The Promised Neverland Season One Review: I am Hooked.

4 and a half stars
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding The Promised Neverland, both during and since its release.
I heard so much hype surrounding it that I started watching the anime half way through the season and I was not disappointed.
The series instantly hooked me with its gripping concept, characters and direction, resulting in an incredibly intense first season.
Based off the manga of the same name by Kaiu Shirai, and directed by Mamoru Kanbe, The Promised Neverland is set on an orphanage where 38 children live with their “mom” Isabella (Yuko Kaida), until they are eventually adopted.
Our three main characters are the energetic Emma (Sumire Morohoshi), the intuitive Norman (Maaya Uchida), and the sly Ray (Mariya Uchida), who are the smartest of all the children.
However, their happy life is completely shattered when they learn a dark truth about the orphanage and their so called mom.
The three then begin to plan an escape with some of their siblings, all while evading the ever watchful eye of Isabella, who will do anything to stop them getting away.

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Watching Emma, Norman and Ray desperately attempt to outsmart Isabella makes for a very intense viewing.

All twelve episodes are great and full of many intense moments.
Even something as simple as tag is made scary in this series.
What amplifies the tension is how much you grow to care for these children.
Emma, Norman and Ray are all very relatable and well performed by their voice actors.
As for the other children, their adorableness makes you feel instant horror at the thought of them staying at the orphanage with the manipulative Isabella.
Speaking of which, she is a very intimidating character, being able to switch between the personalities of a loving mother to a cruel warden in an instant.
As for the secondary antagonist Sister Krone (Nao Fujita), her nightmare inducing facial expressions will keep you up at night.

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Good luck getting this terrifying image of Sister Krone’s demented face out of your head when you sleep. Sweet dreams!

But what is most interesting about these two antagonists is also how relatable they become.
They are certainly twisted individuals, but are made much more sympathetic by the conclusions of their stories.
Their sympathetic sides do not make you forget the plight of these kids though, as you will be routing for them to escape every cruel step of the way.
Watching the effect the trauma of their experiences has on them is touching and makes you relate to them further.
This is also helped by the expert direction, with well thought out shots that both amplify the horror and make you care for the characters by placing you right in the middle of their plight.

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The cinematography of The Promised Neverland often places you right in the kids’ perspective, making the horror much more personal.

Combine all this with a great amount of twists and turns, it makes for a stellar season with only a few problems.
These problems are minor and, for the most part, do not hinder the experience.
For example, there was a scene in the first episode with a bit of bad editing, but the rest of the direction was so good that it more than made up for it.
Then there are the episode titles, which, while having no impact the story, are not memorable because they are just a representation of the date.
The final issue has to do with the intelligence of some of these kids, which does seem a bit outlandish at times, but I was able to push my suspension of disbelief above this.
The Promised Neverland is a fantastic anime that looks set to be one of the greats.
Season two has already been greenlit and I will be excitedly watching when it comes out in 2020.

 

Psycho-Pass Season One Review: Criminal Commentary at its Best.

4 and a half stars
Crime Dramas are some of the most loved and successful shows on television so it was natural for anime to take a stab at it.
But with Psycho-Pass, the genre is taken a step further with Science Fiction, Cyberpunk elements incorporated to make for a great piece of commentary on criminality and justice.
Directed by Nayoshi Shiotani and Katsuyuki Motohiro, The series is set in a future where Japan is ruled by the Sibyl System, which scans people’s mental states to see if they could potentially become a criminal.
If a person registers as a latent criminal through the System’s scanners, they will either be arrested or killed, depending on the situation.
Those who are not killed are either confined or given the chance to join the MWPSB as Enforcers to work under the detectives and hunt down their fellow latent criminals with high Psycho-Pass readings.
One detective, Akane Tsunemori (Kana Hanazawa), is new on the job and thrust into a world of extreme violence where the system pulls the trigger.

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Akane taking on a job as a detective forces her to change, from a naive newbie, to a hardened detective in some great character development.

For this review, I will be solely focusing on season one rather than the entire series.
This is because I have heard season two is disappointing in comparison with the first, and since I love season one so much, I do not want it to reflect too negatively on my review of it.
Season one of Psycho-Pass is nothing short of a powerhouse season, with an amazing story, characters and commentary.
The story is absolutely enthralling with its various violent and disturbing cases that push the main characters to their very limits.
However, this also makes Psycho-Pass not for the faint of heart because of the messed up things in this series.
For example, episodes six to eight focus on a teenage serial killer at a girl’s school and this provides some of the most disturbing things I have seen on screen in a long time.

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The serial killer episodes from six to eight are the scariest in Psycho-Pass for me, with one of the darkest female characters I have ever seen.

With these constant moments of human depravity, it is no wonder the characters struggle so much, especially Akane, who changes from a naive girl to one of the strongest characters in the series, over the 22 episode season.
We can also see how the cases have affected her fellow detectives and enforcers, with Shinya Kogami (Tomokazu Seki) being a particular focus on how these cases changes a person.
The series even shows how the criminals are affected by the laws, with destroying the system being the main villain of season one Shogo Mikishima’s (Takahiro Sakurai) goal.
Mikishima is a great villain, with a scene between him and Akane in episode 11, “Saint’s Supper,” making him one of the most interesting characters in the series.

