The Promised Neverland, Season Two, Episode Three Review: Where Did You-Go?

3-stars-out-of-5
I was very excited for episode three of The Promised Neverland Season Two because it was supposed to be the episode where my favorite character in the manga would be introduced.
Alas, it was not to be.
I had heard rumors that The Promised Neverland would be going anime original before the season started airing but I had no idea it would be to this extent.
Not only was an incredibly important character from the manga missing, who, again, is my favorite character, but also many important scenes hinting at the future of the story were removed as well.
Since the episode aired, it has been pretty much confirmed that the rest of the season will be anime original and, honestly, I am very concerned about this.
If they had stuck to the manga then the story would currently be adapting my favorite arc of the entire story, so of course it is worrying to see this part of the story that I love so much being changed.
This could either go really good or really bad for The Promised Neverland Season Two.
However, I need to make it clear that, despite my concerns, I still enjoyed episode three.
Although, if I had not read the manga I would certainly have enjoyed it a lot more because my negative points about the episode mainly revolve around how the changes in the story could become problematic as the season goes on.
As for the actual episode itself, it is well done, with director Yayoi Takano delivering a good adaptation for what was kept, like the opening goodbye between the Grace Field children and Sonju and Mujika.
This part of the episode revealed a much darker to Sonju because it is revealed that he saved the children so they could survive and have children of their own, which he could then eat in the future since this would be in line with his religious beliefs.
Before departing though, Mujika shares a goodbye where we get our first removal of a vital manga scene, with an important line Mujika says being removed, the first of many such removals.
Then we get a brief action scene of Sonju facing off against the demons from the farm, which is pretty enjoyable, before we see the kids reach the bunker and the whole slew of manga scenes that have been left out becomes apparent.
It was honestly hard for me to focus on the rest of the episode when we got to the big scene where the important character was supposed to appear but didn’t.
This makes me concerned that his introduction being changed may damage his character arc somehow, if he hasn’t been removed from the story all together that is.
God, please don’t let him have been removed from the story.
In any case, now the kids have reached the bunker and seem to have a good base of operations for a while.
Or do they?
The cliffhanger of the episode has Emma and Ray finding a phone, much earlier than they do in the manga, and answering its call, while the other kids find deranged writings on a wall, which is thankfully a sign that the missing character is still around.
In any case, this cliffhanger with the phone does make me interested to see how episode four will diverge from the manga.
Fingers crossed that the anime original story Season Two appears to be going down is just as good, if not better than the original story arc.
At least in the next episode I will be expecting drastic differences this time around.
Overall, episode three is a decent episode, despite its changes from the source material.
I am concerned about the future of the anime, though.
Still, who knows?
Maybe it can surprise us.

Attack on Titan Season Four, Episode Five, Declaration of War Review: The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For.

