ISLAND – Full Season QandA Rundown

A Full Season QandA Rundown of ISLAND

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.

/synopsis

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!

*contemplation intensifies*

What was your favourite episode? While Episode 4 “This World Full Of Secrets” showed the series more than capable of offering a satisfying conclusion to Karen’s ‘problems’ and likewise Episode 5 “This Is Why I Trust You” with Sara’s. For sheer dramatic intensity it’s a toss-up between Episode 9’s “I Got To See You Again” and Episode 10’s “I Don’t Want To Grieve Anymore” that delivered the greatest shock as the series changed to a dystopian future setting and even changed the name of the show to ‘NEVER ISLAND’ for this two-episode arc. It was brave storytelling and delivered my most unexpected moment of the entire series.

Even for living in a futuristic dystopia Rinne knows how to style.

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.

World’s deadliest assassin!

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.

Not pictured: a sex scene.

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.

This fan service is totally okay because it’s Rinne who is imagining it, right?!

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.’

Final score? 93 out of 100.

Precious Rinne.

Previous ISLAND Reviews:

The Island of Mysterious Loli’s – Episode 1 Review
A Loli A Day… – Episode 2 Review
Dreams Of Fan Service – Episode 3 Review
One Wedding and a Belated Funeral – Episode 4 Review
Is Giving Birth To Yourself Possible? – Episode 5 Review
The World Will End With A Bang – Episode 6 Review
A Storm In An A-Cup – Episode 7 Review
An Ocean Between Us – Episode 8 Review
Long Time No Sea – Episode 9 Review
Rinne and Repeat – Episode 10 Review
A Fling Of The Past – Episode 11 Review
His And Hers Story Repeats – Episode 12 (Finale) Review


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His and Hers Story Repeats – ‘ISLAND’ Episode 12 (Finale) Review

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).

Nooooooooo!

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.

The feels are real!

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.

Exposition dump courtesy of this cutie whose name I’ve unfortunately forgotten!

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.

For a handmade ring it’s still pretty darn good!

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!

Just like on the night he left!

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!

Yup, I cried!

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.

I draw your attention to who’s hiding behind the tree and simply leave it at that!

Previous ISLAND Reviews:

The Island of Mysterious Loli’s – Episode 1 Review
A Loli A Day… – Episode 2 Review
Dreams Of Fan Service – Episode 3 Review
One Wedding and a Belated Funeral – Episode 4 Review
Is Giving Birth To Yourself Possible? – Episode 5 Review
The World Will End With A Bang – Episode 6 Review
A Storm In An A-Cup – Episode 7 Review
An Ocean Between Us – Episode 8 Review
Long Time No Sea – Episode 9 Review
Rinne and Repeat – Episode 10 Review
A Fling Of The Past – Episode 11 Review


If you liked my post and want to support my content, please consider supporting my Patreon page, or donating by buying me a coffee on Ko-fi!

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A Fling Of The Past – ‘ISLAND’ Episode 11 Review

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.

(Insert hilarious joke about having ‘wood’)

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.

She’s so beautiful.

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.

I sometimes forget to mention how good this show can look.

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!

She’s easily convinced though.

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.

She may not be best girl or even second best girl but I’ll always have a special spot in my heart for Karen!

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.

I like to see Sara happy! 🙂

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.

He’s so conflicted.

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*

:O

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!


Previous ISLAND Reviews:

The Island of Mysterious Loli’s – Episode 1 Review
A Loli A Day… – Episode 2 Review
Dreams Of Fan Service – Episode 3 Review
One Wedding and a Belated Funeral – Episode 4 Review
Is Giving Birth To Yourself Possible? – Episode 5 Review
The World Will End With A Bang – Episode 6 Review
A Storm In An A-Cup – Episode 7 Review
An Ocean Between Us – Episode 8 Review
Long Time No Sea – Episode 9 Review
Rinne and Repeat – Episode 10 Review


If you liked my post and want to support my content, please consider supporting my Patreon page, or donating by buying me a coffee on Ko-fi!

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Rinne and Repeat – ‘ISLAND’ Episode 10 Review

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.

Bet you didn’t expect dead kids from an anime like this!

…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!

It’s pretty insane but I love it all the same!

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).

Burn the Witch. *Radiohead music intensifies*

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.

You just gotta wait til Episode 10 or later to find it out!

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!

This is the future remember, a future under religious oppression!

