The Battle for Shiganshina District!

Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Episode 13 Review!

Welcome to my Attack on Titan Season 3 part 2 Episode 1 (or 13) Review!

Just to start out, I should mention that after part 1 ended, I read the manga up until a certain point. So for the most part (unless the adaptation deviates) I already know what is going to happen. I was nervous while watching thinking it would diminish my enjoyment, but thankfully it only enhanced it. It’s always fun seeing a manga you enjoy be adapted; watching the characters come to life.

We were even greeted with the usual monologue from Armin detailing the events that lead them to this point. I will try my best not to spoil anything for anime-only watchers. With that being said, let’s get back into it!

So I’m not even going to lie, I meant to rewatch the earlier portion of the season but ended up just skimming its last episode as a refresher.

The survey corps is on a mission to re-Wall Maria with Eren’s new hardening ability. Within Shiganshina District lies Dr. Yeager’s basement, along with the secrets of their world. I am curious how long they will focus on the retrieval mission, and its aftermath since we only have ten episodes.

Anyway, ever sharp – Armin realizes that their arrival was foreseen, and alerts Erwin. Due to his past actions, Armin is given a position of power and leads the search for Reiner, Bertholdt and the ape titan Zeke. Might I add that while typing this, I have My Anime List open for the spelling of everyone’s names but in my laziness to expand the characters section I googled Bertholdt.

Bertholdt x Reiner BL Results...
Bertholdt x Reiner BL Results…

Why are the first results yaoi uke BL ships?

Nothing against it, just unexpectedly hilarious that this is the first thing people search for. I myself would rather Historia/Krista x Ymir, but I digress…

Upon following Armin’s plan, a random officer finds and is killed by Reiner. Levi tries to murder him right on the spot, but Reiner does a super-secret titan move where he moves his life functions from his brain to his nervous system or something to that effect. It’s been a while since I read the manga.

Levi then explains to the audience and cadets that he failed because Reiner did his super-secret titan move and for once, I actually am happy I understand that bit of information before the explanation.

I usually go in blind, it was nice having background context for a change.

Any who, Bertholdt stays hidden in conjunction with the plan while Zeke destroys Eren and friends’ escape route. Reiner Titan’s up and sets the stage for next week’s elaborate battle sequence. I am excited to see the effects of the battle on Reiner’s psyche, who proves to be unstable…I also love that Armin has a new role in the story. Since Mikasa is the brawn and Eren is the (unreliable) muscle, Armin had yet to have a defined role. Sure, he has been the brains of many operations but he finally has the authority and clout he needs to enact those brilliant strategies.

This episode was just set up so I don’t have anything else to say, but that I’m looking forward to next week’s battle continuation!

Do you think Eren will win the battle against Reiner? What is your theory behind the secrets of the walls? Do you think Levi could take out Zeke? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Reviews!

See you back here same time next week!

次のエピソード: The Beast Titan Blocks an Escape Route! 

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Poor Direction Leads to Inconsistency

Reviewing Episode 15 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 14 review here!

I found out on Reddit that this episode had a different director. Apparently this director will not have any more involvement in the show, and he is also credited with “ruining” episode four of Gurren Lagann.

It felt like the original plot was lost in favor of edgy jump cuts, pans, and experimental animation that had not been previously shown. Which is fine to switch it up, but not if it affects the story negatively.

Given the past cour’s attention to detail and respect for its characters, I could not focus on what was happening in this episode. We were not allowed to see the expressions on Hyakkimaru or Dororo’s faces, and there was this persistent awkwardness of their motivations.

Hyakkimaru and foe, Episode 15, 2019
Hyakkimaru and foe, Episode 15, 2019

Clearly, Hyakkimaru is being corrupted by the darkness within his spirit. That is nothing new however, there has been abundant foreshadowing and Biwamaru gives cryptic warnings every time he runs into the pair. Dororo had been getting fed up and needed a catalyst to motivate her to find her father’s fortune, but not like this. It came out of left field that she would be this upset over a random podunk village.

Sure, they had been kind to her but at what expense does that kindness nullify their actions? They murdered an entire convent with children and lied to gain sympathy. Using this sympathy, Sabame and his villagers systematically isolated and murdered countless other travelers all for their gain. Dororo blames herself for the destruction of the village, but they were their own undoing.

