Tag Archives: Asian

A D-mail conversation with Raistlin (part 2)

Hello everyone!

Today I’m presenting you a new collab project that I am very excited about. And my partner in time, erm crime, is none other than the wonderful Irina. We have been planning to do a project together for quite a while now, and we finally succeeded! It’s probably no secret whatsoever for everyone who knows Irina, that she is a massive Steins; Gate fan. I however had a different opinion on it when I first saw it. Seeing as that would make for a very interesting discussion our plan was to write a post about our different viewpoints. I did want to do a rewatch to refresh my memory seeing as it had been quite a while since I had last seen it. And that pretty much threw our entire original plan out of the window (yep, that blame is on me). But everything worked out fine in the end as now Irina and me now bring you a semi fictional time travel review for Steins; Gate. The fun started out on Irina’s blog last week: check it our right here! Today it’s my turn. It was so much fun writing this, and I really hope you will enjoy reading it just as much!

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You see that the original plan was all worked out already on the board.

Inbox G-mail: Raistlin 0903, dated 2017/18/02

From: Irina

It’s better with friends

Hi Guys! I have just watched an absolutely amazing anime for the first second time called Steins Gate and I just had to share my thoughts on it with you. Now this show is a fan favorite, and no one is more passionate about it than a blogger who you probably haven’t even met yet called Irina. I’m telling you all that should keep an eye on her in the future as she is destined to make an enormous impact in the wordpress blogging community. Don’t ask me how or why I even know this, I just do: and trust me she is awesome, kind and an amazing blogger, and I just can’t wait for you all to meet her!

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Don’t you go and question my wisdom for this now!

Anyways, back to the show. I think the most important thing for me to start with is mentioning the great cast of characters.When Stein’s Gate starts we meet up with the strange and pretty goofy character Rintaro Okabe. He sees himself as a “mad scientist” and pretty much can’t stop talking about that fact. Seeing conspiracies everywhere he also runs a laboratory in his appartment together with his friends the loveable Mayuri Shiina and Itaru Hashida. And I do say loveable as Mayuri is just the most innocent and sweet girl you are ever likely to meet. There is not a single evil thought in her mind, and I also love the fact that she talks about herself in third person. She is a childhood friend of Okabe and the two of them share a very deep bond. Itaru also known as Daru, is just so much fun. He is a hacker, otaku, totally in love with Faris who runs the maid cafe MayQueen Nyan Nyan (don’t ask) and also a bit of a hentai (pervert). But he definitely delivers most of the comic relief in this anime.

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Who are you calling a hentai here?

But if you think the fun stops just with these three characters think again! It would be a mortal sin for me not to mention Kurisu. She is one of the strongest characters in the show, and serves as the voice of reason to Rintaro’s madness (but IS it really madness??). I loved her growth as a character. Where she starts of as this pretty serious woman, in later episodes she becomes more vulnerable, and as such it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with her. And a certain someone does. Did I mention this show has a lot of great female characters? Because it doesn’t stop with Kurisu. Rintaro’s laboratory is situated above the CRT television store run by mister Braun (Well, that’s what Okabe calls him anyway as that isn’t really his name). Now this gruff, but still very kind hearted man one day, after the shortest job interview ever, hires a new employee: the feisty and mysterious Suzuha.

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Sorry I don’t have a clue WHAT you are talking about right now.

This young girl soon meets up with the rest of the cast, and as the story progresses you get this feeling that she knows more about what’s going on then she lets on. I loved her warrior like mentality, as well as the many great conversations that she has with Okabe. Speaking of mysterious let’s not forget Moeka. Being the paranoid guy that he is, Okabe is at first shocked when this woman seems to be taking pictures of him with her phone. It becomes even weirder as pretty much the only way she communicates is by sending him texts on his phone. This often results in hilarious moments, where Rintaro is giving one of his many speeches, and keeps getting interrupted by texts on his cell by Moeka. Last but not least there is Ruka who looks like a girl, but is in fact a man (or is he?). Pretty much the only one who seems to know that is Okabe, but of course he is ridiculed by all the other characters (and often scolded at) for even so much as implying that. Ruka is really shy, but also very sweet and kind.

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Let me see if you are feeling alright here. Isn’t this a bit too much praise?

This cast is phenomenal and one of the many reasons this anime works so well. Steins Gate is full of dialogue, some of it funny, some of it really serious, and at other times heartbreaking. But all of it feels as if you are looking at lifelike and real human beings. In fact I would go as far as saying that this show might contain some of the best characters ever seen in an anime. Period! Yep, that is a bold statement I know, but I stand by it. I could have just mentioned only three characters and be done with it, but that would not really get my point across. So that’s why I took some time to introduce this wonderful cast, and it’s importance in this anime. Because every single one of them, even Faris who I didn’t talk about much, has an important role to play in the unfolding events. And if there is one thing I like as you know, it’s characters that you grow to care about. This anime achieves that, and then some.

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Angels of Death, anime tv series (2018)

Let me just start off this post by saying that I really suck at dropping shows. When I start with something, whether it’s anime or a regular tv show, I have a really hard time just not finishing it. No matter how bad it gets. I always have that nagging voice in my head whenever something is starting to turn ugly that keeps saying “ But what if it turns really good later on?”. It’s crazy isn’t it? I’m sure I’m not the only one that does this either. So why do we put ourselves through this kind of torture? (Aside from maybe having some very masochistic tendencies?) I have had plenty of times where I finished a show and found myself wondering why I wasted so many hours of my life on a piece of crap. And I honestly still don’t have a real answer either. If you have a cure in some way for this sickness let me know alright? Well, of course there is a reason for me bringing this up right now, as the anime I am about to review is one of those type of shows. Angels of Death was dropped by a lot of people after the first few episodes. I stuck with it though and I was not alone as a few others did as well, most notably the wonderful Irina.

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Yes Rachel: Everybody hates you.

