Anime Corner: Classroom of the Elite Review

Blog Classroom of the Elite Review Title

Hope you’ve all done your philosophy homework.

What’s the Story?

Ayanokoji Kiyotaka is a melancholy and unmotivated student, or is he? He’s attending a government- established school for Japan’s best and brightest that has a 100% success rate in its graduates either going on to college or employment. Of course that’s if they survive, as the students soon discover this hi-tech institute filled with its own cafes and facilities isn’t the paradise they first thought. Here a studious attitude and achievement are rewarded with points that can be used as money, but on the flip side no points means no money. This spells trouble for Ayanokoji who finds himself in Class D, where the schools rebels and misfits are put. Yet Ayanokoji isn’t all he seems, can he help Class D rise to the top?

The Review

There must be something wrong with Japan considering it keeps putting its students in situations were they have to kill one another to get to the top (I mean I know psychopaths make good businessmen, but this is ridiculous). Then again there must be something wrong with the rest of us for there to be so many of this type of show to make it its own sub genre; it’s certainly popular. Maybe ‘wrong’ is the wrong word, twisted is better.

And yes, I know, so far in this series no one has actually died and the school faculty would probably frown on it (probably), but with the lengths the students are already having to go to get ahead I can easily imagine things getting a bit bloody if we get a Season 2. The best way I can sum up the series is Battle Royale but with academic achievement on the line, as opposed to your very survival (though I guess that depends on how import academic success is to you). There are some interesting scenarios like when the gang get stuck on an island and work to overcome the other classes without falling apart themselves, or when one of their number is framed and they need to find the evidence to provide their classmate innocent. There’s a clear focus on manipulation and chess playing rather than bloody conflict. That does bring up one problem with this series though, unless you’re wholly invested in these characters it can be a little, dull’s the wrong word, but the stakes could be higher.

I suppose the problem stems from the fact that this series feels likes it’s only just gotten going. There are only twelve episodes and no hint of a season 2 as far as I’m aware. We’ve just started to get to know the characters and there’s plenty of mysteries bubbling away, like why that Class B student has so many points and just what Ayanokoji’s past is all about. All of it kind of goes nowhere though. I mean what about Kushida and the reveal that her warm and bubbly persona is a mask for something far more dark and psychotic? Has no point whatsoever, doesn’t lead into anything, doesn’t affect any plot, it just makes her character a bit more interesting.

That being said it’s time for the saving grace of this anime, Ayanokoji. Now doing emotionless or distant characters can be hard (I’m sure I’ve said it before, if a character doesn’t care then why should I?) yet this series has settled on the winning formula. If a character doesn’t care, at least make them interesting and Ayanokoji is definitely that. He’s the master planner, working away from the shadows and getting everyone to dance to his tune whether they realise it or not. Of course there’s a tonne of mysteries surrounding Ayanokoji, why is he helping the Class aim for the top spot, what does he get out of it? Just who is he and why is he so determined to never get the glory? I suppose the really big question is if he actually cares about anything, or if he ever will? There are moments when you think that maybe, just maybe, there’s a tiny drop of compassion or concern buried under that deadpan expression. I mean would he really go to all of this trouble if he didn’t care? But the more you stare into those cold eyes you realise, no, this is just another part of plan.

They’re good plans too and while the situations themselves come across as a bit ‘been there done that’ at times, Ayanokoji’s schemes feel earned. They bend the established rules without seeming as if they’ve been pulled out of nowhere just to suit the character. It also helps that the other classes have their own schemers who can put together some clever plots for Ayanokoji and the rest of the class to get out of.

The series is well made, it looks good with bright and vibrant colours, the series is well-paced and though we don’t get much chance to dig in deep, the characters are all pleasant and play off of one another well. Now the series does slow down a bit during the island arc, which is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand the secondary characters get more of a chance to show their stuff, but on the other hand the plot kind of grinds to a halt. Things are moving but none of it feels consequential and there’s too much of the class getting along, which while necessary for the moment when things start to fall about, it does suck out the tension a bit. It would be better if this wasn’t the last thing the anime gave us before leaving (seriously why was this not a 2 cour anime?).

