Searching For Meaning – ‘AFTERLOST’ Episode 1 Review

Searching For Meaning – An Anime QandA Review for ‘AFTERLOST’ Episode 1


What’s the show? AFTERLOST, Episode 1.

Oh, this is the show you said you felt ‘obliged‘ to watch because of how many times you happened to see the trailer for it while staying in Akihabara in February, yeah? Yep, that’s the one!

This bike is practically a third main character it’s in nearly the whole episode!

And what’s it about? The first episode kinda throws us in the deep end with no establishing narration to give us an idea on what happened and let’s us just take in this world through bits of dialogue and newspaper clippings on a wall. Basically a catastrophic event occurred in downtown Shibuya (they never say it’s Shibuya, but it totally is) where basically a void of nothingness in a circular radius ‘appeared’ and hundreds of thousands of people just disappeared. It’s some years after this event and the void is still there, the event and the area is referred to as ‘Lost’ and no one can approach it. Also there was a single survivor of the disaster, Yuki. She was being held in a heavily guarded lab and experimented on until a “courier” by the name of Takuya breaks her out on behalf of ‘the agency’. They intend to travel to ‘Lost’ because of an encrypted message that came from the void suggesting that Yuki’s father may be alive despite disappearing in the disaster.

Visually reminiscent of ‘Caligula’ anime, not a great thing to be remembering if I’m honest…

Okay, so what genre is it? Wikipedia says it’s a ‘thriller’, MAL unhelpfully says it’s a ‘action, adventure, mystery, drama, fantasy’ and I mean I guess they’re all correct. This episode kind of has a little bit of everything and as a result it kind of works and kind of doesn’t. The thing that works best about it is it’s ‘mystery’ aspect as it is very mysterious. A lot of explanation is intentionally left out and as long as you’re willing to go along for the ride it can be quite enjoyable. It’s also a bit silly too… with the kind of Michael Bay implausible action scenes that are more laughable than they are exciting–but at the very least they’re well animated.

Trust me when I say, it gets sillier than outrunning an explosion on a scooter.

Seems like the show’s in an early stage of finding its feet, how would you go about recommending this to someone? There’s some obvious comparisons to be made between it and shows like ‘Ergo Proxy’ and ‘Tokyo Ghoul’ and ‘Steins;Gate’ but that’s more to say those shows probably inspired individual elements of the story rather than the overall experience. It’s an interesting starting point but that’s just it, with so much going on and introducing so many side characters all at once (the only side character who stuck in my mind was the aptly named ‘Geek’ who shared more than a few similarities with Daru from Steins;Gate) it’s hard to get a concrete idea of what this show wants to be and even if it’s going to be good. At the very least it’s going to be well made (thanks to studio Madhouse) and well voice-acted (main girl Yuki is voiced by Kana Hanazawa). I’d say I’ll have more of a definitive opinion of the show in 2 or 3 more episodes but I’m still interested to see where it will go.

Yuki is very cute.

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Broken Promises – ‘The Promised Neverland’ First Season Review

Broken Promises – A Full Season Review for ‘The Promised Neverland’


What’s the show? The Promised Neverland.

And what’s it about? A group of orphans live in a massive orphanage in the middle of a forest and are looked after by a woman known as “mama”, while there’s the occasional mandatory intelligence test the majority of their days are spent having fun and playing together. Every few months one child leaves the house under the pretence of adoption and is never seen from or heard again. (Spoilers for episode 1 incoming) One particular “adoption” takes place with a young girl Conny leaving the house, accidentally she leaves one of her favourite toys so Emma and Norman–two of our protagonists hurry to bring it to her before she leaves. There they are confronted by a terrifying truth, as they witness the dead body of Conny in a wagon and a monster-like creature seemingly responsible. They hurry back to the orphanage, shaken by what they have seen but resolved to break out and take all the kids with them.

Emma’s seen some shit.

Sounds interesting. Sure, it’s an interesting concept one that has a lot of potential but I feel like its potential that’s squandered by leaps in logic and plotting, tonal issues and an overall inconsistent execution.

So that’s the one-sentence spoiler-free version, I take it you’re going to elaborate and get into spoiler territory from here on out? Yes. Firstly, I was willing to suspend my disbelief that our main characters were capable of such elaborate planning— their geniuses after all so that much I could reconcile. But by episode 12 it’s revealed that some of the younger kids, including Phil who is 4 years old were not only participating in an elaborate escape plan, managing to keep it secret and be trusted with keeping it a secret with little to no evidence that their beloved “mama” was the evil manipulator they sold her as. Credit to the final episode, they surrounded this revelation with plenty of other reveals that it was easy to gloss over it on a single viewing but thinking about it after the fact shows just how many holes this plot point has.


