Tales of Vesperia Review: A Good Way to Get Through Quarantine.

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4 stars
I live in New Zealand, which is currently in lock down because of the Carona Virus pandemic.
In the days leading up to the lock down, I was bored and looking for a game that I could get lost in for hours.
So, I looked up some and came across Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition, a JRPG that had been praised for its story, characters and gameplay.
I bought the game not two days before the lock down was announced, so I ended up with a great way to pass the time indoors in the experience that is Tales of Vesperia.
Directed by Yoshito Higuchi, the game is set in Terca Lumires, a world infested with monsters.
The people use an energy source known as Blastia to generate shields to protect the cities from monsters, and also to help in their everyday lives.
When a Blastia from the Lower Quarter in Zaphias is stolen, former knight Yuri Lowell (Troy Baker) and his faithful dog Repede go on a journey to catch the thief.
From there, they encounter an assortment of wacky characters who join them on their quest, including an innocent noblewoman named Estelle (Eden Riegel), a young guild enthusiast, Karol (Julie Ann Taylor), a hot headed mage, Rita (Michelle Ruff), eye candy Krytian, Judith (Alison Lees Taylor), young pirate, Patty (Sandy Fox), and the mysterious Raven (Joe J. Thomas).
They also meet up with Yuri’s longtime friend and knight Flynn (Sam Riegel), who occasionally joins you on your journey and has a great dynamic with Yuri, especially when Yuri starts to go on a dark path that is both unexpected and great.
All of these characters are fantastic and, as you spend the game watching them interact, they begin to feel like a family.

skit
The various skits across the game helped to solidify the characters’ relationships and endear them to the viewer.

Watching Yuri and Karol’s bond grow throughout the game to the point that they felt like brothers was heartwarming, and Raven’s antics and Rita’s obvious crush on Estelle brought numerous laughs.
The only downside to the party is Patty who, although a great character, doesn’t really feel like she belongs in the story for the first half of the game.
It is pretty clear that she was added for the Definitive Edition.
Not only this but, sadly, much of the villains are incredibly one dimensional to the point that I was constantly bored whenever they were on screen.
They are all cliched mustache twirlers, with the exception of the main antagonist, Duke (Jamieson Price), who is thankfully just as compelling as the main cast.

Dukey boy
Duke was the one antagonist with a solid motivation and the only one I did not roll my eyes at when they appeared on screen.

Despite my problems with the villains though, I can clearly say that, thanks to the main cast, the characters are definitely the best part of the game.
The story is also solid because, while it is nothing special, it has a nice sense of pacing, starting out with the simple goal of catching a thief, before slowly growing into a world ending situation that our characters must deal with.
And then there’s the gameplay, which, I’ll admit, I was pretty terrible at.
You want to know how terrible?
Well, you know those two comic relief characters who constantly exclaim, “I say!” whenever they talk?
Yeah, those two bozos kicked my butt on multiple occasions.

joke characters
I say that these two two idiots made me groan with anguish every time I had to fight them alone as Yuri!

Given how poorly I played, you should take what I say about the gameplay with a grain of salt.
However, despite how bad I was, I still enjoyed the gameplay, leveling up the characters, and gifting them with new Artes
If anything, my poor play style added a level of challenge to the gameplay.
There are some things that the game doesn’t tell you about how to play though, so that can be frustrating.
But, all in all, the characters, story and gameplay are all a lot of fun.
Granted, the game is pretty dated, since it first came out in 2008, and there are some inconsistencies.
For example, the speech bubbles that are displayed sometimes do not match up with what the characters are saying or are in the wrong place, and some voice actors have been replaced for new scenes.
Some have said that these new actors are very distracting but, honestly, I couldn’t tell too much.
Yet, despite the dated nature of the game, I still found that, in quite a few instances, its animation is quite beautiful.
Overall, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition was a great way to pass the time in my isolation.
The story and gameplay are solid and the characters are fantastic, even if the game is a little dated in certain aspects

Attack on Titan, Chapter 117, Judgement Review: War Hammer Mode Initiated.

