Time For Change – An Anime QandA Review for ‘YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World’ Episode 2
What’s the show? YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World, Episode 2.
And how’s this episode? As you may recall from my last episode review I was intrigued by the premise and execution of the show. I was, however, less than impressed with the perverted antics of our protagonist who himself felt like a relic from an earlier age of anime where these kinds of antics were excused as “boys will be boys” rather than being called out in such behaviour as he would in a modern anime.
Uh-huh, I recall… so what about it? Well the opening minutes of this episode has our protagonist discovering the function of the device his father left for him. It can manipulate timelines, allowing him to make an action then go back and make a different action resulting in a divergent timeline. And immediately I was worried about what kind of shenanigans he would get involved in considering he had a blank check for (further) sexually related consequence free mischief.
Oh no. Indeed, but turns out those fears were (for now) unjustified as he only uses it to attempt the rescue of his step-mother from the hands of thugs who are trying to get their hands on her father’s research papers. He first tries a diplomatic approach–fails. Changes timelines and tries a violent approach–fails. Changes timelines again with a borderline suicidal approach–and fails at which point one of his step mother’s colleagues shows up to “save the day” and the episode kind of ends on a weird tonally ambiguous cliffhanger.
Right. And is that all that happens in the episode? No, there’s some stuff early on that’s ~probably~ important but is more just half filler/half laying groundwork for future stuff. Compared to the first episode this one was kind of dull but likewise a bit more subdued and less ‘throwing everything at the screen to try and grab people’s attention’ which helps establish a more consistent tone and narrative pace–though at the pace we’re currently going I’m glad this is a 26 episode series as it’s going to need the time to get to what it wants to do (whatever that may be).
I see. Anything else you want to add? A lot of time in science-fiction, especially when discussing things as complicated as alternate universes’ and branching actions causing new realities–things can get bogged down in a lot of techno-babble. That’s why I appreciated this show’s straightforward visual approach to explaining and then demonstrating the specifics of this show’s alternate reality theories. It’s nothing particularly unique but it was easy to grasp the basics of after a single viewing.
And how’s your recommendation stand from last week? If you were put off by how ‘ecchi-adjacent’ some of the scenes were and the actions of the protagonist this episode tones things down considerably–that’s not to say it won’t return to last week’s ~shenanigans~ but for the time being the focus seems to be on the story and the characters.
Previous ‘YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World’ Reviews:
Blast From The Past – An Anime QandA Review for ‘YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World’ Episode 1
What’s the show? YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World, Episode 1.
Ah, first new show of the Spring 2019 anime season, huh? How was the first episode? It was good.
…Oh…kay then? Going to elaborate a little more on that 3-word review are we? I don’t know, I’m usually pretty sure about whether I’ll like something or not from the get-go but this is an odd one… I’m going to definitely need more episodes to even get an idea what kind of show it is.
Well what can you tell me about the series? It’s a bit ‘Steins;Gate’-ish, only with a more adolescent edge to it–our protagonist Takuya shares more than a few similarities with a ‘typical harem lead’ but I don’t think this show is trying to be that. It will be about relationships at some point but I hasten a guess that they’ll be peripheral fodder for light-hearted shenanigans where the focus will be on the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his father as well as the time travel and alternate universe gubbins that serves as this shows ‘hook’.
So it’s science fiction, mystery, comedy and romance? More or less, and in that order so far.
And what’s your biggest concern about the series? So a little background information, this series is based on a visual novel from 1996–that’s probably from before most of my readers were even born! And while I won’t say this anime in anyway feels dated, it does feel ~different~ to some modern anime in a way I can only attribute to the age of the source material. It’s not even something tangible or expressible just a feeling I had while watching this first episode. So it makes me wonder whether certain mid 90’s sensibilities are going to find their way into the script or whether it’s been ‘updated’ for modern audiences.
I’m not sure what you mean by “mid 90’s sensibilities”? I’m worried the show is going to have outdated gender stereotypes–you know the kind of casual sexism that you used to see all the time in 90’s media. And I’m mostly worried about that coming from our protagonist because as he is at the moment is walking a fine-line for me.
