Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Review: Pants or no Pants?

4 stars
Made before the creation of Studio Ghibli, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is one of Hayao Miyazaki’s first films, and foreshadows many of the themes that would appear in his future ones.
The story takes place on a post-apocalyptic earth where humanity is in a state of constant war, either with the giant bug-like Ohm from the Sea of Decay, or with each other.
Nausicaä (Sumi Shimamoto) is a princess living in the Valley of the Wind who hopes for peace, communicating with the Sea of Decay and the Ohm in search of a solution.
However, her attempts for peace are quickly shattered by an invading army that gets her peaceful valley embroiled in the wars that plague the landscape.
From here, the story kicks off with Nausicaä trying to put an end to the fighting, interacting with numerous characters on all sides of the conflict, revealing the films themes about the horrors of war and environmentalism.
These would later become staple themes for Miyazaki.
Nausicaä herself is a pretty great protagonist with some especially enjoyable moments towards the end of the film.
My favourite character though would have to be Lord Yupa (Goro Naya), a wise and respected warrior and adventurer who, although serving a minor role, steals every scene he is in.

Yupa
Lord Yupa is a cool character and I wish he had got more screen time. 

As for the animation of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, it is great for 1984, laying a template for what Studio Ghibli would go to create.
The film does have a couple of issues though, mainly with the Giant Warrior and the Tolmeikan.
The Giant Warrior is hyped up for quite a bit of the film and, while it does serve a role thematically, its presence at the end is incredibly minor, despite all of its buildup.
As for the Tolmeikan, their actions during the credits scene left me pretty confused, especially in how some of the crimes they commit in the film is never really addressed again.
Also, the film makes a point of introducing an animal companion for Nausicaä but it has no point other than being cute.
And then there is Nausicaä’s character design, oh boy.
I remember my jaw dropping in the first twenty minutes of the film when the wind blew her skirt up to reveal her bare bottom for all the world to see!
Thankfully, after doing some research, it does appear that Nausicaä is actually wearing pants.
They are just the exact same color as her skin and have a butt impression, so, whenever we get a low angle shot of her, it appears she is wearing nothing under her skirt when she actually is.
However, I had no idea about this when watching the film so there were numerous times when her skirt flew up that left me feeling pretty uncomfortable.

butt pants
See? Her pants look exactly like her skin!

Why they didn’t change the coloring of her pants is baffling to me because, even knowing this, it ruins some scenes because of what it looks like.
Despite these issues though, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is still a very well done anime film that laid the groundwork for the fantastic films Miyazaki would make in the future.

 

Attack on Titan The Final Season Trailer Reaction: Excited yet Concerned.

And so it begins.
After months of rumors and speculation, we finally have a new poster and trailer for Attack on Titan‘s final season.
Speaking of the trailer first, I will say that it is absolutely incredible.
It parallels season one’s poster perfectly and is definitely one I can see hanging up on my wall.
As for the new trailer, it finally reveals that Wit Studio is passing on the anime adaptation to Mappa Studio to finish.
And, of course, with the studio change comes a different animation style.
Admittedly, I was initially unsure how I felt about it but, after watching the trailer multiple times, I kind of dig it.
It’s clear they were trying to emulate the manga’s style and they definitely succeeded, for the most part.
Another cool thing about the animation is how much of it is not static.
I was afraid there would be quite a few still images based off how much movement is in certain shots but this issue was virtually nonexistent, at least from what the trailer shows us.
Along with this, I was shocked about what the animation showed as well, and this is one of my few criticisms of the trailer because it did spoil some very recent events in the manga.
Still, I’m sure that without the context many anime only viewers will have no idea what they are looking, so I’m sure it’ll be fine.
What is more concerning is the limited role of prior seasons’ Director, Tetsurō Araki, and composer, Hiroyuki Sawano.
While both do apparently have a part in making it, new director Yūichirō Hayashi and new composer, Kohta Yamamoto, look to be taking the reigns for the final season.
Granted, I don’t know too much about either of these people, and they could do a fantastic job but Araki and Sawano did such an amazing job with their directing and music in the first three seasons that I am concerned about their lessened roles.
I can say though that the music, animation and direction for the trailer is stellar so, hopefully, this is a sign that Mappa will be able to do the manga justice.
It has also been confirmed that what was shown in this trailer was animated solely for the trailer, which I am honestly both relieved and slightly nervous about.
On the one hand, there are images from all way up to Chapter 122 and there is no way they could have animated that already if there were more than 20 episodes.
Seeing this scared me into believing we might just end up with another Tokyo Ghoul: Re situation but knowing it was animated for the trailer makes me feel a lot better.
Another thing this gives them time to fix is some character designs that look a little off, like Porco and Levi’s, and an added fourteenth finger pointing at Ymir, which ruins ruining the symbolism this scene had in the manga.
However, on the other hand, a lot of this animation was fantastic and a part of me is concerned we might not get the same excellent quality when the season finally airs.
Although, this fear has no evidence behind it, it is just my paranoia getting the better of me, so, hopefully, it will turn out fine.
This trailer also gives us a first look at many of the new characters like Falco, Gabi, Pieck, Colt, Udo, Zofia, and Willy, who all look amazing in the new animation style.
We also got to hear the voice actors for Falco, Gabi and Willy, who all sound great.
The opening shot of the trailer with Falco looking up at the bird and telling it that it needs to fly away sent chills down my spine.
Another fantastic moment was the final shot of the trailer, which looks to be Eren and Reiner fighting in Shiganshina during Chapter 117.
However, their outfits are from the Marley Arc here so this is likely another shot made just for the trailer.
Yet, it is such an amazing shot that I hope they actually create something like it for the adaptation of that chapter.
One shot I was not a fan of though was the shadowed version of Reiner’s suicide attempt.
Sadly, it looks like they will be censoring this scene, lessening its impact.
But, for every iffy moment in the trailer, there is a great moment that makes up for it, like the teases to Chapter 100, which I just cannot wait to see animated because, if adapted right, it will be one of the series’ best episodes.
I also cannot wait to see the entirety of Volume 30 adapted because, in my opinion, Chapters 119-122 are the best writing Hajime Isayama has ever given us.
I wonder if the season will be split up into two cores, like Season Three, or if they will do it all in one go and pull a Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood by having the anime end at the same time as the manga.
Either way, I believe the final season needs to be 25 episodes or more if it is going to adequately adapt the remaining story.
Let’s hope Studio Mappa can live up to Wit Studio and Hajime Isayama’s legacy.

