Dec 24, 2017
1 of 1 episodes seen
people found this review helpful
I’ll be honest when I say that I never really wanted to watch Kimi no Na wa. There was always too much hype around it and it wasn’t until about a year later that I finally decided that I should pick it up. In particular, I was feeling bitter and sore about how this anime managed to jump to 1st place on MAL in scores, besting my favorite anime, FMA:B, for several months when it was first released. I thought to myself, “How could there be ANY anime that could even compare to FMA:B?”
In fact, I was appalled by the fact that this wasn’t even
a TV series anime - Kimi no Na wa is just a single movie. I had my doubts. Can there really be sufficient character and plot development in a mere 1 hour and 46 minutes of screen time? Can a story which is centered around the cheesiest anime trope - a high school romance - really be any good?
I am glad to say however, that I was pleasantly surprised at how Makoto Shinkai managed to deliver so much, so succinctly, in this anime. The plot is surprisingly delightful - it wasn’t perfect, for sure, but it was interesting enough to keep you sitting through that without feeling one bit bored. The characters were really as rich as they could be for an anime movie and I would gladly welcome spin-offs to grant deeper insight into their backstories. But this anime impressed me the most with its jaw-dropping, stunning visuals and of course an amazing, beautiful musical score to go along with it.
To put it in the voice of the main cast, Kimi no Na Wa was absolutely…
“Nothing more, nothing less than a beautiful view.” - Mitsuha and Taki
+ Very interesting and believable plot twist
+ Excellent cinematography, animation and art
+ Beautiful background music and great rock music themes
+ Great lyrical composition
+ Strong emotional response and drama
+ Great thematic development
- Rather forced resolution
- Minor, small plot holes that can honestly be overlooked
Who should watch?
= Yes, I really think everyone should watch this show
I have to start with the BEST thing about this anime, which is the entire aesthetic that Makoto Shinkai has impressively weaved into this anime. If I had to use one word to describe the type of aesthetic you see, it is “photorealism.” By this, I don’t mean that the images look real, I mean that the images you see are more real than reality, they are in a sense, hyper-real. So real that you basically feel like you are dreaming as you are watching the movie. The colors used in the anime are excessively vibrant, as if an amateur photographer adjusted the vibrance meter in Adobe Lightroom up a notch too high. Everything is way too beautiful, so much so that it feels like a fantasy, which fits exactly with the entire plot of the anime.
As a photographer myself, I want to call attention to the enormous amount of frame-by-frame detail that Shinkai has put into his animated timelapse sequences of real-life Tokyo and (not-so) real-life Itomori which is based on Hida prefecture. Those shots were simply mind-blowing, and it looked exactly like how it would have felt like shooting those timelapses in person, on site, in the real world. It takes a ton of effort to draw each timelapse frame by hand and it was very obvious that Shinkai based his animation out of an actual timelapse that was taken onsite, down to the movement of the cloud shadows across the scene and the little jittering caused by the wind when it sways leaves and other elements in the scene.
Although the lens flares throughout the anime could be seen as distracting, I thought they were placed perfectly. They completely added to the entire dream-like vibe that you get from the anime and really honed in on what the Comet Tiamat represented - a shooting star - something that makes wishes come true. The art was just mesmerizing as if a dream.
In fact, I would go so far as to say that if you removed every character from the anime and screen ONLY the background shots for an entire 1 hour 46 minutes, I would still be so encapsulated by the scenes and would still have to stay to watch all of it. There are so many scenes where you see tiny characters enveloped in a huge, beautiful landscape, whether it is the mountains, or the landscape or the cityscapes. It is as if Shinkai were telling us that the anime is really not so much about the characters but so much more about the places that we visit that brings us, and the characters, to life.
Of course, if I talk about the visuals, I definitely can’t forget the amazing music that is playing in the background as all of this is going on. RADWIMPS really did an amazing job on the rock music scores and those songs (Dream Lantern, Nandemonaiya, Sparkle and Zenzenzense) are still stuck in my head an entire month after a first watched the anime. All of those songs are amazing and are seriously fighting for a spot on my anime playlist.
Aside from RADWIMPS though, the rest of the background music was also top-notch. I recently had a listen to the entire soundtrack of the anime again on their own, without any visuals, and I could still feel all of the scenes and emotions come back to me even though I was merely listening to the backing tracks. That is pure testament to the emotive power that the musical scores of Kimi no Na wa bring to the table and is something that you really do not want to miss out on.
Most the entirety of the first half of the anime were full of funny parts that naturally occur as the result of the male-female body switching phenomenon. There were some obvious tropes in the anime, such as Taki constantly touching Mitsuha’s boobs and Mitsuha getting embarrassed about having to use the bathroom as a male, but there were also moments of ingenuity and creativity. Although most international fans might not catch it, there was a scene when Mitsuha (in Taki’s body) was using the wrong “I” pronouns (“watashi”, “watakushi”, “boku” before finally saying “ore”), much to discomfort of Tsukasa and Shinta. Mitsuha also had these little thought bubbles that popped up to show her inner thoughts, which I thought was really entertaining to see. I also really enjoyed Taki and Mitsuha’s little quarreling with each other through their diary entries as they complained about each other’s inappropriate behavior. (+3 for comedy)
The second half of the anime was basically full of drama and emotion, beginning with the moment of the plot twist. The music played a huge role in this and the anime really hit hard when it needed to. Taki’s sense of despair, Mitsuha’s frantic running, an impending comet that would spell doom for the both of them, and yet the little glimmer of hope that seems to always rest on the horizon like the setting sun during twilight (or Kataware-doki) - all of these were played up really well and very believably, so much that I was really taken for a ride with unexpected turns of the story. (+3 for drama)
The pacing for this anime was incredibly smooth. There were no parts were I was overly bored and no parts where I felt was overly rushed. Everything was executed perfectly - from the little moments where the camera lingered on Taki to emphasize the depth of emotion, to the points where the anime really skips chunks of the plot that was really not necessary to show and could be easily inferred. I felt like Shinkai had a really clear sense and direction of what he wanted to show and what he wanted to omit, and I felt like he hit home all the right spots where it mattered and managed to trim all the parts that didn’t. (+3 for pacing)
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it! (+1 for no filler episodes, duh)
Thematically, the story is excellent. It really doesn’t have much of that romance bit that it looks like it should have, but it has a lot to say about remembering the past and preserving the present. From the threads of Itomori to the architecture of modern Tokyo, we see both Taki and Mitsuha struggling to preserve what is left of their identity, especially in terms of the places they are rooted in.
The meteor that splits from the comet of course, represents any catastrophic disaster that is capable of mass destruction of such memorable places. The Japanese are not strangers to such events. Earthquakes are common, and the memories of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are still there, albeit perhaps forgotten, as Shinkai seems to suggest through the film. You would think that people remember these catastrophic events, but Shinkai suggests, through Taki’s forgetfulness amongst other means, that people actually don’t. In this light, the film can actually be read in parallel to Isao Takahata’s “Grave of the Fireflies.”
Shinkai thus encourages us, through the show, to revitalize our continual commitment to historical preservation, because in it lies a valuable part of our identity that should not be lost - just as in the so-called “Great Fire of Mayugoro.”
My only contention with the story is the fact that there are some minor plot holes such as the fact that the plot twist might not work as well if you actually think about it a little more. (-1/2 a point)
Also, the resolution, while nice, just seemed a little too forced and something that was meant to appease the fans. Sure, it was still beautifully done and all, but I think more could have been done to leave open questions about the anime that many fans would have really enjoyed debating about. (-1/2 a point)
All of the characters are just absolutely great. Although it is certain that you can’t get much backstory from any of the side characters, they are still realistically written and creatively designed so that they interact very well with the mains.
She comes across as a playful person at first, constantly teasing Taki, winking and so on. But at some point in the middle of the anime, you can see hints of a deeper side of her, especially in the scene where she talks to Tsukasa and whips out a cigarette saying, "I quit recently, but..." This is never followed up on in the anime of course, because it wouldn't be vital to the story, but I loved this small addition to really bring out the deeper nature of the character. (+1 for multifaceted)
For most of the anime, Toshiki is portrayed as a bad father. He is a missing father figure in the Miyamizu family and Mitsuha treats him with much contempt. Since we see the anime from Mitsuha's point of view, it is unsurprising that we come to hate Toshiki's character as well, especially when he gets in the way of Mitsuha's plan in the later part of the anime. However, we do see a bit of a backstory in Mitsuha's flashback to the past to the time when her mother died. Toshiki, in particular, blamed himself for his wife's death, and for an undisclosed reason, began to spite the shrine god of the Miyamizu family from that point on. Even when Mitsuha goes to see her father for the last time, we actually see both Hitoha and Yotsuha there in the office with Toshiki, which indicates that perhaps Toshiki still cares for the Miyamizu. In that scene, we see behind Toshiki a rock with the Chinese character for "heart" on it, suggesting that even though Toshiki seems to have a hardened exterior, we are reminded that he still has a heart within. (+1 for depth, +1 for backstory)
Mitsuha's younger sister, even though she is naive about certain things, really added a lot especially to the comic element of the story. Suffice to say, the scene where Yotsuha finally had enough of Mitsuha's weird actions and says, "Yabai yabai yabai!" over and over again was absolutely hilarious. (+1 for lovable)
Mitsuha and Taki
Both Mitsuha and Taki show great character growth as they go through the plot. Their interactions with each other are in fact very vital to the plot and they learn something about themselves through this relationship. (+1 for growth, +1 for vital, +1 for interactions)
*If you do want to hear about what I think about the main characters, you can read on after the end of the conclusion, but be spoiler-warned!* (+3 for ???)
Really great movie that stands out from all the others. Honestly, after watching Kimi no Na wa, I could really understand why it managed to top the charts at MAL and displace Spirited Away as the world’s No. 1 highest grossing anime movie. I think Kimi no Na wa certainly deserves this title even if Shinkai himself, in his humility, still reveres the great Hayao Miyazaki. Definitely, a must-watch!
If you thought that this review was helpful, please take some time to skip to the bottom of this review and click the "helpful" button so that more people can benefit from it! Thank you :)
***SPOILERS AHEAD, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK***
Okay, so you are here, and I really hope that if you are still reading this, you have already watched the anime. If you haven’t, please stop and go watch it, and then come back because you would otherwise not understand anything that I am saying from this point on. For those who are inclined, I have also included timestamps in parentheses if you would like to refer back to the specific scenes I talk about in the anime.
The real reason why I am giving the characters a full score is because this a story with only one main character. The two main characters you see on the poster are really just the same person.
At first glance, Kimi no Na wa appears to tell a story about the intersecting lives of two people through a combination of body-swaps and temporal shifts. However, upon closer inspection, Kimi no Na wa is about a rural girl, Mitsuha, reborn as a urban boy, Taki, who seeks to recover the sparse remnants of their distant past and save it. Initially, one would presume that the mysterious power bestowed upon the Miyamizu family by the shrine god is what allows Mitsuha and Taki to swap places in their sleep (1:05:30). However, no such body-swap is taking place and instead, it is merely Taki who is struggling to piece together his past in pursuit of his lost identity, Mitsuha. This leads to the conclusion that Mitsuha and Taki are actually the same person, with the same “soul” - that is, the invisible, immaterial container of human consciousness, mind and memory. In 2013, Mitsuha lives in Itomori, a rural town. Mitsuha, by masticating rice and spitting it out into a vial, puts half of her soul, henceforth referred to as the “preserved half,” into the Kuchikamizake, which is left in the underworld at the shrine god’s resting place. Mitsuha is then killed by a meteorite and, due to the gravitational distortion of time by the comet’s passing, the remaining half of her soul is reborn as Taki in 1999, henceforth referred to as the “reborn half.” In order to avoid a contradiction where the same “reborn half” meets itself in the same world, Taki only begins to recall fragments of his past in 2016, 3 years after Mitsuha’s death. After Taki finds the shrine crater and consumes Mitsuha’s saliva from the Kuchikamizake, the preserved half goes back in time as Mitsuha in 2013 to avert the disaster. Meanwhile, the shrine god takes away Taki’s memories of Mitsuha as a price for entering the underworld and the reborn half within Taki continues to survive in 2016. With incomplete memories of each other, Taki and Mitsuha finally meet in Tokyo in 2021 after a long search. Thus, Kimi no Na wa is a story of Taki’s journey of reconstructing his lost past.
The overarching concept of reincarnation is commonplace in Japanese society, which has been historically and culturally exposed to the tenets of Zen Buddhism. However, the idea that the same soul can exist in two different bodies simultaneously is novel. Both Taki and Mitsuha have missing mother figures – just as Mitsuha’s mother passed away (1:02:17), Taki’s mother was also absent from the story. Also, both Taki and Mitsuha have two close friends from school – just as Mitsuha hangs out with Teshi and Sayaka (10:58), so does Taki hang out with Tsukasa and Takagi (21:44). Furthermore, both Taki and Mitsuha have the image of water in their names – Miyamizu, which is Mitsuha’s family name, means “shrine water,” while Taki means “waterfall.” These close parallels between the lives of Taki and Mitsuha hint that they share the same reborn half of the soul, even though each of them seem to have a separate consciousness. Early on in the anime, Teshi provides an important clue when he mentions the possibility of Mitsuha’s consciousness existing in an Everett multiverse (10:12). Named after Hugh Everett, the Everett multiverse refers to the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics which posits the existence of multiple alternative universes that branch out over time as events occur. In particular, an applicable variation of this theory is called the many-minds interpretation (MMI) which states that instead of the universe branching out into different timelines, it is the observer’s mind that branches out into multiple states of consciousness. Under the MMI, the reborn half can exist in a quantum superposition between both Taki and Mitsuha’s bodies from 1997 to 2013, thus allowing Taki to experience a separate state of consciousness from Mitsuha. In this manner, both Taki and Mitsuha are able to coexist in the same world, at the same time, as the same reborn half.
Although it seems like the body-swap phenomenon is a central element in the anime, Taki and Mitsuha’s body-swap never actually happens. The scenes where Taki seems to experience rural life were merely Taki’s recollections of his past as Mitsuha, while the scenes where Mitsuha seems to experience urban life were actually Taki living his own life. When Taki stumbles upon the remains of Itomori, the diary entries that Mitsuha had supposedly left in his phone start to vanish one by one until none are left (51:08). Since iPhones do not spontaneously delete data, this is actually a sign that Mitsuha’s diary entries on Taki’s phone never actually existed and that Taki was merely imagining them. As such, Mitsuha never actually switched with Taki to make those diary entries on his phone. Additionally, when Taki finds Mitsuha’s name on the records of those who died in the Itomori incident (52:33), he still manages to forget her name very shortly afterward (54:56). Furthermore, although Taki seemed to have Mitsuha’s name written on his hand only a month prior to his visit to Itomori (27:08) and seemed to have her name saved on his phone recently (41:41), he still cannot recall the name Mitsuha. This is peculiar because Taki should be able to recall a name that he has been noticing consistently over the past month. Hence, this suggests that Mitsuha’s name was never written down on Taki’s hand or saved in Taki’s phone in the first place. Since Taki had never encountered the name Mitsuha, he would not be able to remember it either. Thus, Mitsuha never actually lived as Taki, but it was Taki who always had a feminine side to him, having been reborn from half of Mitsuha’s soul. However, since Mitsuha never actually swapped places with Taki, it would have been impossible for her to find her way to Shinjuku to meet him on a train by pure chance. The scene of Mitsuha meeting with Taki in 2013 is animated as a blurry flashback, both voiced by and framed in the perspective of Mitsuha. In particular, the scene is shot with the center of the image in focus but the edges of the image blurred out (1:12:43), thus adding a dream-like quality to the entire sequence of events. Mitsuha wakes up from this exact dream at the beginning of the anime, right after the opening sequence (03:47). This suggests that Mitsuha’s meeting with Taki is a projection of Mitsuha’s desire to become a Tokyo boy, envisioned within a dream. Even in the dream, Mitsuha admits that there is no way for her to meet him and asks “What if we did (1:13:31)?” This indicates that Mitsuha is simply imagining what it would be like to meet a Tokyo boy. Hence, the body-swaps never actually happened and Mitsuha never actually meets Taki in 2013.
The anime explains Mitsuha’s time-travelling rebirth through the idea of the Musubi. The shrine god of the Miyamizu family understands Mitsuha’s resentment of rural life and decides to fulfil her dream of becoming a boy in Tokyo. The first clear indication of this comes when Mitsuha cries out to the stars in the night sky, asking to become a “handsome Tokyo boy in her next life (17:01).” While this line is an obvious reference to Taki, it also suggests that Taki is not merely any Tokyo boy, but specifically a Tokyo boy who is born from the same soul that Mitsuha possesses, thus embodying her next life. Also, this line foreshadows Mitsuha’s impending death a month later when the fragment of a comet destroys Itomori. In this way, Mitsuha’s wish to become a Tokyo boy can be read as a will that she leaves behind. The shrine god, represented by the comet Tiamat (1:00:53), then allows Mitsuha’s soul to go back in time to be reborn as Taki. In this sense, time is not linear. Hitoha, Mitsuha’s maternal grandmother, explains that time itself is like the braided cords – able to “twist, tangle, sometimes unravel, break and connect together again (34:56).” As a matter of fact, physicists have already discovered that time dilation, or time-bending, can be caused by changes in the gravitational potential, a phenomenon first predicted in Einstein’s theory of general relativity and extensively used in the 2014 science fiction film Interstellar. Since Mitsuha dies on the perigee of the comet Tiamat (33:20), the additional gravitational potential introduced by the passing comet thus warped time itself and allowed Mitsuha’s soul to travel from 2013 to 1997 and into Taki’s body. However, Mitsuha’s reincarnation as Taki is not nearly as straightforward as that.
Mitsuha and Taki are not just the same soul, but more specifically, they share the same “reborn half” of the soul. Before her death, Mitsuha makes the Kuchikamizake out of her own saliva and brings the vial of sake to the shrine god’s resting place. Hitoha tells Mitsuha that the Kuchikamizake is “half of her” before she leaves it at the altar of the shrine god (36:35). The Kuchikamizake thus represents half of Mitsuha’s soul, which is preserved and protected from the meteor strike that later kills Mitsuha. In this manner, only the half of Mitsuha’s soul that was present in her body on the day of the meteor strike could reborn into Taki’s body. The remaining half of Mitsuha’s soul that resides at the shrine god’s altar is still to be found. This sets up the premise for the entire anime – Taki’s quest to regain the preserved half that Mitsuha had left behind prior to her death. In fact, the anime frequently uses the imagery of the half and full moons to bring out the idea that Taki is essentially half of a soul searching for its other half. When Taki is busy drawing pictures of Itomori, there is a shot of the half moon in the sky (45:42). Also, when Taki visits Takayama-shi in an effort to find clues about his past, he is wearing a half moon shirt (48:53). This is in clear contrast to the scene in the opening sequence where a full moon hangs over Taki and Mitsuha, suggesting that they are two halves of a whole (02:05). In addition, when Taki and Mitsuha meet at twilight at the shrine crater, the full moon of the Akimatsuri hangs over them (1:22:37), indicating that at that brief moment of twilight, the two halves of the person have become one. In this way, the image of the moon represents the state of Taki’s soul throughout the anime.
Furthermore, Taki himself also becomes aware of the state of his own soul and the fact that he was reborn from half of Mitsuha’s soul. When Taki rediscovers the shrine crater, Taki himself comes to a realization that he is indeed Mitsuha and decides to save his past. At the shrine god altar, Taki looks at Yotsuha’s sake and then to Mitsuha’s sake, saying, “This is my sisters’ and this is mine (59:50).” This scene is crucial because it is the only time when Taki in the present refers to himself as Mitsuha. This is an important clue that Taki has, at this point, remembered that he once lived as a girl in Itomori in his past life. When Taki finally sees physical evidence of the shrine crater from his dream in the real world (58:48), he realizes that the fragmented memories of his past are real and that he really did live as a person called Mitsuha three years ago in a town that was destroyed. Then, Taki again refers to himself as Mitsuha when he pleads with the shrine god, “If time can be turned back, give me one more chance (1:00:33).” This line is important because Taki recognizes that he has entered the underworld (59:24) and understood that in order to return to the world of the living, he has to leave behind something that is most important to him (36:05). Taki has realized that the cost of regaining the missing half of his soul is exactly the very precious memory of Mitsuha, the past that he came to acquire in the first place. Stuck in this paradoxical position, Taki figures that the only way that he can save the memories of his past is to save Mitsuha, his past life, from the meteor strike. By doing so, he could open up the possibility that somehow, sometime in the future, the two halves of his soul might be able to meet again in the world of the living rather than the world of the dead. Then, when Musubi sends Taki back in time, Taki re-experiences his rebirth first-hand as he travels back in time to save Mitsuha. As Taki slips and falls in the shrine god altar, he experiences a flashback where he is dragged by a meteor that crashes into the earth (1:01:10). Interestingly, the meteor and its trail resembles a sperm cell swimming toward an egg, fertilizing it and forming a new embryo (1:01:34). In this way, the 2013 meteor strike marks not only the end of Mitsuha’s old life but also the beginning of her new life as Taki. Hence, this association between the meteor strike and the natural birth process further establishes the idea that the meteor allowed Mitsuha to be reborn as Taki.
Kimi no Na wa thus tells the story of a girl who split her soul into two, preserves half of her soul, was reborn as a boy, and then searches, finds and rescues his preserved past self. It is a story that emphasizes the value of history in shaping identity, promotes the revitalization of old, long-established traditions and motivates the ongoing preservation of the images and stories of the present time.
*** END OF SPOILERS ***
Aug 26, 2016
9 of 12 episodes seen
people found this review helpful
BokuMachi is the story of Satoru Fujimura, a grown man in the body of a young boy, his past self, fighting to crack a gruesome series of abduction-murder cases and save the lives of innocent people across two separate time zones, all while evading law enforcement and the actual serial killer. It is a short, action-packed, heart-wrenching story about hope and faith, love and regret, sorrow and joy, but most of all, it is a story of believing and trusting in yourself and in your closest of friends no matter where you are and what time you are in. BokuMachi is certainly one of very
few 12-episode animes that are able to pull off such a complex and deep plot and so well executed within such a short span of time, and is definitely an anime that nobody should miss.
“On that island, I think about the town I left behind. Kids go to school as if nothing has changed. Adults go to work as if nothing has changed.” - Kayo Hinazuki
+ Excellent, gripping, exciting well-executed plot
+ Fitting, coherent, satisfying resolution
+ Extremely good plot twist
+ Great suspense and element of mystery
+ Great drama, emotion and a little bit of romance
+ Cute kids
- Mediocre cast of mostly stereotypical characters
- Unimpressive OP and ED themes and sequences
Who should watch?