The Verdict

While Classroom of the Elite may not bring anything truly groundbreaking to the table, it’s well made and Ayanokoji is an interesting lead character, a master manipulator who may just turn out to be the biggest psychopath of them all. It’s incredibly fun watching him work his way out of the plots put together by the other classes and his victories always manage to feel earned. The series does stop just as it seemed to be getting going, so hopefully they’ll be a Season 2 down the line to see where this story is taking us.

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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: Restaurant to Another World Review

Blog Restuarant Review Title

One more serving please!

What’s the Story?

Once every seven days, walking through an elf forest or on a deserted cliff, you may come across a door. This door is seemingly connected to nothing, but if you should open it you will find the greatest of treasures. A restaurant! (Cue comedic pratfall) What? Where you expecting an exciting new dimension? A vast treasure house of jewels and gold? Nah, it’s a just a restaurant. A restaurant where the waitresses either have ram horns or happen to be dragons in disguise, you know, nothing special. So come on, be you an aging mage, a youthful treasure hunter or a lion-man, all are welcome at the Restaurant to Another World. Just make sure to pay your bill, remember we have a dragon, two in fact.

The Review

Restaurant to Another World is a good little series, it has a very sedate pace and is content to do it’s own thing. If you’re looking for action or fan service you’ll have to look somewhere else, unless you want food fan service (food service?) it’s got plenty of that. This series is really just a string of little stories exploring the characters of the titular restaurant two at a time, there’s nothing big and grand about it, but that’s okay because that’s not what it’s aiming for. It does make it a little hard to review because it’s like any anthology work, they’ll be some good and some bad and you really just flick through and find the ones you like. Admittedly Restaurant tends to have more hits than misses with its stories and while we may not get to spend much time with each character, all of them contribute to the world this series is set in.

It’s one of the things I really enjoy about this series, the world building. There’s no over-arching plot or thread tying all these stories together outside of the restaurant itself, but this series is an example of how to build a world. Each new character adds a piece to the puzzle and while at first nothing seems connected, further down the line a character will return in a role, or something they mentioned will become relevant to a new character. It adds to the world and slowly you see the map and the history filled in, it’s not important and it’s not essential, but it adds to the sense that this is a real world.

Also I like how the characters develop. We see changes in attitude and circumstance the more a character appears and the series draws just enough attention that you notice, but not so much it’s hitting you over the head. The best example I can think of with this is the dragon waitress (actually that is a downside of the series, I can’t remember anybody’s name). Anyway, the dragon waitress, she’s a person that has spent a lot of time alone and isn’t really that up on social conventions. A lot of the time she just talks to people using her telepathy, which is a bit unnerving for most. Over the course of the series though she begins to talk with her mouth and one of the best reactions is the chef’s whose is a mixture of shock and pride. He doesn’t say anything, just reacts and then we move on.

That brings me to probably the main reason you’ll watch this show. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Food has never looked this good. It’s not just the food though, the characters, the settings, all of it is fantastically beautiful. I especially love the colours and just how vibrant this whole show looks, it makes me want to climb through the screen and explore these places. If nothing else gets you, the eye-candy will.

One thing that does make me laugh about this show is how each and every customer turns into a food critic the second they take a bite, talking in detail about what makes each and every dish work. It’s actually the closet we get to this being a proper food show. Restaurant to Another World isn’t all that interested in showing you how the food is prepared or the thinking that goes into each dish (It’s not Food Wars), it just gives you a dish and let’s you enjoy. Which, depending on what you’re coming to this show for will either be good or bad.

There’s not really much else to say about this series. It does it’s own thing and it does it well, there will be at least one aspect that you should enjoy. Whether that’s the well thought out world, the sweet and charming characters or the stunning visuals. This is a series to sit down and relax to, then immediately go out to eat after its finished, ‘cause boy does this show make you hungry.

