Attack on Titan Volume 19 Review: Colossal Events Unfold.

Chapter 75: War on Two Fronts.

3 and a half stars
Serving as the chapter that builds up the second confrontation between Eren and Reiner, chapter 75 is another decent one from this arc.
It gives us various interesting concepts for the series as well, with a new Titan Shifter being introduced.
I will say though that this new Shifter does look goofy to me but I guess I will just have to see what it can really do before I form a proper opinion on it.
Along with this, it seems like all those Titans that transformed last chapter are actually just normal ones under the control of the Beast Titan.
This is both confusing and has interesting implications because it could mean multiple things.
I think what is happening here is there were multiple people who injected themselves with Titan Serum, dooming themselves to be mindless Titans forever, just to take part in the battle.
If I am right about this then I wonder what could motivate people to do this?
Other than the interesting questions the chapter presents, the rest of it is fairly standard with it being made clear that the warriors are trying to kill the horses to prevent the Scouts from escaping and Eren preparing to fight Reiner.
There were a few great panels here and there though, with one depicting the Beast Titan’s forces and the scouts on opposite sides of the battlefield and another showing that when Reiner transformed he still had Levi’s sword in his neck.
Overall though, “War on Two Fronts” was a standard Attack on Titan chapter that clearly builds towards future events and revelations.

 

Chapter 76: The Thunder Spears.

4 stars
Coming into Chapter 76, “The Thunder Speaks”, I was concerned that the second battle between Eren and Reiner would just turn out to be a replica of the first.
However, while the battle between the two this chapter was not as good as that first one, it was still well crafted and unique enough to provide entertainment value.
Eren used his recently gained hardening ability to attack Reiner and Reiner, in turn, lifted him by the foot to slam him into the ground.
It is very entertaining to look at.
On top of this, we also got to see the Scouts going against Reiner, not just Eren, which was great.
Especially, with the new weapons that were presented, the thunder spears, which the chapter is named after.
Watching the scouts use these new weapons to defeat Reiner was very exciting, although it did lead to a moment from Reiner that made it difficult to care for him because of the hypocrisy he presented.
The best scene of the chapter came when Erwin reflected on all the soldiers who had died on his orders.
This leads to a brilliant moment where he imagines himself standing on a literal mountain of corpses where we see the bodies of dead Scouts like Miche, Gelgar and Nanaba.
There were plenty of other great moments seen throughout the chapter, a personal favourite of mine coming when Levi shouted at his troops, “I forbid you to die!”
Chapter 76 was an action packed chapter that presented some very good character growth.

 

Chapter 77: The World They Saw.

5 stars
Wow, this was a fantastic chapter.
Chapter 77, “The World They Saw”, is the best of this volume and the best in the Shiganshina Arc so far.
It primarily features a flashback from Bertholdt that reveals plenty of things.
First there is the reveal of how Marco really died in Trost District, with him overhearing Reiner and Bertholdt talking, forcing the Warriors to steal his gear and leave him to die.
While I had already guessed that something along these lines had happened from what was shown in season two of the anime, the full reveal in this chapter was still engaging through how it happened.
It helped to humanize the warriors by showing they really did not want to hurt Marco, through how Reiner forced Annie to remove his gear so she could prove herself, and this being revealed to be what caused Reiner’s split personality.
Then there is the revelation Marco had before his death about how when Reiner said, “if we do it, we wait until they gather”, he was sneakily talking about destroying the walls.
This is what I love about Attack on Titan.
There are so many small moments that seem meaningless at first but, when you go back and read them again many chapters later, they take on a new meaning.
Along with this we also got a more recent scene between Reiner, Bertholdt and the Beast Titan who is revealed to be named Zeke.
I know who Zeke is thanks to a troll spoiling me but I am still very interested to see how this will be revealed.
Zeke himself looks to be a very interesting character, being both threatening, yet oddly human.
There is a great moment here when he drinks some tea only to flinch at how hot it is, showing that, despite being a huge threat, he is still a human being.
Finally, there is the conversation between Reiner and Bertholdt at Shiganshina during the flashback.
I liked the interaction between these two but there was one thing that worried me.
Reiner said that he made a promise to Ymir to protect Christa and it sounded like he was talking about her in the past tense.
I really hope Ymir is not dead because she is such a great character and really underused so far in the story.
From here the chapter went to the current timeline, during the battle for Shiganshina.
Reiner was revealed to have had his entire head blown off from the thunder spears but was somehow still alive.
I have no idea how this is even possible and it felt like an extreme case of plot armor.
I did, however, like the reaction from Jean, Connie and Sasha when they thought they had killed Reiner.
It showed that even, after all he has done, they still considered Reiner their friend.
Then there was the cliffhanger, which was absolutely brilliant.
Bertholdt was revealed to not be inside the wall but in a barrel on the back of the new Titan Shifter, which the Beast Titan then throws over the wall for Bertholdt to transform.
I was on the edge of my seat when I read this and just had to read the next chapter after I finished it.
“The World They Saw” was a fantastic chapter of Attack on Titan that produced many shocking and edge of your seat moments.

