The Promised Neverland, Season Two, Episode Three Review: Where Did You-Go?

3-stars-out-of-5
I was very excited for episode three of The Promised Neverland Season Two because it was supposed to be the episode where my favorite character in the manga would be introduced.
Alas, it was not to be.
I had heard rumors that The Promised Neverland would be going anime original before the season started airing but I had no idea it would be to this extent.
Not only was an incredibly important character from the manga missing, who, again, is my favorite character, but also many important scenes hinting at the future of the story were removed as well.
Since the episode aired, it has been pretty much confirmed that the rest of the season will be anime original and, honestly, I am very concerned about this.
If they had stuck to the manga then the story would currently be adapting my favorite arc of the entire story, so of course it is worrying to see this part of the story that I love so much being changed.
This could either go really good or really bad for The Promised Neverland Season Two.
However, I need to make it clear that, despite my concerns, I still enjoyed episode three.
Although, if I had not read the manga I would certainly have enjoyed it a lot more because my negative points about the episode mainly revolve around how the changes in the story could become problematic as the season goes on.
As for the actual episode itself, it is well done, with director Yayoi Takano delivering a good adaptation for what was kept, like the opening goodbye between the Grace Field children and Sonju and Mujika.
This part of the episode revealed a much darker to Sonju because it is revealed that he saved the children so they could survive and have children of their own, which he could then eat in the future since this would be in line with his religious beliefs.
Before departing though, Mujika shares a goodbye where we get our first removal of a vital manga scene, with an important line Mujika says being removed, the first of many such removals.
Then we get a brief action scene of Sonju facing off against the demons from the farm, which is pretty enjoyable, before we see the kids reach the bunker and the whole slew of manga scenes that have been left out becomes apparent.
It was honestly hard for me to focus on the rest of the episode when we got to the big scene where the important character was supposed to appear but didn’t.
This makes me concerned that his introduction being changed may damage his character arc somehow, if he hasn’t been removed from the story all together that is.
God, please don’t let him have been removed from the story.
In any case, now the kids have reached the bunker and seem to have a good base of operations for a while.
Or do they?
The cliffhanger of the episode has Emma and Ray finding a phone, much earlier than they do in the manga, and answering its call, while the other kids find deranged writings on a wall, which is thankfully a sign that the missing character is still around.
In any case, this cliffhanger with the phone does make me interested to see how episode four will diverge from the manga.
Fingers crossed that the anime original story Season Two appears to be going down is just as good, if not better than the original story arc.
At least in the next episode I will be expecting drastic differences this time around.
Overall, episode three is a decent episode, despite its changes from the source material.
I am concerned about the future of the anime, though.
Still, who knows?
Maybe it can surprise us.

Talentless Nana Anime Review: My Hero Academia Meets Death Note.

4 stars
Nowadays, whenever someone makes a
Talentless Nana reference, you can bet that they’re going to turn it into some kind of Among Us reference, like, “Pink sus!” or something similar.
Well, I think a much more suitable way of describing it (as well as not being having referenced to death) would be to say that, “Talentless Nana is what you would get if your merged Death Note and My Hero Academia into a single story.
Before I get into what this entails though, I would like to warn some who may have not seen the first episode of Talentless Nana to go and watch it before reading this review.
Trust me, you don’t want the entire surprise premise of this show to be spoiled for you by a review.
Still here?
Ok, so based off the manga by Looseboy, and directed by Shinji Ishihira, the story takes place on an isolated island, where children with super powers known as Talents are taken to be trained to fight the vaguely named “Enemies of Humanity.”
Our main character is supposedly Nanao Nakajima (Hiro Shimono), a one note, Deku clone, who I found it very hard to relate to because of how many times I’ve seen his character done before.
Enter Nana Hiiragi, a new student who supposedly has the ability to read minds and pushes Nanao to be more confident and eventually become the class leader.
Noticed how I used the word “supposedly” when talking about how Nanao was the main character and that Nana could read minds?
Well, the surprise twist of the episode is that Nanao is actually not the main character because Nana murders him, after revealing that she actually can’t read minds but is just really good at reading people.
Turns out that the Talented are actually the true “Enemies of Humanity”, and Nana has been sent by a shady government organization to covertly murder every single one of them on the island to protect humanity. 

I didn’t expect this twist and it instantly made the show 100 times better.

Before the twist, Talentless Nana looked like a generic, cliched, rip off of My Hero Academia.
Now though, it had taken a Death Note twist, becoming a murder mystery where we see the perspective of the murderer.
And, if Nana is this series’ Light, then Kyoya Onodera (Yuichi Nakamura) is definitely its L, as the antisocial, wannabe detective who begins to suspect Nana right from the get-go.
Their game of cat and mouse is entertaining to watch, and just as good is the slowly growing friendship between Nana and the insanely good natured Michiru Inukai (Mai Nakahara), an akward turn of events for Nana because she is supposed to kill Michiru eventually.
The character development Nana gains from interacting with these two, while still trying to kill them and every other student, is just great and delivers many fun episodes, like the two part “Necromancer”, “Survival of the Fittest”, and “Revival”.
As for Nana herself, I have to give major props to her voice actress, Rumi Okubo, who is able to portray the fake, outward persona Nana shows and her true self perfectly. 

Nana has different voices for her fake and real personalities and Okubo pulls both off expertly.

Along with this, the shows’ OP, “Broken Sky”, by Miyu Tomita, and ED, “Bakemono to Yobarete”, by Chiai Fujikawa, are also complete bangers.
However, there are a few issues with Talentless Nana that do hold it back a bit.
The first of these is the direction, which is, overall, nothing special for the most part, not that there’s anything wrong with this.   
One thing I definitely had an issue with, though, was the cliffhangers, or rather, the way they were constructed.
More often than not, an episode would end with some big cliffhanger, where the audience would wonder if Nana was about to get caught, only for the first few minutes of the next episode to resolve this cliffhanger with absolutely no lasting consequences.
This did get quite frustrating after a while and it made it hard for me to get excited for next week because I was sure that whatever cliffhanger we were on would instantly be solved in the following episode.
Also, the show had a bit of a problem introducing characters because it’s clear that the writer came up with them as they went along, with characters, who we have never seen before, showing up, only for the other characters to act as though they’d been there the whole time.
Still, this did not ruin my experience of these episodes and there really are some great scenes and twists throughout that had me eager to see what would happen next. 