= People who don’t have much time
= People who love good thematic development
= People who love a good ending
= People who love mystery, drama and romance all rolled into one
***SPOILERS AHEAD, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK***
It is the year 2006. The anime first introduces us to a mediocre main lead, Satoru, who has a useful, yet slightly spooky, ability which he calls “Revive”, the ability to go back in time to prevent a tragedy from happening. For most of his life, Satoru has only ever had the chance to go back 5 to 10 minutes at a time, but when his mother, on the verge of solving an 18-year-old unclosed abduction-murder case, is killed by an unknown assailant, Satoru is sent back 18 years in time to solve the mystery connecting the two crimes. The story jumps straight into the heart of the drama and excitement, and is mercilessly gripping from the get-go, setting a perfect stage for one really good ride, and I’m glad to say it delivered. (+1 for excitement)
Once Satoru makes the big jump back in time, the story switches gear to the year 1988 as we begin to “recollect” pieces of information about the case and the characters surrounding the case through Satoru’s 10-year-old eyes but his 29-year-old perspective and memory. It kicks off with the first major arc, the Kayo arc set in 1988, which has a brief respite midway with the Airi arc set in 2006, until it resumes and concludes at episode 9. Afterward, the final arc of revealing the true identity of the killer begins. For the rest of the plot section, I will continue to refer to the main antagonist of the anime as “the killer” to prevent spoilers on his identity. If you really do not want to be spoiled however, please skip over the characters section entirely.
The entire story is beautifully written and well-connected from beginning to the end. We see parallels all over the place across the time zones and the anime even spends time reminding us of these just in case we miss them. When I was approaching the end of the anime, I was honestly worried about how it would tie up all of the loose ends and resolve the entire mystery. There were just so many parts of contention that the dots seemed impossible to connect together, and in my mind, I didn’t know what to expect. But the anime completely blew my mind with the killer’s reveal at the end, and I have to say that I definitely could not predict who it was. I had no idea.
The anime managed to drop a couple of red herrings in the form of mysterious unnamed characters and the entire plotline of the killer having to have been someone with access to information on the pizza shifts, and I was completely fooled and baffled. What I do know now however, is that once he was revealed, I began to see that basically everything I had anticipated might pose as a problem finally fell into place. The killer’s motives were well-resolved and I rediscovered many subtle hints along the way that pointed to the culprit. I really enjoyed this plot twist, so I’m not going to say much else but except this - look forward to it! (+1 for plot twist)
The final resolution of the anime was also absolutely on point. Even after Satoru had gone through so much, he realizes that after changing the past, then technically the killer hasn’t committed any crimes since he was stopped. He also concludes correctly that if the killer hasn’t killed him all 15 years while he was in a coma, then the killer meant to keep him alive and would never kill him. Satoru and his friends’ final outsmarting of the killer, exposing him and making him commit an attempted murder was the final blow to the killer, finishing him off for good and tying up the final loose end.
The irony is that for all the talk of hamsters and spiders, where the killer thought he was in control, it was actually the killer who was being controlled by that one surviving hamster, Satoru, and it was the killer himself whose life was hanging by that thin spider thread, since he had nobody to catch him if that thread should break. (+1 for fitting, coherent resolution)
The main reason why I thought the plot was very rich and complex was because of the amount of thought they put into the thematic development, which I really appreciated throughout the anime. I list the key themes of the anime below, with their associated symbolisms in the anime.
Regret and Revival
Sachiko keeps reminding Satoru that “Thinking it’s your fault after the fact is just pointless,” which hints that regret is useless the past can be rewritten. Satoru is then given not just one but two chances to fix his own fate after regretting the decisions he once made. I love the fact that Satoru names his secret power “Revival”, because it totally ties in with the idea that he is essentially reliving his life each time he goes back in time, and it also fits perfectly into the narrative where he eventually “revives” from his comatose state 15 years later. While none of us is going back in time in reality, the anime really hits home the point that making amends for our mistakes is far more essential than simply regretting them, because it is only then we can learn and change for the better. (+1)
Satoru sharing the same birthday as Kayo is not merely just a coincidence but is part of the theme that their fates are inseparably intertwined, since Kayo’s death also means Satoru’s “death” (or arrest) and as we learn from the end of the anime, Kayo’s survival means Satoru’s survival. Kayo also persistently hints to Satoru throughout the anime that “they are both fakes and liars,” suggesting that the two have a lot more in common than at first glance. In fact, both are kids raised by single parents, even though both their parents differ greatly from each other. The anime once again reminds us that we live in a connected world where the good things we do for others can bring the entire community joy, while the good things we choose not to do, we may regret for the rest of our lives. (+1)
Hope and Time
In every classroom scene, the back of the classroom features 18 columns of 2 rows of the word “Hope”. Not only does this represent the 18 years that Satoru hopes that he can change, but the 2 rows also signifies the two simultaneous lives that Satoru is trying to fix, his life as a third grader and also his life as a 29-year-old. In reality, both of these lives are interconnected and are really the same life, as is shown throughout the anime by how changing his actions in his past affect his future. Even though Satoru doesn’t know how it will change, he hopes that his courage will change it for the better. (+1)
The relationship between Satoru and Kayo parallels that between Satoru and Airi in many interesting ways. Just as Satoru defended Kayo back as a third-grader saying that there was no way Kayo would steal the lunch money, Airi also told Satoru that there was no way Satoru would kill his own mother, and both scenes add to the overall theme of trust. Also, both Kayo and Airi tell Satoru the same line, “Are you stupid?” at various points in time in the anime, which is a nod to Satoru’s nonsense at times. Also, the snow-filled playground was the place that Satoru and Kayo first meet, just as how Satoru and Airi “first” meet under the snow-covered bridge in the new timeline shown in the epilogue. In addition, both Kayo and Airi have had their parents go through a heart-breaking divorce, which makes finding love all the more meaningful - because it is a rekindling of what was lost, a filling of something missing in one’s soul. (+1)
Winter and Snow
In both cases, Satoru-Kayo / Satoru-Airi first meet in a place filled with snow (“yuki”) which is a wordplay on the word courage (“yuuki”), which is consistently brought up throughout the anime starting from when Satoru first introduces his weird but good older friend Jun Shiratori. Just as how a guy needs a ton of courage to ask a girl out, so here heavy snow plays an important role in signifying the beginning of both relationships. Most of the anime was played out in the winter, of course, because Satoru needed some immense courage to change not merely his own fate, but the fates of those around him. (+1)
The Town Without Me
The title off the anime not only applies to Kayo, who wishes that she could escape the town because she was abused and all alone, but it also has a deeper meaning when applied to Satoru and Yashiro. When Satoru is in his coma for the 15 year period, the rest of his friends are literally living in a town without him, with all of them carrying on their own lives and leaving him behind, but always appreciating what Satoru has done for them. Also, towards the end of the anime, Yashiro finally realizes that Satoru was right about the fact that Satoru was Yashiro’s only reason to live, another way of saying that Yashiro cannot live in the Town without Satoru. (+1)
Additionally, I want to point out that in episode 4, since the time is set in the year 1988, which is a leap year, there is a day in class before the day the abduction happens on March 1, where the class blackboard clearly writes February 29. Well done! (+1 for details)
I absolutely loved the plot of this anime, and I thought it was stellar compared to many of the mediocre 12-episode animes I have watched. Having said that though, I have found a total of 3 plot holes in the story, 1 of which is major, however. Feel free to skip to the next section if you don’t fancy nitpicking.
In episode 6, Airi’s relatives seem awfully too much at peace with the fact that their house has just been the target of arson and they don’t seem to fully realize that they are in a very frustrated situation where they have just lost all of their belongings in the house and they have to find alternative accommodation while police investigations continue. Even if they have property insurance, it is still shocking to have your own house burned to the ground and it is still a pain to have to deal with the insurance agencies and police regarding claims.
In episode 8, the killer enters the bus where Kayo is hiding in and kicks the wall of the bus, probably in frustration that his plan couldn’t get carried out. But if this is a regular haunt for him, then shouldn’t he have easily smelt the cup ramen that was cooked in the bus and notice that something was certainly amiss? In any case, it’s hard to mimic the smell of a storehouse and I don’t think that third graders would have the expertise to masks smells either.
In episode 10, after the killer’s shocking reveal, there’s also the side reveal that the seatbelt was actually rigged so that Satoru would get stuck inside, with no means of escape. Unfortunately, the idea that a seatbelt would be sufficient restraint to hold back an 11-year-old is utterly ridiculous. Please, give me a break, for a kid that small in size, it’s beyond easy to get out of that seatbelt if he really tries to. Not a very a good plan, and nice try, anime, but I’m not convinced at all.
Still, the plot for this anime is great, and probably the strongest aspect of this anime. It is worth watching the anime simply for the story alone, if nothing else. But let me get to all the other great stuff about this anime in the next sections below.
Animation: 2/3 - The animation was generally very good, and I especially liked the effect where we see Satoru’s Revival power coming into play. There are times when it was jumpy though.
Aesthetics: 2/3 - I wasn’t a big fan of the art, even though it was decent. There was a no effort to make Satoru’s mother look like she aged over 18 years.
OP Sequence: 1/2 - The OP Sequence could have had some improvement, especially for the empty scenes that really made it dull at times
ED Sequence: 1/2 -The ED sequence was a little better in the art department, but was a little too abstract for me and I couldn’t figure out how many parts tied in with the anime.
OP Theme: 1/2 - OP theme was okay, I didn’t really like it.
ED Theme: 0/2 - ED theme was kind of a mess.
Background Music: 4/4 - The background music here was really good and fitting! I always felt like my own mood instantly changes with the music all the time.
No bonus points because there are no additional themes.
Satoru, the single son of a single mother, is the very standard protagonist whose primary goal is to become a “Hero of Justice”, something your typical shounen lead would do. He’s your classic upright, righteous, brave and well-meaning main male lead who essentially leads the entire cast through the plot, most of it thanks to his memories of the future. He is also courageous and daring enough to do things like instigate a police investigation in the Shiratori household, abduct Kayo from her own mother and even go face-to-face with the killer in the final climax without even batting an eyelid (+1 for development). He also has his soft side when it comes to the girls around him, and is always constantly being embarrassed and saying to himself “Get a grip, you’re 29 years old!” whenever he does something that comes across as slightly romantic with Kayo (+1 for interactions). Throughout the anime he moves from simply trying to save his mother, to genuinely trying to save Kayo, to saving others, and finally to taking down the killer once and for good. Unfortunately, he does not have any defining or memorable characteristic and is a rather unoriginal overused character archetype.
Kayo, the daughter caught up in the aftermath of a messy divorce which consists of regular physical abuse, starts off very cold and distant towards everybody because of her lack of faith in the human condition. As a victim of household abuse, she regularly hides her bruises every Monday when she comes to school and is an instant social outcast. However, once she warms up to Satoru and friends, she is really cute whenever she interacts with them, especially when they go out on dates, which are essentially ways that Satoru keeps her from harm. Kayo goes from being cowardly and trapped by her plight to opening up to the gang and even daring to go against her own mother (+1 for character growth), and much of it was thanks to Satoru being very patient with her and gaining her trust throughout the anime. We also later learn the reasons behind her mother’s frustration when her grandmother shows up to take care of her (+1 for backstory).
Airi, a colleague of Satoru who works with him at a pizza place in 2006, is more than a decade younger than Satoru, but Sachiko hints at the possibility of a budding relationship between the two of the anyway. Satoru finds her a little annoying at first but when Airi saves Satoru from being captured by the police, Satoru begins to open up his feelings toward her and they gradually begin to warm up to each other. Airi can be said to be Satoru’s main love interest, and the best part of her is that she dared to give her own boss a hard punch in the face as a means of standing up for Satoru (+1 for bravery). She is fiercely loyal and just as brave as Satoru in her own right.
My favourite character in the anime, Sachiko, Satoru’s mother, has some really insane intuition, which Satoru calls “Yokai” throughout the anime. She always predicts what Satoru is about to do before he does it and she always supports him in everything that he does. Better yet, Sachiko, as a news reporter, cracked the case that Satoru has been trying to solve for the entire anime, back in episode 1, which is testament to her wits. She is also known not to bat an eyelid even when getting sliced across the forehead with a garden shovel and having it bleed onto her nose. Need I mention that Sachiko was also the one who tirelessly cared for Satoru for an entire 15 years while he was in a vegetative state? That’s what love and dedication is all about, man (+1 for lovable)! It would have been good however, if we were given some hint as to what happened that made her become a single mother, as it would have added a lot to her development as a character.
Kenya, Satoru’s closest friend from back in third grade, is probably way too smart for his age but he consistently proves his worth throughout the anime, making him a god-sent aide whom Satoru can work with and fully place his trust in. Kenya is instrumental in helping Satoru protect the killer’s targets, namely Kayo, Hiromi and Aya, especially when Satoru was not around. Kenya’s disposition is generally calm and he maintains this quiet but discerning aura in his conversations with Satoru. Although Kenya doesn’t understand what Satoru does most of the time, he chooses to believe in him and this unwavering loyalty is highly commendable. However, it is a pity that we don’t know much of Kenya’s backstory here.
Yashiro, Satoru’s homeroom teacher back in third grade, actually helps Satoru a lot during his initial investigations. Yashiro is initially painted as a very kind, generous and friendly teacher who never turns away kids who need his help. He even fetches Satoru and his mother home when he sees them grocery shopping at some point. Yashiro’s involvement with Kayo’s case also made him the least suspicious character in the anime, since he was genuinely concerned for Kayo’s well-being and helped her get protection from her abusive mother (+1 for multi-facted nature). As we learn later in the anime, once he is revealed to be the killer, we get a clearer picture of his psychopathic motives and how he planned to frame people and cover his own actions up. His backstory of being unlucky with love sheds some light on his emotional instability and propensity to psychopathic behaviour, while his unusually large stash of candies suggests that he uses them to lure unsuspecting kids. We also know that first, he targets only girls, meaning that he was probably a pedophile (not unlikely for an elementary school teacher) who raped young girls and then killed and disposed of their bodies. We also know however, that he was smart enough to target Hiromi, who looks like a girl, so that he would not get implicated in the affair (+1 for convincing motives). It was also very clear that once Satoru exposed him, he felt completely undermined and became obsessed with Satoru instead of carrying on his pedophilic crimes.
The rest of the supporting cast were also very interesting. Hiromi, the guy who looks like a girl, is like the second cutest character in the anime, second only to Kayo. The rest of the gang, Kayu, Osamu, Aya did not make too much of an impact on the anime. Perhaps the only character that I thought could have gotten a bigger role in the anime was Sawada because he is Shinako’s colleague in news reporting and would also have investigative skills and interest in the entire case.
As a whole though, I thought the characters were generally very typical of an anime and none of them really stood out from the others, so no bonus points there.
One of my favourite scenes is when Satoru and Kayo experience having red foxes in the snowy hills run around them and Kayo says, “I wonder if they’re a couple.” To which Satoru replies, “I’m sure.” And then they are both taken aback and realize how embarrassing the whole situation is. The follow-up Christmas tree scene was also very beautiful and it looked like the anime really turned up the artistic prowess of that scene in particular. (+1 romance)
One of the most beautiful scenes in the anime occurs when Kayo looks at the breakfast that Sachiko prepares for her in the morning, she not only bursts into tears but brings the rest of us viewers with her. Nothing breaks the heart more than seeing a little girl, once abused and broken, finally cry out of pure joy. Of course, there were other very dramatic parts in the anime like the killer’s reveal and every single time we see shots of Kayo getting abused. Those scenes make me shudder every single time. (+2 emotion)
Most of the comic relief comes from Satoru’s conversations with himself or his mother, and they are really quite handy sometimes. I recall the particularly funny scene where Satoru and Kayo are sleeping the same room with Sachiko in the middle, and then Sachiko asks, “Am I in the way?” To which Satoru replies, “Yeah,” and gets knocked on the head for it. While the comedy isn’t much, the anime does deliver enough in brilliant fashion. (+1 for comedy)
I really love how the anime managed to keep up the suspense throughout the entire anime, and I was particularly pleased about how I was always engaged by the little snippets they included at the end of every episode that introduced something new and left viewers dying to find out exactly what happens next. Really well done here! (+1 for suspense)
I absolutely loved the pacing for this anime and I felt that it was neither too fast nor too slow. The suspense was certainly not overboard but just enough to keep to excitement up, while the anime dedicated a good amount of time to developing the plot and the backstories of many characters so that it also didn’t feel like the story was progressing too fast. I have to admit that I watched this entire anime in one sitting just because it was so good and I was hooked.
This anime gets a bonus point for not having any filler episodes. (+1)
Altogether, I absolutely enjoyed this anime to the core! To me, it really seems like a very condensed version of Steins;Gate, only with a much simpler plot line and clearer progression through the unravelling of the mysteries surrounding it. With a solid plot line, a cast of interesting characters and some excellent themes coming out of the anime, I would recommend this anime to almost anybody.
Feel free to PM me or leave a profile comment to tell me why you agree/disagree with what I’ve written here, and as always, thank you for your patience in reading!
Aug 24, 2016
12 of 12 episodes seen
people found this review helpful
Yamada-kun 7-nin to Majo can be best described as a romantic comedy with lots of kissing and a bunch of really cute girls. While the anime starts off strong and very entertaining to watch, it starts to taper off towards the middle and then turns into an absolute train wreck at the end.
“Fighting is not about your body, it’s about your spirit!” - Yamada Ryuu
+ Large, varied, interesting cast of main and supporting characters
+ Wonderfully hilarious character interactions
+ Great emotion and romance
+ Lots of kissing and pantsu
+ Lots of cute girls
- Very confusing and anti-climactic ending
unexplained plot points and unanswered questions
- Lack of a meaningful overarching plot
- Underwhelming antagonistic characters
Who should watch?
= People who love cute girls and non-excessive ecchi
= People who don’t want an anime that’s neither too serious nor too frivolous
= People who have a limited amount of time
= People who want to see yaoi and yuri all in one anime
= People who want a good laugh
***SPOILERS AHEAD, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK***
Yamada literally stumbles upon a beautiful girl, Shiraishi, at a staircase and accidentally ends up kissing her as he does so. This then causes them to switch bodies which is a result of Shiraishi’s witch power and Yamada’s innate ability to copy witch powers. As the story progresses and their romance blooms, they begin to find out more about other witches that exist in the school, with a total of 7, and embark on quest to find all seven witches in order to grant any wish they so please. The plot is hence subdivided into 7 different arcs based on each witch: Shiraishi Urara arc, Odagiri Nene arc, Ootsuka Meiko arc, Sarushima Maria arc, Takigawa Noa arc, Asuka/Tamaki arc and finally the Saionji Rika arc.
I’m not very sure what to make of the overall story to be honest, since there is an absolute lack of any overarching conflict whatsoever and even though there seems to be a purposefulness in the actions of the main cast, they never truly amount to anything and seem slightly frivolous and trivial throughout the anime. Still, the anime did have its very gripping and exciting plot lines, in particular the one surrounding the old school building fire in the Sarushima arc. (+1 for excitement)
Most of the arcs follow the same kind of pattern of meeting a girl, a witch who seems like a certain quirk on the outside. Then, through some situation or another, her weakness or vulnerability is revealed which not only helps Yamada better understand her, it also kind of makes the girl fall for him, in a classic harem style piece. Every witch seems to have a power that she wishes for or something that helps to compensate for something that she is lacking in everyday life, mostly revolving around the same few high school teenager problems like not being able to make friends in school, essentially. I can hardly say that any of it is original, even if they were entertaining.
One of the key parts that really saved the plot of this anime was the unexpected twist at the end, where Yamada finally puts an end to all of the witches’ powers instead of merely just restoring everyone’s memories. That seemed like a fitting end to wrap things up, especially when things were just going all over the place and there were many plot lines that were introduced but never revisited or tied together at the end. (+1 for plot twist)
At this point, I do want to point out that the anime did a very good job foreshadowing this, with an earlier scene where Sarushima asks Yamada to find a way to erase her witch powers so that she can “fall in love”. This parallels Yamada’s final arc quest the get Shiraishi to fall in love with him again, and hints toward the eventual erasure of all the witch powers because though they may seem useful at first, they are actually a hindrance to living out life to the fullest (+1 for deep meaning).
In the logic department, I can give the anime a little hope because at least all of the characters stayed true to their character in the anime, and none behaved in a non-realistic manner. Also, most of the witches powers were fairly believable and even interesting to see played out, or at least all except for the last one. (+1 for reasonable characters and believable powers)
Unfortunately, the final arc of this anime was so disappointing because it completely through common sense out of the window and introduced such an incredible amount of chaos that it became impossible to make sense of the anime after episode 9. As such, I have listed 8 plot holes in chronological order here, where it should be noted how most of them occur in the last few episodes:
In episode 3, Shiraishi states that she doesn’t want to go to college because she wants to study on her own instead and doesn’t need college. But this makes absolutely no sense at all because a large part of college is essentially a self-motivated study and research anyway. Even if this was not the real reason for Shiraishi not wanting to go to college, the fact that none of the other club members call her out on this lame excuse is an outright inconsistency.
In episode 5, the last page of Volume 1 of the Seven Wonders of Suzaku High School lists only 2 of the witches’ powers, stating that the others are to be revealed in the next volume. However, there is clearly a lot more space at the bottom of the page to at least write one or two more abilities. There does not seem to be any other reason than scripted unnecessary suspense to only list 2 abilities in the first volume and then continue with the others in the second volume, especially when there is still space left in the first book.
In episode 10, Yamazaki states that they took special precautions with Yamada, but this means that Saionji Rika’s power is not to erase the memories of a person she kisses, but to erase everyone else’s memories of the person she kisses. However, we clearly see from Leona’s account of her power that it is definitely the former instead, which then explains my present confusion: Which is it, really? Both? I feel like the anime is just conveniently changing the rules regarding this power to work in the inverse manner, and this just adds a very forced and unnecessary climax to the whole anime. This confusion persists to the end of the anime.
Also in episode 10, Yamazaki states clearly that only the student council president should know, but clearly his secretary Asuka Mikoto also knows and was not subject to the erasure since there are scenes where they clearly discuss matters about the seven witches in front of her.
In episode 11, for strange reasons unknown to us, Yamada kissing a witch somehow restores her memories. For even stranger reasons, Rika’s memory erasure powers do not work a second time on the same person. The anime realizes these two plot holes are so huge that they don’t even bother trying to explain them whatsoever.
In episode 12, Rika states that she felt very lonely in school simply because everyone else except the student council president forgot about her every time she used her powers. But remember that Rika’s powers only work once on everyone, and it’s only a matter of time for her to reconnect with the people she really wants to again. It makes absolutely no sense why Yamazaki is the only person who can relearn about Rika’s existence.
Also, Rika states that time has stopped for everyone except Rika and Yamazaki. Again, the anime doesn’t bother explaining why Rika is the exception out of all the witches. Rika then says that this is similar to the General Theory of Relativity, which makes absolutely no sense because Yamada would then have to be under the effect of some really intense gravitational force or be traveling at the speed of light, which is certainly not the case. This is a classic case of an anime trying to sound smart but really isn’t.
