Anime Corner: Midnights Occult Civil Servants Review

Because if anyone is going to make a deal with demons it’s going to be the Government! (Hey, my first ever political joke on the blog, I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed).

What’s the Story?

When Miyako Arata joins the Shinjuku Ward Office, he’s expecting a run of the mill office job, but he really should have given the job description more than a passing glance because it turns out his new role is a lot more ‘supernatural’ than he was banking on. See Japan, and the world in general, has a large population of spirits and non-human beings called Anothers, each with their own ways and customs and its up to the various Ward Offices to keep these beings under control. A job that isn’t made any easier by the fact that no human can understand what an Another says, well, except for one. See Arata has a special ability, he’s inherited the ‘Ears of Sand’ from a distance ancestor and he can communicate with Anothers, an ability that will both help and hinder him in his new job.  

The Review

Midnight Occult Civil Servants is a series that really should have been tailor made for me, we’ve got a procedural series that has characters typically dealing with a case of the week and it explores different spirits and myths. Heck just the fact that this series pulls from mythology that I’d never expect an anime to, such as Aztec and Ukrainian, is a huge bonus. I do love it when I series doesn’t just rely on the same old supernatural beings all the time, werewolves, vampires and so on and you won’t find a single one of them here, well, not in the typical form anyway. I want to love this series, and don’t get me wrong I hugely enjoyed this series, but it never quite crossed the threshold into love. I think my main problem is that this series feels like it’s stuck between two versions of itself and it can’t quite decide what it wants to do. Then again it could just be that what the show wants to do is clashing with what I want it to do, that’s an option, but let’s break this down and see which it is.

For starters, this series is very low key, so if you’re expecting drama and action on a massive scale, then you’d better either lower your expectations or look elsewhere (this is a series about civil servants after all). A lot of the time the employees of the Ward Office are dealing with one spirit or another, trying to work out what their deal is before it all comes to some nicely tied up ending. There’s never any real sense of danger or tension as the Anothers hardly ever come across as threatening and the characters just spend a good chunk of time wandering around and talking. All of which sounds really boring, but it actually works for this series. As I said I like the variety of the Anothers in this show and I get a great deal of fun out of seeing the characters either working out how to deal with them or just interacting with them. And it’s not as if things never feel dangerous, whenever the series does a two-part story they always manage to end the middle cliff hanger on a moment where you think ‘Oh, this is actually getting serious now’.

The trouble is that a lot of the multi-part episodes tend to end unsatisfactorily. How events play out all makes sense and it builds off of what has already been set up, but a lot of the resolutions feel too easy. It never feels like there’s much of a lasting impact, even though there is, but things in the Ward Office quickly get back to normal as if nothing happened, which makes me ask what was the point of building up the tension in the first place. It’s not like this show doesn’t have the potential for drama, but it never quite plays it up as much as it should. Take the Anothers for example, a lot of Arata’s co-workers describe them as natural disasters and talk about how they can’t possibly be understood, yet every Another we meet acts in such a human way it’s hard to see how Arata is the only one able to work this all out? If the series really wanted us to buy into this view of Anothers then it really needed to play up the otherworldliness of them. There are a couple of times where it does manage it, but not all the time and that would have added so much weight to when Arata did butt heads with his co-workers, or when they warned him about being overly sympathetic with Anothers.

I feel like I’m being way too harsh on this series because, as I said, I really did enjoy it from beginning to end, I just can’t help thinking about what it could have been. In my opinion, this series needed to really go one of two ways to really make an impact. It either needed to keep things entirely low key, remove any tension around Anothers and just have the characters dealing with a new spirit of the week as they tried to solve cases based around them. Or, it needed to go full throttle with the drama, make the Anothers something completely unknowable to anyone but Arata, don’t just say it, show it, have the characters argue over situations and really make the threats something truly difficult to overcome (actually the first proper encounter with Kohaku is probably the best example of this as things get really tense towards the resolution with an army of zombies threatening multiple employees and Arata and the gang faced with a difficult choice). As it stands Midnight Occult Civil Servants is sat in the middle and while I enjoyed it, I’m not sure how long I’m going to remember it for.

The Verdict

Midnight Occult Civil Servants is an enjoyable series, but I don’t think it’s going to stick in the memory for long. The characters are all likeable and the mysteries and spirits involved are all interesting and pulled from sources I wasn’t expecting, but the show never really puts them to any great use. The low-key adventures are fun, but the series never manages to make complete use of the natural drama and tension on hand so that a lot of story resolutions feel unearned, though that’s too harsh a way of putting it. I do like the series and it’s worth a watch, even if only once. If you’re after meeting some more unique spirits and so on, then give this a chance.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Wise Man’s Grandchild Review

And you thought your protagonist was overpowered.

What’s the Story?

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before, a Japanese man is hit by a car (seriously, Japan, look at your traffic laws, you’re losing too many citizens to incidents like this!) and is reborn in another world! Found by the old and wise Merlin, this newborn hero is named Shin and raised in the ways of magic and combat. Unfortunately Merlin forgets to teach Shin anything about the outside world, or restraint for that matter, as such, when he turns 15, Shin had very little idea about what is waiting for him, or the fact that his adopted grandfather is a hero of the land! Heading out to see the world, Shin enrols in a magic school where hijinks will naturally ensue, but there are dark forces at work near the schools, humans who have become demons! Not that any of them will present a challenge to Shin, but it’s nice of them to try.