The Verdict

In the end Restaurant to Another World won’t change the world, but then it’s not trying to. This is a pleasant little series full of charm and thoughtfulness. It’s gorgeous to look at and a real master class in world building. Don’t come here if you want loads of plot (or any at all really) or even a detailed breakdown on how to make the dishes featured in the show, but do come if you want to just half an hour relaxing, soaking in a warm, fuzzy feeling.

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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: The Reflection Review

Blog The Reflection Review Title

Beef or Fish?

What’s the Story?

3 years ago strange lights fell from the sky. Many people died, but others gained special abilities, such as teleportation or the ability to make giant robots out of thin air (you know, your standard superhero stuff.). Now these powered people live in a world that hates and fears them, but it’s about to get worse as one group of Reflected, as they have come to be known, is set to enact a dangerous plan that will make the world their own. Can a ragtag team of heroes including the mysterious X-On, the uncertain Eleanor and the optimistic Lisa possibly save the day? Or will they fall into Darkness?

The Review

Okay, I’ll admit it, it was Stan Lee’s name attached to this project that drew me in. Well, that and it’s about superheroes (I love me some superheroes). We are very much in the golden age of superheroes at the moment (still), from the big screen to the small, to the new (Hey look at that, my review of Miraculous) heck even anime has gotten in on the act before now (My Hero Academia anyone one?). I’m still waiting for the day when the bubble bursts and though the not every superhero product is a hit, we’re still going. So is the Reflection one of the many hits, or one of the misses?

Miss, unfortunately, which is a shame ‘cause there are many aspects of this show that I actually like. I mean for starters the story is kind of generic and has many, many shades of superhero stories we’ve heard before. A group of people suddenly developing powers, people who are hated and feared because of their differences (X-Men), a evil group of these people turning to violence to gain supremacy over the ‘normals’ (Brotherhood of Evil Mutuants). The gathering of a team of heroes to fight the bad guys and put a stop to whatever their planning. It’s your bog standard plot, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of Marvel movies have gone on to the repeat cycle of late and I still enjoy them.

I have said it before, what matters is not what you do, but how you do it. This show does have some good ideas and good characters; it just doesn’t know how to use them properly. We’ve got X-On our mysterious masked hero who’s clearly happy working alone and I do like this mix of laid back and sarcastic commentary in dire situations, of course that’s when he speaks at all. Still, credit where it’s due, even through his mask I get the impression of the look he’s giving to everyone while this mad stuff goes on. We’ve also got Lisa who can turn her wheelchair into a giant robot with rocket boots. She’s the bubbly, optimistic one and even though she’s trapped in a wheelchair, that doesn’t mean she can’t fly. There’s I-Guy (cough Iron Man cough), a washed up pop star who due to his power (actually what is his power? I don’t think it’s ever actually stated, something to do with his voice and energy) can’t perform ever again. As such he resorts to using a metal suit and so that he can the spotlight once more.

Then we come to Eleanor, oh Eleanor. I do like her, I just wish she was better written. Her power is your standard teleporting power (well, I’ll come back to this in a minute). I like her arc though, going from this nervous, unsure young woman, searching for a place to belong with little control over her powers, to this badass who will stand up to the bad guys and actually gets pretty effective at using her powers. It’s a shame then that at times she makes stupid mistakes or poor choices just so that the plot can move along.

Sometimes I don’t even get parts of the plot and a lot of it comes down to the show either forgetting to explain things, or just not doing it clearly. We never get X-On’s backstory explained, which I could live with apart from the fact that one aspect of it is kind of a vital element of the show’s climax. What exactly are Wraith’s powers? He has dark lighting bolts, teleportation, illusions, transformations? What is his power set? Don’t even get me started on the main mystery of trying to track down the girls that the bad guys are kidnapping, where or how Eleanor manages to pick up on this trail and follow it is never explained, you know, outside of discovering it purely because the plot demands it! Let’s especially not go to the fact that the plot keeps cutting away to these four Japanese girls, building them up for the finale and then…they don’t really do much. A couple of flashy attacks, but they’re not exactly essential to the plot. It begs the question of what the point of it all was, especially when that time could have been better spent explaining things.

