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 Heion Sedai no Idaten-tachi, Wonder Egg Priority, Black Clover, and more!
10: Heion Sedai no Idaten-tachi
English: The Idaten Deities Know Only Peace
MAL Score: 7.79
Eight hundred years ago, terrifying demons threatened mankind’s existence. On the brink of extinction, humans prayed to their gods, calling out for someone to save them. Emerging from these desperate pleas for salvation, battle deities known as the “Idaten” were born. Possessing unnatural strength and endurance, the Idaten managed to defeat the demons and an era of unprecedented peace was finally ushered in.
Having never encountered demons before, the present generation of Idaten knows nothing of the demon’s brutality, but they have instead only lived a peaceful existence. Training under Rin, the only remaining Idaten from 800 years ago, the new Idaten find ways to survive in a time where they have seemingly outlived their usefulness. However, when the tyrannical Zoble Empire resurrects a demon, the misfit crop of gods are called to the battlefield against their natural enemy once more.
Written by Amahara, illustrated by Cool-kyou Shinja (of which this is the 3rd work of 3 featured in this season, damn this author is rekting the Summer season hard) and produced by MAPPA. Announced as one of many shows at the MAPPA Stage 10th Anniversary event under debut director Seimei Kidokoro’s direction, Idaten tells the story of humans and demons co-existing in a fictionous world where demons drive mankind nuts, only to have literate gods in the form of deities called “Idatens” for humans to pray for salvation and extinction upon their kind, and attain peace for an exchange. And damn is Idaten-tachi such an uncanny, other-worldly anime, if not already hinted by both Amahara and Cool-kyou Shinja’s expressions of interest at weird-looking demon and deities with the same aforementioned traits from the series they’ve worked on, much less all the fast-paced frenetic action. Combine that with MAPPA’s production that animation-wise, looks identical to Jujutsu Kaisen and the visuals full of psychedelia, Idaten is grotesque, rapey, and in all ways condescending, but to stomach all those, and you’ll see an experimentation show like no other (well, count Dorohedoro one as well).
A deity, or an Idaten in this matter, is made out of these things: Adding your own thoughts to a nascent existence in order to shorten the amount of time required for manifestation. As a result, the personality of one who draws the newly chosen Idaten has a certain level of degree of influence shapen from the summoner. If you couldn’t get that scientific-level explanation, just remember this trait: a common shared desire between beings thirsting for abilities that would help defend those worth living a life. That story is told through Rin, a young 800-year old Idaten who has witnessed the battle between Idatens and demons, and sealing them on a vast desert statue/monument-like location so that the peacetime “treaty” can be maintained for years and generations. Protecting this seal for 800 years has the Idaten gods rendered tiredness at their job, because their role is to eradicate demons, and since there’re no demons to kill, they need to kill time somehow to remain for that one purposeful day, where demons have an uprising to prove their usefulness towards mankind once again. But as Magneto of X-Men once said: “Peace Was Never An Option”, and indeed, demons acted on that thanks to a nation known as the Zoble Empire, stacked full of demons at their disposal to wreak havoc at both mankind and the Idaten gods they pray to. So, it’s the conquest of the Idatens to finally have their purpose-driven life be served to give the demons a beating-down and wash, rinse, repeat the same commitment held for those 800 years of peace past. It’s quite the simple “as molasses” story, but Cool-kyou Shinja’s illustrations truly take the manga (and now the anime) to the next level.
It’s of no doubt that Amahara knows what his characters want to be, and is thoroughly exemplified through the manga and anime. Starting off with the Idaten deities crew, Rin is the 800-year old Master Shifu Idaten who has crossed her life at doing the one sole, important job of not letting demons have their way, and she is OP by default, learning from the experiences of the elder gods who went before her. Her understudies are Prontea and Hayato. The former is a mix of both strength and intelligence, while the latter is this normal-looking boy who’s quite brash and proud, and is one who’ve suffered most with Rin’s unrelenting training sparring sessions, becoming the usual “no-reason” Shonen-ish trope of a strong OP character to protect those who can’t defend for themselves. Paula is the same as Hayato, though she’s forced to become like him because she is an Idaten in name only, and walks alongside Hayato in companionship. Ysley is truly balls-to-the-wall intelligent, I’d reckon that I can refer to him as their world’s Albert Einstein. Alas, where there lies a yin, there must be a yang, and the demons equalize the Idatens in every regard. There is no shortage of powerful demons, but intelligent ones are far and few in-between, so for the lead group led by Dr. Oobami (better knows as Demon Lord Over-M for a disguise), the higher-up demons are posed to follow his political totalitarianism and make that ideology work. Some demons like Takeshita and Brandy (king and queen of the Zoble Empire) take that into heart, while others like the sex-crazed Miku envelopes that and comes up with strategists Zhuge Liang style to see their objective towards the end. Miku is a crazy-ass archetypal character (like the rest), and given Amahara’s fascination for fictional rough sexual favours, I have to admit that Miku is the closest resemblance to Interspecies Reviewers in almost every way, and “come one, cum all” if we all have a lil’ bit of Miku in our lives.
Not surprisingly, MAPPA has come under the spotlight recently for the unapologetic practices of overwork, and if the Attack on Titan’s director Yuichirou Hayashi’s now-infamous panda black eyes meme at the MAPPA Stage 10th Anniversary event is of no consolation, then the studio itself is in deep trouble of angering fans the wrong way. Speaking of the event, this show was one of many works featured at the event (with the biggest highlight of course all given to Chainsaw Man), and the reception was decent. Even then, I feel that MAPPA has been pushing their employees way too much by pumping out lots of works (just like all other studios except KyoAni), and while Idaten’s production values are on the high-end, you can’t really tell the backbones of how this anime managed to shine with its outlandishly unique visual aesthetics, hiding the inherent flaws of a studio whom has regularly pumped out hit after hit action-heavy shows like Jujutsu Kaisen.
The music is just simply *chef’s kiss* fantastic, and by the way, it’s not Akari Nanawo’s ED, but Tatsuya Kitani’s OP, which is just pure banger, and one of the stand-out OPs of the season. The OP visuals are on a whole other level resembling the likes of Dorohedoro, only if it wasn’t CG and a lot more color to bring that trippy, seizure feel. I’d never get tired of watching such a creative OP done very well to complement the high beats of Tatsuya Kitani’s excellent vocal range, and for a female-like soprano no less sung by a male. Visuals are top marks across the board, and Akari Nanawo’s ED is fine I guess.
Heion Sedai no Idaten-tachi is pure uncensored wildness like Interspecies Reviewers, has character designs like Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (when it comes to the busty boobs part), and debut director Seimei Kidokiro’s first outing is truly a great step in the right direction. Definitely looking forward to more works that this director will helm in the future, and for the rest, Idaten is not for the faint of heart with its R17+ rating of violence, profanity and sexuality at the core of it all. I’m speechless that MAPPA has done another wonderful job, but that should come as of no surprise. Just get the inner workings sorted out and let everyone have some rest from working hard to give us more anime. Meanwhile, watch Idaten, it’s a very good godly show that doesn’t know peace in it.
The crazy colorful artwork looks awesome, but unfortunately, the animation is rarely there to back it up. There’s one or two flashy cuts of action sakuga every now and then, but the production is super messy, so even these cuts can sometimes be surrounded by speedlines or completely unanimated stills. It also does that annoying shit MAPPA does now where they’ll hire freelance animators without correcting their stylized drawings at all, so in the finalized episode, certain scenes will look totally different and out of place. I saw people defending this when they did it with Jujutsu Kaisen and when A-1 Pictures did it with Fate/Apocrypha and Grancrest Senki, and I won’t fault casuals for thinking it looks cool regardless of technical shit, but let’s not be willfully ignorant and pretend this is an artistic choice by the animation staff when it’s clearly a consequence of poor scheduling and outsourcing foreign animators from Twitter. Not a joke, by the way. They seriously outsourced from Twitter. The sound director doesn’t have a bad record, but the audio mixing in this show is really uneven. I bring this up because the music is amazing, but sometimes it gets drowned out by the action, and other times it’s just as loud as the dialogue. The opening is badass, and it’s filled with bizarre imagery and tons of personality, but it just makes the show seem like a let-down by comparison. The writing is fine, and the director obviously cared, but while many comedic moments can be genuinely hilarious, most of the humor is slapstick. There’s a scene where this woman makes fun of a nun for getting gang raped, so I can’t say there’s no memorable characterization, but the main protagonists are all dull and underdeveloped. It’s for this reason the series can honestly be accused of making its villains WAY more likable than its heroes. It doesn’t stick to tropes and actively tries to be as irreverent, vulgar, and objectionable as possible—to the point emotional moments feel unnatural and obnoxious—but daring doesn’t equal engaging, and the show is often boring. Some say this is a bad adaptation which butchers the flow of the manga and suffers from heavy censorship, and this may be true considering its odd pacing issues and anticlimactic cliffhanger ending, but frankly, I don’t care. What I care about is the anime in front of me, and the anime in front of me is underwhelming, if watchable.