The Review:

Are you after tense battles, high-stakes drama and characters so deep and rich that you will weep with both envy and sympathy? Well then you’d better look elsewhere ‘cause you ain’t finding that here, not a chance. I kid, of course, actually, no I don’t, I’m completely serious with what I just said, but that’s not a bad thing. Wise Man’s Grandchild is in no way a series that you should take seriously, and the series itself knows that. Oh it has plenty of potential for drama and it raises several interesting question, but wait five seconds and the series will get bored with that and move on to all the characters just being cute and funny with one another, and the series works perfectly fine like that. It’s basically a slice of life for the super powered with occasional flashy light shows whenever a battle takes place.

I don’t want to rag on this series too much because, honestly, that would feel like I was kicking a puppy. This series is adorable. Shin is actually one of the better isekai protagonists I’ve seen in a while, he’s overpowered like you wouldn’t believe, but he’s so sweet and loveable and occasionally stupid. You could make a series just out of his reaction shots and people reacting to him and I’d happily watch that. I like the concept that Shin doesn’t know much about the outside world so he doesn’t quite realise when he’s said or done something completely outlandish and doesn’t quite get why everyone is so shocked. Another point in the win column with regards to Shin, and the series in genera,l is that this series never turns into a harem. Oh there’s certainly the potential for it at the start of the series, with Shin rescuing two girls and all the girls in his class, but Shin only has eyes for Sicily. It’s nice that we only get one romantic relationship to focus on and, yes, it actually does become a relationship, they talk about their feelings and everything! Another point for the win!

It’s little things like that that endear this show to me. Another is that I like how it’s continually brought up that Shin’s immense power and all the god-mode gear that he gears could completely destabilise the power structure of the world as it stands. Nothing is every really done about it, but it’s a nice excuse to explain away why this auto-healing gear isn’t handed out to everyone and we see how much tougher a demonoid becomes when he gets his hands on some of Shin’s gear towards the end of the series, I mean characters almost break a sweat fighting him! And that’s something else as well, Shin isn’t the only overpowered character in the series, sure he’s the most overpowered, but all of his classmates get taught by him and end up with god-level powers themselves compared to everyone else. I do like the fact that the powers get spread around a bit and that means that it doesn’t always have to be Shin leaping in to save the day, against an end boss, sure, but against regular demonoids, which are still meant to be a big threat, the class can handle it by themselves.

Let’s talk about our terrifying villains for a moment, I do wish the series spent more time with them (I believe there’s meant to be a season 2 so I can hold on to some hope for the future at least). Schtrom, our big bad of the series, has a compelling back story and it’s nice to see a villain who has a clear goal and sets out to achieve it, it’s just a shame that, one, we only learn this after he’s accomplished his goal and, two, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Shin. The series just starts to build up towards a bigger confrontation between Shin and Schtrom, especially now that our bad guy needs something to do, but that’s only in the last few episodes and if we don’t get that second season then this was all kind of pointless. The rest of the demonoids basically boil down to thugs who are too powerful for regular troops and it gives the class a chance to show off.

It does make me wonder why the series even needed villains, since they have so little point other than as a looming threat that we know with never actually be a threat. The series is far more interested in just having its cast of characters hang out and banter and those are by far the best moments of the series. Seriously, this should have just stuck to being a slice of life.

The Verdict:

In the end, Wise Man’s Granchild, is a harmless series. It’s fluff, but enjoyable fluff, fluff that seeks out to make your day as pleasant as possible. Yes it falls into the majority of the isekai tropes, but there are enough points where it swerves those tropes or presents an interesting enough idea that it endears itself to me. If you’re after action or drama then you’re better off looking elsewhere, but if you’re okay with watching a bunch of overpowered kids goof around and have fun with one another and their powers, then this is a perfectly fine watch.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

It’s a Mystery! The Mystery Blogger Award!

My thanks to Moyatori over at The Moyatorium for nominating me for this award. They run a really interesting blog so make sure to check them out!

First let’s take a look at the rules.

RULES

  • Display the award logo on your blog.
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  • Mention Okoto Enigma, the creator of the award.
  • Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.
  • Answer 5 questions from the nominee.
  • Nominate 10 – 20 bloggers.
  • Notify your nominees by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice, including 1 weird or funny question.
  • Share the link to your best post.

Three Things About Me

  1. I turned 30 yesterday, which still hasn’t sunk in properly. I don’t feel 30, I’m not sure if I ever will. In my head I’m still in my late teens/early twenties and I’m kinda okay with that.
  2. At college I had the nickname ‘The Blue Screen of Death’, because I had a habit of always wearing one of two blue coats and every time I walked into the classroom you could guarantee at least one of the computers would be suffering from the blue screen of death, so naturally I got the blame.
  3. When I was young one of my favourite drinks was called a ‘Blue Lagoon’, basically it was lemonade with blue drinks colouring. I used to drink it all the time when my family went on holiday to Spain. It’s been nearly two decades since I’ve had one and now I’m suddenly feeling nostalgic, excuse me…

Moyatori’s Questions

  1. What colour of clothing do you wear the most?

Either red or blue for my shirt and black for my trousers. I’m a primary colours kind of guy, but which I mean I’m lazy and don’t care too much about what I look like so I stick to simple stuff.

