strongest adventurers.
Despite what appears to be a fairly basic Dungeons setup for the story, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? does manage to offer some good originality. Or so it was in the two previous seasons. Unfortunately, unlike the first season, the third season lacks originality and does not look like something even remotely similar to it. The story used to focus on Bell Cranel journey to becoming the hero. However, now it is more of a Bell Cranel, collecting waifus for the harem. And the problem is that it does not help you to take the story seriously, because the third season ‘tries’ to touch upon some interesting details, monsters’ evolution and their desire to stop fighting with the adventurers. This idea is not bad at all, yet, it just does not work, when you see Bell and the harem.
As for the animation and the sound, there is nothing worth mentioning. However, character wise, this is when another problem arises. Unfortunately, supporting characters are getting less and less screen time, however, Bell has plenty of it. Most of the characters are just joining Bell’s waifu army for no reason and while Hestia does not appreciate the fact that she might lose monopoly on Bell, it does not worry her that much. ‘Yes, Bell is the best, let us just join the harem.’ And the problem with Bell is that he no longer struggles, as he used to in the first season, now you know he wins no matter what, one shots no matter who and gets all the waifus.
All in all, as a fan of the anime, I really miss what it used to be, the first season was great. What it is now is hardly enjoyable, there is no tension, and the result is always the same. Things could have been much better. If I were you, I would watch the first season and stop on it. However, the rest if for you to decide.
Now what does a kid enjoy? As Scamboli said it: Kids love stories that they could plug themselves into, “if I was Bell I’d save that girl and MARRY HER” or so the thought would go. Or “I have to save everybody these kids are counting on me” type deal. Well as I’ve grown I’ve realized how awful this plot device can be, don’t worry about your actual writing skill just think about the kids and maybe they’ll eat it up. Going back even more, when I loved Danmachi I use to hate the comparisent of Danmachi and Sao. “ONE IS GOOD” I said, “Don’t compare garbage too good” I continued. No, these shows are near identical in some unbelievable ways, even more so in how they make me feel. They both got the protaginist who gets random powerups when he needs to save a girl. The plot has no depth whatsoever in any sense. Everything about the writing is bad. There always has to be a villain for the sake of there being a villain. It’s so similar that I wouldn’t even be suprised if they were written by the same person.
Danmachi s3 focuses on the Monster vs Human debate, they explore the deep in-world discussion between the relationship between the two sides. The humans enter the dungeon, the monsters fight back, etc etc. This could be a good idea if the author could give me a goddamn reason to care. This whole season we are thrust upon a scene in which we have no reason to care about. Bell is our plug in character, he cares because he wants EVERYBODY to be happy. Alright at least he has a reason to care but what about ours? We don’t have one… The only reason we are suppose to care about this shitty show is that there’s a cute loli who smiles and acts like a stereotypical loli. I cannot remember anything about her and I finished the goddamn show 10 minutes ago. Going back to that kid mentality, a kid would eat this shit up. “I would save that little girl everybody must be happy” or some garbage like that. I’m not a kid, you’re not a kid considering you ain’t mad about this review so what’s the deal?
The characters of this show were honestly pathetic, the charm that everybody once had is gone, everybody is just annoying now (More on that later). But you wanna know what makes it even worse? The stupid jokes we are suppose to laugh at. Guess what, I ain’t gonna lie, sometimes I did laugh, the jokes were funny every once in awhile. But if I laugh at 5 of the 100+ jokes then something is wrong. I’d describe Danmachi as that little kid who keeps following you around, he says stupid jokes trying to make you laugh but none of them do, but once in a lifetime you actually laugh and maybe you think “this kid ain’t so bad” but then he tells more shit jokes. You don’t know how much times I’d pause during episodes because I hated everything so much.
The harem shit is actually getting annoying, there are too many girls, too many to care about. What makes it worse is that there are TOO MANY OF THEM that they all have to share screentime. Thinking about this made me die from laughter after realizing how stupid the thought of it actually was. Also what doesn’t help is that none of them have a personality trait worth mentioning aside from your standard run of the mill stuff.
Everybody in this show had their arcs completely destroyed and forgotten about in replacement for the stupid monster arc that nobody cared about. The people of the red light district had no stake in the show whatsoever and the only time they were shown was to alleviate the pain of the people who liked them. But it’s done worse in the Hermes and Sword Princess characters, Hermes was once this mysterious figure who felt as if he could control the world, nope he’s just another loser as well who is nothing compared to Bells beautiful light. The sword princess officially only has two traits, kill monster and kuudere.
Ok I have so much to say but I would spoil the whole show and at that point what’s the purpose of the review. Danmachi is appalling, there’s nothing good about it, it perfectly represents peoples distaste modern anime and its focus on target audiences. I do not recommend for the life of me that you watch this show unless you’re trying to get your mean score down. In the event that you do watch it I hope you enjoy it in the way that I didn’t
To sum it all up
Thanks for the read
8: Majo no Tabitabi
English: Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina
MAL Score: 7.55
Since childhood, Elaina has always been fascinated by the stories written within her favorite book, especially those about Nike, a renowned witch who had numerous great travels across the world. Wanting to experience the awe of adventure herself, Elaina strives to become a witch, and despite the numerous trials that come her way, she eventually succeeds.
Now a full-fledged witch, Elaina finally embarks on her long-awaited journey, in which she meets many people along the way, learning their various stories. Through all of this, she explores the world at its fullest—experiencing both its bright and dark sides—starting her legendary tale.
In the beginning, it is exactly what you’d anticipate. Then it blindsides you with something unexpected. The show reveals itself to be a thoroughly depressing, tonally maligned ‘journey’ driven by a narcissistic main character through a nihilistic and morbid world. It always left me anxious, nauseous, frustrated, and sometimes all of the above. If you want to draw meaning from suffering, it needs to be natural and purposeful. The Journey of Elaina manufactures pain to give the audience catharsis, but there is never a satisfying conclusion to relieve the pent up emotions it conjures. At the end of each chapter, we’re gifted dubious life lessons from the self-absorbed main character. She should figure out her emotional deficiencies before waxing philosophical like she’s Aristotle.
In the first episode, Elaina studies to become a witch. She passes the sorcery exam at 14 years old, then seeks to become a witch’s apprentice. After being rejected by the witches nearby, her parents send her to Fran. A secluded witch. Elaina is a very vain person. She obnoxiously praises herself at least once an episode. Her arrogant monologues go like this, “Who is the beautiful girl wearing a brooch that signals her status as a witch, whose ashen hair flutters in the wind, shining so much with beauty and talent that even the sun’s eyes squint involuntarily? That’s right, it’s me.”
What a humble person. The way she talks about herself borders on narcissism. You’re a child prodigy. We get it. Outside maybe the first episode, I have no reason to believe Elaina is as wonderful as she pretends to be. Her motivations are money, free food, a place to stay, and being praised for her beauty. She travels for the sake of traveling, there’s no depth to her. It’s clear right away that she should be the main selling point of the series. She’ll make or break the show for you.
I tried to like Elaina at first, she is an interesting person to analyze. Make no mistake, she has next to no character development and no growth whatsoever; however, her cruel actions and lack of empathy are confounding. I always wondered what her endgame would be. Would she finally have a character arc? Or would the entire show be a series of disjointed stories? (It was the latter) It’s hard to feel any empathy towards Elaina when she’s so arrogant, and her travels are either silly or comically morbid. Among her exploits is a visit to a place where slavery is legal, a town of strange people obsessed with dolls, and a bandit infested village that hunts witches.
In the very beginning, she talks about her life as a child, reading a book about a traveling witch. She dreamed of being her. And that’s it. The fictional witch’s adventures were probably more exciting than what we got. The only memorable stories are the ones with gratuitous gore and depressing premises. On multiple occasions, children are beaten and bloody. One of them stands, and calmly tells us how her parents abused her. For what? They aren’t trying to portray mental illness realistically. I wish, but it instead devolves into dumb laugh-inducing shock horror. The author is incapable of writing serious dialogue. He barely has a grip on his story’s tone. His ineptitude caused the trainwreck that is episode 9. Watching it was like witnessing someone get shot—you can’t look away. I felt corrupted, violated, by such a morally bankrupt display of self-masturbatory edgy writing. How on Earth could anyone think this is deep?
Often the show tries to be something it’s not. I don’t feel the world is an exciting place to explore, partly because there’s almost no world-building. The only aspect which connects every chapter is cynicism. Seemingly everyone in this world is evil. In this show, people are either thieves, liars, swindlers, child abusers, or murderers. Even the kindest character, Saya, comes uncomfortably close to being a “psychotic lesbian” because she persistently loves Elaina. It’s like the author grew up getting bullied, lied to, cheated on, then fired from their job, so they decided to write a book about how much people suck. And I agree with you; people do suck, but if you want to tell a story about it, make it purposeful. When a series about adventuring doesn’t make me want to go on an adventure, it’s troubling.
Frequently, this anime gets compared to Kino’s Journey. I thought Kino’s remake was ok, but the original (from what I’ve seen and read) is fantastic. I see the similarities. The Journey of Elaina reminds me of Kino because each setting explores flaws and morality in society. Such as if liars or murder are should be illegal/legal. Or what would happen if slavery was legal. They’re not quite the same. Elaina’s themes are more superficial and sometimes preachy, but they’re told through complicated metaphors and wordy dialogue.
In contrast, Kino gives us information without much talking and filters through a bias due to Kino’s moral compass. Kino allows us to draw conclusions ourselves. Kino empathizes with the people they encounter. If they see someone suffering, they will help. Although they don’t sacrifice their life, they do put themself in danger for others/to stay true to their moral compass. But Elaina doesn’t have much of a moral compass. She only intervenes if she has something to gain, like money, a free meal, or a place to stay. If her beauty is insulted, she retaliates. Her motives are less relatable or admirable, in my eyes, at least. I think some of these issues were due to a poor adaptation—I haven’t read the light novel, so I can’t say that for sure. You directly access the characters’ thoughts in a light novel, and the author can easily exposit information. The anime may have struggled to get that information on screen. At some point, I’m going to read the light novel, and then I’ll have a better idea of if it’s a problem with the source material or the adaptation itself. Even with the sparse information given on screen, there are worthwhile observations to be made.
At first, it may seem self-obsessive; women can receive confidence from gazing at themselves in a mirror, ignoring cultural beauty standards or intrusion of the male gaze. Staring at oneself can be a way to take power back, especially in a society that tells women that their external appearance matters. In some cases, society says appearance matters more than anything else. To look in the mirror and love yourself for who you are is healthy, in moderation. This logic applies to men as well. By observing your emotional expressions in a mirror, you condition yourself to be more comfortable. Becoming aware of your own emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and expectations is a necessary first step toward acceptance and self-compassion. Elaina’s self-obsession doesn’t stem from her insecurities or cultural expectations; in fact, she is a prisoner to them. When confronted with other beautiful women, or men who question her beauty, she becomes enraged rather than indifferent. Not only is she self-obsessed, but she also cares too much about what others think of her. Narcissists tend to have overinflated yet fragile egos that easily pop, like a hot air balloon poked by a pen. One could argue that Elaina feels insecure because the witch society hated her, but that falls apart when you realize they rejected her simply because she is special. Supposedly passing the test at only 14 made the other witches “envious” of her, which only inflated her ego more. Elaina has another prominent sign of narcissism—a lack of empathy.
On her journey, when Elaina briefly stops at a town, she avoids becoming connected with anyone or anything. She has a non-interference rule—influenced by her mother’s guidance. Even if someone is suffering, she won’t bother. It’s not because she lacks the strength to help. Her magic is powerful, and she’s rarely in danger. To rationalize abandoning people in need, Elaina says, “Just because you are doing something for someone else doesn’t make it right.” If this sounds like a shitty excuse, I agree. If someone is dying on the side of the road, do you call an ambulance or drive away? You’d help, of course. But she wouldn’t. Elaina just cops out and says “not helping was the right thing.” At least Elaina acknowledges she’s preachy, but that doesn’t stop her from being a jerk. As she flys away, she ponders her actions. Then pushes the thoughts out of her mind and continues onward. Nothing lost, nothing gained.
If that’s something you want, feel free to watch this. The art, animation, and music are great. It’s one of the best-looking anime of the season. If nothing else, watch it for the aesthetic. Although most of it is fluffy slice-of-life and silly short stories, it is always cynical. If you don’t like morbidity and negativity in your fiction, I understand if you’d opt for something else. Nowadays, if I want to remember that the world sucks, I’ll just turn on the news.
Fiction often tells us a similar tale: one of the hero saving the day, where happiness is a commodity given as a reward for good and just deeds. In the case of Majo no Tabitabi, which follows Elaina’s solitary journey throughout the vast skies and endless seas, this rule of fiction is approached in a more skeptical manner. Good intentions may be rewarded, but it is not always so.
Unlike most anime, Majo no Tabitabi doesn’t portray karma as an infallible law from which we can never escape. Sometimes the characters will strive to resolve an issue with good intentions, but as a consequence of following their heart, it can sometimes lead not to a problem being fixed, but a problem made worse. These themes can potentially be misconstrued by some viewers as the story being pretentious (among other disparaging terms), but Majo no Tabitabi does not claim that optimism or idealism is wrong, either. Karma and morality are treated as an open-ended question of which there is no inherently correct answer. It is situational and oftentimes a matter of luck, which is demonstrated by the various happy and unhappy conclusions to the episodes.
It’s precisely this unpredictable pattern of storytelling which makes Majo no Tabitabi so enchanting. There are happy episodes that warm the soul, more slice-of-life in nature and which will make the viewer laugh and smile. There are darker episodes, which are less frequent, but which make you question the characters’ actions as well as your own beliefs. And even in the quieter moments, where the story is meant to be approached more as entertainment, there are subtle themes that can be pursued by the viewer at their behest. What happens when a wall is erected in the middle of a small town, for example? While these themes are nothing exemplary on their own, they do complement the story on a wider scale by showing facets of Elaina’s personality which are not otherwise explored in the more serious episodes. It is, after all, as much a story about Elaina herself as it is about the adventure. Travel is personal, and is inherently a story about the traveler.
Most likely, there will be some people who disagree with aspects of Elaina’s worldview. And that is fine, as she is an observer and fervently avoids the role of hero. Unlike most anime protagonists, while Elaina is naturally a kind person, she will sometimes ignore the plights of others if it is not of personal benefit or interest to her. There are of course times where she will help the strangers of a country on a more selfless basis, but by and large, she calculates whether or not it is worth getting involved in a problem, just as the vast majority of people in our world do. After several years travelling from place to place, being embroiled in local issues that do not affect her personally, it is inevitable that at least some of her good intentions would have led to tragedy and less-than-happy outcomes. And so Elaina knows, and so she does not assume the helping hand will be met with a just reward. There is a big difference between someone like Elaina, who is experienced and hardened, and an anime character who is cynical and morally grey simply because it is perceived as cool to be so. I would even go as far as to say this is what separates Majo no Tabitabi, a surprisingly adult-oriented anime, apart from series like Oregairu and Re:Zero. Elaina may not possess the same innocence and happy-go-lucky nature as other characters in anime, but that is because she has traveled far and seen the world at large, and has thus not had the luxury of being trapped in a small social bubble, as so many are.
That is not to claim that Majo no Tabitabi’s storytelling is without error, because it is not. There are a few aspects that I wish were better, particularly the conclusion of the 9th episode, which was excessive in a way the show hadn’t really been up to that point. It’s possible the anime staff tried to capture part of that Re:Zero audience, which, for a product seeking financial success, is unfortunate but expected. The themes and the plot of the episode were engaging and shocking in the right ways, but the visual direction had me almost feel as though I were watching a different anime entirely. But it is not as though the serious episodes all follow this same formulae, so the odd directorial shift for the one episode was given little more than a shrug from me.
Another issue some might find is that the pacing, particularly at the start, is lightning fast. Hearing “And so, six months later…” doesn’t really allow the viewer to get all too attached to the events of the episode. I do appreciate that the story covers a large span of time (essentially 4+ years, and likely more in the light novels), and I even prefer this over more traditional slice-of-life, but trimming the timeskips down a tad would help to make the passage of time feel more natural and less abrupt. The presence of yuri elements towards the end – a frequent trope in slice-of-life series with predominantly female casts – was also a bit on the unnecessary side. That said, it is not pervasive, and is largely relegated to a single episode, which is fortunate as the series’ strengths are not in romance and sudden… homoerotic proposals.
On a more technical level, Majo no Tabitabi is solid. While the animation is not something that will explode your mind and make you feel as if you were watching some massive-budget production, there is more effort here than the typical static visuals of most anime. In a lot of anime, it is essentially just a slideshow – panning over a single image for five or more seconds, with the only moving parts being the flapping of a character’s lips. Majo no Tabitabi may occasionally fall victim to this shortcutting as well— there are weekly deadlines to be met, after all— but there is often more going on than the average anime, even if it is something as subtle as Elaina shrugging her shoulders while speaking. As well, the art style of Majo no Tabitabi is vibrant and lively, and the characters’ facial expressions convey considerable emotion. They do not need to explicitly say ‘I am angry’ or ‘I am sad’ for you to understand what they are thinking and feeling. This may sound obvious, and something to be expected, but the sad truth is that most TV anime forget the importance of facial expressions and instead rely on voice acting talent to illustrate a scene. Majo no Tabitabi may be simple, but it excels in said simplicity.
