Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Prestige

If you thought The Illusionist was a bit too simplistic in terms of its plot then luckily for you there is 2006's The Prestige. If The Illusionist has one twist that it tries to sell to the audience then The Prestige has several. Sometimes this works to this film's detriment, but more often than not it feels compelling. This film has a cast that is very impressive. The likes of Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Andy Serkis, David Bowie, and Scarlett Johansson grace the screen. It's a very impressive list. The direction is equally impressive with Christopher Nolan at the helm.

But what exactly is The Prestige?

This movie is about a rivalry between two magicians, but the movie itself is actually designed as a magic trick. What you are being shown is often something else and until the last act it's tough to really know what is and what isn't. Where this works as a detriment is that sometimes the movie just feels like it's fake. By that I mean that it tries real hard to look smart, but at times it reaches a little bit and that unravels some of the mystery and awe a bit prematurely.

The Illusionist had a trick, but it also had substance. Most of the characters that were there weren't there just to be there. Those characters had substance. Rufus Sewell, Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and even Jessica Whatshername... They felt like real people and not caricatures of real people. 

The Prestige, to me, feels like a movie where the push for the complex story line exceeds any connection to the characters. When both main characters are conniving and obsessive to the point of possible murder it's tough to root for them. Michael Caine's character is really the only one in this entire movie that felt like a tried and true human being with a decent amount of screen time. An actual character, in other words. 

Yeah, the female characters in this movie came across as normal and even real, but they weren't exceptional. The female characters as written in this movie were mostly just there to add estrogen to a testosterone-laden cast. Scarlett Johansson added nothing to this movie other than just being arm candy for Jackman and then later Bale. 

Rebecca Hall actually got the better end of the deal and had a character with some substance, but she was the neglected wife the entire time and that sort of thing gets old quick. Personally, I'm surprised she didn't murder Bale's character in his sleep for being such an asshole, but I guess that would have fucked up the movie too much. So she offed herself when things went south instead. Which was stupid. Nothing is worse than an underutilized interesting character.

For a movie that tried real hard to be complicated about the magic it often felt a bit too cliched and simple on the domestic front. No one really cares about the relationships, basically. We're there just for the rivalry.

Bale and Jackman are in top form, but I often felt that they weren't portraying people as much as they were portraying inhuman dicks. There are moments where it feels like we can root for these guys, but they don't last long. I mean, there's nothing wrong with a bunch of unlikable characters filling up a movie. I like that at times. But it's just that it made me not really care who won or lost their stupid magic battle. There's a narrative device involving the two characters reading each other's diaries that describes what I'm talking about. At times they really just felt like the same character. 

But Bale and Jackman are still kickass actors and they make it worth the journey. It was interesting because of the actors. It was interesting to watch because it was a well-made film with a good premise.

But it doesn't to have any real emotional significance until we find out who the real good guy and villain are at the end of the film. Of course, how each trick was done also gets revealed, but that's something I'll get to in a minute. 

I think this is a film that will matter more (or less) after a second viewing. The first part of the film is really just a bunch of stuff happening out of chronological order. It can be tough to follow. 

The film opens up with Hugh Jackman's apparent murder by Bale and then Bale gets a lovely prison cell and a copy of Jackman's diary, too. 

As Bale reads the diary the journey into the past begins, but the flashbacks often involve Jackman writing in his diary about reading Bale's diary. Which is... well, it leads to some "huh" moments if you don't really pay attention. 

Again, this film tries really hard to sell its twists and turns, but sometimes it twists too much and the past and present can be difficult to discern. Especially when it breaks away from the diary stuff completely and shows us scenes involving Michael Caine's character that neither of the leads could have been present to witness. 

The ending is what saves the movie from feeling like a waste of time, but I'm not sure it saves the movie by that much. I see a lot of positive ratings for this movie from audiences and I agree with those positive ratings in spirit, but in the analytical part of my brain I should add that if this movie succeeds than it does so despite crippling itself at times.

The ending wasn't that much of a trick as far as the actual reveal of the magic tricks. The Illusionist, although it was a simpler movie, was harder to guess. The Prestige, despite being a twist inside of a twist, was easier to see coming. As far as how each trick was done, at least. I mean, that was basically revealed at the beginning, anyway. A bit of guesswork and the tricks are solved. 

What really saves this movie is the final confrontation between Bale and Jackman. When one of them finally gets the ass-whipping he really deserves, I kind of cheered. And that is the real twist. Knowing who is the lesser of the two evils is. I honestly didn't know until the very end. 

Christopher Nolan is a boss. I just felt like this movie was trying too hard at times. I enjoyed it, but watching it was more like watching the process of filmmaking and acting rather than watching a movie. It's good from many technical aspects like the settings and the colors used in the film. Technically, this movie is not only good but excellent.

But the story and some of the characters are kind of... Well, those just happen to be the weakest part which is a huge killer for any movie no matter how good it looks.

Final verdict? Serviceable, but not up to Nolan's usual standards. I liked it well enough, but I wasn't like, "YEAH, THIS IS THE BEST MOVIE EVER!!!!" 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Trigun Omnibus by Nightow Yasuhiro

Trigun is an anime that many people recognize. It's one of my favorites. It's the epic sci-fi space western that carries just the right amount of silliness and the right amount of seriousness. To date, it's the only time I've ever seriously sat down to write fanfiction about an anime. Not saying it was good fanfiction (most fanfiction isn't good), but it's an attempt I made nonetheless and the last time I looked at it it wasn't terrible. It's on this site if you wish to read it. 

Before I get into specifics, I do want to state just what the Trigun Omnibus is. This isn't the entire manga. Sort of. This manga is the first and only two volumes of the Trigun manga, but the rest of the volumes were published as Trigun Maximum when Nightow changed publishers. So yes, the two volumes and the omnibus which collects them are the only titles you'll find carrying solely the Trigun name. Everything else is either Trigun Maximum or a spinoff of the anime or some sort of tribute. 
I'm going to do this review in two parts since this is really two volumes. 

The start of our story is really episode five of the anime for those that want to keep score. The anime is largely adapted from these two volumes and in order to make two volumes fit into 26 episodes some filler had to be made. Although the first episode of Trigun is adapted from a bonus story at the end of the second volume. 