2. What’s your opinion on dessert pizza?

Wait, there’s such a thing as a dessert pizza? As in a dessert…and a pizza? Together? In one? Sounds great! Where can I get one?

3. What’s your favourite mountain (even if you never thought about it, try choosing one! I like mountains these days…)?

Great Orme. It’s a mountain in Llandudno, Wales, and the only mountain I think I’ve been up. It’s really beautiful and has some great views.

4. Are you good at navigating to places, or are you a little directionally challenged?

Once I’ve wandered round a place a bit and gotten my bearings I’m fairly comfortable navigating around, I like a good walk anyway and sometimes I’ll go for a wander just for the fun of it. That being said I do get a little nervous when I’m visiting somewhere I haven’t been before.

5. You’re in great debt to the mafia and they’re chopping off one of your fingers on each hand (the same finger on each). Which finger would you rather lose?

Whatever the finger next to my pinkie finger is called. It seems to be there mostly to keep the middle finger company and I think I could get by with all my other fingers just fine.

My Questions

  1. You’re given a blank check by a Hollywood executive to make a movie adaptation of whatever you want, as long as it’s never been adapted before (this Hollywood Exec is clearly some sort of alien in disguise, but never mind that). What are you adapting and why?
  2. The world’s greatest chefs from across time and space have come together to make you a meal, what’s on the menu?
  3. A quiet corner where you won’t ever be disturbed, or a roaring party with all your best friends. You can only have one, which will it be?
  4. Do you blame it on the sunshine? The moonlight? The good times? Or the boogie?
  5. How are you today?

Nominees

Scott

Ospreyshire

Lynn

Irina

Crow

Tiger

AshleyCapes

Al’s Manga Blog

Chizurue

Yomu

Finally, for my best post, I kind of don’t know how to qualify that. Do I go for one that got the best reaction, or one that I’m proudest of? If it’s the latter than that changes all the time, in fact my current proudest review hasn’t even be released yet, and it won’t be until November. There’s plenty of my recent reviews that I think are good and managed to get across what I wanted, but for this I think I’ll go back to last year with my Promised Neverland review. Enjoy!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Cop Craft Review

Cheese it! It’s the Fuzz!

What’s the Story?

Fifteen years ago a portal opened up to another world, one where fairies, monsters and magic all exist. Now the beings from two worlds mingle in the city of San Teresa, but as the otherworldly visitors bring new technology and culture to the city, they also bring new crimes. Fairy smuggling, new drugs, even porn! To tackle this rising wave of crime is the police force of San Teresa and grizzled detective Kei Matoba has just got a new partner, Tilarna, a knight from the other world. Let the buddy cop shenanigans begin!

The Review

I used to be of the opinion that it doesn’t matter what a show looked like, as long as I was invested in the characters or plot, it could be as cheap looking or dated as it wants. Yes it’s nice when something gets the budget it deserves and you can do some truly jaw-dropping things with animation and special effects, but at the same time I’m a big fan of classic Doctor Who, so I understand that there are times when budget and reality can’t quite stretch as far as the writer’s imagination. Cop Craft is a show that has severely tested this philosophy though, on the one hand I love the set up of this series and both Kei and Tilarna are really likeable leads. On the other, I struggle to call what this show has animation. There are so many still frames, so many moments swallowed up by dark shadows (yes, let’s have the fight with a vampire in a dark subway tunnel so we can’t see anything!) and then there’s the bewildering action sequences where the camera got drunk for several minutes so I don’t have the first clue what happened! The show has plenty of other problems that it develops across it’s run, but the ‘animation’ was the one that had me on the verge of dropping this show time and again.

The show starts off decent enough, both in the animation and story departments. Nothing mind blowing, but perfectly serviceable and, as I said, I really like the set up of this series. Mixing a classic cop show with fantasy elements? Putting together two of my favourite genres? Oh heck yes! This will be awesome! And for a time it was. True the opening story arc doesn’t do anything that original, in fact I’m pretty sure it ticks off most every buddy cop cliché you can think of, but it’s fun. Sometimes tropey things can be fun, that little spark of recognition can give you a few warm fuzzies, and that’s one of the bigger problems of this series, it doesn’t add anything to the tropes so that over time you get bored of it. Yes, Kei and Tilarna don’t get along, but when the chips are down they’ll always have one another’s backs, that’s great, but what else have you got? Grumpy police chiefs? Mysterious conspiracies? Yes, and? I can literally watch any cop show in existence and get that exact same stuff.

In fact, and this is quite a statement from me, my favourite episode has to be the one with the guys smuggling porn mags to the other world. It’s a bizarre concept on paper, I mean considering these cops normally take on drugs and murders, to find them suddenly dealing with truck loads of porn, it feels a bit below their pay grade. Then again it’s a problem that’s unique to this world and I love that. The other world (I keep forgetting what it’s proper name is and honestly my opinion of the show is at rock bottom right now so I really can’t be bothered to google it, so forgive me if I keep referring to it as the other world), doesn’t have photography and therefore no porn. Hence porn is big business. It’s a problem I hadn’t thought of, but the writers clearly did and that’s what this series needed. Plus the conversation between Kei and another officer about tastes in porn was pretty funny, that and Tilarna the car killer as she systemically destroyed Kei’s cars one after another had me laughing. If the series had more episodes like this, taking advantage of the unique world then I’d probably have a higher opinion of this show.