It is also admirable how the anime staff honoured the creator’s wishes to keep the anime adaptation free of sexual fanservice. I don’t have any issues with sexual content in anime, and— to the contrary— view it as a positive when handled well. But moments involving pantyshots and things of that nature are juvenile and would do nothing but detract from Elaina’s character. She is mentally and emotionally mature in a way that most female characters in anime aren’t, and seeing her get embarrassed because she was caught changing clothes— or whatever else ecchi anime do these days— would diminish who she is as a person. The anime is confident enough in its own qualities that it does not need to add gratuitous sexual fluff. Leave that to the doujins and fan material, and keep letting Majo no Tabitabi be as it is, I say.
So, yeah. I liked Majo no Tabitabi. Quite a bit, too. A lot of people have drawn parallels between it and Kino no Tabi, and I would say that is quite appropriate. But where Kino no Tabi excelled in worldbuilding, I sometimes thought it fell short with regards to characterization. Majo no Tabitabi is the answer to that issue. While it may be more divisive than other anime of its genre, it comes as a solid recommendation to all varieties of anime fans. Anime like this are exceptionally, and increasingly rare in today’s marketplace. If you haven’t watched it yet, you’re missing out on something special.
And if you’re curious, I’ll even go a step further: I think Majo no Tabitabi is the best anime of the year – and potentially more.
How about ‘One Saturday afternoon’? That’s slightly better,
but why not begin more directly, like saying Who is the beautiful girl wearing a Brooch? That’s right it’s me. OK, now we’re off
Majo No Tabitabi or Wandering Witch is a story that almost tells itself in its title. It is not so hard to imagine what kind of anime this will going to be; a fairy tale stories about young prodigy witch, traveling from country to country, meets new people and new situations in every episode. The anime is exactly as you’d expect, and more, but it is also not a daydreams fairy tales as you’d expect.
The anime is episodic in nature and a lot of people compare this to Kino’s Journey which is understandably so and I won’t deny there’s a case of similarity, but there’s difference I firmly belief in the way Majo no Tabitabi’s handled its narratives. First of all, though each of Majo No Tabitabi episode is technically developed with a self-contained story, there’s gradual sense of lore, secrets and worldbuilding that is built to complement one-overarching setting. Have you noticed a trend of adventure anime not being about adventure at all? (Isekai is the one most guilty of this) most of the time they are obsessed with explaining and expositing all the mechanics and systems of a world (which get defused in the most boring way possible). One of the most relevant feature of narrative, I believe, is the fact that the whole tends to make sense of the parts. It is often only at the end of a story that the elements leading up to the ending make sense, but it’s not just the outcome that matters – ‘the whole’ also include the backgrounds context. In this respect Majo No Tabitabi never tried to bombarding its audiences with lots of exposition about how the magic works etc, but just lets its stories built its backgrounds.
Regarding the country/states that Elaina visits, this is also one of the case of differences from the show with Kino’s Journey. While Kino’s Journey trying to showing the beauty of its world in the darkest and grim way possible, in this anime not every country that Elaina visits has this dark storyline behinds it and at times it just a peaceful and sweets country. Which means there’s variation of mood and themes coming in each episode; some episodes perhaps a bit uncomfortable to watch, some are thought-provoking, and others just downright comical at times. I personally find this quite a mixed bag as I found some episodes were good, some episodes weren’t, as every episodic anime out there, but this was really prominent here because the different tones presented in each episode, making me wonder sometimes about the show needed to make up its mind about what it wanted to be. That said some viewers may found this interesting as they will be presented with something different each episode.
Due the limitation of episodic nature of the anime, there’s little possibilities to develop story and characters beyond the main ones, but to its credit, the show manages to deliver in this department which is not the cases of some episodic series. Elaina, as the main character of the story, is obviously an interesting case, she is one of the more unusual characters concepted within the entirety of anime. A prodigy that managed to become a full pledged witch in very young age, travelling from country to country while riding her magic broom and dreaming of travel all over the world following the footstep of her childhood hero and always explicitly saying to herself how she is the beautiful person in the universe. She is hardly an archetypal hero nor is she concepted to become one. Her characterization is based on the books she reads, her knowledge of tragical story/country, her experiences in this journey and the fact she’s self-aware that she’s a special talent. As a result, I found it quite justifiable that some of her action and sometimes conclusion of the episodes in this anime were not ended in the most idealistic way possible. But to balance the books there are also some episodes where things are not going in her way and she’s feels helpless to the point it was just a very bad experience to her. All of this kind of stuff is what, to many, makes the characters and the show memorable.
Despite all that things said above, the prominent sides characters were actually not bad. I just like the fact that these sides characters were not just appeared in one episode and just go away like every other episodic series as I thought that it would be, given the fact this shows change its setting regularly. Most characters of importance are all females witch (there’s no male, even though they do exist) who exist in pleasant companionship, though, of course, they all have quite distinct personalities that blend well together even if these are somewhat clichéd: from Saya, Elaina’s acquaintance who’s madly feel in love with her (this is why this show could be uncomfortable, especially ep 11 I think) and the initially brooding yet kind-hearted Sheila to the insightful teacher in Fran. Most of the characters are also given a personal quirk, which is something of a cheap shot yet works remarkably well to give them personality.
However, the show certainly has its fair share of flaws. For starters, some of the townspeople here most of the time behaving not like actual, realistic people. I’m not saying they should be characters with lots of complexity but sometimes they are just there to giving a suspension of disbelief. There are some episodes involving dolls where the townspeople were just braindead citizens and some episodes where there’s issue that plague the country for years and Elaina who solved it in an instant doing it in the simplest way possible and none of the citizen were even though about it. There’s also a bit issue regarding the rewatchability of this show, particularly on the ‘dark’ episodes; it relies far too much on shock factor to create drama and even some of them were pretty predictable at times. Given the fact that every stories solved in one episode, the suspense and the built up for this kind of story is kind of weak and as a result I believe there’s not much left to be chew on the second viewing.
As for the art, it isn’t the anime strongest point. Studio C2C is not the prolific studio out there and this kinda shown here. While Characters are easily distinguished graphically and are able to express a wide range of emotions, There’s actually not much to look at. Scenes are composed rather straightforwardly, and I found the whole thing visually dull. There are some scenes with witches chasing around and the show just showed us with still frames. The anime doesn’t really do a far superior job in leveraging its visuals to convey feeling, emotion, and subtext. The setting is always looking great, but rarely do the visuals add significantly to or help further our understanding of our heroine’s journey. And more importantly it just lacks atmosphere that you kind of expect from such a show.
The music, too, was not so memorable; I like the OP song which you should hear it too even though you don’t watch the anime but not so much about the ED. As for the soundtrack, it’s about as standard folk fair as it comes, but it fits the setting, accompanying especially the more festive moments perfectly and has the good graces to sometimes simply not be very good.
For all the above technical qualities, though, the show manages to be above average in any way in its stories and characters. I do believe as most anime, the show still has issues mainly the good old ‘some episodes were good and some episodes were not’ that you always found in episodic series. Looking at Majo no Tabitabi as the Kino’s Journey is quite mistaking. What comes first in this show is the protagonist, that is, Elaina herself and not so much about the setting but at the same time it is not as much random setting that just there for the landscape, there’s backgrounds context built behind it. In many ways, the travels of the protagonists are but a means to show her growth as a living person and a small piece of breathing world. If they do a sequel and I’m still around, then sure, I’ll keep following the series.
7: Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu.
English: BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense.
MAL Score: 7.56
After an enthusiastic invitation from her friend, Kaede Honjou reluctantly agrees to try New World Online: a very popular VRMMO played by thousands of people across Japan. Naming her in-game character Maple, she sets out on her journey. As a complete novice to such games, she allocates all of her stat points into vitality, desiring to not get hurt. With not a single point in any other stat, Maple has extraordinarily high defense, but she can’t move quickly or hit hard.
This doesn’t end badly for her, however. Due to her high defense, Maple acquires overpowered skills such as Total Defense, Poison Immunity, and Devour. These skills, along with the incredibly powerful items she obtains, allow her to obliterate most enemies in a single hit. After only a few days of playing the game, Maple claims third place in a server-wide event, gaining a reputation as a player who is both unkillable and absurdly powerful.
Despite her overpowered character, Kaede has much to learn. As she progresses through the game, she meets new friends and acquaintances, helping her complete new levels and events. Through all of her adventures, she may even pick up some other crazy skills that exceed all expectations.
You see, because the author actually played MMOs before, he understands that in reality all of them suck major balls, so instead of portraying his fictional game as “realistic,” he portrays it as fun. In a sense, the game is portrayed the way an unspoiled newcomer sees MMOs: as a new world of adventure and endless possibility, one you explore with genuine curiosity and sense of wonder. Not a repetitive grind-fest, fantasy accountant simulator regarding stats and gear, and disappointing technological limitations.
Not that this fictional game being fun actually matters. Because this series isn’t a VRMMO. It is an anime show about people playing VRMMO (a concerningly high number of people seems to be unable to comprehend the distinction). And because the author can write, this ends up being a fun anime show. What it does right:
The VRMMO premise done right. I’ll repeat it again, this is a show about people playing a VRMMO – exploring a fictional world, socializing with their friends, making new friends, having fun. There is an online community of people talking about the game they play – sharing news, bitching about the OP things, bitching about the developers nerfing the OP things, etc. There are, of course, the developers, monitoring the state of the game, rolling out new content and thinking hard about what else to nerf. No one is trapped in an MMO. There are no contrived idiotic stakes like “if you die here, you die in real life.” Instead, there are real stakes in that the characters’ behaviour in the game affects their relationships with other people. There is real meaningful progress of meeting people and building friendships.
The MMO fanservice done right. There is a certain famous VRMMO series with a reputation of catering to the core MMO audience. That show spends half an episode explaining the idea that different classes can party up together to be more effective in combat, and does that with a comically pompous attitude of revealing some grand 4D chess strategy. That series is low-IQ garbage. In contrast, the MMO fanservice in Bofuri is clever, subtle, doesn’t waste your time, and happens when it makes sense in context. There are things like using combat moves for mobility (like a vertically-propelling attack for double-jumping), accidentally stumbling on hidden content by doing random stupid shit, wasting hours just fishing, sequence-breaking a quest line, and, the core foundation of the story, breaking the game by combining various mechanics in a way that was not forseen by the devs.
Narrative depth. As mentioned above, this is a story about people socializing, and the way this happens is organic and believable. Sally is the protagonist Maple’s close friend who went to a great length of getting her into this MMO in the first place, which is why it makes sense how much effort she pours into keeping Maple entertained. Hell, the show could’ve been a good romance story if it wanted to, this is how well the aspect of their “dating” is executed. Meanwhile, Maple herself is a cheerful outgoing extrovert who effortlessly makes new friends, so she ends up with a guild. Sally isn’t an extrovert, so she isn’t friends with their guild. She tolerates them because they’re Maple’s friends. The guild members all have their own circumstances which boil down to that being in the Maple’s guild is just a good time in one way or another. Chrome is the most notable case – he is the generic audience surrogate dude who would be perfectly fine just reading about Maple (who’s a mascot of the game for all intents) on the forum, but somehow ended up as her companion, so now he’s self-conscious about being worthy of the main character position, especially considering he plays the same class as Maple but isn’t as good at it. Even the aforementioned forum messages look like real conversations that could be held by real people.
I could easily write paragraphs upon paragraphs breaking down such stuff – simply because there IS stuff to break down. There is depth. Best of all, it’s subtle and unobtrusive, the audience isn’t being beaten over the head with who thinks what about whom, it’s just there between the lines, not taking away the screen-time from the show’s main substance, but present to be seen by anyone who has the eyes and the brain to see it. Maybe not everyone does, which is why this aspect of the show goes underappreciated.
High production values. The series is supposedly a comedy/SoL, and yet its action scenes blow 90% of action anime out of the water with the level of their choreography, animation and hype. I, for once, particularly enjoyed the scene where a caster doing a long-ass chant was actually a thing happening in real time, with interference from their opponents and covering fire from their allies. The art, the music, the character design, etc. are all on point.
It’s fun. This is what MMOs are supposed to be about. Finishing your day, logging in, getting away from the real life problems for a moment, and having fun. Bofuri manages to capture that sense of having fun.
9/10 for “what every VRMMO series should aspire to be.”
A good question. For the sake of this review, I’m addressing it just the anime as “Bofuri” because who really wants to read out loud the full title. At its sweet spot, Bofuri essentially drops our main character into a virtual reality world, based on a new game known as “New World Online”. As the character avatar “Maple”, she carries a vast amount of vitality but very low amount of offensive power. Hence, you can easily guess where the English version of the title came from. Maple, as her character suggests, maxed out her defense and doesn’t want to get hurt.
If we’re talking about realism here, putting all your skill points into one skill isn’t a clever idea. In a party, everyone has a role and sometimes, desperate times calls for desperate measures where you have to take on a role that you’re not prepared for. Now, you may be getting the idea that Maple made a critical mistake but fear not for she managed to obtain two important skills to aid her in combat. That’s the beauty about some MMOs. There’s choices that can be made and Maple’s choice managed to become a character of near unrivalled talent.
Maple herself is a young girl with enthusiasm, curiosity, and full of life. She and her partner Sally are our charming adventure duo who undertakes quests and completing tasks. Adapting an MMO 101 formula, a series like this heavily depends on our main cast to carry the storytelling. The author wanted us to understand our main characters and relate to them. And for that purpose, she made Maple into as ordinary as possible, both in-game and in real life. Chances are, you’ve probably encountered someone of similar personality to Maple in a MMO game before. The main difference is that she has max defense and essentially that tank you want in a party. And when watching Bofuri, it sometimes feels like playing a game. I’m not just talking about fighting a boss monster together or taking on some escort mission. I’m talking about social connection, a perk that every MMO game offers to its players. Maple is there to not just build her character, guild, or skills. She’s also in this world to make friends, companions, and even rivals to prove herself. In the early episodes, she builds an important relationship with Sally, who becomes one of her most trustworthy allies. Later in the series, she forms a guild together with Kasumi, May, and her friend Yui. They called it, the “Maple Tree”.
As the guild master, Maple has a lot of responsibility on her shoulders to carry as she has to unite together in this complex game. Under the virtual reality umbrella, anything can happen anytime in this series so their members must all be prepared. While most of the characters in the guild are friendly with each other, Kasumi does initially display a cold shoulder with her serious personality. It isn’t until she became more familiarized with Maple and her friends that she began to warm up and trust them. Blending between the line of fiction and reality, we also do see some of her real life scenarios when the opportunity arises. However, I would argue and say that her virtual life is far more ambitious than her real life counterpart. When it comes down to it, she’s too ordinary in real life and is portrayed as a generic teenager you’ve seen a million times before. In game, she has a more presence with not just her skills but ability to bring people closer together. I won’t be the grand judge on whether you prefer her in-game avatar or real life character. But if you ask me, Maple’s potential lies in her virtual adventures.
Up to this point, you may also be asking the glaring question about how far the anime focuses on the story. As an anime original viewer, I can only say that the story embraces its premise and promises a lighthearted fantasy adventure experience. The light novels contains a well-rounded amount of chapters that I have no doubt expands far more into what this anime adapted. But for references, I do appreciate that the author were able to capture the main concepts of the show at its core. From Maple’s sociable personality and selling the main concepts of a VRMMO game, it shows that Bofuri can make an identity of its own. Even in a floodgate of these isekai-esque game world settings, Bofuri is what I classify as a sparkling gem.
For Silver Link to take on this anime adaptation means you should probably lower some expectations. As much as I enjoy the world setting and fictional fantasy gags, there’s only so much this anime can pull you in on the artistic front. Character designs looks simple despite Maple wearing that heavy armor and wielding a shield almost twice her size. Other characters in the series has little to impress as most them look like premade characters from a video game. The bestiary is also more or less to get excited about as the majority lacks unique traits. On the hand, I do appreciate how the anime embraces idea of character classes and mostly stick to their guns. Mostly during combat scenes, we see the characters use their actual skills rather than pulling tricks out of their ass. And sometimes, these battles raises the stakes in later episodes with guild rivalries that can be worth anticipating for.
Bofuri ended up being one of the better fantasy shows this year from what’s shown us. It may be a bit early to call for now but from the endless lineup of generic isekai and game world fantasies, Bofuri managed to celebrate the essentials of adventuring. And with just 12 episodes, it’s easy for anyone to jump into. Prepare to be assimilated.
