Barakamon Review: Slice of Life at its Best.

4 stars
Going to Anime Club at my university, I was not sure what to expect.
I was especially curious to see what kind of anime we would be watching, expecting to see some over the top action.
So, imagine my surprise when we started watching Barakamon, a slice of life anime that I found to be both heartwarming and hilarious.
Directed by Masaki Tachibana, and based off the manga by Satsuki Yoshino, The story follows calligrapher Seishu Handa (Daisuke Ono) who takes the idea of everybody hating critics more than a little too far when he punches an old curator who criticizes his work.
This results in Handa being sent to Goto Island to reflect on his actions and gain new inspiration for his calligraphy.

Barakamon
Hana is surprisingly relatable, given one of the first things we see him do is punch an elderly man.

On the island, he meets a cast of equally colorful characters, including the young girl Naru (Suzuko Hara) who joyously annoys him with her admiration every chance she gets.
The bond that grows between her and Handa is great to see play out, surprisingly so considering Handa’s actions in the first episode.
Not only this but Barakamon is also incredibly funny from start to finish, with every episode being jam packed with laughs.
One recurring joke of the yaoi obsessed Tamako (Rumi Okubo) falsely believing a romance is going on between Handa and another character Hiro gets funnier every time.
I honestly cannot count how many times we all burst into laughter with the constant great jokes, as very few fell flat.

 

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the comedy of Barakamon is spot on, proving numerous laughs. Every episode you will be laughing at something.

The anime also has some great cases of music, especially with the opening “Rashisha” by Super Beaver, which is very catchy.
This combination of great characters, jokes and music made for a very fun experience over the span of twelve episodes.
My only criticism is that some characters were not as fleshed out as they could have been.
Otherwise, Barakamon is a hilarious, good time and I suggest you watch it, especially if you are a fan of the slice of life genre.

Attack on Titan, Season Three, Episode 17, Hero Review: Greatness Begins.

5 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

I have waited to see this moment animated for a long time.
Coming into season three, I knew that “Hero” was going to be one of the series’ best episodes and, thank god, I was right.
As a manga reader, it would have been bitterly disappointing if they had screwed this up somehow, but they adapted Hajime Isayama’s story perfectly.
“Hero” is a non-stop, action packed, emotional thrill ride that will leave you both cheering and crying on multiple occasions.
If you thought things could not get any sadder after Erwin’s desperate suicide charge last episode then you have another thing coming.
The theme of sacrifice from “Perfect Game” is continued in “Hero” with an arguably worse case of it this time around.
We get to see the remains of Erwin’s own suicide squad carry out their mission in all its horrifying detail, as Levi makes his move of the Beast Titan.
This led to a scene that was so amazingly animated and satisfying that I expect many people will be screaming at their screens when they see it.
Levi’s voice actor, Hiroshi Kamiya, does a great job this episode, displaying Levi’s rage and vulnerabilities brilliantly.
The best performance out of everyone, though, goes to Marina Inoue as Armin in a gripping scene that will have you on the edge of your seat.
“Hero” definitely displays why Armin is my favourite character, and if you did not like him earlier, for some reason, then this episode will surely make you love his character.
Adding to all these greats scenes the actors voice is the absolutely amazing animation and music.
The scene with Levi is the best animated scene in Attack on Titan since he fought Kenny’s squad in the second episode of season three, “Pain.”
On top of this, the music is just as thrilling, with one new piece coming at the end bringing out all the emotion.
This is why Attack on Titan has my favourite soundtrack out of any series I have seen.
I do have some issues with the CGI Colossal Titan and the censorship taking away some of the impact, but these are so minor that the rest of the episode’s greatness far overshadows them.
“Hero” is an episode I have been looking forward ever since I read the manga, and it far exceeds my expectations.
It is already well in my top five favourite episodes.
And the best part?
The episodes are only going to get more amazing from here.

Spoiler Review:

