Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury Review: Revolutionary Girl Suletta.

The Mobile Suit Gundam series is an anime well known for its war commentary, explosive fights, and traumatic deaths.
My first exposure to the series was Iron Blooded Orphans, which I highly enjoyed and definitely met the criteria I just laid out.
Initially, this appeared to be the same for the latest Gundam series, The Witch From Mercury, with the prologue having plenty of war commentary in regards to corporations, quite a few well-animated Gundam fights, and a tragic death that the series is so well known for.
Imagine my surprise when the first few episodes of Cour One for The Witch From Mercury set this anime up as something more akin to Revolutionary Girl Utena than a Gundam series. 

The Witch From Mercury starts off quite differently from other Gundam shows, making it unique.

Directed by Hiroshi Kobayashi and written by Ichirō Ōkouchi The story follows Suletta Mercury (Kana Ichinose), a socially awkward girl sent to the Asticassia School of Technology, along with her Gundam, Aerial.
After defending the honour of fellow student Miorine Rembran (Lynn), the daughter of Delling Rembran (Naoya Uchida), the head of the powerful Benereit Group, in a duel, Suletta unwittingly finds herself engaged to her and must protect this engagement through dueling her other suitors.
Sounds very similar to Revolutionary Girl Utena, right?

This is how I imagine some Gundam fans reacting to this show’s set-up being different.

Well, despite this, the anime is still very much a Gundam series, with plenty of dark moments scattered throughout the first cour.
As for the slice of life moments that dominate a lot of the episodes, they were very welcome, delivering a lot of great humor and also endearing the characters to the audience.
Suletta and Miorine are both fun and relatable characters with great romantic chemistry that is interesting to watch grow.
The other characters are just as fun, from the Earth House kids, like ChuChu (Miyu Tomita) and Nika (Yume Miyamoto), to those in power at the school, like the emotionless Elan (Natsuki Hanae), shady Shaddiq (Makoto Furukawa), and Miorine’s previous fiancee Gue (Yōhei Azakami).
Guel, in particular, was a surprise because he started off as such an unlikeable character and yet, by the end, he is one of the most sympathetic characters.

Poor Bob.

Speaking of the end, boy, does it get dark, showing that the next cour will probably be much more in line with the grim tone of other Gundam anime.
There are also many questions raised in this first half that I am interested to see answered, like just how the prologue relates to everything that is happening, what exactly is going on with Suletta, and how her incredibly suspicious mother, Lady Prospera (Mamiko Noto), ties into that.
This and the seemingly inevitable darker tone Cour Two will have has me very excited for it but also dreading it because it is all bound to be tragic.

The ending of Cour One does not bode well for the light-hearted tone seen in much of the anime, previously.

The first cour of The Witch From Mercury does a fantastic job of setting up its story, getting us attached to the characters and mysteries, while also providing plenty of excellently animated Gundam fights.
Prepare for Cour Two where our hearts will inevitably be crushed under a Gundam’s hand. 

The Promised Neverland, Season Two, Episode One Review: A Beautiful Yet Cruel Freedom.

