Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – The show that crapped on on everything good, especially the previous season.

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Above is a photo of Azazel from Genesis. He is not amused by the shit that went down in VS. In fact, no one is. Or at least, not people who actually think character development and plot coherency matter in a series. I’ve read a few other reviews now that the show is over and basically it boils down to (most, not all) fans feeling betrayed, depressed, disappointed, angry and annoyed at what happened in the second cour. For those who don’t like my generally rambling bitchings about what happened to this show, please feel free to read these two reviews that do a better job of it.  FYI, spoilers ahead.

So, what happened since I last wrote about it? Basically, I was right. And I HATE IT when I’m right when it comes to anime shows because that means there’s some sloppy ass writing going on. One thing I’ve always loved about anime is how it can surprise me. Sometimes I think I’ll know where a show is going and then it surprises me in some way to take a different course that I’d not considered before. I won’t say it always ends up being for the better or even a good ending, but at least it gives me something to think about in how it differs from what I predicted might happen. But with VS, although I didn’t write any of it down here, I predicted practically every single scene that happened in the last three episodes and that pisses me off because what I predicted was the worst possible way the show could end, destroying all aspects of it ever having a chance at being good.

In my last review I wrote: “Could [Charioce] have been making Dromos deliberately to ensure that Bahamut is without-a-doubt destroyed? If so, then that is one super shitty plot line.” That is exactly what happened. And my total rant about how awful that is and demeans everything else this season and the last season have built up was validated.

After the fall of Bahamut in Genesis, an Orleans Knight, who would become leader of the Onxy Knights (who was never given a name), found Martinet’s writings [Martinet was mastermind villain in Genesis] and realized there was a way to completely and utterly destroy Bahamut – probably.  The King’s court then decided they needed a BAMF to take charge after the last weak-sauce King’s reign so they took orphaned bastard child Chris and made him Charioce,  The Genocidal Asshat. Charioce takes technology supposedly learned from Martinet’s writings (this is never explicitly stated or made clear how the hell they got the green magic crystal things because that was necessary to beat the shit out of the angels/demons first) and sacks the angel headquarters for more of the green powerful stuff. I’m assuming the only reason why he sacked the demon base was to use the demons as slave labor to create Dromos and build up the capital’s economy. All the while, the court takes note of some rift of sorts in Eibos where Bahamut supposedly died or was contained in Genesis. Therefore, time was of the essence and the past few years were a race against Bahamut’s re-awakening during the making of Dromos, aka hand-puppet-death-star.

Favaro pretty much explains Charioce is more of of a victim than a villain to make Nina feel better about not having the guts to kill her precious Chris. In doing so, the show basically neuters Favaro’s character entirely from what he was in Genesis and somehow justifies the King’s rather racist and violent means-to-an-end. It’s literally one of those sacrifice the few (angels and demons mostly) to save the greater good (humans, mostly). Charioce releases Bahamut from Eibos and somehow leads the dragon of all world destruction to the capital where Dromos is waiting, because, you know, of course Bahamut is going to follow Charioce even though it singed the shit out of Beelzebub in Genesis when trying to be controlled. [Reminder: any sort of plot logic and consistency is null and void in VS.]

Angry parents Jeanne and Azazel take their revenge war to the capital and realize the King isn’t even there. Alessand is killed in a very dramatic and drawn-out scene by some random demon child. If Alessand had been built up to be more of a villain beforehand, then this scene would’ve been fantastic and moving. However, the show spent zero time on make Alessand into a character worth two shits, so his death just wasted 10 minutes out of an episode. Kaisar tries to stop the revenge war, but is ignored, as usual. It’s not until Jeanne and Azazel are about to put the smack-down on Charioce together that Kaisar acts and finally chooses a side – and it’s the wrong one because HE DIES. Yep, another wonderful character from Genesis, who showed some decent growth in the first half of VS, also had his balls chopped off by the end of this season. Rita’s concern for him was great, but the scene just had zero impact on me because I saw it coming as well. AND I dreaded seeing him return – as a zombie bitten by Rita – at the very end.

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Azazel’s reaction here mirrors mine in how fucking shitty this all turned out. I loved Kaisar from the beginning and I did rather like the dynamic he had going on with Rita, but to make them zombies together by the end? UUUUGGGGHHHH. No… just…. NO.

So while Kaisar is dying, Jeanne and Azazel pretty much stand still since they are technically the ones who killed Kaisar as he jumped in front of Charioce to save his life. They stay frozen like that with pained expressions doing nothing until the end while Charioce uses Dromos to kill of Bahamut and fulfill his destiny. He declares that if he survives, they can do with his life as they see fit.

So… where the fuck is Nina in all of this? You know, the so-called protagonist of this season? Oh right, she’s just watching everything and when she sees her precious Chris go sacrifice himself to use Dromos she flees to his side. Favaro of course gave her a pep talk first because he sacrificed his beloved Amira in Genesis and he doesn’t want her to make the same mistake he did. He tells her: CHOOSE YOUR WAR MONGERING LOVER OVER THE FATE OF THE WORLD. And so she does. And supposedly there is some romantic parallel between Amira/Favaro and Nina/Chris but damned be if I can actually give a fuck about it because it’s so horribly written. Anyhow, Nina uses Dromos with Charioce and kills Bahamut in one blast. Considering both Bahamut and Dromos are considered world-obliterating things I’m hard pressed to think that either is that powerful based on what I saw. Bahamut seems to have been neutered power-wise this season compared to Genesis.

In the end, Charioce is justified and allowed to live although he’s now completely blind. Nina lost her voice in the battle so even though both of them have suffered for their love together, they still get it and even get to dance one last time because dancing is everything. Jeanne lives with the gods and mourns her dead, pointless plot point, El/Mugaro. Azazel is seen with her and then wanders off and no one knows where he went. Favaro continues on with his dickless self to seek other adventures he’ll never follow through on because he’s a sentimental old man now. Rita gets to take care of zombie Kaisar and the enslaved demons are now getting paid by the humans for their labor – yay?