Many people were excited to see Levi fight the Beast Titan after last episode but what we get is not a fight… it’s a massacre.
Levi absolutely eviscerates Zeke this episode, in an amazing action sequence that makes me glad the series took a hiatus to perfect this.
Zeke completely deserves this too after what he did, to Erwin last episode, and the rest of the scouts in this episode.
Watching Marlo’s last moments is just as impactful as it was in the manga, with my only problem with these moments, again, being the censorship.
I think if they showed it the way the manga did it could have been a lot more impactful.
However, given that it is already so impactful, this is hardly a major problem.
Sadly, Levi’s victory is short lived because the quadruple Titan returns to rescue Zeke who then sics the rest of the mindless Titans on him, like a pack of wild dogs.
This is Levi we are talking about, though, so he is probably fine.
That said, hearing the crushing defeat in his voice after Zeke escapes is brutal, showing how good a job Kamiya did.
We then get a look at what appears to be the sole survivor of Zeke’s attack, Floch, who is somehow unharmed.
If you did not notice this guy beforehand that is understandable, however, you should definitely take notice of him now because this is where he officially becomes an important character.
After this, the episode switches to Armin and the gang’s fight against Bertholdt and Reiner.
Coming out of his stupor from the previous episodes, Armin comes up with a bold plan to defeat Bertholdt, but one that may cause him to pay the ultimate price, unfortunately.
Using Armin as a distraction gives Eren enough time to sneak behind Berthodlt and cut him out of the Colossal Titan, chopping off his limbs in the process.
However, Armin’s distraction may prove fatal because he is horrifically burned by the Colossal Titan’s steam, yet continues his plan in a scene that defines Armin as the titular “Hero” of the episode.
I will once again say that Inoue did a fantastic job voicing Armin.
The pain she displays in Armin’s voice, with him entrusting his dream of seeing the ocean to Eren, as he is being burned alive is so emotionally gripping.
I teared up during this scene and, watching others react to it online, I know I am not alone.
Again, the one minor nitpick I have is the CGI Colossal Titan.
It is not terrible but it is a bit jarring when the shots switch between CGI and regular animation because the different is quite noticeable.
While this tragic sacrifice is happening, Miksasa, Jean, Sasha and Connie make their move against Reiner.
In the end Jean and Sasha are injured, and Mikasa is left with only one thunder spear to defeat him.
Just as all hope seems lost, who should jump in to save the day?
Hange, minus one eye.
The music of theses scenes where the scouts take on Reiner and Bertholdt is amazing and serves to enhance the emotional epicness of these moments.
Then there is the animation of Mikasa’s final attack, which is just as great as when Levi takes on Zeke.
Also the slow motion shot of Eren taking down the Colossal Titan is all kinds of epic.
The final scene of “Hero” sees Eren dragging a mutilated Bertholdt to Armin’s burned body and declaring he always knew he was a hero.
Touching and tragic, and it only to get even more so because next week is the anticipated Serum Bowl.
If you do not know what the means then hold onto your seats next week because it will be crazy.

 

Brightburn Review: Trailers Spoil Another Film.

3 stars
The first trailer of Brightburn had me dead set on seeing the film.
A horror movie about an evil kid Superman?
Sign me up.
Every subsequent trailer served to get me more and more interested in the film but little did I know that those trailers spoiled the entire film.
If you want to go see Brightburn but have not seen the trailers then I seriously recommend you do not watch them.
One of the them even goes as far as to spoil the ending of the movie, which is about as bad as you can get with these spoiler trailers.
I wonder when whoever makes these things is going to realise that you do not need to spoil audiences to get them into seats.
Look at movies like Shazam and Avengers: Infinity War.
The trailers for those films revealed very little about what would happen, and they did great at getting the audiences hyped for them.
It is a shame because I think I would have enjoyed Brightburn a lot more than I did if I had not been spoiled by those trailers.

Brightburn trailer.jpg
As Brightburn neared its end, I realised a shot from the trailers had not been in the film yet, making me realise how the film would end, which ruined the experience for me. 

Also despite what they would have you believe, James Gunn did not direct this film.
It is actually directed by David Yarovesky and written by Gunn’s brothers Mark and Brian.
As I said, the movie is about an evil child with the powers of superman, played in a creepy performance by Jackson A. Dunn.
That is one of the things I liked about Brightburn, the performances.
Everyone does a great job, especially the kid’s parents played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman, who really sell their relationship.
This makes it all the scarier when things get going and people start dying, in brutal fashion I must add.
I honestly did not expect Brightburn to be as gory as it is.
There were multiple times where I had to look away because of how disgusting it was.
The writers definitely took every opportunity to use the kid’s superpowers to create unique and violent deaths.
The third act is full of gore fueled scares that keep you on the edge of your seat.
However, the movie does have its faults.
The biggest for me is the boy, Brandon Breyer, himself.
His character seems to flip-flop a bit in terms of motivation.
One minute he is a boy serial killer with super human powers, and the next he is saying he wants to do good.
Honestly, hearing him say he wants to be good after he has sadistically murdered dozens of innocent people is very jarring.

serial killer super kid.jpg
Brandon Beyer is basically a serial killer with super powers, so it is weird how he says he wants to be good after committing horrible murder after horrible murder.

I also was not exactly sure why he was doing these terrible things.
Was it because he had been taken over by the force that sent him to earth, or was it because he’s just a psychopath?
There is also one plot point concerning Breyer’s crush on a girl at school, and its horrifying consequences, which is dropped like a hammer.
But, overall, Brightburn is still a decent film with good performances and some scary moments.
Although, if you have seen the trailers there is no point in going to see it because you will already know what is going to happen.