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4 stars
As many people have already pointed out, Hajime Isayama has so immaculately timed the events of Attack on Titan that we now have different fights between Eren and Reiner in the manga and the anime happening at the same time.
It really goes to show how good Isayama is at structuring the series and has me excited about how he will continue to do so.
As for the Chapter 117 itself, it is a non-stop thrill ride of a chapter that feels over way too soon.
That is the sad thing about Attack on Titan though.
It’s action packed chapters can be read through so quickly, and then you have to wait another month while you are dying to read the next one.
This Chapter, “Judgement”, definitely has me feeling this way, with almost the entirety of it being action oriented as Eren faces off against the warriors and Marley’s military.
However, my favourite part of “Judgement” is not the bombastic action sequences, but rather the small character moment we get from Gabi and Magath.
Isayama really surprised me with how well he develops these two this chapter.
After escaping with Pieck, Gabi is brought to the Marleyan troops, led by Magath, and she is very surprised when he hugs her, showing relief that she is safe.
I love this moment because it not only shows that Magath does care about the Eldians under his command, but it also serves as a nice callback to chapter 91, where both characters were introduced.
In that chapter, Gabi came up with a dangerous plan that put herself at risk and, at first, Magath forbade her from following through on that plan.
This led to Gabi jokingly saying that this meant Magath really cared about her… only for this to now be proven true with Magath embracing her.
Then there is the cool story moment we got from Gabi in this scene, which saw her remember what Zeke said about him having royal blood, causing the others to realise that Zeke and Eren coming into contact could activate the Founding Titan.
It is a good explanation for how the Marleyans would figure out Eren and Zeke’s plan and also goes to show how smart Gabi is.
Speaking of the Marleyans and their warriors though, reading the chapter I was not entirely sure who I should be routing for.
One the one hand, I wanted Eren to succeed and defeat Reiner, but on the other hand I wanted Reiner to beat him.
This shows how complex Attack on Titan has become, with every character’s motivations being understandable to us now, to the point that we route for them all.
So, in the end, there is a bunch of characters I all like that are fighting to the death, making me unsure of who to cheer on.
I loved every second of this uncertainty.
It added much more weight to the battle, which has a lot of highlights, from Pieck’s cannon wielded by Magath, to Zeke showing up at the end to save Eren.
One of the big highlights of this fight, though, is obviously Eren using his War Hammer Titan abilities in battle for the first time.
It was very exciting to see all the different ways Eren can use the power.
He is clearly not as skilled as the previous War Hammer Titan but, if he is given time, he could become even more overpowered, which could be either a good and bad thing, depending on how Isayama handles it.
There are even some morbidly funny moments to go along with all of this action.
The best of this is scene when Porco cuts off Pieck’s hand so she can transform without hurting Gabi.
When this happens, Pieck screams in pain before jumping off the building to transform.
This is humorous in a pretty morbid way because we have never seen a Titan Shifter express pain at their injuries before, despite hurting themselves in ways that would leave most people in complete agony.
There are also, what I feel to be, hints at future events in the manga, the most obvious being Magath talking about the Marleyan hero Helos, who Willy Tyber mentioned.
This historical figure has constantly been used in reference to Magath and, if the theory that the story of Ymir was actually transported to the past by Titan memories is true, this could mean Magath is actually Helos.
This has dire implications because it has been stated that Helos killed the Devil of all earth, and many people believe Eren is an allusion to this devil.
So, if Magath, or any other character, turns out to be Helos, then it may be likely that Eren will be killed by them.
Along with this, Zeke looks set to transform all of the people who ingested his spinal fluid in the next few chapters.
This will undoubtedly turn the fight in their favor because Zeke will have complete control over all 300 of the Titans he will create.
However, Zeke showing up here does add further weight to this being the final battle, which I am currently unsure how I feel about because so many characters are absent from it.
Also, I did have a few minor problems with the chapter, the biggest of which being suspension of disbelief when it came to Titan injuries.
Is it just me, or does anyone else think Eren and Reiner’s Titans should have been unusable by the end of the chapter?
Eren got shot in the head twice and Reiner got his face ripped open and was hit by Zeke’s boulders, and yet, both are somehow still standing by the end.
It just felt like a contradiction of what we already know about what Titan’s can withstand.
Speaking of contradictions, there is a weird continuity error when, for some reason, Eren is shown without a shirt in one panel and then with one in another.
It kind of felt like Isayama placed fan-service over continuity there.
Overall though, “Judgement” is another solid chapter of Attack on Titan that has me excited for the series’ endgame… that is if Isayama does not spoil it himself first, but I will talk about that situation in another post

Attack on Titan Chapter 131, Rumbling, Review: Attack on Titan’s Third Impact.

5 stars
Last month, Hajime Isayama delivered an Attack on Titan chapter that had the potential to be in my top ten best.
This month, he did it again with Chapter 131, “Rumbling”, which easily goes down as the manga’s darkest chapter by an extremely wide margin.
The majority of “Rumbling” consists of the consequences of Eren’s genocide, resulting in many brutal deaths.
Without a doubt, the most horrific of these deaths are those of Ramzi and his brother Halil.
Ramzi is the boy from Chapter 123, who partied with the Survey Corps when they first came to Marley, and “Rumbling” opens with him showing Halil where he hides the money he has pickpocketed to help their family survive.
Here, we get a tragic showcase of how cruel their lives are, as Ramzi not only reveals that many of their people die during the winter because of the lack of shelter, but is also shown to have had his right hand cut off for stealing.
Not all is lost in Ramzi’s mind though, because he has hope that the money he steals will be enough to get his family out of poverty and give them all a happy life.
A sadly naive dream to be sure but one that is incredibly sympathetic, made all the worse by the arrival of the Rumbling.
With this genocide, both Ramzi’s family, life and dreams are crushed under the massive feet of the Colossal Titans.
Watching Ramzi and Halil desperately run for their lives, only for Halil to turn back for the money, and then be crushed by debris was absolutely horrifying.
This is made even worse to read when it is shown Ramzi survived the falling debris, only to see that his brother’s head has been smashed in and that he is still clutching the money that held all of their hopes.
We then get to see Ramzi slowly being crushed under the foot of a Wall Titan in agonizing detail that is difficult to stomach, let alone read.
Just as horrifying is the panels of the many other innocent people who are murdered in Eren’s genocide.
In one particular heart breaking panel, we see multiple reactions from different people.
Some bang on a door trying to escape their deaths, one breaks off to try and flee in another direction, a mother holds her child close, and a man holding his bags looks up towards their oncoming deaths and just seems to accept his fate.
What makes this situation even more tragic is Eren’s perspective.
It is interlaced with Ramzi’s point of view, and reveals that the hidden memory shard of him from Eren’s memory was not from after Eren left to hide in Marley but rather before.
After leaving the meeting where the person calling for Eldian rights damned the people of Paradis, Eren walked the streets, contemplating his future actions, when he came across Ramzi being attacked.
After some hesitation, wondering why he should save him if he’s going to kill him later, Eren gives in to his conscience and rescues the boy before tearfully telling him he is sorry for what he will do in the future, even if Ramzi does not understand.
This heartbreaking moment makes for a chilling contrast to Eren’s perspective while he is committing the Rumbling.
Here, he admits that when he found out people were outside the walls he was disappointed.
This reveals some selfish motivations behind the Rumbling that make Eren a much darker character than first thought.
Even creepier is the double page spread where Eren is in child form and cries out happily that, “this is freedom.”
This panel is easily one of the best in the entire manga because of how chilling it is.
What makes it darker is that if someone saw this image without context they would think it was wholesome moment and not the horrifying panel that it is.
The following images of more people succumbing to Eren’s genocide in between this horrific panel is gut wrenching.
This all combines to make the Rumbling feel like the Third Impact from The End of Evangelion. 
There’s even a moment that seems to be directly inspired by that film because, when Ramzi is being crushed, he sees Ymir, just like all the people who died during the Third Impact saw Rei.
What this means is anyone’s guess but it sure will be interesting to find out.
However, although most of this chapter is horror and despair, there is actually a surprisingly wholesome moment, made even more surprising that it is a ship scene.
But not Eremika or Erehisu, no, this time it is Aruani, Armin and Annie.
Isayama pretty much confirmed that Armin has a crush on Annie and highly implied that Annie returned some of those feelings.
It was a happy moment that brought some levity to an otherwise horrifying chapter.
Armin also admitting that, like Annie, he is a monster too was great for his character, and the moment where a child Eren talks to him in Paths makes me think he is going to have a big role to play soon, which I am excited for.
However, I am also scared as well because Armin and Annie seeming to have a romantic connection now spells out massive death flags for Annie.
Well, at least I’m sure she won’t die until the final confrontation with Eren.
Speaking of, the last panel of the chapter shows Eren, who is seemingly sleeping in his monstrous Titan form.
Only thing is that his head appears to be attached to his body by his exposed spine.
Such a grizzly sight makes me wonder if Eren can even heal from this once he finishes.
Either way though, it will be interesting to see how Attack on Titan finally ends, especially with Eren’s genocide now in full swing.
“Rumbling” is another top ten Attack on Titan chapter with grizzly images that are horrifying but ones that we needed to see to understand the consequences of Eren’s actions.