Finally, there are still a whole lot of other unanswered questions here. What really is the power of the seventh witch? Why are there seven witches in the first place and how did they come about? Where the heck is the rest of the student council and why do we only ever see 3 of them (Yamazaki, Odagiri, Miyamura) in the entire anime? What exactly does the second volume of the book say and where is it now? How did Tamaki and Yamada gain their special powers that allowed them to interact with the witches? Are these powers also transferable? Who did Sarushima want to fall in love with?
This whole host of unanswered questions really put the anime to shame, because it was doing so well until the end. Well, it was altogether an interesting plot but one that completely crumbled the moment the anime tried to make it any more serious than it was. It honestly could have been way better if it just stuck to being funny, but the attempt at creating a seriously gripping climax completely backfired.
Animation: 2/3 - I really enjoyed the wonderful animations they used here to make the funny parts even funnier. There were just certain parts where the animation felt a little jumpy at times.
Aesthetics: 3/3 - The art was really good, especially the character designs!
OP Sequence: 2/2 - Really loved the OP Sequence!
ED Sequence: 1/2 -The ED sequence wasn’t as nice, but it was still good.
OP Theme: 2/2 - Really loved the OP Theme!
ED Theme: 2/2 - Absolutely loved the ED Theme!
Background Music: 4/4
The background music here was really good, and there was not a point where I thought the choice of music was awkward
No bonus points because there are no additional themes.
Overall, the main cast members were very well developed while there was a lot of room for development for the supporting cast. All of the characters however, were very varied and interesting while still being realistic.
As a high school delinquent, we are introduced to a Yamada who is uncaring about everything around him. He doesn’t care about his grades or about school in general and has a degree of crudeness that goes well with his tough guy attitude, intimidating many people around him with his fighting style (+1 for tornado kick). In spite of his apparent apathy towards many things, we slowly learn as the story progresses that Yamada actually cares a lot about food, and about the feelings of the girls around him, showing many times that he genuinely cares for each girl (+1 for multi-faceted nature). Also, his innate ability to copy witches abilities undoubtedly launches him into absolutely hilarious interactions with the witches in the story, and is incredibly entertaining to watch (+1 for interactions).
From the beginning, Shiraishi is presented as the top student of her school, though not everything is as smooth sailing as it seems. She is being bullied by others who are envious of her results and she’s also a bit of a social outcast because she consistently passes on school trips to spend time alone studying. She is incredibly calm and collected, being the exact antithesis of Yamada, and thus also his best match throughout the anime. It is not surprise then, that their relationship strengthens throughout the story and they bring out the best in each other, even to the point of self-sacrifice (+1 for relationship growth). It is also worth pointing out that Shiraishi also loves cute things, as shown through her cute-themed bedroom and the fact that she can stare at her own panties simply “because they are cute” (+1 for cuteness).
Although he does not have a special power in the story, Toranosuke is one of the most entertaining characters to watch. As the not-so-secret pervert who does hilariously funny perverted things, he is really the character that makes me laugh the most, and it would be an absolute loss to the anime if this character did not exist. From his signature obsession with panties, to his habit of attempting to undress Yamada in Shiraishi’s body, he really should be the one getting slapped by Odagiri instead of Yamada.
As another character who is powerless, Itou’s strengths lies in her partnership with Toranosuke to create humour in the anime. She is also the first one to have a touching backstory to her, where it is revealed that she is a social outcast because she spouts nonsense about the supernatural and nobody believes her, even to the point of nearly getting herself killed by a bunch of thugs (+1 for backstory). After being saved by Yamada though, we begin to see Itou as a very amiable and lively person who is always one of the few who injects energy into any situation they are in.
While Odagiri starts off as the scheming rival of Miyamura, she eventually warms up to the rest of the cast after we begin to see a little of her vulnerabilities. She’s quite the tsundere and especially so when she was under the effect of her own charm power due to Yamada’s copying ability. Her role in the anime really goes beyond her own little arc though, as she becomes instrumental to creating a plan and finding a way to defeat Yamazaki in the final arc. Odagiri was even willing to suffer on her own for the benefit of Yamada’s happiness, which I really think was one of the most touching moments of the anime. It is no wonder that Ushio fell for her even without being under the charm spell. Nothing really brings you closer to tears in the anime than this purple-haired beauty (+1 character depth).
Since Ushio is an old friend of Yamada and fellow tough guy, you’d expect him to at least be as interesting as Yamada is. Well, he is not. He betrayed him once to willingly fall in love with Odagiri Nene for very unclear reasons and in so doing, gave Yamada his bad reputation in the school. Ushio and Yamada kind of become sworn enemies from then on and although this was fixed in the Odagiri arc, nothing much else about Ushio’s character develops. From the start, we could tell that he was fixatedly loyal towards Odagiri, to the point of love, and it was very obvious that he would continue to do so whether or not he was under the charm effect.
The rest of the witches, Otsuka Meiko, Sarushima Maria, Takigawa Noa, Asuka Mikoto and Saionji Rika are all relegated to the supporting cast and so we don’t get to see much of their backstories fleshed out. It is a little disappointing that I didn’t get to hear much about Sarushima’s after story however, because she was definitely the most interesting out of the 5 of them, having been the first one to ask to have her own powers removed because she wanted to “fall in love” and also the one with probably the most useful witch power ever (we are only left wondering why she did not use this power to win lotteries).
At this point I really want to mention my favourite character of the entire anime, Leona. Leona is Toranosuke’s really hot sister who doesn’t mind stripping down to her underwear at a moment’s notice and that’s not even the best part of her. The best part is that she is probably the most useful character in the entire anime who essentially has all of the answers than Yamada and crew are searching for throughout the entire anime. She is also extremely clever, can throw scissors with excellent precision and is someone you absolutely do not mess with (+1 for badassery). It is really a shame that she is only a supporting character, because she has such a rich backstory that I think the anime doesn’t do her enough justice. From her brief mention of her previous involvement in the Supernatural Research Club with Yamazaki and her experiences uncovering the identities of the witches, it is certain that there is so much more depth to this character than what the anime has shown us. I would have liked to see a lot more of that Yamazaki - Leona interaction which would have really added to the development of both their characters.
As the pseudo-antagonist of the story, Yamazaki was admittedly disappointing. He initially seems like a mystical student council president with a mischievous yet sinister air around him and as the story goes, it becomes obvious that he seems to be hatching some evil scheme. While there is a certain backstory to him, we don’t learn this until at the very end when Leona reveals this, and so Yamazaki was always this spectre of uncertainty. Even in the end, when he had a change of heart from Leona’s words, the anime did not really bring out the emotions in him to actually convince us of his turnaround. In the end, it really felt Yamazaki had really poor motives of going against the club members, as simply trying to control the school isn’t really cutting it.
The rest of the supporting cast, which includes Tsubaki Kentarou and Tamaki Shinichi are also very interesting characters, but they do not show up long enough in the anime to really make any impact. Tsubaki as a character seems completely random and Tamaki just seems completely underused although he has such a useful ability. It’s really a shame.
The anime was probably the most hilarious in the first few episodes where Yamada is still figuring out the extent of his powers. The funniest segment was most likely in episode 2, when the Supernatural Research Club members begin kissing each other regardless of gender and swapping bodies to absolutely hilarious effect with yaoi and yuri moments all rolled into one. All of Miyamura’s perverted antics deserve a mention here. Also, Yamada rearranging his name to become Dayama at the fortune telling booth was simply too much for my stomach to handle. I really enjoyed the comic aspect of this anime! (+3 for comedy)
I especially loved the emotions that played in the Odagiri Nene arc, which lent itself very well to Odagiri’s own charm power. I also loved how we had the chance to see some romance blossoming in a total of three couples in this show: Yamada-Shiraishi, Odagiri-Ushio and Leona-Yamazaki. (+2 for romance)
The anime also did an especially good job at building up suspense for the final arc, with progressively more and more interesting witch powers and the entire plot line about trying to find the second volume of the book but always failing. Although the suspense was futile, it was suspense nonetheless. (+1 for mystery)
The anime was very engaging from the beginning of the story until somewhere at the halfway point when we got to the supporting cast of witches. From then on, it seemed liked the anime was really progressing way too fast and the final arc was simply a haphazard mess with a rather anti-climactic and unsatisfactory ending. Although the resolution was good, how the anime got there felt like it was just cheating its way out of it.
This anime also earns 1 bonus point for having no filler episodes.
In closing, I thought that this anime had a very interesting premise and honestly could have gone very far if it weren’t for the very horrible final arc which raised too many questions and provided too little answers and left many viewers lost as to what was actually happening and why. Still, I felt that much of the anime remained enjoyable simply because of the many interactions and hilarious scenes that the characters had in each other, and it became immediately apparent that the strength of this anime lay in their diverse and impactful characters rather than the plot itself.
Feel free to drop me a PM or leave a profile comment to let me know if you agree/disagree and why, and as always, thank you for reading through this so patiently.
Jul 20, 2015
13 of 13 episodes seen
people found this review helpful
"Nobody said that a fake can't beat the real thing." - Emiya Shirou
Fate/stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works was the most enjoyable anime that I watched in the recent year, because nearly everything about it pandered greatly to my shounen taste for action, inspiration, surprise and awe. This is the gripping story of an idealist who overcame all odds, including himself and his own ideals. Though he was weak and his ideals were flawed, never once did he stop believing, never once did he back down, and never once did he stop acting like the Hero of Justice that he always wanted to become.
+ Very exciting and gripping plot
+ Unexpected plot twists
+ Good thematic discourse in the plot
+ Outstanding quality of art and music
+ Very well developed characters, both main and supporting
+ Realistic and believable characters and motives with back stories
+ Excellent action sequences
+ Complete and satisfying resolution
- Some plot holes and inconsistencies
- Pacing could be faster in the 1st season
Even from the prologue, the anime throws us straight into the action. We are introduced to the concept of the Holy Grail War, and all out battle royale between 7 masters and their respective servants, or Heroic Spirits, for the ultimate prize: fulfillment of any wish they may so have. This main conflict enraptures our protagonists, Rin and Shirou, willingly or unwillingly, into a bloodbath that lasts from start to finish (+1 for main overarching conflict)
By the end of episode 0, we have already witnessed an amazing fight sequence between Archer and Lancer and a character dying and coming back to life. But the adrenaline doesn't die off there, it merely builds up throughout the rest of the story. More and more servants and their masters are revealed, leaving us wondering how all of this is going to play out. We are first introduced to the protagonistic servants Archer and Saber. Then, in comes Ilya with Berserker, whose massive strength outclasses that of both. Throw in a Rider-class servant who attacks the school that Rin and Shirou are in, as well as a crafty and cunning Caster who is responsible for many of the gas leak incidents around the city, and viola - you have an excellent recipe for exciting things to come. (+2 for originality and excitement)
At this point, we are craving for fights and all-out brawls where servants use their special abilities, Noble Phantasms, to strike one another down, but the anime just pokes and teases us with clashes that result in stalemate after stalemate after stalemate. The anime is telling us that things simply aren't so simple, and begins to churn out all the different and unexpected twists.
In the middle of Blood Fort Andromeda, a mysterious servant finishes off Rider and leaves Shinji so scared he can't even describe the servant when confronted by Rin. Caster uses Rule Breaker to take control of Saber, in a horrific hostage situation. Archer betrays Shirou and Rin, in one of the most dire of situations. There is a mysterious man in blond hair that we see glimpses of every now and then but we don't know his role in the war just yet. Things just start going horribly, horribly wrong and I'm just left wondering if our protagonists are ever going to make it out of this war alive. (+1 for plot twists)
And then, we have the showdown that gives this entire anime its meaning in the first place - the face-off between Archer and Shirou, the future self fighting with his past self. Shirou, the idealist, cannot bring himself to believe in anything else other than his dream of a future where everybody lives happily ever after, where there are no deaths and wars and where all live in peace. Archer, the realist who once committed himself to accomplishing those same ideals, now living in regret because he realizes that his life's striving was all in vain because of the malevolence of humankind.
In many ways, this pivotal battle is a reflection of our inner idealist and realist, at odds at one another and telling us to do things differently. On one hand, a part of us wants to believe in a perfect utopia and wants to work towards it, one another hand, a part of us says it isn't possible and that it will all be for naught. Both cannot accept one another, though both are correct, and it is only up to us to decide which path is "right" for us to take. (+1 for thematic development)
The final battle, between that of Shirou and Gilgamesh, is just as meaningful, if not more. Gilgamesh, the King of Heroes, who featured also in Fate/Zero as the unstoppable, overpowered self-sustaining Archer-class Servant, facing off against a weak human, Shirou, in a battle that should honestly have been decided in a mere second, if only Gilgamesh had the humility to acknowledge Shirou as a worthy opponent. Gilgamesh's collection of Noble Phantasms within the Gate of Babylon boasts of "originality", while he spites Shirou's projections of swords from his mind as mere fakes and imitations.
Again, this battle ultimately poses to each of us the true question of what exactly is real and what exactly is fake. It even probes further into the idea that perhaps it is not the originality of the entity that gives it meaning, but its user. Shirou applies this idea to his ideals, the very ones that he gained only from Kiritsugu, whom he looked up to. Though Archer constantly mocked him for having "borrowed ideals" from other people, not having anything that he could claim as truly his own, Shirou rose above that and taught us that even if our ideals are borrowed, or fakes, or mere imitations, it is what we, as proponents and believers in such ideals, make of them, that give rise to the true meaning of those same ideals we stand for. (+1 for complexity)
There are many other interesting plot themes that the anime brings up so I'll briefly state them here. Loyalty, as exemplified by Saber, but also in Berserker's self-sacrifice for his master, Ilya. Betrayal, as exemplified by Archer, but also in Caster's spite for her original master, as well as Kotomine's deception of Rin. And finally, the sanctity of human life, as shown by Shirou's unwillingness to accept anyone who trivialized human life, and also in Rin and Saber.
In general, the story did make sense and there were no groundbreaking plot destroying loopholes. It was not a far stretch to believe in the assumptions upon which the war was grounded on, such as the various rules regarding the Master-Servant pact, the powers of their Noble Phantasms and the existence of anomalies, Gilgamesh, Assassin and Kotomine, in the war itself. (+1 believable assumptions)
The story was also resolved in a very satisfying manner, with all loose ends tied up. (+1 for reasonable resolution) There was however, a key point of contention that I would like to make regarding Archer's consistency in episode 7. More information about this is located under the plot holes section at the end of the review. Archer just seems so inconsistent in this episode that it's a shame I have to deduct plot points just for this. I also cannot give this anime any bonus points because there are also some plot holes that surface. For the full list, you may scroll down to the bottom of this review to have a look. But be warned, there are spoilers so read at your own risk!
All in all, the plot is very well done, save for a few minor plot holes and inconsistencies here and there. The story is epic, it's thrilling and it's full of twists, depth and thematic discourse that it's bound to have you hooked from start to the finish.
I'm giving this a solid full score because really, the animators really did a very good job with all the fast-paced action scenes. The animation was very crisp, sharp and added a lot of colour and flavour to the anime.
The character designs were just beautiful, as were the background scenes and landscape shots in the anime. Nothing looked out of place and everything was woven very well together.
OP Sequences: 2/2
Both OPs were very well thought-out, featuring many of the characters as well as great action shots.
ED Sequences: 2/2
The ED sequences were very nice as well.
OP Theme 1: 2/2
This was the best theme of the entire anime, as it was upbeat and exciting enough that I would always let it play every episode up to 12.
OP Theme 2: 2/2
This theme was also pretty good, and matched well with the OP Sequence. Though I definitely preferred OP1.
ED Theme 1: 2/2
This ED theme was very beautiful and was also upbeat, so that's a plus.
ED Theme 2: 1/2
I liked ED1 better.
Background Music: 2/2
Definitely top-notch. It was suspenseful, exciting, uplifting, nostalgic all at the appropriate times and added greatly to the overall mood of the anime.
There are so many amazing characters in this anime that I hardly know where to start, but I guess I'll just start off with my favourite.
Archer, Rin's Servant, is probably the most clever at deducing the best course of action he should take at any given time. The fact that he's a badass dual sword-wielding bowman with a Noble Phantasm named after the anime is just the tip of the iceberg. (+1 for awesomeness) Archer is shown to have a rather cold personality from the beginning, but throughout the anime, you can easily tell that there's a lot more compassion under that exterior than meets the eye. He saves Shirou many times, despite disliking him to the core. (+1 for multi-faceted nature) Archer also slowly grows to accept himself, realizing that no matter how hard he tried to dissuade Shirou and to get him to give up his foolish ideals, Shirou wouldn't give in. This same growth can be seen in Shirou, though in this case, I would consider both Archer and Shirou the same person for this review. (+1 for vital growth)
Rin, the female protagonist in the story, is simply irresistible. She's smart, witty, beautiful, cute and a tsundere all at the same time. Basically she's almost perfect in everything, save for the fact that she's still young and still makes mistakes, but even that's adorable. (+1 for personality development) Rin is also a capable mage, with many different spells in her arsenal, from the standard Gandr attack to flash bangs and defensive spells, and she doesn't back down in a fight even against a superior mage, proving her courage. (+1 for awesomeness) Though Rin doesn't really get romantically involved with Shirou any time in the anime, it is clear that she likes him, and that she is constantly in conflict with herself for having a soft spot yet having to be rational to win the Holy Grail War. She slowly moves from being embarrassed about admitting that she likes Shirou, to being able to openly declare it in front of others. (+1 for relationship progress) The couple are practically a match made in heaven so there's no reason not to root for them, really.
I really like how the anime managed to flesh out the back stories of Caster and Berserker. With Caster, we were able to see not only how cunning and scheming she was from the beginning, but also her emotional state which really made me sad when she was killed in the end. Kuzuki described Caster as not knowing what she truly wanted, which was to go back to the time when she was alive, and this also made me feel for her. (+1 for backstory) Her eventual self-sacrifice for her master, though it was for naught, was proof that she had learnt something new because of Kuzuki's mercy and benevolence to her. (+1 for character growth).
In the case of Berserker, we could see a lot of Ilya's backstory and how she came to be a master in the Holy Grail War. As the pinnacle of the Einzbern family's research, Ilya was their only hope. Ilya essentially carried the burden of the entire family, homunculus and all, and took it upon that small frame of hers to fight in the war. It's actually pretty brave if you think about it.
At this point, I would like give some credit to our main antagonist, Gilgamesh as well. Though everybody hates him for being super overpowered and such, at least his motives for destroying humanity were not shallow and circular in nature. As a king, he considered only those who would be spared by the Grail to by worthy to be citizens in his kingdom of sorts. (+1 for convincing motives)
I definitely had no qualms about the character development because the anime really put so much effort into this that even I was very emotionally invested in many of them, even much of the supporting cast was so diverse and unique, that I had to give them credit. From the school, there was the shy Sakura, the bubbly and overzealous Fujimura-sensei, even Mitsuzuri and Issei, all of whom had very diverse and interesting personalities and traits. Even the fake Assassin, Koujirou Sasaki had a clear distinct personality as well.
The only thing I thought was really a waste was that they didn't really give Kotomine enough time to let his evil schemes shine. Kotomine was a real gem of a character back in Fate/Zero, and it was a bit pitiful to see him being reduced to just an evil scheming priest in this anime. I would have hope that he would be more vital to the plot, but he turned out not to be, despite being part of a key plot twist.
First off, this anime really delivers when it comes to the excitement. The action is there with the accompanying music and top notch animation, there are many unexpected plot twist and turns which just keep you off the edge of your seat, and they are always certain to leave behind certain unanswered questions just to keep you watching episode after episode like I did.
While humour was not their strongest suit, there was definitely quite a bit involved. Some of the funny scenes I can remember off-hand are:
1. When Shirou stripped Issei to find out if he was a master
2. When Rin used Archer as a maid and Archer replied, "Go to hell, master."
3. After the magic circuit transfer when Rin asks Shirou if "He saw it."
4. When Lancer pokes Shinji with his lance and Shinji runs off terrified
I really felt for many of the characters in the anime. From supporting characters like Ilya and Caster to the main cast, I was rooting for them all the way. Many of the deaths were very dramatic and emotional indeed, but not overly so, whilst you could also really feel the relationships and interactions between the masters and their servants. Whenever Rin cries, even I get a little teary too.
This could honestly have been improved a bit because I felt that the first 12 episodes were a bit too draggy. The 2nd season had much better pacing and the plot progressed a lot faster, but I thought the 1st season really spent too much time with all the stalemates, all of which left only 1 servant defeated by the end of it. Then towards the end in the last few episodes, servants were being killed off too quickly in a row.
The anime gets a bonus point for having no filler episodes. (+1) This was definitely an awesome anime that I thoroughly enjoyed, so I have no reason not to give it a good score.
Initially, I was very annoyed with Shirou, just like Archer was, and I couldn't accept how stubborn he was with his foolish ideals. But eventually, I grew to like both Shirou and Archer as one character, and I found true meaning in Shirou's words as he kept repeating the words "even then". I realized that Shirou was acting out of more than just stubborn resolve and foolish ignorance, he was acting out of a hope and a dream that he was never willing to give up on. In Shirou's own words, even if it is impossible, "it can't be wrong" to live for that dream.
Spoilers ahead! Read only if you have finished watching the anime!
I was also very surprised when Archer reappeared in episode 24 to save both Rin and Saber. I had assumed he had died back in episode 21 to Gilgamesh's swords. But upon closer inspection, I found that unlike all the other servants who died, Archer was the only whose corpse wasn't actually shown vanishing. Only trails of particles were seen after the explosion, but nothing like a body actually fading away, so I guess I can still believe that his Independent Action ability kept him alive.
There are a total of 13 plot holes that I found in this anime:
Rin had to say a super long and complicated incantation before she could invoke a command spell, but all Shirou said was "Stop it, Saber!" and his command spell was automatically invoked? It seems like the writer just wanted to conveniently make both Rin and Shirou have 1 less Command Spell each and be at a disadvantageous position from the start.
Rin comments that the girl who collapsed had been "drained dry" of her mana, then states that she hardly has any blood left. This link between a person's blood and mana though, is still very vague and unclear. Why does draining someone of their mana result in also a draining of their blood?
In the last few minutes of episode 5, while Shirou talks to Rin, he admits that he can't really call himself a mage. But right after that scene at the start of episode 6, when Shirou challenges Archer, he confidently calls himself a mage, though inexperienced. Shirou here seems inconsistent with his assessment of his own magic ability.
Archer claims that Caster broke the rules by summoning an Assassin-class Servant for herself, but where are these stated rules exactly? Kotomine clearly did not mention that there cannot be more than 7 servants in the Holy Grail War, especially since Gilgamesh still features as an extra.
So I'm honestly not sure what kind of "rules" Archer is following at the moment.
Archer doesn't finish off an injured Caster because he says that his objective was Shirou and that he came here of his own volition rather than being ordered by Rin, and thus has no reason to kill Caster. But earlier in episode 2, when Rin and Shirou are returning from the church, Archer told Rin specifically that if the opportunity to kill an easily defeated enemy presents itself, then that opportunity ought to be taken. This clearly shows that this is not Archer's "real" reason for not killing Caster.