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Not only is Mikishima a fantastic villain, but his conflict with Kogami is set up and executed perfectly.

Both those on the side of the law and those against it come together in Psycho-Pass to create some truly great commentary on criminality and the justice system.
We see the extreme flaws of the Sibyl System and what it pushes people to commit, and yet, it is the only thing keeping order in Japan.
This commentary makes Psycho-Pass a very thoughtful series.
The season is so good that I only have one problem with it, and that is episode 12, “Crossroad of the Devil.”
This episode focuses on the backstory of a side character Yayoi Kunizuka (Shizuka Ito), who I never found to be all that interesting.
On top of this, her backstory does not serve much of a point in the series.
I felt it would have been better giving a backstory episode to Mikishima, or, better yet, Shuesi Kagari (Akira Ishida), who could have used one, considering where the writers take his character.
Still, even though I did have problems with “Crossroad of the Devil”, it is just a single episode so it does not completely damage my opinion of the anime.
Psycho-Pass is a great anime with some excellent commentary on criminality and the justice system.
It just might be too extreme for some people.
Enjoy it… if you have the stomach to.

Attack on Titan: Season Three, Part Two. Trailer Thoughts.

When the second part of Attack on Titan season three was delayed for six months, I was not happy about it.
I found the lack of communication surrounding this information to be quite unprofessional.
Still, this does not change the fact that I am incredibly excited for the second half, and the recently released trailer has only served to increase my excitement.
I have read the manga since the first part of season three ended so I know where a lot of the shots in the trailer are from and what they mean.
I will not spoil these things but I will say that all of the shots look like they are from the first couple of episodes, just like the trailer for the Uprising Arc.
This makes me even more excited for this arc because of the excellent ways the panels of the manga have been adapted to the anime, which can be seen just by looking at this trailer.
Shots like Eren using his O.D.M Gear to rise above Shiganshina and bite his hand are amazing expansions of manga events, and look absolutely beautiful animation-wise.
We even get a few shots that I do not think were in the manga, like the one where Levi draws his swords while standing on his advancing horse.
This makes me interested in what other additions and changes will be made for the anime.
However, I know that not all of these changes will be for the better, based on the trailer.
This is clear from the shot where Levi stabs Reiner in the neck.
In the manga, the depiction of this scene is brutal and bloody, but in the trailer a sword blocks our view of this violence.
Reading the manga version of the Uprising Arc, it is easy to see how the series has been censored in the anime version and, unfortunately, this censorship looks set to continue in the Shiganshina Arc.
Granted, censorship will not completely destroy the impact of these scenes but it will certainly lessen them.
Although, if there is one thing that has not lessened in this trailer, it is, without a doubt, Attack on Titan’s excellent soundtrack.
Accompanying the trailer is a new variation of the song “Attack on Titan”, which was prevalent in season one and one of my favourite OSTs of the series.
I am very excited to hear its return and look forward to what new songs we will hear in this part of the season.
Overall, this trailer only added to my excitement levels for this arc.
In my opinion, The Shiganshina Arc is the greatest arc of Attack on Titan so far and I cannot wait to see how it is adapted.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Review

4 and a half stars
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 
is one of those anime that I have heard tonnes of praise for.
I have seen many people name it their favourite anime so I had to check it out to see if it lived up to the hype that was being presented.
For those of you who do not know, Brotherhood is actually a remake of the earlier Fullmetal Alchemist anime.
Both are based off the manga written by Hiromi Arakawa (also known by her pen name Hiromu Arakawa), but the first Fullmetal Alchemist came out while the manga was still in its early stages so had to take various liberties with the story.
Brotherhood was made years later and aimed to adapt the source material more faithfully.
Based on this and the fact that, as I said, many people consider this there favourite anime, I decided to watch Brotherhood rather than the first adaptation.
Brotherhood is set in a world where alchemy, a form of magic that relies on the law of equivalent exchange, is an established fact.
The story follows the adventures of Edward and Alphonse Elric, two brothers trying to get their bodies back, which they lost (Al fully, Ed partially) after attempting the forbidden act of human transmutation.

Edward and Alphonse
Ed and Al trying to get their bodies back was one of the main driving forces of the series, and one of the reasons it worked so well was because of their great bond.

In regards to the quality of the show, I will say it is a bit of a slow burn… but when it gets going it grabs on tight and never lets you go until the very end.
I was quite surprised how engaged I became with this anime considering how I thought the first few episodes were nothing special.
This is not to say these episodes were bad but they were not really drawing me in to the point that I felt I had to watch the next episode.
The first episode especially left much to be desired.
It went by way too fast, introducing us to so many characters and attempted to start a political theme right from the get go, when I barely knew how its political system worked.
I do understand why this first episode felt rushed though, because the makers of this obviously knew that people who watched the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime would be watching and already knew this stuff, so they decided to go through it quickly.
Like I said, these initial episodes are not bad and they do have the occasional gem shining through.
The fourth episode, An Alchemist’s Anguish, has one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen in an anime and needs to be seen to be believed.
Then there is episode ten, Separate Destinations, which is a real tear-jerker.
After this, it is not long before Brotherhood quickly becomes a very engaging anime with great story telling, pacing and character development.
I was especially blown away with the character development, as my two favourite characters, Greed and Hohenheim, originally felt very one note but by the end of the series they were some of the most well developed characters of the series.