That brings us to the animation, which I think is the real nail in the coffin to this series. It’s very a very stylised show, but I don’t think that it’s a style that lends itself to animation too well. The style is very much about thick lines and solid black shadows. It’s very minimalist and there’s little to no detail in almost every character. Now on a page I think this would look very cool, but not in animation. Due to the lack of detail there’s a lot of scenes where things are just frozen because the characters are just standing around. It also affects the actions, now in animation you may just think it’s a case of you move and that’s it, but it’s not. Movement is about build up and release, a lot of the time there’s a bunch of little moves that make up a big one, for example if you were throwing a punch, before you actually throw said punch your fist clenches, your arm tenses and also moves back, before it’s finally thrown forward. Due to this minimalist style we’re missing bits of this and that makes some of the action fell sluggish or disjointed. Now there are times when the action works and is fast and impactful, but it’s not all the time like it needed to be. The muted colour palette also doesn’t help, making a lot of scenes look grubby and dark, when really I think this really needed to be a lot more bombastic and faster paced to get the audience’s attention.

The Verdict

In the end, The Reflection, is a decent if unremarkable series. It has some good ideas and characters, but they’re bogged down by a poorly written script and an art style that doesn’t suit it’s medium all that well. It has moments where the animation manages to capture the energy it needs or a there’s a witty bit of dialogue, but then the moment passed and we’re back to drab visuals and cliché plot decisions. On reflection, this series is one that can be given a miss. There’s certainly no shortage of good superhero content out there.

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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: Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Review

Blog Katsugeki Review Title

The Era of Swords

What’s the Story?

History is in danger. Mysterious figures known only as the Time Retrograde Army are popping up all across the timeline trying to alter the course of known events. From the future a man sends back warriors to protect history. These warriors are Sword Warriors, former spirits of famous swords, given human form and with the skills of their former masters. How does one protect history though? Is it just a case of making sure events go as they should, but what about the people caught in the crossfire? And what would happen if the swords were to meet their former masters?

The Review

Can an anime be saved just by looking absolutely fantastic? No, no it can’t, but this series gives it a damn good try and at least it’s pretty to look at. The animation for this series is done by ufotable and it is breathtakingly beautiful, as you’d expect with this studio’s past work. The action is blisteringly fast and well choreographed. You feel the impact the every hit and the sharpness of every blade. The character designs are crisp and clean and when they pan out to do a shot of the landscape it is just jaw dropping. There are so many scenes where I just wanted to pause it and pin that image up on my wall.

On to the actual story though, which is shame really because there isn’t all that much. To give credit were its due the story does raise some interesting questions and ideas, but unfortunately a lot of that stuff is in the later half of the series. In order to get to that you have to slog through a lot of fight scenes, which are great to watch, but not all that engaging. I struggle to invest in these characters, especially when they’re so overpowered and the enemies so vague. A lot of the ideas within this series revolve around two main points. The first being about what it means to protect history and how our heroes go about this. Do they just ensure that history happens as it’s supposed to without any questions? But what about all the people getting caught in the crossfire of their battles? Should they be protecting them? Even though in the grand scheme of things they don’t really matter all that much. It’s the only character development we actually get, seeing our heroes struggle with this and come to their own conclusion.

Of course things get a bit more stressful for our characters when in the later half of the series they actually start running into their former masters (which when you think about it in a time travel series was bound to happen sooner or later). Honestly the last few episodes of this series is actually the first time I felt invested in this series and these characters. All of sudden it’s not just long-winded musings and character banter, but there’s a conflict we can actually understand (I’ll have a tangent on this in a minute). Imagine you’ve spent your whole existence alongside someone, fought alongside them and were even there in their final moments. Now imagine that you suddenly find them in front of you again and you have to chance to talk to them, but you also have the temptation to warn them. It’s no wonder that most Sword Warriors avoid their former master in case they let anything slip.

