All posts by Jack Scheibelein

Former Opinion Editor of the HVA Hawkeye. Current Writer at SakugaCity.com. I write about Anime and Politics, along with publishing a ton of poetry and short stories. Hoping to be a successful person, at some point.

Summer 2022 Episode Reviews Week Five

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If it was not clear from last week, Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer is now officially out of my rotation. It is just too consistently mediocre for me to continue caring, so I decided to drop it. Everything else I plan on finishing save for some insane dip in quality. With that being said, here are my thoughts.

Made in Abyss S2 Ep. 5

I have said before that this is not the direction I was expecting the series to go in, but I am glad it did. Something about this show’s current arc and exploring themes of humanity even in places that seem the most inhuman is genuinely very interesting. This week mostly focuses on the secrets of the hollow village.

Reg attempts to find it again after escaping from Faputa, only to be helped back by her Robot servant, where he alludes to the fact that there are more robots like himself and Reg. Meanwhile, Riko goes looking for both Reg and Nanachi, only to end up in a giant pit, eventually finding Vuelo trapped in a cave. As far as what is going to happen with Veulo’s character, I honestly have no idea, but that cliffhanger was certainly something. Made in Abyss just continues to be impressive.

Call of the Night Ep. 5

The vibes are good, man. While I certainly appreciate the idea of a lonely middle schooler and a vampire doing whatever, much like with Made in Abyss, I do appreciate the show’s effort to explore its themes a bit more in-depth. That is exactly what happens in this episode, as the two seemingly get more intimate after Nazuna takes a bath and has her hair down. This more conventionally attractive look causes Kou to re-evaluate his feelings.

Differentiating feelings of friendship and romance can be difficult, especially for someone who has not had to do so before. Yet, Kou also understands that he wants to be romantically involved with Nazuna in order to become a vampire. At least, he thinks he does. As Super Eyepatch Wolf commented in his last video, the series is a lot more about exploring those feelings, and I think that is where it is at its strongest, alongside those crazy nighttime vibes.

The Devil is a Part-Timer S2 Ep. 4

I know I said animation for a show like The Devil is a Part-Timer does not matter as much, but, idk. Something about this week felt a little off.

(I know taking frames out of context isn’t great for judging animation, but they linger on this for like 2-3 seconds and she just looks off).

On top of that, the first major fight scene happens in this episode, and…it kinda sucked. There was very little sense of impact or real danger when it came to the fighting. I guess I could chalk it up to not remembering the original all that well or the fact that Maou isn’t as involved in this fight, but it still bothers me.

Normally I would not harp as much on it, but it is kind of the only thing that happens in this episode. Maou tells a story of a traveler turned greedy king who is given his power by an angel which feels like a fairly obvious allegory for himself considering he is supposed to be the biblical Satan. Emi deals with the continued turmoil over whether she should kill Mao or not, even more after talking to Gabriel, who ultimately fails his mission to take back Alas Ramus. It is a fine episode, not amazing, but not awful.

RWBY: Ice Queendom Ep. 5

Ice Queendom definitely has some pacing issues, especially compared to the original. That much is certainly true. Still, I would be lying if I said some great animation and music did not at least make up for it a little. This episode has that in spades, with the rest of Team RWBY joining Ruby as they re-group in order to rescue Weiss from her nightmare.

This episode also had some surprisingly sophisticated character writing. Inside Weiss’s dream, we see Pyrrha performing a song while locked in a cage. The song focuses on looking in a mirror and regretting what she sees. This seems to parallel the story of Snow White, where the queen asks the mirror who the fairest of them all is, only to be shown Snow White instead of herself. However, this also works intertextually as well, because Weiss made it clear in the beginning just how much she admires Pyrrha. In that way, this part of her dream could be seen as desiring the reverse, where Pyrrha is instead the one pining to be more like Weiss.

Idk if this is ground that was covered in the original, but if it is, then studio Shaft did a damn good job remaking it. Overall, this was a fantastic episode.

Lycoris Recoil Ep. 6

It seems we have reached the mid-point of the season. Except, it does not feel like it at all, at least not for this show. The more and more I watch Lycoris Recoil, the more I feel affirmed in my assessment that a lot of it is just wasted potential. This episode has Chisato and Makima meet after Makima teamed up with Kurumi’s hacker rival. Chisato gets targeted, much like the other Lyrcoris we saw. However, the others come to her rescue just in time.

There are a lot of good ideas in this series, and as much as I want to like it, it kind of just keeps piling stuff on. For example, we get an off-handed mention of a brother organization called the bell, which literally has not been mentioned up until this point, and was forgotten about immediately after. Unless they actually become relevant later on, this just feels like really lazy worldbuilding. The action was pretty solid, as the show has a good eye for martial arts and gunplay, but otherwise, it was just ok.


How did you feel about this week’s episodes? let me know in the comments below.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for being an amazing Patron.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Attack on Titan Final Season Episodes 80-87 and What’s to Come

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The journey through Attack on Titan has been, if nothing else, exciting. It started with a re-ignited spark of interest in the series and has turned into a strong change in opinion about its quality. Whereas my original opinion of AOT was positive but not all that passionate, it has now become one of my favorite series, if not top 10, then at worst top 20.

