Tag Archives: Review

Final Thoughts: Gleipnir

Welcome, weebs, to Animated Observations

That was…better than I expected.

I have talked a lot about how when going into most shows, I tend to have little or no expectations as to what the show’s contents will be so I can give it a fair evaluation, but inevitably there will be some anime that spark such an interest that it inevitably leads to excitement. For me, “Gleipnir” was one of those shows.

Though, I will say that for this show most of my expectations were generated solely based on the show’s aesthetic and a strange connection I made between it and old “Amnesia” lets-plays from Markiplier. Just…don’t ask. So, how did the show live up to my oddly inspired expectations? Actually, pretty well.

For once, I was not betrayed by hopes of what the show could offer, even if most others would probably disagree with me as to the elements worthy of merit. With that being said, without stalling much longer, lets get into it.

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The Bad Stuff

Ok, so lets just start with what I do think the show did badly. First things first, for as much as she seemingly does in the show, Clair is not really that interesting. Like, I get that she is there to create juxtaposition and tension, specifically between Shuuichi and Elena. However, outside of that purpose, and also for the occasional random fanservice, she barely has a personality other than being sarcastic and mean. Like, the most important thing she does is help Shuuichi get back his memories by asking him when the last time he saw his parents.

The other bad thing about the show that I think can be justified somewhat is its ending. The show left off on what I have heard referred to by many as a “read the manga” ending, which is exactly what it sounds like. This makes it a lot less enjoyable since there is no clear resolution and a main villain yet to be fought who was introduced only episode before the end of the series. Still, I do not think it is as big a deal, because from what has happened so far, it feels as though there is a clear ending in mind based on what has happened so far.

Now, to cover my ass a bit, I did make a very similar criticism against “Beastars” when I finished its first season a while ago. The reason I think that criticism is more valid against a show like “Beastars” as opposed to “Gleipnir” is that it feels as though “Gleipnir” has earned has put a bit more complexity into the exploration of its own themes whereas “Beastars” felt like it was using its themes as a sort of backdrop to help move along its poorly developed characters and plot.

The Good Stuff

Pretty much everything else to be honest. Yeah, I said it. The show’s pretty good. Not really sure why the show is rated so poorly. The concept alone is interesting enough, with the battle royale style format mixed with a mission from an alien race and the ability to change people’s forms at will.

The powers themselves have all of the appeal of the Nen system from Hunter X Hunter, with forms people take on being a manifestation of their own, although in some cases other people’s, desires. In particular, the powers of the group that Shuuichi and Clair end up joining are pretty cool, especially Isao, who has the ability to grow plants by simply touching them.

I try not to comment on music too much because it is not my field of expertise, but I will say that the indie horror game ambience created by much of the soundtrack was a serious boon to my enjoyment of the show. The sound effects too were enjoyable and not at all irritating to listen to, which is a lot more than I can say for other series.

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Conclusion

As part of my renewed focus on seasonal shows, I wanted to clear out a few that I had yet to finish, and I still have “Kaguya-sama” and a few others to go. However, I am glad that I finished this show, in particular, as it left me with a great sense of enjoyment. While it certainly is not perfect, and there are definitely a few more things I could highlight that need improvement, it was fun.


How do you all feel about “Gleipnir?” 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.

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Blerd Lines: Where Fiction and Reality Both Meet Tragedy

Welcome, weebs and authors alike, to The Aniwriter.

As I mentioned in my last update post, today, I’ll be doing something a little bit different. If you don’t know him, Lujaune “El’ja” Bowens is a spoken word poet who has been honing his craft since around 2005. Today I’ll be reviewing his third collection of poems titled “Blerd Lines”

Full disclosure: I have interviewed him before for an article I wrote back when I was with The Hawkeye, my school newspaper, and he did send me the book to read, so make of that what you will. With that being said, here’s the review.


Poetry has always been known for individual expression. Whether it be about the beauty of nature, or the solitude of silence, poets express themselves in uniquely interesting ways. However, poetry in recent years has come to take on a new, underlying theme: Identity. With the swarm of socio-political chaos that has swept its way into the White House, and which has also been the propagator of bigotry and hatred, identity has become more important than ever. El’ja Bowens’ “Blerd Lines” is the perfect example of how this theme of identity can play out in beautiful ways.