Some twists, like the one in episode nine, do actually keep consequences and made me excited for what was to come.

In its entirety, Talentless Nana is a really good anime, with some fun moments and great character development, for its main characters at least.
Unfortunately, I’ve heard that the sales for the show haven’t been doing too well, so it seems unlikely that we will be getting a season two, which is a shame because the manga is also a blast.
You can expect a review for the Talentless Nana manga in the coming weeks. 

Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Six, The Warhammer Titan Review: Marley Receives a Grim Reminder.

4 and a half stars
After last weeks incredible adaptation of “Declaration of War”, I and many others were excited for the next episode of Attack on Titan‘s final season, the highly anticipated “The Warhammer Titan.”
Well, in my opinion, the episode did not disappoint, delivering on some epic action set pieces and some epic returns.
Directed by Atsuishi Tsukasa and Takahiro Kaneko, the episode follows up on Eren’s attack on Willy’s speech at the end of episode five with his own grim reminder to the people of Marley and the world at large, resulting in countless deaths.
Before we get to this, however, the episode thankfully begins with a flashback to Willy’s time before the festival and his inevitable demise at Eren’s hands.
I mentioned in my review of “Declaration of War” that it would be unfortunate if Willy’s flashback scene with Magath was cut because it explains the motivations of both men perfectly.
After seeing the episode, I can say that I approve of the writers’ decision to move this flashback to the beginning of episode six because it works much better here.
Not only does ir allow Willy and Magath’s prior actions to become understandable with hindsight but it also adds an anime only scene that sees Willy say goodbye to his wife and many children, knowing full well that this is the last time he will see them all.
Following Willy’s goodbye, which serves to make his character even more sympathetic than he was in the manga, we finally get his conversation with Magath, explaining their actions in the previous episodes.
Willy dying during the speech at Eren’s hands was a planned, calculated move by Willy and Magath to get the rest of the world on their side, and potentially the interned Eldians’ side as well,  by making those at the festival “tragic victims. Victims of an “unforeseen attack.””
Magath has his doubts about this because of the potential number of casualties but Willy counters this by reminding Magath of his bias against Eldians and how they will be among the dead so he just needs to do as he always has done.
This brings an unexpected reaction from Magath because, while admitting that he believes Eldians are the descendants of devils, he also tells Willy, “there’s no doubt that we are devils ourselves.”
His comment here shows that he is different from most Marleyans because they would go on about how much better they are than those “devil spawn”, yet Magath chooses to believe he is also a devil because of his actions.
He definitely still has his prejudices that need to be worked over, but he shows probably more self awareness here than any Marleyan we have seen so far.
With this comment, Magath and Willy shake hands and the screen cuts to black, before the chilling sound of Eren’s roar is heard, and the episode cuts to Willy’s mutilated body being eaten like a piece of popcorn by Eren’s Titan.
As the crowd looks on in absolute horror, Eren turns to look at them, with his horrifying face making him look the devil itself.
From here, Eren’s attack on the world’s leaders, and unfortunate civilians who happen to be in attendance, continues, as he launches himself into the seats holding Marley’s military leaders, including the lead one from episode two.
He wanted a flying Titan?
Well, he got one, as Eren jumps into the air and then crashes down on him and many other military officers, killing all of them.
Unfortunately, it is not just these military leaders that are killed but children as well, with Zofia and Udo also falling victim to Eren’s horrific attack.
Zofia is crushed under a rock, so at least her end is quick and painless.
Sadly, this is not the case for Udo because he is slowly trampled to death in a stampede by the fleeing crowd, with his head literally missing a chunk.
This episode really has distressing imagery, as was highlighted by the opening warning, and this is showcased perfectly by the arrival of the titular Warhammer Titan, who is revealed to be Willy’s sister, Lara.
She is not given much time to transform because Eren wastes no times punching her right through a building, and then repeatedly smashes her face in his with hardened hands, which is where the bloody imagery comes in.
I’m really surprised the bloody remains of the Warhammer Titan’s face wasn’t censored but, at the same time, I’m so glad that it wasn’t because it perfectly suits the dark tone of this episode and the story to come.
Hopefully, this means other instances of disturbing or gory imagery won’t be censored.
Such censorship seems less likely though because of how much darker the Warhammer Titan’s counter attack is than it is in the manga.
She not only impales Eren on a giant spike, like she does in the manga, but there is also an anime only scene of civilians getting crushed by the debris created from this, including the drunk and the store owner we briefly met in episode four.
This massive amount of destruction alerts Pieck and Porco about what is going on from their entrapment.
However, the two of them are not out of the fight for long because it is revealed that Pieck managed to alert the Panzer Unit to the mysterious soldier who trapped them last episode.
Now that they have been rescued by Pieck’s simp squad, the two warriors are ready to join the fight and outnumber Eren, putting him at a disadvantage.
At least, this was their intention but it definitely does not work out because, right before they can formulate their plan of attack, the Scouts fly overhead, having got Eren’s letter and come to help his attack.
This results in an epic entrance from Mikasa, as she saves Eren when is he about to be killed by the Warhammer Titan, with the hype declaration from Eren, “now or never, Mikasa.”
It’s not the happy reunion we would hope for though because Mikasa is horrified that Eren has not just called civilians but children as well.
Her tearful expression as she says this is a perfect adaptation from the manga, one that doesn’t seem to affect Eren much, unless he’s internalizing all of his pain caused by his own actions.
In any case, if Eren does have such feelings of guilt he has to push them aside to fight the Warhammer Titan, which has mysteriously recovered from its nape being blown up.
In order to have its true weak point exposed, Eren has Mikasa distract the Warhammer Titan in the hopes that he can eventually eat it, thus securing its powers.
While this is happening, the episode takes the time to reintroduce all of the scouts that we know and love.
Well, at least in the case of Jean, Sasha and Connie because there is still the morally questionable Floch around, justifying him and his squad’s attack on civilians by saying Eren is a devil, who’s example is one they should follow.
Jean rightly puts him in his place, after being epically reintroduced by taking down a, Marleyan soldier, which is unfortunately all in CGI, more on this later.
As for the reintroduction of Connie and Sasha, this takes an even darker route, as Sasha snipes the two Marleyan guards who were actually nice to Gabi, right in front of her, before departing with Connie, after they place signal lights on the building.
This grim reminder for Marley will certainly create a lot of Eren types, ready for revenge against Paradis, and Gabi is definitely one of them, as evidenced by her gritting her teeth in rage so hard that we can literally hear them rattling, followed by her grabbing one of the dead guard’s rifles.
Back to the fight between Mikasa and the Warhammer Titan, Eren has used her distraction to finally locate Lara Tyber, who is under the stage because the Warhammer Titan’s user can exist outside the main body and control the form with a cord.
Eren swan dives off the building and grabs this cord, although before this there is a slight inconsistency of Eren’s right pants leg having mysteriously grown back.
That’s only a small thing though because the action of the episode drew me right back into the moment, as Eren pulls Lara out from under the stage in a crystal, much like Annie after she was captured, and disconnects her from her Titan.
Before he can eat her though, Porco interrupts, catching Eren unawares and ready to eat him.
He would have succeeded it to had it not been for Levi himself, who cuts Porco’s jaw so he can’t bite down, forcing him to flee.
Not that he gets very far because a Thunder Spear blows him right off the building and he is quickly surrounded by the battle hardened scouts.
Porco is both confused and horrified about how the scouts are going to try and kill him, not understanding because he thought himself superior as a Titan.
Well, the scouts have just proved him wrong, moving in to slaughter him.
Porco was definitely right about one thing though, these are “the devils of Paradis” as Levi looks especially demonic, rushing in to kill Porco and bringing an exciting cliffhanger for the episode.
So, overall, a fantastic episode, no problems, right?
Oh, how I wish this was the case because now we have to talk about fandom toxicity.
Every fandom has its toxic side but Attack on Titan‘s reared its ugly head in the aftermath of this episode.
A lot of the episode was CGI, from the Titans to the Scouts, and this angered many “fans” to the point that they harassed not only the directors and animators of the episode, but people who didn’t have anything to do with the episode, like “Declaration of War’s” director.
No matter what you may think of the CGI, attacking someone over it is never acceptable.
Criticize all you want but never harass.
Personally speaking, I didn’t even think the CGI was that bad for the most part, especially with the Titans.
Does it look as good as Wit’s 2D Titans?
No, but it still looks good, even spectacular at times.
If anything, my main problem with the CGI is its usage on the Scouts, like during Jean’s introduction.
The CGI there looks particularly sketchy to the point that I was drawn out of the scene for a couple of seconds.
However, most of these CGI for the Scouts come in quick shots, not giving viewers time to notice, unless they deliberately paused certain moments, so it mostly works fine.
Even though I do have a bit of a problem with the CGI on the Scouts though, I still think the CGI is good overall and nothing to get angry over.
In any case, it is certainly never okay to attack Mappa staff, even if the CGI were atrocious, which, again, I don’t think it is.
So, all in all, “The Warhammer Titan” is a great follow up to last week’s amazing “Declaration of War.”
I can’t wait to see how the remaining chapters of the Marley Arc are adapted and hopefully there won’t be any more toxicity surrounding it.