 

Chapter 78: Descent.

4 stars
Bertholdt was again the star of this chapter where, after abandoning his transformation to save Reiner, he had a very revealing conversation with Armin.
I loved the interaction between these two as their dialogue was perfect and really reflected how great of a writer Hajime Isayama is.
This also led to a very interesting revelation from Armin as he seemed to have deduced that whoever is ordering the warriors around wants them dead because they are “descendants of devils”, whatever that means.
Bertholdt, however, said he does not believe this but stated they all have to die anyway.
While I did like the dialogue that came from this, I will say that I personally did not like how quick this character change felt for Bertholdt.
When we last saw him in the Clash of the Titans Arc, Bertholdt was very remorseful for what he had done but, in this chapter, he seemed to be lacking in any of that remorse.
Maybe it had to do with Armin threatening Annie but it still felt like a very abrupt change.
Another thing I did not like was the reveal of how Reiner survived, which felt very contrived.
The reason Reiner survived getting his head cut off was because he transferred his consciousness to other parts of his body and I do not know if this is even possible.
However, the chapter quickly gets better with its final moments when Bertholdt transforms, creating an explosion like a nuclear bomb that had to have killed at least half of the Survey Corps’ forces.
This may even include Hange and Moblit, but I doubt Isayama would kill Hange like this because it would be disappointing.
On a final note, I was very impressed with a few of the panels in this chapter.
The shot of Bertholdt shouting at Armin with his eyes obscured by shadow gave great insight into his character and inner thoughts.
This was another good chapter that set up what will probably be an epic fight with the Colossal Titan next chapter.

 

Attack on Titan Volume 18 Review: The Battle for Shiganshina Begins!

The first half of Attack on Titan season three ended last week and, unfortunately, we will not be getting the next arc for another six months.
Since I have a bad tendency to get spoiled when it comes to this anime and because I do not want to wait any longer to see what happens, I have decided to read the manga.
I just read Volume 18 so I will review the chapters of this volume from where season three left off.
This means I will not be reviewing chapters 71 and 72 because they have already been covered in the anime.
However, I will be reviewing the remaining chapters 73 and 74.
I will also be reviewing the volumes as I read along, before I get to the recent chapters, which I will review individually.
Until then, here’s my review of the final two chapters from Volume 18.

Chapter 73: The Town Where Everything Began.

3 and a half stars
This chapter kicks off with a great opening to the Shiganshina Arc, with narration over the images of the aftermath of Reiner and Bertholdt’s destruction of Wall Maria.
What I liked about this was it clearly established what was at stake.
Although I will admit, some of the artwork during this section, like when Eren was shown vowing to destroy the Titans again, was rather off-putting because there was an uncanny valley to it.
From here the chapter goes on to detail the Scouts arrival at Shiganshina and them starting to enact their plan of using Eren’s hardening ability to seal the wall.
There were some great character moments during the chapter, like Armin and Eren’s discussion at the beginning.
This conversation made Eren overcome his fear of failure because it reminded him of how Armin started his dream of going outside the walls.
It looks like Armin will get a lot of development in this arc based off the build up he has had in regards to starting Eren’s dream.
Overall, this was fairly standard stuff that is primarily setting up the real battle for Shiganshina, ending with a compelling cliffhanger that reveals Reiner and Bertholdt preparing to strike when Eren goes to seal the hole.

 

Chapter 74: Mission Objective.

4 stars
The battle for Shiganshina kicked off in this chapter with intense scenes of action and suspense that prepares the reader for what is to come.
One thing that did surprise me about this chapter though, was how easily Eren sealed the wall without interference from Reiner and Bertholdt.
It felt like Eren going to seal the wall would have been the perfect time to strike but maybe they did not know which one he was due him wearing his hood.
Either way, Reiner and Bertholdt’s clever hiding was not enough to save them because Armin expertly deduced that they were hiding inside the walls.
I loved how Erwin put Armin in command of a squad in this chapter because it showed how good he could be in a position of power.
It was also very funny when Armin gave orders to the scouts under this command only to follow it up with a “please”.
Armin’s quick thinking led to Reiner being discovered, however, he was prepared and killed a soldier before anyone could blink.
Then, before Reiner could do anymore harm, he was brutally stabbed by Levi in an intense moment of action that had me on the edge of my seat.
Reiner managed to escape and transform, however, and it was after this that the scariest moment of the chapter happened.
As Erwin is handing out orders dozens of Titan’s shift into being on the horizon, including the Beast Titan.
This raises so many questions like if all the Titans with the Beast Titan are Shifters and, if so, why had they not attacked before now?
If they are Shifters then the Scouts are in for a whole world of hurt and bloodshed.
Speaking of which, I expect we will be seeing a round two between Eren and Reiner next chapter if the cover of Volume 19 is anything to go on.
Overall, this chapter was a great way to kick of the battle for Shiganshina and has me terrified and excited about what will happen next.