One part of Identity Bowens focuses on throughout the book is the accepting of others for who they are. In the poem “That’s All Folks,” focuses on the attempted demonization of non-heterosexuals that changed the character of Bugs Bunny from a less heteronormative one to one that was explicitly Heterosexual. Later on in the poem, Bowens cleverly describes a situation in which someone responds to a doctor’s suggestion that they will “see the light” when it comes to their sexuality, and then that person responds to the doctor’s assertion with Bugs Bunny’s signature catchphrase “What’s up doc?” Making the doctor’s suggestion that sexuality is something that can be grown out of the punchline reinforces the idea that being judged for arbitrary things that people have no control over is wrong.

Bowens also grapples with the reality that he is a black man in America. In the opening poem “Don’t Be Alarmed,” he makes it clear that despite having a diverse number of interests, he still fears people seeing him in a one-dimensional light, or as he puts it: “I can’t blame people that gaze like its 1000 convicts.” Later on in the poem, Bowens brilliantly pushes back by saying he has a “smile has a melody that replicates a thousand rainbows,” and then wraps up the poem with “Don’t be alarmed because I’m here to live my life…”

In “Eyeore’s Dilemma,” Bowens cleverly imagine himself as Eyeore, but in this story, he wonders “Maybe if I changed the color of my skin Then maybe I won’t see what gloomy looks like in the mirror.” Try as he might to forget about the pain of always being perceived as fundamentally different, just like Eyeore himself, Bowens distracts himself by comparing that pain to rain and saying “one of the nicest things about the rain is that it always stops… Eventually.” The comparison to here to Eyeore is fantastic because just like the pain created by racism, it’s not likely to go away.

But Bowens’ poems aren’t all doom in gloom. In fact, another huge aspect of his work is his identity as a nerd, and he is not afraid to show it. In “Don’t Be Alarmed,” Bowens makes his passion for video games such as Final Fantasy and Manga like Dragon Ball Z and Bleach abundantly clear. In “Nerd Haikus and Other Ramblings,” Bowens again makes reference to Manga and Anime when he talks about the idea that Trump holds the Death Note, and that Piccolo is a real father to Gohan. Sure, Both these pieces are somewhat more serious in tone, but they are also reflective of his passion for things generally considered to be nerdy.

What appears in “Blerd Lines” is not just a collection of poems, but a continuing story of Bowens’ identity. In this book, he puts himself on display, all his fears, hopes and aspirations. Sometimes it can hard to face a world where people are judged arbitrarily for things they cannot control, or for interests they have that don’t harm anyone else, but to Bowens, that is all apart of what makes us, us. I’m sure that for many poetry has become that thing you remember studying in high school English, but “Blerd Lines” is absolutely worth your time.


If you want to get the book for yourself, you can find it here when it releases this Friday.

Who are some of your favorite modern poets? What is your favorite thing about poetry? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

Fireworks: A little Unoriginal, but Visually Stunning (SPOILERS)

If the last few years have proved anything, it’s that Anime films have lots of potential outside of Studio Ghibli. There is, of course, Your Name, which took the anime community by storm. Then came A Silent Voice shortly after, a film which showed that Kyoto Animation was more than qualified to take up the task of talking about a serious issue: bullying. Even before 2016 though, directors like Mamoru Hosoda and Makoto Shinkai have been impressing, with amazing works such as The Girl Who Lept Through Time and 5 Centimeters Per Second, respectively.

More recently, directors Akiyuki Shinbō and Nobuyuki Takeuchi along with the rest of Studio Shaft decided to take up there own original IP: Fireworks. The movie initially had peeked many because the producer Genki Kawamura also worked on the 2016 hit Your Name. So, how did Fireworks turn out? Well, in a lot of ways, Fireworks is a lot like Your Name and The Girl Who Lept Through Time.

Fireworks.jpg
Left: Norimichi, Right: Nazuna

Fireworks centers around Norimichi, a middle school student, is living an average life. On the day of his town’s annual firework festival, his friend Yuusuke gets asked out by Nazuna, who Norimichi finds a strange attraction to. Things eventually get weirder as Norimichi travels through time and learns more and more about Nazuna.

While Your Name is still a great film it has a lot of problems. Its visuals are absolutely breathtaking, with Comix Waves putting every ounce of effort into making sure the animation looks visually stunning. However, as a result, the film’s story ends up being lackluster at best. A lot of the story is sort of left up for interpretation, and the hugeness of it all makes the characters seem unrelatable for a lot of the story. These same problems absolutely permeate Fireworks.

