Opening Songs
OP 1 - Your Voice Becomes A Map (Saori Hayami)

Ending Songs
ED 1 - Page~The Story I Weave with You (eyelis)

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Episodes: 12

Another day another round of fairy tales and out fair share of snow whites. "Akagami No Shirayuki-Hime" is a romance show that I probably would have no business watching, but here I am anyway. The romance, medieval feel and pretty boys make their triumph return, in a second season that furthers the relationship between Shirayuki and Zen....except this time around, the focus isn't really there from the get go. Instead of building up the relationship between our two main characters, season 2 brings in more interesting and unique characters that get their fair share of relevance, making it a much more diverse experience this time around. Fans of the series should expect more of what we got in season 1, though if you're looking for a more conclusive act to the buildup between Zen and Shirayuki, you might be slightly disappointed. So fasten your seat belts and get ready for some anime romance tropes!

Honestly, Kiki needs more screen time.

The opening and ending theme of season 2 are relatively similar to those in season 1. The opening theme is "Your Voice Becomes A Map" by Saori Hayami, the seiyuu of the main character, Shirayuki. Its a simple and soothing opening theme that surely fits the show. The ending theme is "Page~The Story I Weave with You" by eyelis, which is a slow ballad that is quite easy to lose yourself into.

Rating: 7.5/10

The first half of season 2 is honestly pretty good compared to its second half. The story picks off after that of season 1, where our main heroine is forced to go into her old kingdom to mingle with the Prince Raji. The style and story progression here is very similar to that of season 1, much to the point where its almost easy to see what's coming. The characters here are yet again, a strong point of the series, with newcomers and old characters both having great dialogue paired with great character development (especially Raji). The story also takes a more serious turn for the season's 1st half which I enjoy a whole lot. The show takes a lot of bold step forward without taking too much risks, which is why the 2nd half of the season pales a bit in comparison to that of the stronger first half. Still, its fun to see these characters grow, though the show never really takes that extra step to solidifying the relationship between Shirayuki and Zen (if you're looking for that here, then I apologize).

Things get real snappy in the first half.

Following the events of season 1, Shirayuki continues to stay in the castle as an apprentice herbal biologist whilst seeing prince Zen and his closest confidents daily. The 2 still hold their feelings for one another strongly, but because of Prince Izana's presence and the fact that Zen has lots of work piled up, the time they spend with one another has decreased greatly. While the 2 still obviously love each other, a rift has started to form. This is further amplified when Shirayuki is to return to her old kingdom to seek an audience with prince Raji, and that she can only bring one attendant to accompany her. Instead of Zen going, he sends Obi, since he can't leave the kingdom of Wistaria at the moment. And thus Shirayuki returns to her own kingdom to meet the very man that sent her out of it in the first place...

While the show concludes nicely, it still lacks a firm relationship confirmation between Shirayuki and Zen, which is honestly slightly disheartening. Its still a fine follow-up to the second season. I doubt we will be seeing a 3rd season of "Akagami no Shirayuki-Hime", even if we do, if won't be anytime soon, which is a shame.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Going Back In Time (Erased review)

Opening Songs
OP 1 - Re:re (Asian Kung-Fu Generation)

Ending Songs
ED 1 - That Was Like A Small Light (Sayuri)

Genre: Drama, Mystery

Episodes: 12

Widely regarded as one of the best shows of 2016, "Erased" certainly had a lot of hype to live up to when I was about to give it a go. While I'm mostly the type of guy that prefers action themed shows, "Erased" was one of the fewer shows that I watched despite it being...fairly slow to get going. It's surely a show that starts off strong and goes on a slower pace for the rest of its run time, its not something that you can take on in a single viewing. Still, for a show that centralizes itself around character development and character building, its certainly a very well done experience that few other shows can compete with. For that purpose alone, if you're looking for a show that's more about someone fixing their past mistakes and trying to make everything was wrong, right again, "Erased" is a perfect show for that feel. Just make sure to get comfortable, and prepare yourself for a slower paced experience (that not everyone might take a liking to).

Poor, precious little Hinazuki...