Game of Thrones, Series Finale, The Iron Throne Review: A Disappointing End.

two-and-a-half-stars
A few weeks before the series finale of Game of Thrones, “The Iron Throne”, aired, I learned that the ending of the show had been leaked.
I did not listen to these spoilers but I heard that those who had were disappointed with the ending, some even outright hating it.
This left me concerned, especially given that I was already disliking where the series was heading, having seen the incredibly underwhelming third episode, “The Long Night.”
So, coming into the final episode of Game of Thrones, I had my fingers crossed that the leaks were wrong and “The Iron Throne”, directed by David Benioff and D. B Weiss, would end the series right.
And you know what?
I thought the first half of this episode was pretty good.
It is not spectacular or anything, but I did like most of the things that happened here.
“The Iron Throne” picks up after Dany (Emilia Clarke) burned down King’s Landing, killing thousands of innocent civilians, including children.
We get to see a lot of characters dealing with the reality that Dany is not the benign ruler they all thought she was.
The best reaction of all of them, though, came from Tyrion who discovered Jamie and Cersei’s bodies in the crypts.
In the best case of acting in the episode, Tyrion completely breaks down in a very moving performance from Peter Dinklage.
I was very scared for Tyrion this episode, especially when he confronted Dany because I thought she might burn him then and there.
Thankfully, she just has him arrested, which leads to Jon (Kit Harrington) visiting him where they discuss the morality of what Dany has done in another great scene.
Conflicted, Jon goes to see her in the big moment of the finale.
As Dany touches the Iron Throne, Jon interrupts her and asks how she can justify her actions and what she plans to do next.
It is clear from Dany’s response that she is too far gone and, with no other choice, Jon stabs her after sharing a passionate kiss.
And so the mad queen falls, in a tragic end to her journey of reclaiming her family’s crown.

Jon kills Dany.jpg
Dany’s death is tragic… too bad they undercut it with jokes not ten minutes later.

However, it is not over yet because Drogon arrives and, in a heartbreaking moment, tries to awaken Dany, before burning the Iron Throne to the ground.
He then grabs Dany’s body and flies off into the unknown.
This first half of the episode is very well done in my opinion.
Is it perfect?
No, there are quite a few writing problems.
For example, Jon tells Tyrion he will not try to justify what Dany did only for him to attempt to justify it not a minute later.
But, overall, this first half is satisfying.
The second half, however, takes a trip to crazy land with all of its bad writing.
Everything goes downhill as soon as this second half starts.
In what has to be the worst scene of the entire episode, Tyrion is brought before the lords and ladies of Westeroes to decide what is to be done with Jon and who should be King now.
And who does Tyrion choose?
Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright).
That’s right, the guy who did literally nothing this season wins the game of thrones and becomes king.
It is not that this scene was not built up because there have been numerous scenes of Tyrion with Bran, as I pointed out in earlier reviews.
However, as I said, Bran has done nothing to earn becoming king.
What is more, it makes absolutely no sense that everyone agrees to crown him.
Half the people there do not even know him, or about his ability to see into the future.
And that is another thing, why did Bran not warn anyone that Dany was going to go crazy and burn down King’s Landing?
It makes him seem more like a villain than someone you would choose to be king.

Bran the broken.jpg
Bran becoming king could have worked if he actually did something instead of just sitting around acting more important than he is.

Sadly, these are not the only plot holes this scene presents because there is so much more.
Why did Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) not kill Jon after learning he murdered Dany?
Why does he allow Tyrion to speak?
Why does everyone listen to Tyrion when he is a prisoner, and only a few people like him?
The list goes on.
Even worse, there are water bottles just sitting around.
They seriously left their beverages out for people to see twice, and nobody noticed?
And then they have the nerve to try and add comedy here.
Not only do these jokes fall flat, but they completely undermine the tragic death of Dany we saw earlier.
Imagine if after the Red Wedding someone made a joke about the reception being bland.
That would have killed all of the emotion that came with the shocking moment.
Sadly, this “comedy” continues throughout the episode, with each joke being worse than the last.
Thankfully, we do get one good scene with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) where she writes down all of Jamie’s good deeds in the book he wanted to fill.
I am not sure she is qualified to do this but it at least gave me some closure surrounding Jamie’s badly written death.
A lot of the other character endings had potential too.
Jon is banished to the Night’s Watch but goes to live with the Wildlings, Arya (Maisie Williams) leaves Westeroes to explore the world, and Sansa (Sophie Turner) becomes Queen in the North.
Even Bran ending up as king had the potential to be good.
All of these endings are in character.
I can honestly see George R. R. Martin having these be where his characters end up at the end of his books, if he ever completes them that is.
The problem with all of these endings, though, is that they are either badly written or too rushed.
As I said, Bran did nothing the entire season, Jon being Aegon Targaryen meant literally nothing, Arya did nothing after the King’s Landing massacre, which makes her being there seem pointless, and Sansa declaring the North’s independence makes me wonder why the rest of the six kingdoms did not just do that?