Irina wrote some terrific weekly posts on it (but then again everything she writes is terrific so if you are not yet following her yet, a fact I doubt very much, please do so now), and we had fun in exchanging thoughts on a weekly basis. Moreover we also were pretty much on the same page for most of the time. Now, I am writing this post on saturday, and her post for the final episode will come out tomorrow. As such I have yet to discover what her thoughts on the show’s finale will be. But I digress. Is Angels of Death really such a bad anime? Let’s first talk about what this show is about, before I will be answering that one question. In Angels of Death a young girl called Rachel wakes up in an unfamiliar building having no memories of who she really is. While exploring the building she runs into the scythe wielding psychopath known as Zack. He is covered from head to toe in bandages and he immediately tries to kill her. Eventually though a really strange bond begins to form between the two of them. And it becomes even stranger because of a promise that is made between the killer and the girl. But the building holds many secrets, and many strange and terrifying occupants. Will the two of them be able to escape this nightmare…..

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He seems like such a nice guy doesn’t he? Newsflash: he really isn’t.

The first episode of Angels of Death was good. I would not say great, but it really set up an anime that had some great potential. A creepy atmosphere, a few fun and over the top characters, and some nice tension. Though there were a few cringeworthy bits like some cheesy voice-acting overall it promised us an entertaining B-type horror anime. Now understand that I sometimes love watching “So bad it’s good horror movies/animes”. I enjoyed King’s Game for instance, and well most of you know how awful that one sometimes was. Angels of Death though, sadly did not fall into that category. After the first episode, the second one turned the show into something totally different. It went into a real weird comedy act, that just felt completely out of place, especially when compared to the way the show started. But it did not stay that way (luckily: else I really might have dropped it), but it also didn’t become much better. There were some episodes that showed a hint of what might have been. At the halfway point I genuinely thought that the show was about to redeem itself. There were even some real attempts at character development (gasp) and the story became more interesting too.

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Stuck in an elevator….

Now that we are talking about the characters let’s just take a little sidestep and explore the two leads. First up it’s Rachel. Young girl, blonde, doesn’t smile a lot and talks in a really monotone voice. (If you are beginning to feel like my writing is turning a bit into the sarcastic territory, you would be right). She was just a very uninteresting lead, and over the course of the show I just could not find any symphathy for her, like at all. Even when we got to learn a little bit more about her background and what exactly made her tick, I found that I could not care less about her. Strangely enough it was Zack that eventually kept me returning each week to watch this. At first I really thought he was quite the annoying guy, with a grating voice that would give Asta from Black Clover a run for his money. (Yeah, you are right…no one can beat Asta in the annoying voice department). But he grew on me, and eventually I really liked him, a lot. There was just something cool about him. He provided the best moments in the show in my opinion, and without him this anime would really have been a total loss.

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Sorry Rachel, I’m immune to your innocent girl act. I still don’t like you.

Which is not to say that it wasn’t. Angels of Death is based on a videogame, and at times it felt like we were watching that. Progress from Room A to Room B, find a key, move on…repeat. While this is sounding a bit harsh, and the show certainly did have some good episodes later on, overall it’s an anime that was just too uneven to recommend it to you. I kept hoping for a final episode that might have, in some way, at least redeemed the show but even that was simply not to be. The ending was as lackluster as most of this anime was, and after spending 16 weeks with this, I’m honestly feeling a bit relieved that it’s over now. There are two things that I will miss: Zack, and Irina’s posts for this one. Other than that though, this is an anime that will slowly fade from my memory and I won’t regret that in any way. So have I now learned my lesson and will I start dropping shows like flies? Erm…probably not. I’m even considering returning to Black Clover. Okay…maybe not…

I give Angels of Death a 5 out of 10 score.

Seasonal Anime: A first impression post!

Has the Raist finally gone mad? Is this really a first impression post on seasonal anime that is appearing on this blog? Does this mean that Raistlin0903 is turning in an anime blog? Let me put your minds at ease by saying that the answer to two of these questions is no. So which of these questions has another answer? Well, I have not gone mad, as I was already quite mad to start with. Right, so with all that out of the way why do a post like this? My blog has been and always shall be a multitopic blog. I have way too many hobbies, and I like talking about all of them here, so that’s not going to change. The reason I started watching seasonal anime at the beginning of this year is that I have really enjoyed the interaction with everyone talking about what happened in a new episode on a weekly basis. It was like we all sat down together in a big room, with our favorite snacks and drinks and watched an episode at the same time. Now I am sorry to say that I am not going to be writing weekly episode reviews on the new shows.

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Imagine that this is showing up in your local neighbourhood.

For one thing it would take up too much time that I don’t have. For another it would mean this blog really would be focussing too much on anime, and I have a lot of readers that also like to read about other things such as movies, Korean dramas and boardgames. But I thought it would be nice to write a post about the new shows that I have started watching since this weekend and let you know my thoughts on them. So this really is a first for my blog, but I hope you will like it nonetheless. Usually I try to keep up with about 4-5 shows. I already struggle with that amount, let alone any more. So that’s why I am now watching a total of six new shows. Erm…right. I’m as surprised as you are. No idea if I can stick with all of these, but I am going to try as so far all of them have been a blast. Well, let’s get cracking and reveal them!

Zombieland Saga

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Genre: Comedy, Horror   

Most of you know that I am not a huge fan of comedy. But sometimes there are exceptions and this anime is one of them. This show is completely insane, and that’s probably why I am enjoying it so much. Highschool girl Sakura Minamoto is tragically killed when she gets run over by a car. But her story doesn’t end there. Ten years later she finds herself resurrected as a zombie and together with a bunch of other girls that have also turned into the living dead, they have to save the so called Saga Prefecture…..as an idol group! Now if this plot doesn’t sound totally crazy wait till you see the show itself. I had tears in my eyes from laughing when these girls went up on stage, headbanging to death metal and it’s probably one of the craziest scenes I have ever seen in an anime. I have no idea where this show will go or if it will continue to be this much fun, but so far I am really enjoying it.

First Impression Score: 8 out of 10

Goblin Slayer

 

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Genre: Fantasy

As much as I love the fantasy genre, weirdly enough I have hardly seen any fantasy anime shows. Yeah, I know right, that is strange. So, with Goblin Slayer I hope to change that. A young and very inexperienced priestess, joins an adventuring party on a quest to fight a bunch of nasty goblins. But soon all hell breaks loose, and she finds herself in big trouble. Just when all hope seems lost a mysterious stranger who introduces himself as Goblin Slayer enters the field. This show felt like I was playing Dungeons and Dragons again. I was pretty surprised by the brutality on display here though. Blood flew everywhere, but it was especially the violence against some of the women here (there was even a rape scene) that kind of threw me off. That said though, I still thought this was a solid first episode and I especially like the look of what I assume to be the hero of this anime, Goblin Slayer. So, I’m going to see where this will go.