Top 11 Telltale’s The Walking Dead Episodes.

I recently revisited the Definitive Edition of Telltale’s The Walking Dead and was once again amazed by the quality of its episode.
Given this, I decided to rank my top 10 favourite episodes.
However, no matter how hard I tried, I found it impossible to cram it into ten because there was always one episode that fell outside that I just had to mention.
Therefore, I decided to make this a Top 11 list instead of Top 10.
And the one episode that made this list a Top 11 is,

11. Done Running – Season 4, Episode 1.

Done Running.jpg

“Done Running” was a real breath of fresh air after the forgettable third season.
It put the final season on the right track again, delivering on an interesting story and a relatable cast of characters that were fun to interact with.
Picking up with Clementine and A.J, who has now grown into a miniature force to be reckoned with, the two are in an accident, which leads to them being found by the former students of Ericson’s Boarding School for Troubled Youth.
What follows is great setup for the rest of the season, with you getting to know almost all the troubled kids and get a sense of their personalities.
It is great character building and all leads up to the epic ending where Clementine learns how the school’s leader Marlon let two of his own people be taken away to save his own skin.
A skin that certainly didn’t last long because, in the shocking cliffhanger, A.J takes Clementine’s advice a little more seriously than she intended and puts a bullet in his head after he surrenders.
A shocking ending for a great setup episode, and the season would only get better from here.

10. Around Every Corner – Season 1, Episode 4.

Around Every Corner

Another great episode, “Around Every Corner” has strong moments throughout.
The opening Walker attack, the zombie child, Molly’s introduction, Ben’s fate and, of course, Lee getting bitten.
The build up to this final moment and the ending, with characters potentially choosing to come with you or not based on your choices, felt like an earned payoff to all the time you spent interacting and bonding with them.
Along with this, there are plenty of other choices that had impact.
For example, you can get Molly killed if your aim is awful, and choose to drop Ben to his death and save him.
Speaking of deaths, one that you cannot change is Chuck’s, as he kills himself when he is cornered by Walkers after saving Clementine’s life.
It was a tragic death for a small time yet great character.
Another nice addition is the Crawford storyline, which shows just how desperate people can become once the apocalypse hits, as it can lead them to commit atrocities.
And, while Lee and the others have to deal with all of this craziness, the mysterious stranger in contact with Clementine stalks you.
Overall,  “Around Every Corner” is a solid episode that builds into the perfect “No Time Left”

9. Take Us Back – Season 4, Episode 4.

Take Us Back

The final episode of the final season, I and many other fans were incredibly nervous coming into “Take Us Back.”
We wanted to know what the fate of Clementine, A.J and all the kids at the school would be, hoping they would make it, and that their story’s would conclude in a satisfying way.
And it did… for the most part.
I’ll get my few negatives that hold the episode back out of the way first.
For one, I didn’t like the roles Lily and James played in the episode, depending on which one of them survived the previous one.
James’ character is basically ruined in this episode when he tries to take A.J away.
Also, I wish there was more variety with Clementine’s ending and not just one set down fate for her.
That said, her fate is a great way to end Clementine’s story.
The bait and switch of her fake out death was fantastic and led to a lot of cheers.
Many of the decisions were also incredibly hard to make and the one about whether or not to trust A.J does leave a big impact on who survives.
Minnie is a terrifying villain in this final episode, reminding me of a horror movie slasher.
It is the emotional ending above all else though that makes “Take Us Back” worth it.
“Thank you for playing” indeed.

8. Long Road Ahead – Season 1, Episode 3.

long-road-ahead.jpg

“Long Road Ahead,” or as I like to call it “Another One Bites The Dust,” is an episode full of deaths and departures.
I’m sure we all screamed when Carley/Doug was shot out of nowhere, and I’m doubly sure that no tears were shed when their murderer Lily left, either through escaping us or us kicking her out, depending on our choice.
Then there was the deaths of both Duck and Katjaa, which was just a gut punch of a scene.
Once Duck was bitten, he was a dead kid walking, but Katjaa committing suicide was something I’m sure none of us expected.
The effect this would have on Kenny going forward in the story was great for his character.
With all of this death, Chuck then encouraged Lee to teach Clementine how to defend herself, which he does, showing her how to use a gun and keep her hair short, which would help her survival greatly later on.
As for Chuck, he is first introduced in this episode and, while he did not stick around long, he is still an important character for encouraging Lee to make sure Clem could protect herself if he ever died.
Then there is Christa and Omid who are both welcome additions to the cast as well.
“Long Road Ahead” is an episode of gains and losses.
We lost some truly fantastic characters and gained a few new ones, in an episode that was hell of an emotional roller coaster.

7. A House Divided – Season 2, Episode 2.

a-house-divided.jpg

Speaking of emotion, how about that unexpected Kenny reunion in “A House Divided”?
Of all the characters I expected to return in this episode after the “I thought you were dead” trailer, Kenny was certainly low on my probability guess.
Not that I was complaining though as he continued to be one of the series’ best characters.
Along with the emotional Kenny reunion, there are a lot of other great things about “A House Divided,” like the introduction of the series’ greatest villain Carver.
His interrogation scene with Clementine is so intense no matter how you play it.
The final confrontation with him at the end of the episode, with the possibly of Alvin being killed by him based on what you choose, is even more intense.
The episode also gives you the time to get to know the new characters of the group Clementine met in the first episode, along with Kenny’s group.
Although, Nick continues to be an idiot by stupidly shooting a man trying to help us.
However, it did lead to a great payoff with Walter who can either save Nick or let him die based on what you tell him.
So, with some great choice variety, a fantastic villain, and an emotional reunion with Kenny, “A House Divided” is the first great episode of season two.