BOFURI as it is called due to it’s absurdly long title is a rather delightful show to watch. Yes, the fact that it’s another virtual reality Isekai may be a bit eye rolling, but it does help that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously. It has a very light tone to the point that it can be considered slice-of-life, since it very much is. It basically looks into the life of a teenage girl as she has fun with her friends in the virtual space. The only thing making her stand-out from the crowd is that she naively Min-maxed a defense build that in turn led to her getting favorable results. Essentially she found a way to break the game and make herself drastically overpowered in a short amount of time. It amounts to very little aside from making boss fights and pvp tournaments very easy for her because in the end, it’s just a game.
That’s really the crux of it all that makes it stand, the show acknowledges that everything is just a game and nothing more. The characters all get along and there’s rarely(if any) deep seated rivalries or drama because it would be petty because it is just a game. All the NPCS are obviously scripted and quests that can be easily circumvented or easily accomplished. And while the main protagonist may be an overpowered tank, she does get nerfed from time to time. Although she usually bounces back from it with some other new thing the story hands out to her. Yes, things really do come very conveniently to our main protagonist, Maple. So much so that combined with her happy-go-lucky attitude she comes off as a Mary sue with her only fault being clumsy. Of course this power fantasy is only in the game, because out of it she’s just a clumsy girl and nothing more.
If it isn’t telling from the last paragraph, a lot of the characters in this show don’t have a lot of depth to them. Which is all fine for the most part, since their simplicity is part of their charm. It’s that casual carelessness and easy to understand personalities that makes them easy to attach to. such as Maple’s best friend Sally who is very supportive of her and who purposely created her own min-max build that compliments her friends. Even the “antagonistic” characters such as the leaders of the flame emperors who comes off as a very serious try hard person. Only for it to reveal that it;s more of a front for her to impress her friends and is also really a bit of a crybaby. Although it’s not uncommon that some of the characters can be forgettable even in Maple’s own group.
While the production value for the show is as decent as it comes these days. The soundtrack is worth taking note of. Not because there is something remarkable about it, but it does end up having a place within the show. Mostly when it comes during the fight sequences and the montages in the show. Especially the montages which the show has many more than it should have. It has a very distinct musical and vocal track that gets played again and again for each montage. It’s a decent song, but it would be nice to have something different. The same goes for the fight sequence song as well.
This is a show that isn’t planning to aim high and I guess i can respect that. All it wants to be is a carefree enjoyable show, and it succeeded in doing so.
6: Radiant 2nd Season
English: RADIANT Season 2
Japanese: ラディアン 第2シリーズ
MAL Score: 7.59
Second season of Radiant.
Season 2 here covers the long-running Caislean Merlin arc of Tony Valente’s manfra, and for another 21 episodes, it could not be more fitting than that to show just how massive the divide between the massive character cast is. Without spoiling anything, it was literally an all-out war between regular humans (a.k.a the Inquisition plus a band of people) vs. the sorcerers (a.k.a Seth and his brothers alongside support from Melie, Doc and others), and pick your side of the battle, because this battlefight outrageously affects those who are involved and maligned to the cause of their own calling. Needless to say, there are deaths in battle to fight for what’s right, but to the mainstay character cast (Seth, Melie, Doc), endless inquiring about them looking forward to find Radiant once again, just got caught on the wayside with facing the Inquisition again after what happened in the Rumble Town arc in Season 1. All I can say was, it was a battle of epic proportions, and it’s a redemption all to itself.
To add onto the insanity, if the same production staff and Lerche absolutely bogged the comedy in Season 1, the seriousness in tone is just as goog (not great, mind you) coming into Season 2 with a fleshed-out plot and visuals that still make the manga better than the anime, but where the latter nails it is in the pacing and story restructuring that’s better than the former.
THIS is what fans of the manfra have been waiting for the series to truly flex its story, just that the beginning journey is more rough to swallow than it is here, and unfortunately having to stomach Season 1 just disappointed both fans and newcomers and this gets shunned immediately. So for Season 2 here to go back to its roots, I’ve gotta commend the staff for doing such a good job bringing Tony Valente’s vision to light, and also to check out the manga as well (besides being an advertisement for the source material DUH).
Music aside, the OP/ED pairing is fine, though I’d like Emi Nakamura’s song as well on the levels of Season 1’s OP and ED.
Re-stating the point overall, to either end this show’s run or continue with a Season 3 (in the future), it’s time to revisit Radiant and binge it for all its pretty good hype and worth. Just as decent for the myriad of Shounen series overall, but definitely not bad than expected, at all.
Spoiler: There’s a girl in the show that has a mark behind her neck you can push like a button and command her to do whatever you want. It’s one of the worst plot devices ever imagined.
As for the world building, I don’t think this season added too much to what I understood from the first season, but that might be because of the plot which I found well woven and nicely tied together. What really struck me about this show is the idea of stakes. See, one of my biggest problems with Shonen is that there never seem to be any stakes. Things happen, bad guys attack, but everything seems to be fixed immediately after with no repercussions. For instance, Fairy Tail where literally no one dies and even Lisanna who was supposedly dead before the show started was brought back later on.
But, Radiant S2 had stakes. There were consequences for what they fought for. This helped to immerse me in the story even more and I completely enjoyed it. All in all, I enjoyed this a whole lot more than I thought I would. This is a show that will go under the radar when compared to other shows in the genre, but I’ll reckon it’s actually one of the better Shonen shows.
5: Kami no Tou
English: Tower of God
Japanese: 神之塔 -Tower of God-
MAL Score: 7.59
There is a tower that summons chosen people called “Regulars” with the promise of granting their deepest desires. Whether it be wealth, fame, authority, or something that surpasses them all—everything awaits those who reach the top.
Twenty-Fifth Bam is a boy who had only known a dark cave, a dirty cloth, and an unreachable light his entire life. So when a girl named Rachel came to him through the light, his entire world changed. Becoming close friends with Rachel, he learned various things about the outside world from her. But when Rachel says she must leave him to climb the Tower, his world shatters around him. Vowing to follow after her no matter what it takes, he sets his sight on the tower, and a miracle occurs.
Thus begins the journey of Bam, a young boy who was not chosen by the Tower but opened its gates by himself. They call his kind “Irregulars”—beings that have shaken the very foundation of the Tower each time they set foot inside it.
Becoming popular is the reason why ToG was adapted. Crunchyroll milked it because it was their prized cash cow, more interested in money than creativity. It recycles familiar anime tropes, plot points, and character archetypes to create the anime equivalent of Frankenstein’s monster.
Tournament arcs are successful, so the entire show will be a tournament arc. Superheroes are trendy, let’s add superpowers. People like comedy right? Let’s add nine or ten comic relief characters, they’ll love it! We’ll even shoehorn a school into the Tower. Fantasy stories make tons of money too, so we’ll say outside of the tower is a sprawling fantasy world. That way we won’t have to write it, instead, we’ll just call it a mystery. Genius. Perhaps I may be mistaken. I’ve heard it gets better later on, but I don’t care how long it takes to become worth watching. I’m not reviewing chapter 400 of the manhwa. I’m reviewing this season.
The premise is simple, but the execution is threadbare. Those attempting to climb the Tower strive for riches, influence, and the power to become a God. They’ve been living inside it forever. How has it shaped their lives? I have no clue what the world is like outside of the tower. Maybe it will be explained in the next season. Constantly it is implied there is a huge fantasy world out there, but it’s never actually shown. Rather than organically introducing the setting, characters, and politics, the show haphazardly drops names and exposition onto the audience. Thankfully, the author knows how poorly explained everything is, so he writes blog posts to fill in the blanks because he doesn’t know how to integrate information into the story. The paper-thin plot is played up to be mysterious, but the biggest mystery about ToG is how the hell it got so popular.
This UNIQUE and ORIGINAL story follows a boy named Generic Male Protagonist, his Cool Guy friend, and a Comic Relief character. Our hero embarks on a quest to find the Generic Girl. Where did she go? She entered the tower, the Tower of God! Despite being told not to pursue her, Generic Male chases after her anyway! For as long as Generic Male, AKA Bam can remember, he has lived in a cave beneath the tower. One day, Rachel the Generic Girl found Bam. For better or worse, she taught him about the world. She became a mother figure to him and his love interest. Uh-huh. I have no clue what her perspective on their relationship is. Does she love him too? Or did she just pity him? I have no idea what Rachel’s life was like before she found Bam. How did Bam live before being “saved” by her? How long was he trapped? The show wants us to sympathize with him, but it’s impossible. He is a potato with arms, legs, and a face. Despite trying to leave him, Rachel groomed him to be loyal. She told him, “Betraying a girl’s trust is the same as betraying the whole world,” but Bam is a brainless mouth-breather so he believed her. This is how he became the world’s biggest SIMP.
At the beginning of his journey, Bam is granted superpowers. Out of nowhere, one of the Tower’s Princesses of Jahad meets Bam at the first level. She presents him with a mighty sword. Why? Because she’s bored. When it’s convenient for the plot, she reappears to remind us she exists. Ingenious character writing. Luckily for Bam, a ghost babe is living in his sword and she grants him even more power. Why? Because she thinks he’s “cute.” Do you see the trend? Bam gets everything he needs without putting in any effort (almost like the author). He is a Deus Ex Machina magnet because using cheap plot devices is easier than writing character development. The longer Bam is on screen the more he looks like a human-shaped punching bag. Bam is the audience’s avatar. He doesn’t need a deep personality, but it would’ve been nice if he had one. The story follows an ensemble cast and we learn about the world through him. Throughout the season Bam and his ‘friends’ take various tests administered by Rankers, people who’ve climbed the tower before. The tests vary from a fight to the death to making friends with competitors. There’s never a sense of urgency in any of the challenges.
At the end of the season, Bam announces, “I have changed so much.” Except, he never does. The only thing he changes is his outfit. For the entire show, he is an amnesiac with no personality or memories. His only reason for living is to chase after a girl even after she said not to. I’m honestly more interested in why Rachel’s trying to avoid him. She wanders through the anime with an expression that seems stuck somewhere between disapproval and boredom. You never get a sense of what she’s thinking because she’s so… dull. Her motives are so wishy-washy and her relationship with Bam makes no sense. She ditches him, then avoids him, then helps him. Rinse and repeat. It’s no wonder why ToG fans hate her guts. When she tries to avoid Bam, she does nothing to change her appearance. She wears the same hideous outfit that she wore when she first met Bam. If she didn’t want him to find her she would’ve at least cut her hair. They’re always close together yet he’s too dimwitted to figure it out. While in Tower school, they’re in the same class, but Bam can’t even see through her lazy disguise. Their whole relationship is so unbelievably stupid. How did someone above the age of fourteen write this?
Wrapped layers thick with plot armor—Bam embodies the “Chosen One” archetype. As though the author realized how bland Bam is, he introduces tons of side characters to distract us. The less bland deuteragonist, Khun, carries Bam through this season’s challenges. There’s not much to him (yet) aside from being the quintessential Cool Guy™. When he is first introduced, he suddenly gets a convenient flashback to his family. It’s vague, of course, but at least it’s something. From what I could discern, he was expelled from his family because his sister disappointed his parents. I’m assuming his personality and motivations were deemed unimportant because he has neither in this season. Maybe the author was kind enough to blog about Khun so we can fill in the blanks. One thing I find remarkable about Khun is his magical briefcase. Not only can it hold a couple of people, but it can also duplicate anything. While it’s an awesome idea, it doesn’t make much sense. If we’re supposed to believe this fantasy world has modern technology like electricity, televisions, phones, and the internet, then it would probably also have guns. Why can’t Khun just clone a bunch of AR15’s and plow his way through the tower? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe we can look forward to that in the fifth or sixth season.
Rather than integrating exposition into the story organically, the author uses Bam’s amnesia to lampshade exposition dumps. Random characters spoon-feed him plot points as if he’s a toddler. Sometimes people will just start monologuing their backstory out of nowhere. Throughout this season, we get random flashbacks to develop side characters. Two of them stood out far more than any others: Anaak and Endorsi. As princesses of Jahad, their rivalry to one-up each other is the most enjoyment I got from the show. Anaak, a green lizard-tailed girl, at least has a reason for climbing the tower. Revenge. As for Endorsi, her entire personality revolves around her vanity. She explicitly says she wears makeup and high heels to use her beauty for her benefit. Though this is just the ‘woman manipulates men with beauty’ cliche we can at least sympathize with her. The King views his princesses as beautiful tools only he may use, which explains Endorsi’s obsession with her appearance. The King’s prejudice towards women isn’t challenged by the author, which is likely because the author shares those ideals. As if unintentionally, certain lines of dialogue reveal the author’s regressive view of women. I wish the show was about Anaak and Endorsi rather than Bam and Rachel. There’s so much more to them. In future seasons, I hope to see more focus on them.
All the other side characters are cardboard cutouts. Their personalities can be summarized with one word each. Annoying, confrontational, tired, loud, hungry, etcetera. Way too many of the fight scenes are from the perspective of these forgettable characters. There is no reason to care about any of them if you haven’t read the manhwa. Some of the character designs fit the enigmatic fantasy setting they’re going for, but others just make no sense. Some people wear typical 2000s fashion like tracksuits, sneakers, and cargo shorts but others are in ninja outfits. And that’s not even to mention the dozens of different fantastical races. Just the character designs imply so much about the world, I wish he fleshed out the world or its inhabitants. But he didn’t. It’s a mess of disjointed tropes stuck together with Gorilla Glue.
If all you want is action and eye candy, you’ll probably be disappointed. Most of the combat revolves around strategic games, but rules are never clear, or where the contestants are in relation to each other. Despite the skilled animators they hired for certain fights, it all feels completely weightless. The director can compose a shot fine enough, but he otherwise seems bored to be here. Each scene lazily collides into the next; transitions are rushed and ugly. To make this trainwreck worse, the art quality is inconsistent as hell. The animation is stiff and the background art is unimaginative.
It’s as if the director didn’t know how to even script a TV series because every episode ends abruptly. In the middle of dialogue, it cuts to the credits. The next episode picks up right where it left off. They rarely ever tried to surprise us with a cliffhanger. It feels like they wrote the screenplay for a four-hour movie rather than a thirteen-episode TV show. Traditionally episodes conclude a chapter and setup to the next one, not just suddenly cut to black. The only buffer we get is the OP and ED, which are both average pop songs. For a high budget series, they put so little effort into designing the visuals for the credits. Within the series, the music is much better. The piano and the orchestral soundtrack is beautiful, as expected of Kevin Penkin, but it’s not suited to this series. Admittedly, it’s difficult to tell what tone Tower of God is going for. I doubt even the director always knew what emotion he was trying to evoke. In the rare action scenes when the music and artwork sync up well, it’s pretty entertaining. All of a sudden, someone will interject with an unfunny joke and the pace comes to a screeching halt. The art style will suddenly swap to chibi and comedic reaction faces are thrown in at random too. Even out of combat, the comedy is just cringy as hell. I was expecting it to go away as the plot progressed, but it only got worse.
Everything in Tower of God is a mystery. It is predicated on mythology, the setting is very vague, the protagonist is an amnesiac, and the rules of the Tower are unclear. For a show that’s at least 80% exposition, impressively it didn’t explain much this season. While watching ToG, questions like these will fill your mind: Who or what created the Tower? How does it grant people power? What is the outside world like? When the final episode ends, you still won’t have answers. The Tower is a mystery to everyone, even the author. Like an unplanned fanfiction, the direction is unclear. There is some vague foreshadowing. New characters are endlessly added in favor of developing current ones.
Tower of God suffers from inherent problems that are deeply structural, not just superficial, and they run right down to its core. If you build a tower on a weak foundation, it is bound to collapse. You cannot write a fantasy epic with no bones, and that’s why this season was a trainwreck. It has been a long and tedious climb, and apparently this is only the prologue. There’s nowhere to go from here but up, so as the fans say,
“It will get better next season!”
“It will get better next season!”
“It will get better next season!”
“It will get better next season!”
So, did the adaption of Tower of God live up to the hype? I would honestly say it did not. In fact, it falls way short. It’s nowhere near how good it could’ve and should’ve been considering the content that was to be adapted. Most of the reception to the anime as a whole has been fairly positive over the internet, but for someone who’s been a fan of the webtoon, it turned out to be a massive disappointment. When I first read the webtoon, I was sucked in by the dark environment, intriguing character motives, the ruthlessness of the world and the massive and unexplored world that was the tower. One of the selling points of the webtoon is the mystery surrounding everything and the fact that details and lore are revealed bit by bit in a complex manner without any sort of spoonfeeding to the audience.
The anime lost most of this and more.
Even after complaining so much, why have I given it a rating of 7? Well, even though I am extremely let down by the adaption, it still is a pretty decent anime. Yes, it’s not nearly as good as it could’ve been but it still entertains for the most part, and if I look at it from the eyes of someone who hadn’t read the manhwa beforehand, it’d be a very enjoyable show.
The story starts off with Rachel wanting to go up the tower to see the stars that she’d always dreamed about and Bam following her like a dog follows his master. But I can understand why Bam does this. Rachel is such an amazing person: tender, selfless, compassionate, kind and to top it off, she’s pretty cute in the anime too. Why wouldn’t anyone not want to follow this Goddess?