There are several cool ideas dotted throughout the series, like someone combining Earth technology with the other world’s magic to come up with new weapons, like a camera that transforms into a working gun, or…actually nothing else is springing to mind, but that one’s a cool idea at least. On to a more positive topic though, Kei and Tilarna, honestly these two are the reason I kept watching this series. On paper they’re both fairly stock characters, Kei is the jaded, lazy old detective, and Tilarna is the stuck-up, stickler-for-the-rules newbie, and yet you feel the bond between them. There’s this sense of camaraderie there and you just know that, despite the fact they argue and say some pretty mean things to one another, they have this healthy respect that all buddy cops have. You believe that these two both infuriate one another and yet at the same time are very protective of one another. The final episode of the series was pretty anticlimactic, but I do like the last few scenes between Kei and Tilarna as it perfectly gets that relationship across. I do like the other officers as well, and though you don’t get to know them too well across the series, I wouldn’t mind seeing them again.

The Verdict

In the end, Cop Craft is a pretty disappointing show. The animation is barely qualified to be called that and that really is the biggest detriment to the series. Of course the series being so laden with tropes and doing so little with its set up doesn’t help and the show ends up just what it looks like, a mess with a couple of bright spots along the way. There are some smart ideas and both Kei and Tilarna make a likeable pair of leads that can carry you through the show if you decide to try this out, but I can’t really recommend this series. This officer is turning in his badge on this one.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: Astra Lost in Space Review

To infinity and beyond! Aye, Yeah!

What’s the Story?

The year is 2063 and eight high school students and a kid are flown out to Planet Camp, where they’re expected to survive on their own for a few days. Unfortunately things don’t go according to plan as just as soon as the group land they’re attacked by a mysterious orb and transported into the depths of space. With only an ancient spaceship and a desperate plan, the kids must find their way home and uncover the truth behind the attack on them. However, with a variety of wild and dangerous planets between them and home and the possibility of a traitor onboard, do these kids stand any chance of survival?

The Review

Do you know what I love most about this series? It’s not the intricate and well thought out plot, it’s not the charming and funny characters, no, it’s the fact that it can pack so much into twelve episodes. Maybe I’ve become jaded over the years, but I’m just so used to only getting one cour of a series, it ending on a cliff-hanger and then I have to go track down the manga to find out what happens next. This series though? Whole package, twelve episodes of goodness (even if a couple of those episodes are double length) that tell a complete and satisfying story. I realise this may just be me being caught in the moment, because as I stop and think about it there are plenty of series that give a complete story, but a sci-fi adventure series? Typically these types of shows are the ones that make me go buy the manga afterwards (when we actually get sci-fi shows, the genre of choice does feel like its been fantasy for a good few years now). The moment I realised this series was going to give me the whole story, it just felt so special, partly because I really wanted the whole story.

Again this show packs so much into its runtime. We’ve got different planets each with their own ecosystems and particular quirks for us to explore, there’s the mystery surrounding who attacked the group and why, as well as some bigger mysteries about the world at large. Add on to that the need to get to know each and every member of the crew and that is a lot to get through. I won’t say there aren’t times were things feel rushed or a bit convenient for characters, but for the most part those are tiny bumps in an otherwise smooth road. There is no better description for this series than a roller coaster, it can go from intense drama, like the crew realising just how dangerous a planet is, or a shocking revelation, to comedy in the blink of an eye and it always works. It knows just when to raise the tension to draw you in and then when to release it with one of the cast being silly or deflating the egos of a crewmate.

Speaking of the crew of the Astra, I love all these guys. They each have their own quirks and back-stories that we get to know across the series. Nothing too deep, the series has way too much to get through to do any kind of in depth character explorations, but we learn enough to care, which is the important part. Honestly the thing that comes across most with these kids is the friendship between them. When they’re sat around just bantering and joking, it feels genuine and you can see how these kids keep their sanity through all the crazy things that they have to deal with. You want to see them happy, you want to see them get home, which just makes all the moments were they’re in dire peril all the more tense. If I had to single any particular character out, it’d be Kanata. I love the big doofus, he’s a good leader, he works well under pressure (even if sometimes he needs a nudge in the right direction), he’s strong and capable, but more than anything he knows how to keep the mood light and he will risk his life for one of his crew. They needed all of the crew to make it home, but without Kanata in charge they’d have all died in the depths of space. I’d want Kanata to be my captain.

Lastly I just want to praise how well thought out this series is. I mean planets alone are beautiful, from worlds were mushrooms rule to a planet half burning, half frozen, it’s the kind of imaginative sci-fi I adore. I could quite happily spend a whole series exploring just one of these beauties. Add on to that the mysteries that the crew have to deal with, like finding out why they were targeted, and this series just reaches another level. The plot is so intricately detailed that a lot of the reveals made me want to bang my head against a table because, of course that’s the reason behind it all, why didn’t I see it sooner! The clues were all there, but you get so wrapped up in the adventure and the danger that you don’t notice until the story wants you to, which is always the mark of a well-written story. In fact the only complaint I have is the ending, and while I love the conclusions for each characters and I’m glad for them, there’s also the part of me that feels like it was a bit convenient. Things shook out in just the right way that everyone gets their happy ending, it just stretches my disbelief a little too far (or maybe I just want another series about them after they’ve just got home and dealing with the immediate fallout).