6. No Going Back – Season 2, Episode 5.

No Going Back.jpg

The second best finale of The Walking Dead Telltale series, “No Going Back” also has one of the best choices as well.
By that, I of course mean the final ones, where you have to choose to either let Kenny kill Jane or shoot him, and then whether or not to stay with the survivor.
These choices were some of the hardest I had to make and I cried a lot at the Kenny ones.
Although, I will say that I wish it had been Luke we had to choose to save rather than Jane because he is a much better character and had more conflict with Kenny but, alas, he dies rather stupidly earlier in the episode.
Luke’s death is not the only bad part about this episode sadly, as no one dies in the fight with the Russians, which was the cliffhanger of the previous episode.
The group are also robbed by Bonnie, Mike, and literal worst character Arvo, who has the nerve to shoot Clementine when they’re robbing a group that has a baby.
Honestly, the first portion of this episode does have a lot of problems but the endings more than make up for them.
It was an intense way to end season two and, at the time, I couldn’t wait to see how season three would follow them up.
Too bad season three insultingly threw these endings in the trash but, in my opinion, that does not damage how great these endings are.
They literally saved the episode and made it good enough to put at number six on my list.

5. Suffer the Children – Season 4, Episode 2.

Suffer the Children

After the great setup episode that was “Done Running,” “Suffer the Children” continued in making the final season even better, starting off with the moral questions surrounding A.J’s execution of Marlon.
How you chose to react to the murder clearly shapes A.J, and we get a realistic look at how him and the other survivors at the school react to the situation.
After inevitably being kicked out, Clem and A.J then run into Lily, whose arrival was unfortunately spoiled by the episode trailer.
It was a cool idea to bring Lily back and she serves her role well both in this episode and the following one, which we will get to later.
Clem’s reunion with Lily also leads to her meeting new character James, who is a former Whisperer in a fantastic reference to the comics.
Upon returning to the school, we get more amazing interactions with the characters, including the choice of Clementine romancing either Louis or Violet, both of whom make great love interests for her.
This all builds into the final battle of the episode with Lily and her Delta forces, which is a blast to play through.
The final choice between saving either Louis or Violet is a little too easy though because why wouldn’t you save Clem’s love interest?
Overall though, “Suffer the Children” is a fantastic episode with a lot of great character development and action that would build into one of the best episodes of the series, “Broken Toys.”

4.  In Harms Way – Season 2, Episode 3.

In Harm's Way

After the great “A House Divided,” “In Harm’s Way” continued in making Carver the best villain of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. 
Having kidnapped Clementine’s group, he proves how much of a psychopath he is by killing Reggie, beating Alvin to within an inch of his life (if he’s still alive at this point), and bashing Kenny’s eye in.
Carver alone is one of the big reasons why “In Harm’s Way” is such a fantastic episode.
His threatening presence is constant, even when he is not on screen, and everyone is rightly afraid of him.
It is his interactions with Clementine though that probably make him the most interesting as he notices their similarities.
His ending in this episode is also great, with Kenny bashing in his face with a crowbar, which you can choose to have Clementine watch.
I just wish he had stuck around to episode four because his presence really could have fixed that awful episode.
Carver is not the only fantastic character this episode though as others are given the chance to shine like Alvin, who goes out in epic style.
In any case, the rest of “In Harm’s Way” is amazing as well, especially the ending, which sees the group attempting to escape through a heard of Walkers, only for Carlos to be shot and killed, causing Sarah to run off, and Sarita to be bitten.
The only downside to this episode is the choices, as they don’t really have that much of an impact.
Despite this, “In Harm’s Way” is easily season two’s best episodes.

3. Starved for Help – Season 1, Episode 2.

Starved For Help.jpg

The first ever episode of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, “A New Day,” was a great start to the series, and almost made it on the list, but its followup episode, “Starved for Help,” is in a league of its own.
Picking up three months after the first episode, “Starved For Help” kicks off with an intense sequence that sees Lee and his group rescue new character Ben and his friends.
Only problem is that you have to either cut off one his friends’ legs to free him from a bear trap or leave him to die.
Either way, both of Ben’s friends die, with one of them turning, revealing to the group that they are all infected and will turn into a Walker when they die, unless the brain is destroyed.
From here, the tension only gets higher as you meet the St. John family who invite Lee’s group over for a nice friendly dinner with Marks legs as the main dish.
Yep, they’re cannibals, and the build up to this reveal is magnificent.
Finding Mark with his legs hacked off is easily one of the most horrifying moments of the entire series and the following events are just as iconic.
Having to choose to either kill Larry after he has a heart attack or try to help, only for Kenny to kill him, and taking down the St. John brothers are all intense scenes.
What’s make it even more horrifying is that many of these events are foreshadowed by what Marks says at the beginning of the episode.
Along with this, “Starved for Help” also has a lot of hard choices, like who to give food to and whether we should take food from the car or not at the end.
And, while the car choice does not lead to a different experience based on what you choose, the impact that this moment had on the rest of the season would be huge.
Intense, horrifying, and even having a couple of light hearted moments, “Starved for Help” is one of season one’s best episodes.