Jonny boy
Jon living with the Wildlings is a fitting ending for him but what was the point of making him Aegon Targaryen? He could have just been Ned Stark’s bastard and nothing would have changed.

This all goes to show how rushed and badly written the final season is.
In this one episode alone there are dozens of plot holes, some of which I have not even talked about.
Again, the acting, cinematography and music are all fantastic but that does not mean much if there is not good writing to accompany them.
The second half of “The Iron Throne” did not just end the episode disappointingly, but the entire  Game of Thrones series as well.
Honestly, the last two seasons have really dragged down my opinion of the show.
Seasons 1-4 are still master pieces, and seasons 5-6 have some writing issues but are still great overall.
However, seasons 7-8 completely dropped the ball.
The ending could have worked but the writing just kills it.
I hope that if Martin ever finishes his books that the writing will be good enough to bring a satisfying conclusion that we are missing from the show.

Attack on Titan, Season Three, Episode Sixteen, Perfect Game Review. The Final Advance.

4 and a half stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Worst. Baseball match. Ever.
If you have seen the sixteenth episode of Attack on Titan‘s third season, “Perfect Game”, you will understand why I am referencing baseball.
The episode probably gave us what has to be the most horrifying interpretation of the game in, well, ever.
And the characters suffered for it.
This is easily the most desperate we have ever seen them, with sacrifices having to be made.
Erwin in particular has to make a decision that shapes his entire character arc in a brilliant moment from him.
Armin also got more time to shine when he and the other Scouts started to face off against Bertholdt’s Colossal Titan.
Speaking of, thankfully there are some shots of him in “Perfect Game” that are not CGI, and make him actually fit in with the environment.
There are still times when he is completely CGI, and sticks out like a sour thumb, but I am personally glad he looked realistic to the world some of the time rather than none of it.
In any case, the fight between him and the scouts is investing, especially when Eren gets involved, where something happens that I think will shock a lot of people.
The biggest shocks of the episode, though, easily come with Erwin and Levi’s story.
These scenes are full of horrifying moments that actually improved on the manga, which is great because, other than a few scenes, I personally think the last few episodes have been falling under the bar in comparison with the source material.
That said, there are a few nitpicky problems I do have but, as the word suggests, these are minor.
The opening scene reworks the ending from the last episode, which makes it feels out of order somewhat, and a particular scene concerning Mikasa felt a bit watered down in comparison with the manga.
Other than this, “Perfect Game” is a great episode full of character growth, sacrifice, and one hell of a cliffhanger to keep you watching.
Next week’s episode is “Hero” and I am incredibly excited for it because, when I reviewed the manga chapters the episode will cover I game them five stars.
So, I have my fingers crossed it can live up to the fantastic source material.
One interesting thing to note, however, is that there have been rumors that Wit Studio, the ones who make Attack on Titan, will be cancelling the series after this arc.
If this is true, then it means the series will have to be picked up by another studio, which means we will have to wait a while before getting the next season.
While this would be sad, I have to say this is only a rumor.

Spoiler Review:

Who knew that baseball could get so violent?
In all seriousness, the scene where the Beast Titan started throwing crushed rocks at the scouts is somehow made more horrifying here than in the manga for me.
The shot of the rocks crashing into buildings with dust and splashes of blood rising up, along with the agonized screams of dying scouts, is very disturbing.
The manga panels of this scene always felt a little stiff to me so to see it animated with such horrifying ferocity is great.
On top of this, the development that came from Erwin here is fantastic.
Erwin is a selfish person who has manipulated others into giving their lives for humanity, while he alone had personal dreams.
Yet in this episode, he finally sheds this.
He gives up on his dream and finally lives up to the ideals he sprouted, giving his life and the lives of his soldiers so that Levi can have a shot at killing the Beast Titan.
The build up to this moment is well done with Erwin voicing his flaws to Levi, who ultimately convinces him to do the right thing.
The big cliffhanger of the episode sees a rock ripping right through his stomach as he urges his soldiers to fight as they run straight to death’s door.
Along with this, we also get to see how the scouts are dealing with the Colossal Titan.
Unsure of what to do next, Armin passes on leadership to Jean, who initiates a plan of attack to stop Bertholdt reaching the wall.
This leads to Eren attacking Bertholdt but, while appearing to work at first, everything goes wrong when Bertholdt kicks him to the top of the wall, knocking him unconscious and forcing the Scouts to fight the Colossal Titan themselves.
This is where my issue for “Perfect Game” came in.
While Jean, Sasha and Connie attempt to distract Bertholdt, Mikasa launches the Thunder Spears at him from behind, only for him to use his steam to launch them back at her.
In the manga, the explosion clearly hurts her, and it looks like you can see shrapnel marks on her back, detailing how hard this fight is on her and everyone else.
However, in the anime this is watered down.
Mikasa says she took shrapnel but it does not look that bad by comparison, lessening the impact.
Another minor problem I have is Connie’s “eavesdropping” joke, which now does feel a bit out of place.
Not only that but it rearranges some of the parts of the previous episode, making it feel a bit disjointed.
However, as I said in my spoiler free review, these problems are only minor.
The rest of “Perfect Game” is great with its themes of sacrifice, epitomized by Erwin’s final advance.
Well, that is four episodes down and six to go and, I have to say, I cannot wait for the rest of them.
If you are an anime only, then those next six episodes will surely blow your mind.

