It used to be when you first became an anime fan that there was an almost unspoken list of anime everyone was silently expected to check out. You’d see shows like Code Geass, Cowboy Bebop, Death Note, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood appear on almost everyone’s list. As time when on, this list has changed, and for many even, doesn’t even really exist anymore. Some shows have survived the test of time and are regarded as “must-see” classics, while other titles have found themselves wasting away to obscurity.Hunter x Hunter is a show that has debatably hit this titan status as you’ll see it recommended countless times to both new and veteran fans alike. Today we are going to discuss my four year journey with the 148 episode series, and what a journey it was.Continue reading “My 4 Year Journey with Hunter x Hunter (2011)”→
On the surface xxxHOLiC doesn’t look too different from your typical “dark bargain” kind of story. There’s a shop that grant any wish you desire, at a price of course. In several ways it is reminiscent of something like Pet Shop of Horrors or the plethora of other stories just like it. Except xxxHOLiC has a bit of a twist; it’s a comedy. The question is: does it work?Continue reading “Anime ABC’s X is for xxxHOLiC”→
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 Club. While 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?
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.
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!
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”→
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 wereDemon SlayerandCop 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”→
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”→
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.
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.
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.
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!
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”→