It is a series like no other and has really proved that over the course of the last season, from its strong political drama and allegorical elements to the production side of the equation which remained equally strong even after swapping studios. So, the ending, at least for now, has finally come. How was it?

Not like this will be much of a surprise, but it was amazing. I was honestly kind of surprised just how many compelling stories beats the show was able to fit into the season’s last eight episodes. There is of course the Rumbling and its initial devastation on Paradis, which transitions pretty smoothly into Gabi’s redemption arc. There is also Armin stopping Coney from killing Falco, and Annie meeting up with Hitch just in time for the Apocolypse, after which they join together with Reiner, Levi, Hange, Piecke, and the Marleyian general.

This would be a lot for a normal 10-12 episode anime, but to fit into the final third of an already reveal filled-season while still remaining totally coherent is an incredible feat. Bubble had about the same time to accomplish that and could barely manage 1-2 engaging plotlines.

As for particular highlights, Coney and Armin’s interaction right before meeting up with the others felt the most compelling. It serves as a reminder that desperation can make people do anything. Coney’s mom is the only one who has a chance of being alive, and so he takes that chance, even despite part of him knowing it was wrong. The final fight at the harbor was also really cool as well. One thing that Attack on Titan is consistently good at is showing both the ease and difficulty of throwing away one’s humanity at the drop of a hat. Again, we see Coney making a difficult choice in order to save Armin.

Speaking of choices, might be worth addressing the founding titan in the room, Eren. It was not much of a surprise to see Eren take back the founding Titan from Zeke (The opening of this half is literally called The Rumbling), but that does not make it any less dramatic. Finding out about Eren’s ability to see the future and therefore have everything already planned down to the second was wild. The screenshot of him staring down Grisha while right next to him is funny, but also indicative of Eren’s willingness to do anything for Paradis.

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All of that ignores the fact that Eren has become a genocidal maniac. However, hindsight is always 2020, and I think what a lot of initial discussions about AOT’s ideology missed is that Eren is rarely the good guy. The only time he is ever cast in a sympathetic light is during the first few episodes. After that, Eren’s reckless and homicidal attitude is very often framed as at best concerning and at worst actively putting others in danger.

The show has always been about ideology. I mean, they live in a post-apocalyptic military state. However, it has never, up to this point at least, actively glorified these repressive beliefs and systems. This could change in the last part, and if it does then we should be having a different conversation, but since I am definitely not reading the manga, we will have to wait and see.

I know I have mentioned it a ton of times already, but man the action scenes in this show are amazing. There is the inherent appeal of Godzilla like battles against two monsters just beating the shit out of each other, or the David and Goliath style battles of man versus titans. Besides those two, the show also takes care to make sure that the human-level conflict is engaging as well. Going back to Coney and Armin, their meeting in Coney’s hometown felt genuinely nerve-wracking in a way that the outcome was unclear until the last second.

Good CGI also helps its case. There are very few anime that can actually claim to have good 3D animation, with Beastars being one of the only ones that I personally have seen. However, the titans and heavy machinery that is rendered in 3D still fit seamlessly into the world.

Ok, but where does the series go from here? Well, ideally up. The reality is that Mappa is working on a number of projects over the next year, including the upcoming Chainsaw Man adaptation that also has a large number of eyes on it. This means that, while it would be awesome to see the last of Attack on Titan go off without any problems, there is a non-zero chance that an extremely overworked production team will inevitably let some things slip through the cracks.

Still, this last season was arguably the best so far. On top of that, Mappa at this point has established itself as one of the best Studios in the industry, employing a lot of talent throughout the years. Hopefully, that means good things to come.


Now that I am officially done with all of Attack on Titan‘s anime available story, what are your thoughts on the series? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Summer 2022 Episode Reviews: Week Four

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Last week was solid, and so is this one. However, there is one show that I simply have no desire to continue, as you will find out in a bit.

RWBY: Ice Queendom Ep. 4

One thing I have realized about this series is that it kind of suggests that the person watching should have already seen the original. Which, I guess makes sense. The anime never really marketed itself as a remake, after all. Still, I cannot help but feel a little annoyed when shows which are more or less telling the same story rely on the original for character development as opposed to doing the work themselves.

I say this because the show treats Ruby and Weiss’s relationship like the two have known each other for a while as opposed to 3 episodes. It makes sense in the context of their bickering, but there just is not enough history at this point to sell the dramatic impact of their fight. If this arc happened at the mid-point of the season it would make a lot more sense, but definitely not now.

Made in Abyss S2 Ep. 4

Something I love about Made in Abyss is that it is very much in the show not tell camp of storytelling. Rather than info-dumping a million pieces of relevant backstory, it lets the material speak for itself. This episode, in particular, is bridging the gap between the past and the present, both for the island itself and for Reg and Nanachi.