Pokemon Detective Pikachu Review: Probably Just for Fans.

two-and-a-half-stars
When I first saw the trailer for Pokemon Detective Pikachu, directed by Rob Letterman, I honestly thought it was some kind of elaborate joke.
I had no idea it was based on a video game, and had no clue what they were trying to achieve.
Having now seen the film, I can tell that Detective Pikachu was a love letter film to Pokemon fans.
There are multiple fan service moments for the people who enjoy the game and series.
However, I am not one of these people.
While I did watch Pokemon as a kid, I am not, nor have I ever been, an avid fan.
So, take note that I do not fit into the intended demographic for this film before you read the review.
If you are a fan of Pokemon, then I am sure you will enjoy the film.
I even liked some parts of it, which I will get to later.
However, overall, I found Pokemon Detective Pikachu to be a film with a lot of problems.
The first twenty minutes were straight up boring for me, with many of the jokes failing spectacularly.
I quickly came to dislike many of the characters, including the main character Tim Goodman (Justice Smith), and his love interest, Lucy Stevens (Kathryn Newton) whose introduction had to be the worst scene of the entire movie.
During these twenty minutes, I was practically praying that Ryan Reynolds’ Pikachu would show up to add something to the film, which thankfully he does.

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Seeing Ryan Reynolds voice Pikachu is something I honestly never expected to see.

Reynolds does a good job as Pikachu and his interactions with Tim actually made me start to like him half way through the film.
Sadly, though, his presence is not enough to save the film for me.
Apart from Pikachu and Goodman, I cared for none of the other characters, and a lot of the jokes fell flat for me.
Then there are the twists, which are pretty predictable, for the most part.
Granted, I did like the last twist, but it did raise quite a few plot holes in the story.
This is not the only case of plot holes in the film though, because there are actually quite a few.
There is one action sequence with some Pokemon created by scientists, but there was no reason for them to be created because they did not tie into the villain’s ultimate plan.
Like I said though, there are some good parts.
Although a lot of the jokes did not land for me, there is a great scene where Pikachu and Tim interrogate a Mime Pokemon, which gets a lot of laughs.

Mime.jpg
The scene with the Mime Pokemon is the funniest of the movie, with a lot of great visual humor. 

Pikachu’s chemistry with Tim is pretty good but, again, I only started liking Tim half way through the movie.
Finally, there is the CGI for the Pokemon, which, while not fully realistic at times, feels appropriate for the film.
But, Detective Pikachu’s target audience is ultimately Pokemon fans.
If you are one, then you will most likely love this movie.
For me, however, while there are some good things about Pokemon Detective Pikachu, there are also a lot of bad that stop it from being good.

Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode Five, The Bells Review: As One Mad Queen Falls, Another Rises.

3 stars
Well, this was a controversial episode.
You only need look at the numerous scathing reviews fans have given Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode, “The Bells”, directed by Miguel Sapochnik, to see how they think the story is going.
By far the biggest point of contention with the episode is where the writing took Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) character.
After defeating Cersei’s (Lena Headey)  army and the Golden Company with very little effort, she suddenly goes insane and burns down most of Kings Landing, killing thousands of innocent people
Many fans are saying that this horrendous act is completely out of character for Dany,
however, in my opinion, that is not the case.
I still think the writing is bad here but for a different reason.
It has been hinted at on numerous occasions that Dany would become like her father.
In fact, it was quite obvious to me this was going to be where they took her character because I literally titled my review for the previous episode, “The Beginning of the Mad Queen.”

burning King's Landing
I think it was pretty obvious that Dany was going to go full Mad Queen after last week’s episode. 

So, if I think Dany doing this is in character, why do I think this is bad writing?
Well, that comes down to how unconvincing the scene where Dany decides to do this is.
After the city surrenders, showing they are no threat, Dany glares at the Red Keep, before heading off towards it.
As a result, it makes it appear that she is going to kill Cersei for all she has done… only for her to burn thousands of innocent civilians instead.
Why she decided to target these people instead of her ultimate enemy first is beyond me.
What is worse, I feel they could have easily made this scene work.
Remember when Rhaegal was killed out of nowhere by the Scorpion last episode?
Well, since it made absolutely no sense for Dany to make such quick work of them after losing her other dragon so easily, maybe this could be her reason for burning down Kings Landing.
In this version Rhaegal is helping Dany take King’s Landing when the bells sound.
Dany halts her attack, only for a trigger happy soldier, or maybe someone acting on Cersei’s orders, to shoot Rhaegal down with a hidden Scorpion where all the civilians are.
Enraged and paranoid about where other Scorpions may be, Dany resolves to destroy the city no matter the cost.
This would help her actions make more sense I feel.
But, as I said, I do think her turning mad was setup well.
It is just the scene itself that I feel is poorly written.
So, I do not hate this bit as much as other people.
No, the thing I hate most about this episode is what they did to Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), throwing all of his development out the window, just like he did Bran.

