Anime Corner: Golden Kamuy Season 3 Review

Hinna! Hinna! Hinna! Hinna!

What’s the Story?

On the trail of Asirpa, Sugimoto and the members of the 7th Division head to Karafuto, north of Japan. There they’ll have to battle the bitter cold, bare-chested Russians and one vicious wolverine. That’s before they even catch up with Asirpa and have to deal with her uncle and everyone else who is trying to unlock the secret of the lost gold. Will the key to the puzzle finally be found? Will Asirpa learn more of who her father really was? Sugimoto doesn’t care, he only wants to get Asirpa back and he’ll take on all challengers to do it. He doesn’t have to worry, he is the Immortal Sugimoto after all!

The Review

Golden Kamuy is back and it’s better than ever! Okay, I’m going to try to reign the hype train in on this one, but you should know that I love this show and having just finished the final episode of the third season I may just love it more than I ever have before. If you want to check out my review of the first two seasons then click HERE, but the summarised version is that, as I’ve already said, I love this show. It’s such a perfect mix of, well, everything. Comedy, action, suspense, drama, it’s even a compelling historical piece and cooking show to boot and it balances all of these aspects perfectly. One minute your in the middle of a heart-stopping showdown between two equally ruthless snipers, the next your laughing your head off at one of the countless dick jokes that the series has to offer.

This third season picks up right where the second left off, with Asirpa travelling with her uncle and Sugimoto doing his best to follow and eventually catch up with her. For me this season improves things in one important area, and that’s the number of important characters directly involved in events. My only real gripe about the first two seasons, outside of the CGI bears which thankfully don’t make an appearance here, is that this show has a massive cast. Don’t get me wrong I love each and every one of these lunatics, but sometimes it’s hard to keep track of everyone. Each character has their own rich back story and goals and it’s a lot to keep in my head (then again that’s only really a problem while watching it weekly, I imagine binging this show will easily solve this problem).

This season though is much simpler, we have two groups with two succinct goals. Asirpa’s group is out to learn more about her dad in the hopes of uncovering the secret to cracking the code to the gold, while Sugimoto’s group obviously wants to get Asirpa back. We do get development on a lot of character’s back stories and plenty of new characters added to the mix, but this streamlined narrative was so much easy easier to keep in my head. Also, as I mentioned there are no terrible CGI bears so the visuals were a vast improvement on the whole.

The action is also top notch this season, the previously mentioned sniper battle being a particular highlight, though I also enjoyed the bare-knuckled, bare-chested fight against the Russians. Some of the fights do get really brutal though, not that there weren’t brutal fights in the last two seasons, but some of the confrontations this time around were particularly wince-inducing. I don’t know how some of these people are still alive, but I’m so glad that they are. We also get a lot of new locations this season as the groups move towards and eventually through Russia, giving us access to a lot of new cultures and settings to explore. Add on some solid comedy moments and you’ve got the triumvirate of good entertainment, action, comedy and education!

I don’t really know what else to say, I love this series and this season gave me everything that I wanted. It’s so good to see Asirpa and Sugimoto back together again and, while I did complain about the large cast, I have missed a lot of them and I’ll be glad to see them again. Bring on season 4!

The Verdict

Golden Kamuy season 3 is another sterling season in a stellar series. If you haven’t already checked out this show out then I urge you to, right now. Make sure to start at season one otherwise you’ll really get lost and, please, look past the CGI bear this show has so much to offer beyond that. I love this show, as I’ve already said a thousand times. I love these characters and learning more about them and the world they live in and I can’t wait to learn even more. Good food, good company and plenty of action and intrigue, what more could you ask for from a series?

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.

First Impressions Autumn 2020 Part 2

And we’re back! No time to waste, on with the first impressions!

Golden Kamuy Season 3

On the trail of Asirpa, Sugimoto and the members of the 7th Division head to Karafuto, north of Japan. There they’ll have to battle the bitter cold, bare-chested Russains and one vicious wolverine. That’s before they even catch up with Asirpa and have to deal with her uncle and everyone else who is vying for the lost gold. Will the treasure finally be found? Will the truth at last be told? Sugimoto doesn’t care, he only wants to get Asirpa back and he’ll go on the warpath to do it. He is the Immortal Sugimoto after all!