2. Broken Toys – Season 4, Episode 3.

Broken Toys.jpg

Without a doubt in my mind, the best episode of season four, “Broken Toys” is a fantastic penultimate episode that was a great way to return to the series after Telltale Games’ shutdown.
Thank god Skybound was able to deliver this episode because it is not only the best in season four but my second favourite episode of the entire series.
After the raid on Ericson’s, Clementine prepares to launch a rescue mission to get her friends back from Lily and the Delta.
What follows is an episode with a lot of stellar moments from Abel’s interrogation, to James having you walk with the Walkers and, of course, the intense third act, which sees Clementine raid the Delta’s boat.
This was an amazing ending that had plenty of shocking moments packed into a half hour segment.
Minnie’s betrayal was surprising and made her easily one of the most hateable characters of the season.
Then there is the final battle with Lily, which is one of the most intense fights of the series, resulting in the deaths of either her or James.
Speaking of James, his role in this episode is perfect and I came to appreciate him a lot.
Too bad he was ruined in the final episode if he survived.
Other stand out characters are Violet and Louis whose relationship with Clementine continues to grow, depending on which one you had Clem romance.
Although, this does tie into the one criticism I had that keeps “Broken Toys” from taking the top spot.
This criticism is that if you didn’t save Violet in the previous episode then she will turn on you and her reasons for doing so seem contrived to me.
But, this said, if you save Violet instead of Louis it leads to the horrifying moment when you learn Louis had his tongue cut out, which is very well done.
Along with the horror, there are also heartfelt moments though, like Clementine’s final meeting with Lee, which was all kind of tear inducing.
My second favourite episode in all of Telltale’s The Walking Dead series, “Broken Toys” is an intense ride with a lot of shocking and emotional moments.

1. No Time Left – Season 1, Episode 5.

No Time Left.jpg

There was not a dry eye in the house of many players upon first finishing the final episode of the first season, “No Time Left.”
The greatest episode of the entire series, “No Time Left” centers on Lee’s final, desperate struggle to rescue Clementine and prepare her for a world without him, having been bitten in the previous episode.
This culminates in his death at the end, with the player having to choose to either have Clementine shoot him or leave him to turn.
Either way, Lee’s final words to Clementine are heartbreaking and always leaves me with tears at my eyes.
It is the most emotional moment of the entire series and one of the most emotional in all of gaming.
Along with Lee’s traumatic death, there are many other emotional moments, like Kenny’s fake out death, which is perfectly handled, no matter how it turns out.
Either Kenny appears to go out saving Christa, saving the soon to be life of a child after he lost his own, or he appears to go out by mercy killing Ben, forgiving him, in a sense, for his family’s death.
And then there’s the stranger.
The group taking the food from the car seemed insignificant on the first play through of “Starved For Help” but “No Time Left” proved that perception wrong because the owner of the car is the one who kidnapped Clementine.
Revealing the tragic loss of his own family because of the group’s actions, the Stranger judges Lee and, by extension, the player for every bad choice they made.
There is a piece of optional dialogue Lee can give here about his wife and how he caused her a lot of pain through his actions and this has always stuck with me.
Lee’s fight to reach Clementine and the Stranger and his final fight with the kidnapper are both great moments, especially in how it results in Lee and Clementine learning that Walker blood can help hide you from the Walkers.
It also leads to Clementine seeing her parents as Walkers, which is a real gut punch.
It is Lee’s emotional goodbye though that is the centerpiece of this episode.
His death turns season one of The Walking Dead into a tragic story about one man who made a bad choice sacrificing himself to save a little girl, redeeming himself.
“No Time Left” is Telltale’s The Walking Dead’s best episode that always leaves me in tears by the end.

Westworld Season Three Review: A Fall From Grace.

3 stars
Created by Jonathon Nolan and Lisa Joy, Westworld is a series that I have been invested in right from the beginning.
As soon as it started airing I was hooked.
I loved season one and, even though season two gets a lot of criticism, I personally think it is just as good as the first with some of the show’s best episodes.
And now we have season three, which was… okay?
I put a question mark there because I am genuinely unsure of how to feel about this season.
It certainly wasn’t bad but, unlike the other two seasons, there were very little standout moments that had me on the edge of my seat.
Season three honestly feels like an entirely different show and that is not exactly a good thing.
The story picks up with the setting changing from the titular Westworld park to the outside world, where Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) is beginning her plans to take over all of humanity with a Host Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thomspon) at her side.
Enter Aaron Paul’s character, Caleb Nichols, who is recruited by Dolores to help with her revolution.

Caleb
Aaron Paul does a good job as new character Caleb.

However, at the same time, the mysterious Engerraund Serac (Vincent Cassel) revives Maeve (Thandie Newton) with the intention of using her to take down Dolores… oh, and Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and William (Ed Harris) are in this season too but they really don’t matter.
I’ll start by saying that I liked the roles Dolores, Charlotte, Caleb and Maeve had in this season.
While their stories aren’t anything spectacular they are still enjoyable, with Caleb being a welcome addition to the cast.
There are also a few surprise returns from minor characters that are well used.
But then there are Bernard and William who, as I said, don’t really matter.
They honestly felt like afterthoughts this season, which is such a shame because they are among the series’ best characters.
I especially don’t like how William’s story appeared to end.

William
They did William dirty with his screen time this season.

Thankfully, there is one great scene with Bernard in the final episode, although I wish this scene had more build up to it happening.
Then there is the action, which seems to fluctuate in quality across the season.
For example, there are some fights that are very good in the final few episodes.
However, there is a fight with Ashely Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) in the second episode that was just atrocious in quality.
One thing I can definitely praise the season for though is Ramin Djawadi’s score because it is amazing, as always.
Along with this, the CGI is also well done.
The season is surprisingly short too, with only eight episodes compared to the original two seasons’ ten each.
I actually got to the final episode not realizing it was the finale so I was pretty surprised when I learnt that it was over.

final episoe
The finale does leave some characters’ fates in question though so here’s to hoping we get satisfying answers in season 4.

All in all though, season three is still pretty good overall.
But, with its story having almost no epic moments, some characters being mishandled, and a few action sequences being laughable, it does fall miles short of the first two seasons.

Grand Blue Review: 90% Nudity, 10% Diving.

3 and a half stars
The opening scene of Grand Blue, directed by Shinji Takamatsu and based off the manga by Keni Inoue, is quite the bait and switch.
As Iori Kitahara (Yuma Uchida) heads to his uncle’s diving shop, we expect a light hearted slice of life story as he learns to dive… only for us all to be met with the sight of a bunch of naked men (with their privates thankfully covered) drinking like there’s no tomorrow, revealing Grand Blue for the racy comedy that it is.
This was quite the shock for my Anime Club, which burst into laughter at the reveal.
I’m pretty sure the person who chose this show deliberately mislead us about what the show was about so we could make the most out of the surprise.
I thought Grand Blue would be 100% about diving going in but it’s actually only about 10%.
The other 90% is spent on nudity, alcohol and sexual jokes that never fail to get a laugh.
Following the opening scene, the anime follows Iori’s misadventures with the diving club.

alcahol poisoning
And, by misadventures, I mean drinking to the point that these characters have to develop alcohol poisoning at some point.