Jamie dies
Jaime’s death in this episode is very underwhelming and feels like a contradiction to his character.

First of all, the fight between him and Euron is absolutely stupid.
There is little to no build up and no satisfaction in this fight, due to Euron (Pilou Asbaek) being such a terrible character.
Then there is Jamie’s loving reunion with Cersei, which is weird considering she ordered Bronn to kill him for some reason.
The two then try to flee King’s Landing, only to be trapped underground and crushed by rocks while holding onto each other.
Now, while this was somewhat satisfying for Cersei, it did not feel that way for Jamie.
What did he even do this season?
He just ran off to help in a fight he was not needed in and returned to Cersei just do die.
What happened to all that buildup with him getting his good deeds book fulfilled?
All in all, it felt like they really dropped the ball with Jaime’s writing this episode.
Even the best scene of the episode, where Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jamie say their final goodbye, does not ring true to Jamie’s character because he says he does not care if innocent people die, which goes against what we know about him.
It is a shame too because, like I said, this scene is great, with both actors giving a great performance, especially Dinklage.
Sadly, Varys (Conleth Hill) also feels badly written in this episode because he is captured and killed pretty easily.
The Varys of previous seasons would have left long before he was arrested.
Then there is Arya (Maisie Williams) who I am pretty sure has infinite plot armor because of how many unsurvivable things she somehow lived through this episode.
Again, I know I am complaining a lot about the writing of the episode, but the cinematography, action, and acting are all superb.
The scene between Tyrion and Jamie is the most touching of the season.
We finally got Cleganebowl in all of its epic glory, with both Sandor (Rory McCann) and Gregor fittingly dying in fire.
Although Dany’s reasoning for burning down King’s Landing is badly written, her actually doing it is horrifying to watch and well filmed.
Then there is Emilia Clarke who gives a great performance as Dany, really selling the madness.

Crazy Dany
Even though the scene where Dany decides to burn King’s Landing down did not work from a writing standpoint, Emilia Clarke still did a magnificent job.

The shot of her face as she decides to go on her mass killing spree is chilling.
She looks set to be the villain of the final episode, with Jon, Tyrion, Arya and Davos about to probably face off against her.
It will be interesting to see if this final episode is enough to earn back the fans’ good will.
But, with all the hate this final season is getting, I doubt it.

Attack on Titan Ending About to be Revealed… WHY!?

One of the things I hate the most about fandoms is the spoilers.
Whenever I find a story that is highly engaging to me, I want to see it the entire way through with no indication of what will happen.
Sadly, this does not always happen.
Too often someone will ignorantly blurt out a spoiler without realizing it.
I will admit I have made that mistake.
Worse is when trolls actively set out to ruin someone’s experience by spoiling the entire story to them.
There have even been cases of those involved in the story accidentally spoiling events and twists.
However, I have never heard of a writer actively going out of their way to spoil their own story.
Until now.
It was recently revealed that an Attack on Titan exhibition coming this year will reveal “the ending of the story”, in audio format.
That’s right, even though Attack on Titan is still somewhere in its final arc, how that arc will end the series is going to be revealed months in advance.
Before I go on a rant about this, I want to say that I respect the writer of Attack on Titan, Hajime Isayama, a great deal.
He has crafted his story incredibly well, with various examples of great story telling, characters, twists and lore.
That said though, if Isayama actually does reveal the ending to the entire series, long before the time comes for that official release, he will have made a monumentally bad decision.
Why would a writer spoil their own ending?
That just removes almost all the tension leading up to that point.
Now some will argue that if people do not want to know what happens then they could just not look up the spoilers, but there is a big problem with this conclusion, this being the fandom.
Attack on Titan is one of the most spoiler fueled fandoms I have ever seen.
When I was only watching the anime I was getting spoiled about future events left and right, which ultimately made me read the rest of the manga.
After the ending to Attack on Titan is revealed there will be people who accidentally spoil it.
Then there are the trolls who will have a field day attempting to ruin people’s fun by spoiling them.
So, by revealing the ending to those who do want to see it, Isayama is also accidentally giving trolls the means to spoil others who do want to see it.
If the ending is revealed, then people getting spoiled, when they do not want to be, will be inevitable.
Many people’s only option to avoid these spoilers will be to disconnect from the Attack on Titan community entirely until after the series finally ends.
I really do not know what Isayama is trying to do here.
Is he trying to build hype or unsure of how his ending will be received so is attempting to gauge the fans’ reaction?
He also released a draft image from the final chapter last year, which was already taking it too far.
I can only hope that when the article says the exhibition will reveal “the ending of the story” it means that it will be just as ambiguous as the draft panel that was shown.
Either way, I will not be looking up these spoilers because I want to see the entire story the whole way through, without knowing how it will end.
Please Isayama, don’t spoil the ending!

