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: Lupin the 3rd Part 4 Review

Blog Lupin 3rd part 4 Review Title

Tonight I will take you…Lupin the 3rd

What’s the Story?

Lupin the 3rd, grandson of the famous Phantom Thief and world-renowned master thief in his own right, has an announcement to make, he’s getting married! Wedding bells aren’t the only things calling for Lupin though, with his trusty partners-in-crime Daisuke Jigen and Goemon Ishikawa, he’s got his sights set on many of Italy’s hidden treasures. Whether its palming the Mona Lisa, uncovering the secret plans of MI6 or even entering a battle of wits with the reborn Leonardo da Vinci himself, this time Lupin may have bitten off just a bit more than he can chew. Still, a good thief always has one more trick up their sleeve.

The Review

Back at the tail end of 2018 I watched Lupin the 3rd Part 5 and I fell in love (you can check out my review of the series HERE). As I said back in that review, the Lupin franchise has always been one that I’ve been interested in, I just never knew where to start after watching the Castle of Cagliostro. I had thought that Part 5 was the perfect answer to that problem, it was so good and such a perfect introduction/celebration for Lupin and all his gang, I want to recommend it to everyone. However, I have now found a flaw with this plan and that flaw is called Part 4. Now I realise this is purely down to my own stupid fault, but don’t watch Part 4 after Part 5, because you’ll do what I’ve been doing and directly compare them, in which case Part 4 will definitely come off as the lesser season.

It makes sense in a way, there are several parts of Part 4 that feel like a dry run for things in Part 5. The introduction of a new member for the Lupin gang and having them deal with over-arcing plots are probably the most noticeable examples, and the creative forces behind Part 5 clearly learned from the mistakes Part 4 made. It’s not as if Part 4 is a bad season, in fact it’s a lot of fun and I enjoyed it immensely, there’s just a couple of things I want to change. Let’s break this down though, I’ll try to avoid comparisons with Part 5 as best I can, but those thoughts are going to be in the back of head throughout this review and there’s a few things I need to get off of my chest.

Let’s start with our newest member of the Lupin gang, the master thief’s new wife, Rebecca Rosselini. I can certainly see where they were going with Rebecca’s character, but she hits the same stumbling block I’ve seen a lot characters hit when they’re introduced into a long-running franchise, namely she gets bigged up so much she starts to outshine the title character. I’m thinking in particular of the Venice-set episode with this, and I get how it happens. When characters are part of a long-running series it can be hard to find new angles to look at them through, so you introduce a new character who hasn’t been explored so much. The problem, that I’ve noticed, is that writers tend to then get so excited about their new character that they completely fall in love with them and forget about the characters the show is actually about cough Clara in Doctor Who cough (Sorry, got something caught in my throat there). Add on to that the fact that Rebecca is a spoilt rich girl with more money than she knows what to do with and she’s a hard character to invest in.

Having said all that, it’s not that Rebecca is a bad character by herself, it’s just that a lot of the time the show doesn’t know how to use her properly. I found myself enjoying the episodes when she was actually competing side by side with Lupin, like her introductory episode ‘The Wedding of Lupin III’, where she gets to play up her fun-loving thrill-seeker side and she has some good banter with Lupin. Yes she pulls one over on Lupin in the end, but it’s a pretty fair match between the two of them, which, for me at least, is what makes it fun. Then there’s my favourite Rebecca episode, which comes towards the end of the series, ‘I’m Going to Get You Lupin’, which features a fun sequence where Lupin and Rebecca have a conversation by leaving traps and calling cards for another as they break into a series of banks across the city. That’s when Rebecca’s at her best, when she’s challenging Lupin in a fair contest of constant one-upmanship, not when she’s the rich debutante who can do everything she turns her hand to so effortlessly. I come to a Lupin series for Lupin and his gang, Rebecca hasn’t earned her share of the spotlight, yet.

Enough about Rebecca though, she’s a big part of the series, but only appears in about half the episodes. The rest of the series is dedicated to standalone capers and the two over-arcing plots of Part 4. The standalone capers are a lot of fun and exactly what I came to this series for, even if I wished some of them where stretched out across multiple episodes. Some of my favourite episodes have to be ‘Welcome to the Haunted Hotel!’, ‘The End of Lupin III’, ‘Don’t Move the Mona Lisa’ and ‘The Murdering Marionette’ if you want my recommendations for this series.

That brings me to the over-arcing plot episodes and, yeah, I’m not the biggest fan of them either. I expected outlandish hijinks from a Lupin series, but I feel like the plots in Part 4 push things just a little too far. I mean Lupin vs. Leonardo da Vinci sounds like a fantastic idea and it certainly leads to some inventive and trippy imagery as Lupin wonders through other people’s dreamscapes, but, I don’t know, I was just never that invested in the story. Maybe it’s because Rebecca is a big part of the plot and she keeps being pushing into the damsel role, which is another side of her I’m not keen on. Then again we never really got to spend all that much time with da Vinci either, and, yeah, the guy was a genius, but I really doubt he could build, let alone set up all the stuff he needed to set up for the finale in just the couple of months he had. It just stretches my suspension of disbelief just that little too far. Also the less said about this series’ interpretation of MI6, the better.

