Anime Corner: My Hero Academia (Season 4 Episodes 78-88) Review

Blog MHA Season 4 Part 2 Review Title

Saving Eri Part 2!

What’s the Story?

After battling against the Shie Hassaikai, the students of U.A. finally have a chance to rest, but even though the day was saved some wounds have yet to heal. Eri, the girl who was trapped in the clutches of Overhaul, has yet to learn how to smile. What better time could there be for a school festival! As Class 1-A decide to put on a concert to lift the spirits of the other students, Bakugo and Todoroki are put to the test to earn their provisional licenses. Yet even as happier times return, there is a dark shadow growing in the distance, from the depths of the Internet comes a challenge unlike any other for U.A. That’s right! This time the greatest evil comes for U.A., a Youtuber! Does Modoriya stand a chance against the elastic might of this ‘gentle’ criminal?

The Review

And we’re back! It’s time to continue my review of My Hero Academia Season 4, are you excited? Because I am!!! (Seriously, I know I left last week’s review on a bit of a dour note, you can read it HERE, but I am pumped for this section, there’s going to be so many exclamation points I’m worried I might wear out the button on my keyboard!). I’ll let you in on a secret right here and now, I still hold to the idea that the sports festival through to the Hideout Raid arc are the best that MHA has to offer so far, but one of my favourite arcs outside of those is the School Festival arc! That’s one of the arcs that this section of the anime is adapting! Okay, now I feel like people are looking at me funny, or at the very least looking at their screens funny as they read this, the School Festival arc? Really? I know, I know, it’s basically a filler arc. The stakes are pretty much miniscule, with Midoriya having to protect the titular school festival from a villain who is the least nefarious MHA has ever produced, he’s basically an attention hog. Also Midoriya gets to practise a new move. That’s pretty much it, but I love every minute of it.

The School Festival arc just appeals to me on so many levels. On the one hand this whole second half of Season 4 feels like a return to what MHA does best. We’re got more screen time for the majority of Class 1-A, more interesting explorations of the world this series is set in and some top notch action and spectacle. It’s what I want from this series and I think binge-watching this last half of the season all at once really helped it (it’s been an interesting experiment, watching the first half of this season weekly and this half all in one go, the difference is astounding. MHA really needs to be binged, the emotional beats work best when they’re hitting you one after the other and that doesn’t happen when there’s a week’s gap between episodes).

There’s tonnes to dig through with this series, which is part of why I love it so much, but the first thing that really struck me was the idea that each generation’s quirks get stronger and stronger, and the effect that has on the kids of said generation. I’d love to see that explored more and it opens up the possibility that the world of MHA is heading towards a bigger disaster than any of us ever thought. Admittedly this season doesn’t do much with the idea, and maybe this is my foreknowledge speaking again because I know it’s important to a certain character to come, still it’s a really interesting idea to mull over and I’m surprised more superhero series haven’t thought of it before.

The second thing that struck me was Gentle’s backstory, he only ever wanted to be a hero, he only tried to help, and things went disastrously wrong. Obviously this is why things like provisional licences exist in the first place, but it was the reaction that struck me the most. People spray painting ‘trash’ on his wall, his mum screaming at him. Imagine if that had happened to Deku. What if at the very start of the series Deku’s actions trying to save Bakugo got a hero hurt? Would he have gotten the same treatment? It’s ideas like that that are the reason Gentle Criminal is one of my favourite antagonist (I can’t keep calling him a villain, he’s not) in the series so far. Not only is Gentle incredibly likable, he’s always fun when he shows up and he has a really interesting power, but, for me, he’s a dark reflection of what Midoriya could have been and I always love those types of antagonists. I love his fight with Midoriya and it’s heart-breaking when Deku has him pinned and La Brava’s there pounding her fists on Midoriya’s begging him to let him go.

Add on to that the stunning animation for the actual school festival performance, a song by Chrissy Costanza and Eri’s adorable smile and is it any wonder I love this half of the anime so much? I’ll admit there’s a bit of a drag in the middle of this half of the season, the anime is stretching two volumes worth of content (which normally takes me about an hour each to read) into four and a half hours of content, but the binge-watching helped with that. Overall I’d say the second half of My Hero Academia Season 4 is much stronger than the first, even if the stakes are lesser and the action isn’t as epic as what’s come before, the world and the characters of MHA are still some of the best in shonen. If you did watch it weekly and were disappointed, I’d recommend watching it again, but as a binge this time. Or if you don’t want to spend that kind of time, just make sure to binge-watch season 5 when that comes out.

