Category Archives: Anime

My Hero Academia S3 part 2 (Anime)

Title: My Hero Academia

Episodes: 52-63 (Season 3 part 2)

It’s now time for Class 1-A to begin preparation for the job of becoming a hero. Special moves, a provisional license exam, and a glimpse of the new horizons ahead of them are a heady incentive to improve. But not everything is as it appears . . .

To be honest, the license exam is one of my least favorite arcs in the manga. Add to that this arc manages to put a filler episode in the middle of it, and that’s how I ended up getting distracted away from following it week-to-week and only marathoning it out at the end.

That said, even MHA at its worst is still pretty good. Special moves and a huge exam are both good times to show off some of the rest of the class. Other schools finally get a decent amount of focus. And MHA also uses the natural conflicts to examine some of the bigger implications of All Might’s retirement for both heroes and villains.

Both of my favorite episodes come near the end. Deku vs. Kacchan part 2 is an amazing fight on so many levels. The visuals are stunning. Bakugou’s explosive energy sometimes masks his real genius for fighting, but here his moves are on full display. And because all the best fights also have a lot of emotional depth to them, this is Bakugou’s chance to finally break down over everything that’s happened. (He’s not exactly the kind of guy who can talk things out. At least not without punching them too.) I think this episode does a lot to soften some of Bakugou’s rougher edges, showing that he’s not just some angry bully, but underneath it all he’s a kid who is trying to figure out how to grow into his dream. And he’s clever enough to be a real obstacle to Deku if he wanted.

Then the last episode for this season technically starts the next big arc by introducing three of the upperclassmen who will have a big role in the near future. Mirio’s little demonstration fight is a riot, as he’s just as concerned with staying dressed as he is throwing punches (the problems inherent in a quirk that lets him phase through things). His efforts not to traumatize the girls don’t seem to have been entirely successful . . . but it’s all played for laughs, and he’s just as quick to turn to a more serious and inspirational side.

All in all, this ranges from decent to excellent, and with season 4 confirmed in the credits of the last episode, it’s just a matter of time to see where it goes from here. I rate this show Recommended.

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Overlord III (anime)

Title: Overlord III
Episodes: 1-13

Enri has had a crazy life ever since her village was invaded by soldiers and she was saved by Ainz. Now the goblins who call her master are informing her of problems in the forest. When the forest’s most dangerous denizens begin to move, can Enri and a handful of goblin warriors stand up to them?

Meanwhile, Ainz is still struggling to figure out how to rule Nazarick. From the hired workers who invade his tomb to forming his own nation, he’s got a lot to do to keep up with his subordinates.

This season covers novels 7-9, although it shuffles the order of a lot of the events to happen more in chronological order.

We start with Enri in Carne village, where life has changed a lot and yet not at all. She’s still living a relatively simple country life, but the news of monsters in the forest is worrying. I really like this arc, because Enri has one of the best character arcs in the series, and this season touches on a lot of that. From the banter with the goblins under her command who are trying to get Nphira to buck up and confess to the new goblins she takes in under her wing, there’s plenty of non-humans now looking to her for leadership. (And that comes home to roost at the end of the season in a major way).

After that we get a few episodes following freelance adventurer groups called Workers who get commissioned to investigate this strange new tomb (Nazarick). This was my least favorite book, because it ends about as badly as you’d expect for everyone involved. The one nice thing here for me was that it also introduces more about the Empire, particular Jirciv the Emperor and Flueder the mage.

The final arc involves Ainz finally mobilizing to make Nazarick its own kingdom, and not just a hidden fortress. Since this naturally involves taking land away from other people who already claim it, he’s siding with the Empire to come against the Kingdom. This arc also had a number of interesting moments—unfortunately the anime’s heavy reliance on bad CG brought some of the best scenes down.

Overall this probably won’t be the arc to sell you on Overlord if you don’t already like it. The weaker bits in the middle and towards the end do drag it down, and some of the callous cruelty of Nazarick can be divisive. For myself, though, I liked it (especially all the bits with Enri). I just hope if there is a season 4, it takes more time to bring up the quality. I rate this show Recommended.