It comes back to the question of how our characters are going to protect history, and just as importantly, where do their loyalties lie? This even causes some divisions in the group and more conflict. Now what did I mean earlier by understandable conflict? Let me jut say that the Time Retrograde Army are terrible villains. They are just faceless goons with no mastermind behind them. We have no idea why they do what they do or even how. I’m pretty sure the series tired to give us some explanation with that guy that turned into a bloodthirsty demon, but the series makes no attempt to connect this to the larger army or explain anything that’s actually happening.

It’s why I struggled to connect so much with these characters in the beginning, I mean they all appear nice enough people, but without understanding what they were up against or why things were happening, I struggled to see the point of it all. I just needed a bit of dialogue or a scene, heck I’d have settled for some narrator’s exposition just so I could have a bloody answer. It doesn’t help that the characters keep harping on about it and trying to work it out without ever coming to an answer. It’s frustrating and it was only because of the animation that I actually stuck around.

Another reason I struggled to connect with this series is that I have no clue about the Japanese history the Sword Warriors are trying to protect. The show doesn’t try to explain either, well not much, it just throws a bunch of names at you and the barest explanation as to the time period. I’m assuming this stuff is more commonly known in Japan, but for me it’s just another barrier between me and caring. What it boils down to is that this series is really just one battle after another until we get to the meat at the end and sometimes that feels like an awfully long wait.

The Verdict

Katsugeki Tauken Ranbu isn’t a bad show, but for me it’s a long way from good. The animation is gorgeous, as you’d expect from ufotable, but with a nameless threat and barely fleshed-out characters it’s hard for me to invest in what’s going on. As the series gets towards its end it does raise some interesting questions and has some heartfelt conflict, but it just takes too long to get to it. Unfortunately this is one history lesson I’m likely to sleep through.

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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: Fastest Finger First Review

Blog Fastest Finger First Review Title

Because the Question Is There! Renee Montoya? Where? (10 points if you get that reference).

What’s the Story?

Koshiyama Shiki is a shy and awkward boy. He’s often found more comfort in books than actual people, but one day he’s forced into an impromptu fast-buzzing quiz and discovers a new world, the world of quiz bowl! Now Koshiyama can put those considerable book smarts of his to use and maybe even build up some confidence and meet people he has stuff in common with. Still, it’s going to take more than a font of knowledge to become the King of Quiz Bowl. After all, it is fastest finger first.

The Review

Sports anime aren’t normally my thing, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this somewhere before, but there’s a couple of reasons why. The first is obvious to anyone that knows me, I am not a sporty person, unless you count typing, I must be a world-class typist with the amount I write (whether any of what I write is actually good is another question entirely). Second issue, all sports anime tend to follow the same formula. You either get a kid who’s full of passion and enthusiasm for a certain sport, but not very good, or you get a kid who’s shy and awkward, but has an unknown talent for a certain sport. Through circumstance and hijinks they end up falling in with a ragtag team and must work their way up the ranks, making friends, suffering losses and battling rivals all the way. Every single sports drama I have seen or even heard of follows this plot. They can be a bit predictable is all I’m saying, which I could put up with if I was interested in the subject matter, which due to the first reason I’m usually not.

Why am I talking about sports anime in regards to a show about quiz? Because this is a sports anime, that formula I just described? It’s here (they went for the shy and awkward option) and there’s just so much that screams ‘sports anime’ at me. Now I admit I’ve never really thought of a quiz as a sport before, but it fits the criteria, it’s competitive, there’s all sorts of rules and techniques and the characters are certainly passionate enough about it. That’s really how this series sucks you in, that competition and that passion.

This series does what all good sports anime do, it grabs hold of you, gets you invested in the characters and then has you sweating it out while you wait to see how this will all play out. Yes there’s a formula, yes you can predict what’s going to happen, but maybe this time it won’t, maybe this time there’ll be a twist. Then of course it all sticks to formula, but you share in the characters relief and joy when the inevitable happens.