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Greed was one of the most surprising characters with his brilliant character arc.

Then there are the plot twists, with one in between episodes 30 and 40 leaving me very surprised.
When I first started watching the anime I alternated between the sub and dub but the dub was so great that I changed to just watching that.
This sub was still great and well acted but I enjoyed the dub a whole lot more.
The animation and music are likewise great and the episodes also got better and better as the show went on, my favourite of the bunch probably being episode 40, Homunculus (The Dwarf in the Flask).
After all of this, it was not long before I was binge watching the entire anime.
After every episode I wanted to know what would happen next.
This all builds to an absolutely incredible final act of the series, with brilliant episode after brilliant episode, the final five of which had me glued to the screen.
These five episodes made me cry at least three or four times both out of sadness and happiness.

Fullmetal Alchemist ending
The final episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood were very engaging with plenty of emotional moments.

However, even though I loved the way the series ended, I do have to say, I was a little bit disappointed by it as well.
There were quite a few minor plot points about certain characters that were never fully resolved by the end and I really wanted to see what would happen with those.
It may have been because they had a limited time frame with the episode lengths and, if so, I wish they had extended the final episodes so we could see those plot points resolved.
Otherwise, I loved Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. 
It might be slow a slow burn at first but once the story really gets going you will be hooked.
I would recommend this to anyone who has not seen it, even if they typically do not watch anime.

Attack on Titan: Season three, episode five, Reply – Spoiler free and spoiler review: Viva la uprising!

4 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

This week’s Attack on Titan episode, Reply, had many interesting and great moments, in an episode that I feel is building up to a shocking revelation next week.
This episode primarily dealt with Erwin’s storyline in the wake of last week’s episode’s worrisome cliffhanger.
This storyline was very important for the episode but it did make me wonder how long the Uprising Arc has left.
From what I have heard, there are supposed to be 24 episodes this season and Reply makes it look like we are already in the endgame of this arc.
If it ends soon, then I wonder how long the next arc will be and if this really will be a 24 episode season.
Another thing, while I did enjoy this storyline with Erwin, it was a very predictable one.
As soon as a character arrived to announce some distressing news I knew what was going to happen.
That did not change that I still found this storyline to be engaging but it did lessen its impact somewhat.
The real meat of this episode lies in what happens after Erwin’s storyline.
So many hints are given and it looks like the dark theory I have concerning Eren’s Titan ability is correct.
Along with giving plenty of hints to numerous revelations, this scene also had a touching moment from Levi.
As a whole, this episode also had great animation and music.
There is a shot of Erwin’s eye that reminded me very much of a similar shot in season two, episode five, Historia, where I have praised its animation.
Well, this animation certainly tops that.
One thing that did surprise me as well was how funny this episode was.
There were a lot of times where I laughed and I honestly did not expect that coming in to this episode.
Overall, Reply was a really good episode that looks to be setting up some dramatic reveals.

Spoiler Review:

Thankfully my concern for Erwin’s safety was all for nothing because he came out on top this episode.
With help from Pyxis, Nile and Dhalis Zachary, he was able to successfully overthrow those in power.
However, this is where my problem with how predictable this storyline was lies.
Pyxis’ aid bursts into the room and declares that Wall Rose has been breached and I immediately realised this was a ploy from Pyxis and Erwin to get the nobles to break the Charter of Humanity, Clause Six, by having them put themselves before humanity.
Sure enough, this is exactly what the nobles did and it resulted in them being overthrown.
This was very easy to guess based on how the Charter of Humanity was being used to convict Erwin so it was natural that he would turn the tables on them using this.
Still this scene did have a lot of great moments as their “coup d’etat” succeeded.
Indeed, this seems like more of a coup than an uprising but maybe we will get that later.
After Erwin’s storyline, the perspective switched to that of the Levi Squad, where Hange informed them of what had happened.
This led to them highlighting all those who had worked towards overthrowing those in power and, after this, Levi apologized for getting Hange’s soldiers killed, which was a very nice moment.
However, all the niceties leave when Hange points out an incident in the Reiss family history, where all of Rod’s family were killed by someone the day before Historia’s mother was murdered.
Whatever is happening here, it obviously has a huge connection to the fall of Wall Maria and how Eren got his Titan abilities.
Then there is Eren himself, who finally wakes up after being captured… again.
Seriously, how many times has Eren been captured?
It is basically its own cliche at this point.
You might as well call Eren the damsel in distress of Attack on Titan… only he is the main character!
The episode ends with him waking up in a strange crystallized room with Historia walking towards him.
On another note, as I said in my spoiler free review, this episode was surprisingly hilarious.
The funniest moments came when Zachary declared why he helped remove the military police, going on a rant about how much he hated them,  and when the Levi Squad reacted to their names being cleared.
In this specific shot everyone is jumping for joy and Sasha wraps her arms around Mikasa who is not having it.
Mikasa’s reaction to Sasha’s hug, even if it was brief, was very funny.
Reply was another really good episode for the third season and has me eagerly anticipating next week’s episode, Sin. 