Maimai-onba’s baby flew into the lookout tower and knocked into the torch, causing the thatch roofing to light up like a tinderbox. And where was Maimai-onba? In the ocean, hiding as her husband and their community burned to the ground. The demon had a sinister smile in last week’s episode when Sabame vowed to protect them, which (unsurprisingly) foreshadowed that he was being used. The oni exploited his love for his people and the dire circumstances surrounding them.

The only good thing I see coming out of this is that Dororo may have an idea of what type of community she would like to build in the future. I don’t think the little lady will be tempted by these otherworldly forces, especially after seeing the effects firsthand.

Hyakkimaru received a body part this episode, although I didn’t expect it to be his spine. I’m surprised he has been able to function thus far, with spools of thread and twine holding up his core. I also have no clue when he had the time to make an interim prosthetic leg and tour the destruction of the village with Dororo before they went their separate ways.

Again, the pacing was super off.

Dororo, Episode 15, 2019.
Dororo, Episode 15, 2019

Hyakkimaru was so lost in grief over his familial ties he failed to notice Dororo was no longer there. We received a random training montage with Tahomaru and his charges. No doubt the two brothers will fight once more, although once Hyakki receives his eyes he may feel differently about revenge. If he could see the enemies he faces, it would scare him. Hyakkimaru would have to rely on his intuition rather than seeing the make of a person’s soul. Things would become less white and red, so to speak.

Ah, I wish I could say I enjoyed this episode but I didn’t.  I’m not one who cares about animation quality usually but my gosh did it ruin this week’s tale…

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

How do you think Itachi got the second half of the map? How will Hyakkimaru find Dororo? Do you think it was the village’s fault they are suffering, or the dynamic duos? 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!

See you back here next Monday for another one!

次の巻: Dropping Expectations for an Anime Series

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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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The Hero’s Journey in Animation

I’d been meaning to watch this for a while now. I should have had this review completed back when The Dragon Prince came to AFNYCC, but alas – sometimes the things we intend are just not so.

When I heard that season two would premiere on Netflix February 15th, I knew I had to get at it.

And boy, it did not disappoint.

The Dragon Prince takes place in the far off lands of Xadia, where magic rules within six primordial sources. Or at least, it did until one human eons ago decided to create a new energy source: dark magic. The mage gone rogue is implied to have ruined the natural balance for all, causing the Elven citizens along with other magical folks to split the kingdom.

In the latest schism, the dragon guardian of the border had its heir murdered. As this creature only hatches once every thousand years, the magical kingdom seeks revenge on the human king and his heir – Ezran.

This is where our story begins.

Let me just say that the Avatar: the Last Airbender nostalgia hit me hard. I’ve been meaning to rewatch that series, especially with the oddly timed announcement of the live-action Netflix adaptation. I don’t want to make too many comparisons to the show because it is its own separate entity, but seeing Claudia reading “Love Amongst the Dragons” in episode one really gave me a good laugh.

For those of you who don’t remember, Prince Zuko’s mother, Ursa, enjoyed taking her family to see the Ember Island Player’s rendition each year when he was young. According to Zuko, they always botched it.

Aside from ATLA head writer Aaron Ehasz creating and producing the show, we also have Jack De Sena (ATLA’s voice of Sokka) playing Ezran’s half-brother, Callum. Director Giancarlo Volpe is also on the executive production team.

Taken from Tumblr User kaf-kaf-kaf

Arron Ehasz and his wife Elizabeth Welch Ehasz were arguably the driving force behind the ideas that lead to what made ATLA so memorable. A feminist Katara who had a strong sense of justice, a strong-willed Toph who could take on any foe and ( was arguably) stronger because she was blind. An emotionally complex Prince Zuko, and a Princess Azula who was the prodigal younger sibling instead of a male brother.

“10-Year Anniversary” Interview with Newsweek, 07/19/2018
“10-Year Anniversary” Interview with Newsweek, 07/19/2018

The married duo just may have saved the show from being one-dimensional characters with no depth…or whatever it is the characters devolve to in the graphic novels.