First Impression Score: 7 out of 10

SSSS. Gridman

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Genre: Science Fiction, Mecha

I already described this one on twitter as the anime version of Pacific Rim and I think that description is fairly accurate. Yūta Hibiki is a highschool boy who has lost his memory. On an old computersystem someone that introduces himself as Hyper Agent Gridman appears and tells the boy he has a mission to fullfill. Apperently he is the only one who can see Gridman too. When a huge monster appears in his city, Yūta has to step up to the call. This first episode was very enjoyable. I loved the fight sequence between the monster and the huge robot, and it kind of gave me this old school anime vibe. Can’t say much more about this one yet though. I do hope it won’t turn into one of those “monster of the week” type of shows which would be kind of a shame. Other than that I kind of enjoyed this for what it was, and look forward to next week’s episode.

First Impression Score: 8 out of 10

Rascal does not dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

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Genre: Romance, Highschool, Supernatural

This is a show I would probably have passed over had I not read about it over on Karandi’s blog. Because really, that title is just crazy. Surprisingly enough, this is the show that has left the biggest impression on me. Highschool boy Sakuta Azusagawa sees a mysterious girl in the school library wearing a bunny suit. If that wasn’t strange enough already he is the only one who can see her. The girl called Mai Sakurajima is a teenage actress who is on hiatus, and is now suffering from what they call “ Adolescence Syndrome”. More and more people are unable to see the girl, and this of course leads to all kinds of problems. How do you order food for instance when no one is able to see you? To say I loved this first episode is an understatement. The entire show just had a certain vibe to it, and I loved the dialogue between the two leads. Add to this the mystery element, as well as some pretty relatable themes and this for me has turned into my favorite show so far.

First Impression Score: 9 out of 10

Sword Art Online: Alicization

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Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Yes people Sword Art Online is back for it’s third season which of course will probably start up all the discussions again on how many people are going to hate on this. I don’t care and I’m proud to say it too: I freaking LOVE this show. The first episode of this new season was 47 minutes long and it was a very strong start of this new arc in my opinion. Kirito and Asuna, as well as a bunch of other fan favorite characters all make a welcome return, with an episode that felt a lot like we were back in the first season of this wonderful anime. Some great action sequences (Yay, we had dragons), a new and mysterious world, and a lot of questions is pretty much what I experienced while watching this opening episode. I do have to say that in all honesty there was a lot of information thrown at us, and some of it still hasn’t really registered with me. But I’m pretty sure with a whopping 50 episode count, there will be enough time to explain all this. Either way, I really had a good time watching it and can’t wait to see how the new season will progress.

First Impression Score: 8 out of 10

Last Impression

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I’m mad!!! Where is show number six!!!!!!

So, observant readers will probably notice that I mentioned I would be watching six shows. But I have only written about five of them. Where is number six? Well, it’s not a new show and it is only a continuation of last season. I’m of course talking about an anime that needs no introduction (and if it does, where have you been all this time): Attack on Titan. The third season so far, while having a totally different vibe than the previous two, has been a total joy to watch. I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will stay that way, because right now, it’s slowly turning into my favorite season so far.Well this post is long enough now, so it’s time to put an end to this. I hope you like the choices that I have made (and feel free to let me know in the comments), and I look forward to discussing all these new shows in the upcoming weeks with you. I hope everyone will have a lot of fun watching this season. Thanks for reading and see you on the next post!

Cells At Work, Anime tv series (2018)

I seriously hate being sick. My vacation this year started off with a very annoying flu bug which resulted in me wasting a lot of precious time feeling miserable in bed and trying to get rid of it. Well, not just me, I guess the real job is being done by that little army that’s inside me that tries to fight off those pesky germs. I have to admit though that it has been doing a bit of a lousy job this year, as I have been sick quite a lot. But then again I have always been pretty susceptible to flu. If someone so much as sneezes near me, I might already catch it. The thing is though, that it seems the older we get, the more terrible we can feel from something as simple as a flu. Or maybe that is just me, I don’t know. You are probably wondering where I am going with all of this, if you haven’t already zoned out in the first place. (Which I won’t hold against you I promise). Well, the thing is, in case you don’t know this already, but anime has a knack for coming up with some pretty unique stories at times. Usually these translate into high concept science fiction or fantasy series, but this season’s Cells At Work takes a completely different approach.

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I bet you never knew that this is what your body looks from the inside huh?

I usually go into a lengthy segment where I begin describing the plot of whatever it is I am about to review at this point, but in this case I won’t be doing that. Or I think a better phrase is: I can’t do that. Simply because I can sum up the plot of this anime series in pretty much one sentence. Cells at work takes a look inside the human body, at the cells that erm work there, whilst they are trying to fight off all kinds of things that get’s thrown at them. Yep, there really is nothing more to it than that. The first time I heard of this I think I had the same reaction that you might have right now in case you are not familiar with this anime: this sounds soooo boring. Well, that’s where you are wrong. Cells at work is a unique animeseries, that is guaranteed to make you smile. Having just finished the final episode for it this morning I immediately went to work on writing my review for this. While it’s not a series without flaws, it’s certainly one that has so many good things going for it, that only a very cynical or heartless person can’t find enjoyment in this.

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Red Bloodcell delivering the goods!

Let’s start with the world building this series does first. As mentioned it takes a look inside the human body, but not in the way you would think. Veins, organs, and all the other stuff that makes you tick are represented as a living, breathing cityscape. And it all looks so incredibly clever. Many times I found myself wondering at the ingenuity of all the ideas that were put into this little gem. It became even more fun when certain diseases or injuries occured. Yeah I know how that sounds, but bare with me. There was an episode for instance where the body found itself suffering from a heatstroke. The landscape changed to a scorching desert, with the sweat glands looking like water reservoirs that were drained. Things like these and many more like them, are just some of the many events that made me smile every time when I watched an episode. The series doesn’t shy away from going into dark places either, showing not only small diseases and minor injuries, but at one point it even adressed cancer. I really had not expected the series to go there, but it did, and it was done in a very tasteful way as well. It truly showed the horrible effects of that terrible disease without getting too dark.

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Yep, White Bloodcell does like to get messy sometimes!