But that’s just one part of one episode (albeit a pivotal one) what about the “inconsistent execution” you spoke of? I’d argue that there was enough material for ~maybe~ 6 episodes tops. Whereas it’s stretched out to 12 here, maybe manga readers will argue that everything we saw was necessary for things later on but every episode felt it was 5 minutes of interesting stuff at the start and 5 minutes of interesting stuff at the end with 10 minutes of padding between.

Gives new meaning to ‘watching the clock’.

And the “tonal issues”? The show made an impact with its “powerful” first episode but ever since felt like it was tip-toeing around returning to the dark promise it first offered. And a part of that comes from the lack of scenes exploring the world outside the orphanage. Yes that’s certainly to come now that the kids have escaped but that’s too little, too late for me as I won’t be watching the second season. They had ample opportunity to give more of a glimpse of the outside world but instead wasted literal hours of run time on long winded, unimportant scenes inside the orphanage.

Our protagonists: Ray, Emma and Norman.

Well that’s certainly a lot of complaints. What did you actually ~enjoy~ about the series? Visually the series is attention grabbing, and all the voice actors are expectedly high quality—especially Emma who wrings a lot of emotion out of her scenes. And as I said at the top of the review, the idea is compelling I just think it’s not well executed.

Mama’s story was pretty good, but again all left to episode 12.

Right then, so final review and recommendation for ‘The Promised Neverland’? I’m probably the last person you should be looking for a recommendation from because the majority of people really loved this series from beginning to end—and chances are you will too. For me though there were too many things I had issue with to say I “enjoyed” the experience. Promises undelivered: 65 out of 100.

Happier times.

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Traitor Trouble – ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 4 Review

Traitor Trouble – An Anime QandA Review for ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 4


What’s the show? The Promised Neverland, Episode 4.

How’s this episode? I feel like this show is very manipulative in how it constructs its narrative episode-to-episode. Like for the majority of this episode I was just sitting, kinda bored as the sounds and images washed over me and I failed to care about much of anything. Then the show goes and pulls the rug out from under me by delivering an ~actually~ interesting reveal in its final minutes that had me sitting up and paying attention. (And I feel like it’s done that in previous episodes too…)


Spoilers? Well obviously. Turns out that in their search for a “traitor” in their midst, it was neither of the two characters the show ~wanted~ us to expect (them being Don and Gilda) but Ray, one of our original three! I didn’t see it coming and yet, thinking about it logically it totally makes sense–so kudos to the show for delivering something compelling. Too bad it was preceded by mostly unnecessary treading of water that comprises the majority of this anime.


You really have it in for this show, don’t you? Seems like you want the abridged version rather than the full story. I resent that comment. I’m just telling it like it is, and what I find interesting is everything other than this show wants to show us. I think this show is terribly paced and doesn’t deliver nearly enough content per episode to justify it. And maybe this pace would work if I could buy this story as belonging to the ‘horror’ genre, but just having a bunch of intimidating adults make grotesque close-up faces to our protagonists in intimidating them doesn’t really cut it for me. Nor does agonisingly boring first-person shots of someone slowly walking up some stairs and opening a door followed by ~zero~ pay-off. But I get it, ‘horror’ as a genre, is just as much subjective as ‘comedy’ is–you can’t quantify or gauge a person’s reaction to perceived ‘horror’ and articulate its effectiveness to the next person. Either it scares you or it doesn’t. And this doesn’t–quite frankly it bores me and if it weren’t for the teases of the outside world provided in brief moments in previous episode I would be wholly uninterested in continuing with this story.

I know this is supposed to come off as endearing but it felt quite patronising.

But you will continue? No? I will. I like Emma (even though I don’t like the way the show seems to think she’s weak for having empathy) and I’m interested in expanding the core cast away from Emma, Norman and Ray with beefier parts for Gilda and Don–assuming they aren’t again sidelined in future episodes.

Gilda best girl.

Previous ‘The Promised Neverland’ Reviews:

Growing Up Is Hard – Episode 1 Review
The Promise Of What’s Out There – Episode 2 Review
Curiosity Killed The Suspense – Episode 3 Review

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Curiosity Killed The Suspense – ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 3 Review

Curiosity Killed The Suspense – An Anime QandA Review for ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 3


What’s the show? The Promised Neverland, Episode 3.

So how’s this episode? This is going to be a shorter review because I’ve not got much to say and I’ve got better things to do than talk about this show–like sleep.

Ouch, roasted! I’m just relaying my thoughts the same way other people do–albeit with a lot more ~sass~ because apparently I’m like that.

Apparently. So what, this episode was no good? I feel like I wasted 20 minutes of my life watching this.

Not holding my breath any longer! Rant incoming!

