Anime, Shows

RWBY Volume 6 Gives the Real Story of Salem

Anime Review:

RWBY Volume 6

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Memorable heroes
  • Effective villains
  • Focus on pivotal character backstories
  • Unique weapons and apparel
  • Phenomenal fight scenes
  • Interesting setting
  • Original music
  • Attractive intro
  • Balance of comedic and dark moments
  • Groundbreaking American anime
  • Beautiful art style and animation

Cons

  • No specific cons

Warning: Spoilers below!

Review

Trigger Warning: Suicide

There are so many things I love about this season. The new characters and Grimm, the epic fight scenes, the beautiful intro, the depth of the character backstories….

Let’s start with my two favorite new characters…

Maria Calavera is a wonderful addition to Team RWBY. Her eyes, once grey like Ruby’s, were destroyed by the villain Tock. She has mechanical goggles that allow her to see, even though they need tuning from time to time and they cause her to be colorblind. As the Grimm Reaper, she was highly skilled and even inspired Qrow to make a weapon modeled off of hers. I love the part where she tries to get away with using a military airship by using jargon. She pulls off the jargon, but is given away because the military does not employ the elderly.

Tock

Even though Tock is a side character shown only briefly in a flashback, I found her character design to be fascinating, and her semblance and focus on the passage of time interesting. She was inspired by the crocodile from Peter Pan and carries a watch with her. Tock’s semblance allows her to be invulnerable for 60 seconds, although it does sap almost all of her aura. She tends to play with those she intends to kill. Formidable, snarky, and sadistic, she is a character to be appreciated. Before her death, she was trusted enough by Salem to be a part of her inner circle.

The Sphinx is one new type of Grimm the heroes face pretty early on in the volume. The train fight is phenomenal. You can see how the characters have grown as fighters.

The Apathy are by far the creepiest Grimm I have ever seen. They slowly sap one’s will and volition to live. They killed a whole town because the people slowly lost the will to move and died in their beds one morning. Their cry is frightening, and they don’t even have to be fast because their prey will move slower and slower as its energy is sapped.

The battle of the team vs. the Colossus, which is manned by Caroline Cordovin, is utterly fabulous. I love that when the good guys finally get the upper hand, the city is threatened by a Leviathan. And they just took down the only thing capable of stopping the Leviathan. The guilt and determination are superb as enemies turn to reluctant allies. Ruby using Jinn to stop time was super smart and gave her what was necessary to succeed. Then Cordovin drilling into that Leviathan Gurren Lagann style…nice!

The intro is great, creating so much foreshadowing and tension. You can tell that it is shaping up to be a great volume just from watching the intro. I know some people ship Ruby and Weiss so I bet that final scene with Weiss helping Ruby up will make them happy–it looks very sweet.

Also, can I just say, the animation of this volume was much better? It really was. People were even freaking out about the detail on the trees near the beginning of the volume. A big improvement.

The backstory for Salem and Ozpin is phenomenal. Their love story seemed so sincere…until love turned to hatred. Salem went to terrible lengths to try to bring Ozpin back to life. She even turned the humans of the world against their gods, and every human was obliterated except for her. She became immortal until she could appreciate the value of life and death…a terrible sentence for the crime of turning against the gods and trying to bring back the dead. Salem tried to commit suicide at least twice, once by the sword and again by casting herself into a pool of darkness.

I found it interesting that the brother gods got along decently well despite their vastly different outlooks, one being creation and one destruction. They respected each other, and were not enemies even though their goals did not altogether match.

Qrow’s struggle with alcoholism and his loss of authority over the younger characters were pivotal in this volume. The younger characters decide to do things their way and Qrow’s permission is no longer sought or needed. This changes the power dynamics in the group. Luckily, things turn out pretty well after the the young’uns take charge.

I loved this volume and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys action and anime. Did you watch this volume? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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Shows

SRPOP Season 3 Reveals the History of Etheria, She-Ra, and Hordak

Show Review:

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 3

Rating: 8.7 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Great for children and adults
  • Fun plot with high stakes
  • Well-made characters
  • Representation of different body types and skin colors
  • LGBTQ+ representation
  • Some Catra and Scorpia bonding moments
  • Backstory for Hordak

Cons

  • Overly childish intro
  • Poor art style choices

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Review

This season was only six episodes long, so this will be a short review. Nonetheless, it was a really good season and a wonderful experience.