The Verdict

All in all, Astra Lost in Space is a great ride from start to finish. It’s the kind of series I love, exploring imaginative and unique planets with a group of fun and charming characters. There’s plenty of drama and high stakes, but also a wealth of comedy, both sides equally balanced with one another. If you’re into sci-fi or just an intricately plotted story, then check this series out.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

The Infallible Fish Reviews: Wonder Woman Bloodlines

Blog Wonder Woman Bloodlines Review Title

“If you seek to harm it or my friends, you should have a weapon.”

Well, we’re back to the DC Universe animated movies and, hold on, what’s this? A movie that stars neither Batman, Superman nor does it focus on some variety of Justice League? You mean we’re actually going to give another hero the spotlight all by themselves? Has the world gone mad! I joke, but yes, DC finally got off their backsides and animated another Wonder Woman movie (it only took ten years and the success of a live action film to get them to do it!). I’ll admit that this was a film I had been waiting a long time for, I mean the original animated Wonder Woman movie was a lot of fun and I still adore the live action version (and I’m very much looking forward to the sequel whenever that arrives). Having said that, there’s always been the question of what Wonder Woman story you adapt into a film.

I mean once her origins are out of the way then Wonder Woman really doesn’t have any seminal stories that jump to mind, by which I mean something along the lines of a Dark Knight Returns or Death of Superman level of story. There have been many great Wonder Woman stories told over the decades, but her stories have never quite seeped into popular consciousness like Batman and Superman’s have (admittedly those two have only seeped in because of constant exposure over the years, but the point still stands. Ask Joe Bloggs on the street to name a Wonder Woman story and they will struggle). Wonder Woman Bloodlines chooses to solve this problem by adapting several stories at once and fusing them into one, though I’d say the biggest contributors are the origins of Silver Swan and the ‘Eyes of the Gorgon’ story.

There’re so many little nods and bits of Woman Wonder history tucked away in this film, without it ever feeling like you’re missing out on the joke. If you know who Ferdinand is then that’s great, otherwise you can just sit back and smile at the fact that Diana now has a minotaur chef and who wouldn’t want one of those. There’s almost a whole host of Diana’s greatest enemies here to throw down with her throughout the film, we’ve got Silver Swan, obviously, but we also get Cheetah, Giganta, Dr. Cyber, Dr. Poison and a couple of others I won’t mention for spoilers sake, but if you’re a Wonder Woman fan you’ll know who they are the second certain names are mentioned.

What’s the actual story though? Well, unfortunately, we start off in a familiar place with Wonder Woman’s origin being repeated, yet again (note to DC, and of course I know the higher ups of a giant comic empire are going to read this, please stop rehashing the origins of your most popular heroes, especially when they’ve had a successful film out only recently. You can trust your audience to know who Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman are. If I see Batman’s origin one more time, I swear…). Anyway, the film does claw back some points by making Diana’s origin somewhat relevant to the ongoing plot, namely her feelings of guilt and regret for disobeying her mother, even if it was the right thing to do. With Diana now banished from Themyscira she needs a new place to stay and she finds that with Dr. Julia Kapatelis and her daughter Vanessa.

Julia is fascinated by ancient cultures, especially the Amazons and so lavishes attention on Diana, planting the seeds for a festering jealousy in Vanessa, which will be our central conflict for the film. We’ve also got Dr. Cyber and Dr. Poison working together alongside other noted villains for their own nefarious schemes, drawing Vanessa into their orbit and transforming her into the deadly Silver Swan. If Diana wants to save Vanessa she’ll need to find her way back to Themyscira, battling the likes of Cheetah and Giganta along the way, before a final clash against an enemy she long thought dead.

I enjoyed this film, a lot, but it does have its problems. Pacing has to be the biggest issue, but in an odd way because this film never felt rushed, but there are definitely scenes that went by too quickly while others dragged on for just a little too long. I think it comes down to the fact that this film just tries to pack in too much at once, there’s a lot of action and a great number of characters, so much that the plot is constantly having to keep moving in order to stay ahead of everyone. All those villains I mentioned, it’s great to see them in animated form, but the majority of them are just there. They get cool action scenes, but you never learn what makes them tick. Honestly if it wasn’t for the excellent voice cast I seriously doubt I would have cared as much about the internal struggles of both Diana and the rest as much as I did. There’s a really great, meaty story here, but the pacing just robs it of so much depth.

The film makes up for this though by being incredibly fun. From some great one-liners and witty banter, to the action, which as I mentioned there’s a lot of, but it is so glorious. I love the fights in this film, not only are they brilliantly choreographed, but they’re exactly what a superhero fight should be, witty and exhilarating and, well, fun. That being said, the climatic battle of this film is one of the most brutal fights I have ever seen. I mean I thought Superman vs. Doomsday was a bloody match, this is insane and I wish I could describe it to you, but that would spoil things. Just go see it, please.