On a more serious note though, she’s the only person Bam has known his entire life so when she enters the tower wanting to fulfil her dreams, he follows after her. Simp is a word that’s been associated a lot with Bam these past 3 months. Tell me, do you call a child who’s crying for her mother and only smiles when he sees her close by, a simp? If you do, then I think you have more important things that you need to get sorted first. Anyways, Bam is that child whose mother has left him, and he’s trying to go after her. An understandable objective I believe.
Once Bam enters the tower in pursuit of Rachel, we’re introduced to the rules and workings of the tower along with Bam. The floors, the tests that are supposed to be passed in order to climb them, the hierarchy of the tower and the motivations of the characters wanting to climb this dangerous tower are revealed little by little. As Bam learns more and more about the tower, so does the audience. But this is also where one of the major problems with the anime begins to surface. Some of the explanations about the concepts and functionality of the tower are either cut-short or in some cases, completely omitted. This leaves a viewer who hasn’t read the webtoon and doesn’t have a clear idea about these things, confused. The webtoon explained these things in a much more comprehensible manner. Oh, and I’m not talking about the mysterious lore here. I’ve heard a few complaints about people saying answers are not provided immediately. Well, those are important mystery elements that are answered bit by bit as we move further along in the story and something that I consider one of the charms of the series. So, don’t expect every secret of the tower to be just told to you right then and there.
Even though the anime does sacrifice the dark atmosphere of the first season of the webtoon, I felt that they still did a fairly good job of creating tense situations, especially in the first half of the season. They retained the ruthless vibe of the tower during the first few tests and even though there were elements that were left open to criticism, they did a good job of it by and large, for the first half, bar the first episode of course. The first episode was a mess. The pacing was all over the place and the less I talk about the directing, the better. After the first 6 episodes, I was feeling hopeful that this would turn out to be a pretty good adaption because episodes 2-6 had been pretty good and almost every episode was turning out to be an improvement over the last. However, this all changed in the following episodes. There were some very important character interactions that were left out, some that were replaced by anime-only scenes which served no purpose but to enrage the source readers, and one of the most hyped and compelling tests in the webtoon to date, was but a mere shadow of what was expected and what it should’ve been. It was plagued with all the issues that I have with the anime all at once: bad pacing, important dialogues being cut and changes made to some of the best parts of the test that were uncalled for.
When it was first announced that the first season was only going to be 13 episodes, doubts had already begun to surface in the minds of most of the readers. The first season of the webtoon had 78 chapters and there was no other stopping point except the end of the season. So, everyone knew that there was going to be content that was going to be removed. And that would’ve been acceptable. Not many would’ve complained if they only cut some of the less relevant content and dialogues, but they didn’t only do this, they also removed some of the best and most important scenes that play a major part in the development/decisions of the characters, not only in the first season itself, but also later in the further seasons. To add to this, they put in some anime only things that enhance nothing in the anime at all. If anything, some of the anime only scenes contradict the personalities of the characters. This is purely bad directing and there’s no excuse for this. Cutting some parts in order to fit the season in the limited number of episodes? Absolutely understandable. Removing important moments while adding in some irrelevant and stupid scenes? I’m sorry, Telecom Animation, but that’s not gonna cut it.
Yeah, the anime as a whole suffers from pacing issues, but I genuinely feel that there was a much better way of handling it. Some things being sacrificed was inevitable given that they were adapting 78 full length chapters into 13 episodes, but this is where intelligent directing was required. Alas, good directing was asking for too much, I guess.
Yes, Bam is a blank-slate MC and he doesn’t really have a personality. I won’t even argue if you say that he’s bland to begin with. But then again, what do you expect from someone who’s only known a single person his entire life and has been living in a cave which has nothing. His personality is shaped with the experiences he has in the tower, and it changes over time into something that turns out to be relatable. Yes, his naivety is annoying at times, but it’s very understandable why he acts the way he does. He’s just a genuinely nice guy who doesn’t know any of the evil in the world. He doesn’t even understand his own actions. He’s seen as the odd one because of how kind-hearted he is, and is the source of self-reflection for some of the people around him. That innocence is what leads to him being so pivotal in shaping the characters and influencing their decisions.
And the first person with whom that happens is Khun Aguero Agnis: the star of the first season of Tower of God. The genius from one of the most prominent families in the tower who was abandoned because of an incident in which he betrayed someone close to him, only to be betrayed by the person whom he gave up everything for. His backstory reveal in the anime is honestly one of the very few things that I thought that the anime actually enhanced from the webtoon. It’s what’s eats up at him and what influences a lot of his early season decisions. He’s the most interesting character in the season. His intellectual brilliance paired with unshakeable confidence (apart from a couple moments) and the change in his mental state from lacking trust in others to having faith in certain individuals around him, make him a delight to watch.
“What? Is it his mating season? Bring him here! I’ll pull out his banana!”
Who else could say this but Rak Wrathraiser or Alligator/Crocodile as Khun likes to call him. A ruthless, proud hunter who picks Bam as his ultimate prey. But on the inside, he’s a big softie and is likely the second most “innocent” character in the season next to Bam. His eyes see everyone as a turtle and his love for chocobars has no end. He’s one of the primary sources of humour in the first season and while they changed some of his gags in the anime, it still didn’t stop him from being hilariously entertaining. I will say though, some of his most humorous moments were cut short or changed. Unfortunately, that quote I’ve mentioned above is from the webtoon and was removed from the anime.
Shibisu, the other comedian, Hatz the chivalric swordsman, stupidly powerful lizard girl Anak, the cold-hearted yet beautiful Endorsi, round off the rest of the main cast. They all have goals that they wish to achieve by climbing the top of the tower and some of them are prepared to do so no matter what kind of cruel or underhanded tactics they might need to use. All of them had their characters explored through the season. To an extent, at least. But for Endorsi, some of the defining scenes that fleshed out her character even more in the webtoon, were once again, cut. I will never understand why because they play such a major part in season 2. Another thing that I disliked later in the season was some friendship crap that was pulled. The webtoon is mostly devoid of the power of friendship shit. Though it can be a good addition at times in anime, the use of it towards the fag end of the show was not just pointless, it actually contrasted the personalities of those characters, in the anime season as well as what we have in the source. It was pulled out of nowhere and I imagine it was done to appeal to the younger audience more. And they couldn’t have handled it any worse if they’d tried.
I hated the changes in character interactions that they made and that’s one thing that happened mostly throughout the season. I was more forgiving and willing to overlook these in the beginning, but as the season went on, the changes became more and more apparent, and a lot of them were absolutely cringeworthy.
The artstyle at the beginning of the season had mixed reception, with some people loving the different feel as compared to other anime while some just couldn’t get used to the change. I, for one, liked that they stuck with the original artstyle of the webtoon. It could have been more polished at times but it wasn’t too bad. The animation doesn’t leave much to speak of. It was solid without being spectacular. If I was to put in on a level, it would be on a higher level than most anime that come out every season yet wasn’t at the level of things that I’d call had great animation.
One thing that stood out all through the season regardless of how the other things were handled, was the OST. Kevin Penkin just keeps enhancing his reputation. Whether it be during the intense fight sequences or the emotional moments, the soundtrack simply kept delivering without fail. If I was to be critical though, it would be about the use of the OST. Sometimes, the tracks used didn’t fit the scenes, but that’s more to do with the sound directing. And the overall directing of the anime was subpar. As for the OP and ED, both of them are fabulous to listen to. Helps that one of the best K-pop bands, Stray Kids, provided them. At first, I wasn’t a big fan of the ED “Slump” but it kept growing on me until I began to dig it.
I’ve tried to be as unbiased as possible while writing this review. Because if I compare the anime to the first season of the webtoon, I can’t help but wince at how badly they’ve adapted it. Make no mistake, as an adaption, Tower of God is a failure. The oversimplification of some of the concepts and character interactions as well as motivations makes it a watered-down version of the source. While the changes they made might not always look like a problem when looked at individually, the amalgamation of all of them deviate from what made Tower of God great in the first place. Minute details like the addition of single line or scene which contradict what a character is about can make a huge difference to the overall experience.
That’s the reason that I said that the anime as a standalone isn’t bad for someone who hasn’t read the source and isn’t aware of what the changes mean. In fact, I’d say the anime would be a pretty good watch. Most of the people that watched it for the first time are of the opinion that it’s a good anime. But that says more about the quality of the source than the adaption itself. That even an adaption as weak as this one can be called good should be a compliment to the webtoon.
Anyways, I hope that the staff take note of the criticisms people have had of the anime and improve in the second season. Because if they adapt it well, it’s gonna be a banger! I will say though that if they continue to do it in the same way as they did with season 1, I don’t have much hope left as a source reader.
Tower of god, heavily promoted and even more praised for the only fact that it is a webtoon. I went in with high hopes but its not just disappointment that brought me to a score of 4. The only redeeming point is that the opening and ending is kinda catchy.
••••• ART •••••
This looks like more paper drawn art style, close to the webtoon. I think this was a bad choice because the animation looks lazy by the lack of movement, action and detail. The art felt underwhelming and rather boring. It didn’t make the characters pop out or made the Shinshu (their magic?) enchanted. I would say it is easy to look at because the calm colors and easy going detailing.
The lighting of this is subjected to this low detailing. It either feels to bright or to dark. Characters don’t have much shadows, the shadows feel muddy or it is simply to bright. At one of the tests the whole thing in general was to dark to see clearly. To actually make an almost black scene and giving the impression of being dark are different things. In terms of lighting it fails to make the surrounding more appealing and thus lacks depth.
••••• SOUND •••••
Well this was terribly hyped up by the fact that Kevin Penkin composed it. The soundtrack is indeed fitting and feels warm. The soundtracks are well coordinated and fits the timing of actions. It creates an relaxed/calmed sphere where all the characters act al happy and friendly. And that is exactly the downside to it. The tower, presented as a heavy task to climb, didn’t make me tense or hype me up for anything. It really misses a theme song or upbeat mix to make you sit closer to the screen.
••••• STORY •••••
I would say that the story is one of the two main factors why this anime was such a dumpster fire. The pacing is so off, even as a non-manhwa reader I feel that it is wrong. The beginning starts without any explanation of the situation or world. While this may seem as “explore the world with MC-kun” it left an awful after taste in my mouth, because we didn’t explore anything at all. Bam (mc) just pop in a new environment and is told to “climb” in order to find his lost girl Rachel. He doesn’t question it, prepare for it or anything an OP isekai mc would do. But Tower of God is not comparable to isekai so I’ll leave that out. In the end after 13 episodes I’m still puzzled by most of the things that happened so quickly in episode 1-3 without explanation.
Then again, going in totally blind, I don’t know the amount of test and how the test will be more difficult each time. So some test pass by, mostly battle royal with (forced) teamwork. Most people who take the test are called regulars. Someone who isn’t born from the tower is called an irregular. So it is understandable that Bam doesn’t know anything at all, but it seems so weird to see that the regulars aren’t that knowledgeable of their world. Test may differ, but if you know that you have to get violent, learn to estimate people’s power and get some killer moves. Sadly enough the real combat prowess was left at exactly 5 people for comic relief. Waisted potential and not world immerging.
As far as world building goes, it is almost non-existent. The commentary alone is not enough, the mc doesn’t discover things on his own and there is basically no explanation how anything works at all. The feeling of world discovery is killed off by some humor and that makes the world feel underwhelming. The anime show several times the image of a tower, practically reaching heaven, as an image of the tower but how the areas are set up simply doesn’t add up. The commentary and sloppy flashbacks don’t add anything either. At the end of the whole 13 episodes you’ve to accept that “oh there is a world and they happen to be in a (test) space”.
The introduction of “whatever you desire is at the top of the tower” makes me think that the test should be hard and the participants even harder. Oh boy, never did it let me down deeper after I had my hopes high.
Oh and there are some powerful weapons. No explanation what so ever. They simply exist. Good to know. Except that the “regulars” are a bit ignorant of this.
The fights feel rather boring to watch. The outcome is 110% predictable. I guess I don’t have to say who continuously pass the tests after you’ve seen 4 episodes. I expected a lot from the second test. It was supposed to be a bloody battle royal. Alas we get to see boring anti-climatic encounters. This scene feels underwhelming because the defeated are only announced, thus missing 99% of the real action. ToG is consistent, because the rest of the fights feel exactly the same. Underwhelming, disappointing and tensionless. It feels disappointing because the other regulars are so unbelievable weak. The fall pit of ToG is that it wanted to show how strong the main characters are by making the rest unrealistic weak. This does not only feel bland, but takes away all risk and tension. You don’t start to question IF Bam would succeed his test, but with what ass-pull. The tags action and adventure are heavily abused.
There are multiple hints of a vast amount of lore for ToG. It acts like the backbone for most explanations and surprises. This includes the rankers, the princesses of Jahad and shinshu. And again, all explained to little about. These topics leaves to much questions open. While these concepts should be very familiar with the “regulars”, surprisingly it isn’t. Shinshu is said to be a building block of the tower, yet it remains unused and to mysterious. It would have done a great service if at least the commentary about it gave a bit of information about it.
In the end it feels like Bam is wearing full heavy armor suit. Plot armor. Anything and everything he does, he pulls off somehow. While it is the intention that Bam would successfully climb the tower, it doesn’t feel believable or realistic in anyway. You get all the events shoved up your throat and you have to swallow it all, believing it is the “natural” route.
The subtle hints towards his great hidden power to his comrades till death are simply not satisfying to watch. There is no hardship to overcome. It feels like nothing is at stake. The connections between the characters feel as flimsy as the line “I want to see them all smile”. To contribute to this, all characters are very willingly to go with this madness.
In short, Tower of God fails miserably to present an appealing, dangerous and adventurers world. The concept of the tower feels like a lame excuse to keep the characters going. ToG doesn’t give me the slightest feeling of world immersion.
••••• CHARACTES •••••
The second main factor why this animated webtoon flopped hard. The cast was so weirdly put together. I can see the good intention of adding bold, goofy, sleepy, silent, loud and tsundere characters, but that is exactly the problem here. All the main characters can be summed up in few words. The wacky flashbacks don’t really add to character bonding for the viewer. It simply shows something sad and then blatantly moves on. There is no edgy to the seemingly mysterious characters nor is there a really funny moment with the clowns. The way characters react to each other is often being surprised or angry (in a comedic way). I would ask myself, are there no normal reactions?
Another weak point is the incredible bad character development. All characters feels simply not serious or really interesting. Khun may be a bit interesting, but that is mainly because almost anything relevant is left out.
BAM – pronounce it as yohru. he is the most boring mc I’ve seen. No grit, no courage (stupidity doesn’t count) and no likeable or relatable character traits. Seeing Bam on the level of a caveman is pretty sad. He has no way to actually fight. He has no strength nor the knowledge of wielding a weapon. That’s why it feels like extra thick plot armor to have the best shinshu output.
In short, he is the quiet ever-smiling and optimist mc who magically knows how to bind everyone together. Bam also feels very passive and way to relaxed about climbing.
RACHEL – pronounce it as raah-hel. If I have one fully loaded gun and I sat in a room with Myne of Shield Hero and Rachel, I would shoot the whole clip in Rachel. For some reason Bam yearns for Rachel. I don’t understand why, again because his relationship with Rachel is so weakly explained.
Whenever Rachel showed up, it was in one way or another plan annoying. Just seeing her being passive aggressive against Bam is irritating. Her selfish excuses don’t really back this up or rather is so badly presented, it doesn’t feel like a legit reason.
RAK – so he is supposed to be a hunter. I don’t see him as anything else than a clown. He doesn’t make jokes, his character is a joke. We see him exactly 2 times in action, other than that I think he is only there to be there. He adds a bit of balance in the party without being a character himself.
KHUN – a more mysterious character. Set up as a mastermind and schemer, he acts like the smart guy of the group. He might be an interesting character. He has a sad back story and now he is back on his feet for I think revenge. He looks like a half decent character.
LERO-RO – the only likeable character in the anime. Unlike any other character we get to see some of his thoughts and opinions. He is seemingly the only one who question things which aren’t clear and tries to do his job. Its sad that we don’t get to see more of his character or his character traits.
••••• AFTER WORD •••••
This feels like the worst anime of 2020. I went in with high hopes of spectacular battles, teeth gritting scenes or get some chills. Tower of God lacks in interesting character bonding and world building. I think the amount of praise and love for this is to much for something of this “quality”. I won’t recommend this to anyone. You’re better of picking up anything else like Children of the Whales or Dorohedoro which does everything better.
4: Somali to Mori no Kamisama
English: Somali and the Forest Spirit
MAL Score: 7.82
In a world inhabited by demons, cyclopes, and other fantastic creatures, humans stand apart as the outcasts. Quick to anger, the human race engaged in a war that all but wiped them out. The few humans that remain are seen as a delicacy, serving no purpose but to be hunted down and eaten.