Later on, Archer tells Shirou that his first real reason for not defeating Caster is that she would simply escape, and the only way to defeat a Caster is by defeating the master. But this makes absolutely no sense because even if Caster has many tricks up her sleeves, that doesn't mean that she is immortal and can't be defeated. Plus, the fact that she was already injured meant that it would be simple to finish her off.
Then, Archer claims that his second real reason for not defeating Caster is that he wanted Caster to continue draining mana from the people in the city and eventually be strong enough to defeat Berserker, who is a stronger adversary. But just a few moments ago, Archer said that the reason he initially wanted to kill off both Saber and Berserker back in episode 3 was because it was before Rin and Shirou entered into an alliance and that Shirou can't expect Archer to think so far in advance. Then how is it that Archer is suddenly now able to think so far in advance and ends up letting Caster go because of this newfound foresight that he initially said he isn't expected to have?
Again, Shirou wastes his final Command Spell randomly on the exact same command he wasted his first one. You would think that Shirou, after understanding how Command Spells work, has finally got complete control over when he uses one, but I guess not. Shirou continues to exhibit simultaneously an annoying ignorance of spell usage and miraculous outbursts of projection magic mastery.
Shirou becomes really concerned for Saber after she gets taken by Caster, but earlier he was completely willing to sacrifice Saber for Fujimura when he offered his command seals to Caster. Either that or Shirou completely forgot that surrendering his Command Spells would make him lose Saber, but even this is still an unforgivable mistake.
When Caster uses the Rule Breaker on Saber back in episode 12, Saber cried out in agonizing pain as the magic burst out from the wound. But when Caster does the same to Archer, there was no hint of pain whatsoever and there was hardly any effect of magic seen. Perhaps it was because Saber was unwilling whereas Archer was willing, but this is insufficient explanation because regardless of consent, getting stabbed by a dagger should certainly always be painful.
Archer states that after fending off Lancer's Gae Bolg, his right arm was rendered useless.
But just several moments after that battle, Archer is able to use wield his sword again with his right hand and even stab Kuzuki with it. How did his right arm recover so quickly without any external mana reserves?
Throughout the anime, I find Rin's german incantations annoying since she doesn't pronounce them properly. I can overlook her short attack spells like Gandr, but when she's doing such a complicated magic circuit transferring process, I would rather it have been done in plain Japanese. Since I do understand German to a degree, it would suffice to say that her first line of the incantation literally meant, "Give the migratory bird drinking water that comes from a long away." The rest of the incantation included a bird cage, spinning rainbows, weather conditions, and a friend who goes away on a long trip. Basically, the words make no sense whatsoever in relation to the spell at hand. Rin summoned Archer in Japanese, so I don't see why the writers have to insist on her using German for these long incantations that are bound to be pronounced badly anyway.
Shirou uses Rho Aias to fend off Gilgamesh's attacks several times during their battle. But the problem is that Shirou never saw Archer using Rho Aias because he was with Rin fighting Caster and Kuzuki at that time in the church. Since Shirou never saw Rho Aias, he shouldn't have been able to materialize it.
Apr 5, 2015
24 of 24 episodes seen
people found this review helpful
What makes a human? What makes a monster? Each of us have a bit of both in us, and it's up to you which one you want to be.
Parasyte The Maxim runs along many similar themes of many species-war animes, but it stands out from other man-eating titles because of its excellent discourse and exploration on the role, purpose and meaning of humanity, in light of our world and environment. Parasyte boasts a dramatic, thrilling and gripping plot, revolving around a solid male lead and the people around him, but in the end suffers from an entire host of underdeveloped supporting characters.
Overall: 8/10 (rounded up from 7.5)
+ Great main male lead character
+ Gripping and interesting plot
+ Meaningful plot twists along the way
+ Lengthy and deep thematic discourse
+ Great action and fighting scenes
+ Great drama, tension and emotion
- Many underdeveloped supporting characters
- Not very outstanding OP or ED
- Shallow characterization of main antagonist
- Some plot holes that the anime itself acknowledges
The anime is very well divided into 8 different story arcs, most of them revolving around certain characters in the anime. They are, in order: Introductory Migi Arc, Mother Arc, Hideo Arc, Kana Arc, Tamura Reiko Arc, Extermination Arc and the Gotou Arc, followed by a 1-episode epilogue. I will go through each of the arcs in order.
The story starts off by laying down its foundations, first introducing our main character Izumi, who immediately gets attacked by a parasite which burrows into his right arm, which he later names Migi. For the entirety of the first arc, Migi takes on more of the role of a narrator and does a lot of explanation for the audience as to how parasites function, kill, communicate, survive and also their general abilities. Parasites are characterized as completely rational organisms with no sense of emotion whatsoever, seeking only self-preservation. (+1 for general believable assumptions)
Izumi constantly finds himself in increasing danger of getting killed by other parasites, while Migi continues to protect him each time, saying that his host must survive to ensure his own survival. They encounter other parasites of increasing power throughout the anime, but things start to get interesting when they encounter Tamiya Ryoko, a parasite whose aim is to blend into human society and study them. (+1 for plot depth)
Everything seems fine until we hit the Mother Arc, where Izumi's mother has been taken over by a wandering parasite in need of a female host. Izumi's father barely survives and makes it to a nearby hospital. Back at the house, Izumi goes into denial mode as he encounters his mother who has obviously turned into a parasite. Unable to attack his own mother, Izumi gets stabbed in the heart, after which Migi must perform a heart reconstructive surgery on the spot to revive his beating heart.
A newly revived and powered-up Izumi now reawakens and vows to protect his father from his parasite-infested mother. Along the way, he encounters Uda, who is the only other character mentioned in the entire anime who is also half-parasite half-human. They end up working together to defeat his parasite mother, now with the new superhuman speed, senses and strength that Izumi has acquired from having Migi's parasite cells mixed into him.
Then, we get to the Hideo Arc, where Hideo, a parasite, was initially sent to Izumi's school to keep tabs on him. This eventually spirals into chaos when a student, Yuko, finds out Hideo's identity and forces him to kill her. Yuko manages to get away by splashing harmful chemicals on Hideo and causing him to go on a killing rampage around the school. Izumi is then forced to first rescue his girlfriend Murano, who is at this point terrified, and also defeat Hideo. (+1 for gripping plot)
We are then introduced to Kana, who is a female student with the innate ability to sense the wavelengths emitted by parasites. In the Kana Arc, she obsesses over Izumi, thinking that this ability to sense him means that they are fated to be together. However, Izumi quickly realizes that her ability only sense parasites, and that she could be in danger if she keeps getting into close proximity with parasites. Kana eventually dies by her own fault and Izumi in his rage, kills the parasite that killed her.
Then, we move onto the Tamura Reiko arc, which is probably the most interesting arc of the lot. Tamiya Ryoko has since changed her name to Tamura Reiko after leaving Izumi's school, and this time she hires a private investigator, Kuramori, to keep tabs on Izumi. Izumi realizes this and confronts Kuramori who is told the truth behind Reiko's identity. Kuramori, crazed over the mystery, then kidnaps Reiko's human baby and faces off with her at a park.
Reiko, faced with the possible death of her own human baby, stabs Kuramori and retrieves her own baby, showing some form of human emotion that she herself didn't think was possible. (+1 for interest) Later on, Reiko gives her life up to protect the baby and doesn't even retaliate against the police who were shooting at her. Izumi, touched by this act of human kindness, then sheds tears for the first time in a long while.
Following this incident, a task force is set up to eliminate a group of parasites led by Hirokawa found to be operating within a particular building, and we are thrown into a rather bloody Extermination Arc. Here, we are introduced to essentially the polar opposite of Tamura Reiko, Uragami, who is basically a serial killer who has killed so many people that he can differentiate humans from parasites easily, just by looking at them. While Reiko was the monster being human, Uragami is the human being a monster. (+1 for complexity in plot development)
The task force makes all the humans go through a scanning system to tell apart the parasites from the humans, then using shotgun rounds to blow apart the confirmed parasites. Things go rather well until the parasites try to counter attack, leading to some collateral damage in terms of civilian life whilst the remaining two fugitives Hirokawa and Gotou hide in the upper floors of the building. The anime at this point starts to question whether it is right to sacrifice lives in order to save others, amidst claims by the task force that such damage was "necessary" to weed out the parasites.
Later on, in the upper floors, Gotou manages to single-handedly take down an entire squad and escapes, whilst Hirokawa is surrounded by a SWAT team. Hirokawa attempts to save his life by talking about saving the environment by reducing human numbers, but is immediately shot dead. Then, there is a big reveal that Hirokawa was in fact a human working amongst parasites whom he knew were parasites, but believed in their cause in order to maintain "balance in the ecosystem" by reducing the human population, seen as a "poison" on the earth. (+1 for plot twist)
Finally we move onto the last and final arc, the Gotou Arc, where it's basically Izumi and Migi facing off against Gotou, the enemy whom Reiko earlier said was invincible because he was basically 5 parasites merged into one, giving him immense power and strength. Over the course of the extended battle though, we see Izumi basically resorting to every high-risk maneuver possible to try and defeat Gotou, all of which somehow manage to work. Eventually, they defeat Gotou but are left questioning themselves whether they should finish him off.
Migi, whom at this point has acquired some "human emotions", decides that he doesn't want to kill his own kind, whilst Izumi also would rather let fate decide whether Gotou lives, despite the numbers of people that Gotou has killed. (+1 for plot depth) In the end, self-preservation and conservation of human life prevails and they finish off Gotou. (+1 for logical sense)
In the epilogue that follows, we fast forward many months after all that has happened and Murano and Izumi are back together again. Uragami, the serial killer who has escaped in the earlier extermination arc, comes back to kidnap Murano and then questions Izumi one last time about who exactly is the human and who is the monster in the world they are living in. Izumi ultimately manages to defeat him and save Murano at the same time, thanks to Migi's help.
As for plot holes, there were a total of 9 that I found, some of them being quite major, so I can't give any bonus points for that.
In episode 7, Uda's story of becoming half-parasite is pretty amusing, save for one small problem that if Uda really fell down the cliff into the water, his body wouldn't sink as quickly as it showed in the anime. In fact, his body should in fact immediately float up within 2 seconds of hitting the water surface, and Uda should not be in any immediate danger of drowning. You could basically see that in the area where Uda was going to jump, the water was deep enough so he wouldn't die from impact on the rocks either. Also, this proves that Uda actually chose a really stupid place to commit suicide that would never have succeeded as well.
In episode 9, Yuko decides to "talk to Shimada first" after having 2 first-hand encounters of his face-changing. Even if Yuko was lovestruck before, after these 2 encounters she should definitely be afraid of Shimada Hideo and would consider him a danger especially after hearing from her brother. It makes absolutely no sense for Yuko to talk to Shimada Hideo first "just in case" he's not dangerous. This is clearly a case of a character acting unnaturally in order to create drama in the plot.
Later on, two of the rugby students, who had just seen Yuko fall from the top floor of a building, did not even mention this happening to a teacher passing by, and they only chose to tell him about "something" in the Fine Arts room. In fact, if they've just seen a girl fall from so many storeys, the should be panicking and at least hurrying to the Fine Arts room to find out what happened, but instead they are pictured calmly walking through the halls. Also, the rugby students say nothing about the severity of the situation.
The teacher also is too accepting of the vague report that "something" is in the Fine Arts room, and he fails to ask further about what this "something" is, or looks like. Perhaps, it's so common in Japan to have students climbing and falling out of the windows of school buildings that people are already desensitized? Give me a break.
In episode 20, Hirokawa says, "How dare you point your guns at civilians?" But the soldiers around him are clearly holding their guns at high port arms, hence none of the guns are pointing at anybody.
Later on, two soldiers see a bunch of obviously-too-calm humans walking away amidst the chaos, and decide to let them go? Aren't they on like strict orders to shoot anyone who might seem suspicious on sight, or at least stop them? If this was supposed to be an extermination, these soldiers really aren't doing their jobs at all.
Halfway through the extermination, the corridors suddenly goes dark in the building they are in. Did all the lights suddenly get turned off in this building for no good reason, or was there a blackout that the audience is supposed to have presumed happened? If anything, during an extermination these lights should all be manually turned out for better targeted acquisition and shooting accuracy. The lights being turned off hence makes no sense and is just a convenient way to make the gory scenes of dead bodies more tense. Even if it's possible that the parasites turned off the lights on the upper floors, this was never actually mentioned so it's still a plot hole.
Towards the end, when Gotou tells the soldiers who encountered him to follow him, those stupid soldiers actually do so? Uragami, the man who was in charge of identifying the parasites, just ran away with fear at the first sight of Gotou. Wasn't it obvious enough that Gotou was like even more dangerous than all those they encountered before? Even if Uragami wasn't there, when every other normal human is downstairs scared to death for their lives, and suddenly you see a random guy unnaturally calmly loitering around one of the upper floors in total darkness, that's just suspicious on so many levels! Any soldier acting naturally would have immediately gunned Gotou down relentlessly with shotgun rounds without hesitation.
Finally, the anime says absolutely nothing about the origin of parasites, and even admits this. This is a major plot hole regardless of how much it is meant to symbolize how our human origins are, too, "unknown".
Overall, the plot was pretty solid and well done, save for a couple of unnatural character reactions to situations and the plot holes as listed above. Still, compared to many animes out there that I've watched, this anime has really stood out in its plot and thematic development.
OP Sequence 1: 2/2 - Pretty good
ED Sequence 2: 1/2 - Simple and artistic
Aesthetic: 2/3 - Perhaps it's meant to be a bit disturbing but I didn't like the way that the parasites were drawn. Migi was cute, but many bad ones were all kind of just the same monstrosity, it would have been better if they'd put more variants of the parasites.
Animation: 2/3 - The action scenes were definitely really nice, although definitely there was an obvious lack of special effects put into all the slashing and stuff.
OP Theme 1: 1/2 - Everything is pretty good except that the voice has this really annoying "autotune"-like sound
ED Theme 1: 1/2 - A beautiful piece of music, but I thought it could have been better chosen, seeing as how they like to end every episode in a cliff-hanger.
Background Music: 3/4 - I generally enjoyed it, save for certain suspenseful parts where I thought the music was rather toned down and kind of drew away from the mood
Additional Themes: 0/2 - There were none, so no points here.
This is probably where the anime suffers a bit, even though the main character is pretty solid, so we'll start with him.
Izumi is the most complex main character in the anime, and with good reason, because he has a parasite in him that's completely affecting his thought processes and even emotions. We even get a glimpse of a backstory of his family, where his mother got the burn mark, but it's fair to say that he develops his backstory as the story progresses, through the loss of his mother to a parasite (+1 for a backstory). Izumi starts off weak and fearful but he is gradually strengthened by Migi's cells inside of him, making him not only stronger physically but also in mental conditioning (+1 for character growth). Also, Izumi is constantly at odds between his "parasite" and "human" parts of him. Torn between the two, Izumi eventually manages to find some middle ground towards the end of the anime, being able to be rational and still experience emotion at the same time. (+1 for character development). Definitely my favourite character as his combat skills are also pretty impressive after the second arc.
The other very interesting character is of course Migi, Izumi's companion who starts off completely rational and straightforward with things. He initially cannot understand human thinking and constantly mocks human emotion, but eventually, after mixing with Izumi's heart, begins to comprehend how human emotions work, and at the end, even decides to spare Gotou's life on grounds of not killing one's own kind (+1 for character growth). Though his ability to develop as a character is limited, since he is a parasite and is non-human, the fact that he shows this growth is interesting.
In the same way, Tamura Reiko also experiences this human emotional change. Going from just a parasite who is interested in learning about humans, to becoming the epitome of human love - giving up her own life for her child, is no mean feat at all (+1 for character growth). Throughout the anime, she is also very peculiar, even by parasite standards, as her obsession with her baby and her long-term insight into the survival of the parasite species seems to be very rare (+1 for character development).
Unfortunately, we have to mention the useless Murano here, who is Izumi's girlfriend in the show. Murano's only role in this anime was honestly to try and help Izumi realize that he was become less and less "human", and Murano constantly struggles as she comes to terms with how Izumi "has changed". Throughout the anime, she incessantly bickers and whines about how Izumi is not the same as before and is completely fickle-minded when she decides to stay or not to stay with Izumi. She has no backstory and it's sad that her entire existence of a character is meaningless without Izumi. Plus the fact that she basically bears no relevance to the overall plot makes her sub-par as a main character. Though she eventually grows to accept Izumi as a human for who he is, this is hardly expanded upon.
Kana is the other Izumi-obsessed girl who basically fails to achieve anything from the start and all the way up to the end. She only causes trouble for Izumi, either by getting into a trouble with parasites, or by getting in the way of Izumi and Murano's relationship. She's honestly a pest and it was almost a relief to see her brutally killed by a parasite, no kidding. She has no backstory, and even less development than Murano. The only thing keeping me from hating her is that she is probably the prettiest girl in the anime.
The rest of the characters are even less memorable. Gotou, the main antagonist, is strong, but other than that, he has zero character, and hardly any motives worth mentioning anyway. Other key, interesting figures like Hirokawa, Uragami, Kuramori and Hirama all fail completely in terms of character development, and are basically just there so the plot can keep moving.
As such, only a few characters actually stood out, and most of the characters were easily forgotten and many who died didn't mean much at all to the plot or to the audience.
The action scenes really hit it where it mattered, and it was a real treat to see parasites battling out, and even better when we see Izumi kicking ass with his superhuman-like strength. All the blood and gore also helped a bit to make the scenes more dark and serious.
Quite a lot of emotion was put into the anime, notably the relationship between Murano and Izumi, which was really back and forth throughout the whole anime, and it seemed like an endless struggle of push-and-pull (Izumi trying to pull and Murano pushing him away). Also, the Tamura Reiko arc was simply brimming with emotion, putting me close to tears at the end of it.
Although not known for its humour, the anime also pulls several slapstick stunts off using Uda, as well as Migi when he makes blunt remarks and morphs into very funny things.
The story does very well in creating suspense by making many of their episodes end in cliff-hangers so that you essentially never stop watching the show. Also, it had a satisfactory resolution which wrapped up most of the loose ends it introduced, leading to a happy ending. It was also gripping and exciting straight from the beginning, as well as at the start of every episode where they also show random people getting killed by parasites to add tension and drama.
This anime gets 1 bonus point for having no filler episodes! (+1) It's honestly been awhile since I've given a 10 for enjoyment, and I'm glad this anime managed to deliver.
Overall: 7.5 / 10 (rounded up to 8)
I chose to round this anime up to an 8 by sheer merit of the delivery of its themes and plot. It was an exciting, thrill ride, as well as a lengthy discourse on humanity and the human condition. It grips you, challenges you to think and asks questions that pierce to the very heart of the human soul, and it may not be for everyone, given the maturity of such themes.
Mar 26, 2015
12 of 12 episodes seen
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"Speaking politely only consumes time and energy." - Mado Akira
This review is going to encompass both seasons of Tokyo Ghoul. Before watching Root A, I had already watched season 1 many years back, so I thought I'd spend sometime rewatching Season 1 and into Season 2, just so that I'd get a better sense of the overall plot line and characterization.
It didn't help much, and though Season 1 looked promising, and Season 2 was exciting and dramatic, it all ended in an unsatisfactory, incomplete and cliff-hanger type of way. There has to be a Season 3, otherwise this series falls flat right here. The various
plot holes and jumps throughout the series were also appalling, the plot was made too confusing at times, and still never gave us any answers about so many mysteries behind the story.
Overall: 6/10 (rounded down from 6.4)
+ Lots of interesting and varied characters
+ Deep and meaningful character relationships and interactions
+ Deep thematic development
+ Great action scenes and animation
+ Good amount of emotion and drama
- Poor resolution with many loose ends
- Many major plot holes and inconsistencies
- Mediocre main male lead (Kaneki)
- Many lousy OP and ED themes and sequences
- Poor pacing means anime can get draggy at times
The story itself was split into 6 arcs, across the two seasons. In S1, we had the introductory Anteiku arc, the Gourmet Arc, the Hinami Arc and half of the Aogiri Base Arc. In S2, we had the second half of the Aogiri Base Arc, followed by the Cochlea Arc and the final Owl Suppression Arc. I will address each of these arcs separately below.
In the Anteiku arc, we are first introduced to Kaneki and his friend Hide. Kaneki has a crush on this girl, Rize, who happens to share the same book taste as him. After a date, Kaneki walks her home only to find out that she is a ghoul who tries to eat him. And immediately, the action, the fear and the horror that is so characteristic of Tokyo Ghoul kicks in and we are thrown quickly into the dark and exciting world of ghouls (+1 for intrigue).
Kaneki, after being turned into a half-ghoul from the encounter with Rize, begins to explore the horrifying world of ghouls, and tries to come to terms with the fact that he was once human but now has to feed on humans to survive. Luckily, help comes in the form of Anteiku, and organization that helps ghouls survive peacefully with humans by only feeding on people who committed suicide. Not a bad plot point, considering the high suicide rate in Japan. The main cast of characters also gets introduced in this arc Toka and Yoshimura especially, and we start to see the overarching conflict that divides both humans and ghouls, threatening to start a complete war (+1 for overarching conflict).
Moving onto the Gourmet Arc, Kaneki then encounters a crazy ghoul called Tsukiyama, who becomes obsessed with Kaneki's scent and tries to kidnap him and sell him off at an auction where ghouls buy "gourmet" delicacies. I honestly have no idea what this arc is doing here, because it adds nothing to the overall story except tell us that Tsukiyama is crazy and the gourmet community is a place for ghouls who are thoroughly sick and twisted. Tsukiyama is later defeated by the combined effort of Kaneki, Toka and Nishiki. The action scenes that took place here were probably what saved this arc from being a total disaster.
In the following Hinami Arc, we start to see a new perspective to the story - from the point of view of the CCG- basically those who fight against the ghouls. We are introduced to the idea of "doves" who are basically ghoul hunters using weapons called quinque, which are made from ghouls. While ghouls lives in fear of the doves, the doves have the responsibility to rid society from the scourge of ghouls, and two doves in particular are introduced - Mado and Amon - in charge of the 20th Ward. (+1 for deeper perspective, complexity)
Mado and Amon, as a team, manage to make Hinami, a child ghoul who uses Anteiku as a refuge, an orphan by killing off both her parents in a rather one-sided fashion. Both stood no chance against the doves, whose physical prowess was just much greater. Toka gets back at the doves by killing one of their henchmen, and tries to lure Mado into a waterway where it's harder for him to use his quinque.
There is a stand-off and two duels happen simultaneously - Mado vs Toka and Amon vs Kaneki. During the course of the duel, the story explores themes that are akin to both humans and ghouls, discussing the reason why innocent people need to die and why they must fight to protect their kind. We see how morals playing out from one side can also apply to the other party - if killing a ghoul will hurt the rest of the family, so will killing a human. Is it right to kill out of revenge? To protect others? Does any motive justify to outcome of leaving another person without a loved one? (+1 for thematic exploration)
After this incident, we move on to the Aogiri Base arc, where the CCG identifies the base of a ghoul organization called Aogiri, which has been causing mass havoc by killing CCG investigators in the 11th district. At the same time, Aogiri's Yamori has an encounter with Anteiku, and ends up kidnapping Kaneki and locking him up in a dungeon at the Aogiri base. What happens next is basically a 3-way war involving CCG trying to eliminate Aogiri and Anteiku trying to sneak in to rescue Kaneki.
