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!

Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu – Mini Review

Like Watamote, but less Cringe

Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu, or as I’m going to call it, Hitoribocchi, was one of the only shows I watched from the Spring 2019 lineup. Not much caught my attention but this did for its cute character designs and extremely goofy cast. Over the 12 episode run the anxiety riddled, titular Bocchi, attempts to befriend her entire middle school class so she can one day reunite with her friend. So, how’d she do?

I heard this show described as one where the plot can only happen if most of the characters involved are really stupid, and I kind of agree. Bocchi is such an unbelievably dumb person on top of having difficulties speaking to others. It is really obvious why her friend, Kai, pushed her to befriend her whole middle school class. However, I don’t really see anything wrong with that so long as the show is entertaining. Which, I think this anime succeeds at.

Image result for hitoribocchi do your best beam gif
Do your best beam!

 

What mostly caries this show is its cast. Bocchi has and company have great designs as well as onscreen chemistry that kept me coming back each week. Particularly when the character, Aru, was introduced. At first she was so obviously fake that I almost got turned off to the show entirely, but then it is revealed she is just an unfortunate person who overcompensates as a result. Example, coming to school with a coat hanger sticking out of her uniform. She ended up being my favorite character in the show.

 

This character song is actually really good and captures Aru’s perfectly

I already mentioned this show back in my article “When an Anime Shows & Tells – A Discussion Ft. Waiting in the Summer and Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu where I talked about how sometimes little details make a show all the better. This is one of those shows were nothing is revolutionary, but because of this effort, Hitoribocchi manages to be more enjoyable than one might initially expect.

In several ways this reminds me of Watamote, another anime about a socially awkward girl except it isn’t as cringe-worthy. While I ultimately think Watamote is the better of the two for how inventive it gets with some of its presentation, alongside being generally funnier, Hitoribocchi has a leg up in consistency. It’s also more wholesome. If you didn’t like Watamote but liked the idea of it, this may be for you.

If I had to criticize the show for anything it is actually when Bocchi bumps into Kai part way through the series. Bocchi has succeeded in making some friends at this point but in spite of that Kai refuses to even say “hello” to Bocchi. This has the unfortunate of effect of making you kind of hate Kai. While you get her intentions at the start, it is ridiculous that she can’t even do a basic greeting or anything. The show plays this off as an emotional moment that is somehow positive, but it just didn’t play right.

Disregarding that little hiccup, the rest of the show that consistency in what it delivers. A few chuckles and a good enough time. As I’ve already stated, this isn’t a groundbreaking show but it doesn’t need to be. In a season where I didn’t have a lot to watch, it was something nice to tide me over. If you are on the fence about this one, you should go ahead and give Hitoribocchi a watch!


What were your thoughts on Hitoribocchi? Have you read the manga? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments! If you would like to support my writing, consider pressing my Ko-fi button below and making a small donation. Thanks for reading and have yourself a wonderful day!

Dauntless (Open Beta) – Mini Review

More Than a Monster Hunter Clone

You’ve probably heard of a “new” game that’s become quite popular on the Epic Games store recently called Dauntless. It’s out for PS4, Xbox, and PC with a Switch port coming soon. Even better than that, it is 100% free to play. So what exactly is Dauntless and why is it so popular?

This game has actually been around for some time, since 2017, but it never gained traction until just recently. Many wrote this off as a buggy and inferior copy of the smash game series, Monster Hunter, but after some time in the oven and a wide release on multiple platforms, it seems things have really turned around for Phoenix Labs.

Image result for dauntless

I’ll admit that I was skeptical of the game. I don’t like Monster Hunter and it seemed like the kind of grind that would get old fast. However, something compelled me to give this a try and I’m really glad that I did. What I discovered was a game that was great for popping in and out of with a nice community.

As I’ve mentioned, the game is not dissimilar to Monster Hunter, specifically World. The key difference being that Dauntless is more of an arcade-y experience working on a free to play model. Don’t let that scare you though because the game is extremely solid and friendly to those not wanting to invest a cent.

