Anime ABC’s R is for Run with the Wind

Motivation & Inspiration

Image result for run with the wind animeWhen Run with the Wind first aired back in the Fall 2018 season I almost gave it a pass without a second thought. That is, until I learned that it was based on a novel of the same title by author, Shion Miura. Why is that important? It’s important because I had watched an anime called The Great Passage which I had loved! Can you see where this is going? Yup, that’s right, it is also based on a novel by Shion Miura. I sat down and started giving it a watch only to put it on hold, the season was just TOO packed, until this series got chosen for the Anime ABC’s article series. So after the long wait, was it worth it? Continue reading “Anime ABC’s R is for Run with the Wind”

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Sword Art Online: Alicization – Mini Review

A VERY Mixed Bag

Image result for sword art online alicizationAfter watching Ordinal Scale in the theater, I was pretty hype for the upcoming third season. Later, when I heard that this season would have a boat load of episodes, basically enough to run for an ENTIRE YEAR, that hype only grew. Then it came out… From my tone you are probably thinking I hated it, but I didn’t. However, the show was all over the place and something was, clearly missing from previous installments in the franchise.

It should be pretty apparent by the way I opened this article that I’m a fan of the Sword Art Online anime franchise. Yes, it has its share of flaws, but I’ve generally enjoyed a good portion of the show. With great highs such as the “Mother’s Rosario” arc and lows such as the “Excalibur” filler episode. Something that I’ve noticed though, is that over time each installment has improved upon what was previously built with room for continued growth moving forward.

Reki Kawahara, author of the series, has always struggled with pacing and how to properly balance which characters get screen time. However, by the end of Ordinal Scale, it felt like he was finally hitting his stride. Having had more experience and taking influence from others, see Gun Gale Onlineyou can see this gradual improvement in these areas.

When it comes to this latest season with Alicization, it feels like all that got thrown out the window. I’ve noted in my “What I’m Watching – Fall 2018 Anime” article that things open with problems. It is true that I still enjoyed the show, but signs of issues were present from the very start.

Everything in this 24 episode installment, just takes way too long to happen. Really, I don’t mind that so much, but not a lot of interesting things occur as we go from point A to B. Of course there were some pretty great episodes or moments, but I couldn’t help but feel that they were farther and fewer between than any previous season.

You know the pacing is bad when you have a dedicated recap episode that is immediately followed up by yet ANOTHER recap episode. Not even joking, Alicization brazenly did that. They didn’t even try to make those interesting either, which isn’t surprising, but just extra salt in the wound.

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This is pretty much exactly how much time they share on screen, like a scene or two.

There was a lack of hype. Asuna and Kirito don’t get to interact at all really, the rest of the cast basically doesn’t exist, and while some of the new characters, namely Eugeo are cool, not enough of them leave a lasting impact.

All said, there were still things I liked quite a bit. For starters, the series has received a notable visual upgrade to bring it inline more with the film. Despite the controversy, I enjoyed episode 10 which was proper payoff for an arc (even with the gross censorship). Even the villain, Quinella, who seems rather shallow at first, has enough going on that I could write an entire article about her and thematic elements involved with her character.

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I could talk about toxic femininity, just as an example.

Additionally, some stuff in this show was legitimately uncomfortable. Maybe that sounds like a bad thing to you, but this is actually a point of high praise from me. Personally, I think media should challenge folks and this does achieve that a few times. That, and anime struggles to convey real horror in any capacity and season 3 here managed it more than once!

My final point of praise is in the ending of the series. Even with the Eugeo deciding his purpose in life was to become a giant flying sword powered by love and friendship (yes, that actually happened), they managed to recover from that and have an emotional conclusion. It didn’t feel cheap or unnecessary either. Kirito has a real reaction and it felt very good.

Then, they go and leave off on a crazy cliffhanger. Now, I expected something to go wrong for this last episode but I didn’t quite think things would escalate to the point it actually went to. Don’t want to spoil it, but I am actually excited for this to return in October. I just hope they really narrow in on the pacing and keep a tight ship, because if they manage that, we should be in for a pretty good ride!


