What I’m Watching – Fall 2019 Impressions

Watching a Lot Here!

I’ll be going over all 16 anime that I’m watching for the Fall 2019 season. This will include continuing series as I’d like to give my continued impressions on them since my thoughts may have changed from when they first started. Plus, that makes these a little more fun to read as well. As a result, however, this is going to be a bit of a longer article so buckle up and see what I’m watching! Continue reading “What I’m Watching – Fall 2019 Impressions”

#Anitwitwatches 3 – School Days Watch Schedule & Announcement

Welcome to the Third #Anitwitwatches!

Can you believe we are already on our third watch? This time around we will be watching the infamous School Days. I want to be upfront by saying that this show won’t be for everybody, and it may even make some of you uncomfortable. Do not feel obligated to participate. However, what better environment to watch this anime where we can all have discussion with each other? I’m confident that if you stick with this one from start to finish, you’ll have one unique experience that you won’t soon forget!

I’ll admit though, I was surprised that School Days managed to beat out Wandering Son in the poll. It seemed for sure that Wandering Son couldn’t be touched. YOU spoke, and I listened. I hope you are just as excited to hop on board this roller coaster of emotion and decide once and for all, is School Days really that bad?

What is #Anitwitwatches?

This is a weekly community event meant to bring folks together to revisit old favorites and discover new shows. It’s meant to be something you can get as involved in as you want, there is no pressure to participate every week or every watch, but we’d love to have you to share in the experience and discuss the shows we are watching all the same!

I was inspired to do this after seeing the “rewatches” that people do over at Reddit in the r/anime sub. Since I interact with a lot of you guys on Twitter, I thought it would be the perfect place to do something similar! That said, even if you do not have a Twitter you can still join in by posting any content via WordPress, YouTube, or whatever suits your fancy. If you do, be sure to send me an email at jonspencerreviews@gmail.com so I can share your wonderful creations!

For everyone else, simply watch the episodes for the week based on the schedule below. Make sure to use the hashtag, #anitwitwatches when you do, and that’s it! Discuss with the other folks participating, create content, and generally just have a fun time!

This next show was chosen based on YOUR votes, so let’s get to the watch schedule.

School Days Watch Schedule

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We will be taking a 1 week break, meaning that we will NOT be watching anything for the week of 11/11/19. This is to give me time to properly prepare for hosting the watch and give everybody else a little break before starting something new. We will be keeping the Monday time slot for this watch after careful consideration and feedback.

If you have not done so, you can see where you can watch School Days for free, and legally, by using because.moe. Unfortunately, I cannot realistically check all regions but I aimed to make this as accessible as possible. That said, I won’t stop you from doing what you need to in order to participate. The more the merrier!

Here are the dates (all Mondays) and the episodes for each:

  • 11/11/19 – Break (Veterans Day)
  • 11/18/19 – Episode 1
  • 11/25/19 – Episodes 2-3
  • 12/2/19 – Episodes 4-5
  • 12/9/19 – Episode 6
  • 12/16/19 – Episode 7
  • 12/23/19 – Break (Christmas, please enjoy if you celebrate!)
  • 12/30/19 – Episodes 8-9
  • 1/6/20 – Episode 10
  • 1/13/20 – Episode 11
  • 1/20/20 – Broadcast “Ending” (will be provided and discussed as this date approaches) & Episode 12

This means we’ll have 9 weeks of School Days with 2 weeks off for breaks/holidays. I carefully split the episodes up in the most logical way I could based on the content in order to create a fun viewing experience. This series has a lot happen episode-to-episode so I wanted to avoid groupings (especially later in the series) as much as possible. I hope to see you for the watch!

Saying Goodbye to Rampo Kitan – Concluding our Second #Anitwitwatches

Come and Vote!

The time has arrived once again to say goodbye to another fantastic #anitwitwatches. For our second watch we settled on Rampo Kitan but we will be preparing to move on to a new show after next week. That’s where you come in! Below I’ll leave a link to our vote on Twitter where you can help decide what we’ll be watching next. Keep an eye out as we’ll be announcing the winner alongside the concluding thoughts for Rampo Kitan on 11/4/19.

What is #Anitwitwatches?

This is a community initiative I started a few months ago where we get together and collectively watch an anime. Then, we talk about it on Twitter using the hashtag #anitwitwatches. The first ever watch was for Tonari no Seki-kun which was a lot of fun. You can view more information on the watch, as well as my review on Seki-kun here.

I won’t be doing a special review for Rampo Kitan though because I’ve actually already covered the series and more. That said, I do have a running thread you can view on Twitter if you want to see my running thoughts week-to-week. However, I suspect that everyone else who participated will have a few things to say.