So there was nothing redeemable about it? I said I “wasted 20 minutes” not 25, so clearly 5 minutes were worthwhile.

Okay, so while we’re on the negative what was so bad about the 20 minutes that were “wasted”. For large swathes of this episode I was incontestably bored. I don’t care about what’s motivating the new ‘adult’ character Miss Krone (haha subtle…), I don’t care about where Emma and the others think the tracking chip is located and I absolutely don’t care about training up the other kids to escape by playing tag. This felt like an episode that was doing absolutely everything other than providing a compelling narrative experience by spinning its wheels at the starting gate. We should be heading into the Abyss by now not still having interminably endless dialogue scenes where children theorise and conjecture in dimly lit rooms–THIS IS NOT ENTERTAINING.

Derp, don’t care.

I’ll note that you capitalised “Abyss” in that last sentence and presume it wasn’t a typo. That’s me just reminding myself (and my readers I guess) that ‘Made In Abyss’ exists and is a similar sort of story but is like seventy-three times better than this series. But that’s a subject for another day…

Okay, sure.

Right. So I take it you have a ~fix~ for this series. You seem awfully insistent that the show is at fault rather than the concept behind it. The narrative is interesting, the setting is interesting, the characters are interesting. The execution is clumsy and dull and uninteresting. Despite me knowing absolutely zero about this series I am 100% sure these kids (not sure how many but probably the main three at least) will escape. My increasing worry is that this won’t happen ‘til Episode 12 and having a pay-off that I already predicted in Episode 1 is irritating. Here, I’ll fix the show–instead of having Episode 1 (and subsequent episodes) take place entirely at the Orphanage have the series set after the kids escaped already. Then throughout each episode cut between the drama of their escape mixed with the drama of them planning their escape in flashbacks. Tie in important revelations to relevant things that come out of their time outside. It’s double the drama without too much of a hit to the narrative substance! Doesn’t that sound more interesting? But instead we’re treated to this ultra-extended prologue to an escape which is neither tense nor satisfying.

Imagine how much more effective this scene would have been if we’d spent, oh I don’t know, let’s say 3 episodes with other kids from the orphanage in the “outside” world during their escape and then we learn that one of them is a traitor? But that’d be a better show, so nevermind…

I thought you said this was going to be a “short” review… I’ll do what I can, dammit!

So not a fan then? Overall thoughts? I’ll reiterate a point I made in a previous review and double down on it–this show is curious but not compelling. I’m curious about what will happen after the kids escape, I’m curious about the world outside the orphanage but being constrained inside these walls is not the least bit compelling. I’ll keep watching in the hope of the ‘compelling’ outweighing the ‘curiosity’.

More of this insanity, please.

Previous ‘The Promised Neverland’ Reviews:

Growing Up Is Hard – Episode 1 Review
The Promise Of What’s Out There – Episode 2 Review

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The Promise Of What’s Out There – ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 2 Review

The Promise Of What’s Out There – An Anime QandA Review for ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 2


What’s the show? The Promised Neverland, Episode 2.

So how’s this episode? I don’t know, I’ve kind of got the same complaints I had last week about the show. It’s not really doing anything particularly interesting or original or compelling and so as it is I’m just playing a waiting game until it does do something worthwhile.

That’s an odd way to watch a show, shouldn’t you just drop it if it doesn’t interest you? I could but I still want to see where this story goes, just because it’s not ~actively~ doing anything of note doesn’t mean the premise isn’t at the very least intriguing. Besides I’ve watched far worse shows for less interesting reasons so I really don’t see me dropping this.

You smile, you lose.

Right. So we have to listen to you moan about the show not being “interesting” for 10 more reviews instead? Not necessarily, the show might find itself in ‘Watched But Not Reviewed’ territory by next week unless I find something worth talking about.

Okay, so do you at least want to feign interest by recapping the events of the episode? Emma and Norman go to investigate the forest for a way out and they find a massive concrete wall that’s as tall as it is thick. Afterward they come to the realisation that they all have “tracking chips” in them and that ‘Mom’ can see where they are whenever she wants to which complicates their plans slightly. They decide that they’ll use tablecloths as ropes to scale the wall. Realising they’ll need more help they agree to enlist the help of Ray only for Ray to have already been following them out to the wall. They fill him on their dire situation and he agrees to help but he doesn’t think it’s logistically feasible to bring all 37 kids with them. Emma refuses to participate unless everyone comes and Norman backs her up even in the face of the logical realisation that outside the walls is likely a world no-longer belonging to humans but ruled by the ‘demons’. At the end of the episode a new ‘adult’ character is introduced to the orphans, much to Emma, Norman and Ray’s despair.

