Spy x Family, Episode Six, The Friendship Scheme Review: The Meme Face is Here.

Episode Six of Spy x Family, “The Friendship Scheme”, is an episode I was quite excited to see because it would be adapting the moment that convinced me to read the series in the first place.
This being Anya’s “heh” face, when she deals with Damian Desmond’s bullying.
I decided to read the manga after seeing this face as the centerpiece of various memes and, when I actually reached the point where Anya makes this face, I concluded that it was and still is one of the funniest moments of the story.
This moment does not come until the second half of the Yōsuke Yamamoto directed episode, however, with the first half focusing on Twilight’s meeting with his handler and Yor taking Anya to get her school uniform for Eden College.
The latter story begins with the entire Forger family going to get Anya’s uniform fitted, during which the woman doing Anya’s measurements talks of bullying and kidnappings taking place at Eden Collage, unintentionally scaring Anya.
After a couple of other humorous moments displaying Anya’s fear of being kidnapped, Twilight is called to meet with his handler, Sylvia Sherwood, leaving Yor to take Anya to get the uniform.
Sherwood is none too happy about the expenses of the fantastic filler mission of the previous episode and put off, yet impressed, by the balls of Twilight handing her more expenses, this time for Anya’s uniform.
Sherwood then informs Twilight of phase 2 of Operation Strix, the aim of which is to get Twilight close to Donavon Desmond.
The plan is for Twilight to teach Anya how to recieve eight Stella Stars to become an imperial scholar, allowing her and Twilight to infiltrate Desmond’s inner circle.
On the other hand, if Anya does poorly and recieves eight Tonitrus Bolts, she will be expelled from Eden College, ruining the mission.
Faced with this potential problem and the prospect of turning Anya into her an imperal scholar, Twilight presents a cool persona, yet, on the inside, is thinking, “Hello, anxiety, my old friend.”
Well, if that isn’t the most relatable thing said in this story so far then I don’t know what is.
Meanwhile, Anya recieves her uniform and tries it on, looking as adorable as always, to which Yor gushes over repeatedly, annoying the shop owner.
The two then go on another family “ooting”, where Anya continues to do adorable things, like show off her uniform to everyone.
This wholesome moment does not last long, however, because the shop owner is proven right when some criminals recognize Anya’s uniform being for Eden College and decide to kidnap her for ransom.
Unfortunately for them, they just happened to attempt to kidnap the kid with an assassin for a mother, as Yor quickly scares them off in a moment that had me cheering for her just like in the manga.
This then leads to Yor training Anya for fights, adding to Twilight’s stress, and leading to the hilarious events of the episode’s second half, which sees the Forgers at an Eden College assembly, where Anya is sorted into her class.
Twilight has arranged for Anya to be put in the son of Donavon Desmond Damian’s class, in the hopes that the two will become friends so Anya, and by extentsion Twilight, will be invited to Desmond’s house where Twilight can investigate him.
Yet, right from the beginning, things do not go so smoothly, as Anya is put off by Damian’s arrogant attitude.
She is also put off by fellow student Becky Blackbell for much the same reason, worrying Twilight who notices that Becky and many of Anya’s other classmates are the children of important people, causing him to wish for Anya to make friends with them so he can gather intel.
Placed under Henderson as their teacher, the class then go on a tour of the College.
While visiting the dining room, Anya is bullied by Damian and his goons, causing her to remember Yor telling her to put on a brave face in front of bullies.
So, she does just that, resulting in the meme “heh” face which got me into this story in the first place, impressing Becky and insulting Damian.
This causes Damian to insult Anya throughout the tour, threatening to bully her every day and insulting Twilight, causing a literal fire to appear in Anya’s eye.
Cue her looking to make sure Henderson isn’t looking, before throwing an impressive punch, decking Damian to the floor and proving that Yor probably taught her a little too well.
Anya plays innocent when Henderson confronts her, pulling yet another comedic gold face, yet when her excuse doesn’t work, she acts as though she was protecting Becky, earning her friendship and lessening the Tonitrust Bolts she recieves from Henderson to one.
This causes shame for Anya, embarrsassment for Yor, and horror for Twilight at his mission already being so far behind, with Anya’s relationship with Damian already being at negative one hundred.
The episode then ends on another hilarious moment, as we see the embarrassed and horrified faces of the Forger family in their class photo.
All in all, “The Friendship Scheme” is another great episode of Spy x Family, adapting one of the funniest moments from the manga well.

Vampire in the Garden Review: Unfortunately Short.

I still remember searching for upcoming anime a few months ago and being interested by the description for Vampire in the Garden.
Developed by Wit Studio, released on Netflix and directed by Ryōtarō Makihara, the story is set in a winter wasteland where vampires and humans have been at war for an unknown period of time.
Some of the remaining remnants of humanity have fled to a city, protected by a tower that generates UV Light to ward off the vampires.
Living inside this city is a young girl named Momo (Megumi Han), the daughter of one of the city’s generals. 
She is tired of the fighting and wants to learn music, something which was outlawed because of its connection to the vampires.

Then, during an attack on the city, Momo has a chance encounter with the Vampire Queen Fine (Yu Kobayashi), someone who is also tired of the fighting and treasures music.
Together, the two decide to try and find a supposed paradise where humans and vampires live in harmony and make music together.

Momo and Fine’s chance encounter begins their journey.