Oh? What’s he done wrong already in the space of a single episode? He makes sexual advances towards his teacher, he asks whether a grumpy classmate is experiencing “that time of the month” to explain her attitude, he’s implied to have had some sort of “relationship” with an ex-tutor and as a ‘joke’ he jumps out in his underwear at the new female transfer student. Not exactly a compelling case for a character I want to support for a longer running series.
But what’s so different about him compared to other harem or harem-adjacent anime? Compared to modern anime? Quite a bit, the ‘pervert’ archetype isn’t as common as it once was and is usually relegated to side characters. But even in the rare cases where a pervert character is the main protagonist (like in Maken-Ki) they are almost immediately verbally or physically rebuked for the conduct. Whereas here it’s shrugged off as ‘adolescent folly’ and ‘boys will be boys’–a mentality that may have been easy to get away with in 1996 but not in 2019!
Sounds like you’ve worked yourself up quite a bit from where we started with the “it was good” remark? This is what happens when you write off the top of your head right after finishing the episode (and don’t bother to edit because that would negate the conversational style of my reviews). But I still stand by the “it was good” remark because it was, all the characters are interesting if a little blandly designed, the soundtrack suited the action and the intrigue was thick throughout.
So who would you recommend ‘YU-NO: A Girl Who Chants Love At The Bound Of This World’ for? Fans of time-travel and parallel world anime like ‘Steins;Gate’ or even things like last year’s ‘ISLAND’ seem like logical comparisons. It is more immediately sexual that either of those two but likewise I don’t think this is going into ecchi territory if that’s what you’re worried about. There’s enough interesting going-ons and unanswered questions (like what’s going on with the cute, naked blonde girl!) to keep me watching even despite my reservations about the protagonist. If any of this has sounded interesting then I’d recommend giving it a watch!
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PERSONA 5 the Animation – Full Season QandA Rundown
What’s the important information? Persona 5: The Animation is a Spring 2018 anime that aired 26 episodes between April and September. It is based on the Persona 5 video game released by Atlus.
What’s it about? Ren Amamiya is a high school student, who, after being in the wrong place at the wrong time ends up on probation. He moves to Shibuya to start a new life under the roof of a family friend but soon finds himself caught up in something bigger and more important than he could possibly imagine. He has unlocked the supernatural power of ‘Personas’ and with it the ability to change the hearts of wrong-doers, with the help of his new friends they become the ‘Phantom Thieves of Hearts’ a group of vigilantes intent on saving innocents from those who abuse power. But things aren’t ever just that simple…
Why did you watch it? I played the Persona 5 game so naturally I’m going to see how much the stuff it up, uh, err, I mean faithfully adapt it for television…
Did you enjoy the show? For the most part, yes I did. It simultaneously made me fondly remember the best parts of the game (the story and the character development) while glossing over the infuriating parts of it (the back-tracking, the repetitive battles) while also wonder why it so faithfully adapted things that could have easily been cut for the sake of a more streamlined experience. Ultimately though it’s interesting and entertaining even for someone who’s played the game so that’s got to be a recommendation of sorts!
What was your favourite episode? With so many episodes and none of them specifically distinct the whole series kind of blends together into an amorphous blob but the most faithful episode (at least as far as I’m concerned) was the first beach episode (Episode 18) where Futaba starts coming out of her proverbial shell so I’ll pick that one!
What were your most favourite things about the show? Despite the fact that I played the game with English dubs but watched the show with original Japanese voices I still think they perfectly captured the essence of every character (with the exception perhaps being Ryuji who I still prefer in English). Also, unlike Persona 4 the Animation this series feels less like a video game adaptation and more its own thing—which for newcomers is a very important thing.
What were your least favourite things about the show? This show tries too hard to squeeze every little thing that was even ~vaguely~ significant about the game into the show which adds to the narrative bloat and ends up with a lot of pointless asides that while ostensibly ‘fan-service’ for players of the game fall flat for everyone else. Characters like Hifumi Togo the Shogi player and Chihaya Mifune the psychic are introduced and ~vaguely~ returned to, but never in the same substantial way that they are in the game so their inclusion feels like pointless padding in a show already stuffed to bursting.