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!

At least she was happy when she died 😦

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.

The society of big hair loses a member…

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…

FYI, the sex scene is so heavily shadowed that I couldn’t even get a screencap of it, so yeah, ‘yay’ for that… enjoy this love confession instead!

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.

Rinne and Setsuna’s sex scene.

Previous ISLAND Reviews:

The Island of Mysterious Loli’s – Episode 1 Review
A Loli A Day… – Episode 2 Review
Dreams Of Fan Service – Episode 3 Review
One Wedding and a Belated Funeral – Episode 4 Review
Is Giving Birth To Yourself Possible? – Episode 5 Review
The World Will End With A Bang – Episode 6 Review
A Storm In An A-Cup – Episode 7 Review
An Ocean Between Us – Episode 8 Review
Long Time No Sea – Episode 9 Review


If you liked my post and want to support my content, please consider supporting my Patreon page, or donating by buying me a coffee on Ko-fi!

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The ‘ISLAND’ Visual Novel/Anime Physical Copy Kickstarter

A short post talking about the ISLAND Visual Novel/Anime Physical Copy Kickstarter

Hello everyone, I thought I’d make a quick post about something that I thought was very cool and am proud to be backing on Kickstarter. Frontwing developer of visual novels most notably The Grisaia series and most recently ISLAND, have started a Kickstarter for a physical copy release of the Visual Novel ‘ISLAND’ which is currently airing as a part of the Summer 2018 anime season. But not only that some of their larger Kickstarter rewards are really cool, like art-books, deluxe blu-ray copies of the anime, a Kickstarter exclusive tapestry and T-shirt! Being such a fan of the anime series (especially after Episode 9 which was a game-changer in many ways) I was keen to show my support and have pledged $366US (or ~$500AU) to not only help them reach their goal but to get these really awesome goodies!

This is NOT a sponsored post by the way (though Frontwing if you’re reading, *hint hint*) I’ve contributed my hard-earned money because not only do I think the merch more than makes up for the price but I think this is a really good way of bringing the kind of quality, all-encompassing experience to the West—who I feel are often overlooked when it comes to getting ‘exclusive’ anime and visual novel related goodies. I follow a lot of anime stores (like Animate, Toranoana, Melon Books, etc.) on Twitter and I’m always jealous about the cool deluxe edition blu-ray’s that they get which come with exclusive merch and artwork. And it’s not as simple as ordering them online because the blu-ray’s don’t have English subtitles. Which is what makes this Kickstarter so cool and exciting for me, being able to have a deluxe product of one of my favourite anime’s of the season with English subtitles is like a dream come true!

Obviously this kind of thing isn’t for everyone, but I’ve always thought that this kind of crowd-sourcing approach to bringing what’s otherwise Japanese-exclusive products (such as Visual Novels and Anime blu-rays) to the rest of the world is the most logical step forward and prevents the kind of gate-keeping that some companies in Japan seem to have with their products being sold overseas. I’m glad that Frontwing is being so inclusive of their fans from around the world and the sheer quality of the products they make as well as the Kickstarter rewards they provide have made me proud to be supporting them! If you’re a fan of the ‘ISLAND’ anime and want to see more or simply love merch and deluxe editions and gorgeous art books as much as I do, consider supporting them too! Also if you haven’t already watched ISLAND and need some convincing my reviews for the episodes that have aired are below (but be aware they’re full of spoilers).


Episode Reviews of ISLAND:

The Island of Mysterious Loli’s – Episode 1 Review
A Loli A Day… – Episode 2 Review
Dreams Of Fan Service – Episode 3 Review
One Wedding and a Belated Funeral – Episode 4 Review
Is Giving Birth To Yourself Possible? – Episode 5 Review
The World Will End With A Bang – Episode 6 Review
A Storm In An A-Cup – Episode 7 Review
An Ocean Between Us – Episode 8 Review
Long Time No Sea – Episode 9 Review
Episode 10 Review Coming Soon
Episode 11 Review Coming Soon
Episode 12 Review Coming Soon


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Long Time No Sea – ‘ISLAND’ Episode 9 Review

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.

This is not the show it was last week!

…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!

I feel like people will be using this title as a joke towards their negative opinions of the show…

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!

Sign me up!

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.

Cute, no matter the costume!

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.

Just like blog posts without tags, they’re still blog posts!

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.