5 stars
Chapter 100, “Declaration of War.”
Pretty much every Attack on Titan fan who has read the manga can easily recall this chapter.
I can still remember sitting in stunned silence after reading it because of what had just occurred.
So, needless to say, I was extremely excited to see one of my favorite chapters adapted in the anime.
Well, having seen it, I can say that Mappa and director Teruyuki Ōmine definitely pulled it off, providing a nail biting delivery for “Declaration of War.”
The episode starts off with a flashback to Reiner, Bertholdt and Annie’s time in the scouts, as was seen in Episode Three.
This time, we have a scene of Bertholdt wondering why the man who hung himself in the settlement chose to tell them his story before he did so,  believing it was because he wanted to be judged.
At this point, the scene perfectly transitions to Reiner about to be judged by Eren, as they meet for the first time in four years.
Falco, the sweet boy, has absolutely no idea about the absolute disaster he has unintentionally caused, completely unaware as Eren subtly threatens all the people in the building above them by showing his cut hand, threatening to transform if Reiner tries anything.
From here, we see the build up to Willy’s declaration, as he is visited by the mysterious Kiyomi Azumabito from last episode, who seems to know something, given that she leaves before the festival.
Another interesting scene is between Karina and Annie’s father, where Mr Leonhart insists that his daughter is still alive, which is basically just Isayama’s way of saying, yes, Annie’s in the story, even if she’s not important right now.
The final build up scene before the performance sees Zeke, Pieck and Porco being lured away by a mysterious guard who then traps Pieck and Porco in a hole to prevent them from transforming and trying to stop whatever is about to happen.
As a manga reader, it’s been pretty fun to see fan theories about who the mysterious soldier is.
I’ve heard theories about it being Jean, Connie, and, most often, Armin who has had an extreme growth spurt.
In any case, this trapping scene is very well done, building the tension up nicely, and even providing some humor when Pieck’s panzer unit get jealous over Pieck hugging only one of them.
With the threat of enemy Titan Shifters removed, Eren can now confront Reiner in temporary peace and Willy can begin his last speech.
Down in the basement, Reiner asks Eren why he came here and Eren chillingly replies “the same reason you did” and follows this up by telling Reiner multiple times that he is “the same as you.”
This shows just how much Eren has grown over the four year time skip, going from hot headed to calm, collective, and even reflective over his situation.
He is clearly not the same arrogant character who I couldn’t stand all the way back in season one, and Yuki Kaji does a fantastic job voicing this calmer version of Eren.
Another voice actor who deserves praise for their work this episode is Kazuhiko Inoue, who does a fantastic job with delivering Willy’s lines, during his epic speech.
This voice acting, accompanying the gruesome imagery of the performance, makes for a great use of exposition that keeps the viewer engaged while being fed information.
The information Willy conveys is that the Marleyan version of history is a lie (big shock), and that The Great Titan War was actually ended by King Fritz, who conspired with the Tyber family to make a Marleyan, Helos, a hero, and then fled to Paradis Island out of guilt for what his people had done.
Willy revealing this shows how masterfully he can manipulate a crowd because first he reveals the truth, before redirecting the crowd’s anger at a new threat, Eren Jaeger.
Speaking of, Eren knows full well how much of a threat he is, admitting that he might just end up destroying the world, like Willy fears, because of the millions of Colossal Titans in the walls, which he could potentially control.
Falco is horrified that someone he trusted would use him and becomes even more terrified when he realizes the letters Eren had him send were to his “comrades.”
For now though, Eren’s attention is entirely on Reiner as he proceeds to judge him just like the opening of the episode suggested that he would.
However, this judgement is not what we might expect.
Instead of condemning Reiner, like he did in earlier seasons, Eren is shown to have become more understanding of him, as showcased by Eren telling Reiner to forget his promise to make Reiner suffer, admitting that there is good and bad people on both sides of the conflict.
This is followed by the moment that breaks Reiner completely, Eren telling him that he did what he did because he was a brainwashed kid.
Reiner refutes this entirely, falling to his knees and tearfully admitting that he pushed on with the mission to attack Paradis because he wanted to be a hero and he is to blame for Eren’s mother’s death.
Reiner’s voice actor, Yoshimasa Hosaya, did such a great job with Reiner’s tearful repentance that it almost made me cry.
Reiner’s pleas for death are then juxtaposed by Willy saying he doesn’t want to die because “he was born into this world,” and this very line that Eren’s mother spoke years ago finally draws Eren’s attention away from Reiner, as shown by the subtle widening of his eyes.
Maybe Eren is experiencing some hope that he will not have to go through with his plan?
Unfortunately, any hope Eren might have for peace is shattered because Willy follows this up by proclaiming he wants everyone to help him fight the devils of Paradis.
Accepting what he must do and that he really is the same as Reiner, Eren pulls Reiner to his feet, as we get some anime original content of soldiers approaching the basement door, ready to attack Eren.
One might think upon hearing about this scene that it is a pointless attempt at diminishing Eren’s responsibility for what comes next but, thankfully, it comes across more as a way to build tension, rather than try to justify Eren’s horrific act of violence.
And horrific it is, as Eren transforms then and there, killing who knows how many civilians and even Willy Tyber himself, crushing him with massive his fist, before throwing him in the air to be devoured, like a piece of popcorn.
This scene is just fantastic with a great use of sound and music.
That said, some manga readers took issue with the OST in this scene, 2Volt.
Some took such a disliking to this OST usage that they even harassed director Teruyuki Ōmine over it, to the point that he felt depressed.
Critique a scene all you want but if you harass the people behind that scene, you’ve gone way too far.
Personally, I feel that the music worked great and the people who dislike the scene may have had their own preconceived ideas on how the it would go, making them be inevitably disappointed when it didn’t suit their envisioned scene.
Still, even though I thought this final scene was great, there is one issue I have with the episode but it is one I am not ready to deduct points for just yet.
This issue is that there is a cut scene between Willy and Magath that is crucial to understanding both their characters’ motivations.
There is a possibility that this scene could have been moved to episode six, so if we see the scene there then this won’t be an issue, however, if it’s not there, then I think we are missing some crucial development for both these characters.
Like I said though, I am not going to be deducting any points from the episode because there is always the chance of this scene appearing in the future.
Overall, “Declaration of War” is a fantastic adaptation of one of the manga’s best chapters, delivering the point of no return for Eren brilliantly.

Attack on Titan Season Four Episode Four, From One Hand to Another Review: Calm Before the Storm.