Oh and guess what? Bahamut didn’t really die. Dun…. dun….DUUUUUUUNNNN! Not as if anyone gives a fuck at this point.

I’ve felt this for a long time and read a lot of people say the same thing: this show feels like it was written by two different people. One person wrote the first cour with fantastic character development and a cohesive plot line that gave greater meaning to the events of Genesis. The next person wrote the second cour and that person took a shit and smeared it over everything that had happened before and all over Genesis. The second writer destroyed character credibility, muddled plot information, and wrote an ending that they wanted (hint: it’s a shitty romance!), completely disregarding everything else and only suiting the plot to that end game.

Here’s my extra two cents on how the second cour should’ve been played out or at least made tolerable- in case anyone is still reading this:

  • Just keep Charioce as a one-sided villain. Fuck any sort of redemption or reasons for his need to kill angels and enslave demons. Make the fucker evil for evil’s sake – even if the source of it was his boring mother’s death. Make him egotistical and power hungry to the very end. Use Bahamut’s destruction in Genesis as a motivator for his need to control everything.
  • Kill the Charioce/Nina romance. Sure, let her fall for him at first, but then when she sees what he’s really like – open her eyes. Even if she doesn’t end up with anyone at the end that’s fine. Let him be an asshole that let her on and then spat in her face to show how people can be two-sided when they want to be. Better to have the experience under her belt for dealing with people in the future and better evaluating them.
  • 86 Dromos. The death star is not needed. Let Bahamut come back via Charioce’s need to control everything and have it bite him in the ass. I realize this is just a rehashing of Beelzebub from Genesis, but I still think this would play out better than the shit storm that actually happened.
  • The heroes of VS would be Azazel and Jeanne. Nina was pretty much pointless entirely. Based on how well written the first cour was of the show, these two characters (and Mugaro) deserve much better. Let the three of them fight off Charioce’s genocidal war together.

Pat yourself on the back for reading this far. I’m done with this shitshow and now ready to dive into better worlds, mostly The Ancient Magus’s Bride.

Re: CREATORS – best show of the season?

I’m shelving my eye rolling anger at Shingeki no Bahamut Virgin Soul for now and reviewing a show that completely shocked me, re:CREATORS. Warning: light spoilers. I tried really hard not to throw many in here.

The first episode of this show was a total WHUT? Mostly due to this:

Altair

That is a long-haired loli-looking girl in a military outfit using a sword to play a machine gun like a violin, which in turn creates a massive destructive force for defeating her enemies. I’ll just let that statement sink in for a minute…. Yeah. One wonders if there was a hat with crazy ideas written in it and the producers said, “Well… this is what we have to work with, so…” However, for as utterly ridiculous as all that sounds and looks – this show is one of the most well-constructed and thought provoking shows of the spring/summer seasons. Many people dismissed the show after seeing the above scene play out because it was so lol-worthy and asinine that it couldn’t be taken seriously. Once you got past the silliness exhibited in the first episode, which is completely deliberate btw, the show slowly reveals why she is this way.

Summary: In modern day Tokyo, very popular characters from anime, manga, light novels, and games of all sorts are popping into existence. These characters still retain their make-believe world powers while in the real world and are confused and confuse others because no one expects anyone to be as clueless about real life as these characters are. In fact, many bystanders just see these loonies as hardcore cosplayers until magical sword fights, flying horses, and WMDs start shooting off everywhere causing real destruction. Enter Sota, the main protag, who comes into contact with these Creations (as they end up being called) first. He’s tasked with having to explain that the Creations aren’t in their world anymore, but in his world – the real world – and that his world is the one that created theirs. The Creators of the Creations live in this real world and are thereby seen as gods by the Creations. And guess what? Most of the Creations are a little less than awed by their gods. In fact, most of them admit that their gods suck and the land of the gods is rather pathetic. As more Creations pop into existence due to electro-magnetic anomalies the Japanese military picks up on, the more Creations want to find their Creators and brow beat them for putting them into horrible worlds. Not all of them are so bad off, but many come from gritty, crime-ridden places or horrific war zones where death is everywhere. To see the world of the gods is rather…. boring by comparison makes the Creations rather bitter. While Sota is not a Creator per se, he’s familiar with enough of the Creations so he helps guide them to their Creators and helps the government figure out how to get these looney toons back to their own worlds. Not all of the Creations are so peaceful though and some deliberately kill their Creators and side up with Uniformed Military Girl (Altair) in the above photo. She’s recruiting the Creations that pop up in order to cause the created worlds to collide with the reality of the real world in order to destroy it.

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So the basic plot involves the Creations fighting each other in order to save/destroy the world of the Creators, depending on what side they are on. It’s basic enough, but the real meat of this whole show is how self-aware it becomes with the roles of all the characters.

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This show blends together almost every major type of genre and medium: magical girl icons, shonen heroes, anti-heroes, anime mecha warriors, fantasy heroines, magicians, gun-slingers and even a school girl from a dating sims game who is known for more hentai (soft porn) proclivities. All of these totally random but highly popular characters are thrown together or against each other in ways that don’t belittle or demean their genres in their own worlds. This is where the writing really shines in the show. It brings its own contradictions and then does what every human does with those contradictions- accept them or ignore them by choice. Some of the Creators state point-blank how utterly annoying their Creations are to deal with now they are flesh and blood. As Creations fight each other, they call each other out on their core values when some fight to kill, knowing it goes against their pre-ordained ideals. While some Creations come to terms with their Creators and accept that this is simply how they were written, others end up in denial or challenge their Creators. The show embraces each and every one of these Creations as being important parts of society because of the general populace need for personal relevance through them. It’s saying: there’s always going to be someone to identify/want/need this type so here it is.

