Category Archives: Tv series reviews

Girls und Panzer, Anime tv series (2012)

Have you ever found yourself wanting to write a post, but you just don’t quite know where to start? This is one of them. I always like to start my reviews with an introduction that in some way relates to whatever I am reviewing, but this one……I really am at a loss for words. I have promised to do a review for Girls und Panzer for a very long time, and now that the moment is finally there, I am stalling and buying time. And, not quite succeeding at that either, am I? So why is this so hard? Well….unless I am mistaking I don’t think there currently is a place in the world where the sport of Tankery is being held. What’s that: Raistlin writing a post on a sports anime? What kind of black sorcery is this?  As most of you might know: I absolutely hate sports, of any kind. I don’t practice sports, I don’t watch sports, and Ugh….I am rambling again. Anyways, if I could participate in a game of Tankery though: you can count me in. Phew. Well, I am finally past the starting point. Time to start the review in earnest….now, where do I start? Oh yeah, you would like to know what this show is about right?

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Yes, there really is a pink tank in this picture.

Girls und Panzer takes us to a world where World War II tanks are maintained to be used in the sporting event known as Tankery. In this brutal, but at the same time relatively safe competition, girls from different highschools fight each other on battlefields in order to reach the finals and claim victory. Miho Nishizumi is a girl that comes from a very prestigious family that has been practicing Tankery for many years. But in a previous competition something happened to Miho, that causes her to become traumatised and not wanting to continue practicing the sport. Having transferred to a new Academy school ship that she believes doesn’t have Tankery on their list of activities, Miho tries to pick up her life. On her first day at the new school she has already made some new friends, and really begins to believe that life is good again. But, little does she know that the school has added the sport she fears so much back on the roster. Eventually Miho, as the only one who has had any previous experience with Tankery, is pressured into helping the other school girls. Together with her new friends, Nishiszumi enters the competition where she will face a lot of new challenges. The biggest one being, coming to terms with the life she thought she had left behind….

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Sometimes it can be really hard to find a good parking space. 

There are times when you put on a show and literally after seeing the very first scene it just clicks for you. This is one of those shows. Girls und Panzer is a series that is just pure and simple fun. One of the things I love most about anime is the sometimes completely unique concepts it can come up with. I mean really, think about this for a second. How on Earth do you come up with a plot like this: cute highschool girls driving World War II tanks. But not only does it work, it is one of those animes that you can’t help but smile at. It’s really…well cute. And that’s weird for a series that has brutal tank battles in it. But let me just get that out of the way first. Girls und Panzer is a comedy series. In no way is all of this to be taken seriously. There is no blood, and nor are the girls ever in a real life or death battle. Ofcourse no sporting event comes without it’s risk of injury, and Tankery is no different. And yes people, you read that right, not only am I reviewing a sports anime, but it’s a comedy as well. Really, I must have been hit on the head or something.

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Let’s all join in dancing here! Because really that’s what you do in a battle!

Honestly though this is not a slapstick comedy. There are some really funny scenes, but it’s not the kind of humor that is cringeworthy. And that said, the highlight of this series is most certainly the sport of Tankery itself. The tank battles are seriously awesome to watch. Using computertechniques to bring them to life, they are the absolute highlight of this anime. You would think that at some point battles like that will become very tedious, but let me assure that is not the case. Every event is unique, and just like watching an exciting football match featuring your favorite team, you will really hold your breath each time Miho enters a new battle with her friends. You really want them to win, and when they do you will find yourself raising your fist in the air and shouting at the top of your lungs along with the fictional crowd. Erm, or maybe that is just me. Storywise, there really isn’t much more to it than the girls trying to reach the finals. There are a few subplots here and there, but overall the focus is on Tankery. In other animes that might get quite boring, but this anime never has that problem.

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Yes, military uniforms have certainly come a long way since the war. 

There is something that is a bit of a problem and that is the huge cast this series has. I am not kidding here, but this anime has over 50 different characters. While the focus is definitely on Miho and her friends, all the others make appearances in several episodes as well. It will probably not come as a very huge surprise to you that character development isn’t very high on the agenda. But to it’s credit, despite that fact, each character does have it’s own distinguishing marks. I, however did have some trouble in keeping some of the cast members apart from each other. With a cast this huge everyone will probably have a favorite, and for me that was Mako Reizei. It felt like she was continually sleeping through everything (well, she always had trouble getting up early in the morning), and her voice never gets excited even in the face of danger. This causes some very funny scenes, where for example the rest of the girls are going completely nuts, and she just keeps talking with her monotone voice.

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Some people take the order to fire a bit too literally. 

Another thing that is worth mentioning is the soundtrack. The background music at times sounds like the ones you had in old World War II movies, and it fits this anime perfectly. Together with the world that is created in this series, it manages to create a very unique experience. Girls und Panzer is an anime you need to watch when you want to take a break from all the heavy stuff. It is simply put a very charming show, that I pretty much dare you not to be entertained by. What it might lack in terms of storyline and character development, it more than makes up for in the excitement and fun factor. Unless you are a very cynical person that is completely devoid of any emotion, you will be put under it’s spell right from the beginning. Girls und Panzer has been a joy to watch, even though this is certainly a series that is miles away from the shows that I usually see. Panzer vor!

I give Girls und Panzer a 8 out of 10 score.