The Walking Dead, Season 9, Episode one, The Bridge Review: Another Solid Episode

4 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

The Walking Dead season nine continues on track in its second episode, “The Bridge.”
Since seeing the season premiere over a week ago, I have been optimistic about the show’s future given that the new showrunner, Angela Kang, helped produce an episode that was better than almost every episode in the last two seasons.
“The Bridge” continues this, giving us an episode just as good as the last one, providing more great aspects of acting, character development and action.
This episode primarily follows Rick and the others’ attempts to build a bridge for the Sanctuary and the disastrous consequences that follow.
During this time we got an expansion on character’s relationships since the time skip that I enjoyed, for the most part.
There was one relationship reveal that I personally was not a fan of, which I will get into in the spoiler review section.
Aside from this though, I loved the character interactions both major and minor that presented once again top-notch performances from the cast, especially from Ross Marquand who was the standout.
The performances have got significantly better in these two episodes than prior seasons and I am looking forward to seeing what the cast can pull off in the future.
The episode also gives us a few cliffhangers, some I like and some I have mixed feeling about.
Overall though, “The Bridge” was another good episode of The Walking Dead, which can hopefully continue to the end of the season.

Spoiler Review:

“The Bridge” picked up at least a month after the cliffhanger of the previous episode where Maggie hanged Gregory and made her position on the Saviours abundantly clear.
Now Rick and the other communities were working together to build the bridge for the Sanctuary, leading to a horrific accident that caused Aaron to lose his hand after it was crushed under a log and had to be amputated.
Ross Marquand did absolutely incredible in this scene, giving not just the standout performance of the episode but the standout performance of his entire time on the show.
He pulled off the agony his character was in extremely well and it made me feel incredibly sorry for him.
On a lighter note though, many fans have pointed out that now with his beard and missing hand Aaron looks more like Rick in the comics than Andrew Lincoln himself, which is funny.
The cause of Aaron’s accident was an incompetent Saviour named Justin, played by Zack McGowan.
However, Justin was not long for this world because he is attacked at the end of the episode.
Justin clearly recognized whoever attacked him and this has sparked the theory that it was a Whisperer wearing his dead friend’s skin.
If this is the Whisperers I am eagerly anticipating their arrival as they are by far the most disturbing villains of the comics.
However, while I did like this moment near the end of the episode, there was one moment I was not so sure about it.
This is when Anne sees the helicopter from season eight again in the night sky.
I have a feeling that what this helicopter means will either be great or bad for the series so we will have to see if that plays out.
If it is the Commonwealth, however, I think they are introducing them far too early.
Speaking of Anne though, another thing I have mixed feelings on was the reveal of her relationship with Gabriel, which, in all honesty, felt pretty forced to me.
But it may improve in the future, who knows?
Even though I did not like the interactions between Anne and Gabriel very much there were plenty of other interactions I loved.
For example, there was the interaction between Carol and Ezekiel, where Carol agreed to wear his ring but refuse his speech, and the conversation between Earl and Maggie about Earl’s alcoholism.
Then there were the Rick and Negan moments, which were great as Jeffrey Dean Morgan is perfect as Negan.
However, I will admit, it is sad we will never get to see him interact with Carl in the New Beginning story arc because their odd friendship in the comics is very interesting.
Even so, I will still say that “The Bridge” is another great episode of The Walking Dead.
It is not without its flaws but it, and the previous episode, are still better than what came before.

Predictions:

  1. Every time I see a new couple get together in season nine I always think one of them is going to be on the receiving end of a machete and have their stuck on a pike by the Whisperers. First I thought Ezekiel would die this way, now I have a feeling Anne may as well, after she finishes her helicopter storyline though.
  2. Speaking of Anne, I wonder when she will reveal what she knows about the helicopter and why she did not tell everyone about it after she joined the group at the end of season eight? Hopefully this will be revealed soon.

Bad Times at the El Royale Review: A Priest, a Singer and a Cult Leader Walk into a Hotel.

