Anime director Tomoyuki Itamura has a knack of creating some very good vampire anime. This man is the mastermind of the Monogatari series and we know how popular and beloved that franchise is. He also has worked on another vampire series you’ve probably heard of named, Vanitas no Karte, which has been one of my favourite anime series to come out over the past year. But what makes them special is they are unconventional. They aren’t your typical vampire hunting series nor are they excuses to give your protagonists powers in a shounen anime. They subvert your expectations, are very amusing and very horny. So ... what does he direct next? Another vampire anime that is different from his previous works, being a more relaxed anime to chill out with. And you know what? I would say it worked.
So let’s put on a vinyl and chill out to some music as I present to my anime review for Yofukashi no Uta. Or by its English name, Call of the Night. Let’s begin.
Our story follows Kou Yamori, a middle school student who suffers from insomnia due to his lackadaisical nature and roams the street at night. He eventually runs into a girl named Nazuna and they start hanging out together. However, Nazuna turns out to be a vampire and Kou is interested by that so much that he wants to become a vampire himself, but in order to do that, he must be bitten by someone he loves, which he has no interest or experience in.
The best way to describe the story would be low vibes. It’s not a story that is enticing or grabs you, but rather a story that basically just wants to chill and hang out. The best thing about it is that it works. For most of the show, it’s just having our characters just trying to find ways of having a good time at night and the night works to its advantage as well. Obviously, it was going to be set at night because, well vampires and its in the name of the English title, but it also gives a more relaxed feel to it. There’s no crowd, the roads are quiet and you can be alone with your thoughts until you find someone else alone to chat with. It could be just general things or chat about things going on with your life. The relaxed low vibes this show provides gives it a unique feel to it. It’s not trying to do anything ridiculous to try and stand out, it’s just trying to have a good time and enjoy that time you have right now.
That’s not to say there isn’t much of a story going on. Obviously, you have Yamori wanting to turn into a vampire but by the end of this season, it ain’t that simple. It does at the start but as more things get clarified, it does make things interesting to throw a spanner in the works and change Yamori’s view on this. There are both benefits and consequences to becoming a vampire unsurprisingly but it never really takes them seriously. It just warns you about them and it’s Yamori’s decision if he ultimately wants to or not. It hardly becomes the focus of the story though, or at least, doesn’t take it that seriously because it doesn’t want to break the vibes this show provides. It’s both good and bad because it doesn’t make the show break character but never treats the real dilemma that seriously than it needs to be and can hurt the narrative. If anything, it tends to lean on the pros more than the cons and only really showing the cons near the end of the season.
One last thing to mention is the writing and dialogue. I don’t really talk about this in reviews but considering that the show is having our characters hang out and talk, there is obviously going to be a lot of chatting. What would normally be boring ended up being enjoyable because they have interesting conversations about things. Could be serious, could be something trivial to just to have a laugh. It feels legit rather than artificial just to get these characters together because the plot demanded it. It helps with the whole, “hanging out”, vibe the show provides to keep face and not lose its identity. It would have been more boring if this aspect of the show didn’t provide interesting conversations between our two main leads. What also helps out is the chemistry between our characters which I will talk about next.
Yamori is definitely a solid protagonist. He’s not a protagonist I don’t highly of because he’s not really anything special, personality wise, but he doesn’t do anything that makes you want to hate him. Basically, your average middle school protagonist. He does have a good heart and is a naive to think becoming a vampire is that simple. So they do give him some things to help him grow as a character. Give him some interesting dilemmas to think about. He does have one flaw in his character and that he is unable to understand the concept of love, which adds another wrench in the plan of becoming a vampire. This is where I think the show struggles a bit. While it does clear a clear understanding that you can’t force this, it doesn’t stop to think why it’s not working? Yamori has no idea about it because he has no interest in love so him trying to force it and not working makes sense because it’s not how it works. But it doesn’t do a good job to reflect that clearly its not working and doesn’t really seem learn from it. By the second half, that aspect feels less and less important as other issues with becoming a vampire. It’s a shame because it’s a flaw in his personality that could grow from but it seem like the show cares about that and doesn’t progress as the show goes on.
The cast around Yamori though is more interesting than him but makes it stand out is the chemistry between them. It’s not surprising though considering Vanitas also had terrific chemistry and while it is not on that level, they have interesting conversations that makes their bonds more interesting rather feeling forced. Which leads to our other main character, Nazuna. Nazuna is the kind of friend that just wants to goof around, drink beer and live a carefree life. Which is only elevated by Yamori’s more sensible nature to make Nazuna seen as more lively. It’s why I think the chemistry works because they only elevate each other and make their own characteristics stand out more and in turn, makes the dialogue more interesting. Having two of the same people wouldn’t work because there is no sharing of what they think or conflict for that matter because they will be thinking the same thing. It’s the basic principle when having two characters talk to have different opinions on certain things but can also agree on other things as well. This isn’t just with Yamori and Nazuna, it’s the entire cast as well. They all have personalties that bounce off one another and make them fun characters to know about and have agendas and ways to pass the time to make them stand out more. Obviously some more than others but the cast is a very well rounded group and I pretty much liked all of them.
This is probably the best LIDENFILMS has ever been with their animation. Sure, it’s not the best but they do it in ways that make it look better than it is. This is the same guy who directed the monogatari series and you can tell he took liberties from that show and apply it here. The way the show frames its scenes with different angles and how it cuts from one shot to the next in quick succession. This is how the show gets away with it looking better than it actually is because it strikes rapidly to make it look like the animation is smooth but it is still pretty good. What really sells in the animation department though is the background art. It looks really good with the colours, how the night sky looks, it what helps give the relaxed vibe and it matches the tone of the show. To keep it low vibes, to make less serious and again, more relaxed. It switches its colours as well depending on where they are which is a nice touch. There are times where the show cheapens out for quick laughs and they’re fine. Some of them are effective others are just there. Character designs are simple but also effective and kind of reflect their personalties quite well. They look like what you would think they should look like with Nazuna being the standout, looking the most different out of all of them with her eyes, her slender body and her, “clears throat”, chest.
This is arguably this show’s greatest strength, its ost. It really is a fun ost to listen to in a night setting and feels very appropriate. It mainly comprises of electronic, low vibe hip hop and some synthwave in here as well and goes so well with the show’s direction and atmosphere. It knows how when it wants to be light hearted, it wants to be more serious or it just simply wants to be a good time. It just helps that it’s set at night that the soundtrack stands out more and It helps with the low vibes the show’s trying to establish. What also helps is the insert songs from Creepy Nuts in there as well to spice things up while also not losing its identity. A very good ost and a highlight of the show for me.
Then there is the OP and ED that are both done by Creepy Nuts. I will just say, both of these have made me a fan and I would say they are OP and ED of the season respectively. The OP, “Daten”, is definitely the outlier of the ost because compared to the others, it’s fast, it’s loud but it is oh so fun to watch. I love the pace of this OP and it makes the use of the show’s colour pallet and framing well to help keep the same vibes in the rest of the episode. It translates really well to create a fun OP to watch visually. But that song is just a banger. It’s definitely the one part of the soundtrack that feels out of place but goes with the visuals so well. It’s something you would listen to if you wanted to go and party at night and you need to do it right now. It is such a fun OP to listen to and watch and is OP of the season for me.
Same goes for the ED. Titled, “Yofukashi no Uta”, it very much is a counterpart to “Daten” because it feels more slower, more cooler yet retains some of the aspects from the OP and the show in general. The colours, the framing and keeping the same vibes. The visuals mainly consist of Nazuna looking for a fun time to mess around and while it isn’t as creative as the OP, it is still fun to watch. Fun fact, the original manga was actually inspired by this song, hence why the show and ED have the same. I’m not as confident in saying this is ED of the season because “Let You Down” from Cyperpunk: Edgerunners is also really good, but I do think the song factor for Call of the Night’s ED gives it the edge because it’s a banger like the rest of the soundtrack.
Call of the Night is one of the best shows to watch at night, in bed, wanting to settle down and looking for something to help you. Specific yes, but you don’t have a lot of shows like that where you can relax and yet have something interesting going on. It’s just a show where you can watch people hang out at night with a vampire twist to it so that we have some kind of overarching plot going on. It almost feels like a niche show honestly by doing these specific things to get maximum enjoyment. But sometimes, best experiences are enjoyed in specific situations. The low vibe feel, the well written and acted dialogue, the ost, the colour usage in the animation department. This is the kind of show you watch when you want to relax. It has problems, the romance elements aren’t explored as much and the vampire dilemma isn’t doesn’t take itself too seriously when it needs to be at times. But it provides an atmosphere and vibe to it, combined with its enjoyable cast and you can still enjoy yourself watching these characters hang out and enjoy the night. Simply put, it’s a good time.
My Personal Enjoyment: 8/10
Overall Score: 8.1/10 Recommendation: Watch It
Sep 27, 2022
Papa Bone Daddy is back ladies and gentlemen.
After 4 years, two seasons and a movie of Isekai Quartet and watching so many clips of the first three seasons, Overlord is indeed back. Now it goes without saying that I freaking love Overlord. I love how it constructs its world, it makes a story about overpowered characters enjoyable and is fleshed out by a large yet distinct cast of characters that are capable and have a purpose. It also is one of the best villain centric anime and makes them interesting and entertaining. Now sure, it ain’t perfect. Not every arc in the series hits ... equal highs, not all characters are interesting and the animation seems to get worse with every season. But Overlord gets what it does right so damn well. It makes for a really good anime in my opinion. So much so that it has become a top 5 favourite anime of mine. I even started listening to the Light Novels on Audible; currently on Volume 3 at the time of writing this review. So it’s fair to say that Overlord IV was my most anticipated anime this season. Now, there were some things I wanted to see in this season in particular which I will tell as the review comes goes on, but I also didn’t want it to lose sight at what makes this series enjoyable for me, especially since it has been a long wait.
So let’s bow TO THE GREAT SORCERER KING HIMSELF, AINZ OOAL GOWN as I present my review for Overlord season four. Let’s begin, shall we?
I will keep spoilers to a bare minimum but I imagine those reading this review are along for the ride like I am. But to summarize the setup, the sorcerer kingdom has been established and Ainz is looking to attract adventurers and traders to the kingdom and to patch up things with the Re-Estize kingdom. He also wants to look for the Dwarven kingdom for his curiosity of rune smithing and the resources the trade agreements will bring.