One day, Golem, a wandering protector of nature, encounters a lone human child while patrolling. Inspired by her enthusiasm, he takes the girl, named Somali, under his wing. Together, the duo embarks on a journey to find Somali’s parents and bring her home.
A depressed story? You’d be crying twice.
Interesting characters? Without any doubt.
A good father figure? Better than mine (kidding).
Thoughtful moments? It’s deeper than you think.
This anime is everything you could wish for. From the character gimmicks to the grandiose story. You wouldn’t immediately think about any of this at first as it has a slow start but when it starts for real it goes at 360 in 6 seconds and you can not go back. Oh no you can’t, and that’s a good thing. Why go back when you can experience such a thing in the first place? Its something that happens twice in 400 years and the time has finally come for this masterpiece to be seen.
Yes, “Somali to Mori no Kamisama” is a masterpiece of an anime and not simply one of them, it’s THE masterpiece I was looking for. An anime it could make me laugh, think, cry and more importantly care about characters, each of them and all in a span of 12 episodes. “Somali” is extraordinarily in every field but the best thing about this are clearly the two main characters, Somali and Golem that share a great daughter-father relationship. They’re not releated by blood but that’s the great thing since it shows that it is not necessary to be related by blood to show the effect to someone. They are so fantastic together and what makes it better is the fact that Golem has no emotions, so you at no point of its runtime you’ll hearing him scream because Somali did something she shouldn’t have. He comprehend many emotions, but since it cannot manifest them, it is difficult to fully understand them. Which is completely natural and makes the relationship between the two even realistic.
The story is incredibly beautiful. While sometimes predictable, It got me invested that I never thought it would have. This has mainly to do with the characters that make it interesting. Throughout the journey (yes, this is not an anime, its a journey and I’ll be observing until it ends) we meet a lot of charaters that in the surface may seem not that great but if you go deep into them you’d find so much regarding them that i’m sure you’d be pleased. They, when doing something have always a reason. Now, the reason may be “good” or “bad” in the way you view it. I viewed as good and will always be because I can feel them and their hatred or love for anything seems reasonable. I really can, which it makes me love the anime even more. It proceeds with the right narrative rhythm, without slowing down too much, taking the time necessary to create characters with a certain thickness and it does quite well.
As for animation, I think it’s fantastic, even in action scenes. It is not a series that you would see too many fights, but for what we got the animation was really competent. It’s not the best, I admit it but then again this is not an action anime when fights have the priority so therefore it doesn’t matter. As for the the sound deparment, it’s great too. I expected The opening and ending be more catchy but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Not saying they’re bad, it’s just I wasn’t too much interested in them as much I wanted to be. They’re good on their own way, though. OSTs instead are literary masterpiece. Especially the ones that are used for sad moments.
“Somali to Mori no Kamisama” is both underrated and underwatched. It’s not getting the attention as much I’d like to. If you’re reading this review and you’re in search of an anime that has a genuine good story, awesomely characters and more importantly, daughter-father interaction – this is the one you’ve been looking for. There may be stuff that potentially could turn you off but overrall I think it deserves a try.
Golem is such a good father.
From the start, the anime tells you that you are about to embark on a journey and to get ready for the different ideas you will find.
I think the 2 biggest reasons that affect how much I rate an anime are how much I enjoy the anime and how great the characters are. Of course an anime about going into the unknown and exploring what the world has to offer is more than enough for me to enjoy the anime but I’m glad to say that it wasn’t the only reason I watched it.
The characters in Somali and the forest spirit are great. We have the main cast: Somali and the Golem.
Somali is one of the best representation of a child in anime. You have the innocent girl that has the sense of exploring that all children have, the adorable cute nature of hers is so entertaining to watch and how pure and kind she is becomes more apparent once you watch more of the anime. You become invested in her character and that is (imo) one of the best compliments you can give to a creator.
The Golem on the other hand is the complete opposite of her, he is a spirit made to simply observe how the forest is and he doesn’t know how to feel anything let alone display it. As you go on the journey with them, you start noticing changes in him. He stars growing more attached to Somali and little by little he starts experiencing emotions. He becomes more protective of Somali and he starts becoming more and more like an actual father figure for her. His growth throughout the series is amazing to see and how much he develops from the start to the great finale.
The side characters of the anime are great. Every episode presents a new set of characters that are unique with different ideologies that makes them interesting. Their interactions with each other and with Somali give out so much enjoyment and proves more the great effect an amazing character can have on a well-written cast.
One of the things I really liked was the representation of humans in different perspectives. You start the anime with Somali and your perspective is hers so you see humans as the cute and kind type of characters but as you go on, you start seeing how horrible they have been to every other character they meet. The fear that made them become a natural enemy to almost every species you see throughout the series. That change of perspective gives the idea that we humans are not all the same and that is presented in front of you. You see Somali, the kind human that accepts everyone, You most of the other humans that have no reason and just kill everyone and you see a child understand that not everything is how it looks and she changes from the bad to the good. This idea made me rate the anime higher than I already had.
The sound, art, animation and overall atmosphere of the anime is fantastic and an incredible job done by the voice actors made this anime shine.
Overall I would give the anime a 10/10. A fantastic journey that I hope to see more of and more like.
Would recommend it to anyone wanting to watch a great journey with greater characters.
Based off a popular web manga of the same name Somali To Mori No Kamisama otherwise better known by its English title of Somali and the forest spirit is an adventure, drama and fantasy genre anime, that gives us the unique opportunity to see what will happen if one day a human child were to one day encounter and adapt the first being that they encountered as their father. What will happen if one day this unlikely pair were forced by circumstance to embark on a continent-spanning journey that will see them journey across vast lands to make contact with the remnants of the human race and in doing so bring the child back to its race before the end claims the brave watchmen of the forest. Within the anime world, Adventure and drama genre anime that takes place in a fantasy setting can be said to be one of the more popular combinations due to both its popularity among both fans and creators and the sheer amount of freedom that a fantasy setting can give to the creation of not just races but also lore and relationship dynamics as well. In my case what served to draw me to this series was both the fantasy and adventure genre combinations which are ones that I always liked to see but also the unique element of the unique bond and relationship that exists between the two main characters of Somali and golem. The fact that both are beings of different races and ages only served to intrigue me even more. The first ep of the series I felt was an interesting one that while doing well in setting the series main setting and circumstance that led to humanity’s fall from grace also did well to showcase the unique relationship that existed between Somali and golem a fact that convinced me to watch the series to the end to see how this will end a decision that I never regretted.
Taking place within a fantasy-themed world where humans are but one of many races that inhabit the world and a world where most races seem to exist in perfect harmony with each other the overall story follows the life and journeys of a most unlikely due who met by chance within the sacred forests that Golem was tending as part of his duties. As if destiny had intervened Golem’s encounter with the human girl Somali not just awakened within him a desire to not just understand the curious manifestation of the feelings and emotions that have arisen inside him but also create a new spark inside him that will motivate him for the first time in his century-old life to not only step foot outside of the forests that had been both his home and his area of responsibility but also embark on a perilous journey across the world to find the remnants of humanity that had withdrawn from the world in response to the hatred their actions had generated in the past and deliver Somali to them. But as Somali and Golem embark on their quest and step foot into the world they soon realize that while on the surface the world outside is indeed beautiful and peaceful and one where the various races work in harmony together to live their lives free of conflict that beneath this is a dangerous undercurrent of hostility that’s directed at not just strangers but also at the remains of humanity whose past crimes and actions had not been forgotten by the races of the world. In the face of this threat, Golem must exercise not just every bit of caution that he has but also for the first time in his life seek to understand and make use off the unique advantages that’s one bond can bring in their quest to ensure that both will reach their destination before the end comes.
Somali portrayed by veteran seiyuu singer Inori Minase of 5 Toubun no Hanayome and Daimachi fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main female lead of the series. A young human child that was encountered by golem deep within his assigned forest Somali on initial appearances was shown to be a positive, cheerful and innocent person by nature that like most children her age was energetic and possessed an infinite amount of curiosity at everything that she encountered in life an aspect that I felt added significant charm to her character. As a result of being the first adult that she met after waking up, Somali was shown to view golem as her father despite the obvious differences in race something that is seen to be the defining trait within their relationship. While their initial relationship, in the beginning, was shown to be rather rocky and somewhat lacking in resemblance to actual parent-child relationships that were apparent in other societies it can be seen that despite this Somali believed wholeheartedly that she and Golem were a family as seen in not just her physical imitations of the actions that she seen other families partake in as well as in her strong belief that she and golem remain together never to separate.
At the beginning of the series, Somali due to her young age was shown to be someone that took life rather care freely and only saw each day as a new adventure that was to be used to the fullest. As a result of this mentality, Somali was shown to prioritise fun over-caution which more often than not often caused her to be put into precarious situations that required intervention from others. However, as the series went on and Somali began to see the amount of effort that Golem put in to protect her and take care of her this gradually began to change both physically and mentally. While remaining energetic and positive in attitude Somali gradually began to rein in her often infinitely desire to explore new locations and meet new people becoming much more cautious of not just her own actions but also of the many new areas and people that they meet in their journey. While knowing that her small size means that she will be unable to do many of the more difficult tasks that are necessary Somali nonetheless readily steps up to take up new tasks that arise during their journey showing a determination to not just improve herself as a person but also attempt to lessen the burden that Golem has in taking care of her.
While changing substantially in terms of attitude Somali’s view of Golem as the series progresses gradually starts to change as a result of the ever-increasing bond that is forged between the two within the series. As noted previously due to the circumstances of the first encounter between Somali and Golem Somali from the onset viewed Golem as her parent and as a result was shown to respect him immensely. However while certainly thankful of both the guidance and safety that was provided by him Somali was also seen to view their bond with some element of sadness due to both the lack of genuine family warmth within their relationship compared to what she see’s other families exhibit as well as the fact that due to his nature Golem can neither express strong emotions or eat and taste which ensured that despite her longing that the family bonds between them were only a pseudo one that was created out of necessity. This somewhat negative view on their bond however gradually began to change due to both Golem’s evolution as an individual as well as Somali’s realization that family does not necessarily mean ones borne of the same bloodline but can also mean bonds between individuals that love and care about each other strongly as well a revelation that served to be the final key that will banish the last of Somali’s doubts and fears and allow her to be more upfront with her attempts to forge a stronger bond with Golem a fact that is shown well in ep11 when she hand created a gift for him to show her love for him as a father.
In terms of overall character development, I felt that as a character Somali was one that was both well designed and developed both physically and mentally with her gradual evolution from a child that only saw each day as a new adventure to one that not only tried to alleviate some of that adventure’s burden by helping when she can but also in the process try to change others nature by leveraging the bonds between them to make them better individuals being especially so. While certainly still a child and one whose knowledge of the world is still lacking I felt that Somali’s innate positivity and determination to trust in the best of others allowed her to not just make many discoveries about life and in the process adapt her own to incorporate said lessons but also allow her to use her views to effectively deescalate any situations that she and Golem encounters along the way in a way that’s always to the best interests of the parties involved with the best example within the series being the resolution of Uzoi and Haitora’s issues that within the series was one of the darker and more serious events that they encountered. While allowing them to resolve issues peacefully and in the process also enabling her to make many new friends within the series this aspect of Somali I felt also represented well that despite the injustice present in this otherwise perfect world that there is nothing else more important in life than friendships and bonds between family and friends that will allow you to overcome any trial that you encounter along the way.
Golem portrayed by veteran voice actor Daisuke Ono of Attack on Titan and Durarara fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main male lead of the series. A member of the golem race a nigh mythical race that was given the sacred role of being the guardians of the world’s forests long ago. On initial appearances, golem was shown to be a calm, composed and intelligent person by nature that despite the unchanging nature of his role was one that seemed content with the sense of calm and responsibility that the role had given his life. As a result of this Golem, in the beginning, was seen to be wary of outsiders due to both his dictates that prohibit interaction with beings that are not of the forest as well as his own reluctance to become involved in anything that will upset the unending nature of his life as shown in his initial interactions with Somali. However while certainly reluctant to step out of the protective bubble that his role as a guardian of the forest had given him Golem despite his solitude within the forest was shown to be someone that was both surprisingly well learned of the world’s history given his knowledge of the rise and fall of humanity but also surprisingly understanding and considerate of the feelings of others as well as shown in not just the first encounters that he had with Somali but also in his decision to leave the forest that had until now served as his home and embark on a journey to reunite Somali with her people due to his desire to protect her from the dangers of this world.
As the series progresses and Golem and Somali’s relationship improves over the course of their journey Golem’s personality too gradually begins to change as a result of the experiences that both encounter and overcome in their journey. In the beginning of the series Golem as a result of his life within the forest was shown to be someone that was quiet and was someone that approached situations in life with logic that while allowing him to overcome much of the challenges that were encountered in their journey also had the unfortunate effect of creating distance between Golem and Somali due to the almost robotic-like persona that Golem made use off. A distance that while creating both a physical and psychological distance between the two also had the unfortunate effect of creating an image that was far from the idea of a family among the minds of the beings that they encountered in their journey. However, as their journey continued and Golem began to realize not just the amount of physical care but also the mental consideration that was needed to both care for and raise young living beings this aspect of Golem began to change. While still preferring to approach the situations that he encounters with logic Golem also realised that while effective in terms of decision making that this approach will not work with the raising and care of Somali whose unpredictable temperament and unique body structure rendered such logic unworkable. As a result of this Golem was forced to not only reevaluate not just his approach in handling relations with others but also in how he should interact with Somali as well and in the case of the latter opting to for the first time in his life to explore the concept of emotion by showing kindness, care and consideration towards Somali’s nature and unique needs. While certainly a rocky path and one that was not without hardships such as Golem’s inability to sense Somali’s pain that led to her to falling ill this embrace of emotions, in the long run, proved to be a valuable lesson for Golem as it allowed him to not only take better care of Somali both physically and emotionally but also in the process give him the rather unique opportunity to not only improve himself as both a golem and as a father of sorts but also give him the rare opportunity to be able to raise a child that will serve to turn back the negative image that people have of the human race as a result of that races past actions.
In terms of overall development as a character, I felt that Golem was one that was well designed and developed with his gradual evolution from a quiet being that relied solely on logic to accomplish his duties in life to one that was forced to not only rebuild himself from the ground up by embracing the very concept that he was so adamant in opposing the use off to both raise and guild the new child that he found himself in charge of being especially well done. While lacking any concept as well as a means to express strong emotions like joy and happiness I felt that even without this ability it was still heartwarming to see Golem’s reactions to Somali’s actions whether they were positive ones such as being awkward in receiving a gift from her or negative ones such as his determination to save her from danger as these proved that strong bonds between family transcend even races and is one that’s universal across every race regardless of age or time.
In terms of animation, I felt that the character designs for the series were pretty well designed and took excellent advantage of the lore of the world to create some unique races. Notable races that I found to be the more curious ones were the wooly Shurigara that Kikila belonged too, the harpy’s that Uzoi belonged too and the witches of the forest that Hazel and her sister Praline belonged too. While each of these races with the exception of Kikila was standard fantasy races I felt that in each case the individual representatives of each race served well to exemplify them and show that even in this world there are many individuals that will treat others not with caution but with kindness and care. In terms of locations, I felt that the series managed to feature quite the impressive collection of locations that were visited by Somali and Golem that were both unique and beautiful which was further aided by the bright and soft colours that were used in animating them.
Music-wise the series made use of one opening and ending theme which was Arigatou Wa Kocchi no Kotoba that was performed by Naotarou Moriyama while the ending theme was performed by veteran seiyuu singer Inori Minase who also portrayed the character of Somali within the series. Both of these songs I felt were excellent ones that conveyed a very different sense of feeling with the former being a slower-paced song that gives the impression of the beginning of a brand new adventure that will allow its participants to not only explore new land but also forge lasting bonds between each other as they travel together while the latter’s equally slow-paced but yet calming tone gave the impression of the fun times that the duo’s many adventures have rewarded them and how their overcoming of the many challenges that had barred their way has enabled them to improve their bonds as father and daughter.
Voice acting-wise I felt that the series main voice cast all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters whether they were main or support ones. However, among the cast, I felt that Inori Minase, Daisuke Ono, Hiroki Nanami, Tatsuhisa Suzuki, Saori Hayami and Yuuki Ono deserve special praise as I felt that they all did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters of Somali, Golem, Shizuno, Yabashira, Uzoi and Haitora respectively.
In overall Somali and the Forest spirit, I felt was an excellent anime and was one of this seasons best ones on account of its unique take on a familiar premise, an intriguing story, excellent cast of characters both in terms of main and guest characters, excellent voice acting and its skilful blending of both hope, despair and a determination to be the spark that will change the nature of the world in which they live in.