The Verdict

All that being said, Lupin the 3rd Part 4 isn’t a bad series. A good chunk of it is a lot of fun, I’d definitely recommend all the episodes that I’ve mentioned in this review, but aside from that and a few other episodes, I’d probably just go straight to Part 5. They clearly learnt a lot from this season and implemented the corrections there. If you want to watch every episode of this series, that’s fine too, I’ve got this season on blu-ray and I certainly don’t regret buying it, I’m just likely to watch Part 5 more. Unfortunately Part 4 didn’t quite manage to steal my heart.

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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.

Anime Corner: Granbelm Review

Blog Granbelm Review Title

This is Granbelm!

What’s the Story?

1,000 years ago all magical power in the world was sealed away. Now, under the light of the full moon, candidates to become the one true mage battle it out for control of that power using giant mechanical dolls. There are those who wish to use the power for selfish reasons and those who wish to destroy the power completely, but then there’s Mangetsu, who very literally stumbles into this contest. Mangetsu believes that she has nothing special about herself and longs for that one thing that can truly be hers. Could becoming the one true mage be her special thing? There are certainly odder reasons to enter a magical death match, not many, but I’m sure there are some.

The Review

Okay, I’m just going to be upfront about this, I love this show and I mean the heart throbbing, head-over-heels kind of love, so be prepared for gushing (Honestly if it wasn’t for the existence of Given I’d be tempted to call this show my favourite series of Summer 2019, and that was a fantastic season). I don’t even know where to start with this series I love it so much. I suppose the best place would be why I think this show hit me so hard with Cupid’s arrow and it all comes down to one of my favourite anime of all time, Madoka Magica. Ever since I finished that series I’ve been searching for another dark magical girl series to fill the void, and while the subgenre has had plenty of entries over the years, none of them feel like they’re even the same species as Madoka (at least until the spinoff series came along this season).

Then this show comes along, completely out of nowhere as far as I was concerned. It starts off flashy and cool, with some exhilarating fights and lots of pretty visuals, as well as some nice characters (I really love the friendship between Mangetsu and Shingetsu, but more on that later), but the more I watched this show, the more I realised this show understood something that a lot of dark magical girl shows forget, it knows how to make things hurt. See, a lot of these shows about magical girls battling it out for their heart’s desire, or their wish or whatever are just that, battles. We watch the girls get killed off one after the other and oh isn’t it shocking, isn’t gruesome. Yeah, no, not my thing. Granbelm though, it gets that what makes a fight truly epic, what makes a scene utterly heart-wrenching, is the emotions behind it. This may be a show about magical girls in mechs firing fancy lasers at one another, but it’s also a show about these girls throwing everything into a fight, all their heart and it is something I truly adored watching.

Whether it’s Kuon battling to avenge her sister, Mangetsu going into a blind rage and activating her kill mode, or just Anna going on a psychotic rampage, this show is packed with emotion. Maybe it crosses into melodrama a few too many times, and maybe we could have spent a bit more time getting to know more about some of the characters, but I was enjoying the episodes way too much to care about that while I was watching them (that’s actually my definition of a good show, be entertaining enough to carry me away and not notice your flaws until well after I’ve finished watching it, which Granbelm did and more). Not that this series is all flashy action and big emotional moments (though there is a lot of action in this series). It knows how to do quieter scenes too, a lot of which go to Mangetsu and Shingetsu. I mentioned before that I love their friendship, and some of the quieter moments of them wandering around town are some of my favourites scenes. You really feel the bond between the two of them, which only makes the revelations towards the end of the series all the more heartbreaking.

Also I do just want to mention the score for this series, because that is fantastic as well. There’s all these big orchestral pieces and, especially towards the end of the series, I was really starting to notice them and they honestly made the last few episodes of this series feel so epic I could barely take it. I seriously need to track down this music. While we’re on the aesthetics of the series, let’s talk about the visuals as well. As I said there’s lots of action, and while the mech designs took some getting used to, the action is frantic and exhilarating from the start. A couple of times it’s a little too frantic and I lost what was going on in all the laser fire and brightly contrasting colours, but for the most part you feel the speed and weight of these mechs as they clash against one another. Admittedly sometimes a fight can go on for a bit long, you think an enemy is finally defeated and they’ll come right back at you with an even more powerful attack (seriously this happens so many times I was getting Dragonball Z flashbacks, you know, except shorter and without the constant reaction shots and talk about power levels). I never minded that though because this show so perfectly captures the epic feeling that it’s going for. Each battle feels like it means something and I’ve missed that feeling in so many other shows.

Now I started this review talking about Madoka Magica and I guess that raised the question of how this show stacks up against that one. Is this show as good as Madoka? No, not by a long mile, but it does at least feel like its in the same ballpark and that is something I have been searching for for a long time.

The Verdict

All in all, Granbelm is a fantastic series and I’d recommend it to everyone, even if I don’t think this is a show for everyone. It’s worth a watch at least. Yes, some of the fights drag on, the pacing is a bit of a mess and some of the character motivation is a bit iffy until you get to the proper explanation later down the line, but I don’t really care about any of that, because this show has me by my heart and soul. The fights feel epic and the characters are all loveable in their own ways (even the ones I love to hate). Give this one a shot because if you’re like me and it hits you in that sweet spot, you’ll have a really great time with 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.