Tag Archives: neutral

Wise Man’s Grandchild (Anime)

Title: Wise Man’s Grandchild

Episodes: 1-12

Shin was someone who died and reincarnated in a world of magic. Picked up by Merlin, a famous wizard, he grows up away from the rest of the world. When he turns 15, his grandfather realizes that he’s been taught nothing BUT magic and fighting from his grandfather and his friends, so they opt to send him to a magical university to learn how to interact with people. Shin is unaware of how much his unconventional magic will change the world.

I was looking forward to this since the samples I read of the light novel were enjoyable, but as a show it’s a mixed bag. Many of the more interesting parts of the story, like the war against the demonoids, and the bits focusing on anyone who isn’t Shin, get truncated in favor of spending more time on the tired cliche elements that do the story no favors (hot springs episode being the worst offender).

The story does have some good elements. Shin uses what he knows of science to visualize process instead of result for his magic, which is what makes his spells so powerful. The story also isn’t afraid to kill off some characters (none of the main cast, though), and the villains in general have decent backstories. Especially Kurt, who looks so much like a typical noble jerk until you see his family and realize there’s more to the story.

That said, it devolves at many points into pandering or just spends too long on things that can be found in dozens of other series, so overall it’s just too much of a mixed bag to really recommend. I liked seeing a few of the fights from the light novel animated, but I think if I ever pick this up it’s probably just going to be the first volume of the light novel (before the plot starts going downhill). I rate this show Neutral.

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Isekai Quartet (Anime)

Title: Isekai Quartet

Episodes: 1-12

Four different isekai protagonists and their companions push a mysterious red button and find themselves in another world, where they must attend school. But can these doubly transported misfits get along?

The four series highlighted are: The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Overlord, Konosuba, and Re:Zero.

I’ll say up front comedies aren’t usually my thing, so I only found this mildly amusing outside of a few specific gags (Subaru and Kazuma being carried by their physically stronger female party members being the best). That said, the shorter episode format means the recycled-from-base-series gags tend not to drag on too long, and some of the interactions between series are funny. I need more of Tanya and Demiurge plotting together how to make the rest of the students miserable.

One major weakness is that the series does rely heavily on done-to-death comedy from their original series, like Darkness from Konosuba going on and on about being tormented (she gets several long monologues in this vein). The humor is better when it’s doing something different than re-applying old jokes, even if they are between characters from different series. Another possible downside is that many of the school events are such staples they’re obvious, although this one is mitigated by the crackpots who have to actually do these events.

Overall this is watchable if you haven’t seen all four series, although some of the more subtle jokes will likely only make sense if you know the characters in their regular setting. It was interesting enough to get me to watch Saga of Tanya the Evil, which I appreciated more than this show. I liked it enough to watch weekly, but it lacked more than one or two scenes that I would watch again. I rate this show Neutral.

Changing World: How It All Began

Title: Changing World: How It All Began

Author: Sergei Katz

Dave is a stock analyst with a disability. When he’s offered the chance to beta test a newly developed full-immersion virtual reality game, he’s all in. But a few early mistakes puts him at a disadvantage starting out, and it will take luck and cleverness to ensure his character isn’t eliminated early on.

I probably should’ve stopped reading when the first chapter was pumping the main character up as a super-awesome stock analyst with an unbelievable ability to make money. It would have been a more engaging story if it had focused more on his disability and how going into the game world changed that.

It was also a very odd choice for a disability–the inability to see colors doesn’t seem to be as compelling a reason to abandon your everyday life for three years as perhaps some others might have been. And Dave doesn’t seem like much of a gamer otherwise. His main draw for playing is supposed to be getting around this disability.

And that all ignores the fact that after the very beginning, his life and personality outside the game has no relevance.

The actual game begins the litRPG aspect. Unfortunately, the story has a tendency to play up whatever the main character is finding or doing as awesome, without giving a good sense of the strengths or weaknesses of others. This makes the story as a whole less interesting because the stakes are either not there or poorly defined.

The fights, for example, tend to describe what’s going on by what’s happening with HP bars, rather than focusing on specific skills or strategies by both sides (and when it does try to show what both sides are doing, it tends to give a tiny bit of detail and then go back to talking about HP bars). So the fights are no fun to read because of their vagueness and lack of detail in the important parts, and excessive detail on the unimportant parts.

Both of his pets bother me. The bird in no way acts like a bird, which could be partially explained by this being a game, except nothing really indicates this is pet behavior specifically.

Overall, this has the bones of an interesting story, but the execution falls flat in a number of areas. I rate this book Neutral.

Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 2 (Light Novel)

Title: Arifureta: From Commonplace to World’s Strongest, Vol. 2

Author: Ryo Shirakome

Format: Light Novel

Hajime and Yue have conquered the first labyrinth dungeon, but their troubles are only getting started. Once they’re finally free, they run into bunny-girl Shea, who’s fleeing for her life. Although Hajime isn’t thrilled about it, they eventually join forces, as Shea may be able to help him find the next dungeon. He plans to conquer all the dungeons, learn their ancient magic, and somehow get himself home.

