Tag Archives: recommended

The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious (Anime)

Title: The Hero is Overpowered but Overly Cautious

Episodes: 1-12

Ristarte is a goddess tasked with summoning a hero to defeat a demon lord for a world she’s managing. When she discovers Seiya and his abnormally good spec sheet, she’s thrilled—and realizes too late what “impossibly cautious” actually means. Seiya won’t do ANYTHING if he can’t do it to a level of completion that drives her insane. But for this world with an unexpectedly powerful demon lord, that’s a good thing . . . isn’t it?

Although the premise is well-worn, the show is at its best when leaning hard into the comedy. Ristarte is trying to play things by the book. Seiya, however, is so abnormally insistent on over-preparing for literally everything that he drives her crazy. And she’s probably falling in love with him, which makes his deadpan rebuttals even more annoying to her.

I was also surprised to find this is basically a complete story arc, despite leaving some room at the end for further adventures.

On the other hand, the times when the show isn’t spinning a joke it tends to be dull and derivative, as it’s deliberately not trying to do anything unique with its setting or plot. Seiya is a flat character even with the development near the end, as is basically everyone except Ristarte. And Ristarte can’t quite carry the entire show by herself.

Overall I think this was worth seeing once, although if you’re not really interested in a lot of the tropes it skewers there’s not much else to it. I rate this show Recommended.

Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun! (Anime)

Title: Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun!

Episodes: 1-23

Iruma has been sold off to the demon Sullivan by his irresponsible parents—but that just might be the best thing that’s ever happened to him. His new grandpa is spoiling him rotten, and if his new school is all about eating people, well, most of them don’t even know what a human looks like. So Iruma can do his best to find friends and fit in—as long as nobody figures out his secret.

I do want to point out that the very last episode has an after-credits scene that throws a huge wrench in the happy ending, and makes me desperately want a season 2.

This was one of the unexpected good finds of the last few seasons. Iruma is an engaging lead—cheerful, optimistic, klutzy . . . and completely unable to say no to people. This leads to quite a bit of comedy, as well as a few good friends.

Much of the fun in this series is taking traditional school tropes like a school festival and reimaging it with demons. And the presence of magic makes for some truly wacky hijinks. But it’s also got some pretty strong character-based humor: Az is the straight man to Clara’s insanity, but both of them are new to this whole “friends” thing and tend to compete as much as they get along.

This is more kid-friendly than the typical anime fare, as well. I appreciated having a cleaner story than I expected, even with episodes covering classes in seduction (which was one of the funniest of the entire season, given Clara’s bizarre antics).

I think this one is best binged (at least the festival arc, because each episode feels like it covers so little ground individually). It’s a lighter, kid-friendly show that’s usually decent and sometimes excellent. I rate this show Recommended.

In/Spectre (Anime)

Title: In/Spectre

Episodes: 1-12

Two people whose lives are intertwined with the supernatural tackle the cases where both worlds collide. Kotoko is an energetic young woman who lost an eye and a leg to become the specter’s Goddess of Wisdom, whereas Kuro was tricked into gaining power. When an urban legend starts manifesting in reality, it’s going to take both of them and some help from Kuro’s ex-girlfriend to take it down . . .

I loved the manga, so I was really looking forward to this adaptation. That said, in many ways I feel this story does work better as a manga, as so much of it is about characters talking. To its credit the anime tries to make this interesting, and if you’re engaging with the back and forth of the logic it can still feel intense, but this is not really a typical action or mystery show.

The show opens with a solid first episode, then quickly dives into a smaller case that showcases a lot of the ideas that the later, larger case will tackle. Most of the season is tied up with the issue of Steel Lady Nanase, an urban legend come to life and growing increasingly violent as the rumors about her keep pushing a worst-case scenario.

The issue at hand is not the mystery—that gets resolved quickly. The real problem is that something is real that shouldn’t be, and telling the truth is only going to strengthen a killer no one will be able to stop. So the central question becomes how the three of them re-frame this whole mess to eliminate the belief that’s powering a nightmare.

Overall this is still a good watch, and one I plan to buy once it’s out. If you’re in the mood for a different kind of supernatural show, check this one out. I do hope there is a second season adapting some of the short stories covered later in the manga, as those had a lot of great moments, and the shorter format would probably work better with a show since there isn’t so much repetition. I rate this show Recommended.

Breakthrough with the Forbidden Master (Web Novel)

Title: Breakthrough with the Forbidden Master

Link: https://www.novelupdates.com/series/breakthrough-with-the-forbidden-master/

Earth Lagann is tired of being the son of the hero who slew the Demon Lord. He’s never been able to live up to the lofty expectations society has for him. No matter how well he does, he’s never as good as his father. Earth has gradually been losing his motivation for everything—until the day he inadvertently discovers the spirit of the Demon Lord and ends up as his student. Now that he’s got a path to become stronger, Earth is ready to tackle the future . . .

I really liked this story. The first arc is the first 43 chapters (with 2 chapter side story) and functions as a complete story, although it’s basically the prologue to whatever Earth’s real adventures will be.