The Creations then have to deal with people actually knowing more about them than they know about themselves. Their deepest, darkest secrets aren’t secret at all. This causes the Creations to question their motives, question their Creators for making them that way, and question their own existence. As a result, the Creations change mentally and emotionally when they reach the real world, which is also directly addressed in the show. The psychological trauma is real for some Creations when faced with the fact they are merely play things and entertainment most of the time in the world of the gods. All characters are highly self-aware. The Creators suddenly have to take responsibility for their Creations and learn more about themselves through watching their “children”. Watching how Creations deal with the real world and their Creators – or refuse to – is what makes this show so fascinating and fun to watch.

Yuya

Aside from the Creations having tremendous hurdles to deal with in the land of the gods, the gods themselves are given respectful treatment by the show. As Creators, the gods are just as varied as the creations. Most of the time, men created strong female Creations and women created strong male Creations, which I found highly fascinating. Also, the Creations are typically good looking, well-balanced and athletic people whereas the Creators range from middle-aged balding men, to overweight dad-bod types, to androgynous tomboy women, to the typical glasses-wearing geek girls. This brings home the idea that here is the reality. The Creators are just as broken, weird, and different as their stories.

magical girl

There is a strong parental sense of duty with the Creators accepting their unruly Creations come to life, but they themselves also deal with personal demons. Many feel jealousy or competition with each other and they even call each other out on who has “made it” and gets properly paid as a “professional” versus those who struggle to keep their hobby going. Not all of the Creators are popular nor are treated as truly professional people for their crafts. This also shows in the style of characters they create, so when their Creations come face to face with them, it’s more showing than telling about the types of people the Creators truly are. Their inner selves are in some cases, literally personified in front of them.

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In the end, everything boils down to one thing: acceptance. If the masses accept the Creations then those creations win out in the end and save the world from Altair’s destructive goals. How the show does this is highly creative: it creates a show where ALL of the Creations in their varied genres battle together to save the world. There is proper government organization set up of the production agencies for the Creations to be pulled from their respective story lines via spin-off stories into a real-life battle royale arena and and the finale is a true “live-action” show of the battle the audience rates. The ending is a truly heart-felt confrontation of what happens when people self-destruct. Altair, a Creation born of that self-destruction, gets a chance to confront her Creator in an amazingly clever manner. The show doesn’t pull any cheap tricks or cop-outs, but rather uses it’s own devices to flip an outcome all the while saying: Well, this happens in the stories we write all the time, so here it is – and we’re showing it to you.

It’s extremely hard for me to write more about this without giving away heavy spoilers. Sorry if it’s been a bit too vague, but all I can say is despite the crazy machine-gun violins, this show is totally worth watching.

 

 

SnB:VS Episode 21: S*** finally gets real

Alessand

As usual, there will be spoilers.

So where do I begin? Episode summary or just dive head first into Nina haterade?

I’ll try and go through the episode as shit hit the fan and kept coming at it the whole time.

First: Alessand officially killed Mugaro. Afterwards, we see Alessand go back to the Onyx Knight leader and he shows his bloodied knife, saying he’s killed the holy child. He now wants to be an Onyx Knight as his reward. He finds out it’s gruesome and unglamorous and Alessand says thanks, but no thanks. Disillusioned and dealing with the death of a child on his hands, he breaks down. Alessand is a character to be pitied, but he’s been such a doorstop the whole time it’s hard to really care about him at all. His bit parts the entire series have felt more or less like throw-away scenes with little value. Now all of a sudden we’re supposed to take him seriously as a secondary villain in the making after 20 episodes of him just being a whiney little bitch?

Second, Azazel confronts Lucifer (FINALLY LUCI IS ON SCREEN!) and says now is the time to act and declare war.  While this scene was good because two hot and hot-headed demons were bickering like a married couple, it did feel a little wasted. It’s known that Azazel stormed off from the demon hideout way back when to go save the demons Charioce enslaved. His sense of duty towards his people has always been fierce and making Charioce/ humans who abuse demons pay for it was always his objective. Unfortunately, like many other instances in this series, this is another missed opportunity case. Had the struggle to show Azazel’s determination to free the demon slaves been a relatively constant subplot of the show, this meeting with Lucifer would’ve held a lot more weight. Lucifer wanted nothing to do with human battles after Charioce nearly decimated their race and would rather hide under a rock to ensure his survival than fight. With Azazel finally showing up to say this is go time, why couldn’t we have had a little more backstory on Lucifer’s reluctance and need to see Azazel prove himself capable of leading a successful battle before now? For as much as I loved the interaction between these two bishonen, I have to admit that it felt tacked on.

Third, Jeanne gets pissed off enough to go to Gabriel and say: bitch, my son is dead and I’m in charge and WAR!!! NOW!!! And then Gabriel gives her cryptic smile and Sophiel fuses herself with Jeanne to make her super human powerful and god-like aka SnB: Genesis. WHUT? She’s allowed to have her powers back? Doesn’t that make Mugaro kinda…. pointless if his mom was always capable of being the BAMF She-Ra she was in Genesis? I felt gutted when I saw that scene because it really just made me feel like Mugaro, who was by far one of the absolute best characters of the whole second series with an intriguing story arc, completely superfluous. If the angels can just Power Ranger up any old human why the fuck was Mugaro even necessary to their cause in the first cour?! This scene too felt tacked on and completely undermined the importance of Mugaro’s character.