Among these characters are the practically nudist Shinji (Hiroki Yasumoto) and Ryujiro (Katsuyuki Konishi), and Iori’s cousins Nanaka (Maaya Uchida) and Chisa (Chika Anzai), who is both Iori’s and Nanaka’s crush.
Speaking of, incest seems to just be an accepted thing in this anime but it is thankfully played for laughs most of the time, so, whenever Nanaka is shown to be in love with her sister, it gets a laugh rather than a cringe.
Along with these characters, there is also the extreme anime nerd Kohei (Ryohei Kimura), who Iori drags into friendship kicking and screaming.
Their antics are of special hilarity, with many of the faces they pull reminding me of the Titans from Attack on Titan.

titan face
Tell me this face Iori pulls doesn’t look like Eren Jaeger’s Attack Titan.

However, although these characters are hilarious, they can be especially hard to root for at times, considering the things they do.
From exposing Chisa to a crowd to try and win a beauty pageant, to trying to get one of their friends’ girls to break up with him so he will be single like them, Iori and his friends are first rate jerks.
If the way that they went about doing these things wasn’t so hilarious, I would probably despise them.
Thankfully, the humor saves them.
As for the animation it is solid, being nothing spectacular but serviceable.
The music is the same, except for the opening that shares the name of the anime, which I would always find myself singing to.
The best thing about it though, as I have already stated, is definitely the top notch humor.
The rest of Grand Blue is serviceable but the jokes will have you laughing so hard that your sides hurt, which makes it definitely worth a watch.

Usagi Drop Review: Wholesome Fun… Unless You’ve Read The Manga.

4 stars
With Covid-19 still at large, the university anime club that I belong to has been forced to meet on Discord to watch and discuss shows.
One of these anime was Usagi Drop, directed by Kanta Kamei and based off the manga by Yumi Unita, and, boy, is this a wholesome one.
Usagi Drop follows Daikichi Kawachi (Hiroshi Tsuchida), an everyday guy who, upon arriving at his grandfather’s funeral, learns, much to his surprise, that his grandfather had a six-year-old illegitimate daughter named Rin (Ayu Maatsura).
With most of his family scorning Rin and wanting nothing to with her, Daikichi decides to take care of her.
But, with little to no experience in handling children, he is in for one heck of a struggle.

daikichi has his work cut out for him
Daikichi had his work cut out for him with the adorable Rin. 

From here, the anime kicks off, expanding on the growing relationship between Rin and Daikichi.
Their bond is great and they grow so much from it that, at times, I wondered who exactly was supposed to be the parent here, Rin or Daikichi?
Like them, the other characters are also good, with Daikichi’s family slowly coming to love Rin, and the two befriending a mother, Yukari Nitana (Sayaka Ohara), and her son, Kouki (Noa Saki).
Daikichi and Yukari’s friendship is especially great, with the two having fantastic chemistry to the point that I actually wanted them to end up together.
Backing up these characters are the constant adorable and funny moments, along with the animation, which in every episode, before the opening, takes on a unique style.

kouki and rin
Adding to the hilarity is the use of animation, particularly on some of the faces Rin makes.

The music is also good, delivering many cheery and feel good moments for the anime.
Overall, Usagi Drop is a heartfelt show that any aspiring parent would enjoy watching… just don’t read the manga.
No, seriously, DON’T.
I heard about the manga a few episodes in and looked it up after finishing the anime.
It was the worst decision I could have made because it taints the entirety of Daikichi and Rin’s father-daughter relationship.
Spoilers for the manga (you shouldn’t read it though), but the story actually ends with Rin, now 16, admitting her feelings for Daikichi after the two learn they actually aren’t blood related and the two enter a romantic relationship.
That’s disgusting.
It makes Usagi Drop feel like a grooming story and I honestly don’t know what Yumi Unita was thinking.

daikichi yuralki
There was perfect set up for a romantic relationship between Daikichi and Yuraki so I have no idea why the author went with Daikichi and Rin.

Thank god the anime didn’t adapt the ending and left Daikichi and Rin’s relationship as a father-daughter one that we can all love.
It is because of this that the anime remains great, just so long as you don’t think of the manga’s ending while watching it.

Tokyo Ghoul: Re, Anime Review. Declining Right Into The Dumpster.

two-star-rating
Coming into the Tokyo Ghoul anime adaptation, I knew I was pretty sure I was going to be in for a rough time, given its infamous portrayal of Sui Ishida’s original manga.
Thankfully, I found season one and √A to be good adaptations.
Granted, they both had a lot of problems but, overall, I think they are both be pretty decent.
This was not the case for the Tokyo Ghoul: Re adaptation, this time directed by Odahiro Watanabe.
Studio Pierrot really dropped the ball here.
There is so much wrong with this anime that I do not even know where to begin.
How about I start with how they packed 179 chapters into just 24 episodes?
This was a phenomenally bad idea because of much they had to cut or outright skip just to get to the end.

eto ghoul
Some of my favourite moments from the manga, like Kaneki’s up close reaction to Eto revealing she is a ghoul, are completely gone.

Events from the manga that had such an impact came and went so fast that they left no impact at all.
Not only this, but the anime adapts Re as if √A never happened, so the people who only watched √A would have been thoroughly confused watching.
Along with this, it’s clear that the people adapting the manga had only a surface level understanding of the manga.
Key traits of characters that deliver hidden messages, like Kaneki rubbing his chin when he lies are missing entirely.
The animation is also terrible, with the fights lacking any substance whatsoever.
To make matters worse, it’s not just the fight animation that sucks but the regular animation as well.
Just compare how the characters look when comparing Re to the first two seasons.
The characters in Re just look so bland and lifeless.
Something is also wrong with the color, which just looks dreary, and not in a good way.
Coming back to the characters though, they are terrible adaptation as well, with much of their development cut or changed for some reason.
When Kaneki realizes he killed hundreds, possibly thousands of innocent people when he became the dragon he barely reacts to it, unlike the manga where he breaks down.
How are we supposed to get attached to a character who shows no emotion after they learn they have accidentally become a mass murderer?

