Demonic Pacts Ain’t Easy

This is a review for episode 14 of the Dororo (2019) anime.

Need to catch up with the series? Use this link for a free 30 day Amazon Prime Video trial and support the anime legally! Check out last week’s Episode 13 review here!

Okay, so I don’t know if this is intentional on the story’s part, but I distrust every wealthy person Dororo and Hyakkimaru encounter. Either the rich person made a soul pact with a demon in exchange for wealth, or they are a vicious, murderous, psychopath who took what they wanted by force. And on top of that, you have various youkai running around the rural villages of Nippon wreaking havoc and eating people. Needless to say, I don’t think the warring states period in Japan was easy at all. This train of thought is doubled by the fact that I am an active believer in native folklore across the globe. These stories all have common denominators when you really look closely and examine them.

There is always some demon that will promise wealth in exchange for a sacrifice. Some creature looking to simply murder humans for the sake of evildoing, or in their warped view as a cleanse to this world. Our universe is so much more than it seems on the surface and although we don’t hear about reports of ghouls and primordial beings anymore, I am sure they are still here. Lurking, waiting for their time on this earth to begin anew once more.

But I digress, you all came here for the Dororo episode 14 review, correct?

This week was a two-parter episode, the latter half of the story sure to concede next week. Another Podunk village, another bunch of demons trying to possess the local residents. I may be severely off topic at this point, but I don’t understand why certain people never fail to engage in soul pacts with these darker entities. It is almost always most certainly a trick.

I grew up reading and hearing oral traditions of folklore, mainly concerning here – in indigenous America. Those guided by greed or blind obsessions chose to make bargains that they could never keep, or ended up dying when the demon proved its nature and exploited a loop hole.

You never get what you truly ask for, and what you seek is warped in a sick way that you realize all but too late. While I’m writing this I have The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina in my head (mainly because I’m working on a review for my other website). In season 2, Lilith (a big baddie who acts like a Scooby Doo villain in her pursuit to murder the show’s namesake, Sabrina) glamours herself as a fortune teller and gives one sided prophecies to the inhabitants of Greendale by manipulating their inner insecurities. Harvey (Sabrina’s ex) is shown a vision where an artist is gaining his work subjects though communications with entities. They came during the witching hour through a portal in his room, whispering secrets of the universe in exchange for their image being brought to the human realm.

Once the artist tells Harvey his secret, the entities drive the young man to kill himself.

There is always a hidden, sinister clause or agenda. When Dororo and Hyakkimaru meet Sabame at the burned down temple, I just knew he had something to do with the disappearances of travelers at night. However, I was surprised he wasn’t actually the monster. I mean the dude doesn’t even blink and he has turquoise colored eyes, I don’t know why none of the villagers found that strange.

Then again, a united Japan doesn’t exist yet and each state is warring. Lord Daigo’s lands were the only prosperous ones for miles around and even then, its citizens were just happy to be safe – magical interference be damned. So I can understand the residents of Sabame’s hamlet truly not caring what is going on outside of their safe space in a cruel world.

In exchange for safety and power, the baddie of the week needs life forces to feed on. As usual, they made the mistake of assuming the blind young man and the little girl would be easy targets. I am truly glad Hyakkimaru was awake and feigning sleep when the monster showed its intention to attack because the way he was treating Dororo earlier I thought he was lost.

Poor Dororo was being molested by a big belligerent baby reminiscent of Boh from Spirited Away. For those of you who may not have seen the film or forgotten his role, Boh was the name-stealing witch Yubaba’s child.

Bō , the belligerent baby from Miyazaki's Spirited Away

Bō , the belligerent baby from Miyazaki’s Spirited Away

Bō enjoyed being a holy terror and threatened to break Chihiro’s arm if she didn’t play with him. Towards the end of the film he has a change of heart and stops his mother from hurting her.

Dororo being accosted by a devilish fiend.
Dororo being accosted by a devilish fiend.

The complete disregard for anything not an oni by Hyakkimaru is starting to bother me. He wasn’t even sure if they encountered neutral spirits or evil ones with a dormant intent, but allowed the harassment of Dororo. The blind priest Biwamaru may be correct in reminding Dororo that she has options, and urging her in subtle ways to plan for the future. Biwamaru, as well as us – the audience, can see the negativity infiltrating Hyakkimaru’s fragile soul.

I wonder what she will do with the money in the end. Dororo cried when thinking about her parent’s sacrifice, so I don’t think she will abandon their life mission just to watch her big bro Hyakki. Either way, I’m excited to see what she chooses, and how that will affect her and whomever else she decides to live by.

Hyakkimaru to Dororo, On to the next adventure...
Hyakkimaru to Dororo, On to the next adventure…

Do you think the map on Dororo’s back was intended to be seen by a lover? What do you think Hyakkimaru’s fate will be? Would you make a pact with a demon? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you. Also be sure to follow us for more anime episode reviews of the spring 2019 season!