Faputa, who Reg meets at the end of the last episode, is implied to be both a figure in Reg’s past and also, through clever transitions, the native girl who accompanied the original adventurers on their journey. In Nanachi’s case, while shopping at the market with Majikaja, finds out that he knows of Mitty. The two trek through the Hollow village, and in the final frames of the episode Mitty sits underneath a giant guardian. This was a really cleverly planned-out episode and overall one of the highlights of the week.

Call of the Night Ep. 4

I am glad that Akira is sticking around, at least for a little bit longer. There is a lot of great character chemistry between the three of them, and this episode demonstrates that perfectly. The episode starts with Akira not being able to sleep, calling back to Kou in episode one, and so she decides to stay up, running in Kou and gets invited to hang out with him and Nazuna. The three hang out, play video games, and Nazuna kinda just jokes with them and makes them feel awkward.

Akira also spends time dealing with an internal conflict as well. Part of her wants Kou to come back to school so that she can escape her own loneliness, but part of her also recognizes that despite Nazuna literally being a vampire and Kou being a middle schooler, their relationship makes Kou happy. The visuals and music have also been incredible, so that helps too.

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer Ep. 4

Ok yeah, I am done. I wanted to give this series an honest try considering how interesting the opening chapters of the manga were, but man has it just been a snooze fest, and this episode did not do any better.

We get a bit more backstory about Hangetsu which is, admittedly, well included in the episode alongside his growing affections for Hisame. However, that is pretty much the only compliment I can give it, as Yuuhi is somehow unlikeable in the worst way possible, even outside of the questionable relationship with Samidare. On top of that, the studio seems committed to “animating” this show with as few frames as possible. This show has some of the stiffest action scenes I have watched in a while.

If I were rating this right now this would get a 40/100 at best. Please do not bother watching this, and I have not uttered this sentence very many times, but just go read the manga.

Lycoris Recoil Ep. 5

Another solid but ultimately confusing episode from Lycoris Recoil this week. There are a lot of questions about the politics of this series that it could not be bothered to answer. For starters, Kurumi implies within the first minute of the episode that even the current president doesn’t know about the Lycoris, which has a lot of implications on its own, but also the private detectives seem to suggest that the DA has the ability to shut down even the public police force…huh?

The rest of the episode was ok. The lead duo takes on a client who is secretly being hunted by an assassin, only to find out that was not real and what they do not know is that the whole thing is connected to the Alan Institute as well. The show really just has me intrigued, not in a cool and methodical way, but more in a “watching a drunk guy stumble his way around the restaurant looking for the bathroom” kind of way.

The Devil is a Part-Timer S2 Ep. 3

A show that makes a lot more sense is The Devil is a Part-Timer. Well, as much sense as a show about Satan coming to the human realm and now also raising a plant baby can make, anyway. Maou and Emi are enjoying a day off, while also looking out for any potential danger that might come to pass. However, when they least expect it, Gabriel comes down to request Alas Ramus and the holy sword. But, he’s nice enough to give them a day to make their decision.

Definitely, a bit more plot-focused, but that is not much of a bad thing, as the main plot for the series has generally been pretty solid. On top of that, Alus Ramus and this mystery of the World Tree is still really fascinating. Also, Rika and Ashiya as a couple would be hilarious, change my mind.


What did you think of this week? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, a special shout out to our Patron Jenn for supporting the blog.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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The Observation Deck: Komi Can’t Communicate (Pt. 2)

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If there is one thing I realized pretty quickly during my high school experience, it is that managing my anxiety along with communicating things to other people can be extremely difficult. Luckily, though, I had a lot of good friends, and a fairly fast-paced four years which included writing for our school paper and a number of high-level classes which kind of forced me to make decisions and take care of myself. Still, it is not always that easy for others.

Komi Can’t Communicate focuses on its namesake character Komi. While the others in her class view her as basically a walking goddess, Komi herself could not have been blessed with less confidence. This has left her unable to communicate outside of writing down what she wants to say in a notebook or otherwise. Tadano, however, sees the situation she is in, and vows to help her get a hundred friends, even as feelings between them have only gotten more complicated.

Komi Still Can’t Communicate

Oh boy, more Komi…yay.

Alright, maybe that is a little mean. However, season one, while definitely being above average, was not the series I was looking forward to the most. Since part two finished a bit later than the rest of the spring season, I was not able to review it when I talked about Kaguya and Spy x Family. However, even compared to those two, it does little to stand out.

I will re-affirm that the show’s central premise is a good one and that Komi does a lot to be an entertaining character. The switch between her more cartoonish, goofy expressions and the weirdly sensual face which feels like an expression of how people view her on the outside is genuinely entertaining. On top of that, I still appreciate the message the show is trying to deliver: That people with crippling anxiety exist and deserve to be respected.