The overall premise and story of the series was without a doubt one of the main highlights of the series due largely to the fusion of well designed and developed characters, emotional attachment, and the encountering and subsequent overcoming of the various trials that barred their way trials that were as much physical ones as they were psychological ones. While an anime that features relationships between characters of two different races encountering and bonding with another as they interact isn’t itself rare within the anime medium in the case of this series this aspect I felt was used to great success due to two different factors that served to complement each other. The first of these was the fact that the human race to which Somali belonged too had not only fallen from grace due to their past actions but had also been all but exterminated by the other races and leaving Somali as the only other human her age within the areas in which she and Golem operated in. The second factor was the unique origin and role of Golem who until the coming of Somali served his role as watchmen of the forest with due reverence living a life that was unchanging as time was and having little opportunity to interact with either events or individuals from outside his domain. The combination of both characters being both strangers to each other and relative outcasts to the world itself I felt served to complement each other remarkably well as it allowed both to not just forge an entirely new bond and relationship that while shaky at first gradually become much stronger as both characters learned from each other and in the process developed their personalities to complement and support each other in their journey. While certainly cute and heartwarming to look at I felt that this aspect of having both characters learn from each other and develop their own personalities in response to these lessons was an interesting concept that served to make their relationship that much more believable.
In terms of overall story while the underlying bonds between Somali and Golem served effectively as the underlying foundation for the series I felt that it’s pairing with the series primary world setting of a fantasy world that’s seemingly at peace and its cast of well designed and developed characters that have their unique worries and struggles proved to be the perfect recipe that allowed it to showcase not just the extent of the damage that the human race had done to not just the world but to its people as well both in terms of physical relations between the individual races as well as the deeper scars that lay in one’s heart an aspect that within the series was shown perfectly within Uzoi’s story arc. While certainly a daunting environment for both Somali and Golem to operate in I felt that this also provided an excellent source of challenges that not only served to test the bond between the two of them but also in the process allow them to also directly change the world’s perceptions of humans as a whole while simultaneously improving their own.
As an overall score, I would say that Somali and the forest spirit easily deserves a final score of 10/10 on account of its unique take on a familiar premise, excellent story that combined both excellent lore and emotional investment, well designed and developed characters, excellent voice acting and some surprisingly thought-provoking trials that Golem and Somali were forced to confront within the series.
3: Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!
English: Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
MAL Score: 8.15
Midori Asakusa sees the world a bit differently. Always having her nose in a sketchbook, Asakusa draws detailed landscapes and backgrounds of both the world around her and the one within her boundless imagination. Even the simple act of doodling on a wall evolves into an emergency repair on the outer hull of her spaceship. She is only brought back to reality by her best friend Sayaka Kanamori. The pair are stark opposites, with Asakusa’s childlike wonder contrasted by Kanamori’s calculated approach to life.
After a chance encounter where the two “save” the young model Tsubame Misuzaki from her overprotective bodyguard, a connection instantly sparks between Asakusa and Misuzaki, as both share an intense passion for art and animation. Whereas Asakusa is interested in backgrounds and settings, Misuzaki loves drawing the human form. Sensing a money-making opportunity, Kanamori suggests that they start an animation club, which they disguise as a motion picture club since the school already has an anime club. Thus begins the trio’s journey of producing animation that will awe the world.
From the brilliant mind of Masaaki Yuasa, Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na! is a love letter to animation, wildly creative in its approach, and a testament to the potential of the medium.
Eizouken: Hands off the Motion Pictures Club is about people who love anime. They love it so much. They spend the entire show making anime, talking about anime, and thinking about anime. The intricacies of storyboarding, animation, sound design, voice acting, and management get illustrated in detail. I learned a great deal about anime production by watching this.
Eizouken wanted to capture the magic of creativity and artists’ extraordinary minds, and maybe it did for a few moments. The rest is an unfulfilled promise that left me feeling robbed.
It introduces three likable comrades who are passionate about anime; Midori and Mizusaki are the two artists, and Kanamori, their business-focused manager. They have good chemistry with each other; The space-cadet artist, a teenage star and now an animator, and the strict—but kindhearted—money-hungry manager who can whip them into shape. Each of them has a distinctive character design that reflects their personality, expressive voice acting, and an endless supply of funny faces.
Throughout the series, the club struggles to earn enough funds to buy equipment and maintain their clubhouse. To alleviate this problem, they endeavor to make the best anime they can to prove they’re worth a bigger budget. The end goal is to make more anime, better anime, and prove to everyone they are worth watching. It would seem we have come full circle. Eventually, this became the show’s rhythm; the three friends worry about some drama that always appears as quickly as it disappears. Their obstacles get resolved much easier than the show makes them seem. They need to make a club, find an advisor, find a budget, the same formula every few episodes—and it never gets more exciting. The more significant conflicts culminate in a finished animated short made by the team. These parts got drawn with the best art in the series. There’s never really an arc for the club, the quality of their work gets noticeably better, but their popularity is always reliant on Mizusaki’s fame as a model.
The pacing plateaued after the third episode. It was no longer the adventurous and awe-inspiring anime I fell in love with. As the episodes passed by, I realized I was watching it to see the fantastic opening. Eventually, it lost its magic too. I realized everyone was talking about the opening, and no one was talking about the show. Over time Eizouken transitioned into a boring tutorial on how to make a good anime without being a model example itself. The background music was excellent—more specifically, three songs. But they were repeated ad nauseam every episode, promptly losing their magic.
About a third of this anime takes place in each character’s artistic imagination, and the other half is spent in the real world discussing the club’s project and maintaining their budget. The imagination sequences are drawn amateurishly with every sound effect voiced by the characters, it’s so charming. The charm starts to wear off when the third fantasy in an episode begins, and you have to witness the plain white background with chicken scratch art. There’s also the general question of how the three club comrades are dreaming the same dream simultaneously. It’s intriguing how Yuasa plays with diegesis here. A quick definition of diegesis: The visuals/audio that the characters can perceive versus or what is only perceivable to the audience (such as a narrator or background music).
When Mizusaki or Midori present their drawings to Kanamori, it’s clear they’re all imagining what’s depicted in the storyboard, so the jump cut to hand-drawn art makes sense. These sequences are sometimes awe-inspiring, and it truly feels like they’re three friends adventuring into the most creative corners of their minds. It is an excellent use of diegesis to develop the cast and thrill the audience without bending our suspension of disbelief. During the first few episodes, these sequences get used quite effectively. Unfortunately, Yuasa seems to forget the rules of diegesis, and he makes many of the fantasy sequences a confusing blend of diegetic and nondiegetic elements with no basis in reality. For example, Midori often gets lost in thought while walking down the streets with her friends, imagining the world is an exciting anime. We’ve all done it before as kids, it’s pointless to the show but entertaining nonetheless. She’ll visualize street lamps as rockets or picture a giant monster looming on the horizon, then suddenly her friends are part of it. It’s not clear whether it’s all in her head or if she is talking about it so that they dream with her. These scenes lost my attention. There is just no substance to them.
It’s a shame they wasted so many excellent components because Eizouken had the workings of a masterpiece. The real-world setting has a great aesthetic. Everything about the architecture is confusing but strangely beautiful. Buildings are a jumble of concrete in different shapes on a hill to make all of them visible. Rivers are all over the lowest level, inspiring Midori to dream of traveling the city on a boat. Every frame is colored with a washed-out palette, making every frame relaxing. If only this beautiful world were populated with something, anything, interesting. Mystery, lore, anything to make it worth exploring. As far as we see, there’s nothing cool about it other than how it looks. There were minor references to capitalism, socialism, and environmental degradation, but they were surface level, never explored in depth. I appreciated the references to Hayao Miyazaki. In that respect, I would call the anime a love letter, even though it adds nothing to the show’s actual quality. In the end, Eizouken’s emotional finale rung hollow, leaving the story incomplete. Likely, this will not receive a sequel, but if it does, I’ll be back with hopes it will utilize its characters and setting far more.
If you love anime, you should watch Eizouken. That’s not to say you will love Eizouken, but it is an essential watch for anime fans interested in the production of the medium we love. It drew me in with its child-like fascination with anime and its happy messages of aspiring to achieve your dreams, capitalizing on my nostalgia. Quickly it let my fondest memories fade away as it lost track of what made it special. Alright, that’s enough disappointment. I have said my piece. Now, Masaki Yuasa fans, I accept my fate. No, I will not resist. Take me to the guillotine.
Eizouken. This show gives the best answer to this question. Let me explain and prove why.
The main theme of the show is the anime industry itself. I’ve seen lots of anime, but I still didn’t know how it was made or produced. After watching this show, I finally understand its inner workings/structures. Making something can’t break through the difficulty easily. I realized it. Of course, I enjoyed Eizouken in terms of what it had to offer as a whole – it was entertaining and excellent.
The real value of the show lies in its three characters: Asakusa, Kanamori, and Mizusaki. They have totally different and very interesting personalities. Kanamori is especially solid. She knows the importance of money and business and isn’t just some random tall girl. While she always looks grumpy, she actually cherishes the club more than anyone else. She is what you would call a pure character. She isn’t a miser. She is a talented producer at club activities. Despite her not knowing much about anime, she is street-smart. She would definitely make a good adult.
Please don’t forget Asakusa’s attractiveness. Asakusa’s aim is to explore her own “Incredible World.” Truly full of curiosity. She has an extraordinary imagination. Monochrome animation during every episode is from her imagination. This direction is very well-made. In other words, awesome. Asakusa is a director who is thinking of the setting first. Yeah, the setting is an important element in terms of the story. Without this, opus isn’t possible. I’ll talk more about her attraction. She is very positive, cheerful, and can even be described as a clown. And cute. Once again, cute! Her behavior never bored me. Really adorable. I want her seriously.
Mizusaki is a stereotyped rich girl in a good way. She is dexterous and strong-willed. Thanks to them, the club is often saved. An indispensable existence. She has a meaningful past. You can understand why she keeps in mind anime so hard by watching this show. Mizusaki was never swayed by her family reasons. In this way, they’re making anime in different environments. Nevertheless, their souls are living in them. After all, youth isn’t so cruel. I can say this.
Did you think this is the end? Please bear with me. Visuals of this show are equally outstanding. Masaaki Yuasa knows anime should be like this. As I said before, monochrome animation is a wonderful quality. Those have unparalleled uniqueness. You will definitely be drawn into them. OP song is quite catchy and funny. We’re going to get hooked on that melody and choreography. The lyrics are also quite fitting for this show. Music is memorable. Some same music keeps playing during almost every scene. Needless to say, eargasm. World-view is expressing. Voice acting is great and a blast! Kanamori’s voice is one of my favorites. Too deep and an unforgettable voice tone. Genius. Asakura and Mizusaki’s voices are also splendid. This show is the first time to their perform. Despite Asakusa’s person is actually an actor, she did very well. Mizusaki, too.
My words are not enough to let you know how much I love this show. Nothing short of very nice. If you wanna know more definitions of anime and characters, I recommend this show. Interesting content. Worth watching.
Masaaki Yuasa is no stranger when it comes animating and storyboarding in his past projects. With decades of experience, he’s been progressively adapting and evolving his techniques in the field of animation. From unique sports show Ping Pong: The Animation to the wildly space odyssey of Space Dandy, he’s here to show the world once again that animation has an unlimited realm of imagination. Starting off, we meet Midori Asakusa, a girl who is fascinated by how animation is made. It doesn’t take long for her to form a trio with Sayaka Kanamori and Tsubame Mizusaki, two high school students with similar interests. As a club together, they are united under the passion of making anime, a dream they hope to share with others.
Despite the realistic idea of making anime, this show follows more of an artistic adventures together as the Eizouken Club. But know this, we are also introduced about the fundamentals of the anime industry. It’s something similar compared to P.A. Works’ Shirobako. However, Eizouken has enough confidence to be its own show. With our trio of and the right hands, they embark this journey to not just make anime but also learn about what it really takes to be an animator. It’s like following a boyhood dream together and see how far their journey takes them. Interestingly, the show’s setting offers a technological advanced setting, one that is believable but also not too farfetched to be unrealistic. What this means is the series can open many opportunities for the trio to experiment with whatever ideas they come up with. But for starters, we have to understand what making anime is not easy. It is a tedious job that takes expertise in the field, dedicated minds to create something unique, and knowing when mistakes are made. They’re humans after all and learning from mistakes is important so they can rise above them. The group makes mistakes early by setting expectations far beyond their standards. This creates tension in the club to the point where one of its members feels they may not be good enough. Plus, let’s not forget that making animation demands meeting timely deadlines so there’s no doubt the club runs into crunch time issues. Luckily, the club has support between themselves and this is thanks to Kanamori’s ability to compromise and create an environment where they can express ideas freely. And that’s the beauty of this show. It chooses to be free by using ideas of various genres and expressing them. Then, these ideas are created to become an anime project to showcase the world to see.
But like most animation projects, the group faces challenges that they must overcome together. These include budget funding and securing the resources they need to make their dreams come true. And sometimes, the trio realizes their club needs more help than they realize. For instance, making an animated work isn’t enough if they can’t promote themselves. Marketing is a new field that the group wasn’t equipped to handle given their lack of experience. Luckily, they receive help from the school’s secretary. Later in the show, Eiozuken is also joined by Parker Doumeki, a girl interested in their audio files but takes a role to help their sound department. Together, this club grows more and more as we witness their transformation from a dream to a reality.
Another important part of what makes this show special also refined to the close relationship between our three main leads. They start off as friends but by the end of this show, the trio looks more like a family. At the same time, each individual member has their own skills that are imperative for the club to succeed. This includes Kanamori’s business knowledge and negotiating, Asakusa’s talent for drawing, and Mizusaki’s skill of planning and observing. When you put these skills together, there’s immense potential to succeed with the right hands and tools. However, it’s also not to say to say that the trio does want to get some fame and fortune. A running gag in the show involves Kanamori’s love for money and hopes to make maximum profit. Other running gags in the show deals with how the trio runs into trouble with the law. If we talk about realism, this show sometimes negates that element as the problems the club runs into could’ve easily resulted in its destruction. But let’s get too far ahead of ourselves. This anime is designed to showcase the love of a club to fulfill their dreams rather than just showing the consequences of the anime industry. I’m sure the more fans watch this show, the more they’ll come to that realization.
Like some of Yuasa’s other works, he likes to experiment and adapt this free style of animation. In this particular anime, we get simple character designs and animation that can be deceptively complex. This is easily told through the storytelling and brainstormed ideas from our main leads. In some segments, the animation tosses common logic out the window and transcends into daydreams. The audience will notice this by the stylish art shifts and occasional picture frames that seems out of reality. It’s one of the positive perks about this show as it allows art to be experimented beyond its usual structure. So bravo once again to Yuasa for gracing us with his brilliant designs. Speaking of designs, the main character cast are distinctive such as Midori’s short height, Mizusaki’s fiery hair, or Kanamori’s buck teeth. It’s also noticeable the producers gave each of them the school type look to show that they are in a stage of growing up. Being at school means to learn and together as a club, Eizouken is eager to show their potential. Finally, I really want to give props to the unique animation of the OP song. It’s something you don’t see often inspired by pop culture but translated into anime medium.
I’m going to miss the weekends. I really am knowing that this show is over after gracing us with its fabulousness. When watching anime, you don’t often think too much about how it came together but every episode in this show convinced me a different story. And with 12 episodes, this is a type of anime that is inspirational as I’m sure there’s a little bit of Midori Asakusa inside all of us.
2: Great Pretender
MAL Score: 8.30
A series of unfortunate events has led Makoto “Edamame” Edamura to adopt the life of crime—pickpocketing and scamming others for a living. However, after swindling a seemingly clueless tourist, Makoto discovers that he was the one tricked and, to make matters worse, the police are now after him.
While making his escape, he runs into the tourist once again, who turns out to be a fellow con man named Laurent Thierry, and ends up following him to Los Angeles. In an attempt to defend his self-proclaimed title of “Japan’s Greatest Swindler,” Makoto challenges his rival to determine the better scammer. Accepting the competition, Laurent drops them off outside a huge mansion and claims that their target will be the biggest mafia boss on the West Coast.
Jumping from city to city, Great Pretender follows the endeavors of Makoto alongside the cunning Laurent and his colorful associates in the world of international high-stakes fraud. Soon, Makoto realizes that he got more than what he bargained for as his self-declared skills are continually put to the test.
How much of what I’m about to tell you which you find completely obvious is entirely dependent on how blind, deaf, and senseless you happen to be, because if you ask even such a staunch critic as myself, this is the hardest masterwork to overlook and the single most broadly appealing triumph of entertainment I can name. From the drop dead gorgeous artwork and animation to the surprisingly thoughtful, endlessly amusing storyline, and from the delightful cast of lifelike characters overflowing with charisma to the fantastic music which itself is just as charming and built with just as much personality as any one of the characters, every facet of the show is delivered with expert craftsmanship awarding its audaciously dedicated production values. Given just how expressive, experimental, and downright weird the roots of anime are, most of the standouts which you can find therein are just as esoteric, and Great Pretender stands to be an exception the likes of little before. Inspired by Western crime dramedies which it swiftly outclassed in a single debut episode of exceptionally clever episodic structuring and excellent visual direction, Great Pretender follows amateur swindler, Makoto Edamura, as he gets swept away by the real deal, a gang of con men with whom he exploits others and entertains himself all whilst reaping the seeds of trickery they’ve all sown together…which is what I meant by “broadly appealing.” Yes, I conveniently left out the show’s thought provoking themes, all its discussions and ideals on social injustice justifying an individual’s turn to crime, but my basic summary of the plot is no lie, and it is such a cliche setup as to be almost embarrassing, so the fact I can even get close to calling it the masterpiece which I nearly have already speaks to the brilliance of all involved in its peerless creation. Great Pretender is solid proof a simple concept can write its way to a classic. It’s exploding with life, love, and lavishness in every way it can, and anyone unable to appreciate the monumental effort and unrivaled talent necessary to deliver on such a beauty or empathize with the unflinchingly human psychological core behind all its scheming and hilarity is simply beyond my comprehension, or somehow just contrarian enough to deny it all.
