This Art Club Has a Problem! – Collaboration with Yomu: Episode 2

Art Appraisals

Welcome to the esteemed gallery that Art Club has put together for your amusement. I am your host, Jon, and I will be guiding you through the early days of Art Club’s various artists and pieces. Be sure to thank the gallery’s sponsor, Yomu, for working in conjunction with us to bring you this extravagant event. At the end of the tour you are encouraged to offer patronage in order to keep our esteemed institution in top-form, after all, this gallery simply could not operate if all our artists were starving! It seems everyone is here, so let us commence with this evenings tour. Continue reading “This Art Club Has a Problem! – Collaboration with Yomu: Episode 2”


Goblin Slayer – Failing to Deliver on a Promise

Setting the Wrong Tone

Image result for goblin slayerWhen Goblin Slayer first premiered at the start of the Fall 2018 season it was met with harsh criticism and backlash from many in the anime community. It even prompted Crunchyroll to provide content warnings at the start of the episodes, where previously there were none. Part of this was due to the series briefly being labeled accidentally as PG, but mostly it was due to the sudden and (for many at least) unexpected depictions of violence, sexual situations, and general unpleasantness in the first episode. After that though… the show really wasn’t anything like that, at all. Continue reading “Goblin Slayer – Failing to Deliver on a Promise”

This Art Club Has a Problem! – Collaboration with Yomu: Episode 1

First impressions are important: a critique of the first 5 minutes of the episode.

Image result for this art club has a problemOk, so before I actually do that let me introduce this project a bit. Yomu really wanted to do this collab where folks would all watch a show, the same show, episode-by-episode each week but with a big twist! That being we’d all (mostly) be focusing on different themes/ideas each time. We get a huge list to choose from and pick one. So, as you can see, I chose to tackle first impressions. We had some choices as to what to watch but we settled on This Art Club Has a Problem! in the end. You can read about the project in more detail here. Continue reading “This Art Club Has a Problem! – Collaboration with Yomu: Episode 1”

Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues – Mini Review

It Was Interesting

Mr. Tonegawa:  Middle Management Blues, or just, Tonegawa for short, was a show I watched from the Summer 2018 season more out of obligation than because I genuinely wanted to. My relationship with the original series that this is a spin-off of, Kaiji, is a somewhat rocky one. You can view my thoughts on both season 1 and season 2 of that series to get the full picture. Still, this promised me comedy and Tonegawa is a character I liked so there was some hope for this series. Did it manage some laughs and did I like it? Let’s find out!

For those of you who may not be familiar, Tonegawa follows one of the antagonists from the original Kaiji series. He’s the number two man for a (sort of) evil loan-type organization know as the Teiai Corporation. His job is to keep the crazy president of the company happy, but it isn’t easy since he is into seeing the darkest parts of humanity in increasingly sick and twisted ways.

Don’t let that fool you though, this is a comedy for the most part. While Tonegawa certainly straddles the line with some rather dark comedy, especially if you’ve seen Kaiji’s first season, it is overall a fairly tame affair. Really, the show is at its best in these moments but they are far-and-few-between.

When an episode landed, say episode 3 for example, it really landed. However, most episodes were only minorly funny or simply wholly uninteresting. Still, there is a charm here that kept me watching in spite of all that. While it felt like a slog across its 24 episodes at times, there would be streaks of good episodes or that one thing that made watching worth it each week.

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If you haven’t seen the show, what do you think is going on here?

Part of this is enjoying all the nods to Kaiji. Even though I wasn’t a big fan, I do really enjoy referential works that I get. There are a lot! Some of them make scenarios in the original very absurd, to the point where you’d never be able to take them seriously, and others were just respectful nods.

At the halfway point I was having a decent time. Then the show decided to pivot and it really suffered for that. It decided to incorporate some season two stuff and follow a different character who is, for one, less interesting, and two, somebody you shouldn’t like at all if you’ve seen Kaiji’s second season.