Fourth, Kaisar and Dias are the only ones who realize Alessand killed Mugaro for his own personal gain and not any real direct order from Charioce.  Therefore, Azazel and Jeanne’s upcoming war is based on misplaced anger. That’s not stated, but implied by the meeting. It could also be a red herring because there seem to be a lot of those in this series. Considering Charioce did order Mugaro’s death earlier, he’s still no more or less culpable of the kid’s death. Alessand simply did him an indirect favor. Also, Kaisar finds out Charioce is in Abos/Eibos (it was Abos in Genesis, but it seems to have been turned into Eibos in Virgin Soul). So all the heroes except the two war lords (Azazel and Jeanne) know where Charioce is hanging out. This seems to be setting up the cast for a two-field battle ground: one in Anatae with the demon and angel armies against the humans and one in Eibos with Nina against Charioce.

Lastly, Nina finally acts a little like she could be an actual protagonist in this series.  Favaro, ever the acutely aware teacher/dad, checks on a grieving Nina and finally sees some resolve on her face as she declares that no matter what she will stop Charioce. It’s implied that she’ll kill him if she has to, but never explicitly stated. None fucks were given about her resolution because… say it with me… too little too late to give a shit.

While watching Virgin Soul I re-watched Genesis and apparently Eibos was the last place where Bahamut was held until it broke free, nearly destroyed the world, and was fought back into submission/sorta death. Charioce visiting Eibos has been mentioned in passing a couple times, so I’m guessing this will eventually have something to do with Bahamut? Maybe? Red herring? Could he have been making Dromos deliberately to ensure that Bahamut is without-a-doubt destroyed? If so, then that is one super shitty plot line. Conjecture: That would make him a misunderstood anti-hero who ultimately would have the preservation of the human species as his end game and purpose. The motivation behind that purpose was most likely the death of his mother. Had humans exerted more power earlier on, then she wouldn’t have had to die, therefore his genocide against the demons and angels to gain their powers to create Dromos would make him justified. I have a very strange feeling this is where the show is head, but I could be wrong. If I am correct, then Charioce will be propped up to bad, but not-so-bad villain. It would also explain a lot about his character. I have a very bad feeling that his backstory in all this will be told via some flashback that’ll take up the majority of the finale and end with him and Nina working together. Shall I place bets with myself now?

Killing off a major character for the sake of a good narrative and move the remaining characters into action has been done plenty of times before. Mugaro’s death was the catalyst for the cast to actually get back to the plot. It was also the catalyst in turning Nina into a valuable player – I think. That’s still… TBD. Unfortunately, since the characters weren’t moving towards much of a plot to begin with, the little tyke’s death just seems plain sad and not really thought out at all by the producers.

This episode upped it’s game visually. Many characters were given gorgeous moments with beautiful lighting and details. The slow-motion scenes of Rita trying to save Mugaro while all characters were shown in states of shock, anger and grief, accompanied by a choral hymn were beautiful. It was meant to have a powerful, dream-like emotional punch and it succeeded there. The detailed emphasis on all the major players afterwards visually was quite a delicious spectacle. But I can’t help but feel half of it was wasted due to the plot going to shit in such a way.

No one still has any fucking clue what Charioce is up to or why. What I wrote above is, as stated, conjecture. Three episodes left and I kinda feel like the plot rolls with whatever magic 8-ball MAPPA is using right now.

 

 

SnB:VS Episode 20 – poor Mugaro

Mugaro

Spoilers ahead.

I’ve kinda given up on SnBVS actually adhering to some sort of plot now. It started out with an end point, but the train derailed and despite its determination to get somewhere, no one on board has any clue where that end point exists.  Weird things keep happening that are very much too-little-too-late in the gives-a-shit category.

Heart-broken Nina, after flubbing up the mission because she preferred to dance, runs away from the castle and ends up in a one on one battle with another dragon. WHUT? The head Onyx Knight hired a full-fledged dragon-folk guy who is a purist and hates half breeds (insert Hogwarts Slytherin references here, it’s same sort of prejudice). He and Nina go full-dragon mode to fight it out and Nina gets her ass handed to her.

What’s incredible about this scene is how pointless it was from the beginning. This is also an incredible missed opportunity for character development Nina needed over ten episodes ago. Having Nina face off against one of her own kind earlier would’ve been an amazing way to open up her eyes about the world around her and maybe be more invested in what her friends are fighting for, but that didn’t happen. After her short-lived battle, she ends up knocked down and it’s not the hunter who deals the final blow – it’s the Onyx Knight when he reveals that Charioce ordered her to be killed. Fuck the fact that she’s fighting another dragon! Fuck the fact that her life is in danger! Her defeat was more emotional than physical and while some would say that’s significant, it makes me laugh because that alone rendered the whole 2 minute battle sequence with the dragon hunter completely irrelevant and unnecessary. Want to take Nina down? Tell her Charioce hates her. Boom. Destroyed.

Back at home base, Mugaro throws a tantrum about not wanting to go back to Heaven. The reunion scene ended up being glossed over with only Jeanne thanking Azazel for taking care of Mugaro. Mom’s back to take custody and go home with El. K. Thnx. Bye.  However, Mugaro’s superiority complex (courtesy of Gabriel) hadn’t entirely abated. While this scene gave Bacchus a shining moment as he called out Mugaro on his ego, this scene still felt a bit pointless. The angels know about Dromos (hand puppet death star) and how it can destroy the world. So…. why do they want to take back the super power kid who has the best chance out of any of defeating it back to Heaven? Oh, right, Gabriel is too depressed up in Heaven and needs everyone to go back to her. That’s at least the only reason I can think of why there was even an argument about going back to Heaven. I think Bacchus’s comment was good in knocking Mugaro down a peg and putting his existence into perspective, but shit, the kid wants to fight and may be very necessary in helping to save the world!  In any case, Mugaro realizes he’s not the world savior he thought he was and then goes to say his goodbyes.