4 stars
The Promised Neverland 
is finally back.
I was already excited enough with Attack on Titan‘s final season airing but, with the second season of the adaptation of Kaiu Shiari’s great manga airing at the same time, and possibly being about to adapt my favorite arc in the manga, I might just collapse from overexcitement.
I started watching The Promised Neverland about four episodes into its first season and was immediately hooked to the point that, when I learned that the Covid-19 Pandemic had delayed season two, I read the manga.
Well, after the wait we finally have the first episode of that second season, which puts the follow up off to a promising start.
Directed by Takahiro Harada, the episode picks up after Emma (Sumire Morohoshi), Ray (Mariya Ise), Don (Shinei Ueki), Gilda (Lynn), and many other children escaped from the Grace Field House, where they had been unknowingly raised as demon food by their “mother”, Isabella.
Now free, but without their good friend Norman, who was shipped out, and the young Phil, who stayed to look out for the other younger children, Emma and the others are free to explore the outside world.
However, as Emma points out in the opening scene with her inner monologue, “freedom is so beautiful… Yet so cruel.”
This line, while sounding very similar to something Eren Jaeger would say in Attack on Titan, is a great way to kick off the episode, as it is revealed that the children are being chased by a giant demonic lizard.
The outside world is clearly just as dangerous for the children as it was at the Grace Field House, with another kind of predator pursuing them.
However, there is also the kind from season one hunting them down as well because the demons are back, angered by the children’s escape.
Before we get to these pursuits though, the episode cuts to before all this, when the children had time to get their bearings.
We have a cool discussion between Emma and Ray where it is shown just how much Ray has grown from his suicide attempt in season one, now being dedicated to protecting his family and survive with them.
Emma and the gang also come up with a plan, using the equipment gifted to them by William Minerva to locate him.
This equipment includes a pen given by Sister Krone to Norman, who then gave it to them, and a book that shows them how to survive in the outside world.
The book is an interesting thing about the episode because it is here where a lot of content from the manga was cut.
In the original story, there was quite a long scene where Emma and the others got trapped in a giant man-eating plant, which they escaped with help from William Minerva’s book, proving its usefulness in escaping danger.
This is changed in the episode to them learning this through just finding out where to get water with help from the book.
Now, usually I’d be against such a large scene being cut from an adaptation.
You only need to look at my review for episode three of Attack on Titan‘s final season to know that I mostly disapprove of large from the source material.
However, surprisingly, I actually don’t have an issue with the cuts in this episode because the scenes that were left out do not contribute that much to the overall story.
The big scene that is cut is basically just a long side quest that proves one piece of information that was simplified quite well in the episode.
Some fans are concerned that these cuts mean that the season will be rushed, with many important scenes removed but I really don’t think that, at least not yet.
Sure, there were a lot of cuts but, as I said, these cuts were made to simplify scenes that were really not that important to the story or character arcs in the manga, so I can see the important scenes being left mostly intact.
This includes the scenes with the two demon characters who rescue the children from their demon pursuers at the end of the episode, after Emma collapses and Ray is almost captured.
I really like these demon characters in the manga and I can’t wait to see how the adaptation will handle their role.
In any case, the ED seems to suggest they will have a bigger role at this point in the story than they did in the manga, with some great symbolism, like the female demon’s shadow looking eerily familiar to a cross.
The OP, “Identity” by Kiiro Akiyama, is also really good with a lot of great visuals to get you excited for what’s to come.
And, with the cliffhanger of the demons having saved the children, raising questions about why demons are helping their supposed food in the first place, a question Ray asks, there is certainly a lot to be excited about.

I Want to Eat Your Pancreas Review: Expectedly Tragic Yet Unexpectedly Tragic.

4 and a half stars
Admit it, when you first heard the title I Want to Eat Your Pancreas you instantly thought this would be some kind of weird fetish anime.
If you did think that, I don’t blame you because that’s what I thought it would be as well, and I questioned why the anime club I belonged to would watch such a thing.
Well, in 108 minutes the film turned the title of I Want To Eat Your Pancreas from cringe inducing to one laced with tragedy but not the kind of tragedy you expect.
Directed by Shin’ichirō Ushijima and based off the novel by Yoru Sumino, the film follows a high school loner (Mahiro Takasugi) who learns that a girl from his class Sakura (Lynn) is suffering from an illness that will eventually kill her.
Initially wanting nothing to do with her, Sakura quickly worms her way into his life, befriending him and slowly teaching him about the beauty in life.

Sakura practically drags our main character kicking and screaming into friendship.

The bond between these two is genuinely sweet, yet filled with dread because you know any chance of romance between the two can only end in an expected tragedy.
Yet, somehow, I Want to Eat Your Pancreas succeeds in making the tragedy unexpected as well, delivering a shocking twist that literally had me screaming “WHAT!?” when I first saw it.
This twist was a stroke of tragic genius on the writer’s part, delivering a gut punch that left me and many others viewing the film reeling, causing quite a few of us to tear up.

Prepare to cry when watching the film.

With solid animation and music, this all combines to create an emotional experience that I was not expecting going in.
Watch I Want to Eat Your Pancreas. 
You expect one tragedy but end up with another one entirely.