Parasyte (Movie)

Title: Parasyte
Format: Live-Action Movie

Shinichi wakes up one night to a bug in his room—one that burrows into his right hand and replaces it with an intelligent parasite. Now Shinichi and Migi must learn to live together, in a world where both humans and parasites pose a threat to their continued existance.

The live-action movie is probably best seen after (or in addition to, at any rate) the anime. Although the story preserves some of the main highlights, cutting down 12 episodes to one movie means a lot of the more extended character development just doesn’t have time.

That said, it was fun. The CG worked out better than I expected, and Migi looks suitably more creepy in a closer-to-life format. The parasite battles also looked more understandable than a lot of the similar fights in the anime.

I think what bothered me the most was taking Shinichi’s dad away. They probably decided to do it to give more pathos between Shinichi and his mom, but one of the more interesting parts of the anime to me was contrasting the way Shinichi and his father both handled the major event. And Shinichi’s concern for his father drove a lot of his later decisions.

Overall, if you liked the anime, or are just curious about the series and don’t feel you have time for the whole anime, this was a decent movie. But it doesn’t offer a whole lot above and beyond what the anime already did, so I would recommend if the movie interested you at all, then check out the anime too. I rate this movie Recommended.

Parasyte – the maxim – (Anime)

Title: Parasyte – the maxim –

Episodes: 1-24 (complete)

Shinichi wakes up one night reflexively slapping at a bug that then proceeds to burrow into his right hand. Only quick thinking saves his life . . . but in the morning, his right hand starts talking to him, and he realizes he’s now unwilling partners with a bizarrely intelligent parasite. But Migi isn’t the only parasite that’s shown up in Japan. And most parasites eat humans.

I liked this a lot more than I expected. Shinichi changes a lot over the course of the series: from a nervous, wimpy guy who freaks out easily to a shell-shocked survivor of extreme situations to someone who takes everything that happened and actually comes out stronger.

I do disagree with Shinichi’s assessment of himself being unable to cry as a sign he’s not human. It’s very clear why he would believe that, but this also strikes me as an extremely normal reaction to the kinds of violence he’s been exposed to and involved in. He comes off to me more as a state of shock or PTSD, where he’s gone numb in self-defense since he doesn’t have the luxury of breaking down if he wants to survive.

The violence is mostly short, sharp, and brutal. A lot of the messier scenes are more implied than shown, and Shinichi and the others exposed to it are dealing with the consequences long after the actual events are over. I really liked the drawn and haunted look Shinichi has after a certain major event—he’s physically, mentally, and emotionally at the end of his rope, and you can tell just from looking at him.

And Migi is great. I loved how his viewpoint differs so drastically from Shinichi. They may share the same body, but they’re complete opposites. Migi is powerful, coldly logical, and only interested in his own survival. Migi sees nothing wrong with killing anything that gets in his way. Shinichi keeps flailing around with what the definition of being human actually is, and trying to prove he’s different from Migi’s criticisms. But the show isn’t about proving Migi right with his animalistic evaluation of humanity. Migi makes some good points, but so does Shinichi, and both of them end up adopting parts of the other’s viewpoint.

I can’t say I found Kana to be compelling, though. I hated her from pretty much the moment she shows up, as she’s standing there with a bored expression watching her friends beat the crap out of some poor guy, and then joins them in mocking Shinichi when he ineffectually tries to get them to stop. Even if Shinichi weren’t trying to explore a relationship with Murano, I would’ve been mad if he’d started dating Kana, who clearly has her own self-interest ranked much higher than any kind of empathy.

So when Kana makes a stupid decision in episode 12, I found this hilarious rather than heartbreaking. All the romantic comedy shenanigans between Murano and Kana are mixed with the slasher-horror story that is Shinichi’s life, and that kind of crossover was hugely entertaining for me. Especially since Shinichi is responsible for a fair amount of the killing himself. Or rather, Migi is. So the typical girls-getting-mixed-signals is not because the guy can’t choose between them, but because a lot of people are dying and Shinichi can’t extricate himself from bad situations.