Cut to scene with Nina having a temper tantrum over Charioce, because nothing else matters to her and she’s still as irrelevant to the story as ever. She was given a very small bit of characterization as she attempts to hide her tears and puts on a cheery face in front of Mugaro, knowing he’s going away. Seriously MAPPA, more little scenes like this would’ve made Nina much more tolerable up to this point. I know I’ve said this so many times, but I just DGAF about her or Charioce. Burn ’em both.

I really hope this is the final straw for Charioce being an actual villain, but part of me thinks it’s all set up for him to be the fall-guy. He never explicitly said to kill the red dragon, but his non-committal response could be construed as him being just as guilty of it.

Mugaro’s goodbye scene with Azazel was as emotional as their meeting again and that along with Bacchus’s comments were the best scenes of the whole episode. Actually both scenes were throw-away scenes now that I think about it because it’s all about going back to Heaven for some unknown reason that most likely has zero affect on the plot. That, in turn, makes this generally a filler episode from beginning to end – IF the plot made sense, but it doesn’t.

Post credit major spoiler: Alessand, who was hiding out in the slums because everyone had forgotten about him, gets Mugaro alone and stabs the kid in the stomach. I’m guessing he did this to prove himself after being turned down from the Onyx Knights. He was a cardboard cut-out character from the beginning and him doing this NOW also feels like a missed opportunity for character development that would’ve made him more tolerable much earlier in the series. I can understand the importance of offing (or attempting to kill) Mugaro at this point just before the final arc push. Downing a major power player is always a setback. However, the way it was done feels like a shock-value afterthought on the part of MAPPA. Once again, post credit action/revelations that last all of 20 seconds trump the entire episode’s worth of…. whatever the hell it was….

This was another episode that packed a punch on an emotional front, but seemed to fall flat on action. While I applauded the show in the beginning for putting more weight into the characters over Genesis, I’m starting to feel conflicted due to how badly this series has mucked up. Some characters are given incredible moments to shine and fill out, while others, who badly needed more moments and backstory, aren’t given anything at all. So the idea that Virgin Soul is more character based doesn’t entirely hold up anymore. The first cour seemed to really balance out the character narratives with a plot line, but the second cour has thrown all of that out the window. Neither the character moments nor the action seem in sync now. As a viewer I don’t care as much about the action because I have no reason to care about the characters participating in it. Also, any action that seems significant, ends up being irrelevant and a waste of time.

Nina is supposed to be the one I root for the most and she’s the character I care least about. I understand that in life-threatening or world-threatening situations the characters can’t entirely relate nor care about why they should be saving the world. It’s a character crisis that many protagonists go through and when they conquer their afflictions to gain a greater sense of the big picture and how they fit in it – it becomes a vital part of why they end up being the protagonist to root for in the end. I know Nina’s emotional turmoil is meant to bring her to a greater understanding of herself and the world around her. Yes, even something as simple as a broken heart can do that to a good protagonist. However, it’s not working this time at all. Her lack of self-reflection has been to her detriment as a character I care about. Favaro seems to be the only one who gets it – she needs to work past her emotions to reach the other side. To the show’s credit, his attention to her has been touching and lets the viewers know, ok she’s really not that naive. But it’s only been through his attention and guidance of her that the viewer even has a hint she’s got a brain! There’s a major problem when other characters have to be so verbal in foreshadowing to relay the emotional journey of a character we, as viewers, should already know that about.

There are 4 more episodes for Nina to get over it and actually do something real as a protagonist as well as find the plot and stick to it. My favorites: Favaro, Kaisar, Azazel, Jeanne, Bacchus, Rita, and Mugaro have been stuck in the mud, spinning their wheels for far too long.

Anime: Favorite Male characters

After reading some anime review blogs I was thinking about what makes me like certain characters and not others. I clearly have a “type” and can be biased towards it. So I’m going to spell it out here – literally. I won’t do show synopsis but assume most readers have heard of/ seen/ know what the shows are about. For those who read this blog for the outfits/fashion stuff – feel free to skip this. These are just my musings on why I like these guys. Some spoilers for shows/characters.

These are in no order. They are all equally awesome.

Darker-than-black-hei

Darker Than Black – Hei. He also goes by BK201, The Black Reaper and Li Shengshun. He’s got a lot of names, but that’s because he’s an agent who works undercover for the Syndicate. He’s the only contractor who doesn’t have to pay a price for using his powers and regardless of how stoic he may seem to others, he is actually a moody bitch.

Throughout season 1 the viewer figures out why he’s so moody and what’s bugging him about his past. He does make practical and rational choices, but there are moments where he does waver and seem vulnerable. For a character who really doesn’t talk all that much, that’s impressive. What I think intrigues me most is what happens after he finds out what happened to him and the people he cared about. I know a lot of fans hate season 2 because Hei isn’t the primary protagonist and it goes completely off the rails from season 1, but I find his emotional and psychological unraveling rather fascinating. I originally hated season 2 as well, but after several more viewings, I now see a more coherent narrative if you follow Hei’s mental state throughout.

Captain_harlock

Space Pirate Captain Harlock. He is my first anime husbando and love. When I was in middle school this wacky cartoon called Space Pirate Captain Harlock and the Queen of 1000 Years aired in the afternoon on weekdays. I’d race home (latch-key kid who walked to and from school) after the bell to catch the next episode of… I don’t know what. I never understood what the hell was happening with the show at the time (mostly because it was a bastardized version of two Japanese shows with no coherent plot), but I knew that I loved Harlock.

Captain Harlock was a rebel, cool and OMG he’s a pirate flying a ship in space! He disobeyed laws and rules (I could so relate) and he helped those in need and barely spoke, but he didn’t need to because his actions spoke volumes more than words.