We are introduced into the world of Gunsmoke where the $$60,000,000,000 man roams around. The man with such a price on his head is Vash the Stampede. He's also known as the Humanoid Typhoon for the destruction he leaves in his wake. He's a nice guy and a pacifist, but we see him sitting in a desolate wasteland at the start of the story. He's sitting in the town that used to be July where all of the inhabitants were wiped off the face of the map and only he remained. Whatever happened to July is how he gained that large price on his head. 

There are other glimpses sprinkled throughout the two volumes that basically tell us that the Vash is over a hundred years old and definitely isn't human. That's where the whole "space" comes from in this "space western."

Flash into the present and we have a group of goons that are after the price on Vash's head. They corner Vash in a bar in the town of Valdour, but Vash is no slouch and manages to defeat them quite easily. However, the entire town realizes that Vash is worth a lot of money and suddenly Vash is being chased by every mother, father, and child in Valdour. 

Then the dreaded father and son from the Nebraska family get drawn into the chaos. The Nebraska family were hired by the chairman of this campaign, but the Nebraska family are criminals and they aren't so fond of all these civilians. This puts Vash in a situation where he not only has to protect himself, but the civilians of Valdour that had been chasing him. 

In this story we also meet the Bernardelli Insurance girls, "Derringer" Meryl Stryfe and "Stungun" Millie Thompson. The girls are after the Human Typhoon so they can keep tabs on his movements. I hope that job has hazard pay. Vash's bounty had, somewhat ironically, been written off and Vash was declared a "localized disaster" by the Bernardelli Insurance Company. Which means that his bounty is zilch and the entire gunfight had been for nothing. Ha ha. 

Our second arc is the Brilliant Dynamites Neon arc. This should also seem familiar to viewers of the anime. Basically, a sandsteamer (a large land-travelling ship, essentially) pulls into Valdour and Vash sees this as his chance to escape the insurance girls. So he does. But he stumbles into a heist masterminded a young troubled kid and Brilliant Dynamites Neon of the Bad Lads Gang. Neon wants to crack open the safe onboard, but it's not the kind that he can get into so easily so he decides he'll just crash the ship off a huge cliff.

Facing impending doom, Vash (and the insurance girls that had stowed away as well) must do whatever it takes to avoid being flattened like a pancake. The ultimately leads to a duel between Vash and Neon. 

Our final arc in this story is the Little Arcadia arc. Fans of the anime will remember this one as the snot-nosed kid that wanted to take his parents' beautiful green land. The land is leftover from the ships that transported earth's population to Gunsmoke. Gunsmoke is a desert world so the greenery is a literal Arcadia in the middle of nowhere. It's rare. So naturally a bunch of greedy bastards want it for themselves. Badwick, the snot-nosed douche in question, works for just one such person. 

But when it seems like Badwick's methods won't work the big boss calls in the mother and daughter of the Nebraska family. 

Outside of a brief scene that features Vash breaking the fourth wall, the heroes of this story are Meryl and Millie. This is their time to shine and it's a nice little story to conclude the volume. 

However, the main story doesn't begin until...


This is where things get really good. Much of this will still be familiar to viewers of the anime, but the differences begin to set in here. This is where we meet Legato and a few members of the Gung-Ho Guns including Monev the Gale, Dominique the Cyclops, and E.G. Mine. At least, those are the ones Vash has direct confrontations with. We also meet Wolfwood the Chapel, Gray the Ninelives, Zazie the Beast, Midvalley the Hornfreak, Rai-Dei the Blade, Hoppered the Gauntlet, and Leonhoff the Puppetmaster. 

And of course we get to meet Knives, the antagonist of this whole thing. 

Knives happens to be Vash's brother and something that happened in past (possibly during the incident that wiped out July) put Knives out of commision for a while. Knives, among his many evil actions, is responsible for the death of Rem Seibrem, Vash's surrogate mother. 

This was back when all of humanity was onboard the SEEDS ship a hundred years or so in the past. So there's a lot of bad blood between them and Knives is the cause of it all. Knives is a psychopath that hates humans, but he loves his brother Vash and he wants the two of them to eradicate humanity together. Ain't that sweet?

Those familiar with the anime will be familiar with many of the Gung-Ho Guns, but obviously Wolfwood will be the most familiar face. Perhaps even more so than Legato. In the anime you never really knew of Wolfwood's affiliation with the Gung-Ho Guns until long after his introduction. But in the manga he is present when Knives gets reborn and he is referred to by Legato as "Chapel." 

He witnesses Knives manipulate Vash's "angel arm" and sees the hole get put in the Fifth Moon while standing by the rest of the Gung-Ho Guns. 

This puts a different spin on things for viewers of the anime. Wolfwood appears to be the same likeable character from the anime, but we discover he is a servant of Knives before he has a single adventure with Vash. 

Legato also meets an apparent early fate. Possibly. When Legato sees Vash at the end he immediately gives the order for the other Gung-Ho Guns to kill him, but this causes Knives to get angry and literally push Legato into the ground so hard his legs appear to snap forward. If he's alive it will interesting to see what role he plays in future installments. 

But after putting a hole in the Fifth Moon, Vash disappears for two years and this volume concludes. 

The story picks up again in Trigun Maximum

I think fans of the anime should pick up this manga if they haven't already. It's what we know and love, but it promises a story that is different than the anime. Trigun Maximum looks like a treat that I have overlooked for far too long. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. 2nd Gig

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is an excellent anime and this statement applies to both seasons, but the second season offers us a different flavor than the first. It's tough to describe at first because all of the same elements are there. We have all of our primary and secondary characters. On paper the only real difference is the villain (or villains). Of course, the character of Prime Minister Kayabuki is a new addition, but not a real pivotal one. Her character is more or less just there to move the story forward. 

So what is different? Well, this season is more about physical terrorism than cyber terrorism. Granted, this is Ghost in the Shell so cyber terrorism is a huge part of it, but there's more emphasis on the people and the weapons they use this time. Ultimately, this season is about the threat of nuclear destruction, but the themes of racism between citizens and refugees is a huge undercurrent. By manipulating this the Individual Eleven create a situation where another war seems inevitable. 

But whose side are the Individual Eleven on?