It is a shame really that the supporting cast, despite adding quite a few new characters in its second half, does little to elevate the series or its message. Tadano is pretty much as boring as ever, though I will give him credit for having at least a little bit more of an internal sense of development. All of the other new characters are either annoying like Shisuto, or get so little development as to not be worth mentioning outside of the fact that progress Komi’s emotional growth

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The lone exception to that is Katai who is by far one of the funnier characters during the second half. While it certainly helps to be one of the only other recurring characters, his dynamic with Komi and Tadano is well written. Katai, much like Komi, is an anxiety-ridden mess who just wants some friends, but whereas the ladder of the two actively attracts attention to herself, the former’s huge build and unintentionally aggressive demeanor leave most people scared of him for most of the second half.

What is more, Katai appreciates Tadano’s kindness and really wants to be friends, and continually looks towards Komi for “guidance” despite being intimidated by her. Meanwhile, Komi is just as scared of him, if not more, and so the two spend a lot of time staring at each other while never really saying anything, which is a solid bit that creates a lot of humorous moments.

A Blossoming Relationship?

The romantic tension between Komi and Tadano has been present since pretty much the end of part one. The more that Tadano helps her, the more he realizes just how much he loves being around her. Conversely, the kindness Tadano has shown Komi has been genuinely life-changing, and so she in turn builds feelings for him.

Despite the continued buildup of this relationship, nothing emerges even during the show’s finale. The two stand next to a classroom window while they reflect on the events of that school year, thinking about just how far the two of them have come. Yet, none of that progress is really shared in their own relationship, at least not romantically.

Interacting with other people can be scary, and even scarier is sharing feelings with someone that they might not have themselves. So, I guess in a way, that sort of ending makes sense. Still, If there is another season in the works, I hope we get to see the two of them in a post-confession world.

Conclusion

Normally I would have a bit more to say, but since I have already talked about part one of this series in-depth, there is not much reason to do so again. The first part was solid, and overall part two is maybe even a small bit better. At the end of the day though, the show is still just ok, lacking in a lot of strong characters and compelling arcs that would maybe propel it a bit higher.

63/100


How did you all feel about Komi Can’t Communicate and it’s second half? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Attack on Titan Final Season Episodes 76-79

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Wow. Attack on Titan has been through some crazy arcs. Revelation after revelation has come and gone, and while many of them have been shocking, none have really hit with this level of intensity, outside of the Reiner and Bertolt reveal in season two. These episodes genuinely made me consider abandoning this episode-by-episode format and just marathoning the rest. Without rambling for too much longer, let us get into it.

For starters, the stakes have never been higher. What sets the content of the final season apart from the rest of the series is its sense of scale, which is on full display in these episodes. The Marleyian army has begun their invasion of Paradis, with a large percentage of their strength, including the Titans, helping out. The story of Attack on Titan has gone from the survival of a small group of people trapped inside the walls to a global conflict implicating millions of people. An event like the rumbling does not just affect Eldians, but rather everyone on earth.

We also find out that Eren, who was presumably on board with Zeke’s euthanization plan, was actually only using him to access the founding titan’s power, even if it ultimately backfires. Part of me wants to argue that this was a pretty obvious twist, but at the same time, was it? Eren witnessed the deaths of hundreds, probably thousands of his comrades at the hands of titans. I am by no means saying that euthanization is a proper response to the situation, it is understandable how someone whose mind has been twisted by that kind of trauma might ultimately arrive at that conclusion.

On top of this, Eren…dies? Probably not, but seeing his head gets blown off by a titan rifle was one of the more visceral scenes of the entire series. While in liminal space, Zeke takes it upon himself to show Eren some memories of their father Grisha, but after a while, it seems as though Zeke is coming out of the experience more surprised. Also, the whole attack titan having the ability to predict the future thing both made sense and did not, but it was a pretty cool reveal anyway.

While Eren spends his screen with Zeke time having a, uh, reverse change of heart? Gabi has a normal change of heart. For her entire life up until this point, the people of Paradis were nothing but devils to her, an amorphous blob of evil on some distant island ruining the Eldian identity. However, as she spends time with the locals, and almost gets killed by “one of her own,” she comes to understand the folly in her thinking.

It is a brutal realization to have, not just as a kid, but as a kid who has spent a non-insignificant portion of her waking hours training to inherit a titan that would be used to kill the Eldians as well. It is the kind of identity crisis that can only come to fruition in the midst of something as traumatic as war. 

The stakes were also pretty high for Falco, as despite going with his brother to beg Zeke not to turn him into a titan, he ultimately ends up as one anyway. Well, he was for all of two minutes, anyway, but ultimately end up eating Galliard, and will presumably take the roll of the jaw titan. Still, this was another section where it felt like nothing was guaranteed. His confession to helping Eren back in Marley and admitting his feelings for Gabi ultimately made it seem like his time was coming to an end.

On top of some quality writing, there were also some crazy bits of animation. Specifically, the transition scene between Eren getting shot and finding himself in the liminal space with Zeke was some of the most expressive animation I have seen, not just within Attack on Titan, but across anime period. The way it portrays the slowdown of time alongside the compactness of the battlefield in stark contrast to the empty desert that is the home of the Eldian founder Ymir is breathtaking.