All in all, while Wonder Woman Bloodlines is not the best Wonder Woman film, it is still a lot of fun. From the multitude of great action sequences, to witty banter and a chance to see so much lore and villains from Wonder Woman’s rogues gallery finally put up on screen, any fan of Wonder Woman needs to see this film. Heck, if you’re just curious about Wonder Woman and want to see more of her I’d recommend this film. The original animated Wonder Woman is probably just that bit better and the live action one certainly is, but if we get enough people to see this film then maybe, just maybe, we’ll convince DC to keep making more Wonder Woman films, and that is a cause worth fighting for.

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Blog Recognition Award 2020!

 

Another week another tag post! I have to thank animegoodreads this time for nominating me for such recognition, really thank you I kinda needed the boost at the time. I’ve only just started following their blog myself, but the content I’ve read has been smart and fun so make sure to go check them out!

On to the rules, what must I do?

  • Thank the person who nominated you and feature a link to their blog in your award post.
  • Post the award banner somewhere on your blog.
  • Share the reason why you started your blog.
  • Share two pieces of advice that could benefit new bloggers.
  • Nominate a maximum of fifteen other bloggers.
  • Tell your nominees about your award post so they can participate!

Why I Started Never Argue With a Fish

Now I’ve talked about why I started this blog a couple of times before, but since my 6th anniversary is closing in let’s go over it again for anyone that hasn’t heard it before. It’s not all that original a story, but part of the reason I started this blog was to become a better writer, to be more confident in my authorial voice and just generally improve. In this I can say my blog has been a runaway success, my writing is so much better than it used to be and a good chunk of that I put down to me working on this blog for all these years.

The other reason I started this blog is, well, because I wanted some place to talk about all my favourite animated films and series. I have a few friends that are into anime and Disney and just animation in general, but none of them are really as hardcore about it as I am. I love animation, as a medium the only thing that can match my adoration is my love of the written word itself. I just needed somewhere to gush and vent and generally indulge myself and I am so thankful to the wonderful members of this community that let me do just that.

Of course every fire needs a spark, and the one that started this blog was Frozen. Those who know me know I had a particular reaction to the Disney film, not so much disappointment as confusion, it took me a long time to come terms with my feelings for that film. Part of that process was writing my very first blog post (HERE), but I’ll come back to that when it’s time for my anniversary.

Advice for New Bloggers

I think I’ve said this on another one of these posts in the past, but I’ll say it again because it’s really important, but get involved in the community. Whether you’re out to build an audience through your blog, or if it’s just for fun, interact with your fellow bloggers, it will be more rewarding than you can imagine. Like other people’s posts, comment if you feel confident enough, all the bloggers I’ve interacted with in this community are great and supportive, so come talk to us. We won’t bite, I swear.

Second, don’t be afraid to experiment. I know my blog posts have a certain formula, title, title card, opening joke, story overview, review, verdict, but it took me a while to work out that that was my style. When I started writing posts I was hiding behind my characters, and that helped to start with, but I soon realised I’m much more comfortable writing as myself. I still keep the ‘Infallible Fish’around for my title cards, ‘cause he’s always fun to draw, but the ‘Writer’ hasn’t been seen for a very long time. Try out different styles, find what suits you and don’t feel beholden to something just because you started with it, or because it’s how someone else does it. Find your own voice.

I’ll nominate 10 bloggers, but there are many more great bloggers out there so make sure to check them all out!

Ospreyshire

Terranceacrow

Irina

Yomu

Moyatori

Scott

Lynn Sheridan

alsmangablog

The Impossible Blog

 

Anime Corner: Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu Review

Blog Hitoribocchi Review Title

Aru-Aru Beam!

What’s the Story?

Hitori Bocchi is an incredibly shy girl, so shy in fact that she struggles to talk to anyone but her very best firend. Unfortunately for Bocchi, her best friend won’t be attending the same middle school as her and, clearly worried, her friend makes a deal with her. Unless Boxxhi makes friends with every member of her class by graduation, she’ll never be friends with her again. Now, you may be thinking that this is an incredibly extreme measure to take, but you have yet to understand the true, crippling awkwardness of Bocchi, frankly I’m amazed she functions as a person, but we’ll save that for the review, speaking of which…

The Review

I really like this show, I’ll say that upfront. It’s a sugary ball of delight that never failed to brighten my day whenever I watched an episode, and yet, as I sit here and let my brain get all analytical I have to admit that the show was okay at best. The show is a cute and charming bit of fluff, it’s nice and while nice is a perfectly good word its never going to set the world on fire. There’s nothing really that new here, there is an army of school anime set around a group of friends being cute and getting up to various antics, but the comedy is never zany enough and only occasionally manages to blow out the cute-o-meter. Honestly a lot of what this show does has been done before and better in plenty of places, it doesn’t help that the show this has a ridiculous premise and a status quo that shall remain forever etched into the Rock of Eternity itself.

Let’s talk about that premise, and the utter stupidity of it. So, you have a friend, they’re socially awkward to the point that it’s a wonder they haven’t locked themselves in their house and barricaded the windows (I’ll get to Bocchi in a minute), and you’re concerned that your friend is going to struggle at a new school by herself. What do you do? Why of course you threaten to never be friends with her again unless she makes twenty-nine other friends within a three year time period! Because forcing someone to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable is the best way to solve a problem, naturally (speaking as someone who constantly feels socially awkward and has to make a conscious effort to talk to people sometimes, I will admit that there are times when someone needs to drag me out of my comfort zone for my own good, but it’s far better to know that I have the support of a good friend along the way. You don’t threaten your friends into doing things!). Anyway, this whole premise is utter nonsense and purely there to give Bocchi an arbitrary goal to reach by the end of the season, which she never will because the twelve episodes only cover her first year and she’s nowhere near her target by the end, as if that surprises anybody.