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Solomon’s Perjury, Korean Drama Series (2016)

We live in an age where social media plays a very important part in people’s lives. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and whatever else is out there, nearly everyone seems to have at least one of these, and more often than not, even more than one. It never fails to surprise me how easily some of the younger generation give highly personal glimpses in their day to day routines. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to play a judge here, as I always believe everyone has the right to decide what they wish to share on their own. But it’s the dangers that go along with it, that sometimes really scare me. What if something that you share falls into the wrong hands? Or even worse is used against you in a horrible way? And how about how easily some people’s opinions might be influenced by the power of a certain statement. I don’t think this social behaviour is any more apparent then in high school. Nearly every kid wants to be accepted by the popular ones, and as such belong to the group they hang out with. And usually they pretty much determine what happens in class. These underlying themes form the basics of the Korean dramaseries, Solomon’s Perjury.

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Nothing to see here, we are just hanging out.

On a cold winter morning in December, the lifeless body of highschool student Lee So-woo is found by one of his fellow classmates in front of school. The school and the police are convinced that he took his own life. But then a student comes forward claiming to have been a witness to his murder. The school is in an uproar and wants nothing to do with it, quickly dismissing the claim. Especially seeing as the suspect for the murder, the school bully Choi Woo-hyuk, is the son of a man that has always been very supportive of the school. But not everyone is so easily swayed. Go Seo-yon, the class president, wants to find out exactly what has happened to Lee So-woo and devises an ingenious plan to get to the bottom of things: a schooltrial. She takes on the role of prosecutor and together with a couple of other students she will stop at nothing to make sure justice will be served. But then a young man called Han Ji-hoon, who attends another school, steps up to act as the defense attorney for Choi. Just who is he? And why does he want to defend someone who has been causing so much pain to others? The answers to these questions, and many others, are about to be revealed……

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What are you looking at me for? 

I’m going to be honest: this one hit close to home. In a big way. It brought back some pretty unpleasant memories from my own days as a highschool student. Having been on the receiving end of bullying for a lot of years, I know what it can do to someone’s state of mind. And how much you at certain points would love to take revenge on the people that caused you pain. I am not a hateful person, and always try at least to see the good in people. But there have certainly been points during my schooldays where I wished some very unpleasant things would happen to my tormentors. And that’s what I really liked about this show, as it not only looked at bullying, but also what might drive someone to become a bully. And is it really fair to blame everything on that person? As such this is not an easy series to watch, as it not only deals with that, but also with the equally tough subject of suicide. But why did I continue watching it then? Because it never becomes too heavy and it really is an incredibly good series with some stunning performances.

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Yep, that is a broken window. Looking at their faces it’s almost as if they have never seen one before. 

The storyline for this is quite unique. The idea of a schooltrial is something I have never seen before and you would think that this might just be very laughable. It’s not. It’s every bit as compelling as a real courtroom drama, and the story has some very nice twists and turns. It soon becomes much more than just finding out whether or not Lee So-woo has committed suicide or not. There is a lot more to the story, but of course I’m not going to head into spoiler territory so I will just leave it at that. The acting in this drama is quite impressive, and besides a few moments of overacting by some of the supporting cast, really is one of the other reasons that this series works so well. Kim Hyun-soo plays the role of Go Seo-yon and really is the driving force of this show. She is both charming and very serious at the same time, and is utterly convincing as the prosecutor. She is one of those characters that is determined to find out the truth, and will never give up no matter what.

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Yep that is a door. Wow, these people really haven’t seen anything have they?

But equally impressive is Jang Dong-yoon who plays Han Ji-hoon. As an audience you know more about him than the other characters in the series, but at the same time you don’t quite know exactly what drives him. And it was really interesting to see when the reveal came to see what his real motives were at the end. Overall this show impressed the hell out of me. The overall themes and the way they were executed made this a very compelling watch. Let me be clear that this is not an action series. It really is a legal drama, and while there are certainly some tense moments, this series is more of slow burner. It is driven by the incredible verbal exchanges by the two main leads, and there are moments in the show that you don’t exactly know who to root for. As you want both of them to win. Be aware that the themes in the show can be tough to watch, especially if like me, you might have had similar experiences. But in the end it’s presented in such a great way that I am truly glad that I have watched it. This concludes my review for the third drama for my Korean Dramas theme month. If you want to watch this show you can watch it for free on the legal streaming website Viki.

I give Solomon’s Perjury a 9 out of 10 score.

Black, Korean Dramaseries (2017)

There is a question that many people wonder about. What happens when we die? Will we simply cease to exist? Will we somehow be reborn, enter Heaven or maybe even Hell? No matter what you believe in, I don’t think it’s a question that we will ever get an answer to until the moment arrives. Now, I don’t know about you, but I for one am pretty happy to postpone that moment for as long as I can. It’s not that I fear death, but I am pretty happy with living right now thank you very much. But we all check out at some point, that’s pretty much the only certainty we have in life. (Oh yeah, and taxes but I always tend to forget that one for some reason). Well, I can hear you thinking right now: “This is a very cheerful subject:NOT! I’m going to move on and check out something else”. Well, if you do you are going to miss out on a review for the best Korean drama series that I have seen so far in my life. So please bare with me just a little bit longer okay?

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My name is Black…..erm, no that’s it, just Black. 

 

In Black we meet up with Kang Ha-ram a young woman who has always had a very special ability ever since she was a child. When she looks at people she sometimes sees dark shadows forming behind them. These shadows are always the signs that the death of that person is very near. Ha-ram hasn’t been happy with this power at all, and the only way she can avoid it, is by wearing sunglasses. One day she crosses paths with police officer Han Moo-gang who she is stunned to recognise as a boy from her childhood, one was always very kind to her. She has not seen him in almost 20 years, but it appears that he has really changed. He doesn’t seem at all like the kindhearted young boy who she remembers, but instead has turned into a very coldhearted insensitive man. And she would be right, as Moo-gang has not only changed but is now possessed by a Grim Reaper. But this is not the only problem that Ha-rang is going to face. When a body is found, certain events are set in motion that will uncover a very dark secret and conspiracy that has been buried for a very long time. And certain people will stop at nothing to prevent that secret from rising to the surface…..even it means killing everyone in their path.