See you back here next Monday for another one!

次の巻: Poor Direction Leads to Inconsistency  

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Deception on Buddha’s Mountain Top

Reviewing Episode 13 of the Dororo 2019 anime!

Welcome to my first Dororo review!

As I mentioned in this post, I decided to start reviewing this show in its second cour. I am starting with episode 13, you will not find any prior reviews on this blog. Do you need to catch up with the series? Use this link for a free 30 day Amazon Prime Video trial and support the anime legally.

With that being said, let’s get jump into it!

I guess carrying on with last episodes theme, this weeks could be “eye-deceiving” which “lack in reality or substance or genuineness; not corresponding to acknowledged facts or criteria.”

When shown last week’s flashback, I still can’t help but be annoyed at the irony of Hyakkimaru’s mother. Oku prayed to Kannon for her son’s life each day for seventeen years, even seemingly neglecting her second born son Tahomaru growing up. The mother finally gets to meet the boy and she decides…she’d rather he die to retain the feudal land’s comfort and wealth? That was a total deception on our, the viewers, part as (most of us who had no familiarity with the series) assumed she regretted letting Hyakkimaru go. I personally thought she wanted to reunite with Hyakki and bring him into their household, not side with her son and husband in securing his demise. It totally left a bad taste in my mouth and since Kannon saved Oku, I’m sure we will see more of her before the series ends.

An unspecified time skip shows us that Hyakkimaru has ran himself to near exhaustion after the events near Asakusa. He has not reclaimed any body parts in some time, and that can no doubt be extremely frustrating to him. So much so, that he has decided to speak more – to Dororo’s delight. She must get lonely. I’m glad her character is there to ground him, he has become far too reckless after meeting his family.

This episode revolved around a sculptor named Okaka. With war in the air, his patrons demanded depictions of Fudo Myo-o. Fudo Myo-o (or Acala) is a deity that protects his believers and burns away all “impediments and defilements” that block the way towards enlightenment. The sculptor could not find a suitable face for the deity, and ends up dying in ruin. A demon enters the sacred statue and revives Okaka, changing him from male to female in his new life.

It is quite ironic that Fudo Myo-o protects his followers by clearing obstacles, and a demon enters his statue and reanimates Okaka to prevent him from finding salvation in the afterlife.

The act of stealing faces for the statue who was never satisfied reminded me a lot of Koh, the Face Stealer from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Koh, the Face Stealer from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Only Okaka seems to take it one step further, by putting her victims under a spell while using their loved ones image. Dororo falls under this spell, but then again the little girl finds her mother’s face in many other women in the series. Okaka exploits the child in order to get to Hyakkimaru because she desires his face. Which was…odd. He recently just got his skin back and his ears, but he still doesn’t have eyes.

Would a prosthetic face really be that unique amongst the faces of villagers?

Okaka drugs the pair and after Dororo realizes what is going on, she saves Hyakkimaru. The sculptor then tries to fool a blind man with the face and voice of his mother and is then…surprised that he sees through the genjutsu. Okaka remarks “you’ve never seen your mother’s face before?” in shock that her ‘gift’ didn’t work. I love this show, but I don’t understand why Hyakkimaru would have supposedly fallen for this rouse. Upon their first meeting he isn’t even sure if the woman is human. I don’t understand why the baddie of the week thought he would, it was quite silly.

With death upon her, Okaka realizes the error of her ways and remarks that Dororo’s face is that of a smiling Buddha. Then Dororo deals with the pain of losing her mother all over again.

Towards the end of the episode the two go to an onsen, and meet the blind old man who often shows up in their travels. We then learn of a map Dororo has on her back that looks more like a flower to me.

A map on Dororo’s back.

I am surprised the priestess episodes back (when we learned Dororo’s gender) never said anything. Either way, I’m sure we’ll find out more next week concerning the map and why this show is called Dororo and not Hyakkimaru.

Dororo to Hyakkimaru, On to the next adventure…

Where do you think the map on Dororo’s back leads? Why do you think Okaka couldn’t find the face she was searching for (until seemingly the end)? Do you think Hyakkimaru will get his eyes back soon?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more episode reviews! See you again next Monday!

次の巻: Demonic Pacts Ain’t Easy

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Rebirth in Kimi no Na wa

I wrote this post a very long time ago for another blog I held. I really liked the initial ideas I had, so it will now live here. After recently re-watching Kimi no Na wa, I think I’ll do more theories surrounding it. Shinkai Makoto is one of my favorite directors and this gives me an excuse to revisit all of his works.

小野小町の恋歌の一節。「思いつつ寝(ぬ)ればや人の見えつらむ 夢としりせばさめざらましを」

“Yume to Shiriseba V” – Ono-no-Komachi

I wonder if he appeared in my dream because I fell asleep thinking of him.