2020-05-14 (1)

awful adaptation
Look at this comparison between the anime and manga of Kaneki’s encounter with a hallucination of Rize. Manga Kaneki clearly has more emotion compared to anime Kaneki.

And then there’s Tooru.
Even though I didn’t like Ishida turning him from a likeable character into a psychopath in the manga, I can at least admit that it was done well.
In the anime, it’s awful.
Tooru is normal one moment and completely sadistic the next.
His transformation was obviously cut for censorship reasons, as was much of the violence to the point that characters who look barely injured die, when in the manga they died from extensive injuries.
Probably the worst part about this anime, though, is not the stupid changes, awful pacing, or terrible animation, but just how boring it all is.
I really had to struggle to get through the second half of the adaptation, which just shows how bad it is.
Whenever I read the manga, I often feel exhilarated but, when watching the same scenes in the anime, I feel nothing but boredom because of how poorly adapted it is.
Almost every single aspect from the manga is downgraded into dumpster quality.

furata
I was genuinely glad when the last episode finally ended because I no longer had to watch this terrible adaptation.

However, there are a few saving graces that stop the adaptation from being a complete disaster.
The music and the voice acting are still good, and there are some funny moments (although this should be credited to Ishida and not the anime).
Also, the two openings, “Asphyxia” and “Katharsis”, are actually very good, showing way more effort than √A’s opening “Munou”, which was just bad.
And that’s it.
The music, voice acting, a couple of funny moments, and the opening.
Those are the only good things about this anime that stop is from being the worst.
Everything else about it is a spectacular failure.
People say Tokyo Ghoul should get the Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood treatment and their right because Tokyo Ghoul deserves so much better than what Studio Pierrot gave it.
Sadly, if we ever do get another adaptation, I doubt it will be anytime soon.
And until we do (if we ever do), we will be stuck with this awful adaptation of Tokyo Ghoul: Re as its anime sendoff.
Well, on the plus side, Ishida recently revealed he is working on a new manga so we have that to look forward to, at least.

Richard Jewell Review: Shockingly True.

4 stars
On July 27, 1996, a pipe bomb resulted in two deaths and injured over a hundred people in the Centennial Olympic Park.
An investigation was quickly launched but the man who discovered the bomb, Richard Jewell was hailed as a hero for his actions… until he wasn’t.
When news that Jewell was the FBI’s number one suspect leaked to the media, they jumped on it and, soon enough, Richard Jewell was number one on everyone’s suspect list.
Just one problem: Jewell really was a hero.
He had nothing to do with the bombing and his actions probably saved the lives of hundreds of people.
Yet, his life was destroyed by flawed, one-track mind FBI investigating and media reporting that both threw integrity out the window.
This is the true story that Clint Eastwood’s 2019 film Richard Jewell tells, and it is incredibly compelling.
I had heard of Jewell’s story before but I only knew the basics.
After watching the film, I looked up how much of the story was true and most of it is.
The finer details are shocking, with the efforts the FBI and media took to prove Jewell’s guilt being, quite frankly, disgusting.
This disgust that I felt was helped by the extreme sympathy I felt for Jewell, who is played brilliantly by Paul Walter Hauser.

jewell
Hauser knocks it out of the park as Richard Jewell.

I recently watched interviews with Jewell and it is a spot on portrayal that is right up there with 2019’s best performances.
He is not the only one because Kathy Bates, as Jewell’s mother, Bobi, and Sam Rockwell, as Jewell’s lawyer, Watson Bryant, are both fantastic.
The structure of the film is also great, with it admittedly starting out a bit slow, but picking up in momentum once the bombing occurs.
All of this combines to create a shocking and great film, but one with a very big problem that holds it back from being one of 2019’s best.
This is the portrayal of certain characters, specifically Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) who plays the journalist who breaks the story about Jewell being a suspect.
She is portrayed in the most negative light possible, with her appearing to not care about the bombing deaths, only wanting a good story out of it, and trading sex for information.
While it is true that Scruggs was part of the media that slandered and demonized Jewell, her initial portrayal as irredeemably cruel feels a lot like the media’s initial portrayal of Jewell and thus hypocritical.
Thankfully, the film does go about showing she later regrets her actions, but the film’s message of not painting someone out to be a monster is slightly tainted by it doing this very thing.

repoter
Wilde is portrayed as villainous for most of the film, making it seem like the film is demonizing her the same way that Richard Jewell was demonized. 

Despite this, Richard Jewell is still Clint Eastwood’s best film in a long while.
With fantastic performances and a gripping true story, it raises good questions about the morality of certain parts of the media and authorities.

Attack on Titan Chapter 129 (and maybe 130) Predictions.

With the worldwide threat of Covid-19, it was understandable that many products would be delayed for the safety of those working on them.
One of these was Attack on Titan, which had its first ever delay, with Chapter 129 being held back a month.
Had the chapter not been delayed, it would probably be out by now.
It is unfortunate but necessary to keep people safe.
And, despite the delay, we might get a treat next month because there is speculation that not only will Chapter 129 be released next month but Chapter 130 as well.
However, I must put a huge emphasis on the “might” because this is just speculation and there is no official confirmation that we will get a double chapter release.
Still, even if we only get Chapter 129 next month, it will be exciting to see how it picks up on what appears to be the final battle with the Yeagerists.
All that said, let’s get into the predictions segment.

Will Armin go Colossal?