The Promised Neverland Manga Review: Basically Tokyo Ghoul Quality vs Tokyo Ghoul: Re Quality.

4 stars
I recently rewatched the first season of The Promised Neverland and was amazed by it.
I had honestly forgot how incredible of an anime it was.
So, knowing that the second season had been delayed to 2021 because of Covid-19, I decided to read the manga in its entirety.
After reading it, the best way I can describe it is Tokyo Ghoul quality vs Tokyo Ghoul: Re quality.
Essentially, the first half of the manga is fantastic, just like Tokyo Ghoul, while the second half is still good but it does have a lot of problems, just like Tokyo Ghoul: Re, creating an experience that is, overall, still a lot of fun to read.
Written by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu, The Promised Neverland follows children Emma, Norman and Ray who learn that the orphanage they live on is in reality a farm made to provide food for demons.
They, and the other children, then plan to escape and embark into the world of demons, a world that contains many friends and many foes.
As I said, the first half of The Promised Neverland is absolutely fantastic, with many great twists and characters to cheer for.
As if the characters from the first season like Emma, Norman, Ray, Isabella and Phil weren’t already amazing enough, the manga offers many more interesting characters like Mujika, Yuugo and Lucas.
Yugo and Lucas in particular are great additions to the cast and probably tied for my favourite characters in the entire story.

yuggo
Yugo is an amazing character and the conclusion to him and Lucas’ arc are fantastic, even if I do wish this conclusion had come later on in the story.

As for the old characters, they are just as great, with Emma standing out as a fantastic protagonist, especially in the Goldy Pond Arc.
Speaking of, Gondy Pond is definitely my favourite arc of the manga with it providing a lot of awesome fights, tension and character development.
The villain of that arc, Leuvis, is also just as intimidating as Isabella and Sister Krone were in the first season.
Unfortunately, this continued fantastic quality does not last as the story begins to have more and more flaws as it enters its second half.
One of these big flaws is character immunity.
It became quite clear towards the final stages of the story which characters were safe and which were not.
For a series that started off with the “anyone can die” mentality, it sure pulled a lot of punches by the end in regards to character deaths.

goldy pond
Although my favourite storyline is the Goldy Pond Arc, I can admit that this is the arc where it became clear that almost every character had plot armour.

Another problem is those characters themselves or, more specifically, the amount of them.
There are so many characters that a lot of them don’t get the screen time they deserved.
Norman, Isabella and Phil are missing from huge chunks of the story and Ray becomes kind of a stagnant character.
The worst example of wasted character potential though definitely goes to Ayshe.
She is introduced in the last few arcs of The Promised Neverland and is given a fantastic backstory and motivation that looks set to put her on a revenge path that will cause her to conflict with some of our main characters.
However, after this backstory is revealed, she never does anything.
All of that fantastic build up the reveal of her past had turned out to be for nothing and made wonder why she was introduced in the first place.

ayshe
Ayshe could have been a fantastic character if her backstory had actually been expanded upon.

There was also a complete deus ex machina towards the end that was very off putting.
As for the ending of the story, a lot of people have problems with it and, while I think those are valid, I still liked the ending and it did get me tearing up.
Which reminds me, I cried quite a few times when reading this manga.
Whenever the story ignored characters absurd plot armor and finally killed someone it almost always got a tear out of me.
So, I can definitely say that the good far outweighs the bad.
While the second half does have a lot of problems, The Promised Neverland is still a great manga that delivers a lot of emotional moments.

Pom Poko Review: Studio Ghibli’s Weirdest Film?

3 and a half stars
Imagine that you’re on Netflix and then an ad for a Studio Ghibli movie pops up.
You’re intrigued so you watch and see a police officer comforting a crying woman… only for her face to disappear.
As the police officer runs away from the faceless woman, she begins to follow him on a bike until he fires his gun into the air in terror, frightening the woman and turning her into… a raccoon?
Well, after seeing this bizarre ad, I knew I had to watch Isao Takahata’s 1993 film Pom Poko. 
Now that I have watched it, I can definitely say that it is Studio Ghibli’s weirdest film by a wide margin.
Pom Poko follows a group of shape shifting raccoons voiced by Makoto Nonomura, Shigeru Izumiya, Nijiko Kiyokawa, Kosan Yanagiya and many others.
These raccoons are trying to stop their homes being destroyed by invading humans at any cost, including eco-terrorism, putting on a parade to scare the humans, and inflating their testicles to attack… wait, what?

balls attack
I expected some strange things going into Pom Poko but not attack by testicle inflation.