This is a story about a man who saved the world but couldn’t make time for his own family, and the son that ended up crushed under his father’s neglect and accomplishments. Earth is famous—but not for himself. Unlike the other children of the heroic seven, he hasn’t embraced his destiny as “the new generation” who will carry on their legacies.

Ironically, the Demon Lord proves to be everything his father isn’t. The Demon Lord pays attention to him, recognizes his strengths and weaknesses, trains him, and works to motivate him to dream for his own future. And despite the claims that this is all for boredom, or a form of revenge, it’s obvious that he doesn’t have to go this far for Earth.

And in the end, when Earth is trying to debut his new strength, the Demon Lord is the only one actually recognizing his efforts and accomplishments.

I do hate the princess with a burning passion. Her assumption that because she’s in love with Earth he must feel the same about her—and that it gives her the license to treat him terribly—makes me hope she finally got the message at the end. Earth hates her. He can’t stand how much she belittles him and cuts off any chance he has to make friends. But actually TELLING her this is tricky, because she’s not only the princess, but she’s strong enough to beat him into the ground (which she regularly does).

The only thing I don’t care for as much in this story is how much of a pervert Earth can be (although his maid is also partially at fault for egging him on… which also disturbs me for a different reason, since she’s literally been taking care of him since he was an infant and is basically a mom to him). Although this is played up a lot, most of this is only taking place inside his own head.

Overall this is a good story that tackles more of the aftermath of saving the world than the actual event. Given where this first arc ends, I’m really looking forward to seeing where it goes from here on out. Recommended.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #4 (Light Novel)

Title: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #4

Author: Satoru Yamaguchi

Format: Light Novel

Keith has gone missing, and Katarina is convinced it’s all her fault. Rallying together a small team to go in search of him, she, Maria, Sora (Rufus), Jeord, and Larna set off to pursue him. To those who know the truth, this is more serious—Keith has been kidnapped, and with no demand for a ransom, it doesn’t look like his captors mean to return him . . .

This book is significantly darker than any of the previous. Although I feel compelled to point out this is the third book in a row that uses kidnapping as a major plot point (please do something different next time), it also differs in that the kidnappers this time are determined to hurt him significantly. So the stakes are higher.

Moments of comedy do surface fairly regularly, though, as Katarina is still prone to doing whatever catches her fancy. I also appreciated Raphael’s distressed office work segments (and how he makes a certain someone take responsibility for his actions).

Once again, Katarina’s potential love interests spend most of their time trying to sabotage each other. I’m warming up to Jeord more, as he feels less about cutting everyone else down and more about pursuing Katarina on his own and trying to win her heart (unlike some of the others who form alliances to spy on him to intercept him). He’s still not my favorite suitor but I respect the way he does things a lot more than many of the others.

This volume sets up what looks like a new arc, with a villain who is much more evil than anyone we’ve seen so far. I’m looking forward to more stupid shenanigans from Katarina, but maybe there’s also a better plot about to surface. I rate this book Recommended.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #2 (Light Novel)

Title: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #2

Author: Satoru Yamaguchi

Format: Light Novel

Now at the Magic Academy, which was the setting in the original game, Katarina has to be more alert than ever for the events that signal her upcoming potential Bad Ends. But even though some things are going well, a hidden character’s route may still spell her doom. . .

By this point it is completely obvious to the reader that most of Katarina’s feared Catastrophic Bad Ends are something that exist entirely in her own imaginings. But because she continues to see her friends as their game characters (and therefore “vulnerable” to falling for the actual game protagonist with only a few events), things that remind her of the game again provoke hugely disproportionate responses.

And things that don’t—such as the whole problem with Dark Magic—lead to the same mix of stupidity and kindness that baffles everyone, especially the person trying to be a villain. Anyone who expects a baseline common sense in Katarina is bound to be disappointed . . .

I do feel slightly bad for Jeord, Katarina’s fiancee. He’s probably the one suffering the most from her constantly thinking he’s the same as his game character, as she spends more time figuring out how she’ll defend herself against him and his “black heart” and trying to break their engagement rather than realizing at this point he’s willing to put his considerable talent and resources to whatever she needs. Also, despite actually having an engagement, everyone around him is doing everything in their power to break them up.

I’m also less fond of the fact that everyone Katarina’s age that she interacts with ends up wanting to marry her (guys and girls). There doesn’t seem to be anyone who just wants to be friends, so the potential love interests are skyrocketing to the point where nobody really gets any decent character development after their introduction, because at this point it’s more about their competition for her.

Things more or less wrap up at the conclusion of this volume, as Katarina has reached the end of the game’s timeline. You could stop here and the story would feel complete. I rate this book Recommended.

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #1 (Light Novel)

Title: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! #1

Author: Satoru Yamaguchi

Format: Light Novel

When she was 8 years old, Katarina Claes hit her head and regained memories of a previous life—and realizes she’s reincarnated into an otome game she’d played before she died. Problem: she’s one of the villains. With nothing but death or exile in her future per the game’s plot, she prepares to face her destiny head-on and destroy all those Catastrophic Bad Ends.