The Individual Eleven is another stand alone complex, but this story is less about the Individual Eleven and more about one man named Kuze that is caught between the lure of the Individual Eleven and his own ideals about the world. 

Kuze himself is a fascinating character. His character (or more accurately "the Individual Eleven") and the work that inspired him is based off of the real life author, playwright, and director Mishima Yukio. Mishima actually tried to pull of a coup d'etat in 1970, but that failed miserably and he performed seppuku. But his attempt at changing the world was more or less a planned suicide and nothing much more. His animated fictional counterparts seem to have loftier goals in mind. 

Kuze, given much more background than the Laughing Man ever received, becomes the best thing about 2nd Gig. However, the first season had a better storyline overall. 

The dialogue is still incredibly heavy and watching the subtitled version is a bit of struggle. Personally, I think it's worth it. It's been awhile since I've seen the dubbed version so I might need to do that sometime soon. 

Patience is key with this series. Watching it once was enough to get the gist of this story, but it takes multiple views to really digest everything. This can be good or bad depending on perspective, but I love stories that don't just give everything away on first viewing. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex makes you earn everything from it and this can be incredibly frustrating at times, but excellent at others. 

I find it excellent more often than not. 

The music in 2nd Gig is definitely a triumph. Kanno Yoko is a genius. She improves on her contributions to the first season. Just fantastic stuff. 

My final note on this season is how it pays a bit of an homage to movies like Taxi Driver, The Matrix (which the original movie helped inspire), and even the original Ghost in the Shell movie. There are some subtle moments and some not so subtle moments, but watch out for them.  

This anime is over ten years old, but you damn sure wouldn't know it. It's still cutting edge even for today. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dragon Ball Vol. 8: Taopaipai & Master Karin by Toriyama Akira

Yes, the Red Ribbon Army arc is finally over!!! Man, I just couldn't stand this arc. I mean, it was enjoyable because it's Toriyama and they are characters I love and all, but the Red Ribbon Army just weren't a threat to Son Goku. Taopaipai came close to being a threat, but not even he became a memorable villain. Not yet, anyway. I'm not 100% certain, but he might turn up later despite his apparent defeat. 

Taopaipai, making his first Dragon Ball appearance in this volume, was given a rather quick build-up as the classic menacing bad guy. He knocked off General Blue with ease. A tongue to the temple, actually. I'll admit that Blue was the only one of the Red Ribbon bad guys that seemed genuinely formidable and intelligent (at least for a Toriyama character). I knew General Blue would get tossed aside from the story sooner or later, but I kind of felt his execution was a bit too quick. Not that Blue was a great character anyway, but after a whole volume we at least learned he was a bit of a survivor. Then he gets offed in favor of the next baddie. Go figure. I saw it coming, but still. 

But this would turn out to be a classic Toriyama trope with villain after villain being churned out. Each one being bigger and stronger than before. Each one requiring Son Goku to go through to sort of quick training in order to combat them. In the case of Taopaipai, Son Goku had to climb Karin Tower and drink the holy water after training with Karin the 800 year old feline. The water, of course, doesn't do jack. The real gift was the training Son Goku received while trying to chase after Karin in order to get the water. 

With Karin Tower conquered, Son Goku gets to business with Taopaipai. Son Goku, now suped up after three days of intense training, goes toe to toe with Taopaipai and makes quick work of him. Then Son Goku goes after Red Ribbon Army HQ and the whole Army gets taken down by the final chapter of this volume. 

If only the anime moved this quick.

Now I'm not saying I disliked this arc. It was serviceable. If I wasn't such a huge fan of some of the things that come later it might be a little tough to call this "mandatory reading." The story just wasn't riveting. And yet... there are two moments in this volume that make it super important for everything that does follow. 

The first is that Son Goku gets the idea to resurrect one of Taopaipai's victims using the dragon balls. The second is the introduction of the Senzu beans that can make a person good as new after being hurt or on the brink of starvation.

The implications of these two concepts will be huge later on. Especially the thing about the dragon balls.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 2 by Ishida Sui

"We can't crush evil with morals. We are justice. We are morality." 

These are the words of Amon Kotaro, ghoul investigator. The words appears about a third or so into the book. Maybe closer to halfway. The statement is told to another investigator that refused to dig up what could have been a grave on the basis that doing so would have been immoral. Digging up this grave could have provided concrete proof that a certain character was indeed a ghoul. Not doing so, in the eyes of Mr. Amon, was an unforgivable dereliction of duty since the idea is to eradicate the ghouls. 

Elsewhere, Kaneki Ken is getting more of a schooling in the ways of being a ghoul. He has to learn how to give the appearance of eating human food while in the presence of other humans. After taking a quick swallow of a sandwich, the idea is to pretend to chew about ten times while keeping a pleasant look on one's face. Then go to the restroom shortly after and regurgitate the food before it gets into their system. This is something that gives Ken fits. Appearing to enjoy food humans eat seems impossible to him and he admires the lengths that Touka and others go to do this. 

With the investigators sniffing around it's advised that Ken gets fitted with a mask so that he can hide his identity if he comes face to face with an investigator in combat. Right now Ken can't even pass for a fighter. Outside of the incident in which Hide was attacked and Ken went crazy with rage, it doesn't seem possible for Ken to use his abilities with a clearhead. The idea of him being involved in combat still seems strange. 
He's more or less the straight man spectator through which we see this story. The ghouls, despite being creatures that eat humans, are cast in a fairly favorable light. There are a few exceptions, but most of them are not "evil." Certainly, the mother and daughter pair that visit Anteiku don't seem evil. They aren't killers to Ken. But they eat humans because they are ghouls. So... how do they find the humans to eat?

Well, that's something Ken discovers while on a mission with Yomo. The mission is to do a "food run." Basically, these food runs allow Anteiku to feed ghouls who can't or won't go out and get their own food. That means Anteiku is the kind of organization right-leaning people-eating republicans would hate since they can't profit from it. Huzzah.

The mother and daughter ghouls in this volume lead to the biggest moment so far when the mother gets killed by the rather mad (and mad-looking) Ghoul Investigator Mado. Ken, helpless to do anything else, covers the eyes of the daughter while keeping both of them hidden.

After the encounter Touka, who hadn't been there to witness the event, goes off in a fit of rage and kills a ghoul investigator. Which isn't a good idea since this kind of thing could trigger an invasion of investigators into the 20th Ward.