Predictions:

  1. One of the big shots we get in a preview is of Kenny, who looks significantly younger than he does now. Will his backstory be revealed and his Ackermann connection?
  2.  I think it is safe to say that Eren is the “power” and Historia is the “vessel” that was mentioned. This means that Rod is planning on having Historia eat Eren. How can she do this though? Does this mean they have the shots they gave Ymir when her backstory was revealed in Children? If this is the case, hopefully Historia will not go through with this.
  3. Eren dreams about a women in this episode, who I speculated was this Marie person that was mentioned last episode. However, based on this episode and the preview for Sin, she looks more like Freida, Rod’s daughter who was supposedly killed with the rest of her family. This would make her Historia’s half-sister and it appears she knew her, based on what we see in the preview. But why is Eren dreaming about her if he never meet her?
  4. Warning: Potentially major spoilers for the next few episodes here: After everything I have seen in this episode and the previous ones, I am certain that Eren ate his own father, Grisha. This makes sense because Grisha injected Eren and we know from Children that the injections turn people into Titans, not Titan Shifters. In order to become a Titan Shifter you need to eat one and unless Grisha just had a Shifter lying around it seems highly likely that he was the Shifter and Eren ate him and got his powers. However, there is a shot of Grisha in the preview for next episode and it looks like he is in the exact same strange room as Eren so I may be wrong. Although, this could also be a flashback. Then there is the “unforgivable sin” Grisha committed, mentioned in the preview. I am willing to bet that he had some hand in the deaths of Rod’s family. How ever Grisha connects to the story, next episode looks to be full of reveals about him.

 

Top 10 Attack on Titan Anime Moments

Warning: Major spoilers for the anime. 

10. Eren vs the Armoured Titan – Season two, episode seven, Close Combat.

Eren vs Reiner

After the shocking reveal of Reiner and Bertholdt being Titans (more on that later) Eren faced off against Reiner, The Armoured Titan, in an epic showdown that is probably the best fight in the series.
The thing that makes this fight so good is how much thinking goes into it.
For example, when Eren fought the Female Titan there was not a big focus on the tactics of the fighting, just Eren being motivated by the deaths of his squad mates.
Here, however, Eren plans out his attack process and we get to see how this leads to him defeating the Armoured Titan… before Bertholdt jumps in of course.
Another thing that makes this fight so great is how Eren expresses his feelings about the Armoured Titan being Reiner, someone he thought of as an older brother.
This fight showed us Eren’s feelings of anger and betrayal, which go nicely with the fight itself.
The combined elements of fighting tactics and Eren’s inner thoughts turn this fight into the best of the series.

9. First appearance of the Beast Titan – Season two, episode one, Beast Titan.

Beast Titan

Probably my biggest question after watching season two was, “who is the Beast Titan?”
Unfortunately, us anime watchers do not have an answer yet but, based on this Titan’s introduction, he looks to be a very important character and a formidable foe for the main cast.
His introduction is the best the series has given us so far as it opens up many interesting questions about the series.
What is probably most interesting about him though is that he can speak without difficulty and can also control Titan’s, although to a lesser extent than Eren I think.
We also got to see how cruel whoever is controlling the Beast Titan is because of the subsequent death of Miche Zacharius, the most gruesome death in Attack on Titan so far.
The Beast Titan just allowed the other Titans to rip him apart while he screamed for mercy and his only reaction to this was an acknowledgement that Miche could talk.
The first time I saw this scene it left me sick to my stomach.
Both gruesome and intriguing, the introduction of the Beast Titan is the best introduction of Attack on Titan.

8. Historia and Ymir’s promise – Season two, episode five, Historia.

The Promise

One of the things I liked the most about season two of Attack on Titan was how it took forgettable characters from the first season and turned them into some of the best in the series.
Case and point Ymir and Historia.
I will talk about Ymir later but Historia had a great moment of character development in the fifth episode of the second season, where everything we knew about her was turned on its head.
In this flashback it is revealed that not only is her name not Christa but her entire personality has been an act.
Every time she risked her life for someone it was so she could die and be remembered as a hero.
Remember when she went to save Armin, Jean and Reiner in the Female Titan episode?
She went to help them because she wanted to die.
In the first season I saw Historia, or Christa as she was called then, as nothing more than a one note character who was just cannon fodder for the Titans.
This flashback to her and Ymir’s promise changed my entire perception of her and made her much more interesting, which, I am happy to say, it looks like they will be expanding upon in season three.
On top of this the animation in this scene is stellar and some of the best the series has given us.
This moment changed my entire perception of Historia, turning her from someone I did not care for into one of the most interesting characters.

7. Jean decides to join the Scouts – Season one, episode sixteen, What Needs to be Done Now: Eve of the Counterattack, Part 3.

Jean joins the scouts

I loved Jean in season one.
His character arc in that season was my favourite out of everyone’s.
He went from a coward who only wanted to join the Military Police so he could live safely in the interior, to the guy who joined the Survey Corps because it was the right thing to do.
His defining moment of the season though came in the 16th episode when he actually decided to join the Scouts.
After learning of his friend Marco’s death in the 13th episode, Jean was at a crossroads being unsure of what to do.
However, at the cremation of all the soldiers who lost their lives during the Titan invasion, Jean remembered Marco telling him he is a good leader because he knows what needs to be done.
This inspired Jean and in a heartfelt moment he declared to the other cadets that he intended to join the scouts before bursting into tears.
This is a very powerful moment for his character because we can see he is scared through how he had to grasp his shaking hand and repeat himself a few times before he could bring himself to tell the others his decision.
This moment showed that, despite his fear, Jean was willing to risk his life to do the right thing.
Jean was my favourite character of the first season and this scene really highlights why.