As is tradition when it comes to Overlord, world building takes top priority. Now that Nazerick and its denizens are more well known now, we need to see how the rest of the world reacts and responds. You obviously have the Re-Estize kingdom trying to maintain stability after what happened in season three, the Baramuth Empire and it trying to keep it’s relations between the Sorcerer kingdom and the Slane Theocracy balanced on good terms and the Slane Theocracy watching from the sidelines figuring how to deal with Ainz and his forces. The Slane Theocracy is the one that has gotten the least attention over the past three seasons and little has changed, although we find out more about their leaders, how they deal with things and their relation to the Empire, but I was hoping we could see more, especially with the two characters that were introduced at the beginning of season two and we still know nothing about them. To be fair though, it does sound like the Slane Theocracy will get more focus in the movie so that’s a wait and see. For now though, while it’s nice we got to know more about them, it just doesn’t feel like it’s enough.
As for the arcs, there are three this season. The first arc is a nice continuation from the last arc of season three and seeing how these nations reacted to the might of Nazerick and the establishment of the Sorcerer Kingdom. The second arc is focused on the dwarvern kingdoms and it’s honestly the weakest part of the season for me. Finally, the last arc addresses one of my expectations that I will get into. Starting with the dwarven arc, it does continue to show one of Overlord’s biggest strengths, it’s world building and giving it the time to let us see this world more and giving us good reasons for doing so. But in execution, it’s not done as well as previous arcs in the series. It’s mainly because of how it establishes these new characters. Overlord has a large cast but why that is hardly a problem is because of how they make use of their screentime by picking up things from their personality and thoughts without dragging it on and using them in the right moment to help establish them and giving them their own moment to shine, regardless of it being brief or not, to make them memorable and recognisable when they are on screen. For example, while Zaryusu Shasha has hardly appeared after the Lizardmen arc in season two, he still had his moment to shine when he fought against Cocytus to make him memorable and recognisable in later seasons. This arc lacks that, it lacks that kind of character moment that makes them recognisable. Not to say there aren’t any, probably the closest would be the leader of the Quagoa (a subterrian race at war with the dwarfs), Pe Riyuro and his tough decision he had to make for the sake of his people. But the dwarves don’t have that really, even though the focus is on them. Despite it being paced well and having some nice brief character moments, mainly with the denizens of Nazerick, it is an arc that doesn’t reach the highs of the series best due to it lacking that moment to make the characters stand out. Not to say they aren’t memorable, but given how Overlord operates, they might not get the time they need. That also doesn’t mean I don’t think they can’t get their moment to shine. This season has proved it can happen with Prince Zanac. But for now, you can recognise them but they lack a compelling moment to make them truly stand out.
As for the other two arcs, they both address one of the things I wanted to see this season do and that was give a sense of payoff to all of this world building. This is because this series is focusing on building its world and has nothing really to make use of all this world building The second arc was obviously to continue that world building but the first and third arc this season was more focused on delivering that payoff. We now see how the main three human nations react to a force that is overwhelming and what their best course of action is and does this by using its established characters while giving us some new ones and see what the next course of action is. This is what makes these two arcs work because of those characters and world it developed and uses them to make a big impact on the plot. Even more smaller details like how Ainz (not Momon) uses Clementine’ Stilettos in a gladiatorial fight. It takes its world building, characters and story moments and uses it in exciting ways to make these arcs fun to watch because now you are just seeing this all unfold and because it took its time to show it, it leaves a more lasting impact.
(This is going to be a long review for me to do, isn’t it?)
Overlord’s other main strength has always been its characters. Overlord has never always focused on Ainz and likes to showcase the other characters of this world as well to help establish what this world is like and it has always been for the better. It helps change perspective on things from a different pair of eyes as to how they would react to a force that is beyond them and wonder if they will make out of this unscathed and wish the bad people get f**ked up for something we know they shouldn’t have. Following overpowered characters everywhere will eventually get boring so how about we look at it from another perspective, get to know them better and pray for their lives or wish they were killed if they deserved it What also helps is that they don’t throw everything at you, so you know they still have tricks up their sleeves. It what keeps Overlord’s overpowered characters refreshing and doesn’t fall into the traps of other power fantasy Isekai. Season four is no different. It still follows other perspectives as you will see but now the situation is on thin ice as anything could happen to provoke the Sorcerer Kingdom. One spark could set up a bomb that would annihilate everyone and now you see some characters trying to think their way around this, while others are just f**king things up for themselves and the people around them.
The three main characters that stood out this season was also the standout character from each arc. Like I didn’t do it on purpose, it just kind of went that way. So the first standout character from the first arc is easily Emperor Jircniv mainly because of his growing paranoia. It was very funny seeing him losing his mind due to him being downright terrified of the might of Ainz and the rest of the Socerer Kingdom. It was also a good continuation point after season three as to how he would react to what happened at the end of last season. Seeing a man who was prideful and smartly aware now has been reduced to the opposite of that was very entertaining as you now see how the power of Ainz Ooal Gown is affecting people who have lived to tell the tale. It addresses another thing I wanted to see this season is how will the people of this world who don’t bow down to Ainz react to a force that is seemingly way stronger than them and seeing Jircniv losing his mind to fear and paranoia is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. Even if the truth would be muttered, he would still doubt it to be true and it’s nice to see one of my favourite characters from season three continue to be one of my favourites.
The second arc’s standout to me was Shalltear. After her blunder in season one that turned her into a glorified chair in season two, seeing her trying to redeem herself was really the main selling point of this arc for me. You could tell that she really is trying to take note of everything Ainz does to make up for her mistakes but also do what Ainz wants his subordinates to do and that’s think freely for themselves, which Shalltear also takes to heart. It just goes to show that its not just the characters outside of Nazerick that makes this cast feel lively but also the residents of Nazerick as well that help round out this cast and actually gives them excuse to have reasonable character development to monsters who don’t need to get any stronger and need other ways to give them growth.
The third arc’s standout is Zanac, prince of the Re-Estize kingdom and is probably the most distinct character this season because my word, there has been a complete 180 turnaround of his character. In season two, we were introduced to him as a snobby, greedy, fat b**terd of a Prince that you wouldn’t mind seeing perishing. This season though, a completely different perspective of his character, showcasing that he is a dauntless man that when push comes to shove, he will do what is right. It shows why the show’s focus on its supporting cast is just as important because without, you wouldn’t really care what happened to him and he would just be another name for Ainz and co. to roll over. But the fact we are given the time this season; we see his resolve, it changes your outlook on not just him, but all characters like Brain Unglass starting out as a thief in season one to a fearless warrior by the end of this season. Zanac is a prime example of this season however and is one of the highlights of this season as one of its standout characters.
That’s not to say the rest of the cast wasn’t enjoyable. Hell, for the criticism I had for the second arc, I still liked the characters that were introduced with the standout being Hejinmal, a bloated frost dragon who was smart enough to know that he didn’t stand a chance against Ainz and co. And then there is Philip, a poor noble and a complete delusional and cocky b**terd who thinks he can eventually get what he wants, even trying to win the favour of Albedo when we all know that he essentially planting his own death flag. Characters that have already been established get good moments. Albedo seems to get thirstier with each season and it’s very cool to see her and princess Renner hit it off. Ainz still seems to be winging it and it seems to get funnier with each passing moment when the situation gets bigger and more complex with the usual, “SASUGA, AINZ-SAMA,” to top it off. I could go on and on about other characters like the members of the Blue Roses, the Dwarfs, the other floor guardians of Nazerick, Pandora’s actor, but I think you get my point. All characters, no matter how relevant to the plot, can leave a lasting impression that will make them recognisable later down the line. While Ainz is the central character in all this and still easily stands out as one of, if not, the best Isekai protagonist in anime, it’s the cast around them that helps make this truly special. But like I said a couple of sentences ago, what makes Ainz just as good in this season as in previous seasons is that now that the situation is escalating, him basically going along with it is causing him more trouble than its worth and actually gives him a new different kind of challenge, rather than a straight up fight because we will know who would win.
(Yep, it’s going to be a long review)
Animation was going to be interesting to watch because Overlord was slowly dipping in that aspect due to the increase use of CG that looked like ass. It was one of things I wanted to see this season was were they going to improve the CG? I can say though they have improved in some aspects in the CG department but in other ways, it looks like they’ve gone back to things we hated about it. Some of the CG problems last season had reared its ugly head here as well, with same face soldier syndrome that plagued last season has also appeared this season as well, although less egregious than last time thankfully. But there are some notable scenes in this show where the CG has improved when its less focused on massive blobs and more individual characters. The big fight in episode twelve is the big standout here where it has noticeably improved so it is actually a fun fight to watch. In terms of traditional animation, Overlord as always been solid in that department with the character designs as well helping them be more distinct from one another, although drawing them at a distance has not yielded best results. In summery there have been some improvements in the animation department but some things still hold them back.
Soundtrack pretty much remains the same, being a grandiose feeling ost that can really sell a scene but also stand out in its own way. Here, it’s no different, it’s still used well and it still does well to enhance the scene its being used. It just sells the might of Nazerick by having something loud to tell you who is the real power here. But also have more light hearted soundtrack when it wants to step back and relax for a bit. One of my criticisms in season three though was the lack of standout new tracks. Here, it’s no different because the ones I remember being used this season, were the ones that were being used in previous seasons. Well, besides the one that played in the final episode. It’s still a great OST, don’t get me wrong, but it is still a gripe.
In terms of OP and ED, unfortunately, MYTH & ROID are absent this season which feels like a crime if you ask me. Their EDs were good while the opening from last season, “Voracity” was the best Overlord OP out of the three. Thankfully though, OxT makes their return with their best OP for Overlord to date. Titled “HOLLOW HUNGER,” this is probably the best I’ve heard from Oxt and I like it over the other two they’ve done because they don’t over rely on using vocaloid when singing the lyrics to the point you don’t know what they are saying like in OP 1. Listen, I like “Clattanoia” but that OP is starting to age quite badly in my opinion. And I think it’s used at the right tone, unlike OP 2, “Go Cry Go.” It strikes a nice balance if you ask me. I also love the instrumentals here because it’s pumping you up but also sound like something you would not usually hear from OxT. It’s smooth, it’s cool, it’s something that you want to learn how to tango under. This is something I can listen to again and again and not be fed up with. In fact, I have. Visuals as well are solid, showcasing its cast in fun ways and provides some brief but good action. If Yofukashi no Uta’s OP didn’t exist, this would be my OP of the season. Is it better than season three’s, “Voracity”? That’s up to debate really because it’s damn close.