Throughout the arc, we are shown horrifying and heart-wrenching scenes of Kaneki being tortured by Yamori - having his toes cut off, and having centipedes inserted into his ears. These scenes help to frame the reason behind Kaneki wanting to get stronger to protect those whom he loves, and in a way drive him crazy, succumbing to the ghoul-like nature inside of him. However, these scenes can get a bit slow and long-winded and even though the anime was trying to be clever with Rize's literary exposition, all of it revolved around the same idea over and over again, until it felt completely redundant and overly repetitive.
By the end of the arc, Kaneki manages to embrace the ghoul powers inside of him, hence turning his hair white for no apparent reason but for visual effect to the audience. He defeats Yamori by cannibalizing him and proceeds to rescue Toka from her brother, Ayato. After a short face-off against Ayato, and showing off his new found powers that came from simply getting tortured, he decides to leave Anteiku to join Aogiri, because he wants to "become stronger".
With that, S1 officially comes to a proper close and we move to the Cochlea Arc. Amon's investigator team gets a bit of a reshuffle and we also get introduced to new characters like Akira, Mado's daughter, and Juzo, who is basically Shinohara's adopted son, both of whom are investigators too. Cochlea is this poorly designed facility that is supposed to house the most dangerous of ghouls, which the anime terms as S-rated and SS-rated. Aogiri attacks this facility to rescue a certain ghoul who then vanishes from the rest of the anime. This arc didn't do anything except for further cementing the partner relationship between Amon and Akira, and giving us a slight glimpse of how crazy Kaneki has become, and who for some reason continues to have to scream and cry out like he's literally been doing the entire anime.
Finally, we move on to the Owl Suppression arc, which is by far the most interesting arc out of the lot, but also the arc that was never fully resolved properly. Yasumori is revealed to be the original One-Eyed Owl, said to be the CCG's greatest enemy, and he's also revealed to have a child with the same ghoul power, hence there being two One-Eyed Owls. CCG, with the help from Akira, manages to discover Anteiku's existence in 20th ward, and our main ghoul characters' home is threatened to be destroyed.
Yasumori, instead of running, orders Yomo to protect Toka and Hinami, and teams up with Devil Ape Koma and Black Dog Irima, both of whom were leaders of previous savage ghoul organizations made peaceful by the existence of Anteiku. They accept their fate and "punishment" for their sins and take one final stand against CCG's strongest investigator teams and divisions.
In the massive fighting that ensues, they are on the brink of defeat when Kaneki manages to arrive last minute and save both Koma and Irima, but not Yasumori, who gets defeated by about 6 strong investigators ganging up on him. There is a massive turnaround though, once Yasumori's child, Eto, literally flies like a comet and smashes into their location and instantly decapitates 5 of their top investigators, but is then chased away by their top investigator, Arima. It is later revealed that Eto manages to save Yasumori when she fled from the scene.
Meanwhile, Kaneki faces off in a duel (damn, this anime sure loves duels doesn't it?) against Amon, whom he manages to overcome and defeat, much to Akira's despair. Kaneki then meets up with a dying Hide, and Toka runs to Anteiku only to find it completely burned to the ground, as Yomo has done so on Yasumori's orders. The anime the ends with Kaneki carrying Hide's body to CCG, and the epilogue shows Toka opening up a new coffee shop, in place of Anteiku, the only place she'd ever call home.
Basically, the resolution of the plot was complete nonsense and we never got anywhere regarding the CCG-Ghoul conflict. Aogiri is still out there, as is the One-Eyed Owl. There are still so many characters who feature in the anime whose names are kind of just mentioned once then disappear (basically man of Aogiri's top ghouls). Also, Hinami's fate is uncertain, as is Kaneki. The ending was again, a cliffhanger, and it just left a gaping hole in the plot.
Moving onto the overall coherence of the story, there was basically none because there are so many plot holes that I can hardly even count. They are listed as follows.
In S1 episode 2, Yoshimura states that coffee is the only thing that ghouls can consume and enjoy just as humans do. However, the explanation for this is completely left out. What's so special about coffee that ghouls can drink from it without having it taste bad? In fact, while I can accept that ghouls can't eat human food, there needs to be at least some consideration as to whether they can at least eat raw animal flesh, because that's also a food source that has the same characteristics of human flesh, including all the blood.
Hide asks Kaneki why he's been skipping school, but this makes absolutely no sense. Kaneki has just recently undergone a life-threatening medical operation involving the replacement of his organs. Shouldn't he be getting at least a week of medical leave from school from the doctor? Man, Japanese schools these days must be really tough then - even after a major operation, you're expected to return to school the very day you're discharged?
Later, Kaneki realizes that Nishiki's plan is to kill Hide while they go to his place. However, Kaneki decides that the best way to deal with this is to go with them as well? At this point, Kaneki should be terrified of Nishiki, who in their earlier encounter easily beat him hands-down. What in the world is making Kaneki think that his presence is ever going to change any of Nishiki's plans? Kaneki should have at least tried to come up with some excuse to tell Hide that he shouldn't go with Nishiki alone.
In S1 episode 5, Tsukiyama kidnaps Kimi to blackmail Kaneki, but the problem is that there was no way for Tsukiyama to be so confident that he would try to save Kimi anyway. Kaneki literally just met Kimi in the same episode, having visited Nishiki's house for the first time ever. It's quite a far cry from just having met someone to suddenly wanting to save them.
Also, it was unnecessary for Kimi and Kaneki to have their conversation in the park, when they could have simply had it in the house, in private. Having them talk at the park was just a matter of plot convenience to explain how Tsukiyama could eavesdrop on them in the first place.
In the blackmail note that Kaneki reads out, it doesn't even mention the venue where they are supposed to meet. Of course it's implied that Tsukiyama included details about the church they were to have "dinner" at, but this was never explicitly mentioned. Also, how the heck did Toka even know where to go to rescue them? Wait, how did Toka even know they were in trouble in the first place? Is she psychic now?
In S1 episode 7, when Hinami brings Kaneki back to the scene where Ryoko is in trouble, she clearly shouts "Mother!" within 5 metres of the scene. Even if Kaneki managed to shut her mouth to conceal their presence, that one shout should have been clearly audible despite the rain, since it was only 5 metres away. Also, not to mention the fact that they were running straight into the alleyway and were in plain sight for quite a while, so there was no way the doves and their henchmen would not have noticed this.
Also, if we take a closer look how Kaneki and Hinami arrive at the scene, we see them sneaking up behind Mado and Amon, listening to what was going on. This is a contradiction to the earlier scene where Hinami clearly first encountered Mado and Amon from the front, then ran away back the way she came. If she then led Kaneki to the scene, they should be arriving from the front of Mado and Amon, not the other way around.
In S1 episode 8, Amon asks Kaneki, "Why does your kind exist?" This is the exact same question that the anime has completely failed to answer - where exactly do ghouls come from? It's simply been assumed they exist so far, but there has been no effort in explaining their origins.
In S1 episode 10, Kaneki hides the fact that Rize is dead and instead tells Banjo that she isn't there any more. After hearing this, Banjo, after coming all the way from the 11th ward, gives a completely unnatural reaction and accepts that she has just travelled somewhere else. This is an unnatural character reaction because anybody, especially a love-struck Banjo, in that situation would have immediately reacted with, "Where did she go?"
In S1 episode 11, Tsukiyama explains that he managed to keep himself alive by "eating himself." If that's true, then why don't all ghouls simply keep "eating themselves" to survive? Also, even if a ghoul actually tried to eat himself to recover, there's no way he can ever fully recover because every time he eats, he injures himself more and will only ever regenerate the exact amount of which he injured himself. Unless of course, the laws of matter don't apply to ghouls, in which case it's still a plot hole and a horrible explanation of ghoul regenerative mechanics.
In the dungeon scene, Yamori explains that hypothermic needles normally don't affect ghouls unless injected into mucous membranes. While it makes sense that mucous membranes are obviously more susceptible to damage and penetration, the anime here draws into question exactly what property it is of ghoul skin that makes it impervious to knives and sharp objects. Since they decided to come up with "RC inhibition fluid", they should at least provide some scientific explanation as to how different ghoul skin is from humans and why the fluid changes this. But the anime fails to deliver and merely makes things up as it goes and expects the audience to believe their assumptions.
In a news announcement, CCG announces that the ghouls have been occupying a shopping centre more for the past two months, with their numbers at around 500. But wait a moment, CCG has waited for two whole months to pass before they are even taking any actions against this large number of ghouls? Something seems to be a little off here in this organization that's supposed to be protecting the humans in the various wards. It's more shocking than surprising that the CCG took so long to react. Perhaps excessive red-tape was the problem then?
In S1 episode 12, at the start of the episode, Kaneki counts 559, but he had already counted this number in the previous episode. In fact, Kaneki was counting 223 by the middle of episode 11, so does this mean he doesn't know how to count, or did we somehow go back in time here?
Also, Kaneki claims that Yamori took off his hands and feet, but clearly only his toes were getting cut off. His fingers looked perfectly fine being chained behind his back to the chair.
In S2 episode 4, the existence of Cochlea isn't very clearly explained. We know that it's a facility that holds S and SS-rated ghouls, but we don't know for what purpose. There has to be a very good reason for not killing incredibly dangerous ghouls immediately and instead keeping them alive in a facility, hence wasting manpower and resources.Plus, isn't it true that ghouls must feed on human flesh to survive? If that's the case, has the facility been feeding them human flesh? This sounds absurd and calls the very legitimacy of Cochlea into question.
Also, no matter what purpose it is, the security forces deployed within Cochlea seem very pathetic for a place that is supposed to be securing ghouls of such high power ratings. Given the weak security system that is has, the fact that there are so few armed with quinques to defend against ghoul attacks, means its unimaginable how does S and SS-rated ghouls could even be kept down in such a facility in the first place.
Also, who exactly is this person that Kaneki was sent to save from Cochlea? For no reason at all they starting fighting each other, and this person vanishes from the rest of the anime?
In S2 episode 9, after Suzuha throws the paper plane he folded into the city below, there is a shot of it gliding horizontally across the screen with Kaneki in the foreground. It would suffice to say that I've thrown those kind of paper planes many times off high places and they only ever glide for at most 3 seconds, before nose-diving straight down. So I call rubbish on this particular paper plane gliding scene since Suzuha clearly throws it from such a height, and it's not possible for it to continue gliding after descending enough to be in view of Kaneki from the ground below.
Yasumori says that his wife Ukina, performed a "miracle" that allowed her human-ghoul baby to be born, but what exactly is this miracle? This is completely overlooked in the anime and never really explained! Why go through all the trouble telling us that it's impossible to create a ghoul-human baby if you're not going to tell us how they overcame this impossibility?
In S2 Episode 12, Toka runs through the snow, tripping on nothing and then falling down. If she visibly slipped I would have given it to the anime, but it was obvious from the animation that she "tripped". Unfortunately, the anime has joined the likes of many others in causing their characters to trip over nothing just for dramatic effect. Sigh.
Also, the Kanou surgeon who operated on Kaneki just vanished from the anime. He was the one who transplanted Rize's organs into Kaneki and hence played a crucial role in the plot, but was only mentioned once or twice. His motives for creating a one-eyed ghoul went unexplained, even though the anime poked fun at this plot point when they sent Takatsuki Sen to do some random interview at CCG.
So all in all, there are a total of 22 plot holes in this anime, 5 of which are rather major in nature, so this plot gets zero points for coherence and logical sense. This is rather depressing for a plot that itself already suffers from a lack of proper resolution. Despite it's attempt to explore deeper themes, the plot fails with it's many inconsistencies and logical jumps throughout the story.
OP Sequence 1: 2/2 - Beautiful with all the myriad of colours forming the kagunes of the ghouls
OP Sequence 2: 0/1 - What is this crap? A slow motion shot of Kaneki opening his eyes? Pfft.
ED Sequence 1: 0/1- Several dull still scenes, mashed together. No effort put in.
ED Sequence 2: 1/2 - Boring but at least it had some artistry in it
Aesthetics: 2/2 - Generally great because the design put into the characters was very varied, from the hair colour to the clothing style.
Animation: 2/2 - Just awesome and solid especially looking at the kagune and even quinque animations all around.
OP1 Theme: 1/2 - Ok the music was upbeat but the vocals were annoying
OP2 Theme: 0/2 - Just what in the world is this nonsense of an OP theme?
ED1 Theme: 0/2 - Boring and lame
ED2 Theme: 2/2 - No seriously why is this not an OP theme? It's way catchier than the other themes and as better vocals!
Background Music: 2/2 - Generally good, and they even put in some English songs in this one, which somehow managed to fit in.
Tokyo Ghoul introduces so many characters that it's probably difficult to name them all, but we'll just look at the main characters and judge based on how well they've been developed in the anime.
We'll start off with the main character of the series, Kaneki. Kaneki is a rather confused character who's thrown into a conflict that he never wanted to be in, and as a result goes around screaming and going crazy for most of the anime. He wants to be become stronger, and this so that he can protect those close to him, and there's some minor talk of him being the only one who can bridge the gap between humans and ghouls. Kaneki's tired of not being able to protect anyone, but I'm ultimately just tired of all his whining. Sure he does get stronger, he manages to embrace his ghoul nature to become stronger (+1 for slight growth), but he, a main character, has like the least backstory out of all the other characters. In my opinion, Kaneki is a major failure of a main character who, while manages the audience to be sympathetic towards him, doesn't drive the plot and exerts even less influence on other characters, including Hide.
The other main character, Toka, is a much better archetype. She's hardworking, determined, a bit of the Tsundere-type, but ends up having a bit of an effection for Kaneki. She also has like this amazingly beautiful Kagune wings and is really powerful in fights, at least in S1 (+1 for great tsundere female lead). For most of S2 though, she kind of just stays in her state of longing to see Kaneki, and also doesn't drive the plot in any meaningful way. There was one scene where she beats up Kaneki, telling him never to come back to Anteiku again, and that was pretty powerful, showing how desperate Toka was to see Kaneki again. It's a pity Kaneki hardly even returns this affection.
But we move on to much more interesting characters like Amon, one of the investigators for the 20th Ward. Amon is Mado's partner in S1 and Akira's partner in S2, and we can easily see how much Mado has changed Amon from the interactions with him, as well as from lengths of backstory that has made Amon respect Mado enough to continually visit his grave, as shown multiple times in S2 (+1 for backstory). Mado's words continually stick with him as he fights, and he's also no pushover with his dual blades and immense physical strength. His main drawback is his lack of character growth throughout the anime, as even though Kaneki shows him time and time again that ghouls can be good, Amon continues to be obsessed with revenge against Kaneki for killing Mado, and eventually pays with his own life.
The other character that I really like is Akira. Akira starts off as cold, disrespectful to her seniors and task-oriented. Takizawa loathes her, but time and time again, she's shown that she's capable, responsible and hardworking, and that she keeps to a strict lifestyle as well. Akira's character begins to shine in the short scene over dinner where she gets rather drunk and ends up talking about how much she loved her father and mother, and wanted to be like them (+1 for dedicated daughter). She eventually opens up to Amon and even tries to kiss him at one point (+1 for character depth).
Another pair of characters I have to add is the Shinohara - Juzo combination. Both are kind of one-sided without each other, but together they are like a father and son team. Juzo being the crazy scythe-wielding child who was raised by bloodthirsty ghouls, and Shinohara being the kind father who raised him to be an investigator (+1 for father-son relationship). CCG expressed many doubts about Juzo's potential as an investigator, but under Shinohara's guidance and effort, Juzo manages to excel. There's also a scene of Juzo mourning for his dad, which shows that he's grown from seeing death just as "another death" (+1 for character growth).
Yasumori, the One-Eyed Owl, is also a powerful character that I'd like to mention. Initially starting off as a ghoul only taught how to kill, he transforms into a peaceful ghoul after meeting a human lady Ukina who accepts him despite him being a ghoul (+1 for backstory). His interactions with her eventually lead him to set-up Anteiku, which is a symbol of ghoul-human peace throughout the anime, together with the idea of coffee, the only thing that both ghouls and human can enjoy and share together. He's also the only SSS-rated ghoul in the story, having immense power and being able to stand up to 6 investigators in battle at the same time.
Besides all these key characters, there are also an amazing set of varied side characters like Yomo, Koma, Irimi, Hinami, Ayato, Hide, Nishiki who are all amazingly different in their own ways and who also have powerful kagunes. (+1 for varied character cast) It is also rather impressive that the anime managed to draw out the backstories of many of their characters. The only drawback from the characters is honestly Kaneki, who is really lacking in any meaningful character development. It seems like the anime thought that making him scream a lot would make him a more lovable character.
Still, the character interactions are probably what Tokyo Ghoul manages to excel at, so definitely a job well done, but perhaps all the time spent developing characters meant less time to developing a proper plot.
In this aspect, the anime doesn't fail to impress. Whether it's through the fast-paced action scenes or through the intrigue created by the mystery surrounding the One-Eyed Owl, the anime definitely has got me excited about what's going to happen next.
For an anime that isn't technically romance, there's a lot of emotion put into Kaneki's inner turmoil and fight with himself (or Rize / Yamori, if you see it that way). There's also some very memorable character relationships, especially those of Amon-Akira, Shinohara-Juzo and even Toka-Kaneki, where things can get really touching at times.
The anime started off really good, with excitement right from the get-go, but things can get really draggy towards the middle, especially in the scenes post-Aogiri Base arc as well as at the very end where things don't really clear up. The main conflict was of course, not even resolved by the end of it.
This anime receives 1 point for having no filler episodes. (+1)
I can't say I didn't enjoy watching Tokyo Ghoul, as it was definitely a thrill to watch. There was a whole lot of drama thrown in and mixed with the action scenes, but I really thought the anime could have been paced better. Certain plot arcs could have been omitted entirely and other episodes could have been shortened, as many a times they didn't contribute much to the overall plot.
Overall: 6.4 / 10 (rounded down to 6)
The anime looked really promising, but ultimately at the end, it ended with utter disappointment, with no plot ends being tied up and all the surviving characters being left confused and in a lurch. I really hope there is a 3rd season to bring some kind of closure to the plot, as there are still many unanswered questions and characters we haven't even seen yet, but as of S2, the anime has so far not performed to it's full potential, suffering especially in terms of plot.
Mar 19, 2015
10 of 10 episodes seen
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Every once in a while you stumble upon gems amid a sea of plain, gray stones, and to me, Hitsugi no Chaika was one of them. While it was nowhere close to being a masterpiece, Chaika explores certain themes and original ideas that few anime are able to. This action-adventure flick can get a little boring sometimes, but certainly pays off towards the end.
Overall: 7/10 (rounded down from 7.25)
+ Adorable main moe lead (Chaika)
+ Great action & fighting scenes with myriad of magical abilities
+ Huge set of varied and interesting supporting characters
+ Significant plot twists throughout development
+ Excellent OP
and ED themes
+ Great animation
+ Good main antagonist (Gaz)
+ Good resolution
- Disappointing male and female leads (Toru and Akari)
- Plot development is a bit slow and can be draggy at times
- Some plot holes especially in S2
- Dialogue may seem too repetitive in nature
Chaika is set in a world where technology and magic co-exist, or rather where magic is seen as technology and "progressive" in nature. Also, there exists beasts and hostile creatures called Fayla with magical powers that have been studied to research into magic. While the origins and source of said magic research is not shown, the plot does keep to these believable assumptions and does not deviate from the laws it itself creates. (+1 for believable assumptions)
The story is split into 3 main arcs spanning across two seasons. The first, being the "remains gathering" arc, the second being the "Niva Lada arc", and the third and final one being the "Martial Arts Tournament arc".
The story starts off with Toru rescuing Chaika from some hostile Fayla, and already you know you're watching an action flick. It doesn't take long for the audience to realize that Chaika is completely clueless, knowing nothing save for the fact that she wants to collect her father, Emperor Gaz's, remains. Toru and Akari are then hired by her and thus begins a long journey of collecting said remains throughout the first half of series (up to Avenging Battle).
Apparently, we are told multiple times, as if the writers were afraid we'd forget, that Emperor Gaz's remains contain great magical power and we constantly get the feeling that Chaika should be looking more into her lost memories and that as they collect more and more remains, that they are making a mistake and are inadvertently going to bring disaster somehow. (+1 for interest) The story alludes to this by the introduction of Guy, a mysterious informant who does nothing but conveniently tell them where the remains are, yet answers none of their questions as to why Chaika is gathering remains. Chaika's reason was for "Father's funeral".
Also, from the beginning we are introduced to the Gilette squad, whom we already get the feeling from their general aesthetic that they are protagonists alongside Chaika, despite them seemingly trying to stop White Chaika's group from gathering more remains, with the goal of "averting disaster" or the coming of another war. This same idea that the remains could start another war gets constantly repeated and perpetuated that it would come to no surprise that it would indeed start another war - the only question remaining is how it would do so.
The Gilette squad though, while only being supporting cast, actually plays a huge role in this plot. They managed to uncover the secret of Gaz's empire from rumours heard by townspeople who saw large fortresses flying around many years ago. They were also instrumental in helping White Chaika and her gang multiple times along the way.
When we hit halfway into the first season, we get introduced to Red Chaika, who's completely different from our White Chaika, but who's also after the emperor's remains, just for a different purpose - Revenge. And that's where things start to get interesting. The story thrusts us into a realm where many things could be possible, and succeeds in making the audience curious beyond measure, asking questions like "Why are there so many Chaikas collecting remains?" and "Who's orchestrating all this?" but it continues to keep us in constant suspense.
Towards the end of the first season, there's also the introduction of another Blue Chaika, one who gave up completely on her mission of finding remains after finding out the truth that she was just a tool. She instead decides to help two fools in a quest to start a war by killing innocent girls for their memories as a form of magic fuel for flying fortress Soara. After the destruction of Soara, Vivi from the Gilette team turns into a Chaika herself, making the audience even more startled.
Meanwhile, aside from the trio's adventures, there are also multiple scenes of The Alliance of Six Nations discussing whether or not they should take military action against a certain party, and this discussion kind of goes on and on throughout the anime, and even though no decision can ever be reached, most of the parties simply take independent action and launch their flying fortresses anyway - hence completely making every one of these scenes irrelevant, save for Konrad's updates to the Gilette Team.
Most of the first arc felt rather slow and repetitive, it was all about infiltrating some location, housed by some hero who defeated Emperor Gaz 5 years ago, and this hero took one of his body parts as a reward. After getting the remains and the trio would, every single time, question themselves as to why they are getting remains in the first place - to which Toru will always answer "Let's just do it because we can."