Norimichi

Norimichi, the movie’s main protagonist, never really comes into his own as a character, and neither does Nazuna. The two lead most of the story, yet the premise of the show does not give much reason to care about their relationship, other than that Nazuna is being forced to move out of the town due to her mom’s remarrying. Norimichi especially is really vanilla, and never makes it worth caring about the two’s relationship. All of the other side characters, including Yuusuke, are even less interesting, as they are mainly just used as plot inconveniences, instead of feeling like real people.

Despite its lackluster story, Firework’s visuals are absolutely fantastic. Studio Shaft and Akiyuki Shinbo brought there A game when it comes to the animation. The scenes with the time travel device especially make the whole movie worth watching. My favorite part would have to be near the end when the device shatters and Norimichi and Nazuna both get to see the different parts of their memory.

Fireworks is, unfortunately, pretty much the definition of mediocre. The story remains fairly stale and uninteresting, and its Sci-fi elements feel like they have been done before, mainly in films like Your Name. The movie is still worth seeing for sure, but if you were planning on buying a ticket to see it in a local theatre, I would wait.


How do you guys feel about Fireworks? Good? Bad? Let me know in the comments below. Also, if you want to support the Aniwriter through donations or are just feeling generous, consider buying me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Otherwise, thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

Fullmetal Alchemist Movie: Kind of a Mess

I have already talked previously on the Aniwiter about my expectations of this film, specifically the fact that the movie planned on using an all Japanese cast, and how I thought that was not reflective of story’s setting. However, even after I wrote that post I was still hopeful that the movie could at least have something about it that was worth watching. However, even going into the movie with lowered expectations, I still found a lot not to like about it.

The Fullmetal Alchemist movie uses the setup of the original story, focusing on Ed and Al, two brothers who, after trying to bring back their mom using a forbidden alchemic process known as Human Transmutation, lost their bodies as part of the experiment. Now, determined to find the key to solving their problems, the philosopher’s stone, Ed and Al continue their search.

One of the only parts of the movie that seemed like it was going be good were the effects, but sadly that ended up being one of the worst parts. The C.G. for most of the movie looks horribly integrated into the rest of the movie, to the point of looking at of place on any set they appeared on. Especially the monsters at the end, which might have honestly looked better if they had just used claymation.

The writing was another huge problem. For starters, Ed especially just seems to be completely different from his anime and manga counterparts. In the anime, one of Ed’s main appeals was his quick-wittedness, and how he was always one step ahead of almost everyone else, which kind of justified him being rude and obnoxious towards others. In the film, however, Ryosuke Yamada, who plays ed, makes him out to be more of a generic, straight shooter action hero, and that isn’t who Ed’s character really is. There are also problems with the fact that the studio chooses to condense what, between brotherhood and the original anime, were almost 20 episodes of content that were squeezed into two hours, like how many of the heartfelt moments of the original are entirely glossed over.

The movie’s music can mostly be described as unmemorable, as in I literally cannot, as I am writing this review, remember any individual track that played during it. Nothing was really noteworthy enough to stand out on its own, but it did do a good enough job of carrying the film to the end.

This review so far might give the impression that the Fullmetal Alchemist movie is bad. It is not, it is just extremely mediocre. The show does nothing to elevate the source material that it is borrowing from, and a lot of the time actively messes it up. Unfortunately, this movie just does not land the mark, and I can’t really recommend watching it.


What did you guys think of the Fullmetal Alchemist movie? Let me know in the comments. Also, if you like what you’re reading and want to support The Aniwriter, consider supporting the blog on Patreon. Even a dollar a month would help out. Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!

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Black Clover Episode 1 Reaction

After having watched the first episode of Black Clover, I can admit at least that I wasn’t entirely correct in dismissing the hype around the show. The criticism of Black Clover being similar in setup to Naruto is in some way merited, but I get the feeling this show will be able to escape that stigma around it.

As of right now; however, the show is very much caught up in those cliches. Asta and Yuno come off as Naruto and Sasuke clones but with magic, and even how they explain the main characters new found powers is the same. Naruto invoked the power of the nine tails, and Asta unlocks the five leave clover, and the fifth leaf represents a demon. Asta and Naruto are also both orphans that want to become the rulers of their respective kingdoms.

It is interesting to note that Black Clover seems a lot more concerned, at least as of the first episode, with the fact that Asta and Yuno both came out of poverty, and the idea that your beginnings don’t have to define who you are. If that is going to be a theme throughout the show, then it is wholly welcome. A show focusing on poverty and not held back by where you were born, in this case, a rural village, would be a great addition to shonen genre.