For an open beta product, the foundation of the game is extremely solid. You can choose from one of several weapons ranging from a sword, spear, or guns, called “repeaters” in this game. Each weapon has various elemental forms that can be upgraded and modified as you play to best counter each monster.

What I particularly like about this is the mastery system Dauntless has. As you use each weapon, you unlock mastery in it. This in turn grants you new ways to further customize your weapon of choice. However, the game also gives players an incentive for keeping a more well-rounded approach by having quests and challenges that grant rewards tied to getting just a little bit better with every weapon.

Image result for dauntless

As for micro-transactions, there are some. The worst of the bunch is the needless “Hunt Pass” which is a weird battle pass thing in a free to play MMO type game. That said, it only grants a very minute bonus to resource gathering as well as additional premium currency that you otherwise wouldn’t get right away. At least, that’s all that it impacts in terms of gameplay. You do get several cosmetic items by purchasing the pass but it is by no means necessary.

Free users still gain rewards on the Hunt Pass, just a lot less after the initial few levels. Still, free users do gain many of the same things the paid users get, just in smaller quantities. What you’ll largely miss out on is cosmetic items.

Having put in several hours over the course of two weekends, I can confidently say that the Duantless has a solid playerbase that is ready and willing to help new players. It doesn’t take long to get to a pretty competent level either. I’m already at some pretty high-end stuff with multiple sets of highly leveled gear.

Fighting the monsters has been largely rewarding. Only a few are slightly frustrating but each is pretty different than the last. When I was talking about weapons earlier, you really are rewarded for having mastery over a couple because some weapons do way better against certain monsters. As you play, you pick that stuff up in an organic kind of way and it is really satisfying.

It’s not all sunshine and roses though. Every now-and-again, the servers seem to be overloaded. You may disconnect in the middle of a 15 minute battle and lose out on all that work. Also, the devs haven’t implemented loadout slots yet so you are constantly needing to shuffle around gear.

These are things that can be, and will be, fixed though. If you like games like Monster Hunter and don’t mind a bit of a grind, than Dauntless is something you should check out. It being free and on virtually every platform with a linked account across each of ’em, there really isn’t much risk for just popping in. You may just find a new favorite like I did!

You can check the game out in more detail on the Dauntless website. If you would like to play with me I am available sporadically on the weekend. The game has crossplatform play, so even if you aren’t on PS4, we can play together. Let me know in the comments if you want to add me or send me a private message on my Twitter (@JS_Reviews) so we can get that sorted.


Let me know how you’ve been enjoying Dauntless and if I convinced you to check it out. Even if you hate the game, I’d love to hear why. If you want to support my writing here please consider a donation by hitting the Ko-fi button below. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read and have a good one!

Ingress the Animation – Mini Review

A Good Mobile Game Adaptation

Image result for ingress the animationI’m back with my latest Netflix adventure, this time with Ingress the Animation, a supernatural drama based on a mobile game by Niantic. You may know them for Pokemon GO, and like that game, this is an AR game meant to get people out and about but this one came first. Is there enough here to make for a good show? Does this sit somewhere closer to B:  The Beginning or is this another Hero Mask?

When I sat down to watch this one I had no clue it was a mobile game adaptation, I only learned all that part way through when I was doing some digging. I also expected the show to be another supernatural cop procedural, but this one was more action oriented. Still, Ingress managed to peak my interest.

What got me interested in everything was the introduction of Makoto, a psychic detective who is asked to investigate a strange incident. With the ability to see memories contained in objects, he soon learns something he shouldn’t and gets wrapped up in a global conspiracy. You know, just another Monday.

Image result for ingress the animation
It was good character introduction

It’s a bit cliche, but what I liked most about this was how the anime showed you how his power works. Actually, things were done this way more often than not. There were still info dumps, but they weren’t too often and were done when only necessary.