The Promised Neverland Season Two Episode Two Review: The Truth of This World.

4 stars
After a great start to the second season of The Promised Neverland, episode two continues the quality of the last, delivering plenty of new information for the story, and formally introducing two new and interesting characters. 
These two characters are Mujika (Atsumi Tanezaki) and Sonju (Shin’ichirō Kamio), two demons who, mysteriously, do not want to eat Emma, Ray and the other Grace Field children. 
Directed by Ayako Kurata, the episode follows the kids getting to know these two demons, their way of life, and eventually learning the truth of their world, or rather worlds. 
I say worlds because Sonju reveals later on in the episode that the demon and human worlds are split because of a 1000 year old promise.
Humans and demons had been in constant state of war before this, and the promise not only separated their worlds but allowed peace between them, at the cost of many sacrifices because those humans who were left behind are now breed, butchered and fed to the demons as livestock, in various farms.
This is a startling revelation that makes Emma and Ray cheer for joy, much to Sonju’s, and I’m sure the audience’s, shock. 
The reason for their excitement is because, even though they are in a terrible situation, Emma and Ray now know that there is a place for them in the human world, they just have to get there. 
Although, this will obviously be a tough ordeal because, as Sonju and Mujika point out, they are an exception, not eating the children for religious reasons, and most demons who gladly gobble up the Grace Field kids.   
Along with this dark piece of information, however, there is also humor, with a scene of Gilda comedically coming at Emma with a fire in her eyes, demanding that she not push herself until she faints again. 
This humorous confrontation then transfers to Ray, who is told by the younger children that he keeps trying to die, not helped by Sonju comedically cutting in to say that Ray definitely would have died if he hadn’t saved him. 
Sadly, the entire episode can’t all be jokes because we have to get into the depressing stuff again, as Emma loses another piece of her innocence, when she asks to go hunting with Sonju. 
Emma manages to kill a bird for food, with Sonju’s guidance, and I absolutely love how this scene  was framed to mirror Conny’s death from the very first episode, with the falling water droplet. 
Even more of a parallel is when Sonju has Emma perform the act of Gupna on the bird, draining its blood with the vampiric plant Vina, again, just like Conny. 
This tragic scene is immediately followed by the cliffhanger of the episode, as Emma’s face is revealed, looking extremely depressed, despite her claims that she is fine, showing how she has lost more of her innocence. 
Given how long of a journey she and the Grace Field children have, if they are to ever reach the safety of the human world, it is very likely she will lose more of it. 
All in all, episode two is another enjoyable episode of The Promised Neverland  season two, and it will be interesting to see if this quality can be maintained, or even grow, as we get closer to my favorite arc of the story. 