If I had to oversimplify it, what makes Great Pretender so good in a single phrase is the tact with which each episode is handled and the way in which they are uniquely cared for by whichever member of the directorial staff headed its careful creation. Despite being an arc structured show which does not hesitate to grab you with low-stakes, hardly annoying cliffhangers, the true method to the narrative’s madness is every single episode feeling like an open and shut case nailing the finish and leaving you as gratified as you are dying for more, whether you be left hanging on the cathartic conclusion to a resonant character development, the satisfying resolution to an episodic or overarching plot point, or simply on the butt of an actual joke, landing yet another delightful punch line driving home the show’s damn funny comedic identity just a little more. Unlike most anime and, quite frankly, most entertainment in general, Great Pretender is self-aware regarding all its metatextual eccentricities and in-universe contrivances, so no matter how hysterically outrageous nor matter how artistically bold the story goes about presenting itself, it will always be tongue in cheek enough to come across as jest as opposed to being an irksome logical conundrum, and while not every episode is as perfectly balanced as the last, the show as a whole certainly is. Most anime which aren’t made for TV find themselves with the privilege to be as uncensored as they’d like, and by extension, they often end up leaning too hard on their freedom to finally incorporate vulgarity and nudity to their heart’s content, but Great Pretender stands as a complete and total exception. Accompanying its boisterous comedy and sensational personality is an incessant sense of realism offered by—yes, those brands of obscenity—but also by its deftly paced character time and nuanced characterization sewn throughout the hijinks. Comparable only to the best of Shinichiro Watanabe’s works from Cowboy Bebop to Space☆Dandy, Great Pretender has mastered the art of endearing and repulsing the audience with its duplicitous adult cast, the push and pull which invests viewers in the among the most human yet still the most entertaining on-screen individuals one can find in the most natural way one can find them.
What makes building a character such a delicate science is you want to make them worthy of the screen by having their actions be somewhat absurd enough to be entertaining, but you also want to keep their passions down-to-earth enough to be emotionally engaging as relatable human beings, and this is where Shinichiro Watanabe truly excels. No one just throws on episode one of Samurai Champloo immediately invested in characters as ostensibly ridiculous as Mugen, Jin, or even the comparatively normal Fū, but given how well-written and smartly characterized these misfits are over the course of the show—the show which itself makes a point to show them at their lowest, most vulnerable points in life and at their happiest, most unapologetically free spirited—even the most jaded among viewers will finish the journey completely immersed in their stories, assuming, of course, they weren’t cynical enough to drop the show before then. Great Pretender is not only a master of the exact same craft, but one which has just as handily mastered the accompanying craft of outstanding voice acting. Complementing the prepossessingly sharp character designs of industry legend, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, every character is deftly brought to life by a cast of talented actors and actresses who’s voices embody their respective characters to a tee. As Makoto and his compatriots march along the vibrant parade which the animation staff has made their lives, skeletons start falling out of closets just as you’d expect them to from the secret histories of real people, and the characters subtly progress in intimacy as they overcome problems of life and love alike. Be it Laurent, the mastermind fueling every fire under everyone’s asses; Abby, the blunt, stoic braun serving as the honest counterbalance to Laurent’s conniving brains; or Cynthia, the absolutely badass, electric heroine who you’ll be wanting as a best friend for life or desiring as a wife by the end of the show depending on your sexual preferences; every single one of the colorful personalities on screen has just as much to learn and love behind their beautiful faces as does the cover of the show itself. And speaking of having a colorful personality, Great Pretender is one hell of a feast for the eyes!
Great Pretender, visually, is straight fucking unbelievable. While you may get this impression immediately, credit to Takeda Yūsuke’s ever legendary background art, all facets of this anime prove themselves to be crafted to the perfection of a Production IG classic back from the days of the Kamiyama Team who shared the same art director. Be it the explosive yet expertly balanced coloration and its astoundingly consistent shading, the flawless character artwork and the intricately detailed linework required by those razor sharp designs, or the flowingly lavish animation elegantly weaving it all together, every frame of Great Pretender is laudable to some degree even at its very lowest points and worthy of a standing ovation at its mountainous heights. Everything is overflowing with personality and branded with an unforgettable artistic identity such that I can promise with complete confidence you’ve never seen anything quite like it at such a high production value, and I promise just as easily you’ll never see anything like it again outside the purview of Production IG. This is the first project handled by WIT Studio with the exception of their debut series with Mitsuhisa Ishikawa’s full involvement, and his intimacy with this endeavor is no secret given the amount of IG names inscribed on this gem. With Takeda Yūsuke having already been mentioned, Kyouji Asano, the now legendary graduate of Team Oshii and Animation Director for Psycho-Pass and the first two seasons of Attack on Titan, has made his return along with too many animators to count, and Ishikawa also seems to’ve organized the recruitment of the best of the best not already under the illustrious IG umbrella. From the criminally obscure genius color designer behind works such as Space☆Dandy and Redline, Yūko Kobari, to the industry veteran sound director who worked with Chiaki Konaka in bringing to life the brilliant soundscapes of Serial Experiments Lain and The Big O, Shouji Hata, Great Pretender is stacked with more talent than you could ever imagine, and somehow, every little bit of it shows. Great Pretender is the first time WIT Studio has fully lived up to both the technical perfection and unflinching consistency of their founders at Production IG, and it never ceased to take my breath away.
The introductory paragraph of this review is worded in such a way to mirror the first anime review I ever read, which I’d directly quote if not for having unfortunately forgotten the address of whatever blog I saw it on. I only remember the impression its wordage left on me. Sentimental, I know. It was a review for an anime equally ambitious and equally outstanding as Great Pretender which shocked as many critics as fans it elated. It was a work also made at the dawn of a new decade, relatively speaking, and much like this decade, it was a time in which anime as a whole was on a downturn. Studio Madhouse had just thrown out Masao Maruyama in the face of their ambition fueled bankruptcy, and now, a decade later, their only remaining holdout of talent is Director Natsume, who’s work is the only excuse optimists have left to not call the studio dead. Gainax had been exposed for their toxic business environment which drove away Hideaki Anno only to then lose its remaining creative leads, who now, nine years later, are thriving in their own limelight at studio Trigger whilst proudly carrying the creative torch of the Gainax of old before it all went sour. More positively speaking, Kyoto Animation was redefining the word “polished” and winning award after award for their work on genres most powerhouse studios would scoff at, yet now, nine years later, a fifth of their staff was horrifically massacred in an inhuman arson which has gone down in history as the second most deadly mass killing on Japanese soil since the end of the Second World War. So much has changed since that review was posted, so much, except the studio which pioneered the anime it was reviewing. That’s right, the studio was Production IG, and the anime was Psycho-Pass. The reviewer offered his thanks to the pantheon of artistic prowess and creative genius which had, in such an incredible fashion and with such an epic production, restored their hope in an industry they saw as stagnating, and now it’s my turn to do the same. The son has grown into the shoes of the father, as WIT Studio has finally, unequivocally matched their founders at Production IG, and with their achievement, my own hope in the anime industry has been restored just as those of the cynics before me.
Thank you for reading.
Nothing in this godforsaken anime makes sense. Every ‘plan’ is meant to show that our main cast is good at this, but everyone besides them are plain stupid so of course they’re gonna succeed without breaking a sweat, or are they? Well, we’re meant to believe that they’re trying really hard but the ‘challenges’ are never found. All of the outcomes are painfully predictable and you can see who is who and/or what she or he is up to based on their personalities alone. The supposedly villains are just there, often times without any reason and in the end they lose, as you would guess. What you don’t know is that all of this feels underserved. You don’t cheer for the main cast nor get to either love or hate the villains. You only feel empty. Like an emotionless humanoid who wanders in search of happiness. That empty.
Furthermore, some of the characters are so smart that often times distort reality. “Predicting the prediction one character has predicted once his prediction was predicted” is the whole anime in a nutshell. When these guys start doing something you know they’ll win, as aforementioned, undeservedly. Nothing can go wrong with them around and I don’t like how their “everyday life” is portrayed. You see them walk all over and yet, after everything they’ve done, they still live. How’s that possible? Because it isn’t. The ‘Great Pretender’ world is modern and considering the whole thing is full of cameras (and more) I don’t see any reason why the gang hasn’t been killed yet or at the very least put in prison. Is this anime really expecting me to believe that despite all of that they keep outsmarting everyone? Because if that’s intended to I don’t buy it for a second. It’s humanly impossible.
“Great Pretender” has a bad cast, a poorly written story with a immeasurable predictable results and even its ending song (which is best thing this anime has to offer) couldn’t save it. If you want to hear my advice, stay away from this. Just my two cents.
To sum it up, I loved this show until the last arc. I genuinely thought that it would go down as one of my favorites of all time. The art is fantastic–every scene looks like it could be a convincing computer wallpaper, the animation is super fluid, the music and sound design is exceptional. And, until that last arc, the character development and plot seemed just as good. I felt attached to the main cast, invested in their backstories and growth as they worked together in elaborate con jobs. The dialogue and pacing was great as well–it struck a delicate balance between funny moments and handling serious topics very well. There seemed to be strong foundations for a fantastic ending to this show.
That’s what I thought, at least, until I actually watched that last arc.
I don’t think there’s really a way to address the problems I have with Great Pretender unless I spoil some things, simply because I truly thought it was amazing up until that last arc. So, if you still are interested in watching it and don’t want to read on, a spoiler-free analysis of the show would be that it almost felt like the first 3 arcs and the last arc were from 2 completely different shows. In the last arc characters acted in complete opposite ways as they were built up, plotlines weren’t fully developed and, at times, did not seem to make coherent sense, pacing was extremely rushed, and all of the accomplishments and character growth established in the plot of the first 3 arcs seemed to be erased–especially in the last episode.
So, I would recommend to just watch the first 14 episodes, because they’re really fantastic. If you do feel some compulsion to continue watching after that (and, if you really like the show, you probably will, since episode 14 doesn’t really offer a satisfying conclusion), I would say go ahead, but just keep in mind that you’re setting yourself up for disappointment and confusion.
SPOILER REVIEW BEGINS HERE:
I’m going to review the easily most consistently good parts of the show first–briefly, since I don’t really think there’s much to say other than that they’re really good.
EASY 10. As I said before, every shot looks like it could be screencapped and used as a photo or computer wallpaper. Animation is very clean, character designs are polished, and the color pallete is bright and creative. I am in love with the art style and direction, as both were inventive and made the anime really stand out.
I think all of it was great in terms of music–there was a variety of different music styles and variations of the theme that I loved to here recur throughout the show. The ED is fantastic because of course, it’s Freddie Mercury, and the OP is really fun and poppy big band, which fits the show perfectly. The only thing I took issue with was the fact that there were often many different languages being spoken in a scene, and it wasn’t clear what language people were speaking at times. This was mostly due to the fact that Japanese was established as being the substitute for English in the first episode to make it easier for VAs to actually voice act instead of speaking a foreign language. That distinction began to get muddled when scenarios started happening in Japan, where it became unclear as to who was speaking English vs Japanese since they all audibly were speaking Japanese in the show. It even got more unclear when one of the main characters actually started speaking English audibly, but the rest of the cast continued to speak Japanese while calling it English…it sounds confusing because it is. Overall though, it didn’t really interfere with the story, except for in that last arc…but there are definitely bigger problems with that last arc than just weird translations.
And now, for the parts that I feel extremely conflicted about–STORY and CHARACTER. I’m addressing them both at the same time because I feel like it would be impossible to address one without having discussed the other.
STORY and CHARACTER…I have no idea what to rate them. N/A?
I genuinely cannot decide on a number to give the STORY and CHARACTER sections of this show. If I were just discussing the first 3 arcs, my ranking would probably fall within the 9-10 range–again, I really believe it was great. I think the only arguable detriment of that first arc would be the “predictability” of the cons. I personally don’t believe that the twists were super predictable, moreso that the predicability came from audience always knew the outcome was always going to be in favor of the main characters, or else it wouldn’t feel satisfying. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing though–many shows thrive in the fact that you always know plots will resolve in a satisfying way. The interesting thing about Great Pretender’s first 3 cases was not how the case would end, but how the con was handled, and how the plot would change one of the main characters and increase our knowledge of and empathy for them.
Speaking of characters, all were likable and relatable in the first 3 cases. We got to see the backstories and growth from 3 out of the 4 main characters–Edamura, Abbie, and Cynthia. Each of the cases focused on something from their past that drew them to becoming conmen, and how that history related to the con at hand in the current case. Personally, I liked the first case (Edamura’s case) the best just because the novelty of the main cast and certain twists in the case, such as Abbie and Laurent “dying” and Cynthia being a conwoman the whole time, were well-executed (however the initial shock of these “deaths” and reveals for the audience is what made them great…boy, it would be a shame to have the writers recycle these plot details again in the last arc…). Each character’s traits and personalities are also explored well through the con–Edamura is kind-hearted and honest who is always kept in the dark about details of the con (acting as a lens for the audience to view the plot through), Abbie is rebellious and, to put it simply, a badass, and Cythia is the flirty, quick-witted and quick-tempered woman of the team (she reminded me a lot of Faye from Cowboy Bebop in ways). The only main character who isn’t explored is Laurent, the smooth-talking classic conman who recruits Edamura and acts as the de-facto leader of the group. He’s still good enough of a character to be likable while also remaining mysterious through these first 3 cases, which says a good deal about the talent of the writers up until episode 15.
Basically, I think the characters and story were pretty solid for the first three cases. I could go on about certain plot details, but what drove me to write this review was my feeling about episodes 15-23 (aka the last arc/case), so let’s just get right into that.
The last case focuses on Laurent’s past, which is certainly not a bad thing–his backstory is actually pretty interesting, and I thought the way they tied Laurent’s connection to Edamura’s dad was handled pretty well. I also think episode 15-middle of episode 18 isn’t horrendous–Edamura is shown to have compassion for the kids that are being trafficked, and the narrative is showing the toll that being an undercover member of the trafficking company is having on his mental health. He begins smoking in every scene, and, when it comes down to it, forces the kids out of their imprisonment at gunpoint, this scene being harsh but necessary to expand the audience’s perspective that Edamura spending a significant amount of time with bad people is wearing down on him, even though his intentions may be good. Judging by these actions, it seems like the plot is going in a direction of focusing on freeing those kids and absolutely destroying Suzaku (the human trafficking organization)…because human trafficking is WRONG. And anyone who participates in it is NOT GOOD. THAT IS THE PRECEDENT THEY ARE SETTING UP FOR THIS ARC. And, given what we know about Edamura so far and his actions in the past arcs, he seems to have a strong moral compass and will often do the right thing even in the face of adversity, even if it’s rash or not completely thought-out. It’s what makes you root for him, and the way others adapt to these actions during a con is what makes you root for them.
However, things take a turn in the middle of episode 18 that sets the precedent for the rest of the show to plummet into confusion and inconsistency. The part I’m specifically talking about is when Edamura’s father appears to have ratted out Edamura, Abbie, and Cynthia to the Shanghai and Suzaku trading companies while they attempted to free the imprisoned trafficked children, and Edamura, Abbie, and Cynthia are all facing seemingly certain death, as they’ve been taken to a boat and are being held at gunpoint over open water. Before this point, there are some minor red flags that have happened, mainly concerning Edamura’s father. In the span of about 1 episode, the audience’s perspective of him has flipped from being on the human trafficking side, to him conning the human trafficking side, to him conning Edamura and ultimately working with the trafficking side. It is a lot of side-flipping, which makes it kind of confusing for the audience, but not inherently self-destructive in terms of guiding the show’s plot. Another thing to mention is that the leader of the Suzaku company is portrayed as a stern and vicious old woman who has a soft spot for Edamura. This last aspect has not influenced Edamura’s actions so far because, like all of the audience, he understands that she is a BAD PERSON. Because she literally buys and sells children. So there should be NO SYMPATHY for her.