But not even Touka can defeat Mado and his "quinque."

At this point, more or less, Ken decides he is tired of being weak and not knowing what to do. While some ghouls are not good, he doesn't believe that certain ghouls have to die just because humans don't like ghouls. He wants to fight back and learn how to use his kagune so he can protect the more innocent ghouls from getting killed.

And on this note his new mask gets delivered to him. Eye-patch, included.

Now for comparison to the anime: Of course, there's been no Jason ghoul. Not even a mention of him. The Gourmet ghoul has yet to make an appearance, but he has been mentioned once. Essentially, the anime is like scrambled eggs. There's parts of the first two volumes scattered throughout the first seven episodes. Which makes no sense. The anime introduces other stuff way too early just to meet the episode count. The way the story was changed for the anime certainly didn't make things any better.

So for those keeping score: Manga 2 - Anime 0

The Illusionist

I've been watching a lot of magic tricks on YouTube lately. David Blaine, Criss Angel, and all that. I've also been watching videos about how such tricks are done. Anyone remember Breaking the Magician's Code? I loved that show. Of course, magicians and movies about them are two different things. The Illusionist is a 2006 movie that starred Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell, and Jessica Biel. It's also directed by some guy named Neil Burger, who I'm guessing isn't related to a guy named Ham.

Never seen it before last night and didn't know jack about it. I figured since Edward Norton was in it then the movie might be good. What I didn't expect was for the true star of this movie to be Paul Giamatti.

The Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) develops a bit of an obsession with Illusionist Eisenheim (Edward Norton) after watching the Illusionist perform a trick involving the Duchess Sophie (Jessica Biel). The movie starts in medias res as we see Eisenheim summoning what is claimed to be the soul of a woman. The audience is in an intense fervor and police move in to arrest Eisenheim.

Then we get to see Eisenheim's childhood as he falls in love with a girl. Obviously, this will all come back into play when Eisenheim meets up with the Duchess Sophie and the Crown Prince.

However, the real plot of this movie doesn't begin until the movie is halfway finished. That's the true trick. The movie started out pretty slow and a bit predictable. Like most magic tricks start out, basically. The Duchess and the Illusionist are childhood friends and secret lovers. They want to escape from the grip of Leopold and so they make a plan.

But out of a fit of rage Leopold murders the Duchess and the complexion of this movie changes.

Eisenheim, desperate for justice, creates the ultimate trick that will bring Leopold's crime to the light.

Stuck in the middle of all this is Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) as he tries to sort out the truth.

I'm not sure if I'd call this movie an all-time classic or not. I'd have to watch it again to see if the twists hold up under scrutiny. It is a little too slow to set up the trick and the ultimate reveal is a bit too convenient. However, there's no guarantee that the reveal is all that accurate since all we see at that point is how Inspector Uhl thinks the trick happened. That's important to remember. Also, the idea that Eisenheim can actually summon souls is a bit difficult to explain away. That's the one thing in this movie that isn't given some sort of explanation. So the ambiguity allows the audience the more or less choose the truth of this movie.

This ambiguity is what really holds the movie, I think. That and Paul Giamatti. The cast is exceptional for the most part. Rufus Sewell gives a performance that's worthy of recognition and Norton is good as always. Biel, an actress I've never cared for, is not in this movie a lot so she doesn't ruin it too much. She's serviceable in her scenes and not given much screen time so I could not have asked for more.

All in all, this is a pretty good movie with some twists. Maybe not as good as The Usual Suspects, but it's not too far down the list, either.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (Kōkaku Kidōtai Stand Alone Complex)

Let's say that you just watched the original theatrical film (reviewed here) for the first time. You undoubtedly are intrigued by the Ghost in the Shell universe and want to experience more. So what do you do? Well, there's always the manga... if you can find it at a reasonable price and in the unedited version. But, more often than not, you'll probably go the anime route. If that's so then you'll be in luck. Again, this is assuming you can find an edition at a reasonable price that isn't bootlegged.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex is the animated series that debuted in Japan in 2002. However, it'd be a bit of a misnomer to say this series either expands on the original movie or acts as a sequel to it. This series is a separate entity compared to the movie. If you want a sequel to the movie then you'll need to look for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (not to be confused with the re-released version of the original motion picture known as Ghost in the Shell 2.0).

This series introduces us to the characters we know from the film, but this time the world is slightly different. There's no sign of the Puppet Master and the conclusion of the film has no impact on this series. Again, treat them as different creatures.

The Major is more or less our main character of this series, but she's not quite the same character she was in the movie. In this series she's still a kickass cyborg with a female body, but she's not as morose. And there's also nary a shot of boobies. Unfortunately, the television treatment means that she doesn't have to take her clothes off in order to do her cool stealth invisibility thing. But this also means that Batou and a few others can turn invisible without needing to be naked, too. Female viewers might be disappointed by that, but I am grateful. I'll take no boobies if it means not having to see some guy's schlong in the process.

Jokes aside, this incarnation of the story does have some more overt sexual ideals. The genetically enhanced humans and cyborgs behave more sexually. It's subtle in most ways, but it's there. There's a scene in particular where the Major has two women in her room. These women are clearly more than just servants, if you catch my meaning. Apparently, the Major does have a night life. 

The Major also gets along better with her teammates, it seems. She even socializes somewhat. 

As a cyborg it seems bizarre to indulge in human behavior and on some level even the Major knows that. That's why the Major is willing to change her body or her memories if her duties force her to do so. However, something human does seem to remain inside of the Major, or her "ghost," if you will. The same goes for all of the characters. 

When not dealing with the Laughing Man or other terrorists, the main members of Public Security Section 9 get some much needed characterization. This includes Batou, Togusa, the Major, Aramaki, and even the Tachikomas (also known as "think-tanks.") In fact, I'd argue that the Tachikomas get the most characterization out of anybody and they aren't even human or of human origin. 

Of course, this series is really all about the search for the Laughing Man and the "Stand Alone Complex." With everything going on, it can be tough to forget this show actually has a cool plot. 