Things start to clear up when we hit the second season, in the second arc, when White Chaika gets word from Guy to get her "father's fortune" on a secret island off a coast. As revelation upon revelation about her own past occurs, first from the Kraken Fayla who told her about her use as merely a tool to collect the remains and unlock a "destiny", and second from Iszmash, the wizard who carried out Gaz's dying wishes in creating a super powerful Gundo (magic weapon) - called Niva Lada. (+1 for plot development)
At this point of the story, it also begins to explore themes on whether Chaika was merely a "tool", akin to Niva Lada's role, in the story. Throughout the anime Chaika has been performing a role as a tool, and eventually, is revealed to simply be the "magic" that Gaz himself created to revive himself, but at the same time we can see that Chaika is more than that - despite being young and innocent, she has a personality, stubborn and all, and so does Niva Lada, and this autonomous nature of personality becomes a key driver of the plot, though it's a pity it only appears in the last episode. (+1 for depth)
Already we start to see snippets of how the anime is going end, and in the final arc, the Chaikas begin to gather at the principality of Hartgen, where it seems to be all part of a Black Chaika's plan to get all the remains at one place. After some long action, fighting and random duels, the Black Chaika finally managed to blackmail / steal from all the other Chaikas to finally get a hold of all the remains. At first, we are inclined to think that Hartgen was the perpetrator, but the plot gives a twist again - that it was instead Gaz who had all along planned his reincarnation. (+1 for plot twist)
Then again, this twist was very well substantiated because honestly there were clues littered throughout the entire anime, and for the simple fact that gathering a magician's body parts together in one place was obviously going to revive him. Anyway, Gaz reincarnates and is able to acquire this huge source of magic power, and with Niva Lada in his hands, looks basically unstoppable. Specifically, the reveal of his pre-made satellite technology used for gathering feelings of people for magic fuel, was very ingenious, original and breathtaking to watch. (+1 for originality)
Toru goes on a suicide mission to defeat Gaz that we already know will fail, but enough about him because honestly, Toru sucks. Chaika ends up being the main hero of this story, and in a very fitting way - by recognizing Niva Lada as a "person" - and to saying the final line that she had been saying all along. The line that I found mostly repetitive and annoying throughout, but at the end giving the most fitting finishing line before killing the emperor with his own weapon, "Father, funeral." That has been her objective all along, also making her the only Chaika that was able to kill her own father. (+1 for plot twist)
When it comes to coherence though, the plot also suffers a bit as well.
Throughout the first season, Toru and Akari continuously insist that it's okay if Chaika doesn't know who she really is, so long as she completes her objective. This is completely stupid and against common sense, especially when there are multiple Chaikas around. Even if they are task-oriented people, Saboteurs should at least have enough common sense and intuition to realize the importance of knowing how she got her objective in the first place and where she comes from. What if Chaika was brainwashed by bad people? Could they not have at least considered that possibility? I find it stupid that Toru and Akari make no effort to investigate and find out who Chaika really is - even Gilette did so, and all Gilette needed was to have one encounter with Chaika to set him thinking on the right track!
In episode 3 of S2, Toru's adamant insistence, that finding Gaz's remains is more important than Chaika's wish to see her father's fortune on the hidden island, is invariably stupid. Didn't Toru say before that a Saboteur's objective is his master's objective? If Chaika really wants to go to the island, what right does Toru have to convince to change her mind? In fact, why is Toru so fixated on this collection of remains when all he's doing is supposedly following his master's wishes? As a good saboteur he should be supporting Chaika when she said she wants to find the island. At least towards the end of the episode, Akari points out this contradiction between Toru's words and the "law of Saboteur" that he claims to live by, but I'm still penalizing for this under unreasonable character behaviour.
Also later on in the episode, Toru suggests that the reason why Clay Morgan didn't sell off the remains despite not wanting to be near them, was because he thought he would be cursed if he got rid of them. How does this make sense? If anything, it should be exactly the opposite - he should be scared of a curse if he kept them!
In episode 7, Toru and Akari are seen using these wooden snorkels to dive. Despite having these snorkels though, their heads still resurface when they need another breath of air. What's the point of having those snorkels if you're going to end up resurfacing anyway? Isn't the whole point of it supposed to keep you slightly more inconspicuous as you breathe through the snorkels, just slightly below the surface of the water?
In episode 9, we see the Chaikas being forced to battle it out in a duel orchestrated by the Black Chaika, whose goal was to capture White Chaika and force them to hand over the remains. Not a bad deal, but then why also capture Vivi who didn't have any remains? For entertainment? Also, Gillette's memory erasure was never fully explained. Why is it that only when his hand got cut off did his memories come back to him?
Also, the mystery behind Guy is never really fully explained. He seems to have mind controlling powers as we see in the scene where he saves Gillette from death by ordering all the soldiers around him to surround him using their bodies to protect him from the magic blast. He also seems to have multiple forms of himself towards the end. If Guy was really Gaz, as was suggestion by the similar voice and hairstyle, how did Gaz managed to create Guy? In fact, what's the point of having a human body if Gaz could simply use all his magic through Guy? Guy was basically invulnerable by all his appearing and disappearing.
So a total of 6 plot holes, unfortunately I can't give a bonus point for coherence.
Animation: 3/3 - Very well done. I loved all the Gundo animations when magic was being used, and all the action scenes were very well animated.
Aesthetics: 3/3 - Excellent. Character designs were very varied, many different outfit and hair colours, very pleasing to look at. Even the Fayla designs, demi-human designs were pretty good.
OP Sequence: 1/2 - I didn't really like the first season's one, but the second season had really nice OP sequence
ED Sequence: 1/2 - Just beautiful with the wonderful designs. I liked S1 better than S2 ending sequence.
OP Theme 1: 2/2
ED Theme 1: 2/2
OP Theme 2: 2/2
ED Theme 2: 2/2
Background Music: 2/2 - They also use the same music for most action scenes, and all the sinister scenes, but it's really good :)
It's amazing that all of the themes are just good - all catch and upbeat, exactly the way I like it!
This section is probably where the anime may suffer a bit. We'll go through with the best characters, followed by the worst characters of the lot, from both protagonists and antagonists.
My favourite character definitely has to be Chaika Trabant. While all the other Chaikas are all cute, moe and pretty awesome as well, Chaika Trabant is like the epitome of innocence and cuteness. Her cheeks are always permanently blushing with that red tinge and she is voiced very well with that cutesy voice. She's a magic user so she has basically like a gazillion useful spells up her sleeve, and her stubborn and helpful nature means that she will insist that they save people along the way, like the demi-humans, even if they aren't necessarily part of the objective (+1 for cuteness, innocence and sincerity, +1 for magic usage).
The second best character would have to be Gillette. Despite being relegated to a supporting cast member, Gillette shows a high sense of duty, honour, responsibility, and also lots of courage and bravery - being able to stand up to an entire army, risking his life to save his friends, Viva and Zita in the Soara arc (+1 for bravery). He also shows us that he can think on his own and goes to research about Gaz and his connection with Chaika. Unfortunately, being a supporting cast meant that he doesn't get much screentime and despite playing a key role in the plot, is not developed any much further beyond that. But he's still very likeable as a character.
The other character worth special mention is Gaz himself, the main antagonist of the story, later revealed. He's a not the simple villain type role who only seeks destruction around the world, he merely uses war as a means to further magic research, to gain magic fuel, as well as power to rule over the entire continent (+1 for deep motives). While he may seem inherently cruel, and throughout the anime stays shrouded in mystery, he's also actually contributed lots to the progress of society with his research of magic tools, so perhaps he's not such a bad guy after all.
Last but not least, the character that shows the most amount of growth through the anime is actually Vivi, the girl on Gillette team who not so secretly likes Gillette. At the beginning, she doesn't show much development, she was just portrayed as shy, and a bit like a tsundere-type, but once Gillette is reportedly dead by Leo, she transforms into a chaika herself and starts making things happen on her own rather than always clinging on to Gillette. Her determination really starts to show, and even though Nikolai was given mantle of leadership, it mostly seemed like it was Vivi who was the most influential in the group (+1 for character growth). It was also a pity that we didn't get to see more of this beautiful supporting character.
Now we come to the rather problematic Toru and Akari. Sure, they are both good fighters, but beyond that they are nothing special. Their Iron-Blood Transformation was supposed to make them faster and stronger, but in almost every battle they end up just being on par with their opponents, hence making them actually physically weaker or making the transformation have so little effect that it's technically useless.
Toru is a major problem in this anime and it's a shame that he was given they main character role over others. Toru's main flaw is with his narrow-mindedness and ability to only think about the objective, following the "Saboteur's Law" which Shin has constantly reminded him that he isn't cut out to be a saboteur in the first place. Toru makes countless of annoying references about being a Saboteur, and while it's great to see that he has fervent loyalty to Chaika, his loyalty is also baseless and he fails to substantiate anything he does with any reasoning beyond "It's my duty." Even at the last part when he goes on a suicide mission, it was simply for revenge on Gaz for calling Chaika just a tool? I mean, really what gives with this stupid male lead?
Then we have the other stupid female lead, Akari. Akari is slightly more interesting because at least she has this brother complex that makes her say weird and inappropriate things about Toru, things like being wet, preying on girls and so on, but her character also fails to pull through. She maintains only 1 kind of facial expression throughout the show and I've honestly never seen her smile, cry, laugh or anything of the sort. She seems devoid of emotions and her character is reduced to nothing but "brother complex", which is very sad for one of the main characters.
Luckily for the anime, it's saved by it's host of very varied and interesting supporting cast members like Fredrica, the adorable dragoon, Zite, Nikolai, Claudia the vineyard manager and even the whole of Chaika Bogdan (Red Chaika)'s group. All of them are just a really great cast that made the story a whole lot more interesting and enjoyable to watch. (+1 for variety of supporting cast)
So as a whole, the characters are mostly fine, save for the main characters Toru and Akari, whose backstory was pretty okay save for the fact that it didn't get any proper character development whacked into them somehow. This is a first for a set of main characters who have a backstory to have so little and so trivial development. Just a complete disappointment.
The suspense for this anime, despite it not being a mystery show, was pretty good and they managed to keep it up all the way until the Niva Lada arc, which by that time, I was honestly thinking the resolution was going to fall flat on it's face due to the number of unanswered questions, but eventually the anime delivered so I'm giving it a point. (+1 for suspense)
The action sequences in this anime were also very good from start to finish. Every episode had a good action scene in them and it was also using a combination of interesting magic spells coupled with saboteur-fighting, plus throw in a dragoon and you've got a great fight sequence (+3 for action).
There was also some parts of humour in the show, particularly with Akari's completely inappropriate and spontaneous comments that came out of her brother complex, every time that Toru gets wet or has to go with Chaika. Red Chaika's interactions with Toru when she was captured was also rather funny to watch. (+1 for comedy)
As for pacing, the story started off really slowly, with not much going on and the plot hardly progressing beyond collecting more remains. At this point, things and conversations could get so repetitive that it was tempting to just skip to where more key plot lines were being uncovered. Towards the middle, even as things were being revealed, it also took a really long time, with Blue Chaika (Layla), the Kraken, Iszhmash and finally Gaz himself to tell Chaika that she was a tool before it finally hit her. The good thing was, at least the story didn't end abruptly, and the resolution was pretty much complete. (+1 for satisfactory resolution)
This anime receives a bonus point for not having any filler episodes! (+1 bonus point)
Having watched Shingeki no Bahamut (an anime with a very similar plot line) before this, I was really expecting to be disappointed at the resolution. Fortunately, I wasn't, the anime resolves all the conflict in quite an amazing fashion, tying up most loose ends, and wrapping up a plot that had much fewer plot holes than that of Bahamut. Another key difference is that while Bahamut's forte lies in the exquisite nature of Favaro, the hero, Chaika's forte lies in the innocence and sincerity of Chaika, the tool. While both animes may seem similar, I ultimately enjoyed Chaika better than Bahamut, owing to a more consistent plot that had less plot holes overall, and a much better antagonist.
Feb 13, 2015
13 of 13 episodes seen
people found this review helpful
Black Bullet refers to the Varanium bullets used by civil officers, the only bullets capable of bringing down the alien menace that has been plaguing humanity, especially in the Tokyo Area. The anime bears several similarities to the well-received Attack on Titan series, but ultimately fails to deliver with its absurd and forced plot twists, its lack of supporting character development and its failure to offer proper resolution to the main conflict that it proposes.
Overall: 5/10 (rounded up from 4.875)
+ Exciting for some action scenes
+ Great fast-paced action music
+ Good art and animation
+ Lots of moe characters
+ Great OP
- Poor and messy plot lines
- Forced and unconvincing plot twists and lousy plot explanations
- Underdeveloped cast of characters
- Lack of proper pacing throughout anime, boring towards the middle
- Lack of satisfactory resolution
- Cliched and unoriginal main character
- Lack of antagonist development
- Insane amount of plot holes (17 in total)
Black Bullet is about humanity's defense against the Gastrea, an unknown alien lifeform that can infect humans and convert them into Gastrea, which threatens to destroy this particular Tokyo Area. Civil officers, also known as Promoters, are paired with Initiators, girls born with Gastrea Virus and have special powers, to fight against the Gastrea threat together. It is not known why Gastrea Virus only allows for the Cursed Children to be born only as females, but it sure helps the entire harem genre.
The plot of Black Bullet is divided into 3 distinct plot arcs, namely the Hiruko Kagetane arc, the Tina Sprout arc and the final Aldebaran arc. I will go through the merits and flaws of each arc chronologically.
In the first arc, our two inseparable protagonists, Satomi and Enju start off in the middle of a mission to locate and eliminate a Gastrea running rampant in the streets of Tokyo. The promoter-initiator team fail to catch it, but instead faces off with an infected human who turns into a Gastrea himself, and destroys him before he causes more havoc. Immediately we are given a grim reminder of how gory and bloody this anime can be, and of how much resemblance it bears to classic "zombie"-type shows where humans are at risk of turning into monsters themselves. (+1 for excitement)
Immediately afterward, the two are summoned by Seitenshi to a meeting of civil officers, where one of them, Hiruko Kagetane, starts killing off many of the civil officers there without proper reason and threatens to obtain a dangerous package, said to be able to summon a level 4 Gastrea, located within the Gastrea that was running rampant. At this point, explanation about the different classes and levels of Gastrea make them seem very similar to the Kaijus as depicted in Pacific Rim, where the higher level they are, the large and more powerful they become. As Satomi races to get the package ahead of Kagetane, he encounters them and gets defeated but somehow survives to have another go at them again. This time, he and Enju managed to beat them and retrieve the package that Seitenshi needed.
The contents of the package, as it turns out, happens to be a little bicycle rather than something dangerous that Satomi thought it would be, but after confronting Seitenshi about this, he isn't given any answers and for the rest of this anime, nothing further is said about the first Kanto war, or about the origins of the Gastrea in the first place, so that's a real bummer. The anime completely avoids any explanation on the entire point of the first arc, so it really suffers from plot depth entirely.
In the second arc, Seitenshi hires Satomi as a personal bodyguard, and in so doing introduces a very unnecessary, stupid and annoying "rivalry" between Satomi and Yasuwaki, who has a complex for Seitenshi-sama (though honestly, who wouldn't when she has that innocent kind of face?). This particular plot point sparks off an entire host of stupid "revenge" things that Yasuwaki does which end up as failed plot twists. We learn soon that Seitenshi is an assassination target by a girl called Tina Sprout, who so happens bumps into Satomi in the day, and has to face-off with him at night while he is guarding Seitenshi.
When Ayn Rand, Tina's boss, finds out Satomi's identity, he orders Tina Sprout to kill Kisara, Satomi's boss. At this point Tina doesn't know that Satomi is the bodyguard and she conveniently drops her phone after someone bumps into her so that she never gets the information that Satomi was actually her target. Kisara nearly dies in Tina's hands, but it was honestly Tina's fault that she failed to kill Kisara faster. Anyway, Satomi is there to save her and finally faces off against Tina in a battle where Satomi triumphs.
Yasuwaki then randomly appears and shoots Tina, and then immediately gets demoted by Seitenshi, who has somehow known that Tina was being controlled by Ayn Rand, and then promotes Satomi to be Yasuwaki's senior-in-rank. Again, at the end of the arc, we get no explanation about Ayn Rand and his connection to Sogen, the alleged perpetrator of the whole episode, and we also get no explanation as to why Tina wasn't charged with anything and how come she can suddenly join the Tendo Civil Security agency. This arc was honestly quite the mess.
The last and final arc was basically a huge war between the Gastrea and the civil officers, sparked by the collapse of Monolith 32 due to a varanium-corrosive liquid that a level 4 Gastrea, Aldebaran was emitting. It starts off with Satomi looking around for people to join his team, and managed to get Katagiri Tamaki, his older brother and Shouma Nagisawa, and old friend, to do so.
While preparations are being made to defend against the frontal Gastrea assault, there is a side-story arc about Satomi and Kisara teaching a group of Cursed Children kids and getting all familiar with them before they are brutally bombed by unknown people who are not mentioned in the anime, and increasing the drama and tension between normal people and cursed children, and advancing the plot in no particular way. This segment was completely useless because the children were only after they died, so the melodrama felt completely forced and lame.
Anyway, back to the war, the civil officers are down to 50% of the strength after they unexpectedly encounter the Pleiades, known as the Spear of Light that killed many of their forces in the first battle. Satomi then, under orders, sets off the kill the Pleiades once and for all so that they would have an upper hand in the subsequent fight. Satomi ends up encountering Kagetane, whom he thought he killed off in the first arc, who saved his life from a bunch of Gastrea wolves. The two end up cooperating to kill of Pleiades and they rush back to the remaining civil officers to regroup for a final stand against the remaining Gastrea.
After some absolutely mindless dictatorship act by Satomi, who claims that it's better for the civil officers to fear their leader than to fear the Gastrea, they come up with a plan, together with Miori, a weapons specialist, to insert an EP Bomb capable of destroying the supposedly-immortal Aldebaran from the inside. As the plan goes underway, Satomi managed to get the bomb in, but for reasons unknown and for plot convenience, the bomb's timer malfunctions and Shouma ends up having to use his shockwave punch to detonate it, killing both Aldebaran and Shouma in a massive giant explosion.
In the end, they are announced as victors of the 3rd Gastrea War. Kisara ends up killing Kazumitsu, her brother, who endangered everyone's lives by making Monolith 32 out of cheaper material. However, nothing conclusive is said about the entire discrimination against Cursed Children conflict and the perpetrators who bombed innocent schoolchildren were never found. Also, Kisara ends up being engulfed by some inner evil and leaves Satomi, putting an end to a relationship that the audience honestly wanted to have succeeded.
Most of the story was pretty much cliched and non-original. While there was some attempt at creating a deeper plot, by chunking elements of discrimination, revenge and corruption into it, none of these themes were thoroughly examined enough to give it credit. Also, none of the plot twists made any sense, as those that were surprising were incoherent and those that had potential were never explained. There was at least a main overarching conflict as in the war against Gastrea, but this conflict was never resolved (+1). As for coherence, I have a lot of plot holes to mention.
In Episode 2, the old man in the business suit tells all the civil security officers intend to decline the job to leave, despite him not informing them anything about the details of the job. He then goes on to say that the moment they are informed, they cannot decline. So basically nobody is allowed to make informed decisions? In the end, the job of retrieving the package turned out to be "first-come-first-serve" so none of what that man said held any water.
Also, in episode 2, when Hiruko Kagetane is officially introduced, he takes out a clean present that is later revealed to have contained a decapitated head. The anime then cuts into a horrifying "reveal" of a bloodied present to give the audience a scare. But this is all a farce because if there really was a bloody head inside, how the heck did Kagetane keep the present so clean all this while? Also, if Kagetane killed that man earlier, shouldn't all the blood in the head have dried up by now? None of this makes sense, the dramatic reveal was really forced.
In episode 3, there is a lot of talk about the Initiators being discriminated against even though they protect humanity. But if the Cursed Children are the only way to defeat Gastrea, then why are so many of them still left to live alone in the outskirts? Is the majority of humanity ignorant of this fact? Because that's not possible with so many civil servants around.
Also, why aren't these children being sent to government training facilities and made to hone their skills to fight against Gastrea? Why is it that so many of these children are left abandoned, left to die, and only a few are becoming Initiators? That's just a huge wastage of talent right there.
Also, when Satomi is defeated by Kagetane, he gets shot in the chest, then stabbed and sawed repeatedly by two swords, then shot again in the chest and falls off a cliff into a river. It's hard to believe at this point, that he could still possibly survive. Even if the blood loss doesn't kill him, he would drown. Also, he manages to recover without any major organ damage within one day and three hours. I don't know about you, but this guy must be Wolverine or something.
In Episode 6, highly skilled assassin Tina finds that the best way to identify her target is to simply ask the target herself and get vocal confirmation, instead of visual confirmation. This basically gives Kisara time to react and prevented Tina from succeeding her mission with one hit. Not very professional, if you ask me. If Tina's boss has given her all the required information to track down Kisara, there's no reason he wasn't able to give her an image to allow her to confirm her target.
In Episode 7, Yasuwaki goes to ambush Satomi and shoots Tina, then says that he wanted to see Satomi's desperate reaction to it. But how would Yasuwaki know anything about Satomi's relationship with Tina? In fact, how would Yasuwaki even know that Tina was still alive when she was barely even moving in Satomi's arms? Also, how the heck were the two others guards able to pin down Satomi by just holding each of his arms? Satomi is way stronger than that and would have easily escaped their grapple and stopped Yasuwaki.
At the end of the episode, Tina joins Kisara's agency but nothing is said of her interrogation or sentence. Does this mean Tina was acquitted? How and why? Perhaps because she was a minor?
I guess that means it's perfectly fine to assassinate people as long as you're a minor then. Also, even though the anime does mention that Ayn Rand would come to target her soon, this is never followed-up on in the anime, so it fails right there.
In Episode 10, the anime makes a futile attempt at introducing the names of the schoolchildren after they've all died. Unfortunately, they should have done this earlier and since all of the children were pretty much the same, they could all have just been one entity and it wouldn't have mattered. The entire emotional scene is a complete farce that doesn't do anything for the plot anyway. Who bombed the place? How did this person know that place amidst all the rubble even exists? None of this was explained in the anime, just left hanging for audiences to get confused.
In Episode 11, Tina says that her Shenfield scanners can only scan surroundings but cannot send images to her. This makes no sense because if she can control them remotely, and if Shenfield has a scanning ability, there's no reason why it can't send the wavelength information back to her. Also, how does she know that the mercury-shooting Gastrea was large if she didn't get any image from Shenfield? This is just a convenient way to introduce a new enemy while keeping it mysterious.
Also, if Tina noticed this dangerous Gastrea during the battle, why only bring it up so long AFTER the first battle ended? Did she not think that such information would be incredibly useful in making tactical decisions during the battle?
In Episode 12, we are so many years into the future but Miori is using stage lighting to locate the enemy? What ever happened to infrared radar, satellite tracking or even sonar? And if the Aldebaran is so huge anyway, isn't it pretty obvious where it's location is? It can be seen from like miles away, and that amount of destruction it leaves in it's wake is completely noticeable!