Seriously though, if you think the testicles technique is the weirdest thing this movie can come up with your mistaken.
Pom Poko has so many outlandish concepts and throughout the film I honestly wasn’t sure if I was liking what was happening or not.
I did go from disliking the raccoons to actually sympathizing with them by the end though, but I wasn’t incredibly attached to any of them.
One thing I can say that I really enjoyed was the creativity with the raccoons shape shifting abilities, which is on full display during the parade scene.
You can see that the writers and animators just let their imaginations go wild during here and it’s really enjoyable.

parade
The parade scene is the best scene in the movie because of how creative it is.

Like most Studio Ghibli films, it also contains an environmentalist message that is well handled, especially with one act the raccoons take at the end.
Although, I will say that there are some plot points that don’t really go anywhere and the movie does feel a bit too long.
All of that said, Pom Poko is still an enjoyable film, despite its low points, with scene after scene of weird concepts.
It is definitely worth seeing for that weirdness factor alone.

 

Attack on Titan Chapter 131 Predictions.

Chapter 130 of Attack on Titan, “Dawn for Humanity” was a fantastic chapter that finally showed off the full horror of the Rumbling.
There were numerous glorious double page spreads of Eren’s attack, making me wonder how the hell the alliance is even supposed to beat him and where exactly they go from here.
Well, this is what predictions posts are for and I will kick off my predictions for Chapter 131 with the question,

Will Annie Stay With the Alliance?

“Dawn for Humanity” began with Annie confronting Hange about the decision to go to Odiha, meaning that they couldn’t save Liberio and that her father was likely killed.
Annie then says she plans to leave the alliance because there is now no reason for her to fight and she doesn’t want to have to kill Eren or the scouts if it comes down to it.
So, the question is how is Annie going to be convinced to stay and help the alliance?
Hajime Isayama wouldn’t have brought her back just to have her leave again.
It would seem like Annie is due for a little pep talk but who will dispense it?
Well, given how Mikasa seems to connect with what Annie is saying emotionally in the chapter, she might be able to convince her.
Then there are Reiner and Armin, both of whom feel a little overdue for a one on one conversation with Annie, given their past history.
I expect Annie may be a big part of the next chapter as she struggles with the decision whether to stay with the alliance now that her father is dead.
Or is he?

What Happened to the Eldians in Liberio?

The last we saw of the Eldians in the Liberio Internment Zone, Annie’s father was beginning to lead a revolt after their Marleyan captors refused to listen to their warnings about the oncoming Rumbling.
However, shots were fired leaving the fates of many of those Eldians unknown.
Annie’s father and Reiner’s mother were right at the front of that group with Mr Leonhart wrestling with the gun of one of the soldiers.
Do I think they’re all dead though?
No, Isayama would probably have shown it if they were.
I’m pretty sure some of them made it and will have fled Liberio in an effort to escape the Rumbling.
Maybe they fled to Odiha and will meet up with the alliance?
Although, that does feel a little too coincidental.
Either way, I expect we will get a resolution to Annie’s story with her father, whether that ends happily or tragically.

When Will the Alliance Reach Eren?

Chapter 130 ended with Eren’s monstrous Titan form finally being revealed as his genocide reached Marley’s shores.
By the time the alliance reaches him he will already have killed thousands of people, possibly millions.
So, every second counts for the alliance in reaching Eren but even when they reach Odiha, they will still have half a day to get the plane ready, which Kiyomi said was a gamble itself.
Given this, it seems like there will be a few more chapters before the alliance finally confronts Eren.
This also depends on whether Floch survived and is about to make his move, if Kiyomi will reveal something (I will get to that later), and if Yelena will even lead them in the right direction.
Speaking of which,

Where is Eren Going?

If Yelena does decide to lead the alliance to Eren, where exactly would that be?
Isayama has been implying with Magath’s earlier questions to Yelena that Eren has a specific place to go in mind.
The only places we know in Marley is Liberio and Odiha but Liberio is probably in the process of being destroyed and I doubt Isayama would have the place the alliance is going coincidentally be the place Eren is going to as well.
No, I think Eren has a very different location in mind.
I suspect that he is actually going to the location of the giant tree where Ymir first gained her power from the source of all living matter.
There, Eren may attempt to do something, like remove the Eldians’ ability to transform into Titans.
We may also get more of an idea of what exactly this source of all living matter that gave Ymir her powers is.
Ending the story where it all began would be emotionally fitting.

What’s the Deal With the Fez Kid?

The fez kid that was first hinted at in Chapter 120 and then finally introduced in Chapter 123 made a brief reappearance in Chapter 130.
He was in a memory shard of Eren’s where it looked like he was being attacked by three Marleyans in an alley.
So, Eren definitely encountered him while he was hiding in Marley making me wonder how exactly this kid factors into Eren’s mindset.
He is clearly important since his memory shard was one of the biggest in Chapter 120, and Eren seems to have experienced some future memory of him because he tells Mikasa that nothing bad has happened to him “yet” in Chapter 123.
This could have a number of meanings.
Maybe Eren witnesses the fez kid being murdered because of his race, which only makes him more determined to kill everyone outside the walls.
Or maybe he saves the fez kid from the men attacking him, only he knows that he will end up killing him in the Rumbling.
Knowing Isayama though, whatever purpose the fez kid holds, I will honestly be surprised if his story doesn’t end in tragedy.
Either way, he is clearly important to Eren’s perspective so I think we can expect him to be an important part of the final chapters.

Could Ymir Have Left a Secret Code in Her Message?