Thank you for reading.
Fixed colour palettes? We don’t do that here, the colour changes as the atmosphere changes. You might get reminded about JoJo, which is entirely normal. The art style, as expected of another Cool-kyou Shinja work, is overly simple yet manages to remain fascinating. “Never judge the book by its cover.” The complexity of the art style does not define the quality and overall enjoyment of anything, anime or not. The fight animations are fluid, smooth, well-done, and perfectly demonstrates the intensity of the fight between heaven and earth, Idatens and Demons. Blood spills are everywhere, and maybe a lost limb, it superbly captures the fighting spirit that everyone longs to witness in an anime. The fight scenes are probably the first thing that comes to my mind when you ask me about what’s the main appeal of Heion. Not saying that Heion is only good for its fight scenes.
You might think that the character personalities are bland, but they’re totally not… that much.
– Hayato, the Eren Yeager of the show. Strives for power over everything else. He’s not the type of character who gets overpowered simply by believing in the “power of friendship”, he believes in the power of power itself, constantly training under Rin in order to achieve the strongest “power” can become.
– Ysley, the type of nerd who instead spends his time figuring out the smartest and most brilliant way to cheat in an exam. He’s the big boss behind all the plans. Planning everything, performing “surgery” on demons to inspect and gain more knowledge about them and even managing to convince enemies into joining forces with him.
– Rin, the only surviving Idaten from 800 years ago, rumoured to be the strongest Idaten out there. Nothing much to talk about her except that she’s basically the center of the story. She’s the trainer of all Idatens and everything relates to her. Even Obama himsel- I mean Oonbami has some sort of relation to her that might be spoilers if further elaborated.
If you look closely the characters are actually not that bad.
Openings. Some skip them. Some don’t. But in Heion, NO ONE on Earth skips them unless they’re in a rush. The OP is an absolute banger. It’s a combination of a catchy song and animation that perfectly matches the beats and bass of the music. Providing one of the best OP experiences ever presented in the entire anime history.
The quality of sound effects are not realistic, low-quality, and drags me back to the 80s when television and the animation industry weren’t as fully-fledged as the present. However as the show progresses, I realized that IT WORKS. Take as an example when a studio hired a chef to film a cooking show on making pancakes, but the production team messed up and provided the ingredients for a pasta. The chef still managed to make pancakes better than before knowing that it was the wrong ingredients. I know this might not make sense but it’s the most direct way of explaining how well the seemingly out of place sound effects work in this. It fits the atmosphere, the plot, the simplistic art style, to the point that you will feel weird if you imagined Heion with realistic or any other genres of sound effects.
So the conclusion, is Heion worth our time to watch? Yeah, probably. Possibly the only con of the anime is that there are a few bits of deus ex machinas. If you’re looking for some otherworldly fight scenes and a simple yet dark and thrilling story then I highly recommend you to give this a shot. It’s fully up to you whether you decide to mark this show as a boon or a bane.
Heion Sedai no Idaten-tachi gets an 8/10 from me.
9: 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.
8: Black Clover
English: Black Clover
MAL Score: 8.05
Asta and Yuno were abandoned at the same church on the same day. Raised together as children, they came to know of the “Wizard King”—a title given to the strongest mage in the kingdom—and promised that they would compete against each other for the position of the next Wizard King. However, as they grew up, the stark difference between them became evident. While Yuno is able to wield magic with amazing power and control, Asta cannot use magic at all and desperately tries to awaken his powers by training physically.
When they reach the age of 15, Yuno is bestowed a spectacular Grimoire with a four-leaf clover, while Asta receives nothing. However, soon after, Yuno is attacked by a person named Lebuty, whose main purpose is to obtain Yuno’s Grimoire. Asta tries to fight Lebuty, but he is outmatched. Though without hope and on the brink of defeat, he finds the strength to continue when he hears Yuno’s voice. Unleashing his inner emotions in a rage, Asta receives a five-leaf clover Grimoire, a “Black Clover” giving him enough power to defeat Lebuty. A few days later, the two friends head out into the world, both seeking the same goal—to become the Wizard King!
Black Clover is a show that is in many ways the literal embodiment of its protagonist’s struggle. Asta goes from being the laughingstock of town to the literal saviour of the kingdom. During that internal journey, we also watched the anime gradually evolve and get better as time went on. Production qualities seemingly increased as the popularity increased as well. Asta’s journey is extremely satisfying and well written. It’s done so well in fact, that it feels like we’ve been on this journey right with Asta. Everyone loves a feel good underdog story. There’s been no bigger underdog than Black Clover.
For me, the mark of a well written series is how well you’re able to immerse yourself and truly feel apart of the story. When I first got into Black Clover a couple of years ago, I was easily able to binge the first 99 episodes which were out up to that point in the span of a few days. Episodes went by in what felt like a breeze. I found myself in awe at the quality of writing and the magical concepts used. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why so many people shit on the series or rated it lowly.
I’ve said numerous times that if Black Clover went seasonal, it would be one of the highest rated Jump Series. The story is better than MHA and JJK. What has unfortunately been the big bump in the road for BC is the inconsistent production quality throughout. At points, Pierrot have literally had to beg on Twitter for people to help out with episodes. Fortunately, the series is going on hiatus due to how close its getting to the manga, and I really hope Pierrot use this opportunity to make it a seasonal show after the movie. The long running anime model is dead, and doesn’t give animation staffs the time they need to make high quality episodes.
If you’re on the fence about watching Black Clover, do it. Yes, it has some inconsistent animation at times, but the story is genuinely the best in shonen. Loveable characters, an immersive world and amazing action sequences make Black Clover one of the only ongoing shonen that I enjoy. Black Clover gets 10 grimoires out of 10.
“If you flip the 10, it becomes a 01!” – Some Jerk a.k.a remember how Black Clover was despised by everyone?
Black Clover is one of the many myriad of Shonen shows that Weekly Shonen Jump has been banking on imitating the success Shueisha once had since the diminishing of the Big 3 (One Piece, Bleach, Naruto), alongside many other WSJ titles that have constantly received headlines for breaking sales and adaptations that make up the modern age of the anime landscape. Unfortunately, at a time when the Big 3 were all but fizzled out of the community’s eyes, there was but one mangaka amongst the many other Shonen authors who were trying to get the attention of Weekly Shonen Jump to have their works publicized…his name is Yuki Tabata. Being a sophomore into the manga industry, his first work of the short-lived and then cancelled 3-volume long Hungry Joker was not received well, and if you know anything about the intense competition of Weekly Shonen Jump: “If your manga doesn’t sell well, we will take it off indefinitely without trial. We have more titles that we are ever ready to sink our time and resources into promoting new material and publicity to the large population who are always ever hungry for more.” OK, shame on you for the first try. But take a look at his second work…and yet it still doesn’t sell when this came out in early 2015 when it was serialized in WSJ. But Shueisha at least had a good idea that while this work started off being blantantly and averagely similar to the Big 3 in terms of the story and plot, and so they released the first volume thereafter in June of the same year. And to say the rest is history is an understatement, because even in the Oricon charts, Yuki Tabata just couldn’t do enough to maintain the growing popularity of his work, only selling within the Top 25 and not even cracking the Top 10, even after the anime adaptation came out (at least for the 1st year running). It’s only through the sheer talent of director Tatsuya Yoshihara and his production team at Studio Pierrot that would propel this “then infamous, now famous” work into the greatest of great oblivion with the passing of time, that Yuki Tabata finally can breathe a heavy sigh and continue developing Black Clover into one of the many modern Shonen juggernauts that we know today, selling from the thousands to the millions.
I’m not gonna say that what Yuki Tabata did here was plentiful, the story plot was rife of a roller-coaster ride of the usual Shonen tropes and cliches that quickly garnered attention as one of the worst series to be published and then through Studio Pierrot’s infamous low-budget visuals, another strike as one of the worst modern Shonen shows that aired back in 2017. Heck, I probably would not want to include what Black Clover is all about, you can refer to the MAL synopsis or even Wikipedia to read it. In a nutshell, think of the Big 3 and the main MC’s aspiration of “I want to be
Overtime, we get to see the extensive character cast of Black Clover, and I’m still going to rely on my gut feelings here: each and everyone of them feels like cardboard cut-outs that are worth surmising to invoke the feelings of just blantantly plagarizing from other Weekly Shonen Jump works, and that’s where Yuki Tabata can be faulted with trying to make do of the cliches and tropes of the Shonen genre that worked well at the time. The problem is with his way of execution of character traits that we’ve seen way too often to try lifting inspirations from one source to another, so much so that it becomes overbearing and full of cringe. Let’s say Asta’s rival Yuno. He’s a skilled Wind Magic user, blessed by the gods to have magnificent power for OP prodigy powers, and as indicated by the magic books known as Grimoires: he’s the four-lead clover magic user. Now tell me if any of those traits are lifted whether in and out of context of similar characters you might have seen throughout your read list of Shonen lookalikes. But as further evidenced, it’s with the passing of time that helps distinguish each and every character to their types and whatnot, giving us the audience enough time to digest about what makes them tick and work, and appreciate them for their presence to the different progressing story arcs of the main series.