Love it or hate it, I want to hear your thoughts on Sword Art Online both as a franchise and regarding this series, of course! Was something missing for you or did this keep you hyped for its whole run? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments. If you feel like supporting my writing, you can do so by utilizing my Ko-fi button below. Finally, thank you so much for reading and have yourself an excellent day!

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime – Having the Time of my Slife

*Hums Title to Tune of “(I’ve Had) The Time of my Life”*

Image result for that time i got reincarnated as a slimeOriginally I tried to transform the lyrics into some semblance of a review, but that ended up being quite the undertaking! Instead, you’ll have to settle for a regular ol’ review of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, or just Slime, for short. There was a lot of enthusiasm for this one at the start of Fall 2018 but was it able to hold onto that momentum through Winter 2019 across its 24 episodes? Continue reading “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime – Having the Time of my Slife”

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai – Mini Review

That’s a Title…

Image result for bunny girl senpaiAlright, first order of business, we are going to refer to this series as Bunny Girl Senpai because the title is just too long! You may remember from my first look at the Fall 2018 season that this anime was high up on my list of shows I wanted to keep up with each week. I didn’t say much then, but the big point was that I liked the dialog and dry sense of wit. In this way, Bunny Girl Senpai did not disappoint! However, by its end, I wasn’t as hot on the show as I would have otherwise expected.

Some background for folks, Bunny Girl Senpai is yet another light novel adaptation that is somewhat reminiscent of franchises such as Haruhi and Monogatari. Except, it really isn’t too much like either of those series, but you are going to see this compared to them quite a bit. This isn’t a bad thing, and in some ways this is warranted. In Bunny Girl Senpai the main character, Sakuta, is a sarcastic guy, much like Kyon. He goes around helping various girls with various supernatural hangups, which is where the Monogatari comparisons come in. Though, at the end of the day, it is very much its own beast that isn’t quite at the level of either of the other series. This isn’t a mark against Bunny Girl Senpai, but if you are going in expecting either, you’ll be left disappointed.

What really surprised most folks, and I’m included in this, is that the first arc feels like a big climax that would normally be reserved for the end of any other series. You get to have the relationship resolved between Sakuta and Mai, as well as the supernatural hangup. There is still plenty of room for more story and places to go from here, so the 13 episodes aren’t wasted.

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Sakuta and Mai have great chemistry. When it comes to the other characters though… they just aren’t as interesting. The only character I really liked other than these two was Kaede. It wasn’t that their stories were disinteresting, I still enjoyed them, but I didn’t quite care as much.

This reminds me of Kanon 2006 where the show has a HUGE emotional climax for its first arc (more so in this specific show than Bunny Girl Senapi) which diminished the proceeding arcs. It still recovered by the end, sure, but Bunny Girl Senpai felt similar to me in this way.

 

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This Kaede is best Kaede

Back to Kaede, I was actually looking forward to her arc, and up until the final episodes, I was really enjoyed it. Then the show just didn’t land for me. The ending felt too loose, like it didn’t really wrap things up. It did, but it didn’t at the same time. If you’ve seen this maybe you feel the same way, but I really don’t have a better way to explain it than that.

 

OP instead of a trailer like usual. I really don’t like this song, but at the same time, I can’t deny it’s catchy…

With all that, it probably sounds like I didn’t really like this show much, however, this isn’t the case. If anything, I’m just disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it more. What should have been a high-point of the season for me, ultimately only managed to be an interesting footnote in a season with a lot of hit-or-miss content. Worth the watch, but Bunny Girl Senpai isn’t the modern classic it should have been.


What are your thoughts on Bunny Girl Senpai? Be sure to share them with your fellow readers and me in the comments. If you enjoy my content then please consider a donation by clicking the button I have below, I’d really appreciate that. Thanks for taking the time to read and I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!

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”

Zombieland Saga – Mini Review

HELLO EVERYBODY!

Related imageThe Fall 2018 season of anime brought with it several interesting anime but one was a pretty big mystery at the start, Zombieland Saga. Nobody really knew what this show was going to be, outside of it plausibly containing zombies. It was with great surprise to many, myself included in this, that it was an idol show of all things. Not a fan of shows like Love Live!? Wait! Don’t go… Zombieland Saga may just be for you, so let me tell you why.