4 and a half stars
Drew Goddard is a fantastic writer, having many film credits to his name but only one directorial credit, this being The Cabin in the Woods.
Well, now he has two to his name as his latest film Bad Times at the El Royale has been released.
Upon seeing the trailer for this film I was very intrigued by it, although I will admit it showed too much.
Even coming in knowing a few things that were going to happen, however, I still had a blast with this movie.
The basic plot is that a bunch of wacky characters consisting of a priest, a singer, a salesman, a hippie, a psychopathic girl, a guilt ridden hotel employee and a sadistic cult leader all stay for the night in the dying out El Royale Hotel.
Each of them have their own secrets, some not being who they claim they are.
What follows is a series of choices between California and Nevada, good and evil and red and black that results in numerous intense twists and turns.
The acting across the board for this film is stellar with many of the actors including Jeff Bridges, Lewis Pullman and Chris Hemsworth (for the brief time he is in the film) giving knockout performances.
The real standout of the film though is Cynthia Erivo in her film debut as Darlene Sweet, the singer who gets roped in on Bridges’ Father Flynn’s secret plans.
Ervio not only provides great acting but a great voice as well with her singing being of importance to the film, even going on to provide a very tense scene.

Darlene Sweet
Cynthia Erivo does a fantastic job as Darlene Sweet, owning every scene she is in.

Along with the acting, the cinematography is amazing and created tension between characters and added new meaning to scenes.
About half-way through Bad Times at the El Royale I remembered the odd way the first shot of the film was composed and the meaning behind it, which was brilliant.
Seamus McGarvey did an amazing job with the film’s cinematography.
A lot of people are comparing this film to Quentin Tarantino’s work, which I can definitely see because this film reminded me a lot of The Hateful Eight.
However, even though it is reminiscent of Tarantino’s films, it is not dependent on them and stands alone as its own individual film.
The one issue I had was the flashbacks, which were sometimes very jarring.
This is especially apparent in the final act when one of these flashbacks interrupts an action sequence and it took a few minutes for me to adjust as things were explained.

Chris Hemsworth.jpg
The final act, initiated by the arrival of Chris Hemsworth’s charismatic cult leader Billy Lee, is interrupted by a flashback that briefly kills the momentum.

Still, this did not completely put me off as I was still enthralled with the arcs these flashbacks presented for the characters.
Overall, Bad Times at the El Royale was a fantastic film from Goddard that I had a ball with.
That being said the film will not be everyone’s taste with its slow pace, which I think it earns but others may not.
Either way, I still recommend you check it out to see if you like it or not.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2 Delay Shows Big Communication Problem.

For weeks I have been hearing rumors that Attack on Titan would be going on a break after the Uprising Arc wrapped up.
I did not want to believes these rumors but, as time went on, the evidence just kept piling up.
Sadly this evidence was correct because it has been announced that the second half of season three will be released in April of 2019.
While I do find this disappointing, I cannot fault the creators for the delay because they are clearly putting a lot of effort into the anime and I believe they would not be taking a break unless it was absolutely necessary.
What I do fault them for, however, is their absolutely terrible communication with the Attack on Titan fan base.
Had they announced season three would take a break half-way through before the third season started airing I would not have had a problem with this.
Many shows I watch take breaks, like The Walking Dead, and I do not have a problem with those shows.
However, this is because we know going into the show that there will be a break.
When watching The Walking Dead I know I am going to get eight episodes and then a break before the final eight episodes air.
For Attack on Titan season three, however, there was no such notification other than the rumors until the very last minute.
I came into season three expecting to get all the episodes so it is incredibly disappointing to suddenly realise we are not going to get anymore for about six months.
Had they just announced the break earlier, I would have been okay with this but they only released recently.
This shows a massive communication problem with the anime towards the show’s fan base that needs to be fixed.
To be clear though, I am not mad about this, just disappointed as I believe fans of the anime deserve better.
There is another reason I am disappointed about this break though but I do not fault the creators for this one.
I am also disappointed because of how long this break is, coming in at six months.
With this amount of  time the break takes up I will inevitably be spoiled by future events in Attack on Titan because I am terrible at avoiding these spoilers.
As a result, I have decided to read the manga so this will not happen any further, meaning I will see the rest of the series so far before it is animated.
While I would prefer to see the story told in anime format first, I prefer seeing things for myself more.
So you can expect to see my reviews for manga volumes from where the Attack on Titan anime left off.
As I stated earlier though, the timing of the announcement concerning the break for Attack on Titan season three part two shows a real communication problem with its fan base.
This break should have been announced earlier and hopefully the creators can learn from this.

Attack on Titan Season 3, Episode 12, Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall Review: Emotion, Laughs and One Hell of a Mid-Credits Scene.