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Some people just hate missing the bus. 

Okay, let me make one thing clear, and this is very, very important. Do not, I repeat not drop this show after watching the first two episodes. I almost did this, and am eternally grateful that I did not. When this series starts you will be very confused. What exactly is this series trying to be? Is it a police drama, a supernatural mystery, or, and this is what I feared the most, a slapstick comedy? The first two episodes were a mess and the “comedy” was so cringeworthy that I very nearly gave up. But man, am I glad that I did not. Black is a show that by the time you start with episode 3 is almost impossible to turn off. The story it tells is tense, gripping, emotional and will have you in tears, on the edge of your seat, as well as laughing all at the same time. It’s a rollercoaster ride that will never let up. The best element in this series is how it draws you the viewer into the storyline trying to figure out how all the puzzlepieces fit together. And just when you think you have figured it all out, it throws another twist at you, and you have to start from scratch again.

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Sometimes you just want to sit down on the sidewalk. I always do that every day. 

There is a huge cast of actors, and as such it’s impossible to cover them all. I will instead focus on the two leads, but suffice it to say that every single actor involved in this series is great. No matter how small their parts were. And no, that is not me just saying so, just to get this over and done with in a quick way. Actor Song Seung-heon plays the part of the Grim Reaper possessed cop Moo-gang. His acting is superb and I love the way how his character evolved throughout the series. He can tackle basically everything, from actionscenes, to anger, to comedy to drama, everything he does is believable. His precense just lights up the screen everywhere he appears. But his chemistry with lead actress Go Ara, who plays the role of Ha-ram is also a huge part of what makes this series work so well. And speaking of her, you will completely fall in love with the character she portrays. Ha-ram is a feisty woman, who always has some very snappy comebacks, but is also very caring and emotional at the same time. This series is really her story, and that’s why it is important to have an actress who can carry that part. Go Ara really gets the job done, and then some.

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The new generation of Pokemon balls had also found it’s way into the afterlife. 

Black is a series that blends many elements together and that’s why it can be enjoyed by a pretty large number of people. Even though the show has supernatural elements, it never let’s these elements take the upper hand. Above all this is a solid and very cleverly written murder mystery, with a touch of action and suspense and the occasional humor thrown into the mix. And of course there is also some romance, but this only adds to the strength of the series instead of diminishing it. So in case you haven’t yet noticed, I absolutely loved this show. The only reason I haven’t given it the perfect 10/10 score is that the first two episodes just felt out of place. And seriously, I was very close to dropping it, something I almost never do. But the rest of this Korean drama series is so fantastic, that I have all but forgotten about that. If you have yet to watch your first K-drama series, this might be the one to start with. I guarantee that you will not regret this. So, this concludes my review for the second series for the Korean Drama theme month. What’s up next you ask? I haven’t yet quite decided, but rest assured there is one more series review to come. Thank you for reading!

I give Black a 9 out of 10 score.

Stranger, Korean Drama series (2017)

Okay, I’m going to start this review with a small confession. No worries, it really isn’t anything as shocking along the lines of ” I am really a serial killer”. But, here it comes nonetheless: I can be a really emotional guy. When there is injustice I can become really annoyed, and sometimes even very angry. But on the other side of the spectrum I can also cry at things that happen in a movie, or even at certain very personal blog posts. But really don’t hold that against me, okay? Emotions, or lack thereof, can tell a lot about a person. It pretty much defines what makes a person tick, at least that is what I think in my humble opinion. I have always wondered what would happen if I would possess no kind of emotion whatsoever. Let’s just take a few seconds and try to grasp what that means. You would not know when to laugh at a joke. When someone close to you dies, you would shed no tears. Even though there are certain moments in your life you maybe would have loved to lose a few emotions, I for one would never want to lose any of them. Because it would completely change my personality. And that, in a roundabout way brings me to this Korean drama.

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Get used to it: that expression on the face of the guy is pretty much the only one he knows. 

Prosecutor Hwang Shi-Mok underwent a brain surgery as a child. This surgery has now caused him to lack any kind of emotion. He is a cold, calculated and very rational guy, that is very good at his job. His lack of empathy and social skills however, make it extremely hard for him to sometimes interact with other people. One day while investigating a new case, he finds the person he is looking into dead in his house. When the police arrives at the scene Shi-Mok doesn’t communicate with any of them, but instead focusses on finding the killer. This suspicious behaviour at first makes him a suspect. Police inspector Han Yeo-Jin is the one who is assigned the task of solving the case, and soon finds out that Hwang is innocent of the crime. Eventually the two of them team up to find the real killer. But when they find the alleged murderer, it soon becomes very clear that there is more to the case then both of them realise. A cesspool of corruption has been opened, one that is so deep that it goes to the highest levels of the justice department. Dark and dirty secrets are about to be revealed, and some people will stop at nothing to keep them buried….

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Run Forrest, run…..

Having just finished this Korean drama I have to say it has left me behind with mixed feelings. I certainly would not call this series bad, but there are certain things that I also didn’t like and that at the end kept me from really enjoying this to the fullest. As far as the story goes I have to say that it is incredibly complex containing many layers, and one could argue that it contains too many layers. Part murder mystery, part legal drama, with elements of corporate espionage, corruption and even soap opera thrown into the mix, Stranger has at times trouble in deciding what it wants to be. There were some truly intense and incredibly powerful moments in the show that really put a smile on my face. Some twists and turns where certainly unexpected, and added to the fun of watching this series. But then there were also episodes that were, for lack of a better word, rather dull, and just seemed to drag on and on. The story as mentioned is incredibly complex and because of it’s complexity there were moments where I lost track of things.