On ATLA’s future, IGN 06/09/2007

Sadly, team Ehasz did not join the production team for The Legend of Korra. I will not solely blame Bryke for the low favorability of that sequel series as Nickelodeon played a huge part. I will say, that they were allegedly talked out of the Aang – Katara – Male Toph love triangle in the first series and without surmountable opposition, we got the horrible Asami – Mako – Korra nonsense for at least three books in LOK.

But, enough about that. Let’s go back to the human kingdom of Katolis.

The show seems to be following the Hero’s Journey formula along with its TV Tropes.  I wonder if they will diverge from this in season two.

Let me explain:

Popularly coined by Joseph Campbell, The Ten-Phase Formula of the Hero’s Journey is something most fantasy epics follow. Lord of the Rings is one series that comes to mind. Harry Potter is another contemporary example of this. Anything that features an orphan is also a typical archetype in this genre.

I am not going to delve too deeply into the exploration of these themes since with my writing style, we’d be here all day. Instead, I am just going to point out what I consider as interpretations of these stages, or passages.

The 10 stages can be interpreted as followed:

I. Beginning and Breach

This is an introduction of the world. In the shows first few minutes, the world’s current issues and history (war with Xadia, dark magic) are explained. The breach serves as a catalyst of current events: so the “death” of the dragon egg, of the Dragon Queen, and the old world’s status quo. All of this causing the moonshadow elves to seek immediate revenge.

II. Departure

With the death or departure of the old world’s status quo (the dragon and its heir, King Harrow’s rule) there is a departure, or journey of the hero to reestablish homeostasis. The young Princes Callum and Ezran are forced to leave their home in an attempt to not be completely overtaken by the new order – i.e. die. In this stage magic is introduced to the core plot of the story, hinting at a new beginning or metamorphosis. Rayla joins the group and proceeds to tell stories of Xadia, Callum learns he is a mage and capable of sorcery.

III. Outerspace or the Forest

The journey into another realm or state that has laws and regulations foreign to the old world. I will view this interpretation a bit more loosely, as the trio travels by land and by river. River or water symbolism in general aside (a source of life, rebirth and constant motion in itself) Rayla has not traveled much by water and dislikes it. She also has to play the villain at the winter lodge in the woods. This begins her proverbial journey of becoming the “embodiment” of the “villain” or “outsider” which in turn, makes it easier for her to adapt to Katolis’ customs and perceptions when later entering the other human kingdom’s village.

Rayla adjusts to the human mode of transport, and upon seeing it was not difficult allows herself to boldly “blend in” once more. The boys likewise learn the propaganda at play surrounding the magical residents of Xadia and how to travel through the forest and hike up mountains. They learn to traverse in the forest as Rayla has. They also leave their human food – bread – behind, which besides the tracking plot point for Viren’s kids (or the assassin), leaves Ezran and Callum open to tasting food native to Rayla’s nation.

IV. Secret Society

The descent up the creepy mountain. This is the hero’s entrance into the otherworld, where mythic and primordial beings of cosmic balance reside. A place similar to ATLA’s spirit world, with figures that have “a shadowy look, ghostly ability to disappear and reappear across space, magic powers”. Think of the imaginary spider that leapt across time and space. The Dune-esque creature that drains blood from its victims. Rayla’s vision or hallucination of the mummified corpse speaking.

“The secret societies are the gatekeepers of the mysterious world, ensuring that the undeserving doesn’t pass.”

On the mountain underneath the tree, we are able to meet Lujanne, the Elven illusionist who literally admits these psychological barriers are a way to keep the mountain safe from those who seek to do it harm. In order for the heroes to meet her, they have to go through trials and persevere to prove their intent.

“By trying and improvising, the hero must discover the language of communication with the groups of unknown beings.”

Ezran reveals that he is an empath and can communicate with animals and other beings. He realizes the illusion for the benefit of the group and helps them advance onward.

“If the hero passes all the tests, meet all the challenges, and solves all the riddles, he or she is accepted, hence gaining a temporary community…”

Lujanne tells the trio the conditions a dragon needs to hatch, and Callum is able to conjure them using the storm orb. Once Azymondias hatches, Rayla is “rewarded” by the mythic universe and freed from her bonds by her lands protector. I also find it interesting that the pact was made just before the full moon, and was released again under the moon in different circumstances.