Who was your favourite character? In the game it was Futaba, she was best girl—but without the adaptation of her romantic plot line the connection feels lost. The character who came across the best in this adaptation was surprisingly Sojiro, the surrogate father figure to our protagonist and all around good guy—bet you didn’t expect me to pick an old dude over a waifu!
Thoughts on the OP (opening) and ED (ending) and the soundtrack in general? Not to keep referencing the game too much but its soundtrack was a definite highlight and thankfully most of it remains for the adaptation, the various OP’s and ED’s are all sung by Lyn as they were in the game but in serving as OP’s and ED’s they draw ~more~ attention to themselves and thus highlight the quality of the soundtrack overall.
What’s something unique about this show? It seems weird to say but the fact that we got 26 episodes of a video game adaptation and we’re still not done with the completed adaptation! Yes, that’s right, a ‘special’ episode will air in late 2018 to wrap up the story proper! Maybe this isn’t especially unique but it kind of felt like it for me!
What other anime are most like it for the sake of comparison? It should go without saying that it’s somewhat similar to Persona 4 but this show carries more style and panache than that show ever could muster. There have been plenty of shows throughout the years that focus on the struggle between oppressed and oppressor but none have felt more nascent and timely than Persona 5.
Who would you recommend it to? If you’ve played the game, then obviously this series comes recommended. Just don’t expect a 1:1 retelling of events nor anything that expands upon the universe. If you haven’t played the game the series is still worth watching for those interested in a compelling drama with interesting and charismatic characters.
Sum up the season in one sentence: ‘Social Justice Warriors; the anime!’
What’s the important information? ‘ISLAND’ is a Summer 2018 anime that aired for 12 episodes from July through September. It is based on a Visual Novel game developed by Front Wing.
What’s it about? A man washes up on a beach with no memories of his own other than his name, Setsuna, and the mission in his heart—that he has to save a girl. Quickly he encounters three very different girls, each with their own unique problems, Rinne, Karen and Sara. Romance, time-travel and shenanigans ensue as Setsuna attempts to help these girls, while figuring out his own identity and the mysteries of the exclusionary and superstitious Island they call home.
Why did you watch it? Aside from the obvious that the anime’s poster featured three distinctive and incredibly cute looking girls the series is based on a visual novel and for better or worse visual novel adaptations are a unique beast—more difficult to adapt and therefore more prone to artistic license but also less beholden to genre stereotypes than manga.
Did you enjoy the show? From the get-go the show intrigued, enthralled and entertained me and didn’t relent for a moment. To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement as it was the series I looked forward to the most every week during the Summer 2018 season!
What were your most favourite things about the show? Aside from our female cast of characters; who are all pretty much perfection, the effortless blend of mystery and romance consistently made the show alluring.
Wbat were your least favourite things about the show? It might seem like a cop-out to say so but the fact that there weren’t more episodes was a detriment. Never to the point where I felt like I was missing out anything essential but rather that the experience could have been enriched further with a longer overall running time.
Who was your favourite character? As mentioned in my list of 10 Best Summer 2018 Waifu’s, Rinne was my best girl, though it was a close race as both Sara and Karen have more than enough superb qualities to be just as eligible. Ultimately though, it was aesthetically Rinne who won out over the others.
What’s something unique about this show? This is absolutely a spoiler so consider yourself warned for this question, but Episode 10’s end credits delivered to us a sex scene between future Rinne and Setsuna that was both unexpected but inevitably essential to the plot—the fact that they showed it at all (albeit subtly and with ample shadows) was the thing that stuck out as utterly unique—even among visual novel adaptations.
What other anime are most like it for the sake of comparison? While I’m sure there are undoubtedly anime that at least tonally resemble ‘ISLAND’ I personally haven’t seen an anime series like it. However, with regard to live-action US television series’ I feel it at least shares a passing resemblance to shows like ‘Lost’ and ‘Twin Peaks’ at least with regard to an adherence to mystery and ~feeling~ rather than things like concrete narrative cohesion and a reliance on over-explaining the more fanciful elements of the series.
Who would you recommend it to? For those who don’t need everything spelled out in explicit detail and can just kinda ‘go with the flow’ and appreciate a story being told the way it needs to be told, ‘ISLAND’ is ideal. Also for people who aren’t deterred by loli character designs and intermittent but no less obvious fan-service moments too.