I was rewatching Season Three Part Two recently and got to the part where Historia reads Ymir’s letter.
During this scene, Jean asks Historia if there’s a possibility that Ymir left a secret code.
Historia dismisses this but in a comedy chibi skit that is on the DVD Ymir does leave a message.
Now, this message is “marry me” so this was obviously for comedy but it does make me wonder if Ymir actually did leave a secret code for Historia to uncover.
Keep in mind, she was the first character in the main cast to reach the Paths Dimension, going there even before Eren and Zeke.
So, it stands to reason that she may have met the original Ymir there and even learnt something and left that in a secret code for Historia to find.
What this could be and the relevance it will have I don’t know.
All of that said, I’m probably reaching here.
I’m basically just blindly hoping that Isayama will throw us Ymir fans a bone before the series’ ends and give us some content with her.

The Kiyomi, Kruger and Ksaver Theory.

I’ve talked about this theory before in other predictions posts but I wanted to go more in depth here.
Ever since Kiyomi was introduced I have wondered what exactly her point is in the story.
Sure, she provides the plane that the alliance will use to reach Eren but she has to have more of a point than that, especially with her connection to Mikasa.
Now that Kiyomi is actually with the alliance and traveling with them to Odiha I think now would be the perfect time to reveal her importance, which I think may be a connection to Kruger and Ksaver.
This is basically combing the theories that the “See you later, Eren” memory seen at the beginning of the story is actually Kiyomi talking to Kruger and not Mikasa talking to Eren, and that the doctor who helped Kruger was actually Ksaver.
We know Kiyomi’s family had close connections to the Eldian Empire before its fall so they would not have benefited from Marley’s rise to power.
As a result, they may have supported some underground Eldian rebellions, like that of Kruger’s family.
Kruger says that when his family was killed he was rescued by his father’s friends.
What if these friends were Kiyomi’s family?
So, Kruger stays with them in secret and then meets Ksaver who helps him falsify his blood tests to pose as a Marleyan and infiltrate the military.
Kruger, Kiyomi and Ksaver then begin working on a secret plan to overthrow Marley based on Kruger’s future memories as the Attack Titan.
He probably then tells the two of them about Mikasa and Zeke and gives them specific roles around these two.
He tells Kiyomi to watch over and protect Mikasa because of her importance, which she does under the pretense that she is only doing so because of her heritage.
Next, he tells Ksaver to watch over Zeke and pass on his Beast Titan to him because this is needed to activate the Rumbling.
Not only this but he also instructs Ksaver to allow Zeke to find his own mindset and support it, which is why Ksaver is encouraging of Zeke’s euthanasia plan even if he doesn’t agree with it.
So, I believe that Kruger, Kiyomi and Ksaver were all working behind the scenes to orchestrate these events
Although, this is probably more far fetched that the Ymir hiding a secret code theory.
You never know though.
I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection Review: A Mixed Bag Just Like the Show.

3 stars
I have mixed feelings about Code Geass. 
On the one hand it has instances of brilliant writing, on the other hand it has instances of pretty terrible writing.
That said, it does have an incredible ending that makes a follow up extremely difficult to pull off.
In order to solve this problem, director Gorō Taniguchi decided to set this story in an alternate universe with a few minor changes to the original story… with mixed results as expected.

lelouch meboy
The film has as many positives as it does negatives, just like the original anime.

Lelouch of the Re;surrection is set one year after Lelouch’s sacrifice during the Zero Requiem.
A revived Lelouch (Japanese Jun Fukuyama, English Johnny Yong Bosh) is under the care of C.C (Yukana and Kate Higgins) when his sister Nunnally (Kaori Nazuka and Rebecca Forstadt) and good friend Suzaku (Takahiro Sakura and Yuri Lowenthal) are kidnapped by the enemy nation of Zilkhistan.
Now C.C and the Black Knights must find a way to bring Lelouch back to his former self so he can rescue the two and defeat Zilkhistan.
The film is well voice acted, animated and scored, with some great action sequences throughout.
Along with this, the writing is occasionally great just like how it is occasionally great in the show.
Lelouch and C.C are definitely the highlights, with their relationship having a fantastic arc that ended the film well.

CC
The way Lelouch of the Re;surrection ends with Lelouch and C.C’s relationship is genuinely touching.

It was a lot of fun to see the man of miracles at work again, defeating his enemies using his brilliant tactics.
In particular, one prison sequence where Lelouch got to show off his skills is a terrifically fun sequence.
And then there’s the villains of the film who, while they are not really interesting characters, do have an interesting motivation.
Their actions show the consequences of the Zero Requiem in a way that was believable and understandable.
Although, this does undermine the authenticity of the original ending somewhat.
Unfortunately, the issues of Lelouch of the Re;surrection don’t end there.
For starters, the changes to this story with the alternate universe don’t really have a point.
Take Shirley (Fumiko Orikasa and Amy Kincaid) for example.
She is brought back to life and the reason for this was so that she could sneak Lelouch’s body to C.C but this doesn’t really make any sense considering Shirley didn’t know C.C beforehand and she doesn’t have the skills to smuggle Lelouch’s body out.

Shirley
It felt like Shirley was kept alive just because the writer wanted her to be rather than there being a legitimate reason.

Not only this but a lot of the characters seem to forget Lelouch’s actions in the parts of the original story that are still canon.
Cornelia, weirdly enough, seems to be not as angry about Lelouch, you know, using his Geass on her sister Euphemia and then killing her.
Also, Oghi does something in this film that comes out of nowhere and feels really out of character.
And then there’s the problems with the original series that is carried over, chief among these being fan service.
Now, there is nothing wrong with fan service but does it have to come during these big emotional moments.
I can’t get invested in a scene where C.C encourages Lelouch during a dire moment if the shot spends so much time focusing on her private parts.
It makes these scenes comical rather than emotional.
Still, despite these problems, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection is a good film.
It does have occasional moments of brilliance, even if they are bogged down by problems, both old ones from the original show and new ones entirely.

 

Bodyguard Review: An Adrenaline Shot of a Show.