Now, of course, there’s one last arc to talk about, the Pro Hero arc! Focussing on Endeavour and introducing Hawks! I like Hawks, Hawks is cool, he’s…he’s…he’s a murdering bastard! I’ll kill you Hawks! I will! After what you did! How could you!

Sorry, had a bit of a moment there. I’m calm now and no I’m not going to explain what that was about, spoilers! Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the Pro Hero arc! Honestly, I get the thought process behind it, it’s the season finale and you want to send everyone off on a big flashy fight, but cramming everything into two episodes? Really? I mean it’s going to make the start of Season 5 awkward as that now has to deal with all the aftermath of said fight, rather than starting fresh. Then comes the actual fight itself and surely the School Festival could have lost an episode to this the showdown between Endeavour and High-End a bit more room. I hate to be that guy, but I felt the impact of that fight so much more in the manga, admittedly because I could read it at my own pace, but then pacing is really the Achilles heel of this season isn’t it? Still the action itself is top notch MHA and, without my experiencing it in the manga first, this’ll probably be amazing to watch.

The Verdict

All in all, My Hero Academia Season 4 is definitely the weakest season so far, admittedly that’s only because the previous seasons have been so good (later half of Season 3 notwithstanding). There are clear pacing and production issues throughout the series that rub off some of the lustre and the arcs themselves aren’t the best the series has ever put out. The Shie Hassaikai arc is trying to be different and it’s not for everyone and, as much as I love it, the School Festival arc isn’t the most important or impactful story. However, I still love this series, I love it’s characters and it’s world and that it gets me to question things and really think about what it’s trying to say to me. I will continue to watch this show, I’ll just stick to binge-watching it in future.

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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 or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.

Anime Corner: BOFURI: I Don’t Want To Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense Review

Blog Bofuri Review Title

And Lo! The Great Beast brought destruction to all, and all who heard its name did tremble. That name, is Maple!

What’s the Story?

Kaede is a novice gamer, but her friend Risa, who’s an absolute pro at gaming, has finally convinced her to buy the new VRMMO ‘New World Online’. Unfortunately Risa can’t join in straight away and Kaede is left to create her character all alone, and since she doesn’t want to get hurt she decides to pour all of her stat points into defence. In that moment a monster is born. No one realises it yet, but Kaede, now going my Maple in game, is about the change the whole landscape. Whether it’s the odd, near god-like abilities she finds or the even stranger ways she decides to use them, New World Online has just found its end boss. All hail Maple! The cutest OP monster we’ve ever seen!

The Review

I’m not even joking with that description of this series. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that at first glance I completely dismissed this series. Really? Another overly long-titled anime about some OP protagonist walking their way through a fantasy world (game or otherwise)? Has that well not become completely bone-dry by now? Apparently not, because after the first couple of episodes I started hearing good things and I finally decided to check this show out. I’ve been having a blast ever since! Bofuri is proof that it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s how you do it. This show is fun through and through, it takes a concept that has been done to death, where the only originally is what gimmick will be thrown at it next, and turns it into something creative and surprising. Maybe you came for the cute character designs, or to check out what game mechanics are employed, but you’ll stay to see what crazy idea is going to pop into Maple’s head next.

Maple herself has to be one of my favourite protagonists I’ve seen in a while. She is just joy personified, she’s having such fun coming up with all these crazy ideas and finding unique ways to combine her powers that you can’t help but share her enthusiasm. I’ll admit I gave up on games a long time ago, it was either that or cut back on anime and movies and that’s never going to happen, so games went. Watching this show though has had me itching to play New World Online (if someone isn’t already working on making a real world version of this game then you need to, right now!). I want to explore that world and see what I can up with, also I’d quite like to join her guild, Maple Tree, because it’s full of kooky and unique characters outside of Maple herself. I suppose what I love most about Maple is that despite how OP she is, I still worried for her. The series proves that while Maple may be the stoutest fortress that no mere mortal can ever conquer, she’s not invincible. She can be hurt and there are other OP players in the game or situations that can put her on the back foot (also the fact that the developers of the game purposefully nerf some of her powers when she’s getting too out of hand for them, another thing I loved this show for doing).