Golden Kamuy is back! I love this weird, hilarious, tragic and just downright insane show so much and I’m so happy to have it back in my viewing schedule. I don’t really know what else to say beyond that, so far this season has been just as great as the previous two and if you haven’t checked them out you really need to! (You can read my review HERE if you’re still undecided). Sugimoto and the gang are just as captivating as they were previously, I especially love the bare-knuckle fight against the Russians and Sugimoto going completely berserk. We haven’t seen that much of Asirpa so far, but I’m hoping that’ll change soon and in the meantime we get more completely heart-breaking back stories for our side characters, proving that each and every member of this cast is compelling and fleshed out in the best ways possible. Get watching this series if you haven’t already!

Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World

For a hundred years the scientifically advance Empire and the home of powerful magic users, the Nebulis Sovereignty, have been at war. Nothing can seem to deter the hatred these two nations hold for one another, but perhaps that is all about to change. When master swordsman Iska is tasked with capturing one of the Sovereignty’s most powerful astral mages, the fearsome ‘Ice Calamity Witch’, he hopes he can use it as a means to open negotiations for peace. However what he wasn’t counting on was having so much in common with Alice, the aforementioned witch. Could love be about to bloom on this battlefield?

I really have no idea what this show is doing. I mean it’s a perfectly fine fantasy series so far, the set up of two star-crossed lovers on either side of a bitter war is a well trodden route, but one with potential. Iska and Alice are two likeable leads and the actions scenes so far have been dynamic and entertaining. There’s clearly a bunch of back stories and mysteries that the first three episodes have laid the ground work for and I’m interested enough to continue watching, but what has me worried is the writing. Episodes two and three are my main concern. Just the sheer coincidence of Iska and Alice meeting again and again and also having extremely similar tastes. It got so ridiculous it was actually funny, and they do make a cute couple, but it was a bit much to cram into one episode. Then episode three comes along and we already get a big fight with the presumed final boss, and our protagonists win. Okay, writing tip, don’t show the heroes of your story overcoming the villain at the very beginning because there’s going to be no tension whatsoever for when they turn up again. Those quibbles aside, I am still interested in this series and I’m going to carry on watching it.

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle

The princess has been kidnapped by the Demon King! As the Hero and his allies face a perilous journey to rescue her, the princess faces her own trails and troubles. Just how is she supposed to get a good night’s sleep in a Demon Castle?! Whether its using haunted sheet to make luxury pillow cases, reading forbidden grimoires to help her doze off or even stealing coffins to use as a bed, she’ll do whatever it takes to get the perfect night’s sleep! These demons have no idea what they’ve let themselves in for and pretty soon they might be begging the Hero to rescue them from the princess!

Just behind Talentless Nana, this has to be my surprise hit of the season. I had no interest in watching this show prior to it airing and I only really checked it out because I was looking for something to watch on a Thursday night. What I found was a delightful comedy that has left me grinning like an idiot after each and every episode. You wouldn’t think they’d be able to wring much out of the premise of this show, surely only an episode at most, but this little gem keeps surprising me. It’s one part sweet and cutesy, one part ludicrous, I can’t help but laugh watching these poor demons trying to deal with this princess in her endless quest for the perfect night’s sleep. The lengths she’ll go to and the twisted logic she uses to get there just boggles the mind, and just makes it all the funnier. If you’re in need of a warm chuckle this season, then you definitely need to be checking this show out.

The Gymnastics Samurai

Jotaro Aragaki has given his whole life to gymnastics. It’s his greatest passion and the only thing he’s really good at, but as old age and physical strain catch up with him, it might be time to finally call it quits. That’s what his coach thinks anyway and Jotaro does have a ninja-obsessed daughter to think about. Is this really the end of the road for the ‘Samurai of Gymnastics’ or does he have what it takes for one last go at glory? A chance encounter with a ninja-on-the-run might just change Jotaro’s perspective on the matter. Now we’re just left with one burning question, just what the hell is Big Bird?!

Seriously, only in anime could a series like this exist, and that is precisely why I love it so much. I mean anyone could tell a story about an ageing gymnast and his last shot at the sport he loves, but would they think to include ninjas, or a talking bird or ‘Agent Smith’ style immigration officers? Well? Would they? No, only in anime! Putting that aside, I am really enjoying this series. The characters are all likeable, the visuals are good, outside of the CG models they use for some of the gymnastics performances, and overall it’s just a fun time. I’m rooting for Jotaro, he can be a bit of an airhead, but you can tell he’s really in love with what he’s doing and his family are all behind him a 100%. I have no idea why they decided to include ninjas and talking birds, but I’ll roll with to hang out with this cast.