In “Traitor” Armin was not having a good day, being shot by his own former comrade, Samuel.
If Armin wasn’t a Titan Shifter then he’d be dead for sure.
But he is, and not just any Titan Shifter but the Colossal Titan.
With Armin’s extensive injuries, he might just have to go Colossal in Chapter 129 to fully heal.
This could deal huge damage to the Yeagerists, giving the alliance the chance they need to win,
However, there are some things that suggest this will not happen.
For one, Armin is right next to the plane they need to reach Eren.
If he transforms now then he will destroy the plane, ruining all chances of the alliance reaching Eren and pretty much ending the manga on a massive anticlimactic note.
Not to mention Connie is right beside him and I highly doubt Armin would risk killing his friend by transforming so close.
That’s not to say Armin couldn’t find a way to transform without harming Connie or destroying the boat, he is one of the smartest characters, after all.
Personally, I hope we do see Armin transform at least one more time before the manga ends.
He hasn’t transformed since Chapter 106 and, while I understand why he hasn’t transformed in subsequent battles,  because he would have killed his friends if he had, I really want to see him use it effectively.
Guess we’ll just have to wait and see if his Colossal Titan will show up next chapter.

Will Keith show up to save the day, no longer a bystander?

Along with the Colossal Titan, Keith Shadis is another contender for appearing in the next chapter.
He looks practically identical to the mysterious person watching the alliance escape in Chapter 126, and in Chapter 125 he did tells the recruits that were now loyal to him to wait for the right moment to overthrow the Yeagerists.
Maybe he saw the potential for that right moment in the alliance and intends to help them during this battle.
The recruits following him had been recruited into the Yeagerists, so it would make sense if they were brought to the harbor to fight with them, only to secretly smuggle in Keith who appears during the alliance’s darkest moment to save the day.
Given his prior interaction with Floch, next to Jean I think he is the most likely candidate to kill him.
Maybe he will shoot Floch and sprout some cool line like, “I don’t miss”, reflecting on how Floch missed shooting him.
Or maybe he could find another way to help that doesn’t involve him attacking the Yeagerists here, who knows?
Perhaps the mysterious silhouette watching the alliance was someone else, although, given how much it looks like Keith, I find that hard to believe.

How can Titans still transform?

Surprisingly enough, some people also found it hard to believe in the build up to Chapter 129 that the other Titan Shifters could still transform.
Their reasoning for this is that, since Ymir is now free, she should have no reason to build the Titans for the Shifters when they wish to transform.
Also, Eren seems to have complete control over the Founding Titan so speculation was that he should be able to stop the other Shifters from transforming.
However, Pieck constantly being in her Titan form disproved this theory way before Chapter 129 saw Annie and Reiner transform.
Nevertheless, how they can still transform despite Eren’s powers and Ymir’s supposed freedom is a good question.
Maybe Eren does not have complete control, which appeared to be the case when Zeke’s Titans were still rampaging in Chapter 124.
There could be some kind of twist about the limits to his powers later.
However, there is another theory that I think is much more interesting.
This is the theory that it is actually Zeke building these Titans because, even though he is probably trapped within Eren’s massive Titan form, his consciousness is still in the Paths dimension.
Grisha did ask his son to stop Eren and with his plans to sterilize the Eldian race now caput, it would make sense for Zeke to find new purpose in stopping his brother from destroying the world.
I don’t know why Ymir or Eren wouldn’t try to stop him from building these Titans but maybe they have some kind of ulterior motive.
Or maybe Hajime Isayama doesn’t have an explanation for how they can transform and is just hoping we accept it, but I hope not.
I hope that it is Zeke who is helping the alliance by giving their Shifters the means to transform because it would be an interesting way to bring him back into the story.
However, he is not the only important character missing from the story right now.

Will Historia appear?

Unlikely.
I want Historia to come back as much as the next guy but, with each chapter, I have less and less faith that Isayama will bring her back before the end.
Honestly, I think the only time that Historia could show up before the reveal of Eren’s P.O.V is after the fight with the Yeagerists, so probably Chapter 130.
If she does not appear after the battle is over though, make no mistake, she will almost certainly not show up until the very end of the story, when Eren’s plan is finally shown and her role in that plan is revealed.
This would be disappointing, since she is easily in the top ten best characters of the entire story but she is being so underutilized.
I just hope that when Isayama brings her back he gives her an important role, like he is currently doing with Annie, and does not just push her to the side and kill her off, like he did with freckled Ymir.
I really don’t want Historia to just die from childbirth when she returns to the story after such a long absence.

Death Predictions.

Speaking of character deaths though, “Traitor” shook up a couple of the death predictions I made in my Chapter 128 predictions post.
In that, I speculated that either Jean and Hange would die in the next few chapters because both had massive death flags.
However, Chapter 128 changed my opinion on this because, although Hange still got a lot to do and say, it does not feel like it is building to her death just yet.
As for Jean, he only got two lines of dialogue in that chapter, and one of those was in his head.
With him being given so little to do there, I now highly doubt it is building toward his death either.
Again, like Hange, he could still die but I doubt it will be in this fight.
No, the character who I found most likely to die after Chapter 128 was none other than Connie.
He was probably the most prominent character in “Traitor”, with that title most likely referring to him having to kill his former comrades, Samuel and Daz, at the end of the chapter.
This blood on Connie’s hands will obviously leave a heavy weight on his shoulders and this makes it seem like his story is building up to something.
Ever since Chapter 126, I have wondered why Isayama included the subplot of Connie trying to feed Falco to his mother and then him deciding not to do so because he wants to make his mother proud.
This subplot felt like a giant waste of time when it was over but maybe it was Isayama building up to Connie’s death.
Maybe Floch will end up killing him in the next few chapters, only for him to be killed by either Jean or Keith.
Or, like with Jean and Hange, maybe I’m reading too much into this and Connie will be safe.
We’ll just have to wait for the next few chapters to find out.

Will there be a reveal after the Yeagerists are defeated?