This season begins exactly where we left off with the previous season. Shadowweaver is standing over Adora’s bed, but collapses after Adora draws her sword. Since Bright Moon has no dungeons, Shadowweaver is imprisoned in a spare room that had the cushions removed but otherwise is super comfortable.

I am not sure how I feel about Shadowweaver switching sides. Sure, it’s good for the heroes. But Shadowweaver is abusive toward Adora and Catra and makes a problematic hero. I do think they dealt with it pretty well though, establishing that she has selfish motives even when on the side of good.

It is just like Adora to be concerned about Shadowweaver, and for Adora to heal her. Adora obviously has an unhealthy attachment to Shadowweaver, but remains compassionate despite Shadowweaver’s transgressions.

Catra’s punishment is harsh considering she has increased the productivity of the Horde by 400% and has retrieved plenty of First One’s relics. Entrapta tries to stand up for her, which says a lot about her character. This season certainly strengthens Catra’s character arc as she becomes more and more unhinged.

I love that Catra and Scorpia become closer as friends, at least for the first part of the season when Catra is sent on an apparent suicide mission to the Crimson Waste. Also, when Catra is introduced to a party for the first time, it hearkens back to when this happened for Adora as well. It’s a sweet moment. For Catra’s sake I wish she had left the Horde and stayed in the Crimson Waste, at least for a time. The experience was really good for her and Scorpia.

The Hordak and Entrapta bonding moments were touching. Entrapta emphasizes that she enjoys being Hordak’s friend and Hordak points out that no one should underestimate Entrapta. As they build the portal together, Entrapta cools Hordak’s temper and accepts him as he is, flaws and all. She is a person who appreciates imperfections. It honestly made me like Entrapta more, even if she does frustrate me at times.

Getting to learn more about the history of Hordak and how he is a defective clone of Horde Prime was interesting and made him seem a little more personable, and less like a one-dimensional big bad.

Knowing that Etheria was separated from the rest of the universe and that a portal could compromise the safety of the planet really helped build the narrative. Revealing Adora is a First One and that she came through the portal as a baby is a nice touch.

Angella’s sacrifice and loss was a poignant part of the season, and showed how high the stakes had been. I never loved her as a character, but her being brave and spontaneous for once was a sight to see. Glimmer is young to be the next queen of Bright Moon, but her inheritance of the throne will no doubt change the dynamic of the three best friends: Adora, Glimmer, and Bow.

Catra snapping and sending Entrapta to Beast Island was incredibly sad, especially when she told Hordak that Entrapta had betrayed him. It was painful and yet fitting.

Like in the previous seasons, there is a lot of representation of different body types and skin colors. That is refreshing honestly, especially when you compare it to the original She-Ra franchise.

The intro is the same as the previous seasons. I know a lot of people really like the intro, but I don’t. It’s too childish compared to the rest of the show, and I don’t care what people say, it is not catchy. Not to say it’s horrible, but it’s not that great.

Also, the art style makes them all look young even though Adora, for example, is 17. They look like a group of 12-year-olds. It could have been better.

In conclusion, this season was even better than the first two and I would recommend it for all ages except the very youngest children.

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Anime, Shows

Noragami Season 2’s MVP is Bishamon, Goddess of War and Fortune

Anime Review:

Noragami Aragato Season 2

Rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Tons of character development, especially for Bishamon
  • Heartwarming scenes
  • More backstory
  • Balance of tragedy and humor
  • Interesting intro

Cons

  • Bishamon is bathing all the time, seems like fan service

Observations

  • Darker than the first season
  • I really wish this wasn’t the last season

Warning: Spoilers Below!

Review

After watching Season 1 of Noragami, I was stoked to watch Season 2, which is also called Noragami Aragoto. That literally means “Stray God, Rough Style” which is a little strange for a title. Anime is no stranger to odd titles, however. If I had to guess why it has that name, I would think it is because this season is significantly darker than the previous one.

Fun fact: Apparently a sound that sounded like the Islamic call to prayer was embedded in the music and greatly offended some Muslims. After the backlash and careful consideration, the sound was removed from this anime. I guess the fact that the anime features a polytheistic society is what made the inclusion of the Islamic call to prayer so offensive.