The Day I Became a God

Yota is just your average Japanese high schooler, studying for his entrance exams so he can get into the same university as the girl he likes, but all that changes when he meets a god! Her name is Odin and though she may look like a middle schooler her omniscience is no joke. Want to know what horse is going to win the next race? Ask her. Want someone to plan the perfect choreography for you to win a fight even though you’re physically inept? She can do it. Want to know when the world will end? The answer to that one is in 30 day’s time and she’s decided to spent the remaining time with Yota, whether he likes it or not!

This show is insane, and yes, I’m fully aware that I’m saying that after I’ve just talked about a gymnastics drama featuring ninja and talking birds, but this really is! I don’t know what I was expecting from this series, but it certainly wasn’t recreations of scenes from Rocky, followed by a fight to save a ramen shop and some guy who can apparently hack into anything with a pair of gloves and an ear piece. I genuinely have no idea where this series is going, but it’s going to be a ride and I’m completely down for that. I love the dynamic between Yota and Hina, sorry Odin. Both characters are brimming with energy and they bounce perfectly off of one another. Yota keeps trying to be the straight man to put a pin in Hina, sorry, Odin’s delusions, but then he gets entirely wrapped up in her schemes and the next thing you know he’s pretending to be a 40-year-old who won a baby-face contest. I mentioned this show was insane, right? As I said, I have no idea where this is going, but I’m more than willing to follow it.

Moriarty the Patriot

It’s the late 19th century and the British Empire is at the height of its power, though that power is not spread equally among its people. The nobility of the Upper Class hold all the sway and often look down upon the lowly Working Class that make up the rest of the population. They think they can get away with whatever they want, but a man walks through the thick London fog to tell you that isn’t always so. If you’re frustrated, if you’re a victim of those who call themselves your betters, why not seek out the Crime Consultant? With a mind as sharp as Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty is here to cleanse the British Empire, and he’ll do it by bringing the Upper Class to their knees.

I’m on quite the alternative Holmes run at the minute. At the time of writing this I’ve recently watched Enola Holmes (and very much enjoyed it) and I’ve just finished the first Holmes and Mrs. Hudson novel (again, very much enjoyed it and I’d recommend it), so why not complete the triumvirate with a series about the detective’s greatest enemy. Of course we can’t have a series with a villain as the protagonist without giving him a greater evil to face and what more ideal evil can this series’ setting provide than the Upper Class! (I’m joking, even though I do personally identify as Working Class and as such have an inbuilt mistrust of those of ‘noble’ standing, I also recognise that this series takes a very black and white portrayal of nobility in order to make sure we root for our lead). So far this series has been pretty fun, dark, but fun. Now we’ve got the two-part flashback of their origins out of the way I’m hoping we can get to more intricate cases for Moriarty to tackle, a good mystery is the reason I come to the Sherlock franchise in the first place. I do love the soundtrack to this series and I’ve yet to skip the OP. If you want to see the Holmes universe from yet another angle then I very much recommend that you check this series out.

That’s it for the first impressions. There’s a lot of shows that I’m enjoying this season and hopefully I’ve managed to point out a few shows that you’ve missed in this wealth of treasures. I’d say we’re back to regular reviews next week, but we’re not. Reviewing Frozen 2 for my anniversary has put me in a Disney mood and there’s a couple of series that I absolutely have to talk about. So, Next Week….

Next Stop, Anywhere!

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: Golden Kamuy (Season 1 + 2) Review

Blog Golden Kamuy Review Title

Hinna! Hinna!

What’s the Story?

Having recently returned from the Russo-Japanese war, the “Immortal” Sugimoto has taken to panning for gold, all in the hopes of finding enough money to fulfil a dead comrade’s last wish. What he finds though is a strange rumour about a bunch of escaped convicts, each with a tattoo that when put together will lead to a great deal of wealth. Befriending the young Ainu, Asirpa, Sugimoto and Asirpa set out to track down the convicts and recover the lost gold. However they’re not the only ones after the treasure as several groups, each with their own agenda, are out to take the gold for themselves. Things are about to get bloody, and weird.