V. Taboo and Violation

This phase relies heavily again on the “symbolic forest” but also can include mountains, which I’d like to focus on. Basically, let’s consider Claudia’s spell in the cave turned underground cavern basis for this explanation. As that can literally be considered her conducting dark magic in an underworld – or underground before climbing to the highest peak with Soren.

“Many barriers shield the path toward new knowledge, which must be protected. Falling into the wrong hands, it may damage the Homeworld.”

So, let’s talk about Mr. Evil McEvil pants, the dark sorcerer himself – Viren. From offering King Harrow an asp a la Cleopatra’s death, to sucking the life force out of magical butterflies, to stealing souls and imprisoning them in currency (is he collecting for Charon, who ferries the departed?), to sowing seeds of doubt through subtle manipulation of his children to pin them against one another…this dude is evil.

He even looks like an undead corpse after stealing Runaan’s soul. Maybe this denotes the price high leveled dark energy propagates? An unnatural balance of one’s spirit in a Voldemort horcrux sort of way; which is why the Xadians were so against it.

I’m all over the place currently writing for this site, trying to get my other (author) site off the ground, and working on books. Hopefully though, I can explore phases six through ten in another post and speculate on the story (and my headcanons) further before Season 2 premieres. The remaining phases are:

VI. Punishment/Abyss: Death and the Dragon

VII. Otherstate/Dream

VIII. Donation or Sacred Instruction

IX. Reward and Return

X. Incorporation and Bliss

This has been a lot of fun tonight, albeit me trying to cut down details due to a pre-desired length for this post. I also might post something tomorrow regarding thoughts on diversity and accurate portrayals of this world that I planned on adding to this post, but it didn’t flow well enough.

Also, if you hadn’t noticed, Rayla is my favorite character. From her lovely Scottish accent to her Naruto run, I find the moonshadow elf quite endearing. I am also super excited to see Xadia, which Rayla makes out to be quite beautiful. Hopefully for one reason or another, it hasn’t been destroyed or its entry been blocked by the time the trio visits. Or, there isn’t another conspiracy to make the dragon prince disappear on their end….either way, I will be tuning in to watch!

Do you also find yourself comparing The Dragon Prince to Avatar: The Last Airbender, or other shows like Voltron? What do you think General Amaya signed at her sister’s memorial? Did you find any of the show’s easter eggs? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more animated show reviews!

Book referenced and quoted: Fictional Worlds: Traditions in Narrative and the Age of Visual Culture by L.A. Alexander.

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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When Art Imitating Life is Utterly Effective

Jesus Christ be praised! Kingdom Come Deliverance is the historical RPG you’ve been missing in your life.

I’ve always liked video games. When I was younger, I owned almost every game system there was. Sega, Nintendo, PS, Gameboy, Wii, etc. you name it – I had it. As I got older, however, things changed and I didn’t have as much leisure time for gaming. The last major system I purchased was a PlayStation 3 in 2010 during my senior year of high school. I know this because I found the receipt for the console recently while cleaning my room in anticipation for the New Year. I also brought a Nintendo 3DS in college to play Pokémon Sun and Animal Crossing: New Leaf but I don’t really count that as they just took the edge off while I was stressing during finals.

I’ve since not even touched that portable console.

The game I played most often was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I’d actually wanted Bioshock Infinite, but the clerk at Game Stop talked me into purchasing a bundle. So I did.

I had watched most of the game in a walkthrough by TheRadBrad and stopped at a certain point because I wanted to try myself. This was also around the time he started cheesing his fanbase by uploading 10-15 minute videos to make more money from ads, so needless to say I was a bit put off by his new methods.

I played the first mission of the game and after a while got…bored. It was strange, I thought it would be the best thing since sliced bread but I just couldn’t care for it. I popped Skyrim into the PS3 and haven’t looked back since.

I am a HUGE fan of medieval historical fantasy. Or even historical realism. I adore period dramas and anything that features castles and kingdoms. I adore the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, relish watching shows like The Last Kingdom (which recently got renewed for Season 4!) and Downton Abbey (and its lot). I was sucked into the world and silently clucked to myself “damn it, Todd Howard got me again” each time I brought a new iteration of the game or a DLC that I really didn’t need but wanted and therefore – had to have.