That’s part of what I love about this series so much, it’s not about how powerful Maple is, it’s about how she chooses to use that power. When Maple comes into a situation I’m not thinking about how powerful she is, I’m thinking about all the skills she has and trying to guess what kind of new combination she’s going to come up with to get out of things this time. It puts creativity at the forefront and I absolutely love that! The other character come up with some pretty creative abilities and strategies themselves, none of them are as outside of the box as Maple’s, but they’re fun to watch. I especially love Risa’s (Sally in game) battle against the underwater boss. I was getting some serious Legend of Zelda nostalgia vibes during that fight, and while the animation is serviceable for the most part, it knows how to step up for a big action moment.

I’m not really sure what else to talk about with this series. There are some really interesting mechanics to the technology of Bofuri, especially with how the game can compress time, which could have some amazing implications if it were real (as Lynn, the Otaku Author, talked about over on his blog). The actual world of New World Online online is decent enough, there’s some cute settings and monster designs, but they’re a little bit on the generic side. As I’ve mentioned multiple times time, the joy of this game comes from all the freedom it offers you in character build and combining skills. That’s really the core appeal of this series for me, the joy of creating, looking at a set list of rules and finding ways to apply them in new and inventive ways. If you want to see a world like that, or just want to meet an OP protagonist that is incredibly fun, then you need to check this show out.

The Verdict

In the end, BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense, rises above what you might think of it. It starts off with an overpowered protagonist and a gimmick, as so many anime do these days, but it applies them in a fun and creative way. That’s this anime in a word really, fun. Trying to guess what Maple is going to come up with next has brought me an immense amount of joy over the twelve episodes of this series and I am so looking forward to a second series! It’s title isn’t even a proper summation of the series by the end of it and I love how much it’s managed to surprise me. If you want to be surprised too, then you definitely need to be logging into this series!

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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.

 

Anime Corner: Fate/Grand Order- Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia Review

Blog Fate Grand Order Babylonia Review Title

All Hail the King!

What’s the Story?

Humanity is facing extinction! When the Chaldea Security Organisation built its facility high in the mountains, it did so with one purpose, to watch over the safety of humanity’s future. Now that future has vanished and seven singularities have appeared across time, corrupting key moments in history to their bleakest possible outcomes. It’s up to the last master of Chaldea, Fujimaru, and a demi-servant with an unbreakable shield, Mash, to travel to these times and correct the course of history, only then will humanity’s future return. They’ve already cleared six of the singularities and now it’s down to the seventh and final one, which will take them to the Age of Gods in ancient Mesopotamia and a city ruled by King Gilgamesh.

The Review

It’s hard to know where to start with this series, like most things connected to the Fate franchise, it’s complicated. I suppose I should start with a warning, if you’ve never watched anything from Fate before, especially if you’ve never even heard the name ‘Fate Grand Order’ before, DO NOT START WITH THIS SERIES! Anyone going into this franchise should be forewarned that they’re going to be exposed to a metric tonne of back-story and lore (which is perfectly fine, Fate can be a bit of beast at times, but the majority of series in the franchise are more than worth it. If you’re looking for a good place to start I’d either suggest ufotable’s Unlimited Blade Works or Fate/Zero). Fate Grand Order though is another level entirely, not only does it have all the lore and history behind it, but this series is also an adaptation of a mobile, more specifically one of the later levels of a said mobile game. There were times watching this series when I felt like I’d walked into the final season of a show and missed the previous half dozen seasons entirely (which I suppose I have in a way). I’ll admit it, I’ve never played the Grand Order game, in fact my only prior experience with this part of the franchise is the movie, Fate/Grand Order: First Order, which I enjoyed but it did feel like one big advert.

So, with all that being said, watching this series was probably some huge mistake right? Well, this is where it gets complicated, because I really, really, really, really, really, really liked this show. I still feel like I barely know Fujimaru and Mash as there are clearly parts of their arc that I’ve missed, but if you’re looking for epic action and characters then you need look no further. Part of what’s always attracted me to the Fate series, heck it’s the main reason I keep coming back to this franchise, is the idea of all these heroes of legend coming together to duke it out. You want to see gods going head to head in a battle for the fate of humanity? You want heroes from across the ages making their last stands against nightmarish monsters? This show has all that and more! It’s a roller coaster of some of the best action I have ever seen put on my laptop screen and larger-than-life characters who will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. I’m sure there’re tons of in-jokes that I’m missing (personally I’m still trying to work out why Jaguar Warrior was Taiga in a onesie, yet at the same time she was completely insane and had me laughing my head off every time she appeared), but I just don’t care. This show was so much fun and had me punching the air with joy every time a fight kicked off, which was the majority of episodes.