Cyberpunk 2077 Review: A Fun, Buggy, Hot Mess.

3 and a half stars
I remember the first time I saw the 48 minute gameplay reveal for Cyberpunk 2077.
It blew my socks off with its quality and I became incredibly excited for its release.
Years passed and each tease got me more and more excited, especially the reveal that Keanu Reeves would play a big part in the game’s story, playing Johnny Silverhand.
My hype for the game was to the point that I was almost as excited for it as I was for The Last of Us Part 2.
However, going in, I knew I had to temper my expectations because it had been hyped up to levels I was sure even it could not surpass.
Yet, I was still confident that CD PROJEKT RED would deliver a complete and finished product.
Then, news came out that they were restricting those who reviewed the PC version, so they could only use footage from the trailers.
Even more suspicious was them completely banning any reviews for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox versions.
At the time, I reasoned that they were just trying to hide the bugs that would be fixed with the day one patch and the game would run fine on my PlayStation 4.
Oh, how wrong I was.
I’m not saying anything new by going over how incredibly buggy the console versions were upon release and, honestly, still are.
I just completed my first playthrough of the game and lost count of how many bugs I encountered.
My game crashed a total of five times, seven if you count the two times I had to quit because a bug made it literally unplayable.
There were a litany of other glitches I experienced, like characters speeding up like they were the flash, the frame rate dropping when driving, characters calling me in the middle of a mission when I’m already talking to another character.

This is an example of one of the many, many, many bugs that can be found in the game that someone found.

Not only this but Cyberpunk 2077 is also lacking features that have been in open world games for almost two decades.
The most prominent example of this is the police system, which is 100% broken, as police officers spawn right in front of you and give up chasing you after you get a block away from them.
Driving is also a pain because of how difficult cars are to drive, the already stated low frame rate, and the mini map being way too small.
At least I found driving around on motorcycles to be pretty fun.
However, despite all of these numerous problems, I still found myself having fun with Cyberpunk 2077.
Yes, it definitely should not have been released in this state, but I still found myself enjoying the story, its characters, and gameplay.
You play as V (Gavin Drea for male, and Cherami Leigh for female), a mercenary living in the dystopian Night City, who is hired to steal a biochip from a corpo.
Of course, this heist goes completely wrong and V has to place the biochip in their head to save it.
Unfortunately, after a near death experience, the biochip begins to kill V and replace them with the digitized soul of Johnny Silverhand. 

Keanu Reeves does a great job as Silverhand, although I do find it a bit hard to imagine him as a rockstar with his voice.

And so, V and Johnny have to work together to find a way to remove the biochip, without killing V, encountering a large cast of colorful characters along the way.
Takemura (Rome Kanda), Judy (Karla Tassara), Panam (Emily Woo Zeller), River (Robbie Daymond), Kerry (Mathew Yang King), Jackie (Jason Hightower), I came to care about so many of these great characters, to the point that, when one of them died in a mission, I actually looked up how to save them, then went back and did just that because I liked them so much.
The growing bond between V and Johnny is also great to see, as it grows across the game and Johnny continuously gives you advice on what to do in many compelling missions.
Of these numerous fun quests, I would have to say that my favorite is actually a side quest called Sinnerman.
The opening to that mission is just so intriguing and, as it goes on, it raises some really interesting moral questions about belief, forgiveness and corporate exploitation.
Along with the great quests, there are also some intense gameplay mechanics, with different play styles offered to the different builds you use.
I focused on my stealth and turned my V into a Cyberpunk ninja, occasionally using Mantis Blades to slice up my enemies.
This action went along great with the score, which is absolutely phenomenal in every way.
I can easily see myself listening to this game’s music for years to come.
These great elements of story, character and gameplay combine into the endings, of which there are numerous.
Unfortunately, these endings are mostly based on what you choose right at the end rather than across the game, but they all offer different perspectives for the story, and different conclusions for each of the characters, delivering a satisfying experience.

How the game ends, and who stays in control of V’s body by the end, is entirely up to the player’s actions.

It’s just a shame that this satisfaction is watered down by the extremely buggy nature of the game, and the shady business practices that went towards hiding this from players.
I may have not enjoyed The Last of Us Part 2’s story to the point that it made me personally find playing it to be a negative experience, but at least Naughty Dog didn’t screw with players by releasing a buggy mess.
Once again, I know I’m not the only person pointing out the hypocrisy of a game preaching against corporations when said game falls victim to corporate greed, but it’s still quite depressing.
Cyberpunk 2077 could have been one of the best games of 2020 that delivered a worthwhile experience, even if it could never live up to all the hype.
Instead, it will most likely be remembered for its buggy launch and practicing the very corporate actions it speaks against.
Still a fun game overall but one with a corporate shadow leaning over it. 

Attack on Titan Season Four, Episode Five, Declaration of War Review: The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For.