6. Advance!!! – Season two, episode 11, Charge.

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I can distinctly remember screaming in horror when a Titan came out of nowhere and dragged Commander Erwin Smith away by the arm.
However, this screaming soon turned to cheering with one word: “ADVANCE!!!”
With a single word Erwin Smith became one of my favourite characters because he showed he was willing to sacrifice everything in order to save humanity.
I could not believe that he was putting the mission ahead of his own life like that but I thought it was an incredible way for him to die… only for him to survive.
Because a few minutes later Erwin was back fighting, with only one arm.
The he saved Eren’s life, once again, with only one arm.
If there is any moment of Attack on Titan that highlights Erwin’s character it is this one. It is one of the most awesome character moments of the entire series.

5. Eren’s reaction to Hannes’ death, Mikasa’s confession and the Coordinate reveal – Season two, episode twelve, Scream.

Eren cries

This scene marks a pretty huge achievement in my eyes.
I hated Eren in the first season of the show and yet this moment actually made me cry for him.
Watching Eren break down into a hysterical fit of tears and laughter, after the death of Hannes, was heartbreaking to watch and it only got better from here.
This is because, after Eren’s breakdown, Mikasa chose to confess her feelings for him.
I have never really been a fan of the idea of Eren and Mikasa getting together because Eren often acts like a jerk towards her and Mikasa seems to be obsessed with Eren rather than in love with him.
Just like the Historia scene though, this moment changed my perception of their relationship as this was a beautiful moment portrayed with great voice acting from both Yuki Kaiji and Yui Ishikawa.
If we get more scenes like this between the two of them in season three I might actually get on board with their relationship, although if they act like it never happened I will not.
Finally there is Eren’s Coordinate abilities being revealed right after Mikasa’s confession, which brings new hope to the series and combines with everything else to make this all a truly memorable moment.

4. Deaths of the Levi Squad – Season one, episode 21, Crushing Blow.

Petra dies

This was the first time I actually shouted at my TV screen when watching Attack on Titan. 
Prior to this I had felt sad about some of the deaths in the show but none had made me feel like I had been punched in the gut afterwards.
The deaths of the Levi Squad, consisting of Oruo, Petra, Eld and Gunther, changed that with three of them dying in the span of two minutes.
First there is Gunther, killed during the ending moments of episode 20 by Annie in human form.
In the very next episode the remaining Levi Squad tried to kill the Female Titan only for her to kill Eld, Petra and Oruo in quick succession thus putting an end to the Levi Squad.
This moment had me screaming at the screen for the characters to get out of there as they were quickly killed one by one and left me feeling emotionally drained.
Their deaths were not quickly forgotten either, with the very next episode dealing with the effects their deaths would have as we got to see all of their families wait for their arrival, some with a feeling of dread and others with no idea their loved ones had been killed.
The deaths of the Levi Squad are the most gut wrenching of the series so far, but this is Attack on Titan so sadly I think we will get more of these kinds of deaths in season three.

3. Eren transforms into a Titan to fight Annie – Season one, episode 24, Mercy.

Eren transforms

Attack on Titan has a lot of transformations but this is one of my favourites.
Everything in this scene just combines to make a truly epic moment.
In this scene, Eren was struggling to accept Annie’s identity as the Female Titan and this lead to him being crushed and impaled by rubble as Annie desperately tried to capture him.
However, remembering the deaths of his mother and the Levi Squad and Mikasa’s words to him about “a cruel world”, Eren was able to accept what needed to be done and impaled himself further on the rubble to begin his transformation.
This emotional moment lead into the epic transformation where the music exploded into a grand crescendo with the OST Attack on Titan.
The use of this OST really sold the scene and the visuals work all the better because it did not actually show the transformation, just the lightening generated by it, along with how the characters reacted to the transformation.
All of this built up and up until Eren rushed at Annie in his Titan form and punched her through a church.
This scene is the very definition of epic and never fails to get me excited every time I watch it.

2. Ymir’s backstory flashback – Season two, episode ten, Children.

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I mentioned earlier, that season two did a fantastic job of turning forgettable characters into some of my favourites and a prime example of this is Ymir.
In season one she was not even a character but a trope of the typical mean girl who insults everyone.
So I was absolutely blown away with her character development in the second season and I think there could be a reasonable argument that this second second is her story.
The scene that really established her as one of my favourite characters was the flashback that revealed her backstory in episode ten, Children. 
This is the greatest flashback I have ever seen.
Not only does it tell you almost everything you need to know about Ymir but it also gives major hints as to what is really going on.
I think I have actually figured out some of the things that are going to be revealed in the future of the show because of the hints given here.
I see more hints in this flashback every time I watch it.
Best of all though is what this flashback does for Ymir.
The moment when Ymir turns back into a human and realizes that she is now free to live the life she wants is the most powerful moment of the entire series and was the first time I cried during Attack on Titan. 
This is helped once again by the fantastic music, with the OST Call of Silence, which is not just an amazing song but the lyrics also say a lot about Ymir as well.
This flashback made Ymir one of my favourite characters.
I am so glad it was added as this stage in the anime as I have been told this flashback comes much later in the manga.