Okay, so technically MYTH & ROID are not doing the ED but we do have a consolation prize with Mayu Maeshima, the original singer of MYTH & ROID and did the first ED for Overlord. Now she has done the performance for this this ED, titled "No Man's Dawn". Honestly though, I think It’s the weakest ED in the series. I’m not saying it’s bad but compared to the other EDs, I enjoyed this one the least. The artwork is still gorgeous to look at but that is a given at this point. I just feel like they ain’t creative with this one, showcasing the members of Nazerick in expressions that we already know what they are like, but does it in a way that feels plain. It lacks a bit of chaotic energy, or in the case of season three’s ED, a foreboding feeling (God that ED was so good). Maeshima puts in a good performance but the lack of creativity in the visuals hurts the performance more than it helps honestly. But it is paced and timed well to help make it better. Like I said, it isn’t a bad ED, far from it, but compared to the others, it feels like the weakest. I didn’t think they were going to top season three anyway. To me, they peaked there.
Season four of Overlord provided me with what I was looking for this season. Some needed payoff, the continued world building filled with interesting characters and some improvement over the CG. The only thing I would say is a miss is probably new pieces for the OST. It did stumble in the second arc but was still solid and the other two arcs were really enjoyable and reminded me why I loved Overlord, it’s world and the characters in it. They really are the main selling points and there are few shows that will take their time to get to know their large cast of characters and give them some depth and character development. It makes what happens to them more meaningful and provides a bigger impact than it normally would.
It just makes me happy as a big fan that Overlord is back and also maintains the quality of enjoyment that was also provided in previous seasons. It really puts a smile on my face that we got more when it seemed like it wouldn’t happen, considering it was a rarity for Madhouse to do more than one season. The question is now is where do we go from here? Well there is a movie scheduled to be coming later down the line that will cover volumes 12 & 13, whereas this season covered volumes 10, 11 and 14. Side note, they better up the animation again for the movie. They can’t expect to get away with that quality. Then we may get an announcement of a possible season five two or three years down the line, since there are more volumes to cover but only two haven’t been covered yet. They might just wait until the light novel is finished to wrap it all up. Honestly, I’m not going to say where this one ranks among the rest of them, because it’s right to treat them one collective package that is needed to understand the whole picture that this series provides. One aspect briefly touched on one season could be expanded in another.
Overlord still remains one of my favourite anime of all time and I fully believe in saying that this season is worth a watch for people who like this show. Sure, it won’t change people’s minds that already down on this series but to each their own. I liked it and that is what matters to me.
My Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Overall Score: 8.1/10 Recommendation: Watch It
(Jesus Christ that took a while to do. This is actually my longest review now. Editing going to be a pain in the ass isn’t it?)
(Update: Not as bad as I thought it would be.)
What did you think of this review?
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Sep 24, 2022
A-1 Pictures have always been inconsistent when it comes to the quality of their original shows, for every unbridled beauty like Anohana, there has been unmitigated disaster like Aldnoah.Zero (more specifically, part two) and there is no better example of this like this season where we have two new original shows where they are both on different ends of the spectrum in terms of their quality. Those being Engage Kiss and the anime I am reviewing today, Lycoris Recoil. An anime that pretty much blind sided us as to how good it was. Not to the same level as Paripi Koumei was in the spring ... season this year, but I think general consensus see this as the surprise show of the season. So yeah, cats out of the bag, I think this is a really good show and I’m here to tell you why.
So let’s begin the review of this new original anime by A-1 Pictures, Lycoris Recoil. Shall we?
Japan’s crime rate and terrorist attacks at an all time low thanks to the actions of Direct Attack, or DA for short. An organisation that uses orphan girls as assassins to eliminate any threats. Takina is one such girl who gets into trouble for performing one very questionable action that causes her to be penalized with insubordination and reassigned to a subsidiary of DA, LycoReco, a cafe in disguise. There she meets Chisato, an amazingly skilled fighter who refuses to take a life. From there, Takina must learn to get use to her new life and also learn that there is more to life than just being the one to end them.
The show is essentially split into two different kinds of shows that try to congeal into one another. One half is pulse pounding action where being hesitant for one second could lead to your death, whereas the other half is Slice of Life yuri bait (And they REALLY want us to take the bait) and the budding relationship between our two main leads Takina and Chisato. Two genres that shouldn’t work together but have proven before that they can. It’s always about the execution after all. Here it’s executed well because both genres don’t treat each other like foreign objects. They are both integral to the show’s character development and also helps with the show’s pacing. Sure, going all action, action, action is fun but that requires that the foot is never left off the pedal and Lycoris Recoil doesn’t want to do that because it wants to savour those character moments outside of all the action. The first episode is a great example of this, it starts out all action to get an idea of how DA operates, but then it slows down to reflect on what just happened and when it does, the action ramps up again but in a more different light this time because you have a different perspective on things now. This is reflected across the entire show because there is one central theme across this show and that is, “There is more to life than just taking it.”
The message is reflected in both the story and how our characters grow as the story develops through both how DA operates and Chisato’s more free spirited nature and outlook on life. Chisato has broken out of the of the more narrow minded nature of the other girls of DA so her outlook on the value of life reflects on someone like Takina and the story as a whole. It’s also where the two genres work well together because now you have two clearer viewpoints on the value of life. But the best part is that it doesn’t constantly beat you over the head with it. It’s done more subdued and it’s something you can pick up on as the show goes on.
Is it perfect? No. A couple of times, the transitions between the two tones is rough and it’s message is on the nose about it in the first couple of episodes but that is, more or less, to help set the message so I can excuse that. One thing you can criticize though is how the show tends to wonder about in the Slice of Life moments of the show as it can feel like it’s trying to fill up space before the next major plot development happens. But they provide some very needed character moments that honestly help make show better and showing the growing relationship between our two main leads.
Chisato and Takina are very much Yin and Yang as they both have different personalities. When we first meet them, Chisato is very much a free-spirited, sometimes carefree person who sees more to life than just being an assassin, whereas Takina is more of a straight-laced, to the point person who sees little, other than what she was raised for, killing dangerous people. Two different people taking different life choices but what makes this work is how their relationship is portrayed. Takina doesn’t know what to do outside of DA so Chisato sort of guides her the glories of being more than just an assassin and being more like an average, teenage girl. This is where the Slice of Life elements kick in because now we have a vessel for the show explaining its message and show it off through great character moments. The crucial element in this is their chemistry with one another which is this show’s greatest strength. Chisato and Takina’s chemistry with one another is really good and is the highlight of the show for me. Not just how they interact with one another, but also how they grow with one another, mainly Takina. To see her come out of her narrow minded shell and open up more and more to be a more lively person is an aspect in the narrative that I liked more and more and its kind of subtly done because they don’t tell you she’s changed, you just easily pick it up as the show goes on.
It does help that Chisato’s personality is very infectious as she just oozes charisma with her lively attitude and outlook on life. When the majority of the cast is very straight-laced and more mature, having someone who is just carefree makes her a very obvious bright spot for the people around her to have their lives change and seeing Takina change throughout the show from being around Chisato makes her personality stand out more and make us care about her more. That’s not to say she can’t handle herself in a fight, if anything, it’s the opposite. She’s a very skilled shooter that can somehow dodge bullets by reading muscle movements and fire non lethal bullets that don’t pierce skin but can pierce through metal. Is it stupid? Yes. But is it cool? Also yes and gives her that excuse for her cocky attitude because we know that she can back up her talk. So with a character with loads of charisma and charm; combined with the combat skills of Jason Bourne (because everyone else has used the John Wick comparison) and can dodge bullets like she’s in the Matrix, is there any wonder why she’s general consensus best girl this season?
What also helps is the strong supporting cast of LycoReco to lift them up, with Mika acting as the father figure for Chisato, Mizuki being the responsible older sister and Kurumi being the know it all, little sister. Putting Chisato and Takina into the mix and they act like one big happy family that you end up caring about and they each play a good role to flesh out LycoReco and care about the Slice of Life aspect more. That being said, the members of DA we know about are a bit lacking in the personality department besides the standard ones. Like, there seems to be beef between Chisato and her former partner Fuki, but it doesn’t goes as far as I would’ve liked, with Sakura, Fuki’s new partner, being along for the ride for the most part.
The Antagonists are interesting. I couldn’t care less for Robota as he mainly just whines and brags his way through the show, but Majima is more interesting. Besides being of the aggressive type, he’s interesting because of the one connection with Chisato, their ties to the Alan Institute, an organisation that helps people but also gives them a new, secret purpose in life that they don’t know about and at times, you ask what is his game? What does he want out of this? And it makes for an interesting foil for DA and our two main leads. He’s resourceful, he’s intelligent, he has clear motivation and goals. He really does make for a clear antagonist for the series. There is also another, quote on quote, “Villain” that also has ties to Chisato but I won’t say who due to spoilers but that person is also very morally grey. Clearly, that person does things that are bad that make you angry, but there also things that are also good deeds and thinks of the bigger picture
The animation for Lycoris Recoil is great. When it’s time to showcase some action, the show brings its A-game with it being fast and intense with the photography being able to capture the right moment at the right time. Which ain’t surprising when you look at the staff. Shingo Adachi, the director of this series, has plenty of experience with working with the SAO series as Animation Director up until Ordinal Scale and Tetsuya Takeuchi who helped him with SAO season two as well as other shows like Bleach and Naruto. Say what you want about SAO, its action was always really good and you can see what they’ve learnt, along with their other works, being applied here. But it’s not just the action, it also comes alive with cute character moments, like when Takina beats Chisato at Rock, Paper, Scissors and don’t tell me you didn’t go “ahhh” when she does her celebratory dance, I know you did. The animation does come alive when the action comes calling sure, but moments like that just showcase the animation is consistent across the board and doesn’t cheapen itself for quick laughs.
