They’re the best Anime that 2021 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Wonder Egg Priority, Beastars 2nd Season, 86, and more!
10: Wonder Egg Priority
Japanese: ワンダーエッグ プライオリティ
MAL Score: 7.88
Following the suicide of her best and only friend, Koito Nagase, Ai Ooto is left grappling with her new reality. With nothing left to live for, she follows the instructions of a mysterious entity and gets roped into purchasing an egg, or specifically, a Wonder Egg.
Upon breaking the egg in a world that materializes during her sleep, Ai is tasked with saving people from the adversities that come their way. In doing so, she believes that she has moved one step closer to saving her best friend. With this dangerous yet tempting opportunity in the palms of her hands, Ai enters a place where she must recognize the relationship between other people’s demons and her own.
As past trauma, unforgettable regrets, and innate fears hatch in the bizarre world of Wonder Egg Priority, a young girl discovers the different inner struggles tormenting humankind and rescues them from their worst fears.
I had such high hopes for Wonder Egg Priority. I praised its first few episodes like it would be the best anime of the year. If only I could go back in time and prepare myself for a massive disappointment.
Before someone tells me, “You didn’t understand the symbolism and metaphors.” I understood it, but I don’t think it’s as deep as people say. The symbolism is either so blatant you barely need to do any thinking or so vague that it becomes pretentious. It’s like watching a movie while the director is breathing down your neck, telling you what every symbol, line of dialogue, and gesture means.
In my eyes, the most underwhelming art is the kind that tells you exactly how to interpret it; though writers can break this rule successfully, it must be purposeful. Wonder Egg didn’t ignore subtlety for a reason, and it did it because it’s simpler to spell everything out. The viewer can feel instant gratification for understanding a symbol, which inspires us to dig deeply into the vague and nonsensical parts—leading to theory crafting to excuse the show’s writing flaws. With only thirteen episodes, one being a recap and the thirteenth airing months later, the series bit off far more than it could chew. If we ignore everything except Wonder Egg’s movie-like technical qualities, it is a masterpiece. Scratch off the paint, and underneath, all you’ll find is hack writing exploiting people with mental illnesses and trauma.
Spoilers incoming, but you’ll thank me later because you won’t have to sit through the show to discover its idiotic twists. I’ll try to explain the show to those of you whose brains died trying to understand what was supposed to be the hamfisted twist near the end. Trigger warnings include suicide, self-harm, pedophilia, child abuse, and sexual assault.
Entering Wonder Egg, I had no expectations. They hardly advertised it, and the plot summary was mysterious. “The story of four girls who find eggs.” It sounded intriguing. From the start, it introduced our main character, a 14-year-old girl with two different colored eyes. She was cleverly named Ohto Ai. While aimlessly wandering through her town, Ai finds an egg with numbers stamped on it. What could it possibly be? When Ai falls asleep, she enters a dream world that resembles her middle school. Things immediately become dire as an invisible man yells at her to break the egg—once she cracks the shell, it expands and breaks to reveal a girl was inside.
Angry CGI gnomes wielding knives chase after the two girls. These creatures are named “seeno evils” because they symbolize any bystander who allowed bullying or harassment; this is the kind of on-the-nose symbolism the show is known for, rather than designing a creature that conveys the idea. The writer just named it the thing because it’s easier. The seeno evils wear demonic masks, wielding knives, and leave a blood-red paint trail, like generic horror game monsters. Monsters can physically harm Ai within the dream world—those wounds won’t go away when she wakes up, similar to the horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street. The dream world has a final boss called a “Wonder Killer” representing the person who tormented the ‘egg girl’ in the real world—they are an oversimplification of cruel adults: abusers, pedophiles, stalkers, and other creeps. There’s no nuance to them, don’t expect complex villains. Ai assists the girl by clobbering the monstrosities with a large colorful sword resembling a Kingdom Hearts weapon. The girl who Ai rescues has a name, but you won’t remember it because, as every egg girl, she is present for half an episode at most and given the bare minimum characterization.
This is Wonder Egg’s plot structure; in most episodes, Ai, or one of her three friends who later get introduced, enters a dream world to save an egg girl from their tormenter. Every egg girl is 14-years-old and a suicide victim. The heroines, Ai, Neiru, Rika, and Momoe, defend the egg girls to resurrect a friend who committed suicide. Every girl they protect brings them closer to achieving their goal. Each girl’s dreamscapes are the location where their friend, or family, passed away. The victims are represented by a statue, frozen in place moments before their death. The girls buy the eggs from two mannequin men who call themselves Accas; they explain various aspects of the dream world to create an internal logic; that way, it doesn’t feel like an asspull when a character jumps 30 feet in the air. The Accas are the author’s mouthpiece because he cannot trust us to think on our own. Their gender essentialist philosophy makes them unreliable allies, and that’s welcomed character depth. However, their ideologies are never criticized within the story. Instead, they are reified. One of their gender essentialist quotes goes as follows: “Boys’ and girls’ suicides mean different things. Men are goal-oriented, women are emotion-oriented. Women are impulsive and easily influenced by others’ voices.” This is blatantly untrue, and suggesting otherwise is stupid and harmful.
The heroines struggle with personal turmoil, such as forbidden love, grief, regret, self-loathing, and more. Throughout their interactions with the egg girls and conquering trauma, they confront their problems. While a shallow, one-dimensional archetype, each dream’s Wonder Killer is animated beautifully and brought to life with the best fights in TV anime. The production is on par with Jujutsu Kaisen and Demon Slayer. Though the egg girls are suicide victims, there isn’t enough time to shape them into real people, so Wonder Egg uses a tactic to make us care for them. Designing a cute character design. There’s no need to write a deep character when you can make her cute then say, “She committed suicide,” or “She was abused.” It has the same effect as putting an adorable puppy in a depressing situation—you’d be a monster if you didn’t feel sympathy for it. If you want to scare the audience straight, then it works purely on the basis of the shock factor, like a stunningly animated Public Service Announcement. But you have to admit, PSAs aren’t very well written.
In all seriousness, throwing in sensitive topics such as mental illness, suicide, and writers must handle sexual assault with respect and care. Wonder Egg treats them with the sensitivity of a sledgehammer. It doesn’t feel deserved when the director throws in shots of a girl’s dead body, with her head smashed into a splatter of blood on the pavement. It’s overly indulgent. One of the worst scenes showed a one-off character getting raped on screen. The writer plays with fire, not caring who he burns in the process. It’s no surprise that Wonder Egg’s loudest critics are the ones who’ve experienced the trauma that it brazenly uses to startle the audience. Gratuitous violence and high-quality art does not make a story deeper. Trying to excuse the meticulous attention to detail put into drawing a dead girl’s foot only leads to pretentious navel-gazing.
Wonder Egg has mastered the art of emotional manipulation in this way. Of course, I am not saying you cannot make depressing stories featuring cute girls. Look at Madoka Magica, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Princess Tutu. They deal with suicide, sexual assault, death, and other heavy topics. Not to mention, the show copied Madoka’s spirit gems which the girls use to summon adorable Pokemon-like guardians. Wonder Egg’s issue is that it doesn’t have enough time to make its extraneous characters more than two-dimensional victims, and its understanding of mental illness is shallow. If you take away the cute character designs, odds are people would have a much harder time sympathizing with them. Each egg girl describes their reason for suicide; some bold-facedly says, “I was repeatedly assaulted.”
The script is so awkwardly alien it feels like you’re watching a PSA or an afterschool special for teenagers, rather than believable people with trauma. Perhaps they grew weary of writing suicide victims who resemble real people, reflecting problems with society and the economy, because most of the egg girls state they committed suicide for ridiculous reasons. Such as, ‘I want to be with my dead pop idol,” “The ghosts told me to,” and “I did it because my cult leader said so.” Although it could happen in real life, they far surpass the point of relatability. I’d almost laugh if it weren’t so exploitative of people who cope with mental illness and suicidal thoughts. It’s astonishing how quickly the show desensitizes you to suicide; it becomes so inconsequential that Ai straight-up asks an egg girl why she killed herself, no preamble. The girl said she saw ghosts—so Ai thought it was appropriate to reference The Sixth Sense. The whole thing gets played off as a joke. Suicide. Joke. What is the correlation? Do you see how this is a total nightmare? It appeals to the same kind of people who disingenuously say they like “Dark humor” when they only want to offend people in reality.
On the other side, the main characters have plenty more time for development.
Perhaps the most fleshed-out character of the four was Rika. Her story is one of redemption. Despite being young, she was a junior idol who dealt with fans regularly. Her biggest fan was Cheimi, a girl who spent all her money on seeing Rika and giving her gifts. Eventually, Rika discovered the girl was shoplifting to afford gifts, so she made an irrational decision to stop her. She insulted the girl by saying she could never be friends with a fan and would be “Embarrassed to be seen with a fatty.” Cheimi developed an eating disorder and died after starving herself to death. She said the cruel things seemed to reveal what Rika thought; they weren’t just made-up insults to make Chiemi leave. We saw her, and she was a big girl, then she starved herself because Rika body-shamed her. There are plenty of good ways to prevent a fan from visiting an idol. Insulting them isn’t one. But Rika understands the weight of her actions. Driving Chiemi to suicide leaves Rika regretful and self-loathing; she reflects on these emotions as she cuts herself with a razor beside a mirror. Do you get it? She is self-reflecting, next to a mirror. The MIRROR is a SYMBOL for her self-reflection. Seemingly to mock us, Rika’s weapon is a giant box cutter. She cuts herself with a box cutter, a weapon she uses against herself to fight her trauma. Do you get it? Shall I explain it to you again?
In the seventh episode, Rika’s character arc peaks. She confronts her feelings of self-loathing on her birthday while searching for a father she never met. The problem with this episode wasn’t just the unsubtle symbolism. It is how Rika’s self-harm gets treated. Clearly, she self-harms to cope with things—and it bothered me how the episode framed Rika stopping self-harming as positive growth. It’s a good thing she stops, even if she relapses, but that’s typically not how it is in real life. I’ll admit I went through a period in my life that I self-harmed to cope with a difficult circumstance. And I’d be lying if I said it goes away entirely—even after years of treatment. Framing it as a step in her character development ladder is dismissive rather than a long and challenging process. It shows a lack of understanding on the part of the writer.
Perhaps the most questionable part of Rika’s character arc was how a few times it is implied that Rika had sex with adults, but why? The probable answer is that the story restricted itself to a mere eleven episodes. Why would they include such a harmful topic like pedophilia concerning a central character, then not address it at all? One could argue the dream world allows Rika to conquer her inner demons, ala the Person franchise, which is true, but not enough to justify an unnecessary and painful aspect.
Within the dreams, the girls are stronger, but their injuries stay when they wake up. Rika got a giant cut on her arm in the seventh episode, but it disappeared when she woke up. The internal logic seems to fall apart whenever it’s convenient. They attempted to make rules in the first few episodes: Kill the monster, save the girl, then once the bell rings, it ends. That’s not longer important. The heroines use anything as a super-powered weapon, not just their designated swords or guns. Though I was frustrated with Rika’s mental illness’s poor handling, her mother’s relationship was perhaps the most empathetic part of the show. The end of her episode had a poignant message; love your parents, if they’re worth it.
I want to praise the show for Momoe Sawaki, one of the few respectful portrayals of a transgender character in anime. She confronts true-to-life problems transgender people face integrating into society as her true gender. Her friend fell in love with her, but Momoe “Got scared and pushed her away” because she was uncomfortable. Note, it wasn’t anyone’s fault. Inevitably, this led the girl to suicide; This is one of Momoe’s most significant obstacles. Her egg girls are all lesbians in the dream world, or they mistake her for a man, except for one. I wouldn’t say I like how the show portrays its only lesbian interactions as predatory. Still, it could be worse. They’re attracted to her because she appears handsome and dresses masculinely, despite being feminine on the inside. The Wonder Killers that Momoe fights are typically pedophiles; her fights are symbolic for her claiming her true gender and rejecting the patriarchy. Her dream worlds were perhaps the most straight-forward.
There was a time I didn’t like her, though. In the bowling alley, Momoe jokingly said, if you don’t let us bowl, “We might kill ourselves without it.” I dislike people who joke about killing themselves to get what they want—even though they exist among highly privileged people. Chances are this won’t bother most people, but it is a major annoyance for me; whoever wrote this joke should’ve considered talking to real people with mental illness. It’s another unfortunate reminder that Wonder Egg doesn’t understand the people that it’s story is about—rather it has the understanding of a parent’s obtuse understanding of their depressed child. Momoe is wholly unlike Neiru, the most complicated of the four heroines.
Neiru Aonuma is a quiet and reserved super-genius who owns a company. She was created in a lab, has no parents, and no friends except a comatose girl. Her circumstances are so unbelievable I found her the hardest one to relate to; she seemed to belong in a Sci-Fi show. Her sister stabbed her, then jumped off a bridge. The reason why she is fighting in the egg world is to forget her sister. It’s not until episode nine that she becomes outwardly unlikeable. She invites her friends to her home (part of her company’s building), introduces them to her comatose friend, then says she’ll unplug her life support right now. Of course, her friends are distraught. They don’t want to watch someone die. In response, Neiru says, “I didn’t… ask you to take a field trip here.” No, she did ask them to come; she just wasn’t honest about why. The writer rushed the whole thing. It introduced new concepts and far-fetched ideas; they showed that the Accas could record the dreams, Neiru’s Plati society’s existence, and its ambiguous connection to the Accas. As it rushed through content, it became apparent there would only be one season. If you don’t understand what’s happening by the eighth episode, don’t worry; the recap explains all of the symbolism for you.
Comparatively, Ai received less development despite being the primary character. Her friend Koito committed suicide due to bullying—a typical sad story told in many PSAs geared towards kids. Her classmates harassed Koito because her teacher Mr. Sawaki gave her ‘special treatment.’ Due to the show’s prevalent theme of not trusting adults, it is glaringly obvious that Mr. Sawaki is a suspicious figure. He’s dating Ai’s mom to get closer to her; Ai saw him getting intimate with Koito, so she has been awkward around him, and now she suddenly likes him for unclear reasons. The thing that bothers me about Ai’s relationship with Sawaki is that he blatantly grooms her—like the other young girls who are in love with male adults (And yes, this becomes a trend), it seems irrational. Ai is the quiet outsider, allowing the audience an avatar to connect with the fantastical setting. The truth is, we don’t have enough details to enter her headspace, unlike the other girls. When Ai saw how Sawaki painted Koito, she associated it with their mutual love. Ai believed if Sawaki painted her, they would form a similar bond. Their problematic relationship gets promptly brushed past until the twelfth episode to make room for the other characters, lore dumps, and unnecessary exposition. In episode twelve, Ai confronted different versions of herself from other worlds and predictably fought Sawaki in the dream world. The writers introduced totally new concepts and ignored previously established logic. They aimed for a profound conclusion like Evangelion’s final episode but it landed closer to Darling in The FranXX’s clusterfuck of an ending.
By the eleventh episode, Wonder Egg jumped the shark. It added an entirely new villain, a schoolgirl with the head of a butterfly, and it replaced meandering dialogue with gory ultra-violence. Episode eleven shifts perspective to developing the two Accas. You know. Because they’re important, right? Their backstory focuses on their lives as scientists; for no reason whatsoever, they created an artificial human girl. Somehow the show ripped off both the Matrix and Ghost in The Shell in one scene.
The girl looked like a hideous bleached raisin. Less than a minute later, it turned into a 14-year-old girl, designed to look and act painfully adorable. She names herself Frill. In a better show, they’d use this as an opportunity to critique the male writer/director for designing a dozen cute female characters with prepackaged traits to be readily marketable. But no, the two men raise Frill for a couple of years, then they neglect her. She develops a mental illness, murders one of the guy’s wife, and consequently, they throw her in a basement for years. Acca physically beats the girl on screen, and it gets framed as though she deserved it. However, it was he who created then neglected her. The show implied she caused Acca’s daughter to commit suicide, gratuitously shown on screen. With no logical evidence, the man grabs Frill and burns her to death. The anime added her for two reasons: To show how the Accas are bad guys (which we already knew), and for sadistic entertainment that’s more befitting a series like Magical Girl Site.
I didn’t even get to the part about Frill controlling the dream world all along. At the last minute, it is all revealed to be a simulation designed to torture young girls. What is the message here? Don’t create artificial life and let two mansplainers raise it? Beyond faux-intellectual theory crafting, there’s no value in this exercise in futility. To any audience members with mental illnesses, I strongly advise you to avoid this like the plague. If you want to feel shocked, disgusted, and insulted, this is a good choice.
Wonder Egg Priority was a passion project created by young aspiring artists from across the world. Frankly, their work paid off because this is one of the best animated TV anime I’ve ever seen. Due to the pandemic, the staff worked remotely, but the lack of management led to them working far past their deadlines with little to no pay—even causing staff members to need hospitalization. Ironically, Cloverworks is a horrible studio that exploited young artists to create an anime ABOUT cruel and untrustworthy adults. The final episode will get released in a few months because the studio tortured its staff, but no polished animation will make-up for this show’s deeply ingrained flaws.
Edit: I watched the final episode and it was horrid. It somehow made the show even worse. Do not watch it, just let the original ending be one of life’s little mysteries!
I have rewatched Wonder Egg Priority multiple times in an effort to organize my conflicting feelings towards it. On one hand, it has beautiful visuals, an intriguing aura, and a great first couple episodes. On the other hand, it has shallow concepts, a messy narrative, a lack in direction, problematic messages, poor character development, exploitation of sensitive themes, and a failed execution of ideas. Yeah, the cons definitely outweigh the pros with this one.
Wonder Egg markets itself as an odd yet beautiful dream of self-acceptance full of imagery and symbolism. The first scene of the anime introduces us to our protagonist, Ai, in the middle of the street when a strange voice taking form of a firefly brings her to an underground arcade and gives her an egg. Breaking the egg transports Ai to a surreal world that slowly reveals itself as a danger zone where she is tasked to protect a person called a “Wonder” from a creature called a “Wonder Killer”, a representation of the person’s struggles or trauma. Ai then meets friends who also take part on their own journeys to defeat Wonder Killers. Every character has their own backstory and a set of convictions that affect how they act and fight against trauma. It’s a very original and mysterious Ikuhara-esque concept that aims to tackle how we overcome our issues. But with each episode, the anime gets more and more problematic until it completely falls apart.
One of Wonder Egg’s main fallbacks is its use of imagery. Ironically, imagery is the whole appeal of the show and the reason why I admittedly had high hopes for it. But over time, it got repetitive, and I realized that it was due to the constricted nature by which imagery in Wonder Egg is presented.
The wonder killers (victim’s trauma) are always actual beings. There’s the abusive teacher, the abusive teacher #2, the abusive coach, and so on. Not only is this the same thing over and over again, but I find this pattern problematic because when we talk about sensitive topics like self-harm and suicide in real life, trauma doesn’t always take form of one specific event or attacker.
We can see how this issue affects the story in one of the episodes that focuses on Momoe, a tomboyish girl learning to deal with society’s ideas of gender and appearance. Fitting with the theme, the person Momoe was tasked to save in that episode was a non-conforming girl who identified as a boy. This is great. Having Momoe pair up with someone who is also subjected to society’s standards is a very thematic plot choice that allows the opportunity for Momoe to maybe learn something about herself from their encounter. I thought, “Cool, so this whole dream sequence is going to focus on how they accept themselves despite societal pressures.” Perhaps the wonder killer would be a representation of society that they could beat together.
But no. Instead, the Wonder Killer was a rapist… which I found completely random. Yes, rape is an issue. But is it a good issue to poorly tie into the topic of gender norms for no deep reason? Absolutely not. Why suddenly insert a rapist when the topic isn’t about dealing with rape? Doing this just feels like the show is forcibly inserting rapists everywhere. It also feels a lot like the show is just digressing from the initial topic at hand.
If Wonder Egg wants to tackle challenging societal norms, then the issue should be society itself. But this anime consistently uses one specific attacker to encompass the whole issue. In doing this, it only focuses on face-value encounters and makes it seem like the entire problem lies within just one superficial enemy or trauma. It is a wasted opportunity that hinders Wonder Egg from using imagery in a broader way. Had they used the dream sequence in order to symbolize society and its issues as a whole, the anime would have better succeeded in connecting to the bigger picture. Instead, Wonder Egg’s imagery is too narrow, relying on a single person to put the blame on.
Object symbolism in this anime doesn’t come with much meaning either. The firefly from the first episode is seen every once and while but doesn’t represent anything. It could’ve been any other bug or small object, and everything would’ve remained the same. Ai has heterochromia which is supposed to show how different she is and tie into the fact that she was made fun of in school. But then the anime contradicts this symbolism by introducing another character with heterochromia who was considered smart and beautiful rather than someone who was made fun of. All of the main girls have different weapons when they enter the dream world, and the show even draws attention to this when Ai first fights a wonder killer with one of her friends. But the weapons barely catered to their backgrounds OR only referenced one small part about their personality. It would be easy to assume that the creators just randomly gave them something cool that would look good with their character design. For the most part, this isn’t a huge issue. But it’s disappointing because the anime sets itself up to be something deeper and because most of these ideas take place in a dream world that’s supposed to be some representation of reality. I love analyzing and reading between the lines, and I thought that Wonder Egg would make me do that with its unusual concepts. But it’s mostly just pseudo-symbolic repetition without thought.
Despite this shallow repetition and narrow imagery, the girls-fighting-against-wonder-killers formula was still a solid one that produced decent results in the beginning of the anime. We got to see girls be badass and overcome their trauma. Everything was running smoothly, and there weren’t any big plot issues. But that’s exactly why when Wonder Egg abandoned this formula, the narrative completely collapsed.
For some reason, the creators of the anime couldn’t stick to one idea. So before we even hit halfway through the series, they started playing around with the messages of the anime. One line that shifted the tone of the narrative was “Boys’ and girls’ suicides mean different things. Men are goal-oriented, and women are emotion-oriented. Women are impulsive and easily influenced by others’ voices.” Suddenly, Wonder Egg was no longer a show that focused on girls simply to show their growth and strength. It became a show that focused on girls because apparently ‘they’re emotional and easily manipulated’. Tying those stereotypical ideas into suicide was a horrible choice. The show tries to make sense of it later on in the anime, but it just ends up being rushed. So the lines came off like something that the writers genuinely believed in.
A lot of the smaller dialogue started relying on similar gender stereotypes as well. For example, some quotes from the anime are “Men who ask women for money are all fake” and “A beautiful woman never needs a wallet.” Both of these lines come from Rika, one of Ai’s friends who is involved in acts of self-harm and lives in a single-parent-household with an alcoholic mother. Knowing this, I assume that the dialogue was meant to show the mindset of a child from a troubled home with absent parental figures. However, I don’t understand why they had to be so stereotypical. There are multiple other ways to display a person’s mindset without having to rely on problematic dialogue. The fact that these messages are repeated throughout the show makes it feel like the anime is exploiting Rika’s background and using these lines more as shock factor rather than to show her growth. This is even more evident when Rika implies that she hasn’t gained a sense of self-acceptance.
After one of her Wonder Killer battles, Rika says “Even if it means hurting myself, I’m going to live.” Anyone who knows how dangerous self-harm can be should understand why this line is a big issue. Not only did the anime actively promote self-harm, but it also marketed it as growth.
Now I like to give shows the benefit of the doubt, so I thought that the line might have just been a part of the story. Maybe the anime is self-aware of how incorrect it is and is only using it to build bigger themes. I tried to think of it as a means for Rika’s characterization to maybe emphasize her troubled background. But I recently rewatched that episode and saw no indication of that line having a deeper connection to Rika’s family life. In fact, that line was part of the last episode of the series that fully focused on Rika, so the anime never clears up the way it poorly handled self-harm. Though I’ve tried to think positively, I cannot find anything to justify that piece of scriptwriting. It blatantly views self-harm in a positive light to the point that I can no longer call this an anime about self-acceptance.
The creators also began flooding the show with too many ideas and cheap plot twists, most of which were crammed towards the end of the anime where the writers didn’t have enough time to cover them all. New antagonists and backstories were introduced in the last few episodes of the series, unnecessary changes to the storyline happened at every corner, and random events were inserted just for the sake of shock value rather than actual relevance to the overarching plot.