1. Bertholdt and Reiner are revealed as the Colossal and Armoured Titans – Season two, episode six, Warrior.

Reiner and Bertolt

If number two was my favourite flashback of all time then number one is one of my favourite, if not my absolute favourite, twist of all time.
The reveal that Reiner had been the Armoured Titan and Bertholdt was the Colossal Titan the entire time was not only shocking but incredibly handled as well.
The way it is revealed has to be the most nonchalant twist reveal of all time.
Out of the blue Reiner just confesses to Eren that they are the Titans who started all this like it is no big deal.
I had to watch this scene a second time to make sure I had not misread the subtitles.
It completely subverts expectations but in the best of ways.
The moments following this confession are also stellar as in a flashback the show pieces together all the hints of Reiner and Bertholdt being Titans from prior episodes.
What follows is the best transformation of the entire series as one of the flags atop the wall is blown away, prompting the two’s transformation.
Did I  mention that Attack on Titan had some incredible OSTs?
Well, I will say it again because the OST they chose for this transformation, YouSeeBIGGIRL/T:T, is absolutely perfect for the moment.
This is not only because it is a great song but also because it is a different version of the song played when Eren’s mother was killed in the very first episode and, given that Reiner and Bertholdt are responsible for her death, this makes the placement of this OST here absolutely brilliant.
The reveal also left an amazing cliffhanger for the audience as to what would happen in episode seven.
I consider this to be the best moment in all of Attack on Titan because of how brilliantly the twist is revealed, the insane things that happen following the reveal, and the genius use of music.
The Reiner and Bertholdt twist really highlights why I love Attack on Titan. 

Attack on Titan: Junior High… Really?

3 and a half stars
So… apparently this is a thing.
Seriously though, of all the things they could have parodied they chose Attack on Titan, really?
I was quite surprised when I first learned about Attack on Titan: Junior High but I decided to give it a watch to see if it could surpass my expectations, and you know what?
It was actually pretty good.
The premise of the show is that all of the Attack on Titan characters, in an over exaggerated form, go to junior high school and must stop the Titans from taking everything they hold dear… that being their lunch.

titan eats lunch
In this parody the Titans eat people’s lunch instead of humans.

The characters are all gloriously over exaggerated to get the most comedy out of the situation.
Eren’s hatred for Titans, Mikasa’s obsession with Eren and Ymir and Reiner’s love for Krista were all hilariously blown out of proportion.
Although they did go some weird directions with some of the characters, like Armin who, for some reason, is always cold so is constantly wearing a futon.
The jokes for this parody are also mostly hit or miss.
The main problem I had with the jokes was that sometimes they just repeated the ones from the anime, only changing the wording to fit a school context, and many of these jokes were very repetitive.
I lost count of how many times Ymir asked Krista to marry her or Oruo bit his tongue.

Ymir and Krista
Ymir asking Krista to marry her is funny the first few times it happens but it gets old after a while.

That being said when the show got a joke right it was excellently done.
One joke in episode nine that referenced the shocking events of episode 31 of the anime, Warrior, had me rolling in a fit of laughter.
Another thing that had me laughing was all the subtle jokes, like characters watching the anime or reading the manga in the background and Mikasa’s blank face to every situation.

Mikasa blank face
Mikasa’s constant blank expression to any situation always gets a laugh.

Animation wise Attack on Titan: Junior High did get some backlash because it did not use the animation of original anime but I do not understand this.
This a parody, not the actual show.
If anything, the way it is animated improves the comedy.
Another interesting thing I found was that there were a few characters who played an important role in some episodes that I have never seen before.
For example, in episode eight there is a brand new character who talks with Krista yet has not appeared in the anime yet.
This makes me wonder if this is a character that was in the manga who will be in future episodes of Attack on Titan.
Overall, Attack on Titan: Junior High was a pretty good parody.
Some of the jokes do not work and can be a bit repetitive but, for every one that falls flat, there will be another that will have you in a fit of laughter.
I would recommend this to any fan of Attack on Titan.

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, Review.

5 stars
Funnily enough, I actually watched the Cowboy Bebop Movie before I saw the TV show.
It was on a trip with a youth group a few years ago when I first saw it and I remember really enjoying the film.
I did not learn about the show the movie was based on until recently.
So, after reviewing that, I decided that it was only natural to review the movie but I wondered if it would still hold up because it had been a few years since I had seen it.
But I was glad to find that the movie was just as great as I found it be when I first watched it two years ago.
The movie apparently takes place sometime in between episodes 22 and 23 and follows bounty hunters Spike, Jet, Faye and Ed as they hunt down a terrorist with a $300 million bounty on him.

cowboy-bebeop-crew
The Bebop crew’s reaction to the $300 million bounty placed on the terrorist.

The film is very well animated and acted by its English dub cast (I have not watched the Japanese version yet), but it is the music by Yoko Kanno that really steals the show with both jazzy and haunting use of music.
One of the more interesting elements that the movie introduces is its new characters.
There is Elektra, a soldier tasked with hunting the terrorist and has a personal connection to him, Lee, a nerdy hacker who has always wanted to try being a terrorist and the terrorist himself, Vincent.
I really liked Vincent as a villain because he was really threatening, had a compelling backstory and not to mention the fact that his voice just sends chills down your spine.
He was certainly a way better villain than Vicious, the main villain of the TV show and Spike’s nemesis.