Character designs as well are also good and they transition quite well between Slice of Life and Action. They don’t look jarring and are able to maintain themselves from being cute to badass action hero with the art style as well looking very clean and polished to round out the how great the animation, as a whole, is. A-1 Pictures bring a high standard for the most part and regardless of the genre, animation is never really something a criticize whenever something comes out of that studio. And having two people who know what they are doing leading it just means that it would’ve been shocking if it wasn’t this good.
The soundtrack is also very good for both sides of the show. It’s able to hit on those somber moments and the more intense moments throughout the show. But the most significant aspect of it though is the timing and being able to know which lever needs to be pulled to get the most impact. It can start out normal, moving at regular pace, then you slow down but you keep the guitar playing to know something big it about to happen and then “BAM,” the violins start kicking till overtime. This show has those kind of moments and is able to nail the timing on them to match the what is happening on screen and being able to do it in multiple kind of scenes is pretty impressive. It does its job of enhancing a scene really well but is able to elevate itself through its timing. Now it ain’t perfect all of the time, there were some moments in the show where the timing of was off. But for the most part, it is able to successfully do this.
The opening is also really good. Titled, "ALIVE" by ClariS, the opening is able to hit the right pitch to balance out the two tones of the show. This is applied to both song and visuals but leaning towards the song because it hits the right notes at the right time without sounding like a completely different song. The visuals are also very good, keeping up the consistency of the show’s animation and the characters animate really well in this. It is able to capture the bond between our two leads and showcases what kind of character they are while not sacrificing pacing to do so. Overall, a very good OP.
The ending as well is also good, but it’s one of those EDs that I know is good from an objective point of view but didn’t think much of it subjectively. Titled, "Hana no Tou" by Sayuri. It’s a good animated ED with a song that is able to lighten up the mood and again, capture the personality of our two main leads very well. But there is one critique which is that a couple of times, the transition into the ED doesn’t work well with what is currently on screen to wrap up the episode. It also uses scenes from the episode that just aired which always rubs me the wrong way whenever OPs or EDs do that. Other than that though, it is a solid ED but I will probably remember the OP more than the ED.
Lycoris Recoil is a great time with a fun plot, great characters, consistent animation and a well executed soundtrack, essentially a well rounded package that is able to nail every core aspect of an anime. It takes what can work and what we are suckers for and makes it fun and enticing that is able to intrigue you with interesting storylines, while also having some dumb fun and being able to strike a balance with both without it being jarring. Compare that to A-1 Pictures other original anime this season, Engage Kiss, which feels like a show that has struggled with its identity and nowhere near as good chemistry between our lead characters and you can see the contrast between these two shows. Lycoris Recoil takes what it knows can work and executes them to make them better than what it would initially seem.
It’s honestly between this, Made in Abyss season two and Cyberpunk: Edgerunners for anime of the season for me. Also add two more girls to add to, what will be, a clusterf**k for best girl of the year. It is a really fun time and I highly recommend you watch it if you haven’t already. Original anime rarely pan out well, but I think it’s safe to say this one did.
My Personal Enjoyment: 9/10
Overall Score: 8.5/10 Recommendation: Go F**king Watch It
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Sep 16, 2022
“Why am I here? Why are you here? Why are we still here? Just to suffer?” Well Miller, I’ll tell you. It’s been a while that I did a full review of an anime that I knew was going to be s**t. Listen, season one had an interesting start but as the season went on and we got exposed to Kazuya more and more with even more waifu bait, combining with an ending that was so on brand with the series, it wasn’t really shocking. It played a lot of rom-com tropes and clichés that it really had little originality besides its premise. Which never ... really got expanded on that much. Season two looked to continue where season one left off (in the wrong direction) and I didn’t really care to begin with since I knew it was going down hill before it even aired. But I watched it anyway and the best way to some up why I decided to watch season two was, “F**k it, why not?” Now after watching it, I find myself asking the question I had earlier, why am I here? I originally planned to do a review on Summertime Render instead of this, but the calls of roasting this show were strong and well, here we are.
The show takes place right after season one, where it ended in a way that helped returned to the status quo. After that, Kazuya goes back to his usual routine of thinking how to get with Chizuru, overthinking everything and wa**ing to kingdom come (no pun intended). That’s it really. There is no major plot development happening as it pretty much follows what it did in season one. For better and for worse. Season two makes me question what exactly is the plan here? It very much feels like we are going in circles here with Kazuya and Chizuru’s relationship and pretty much goes for a, “will they or won’t they?” approach when we pretty much know they will, they are just dragging this obnoxiously long because it’s so obvious; also taking in the fact as to how tropey this show is as well. This all leads to a lot of boredom and frustration because despite we already know the obvious, it doesn’t go anywhere. It tries to lead these little threads dangling like something will change or surprise you but it just fails to fool you. It fails to subvert your expectations because trying to go against the tried but true formula will hurt its marketability. This was becoming a problem by the end of season one and it’s only been exasperated here.
The main reason though I and I’m sure many other people, hate this series is our main protagonist, Kazuya. Kazuya was already feeling like one of the worst protagonists in rom-com anime but this season all but confirmed that not only the worst rom-com protagonist in anime, but one of the worst protagonists in anime period. Almost everything he does is infuriating as he continuously digs the hole he dug himself into and continues to dig. His constant doubts, constantly overthinking the situation, his complete obliviousness, constantly trying to lead Chizuru on, even though she ain’t biting, constantly leaving Ruka hanging that she may have a shot. Think every harem protagonist cliché and Kazuya is bound to have it. He does things that continuously infuriate me and the way treats other girls makes me question what they see in him. He’s also hardly straight with them and refuses to try and set those things straight as doubt constantly creeps in and before you know it, the hole is getting deeper. Mate, look, I know rejection is hard and you have already been through it, but you not just coming out and saying it is only making it worse for not only yourself, but the people around you. He’s just keeps digging and digging until he has become ingrained. He has become ingrained into the hole and cannot escape. He does try at one point to change things but plot convenience means he’s still stuck in that hole.
But it’s not like the girls are innocent in this too. Chizuru was a hardcore tsundere in season one and her tsundere tendencies have died down in season two but they have left a void in her personality to a point where she shows little personality for the majority of this season. She normally reacts to things with a shrug expression, acting like even she doesn’t want to be here as well. Yeah sure, she reacts in the obligatory, emotional scenes to get a tear jerk reaction but for most of this season, she is devoid of emotion. Ruka seems to be more clingy this season as she forces herself onto Kazuya even though she knows damn well he likes Chizuru more. Granted, it doesn’t help that Kazuya is leading her on to think she has a shot. Now if you were to ask me what camp I would stand for this show, it would be camp Ruka. After this season, not so much. She has become more irritating and should really look for someone else because her constant obsession to get Kazuya to love him back is not going to work and we, the viewer, know that. But she goes so far as to blackmail Kazuya to get what she wants, fully aware that it hurts the people affected, INCLUDING THE PERSON SHE IS TRYING TO DATE. So it just comes across as annoying and act as the other option. Again this isn’t strictly her fault, but to say she’s not innocent is wrong as she tries to sabotage things so she can have Kazuya all to herself.
Sumi is just there, again. She arrived late into season one so we didn’t really know much about her except that she is really shy. In season two, it’s pretty much the same, she’s just there to be a cute face. I’m also joining her camp now because she hasn’t done anything wrong, YET. But to be honest, I believe she will continue just there to be cute so I have more confidence in my choice. Mami’s screentime is reduced from season one as she makes infrequent appearances and it’s usually only to stir trouble by checking on Kazuya and see if she can try to belittle him for what he is doing, even though SHE’S TOTALLY RIGHT. The problem is that she comes across like a complete b**ch while doing it, so she becomes just as hateful as the people she is belittling. Another problem is she has nothing to do with Kazuya any more since breaking up with him so why she going out of her way to do it? Is she merely a plot device to see what Kazuya is doing is wrong? Or is it to take out her problems on someone else? If either both are so, it doesn’t feel like the message is coming across well. She played the, “character you love to hate,” mould well but then you see Kazuya on screen doing more and more bad s**t, her main defining trait doesn’t lead much of an impact so she still acts as a b**ch but not in a meaningful way.
All these girls besides Sumi have had their problems as characters grow and they seem to be developing new ones as well. It continues to get more and more degrading as time goes on. Not helped by the fact that Kazuya continues to be a piece of s**t and doesn’t fix the problems that he, himself, has created. It goes on and on to the point where the narrative basically boils down to how far does the hole need to go? Who in their right mind thinks that characters performing actions that only make you dislike them (and not in a good way) and not sensible humans would make for an interesting narrative? Can someone please get Sumi out of this s**tstain of a show before she might become a disliked character as well.
In the animation and sound department, nothing really has changed from season one. The animation is still mediocre at best but the character designs for our female leads are still very pretty. Say what you want about their personalities, at least they are designed to be drop dead gorgeous, with good fashion sense as well. Soundtrack still remains good in my opinion (one of the very few high points) with it trying to capture these emotional scenes better than the characters, but feels wasted in a show that fails to invoke any emotion other than hatred and apathy.
Which leaves the opening and the ending. The opening from season one was actually a really good opening with it being visually solid and gave you the impression that this would be a fun show full of lively characters. While only half of that was sort of true, the OP was still a fun one. Season two’s OP however feels like a poor imitation of season one’s OP. Titled, "Himitsu Koi Gokoro" by CHiCO with HoneyWorks, it pretty much follows the same beats as season one’s OP, except it’s not done as well. It’s not as lively or catchy, nor is there much energy into it. It reuses the same scene when the chorus kicks in and uses a scene from season one to, I guess, match up the lyrics for the song but fails doing so. This feels so inferior that it actually matches the quality of the show.
The ED is just a collection of still images having the four main girls be centre stage. Titled, "Ienai feat. asmi" by MIMiNARI, it feels like a wasted vocal performance of an ED that just looks quite bland in what I can only describe as an alternate universe where Kazuya doesn’t exist and the four girls get along because of it. Granted, it does bring out the girl’s cuteness so I’ll give them that. It is better than season one’s ED where Kazuya was figuratively jacking it (unfortunately not in San Diego) because the only thing good about that ED was its symbolism.
