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”

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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”

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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Astra Lost in Space – Best of Season

Classic Sci-fi Mystery & Adventure

When my buddy pitched Astra Lost in Space to me at the start of the Summer 2019 season, he described it as:

A space survival show with M. Night Shyamalan twists at every turn with a dash of comedy.

-My friend (who also read the source material before watching)

While I don’t think this is really an accurate description of the show, it feels more like Star Trek with a deep mystery running through it, I can now see what he meant. If you would have asked me what I thought the best show of the season was going to be, I probably wouldn’t have picked this one either. However, here we are. Continue reading “Astra Lost in Space – Best of Season”

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”

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 Promised Neverland – Mini Review

Gonna be Real, Pretty Lukewarm on This

Image result for the promised neverlandI know it’s not everyday that we get a horror anime, or something that even gets close to touching the cat-and-mouse of Death Note, especially not as a Shonen Jump adaptation, but The Promised Neverland never reached the heights for me like it seemingly did for everyone else. This isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy it, I totally did, and it had some great moments, but overall this was a pretty standard experience for me. Outside of (jokingly) suspecting Phil each episode of course!

Our story is about three kids, Norman, Ray, and Emma. They all live idyllic lives at Grace Field, an orphanage, with their beloved caretaker, Isabella, whom they refer to as “mamma”. I shouldn’t even have to explain where things go from here. Insert quote about, “then suddenly, everything changed when they learned the horrible truth” or whatever. It’s extremely obvious right away that this isn’t going to be some happy-go-lucky anime.

Just looking at the iconography of the poster for the show gives it up. The entire first episode twist isn’t even trying to be hidden. I actually don’t think this is that big of an issue but the show received a lot of praise for this first episode. While I think it is a decent episode, The Promised Neverland is not really good at keeping things to itself. The mystery elements are lacking.

Really the focus is on the back-and-forth of the kids who learn the truth and their caretaker. They want to escape their fate but are at a severe disadvantage, despite their great intellect. For awhile, the show totally gets away with having some slower pacing by consistently working at this goal. New threats are introduced in Sister Krone, and there are some genuinely creepy changes (some of which weren’t even in the original source material).

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However, there were a few points where the pacing took notable hits. The first being when the kids discover the secret code in the library, which seems like something relevant for season two, because it doesn’t go anywhere. They spend almost a whole episode on it though, which just feels kind of wasteful. Second time was when Ray revealed the dumbest piece of information I’ve seen in awhile.

Not even gonna label this as a spoiler, because it is that stupid. Ray states that he can remember everything since he was a FETUS. Not like, a baby, or something, nope ever since he was in the womb. While this is a real thing (though very rare) for very young children, it just completely ruined the tension of its episode. I constantly made fun of it, because the show kept reminding me about it.

When Neverland is on its game though, it is good. It doesn’t reach the same heights, but has a quality that reminds me of Death Note. Watching the kids and the caretakers try to stay multiple steps ahead of each other was a good time… usually.

Speaking of the characters, that is where the show does its best. The kids are a little one-note, but Isabella especially has a lot of depth. As the main villain of the season, she is sympathetic and quite nuanced. I loved that they also tied in this musical motif (should mention, the music for this show is easily the best part) into her backstory for the final episode, it was a great touch.

Whenever she was on screen, Isabella always had this looming presence. Almost like she was giving the kids these condescending looks while pretending to be an ideal mother to them. However, she does does all of this with good reason. I can appreciate her situation and why she works so hard at getting these kids to believe the lie of their perfect lives, and stopping those who do realize the illusion.

There’s a scene where Isabella offers Emma a job like hers when she discovers the truth and it is totally reasonable. Unlike a lot of folks, I don’t think Isabella is actually an evil character. She’s just a person making the best of her desperate situation. In the end, she isn’t really even trying to stop the kids from escaping or knowing the truth.

This brings me to the ending. I did find this to be the best part, not because it was over, but the resolution to all the buildup, which is 90% of the show, was finally given. Isabella had her fantastic character moment, and things wrapped up nicely with room for the upcoming second season.

Come time for season two, I will be watching but I’m not dying to see it or anything. Ultimately The Promised Neverland was a decent show with a good first season. It’s going to really need to step up in season two though. If it manages that, I think this has the chance of being a great horror/mystery show that will be talked about for a good time, but time will tell on that front.


What are your thoughts on The Promised Neverland? Was this your top show of the season or were you like me, and just kind of enjoying it? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments! If you feel like supporting my work please make use of my donation button below. Thank you for reading and I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!

Btooom! & Problematic Protagonists

I’m Supposed to Root for This Guy, Right?

Have you ever been watching a show and everything is enjoyable enough and then you dive into the main character’s backstory and beliefs only to discover that they are a deplorable human and just abjectly horrible? To make things worse, the show wants this character to WIN and you are supposed to want them to. This is exactly how I felt watching Btooom! and its protagonist Sakamoto. Continue reading “Btooom! & Problematic Protagonists”

5 Lesser Known Anime You May Have Missed

More Recommendations!

You guys voted over on my Twitter for me to do a list featuring some anime you might have missed, some might even say obscure, so here we are! I’ve actually done two lists like this in the past which you can read those here and here. So in total, you’ll be getting a whole 15 anime recommendations today! You’ll certainly have a lot of shows to pick from after this.

Much like previous lists, titles featured here are ones I’ve watched. These entries are not ranked in any way and I tried to pick a variety of titles so you can find at least one potential show to give a chance to. Of course, I might have left out a really great title so feel free to make additional recommendations in the comments below for both myself and your fellow readers. Let’s get on with the list! Continue reading “5 Lesser Known Anime You May Have Missed”

The Importance of Tone – A Look at Death Parade & Little Busters!

Picture This:

Panicked, you rush out the door and hop into your car. You are late… again. Today is the most important meeting of your life, you are supposed to be pitching your company’s “next big thing” to a big fish client. Scrambled, you try and call ahead, the meeting is just about to start and you are at least thirty minutes away. No luck! With no regard to your self, you begin racing to the office as fast as your car will allow. A sense of dread hangs in the air as you finally arrive at the office. You enter, head down, ashamed. Clearly, your boss isn’t happy because you do have a history of pushing your luck, but you have never messed up so badly before. Can you guess what happens next?

The above paragraph is an example of tone in an everyday, although extreme, scenario. Without me telling you how the story ends, you were probably able to figure it out given context clues provided by the tone of the narrative. We don’t often actively think about this sort of thing as we go about our busy lives, but you are more likely to clue into the importance of tone in books, TV, film, and yes, especially anime. Today I take a look at two shows that handle tone very differently:  Death Parade and Little Busters! Continue reading “The Importance of Tone – A Look at Death Parade & Little Busters!”