Let’s just hope she’s not made out to be too much of a villain because BOY do I have a rant in store if she is.

Right, well that seems interesting enough! I don’t see why you’re not enjoying this more–everyone else seems to be. Yeah, and that’s probably a part of the problem too. Too much positive hype on social media and elsewhere is seeping into my brain and informing opinions before I even get the chance to watch the episode and then nothing lives up to the hype as a result. That’s why I think I’m constantly surprised and delighted by CGDCT and slice of life shows because nobody ever talks about them on social media (least not on mine) and so I get to have an untainted experience without expectations.

I mean the lighting is pretty gorgeous in this show.

Sounds to me like you’re blaming others for your own problems watching this show. Maybe I am, and maybe I’ll mute the words ‘Promised Neverland’ on Twitter and see if that changes anything for next week but there’s still the pre-hype that accompanied the show before airing and sadly nothing’s going to erase that.

Okay. So was there anything about the episode you liked? Sure I mean the concrete wall was odd and fun to see, the fact it’s as wide as it is tall makes me presume there’s a corridor within it, and its specifically those moments of unexpected imagery that recall the oddness of US TV series ‘Lost’ (in its early seasons) and I like that. Also the stylish nightmare scene that opened the episode was visually evocative. Other than that not much else I’m afraid. Nevertheless I am still curious about what kind of world exists out there and if we’ll even see any of it by the time this short season is over…

Show don’t tell!

Previous ‘The Promised Neverland’ Reviews:

Growing Up Is Hard – Episode 1 Review

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Growing Up Is Hard – ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 1 Review

Growing Up Is Hard – An Anime QandA Review for ‘The Promised Neverland’ Episode 1


What’s the show? The Promised Neverland, Episode 1.

So how’s this episode? So here’s the thing, you might not know this about me but generally speaking I like my anime on the lighter side–after all, I personally watch anime as escapism and for fun! That’s not to say I don’t enjoy darker anime too for example I loved (the first season) of ‘Psycho Pass’, ‘Attack on Titan’ is a classic, ‘Happy Sugar Life’ was my favourite anime of 2018, ‘Made In Abyss’ I think earned its darkness even if it seemed occasionally excessive and even a show I consider flawed like ‘Magical Girl Raising Project’ was entertaining and has its value. And that’s just off the top of my head, there’s many more. But what I don’t like is anime I deem ‘edgy for the sake of edgy’, I won’t bother listing the shows I think are but there’s plenty of them and seeing the hype that was building around this show made me genuinely fear for the worse. It was at the point where I was going to not even bother watching because I didn’t need another dose of misguided drama in my life. But here we are, with me about to type my thoughts on this show–The Promised Neverland–onto the screen for you all to read. Are you ready for my opinion?

Oh jeez… Yeah, it was an okay episode.

…huh? What?

Simpler times…

Don’t “what” me! With all that build-up, I thought you were about unleash a tirade upon this show! Kinda like how all that build-up to the show airing had me expecting the worst too? Looks like I did the same to you!

Ugh… damn you! So anyway, you going to elaborate? What happened? What’s the “dark” thing about the show? Spoil away! Yeah, so obviously huge spoilers for the first episode, this isn’t going to be a post where I give a vague recommendation and let you go your merry way, the ~big reveal~ of Episode 1 will be discussed after this paragraph. If you want a spoiler free recommendation, watch it–what’s the worst that could happen? (That’s a terrible recommendation, but you’ll see why in a minute.)

The stuff with the barcode exams was curious…

Right, thanks for the warning. So go on… So yeah basically it’s a boarding house of 38 kids and they’re not allowed to be in contact with the outside world because their ‘mom’ says they can never leave the grounds under any circumstances. Their lives seem ~nice~ and peaceful enough except there’s an undercurrent that things are amiss, especially as none of the previous kids who have been “adopted” ever write letters back like they promised they would. So anyway it comes the day for the ‘cutest’, ‘most adorable’ one Conny to be adopted out and yeah, that’s a trope that’s kind of obnoxiously on the nose but I’ll get back to that. But Conny forgets her favourite plush toy so two of our three protagonists Emma and Norman go to return it–leaving the grounds of the estate, even though they were told never to do so. Then the big reveal! Emma passes the back of a wagon and finds Conny–she’s dead, her body battered and bloody. Two voices come from down the alleyway and so they hide under the wagon, the voices belong to two monstrous looking creatures who talk about how delicious children are and how they are being bred for the “quality of their meat” and their ‘mom’ who runs the orphanage is in on it too! The kids escape back to the orphanage, traumatised but determined to get not only themselves out but the other 35 kids too.

I mean that’d be ideal but I somehow doubt we’ve got a cast of 35 just so 35 people can survive.