I think the basis of Kimi no Na wa is the exploration of adolescence and the bonds we share– whether made organically with friends or spiritually like Taki and Mitsuha. I want to take a different route, and explore the spiritual significance of their bond.

To begin, I want to establish the fact that these events do take place three years after Mitsuha’s death.

By going to the mouth of the god, journeying to the “underworld”, and drinking the kuchikamizake – Taki brought Mitsuha’s timeline back.

If you remember, the “dream sequence” (dream because I’m sure Mitsuha was already dead at that point) the grandmother explains to the girls that they are passing into the underworld to leave half of themselves there, which can be inferred as their souls.

I plan on covering this in later posts, but in Japan sake is believed to have its own spirit. A spirit that has the power to either help the user or harm the user.

One example that comes to mind is the character Gin from Mushishi. 光の流れ [kononagare] or  the river of light was a golden, glistening river of mushi connected throughout the known world. The “kouki” mushi gave life to the forests, the mountains, and even spirited away humans who lost themselves should they indulge in the intoxicating nectar.

Another that comes to mind is the tale of Orochi from the video game, Ōkami. I’ve spoken about this game once before, but it still holds relevant in this context.

A tale of Japanese mythology in its finest, Ōkami tells the tale of Amaratsu, or “Ammy” for short. The sun goddess is reincarnated into a wolf statue and called forth during a time of great turmoil. One hundred years prior to the story, a legendary warrior by the name of Nagi used a special golden sake to intoxicate and kill Orochi.

The 8 Purification Sake rendered the demon weak, and allowed for its own exorcism.

“In exchange for returning to this world, you must leave behind what is most important to you.”

When Taki is presented with crossing the river, the younger sister Yotsuha gleefully crossed the threshold to Kakuriyo [隠り世], the underworld. It is worth mentioning that the location of the shrine is in the middle of a crater. A place of death where the comet last hit.

Grandmother notices that Mitsuha is “dreaming” and Taki wakes up and sees he cannot contact Mitsuha.

Taki sees the girl’s life flash before his eyes and also sees Comet Tiamat split, painted on stones within the god’s mouth. During the Shinto ceremonies that Mitsuha felt were embarrassing, the sisters performed a ritual to make sake. Using their own saliva and chewing rice, they left a “part” of themselves behind in the cave to be called upon should disaster strike. Rivers, streams, and really any body of water serve as purification. Rice is grown in water, and sake is made by distilling and fermenting this product of the earth.

Let’s take a look at Mitsuha and Taki meeting on the mountain, the crater of the past catastrophe, and the ritual.

Mitsuha and Taki meet at Kataware-doki, Tasogare – Twilight; when the sun is setting.

There are historical associations within religions that twilight or dusk brings about differences to the earth – it allows being that cannot exist in light fruition. Think of it as a ‘witching hour’, where supernatural activity is more common for a period of time. They are able to meet in the darkness because it’s a reset. They’ve swapped and we’re in Mitsuha’s timeline – years prior. That’s why Mitsuha in Taki’s body does not leave the edge of the God’s crater, until they switch again. She is not of the world they met in, and only after the switch she is permitted mobility in her realm, her universe, her time line, her world. Again, Taki lost consciousness in the god’s mouth, so he would not wake up back in his timeline if he drank the Musubi [a term for soul, or a bond].

The switch was able to happen between the two due to Mitsuha’s bloodline, and their brief encounter on a train in Tokyo.

“In my next life bring me back as a handsome boy who lives in Tokyo”

As previously mentioned, the high school girl completed a centuries old ritual to leave half of her soul in the God’s Mouth cave. The Great Fire of Mayugoro destroyed any documents relating to the ceremony’s purpose, but its form lived on.

“So the purpose of our festivals became unknown, and only the form lived on. But even if words are lost, tradition should be handed down. That’s the important task we at Miyamizu shrine have.”

The Miyamizu women possessed the ability to merge with another soul, due to the ancient ceremony. This is why Grandma Hitoha accounts “strange happenings” in her youth, and Yotsuha referred to Mitsuha as needing an exorcism when she was “acting funny”.

“Oh, you’re not Mitsuha?”

“You knew, Grandma?”

“No, but watching the way you behaved lately triggered some memories. I also remember seeing strange dreams when I was a young girl. Although I’ve forgotten now whose live I was dreaming about….Treasure the experience. Dreams fade away after you wake up…There were times your mother and I had similar experiences.”

“Maybe those dreams that the Miyamizu people had were all for what would happen today.”

To which Granny Hitoha decides whoever is in her granddaughters body is insane and dismisses the conversation. Which is actual hilarious in the context that she accepts the possession, but does not accept the theory behind the act itself.

“The braids represent the flow of time itself…Musubi- knotting of time”

The Braided Cords of Itomori may have aided in this ability.

In addition to the kuchikamezake ritual, the shrine maidens learned how to weave Kumihimo [組み紐] braids. In Tokyo, Mitsuha gives Taki one such cord. We are all familiar with the East Asian “Red String of Fate” tale in popular media, so I don’t need to recap that in correlation to the girl’s red weaved hairband.

