Hikaru no Go – A Rare Kind of Show

Seriously, You Should Watch This

Related imageIt’s incredibly rare for a show to follow its characters over the course of several years, really letting you see how they grow and develop. That’s exactly what you get with Hikaru no Go. If I had to compare the 2001 title to anything, it would be March Comes in like a Lion, but where that show is about the game of Shogi, placing more emphasis on events outside the game, this is about the ancient game of Go with a more traditional sports anime format. Spanning 75 exciting episodes, you’ll find yourself deeply invested even if you don’t know a thing about Go itself. Continue reading “Hikaru no Go – A Rare Kind of Show”

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Nadia: Secret of Blue Water – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea… in SPACE!

Classic Gainax & Great!

If you know much about me, you’d know that my relationship with Gainax studios is a rocky one at best. While they have produced some great shows that I really enjoyed (Eva, Gurren Lagann, His and Her Circumstances), they have produced, more often than not, shows that I just couldn’t get into. Whether it be for subject matter, a lack of an ending, or something else, I just am not a fan overall. However, when something does land, it really does. That’s the case with today’s review:  Nadia: Secret of Blue Water. Continue reading “Nadia: Secret of Blue Water – 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea… in SPACE!”

One Punch Man Season 2 – Mini Review

That’s it?

Image result for one punch man season 2Back in Fall 2015 a show called One Punch Man seemed to take the world by swarm. It wasn’t until a little while later that I finally gave it a shot with the TV dub, and while a lot of criticism had been heaped on to the show at that point, I still really enjoyed it. The highlight for me was The Deep Sea King arc, which you can read all about in my review of the first season here. When I heard this would get a second season, especially one that was less focused on Saitama, I thought that would be perfect, because the show was always at its best when he wasn’t the focus of the show.

However, expectations do not always live up to reality. The changes from season one to the second season of One Punch Man could be felt throughout the community long before it aired. This cast a long shadow of doubt on the anime before it even had a chance at success. Still, I remained hopeful in spite of some troubling signs.

It was until the Spring 2019 season when I was finally granted the opportunity to watch it as it aired that my hope for something great was slowly diminished. Now, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like One Punch Man’s second season was terrible, but it was a huge disappointment.

As promised, the focus was taken away from Saitama and interesting ideas were sometimes given an opportunity to peek through all of the mediocrity. This, just wasn’t enough though.

Normally I’m not one to harp too much on animation, but there was a lot of lazy work going on here. One episode even uses footage from the first season and you can really see just how bad the second season is in comparison. I wouldn’t even necessarily say the second season was really all that bad in this department overall, but these reminders, which were frequent enough, absolutely didn’t do this any favors. It was like the anime wanted to invite this mark against it.

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The writing was pretty bad this time around too. Outside of Garou, there was almost no exploration of what it means to be a hero that had any impact at all. His character was interesting because Garou fights for the villains. That said, he manages to form this bond with a kid, and through some good use of flashbacks, you can really sympathize with his position. Agree with it? No, probably not, but understand and even think he isn’t that bad of a person deep down; absolutely, with ease.

I could go on, but it would just be me talking about how this felt like such an inferior product in every way. A hollow imitation at the best of times, and a miserable experience at the worst of times. Everything that made One Punch Man fun and interesting in the first season glimmers deep beneath the surface here, but it just can’t break through the mire of mediocrity in its wake. Not worth totally passing up on if you are a fan, but expect to be disappointed.


Were your thoughts different than mine for OPM season 2? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! If you would like to support my writing by giving a small donation (helps a lot), you can do so via the Ko-fi button below. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see ya again real soon!

The Rising of the Shield Hero – Finding Something Worth Fighting For

Another Isekai, Am I Right?

Image result for shield heroJokes aside, when The Rising of the Shield Hero started in Winter 2019 it quickly caught my attention. Opening with an hour long episode, and what seemed to be an anti-hero story, I couldn’t help but get excited! However, what the show actually became was a lot more. Despite some missteps, this became one of the better shows I watched in both the Winter and Spring 2019 season. Continue reading “The Rising of the Shield Hero – Finding Something Worth Fighting For”

Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu – Mini Review

Like Watamote, but less Cringe

Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu, or as I’m going to call it, Hitoribocchi, was one of the only shows I watched from the Spring 2019 lineup. Not much caught my attention but this did for its cute character designs and extremely goofy cast. Over the 12 episode run the anxiety riddled, titular Bocchi, attempts to befriend her entire middle school class so she can one day reunite with her friend. So, how’d she do?