Okay then, yeah that qualifies as pretty dark! So here’s the thing… I was expecting this to be a lot worse, especially considering what qualifies for ~entertainment~ these days (sorry that was very catty of me) but all the same I found this kind of–mediocre not just in execution but in tone. In fact, it was almost childish, like a Brothers Grimm fairytale and I just can’t shake the feeling like I was oversold on something. Granted this is only the first episode so I’m not going to judge too harshly the potential of this series. But having seen the swathes of people clamouring for this show (and likewise, the people’s reactions both positive and shocked) I’m left a little underwhelmed. What’s more is that it was predictable, from the moment I saw ‘Conny’ written up on the calendar I knew she’d be the first to go and I knew she’d be the ‘cutest, most adorable’ one too. (Sudden brief spoiler for Magical Girl Raising Project incoming!) They did that with killing off Nemurin–the cutest, quietest one in ‘Magical Girl Raising Project’ and they’ve probably done it in other shows too. And I get why they do it, its to endear the audience quickly to character visually without having to waste time on a lot of character development but it’s lazy in my opinion.

Don’t get too attached.

Seems like you have a lot of complaints but none of them are about how dark the show is? That’s surprising. I know right? Maybe I was expecting too much darkness from this first episode and the premise in general, it’s an adaptation of a shonen manga after all not a seinen or a light novel so there’s only so far they can push it.

Geez, what were you expecting? Listen, my mind can go to pretty dark places, let’s just say I wasn’t expecting the evil to be monsters but I was expecting Conny’s “meat” to be used in a different way and I’ll leave it at that.

Ew. Hey, theirlwaifu Sharon thought exactly the same thing, it’s not just me, okay?!

What’s with the look?!

Right. So what are your overall thoughts on the episode? Put simply, I’m intrigued but not enticed, I’m curious but not captivated but thankfully for you, dear readers, I’m not at all triggered (yet). So for now I’ll keep watching to see where it goes.

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Re:Zero -Starting Life In Another World- 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for Re:Zero -Starting Life In Another World-

What’s the show? Re:Zero -Starting Life In Another World- (2016).

And what’s the show about? It’s about the best girl in the whole damn (anime) world, her name is Rem, she’s a maid and also a twin and also a demon and Subaru is an idiot for picking Emilia instead of Rem and I’ve had it with this world. End of review!

Wh-what? No, you can’t end the review this suddenly! You’ve got a job to do! Let’s start again shall we? What’s the show about? Erm, right… it’s about Subaru, an ordinary high-schooler who gets sucked into a fantasy world for ~reasons~ and contrary to the manga and games he’s used to he doesn’t have any powers in this world… well except for the power to break poor Rem’s heart! Subaru you son of a bitch! End of review!—

Oh dear, not again. Let’s try this again… What’s the show about? Huh… huh! What’s going on, I swear you’ve already asked me that question twice before?!

Have I? I don’t recall… so the protagonist is powerless in a fantasy world, that’s somewhat interesting, care to elaborate? Uhh, yeah. So Subaru does have one advantage—his wits, he’s got a cunning intellect and a way at looking at scenarios that’s almost like he’s observing things as if playing a video-game, almost detached from reality. That is until he uncovers his true power, “return by death” which basically functions as a checkpoint system. If ever he dies he returns to a previous moment in time as if nothing happened, except with all the memories—and thus all the emotional pain and trauma that came with his previous death. I appreciate that this series doesn’t gloss over the harrowing experience of death and how much it mentally affects Subaru.

That is an interesting idea, but I suppose the success of a plot device like that is how well it’s executed? Correct, and for the most part it’s smartly executed, it’s never over-used or exploited, it seldom feels cheap and each death has its own narrative purpose and emotional weight… like the emotional weight of seeing poor Rem falling in love with Subaru only to have her feelings shattered on the floor like glass! Damn you, Subaru! Damn you! End of review!—

*sigh* we got a little bit closer that time but still not close enough… one more time (hopefully) What’s the show about? *gasp* I’ve been here before, I’ve answered this question before! What the heck is going on here? Why do I keep ending up at the start of the review?!

Because you keep ending the review prematurely and I can’t allow you to do that, you’ve started this and you have to carry it through to its conclusion. No matter how much it hurts you. Ugh, fine… I’ll try and get through this review without rage-quitting about how much of an idiot Subaru is…

Good. So we’re acquainted with the protagonist. Who are the other characters? There’s Emilia of course, classic princess archetype, vaguely magical, animal sidekick, exceedingly nice—you know the drill. And of course there’s Rem and Ram twin demon maids who are adorable and badass, and Rem is totally best girl—

I’ll stop you there before you go down a rabbit-hole and we have to start this over again. So what kind of stories does this show present, is it about the protagonist trying to return home? Is it an over-arching plot-line or is it more episodic? Little bit of everything, although I don’t think Subaru’s particularly interested in returning home, I mean sure his life is constantly in danger but who could pass up the chance to interact with all these sweet waifus. The 25 episode first (and so far only) season is made up of several different intersecting story-arcs, that depending on where and when Subaru last ‘reset’ can vary wildly in outcome and tone.