5 stars
Chapter 100, “Declaration of War.”
Pretty much every Attack on Titan fan who has read the manga can easily recall this chapter.
I can still remember sitting in stunned silence after reading it because of what had just occurred.
So, needless to say, I was extremely excited to see one of my favorite chapters adapted in the anime.
Well, having seen it, I can say that Mappa and director Teruyuki Ōmine definitely pulled it off, providing a nail biting delivery for “Declaration of War.”
The episode starts off with a flashback to Reiner, Bertholdt and Annie’s time in the scouts, as was seen in Episode Three.
This time, we have a scene of Bertholdt wondering why the man who hung himself in the settlement chose to tell them his story before he did so,  believing it was because he wanted to be judged.
At this point, the scene perfectly transitions to Reiner about to be judged by Eren, as they meet for the first time in four years.
Falco, the sweet boy, has absolutely no idea about the absolute disaster he has unintentionally caused, completely unaware as Eren subtly threatens all the people in the building above them by showing his cut hand, threatening to transform if Reiner tries anything.
From here, we see the build up to Willy’s declaration, as he is visited by the mysterious Kiyomi Azumabito from last episode, who seems to know something, given that she leaves before the festival.
Another interesting scene is between Karina and Annie’s father, where Mr Leonhart insists that his daughter is still alive, which is basically just Isayama’s way of saying, yes, Annie’s in the story, even if she’s not important right now.
The final build up scene before the performance sees Zeke, Pieck and Porco being lured away by a mysterious guard who then traps Pieck and Porco in a hole to prevent them from transforming and trying to stop whatever is about to happen.
As a manga reader, it’s been pretty fun to see fan theories about who the mysterious soldier is.
I’ve heard theories about it being Jean, Connie, and, most often, Armin who has had an extreme growth spurt.
In any case, this trapping scene is very well done, building the tension up nicely, and even providing some humor when Pieck’s panzer unit get jealous over Pieck hugging only one of them.
With the threat of enemy Titan Shifters removed, Eren can now confront Reiner in temporary peace and Willy can begin his last speech.
Down in the basement, Reiner asks Eren why he came here and Eren chillingly replies “the same reason you did” and follows this up by telling Reiner multiple times that he is “the same as you.”
This shows just how much Eren has grown over the four year time skip, going from hot headed to calm, collective, and even reflective over his situation.
He is clearly not the same arrogant character who I couldn’t stand all the way back in season one, and Yuki Kaji does a fantastic job voicing this calmer version of Eren.
Another voice actor who deserves praise for their work this episode is Kazuhiko Inoue, who does a fantastic job with delivering Willy’s lines, during his epic speech.
This voice acting, accompanying the gruesome imagery of the performance, makes for a great use of exposition that keeps the viewer engaged while being fed information.
The information Willy conveys is that the Marleyan version of history is a lie (big shock), and that The Great Titan War was actually ended by King Fritz, who conspired with the Tyber family to make a Marleyan, Helos, a hero, and then fled to Paradis Island out of guilt for what his people had done.
Willy revealing this shows how masterfully he can manipulate a crowd because first he reveals the truth, before redirecting the crowd’s anger at a new threat, Eren Jaeger.
Speaking of, Eren knows full well how much of a threat he is, admitting that he might just end up destroying the world, like Willy fears, because of the millions of Colossal Titans in the walls, which he could potentially control.
Falco is horrified that someone he trusted would use him and becomes even more terrified when he realizes the letters Eren had him send were to his “comrades.”
For now though, Eren’s attention is entirely on Reiner as he proceeds to judge him just like the opening of the episode suggested that he would.
However, this judgement is not what we might expect.
Instead of condemning Reiner, like he did in earlier seasons, Eren is shown to have become more understanding of him, as showcased by Eren telling Reiner to forget his promise to make Reiner suffer, admitting that there is good and bad people on both sides of the conflict.
This is followed by the moment that breaks Reiner completely, Eren telling him that he did what he did because he was a brainwashed kid.
Reiner refutes this entirely, falling to his knees and tearfully admitting that he pushed on with the mission to attack Paradis because he wanted to be a hero and he is to blame for Eren’s mother’s death.
Reiner’s voice actor, Yoshimasa Hosaya, did such a great job with Reiner’s tearful repentance that it almost made me cry.
Reiner’s pleas for death are then juxtaposed by Willy saying he doesn’t want to die because “he was born into this world,” and this very line that Eren’s mother spoke years ago finally draws Eren’s attention away from Reiner, as shown by the subtle widening of his eyes.
Maybe Eren is experiencing some hope that he will not have to go through with his plan?
Unfortunately, any hope Eren might have for peace is shattered because Willy follows this up by proclaiming he wants everyone to help him fight the devils of Paradis.
Accepting what he must do and that he really is the same as Reiner, Eren pulls Reiner to his feet, as we get some anime original content of soldiers approaching the basement door, ready to attack Eren.
One might think upon hearing about this scene that it is a pointless attempt at diminishing Eren’s responsibility for what comes next but, thankfully, it comes across more as a way to build tension, rather than try to justify Eren’s horrific act of violence.
And horrific it is, as Eren transforms then and there, killing who knows how many civilians and even Willy Tyber himself, crushing him with massive his fist, before throwing him in the air to be devoured, like a piece of popcorn.
This scene is just fantastic with a great use of sound and music.
That said, some manga readers took issue with the OST in this scene, 2Volt.
Some took such a disliking to this OST usage that they even harassed director Teruyuki Ōmine over it, to the point that he felt depressed.
Critique a scene all you want but if you harass the people behind that scene, you’ve gone way too far.
Personally, I feel that the music worked great and the people who dislike the scene may have had their own preconceived ideas on how the it would go, making them be inevitably disappointed when it didn’t suit their envisioned scene.
Still, even though I thought this final scene was great, there is one issue I have with the episode but it is one I am not ready to deduct points for just yet.
This issue is that there is a cut scene between Willy and Magath that is crucial to understanding both their characters’ motivations.
There is a possibility that this scene could have been moved to episode six, so if we see the scene there then this won’t be an issue, however, if it’s not there, then I think we are missing some crucial development for both these characters.
Like I said though, I am not going to be deducting any points from the episode because there is always the chance of this scene appearing in the future.
Overall, “Declaration of War” is a fantastic adaptation of one of the manga’s best chapters, delivering the point of no return for Eren brilliantly.

Attack on Titan Chapter 136, Devote Your Hearts Review: Jet Pack Pieck!