The opening theme is "Re:re" by Asian Kung Fu Generation, a band that seriously takes me back to my early anime days. Considering that I really liked themes that they sang for the likes of "Bleach", "Naruto" and "FMA" back in the day, I'm really glad to see them here performing for "Erased". The song itself is pretty good, its rocking enough to stand alongside the band's older songs from their shounen anime days. The ending theme is "That Was  A Small Light" by Sayuri, which is a simple, quiet ending theme. Its pretty fitting for a show like "Erased", but at the end of the day, its really not my cup of tea, its too slow for my liking.

Rating: 8.0/10

There are a lot of people praising this show, and I can see why. For me, it surely sits up there as one of the better few animes that I have watched, solely for its story and character building. However, I could really see this one doing a lot better as a movie, no? Stretching it out to be 12 episodes is a little much, especially if there isn't a lot exciting going on for a good portion of the show. Progression and pacing are really the only things that drag "Erased" down in my opinion, because the show feels kind of slow at times. The concept of having our adult protagonist go through his younger days as a kid again is pretty endearing and captivating, especially having to see a mere child think like an adult to really change things up. It's little moments where our hero tries to accomplish things that no child could do that make the show fun to watch. Seeing how the relationship between Satoru and Hinazuki deepen is so enriching and satisfying, so much so that everything else does seem trivial. Most importantly though: the show does have a proper conclusion, which I can appreciate wholeheartedly. 

Oh man, I wish my mom looked like THAT when she's over 50.

Fujinuma Satoru is a 29 year old man who's working as a part timer at a fast food restaurant while also drawing manga during his spare time. In other words, he's pretty much a failure of a man without a full time job ever since his manga didn't properly take off as he intended. He settled for his life of simplicity while having a very special power: one which allows his non-conscious inner self to turn back time for a short amount of time to solve something that he just couldn't sit with. Usually, this power only triggered for very small, meager occurrences, until one fateful day when his mother comes to visit him. The mother and son combo go shopping together until the mother spots something that seems like a child getting taken away by a kidnapper. While she takes note of the man, she also seemed to be noticed by him. Later that day, she is killed in Satoru's apartment with Satoru being deemed as the suspect. It is then his power to turn back time kicks in, only this time, instead of being sent back a few measly minutes, he is sent back to when he was a kid, 18 years ago....

"Erased" is a pretty great anime if you're looking for a very story driven one with great character development. It provides a very satisfying start, middle and ending, as a complete package, I'd recommend this one for sure. Despite what people may say about this one (good or bad), its probably still one that's worth your time as long as you have ANY interest in anime stories.

Name: Protagonist
Class: Highlander
Traits: Very high burst damage, Elemental damage follow-up, Some support abilities
Rating: 9/10

For the most part of EOU's story run, you are really going to be relying quite hard on your protagonist to do the brunt of the damage. While the main story has 3 potentially powerful main damage dealers, the Highlander is easily your hardest hitter, and can be considered the main carry of the team for most of the game. Being a newly introduced class, the Highlander is capable of many things, but there's only one thing bringing him down: most of his abilities eat away at his HP. Much like the Dark Knight from "Final Fantasy" games, this guy sacrifices some HP to do some nasty damage. Luckily, that isn't enough to wear him down, the Highlander is easily my favorite class among the story party.

The Highlander's kit stands out quite a fair bit. He does have some support abilities going on for him in the form of Black Sabbath to heal the party, or Battle Instinct to prevent ailments, which is a godsend. He can also increase the team's elemental defense and their ailment success rate, but these are only icing on the cake: if you really want to maximize the Highlander, you'll be solely focusing on his offensive abilities. His most devastating and high damaging combination would be the Delayed Charge+Cross Charge duo, which does an epic amount of damage, especially when charged with Limitless and buffed with Bloody Offense, both of which are abilities that he can learn. Repeated casts of these 2 abilities as Simon tops you up with heals can very quickly ensue a boss's doom. There's also Spear Assist, which has the Highlander follow-up a powerful elemental attack with a team mate's elemental attack, much like a Land's chasing skills. Considering Frederica and Arthur, this is also a very reliable form of damage.