There are a plethora of spiritual gems in this film, but for now I will leave it here. I came across a theory stating that one of the characters from Garden of Words appears in this story, so I would like to investigate Shinkai’s works and confirm any connection for myself.

What do you think Kimi no Na wa was really about? Do you think it could be based on real-life events that are not of public knowledge? Have you read the light novels?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more Shinto analysis in films!

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A Rushed Story Always Fails the Viewer

A Tokyo Ghoul :re 2nd season review. I am not even going to lie, I felt like I was watching Naruto after the first few episodes.

Weeks ago, I spoke about Sui Ishida’s struggle to finish Tokyo Ghoul under the duress of external stresses. The anime industry is bad, and the manga industry is just an uncomfortable extension of that. It is hard enough to write and create a world to bring to life without suits and executives breathing down your neck. Especially if a serialization is scheduled to come out weekly, the stakes grow even higher. Mental toll aside, that amount of stress could really screw with your physical health and give ailments you didn’t even know were possible.

Because the author, or mangaka is now affected – so is the story.

I’m not really sure what happened regarding the anime adaptation’s development other than Studio Pierrot had produced the entire series with revolving directors. Tokyo Ghoul and Root A being Morita Shuuhei, TG:re being Watanabe Odahiro and the spin-off OVA’s TG Jack and Pinto were Shimada Souichi and Matsubayashi Tadahito, respectively.

So…what does this have to do with it?

Different directors have diverse styles and prefer to hire those who would be true to their vision.

There is a general fandom consensus that the original TG adaptation was spectacular, minute faults aside. When √A came around that good sentiment went to hell and the season was subsequently retconned from existence. Then we got :re, which was a jumbled, rushed mess from the start. The fact that we don’t know how to refer to the second half of this series or categorize it is a reflection of this. If season two never existed in Root A, then would :re be the spiritual successor? But that series was then split into two parts with twelve episodes each instead of just a regular twenty-four episode run. Is it a new season aside from itself? Or is it just Tokyo Ghoul 2nd Season as MyAnimeList categorizes it?

Aside from periodically looking up spoilers to any series without lessening the enjoyment of the show, I had already read fan summaries of everything cut out of each episode. Dozens of arcs squeezed into a twenty-four-minute time slot.

Characters came on screen, and almost five seconds later would be dead. Others would be flashed on screen with their ghoul name and ranking class. Sometimes I’d pause the video to head over to the wiki if I were interested enough, other times I’d just turn my brain off and wait until a segment I understood appeared.

I was particularly interested in I believe episode five, where Mado Akira, Touka, and Hinami had a heart to heart about how much of a monster Mado Kureo was. The Touka-Kaneki wedding was also something great to witness, even if the…er…’artistic’ sex scene lasted longer than the ceremony. There was also the cheap slideshow of reaction to what I guess was the after party? It was really vague concerning the timeline and why they were in ceremonial attire one moment and later in plain clothes still being cheered.

I had no clue but went along with it.

I also remember reading that the sex scene in the manga was implied shortly after Touka asked Kaneki if he was a virgin, but it was never shown. Maybe someone on the production team was a really big fan of the couple and wanted to do the ship justice? Or they were an uncontracted animator who came from Goblin Slayer and wanted to spice up the show with a bit of action for the male viewers.

Either way, they conveyed that the scene was of importance for Kaneki’s growth as a person.

After the remaining Anteiku crew and their associates have a degree of happiness, Mitsuki shows up to get his twisted revenge. Which was really a shame that such an interesting character was reduced to being mad senpai didn’t notice them. From what I read, I thought the transgender storyline was something unique that could have been explored in-depth to add more context to the angry slick-haired man trying to murder Touka like a Scooby Doo villain at every turn.

Which while I’m on the subject of bad villains, can I just point out the shift in animation from the first half of :re is so jarring I didn’t know who some of these people even were? I had no clue it was Kaneki in the first episode during my initial watch of the series. Urie Kuki looked completely different and if it weren’t for his…what…cheekbone moles? I would have no clue it was him. Yonebayashi Saiko turned into a complete loli after cutting her hair. Touka during her wedding looked like a character straight out of Princess Mononoke.

I’m not someone who nitpicks animation (especially since I have the artistic abilities of a baked potatoe) but it really took me out of what little immersion the show left viewers who hadn’t fully read the manga.

Despite all of this, I kept watching.

Until… the show turned into Naruto Shippuden with its use of clones, long-winded monologues, and speeches about friendship. I could no longer take it seriously and decided to completely turn my brain off and just withstand the watered down mediocre blink and you’ll miss it fight scenes.

So in the end, what was the point of this review?

I wanted to talk about what a shame it was that this show was rushed. That the manga was rushed to a finish. It was such a unique concept that has now been (arguably) copied in other works (such as Oshimi Shuuzo’s Happiness).