Sum up the season in one sentence: ‘This Island holds many mysteries but none greater than those of the heart.’
His and Hers Story Repeats – An Anime QandA Review for ‘ISLAND’ Episode 12
What’s the show? ISLAND, Episode 12.
So here we are, we’ve reached the end, the season finale of ISLAND! This is true, it’s been a long and emotional journey but we’re finally here and there’s always that bittersweet feeling about a series finale—especially one for a show I’ve enjoyed this much.
Well no point beating ‘round the bush, what happens in this episode? Well as teased last week, it turns out that Rinne’s shut-in mother Kuon is actually future Rinne from the ‘NEVER ISLAND’ arc. Which, after reading a journal from current Rinne’s ‘father’ we learn that future Rinne washed up on the beach without memories—much like Setsuna and not only that she was pregnant with Setsuna’s child (after the sex they had at the end of Episode 10).
Wait, does that mean… Yep! Setsuna is current Rinne’s father! Good thing they never went further than kissing, eh?
Yikes! That’s a tough revelation, how does current Rinne handle that? Not well initially, and that’s completely understandable—I mean she’s fallen for the guy and now he’s telling her that he’s her father that’s an incestuous pill to swallow.
For sure, what else do we learn? Okay, so this bits a little bit more complicated and kind of explained in a single-scene despite its rather impactful ramifications but basically time-travel doesn’t exist, least not backwards time-travel. I guess in a way that helps rule out pesky things like paradoxes and there being two of a person in any one time. What’s actually happening is that time itself is looping infinitely, from the stone-age to the period of time presumably around the new ice age that envelops the Earth and the last remnants of humanity living on the Island as seen in the ‘NEVER ISLAND’ arc. And so when Setsuna or anyone else enters the stasis pods they simply are in stasis for another lap of human history and wake-up roughly when they intend to. So everything that happened in the previous episodes still happened and time wasn’t changed via time travel it’s just that history repeats itself just with the people who enter stasis having the knowledge of their previous go around of history.
That’s kinda confusing but kinda interesting? It’s way more interesting than the show gives it time to dwell on—but that’s kinda the point, much like how Darling in the FranXX was more about teenage angst and relationships than it was about robots, ISLAND is more about a fated couple throughout history trying to find the ‘right time’ to be together but missing out on a happy life for various reasons.
And do they? Have a happy life that is. So Setsuna finally confronts Kuon—having to smash down her door to get her to acknowledge him but she doesn’t want to turn around and face him. She knows her daughter is in love with him and doesn’t want to get in the way of her happiness. Thankfully current Rinne has had some time to think about her life and has the maturity and clarity of thought to be appreciative of the happiness both her mother and Setsuna have given to her, and wants to be able to return that happiness by letting Setsuna and Kuon be together. And so Kuon and Setsuna kiss, just like they did before and then they get married and it’s so sweet and pure and I was crying and I love this show and this episode was pretty much exactly what I wanted it to be!
Oh you ol’ softy! I thought you didn’t go in for all this romantic ~stuff~? Yeah, normally I don’t but kudos to this show for finding a way to not only make a courtship across history interesting and dynamic and exciting and dramatic but also really sweet!
So overall thoughts? Well I won’t give my overall thoughts on the series itself—that much remains for my ‘QandA Rundown’, which will appear some time soon on the site. But as for how this fares as a final episode, I loved it—sure it’s not nearly as detailed and long as it could have been but it hit all the right emotional beats and delivered a satisfying conclusion for all involved while still leaving things open-ended enough to leave ~some~ details to your imagination.
A Fling Of The Past – An Anime QandA Review for ‘ISLAND’ Episode 11
What’s the show? ISLAND, Episode 11.
So what happens in this, the penultimate episode? Well we’re back to it being regular old ‘ISLAND’ instead of ‘NEVER ISLAND’ as it was the previous two episodes and man, I didn’t realise how much I missed the sun-drenched sandy beaches of Urashima. But you know what, as the familiar opening credits rolled nervousness—borderline anxiety brewed inside me.