These were without a doubt some of the best episodes in the series, and I am beyond excited to see its conclusion. Speaking of, since it is the end of July, I figured next week would be a good time to marathon the rest of the episodes and wrap up this series, so stay tuned for that!


What are your feelings on the “final” season of Attack on Titan? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Summer 2022 Episode Reviews: Week Three

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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The summer coverage continues. I was initially pretty surprised at just how much of what I chose to cover this season actually turned out to be pretty good. The sequels were pretty much a “duh” in that regard, but even the originals this season are coming to play. This week was no different in that regard.

Made in Abyss S2 Ep. 3

Made in Abyss had another fantastic week. In this episode, the gang explores the village of the Hollows, but remains on guard against a potential attacker. They do discover the location of Riko’s white whistle but decided to leave it with a craftsman who is working to bring out its “full value,” still uncertain of who might have taken it.

This is by far one of my favorite episodes of the entire series thus far. The setting is masterfully drawn, and each of the hollows is unique enough that they stand out in a crowd, imbuing a real sense of individuals they were before they transformed. On top of that, the weird economic system which exists within the village creates an underground, black market vibe, but somehow both less dangerous and more unsettling. I do hope we get to spend a bit more time in this area, as there seems to be a serious bit of lore associated with it.

Call of the Night Ep. 3

Anyone else getting a bit of Fooly Cooly vibes after this episode?

I do not mean to say that they are going to be of similar quality, far from it. After Wonder Egg Priority, I am pretty much done with making large-scale predictions like that. Rather, it seems there are some immediate parallels between the way that the wild and crazy Nazuna and Haruka fixate on the main characters and attempt to bring them into their world, and how both Kou and Naota willingly go with them to escape some sort of emotional pain. A bit surface level, sure, but something that definitely stands out.

Aside from that comparison, the episode also sees the introduction of Ko’s friend Akira, who not only considers them to be friends but after meeting Nazuna, wants to bring him back to school. It seems the series wants to set up a sort of twilight-esk dynamic, only in this case Kou is choosing between his own humanity and vampirism. It’s a dynamic that I think certain can work as long as Kou ultimately remains the focus

The Devil is a Part-Timer S2 Ep. 2

The gang continues to grapple with the fact that…apparently they have a kid? I mean, not really. It is clear from the bit at the end that there is a bit of allegory being set up, as the series makes sure to remind you that Alas Ramus came out of an Apple. Anyone who knows literally anything about biblical stories should immediately have some bells going off in their head.

The dynamic is also just incredibly funny, though. The more serious plot elements of this season are intriguing, do not get me wrong. However, I am still mostly here for the comedy. This episode was a little lighter in that department, but the moments that were shown were still pretty hilarious.

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer Ep. 3

Well, it is getting better, I think? Honestly, it would be harder to do worse by the series than that first episode which looked pretty horrendous until they bothered to fix it.

This episode was…ok. I am starting to have less and less hope for this adaptation, and given that I have not read beyond the end of this episode in the manga, it will be hard to tell how good of a job it is actually doing. From what I can tell, the fight between Yuuhi and the golem which shows up outside of the hospital is shortened to focus a little more on his internal struggle with his grandpa. Though, that was still somehow less compelling. The series overall still feels fairly stilted in its animation and action. As much as I hate to admit it, anything good that comes out of this adaptation is going to be carried solely by the manga.

Lycoris Recoil Eps. 3-4

Lycoris Recoil continues to both amaze and confuse me. On the one hand, episode three demonstrated very proficiently the series’ great capacity for character writing that is both interesting and compelling. Takina often comes across as cold and uncaring but also wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to her desire to return to DA proper, although she may deal with some serious self-questioning in the next few episodes.

Chisato meanwhile comes across as aloof but is not only incredibly capable, but also understands what it means to live and work within the DA, and thus wants to do everything she can for Takina. Kind of a shame the series then spend an entire subplot in episode four on two teenage girls buying underwear. Like, are we really still doing this in 2022? Not to say the strong writing elsewhere is negated by this part, but it just feels like such an unnecessary and weird inclusion


How do you feel about this week’s episodes? Let me know in the comments. I am on the verge of dropping Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer at this point and just picking back up the manga in its place, but I will give it another episode or two to redeem itself. Meanwhile, RWBY will be back in our lineup next week, so stay tuned!

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon!

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Feeding the Flames: Anime Music, Turn-Based RPGs, Etc.

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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Well, as usual, I am behind schedule on the series I was planning on covering this month. So, in order to supplement this, it is time once again for some hot takes.

Length is Not Important in Making Good Art

I thought about this a lot after finishing Goodbye, Eri by Tatsuki Fujimoto. He completed a well-rounded story in just about 200 pages and arguably wrote not only one of the best manga of the year but potentially a contender for best manga of the decade.

If it sounds like I am calling out shounen here, well it is because I am…kind of. Obviously, this applies to all long-running series, but Shounen stories tend to disproportionately fit into the category. However, the probably here is not the length itself, but rather that the longer a series goes on, the more prone it is to losing focus of its main plot.