Image result for Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management BluesNo longer a comedy, instead it became a foodie’s dream show. It wasn’t like these episodes were terrible but this show was supposed to be about Tonegawa, right? I don’t want to follow Ootsuki. They do bring it all together at one point, but it really wasn’t enough to justify the lengthy diversion.

By the homestretch, it does focus again solely on Tonegawa but these were among the least interesting episodes. It even had the audacity to throw itself a party for the last episode. You know what though? I was fine with it. Part of me was relieved that the show was finally over but the other part of me thought that Tonegawa had earned its ending. The show had fun, wanted you to have fun watching, and at the end of the day, that’s all you can really ask for.

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Some quick thoughts that didn’t make it into the main review here. The various, “Zawa, zawa’s” and iterations thereof, were all done by different actors each episode. I liked that. This is by far one of the biggest things that is unique to Kaiji and having this much dedication and attention put to making this really standout even more in this series was a very good touch.

Furthermore, the opening changed quite often to reflect things that had occurred from episode-to-episode. While you probably won’t catch them at first, by the end of the show it is like night and day with the amount of little things that have changed with time. It’s an underutilized treat when animators go that extra mile to really make a show stick out just that much more. I was impressed.

I could only find the dub trailer, but it captures some of the spirit rather well

While I wouldn’t say this show was all that great, I did enjoy it. Somehow, it was better for me, even if a lot of it just wasn’t all that interesting. Tonegawa is something that die-hard Kaiji fans NEED to watch, and if you’ve never seen Kaiji, it may spark some interest. However, it really is something made for fans and I can respect that.

What are your thoughts on Tonegawa and were you a fan of Kaiji? Let me know in the comments below. If you’d like to support the work I do here please consider hitting my donation button and tossing a few bucks my way. Lastly, I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy day to read this and I hope to see you back here again soon!

Neo Yokio Christmas Special – Mini Review

Was it Good?

Image result for neo yokio christmas specialAs you may recall, I wrote a glowing review of Neo Yokio when it first premiered on Netflix in 2017. A lot of folks hated it, but I found it to be an uproariously funny series. When it was announced that a Christmas special would be made, I was stoked! Well I gave it a watch so let’s dive in and see if this was up to par with the original series or if something was lacking.

The general premise of the episode is that Kaz is sick during the holidays so he has Charles tell him a story. Initially it starts off as telling the story of Jesus, but Kaz quickly gets bored of that and some off-color humor about religion is tossed in (I didn’t really mind that, just putting out there because I know some people will care).

That’s when you jump right into the story proper. You tangentially follow Herbert, or as many of the characters refer to him as, “Sales Clerk” and the upcoming Secret Santa for Neo Yokio’s most eligible bachelors. Kaz naturally gets his nemesis Arcangelo and vice versa. In addition to all this, a new character is tossed into the mix, Kaz’s French aunt who is a memoir-ist, that isn’t liked by Aunt Agatha. There is also hints that Kaz’s family may have a dark past and that bigger plots may be at play than anybody realizes. Somehow, this is also a commentary on consumerism and Christmas in general too.

In a way, this has all of the conventional trappings of any other special for any other series. You have the callback to the Toblerone, references to events that transpired back in the main series, and most of it felt about as natural as this sort of thing can.

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However, it just didn’t quite feel quite like the Neo Yokio I love. The first point of criticism I have is that the characters did too much swearing. Now, I don’t really care when swearing is in a show, but it was so frequent, and often out of place, that it was rather distracting. Furthermore, there is just a LOT going on in this (just over) an hour special.

It felt a bit unfocused. Mind you, this doesn’t mean it was a bad special, but you were a fan of Neo Yokio’s core series, then this may leave you feeling like this wasn’t as good. All that said, there were certainly high points of praise.

For starters I loved Arcangelo’s goofy Christmas song, Kaz’s terrible rap, and the pseudo-philosophical Eva-like sequences related to The Pink. I also liked the direction they took Herbert for the story, even pushing him to the brink of suicide when people refuse to shop at the store due to Arcangelo’s, “Christmas challenge” and is subsequently fired. There’s just something about this absurd series getting super real that elevated it even higher than normal for me.