Tokyo Ghoul was unique and wonderful, full of tragedy, regret, and psychological analysis along with the commentary of our current world.  Then Gaia literally got in the way of this story with its own problems to prevent its full potential from being unleashed.

Aside from the anime adaptation, a large chunk of the viewer base who has not yet been lost by the terrible pacing of this installment will not venture on to the manga. They will not care to read the source material. They will not care about going to the Wiki, Reddit or any other online forums to find out what was cut out of the story. People will simply move on, with the impression that this mess was the author’s true intention. I love reading the manga after a series ends, but sadly I must admit I haven’t even waited for the show to end before writing this review. The final episode will air Christmas day and deciding I don’t want to witness the disappointment, I’ve decided to jot down my feelings two days beforehand. The show won’t magically improve in its last episode. I won’t leave the series with a warm fuzzy feeling inside, wondering what is to become of the characters. It will end on an anticlimactic, unsatisfying note.

Which is a complete tragedy.

Update: Touka and Kaneki’s kid Ichika is adorable but she still doesn’t redeem the series for me.

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A Fresh Start for the Series? | Sword Art Online Alicization Review

A promising fresh start for a series that has become synonymous with goofy tropes and character flaws.

I love VR. Or Cyberpunk. Post-Apocalyptic Shenanigans…

Anything to do with encapsulating oneself in a virtual world is something I’d like to see refined in my lifetime. I’ve always been drawn to virtual reality inspired anime, watching the likes of No Game No Life, Log Horizon, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon, and Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash with extreme vigor. Hai to Genso no Gurimugaru [灰と幻想のグリムガル], or Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash seemed to take a similar route as Log Horizon by showing the actual struggles of finding yourself stuck in a virtual world. It should also be applauded for its humanistic approach on taking a life, the stages of grief and how to recover from a severe trauma. If you are into highly realistic plots in your anime, this is one you should not miss.

I could write all day about how great Grimgar was, but this article will be about Sword Art Online [ソードアート・オンライン].

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this on the blog, but I am a huge high-fantasy and science fiction fan. I love series like George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, H.P. Lovecraft’s work (despite his extreme personal flaws as a human being), Grimm’s Fairytales and anything by good old Edgar Allen Poe.  The SAO season one Aincrad Arc was like Christmas to someone like me. The medieval feel of the in-game town mixed with the real world Sci-Fi drama of having your mind trapped in a rouge technology with the risk of death was such a hook.

After that arc, however, things quickly took a turn for the worst. Between the whole incest thing, the almost-rape scene with Asuna Yuuki, and main character Kirigaya “Kirito” Kazuto’s harem I’d had enough.

Back in 2014, I made the mistake of watching a harem cleverly disguised as a sci-fi anime called Brynhildr in the Darkness [極黒のブリュンヒルデ] and have never made that poor choice since. I wanted to gauge my eyes out after completing that series. The sheer fact that a gaggle of women were borderline obsessed with a boring main character to the levels that it affected the storyline’s plot in ridiculous ways irked me to the core. So coming into SAO without the knowledge of Kirito’s harem gave me something akin to war flashbacks.

However, the core story was intriguing and I was very pleased to find out it took place in the same universe as Accel World. There is even a prevalent fan theory that Kirito and Asuna are Kuroyukihime’s parents.  This theory has been shot down regarding all the characters in question because of respective ages, but one can still dream of a connection between the three besides Nerve Gear.

I tuned in for Alfheim Online, Gun Gale Online, (or Phantom Bullet) and watched Mother’s Rosario. I skipped Ordinal Scale and now have returned for Alicization on the currents of good buzz. Other weary watchers expressed skepticism that was met with assurances that there would be none of the nonsense that plagued the past seasons.

The premiere was forty-five minutes long and had a bit of a cold opening. It set up the premise of this season’s story, which will revolve around Kirito testing a new form of VR that uses the soul. He explains to Asuna and Sinon the Soul Translator’s methods and expresses concern over the somewhat shady practices of its creation entity, Rath.

The sequence was fine, but it slightly bothered me that no one said hi to Agil while in his cafe. I’d imagine there was a quick hello while ordering drinks, but for the most part he was stoically shinning glass cups.

Either way, that’s not totally important.

Towards the end of the episode while walking girlfriend Asuna home, Kirito is accosted by the last known member of The Laughing Coffin. If you remember from the first season, they were a guild who enjoyed ‘player killing’ for sport. Johnny Black seemingly comes out of the woodwork to stab our hero with a lethal dose of a drug called succinylcholine, which causes paralysis. The episode ends with Kirito on the ground unconscious from his wounds; the targeted attack area being the implant he conveniently spoke about earlier at the Dicey Café.