 

Attack on Titan, Season Three, Episode Fifteen, Descent Review: Fantastic Animation vs Bad Animation.

4 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Attack on Titan went all out with some of the animation in its latest episode, “Descent.”
There is some absolutely fantastic explosion animation this episode that will leave the viewers’ jaws on the floor.
However, going all out comes with a cost because, for every brilliant shot of animation this episode, there is another that pulled me out of the moment.
Let’s start with the Colossal Titan.
When I first saw him in the new opening, I was very concerned because of how terrible the CGI for him was.
And, while I will say that thankfully the Colossal Titan does not look as disastrous as in that opening, he still sticks out like a sour thumb.
This is especially worrying because the Colossal Titan is going to be an essential part of the coming episodes, which will adapt some of my favourite chapters in the manga.
I am very concerned that the Colossal Titan will look bad in those episodes and draw me out of the climactic scenes.
Speaking of being drawn out of the moment, there is one scene in “Descent” that does exactly this because of how jarring it is.
This is from a scene of the Beast Titan, where the animation has literally been lifted right from season two, episode one.
The two shots are practically identical.
All of this has me thinking that because they have put so much effort into some of the animation they have to lessen the quality of others to fit their budget, which is worrying coming into the next episodes.
It is a shame that there is a lot of questionable animation in these shots because the episode itself is very enjoyable.
There is great action, great suspense, great character development.
Bertholdt is the standout of the episode by far, having really grown since his last appearance.
Armin continues to stand out as well with his brains and Mikasa continues to be as awesome as ever.
Then there is the music of “Descent”, which, in typical Attack on Titan fashion, is stellar and adds so much tension to the already great scenes.
Overall, “Descent” is probably the best episode of this second half so far, even if my main take away is the animation problems.

Spoiler Review:

Much like the fantastic episode “Historia” from season two, “Descent” starts off with a flashback.
Usually, this would be a bad thing because it would break the tension set-up by the previous episode.
However, just like “Historia”, “Descent” more than earns this starting flashback because of the interesting character development it presents.
In this opening flashback, we see what Reiner, Bertholdt and Annie were doing when Eren was sealing the hole in Trost District, all the way back in the first arc.
When talking out loud about their plans, Reiner and Bertholdt are overheard by Marco, forcing them to take action.
Reiner holds Marco down while Annie steals his ODM gear, before the three abandon him to be devoured by a Titan.
This led to Reiner developing his split personality, which we saw in season two, with him wondering why Marco is being eaten.
Now, while this scene was also hinted at in that two, in my opinion it did not take away from the intensity of the scene.
From this scene, it is clear that, even though the three warriors are ruthless killers, they are not completely heartless because they all feel horrified by their actions and deal with it in different ways.
After this, we get a scene with Reiner and Bertholdt talking with the Beast Titan, before the Scouts arrive.
The Titan with the backpack arrives to inform them of the incoming force and calls the Beast Titan “war chief Zeke”, which is the first time his name has been revealed.
Then we see Reiner telling Bertholdt he needs to take action himself without relying on anyone in this battle, and then going on to say they will save Annie and Christa.
This leads to him mentioning Ymir, making me curious as to how they will reveal where she is, because I think that is going to be slightly changed from the manga.
We then cut back from the flashback into the present, with the official introduction of Reiner’s plot Armoured Titan.
In all seriousness though, how Reiner survived getting his head blown off is just as contrived as in the manga, although Reiner is such a great character and does so much later that I am willing to let it slide.
But then there is the censorship again, which is just ridiculous, especially given that an even worst shot of Reiner regrowing his head is shown at the end of the episode in full view.
Anyway, this goes into the scene where Bertholdt is thrown over the wall by Zeke, and this is where the shot of the Beast Titan is repeated from season two.
The reason I have such a problem with this is because in that shot the Beast Titan is throwing at a low angle, and yet he somehow he manages to chuck Bertholdt over the wall.
It may have been a small moment, but is was enough to temporarily draw me out of the moment.
Following this, we have the big confrontation between Bertholdt and Armin, where Bertholdt really shines as a character.
We can see just how much more ruthless he has become since season two, with Mikasa commenting that he seemed like a completely different person.
This comment comes after she attacks Bertholdt in a thrilling scene of combat, with great music, that eventually leads to Bertholdt transforming into the Colossal Titan in an epic explosion with stellar animation.
Scarily though, there is the question of whether Hange and Moblit were caught up in the explosion.
However, this fear of what may have happened to them is quickly undercut by the appearance of the CGI Colossal Titan, which is very distracting.
Hopefully it will get better in the next few episodes.
And, with this, the episode quickly begins to draw to a close.
“Descent” is another great episode of Attack on Titan.
Despite the problems I have with the animation, everything else about it is great from the character development to the action.
If it had not been for that animation I would definitely have given it half a mark higher.