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As I mentioned, there are messages about anti-consumerism which contradicts the expectations one may have for a Christmas special. Ultimately, Christmas is just a part of the setting, only acting as a vehicle to deliver the obvious critique and set pieces that propel the narrative.

So was this as good? No, but I still liked it. If you weren’t a fan of Neo Yokio already, then this absolutely won’t change your mind. However, if you loved the series like me, then you’ll probably enjoy this, even if it doesn’t quite measure up.

Are you going to check out Neo Yokio’s Christmas special? If you already did, what are your thoughts? Let me hear your voice in the comments below. If you’d like to support my writing here, please click my donation button below as I really appreciate it. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you back here again soon at Jon Spencer Reviews!

Black Bullet – Mini Review

Expected This to be Worse

Image result for black bulletIf I had to describe what Black Bullet was in a sentence, it would be this:  The video game, Earth Defense Force, meets lolis and racism. I say this because part of the show is about battling these evil bugs, known as, Gastrea, while the rest of it tackles the prejudice of this society. The Gastrea are fought off by a civilian security groups through the use of, “Cursed Children” who are infected with the virus that lead to the rise of the Gastrea. You guessed it, all these kids are little girls who need to pair up with (typically) an older male partner.

While that may sound cynical, Black Bullet actively makes fun of anybody who would be watching this as lolicon material. There were a few times where I thought the show was pandering a bit, but if you are worried about this one being creepy or anything, let me assure you that it isn’t.

What you are going to get here is a mix of action and politics, but neither are going to receive the proper amount of attention they deserve. Unfortunately, with only 13 episodes, it ends up feeling kind of rushed. That being said, the story you get is satisfying and wraps up the major plot threads while leaving room for more. Since this aired in 2014 it isn’t likely there will be more, but at least the product as is feels mostly complete.

The best part of this show is the relationships that, Rentarou, the main character, has with each of the cast members. While battling the first arc’s villain, who I fondly named, “Mr. Smiley” you can very easily see this. Later, when more characters are introduced the interactions become more nuanced.

While I’m on the subjects of positives, I really liked the OP and ED for Black Bullet. At times the OP reminded me of a Studio GoHands production but without going too crazy. The music was just very good, I’ll leave the OP below for ya.

One of the biggest negatives I found with the show was when Mr Smiley wasn’t around. It wasn’t like those episodes were all bad, a lot of them were still pretty good, but nothing really reached the same level of fun or intrigue as him. Thankfully, though the show would have you believe otherwise, he does come back for the series’ finally.

Another minor annoyance for me was that all the little girls are ten years old. Why? The Cursed Children were apparently all born the same year in this universe, which just makes no sense. This was an element that I felt needed some explaining. Likely this is because they don’t see combat until around that age, and the life expectancy for these girls is abysmal, but it isn’t actually made explicit the reason for this.

Some folks may be bothered by how badly the little girls are treated by many of the characters in the show. There really are a lot of positive ones outside of Rentarou’s relationship with the various girls. While nothing that extreme is ever actually shown on screen, they do refer to, and show the aftermath of some messed up events.

Black Bullet is far from groundbreaking or anything like that, but it is a good time if you are in the mood for it. There are enough interesting ideas to keep you engaged if you want to have a think about stuff, and is just silly enough to watch for some mindless fun otherwise. If you like loli stuff, then this is obviously a must.

I decided to give this a watch because VRV recently added HiDive after Funimation left them. If you’d like to watch the show subbed, you can do that on Crunchyroll still but otherwise you’ll need one of the other services listed above. Personally, I found the dub to be pretty good here.

What are your thoughts on Black Bullet? Was this show a pandering mess, or did it manage to surprise you a bit like it did for me? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you feel in the giving spirit and would like to help me out, you can do so by hitting my donation button below. As always, thank you very much for reading!

Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches – Body Swapping Fun?