You know me, I’m very critical when it comes to studio productions, and Studio Pierrot to me, stands as one of the worst studios to ever exist, even if they adapt works that often lose out on the quality of the source materials that fans so desired to see on the small screen. Black Clover is no different with the stigma that Pierrot productions tend to have, and for 1001 good reasons. But once again, like I’ve said at the beginning, it’s thanks to director Tatsuya Yoshihara for helming this long-running project that has seen its fair shares of highs and lows. Black Clover might’ve started on the wrong foot for being the similar case towards Studio Deen at being decades-old studios with variable quality, for the test of time stands between the production staff team to stand in the gap and make their efforts worth it, and the payoff was certainly worth it in the long-run that was only destined to run for the full length of a year, that subsequently got lengthened and amounted to 3.5 years worth of time that increased the hype with some episodes having the Asta trademark of “I will hit my limits!” that expressively shared the experience of sticking in the long-run. AND BOY, DO THOSE EPISODES DELIVER with at best 9-turned-10/10 ratings that even trended on Twitter. YES, Black Clover IS BIG in both Japan and the West, and with Crunchyroll being the biggest benefactor that this show has garnered the No. 1 top spot in 80+ countries, you can’t certainly lie at where Black Clover is now with the insane popularity. To that I say, great job Pierrot for making me love a show that I now endear as one of the many Shonen long-running series that I can recommend.
Even the music can’t be understated. For as many as 13 sets of OSTs within the 3.5 year long run of Black Clover, we’ve definitely heard some “diamond in the rough” gems that we’ve gotten used to overtime, with many songs that really stick out to be the series’ representatives when it comes to recognizing that it originated from Black Clover. Sound director Hajime Takakuwa certainly did wonders at what he does best, but for this one I have to give props to the many artists that have contributed cult-classic songs, from the OPs: Kankaku Piero’s “Haruka Mirai” to Vickeblanca’s hit songs “Black Rover” and “Black Catcher”, and EDs: Itowokashi’s “Aoi Honoo” to Faky’s “four”. These are just some of my top favourite songs from Black Clover, but there’s just too many to list them, because most of them are bangers in their own right (with some just being decent at best).
Like what @Goober-fish has said: “Whatever the case may be, Black Clover is my ultimate guilty pleasure and I wave that 10 with pride.” And I reverse the words of some jerk that said the sentence at the beginning: “If you flip the 01, it becomes a 10!” Black Clover may have started with being a score of 01, but looking at it now, it’s definitely worthy of the 10 score in every possible way: the story that got better overtime with the characters, the insane Pierrot animation quality and right down to the fantastic OSTs that we are graced with to our pairs of eyes and ears.
Never have I thought that I will return from a hatred of a stigma to loving them for Shonen shows, and even if I or you have never watched the Big 3 before, Black Clover is EASILY the best recommended entry show for anyone wanting to dive into Shonen shows…that’s if you can last all 170 episodes in one go. Thanks Black Clover, now it’s no longer just a guilty pleasure, and I’m an addition to wearing that 10 with pride.
I’ve been following the series since its inception. I’ve read and re-read its source material and, I can say it does improve–for a Black Clover standard, that is. This series received hate, backlash, and terrible reception since the onset of its TV anime. And to nobody’s surprise, it’s the most hated series of modern Shounen–2014 and onwards, right after the era of the big three. If there’s any advice I can give for people interested in watching this series, it is to go into it for pure entertainment. Be open-minded, have low expectations, ignore the hate, and watch it for yourselves.
Black Clover anime started ugly. The pacing, sheer predictability, genericness, and the dreadful usage of Shounen tropes turned off people–understandably so. But for me, I loved it. I loved it not because it was good, but because it was the purest generic anime that was not afraid for what it was. It knows its production was constrained. It knows its plot and characters took “inspiration” from previous works with few tweaks here and there, and most importantly, it knows its target audience. With this, once the show solved its pacing issues, it quickly flew from arc to arc with hype moments after hype moments, and all I did was to turn off my brain and enjoy the shit show.
To provide some examples, after the dungeon expedition arc, Asta, Noelle, Yuno, and some other magic knight squad members were summoned for recognition medals. In that banquet, the show introduced more of its supporting casts. It demonstrated its power system, characters’ abilities, showcased some of its societal structure and prejudices, and then jumped straight to the Clover Kingdom’s invasion.
Throughout this invasion arc, it entertained me by never letting go of its accelerator. All the Magic Knight captains that were introduced previously got their moments to show off. Whether be their magic or personality, it showed all of it. The show then exploits each of its newly introduced characters to the limit by having them interact and fight alongside each other. The dynamics between characters such as Fuegoleon and Nozel, Asta, Yuno, and Noelle, Yami and Jack, provided the fun. It’s cheap, it’s lazy, but it worked so well for a braindead like me.
The other aspect of Black Clover’s storytelling is the seamless transition from an arc to another. If some terrorists brutally wounded a beloved character, the most logical route is for the main casts to go after them. And they do. If the vice-captain of the Golden Dawn is acting out of character, the most logical thinking is to seek out the true identity. And they do.
How do they do it? They do it by the classic shounen way: Tournament arc–my favorite aspect of mindless battle shounen.
But along the way, the show plants some seeds of suspicion–there’s something more sophisticated with the adversaries that the Clover Kingdom were up against. It’s these careful hints here and there that made the grand finale of Black Clover’s first saga a memorable one. And it is in my humble opinion that the first saga of Black Clover is one of the best of modern shounen. The finale wrapped up every plot point presented up to then, it concluded characters’ development until that point, and it answered every question along the way. Not to mention, the final plot twist was a phenomenon to be held.
Yuki Tabata’s writing isn’t anything revolutionary. He takes inspiration and does his own twists. He utilizes whatever skills he has got at his disposal and tells his own story within the Shounen genre’s confinement. And I enjoyed every second of it. I have no regrets.
As I aforementioned, Black Clover’s production was severely constrained. From the start, the anime lacked staffing–specifically, key animators and animation directors–and had an unsustainable schedule. Before the first episode of Black Clover even premiered, the Black Clover anime production team was given only 5 months of pre-production, for a long-running battle shounen. To put it into perspective, a 12 episode regular anime usually takes a year of pre-production. Thus, it’s no surprise that the animation in Black Clover declined significantly soon after it began airing. As that happened, it’s also reported that some of the staff working on the anime had gone through physical and mental exhaustion, which they eventually fell ill.
Now, why does it matter?
Well, it doesn’t–at least from a show’s quality standpoint. But then I don’t want to clown on Black Clover’s animation either because of this information. I know the animation and art are inconsistent; the consensus is that Black Clover’s animation is inconsistent. It can be mindblowing for a single episode, and then for the next 10 to 20 episodes can range from unbearable to mediocracy. I can list every single flaw of Black Clover’s art and animation, but then that would be repetitive since I’m sure those aspects have been talked about over the years. Lastly, I’m fine with it. I’m okay with its inconsistency in art and animation because I love this series. I grew up with it, I enjoyed it, and I’m willing to forgive its flaws.
If you have read this far, I just want to thank you for taking your time.
7: Mairimashita! Iruma-kun 2nd Season
MAL Score: 8.12
After many trials and tribulations, Iruma Suzuki is finally happily living among demons despite having to hide his true identity as a human. Even more so, he has now found his ambition in life: keep ranking up in this world!
However, that plan is halted when Iruma’s club is temporarily dismissed, and he is forced to be part of the student council, known for its strictness toward rowdy students. Its cold-hearted president is Amelie Azazel, Iruma’s friend. Although Iruma is not used to following their rigid schedule and many rules, he still wants to prove himself and help Amelie alongside all of the other members of the council.
But trouble arises when Amelie’s personality completely changes due to strange circumstances, putting the student council’s reputation in jeopardy. Will Iruma be able to save them and avoid having the whole school turn into pure chaos?
With plenty of moments filled with laughs from funny absurdity, to serious atmosphere, to action scenes, to romantic moments with the potential of unleashing waifu wars in forums, both young and veteran viewers will surely find something to enjoy in this show.
You can almost feel the love people from the studio put into making this when you start noticing even little details like those changing ‘easter eggs’ in the op and ed songs throughout the anime.