But world building aside, it’s the characters that are the real shining stars in this anime. The main focus lies on a white and red blood cell, two characters that couldn’t be more different from each other. Red Blood Cell is a young girl that at the beginning of the series is always getting lost in trying to deliver oxygen to different places. She is insecure,  but at the same time still courageous as well and just someone who you can’t help but fall in love with right from the start. It’s nice to see her grow during the course of the series, and especially in the final two episodes she really steps up to the blood, erm plate. White Blood Cell however, is the completely opposite. Represented as a young male, he is the courageous hero that fights off all the germs and other horrible things that attack the body. And he often gets very bloody while doing that. But, at the same time he really has a heart and a soft spot for Red Blood Cell, which he always ends up having to rescue. There are many other characters who we meet during the course of the series, but it would go too far to mention them all.

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You do know that I had to at least add one picture of a platelet right?

However, it would be a horrible omission on my part if I were not to at least adress the platelets. If there is ever going to be an awards ceremony for cutest characters in a anime series, they would win it no question about it. They were absolutely loveable (and did I mention they were cute?) and maybe the best thing the series had to offer. You really wanted pretty much every episode to have at least one moment that we could spent with them. Well, now that we had all the positives there is something that this show does that if this had been any other series, might have let you drop the show before it ended. And that’s become repetitive. Basically nearly every episode dealt with the cells fighting off a new threat to the body. It’s the strength of this anime, that it didn’t become boring, but it was one of the things that I wished could have been handled in a different way. However, it has to be said, I just can’t find myself writing negatively about this series. It really was an incredibly fun anime, with a unique premise executed in a wonderful way. The next time I’m sick or injured I hope the cells will do their work again. So I guess the message is: treat your body well, and live healthy. Your cells will thank you for it!

I give Cells At Work a 8 out of 10 score.

 

A Silent Voice, Japanese (animated) Movie (2016)

Those of you that have been following me for a while now, and know me a little, probably recall the fact that I mentioned at times that I have been bullied for quite a while at school when I was young. Obviously it’s a past that I don’t like to recall often, as it was a very dark time in my life. But I never really talked about the after effects, and what it meant for the present. A couple of days ago I heard on national television that this year the stats for children being bullied at school were at an alltime low. I scoffed at that. Stats? Really? I think every child that has to go through that every day is one too many. Statistics be damned. Because bullying can have long time effects. For me it has meant a low self esteem and second guessing myself. Always having doubts. Like when someone doesn’t answer a text I sent. (Maybe I said something wrong and the person doesn’t like me anymore? Which obviously usually isn’t the case). But even worse is probably the fact that I have trouble connecting with people at times in real life. Especially when it comes to maybe falling in love. (Because really can someone fall in love with me?) All these dark thoughts aside….I have made progress over the years. Which is a good thing.

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How anyone can even remotely consider bullying this sweet girl is beyond me…..

At one point I was just done with it all. The self pity, or the fact that people might not like me. I began to think more along the lines of when people don’t like me, it’s their loss. And that certainly helped. While I will never fully lose those feelings, I do think it get’s better over time. But this all goes to show what bullying can really do to someone, and that the bullies themselves probably don’t even realise this (or couldn’t care less). The movie A Silent Voice deals with bullying, but it does this in a different way then one might expect. Shōya Ishida is a young and popular boy in his class which also means that a lot of the other children listen to what he has to say. One day a new girl called Shōko Nishimiya is introduced to the class. Well, she has to introduce herself but does this in a very unusual way. She pulls out a notepad, begins to write in it and then shows it to the classroom. It says that in order to get to know her, people can use the notepad. You see, Shōko is deaf. The class at first doesn’t really know how to deal with it. After a few days though, Shōya begins to set the tone, and starts to terrorise the poor girl. Even going so far as pulling out her hearing aids. Yeah…he is a real tough guy.

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I nearly went berserk during this scene. 

But when the principal eventually gets word of this and begins to ask questions about who is responsible, the rest of the class pulls away from Shōya. In fact the tables are turned and his classmates begin to bully him. Shōko eventually leaves the school, getting a transfer, and life moves on. Years later though Shōya begins to feel remorse. His own life is not really going well, and he decides to try and find out what has become of the the girl whose life he made miserable. But is she really willing to forgive him? Or an even better question would be should she even forgive him? I’m not going to lie here, A Silent Voice is not a happy go lucky film. It deals with a lot of things that might trigger unwanted feelings in quite a number of people. Heavy themes such as bullying and suicide all feature prominently in this movie. But it’s also a film that gives hope. There is a line in this anime that says even monsters have a heart. While I’m not so sure if that’s true for every monster, I’m definitely convinced that it’s true in a lot of cases. While there might certainly be children that bully simply because they enjoy it, there is usually more going on.

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X in this case doesn’t mark the spot. 

What I loved about this film is the fact that it shows that people can really change. When you first meet Shōya you begin to develop intense feelings of hate towards him. Especially because of the fact that the object of his reign of terror is one of the most innocent and sweet girls one is likely to meet. But as the movie progresses this changes. You really begin to believe the fact that the boy, now a young man, has changed, and really attempts to make the best of his earlier mistakes. It also helps when you see what has become of Shōya‘s own life. He has trouble talking to people (Which is represented by people having large X’s on their faces. Something I thought was really unique and clever). And his life really isn’t all that great either. Yes one could argue he had it coming. But without giving too much away, you will also see that friendship can sometimes come from the most unlikeliest places. And that’s where the hope lies within this film. It really emphasises how important friendship truly is. Certain people in your life can give you confidence, and I’m glad to say I have those in mine.

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Now, is it me or does the hairstyle of the second guy on the left remind you of a certain someone in a certain anime?

A Silent Voice also has a great animation style. It might not appeal to everyone, and it’s certainly not the best I’ve seen, but I really liked the way the characters were designed, and the way all the backgrounds blended together with these. This movie clocks in at a little over two hours, and I think my only gripe with it is that it might have been slightly too long. There were a few points in the film, where my attention started to waver. But, these moments were never very long, and certainly didn’t spoil the film in any way. This is simply one of those films that I think is very powerful, and deals with a pretty heavy subject matter in a beautiful way. It contains some very likeable characters, an amazing storyline, and ultimately ends up giving hope to people that have been on the receiving end of these kinds of experiences. At times it might make you a little melancholy, but when the credits start to role you will have a film to look back upon that you will be glad to have seen.