This premise intrigued me when I first read it and I decided to give the anime a shot, thinking that it would probably have a similar episode count to Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song, another anime that Wit Studio produced which I loved.
So, I was quite surprised when I saw that there were only five episodes released by Netflix.
At first, I thought it must be some kind of error and that Netflix would release the other episodes once they realized the mistake.
But, no, Vampire in the Garden really is only five episodes long and this is its biggest fault.
Now, I still really enjoyed my time with this anime but I feel like it had the potential for so much more, if only it had been given more episodes. 

I wish Wit Studio had given Vampire in the Garden the ten to thirteen episode treatment.

There are just too many characters and ideas here for the vision of this anime to be fully realized in such a short amount of time.
That said, I do think that Vampire in the Garden did the best it could have done with only five episodes, which is a testament to the writing quality.
For one thing, I liked all of the characters in this anime.
Momo and Fine’s growing bond is interesting throughout, I quite enjoyed the resolution to Momo’s relationship with her mother (Rika Fukami), and the vague way that the anime filled in the backstory of Kubo (Hiroki Toshi), giving us just enough information to put the pieces together, felt like the writers were respecting the audience.
Another feature of the anime I have to give props to is the world building.
Momo and Fine visit various different kinds of communities, all of which have different ways that humans and vampires interact with each other, which are interesting to compare.

The exploration of the different dynamics between humans and vampires in various dystopian cities was excellent world building.

The animation and music are also quite good, something to be expected of an anime made by Wit Studio.
I will also admit that, despite me being critical of there only being five episodes, this short run time does mean you can finish Vampire in the Garden rather quickly, as if it were a movie rather than a show, so that is an advantage it has.
As for other criticisms, there are a few moments in the anime that broke my suspension of disbelief temporarily by being too convenient or having a character survive something that should have been impossible to.

It’s strange moments like this one that temporarily broke my immersion.

Also, I did find the story to be a bit predictable at times, especially with one character’s ending, although it being predictable did not make it bad. 
These are just minor criticisms.
The only major one I have is, again, the episode count.
The anime had the potential to be fantastic but the short runtime limits it.
I’m actually hoping we get a manga adaptation at some point because that could extend the story, thus expanding upon the characters, world and themes, allowing Vampire in the Garden to reach its potential.
As it stands, though, I would still recommend the show.
It’s a short watch and delivers some pretty interesting character work and world building.    

Fire Punch Review: WTF Did I Just Read?

Around halfway through reading Fire Punch for the first time, I decided that Tatsuki Fujimoto is my favourite mangaka.
This is not to say that I think Fire Punch is his best work.
If anything, reading it showed me just how much he has improved since writing this manga, going on to write and illustrate my second favourite manga, Chainsaw Man, and the fantastic one shots Look Back and Goodbye Eri.
One thing that has stayed the same across all of Fujimoto’s works, though, is his undobutable creativity, present in Fire Punch from the beginning, all the way to the very end.
Another constant throughout my first read through of Fire Punch was me repeatedly saying, “what the f**k am I reading?”

It felt like every chapter had its own wtf moment.

I don’t think I am exagerrating when I say that Fire Punch is the craziest work of fiction that I have ever read.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue reading after the first ten chapters because of how completely grim everything was, but I pushed forward and found a flawed yet rewarding story that is, of course, f****d up on every conceivable level.
Fire Punch is set in a world where super powered people, known as the Blessed, started a new Ice Age that is slowly leading to humanity’s extinction.
Agni is a young blessed with the power of regeneration, who lives with his little Sister Luna in a small village, where he cuts off his arm daily to feed everyone, since there is no food.
Oh, and Agni’s sister wants to have his babies.
So, yeah… that’s a thing.
However, Agni’s life is disrupted when a blessed named Doma arrives in his village, looking for soldiers, only to be disgusted by the cannibalism going on there, leading to him using his flame powers to burn the village to ash.
Everyone in the village dies, except Agni, who is kept alive by his regineration power, although he is left in a constant state of burning agony.
In her last, horrifying moments, Luna urges Agni to live, and so Agni does, persevering to eventually get his revenge on Doma, beginning the story of Fire Punch. 

The manga starts off as a revenge story but later becomes much more.

The story only gets crazier from here, with plenty of weird characters, many of whom have disturbing ideologies, and, of course, plenty of movie references.
It would not be a Fujimoto story without at least one, after all.
Fujimoto embodies these movie references in my favourite character in Fire Punch, Togata, the reginerative blessed who is a movie fan, nut job.
Togata is initially characterized as someone who will do anything to make a movie starring Agni, yet, as the story goes on, Fujimoto pulls back the layers on his character to reveal the vulnerabilities, creating an extremely sympathetic side to him. 
It also helps that he’s incredibly funny.
Seriously, one Togata segment during a truck chase had me laughing so hard my sides hurt for a couple of minutes afterwards.

I was amazed at how Togata went from a comedic relief character to having one of the most emotional arcs in the story.

Fujimoto absolutely nails dark humor.
He also nails the themes of the story, with Agni’s and Togata’s arcs being especially hard hitting. 
However, I did say near the beginning of this review that Fire Punch had flaws and there are quite a few.
Probably the two biggest of these are the characters and the pacing.
As I said, there are a lot of wacky characters in Fire Punch, but it does not seem like Fujimoto knew what to do with many of them.
Some just show up, look cool for a while with very little characterisation and then are killed off shortly after, sometimes off screen. 
The pacing can be just as problematic at times, with some important events happening way too fast or even off screen.
Then there’s the constant incest theme with Agni’s character, which is obviously uncomfortable.