I heard this show described as one where the plot can only happen if most of the characters involved are really stupid, and I kind of agree. Bocchi is such an unbelievably dumb person on top of having difficulties speaking to others. It is really obvious why her friend, Kai, pushed her to befriend her whole middle school class. However, I don’t really see anything wrong with that so long as the show is entertaining. Which, I think this anime succeeds at.

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Do your best beam!

 

What mostly caries this show is its cast. Bocchi has and company have great designs as well as onscreen chemistry that kept me coming back each week. Particularly when the character, Aru, was introduced. At first she was so obviously fake that I almost got turned off to the show entirely, but then it is revealed she is just an unfortunate person who overcompensates as a result. Example, coming to school with a coat hanger sticking out of her uniform. She ended up being my favorite character in the show.

 

This character song is actually really good and captures Aru’s perfectly

I already mentioned this show back in my article “When an Anime Shows & Tells – A Discussion Ft. Waiting in the Summer and Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu where I talked about how sometimes little details make a show all the better. This is one of those shows were nothing is revolutionary, but because of this effort, Hitoribocchi manages to be more enjoyable than one might initially expect.

In several ways this reminds me of Watamote, another anime about a socially awkward girl except it isn’t as cringe-worthy. While I ultimately think Watamote is the better of the two for how inventive it gets with some of its presentation, alongside being generally funnier, Hitoribocchi has a leg up in consistency. It’s also more wholesome. If you didn’t like Watamote but liked the idea of it, this may be for you.

If I had to criticize the show for anything it is actually when Bocchi bumps into Kai part way through the series. Bocchi has succeeded in making some friends at this point but in spite of that Kai refuses to even say “hello” to Bocchi. This has the unfortunate of effect of making you kind of hate Kai. While you get her intentions at the start, it is ridiculous that she can’t even do a basic greeting or anything. The show plays this off as an emotional moment that is somehow positive, but it just didn’t play right.

Disregarding that little hiccup, the rest of the show that consistency in what it delivers. A few chuckles and a good enough time. As I’ve already stated, this isn’t a groundbreaking show but it doesn’t need to be. In a season where I didn’t have a lot to watch, it was something nice to tide me over. If you are on the fence about this one, you should go ahead and give Hitoribocchi a watch!


What were your thoughts on Hitoribocchi? Have you read the manga? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments! If you would like to support my writing, consider pressing my Ko-fi button below and making a small donation. Thanks for reading and have yourself a wonderful day!

When an Anime Shows & Tells – A Discussion Ft. Waiting in the Summer and Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu

Seeing is Believing

Have you ever watched a show where the main character is supposedly some kind of genius or master at a thing, but the show kind of skirts around actually showing them, well, doing it? I hate that, and it happens a lot more often than you might think! Thankfully, some shows go out of their way to not only tell you these details, but show them as well. Today I’d like to celebrate two such recent examples I witnessed from the shows Waiting in the Summer and Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu. Continue reading “When an Anime Shows & Tells – A Discussion Ft. Waiting in the Summer and Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu”

Mirai – Mini Review

Bringing it All Together

It’s no secret that I’m a pretty big fan of Hosoda’s films. I’ve written about Wolf Children at length (multiple times actually) because it has been my favorite standalone animated film for some time. Having seen all of his works, multiple times no less, I can confidently say that this latest entry was more than competent. Mirai draws a lot from the prior films, and in many ways benefits from that as a result. However, it still didn’t manage to exceed any expectations.

Image result for mirai anime filmIf I had to rank this among all of Hosoda’s other films, I’d say this ranks around 3rd place. The reason for this is mainly pacing, the film has some great moments, but how scenes flow into each other just didn’t quite work. Still, there are a lot of wonderful things to be said about this film, which is what I’d rather focus on.

For this viewing I watched Mirai with my mom as a belated Mother’s Day activity. She had enjoyed Wolf Children when we watched it a few Mother’s Days back and I figured we could probably enjoy this. I’ll include some of her thoughts on the film here-and-there as well.

What was impressive about this film was how Hosoda managed to improve on his prior movies. Nothing in Mirai is really original, it feels like a recycling of the other films, but taking mostly the best parts of each. You have the interesting time travel that The Girl Who Leapt Through Time had, various elements of The Boy and the Beast, and much more of course.