Game of Thrones Season Eight, Episode Four, The Last of the Starks Review: The Beginning of the Mad Queen.

3 and a half stars
After the disappointing episode of “The Long Night”, the final season of Game of Thrones follows it up with a decent episode in “The Last of the Starks”, which is hopefully a sign that the show can present two fantastic final episodes.
I do have my doubts, but hopefully the writers can pull it off.
In any case, “The Last of the Starks”, like the first two episodes of the season, is mostly build-up for an inevitable battle between Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Cersei (Lena Headey).
Before all of this though, we are given the aftermath of the battle with the Night King where we see all of those who were lost given a funeral.
Sam lights Edd’s pyre, Jon lights Lyanna’s, Arya lights Beric’s, Sansa lights Theon’s, and Dany lights Jorah.
The loss of these characters is palpable with all of the cast doing a great job at showing their grief, especially Dany who is the highlight of the episode with the series seeming to begin her transition into the Mad Queen.

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Dany’s journey towards becoming more ruthless is great in “The Last of the Starks” with Emilia Clarke doing a great job.

This transition is featured throughout the episode, from how we see her interact with others at the feast, to her argument with Jon (Kit Harrington), and, finally,  the grief of her losing another dragon, Rhaegal, along with her close friend Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel).
However, one of these deaths is better than the other.
While Missandei’s death at the end of the episode is tragic, Rhaegal’s feels forced and once again reliant on the tropes George R. R. Martin tries to avoid.
He is shot out of the sky by Euron (Pilou Asbaek) in what feels like a complete shock value moment.
Not only this, but the scene has a ton of plot holes.
Where did Euron and his ships come from, how did Dany not see them, why did Euron not aim for Dany first and end the entire war?
Not only this, but a dragon being killed by one of series’ worst characters is hardly flattering.
Coming back to Missandei though, her death is handled well for the most part.
Sure, there are pacing and structural issues with her capture, but her death scene is incredibly strong, with her going out on the memorable line of “Dracarys!”
The performances of Emilia Clarke and Jacob Anderson, who plays Grey Worm, at this moment also help greatly to deliver an emotional gutpunch.
Both do a magnificent job, with it being clear through the final shot of Dany’s face that she is going to go on a rampage next episode.
Missandei’s death is very shocking and feels like a return to the old, unpredictable plot of Game of Thrones.

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Missandei’s death was very surprising to me because I thought Grey Worm would die before her.

Another scene that continues this feeling of a return to form is the conversation between Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Varys (Conleth Hill), which is my favourite scene of the episode.
The two discuss Dany’s recent volatile actions, leading Varys suggesting they overthrow her in favor of Jon.
This felt like a return to the gripping political drama of the first few seasons and, while Tyrion is still dumbed down compared to how he was in those seasons, it really like the old Varys has returned.
It will be interesting to see how Varys attempts to put Jon into power, as information about his true lineage is quickly spreading.

Varys and Tyrion
The conversation between Varys and Tyrion about what to do with Dany was very intriguing. I cannot wait to learn what Varys has planned.

Yes, Jon told Arya (Maisie Williams) and Sansa (Sophie Turner) this episode about his true parentage which, as Dany said, may have not been the right call because, once it gets out, it is going to create a storm.
One minor gripe I did have with the scene where Jon tells Arya and Sansa is that it does not actually show him telling them.
Yeah, I get they did not want to repeat the explanation about his parentage again, but I would have liked to see Arya and Sansa’s reactions.
Speaking of Arya though, it looks like she and the Hound (Rory McCann) are on a suicide mission to kill Cersei and the Mountain.
While I think is likely that the Hound will die, it will be interesting to see what happens to Arya.
She has a very nice conclusion for her relationship with Gendry (Jon Dempsie) this episode, where she refuses his proposal of marriage because it is not who she is, which is in character.
Whatever happens to her though, Jamie will most likely get involved as well, with him leaving to either help or kill Cersei, abandoning Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), who he gets together with in the episode.
I felt this is a nice coupling, and the scene where Jamie (Nickolaj Conster-Waldau) explains to Brienne why he is leaving has a very tragic feel to it.
And, with Brienne, Sam, Gilly, little Sam, Tormund and Ghost all left behind at Winterfell, I think it is very likely all six of these characters are going to survive the series.
The final battle will be in King’s Landing and these characters are far away from it.
I just hope the series can end on a high note in its final two episodes.
Overall, “The Last of the Starks was a good episodes with a few flaws that held it back.
Still, it is better than “The Long Night” so that is something.