Tokyo Ghoul √A Review: The Decline Begins.

3 stars
The first season of Studio Pierrot’s Tokyo Ghoul adaptation was a solid season, but one that had a few issues.
Despite this, the final episode of the season was incredible and a great ending for the next season, √A, once again directed by Shuhei Morita, to pick up from.
Yet, coming into √A, I had a lot of concerns because this is the point that many fans say that the Tokyo Ghoul anime began to decline in quality.
And right from the first episode, “New Surge”, I knew this was going to be the case.
To put it bluntly, “New Surge” is easily the worst Tokyo Ghoul episode of the first two seasons because of how badly it both adapts the manga and tries to add new scenes.
For example, the emotional goodbye Kaneki (Natsuki Hanae) has with Touka (Sora Amamiya) in the manga is replaced in this first episode with Kaneki just being a silent edge lord, which he unfortunately remains for most of the season.

edge lord kaneki
Kaneki barely says anything to Touka when he leaves Anteiku, compared to the manga where he talks a lot, showing Pierrot couldn’t be bothered to write a different conversation.

Then there is Kaneki joining Aogiri Tree this episode, which is also atrociously done.
The anime decided to change the story in √A from Kaneki forming a resistance group to stop Aogiri to him joining them.
Sui Ishida, the creator of the series, envisioned that Kaneki would do this to secretly find and kill the One Eyed King but Studio Pierrot threw this, and his other ideas, out in favor of Kaneki joining Aogiri Tree to get stronger, which makes no sense at all.
This confusing plot line is on full display in the first episode with the scene that I think is supposed to show Eto (Maaya Sakamoto) convincing Kaneki to join Aogiri, which instead just has her giggling at him and then disappearing, without either of them saying anything.
Why would Aogiri Tree decide to let Kaneki join them anyway, when he is responsible for the death of one of their executives?
Not only this, but many important scenes like Kaneki breaking half the bones in Ayato’s (Yuki Kaiji) body are completely removed in this episode.
Unfortunately, the dip in quality of √A continues, with Pierrot trying to work in characters from the manga that just do not translate well to this new story.
The biggest example of this is Kurona (Aoi Yuuki) and Nashiro (Haruka Tomatsu).
In the manga, these two show up because both Kaneki and the CCG are actively chasing them down, forcing them to fight.
In the anime, however, they deliberately pursue Kaneki for absolutely no reason, making it feel like they were written in just because they were in the manga and not because they had a story based reason for being there.

twins ghouls
Kurona and Nashiro should not have been in √A. Without Kaneki pursuing them it made no sense for them to be in the season.

These problems with the anime original content continue throughout √A, with even censorship being a problem.
Tokyo Ghoul is a dark manga so it should have been a dark manga.
Characters that lost their limbs just break bones here.
Studio Pierrot should have listened to Ishida’s ideas for the season or just followed his original story.
Sadly, the anime only events are not the only issues with √A because the animation and soundtrack are issues too.
While the animation isn’t awful, various fights in the first half of √A feel slow and more static than the first season.
As for the soundtracks, songs are repeated constantly to the point that I actually tired of hearing even the great ones.
I lost count of how many times “Glassy Skies” played.
Not only this, but the opening, “Munou”, is flat out terrible, with barely any effort put into it.
However, despite the many problems I have mentioned, I still do not consider √A to be a bad season.
It almost is but there are a few redeeming qualities the season has that cause it to miss the title of bad by the skin of its teeth.
For starters, even though I didn’t like many of the changes that were made to the original story, there are actually some good ones.
For example, there is an interaction between Kaneki and Naki (Hiro Shimono) in the first few episodes that I really enjoyed, and I liked some of the little quirks Eto was given, along with her interaction with Juuzou (Rie Kugiyama) and Shinohara (Yutaka Nakano), which explained some of her later actions.

eto bang
Despite all interactions between Kaneki and Eto being a complete waste of time, instead of interesting changes as they should have been, I still liked the little changes and quirks her character was given in the anime.

