Review- No Game No Life Volume 2: Blank, the Masters of Gaming(SPOILERS)

No Game No Life has, without a doubt, been one of the most fascinating adventures that I have been taken on ever. A world in which there is no conflict, no war, no physical pain, and it is all being taken over by an 18-year-old virgin and his 11-year-old sister. In their previous world, they were known as “Blank,” and the two have never lost a game, no matter what it is. Now, slowly conquering the entirety of Disboard, Sora and Shiro are on their way to challenging God.

The second volume picks up right where the first ends when Sora and Shiro have become the joint ruler of Elkia, the last kingdom of the Immanity race. At this point, the writing is still fantastic. Yuu Kamiya’s story has started extremely strong and her characters are both hilarious and relatable.

Sora and Shiro have, so far, been largely defined by being opposites of each other, and therefore have strength in being together. Sora is defined by his ability to read other people. He knows when someone is lying, like how he is able to tell that warebeasts can’t actually read minds just by Inu’s reaction to his accusation in the Elkian Embassy. Shiro, on the other hand, is much more like a sponge, using her near-photographic memory to absorb all the possibilities in a given game, like when she plays chest and is able to map out her moves based on the situation at hand. While they may share much of a personality, the way they approach the games that they play makes them work well as a pair.

It was also good to know that the story of their life in their previous world has not yet been forgotten, as the book also brilliantly hints at the pain they both shared, especially Shiro, in another world. The way Shiro life is described before and after she met sora as being monochromatic and then filled with color really sets up a beautiful ongoing metaphor, although in this case, I feel like it was used to much greater effect in the anime, where the world of Disboard reflects the colorful life they both longed for.

Jibril is also a great addition to the cast, as her lack of emotional understanding of humans leads to some pretty funny comedic bits. It does look like she might be a one trick pony as the story continues, although I can’t be entirely sure.

Steph is, well Steph. I never found her to be the most interesting part of No Game No Life, although I also don’t think she is the worst part of it either. She does become a bit more likable when Sora gets angry at her for how her grandfather handled the kingdom, only to discover that Sora got angry for no reason.

Overall, I can’t stop loving No Game No Life. The second volume got to one of my favorite parts in the anime, the battle with Jibril, and did well setting up the cliffhanger for the arc with Sora’s disappearance. It is still a wonderfully imaginative series that I cannot wait to continue.

 

 

 

Neo Yokio Trailer Reaction: huh?

Trailer: https://youtu.be/hwc6fTnsdBI

As has been reported before, the unprecedented growth in popularity of anime has not been lost on Netflix. They have obtained the exclusive license for a few shows over the recent years, and just this season they managed to acquire both Kakegurui and Fate/Apocrypha. They are also planning on releasing a whole host of other projects, including a remake of the original Saint Seiya and Cannon Busters, a new show directed by LeSean Thomas, who recently directed Crunchyroll’s first original IP Children of Ether.

What was not on that list of new shows was Neo Yokio, a show written and produced by Vampire Weekend’s lead singer Ezra Koenig. The show’s new trailer sets the world of Neo Yokio in a city of the same name, where main character Kaz Kaan lives his life as a wealthy playboy who hunts demons on the side.

I can safely say that even with all the interest that Netflix has taken in anime as of late, I would not have expected this. Netflix must really have a thing for passion projects as of late because of this, along with the recently released Death Note movie, is honestly a bit surreal.

The Trailer opens on Kaaz, along with his robot butler Charles, watching two women play tennis, showing us part of his wealthy lifestyle. Charles then proceeds to describe Neo Yokio as one of the most culturally and architecturally diverse places, and the envy of the world.

At this point, I’m still in shock at the names attached to this thing, like Jaden Smith of all people, but at the same time, I’m a bit in awe. The show is described on Netflix as a comedy, so I can only assume much of this ridiculous mish mash of plotlines will be played for laughs.

The voice acting doesn’t really inspire a lot of confidence in me either. Based on this trailer, it seems like Jaden Smith rushed through his lines just to get his paycheck and everyone else in the trailer was ok at best.

The Music also didn’t seem that impressive, with the trailer playing what sounded like some generic backing music.

I can’t overstate my general sense of confusion. On one hand, despite its lackluster trailer, this does look like something that could be genuinely funny. On the other, it’s just amazing that something like this even exists. I do hope there is quality to be found here, but I’m honestly just not sure where to look.

5 Great Slice of Life Shows You Should Watch if You Haven’t

The Slice of Life genre is one that has always been fascinating to me. The way that stories can focus on singular characters and have them be the story makes for a very different type of show. I thought I would take the time to share some of the ones that I enjoy the most. Some of these are my favorites, and some I just think are ones people should watch.