I give A Silent Voice a 9 out of 10 score.

Bleach, Japanese movie (2018)

There are times when I feel like I am a total noob when it comes to anime. Yes, I know that I need to give myself some credit and say that I still seem to watch it enough, and am maybe not a complete and utterly ignorant person when it comes to this medium. But, nonetheless there are still a lot of fan favorite shows that I have only heard of by name, but have never seen. I do like a challenge and still try to catch up with some shows. I have to say though, that nothing is more daunting than having some animes now have over 300 episodes (and some even reaching more staggering amounts). As much as I would love to watch some of those, I know that realistically I simply don’t have the time to see those kind of numbers. Bleach is one of those animes. Having done some research this series has now 366 episodes. I could finish this one maybe if I would watch one episode a day. But I know that I am deluding myself, and will simply admit defeat. Recently Netflix has released a live action movie for it that came recommended to me by Karandi.

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Why….so….serious!

Well, I assume a lot of you are probably already thinking that you will move on, and pass  on this one. I would not even blame you. When it comes to live action adaptations I often find myself wondering what the point of these are. The people that love anime, love exactly that: anime! So why turn an animation into a live action version? Probably to hopefully reach a bigger audience, and maybe get people interested in it more. But often they are just cash grabs, and are dowright mediocre, or even worse: total crap. However there are always exceptions to the rule, and Bleach seems to be one of them at least. Now, as I knew literally next to nothing about the anime (only the name and that a lot of people seem to think very highly of it), I also had the unique position that I had nothing to compare it too. Which also meant that I had no expectations for it. So if you are looking for a review that describes how well (or how badly) it holds up to the original anime, you are better off reading Karandi’s excellent post for it. I really enjoyed reading that one, and it also gave me a little insight in the anime. So what will I be doing here than in this post? Well, I’m just going to give you a review as if this were any other movie. I know, boring right? Hey, I never said that I wasn’t predictable.

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Pointing your sword that way is just asking for trouble these days….

Remember the phrase “ I see dead people” from the amazing film The Sixth Sense? No? Ugh, shame on you. Well anyways, Ichigo Kurosaki can see them too. Who is this guy you ask? Erm, okay I guess I am kind of jumping into this a little bit too fast. Ichigo Kurosaki is  a teenager and the hero of this movie. Now with that explanation given, lets move on. One day his ability to see ghosts, lets him meet up with Rukia Kuchiki. And she is not just a simple ghost, but has the badass job description of being a Soul Reaper. Now this means she has a mission to guide the souls of dead people to a place called the Soul Society. While this might not sound too bad, there is also a darker side to her mission. And that comes in the form of Hollows, absolutely horrific looking lost souls, that can both harm ghosts and the living. While in the middle of a fight with one of them, trying to defend Ichigo and his young sister, Rukia gets hurt pretty badly. She makes a decision to transfer her powers to Ichigo. But these new powers might just be more than the young man can handle. Not only does he have a fight on his hands with a monstrous Hollow called the Grand Fisher, but there also two Soul Reapers that have it in for him. And they don’t seem all that pleased that he now has Rukia’s powers…..

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Some people just have a big mouth!

Bleach is an action packed, sometimes funny, sometimes scary movie, that certainly was worth the watch. Not everything in this movie worked, but overall this movie definitely entertained. Let’s start with the cast first. The main hero is played by actor Sota Fukushi. He does a pretty adequate job in portraying a bit of a cynical teenager who while at times seems to be in way over his head, still manages to hold his own in the new situation he finds himself in. I do say adequate because quite honestly I didn’t think his acting abilities were too good. In the many action sequences the film contains however, he does come across as very convincing. I liked the character of Rukia more though. Played by actress Hana Sugisaki, she played a role that was quite endearing. The young Soul Reaper was one of those characters that tries to be tough, but really has a heart of gold. It was nice to see her try to avoid becoming a friend to Ichigo, but of course in the end failing to do so. The rest of the cast had far less screentime and as such was harder to form an attachment too. The two other Soul Reapers that had a score to settle with Ichigo I found to be overacting at times, but maybe that was the way their characters were supposed to be like.

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Seriously dude, you need to do something with that hair of yours. 

So how about the special effects then? I have to say that they were very convincing and quite good. I really loved the designs of the Hollows, and as far as monster designs go they were pretty horrific. Action wise, the film has some seriously cool swordfights, and ofcourse Ichigo trying to defeat the monstrous lost souls. All of these scenes looked top notch, and were quite enjoyable. The end fight sequence though was a little bit disappointing. It went pretty overboard and it even became laughable which is something I don’t think was what they intended it to be. Overall though, Bleach is quite the entertaining film. It contains some quirky but fun characters, a nice storyline and great action. Not knowing anything about the anime, I do find myself beginning to realise why this one has become such a fan favorite. Maybe I should set aside some time to go ahead and watch it anyway. It is after all only 366 episodes long. Yeah…right….like that will ever happen. Oh well, wishful thinking I guess.

I give Bleach a 7 out of 10 score.

Violet Evergarden, Anime tv Series (2018)

Love is beautiful. It can give you wings, and make you feel like you can take on the entire world by yourself. It’s one of the most powerful emotions we have access too, and when that sting of cupid’s arrow has found you, you might just be the luckiest man or woman alive. But love can also be a cruel mistress. It can hurt….an awful lot. You might at times feel as if your heart is literally ripped out from your chest whenever the one you loved leaves you. Because either the love has died, or even worse when that person has left the world of the living behind, never to return. It is at times like that you probably wish you would have a switch that can turn off your emotions just like that. But if only life were that easy. There are days when I can feel very melancholy. Because love has not yet entered my life, and because there are days that I feel it never will. Even though those days are hard, I try to not give up hope. And sometimes, just sometimes there is something that can give you a new boost of hope. I have always said that one of the highest achievements any kind of medium can achieve, is fill you with emotions. Violet Evergarden is an anime series that does just that, and than some….

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No this is not a remake of Mary Poppins.