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Look at my fist: I have got your emotions right here! 

This last fact was only made even worse because of the huge number of characters that this drama contains. I usually don’t like shows or novels that contain such a huge cast of names that it becomes hard to remember who a certain person was. But despite that fact it’s the acting in this series that really is one of it’s strongest points. Hwang Shi-Mok, played by Cho Seung-Woo is a character that is hard to grow attached to. Because of his lack of emotions he walks around the series with pretty much the same expression on his face at every scene. At first this becomes very tedious, but then I started to realise what a brilliant job the actor is really doing. It is incredibly hard to just not respond emotionally to people that are laughing or crying. I came to really enjoy Shi-Mok’s awkwardness, especially around police detective Han Yeo-Jin. She was played by actress Bae Doo-Na and became my favorite character of the series. The complete opposite of Shi-Mok, she is a feisty and tenacious woman, who tries her best to solve the case but at the same time shows empathy when she needs to. And she is also in for a joke or two, often at the expense of her partner.

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Please don’t look at me that way: I won’t laugh anyway. 

Another thing that is worth mentioning is the music that supports this drama. It certainly ranks as the best background music I have heard in any Korean drama series to date, and helps bring the atmosphere of this series to life. In the end I can say that I do recommend the show. Even though there are certainly moments in it’s 16 episode run that really are pretty boring, there also enough things in it that balance the score in the end. The difficult and complex script, does eventually pay off, and the acting in the series alone is certainly worth watching it for. While there are definitely better dramas out there, it’s a good series if you are just willing to invest some time and patience in it. If you have become interested in the show after reading this, you can watch the series on Netflix. This concludes the first post for my theme month of Korean dramas. Thanks as always for reading and see you at the next post!

I give Stranger a 7 out of 10 score.

 

Fear the Walking Dead Season 1, American Tv series (2015)

We all have our favorite television shows. Some of them are obscure and might not even be known by many people. In the brutal climate of television, shows like that are always in danger of cancellation. With sweat forming on your forehead you eagerly await news about a new season. And then two things can happen. One: you finally receive word that your beloved series has been renewed and you happily dance around in your living room (or maybe that is just me). Two: The television Gods have decided the show needs to get the axe, and you spent the rest of your week weeping, expending an entire box of tissues (erm, maybe that’s just me as well). But there are also shows that are juggernauts that are never in that danger, at least not any time soon. One of those shows is The Walking Dead, and it’s still my alltime favorite. When a series is this succesful, the television studios begin to think up ways to expand on that succes. Which usually means that the original show gets a spin off, that takes the established story into different directions.

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Traffic can really be a bitch sometimes. 

Fear the Walking Dead acts as a prequel to the original show, and takes us back to the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. High school guidance councellor Madison Clark has more than her fair share of problems. Her son Nick is a drug addict and his habits weigh heavily upon the rest of her family. One day Nick ends up in the hospital after being hit by a car while he was running in the middle of the street. While visiting him there together with her new boyfriend Travis and her daughter Alicia, Madison tries to find out exactly what has happened. Nick tells a story that makes no sense and is being dismissed as yet another drug induced psychosis. Supposedly he woke up after using his drugs to find the girl he was with that night turned into a flesh eating monster. Travis still decides to investigate anyway, and is beginning to find indications that there might be more to Nick’s story than everybody at first believed. Meanwhile news outlets are showing strange reports about people that brutally attack others for seemingly no reason. Humanity stands at the eve of a total societal collapse and the real horror is about to begin……

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Now doesn’t she look like your ideal prom date? 

Fear the Walking Dead is a completely different show than it’s big brother. At least that was the original plan. When the show first aired a lot of complaints came from fans of The Walking Dead about how this show was incredibly dull and slow, and had so very little to do with the original series. Finally the studios bowed to this pressure and took the series in the direction the fans wanted. And honestly, I think this is a real shame. Why would you want two series that are pretty much exactly the same, only with different characters? What I absolutely loved about this show in the beginning, is how it showed the slow decline of civilisation and the eerie atmosphere. When the first zombies begin to appear people aren’t even worried, thinking it’s just a disease that will eventually get cured. We of course as an audience know how the events will eventually turn out, and how the world is going to fall. One of the creepiest scenes in this first season is when the power begins to fail, and you see entire city blocks turning dark. That event really is the foreshadowing of the beginning of the end, and it was filmed in a truly powerful way.

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Honey, please stay away from me when I am on the phone. 

For me that was one of the show’s greatest strengths. The pacing, especially in the beginning is definitely very slow. I can totally understand how people can be turned off by this, but I think this has also to do with the characters that aren’t all that interesting. Where The Walking Dead has powerful leads such as Rick and Daryl, here we have a normal albeit dysfunctional family that you just don’t really care about. Nick played by Frank Dillane, is a very selfish character whose only goal seems to be looking where he can get his new fix. Actress Kim Dickens in the role of his mother Madison does a good enough job of playing his despairing mother. But in the end she is just, at least in this season, a very dull character. The only character that I at least liked was Travis, played by Cliff Curtis. Here is a man that tries to keep his head above water while his family is being torn apart and society around him is collapsing. He played the part perfectly and was for me one of the shining lights. Later on in the series, his family meets up with another one, that also doesn’t contain very memorable characters.

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Erm, I don’t really think this guy needs a shave right now. 

And that is pretty much this show’s greatest flaw. When a tv series fails to give you characters that you really care for, it’s hard to keep you interested in it. That said, I for one was still very much entertained. I know that in the upcoming seasons, the show is going to change and I heard that some people even say they found it better than it’s big counterpart. (A fact I find very hard to believe). But I loved the way this season showed us how everything started on the road to the zombie apocalypse. I thought it handled this in a very good and believable manner, despite it’s slow pace. Fear the Walking Dead won’t be for everyone, especially not if you are hoping to find full on zombie carnage, of which there is very little here. But for those of you that are interested in seeing what could happen when an unstoppable disease begins to ravage the world, you are hardpressed to find a series that does this in such a realistic way.