1. Spice and Wolf.

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Spice and Wolf is a show that I watched this summer because a friend had told me it was his first anime. After getting curious enough, I watched, and man am I glad I did. The Story of Lawrence Craft and his mercantile adventures with Holo is one of the most entertaining and thoughtful shows I’ve watched. As the two travel around the world, they talk about the economics of the times, the places that they’ve yet to visit, and even the mysteries of life. The show never fails to bring a smile to my face, or when it goes south, make me care for Lawrence and Holo. It is definitely worth your time.

2.  March Comes in Like a Lion

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If I had to pick an anime for anime of the year in 2016, it probably would have come down to March Comes in like a lion and a few other shows. After seeing Nisekoi a while back, I was honestly surprised that the people at Studio Shaft could take such a similar art palette and design style and apply it to a show like this. It’s quality shines through in every aspect, and most importantly in the characters. Rei Kiriyama is not only someone I can relate, in that, I get so focused on one thing that I shut out people, he is also someone I root for. His story is not only emotionally painful but also a journey I felt I had been with him for his entire life like I was his best friend. March Comes in Like a Lion is an example of why character driven stories can be so rewarding.

3. Tonari no Seki-Kun

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Aside from fantasy adventures and character dramas, Tonari no Seki-Kun is probably one of the funniest shows I’ve seen. With each episode, Seki is preparing a new gimmick, and his classmate Yokoi can only sit there and imagine what must be going through his head, whether it be a war on a chess board or the falling of a domino empire. The antics in this show reach absurd heights and it’s better for it.

4. Kokoro Connect

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Kokoro Connect was a show that I was not expecting to be as lively or as dramatic as it was, but it definitely wasn’t bad. It was a very interesting exploration of interpersonal relationships and how those relationships can get ruined by both lies and truth. It did amaze me when I watched it that such a fascinating show had flown under my radar for so long, but no longer!

5. Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

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If you’ve been in the anime community for any period of for the last year now, you probably know about Dragon Maid. The memes have reached far and wide and with them the show itself. But, if you have been one of the ones unfortunate enough to not check out this adorably hilarious comedy about dragons living in some random lady’s apartment you should. The show is genuinely enjoyable, and it has one of the most mature characters you will see in a show: Kobayashi. She’s kind, understanding, and respecting other people. Her, along with Tooru and the others will make you want to stay for the ride. But remember, don’t lewd the dragon lolis.

Twitter Poll: What Did You Think Of Netflix’s Death Note?

Hey, guys! Just wanted to throw this up because I’m very curious on people’s opinions of the new Death Note Movie. Would appreciate a response. The poll will be up for two more days. Thanks a lot in advance!

Netflix’s Death Note: A Misunderstanding of Source Material

Netflix’s live action adaptation of the popular anime and manga series “Death Note” became highly controversial among the anime community when it was announced. Fans of the original speculated as to whether or not the project’s director Adam Wingard could bring justice to a series that to many is considered the pinnacle of animated storytelling. The trailers released several months prior to the movie’s release gave many fans hope that the movie could bring one of the most famous stories in popular culture to a live action medium, but the finished product has given fans of the original, including myself, much to criticize in the way of a good adaptation.

Adam Wingard’s vision of “Death Note” was different from the original, and that is a detriment to the film. In an interview with The Verge, Wingard admits, “I grounded it by taking this complicated story, and rooting it in this idea of a coming-of-age teenage tragic romance.” This, however, is the main problem with the movie. “Death Note” is not about a romance or a tragedy. “Death Note” is the story of a kid who gains the power to kill anyone by simply writing a name in a book and picturing a face. This power corrupts him and he slowly transitions from a hero of justice to someone who kills without hesitation. Netflix’s adaptation ignores this transformation entirely in order to appeal to a more mainstream audience, and the movie suffers because of it.

This is not to say that a different interpretation of “Death Note” would be a waste of time. In fact, it’s setting in America might actually make it a more genuinely interesting film. As an article by Rebecca Sun in The Hollywood Reporter points out, “America’s greatest storytelling strength isn’t its high production value. It’s multiculturalism – access to a wide array of backgrounds and identities, and an ability to find out what happens when they collide.” An interpretation of “Death Note” where themes of racism and racial injustice, or one with even more focus on the idea of America’s identity as the world’s policemen, as the movie briefly hints at, would have been much more interesting. Instead, Wingard chooses to focus mainly on a romance that has zero chemistry, and little relation to the original story.