Episode two has already premiered, and I’m sure Kirito is fine. He’ll most likely fall into a coma and be transported back into Underworld, the Soul Translator game he was testing. The game seems to have an “Alice in Wonderland” vibe and explores his budding friendship with a resident named Eugeo. It is unclear (as of the season premiere) if Eugeo is an AI aware of their world or remains in ignorance as a player. An interesting aspect of his character was his notice of Alice’s game code while she was being taken away after committing a taboo in their world.

It should be interesting to see how Kirito and Eugeo’s friendship develops, and the exploration of “fluctlight acceleration”. I will definitely be watching and will most likely have a season review at a later time once it concludes.

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If this post got you interested in the series, feel free to check out Sword Art Online 1: Aincrad and Sword Art Online 9 – light novel by using these links. It supports the series and also helps out the site at no additional cost to yourself!

Did you enjoy past seasons of SAO? Do you miss Kirito’s harem? What has been your favorite VMMORPG anime to watch? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us on Twitter, Reddit and Instagram for more updates and reviews!

 

What is Going On with The Tokyo Ghoul: Re Anime?

I at least take comfort in the fact that I am not the only one confused.

Tokyo Ghoul, or Tokyo Kushu:re [東京喰種トーキョーグール:re] is an ongoing anime series that originally began airing in the summer of 2014. It is based on the popular manga by Sui Ishida that produced both TG and it’s continuation, :re.  I initially read a few chapters of the original story, but have yet to finish due to the personal preference of waiting until the anime ends to read and compare the key differences in an adaptation.

The first season adaption of the series remained consistent according to a general fandom consensus. Season two, however, veered off from this severely. The most memorable scene for me will always be Kaneki serving Jason (Yamori) some overdue justice while “Unravel” by TK from Ling Toshite Sigure played in the background.

Tokyo Ghoul √A [東京喰種√A] seemed to have Kaneki Ken join Aogiri Tree, the organization that had kidnapped and tortured him. In the manga, he sided with the Anti-Aogiri group that was set on escaping their imprisonment by the shady group. The underlying basis in this is that Kaneki wanted to protect his friends, while in the anime he did not.

As a non-manga reader, I fully understood this season and even though finding it a bit dull, overall thought it was okay. “Glassy Sky” by Yamada Yutaka (やまだ豊) was an amazing song to listen to during certain scenes. I also really enjoyed the OP, or opening song for that season, even if I am seemingly alone in this. Say what you will about the series, but at least the OST, or official soundtrack is solid.

I caught the first cour of Tokyo Ghoul:re over the spring when it aired. I enjoyed it but was utterly confused with what I was seeing on screen. I had heard from manga readers that season two had pretty much veered off story wise and :re was supposed to essentially retcon it.

As with many things, I am very liberal with spoilers. You could “spoil” a show completely for me down to the last detail, and I would still be able to enjoy it. Sometimes with stories that have been ongoing for a considerable amount of time (ex: Naruto series, Shingeki no Kyojin, etc.) I’ll just look up certain things. Or if an extremely good episode was left on a cliffhanger, I will immediately resort to the manga before the next. I like to think of this practice in my head as ‘situational spoilers’. Plot details I normally would wait for, but just can’t seem to actually want to delay that knowledge.

After patiently sitting through the first cour of :re anticipating Sasaki Haise’s revert back to Kaneki Ken, it all paid off in the final episode. As an anime only watcher, the entire season had consisted of pointless slice of life-esque arcs with members of the CCG. Coming from past seasons, I did not care for any of these people and the anime did nothing to really humanize the bunch. The aura of cold sociopathy still exuded from these people who worked in this sterile desolate white building. The constant hidden and blatant ambitions of social climbing and backstabbing was such a turn off, especially when Kaneki or rather – Haise – would go home to more disrespect and antagonism from his team.

It really pissed me off watching Kaneki’s amnesia and how he was unknowingly interacting and working for those he considered enemies. It could be argued that was the point, but constantly shoving the organization in my face each episode did not allow me to soften to them as one would have hoped to while trying to enjoy the anime.

I especially hated all of the time spent with Quinx Squad. Yonebayashi Saiko and Shirazu Ginshi seemed like decent people, but I absolutely could not stand Urie Kuki. I also could not care much for Mutsuki Tooru, given the spoilers I read about their character.

But I powered through it, because moments with the ghouls of Anteiku made it worthwhile. The moment Haise unwittingly was drawn to the café with his old friends who silently just watched him was truly heartbreaking.

I was even excited to see Tsukiyama Shuu, despite him being a creep in previous seasons.

Then the first episode of the season’s second cour premiered, and it all went out the window once more.

Who is this guy in all black wearing glasses? Is this the Black Reaper character personality people were hype about? Why is he obsessed with arresting Takatsuki Sensei? Okay, why did Yoshimura Eto reveal her secret at the book release? Why can’t most ghouls read books without hiragana? I remember Hinami was really smart, and Touka disguised her true nature to attend high school normally. Why is Kaneki still working for the CCG, didn’t he want to die? Okay, Eto called him Kaneki so that really is Kaneki. Oh, Kaneki is going to free Hinami? Wait, where did his glasses go? Were the glasses just an act?