Wonder Egg even introduces inter-relational conflicts that never get fully explored. One example of this is with Neiru, one of Ai’s friends. Neiru has a tense relationship with her sister, and when she tells Ai about this, we learn about the sequence of events that led to their complex sisterhood. But the details were incomplete. The anime set it up as a mystery to unfold as the story went along. What really happened? Why did her sister act the way that she did? Even after watching all twelve episodes of the anime, I still don’t know. The show just brings up the issue but never resolves it.
When I expressed these concerns, fans argued that there would be more episodes or at least more content to close things up properly. Though a special broadcast in June has been announced, I highly doubt that the franchise will be able to tackle all of the issues found in the anime and tie all the loose strings together in a twenty-minute episode. The storyline is already a mess and there would be too many relationships to cover. This is a clear production, time management, and story building mistake on the studio’s part. And the need for a special broadcast only emphasizes their shortcomings.
Amidst all of these flaws, I admit that there are still some things Wonder Egg does well. For example, the directing really stands out in some of the quieter scenes of the anime. From the moment we’re introduced to Ai and the world of Wonder Egg Priority, there’s this calming aura of quiet eeriness that pulls you in. The atmosphere is immersive and will keep you hooked to find out what happens next in the series.
Wonder Egg also has stunning visuals. The animation looks like it came straight out of KyoAni with consistent and fluid drawings. The color palette is unique with bold colors that grab your attention, and the artists use this with a good understanding of contrast and tone. Flexible and eye-catching, Wonder Egg’s art is one of the few parts of the anime that remained consistent throughout its twelve-episode-run. Paired with the messy plotline, some may call Wonder Egg an anime that chooses style over substance. And they aren’t wrong.
Looking at it as a whole, Wonder Egg was an imperfect but cool idea that ended up being too ambitious for its own good. It introduced too many plot points without properly bringing them together which affected the messaging and made the show feel less cohesive. While watching this anime, I often found myself wondering whether the creators even knew what they were doing. It seemed like they couldn’t decide the direction that they wanted to go, so they just let the story jump around until they found something that evoked some sort of emotion from the audience. It’s messy writing that falls short in multiple aspects of story building and fails to connect to the initial topic of self-acceptance. Putting aside the solid beginning and fun visuals, I can’t find much to recommend about this show. And though I’m frustrated that we’ll never see how this anime could’ve gone with proper execution, I’ll probably just remember it as another one of CloverWorks’ cringeworthy letdowns this season.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Initially the premise seems like the backstory for a high school set drama, however this quickly shifts during the first episode. At the start the protagonist, Ai Ooto, goes full hikkikomori due to personal issues, some of the issues include a close friend committing suicide and Ooto generally being ostracized while at school. She lives her days full of regret and dreaming about her friend, Ooto knows she should have stood up her for her friend who was being bullied, especially since it was because her friend protected her that she became a target. All of this is just the prologue to the actual story which begins when Ooto picks up an egg which asks her if she wants to change her future.
The story really launches at this point, the audience is introduced to a dreamworld full of the regrets and the personification of inner problems that suicidal girls face, Ooto is given the task to save the girls who are in the eggs. She obtains eggs from a gacha machine and cracks them open, afterwards she needs to find a way to solve their regrets or help them overcome their inner problems. More is revealed about this later on, the plot twists involving the gacha eggs and the system are really well done and the messages the show deliver are executed in a completely satisfactory way. Every important scene is full of symbolism, this is definitely the type of show to watch with your full attention, it is also highly recommended that you pause and reflect between each episode. There are also a lot of heavier themes in place mixed with the lighthearted atmosphere, the themes are handled well and do not conflict with the more easy-going atmosphere outside of the dreamworld events. The director very effectively balanced the show so that it was never oppressively dark or painfully edgy but still carried the serious tone that should be expected given the themes and subject matter. Overall, the story is, until its ending, fairly well executed and one of the most original ones in recent anime, it tells a wonderfully crafted story of self redemption and overcoming inner turmoil, it gets a 7 out of 10 for its creativity and originality but it loses points for failed execution near the end.
The artwork is movie quality, it does not feel like a TV anime at all, every single scene looks like something out of an anime movie. From the background art which looks lifelike at times due do some absolutely amazing tracing work, to the food which looks like it belongs in a Ghibli film with its detail and rich colors, everything in the show has a lot of love and care put into it to an extent that is shocking for a TV anime. Most of the transition scene backgrounds, such as Ooto walking in the rain or the flowers in the fields can very well work as wallpaper for a 4k computer background, it cannot be understated exactly how detailed all the art is for this series. The symbolism is reminiscent of Mawaru Penguindrum and Madoka, while the action is about as fluid as Mob Psycho despite the massively more detailed character design. With a combination of rather unique looking enemies, excellent fight Choreography and cuts during major attacks, Wonder Egg Priority might have some of the best action scenes among recent anime even though action is not even the main focus given the nature of the story.
Character designs for all the girls were quite well done as well, the studio used a very saturated vivid color pallet for each character which can conflict with lighter backgrounds, however the characters actually contrasted in quite a beautiful way with the scenery present. The girls had unique traits such as a variety of skin tones, eyes colors, hair highlights and subtle differences in body type that set them apart from each other in a bold way, the studio did not use cheap tricks like recycling the character model with different hair colors or overdoing the body type differences between the girls to differentiate them. Every girl also has a unique outfit, texting style and accessories that convey their personality, an interesting weapon in the dream world which reflects their trauma, and they all have some of the most detailed reaction facial animations for when the girls are tense, excited, smug, frustrated, upset. Its worth adding that very few shortcuts were used like blank faces during distant convos, characters speaking without being seen, and there was next to no CGI at used at all for character movements despite the intense detail in their character design. Now the combat animation wasn’t perfect in that characters did have a lot of transition cuts during fights, however it was done in a tasteful way that actually added a lot of impact to the hard hits, blood splatter, knock back effects present. Wonder Egg Priority also managed to achieve something only a handful of anime have ever achieved, true horror during a fight scene, anime by design is pretty terrible at conveying a sense of horror due to how difficult it is to make a scene looks revolting, but that crocodile and butterfly scene really does it.
Overall, the presentation of Wonder Egg Priority is spectacular, the show essentially has no notable flaws and exceeds expectations in every way, there is nothing present or lacking that lowers its score and due to this it receives a very rare perfect score for its art production values.
The sound: 8
Interesting OP, an ED that closed each episode perfectly, sometimes in a hilarious tonal shift, but I maintain that it was perfect, the show also highly effective sound effects for fights. The OP itself including both the sound and the visuals really fill the audience with a strong sense of familiarity, it genuinely feels like the richness of daily life and all those small moments we take for granted being highlighted in the form of a warm and slow song. The background music soundtrack by itself was not that impressive, unlike other shows this series is compared to, for example Madoka Magica. However, on its own, it still complements the show well enough, and its memorable, therefore an 8 feels like a fair appraisal of the music.
The cast is all female, and they are all focused on saving someone they knew that committed suicide, this binds them together and gives them a common background. Outside of the common tie, these girls come from entirely different socio economic and familial backgrounds and they all have entirely different, but complementary personalities. Every girl is well fleshed out and this anime feels like an inverse Bechdel test in ways, there are next to no men present, if they are present, they are either a source of trouble or irrelevant to the cast. In short, the cast is very similar to most magical girl shows; however it goes a step above and beyond in both their characterization and their distinct designs, all of the girls have an important story to tell and they are all in this important journey together.
As noted, before, men in the show are usually portrayed as bystanders or active antagonists, there is not much character development for them except one man who was very relevant for the protagonist. This is a notable weakness for the show, the antagonists are not really solidly fleshed out, the final antagonist was thrown in without any significant foreshadowing. It can be argued that the system itself and the girls inner problems can substitute as an antagonist, but its always nice to have a well characterized antagonist with their own motivations and goals that are clearly explained, while a true antagonist is sort of provided near the end of the series it felt a bit too rushed in to be counted. Despite missing a properly built up antagonist character, the main cast does grow together and complement each other well, they have their disagreements, conflicting opinions on whether or not they really have to undertake the egg gacha, and their moments of coming together after a major event. Overall, the main cast do feel like real characters with a lot of substance and depth, with multiple motivations for their actions and solid foundation behind the friendship they form with each other. The characters are a solid 8, it would have been better if there were solid antagonists and if the secondary cast such as family or the girls being saved had some more interesting moments, but the strength and development of the main cast was still quite well done.
Between the exceptional visuals, the original plot, interesting cast, and initial great direction, Wonder Egg Priority was easily among the 3 best shows this season. This is despite the fact that some of the most well awaited and popular sequels came out in the same season. Every episode was a fun ride, and it was entertaining to come up with theories on where the show was going to go and ending up being right or wrong. It ranks very high on the enjoyment scale overall, definitely one of the most fun anime in recent history, probably the most fun original anime in years.
The production values, direction, story, cast all being excellent lead to this show being given a 9 overall. This was one of the best recent anime that made, definitely one of the best original anime in years, it had an excellent approach a lot of hard issues without making the story edgy and outside of the last leg of the story it was executed with perfect direction. If you enjoy visually impressive abstract shows with a psychological thriller plot, Wonder Egg Priority is right for you.
9: Beastars 2nd Season
Japanese: BEASTARS 2期
MAL Score: 7.93
“Beastar”—a title awarded to beasts who prove their excellence through fighting inequality to unite carnivores and herbivores in an anthropomorphic animal society. Cherryton Academy has gone five years without one such leader. However, following the murder of an alpaca within the school boundaries, the growing tension between the different species poses a greater need for a Beastar to ensure peace and harmony.
When Louis, the prime candidate for this prestigious role, rejects the offer and leaves the academy, the student council declares to honor any student who captures the culprit of the aforementioned murder as Beastar. Meanwhile, Legoshi’s sense of duty as a strong wolf who must protect the weak pushes him to investigate the incident. To further complicate his life, he struggles to manage his complex feelings for the white rabbit, Haru.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
This review will go over The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly parts of this show for me, but with the bad first, because it’s more fun that way 🙂
Just like the first season of beastars, the second season begins promising and gradually propels itself to utter neanderthalic proportions. The beginning starts off with the mystery of who killed Tem, instigated by a giant snake security guard who just loves to slither in the air vents, and scare passing students, which is great. Sadly enough this character doesn’t appear past the first couple of episodes, Legoshi just decides to put her in the background, even though she’s the main reason he begins the task of finding the killer. Either way the killer is found, no spoilers here. Now we move on to the 2nd of what I believe to be 3 arcs in this season .
The Legoshi batman training arc. Working out, fighting crackheads in the black market, and winning through the power of… respecting animals? How is him training himself to not crave meat making him stronger? What kind of stupid gimmick is the power of believing in the circle of life? This is the supposedly legitimate, but realistically stupid training regiment bestowed upon Legoshi from Lord Panda Sensei. He done did him dirty too, considering how many times Legoshi gets his ass beat in this season. I audibly laughed when panda man made him eat a grub worm that then mythically turned into a moth angel once killed, telling Legoshi his bitch ass better not throw up, because that grub worm could have been beautiful! Achievement Unlocked! The Circle of Life, so what’s next?
The 4 or 5 different fights between Legoshi and the killer, each stupider than the next. It’s honestly surprising how fast their motivations disappear into mid-air after fighting, deciding to talk it out for a few seconds and move along, often in the middle of fights, not to mention how recurring this event is! At first it’s fresh, it’s new, the killer jumps Legoshi in the lockers, with a raw, brute, and sudden viciousness. But all this tension is broken away after the third or arguably even second meeting, when they start scheduling their fights after class like a couple of middle schoolers, neither finding the energy to end it, like it’s just a casual thing, it’s just whatever. Half the time I’m waiting on them to end the episode with an embracing kiss promptly followed by the credits rolling. That’s how ridiculous it gets.
Louis becomes the leader of the Leos(This is in episode 1 mind you so I’m not spoiling much). It’s a badass thing to be sure, though they do little with it besides meddling with a strip club(not joking). The real beauty in it is the mental struggle Louis has, and the slow and subtle rise in his influence with the gang, especially between Louis and Ibuki. It really becomes an intriguing, and well written relationship by the end.
Louis and Legoshi finally recognize the feelings behind their rivalry through the distance Louis made when he left. Their absence in each other’s lives unveils how much deeper their friendship was than they thought. So when Legoshi finally goes after Louis, the careful build up feels deserved, and that tail wag Legoshi does when he finally sees Louis is insanely delightful to witness.
Pina the sheep is introduced this season, filling the void of Louis in the drama club, and he is my favorite character by far in this series. He’s cocky, but in a sly way. When he pisses you off, it’s in a way that you grow respect for him. His mental games with Legoshi, and consistent mental torture he lays on the killer, making his life extremely stressful, adds some much needed, and very much enjoyed tension in this show.
God the last episode. Why did Ibuki try to kill Louis? These guys practically became best buds over the course of the season, and Even if that’s not the case, if Louis is leaving anyways, guess who becomes the new number one? It just seems like forced plot fodder to make the ending feel more “dramatic”. Guess what though? Panda Sensei’s training came through. In what I can only describe as a mushroom-induced delusion, griz is blinded by Legoshi’s beautiful aura of respect for all animals, as he gets hit, hard. Wow! Amazing! Immediately after Legoshi gets his teeth kicked in, though, which is even funnier. Btw there’s about 3 or 4 talk breaks in this fight. It was bad before, but in this episode particularly, it was overbearing. Then for some reason, Louis arrives all dramatically, and is like “Legoshi, eat my foot.” Then Legoshi does! Why? Because Louis hates his brand? Because it’s what Louis wants? Either way, Legoshi uncharacteristically decides, “Let me forgo my training, and eat my best friend’s foot, so I can win this fight for the love of all animals!.” So stupid. And guess what! He doesn’t even win! They take yet another pause in their fight, and both get arrested! This whole episode is like a toilet clogged to the brim full of plot fodder.
If you refuse to watch this just because you don’t want to be called a furry, you are just a reprimed anime watcher that is afraid to like something because of a category; and if you have watched it and use the furry stuff to diminish the show’s quality, you didn’t understand anything of this great anime.
Beastars is a work that reaches an even deeper and darker story every time it advances. It is a story about animals except that has nothing to do with animals but a lot more beyond that. It successfully handles a suspense atmosphere and the thrilling moments once again. Mixing aesthetic with an agressive enviroment is something they are good at, and that achieves its goal of letting the mysterious intact and making it very catching as well. This started in its first season being a school drama with a great and deep background about a splitted society, and ended up being a turbulent drama that went even deeper, delving into trafficking, black market and hervibores survival in the outside world.
Between Legoshi and Louis I couldn’t be able to pick one of them. Louis is a king with every letter of the word, whose intelligence and ambition can’t reach any limit, being the real representation of “I don’t know what I want, but I know how to get it”, and this is the season where we get to know his weaknesses more precisely, more natural. He loses that confident facade to show the vulnerable hervibore that, even 13 years later, only tries to survive and that, at the same time, wishes to leave it all behind. His relationship with Legoshi is more intense than ever before, and that’s great, that’s subtle, and what I love about them is how they are not friends and they are not enemies either; they just respect and admire each other, and it’s represented very clear. They barely see each other during the season, but when they do, I can’t help but watch it while I feel it.
“The reason I’m strong isn’t because I want to be happy” is a phrase that hit me in the middle of my forehead. It just makes a huge emphasis on what Legoshi’s feelings are. His constant crisis about him being a carnivore is more present than ever, and that’s amazing. It is just supported with a great and gradual development where he trains his spirit, so by the middle of it he has to choose between his mind and his body. It’s another step to know Legoshi, to his own self-knowledge, and to realize how much he grew up from the first episode of the series. He started as a coward that couldn’t resist his own instincts, a guy that didn’t know who he was nor what he wanted, finally puts his foot down to know and to say what he really wanted. He becomes a character with determination, but he doesn’t lose his common sense either. He knows when he can’t fight, and he knows when he has to speak. Legoshi is a character that I loved from the beginning, but right now, he is great. His growth is so reasonable, according to his personality, according to his own desires, fears and insecurities; is subtle and happens without losing his essence, without leaving behind his natural charisma and graciousness.
The rest of the cast just function as the background of every scene, as they did the previous season. Jack is still a cinnamon roll, a snake appears to be used as a trigger for Legoshi and disappears, and the bully girls drama disappears entirely, thankfully. The only one of the secondaries I want to remark is Bill. That guy was a pain the previous season, but this one I really liked him. He just has some minor changes, but it is more likeable this time. Kudos, Bill. Haru decides what she wants to do and her true affection for Legoshi takes place. Ibuki and Pina are two secondaries that play in the background and craft the story so it could lead both Louis and Legoshi to the place they have to go. Even though they are not developed as the rest, they have a lot of weight in this work, and they are good characters. Ibuki was my favourite, without a doubt.
This season is, in my opinion, a lot better than the first one, and here’s why: it focuses on what the viewer wanted. They took Haru out of the focus to become a real secondary; Juno took the place as the female lead of the season and approached to Louis, developing a relationship that was born as a defiant one. She constantly confronted Louis because of his attitude, but when in this season she knew who he turned into, their relationship changed, and that’s subtle and another piece that helped constructing Louis’ personality. Not only made me like the characters more, but it gave what the viewer expected from this second season: answers. Tem’s killer is devealed and, even though I felt offended because of who it was, it shocked me when I knew the explanation behind it. I’m not a person that rewatches things that I’ve recently watched, but that scene where Tem dies really moved me. It is not good to feel bad for the killer, but that really caught me off guard. The way the killer is fleshed out is amazing too, valuating the prize of life and the different kind of lives. I wanted answers, but when I got them, I didn’t want to know them anymore. It not only embraces more boundaries between carnivores and hervibores, but it also uses very well and in repeated situations with its according explanations.
This OST is probably one of the best this season. The opening is excellent from every point of view, makes justice to this dark season and is pretty intense as it should be. The ending is no different, it just contributes to the melancholy aura. The only CGI I can actually enjoy, once again. It also never fails in terms of direction to demonstrate the fear in hervibores; the frames and the restrained art style just contributes to the amazing atmosphere that is always there.
A marvelous sequel to a good series, where the tension, the drama and the violence reach its peak. I’m thankful for giving it a chance, and I wish I could talk a lot more without spoiling, because it surpassed my expectations by far. Definitely, worth watching.
For those who’ve already watched Season 1, you know how massively outstanding Beastars was when we needed a breath of fresh air into the light of repeating tropes and clichés for adaptations in the same ludicrious manner of money and fame. But Beastars? Even people who don’t watch anime, are absolutely floored from such highly intricate levels of detail, that’s come from a now well-established studio Orange that is the “Diamond Play Button” hallmark for fully 3DCG anime ever since Houseki no Kuni in 2017, and on Netflix no less. Season 2, takes that hallmark and cradles it even more to substantiate its solid foundation with mangaka Paru Itagaki’s sublime writing that is highly considered to be unparalleled for direct inferences to what can best be described as the anime version of Zootopia.
As compared to Season 1 with the whole Cherryton School debacle with finding out the murderer of that one lone alpaca named Tem, Season 2 takes the anthropomorphic animal societial cast both in and out of school, mostly in regards to the main trio: Legoshi, Louis and Haru. With Louis and the massively high expectations of Cherryton School labelling him as the potential “Beastar” in Season 1, his exit comes as both a surprise and a shock to the school, because for all animal schools, each of them has a “Beastar” representative should the imbalance between carnivores and herbivores come to toll and questioning. So, the next potential “Beastar” of Cherryton School is given to the one who can solve Tem’s murder, which immediately falls into Legoshi’s responsibility, though his personal conviction is the trigger as opposed to marking him on the big scene. And boy, did Legoshi went out of his way to make a 180 degree change of himself from the inside out, despite his desperate attempts to try finding Louis, and in-between, reciprocate his complex understanding of the relationship between him and Haru (which honestly is still a blank at this point, but by no means bad). Louis, like Legoshi, also underwent a huge change, as his exit from Cherryton School meant that he is a free soul, free to do whatever he wants on his own choices. And while sticking together in the lions’ den of the Shishigumi is a bold move, changing the inner workings of the Shishigumi from the typical gangster-esque Yakuza-like atmosphere to being a civil-cum-negotiable group, that’s gotta be some bold commendation on his part.
Alas, one can tell that both Legoshi and Louis are aiming for the “grass is greener on the other side” turning point of an ideaology by being an alternate societal gap-reality of themselves: Legoshi, training to be a full-on herbivore by supressing his carnivorous senses with panda doctor Gouhin’s intense training, and Louis, a herbivore living in a carnivore’s world, and learning to get used to consuming carnivorous food at the behest of his own being. Even Haru, as much as she is on the sidelines for Season 2, still greatly cares for both males that are on differing terms, with more of that tangible feeling still as confusing as the typical love triangle. The focal point for Season 2 is more of the world-building, and more importantly, new characters like KajiKaji’s dall sheep Pina and Hirosho Shirokuma’s brown bear Riz (as the main antagonist). Unsurprisingly, Pina’s first appearance in the anime is just as eschewing of the manga: the nonchalant “Ladies’ man” Bishounen herbivore that likes to taunt carnivores and twist words to his advantage, I’d say he is an inviter of trouble. Riz on the other hand, is just as unassuming as you would see in the same characteristics as any coloured bear, only except that he knows how to navigate his way through a challenge when the situation calls for it, and is also tactical of his actions.
Once again, studio Orange is back for more brilliance of its 3DCG prowess, and though it retains more or less the same anthropomorphic heart-felt feeling from Season 1, the juxtapose could not be said when there are action scenes within Beastars, and that has always been seen as the “anime is leaps better” pointing-fingers trope of how polished the entire show has become overtime. It’s always so satisfying to watch sharp and fluent 3D scenes done proper, and for good measure. But the music, oh good golly heavens. Season 1 has cemented itself in tip-top shape, and while this sequel kinda loses out in a teeny little fraction, it’s still great nonetheless for the haven of Yoasobi fans for covering both the OP and ED. I’d also like to give a shoutout to the animators that did the ED visuals, it’s all traditionally hand-drawn and painted on paper for a digitally-painted animation montage of over 1000 sheets of drawing paper, that’s some fantastic impressive levels of dedication and passion taken to great levels of care, similar to Season 1’s stop-motion OP.
Beastars is one of many stellar works that has never once fallen short of a 10/10 adaptation-wise, but to see the series to fruition may only damper one’s hopes, so keep your expectations in check. Nonetheless, another outstanding follow-up to what is already the high base of landmarks for 3D anime.
MAL Score: 8.19
According to the Republic of San Magnolia, their ongoing war against the Giadian Empire has no casualties—however, that is mere propaganda. While the silver-haired Alba of the Republic’s eighty-five sectors live safely behind protective walls, those of different appearances are interned in a secret eighty-sixth faction. Known within the military as the Eighty-Six, they are forced to fight against the Empire’s autonomous Legion under the command of the Republican “Handlers.”
Vladilena Milizé is assigned to the Spearhead squadron to replace their previous Handler. Shunned by her peers for being a fellow Eighty-Six supporter, she continues to fight against their inhumane discrimination. Shinei Nouzen is the captain of the Spearhead squadron. Infamous for being the sole survivor of every squadron he’s been in, he insists on shouldering the names and wishes of his fallen comrades. When the fates of these young souls from two different worlds collide, will it ignite the spark that lights their path to salvation, or will they burn themselves in the flames of despair?
From the time it was announced that my favourite LN series would be getting an anime adaptation, I was filled with excitement at the prospect of seeing my fave scenes and characters adapted. Unfortunately, I could not help feeling a sense of dread as well given the studio that would be adapting it. A-1 have had a pretty inconsistent track record over the past decade or so. They’ve given us some amazing works like Anohana and Bokumachi, but also some…. less than stellar works like SAO season 2 or War of Underworld PT.2. A-1, and the anime industry as a whole’s main issue is that LN adaptations are usually just cash grabs and glorified promo material to get people to go out and buy the books. Usually large swathes of stories are left out or butchered. As a result, I was worried that A-1 may rush through the story and omit key aspects of 86. Thankfully, I could not have been more wrong. Not only did A-1 remain faithful to the source material, they even enhanced it in many instances. With arguably their best LN adaptation ever, A-1 gave us the anime of the season.