The Review

Welcome, ladies and gentleman, to the show that has it all! Comedy, drama, bloody battles, more crazy people than we know what to do with, oh, and this is also a cooking show. On paper this show makes no sense, at least to me. There are so many genres and colliding story elements in this series that it should collapse under the weight of them all and yet somehow it manages to mix them perfectly together. This show is equal parts historical fiction, treasure hunt, cooking show, cultural exploration, military fiction, comedy, mystery and adventure. One minute we’re witnessing the fashion show of a psychopath who likes to make odd outfits out of people’s skin, the next we’re sitting down and talking about how to prepare Ainu delicacies. One of these elements should be jarring sat next to the other, at the very least it should throw the pacing of the episode off and yet in this series they fits so perfectly together. Of course we’re going to talk about fishing methods shortly after meeting a serial killer who gets aroused by the act of killing (while also finding a way to make said serial killer equal parts uncomfortable and hilarious).

The magic of this show is how it blends everything together, nothing ever outstays its welcome and just as one element of the story is starting to wear a bit thin it’ll switch track to another one. There’s always something going on, always something to have your attention and keep pulling you forward. So you have to watch that next episode. It’s an incredibly engrossing story filled with all sorts of interesting characters. Every character feels like they’re got a fully fleshed out past, each with their own desires and motivations behind whatever it is they’re doing. Any one of the characters could lead a series by themselves, but part of the joy of this series is seeing all these fully realised characters interact with one another.

That brings me to one of the few flaws with this series, the sheer amount of characters. Maybe its just a symptom of watching this show weekly, or possibly the fact that I need to rewatch season one at the time of writing this review, but there are a lot of characters and a lot of plot. There were times I felt like I needed a notepad just to jot down a couple of names and basic motivation just to remember it all. Everyone has an agenda and most of the people are connected to one another in one way or another. It’s not exactly hard to follow, but I found myself forgetting certain characters and then having to remind myself who people where talking about (not helped by the fact that I am utterly terrible at remembering names. I am so grateful the Internet exists when it comes to writing up these review just so I can remember character’s names).

As for all the other elements of the series I really do enjoy them. The period this show is set in is one that I don’t know all that much about so it’s been great exploring that and learning about the Ainu culture as well. That was another thing I knew very little about going into this series and while I have no idea how accurate this information is, from what I’ve heard it’s all pretty spot on. I get the feeling this show has a great deal of respect for the Ainu, from the way it talks about their traditions and beliefs in a educational yet engaging way. Then on the other side of things we have the convicts, and while I have no idea if they’re based on anyone I sure hope not because these people are crazy with a capital C. Each one of them is unique and memorable (even if their names escape me). Every time you think they’ve revealed the most depraved soul that they can, they ship in someone else who’s even madder. Admittedly it helps that all these criminals are funny as all hell, they’re all living in their own private fantasy worlds and it’s a testament to how this show handles its comedy that it can make you feel anything other than revulsion for these people.

Oh, right, on a last note I should probably mention the terrible CGI bears, and yeah, there’s no excusing that. The CGI in this series goes beyond bad to a whole other dimension, but the rest of the animation is spot on. I especially love the characters designs, there’s a lot more square shapes than you see a lot of modern anime and that helps this stand out even more.

The Verdict

In the end Golden Kamuy is a fantastic series that manages to blend what should be many disparate elements together into a cohesive and engaging whole. The series is populated by many, many interesting characters, each capable of carrying a series by themselves, but it’s the way they interact and clash that makes this such a compelling watch. Whether you’re looking for comedy, adventure, mystery or even a few handy survival and cooking tips this series has that for you. Here’s to Season 3!

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Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

First Impressions Autumn 2018 Part 2

And we’re back! Let’s get on with the show!

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Adolescence syndrome, just urban myths or do bizarre and strange things really happen to the teenagers of Japan? When Sakuta goes to the library the last thing that he expected to see was a girl dressed as a bunny wandering around the place. It turns out though that Sakuta is the only one that can see or hear the girl, Mai. She goes to the same school as him and is a former actress, currently on hiatus. The longer she’s on hiatus, the more people fail to notice her and pretty soon they can’t even remember her. Can Sakuta help Mai get through her Adolescence syndrome and what other strange goings on are about to befall this school?