Now I don’t want to make this series sound like it’s just an action-fest, there is a lost of action and it’s all great, but it manages to fit in a lot of character too. Sure I struggled to connect to Fujimaru and Mash, because the show clearly expected me to already know them, but every other character was introduced for the first time here (or at least this version of them is new to me). Let’s talk about Gilgamesh for a minute, I’ve seen him in plenty of series and while he’s always been an interesting character, this show’s version of him is probably the most interesting I’ve ever seen of the King of Heroes. This Gilgamesh is older, more matured and reliable, a true king to his people. It was fascinating to watch. Does he have an intricately written, character dissecting arc? No, not really, but then there aren’t that many of the characters that do. Most people we just get to know like a friend down at the pub, they might have some personal revelation along the way, but the series is hardly built around their arc, and that’s fine. These characters have so much personality and charisma already that the fun is just in being around them.

I love the way people banter in this series, the conversations are always interesting, if occasionally overly technical, but the comedic timing is next level. Sometimes people don’t even have to say anything, it’s just their expressions. My favourite scene has to be towards the end of the series, when everyone is gathered around for their big strategy meeting to discuss ways to defeat the big bad. They finally hit on an idea that might just work and all they need it this item that belongs to the goddess Ishtar. Everyone’s getting really excited, right up to the point where Ishtar admits she doesn’t have said item. Everyone freezes, except for Jaguar Warrior who’s stopped listening and is just dancing around in the background. The looks on their faces, followed by a cut away to Ishtar stood holding a tablet which read ‘I am the Worst Goddess’ just had me in stitches. I may just love this show.

The Verdict

In the end, Fate/Grand Order- Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia is a complicated series. On the one hand, I wouldn’t recommend going into it without prior knowledge of the franchise, this is definitely a series for the fans, and yet this series is so fun and action-packed that I really want to everyone to see it. It’s an epic adventure packed full of memorable and lively characters, titanic clashes of gods and heroes and some jaw-dropping visuals. I’ve laughed and cheered so much with this series, it’s unlike any other entry in the fate franchise and more than worth the price of admission.

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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.

Anime Corner: Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun Review

Blog Welcome to Demon School Review Title

Clara for Best Girl Forever! 

What’s the Story?

Iruma has a problem. He’s so kind-hearted that he absolutely can’t say no to anyone or anything, something his parents abuse the hell out of, literally. They get him to do every dirty and dangerous job they can think of, from cleaning the house to working on a fishing trawler, right up until their parenting reaches peak dumpster fire and they sell him off to a demon! You know what though? Going to the netherworld may just be the best thing that’s ever happened to him! Yeah, sure, Iruma now attends a school were the school’s song talks about how all humans are food and he’s surrounded by literal demons, but he now has a doting grandfather and actual friends! Will Iruma’s human origins be discovered? Will Grandpa Sullivan ever convince Iruma to ride in his carriage to school ever again? Will Clara ever stop being the best character in the show? To find out you must watch the show! (Though obviously the answer to that last point is no, Clara will always be best and I will fight anyone who says otherwise).

The Review

Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun, the show that has absolutely no right to be as good as it ended up being. I’ll admitted I enjoyed this series from the very first episode, but just like its characters it continued to develop and evolve until we’re now at the point where I’ll proudly proclaim this one of my favourite anime of the past few seasons! I’ve become invested in the lives and adventures of this kooky cast of demons. I live to see Iruma give that heart-melting smile, to see how Clara is going to drive Azz crazy this time and please, for the love of everything please, give me another musical number from Clara and her family! I know that the show doesn’t look like much at first glance, between the bright, contrasting colours and its often fairly cheap-looking animation (though there are a few moments where the animators obviously spent most of the budget, they can take a while to turn up), you’d be forgiven for thinking this show was just a bit of demon-themed fluff meant to only be watched early on a Saturday morning. The only real clue to how special this show is, is in the sheer amount of energy put into the performances and jokes. This show is ridiculous. It’s world is loud and completely over-the-top without ever breaking the series’ internal logic, which is a feat I just find fascinating.