Despite all of the cyberpunk tech stuff, this series is a mystery at heart. Who is the Laughing Man? What did he do? Why did he do it? The members of Public Security Section 9 are supposed to solve these mysteries, but things get more complicated as the Laughing Man gains more acceptance among the public and a "stand alone complex" is created. 

The series is divided into two types of episodes. One is called the "stand alone" episodes and the other is called the "complex" episodes. The "complex" episodes generally deal directly with the Laughing Man mystery while the other "stand alone" episodes are essentially side missions or character episodes. 

The "complex" episodes were later edited into an OVA called The Laughing Man, but that doesn't mean the "stand alone" episodes aren't important or really good. This entire series is excellent. The OVA was just more of a marketing thing, I imagine. Especially since it featured some original footage, too. 

The series contains a great soundtrack written by the very talented Kanno Yoko and a fantastic opening song sung by the late Origa. 

Of course, the series has some fantastic dialog. This series had to have really good dialog, too. The entire story is the dialog. When watching this anime you'll realize just how incredible it is. The guys that wrote this stuff must have spent so much time writing in order to convey the information properly and concisely. So many of the phrases are complicated, too. The voice actors did one helluva job saying these things while also making their characters more than just drawings on a page. And what beautiful drawings there are, too. 

Speaking of writing, this series is bound to get someone interested in the works of J.D. Salinger and The Catcher in the Rye. There are plenty of references to Salinger, but the most famous is probably the "Laughing Man" name and the quote on the Laughing Man's logo. 

Certainly, this wouldn't be the first time that anime has gotten me interested in literature so I imagine that I'll spend some time with Salinger's works in due time. 

There's a reason this is one of the classics. It makes me want to read literature, by God. 

Obviously, a review for Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig will be coming up shortly. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Slayer - Repentless (2015)

This is the third album from 2015 I actually bought in 2015. So I can't throw around superlatives like "this is the year's best album" since I can't really tell you if it is or not. I've heard tell that Symphony X's Underworld album was pretty good, but I haven't heard it. The same with Disturbed's newest one. I know, I'm horrible with keeping up with the music world. 

But I made a rather important promise to myself to pick up Slayer's newest album no matter what. After the passing of Jeff Hanneman, the departure of Dave Lombardo, and the switch to the label Nuclear Blast, I admit I was curious as to just what Slayer could bring around this time. Would Slayer still be Slayer? 

Hindsight being what it is, I realize how stupid the question was to even ask. The choice to soldier on after Hanneman's passing was Slayer enough. Their choice frustrated me somewhat, but I suppose that is a typical fan's passion more so than a logical analyzes. Like AC/DC, Slayer have a formula for success that reminds me of Tom Landry's approach to coaching. The system of Slayer is perhaps bigger than the individuals involved in Slayer so Slayer, like AC/DC, will survive in some form. But will they thrive? AC/DC released an amazing comeback album, but could Slayer release a similarly great album in the midst of their chaos?

It's a miracle they put out an album at all considering the circumstances. And no, this isn't the next Reign in Blood or anything like that, but this album is a tremendous success. It's their best album since 1990's Seasons in the Abyss. Considering that I really enjoyed World Painted Blood (2009), have a newfound respect for Divine Intervention (1994), and enjoyed God Hates Us All (2001) to some extent I can't think of praise that could be more fitting for this album.

Repentless is modern Slayer, but it's modern Slayer with a classic thrash edge. Gary Holt brings something to this band. He didn't write any of the songs as far as I can tell, but there's some serious riffage here and Holt's solos are a breath of fresh air when paired with them. This album is fast, but the riffs have time to breathe. Only one of these songs were taken from Hanneman's vault (writing only, not playing) so it's obvious that Kerry King wrote all of the other songs. Normally, King's songs are hit or miss with me. King has certainly written some kickass recent songs like Cult and Hate Worldwide, but the best songs on the last two albums were undoubtedly penned by Hanneman and Araya. Certainly on Christ Illusion (2006) where he wrote all but three of the songs, King's writing was subpar. World Painted Blood had a few more Hanneman tunes so it's no surprised I enjoyed that one more.

But with Hanneman being gone that means Araya isn't in the songwriting circuit anymore and that Repentless rested solely on King's shoulders.

I think King did quite admirably, too. Some songs I could have sworn to have been penned by Hanneman, but not so. Tom Araya is also in top form. He can't wail like he used to, but his vocal delivery is the strongest it has been in a long time.

This album easily could have been a forgotten or even a maligned release. Slayer fans can be a cruel bunch sometimes. Downright dicks, even. Like a drunk Satanic frat house, they're the kind of fans you just don't want to piss off. But Repentless is a resounding success, silly title and all. It's not without some annoyances held over from other recent Slayer releases, but it's still insanely good.

I've listened to this album at least five or six times since it I bought it on its release date, September 11, 2015. It was released fourteen years to the day after God Hates Us All. That's also the same span between releases that featured Paul Bostaph on the kit. Fourteen years away, but Bostaph hasn't missed a beat in the studio with this band.

Atrocity Vendor, although it is a holdover from the last album's sessions, is a great addition to this album. It sounds so much better despite the lyrics being tamed somewhat. Repentless is a surging title cut about Hanneman himself. It's an angry tune with a fittingly disturbing music video to match. When the Stillness Comes provides a slow dark atmosphere that builds and builds, but it feels like a good song that was cut in half. Whatever the finale was building to isn't there. So, if there is a point off this album, it's because of that song. Piano Wire, the song written by Hanneman, is a solid song. Not great, but it fits the vibe of this album and I really wouldn't have known that was his song if I hadn't Googled.

This album is incredibly even in terms of how good the songs are. There aren't any all-time greats, but there's nothing average, either. Except for When the Stillness Comes which is average.

If I had to choose a favorite from this one it would be either Chasing Death or You Against You, both from the latter half of the album. Unlike Christ Illusion where I had to skip a few songs to make it to the penultimate song Cult (my favorite from that album), I didn't really consider any song on Repentless an obstacle that I had to endure just to get to my favorite tunes. Everything flowed pretty well.

I won't say this is good just because "It's fuckin' SLAYYYEEEERRRR!!!!!" like a lot of people say on the internet, but it is good because a group of people got together and worked on something under intense pressure and came out with an album that stayed true to everything that most fans consider to be "SLAYYYEEERRRR!!!"