I give Fear the Walking Dead season 1 a 8 out of 10 score.

King’s Game, Anime tv series (2017)

Okay, this might actually be very hard for you to believe but before March of this year I did not own a mobile phone. At least not one that could be called a smartphone. No, I had one of those phones that people used in the past to make phonecalls with. You know the thing that cellphones were originally meant for. These days smartphones seem to have evolved into mobile computers and are used for so many things that I can’t even keep track of it all. Or maybe I’m just getting old. Anyways, the things that people really seem to enjoy on them is the offering of mobile games. And the selection is getting better and better. There seems to be a game for everyone and the graphics almost look as good as though you were a playing a game on a console. But there is also a darker side to it. And that darker side comes in the form of deathgames. Wait…nope sorry, that’s just in this anime. But, I do think after seeing this you will think quite differently about sending someone a text.

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You will see this image a lot in this show. Then again, is the real world any different?

Nobuaki Kanazawa is a highschool student that has just transferred to his new school. When he gets introduced to his new classmates he tries to avoid them as much as he can. Even though a few of them try their best to make friends with him, he just won’t let them in. Naturally people are beginning to speculate as to what the reasons for this strange behaviour might be. But that reason soon becomes apparent as everyone in class get’s a strange text sent to their cellphones. The message says that they are now participating in the King’s Game and that they are not allowed to withdraw. It is concluded with an order that two of Nobuaki’s classmates are to kiss each other, and if they don’t they will get punished. At first they all think it’s a prank devised by Kanazawa. But as time passes by and classmates are beginning to lose their lives, the true horror is beginning to become clear. Nobuaki is the soul survivor of a previous King’s Game and now history is about to repeat itself in his new class. With tensions running high because of increasingly more extreme orders, and people that are beginning to turn on each other in order to survive, the question soon becomes who will be the next victim of this deathgame…..

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This guy looks a bit like a pizza. All that’s missing is some ansjovis.

King’s Game is a mess of a show. But at the same time I quite liked it. You know those horrormovies like for instance Sharknado that are so bad that they actually become fun? You can definitely add this one to that list. That’s not to say that there aren’t things that are going to annoy you though. In the beginning of the series we spent a lot of episodes in the past with the outcome of Nobuaki’s previous King’s Game. That’s all fine, but in the meantime the story in the present takes a backseat and doesn’t really go anywhere. The same goes for the enormous cast of characters that this series contains. As we spent so much time in the past and get introduced to characters there as well, you tend to forget the names of the people we are supposed to care about in the current King’s Game. I really had some trouble indentifying a few of them. Later on though, the show does pick up speed and focusses on the events that matter, and becomes better for it.

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Some people take being hot a little bit to the extreme.

If you are not a fan of plotholes or illogical events, I would say skip this one. For King’s Game is full of them. To give you a small example: at one point a girl is burning up, and she keeps on talking slowly as if nothing is happening, not even screaming once. Now, I can look past certain things, but at times this show really makes you wonder who came up with this script. Because of the enormously large cast, most of the characters are highly underdeveloped. The star of the series, Nobuaki Kanazawa, is your basic hero type of character that is trying to do good in every way he can. He is certainly not a character you will hate, but he’s also not someone you haven’t seen in other forms in countless other animes. His biggest opponent in the game who shall remain nameless in order to avoid spoilers, is a person you are definitely going to hate. But in a good way. To call this character the devil made flesh is probably the best description. Deliciously evil and manipulative you seriously want this person to fail, but at the same time get out on top as well. All of these are the marks of a great villain.

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Please don’t be in shock, this anime isn’t that bad.

So why should you be watching this? Well, it’s actually kind of hard to explain. I watched this one along with Karandi’s (Who probably needs no introduction for most of you, but if you are not following her yet go press on the link and do so now please), weekly posts for the show, but she also had at times trouble to explain what there is to like. But I can honestly say it’s definitely great horror. The death’s are at times truly horrifyingly gruesome and inventive. The story, even though it has numerous plotholes, is still quite entertaining. And as with any game you do want to see who eventually is going to win. This is by no means a good show, I’m not going to lie to you about that. But if you are a fan of lowbudget horrormovies, and take some of the shows plotholes and events for granted, I can pretty much guarantee you are going to be entertained by this one. I have been weighing things of in my mind all day as to what grade I was going to give this. In the end I decided to give it a reasonably decent one, as I had fun watching this, no doubt about it.

I give King’s Game a 7 out of 10 score.

Erased, Japanese Tv series (2017)

Last year I saw an anime that ended up being one of the best that I have ever seen to date in my life. It was called Erased and I gave it a perfect score at the time. Having not yet revisited it I don’t know if I would give it the same score today that I gave it back then. The review for it was written in the early days of my blog, but I do know that I absolutely loved it. So when I heard they were going to be producing a live action series based on the manga/anime, the first thought that went through my mind was “Oh God, please not this again”. As most anime fans will know, the reputation for these kind of shows/movies that are based on our beloved animated series isn’t one to be very proud of. In fact, it’s downright abysmal if you look at it closely. But, since I loved the anime so much I decided to at least watch the pilot for this one and give it a chance……So, I guess you are all waiting for what I eventually thought of it huh? Okay, I will get to that after I present the plot, but how about when I say that this might just be the best live action anime adaptation ever. Did that catch your attention? Right…as I was saying let’s start with the plot first.

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Hey! No pictures please!