The world of Iruma-kun is actually a good example of the series on the whole. On the surface it’s your fairly typical parody of Japanese schools, taking everyday facets of life and applying a Halloweenesque paint job to them. Japanese schools have clubs that students can be pressured into joining, well the Demon school has the Battlers, where senior students will straight up kidnap their juniors to force them to join! It’s ridiculous and yet makes perfect sense in the world that the series has set up. Iruma-kun doesn’t stop there though, no it likes to go a level deeper. Take dodgeball fro example, the students often settle things with dodgeball matches, but the show can’t just leave it at that, no it has to add in a bit of history where dodgeball is just a natural evolution from a game where demons would throw chain chomps at one another and even that was a result of trying to stop the endless fighting amongst demons. It’s completely unnecessary to the joke they’re setting up, but it adds a bit of flesh and believability to the world the cast inhabit and the series never looses that. No matter how absurd or insane things get, you believe that every single thing could happen in this world that has been created.

That brings me on to the characters and while Clara is obviously the best character ever, she’s such a chaotic bundle of energy that the loveable little gremlin instantly improves every scene she’s in (the majority of the best jokes belong to her stupid one-lines or crazy antics), but let’s talk about our lead Iruma. I know the exact moment I stopped thinking of this show as just fun and endearing and as something that I genuinely loved, it was the end of dodgeball match where Iruma was trying to rank up. There were plenty of good jokes leading up to the finale, with Iruma training to catch the ball and the match itself, but then the ending comes. It’s the moment were Azz looks Iruma in the eye and realises that all this time he’s been trying to think of a way to help Iruma win, when in fact he should have been giving this match his all. Iruma is trying his hardest and so should he! Suddenly the show is taking things seriously and that moment when Iruma not only catches the ball, but throws it back at Azz is epic and worthy of any shonen series. The series is peppered with epic and touching moments like this, yet it never loses its sense of humour or energy, it knows how to keep everything in perfect balance.

The greatest strength of this series though, has to be how it lets its character grow and develop. Iruma starts out the series terrified of all those around him, his only goal being to hide and make as little impact as possible. As he gets to know the demons around him though and make friends, he begins to change. He starts looking for goals of his own and puts effort into doing things that he wants to do. His determination is put to the test again and again and he rises to meet each challenge, and all those demons he befriends begin to change as well. It warms the heart this series and trying to compare the characters from the beginning of this series to the end is like night and day. Bring on Season 2!

The Verdict

Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun is a show that doesn’t look like much, but if you’re willing to spend the time with it, you’ll be rewarded with a well-written, energetic comedy that will have you laughing and cheering to no end. The characters are all extremely lively and endearing and watching them grow and develop across the series is an utter joy. I can’t wait for Season 2 I had so much fun with this series, definitely the best comedy I’ve watched in a while. So what are you waiting for? Get your soul sold to a demon and come join us in the netherworld! Fun is a guaranteed!

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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.  

Anime Corner: My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising Review

Blog MHA Heroes Rising Review Title

Okay, and how does UA avoid being sued into oblivion this time?

What’s the Story?

UA’s Class 1-A have set up their own agency! Wait, what? Ever since the fall of All Might, villains have been on the rise and, in an effort to accelerate the training of the next generation of heroes, Class 1-A have been charged with taking over hero operations on Nabu Island! The resident hero has recently retired and while they’re still looking for a replacement there’s a need for a hero on the island, okay, not really. Nabu Island is a quiet, peaceful little slice of heaven that is virtually crime-free. Most of what the students have to do is recharge batteries and help old ladies get about, it’s an easy job that can’t go wrong in any way whatsoever. I mean it’s not as if four very powerful villains are about to crash a ferry into the island and push each of the students to their absolute limit, right?

The Review

And I’m back to talking about My Hero Academia! I know the current season of the anime hasn’t ignited the fanbase as much as previous seasons and there are plenty of legitimate complaints about how the adaptation has been going this time around (personally I’ve stopped watching the series weekly and I’m going to try binge watching the School Festival arc, see if that’s a better viewing experience), but I’m not here to talk about that today. By miracle of miracles I actually managed to catch an anime film while it was in cinemas! (I’m on a roll of late, this and Stampede. Normally I’m stuck waiting for a DVD release). I’ll say this now, if your interest in the franchise has been waning at all with season 4, check out this movie, because it certainly revitalised me! So many good moments, from quiet little scenes to epic brawls and, what’s this? The whole cast gets to share the spotlight?! What kind of magic is this?!!!!