For a shounen anime, this one gets a 10/10 from me.
With Season 2, albeit still capturing the same essence of its setting with Iruma’s cohesiveness towards the Misfit Class, comes new characters, not to mention new challenges as well to ascend to the throne of becoming the Demon King of their generation. The main trio of Iruma, Asomodeus a.k.a Azz-Azz and Clara are still just as enjoyable, if not more so with the involvement of the Misfit Class classmates, the new teachers like Balam Shichirou, and new irritable-lovable ones like Ronove Lumiere. AHHHH Ronove is class…class…class…
Asthetically, Season 2’s only upgrade is with its production values, that much akin to Season 1 giving most of its legs to the action department, uses its time to keep the same polish and deliver that polish to the small screen. Particularly with one of the big arcs of the manga, the Walter Park arc gives precedence to exact the same oomph as is Amy Kiriwo’s school breakout in Season 1, so for those whom have watched Season 1, you know that the quality is there. Musically, the OST is just alright too. DA PUMP’s sequel OP song, feels nothing of the iconic Season 1 OP “Magical Labyrinth” levels, but it’s good enough. Same with the ED…it’s just there.
Overall, a pretty good sequel to continue the trend for people who love both the manga and/or the anime. Not the most impressive as usual, but hey I’ll take whatever it can muster. And now we get ready for Season 3.
What I love about Iruma is how the anime isn’t focused on 1 character or idea. Focusing on romance at times. Diving into the relationship of the characters at others. Adding more world building elements and setting up the story to more ideas waiting to be explored.
This season, the anime focused more on the characters. It started with MOE AMER!!!! The most adorable creature in the anime and how her feelings were developed specially towards Iruma. It then went into Iruma going into his Evil cycle which was something we all wanted to see after the finale of the previous season. The anime then went more into the familial relationships around the side characters. We knew more about Iruma’s classmates, their families and what they wish to become. The anime then shifted a focus on a romantic part while also adding more depth to Iruma showing him in an angry state for the very first time. The creativity got upped a lot specially at the theme park arc with how it was able to flourish the characters and add more to their charm.
The new characters also made the anime better. Ali-san and the onee-san were unique to say the least and always fun to be around. Can’t wait to see more of them.
The only thing I didn’t like was the aquarium part as it didn’t feel like Ameri would wear something revealing like that specially given how shy her character is. But I was glad as the anime didn’t turn into an ecchi fest and was wholesome from start to end.
The art, animation and overall directing were great and I loved Ameri’s VA as she portrayed the adorableness of Ameri perfectly.
Overall, I would give it a 9.5/10. A really great sequel and I can’t wait for season 3.
Would recommend the whole series so far.
6: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken 2nd Season Part 2
English: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2 Part 2
MAL Score: 8.32
The nation of Tempest is in a festive mood after successfully overcoming the surprise attack from the Blumund Army and the Western Holy Church. Beyond the festivities lies a meeting between Tempest and its allies to decide the future of the Nation of Monsters. The aftermath of the Blumund invasion, Milim Nava’s suspicious behavior, and the disappearance of Demon Lord Carrion—the problems seem to keep on piling up.
Rimuru Tempest, now awakened as a “True Demon Lord,” decides to go on the offensive against Clayman. With the fully revived “Storm Dragon” Veldora, “Ultimate Skill” Raphael, and other powerful comrades, the ruler of the Tempest is confident in taking down his enemies one by one until he can face the man pulling the strings.
Welcome to the flavour of the season isekai where the mc gets randomly transferred to an unknown world, is super op for no reason, has super op allies just because to help him win every battle by default and also forgets about his previous life like it never happened at all. The show starts off as a popcorn feel good series where you turn off your brain while watching mindless action and people building things here and there like Minecraft, only to take a complete turn and fail miserably. With each passing season, it becomes evident to me that the author is clueless on how to write a compelling story with thought-provoking themes mixed with dynamic characters and exciting world building. He is only interested in exposition dumping instead of showing us through the story, big flashy battles where characters shout their new epic move, redundant dialogue and power ups left and right. What’s worse is that he habitually tries to create fake tension and suspense brimmed with shallow political aspects and surface level solutions to arising conflict. Repeatedly spending half of the arcs building up for the climax, but it isn’t rewarding since we already know that Great Rimuru will win every battle by default and in a very uneventful fashion, usually by pulling something out of his ass with no prior foreshadowing.
The supporting cast, much like the mc are cookie cutters who do nothing but rave about how great Rimuru-sama is, as the Gary Stu faces no opposition nor repercussion. The one time he does face consequences leads to his friends’ demise. This creates an interesting twist which places him in a dichotomy. “The opportunity of a lifetime for character development!” I thought to myself. Though it seems that the author had other plans in mind, or rather, had no plans at all since he had no interest of prolonging this narrative. He only meant to use this pretentious hot garbage as a sorry excuse of a setup to give him more power ups. After that, he pretty much becomes Jesus and revives the dead. Rimuru has a walking plot device capable of doing anything when required: It creates portals when said to be almost impossible, extremely risky and demanding; It breaks 300 years seals in mere months; It gives life as it revives the dead; It averts clear limitations set on Treyni, a spiritual guardian bound to the forest by transferring her soul in another body like it’s nothing; and it goes autopilot when Rimuru can’t defeat an enemy, which allows him to find ultimate victory with no casualties. This makes the show unbearable as there is no complexity to it. No threat, no tension, no stakes and no consequences. Raphael has a contingency plan for everything as it’s a Batman belt in the literal sense strapped with gadgets we may only discover when the plot demands it. Breaking every rule set forth by its universe, making me wonder why said rules were even brought up in the first place.
You would expect a production befitting the light novel’s popularity as its sales consistently tops the category’s charts yearly. Instead, we get a cash grab made of powerpoint presentations filled with excessive usage of still shots, visibly low budget CGI and subpar background art. I mean what did we achingly waste half of the season sleeping through the prologue for? It feels as though the animators emanate no sense of creativity in trying to bring the light novel to life with extremely uninspiring fight choreographies. They would rather spend the budget on the openings instead of the actual episodes. I mean A for marketing but F for the finishing product. This is uncharacteristic since light novels usually get good adaptions. Also, the villains are bland and look non-threatening. They evoke no intriguing motif, as they solely exist for the plot, to give Rimuru-sama enough reason to power up more than he already has and needs to. They’re your typical “everybody looked down on me and now I’m going to make everyone feel what I felt” sadistic villains. The funny thing is so much time is spent building these villains up like they’re a big threat. Forming alliances with different kingdoms, reviving Veldora, putting strategies in place with constant meetings, but let’s not lie to ourselves we all knew that he would eventually become Rimuru’s punching bag. I knew it, you knew, everybody knew it. The comedy is also pretty bad as it becomes repetitive overtime while heavily relying on all the common clichés that you find in anime, but this is entirely subjective to the individual.
In conclusion, it was painful to watch this show. I tortured myself just to complete it near the end. He always wants to do what’s right and always has his way in the end, despite how immoral or contradictory his actions may be and I’m honestly just sick of it. I wish that more isekai creators would put more effort into building up their world organically instead of always overly relying on common tropes of power fantasy. The isekai genre is an interesting idea but is often so poorly executed into what would sell most, instead of what would be a decent story.
In the end, this is just my opinion.
Hopefully this will be the last time that we’ll see TenSura on the small screen, so here’s the highlights of this season being the sole Volume 6 of the LN in a full course dinner’s worth of a complete package:
– The appetizer: At the end of the 1st half of TenSura Season 2, Rimuru meets up with Veldora (in his storm dragon appearance), and they do the E.T. thing again, but this time, Veldora gets a major change of its character to change the landscape of the fantasy world in an abrupt turn to everyone’s shock.
– The entrée/main course: The man-and-monster summit between the Jura Tempest Federation and other allied kingdoms and nations. A fair bit of reconciliation and recreation firsthand, then the major analyses to discuss about Demon Lord Clayman’s atrocities (and other factions a.k.a the Kingdom of Falmuth attached to it) which laid waste to Tempest incurring huge losses in the 1st half of Season 2.
– The dessert: The final course that is the meeting of the Demon Lords, or “Walpurgis” to settle this conflict once and for all between Clayman and Rimuru, whom the latter has completed the Demon Lord ascension evolution in Part 1.
Overall, Part 2 adds to the complements of Part 1 (that aired in Winter), just in the split-cour fashion because of the pandemic. Combine both parts together, and we the audience know how extensive the destruction of Tempest was brought about, and surpisingly, this whole incident we were led to believe that Clayman was the one behind all of this. But don’t forget, there’s the Master puppeteer that is Yuuki Kagurazaka’s devious act of instigating a huge and significant conflict such as this, and this is just the beginning of this wayward intelligent and nihilistic enemy that was once tutored by Shizue before she passed away. It’s just that I couldn’t understand why it takes about more than half of the season (which are like 200-300 pages worth of content) to drag through one of the most hyped events in TenSura’s anime to date.