Shea is the most annoying character in this book. Her willful misreading of every single situation to conform to the way she wants it to be has the makings of an extreme villain. But of course she’s supposed to be comic relief.

“Please don’t talk about me like I’m dense or something. In fact, why don’t you learn to read the mood instead? You’re always trying to twist every situation into an opportunity to satisfy yourself.”

At least Hajime gets it.

I don’t find her funny, I find her insufferable. And since the whole book is about her, more or less, that made a good deal of this one hard to read through since I mostly kept hoping something, somewhere, would finally kill her.

At least the new dungeon was more amusing. This time Hajime, Yue, and Shea are challenging a dungeon built by a real sadist, whose annoying traps are much worse than the monsters they faced previously.

And there were some bits of genuine humor.

“Did you get her?!”
“Shea, anytime anyone says that the enemy’s alive.”

Overall, this book firmly cements the series as going the harem route, which is a shame (Hajime’s opinion, once again, is firmly discarded by absolutely everyone—what Shea wants, Shea won’t stop until she gets). I plan to go on long enough to see Hajime’s eventual reunion/confrontation with his classmates, but I disliked a huge amount of this particular book. I rate this book Neutral.

No Game No Life (Anime)

Title: No Game No Life

Episodes: 1-12 (Complete)

Sora and Shiro are sibling gamers, collectively known as Blank for their habit of not putting any username in when possible. They never lose, except to each other. One day a god named Tet summons them both to another world, where everything is run on games. Humanity is at the bottom here. But now that Sora and Shiro have arrived, that’s about to change.

I have mixed feelings on this one. There’s a huge amount of gratuitous fanservice, and a number of the girls getting stripped are very young. Steph, the granddaughter of the previous king of Imanity (humanity), is treated with casual abuse and humiliation, mostly because she’s sincere but naive and not good at games. So there’s a lot to dislike.

The games themselves are better. In a world with magic, even familiar games can have interesting twists. The best one is probably the chess match with living chess pieces, but this doesn’t go at all the way you might expect (well, it’s not exactly a “chess” game by the end). The other highlight was a word game that has the power to materialize or de-materialize the words in play, which leads to some interesting strategies.

There’s also a lot of references to other games or media. I’m sure I didn’t even catch half, but that can make watching it a sort of game in and of itself, as long as you’re sufficiently familiar with the sources to recognize the callouts.

I like the art style too. The colors are more bright and illustration-style, and gives it a unique aesthetic.

The story unfortunately only gets a small way into what’s clearly a larger narrative before cutting off. Sora and Shiro’s ultimate plan—to challenge Tet again to another game—is barely laying the groundwork in the 12 episodes available. Given that the series is older, it’s unlikely that a sequel will show up, so keep in mind the show doesn’t really accomplish much plot-wise due to its length.

Character-wise, Sora and Shiro have enough personality to carry the show. They’re geniuses in different ways, but even the outgoing Sora is a social wreck. I dislike how Sora pervs on pretty much every girl, especially his 11-year-old sister, who he’s constantly trying to take pictures of in the bath. Their codependence, however, is a nicer touch. They can’t interact with people at all outside of games, so they only rely on each other. I also thought the attempt to paint Steph as competent in her chosen field is undercut by the fact that she’s too much of a moron otherwise to make a brilliant ability for diplomacy plausible. Maybe if it was all deskwork.

Overall, I can’t really recommend this, due to the incomplete story arc and the huge amount of fanservice on underaged girls. I might at some point watch the movie, which is supposed to do better in both of those aspects. I rate this Neutral.

The Rising of the Shield Hero #12 (Light Novel)

Title: The Rising of the Shield Hero #12

Author: Aneko Yusagi

Format: Light Novel

Naofumi is still working on building up the village. Between raising a gifted dragon egg and dealing with the crazy girls after him, he doesn’t have a lot of time to rest. News of Itsuki fighting in the Coliseum, though, forces him to detour to try to recruit the last Hero by whatever means necessary.

This book is a mess. Structurally, it doesn’t hold up well. The plot has three separate main conflicts going on, and they aren’t tied together very smoothly. It’s more like two and a half shorter stories bludgeoned into a novel-length book.

I hate this segment of the village life even more than the previous book. Alta lost all my sympathy after she got healed and started being a creeper on Naofumi, but she’s finally gotten so bad that Naofumi is jumping at the chance to run away in a manner she can’t follow. The whole harem aspect isn’t even done well, as pretty much all the girls except Raphtalia have a single character trait they beat to death and virtually nothing else (it doesn’t help that they’re all very much underage). When I find myself wishing that something would just come along and kill them off, they’re an active detriment to the story.

In a related note, Naofumi’s attitude about slavery is getting worse. This isn’t helped by all his slaves enthusiastically supporting him as their owner. Forget being slaves, these are kids. I’m shocked none of them have any issues with him bossing them around, even if he is telling them the fastest way to get stronger. I don’t actually mind Naofumi personally seeing this in a wrongheaded way, as that’s part of his morally grey character, but it’s a bit too much when everyone else decides to worship his decisions.