Furthermore, at the end of the episode, Yasuwaki decides that throwing away the batteries and potentially letting the whole of Tokyo Area and himself get destroyed is okay as long as he gets his revenge on Rentaro. Do I look like I have the time to put up with any more of this annoying and stupid character's nonsense? Seriously?
And finally, we have episode 13 which has like the most plot holes of the entire anime, attributing it to the incredibly horrible resolution.
First, the Tokyo citizens light up flying lanterns to represent their wishes, which inadvertently helps Satomi and the others to identify the enemy's position. If they needed those huge spotlights to spot the Aldebaran in the first place, there's no way those lanterns flying so high up in the sky would give enough light to light up the place anyway. The hot air would carry them too high up in the sky for their light to reach the ground below, even if there were millions of those lanterns.
Also, for the lanterns to give enough light throughout the entire battle, the citizens would have to be continually lighting up lanterns repeatedly throughout the battle, otherwise the lanterns would burn out within 15 minutes. But we clearly see the citizens doing nothing but watching after lighting up the first set of lanterns.
Second, at the most critical point of the anime, they throw another expected senseless twist.
The EP bomb has an "error" for no apparent reason other than plot convenience so that Satomi and Shouma can dramatically decide to sacrifice themselves in an attempt to destroy Aldabaran.
Third, Satomi punches Enju in the stomach to knock her out so that he can sacrifice himself, but this is the first time I've heard of the idea of someone getting knocked out by a blow to the stomach. In fact, Enju is more likely to have suffered severe organ damage before any loss of consciousness would have occured.
Fourth, Kisara has always been saying that Gastrea killed her parents, how did she suddenly know that Kazumitsu was to blame for her parents' death, just because of his involvement with Monolith 32? There seems to be a rather huge logic jump here. Even if her parents' death was suspicious, there was no reason to suspect her brother immediately.
Fifth, Kisara claims that the second strike of her secret sword style moves "faster than sound".
Unfortunately, when Kisara did that move, no sound was heard from the shockwaves that should have been created by the blade moving so quickly through the air.
Also, the sudden reveal that Kisara had already killed Kazumitsu made no sense whatsoever. Even if her slash was so quick that it was unnoticeable, it cannot explain why it took so long for Kazumitsu's head to split apart. Kazumitsu easily sat there talking with Kisara for 3 minutes before he "exploded" into blood and gore. This sudden twist was rather unnecessary and incredibly forced.
Altogether that's a total of 17 plot holes (for a 13-episode anime, that's pretty high, more than 1 plot fail per episode), and because of the incredibly high number, I'm afraid I have to go with zero points for coherence and logical sense of this plot, because there basically just isn't any. The plot does more to confuse us than to amaze us and spits at us when it wants to make twists. This is honestly the first time I've given a score for the plot for any anime so low.
The general artistic theme of the anime is pretty good, I thoroughly enjoyed the drawing and aesthetic of all the characters. They were pretty varied and creatively drawn. Even Seitenshi-sama who had quite the mono-colour scheme fit well with her "fixed" mindset and personality. The fighting scenes were pretty well animated, and was exciting when it was done well. Unfortunately, there were many instances where this anime got lazy with those scenes and made them end in mere seconds.
Opening sequence: 2/2
Ending sequence: 0/2
OP Theme: 2/2 - Absolutely fantastic, I always kept this running through every episode because it was so upbeat and exciting
ED Theme: 1/2 - Quite an okay theme, but nothing too amazing
Background Music: 3/4 - Most of it was actually really good, like during the action and fast-paced scenes, the music really kept the suspense up. But for the emotional scenes, they kept repeating the same not-very-melancholic tune over and over again that it really detracted from those scenes.
No additional themes: 0/2
The main character is Satomi Rentaro, a civil officer who is basically a fighter of justice (and oh I've heard this title far too often already). He has exceptional Tendo skills and his martial art fighting style is simple, yet powerful and effective. (+1 for great fighting skills) Unfortunately nothing much else stands out for him. His character is rather cliched, just the same hero trying to protect the people around him and is willing to risk his life in doing so. At one point, his character seems to change and he becomes a ruthless dictator to rally the troops together, but this is completely reversed when we know he is just putting on an act. He's your stereotypical male lead with little more than face value.
The other character that I was quite interested in at the beginning was Kisara. She clearly had a very dark past, even setting up her civil security agency out of "revenge" against the Gastrea. Although we don't see much character development apart from "having feelings for Satomi", she eventually goes crazy out of her desire for revenge that she murders her own brother and sells her soul to evil. This is pretty rare for animes out there, to have a main character becoming "corrupt" and never really resolving by the end of the anime, so I'll at least give a point for that. (+1 for unique growth). She also has pretty badass sword skills but they were so rarely shown in the anime, it's hard to love her for that. She is pretty moe though, and does get into a lot of awkward and funny interactions with Satomi, so I guess that's a plus (+1 for cuteness).
Enju Aihara, Satomi's partner, first strikes as a very lovable, cute character. She's playful, has an obsession for Rentaro, and is probably the most developed and grown character out of all the initiators out there. She starts off naive, ignorant of the real world, but once she is exposed to seeing the discrimination against Cursed Children, leading to death and destruction, we start to see a slight improvement in maturity, where she learns, through talks with Satomi, to decide for herself what she is fighting for (+1 for growth). Unfortunately, she doesn't get much action time and ultimately just sits back and does nothing for the plot while Satomi does all the plot-driving work.
Then we have the antagonist, or former antagonsit, Hiruko Kagetane, who starts off being portrayed as a bloodthirsty crazy killer who kills without reason, into having some actual reasons for him doing so (aka "ushering a new age"). But he has this weird interest in Satomi that convinces him not to kill Satomi off immediately, and even ends up teaming up with him and protecting him from bullets toward the end of the anime. We don't know much else about him, except that he's a rather complex and interesting character. (+1 for interest)
The last character that is worth mentioning is Tina Sprout, who converted from being an assassin who targets Seitenshi, to a fellow Initiator, and Kisara's partner. She starts off completely brainwashed, feeling purposeless if she doesn't listen to orders and kill people, and eventually managed to find hope in Satomi, whom she also falls for. Unfortunately, after that point she also lost all sense of being a character whatsoever. In fact, it's not just Tina, but all the other Cursed Children as well who all suddenly begin to converge into a single entity - this collective archetype of people who "fall in love with Satomi" and think of nothing but marrying him. All of a sudden, the character development falls off when it could have taken flight, so this was honestly very unfortunate.
The rest of the supporting cast does have a host of interesting characters. People like Sumire, Shouma and Kayou Senji, all look like they have been through a lot, and I would really have loved to hear their backstories, but we know basically none of it. We know a bit of their background, but nothing substantial enough to have a say on their character. Every other character is a complete waste of time and even less is known about them.
Altogether, this anime was quite the disappointment for me, but I wasn't expecting much from it either. There were some parts that I got really bored, and there were also some parts where I was quite interested to watch on.
On the humour side, the anime has performed okay. There were many funny parts between Satomi and Kisara and their supposed love line, and this happens throughout the anime. Enju's and Tina's reactions to Satomi are also funny at first, until it becomes a bit too repetitive until they weren't funny anymore. But there were also funny parts involving Sumire who constantly teased Satomi about his crush for Kisara. (+1)
In terms of excitement, I would say that the anime has done rather well. From the beginning it kicked off with great action that got more and more interesting as the story progressed from just fighting Gastrea to dealing with an assassination threat and finally to an all out war. I can't give full points for it though because the action and excitement during the final arc was very underwhelming, and I honestly expected to see much more "war" scenes than just the few that occurred. (+2)
In terms of emotion, the anime really and completely failed there. There are some valid attempts during the parts where Satomi and Enju are emotionally torn about what they are fighting for. But in especially the part where Satomi mourns for the dead schoolchildren, the emotion really felt so forced because we didn't even know their names before they died, and while the voice acting was realistic, the character development was not. (+1)
Pacing-wise, the anime definitely managed to grip the audience from the beginning, but it kind of faltered towards the middle and failed to sustain this interest throughout. There were many slow-paced scenes where I honestly felt bored with all the talking and there were scenes which I felt I could simply totally skip because they bore no significance to the plot or characters. Also, the resolution wasn't very satisfactory because the threat of Gastrea was still out there and there were many loose ends about the truth of Gastrea, the future of Kagetane, Kisara, and many things unexplained. (+1)
This anime receives 1 bonus point for having no filler episodes. (+1)
Black Bullet is probably an anime you want to watch only if you have some time to kill and really no other shows to watch, or you just want to watch something without becoming too overly attached to it. It suffers from a great many plot holes and lousy plot developments, coupled with poor resolution and plot explanations. It also basically suffers from sub-par characters with little backstory and development to work with. The best part of this anime was the action music, no doubt about it.
Jan 16, 2015
12 of 12 episodes seen
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"Which way does the wind blow? To tomorrow!"
Shingeki no Bahamut is a pre-apocalyptic show about fate, destiny and what it means to change your fate, thrown into a cast of very unique characters and a power struggle between angels, humans and demons. The show is very promising from the beginning, builds up a lot of excitement in the middle, but ultimately ends in a rather anti-climactic fashion with insufficient resolution.
+ Very unique character and setting designs
+ Good and varied main and supporting cast
+ Exciting and interesting from the beginning
+ Good plot twist towards the end, though it may
+ Some good comic moments
- Very underdeveloped antagonist characters
- Fails to have a good resolution
- Anti-climactic climax at the end of the anime
- Many plot holes left unexplained
- Lack of development in supporting characters
I'm going to tackle this plot analysis in a slightly different manner and instead of focusing on key plot arcs, I'm going to structure this on the various plot merits. The story itself is rather simple. Two bounty hunters and childhood friends, Favaro an Kaisar are at odds with each other. By chance or fate, Favaro meets Amira, a half-demon half-angel, who has just stolen the God Key and received instructions to go to Helheim. Favaro then promises to help Amira to bring her to Helheim but himself doesn't know a thing about where Helheim is or whether it actually exists.
1. Ingenuity / Interest
The story starts off with the main conflict right from the beginning. Constantly, we are being reminded that everything that the protagonists are trying to do, is to stop Bahamut's impending revival after the God Key was stolen. This same old story of imminent doom is repeated over and over again, as if the audience was too forgetful to remember how deadly Bahamut actually is. (+1 for overarching conflict)
Bahamut was in fact, so deadly, that most of the cities managed to rebuild themselves sufficiently within the next 6 months, which is much shorter than it took Haiti to recover from the 2010 earthquake, and Sri Lanka to recover from the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami. Clearly, Bahamut does less damage in 15 minutes than natural disasters can do in mere seconds. So, not that big of a deal actually.
The anime did do a good job of attempting to fool the audience into thinking that Bahamut was very powerful though. There were numerous scenes throughout the anime, and in almost every episode, of the angels in heaven creating a barrier made up of tessellated hexagons, struggling to keep Bahamut's pre-awakening power in check. The angels constantly make remarks like, "We can't keep this up... at this rate, we won't last..." Archangel Michael even once says, "If this is the power of Bahamut before he awakens, then how much more when he actually does?"
The old "the world is coming to an end" overarching conflict is not an original one unfortunately, so the story gets no points for that. Also, as far as plot is concerned, I was never really very excited about seeing Bahamut in action, neither was I very concerned about whether or not he would revive in the first place - because by half of the anime and due to all the constant reminders of Bahamut's terrifying power, it was obvious that he was going to revive anyway, and then get beaten by a random hero anyway.
2. Depth / Development
In this case, the story didn't offer much depth behind it at all. While Favaro's random musings about what his father said was interesting, all his talk about fate and changing your fate just sounded very cliched and fell on deaf ears. There was nothing remotely thematic about the rest of the story.
Also, the story was so simple that they really stuck to the classic protagonist and antagonist stereotype. The main antagonist, Martinet, the ultimate manipulator's, real motives were basically to watch the world get destroyed, which is a very shallow explanation of his evil schemes. The protagonists on the other hand, simply want to do the opposite - prevent the world from getting destroyed, and nothing much else. It lacked a lot of complexity and depth in this area.
The only plot development came in the form of the forced suspense at finding out who the real mastermind behind Amira's stealing of the God Key was. And I say forced because they basically used the same old "masked figure" who goes about doing obviously evil stuff in Anatae but they intentionally don't show us his face just because they want to keep us asking who it is. But this is repeated so many times that we're no longer interested to find out, or, the more perceptive would already know that this was Lavalley. So again, very limited plot development beyond the main plot line. (+1 for a little development)
There was one good plot twist though, that Martinet was actually Lavalley, even if it was already hinted much earlier in the Anatae arc, when Lavalley first secretly meets Amira out of sight of everyone else, suggesting that Lavalley was actually a bad guy in disguise. Also, the anime tried not to make it too obvious, by making Lavalley fabricate a fake back story for Amira, as well as making him look like he was trying to stop Jeanne D' Arc's burning at the stake. (+1 for plot twist)
3. Coherence / Logical Sense
There are a whole host of plot holes in this story, but at least the main assumptions of the story are believable - that there are 2 parts of a key that awakens Bahamut when they fuse together, and that it is prophesied that a hero would be able to stop Bahamut, that there exists angels, demons and humans and that Amira could be born of both demon and angel (+1 for believable assumptions)
The way the plot progressed also at least made some sense, and there were no super obvious flaws in the way the main conflict was presented and dealt with. Plot lines also progressed smoothly without any major anomalies. (+1 for making some sense)
Unfortunately, there were many instances where Kaisar reacted very unbelievably and unnaturally, even given his characterization as a narrow-minded person who is greatly affected by everyone around him. From things like crying for Rita, to being over-protective of Amira, to trying to kill Favaro numerous times without even bothering to clarify what happened, to suddenly become super cooperative with Favaro.
Bonus Points: Not awarded due to 9 plot holes.
In episode 1, Favaro and Kaisar are pictured on horseback, jumping off a bridge and falling 15 times their own height through the air (roughly 27 metres) before the horses landed on uneven roof tile surfaces. There is no possible way that this stunt could be performed without inflicting some serious injury on both the horses and the rider, and it is definite that the horses wouldn't be able to continue galloping on top of houses either.
In episode 3, Kaisar cries over Rita's zombified body when she turns into a zombie after being bitten by one of her own undead units, but Kaisar literally just met Rita in this episode, and it's quite far a stretch to say that Kaisar has any feelings for the young girl at this point in time. All he really did was tell Rita about his backstory and have Rita tell him how pathetic the story sounded.
In episode 4, Kaisar has only just met Amira, but suddenly wants to "protect" and "save" her for no real apparent reason, other than the fact that she is a girl. Kaisar seems to have this weird inclination to protect any girl that he meets, doesn't he? Or maybe that's part of his characterization as a noble knight, but it still doesn't make sense whatsoever.
In episode 5, Azazel claims that the New Orleans' Knights were lying in ambush for his demon ship in Sword Valley, but in the show it clearly shows most of the knights on horseback, holding their flag and emblem high in plain sight - it was clearly a direct confrontation rather than an ambush. It's not possible that Azazel's scouts only managed to catch sight of the entire army after they were attacked, since most of Sword Valley's terrain is flat and there is no terrain cover whatsoever.
In episode 6, the three archangels, Michael, Raphael and Uriel, decide that letting the humans take care of Amira, who is currently also sought after by the demons, is a lot better than personally sending angels down to guard Amira themselves. I don't believe the angels lacked manpower since in the last episode, they clearly still had tons of reinforcements and sparing a few to look after Amira would have been a much better idea.
In episode 11, archangel Michael somehow realizes that the small little unnoticeable purple ball that Rita threw at Jeanne, which bounced off a flying duck, was the antidote for Jeanne's demon transformation, and decides to give up his own life to turn Jeanne back to normal. There is no way, that Michael would be noticing a small ball in an aerial combat situation between Jeanne and Bacchus, also there is absolutely no way Michael can deduce even remotely that this ball is an antidote that works on Jeanne.
Episode 12, Favaro decides that cutting Kaisar's forearm off to fool Martinet into thinking that he was still under his control, and then using the bounty hunter tool on Kaisar's arm to capture Martinet, was a better option than having Kaisar simply use the tool himself. All Kaisar needed was just for Favaro to block Martinet's view of Kaisar for long enough for him to suddenly shoot out the wristband in Martinet's direction and say the commands. It was unnecessary drama and in Rita's words, "Letting your arm get chopped off, that's stupid."
Also, if all Favaro did was to stab a Barb of Bahamut onto Bahamut's head, then honestly couldn't any random flying angel or demon do it? All they had to do was pass Favaro's barb to any flying ally and it was a done deal. From the angels' point of view, it seems like it was a lot more difficult trying to defend against an awakening Bahamut than an already awakened one.
Plus, if we look back at Martinet's plan closely, we can see a key plot hole resurface at the start of the anime. If Martinet's plan was really to get Amira to steal the God Key and then have her bring it to Helheim, why did he simply leave Amira wandering around herself, trying to find a way to get to Helheim? Shouldn't Martinet have at least given Amira the other half of the pendant so that she could find her way, from the beginning, rather than have some random, unreliable bounty hunter clumsily try to help her find the way there? Martinet made pretty much no effort on his own to positively ensure that Amira would end up and find herself in Helheim, he just basically somehow believed that Favaro would magically lead her there.
Overall the plot suffers in every department - it lacks a whole lot of depth, it isn't particularly interesting or exciting, it's poorly developed and it also suffers from a great host of plot holes. Unfortunately for this 13-episode anime, they couldn't really pull off the plot well enough.
OP Sequence: 2/2
ED Sequence: 0/2
The OP Sequence was very well crafted and was beautiful, but I really didn't like the artistic style for the ED Sequence. On the aesthetics side, I loved the character and setting designs that this anime used - really quite unique styles - from Favaro's afro to Kaisar's weird hairstyle to Bacchus and his drunk look and Rita, the kawaii zombie girl, was really a joy to watch. The animation side suffers just slightly a little because I thought Bahamut himself was quite poorly animated and made him a lot less threatening than it could have been. He continued to seem frozen in stone because Bahamut never moved anywhere away from his original location.
OP Sequence: 1/2
ED Sequence: 0/2
Background Music: 4/4
Additional Themes: 0/2
The OP Sequence sounds good at first, but after awhile gets really jarring and I kept skipping it after that. The ED Sequence was basically as boring as the animation they put for it. Background music was good though, with a good mix of both eerie and action-packed music. I also liked how they used a lot of vocal orchestra in this - keeping to the Bahamut's "ancient" theme. No points for additional themes though, because there were none.
The main characters are Favaro, Kaisar, Amira and Rita in that order for the protagonists, and Martinet and Beelzebub in that order for the antagonists. The rest of the cast - Bacchus, Hamsa, Jeanne, Azazel, Michael are supporting characters.
Favaro definitely is one of the most unique characters I have ever come across. More than just having a weird afro, his constant switching between serious to playful, his style of not wanting to do more than he should, yet knowing that he will regret it, and his general ability to joke around even in the most direst of situations really make you want to love him. You can tell he also changes slightly - from going to simply being happy go lucky to actually taking responsibility for his actions and for Amira, whom he learns to really take care of, like a younger sister (+1 to uniqueness, +1 to growth) His backstory though is kind of insufficient, since we really don't know what exactly happened when his dad and the bandits attacked Kaisar's dad.
Kaisar as a character actually falls short of almost anything. He's a cliched noble knight who fails at doing everything precisely because he keeps trying to uphold these noble values without being able think straight and to make reasonable judgements about the situation. He's also fairly useless in the entire anime - his only use being to save Favaro from the demon-state of mind at the end - because besides that he does nothing but get in Favaro's way and is a complete burden to Rita, who can do much better without him. Even while protecting Amira he gets caught together with her and gets locked up in a cage where he could do nothing. Still, at the end he finally learns to put aside his differences with Favaro and managed to, as a team, defeat Martinet in an overly dramatic manner (+1 for growth). His backstory was as insufficient as Favaro's, since they basically share the same backstory, but at least his "childhood friend" link to Favaro shed more light into his interactions with Favaro and explains how he both wants and doesn't want to kill him (+1 for character interactions).
Amira is also a rather interesting character, with superhuman powers of transforming into a one-winged demon and basically just brutally punching her enemies down. She's also later on revealed to be young, in fact, so young that she technically qualifies as a little kid in spite of her looks. The plot tell us that demons made her age faster using the cocoon, so that her body develops faster and is several years older than her mind. That's not a bad explanation, but it basically robs Amira of any characterization whatsoever. She becomes a complete and total pawn in this anime, used by Martinet, used by Favaro, used by everyone else essentially, and has hardly any views, opinions of her own, and merely gets told what to do. While she does have an awesome transformation ability, the fact that the anime only made her out to be childish really diminished her role in the plot.
Rita is by far my favourite character in this anime, and also one of the characters that was better developed than the rest. Rita is a young girl who turns a necromancer after discovering a book, and then uses her powers of reanimating the dead to "play village". Apparently she's played village for at least 15 years already and is basically getting sick of it. She eventually runs into Kaisar and Favaro and after failing to kill them, turns into a zombie and starts following Kaisar around. Her visibly nonchalant-looking character and blunt remarks are well-weaved into her "more mature than she looks" archetype. If Amira is the girl who looks older than her age, then Rita is the opposite, a girl who looks much younger than her age, but of course, a more mature character is a lot better for main character types. Rita manages to not only become useful in every situation using a reanimation ability - saving them from soldiers, putting up distractions - but also manages to uncover Martinet's concoction and, as a somewhat professional herbalist, manages to create an antidote that counters it. What's not to love about this adorable little child whose only goal is to save her friends? Even though she's acts rather coldly and cruelly to Kaisar, she shows that she really does care for him, even helping to bandage up the stump of an arm he has left at the end. (+1 for cute amazing character, +1 for multi-faceted nature)
As for the rest of the supporting cast, they were also a host of very interestingly conceptualized characters. Bacchus, the self-proclaimed god, who basically only drinks a lot and pays bounty hunters whenever they get a bounty, and his amazing duck Hamsa who is more than just a little pet, but proves to be able to fly and deflect projectiles by expanding his body. There's also Jeanne D'Arc, who is awesome sword fighter capable of wielding a huge-ass sword that can unleash such a devastating blast that it forces Azazel to retreat. Jeanne also sees some character development in the form of her righteous, unwavering nature when she was tempted to take the concoction. Unfortunately, once she turns evil in the later episodes, even after Michael's sacrifice to restore her normalcy, she ceases any further usefulness in the plot whatsoever. (+1 for interesting, varied cast) And of course, there's Azazel, who did nothing but get ambushed and took his revenge on Beelzebub. He's not very developed either.
On the antagonist's side, we have the one-dimensional Beelzebub who is so stupid that he doesn't even know that he can't control Bahamut even if he bestows upon it the Transcendent Key that he made. Beelzebub basically is a power-hungry monster but ends up getting, and deservedly, brutally incinerated by one of Bahamut's blasts. He's so poorly developed that I can't even consider him a character.