5 stars
I’m not sure I have any nails left to bite through after finally watching Bodyguard. 
In all seriousness, this political thriller, created and written by Jed Mercurio, and directed by Thomas Vincent and John Strickland, is the epitome of anxiety inducing.
The show follows traumatized war veteran, now police sergeant, David Budd (Richard Madden) who is assigned to protect the controversial Secretary of State, Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes).
However, after Budd joins Montague’s detail, acts of terrorism against the both of them begin to occur, raising suspicions of not just a government conspiracy but also suspicions against Budd himself.
Bodyguard is an intense experience from start to finish with terrific performances, especially from Madden who you quickly come to sympathize with as Budd.

madden
Madden plays Budd perfectly, portraying both the calm and collected soldier and the traumatized war veteran.

It is not just him though because everyone in the cast does an amazing job and, given how good the show is at making you care about its characters, it makes the scenes where they are in danger all the more suspenseful.
Speaking of these scenes, Bodyguard has some of the most heart attack creating moments I have seen in a good long while.
The first scene of the very first episode lets you know what you’re in for with an absolutely gripping opening.
This is followed by shocking moments topped by even more shocking moments as the episodes go on.

sniper
Just when you think this show has surprised you as much as it can, it presents another jaw dropping moment.

What makes it even better is how usually unexpected these scenes are.
For example, I knew coming into the show that there would be an intense scene with a sniper because everyone was talking about it when it aired.
I remember watching the show, wondering if it would happen at a particular point and then thinking, no, it couldn’t happen now.
Well, guess who was wrong?
I must have jumped a foot in the air when that scene started and I was gripping the arm rest of my chair in the absolutely terrifying minutes that followed.
And then there’s the final episode, which, instead of having a suspenseful scene that went on for a few minutes, stretched it out for most of the episode’s duration in some truly sweat inducing minutes.

shocking
Episode six had me almost tearing my hair out because of how intense it was.

In the end, the show wraps up most of its mysteries well, with plenty of foreshadowing to pick up on throughout the series.
Bodyguard is a series that will make you shake with worry and I think the best way to describe it would be like an adrenaline shot.

Tales From Earthsea Review: Studio Ghibli’s Weakest Film?

two-star-rating
After watching Goro Miyazaki’s Tales From Earthsea, I went online to try and find out what had happened during this movie.
What I found was that many considered this film to be the weakest of all the Studio Ghibli films, which honestly does not surprise me.
Based off the book series by Ursula K. Le Guin, Tales From Earthsea is a slow, confusing film that left me with multiple questions but not in a good way.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s son, the film follows disgraced prince Arren (Junichi Okada) who encounters a wizard named Sparrowhawk (Bunta Sugawara), who reminded me a lot of Lord Yupa from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. 
The film then aimlessly follows these two characters, both of which have little to no agency.

sparrowhawk and arren
Arren has no goal for the majority of the film. Shadowhawk does but this just results in him wandering around until he conveniently finds where he is supposed to go.

This lack of agency eventually results in them taking refuge with Sparrowhawk’s old friend Tenar (Jun Fubuki) and the girl in her care Therru (Aoi Teshima).
Oh, and there’s an evil wizard who wants eternal life that is thrown in there for good measure (Yūko Tanaka).
In all seriousness, I spent an incredibly large portion of the film wondering what the plot of Tales From Earthsea was.
As I said, the characters have little to no agency..
They just spend the majority of the film on a farm talking before the plot suddenly propels them into a confusing finale that left me baffled.
There’s this weird things about characters have two names and an even weirder dragon scene that isn’t explained.
I had absolutely no idea what was going on during the ending.

Therra something
The third act of this film is confusing, raising way more questions than it answers.

Not only this but some of the characters’ actions make no sense or are not explained.
Probably the worst case of this is our hero Arren.
A terrible act he commits at the beginning of the film is not explained well and it leads to some weird spiritual thing happening within him that feels entirely lacking in substance.
Also, why was Arren a prince anyway?
That had no significance whatsoever.

arren
Arren is without a doubt in my mind the weakest Studio Ghibli protagonist I have seen so far.

I’m not going to act like the film is completely terrible though.
Even though a lot of the animation is average, there are a couple of stunning shots here and there.
I also found myself liking Shadowhawk’s character, with one great scene where he uses his magic being very funny.
Overall though, Tales From Earthsea is a confusing film with mostly uncompelling characters and an aimless plot that left me scratching my head.
I have to agree with the majority of people in saying that this is Studio Ghibli’s weakest film.

 

Attack on Titan Chapter 130, Dawn for Humanity Review: The Devil Brings the Apocalypse.