Along with this, when the anime actually adapted parts of the original story correctly, it did them quite well.
The raid on Anteiku was excellent, for the most part, with the fights being very enjoyable, especially Yoshimura’s (Takayuki Sugo).
Speaking of which, I really enjoyed the change of having Yoshimura hallucinate Ukina during this scene.
The animation of these fights was also a lot better than they were earlier in the season.
Not fantastic, but good.
The voice acting also remains solid and, even though I had problems with how repeated the soundtrack was, I liked the final, slower version of Unravel that was played at the end.
I may have not liked the four minute walk that accompanied it but it’s still a fantastic version of a fantastic song.
So, despite its plenty of faults, Tokyo Ghoul √A is saved by its redeeming qualities, barely making it a good season.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for Tokyo Ghoul: Re, which I am currently struggling to get through.
You can expect a review for that train wreck soon.

 

Psycho-Pass 3 Review: Incredibly Underhyped.

4 stars
I love the first season of Psycho-Pass.
It is a riveting anime with an amazing story, characters, and themes that just gets better every time I watched it.
The second season is, well, none of that.
The only thing I can give it credit for is that it succeeds in being the most disappointing follow up to a great season I have ever seen.
So, when the third season of Psycho-Pass was announced, and with new characters taking the leader, I was naturally concerned.
Sure, the original director was returning, but that did not guarantee quality.
And this was all I heard about the season for a while, until I saw one of the reviewers I had subscribed to on YouTube reviewing the first episode.
It was a definite, “wait, this came out moment?”, for me.
It felt like there was almost no hype behind this season, which is a shame because it is a vast improvement on the second one.
Yes, it is not as good as the first season but it was never going to be.
You just can’t top the level of quality in that season, especially with the great chemistry between the two main characters Akane Tsunemori (Kana Hanazawa) and Shinya Kogami (Tomokazu Senki), and the antagonist Shogo Makishima.
However, the characters of Psycho-Pass 3 are still excellent and, given more time, they could become just as beloved as the original cast of inspectors and enforcers.
I will start with the two lead inspector characters, the quirky Arata Shindo (Yuki Kaji) and immigrant Kei Mikhail Ignatov (Yuichi Nakamura).
The season follows these two as, under the Sibyl System, they investigate the mysterious organization known as Bifrost.
The two’s friendship, and how it progresses throughout the season, is perfectly handled and I am anticipating to see where it goes.

arata and kei.jpg
Arata and Kei’s bond only gets better as the season progresses.

As for the new enforcer characters, they are just as great, especially Tenma Todoroki (Akio Otsuka) and Kazumichi Irie (Junichi Suwabe).
I really came to respect these two characters, just as they came to respect Arata and Kei over time.
Then there are the old characters who are present, yet working in the shadows rather being active participants in the plot.
They are all integrated pretty well, which leads to my biggest surprise of the season, which is that I found Mika Shimotsuki (Ayane Sakura) tolerable.
I absolutely hated her in the second season because she was an absolute jerk for no reason.
Here, we can see why she is acting the way she is, which allows us, as the viewer, to sympathize with her.
She’s not just trying to backstab Akane because she doesn’t agree with her for no reason anymore.

tolerable Mika.png
The most surprising thing about Psycho Pass 3 is how tolerable Mika is.

Although, I will say that this change in Mika does make it feel like we missed some character development from her, which is unfortunate.
Another unfortunate thing is that the villains did not really stick out for me this season.
I knew they could never be as fantastic as Makishima but I was still disappointed in how they failed to stand out compared to the main characters.
But, hey, at least they were not awful like Kirito Kamui from season two.
Along with having great characters, for the most part, the third season of Psycho-Pass also has a great story with a fantastic usage of themes and political commentary.
One feature I was very impressed by was how the season reflects and comments on how many celebrities are getting into politics nowadays and how this would work within the Sybil System.

karina.jpg
Psycho Pass provides great commentary through one of its main players being a pop idol who is trying to become Governor.