Everything’s the same as of Part 1, but boy did 8-Bit pump it up in the action scenes. Sure, it’s a tad above the quality seen when Tempest was at its destruction phases, but the age-old quote of “saving the best for last” applies here with the same and improved touché to go out with a bang. The supposedly last OST set is not what I will call memorable, but I can say that they’re good songs at the very least. MindaRyn’s 2nd featured Anisong “Like Flames” for this part’s OP is a step above Kamitachi Otoko’s ED, though they share similar vibes with the same outlandish vocols. Takuma Terashima has been a mainstay ever since TenSura’s anime adaptation started back in 2018, and while this ED “Reincarnate” is IMO the worst of the songs he’s performed for the series, every song of his has never sounded stale at the very least.
If you like the previous installments, then this should be the same and vice versa if otherwise. Nuff said that we should all know TenSura by heart by now and before.
There was a defining moment in Season 2 that dramatically shifted the dynamic of the narrative, and that was the Falmuth invasion. At first, I thought this was a good direction for the story to take. As the saying goes, you don’t know when something’s valuable until you’ve lost it, and witnessing the heartbreaking massacre on Tempest added some much-needed stakes to the story. It highlights just how fragile the city of Tempest can be, and it reinforces the idea that it’s something worth protecting. Such a loving community utterly devastated by humans, a race infamously known for their close-minded fear and ignorance. This can easily be seen as a metaphor for how minorities are often misunderstood and shunned because of it. The city of Tempest is truly the lifeline of the show, so it’s understandable that Rimuru would want to retaliate, but I feel as though he went too far. Up until this point, Rimuru kept that casualties to a minimum, only killing when absolutely necessary, so I was expecting the kind-hearted Rimuru to mourn the loss of his people, then try to establish a more sound relationship with the human race; this is a fantasy, after all, and I would like to believe people are actually able to be reasoned with, but the story took an unexpected turn. It introduced this cheap plot device where, if Rimuru evolves to Demon Lord, he can revive everyone who died in his city. Yea, you can kiss those stakes goodbye, ‘cuz from here on out, there will be none.
There’s really no going back from this error. From now on, I know Rimuru will ALWAYS come out ahead no matter what, because the story can just pull something out of its ass to make sure of it. Throughout the show’s entirety, Rimuru’s powers and resources were handed to him on a silver platter, so I was genuinely interested to see how Rimuru would respond when things didn’t go his way, but of course, that doesn’t matter anymore. Yes, I understand that Slime is trying to be an escapist fantasy where everything goes right, but the invasion of Falmuth was an honest attempt at introducing a compelling conflict, and it fell flat because it’s trying to have its cake and eat it too. Needless to say, this has made Part 2 kinda boring…ish?
Funnily enough, despite having no narrative stakes, it didn’t totally ruin the experience for me. I guess watching Rimuru and co. is enough to simply enjoy the show, so it wasn’t a chore to sit through, but it definitely isn’t as charming as it used to be. I, personally, enjoy shows from a spectator’s point of view, and I seldom enjoy things that require self-insert. While most people might project themselves onto Rimuru to live out their fantasy, I simply admire Rimuru as if I’m a part of the community, but after seeing the oh-so-kind Rimuru slaughter thousands of humans, it’s hard to appreciate him in the same light. Sure, he did slaughter hundreds of orcs in the previous season, but this time, he did it with this eerie sense of malice to him. It almost feels as though he’s this communist overlord coated with a veneer of humble benevolence and prosperity. I dunno, it’s kind of unsettling to see all of his subordinates obsequiously worship him with this unquestionable loyalty, and when someone does question Rimuru, he just responds with: “I want to make the world a better place!” and everyone is just like: “wow, Rimuru, you’re such a nice guy!” and I’m here like “dude, you just killed thousands of people in cold blood, who’s making their world a better place?” It’s hard to relate to all the characters who are doing nothing but blindly jerking off Rimuru, and it’s even harder to relate to the slime king who can do no wrong. Because the show has lost that relatability, the show just isn’t as engaging as it used to be. Now, the character interactions aren’t nearly as endearing and actually slightly obnoxious. The fight scenes have become overlong and exhausting. It’s well animated, but it’s just a bunch of badass wannabes standing around announcing meaningless attack names and doing some flashy nonsense, and the dreadfully loud, bassy sound effects make it especially nauseating to sit through. These are ultimately small, nitpicky details, but they do add up and take away from the experience.
I should also mention, Slime has had a villain problem for a while now where their only motivation is that they’re evil, but Part 2 has exacerbated this issue. Clayman was the “big bad” the show’s been building up to for a long while now. Every conflict before now alludes to him being the guy pulling the strings, and now that we actually see him in action, it turns out he’s actually quite cartoonish and pathetic. It’s as if reviving half the population wasn’t enough, and they just had to hammer home the fact that this show has absolutely zero tension. Oh wait, but Clayman isn’t actually the guy pulling the strings, turns out there’s a guy above him who’s the REAL villain! Oh boy, I can’t wait to see that confrontation, isn’t it exciting? No. No, it’s not. Remember back in 2012, everyone was freaking out about Thanos in the Avengers mid-credit scene? Yea, that was a cool reveal because Loki was already a cunning, world-ending threat. I suppose Clayman is the Loki of this universe, but this shouty dumbass is laughable at best and pompously overbearing at his worst. Seriously, this is just a pitiful attempt at raising the stakes where there is none, since Rimuru is so OP that he’ll probably just brush off the next villain with ease anyways.
I know I’ve been pretty negative throughout this review, but I still kind of enjoy the show despite all of its flaws. I wish I could just ignore these thoughts and experience the show for what it is, but alas, these things do indeed distract me. Like I said before, building the city of Tempest was what I found to be the most enticing aspect of the show, and I guess at some point, the show stopped being about the community and solely about Rimuru. Everyone either praises him or is impressed by him. We get a scene where 2 big bad demon lords talk about how mysterious and fascinating Rimuru is. In every fight scene, we have people shouting out how cool he is, and that kind of excessive stanning is lost on me.
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: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken 2nd Season
English: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 2
MAL Score: 8.41
Second season of Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken.
In the second season of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Rimuru is mainly interested in creating equality for fantasy beings and humans. It would involve negotiating property, spheres of influence, and moral ideals with other races. If that conflict sounds interesting, you’ll be disappointed. The story sweeps the perceived plot under the rug in favor of a one-sided war and meaningless dialogue. I would have preferred to see Rimuru gain equality for his people diplomatically as they hinted at. Instead, we got a formulaic fantasy war that became entirely pointless in the end. If you liked the first season of That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime but wished it had been edgier, you might enjoy this.
Despite the copious amount of dialogue, Slime is incapable of intelligently resolving conflicts without having characters fight. Aside from slightly better than average animation quality, Slime is similar to every other action isekai clogging up the seasonal anime roster. You could argue it’s because the main character began a civilization, but it’s surface level. Why is Rimuru’s society so perfect? Why doesn’t it have any problems? It’s because he is perfect in the eyes of the author and the audience. He’s written for you to project yourself onto a seemingly flawless hero. The weirdest part is, no one questions him. He’s always right. The show had chances to prove it is mature by letting its dead characters stay dead. But death is never permanent unless it’s the bad guys.
The first half of the season spins its wheels like a carriage slowly approaching a cohesive story. Rimuru and co. fool around, and it is more or less what you’d expect from an OVA of a typical anime. Plenty of fanservice to go around, the same lame jokes, no character development. The only ‘story’ in this section is exposition dumps. Through conversations with aristocrats, Rimuru makes trade agreements for supplies. Their negotiations involve drinking alcohol, then immediately agreeing with each other. It’s boring. Rimuru still goes off on tangents explaining his next plans as an almighty leader to no one in particular. His dialogue continues to feel like meaningless word salad ripped directly from the light novel. He narrates to the audience as if the author has never heard of the term “show-don’t-tell.” The writers were somewhat aware of how dull the script was because Rimuru has a few unfunny quips to break up the monotony. The English dub makes more attempts at humor. That’s even less funny than the Japanese jokes. His jokes read like they were written by middle-aged investors rather than someone with a sense of humor. The rest of the cast doesn’t add to the humdrum script—or much of anything.
There is no reason to care about any of these characters. Rinmuru’s followers have individual drama, but it ultimately has no bearing on the story. Despite being nice to everyone, Rimuru doesn’t seem to care when his people die—and I can’t blame him. The side cast simply vomits exposition to progress the plot, and all of it is presented as slide shows that drag on for minutes on end: similar to The Promised Neverland S2.