Bishamon

Bishamon is the MVP of this season, and she gets a lot of character development. We learn that the main character, calamity god Yato, killed most of her regalias after they were corrupted, thus saving her life. (Regalias are spirits of the dead who serve the gods.) Bishamon holds a grudge against Yato, however, because she had considered those regalias to be part of her family. Bishamon continually rescues regalias and adds them to her large family, even if they are what most people would consider useless. One new regalia, for instance, has the form of a broken mirror when not in humanoid form–lacking any practical use. Some regalias are weapons when in object form. Bishamon’s exemplar (the leader of her regalias), is an earring in object form. His name is Kasuma, and when he turns from regular regalia to exemplar, his object form changes from a nail that pierces Bishamon’s skin to an earring.

Having so many regalias is a danger to Bishamon’s health. Because regalias are deeply connected to their respective gods, when a regalia does evil or feels strong negative emotion, the god is blighted. Blight is painful corruption, and left untreated, it will eventually kill a god. Yep, in Noragami, gods are capable of dying. The renowned gods such as Bishamon would be reborn if killed, but lesser-known gods such as Yato would be gone for good if they died.

Kuguha

As the series goes on, it becomes clear that Bishamon is not the true villain of the series. Sure, she is an antagonist, at least for the first part of Season 2. But the real villain of Season 2 is Kugaha, a regalia of Bishamon’s. Kugaha believes the number of “useless” regalia Bishamon has accumulated has made her incompetent, and intends to arrange for her death so that she reincarnates. He believes that if she reincarnates, he will be her exemplar.

Many villains believe that they are the good guys of their own story, and Kugaha is no exception. He is so certain that his actions are pure that his terrible deeds do not even blight Bishamon. In her eyes, he is not completely evil. She does banish him, but does not let Yato destroy him. He becomes a minor nuisance after his banishment, but does much more damage as Bishamon’s regalia when he massacres her other regalias.

Yukine, Yato’s regalia, was friends with one of the regalia of Bishamon, Suzuha. Suzuha reveals one of the downfalls of Bishamon’s habit of collecting regalias into one big family. Suzuha loves Bishamon for her caring nature, but feels increasingly neglected when Bishamon never calls on him even once. He seeks companionship in a human, but she forgets him over and over and then disappears from his life completely. He also seeks solace in taking care of plants, but while that is somewhat fulfilling, he still is unhappy. Kugaha murders Suzuha brutally, and Yukine is devastated when he finds out.

Suzuha’s death is especially painful to watch knowing that Yukine has so few friends and even fewer people he can strongly relate to. He is so excited to have Suzuha in his life, so the short time when we as the audience know of Suzuha’s death before Yukine knows is cringey. Not cringey in a bad way, just a serious case of dramatic irony.

After Kugaha is defeated and Bishamon recovers, she creates a diary for her regalia to exchange so that she can read it and know what they are feeling and what they have been doing. This is not to spy on them, but rather to make sure they do not feel neglected like Suzuha did. The idea is cute and I suspect it will make their family closer.

The anime gives the audience a bit of a scare when Yukine is destroyed in sword form. I love Yukine, so seeing his near-death put me into a mini panic, even though I suspected he would survive. Turns out I was right, because Yukine’s sacrifice to protect Yato basically promoted him to an exemplar, which saved his life.

I also found it interesting that it is customary for a god to release a regalia that has blighted them even one time. That makes the number of times Yato put up with Yukine’s transgressions in Season 1 seem like an extreme act of mercy. It is clear that the relationship between god and regalia in the case of Yato and Yukine is not a conventional one. I personally think the friendship between Yato, Yukine, and Hiyori is sweet. I even put a picture on my desktop background of the three of them.

I don’t know why Bishamon is depicted bathing so often. That happened in the first season too. She bathes more often even than Nanase from the anime Free! It seems like it is fan service, and I don’t like it. There is nothing wrong with occasionally having characters naked if it makes sense in the story, but having her naked so often suggests they are trying to cater to the whims of the audience rather than focusing on the storyline. They also risk objectifying her for the sake of the male gaze.

Anyway, back to the relationship between Hiyori, Yato, and Yukine. Hiyori is pretty much flat-out told that if she cuts ties with Yato and Yukine, her soul will stop slipping out of her body, which is what it has done countless times since she was hit by a vehicle. She refuses despite the personal cost to herself. I admire her loyalty to her friends.