5 stars
You know, it’s funny how I keep predicting how the story of Attack on Titan will go only for the next chapter to immediately prove me wrong.
In my predictions post for Chapter 130, “Dawn for Humanity”, I predicted that Historia would not be shown again until the end of the story.
So, imagine my complete surprise and happiness when I saw a spoiler that she would appear in a flashback this chapter.
As soon as I saw that spoiler, I immediately went offline so I wouldn’t accidentally get spoiled again and could experience the chapter for myself.
And boy was it an experience.
“Dawn for Humanity” is definitely in my top 10 favourite chapters of the entire manga, which is surprising considering how short it is.
This shortness is due to the final scene of the chapter that is full of constant glorious, yet horrifying double spread panels of the Rumbling arriving and laying waste to Marley.
My jaw was on the floor throughout this entire scene, with these panels being the best artwork Hajime Isayama has ever delivered.
He certainly has come a long way from his wonky artwork at the start of the manga.
Seriously, these panels just made the Rumbling so much more horrifying, with the Colossal Titans swimming under the best ships in the world’s navy and blowing them apart with steam.
Following this, is the terrifying shot of the Titan’s silhouettes as they emerge from the ocean.
Then, as the Marleyan soldiers flee, Isayama finally gifts us with the visual we have been waiting seven chapters for, a full view of Eren’s gigantic Titan.
And it. Is. Horrifying.
My first thought when I saw Eren like this was that he looked like the devil, which may have more significance later on.
The shot of his monstrous face with a soldier yelling that it’s the Attack Titan is chilling and I cannot wait for it to be animated.
I can already imagine this epic reveal with the cry of, “Shingeki No Kyojin!” when this is adapted.
Although, I do feel sorry for the poor souls who have to animate this moment because it is going to be incredibly time consuming and difficult.
Fingers crossed that Studio Mappa can pull it off.
Another interesting feature is the strings that seem to be holding up part of Eren’s Titan form from the spine.
This makes him look kind of like a marionette, which raises questions about Isayama symbolically portraying Eren as not free.
In any case, I have absolutely no clue how the alliance can even hope to stop Eren at this point.
He is the literal devil and commands millions of Colossal Titans.
He’s practically unbeatable.
Also, there’s no longer any hope of there being a Code Geass ending, not that I wanted one.
The Rumbling has reached Marley and Eren’s genocide has begun.
There is no coming back from this.
Speaking of the alliance though, we get a brief scene of them this chapter, which has some fantastic character development for Annie.
The horrified look on her face when she realizes they can’t save Liberio, and that her father is most likely dead, is striking because it is the most emotion she has ever shown.
Her tearful confession that she doesn’t want to kill the 104th or Eren anymore is just as tragic and her deciding to leave the alliance because of these things makes me wonder what Isayama has planned for her in the future.
From here, we go into Eren’s flashbacks, before the reveal of the Rumbling, and they are filled with tonnes of interesting information.
The most important of these is obviously the Historia flashback because of its implications.
The scene between her and Eren is frustratingly vague but intentionally so.
Historia is revealed to be against Eren’s decision to destroy the world but seems to reach some kind of deal with him by deciding to have a child.
A representation of Historia’s childhood story book where Christa made a deal with the devil perhaps?
Whether this is the case or not, Historia asking Eren what he would think about her having a child practically screams to me that Eren is the father of her baby.
Not only this but when Zeke confirms that Mikasa most likely loves Eren, it is revealed that Eren is thinking of Historia in this moment.
However, despite this seeming to show Eren has a stronger connection to Historia and is most likely the father of her child, there is still evidence for the Eren and Mikasa ship.
As I said, Zeke suspects that Mikasa is in love with Eren, confirming that what Eren said about Mikasa only following him because of her Ackermann instincts is a steaming pile of Titan poop.
This most likely means that everything he told Mikasa and Armin in Chapter 112 was a lie meant to protect them by distancing themselves from him.
So, Mikasa being revealed to possibly be in love with Eren for real does raise the possibility of their ship potential.
Sure, Eren does say he doesn’t have time for anything like that because he only has four years left to live but this is back when he lied to Zeke practically every sentence so we should take what he says here with a pinch of salt.
Therefore, even though I am in favor of Eren being the father of Historia’s child because of its thematic weight, especially if the child turns out to be the reincarnation of Ymir Fritz, I can admit that there are some hints to Mikasa ending up with Eren too.
I think we can all agree though that, if any ship turns out to be canon, the last thing we want is another Tokyo Ghoul situation where people whose ship didn’t become canon send death threats to the author.
No matter what happens, lets be respectful guys.
Back to the chapter, other highlights of Eren’s flashbacks include a memory shard of the fez kid being assaulted, revealing that there will be a future flashback between Eren and him, and a flashback of Floch listening in to Eren’s conversation with Yelena.
This leads to Eren tasking Floch with pretending to support Yelena and Zeke so they can start the Rumbling and destroy the world.
What is particularly interesting about this moment is Floch’s reaction to Eren’s plan.
He looks shocked and maybe even a little horrified.
I would love to know what was going through Floch’s head at this moment.
If he does turn out to be alive then I hope we get a POV moment from him where he reflects on how he got to the cruel point he is now.
However, it is with this Floch flashback that I have to take issue because Eren describes the people he intends to kill as “animals.”
This not only makes him pretty unsympathetic but also makes no sense because he confirms he knows there are innocent people to Historia in the very next scene.
And speaking of that scene, there is another problem with the dialogue because Eren says that the Military Police plan to feed Zeke to Historia now that he is on Paradis.
Yet, going by the timeline, this conversation takes place months before Zeke arrived on the island.
All of that said though, I cannot fault the chapter for these dialogue problems because they are not Hajime Isayama’s problem but the translators’.
Not only do they make a mistake with translating in relation to the timeline but also with the “animals” line because, looking into it, I found that it wasn’t quite an accurate translation and that they most likely went overboard with it.
I hope they can do a better job with the translations next chapter.
Overall though, “Dawn for Humanity” was a phenomenal Attack on Titan chapter.
It delivered some great character development for Annie, finally brought back Historia, and gifted us with one of the most gloriously horrifying moments of the entire manga.

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas Review: Expectedly Tragic Yet Unexpectedly Tragic.

4 and a half stars
Admit it, when you first heard the title I Want to Eat Your Pancreas you instantly thought this would be some kind of weird fetish anime.
If you did think that, I don’t blame you because that’s what I thought it would be as well, and I questioned why the anime club I belonged to would watch such a thing.
Well, in 108 minutes the film turned the title of I Want To Eat Your Pancreas from cringe inducing to one laced with tragedy but not the kind of tragedy you expect.
Directed by Shin’ichirō Ushijima and based off the novel by Yoru Sumino, the film follows a high school loner (Mahiro Takasugi) who learns that a girl from his class Sakura (Lynn) is suffering from an illness that will eventually kill her.
Initially wanting nothing to do with her, Sakura quickly worms her way into his life, befriending him and slowly teaching him about the beauty in life.

friendship
Sakura practically drags our main character kicking and screaming into friendship.

The bond between these two is genuinely sweet, yet filled with dread because you know any chance of romance between the two can only end in an expected tragedy.
Yet, somehow, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas succeeds in making the tragedy unexpected as well, delivering a shocking twist that literally had me screaming “WHAT!?” when I first saw it.
This twist was a stroke of tragic genius on the writer’s part, delivering a gut punch that left me and many others viewing the film reeling, causing quite a few of us to tear up.

sakura
Prepare to cry when watching the film.