4 and a half stars

Spoiler Free Review:

The Uprising Arc of Attack on Titan officially concluded with the twelfth episode of the third season, “Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall”, and what an episode to end it on.
This is because the episode serves as the perfect transition point between this arc and the next, which from what I have heard is one of if not the series’ best.
“Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall” pulled many emotions out of me from anticipation to dread as it went on.
Despite the episode’s constant upbeat feel, there was an overlaying feeling of dread hidden throughout that reared its ugly head during the end credits.
Seriously, you NEED to sit through the end credits when watching this episode.
Remember when I said “Friends” had the best cliffhanger for Attack on Titan?
Well, “Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall” put that cliffhanger to shame, with a startling and, honestly terrifying mid-credits scene that left most of the characters’ fates up in the air.
However, along with containing the most worrying scenes of the series, this episode also contained some of the funniest.
There is a dinner scene in this episode that had me laughing constantly in the span of about five minutes.
There were also a lot of great character moments, especially from Erwin and Levi who both grew as characters.
The soundtrack was also a standout with numerous OSTs returning, including one of my favourites “Call of Silence”.
One of the few issues I had with the episode though was that we did not get to see any of Historia and, since this is the episode that wraps up this arc, which was primarily about her, it is kind of a misstep not to have her.
Otherwise “Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall” was another fantastic Attack on Titan episode that concluded the Uprising Arc brilliantly.
If I had to rank this arc I would say it is my second favourite, right behind the Clash of the Titans Arc from season two.

Spoiler Review:

“Night of the Battle to Retake the Wall” kicks off with what is probably its biggest set-up since the reveal that the basement was important, this being the Titan serum given to Levi by Kenny.
The various leaders of the military convene to decide what to do with it and in the end entrust it to Levi.
This has massive implications for the series because it opens up the possibility for another Titan Shifter in the near future.
I think I already have an idea on who this will be because of spoilers but I will not give it away for people who are anime only so if you want to see who I think it is then check out the predictions section below.
Along with Levi being entrusted with the Titan serum, we also got some substantial development from both him and Erwin.
We saw that Erwin was willing to acknowledge that he finds his desire to learn the truth, generated by his father’s death, is more important to him than humanity.
Along with this, we saw Levi’s growth through his close connection with Erwin and how this eventually lead to him listen to Eren, Armin and Mikasa as they talked about the outside world.
Speaking of Mikasa, she finally got some development this episode.
I said in my review of “Bystander” I talked about how I was getting annoyed by her lack of development so I am glad to see she is getting some, even if it is only minor.
Eren and Jean get into a fight for around the tenth time only instead of saving Eren, like she always would, Mikasa says he will be fine and watches him with a smile.
This small moment from her showed a supreme level of growth because she has learned to not worry about Eren as much, although I do think a better job could have been done of showing where this development came from.
However, just because Mikasa did not interfere that does not mean Levi did the same thing because he beat up the two and then demanded someone clean up the puke Jean threw up.
This was one of many moments during this dinner sequence that had me in fits of laughter.
Sasha going crazy over the meat and having to be tied up, her biting Jean’s hand like a rabid dog and various other scouts fighting over the food were some of the many things that made me laugh during this sequence.
This all builds to the triumphant final scene where the Survey Corps goes to plug up Wall Maria, only to be meet by an enthusiastic crowd for the first time ever.
This leads to a cheer inducing, yet hilarious, scene where Erwin roars in triumph with the citizens and then leading the Scouts to Wall Maria with his signature shout of “ADVANCE!”
However, this triumphant feeling is quickly undermined with a feeling of dread provided by a shot of Reiner and Bertholdt waiting at Shiganshina and the explosive mid-credits scene.
This scene was a genuine shock the first time I saw it because its static opening made me believe my laptop was broken.
This initial belief was quickly thrown out the window as the scene continued, however, with numerous quick cuts of old and new footage.
This all culminates in a brief yet terrifying scene where a bloodied Levi tells Eren and Mikasa in Shiganshina, with a burnt corpse beside them, “do you have the faintest damn clue… what you’re doing!?”
This leads him to attack Eren, which causes a tearful Mikasa to attack Levi and prepare to slit his throat before the scene cuts back to the credits.
This ends the Uprising Arc on a terrifying high note that has dire suggestions about the next arc that I cannot wait to see.

Predictions:

  1. In regards to the mid-credits scene, there were numerous shots that offer up suggestions for what could happen in the second half of season three. There are numerous shots from previous episodes like Grisha preparing to inject Eren, the key, and even shots from the season two outro, which is said to explain the history of Attack on Titan‘s world. However, there are also many new shots as well like the shot of a mysterious woman, a shoe in the grass, someone holding a seashell and Titan skeletons in a field. What these images mean is anyone’s guess but it is the scene we get after these quick shots that offers the real meat in terms of predictions. For example, who is the burnt corpse on the roof with Eren, Mikasa and Levi? It should be noted that Erwin is missing during this scene so I wonder if this is him. Although if it is then this does not explain why Mikasa is crying, why Levi attacks Eren and why Mikasa then tries to kill Levi. These are many unanswered questions that I look forward to being answered in the Beast Titan Arc.
  2. WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS!!! I am pretty sure I know who Levi is going to use the Titan serum on and that character is Armin. I got spoiled that Bertholdt dies and Armin becomes the Colossal Titan and the only real way for this to happen would be if Armin became a Titan and ate Bertholdt. So it is almost certainly Armin that Levi will inject with the serum Kenny gave him. This also has huge implications for the series since Armin becoming the Colossal Titan will be a shocking turn of events because even though I know it is going to happen I do not know how.