And what do these story arcs contain? Well there’s political storylines to do with a royal election that are filled with intrigue and back-stabbing, there’s action-heavy set-pieces with massive battles against magical people/creatures and or both. There’s sinister cult related plot-lines with ridiculous villains and there’s even… romance plots… and, uh, nope, can’t do it! It’s too raw! WHY DIDN’T YOU PICK REM?! End of review!—

Damn it… I thought we might have had a chance of getting through more that time. Oh but it looks like we don’t have to start right from the beginning this time. That’s a small comfort. I’ll just try and word it differently this time… ahem. What’s going on? Ugh, my head hurts, what were we talking about again?

Umm, so what story arc is your favourite? Hmm, that’s a tough one, I think it’s hard to separate them because there’s so much overlap, and that’s one of the things I love about this series. Is that everything feels deeply connected not only to Subaru but to the mysterious ~evil~ force that’s controlling his fate and his power/curse.

And at the risk of triggering you, what don’t you like about the show? Oh plenty, but I’m alway hyper-critical of shows that I really respect and/or shows that are more ~intelligent~ than the standard Isekai genre or even more broadly just fantasy in general.

And those issues are? The series feels overlong, not in that I wanted it to be over quicker than it was, but in more than one occasion it felt like the events of this season could have been tightened up, you know more plot and less filler. Some of the very early “resets” feel needlessly drawn out, like Subaru gets so far only to die and it’s so frustrating to watch—which may well have been the point but it doesn’t make it any less annoying. Also, I think the show takes a bit too long to get around to introducing best girl Rem but that’s just a personal choice.

Well I guess we’ve gotten this far, you seem to be ~stable~ enough to talk about the thing that’s obviously been playing on your mind enough to prematurely end this review four times already. Talk to me about Rem. Rem is precious and sweet and beautiful and also tortured and deep and damaged. She’s also a badass fighter and has a smile that gives me life. And she falls in love with Subaru and wants to run away with him and have a life together with him and her love is so true and pure and honest and of course Subaru being the idiot protagonist that he is only wants the princess, Emilia, whom he’s known for all of a minute before falling in love with her.

You really don’t like Emilia do you? Actually, surprisingly, I like her a lot. She’s got more depth than you’d expect from the ‘princess’ cliche, she’s a strong character and she’s kind and sweet and kinda cute, but~ she’s not Rem. It’s like Emilia’s a tasty slice of pizza but Rem is prime rib with all the trimmings.

And perhaps an analogy for your vegetarian readers? Umm… Rem is an eggplant parmigiana and Emilia is a celery stick with cream cheese on top.

Oh! And what about Rem’s twin-sister? Ram was it, how is the twin sister of a top tier best girl? Eh, she’s fine.

Right… Okay then. Congratulations, you made it to the end of the review and we kind of covered the main points? So final score and recommendation? Hailed by many reviewers and fans alike as the best the Isekai genre has to offer it’s not an inaccurate descriptor but that’s more in a generalist kind of way. It is an exceptional series, that’s subversive and smart in just enough ways to make it easy to overlook its flaws on the whole. Personally though I think there are shows in the genre I prefer for various reasons but still it’s hard not to be impressed by the scope of this show and the characters are mostly great, even down to the supporting cast. And for as much as I raged against Subaru picking Emilia over Rem, by the final episode I was okay with his decision because they do make a cute couple and he had been through so much at that point that he deserved his own happiness as too did Emilia. Far from zero; 90 out of 100.

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Lostorage Incited WIXOSS – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for Lostorage Incited WIXOSS.

What’s the show? Lostorage Incited WIXOSS (2016).

I know what one of those words means? Are the other words Japanese? That’s racist.

What?! I don’t know what Lostorage means, nobody does…

Google says it’s a “portmanteau of ‘lost’ and ‘storage’ to in relation to losing memories”. Oh… well yeah, I guess that makes sense…

And WIXOSS… is a card game? Stop Googling things, I’m the one who’s supposed to know everything! But yes, it’s a trading card game, kind of like Magic the Gathering except with cute and sexy anime girls on them.

And so this show is a flashy, fan-service filled harem anime then? Nope, it’s a pretty serious, psychological character drama about a group of characters who are forced into playing a high-stakes card game, if they refuse to play they loose their memories one at a time, and if they completely loose the game they’ll disappear from the world entirely.