Violet Evergarden is a breathtaking anime series that tells the tale of the “ Auto Memory Doll” with the same name. Violet used to be a soldier and was left behind on the battlefield badly injured whilst protecting her commanding officer Major Gilbert Bougainvillea. This resulted in the loss of both her arms. She did surive the ordeal, and her arms got replaced by metal prosthesis. After the war, Violet has a hard time trying to adjust to life. One day an old friend of Major Gilbert visits her and decides to show her the business he owns, the CH postal office. In that place Auto Memory Dolls write letters for people who have a hard time finding the correct words to say, and putting them to paper. Violet gets hired to work there, but at first it’s very hard to find her place. Especially since she has been trying to make sense of the very last words Major Gilbert told her: “ I love you” . As Violet has no real way of understanding emotions, it becomes increasingly more difficult for her to cope with all the feelings that are inside her. But as time progresses, and she encounters more and more people with feelings that rival her own, Violet begins to live again. But dark clouds of war seem to loom on the horizon, and the safe world that she has created around her, might just burst into flames again…..

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I did say that this anime looks breathtaking did I not?

Where do I start reviewing an anime that has left me literally in tears for quite a number of times during it’s run. I’m not even joking here. I cried, because the emotions in this series were so very, very real. An anime like this doesn’t come around very often. I have seen and read numerous reviews for this one, and those have been very mixed indeed. Some people loved it, some people hated it. As for me? I thought this was a masterpiece. Right from the very first opening scene this anime captured my heart, and did not let go of it until the very last episode. I must first mention the absolutely astounding level of detail that went into this anime. The wordbuilding, the characters, the amazing music, everything just looks and sounds top notch. It is a world that is utterly believable and that just makes you invested in this even more. The high quality level of animation that is presented here at numerous times takes your breath away. Beautifully drawn landscapes, cities, sunsets, it all looks absolutely amazing.

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Sometimes you just want to hit someone on the head.

But it’s the story that makes this anime so very worthwhile. I have heard people mention them really disliking the character of Violet. Because of her at times static responses and the way she repeats things like saying she wants to understand love. But one must not forget that she is not really human. She is a doll. And because of that her responses initially are static. But the farther the series progresses, the more I fell in love with this character. Her struggle with trying to become human, and trying to grasp the feeling of love that was in her all along but which she just didn’t know, was simply fascinating to watch. In one of the later episodes she has to write letters for a dying mother, who has a a very young daughter. It was during that episode that I really broke down at the end. I had to pause because the emotions on display during those 24 minutes were almost too much. And it was in that episode that I think Violet grew into an even more humane character than she already was.

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You always need to keep smiling, even if that means pulling your face off.

Violet Evergarden starts off quite slow. It takes a while for it to really get going, which is why it requires a little bit of patience as well. But the payoff is incredible, and I for one had no problem with the initial slower episodes. Despite the fact that this is a series that is at it’s heart a romance story, there are also episodes that focus on the war. Both the impending one, and the one in the past. Actionwise, this sometimes results in some cool fight sequences, but beware as this certainly is not an action series. While the main story is of course about Violet herself, there were also quite a number of very interesting supporting characters. It would go to far to name all of them, but suffice it to say that at her place of work there certainly are a number of coworkers who you will grow very fond of too. After 13 episodes I felt sad to be leaving this world behind. I was delighted to see however that a new project is in the works, and one can only hope that it will arrive very soon.

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And some of the other dolls…erm..litterally, not trying to offend here.

So in case it wasn’t clear yet, I absolutely loved this anime. It was a beautiful and very fascinating journey to behold, although I certainly would recommend to keep a few boxes of tissues close by. It gives us a good and often important lesson about emotions, especially one of the most powerful ones: Love. Where Violet struggles to grasp the meaning of the word altogether we often struggle to keep a hold of it. For we often fear the pain of loss, or heartbreak. But I would say after having seen this, never fear that feeling. For our lives are fleeting and might be over before you know it. If love does cross your path grasp it with both hands, and try to keep a hold of this as best you can, never letting go. And even if you might not always be able to exactly say what you might feel, this anime has a solution for that as well. Put your words in a letter, as that can be just as powerful as saying the words out loud. And I am sure that Violet would be willing to give you a helping hand with that…

I give Violet Evergarden a 10 out of 10 score.

Lawless Lawyer, Korean drama series (2018)

There is very thin line between justice and revenge. What many people might consider justice, might just barely scratch the surface for some of the victims of a crime. Or even worse: what if the crime isn’t punished at all, and the perpetrator that committed it walks free? I think history has plenty of examples for that. One only has to look at the O.J. Simpson trial to see what I mean. Good thing though that eventually the law cought up with that guy. However it’s when things like that happen, that you start to wonder if the law sometimes is enough. What would you do if you were the victim of a crime and find out that justice isn’t being served? I’m not talking about something petty, like a purse being stolen (although that can be annoying as well of course). No I am talking about the big crimes: murder, rape, etc. I consider myself a pretty peace loving guy, but if someone close to me got hurt, and I find out who has caused it…Well let’s just say that Bill Bixby in the classic tv-series of the Hulk said it correctly: You would not like me when I’m angry! After seeing Lawless Lawyer though, I think you will find out that you can hand out revenge in an even better way: by the law itself!

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Some people just don’t know how to eat their food properly. 

Meet Bong Sang-pil. He is confident, charming and a very convincing lawyer who has a succes rate that others can only dream of. His methods however are quite unorthodox to say the least. Having returned to his hometown of Gisung after several years, he has started up his own lawfirm Lawless Lawyers. He is not alone as he has surrounded himself with a number of colourful characters that are going to help him pursue justice. But Bong Sang-pil has something else on the agenda as well. When he was a young child his mother was murdered before his eyes by the ruthless criminal Ahn Oh-joo. Bong Sang-pil barely managed to escape, and has since then grown up under the care of his uncle who runs a gang. Now, the young lawyer wants only one thing: revenge! He eventually meets up with the female lawyer Ha Jae-yi who has recenly been dismissed from court because she punched a judge in the face. Together this unlikely pair is going to bring the law to Gisung. But there are ties from the past between the two of them, that will soon rise to the surface. It becomes clear that Ahn Oh-joo might not be the only criminal in town, as there is someone with an even higher authority that will become the real target of Bong Sang-pil’s revenge…if he can survive long enough to bring that person to justice that is…..

