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.

Image result for one punch man season 2 garou and kid

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!”

Ben-To – Taking Things too Far

Ben-To Has One Great Premise

People come together at the local grocery store to beat the tar out of each other for half-price bento boxes. It’s just a totally normal thing in this show. After one episode, I was sold. I then sat down and watched the whole thing in one sitting.

Unfortunately, Ben-To slowly began to lose its charm as time went on. Had it stuck to its premise while only dabbling in occasional fanservice, the show would easily have been a lot better. So what was the problem exactly? Ben-To‘s go to joke was to sexually assault, and in some cases, borderline rape its cast. That just isn’t funny. Furthermore, some of the fanservice was tied up into that mess, which is not a good idea. Ever. Continue reading “Ben-To – Taking Things too Far”

Welcome to the Ballroom – My Biggest Disappointment with the 2017 Summer Anime Season

I Love Ballroom Dancing

When I found that there was going to be an anime about one of my favorite activities, ballroom dancing, I was super excited! Unlike last year’s Yuri!!! on Ice, there is a layer of relatability that Welcome to the Ballroom, or Ballroom e Youkoso, has for me. Now that we are a decent way into the Summer 2017 anime season, why am I so disappointed with a show that should have me jumping (or should I say dancing?) with joy? Continue reading “Welcome to the Ballroom – My Biggest Disappointment with the 2017 Summer Anime Season”

Anime ABC’s – G is for Gunslinger Girl (S1 & 2 + OVA’s)

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AKA Lolis with Guns

Gunslinger Girl was introduced to me as “lolis with guns.” I was immediately interested by this description and knew that I would be watching this anime. Up until now, the opportunity hadn’t arisen. I had started it up with some friends awhile back, but we never got around to finishing it. Fortunately, Anime ABC’s is just the opportunity that I was looking for to finish this show. I’ll be taking a look at both seasons of the show and the OVA’s in this review, so let’s get started! Continue reading “Anime ABC’s – G is for Gunslinger Girl (S1 & 2 + OVA’s)”

5 Anime You Can Watch Right Now! (Hulu Edition)

 

Overview

This is part of The  ❄️ 12 Days of Christmas ❄️ 

Navigating the seemingly endless number of shows and movies on sites like Hulu or Netflix can be a daunting task. For this list I went and found 5 great shows that you can watch right now on Hulu. Continue reading “5 Anime You Can Watch Right Now! (Hulu Edition)”