As the story unfolds, Makoto gets involved with a girl named Sarah. She tells Makoto that there exists a hidden substance that has influenced humanity for some time called, Exotic Matter, or XM for short. This explains his ability. It’s an example where the show tells you things, but the whole while it does a lot of showing at the same time.

Mostly, this is to teach you about the mobile game. Surprisingly, it did a really good job because I was talking to my brother about it (he’s played it) and he was shocked how well I knew the game for never playing. Even more shocking, this never felt intrusive. It felt totally organic within the story, which is something that really sets this one apart for me.

In the end, the story isn’t revolutionary but one that I enjoyed more than expected. Going back to my earlier question, it had quality closer to B than Hero Mask, which is a good thing for sure. I’d watch more of this if it ever got more.

The characters for the series are done in CG and that can be a bit distracting, sometimes resulting in odd action choreography, but if you can look past that, the show looks pretty good most of the time. I’d say it generally looked worse in the early episodes but improved as it went, I also got a lot more used to it though, so there’s that.

Finally, the music was great! The OP and ED were both done by an idie band, alt-J. I joked on Twitter about how random geometry was used in the OP, and then the song had the lyrics, “Triangles are my favorite shape.” Which, at first, I found humorous, but as the show went on it made good thematic sense. It was a solid choice. Not to mention the animation sequence here is strong from a directional standpoint.

The ED, “In Cold Blood” was clearly picked for the binary lyrics because the rest of the song doesn’t really fit the show. However, that part is thematic and the AR sequence of real life places colliding with the game is neat. It was another way to show off the game without being too in your face.

 

In short, I’d recommend Ingress the Animation if you are already curious about the game especially. Fans of supernatural action/mystery shows should also enjoy this one. As I said, it isn’t revolutionary, but you’ll at least have a decent time.


Have you ever played Ingress? Did you watch the show? Share your thoughts on either in the comments. If you want to support my work, you can do so via the Ko-fi button below. Thanks, as always, for reading and hope to see you back here again soon!

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.

Image result for sword art online alicization
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.

Image result for sword art online alicization quinella
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!

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).

Related image

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!

W’z – Mini Review

Hand Shakers Second Season?

Image result for w'zWhen W’z got announced it was pretty unclear whether or not this would be a sequel to the critically panned, Hand Shakers or not. As somebody who actually really enjoyed Hand Shakers, I was pretty excited for GoHands latest project for the Winter 2019 season. Quickly, it became quite evident that this was in fact a second season. As much as I hate to admit it though, this was a pretty disappointing followup.

The unique aspects of Hand Shakers are still present in W’z, namely the visuals. These actually got a notable upgrade with better visual coherence and general direction. Unfortunately, the writing and plot took a hit.

I think I should mention what I liked about Hand Shakers at this point. While it certainly was visually noisy and there were moments of absolute stupidity, it ultimately told an interesting story while explore some more interesting ideas. The absolute height of the anime being the arc involving the idol character, which will be relevant in a moment. 

When I dug a little deeper, I learned that it was actually made as a commercial for a separate company and a passion project of sorts. You may know that I’m a marketing major, so this struck me as particularly interesting. This is more something that personally interests me but I think it adds something to the show that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

I digress, let’s focus back on W’z. The plot of this show takes place 10 years after the events of the first season. Plot wise there is a decent hook, characters are looking for those who met with God the previous season and have mysteriously vanished. Our new cast can help with that because they have the power to transport people into Ziggurat. There’s other stuff going on here, but not much else really mentioning.

Image result for w'z

Additionally, there is an emphasis placed on music, which is a novel concept initially, but it quickly out stays its welcome. The obnoxious catch phrase of our protagonist, who’s only real trait is that he likes composing music, is extremely intrusive. What’s worse, is that other characters, who are not even interested in music, also use the catch phrase… like a lot.

It was nice to see the previous cast make an appearance here alongside the new one, actively participating too. They, for the most part, aren’t just shoved in for the sake of it. W’z even managed to make one of the worst characters from season 1 one of the most interesting characters in this season. Unfortunately, the idol girl NEVER makes a return, the one character I wanted to see! I was extremely disappointed to say the least.