The most important thing when writing a story is not its length. Rather, it is making sure that each part of said story is purposeful, and engages with its other parts in a way that makes sense.

Turn-Based RPGs Aren’t Inherently Boring

As much as I consider myself a fan of more action-oriented RPGs like Final Fantasy 13 and the very small amount of the Tales series that I have been able to play, something about the turn-based style of gameplay has always held its charm for me.

While I can certainly understand why people would feel strongly about their repetitive nature, part of that come from a lot of games that either focuses heavily on grinding, have little variance in gameplay, or both. Games like 2012’s Bravely Default prove that even small variations in the traditional formula can make for engaging gameplay that requires more attention than simply mashing through menus.

Still, I am not gonna sit here and pretend like most games that stick with the turn-based formula are innovating in that way.

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The Tokyo Ghoul Anime Wasn’t That Bad

There are very few anime that I would say are wholly inferior to their source material. One of those is The Promised Neverland, which…yeah. The other, though, is Tokyo Ghoul. So much of the second season just feels scuffed as hell compared to what we got in the manga.

However, to say that its first season is on the same level feels a bit ludicrous. The adaptation of its story, even if some minor details were left out, was solid, and the animation from Studio Pierrot was above average. It was by no means perfect, but certainly not bad enough to complain endlessly about.

Hiroyuki Sawano

That is the take because my boy Sawano is on fire. On a more serious note, I do think Sawano has, at least at this point, cemented himself as one of the better music producers of anime history. It can certainly feel one-note at times, but at his best, his production is so hard-hitting that it frankly does not matter.

If I were to name some of my favorite music producers, it would likely be Sawano and Yoko Kano. I realize that these are not especially controversial picks, and this series is called Feeding the Flames, but hey, what can I say, quality is quality.

Good Anime Endings are More Memorable than Good Anime Openings

There are a lot of good anime openings, both in turns of animation but also in terms of music. However, the same cannot be said for anime endings, which often feel hand-picked to sound as boring and forgettable as possible. It does make sense, though, as first impressions are often much more important when it comes to sticking to a consistent audience. This is why, despite not thinking much about them, I could very easily name some of my favorite ending themes (more specifically, my favorite anime ending at the moment is Style Helix by Myth&Roid from Re: Zero, while my second favorite is Hibana by The Sixth Lie from Golden Kamuy).


What are some of your hot takes? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks go to Jenn for the support on Patreon.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Attack on Titan Final Season: Episodes 72-75

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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The walls are coming down, and society on Eldia is in the midst of total collapse. This time, however, it is not because of some mass titan invasion, but rather the military strength of an entire country. Marley has decided the time is now, and in pursuit of Eldia’s demise, they fly into battle alone, without the support of other governments. Eren must now use his newfound power amongst the Jaegerists to fight against this now impending invasion.

Of course, that’s only the finale of this set of episodes, and while it was certainly well done, there are a lot of other things to talk about.

First, watching the various factions related to Sasha come together in order to find out how she died, only to be faced with her killer in Gabi, was a legitimately thrilling moment. For as nice a person as Sasha’s dad is, it would not have been surprising to attempt to kill Gabi in a fit of rage, especially considering how much her character has been set up in the interim between her death and that scene.

For as important as Nicolo has been in this season, though, it would have been nice to get a bit more about their relationship other than “they were probably in love,” but obviously it is nowhere close to the main plot, so I understand why they did not.

Speaking of Gabi, for as annoying as she can be, the internal conflict she has been going through based on her identity as both an Eldian and a Marleyian has been genuinely compelling to watch. On the one hand, she has been indoctrinated by the Marleyian government since birth, raised to believe that only by serving her country can she redeem her sinful existence.

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On the other hand, when faced with Eldians who were cast out and labeled “island devils,” she is faced with nothing but kindness, despite having killed one of their comrades. The psychological conflict between what she has been told versus her immediate reality is something I hope gets resolved by the series’ end.

Sooner than expected, Eren, Mikasa, and Armin manage to reunite while Eren is holding them hostage. It was at this point in the episode that I started having even more conflicted feelings about Attack on Titan and his character than I already do, and where the conversation around the show’s political ideology has taken a decided turn.

Memes upon memes were being thrown around during the early Attack on Titan episodes about how Eren’s goal was simply to kill all of the Titans and get revenge. By the end of the third season, this goal was much closer to being a reality, but it is also at this point where also incredibly meme’d to death scene of Eren at the beach comes in, with him asking “If we kill all our enemies over there, will we truly be free?” This brings us to the restaurant scene, where Eren’s conception of freedom has warped into something decidedly more fascist in nature, where there is a clear black and white boundary between the free and those he would call slaves.

Of course, I am only halfway through this season, and there is of course one final part that is not coming out till next year, so I will save all the think-piecing until then.

Arguably the most compelling section of this group is the episode that focuses on Zeke’s past and his connection to Paradis. Owl, the leader of the group planning to overthrow Marley, is Zeke’s dad, and in order to save himself from being killed, Zeke rats them out at the order of his future mentor, the previous beast titan holder. While not providing a ton of information that was not already known, it is an interesting dive into his character and the origin of his twisted ideology, highlighting the circumstances which lead to his existence today.