To be fair to Fujimoto, though, he does often show creepy Agni’s feelings for his sister are.

Some of these flaws even have a positive side to them, at least if you have read Fujimoto’s more recent works first.
The flaws of Fire Punch make for an interesting comparison, as any reader can see how much he grew as a writer from his first long-running manga to Chainsaw Man.

As well as this, despite the issues, Fire Punch builds up to a great and expectedly crazy ending that closes off the story’s theme about living on no matter what well.
Overall, Fire Punch is a flawed yet meaningful story that is well worth it by the end.
Just be prepared to constantly say or think “what the f**k?” when you read it.  

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Review: Sam Raimi’s Horror Style Works Well in the MCU.

Despite it not being among my favourite MCU films, I still have fond memories of watching the first Dr Strange, so I was excited to see the sequel.
Directed by Sam Raimi, Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness sees the titular hero sorcerer, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, become the protector of a teenage girl named America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who has the ability to traverse the Multiverse.
Pursued by various monsters from other dimensions, Strange and the Sorceror Supreme, Wong (Benedict Wong), seek the help of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), her story continuing from WandaVision. 
I have heard some say that Wanda’s story in this film does not match her’s from the show but, having never seen WandaVision, I cannot attest to whether or not this is the case.
What I can attest to is that those who have not seen WandaVision will still be able to understand what is going on with her story, since I could understand it despite not having seen the show. 

I quite enjoyed Wanda’s arc in this movie, though I have heard some who have seen WandaVision may have mixed feelings.

Back to the film as a whole, I quite enjoyed Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
It certainly has its issues but I found a lot of it to be quite good, especially the character writing for Strange.
His character arc in this movie is great and pairs off well with the wacky direction of Raimi, whose depiction of the Multiverse results in numerous interesting locations and new characters, some of which you will recognize from other franchises.
Another part of Raimi’s direction that goes well with this story, for the most part, is his skill in horror.

The horror moments of Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness are quite effective, at times.

Raimi is the director of the Evil Dead, after all, and you can definitley see homages to that film in this movie.
These homages often work out well, with one gruesome and creative twist in the third act being very enjoyable to watch play out.

However, there were certain times this horror style did not work for me, like one jump scare that was so overplayed to the point that it broke my immersion.
Another criticism I have is that I felt like the pacing was a little off at times, with a few scenes that needed just a little more room to breathe.

I do feel that some scenes, although impactful, went a little fast

As for the post-credits scenes, the first one we get really proved to me that I’m going to have to start looking up every teased new character in MCU films going forward because I often have no idea who these new characters are.
That’s not a criticism, though, just an observation.
Overall, Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is another fun film in the MCU.
It has great character arcs for Dr Strange and Wanda (unless you think her arc does not match Wandavision), and Sam Raimi’s horror style works well with the Multiverse.
It will be interesting to see how the MCU follows up on these alternate universes going forward.   

Spy x Family, Episode Five, Will They Pass or Will They Fail? Review: The Perfect Filler.

Filler episodes: The kind of episode that many people will not be excited to watch.
These are ones that could usually be removed from the story entirely, changing nothing in doing so, often making them less than stellar experiences.
However, occasionally, there will be one filler episode that gets it right and delivers a satisfying and engaging experience, despite not being relevant to the plot.
Well, I think that the fifth episode of Spy x Family, “Will They Pass or Will They Fail?” is the perfect filler episode.
What makes it truly great, though, is not just how satisying it is but how it also excellently makes changes to the manga.
The castle party was relatively brief and small scale in the manga, yet the anime crafts a wholesome adventure for the Forger family to have after they learn Anya has been accepted into Eden College.
Directed by Kenji Takahasi, the episode opens with the build up to Anya’s acceptance, as we see the Forgers heading to see the results, only for Yor’s braclet to break, after which they see a black cat, and then Anya notices she has stepped in poop.
These bad signs seem to foreshadow the family’s downfall, as the cliffhanger before the OP shows the Forgers realizing they have not passed the admission, only for Henderson to explain the circumstances to them afterwards.
It turns out that Anya is just on the waiting list, so she is on the verge of being accepted.
Twilight is confused that they passed after he smashed a table in front of Swan, however Henderson humorously reveals he was scored highly for that because he smashed a mosquito as well, since mosquitos are the most dangerous creature on the planet to humans.
So now, all Anya needs is one of the students to withdraw and she will be accepted into the College.
Cue Yor briefly wondering if she should murder one of the student’s parents to get Anya into the College, before immediately dismissing this as she couldn’t possibly kill an innocent person.
This gag does result in another characteristically comedic expression from Anya, though.
After this, the Forgers don’t have to wait long before they learn Anya was accepted, resulting in a crazy celebration, spearheaded by good old Franky.
All of this craziness starts with him and Yor getting so drunk to the point that Yor doesn’t hear Franky admit to stealing the answers to the exam for Loid to teach Anya, eventually building to Franky telling Anya that Twilight said he would give her anything for getting accepted.
What Anya wants, it turns out, is to recreate her favourite spy show, Bondman, by having Twilight rescue her from a castle.
Twilight is reluctant until Franky guilt trips him into doing it, resulting in the excellent filler portion of the show, with the familt renting the castle and flying in, before Twilight calls many of his spy associates to help with this “mission,” many of whom are excited to learn from him.
Anya and Franky then enact their plan to stage a Bondman experience for Anya, with Anya being the princess kidnapped by the evil Franky, who Twilight needs to save as Loidman, while Yor is “whatever” according to Anya.
The game begins with Loidman tracking Anya and Franky down to a quiz section where he has to answer three questions about Anya.
If he loses, he has to put on the Loidman mask.
Loid fails in the end, quite comedically as he is outraged that he lost because he didn’t realize Anya wanted a drink of water.
So now Twilight has to wear the Loidman costume, much to his embarrassment.
But at least it results in Anya adorably declaring how excited she is to see her father portray her favourite television spy.
With moments like this, it’s pretty apparent we will be losing count of how many adorable and memeable moments of Anya there are in this anime.
Next comes a well animated action sequence of Loidman fighting through his fellow spies to reach Anya and Franky, with a pretty great OST playing alongside this animation.
However, the game is not over when Loidman reaches the Princess Anya because the most powerful witch in the world, Yorticia (drunk Yor), is here to kick Loidman’s butt!
Seeing their little fight was great, as it made me excited for what we might get if Twilight and Yor were ever to come to blows in the future of the story.
The fight also ends with a laugh, as Yor’s heel breaks, causing her to pass out drunk, leaving Twilight to deal with Franky.
How will he ever overcome such an evil foe?
Well, with a simple slap obviously, cause Franky isn’t a fighter.
In the end, Loidman rescues the Princess Anya, resulting in Anya promising him that she will work hard at school, bringing an end to this filler part of the story.
And what amazing filler it was.
Seriously, if you have not read the manga, then I recommend reading Chapter Six to see just how much they added in this episode.
Pretty much everything from the moment the game started up until Twilight reached Anya, Yor and Franky was anime original.
Even the final scene is different from the manga, with the humor of Twilight’s boss realizing how much money was spent on this “mission” being delivered a lot better, in my opinion.
Overall, I would say that “Will They Pass or Will They Fail?” is probably my favourite episode of Spy x Family so far because of how much fun it was with all of the new content.
Wit Studio and Cloverworks are clearly putting everything they have into this adaptation and it makes me even more excited for future episodes, especially the next one where we will get the ultimate Anya meme face.
So, get ready for the “heh” next episode.