I mean I’d like ‘Island’ to go as long as possible too, but I’m pretty sure it’s only going to be 1 cour.

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!

And nor will you, end of review!

I know what I want to worship!

Previous Island Reviews:

The Island of Mysterious Loli’s – Episode 1 Review
A Loli A Day… – Episode 2 Review
Dreams Of Fan Service – Episode 3 Review
One Wedding and a Belated Funeral – Episode 4 Review
Is Giving Birth To Yourself Possible? – Episode 5 Review
The World Will End With A Bang – Episode 6 Review
A Storm In An A-Cup – Episode 7 Review
An Ocean Between Us – Episode 8 Review


If you liked my post and want to support my content, please consider supporting my Patreon page, or donating by buying me a coffee on Ko-fi!

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Fated For Grander Things – ‘Fate/Stay Night’ 20 Question Anime Review

Fated For Grander Things – A 20 Question Anime Review for Fate/Stay Night (2006)

This review contains mild spoilers for Fate/Stay Night (2006).


What’s the show? Fate/Stay Night (2006).

Oh~ an older show, huh? Yes, I know it’s rare for me to dabble in series’ that aren’t either from a current—or close to it—anime season or of a ‘certain genre’ but here we are!

Fair enough. So what’s it about? It’s about the Holy Grail War, a grand battle that takes place every 10 years in Fuyuki City, Japan. Every time this happens people with magic bloodlines called ‘Magus’ are chosen to be ‘Masters’ while historical figures from throughout all of history (both real and fictional) are summoned to be their ‘Servants’. They fight each other until only one Servant and one Master remains at which point the titular ‘Holy Grail’ appears—a powerful magical item that grants the champion any wish they desire!

Saber and her invisible sword. Not sure if way to cut down on animation costs or if it was present in the Visual Novel…

Wow, okay, so that’s pretty interesting! What got you interested in this series then? Well it’s only one of the biggest multimedia franchises in Japan, spanning multiple visual novels, anime adaptions of all the games’ main story routes as well as a plethora of spin-offs, prequels which run the gamut of genres—and surprisingly which are of all (apparently) very high quality.

So it’s the hype of the series that got you interested? What? No, not at all. I don’t care about what’s popular, I care about what has lots of merchandise and as you can imagine with a series this long-running and pervasive throughout Otaku culture in Japan it has a lot of merch! And I loves me some merch!

That’s… kind of an odd reason to watch an anime isn’t it? You must really love capitalism if that’s the case… Truth be told, I just really wanted to watch one of the more visually interesting spin-off’s called ‘Fate/kaledid liner Prisma Illya’ but wanted to get the full experience of the series and figured I’d watch everything else first before getting to that series.

Illya knows what she wants, like all the best loli’s.

Again—kind of a weird reason to commit yourself to watching a series, but whatever you’re a weird guy so I don’t know why I’m even questioning it… I take that as a compliment!

Of course you do. So tell me a little about the characters, these “servants” and “masters”? Right, so our protagonist is Shiro Emiya and he’s kind of unique as far as anime protagonists go, in that he starts off the series almost like the ultimate push-over, willing to do anything for anyone just so he can feel useful to other people—even if it means people use him. In some respects his utter selflessness is hard to relate to—I mean everyone has hopes and dreams and desires and everyone is at least a ~little~ selfish, but not Shiro! The only thing he wants is to be able to save at least one person before he dies, because when he was a child his life was saved by a man who came to be his adoptive father.

He’s pretty useless tbh.

Well that’s certainly noble of him… Yeah… maybe…

What? Isn’t it? Let me introduce some of the other characters and I’ll get to my ‘problems’ with Shiro.

Okay, sure, so I take it he becomes a ‘Master’, whose his ‘Servant’? Indeed he does, despite being ill equipped for the task (he has no real latent magical abilities, all he’s learned has come from his Magus father Kiritsugu who was kind of a purposefully bad teacher). Anyone, despite his lack of real magical abilities he summons Saber—the most powerful swordswoman of all the ‘Servants’ and the personification of King Arthur from history.

Saber needs more rice, give Saber more rice pls.

Wait, King Arthur’s a “she”? How does that work? What?! Are you saying King Arthur, can’t be a woman?! That’s so sexist, I can’t believe you sometimes!