I Came Around

Related imageYamada-kun and the Seven Witches, or just Yamada-kun for short, is another anime that I watched quickly before Funimation left VRV. It’s a body swapping show, which there just aren’t many of in anime… well outside of hentai but that’s exactly what I don’t want. The best example of a show like this so far has been Kokoro Connect, and that doesn’t even keep the body swap plot for its whole run (in favor of some other interesting things). So the big question from me:  is Yamada-kun worth watching and is it a good body swapping story?  Continue reading “Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches – Body Swapping Fun?”

Hyouka – A Legitimate Mystery Series

With Some Romance Too

Since VRV is losing Funimation titles this week I did all I could to watch some shows that would be leaving the platform. Most notably, ones I really wanted to watch like today’s anime of discussion, Hyouka. What drew me to this show was the striking visuals everybody always shared, the gifs, and the promise of this being a genuine mystery show (with some romance tossed in lightly). I can confidently say that Hyouka delivers.

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I mean, that is pretty stunning

Continue reading “Hyouka – A Legitimate Mystery Series”

Angels of Death – Mini Review Part 2 of 2 (Episodes 13-16)

Wasted Time

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The look I’m giving this show

Welcome to part 2 of the Angels of Death review. If you missed part 1, you can read that here. Last time I stated I would be finishing this one mostly as a formality, but I always hope that my expectations can be exceeded. Was that the case with the final four episodes of Angels of Death? Kind of. You see, these episodes were generally better but the ending left a definite sour taste in my mouth.

What exactly it was that made three of the four episodes better is kind of hard to pin down. They didn’t really do all that much different, yet somehow they were more fun to watch. This might have to do with tighter pacing as things reach the end game, or perhaps how the characters interact, but regardless, there is something here that Angels of Death was sorely lacking previously.

Still, they weren’t the best episodes. These improvements were noticeable but nothing near enough to provide a boost to my opinion of the show as a whole. Even if it did, the final episode was really bad. Let’s talk about that.

Image result for angels of death episode 16The finale of Angels of Death is a lot of silent, sweeping shots. After finally escaping, Rachel and Zach make it to, what appears to be, the streets of modern day London. Zach is promptly arrested and Rachel is taken to a mental facility. The few bits of dialog are Rachel’s Dr. saying totally random stuff about Rachel (that is wrong) while being interviewed by a character, who they bothered to animate having a moving mouth, that never speaks because he isn’t Japanese.

That part really irked me. They didn’t even try to dub it with bad English. Heck, even if he just spoke Japanese, that would have been fine. The Dr. does so just fine. It is weird and nonsensical since they animated the guy clearly talking. Instead, you just get awkward silence and subtitles.

In the end Rachel learns that Zach is to be put to death for his crimes but then he shows up last-minute to whisk Rachel away and fulfill his promise. After the long credits, which were a nice touch just for the fact that everybody is seemingly accredited across all 16 episodes, a bonus scene lingers on the now empty room where Rachel was, with Zach’s knife that he gave to her on the floor with some blood.

You might think that Rachel killed herself based on that, which would be an ok enough end, but game players have confirmed that everything was very literal with the ending. Just do yourself a favor, don’t bother with Angels of Death. It just isn’t worth it for a few alright moments at best.

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I do plan to check the game out, as I recently acquired it during Steam’s Halloween sale, since the game is supposed to be a lot better. Hopefully that is true and when I finish that up you will definitely be seeing a review of that on here. If you would like to check the game out, click the image below. I’m trying a new thing out where certain key images link to places like the MAL page or other useful sites.

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What are your thoughts on Angels of Death? Did you find this to be pretty bad like me, or did you actually enjoy this quite a bit? Plan to check out the game? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments below. If you would like to support me and my content please hit the button below as I’d greatly appreciate it. As always, thank you for reading and have yourself a wonderful day!

Anime ABC’s P is for Psycho-Pass

Living in a “Perfect” World

Image result for psycho passImagine a world where you have the most ideal job for you. In this world you have access to incredible health care, especially in regards to your mental well-being. This is a world where everyone truly belongs, a utopia, if you will. Well… at least for most people. Sure, some folks fall through the cracks but society didn’t really need them any way. No big loss. Welcome to the world of Psycho-Pass.
Continue reading “Anime ABC’s P is for Psycho-Pass”