Choujin X, Chapter 21, A Cloaker Review: Antagonist Payoff.

Ever since the first Chapter of Choujin X, readers have been wondering what role Azuma would have in the story, with many, including myself, theorizing that he would go on to become an antagonist.
Well, Chapter 21, “A Cloaker”, seems to have confirmed this theory.
I have not reviewed many of recent Choujin X chapters but I have really enjoyed them, as it felt like something big was coming, what with Tokio’s kidnapping by Ume and Ricardo, followed by Azuma’s brutal death at Ume’s hands.
However, I and many others did not believe Azuma was dead because he had been built up quite a bit beforehand, and had seemingly awakened some of his Choujin abilities, what with the escaped Hyena being able to talk with him.
Sure enough, “A Cloaker” begins with Azuma’s resurrection, as his Choujin power finally acitvates, and in the most horrifying way, at that.
This resurrection appears from a dying Azuma’s POV, as we see a statue looking down on him, presenting its hands, almost as if it is gifting him his Choujin power.
Along with this religiously symbolic image, we also see a fly coming down to land on Azuma’s eyelid and walk across it, reminding Azuma of a time when he saw jets flying in the sky as a child.
While this is happening, we get narration from an unknown person explaining that Choujin are given the form that most becomes them, often based off their emotions and feelings, like that of hope, fury, love, etc.
This creates a complex, which Azuma was apparently lacking up until this point because he could not become a Choujin without it.
Now, however, as the dying Azuma looks up at the moon, he gains this complex, allowing him to transform into the titular Moon Beast we saw at the end of the previous chapter.
So, great, Azuma is here to help save Tokio, right?
Well, not exactly.
He certainly starts off doing so by brutally dispatching Ricardo and Ume, decapitating Ricardo, and kicking Ume in the back so hard that his foot ejects out of her chest.
The reason Azuma so easily defeats these two is explained by the narrator to be because his fighting strength was already strong before he become a Choujin, so it has been amplified.
Ely realizes the Moon Beast is Azuma, yet, before she can do anything, Azuma is upon her, punching through her stomach, even though she is trying to help Tokio.
At this point, Tokio and Azuma seem to notice one another, and Azuma is shown to be baring his teeth towards Tokio in a look of surprising hatred.
Azuma easily beats Tokio aside when he tries to help Ely, and breaks Momoma’s neck and slices Simon’s throat when they try to stop him as well.
With Tokio being the last man standing, Azuma then turns to him and speaks his first words as a Choujin: “Tokio… Fight… Me.”
The chapter then ends on Tokio’s horrified, “why?”, which, in my opinion, is Tokio asking both why Azuma would hurt all of his friends and why Azuma wants to fight him.
As for the answer to the latter, I think it is because Azuma has an inferiority complex directed towards Tokio.
For so long, Tokio had relied on Azuma for almost everything, yet he was the one to become a Choujin first and do heroic acts.
With Azuma’s penchant for fighting for justice, this may have caused him to feel inferior to Tokio, leading to him entering a chaos state when he first transformed, much like Shiozaki, resulting in him attacking everyone and wanting to fight Tokio to prove himself.
My question, though, is why Azuma was able to speak with the Hyena a couple of chapters ago?
Beast Choujins are able to talk to the animals that their transformations are based off.
So, Tokio can talk to birds as a Vulture Choujin and Nari can talk to snakes as a Snake Choujin.
Given that Azuma could talk to the Hyena, I thought that meant he would turn into a Hyena Choujin but he has instead transformed into a Moon Beast.
This makes sense because Azuma was looking up at the moon when he resurrected and transformed but I still wonder how he was able to talk with the Hyena?
Hopefully, this will be explained in a future chapter.
Another obvious question I am sure all of us readers have after finishing this chapter is how many of the characters have died at Azuma’s hands?
I am sure all of our main characters who were injured will survive, these being Ely, Simon, and Momoma.
Ume and Ricardo, however, are another matter.
Ume looked quite dead when Azuma kicked her off the roof, yet Azuma also looked dead and he was just resurrected.
Also, Ricardo was decapitated but in one panel it looks like he is groaning, so he may make it out.
Honestly, I hope the both of them do survive, along with our main characters because I quite like them as antagonists.
As for how the fight between Tokio and Azuma will go, I honestly don’t see Tokio winning.
Azuma just straight up massacred dozens of other Choujins who are stronger than Tokio at this point.
The fight might be interrupted by the Noh Mask Choujin, though, who may see Azuma as a better candidate than Tokio for what the monster in the tower has planned.
Either way, the future chapters of Choujin X will be quite interesting, since Azuma has apparently emerged as an antagonist, like many of us predicted.
Overall, “A Cloaker” is one of the best chapters of the manga so far, and I am extremely interested to see where Sui Ishida takes his story next.