Martinet is just slightly more interesting because he's the one doing all the ground work, making sure his evil schemes fall into place, manipulating an angel from long ago, the demon working with him, and various other humans including Jeanne, Favaro, Anatae's King to make his plans go smoothly. But still, not a word is said about his character or backstory, and his motives for plotting all this evil is even worse - "I just want to watch the world get destroyed." Way to go, another crazy apocalyptic lunatic.
For characters, the anime suffers quite a bit from poor character depth and development for a lot of the cast, including main characters, and the antagonists are just so poorly developed that they were basically ignored this entire time. Still, the uniqueness of many of the characters really pulled through and made me enjoy watching the characters interact with one another.
For humour, the anime has done quite well. There is a lot of slapstick on the part of Favaro and Kaisar, who get into trouble plenty of times and have to have their fellow allies save them. Bacchus and Hamsa are also a pretty comic duo, because both have very peculiar sneezes. Also, Rita's monotonous and blunt remarks at all the stupid situations just make me laugh a lot more. (+2 for comedy)
In terms of action, the anime also doesn't fail to deliver. While there isn't a lot of actual action and fighting scenes per se, there was a decent amount of close combat fighting, sword fighting, all of which were rather well animated and was exciting enough to keep me watching. (+1 for action)
There were also some hints of emotion in the anime, especially at the part where Amira finally gets to meet her own mother, but in very dire circumstances. Still, she presses on stubbornly to give her a hug, and at the end says that Favaro was right that her mom would recognize her just from the hugging alone. Her kiss with Favaro was slightly unnerving though but at least it gave their relationship a good finishing touch. (+1 for emotion)
Pacing-wise, the anime was pretty exciting from the beginning, and really set the mood of being an action-comedy flick, as well as introduced our two very interesting important characters of the show. (+1 for pacing) Towards the middle though, as the story slowly progressed and we slowly started to see who was the evil mastermind behind the entire evil plot, things got a lot less interesting as things became obvious and I honestly just wanted to skip to the part where Bahamut awakens. And finally, at the end when he finally does, the resolution was just super anti-climactic, I never even go to know what happened to Rita or the other supporting characters, I only ever saw Favaro and Kaisar.
This anime has at least earned itself 1 bonus point for not having any filler episodes (not counting the recap episode 6.5, even though it's useless).
While I did enjoy most of this anime, there were honestly some parts where it did feel repetitive and got a bit too boring for my liking.
Altogether, I thought that the plot could have seriously had more thought put into it, while the characters Kaisar and Amira really need a lot more character development as part of the main character cast. It was a fairly enjoyable watch, though I was admittedly disappointed after reading some really rave reviews about this show.
Jan 9, 2015
24 of 24 episodes seen
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"It's not enough to live for your own happiness, but to live for the happiness of others, which in turn, brings you greater happiness."
Sword Art Online II is a story about the convergence of the virtual and real world, exploring and questioning our perceptions of current reality, of the meaning of life, of hope, of strength and of courage to fight on. At least that's what it tries to be anyway. While SAO II continues to suffer from plot holes and poor character development, it has continued to excel in animation, screenplay and sound aspects. Well, let's move on...
(rounded down from 6.5)
+ Great quick-paced action
+ Exciting, suspenseful first arc
+ Cool female main lead (Sinon)
+ Very emotional final arc
+ Very cute characters in general
+ Excellent animation and sound
- Completely irrelevant and pointless second arc
- Some action / emotional scenes too dragged out
- Mess of underdeveloped supporting cast
- A set of confusing and shallow antagonists
- An entire host of plot holes
- Repetitive back stories and repetitive lines
- Lack of character development in some main characters (Kirito/Yuuki)
- Overpowered, one-dimensional male lead (Kirito)
You will enjoy this anime if:
1. You stop watching after episode 14.
SAO II is split into 3 main arcs - the Phantom Bullet arc (featuring Death Gun), the Caliburn arc (featuring Excalibur) and the Mother's Rosario Arc (featuring Yuuki). I will discuss the three arcs separately because they are portrayed as 3 completely different story arcs in the anime.
In the Phantom Bullet arc, which I personally thought was the best arc out of the three, we start off with some mystery and suspense - A hooded, cloaked figure shoots an avatar through a screen and lo and behold, the real person playing the game actually gets killed. Kirito is then sent to GGO to investigate the mystery behind "Death Gun", and I really liked the suspense the built up in the first few episodes. (+1 for interest)
Unfortunately, it takes all the up to episode 4 for Kirito to even begin playing GGO, and most of the time is wasted on watching Asuna and Kirito's romance and Sinon's random PKing adventures. Even after Kirito enters GGO and meets Sinon, the best sniper in GGO, it takes them another 2 more episodes (doing minor things like shopping for weapons, earning money, riding a buggy, Kirito acting like a girl) before they even start the actual Bullet of Bullets 3 tournament, which Kirito is convinced will somehow lead him to Death Gun (luckily, he is right though). The build-up for the Phantom Bullet arc is really slow, all the way up to at least the point where Kirito starts his qualifier fights.
Things get slightly more interesting when Death Gun appears behind Kirito all of a sudden after his first battle, and threatens him with death (although when we finally get the reveal as to how Death Gun makes his kills, we know there is no way Death Gun has any means of finding Kirito and killing him). As the tension and suspense builds, Kirito and Sinon have more pointless quarrels and face-offs before they finally agree that it's best they team up to take down Death Gun, who has made it a point to start killing off some of the main tournament participants as well. Things peak off when Death Gun actually manages to take down Sinon and almost kills her, if it weren't for Kirito's deus-ex-accuracy which he never had with a gun (having never played GGO before). Kirito and Sinon eventually manages to escape to a deserted cave and make their final preparations for finishing off Death Gun.
Just when you thought there was going to be more action, the anime disappoints again and makes us watch an entire full episode of Sinon's backstory, as well as Kirito explaining Death Gun's backstory as a laughing coffin member over and over again.
Sinon's backstory of shooting a robber 5 years ago, managed to repeat itself 3 times - The first time was when she first opened her drawer in her room and saw a pistol which reminded her of the incident, the second time was when she encountered Death Gun and saw that Death Gun's pistol was *surprise surprise* the exact same model as the one used 5 years ago, and the third time was when she finally tells her backstory to Kirito in the cave.
The explanation of Death Gun's backstory also occurred 3 times repeatedly. The first time was when Kirito first sees the Laughing Coffin insignia on Death Gun's hand (which for some reason is still there even though Death Gun doesn't want Kirito to remember his name), the second time was when Asuna and Klein were explaining to the rest of the party (Lisbeth, Yui, Suguha, Silica) who were watching the GGO tournament about who Death Gun was, and the third time, again, was when Kirito finally explains the story to Sinon in the cave.
Honestly, either anime thinks the audience is so dumb that they had to re-emphasize the same concepts 3 times over and over again, or they really had so little plot depth and development to put into this that they had to consistently give frequent flashbacks and reminders of the exact same thing. By this time, I could feel myself getting bored.
Finally, the conversation finally moves into figuring out how Death Gun did all of his murders, and we slowly get some deductions revealed to us. Unfortunately, there's some flaw in Kirito's reasoning. Apparently Death Gun has accomplices in real life and had to synchronize timing in order to ensure that his accomplice was in the target's room before the Death Gun shot. But, if the Death Gun accomplices are watching the live feed of the tournament in the first place, then wouldn't the cue to apply the killing blow to the target be when the target gets shot and not dependent on any exact timing? If the timing is only approximate to ensure that the killer is has already infiltrated the target's apartment, then shouldn't Death Gun check his watch long before he moves to attack the target, rather than checking it only right before he is about the shoot with the Death Gun? Sorry, but Death Gun using the cross symbol to "disguise his checking of his watch" explanation just got blown apart.
Luckily though, the final battle against Death Gun proved to be an exciting one, with Kirito finally showing off some of his legit sword-slashing skills against the Red Eyed Xaxa. We also get to see more of Sinon's awesome sniping, which was pretty cool save for the fact that she only fired around two shots at maximum at any one time. Again though, after the final slash that Kirito delivers against Death Gun (also known as Sterben), a random explosion occurs for no apparent reason. This anime really loves unexplained random explosions.
When the battle is over and all is done and dealt with, we finally learn the true motives of Death Gun which can be summarized in two words - revenge and jealously. Revenge first, against Zexceed, the person who mislead everyone to spend their skill points on agility and then beat everybody with a strength build, and then jealously for being unable to be as good as all the pro players in GGO. The pathetic motivations really reduced the impact of the minor twist that Shinkawa was secretly an accomplice targeting Sinon, but at least there was a twist, so I'll give a point. (+1 for slight twist)
Next, Shion encounters the bullies who have been picking on her all this while, and for no apparent reason whatsoever, in this secluded corner of the school, there is an empty drink can set up on top of an overturned bucket on the ground, just waiting as if on cue for Shion to shoot and show the bullies who's boss at using the air rifle. Oh and btw, gun safety (facepalm).
Everything wrapped up nicely at the end, but then Kirito receives an ominous message from the culprits: "This isn't over... It's show time." But actually, the whole arc is over and they are not going to encounter Laughing Coffin again in the rest of the anime, so screw that stupid message for sending off the audience on a false red herring. And also, sadly, say good bye to the only plot arc that was actually decent in this anime, and hello to the plot arcs that were really messed up.
The next arc is the Caliburn arc, where Kirito and party go on quest to obtain Excalibur, a weapon that they only recently discovered existed by taming a flying elephant-octopus hybrid tyrant in the Jotunheimr and riding it back to Alfheim. Oh and by the way, the name of the tamed tyrant is Tonkii (that's either cute or unacceptable, you pick). Anyway, they realize that they are involved in something much greater because the fate of Alfheim rests on their hands - at least according to Urd, an NPC who randomly appeared to them while they were flying on Tonkii towards the secret Excalibur dungeon.
The next few episodes is spent on them clearing the Excalibur dungeon with lots of action, spells and an animated treat of Sword Skills, but of course adding nothing to the plot whatsoever. At the boss dungeon, they defeat the Frost Giant with the help of cameo characters Freiya and Thor, and in the end manage to get BOTH Mjollnir and Excalibur in one guest. Congratulations, unfortunately, no part of this entire arc seems significant or important whatsoever. No points for this entire, stupid, pointless arc.
Coherence-wise, in episode 17, Kirito makes us believe that Excalibur was "too heavy" and willingly throws it off the platform so that he can jump onto Tonkii. But honestly, if he had the strength to swing it off the platform, then why couldn't he just swing it onto Tonkii? Why couldn't Tonkii just used his long trunk to pick up Excalibur instead? The entire scene was just a convenient way to make Kirito indebted to Sinon, since Sinon in the end used a grappling hook arrow to retrieve Excalibur anyway.
Also, later on, Kirito claims that his mechatronic skills enabled him to give Yui a 3D-experience and says "Yui feels like she is flying around the room now." That's not possible with just one stationary camera. You would need that camera mounted on a mobile quadcopter to achieve that "flying effect" properly, otherwise Yui is just rotating the camera and is more like "looking about" than "flying about".
The following arc is the Mother's Rosario arc, where the main focus was really Asuna as a character and her interaction with Yuuki (first introduced as Zekken, the best swordswoman in Alfheim). The story goes as such - Asuna meets Yuuki for the first time in a duel, and Yuuki, having been impressed as Asuna's sword skills, invites her to join her party in some boss-killing on Floor 27. They want to do something crazy - killing the boss with only 7 people instead of the usual 49. Sounds insane right? But nope, in the end, it seems quite possible to clear with just 7 people and I'm left wondering that if there were actually 49 people fighting that boss, whether 40 of them were just sleeping on the job.
The plot goes the roundabout way of introducing minor conflicts that aren't central to the story itself, things like a bigger guild spying on them, the bigger guild trying to take advantage by blocking the entrance to the dungeon, and then casually resolving them by sending Kirito and Klein to the scene. None of these were needed, and they were basically auto-solved, Asuna and the Sleeping Knight's guild just needed to beat the boss, which they finally did.
But then again, beating the boss and getting their names written on the Swordsman's Memorial (aka Hall of Fame) was not actually the central part to the story at all, so I have no idea why the anime spent so much time on that. After the battle, we start to get the hint, because everyone's so secretive and suspicious and such, that something's not entirely alright with Yuuki and the Sleeping Knights. It's also absurd that when Yuuki bailed out on a curious Asuna by logging off, Siune, who went to apologize to Asuna, also suddenly bailed out at the convenient moment also by logging off. That's rude, and if Siune was going to bail out anyway, why bother approaching Asuna in the first place?
The first clue is the fact that Yuuki keeps saying that the guild will disband in the spring, the second clue is the fact that they insist Asuna shouldn't try joining them, and the third clue is in the name of the guild "Sleeping Knights." What do you think? I got it pretty much immediately. Sleeping Knights basically suggests people who are fighting, but in a comatose state, hence, fighting some kind of disease. And the clues that they may disband automatically point to one thing - that one or more members of the guild have some serious medical condition, which may render them either dead in the coming few months. And guess what, I was pretty much right - so absolutely no points for plot twist there, because I totally saw it coming.
But still, I actually liked how they shifted the plot from just a "fighting bosses" story to one that talks about life, death, about people with debilitating diseases using a virtual game to experience freedom and find greater meaning in their lives. I thought that it was actually pretty wonderful and touching that Asuna went to personally visit Yuuki in her special Medicuboid ward and made all the effort to help her live that virtual life to the fullest before she passed away. (+1 for gripping story)
One thing they never really explained at all though, was how did Kirito even managed to get hold of Yuuki's location in the first place. While it might have been simple to find out Medicuboid's users, no explanation is given for how Kirito even found out that Yuuki was in that kind of state and using that sort of medical equipment in the first place. This is a key plot hole they completely overlooked.
Besides the main plot, there was a side-story running across Mothers' Rosario (also the name of Yuuki's special sword skill) of the argument between Asuna and her mother about her future and career. Asuna eventually managed to convince her mother not to transfer out of school, by showing her mother how wonderful the virtual world she was playing really was. I thought it was quite beautiful how the conflict was finally resolved, and the arc title signified not only Yuuki's mother's prayers for her, but also Asuna's mother's wishes and dreams for her daughter. (+1 for depth)
As such, the third arc actually ends on a rather touching note, though I thought that it was actually a bit too long and drawn out that I got pretty bored towards the end. I thought that anime could have ended at 23, but they extended the mourning and reflective scenes all the way to another episode and I was honestly just dying for the whole anime to end if it didn't have any more proper plot to offer me. What's more, the entirety of Asuna's party came over to see Yuuki's last moments in Alfheim, but there's absolutely no reason they should even bother with this person they don't even know.
At the end, there was also supposed to be some final twist about the developer of the Medicuboid, apparently someone that Kirito knows. But the audience can't remember all these useless supporting characters from the past, and the anime doesn't even bother to explain it's significance so honestly, why the heck did they even bother putting it in at the last second? It was confusing, pointless and a complete fail attempt.
Hence, the overall plot suffers from a lack of an overarching conflict across all 3 arcs, and it's only particularly great plot was the first one. It had 1 completely pointless arc in the middle, but ultimately ends on a happy note in the last arc, which had slightly more depth than the first two. The plot is also quite incoherent with key plot holes all about as mentioned above but I guess I have to award at least 1 point in that the main key plot lines are mostly coherent and none of the plot holes detract from the plot by much. (+1 for believable assumptions).
Opening Sequence: 3/3
ED Sequence: 3/3
SAO II really doesn't disappoint on the animation side at least. Fighting scenes are really cool, with lots of different colours, effects and all keeping up to all the quick-paced action sequences. While the action scenes were really dragged out, I thought that it was at least a joy to watch the amazing art that goes into all the sword skills and spells. Character aesthetics were also very nice and I loved the overall character design.
OP Theme: 2/2
ED Theme: 2/2
OP Theme 2: 2/2
ED Theme 2: 2/2
Background Music: 2/2
Just absolutely excellent. All of the OP and ED themes are great to listen to, I would deliberately let them run because the themes are just so nice to listen to, and the background music also really brings out all the emotions in the anime - suspense, excitement, sadness, joy. Everything is so well intertwined, it was a beautiful audio experience.
There is no one main character in the anime, as different arcs feature distinctly different main cast. Starting from the first Phantom Bullet arc though, we have Kirito, Sinon and the antagonists Red Eyed Xaxa and Shinkawa.
Kirito is the same guy as he was from SAO I, no particular change there. He continues showing off his legitimately insane sword skills even in GGO, by slicing bullets apart (including sniper shots), by dodging bullets long before seeing their prediction paths, and also, for comic effect, he pretends to be a girl, at least for the first half of the arc. (+1 for awesome sword skills) Unfortunately, his character development is one-dimensional and falls short quite a bit - and he becomes reduced to a guy who's only role is to explain to others the costs and benefits of a virtual reality, and to remind people how difficult it is to live with the fact that you are a murderer. We already know most of his backstory, and there's nothing new to him in this anime - he continues to be the overpowered hero he always was, always appearing in the third arc even though he's not even a main character there, as if he only wants to remind everybody that he's boss.
Then we have Sinon, who is honestly just as cool as Kirito, but probably a lot more annoying. She starts off really badass, proving herself to be a sniper who can even shoot her target while she is in mid-air freefall (not possible in real life, but since it's a game, I'll give it a pass and +1 for badassery along the way). But, on the contrary, outside of the game she's actually totally afraid of guns, because of the incident 5 years ago that has totally scarred her for life. Sinon fights to get stronger, to overcome her fear of guns, but more importantly, to accept the fact that she needed to kill when she did it, to protect the people close to her. Sinon doesn't accomplish this until finally, Kirito and Asuna arrange for her to meet one of the people she saved that day. (+1 for growth, +1 for awesome sniping, +1 for backstory). Sinon is probably one of the most developed characters in this anime.
Moving on, we have the stupid antagonists Shinkawa and Red Eyed Xaxa, who are basically just killers to kill out of revenge, jealously, and basically have no greater motivations than that, even though the Death Gun idea is so cool indeed. They hardly get any screen time, and when they do, nothing is said about their character or backstory. Although we know Xaxa is a Laughing Coffin member, we don't know anything about what he's actually like as a person, so I'll take it as a complete set of lousy antagonists.
I will completely skip Caliburn arc because that was completely pointless and had no character development whatsoever. In the Mother's Rosario arc, we start to see development of the two main characters - Asuna and Yuuki.
Asuna starts off kind of being the usual "heroine" figure who only ever knows how to do things that Kirito tells her to, but she ends up actually doing some stuff on her own too in the final arc. For one, she copies Kirito exactly in his battle strategy plans and she also goes to visit Yuuki in the hospital, although this is generally limited and Kirito helped her find the hospital anyway. The entire episode with her mother seemed a bit too common and typical at the beginning, but when she took matters to her own hands to show her mother the virtual world, I thought that at least that was some growth in her courage and inner strength (which honestly, I think she had lost since the Alfheim arc of SAO I). (+1 for growth in courage)
Yuuki is another very special character who basically lives almost completely within a virtual world, or "a product of full-dive technology" as Kirito puts it. She's a badass sword fighter with an insane 11-hit unique sword skill called Mothers' Rosario. As a terminally ill AIDS patient, Yuuki doesn't have much time to live, but she continues to fight on in her guild, as she longs to leave behind a lasting memory by carving her party's names onto the Swordsman's Memorial. Her backstory is quite limited though, we only know bits and pieces of how she first contracted the disease and how most of her family are now dead, leaving her as the lone survivor. Unfortunately, Yuuki herself, while being the cheery, happy-go-lucky type in Alfheim, doesn't managed to make much of her character pull through. She somehow gets really close to Asuna through the boss battles, but this is all very sudden and underdeveloped - the same goes for her guild and Asuna's party members.
This time around, I keep hearing the main characters telling each other that they are strong, and yet denying that they themselves are strog. This has happened for Kirito, Asuna, Sinon and Yuuki, they've all been told they are strong one another, and they've all denied it. And they use all the exact same lines so that by the time we hit the final arc, this "strong" line has already lost most of it's meaning. There is also a wide cast of supporting characters, but all of whom are not developed at all - Klein, Silica, Lisbeth, the rest of Sleeping Knight guild - are basically just interchangeable and you really won't be able to tell the difference.
I have to specially mention Yui for just being the cutest thing in the world though. In the fairy form she's just really so adorable and her voice when it comes out of the speakers "Papa/Mama" really makes you like her so much more. Her role in this anime was basically two things though, to encourage Asuna and Kirito (Mama, hold Papa's hand!) as well as to randomly provide bits of information about the current plot line that nobody actually cares about. Still, Yui is just too cute :3. (+1 for overflowing cuteness)
All in all, I thought that character development was okay, but a lot more depth could have been put into some of the main characters - especially Sinon and Yuuki, whose presence in the anime was really just overshadowed by Kirito and Asuna who did all real work. I also thought that more could have been done to bring out most of the supporting cast, who could all be lovable if all they did wasn't just chit-chatting and assisting in party battles. None of the supporting cast propelled the plot in any way, so they were basically just unfairly sidelined.
The anime really put a lot of emotion into it, from all the crying from Sinon, to the crying from Yuuki and Asuna, to the beautiful background music. Unfortunately, most of it was wasted because of poor relationship development especially in the last arc where Asuna only recently met the entire Sleeping Knight guild, and all of a sudden, it's like her party and the rest of Sleeping Knights had known each other for years! Still, I thought that the scene where Asuna and Kirito return to their home on Aincrad's 22nd Floor was also quite beautiful, because I remember that particular episode back in SAO I, where that cottage was really the place where their romance and love bloomed. (+1 for emotion)
Aside from all the depressing stuff though, the action was really good a quick-paced. There were some scenes that seemed reused though - like the colourful slashing scene, seemed like it was repeated multiple times as the party fought different bosses. Still, the sword skill usage, spell usage animations were all very nice to watch and had very exciting visuals (+3 for action).
On the comic side, there were only a few funny scenes, though these were mainly limited to the first arc in all the scenes where Kirito was pretending to be a girl. But that particular scene with Sinon really made me laugh though. (+1 for comedy)
Pacing for this anime this time was actually pretty bad though. There were actions scenes and boss fights, like the Frost Giant and mini-boss Minotaur fights, that I thought lasted too long and had too much time spent on just random slashing and parrying. Unfortunately, most of the emotional scenes in this anime were dragged out for so long, and seemed so repetitive in the formula - crying, embracing, crying again, that I honestly got bored. (0 for pacing).
This anime has 3 filler episodes (+0 points), because the entirety of the second arc was admittedly just filler - and seeing as there's even one fanservice scene where Kirito unnecessarily grabs Sinon's cat tail for effect, it's definitely completely filler.
In summary, SAO II excels in animation and sound, but other than that doesn't pull through in anything else. It has sub-par plot arcs and even worse coherence, and it lacks quite a bit of character development on both main and support characters. It also made me bored - which is honestly pretty rare for an action-based anime, but it actually did. I won't say it was a disappointment though, because I never had that high expectations for this anime anyway.