With solid animation and music, this all combines to create an emotional experience that I was not expecting going in.
Watch I Want to Eat Your Pancreas. 
You expect one tragedy but end up with another one entirely.

Attack on Titan Chapter 130 Predictions.

The 130th Chapter of Attack on Titan is just around the corner and, with it being the final chapter of Volume 32, I think it will be a pretty important one.
There are some scenarios that I think could play out but, before I get into those, I would first like to go through some questions and theories that I and many others have.

Where’s Historia and Zeke?

It feels like every single predictions post I make I am asking where these two are.
Well, my thoughts about when they will show up has not really changed so, unless I get a new idea on where they are, I will not be mentioning them in future predictions posts after this.
For now, I’ll just say that I don’t think Historia’s role in all this is going to be revealed up until the very end, which is disappointing but hopefully Isayama will give us something good to make up for her extreme lack of screen time lately.
As for Zeke, he is most likely trapped in Eren’s Titan, possibly being the one making the Titans since Ymir now appears to be free.
Therefore, he will probably reappear during the final battle with Eren.
So, I expect Zeke to show up pretty soon but we will probably have to wait quite a few months to get Historia again.

What Happened to the Recruits Keith Saved?

Down to a question that will probably not have a huge impact on the plot but it is one I am wondering about nonetheless.
Back in Chapter 124, Keith saved the recruits who had beat him to a pulp at the order of the Yeagerists.
Then, in Chapter 125, these recruits were shown to be helping Keith who instructed them to wait for an opportunity to rise up.
Finally, in the most recent chapter, Keith returned to help the alliance escape the Yeagerists and went out in a blaze of glory with Magath, yet the recruits weren’t with him.
So, the question is, “where are they and what role will they have?”
Will they take out the remaining Yeagerists on the island or will they just inform the other characters of Keith’s heroic sacrifice later?
It will be interesting to see what Isayama does with these characters, if anything at all.
But, as I said, I can’t imagine that the recruits will have a massive role in the story going forward.
In predicting who I think will have a big role going forward I have to get into the first event that I think could happen in Chapter 130, which is…

Possibility One: Floch Will Kill Someone.

In “Retrospective” Floch tried to destroy the ship to prevent the alliance from reaching Eren but was shot by Gabi and fell into the sea.
Despite this, I and many others don’t think Floch is dead and this is primarily for two reasons.
The first of these is that Floch was only hit in the shoulder and if Isayama was going to kill him for real he would have made sure to show him getting hit in a more fatal region.
The second is that Gabi being the one to kill Floch does not fit in with his character arc at all.
This makes it all the more likely that Floch survived and has snuck onto the boat or plane and is going to make a one man last stand against the alliance in Chapter 130.
During this last stand he will probably kill an important member of the cast as well.
I think there are four possible characters who could bite the bullet at Floch’s hands and they are Gabi, Hange, Connie and Jean.
Gabi being killed by Floch on the ship would parallel her killing Sasha on the airship in Chapter 105.
However, Isayama seems to be building to something with Gabi so I doubt Floch will kill her.
Then there is Hange who has had some interaction with Floch and him killing her would deprive the alliance of a leader figure, forcing others to step up.
Yet, I’m unsure of how this would tie into Hange’s arc.
A far more likely character to die by Floch is Connie who has been getting a lot of character development lately.
I have stated that I felt his storyline in Chapter 126 was pointless but maybe it was Isayama building up to his death here.
However, the character I am scared about dying the most at Floch’s hands is Jean.
Out of any character, Jean has had the most interaction and buildup with Floch who has always been a representation of what Jean could have become.
Not to mention that the volume started with Jean imagining the happy life he could live, which is a massive death flag.
The volume beginning with Jean’s imaginary happy ever after only to end the volume with his death would be tragic.
It also feels like we need to be losing some more 104th members before this story ends.
Although, this is still assuming that Floch is alive and he will make his move in Chapter 130.
If he is alive then he could act later, maybe when the alliance actually reaches Eren.
Floch killing someone is just one of three possible events that I think is likely for next chapter.
The second likely scenario is…

Possibility Two: Kiyomi Will Reveal Something.

Kiyomi is a character who I have always wondered what the point of her was.
Sure, she provides the plane that allows the alliance to reach Eren for the final battle of the story.
Otherwise, she doesn’t really seem to have much of a purpose, yet she has this constantly suspicious air about her that makes me think Isayama is hiding something about her.
Her connection and interest in Mikasa only adds to this suspicion.
There have even been theories out there connecting her to Eren Kruger and Tom Xaver.
All of this makes me think that Kiyomi has to know something, which she could reveal in Chapter 130 while the alliance is on the boat heading to Odiha.
And that’s another thing.
What is the significance of Odiha?
Is it a place that is tied into the important thing Kiyomi might reveal?
There are a lot of questions surrounding Kiyomi’s character and I hope Isayama answers them soon to make her a more interesting character.

Possibility Three: The Alliance Will Reach Eren.

The final possible event that I think could happen in Chapter 130 is the alliance reaching Eren at the end.
It would be a great way to end the volume, with the alliance seeing Eren’s massive Titan form from the plane, which we get a complete look at for the first time.
A lot of people would be ecstatic about this since Eren has not been seen since Chapter 123 and they want to see him again.
However, I do think that this is the least likely of the three possibilities because then the focus of Chapter 130 would almost be entirely dedicated to getting the plane ready, making the whole journey to Odiha feel kind of pointless,
So, I think it will be at least a couple more chapters before the alliance confronts Eren in the final battle of the manga.
Although, this is just my prediction and I have been entirely wrong before.
Maybe Isayama could have the alliance see Eren at the end of Chapter 130.
We won’t know until the chapter comes out.
Until then though, I and many others will be waiting with excitement to see how the final chapter of Volume 32 will play out.