What changes everything is when Edamura’s father tells Edamura to kill Abbie and Cynthia to gain the respect of the Suzaku lady. When Edamura refuses, he “kills” them himself, which is a big no-no, because there are really only 2 options that this action creates for the audience to believe. The first option is that Cynthia and Abbie really have just died, which feels anticlimactic and disappointing, and, given that there are about 5 episodes left and so much work has been invested into their characters, probably not likely. The second, more believable (and yet somehow worse for the plot) option is that Cynthia and Abbie aren’t really dead, and that Edamura’s dad is actually working with THEM, not the trading companies (so…4 side flips within a single episode, at this point). This also feels unearned and does not bode well for the rest of the story because 1. they already used the “OMG someone just died!” trick during the first case, and 2. because of the frequent side-flipping, the audience starts to lose trust in the identities that have been established for characters.
It only gets worse from here, though.
The part that seals the deal (at least narratively for me, and seemingly for the rest of the case, given how everything proceeds from this point) is that as soon as Cynthia and Abbie “die,” the narrative immediately begins to push this idea that the Suzaku lady (who SELLS CHILDREN) is kind and compassionate. She takes pity on Edamura seconds after the people who she was most likely going to kill were just “killed” by giving Edamura the freedom to decide what he wanted to do with his father, giving him a gun and expressing her sympathy. Everything can still be fixed, though. At this point, the authors could still make it believable that Edamura’s father truly is a scumbag who just killed his friends, or they could go the other route (as they did) and make it turn out that he’s part of the con, and actually on Edamura’s side. All they really had to do was just make sure they represent that Edamura is still exhibiting his traits of compassion and kindheartedness by NOT KILLING HIS DAD, despite everything his dad seems to have done. It’s a little cliche, but it would allow the writers to show that, despite everything that Edamura has gone through, he will still make the morally right decision. This is something that has been accentuated in EVERY. SINGLE. CASE.
And yet, they decide to have him just shoot his father in the chest. Which, of course, the audience is less likely to believe, because now we just got 3 sudden main character deaths, and we have the knowledge that they can fake dying.
I think this choice was to accentuate the fact that being in the human trafficking business has taken such a large toll on Edamura, but I think the cost of doing this definitely outweighs the benefits in terms of creating an interesting story. For one, Edamura genuinely believes he is killing his dad in that scene. I don’t care if that’s just a ruse and his dad is actually fine (which is exactly what happens)–the sentiment behind that action cannot be taken back. If you’re going to make such a dramatic move like that, there should be no room for lighthearted reconciliation between Edamura and his dad when everything’s said and done (which is exactly what happens).
What I also don’t get is the real motive behind Edamura’s dad’s actions. He lies to his own son on the boat, “kills” Edamura’s friends right in front of him (potentially causing trauma for his own son), and for what? Dorothy? While again I’ll say I don’t really have a problem with the Dorothy-Laurent backstory, I think it doesn’t make sense that all the characters, which have been shown to be generally pretty reasonable, would go through so much to essentially just mess with Edamura while getting some kind of revenge for Dorothy. Seriously, why even bring Edamura into it at all if you genuinely want revenge for your dead friend, and why even go through all the trouble to deceive him and incite a possibly permanently broken relationship with your child? This is addressed a little in the end of the show when Edamura is yelling at his dad with the Suzaku katana to his dad’s chest (which, by the way, ends in Edamura getting killed…but not really, because, you know, faking your death is a great plot point when you use it 5 times in a row, right?) but the ending seems to show that they were working in kahoots the entire time…so was that even a real argument? The back-and-forth shifting of what “side” Edamura’s really on and who he’s fighting against from episode 18 onward, undermines all of the character development that was established for him before and makes the narrative feel like it’s aiming to be confusing for the sake of being confusing.
What’s more frustrating is that the focus of human trafficking being bad is essentially thrown out the window after the “deaths” of Edamura’s dad, Abbie, and Cynthia in episode 18. Edamura decides to throw out his conscience and LEGIT work for the Suzaku human trafficking business (which BUYS AND SELLS CHILDREN) because the Suzaku lady seems nice, and it’s heavily implied he reminds her of her estranged son, and she reminds him of his mom…which is so messed up for so many reasons. I get that they’re trying to humanize the villain, but this humanization is addressed so sloppily after setting this precedent that human trafficking is BAD and anyone who participates in it freely is a BAD PERSON (which is absolutely correct!). This, again, completely subverts the audience’s belief that one of the sole aspects of the Edamura’s character is that he’s compassionate and kindhearted and the fact that he serves as a moral rock for the rest of the conman crew. And yet, the narrative still seems to want you to sympathize with him and the Suzaku lady. Which, not gonna lie, kind of feels like they’re asking you to sympathize with human traffickers. I think a good story is capable of making you feel sympathy for anyone (take the Sopranos–the whole show is about making you feel sympathy for a mob boss that commits crimes and ruins lives on a daily basis), but completely changing the ideals of a main character to be sympathetic towards the head of a human trafficking company within the span a of a few episodes, after CLEARLY ESTABLISHING that this company is the ABSOLUTE WORST…that ain’t it, chief. That ain’t right.
Another thing to mention is that, when they introduced the Dorothy-Laurent plotline, they essentially shifted audience’s perspective of the goal of the conmen from being noble (destroying a terrible company that BUYS AND SELLS CHILDREN) to being vengeful (getting revenge for Dorothy). That second goal wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t completely overshadow the first, seeming to prioritize the importance of revenge over fighting against human trafficking. The children and the plotline the writers started about them feeling like they’ll “never be wanted” is completely forgotten as soon as that Dorothy plotline is introduced–the fate of the children is thrown in as an afterthought in the final minutes of the show. The main conflict at the end of the con isn’t about fighting THE BUYING AND SELLING OF ACTUAL CHILDREN–it’s about being mad about a friend dying because wow I can’t believe someone died while trying to infiltrate a company that BUYS AND SELLS CHILDREN AND HAS NO MORALS. The worst part about this is that it’s revealed that Dorothy isn’t even dead–she just lost her memories and is just chillin’ with an old couple on the beach–which means that the “revenge” plotline holds less weight than it even did before. No, actually, scratch that–the worst part about this is that all they do to get “revenge” (and fight human trafficking, I guess) is put the leaders and a few of the members of the Shanghai and Suzaku trading companies on an island and let them just vibe there. Like BRO you’re not even going to get them arrested?! They are either going to die on the island OR they’re going to make it back to the mainland, the second option being more likely given that at least one of them probably has a phone and will be able to call for help at some point. Regardless of whether or not they make it back from the island alive, it’s guaranteed that BOTH of those trafficking companies will be fine, unless they are so inept that they can’t figure out a new leader and are so crippled by the financial sacrifice that both companies seemed pretty okay with making in that deal that was supposed to take place in the final episodes. I think the show doesn’t make it clear enough that the company is “ruined,” unlike the other cases, where each villain was shown to have lost everything due to the conmen by either getting thrown in jail, losing all their money, or a mix of both.
Speaking of the outcomes of the villains from the last cases…the icing on the salt-filled cake that is the last case of Great Pretender is that it appears that all the people who were established as TERRIBLE people from the previous cases are in on the con. Edamura appears to just happen to have the contacts of all three of the antagonists from the last 3 cases, and he has them help him with the con for reasons that I believe are not fully explained. And these actual criminals, one who one of the main characters (Cynthia) has had a personal vendetta against for about 20 YEARS, are just chilling on the boat, explaining to the audience how they regained their status and were totally content. The main characters don’t even seem perturbed by these villains being involved with the con–the most surprising non-reaction is from Cynthia, who I would assume would be livid about someone who took advantage of her and her ex-partner’s lives for his own benefit just chilling and gambling on a yacht like nothing happened. This particular development seemed to just erase both the goals of the conmen, which were to bring down bad people (which they clearly failed at or didn’t care about, given that the three antagonists they had supposedly “brought” down seemed perfectly happy and content with their lives) and all of the deplorable acts that these antagonists were shown to have engaged in in the previous cases.
In other words, it felt like the show almost betrayed everything that it said it stood for, in terms of dealing with serious topics and actual crime. Judging by the rest of the reviews I’ve seen submitted here for this show, I think some other people feel similarly to me about this.
That’s not to say that all of the parts of this case were completely nonsensical and bad, however. If I am to say anything positive story-wise about case 4, I really thought Abbie was solid the whole way through, even though she had very little screentime. And, except for the last part where she just seems totally okay with that painter fraud guy just chilling on the yacht, I think Cynthia was fine as well–she provided some comic relief when her and the rest of the conmen gang were painting the fake Suzaku building…which I’m not even going to get into how stupid and convoluted that whole idea was, given that I’ve been writing this for approximately 2 hours straight and my exhaustion with just writing simple sentences is probably showing at this point.
ENJOYMENT (…no number again)
Once again, I don’t really know how to rank this section either. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 3 cases, I was utterly baffled and disappointed by the last case. I don’t know how any of that would translate to a comprehensive score of enjoyment without being completely biased towards my feelings towards either the first three cases or the last case. I will say once again that it really does feel like cases 1-3 were from a completely different show with completely different characters than case 4, so I don’t feel like it’s appropriate to group them into one score.
OVERALL CONCLUSION (TLDR) (4/10)
4/10 doesn’t feel like it’s a low OR high enough score when addressing this show. There are so many aspects that I absolutely adored from the first 3 cases that were just obliterated in the last few episodes from a few odd narrative choices that completely subverted the tone and our understanding of key characters. I am astonished by how plotlines were started and then just immediately thrown out and characters were just changed on a whim for shock value, and am just kind of awash in disappointment right now, as I really thought this show was going to go down as one of my favorite anime.
It feels like the last case of Great Pretender was the big reveal of a giant con that ran through the entire show. The first 3 cases served as the deception that Great Pretender was truly going to be (and end) fantastically, with a solid cast of likable characters, a good sense of humor and dialogue, and a coherent plot that would make you wish you could just erase your memory and watch the show again for the first time. And that last case served to show all of us that, like any great con, things that you thought were undeniably true could easily be undermined. If someone were to tell me that I would be ranting about how much I was disappointed and infuriated by the the ending of Great Pretender about a month ago, when I was excitedly waiting for Case 4 to drop after bingeing all 3 of the cases within a few days, I would’ve laughed. I just wouldn’t have expected a show that seemed to exhibit such sensitivity for establishing solid characters and understandable plots to completely throw everything out the window within the last few episodes of a show…and yet, here I am, ignoring the real-life work I should’ve done 2 hours ago, instead spending my time typing furiously at my keyboard, writing an overly long review that I’ll be lucky if one person actually reads through, feeling like I’ve just been duped.
1: Golden Kamuy 3rd Season
English: Golden Kamuy Season 3
MAL Score: 8.45
Third season of Golden Kamuy. Will Asirpa and Sugimoto ever be reunited? A new battle for survival begins in the frozen land of Karafuto! After the battle at the prison, Sugimoto and Asirpa were separated. Kiroranke and Ogata take Asirpa north to Karafuto, along with Shiraishi, the “Escape King,” to follow a clue about her father. With Noppera-bo, the man who stole the Ainu gold, dead, only his daughter Asirpa can solve the mystery. Kiroranke’s goal is to take her to meet his former comrades, Far-East Russian partisans. Meanwhile, Sugimoto teams up with Lt. Tsurumi and the rest of the 7th. He and Tanigaki volunteer to go ahead to search for her. They head to Karafuto, along with Tsukishima and Koito. What awaits them in the frozen lands of the North? A new battle for survival!
Third season doesn’t disappoint, I didn’t have any doubts that it will be amazing! I’m just sitting there and waiting for the announcement of the fourth season!
Golden Kamuy is one of those series that are appreaciated in Japan but sadly not worldwide. Sometimes I think it’s better this way, normies wouldn’t understand its phenomenon anyway.
I give this anime 10/10 because it is my favourite anime, maybe it lacks something at some points but I am so charmed by the perfectly designed characters and well written story that I look past any mistakes.
If you haven’t seen Golden Kamuy yet, then move your butt to the first season and catch up! You won’t be disappointed!
With that outta the way, let’s continue to where we are left off with the cliffhanger of Season 2: The group separation of a journey to find Asirpa’s father Nopperabo (now recognised as Wilk) and figure out the passcode to the Ainu gold that the only daughter would know in total secrecy! Divided into 2 groups (Sugimoto’s group of Koito, Tanigaki and Tsukishima, along with Asirpa’s group of Ogata, Kiroranke and Shiraishi) and playing the cat-and-mouse killing chase throughout the numerous arcs that are based throughout Karafuto, the lost secrets of Season 2’s final episodes have been revealed, and revenge is on the nigh for Sugimoto’s group against Asirpa’s group with the numerous betrayals of former comrades with a strong tenacity for payback (while engaging in some unavoidable Russian pastimes for insane hilarity and scourging for information).
And if you think that the higher-ups of the 7th Division and the Shinsengumi are mostly forgotten in this season, you’re both right and wrong: Correct in the sense that while both Tsurumi, Hijikata and their lackeys serving as background characters, but wrong in the sense of pre-Russo-Japanese war happenings (especially for the former’s backstory and how he became the series “psycho” psyche of a fearsome antagonist that we all know and love). That by far, is easily THE BEST defining moments of Golden Kamuy’s adaptations to-date. Even the Ako Prison Break arc of Asirpa’s group saving former Russian comrades-turned-revolutionaries provides a nice backdrop of the history between them, Kiroranke and Wilk, all leading to the final sequence of events that reach the objective laid out since Season 1: the Ainu gold treasure hunt. Man, talk about heaps of stacked infodump that only gets better as the story progresses, and sharing with it is the ever-growing excitement from the marvellous execution of both its main story plot and background twists. What can I say, the gradating outstanding storyline just rolls off the tongue.
It’s easy to say that for Geno Studio, they undoubtedly haven’t dabbled in anything else except Golden Kamuy, of which the comparisons to both Kokkoku and Pet, are like small pests to an enormously large reservoir. But as a long-time viewer and for the 2nd year of the series running, I can safely and assuredly say that Golden Kamuy isn’t just a cash-cow for the small studio, but evidently a passion project altogether of constantly better visuals and improved animation with the same production staff team that has helmed this anime since 2018. Many may say that good animation doesn’t hold up a bad overall story (or vice versa), but you’re not gonna find all of that here, as Geno Studio does a heck of a marvellous job solidifying each progressive season in both consistency and pacing.
The music department has also been one of Golden Kamuy’s pervasive strengths since the very beginning, and what great OSTs we were blessed with in prior seasons, because Season 3’s OST is also no slouch in that matter. FOMARE’s debut song “Grey” for the 3rd OP may not have the ooze and oomph of the same bombastic quality as both Seasons 1 and 2, but I feel that this is the most rounded sounding song of the OP song list that’s still pretty good on its own (heck, the full song clocks in at sub-3 mins, so I’d recommend music nuts to give this a listen). What definitely sounds a major upgrade is the ED, and THE SIXTH LIE is back with another banger song that’s brings back the feels with their 1st ED “Hibana”, but exponentially better with “Yuutetsu”. In this show, when the starting instrumentals part begin to kick in, you know shit is gonna hit the fan by the proceeding episodes, and this brilliant time signature absolutely amplifies this song tenfold. I’d go to say that this might be the best ED of the series to-date, certainly now my all-time favourite of the ED song list. All in all, another praise-worthy OST to add to the collection.
Golden Kamuy has always been the top 1% of god-tier standards in both story plot and visuals (for both the manga and anime), and yet for the 2 years since the anime came out, it’s a very saddening reality to see that even lesser people really notice this massively underrated “crème de la crème” of an exceptional show, much less the declining number of watchers (me included) who have stuck with the series since Season 1 with non-stop awe and praise. A recommendation at this point is seriously not enough for people who are actually missing out on Golden Kamuy (at least the West anyways, since Japan both love and hold the source material in very high regard), and I’d wager on being a revolutionary weeaboo otaku by saying this:
“Come on Crunchyroll, you can do a better job than just licensing this to Funimation to handle the (post-season) English dubs for 2 straight years running, RIGHT (since both your company and Funimation are now under Sony)??? You want to plan a Season 4 someday, sure, go ahead! We also want a Season 4 in the future, but please do the correct planning, PLEASE.”
The story is really good searching for gold and everyone is looking for a way to unlock the mystery of gold.Just like previous season it carry on the gold search but every thing is so enjoyable.The new characters are amazing and as always people with tattos its always fun finding out their personality.Hijikata Vs Cap Tsurumi and Sugimoto working with Tsurumi to find Asirpa and save her from Kiroranke and Ogata.The story was great for me.
Art was fine i guess i dont have any complain against Art and Sound.Both of them were great.
When it comes to characters, man just like previous seasons this season also had great characters.The backstory and every mystery they create great character.Ogata , Tsurumi , Wilk , Kiroranke and others had really great character development
This season might be 9 or 8 for more most people but i m giving it 10 because of the enjoyment.I really enjoyed this season along with previous season.
Golden Kamuy is great and underrated as hell.If you watched previous season then its must for you to give this season a try.
(Sorry if my english is too bad)
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Golden Kamuy 3rd Season
2. Great Pretender
3. Eizouken ni wa Te wo Dasu na!
4. Somali to Mori no Kamisama
5. Radiant 2nd Season
6. Kami no Tou
7. Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu.
8. Majo no Tabitabi
9. Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka III
10. Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season