Why is X Show on the Poll?

As I mentioned last time, each show was carefully considered using a series of criteria to ensure that this activity remains fun and varied each time. Three of the series: School DaysKokoro Connect, and Wandering Son were carried over from the first poll. They all seemed like shows people were pretty interested in and I felt no need to change those entries. In general, this will be how each poll works, the “losers” moving on to the next poll.

Our new entry is Kekkai Sensen or Blood Blockade Battlefront. I felt like putting something that had a bit of everything on the poll. It’s a nice mix of general action and comedy, but still brings that unique flair that all of the #anitwitwatches shows have had so far. The goal isn’t to highlight just obscure shows with this watch, but rather ones that are interesting. This anime certainly fits the bill!

Join in the Fun!

So get to voting! I hope to see you for the next watch and would love to hear about shows you’d like to see added to the poll in the future. If you want to see what everybody has been saying about Rampo Kitan, or just want to revisit the old Seki-kun threads, you can do so by searching the hashtag on Twitter or by clicking the linked #anitwitwatches right here.

The End of Phase 1 – Important Information Regarding the Future of Jon Spencer Reviews

The Day is Here Folks!

If you’ve been following me for awhile then you already know that I’ve been talking about this mysterious “first phase”, and how that phase ends officially today:  10/18/19 at 11:00 AM PST. I’m also sure that most of you are wondering just what the heck is going on, how, or if, things will be effected here, and just what all of phase 1 even entailed. Fear not friends, I will answer all of your questions (and likely more) in this update. Please be sure to read this in full so you know everything that’s going on moving forward. Continue reading “The End of Phase 1 – Important Information Regarding the Future of Jon Spencer Reviews”

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest – Finalizing the Production Discussion

People Clearly Liked This, it Received a Season 2

Last week I covered two series where I discussed how production values and writing quality can impact the enjoyment of the series. These two series were Demon Slayer and Cop Craft. In the case of the first anime, I discussed how the fantastic visuals and sound meant little in the end due to obnoxious characters and poor writing. Production values made it watchable, but not much else. Cop Craft, on the other hand, had tons of issues in the production department. Still, this managed to be enjoyable for fun characters and (mostly) decent writing. So how does this all relate to Arifureta? Continue reading “Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest – Finalizing the Production Discussion”

Granbelm – Mini Review

Magical Girls & Mecha?

Image result for granbelm animeWell not quite, but it’s close enough. Granbelm is an original 13 episode series that aired in the Summer 2019 lineup. It had a fair bit of buzz around its production staff, most notably for the connections to Re:Zero as both productions share a director and character designer. The big question is if this lived up to the hype or not, so, did it?

The short answer is, yeah, mostly. It was a solid show with a seemingly impossible production (there was an episode animated by ONE person for heaven’s sake). In a word, Granbelm was consistent.

The long answer is that Granbelm was more consistent than Re:Zero, but it lacked something that the latter had. I really can’t identify what this was exactly, but I just couldn’t get into this series the same way. That’s saying something because it wasn’t exactly like I loved Re:Zero or anything like that.

Maybe it was the weird mech designs, or perhaps the short length of 13 episodes wasn’t enough time for characters to fully blossom. I sincerely can’t identify one thing that was truly wrong with Granbelm, but there was something holding it back.

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Take Nene for example, she got a lot of screentime, but I feel like her story was incomplete

However, I feel like if you liked shows such as Madoka or the WIXOSS seriesthere will be something here for you. Is it as good? Definitely not. Was it one of the shows I actively looked forward to during the season? Absolutely, yes.

Really, what better endorsement could there be? It’s getting compared to some legitimately excellent shows, so clearly Granbelm is doing something right here. Some downright impressive moments of visual flair, decent depth of ideas, and the story is pretty dang unique. I don’t know about you, but I’ve not seen mages need to duke things out in a magical realm, between space and time no less, with astral mecha before. That’s just the surface.

I’m genuinely conflicted here because I am excited by Granbelm and the unique things it brought to the table. It was really well produced (outside of that terrible ED, I can’t fathom that), most the characters were pretty great, and it reminded me of shows I really loved. However, it was just missing something. That’s really all there is to it.

I probably sound like a broken record in this review, but I do recommend Granbelm for what it’s worth. This one does need a little time to get going, but once it does it actually does you’ll probably want to binge through. That’s about it for me folks. Give Granbelm a try if you haven’t already.


What are your thoughts on Granbelm? Did you feel it was missing something that stopped it from being truly great? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. If you want to support my work, please utilize the donation buttons below. Thanks for reading!