I really love this series so far, which is not what I was expecting from the title. Honestly I wasn’t all that interested in this one and I was going to skip it, but then I heard good things and decided to give it a go, which I’m so glad I did. The first three episodes of this series play like there own perfect little movie. I love the relationship between Sakuta and Mai and I could seriously watch them all day. The dialogue between them is so well written, packed with dry humour and their deadpan delivery just really sells it. Just make sure you’re watching this show this season, it looks great, the characters have fantastic chemistry and I’m excited to explore more of these Adolescence syndromes.

Zombie Land Saga

Sakura dreams of being an idol up on stage someday and she’s about to get her wish, just not in the way she expected. After dying and being revived as a zombie (just roll with it, trust me it’ll make this show so much more enjoyable if you just leave your logic here before carrying on). Along with a bunch of other zombie girls Sakura finds herself press-ganged into an idol group with the mission of saving Saga! How will they save Saga? How did they get brought back to life? Who is the shouty guy that is behind all of this and came up with this insane idea in the first place? No idea, like I said, leave logic out of this one.

I’m kind of on the fence with this anime. I loved the first two episodes, but the third felt like it had run out of steam and that’s my biggest fear with this anime. I mean the plot and set up make no sense. There’s very little explanation as to why these girls have been revived as zombies and forced into an idol group. I get the impression that this was someone’s fever dream and they just turned it into an anime with as little excuse as possible, but that’s okay, to a degree. The fun of this show comes from just the level of bizarre you’re watching, as well as a couple of decent songs. Seeing the girls randomly thrown on to the stage of a death metal gig and forced to come up with a song on the spot when all but one of the girls is still in full on zombie mode is something that has to be seen to be believed. That and I couldn’t stop laughing at Sakura’s impromptu rap, which again has this feeling of being so out of place and yet it works. Episode three is where the cracks appear for me, it just doesn’t do anything weird or out there, the drama and the song are all stuff I’d expect from an idol anime (not that I’ve watched that many of them in the past) and the fact that they’re zombies kind of became little more than a side note with no effect on the plot whatsoever. That’s what I fear this series will become, once the surrealness wears off and the zombie stuff is pushed further into the background you’re just left with a typical idol show. I’m going to give it a few more episodes and see how this pans out.

Ms. Vampire who lives in my neighbourhood

Akari is a girl with a thing for dolls, no, thing isn’t the right word. Obsession, now that’s the right word. Anyway after hearing rumours about a doll girl who appears out in the woods at night, Akari just has to go out and find her! Naturally she gets lost, but she does find the girl from the rumours, except she’s not a doll, she’s a vampire! The vampire, Sophie, takes Akari back to her home where she learns that the life of a modern vampire isn’t that different from your standard otaku. This and the fact that Sophie does look a little bit like a doll helps Akari come to a decision, she’s going to live with Sophie!

Light and fluffy is the best way to describe this series. I mean I am waiting for the moment when the sell-by date runs out on this series’ jokes as there isn’t actually all that much to this, but for what it is it’s a nice way to unwind on a Friday so far. I like Sophie, on the one hands she’s actually pretty ordinary, watching the anime she loves and ordering the connected merch online. Her only difficulty is that she has to play by the typical vampire rules, she has to drink blood (which she buys online), sunlight turns her to ash with prolonged exposure and she has to be invited into places. Also there’s the fact that she’s over three hundred years old and has to deal with not knowing much about current culture or the fact that she doesn’t exactly get out much and doesn’t have many friends. Akari I’m of two minds on, on the one hand I do find it funny that it’s the human who often freaks out the vampire, but on the other hand her obsession is kinda creepy. It hasn’t crossed a line yet, but I’m worried it will and I don’t want that from my light and fluffy series. Still, I’m going to stick around to see.

Radiant

Nemesis are monsters that fall out of the sky, bringing terror and disaster. The only ones that can fight them are the Sorcerers, but most people tend to think of Sorcerers as almost as big of a problem as the Nemesis. Seth, a young apprentice Sorcerer, hopes to change all that, the only problem is that when it comes to most magic he’s kind of useless. When a Nemesis crashes on to the island where he’s been training however, Seth sees it as his chance to prove his worth, but a rampaging, super powerful monster may be only the start of his worries.