Image result for mirai anime film

This demonstrated Hosoda’s growth in his career and I genuinely believe his next film is gonna be an impressive one if this is any indication. When viewing Mirai from this angle it leaves a better impression than it might otherwise as an isolated film.

The other aspect of the film that was done quiet well was Kun’s character. He is a bratty child who is jealous of his baby sister, the titular Mirai. GKIDS got an actual kid, Jaden Waldman, to voice Kun and that always makes a world of difference. As an audience it is easy to see why Kun behaves the way he does, so you sympathize, but he’s just obnoxious enough that you don’t exactly root for him either.

It’s a good balance that accurately reflects how kids act and think. My mother was pretty impressed with that part but she remarked that he might have been just a little too obnoxious. I can’t disagree, but considering we both have a pretty high tolerance for kids, I can only imagine how others might take to Kun.

Kun being a kid, he blends fantasy and reality together often in this film. It’s neat to see, making everything a kind of metaphysical interaction, but it can cause some parts of the film to feel slightly confusing. Not in a way that you can’t follow it, but in a way that might pull some folks out of the experience.

Both my mom and I were impressed with the time travel concept and how it brought everything together. Kun’s war-era grandpa was easily the best story in the bunch and I low-key wouldn’t have minded watching an entire film about that.

Image result for mirai anime film

Finally, I just have to mention the train station that nightmares are made of. I saw a review before I picked this up that heavily criticized the depiction of a train station, seeing that this is a kid’s film, and I was puzzled at first. When the film got to that point, I told my mom about it and we both went, “Yeah, not seeing it.” Then… well, we got it. For us, it was very humorous, but it is the only real black mark against the film as something meant for children. It may actually be quite traumatizing for some kids.

All-in-all, Mirai has charm. It’s a solid watch if you are a fan of Hosoda at all, even more so if you are actually. While there were a few times the movie wasn’t at its best, when it wanted to deliver, it absolutely did. As a children’s film, there are a lot of solid messages here, which you ought to know by now I’m all about. You should definitely watch with younger kids, but older ones should be fine. For adults, there are some interesting things to ponder and plenty of spectacle.


Have you seen Mirai? Additionally, what Hosoda film is your favorite? Let me know in the comments! If you want to help  me out and support my writing please use my Ko-fi button which you can see below. As always, thanks for reading and I hope to see you back here again soon!

Anime ABC’s S Results

The Fate of the Vote is in One Man’s Hands…

This time around we had 20 unique voters who deliberated on over 40 titles. In the end we had an eight-way tie, truly this was the round of impossible choices! We’ve had ties before, but never this many, and this intense. Each of the 8 listed shows received 5 votes each (in no particular order):

  • Attack on Titan
  • Ghost Hound
  • Rakugo
  • SAO
  • A Silent Voice (Film)
  • Silver Spoon
  • Sound Euphonium
  • Spice and Wolf

I truly had expected a tight race, but this was beyond expectations. Breaking the tie myself is normally what I’d do here but I had a fairly unique opportunity. The last night of the vote, after it had ended, I was just coming home from watching some Golgo 13 with my D&D group (we are on a bit of a break right now) and I realized I hadn’t sent him the vote! For shame… As such, I thought I’d take the opportunity to have him be the decider.

Provided with the above list of options he sat and thought for a few minutes before finally consulting me with his final decision. He said it was a tough choice, both Spice and Wolf and Silver Spoon were viable options, but he said he settled ultimately on Silver Spoon because he thinks I would really enjoy it.

So there we have it folks! Silver Spoon has won the prestigious honor of being our 19th spot in this very cut-throat race. I hope you’ll look forward to the review! I’ll be working on the watch over the next few weeks as I have a few other projects currently in the works. Until then, there will be regular scheduled content or you can always check out the previous winner, Run with the Wind or my big alphabetized list of every anime I’ve reviewed.

Below you can find a breakdown of all the votes. This time I made the pie graph a little more digestible, but the bar graph is there in full. Also a reminder, one of the other votes was for a show I’ve already reviewed, please do not vote for shows I’ve reviewed previously. Consulted the above alphabetized list before voting please!

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Other – Scorching Ping Pong Girls, Symphogear (I sadly forgot to include this on the list proper…), School-Live (Already have reviewed), and Shinesman

Anime ABC’s – S Voting Round

Spoiled for Choice!