4 and a half stars
Three more chapters.
That is how long we have before my favorite story comes to an end, at Chapter 139.
It is also a fitting number to conclude Attack on Titan at because of the significance of the numbers 13 and 9 in the series.
For now though, we have Chapter 136, “Devote Your Hearts”, another banger that adds more tension and excitement to the final battle between the Alliance and Eren.
Coming into this battle, I was expecting a lot of character deaths but, once again, no one died in this chapter.
I remember saying in my predictions post for Chapter 137 that I was pretty certain Pieck was going to die because of her predicament at the end of “Battle of Heaven and Earth.”
Well, much like Jean’s fear for Pieck, I was proved “dead wrong” because Pieck not only survived but was also the best character in this chapter, by far.
In what is probably her most epic scene in the entire manga, Pieck runs along the trident of the Warhammer Titan, transforms and kills it, and then transforms multiple times while shooting herself out of her previous Titan forms, as if she was wearing a jet pack!
It is an incredibly epic fight scene and her banter with Jean is quite funny, as she gives this whole speech about him not needing to worry about her and to continue with the mission, only to turn around and see that he is already doing just that, causing her to give a disappointed, “oh.”
However, while this is an epic and funny scene that made me glad Pieck was safe, there were other scenes that raised death flags for characters.
One of these was Reiner when he brings up Falco’s promise to him to protect Gabi “from the dark, dark future we face”, which makes it seem like he is preparing for a heroic sacrifice.
I was wrong about Pieck though so, hopefully, I have been reading too much into this potential death flag.
In any case, Reiner is helping Jean and Pieck by holding off the Warhammer Titans so I wonder which of them will be the one to detonate the explosives on Eren’s nape?
This plan to blow up the nape was devised on Falco’s flying Titan, and it is also here that the second part of the plan was formulated, that Mikasa, Annie and Connie would go to rescue Armin from the Okapi Titan, which holds him captive in a hentai nightmare.
Jokes aside, this is a very emotional scene, as the Alliance finally admits they can no longer hold back on Eren, with both Levi and Connie pointing out that it is too dangerous to do so.
Yet, it is Jean who tragically has to break the news to Mikasa that they have to kill Eren, if they want to stop him.
The look on Mikasa’s face after this moment is just beautifully drawn by Hajime Isayama.
Along with this scene being a potential death flag for Eren, with Mikasa maybe being the one to put him down, there are two other hints towards parts of the ending in this opening part of the chapter.
The first of these is pretty minor and that is the survival of Kiyomi and Yelena.
This chapter confirms that they stayed behind in life boats after Falco’s transformation caused their ship to capsize and did not go with them to the final battle, which pretty much guarantees that they will survive the story.
A much bigger hint at the ending comes from Gabi, when she mentions the shining centipede, or, as Kruger previously called it, “the source of all living matter”, which emerged from Eren’s head when Gabi decapitated him.
Gabi says that if they can decapitate him again, they might just see this source again, which basically confirms its importance in stopping Eren.
Once this talk is done, the initiation of the plan begins, with Jean and Reiner going to help Pieck (not that she needs help, as I’ve said) and detonate the explosives, and with Annie, Connie and Mikasa going to save Armin, leading to more intense action sequences.
This is especially the case between Mikasa and Annie, as Annie uses Mikasa’s ODM Gear to throw her towards the Okapi Titan that has Armin.
Although exciting, this big action moment unfortunately fails, with the Okapi Titan now heading for Bertholdt’s Colossal Titan, which is being controlled by Ymir.
This brings us into the final part of the chapter, where we see Armin, who is thankfully not fully experiencing the Okapi’s tongue attack anymore.
Armin is now facing his unconscious body and yells and it that he hates himself and that his body has always betrayed him.
Just like Mikasa shouting that she is strong in Chapter 135, this scene of Armin perfectly reflects his character growth since the Trost Arc.
Where Armin slowly began to grow confidence in his own strength from that arc onwards, this final arc has been slowly diminishing that to the point that Armin is now at his breaking point.
However, at his lowest moment, who is the perfect character for him to meet?
Why, Zeke, of course!
That’s right, the monkey is finally back, and Armin has made contact with him after realizing he is not dying but in the Paths.
Their interaction is brief, with the chapter ending abruptly just as it begins, but it does raise a very interesting question.
Zeke asks Armin if Ymir ate him too, which makes me wonder if Zeke was eaten when Eren transformed, only since his mind was in the Paths when it happened, he is now trapped there.
Whether Zeke is truly alive or not, though, I am very excited to see how he and Armin will work together since the two have never even talked to one another before.
Both are at their lowest points in the series and they may just need each other to climb out of the dark pits of self doubt that they have found themselves in.
And, hey, with Zeke back, this means Levi can have his final confrontation with him that has been built up forever.
However, it is pretty clear from the way Isayama shows Levi thinking about this in the chapter that it may not be as simple as we think.
Levi notes how the one order he has not been able to follow from Erwin is to kill Zeke.
He also mentions how he doesn’t regret saving Armin over Erwin and even seems to be on the verge of tears when remembering his dead comrades, Erwin and Hange among them.
It is also this scene that the title of the chapter, “Devote Your Hearts” seems to come from, as Levi thinks of how if the Scouts didn’t dream of “an absurdly innocent and idealized world” then “it won’t have been worth what they devoted.”
As the story has been drawing to a close, more and more chapters have been given names that have significance to the story, first “Wings of Freedom” and now “Devote Your Hearts.”
Back to the actual chapter, it’s time to talk about my one criticism, which is the confrontation between the Eldians from Liberio and the Marleyan soldiers.
The Eldians approach the soldiers, leading to the two sides pointing guns at one another because, of course, the Marleyans just can’t stop being racist even though it’s the freaking apocalypse.
Annie’s father tries to cool the tension but it just doesn’t work, until the leader of the soldiers, Secretary Muller, arrives with his gun at the ready.
The chapter then cuts to the Alliance on Falco’s back, hearing the gunshots, the implication being that both sides started shooting at each other.
Only, I am pretty sure this is not what happened.
There’s no way that Muller, the guy who was just saying that he wanted to abandon hatred two chapters ago, is just going to give into that hatred again.
No, most likely the shots fired were Muller getting everyone’s attention to stand down.
It just feels pretty predictable, so I don’t see why Isayama had to give us a fake out.
Although I could be completely wrong about this and, if something else happens and it makes perfect sense, I’ll be sure to correct this criticism.
All in all, though, Chapter 136, “Devote Your Hearts”, is another fantastic Attack on Titan chapter that feels like it is setting up the last three nicely.
It does end a bit abruptly but so did Chapter 120 and that was followed up by my two favorite chapters of the story so far, so let’s hope that this abrupt ending points to a similar trend, with incredible chapters to come.