4 and a half stars
Even though I liked Episode Three of Attack on Titan’s Final Season, “The Door of Hope”, the one issue I had with it was the cutting of some pretty great scenes from the manga, like Reiner’s struggles in the beginning, Annie’s role in destroying the wall, and Reiner deciding to infiltrate the military.
However, cut content is certainly not a problem I have with Episode Four, “From One Hand to Another”, which adapts the manga chapters it covers amazingly.
Directed by Tetsuaki Matsuda, it even adds in scenes from previous chapters that we thought weren’t going to be adapted, like Pieck’s crawling gag, a scene that was memed to death by the fandom, after its absence in Episode Two.   
This joke came after the opening, which followed the cliffhanger from the previous chapter, where Eren Jaeger himself was revealed to have infuriated Marley, disguised as a traumatized soldier and fittingly using the alias of Kruger. 
It is in this opening scene that Eren begins his manipulation of the good natured Falco, having him deliver letters to his “family.”
Following this sinister moment, the rest of “From One Hand to Another” definitely gives off a calm before the storm vibe, with the build up to Willy Tybur’s speech at the festival. 
Speaking of, we finally got to meet the Tybur’s, the family who holds the War Hammer Titan. 
The head of the family, Willy, is certainly an interesting character because, despite being an Eldian himself, he is the secret leader of Marley, who is widely respected by the world’s other leaders. 
It creates a striking juxtaposition when, at a dinner party, Willy is treated with respect, while Udo, a fellow Eldian, is treated like trash by almost all of the world’s leaders.
Willy’s introduction also sets Magath on the path towards being an interesting character, since it is revealed he is trying to get Marleyans to realize the errors of their ways, in being a warmongering nation, by forcing conscription to show them the true horrors of war, which the Eldians they force to fight for them experience.
Magath and Willy seem to have come to accord to save Marley, as Willy talks of how Marley is in need of a new hero, like the mysterious Helos. 
Another scene also highlights this need because, while speaking to Wily in code, Magath reveals that their “house” has already been infiltrated by “rats.” 
And, poetically, the scene then cuts to said infiltrator, Eren, who thanks Falco for sending his letters and now has a baseball from his “family.” 
Eren even talks about how he needs to go back to his “hometown.”
Oh, the irony. 
However, their conversation is interrupted by an approaching doctor who is revealed to be Eren’s grandfather. 
Dr Jaeger talks with Eren, unaware that he is his grandson, telling him to stop having Falco run errands for him because, if the Marleyans suspect something, Falco and his family could be punished. 
Eren retorts by bringing up the regrets Dr Jaeger must have, already knowing those regrets full well from Grisha’s memories. 
This causes Dr Jaeger to have a complete mental breakdown in a creepy moment that reveals he is not a doctor at this hospital but a patient, having broken down from the pain of losing his children, which he believes to be entirely his fault.   
As the real doctors lead a traumatized Jaeger away, Eren turns to the baseball and tosses it into the air. 
After this strange moment, we get the dinner party scene where, as I mentioned, Udo is looked down upon because of his Eldian blood. 
However, what I didn’t mention earlier is that there is at least one person who looks out for him, a mysterious, older Asian woman, who Gabi says is from the nation of Hizuru. 
Once the party scene has concluded, we then get our final calm before the storm moment, as Gabi and the other warrior candidates enjoy the wonders of the festival. 
This resulted in quite a few hilarious moments, primarily thanks to Gabi’s voice actress Ayane Sakura who, I have to say once again, was the best possible choice for Gabi. 
Her delivery is completely on point, much like Yuki Kaji’s somber Eren voice, which will make it interesting to see how Bryce Papenbrook follows him up in the English Dub.
Back to the festival scene, we get another funny moment with Reiner.
The man has been abused physically and emotionally and now the time has come for him to be abused financially, as his wallet is all used to pay for the kids’ food. 
This does make Reiner smile towards the end though so his financial pain is worth it. 
What also makes it worth it is Pieck and Porco being present in this scene, as they were not there to enjoy the food in the manga. 
Their scenes with the kids help make the two more relatable, especially Porco who, in the manga, is just a massive jerk. 
Seeing him encourage the kids in Episode Two, and now enjoy the festival in Episode Four, really makes me like him more than in the manga, by this point. 
It’s not all happiness though because Gabi just had to jinx it by hopefully stating that it felt like things were going to change, before the credits rolled.
Well, yes, Gabi, things are going to change, just not for the better as you had hoped. 
No, the end credits scene crushes these hopes because Falco is manipulated into bringing Reiner down into a basement for another confrontation with Eren, four years after their last meeting. 
With that, the episode left us off on a two week break until the epic episode that will be “Declaration of War.”
Still, I’m sure that the wait will be worth it and I am glad the animators got a small break because I’ve heard making the final season has been absolute hell for them.  
Fingers crossed that they can perfectly adapt “Declaration of War”, one of the best chapters of the manga and, potentially, one of the best episodes of the anime, if done right. 
Episode Five cannot come sooner. 