This review was honestly a review of not just season two but also the building gripes that I had of season one and it honestly felt like a review of both season one and two. Season two seems to take season one’s problems but only increases the intensity of them while also creating new problems that this season created. It slowly becomes a rabbit hole of aimless story direction and unlikeable characters that only gets worse the more you think about it. With that in mind, I just want to say this:
I’m done with this s**tstain of a protagonist that treats the people around him poorly and makes decisions that only get worse.
I’m done with a plot that contrives its way to keep the girls around this pathetic protagonist while having no idea what it wants to do next despite knowing where it wants to end.
I’m done with these girls that do things that only make you want to hate them and are simply pretty faces used to sell waifu figures.
I’m done with a series that treats its audience like f**king simpletons by appealing to the lowest, degenerate graphic through clichés and tropes that they know work but don’t do anything to subvert or change to make it feel more unique.
Listen, I’m not saying that I’m above it and I’m not a degenerate. Far from it, I have recently watched Monster Musume. I’ve sat down and watched episodes of Harem in the Labyrinth of Another World and Vermeil in Gold this season. What I’m saying is that it doesn’t try to be anything but appealing to the lowest common denominator that it knows we can be suckers for. Hell, it got me to watch this s**tshow again, but that was because I wanted to see if it would get worse and it did. From what I can gather as well, it would seem that it is going to get worse from here. We’ve still yet to reach THAT CHAPTER yet. You know the one, the one that exploded on Twitter and it ending with Kazuya posing for the cover of the next Nirvana album. That will probably bring me back out of sheer curiosity to see how it gets animated. But for now, I’m done. If you are still able to sit through and watch this series beyond this season, well more power to you mate, you clearly have a higher tolerance to this than I do. But I will be one of those people who will wash their hands and say, “I’ve had enough.”
Story: 1/10 (A story that feels aimless and is trudging through mud at a ridiculously slow pace with what feels like little progress.)
Characters: 2/10 (Sumi is the only you can like because she hasn’t done anything that would make you want to punch her in the face for being a bad person.)
Animation: 5/10 (Animation is still painfully mediocre but the character designs are still on point.)
Sound: 6/10 (Soundtrack is still good but hampered by a slightly worse OP but a slightly better ED.)
My Personal Enjoyment: 1/10 (I’m done)
Overall score: 3.0/10 Recommendation: Don’t F**king Bother
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Jul 9, 2022
Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie is not an anime. No, Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie is a weapon. A weapon designed to supplant all mass produced Waifus. A weapon designed to be a sleeper agent on all Otaku’s shelves of figurines. A weapon that can even surpass Metal Gear in its lethality. Yeah, this show feels like it was designed to house the perfect Waifu. By looking at the show before it aired, Shikmori looked liked the prime candidate to be best girl this season and potentially challenge Marin for the crown of best girl this year. While that is fine and dandy, you still ... need to have an anime to go along with it and this is where I think the show falters.
Sit back, relax and grab your popcorn for the annual “Best Waifu” debate as I present to you the anime review for Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie. Let’s begin
Our lead protagonist, Yuu Izumi has a case of bad luck syndrome as anything he does, bad luck will sure to follow and entering his second year in high school, he hopes his luck will change because of his girlfriend, Shikimori, being able to protect any harm coming his way. Along with the rest of their friend group, Kyou Nekozaki, Shuu Inuzaka and, Yui Hachimitsu, they enjoy the school life and with Shikimori around, Izumi hopes his bad fortune will change.
That sets the basis for the show and how far the show goes plotwise. Yeah, there isn’t really much of an overarching plot here or any plot for that matter. We are dropped in the middle of Izumi’s and Shikimori’s relationship that is going swimmingly and they have a great group of friends. From there, it’s just going from one event to the next with nothing really getting added. There is nothing that makes the show feel different from the start to the show to when the show finishes. Izumi and Shikimori still love each other and they still have a great group of friends. All there is in between is how they get along. There isn’t really that moment that can make you believe that the state of their relationship is going to change. It stays the same throughout and that leads to the show feeling stale by the end. There is one part of the show that presents a possible love triangle but that doesn’t really go anywhere because that would go against the status quo that the show presents.
That’s another problem with the show’s story, the status quo. It follows a lot of tropes you would expect from School Rom-Coms and seems to use many of the cliché episodes like the school festival and the sports festival. The main thing it doesn’t have is the beach episode but proceeds to have a substitute. While it does do these things right and with good execution, it just doesn’t try anything new. It just does everything we’ve come to expect and that’s a problem when they are trying to present Shikimori as this cute girlfriend who is also a badass and yet they don’t do anything exciting with it. They use what we expect them to use but tries to put Shikimori front and centre and make her the star of the show. Like I said, this anime feels designed to make Shikimori a standout character and maker her best girl of the year, let alone the season. They could’ve used her to make something feel more original, but it feels like we’re watching something we have seen before countless times in the rom-com genre. It seems like it wouldn’t matter if Shikimori ended up being best girl this season...so how do we break it to them?
So we should start with Shikimori first since that’s the character this show wants to display first and foremost. She is presented as this girl who is cute but is also really cool as well and give us the best of both worlds. While She isn’t an absolute perfect girl since she can’t cook and is very competitive, they want to show that she can overcome any challenge thrown in her way, even with a bad luck magnet like Izumi. While that does make for good waifu material, as a character, it doesn’t look like she grows as a character. She remains near perfect from start to finish which itself is a problem because it never feels like she is trying to overcome something. They do show her beackstory where you could say she is overcoming something but since that is set in the past, we already know the outcome. Again, it feels like this character is designed to be best girl and the ironic thing is that I don’t think she is close to best girl this season. You’ve got the other best girl candidates from previous years, Chika, Kaguya, Hayasaka, Raphtalia (quality of season two not withstanding), Komi and Kurumi. But this season, you have Anya and Yor Forger from Spy x Family, Ushio from Summertime Render, Desumi from Love after World Domination and others like Aharen and Eiko. She is among the candidates but I don’t think she is a serious contender because the majority of these characters here have something to overcome whereas we know she can always overcome anything thrown at her. Her only obstacle would be combating Izumi’s bad luck. Speaking of which, let’s talk about him and their relationship.
I would consider Izumi to be a wet blanket of a protagonist. Just a sweet, nice guy with no naughty intentions and wants to just be a great boyfriend for Shikimori. But he is a bit of a fumbler and just too sweet of a guy. He just doesn’t have any characteristics that make him interesting as it feels like he is a one note character with one defining aspect to his character, his constant bad luck and how it affects his day to day life. Without this aspect, he is basically like every other nice guy school protagonist but lacks a thing called a spine to be a bit more tough instead of being, like I said earlier, a wet blanket. His bad luck is mainly used as a plot device though for two reasons. One, the comedy and two, to make Shikimori look cooler when she protects him. While it is quite amusing to start with, over time, it just becomes tedious. It’s like how you expect Shikimori to overcome every obstacle, you expect Izumi’s bad luck to strike whenever he tries to do something. Both become very predictable and your interest starts to dissipate and you know that these will counteract each other so it will make them less significant than the show wants it to be.
Then there is their relationship with one another which honestly feels artificial. There just doesn’t seem to be any chemistry between these two and while we are told why Shikimori likes Izumi, it doesn’t change the fact that what we have on screen is not working. It just only gives context to their relationship. We start the show in the middle of their relationship but it fails to make us invest into their relationship. It doesn’t feel like a relationship where they are equals. It feels like a relationship between a mother protecting her son. They don’t grow from being with one another, they still act the same and their feelings haven’t changed for one another. There’s barely anything to challenge their relationship in this show. Izumi just feels like a plot device in this relationship to make Shikimori look cooler, so they stuck these two together in a relationship but with none of the setup or natural chemistry to make these characters want to be together.
As for the rest of the cast, there isn’t really much to say as they act like one note supporting characters you’ve come to expect and much like our two main leads, they don’t grow as characters. The main group of friends are just there to fill the friendship group quota. They can add some different dynamic to the situation and they do get their own time in the spotlight, but they are so underdeveloped that giving them their own time to shine doesn’t work. There chemistry with one another though is ironically better than Izumi and Shikimori’s chemistry and does do a solid job of making this friendship between these people feel believable.
Well that was a lot of negativity, let’s talk about something positive. The animation for this series is actually good, particularly with the show’s photography. The show does a good job of capturing the right moment to showcase how cool Shikimori is. If you are going to illustrate how cool she is, you need to make sure that you nail how you display it and in that aspect, the show does it well with the animation itself being able to capitalise on it effectively. In terms of character designs, they do an alright job of making sure that the important characters stand out, despite that they have a stereotypical look to them. So they do their best to spice it up a bit to make them look more unique from their rather stereotypical designs.
The soundtrack for this series is okay but I didn’t really pay much attention to it due to it sounding simple and standard. It mainly uses a combination of traditional and electronic pianos (played separately from one another) as well as violins. The usual instruments in romance shows. Compared to other shows, it just doesn’t have the same pull, especially when it is trying to ramp up the emotion but it fails to leave an impact. There were only a couple of times I felt it succeeded but not by much. Ironically, it felt doing the trope thing when it came to the show’s music as well when you think about it. They do the standard thing that they know works but don’t put effort in to make it feel original.
The opening is the main bright spot in the sound department. "Honey Jet Coaster” by Nasuo☆ feels colourful, vibrant and has more energy put into making it feel creative than the entire show. It wants to showcase the relationship between Izumi and Shikimori by doing these different things to hammer the message home. Disregarding the problems with their relationship, I think the opening does it well. I main critique is that it can feel like the opening is going too fast and not giving it the visuals to breathe. But other than that, it’s a good opening.
The ED as well is fun to watch with the art style and video game-esque aesthetic. Titled, "Route BLUE" by Yuki Nakashima, is even more colourful than the OP but less vibrant. Through it’s video game vibes, it showcases the lengths Shikimori will go to to protect Izumi from any bad things that get in his way. The visuals are the best thing about this ED and unlike following the status quo where it would probably be a slide show, they put a lot of effort in. Like the OP, it’s also good.
Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie is not a show I hated nor was it a show that I got tired of watching, it’s just a show that felt like it didn’t try to do anything new. It’s a show that felt designed to showcase the best girl of the season and it didn’t feel like they succeeded. Most of the time, you are only as good as the show itself and with the tropy as hell story, underdeveloped characters, a relationship that doesn’t feel believable and a forgettable soundtrack, it just leaves the series feeling bare and uninspiring. The only bright spots were the animation and the OP and ED, that’s it really. Sure Shikimori is a nice character but forcing us to go vote for her being best girl and being so blatantly obvious about it though when compared to everything else about this show makes it less convincing. Very few characters are able to rise above how poor their shows are and Shikimori is a character that really tries to but can’t succeed.