Let’s talk about Bocchi and, while she’s…fine, she also happens to be the least interesting character in the series. At first she’s pretty funny, her social awkwardness is stretched to completely unbelievable proportions, but she’s kind of adorable as she comes up with convoluted plans to make friends, ties herself in knots completely misunderstanding situations and just digging herself in deeper and deeper. The trouble is she’s pretty much a one-joke character and once she’s run through the various forms that her awkwardness takes all that’s left for her to do is just to go through the cycle again and again. There are moments were you think she’s made a small, incremental change, but then she faints as soon as she makes a new friend and you realise, no, Bocchi hasn’t changed at all, at least not in any significant way. The clearest example of this comes with the very last episode of the series, the series began with Bocchi trying to give her introduction to the class on the first day and instead throwing. The epilogue of the last episode has Bocchi on the first day of her second year as she’s about to give her introduction and what does she do? Yep, she throws up. Nothing really changes and that’s what holds back the comedy the most with this series.

Okay, I’ve been tearing into this series pretty deeply and all the while my heart has been quailing because I do genuinely enjoy this series. Despite all its problems, I have an incredible amount of fun watching this show and that comes almost entirely down to the characters, well, the characters besides Bocchi. If you can’t get into the characters of this series then there’s really no chance for you, but if you can, as I did, you’ll find such a warm, sweet and enchanting series. I love these people, from the lethargic Nako-chan who is often mistaken for some kind of thug (especially by the hopeless teacher), to the ever-unfortunate Aru or Sotoka who wants to be a ninja. They’re all odd in their own ways, but never completely off the wall and while they’re hardly very deep characters, they each have their sweeter moments and I just love the way they banter with one another. Seriously, Nako and Aru need their own show, I love those two together. Heck, the friends even make Bocchi more interesting as she’s often at her best when she’s getting involved with their antics rather than just going through her joke again.

The Verdict

In the end, Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu is a fun little show, but that does depend on whether you can invest yourself in the characters that fill this series. Without them the jokes and the bright visuals just aren’t enough to carry the show. It doesn’t help that our lead only has a few jokes to herself that she quickly runs into the ground and the central premise is nonsense of the highest order. If you can connect with these characters then maybe you’ll be like me and laugh and smile all the way to the end. Have an Extra-Special-Aru-Aru-Do-Your-Best Beam on the house!

fish stamp watchable

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

The Vincent Ehindero Award Is Mine!

vincent-ehendero-blogger-award

A couple of weeks ago the ever great nominated me for the Vincent Ehindero blogger award. Not seen this award before, but Curtis always has some fun questions to offer so thank you again for nominating me! Remember to check out both of his blogs, Ospreyshire’s Realm and Iridium Eye Reviews,  they’re both worth following. So, what are the rules?

Here are the rules:

-Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

-Post the award logo.

-Post the rules.

-Nominate up to 20-30 other bloggers and notify them.

-Notify Vincent of your nomination, via comment.

-After notifying Vincent, he’ll check out your blog, follow and give you your unique award for the good work on your blog.

-I’m not sure if we are supposed to have some questions for the nominees, but I’ll make some for them.

I’m going to skip nominating bloggers as 20-30 is really excessive and, honestly, that’s how these things get out of hand so take this as an open invitation. If you’re interested then feel free to join in! On to the questions:

1. If you could get one singer, band, or composer to score a movie based on your life, who would it be?

This is a tough one because, well, honestly I don’t think I’ve done anything in my life worthy of being made into a film, so far at least. At the minute I guess I’d pick a band like Madness, purely for the nostalgia. They were one of the first bands I properly got into, alongside the likes of Queen, so I count them as part of the soundtrack of my formative years.

2. Which three countries would you like to visit that you have never been to before?

I’ve always said that I’d like to visit both Japan and the USA at some point, I am constantly consuming anime and american tv shows and I want to see their countries of origin for myself at least once. I want to soak in that culture directly, rather through a screen, I’ll just wait while the world’s calmed down a bit before I do that.

As for the third country, I’d probably pick India, that one I’ll put down to the Aru Shah books I’ve been reading and enjoying so much.

3. What is one thing you wish you could do right now if COVID-19 didn’t happen?

Honestly, get a haircut. Some local barbers are starting to reopen, but I still don’t quite feel safe getting close to people outside my bubble. At some point I’ll break, my hair is getting quite long now and that usually sends me crawling up the walls (I really dislike having long hair), but I can hold out a little longer.

4. Describe how you feel at the moment when you post this award post in a haiku form.

Brain is Fail.

I So Struggle with Haikus.

Suck At This I Do.

5. Which fictional character would you want to hang out with for an entire day? What things would you do? What conversations would you have?