However, not everything was so amazing because there are some things that bring the season down slightly.
The biggest of these issues is easily Arata’s mental trace ability, which allows him to view crimes from a criminal and victim’s perspective in a supernatural way.
Now, I have never been a fan of the supernatural in Psycho-Pass, as evidenced by my extreme dislike for Kamui.
So, when Arata was revealed to have this ability, I hoped that they would give it some kind of scientific explanation.
But, no, they just have to implement some kind of supernatural ability when it does not fit in with the themes and commentary at all because why not?
Thankfully, Arata’s Mentalist ability was not enough to derail the season for me.
Psycho Pass 3 is an almost return to form, despite a few hiccups, and I am interested to see where the story goes from here, as well as how these new characters continue to grow and the world of Psycho Pass along with them.

My Hero Academia Season Two Review: Spectacular Fight Sequences Inbound.

5 stars
The first season of My Hero Academia was a good start to the anime and I saw a lot of potential in it.
Thankfully, this potential is fully realised in season two, which absolutely blew me away with its character development, animation, music, and downright phenomenal action sequences.
The season covers around three story arcs and each of them has a great mixture of all of these features I mentioned.
The first arc follows the U.A Sports Festival, where the training heroes compete in a tournament to be scouted by pro heroes.
During this arc, we get amazing character development from many of these characters, most notably Shoto Todoroki, voiced by Attack on Titan’s Yuki Kaji.
Other than knowing that he is extremely powerful, Todoroki left little impact on me in the first season but this all changes here.
He is now probably my favourite character of the series.
Along with this, his fight with Deku is one of the greatest fights I have seen, not just in anime but in everything that has been put to screen.

Todoroki.jpg
Deku’s fight with the scarred Zuko-I mean Todoroki, has to be one of the best fight sequences I have ever seen. 

Everything just combines in that battle to make it such an incredible moment from the character arcs, to the animation, music and shot composition.
This fight is not the only fantastic one, however, because there are two other phenomenal fights, with Deku and Bakugo having to face off against All Might for an exam and Deku, Todoroki and Iida facing off against the Hero Killer, Stain (Go Inoue).
Speaking of Stain, he is a fascinating villain with a complex ideology and moral code that makes him the series’ best antagonist so far.
I have my fingers crossed that we will see more of him in the future.

Stain.png
Stain is a very engaging villain, with his impact on the series looking to be very important compared to the other antagonists.

The season also goes into more detail about All Might’s backstory, and his rivalry with what looks to be the main villain of the series All For One.
We get to meet All Might’s teacher, Gran Torino (Kenichi Ogata) who I think may be named after the Clint Eastwood movie.
His introduction probably made me laugh harder than any joke in the anime so far.
As for the final episode, rather than the bombastic action one of the previous season, we get more of a meeting of the minds between our hero and villain that seems to set up their potential rivalry for future seasons.

nightmare fuel.jpeg
Tomura Shigaraki’s (Koki Uchiyama) meeting with Deku is especially tense, with Deku being literally one finger on his neck away from death.

Overall, the second season of My Hero Academia is downright fantastic, providing constant laughs, amazing character development and, of course incredible fight sequences.
If you can sit through the Deku vs Todoroki fight without your jaw dropping like me then I will applaud you.

 

Attack on Titan Season Three, Episode 22, The Other Side of the Wall Review. One of the Manga’s Most Impactful Moments Adapted.

5 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Attack on Titan season three just ended and I miss it already.
It adapted the manga chapters excellently the entire way through, and the final episode, “The Other Side of the Wall”, is no exception.
Coming into this final episode, I was concerned that since only Chapter 90 would be adapted then the episode would need to add pointless scenes to lengthen the runtime.
Thankfully, all of the scenes that are added in “The Other Side of the Wall” serve a point and this all combines with the manga adapted scenes to create a somber and meaningful season finale.
“The Other Side of the Wall” adapts a scene I and many other manga readers have been waiting to see and it does not disappoint.
This moment almost brought a tear to my eye with its thematic weight, beautiful animation, and the way it continues to push Eren’s fantastic character development forward.
Eren is the standout of this episode with Yuki Kaji doing a fantastic job as per usual.
I am so excited to see Eren’s character arc continue in the final season because when I finished this arc in the manga Eren was a top 10 favourite character but the next arc makes him a top five favourite character, for me.
Along with Eren, other characters like Floch get their chance to shine.
Many people may not like him based on what he says this episode but it definitely makes you understand him as a character and what he stands for.
The episode also gives a look at how the society within the walls views the truth of situation and it is done very naturally.
The big scene of  “The Other Side of the Wall” though is still its impactful and almost tear inducing ending.
The credits sequence is also pretty surprising, blending images from season one, the future final season, and even some images that I have no idea what they mean.
Overall, “The Other Side of the Wall” is my favourite Attack on Titan finale so far.
It may not have any action like season two’s finale “Scream”, but what this ending represents for the series and characters as a whole going forward makes it one of the most impactful episodes of the series.