Attack on Titan Season Four, Episode Three, The Door of Hope Review: A Doorway to Misery.

4 stars
Being Reiner sucks.
I’m sure that’s a thought that passed through many viewers’ minds upon watching the third episode of Attack on Titan‘s final season, “The Door of Hope.”
Directed by Kōki Aoshima and Hiromi Nishiyama, the episode details the many, many, many times that life has kicked Reiner to the ground and then spat on him for good measure.
If you hated Reiner in prior seasons for his actions, then you may find it rather difficult to hate him after what we see him go through, as “The Door of Hope” is primarily a flashback episode to Reiner’ time as a Warrior on Paradis.
Before the episode gets to that point though, it starts off with Reiner’s humble beginnings, as his mother revealed to him as a child that his father was a Marleyan and the only way they could all be together was if they became honorary Marleyans.
This motivates Reiner to become a hero to the world by slaughtering the “island devils” so that both his parents will be proud of him.
However, this is easier said than done because Reiner is by far the weakest out of all the Warrior candidates, as pointed out by Porco.
This causes Reiner to go full brainwashed indoctrination mode, accusing Porco of being a Restorationist sympathiser, which results in him getting punched to the ground, not the last time this will happen in the episode.
Unfortunately, it is also here that I have to state one of my criticisms of “The Door of Hope”, which is the soundtrack used for this scene.
The music itself is great but it doesn’t suit the scene at all, being more fitting for an action scene than a dialogue driven one and this drew me out of the moment.
Still, the scene makes up for it with its showcases of Annie and Bertholdt, and the symbolism.
Bertholdt helps Reiner to his feet, showing his good nature that would later be corrupted by what he does on their mission in Paradis as the fearsome Colossal Titan.
This is contrasted by Annie, who seems well suited for the Female Titan already, crushing a bug under her feet, just like she would go on to crush the numerous Scouts who got in her way when she tried to capture Eren both times.
With this characterization done, the scene then transitions into some fantastic symbolism when, while Reiner looks up at the Wall separating the Liberio Eldians from the Marleyans, on Paradis, presumably at the same time,  Eren looks up at the walls separating him from freedom.
Both are trapped by walls and both are now given the opportunity to move forward past them. Reiner now has the motivation to become a Warrior so he can achieve his goal of becoming an Honorary Marleyan, and Eren is being approached by Armin with the book that will create his motivation to strive for freedom, no matter how far he will have to go to achieve it.
Following this great piece of symbolism, showing how similar Eren and Reiner are, we then get the first of many scenes that are improvements from the manga.
The first of these is the recap of six of Marley’s Titans, as we see them destroy an enemy nation’s military with a display of each of their powers and a description of their users.
The way this scene is edited with the files of each Warrior, followed by their power being shown, and this all ending with the portrayal of the Colossal Titan’s nuke attack as a “god of destruction” is way more intense than it was in the manga.
Another step up comes when Marcel is eaten by Ymir, which is framed like a scene from a horror film.
This moment came after Marcel revealed to Reiner that the only reason he became a Warrior was because he spoke up for him while criticizing Porco to the military, which he did to save his brother from shortening his lifespan by inheriting a Titan.
Marcel revealing this before he dies saving Reiner is just another in a long list of Reiner being kicked while he’s down, both figuratively and literally.
Figuratively, when he first meets his father only for him to call him and his mother a devil and run away from him, and literally, when Annie almost kicks Reiner to death after they lose Marcel.
The latter scene is particularly brutal, with some fantastic work from Annie’s voice actress, Yū Shimamura, in a scene that tells us so much about Annie’s mental state, being the least brainwashed of the trio, recognizing that both Marleyans and Eldians are liars, and only wanting to get back to her father.
However, it is following this great scene that again tops the manga, that we get a scene where the manga is clearly better, this time because of cuts.
The moment where Reiner, Annie and Bertholdt destroy the walls is almost completely cut, with old footage from season one primarily being used.
Annie’s involvement in destroying the wall, Bertholdt looking up at it upon arriving, and Reiner’s desperate fight to protect them in the chaos, is all cut for the sake of time.
Yet, while it is disappointing to see that these scenes have been left out, they are not essential to understanding the story so it is not a massive loss.
Thankfully, other, more important scenes are not cut, like the one with the villager who kills himself in the settlement after telling the Warriors his backstory.
This moment with the villager is important because it is his backstory that Bertholdt uses as their cover when he and Reiner are first introduced in season one, creating another rewarding find for viewers upon rewatches.
Another cool moment comes with Kenny making a brief cameo, as Annie tracks him to try and find the Founding Titan, only to realize this was a big mistake because of how dangerous Kenny is.
With some quick thinking and some good old kicking, Annie manages to evade the Ripper and report back to Reiner and Bertholdt, causing Reiner to decide they need to breach Wall Rose, leading to the attack in Trost.
Before cutting back to the traumatic present, we get one more symbolic scene between Eren and Reiner, as Reiner, after realizing he sees himself in Erne, encourages him to keep moving forward, a piece of advice he will sincerely regret giving later on.
Then we get another improvement on the manga, in the most gruesome of ways, with Reiner’s suicide attempt in the present.
Coming into “The Door of Hope”, I was concerned that this scene would be censored based off the trailer.
Nope!
They showed the whole thing in disturbing detail and even add things, like Reiner’s gasping after he thankfully decides not to go through with it because of a miraculous unintended interruption from Falco.
And Falco’s reward for unintentionally saving Reiner’s life?
Well, running into the most dangerous person in the world of course!
The reveal of Eren in the final moments of this episode is fantastic, with some stellar voice acting from Yuki Kaiji and great added symbolism with the tree behind him.
The build up to this scene was also great, with the previous episode hyping up his appearance in a subtle way that some anime only viewers picked up on and others didn’t.
It is in his conversation with Falco that Eren lays out the very themes of the episode, as he speaks of those who push themselves into hell for hope or just for another hell, and that the only ones who know what lies beyond are those who keep moving forward.
Well, Reiner has been trying to push the door open on hope for a while now and got nothing but misery, yet Eren seems determined to find hope, even if he has to go through hell and drag everyone with him to get there.
Overall, “The Door of Hope” is a great Attack on Titan episode that does a fantastic job of showing the suffering of Reiner and what comes of it.
It looks like we have only one more episode before we get to the adaptation of the amazing Chapter 100 and I, honestly, cannot wait.
Hope you all have a merry Christmas.

Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Two, Midnight Train Review: Marley Arc Gets Uprising Arc Restyle.

3 and a half stars
Coming into the final season of Attack on Titan, I wondered if Mappa would cut or rearrange certain scenes from the Manga, like Wit did with the Uprising Arc, in order to make the story flow better.
Well, this question has been confirmed with the season’s second episode, “Midnight Train”, which adapts Chapters 93 and some of 94 and 95, skipping over Reiner’s flashback, leaving that for next week.
Whether this rearranging of scenes will be problematic or not remains to be seen with future episodes but, so far, it appears to be working well if “Midnight Train” is any indication.
Directed by Daisuke Tokudo, the episode starts off by adapting Chapter 93, although having various cuts throughout.
Beginning with the meeting between the Marleyan generals, the first scene highlights once again how Marley is falling behind other countries technologically because of their reliance on Titans in warfare.
This leads to Zeke suggesting they attempt to retake the Founding Titan to buy Marley time to catch up, saying that he will do so because he should be the one to bring an end to the plans of Grisha Jeager, as his former son.
While also revealing that Zeke has one year left in his term, this scene also unfortunately highlighted my main criticism with the episode, it’s animation.
While certainly not bad, it did have a few questionable moments, like with Zeke in this scene where his face looks oddly emotionless, with only his mouth being animated to move.
This odd animation continued in the following scene when Zeke and Colt are walking up some stairs and when Udo starts talking about the threats Eldians face.
Apparently, these two moments were made using rotoscoping, which is an animation technique.
It is used during other scenes in the episode and those all look great.
However, these two scenes with Colt and Zeke, and Udo look a little janky compared to the rest of “Midnight Train’s” animation and they pulled me out of the story for a brief moment.
Still, these are only small instances and the technique usually looks good.
Besides, the Colt and Zeke, and Udo scenes are both well done in their own right, providing great humor with Zeke’s ass wiping technique gag, and also tragically revealing the full extent of Reiner’s PTSD when he imagines Gabi, Falco, Udo and Zofia as Bertholdt, Annie, Marvel and Porco from his training days.
Speaking of Porco (Toshiki Masuda), we finally got to meet him and Pieck (Manami Numakura) this episode.
Both of their voice actors do great jobs as the characters, with Pieck being the Cart Titan and one of my favourite new characters introduced during the Marley Arc, and Porco being Marcel’s brother and the new Jaw Titan, meaning he ate Freckled Ymir to get her power.
That’s right, Freckled Ymir still dies off screen.
It’s disappointing that we still don’t have a death scene for her but it’s not like I expected anything better for her character at this point anyway.
Following these scenes, we get the titular train the episode title is referencing as we see the Eldian Warriors on one, returning to their home internment zone of Liberio, resulting in the humorous scene of Colt lifting up Gabi so everyone, including Gabi herself, can cheer for her.
Yet, there also comes a serious scene here, as Falco criticizes Reiner for apparently allowing his cousin to inherit his Armoured Titan, thus shortening her life span.
Reiner uses this moment to test Falco, resulting in two interesting reveals.
One, being that Falco’s last name is actually Grice, the same name of the man who was with Grisha in the Eldia Restorationists.
And two, that Reiner wants Falco to surpass Gabi and inherit his Armoured Titan so he can protect her from the dark future they face.
With this, the adaption of Chapter 93 comes to an end and we get a merged adaptation of parts from Chapters 94 and 95.
Starting with the Warriors reaching Liberio, we get some interesting new scenes of Porco and Pieck interacting with Gabi and Falco, acting as older siblings looking out for them.
I really liked this addition because it helps make their characters more sympathetic, also helped by all of the shots of all the Warriors reuniting with their families.
We have Zeke greeting his grandparents, Gabi hugging her parents, Reiner awkwardly reuniting with his mother, and an anime original scene of Pieck’s father coughing as he welcomes her, which introduces his illness a lot earlier than the manga does, which is a pretty cool addition.