Aside from Wingard’s inability to find a strong thematic direction for the film, there is plenty to like about the live action “Death Note”. The casting of the movie was generally phenomenal. Willem Dafoe’s voicing of Ryuk was the perfect choice, as he precisely captures the creepiness and looming danger that Ryuk’s presence signals for Light. Keith Stanfield’s performance as L was also an enjoyable addition to the movie. Even though L’s quirks like eating sweets and sitting on top of chairs were seen by many as not easily transferable to a live action film, Stanfield manages to bring his character to life without coming across as awkward.

The soundtrack is also worth mentioning, as it does a lot to hold up the movie. A considerable amount of thought was clearly put into the music and music placement in the film. It is especially visible during the final third when tensions between Light and Mia grow, and the two become visibly more insane. The fast and heavy music during the scenes where L confronts Light also add to the intensity during the movie’s best moments.

Unfortunately, it does not seem possible to call this movie great, and to some, it might even be a stretch to call it good. Wingard’s decision to depart from the core themes of the original while leaving nothing but a half-baked romance in its place takes away a lot from its standing as an adaptation. Wingard may have done well with casting and music choices, but trying to compare Netflix’s adaptation of the original anime series leaves a lot to be desired.

 

First Impressions: Bokurano: An Under Appreciated Thrill Ride

I’ve noted before on this blog that my experience with mech shows is limited, and that I had never really found a reason to explore the genre at all. After watching Eureka Seven, and also having seen just three episodes of this, I’m reminded that there plenty of great shows in the mech genre.

Bokurano’s story of a game turned reality involving 15 kids who get sucked into a war that they can’t leave is attention-grabbing. Not only are the kids very different in personality, their sense what to do in the situation that they are in is also diverse. Some are hesitant to start piloting a robot from a game that appeared without any explanation. Others, like Waku, innocently assume that it’s all still a game and that nothing will go wrong.

It’s also fairly obvious from this point which characters are probably going to be the most interesting. Masura, who’s arc looks to be coming up in the next episode, is implied to be very demented based on what he’s said so far. Although we don’t know much about, Yosuke also seems like someone who’s character will be a lot more interesting than implied. His shyness, while making him look innocent enough, might also be a sign that he is hiding something he doesn’t want others to find out about him. Takami, whose father is a member of the Japanese Diet, also looks like she is hiding something about herself in favor of appearing as a dignified daughter.

A topic that comes up in a lot of anime, this one especially, is the idea of doing something for the collective versus doing something for the individual. So far, the show has portrayed the idea of doing for the collective in a very negative light. After all, when they tried to work together to save the world from the first of the 15 aliens that are going to attack earth Waku ended up dying just for piloting the ship, even though he won.

Aside from the ideological aspects of the show, it still has some things to like about it. while the animation is older, and the CG doesn’t look as good as it probably did, It still holds up in quality. The character designs overall are a little plain, and at times it can be hard to tell characters apart.

Musically the show is nothing to ride home about so far. It works for setting up the scenes that it needs to, but aside from that, it hasn’t shown any outstanding qualities so far. The opening is nice to listen to and is somewhat reminiscent of Evangelion’s opening, albeit much less up beat.

I’m definitely excited to move forward with the show. I doubt I will be excited with anything animation or music wise that the show has to offer, but I am genuinely curious to see what the show does with its setup and what it has to say about that setup.

 

Update: AHO-Girl is the best thing I’ve watched this season. Here’s why.

Unfortunately, the shows I’ve chosen to watch this season have ranged from ok, to mediocre, to outright awful. I can’t really tell if this is because I did little to no research on the shows that I picked up, or if I just have really terrible luck, but I seemed to have gotten the worst of the bunch.

I know this because many of the of the other shows that I happened to not see, either because of lack of legal means to watch or because I just wasn’t aware of it at the time, like Princess Principle, Kakegurui, and Made in Abyss have all had their praises sung from the time they started airing.

Somehow, aside from AHO-girl and Tsuredure Children, I picked up three of the most terrible shows from this season. AHO-girl is the only show I could consider among these to be legitimately good. As I’ve discussed before here, it’s low brow humor is still very widely appealing, and in recent episodes, the jokes have expanded and only gotten funnier.