Eventually the main plot gets solved and this other plot takes center stage. It’s bad, even if they do a decent job explaining the backstory and motivations of the antagonists in this section. I should mention, that this plot runs through from the start, but it really matters very little until the final few episodes.

I’m kind of losing the plot in explaining just what it is that didn’t, and forgive me because I just complained about this, “mesh” with me here. Just going to try and salvage this here. Frankly, I didn’t hate this but I wouldn’t recommend it either. Hand Shakers, absolutely! W’z, not so much. That should speak volumes.


If you happened to enjoy Hand Shakers and watched this, did you like W’z? I’d love to hear your thoughts either way, even on the series prior. If you feel like supporting me, you can do so with my donation button below. Thanks for stopping by and have yourself a wonderful day!

The Price of Smiles – Mini Review

NOT an Idol Anime

I’ve mentioned this before in an update I did during some of my semi-hiatus time, but I genuinely thought that The Price of Smiles was going to be an idol anime. The way Princess Yuki looks, along with the only image I had seen at the time, really had me convinced. SPOILERS! It’s not an idol anime at all… it’s a mecha show about war. Not what I expected but that can be good, so, was it?

Image result for the price of smiles
Said image, featured on Karandi’s wonderful site. Be sure to check it out!

I also mentioned this in my little update, though in not very much detail, that this was a palate cleanser that I was finding just enjoyable. That held true throughout the entire viewing experience. The Price of Smiles was never boring, but it suffered from being too short at only 12 episodes. As a result, a lot of stuff just kind of happens because the show has to get to its ending. A shame too, because this could and should have been a far better show than it ended up being.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like The Price of Smiles had anything revolutionary to say, or even did anything innovative, but there was a solid show here. If this would have been doubled in length, it would have easily fixed a lot of the problems that resulted in this being such a short series. Namely, pacing and impact.

I mention this because the ending falls short in a lot of ways. Things just get wrapped up because they have to and it all feels a little too easy. It takes away from what should be a meaningful moment for the series, causing me to not really care when it came down to everything. It was all going to work out of course, but the stakes weren’t quite there. It didn’t help that in the epilogue, brief as it is, doesn’t really show any of the stuff they were talking about leading up to the ending. Lives were supposedly changes, but it didn’t seem that way at all. 

It’s not all bad though. As I mentioned not too long ago in my collab with Yomu covering Art Clubsometimes an average, enjoyable show is exactly what you need. For a season that was jam-packed with excellent titles, having something like this to slot between watches was a much needed blessing.

Taking all this into consideration, I don’t really have all that much more to say about the actual anime itself. I suppose I could poke fun at the simply ridiculous hairstyles that almost rival Shiki in that regard but a picture is going to speak more than words ever could there.

Image result for the price of smiles harold
I’m exaggerating a bit in regards to most the cast, but some guys really take the cake…

Beyond that, I suppose I should mention the OP, “Egao no Kanata” by Chiho feat. Majiko. I really like when things sync up well in OP’s and this has a shinning example where Yuki and Stella sing part of the song back-to-back. It is super good! There was actually quite a lot of great imagery in OP’s this season but that’s a topic for another time.

For better or worse, The Price of Smiles was just a pretty average show. A Pretty average show that I would fully recommend, especially if you are a fan of mecha stories about war. That’ll do me for this one folks, see ya in the next one!


What were your thoughts on The Price of Smiles? Did you think it was going to be an idol anime like I did? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. While you’re down there, tell me what your favorite mecha anime is too! If you would like to support my writing, please utilize my donation button below. I’d greatly appreciate that! As always, thank you so much for reading and have yourself an excellent day.

Red Garden – Mini Review

A Gonzo Show! I loved it… Right?