I wasn’t expecting to get hooked so much by this story. Katarina is hilarious. Her belief that the game’s plot is going to work out in real life causes her to overreact to even the little things, and it also blinds her to the fact that most of those Catastrophic Bad Ends only happened because game-Katarina was a huge jerk (which is not true of her).

This is particularly evident with Keith, a boy adopted into her family. Keith locking himself in his room, by her logic, leads directly to her death or exile, and that means nothing is too outrageous if she can force him to come out.

So her particular blend of kindness and idiocy manages to win over both potential enemies and people from the game that she’d never expected to meet. The overarching story is more a series of small events told from her point of view, then re-told from the other person’s. Although the retelling could do with a bit less repetition, it mostly works to showcase each character in turn.

I started reading this given news of the upcoming anime adaption, and now I can’t wait. Hopefully the show will cover this book and the next, as the first two books are currently the strongest plot arc. I rate this book Recommended.

That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #7 (Light Novel)

Title: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime #7

Author: Fuse

Format: Light Novel

Now that Rimuru has become a demon lord, he’s busier than ever. Setting up Tempest as a nation, dealing with international treaties and disputes, and figuring out that politics is a lot more complicated than he thought is eating up all of his time. Now that he’s on a world stage, certain other parties are trying to use him in their own schemes.

This novel definitely focuses a lot more on the worldbuilding side of things, what with the various conspiracies and manipulations fueling misunderstandings. Particularly Hinata’s misunderstandings. Although she now regrets attacking Rimuru without giving him a chance to talk, she’s aware that backtracking her earlier aggression is going to be difficult.

From Rimuru’s perspective, although he’d STILL like to talk, Hinata is strong enough to make taking every precaution possible a necessity. He believes she’s inflexible, so his best bet is to avoid her entirely while working out the rest of his plans.

Then Hinata tries to pay Rimuru a visit.

This is a solid next volume, although it also feels more like a lull after the huge events previously. Many of the conspiracies are still unfolding. Also, some of the more interesting characters like Veldora don’t get much of a chance to do anything, which will hopefully be remedied later on. I rate this book Recommended.

By the Grace of the Gods #1 (Light Novel)

Title: By the Grace of the Gods #1

Author: Roy

Format: Light Novel

Ryoma was an overworked salaryman who received an offer to be sent to another world after his unexpected death. With the support and blessing of three of the new world’s gods, he sets out to live a retirement-styled life in the woods, where his daily life consists of gathering food and researching slimes. Then an unexpected encounter with a group of people sets him on the path to rejoin the world at large.

This is a more slow-paced, slice-of-life novel, but I love it precisely because it follows the sort of man who thinks nothing of spending years by himself simply because he’s interested in what he’s doing and it never occurs to him to actually go out and do something else. He’s not exactly smart (although he’s not stupid), and his dedication to following his own interests leads him down a lot of paths ordinary people find hard to understand.

I’m also fond of his warm relationship with the various gods of his new world. They need him simply for the transfer itself, but they’re kind to him, and he appreciates that and responds to it. Ryoma also continues his relationship with them as well as he’s able once he’s given his new life, which starts gradually drawing the interest of even more of this world’s gods.

This is echoed in the kindness of the family that ends up more-or-less adopting him. Their relationship is full of misunderstandings of Ryoma being this horribly abused child (which, technically, may not entirely be wrong, but it certainly isn’t what they’re thinking), but their response to this is to support him in every way they’re able.

So if you’re in the mood for a comfy novel with a harmlessly obsessive protagonist, this is a great read. I rate this book Recommended.

Record of Wortenia War #4 (Light Novel)

Title: Record of Wortenia War #4

Author: Ryota Hori

Format: Light Novel

The war has changed yet again: after an unexpected surrender, and Lupis failing to bargain well for her win, Ryouma is simply left to mop up what’s left of the fighting. Of course, he’s intent on eliminating every enemy he can, which leads to an odd showdown with the man responsible for dragging him into the civil war in the first place.

This volume finally reveals more directly what’s been happening back home due to Ryouma’s disappearance. As expected, nobody quite knows what to make of someone of his size and training just up and vanishing—but his grandfather seems to have more knowledge than he should. And the twist here will be interesting to see play out in future volumes (although I really hope his grandfather’s presence manages to avoid the worst outcomes).

Like before, the war changes substantially from something that happens almost immediately: most of the opposition surrenders. The important thing to remember here is that this is a CIVIL war, which leaves most of the participants the option of trying to side with whomever they think will be the winner in an effort to minimize damages to themselves. So rather than focus on the last battle, this book is more concerned with Ryouma trying to tie up the loose ends.

It’s also interesting to me how the issue of reward was handled. Ryouma was nearly single-handedly responsible for Princess Lupis’s win, and nobody can deny that. But that poses a problem for their side, because Ryouma isn’t actually from their country, nor is he particularly interested in supporting them going forward. He’s too mercenary for their tastes. And Lupis, in listening to her own fears, is seeding the creation of the very thing she was trying to stamp out.

It felt a bit jerky to have the war spread out over so many books, but overall it’s a good arc, although probably one best read together. I rate this book Recommended.