Spy x Family, Episode Four, The Prestigious School’s Interview Review: An Elegant Episode.

After the previous episode of Spy x Family dabbled in some anime original moments, the series is back to solely adapting the manga in its fourth episode, “The Prestigious School’s Interview.”
Directed by Kento Matsui, this episode begins with a characteristically humorous moment of the Forger family preparing for the interview at Eden College, with Twilight acting like a military general prepping his soldiers.
Although funny, this also turns out to be necessary because the College instructors are monitering all of the child applicants and their parents as they enter the grounds, failing any potential student for so little as lacking refinement.
The architect of this passing requirement seems to be one of the House Masters named Henry Henderson, a man obsessed with elegance.
Thankfully for Twilight, he apprears to have taught Yor and Anya well in elegance, as they all pay respect to the college’s founder, although Yor has no idea who the man is and Anya just thinks of him as a bald man.
Although impressed by this display, Henderson is suspicious of Anya’s low test score and her appalling handwriting, wondering if the Forgers could be an impromptu family, deciding to test them futher.
This first test comes in the form of a student faking being stuck in a gutter, to which Twilight responds by pulling him out, getting his clothing dirty.
Henderson is unimpressed, until Twilight reveals he brought spare clothing in preperation for such an event.
However, further testing is interrupted by an actual accident, when the farm animals escape, causing Yor to leap forward and pacify the leader of the stampeding herd, stunning Twilight, Anya, and especially Henderson, who seems to be having an elegance hemorrhage.
He runs out to thank the Forgers for their efforts, seeming to have grown a little as well, since he now gives them the time to go and change their clothes, only to be a little frightened when Twilight reveals they brought a third pair of clothing with them in preperation.
Then comes the actual interview with the House Masters, Henderson, the kind Malcolm Hall, and the vile Murdoch Swan, a man who berates the child applicants and their parents because of his own family troubles.
Despite Swan’s efforts to undermine the family, the Forgers do well, quite hilariously at times, like the moment when Twilight thinks Anya has screwed up only for Henderson to be blown away by what he views as her dedication.
The interview even turns wholesome when Anya scores her new parents a perfect 100 points, declaring she wants to be with them forever.
Of course, Swan has to ruin this moment by trying to force Anya to compare Yor to her previous mother, causing Anya to cry and Twilight to almost blow the interview by leaping at Swan in a rage, covering this up by smashing a mosquito… along with the table.
Twilight then leaves with his family, stating the perfect insult to Swan, “If making light of a child’s feelings is part of you establishment’s educational policies, then I’m afraid we have chosen the wrong school.”
This also strikes a cord with Henderson, who elegantly decks Swan for his actions.
It is nice to see how Henderson grew throughout his introduction, initially seeming to be as cruel as Swan, only for the Forgers to make him realize what being an educator is about.
Back at the Forger household, things are looking grim, as Twilight believes they have little hope of passing the interview and Anya is distraught at the thought of losing her new family.
However, the family quickly put these bad thoughts aside to focus on the positives, like Henderson and Hall looking out for them, with Twilight also growing as a person, since trusting in someone else is not something he would do in his regular line of work as a spy.
Yet, their family photo does fall at the end, so that’s a bad sign.
Overall, “The Prestigous School’s Interview” is another great episode of Spy x Family, delivering many wholesome moments between the family, plenty of funny gags, and good development for its characters, old and new.
It is truly an elegant episode.

Spy x Family, Episode Three, Prepare for the Interview Review: A Family Ooting.