The aspiring manga artist Satoru has a gift. Or a curse depending on which way you look at it. With the ability called Revival he is able to travel back in time to prevent bad things from happening. He always experiences it just before some kind of calamity occurs, and he usually has a short time window to stop it. But Satoru is always able to save the day just in time. But then one day he arrives home and finds his mother dead on the floor with a knife sticking out of her back. With his hands covered in blood Satoru becomes the prime suspect for this grissly deed. Just when he is about to get caught by the police his Revival ability kicks in. But this time it takes him back farther in time than ever before. To his childhood to be exact, 18 years in the past. Now with his adult mind in the driver’s seat of his 11 year old self, he has to find a way to prevent his mother’s death and that of three of his classmates. Most notably the young girl Kayo Hinazuki who he has grown very close to. But his opponent is a very cunning and brutal serial killer that will stop at nothing to achieve his goals…….

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Are you going to eat that cake?

One of the things that live action adaptations, or any adaptations as a matter of fact usually get wrong is that they stray too far from the source material. Or don’t even use it at all. And that’s where Erased really shines. This 12 part Netflix series captures the heart and soul of what made the original so great in the first place. Things like friendship, never giving up, but also it’s darker themes such as child abuse all make an appearance. In the first 6-7 episodes the people who have seen the anime will find it follows the storyline very closely. They throw a few other things and twists in the mix but other than that it resembles it’s anime counterpart almost exactly. In what can be called the second act, it diverges it’s story into other directions without going completely off the rails. In fact I liked that they also devised some original storylines as well, because else the outcome would have been very predictable.

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Did I mention there were some heartwarming moments in this series?

Another thing you will notice when you start watching this is how gorgeous everything looks. The cinematography is stunning in this series. From the bleak factories, to the snowfilled landscapes and beautiful sunsets, everything almost looks like a painting. It really helps in setting the overall tone and atmosphere for this. The acting for this is also pretty good with one noteworthy exception. The children especially are extremely well cast, particularly the girl who plays the young Hinazuki. Just as in the anime she really is going through hell in this show, and the tv series doesn’t shy away from that subject either. Even though Hinazuki appears to be a little bit older than her anime counterpart, the actress that portrays her does a great job making us care about her character. In fact the only actress I didn’t like in certain scenes was the one who plays Airi, the girl who has a crush on the older Satoru. There were a couple of moments that were a bit cringeworthy in the way she portrayed them, but they don’t cause enough trouble to really become a problem.

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Erm, I would change my shirt if I were you. It looks like you had an accident with the ketchup bottle.

If I want to be nitpicking I can also point out that there is a certain character that at one point has a fake beard that looks so stupid it is almost laughable. In fact I found myself wondering who on Earth came up with that. But that’s a relatively minor issue in what is otherwise a truly awesome show. With the episodes being only 30 minutes long, Erased has the name bingewatch written all over it. If you have not yet seen the anime I think you are going to enjoy this series even more than those who did. As the show basically tells the same story there are not many surprises in store for the fans of the anime. But as a fan I can say that I still enjoyed this one immensely. This is without a doubt the best anime live action adaptation that I have ever seen and I highly recommend this series. It is not as good as the anime, in that I can be honest, but it does come very, very close. Erased is a really terrific series that tells a heartbreaking, exciting and sometimes downright chilling story. I dare you not to finish this one in one go.

I give Erased a 9 out of 10 score.

 

The Walking Dead Season 7, American tv series (2016/2017)

I recently read that one of the executive producers for The Walking Dead can see the show running for about 25-30 more years. Let’s let that sink in for a minute. A television series about a post apocalyptic world where zombies have taken over, could potentially reach a season 30. Now, as much as I am fan of this series (it still ranks as my alltime number one show), even I have trouble believing a statement like that. There are only so many places you can go to with a concept like this and keep it interesting. It’s still a great watch, but from an objective point of view I have to admit it just isn’t as strong as it used to be anymore. Season 7 is a great example of this as the series is now definitely beginning to show a few cracks in it’s otherwise shining armour. But before I’m already going to head into full review mode, let’s just see what the storyline for this season is all about.

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One has to admire a man that gives a name to his baseball bat. 

This season starts where  season 6 ended, right in the middle of a pretty big mess. The new bad guy, Negan, looms thriumphantly over our heroes with his pet bat Lucille promising to bash someone’s brains in. Yes you heard that right, this guy actually gave his bat that has been wrapped in barbed wire a name. And more horrifyingly he really keeps his promise as two people of the main cast don’t survive the encounter. It is the first time we see a truly broken Rick, that comes to the conclusion that he isn’t in charge anymore: Negan is. It is a truly depressing fact, and one that carries over for most of the rest of the season. And Negan really puts the screws on everyone, as he gives orders to find as much supplies as they can for him, or else suffer the consequences. It seems that this time there really is no way out for our heroes as Negan and his army are all but invincible. But there is always hope. Slowly new alliances are formed and plans are being made to take the fight to Negan. But in this world no one can be fully trusted, and Negan’s spies are everywhere. The rebellion against him might just be over, before it even has a chance to start…..

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I smell something rotten…..

The first episode of this season has got to be the most heartpounding, stomache churning and quite frankly most horrible 45 minutes of television that I have ever seen. I went into that episode with a heart rate that must have raised quite a number of alarmbells if it would have been monitored at the time, and left it as a broken man. It was truly and utterly devestating, and that’s what the creators of course went for. One has to wonder though if things did not go too far, as the level of brutality in that episode really was completely off the charts. Whatever your thoughts are on that episode, one can’t deny the fact that it contained a few incredibly tense and nailbiting scenes, that really managed to create a level of fear that all bets are now truly off. The rest of the season however, never even once came close to that level of fear again. It was almost as if the writers did not know how to proceed forward from this point on.