Compare these characters to the cast of Re:Zero; there are fewer of them, colorful personalities, they each get backstories, and the hero needs their help to succeed. Most of all, they have enough depth to intrigue us. In Slime Time, Rimuru can do everything on his own. There are unnecessary characters, and the relevant ones barely get characterization. Even the most present side characters are fanservice vehicles. Like Shion, AKA boob woman. In case you forgot her (I don’t blame you), she is Rimuru’s secretary who doesn’t do anything except flop around and throw tantrums like a newborn child. Shion is your typical power fantasy waifu bait—she’s inexplicably in love with the main character. Despite having powers, she constantly needs help, not just physically, but Rimuru needs to pacify her when she behaves like a child. It was almost laughable when we found out she was unceremoniously killed off-screen, along with scores of Rimuru’s citizens. It was glaringly obvious they’d be resurrected by the all-powerful Rimuru. At least that annoying scantily-clad loli was absent this season.
The most memorable subplot told a sappy love story between two irrelevant characters. Their relationship progressed too fast even to care. Still, it was an attempt. The woman was a cliche damsel in distress; despite having powers (like Shion), she’s incapable of doing anything independently. Hilariously, she even gets a powerup when her boyfriend hugs her. Unfortunately, the couple became little more than Rimuru’s toys. In the eighth episode, Rimuru brutally murdered her. He declared, “You need to die,” with no explanation, then killed her in front of her lover. They embrace melancholically, he screams, she dies. Shortly after that, he reveals he had to rip out her heart and replace it with a new one to prevent the demon lord from controlling her. It’s pretty convoluted, but what confused me the most is how unnecessary it was. Rimuru could’ve easily done the replacement quickly, in private, or at least warned her boyfriend first. But no, this is Slime Time. Rimuru plays with their lives and our emotions for artificial drama. This scene is a microcosm of the show’s biggest problem: The sad moments are inevitable and blatantly mapped out. If a villain dies, they stay dead, but the good guys rarely die permanently. I’ve seen people defend this lack of stakes by saying, “It’s a comedy show. Of course, they come back to life.” But why kill the characters, to begin with? There’s nothing funny about it unless you find ridiculously predictable writing hilarious.
Warning: Discussion of sexual assault below.
At around the halfway point, the most contrived conflict in all of Slime Time began. One of Rimuru’s civilians, a goblin kid, gets falsely accused of sexually assaulting a girl—and that’s how the war ignites. Although the second season’s political backdrop is one of uncertainty, it is not why the war began. Rimuru and his followers want things to change, namely integrating his mixed-race society with the homogeneous human civilization. The church represents the humans, who want society to regress—to achieve this, they endeavor to genocide all monsters. Rimuru’s solution to the war is to win the war in five minutes (even those who surrender) and colonize their land. I cannot root for a protagonist who willingly kills people who surrender. That’s a war crime in our world. Though I suppose that makes Rimuru no different than the average politician in the US. He’s like the US president of the isekai genre.
To tell you the truth, none of this intriguing political tension began the war—just comically evil villains who stirred drama for the sake of it. The girl who accused the goblin smirked menacingly when all the townspeople believed her immediately. It’s lazy writing, at best. At worst, it shows the writer is out of touch with reality; women rarely falsely accuse men. Portraying these kinds of shallow conflicts makes women who speak up about sexual harassment only adds to the stigma that they deserve to be ashamed and discredited. If you’re familiar with these kinds of controversies, you’ll know the anime community harbors an inordinate amount of people who harass the victims. I should’ve known Slime wasn’t above using these tinker-toy Shield Hero plot devices.
One of the girl’s partners, a human with dark hair and a hoodie, is a 1-dimensional pervert—no different from Sword Art Online’s antagonists. He objectifies Rinmuru’s female companions by saying, “I’ll make her my slave. I’ll torture her until she cries and begs for forgiveness.” Then when he fights Shion, he makes her collapse. He smirks creepily, and the camera is below her boobs. It’s trying to make the threat of sexual assault titillating. This hentai-tier screenwriting does nothing but pander to the lowest common denominator.
The accusation leads to an all-out war fueled by racism towards the goblins. When Rinmuru sees the aftermath, he realizes there are consequences to his actions: Humans kill and injure his orc followers because of prejudice towards monsters. Long ago, he told them never to belittle other races, making them too trusting of bigots. What is the message? Racism is inevitable even if you attempt to be amicable. The problem with portraying racism in a fantasy setting is, creatures like goblins and orcs are fundamentally different beings (and predisposed to violence). There’s no comparison to the real world.
On the production side, there’s a noticeable decline in quality: animation shortcuts, dull fight scenes, simplified character designs. There were times it looked like they used background art assets from roadblocks. Stiff CGI character models were placed right in front of the camera—it’s like they didn’t even care if we noticed it. The excessive still-images extended dialogue scenes, which likely caused some of the ‘tell-don’t-show’ problems. Montages, telling, not showing. Too many recaps every episode—there was a maximum of three minutes of recap in episode nine. Even if you were a fan of the first season, you would have trouble not noticing the blatant production problems in this one. At the very least, the opening and ending tracks are unmatched as usual.
Part 1 of season 2 was a waste. Rimuru gained yet another powerup with little to no effort, turning himself into a God. In Part 2, he will embark on a quest to defeat this antagonist—a comically evil demon lord. He is wholly devoted to saving his friends from imminent danger, and to do that, he must become the new demon lord. It won’t raise the scale of Rimuru’s powers to new heights, and the demon lord will likely be easily defeated. If it miraculously becomes good, I will eat my words.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime plays it safe by never letting anyone ever be in danger. There are no stakes, no real threats, and as a comedy it’s worthless. This is a show that treats its viewers like children who are incapable of losing their favorites toys. It had one major opportunity to prove it could kill off side characters and become a fantasy series worth taking seriously, but it isn’t. It wasted its last chance.
All the things that made tensura a hit when the first season aired are back and even better than before. The comedy, world-building, political drama and strategic planning that separates Tensura from other contemporary isekai are here in spades and make the second season very enjoyable. Like most things, Tensura’s first cour is not without faults, however.
While it was great to be back in Tempest and see some of my favourite scenes animated, too often this season there was poor pacing and anime original time wasting recaps. They really begin to be noticeable around halfway through the cour. Several scenes really could have been condensed into a few minutes rather than taking up half of an episode. When you get to these points it’ll be pretty apparent what I’m talking about, and unfortunately they prevent me from giving the season the highest possible grade. Thankfully, 8bit did such a stellar job on the final 3 episodes that it’s almost enough to make you forget about those issues.
Despite the pacing issues that the middle of the cour had, I was extremely pleased with the overall job that 8bit did in these first 12 episodes and I’m looking forward to what will be an even better 2nd cour, based on the volumes I assume will be adapted. If you were a fan of season 1 of Tensura, it goes without saying you’ll want to check this out. Tensura S2 Pt.1 gets 9 sages out of 10.
This season is a mix of half disappointment with half satisfaction. Half disappointment because the pacing has been absolutely terrible for more than half of the episodes, and half satisfaction because they redeemed everything with the last 2 episodes.
5 out of 12 episodes are Rimuru doing Rimuru things, just like in the previous season. And then, the story suddenly takes a 180. Half of the episodes are just boring. It’s so boring that the first few episodes feel like fillers. We should’ve gotten the entire Rimuru becoming Demon Lord thing way before, yet it took this many episodes. If you’ve read the manga or the light novel, the pacing will be a huge issue to you. The biggest problem with this season is the terrible pacing. I don’t know what went wrong, but the pacing was so horrible, that even though I’ve read the manga once, I went back to re-read it.
Shion was killed in the process of all the chaos, but of course, she wasn’t killed because there ‘happens’ to be some way to bring her back. I think this death was completely meaningless if they were gonna be alive again through some kind of magic.
And of course, for some unknown reason, the anime decided to make Rimuru less badass than he was in the manga.
“In other words, because you valued your own pitiful life more you’ve decided to damn my people.”
This was the line that made me think that Rimuru finally had a change in his attitude, which of course, he didn’t. Because first, it was left out in the anime, second, moments after that he forgives Myulan. I don’t know why 8bit decided to do this, but it definitely wasn’t the right call.
And don’t you think that it’s a bit ironic, how Rimuru is apparently ‘merciless’ towards the soldier who marched on Tempest, but then again, he simply forgives Myulan. The soldiers were in worse position than Myulan, if they didn’t follow orders, their family back home might’ve been killed. Some of them weren’t even involved in the killing of Shion and others, some of them were simply following orders. But of course, Rimuru is allowed to mercilessly kill all of them. Why? Because they aren’t cute anime girls. Why did Rimuru forgive Myulan so easily, without literally ANY FORM of punishment? Well, because she’s a cute anime girl. Isn’t it rule no. 1 to never hurt a cute anime girl no matter what kind of evil shit they do?
