After School Dice Club – Mini Review

Finally, An Anime About Board Games!

Since A Sister’s All You Need first premiered back in 2017, I’ve been convinced that an anime about people playing board games could work well. Apparently a 2013 manga, later turned anime, was a head of the curve though with After School Dice ClubWhile this series took its time to finally put my money where my mouth was, there’s just one logical question to ask:  Does the show actually work?

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Left to right:  Midori, Aya, Emilia, and Miki

To get the show off the ground, because you can’t just have some cute girls randomly playing board games with no context, there’s Miki, a shy girl with no friends. How sad. Then she learns about board games, and wouldn’t you know it, she gets some friends which gives a boost to her self-confidence. Along the way, her newfound friends have their own trials and tribulations as well.

While there is that story going on, the focus is obviously the board games. Not your typical anime off-brand stuff, real board games that you can go out and get today. If you didn’t know, I am pretty well-versed when it comes to board games and I was generally impressed with the selection they showed off in After School Dice Club.

Nearly all the games featured are entry-level, meaning they are quick to pick up, learn, and teach. This allows the show to legitimately teach you how to play whatever the game happens to be in their entirety. It’s one of the biggest strengths the show has.

The other positive point this anime has is showing off the creative process for making a good game. That plot is easily the best one as it allows you to appreciate the games more while giving some basic insight into the industry. Having made a game myself, I appreciated it at least.

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Midori’s arc is where the show unfortunately peaks from a story perspective

Unfortunately, the show holds itself back by trying to include so many narrative elements. The board game sections are great, but they had to be tied into the story, which is the problem. While I respect the mix of traditional Japanese games and great modern games, having to deal with random drama between them caused them to lose some impact along the way.

You can really feel this in the final episode where Miki sits on a bench bullying herself because she realizes she might not be able to spend every waking minute of her life with her friends. What should be an emotionally climatic moment, where she does eventually learn she has true friends, is instead accidentally really hilarious.

No trailer today as they are not subbed, instead enjoy a clip from the show

I’ve seen it said that After School Dice Club fails as a show as it just “makes you want to play board games yourself”, but I can’t help but see that as a positive. That’s kind of the whole point of the show. If you are looking for a decent story that breaks down toward the end, but does feature solid game recommendations and tutorials, this will absolutely work for you. It’s just comfy enough to recommend, but I feel like this kind of show could have done a lot better.


How about you? Did After School Dice Club live up to your expectations? Let me know in the comments! If you like the work I’m doing here, please consider becoming a Patron or making a one-time donation via the buttons below. Thanks for reading and see you again soon!

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Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld

What a Season!

It finally happened folks, I gave a Sword Art Online season a perfect score. I’ve always enjoyed the series, but up until now, Ordinal Scale was the only thing that’s even come close as overall entries go. My worries that were sown when Alicization had first debuted in Fall 2018 were quickly washed away. All that setup was certainly worth the payout, and I can’t wait for the rest! Continue reading “Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld”

Tower of Druaga: The Sword of Uruk – A Strong Finish

Certainly Worth the Watch!

Picking up right where Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk left off, the second season of the anime opens with one powerful episode. That said though, before I get into any of that, and why you should definitely watch this, be aware that there will be spoilers for season 1 in here. If all you were looking for was assurance that the whole series is worth your time, I can confidently say it is. Now, on to the review proper. Continue reading “Tower of Druaga: The Sword of Uruk – A Strong Finish”

Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk – A Surprising Delight

Probably the Best Video Game Adaptation Turned Anime I’ve Seen

Awhile back while searching for another anime I happened upon a show called “Tower of Druaga“. This title was one I was quick to disregard, except two things struck me about it when I looked it up. The first being that this was somehow based on a 1984 Namco game and the fact that this was a Gonzo production. If you don’t know already, I have a philosophy that all Gonzo shows are at least interesting, even if they aren’t good, but sometimes they really delight. So the big question is, did Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk deliver? Continue reading “Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk – A Surprising Delight”

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”

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!