Again, its not a show I hated and not a show I got bored with. It’s just a show that felt like it needed something more than the standard. Instead, Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie is a waifu bait of show that does the bare minimum to make it passable not not enough to make me recommend it. Especially in a Spring and Summer season that had no shortage of Rom-coms, many which have more interesting premises, which makes this show feel worse by comparison. Watch it if you wish, just don’t expect anything that will make you wish for more.
My Personal Enjoyment: 4.5/10
Overall Score: 4.8/10 Recommendation: Don’t Bother
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Jun 24, 2022
Welcome to part two of taking the p**s out of super sentai shows. In part one, we delved into corporate life of the villain workplace in Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department (which was probably the most underrated show of last season). In part two, we now tell a classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, but with Power Rangers and hey, I’m all for it. It was one of the show before the season aired that grabbed my interest. Was worth my attention? Yes, yes it was and here’s why.
Sit back, relax and go go power on your kettle to make yourself a ... cup of coffee as I present to you
the anime review for Love After World Domination. Let’s begin
Good and evil clash in battles as the heroes, “Gelato 5” fight the evil organisation, “Gekko” to prevent them from taking over the world. While the battle rages on, our two main leads, Fudo Aikawa and Desumi Magahara go about on a date while keeping it a secret from everyone else. For you see, Fudo is the “Red Gelato” of Gelato 5 and Desumi is the “Reaper Princess” of Gekko. Two people who are supposed to be sworn enemies are now in a romantic relationship. Despite that though, Fudo and Desumi are determined to make this relationship work and avoid suspicion of those around them.
What follows is a slow but steady growth of the relationship between Fudo and Desumi. Over the course of the anime, Fudo and Desumi try to find different ways to go on dates by coming up of contrived ways to go places like an amusement park or the beach (because what rom-com would it be without a beach episode, am I right?), but they are able to convince them because they have such sway within their respective organisations. It works though because of the light hearted tone this series sets. It just wants to have fun with itself and this reflects with the shows comedy and story. Here is how each episode is set up, so just go and enjoy yourself with how you go about it.
With the story itself, there isn’t really much there. The whole Power Rangers setting is mainly played in the background as it is mainly just that, the setting for the show. It’s used as that Romeo and Juliet style setup to establish the main hook that Fudo and Desumi are on opposite sides despite their affection for one another. Fudo and Desumi are already in their relationship when the show starts but are inexperienced when it comes to romance. But what I think this show does subtly well is how comfortable Fudo and Desumi slowly become with each other throughout the course of the show. You see it throughout the show from when they start being embarrassed of how to do this right to by episode 10, you can see how they have become a great duo and are able to be themselves more and more. They do throw a few curveballs in there to test their relationship but I’ll save that for the characters section because it does do good for character development.
The best part of this show is its characters. Both the main cast and the supporting cast are delightful and give this show life. Fudo and Desumi really make a good couple together despite their obvious differences. Fudo is a workout-holic but with a heart of gold and is not the type of person to back down. Full of determination and only needs slight encouragement from the people around him to get him motivated. Desumi is a sweet and cute girl who is mindful of others, but is super strong and is only really working for Gekko because of her parents. On paper, it doesn’t seem like there is a lot of depth to them, but when they get tested, it does bring the best of them and it does make you legit believe that these two care for each other and wants to find ways to make this relationship work. What results is one of the best couples this season and just seeing them get more and more comfortable with each other as the season goes on makes it that much better.
But it’s not just them that makes this section of the anime great, the supporting cast as well makes it great and they each get their moment to shine. Both members of Gelato 5 and Gekko have characters that are both likeable and entertaining. The members of Gelato 5 and Gekko may fall into archetypes you would expect with a Power Rangers setup but they at honour their role to an entertaining degree. The best part about it however is their chemistry and how they gel well with one another. You do get a good sense of comradely and friendship between one another and some of their interactions can be funny. For example, the brief yet entertaining interactions between Gelato 2, Hayato Oujino and Beast Princess, Kiki Majima. These little moments are scattered throughout the show and help make this more entertaining than it should be.
I definitely like the art style and the aesthetics. They nailed the look of a super sentai Power Rangers show with the shows looks as well as the character designs making them stand out from one another and help correlate with their personalities and if the objective was to make Desumi as cute as hell, then I think they did that despite her skimpy looking design. That aspect the show nails down well, it’s just when it comes to animating where it we get some issues. It doesn’t feel like they cheap out to a ridiculous degree but there multiple times in this show where they clearly didn’t put much effort in to animate it and use sliding images or shaky camera to give that appearance. It’s a shame because they’ve proven in this series that they can do it, look at the fight between Desumi and Haru in episode four and you can see that they can do it, it’s just that they don’t do it consistent enough.
Very thematic with the tone of the show. Like the art style, I think it does a good job of capturing the spirit of super sentai Power Rangers during the shows fights. When it comes to down time, it does carry it’s own varied tracks to match the tone but it doesn’t stand out as much when compared to the energy filled tracks the show provides. Even then, that’s if they play something in the background. Half the time, it’s silence; which usually happens in between the shows more important scenes. Obviously, you aren’t going to hear the ost throughout the entire episode but it feels like it stands out more in this show than other shows. It is a solid soundtrack overall even if most of it is something I will quickly forget.
The OP sound like a combination of a light-hearted, romantic show and a super sentai opening. Titled, Koi wa Explosion" by Masayoshi Ooish, it does a good job of capturing the tone and the theme of the show of romantic Power Rangers using a song that captures the spirit of both type of shows. The visuals do lean to being more of a super sentai show but there are scenes to show off the romantic angle and the song does more than enough to carry the weight. Overall, a solid opening.
In my opinion, the ED, "Koi wa Sekai Teiri to Tomoni" by DIALOGUE+, had one objective, to make Desumi as cute as we can possibly make her. Did they succeed? Yes, yes they did. While there isn’t much there in the animation department, the art still does a good job of making Desumi cuter than she already is with the song helping for the ED to move at a nice pace. It’s just a sweet ED to make Desumi cuter.
Love After World Domination is a fun show that uses it’s gimmicks to create an experience that was worth sitting down and watching. It’s fun and likeable cast of characters combined with the shows themes and aesthetics makes for an anime that can be loved, even if your not familiar with super sentai types of shows. Because unlike Miss Kuroitsu from last season where the genre was so ingrained into that show, this type of show treats it like you don’t need to be a fan to enjoy it. It’s used as a theme to tell a sweet Romeo and Juliet type story about two people on opposite sides falling in love with one another. Could we have had more in the story department and better production values? Sure, but what we got was good enough to be recommend for anyone looking for a fun rom-com and in a season full of them, this one is worth it.
My Personal Enjoyment: 8/10
Overall Score: 7.2/10 Recommendation: Watch It
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Jun 23, 2022
We all carry secrets that we prefer not to share. We rather not use those secrets to ruin the relationship with the people around us. In order to keep close to someone, we tuck it away to be forgotten and to make sure it does not harm you or other people. Sometimes though, those secrets bubble up onto the surface to the point you can no longer hide them. Through slipping up or it being revealed by someone else, a secret we rather not share could affect you and/or the people around you. But only then, will this be a true test to see if ... these people actually care about you.
We find ourselves in this kind of scenario today. About a group of friends being trapped together to test the bonds between each other and revealing their true nature at their most desperate of circumstances.
Sit back, relax as you get yourself out of debt by ruining your friendships as I present to you the anime review for Tomodachi Game. Let’s begin shall we?
The story follows a group of friends, Katagiri Yuuichi, Shiho Sawaragi, Tenji Mikasa, Yutori Kokorogi and Makoto Shibe as they enjoy their harmless school lives and look forward to a field trip. However, the funds for the field trip are stolen and they begin to be wary of each other about it. When they are arranged to meet up outside the school, they are attacked by unknown assailants and wake up in a Euphoria type room (don’t worry, it doesn’t go there). From there, we meet Manabu-kun who tells them that they are all have a debt 20 million yen and must play games to test their friendship and clear their debt.
It’s sort of like an involuntary version of Squid Game but instead of it being life or death, it’s meant to break you mentally and shatter any relationship you have with other people. The first couple of episodes do a good job of reeling you in through unresolved hooks and psychological warfare to get you hooked (well, for me at least). Seeing as we know little about these characters other than their personalties, you wander what kind of things these characters are hiding that they don’t want to reveal. It slowly becomes a game of trust and mind games to rat each other out. For example we get revealed early on that there is a traitor within the group (because come on, of course there is), but we don’t know who it is and what the show does really well is make you guess who this traitor is. Could it be the quiet yet adorable Yutori. Could it be our main protagonist Yuuichi who could be fooling everyone, even the viewer that he was the cause of all this happening. This is something I wished the show would hold it cards on for longer to give that psychological edge but blew it too early and kind of affected the overall psychological enjoyment of the show but it does have some good mind games to make up for it later on to counteract this reveal.
Something I want to criticize the story for though is its stop and start pacing. Some parts of the show for example, just stop and give backstories to these characters. While that is perfectly fine, the backstories can feel like they have been going on for too long at times. When you are trying to develop a mind game between the characters, you don’t want to be out of it for too long, otherwise, your attention starts slipping. It’s annoying because what we get with the psychological warfare is really good but can struggle at times to find that balance to keep the pacing consistent. It’s kind of annoying because when it clicks, it just gets so engrossing and you have to keep watching. The story also has the, “I’ve always known, I just waited for you to fall into my trap” cliche that it uses quite a bit but thankfully, the execution was on point for this show.
I wouldn’t say the characters are likeable because it felt like throughout this series they weren’t meant to be. They are flawed individuals that carry some baggage that they don’t want to reveal and as the show goes on, we start to see their true nature when in a desperate situation. It’s all meant to be entertaining when these characters are tested about their friendship and if it is actually stable. Yuuichi, for example, is not a good person considering how he uses everyone as his pawns to achieve it ends. But, he is an entertaining character as he has a sort of Light Yagami vibe to him because he has villainous tendencies despite having some good intentions. It makes him probably the most entertaining protagonist this season because you don’t know what his true agendas are.