Why’s that? Because I realised—and I don’t know why it’d taken me a week to get to this thought but I’m glad I did otherwise I’d have been obsessing over it all week—I realised that everything that had come previous to this episode was almost voided by the fact that ~actual~ time travel had just occurred, and it’s a scary thought as a viewer to know that all the character development that’d come before was almost completely negated.
I guess that’s true, does that sour the experience with you then? Ah! But see that’s where this show is smarter than I perhaps gave it credit for, or if not smarter than at least more savvy and sensitive. So my biggest, initial fear was that they’d undo all the good Setsuna did for Karen and Sara’s lives and he’d just beeline for helping Rinne out. Thankfully, he still prioritises helping them through their troubles again, he in fact arguably does a better job of it—at least in Karen’s case, Sara’s is borderline.
So it’s not like just a rehash of the first few episodes in a condensed format. Indeed, and that was my second fear, that they’d just reuse old footage and kind of montage through their story arcs, but aside from establishing shots I don’t think any of what we saw was old footage! Again, me probably giving this show less credit than it deserved for delivering the goods.
And so what actually happens then? Well Setsuna wakes up on the beach—like in the first episode—but with the clarity of memory from when he left the future and this imbues him with a confidence and sense of purpose and swagger and there’s no skirting around the ‘why’ of him being here—he lays it all out to everyone he meets, that he’s from the future and he’s here to help. He goes about predicting things before they happen and telling people what they’re thinking because he has all this information from his past life here. If you’ve ever seen the classic 1993 comedy ‘Groundhog Day’ then you’ll feel a familiarity with these scenes, and that’s absolutely a good thing!
So what’s different about how he helps Karen and Sara compared to the first time? In Episode 4 we had what would be considered the adaptation of Karen’s ‘route’ from the visual novel (presumably, I haven’t played it yet). And rather than Setsuna returning to the mainland with Karen and being there for her to learn about her mother’s death, he lets her three school friends fill his emotional support role, and it’s a seemingly minor but important difference. Because firstly it means Karen doesn’t get too emotionally attached to Setsuna, he’s more of a caring friend or big brother now than a love interest and two it gives a substantial narrative purpose for these school friends to have. Also, sharing sad news with people you’ve known for a long time can be much more cathartic than with a relative stranger.
What about Sara’s, you said hers was “borderline” what did you mean by that? Episode 5 was an emotional one for Sara as she learnt about the true nature of her family and of the prophecy that she would die before turning 18 that she was convinced would come to pass. I think we’re led to believe that Setsuna more or less talks her out of this thinking, his superior knowledge of the future winning her over—and her ending now is more to do with her being able to just “be herself” rather than be beholden too strictly to traditions. I think more time devoted to this part would have been nice, but as it stands its good enough.
And finally Rinne, how does he ‘save’ her from the hands of fate? It’s not too dissimilar to how it transpired in the previous pre-NEVER ISLAND episodes, just Setsuna handles things with a bit more sensitivity and the added knowledge of what ‘revelations’ await on the second island assist too. And she starts falling for him—unfortunately this Setsuna is already in love with the Rinne from the future who he had to leave behind and there’s kind of something tragic about that.
But where does that leave this story? Oh, you think things are going to be that simple? ISLAND has a twist up its sleeve and delivers it perfectly right at the end of the episode! Big ol’ spoilers, but then again if you’re reading this far and are worried about those I think you’ve come too far anyway. But turns out that Rinne’s reclusive mother Kuon is working on a time-machine of her own in her room—and the ring on her finger in an old photograph that Setsuna discovers suggests that Kuon is actually future Rinne who came back in time to give birth to current Rinne and *mind implodes*
Wow, okay. That sure is some time travel shenanigans! So thoughts overall? I was so impressed with how this second-to-last episode was handled, maybe my trepidations tempered my expectations but regardless of the reason I’m very happy with what we’ve got and can’t wait for the finale to come!
Rinne and Repeat – An Anime QandA Review for ‘ISLAND’ Episode 10
What’s the show? ISLAND, Episode 10.
So, last week was a bit of a game-changer for ISLAND, was it not? That’s an understatement. The fact is it almost became a completely different show, even bothering to title itself ‘NEVER ISLAND’—as it continues to do this week.