This is just one of those anime things I have to go along with and not question, right? Damn straight. So Saber is a no-nonsense sort of gal, she thinks of herself as a King first and a woman second, she’s loyal, she’s powerful and she know what needs to be done and won’t rest until her goal is achieved—even if it costs her her life. You’d think that’d make her the perfect match for Shiro, except Shiro’s kind of a dick to Saber—unintentionally of course. He thinks that protecting her from combat and putting himself in harms way to ‘defend’ her is the right way to go about things. Except he’s completely negating her worth as a powerful fighter just because she’s a ~woman~ and he’s so committed to his self-destructive desire to “fight for what’s right” even if he’s grossly outmatched—as evidenced by the many times he dies.

Ying and Yang.

Excuse me? “Dies”? Well he doesn’t really die, not fully anyway, because of reasons I won’t go into because they’re complicated and are kind of fun to uncover on your own Shiro has powerful healing abilities. So even if he does suffer life-threatening damage he manages to shake it off with a bit of sleep. I’d say it’s a bit of a cop-out but it’s absolutely a necessary plot element considering how much Shiro throws himself into the face of danger to protect ‘innocent’ people without any regard for his own well-being.

So is Shiro a good protagonist? His journey is something that anchors the series, yes he starts off as unrelatable and even condescending, but the series never fully sides with him—Saber puts him in his place regarding his reckless actions and selfish words on more than a dozen occasions and the series is all the better for it. It allows a sort of gradual and organic development into a more rounded character—one that sees the strength in others, one that is willing to admit his inadequacies and recognise his place and one who is worthy of Saber’s eventual respect, friendship and dare I say, love.

She’s a lion. Rawr!

Love? Is this a love story? Well, yeah. The series is based on an erotic visual novel after all.

Excuse me?! Umm… I think you forgot to mention that! Did I? Oh well, it’s not really relevant to the anime adaptation—this series, despite having some romantic elements (and a wiff of harem) is pretty chaste especially given its apparently sexual source material. And while personally I would have liked it to have been a bit sexier (because, you know, pervert and all that) I think it would have been a bit awkward to see Shiro like that.

Right… Well we’re quickly running out of questions and we’ve spent most the time talking about the protagonist’s character flaws, what about the other characters? There’s a bunch, like seriously enough for a whole additional 20 Question review, but let’s face it, know one’s going to read that. The most important characters are Rin Tosaka a bit of a tsun, and powerful Magus who also happens to attend Shiro’s school. She serves as almost an endless font of exposition for all the information Shiro needs to know about the Holy Grail War, his burgeoning powers and the Master/Servant relationship. She’s also a part of the War with a ‘Servant’ of her own called Archer. There’s also his childhood friend, the timid and obliging Sakura whose importance in the story ebs and flows, but obviously will have a lot more to do in the various spin-offs. There’s also a bunch of antagonists, most interesting of all (at least in this reviewers opinion) is Illya—a sadistic little loli who is the star of the spin-off series I mentioned earlier in this review.

Rin is ~probably~ best girl, if only because she’s the most approachable, which is certainly saying something…

Ah… a ‘loli’ say no more… So first of all, I haven’t really gotten the sense of what you think of this show—like a concrete opinion on it overall. It’s really good—but and this is a big but… this series feels like it’s constantly battling a lot of constraints; run-time, budgetary, focus. Perhaps my opinion is a bit clouded by the constant bashings this series got online from ~hardcore~ Fate-series fans who seem to regard this as something of a ‘lesser’ product. And as someone who hasn’t read the Visual Novel it’s sourced from (and never will, so don’t even ask) I can only defer to their judgment that this is a truncated and perhaps even rushed effort from Studio Deen. But despite the issues, both apparent to the uninitiated and expounded by those ‘in the know’ this series still is very much worth watching as a starting point. It’s a bit clumsy and ugly at times but the overall story shines through and the characters are dynamic and compelling!

Final score and recommendation? Go to nearly every site out there and they’ll tell you “don’t bother with the original Fate/Stay Night anime series, play the visual novel instead!” Well you know what? Some of us don’t have 30+ hours to spend sitting in front of a computer screen clicking through text boxes. I say, if you’re interested in the premise of this series and want to start somewhere relatively easy seek out this series, just temper your expectations. The Fate-series (apparently) only gets better after this so treat this like an amuse-bouche and take what you can from the series, only to be spoiled rotten later on by better adaptations of other VN routes. Simply put, this show is occasionally compelling and contains some great characters that understandably have stood the test of the time in the Otaku zeitgeist. I’ll Stay another Night—80 out of 100.