If you’re fed with typical shonen shows then move along, because most of the common tropes are here already. Optimistic and naïve young hero? Check. Hero with a lot of potential but kind of makes a mess and nobody believes in him, but he’s really strong when his friends are in danger? Check. Winning through with heart and determination? Magic powers that basically boil down to hitting something really hard? Check and check. I’m willing to give this series a bit of leeway because, well, when I think about it a lot of shonen take their time to get going. They start off really generic and over time they develop their own style and start to distinguish themselves as they fill in their worlds, though all the series do this at different paces. The first three episodes for me are always about asking if there is enough here to keep me interested until we get to that stage. The answer to which is yes, there is, for me at least. I can understand if other people want to drop out, but I like the colour and energy of this, the character designs aren’t bad either. It’s generic, but it’s fun so I’ll stick with this.

SSSS. Gridman

Yuta wakes up with no memory of who is, but that isn’t the end of his troubles. For one he’s hearing and seeing things that no one else can, like the strange person on an old computer in a junk shop, telling him to remember his calling. Then there’s the giant monster in the distance of the city that suddenly comes to life and starts destroying the place. Yuta returns to the junk shop and combines with man in the old computer, appearing in the real world as the giant Gridman! Together with the help of his friends they defeat the monster, but the school is destroyed in the process. Except…the next day the school is completely intact with no one remembering the attack. Not only that, but students who were there yesterday have gone missing and when questioned no one can remember them, in fact, as far as everyone else is concerned those girls died back in middle school. Just what is going on?!

I may have mentioned this before, but I love studio Trigger. Mostly because I always love their character designs and they often have a tendency towards high-octane action and mad plots. I don’t like every single series they’ve put out, but I usually tend to have a lot of fun. This series is off to a much more low key start, with a lot of effort being put into the building atmosphere and the slow peel back of what is actually going on. It may all collapse in on itself by the end, but I’m having fun so far so I’m okay with that. I like all the characters, even if we haven’t dug that deep into them yet and the fights, while short, are fun. I am getting some weird flashbacks from this show, I swear I’ve seen an episode of the original show this series is based on when I was a little kid. The Gridman suit and the monsters are all looking vaguely familiar, but I have no idea what that show was called over here in the UK. Anyway, that aside, there is a clear formula developing in this series, but I’ve always liked the formula of these kind of shows so that’s just another plus for me. I am really interested in this series and I look forward to wherever it’s going.

Golden Kamuy

And the treasure hunt is back on! ‘Immortal’ Sugimoto, Asirpa and the rest of the gang are back and on the hunt for the mysterious tattooed prisoners that will lead them to lost gold. Now with several skins acquired, Sugimoto and his party are on their way to the prison with a few questions with the man who may, or may not, be Asirpa’s dad! Meanwhile Lieutenant Tsurumi and the 7th have plans of their own, including making some fake skins to throw a spanner into the works and then there’s Hijikata and his gang of crooks and killers. I’d say things are about to get complicated, but it’s actually not, things are fairly easy to follow, now if I were to say it’s about to get weird, well, we reached that point a long time ago.

I’m really glad this series is back, it feels like an old friend has returned (I really should write up my review of season one at some point, though I might combine it with this one). Golden Kamuy is a weird show and it really shouldn’t work, but somehow does. It’s one part action adventure as the gang hunt for treasure, one part comedy due to the antics of the overabundance of crazy people in the cast (that and more dick jokes than you can shake a… you know what, I’m not even going there) and one part cooking show. That’s the part that has always confused me, when Sugimoto and Asirpa sit down to talk about local cuisine and enjoy some nice dishes. These elements should be completely jarring alongside one another and yet somehow, with this crazy cast they blend perfectly. Season 2 starts right back in the thick of it with possibly the craziest serial killer we’ve had on this show so far (and trust me, there’s some competition going with this series). There were moments watching that first episode were I was genuinely questioning my sanity, the biggest one being when the guy, who likes to make bizarre outfits out of people’s skin, starts putting on a fashion show for the Lieutenant. It just…it has to be seen to be believed.

That’s all for the first impressions this season. Next week back to regular reviews!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.  

First Impressions: Spring 2018 part 2

And we’re back! On with the show!

Hinamatsuri

When a girl sealed inside a giant steel egg falls on to the head of Yakuza, it’s the start of a bizarre series of adventures (as it should be). With no idea who the girl is or where she comes from the Yakuza finds himself taking care of the girl, mostly because if he doesn’t the girl will use her psychic powers to wreck his very expensive stuff. Not much of an overarching plot as of yet, just more mishaps in the lives of Hina and Nitta and I’m perfectly fine with that.