Name: Frederica Irving
Class: Gunner
Traits: Elemental damage, Binds, Minor Heals, Action Boost
Rating: 7/10

While the Gunner isn't as OP in EOU, Frederica is still a decent damage dealer for the team. While being a very squishy character that dies a lot even in the back line, she pulls her weight quite well with proper set-up. While her damage is fairly pitiful in the early segments of the game, with points into the proper abilities, you'll start to see her damage take off, especially with Arthur's Dilution doing work. Frederica specializes in doing elemental damage...mostly. She can do some physical damage, but in all honesty, she's quite pathetic in that regard with the Gunner's poor physical offensive move set. However, being a gunner, she does have a couple of things going for her which makes her shine.

She won't be hitting as hard as Arthur, but her Charged elemental shots can put in some work. Realistically, those will be your best chances to do some decent damage with Frederica, but since her defense is reduced and she will always go last before she fires, she definitely needs protection from Raquna while putting in work. By right, that isn't enough, so to cover for it, she can assist with binds when needed, and while its quite pitiful, she can heal on the field (though it's too poor to be used in a fight). Her shining star ability is going to be Action Boost, which is a bread and butter ability to pass on to other classes, since its THAT good. Being able to move multiple times is a godsend, and if this does proc, she is going to be hitting for insane amounts. Then again, its all RNG, so she only really works if she wants to. Still, she's going to be a source of damage either way.

Name: Simon Yorke
Class: Medic
Traits: Heals, Defensive Support
Rating: 9/10

Yeah, you're going to NEED Simon in this game. While his stats may not be perfect for being a Medic, you will still need his antics to survive. While the medic has remain mostly unchanged throughout the EO games, its still fairly apparent that you're going to need them to survive. Since he is pretty much our only source of healing in this game, Simon is a godsend. His role is pretty simple, he's here to keep the team on their feet. Healing, removing binds, status name it. Sure, he can do some crazy stuff like poisoning or paralyzing enemies with low success rate, but most of the time, Simon will be too busy with making sure the team survives to even bother.

With the suicidal Highlander and 2 squishy characters in the back line, Simon's job as the healer in this game isn't an easy one. On expert (which is the only difficulty in this game IMO), most bosses can one shot Frederica and Arthur through Raquna's protection even at full HP, so Simon really has got to step up his game as the healer here. As usual, he's got the single target and full team heals. He can revive with...Revive, and remove status ailments with Refresh. Unbind removes binds, and Immunize increases elemental defense just in case Raquna can't use any of her Anti abilities. If you still need more, he's got CPR to ensure that the team has another chance of revival through RNG.

Name: Raquna Sheldon
Class: Protector
Traits: Team Defender, Elemental Defense, Minor Heals, Bravery's Gift
Rating: 8/10

Shoot, they really gimped up the protector for EOU. I never was a fan of Protectors since they did absolutely no damage, but with high DPS on your team, you can afford to take them along. I felt that the team in EOU was SLIGHTLY underwhelming, but Raquna will really save the team multiple times. If you look at it properly, the lineup in EOU other than Raquna is REALLY lacking in the tankiness department, which spells doom against bosses on expert. Being the Protector, her job is well, to protect the team, and as usual, she's got the tools for the job.

As usual, the Protector has basic defensive abilities to cover for the team like the all-important Front and Rear guard. The damage reduction is a must to sustain against most things on expert, and its what she will be doing most of the time against powerful enemies. Defender increases defense for 3 turns, further increasing survivability, and her elemental walls are an absolute godsend against elemental AOE killers, which many enemies pack, especially against the 3 dragons. She can heal, albeit its going to be meager compared to Simon, but hey, she can use it on the field. Honestly, that's all she's going to be doing in a boss fight, but then against the big boys, she can bust out Bravery's Gift, which has her increase her max HP and take hits for the whole team. This. Is. Broken. Considering how high her defenses are, she can easily tank hits for the entire team when you place her in the back line, which has GOT to be a design flaw. When you reach the late game, having Raquna on the back line spamming Bravery's Gift is honestly a little broken. Of course, make sure her hands aren't bound.