Vincent
Vincent is both a compelling and creepy villain, who can also be sympathetic at times.

Another thing I really liked about the movie was its action sequences.
Even though they were animated they were well choreographed and a joy to watch.
The fights in the show sometimes felt like they should have gone on for longer but could not because of the short run time of each episode so these extended fights were really great to see.
As for negatives, I suppose the one problem I had was that the character of Jet does not really do much fighting.
He just stands around and gives a few speeches, but that is not a huge flaw that overshadows anything.
Overall, The Cowboy Bebop Movie is fantastic.
I think I even enjoyed the movie more than I did the actual show, not to say the show was not great or anything.
I loved The Cowboy Bebop movie just as much as I did two years ago and any fan of the show should watch it.

Attack on Titan, Season One: A fantastic first season that falters with its main character.

4 stars
Recently, I got into watching Anime.
I have seen shows like Death Note and seen The Cowboy Bebop Movie and am planning to later watch the series.
One anime I constantly heard good things about was Attack on Titan, based off the manga of the same name.
After hearing so many good things, I had to check it out and wow, this anime is great.
It is intense, exhilarating, heartbreaking and just fun to watch.
Attack on Titan is set in a dystopian future, where large humanoid monsters called Titans have appeared and driven humanity to almost extinction, with their constant hunger for human flesh.
The remaining humans have taken refuge behind three large walls, which keep the Titans at bay.
However, when a Colossal Titan arrives and smashes the outer wall, it starts a chain of events that may lead to either humanity’s salvation or extinction.
The show’s story is thrilling and dark.
It is definitely the Game of Thrones of anime.
Characters constantly die, which is a shame because these characters are so fantastic, for the most part.
I became attached to so many of them.
There are the central characters like Armin, the lovable genius, Mikasa, who is incredibly awesome and Jean, who in my opinion had the best character arc of the entire first season.

Jean
Jean is probably one of the best characters in the first season.

Then there are the side characters who are just as amazing.
Sasha, Connie, Levi, Commander Erwin, I could go on naming these characters because they are all so amazing.
However, although these characters are amazing, it is with them the problems of the show lie.
One of the biggest problems with the characters is there is way too many of them.
There were quite a few times when a character died and it was a really emotional scene but I could not get into it because I could not remember who the character was.
This did not happen constantly and there were more times when I remembered who a character was when they died but this still happened too many times.
Another problem I have is that I did not like one of the characters.
Ordinarily, this would not have been a problem.
Attack on Titan has so many characters that it would be weird if I did not like at least one of them.
But it is a problem because the character I do not like is the main character, Eren.
Eren is an incredibly one dimensional character, which is unacceptable for the main character, especially when all the other characters are so well developed.
His entire character is based on his hatred for the Titans.
This should be Eren’s motivation not his entire character.
Almost every line of dialogue that came out of Eren’s mouth was either saying that he wants to kill all the Titans or berating people for not fighting them.
If you were to remove his hatred of Titans then Eren would have absolutely no character.
It makes him incredibly boring.
What makes it worse is that there were clearly times when they could have given him development but they passed over it.
Yes, Eren does get some development in the final five episodes but this is in the back half of the season.
Other characters have been given 20 episodes to develop before Eren so are a 100 times more interesting than him by that point.
I just wish that Armin or Mikasa had been the main character because they are much more interesting and relatable characters.

Eren
Eren is an incredibly one dimensional character, which I feel is is unacceptable for a show with such great character growth.

Then there is Eren’s voice.
I started off watching Attack on Titan with the English dub but I changed halfway through to Japanese.
I did this because I could not stand Eren’s voice.
It made him sound like a whiny brat and it really got on my nerves.
The rest of the English voice cast was good but Eren’s voice stuck out like a sore thumb.
This may be nitpicking but it was really off-putting for me.
But, even though I did have problems with the characters, it is still them that make the show work.
Apart from Eren and the characters I forgot about, the other characters were so fantastic that they drew you into the whole story.
It is through them that you really feel what is at stake, which is what makes the story grab you.
This is all helped by the shows fantastic animation, action and music.
The action scenes alone are so thrilling and paired up with the great characters, who are constantly in danger of death, it left me on the edge of my seat.

Attack on Titan attack
The action in Attack on Titan is very gripping and only enhanced by its Game of Thrones like quality, with the characters’ constant deaths.

Attack on Titan is a really great anime.
Its first season had a very gripping story and characters.
Hopefully the problems I had with it will be fixed when I watch the second season.
If you are a fan of anime, I would highly recommend you watch this show.

Death Note, an anime that is a masterpiece to a person who does not typically watch anime.