On the character forward, while our cast may not be the most revolutionary of characters or have the most in depth back stories (well, there are only 12 episodes to the series), I still like them. It’s their passion that wins me over, because they really get into this whole quiz thing. It’s an easy way to get an audience to invest, because if a character is passionate about something, then we’re more likely to sympathise with someone because we all know that feeling. It also might, just might, make you want to see what all the fuss is about. Of course your characters have to be the right level of loveable and this series manages it, no one’s too weird or passionate to the point of arrogance. I do want to mention something about our lead, Koshiyama, while I know his archetype is nothing new, his arc is a really satisfying one. Going from the loner who struggles with others to this confident guy who will stand up for what he’s passionate about and let that become his driving force.

Of course this series is also really good at doing tension, letting it build and pacing every note perfectly. Most of the episodes just fly by as I get sucked into the contests, waiting for the answer to that pivotal question that will decide it all. It does help that they mix up the quizzes, so it’s not just straight question/answer, question/answer. No they throw in a variety of different rules and competition mechanics to keep things interesting, like playing in pair or being able to deduct points from other players. It keeps it interesting and then there’s all the different techniques that go into the quiz. It’s not just pressing the buzzer first, it’s knowing when to press and how to pick up clues from how the question was read to lead you to the answer. I do like how we get to see the character’s thought processes as well, we get to go through the panicking and the mad scrambling of deductive reasoning as they come to their answer. That also helps to build the tension and keep the excitement going. Also it helps show that our character’s aren’t infallible quizzing machines, yet.

On a last note, animation is really good. It doesn’t really get that many chances to stretch its muscles, but everything looks very clean and vibrant. It’s nice to look at and works well with the action. It knows just when to cut or hold on a shot to keep that tension and excitement going.

The Verdict

Fastest Finger First follows the typical sports anime formula and I doubt it’s going to blow anybody’s mind, but it’s a fun, fast-paced little show. The characters are all likeable and really passionate and that makes you care for them and want to see them do well. It’s also really good at building tension and drawing you into its drama. If you’re after something fun and fast, they’re worst anime you could watch. Also, it’s only twelve episodes long and while it makes it clear there’s loads more of story left, the series ends at a good enough climax to be satisfying (wouldn’t mind a series 2 though).

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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: Chronos Ruler Review

Blog Chronos Ruler Review Title

If I could turn back time!

What’s the Story?

Have you ever wished you could go back in time? To say what you never did? To do what you always meant to? Well be careful, because that wish may just draw a Horologue to you. They are monsters that feed on time itself and as all their victims eventually learn, once time is gone it can never come back. One of their victims is Victor, who at outward appearance looks like nothing more than a fun-loving, card-playing young man, if a touch absent minded. In actual fact he’s a lot older than he looks and the long-suffering young man who accompanies him is actually his own son. Victor’s time has been taken and his memories along with them, but is there perhaps a chance he can get his time back? Is there any chance I can get mine back so I never watched this show?

The Review

Fair warning, I’m going to rant in this one, also plot spoilers for those who care.

There’s nothing I hate more in a show than wasted potential and this show has that in abundance. I watched the first episode and I was really excited, it was simple, to the point, had a decent set up and a great twist at the end with the reveal that Victor is Kiri’s dad and not his brother. That’s a great hook, just begging for exploration and some top quality drama, but like every other aspect of this series (outside of the music) it throws it to the side and ignores it, instead making nonsensical jokes about eating pasta through your nose. I know there are worse shows out there, I know that this isn’t really worthy of my anger, but it just does so many things to annoy me I can’t help it.

Out of the many things this show doesn’t get, family has to be the biggest. I mean the relationship between Victor and Kiri is practically non-existent, I mean if they didn’t keep harping on about the fact that they’re father and son I would have forgotten long ago. They don’t act like a family, if anything they’re just a funny  and straight man routine. I can buy them as friends, friends that drive one another crazy, but friends nethertheless, nothing more than that though. There is so much that can be done with this, I get that Kiri has a tense relationship with his father what with his always being away on work or gambling, but outside of a few mentions nothing is ever done with this. As for Victor, with his memories gone, it becomes a question of whether he loves his son out of some familial bond that is still there, or whether he’s just with him out of a sense of obligation. That’s great, not seen that explored before in an anime, use it! But, no, again the show just mentions this and moves on to some unfunny comic relief (I’m glaring at you Blaze).