At one time, Ebisu tries to purchase Yukine from Yato with tons of money, enough for Yato to buy a shrine. Yato ultimately refuses because Yukine is valuable to him both as a friend and an exemplar. While touching, this solidarity paves the way for an even more heartwarming moment–when Hiyori creates a small shrine and gives it to Yato. Yato cries after receiving it. The freakin’ god of calamity burst into tears at the gift. It was beautiful.

I love how Yato gets his shrine officially recognized by the rest of the gods. He literally visits the government officials every day right at closing time until they cave in. As someone who has worked retail in the past, I 100% agree that this would work. Trust me, no one wants customers to be there at closing.

When Ebisu was introduced, I immediately thought he was a typical power-hungry bad guy. His plan to buy Yukine definitely made me suspicious of him, and then there is the part of the intro that shows Ebisu and Yato fighting.

But Ebisu is actually a great person who cares about his regalia and about humans. He wants to utilize phantoms to protect humans and make the world a better place. While unusual, his methods are thought through. Unfortunately, Ebisu reincarnates with astonishing regularity since his work frequently blights him. Yato becomes his friend and ally.

I hated that Ebisu was killed after all the trouble Yato and Bishamon went to in order to try to save him. Yes, it was good for the story. Yes, it had impact. But man, it pulled on the heartstrings. Yato taking the reincarnated Ebisu to the restaurant the Olive Tavern was super sad.

Intro style with Yukine

The intro is attractive, with a similar limited color palette as the intro and outro from Season 1.

I loved this season of Noragami, and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes fantasy, comedy, or slightly dark anime.

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Anime, Shows

An OP Character Who Specializes in Defense

Anime Review:

Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense Season 1

Rating: 5 out of 10 stars

Overview

Pros

  • Fun concept
  • Good animation
  • Attractive art style
  • Nice music

Cons

  • Boring at times
  • Very low stakes
  • Not much character development
  • Unimpressive ending

Warning: Mild spoilers ahead!

Review

When I play dungeon-crawling board games such as Descent or Gloomhaven, I always choose a character people would refer to as a “tank”. The character with the highest HP and defense, capable of withstanding hordes of attacking foes–that’s what I always choose. It comes at the cost of low speed though, and many other stats that are minimal at best.

Kaede Honjō makes the same choice. Under the username Maple, she creates a character for a virtual reality game called New World Online and puts all of the points she gets from leveling up directly into defense, neglecting all other areas. It gets to the point that monsters that attack her die from exhaustion because their repeated attacks have an effect that is negligible.

She eventually develops immunity to effects such as poison and obtains ridiculously overpowered items. She becomes OP, which is anime talk for an overpowered character. It kind of reminds me of other anime with overpowered characters, such as One-Punch Man and The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.

This anime is not as good as those two, however. The main problem is the low stakes. Character death results in mild penalties and a quick respawn. Not winning a challenge merely means losing the chance at the prize. At no point is there any suspense, especially since Maple and her friend Sally are consistently successful and lucky.

Maple is universally liked by the other characters, and becomes the face of the game. Even the moderators of the game are afraid to limit her power too much since that will provoke annoyance from her loyal fan base. She experiences very few setbacks, and her constant learning of new skills that make her increasingly powerful kind of gets old.

The characters other than Maple and Sally are poorly developed, and even Maple and Sally are not developed much.

I’ve seen a lot of people compare this anime to Sword Art Online. Sure, this anime involves a virtual reality game as well, but the similarities end there. In SAO, the stakes are high because a misstep in the virtual world can lead to death in the real world. In Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense, Maple becomes OP despite her lack of video game experience. She only thinks to max out her defense so she doesn’t feel any pain. In SAO, the main character Kirito is extremely powerful, but he also has had significant experience with the game.

To be fair, this anime was not meant to be taken seriously. But for shows such as this, comedy and fun should be what is given in return for low stakes. Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense is not amusing enough to make up for its lack of suspense.

Maple basically breaks the game, but it is permitted because of her popularity. She’s bland despite being mildly likeable, and she pretty much always gets what she wants. The ending was nothing special and is exactly what I expected. It was lackluster at best.

I can’t really say I recommend this anime to anyone in particular, except maybe as a show to put on in the background when you are doing something else.

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