When I talked about the first MHA movie (HERE), I talked about how a lot of movies tied into an ongoing series often feel inconsequential. The first movie got around that with fanservice (the good kind), unfortunately this movie doesn’t quite manage that. Oh there’s plenty of references to things in the series and appearances by major heroes (some who have yet to appear in the anime), as well as the League of Villains, but there’s the definite feeling that what happened in this movie will never be spoken of again. However, that’s only because this movie decides it wants to tackle another problem I often have, particularly with shonen movies (I’m looking at you One Piece). When there’s a large cast a play in a series, shonen movies will often push characters off to the side and focus solely on a couple of central players, which is fair, there’s only so much you can fit into a feature’s run time. Doesn’t stop it being annoying though when some of my favourite characters hardly get anything to do and almost never square off against the lead villain’s lieutenants (again, One Piece, I’m looking at you).

MHA: Heroes Rising doesn’t have this problem though. It manages to tell an effective, well-paced story while at the same time incorporating each and every member of Class 1-A into the action (Okay, the invisible girl does practically nothing, but we can’t have everything can we). I don’t just mean a token demonstration of their powers either, they are neck-deep in the fighting from the get go, teaming up to take on bad guys or deliver solutions to problems. From Sero and Uraraka giving it their all against the lead villain to Tokoyami and Ashido taking on one of the villain’s lieutenants, there was some amazing action and a great showcase of the class as a whole. Also, on a side note, I love Todoroki using the lessons he’s being trying to learn about his fire powers and applying them to his ice powers to take on the other lieutenant. That was epic (though now I think about I don’t think the anime has got to that point of Todoroki’s training. When is this film supposed to be set?).

Of course, somebody needs to be the headline act even if everyone else is getting attention and, for this film, that act is the devastating duo of Midoriya and Bakugo (as all the promotion for this film made very clear). It’s a testament to the character development of Bakugo that, whereas at the beginning of the series I viewed him as little more than a bully, I can now root and cheer for him alongside Deku. Heck, the mere fact that Bakugo is willing to fight alongside Midoriya is proof of how far he’s come. It’s also great to see Midoriya and Bakugo’s differing hero philosophies working alongside one another. Bakugo’s ‘I will win every fight’ works well with Deku’s ‘I will save every person’, which is really what this whole film is about. Enough of the characters we already know though, how do the movie original characters hold up?

They’re okay. Honestly the majority of original characters in this film can be best described as ‘fit for purpose’. The villagers are all nice and sweet and you can see why the kids of Class 1-A have bonded with them and you feel the fear as they all sit huddled in blankets wondering when the villains will attack next. The villains are much the same, their powers aren’t that creative, but they’re an imposing threat for the students to tackle. When the lead villain, Nine, was just walking his way through all of their attacks, taking out the heroes one after the other, I genuinely felt worried. That said their motivations are things that the series has and will tackle itself, and in a bit more depth than this movie can manage. The standouts for me are the two kid characters who I really came to care about as the movie progressed, that smile on Katsuma’s little face at the end was perfect. Midoriya just became someone’s All Might guys and that was heart-warming to see.

Now, unfortunately, I can’t just praise this film. I do have a gripe, let’s talk about the ending. No spoilers here, but let’s just say Deku and Bakugo go super saiyan at the end of this film and I have many, many questions about that. I get it, they’d bigged up the villain too much in their attempts to have a threat worthy of a movie (another problem I’ve been noticing with these shonen films. Don’t scale your movie villains up to impossible heights, it just means the hero has to pull a sudden power up out of their backside and those hardly ever work outside of Dragonball). My real issue, however, is with how poorly explained Midoriya and Bakugo’s power up is. Obviously it’s the middle of an action sequence so you can’t stop the film dead to explain, but even after all that is done there’s still no proper excuse. All Might says something miraculous happened and I guess that’s supposed to be all we needed to know. I still can’t decide if what happened breaks the series’ lore in anyway. It doesn’t help that the reset button gets hammered pretty hard after all is said and done, robbing the actions of any dramatic weight (not that there was any to begin with, we all knew the reset button was going to be hit).

The Verdict

All in all, ending aside, this is a fantastic movie. It gives every member of Class 1-A a significant job to do in the story, there’s plenty of humour and fun little character moments before the villains arrive and the epic action kicks off. Midoriya and Bakugo show that when they work together they are a near-unbeatable team and it really shows how far their characters have come. There are plenty of moments where I felt the danger the heroes were in and, really, I’d like to see more shonen movies handled like this. Just, you know, don’t think too much about that ending.

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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.  

 

Anime Corner: My Roommate is a Cat Review

Blog Roommate is a Cat Review Title

The Secret Life of an Author.

What’s the Story?