Oh… okay. That’s more serious than I expected! Me too…

You sound… disappointed? No, not at all. It’s just I figured an anime that was presumably created with the purpose to sell these trading cards would have been more… light-hearted? I didn’t expect any depth from this show and instead I got a whole heck of a lot.

You mention that it was made with the purpose to sell cards? Does that mean there’s awkward product placement throughout? The first couple of episodes are a bit obvious, but unless you’re the kind of person who ~really~ gets upset about product placement it shouldn’t really be an issue. I mean it’s not like it’s trying to hide it, the show’s plot is more or less linked to the card came for whatever reason.

You don’t know why? Well, here’s the thing. This is technically the 3rd season of the show, there’s a 1st season—Selector Infected WIXOSS and a 2nd season—Selector Spread WIXOSS. Both of which I haven’t watched!

Uh… that seems like a silly thing to do? Thing is I was informed by a couple of people that I could watch this season without watching the first two, also at the time the first two seasons weren’t on any streaming service. Of course, as soon as I finished watching this season Crunchyroll decided to make the first two available to stream so more fool me for not waiting.

Right, and did you have any issues following the plot? Well since this season has mostly new characters and deals with a new version of the game it’s pretty easy to jump on board here, but the further the season goes along the more callbacks there are to the first two Selector titled seasons. And yes, I would definitely understand them better if I’d watched those seasons but the show does a decently good job at imparting the necessary information for new viewers.

That’s good then! So who are the characters? Our protagonist is Suzuko Homura a sweet but lonely girl—her father is always working late—and she’s estranged from her childhood friend Chinatsu. They do an excellent job of immediately having the audience sympathise with Suzuko, her isolation is palpable. Then she gets caught up in the potentially devastating Selector battles, and naturally the cast expands. There’s smug asshole Takeshi, who tricks novice Selector’s into battles in order to get easy wins. Then there’s best girl Hanna, a game reviewer who has the most adorable way of talking and a tragic backstory. Actually…

What? All the characters have tragic backstory’s of varying severity, evidently what led these people to be ‘chosen’ to become Selectors is that they all have memories that they want to alter or remember. It’s a smart writing choice that makes even the most minor of side character relatable and is something that makes nearly every Selector battle feel even more high-stakes.

And what’s an LRIG? I thought I told you to stop Googling the show!

Fine, I’ll stop. But what is it? I was getting to that! LRIG’s are like avatars that battle on behalf of the Selector, becoming the physical action to the attacking and defending abilities associated with the various cards that are played. They also happen to be cute magical girls who also have tragic back stories…

How can a card have a tragic backstory? Because they weren’t always just cards…

*shocked emoji* Whatever do you mean? Well, it’s probably better explained by someone who’s seen the previous two seasons but it turns out LRIG’s used to be real girls who competed in the “first battles” vying for the grand prize of ‘one wish to come true’ only to be screwed over by the girl responsible for the game’s creation—or something like that.

Well I don’t know if you’ve convinced me it was a good idea to watch this show without having seen the previous two seasons, but it does sound interesting at the very least. Was that what I was supposed to be doing? Convincing you to watch this show?

I don’t know, I figured that’s what these reviews always were. Anyway, final score and recommendation? If you looked up the synopsis and saw ‘card game’ and ‘battles’ and eyes immediately glossed over with visions of prolonged Shonen battles flashing through your mind, think again! This isn’t some repetitive Saturday morning cartoon, this is a surprisingly dark and moody character driven experience with impeccable production quality and interesting—if admittedly dense backstory. The elements of the game never really make 100% sense but it’s never really about the mechanics of the game as it is more about the devastating outcome of losing one’s memories, or just as bad—having to be the one that sends a player into the void of non-existence. 80 out of 100, turn end.

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Though You May Burn To Ash Volume One – 20 Question Manga Review

A 20 Question Manga Review for Though You May Burn To Ash, Volume 1.

Warning: This review contains graphic violent/gory imagery, reader discretion is advised.

What’s the manga? 
Though You May Burn To Ash, Volume One.

And what’s it about? D’you ever buy a manga based solely on it’s cover without nary a glance at it’s plot synopsis?

I’ve never even read a manga, let alone bought one… Alright, fine, you ever watch a movie or read a book based on the cover image alone?

Err, I imagine so, I mean that’s what covers are there for to entice the reader/watcher? Why? Is that what happened here? Yes. Yes it is.

And was that a bad decision on your part? Yes. Yes it was.

Oh dear… well let’s go through this step-by-step, what exactly went wrong here? Well I saw a cute girl with a stupidly suggestive and revealing maid-costume cum angel get up and my fucking neanderthal brain added the manga to my cart and bought it before I could barely read a word of the synopsis.