So what happens in this episode then? Oh you know, church conspiracies, mass-child murder, the death of two main characters and then an actual sex scene between our protagonists, you know just causal run-of-the-mill stuff like that.
…You’re gonna need to explain each one of those things individually because, uh… that’s a lot to take in! That’s what Rinne said! (probably)
*sigh* So I take it Rinne and Setsuna are the one’s who had sex? Yes! And it was unexpected and actually kind of sexy…even though it was very fleeting, but that happened during the end credits so we’ll get to that in a bit!
Look how excited he is! Like a kid at Christmas! I can’t help it!
Okay, so let’s deal with the less exciting things like, ahem, “mass child-murder” jeez, I’m getting tonal whiplash here! Hey, I had to watch the damn thing. So basically all the ‘untagged’ children (all the orphans Karen were looking after) a straight up murdered by the church that controls the ‘island’ then Sara’s father the cardinal is murdered mid-sermon and Sara is framed for the murder. Mob mentality kicks in and the people of the town tie Sara, Karen and Setsuna to a pyre and decide to burn them alive (after some instigating words from the evil archbishop).
Well jeez that escalated damn quickly! Thankfully Rinne (who’d stayed at home to work on her mysterious project) comes to save the day, scaring off the townsfolk with fireworks, pretending they are terrorist bombs and puts out the pyre with a nearby fire hydrant. The four of them then escape the main ‘island’ and head for the cave on the second island where Rinne and Setsuna originally found all the technology back in the past.
So things are okay now? Well no, Sara caught a bullet in the leg during an earlier confrontation with the church’s armed guards and while pretended it was just a graze was in-fact bleeding out the whole time and so she straight up dies! Then some days after getting to the cave Karen contracts ‘Soot-Blight Syndrome’ and while carrying her back to the main island to seek medical help she dies too!
Wow. I can’t say I expected that, how were these deaths handled? Sara’s death was sudden and kind of shocking so it didn’t really have the time to resonate, whereas Karen’s death was pretty devastating. Setsuna carries her the whole way there on his back, they share some sweet words to each other, her commenting how nice it is to be held against such a broad and comforting back, then they arrive at the clinic only for the doctor to look at Karen—still draped over his back—and say there’s nothing he can do because she’s already dead. Yep, I cried!
Another main character death so quickly, isn’t that a bit fast after the first? I suppose we might as well talk about the pacing of the episode now as that’ll undoubtedly be an issue for some. Yes a lot happens in the space of this 24 minute episode, enough to fill three episodes easily—this is a comment I’ve made on previous episodes too, after all this is what happens when you adapt a 50+ hour visual novel into a mere 12 episodes! However, why it works here is because giving more time to these events would make that time spent felt wasted as ultimately these character aren’t (presumably) going to be dead for much longer because of the inevitable time-travel shenanigans! If we’d spent multiple episodes getting to know these character variants then episodes watching them die and grieving for them, when all that was reversed it would feel kinda pointless, at least in the grand scheme of things. I’m talking big picture here.
Yeah I suppose I get what you’re saying. So what about Rinne and Setsuna, how do they come out of all this? Oh they ‘come’ all right!
Ugh, I guess I walked right into that one… so how do they end up together in the marital way? I know you meant that as a polite way to say have sex but funnily enough they do end up getting married which is kinda quaint and cute in it’s own way. Not in any official capacity obviously as they are wanted fugitives but Setsuna makes a pair of wedding rings while Rinne finishes building the time machine they’re about to use to send him back in time to fix this whole shitty timeline, and being that they love each other and they’re married Rinne and Setsuna have sex. Heavily shadowed sex that emphasises silhouettes and shapes and arching of the back—it’s probably the most tasteful anime sex-scene I’ve ever scene, also completely unexpected but in all the right ways. Though it was a bit short for my liking—kinda hoping that Setsuna and OG Rinne get it on in the past/present too but I’m not holding my breath…
So your overall thoughts on the episode? Maybe this read like a lot of nonsense, maybe this made you think this show is rushed, overwrought nonsense. Maybe you dropped the show and you’re now curious about it, or maybe you just don’t care. Ultimately, I do care a great deal for these characters and this show, yes, I wish it was longer (that’s hopefully not what Rinne said) but as it is, I adore how committed this show is to delivering an ‘experience’. For some it doesn’t work but for me it’s exactly what I want. Only two episodes left now and I’m no longer worried about how they’ll fit it all in, I’m just starting to prematurely grieve its end.