All jokes aside, episode one was extremely confusing. At least the op was good. TK from Ling Tosite Sigure was singing it again, and given my affection for post-hardcore I couldn’t help but bop my head to it.

Reddit user Gary4067 made a bullet point list of all things skipped in the episode, and it’s pretty tragic. Apparently, it adapted at least nine chapters from the source material.

Coming off the first cour and referencing the wiki, we left off at the Tsukiyama Family Extermination Operation arc. We then are just thrown into the Third Cochlea Raid without (from a manga standpoint) understanding why Kaneki is randomly going rouge. Yes, he did want to die – but the anime showed us him still faithfully working for the CCG even if he did get a little saucy by throwing things during an interrogation. I have no clue what happened to Tsukiyama or the ghouls who came to rescue him during the last cour’s end. No clue why Ayato is also coincidentally trying to raid the Cochlea. Rize is supposedly dead in the series and a figment of Kaneki’s imagination but apparently, she’s alive being held somewhere against her will.  No clue why Eto revealed her true identity to the world. Don’t know why I should care about the causal connections between the Washu clan, Organization V or the CCG but I’m sure it’s something important.

Manga wise, apparently: Eto revealed her identity as the popular author and the One-Eyed Owl at an Aogori Tree meeting or something but was overheard, so decided to reveal it to the public.  Rushima Island was being raided by the CCG, so Ayato (kinda?) decided to ambush the Cochlea along with AT members. Kaneki’s memories of being held prisoner in the facility after his defeat by Arima were not touched upon. Some background on Rize’s childhood was also missing.

If this was confusing to read, it is because even with explanations and spoilers I am still a bit jumbled as to what is going on in the series.

Animators in Japan are notoriously overworked, and Studio Pierrot has a history of questionable quality when it comes to their shows. Certain episodes of Naruto Shippuden and The Legend of Korra come to mind.  There seems to be a new director in charge of this season who lots of fans don’t seem to have a lot of faith in.

I am not sure if the production team is channeling the mangaka’s urge to be finished with the series, but for whatever reason, they are rushing it to the point of complete incoherence. Maybe it is budgeting issues, maybe there is a lack of leadership – we as watchers will never really know the true issue unless an insider spills the beans. But whatever the problems are, I wish the pacing would slow down just a bit in order to make sense and properly introduce characters. When a key character to the manga plot is introduced but on screen watchers are not given nor shown context as to why they should care, they tend to lose interest. I did not give a single damn about the man who was possibly killed while trying to defend Rize. I say possibly because the fight’s conclusion was too vague to show us his fate. Almost as vague as to why he was introduced randomly in the first place.

Either the studio needed to order more episodes to explain certain plot points, or it should have been adapted and condensed more fairly. I just wish I knew why Tokyo Ghoul Re is really this bad. Actually, Re and Root A both seemed to be a complete mess in retrospect.

I will continue to watch because frankly, I seem to enjoy scraps at this point, but I will be sure to read the manga once this season ends. For those of you also interested in reading it, Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 1 can be purchased legally using the link at no additional cost to yourself.

How do you feel about the series adaptation as a whole? Are you a manga reader, anime watcher only, or a mixture of both? Do you think the Tokyo Ghoul:re “Call to Exist” video game will be better than the entire tv show?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Reddit for more anime reviews and updates!

A New Breed of Tokyo Vampire | Devils Line Anime Review

You know how sometimes you’ll watch an anime, and the beginning is kinda crap? Like you don’t understand what is going on, the pacing is weird and the animation seems wonky? But you don’t want to judge an anime by its OP, so you continue on and actually enjoy the episode and then at the very last moment – boom – the show decides to tell you to go screw yourself? That was my experience watching Devils Line. Read on.

A lot happened as I watched this anime. A churning, erratic cycle of thoughts flooded my mind within the first ten minutes. I had no clue what was going on; I could not find a cohesive link between the two seemingly different stories I viewed on screen. My mind drifted to snarky remarks of how this may be the ‘poor man’s Tokyo Ghoul’. The mental trek continued toward associations with the Twilight franchise and Oshimi Shuuzo’s Happiness. I wondered if my interest in the episode would pick up.

Devils Line [デビルズライン] is a spring 2018 anime. It is one of several shows taking on the ‘a terrible creature is terrorizing the residents of Tokyo’ theme. Does that make it bad? No, not at all. What makes it curious, is its set up.

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So the episode begins with this strange red tinged sequence of a vampire slaughtering innocent people under a full moon. I’m sure the red overlay was meant to convey the feelings of panic, fear, and anxiety in all of those being shown on screen. There were screams of agony with this sound of wind blowing through a funnel. Rewatching the scene as I write, I still can’t really tell if this is supposed to show Anzai (who we meet later) or some random vampire who is later caught in the episode. I’m sure it truly is clear, but it’s just not registering to me.