Image result for red garden animeYou might not have heard of this bizarre anime from the Fall 2006, so let me do my best to explain this one a bit. Wish me luck:  

A series of strange suicides have been plaguing New York. Four girls from an elite high school find themselves in a strange situation when they realize their friend is one of the suicide victims. That’s when the butterflies appear and rip Kate, Claire, Rachel, and Rose from their normal lives. They are all quite different, but circumstance has forced them together. Upon following the butterflies, they meet a man and a woman who inform them that they are dead and now must fight for their right for continued existence.

Image result for red garden anime

That, or I could have just said, this is a lot like Twilight but if it were somehow more poorly written, acted, and WAY more enjoyable. Even if horror-comedy-musical-tragedies aren’t normally your thing, you may very well still want to check out Gonzo’s Red Garden. Let’s dive right in and find out why.

OMG, I’ve never seen this trailer before. Most anticipated horror-action of the YEAR guys! 

The first big thing about Red Garden is that director, Kou Matsuo, has this weird fascination with Western media. One thing in particular being musicals. For the first handful of episodes in the series, sometimes a random, in-character musical number breaks out. These don’t add anything to the show, but knowing that was enough to peak my interest.

What’s more is the crazy story format. It jumps all over the place. Sometimes it is a slasher show, a comedy, romance, etc… when I read about the plot a few years back, I just knew that this level of out-there was something I’d enjoy. I was right too, but it also was more of a slog to watch than expected.

Red Garden suffers immensely from pacing. This isn’t helped by the inconsistent format, poor acting, and generally bad writing. Plot wise, it actually isn’t hard to follow, but the dialog and events are an absolute mess.

The Western influence did bring about some more interesting things for the show though. For example, setting the show in New York, most notably Roosevelt Island, was a nice touch. The girls, while design wise not always the best, wore unique outfits that were generally believable. Additionally, the socioeconomic differences between its cast were more highlighted here, even though they all attend a rather prestigious school.

There were a lot of little touches like that in Red Garden that added to its depth when it wasn’t being a totally bonkers genre blend of a story. It also knew how to restrain itself and tell human stories that actually mattered. They were far-and-few between, but it was a nice break from the supernatural drama.

In essencethis is a vampires vs werewolves story. The girls are newly-made vampires, except they suck lemons instead of blood. Really, they are more like zombies, but the show also gives them vampire powers. Werewolves are part of this other clan and are the rivals of the vampires.

Both sides are under a curse due to some dumb thing that happened a long time ago. They each resent the other side, and want to solve their own problem without helping their rivals. However, there is a twist. If the girls win the day, they’ll lose all of their memories and become immortal.

Upon this revelation the Red Garden really gives this time. The final battle brought things to a fairly decent close, and the series ended on a decent note. Then the OVA happened.

The OVA takes place far into the future and all of the girls have taken on new personalities. They have no memory of who they once were either. For whatever reason, all the other characters are also in this OVA, which ends up being funnier than expected. The OVA turns things into a futuristic sci-fi action-mystery with mecha in it for good measure. Seriously, it is bizarre.

That’s the appeal of Red Garden though. It’s so utterly unique and interesting that calling it outright bad would be a disservice. It certainly isn’t good, but it does entertain. There are some very slow bits, but ultimately, it was worth the watch.

I should note that watching this either in Japanese or English made no difference. Both tracks are intentionally done poorly. I went with English because it was easier to understand and the atrocious singing was a lot funnier to me. You’ll probably want to flip subtitles on for at least that though, you can’t understand them well when they sing. Partially because they are BAD, but also because it is really quiet.

Sorry the quality isn’t the best. This was the only good example I could find. Check out the OP & ED’s for the show though, those are legit good.

I’ll link to one of the songs here so you can see what I mean. It’s probably the best way to sell you on the show, as counter intuitive as that may sound. Gonzo certainly has put out a lot of shows I’ve loved, and while Red Garden doesn’t quite measure up to their other works, I still think this one was a valuable edition to my collection.


Have you seen Red Garden? Be sure to share your thoughts. Additionally, what is your favorite Gonzo show? There are a lot to choose from! If you enjoyed this article, consider dropping me a donation via the button bellow. Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to read and I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!