And then the author tries to justify this shit cause by saying that he forgave Myulan because he needed Youm’s cooperation. It’s honestly such a laughable reason, I always get a big laugh when people try to defend Myulan or Rimuru for forgiving Myulan. Who cares about Youm? Who cares about Falmuth? Rimuru can be friends with Dwargon and all other countries while not giving a shit about what happens to Falmuth, but no, for some reason he needed Youm.
Even Gabiru is more useful and important that Youm. This guy literally fell in love with a woman he barely knows, after staying with her for a few days. He loves her so much that he can even go against his master that he knew longer than he knew Myulan. He loves her so much that he can lay down his life for her or atone for sins she committed. It’s almost like he’s never been with another woman. And yes there’s some other beastman which I don’t give a shit about, that also likes her and will lay down his life for her. So she got 2 people in her harem within a few god damn days.
Rimuru is the protagonist and the sole MC of this anime, yet side characters get more screen time than him. Good side characters like Benimaru and Souei barely get any screen time, side characters like Gabiru and Geld get too much screen time. The characters are a mess. The newly introduced ones are even worse, especially the antagonists. The antagonists are laughable. Every bad guy has a motivation or a goal, but these new antagonists don’t have any of them. The bad guys are terribly written, it came off as the author miserably trying to portray these bad guys as truly evil and annoying. Did the author succeed? Only partially. They are still horribly written. The king of Falmuth is a king, but he’s probably the most braindead character in the entire series. Almost makes you wonder, how did he become a king of an entire country?
The animation is an upgrade since last season. It’s probably the most impressive thing about this season. But yeah, it’s okay, it’s nothing impeccable or remarkable enough to talk about.
The soundtracks may be the second most redeeming thing, some time they decide to put some cool soundtrack over fights, which I can appreciate. Other than that, the opening is absolutely remarkable. It perfectly fits Tensura’s theme.
I admit, this season has been lackluster and final 2 episodes could only do much to save the entire anime. Every other episode, other than the final 2 episodes, felt unimaginably boring. There were less fights last season yet it managed to stay more interesting than this season. Since I’ve read ahead into the source, does it get any better? Yes, probably..? I can only hope that the next season won’t have this pacing.
Do we have something to look forward to? Yes, and that is Tensura Nikki. Unlike this season, Tensura Nikki will stay true to it’s core. If you want a wholesome, light-hearted side story, this is god damn it. Dare I say, it’s even better than the original. It feels less like a filler than the first 4 episodes of this season.
As for this season, since it still has those key elements of Tensura and also a proper plot that works.. somehow.. a 6.90 will be the most accurate rating I can give to this.
3: Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon S
English: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S
MAL Score: 8.50
As Tooru continues on her quest to become the greatest maid and Kanna Kamui fully immerses in her life as an elementary school student, there is not a dull day in the Kobayashi household with mischief being a daily staple. On one such day, however, a massive landslide is spotted on the hill where Kobayashi and Tooru first met—a clear display of a dragon’s might. When none of the dragons they know claim responsibility, the perpetrator herself descends from the skies: Ilulu, the radical Chaos Dragon with monstrous power rivaling that of Tooru.
Sickened by Tooru’s involvement with humans, Ilulu resorts to the typical dragon method of resolving conflict—a battle to the death. Despite such behavior, she becomes intrigued by Kobayashi’s ability to befriend dragons and decides instead to observe just what makes Kobayashi so special. With a new troublesome dragon in town, Kobayashi’s eccentric life with a dragon maid is only getting merrier.
The other fact is because of one of the crème de la crème animation studios that is well-beloved by fans in the anime industry: Kyoto Animation (or KyoAni for short). May I formally remind everyone of the tragedy that is KyoAni’s mid-2019 arson attack that struck and stunned the world to its knees, being one of the worst post-World War 2 attacks, and losing valuable staff such as Season 1’s director Yasuhiro Takemoto who has been a KyoAni veteran mainstay since 1996. For that sense, Season 2 paying respects by crediting and immortalizing his name as “Series Director” is a well-deserved sendoff to a legend. RIP Yasuhiro Takemoto.
That said, since we already know much about Dragon Maid, what’s there left to say about it, other than this being the 2nd of 3 Cool-kyou Shinja’s works in the Summer season, repeating the usual daily antics of Tohru, Kobayashi and the rest of the characters? More than KyoAni rising up from the ashes once again with new staff joining onboard, it’s the arrival of another dragon: the Gigantomachia voluptuous size-breasted fire-breathing Chaos Dragon girl Ilulu to rock the scene, continuing what Dragon Maid has done best with its fantastical slice-of-life comedy. VA Tomomi Mineuchi voicing this dangerous, busty dragon who’s got her mentality set impaired from the influence of other Chaos Dragons with their beliefs that humans and dragons cannot co-exist with one another from young, especially from the fact that her parents were exterminated by humans. And oh boy, if there was someone worth saving ears and eyes from bad influence, it’s Ilulu, because as much as human interaction she’d have some experience having fun of, it’s ultimately at the hands of non-sensible adults that spoil the childrens’ mindset that gave way to building Ilulu’s desperation for world destruction. As such, it’s thanks to both Tohru and Kobayashi for pointing fingers and protecting this kid dragon who deserves to live a second chance to live the normal life like Tohru and the other dragons do…and secretly steal Tohru’s place for Kobayashi’s closeness of affection.
Believe me, Season 2 might feel the same as Season 1, but the story and plot, as much as it is a slice-of-life series, is vastly improved for the most part. The secret to the dragons and their never-ending war between factions to fight between achieving Chaos or Harmony, as well as Ilulu’s constant development to be a better and senseful dragon living alongside Kobayashi, Tohru and Kanna in the same old apartment, never gets old. With new adventures from Kanna and Ilulu’s part of their own endeavours, as much as some old feud flames between Tohru and Elma, Season 2 opens up the floodgates for more character interaction that is largely the same since the prequel. Both Takiya and Fafnir are forever Otaku lovers, while Kanna is the constant love interest affection of deredere Saikawa’s with loveshots beaming at even the slightest contact. Oh, and I mustn’t forget that Shouta has adapted well to Lucoa’s antics (while being surprised every now and then), and last but not least, the teeny hidden bit of affection from Take to Ilulu.
From hindsight, fans of KyoAni would’ve been less optimistic that after the horrible tragedy, works that are in production that are left on-hold would not be possible to be continued. And that these works would take years before their eventual release to cope with the loss of many notable, valuable and talented staff, young and old alike. But here we are, 2 years (from the time of this review) after the fateful tragedy that KyoAni has came back strong and better than ever. Season 2 amps up KyoAni’s production values, giving more flare to flex with both the visuals and animation that are a step up from Season 1, made in no small part from the replacement that is another KyoAni legend director Tatsuya Ishihara, who has directed Haruhi Suzumiya and Clannad to name a few of the most notable favourites, along with Season 1 staff coming back to helm this sequel. KyoAni has seen better days, and those better days have returned to come back with a vengeance.
As much as I would want to like the goodness that is fhána’s 2nd OP of Dragon Maid, Season 1’s “chu chu yeah~” of a damn catchy intro beat really just immortalizes the series as a whole in a far better light. This is as close to a mountain peak’s equivalent of a virtually untoppable OP if you ask people what is the first thing they remember about Dragon Maid. The ED is a whole lot better than Season 1’s as far as I remember, because there’s not only the addition of Ilulu into the band of dragons that makes for such a cute song, but also the anime MV (which is up on Lantis’s YouTube channel) which sees the VAs reprise their characters in cosplay, having all that fun and jazz.
Overall, Season 2 puts the prequel to shame in all aspects, but that’s not to say that Season 1 is bad, not at all. If anything, the prequel laid the groundwork for yet another amaze-balls season of Dragon Maid, and we’re blessed with one of many KyoAni’s resurgent works, so much so that watching Dragon Maid for its second inning brings out the kid in us once again. This is the success story of KyoAni’s return to form, and Cool-kyou Shinja’s beloved series leads that charge with increasing popularity that ages like fine wine.
Gotta have more of Maid Dragon, and help children be led the right way to live, uphold and watch over their growth like Kobayashi’s to Ilulu. If there is a lesson to be learnt in this sequel, it’s this: “Teach Your Children Well”.
Tohru and Kobayashi go through some changes, and they gain a new family member. Tohru’s character arc continues, and it’s interwoven with Elma’s arc. Both have to confront their past as enemies with very different values and worldviews. They dedicate plenty of airtime to painting a picture of their lives before they came to Japan. Facilitating their character development is Kobayashi. She remains the core of the found-family dynamic as the father figure to Kanna and now the new character, Ilulu. Fafnir and his roommate/boyfriend Takiya returned in a few vignettes. His dry sense of humor mixed with Takiya’s exaggerated gamer persona is still a lot of fun to watch. Ilulu, a rather obnoxious dragon girl, enters the picture to fight Tohru in the first episode and integrates into society as a human with some difficulty.