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Cop Craft – This Deserved Better

Oh, What Could Have Been…

You may recall earlier this week that I reviewed the fan favorite series, Demon Slayer rather poorly despite its great visuals and other production values. What it came down to was unlikable characters and some pretty poor writing at key moments. However, Cop Craft is almost the exact opposite of that. Lacking in terms of production but the cast was good fun with a story that managed to wrap itself up rather nicely in spite of itself. Continue reading “Cop Craft – This Deserved Better”

Demon Slayer – Production Values Only Take You so Far…

At One Point, I Dreaded Watching Each Week

I’ve been putting off writing about Demon Slayer because it is a really popular show, but one I really struggled with watching. Don’t get me wrong, the visuals are amazing, it has excellent music, and there are moments of brilliant direction. However, all of that doesn’t mean much when the show has an unlikable cast and problems with its writing. If you can look past that, it’s probably going to be one of the best anime of the year, but for me… Demon Slayer just falls incredibly flat. Continue reading “Demon Slayer – Production Values Only Take You so Far…”

The Ones Within – Mini Review

What Did I Even Watch?

When I was giving my Summer 2019 impressions I wrote this about The Ones Within:

Based on the first episode, I don’t really get how or why anything is happening. Streamers are forced into a contest of sorts, which has life-or-death stakes, but also not?

-My Summer 2019 Impressions

Now, after all 12 episodes I really can’t say my understanding of the show has really increased much further. This isn’t to say that a compelling story didn’t emerge through all this, but where everything is eventually heading to, and why, is totally unknown.

What The Ones Within really boils down to is a quirky slice-of-life show with these bizarre games tossed in to drum up some drama and tension between the cast. Really, the cast is what is going to keep you watching along with these unusual games. That’s the only reason I stuck around and I don’t regret it one bit.

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Eventually, a small mystery begins to unfold when it is discovered that past players are stowing away in the walls of the game space, but it just isn’t explored in enough detail to provide you with anything more than wild speculation. Part of the reason for this is in how this show handled its adaptation. For anime only folks like myself (I had a chat with some folks on Reddit), whole plots are dropped up until the very end which only adds to the ambiguity of certain events and a very confusing ending.

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I didn’t have room to mention this, but the visuals for this show were weirdly good. I don’t really know how to explain it, but they really mixed things up while having a strange consistency.

Speaking of the ending, it was horrible as a stopping point. While the cast has a moment of, “Look how far we’ve come, we totally got this!”, as a viewer, you feel like you’re waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. The thing is, it never does. It’s just a quirky, low-stakes episode that seems to promise more but really just leaves you hanging.

In a completely incomprehensible move, The Ones Within randomly decides to introduce its B cast, the folks in the outside world who are connected to the ones in the game, but outside of very minor context clues, it isn’t even clear who they are. This is what I was getting at with the weird adaptation thing.

For the web manga, the outside folks have a story that runs (mostly) in tandem with our principle cast. The anime cuts all of that completely until the very final episode. I suppose that the switching back and forth could have lead to another King’s Game situtation, but I would have rather taken that then this nonsense approach.

Supposedly this is getting an OVA episode… eventually. Perhaps that will offer some necessary answers? I’m not holding my breath but should I gain access to this episode, I will give it a watch and try to amend this article at a later date.

The source material isn’t too far in, but this really needed to be at least 24 episodes. There is a lot of intrigue in everything going on, but it ultimately ends up being so background that, in a small way, I do feel a bit swindled. Again, I don’t think I wasted my time watching, but I could understand if you said you did.

With all this under consideration, would I recommend The Ones Within? Yes, so long as you are comfortable with the fact that this is woefully incomplete. Normally that’s a big turnoff, but the cast really did have great chemistry. Plus, it was just fun! Himiko is still best girl, just in case any of you were wondering too.

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Her design is so good!

If you actually watched The Ones Within, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Truly an enigma this one is. Like what I’m doing? Consider becoming a Patron or making a small one-time donation via Ko-fi. Just click the corresponding button below for more details. Thank you so much for reading and I hope to see you back here again soon!

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Remnant: From the Ashes – My Game of the Year

Darksouls with Guns?

It’s very rare for me to want to jump on a new game, especially at a $40 price point given my current level of income, but Gunfire Games convinced me with Remnant:  From the Ashes. What’s often hailed as “Darksouls, but with guns”, I was skeptical that I would enjoy this game given my relationship with both Darksouls and Bloodborne. They are frustrating games that I just don’t really enjoy that much, so what exactly makes Remnant click for me? Let’s dive in and find out why this is my game of the year. Continue reading “Remnant: From the Ashes – My Game of the Year”