Gaelion is better. I liked that Naofumi finally got a dragon and decided to raise it, although predictably things go sideways before too long. I appreciate that Naofumi actually chooses a male, since the cast has been way too imbalanced towards the girls for too long. Although it’s not the same case as Filo, Gaelion ends up as someone else Naofumi can talk to, and one of the few people around him who isn’t interested in jumping him.

Itsuki’s confrontation with Rishia was also decent. Rishia’s been overcoming all her past limitations, and now it’s time to go back to the person who both inspired her and rejected her. But Itsuki never thought much of Rishia, and his curse series has even further stopped up his ears, so their actual battle is an amusing sequence of “Hey, the person fighting you is over here!” I am disappointed the book never confirms which curse series he unlocked, as several guesses are offered but none confirmed.

The last part of the book is the only part I actually enjoyed. Sadeena has some interesting comments about Raphtalia’s family, and that turns into a big mess by the end and gives Naofumi a new goal. I’m pretty sure this will be related to one of the Sacred Beasts as well, so that should hopefully bring the story out of this slump and back into a better plot.

Overall, it’s been an extremely rocky road through this arc, and although I still have hopes the series overall will get better I’m getting less enthusiastic about having to buy the next book to find out what’s next. I might look for the web novel to get an idea if the plot actually gets better or if the tacky harem plotline continues to dominate. I rate this book Neutral.

Infinite Competitive Dungeon Society

Title: Infinite Competitive Dungeon Society

Author: Toika

Translator: FudgeNouget

Chapters: 354 (Complete)

https://www.wuxiaworld.com/novel/infinite-competitive-dungeon-society

Shin is following in his father’s footsteps of exploring a mysterious dungeon whose depths are invite-only. Meanwhile, Earth is drastically changing as monsters start appear, followed by dungeons of their own. But Shin isn’t concerned about the new ability users or monsters. He’s determined to conquer the depths of the dungeon.

It’s hard to give this one a good summary because it is a very long story, so there’s a lot going on. On a surface level, at the beginning there are two plot threads that rarely intersect: the Two Moons incident that caused Earth to gain monsters, magic, and little dungeons, and the giant extra-dimensional Dungeon that Shin is working his way through.

It takes a good while before the full story comes out about why both the big Dungeon and the little ones exist, and I like how this takes a familiar trope and twists it a bit, and then goes on to break out of it completely. Heroes defend their world, and monsters invade, but there are reasons behind why all of this is going on, and it’s a lot more grey than it first appears. Shin is stubborn and passionate, and even though Earth is in a very bad situation, he’s looking beyond the immediate problem and towards the bigger picture. Because Earth isn’t the only world facing these kinds of problems. And some of those other worlds have already lost.

This is a litRPG, but it twists away from skills and stats by the end. Actually, it was fascinating that the whole “dungeon” concept is an abstraction, and Shin eventually tries to tackle things at a deeper level. I liked that Shin has actual experience as a spearman from training with his father (and I also like that he’s using a less-common weapon), which makes his progress in the dungeon more believable. He picks up or creates a number of skills and abilities, but I like that after a certain point the concept of a skill can’t overcome actual knowledge/training in how to fight with his chosen weapon or technique.

A large focus of the fights isn’t so much the stats but the strategy. Some of that is tied to skills and their cooldowns, but more of it is about evaluating his enemy, trying to interrupt their dangerous moves, and most importantly not getting hit. Despite his rapidly increasing power, he’s also got enemies far stronger than him—and also a father who is determined to win in any competition against his son.

The one downside for me is unfortunately a rather big one. I don’t like any of the girls. They’re all introduced by hair and eye color, height, and breast size, and every single one falls in love with him and competes to be his wife. They have only the most minor personality variations because of this. They’re flat, uninteresting, and clearly there just to pander. Which makes the harem ending unsurprising but also annoying.

I kept hoping that he’d meet at least one girl that either hated him for real or just wasn’t interested, or could get more of a focus than trying to jump him. In the same vein, all of the elementals are female, all of the tamed monsters are female, and even his sister’s relationship with him is less than platonic (for a while I was hoping she was just playing up to his crush on her to extract benefits from him, but no luck). Even Daisy, who initially appeared to be sane, eventually joins in the “marry me too, please” crowd.

So that being said, I found Ren, Walker, Leon, and Lin way more interesting. Ren is a hotheaded beastman who can’t always live up to his own expectations, but gives his all however he can. Lin is half-dragon and a blacksmith who takes over the dungeon floor shop when Loretta gets a vacation. His grumpiness hides a sharp mind. He’s unwillingly friends with Shin, who keeps toppling his expectations (and thus creating more work with every bet he loses). And so on. The men manage to have better character arcs, and they aren’t spending every other sentence trying to get down Shin’s pants.

The chapters are a bit longer than the other web novels I’ve read so far, so it took quite a bit of time to finish, but the story is complete. I’m on the fence about recommending it, though, as the girls all harping on Shin gets really tedious, even though the fight scenes and the idea behind the dungeon was great. I rate this book Neutral.