Subaru is an author, and a fairly popular one at that from what we see. He’s also incredibly shy and awkward around other people, as such he doesn’t see much point in going outside. He’s happy at home, in his own little world, writing his stories, that all changes though when he comes across a mean-looking stray cat that he later names Haru. Taking Haru in, Subaru finds himself pushed into situations where he’s forced to interact with other people. More than that, he’s forced to think about things from the point of view of another living thing and, slowly, he starts to come out of his shell. Haru on the other hand has been on the streets for a long time and is used to relying just on herself, but thanks to Subaru, she starts to understand what a home and family are like. Bring the tissues people.

The Review

Damn it, why do slice of life shows always do this to me? I go in expecting a nice, quiet relaxing show and then they go for the emotional jugular. I’ve been crying over a bloody cat and I’m not a pet person in the slightest! My family has owned several cats though and if I ever did decide to get a pet again, it would be a cat (I guess that makes me a cat person). Partly because they’re fairly independent and are happy to do their own thing and partly because they’re just a source of amusement. One in particular that my family looked after was bloody stupid and there were no end of times were I was wondering what was going on inside her head. That’s part of the genius of this series, not only go we get Subaru’s side of the story as he learns to care for and to love Haru, but we get Haru’s too and the series does an excellent job of explaining just what is going on inside a cat’s head.

A lot of the episodes are split in two, typically the first half will be from Subaru’s perspective as he struggles with some issue of the week, trying to cope with Haru and work out what she wants. Then the later half will be from Haru’s viewpoint and we’ll get the explanation of what she was thinking and it’ll end all heart warming and sweet. There’s only a couple of episodes were they do things a little differently and honestly, I was expecting the format to go stale after a few episodes, but it never does. The show always manages to come up with some interesting scenarios, but more than that the arc of the two main characters is just perfect.

At the start Subaru is completely withdrawn from the world, which is understandable seeing as he’s recently lost his parents. Where I do take issue with his character a little bit is the fact that he’s portrayed as a typical bookworm, bit of a loner, more comfortable around books than people, and yet he’s also a published author who never does any events and never goes out. As someone who’s had short stories published and is trying to build the foundations of a career in writing, I call that out, because in today’s book market you have to be a hell of a lot more gregarious than. That is only a minor quibble though, because once I get past that I like Subaru a lot. He’s a sweet, quiet guy who gets incredibly socially anxious, something I can relate to, although not on the level that Subaru clearly has it. It’s great to watch him slowly forge connections with new people and force himself to step out of his comfort zone. The flashbacks with his parents are always heartbreaking, but worth it as Subaru finally figures out what they were doing for him.

Haru on the other hand is the perfect bundle of cute and funny, while tugging at the heartstrings plenty of times. Having lived a long time on the streets, with two younger siblings to look after no less, she’s a very tough cat, or at least pretends to be. Her arc is about coming to accept that she has a home now and someone who will look after and care for her, even if she doesn’t fully understand her own feelings. Whoever originally wrote this must have been a cat owner as they get a cat’s mind down to a tee, explaining all the odd little things that they do. I personally love all the misconceptions Haru comes up with about the humans around her, from mistakenly believing that her name means ‘food’, to deciding that she’s the one looking after Subaru, then again she is in a way. Haru’s segments of the episodes were always my favourites, making me laugh and cry in equal measure, especially when it explored her past with her siblings.

Outside of Subaru and Haru there isn’t all that much to say. The side characters are all charming in their own ways. None of them are laugh out loud funny or that deep on a character level, but they’re good people and just the people that both Subaru and Haru need in their lives. The animation does what it has to, but never blows anything out of the water and the same goes for the soundtrack and the colour palette. The stars are Haru and Subaru, it’s their emotional arcs that are the hooks and the drive for this series. It’s those two that make this series as good as it is.

The Verdict

In the end, My Roommate is a Cat is a sweet, funny and occasionally heartbreaking series about two characters learning what it means to make connections with others. Both Subaru and Haru are the heart and soul of this series and do a great job of making it compelling as they make their way through their emotional arcs (and boy do they get emotional). If you’ve ever owned a cat, or are even just curious about what goes on inside their heads, then this is the series fro you. Thoroughly recommended.

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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.

 

Anime Corner: Dragon Ball Super: Broly Review

Blog Dragon Ball Broly Review Title

I am the Hype!

What’s the Story?