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This season they really went full out to make sure the dead wear the latest trends in fashion.

Most of the cast is seperated from each other throughout this season, and we get episodes that at times focus on a single character, or small groups of them. While this is not a bad thing in itself, the execution for it leaves much to be desired. Some of the episodes in this season are just plain dull, with not much of anything really happening. We get introduced to a couple of new characters, of which the most noteworthy of these is King Ezekiel. Played by the relatively unknown actor Khary Payton, Ezekiel seems to have walked straight out of the Middle Ages into the modern world. And even better he has a tiger that accompanies him. It makes for a great character that unfortunately was a bit underused in my opinion. But that’s pretty much the problem with this entire season: it really serves as a build up to something big and as such really takes things slow, and at times a bit too slow.

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The lions, the tigers, the bears…..oh my…..

But not everything in this season is bad though. The real saving grace is the character of Negan played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Wow, will you grow to hate this man with a vengeance, but at the same time laugh at him as well. Because really, Negan is funny. He is deliciously evil, and some of his (bad) jokes are just seriously funny. You don’t want to laugh at them, but you just can’t help yourself in doing so. Negan really is a terrific villain and the absolute highlight of this season. Most, if not all of the scenes he appears in are a delight to watch. And then there is Rick. Andrew Lincoln has always been a very impressive actor, but this season he plays Rick to the fullest, and some of his scenes will leave you with goosebumps on your arms. He really still is the driving force of this show, and if he were ever to leave the Walking Dead, I would say it’s time to pull the plug.

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25 more seasons? Really? Please somebody just shoot me now! 

This season leaves me with a lot of conflicting emotions. It starts off with a bang, but then seems to fizzle and never can quite rediscover it’s momentum. While there is still enough for me to enjoy being an enormous fan of the series, more casual viewers will probably find the pacing too slow in order for them to really have fun with it. The season’s finale also wasn’t as big as in previous seasons. So one has to wonder what this means for the future of the show. Season 8 has just reached it’s midseason episode (and I have heard it rumored that it again contained quite a shock), and also promises to really start the war between Rick and Negan in earnest. But what then? Where can the show go after that war concludes? As much as I love this series, it is a concept that I think can’t be taken much further than it already has. It was the same problem that 24 eventually faced: the show just became a rehash of things that we had already seen in previous seasons. Still, I will never stop watching it, right up until the end. I just love it too much for that. The score below for this season represents watching it as a fan. If you are a more casual viewer you might want to deduct one or even two points from it.

I give The Walking Dead season 7 a 8 out of 10 score.

Deadman Wonderland, Anime tv series (2011)

I’m beginning to have a small luxury problem. And I’m sure I’m definitely not the only one that has this particular problem. Ever since I started my blog, now more than a year ago, my love for anime has resurfaced. Shock of all shocks, it might even surprise you that before that, I had not been watching anime for a period of more than five or six years. I know right? How on Earth did I even survive that? Now though I have so much anime to watch, that I don’t even know where to start anymore. Besides my own rather formidable dvd collection, I now also have Crunchyroll and more recently Netflix, that have such a great variety of anime series on offer. So what to do about this problem? I’m just going with the flow I guess. I now try to watch a series from my own dvd collection, and then one from either Netflix or Crunchyroll. Just to keep some kind of balance. Erm, yes I guess I can be weird like that at times. Anyway, it was Netflix that was next in line, and after browsing through their considerably large animelist, my eyes were drawn to Deadman Wonderland.

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This brings a whole new meaning to the term papercut. 

In Deadman Wonderland the life of the seemingly ordinary highschool student Ganta Igarashi is about to take a turn for the worse. When his class is preparing to take a school field trip to the privately owned prison Deadman Wonderland, that at the same time serves as an amusement park, a mysterious being suddenly appears. The being that is known as The Red Man, slaughters the entire class, with the exception of Ganta. Being the only survivor, Igarashi soon gets charged with mass murder. Things get even worse when overwhelming evidence is presented that can’t be explained and soon young Ganta is sentenced to death and sent to the Deadman Wonderland prison. Once there he meets a mysterious white haired girl called Shinto, that saves him from a bunch of bullies that were about to kill him. All of a sudden a large explosion rocks the prison and brings down a large object right on top of Ganta and Shinto. Just when it is about to crush them, a mysterious power awakens in Ganta that allows him to take control of his own blood. In this way he manages to keep the object from falling on their heads. With the awakening of this power it is beginning to become apparent that Deadman Wonderland holds many secrets, and not all of them very friendly…..

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Hey, I told you Shinto could get a little crazy at times

Well, let me start this review by saying that this series is not, I repeat not, for the faint of heart. To call this series rather gory is quite the understatement. The blood flows freely in this anime, and I am not talking about a few small drops either. No we have buckets full of blood that are spilled, including several mutilations, and a rather nasty removal of an eyeball, that makes this a really brutal show. But before you all turn the other way, let me tell you that this show also kicks ass (pardon my French). I have never seen an animeseries that featured such a unique power. Ganta, and a rather large cast of other colourful characters, can use their own blood to form  weapons like swords, whips or even projectiles. And this makes for a couple of incredibly cool fightscenes between the inmates, that while at times rather bloody, really are highly entertaining to watch. It’s almost as if you are back in Rome during the days of gladiator fighting.

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Don’t worry these are all special effects, he is fine. 