I am really enjoying this series so far, it’s striking the right balance of weird and interesting for me, though personally the strange meeting of a yakuxa’s life with a girl with psychic powers is worth the price of admission alone. There are so many odd little touches that make me both scratch my head and laugh at the same time, like the schoolgirl who ends up working as a bartender purely by accident or the fact that people say ‘ouchie’ when being thrown around by psychic powers. At some point I would like an explanation of where Hina and her powers come from, as well as what that bizarre flash forward at the beginning of the episode one was all about, but for the minute I’m happy with this as it is.

Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS

And it begins again. The vicious card game that has no other purpose than to torment teenage girls is back and again we all must question why anyone would want to buy these cards in the first place. We’ve got returning characters from seasons past, all new cards and rules and a battle to finally end the cycle of despair once and for all! But can anyone really stop the Selector battles, or will this franchise go on forever?

I have to admit, this may be the best WIXOSS season yet. Initially I was hesitant to watch this season, I mean I’ve enjoyed the past three seasons of WIXOSS, but they’re never been my favourite anime. Then I learned characters from the first two seasons were coming back for this one and I admit that got my interest and so far the series has exceeded my expectations. I am going to have to rewatch the first 3 seasons just to remind myself more of the details, but this season is really well written and has found a good balance of reintroducing bits of continuity while at the same time progressing the story. I love all the connections that have built up, as if this was the plan all along and I already know most of the cast so the show doesn’t need to waste time getting me invested in them. There’s a different feeling to this season, on the one hand the girls know what they’re getting into this time so they’re already aware their screwed before things even start. Also this time the girls feel a lot more proactive, they’re trying to find a way to actively fight against the force that is creating these battles and I am really looking forward to where this series takes that idea.

Food Wars the Third Plate

Yukihira Soma is cook from a small family diner, attending a cooking school for the elite. Over the past school year Soma has pitted his cooking skills against the best and brightest, but now Erina’s father is in charge and has plans to only allow cooking he deems as worthy in the school. With the advancement exam coming up, Yukihira and his fellow rebels face an uphill battle to prove that their own cooking is just as good if not better than what Erina’s father wants from them. Cooking battles don’t get any more intense than this!

I have to admit I love this show more and more with each passing season, especially after the way the last cour ended! I have been dying to see what happens next for months and so far it hasn’t disappointed. All that was good about the show before is still good, the characters, the animation, pacing, though my favourite aspect of this season has to be the development of Erina. Now I’ve never really liked her in previous seasons, the only enjoyment I’ve ever gotten out of her appearances where how Yukihira drives her up the wall and waiting for that inevitable moment when Yukihira finally shows her up and gets her to admit how good his cooking is. I did fear with the introduction of her dad that Erina was just going to become a damsel, a prize for Yukihira to obtain, but no. She’s actually showing some spirit, she’s fighting back and I find myself actually caring about what happens to her.

Libra of Nil Admirari

Tsugumi’s family is having money troubles and because of this she is being forced to marry a man she doesn’t know. After an argument with her younger brother, she finds him setting fire to his bedroom with a strange book in his hands. The book was cursed and apparently it’s not the only one out there. Tsugumi learns that she has the ability to see these cursed books and becomes a valuable asset to the Imperial Library Intelligence Asset Management Bureau (these guys really need a shorter name), whose job it is to deal with these books. With her marriage put on hold Tsugumi finds herself working alongside a bunch of handsome, if strange, young men (this in no way will lead to a harem *sigh*) and tracking down the cursed books.

After Code Realise I was willing to give this one a go, but so far this show is doing everything in its power to turn me off. Our lead female character is passive as anything, with her main power to be looking at things. Don’t even get me started on the evaporating marriage “Daughter you must married someone so that we can have the money to save the family! There is no other way!” “But Father now I have a magic power and must join this government organisation.” “Oh, alright then. We’ll hold off on the marriage.” Kind of makes it seem like the marriage wasn’t that important to begin with and just an excuse for the argument between Tsugumi and her brother, or a convenient bit of romance drama later in the series. Then we come to the Bureau, whose main method of finding cursed books is to, wait for this, walk around the bookshops each day and have a look. Really? That’s it? You’re a government organisation and this is your big plan to deal with books that can cause people to seriously hurt themselves! Arrrgggh! The way the plot of this show is executed is just excruciating. They don’t even explore the cursed books properly, they’re meant to be the emotions of the author at the time of writing influencing the reader, and yet all we ever see is a dark aura around the books and the reader just screaming some random things. We never learn anything about the emotional state the author was in, why they were like that, why that particular book became cursed. For something that comes from the emotions of the written word the shows demonstrates a surprising lack of an ability to convey emotions.