This was also my very first anime, but it wasn’t called anime at the time. It was just known as that weird cartoon that hardly anyone watched or remembered in the mid 80s.

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D. Gray Man – Kanda Yuu. No offense to Allen Walker, who is amazing and I absolutely adore as a protagonist, but Kanda totally stole my heart. I tend to like a little tsundere in my guys because Kanda’s got it in spades. He’s also a moody bitch and I’m a total sucker for that type.

I’m more of a serious type and I think that’s why I gravitate towards characters with a serious side/ chip on their shoulder. Kanda doesn’t really joke around much, and he can pitch a fit when made the butt of jokes, but he’s still able to smile and laugh and all the same.

His arc in D. Gray Man: Hallow was one I’d been waiting to see animated for a long time. It’s full of Kanda’s past and how he became the moody, stoic pouty-faced lovable dork I adore. His story, aside from Crowley’s, is quite possibly the most mature and sensual of all the other backstories to date in the series. It’s utterly heart breaking to see everything he worked for and the reason for his being shatter in front of him, essentially leaving him with no reason to continue. However, he strong sense of duty overcomes that and he moves on.

I love the manga and really hope Hoshino sensei does finish it.

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Fullmetal Alchemist – Colonel Roy Mustang. Mustang, also known as the Flame Alchemist, is another shattered man. He’s a decorated war hero, but he doesn’t feel like one because genocide is not a good way to become a hero. And yet, he’s damn good at it. He doesn’t deny his past, but uses it as a means of motivation to push forward and become a leader he feels Amestris needs. (*Cough Mappa THIS is how you make a troubled character who has killed countless people in the name of a cause a good guy, he’s got a BACK STORY people care about and shows remorse and understanding of his faults – Charioce needs to take lessons cough*)

Mustang is another side character because the main protagonists of FMA are Edward and Alphonse Elric. I love the boys, but once again the moody, raw and real emotions of Mustang really tickled my fancy. Also, the unspoken “relationship” he has with First Lieutenant Riza Hawkeye make every scene with him a treat. They aren’t allowed to be together due to the difference in their rankings and it’s not even explicitly stated they love one another, but it’s understood throughout the series and their unwavering devotion to helping each other mentally, physically and emotionally makes them my favorite OTP.  Mutang’s stubborn ego gets smacked down constantly by other characters, which makes him moody and a fun punching bag for gags.

Sebastian-Michaelis

Kuroshitsuji [Black Butler] – Sebastian Michaelis. He’s one helluva anti-hero. When Toboso sensei started writing the manga, she specifically wanted to create a character who was not a “good guy” in the traditional sense. Sebastian is a demon who kills and eats souls. That is not a good guy. He apparently got tired of just eating any old boring soul and decided to find ones he could cultivate into delicious meals worthy of kings that would sate his demon hunger for a long time. As a result, he enters into a contract with a spoiled, rich child whose ego tickled Sebby-chan’s fancy.

It’s only in the context of his relationship with Ciel Phantomhive that Sebastian is seen as a protagonist – and even then only by a hair. Neither of them are good people. Ciel’s hellbent revenge goals are just as ruthless as Sebastian randomly killing souls to begin with.

I love Sebby-chan’s sense of humor about it all. He’s amusing himself and biding his time with a short-lived human for the sake of a good meal and some entertainment. Although he is technically a bad guy in good guy’s clothing, his brutal honesty in dealing with nonsensical and irrational antagonists make him fascinating and quite logical. He’s very practical and speaks with common sense most of the time, which pushes him more in the good guy zone, despite the fact that he’s still murdering people. Dark much? Yes, please.

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Durarara!!! – Shizuo Heiwajima. After the first time I watched Durarara I thought: What mind fuckery is this!? It is seriously one of the most confusing and weird shows in anime. I’ve seen seen several others since then to make Drrr look tame (Monogatari series), but I still feel I need to watch it about five more times before I get all of it. It is not a series for an anime newbie.

Out of a sprawling, confusing mess of a show with around 30 characters the one that stood out for me was The Strongest Man in all of Ikebukuro: Shizuo Heiwajima. That’s his “street” title because he is incredibly strong. He can fight tons of people at the same time, punches people so hard they fly out of their clothes, has a penchant for throwing vending machines, uses sign posts as baseball bats and scares the crap out of most other characters in the series. That sounds like a violent, crazy character that’s not easy to love, but that’s just it – Shizuo hates violence. In general, he doesn’t like to fight and generally refrains from getting himself into situations where he has to fight.

Shizuo may seem like a simple character, but as the series went on (three seasons) Shizuo became a small voice of reason behind all the madness in the series. He’s able to see when he’s being provoked (except when it comes to Izaya) and he has a good idea of what’s in the best interest for some clueless characters. Sometimes a few sentences out of him were enough to reveal what would take other characters two episodes to extrapolate and in other cases his actions – violent or not – would reveal sides of him his friends weren’t aware existed. He’s big hearted in a very subtle way and his way of showing friendship and kindness were some of the best scenes in the whole series for me. There is also that laugh-out-loud-so-much-I-cried moment where he ominously shows up like some black reaper… on a bicycle.

Runner Ups:

Shingeki no Bahamut – Azazel. Yeah, anyone who’s been reading this knows this was coming. He’s not officially on the list because the show isn’t over. I’m waiting to see how the show shafts his character (or not – I won’t hold my breath but I don’t have high hopes right now).

Kaisar. Oh look, two from the same show series! His spot is a bit more secure since he’s more consistent of a character, but not official since the show isn’t done yet.

I’m sure a psychiatrist would have a hey-day with what this list says about me. Violent, anti-hero, side characters who are moody, usually dark-haired, and don’t speak much.

SnB:VS Epsiode 20 (Spoilers)

I’m really trying to wait until the end of the series, but each episode now is equal parts infuriating and amazing at the same time, but very uneven in their amounts.