Apex Legends – Mini Review

Another Battle Royale?

Almost out of nowhere, Respawn Entertainment, the creators of Titanfall, released the latest contender in battle royale (well, outside of Tetris 99), Apex Legends. EA has a rocky relationship with fans, and the burnout in this respective genre has been pretty real. You may remember that I did not at all enjoy Fortnight and the last battle royale (BR) title I enjoyed even a little was Realm Royale. So it wasn’t surprising that I had my fair share of skepticism towards Apex.

I first saw a commercial on YouTube for this game when it launched. At first I thought it was a spin-off game from the Borderlands series, but after my friend told me how great the game was, I was very quickly corrected. Having enjoyed Titanfall and its sequel immensely, I figured I should at least give this one a chance.

Image result for apex legends

Boy am I glad I did! Apex Legends is definitively the only BR game that I’ll play. My only grumble is that I can’t play the game on PC due to my internet situation. However, on the weekends when I have access to my PS4 (it’s in a different location, with better internet) it’s been my go-to game. This has sucked away time from Kingdom Hearts 3 and other titles I’ve been trying to finish, which is no small task.

Here’s what makes the game feel so great to me:

  • Balanced – Nobody feels too strong or too weak. I feel like I could jump in with any legend and do well.
  • Team Based Play – You always have teammates who can make up for skills you lack (at least in theory).
  • Quick – Matches never take longer than 30 minutes from my experience.
  • Kills – Nobody ever feels like they can soak a billion damage and you can actually get them. Looking at you Fortnight…
  • Movement & Map – The map is big but you can get around very easily.
  • Updates – Apex Legends receives pretty regular updates and it hasn’t been out long at all.
  • Ping System – Apex has the single best off-mic communication system in any game I’ve ever played. It is extensive and very useful. You can ping just about anything for any reason, and the game generally knows what you want to convey. It’s awesome!
  • FREE! – I really like that it is a free game because I’m poor.

That said, there are a couple of things I absolutely do not like. Some of these may need to change if EA wants this game to do well long-term:

  • Expensive! – Even though this is a free game, if you want to purchase cosmetics or unlock the legends, you are going to invest either a lot of time or money. I have about 10 hours in the game and still haven’t unlocked another legend. If I went the real money route, it’s faster, but you are paying through the nose for stuff.
  • No Punishment for Poor Sports – What I mean by this is you can’t report players who are rude, leave the game for no reason, etc… Apex doesn’t even have a leaver penalty. This really needs some kind of implementation because, I’ve had matches were another player obnoxiously pinged the map, screamed into the mic nearly the whole match, and have had players leave because they didn’t like you playing a certain legend.
  • Menus – It’s obviously designed for PC first, so some of the menu navigation doesn’t feel good. For example, moving equipment in the inventory is annoying because you can’t drag and drop things. This isn’t something I think they could easily fix, but it makes the game harder to play, for me at least.
  • Settings – I did not like the settings menu. There are a lot of options, but again, the navigation of the menu and getting things setup is not the best. For whatever reason, you can’t mute other players in-match either. You should be able to disable the mic at the very least.

Still, the positives far outweigh the negatives currently. The community is largely very kind and I’ve been having a lot of fun. I even win fairly regularly, and I am not very skilled when it comes to shooters, especially with a controller. The game rewards tactical play, and that’s something I excel at, so I appreciate the fact that it encourages that type of play.

I’m not going to go into any more depth on the game. This is just me saying it is awesome and that you should check it out. Even if you aren’t a big fan of BR games, or shooters in general, you may just find yourself enjoying Apex Legends. Given how the game has a solid roadmap for at least the next year, I think this one is here to stay. I really look forward to getting more games in and seeing how things change throughout the year as well!


Are you playing Apex Legends? Tell me your favorite part of the game in the comments. If you would like to support my writing, please click the donation button below. Of course, thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you back here at Jon Spencer Reviews again soon!