Things had luckily changed for me in 2018, and I had the ability to not spend every single dime I earned on transportation, bills, and groceries and could indulge in small luxuries and hobbies after years of yearning. I purchased mainly books, or attended conventions, sometimes opting to buy tasty Japanese snacks or try a new restaurant. Other times I would just visit a new location for a day or explore a park I’d never been in. It had been lovely.

With the change of the weather I couldn’t go out much anymore comfortably, and decided to focus on buying a PS4 before the holidays ended; especially with the announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3 and multiple supporting trailers so we all collectively knew it wasn’t a fever dream onset by ten years of waiting for the ultimate greatness to come. I mean, yes the games have been still coming out but the story is so damn convoluted and no one had money to keep purchasing new systems just to play the newest installment in the series. Then there was the fact that the Final Mix games with actual content would not be released outside of Japan.

Then it was decided to release the FM games in some sort of shady attempt to grab more money from the fandom starved of any new and tangible information to the main story or its characters. I own Chain of Memories on the Gameboy Advance SP. To eat away at my feelings of inadequacy, I also purchased some of the manga for the series at Barnes and Noble and read those instead of pinning after games I knew I would never play. I did end up buying the Final Mixes when they were released for the US, but the experience felt cheapened, somehow.

Around Black Friday (which is the huge discounted sale day after Thanksgiving for those of you outside of the US) retailers and outlets began advertising the PS4 Slim for a slashed price. At first, it was just supposed to be Target, but other retailers did it early than expected and I went insane. I didn’t have another paycheck coming that soon and frantically called stores to see if they could hold the rapidly selling out product. I even kept tabs on websites and would get sad when I refreshed and seen the dreaded “out of stock” listed below the PlayStation.

Eventually, I woke up super early one morning when I did have money and ordered it on Walmart’s website. I went back to bed for a few hours and checked again after waking to see that it was sold out. On Black Friday, the system was delivered and I felt like I was back in the age of technology. I set it up and the first thing I did was open Netflix to watch season 3 of Frontier with my mom.

I missed the option to buy Assassins Creed: Odyssey on sale, so I opted to purchase The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition (I know, I know – but this one had mods! Albeit not as many as Microsoft or PC because Sony enjoys sucking the fun out of everything…but mods! And dynamic lighting! Yeah!) and a medieval RPG I still wanted despite all of the questionable things I’d heard – Kingdom Come Deliverance.

Jesus Christ be praised!

Obviously, not Jesus Christ.

I fell so far into the Holy Roman Empire’s Bohemia it is not even funny. After the holiday I had a health scare and wasn’t able to do much each day. I would get up, crack open my laptop and write a few things and then shut it and go back to my room to lie down. After a week of this, I decided to play the game instead of starting another Skyrim file that would take up all of my time.

And it was amazing.

I spend from morning into the late night running around the in-game town doing errands, reading the codex and learning everything I could about this completely immersive world. Then after a few days – I realized I was still in the prologue. I stayed up one night, drinking water and eating dates, and powered through the prologue to fully experience what the open world had to offer. I was neglecting my website and other writing duties, but as I still hadn’t felt well I let myself just enjoy something for once.

I loved how realistic the game was. Meaning, I couldn’t half ass anything.

I’ll be honest, my Henry of Skalitz was an absolute loser in the beginning. I couldn’t ride a horse to run away from enemies, I couldn’t jog to a new quest without running out of stamina, holding a sword? Lol forget about it. It infuriated me when the horse would get stuck in the tiniest of streams because I couldn’t handle it well. Or that I couldn’t pick a lock or even knock out an enemy. I had no armour and the enemies that did would rightfully kick my ass. Only I couldn’t black out, because that meant losing progress because I couldn’t afford to purchase Savior Schnapps and I was nowhere near one of the games various automatic save points in the story. I couldn’t read to even brew the potion for this alcoholic drink, and since I didn’t have money for a bath I was dirty and no one wanted to talk to me.

Warhorse Studios really went there. And they went there all the way.

It made you commit to the story and turning the son of a blacksmith into someone who could at least handle a sword. Ride a horse. Afford food for breakfast so he didn’t starve. Someone who had a place to sleep at night.