That brings us to Mina. Oh boy, where do I even start? She’s…she’s…okay I don’t have the words for what she is without listing a thesaurus worth of swear words and I’d really rather not put anyone through reading that. I hate her, to sum up. Also, just putting this in black and white, she is not Kiri’s mother. I don’t care what the show tries to hint at or claim by the final episodes, She. Is. Not. His. Mother! No mother would ever treat their son the way Mina treats Kiri. She’s horrible to him, constantly insulting and belittling him, she even threatens to kill him if he gets in her way! Mina’s whole character is just this screeching, moaning, banshee of a creature. She wants Victor to be hers and hers alone and is prepared to kill anything that gets in her way or between them. That’s not love, that’s obsession, a toxic obsession. There’s not a moment where I feel any kind of love between her and Victor, or her and Kiri. And yes I know she tries to save Kiri in the last arc, but I don’t buy that. Frankly the whole final arc feels so out of character for so many people, Mina suddenly being nice feels more like a plot point than actual character development.

Also while we’re talking about the final arc, yeah, real great development there, Victor spends the whole series telling everyone that they can’t get their time back and to live for the future. What happens the minute Victor gets a chance to go back and fix a mistake from his past? Why he says screw the future let’s mess with history! Ugh.

The final arc does bring me to another issue with this show. The pacing. It is, in a word, horrendous. At the beginning of the series the pacing is lightning fast, rushing over plot points and what should be dramatic emotional moments. It just crams plot point after plot point down you’re throat with more information than you can take. It doesn’t help that the fights aren’t very interesting. These guys have the power to control time on inanimate object, slowing it down or speeding it up at will and yet every move they come up with is just so boring. They turn what could be some interesting abilities and tend to just use them for the same old shonen-flavoured moves again and again. Then we hit the final arc and things just slow down so much. We all know what’s going to happen, Victor is having his little crisis of conscious, tempted to alter the past to fix one of his mistakes, up until the point when he realises the past is past and he has to move forward. Does he have to drag his feet about it so much? I wanted to reach through the screen and strangle him until he just got on with it.

The Verdict

In the end, while some people might just see the show as mediocre, Chronos Ruler has a way of pushing my buttons. The pacing is horrible, the characters even more so, the action is flat and boring, the story never makes any use of any of its interesting ideas and the animation is average at best. The only good thing about this series is the soundtrack and that’s not enough to save this one. I kept waiting for this show to get better, to make use of some of that potential I saw, but it never did. Save yourself the time and skip this one.

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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: Knight’s & Magic Review

Blog Knights and Magic Review Title

Okay, I know where to place the apostrophe can be confusing sometimes, but that title is…wrong.

What’s the Story?

When a robot otaku dies he is reborn as a boy in a world were giant robots known as Silhouette Knights are the main weapon of choice, mostly being used to fight off giant monsters. Now admittedly this point is forgotten really quickly and is only there to explain Ernesti’s love of robots and his programming talents, so yeah, kind of pointless. Anyway Ernesti’s obsession with robots causes him to rise through the ranks, all for the dream of building his own giant robots and pretty soon he’s in charge of his company of knights and has a nickname “The Demon”. Yet there is a threat on the horizon, no not the giant monsters or warmongering nations, no, there’s actually a weapons designer out there who is trying to move this world on to using battleships and other weapons instead of robots. The horror! Can Ernesti save the world before the Age of Robots ends?