Granted, if you choose not to listen to anything Slayer beyond 1990, I guess you won't be missing out on a ton. Those early albums are tough to top. Going back to AC/DC... In a certain mindset it might seem silly to listen to anything after Highway to Hell and Back in Black knowing nothing could ever top them. But I don't think that's the right mindset to have with either AC/DC or Slayer.

I don't think Slayer deserves to be shoved in a vault as something that might as well have quit after 1990. Anyone that says so is sorely missing out. Repentless isn't perfect, but it's a great representation of the human condition. Repentless is, cheesy as it may sound, a repentless release and it's tough to listen to this with anything else other than a sense of respect for those involved.

Slayer is back and all is right with the world. I don't know how much longer they can keep it up, but for now they are back and that is a good thing.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: First Impressions

Does anyone really know what this book is about? I mean, we hear the name all of the time as the punchline of a joke. "Man, I could have read War and Peace in the time it took to finally see the doctor." But does anyone know what the hell the book is about other than "Something to do with war and peace in Russia during the 1800's."

This is one of four pages for the names.
Honestly, I knew nothing about this book before I picked it up. Nothing. Not the characters or the plot or any damn thing. I'm only 63 pages into my edition so I still don't know anything about this book. Napoleon is a pivotal plot point so far. He's all the characters talk about. Reading The Count of Monte Cristo prepared me somewhat for this approach. Without that book I really wouldn't have any interest in Napoleon or that time period. It does help to understand just what type of threat Napoleon was to people at that time to really "get this."

For the most part, all of the characters are just eating and talking and meeting. That's the story so far. Some of the characters speak French and the version I have (translation by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky) shows the French lines of dialog with the translations at the bottom of the page. Plus there are the additional notes found at the back of the book. There's a lot of page flipping involved, but it's really heavy during the first five chapters. The first page alone involves three translation notes and one trip to the back of the book. 

The names of the characters are also a point of trepidation. The characters have names written in French and the transliterated Russian. Each characters also have titles and diminutives (or nicknames... and sometimes multiple ones) and things can get confusing quickly with so many counts and countesses and princes and princesses that are frequently called by different names.  

But don't be intimidated. I mean, if I can start this trek then anybody can. Approach this one word at a time. The first five chapters are a tough slog of page flipping, but taking notes and having a printed character sheet with the names and titles helps. I also find this translation easy to read even with the page flipping. 

I'm looking forward to reading more of this book. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


It's tough to say whether I am a jaded movie-watcher or not. I like to think I am fairly energetic on my favorite topics. I certainly don't ever want my blog to look like a bored jumble of words. If that ever happened then there wouldn't be a point of keeping a blog in the first place. But sometimes life jumps in a and throws a million things at you. Or at other times you decide to get serious about reading a certain epic tome entitled War and Peace and everything else seems to be in a state of nonexistence. Right now I am in the company of Prince Vassily and Prince Andrei and Pierre and I just find it tough to concentrate on anything else because this book requires much concentration. After being defeated by the first five chapters when I first picked it up months ago I decided to plow through the other day and I made it a whopping 35 pages into the book. I have my character guide printed out and even a large paperback I can read since I find this more convenient than the ebook version. I already am using two bookmarks, one for my current place while the other is for the notes at the back, but I'm toying with the idea of using sticky notes if that's what it takes. 

It's in this rather consumed state of mind I must review a rather fantastic film by Kurosawa Akira. I hope this review doesn't feel rushed. Apologies to all if it does. 

Kagemusha is a film from 1980 about a warlord and his double in 1570's Japan. While the idea itself about a man in power using a double wasn't original for this movie, I suppose it wouldn't be going so far to say that this is one of the films that define the genre. This and the Korean film Masquerade are easily the best films I've seen involving the idea. Although the edge would have to go to Kagemusha

To date, this is the oldest foreign language film I've ever seen. Obviously I have so much more homework to do, but it was a welcome challenge. And, since I am perfectly adjusted to reading subtitled works at this point, I found myself enjoying the scenery without worrying about missing a key phrase here or there. 

I can't really name an actor without Googling. I was unfamiliar with all of them by name. I only knew of Kurosawa from his reputation and influence and this film was enough to prove his worth for me. Not that his worth needed to be proved to the lowly likes of me anyway. Still, it's good to see that he was everything I heard and more. And this isn't even supposed to be his best movie. So I'm looking forward to his others. 

However, the lead actor did voice work for The Tale of Princess Kaguya and the actor that portrayed the brother of the main character was also in the movie Departures. So, in hindsight, I suppose I didn't go into this movie completely without a few familiar faces. I just didn't know they were familiar to me while I was watching this movie. 

Nakadai Tatsuya plays our dying warlord Shingen and our double Kagemusha and does both admirably. Yamazaki Tsutomu played Shingen's brother Nobukado, but he also bore such a resemblance to the lead character that sometimes he would be a double for Shingen as well. 

While watching this I sometimes felt I was watching one actor in three roles rather than just two and that caused me some confusion, but it got easier to identify who was who once the warlord Shingen actually died. 

Of course, Shingen's death threatened to collapse his clan while they were at war with two other clans so he made everyone vow to keep his death a secret for three years. Hence the need for a double to step in since Shingen's brother couldn't be a double all the time. 

Shingen's enemies, Nobunaga and Ieyasu, are perplexed as to the behavior of Shingen's clan and suspect that something is amiss. But no matter how much they pry into the true condition of Shingen and no matter how much they suspect a double it seems that each time the double manages to channel the spirit of Shingen and prolong their search for the truth.

For a guy that was a criminal waiting to be crucified before he was tapped to be a double, his job is pretty amazing for what was asked of him. Or rather Nakadai Tatsuya's job at portraying both characters was so good that it was easy to believe in the double being able to channel the spirit of the warlord Shingen when it mattered most. It was also easy to believe in the double being a criminal that knew nothing of high society at first. The transformation of the double from low class to commanding respect like a warlord is probably best thing in this movie. 

The guy that played Nobunaga was pretty good, too. But that weird scene where he sang could have been avoided. 