I was quite interested to see how the third episode of Spy x Family would turn out, since the preview showed there would be some anime original scenes.
Directed by Takashi Kataragi, Episode Three, “Prepare for the Interview” begins with such a scene, as Yor is welcomed to her new home by Twilight and Anya.
This is then followed up by another wholesome anime original section, as Anya shows Yor around the place, including adorable moments, like when Anya pretends to be her toy greeting Yor, and great gags, like when Yor stops Anya from touching her stash of poison.
The funniest anime original gag of the scene, though, is the two moments when Anya claims to have helped, looking for approval, only for Twilight to reveal how Anya failed to help both times, causing Anya to give some of her classic mortified faces.
Afterwards, we get back to the adaptation of the manga, with Twilight running a practice interview for Yor and Anya, which goes about as poorly as expected, especially for Yor, who equates passing the interview with the passing of her victims, much to Anya’s comedic horror.
Hoping to give the two an experience of what it is like to be a cultured family, Twilight then takes them out on what Anya calls “an ooting.”
The adorable telepath then attempts to get closer to her new mama, offering to hold Yor’s hand, only for her to read Yor’s mind and hear how she accidentally broke her brother’s ribs once because she hugged him too hard.
Cue yet another humorous horrified expression from Anya as she runs to hide, before Twilight takes them all to various cultured places.
There’s the opera, where Anya falls asleep and Yor looks rather distressed, and an art museum, where Anya yells out that she can see a woman’s boobies in a painting and Yor is excited by a painting of an execution, much to Twilight’s dismay.
The Forgers’ next two stops are the tailor and a photography shop where they get an awkward family photo, before eventually stopping at a restaurant, where Anya eats with her hands and Yor is fascinated by a knife, once again scaring Twilight into thinking he may have picked the wrong family.
Wanting to cheer Twilight up, Yor takes him and Anya to a spot overlooking the city with a great view.
This has a much more melancholic effect on Twilight, however, as he looks at a group of children playing with a sad expression on his face, a moment that may not mean much to anime only watchers but, for the readers of the most recent manga chapter, takes on a much more unfortunate meaning.
Twilight does not have time to dwell on this, however, because down below a thief steals an elderly woman’s purse and the newfound family work togethor to catch him, because what family ooting is complete without bringing a criminal to justice, am I right?
While Yor initially gives chase and then helps the elderly woman, Anya manages to find the thief by reading his mind and pointing him out to Twilight without the spy realizing it.
Twilight then takes down the thief and retrieves the elderly woman’s purse, who thanks him and Yor by agressively shaking their hands, a display which makes Twilight happy, as it is probably the first moment he has ever been thanked for his efforts, since spying is naturally a mostly thankless task.
Twilight then goes on to thank Yor for changing the pace of the day, causing the two to blush and Anya to speculate that the two are flirting, earning a shocked display from both would-be parents, who deny this wholeheartedly.
Upon arriving home, Twilight again tests Anya, which goes well at first, until Anya recalls Twilight beating up the thief he caught.
However, Twilight takes some comfort in the fact that the elderly woman they helped clearly saw him, Yor and Anya as a happy family, which is key to his mission, bringing an end to the episode with the start of the ED.
This ED is “Comedy” by Gen Hoshino, and it is just as good as the OP, presenting a pleasant feel-good vibe.
“Prepare for the Interview” is another enjoyable Spy x Family episode, with some great anime only additions, which do not feel out of place at all.
This episode also does a good job of building into the next one, with the actual interview and the introduction of a certain elegant character.

Goodbye Eri Review: Blurring the Line Between Fact and Fiction.