Name: Arthur Charles
Class: Alchemist
Traits: Elemental damage
Rating: 7/10

Arthur and Frederica fill up the secondary DPS slot in the team. If I had to choose one over the other, I'd say Arthur does more damage....consistently, anyway. When Frederica procs Action Boost, she obviously hits harder, but when we're taking the RNG factor out of the way, Arthur has it down. The Alchemist has always been the primary elemental damage dealer in the early EO games, and Arthur does just that. Whether you need to take out a singular enemy of a group of them, Arthur's formulas have got you covered. 

Don't expect much from Arthur in the early game, especially against regular mobs where his TP burns out WAY too fast. It's a little better against bosses where he can go all out, but there are many times in a normal expedition where you feel Arthur is dead weight because you don't want him wasting TP on small fry. Anyway, most bosses have elemental weaknesses, making Arthur worthwhile to have along. Especially against bosses with multiple parts, his AOE formulas tear through the enemies where the Highlander and Frederica are more of single target damage dealers. Especially when paired together with Analysis and Dilution, he is going to do some massive damage. Hell, Dilution even works great along with Frederica, seeing as she's primarily elemental damage.

Opening Songs
OP 1 - Naked Dive (Screen Mode)

Ending Songs
ED 1 - Innocence Always (Azusa Tadokoro)

Genre: Action, Comedy, Supernatural

Episodes: 13

Honestly this show should just be "The wonders of Kawakami Mai", because she is one of the sexiest anime girls I have seen in awhile. Anyway, one of the most popular shows of 2016, "Musaigen No Phantom World" (or for the sake on convenience for this post, just "Musaigen") is a simple action/comedy/harem combination that does its job well with a cast of likable characters, fan service and well, monsters. It's also made by Kyoto Animation, which is probably why so many people even gave a damn about "Musaigen" in the first place. The visuals are great, and are most definitely the show's selling point. But since the overall show itself is mostly about typical fan service anime harem tropes and little of anything that's really original, the only thing that REALLY stands out is basically KyotoAni's visuals, everything else is simply icing on the cake. Compared to many of KyotoAni's other works, "Musaigen" certainly isn't anything special. But for us harem fans, its still one of the better ones over the past few years, given the amount of detail and character put into it.

Look at the variety!

The opening theme is "Naked Dive" by Screen Mode, and honestly, I didn't expect such a kickass song from a band with a male singer to be used for such a fan serivce-y...happy go lucky show like "Musaigen". The song is high on energy levels and is surprisingly rocking some amazing beats, its surely an opening theme to get someone hyped up. The ending theme is "Innocence Always" by Azusa Tadokoro, the seiyuu for Ruru. Its a cute-sy song, and its a catchy one that fits for the ending theme. Otherwise, its rather generic and similar songs are always used for ending themes for typical harems.

Rating: 7.5/10

Its certainly one of the higher quality harems out there nowadays, which I can certainly appreciate. This is a more lighthearted series than most magic high school type harems, which I am completely fine with, though I do appreciate the more serious ones (Mahouka, Rakudai Kishi, Asterisk War) at times. "Musaigen" is a very simple minded show about a group of teens that hunt down phantoms, or simply put, monsters. Its a premise that's been done to death and I'm sure people expect something new, I'll tell you this: don't. "Musaigen" doesn't really do anything new, in fact, it hits most anime harem cliches and has some cheesy (but well done) fan service. Still, there's nothing wrong with playing it completely safe. While everything is average, ranging from the action, the story and its individual arcs, the characters are likable enough and KyotoAni's visuals certainly manage to pull the show up to more than serviceable standards. There's really none of the main cast that's not likable, everyone has their own level of charm, and that's pretty good in a show like this that depends heavily on its characters to sell.

The famed Mai Limbo scene!

In a world where phantoms inhabit every nook and cranny, its kind of difficult to not see these otherworldly creatures wandering around everywhere. Phantoms are created through the imaginative cognition of the human society, which caused them to multiply too much. Society for the most part has sort of come into acceptance of these phantoms, but every now and then, there are rogue phantoms that go crazy and try to do bad shit to the human realm. In comes the special people who can fight phantoms, and in this group of people is our hero Haruhiko Ichijo, a plain young man whose combat powers are minimal, but has the support of his senpai, Mai Kawakami, who is powerful at fighting these phantoms up front. The two belong to a school where students battling against phantoms are commonplace, and its there where the pair are considered one of the weakest phantom wrecking teams. Its up to Haruhiko to gather up comrades and brush up his skill to make the world a better place.