Slowly, but surely, young Henry made his way through the world. He made friends, learned skills, and the story progressed in a way that felt natural. No one gives a shit about you in the beginning. There is no sympathetic character who tries to help you out of the goodness of their hearts. Well, I take that back. There is Lady Stephanie, Sir Divish’s wife but she seemed to have…a lack of heirs and…ahem…other motives for her kindness.

But everyone else wants something, and you either have to trade or compromise. Or if you’re like me, woo them with your fancy speech options and book-learning.

This game really made it for me when I kept failing this one questline over and over again for literal hours. “Getting Runt” was quickly becoming a pain and I was at my wit’s end. I couldn’t just eat blocks of cheese mid-battle or drink marigold concoction to heal my health – because that is not realistic. I couldn’t fix my armor mid-fight because at the time I attempted this I didn’t even have armor and I somehow thought that would be okay and that I wouldn’t get my skull cracked open and bleed out in a gutted old upper floor of a cathedral.

Why did I think I could best an enemy with more strength than me, a great set of armour and a nasty attitude towards life would easily go down because I was the hero?

The unremarkable hero that didn’t even have enough strength to wield a sword, didn’t possess knowledge of combos or even have two groschen to rub together and had been eating out of community pots up until this point to not faint and die.

Kingdom Come Deliverance takes your expectations of what an RPG is and turns it on its head. You would not magically possess and display the abilities you needed to survive in a life or death situation. You would simply just die. And no one would care, because you were not remarkable or well-known.

You would be mourned, but you’re not far enough into the storyline at this point to understand why. I’d just all be for nought.

After displaying clear signs of insanity, I decided to reload an earlier save before I even attempted this battle. I went to train with Sir Bernard, a man who will pumble you until you get the combos right. Until you learn the in-game battle system and its rules. Until you build up your strength, stamina, agility, warfare and general knowledge.

So I trained. I learned. I fought the bandits who jumped me for being foolish enough to travel at night and think I would be untouchable. I took their armour, selling some, fixing a lot more to wear. I purchased a sword, a Needle to stick them with the pointy end. I started saving up to buy a horse so I no longer had to travel on foot. I spoke to people, a lot of folks to improve my speech and unlocked new conversation options. I learned how to hunt, which helped Henry learn how to hold a bow. I traveled across the map, meeting new people and seeing friendships being formed.

Then I went back to that mission I was stuck on, poisoned my blade with bane and hit that big brute square in the face three good times and cued the cutscene that signaled the end of that mission. I just sat back and laughed, feeling accomplished for the first time in years while playing a video game.

I put in the work, and it paid off.

I was also now respected and taken seriously as Henry’s life began taking a turn for the better. The game truly started now, and I had a front seat to how I wanted to shape the world based on the skills I had to learn in real life. The combat system, the recipes for potions, and how to investigate a situation to end a quest without violence. Search around the actual world to find things to help the character of Henry out.

It was so rewarding. Truly.

Beating the game two days ago I just sat for a while and watched the credits roll. I completed the epilogue and then took to Reddit to find out if more story was to come, if there were DLCs or a third act planned. The newest DLC, Band of Bastards, will have the first mission streamed on WarHorse Studio’s Twitch account tomorrow on January 2nd. I’ll definitely be tuning in. Also, a well-placed Twitter photo seems to allude to more story to come concerning the cliffhanger we were left on, so I will be keeping tabs on that.

So where have I been this past December? I was stuck in Bohemia, turning a black smith’s son into a distinguished war veteran and private investigator. I was smiling like a fool, being damn proud of a bunch of 1s and zeros. All the while being thankful that there are so many different mediums available for storytelling and optimistic of what the future holds in the realm of technology.

Kingdom Come Deliverance is a good game. If you enjoy RPGs with historical context, be sure to give it a go and don’t be frustrated if at first, you do not succeed. Try, and improve your methods of approach. Only then can you attain mastery, when you keep trying at something despite failing over and over again. Hard work is what builds character, and this is what KCD has shown flawlessly.

Where to Find the Game for computer: Steam

Now is the best time to purchase Kingdom Come Deliverance’s Royal Edition – PS4 Xbox
Console editions include the Treasures of the Past, From the Ashes, The Amorous Adventures of Sir Hans Capon, Band of Bastards and A Woman’s Lot DLC.


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