Overall, this was a great set of episodes, both in terms of writing and animation, but also one that leaves me conflicted as to AOT’s direction ideologically.


How do you feel about Attack on Titan? Let me know in the comments (no spoilers please).

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting the blog on Patreon

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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Summer 2022 Episode Reviews: Week Two

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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It is time once again to look at summer 2022’s offerings and see how they are doing this week. This time, there are a couple of new additions and some clarifications I need to add.

Lycoris Recoil Eps. 1-2

This was not a series I even realized existed this season, let alone planned on picking up. However, despite the fact that it flew a bit under the radar, there is certainly some potential here. The setup of undercover agents who work to stop danger before it arrives makes a lot of sense, especially since the introductory monologue seems to imply there is a lot more going on with this organization than meets the eye. On top of that, the dynamic being set up between the care-free Chisato and the straight-laced Takina seems like it could work really well, and has already presented some seeds of interpersonal conflict.

The one hold-off I have about this show is: why teenage girls? I spent a solid half an hour trying to come up with some thematic justifications for why they would be this young, and there were definitely some that seemed plausible. However, if their age is irrelevant thematically anyway, why not take the opportunity to focus on some adult characters? Maybe ones that have already dealt with some morally grey decisions as the result of orders from the DA. I kinda hope this series ends up being a bit more than just a cute girls show, cause there is a lot of here to like.

The Devil is a Part-Timer Season 2 Ep. 1

On the contrary, I have been eagerly awaiting the time that I get to talk about this series once again. The Devil is a Part-Timer is one of my all-time favorite comedy series, and the studios really did a disservice by letting this go without a sequel for so long. So, how did the first episode fair?

Pretty good, actually. There was, of course, plenty of high-quality humor abounds, with the primary focus of the episode being on Ushiora’s unwillingness to do anything for the house. Meanwhile, Maou has to deal with normal work BS, all the while a c*ckr*ach hides in their closet and terrorizes the apartment. The end-of-episode reveal did feel a bit out of left field but was still hilarious, and I am certainly excited to see where the rest of the season goes.

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Call of the Night Ep. 2

I started talking about this show’s first episode by saying that I was pleasantly surprised, and overall, that is the best way I can speak about episode two as well. Much like Lycoris Recoil, Call of the Night already has a lot going on thematically that I think could really be utilized well given some good execution.

Between the two of them though, while Recoil arguably has a bit more going on plot-wise, Call of the Night just looks and sounds really damn good. The Jazz and hip-hop-infused soundtrack combined with a set of very minimalist backgrounds make the city and surrounding suburbs feel incredibly empty, but at the same time, also inviting. This is kind of the point of the show, I am aware, but it is worth pointing out because of how well it has been done so far.

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer Ep. 2

Ask and you shall receive, I guess? The big quality issue as far as the video itself on Crunchyroll is concerned seems to have been fixed, which is nice. However, I cannot say that the series animation is all that compelling. The character designs are unique enough, but the action, despite only happening in short bursts, looks kinda…ok, but nothing special.

This episode does give lead us into one of the first major “arcs” if you wanna call it that, which is Yuuhi confronting his past and his abusive uncle. In that regard, it does a solid job at creating this feeling of a tortured mental state that he is going through. I honestly am not sure how long I plan to stick with this, but for now, it is still just ok.

Made in Abyss S2 Ep. 2

So, as it happens, I made a bit of an oopsie. Not only did I not bother watching the recap films, but I also was completely unaware that the third movie was entirely canon and necessary for understanding the plot, which is probably why the first episode last week came off as overly confusing.

Having now watched said film and the second episode, I can confidently say I am in fact, slightly less confused. All jokes aside, this was a fantastic episode as well. The scenery of the Golden City is gorgeous, as well as the continuously unique monster designs that populate the sixth layer. The question of the beings that stole Riko’s white whistle is also lingering in the air after that final scene. Overall, a great couple of opening episodes with a lot more to come, I am willing to bet.


RWBY: Ice Queendom is on a bit of a hiatus until episode four, but otherwise, weekly coverage will continue until I decide to drop something, which may or may not happen. What is your favorite weekly watch? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to our awesome Patron Jenn for the support.

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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The Observation Deck: Odd Taxi

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

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I will be honest, after reading Goodbye, Eri earlier this year, there was little doubt in my mind that it would remain the most compelling thing I consumed in 2022. Little did I know, however, that a certain show about an anthropomorphic walrus taxi driver would come into my life and give it a serious run for its money.

Last year’s critical darling Odd Taxi tells the story of Hiroshi Odokawa, a seemingly normal middle-aged taxi driver who spends his days listening to manzai comedy on the radio. Yet, for as much as he likely wishes to live out the rest of his boring days in peace, all of that is swiftly interrupted by his connection to the case of a missing 18-year girl. He soon becomes caught up in a web of crime that involves friends, foes, and passengers alike.