It’s a nice behind.

And where’s the problem (aside from the obvious)? This manga isn’t sexy at all! It’s deeply ~problematic~ and it makes me want to throw it in the bin.

Yikes! Care to elaborate? Well not really, but since I’ve already gone this far I might as well commit. So this manga at least has an interesting premise, it’s about a doting brother trying to raise enough money to save his terminally ill sister from a certain death. See she needs a super expensive experimental overseas operation to save her life except he’s kind of a screw up and they have no other family than each other so it’s literally down to him to save her. One day, while returning from the hospital the brother is visited by a mysterious being who asks how far he would be willing to go to get a shit-ton of money to which his grief addled mind replies he’d not only kill someone, he’d sacrifice his own life and soul to get what he needs to save his sister.

Seems legit!

Next minute? Next minute he’s dead and in a sort of limbo-esque existence except now instead of being a plain 20-something year old dude he’s a cute high-school girl surrounded by a bunch of other cute high-school aged girls and they’ve all been brought together by a sadistic “angel” who’s offering them billions of Yen as a prize to winning her twisted game.

Uh-huh… And what’s the game? Basically it’s a dice-style ‘odd or even’ betting game with an element of bluffing and calling out other people’s bluffs in order to win more money. It’s a pretty interesting concept and it’s well-executed, but did I mention this manga is problematic as all heck and I kinda hate it?!

Yes, you did mention that… Why? If you’re not familiar with the term ‘ero guro’ or simply ‘guro’ allow me to ~educate~ you, it’s violent/gory content that’s coupled with erotic content.

Oh… I see “problematic” indeed. Listen, I’m not trying to kink-shame anyone here, this is—after all—just pictures, but I am so not having a good time with this. Like gore on it’s own I can generally deal with, I mean I read Murcielago and loved it and that had people being torn in half and entrails being ripped out and what not. So it’s not the gore itself I have a problem with, it’s that the gore is being coupled with ~erotic~ content that makes me feel especially uncomfortable.

Let’s not even mention what part of her is disintegrating between her legs…

So is there a lot of it then? No and that’s what makes me so unsure of whether this even is a ‘guro’ manga, I mean obviously the only thing I have to compare it to is erotic doujin’s I’ve unfortunately stumbled across in my times and it’s not anywhere near as sexual as those, but that stuff was explicitly porn. Where as this is more “mainstream”, this is a manga produced by a publishing company, they can’t go as far with the sexual content, but I do feel like the intent is still there.

“Intent”? To show high-school girls being brutally tortured and murdered while also leaning heavily into the sexualised nature of the characters for the purposes of arousing those are inclined to this sort of thing.

Don’t worry there’s only 4 more pages of her losing each of her fingers, just in case you didn’t catch it the first time.

Isn’t that just an assumption? Yeah of course, but I mean there is literally no reason given for all the characters suddenly being high-school aged girls in cute uniforms so I have to draw that conclusion.

Right. So imagine instead the characters aren’t all sexualised anime high-school girls, does that make it better? Maybe, I don’t know. There’s a lot of a compelling story-telling here, the sadistic angel character is pretty funny and crazy at times plus there’s some genuine depth and emotion to the protagonist and his relationship with his sister. It’s very dark but it’s very well written.

Must. Protect.

Can’t you just skip the violent and gory bits and enjoy the story and characters? I mean, possibly. I just don’t know if I want to support a product like this though, it is interesting enough to keep reading but I can only assume it gets more graphic and more sexualised from here on out, that’s generally how these type of things go. Unless…

Unless what? Well I mean maybe I’m completely wrong and this isn’t ‘guro’ at all! I’m not an expert after all! But even if this is only ~softcore~ guro it’s still pretty unappealing to me. And this isn’t even a ‘cute girl being killed’ issue or a ‘pointless death’ issue it’s that this is someone’s fetish and I don’t get it at all.

There’s actually a lot of interesting strategy to this game.

#notkinkshaming Yes, #notkinkshaming.

So final score and recommendation? *sigh* This is a tough one to give a score to, on the one hand there’s a perfectly competent story going on here, it’s well-written for the most part, is populated with interesting and flawed characters and the ‘odd or even’ style dice game is well implemented, thoroughly explained and pretty easy to follow. But, the fact that ALL the characters look like cute high-school girls even if they weren’t cute high-school girls (or even girls) in their previous life is an ‘interesting’ choice—or it would have been if the only reason they were all turned into cute high-school girls wasn’t just to make their gory deaths and violent tortures all the more appealing to people who like that! As it is, the highest score I can give it is a 62 out of 100, even if the story and characters are deserving of a much higher score.

Why? Because that’s what sells more books.

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