Many years ago on the planet Vegeta, before it was blown to smithereens by the cruel Frieza, there was a child born with extraordinary power, Broly. Fearing the child’s immense strength King Vegeta had him exiled to a desolate world and that should have been the end of the story, except Broly’s father, Paragus, followed him into his exile. Now, after years of hellish training, Paragus has trained Broly to be a wild, near unstoppable force, something that Frieza is delighted to hear. Meanwhile, on Earth, Goku and Prince Vegeta have been training ever since the Tournament of Power, preparing themselves for their next challenge. When Frieza shows up with Broly though, he may be too much for even the two mighty Saiyans to handle. Looks like someone’s going to need a miracle, oh hey the dragon balls!

The Review

I suppose I should say that this review is better late than never because, yeah, it took me a while to get to this film. It wasn’t that I was put off by it’s reputation or anything, every review I’ve ever read or listened to regarding this film has been glowing (and this one will be no different), but I’ve found myself in a weird place regarding Dragon Ball over the past few years. I grew up watching Dragon Ball Z, back before I even knew what anime was, and I loved it. As the years have gone on though I became more and more afraid of returning to Dragon Ball. Was my enjoyment just pure nostalgia? Dragon Ball was never the greatest in the story telling department and the Z era can pretty much be summed up as ‘and then they fought’.

Dragon Ball Super didn’t help. I gave up on that series very early on as I just wasn’t finding it interesting. I went back and watched a few key moments when the series was almost over and they were fun, but not enough to compel to go back and watch the whole series. I’d pretty much decided that Dragon Ball was just something I’d leave to my nostalgia, but then I found DBZA (again better late than never). The abridged series masterfully put together by Team Four Star reminded me of something that I’d forgotten somewhere along the way, the reason I fell in love with this franchise in the first place, the characters. I love these guys, from the world’s most dangerous idiot Goku to the actually really well developed Vegeta and all the side characters that barely get any screen time, these are all childhood friends to me. So, yeah, with that in mind I finally dragged myself out of the house and went and bought this film and you know what? I should have done it sooner!

This will surprise no one that has already seen this film, but it really is amazing. If Super had been half as interesting as this film then I’d have been glued to my screen week after week. What amazes me more than anything else is how much of a character film this is. I actually felt really sorry for Broly, something that I never did when I watched the original Broly movie (eons ago). Seeing the kind-hearted brute react to just the slightest bit of compassion and his growing friendship with Cheelai and Lemo really tugged at the heartstrings, so much so that I didn’t know whether to cheer or cry when the big fight comes towards the end of the movie.

That’s another shocking thing about this film, how little fighting there actually is. The majority of the first half of this film is taken up by actual story, we get to see planet Vegeta back in its heyday, seeing younger versions of our favourite heroes and villains, as well as a few characters that really should be more prominent in the series (do you think Goku even remembers having a brother anymore?). I mean we get to see Goku’s mother! Maybe it’s just me, it has been a while since I’ve seen any of the Dragon Ball films, but have we ever seen Goku’s mother in animation before? There are a few continuity changes here and there, Goku’s dad is a bigger softie than I remember and the Superman parallels are really being dialled up now, but I enjoyed seeing a bit more of Saiyan culture and what things were like on planet Vegeta (do you think we could get a prequel series set in this time line?).

All that being said, when the action finally does start, it really kicks things into high gear. The animation for this film is utterly stunning, from the vibrant colours and consistently on-model characters to the ferocious and fast-paced action sequences. Even when they switch out the 2D characters for 3D models you barely notice because everything is so frantic and explosive and yet you never lose track of what’s happening. For the animation alone I’d recommend watching this film it’s that good.

A couple of other little shout outs. The scene with Vegeta continually calling Goku an idiot was priceless, because the battle-brained moron really couldn’t get it into his head that Frieza was off doing bad things and would be back to do more bad things at some point! Speaking of Frieza, he is fantastic in this film, equal parts scheming, threatening and utterly hilarious, this is really the master villain at his very best. On a last note, don’t you just love how the dragon balls are now just being collected for stupid wishes, I mean, yeah sure, Oolong once wished for panties, but at least that was a spur of the moment thing to stop someone else getting a wish!

The Verdict

All in all, Dragon Ball Super: Broly is a fantastic film. Funny, heartfelt and packed with amazing action, it’s a must see for any fan of Dragon Ball and I’d recommend it to non-fans as well. Having said that, while the eventual fight against Broly is stunning, the focus here really is on character. We get to know what makes Broly tick in a way no other film has and you really feel for the gentle giant. Add on to that a glimpse into the past and a chance to see some of our favourite characters as kids and I have no fear saying this is my favourite Dragon Ball film, period.

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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.