86 is a very character driven story. Volume 1, which the first cour of the anime covers, is quite slow at time just because of all the detail that goes into the world-building. Asato sensei does a great job of humanising characters and creating a connection between you and them. There may be times during the anime where you feel it drags on or it’s going a bit slow, but I can guarantee you there’s a pay-off coming around the corner. Every second you spend in this world and with these characters matters. The cruel nature of war and child soldiers is on full display, and unfortunately death is always only a moment away. At the core of 86 is the theme of racism. The light novel and anime by extension, do an amazing job of showing how easy it is to fall into the cycle of hatred. On one hand, you have the Alba living peaceful lives within their cities, on the other you have the 86 being forced into a war they didn’t start and left to die. The psychological trauma that both the kids and their commanding officer, Lena go through is conveyed masterfully and really drives home the toll these things can take on humans. If it sounds like this is a dense story, it’s because it is. There is a LOT to unpack in 86, which is why I am so happy A-1 took their time and only adapted one volume for the first cour. This is something that’s nearly unprecedented in today’s era of profit over fidelity.
From a cinematic perspective, A-1 eloquently employ the use of split perspectives in 86. The story is told through the eyes of Lena and Shin and is usually split halfway each episode. It’s a great way to flesh out the world and the characters and I’m glad they went this route. I also loved the use of camera angles, particularly as it relates to facial expressions in the show. During tense moments and conversations, I found that the cuts and angles used added to the moment and helped drive home the significance of the scene.
I mentioned it briefly earlier, but I can’t help but reiterate how much I LOVED the pacing of the show. Usually with these types of adaptations we would get 1-3 volumes for 12 episodes. For a series like 86 which is quite frankly extremely dense, this would have been a disaster. Doing the first volume, at a rate of one chapter per episode and with the quality we got artistically with amazing character designs, the best CGI I’ve ever seen, etc etc., perfection.
Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been pushing the 86 agenda on Twitter and facebook for years. Part of that agenda was an OST by Sawano Hiroyuki. I could not imagine the world of 86 being animated without an OST from the GOAT himself. Sawano has done the OST for several aniplex mech series so it’s not really a shock that he hopped on 86, but bringing his kouhai Yamamoto Kohta onboard was a pleasant surprise. As you’d expect, the two of them SNAPPED on every track featured in the anime. Both EDs are amazing and several inserts like “The Answer” are on repeat on my phone daily. Could not ask for more.
In closing, 86 has been my favourite Light Novel series for years, and at this point it’s probably safe to say the anime is now my favourite anime series. A-1 put together an all star team of talent to work on this show, took their time and gave us something really special. Even if you don’t normally like mech or science-fiction anime, 86 is well worth a viewing due to the amazing handling of real life themes. In today’s hyper-political and tense times, a story on the dangers of racism and hate couldn’t be more relevant.
Eighty-six gets 10 Para-Raids out of 10.
Advertised as a military science fiction, I first want to mention that above all else, the anime manages to maintain a stellar force of animated quality. A-1 Pictures can sometimes be a missed bag but make no mistake, this show doesn’t step over its toes and overestimate itself. It manages to capture the essence of a military sci-fi by the high quality animation. From the machines, battle sequences, to the character design themselves, every bit of production makes a strong impression. Producer Nobuhiro Nakayama has previously worked on other sci-fi projects such as Heavy Object, A Certain Magical Index, and Accel World, among others. Let’s of course not forget about the director, Toshimasa Ishii. He managed to put together a storyboard to compensate with the artistic talents of the staff and make this show into a reality.
However, I do want to distress not to think too hard into this show. While 86 may be somewhat more complicated than the average sci-fi anime you see these days, it’s also fairly watchable for new viewers. You don’t need a rocket science degree to understand the technological advancements of their world. However, it make take a bit of time to understand what our characters are capable of and why they exist. Off the bat, we have Major Vladilena ‘Lena’ Milize, who serves as a Handler in the Republic forces. Coming off as one of the most human characters in the show, she treats others like humans than tools. It seperates herself from her superiors and above all, she fights for equality rather than winning the war. Lena’s character is portrayed as human by her actions. She often speaks out and challenges morality issues with her superiors. Within her squadron, she tries to forge a bond together even during their toughest times. As such, Lena represents much more than just the average Handler. She’s a beacon of hope for the 86 Squadron.
Speaking of which, what exactly is the 86? In general definition, they are pilots representing the Republic of San Magnolia. However, these members are not treated equally as other sectors as result of many complicated events. The show follows a group of elite 86ers (as part of the Spearhard Squad) with Shinei Nouzen as their leader. Taken for granted, Shinei carries a burden of responsibilty for his squad members. This is seen through his actions, when he disregard his own life to fight in what he believes in. Throughout the show, Shinei faces death straight on without fear even when taking inconceivable risks. His actions are not gone without notice as characters have come to respect him as a capable leader such as Kurena. I’m not here to convince you whether Shinei is a likable character or not. His actions can sometimes be questionable but the sheer bravery he shows on the battlefield is undeniably respectable.
With that in mind, 86 deals with war drama elements by showing and telling, a combination that is achieved with its historical background storytelling. From the very start, we learn about the state of their world and how characters are shaped by what they are. Most prominently, Lena and Shinei explifies their leadership role, and they must make important decisions even if they have to do it themselves. It’s also important to realize that Shinei’s squadron has character bonds within the group. When we see its members outside the battlefield, most of them behave like normal people despite knowing what future may lie ahead of them. It’s because of their bond, there seems to also be a glimmer of hope for the 86ers.
It’s a 1-cour show, at least for the first half and not only that, this falls short on one episode compared to the standard 12-episode formula. By no doubt, there’s content omitted in this adaptation such as the death of a certain important character on-screen. And also, if you came expecting this show to tell some romance, then look elsewhere. Sure, there are some hints dropped from Lena’s point of view and her growing affection towards Shinei. However, this doesn’t bloom into a relationship. After all, Shinei is the last type of guy who wants a girlfriend in this series. He’s a fighter, not a lover. Looking back though and among the Spearhead squadron, their relationship is perhaps one of the most important in the series.
I’ve already mentioned about the high quality production of 86. But who can forget the music? Hiroyuki Sawano is well known for his previous involvement in sci-i projects such as Aldnoah Zero and Guilty Crown. Here is no different as we see the sheer amount of talent poured into the soundtrack. Every episode is able to synchronize the soundtrack to make scenes impactful. It accomplishes this to make viewers feel what the characters feel, especially during the more emotional scenes. That’s important too, because war itself can have emotional impactful on anyone. It feels like the author and producers wanted us to experience what war is like hence the soundtrack enhances that experience.
Science fiction military anime isn’t an uncommon trend in today’s industry. Darling in the Frankxx, Aldnoah Zero, and the infamous Code Geass are just a few examples. What 86 manages to do is capture the feeling and reality of war, in a way that makes us realize what lives really is like for the characters. From day one, you can see grim reality of how war can change a world and people. Let’s just hope the second half of 86 will be as memorable as the first, because this anime is just getting started.
The first few minutes are really intriguing. We see two totally different realities. In the first one, we see people-controlled drones marching towards the enemy and, in a matter of seconds, we are taken to a totally different “World”. A calm, peaceful world that many would say is a “Normal” life, even the newspaper saying the weather conditions is presented to us until the beginning of the so-called “Ministry of Defense War Informant” where we realize that we are, not only, in the same world, but also in the same period of time. Some are living in complete hell and others leading their normal lives. Another thing to mention is that both are fighting on the same side, against the same enemy. And this is the first pillar, war, a confrontation between two groups that want something, where that “something” is so valuable, so important that it convinces people to join the cause and support the conflict. That makes people abdicate from their own lives for the greater good of the whole. And this is the first problem of 86, the war is not presented to us, we do not know why it happened or its trajectory to reach the period in which the anime takes place. The only thing the viewer can do is ignore the reason for all the developments that happened previously and simply accept the fact that a war exists.
A few seconds later, we see our protagonist going to the headquarters, where we see that although a war is going on, the atmosphere in the barracks is calm as if they were in a bar. This greatly displeases our major, who is indignant with the form that the situation is being driven by the Republic. This is when the most important dialogue in the anime takes place, with Annette asking Lena two questions, “Why do you care so much about drones?” and “Why do you care so much about 86?” And it is from this conversation that we understand the real situation in which the characters find themselves. The Republic once formed by people of different ethnicities decides to use minorities as soldiers, or better said, as pilots. This is why we only see people of the same “Race” (I apologize to everyone who has the slightest knowledge for the misuse of the term), represented by the hair color of people in the city, because they are treated as human beings, unlike all other peoples who, despite being citizens of the country, were treated like animals and forced to fight against the “Legion”. And then, the second problem presents itself: discrimination. It is very difficult to watch 86 and not remember Nazism, where the Germans used a pretext of racial superiority in order to subjugate all other ethnicities and especially Jews. Looking at it in this way, both history and fiction seem to rest on the same point, and that’s the problem, they’re not. While in Anime the 86 are used as fighters, the Jews on the other hand, were used as labor and as a way to unite people, hatred for the Jews made Hitler’s army march without any doubts that what they were doing was right and that they were superior. But why weren’t Jews used as combatants? The answer is very simple, why would you, after being oppressed by a country, humiliated and put in the same condition as an animal, would you fight on their side? And so we get back to why a war happens and how it stands. The Anime neither tries nor seeks to explain the reason why the 86 fight and defend the republic, because exactly as stated above there is no reason for that.
And that brings us to the third and final pillar “What makes someone a human?”, a simple question that follows us through all 11 episodes: “Why is Lena treated like a human being while Shin is treated like an animal?”. And again, the author’s inability to guide a story is evident. Not only does it bring the vision of only two people but forgets all existing context/ where are the other countries? Who created the Legion? Who has ever been annihilated by the Legion? Were they all people? Or were they all animals like the 86? The anime through Lena tries to make us create a feeling of compassion for the 86 and not only that, but it ends up giving us the same feeling that is seen in the republic. Instead of making us think about how everyone who is presented in this universe are human, the anime guides us to the reverse of Nazism, where we came to believe that all but the 86 (And obviously Lena) are the evil to be eradicated. And this is a big problem, because, all the time, the feeling of superiority is shifted in favor of the “Weak”, in favor of the “Oppressed” and, by that, we start doing exactly like those we despised and just repeating their actions.
The characters in 86 are another disappointment. In fact, we have two characters while the others are used to reinforce the anime’s weird theses. In one hand, we have the major fighting against discriminatory thoughts practiced by the Albas. In the other hand, our typical protagonist, codenamed Undertaker, someone cold, centered, ruthless and skillful, who despite all the characteristics listed above has a past that haunts him daily. All the other characters are the anime’s frustrated attempt to make us believe in its plot. Lena’s uncle has only one function, to make racism, illogical speeches that contest the Democratic ideology that his niece has, all with the intention of causing even more hatred of the listeners against the oppressor. On the completely opposite side we have all the other 86. Their function? In this case we have 2: the first one is dying anyway in order to cause the shock and the feeling that no one is immortal and that war does not choose who kills, even thought the episodes show the complete opposite, war does not only choose who will die, but also, the moment when death will occur in order to “impact”. The second function is pure fan service. We see that after the battle they are just kids who were forced to fight, who have tastes, interests and passions giving that false impression of “Wow they’re just teenagers like me”, while, at other times, mostly after battles with fatalities, we do not see feelings of loss. There is such a big discrepancy between “The normal teenagers” and “The pilots of the juggernauts” what could be explained with the influence of Alba’s thought in their heads, but which is totally abandoned by the work that continues to tread the same path of a meaningless cycle of hate. And this is something that we often see in various media, where the is only perpetuated if nothing is done. The best example is the obvious and clear inspiration of Nazism in history, where the Jews, even going through everything that passed on, understood that the Germans, due to the aftermath of the first war, were just weak-minded people incapable of thinking for themselves.
I’m not the best person to judge 86’s direction since I haven’t read the light novel, but what I can comment on is its decline in the early episodes. In the first episode, it’s brilliantly done delivering some of the information in dialogue and even visually, which is the role of a director. From that point on, he apparently forgot everything he has learned in life and ends up doing an extremely deficient job and largely focusing on elements that are totally unnecessary for the progress of the story. I don’t know if the director just followed the author’s text in a linear way, but if he did, the blame continues to fall on his shoulders. The animation and design are lazy and simplistic, and it doesn’t just extend to the fights and faces of the characters. It extends through the environments, the battles and the place where they happen always look the same, giving that feeling of “I didn’t just watch this episode?”. There is no visual progress, with the exception of the final stretch of the anime. The soundtrack, despite not being to my liking, fulfills its role. Its real problem is the bad way it fits, especially in the parts where it should be emotional or melancholy, where everything seems to be the same moment, where completely different songs look the same because they are always used in the same order Before–> Battle –> After, which makes the composer’s work useless.
86 is an example of how a story should NOT be guided, from characters who just fill the screen, Of totally artificial relations between Lena and everyone else in the anime, to the misuse of racial discrimination in every possible way. Unlike other stories or the History itself, 86 leaves a stupid legacy, being just another work that tried to generate some moral debate. A war anime in which the author himself does not know the reason for what happens in that world. A shame and complete disregard for the racial discrimination experienced by countless people.
7: Nomad: Megalo Box 2
Japanese: NOMAD メガロボクス2
MAL Score: 8.22
Megalo Box is an advanced form of boxing where competitors wear metal frames called Gear. When the first ever Megalonia tournament took place, “Gearless” Joe became its champion and known to all as a legendary fighter. However, soon after, he lost an exhibition match against the second champion and vanished from the public eye.
Seven years later, Joe now goes by “Nomad” and keeps a low profile, occasionally fighting in a few underground matches to get by. He is haunted by hallucinations and relies on a set of painkillers to numb his mind.
During a match, Joe wins against an opponent, Chief, who purposefully loses for some extra cash from gamblers. Subsequently, Joe discovers that Chief is from a community of immigrants called the Casa. Chief is gradually trying to make enough money to purchase the land where they live illegally. At first, Joe hesitates to get involved, but eventually decides to lend the Casa a helping hand.
Hummingbird: Will you listen to my song, Nomad? I’m in a hurry, ask someone else.
But the Hummingbird just won’t give up and pursued the Nomad.
Hummingbird: Please, I must sing my song.
Nomad: You’re rather selfish. Sorry, but I’ m just not in the mood. I’m on a journey to die.
Hummingbird: But that’s ridiculous. Who goes on a journey to die?
Nomad: It’s the truth. Why would I bother lying before I die?
But the hummingbird refused to give up.
Hummingbird: Then how about this? If I can make you lie, listen to my song. If I fail to do so, I will say no more.
Wanting to be freed from the persistent pest, the Nomad agreed.
Hummingbird: Why do you want to die?
Nomad: Because I lost everything.
Hummingbird: That’s a lie.
Nomad: But it’s not a lie. I lost my home, my fortune…and my family died from illness. I’ve got nothing left.
Hummingbird: No, you still have eyes to see me and ears to hear my song. You even have a mouth to speak to me.
Nomad: Yes, you’re right.
Though they felt that they had been duped, the Nomad admitted defeat.
Nomad: All right, I lose.
The Nomad didn’t want any more trouble, and stopped to hear the Hummingbird’s song. The voice was so beautiful that it filled the Nomad’s empty heart with a gentle warmth just for a moment.
After it had finished its song, the Hummingbird flew towards the ray of sunlight that was peeking through the clouds.”
– The Hummingbird and the Nomad (Storybook)
Redemption. The most successful and decorated Olympian of all time, Michael “Flying Fish” Phelps, sums the one word this way: “Perseverance, determination, commitment, and courage-those things are real. The desire for redemption drives you.”
Going back to Megalo Box, the prequel being a creation and a homage to the 50th anniversary of Ashita no Joe a.k.a Tomorrow’s Joe, was a fun watch when the anime first debuted in Spring 2018, but quickly faded into obscurity for it being like a stereotypical Shounen anime where the underdog fights his way through all the underground boxing ring matches, to then rise up and be a formidable foe. Even I’ll admit that going back to Season 1 now, just feels like the re-watch has made the experience much worse and a slog to finish this “boxing” anime.
But the sequel here, dubbed Megalo Box 2: Nomad? NOW THIS IS A 100% GAME CHANGER of anything but everything that we haven’t yet seen before. And apparently the production team behind the prequel also thought of it the exact same way with director You Moriyama, whom producer Minako Fujiyoshi had to convince him to do so, thinking that the prequel by itself is an open-and-shut case. Rather than make yet another season of staying with the whole “tribute to the past” thingie-a-bob (which was what attributed to the less-than-stellar feedback in both Japan and the West at the time), the staff team scrapped that idea, and went for a more mature theme that displays the post events of Gearless Joe in a long timeskip of 7 years, where everyone has matured and Joe’s fall from grace as a depressed adult post-Megalonia. Instead of sticking to the same “Ashita no Joe” guns that bullets could crack for its own niche, the production staff team went for a more independent work which incoporates real-life societal issues, while still following Joe as he travels from place to place, while simultaneously not being able to move on from his past friends and rivals. AND BOY DOES IT SHOW, I’d say this change greatly increased the impact that boxing anime fans have been craving for the longest time.
If anything, this Nomad sequel proves one crucial thing that is missing from the prequel: character development IS KING, neither the boxing matches (though since this is a boxing anime at its core, it has to be there) nor the impact of wins or losses. As such, Nomad starts out differently than your average sequel, giving it the vibe sense that the world of the past is present, but you cannot always look back to your glory days and make the same results again. And that’s Gearless Joe’s re-account of his mature life being the Nomad: the one who wanders around with no goal in sight.
Need I mention that Nomad itself is more complex (as foreshadowed by the production team), but still reigniting the same flame of nostalgia? Because that is what it is: the Gearless Joe is not the same Gearless Joe 7 years later, and has largely kept to a low-profile state after losing out to Yuri’s young successor Edison Liu, leading to his recluse life under painkiller drugs and earning money from his old ways of underground boxing matches. If you’re wondering why I’d mention a “nonsensical” story in the beginning of this review, “The Nomad and the Hummingbird” is essentially the mature-but-depressed and delusional Joe’s road from cradle to death, then riding the road to redemption, and it is a crucial pointer in the progression of the sequel. Through the same-old and new characters that are like character arcs in and of itself (and outstanding ones at that), these people will teach Joe the meaning of life, and what it meant by getting through all the trouble of being an outcast and making the most out of the new life, setting new goals, objectives and aspirations for the future. Seriously though, never have I been so captivated by a character-centric story so jarring, yet is intensely intriguing and hits at the heartstrings like a solemn foreign song played on the guitar. You can never find a better original story like this that is done through much of the production staff team’s back-and-forth multiple discussions about the new Gearless Joe and his mature characterization, but fix as much as they can it did to give it an edge that I can say, is on a much higher pedestal than any typical “underdog to champion” fame kind of boxing show.
Mature being the theme of Nomad, and of course, with such a huge timeskip, Joe and the kids of Team Nowhere have matured A WHOLE LOT. We all know what happened to Joe, but in the course of events, his manager-cum-coach Nanbu…shall I say, had some life complications to the point that Sachio and crew thought that Joe was solely at fault when he “abandoned” them for his own gain when going against the former No. 1’s student successor (Edison Liu). Needless to say, all of that was a recipe for disaster, as the tables had drastically turned on Joe: the loss of his Megalonia “champion” status, and Sachio with the Team Nowhere kids exiting Joe’s life thereafter. 7 years later, everyone obviously grows up, but Joe’s fame got so much on his head that the loss subjected him to post-natal depression. Overtime, the new characters Chief (an Afro-Latino immigrant) and Mac “The Hero” Rosario (brought in as the new technological face of boxing Gear) encounters Joe, fights him, and teaches each other about what their human values are worth fighting for, hence the symbolism of “The Nomad and the Hummingbird”, which explicitly interchanges the roles between the three Megaloboxers (once in each character arc), educating them and edifying the meaning of “coming home to the family”. Even if all is lost, your family will still be right beside you, even through the course of life and death. And you know that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE symbolisms in shows, and Nomad does an outstanding job at reading between the lines when it comes to characterization of the tightly packed and immaculate kind.
TMS Entertainment is back to produce this show (without the help of its subsidary 3xCube which also produced the classic Ashita no Joe), but this time, the old-school style animation is largely improved for the better. Even Joe’s VA Yoshimasa Hosoya was surprised at the improved animation, and quote-unquote “was surprised by the improved animation which he felt to be more fit of a movie rather than a TV series”. Season 1 wasn’t bad, but the asinine tight production schedule, other than the tribute of sampling full HD to old 480p visuals, made it truly stand out in its time. Season 2 here is largely more of the same, though I’d guess that 3 years of production development is more than enough time to make this sequel work its legs to kick out wonders. It is an unique mold, all on its own.
Even the music by famed composer mabanua is back with more of the same-old, old-school style instrumentals, but incorporating with Mexican-Spanish themes. Such as the OP “The theme of the Nomad” which is meant to sound like a glorification of Gearless Joe’s better days in mono, to the Latin-American ED “El Canto del Colibrí” (translated as “The Hummingbird’s Song”) in full Spanish Tejano “folk” style music, meant as a song of the hummingbird, seen as a messenger of the gods used to convey good and peaceful thoughts to kin about their loved ones, dead or alive. And even as much as I miss LEO Imai’s hyper OP “Bite” of the prequel, this narrative shift of a sequel does not need all the barking and biting hype, and settles for the comtemporaries to add the classic punch to the impact.
Overall, it’s insane to see a famed sequel like Megalo Box 2: Nomad, be so shunned by the community, because other than it being a vastly superior sequel, it can also be taken in as an independent work all by itself. Providing the fact that you have to bear through the decent prequel to get to this sequel, I can safely tell you that the wait is worth the trouble.
Este es un Anime Excepcional Secuela! Realmenté excellenté.
Indeed, Megalo Box getting a second season almost feels like a miracle. Joe has been established as a character with integrity but also one we came to understand and relate to. From this season, we see a change in his character, including his name. Now going by the name ‘Nomad’, the first episodes explores his psychological state of mind and how he lives his new life. Taking place roughly 7 years since the first season, we see Joe living his life not with luxury but one who tries to get by everyday, almost like a survivor. He relies on painkillers that translates into a sort of dangerous addiction. This self-destructive behavior shows that Joe has a hard time letting his past go. The painkillers he takes feeds on his mind to forget, even if it’s damn impossible.
And that’s the beauty about Nomad: Megalo Box 2. This show is so much more than about throwing punches in a ring. We start off this season with heavy drama that deals with sensitive topics in the sports competitive world. Let’s also not forget that despite Joe trying to keep a low profile to himself, he still possess competitive skills in the ring. Sure, he may not be at his prime but Joe hasn’t lost his touch either. From the first few episodes, we also meet Chief, a character who inspires Joe to once again rise up and be himself. It’s not until a life changing event later when Joe decides to truly move on from his past. Chief represents the source of power that Joe needed this season. He’s been running from his past and if it wasn’t for Chief, his future would be grim, perhaps even nonexistent. For this season, it gave us a deep dive into Joe’s psychological mind, about how he’s been dealing with Nanbu’s death, and how he moves on. Joe’s worst enemy is himself and it’s important to see how manages to defeat it.
Joe isn’t the only character who underwent changes. One of the more prominent characters who underwent a character change is Sachio, a young boy who has now grown up as a teenager also getting involved as a Megaloboxer. But no mistake, he isn’t as skilled as Joe, Yuri, or any other of the elite fighters. More importantly is his feelings towards Joe and how he seem him this season. Other important characters making their appearances includes Edision Liu, a man who wants to prove himself and to Joe that he is a true Megaloboxer. On the other hand, we also meet Mac, a Megaloboxer who draws in some parallel similarities to Joe in his quest of redemption. The season even goes through his past life and how he became where he is in he present time. Even more interesting is how we see technology can influence a person’s life, most noticably Mac. You have to know that fighting in a ring with a robotic arm and gears has its risks. This season turns up to the 11 when we realize the real consequences, with Mac being the perfect example of telling and showing.