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Awwwwwwww ❤️❤️❤️

Sometimes you just have to watch one minute of something and you get the feeling that it’s going to be a series that will be more than worth the watch. Lawless Lawyer is just that kind of show. From the very first scene this Korean Drama series just brings a freshness with it and it hardly ever loses your attention during it’s 16 episode run. This is not just another legal drama. One of the things that I always love about K-dramas is the fact that they can turn the atmosphere of the show around in a heartbeat. When this series first starts you might think this is a comedy. But you would be wrong, dead wrong. While there is some seriously funny stuff in here as well (not the least of which is the sometimes totally crazy music that accompanies it), Lawless Lawyer is above all a terrific revenge thriller with some wonderful plot twists and an absolutely amazing cast. There are so many different things in here one would almost think it’s too much. Humor, Action, Romance, Sadness, Thrills…all of these elements are combined to give you an absolutely exhilarating experience.

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Are you serious about this? Isn’t this a little bit too much credit? 

But the one thing that really kicks this drama into overdrive is the cast. Bong Sang-pil played by Lee Joon-gi is one of those characters that you will fall instantly in love with. From the very first moment he appears he wins you over with his charm. He can play any kind of emotion and just lights up the screen with his amazing performance. And that also more than covers his physical abilities which you will see in the many fight sequences this drama contains. Another thing that works exceptionally well is his on screen chemistry with his female counterpart Ha Jae-yi, played by actress Seo Ye-ji. Here we have a woman who is not only incredibly beautiful but also displays a cold and determined confidence in her abilities. She is certainly not one to be taken lightly, and is one of the strongest female roles that I have seen in quite a while. When Bong Sang-pil and Ha Jae-yi are together it is just a delight to see them play off each other, and their romance that develops later on is all the better for it.

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One of the things you will wonder about int his show is how many suits this guy owns. 

However…the best performance and the one that makes this drama a must watch is on the parts of one of the villains, namely Ahn Oh-joo. The actor that brings this vile, but utterly delicious creature to life is Choi Min-soo. I recently sent a tweet out on Twitter claiming that if there was ever going to be an Oscar category for best villain in a Korean drama, he would win it without even having to blink. Ahn Oh-joo is just one of those thugs that you can’t help but smile at every time he enters a scene. I’m not kidding when I say that my jaw eventually began to hurt from being permanently stuck in grin mode. Ahn Oh-joo is despicable, loathsome and truly one of the lowest lifeforms you will ever encounter. And despite all that you will love him. Words alone can not really get my point across, so for a change I have included a scene with him below to let you see what I mean. I hope you will enjoy it. It’s a great confrontation between him and Bong Sang-pil, and it ends in a cliffhanger so that’s the perfect excuse to start watching this.

Now I have purposefully not said anything about who the true villain is in this review, as that would be spoiling stuff. Which is also a bit of a shame as that role is an equally impressive part and now I can’t really talk about it. Suffice it to say that developing hatred for that person is the first emotion that will rise to the surface when you see it (erm for the role that is, I’m sure that in real life the one who plays the part is a charmer). So after all that positivity are there also any negatives to the series? Well, some of the humor is at times very slapstick and there are some small scenes that make you cringe a bit. Also a few of the later episodes do tend to drag the story out longer then it needs to. But these are very minor things as above all this is a solidly entertaining dramaseries, that you will binge through in no time. One can only hope that maybe one day Bong Sang-pil and Ha Jae-yi will return fighting the good fight. I for one would not mind it at all if there were to be a second season for this.

I give Lawless Lawyer a 9 out of 10 score.

Another Episode S/O, a novel/manga by Yukito Ayatsuji (2013)

Two years ago I came across an anime series called Another and I completely fell in love with it. Which is strange considering it’s a horrorseries, and a pretty bloody one at that. But what set Another apart is the incredible storyline about a cursed schoolclass, and one amazing lead character called Mei Misaki. If you have yet to experience this terrific anime, I highly recommend watching it. It has an incredibly tense atmosphere and a storyline that is full of twists and turns. After I completed the 12 part anime I was thirsting for more and immediately went out and bought the book on which the series was based. It was another (pun intended) win for me, as it added a little bit more background to the story (although to be fair it held little suprises, as having seen the anime I already knew how the story would turn out). But apparently that wasn’t the end of the story as we now have Episode S/0 that serves as both a prequel and sequel to the original. As this book contains both a novel and a manga I’m going to handle this review a bit differently.

The looks

The first thing you will notice when you pick up this book is the amazing cover. It features Mei Masaki with a haunting look on her face, and it immediately grabs your attention. But it doesn’t stop there. When you remove the cover you find a beautiful painting on the inside as well. Flipping through the book you will later on discover an art gallery for the manga of the original anime, that contains some breathtaking images of a couple of the main characters. I have included a small gallery below to give you an idea of what I am talking about. But of course I did not just buy this book because of the way it looks. What about the story?

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Episode S

This story takes place after the events of Another and as such you could say this is a sequel of sorts. And I do say of sorts, because the story itself takes place during Another. Confused yet? Well, let me explain. In Episode S we again meet up with Mei Misaki, who is about to sit down and tell a tale to her friend Koichi Sakakibara. When Mei begins to speak, the narration switches to first person where we meet up with the main character of the story Teruya Sakaki. And he has a problem, a big one. As he is kind of, sort of dead. Yup, we have a ghost story here, and it appears a litteral one as it is actually the ghost of Teruya who is speaking to us. Teruya doesn’t remember how he ended up being dead, and eventually he meets up with Mei who can see death as we all know. Together with her help he is trying to find out what exactly happened to him, and who, if anyone, was responsible for his death.

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Episode S was a nice little mystery story, and one I quite enjoyed. I would not call this a horror story but more of a supernatural mystery. As the main storyline takes place during the events of Another that is the reason I didn’t actually call it a full sequel. Still it was nice to once again read a little bit more about Mei in this one. I do have to say that the style of writing takes a bit getting used to. We often get long pages of conversation between two characters, without really saying who is uttering a particular sentence. I often had to look back in order to find the person who started talking, and that was at times a little bit annoying. Still the story itself is pretty cool, and it contains a nice twist that I most certainly did not see coming. As this is not a horror story, there are no really gruesome or gory scenes in it. All in all this was a nice follow up to the original.

Episode 0

I am not a huge fan of prequels as I have said quite a few times, as I usually find they bring little to no surprises to the table. Episode 0 is the prequel part of this book, and it is a manga. The thing I liked about it was the amazing art. I loved the way the characters were drawn, and I could quite often just keep staring at certain pages. The story features a young Reiko Mikami during her schooldays in the year 1983. As her classmates begin to die, Reiko is trying to find out exactly what is going on and meets up with the librarian mr. Chibiki. This mysterious man seems to know more, but can he really be trusted? With a pagecount of 45 pages, this story was just way too short to leave a lasting impression. While it was nice to see a little bit more background for Reiko, I honestly could not really connect to her at all in this one. This really was more of a filler story, and certainly didn’t add anything really significant to the existing mythology of Another.