The Promised Neverland, Season Two, Episode One Review: A Beautiful Yet Cruel Freedom.

4 stars
The Promised Neverland 
is finally back.
I was already excited enough with Attack on Titan‘s final season airing but, with the second season of the adaptation of Kaiu Shiari’s great manga airing at the same time, and possibly being about to adapt my favorite arc in the manga, I might just collapse from overexcitement.
I started watching The Promised Neverland about four episodes into its first season and was immediately hooked to the point that, when I learned that the Covid-19 Pandemic had delayed season two, I read the manga.
Well, after the wait we finally have the first episode of that second season, which puts the follow up off to a promising start.
Directed by Takahiro Harada, the episode picks up after Emma (Sumire Morohoshi), Ray (Mariya Ise), Don (Shinei Ueki), Gilda (Lynn), and many other children escaped from the Grace Field House, where they had been unknowingly raised as demon food by their “mother”, Isabella.
Now free, but without their good friend Norman, who was shipped out, and the young Phil, who stayed to look out for the other younger children, Emma and the others are free to explore the outside world.
However, as Emma points out in the opening scene with her inner monologue, “freedom is so beautiful… Yet so cruel.”
This line, while sounding very similar to something Eren Jaeger would say in Attack on Titan, is a great way to kick off the episode, as it is revealed that the children are being chased by a giant demonic lizard.
The outside world is clearly just as dangerous for the children as it was at the Grace Field House, with another kind of predator pursuing them.
However, there is also the kind from season one hunting them down as well because the demons are back, angered by the children’s escape.
Before we get to these pursuits though, the episode cuts to before all this, when the children had time to get their bearings.
We have a cool discussion between Emma and Ray where it is shown just how much Ray has grown from his suicide attempt in season one, now being dedicated to protecting his family and survive with them.
Emma and the gang also come up with a plan, using the equipment gifted to them by William Minerva to locate him.
This equipment includes a pen given by Sister Krone to Norman, who then gave it to them, and a book that shows them how to survive in the outside world.
The book is an interesting thing about the episode because it is here where a lot of content from the manga was cut.
In the original story, there was quite a long scene where Emma and the others got trapped in a giant man-eating plant, which they escaped with help from William Minerva’s book, proving its usefulness in escaping danger.
This is changed in the episode to them learning this through just finding out where to get water with help from the book.
Now, usually I’d be against such a large scene being cut from an adaptation.
You only need to look at my review for episode three of Attack on Titan‘s final season to know that I mostly disapprove of large from the source material.
However, surprisingly, I actually don’t have an issue with the cuts in this episode because the scenes that were left out do not contribute that much to the overall story.
The big scene that is cut is basically just a long side quest that proves one piece of information that was simplified quite well in the episode.
Some fans are concerned that these cuts mean that the season will be rushed, with many important scenes removed but I really don’t think that, at least not yet.
Sure, there were a lot of cuts but, as I said, these cuts were made to simplify scenes that were really not that important to the story or character arcs in the manga, so I can see the important scenes being left mostly intact.
This includes the scenes with the two demon characters who rescue the children from their demon pursuers at the end of the episode, after Emma collapses and Ray is almost captured.
I really like these demon characters in the manga and I can’t wait to see how the adaptation will handle their role.
In any case, the ED seems to suggest they will have a bigger role at this point in the story than they did in the manga, with some great symbolism, like the female demon’s shadow looking eerily familiar to a cross.
The OP, “Identity” by Kiiro Akiyama, is also really good with a lot of great visuals to get you excited for what’s to come.
And, with the cliffhanger of the demons having saved the children, raising questions about why demons are helping their supposed food in the first place, a question Ray asks, there is certainly a lot to be excited about.

Attack on Titan Season Four Episode Four, From One Hand to Another Review: Calm Before the Storm.