If you believe in this show to succeed, you’re going to need some patience especially with the story pacing. The first half of this sequel is more about Joe’s personal recovery from his past and move on with his life. The second half draws in more about the boxing world’s truths and consequences. It also sets up for a mega confrontation between perhaps two of the series’ biggest names: Joe and Mac. The latter is a character that isn’t easy to accept at first but over time, the show truly wants us to understand his character. And indeed, Mac’s personality and characterization gives us a deeper insight not just about him but also the Megalo Box world. How can we ever forget the dystopian society that differs so greatly between the wealthy and the poor? When I came into this season, I knew this show would do a lot more than just show us a memorable boxing match.
Similar to the previous season, we got the crude yet aesthetic art style we were familiar with. The most memorable quality relies on Joe’s physical features, showing his longer, dirtier hair. His character expressions were also more depressed until he meets Chief. Speaking of which, Chief himself shows traits of a leader and mentor. His general composition and personality is reflected in his expressive dialogues. To say the least, we managed to get a very human story with characters driven by certain ambitions. As with a sci-fi dystopia, the technology in this show has both a simple yet complex way of selling its product. The robotics and technology adds credibility to the unique style of Megalo Boxing. Every move in that ring shows what the capability of such technology in this timeline and by no understatement, it’s a sight to remember. The director and producers managed to truthfully animate this season with a goal in mind and that goal was achieved.
Megalo Box may seem like a simple sci-fi sports drama show at first but it proves itself to be a complex storyteller. From the deep character development of Joe/Nomad to the storytelling of Mac, it shows how people can change or influenced by certain people or events. This season may not be very easy to jump into at first but you won’t regret taking that step to live the dream again.
Nomad takes the cheerful conclusion of the first season and throws it down the gutter. Gearless Joe. A man who had reached his peak early in life, is left stumbling into a downward spiral. What’s left after a few years is a lone man with nothing. Wandering on without a destination. Getting money the only way he knows how. A stray dog now more than ever before.
A continuation of a story whose ending, albeit not perfect, felt complete, could very well have been just a way to milk a pre-existing series dry. But I was glad to see that wasn’t the case here. Nomad doesn’t use the first season as a crutch, but as a foundation to build off of.
The uplifting nature of season one is replaced with a much more somber tone. Joe who had previously been fighting for his future, now fights to handle the pain of his past. It’s in stark contrast to where we last saw him in his life, but not a bad direction to take his character. Of the whole first season’s cast, he was definitely one of the least interesting ones. He’s a blatant representation of an underdog and works as an inspiration to seize your future with your own hands. He was pretty much just a caricature, and the show was more or less carried by the people around him. But without the urgency of a massive tournament, this season had more room to develop him and the rest of the cast. Taking what we already knew and expanding upon it.
This is where Nomad truly shines greater than its predecessor. It’s not tied down by a destination and has the freedom to explore its cast to the fullest of its runtime. Resulting with the characters having an added sense of realism and complexity to them. While also staying true to how they behaved in the past. But with this freedom comes a paper-thin narrative. Nomad is very much just about exploring the characters as they find their way of life and where they belong. At the start of the show, Joe had lost his former home. Much like a nomad he travels around. Stuck in his past guilt, unable to move forward in his life. Throughout the show there’s a wide usage of the hummingbird as a symbol for guidance. The one who sets Joe on the right path again, a man named Chief, wears this symbol as pride of his nationality. It’s not symbolism at its most subtle. But ties naturally into the story itself and gives meaning to it.
But only if you had a positive outlook on the first season and especially the characters, will any of this mean anything to you. The lack of an overarching story means that your enjoyment will be largely dependent on your perception of the cast, even more so than in season one. However, even with the looser structure, the identity of Megalo Box is very much still present.
If the first season’s distinct artstyle and stellar soundtrack was enough to grind your gears then you’ll find that Nomad still has that in spades. Visually pretty much identical to where we left off. The same grit and rawness is still present in the artwork, with good use of lighting and shot composition. Animation is still packing the same punch as what we were given in season one. The fights are bloody and the punches have a strong sense of weight to them. Meanwhile the music is yet again made by mabanua. Giving us beats with an attitude, getting the blood pumping and ready for action. But has a much stronger hispanic influence in its identity this time around. The music also isn’t afraid to leave it’s upbeat focus to congregate with the otherwise pretty dismal tone of this season.
Nomad was an unneeded follow-up to a show that’s been falling into obscurity. But one that left the series on a higher note that it previously had done. Delivering on more of the series strengths as well as improving on some of its more sour apples. With characters that are more empathizable, and themes one can easily relate to. This installment is definitely an underdog, and it’s a shame this won’t get the amount of attention that it deserves. But thanks to the ones who’ll follow through. The story of Joe is not dead yet.
6: Tokyo Revengers
English: Tokyo Revengers
MAL Score: 8.32
Takemichi Hanagaki’s second year of middle school was the highest point in his life. He had respect, a gang of friends he could count on, and even a girlfriend. But that was twelve years ago. Today, he’s a nobody: a washed-up nonentity made fun of by children and always forced to apologize to his younger boss. A sudden news report on the Tokyo Manji Gang’s cruel murder of the only girlfriend he ever had alongside her brother only adds insult to injury. Half a second before a train ends his pitiful life for good, Takemichi flashes back to that same day twelve years ago, when he was still dating Hinata Tachibana.
After being forced to relive the very same day that began his downward spiral, Takemichi meets Hinata’s younger brother. Without thinking, he admits to his seeming death before flashing back to the past. Takemichi urges him to protect his sister before inexplicably returning to the future. Miraculously, he isn’t dead. Stranger still, the future has changed. It seems as though Takemichi can alter the flow of time. Given the chance to prevent his ex-girlfriend’s tragic death at the hands of the Tokyo Manji Gang, Takemichi decides to fly through time to change the course of the future.
It is a fact that watching TR can be a bit frustrating at times, with its endlessly slow pace of development, musclebrain characters that are only full of punches, an exaggerated fight filled with bloody spurts, and the poorly excused plot just because it needs to. Can TR still be considered as a good series in the end? My answer would still be yes, it is.
As a newcomer to the time-traveling genre, TR manages to present itself as a brand new story with a fresh foundation. It doesn’t follow all its predecessors as it comes up with its brand new setting and premise. While it can be a bit more unrealistic at times, the series still manages to pull it off fairly well despite the odds. The story tells you the journey of one pathetic adult who tries to reclaim his long-lost regrets and undo that accursed past tragedy in his life.
First thing first, the battle of the throne is viewed from Takemichi perspective. He is your typical cowardly grown-up adult who is a loser in life. A weak guy who cries at everything and there is nothing special about him that makes him loveable at all. Worse, it can be a bit unbearable to see that every fight will leave him all black and blue. But if there are one or two things that make him different from the rest, then it is his strong willpower and effort to make things change for the better. As the series progresses, we can notice that there is this one lone fighter who keeps standing up against all adversaries, no matter how beaten up he gets. He refused to give up and kept fighting while carrying those heavy responsibilities and burdens. For sure, he is not the brightest bulb when it comes to fighting or figuring things out, but his effort and willpower alone are second to none. And before we know it, our gaze is simply attracted to him. A guy who simply yearns for his long-lost loved one. As he struggled and sacrificed everything, again and again, to reach the happiest end, this is the story of the fall-and-rise of Takemichi. It is the main drive that makes me fall in love with this series. As they say, when one struggles in life, it is always a treat for the eyes.
Although the pace and development of TR can be as slow as a turtle, it is more than rewarding once you have finished it. As it keeps getting more exciting as each episode passes by, the fights also begin to be more vicious than ever. But fret not, as it will always keep you on edge because the TR world can be a bit more demanding than your typical wholesome shounen story. Not to mention that the TR hype and gang wars feel way too real. It is so good to the point that it makes us yearn for more. And if there is one thing that TR doesn’t lack, then it is its character development and growth. Here and there, you can see that every single one of them has grown quite considerably by the end of the series. And the relationship that they had with each other was beautiful enough to make one envious. There are times when you can simply smile or laugh because of the funny yet cute character interactions, and there are also times when you will cry and sob just because of how sad it was. It was a fun and loveable relationship. But unfortunately, not even these qualities managed to stop the fall and demise of TR. That is none other than the bad art and poorly animated animations that make it worse. It is atrocious enough to the point that not even Ghibli, Toei, or Mappa studios can save it from its falling grace. As much as I hate to say this, it is one of the biggest shortcomings in TR.
And certainly, TR might not be a perfect masterpiece of gems, but that doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable show for you to enjoy. Do expect some edgy and cringe lines here and there, as it merely does its role to spice up things for an action series. Yet surprisingly, almost all of the characters are very charming, and the plot itself keeps us tightly invested till the end. Honestly, I think it wouldn’t be fair for you to outright dismiss the series’ charm points, just because of the character who acts like a kid or a random stupid character in general. A friendly reminder that it always takes a lot of life experience to be mature. And sometimes, being an adult doesn’t necessarily mean becoming more experienced in life struggles. Hence, this is what makes TR more interesting. As it isn’t just there for the fight, but rather, to depict the struggle of Takemichi ever-changing life for the better. And the future happiness that is awaiting him at the end of the tunnel is more than enough. Personally, there is that one scene in TR that managed to make me tear up, and I’d say it was a great treat for making me so emotional. And in the end, TR manages to flourish through all of its flaws with its distinctive characters and never-ending bombing action scenes.
The dictionary tells us déjà vu is an unpleasantly familiar feeling. That’s exactly what Tokyo Revengers makes me feel. It is the latest in a string of mediocre shounen manga adaptations overhyped beyond belief. Albeit, this one has a unique premise. Two middle school gangs wrapped in a turf war lead to the murder of our hero’s one true love. Takamichi is a deadbeat 26-year-old with no future. After finding out his middle school crush died in a car crash, he chooses to challenge fate.
Mysteriously, Takamichi is granted the power to time travel to a fixed period, 12 years ago. Upon reaching the past, he collides with two angsty teens playing dress-up as gangbangers: Mikey and Draken. The President and vice president of the leading gang responsible for his ex-girlfriend’s death. There are two sides to the middle school turf war—Tokyo Manji Gang, a band of tough-as-nails bikers who value loyalty and honesty above all else. Secondly, the Black Dragons, known for their belligerent behavior.
After his first foray into the past, Takamichi is sent back to the future™, where his life has suspiciously continued. He finds out his alterations in the past carry over in the present, such as a new scar on his hand. How the time travel mechanics work in Tokyo Revengers is left up to our imaginations. Don’t expect Steins;Gate-level scientific explanations. There’s barely any logical consistency, and that’s the bare minimum. To travel between time periods, Takamichy has to do something rather unexpected… he must shake hands with the brother of his deceased girlfriend, Naoto. When he returns to the future, the past Takamichi does not recall anything that happened. While Takamichi is in the past, he is shown sleeping in the future upon his return. Other times he reappears at different locations doing mundane daily activities. He is unable to remember anything that happened in the present, or even if the time between past and present are an exact twelve years. Does the past Takamichi inhabit the mind of the present one? The time skips are a large oversight that open numerous questions. It is better to NOT think about how it works.
The death of Naoto’s sister Hinata inspired him to seek justice alongside Takamichi. Since he is a police officer, he’s able to connect with criminals and acquire helpful intel. His purpose in the story is primarily as a tool to assist Takamichi. Secondly, to motivate him to keep fighting. Someone has to be there to put him back together after he has another emotional breakdown. Speaking of which, this guy cries a lot—even more than Deku in My Hero Academia’s first season. Takamichi makes any potential investment in the show a difficult task. He is the kind of kid who gets his lunch money stolen, beaten up, and shoved in a locker on the same day. Rather than coming up with rational solutions, he gets his ass kicked, cries, and blames himself until the problem goes away. The times he stands up for himself are few and far between. My issue isn’t that he is weak or emotional. Those traits can make great protagonists. Rather than intervening, he is usually a helpless bystander—this defeats the purpose of traveling back in time. To prevent the gang’s corruption and Hinata’s death, he must attempt to follow the plan. The anime only adapted two out of the five arcs, so Takamichi has time to redeem himself—if you’re willing to struggle through an additional 24 mediocre episodes. This man is 26 years old, yet 15-year-olds constantly outsmart him. Although he knows what will happen in the future, he only uses that information to say, “Hey, look, I remember that guy from the last episode!”
Though he grows to care about the Tokyo Meji gang members, he is driven to save Hinata, but what kind of character does that make her? A damsel in distress? Not quite. She is used to move the plot forward. She exists to add stakes, not to be a nuanced character. Except, the writers forgot to develop her. The occasional romantic moments between Hinata and Takamichi (in the body of a teen) come off as concerning. It’s not nearly as creepy as Mushoku Tensei’s pedophilic romance, but it’s not as harmless as the delightful friendship in Erased. Despite having so much importance in the plot, Hinata has the least screentime out of every main character. This issue extends to everyone; they’re thinly drawn aside from a few backstories to give us an explanation of the gang’s origins. Draken and Mikey are two of my favorite characters in the show. Draken has intriguing reasons for staying by Mikey’s side and wanting to protect him. Mikey is a loose cannon because of traumatic experiences the show touches on in the latter half. I wanted to see more of them, unfortunately, their characterization was forgone in favor of uninteresting plot development. Ultimately Tokyo Revenger’s strongest point of writing was its wild Jojo’s-esque characters, but begrudgingly it is a plot-driven story.
I’m thankful the anime’s tone stays pretty consistent. There’s no misplaced comedy to worry about, unlike Demon Slayer and its contemporaries. If anything, Tokyo Revengers can create a tense atmosphere; dramatic orchestral music plays during emotional moments and guitar riffs during tense confrontations. Dr. Stone’s excellent soundtrack was composed by the same musician… but the similarities are a little too plentiful. There’s not enough nuance to Tokyo Revengers’ OST. Frankly, it lacks a distinct or memorable identity and is another annoying source of déjà vu. The use of foley combined soundtrack is what makes the fights feel impactful. The squelching of a goon getting slugged sounds fittingly visceral. Thankfully the sound effect enhances the atmosphere, and the art certainly doesn’t help. This anime looks like it was created in 2005 and sent to the future along with Takamichi. Even up close, the characters’ facial proportions appear poorly drawn. Whenever there’s a group of people on screen, they’ll surely look hilariously deformed. If you’re familiar with studio LIDENFILMS, you’ll recognize their work. They cut corners as often as possible.
For a show that strives to be believable, its characters feel like they’re forcing themselves to be dramatic. The gang members have superhuman strength that’d make them more suited to Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. It’s difficult to suspend my disbelief when a 15-year-old takes down a guy twice his size with one kick. Their hyperbolic personalities fit their young age, but middle school students look much more youthful than these guys. It’s not like they are living in the inner city. Unless the screenwriters cut out background details, they seem privileged enough. It’s jarring and a little cringe-worthy to see them put on tough-guy appearances. The voice actors do a decent job of conveying the faux machismo of each middle school boy (most of which look and sound like they’re 25 years old). The way they take themselves so seriously comes off as unintentionally funny at times.
Seeing the dozens of middle schoolers rumbling in the streets of suburban Japan constantly made me wonder: Where the hell are their parents? Does no one see these kids are trying to kill each other? Evidently, there is no one in this universe except for children. There are no parents, no police, not even an ambulance to pick up the kids bleeding onto the street. Excluding Takamichi’s family makes him less relatable and believable. Do his parents not care that he comes home bruised and beaten every night? If they do, show us more.
I was initially enticed by the idea of going back in time to save your friends from a life of crime, despair, and early untimely death. The author and I did not see eye to eye. A little under half of the show is spent on childish playground brawls following a vast array of thinly written juvenile gangbangers. No doubt the complete lack of animation is to blame for the unengaging Bloody Halloween arc.
Tokyo Revengers is a shallow take on urban gang wars with a convoluted time travel premise tacked on. This adaptation of a multimillion-dollar franchise has the unbelievable audacity to look like it was animated on a shoe-string budget in 2005. There’s nothing this anime does almost everything worse than the crowd of shounen manga adaptations. It’s so utterly unremarkable, badly paced, and ugly that I couldn’t help but feel déjà vu
Fans of shounen anime do themselves and their favorite new seasonal show a huge disservice when they label it as being “different” or unique, because when this ignorant praise catches the attention of anyone who has seen more than a few dozen anime, those people are immediately disappointed the second they see it. It’s often said the worst thing you can do to a series is overhype it, because when it inevitably turns out to be utterly mediocre, it won’t meet anyone’s expectations. Tokyo Revengers is not only unexceptional, but it’s painfully generic and boring as sin, and since its production values are shoddy as shit, you’ll never be able to pull a Demon Slayer and use cool fights to excuse bad writing, because it usually just looks like garbage. Nothing about its plot or characters can stand up to other shows in the same genre which outdo it in every way, because there are better anime with delinquents, time travel, or somewhat retro designs. The character designs are not only hideous, but they just don’t make any sense. Our twenty six year old protagonist looks no different than his middle school self, and his middle school peers look twice as old as he did when he was twenty six. And, yes. I didn’t mean to so quickly brush past something that ridiculous, but this really is a show about time traveling middle-school delinquents.
If you’ve hung around the anime community long enough, you should be quite familiar with the wannabe intellectuals who’ve taken upon themselves a mighty crusade against shows like Steins;Gate which they deem to be less intelligent than the average viewers does. I use Steins:Gate as an example because it’s about time travel, and shows about time travel are the number one target for people like this because, just in case you didn’t know, time travel doesn’t actually exists in real life. With enough theoretical pseudoscience on their side, your average keyboard warrior can dismantle even the most carefully constructed piece of fiction centered around time travel. The planning of Steins;Gate is shockingly thorough, and the concepts it uses to excuse its scientific elements which may not make perfect sense in real life is seriously well-researched, but since it is ultimately grounded in theory, anyone with enough contrarian spirit shouldn’t have too much trouble poking holes in its plot. Tokyo Revengers makes this effort look like a complete joke. The series makes no attempt to be logically comprehensive or take into account the timeline or butterfly effect, and when it first introduced its time travel mechanics, I could’ve sworn it was trying to be funny and parody Erased. But no. It’s actually taking itself seriously, and that’s fucking sad.
It’s quite a common thing to complain about whinny, wimpy protagonists in anime. From the classics like Shinji Ikari to the modern horrors like Izuku Midoriya, anime made for teenage boys is filled to the brim with crybaby losers who you just want to shut up and do the thing, but in the case of shows which are actually well-written, the main character’s awful attitude is typically corrected, and they soon learn to grow up. The show which immediately comes to my mind when talking about this is Eureka Seven. Renton Thurston was universally hated at the time that show was airing, and to this day, people are still getting fed up with his bullshit and dropping that show early on. However, Renton undergoes an incredible character arc in that show, and by the end, he is a truly capable, respectable young man. I would argue Eureka Seven is still a bad show for different reasons, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is: character development makes a story worthwhile. In Tokyo Revengers, any praiseworthiness shown by Takemichi is impermanent. It’s an anime based on an incomplete shounen manga which is built to go on forever, getting dragged out until people stop buying it, and while I’m sure it’ll end with Takemichi being somewhat less of a pathetic pussy, that is not the case by the end of these torturous twenty four episodes.
The setting, despite being the real world, is absurd. I’m not the first person to point this out, but nobody looks or acts like they’re realistically supposed to. These kids are supposed to be fourteen years old, and yet they look and act like professional mobsters. Anime is notorious for never showing parents, but this show takes that meme to the next level. Both the teachers and the police are presented—if at all—as being completely unable to stop a bunch of little boys from wrecking havoc. Remember how the setting of Kill la Kill was built around satirizing highschool anime, and how the students ran the city whilst the adults operated completely at the behest of the student council? At times, this show feels like that, only it’s not satire. It takes itself 100% seriously and expects you to do the same. Any attempt to make the story feel grounded is squandered by the characters’ goofy costumes, haircuts, and tattoos, and any attempt at high-stakes drama is laughable. The Power of Friendship; Talk no Jutsu; using Kirito’s “sheer willpower” to overcome the impossible; constant deus ex machina; WAITING FOR YOUR DYING FRIEND TO FINISH MONOLOGUING INSTEAD OF CALLING A FUCKING AMBULANCE; this series contains every awful shounen trope you can imagine, and watching it all unfold is as cringeworthy as you can imagine.
Thank you for reading.
5: Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu
English: Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation
Japanese: 無職転生 ～異世界行ったら本気だす～
MAL Score: 8.36
Despite being bullied, scorned, and oppressed all of his life, a thirty-four-year-old shut-in still found the resolve to attempt something heroic—only for it to end in a tragic accident. But in a twist of fate, he awakens in another world as Rudeus Greyrat, starting life again as a baby born to two loving parents.
Preserving his memories and knowledge from his previous life, Rudeus quickly adapts to his new environment. With the mind of a grown adult, he starts to display magical talent that exceeds all expectations, honing his skill with the help of a mage named Roxy Migurdia. Rudeus learns swordplay from his father, Paul, and meets Sylphiette, a girl his age who quickly becomes his closest friend.
As Rudeus’ second chance at life begins, he tries to make the most of his new opportunity while conquering his traumatic past. And perhaps, one day, he may find the one thing he could not find in his old world—love.
Al: I loved Mushoku Tensei. I understand why they call it the pioneer of the isekai genre. Nowadays, every isekai anime uses the same tropes, but this show did them purposefully, complimenting the story in the process. It boasted stunning animation, a great soundtrack, and a sprawling fantasy setting rich with lore. What’d you think, Panda?
Panda: I agree the production values are top-notch. In my opinion, Mushoku Tensei has all of the trappings of a typical JRPG inspired fantasy, except with a repulsive, openly pedophilic main character. A random loser died and got reincarnated as a child, except his old consciousness is always present—it’s a seemingly ordinary show until an adult child predator’s voice starts narrating. On top of that, it’s another wish-fulfillment isekai, even though it’s not as apparent as most modern power fantasy anime. It seems different because it was written before all these tropes were done to death. Every season for the last six years, there have been dozens of ‘ironic’ and ‘satirical’ power fantasies. They don’t bother pretending like they’re not harems with overpowered protagonists. This story is different because it does the tropes, but without a veil of irony.
Al: Rudeus works for his powers, unlike most isekai heroes. He reads books, practices his spell casting, and works on his sword-fighting technique. It’s not like he was reborn as a god. There are plenty of times he is too weak to win a fight. Of course, he is an imperfect main character; this is a redemption story. Including pedophilia is the author’s way of saying, if you can’t handle this kind of content, don’t continue.
Panda: This is the kind of show that makes anime fans look bad. It is riddled with degenerate fan service, unnecessary sexualization, and the pedophile main character spoils all the enjoyment. The excessive use of sex and nudity is meant for titillation. I only saw a generic isekai with the same as any ecchi anime—which is an excellent indicator of the target audience. None of this comes as a surprise, though. Apparently, the author was inspired by porn games, like Rance.
Al: To you, all nudity is excessive. If you weren’t so sensitive, you’d realize the anime has a nuanced portrayal of lust. Usually, anime don’t realistically express sexuality—panty shots, giant jiggly boobs. You know what I mean. But Mushoku Tensei realistically showcases genuine human desire, such as sex, longing, and masturbation. It’s honestly refreshing. There’s so much sex because of the time-period—people didn’t have phones or computers, sex was a way of occupying time. Members of royalty will boink maids in front of children because that’s how the culture was. It’s an essential part of every character’s life. The story is historically accurate with added fantasy components.
Panda: First of all, no. I like ecchi anime, one of my favorites is Interspecies Reviewers. Suppose Mushoku Tensei is “accurate” to the Middle Ages: Fantasy settings do not need to replicate every shitty aspect of the past. The author selected “perversion” as the thing he wanted to replicate. The only excuse is that he wished to keep it realistic? That’s lazy writing at best. The story doesn’t comment on why there is a constant perversion. It just is. The obvious answer is, men had more power than women, and consent was irrelevant to them. We see this with the strong male characters who lead the households, such as the fathers in the Greyrat family. They wield swords, sit at the end of the table, and have sex with whoever they want. Aside from that, there is nothing else historically accurate about it.