A Story Like No Other

Odd Taxi is the sort of once-in-a-decade show where everything about it lines up perfectly or near-so. It is a story that starts and ends around its central premise: a dude driving a Taxi, but what it does with that time in between is so mind-blowingly brilliant that dissecting it all in full could easily take up a two-hour YouTube essay. Unfortunately, I am not looking to make said video, so I will try my best in a more condensed context.

For starters, Odokawa. Not only is he the conduit through which all of the characters are introduced, but each and every interaction that he has with them is also relevant in some way to the overall plot. This leaves the story and dialogue oozing with attention to detail. A conversation that happened in episode two likely has some bearing on how a person views episode seven, for example.

One might assume then since the focus is often the people he drives around in his taxi that Odokawa’s character suffers because of it, but this is not true. In fact, despite the passive nature of his job, Odokawa often challenges the ideas of his passengers, both as a way of calling out the dumb things that they say, but also as a way of understanding the world around him.

Then, there is everyone else. I am not exaggerating when I say that it is almost irresponsible of me to talk about any individual side character for too long because nearly all of them contribute to the plot in some equally important way.

Among some of the more important ones though are Goriko and Shirakawa, Odokawa’s doctor and nurse respectively, and Dobu, one of the criminals who force Odokawa to help him over the course of the show. The three of them tend to show up most often, especially in the later episodes, and often dictate events in a way that is most relevant to Odokawa himself.

As far as the actual quality of the characters themselves, there is not much to say other than that they are fantastically written. Apart from their functionality in the story, despite being presented as animals, everyone in the story feels like uniquely real, often morally flawed human beings. Furthermore, it is often these flaws that generate conflict, both internally and externally and make each scene that much more compelling.

Two Words: Good Pacing

It is one thing to have a set of compelling and unique characters whose stories have intertwined in a way that makes sense. It is another thing entirely to be able to tell that story in a window of time which makes it feel not too convoluted but also not too slow and neverending. Odd Taxi again pulls off an incredible feat by finding the perfect slight left-of-center pacing.

One example of how it pulls this off is by using its often dense dialogue. I mentioned before how important a two-minute conversation can be in the grand scheme of things, and I was not joking. However, none of this ever feels like it is being pulled out of nowhere. The speed at which plot points move is certainly above average, but not so much so that some of the bigger reveals towards the later third are nonsensical.

There is also a lot of visual delivery when it comes to major elements of the story. Now, that might sound incredibly stupid since I am talking about an anime, but let me explain. Odd Taxi likes to use a good amount of switching between scenes, even when a conversation is ongoing, as a way of making sure to check if the audience is paying attention. Important details are often delivered in the final moments of an episode, making it necessary to watch the screen at all times. Now, for those who are not as accustomed to reading subtitles quickly (i.e. newer anime fans or people who do not watch with subtitles as much) this can create a small barrier to entry, but it is nothing that would ruin the experience entirely.

Simple is Good Sometimes

Those who have seen any trailers for the series may have noticed something about the show’s animation: it is decidedly less complex than a lot of other series. This is not to say that the animation is bad, far from it. There are a ton of stand-out moments where the animation picks up as needed.

What I mean to say, rather, is that a lot of Odd Taxi‘s worldview is reflected in the way it draws its characters. Sure, they are all anthropomorphic humans, but even in their designs, there is a lot of personality. Without going into spoiler territory, Odokawa is again a useful example. Yes, he is most certainly a Walrus, there is no denying that. The plainness of his eyes, the heaviness around his nose and mouth which almost look like a five-o-clock shadow, and his tendency for simple button-ups portray a lot more about his personality than a crazy sakuga moment ever will.

Now, someone could just respond and say “that’s called character design,” and based on what I have said they would be one-hundred percent correct. Still, this simplicity does not just exist within its characters, as it extends to the show’s backgrounds as well. There is significantly less stylization when it comes to the color schemes and a much more gritty reality. Pretty much all of this has to do with Odokawa himself, but again, that would be spoiler territory, and this show is still relatively new.

Conclusion

It was honestly harder to find negative things to say about this series than positive ones. If I were really nitpicking, I would say that the comedy duo could have been involved in the main plot more, or that Yano’s whole rap shtick got kinda old by the end. Really, though, that would just be delaying the fact that this is the best thing I have watched this year, and finding more competition is going to be hard, to say the least. It goes without saying, though I will say it anyway just to be sure, that those who have not watched Odd Taxi should absolutely watch it.

96/100


How do you feel about Odd Taxi? Let me know down in the comments.

If you are interested in reading more from me, check under blog to read my most recent stuff, or look below for some related posts. Also, if you would like to support Animated Observations, consider donating on Ko-fi or through paypal, or pledging on Patreon. You can even support by just liking and sharing this post.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Check out my writing blog, Solidly Liquid!

As always, special thanks to Jenn for supporting us on Patreon

If you can’t, or just don’t feel like it, no worries. Thank you all for reading, and goodbye, for now, friends!

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