One of the big draws of this anime is its premise. Zombie idol girls? Sure! Cold opening with main character Sakura hurrying out the door, excited to apply to an idol group, only to end up getting hit by a truck (in the slap-stick comedy kind of way, complete with metal-type music). It’s one heck of a hook that immediately sets the tone. Zombieland Saga isn’t going to take itself seriously, or at least, that’s what it wants you to think.

A major problem some folks have with idol anime is the large cast and melodrama surrounding every little event. While it would be wrong to say that this show doesn’t have any of that, it largely avoids this problem with the prior established tone and a greater focus set on providing biting commentary on the current real-life state of the idol industry.

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Each character represents different facets of the idol industry, which is achieved because each girl is, well, a zombie! Since most of the girls get a dedicated episode you learn more about certain aspects of not only that character, but the context of what being an idol was during their time in life. In this way the show is very clever.

Zombieland Saga also chastises how the idol industry treats people now. Restrictions on the girls dating, overwork, and several other issues are also explored. Generally, these are given a comedic slant with the girls’ manager, Tatsumi, Koutarou (voiced by Miyano, Mamoru of Steins;Gate fame, by the way) screaming at them about how he can do whatever he wants with each of them because they are zombies.

Image result for zombieland saga lilyLastly the show wasn’t afraid to feature socially forward thinking through the character, Lily. She’s a trans person, and idols like this do exist in real life. For an example just look at K-Pop’s Harisu. Zombieland Saga isn’t the first, and surely not the last, anime to do this in the idol genre, but it was handled particularly well (even if fan reaction wasn’t….). Even if you don’t agree with this sort of thing, it is out there in the real world and deserves a place for exploration in media like this.

Ok, so maybe one reason you’ve avoided an idol show in the past is the music. Fair enough. Well Zombieland Saga is going to go to some outright weird places as far as your typical idol show is concerned. Death metal, rap, the more traditional songs, and even a commercial jingle! There is a fair amount of variety here and it just works. Don’t like a song? No problem, the next one is going to be different.

On the subject of music, the OP is super stylized. It’s not even something I can explain fully so please check it out for yourself (provided below). What’s more? You can listen to the OP and ED for free on Spotify if you would like as well!

All-in-all the story here is interesting, especially as a gateway into other idol anime. It does a surprisingly good job of cluing you into the culture surrounding this type of media, the story beats, and can even get you generally excited for/invested in the very characters.

However, this does lead me to the bad bits of the show which prevent it from being as good as it should have been. First off, the pacing towards the end is not very good and basically repeats an arc twice in a row. The context for this is fine, but it wasn’t exactly the most interesting to watch. Then you have the actual ending itself, which was, in a word, unsatisfying.

Zomebieland Saga feels like a big prologue for a much larger story that you might see from the longer-running idol anime like Love Live!. A fair number of the plots are tied up and you know the general outline of why/how every character relates to each other and the events occurring, but it just feels incomplete despite that.

I had to include the ridiculous trailer XD

Still, I would ultimately recommend Zombieland Saga, especially if you’ve never watched an idol show before or are looking to get into them. For all the playing around with the troupes these types of anime contain, it still plays into them just as hard but in a way that doesn’t take itself overly seriously. Plus, it was genuinely one of the better shows of the season.


Did you enjoy Zombieland Saga? Are you a long-time idol anime fan, or was this your first time? Going to watch other idol shows now? Let me know all this and more in the comments below! Please support my content creation by clicking my donation button and I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!

What I’m Watching – Fall 2018 Anime

Heya Folks!

So today was supposed to be the next Anime ABC’s entry for Psycho-Pass but I really wasn’t feeling up to writing the rest of it. Don’t worry though, it is coming and I think you will like the direction I took things. I just want to take my time on it and not rush completion for the sake of an arbitrary release date. Additionally, I have a nifty surprise for the next round so look forward to that. You didn’t come here to hear about that though! No, you want to know what anime I’ll be watching this season and hear my quick thoughts on each as well. Continue reading “What I’m Watching – Fall 2018 Anime”