The Review

This series should have been terrible. Looking back at the promotional stuff and the early episodes, this show should either have crashed and burnt or joined the ranks of the mediocre and inoffensive anime of 2017, quickly to be forgotten. I admit that if I didn’t need to write reviews for this blog I wouldn’t have given this series as much of a chance as I did. I’m so glad I did though because this series actually turned out to be one of the most fun series of the past few season. It’s the passion that sells this series, the more episodes you watch the more you get the sense of how much the people working on this show really love giant robots and that bleeds through the characters and into me. I mean I just love the fact that the whole finale basically boils down to two designers arguing over what’s better, battleships or robots, sheer power vs. cool aesthetics and Ernesti’s heartfelt desire to keep giant robots as the weapons of choice in this world.

Let’s talk about our lead, Ernesti. I’ve already mentioned how the whole past life thing is kind of pointless with how quickly it’s forgotten. As a character though, much like the show, he should not work, but somehow does. I mean there are so many things going against him. One, he excels at everything he touches, quickly raising through the ranks and mastering things that some people say should take years to learn. Two, he has the thickest plot armour of anyone I have ever seen. He wins everything single fight without breaking a sweat, in fact it’s not until we get to the last couple of episodes that he actually faces a challenge. It’s ridiculous, how am I supposed to invest in a character where I never feel that they’re in danger and they never have to struggle for anything. I never root for that character, because I have no need to, well, that’s how it’s supposed to go and with any other characters I’d be bashing them for this, yet I love Ernesti. Yes he’s unbelievable, yes he’s hard to relate to, yes he’s always five seconds away from a plan to win, but I don’t care.

What makes me care and root for Ernesti is, again, his passion. The kid loves robots wholeheartedly and when you see him go gaga over some new piece of equipment or idea he’s had it’s really endearing. It’s also funny to see all the other characters reacting to this little bundle of enthusiasm and energy. His passion is infectious and by the time that final battle comes around you’re cheering Ernesti as he fights for the robots he adores so much. Also can I just say the designs he comes up with for the robots are really cool. They’ve got some unique looks and yet still keeping it simple and appealing. There are also some pretty epic robot battles throughout the series, especially as Ernesti builds more and more of them. Admittedly they’re over way to fast, but they’re exciting while they last.

Speaking of the pacing, that is one this series’ main weaknesses. I don’t know the background of this series, but I get the feeling the production team wanted to make sure that they got all the content of this series adapted and just squeezed everything into their 13 episode allotment rather than leave it open-ended. Unfortunately this does mean that a lot of things feel either rushed or skipped over. A lot of the battles barely last a couple of minutes and even then they feel like they’ve been fast-forwarded. It’s especially frustrating when there’s been some good build up for a fight, spread across several episodes with one side or the other swearing their revenge. Then we finally get to the fight…and it’s over. Sorry, did I blink?

A lot this series feels like a highlights reel of a much longer series, with chunks of time skipped over to get to the good stuff. On the one hand I like that we’re getting to the action and interesting stuff quicker, but on the other hand I feel like I’m missing a lot of world building and set up. I mean I get the gist of what happened and there’s a narrator to tell me the important stuff, but we’re back to that old rule. Show don’t tell. When you just tell stuff like that, one, there’s a chance it might not sink in and, two, it doesn’t give me a chance to invest or believe in this world. Let me see things happening, let me work things out and come to understand how things work. Don’t just pass me a note and expect me to care. Also every time that damned narrator popped up it pulled me right out of the story.

And the animation front, it’s serviceable. It’s bright and colourful, the robots look cool and their 3D animation manages to mix with the 2D animation of the characters without jarring too much. It does kind of feel a bit cheap in places; especially when the narrator starts talking and we just have a slow pan of a backdrop as our only image.

The Verdict

This series has many flaws, so many flaws, from poor pacing, cheap animation and a lack of in depth world building and character development, but it makes up for that with its passion. You feel the characters love for giant robots and it’s very infections, so much so that by the time the final battle rolls around you’ll be cheering for our pint-sized super genius. The designs are cool and the fights are epic, while they last. If you like robots and can stick with this past the first few handful of episode you might just find something to enjoy. Robots are a man’s romance!

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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.