SPOILERS:

Basically the plot of this episode was side-swiped by the ongoing “romance” between King Genocidal Sadboy and Nina. Instead of giving action to a episode where it was much needed to keep the plot moving, the show focused on Charioce essentially “dumping” Nina – and none fucks were given.

The episode started off with our ragtag heroes devising a shitty plan (Rita admitted as much) to steal the bracelet from King Genocidal Sadboy because it controls the hand-puppet-death-star he is trying to regenerate. We all know how these bad plans pan out right? Lots of goofy antics and some action and then a half-failure. Nope, not this time. Instead the show focused on Nina and Charioce dancing again in the ballroom with her looking happy and smiling up at him and he’s….. just fucking deadpan the whole time.

The majority of the episode focused on the ball and Nina’s heartbreak and it was the most annoying part of the whole episode. While she trembled and threw her hands up in the air and demanded answers I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe after 20 episodes this will be the point where she becomes The Protagonist. Oh and all those answers about why the king won’t tell her anything? Oh, uh, those were all lies – or so he says. I think the show has showed enough for the viewers to realize he lied to her about lying to her about when he’d give her proper answers. So of course you get the tiniest hint that he does really give two shits about her since he’s still withholding information, but he’s King Sadboy so we probably won’t get any real Reasons until the very last episode when there will still be none fucks given because I can’t stand either of them now.

If he is in fact a Mr. Darcy in all of this, misunderstood and hiding to protect what he cares about blah blah blah, then this is the fucking worst version of him I’ve seen yet. I think the show is making it a little obvious now that he’s got Issues and Reasons behind what he’s doing, but the show refuses to make him relatable in any manner at all throughout all of it. There is still ZERO evidence of him caring about anything at all or having any kind of legitimate reasons for what he’s done. If the show is trying to be subtle about it, then they’ve also failed because I just don’t get it at all.

If there was any silver lining to yet another dose of here-goes-the-plot… oh-nope-sorry-we-lost-it-again-because-dancing-and-heartbreak-are-more-important, it was this scene:

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THIS IS SOME BIG SHIT HERE.

Azazel, Mugaro/El, Alessand, Jeanne D’arc, and Sophiel all meeting up together made me gasp.

Recap: Jeanne is El’s mother (through immaculate conception of sorts via kiss from the archangel Michael back in SnB Genesis). When the king started his genocidal war on the angels/demons the Onyx Knights were chasing Sophiel (angel), who was saved by Jeanne, but then ended up with the knights finding out about El (half angel super power boy) and chasing Jeanne/El afterwards. Jeanne mutilates her son to protect him, leaving him in a demon slave trading area and tells him someone will come along to help (the most beautifully heart wrenching episode of anime I’ve seen in a long time and by far the best of the whole series). Enter Azazel the freedom fighter. El was in the right place at the right time when Azazel was freeing some demons and boom – Azazel turns into Hot Goth (surrogate) Angel Dad. He gives El the name Mugaro because El’s vocal cords were destroyed and he couldn’t tell him himself. So for a year or so Mugaro has been by Azazel’s side as they try to help enslaved demons and find ways to defeat the king. Jeanne, meanwhile was captured and put in prison below the castle where the king taunted her/tried to get answers about El, who he knew would be a hindrance to his plans. Fast forward to when Azazel, Nina and Kaisar were captured by the king, El also gets captured by the angels looking for him to turn him into their super power to defeat the king. All escape and eventually El and Jeanne have a heartwarming reunion in heaven (one of the better scenes of season 2 – minus Nina’s melodramatic antics). El’s turned into a proper angel and given his full powers and can talk again and brags to his mom about the awesomesauce that saved him: Azazel. Cue Jeanne looking…… upset because you know, there was that whole scene in Genesis where they tried to kill each other because she was the demon slaying weapon of the angels given special powers and he was, well….. Azazel who just killed people because he’s a demon.

Meanwhile, Alessand, who has been nothing more than a petulant, whining doorstop the whole season finally meets his muse and reason for joining the Orleans Knights to begin with: Jeanne The Hot Former Captain of the Orleans Knights. Throughout the show he’s been allowed to air out why he’s disappointed in the knights and not liking his current captain (Kaisar) because he was hoping to be under the command of Jeanne The Hotness. Jeanne was MIA (in prison) by the time Alessand joined the knights and the kid has only seen the reputation of the knights take a nose-dive to shitsville while he’s been among them.

So, one MAJOR backstory and one minor one that’s felt a little pointless until this time coming to a head in a scene that lasted all of ten seconds. How will Mom Jeanne and (Surrogate) Dad Azazel react to each other? I’m not entirely sure Azazel is aware Jeanne is Mugaro’s mom, but it’s possible. More importantly, will Mugaro be able to make them get along or will he take a side? So far, while Mugaro clearly loves mom, he’s decided to leave her for the fight against the king and so paired up with Azazel again. While the reunion scene with Jeanne was beautiful, the reunion scene with Azazel was just as beautiful, showing how much weight Mugaro gives to both.

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This show is driving me nuts.

Post credits, shit may get real with Nina having to finally prove herself as a character worthy of being on the show because someone’s actually out to properly kill her this time.

Summer 2017 anime viewing update

I’ve dropped a lot since my initial post about the beginning of the season. I’ll exclude SnB:VS from this because I tend to put those in individual posts with long rants. Warning: some spoilers.