Along with this heat warming scene, however, we also get a reminder of how war is constantly on the horizon, as the Marleyan, Koslow, scares a bunch of traumatized Eldian soldiers suffering from PTSD.
This also allows us to see Falco’s good side because he is kind enough to help one of these soldiers, whose armband has been placed on the wrong arm.
The next scene proves as a great contrast to the horrors of war because, while the traumatized soldiers screamed and fall when Koslow yells “Boom!” at them, Gabi yells “Boom!” with glee to her family, showing the extent of her indoctrination in Marleyan propaganda.
This indoctrination is shown further by Reiner having to act like the Eldians on Paradis Island are devils, comedically turning something as innocent as Sasha eating a potato into something monstrous.
On an unfortunate note, many anime only viewers seem to have misinterpreted this scene as Reiner trying to fool himself into believing this, when he is actually trying to subtly tell his family that those on Paradis are no different from them.
This may have been lost in translation because of the removal of Reiner smiling under his hand, so I wish they had kept that.
One great addition is the a brief moment that comes after this scene, as one of the traumatized soldiers is shown killing themselves, again showing the harm the Marleyans are doing by forcing the Eldians to fight their battles for them.
I love how Mappa is adding all of these scenes to show the horrors of war.
From here, the episode goes into adapting parts of Chapter 95, with the meeting between Zeke and the other Warriors, as Zeke explains their plan to take the Founding Titan with help from the Tyber family, the holders of the Warhammer Titan.
Here, we get another indication that Reiner is now fully aware of the Marleyan propaganda and indoctrination, as he realizes Zeke is hinting that the room is bugged and saves Porco, who is voicing his dissent, from endangering himself by interupting him.
With this moment, the episode ends as Reiner wonders if he really has to go back to Paradis, setting up the next episode to adapt all of his flashbacks, which is kind of worrying.
I have heard leaks about the pacing of this next episode and it makes me scared the writers could cut a lot of pivotal moments for Reiner’s character.
Fingers crossed they can do these chapters justice with just a single episode.
Back to the episode itself, “Midnight Train” is a solid adaptation that is brought down slightly by its occasionally janky animation and cut content.
Still a good episode though and I hope everything turns out alight for the next one.

Eden of the East Review: A Fantastic Beginning That Falls Off Slightly at the End.

4 stars
The last anime we watched at my university anime club this year, Kenji Kamiyama’s Eden of the East was an anime that instantly got my vote to watch for its hilarious and intriguing first episode.
This is probably the first thing that will strike you about Eden of the East: its mystery.
The anime follows Akira Takizawa (Ryōhei Kimura), who awakens with amnesia outside the White House, naked and holding a gun.
The first person he encounters is Saki Morimi (Saori Hayami), a woman on her graduation trip who is surprisingly helpful to the naked man with a gun.
This is the basic premise of the first episode and the situation is as hilarious as it sounds.

The hilarity of Takizawa and Saki’s first meeting had the whole anime club roaring with laughter.

What was also a nice surprise of this first episode is its quality in the voice acting, especially from the English-speaking characters.
Whenever characters speak English in anime, they are usually voiced by people who don’t usually speak the language so it becomes rather hard to take it seriously.
Eden of the East does the opposite of this, having plenty of English speaking voice actors accompanying the Japanese cast and I appreciate the show for putting in the effort.
Another thing I appreciate is the great bond between Takizawa and Saki, which is kind of surprising since how they meet, with Takizawa being naked and with a gun, would result in any clear headed person running for their lives, but not Saki.  
What most likely helps lessen the notion of improbability that their growing relationship has on the viewer is the two’s fantastic chemistry, with their bond being a highlight just two episodes in.