Al: You’re mistaken. When animating Mushoku Tensei, Studio Bind referenced art, technology, furniture, and decorations from the Middle Ages. The characters live in finely ornamented rooms. Households are accurately decorated depending on the family’s social status. Not only is this historically accurate, but it adds depth to the world-building.
Panda: All of these are great additions to the show—but that’s all they are. Extra coatings of paint to cover up the sleazy writing. There is a fine line between “How things used to be” and “How I wish things would be.” More often than not, Mushoku chooses the latter. Its lewd and lascivious portrayal of sexuality is in service of the male audience’s fantasies: A girl masturbating outside of the bedroom, the maid is horny for the father, the parents loudly bang every night, and chances to have sex constantly land in the main character’s lap. This world is a horny teenage boy’s wet dream. Rudeus IS the audience’s proxy, and he comes dangerously close to being a self-insert.
Al: Rudeus isn’t a self-insert. He is a believable and relatable character. His portrayal of PTSD is exceptionally realistic. During the show, he gets nightmares and flashbacks to getting bullied in high school. The flashbacks are well-directed, too: the music becomes foreboding, and the scene becomes saturated with a blood-red filter. It’s not like they happen at random times either. Whenever Rudeus reaches a turning point, such as leaving home and adjusting to his life as a teacher and setting out on a journey, his trauma resurfaces. If he’s under severe stress, mainly in the final arc, he’ll suddenly get thrown back to high school. Even though years have passed, he still experiences trauma because that’s how it works in reality. Society conditioned him to become a pervert by bulling him into becoming a shut-in.
Panda: I’ll admit I loved how well Mushoku Tensei portrayed trauma… in theory. Without a doubt, it is the most emotionally resonant aspect of the show. I could empathize with his severe anxiety, but he pre because he was a pedophile. It may have been society’s fault that he wasn’t offered therapy. However, I cannot sympathize with a pedophile. He is not a good guy. He will never be a good guy. Saying it’s “society’s fault” isn’t an excuse. Perversion is a behavior he can control with restraint.
Al: The show is about his redemption. The title is literally “Jobless Reincarnation” because he is redeeming himself in a second chance at life. He begins as a loser, who couldn’t care less about people. Then he becomes a more caring person—helping to keep his family together and even risking his life to save people. That’s why he makes nice friends like Sylphie. And he got a job to pay for both of them to go to magic school. He might be a pervert, but that’s the point. Plus, Rudeus is a lolicon, not a pedophile.
Panda: You’re somewhat correct, there is a difference, but within the story, Rudeus is attracted to actual children. Writing an inhuman piece of garbage like Rudy, developing him into a half-decent person, then expecting us to praise him for doing the bare minimum is shoddy writing. And he can’t even do that much! He preyed on family members in both his first and second life. Rudeus has the mind of a 40-year-old man, who 100% jacked off to child porn right before he died. Just because he threw himself in front of a truck to save a couple of kids doesn’t make him a better person. He needs to do work towards becoming a better person—and so far, it has been one step forward two steps back. Your description of his connections with family and friends are on point, except you’re missing parts. Rudeus admits that he wants to ‘groom’ Sylphie to be his wife, which involves taking her to school with him. On the outside, it seems like an act of kindness, but in reality he has sinister motivations.
Al: Rudeus has the body of a child. How could a child be a pedophile?
Panda: Hold the phone. Aren’t you always the one who argues that lolis are legal as long as they’re old enough? I could point to Rudeus’s teacher, Roxy, and say she looks like a child, and the show has its own built-in fantasy logic to make her older than she looks. By your reasoning, both of them are adults. What’s the difference?
Al: Rudeus didn’t have sex with her when she offered! She consented, and she’s older than him. He didn’t do anything illegal. You can’t say he’s a pedophile if he hasn’t done anything.
Panda: Even if what you said was true—which it isn’t—doing the bare minimum isn’t redemption. He is expected to save an innocent person’s life and does not have sex with a kid. It’s basic human decency! That’s not something to applaud! That aside, he didn’t even do the bare minimum. You twisted the truth. Rudeus groped Eris, a twelve-year-old girl, and tried to take off her panties while sleeping. He imagined having sex with her, and the only reason he didn’t is that she got away before he could go all the way. He was fully willing to molest her!
Al: Again, the story takes place in a fantasy realm during the Middle Ages; couples are encouraged to get married younger. Most fiction depicts morals based on the modern era, but that doesn’t mean EVERY story must ignore the realities of the past.
Panda: OK, you know why that’s a bullshit excuse, right? Rudeus came from our world, where we have a moral framework that says “Respect people’s bodily autonomy” and “Don’t be a fucking child predator.”
Al: You’re projecting your own morals onto a story that takes place in a different time and place. The only reason why you preach your moral purity like a saint is that you’re too narrow-minded to divide fiction from reality. As someone who has been consuming anime for years now, I am capable of keeping reality and fiction far apart.
Panda: Are all anime simply meaningless cartoons that can’t comment on real-world issues? I reject that. Fiction is a means of communicating thoughts, emotions, stories. Even if a work of fiction makes me feel ashamed or guilty, like Mushoku Tensei obviously makes you feel, I will never undermine an entire art form by saying, “It’s just fiction.” Have some balls, for God’s sake. If we generously assume the show is depicting real-world problems, it’s doing it poorly. Such as Rudeus’s pedophilia; the show endorses his actions. Even though he calls himself disgusting, there is no self-awareness. I doubt he will come to realize what he is and stop. Calling yourself ‘scum’ isn’t enough. He is like a fan of degenerate anime, such as Eromanga sensei, who says, “Anime is trash, and so am I.” There’s no nuance, it’s just presenting repulsive aspects for either shock or fetishization.
Al: Eventually, he will have consequences for his actions. This is part 1 of a 23 episode show. You’re judging it too hastily.
Panda: When? The only so-called “consequence” was him getting punched and kicked. The anime acknowledges Rudeus is a sick pedophile, then plays it off as a joke. In fact, it normalizes the pedophilic aspects. He refers to his cousin Eris as a little girl in most contexts because that’s what she is. But when he gets a chance to make a move in the bedroom, he creepily calls her ‘his’ loli. The term ‘loli’ usually refers to a specific type of anime girl character design. In the real world, you don’t call a little girl a loli. She is just a little girl. By calling her, a ‘loli’ separates Rudeus, and the audience, from any blame. This is the author’s way of saying is that you don’t need to feel shame for indulging in some sexual fantasies about prepubescent girls.
Al: You fundamentally misunderstand the point of the show. We’re not supposed to like Rudeus! Even in the synopsis, it says, “He’s a pervert.” What did you expect? Just because he’s an immoral person doesn’t make him a bad character.
Panda: You’re right, he is a pervert, and bad people aren’t necessarily severely written characters. Whether or not I like Rudeus is irrelevant to whether or not he’s a well-written character. What matters is: How does the story depict the ramifications of his negative choices? Does it condemn his actions or condone them? Does it focus on him or the person he hurt? In this case, he is always the focus. The other characters are unimportant—and even when they do have a chance to voice their discomfort, the scenes are full of low camera angles, leering shots, and dehumanizing close-ups on breasts, thighs. It boils down to “Haha, sexual assault,” rather than painting him in a negative light. Even the decent female characters, like Roxy, are treated as objects. After the first two episodes, she only appeared in brief clips where she was constantly getting molested.
Al: Have you ever thought you’re taking anime too seriously?
Panda: Have you ever thought that maybe you relate to Rudeus so much because you’re also a pedophile?
Al: Come on man, really?
Panda: Yeah, sorry that was uncalled for.
Al: We at least agree the show has amazing production values, right?
Panda: Absolutely. I loved seeing Rudeus and other mages cast their magic. I was shocked the author created a second language, and it didn’t sound like gibberish. The voice actors did their job well, and the music fits without issues. I didn’t like much about the characters, but there were some cool designs. It’s commendable that they never simplified the designs. When the production cut corners, towards the end, it still looked far better than most TV anime. The hand-to-hand combat and sword fights are choreographed professionally. Alright, 8 for animation, 8 for sound, and 3 for the story and characters. Overall score: 3/10
Al: Whoa, don’t you think that’s a little unfair? It deserves at least a 7.
Panda: Nope. This is my review, and I say it deserves a 3/10.
Al: Fine, whatever. Let’s just watch some more anime.
Panda: Let’s. As long as it’s not Mushoku Tensei.
This show could’ve done without the sexual scenes that took away from the beauty of a visually appealing and actually refreshing isekai. Even the law states that putting babies and perverts together simply doesn’t work. In this case, it hinders the show from being a genuine adventure story by adding uncomfortable messages in places they do not belong.
I am tired of people defending this show by saying that critics are being overly sensitive about it. If you actually read into the sexual comments that interrupt the show every two minutes, they aren’t just random. They’re also really sexist and offensive.
For starters, Mushoku Tensei uses sex and female submission as an allegory for masculinity and power.
Every example of sex being used in this anime was to show a man in power. The most obvious example of this is the way women were used in terms of Rudeus liking his father. In one scene, Rudeus admits that his dad is an asshole. He is. He cheats on his wife and punches his child. But Rudeus then goes on to say that even though his dad is an asshole, he still thinks he’s pretty cool. Why? Because he’s slept with so many women!
Is the strength of a man determined by how many women he’s fucked? Is the respect of a father earned only by the amount of women that submit to him? Am I the only one seeing the issue with this? Power and sex are used in this anime to bring men up and put women down.
The characters in the anime are both basic and irritating. Rudeus is a pedophilic pervert, all of the men around him are assholes, and all of the women around him are submissive pushover archetypes.
People will argue against this statement by saying that there are strong women in this anime (physically, there is one… and a half). But in the end, all of the strength found in a female characters’ actions and personality is thrown aside for the sake of sexual jokes. The moment any of the girls in this anime befriend Rudeus or any one of his asshole family members like his father, they downgrade into oversexualized pet rocks who have no other contributions to the overall plot.
One example of this is with Rudeus’ Family’s maid. The only important scene that she technically had a part of was one where she seduced Rudeus’ father despite him being a married man. After that, she swears fealty to a 6 year old child and then she disappears. We see her one more time in the entire show but she barely even speaks. Her sole purpose was to fit the seductive, house-ruining maid archetype and to show that Rudeus’ father is “so powerful because girls like to sleep with him.” Once that role was fulfilled, the writers tossed her character aside.
Another example of this is with Ghislaine, the father’s old friend who ends up being Rudeus’ somewhat guardian. In one scene, Rudeus gets her to pull her pants down so he can examine her backside. Ten minutes later, everyone literally gets transported to another side of the world and Ghislaine is no where to be found! How convenient. Talk about tossing aside a female character who has fulfilled her misogynistic role of being oversexualized. The moment rudeus touches her butt, she magically disappears!
I’ve heard people who praise this show say that Mushoku Tensei’s sexual comments are just a part of its “mature themes” because the show is “realistic”. But there are so many things wrong about this statement.
First of all, having mature themes does not necessarily make something realistic. Attack on Titan has mature themes but I don’t expect to fight titans every time I step out of my house.
Secondly, Mushoku Tensei does not handle sex maturely in any way. The show constantly uses sexual comments as jokes and as a way to show respect for men who have slept with other girls. “Wow, my dad is great because he’s so popular with women” is NOT mature. The idea that sleeping with girls makes you typically masculine and powerful is childish. Consistently praising men for their sexual conquests over women is just annoying and sexist. Mushoku Tensei handles “mature themes” the same way a middle schooler brags to everyone about how many girls have given him head.
Lastly, this anime is an isekai. It is not realistic. Even if you just consider the characters and their relationships, there is nothing real about this show. All of the men get away with harassing women and making sexual comments, and all of the women are some type of dere and end up being subjected to the harassment of men. There are no laws in this world. There are no consequences. There’s literally one scene where a relative asks Rudeus if he wants his twelve-year-old cousin tied to his bed like some sort of peace offering. People don’t do that in the real world. If they did, they’d go to jail.
There is simply no excuse for how this anime inserts offensive comments and over sexualizes everything. It’s all done just for the sake of creating misogynistic power dynamics between characters. Furthermore, some of the sexual scenes are just plain molestation. Every couple minutes, this anime subjects its viewers to watching a child sniff people’s underwear, touch people’s breasts, and find “clever” ways to get near and grope girls. In one episode, we even have to watch him try and remove a twelve-year-old’s panties off while she is unconscious. How is this allowed? Am I the only one concerned about children engaging in non-consensual acts?
When done right, I don’t mind ecchi. I also don’t mind mature themes. But blatant sexism is not okay. Pedophilia is not okay. Rape is not okay. Degrading women is not okay. These statements are not something we should be divided upon. No one should be defending this show. It’s not an issue of sensitivity. It’s an issue of morality.
I want to point out that I am mentioning the show’s flaws as objectively as I can. I understand that though messages are important, one can also rate the show based on its other relatively better aspects. But the sexist comedy and portrayals actually ended up making a difference not only on my subjective enjoyment but also on the narrative and atmosphere of the show. It drew away the audiences attention from actually important dialogue and from the visual appeal of certain scenes. The offensive messages were just so bad that they completely overwrote most of the good parts of this anime, turning what could have been a solid piece of entertainment into something I would never recommend to anyone.
The story begins portraying a horrible middle-aged pedophile with the main flaws being a recluse (hikikomori) + leech living off his parents (neet) + literal pedophile. After reincarnating in a fantasy world and getting a second chance at life the MC says he will take life seriously now (it’s literally the title of the show), so there was a reasonable expectation from the audience that it would be an interesting redemption story, only to utterly fail at that: the first 2 issues are quickly and magically fixed in the first few episodes while his lust for children never gets fixed and instead is written off as cheap comedy gags throughout the show.
The MC received for free all kind of benefits just by reincarnating: good looks (from the character’s point of view), family with good social status, big magical power, secretly having an adult mind to take advantage of others, etc. He got for free things that a stereotypical loser character think they need for being a “better person”, hence, it comes across as a shallow wish fulfillment story where the MC’s creep behavior is rewarded with typical things that a lolicon otaku would want (loli harem, little sisters, etc).
The convenient plot writing is all over the place making sure the MC is involved in all kinds of ecchi situations because “he can’t help it” (e.g. convenient misunderstandings, “it’s legal/not big deal in this world” stuff, most males portrayed as worst than him so he “is not that bad” compared to them, etc), and the inner monologues reveal that this is how the MC fulfills the disgusting dreams he couldn’t realize in the past life.
Besides that, the story is the typical generic isekai having the MC going on quests as an adventurer with the purpose of making him seem like a cool hero.
In terms of production value, the animation is good and the art style is attractive, although the quality went downhill in some episodes towards the end. The voice actors did their job well and the music fits mostly without issues.
Male characters are unlikeable as most of them are portrayed as perverts or cheaters, which I guess is convenient for the underlying ecchi theme going on. Female characters seem to mostly exist for fanservice and to fall for the MC.
Overall, this looks like an ecchi anime that pretended to be a redemption story but ultimately failed at that.
4: Fumetsu no Anata e
English: To Your Eternity
MAL Score: 8.48
An Orb, known only as It, is cast to Earth to be observed from afar. Capable of changing forms from beings whose reflections It captures, It first becomes a rock and then, due to the rising temperature, moss.
It does not move until one snowy day, a wolf at death’s door barely crosses by. When It takes the animal’s form, It attains awareness of its consciousness and starts to wander with an unclear destination in mind. Soon, It comes across the wolf’s master—a young boy waiting for his tribe to return from a paradise abundant with fish and fruit in the south. Although the boy is lonely, he still hopes those whom he holds dear in his memories have not forgotten him and that he will reunite with them one day.
The boy wants to explore new surroundings and decides to abandon his home with It to find the paradise using the traces his tribe left behind. However, with a heavily injured body and no sight of his elder comrades, what will become of the boy?
Fumetsu no Anata e illustrates the story of an immortal being experiencing humanity, meeting all types of people in many places throughout time.
When I first read the manga before the anime adaptation, I had anticipated various degrees of emotional drama. The author has been known to amplify human emotions to tell and show a story. By doing so, she’s able to communicate to the audience why characters are motivated by certain actions. That’s no different when applied for To Your Eternity. The most prominent example applies to Fushi, a being with immortality who can transform into people and creatures. What’s fascinating about Fushi is that the more transforms, he becomes more human. As we come to learn and understand about Fushi’s character, we can draw upon how he changes. From interactions to his own personal motivations, Fushi is perhaps one of the most complex characters in the series.
And that is to say, To Your Eternity is somewhat of a niche show. It’s atypical even for a supernatural drama. Following Fushi’s journey shows how alienated and ignorant he is about humanity. From the beginning, his attributes mirrors those of an animal. He is curious about the world around him but fails to understand certain elements. As he witness more realistic events in life (namely death), Fushi begins to understand the concept of humanity. And because he is immortal, death is not something he fears or even truly understands. Fushi initially reminds me of Doomsday, a character from the popular Superman comic books where what kills him makes him stronger. In this series, he adapts with death and revives even more after being killed over and over. But unlike Doomsday, Fushi becomes more compassionate and understanding about himself around others. And as every episode ventures on, we get to see his character evolution by embracing the essence of humanity.
Throughout the show, Fushi meets and develops meanginful relationships among with his companions. The most prominent among these includes Gugu, Pioran, Tonari, and March. They act as surrogate family that shapes his character the more he interacts with them. In fact, he even received his name from March and without her, Fushi would be nameless. Being one of the kindest characters in the show, she accepts Fushi for who he is without judgment or prejudice. And thanks to her influence, we can say that Fushi matures into a more human character. Similarly, he develops a brotherly bond with Gugu and a sisterly relationship with Tonari. Both of these characters makes profound effects in his life as he grows to care and protect them. And because of his immortality, Fushi shows fearlessness when defending his companions. Perhaps the most guidance Fushi receives is from Pioarn, as she becomes his personal mentor. With her guidance, Fushi begins to learn the human language and how every action has a consequence, something he had been igornant of since his very existence.
Unfortunately for Fushi, not everyone he meets is an ally or friend. These include the dangerous Nokkers (supernatural creatures in their world) he encounters or the obsessive Hayase. The latter evolves into a more twisted character, a polar opposite of Fushi’s evolution. Indeed, Hayase represents the dark side of humanity. The way she fascinates about immortality and developing a twisted love for Fushi is what seperates her from any human character in the show. In later episodes, you can just see how far her obessesion carries with her beliefs. That being said, I think To Your Eternity is able to strike its character cast with such fascinating and colorful personalities. Every relevant characters brings an important part to Fushi’s development, whether it’s to shape him into more human or make him into a understanding character to us.
Regardless how much you understand this show, it shouldn’t take long for your eyes to see the unique aspect of the anime’s animation quality. Brain’s Base has been know for some of their noticable work including My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU and Durarara!! In this show, they take on the approach to illustrate a fictional setting filled with emotional drama. The background scenes and chereography for its world fiction connects with its story tone. However, it is the emotional expressions of the cast that brings out the anime’s drama at its finest. This is achieved through animating the behaviors and emotions for the characters. In particular, Fushi is the show’s greatest achievement at showing human-like feelings. And lastly, the anime is known for some of its more mature content namely the violence and occasional sexual tone. This shouldn’t distract the audience from the anime’s overall presentation but it’s still noticable in some episodes.
To Your Eternity’s stellar soundtrack also cannot be ignored if we look at how it synchronizes with its overall supernatural drama. From emotional melancholy to cherry orchestra, it’s impressive how the soundtrack can further enhance the anime viewing experience. Fushi’s voice also evolves from its toddler-like stuttering to a more mature human voice tone throughout the show. We can’t ever forget how much of a character Fushi changes and it reminds us how important that change is.
This is an anime of the year candidate and I’m not joking. Even if you came into the series as a fresh viewer, it’s going to be an unique experience for a supernatural drama. Let it be known that To Your Eternity sells its story exactly how it wants to with its creative character cast, unique storytelling, and ultimately, a show that touches upon the deepest elements of humanity.
A medieval fantasy show that revolves around a newborn immortal’s adventures. It sounds exciting, right? I bet we will witness this immortal’s amazing adventures while it grows as a person step by step. We will learn about this fantasy world which has lots of amazing stories for us, right?
After all the hype from the manga readers and the fact this story has been written by the Koe no Katachi’s author, my expectations were high. I was expecting a great adventure with excellent character development. But what did I get? A crap. Right after that cheesy first episode, I realized Fumetsu Anata e is just another generic shounen-adventure show. However, I wanted to believe. I wanted to believe it will separate itself from other mediocre adventure shows with its next story arcs. Oh, how naive I was! It turned out that “please cry!!!!!!” episode was actually the best episode of the show, and I watched all the other 19 episodes with empty hopes.
Fumetsu no Anata e has a lot of problems, but let’s start with the story. This show doesn’t know what it wants to be. After the first episode, I thought it will be an episodic show, but that’s not the case. This 20-episode season has three different story arcs along with a prologue and an epilogue. The problem is these arcs don’t have plots that can fill 4-6 episodes. Their worth is 3 episodes at best, and because of that every arc overstays its welcome and causes boring viewing experiences. They wouldn’t be fun to watch even with low episode counts since they have badly-written stories though. Fumetsu no Anata e is a character-driven story in a fantasy world, but none of these arcs add anything notable to worldbuilding or brings decent character writings to the table. The show constantly gives new informations about its world but does absolutely nothing with them. Nothing would have changed if this was a historical story with supernatural elements rather than a story that sets in a world completely different from ours. And about the characters, let’s talk about Fushi first.
Our newborn immortal Fushi is an empty shell at the start of the story. It knows nothing about this world and tries to learn new things in its own way, and this makes it an amazing character for a coming of age story. The author can easily tell a wonderful character development story thanks to this character’s nature, and she does that in the first 5 episodes. Fushi learns new things really slow just like a baby, and watching this character leisurely becomes a human was an amazing experience. And this was only the first quarter of the season. Even though the plotline in the first story arc was mediocre, I was excited to see Fushi’s development in the next episodes. But then the first big disaster of Fumetsu happened. Suddenly a man in black appeared and started to talk about nonsense like “wE hAvE a sAcReD MiSSiOn wE nEeD tO sAvE tHe wOrLd” and I was like “What the? Isn’t this a coming of the age-adventure story? Why the fuck a budget Darth Sidious tries to make me watch a generic shounen-adventure?” then a monster attacked to Fushi, and I became completely shocked. I understand some stories with an immortal MC need special foes that can kill or slow the immortal, but Fumetsu no Anata e isn’t one of them. This story doesn’t need the thrill of that. This story can carry the weight of slow-paced episodes, it doesn’t need any action, especially horribly directed action. I was still in the “believer” mode even after this. I wanted to believe this monster will appear rarely and the story will keep focusing on Fushi’s growth. But then, the second disaster happened, a time skip. We were watching Fushi’s development at the perfect pace, Fushi finally got some people it can call a family and started to learn more things about being a human. However, after an unnecessary time skip, we saw Fushi finally became a proper person without seeing the process. It still got a mindset of a child, but it understands the world better. I completely lost all my hope about Fumetsu no Anata e after this nonsense. Fushi’s development was supposed to be the main focus of the show, but the author threw it out of the window with an unnecessary time skip. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe the author of Koe no Katachi wrote something as laughable as this. And when we put Fushi aside, we don’t have any good characters left. I’ll skip all the supporting cast except for March, Gugu, and Tonari because these three are the main focuses of their story arcs.
March is an annoying loud child. Her whole story is based on:
“I don’t want to die! I want to live and grow up!”
*Fast forward to three episodes later*
“Oh no! I died! Cry for me!
I felt bad for her… Fuck it. I won’t act fake. She was so annoying and I didn’t like her from the start, so I felt nothing after her death. Let’s move to Gugu.
Gugu’s story is a mix of “People stay away from him because of his monster-like appearance” and “rich girl poor boy” clichés. The romantic relationship between him and Rean is a chore to watch, and his struggle to accept his new self without thinking about others’ thoughts on him has executed in the most generic way possible. I felt a little bit sad about his death, but it was like for 10 seconds.