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Tsuredure Children: There were a couple shows I picked up or forgot to write about initially. I wasn’t too keen on Tsuredure Children at first, but ended up starting it after reading so many rave reviews on it. It’s basically half-episode long vignettes about various couples experiencing love/relationships. The writing is freaking amazing in this show. Sure, most of the characters are standard Japanese tropes you’d find in any old rom com series, but it’s the brutally honest writing in this one that really makes the characters relatable and fun to watch.  I love the tsundere delinquent/student body president couple (I don’t know all their names) because they are the most honest with their relationship. On the flip side of that, something about the dating master blonde haired guy and the girl who falls for him is so out of whack I find it highly amusing. Even though he says he belongs to all the girls he can’t tie himself down to one due to being so popular, I get the feeling he’s much more alone and in (delusional) denial. The conversations he has about being too awesome with vague statements about love and relationships really lets the viewers read between the lines and see that he’s probably being more honest than people realize. It’s only his ridiculously constant posturing that makes people think he’s either weird or up his own ass. When you can find the hidden message beneath all the posing and ridiculousness, there are some real gems and proves how good the writing is holding up in this series.

Katsugeki Touken Ranbu: Still watching this one. It’s not great, but it’s still highly amusing to me. The switch between Units 1 and 2 is a bit confusing as to how big this show is going to get and if they plan on giving proper character development to ALL of them. However, I do kinda like some of the Unit 1 guys more than 2, but there is some good development going with the captain of Unit 2 as he tries to put meaning into what he’s doing and honestly considering the consequences of their missions. I found his reflection on this juxtaposed with the actions of Unit 1 taking care of the citizens in the aftermath of a mission a nice connection to where the captain may go in the future. Unit 1 has already been down that road of reflection and know they can’t save everyone so they do what they can for the remaining citizens. Unit 2 captain seems to be on the cusp of this realization and his future actions may take a similar route since he clearly beat himself up about the fire that happened after their last mission.

Saiyuki Reload Blast: This is still a blast to watch (hur hur), but I’m a little confused as to what the detour to the past was about. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Heaven episodes tangent. Are the new team reincarnated with the exception of Goku? How is all of this going to tie in to what’s happening now with the other Sanzo priest?

Made in Abyss: I still very much like this show, but I wasn’t too happy with the Ozen episode. I get it, she’s trying to toughen up the kids, but geez what a shit way she went about it. I really like Ozen, but I think they show didn’t really handle her well at first. She’s set up to be a villain at first, but then ends up being more like a stoic, malicious Izumi Curtis (from FMA). I think that extremist version of “tough love” mentors is a bit overrated and I was rolling my eyes by the end of it. In general the show is still keeping my interest.

Hitorijime, My Hero: This has turned into the standard fare BL show, but I do still like it. I think Masahiro’s character is really interesting. You don’t see too many shows where characters deal with their delinquent selves/friends all too often and he’s still struggling to find his self-worth as a person. His home life, regardless of how he brushes it off, is anything but normal so his constant questioning whether or not he’s worthy of the love and attention he gets from Ken and Kousuke is very easy to understand since he’s never had any from the start. Kousuke is the typical tough-love-but-adores-the-cute type of guy, which is ho-hum for this genre. The other characters that give him the push to admit what he wants (Masahiro) make the show interesting, but also throws up red flags due to the student/teacher dynamic. Kousuke isn’t too much older than Masahiro, but the power dynamic between them, which falls quite flatly in the seme/uke roles sexually, makes them rather predictable.

Princess Principal: Still watching this one, but I’m not as invested in it as I thought I would be. The steam-punk-Berlin-wall-in-London plot is inching along very slowly. The characters are decent, but I’m having a hard time envisioning where this is all headed. Are they going to do a standard civil protest of the Commonwealth to break down the wall and end the cold-war antics of both sides?

Elegant Yokai Apartment Life: I still really enjoy this one. I rather liked the episode that contrasted reality in the dorm with life at the yokai house. People really do tend to ignore one another or just want to be left alone and the coldness of realizing the world isn’t always going to be so happy and welcoming was very well done. I think a lot of teens/college students who get out into the real world – away from their homes/friends/college-party-life get this rude awakening when they enter the work force or leave the comforts of home. If you want to keep ties with the people who make you happy, you really have to grasp them yourself, which is what the main dude realized while away from the yokai house. The dude getting the book of pseudo-powerful tarot cards was hilarious and his BFF kinda freaking over it was also amusing, but that particular episode was set up rather meh.

Possibly dropping/ getting very bored of:

Restaurant to Another World – the recipe of the day enchanting a new fantasy creature is getting old.

Knight’s Magic: Haven’t been able to force myself to watch more of this. It’s not bad, but just hasn’t really been on my radar.

Love and Lies: The alien-eyed children in love are starting to bore the crap out of me.

Welcome to the Ballroom: The animation is still pretty. The character designs are still pretty and unique, but I’m just kinda over it. Plot-wise there’s really nothing overly gripping me. I’m also kinda tired of seeing the girls in the show turned into trophies/second raters just because they don’t lead in the dances. It’s getting to be a bit offensive.

Chronos Ruler: I’ve watched 2 episodes of this so far and it’s ok, but hasn’t really stolen my full attention.

Vatican Miracle Examiner: Whut? Episode 4 was a full on historical deus-ex-machina-and-the-kitchen-sink plot twist. By the end of it I thought: what mind fuckery is this?! The episode with Lauren intrigued me because as an atheist I rather liked his snide comments and attitude. And now the show has reset so it can build up the next what-the-shit-just-happened-oh-there’s-the-kitchen-sink-again arc.

Am I even going to bother starting this: 18if

Binged: Owarimonogatari Season 2  – This was a really nice ending to the whole series and all it’s side plots. It was surprisingly coherent all the way through and seemed to bullet point the main parts of the series in a digestible recap for the viewers. The animation I thought was a bit lacking compared to others in the series, but the writing held its own as it always does.

Dropped: Dive, Altair.

 

Still need to watch: Voltron Season 3 & Fate/Apocrypha (when it’s released)