Takizawa and Saki’s bond is fantastically done despite its incredibly unlikely origins.

So, with these two great characters and an intriguing plot that could be particularly hilarious at times, I was all for seeing where the mysteries of this show would go.
And, honestly, I was slightly disappointed.
That is not to say the ending of the show is bad, it’s still pretty good.
But I much preferred the first few episodes, which set up the mystery, rather than the last couple of episodes that ended the show in a pretty rushed fashion.
For example, Takizawa does something in the final episode that Saki does mention in narration during the first episode, however, other than this initial narration, I don’t think there was any other setup for this happening.

Despite having some scenes that felt way too implausible and an ending decision that felt kind of abrupt, I still really enjoyed Eden of the East.

Despite my problems with the ending of the show though, I know this is not the end of the story because there are apparently two movies I need to see to know how this whole mystery of the game that Takizawa has become involved in wraps up.
According to the people I’ve talked to, these movies weren’t particularly well received but I’ll have to judge that for myself when I get around to it.
In any case, I found Eden of the East to be a solid show, all in all.
The chemistry between Takizawa and Saki is great, the humor is top notch, and the mystery does keep you intrigued throughout, even if I felt the story did not work in places, especially with the end to the show.
Still, I have the movies to check out so I hope they can wrap up the mysteries that were laid out in the first few episodes well.   

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tokyo Ghoul Season One Review: A Rush to a Killer Finale.

4 stars
Before watching Tokyo Ghoul, many people suggested I should read the manga first because the anime was a bad adaptation.
In reading Sui ishida’s manga, I found a fantastic story and a solid yet flawed experience in its sequel Re. 
Well, after watching the first season of the anime adaptation, produced by Studio Pierrot and directed by Shuhei Morita, I can see what people were talking about.
This is not to say that season one is a bad adaptation but it falls quite far from the successes of the manga.
The reason for this mostly comes down to how rushed the story is and the switching around of arcs.
Take the first episode, for example.
I was pretty surprised by how much was adapted in so little time.
Honestly, I expected the first episode to encompass the first chapter, with it ending when Kaneki wakes up, revealing his ghoul eye and noting that his life is a tragedy.
But the episode went ahead of this moment and adapted much more for the first episode, resulting in scenes going by much too fast to be as impactful as they were in the manga.

tragedy 1
I feel like the first chapter should have been extended to make a single episode that builds to the final reveal of Kaneki being turned into a ghoul.

This rushed quality persisted right up until the end, and was not helped by the removal of entire scenes.
Season one should have been around twenty episodes instead of twelve.
The second big issue is the switching around of arcs with the Gourmet Arc happening before the Doves Arc, which came first in the manga.
The Doves Arc being moved behind the Gourmet Arc made certain things not make a lot of sense in the anime.
However, despite these problems, I still found the first season of Tokyo Ghoul to be a good adaptation.
Even though much of the story is rushed and some story arcs happen sooner than they are supposed to, certain scenes are adapted fairly well and the characters are all wonderfully brought to screen.
Kaneki (Natsuki Hanae), Touka (Sora Amamiya), Rize (Kana Hanazawa), Amon (Katsuyuki Konishi), Tsukiyama (Mamoru Miyano) Jason (Rintaro Nishi), and many characters are all done justice with their portrayals and voice acting.
The best example of this is Juuzou because both his Japanese voice actor Rie Kugimiya and his English voice actor Maxey Whitehead all do an incredible job as the character.
I remember hearing Juuzou speak for the first time in both sub and dub and thinking both were perfect.

crazy little s we know and love
Juuzou is perfectly adapted into the anime, with both Japanese and English voice actors doing an amazing job.

Along with the great voice work, another quality of the anime that I enjoyed were some of its original scenes.
The anime hyped up Jason a lot sooner and that made the build up to his torture of Kaneki in the finale a lot better.
Speaking of that finale, I was considering this season an overall average adaptation, what with the rushed nature and switched around arcs of the anime but then, “Ghoul” happened.
“Ghoul” is a fantastic season finale that perfectly adapted Jason’s torture of Kaneki and their epic fight.
The only problem I had with the episode was its censoring of numerous violent scenes but it makes up for it in the symbolism, voice acting, and amazing final scene.
Watching Kaneki take on Jason to the spectacular theme of Unravel made the entire season feel worth it and was the best way to end it.

kaneki unravels
The Kaneki vs Jason fight is the highlight of the season.