Tatsuki Fujimoto has had a stellar career as a mangaka.
Chainsaw Man is my second favourite manga behind Attack on Titan and his one shot Look Back is an emotional rollercoaster.
I have also just started reading his first serialized manga, Fire Punch, which so far is already turning out to be one of the most insane manga I have read.
Well, Fujimoto recently released a new one shot Goodbye Eri, which, at first, looked like it was going to be a simple, emotional story, much like Look Back, before the story goes completley off the rails and explodes.
Ordinarily, me saying that would be a way of me dissing this story but no, this time I mean it as a compliment.
It leaves a lot up to the reader and this is what makes it so great.
Goodbye Eri begins at the 12th Birthday of Yuta, who’s parents have bought him a smart phone.
This pleasant Birthday gift quickly turns grim, however, as it is revealed that Yuta’s mother is dying from a terminal illness and she bought Yuta the smart phone to film her life all the way up to her final moments.
One bit of foreshadowing for what will be revealed about Yuta’s mother can be seen with the dad’s reaction to her request: how he looks between his wife and son, as if he wants to say something but then stops himself.
From here, the one shot proceeds pretty expectantly, with Yuta filming his mother’s life, their time togethor, and her degrading health.
Eventually, Yuta’s mother is dying in the hostpital, so his father takes him to film her final moments.
However, at the last second, Yuta gets cold feet and runs away from the hostpital as it suddenly explodes, leaving Yuta’s fellow students who are watching his movie in a state of shock.
Yep, Yuta created a film of his mother’s struggle with her terminal illness, only to add an explosion at the end, as if it was supposed to be an action movie.
His school mates take it about how you would expect, with many condemning and laughing at the movie.
One of Yuta’s teachers even pulls him aside to tell him off for “making a mockery” of his mother’s death with the explosion.
Yuta’s only response?
“That was awesome right?”
The teacher naturally does not take this well.
Yuta then interviews a bunch of other students about his movie, all of which criticize him for it, most potently one girl whose mother also died, who says she can’t forgive Yuta for adding the explosion at the end.
All of this leads to Yuta deciding to commit suicide, heading to the roof of the hostpital where his mother’s died to leap from it.
However, before he can, he is interrupted by a girl named Eri, who recognises him as the director of Dead Explosion Mother, and drags him to an abandoned building where she watches some movies with him.
Afterwards, the two talk, and Eri is the first person who speaks positively of Yuta’s movie, saying that she liked, “the way it blurred the line between fact and fiction,” something that will be very important later.
Eri goes on to state that Yuta’s movie was awesome and convinces him that he should make another movie next year to make everyone who laughed at his previous movie cry.
From here, we see the progression of Eri and Yuta’s friendship, just like we saw the progression of Yuta’s mother’s illness, only instead of the illness building, it’s the two friends watching movies togethor and making plans for Yuta’s next film.
There are multiple great moments of humor spliced in here, like when Eri pulls a peace sign whenever the heroes win and Yuta says “aww yeah,” every time there are nipples on screen.
We also get another key moment, this time between Yuta and his father, where the dad says that Yuta has always “sprinkled a pinch of fantasy on everything,” which explains part of the reason why Yuta added the explosion when his mother died in his original movie.
After this conversation, Yuta meets with Eri again and pitches her his new movie about himself meeting a dying vampire (Eri) after his movie is criticized.
Like his mother, the vampire is also dying, and the main character has to film her death to overcome the death of his mother.
Eri agrees to this film being the one Yuta will make and the conversation concludes with Yuta asking Eri to meet his father.
However, this meeting does not go over well because Yuta’s father is angry that they are making a movie, thinking it will hurt Yuta more, yelling at Eri to get out.
“And cut!” Eri cries out, revealing this argument to have been a part of their movie, since Yuta’s father has prior theater experience.
Then we get an interesting line from Yuta’s father, “To quote a friend of mine… creation is all about getting into the audience’s problems to make them laugh and cry, right? Well it wouldn’t be fair if the creator’s didn’t get hurt too, would it?”
The three of them then agree to reshoot the scene with that line in it.
I think this line may be a moment of Fujimoto speaking through the character of Yuta’s father.
Perhaps the “to quote a friend of mine” part of the line means that this is something Fujimoto thinks or something one of Fujimoto’s friends said to him, which he then decided to put into the oneshot.
Whatever the meaning of this scene is, it does lead into the moment where Yuta is hurt again, as he learns that Eri is also suffering from a terminal illness, after she collapses on a beach while filming.
In the hostpital, Eri asks Yuta to film her final moments, just like his mother wanted to do for him, causing Yuta to flee in a panic.
Yuta is then met by his father, who decides to show him his mother’s final moments on film, where we get one of the big bombshells of the one shot.
While Yuta’s mother lay dying in the hospital bed, Yuta’s father explained to her that Yuta would not come out of the car to see her, so he will be filming her final moments.
This causes Yuta’s mother to claim that her son was always useless, and we then get a bunch of panels showing her being abusive to Yuta and forcing him to film her life, revealing that Yuta made his mother look good in the film he made, having the power as the director to decide how she would be remembered.
Along with this moment being shocking and emotional, it also brings Eri’s comment about Yuta’s film blurring the line between fact and fiction to the forefront.
In that film, we see Yuta running away from the hostpital before it explodes, yet in the video of his mother’s final moments, his father says he is staying in the car rather than running away.
So how much of what we are shown before the explosion is real, if it was not just the explosion and his mother’s personality that were manipulated?
Is what we are seeing here fact or fiction in this story?
That is a question that the reader will ask a lot going forward.
Following Yuta’s talk with his father, he goes to see Eri and reconciles with her, agreeing to film her until her death, which he does so, all the way up until Eri is on her death bed, where she says to create a movie that will make everyone bawl their eyes out.
Cut to the school auditorium again after Eri’s death where, this time, the audience are all bawling their eyes out as they watch Yuta’s movie, to which Yuta pulls Eri’s peace sign at the hero’s victory.
An indeterminable amount of time later, Yuta is approached by the girl who said she could not forgive him for adding the explosion.
She reveals that Eri actually wore glasses, had a dental retainer, never dated Yuta, and actually had a massive temper to the point that this girl and Yuta were her only friends.
The girl then thanks Yuta for depicting Eri in such a positive light.
Taking her words into account, though, this means that every single moment we have seen between Eri and Yuta was either staged or recreated for their movie, again blurring the line between fact and fiction.
Then we get the biggest mind screw of all, as the one shot supposedly jumps forward decades later, as Yuta narrates that he eventually got married and had a daughter, but could never stop recutting Eri’s movie.
We then see the older Yuta, looking just like his father, only without the facial hair, and he says to his phone that his entire family, including his father, were killed in a car accident.
Not wanting to endure any more deaths, Yuta decides to take his own life, apparently going to the abandoned building where he and Eri watched movies to do so.
It is here that the mind screw part comes in, as Yuta walks into the abandoned building, and finds Eri, somehow still alive and watching his movie.
She comments that his movie is on track but something about it is not quite there, as films ending with the love interest’s death are overdone.
“It’s missing a pinch of fantasy, don’t you think?” She says.
Yuta says the film has fantasy because he turned Eri into a vampire, but Eri says that is fact because she really is a vampire, but one whose body dies every 200 years due to her overflowing memories.
When she died in front of Yuta, she revived three days later, without her memory.
Only the movie he made told her things about herself.
Although, given that it has been established that the version of Eri Yuka showed was idealized, she may have the wrong picture.
Eri then comments on the beauty of his movie, and how people can be immortalized through them (much like a vampire, I would say), to which Yuka agrees, before saying his titular goodbye to Eri.
Now, after much struggle, Yuta finally knows why he spent so long recutting his movie.
As Eri said, it was missing a pinch of fantasy, and that fantasy comes when the building explodes as Yuta walks away triumphant, bringing the one shot to an end.
Okay, so what the hell does this all mean?
Is Eri really a vampire?
How much of the film is real?
Well, the beauty of this one shot is that it is subjective.
Eri says at one point that stories which blur the line between fact and fiction, “make for a good puzzle.”
Allow me to state my own interpretation of this puzzle then.
I think that the parts with Yuta’s mother and Eri dying are real, although they are both depicted as idealized versions of themselves.
During the filming of Eri’s portion of the story, the two decided that there was something missing about the movie, as it “needed a pinch of fantasy.”
So, the two decided to get Yuta’s dad to play a future version of Yuta, shaving his facial hair to pull it off.
They then filmed the entire ending vampire scene with the building exploding at the end.
After this, they filmed the rest of the movie up until Eri’s death, whereupon Yuta compiled all of his footage into the film we are now seeing in the oneshot.
Or who knows, the entire thing could be a fictional movie, if you want to think of it that way.
There really are so many different ways to interpret Goodbye Eri.
But, no matter what you may think happened in this story, I think we can all agree, as Yuta says after his film Dead Explosion Mother debuts, “That was awesome, right?”
Tatsuki Fujimoto has done it again, delivering another amazing one shot that I will not forget for some time.