Spoiler Review:

As I said in the spoiler free review, I was concerned that “The Other Side of the Wall” would add scenes to lengthen the runtime, which would drag down the episode.
I feared this because another episode that adapted a single chapter, “The Basement”, did this and, as a result, I found that it lessened the episode’s impact.
Thankfully, this is not the case with “The Other Side of the Wall” because every single new scene adds to the character development.
This is most obvious in the scene right before the characters arrive at the sea, where they come across a Titan that can barely move.
Rather than kill it, Eren instead walks up to it and places a hand on its head, sympathetically calling it “a fellow patriot.”
This brilliant scene really shows how far Eren has come.
He has gone from wanting to kill all Titans at the beginning of the series to coming to understand them and even sympathize with them, understanding they are not the true threat.
In the manga, Eren just rode past the Titan while speaking that line so it was not portrayed as clearly how much Eren had changed.
After this great addition, the anime delivers the scene manga readers have been waiting forever to see, the ocean scene.
Watching this joyous moment where characters like Armin finally reach their goal of seeing the ocean is very emotional, even more so because of Eren’s undermining of it.
Rather than celebrating like the others, Eren realizes the threat they all face.
He knows now that reaching the ocean does not mean freedom for them but means they have an entirely new and more dangerous enemy to face.
This moment marks the first big separation Eren has with Mikasa and Armin.
While these two celebrate, Eren does not, and this divide will continue to expand in the final season, as shown by the separation of Eren and Armin in a small post credits scene.
Speaking of the credits though, they are full of many images from next season and even ones we have not seen yet.
There are two particular images I find to be of interest.
One is of a group of kids at some kind of school, and another is where it appears to literally be raining blood.
What the latter image means, I have no idea other than it must be terrible.
As for the image of the kids though, I have a few ideas.
The kid actually looks a lot like Gabi, a character we will meet in the next arc, but the lack of an armband, and with her friends nowhere in sight, makes me question this.
I have also heard people suggest a younger version of Willy Tyber’s sister, which would be interesting.
Whatever these shots may be of, they continue to how how excellent Attack on Titan is with its foreshadowing.
As for the other scenes of the episode, they are just as good, the other highlight being the ceremony where Eren and the rest of the nine survivors from the battle of Shiganshina are awarded medals.
Before this, Floch has a confrontation with Eren and Armin, declaring how he thinks Erwin should have been given the serum instead.
This not only gives us insight into Floch but Eren as well because we see this is the first time that Eren’s belief in the ocean representing freedom are questioned.
Just as he tells Armin he thinks they will be free if they reach the sea, he experiences a flash from his father’s memories of Fay’s dead body in the water.
This not only shows how they are far from free but is also an incredibly smart use of creative censorship.
Even though Fay’s body in the water covers up the gruesome image, it also brilliantly foreshadows that the water Eren and the others will see at the ocean means they are not free but rather in even more danger than before.
I usually criticize the censorship of Attack on Titan but this was such a smart use of it that it surprisingly manages to improve on the manga by adding new symbolic aspects.
“The Other Side of the Wall” is a fantastic season finale.
There may be no action, but the character development and symbolism of the episode is phenomenally handled.
With the final season being announced for 2020, it makes me wonder how long the manga has left?
I personally believe it will end around Chapter 130, which means 12 chapters left, and if I am right then Attack on Titan season four should start right after the manga ends, which would be cool.
Either way though, I just hope the series will get a satisfying conclusion that we all can enjoy, whether that ending is hopeful, tragic, or something in between.