As mentioned the cast is rather large, and more and more are added with each episode. This eventually results in quite a few them being rather bland, and not ones that you can form an attachment to. But one character I guarantee you will in love with is Shinto. This free spirited girl that has a special, and really protective bond with Ganta is a truly fun character. Sometimes a little crazy, at other times seemingly innocent, but more than capable of taking care of herself she is the absolute highlight of this anime. Ganta, the hero of the series is your typical innocent young boy character, that you have seen in quite a number of other shows. That is not to say that you don’t feel sympathy for him though. Not only is he wrongfully accused, he also gets confronted with a mysterious power and is placed in the most awful place one can imagine. It is enough to drive most men or women insane, but Ganta keeps fighting the good fight, and you have to admire that.

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In case you were wondering, no she is not naked, she is wearing a suit. 

For those of you that are observant, you might have already taken a glance at the final score I have given this anime. Made you look didn’t I? So why the low score for a show that I haven’t been really negative for yet? Well, it’s unfortunately one of those anime series that wraps things up in a really bad way. Or maybe it’s even better to say it doesn’t wrap up anything. After 12 episodes you are left with so many unanswered questions, and no real resolution that you end up feeling rather frustrated. I absolutely hate it when something like this happens. I can honestly say that I had a lot of fun watching this, up until the final few episodes. And this is really such a shame. The storyline for this was very good, the animation more than decent, there were cool fightscenes and some very interesting  characters. And then it all went to hell in a handbasket. Whether or not you want to give this a try depends on the fact if you don’t mind shows that end with with no real resolution. I do have to admit that the fightsequences alone are worth seeing at least once, so there is that. All in all, despite a pretty big list of positives I can’t really bring myself to fully recommend this one. So watch at your own discretion.

I give Deadman Wonderland a 6 out of 10 score.

 

 

Prison Break: Event Series (Season 5), American tv series (2017)

Don’t you just hate it when your favorite television series gets cancelled? It’s bad enough when something like that happens, but it’s even worse when it ends on a bad note. There have certainly been quite a few examples of tv series that were incredible but wrapped up with an absolutely horrible ending. I still remember the end of Dexter and how that really made me wonder how on Earth the creators of that series managed to completely ruin an otherwise brilliant show. Luckily there are also tv series that do end on a high note, and manage to give closure to the fans that have been following it. Prison Break was a televisionshow that ran for four seasons during a time that I always like to call “The Reign of the Big Three”. Yes, I know that sounds quite dramatic. The “Big Three” that I am talking about are three television series that really made an impact on the world of the small screen, 24, Lost and the aforementioned Prison Break. The final episode of that show aired just about seven years ago. It ended the series in a pretty satisfactory way, and I was quite happy with it myself.

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Never bring a gun to a fistfight…or was that the other way around? 

Lately there has been a renewed interest in resurrecting old television properties with small new seasons. The X-files and 24 already had a go at this, and this year it was Prison Break’s turn to continue the show with a 9 episode event series. This fifth season picks up the story seven years after Michael Scofield’s death. His brother Lincoln Burrows has tried his best to make a living, but has fallen back into some of his past criminal behaviour. One day when he arrives back at his home, he sees an old familiar face sitting on his porch: Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell. Apparently he has just been released from prison, but he brings with him a message that is kind of hard to believe. Bagwell shows Burrows a picture of Michael sitting inside a prison in Yemen, alive and well. Lincoln at first thinks this is all a trick. But soon certain events are starting to happen that are beginning to make him doubt. Reaching out to Michael’s former wife Sara, who is now remarried, he says he is going to Yemen to find out the truth once and for all. But why has Michael not reached out to them once in all those years? And is Michael still the same man he was or has he turned into someone who is all but unrecognisable……

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Let’s see you break out of this one…I dare you. 

 

So the question I guess that is very valid to ask for this fifth season is: Do we really need this? As I mentioned before I was quite happy with the way the show ended. It gave closure to all the storylines and characters and nothing was left untouched. When you do something like this, you of course run the risk of ruining things. But before I get into that, let’s first start with the positives. It was awesome to spent some time again with all the old familiar faces. Fan favorites T-Bag, Sucre and C-Note all returned for this, and played in a few critical events. However the main focus was on Michael, Lincoln and Sara, and that was a good thing. It’s almost as if they never left, and it was great to see the actors play again and reprise the roles of these beloved characters. The cast is joined by a couple of new characters as well, of which the most interesting one is Whip. There is a revelation about him later on in the season which I certainly did not see coming. He is a great character and played very well by actor Augustus Prew.

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Looking at this picture it’s kind of hard to tell if this is Prison Break or the Walking Dead.

Another thing that was very positive was that this season takes us all over the world. Most of the time is spent in Yemen and these were definitely the best episodes. They don’t call this series Prison Break for nothing, and of course a jailbreak is again part of the story. But the location itself adds a pretty cool element, and gives it a bit more flavour. The problem I had with this event series is that it all started very well, but then something just went wrong. The first couple of episodes were full of action, had a lot of tension, and some nice twists and turns. But by the time the series hits episode 7 it all started to drag a little bit. It’s almost as if the money ran out, and the writers were told they had to finish it all. As such we end up with a really rushed finale that just did not leave a lasting impression and left me feeling a bit hollow. It again brings me back to my original question, did we really need this?

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Please tell me that we are not doing another season after this one. 

It’s a tough question to answer. I can honestly say that this certainly wasn’t a bad season. For fans of the series, there was enough in it to certainly make it a worthwhile watch. It was nice to see most of the original cast returning for this, and in the beginning it recaptured a lot of the magic of what made the show so awesome in the first place. But the wrap up for this event series did leave a lot to be desired. If this season would not have been made, I would not have felt left out in any way whatsoever. I’m going to leave it up to you to decide whether or not you should watch this. If you are a fan I guess you will enjoy it, I won’t lie to you there. To give you a little bit of an impression for this season I’m going to leave you with the trailer.

I give Prison Break Event Series a 7 out of 10 score.