Spy x Family, Episode Two, Secure a Wife Review: Iconic Marriage Proposal.

When it comes to marriage proposals, there are a lot of videos online of people proposing in the most creative of ways.
Well, I think Twilight had them all beat in the second episode of Spy x Family, “Secure a Wife.”
After all, what’s more romantic than fighting off a band of smugglers and then proposing with the grenade pin from the same grenade you used to blow them up?
The build up to this instantly iconic anime proposal is well done, with numerous comedic and wholesome moments, just like in the first episode.
Before this, however, we get our first look at the opening “Mixed Nuts” by HIGE DANdism, and I really liked this one.
The visuals start off with a noir-action vibe, before transitioning into colourful, childlike images of Anya’s experiences with her family, and then cutting back to action, before right back to wholesome at the end.
Along with this, the vocals are also pretty great.
Once the opening finishes, the Takahiro Harada directed episode begins by setting up the introduction of Twilight’s fake wife to be, first with a comedic moment as Twilight’s friend Franky dresses up as a woman to pose as the wife, only to be turned down by Twilight who wants to explore his options.
And by “explore options”, he means breaking into the City Hall and stealing all of the information on the unmarried women working there to find a potential wife.
Pretty creepy Twilight but, then again, it is for the good of the world.
In any case, this does lead to the introduction of Yor Briar (Saori Hayami) who, as her terrible work colleague says, is rather unique.
I mean, this is kind of obvious, given that she mistakes a joke from her coworkers to mean that boogers actually makes drinks taste better (god help Twilight and Anya when she actually cooks for them) but it goes deeper than that.
This becomes apprent when, right after making up an excuse of already having a bofriend to her brother, she gets a call from her boss to handle a client in her real profession: assasination.
Yor is a high profile assassin, known as the Thorn Princess, who takes out her target with ease, only ripping her dress in the process, a fortuitous turn of events, since it leads to her meeting Twilight and Anya, as all three go to the same clothing store, Twilight to get Anya’s measurements for refined clothing and Yor to get her dress sewed back up for the party.
Due to her skills as an assassin, Yor is able to walk beside Twilight without him noticing, drawing his attention as he wonders if his skills are slacking.
Yor then notices him looking (even though his back is to her, which is weird), and Twilight uses this as an oppurtunity to compliment Yor, considering her as a fake wife candidate.
This causes Yor to consider asking Twilight to be her fake boyfriend for the party, before Anya shows up and Yor wrongly assumes Twilight is married.
Anya then comes in for the save as Twilight’s wingman when, upon reading Yor’s mind and realizing she’s an assassin, Anya wants her to be her mother, so she starts dancing and singing that she wishes she had a mother.
Real inconspicious Anya.
Also hilarious.
With the misunderstanding resolved, Twilight and Yor agree to work togethor, Twilight acting as Yor’s boyfriend at the party and Yor acting as Anya’s mother for the Eden Academy interview.
The only problem is that Twilight has to steal back art from a smuggling ring on the night of the party with Franky, meaning he is late and injured upon arriving.
This causes him to get his missions mixed up and announce to everyone that he is Yor’s husband.
Twilight and Yor roll with it, however, and unintentionally embarass Yor’s rude coworker, who tries to embarass Yor on numerous occasions.
If anything, all this coworkers does is make the two more interested in each other, as Twilight is impressed with Yor’s dedication to looking after her brother and voices this, and Yor grows even closer with Twilight due to his kind words, now looking to extend their agreement.
Granted, Yor does choose the worse time to offer this extension, as she does it while the two are attacked on their way back from the party by the smuggling ring.
Although, maybe it was the right time because it does lead to us seeing the most romantic anime proposal ever, as Loid chucks a grenade at their attackers before using the pin as a ring, with both him and Yor agreeing to stay togethor for their own betterment.
Yet, while both are aware that their reasons for keeping up this marriage are self serving, they are unaware of what their true motivations are: Twilight for his mission to preserve world peace, and Yor so she will not be suspected of being an assassin.
The only one who does know is Anya and that will make for numerous comedic moments in the future of the anime, I assure you.
Overall, I would say that Episode Two is better than the first one, as it felt like it had a lot more room to breath with its comedic timing.
The next episode looks to continue this, since it appears we may be getting some anime only scenes, which will hopefully be just as funny and wholesome as the manga’s humor.