For Tonari, she’s even more annoying than March at the start of her arc. She starts really selfish but becomes a better person towards the end of the arc. However, neither she nor her friends don’t hold any weight. I guess the deaths of her friends should’ve been somehow sad, but I couldn’t focus on all the drama since I was busy laughing at how bad the scene was.
And that’s all for the supporting cast. There’s also Hayase, but I don’t want to talk about her since she turned into an edgy character who makes me want to vomit every time she talks.
If you saw some pictures from Fumetsu no Anata e on the internet and had thoughts like it’s a good-looking show, set your expectations low. Those shots have been taken from really specific scenes. Fumetsu no Anata e mostly looks unpolished and under-detailed. There are some really good-looking scenes in the first episodes, but that’s all. The same goes with animations, the first half of the show has good animations, but it falls flat in the second half. For example, the last fight scene in Gugu’s arc has really bad animations, and unnecessary cuts kill all the fun. The sound quality is a bit better than the animations, but it’s still not something I would call good. Voice actings are nice, but VAs can’t make the important scenes look better than what they already are. I don’t blame them though. You need the best actors and actresses in the industry for improving a show as bad as Fumetsu. The VAs in this show are good, but they are not the best ones. Soundtracks are the same too, they are okay but don’t add anything to the viewing experience.
Fumetsu no Anata e is a show with boring adventures, weak characters, mediocre production values, horrible worldbuilding, terribly directed action scenes, and wasted character developments. It’s just another bad drama show which tries to make you cry about the characters you don’t care. Maybe it could be something decent if the author didn’t speedrun the most important part of Fushi’s character development. But what we got is a horrible show that doesn’t know what it wants to be.
“Fumetsu no Anata e”, or “To your Eternity” (which I’ll be calling TYE from now on) is an anime that perplexes me, it has the ideas to be a great series, but ultimately the execution of it fails horrendously, the final products ends up being a hideous joke. TYE has several problems and I’m going to point most of them out:
1- Tonal Shifts
2- Annoying Characters
3- Cheap drama
5- Plot Conveniences
6- Plot Holes
9- Identity Crisis
Starting with Tonal Shifts, this anime suffers from a thing most dramatic anime I’ve seen do: Creating a tense or dramatic situation, just to make a joke right after. Now, I get adding comedy for the sake of relief, considering some series are very heavy on drama, but TYE abuses of this every time they can. Oh, we just revealed that a character is fated to die? Let’s add dead eyes and then proceed to ridicule the entire scene by making a character do a cartoonish tantrum that completely offsets the dramatic ambiance. This scene right here could have been powerful by only adding a tantrum of a character that doesn’t know what awaits them and questioning the customs and the decisions of the tribe, but no, let’s just make a visually cartoonish tantrum for the sake of doing so. This kind of things happens repeatedly and gets old pretty quickly. By the 3rd or 4th time this happened, I found myself rolling my eyes, because it’s not even funny at this point, only adds to the frustration of a product that could have been actually emotional rather than a tone deaf one.
Moving up to the next point, this anime has so many annoying characters on it, and boy, the focus of each arc is usually the most annoying one, and the worst part? They don’t seem to use their brain at all. Oh, a character is about to get shot? oh don’t worry, let me just jump and receive the shot myself, dying in the progress on a completely meaningless sacrifice that wasn’t really needed, add salt to the injury considering that our MC, Fushi, had the power to avoid this, but sat still not doing anything until the worst happened, conveniently tragic. Fushi is actually the worst offender when it comes to annoying characters, he is as inconsistent as a third world country internet speed, and he is a walking contradiction filled with conveniences and plot holes. He should be very powerful, yet, he barely does anything and let’s people around him die for no reason but to add for shock factor. There is this scene where he decides to flee an island of criminals, acknowledging that said place is unredeemable, but at the very moment he’s about to escape with its allegedly now girlfriend, then, the Knockers (our “villains”) attack and Fushi is somehow forced to help an island of criminals, because, oh boo hoo, poor things, they don’t deserve this (after stating that this island is full of criminals mind you) and what does this achieve? Nothing, Fushi goes, fucks up, and gets himself 3 friends killed for no reason and then flees until it’s convenient for him to do a “heroic” comeback and save the day. Another annoying character is a recurring one, Hayase, a god damn bitch that appeared on the 2nd arc, that somehow gets a very unhealthy obsession with Fushi after a time skip we didn’t see, getting all powerful on a time skip we didn’t see, killing and being on a rampage during a time skip we didn’t see, who suddenly becomes the main antagonist of the final arc and boy, her whole persona is just extremely disgusting, incoherent and completely infuriating. Talking about her, she has some “guards” with her which are as great at guarding as potting plats, man, are this guards so damn stupid, blind and useless, it’s as if they were paid actors because it’s incredibly how negligent they are at their job, conveniently useless.
Moving Forward, cheap drama, each arc has this side plot of a character that either is fated to die, or has an utterly tragic backstory on them, now, this is not bad by all means, there are some great anime out there that are great at creating characters like this and driving their story through character arcs like: Violet Evergarden, Kobato, Natsume Yuujinchou and many others, but the characters in TYE aren’t memorable at all, and their backstory is often ridiculed by the tonal shifts I spoke about earlier, and the way the plot conveniently set up things adds to the feeling of being incredibly cheap it makes Clannad look like the second coming of God (I’m not too fond of Clannad mind you), so not only the drama stinks, the characters and the plot direction is ridiculously bad where every faint good intention of trying to make you feel for a character is wasted.
Next, pacing. Dear God, the pacing is very inconsistent, either it moves at snail pace, it does a time skip, or it moves pretty fast. The worst offender here is the time skip that happens during an arc, because it makes no sense, and from it comes a lot of conveniences that are never explained or explored properly (which I’m gonna tackle later) During this time skip, Fushi ages and “learns” things, but then, all this is thrown to the garbage can after the nokkers attacked. The show goes like this: Introduction of a character, make that character know Fushi, attempt to make Fushi “learn” and bond with them, add tragedy, Fushi devolves as a character, Fushi conveniently makes a comeback and wins, then add more tragedy, rinse and repeat. Now, if only the plot and characters were coherent enough to make this edible, but all this bonding happens during very short time periods and it’s constantly being thrown away in favor of inconsistency all thanks to the identity crisis this anime has (which I’m gonna tackle later)
Now, plot conveniences, plot holes, inconsistency and pointlesness. This show is filled with them to an alarming extent. Fushi being the center of it all. What is he? What limits does his power have? Is he an idiot? Is he useless? The answer to all of that is yes. We have no idea what he is but a creation of “God”. His powers has no limits, unless his brain capacity is on high demand, his powers have no limits as long as the plot demands it to, if the plot doesn’t demand it, Fushi ends up being incredibly useless, letting characters die for no reason despite him having the means to succeed. Like when he battled against Hayase after the time skip, where he somehow loses against a human that got invaded by the spirit of a Yandere. It’s all pointless.
What did he do during March’s arc? Nothing, he stood still, then tragedy happened and he reacts when it’s already too late. What did he do during Gugu’s arc? Nothing, he wasted YEARS doing nothing, there was an entire time skip and he did nothing, then people died again, and he made a comeback and won, what did he do during Tonari’s arc? waste time again, he did nothing but participate on a half assed “tournament”, earning praise for no reason only to be taken away the moment Hayase is reintroduced to us again, where he again does nothing until everything is fucked, then he somehow gets useful again. What is the purpose of this character? He gets involved in people’s life, just to let them down and kill them due to his own stupidity, it’s all pointless.
I swear, Fushi enters on other people’s life only to make them miserable: March? Gets himself a yandere waifu and some stupid and pointless deaths. Gugu? Fuels jealousy, forces romance, a strange and pointless timeskip happens and gets all characters of this arc involved in the Knockers’ agenda. Tonari? Gets himself and a killer granny on an island of mindless criminal idiots, wastes time flirting with Tonari only to let her friends die, all because he didn’t leave when he had the chance to do so. IT’S A DAMN ISLAND FILLED WITH CRIMINALS FFS, How pointless this is?.
Moving on, Fushi’s power is inconsistently convenient, he’s able to shapeshift into or create anything he had contact with: Arrows, food, weapons, you name it, even the “friends” he got killed, he’s able to do all that without any consequence at all, he’s able to do many things, yet, he falls short, his power conveniently is useless when people is dying, but is conveniently powerful when nothing matters anymore, it just doesn’t make sense and it’s never explored properly, it’s just there, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. By the start of the 4th arc, I’ve lost hope on this anime, I tried really hard not to get biased against it, given that I chose to give it the benefit of the doubt trusting the anime would clarify things, but ultimately, the 4th arc is where things got completely stupid, it’s where TYE problems became more evident… It’s when it became an irredeemable trainwreck… You guessed it, a pointless trainwreck.
We’re almost finished with this abomination: Identity Crisis, and this is probably the worst offender of TYE, it doesn’t know what it wants to be, at first, it looks like it wants to be a slice of life, making the MC interacting with people to grow, but then, it turns into a battle shounen, with power shenanigans and some stupid shit like the Knockers, powers are not explained properly, they just work and without consequence. The aftermath? nothing, Fushi doesn’t grow, he gets people killed, he steal their “powers” (and by power I mean their body and whichever shenanigan they had, like Gugu’s hilarious fire breath technique), he then acts like if their deaths meant anything but in reality it never did. During a fight, Fushi is beated to a pulp like a bitch, but either he manages to escape or wins somehow. He never trains, he doesn’t polish his abilities, He even claims to be powerless, becoming a crybaby, focused on not killing because “it’s bad”, which, ultimately, makes him way more useless, but he never grows or learns from this, he keeps screwing up until it somehow works for him.
There’s something so inept into trying to glorify not killing people, which becomes incredibly stupid considering that Fushi gets people killed because of that mindset. What is taking a single life, out of someone or something that killed several? Will you risk getting those you love killed just because you have this pretentious thought of being a child of light that doesn’t kill anyone? Spare me the thought please, this is so stupid, by not taking action you’re letting others get killed, which adds to your toll and you’ll feel like shit anyway. Let me quote HBO’s Chernobyl real quick: “you put a bullet in someone, you’re not you anymore. You’ll never be you again. But then you wake up the next morning and you’re still you, and you realize that was you all along. You just didn’t know”… We have to get rid of characters that are so scared of confronting someone due to the scary thought of killing someone, it’s ultimately very fake and will only get more people killed.
Last but not least the visuals, dear God, what in tarnation is happening on Japan? It’s horrifying to think about the conditions and deadlines the poor animators have to endure to animate something like this, whoever directed this should be imprisoned. The art style and animation heavily declines in the 2nd half, especially during the last arc, where you see a wide shot of CG zombies, on a terrain that has no depth of field, no shadows and janky movement, it makes the zombies look like they’re floating. I’m not going to criticize the animators, but whoever is in charge of directing and whoever is in the higher ups that decided the deadline for this anime. Animation in Japan is heavily declining, and destroying the poor animators life with deadlines and horrible salary is hardly the answer. We’ve already seen controversy in Cloverworks with Wonder Egg Priority, and recently, studio Mappa and others where these issues are getting more evident, looking at animation videos from talented people in YouTube looks like it’s a work of passion, but when you get to know about the awful reality behind the industry it’s sad to see that talent is getting wasted in favor of exploiting their workers on a terrible schedule, hopefully this changes someday.
I have nothing to say about the audio department, because honestly, it barely has any impact to my overall feelings about this trainwreck, the OST for me was only relevant during the first episode (which was the best one sadly), and after that, nothing else came close. It’s hard to believe this work was made by the same author of A Silent Voice, what a complete and disappointing trainwreck.
3: Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season Part 2
MAL Score: 8.53
After a stern yet compelling speech by Otto, Subaru Natsuki solemnly swears that he will successfully make it through this timeline and save everyone he can along the way. The first step toward achieving this goal is to help Emilia work through her past; however, that is easier said than done. Feeling as if she has been lied to by everyone around her, it will be difficult for Emilia to trust anyone, even Subaru, her self-proclaimed knight.
Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season Part 2 presents the culmination of Subaru’s experiences with the Sanctuary and its people, along with his unwillingness to give up hope on saving them.
The final line of the opening’s chorus, as well as the ending’s titular “Believe in you”, form the thesis and backbone of this season of Re:Zero. This cour shifted its focus away from the usual Subaru character study, delving more into worldbuilding, developing its side cast and delivering its core messages.
Why does Re:Zero, within the abundant sea of modern isekai, stand out like a shining beacon of light 5 years later? Some will argue it’s the breadth of its “best girl” selection, others will say it’s the impactful thriller elements. Re:Zero’s true strength lies, if you were to ask me, in the humanity of its characters and the messages it imparts. These aspects are in the limelight in this cour. The previously established Trials mechanic is used to explore characters’ histories and motivations, all the while sprinkling in setups upon setups leading up to the grand picture of the series. Subaru, as the protagonist, takes a back seat; he lends a hand to the other characters, gives them a push, and yet it remains up to them to make a choice and save themselves. Yes; Re:Zero Season 2 is about self-reliance — but it is also about the fact that when you do decide to take that first step, whether it’s to change, to save or improve yourself, there are people out there who will cheer you on. The message of this cour is a deeply positive one, hence the show momentarily forsaking its usual gimmick. It’s also a very satisfactory watch, after the feeling of deadlock within the first cour, as the characters smash through insurmountable odds set up by the charismatic villain of Part 1.
Due to the nature of the show, some spoilers will follow.
Cour 1 revealed the antagonist for this season to be Roswaal, behind both the Sanctuary situation and the mansion attack. I would, however, say that beyond specific characters, the true antagonist in this arc is a symbolic, or abstract one — the idea of “stagnation”, which happens to be behind every obstacle of the arc. Roswaal is stuck in 400 years past, believing in the permanence of feelings and chained to the past, intent on fostering that same weakness which he believes exists in others to manipulate them; Elsa is on a desperate hunt to recapture a feeling of warmth from her past; Beatrice remains bound to a 400 year old contract; Garfiel is terrified of the world being too big for him to protect everyone and decides that the Sanctuary should remain closed off. Re:Zero acknowledges that the status quo is attractive — is it not normal to stay attached to the beautiful Witch who saved your life, to want to recapture a feeling of relief from one’s past, or to want to keep your world small where you can control and protect everything? — before pointing out that it is also deeply self-destructive and dangerous, from the impending doom in the form of a carnivorous rabbit horde to the mental degradation of Roswaal and Elsa’s characters. All of these ideas are conveyed with no shortage of symbolism, the most striking one for me being the use of Beatrice and Roswaal’s Gospels.
In order to overcome these barriers, Re:Zero asks its characters to find the balance between “dangerous self-reliance” and “toxic dependence”. Subaru, unable to overcome anything by himself despite his abuse of Return by Death in the first cour, realizes something in the second thanks to a friend; the gears of victory start spinning only when he reaches a hand out to his allies and starts valuing his own life. The main heroine Emilia takes the opposite path, beginning her growth only when her dependence on Puck and Subaru is broken. From there, this hero-heroine duo constitute the heart of the anime, spurring everyone else into action. Characters argue and fight; ideals clash, sparks fly. This would be around the part where the average viewer would call the dialogue overlong and repetitive, without any effort on their end to connect with, or at least understand the situations at hand.
I couldn’t disagree more.
The dialogue forms the heart of the arc; when a character speaks, their lines aren’t artificially tailored for some 3rd party viewer. The core ideas, themes and motivations aren’t spoonfed; they’re inbetween the lines, asking a degree of investment and attentiveness from the viewers. Camera angles assist the viewer in finding meaning, if not to simply immerse them into the scene, like the series’ iconic eye reflection shots that convey “understanding” or “trust”. The argument between Subaru and Emilia in EP40 is probably the strongest display of that particular strength of the series, from the sheer rawness of it to how real it felt as an unreasonable clash of emotions, all the while allowing the two characters to overcome their emotional hurdles. It wouldn’t be difficult to argue that the Sanctuary premise, and the mansion situation at hand, are only present to allow all of these clashes and character explorations to take place, and the attentive viewer will most definitely appreciate this setting that goes beyond the isekai fantasy norm.
From a purely script-writing perspective, a lot of these moments overshadow the first half of Season 1, and come close to even the legendary, all-dialogue episode 18. This is all, sadly, from a purely script-writing perspective. While the directing throughout the show is generally good (with sadly more dips than usual in this cour — and no, this isn’t referring to the liberal use of filters, which I didn’t find too bothersome as someone used to such things), the animation is insufficient to carry the weight of certain moments. Anime is, first and foremost, a storytelling medium, but even the best story will fall flat if poorly translated on screen. While Part 2 certainly doesn’t fall to that level, the feeling that something is *missing*, or to be more precise that the characters are too static to properly elevate the scene is certainly there. It also certainly doesn’t help that the downgraded character designs, making most of the male characters hard to look at compared to Season 1, have carried over from S2P1. Re:Zero has had segments even heavier in dialogue than this cour before (again, the pure dialogue-heavy EP18 comes to mind), but a lack of dynamic animation on top of the increased complexity of the writing will inevitably lead to some false perceptions for the average viewer. These production-related issues, along with some cuts to the source that may negatively affect the flow of scenes for some, make it so that I cannot give this a perfect score; nevertheless, White Fox persevered admirably, trying their utmost to stay faithful to the source with consistent 30-minute episodes, this entire season reaching up to 33 episodes disguised as 25. While cracks in the production are present, series director Watanabe managed to balance out ambition with a schedule that didn’t require a crunch to the finish line like other popular gems of this season. But I digress.
Making up for the more static animation is a soundtrack that may just match AoT in its movie-like feel; the “fantasy” aspect of the series shines through in almost every track. The voice acting is stunning, from Yuusuke Kobayashi’s emotional performances to Rie Takahashi’s more and more confident and energetic voice, matching the arc of her character. Let’s also not forget to praise Takehito Koyasu, who managed to convey every facet of Roswaal’s character with skill. To top it off, this season came with two character insert songs, both used fittingly and beautifully. In a season as focused in fleshing out its cast through numerous backstories, character arcs and climactic moments, these are some of the most essential components, and I can only be glad the production remained stellar on that front.
Overall, if I had to sum up in a sentence what this arc of Re:Zero imparted in me, it would be, once again, “when you finally decide to take the first step to make a change, there will be people willing to help and encourage you along the way”. Subaru isn’t strong, he isn’t even cooler, but he isn’t alone anymore— just that fact is enough to change the tone of the series into something more positive. You cannot remain dependent on others, but avoiding human relationships with those around you will also get you nowhere.
If nothing else, I think what Re:Zero Season 2 does is worth lending an ear to.
With that out of the way, let’s proceed to the review. Re:Zero Season 2 is back after an agonizing 3-month break, honestly was the longest 3 months of my life, while I had a lot of Fall shows to indulge myself in at the time, none were able to fill the empty void inside my heart left behind when Re:Zero S2 Part 1 ended, and now starts another agonizing wait for Season 3, I’m truly going to miss watching this every week.
This season starts, literally immediately where Part 1 left off with the Otto punch of friendship and giving Subaru the confidence he needs to overcome the problems Roswaal meticulously set up this season. With a new profound determination to not die and have the people that care about him suffer because of him, he resolves to save everyone in this final loop and makes a bet with Roswaal, it was a long shot, the stakes are high, it was risky, but Subaru was ready to take that risk.
A common criticism of Re:Zero is that the story focuses too much on Subaru that it leaves no room for other characters to shine, that was true for Season 1 and Season 2 Part 1 that was focused primarily on Subaru’s development, Season 2 Part 2 fixes this problem and gives every single character a much-needed character development and each and every one of them gets to have their time to shine this season. Whether it’d be Otto being best bro, Emilia and Garfiel learning to overcome their traumatic past, Ram wanting to save Roswaal from his 400-year obsession, Beatrice finally letting go and breaking off the shackles of her past that bound her soul preventing her from moving forward, and this.
This is what makes Re:Zero special, it’s not just a story about Subaru but everyone else around him, it’s a story of him starting a new life from zero, how the actions of others affect him and how his own actions affect others. Re:Zero is not a story about suffering, nor is it a story about being the strongest, killing the demon lord, and getting a sweet ass harem. No, Re:Zero is a genuine and emotional story of growth and self-improvement, learning to accept and love yourself, everyone has flaws, no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes, but that’s not a bad thing, it’s precisely because you are imperfect, that you have flaws that make you human.
I feel like a lot of people have a bias against modern shows, and I get a lot of people will disagree. But Re:Zero IS a DEEP series, deep in the sense of its emotional and psychological themes, there are genuine underlying messages portrayed in the show, and I have mentioned some of them already in my previous paragraph. One of the central themes of Season 2 is the idea of obsession and stagnation. Roswaal is the embodiment of this ideology, and every character in the series shows a part of this in their respective personality, they are stuck at a point in time unable to move forward, unable to change.
A lot of people complain about Season 2 being stuck in the sanctuary for 25 episodes but that is the point, that symbolizes stagnation and directly parallels the stagnation of some of the characters, they are stuck in time, in one place, and after this season are able to move past all of that and change, that is the main theme of this season. These are examples of those characters; Roswaal’s 400-year obsession with Echidna, Ryuzu Shima’s wish to respect Ryuzu Meyer’s sacrifice, Garfiel’s trauma that leads to him to hate the outside world, resulting in him resolving to keep the Sanctuary closed off forever. Emilia is bound by her traumatic past, Beatrice’s stubbornness to keep her 400-year contract with Echidna, to wait for a person that doesn’t exist.
A lot of people have also been complaining about the pacing of this season, I don’t understand why. They are completely missing the sheer significance and importance of this arc, before you start complaining about the arc being so long, ask yourself. Why is this arc in particular so long? Firstly, it sets up important plot points and mysteries for the future. Secondly, give some context and revelations of some questions we’ve been asking back in Season 1, and finally, It serves as a turning point for the Emilia camp as a whole. If Season 1 focused entirely on Subaru and his development, then Season 2 focuses on building up and strengthening the Emilia camp through character growth for the side characters. The Emilia Camp was all over the place during Season 1, and they aren’t really united and especially Emilia herself was a problem, she didn’t possess the necessary qualities that a Ruler should have, no solid foundation, this Arc not only develops Emilia’s character, but it also serves to develop and unite the rest of the Emilia camp that will help and support her in the future.
Emilia back in Season 1 as we know is a very immature person, she was very naive and had very idealistic goals for the Royal Selection, as she was then, she was unfit of becoming the Ruler, and that’s a big problem. She doesn’t have the best leadership and has problems with self-confidence because of discrimination she has faced due to her Half-Elf lineage and looking exactly like the Witch of Envy. Even the determination she lacks, unlike the rest of the Royal Candidates. However this season she has learned to become more mature and start to become better as a person, slowly becoming someone who can lead the country in the future. Through the 1st Trial she found the resolve and determination to make her wishes come true, through the 2nd Trial she learned to fully accept herself and to not be afraid of what others think of her, and finally, through the 3rd Trial, she gained the confidence to overcome the disaster that may come.
The characters are the best part of Re:Zero. They feel genuine and real, not in the sense that their personalities are realistic, but instead in their character flaws, and psychology. The author gives a lot of thought into them, even the characters that may seem very insignificant at first glance.
Apart from the characters, the story is solid as well. Season 2’s plot is complex and tightly written, unlike the first 3 arcs in Season 1 which were more simplistic and straightforward. Part 1 served as the build-up phase by introducing the central mysteries and problems like Elsa, Meili, Mansion Problems, Rabbits, Witches, and Roswaal’s true intentions. While Part 2 is the emotional climax and development, and it was well worth all the build-up.
The songs and OST this season is amazing, the opening and ending are both really good too bad they’re not played much often, we also got some really nice Insert Songs by Emilia and Ram’s VAs, and some new tracks courtesy of Kenichiro Suehiro and are honestly some of the best of the series. Animation is a step up over Part 1, might not be the same quality as Season 1 but there is one fight, in particular, this season that I believe is the best-animated fight of the series thus far, Kazuhiro Ota is a god, and is carrying all the fight scenes on his back.
All in all, this season of Re:Zero has been spectacular and I feel it far surpasses Season 1 in almost every aspect that’s not animation. It has everything that made Season 1 so good and improved upon it and also fixes a lot of problems people had with Season 1. This deserves a 10/10 rating. If you’ve lasted until the end, thank you very much for reading, and I hope you liked my review. Have a good day!