Whatever the case, I am looking forward to seeing another episode of Attack on Titan next week… wait, it’s not coming back until April, 2019… WHAT!?

 

BoJack Horseman Season Two: What is Happiness?

4 stars
“What does it mean to be truly happy?”
This is what I found asking myself after watching the second season of BoJack Horseman.
Picking up where the first season left off, this one sees BoJack acting in the role he has been pursuing for years, that of Secretariat.
However, even though this is what he always wanted, BoJack still struggles with the meaning of happiness and how to get it, resulting in often disastrous consequences.
The second season picks up brilliantly from the thought provoking cliffhanger of the fist one with BoJack’s struggles, which made him even more sympathetic.
One feature I particularly liked was how the relationship between BoJack and his mother was portrayed and the effect this had on BoJack.
It was this portrayal that allowed me to understand many of the actions BoJack took, even the reprehensible ones.
I was shocked that, even after he committed an absolutely disgusting breach of trust in episode 11, I still found myself feeling sorry for him, which shows just how great his characterization is.

Bojack and Charlotte
BoJack’s breach of trust in episode 11 is reprehensible but somehow, even after this, the show managed to make me feel sorry for him.

BoJack is not the only great character this season though, as many of the other main characters grew exponentially making me care for them a lot more.
This was achieved through the portrayal of relationships.
Mr Peanutbutter (Paul F. Thompkins) and Diane’s relationship was done a lot better than in the first season and one of their final scenes together had me grinning from ear to ear.
As for Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), her growth through her relationship with a workmate had me cheering for her by the end.
Finally there was Todd (Aaron Paul) whose friendship with BoJack not only made him grow as a character but also helped BoJack be more sympathetic and relatable.
Even the side characters shined this season with me coming to care for many of them like Kelsey (Maria Bamford).
Even background characters who barely speak stand out on occasion.

It Gets Easier
“It gets easier” this character who is often seen in the background tells an exhausted BoJack, providing a double meaning about happiness that shows the importance of even background characters in this show. 

The humor this season is also good but not as good as the first, with the series’ main selling point being its complex characters and relationships that speak volumes about what it is to be happy and the dangers of celebrity status.
One criticism I do have though is how the Secretariat storyline played out, which kind of went off the rails half-way through the season.
It was set-up that this storyline was where BoJack would pursue his happiness throughout the season but it got pushed to the side by the end only to suddenly reappear.
All in all though, this was another great season of BoJack Horseman that brought up complex questions about happiness.

The Walking Dead, Season 9, Episode one A New Beginning Review: A Return to Form?

4 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Coming into The Walking Dead season nine, I have felt like this was the season that would return the show to its former glory or doom it forever.
The series has been in a slow decline ever since season six that it all culminated in the disastrous decision to kill off Carl.
However, season nine opens on the A New Beginning story arc, which gave the comics a new and fresh feel to it that made the already great comic even better.
So, even with Andrew Lincoln, and possibly Lauren Cohan, leaving the show, season nine could pull The Walking Dead out of the drain it has slowly been circling.
For this season they even changed showrunners, moving Scott Gimple over to Fear The Walking Dead and, given how terrible that show has become since he started working there, I think it is good he no longer holds that position for the main show.
Angela Kang has replaced Scott Gimple as showrunner for season nine and if episode one, “A New Beginning”, is any indication then she was definitely the right choice.
Written by Kang and directed by Greg Nicotero, “A New Beginning” felt incredibly different from the last two seasons in the best of ways.
It had great writing, acting and pacing, which, looking back on season seven and eight, were features that were sorely lacking.
It even had a new title sequence, which was well done and different compared to what we have seen previously.
If the other episodes of season nine play out like this then this season may be a return to form for the series that gets me fully invested in it again.
There are no guarantees though, especially with two of the main characters leaving this season, but I remain optimistic based on this episode.
“A New Beginning” was a great start to the season that has me intrigued for what the rest of it holds.