Edit: The AT-X (premium Japanese cable) version aired with a “less censored” version of the end credit sex-scene, basically just less shadows so you can see what’s happening a lot better.
Long Time No Sea – An Anime QandA Review for ‘ISLAND’ Episode 9
What’s the show? ISLAND, Episode 9.
So last week ended on a interesting kind of cliffhanger, didn’t it? Yes, Setsuna stepping into a time machine (more accurately a stasis-device) with the intent of travelling to the future to find the inventor of said machine and somehow rescuing Rinne in the process.
And so where does Setsuna end up? Well, the future obviously! Specifically a dystopian future where the Island is the only inhabited place left on earth—protected for (presumably) centuries by a dome from the frozen wasteland that rages outside. A religious based government has complete control over the citizens, rationing out food to only ‘approved’ citizens while those who aren’t approved (or “untagged” as the show calls it) have to fight for survival against a system that oppresses and murders any children that are born without “approval” or who are orphans.
…Okay, that’s certainly a stylistically dramatic difference to what’s come before— Absolutely. Gone are the bright summery beach scenes and laid back small town aesthetics, instead replaced with Soviet Russia-esque oppression and the bleak winter of a world frozen to the brink of extinction.
Hardly seems like it’s ‘Island’ anymore. And the show knows it! Not only does the opening and closing credits change to something suitably dark, but the show’s name is changed to ‘NEVER ISLAND’. Which… okay not the best choices of titles but it’s still a pretty impactful thing to see and truly makes the statement loud and clear that the game has changed!
And what about our characters? Well it seems spending so much time in stasis has sort of reset Setsuna’s mind to how it was in the very first episode—albeit with the added urgency of his oppressive new life. He still knows he has to save a girl and presumes that girl is Rinne, who in this time is something of a quirky inventor girl, which is a good look on her! Karen is the leader of the group of tag-less orphans who live far underground and she’s even more spunky and even more tsun then before. Plus she’s sexually active (I think the little girl Anne is her daughter?) she even goes about trying to seduce Setsuna in ridiculously skimpy lingerie—but more on that later!
Please, less on that later. Sure sure, also I’d say the ~biggest~ change, is Sara who’s chest has finally matched the size of her hair (that is to say, big) and she’s the daughter of the head of the religious organisation that controls the island.
That’s… certainly a lot to unpack. And I haven’t even got to the actual ~plot~ of the episode that’s just the setting and the characters, granted it helps knowing more or less who these characters are intrinsically but so much happens that it’s absolutely a disservice to try and explain it all.
Did you want to speed-run it? Sure. So basically church-government is bad, doing bad things to innocent people, Sara wants to help the homeless starving orphans because she’s a good person, Karen wants to bring down the church-government to help her people, Rinne wants to save the island and thus humanity in the process and Setsuna wants to help them all. A lot happens in this episode but it’s mostly set-up and I’m not sure how many episode we’re going to spend in the ‘Never Island’ version of this show, but it’ll at least be one-more since this episode ends without a resolution.
And what’s your opinion on this change? I think it’s great, I honestly love that the show’s taken this direction for the story and committed to it so whole-heartedly. It’s just the same problem I had last week and more or less every week the more I think about it—this show needs to be longer! I’m at least glad this current ‘arc’ is going to be more than one episode, but assuming this series is going to be 12/13 episodes (which hasn’t actually been confirmed but is a strong assumption) I am worried that the resolution will be unsatisfying. That aside though I love this episode—even if best girl Rinne’s outfit isn’t quite as cute as her previous one.
Got your priorities in order I see… Hey, at least I didn’t spend the review talking about Sara’s lingerie!
An Ocean Between Us – An Anime QandA Review for ‘ISLAND’ Episode 8
What’s the show? ISLAND, Episode 8.
So what happens in this episode? Phew… honestly, it’s kind of exhausting how much happens in this episode, not that that hasn’t been the case in a few previous episodes but what’s different here is the sheer amount of forward momentum the plot is given to the point where I’m wondering if ~maybe~… actually no, forget about it, I’m not going to tell this anime how to do it’s thing.