Of course, I couldn’t write this reaction without mentioning Asta’s voice actor. For whatever reason, the director of this show decided that Asta’s voice needed to be as annoying as possible, and he found Gakuto Kajiwara, who then internalized that request and gave us the ear scraping noise that is the main character’s voice. I can certainly understand why people would stop watching because of it. We’ll just have to wait and see if it improves, but as of right now, I think this comment on MyAnimeList perfectly summarizes my feelings.

Black Clover Comment

Overall, I’m still excited for this show. The animation looks comparable to other Pierrot productions, and the music that we did hear in this episode was, for lack of a better term, hype. I do hope that the show comes into its own more as time goes on because it would be a shame to see all this potential wasted.

First Impressions: Sound! Euphonium: My Favorite Character is Tuba-Kun

If nothing else, a show like sound euphonium is good for the inclusion of classical music in the soundtrack. Of course, that’s not the only good thing about the first three episodes, but its musical basis is certainly the most prominent feature of the show.

Sound! Euphonium focuses on a first year in high school named Kumiko. Kumiko chooses to go to her new high school to start fresh and to escape her old life, including her having played in concert band. She quickly changes her mind; however, when her newfound friends Hazuki and Kawashima decide that they are going to play in Kitauji High’s Concert Band, and she goes along with them. Kumiko is also reminded of her past when Kousaka, a girl that went to her middle school and played with her in band, also join the high school band.

After finishing a couple episodes of this show, I immediately drew comparisons with Your Lie in April, which aired a few seasons before this show. Certainly, Your Lie in April overshadowed this show a lot, as there really wasn’t a whole lot of discussion around Sound! Euphonium after it finished airing, but that isn’t because this is a bad show. Far from it.

Whereas Your Lie in April focused much more heavily on romance, so far, aside from the hinting at a possible relationship between Kumiko and Kousaka, the show mostly seems to be focusing on the band and its newfound drive to win the national competition, something that the two were never able to achieve in middle school.

And it seems like the show definitely wants to keep the focus on music. Much of what we know about the main and supporting characters so far is directly tied to their affiliation with band. Hazuki said that she was doing tennis before and that she wanted to try something different, and Kawashima was playing the contrabass at an all-girls academy. Kumiko has been playing the Euphonium ever since the 4th grade because of her sister, who seems somewhat distant towards Kumiko based on the first few episodes. I suspect something will happen with that later on.

It is, of course, important for a show focusing on music to have a good soundtrack, and in that regard the show does ok. The opening and ending are both j-pop infused with brass instruments and are pretty catchy, and the soundtrack so far has a calm, but determined atmosphere, much like the show.

I don’t have to say much about the animation and art style because this Kyoto animation and anything they touch looks like it was blessed by the gods and given to mortal men as a reward for their admiration.

I am very excited to watch this show because there are already a lot of good places it could go. I honestly wouldn’t mind if Kumiko x Kousaka became a thing, and it would be very interesting to explore the relationship Kumiko has with her sister. I’m already excited that it got a season two.

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.

 

 

 

Review- No Game No Life Light Novel Volume 1: The Start of a Fantastic Adventure

Despite a lackluster ending, the anime adaptation of No Game No Life has ended up as one of my favorite of all time. Maybe not my top ten, but definitely top twenty. It brought to life two of the most interesting main characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. When I started reading the light novels I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought, “Seems like it’ll be boring just reading what I’ve already watched.” However, I’m happy to say that the light novel proved me wrong in so many ways.

If you have seen the anime, then you already know the basic plot. Brother and sister Sora and Shiro, bored with the shitty game known as reality, one day receive an email from someone who claims to be able to be able to bring them to the world they will enjoy much more than their own. Upon responding to that email, Sora and Shiro find themselves falling out of the sky into a world that looks much different than the one they know. They find as they’re falling through the sky from the god of this new world Tet that their perfect world is right in front of them, known as Disboard. With a brief nap after literally falling into Disboard, the two awake and begin their journey.

One of the things that makes the light novel much more interesting than the anime, as I’ve talked about before in a previous post, is the amount of detail we get about both Sora and Shiro and the world of Disboard. Some of the appeal of No Game No life is lost in the lack of detail that the show presents, leaving out important descriptions about details about Sora and Shiro’s past. As screen time isn’t an issue in a light novel, the book gives a much more vivid description of the world and the reasons that Sora and Shiro are so perfect for Disboard.