Spoiler Review:

Now to get into the specifics.
“A New Beginning” starts off with a time jump, being a few years after the war ended Rick and the communities are working together to help get the Sanctuary back on its feet.
Numerous things are revealed in this opening half hour, like many of the Saviours still want Negan to return, Daryl has taken over Dwight’s comic storyline by being leader of the Sanctuary, and Carol and Ezekiel have got together.
This leads to a both sweet and humorous scene where Ezekiel proposes to Carol after a close call.
This close call was at a museum where Anne (Jadis’ real name) remembered there was gear that could help the Saviours with their crops.
There were many interesting character interactions and events during this mission, including Siddiq being attacked by a Walker.
I loved this moment because it made Walkers scary again, which was once again something that has been lacking in the past few seasons.
The threat the Walkers pose is truly established when, in a freak accident, one of them bites and kills a survivor from the Hilltop named Ken.
We just met Ken this episode so his death does not really mean anything on an emotional level.
Rather, it is the impact of his death that truly delivers, both emotionally and for the story.
We get to see his parents’ reaction to his death and both actors playing these characters do a tremendous job of getting their grief across, which really made me feel for them.
Story wise, Ken’s death also has huge implications because it leads to Gregory manipulating the boy’s father to try and kill Maggie.
I was very surprised by this turn of events because Gregory’s attempt on Maggie’s life does not come until much later in the comics, but it was a nice surprise.
This lead to Gregory’s comic book death when is hanged for his crimes on Maggie’s orders, showing Rick that she is planning on doing things differently and subtly shaming him for sparing Negan.
This was a great continuation on the weak cliffhanger from season eight that hinted at Maggie, Daryl and Jesus going against Rick because its set up numerous debates and conflicts that were not present at this stage in the comics.
Along with all this, I liked what the episode did with its characters, primarily Daryl.
For the past three seasons I feel that Daryl has been a very weak character with little to no character development and because of this, when it was announced that Rick would be killed off, I had no confidence in Daryl taking over as the lead.
After this episode, however, I can say that, if he continues on this track, Daryl may actually be able to take over from Rick.
Daryl got development in this episode that made me like him a lot more.
On top of this, the dialogue and acting during these character development scenes was much better than seasons seven and eight, along with the pacing.
“A New Beginning” is, in my opinion, miles better than what we got in season seven and eight, and if the show continues like this then it may actually redeem itself.

 

Predictions:

  1. Ezekiel and Carol’s interactions have me worried because Carol seems to be taking the path comic Michonne did by leaving Ezekiel. All of this points towards (Warning: Potential Spoilers!) Ezekiel being killed by the Whisperers, just like he was in the comics, and Carol regretting leaving him.
  2. It looks like we will see Negan in his prison next episode, which I am very interested in. While I am disappointed we will not get to see him interact with Carl again, it will be interesting to see how he and Rick’s conversations play out.

The Walking Dead Issue 184, Eugene Tinkers Review: Good Overall but Weak Cliffhanger.

3 and a half stars
Just as I predicted in last month’s issue of The Walking Dead, in this one Eugene begins his plans to set up a train between the Commonwealth and Rick’s communities, hence the title “Eugene Tinkers.”
This was a very good issue overall, that primarily dealt with Rick and Dwight’s reaction to the Commonwealth, the aftermath of the Anthony Keith situation, and Eugene’s plan.
All of these plots were handled fairly well, especially when they intersected with Rick getting a sense of the Commonwealth through Michonne and her involvement in the case of Anthony Keith’s death.
This moment provided my favourite panel of this issue with Michonne wondering if she has sold her soul to keep peace in the Commonwealth.
Michonne states with fear, “I’m afraid I already have” and her face is covered entirely in darkness, which is a great use of symbolism in regards to her getting involved in the darker aspects of the new community.
She also seems to have got the soldiers who killed Keith off the hook for now so it will be interesting to see how the public react to this given the intense ending of the riot at the beginning of the issue.
Though the way Rick handled things in the aftermath of this did seem to bring a lot of people over to his side as evidenced by the two Commonwealth citizens who seem interested in moving to his community.
Pamela was obviously concerned about this because, in an earlier scene, she helped Rick clean up the mess of the riot just so she could look though.
Her son Sebastian, however, was not having it and continues to be a total jerk in any given situation.
Other interesting events of the issue include the trial Michonne speaks at, which shows how the Commonwealth’s court system works and the revelation that Princess and Mercer are in a relationship.
I honestly laughed when I saw this because I felt like her kissing him a few issues back was just a joke so it was kind of funny to see that Kirkman actually intended that to be the building blocks for their relationship.
That is not to say I think this is poorly done because I will have to wait to see how their relationship progresses and their characters grow before I know if the two work together or if this is a misfire.
Of course the big moment of the issue is Eugene’s plan to reconstruct a railroad between communities, which has huge world building implications for the series.
However, the issue was not all good because the cliffhanger is very weak.
Dwight basically confronts Rick about helping the Commonwealth through getting their own leader there.
Rick refuses and Dwight gets angry, then it is on to the letter hacks.
I felt like this cliffhanger was very weak because it is almost certainly a fake one, which will be immediately resolved at the beginning of the next issue.
If not, then this will only add more to the pointless Rick vs Dwight subplot, that is honestly making me really dislike Dwight, which is a shame because he was a real standout in the Whisperer War arc.
Overall though, “Eugene Tinkers” was a good issue that had plenty of interesting moments and set up plenty of interactions between Rick and the Commonwealth community.