Meanwhile, the other shows that I’ve watched all suffer from an illness known as terrible. As I’ve discussed before on my blog, Classroom of the Elite and GAMERS! both lack a compelling direction for their narrative. Classroom of the Elite has more recently gotten wrapped in a somewhat unnecessary side plot that focuses on a secret idol named Sakura. She gives a testimony to help the Sudo, the classes’ drop out, avoid being expelled for beating up three upper classmen. This really felt like a departure from what started out as a really interesting and exciting premise.Classroom of the Elite

GAMERS!, which did a complete one eighty in terms of the direction in the first episode, turned into nothing but a somewhat funny, but ultimately mediocre ROM-COM. More recently, it has become a relationship Pentagon that is only as confusing as it is because apparently nobody in the show knows how to deal relationships in a serious way.GAMERS

I also recently have watched parts of In Another World with My Smartphone. While I may do a full review in the future, I can tell you right now that I am not a fan. In an anime landscape that is currently full of Isekai shows, this one really had to do something different to impress. Isekai Wa Smartphone

Not only did it not do something different, but it might possibly have inadvertently created the strongest characters of all time. Touya can use all of the worlds magic, has infinite mana, and can use his phone to increase the power of his magic. It’s like they took Kirito from Sword Art Online and said: “No, this guy needs to be more unbeatable!” I started a running joke between a friend of mine and me that Touya is pretty much the new god of this world and should be treated as such.

AHO-Girl, therefore, stands at the top of the shows I’ve watched during the summer 2017 season. It is a really good comedy and should be praised as such, but most of my picks this season were honestly just garbage, and I’ll probably be dropping most of them soon.

 

 

Review- From the New World(Shin Sekai Yori): One of the Greats(SPOILERS)

When I first started this blog for sharing my watching experience I wrote a review of Eureka Seven and said that it was one of the best shows I’ve seen to date. Two months later and I’ve watched another near perfect show. From the New World is not only one of the best anime I’ve ever seen, It’s also a piece of art that should be recognized for its wonderful dystopian story and masterful presentation.

To say that the writing is good is to sell this show short. Its brilliance begins with its premise: a story of a world torn apart by a war against a group of people who, in the course of human evolution, developed the ability to manipulate reality with his or her mind. In a new society set a millennium after the war tore apart the world, a town made up of humans with reality manipulating powers lives in relative peace.

What makes From the New World’s writing so interesting has a lot to do with the town itself. Most of the struggles in our main character Saki’s life come as a direct or indirect result of the leaders of the town, who generally comprise either the Ethics Committee and the Education Committee. Under the authority of these groups, the town has become what can only be described as a hyper-authoritarian state. The ability to move outside of the spiritual barrier that has been setup around the town is highly restricted. It is also found out later that the ethics committee has hypnotized all the groups of children accept Saki and her friends in order to make sure that they do not go against the committee’s wishes. This setup serves to show just how seriously the powers that they hold are taken. Someone with their Psychokinetic powers could easily kill thousands of those without it. As such, the Ethics Committee felt as though they had to protect their peace.

The show does make sure to call into question the morality of their policies of the Committees often. After all, they send out Trickster Cats to eliminate those who they feel are a problem, and they are openly hostile to those who question their authority. These actions are always shown in much darker and unforgiving light.

Saki and her friends ultimately carry the show. It is through their eyes that we see the corruption of the town’s leadership throughout all stages of their lives. Saki, the shows main character, is portrayed as someone who is constantly the learning. As she grows up she learns more and more about their town Kamisu 66 and what really goes on behind the scenes. It is through her that we find out about the trickster cats, the leader of the ethics committee Tomiko, and the treatment of the Monster Rats. She is both our main perspective of the world and also herself a bystander to its tragedy. It is also through her that we see a loss of innocence, both in herself and her friends, as they learn about the horrors of their history and about the society they live in.

Wataru is also an important character and one that complements Saki well. When she is in a moment of hesitation and she feels like she can’t move on it’s Wataru that snaps her out of it. We also see the world through his eyes, to a lesser extent, but as he grows up with her Wataru becomes a bit more cynical of the world than Saki. He is constantly making Saki evaluate the decisions she is going to make while also being there to protect her.

The Music in the show isn’t what I would call the greatest, but it is by no means bad. It does well to complement the tones of the scenes they are used in, whether those tones are romantic or horrific. I do have to mention one song, in particular, Kage no Denshouka Daisanbu, which while being one of the most prominent songs in the show is also the best song and is definitely worth listening to on its own.

It’s very hard to find fault in a show like From the New World given how perfectly executed it is, but then we get to the animation. Admittedly it gets better as the show goes on, but it the beginning it is really jarring inconsistent some of the characters look, especially during scenes when the characters are the focus. Although, I can definitely see an argument of this being intentional. As the show goes on the animation of Saki and her friends becomes more rigid and structured, mirroring her conformity to the society of the town.

I’ve had a lot more to say about this show because I feel like it deserves a good explanation of why it’s so great, and I hope this review has done it the justice it deserves. From the New World is a show that will stand the test of time because of its quality storytelling and ability to portray tragedy in all the complexity and nuance that a story like it requires. It is definitely a must-watch.

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