Visually, the movie looked good. Maybe not quite on a Kubrick level, but I was a bit in awe by how everything felt like 1570's Japan. It was close to Kubrick greatness. The costumes were fantastic and the settings were well used. Everything was planned out minutely for this movie and it shows. Unlike modern Michael Bay films where it's all, "Let's just throw a bunch of random CGI shit on screen and see what sticks," Kagemusha succeeds in creating a spectacle because the guy in charge knows what he is doing and uses the most of what he has available. Kurosawa was like Francis Ford Coppola was back in the day before Coppola started sucking ass. 

Anyway, that concludes my review. I had planned on saying some more, but I've got a big ass novel to read, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex to finish, and a ton of manga to start on. Toodles. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Prison School, Vol. 1 by Hiramoto Akira

"You went as far as to ruin your three years in high school to record those poop sounds... and I won't let that go to waste!"

Never has a statement of such pure brotherhood resounded throughout the pages of a manga. It's a statement that sounds completely ludicrous. And it is completely ludicrous both in and out of context. Ludicrous, but genius.

This is only the first volume, but it's a rather large volume. It's twice as long as a normal manga volume, but the pages fly by despite the length. It seems shorter than so many manga volumes that are half the length. 

Somehow, and I don't really know how, Prison School has a story that is pure adrenaline despite having a theme that is still somewhat obscure and with a mega dose of ecchi to boot. It seems like it would be a hentai, but it's not. The story seems like something could almost be akin to many of the coming of age tales novels that I'm a sucker for. Granted, it's more fucked up then that. 

The idea that five school kids at that precarious age get caught doing something naughty at a strict co-ed school and then get punished in ways that gradually get crueler and crueler may not seem like Robert R. McCammon's Boy's Life or Stephen King's Stand By Me, but there is something deeper underneath all of the oversexualized torment. 

In some ways this seems like a story of horror, but the way the story is told is too loose. It's too funny of a scenario to be too traumatizing. But it's too traumatizing to be a straight comedy. It's one of those brilliantly crafted tales that one can only laugh at while cringing and wincing. It's a really uncomfortable story and the people that will really enjoy this story won't have a real clue why. 

There is a lot of nudity (mostly in the form of boobies but there's a bit of camel toe and booties, too), but this isn't a very sexy story. At least, not completely. The characters that bring the sex appeal are often diabolical or coldly distant. They are the punishers. Some people might be into finding that sexy, but I draw the line at getting hit in the face repeatedly with a riding crop and then getting kicked in the gut.

If it's sexy it's an uncomfortable sexiness, but that isn't the main draw, either. Anyone looking for a cheap thrill of boobies will be disappointed. There's too much story here for that. The shots of naked girls, while always a plus, are often counterbalanced by scenes of torture at the hands of the sexy Shadow Student Council Vice-President with the rather large oppai

Thematically, I don't know what's going on. Obviously, this manga is a take on the war between sexes. I suppose the big question is "When is what is normally sexy not sexy?" In a repressed society where being curious is punishable by offenses that are just insane, what exactly is the "line" that a young man must walk in the company of women? When pushed too far by the strict rules and atmosphere these five kids take to "peeping" in the girls' locker room and the results are disastrous. The five kids are caught and the Shadow School Council decides to punish them by throwing them in "Prison School." The Shadow School Council is a take on hard-edged feminists of today and the five main characters are just your average joes that aren't too aware what the "standards" of the new world is. They don't fit in and they are hated or ignored just for being men even though, prior to peeping, they didn't do anything wrong other than just show up to school and be young men. 

It seems that sexuality and the awareness of it is the biggest obstacle in this story. The fact that so many of the pages are drenched in sexy sweaty body parts serve as a bit of irony. What we should find enticing is simultaneously off-putting when we see how brutal the owners of those sexy sweaty body parts can be. 

Everything starts off easy enough, though. 

Kiyoshi is just an average guy in a school that had previously been an exclusively girl school. But the integration starts off slow and he and four of his friends are the only male students there. 

Being typical teenagers the five of them believe they've hit the jackpot. They'll get girlfriends for sure!

However, there is a dark side to this school. A presence known as the Shadow Student Council refuses to have males in the school. Anyone that associates with the male students will get punished, a sign promises. Some students even swear that they're always being watched. 

But Kiyoshi manages to hit it off with a girl named Chiyo. They even make a date to watch a Sumo match.

Kiyoshi's friends aren't so lucky. None of them hit it off with anyone. So, out of a need to prove their manliness, they vow to peep. Kiyoshi, compelled by various reasons, joins in unwillingly. He knows it means he'll get to see Chiyo naked if the mission is successful, but he doesn't want the others to see her naked. So he seems to want to sabotage the mission despite the joy he would get from seeing her naked. 

The eyes of the Shadow Student Council are farseeing, though. It seems they can even manipulate crows although this ability is somewhat forgotten later on. There's a scene in particular involving Secretary Hana later on in the volume where the presence of crows suggest that maybe the Shadow Student Council aren't even aware of the crows themselves. The crows only seem to get the five boys in trouble, though. So maybe this is more symbolism or just plain deus ex machina than anything else. 

After being caught, the five boys are in the School Prison. Kiyoshi's Sumo date with Chiyo seems to be a thing of the past. He has to serve a month of hard labor after classes each day. He has to sleep in a cell and wake up for roll call at seven each day. His days of getting a girlfriend in high school are but a dream.

Unless... he can escape the prison and make his date with Chiyo! But after being branded a pervert by the school, will Chiyo even like him anymore? 

This incredibly silly scenario is played with a straight face and I could swear it's as suspenseful as Attack on Titan, but with a lot more humor. Everything is just so serious that it's tough to not laugh. The scene where Kiyoshi and Gackt appear too close in the shower to one of their friends is so far beyond hilarious. The chapter is aptly titled "Brokeback Prison." It's just not comfortable humor, remember that. 

The "golden shower" scene is where my mind can't even grasp what I read. It's one of those moments where this over-the-top story goes even further over-the-top. It makes it tough to question the merit of this work, but it also makes the story even more unputdownable. It makes us ask the question, "What weird ass shit will happen next?"

...then Kiyoshi takes a stiletto in his asshole and starts bleeding profusely... 