Attack on Titan: Season 3, Episode 11, Bystander Review – The Mystery of Grisha Jaeger.

3 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

After a week’s delay because of a typhoon, the eleventh episode from season three of Attack on Titan, “Bystander”, has been released.
Overall, I would say this episode is the weakest of season three so far.
This is not me saying that it was a bad episode, it was good, but in comparison with the fantastic episodes we were delivered previously this one is a bit of a slow burn.
The main purpose of “Bystander” is to make sense of prior events in the series, although I will admit, it does do this with a very good use of character development for two of its characters.
By far the most intriguing part of this episode though, was the backstory of Grisha Jaeger, Eren’s father.
I am much more interested to learn about who he really was than when I watched the first season because of what has been revealed about him, not only in this episode but in other ones like “Sin” as well.
Grisha was not the only character who got development though because we also got some insight into Keith Sadies, the commandant of the training corps and the titular “Bystander.”
We also got to see some old faces in this episode, which was nice, and saw a few interesting uses for Eren’s new Titan ability gained in previous episodes.
Although, I will say that it was hard not to giggle when they described Eren’s attempts at perfecting his Titan powers as “hardening experiments.”
Like I said, this episode is good but there is just nothing that really sticks out to me like in the previous episodes of season three.
I will not deny “Bystander’s” necessity to the story because it does help give context to certain scenes.
However, take away the mystery about Grisha and there is not much to this episode.

Spoiler Review:

Just like I predicted last episode, the “Bystander” of this episode was none other than Keith Sadies, who goes on to reveal the backstory of when Grisha was living inside the walls.
Suffering from memory loss, Grisha was discovered by Keith outside the walls and went to become a life saving doctor in Shiganshina, where he eventually married Carla and had Eren.
Learning about Grisha’s life in Shiganshina makes him a much more interesting character and I cannot wait to learn what his motivations were.
It was also nice that we got to see some old characters in this flashback, like Hannes, and, as stated earlier, Carla.
Keith’s development for this episode was also good but made him come across as more unlikable to me than sympathetic, with what appeared to be him damaging Eren’s equipment from the third episode of the series out of spite.
Although he did change his mind about this, it paints Keith in a very negative light.
Along with this flashback, “Bystander” also had a time jump, picking up two months after Historia became queen.
Numerous events have happened since then, like Historia providing a home for numerous orphans, Marlo joining the Survey Corps and Eren using his “hardening experiments” (I still cannot take that seriously) to provide new means of killing Titans without losing any soldiers.
These were all very nice revelations, especially Historia’s because it continued her arc of wanting to help those in need, which was set up in “Outside the Walls of Orvud District.”
Another thing I liked about these scenes before Keith’s flashback was that is seemed to suggest that they are keeping Connie’s Titan mother alive.
I am glad this is being brought up again because it has the potential to result in some more development for Connie who has not had much screen time this season.
One funny scene in “Bystander” came when Mikasa got jealous over Eren and Historia.
The glare she sent there way was nothing short of creepy.
However, while this was funny, Mikasa’s scenes in this episode highlight a problem I have been having with her character recently.
In my “Top 10 Favorite Attack on Titan Characters” list I made after watching season two, Mikasa came in as my second favorite character next to Armin.
However, after re-watching the first two seasons and seeing how Mikasa has been portrayed in this season as well, I find her to be a lot less interesting than I first thought.
Mikasa has had almost no development for a very long time and yet she is one of the main characters, which is a problem.
This lack of development causes only her fighting skills and borderline yandere obsession with Eren to shine through, which I am not a fan of.
There have been multiple moments to give Mikasa development this season, like the reveal that Levi and Kenny are related to her, but there has been nothing but the usual “Eren this, Eren that” from her.
Hopefully she will get more development because she is really starting to go further down on my list of favorite characters at this point.
Just like my problem with missing characters I mentioned in my previous review though, I do not fault the episode for this but rather the series itself.
Overall, “Bystander” was the weakest episode of season three so far.
Not bad but nothing special.

Predictions:

  1. Grisha is revealed to have lost his memories when he first entered the Walls but if he found the Reiss family, passed on his Titan power to Eren and put something in the basement that means he must have regained those memories. I wonder when this happened and if it will be important to the story.
  2. The reveal that Connie’s mother’s Titan may still be alive has some interesting implications. If they ever discover a cure for the Titans then Connie may be able to bring her back.