Rather than a continuous plotline, the show breaks itself into vignettes that follow one to three characters at a time. The structure directly comes from the gag comedy manga, and it works to varying degrees of success. We can label specific segments as slice-of-life, but others have plenty of exciting action and drama to amp the stakes. There’s a relaxing effect Dragon Maid has on its viewers. Even the artists draw every character as adorable as possible; the dialogue feels casual, not forced. There’s no babbling babies or overly saccharine one-liners like moe anime have come to make us expect.
When it needs to get serious, it works. The storyboards emphasize the characters’ emotional state with clever use of lighting and framing. There is no shortage of visual metaphors we’ve come to expect from the late great director of the first season: Yasuhiro Takemoto. Another director had to take up the mantle early in production, and his work is solid. Every fight scene is a visually appealing spectacle. There are plenty of ferocious duels in the second season that left me in awe. From the booming orchestral pieces to the subtle acoustic guitars, the soundtrack adds emotional impact to every scene. Additionally, the opening and ending themes are as iconic as the originals. Ai no Supreme is such a catchy intro that it makes you want to sing along,
The world of Dragon Maid feels lived in; the characters react to their surroundings in natural ways. That may sound abstract, but that is how I can describe it. This show feels genuine—a lot of that has to do with the realistic ambient sound effects and vivid background art. Kobayashi’s apartment is an excellent example of this: personalized decorations, posters, and organized messes are scattered around. It fits her personality to a T. Watching Tohru become more involved in society and form a community is immensely satisfying. Such as in one of the funniest skits, she works at a maid cafe and imparts dark magic knowledge onto the staff.
And then, she showed up—Ilulu is probably the worst part of Dragon Maid (except for the children pinning each other down in the first season). Guys, let’s be reasonable. She is sus. Ilulu has the arms and legs of a toddler but with giant tits. Boobs are great, but that’s not really the issue; she just looked very weird at times. Despite her bazongas, she talks and acts like a child, hanging around with Kanna and her other grade school friends. But there’s also a running gag that she wants to have sex with Kobayashi; this leads to Tohru becoming jealous in a stale love-duel sort of situation. But it’s just not funny at all.
In one early episode, Ilulu casts a spell to make Kobayashi spontaneously grow a dick. I’m not sure what the joke here was supposed to be. She also got horny for Tohru AND Kanna, implying it was normal because that’s just what happens when you have a penis. The author referred to her as a man as soon as she got a dick. Aside from being a reactionary belief that has no business in a wholesome show, it is just a factually untrue statement. It was like I witnessed the author’s search history and saw all kinds of hentai tags that do not belong in a big-budget anime. It’s a shame because Ilulu has sincerely good development once we learn her backstory. The dick joke was a one-and-done thing, so I don’t want to make it seem like a big deal.
There were plenty of funny reaction faces and boisterous voice performances that got a laugh out of me. It’s practically a meme generator of a show. There were a few other jokes that got a little stale. Kanna’s nonchalant attitude towards Saikawa’s crush on her was funny at first, but it kept happening, and the gag never evolved. We get it—you like the girl. Please calm down! Additionally, that time Tohru drugged Kobayashi to make her want to have sex was pretty egregious. Lucoa, the busty goddess, continues to tease Shota. It was nice to see him grow as a mage, but I’m not a fan of the giant woman x little boy fanservice. However, I’m not judging anyone who likes that sort of thing.
Overall it isn’t as laugh-out-loud as the first season, but it got a few chuckles out of me. Elma’s gluttony, Tohru’s struggle to get Kobayashi to eat her tail, and Kanna’s deadpan reaction to all manner of absurdities. Occasionally I was worried that this franchise was stretching itself thin—the multitude of heartfelt dramatic story beats dispelled those concerns. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid S is built on genuine themes of family, friendship, and, additionally, atonement. For better or worse (mostly better), I loved seeing these characters again.
After the devastating tragedy at Kyoto animation’s studio 1 in 2019, it is awe-inspiring how they’ve come back in full form. I look forward to every Dragon Maid sequel they come out with next.
But before I even talk about the profuse comfort I feel from the show’s overall narrative, I absolutely MUST talk about the prepossessing, utterly stunning animation! Even without 2 of their best directors, KyoAni still has one of the absolute most talented staff in the industry. They only work on a small handful of projects a year, but they pour so much love and heart into each and every one of those projects, and it really, REALLY shows. What’s even more impressive is that they somehow keep improving from one project to the next, taking all of what they’ve learned from the previous project and building upon it. It’s so exciting just to see what they’re going to do next, and the moment that OP played in the first episode, I had quite a euphoric eureka experience. The way each shot zooms into each character in this high-acceleration way, only to transition to the next character, looks EXACTLY like Nichijou. Not only that, but it looks so much better than it too! Nichijou had characters mostly still, or doing simple motion, but Maid Dragon took it a step further and made each shot have amazingly complex character animation alongside the zooms to create such a remarkable display of talent. Then I looked up that Ishihara, director of Nichijou, is directing this project, and it made me SO excited for no reason. Fast forward 10 minutes, and then we get one of, if not, THE most impressive energy blasts I’ve ever seen in the past 10 years I’ve been watching anime. Witnessing that for the first time had me floored and outright flabbergasted by just how incredible the animation is (I need to find out the animator responsible after this review). Even just the way each character moves looks spectacular. I remember, towards the end of episode 2, the way Tohru jumps between Kobayashi and Ilulu, the way her dress spins around in a circle, the way she randomly throws a peace sign in front of her eyes, the way wildly flails her arms, and that amusing expression she has on her face, it all adds up to such a delightful experience. This is a sakuga nut’s wet dream. I seriously can’t stop gushing about the animation because it’s just that good! I couldn’t tell you how many times I hit that left arrow just to rewatch a clip. In this audiovisual medium, the animation is the most important aspect of a show. You can have a story by reading a book or watching a Hollywood movie, but you’re not going to get stellar animation. For me, animation has LIMITLESS potential, because you’re not bound by reality like you are in live-action. So, it’s baffling to me that so many studios don’t take full advantage of the medium. So many anime has the same cookie-cutter look, and here we have KyoAni just flexing on everyone. And that’s just the surface!
Beyond that shiny surface is an unexpectedly down-to-earth portrayal of found family. Each and every relationship is awkwardly intimate in its own amusing way, but they instill a profound feeling of warmth and comfort for one another. It’s that sense of acceptance and welcoming that makes the show feel so unabashedly genuine. It feels as though, no matter who you are or where you’re from, whether you’re a nutcase on the street who wants to destroy the city or an adorable loli who needs some affection, there will always be someone who can accept you for who you are and welcome you with open arms. Even if you don’t have a home yet, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a home waiting for you, and that sentiment is just so sweet. Dragons represent those “weirdos” who believe they don’t fit in with society, that they must ostracize themselves from the rest of the world because they’re just too “different” or some bullshit like that. They claim to be independent when really, they just need the comfort of a friend just as anyone else would. I really appreciate how shamelessly forthright the show is with its fetishes. Every dragon has balloon tiddies, aside from Kanna and Fafnir (for obvious reasons). While I’m not into that myself, considering the show’s themes of acceptance, I quite admire the confidence to include this in the show. This season, we’re introduced to a new red-haired dragon, and she’s both a loli AND big-titted. It looks goofy as hell, and I love it. KyoAni has a reputation for subdued fanservice, so I’m glad they didn’t hold back in a lot of these ecchi scenes, because it isn’t totally vapid. It’s a strangely taboo subject matter, but sexuality plays a major part in one’s life, and many people have been shunned for their odd preferences. Allowing Maid Dragon to explore this near-universal aspect of one’s life only adds to its already thematically rich narrative. Also, it’s just great comedy. Having most of the cast be world-ending fish-out-of-water dragons adds a unique slant to an otherwise tired genre. I mean, epic action scenes have no business being in a slice-of-life, and yet it’s some of the best I’ve ever seen.
So yea, if I haven’t made it clear yet, I love Maid Dragon. Just watching these characters interact and finding solace within one another fills me up with so much joy. And the way the show just sprinkles in brief nuggets of wisdom makes it all the more reassuring. And above all, it gives me hope, hope that I will one day be able to find my own home and create my own family, and also hope that great anime like this will continue to be made.
Thank you for reading.
2: 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.
1: 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.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season
2. Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season Part 2
3. Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon S
4. Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken 2nd Season
5. Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu
6. Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken 2nd Season Part 2
7. Mairimashita! Iruma-kun 2nd Season
8. Black Clover
9. Wonder Egg Priority
10. Heion Sedai no Idaten-tachi