The personalties however, fall into the generic stereotypes that is common with this kind of friend group. You have Yuuichi, the middle man. Shiho, the straight person and member of the student council. Tenji, the smart, logical one with glasses. Yutori, the cute, innocent one. And then Makoto, the laid back, jokester of the group. They all carry these standard personality traits and only a couple of them actually break out of this and expand. Yuuichi obviously but also Tenji who actually expand on their stereotype and Kogorogi at literally, the very end of the show. I do see why they did this. These characters have a stereotypical personality and here is how they are going to be broken down when they have their backs to the wall, but they were only really able to execute well with two, arguably three, of the characters and rest it felt like they did the minimum to say that the y did it.
As for the rest of the cast, there isn’t really a lot to say. They also fall into stereotypes that don’t really expand. You have the members of management, overseeing the Tomodachi game who act as vessels to elaborate the scenario we see on screen and don’t offer much else besides the occasional shock when they are surprised as to how the main cast would act. They can be useful and they have solid personalities but there isn’t much else. Then there is Manabu-kun who merely acts as our main cast’s overseer, explaining and elaborating the rules and watching over them. The only thing is that keeps him slightly entertaining is his multiple personalities, depending on the game they are playing. The characters are carried by the main cast and while they absolutely shine in most scenes, sometimes, what they are trying to do doesn’t work. Does it mean I hate these characters? No, because they are really entertaining when push comes to shove and their stereotypes start to break down
Overall the animation is fine. For shows like this, you don’t expect too much in the animation department since your focus would be on the dialogue and the characters. Still though, you don’t want to be bad, otherwise it would be an unnecessary distraction; which it wasn’t thankfully. The focus was clearly on the character expressions to give the fear, the shock and the massive grins on these character faces. In terms of effect, it ranges from little effect to “oh s**t, here we go” and it’s usually when the characters have those grins that make it towards the latter because you know s**ts going to go down when it happens. It gets me excited when it happens because it leads to the best moments.
Mind you though, that does make up for the fact because these designs are so bloody generic. They look like how you would think these characters would look like with these personalities and that goes for all of the characters minus Manabu-kun as he is able to rock different looks well despite the CG. They are the basic 101 for how these characters should look like and they did nothing to slightly change them to make them look less generic. It really is the worst thing when it comes to the animation.
A lot of the show’s soundtrack plays in the background and is mainly used to add to the atmosphere. The main focus is always what’s on screen so the soundtrack doesn’t really stand out. It is varied though, depending on the mood so it does at least match well with whatever is on screen.
The OP and the ED though, are much more noticeable as I really do like both. The OP, "Double Shuffle” by Nana Mizuki, is an OP that really helps sets the tone at the beginning of the show with it playing coy. It uses imagery to get us to think about who is truly wicked and use the symbolism of money as the reason why. You got one image of hands reaching out for money, showing the greed of people that money can bring out. You got another scene with our characters faces constantly changing behind a fence with Yuuichi grabbing it at the end as to represent who Yuuichi could trust and who is just playing a good poker face. There is just a lot of good imagery used in this opening that is backed up by song with a great and catchy rhythm to make it one of the best OPs this season.
The ED as well is arguably just as good. "Tomoshibi" by saji gives us a hint into the secrets that our characters are hiding. Some more blatantly obvious than others but they do like to play coy as well just to make sure it gives you something to guess. I also like the very last image, it just a nice way of confirming to us that this friendship will not go unscathed. But it really is the song that carries this ED just working in time with the visuals and just generally being a good song to listen to.
Despite my criticisms, I REALLY enjoyed watching Tomodachi Game. The psychological mind games this show provides with its entertaining characters really makes this show a good watch. It nails one of the crucial aspects of an anime, it’s enjoyable to watch. Even if this show had way more flaws, I would have still enjoyed it because it has that entertainment factor to make it a fun watch. That doesn’t mean it’s free of flaws. The inconsistent pacing, the stereotypes and cliches and their unoriginal designs are legit criticisms but what we have is a show that’s meant to put these stereotypes and put it in a situation that pushes them to the limit. That part makes up for the fact.
If you’re into shows with mind games and trying to play 4D chess in a high stakes like anime, then this show is worth a watch. It is a fun, engaging and gripping psychological anime that really does pull you in and leaves you wanting more and finding out what happens next.
My Personal Enjoyment: 9/10
Overall Score: 7.1/10 Recommendation: Watch It
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Apr 27, 2022
So after the 6 month delay and a three year wait, we finally have the second season of Rising of the Shield Hero. Season one of Shield Hero was an anime and I liked backed in 2019 and was one of the few bright spots in a bad and overflowed year of Isekai shows and I was very much looking forward to season two. But maybe what caused to back on it in a good light because of the s**t around it like Kenja no Mago and the MILFsekai because quite honestly, out of all of the shows I’ve watch this season, this has been ... the weakest start out of any anime this season.
Yeah, it’s fair to say that season two of Shield Hero has come out as a dud and honestly worries me as to how this season will play out because there are some warning signs already that this could go bad. First off, the pacing feels really quick, not wasting any time to get to the main plot and not expanding on the world or help get reacquainted with these characters again. But it’s not just that, it’s the way this show builds up this new threat because there’s hardly any buildup. Basically, there is this giant Spirit Tortoise that has woken up to consume human souls and it’s up to Naofumi and his party to try and stop it. Yet the build-up to it has been p**s poor. It rushes to the fight and the fight itself is dealt with pretty quickly. Granted, there is more too it than that as it turns out but this happens in the course of three episodes. This is what this season was building up towards and to see it happen so quickly, you can see why this season has me worried. I’m worried that this much quicker pacing is going to badly affect the narrative going forward.
I also have a problem with the characters as well because I don’t find them as endearing as I did in season one. It’s mainly because Naofumi and his crew don’t deal with the hardships like they did in season one and have to rise above it and earn everything. Without that added element, they just feel like standard versions themselves and just makes them less interesting. Honestly, you could say that there would be some forewarning before this season aired. Look at Isekai Quartet season two from 2020 and tell me if the cast from Shield Hero added anything to that show? It doesn’t change the fact that I like Naofumi and his party but this season so far doesn’t add anything to make me like them more. As well as Naofumi’s party expanding this season and yet they don’t really add anything yet. It still feels like Naofumi, Raphtalia and Filo as a party and they are just simply tagging along. Time will tell if they become integral to Naofumi’s party but they don’t interest me right now.
These two major issues are the main reason why I’m not particularly enjoying season two right now. They are negatively effecting the show and is bringing the quality down. This show is missing key elements like its world building and having to earn what they deserve and without those elements, it just feels inferior and is only a continuation by popular demand. And remember, there is also a season three confirmed as well. Hell, even this season’s opening feels inferior to season one’s OPs. There is obviously still time for this season to get back on track but from what has been shown to me, It makes me worry that this season will probably end up being a disappointment.
Story: 3/10 (Rushed pacing and poor build-up left the main plot line of this season underwhelming)
Characters: 5/10 (Feel like bog standard versions of themselves)
Animation: 7.5/10 (Glad to see Kinema Citrus are keeping it up with the animation)
Sound: 7/10 (Still like the soundtrack but the OP and ED feel inferior this season)
My Personal Enjoyment: 4.5/10 (The lack of the elements that made the series interesting combined with the flaws that this season developed leaves me worried)
Overall Score: 5.4/10 Recommendation: Consider it
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Apr 2, 2022
I will always encourage people to watch as much anime as they can from each season. You don’t necessarily have to sit down and watch all of it, but you might find a hidden gem. A show that flies under the radar that you may not have considered watching. This is more important than ever this season because with the amount of shows you look at once and then never touch again, you may have not given this one a chance. Well I’m going to tell you why you should give this one a check.
Sit back, relax and work on your awesome Tokusatsu intro ... as I present to you the anime review for Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department. Let’s begin.
“As long as good exists in this world, so, too, shall evil thrive. But behind this eternal clash of good and evil, there is another battle that goes unseen.”
Which usually leads us to our main protagonist, Touka Kuroitsu. Touka is part of the evil Agasita organisation and works for the branch of developing monsters to beat the various Tokusatsu heroes scattered around Japan. However, the team struggles to develop a monster capable to defeat the hero “Kenshin Blader.” So Touka is determined to develop a monster that will defeat Blader and get what she desires the most. A promotion to the executive branch.
What I like the most about this show and becomes more obvious as time goes on is that this show likes to wear multiple hats. What I thought was going to be a simple parody of the Tokusatsu genre from the villains perspective turned into more of a parody of common, Japanese businesses and shows off multiple instances where it can give workers headaches. Budget costs, compromises, working and agreeing with other departments, presentations, both planned and emergency, recalls and executive meddling. It all happens across the series and manages to blend well with the evil organisation part of this show. It was what kept me interested in the show and see what they were going to do next. Sure, the villain perspective of the Tokusatsu genre was pretty interesting, but it was this added element that made the story as enjoyable as it was. It isn’t so obvious at first but once you start to realise that it is a parody of Japanese businesses, it changes your perspective of this show because they are doing more than they could’ve done. They could’ve just poked holes at the tokusatsu shows (and trust me, they do), but this addedd element to the story makes it more engaging to watch and was the highlight of the whole show for me.
There is also a couple of side plots as well that were pretty interesting and connected nicely to the Japanese business elements of the story. There is one side plot following Karen Mizuki as she takes temp jobs working as evil henchman that usually happens at the end of each episode. Then there is another subplot for a couple of episodes following a rival evil organisation, Black Lore (which I believe is making a mockery of a Black Company, aka bad company) and how they treat their workers more poorly compared to Agasita where they treat their workers with care. While they don’t influence the main plot, they do act as nice compliments towards the main themes of this show.
Also, because its more of parody, it doesn’t take itself that seriously and as such, is relying on its comedy as well to keep the viewer engaged. To which I think that they did a pretty good job. Sure it wasn’t always “haha” funny, although it did have some scenes that made me laugh, there were plenty of chuckle scenes that made me amused at the situation. It helps alleviate the truth about how these businesses work but it doesn’t muddle them down to the point where it doesn’t make it believable (well as believable you can get with an evil organisation).