This may have something to do with the fact that I’ve been bingeing through classic episodes of Doctor Who and my audio drama collection, but I’m going to pick my favourite Time Lord, the Doctor! (Not that any of this has anything to do with a certain plan I have for my blog come December, oh no). We’d traverse the time vortex, toppling dictators and lending a helping hand where we can, all the while visiting all the strange and beautiful places of the universe. We’d talk about their life and the people they’ve met, the people they’ve been and then be back in time for tea, after a few more detours. Sounds like a perfect day to me.

My questions:

  1.  You are given a device that can erase specific parts of your memory, mostly tv series, films and books that you’ve watched/read. What do you want to experience again for the first time?
  2. Quick, aliens are invading but they have a singular specific weakness, music! What song are you going to blast through the speakers to save the world?
  3. The universe is your oyster, there’s no pandemic, no restrictions on money or methods of travel. Where do you want to go, how do you want to get there and why?
  4. The world is ending (not hard to imagine at the minute I know), what do you want for your last meal and who do you want to share it with?
  5. How are you today?

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

 

Anime Corner: Haikyu!! Season 1 Review

Blog Haikyuu Season 1 Review Title

Give it to me!!!

What’s the Story?

Shoyo Hinata has had a passion for Volleyball ever since he saw the ‘Tiny Giant’ playing on TV. Unfortunately for Hinata his middle school didn’t have a Volleyball team and the one time he gathered enough players to make up a team, he was utterly destroyed by the ‘King of the Court’, Tobio Kageyama. Now he’s in High School though, the same school that the ‘Tiny Giant’ played for, and he’s determined to not only get his revenge on Kageyama, but to become the team’s next Ace! Except Kageyama is also going to Hinata’s school, and he’s one of his new team mates?! Can Hinata get along with the ‘King of the Court’ and, more to the point, can the two of them working together help rid the team of it’s unfortunate nickname, the ‘Wingless Crows’. It’s time to take flight and soar!

The Review

Haikyuu is one of those recent classics, everything I’ve ever read or heard about the series has been nothing but praise and I admit that can be a little intimidating. Hype has killed plenty of things for me in the past and I know next to nothing about Volleyball (then again there aren’t many sports I do know a lot about). In the end though, when I finally did sit down to watch this show, maybe I got a little too cocky. My basic attitude pretty much boiled down to, “Alright Haikyuu, you’re so great, impress me.” Cut to a shot of Hinata’s super fast quick attack smashing me right in the face. Yeah. I admit defeat. Haikyuu is good. It’s great. It’s amazing! IT’S THE BEST SPORTS ANIME I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE SO FAR!!! I have never watched a show that sucked me in as quickly as this series did. I’ve never come away from a show feeling so exhausted and yet energised at the same time, as if I’ve been the one playing Volleyball with all my heart and soul for the past few hours. I am but a puppet and Haikyuu firmly has hold of my strings. It’s so good!

I don’t even know where to start with this show, it gets every single element right. Great writing, fantastic characters, intense, pulse-pounding action, heartache, drama, memorable opponents and some top-notch animation backed up by an amazing soundtrack. Is this what it feels like to be a sports fan? To be stood in those stands, cheering ‘til your throat’s raw, willing your team on and on, to make that next step, get that next point and win! I feel enraptured and, if you ask me, that’s the one thing a sports anime should make me feel and Haikyuu emits that feeling so perfectly and effortlessly. Part of how it does this is through the characters. I love each and every member of our protagonist’s team, but more than that I love the opposing teams as well. Haikyuu has this tremendous ability to let you get to know a character in just a few short beats, but without it feeling like we’ve just glossed over anyone. Sure certain characters get way more focus than others, but you know what makes the majority of them tick. It’s thanks to this that the show can have an impressively large cast and no one feels like they’re fading into the background. It also means that we can get to know our team’s opponents so they don’t just become a generic obstacle to overcome.

Every team in this series has it’s own unique flavour and symbolic reference to go along with them, obviously our protagonist team are represented by crows, but we also gets cats and iron walls and I just know there’s going to be more and more in the seasons to come. It adds some visual flair to the series so that you’re not just watching twelve guys smacking a ball around for episodes on end. Not that the matches are in anyway dull to watch, there’s a real sense of power and speed to every moment. When someone lands a killer spike, or Hinata dashes from side of the court to the other, you feel it and, personally, I couldn’t help but feel my adrenaline spike every time it happened. Add on a soundtrack that lifts you up and all those loveable characters we’ve gotten to know so well and is it any wonder I was sucked so deep into this series? Each one element of this series fits in perfectly with the next and they build on top of one another to make this exhilarating series, kind of like a well-honed Volleyball team. I don’t know what else to say. I’m sure everything I’ve said here is news to no one and this show has four seasons out already, of which I’ve only watched the first. If you’re like me though, and held off on this series, for whatever reason,  do yourself a favour and start watching this.

The Verdict

In the end, Haikyuu is a perfect sports anime, and I say that as someone who doesn’t believe that perfect really exists, but damn this is as close as it’s possible to get. From loveable characters, to blistering action and a pace that won’t let up, is it any wonder that so many people praise this series? To some it up it’s thrilling, it makes you feel exactly as a sports should, energised by that sense of competition and adrenalin. There’s nothing else to really say, whether you like sports or not, whether you know anything about Volleyball or not (and this series also works as an excellent beginners guide to the sport), check this show out!

fish stamp unmissible

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.