I'm eagerly awaiting volume two for reasons I can't quite understand. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Voice Actor Scott Freeman Convicted of Possession of Child Pornography

Well, this is incredibly unfortunate. I wasn't the biggest fan of his, but it's still one of those things that hit close to home. Just one of those things a person can't quite understand but has to accept. First Jared from Subway and now this. There's a lesson here: Keep your weird fantasies 2D, folks. 3D will get you arrested and someone else scarred for life.

Voice Actor Scott Freeman Convicted of Possession of Child Pornography

Saturday, September 5, 2015

September in the Otaku House

Well, college football has finally arrived and I have no idea what to expect from my favorite football teams. Although I'm hoping I won't have to amend my "loss lists" anytime soon. If the Tide and the Brothers Manning are successful this year I'll be happy. All in all, I just hope for a good football season. 

Lately, I've been getting more into buying physical manga editions and I'm finding the pursuit much more rewarding than digital editions. Novels I can take or leave in physical format, but manga is so much better in paper form. Which means I'm going to need a few more bookcases before too long. 

I've only just started and I've already built up a tidy little book shelf's worth. As you can see, some titles I have double dipped on with the digital editions: Attack on Titan, Dragonball, One Piece, and Naruto. With 42 volumes for DB, 72 for Naruto, 75+ for One Piece, and AOT still going, it's really going to be something when this collection really gets going. 

On another note, I'll finally be taking a vacation from my "real job" this month. I'm really excited about that. I don't really plan on doing much of anything special, but it'll be my birthday so I'm sure I will do stuff.

Hard to believe I'll be 25 in less than a month. It's also hard to believe I'm an assistant manager at my job. How the hell did I get in management? It's even harder to think I'm still at the same place I've been for over three years. It's hard to believe that I am where I am today.

Back to the books, I'm really enjoying the first volume of Prison School right now and I look forward to pursuing that series further. The anime should be good, too. I can't wait. Still glad I keep that Funimation subscription handy. Although I'm slightly worried about how much I'm enjoying this rather masochistic sexual-themed story.

I'm also revisiting the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series on DVD. Accel World, Psycho Pass II, and Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid are next on my anime queue.

I love Fall and Winter. It's as close to a break from the intense Mobile heat. I'm a guy that would rather deal with cold than heat. If it's cold I can put on a kickass Attack on Titan jacket, some gloves, and an AC/DC beanie. But if it's hot then it's just hot and humid and miserable and I can only sit in my room in my jammies with a fan on and feel like I'm going to melt.

Anyway, I just wanted to check in. I'll try to keep more posts coming. I had been slacking off here lately because of work-related issues, but I'll have some much-needed time off coming up. I feel like pinching myself.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Inou Battle Within Everyday Life: When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (Inō-Batoru wa Nichijō-kei no Naka de)

Everyone has a favorite band or a favorite director or what have you. If you like a subject then you probably have a favorite creator of said subject. If you follow my blog then you probably know the actors and directors I swear by. Al Pacino can keep dropping dog turds for the next twenty years, but he'll always be The Man to me. Kubrick and Nolan are my go-to directors. In fact, I made a list of my favorite directors here. And of course my favorite horror actors list is here. None of that has anything much to do with this post aside from providing a neat segue, but I like making lists, okay? Don't hate. 

I mention all of this because (told ya it was a segue), despite this being an "anime blog," I haven't made a single list devoted to things like "favorite anime voice actors" or "favorite anime studios" or anything like that. As far as actors go, it's tough for me to name Japanese voice actors and actresses. Yes, there are voices I recognize, but I honestly couldn't name ten of them off the top of my head. It wouldn't be much of a list. Anime studios would be an interesting one, though. That might be a list one day.

At the very least I pride myself on knowing more about the anime industry than Donald Trump knows about the Middle East. Ba-dum-tss. 

I've got a lot of respect for TRIGGER. They are still incredibly new, but they are a descendant of GAINAX, though. And GAINAX was responsible for some really great classics. Not everything was great, but those few key anime are what I judge most other anime by. So, rightly or wrongly, I tend to hold the work of TRIGGER under the same microscope as GAINAX and Kill La Kill proved that TRIGGER can stand in the footsteps of GAINAX. 

Maybe that's why I find TRIGGER's involvement in When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace somewhat mystifying. This anime isn't all that special. It isn't bad or anything either, but it isn't the mind-blowing spectacle that I expected from those responsible for Kill La Kill, Gurren Lagann, and FLCL. This anime is just so... commonplace.

It's like discovering a deleted scene from The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly where everyone  in the movie discovers that Clint Eastwood's character is really named Pete. It's weird. A universe where that happens shouldn't exist.

But it just so happens that what we have here is an anime that is really just like most other high school harem anime these days. This is FAIRLY. AVERAGE. ANIME territory. Then again, average anime isn't bad and I really can't hold an anime that isn't bad against anyone. That'd be silly. I still enjoyed it. But is it what I expected from TRIGGER? Not even close.

So what is this anime about, exactly? Well, we have your group of five characters from the school Literature Club. The male of the bunch is a nerdy chuunibyou (basically someone that pretends he has super powers) and the rest are girls that more or less have a crush on him. Essentially, the setup is exactly the same as Student Council's Discretion. Only this time our five characters actually get super powers bestowed upon them for reasons we don't know until the inevitable info dump in episode eight.

The super powers are not the plot for most of the show. They are merely a point of humor. Although things do get somewhat serious toward the end there's never any intense feeling of suspense. The cliffhangers from the episodes that actually have cliffhangers are treated matter of factly. Sometimes the cliffhangers aren't even resolved until halfway through the next episode and we are only shown how they are resolved in a flashback. Each episode just begins in a business-as-usual way. The whole idea seems to be "Let's just make an anime that's fun and cutesy rather than too serious."

And that's what this is.

There is one incredibly dramatic moment where the character of Hatako goes on an epic rant. Hatako's voice actress should be applauded for that. It was a powerful and uncomfortable moment. Maybe the most memorable moment of the entire anime.

The resolution for the anime was also rather good. Sure, there were plenty of threads left untied for possible sequels, but the big reveal about Andou Jurai's boost in power and how everyone else's power was returned was handled excellently.

Ultimately, my final thoughts on this anime are still in questions. I guess I'll have to watch it again sometime.

I did like it more than the second season of Log Horizon, though. While it felt average compared to other TRIGGER and GAINAX products, this anime certainly wasn't a mess by any means.