4 and a half stars
Even though I liked Episode Three of Attack on Titan’s Final Season, “The Door of Hope”, the one issue I had with it was the cutting of some pretty great scenes from the manga, like Reiner’s struggles in the beginning, Annie’s role in destroying the wall, and Reiner deciding to infiltrate the military.
However, cut content is certainly not a problem I have with Episode Four, “From One Hand to Another”, which adapts the manga chapters it covers amazingly.
Directed by Tetsuaki Matsuda, it even adds in scenes from previous chapters that we thought weren’t going to be adapted, like Pieck’s crawling gag, a scene that was memed to death by the fandom, after its absence in Episode Two.   
This joke came after the opening, which followed the cliffhanger from the previous chapter, where Eren Jaeger himself was revealed to have infuriated Marley, disguised as a traumatized soldier and fittingly using the alias of Kruger. 
It is in this opening scene that Eren begins his manipulation of the good natured Falco, having him deliver letters to his “family.”
Following this sinister moment, the rest of “From One Hand to Another” definitely gives off a calm before the storm vibe, with the build up to Willy Tybur’s speech at the festival. 
Speaking of, we finally got to meet the Tybur’s, the family who holds the War Hammer Titan. 
The head of the family, Willy, is certainly an interesting character because, despite being an Eldian himself, he is the secret leader of Marley, who is widely respected by the world’s other leaders. 
It creates a striking juxtaposition when, at a dinner party, Willy is treated with respect, while Udo, a fellow Eldian, is treated like trash by almost all of the world’s leaders.
Willy’s introduction also sets Magath on the path towards being an interesting character, since it is revealed he is trying to get Marleyans to realize the errors of their ways, in being a warmongering nation, by forcing conscription to show them the true horrors of war, which the Eldians they force to fight for them experience.
Magath and Willy seem to have come to accord to save Marley, as Willy talks of how Marley is in need of a new hero, like the mysterious Helos. 
Another scene also highlights this need because, while speaking to Wily in code, Magath reveals that their “house” has already been infiltrated by “rats.” 
And, poetically, the scene then cuts to said infiltrator, Eren, who thanks Falco for sending his letters and now has a baseball from his “family.” 
Eren even talks about how he needs to go back to his “hometown.”
Oh, the irony. 
However, their conversation is interrupted by an approaching doctor who is revealed to be Eren’s grandfather. 
Dr Jaeger talks with Eren, unaware that he is his grandson, telling him to stop having Falco run errands for him because, if the Marleyans suspect something, Falco and his family could be punished. 
Eren retorts by bringing up the regrets Dr Jaeger must have, already knowing those regrets full well from Grisha’s memories. 
This causes Dr Jaeger to have a complete mental breakdown in a creepy moment that reveals he is not a doctor at this hospital but a patient, having broken down from the pain of losing his children, which he believes to be entirely his fault.   
As the real doctors lead a traumatized Jaeger away, Eren turns to the baseball and tosses it into the air. 
After this strange moment, we get the dinner party scene where, as I mentioned, Udo is looked down upon because of his Eldian blood. 
However, what I didn’t mention earlier is that there is at least one person who looks out for him, a mysterious, older Asian woman, who Gabi says is from the nation of Hizuru. 
Once the party scene has concluded, we then get our final calm before the storm moment, as Gabi and the other warrior candidates enjoy the wonders of the festival. 
This resulted in quite a few hilarious moments, primarily thanks to Gabi’s voice actress Ayane Sakura who, I have to say once again, was the best possible choice for Gabi. 
Her delivery is completely on point, much like Yuki Kaji’s somber Eren voice, which will make it interesting to see how Bryce Papenbrook follows him up in the English Dub.
Back to the festival scene, we get another funny moment with Reiner.
The man has been abused physically and emotionally and now the time has come for him to be abused financially, as his wallet is all used to pay for the kids’ food. 
This does make Reiner smile towards the end though so his financial pain is worth it. 
What also makes it worth it is Pieck and Porco being present in this scene, as they were not there to enjoy the food in the manga. 
Their scenes with the kids help make the two more relatable, especially Porco who, in the manga, is just a massive jerk. 
Seeing him encourage the kids in Episode Two, and now enjoy the festival in Episode Four, really makes me like him more than in the manga, by this point. 
It’s not all happiness though because Gabi just had to jinx it by hopefully stating that it felt like things were going to change, before the credits rolled.
Well, yes, Gabi, things are going to change, just not for the better as you had hoped. 
No, the end credits scene crushes these hopes because Falco is manipulated into bringing Reiner down into a basement for another confrontation with Eren, four years after their last meeting. 
With that, the episode left us off on a two week break until the epic episode that will be “Declaration of War.”
Still, I’m sure that the wait will be worth it and I am glad the animators got a small break because I’ve heard making the final season has been absolute hell for them.  
Fingers crossed that they can perfectly adapt “Declaration of War”, one of the best chapters of the manga and, potentially, one of the best episodes of the anime, if done right. 
Episode Five cannot come sooner. 

Akudama Drive Review: You Done Good Studio Pierrot.

4 and a half stars
If I’m honest, before watching
Akudama Drive, I didn’t have the best opinion of Studio Pierrot.
I only knew of them through watching their adaptation of Tokyo Ghoul, which, if you’ve seen my review of each season, you’ll know I thought was atrociously adapted in the last few seasons.
However, now having watched Akudama Drive based off recommendations, I can say that I need to give this studio more credit because, while they have made mistakes in the past, as seen with Tokyo Ghoul, they can make truly fantastic work.
Akudama Drive is one such anime, with its fast-paced, energetic action and great cast of characters. 

All of the main characters in Akudama Drive are memorable and a lot of fun.

Directed by Tomohisa Taguchi, Akudama Drive is set in a Cyberpunk Japan where the Kansai Region has been taken over by the Kantō region, and high ranking criminals, known as Akudamas, are hunted by Executioners.
Our main character is an Ordinary Person (Tomoyo Kurosawa) who, due to a set of extreme situations, has to become the Swindler and join a powerful group of Akudama, who are then hired to rob the deified Shinkansen.
Although, some backstory was sorely needed for many of these Akudama, I came to like, or love to hate in some instances, all of them.
There’s the always business focused Courier (Yūichirō Umehara), the fighting obsessed Brawler (Shunsuke Takeuchi), the big-talk, suck up Hoodlum (Sabaru Kimaru), the power hungry Doctor (Megumi Ogata), the psychopathic Cutthroat (Takahiro Sakurai), and the technologically genius Hacker (Shun Horie).
Out of all of these Akudama, I would say that my favourites of the bunch are Swindler, Courier, and Hoodlum.
Swinder and Hoodlum were both characters with fantastic character development that really made me care for them and their arcs.

Watching Swindler and Hoodlum go from newbie Akudamas to big time criminals was a blast to watch.

Courier was more of an interesting case because I was mainly indifferent to him for most of the anime, until the last three or four episodes really got me on board with his character.
It’s not just the Akudama that are great characters, though, because the Executioners are also a lot of fun, with Master (Akio Ōtsuka) and Pupil (Yumiri Hanamori) being standouts.
However, this is where my one big criticism of the show comes into play.
All of the Akudama are given fantastic endings to their character arcs, however, many of the Executioners get no ending at all.
It honestly feels like they had something big planned for some of their characters but it got cut for time in the final episode.
Now, it was recently revealed that five minutes of cut footage from the final episode would appear in the Blu-ray so hopefully this footage is the missing conclusion to many of the Executioner’s arcs. 

Even if their story isn’t concluded well though, I still found the Executioners’ role in the story fitting.

It would also be nice if a lot of the gore could be uncensored in the Blu-ray because the censorship did get a bit distracting, especially in Episode Nine.
Although, this censorship thankfully didn’t stop the action from being adrenaline pumping with a lot of hype moments, helped by excellent animation, especially in the first few episodes and the last one.
The score also helped these scenes, with it being fun to listen to. 
This also extends to the OP and ED, with the OP, STEAL! by SPARK!!SOUND!!SHOW!!, being an absolute banger that I have listened to for days on end on Spotify.  
Overall, Akudama Drive is a fantastic anime that mixes cyberpunk with anime incredibly well.
Some characters may be missing conclusions to their arcs but, if this is fixed in the Blu-ray, then this could be an all time great anime.