Another thing that the book did well was portraying Sora and Shiro amazement of the world. A lot of the appeal of the show comes from the fact that we as the audience know that brother and sister Combo Blank are doing what they are for fun. If they weren’t bored of the world they were in, then they wouldn’t have half-jokingly agreed to come to Disboard. This can be seen in the descriptions of their reactions, with the middle of the first chapter describing a scene in which Sora reads over the rules of the world and then smirks after he reads the tenth rule, which is “Let’s all have fun together.” While Sora and Shiro are competitive, they play games for the reason everyone plays games. The smirk shows that Shiro is enjoying himself.

The only real problem I have with the story is the comedy. The show has a much better sense of comedic timing than the light novel, but I think that has more to do with the fact that reading the joke means that the comedic timing is going to be different for everyone because everyone reads at a different pace. I also don’t blame the light novel for this as much because my sense of grammar and syntax isn’t exactly the best.

The writing overall is fantastic. It’s descriptive, and Yuu Kamiya knows how to write characters that are both eccentric and loveable. If you’ve watched the series but haven’t read the light novel yet, then you should. It will make you fall in love with the world of No Game No Life all over again, and the light novels actually go past the series so the story will finish.

What Do Classroom of the Elite And GAMERS! Have In Common? Disappointment.(SPOILERS)

After watching episode five of both Classroom of the Elite and GAMERS!, I’ve noticed that both of the shows seem to be going downhill. I’m honestly not sure whether this is because of the source material, or because of the lack of directorial and writing skill, but either way its really not looking good for either of these shows.

Of the two, GAMERS! was the one who’s decline I was expecting. It had a strong episode one, and an interesting plot twist, but as I’ve pointed out on this blog before that twist really didn’t amount to much. Looking back, the show honestly might have been better if it had stuck to the plot it was setting up. At least, in that case, it would have been campy and fun.

Now, However, GAMERS! is nothing more than a mediocre Rom-Com. Its main appeal has become the intertwining relationships between Amano and the others. The problem with this is that in only five episodes, I haven’t had enough time to care. None of these characters have been on screen for long enough or been interesting enough for me to want to know who is going to end up with who.

I’m a bit more sad about Classroom of the Elite. It had an interesting premise about being locked in a school in which everyone thinks that they’re being treated like royalty when in fact they just being tested. When everyone realized that they had just made themselves poor by spending all their points, that’s when the show good have gone a thousand different routes. But, of course, the show has chosen to take the least interesting route.

So far, the show has tried to do everything while accomplishing nothing. It has meandered around, following a character story about Sudo that is not that interesting. The reason why they’re doing it makes sense within the context of the show, but it still isn’t as interesting as the writers would like to think it is.

It really is a shame that both of these shows look like they’re going to end up among the boring drivel of the rest of the season. They started out very well, but I can’t see a good ending with the directions they’ve decided to take. I hope I’m proven wrong within the coming weeks, but it doesn’t look like that will happen.

 

 

Shin Sekai Yori(From the New World): My Thoughts So Far(SPOILERS)

As long as I have been watching anime, about five years now that is, I can honestly say that shows like Shin Sekai Yori do not come along often. It is a show that not only presents a fascinating world, but also one with some very interesting ideas.

One of the things that stands out the most to me is the plot point that everyone in the society that Saki and the others lived in is made up entirely of Psycho-kinetics. Being able to control things with your mind isn’t an especially new idea, but when given to an entire population there can be serious repercussions, and the show presents that well. It portrays an extremely authoritarian society that gives the kids very little freedom when it comes to using there powers.

Speaking of that authoritarian society, the way they show it is both subtle but effective. In the first episode or so, The kids in the class are asked to read two different stories: one of an ogre, and one of a karmic demon. Saki and the others later find out on trip to into the woods that both of these stories come from illnesses that affect Psychokinesis users, but the only reason they find out this information is because of a wandering library that they weren’t supposed to find out about. We can assume based off of these scenes that this is a very restricted environment.

One of the other curious things that kept coming up in the first episode was the idea that now that the kids are the Unified school that they are now considered adults, even though they are 12 years old when the story starts out.

There is also the not very well addressed(so far, anyway)disappearance of two different students after not using their powers correctly. It seems to me that much like My Hero Academia, the powers that be are much more concerned with preserving peace and order than they are helping any individual, even to the point of making them disappear if they threaten that order.

If this seems a little incoherent, then no its not you. The show looks like it has so many things that it wants to do and say, and it hasn’t gotten the chance to do and say them yet. My recommendation, based on six episodes, is to give it a chance if you’ve been skeptical. There’s so much going on, but not in the sense that the show has no direction. Certainly, Shin Sekai Yori is a great work of art so far.