I’ve heard complaints about the later half of the series, and I don’t entirely agree. The show as a whole does stumble a bit at several points, in both halves. It’s a bit too focused on over-explaining some things, some characters die in pointless ways, and the random serial killer at the end was out of the blue. But it’s not as though I wasn’t engaged during the second half of the series, and there were still some very good moments (Shinichi’s confrontation with Gotou particularly…. He’s shocked by what ends up working, and I was laughing hysterically). Actually the thing that bugged me the most was Migi’s decision at the end. It felt like a bit of whiplash with him in the last few eps, and hearing what he decides makes little sense.

But for all that, I was still looking forward to each episode, and I enjoyed my time with the show.

Overall, this is definitely a series for more mature viewers who don’t mind a bit of violence. I think the series handles this without glorifying all the slaughter, as it keeps coming back to the negative effects on those who encounter it. And for all that it can be a brutal series, it manages a mostly-happy ending, so it comes off more as dark fantasy/dark sci-fi than horror. I rate this show Recommended.

GeGeGe no Kitaro (Anime)

Title: GeGeGe no Kitaro

Episodes: 1-13 (Season 1)

Mana doesn’t believe in youkai, or in the rumors of a mailbox that can summon help from one who fights them, until she encounters things too bizarre to be natural. Writing a letter summons Kitaro, a young boy with mysterious abilities, and from there Mana discovers a world she never knew existed.

This is supposed to be a kid’s horror show but I watched it more like an urban fantasy (well, I’m old enough not to find most of this scary). It’s extremely episodic (only one 2-part episode in this batch), which makes it easy to pick up and watch a story or two whenever you have a moment. That’s usually a plus, as this is basically a series of short stories, and if one episode doesn’t quite appeal, something else will usually make up for it.

The only downside is that there isn’t much continuity. The first two episodes introduce someone who appears to be a villain working behind the scenes, but the initial buildup goes cold almost immediately. So there’s not much of a sense of an overarching plot. Even the episode where various explosions level parts of the city feels like it takes place in isolation, as no one even remarks on the damage in future episodes. And a couple of episodes have youkai visible to broader society but nobody has any ongoing reactions to that.

That said, I enjoyed the various vignettes. Each episode tends to introduce a new youkai and has an adventure related to those powers. Some of those are more heartwringing, like poor Shiro, and some are just funny, like the kappa. The series may be for kids, but that doesn’t stop it from touching on adult issues like overwork, corporate bullying, abandonment of elders, and others.

So all in all, this feels like a kid’s series that was designed just as much for adults. The youkai may be traditional but it can be a lot of fun watching how they’ve adapted (or not) to modern technology. I rate this show Recommended.

My Hero Academia (Anime)

Title: My Hero Academia

Episodes: 39-51 (Season 3 part 1)

Everyone is looking forward to summer, even though it’s not going to be much of a break. The kids of UA are all set to attend a summer training camp and learn even more about becoming heroes. But a villain attack disrupts their getaway, and soon all the pro heroes are scrambling to reverse the damage . . .

This is my favorite arc in the manga, so it was a great deal of fun to see it finally animated. The intensity and emotional highs of this arc haven’t been matched by anything that comes before or after.

One of the things that really impressed me was the worldbuilding. We finally see All Might’s mentor, the previous One For All holder. We see the culmination of a clash that’s clearly been a long time coming between All Might and his ultimate nemesis. The showdown between the two is epic, but also tragic—this is the fight where both of them pass the torch to their students. It’s not only All Might’s best moment, it’s in many ways his final moments as a superhero.

And we see how Izuku’s constant disregard for his own well-being has led to some rather large problems with his mom, who doesn’t like seeing her son continually admitted to the hospital. It’s interesting that this arc is a series of intense encounters, but not all of those are physical altercations between heroes and villains.

There’s also a surprising amount of characterization for Bakugo (everyone’s favorite King of Explodo-Kills). The little rage-ball has gotten noticed by a lot of people, not all of them good. But what happens because of that sets up a ton of great moments for him. I didn’t care for him much until this arc, as he’s too grating. After this, it becomes easier to see he’s probably going to go through a lot of growth if he continues to hold the same goals.

And I love how the story sets up so many parallels. Bakugou’s risking turning into another Endeavor, who, when he finally gets what he always wanted, behaves similarly to Bakugou after he won the tournament.