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I could not resist including an image of the Anime. It’s soooo good!

The Verdict

In the end I am left with some mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand I really enjoyed the main story of the book, despite it’s flaws. On the other the manga, while beautiful to look at feels like it was just added to give the book something to fill it up with. If you haven’t seen the anime or read the original novel, I would suggest starting there first. While both stories contained within this volume can be read on their own, you will find you will enjoy the book more if you know the background of the main characters. And not only that, Another is far superior to this, and as previously mentioned well worth it to check it out. In the end I do think this books is worth the buy, especially if you are a fan. The mainstory more than makes up for the weaker prequel story, and the art contained within if nothing else is really beautiful to look at. The writer of the book says there might be more to come in the future. I do hope that if that is true, it will go back to it’s original horror roots. But I guess, that is a story for another time….(yes I am done with the puns now).

I give Another Episode S/0 a 7 out of 10 score.

Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online, Anime tv series (2018)

It is early sunday morning and raining outside, when I enter my darkened room. An eerie sense of calm enters my body when I switch on my xbox 360 and television, take up my controller and place my headset on my ears. The screen shows the logo of the game, Unreal Tournament 3, and I scroll through the menu to select the gametype: Deathmatch. The word alone causes fear amongst players. Not to me though. I press enter and after a small loading screen I get taken to the arena where the match is about to start. Three, two, one…..play! I move slowly trying to get my bearings and then the first opponent appears. I make a show as if I am trying to raise my weapon: Bammm…I’m dead! Five minutes into the game and I haven’t made a single kill yet. I can hear players laughing and calling out my name: “ Haha…this Raistlin guy is such a noob! He must have just bought the game, what a fool!” With five more minutes left a grin of mischief appears on my face. Like a demon I start playing the game in earnest. My opponents are dropping like flies, and the overhead voice thunders” Massacre……” A thirty plus kill streak without dying…in just a few short minutes I have completely taken over the lead and win the game…….

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You can almost hear Arnold Schwarzenegger screaming: BILLY!!!!

So you are probably wondering what the hell you just read. Or if I am just making up a story. Well….no. During my gaming days there was one game I was good at: and that was Unreal Tournament 3, an online first person shooter where I at one point was number 10 on the worldwide Xbox 360 ranking lists. The scene I just described was something I did a lot in that game. Pretend I was a total klutz, only to turn the tables on every one later. So why bring this up now? Well the anime I am about to review is about a shooting game as well, though much more advanced then the ones we are used to playing right now. You might recall that in the second season of Sword Art Online Kirito entered a new virtual reality game called Gun Gale Online that used guns instead of swords (although that did not stop Kirito from using one anyway). In this spinoff series we again enter that dark gameworld, but instead of focussing on the main cast we get introduced to a new group of characters.

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Peek-a-boo!!

Karen Kohiruimaki is a university student who is abnormally tall for a woman, a fact that she has never really come to terms with. But then she discovers the Gun Gale Online game which allows her to create a character that is the exact opposite of what she is in real life. Her alter ego, or avatar called Llenn is a very small and cute girl, dressed in pink. Yes, not exactly someone you would find in a brutal shooter game. But Llenn is someone who should not be underestimated. After playing for a while Karen gets better at the game, and Llenn gets a reputation and the nickname “Pink Devil” .Soon she meets up with a mysterious woman called Pitohui, who apparently is an ace in the game. The two of them team up, and also make a promise: if Llenn ever manages to defeat Pito they will meet each other in real life. The warriorwoman introduces Llenn to the squad jam game type where groups of players will try to defeat each other. But it soon becomes clear that Pitohui might have a completely different agenda….

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Let me teach you to play with the stick…erm…wait that just sounded weird….

Well let’s get this out of the way first: This show is not as good as Sword Art Online. There, I have said it. Is that a bad thing though? Nope, not in the case of this anime anyway. What we have here is very light show that focusses more on action than on the story itself. Which is not to say that there isn’t a message hidden inside this one if you look hard enough. Karen manages to overcome her complex of being tall by playing the game. And I for one could very much relate to that kind of story. I was never very good at sports, but by playing games such as Unreal Tournament I managed to create a kind of confidence in myself that I was good at other things. We all probably have things in real life that we have a problem with and might even cause us to lose faith in ourselves at times. But sometimes it’s nice to just disappear for a while in a make believe world and in that way discover things inside yourself you might never have thought you possessed.

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If soldiers looked like this in real life I don’t think there would ever be any kind of wars.

As I said, the story does take a backseat in this anime, but the action more than makes up for that. There are some really cool gunfights in this show, and one battle in particual where Pitohui takes on a enormous group of enemies pretty much by herself is truly memorable. As far as the characters go they just aren’t as interesting as the ones in the original series. Llenn is a very cute character, and a good fighter and you do grow to love her over the course of the series. But..she really hasn’t got much depth to her. Then there is M, a sidekick of Pitohui that reminded me of Billy in the movie Predator. He had an interesting kind of background but they could really have done much more with him. It was Pitohui however, that definitely was the driving force of the show. I just loved her (except when she started laughing hysterically, that just grated on my nerves). In a way her character arc was pretty tragic especially when the series progresses and you find out more about her motivations.

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This is an outtake..somehow they forgot to draw her eyes.

All in all this 12 part spinoff series was a pretty pleasant surprise. The animation itself, while not groundbreaking was good enough, and the numerous action sequences offer some truly edge of your seat moments. If you are a fan of Sword Art Online, it’s hard to say if you are going to like this. There are a few very small references made to the second season arc of the show, which are also kind of fun to discover, but otherwise this series stands on it’s own. As I am a fan myself and enjoyed the entire SAO series I would say that if you did not have a problem with it’s second season, you might want to give this one a try. Don’t expect this to be a third season of the main show though but keep your expectations low. And if you are not a fan, it all depends on whether you like action heavy animes. For me this show worked, but I can also understand people that gave this one a pass or stopped wathing it.

I give Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online a 7 out of 10 score.