Three words you’ve likely heard before or said yourself. But why? Why do people find Re:Zero boring? If you already love Re:Zero, I hope this review will help you understand the other side of the audience. If you don’t love Re:Zero, I hope to provide some clarity as to why.
From my observation, most people who dislike Re:Zero are anime-only viewers, whereas the dedicated fans have read the source material: This tells us two things:
1. The story, characters, and themes hook specific viewers to the point of delving into the meaty source material (which includes 11 manga volumes, one video game, four character-focused side story light novels, and a total of 26 light novel volumes).
2. The viewers who don’t get hooked by the story will lack the background knowledge to make the characters more nuanced.
I fall within the latter category. While watching the first season back in 2016, I despised it and rated it 3/10 overall. I made a concerted effort to understand the fanbase’s point of view by supplementing missing information with Youtube analyses and Wiki articles; that’s why I immensely enjoyed Re:Zero despite the show’s flaws. After stewing with my thoughts, I’ve concluded the show itself overall has a subpar presentation, despite providing intriguing and nuanced characters.
First of all, the screenplay is bloated. Most of the characters talk the same. I don’t mean they have the same voice, but the same way of speaking, which makes it obvious the same person wrote them. Of course, they were all written by Tappei Nagatsuki. However, it breaks my immersion when every character speaks esoterically with additional words and phrases added on top of what is, at times, a simple script. Characters such as Roswaal and Beatrice demand to speak superfluously because for narrative purposes. Roswaal speaks in riddles because he is manipulative, enigmatic, and a liar. Beatrice hides her anxiety and abandonment issues by not cutting to the chase and saying “I suppose” at the end of every sentence—it’s not simply a cute quirk. Some reasons become apparent with time.
Side characters such as Regulus Corneas, the eccentric and terrifying archbishop, speaks like a conservative senator attempting to filibuster by spouting rhetoric about “free speech” and his “rights” before mercilessly killing innocents. He does so because his psychopathy and hypocrisy befit the archbishop of greed—the reasons are very clever but entirely missing in the anime. The choice to leave out this and other content threatens to obscure each scene’s meaning. To the uninformed viewer, all of these behaviors, meaningful or not, are annoying. It doesn’t help that when the more sane characters speak, the dialogue is delivered slowly and with a drab presentation. The production is to blame for this.
That brings us to the second issue: animation: There is barely any. When it really counts, such as the combat scenes with Garfiel, Elsa, and memorable moments in Emilia’s backstory, it looks good—but for the rest of the time, it’s hard to sit through. Frames freeze for minutes on end, with simplified versions of the beautiful character designs. There is motion, but the animators rely heavily on motion tweens, camera pans, jump cuts, and digital zooming. White Fox only drew a few angles of the main casts’ face, so whenever the camera is at an angle that deviates from the norm, the characters look messy and off models. Often, fans of the series are frowned upon for criticizing the lackluster animation, but I believe they’re 100% valid. If these people complain about the cafe scenes in SAO, yet they ignore similar problems in Re:Zero, they’re hypocrites.
In this case, they’re not at a table, but somewhere: In front of the Sanctuary and the forest. Episodes go by, and people will be in the same place talking. Whether they’re telling a story, explaining their secret motivations, or telling a story someone told them. If you’ve already gotten hooked by the characters, the information you’ll learn is fascinating.
Thankfully for me, I am invested. My favorite characters, Garfiel and Otto, perhaps got the best side-stories barring Emilia’s trials. Garfiel yells to compensate for his short height on the surface. Due to developments, his earlier actions got recontextualized. He has a grudge against his mother, who left him behind. He believes nothing will get better, even if he leaves the Sanctuary. Letting people go would be admitting he can’t protect them all. Even though the animation was as bad as usual, it still pulled my heartstrings enough to make me cry. If you told me Re:Zero would make me cry four years ago, I would’ve laughed in your face—and that’s why I think it’s worth putting in the effort to understand why people like the characters so much. I acknowledge the characters are motivated by friends and family, and that’s not very complex writing. However, it is in keeping with the show’s themes. It tackles the cycle of abuse, trauma, grief throughout multiple character arcs. If Re:Zero did not have this thematic throughline, I would’ve been more critical of its simplistic aspects.
Another gripe I have with the director is the use of comedy; I like the occasional quips and humor, but sometimes it falls flat. When Subaru interrupts dialogue to yell or one of the girls squeals like a VTuber, I can’t help but roll my eyes. This kind of humor may be suitable for most people, but for me, it only detracted from the show.
Intillialy, I despised Subaru for how he betrayed Emilia’s trust in episode 13 of season 1; nevertheless, he has indeed grown. Nearly every one of my wishes for his character, and everyone else’s, came true. Emilia claimed the center stage and had her own agency, for once, and Subaru provided emotional support rather than overshadowing her accomplishments. I will always decry his objectifying of her, especially when attempting to get taken seriously, but I believe the author will remedy this issue in the future.
This was my favorite season of Re:Zero. On a surface level analysis, I could point to the happy ending; it scrapped the Return By Death plot mechanic, Emilia had a heartfelt backstory, and how they saved violence and gore for critical scenes. Ultimately, what really made this season was the leaps and strides in character development. Even for the passive viewers, you will likely find the ending of Re:Zero Part 2 worth sticking around for. I’m in a difficult predicament—where I both love the characters, but multiple aspects hinder my enjoyment of the show overall. The truth is, it is more enjoyable for me to talk about Re:Zero, and analyze its complex characters than it is to watch it. For that reason, it failed to meet my expectations.
2: Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season
English: Attack on Titan Final Season
Japanese: 進撃の巨人 The Final Season
MAL Score: 8.92
Gabi Braun and Falco Grice have been training their entire lives to inherit one of the seven titans under Marley’s control and aid their nation in eradicating the Eldians on Paradis. However, just as all seems well for the two cadets, their peace is suddenly shaken by the arrival of Eren Yeager and the remaining members of the Survey Corps.
Having finally reached the Yeager family basement and learned about the dark history surrounding the titans, the Survey Corps has at long last found the answer they so desperately fought to uncover. With the truth now in their hands, the group set out for the world beyond the walls.
In Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season, two utterly different worlds collide as each party pursues its own agenda in the long-awaited conclusion to Paradis’ fight for freedom.
There seems to be this odd and ignorant consensus pervading the fandom which suggests any and all criticism aimed at a poor product is somehow a direct insult to the workers who made it, and this is a shockingly immature worldview to espouse. Let me get one thing straight: you can say whatever you want about WIT Studio falling victim to Kodansha’s unfair and unreasonable production scheduling in the third season just like MAPPA is now, and how that lead to a double split-cour which ultimately wasn’t even enough to assure consistent quality throughout part two, but you must also admit pointing out these things is nothing more than a diversion from the far greater travesty of animation before you now. Attack on Titan: The Not-So-Final Season is a disgrace to the franchise which came before it on every visual level, and to say so is in no way to deride the overworked animation staff at MAPPA. Am I going to sit here and deny the existence of the throngs of rabid keyboard warriors on social media sending them death threats for producing such appalling CG and embarrassing 2D animation? No, but those people are foolish children with too much time on their hands, and by echoing their indisputably warranted criticisms, I and others like me are not justifying their acts of disrespect and harassment, so I urge you not to feel sorry for saying what you see clearly in front of you and criticizing it for what it is: an ugly, cheap anime.
After episode six, I officially became a manga reader, since I simply could not let this atrocity be my first experience of Attack on Titan’s brilliant story, and what I found in the manga was absolutely stellar shot composition which I had previously thought was simply a product of Tetsuro Araki’s adaptation. Obviously, Araki’s heart-stopping visual direction and irreplaceable cinematic instinct made the anime adaptation what it ultimately was, but Hajime Isayama’s knack for framing an iconic single image when it mattered most still shouldn’t be overstated when the final season here has neither directorial flow nor memorable cinematics. The new character designs which pride themselves on their close resemblance to the original artwork found in the manga simply cannot use their adherence to the source material as a defense of their janky anatomy and inferiority to the beautiful artwork of Kyoji Asano, and the new music cannot use its passable composition as a defense of its utter incompatibility with Hiroyuki Sawano’s constantly recycled tracks. I understand this is a somewhat particular distinction to be made, but with the sheer amount of blatant animation shortcuts used throughout this season—not even counting the CG—season three part two looks like a studio trying their hardest while grappling with a ridiculous time table, whereas this looks like a studio using a ridiculous time table as an excuse to not try their hardest.
But nevertheless, does the masterful writing save the day and make this thing worth watching? With how much is cut out, rearranged, and left unfinished, I would say no, but that doesn’t make it bad. If anything, as usual, the narrative has only gotten better and the themes have only gone deeper. With the basement and its contents finally revealed, the series had to occupy the world it so suddenly established and situate the story as we knew it within that world elegantly, and even with the content from the manga which got butchered in translation, it absolutely achieved this feat. As it demystifies Marleyan society and rationalizes the international bigotry towards the Eldian people, it builds the foundation for one of the most interesting and morally provocative conflicts I’ve yet to see portrayed in fiction, and it does so with complex characters who never fail to inspire emotion, or inspiration itself. While Attack on Titan: The Not-So-Final season is, indeed, not the final season, it’s still an adaptation of a manga, so it continues the story with more or less the same degree of excellence as the first three seasons did, and while it abruptly ends on a cliffhanger mid-arc, that’s more a testament to the fragile production than the source material, its quality of writing, or the acuteness with which said writing was brought to screen. One thing’s for sure, though, narratives as enthralling as this come once in a generation, and it’s a shame this one is receiving such paltry treatment.
This review was originally going to be a lot more sentimental than it turned out to be. To cope with the extreme dejection I felt after watching such a dishonorable end to this once-great adaptation of an unequivocal masterpiece, I was going to try and write this review to examine the final season as a standalone work while simultaneously offering an all-encompassing retrospective on the modern classic that is Attack on Titan, but after WIT Studio dropped it and MAPPA shit it back out in such a visually repulsive and structurally incomplete fashion, I accepted the fact I couldn’t really do that anymore, and my enthusiasm burnt out along with the quality of the show itself. I’ve lost my motivation to even mind it anymore, and if the fact this season is among the highest rated anime on MAL didn’t make this obvious enough already, you all don’t seem to mind Attack on Titan anymore either. The reality that such a magnificently made work of art could receive such a stark downgrade yet still be well received by the exact same fanbase solely because they enjoy entertaining the mere idea of it is not only a sad reflection of the culture surrounding the work, but a cruel insult to the first three seasons which were only able to be the dazzling spectacles they were thanks to the back-breaking work ethic and tremendous talent of the original staff who so naively thought their admirable labor and impressive results weren’t lost on the audience, who’s appetite all can now clearly see as being apparently, totally mindless.
Thank you for reading.
Then came Season 3, and the series was roaring back. The interest in the series had never been higher, and fans flocked back in droves to have their questions answered. Many began viewing the first two seasons in new light once the revelations showcased the intricate planning and immense foreshadowing that had gone under their noses when they’d watched it first. For me, Attack on Titan was always great. Never has an anime made me feel so hopeless if I viewed the world from the perspective of the characters. The absolute mystery surrounding the titans for most of the first season along with stunning animation for fights, memorable OST for almost any scene and emotional dialogue delivered by passionate voice actors made for an unforgettable experience. Season 2 and 3 bring in more revelations, slowly unfolding the mysteries of the world and the titans and shifting the themes of the series. Season 4 has another tonal shift – much greater than previous ones – and it handles it with aplomb.
A change in studios has often led anime series to ruin. The aforementioned OPM was one of the recent big victims of it, but other popular series like Seven Deadly Sins have also suffered due to it and never recovered.
Fortunately, MAPPA have handled the transition well. They haven’t been perfect (more on that later), but all in all, they’ve done a good job producing a new season of what is probably the most popular anime of the last decade.
The start of S4 might have left some people wondering where the original cast went. There’s not just a change of cast in the first few episodes, but also a switch in perspectives. We’re no longer seeing things from the side of Paradis and the Scouts. Instead, we now see it from the view of Marley’s warriors, who’re training to inherit the titans from their predecessors once their time runs out. Gabi and Falco want to inherit the armor but Reiner, i.e. the plot armored titan (Sorry, had to use this once I saw it on Reddit) can’t catch a break. Someone, grant him his wish to die.
Eren’s growth as a character is one of the highlights of Attack on Titan as a series. He wasn’t always a fan favorite because of his hotheaded nature, but as time went on, his perspective of the things around him changed, most noticeably multiple times throughout season 3. Come season 4, his character undergoes a paradigm shift; calm and sympathetic, yet ruthless. As his famous quote goes, “I won’t stop moving forward until all my enemies are destroyed.” He’s a lot more distant, not just to everyone else in the show but also to the viewers. Unlike previous seasons, his thoughts are a mystery and the season clearly displays the divide between him and the other old Scouts.
The handling of his growth as a person and a titan shifter is outstanding, firstly in the manga and then in the anime. Yuki Kaji, the voice actor, supported this exponential growth by exceeding expectations on character delivery. I especially love how well he’s transitioned seamlessly along with Eren as a character and nailed almost every line. There’s hardly a line Eren has spoken in season 4 that isn’t extremely significant to the story.
Oh Gabi! Where do I even begin? She’s supposed to be the female parallel to pre timeskip Eren, but apart from some core traits like being stubborn, she isn’t really that similar to him. Gabi hates the Eldians from Paradis for no other reason other than that she thinks they’re devils and should suffer for the crimes of their ancestors. Eren was stubborn, headed into almost unwinnable battles without a second thought. However, his reasons to hate the titans were justified. His mother was eaten in front of him by a titan, his home destroyed and tens upon hundreds of his comrades butchered by titans in cold blood. He fought for his freedom, and humanity’s.
Gabi, on the other hand, hates Eldians without having seen any of them. She kills people for glory, just for some useless praise. And without spoiling anything, I’ll also add that she’s a hypocrite with her iconic line that’s become prevalent in memes now “But did you see it happen?”.
In her defence, she’s a twelve-year-old girl who’s been brainwashed so it’s hard to not give her some benefit of the doubt. But boy, is she annoying! She’s actually portrayed a lot better at the start of the Marley arc in the anime than in the manga, so I didn’t dislike her as much. She’s neither a bad character nor a great one, but she serves her purpose.
Onto Falco, then. My cute, lovable boy, are you sure you had the same upbringing as Gabi? He’s her polar opposite, able to empathize with his enemies and an antithesis for every one of Gabi’s morals. He views things from a wider angle, often showing maturity way beyond his years. He might not be as naturally gifted as Gabi but he’s a whole lot more likeable. From posting letters for injured people to helping his enemies who shun him instead, this good boy has it all covered. He’s one of the beautiful things in this cruel world.
Pieck is the new waifu that every fan seems to be simping over; Reiner and Zeke share the title of best character amongst the Marleyans for me. Their internal struggles and motives, some of which are only seen by viewers, make a significant contrast to their outer persona, and this holds especially true for Zeke.
Jean remains the character who makes the viewers question their morals because he questions his own and that’s what I love about him. He’s another one who’s come a long way since the cadet days.
Did you think I’d have forgotten Floch? He might’ve been a forgettable side character who didn’t even have a distinct design before S3 P2 (Isayama has himself admitted as much), but he’s one of the stars of season 4, running the show like the chad that he is. He’s an extremist and his actions are brutal; at times, it seems as if he’s doing it to sate his own ego and hate towards those who’ve imprisoned him and his race behind the walls. But despite all this, he’s one of the most entertaining characters post time skip. He’s unpredictable, spunky and has the audacity to pull off stunts that might’ve had your jaws slacking on the floor more times than one. And who can forget the “shh?” King Floch has unquestionably engraved his name as an Attack on Titan legend.
There are so many excellent characters in Attack on Titan that the review would be too long if I talked about all of them, so I’ll stop here.
The character designs in Season 4 see a distinct change, and that’s not all to do with the timeskip or the change in the studio. It’s a mixture of both. To anyone who’s read the earlier chapters of the Attack on Titan manga, it’s no secret that the art at the start was mediocre. Wit Studio did a great job of enhancing the character designs and the art in general, especially in S1.
MAPPA on the other hand have stuck closer to the manga art style for characters (apart from beautifying Armin as compared to the manga, their reasons for which I’d like to know). So there’s a slight change in the art style because they’re following Isayama’s art a lot more closely.
The animation of S4 has been the most talked about point, and for good reason. I’ll mince no words: some of the CGI was downright terrible. There was some genuinely impressive CGI like the Jaw titan, but some very important scenes involving the Attack Titan and Beast Titan were horrendous. It’s not the animators who’re to blame for this but the greed of the production committee and the manga publishers who wanted to have S4 airing before the end of the manga to boost sales.
For almost any other anime, I would’ve let even the terrible CGI scenes slide, but this is Attack on Titan, one of the most popular and highly acclaimed anime ever, and surely it deserved the best treatment possible. Unfortunately, it didn’t get that. Does it make the season bad? Of course not since the season covers one of the best arcs in the manga and the adaptation itself was faithful with top tier voice acting. Could better animation elevate S4 of Attack on Titan to higher levels? Greatly.
My biggest problem with the titan CGI was that it just broke immersion. One moment we had fluid 2D animation, the other we had some janky CGI lacking weight, which made me pause and check if I was still watching Attack on Titan. I’ve re-watched these scenes multiple times and every time, I came to the same conclusion: Attack on Titan deserves better. Remember the marvelous scenes with ODM gear we got in the first three seasons or the titan fights or Levi vs the Beast Titan? Unfortunately, we don’t get that level of animation in season 4, and while understandable given the time constraints, it’s disappointing nevertheless.
The CGI wasn’t always as bad, but had enough prevalence in the most important moments (Eg: Attack Titan vs Warhammer Titan) to be a stain on an otherwise stellar season.
We have some new and honestly breathtaking tracks added to the already great OST from S1 – S3. One of the highlights in the sound composition this season is that there were different composers depending on whose perspective a scene is shown from. For Paradis, we have Hiroyuki Sawano back with all our favorites from previous seasons while Kohta Yamomoto handled the Marleyan side, giving us bangers including Ashes on the Fire. I missed the old OST in the first few episodes because I was worried they’d underuse S1-S3 OST, but they did not. It wasn’t used much because the initial episodes take place from the perspective of the Marleyans. Honestly, having different composers for either side of the conflict seems like a superb choice and helps immersion.
The only real criticism I have about the sound was the OST choice in some scenes in the latter part of the season. And no, I’m not talking about the basement scene here. I thought the basement scene OST choice was great.
Similar to the OST, it took a while for me to warm up to the OP, but looking back now, it’s great and suits the themes of S4. This was a common opinion amongst the community; the majority seemed to have disliked My War for the first couple episodes, then it just grew on people and now it sets the tone for the rest of the episode.
Now that Attack on Titan’s final season (Part 1) has ended, it’ll be intriguing to see what route MAPPA takes for the rest of the adaptation. There’s anywhere between 13-16 episodes of content left to cover, depending on the pacing. Will the production committee see Attack on Titan as a chance to make hundreds of millions of dollars in a movie format or will we have Attack on Titan Final Season Part 2 (lol), only time will tell. I’m not against either, as long as they take enough time and pour passion into making it. I don’t mind waiting longer if it means getting the best production values. Hopefully, that’s the case.
Attack On Titan. But is it an attack on titans now, or maybe a bigger enemy at hand?
I’m sure AOT needs no introduction, it is that one anime that has spammed up everyone’s YT recommendations with drip memes, Eren table scene memes, 10 hour fuck Gabi videos and her getting beat up,ｔｈｉｃｃｋａｓａ if you dived that deep into the culture. When the first episode of the final season came out, it was so powerful not even telling my dad for the Crunchyroll to work was possible. When I say this anime is something else in terms of internal and external events, I mean that this anime is something else. God knows when we are getting another community and anime like this ever again. I am glad I was here to experience this bit of the trek with others like myself and beyond.
I could go on and on about the moments shared. But I must write a review for now.
I may sound like a hardcore fanboy, but I am going to explain why I think this is a 10/10 narrative. I would also like to believe that people reading this review are aware of the references I will make to previous seasons. Ok cool.
Starting off the final season, we get a bit of insight into the enemies on the other side of the sea. From initial impressions, it can be told that this nation, which uses children in warfare, is clearly lost in morale. And that is the slow building of this new true evil enemy of humanity, Marley. How AOT goes around building this empire of Marley is an interesting one. Marley has qualities of a fascist, imperialistic, tyrannical nation that can be converged to past real-life nations in human history. Those qualities don’t just exist for the sake of it too, it is part of the long prejudice against Eldians, in which Marley exploits that to grow themselves and their dominance around the world. It is that which starts a whole chain of events. A serious chain.
AOT FS story is focused on the cycle of hate, the consequences it has and the action people want to take due to it. Everything that has ever happened so far in the story from start to end (as of now) the cycle of hate continues to prevail in high life, all the while both sides suffer from nothing but losses. That is where the story really shines, the story plays two events on both sides of the spectrum, one we already know and love, Eren’s side, and the other we are made to hate Gabi’s side, it does a good job at making us hate Gabi’s side of the story too, but when you look into it, who is wrong in this mindless loop of destruction? Both sides have given birth to a nation that seeks to exploit and dominate in an imperialistic fashion, the other gives birth to a literal bakemono, a Monster, the devil himself if you really want to go there. The story does a really good job of making those find more important questions. No one here’s truly wrong because, in war, both sides believe in what they are doing to be the just cause of action. Both sides are deluded by their beliefs so much so that there isn’t a spec of question as to if they might be ever so slightly wrong in their actions. Everyone becomes a victim of their surroundings. It is a fantastic way to really emphasize this world of AOT. From the start, it is clear that the hate got too many characters to the point of joining the army at a young age and leaders making up false stories for the sake of maintaining status. The world is cruel, and it sure as hell shows it here.
Characters are really something else in AOT. I want to first get rid of two characters that I found obviously flawed in the anime. Those two being Mikasa and Armin. In simple terms, the former is still a hardcore simp, the latter is still a hardcore weakling. How they don’t change after all these years is beyond me. If Eren’s drip game can go from 0 to 100, wouldn’t it make sense his childhood friends caught on? But in all seriousness, I never quite understood the purpose of Mikasa and Armin. They are annoying, part of the reason I don’t like them too much, but I acknowledge that annoying =/= bad character. The bad qualities of them should I say lie in what purpose they serve to the story as of the Final Season in my opinion. Mikasa has some benefit of the doubt given to her, she is starting to open up that Eren’s apparent downfall is not one that wishes the best of him in his future, she even goes out of her way to question whether or not he is doing the right thing, but again, for the sake of the story, she needs to brainlessly be there for Eren even when my boy is committing various war crimes in the former Eldian empire. She was going places but easily lost herself due to a static character within her. Her “development”, if you can even call it that, is a stretch in my opinion. She makes no effort to do anything she wouldn’t normally do for a nice change in character, especially during these god awful times that both sides have faced. To be fair, Mikasa is supposed to be this life devoting girl to Eren because he saved her, but no development is absurd on quite a few levels, making her less of a believable character. Armin is still the same dude he was from the start, I honestly don’t know why he too hasn’t changed, actually, it would make sense that having the successor of human’s greatest leader would feel like a burden, but all that time to train apparently meant nothing, well okay then. No development here to be pleased of.
Now, for the real MVPs. Eren. The dude is one of my favourite characters in the series, and not because he does an edgelord moment, but his change from the start to the end whilst still being consistent is quite satisfying and understandable to view. When Eren said he was gonna kill his enemies, he wasn’t playing games. He did everything in his power to make that try and this season shows the beginning of such a change of heart.
Gabi. The annoying girl? But is she really? I remember when it was very easy to hate on Eren because of quite a similar personality, I was the same in that boat. Everything she does is justifiable despite being executed in a way to annoy the audience. Past the clouds and she isn’t really any different from other characters like Eren. Hate grew on her, and she is fighting for the sake of the people she cares about, sounds a little bit like Eren does it not? Overall, I think Gabi is quite an interesting character, though, unlike Eren, she is portrayed on the wrong side of the story, giving her a different experience than Eren’s life, the person she is most similar to. Her character plays out quite well if I am honest, the truth which she faces, later on, the reaction of which makes for a tragic life for Gabi honestly. Great writing overall for her.