There’s a ton of stuff packed into these episodes, which will likely be the highlight of the series for a long time to come. If you’ve been following the show at all, this is one arc you won’t want to miss. Highly Recommended.

Overlord II (Anime)

Title: Overlord II
Episodes: 1-13
(Second season of Overlord)

This second season covers novels 4-6 and has two distinct arcs.
The first arc covers the lizardmen villages, which Ainz has decided to wipe out (he needs resources for Nazarick). Cocytus is in charge of this. The lizardmen, only aware a new enemy is threatening their very existence, struggle to band together in the face of this overwhelming foe.

The second arc covers Sebas and Solution on their reconnaissance mission in the capital of the Kingdom. When Sebas intervenes to save a dying girl, he earns the enmity of the Eight Fingers, the criminal underworld. Solution can’t see the point of saving humans, but what Ainz thinks is the real question . . .

I like Overlord because it diverges pretty widely from standard “transported to another world/a game world” tropes. One sign of this is that nearly this entire season doesn’t feature Ainz himself, the supposed main character, and instead dives deep into exploring this new world and some of the lesser-known characters of Nazarick like Sebas. (But don’t worry, Ainz shows up at the very end and has some good scenes.)

The season stumbles a bit at the start, as the first episode made the choice to adapt all of the various intermission chapters which have little immediate relevance to the plot but hint at several things in the wider world. There’s so many characters and ties to the first season it’s a pretty bad starting point. After that, though, the series dives into the thick of things.

I liked the lizardman arc in the books a lot, and the anime captured most of it well. Zaryusu is an outcast among his own people because he travels to the world beyond, but it’s that very experience that makes him recognize the danger they’re in when undead minions show up to harass his people. Desperate to unite the lizardmen tribes to give them a fighting chance, he travels from tribe to tribe, hoping to convince everyone to set aside old wrongs and face this new foe.

The lizardmen are a lot of fun to follow. They have their own body language, a strong tribal culture, and a history of violence against each other. As viewers knowing they’re going up against Nazarick, though, there’s a backdrop of tragedy for the whole thing, as there’s no way the strongest lizardman could even dent one of the guardians, much less Ainz. But Ainz isn’t coming himself, and he’s refused to let Cocytus use any of his good forces, so as odd as it seems, the lizardmen have a chance.

Sebas, on the other hand, operates under different constraints. He’s the sole member of Nazarick with a strong inclination towards good, which rubs up against the callous evil of most of his fellow NPCs. So when he saves Tsuare, he doesn’t want to report it because he’s hoping the whole thing can just stay under the radar. But while Tsuare herself isn’t that important, the brothel she was imprisoned within was illegal, so the Eight Fingers have a vested interest in removing the evidence. And since Sebas defied them, they’d like to take him down too.

I do regret the anime trimmed out a few fights I would’ve liked to see—Sebas’s role in the brothel raid, and the end of the fight with Entoma—but overall this was a lot of fun. Sebas, because he has a conscience, can be caught in ways none of the other denizens of Nazarick can. He recognizes he’s different, too, and can’t help but wonder if this is a curse. But Mr. Perfect Butler is just as overpowered as the rest of Nazarick, and when he finally goes to town on the security division of the Eight Fingers, the results are as hysterical as you might expect. The ten second fight he promises actually does clock in at under 10 seconds. (“It seems I was a tiny bit stronger,” indeed.)

It’s also interesting to see how characters like Brain Unglaus have continued to stick around and grow. He began as a cocky bandit lord that barely escaped from Shalltear with his life (well, that’s more than can be said of the rest of them). In this season we can see how badly that encounter broke him. I love how his old rival Gazef Stronoff (who was the better man in a lot of ways) tries to get him back on his feet. Even the try-hard Climb, who lacks enough talent to be better than “average”, spurs on Brain to move forward. And the last episode throws out a surprise that gives a nod to all the progress he’s managed to make.

Overall this was a solid dose of fun every week, and it’s great they announced a third season is happening so soon. Overlord has its flaws but I really like the different ways it branches out, from having nonhuman characters that are more than just regular people with ears and tails to being willing to shelve its protagonist to go focus on building up equally compelling secondary characters. I rate this show Recommended.