I heard that in the manga it is immediately clarified, but alas…

We are then introduced to Taira Tsukasa, a university student who realizes that she is being stalked by a man with terrible bags under his eyes. There have been ‘vampiric killings’ around their prefecture that are only covered by conspiracy websites. One person who seems overly dismissive of the killings is Akimura, a close friend to Tsukasa who also happens to be in love with her.

(In a very, very creepy obsessive Lifetime Movie way)

The two subplots of the vampire killings intertwine and culminate when Akimura is walking Taira home. They discuss his apparent off-screen confession shortly before the start of the series, and he seems to get adamant about her possibly considering him as a potential lover. No matter how long it may take. Red flags doing the hula in front of Pride Rock a la Timon and Pumbaa style aside, I felt more uneasy with their interactions than Anzai’s apparent hero-stalking.

Akimura gets a bad feeling and Tsukasa tells him about her stalker. The two decide to run away from the brightly lit, high foot traffic area with tons of witnesses to a dark, secluded back street. The gloomy background animation style seems to have taken combined pages out of Another, Dusk Maiden of Amnesia and Aku no Hana’s manual on how-to-creep-out-your-audience with a foreboding atmosphere in otherwise pleasant places.

At some point the two embrace, and Akimura decides now is the perfect time to let his freak flag fly. He seems to get overly excited and begins to sniff Tsukasa’s hair. Rightfully so, she pushes him away. Then Anzai, her other stalker, decides to show up. But since he stalks for good, it’s perfectly fine.

Anzai confronts the source of the unsolved murders. Akimura decides to say that he assaulted and murdered those three innocent women out of love for Tsukasa; she gets misty-eyed. Tsukasa tells him that he should have just told her he was an inhuman monster who may have secretly lusted for her blood. I believe she would have accepted him. I guess this is a nice gesture seeing as how they were very good friends, but the logical part of my brain can’t seem to not be creeped out by his actions.

Maybe my own past experiences are coloring my interpretation of this episode, but I just thought he was a really deplorable character.

This is coming from someone who enjoys psychological thrillers with a perverse passion. I am an avid fan of the Killing Stalking manhwa due to its exploration of mental illness and societal taboo. Mr. Robot, Death Parade, 13 Reasons Why, Pan’s Labyrinth, Alias Grace, The Red Road, Dark Mirror (somewhat – I find some episodes incredibly boring and I can’t get enough of others…It is a very mixed bag for me). Anything that is film noir or neo-noir, I will adore it. This is the case with many other sources of media that examine outliers to the accepted norms that govern our world.

I do (on some level) understand that Akimura did what he did because in his mind, he was protecting the woman he loved. I also can understand Tsukasa’s reasoning for wanting to accept a man that has never harmed her and seemed to deeply care for her. But do I myself have to accept it? Absolutely not.

The series goes completely down the drain after that (for me) when Anzai takes Tsukasa home. Since he’d been hero-stalking her, he had a broad sense of where she lived and correctly guessed her apartment number. The two have a somewhat heartfelt conversation about the nature of ‘demons’ and how humans could never co-exist with them. Anzai then notices that the victim is bleeding after he shoved her onto the hard, concrete street earlier in an effort to…urge her to run away? Which then ended with her injuring her leg and thus bringing us to the current situation.

Anzai decides to vampire it up and instead of trying to bite her neck, starts full out tongue kissing her? After we just had the conversation about how violation and murder are bad, and demons and humans shouldn’t mix? MyAnimeList seems to list him as a half-vampire, so I guess he is exempt from his own cryptic advice. As he is forcing his tongue down her throat, a hip J-Poppy love song begins to play and the credits roll. I laugh uncontrollably between inhalation of oxygen wondering what I just watched.

It seems the two begin a forbidden relationship a la Bella and Edward style. There is also a character that is the spitting image of a young Victor Nikiforov. Apparently, his name is Johannes Kleemann, no doubt he is probably from the UK or Europe.

(After writing this, I tuned into episode two based on a dulled sense of curiosity. Moreso to try and find closure after the hodgepodge of a twenty-three-minute episode I sat through. I found no such closure. It’s a bit depraved for the sake of depravity, but I won’t knock the anime based on my own perceptions of its storyline thus far. Also our female lead might have the absolute worst luck in the history of any vampire anime I’ve ever seen.)

If this post got you interested in the series, feel free to check out Devils’ Line Vol. 1 by using that link. It supports the series and also helps out the site at no additional cost to yourself!

Have you watched this show yet? Or read the Devils’ Line manga by Hanada Ryou? What is your take on the ‘monster in Tokyo’ genre that seems to have re-emerged in recent years? (I mean, I know Godzilla was really the kaiju that made it popular, but anime has had a lot of creatures terrorizing big cities lately)

Leave your thoughts in the comments, I would love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us on Twitter, Reddit and Instagram for more updates and reviews!