Well now you’re pretty much obligated to say what you were going to say since you’ve drawn so much attention to it… Okay, fine. So this anime is based on a Visual Novel, great, love it, Visual Novel Adaptations make for some of the most “interesting” anime’s for better or worse. But the Island visual novel (according to sources) is 30-50~ hours long! This anime is 12, 20 something minute episodes! See the problem? And just so you’re all aware, I’ve never played a visual novel so my experience with them is nil, likewise I don’t like comparing anything to the source material—especially a source material I haven’t played/read. But when the adaptation feels strained to contain all the plot elements and feels rushed to the point of bloat, you have to wonder if ~maybe~ a different adaptation approach should have been considered.
By which you mean? Rather simply, more episodes. I’m not saying things need to be 1:1 adaptations in order to be satisfying. A clever writer can work around a run-time limitation to deliver the goods; The Fruit of Grisaia and The Eden of Grisaia animes are more than proof of that (again haven’t played/read the visual novel of that so only going off how fulfilling the anime version is). But here, with Island, we’re given an absolute information overload, not to mention enough character development and rock solid ~feels~ to power 3 episodes at least.
Care to elaborate? Okay, I’m going to rush through it though, so spoiler warning for this paragraph. Rinne and Setsuna return to the deserted island where Rinne and original Setsuna spent a time stranded 5 years ago, Setsuna discovers an ancient technology in a cave along with original Setsuna’s dead and decayed body his diary reveals that he found a device of exceedingly futuristic design and he put Rinne in it to save her. Having gotten this closure Rinne and Setsuna frolic on the island for a couple of days while a cloying sweet duet plays over their cutesy love montage. They then endeavour to leave the deserted island only to be struck by a storm. Setsuna awakes to find that Rinne died at sea trying to get home and he cops the blame from Rinne’s mourning mother Kuon. Setsuna is obviously distraught, having lost the love of his life but Kuon has a plan and so with the help of Karen’s mother’s research assistant (the spunky redhead we met briefly in Episode 4—I can’t remember her name and I’m too lazy to check) they go to her laboratory on the mainland and voila—it’s the high-tech machine from original Setsuna’s flashback. Turns out the machine is a stasis pod that halts any aging for whoever is in the pod while time moves normally outside, allowing the occupant to move essentially travel through time! Setsuna gladly volunteers to enter it with the intention to find Rinne (somehow) and bring her back (again, somehow).
…Okay then. That’s quite a lot to digest! Exactly as I was saying, it’s all terribly interesting and emotional stuff, Setsuna’s grief is palpable—especially after the sweet time he and Rinne spent re-connecting on the deserted island. The way they tie the stasis machine (it’s basically like the cryogenic chambers from Futurama) into the mystical and historical elements of the Island’s folklore is genuinely interesting. But having all this squeezed into 20ish minutes (and the episode knows it’s too much as it forgoes both OP and ED to fit it all in) just ends up making a lot of it feel short-changed. Like I can’t help but imagine how much more devastating it would have been to have spent an entire episode on the deserted island only for the episode to end with the revelation of Rinne’s death. Then spend an episode on the aftermath of that with the wake and him coming to terms to his place in this world and more scenes with Kuon and Karen and Sara. And then have a third episode dedicated to returning to the mainland and learning about the machine and go into more depth about how exactly Setsuna intends to save Rinne from the future… or the past… or whatever he’s going to end up doing!
And you weren’t going to talk about how you would improve this show… as if you could resist! You joke, but I kinda hate doing this! It’s arrogant of me to think I know how to write a better adaptation of a source material I haven’t even read/played! But at the same time I kinda adore this show—especially its characters and the overall ~mood~ of the series so it pains me to see it fall into the kind of adaptive traps that come with condensing so much material into so little run-time.
But other than that, great episode? Haha… yeah, yeah. Pretty much, I often say I’m only ever overly critical of things that I love because I spend more time thinking about them and thus more time wanting them to be perfect… I’ll stop now because this review is getting long, but I’d love to hear what other people thought about this particular episode! Leave a comment below with your thoughts!