5 stars
You know, I am not a big fan of anime.
The only anime series I had an interest in was Dragon Ball and its subsequent series because I grew up watching it.
If a good anime was on TV that I had heard good things about, I would watch it but I had never considered any anime to be one of the greatest TV series I have ever seen.
However, all this changed when I saw Death Note.
Oddly enough, I have the notoriously hated Death Note Netflix adaptation to thank for discovering this series.
I saw many reviews condemning the movie for how it differentiated from the anime and manga, in the worst of ways.
Many people drew comparisons to the anime in their reviews and this is where my interest peaked.
Reviewers talked about amazing characters, themes of religion and what justice is and all of this wrapped up in an exhilarating cat and mouse game between two geniuses.
I made sure to buy Death Note as soon as I could and I was stunned at how incredible this show really is.
Death Note is a show with almost no action and yet every episode was so intense and had me on the edge of my seat to see what would happen.
The Death Note anime is actually an adaptation itself of the manga series, with the same name.
It follows Light Yagami, a high school student in Japan, who comes across the Death Note, a book that can kill anyone if you write their name in it.
Accompanied by a Shinigami, a god of death, named Ryuk, who acts as a spectator, Light takes on the name Kira and sets out to rid the world of criminals by using the Death Note and create a new world, where he is God.
However, Light’s goal is not secure because the world’s greatest detective L, who becomes aware of the mass killings of criminals, sets out to catch Light.
And so begins an intense game of cat and mouse between the two, with Light trying to kill L before he is caught by him and L trying to catch Light before he is killed by him.

deathnote
If I could describe Death Note in one word it word be fascinating.
Everything about Death Note is fascinating, from its religious themes and it presenting the question of what justice is to the audience, to Light and L’s game of cat and mouse.
It was amazing to watch these two geniuses try to outsmart one another through their constant, expert use of lying and manipulation.
I was astonished by how quick the two were to constantly outsmart the other’s full proof plans.
The conflict between Light and L was the definite highlight of the series, amplified by how great both characters are.
L was definitely my favourite of the two, with his quirky characteristics and his amazing levels of deduction blending seamlessly.
It was a delight to watch him pose a serious challenge to Light, through his amazing abilities of manipulation and deduction skills, in ways that no else could.
His standout moment, strangely enough, comes when we do not know what he looks like.
It is in the second episode and truly shows how much of a threat he will be to Light’s plans for a new world.
The fact that L is such a great character, despite us knowing almost nothing about his backstory, even his true name, shows how great of a character he is.

L thinks
In comparison, Light is also thrilling and mysterious.
He is almost, if not just as smart as L but his Death Note gives him a considerable edge.
And, although Light is setting out to make a better world, his way of doing so and one of his main motivations raise serious questions about his morality and lead the audience to ask some very hard questions concerning their own morality.
Many people like Light and want his plan for a new world to succeed and this is actually quite amazing, considering that in any other series Light would have been the villain.
Although he is trying to make a better world by killing criminals, Light will stoop to no lows, killing completely innocent people if they get in his way and even goes as far as considering to kill his own family, when they get in the way as well.
Light also has a god complex, seeing himself as a god who will build the new world and punish anyone who defies him.
In the beginning, I was actually kind of rooting for Light but, by the end of episode 25, he had become a character I loved to hate and I wanted to see his downfall.
Light is also just as mysterious as L but not in the way you think because it is actually up for debate whether Light is evil or if the Death Note corrupted him.
At some point in the story Light temporarily loses the Death Note, removing all of his memories of it.
As a result, he becomes a law abiding citizen and would never do the things he did when he had the Death Note.
However, when he gets it back, he goes right back to his end game of creating a new world by any means necessary.
It raises some interesting questions about who Light is as a person.

Light
If either Light or L had been done even slightly wrong, the whole story would have fallen apart but to have both characters done so fantastically makes the story just incredible.
And Light and L are not the only great characters in the series.
Ryuk is also a great character and his role as a spectator had great importance because it was through him we learnt how the Death Note worked.
Other characters like Light’s father Soichiro and Light’s devoted follower Misa Amane are also great and have importance the story.
Two of my particular favourite characters along with Light, L and Ryuk are the two cops Touta Matsuda and Shuichi Aizawa, who were both interesting characters.
If you add this great cast of characters to its fantastic story and its themes of religion and justice, then you have an incredible show on your hands, which is exactly what Death Note is.
Death Note could do no wrong in my eyes.
But then episode 25 happened.
This episode is infamous among fans of Death Note because it completely shakes up the dynamic of the show.
Everything changes after this episode and the show feels very different from what is was before.
The problem with this?
After this point the show is great rather than fantastic
I still love the show after episode 25 but it is nowhere near as good as it once was.
Without the dynamic we had earlier, it feels like something is missing and some of the new characters are not as good as they could have been.
For example, after episode 25 we are introduced two new characters named Mello and Near, who L has been training to be his successors.

mello and near
These two characters are pretty weak compared to the other characters, with them being represented as types of L’s personality rather than actual characters.
Mello represents L’s emotional side, while Near represents his calculative side.
I just wanted a little more character development from them.
A lot of people seem to think the show should have ended after episode 25 but I do not believe this.
There was more story to tell and things to resolve so the remaining 12 episodes were necessary.
However, that being said, I do wish the show had maintained its original dynamic because, if it had, it would have been fantastic the entire way through.
And, even though after episode 25 the show had a downgrade in quality, the show was still great so this will not deduct a point from my overall rating.
Death Note is a masterpiece.
It is a fantastic anime and TV series that has you on the edge of your seat, even with the downgrade in quality after episode 25.
It has a great story, great characters and great themes and symbolism.
It is already one of my favourite shows, due to its gripping story that had me engaged, right to the end.
I highly recommend it.