In Chapter 128, Onyankopon seemed to suggest that it would take a while for the mechanics to get the plane ready so they can reach Eren.
And something tells me that this is not just Isayama being accurate to a plane’s design.
I think it is much more likely that he is planning to reveal something in the space between the Yeagerists’ defeat and the mechanics getting the plane ready.
But what could this reveal be?
Well, I did say that after the Yeagerists defeat would be the last opportunity for Historia to appear before Eren’s P.O.V is revealed.
Maybe she will show up and reveal the truth behind her pregnancy.
That said, I can’t really think of a reason why Historia would go to the harbor just to tell the alliance this.
Not to mention that she probably doesn’t know that the alliance and Yeagerists were even fighting, unless Eren told her this because he saw it in future memories that is.
Rather, I think that whatever this reveal is, if there is one, it will come from Kyomi.
Before Chapter 128, I honestly did not care for Kyomi.
I found her to be a boring character who just wanted money and to protect Mikasa for some reason.
“Traitor” changed my opinion of her because she took Floch by surprise when he tried to kill the mechanics and absolutely demolished him.
Along with her skills, I think there has to be something more to her character, which she will most likely reveal in Chapter 130.
Maybe it will be something about the Ackermans.
It could be something about the Tybers, since she had that odd interaction with Willy before his death.
Or it could even be a reveal about Eren Kruger since there is a fan theory out there that she knew him.
Whatever this reveal is, if it comes from Kyomi, I hope it continues to make her character more interesting.
Either way, I cannot wait to read Attack on Titan again.
Fingers crossed that we get a double chapter release in June but, even if we don’t, I’ll just be happy to have my favourite story back.

 

Tokyo Ghoul √A Review: The Decline Begins.

3 stars
The first season of Studio Pierrot’s Tokyo Ghoul adaptation was a solid season, but one that had a few issues.
Despite this, the final episode of the season was incredible and a great ending for the next season, √A, once again directed by Shuhei Morita, to pick up from.
Yet, coming into √A, I had a lot of concerns because this is the point that many fans say that the Tokyo Ghoul anime began to decline in quality.
And right from the first episode, “New Surge”, I knew this was going to be the case.
To put it bluntly, “New Surge” is easily the worst Tokyo Ghoul episode of the first two seasons because of how badly it both adapts the manga and tries to add new scenes.
For example, the emotional goodbye Kaneki (Natsuki Hanae) has with Touka (Sora Amamiya) in the manga is replaced in this first episode with Kaneki just being a silent edge lord, which he unfortunately remains for most of the season.

edge lord kaneki
Kaneki barely says anything to Touka when he leaves Anteiku, compared to the manga where he talks a lot, showing Pierrot couldn’t be bothered to write a different conversation.

Then there is Kaneki joining Aogiri Tree this episode, which is also atrociously done.
The anime decided to change the story in √A from Kaneki forming a resistance group to stop Aogiri to him joining them.
Sui Ishida, the creator of the series, envisioned that Kaneki would do this to secretly find and kill the One Eyed King but Studio Pierrot threw this, and his other ideas, out in favor of Kaneki joining Aogiri Tree to get stronger, which makes no sense at all.
This confusing plot line is on full display in the first episode with the scene that I think is supposed to show Eto (Maaya Sakamoto) convincing Kaneki to join Aogiri, which instead just has her giggling at him and then disappearing, without either of them saying anything.
Why would Aogiri Tree decide to let Kaneki join them anyway, when he is responsible for the death of one of their executives?
Not only this, but many important scenes like Kaneki breaking half the bones in Ayato’s (Yuki Kaiji) body are completely removed in this episode.
Unfortunately, the dip in quality of √A continues, with Pierrot trying to work in characters from the manga that just do not translate well to this new story.
The biggest example of this is Kurona (Aoi Yuuki) and Nashiro (Haruka Tomatsu).
In the manga, these two show up because both Kaneki and the CCG are actively chasing them down, forcing them to fight.
In the anime, however, they deliberately pursue Kaneki for absolutely no reason, making it feel like they were written in just because they were in the manga and not because they had a story based reason for being there.

twins ghouls
Kurona and Nashiro should not have been in √A. Without Kaneki pursuing them it made no sense for them to be in the season.

These problems with the anime original content continue throughout √A, with even censorship being a problem.
Tokyo Ghoul is a dark manga so it should have been a dark manga.
Characters that lost their limbs just break bones here.
Studio Pierrot should have listened to Ishida’s ideas for the season or just followed his original story.
Sadly, the anime only events are not the only issues with √A because the animation and soundtrack are issues too.
While the animation isn’t awful, various fights in the first half of √A feel slow and more static than the first season.
As for the soundtracks, songs are repeated constantly to the point that I actually tired of hearing even the great ones.
I lost count of how many times “Glassy Skies” played.
Not only this, but the opening, “Munou”, is flat out terrible, with barely any effort put into it.
However, despite the many problems I have mentioned, I still do not consider √A to be a bad season.
It almost is but there are a few redeeming qualities the season has that cause it to miss the title of bad by the skin of its teeth.
For starters, even though I didn’t like many of the changes that were made to the original story, there are actually some good ones.
For example, there is an interaction between Kaneki and Naki (Hiro Shimono) in the first few episodes that I really enjoyed, and I liked some of the little quirks Eto was given, along with her interaction with Juuzou (Rie Kugiyama) and Shinohara (Yutaka Nakano), which explained some of her later actions.

eto bang
Despite all interactions between Kaneki and Eto being a complete waste of time, instead of interesting changes as they should have been, I still liked the little changes and quirks her character was given in the anime.

Along with this, when the anime actually adapted parts of the original story correctly, it did them quite well.
The raid on Anteiku was excellent, for the most part, with the fights being very enjoyable, especially Yoshimura’s (Takayuki Sugo).
Speaking of which, I really enjoyed the change of having Yoshimura hallucinate Ukina during this scene.
The animation of these fights was also a lot better than they were earlier in the season.
Not fantastic, but good.
The voice acting also remains solid and, even though I had problems with how repeated the soundtrack was, I liked the final, slower version of Unravel that was played at the end.
I may have not liked the four minute walk that accompanied it but it’s still a fantastic version of a fantastic song.
So, despite its plenty of faults, Tokyo Ghoul √A is saved by its redeeming qualities, barely making it a good season.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for Tokyo Ghoul: Re, which I am currently struggling to get through.
You can expect a review for that train wreck soon.