"Musaigen" ended off pretty well and even did well enough to spawn some OVA and special episodes. Its a good series that got the recognition it deserves, and I wouldn't mind a second season to expand further on its universe. Here's hoping that this is not the last we see of Haruhiko and his girls.

Opening Songs
OP 1 - Knew Day ([K]NoW_NAME)

Ending Songs

ED 1 - Harvest ([K]NoW_NAME)

Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

Episodes: 12

The anime world has been blessed with its fair share of alternate world/reality shows for the recent years, and it doesn't look like its stopping anytime soon. "Grimgar Of Fantasy And Ash", or "Grimgar" for short, joins that collection as one its stronger contenders. Honestly, it may not look amazing at first glance, but after watching so many of these alternate world shows, "Grimgar" is probably the only one that strikes such a dark and serious undertone that really outshines the other ones. It may not be as cheesy as "SAO", it may not be as mind f**king as "No Game No Game", it may not be as insane as "Re-Zero", but when it comes to understanding the value of human life, I'm sure "Grimgar" takes the cake. It feels as though the characters go through REAL shit in this one, and that is what makes "Grimgar" feels quite authentic. It stands among its popular peers as a great alternate world type anime that still has even more potential within it.

Even in our alternate worlds there are
no shortage of cute girls.

Both theme songs are performed by [K]NoW_NAME (which is a god awful name to type out), and both are pretty good. The opening theme is "Knew Day", which sounds intriguing and badass enough for an opening theme. It also showcases the main characters really nicely and stylishly. The ending theme is "Harvest", which has a pretty catchy start, but starts to trail of into something generic. Its still quite good as ending theme, I'll give it that.

Rating: 8.0/10

I very much enjoyed "Grimgar" as a show. As I mentioned earlier, its feels like there's actually the risk of getting screwed out there. Our heroes are a ragtag group of rejects that simply can't catch a break. They're scared to leave the town to kill the weakest monsters, goblins, simply because they can't commit to murdering another life form, and of course, the goblins will hurt them as well. They DO have weapons on them. The characters coming into conflict with one another and struggling to figure out their ideals makes the whole show feel real. Also, the expression of pain, holy shit, you really get to see our heroes getting dragged around a lot. The show treats its characters differently, and since its very easy to get attached to the main cast due to some smart writing, every outing feels like it may be someone's last. The way "Grimgar" sets up its world is fantastic, and while I'll admit that the action scenes are average at best, its the world, writing and characters that ultimately set it up to be an enjoyable, bittersweet experience.

Ah, only in Grimgar. You need an entire party to take out a
single f**king goblin.

Haruhiko is a young man that lives in the fantasy world of Grimgar, where everyone is an adventurer with a class, skills and weapons of their own. Thing is, Haruhiko has no idea how he got whisked away to this world, or where he was originally from, similarly to all the others that were brought to Grimgar along with him. The group of people eventually split themselves after arriving at Grimgar, with a majority of them following a strong leader figure, Renji, who only picked the strong looking ones for himself, leaving the rest to rot. Haruhiko was among this group, and together they banded together to form a party. Haruhiko the Thief, Ranta the Dark Knight, Yume the Archer, Shihoru the mage, Moguzo the warrior and Manato the priest, the 6 started life together as a washed up party of sorts. They struggle each day to earn their daily keep as they are unable to efficiently kill goblins, the weakest monsters on Grimgar, because of their moral issues. And thus begins the rough life of our 6 heroes as they work hard towards becoming a party that can survive the cruel world of Grimgar.

With the way the show ended, there was quite a lot that was left unexplored. The show itself is great, and it certainly ended well. Hopefully there's more "Grimgar" to come, because I'm interested to see how far our heroes can go. It'll probably be a rocky road, but I'm sure its going to be one worth following.