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An Ocean Between Us – ‘ISLAND’ Episode 8 Review

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.

This show has done this exploitable quote screencap several times already!

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.

This anime adaptation of Lost is getting weird.

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).

A mother’s tears…

…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!

*cue happy montage*

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.

Looking more and more like bedraggled Okabe by the minute!

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!

I wasn’t ready for this…

Previous Island Reviews:

The Island of Mysterious Loli’s – Episode 1 Review
A Loli A Day… – Episode 2 Review
Dreams Of Fan Service – Episode 3 Review
One Wedding and a Belated Funeral – Episode 4 Review
Is Giving Birth To Yourself Possible? – Episode 5 Review
The World Will End With A Bang – Episode 6 Review
A Storm In An A-Cup – Episode 7 Review


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A Storm In An A-Cup – ‘ISLAND’ Episode 7 Review

A Storm In An A-Cup – An Anime QandA Review for ‘ISLAND’ Episode 7

What’s the show? ISLAND, Episode 7.

So what happens on the Island this week? A lot. Like really a lot—and at the same time the forward momentum we’re given in regards to the narrative is kinda not what I wanted at all? But at the same time I totally understand why we had to have what happen ~happen~ because we’re only at episode 7 and there’s no way the show was ready for a “happy ending” yet.

Right, kinda vague there, care to elaborate? Well things are all great and wonderful between Rinne and Setsuna—their relationship is progressing slowly but surely—even Rinne’s mother wants the two of them to ‘consummate’ their relationship. But Sestuna is waiting until Rinne is emotionally ready for it and doesn’t want to force things.

Kawaii.

Well that’s nice of him I suppose… but I’m guessing things aren’t that simple now are they? Of course not, while on a date at the shaved ice store the old lady running the place says she needs some more medicine, so Setsuna being the obliging gentlemen he is goes off to pick some up. Meanwhile the old lady mentions that she and Setsuna used to come here “years ago” which triggers all sorts of memories that flood back and causes her to run off to the coastline. Also meanwhile Setsuna learns from the only police officer on the island that Rinne had gone missing for 5 years prior to Setsuna’s arrival on the island but in the time she was missing it seemed like “no time had passed for her”.

True, she’s 18. Or 23, depending on who in town you ask…

Okay… so time-travel shenanigans are to blame? Ah, if only it were that simple—here’s where it gets convoluted—bear with me. Everytime there is a storm a mysterious deserted island appears of the coast and it’s there where the original Setsuna (the one from the cliffside cabin from a couple episodes ago) and Rinne ended up getting stranded. Things happen, the narrative of the flashback is very fractured and possibly susceptible to an unreliable narrator—original Setsuna saves Rinne by finding a raft only big enough for one person and Rinne washes up on the shore(?) of home island with amnesia. Maybe.

Imagine living on an island your whole life only to get deserted on another island…

Maybe? Things are kept intentionally vague, almost frustratingly so but I like that! I like the haphazard nature of the storytelling here; it feels perfectly in keeping with the idea of forgotten memories slowly coming to the surface as well as the frustration of not really knowing what’s truth and what’s fiction and even whether time-travel is even involved in ~any~ of this! It’s like every episode up-ends what we thought we knew for sure but never in a way that feels like things are being made-up as we go along but rather that the truth is always buried under layers of mistruths and bad guesses.

😥

Well as long as you’re enjoying it, that’s all that matters. That sounded really passive-aggressive but I am indeed enjoying it! Even if I would have been happy for just 6 more episodes of Rinne and Setsuna dating because I think they make a cutecouple, but this is good too. I’m curious to see where the show goes from here and hope we get more stuff for Sara to do because she’s best girl—I loved the silly little moment where she interrupted the dramatic moment between Rinne and Setsuna on the pier.

Look at this silly girl!

Previous Island Reviews:

The Island of Mysterious Loli’s – Episode 1 Review
A Loli A Day… – Episode 2 Review
Dreams Of Fan Service – Episode 3 Review
One Wedding and a Belated Funeral – Episode 4 Review
Is Giving Birth To Yourself Possible? – Episode 5 Review
The World Will End With A Bang – Episode 6 Review


If you liked my post and want to support my content, please consider supporting my Patreon page, or donating by buying me a coffee on Ko-fi!

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