As for Unravel, it is already one of my favourite anime openings of all time.
Everything from the music, visuals and symbolism is just incredible.
Unfortunately, the few incredible aspects of this anime, like Unravel and the final episode, would not be continued in the follow up season of √A, which has a lot more problems, but we’ll get to that later.
All in all, the first season of Tokyo Ghoul is a solid adaptation.
Sure, it has its problems, like the rushed story, switched arcs, and missing scenes, but the adaptation of certain scenes, voice acting, final episode, and Unravel make up for it.

My Hero Academia Season 4 Episode 22, School Festival Start Review: A Villain’s Love.

4 and a half stars
When Gentle and La Brava were first introduced in My Hero Academia, some anime fans worried that they would be impossible to take seriously because of their goofy nature, especially after the intensity Overhaul brought as the villain, last arc.
However, the 22nd episode of My Hero Academia‘s fourth season, “School Festival”, hopefully showed those who were concerned just how fantastic the two are, not just as villains but as characters.
The Gentle and La Brava vs Deku fight did go by a lot quicker than I thought it would in the anime, lasting only two episodes, however this does not change how fantastic the conclusion of their fight is.
By far the best aspect of it is definitely the backstory and character growth for the two wannabe villains, resulting in a tragic love story ending.
Let’s start with La Brava.
Her backstory shows how the current hero society is unequipped to deal with unusual Quirks.
In La Brava’s case, her Quirk is highly reliant on the love she feels for another person and, because of this, her love was thought to be creepy and she was considered a stalker by the boy she loved.
This caused her to close herself off, clinging only to the internet, and contemplating suicide.
It was then, in her darkest moment, that her “light” appeared.
She stumbled across one of Gentle Criminal’s videos and fell in love with him, vowing to help him carve his name into history.
And Gentle accepted her wholeheartedly, to the point that he even drew dark circles under his eyes so La Brava wouldn’t feel self-conscious about hers.
This flashback expertly brings across many different tones, from dark, like when La Brava considers suicide, to sweet, when Gentle accepts her, and humorous, when the two are shown comedically sneaking away from a police officer.
Their love story then blooms into the reveal of La Brava’s Quirk, Love.
This ability allows her to temporarily power up those she loves by declaring her feelings for them.
The reveal of this, with Present Mic narrating it in a calm voice, as opposed to his over the top loudness, highlights its impact.
And what an impact it has, because it temporarily allows Gentle to overpower Deku.
Only temporarily though, as Deku is back on his feet in seconds, ready to take on a now overpowered Gentle.
From here, the episode transitions into Gentle’s backstory, which is as equally tragic as La Brava’s.
Once hoping to become a hero, Gentle failed every entrance exam he tried at.
One day, he saw someone about to fall to their death and used his Quirk to try and save them, only for this to result in him impeding a hero attempting to save them, resulting in the person being seriously injured.
Treated like trash and kicked out by his own family because of this, Gentle was alone for years, until he came across one of his old school friends who had become a successful Pro-Hero.
Gentle was happy for him, when his old friend revealed he didn’t remember him at all.
Wanting to be remembered, Gentle decided to become a villain instead of a hero.
It is apparent that Gentle has a lot in common with Deku, as both wanted to become heroes and are now fighting for someone’s bright future, Deku for Eri, and Gentle for La Brava.
Deku himself points this out before defeating Gentle Criminal as a sobbing La Brava ineffectively hits him.
Realizing that UA teachers are closing in, and wanting to protect La Brava, Gentle uses the last of his strength to push Deku away to make it look like the fight never happened to make La Brava’s role seem less serious.
Embracing her as the teachers approach, Gentle declares to them he wants to turn himself in, bringing a tragic end to the episode.
I say tragic because, if this episode tells us anything, it is that Gentle and La Brava are not villains.
They are just people who were dealt a bad hand by the society they live in and are trying to change their fates.
Granted, they’re not doing it in a good way but, even so, that does not make them villainous.
They are truly tragic characters and we will learn more about their fate next episode.
The build up to this end was great as well, with not only a fantastic backstory for Gentle and La Brava, but great action sequences as well.
It was not quite as spectacular as it was in the manga but, admittedly, the anime does have a budget to maintain, and it looks like they are actually going to be adapting part of the Pro-Hero Arc this season, which will need great animation, so that’s a reasonable excuse.
As for the beginning of the episode, it just shows the various students and teachers preparing for the festival, which we will also see next episode, along with a scene that I have been anticipating for a while.
“School Festival Start” is another great episode of My Hero Academia, which proves that, while Gentle and La Brava are a little hard to take seriously initially, they are some of the best villains of the series.