This time around you guys are going to be seriously spoiled for choice! We’ve entered the 19th round and I’m excited to see how this one will shake out. Due to the large number of “S” anime, there will be NO pictures or links like I have been doing. Remember, if a show is missing from the list, be sure to consult my alphabetized list of everything I’ve ever discussed here. Finally, you can catch up with the latest review in the series covering Run with the Wind here as well.

Anime ABC’s S Voting Round Link <- Click Me!

Voting is open from today until 6/7/19 11:59 PM as usual.

Not Sure What Anime ABC’s Is?

Anime ABC’s is a fun community focused event that I run here at Jon Spencer Reviews. Any and all people can participate in this event, even if you know nothing about anime! So how exactly does this all work? It’s simple! Just follow the link above and vote for as many of the listed shows (or provide your own) that seem interesting to you. Each round moves to the next letter in the alphabet, so the current “S” round is the nineteenth anime ABC’s. This is done to keep things interesting and to allow for more variety with each passing round.

The goal of this series is to encourage community input, interaction, as well as to allow me to discover cool new shows, or in some cases, rediscover ones that I previously watched. You can check out my previous ABC reviews for:

Be sure to click on any of the titles listed to see what a finished product will look like!

 

 

 

What are you waiting for? Vote now and have your say in what anime I review next!

Ingress the Animation – Mini Review

A Good Mobile Game Adaptation

Image result for ingress the animationI’m back with my latest Netflix adventure, this time with Ingress the Animation, a supernatural drama based on a mobile game by Niantic. You may know them for Pokemon GO, and like that game, this is an AR game meant to get people out and about but this one came first. Is there enough here to make for a good show? Does this sit somewhere closer to B:  The Beginning or is this another Hero Mask?

When I sat down to watch this one I had no clue it was a mobile game adaptation, I only learned all that part way through when I was doing some digging. I also expected the show to be another supernatural cop procedural, but this one was more action oriented. Still, Ingress managed to peak my interest.

What got me interested in everything was the introduction of Makoto, a psychic detective who is asked to investigate a strange incident. With the ability to see memories contained in objects, he soon learns something he shouldn’t and gets wrapped up in a global conspiracy. You know, just another Monday.

Image result for ingress the animation
It was good character introduction

It’s a bit cliche, but what I liked most about this was how the anime showed you how his power works. Actually, things were done this way more often than not. There were still info dumps, but they weren’t too often and were done when only necessary.

As the story unfolds Makoto gets involved with a girl named Sarah. She tells Makoto that there exists a hidden substance that has influenced humanity for some time called, Exotic Matter, or XM for short. This explains his ability. It’s an example where the show tells you things, but the whole while it does a lot of showing at the same time.

Mostly, this is to teach you about the mobile game. Surprisingly, it did a really good job because I was talking to my brother about it (he’s played it) and he was shocked how well I knew the game for never playing. Even more shocking, this never felt intrusive. It felt totally organic within the story and something that really sets this one apart for me.

In the end, the story isn’t revolutionary but one that I enjoyed more than expected. Going back to my earlier question, it had quality closer to B than Hero Mask, which is a good thing for sure. I’d watch more of this if it ever got more.

The characters for the series are done in CG and that can be a bit distracting, sometimes resulting in odd action choreography, but if you can look past that, the show looks pretty good most of the time. I’d say it generally looked worse in the early episodes but improved as it went, I also got a lot more used to it though, so there’s that.

Finally, the music was great! The OP and ED were both done by an idie band, alt-J. I joked on Twitter about how random geometry was used in the OP, and then the song had the lyrics, “Triangles are my favorite shape.” Which, at first, I found humorous, but as the show went on it made good thematic sense. It was a solid choice. Not to mention the animation sequence here is strong from a directional standpoint.

The ED, “In Cold Blood” was clearly picked for the binary lyrics because the rest of the song doesn’t really fit the show. However, that part is thematic and the AR sequence of real life places and the game collide is neat. It was another way to show off the game without being too in your face.

In short, I’d recommend Ingress the Animation if you are already curious about the game especially. Fans of supernatural action/mystery shows should also enjoy this one. As I said, it isn’t revolutionary, but you’ll at least have a decent time.


Have you ever played Ingress? Did you watch the show? Share your thoughts on either in the comments. If you want to support my work, you can do so via the Ko-fi button below. Thanks, as always, for reading and hope to see you back here again soon!