Reiner. Gigachad hella swagger Reiner drip glow up. In seriousness, Reiner is one of the best characters in the series. He understands a lot more about the world and the harsh reality he has to face due to the brainwashing and control of Marley, he is a victim of the situation. A tragic one after what he has had to face during so. I feel quite bad for the dude but it goes to show like Gabi, he was part of the corrupted system which devalued his life so much that he was lost of everything.
Zeke is one I want to get a little into too, later on in the story he plays a big role in everything that goes down, but there is more than meets the eye with Zeke. you being to understand his motives a bit more and why he did the things he does, an intriguing monke, to say the least.
AOT uses a lot of explicit themes in the story to give it the acclamation it has, like revenge, hate, dystopia, but one of the more implicit themes to be shared is influence. I have noticed that every character in AOT as a child has been influenced in some way. Eren with his past trauma growing into hatred, Gabi the same without the trauma, more like a duty. Reiner the same, but it is based on duty rather than anything else, Zeke would get into spoilers, but you will see what I mean when you get there. AOT does well at this and has made for more believable characters in the grand scale of things, past experiences will have a lot on what you say as you grow up. It also makes me think that on both a superficial and intramural level, the story has something to share regardless of how deep you dive into it. There aren’t a lot of stories out there like this one. One of a kind honestly.
The visuals are an iffy situation, I would be a liar to say I enjoyed the visuals all the way, but notes to take into account are, watch this at a minimum of 720p HD quality, and try to get used to the CGI early on. The CGI really got to me in particular but I got used to it in the end, it is quite unfortunate that Mappa had been given a really bad schedule, it was borderline impossible to make great sakuga all the way through, welcome to the anime industry where money is a top priority, but that’s a story for another time. I understand that there wasn’t any substantial time for Mappa to even make 10/10 animation, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that this isn’t the best thing in the world. It isn’t. So I didn’t see this as anything of glory for the most part, however, even with a bs schedule, Mappa did actually have quite a bit of moment where there were just great scenes overall, their 2D animation and was still amazing to hold onto the tragic reality Mappa faced. They also have amazing camera work, which made most scenes that much more impactful. I could name a few but they would go into spoilers. This is a tragic category, but it is one that I still found some goodness in.
I have been meaning to only give 10/10 audio to only Clannad’s OST, but that changes today, not that numbers meant much to begin with, but you know. AOT FS doesn’t suffer from any kind of lack in the soundtrack to the point where innovation is needed, it also has a wide range of sounds that feature more or less anything that produces a sound, basically, this has it all, the great sound is clearly prominent in this series and has clearly shown that these pieces were composed. So many great tracks to remember, be it due to controversy or just the hype surrounding the said OST brings. OP and ED are in the same boat, I can’t say both tracks have left my head at all and on the visuals side of things they are completely memorable and original. Amazing sounds. Nothing less. I also need to talk about the seiyuus because they did an outstanding performance, it is burnt into the memory of how well they performed, generally amazing on everyone’s side. You won’t see acting like this in a good while I tell you, endorse it now whilst it is still there.
There are a lot of things very enjoyable about AOT FS. Most of mine comes from an external experience, in talking to fans about the philosophy of the characters, what might be upcoming and which side are you on. You can do this with yourself internally too, it depends on how you look at it really. Universal enjoyment is really what I just said, mostly about asking yourself the different questions this has to offer, there is no wrong answer which makes it all the more interesting. Random theories come out of nowhere but they could hold water. Is all fair in war? At the end of the day, AOT allows you to build your own enjoyment of what it gives to you.
Other side factors directly within the anime include hype moments and fight scenes you are just dying for. Whilst they aren’t the best, they are still extremely good and something that I find myself looking forward to at times. AOT needs to have its action here and there to satisfy both parties I guess. In saying that, I do have to point out that a lot of people get a bit bored with the slowness of episodes containing no action and serving as plot-based episodes, I would agree slightly, but it is the same slow journey that is worth the while. You just need to prevail. All in all, AOT does a good job of allowing everyone to enjoy themselves. There’s something for all in this gem.
Overall – 9.6 (10)
Story – 10: Philosophical questions, political troubles, generally very intriguing story to find yourself immersed in.
Visuals – 9: Yes the CGI isn’t the best, but it is actually used quite well, 2D animation still amazing and
Audio – 10: Amazing OST, OP, ED and seiyuus. It is one of a kind here.
Characters – 9.5: Slight hiccup in a few characters, everyone else
Enjoyment – 9.5: Very minor complaint, sometimes episodes are less intriguing than others, but most of the time the hype is still there and this is something to look forward to.
Overall – 9.6 (10)
Before I cut this review off, I really want to put out there this amazing things have gone down with everything in relation to AOT, good or bad, these events were something to witness, getting a following like this again for new manga, which will eventually turn into popular manga, into anime, into popular anime, into a global success, doesn’t seem like it will happen anytime soon. I am glad I was here when this season aired, experiencing all the events that went down lol. Truly monumental moment.
1: Fruits Basket: The Final
Japanese: フルーツバスケット The Final
MAL Score: 9.08
Hundreds of years ago, the Chinese Zodiac spirits and their god swore to stay together eternally. United by this promise, the possessed members of the Souma family shall always return to each other under any circumstances. Yet, when these bonds shackle them from freedom, it becomes an undesirable burden—a curse. As head of the clan, Akito is convinced that he shares a special connection with the other Soumas. While he desperately clings to this fantasy, the rest of the family remains isolated and suppressed by the fear of punishment.
Tooru Honda, who has grown attached to the Soumas, is determined to break the chains that bind them. Her companionship with the family and her friends encourages her to move forward with lifting the curse. However, due to confounding revelations, she struggles to find the tenacity to continue her endeavors. With time slowly withering away, Tooru contends with an uncertain future in hopes of reaching the tranquility that may lie beyond all this commotion.
When I was a kid, shojo dominated. Cardcaptor Sakura, Sailor Moon, etc., were cultural phenomena. This really fuelled my passion for the genre/demographic tremendously. While other people my age preferred the action packed episodes of YYH and DBZ, I enjoyed the slower and more down to earth Kodomo no Omocha. In many ways, Furuba is a blast from the past, a relic of a bygone era of storytelling. The core themes and issues addressed in Furuba are so applicable to daily life, it almost hurts. Love, grief, letting go of the past and becoming your own person, etc. The overarching narrative spanning 60+ episodes of breaking familial bonds and moving on from trauma was so beautifully done that here at the end of that journey, I’m left in tears. For me, the mark of a true masterpiece is something that teaches me valuable life lessons. I lost my father to cancer at 15. I turned to animanga and light novels and have found many important things since then. The one thing that I still struggle with is letting go of the past. This remake arrived at the perfect time for me, and I could not be happier with the story-telling, character depth and educational aspects of this series.
It wouldn’t be a Furuba review if we didn’t talk about love. Love is at the core of Furuba’s story. Familial, platanoic and romantic. Over 3 amazing seasons, we are introduced to a variety of characters who are in one way or another dealing with some complications of love. Whether it’s an ex, parent who can’t remember their kid, abusive parents, etc. The story does an amazing job of building nuanced and realistic relationships between characters. This applies to both the romantic sort and non romantic sort. Obviously, there are some exaggerations and anime-y logic going on with some of the relationship building, but for the most part, the relationships in Furuba feel organic and realistic. The romantic ships are built up over the course of over 60 episodes and are done in such a way where you can’t have been oblivious to them forming, but they’re also not too in your face, at least until the second half of this season. In this season, it felt like everything was turned up to the max. The tension, stakes and action were amazing in Furuba Final. I would say that if you found S1 and S2 good, you’ll be blown away by the jump in quality we got this time around. Fruits Basket has always felt a little soapy, but this season felt like a straight up Mexican Telenovela. And I loved every minute of it.
There’s so many rich and well written characters in Furuba, it’s almost cheating. There’s legitimately 15-20 characters that could have “stans” They all receive their own mini arcs and grow over the course of the series, and we see the fruits(pun intended) of that development in the final season. You know you’ve done something right as an author when people have side characters as their favourite characters. Looking back on where everyone started in episode 1 back in 2019, and where they’ve ended up here in the final season is truly beautiful. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on how we, as an audience, have grown along with this cast we love so much.
Fruits Basket as a series, and by extension Fruits Basket Final, can be enjoyed by both hardcore shojo romance fans, as well as casual anime watchers. It has everything you’d look for in a conclusion to a series. A gripping climax, satisfying development and resolution for all parties, and ships sailing. Fruits Basket Final is essential viewing for any romance fan and will stand the test of time as one of the best stories the medium has ever produced.
Fruits Basket Final gets 10 out of 10.
*This review covers all three seasons of the new Fruits Basket anime adaptations*
Fruits Basket’s story revolves around our precious protagonist Tohru Honda’s three years of high school, and her encounters with the Souma family’s cursed members. Some members of the Souma family have a curse. According to this curse, if they hug a member of the opposite sex they turn into one of the Chinese Zodiac animals, and also they have forced spiritual bonds with the current head of the Souma family who has the spirit of God of the Chinese Zodiac. Most of the plot in Fruits Basket comes from Tohru’s encounters with the cursed Souma family members. As you guess, these members have shitty lives and backstories because of their curse, so they need a little bit of rehabilitation, and that’s Tohru’s duty in this series. She gives love, company, friendship, and a helping hand to most of the Chinese Zodiac members and literally saves them. The main characters like Kyo and Yuki have several differents episodes in the different seasons, but the “saving” of the supporting cast ─Tohru’s two best friends are also in this category along with the Souma family members─ mostly happens in their respective arcs, except for the conclusion parts, almost all of the conclusions happen in the final season. And these drama-heavy arcs are the strongest parts of the Fruits Basket along with the conclusion parts.
Fruits Basket actually starts as your typical shoujo-romance anime with a little bit of reverse harem teasing. But, this reverse harem teasing never happens again after episode 6, and the show starts to give you drama-heavy arcs while keeping its romcom core as good as ever. It handles different themes like bad parenting, love, friendship, admiration, forgiveness, and many more with its characters in these arcs, and never fails to tell its stories to the viewer in the best way possible. The directing is top-notch. It isn’t anything flashy like you can see that so-called big names’ works, but it manages to convey many different emotions to you. TMS and Yoshihide Ibata put so much soul into these new Fruits Basket adaptations and created a lot of unforgettable emotional scenes.
Also, another good thing about the drama-heavy arcs is the pacing. None of them and none of their focus characters overstays their welcome, and almost all of the events happen and flow naturally.
I said none of the characters overstays their welcome, but I also think some of them used way less than their actual potential. For this part, we can separate the characters of Fruits Basket into three categories: main, supporting+, and supporting-. As you can guess, the main characters are the ones that have the most screen time. Supporting+ characters are the ones that have a lot of impact in the story but don’t have as much screen time as the main characters. And the supporting- characters are the ones you will see rarely in the series except for their own arcs.
One of the Fruits Basket’s biggest cons and pros come from the supporting- characters. They are great additions, but none of them used till their last potential, especially Ritsu. However, if the author decided to use them as much as the supporting+ characters, this series would need another two-cour season and the episode count would be over 85. In this case, the series itself would overstay its welcome. Some may say the author threw so many unnecessary characters and didn’t use them, but I don’t think so. Like I said before, their additions to the story are great and somehow necessary for the main cast’s character development. It’s a dilemma, and the answer is up to you. Do you prefer more episodes with more character arcs even though it will overstay its welcome, or do you prefer fewer episodes even though that means some characters won’t get as much deepness as the other characters? Personally, I prefer the latter one.
However, the main characters have almost zero problems. They are one of the best main cast I’ve ever seen in any anime. Watching Kyo and Yuki’s growth throughout the series, and seeing Tohru’s cheerful smile that fills me with happiness in almost every episode are the memories I won’t forget easily. Also, the romance between the main couple is probably my favorite romance in any show right after the romance of Clannad’s main couple. Their love is growing naturally and realistically. When the show reveals who loves who you don’t get surprised. And they don’t become a couple easily, they fight for it. I wish I could talk about the main couple’s romance longer, but since this review covers all three seasons, it’s almost impossible for me without spoiling anything, and I don’t want to give a spoiler in this review. So, let’s move to the production qualities.
This show didn’t get animated by a studio that is famous for its talented animators. So, don’t expect amazing animations from it except for the really important scenes. Where the Fruits Basket really shines is coloring and special effects. There are so many scenes you can get a screenshot and use as a wallpaper without adding any filters thanks to the amazing coloring, and every single of important scenes have them. However, you won’t see the special effects that much since they are mostly used in the shapeshifting scenes and the amount of them aren’t much. On the other hand, the sound quality is perfect in every aspect. The voice actings are amazing as you expect from a cast like this, and the soundtracks are incredible. Fruits Basket has the same guy who composed the OST of Your Lie in April as the composer, and he did an amazing job in this series too.
Fruits Basket made me experience an amazing story that is filled with wonderful characters, and this experience will stick with me for the years. After spending a lot of time with this series, I’m in a complicated mood while leaving it behind. Goodbyes really make us lonely…
“As long as you live things will keep happening. As long as you’re alive wishes will keep being made.” – Tohru Honda
My personal journey through Fruits Basket can definitely be called a weird one. When news about a remake of this beloved Shoujo series got around, a large portion of the anime community was understandably thrilled. Having zero knowledge about the series, I was definitely curious what the fuss was about and decided to venture into the world of Fruits Basket. What I found was a world so beautifully crafted, with an interesting premise and many promising characters. Even though this is the case, slowly but surely I started to lose interest in the series due to its initial formulaic setup, whereby nearly every episode acts as a character introduction for a new Zodiac member. And with things becoming hectic in real life, I ended up forgetting about the series and stopped midway through the first season. That was roughly 2 years ago. Recently, I realised that the Final Season is topping the MAL charts and I thought to myself, “Wow, is the show really that good?”. Once again, my interest in the series piqued and I finally decided to set time aside to finish watching the series. And indeed, it really was that good. Slice of life as a genre has always been my personal favourite, with series like Kaguya-sama Love is War and Clannad AS being in my Top 3. And now I can confidently say, Fruits Basket is one of the greats in the genre.
What sets the series aside from other shows, is the amount of effort and care dedicated into crafting characters and building character relationships. We are introduced to the many Soma members early on, with the first half of the first season essentially used to introduce us to a wide range of characters. Each episode we watch as Tohru in one way or another form a personal connection with the members of the Soma family, which becomes the backbone of the series. As stand alone episodes, the quality was undoubtedly there, but what it lacked was a clear direction of where the series is headed. However, this was no doubt purposefully done to allow us as the audience to have an emotional connection with the big cast of characters early on. Some of the characters that I found most interesting are as follows – Kyou, Tohru, Yuki, Akito, Saki and Shigure, but I’ll be focusing on the main trio and their journey throughout the series.
xxxx CHARACTER SPOILERS xxxx
Let’s begin with our main heroine, Tohru Honda. Acting as the heart of the story, she represents the ray of sunshine that descends upon the Soma family. Her righteous personality can be so entrancing at times, that it may seem that she has no flaws. She was initially portrayed as a flat, one-trait character, in fact the majority of the cast is. But do not be deceived, for she is in fact one of the best written characters in the show, and is deserving of the title of main heroine. In the Final Season, the layers of facades were peeled back and we are introduced to the real Tohru, a girl with her own sets of insecurities. With the passing of her beloved mom, she was unable to move on. While she deceives herself and those around her, saying that everything is fine and putting up a smile, deep down she is continuously burdened by the trauma. In the memory of her late mother, she swore to always put her mom first in her heart. This sentiment that she has for her mom may seem lovely at first, but it ends up being an unhealthy coping mechanism, with Tohru being over reliant on her late mother. Watching her develop and mature as a person in the Final season is a really heartwarming sight. Now with Kyou being the No.1 in her heart, it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love her mom. The love between her and her mother is unbreakable, and that is a fact that will forever be unchanged. Her mom wants her to find happiness even in her absence, and that’s what Tohru will do. To see the people that she helped along the way return the favour, and guide her to overcome this barrier that she imposed upon herself, I can’t help but be genuinely touched by the show. It is a perfect portrayal of what goes around, comes around. While not perfect, Tohru shows how far kindness can go, and how even the little things can rub off on someone and change them for the better.
Moving on, when we were first introduced to Yuki, he was renowned in the school for being the Prince due to his elegant looking face. Nothing could be further away from the truth. Being tormented by Akito since young, Yuki was an empty shell. Withdrawn from the people around him, lacking the courage to stand up for himself and unable to bring himself out of the darkness, Yuki was in a very pitiful and depressing state initially. And then comes Tohru, the ray of sunshine. Her entrancing personality was able to show Yuki the possibility, that just maybe, he too is able to love himself. I remember there was this one scene of Yuki in Season 1 episode 18 that really stuck with me.
Yuki: “Learn to love yourself?” What does that mean? How are we supposed to find something good about ourselves? The whole reason why we hate ourselves is because we can only see the parts we hate. So forcing ourselves to find “good points” feels hollow, like we’re making things up. It’s not like that. That’s not how it works. I think it’s only when someone says they love you that you’re able to start loving yourself.”
It is true that we are the only ones capable of helping ourselves, but sometimes, to even find the courage, the motivation to do so may seem to be a nigh impossible task. Others shouldn’t be directly providing everything for the individual, instead what others are capable of doing is providing the environment, providing the platform for him/her to once again take courage and rise up. I find this to be a satisfying conclusion for Yuki’s character to come to, and is in fact quite wise of him. Yuki’s character growth throughout the Final season was just amazing to watch. Being able to look forward by overcoming his past ordeals, stepping out of his comfort zone when he joined the student councils, are amazing feats considering the short time span for all these events to occur.
Lastly, my personal favourite character of the series – Kyou. While the moments shared between Tohru and Yuki were very heartfelt, the moments between Tohru and Kyou were just on another level. From the very first season, it was already hinted quite explicitly that these two are essentially destined for each other. With Tohru’s favourite animal being the cat, and Kyou being the one ostracised from the rest of the Soma family, it only fits for the story to put these two together. That said, I do feel for people that believed that Yuki and Tohru should have gotten together, because the story often portrays a sort of rivalry happening between Kyou and Yuki as they fight over Tohru. But alas, it is ultimately revealed that Yuki sees her as a Mother like figure, essentially mother zoning her, which I find to be relatively hilarious. Thankfully, the story also gave Yuki a happy ending, with him finding love in Machi, creating a believable and cute chemistry between the two.
AHEM, back to Kyou. As a standalone character, Kyou’s character journey is an art form. Being born with the ‘accursed’ cat spirit, people are unable to distinguish Kyou as a person from the spirit, causing him to receive a heavy amount of hatred and spite. All of the Zodiac members suffer the same fate, but it is especially so for Kyou. With his mom committing suicide, it scarred Kyou emotionally and mentally, as the people around him force him to acknowledge that it is HIS fault for the suffering of those around him. The tragic circumstances as a kid caused him to develop 2 major traits. The 1st of which being self hatred, thinking that he is not deserving of any form of love. The 2nd being an unhealthy coping mechanism, in the form of burdening Yuki with his hatred, deeming him the one that caused all his misfortune.
Time and time again, he was met with situations where he inevitably hurt those around him due to circumstances he can’t control. Even the toughest of will would have a hard time going through what he went through, which is why it is completely understandable for him to harbor such a deep rooted hatred for himself. However, that is not the narrative being told through Kyou. While it is easy to wallow in sorrow, to cry and loathe your own unfortunate circumstances, is it really going to change anything? Sure, it is understandable and even acceptable for us to blame tragic situations for how we turned out to be, but doing so we are ultimately unable to confront our demons and move on. The important aspect of Kyou’s journey is coming to acceptance of his own tragic past, acknowledging that while he may have a part to play in causing the suffering of others, he ultimately shouldn’t constraint himself to the past, that he should learn to forgive himself. Sometimes, the simplest solution is often the hardest. By no means is moving on an easy task, the many characters in Fruits Basket have proven that throughout the span of 63 episodes. Even so, we should not be afraid and limit ourselves to our own tragedy, after all there is no harm in trying to move on and live our lives to the fullest.
Kyou’s unhealthy coping mechanism was also ultimately resolved in the Final Season. Deep down he always knew and understood that his way of coping wasn’t good for him in the long run. In spite of the fact that he knew that Yuki wasn’t the cause of his misery, he continued to put him on a villainous pedestal, because it is easier that way. To know and understand something is different from accepting it. Kyou was initially unable to accept the fact that he was wrong, that Yuki isn’t the villain that he makes out to be. However, he got a wake up call in Tohru, the girl he has an unyielding love for. He was ultimately able to accept it, able to move on, and able to live his life to the fullest. It is interesting to note that Kyou’s and Tohru’s character arcs are not so dissimilar. Both had the same issues of having a bad way to cope with past traumas, and both managed to overcome them in the end. Kyou’s character journey in this series is no doubt my favourite, given the depth of his character and the amount of dedication and passion put into writing his arc.
But of course, characters can only be portrayed properly with proper visuals. Animated by TMS entertainment, the visuals are just stunning. While there may not be any jaw dropping Sakuga moments, the frames in this show are just inherently pleasing to look at. It is hard to find a single frame where the characters are off model, or the background looks bland. The beautiful visuals bring life to the wonderful characters of Fruits Basket, and I am so glad it got such a premium treatment. Throughout the series you can feel the effort the animators from TMS entertainment put into animating Fruits Basket, and I have to say their hard work definitely paid off. And to no one’s surprise, the beautiful visuals are accompanied by equally beautiful music. The OSTs in Fruits Basket really reminded me of the melodic tunes from Clannad. If I have to choose, my personal favourite would probably be ‘I will protect you’ and ‘Spring will come when the snow melts away’, with them playing in a lot of the significant moments of the show, sending goosebumps throughout my body and tears to flow out. The Opening is also incredible. On top of the amazing shots of the characters in the background, the banger song ‘Pleasure’ really suits the vibe of the series. Not to forget the amazing voice actors that gave it their best to give us the most authentic experience this anime can give. There were moments where the characters shined through the collective efforts of the voice actors, going above and beyond to deliver their lines. The production value in this show is just crazy.
With the amazing production values aside, I do have some critics for the show. For starters, there are many scenes that involve showing the tragic past of the characters, which may be a bit overused for some people. For example, we are given multiple iterations of Yuki’s traumatic time with Akito. While it hammers home the point of Yuki being continuously tied to the past, this way of showing it may instead turn the audience off, given that they have already seen essentially the same scenes several times. This can also be seen as a way of over dramatising the characters’ inner turmoil which in turn gives the opposite effect of undermining the problem the characters face. That said, I personally did not have much of a problem with it myself, but it is something I undoubtedly noticed. Furthermore, due to the nature of the story, some of the characters are not fully realised. For example, we barely got any screen time of Souma Ritsu, the person that represents the Monkey, only seeing his character growth in one episode in Season 1. Given his importance as one of the Zodiac members, I thought it was a shame that he didn’t play a bigger role in the story. That said, I rather them focus on the main trio instead of giving these characters with minor roles to play more screen time, so I guess it was a fair trade off. Nonetheless, my point still stands that some of the characters introduced have wasted potential and could have been utilised far more efficiently.
Overall, Fruits Basket was a really wonderful ride, and the Final season was amazing. It’s unapologetically genuine characters were a breath of fresh air in the current pool of anime shows. While Akito has always been a thorn in this beautiful story, even she can change. The idea of Fruits Basket is that we should never be tied down by unhealthy restrictive bonds, and instead choose a path to take for ourselves. Whether it is school, your job or your love life, you are free to choose as long as you don’t harm others along the way. It was a surreal experience and I am so glad that I sat through it all 🙂
A solid 9.5/10
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Fruits Basket: The Final
2. Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season
3. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season Part 2
4. Fumetsu no Anata e
5. Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu
6. Tokyo Revengers
7. Nomad: Megalo Box 2
9. Beastars 2nd Season
10. Wonder Egg Priority