This is one of those cast of characters where they don’t generally stand out much but it would feel like the cast was lacking if they weren’t included. That might sound like a “What are you talking about?” moment but hear me out. This cast of characters is very solid by the fact that they all carry their own weight and play their own part and use that to help elevate the cast around them. When the majority of this cast is doing that, it elevates the cast of characters as a whole and as such, making this cast of characters more likeable.
Now there are some characters that do slightly stand out from the rest for me. Touka does do her role well as the main protagonist and acts as the determined worker to do her best to get that promotion. Though, she is never in your face about it and is just trying to do her best which is nice that we don’t need to be constantly reminded. Megistus is probably my favourite supporting character. Second in command of Agasita, Megistus looks like someone who would throw you across the room if you did something wrong. But instead, he is a man who’s best interest is the care of his employees and to make sure everything is running smoothly by taking care of their interests and do what is best for Agasita. He is the kind of person who actually runs the company rather than Akashic, the leader of Agasita, who just uses her position for her best interests, hence where the executive meddling comes from. There are other characters like Cannon Thunderbird, Wolf and Camula but it is the fact they all hold their own weight that makes this cast of characters as a whole likeable and fun to watch. Do I wish some of these characters stood out more? Sure, but they are recognisable in their own way that makes them likeable.
Animation is fine. I would say it is slightly above average because it doesn’t over rely on still images and does animate alright. Really, the standout bit is the character designs as I do like them. From the monster girls to the hero costumes, they look thematically appropriate for the genre we are parodying here, especially the monster girls because you can tell the Akashic has had her executive hands all over them to make then cute. Also, give credit to Megistus to keeping his mask on and still rock wearing a business suit every now and then. For a debut title for Studio Quad, it’s an alright first attempt.
I actually do like some of the soundtracks in this show but once again, it feels thematically appropriate and only really enhances the scene. Some parts of the soundtrack are simple to go with the light hearted tone and don’t really offer much but some of the more action scenes have a soundtrack that helps get in to the mood that this is also a Tokusatsu show. Although I do like that all the heroes have their own little theme song.
The opening is very upbeat with a very nice rhythm to it as well. Called "Special Force" by AXXX1S. The lyrics and visuals help give a nice motivation that no matter how hard the challenge, If you give it your all and persevere, you will come out better on the other side. It also acts a nice quick intro to get a glimpse of this large cast of characters. It is a rather underrated opening in my opinion and really helps get into the mood of the show. It being catchy as well also helps.
Now there are two EDs in this show and one is better than the other. "Aimai Identity" by Maybe Me, just feels like an inferior version of “Special Force” as it gives off the same vibes but isn’t as done as well, although I do like the visuals. Rather, I prefer "Destiny" by Maybe Me because it pretty much acts like Kamen Rider’s intro sequence if he had his own show and will change from time to time, depending on what other hero show up near the end of the episode. It certainly captures the vibe the Tokusatsu shows present and it just makes me laugh as how this show just embraces it and this ED is the cherry on top.
Trust me when I say this that this show offers a lot more enjoyment than it initially seems. The heart and soul of this series is its corporate working predicaments disguised as a Tokusatsu series and it does that so god damn well. It is also complimented by a fun cast of characters and a good art style that help make this show that much better. I would say this show is my sleeper of the season. The show’s good writing and characters make this show a really good time and I think it offers something different that should have made it stand out.
This season has been weak on good shows to watch with only a handful that are worth watching besides sequels. This is one of those shows as it offers something different that it executes really well. So between generic shounen against Daemons, an unexciting, extreme Baseball series or another mobile game anime featuring cute girls, I do recommend that you give this one a go and please don’t let it fall under the cracks.
My Personal Enjoyment: 8/10
Overall Score: 7.3/10 Recommendation: Watch It
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Apr 1, 2022
Say what you want about the quality of this season of anime, at least the sequels lived up to their respective hypes. That should tell you already how I feel about the new season of The Case Study of Vanitas. The first season was one of my favourites from last year thanks to its great cast of characters, great production values and an absolute brilliant ED. So naturally, I looked forward to this second season and to see where the story would end up next.
Starting with the story, my main complaint with Vanitas season one was the lack of an overarching narrative to tie ... all these stories together. Season two sort of addresses this but doesn’t fix it. This season does start tying all these plot threads and storylines together, as if to say season one was just setup and season two is putting it all together. The plot threads start to connect and come into more effect as the story goes on. Yet the show doesn’t give a clear reason as to where the story wants to go. It still focuses on dealing with the now, rather than any potential problems that can come later. Like these two arcs don’t have any prior buildup besides a cliffhanger before it starts but are significant in terms of the plot for the majority of the core cast of characters. There is also a massive plot revelation surrounding the dark spirit Naenia that doesn’t leave an impact on the story as I would’ve liked. Sure, the way it was delivered was fantastic but It’s pretty significant plot revelation and the characters act like it doesn’t matter much after seeing it. This is where I think the show’s comedic tone at times, as much as I find it amusing, can hinder some pretty important narrative beats.
That’s not to take away from the arcs themselves, they are still well told and are very engaging to watch. The first arc takes the bulk of this season and acts as as a sort of narrative high where the stakes get higher than they have before and the characters must act in order to stop it; with the second arc being smaller but very significant for character development. It continues the show’s story strengths, which is their direction, pacing and how our characters interact with it. Only now, character development has taken a step up from season one. I am more interested in these characters in this season than in season one. Now that could be because I already like these characters before the season started but this season continues to go in the right direction when it comes to the characters. So while the story still has the same problems, it still has the same strengths and continues its good but flawed narrative.
The Characters though were always the strongest point when it came to this show. I love this cast of characters and their interactions with one another. But one of the main themes when it comes to season of Vanitas is character backstories. Noé and Domi were the only ones that got a dedicated backstory but this season gave us backstories for Vanitas, Jeanne, Domi again, Astolfo and newcomers Chloé, Jean-Jacques and Mikhail. They are thankfully engaging and help us get attached to the characters even more, while also being crucial to the narrative as they give more clarity into the situation as they do answer some very important questions. While I feel like they could’ve spread them out better over the course of these two seasons, they do contain plot points that would’ve been spoilers for what is to come so I get why they are clumped up here. But then again, you could’ve done some good foreshadowing for what is to come.
In terms of the characters themselves I am so glad that the relationship between Vanitas and Jeanne has developed this season. Season one had its fair share of development between the two, but this season is where I think it has truly blossomed and I love the interactions they had with each other this season. Chloé and Jean-Jacques act as interesting antagonists because while they are the main threat in the first arc, they aren’t strictly evil as we soon learn, the situation is more than just being black and white and there is some complexity to it. By the end, you aren’t rooting for them to be stopped, you are rooting for them to see if they can be saved. Mikhail acts more antagonistic as a thorn to Vanitas’ side but you can clearly tell that something has warped this young boy’s mind. But he wasn’t as compelling as Chloé and Jean-Jacque but still good.
Going back to the story quickly, I like how the show portrays how humans and vampires can both be monsters, especially in the first arc where you can clearly see how Humans affected Chloé’s life and how Vampires affected Astolfo’s through their backstories. It just goes to show that Vampires aren’t just bloodthirsty creatures of the night, they have their own flaws that makes the difference between Humans and Vampires not that much different. It doesn’t go into depth about the human, vampire dynamic than a show like Shiki, but does just enough to make it subtle and interesting.
In terms of production values, it remain unchanged from season season one. It still looks great and sound great and I’m glad Studio Bones is able to keep it up. Although I do want to say the soundtrack has gotten some very notable new tracks that make the scene they are used in much much better. This season has made me like the ost more as its usage is very good. But I want to talk about the OP and ED since they are obviously new.
Let’s start with the ED first. It was going to be VERY hard to top “Zero” by LMYK from season one for me. To me, that ending was my pick for best ending sequence from 2021. I loved the song and it was a great contrast to season one’s more upbeat OP with Noé trying to reach out to Vanitas at the depths of isolation, with Vanitas just simply waiting to grab his hand. It had a great rhythm, it looked great and…...hold on a sec, I need to go listen to it again………...”Was it you that I have been searching for? Spend my life alone and waited for?”…….Ok, I’m back. While I do admire the attempt by "Salvation" by Mononkul, it just doesn’t hold a candle to Zero. While the visuals are on par, forshadowing Noé and Vanitas’ strenuous relationship, the rhythm and pacing of the song just feels weaker than Zero. It really is just the case that Zero was the better song by a mile that doesn’t make this ED as good as season one’s ED.
The OP however, I do think is better than season one’s OP. Titled, "Your Name" by Little Glee Monster, the OP is not as light hearted as "Sora to Utsuro" by sasanomaly, the OP does a better job at showcasing the, “I need you, I don’t need you” relationship Noé and Vanitas has where they are off doing their own thing and end up just looking for each other anyway while the synthesized lyrics and calm instruments play in the background. While season one’s OP was more fun, I feel like season two was more clear and realistic with the relationship between our two main leads. Overall a great OP.
So where does this lead to where to how I feel about season 2? Honestly, I got the same amount of enjoyment as I did with season one. The story was the main aspect of this show I wanted to see happen next and while it does take steps forward, it also takes some steps back and doesn’t address some of the criticisms I had with season one. The characters though are the heart and soul of this series and to see them still being fun and engaging to watch with the new characters not brining it down does make this season still worth the watch. While I would like to know where the narrative ultimately wants to go, the arcs themselves through good pacing, direction and character development do help make up for it.
The Case Study of Vanitas still remains one of my favourite Vampire themed anime alongside Hellsing Ultimate and Shiki and even after I did my review on season one and now with season two, it’s still worth the watch.
Story: 7/10 (While the arcs are engaging to watch due to good direction and pacing alongside some payoff with these plot threads, there is still a lack overarching story to drive the narrative forward)
Characters: 10/10 (This is still a great cast with fun and interesting interactions, only now, their development has gotten better)
Animation: 8/10 (Remains unchanged from season one. Bones still nailed the Aesthetics and animation of this series)
Sound: 8/10 (While the ED has taken a backseat, the new OP and some new OSTs make up for it)
My Personal Enjoyment: 9/10 (This still remains one of my favourite vampire anime and most of the things I loved are still great)
Overall Score: 8.4/10 Recommendation: Watch It
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