Caligula

Ritsu was living a normal and fulfilling high school life, until he heard a cry for help in the middle of the newest song from a popular idol. After that he gets a strange feeling, like something isn’t quite right, but it can’t put his finger on what it is. Then, at a school assembly, people suddenly turn into monsters and start attacking him. Luckily another student appears, whose arm has suddenly transformed into a giant handgun. From there things get weird (sorry, that should be weirder) as Ritsu comes across people with digital effects in place of their heads and floating little mascots. The world is not what it seems and Ritsu will have to fight to get any answers.

Okay, you definitely need to watch three episodes of this show before deciding whether to follow it or not (It takes that long just to make even a semblance of sense). However I am enjoying the series and I am going to continue watching it, if only to find out the extent of what exactly is going on. Don’t get me wrong the show has it’s flaws, it thinks it’s smarter than it actually is, at least so far, and it’s a bit all over the place when it comes to explaining what’s going on and with its pacing. We’ve only just scratched the surface of the setting and the characters though and none of that has been so bad as to put me off so far. I’m looking forward to seeing where this is going.

Golden Kamuy

Former soldier “Immortal” Sugimoto is searching for gold, but happens across the story of a group of escaped prisoners, each with a series of tattoos that when combined lead to a lost treasure. With the help of a Ainu girl, Sugimoto hopes to be the one to uncover the treasure, but not only will he have to track down and defeat the former prisoners, there are others after the treasure. Including some of the strongest and most feared soldiers in Japan at that time. Just how “Immortal” is Sugimoto? He may just be about to find out.

Cooking with the Ainu! I joke, but this show makes a pretty good survival skills tutorial, showing how to lay traps and make meals out of what you catch. Not what I was expecting from the show, but I’ll go with it. Not that cooking and survival skills are the only aspects of this show, we do also have the plot to deal with. With regards to that, so that the show has really just introduced the core concept and been introducing a wide variety of eclectic characters, all of whom I’m interested in. I also like Sugimoto as our main lead, he’s a badass, but not all the time. He can joke and panic like anybody else and has a tendency to get through situations through a mixture of clever tactics and blind luck. Asirpa is also interesting and I love learning about new cultures so having her as a window into the Ainu culture is really great.

Last Period: the journey to the end of the despair

In a world threatened by monsters known as Spirals, there are those who defend the peaceful days of ordinary people, they are the ones who call themselves Periods (for some reason). When the 8th Squad HQ is shut down due to all their treasure being stolen, Haru and his friends are the only Periods left working for them. Now they must do as many jobs as possible to rebuild the 8th Squad, but they have more than Spirals and strangely identical mayors to deal with. There’s also the shady group known as Wiseman! Though, if I’m honest I’m more concerned about the fourth wall. They keep chipping away at it as they are and the whole thing might just crumble.

I realise comedy is a subjective thing and there are probably people out there that find this show sweet and charming. I mean in the grand scheme of things it’s a relatively harmless, average show. The characters are pretty flat and don’t have much outside of their one assigned character quirk and the setting isn’t exploded or developed all that well. This anime is very much an advert and lives and dies on its humour. Unfortunately for me the humour in this show is like a shambling half-dead corpse, lurching towards its own grave (sorry for that image, but that’s the mood this show has put me in). This show’s version of comedy tends towards reference humour, meta and otherwise to the fact that this show is based on a game and general anime jokes. The joke it likes to tell is lamp shading the tropes it likes to use and how generally shody and poor the show is, now lamp shading can be funny, in moderation, but when you keep doing it over and over again the only thing I think is ‘yeah, actually they’ve got a point, this is pretty shody and poor’, which I don’t think is what they were aiming for. That’s the problem with the jokes here, they’re way too repetitive and predictable. I’m out on this one.

Well, there are actually a lot of really good shows this season, but I’ve rambled on for long enough so I’ll leave it here. Back next week for a full series review!

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.