Anime, Shows

It’s No Spoiler: They’re all Dead

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

Angel Beats! Season 1

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Intro

When I first started Angel Beats!, I wasn’t sure if I liked it. After getting a few episodes in, it became one of my favorite anime. I watched it once with my siblings, partway with my ex-boyfriend, and again by myself because it was so good.

Background

This Japanese anime series, released in 2010, was based on the ideas of Jun Maeda and Na-Ga. The studios that produced the anime are P.A. Works and Aniplex.

Summary

High schooler Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up in the afterlife without warning and lacking any memory of his life on Earth. Once there, he finds that the members of the Battlefront are engaged in war against a mysterious individual they call Angel, who has supernatural powers. All members of the Battle Front seek to defy God due to their seemingly unfair lives and/or tragic deaths.

Pros

  • Unusual concept
  • Fascinating characters
  • Well-developed tragic backstories
  • Balance of humor, tension, and tragedy
  • Beautiful animation
  • Attractive intro and outro that change often
  • Phenomenal music throughout
  • Title that has significant meaning revealed near the end

Cons

  • Minimal character development for many characters
  • Felt rushed
  • Repetitive at times
  • Violent and uncomfortable relationship between two characters

Observations

  • An interesting theme to trace is characters’ attitudes toward God

Review

Concept

Battle Front Emblem

The concept is entertaining and held my interest throughout the anime. This is the only anime I’ve ever watched where the characters all start off dead. Nonetheless, the show encourages emotional investment because the characters can be obliterated. This can happen if they obey school rules and try to fit in, if they find peace, or give in.

It is interesting to trace characters’ opinions toward God throughout. There is a wide range of outlooks. Some openly defy God. Others are ambivalent. Still, others believe that He is potentially good and that the afterlife is no punishment. One character believes he is God, and another insists on being called Christ (even though no one is willing to call him that.)

Characters

Angel is a high schooler with supernatural powers such as Hand Sonic, which causes a blade to sprout from her hand. She is believed to be an agent of God’s will and not a dead human like the rest of the characters. Her personality is calm, collected, determined, and generally quiet. She is incredibly powerful, and it typically takes several members of the Battle Front to even slow her down.

Yuri “Yurippe” Nakamura is the fearless leader of the Battle Front. Due to her tragic past, she founded the Battle Front to defy God. Yurippe is defiant, stubborn, and serious, yet has a sense of humor. She is a match for Angel because of her great skill in combat, and she is the character that seems most traumatized by her past.

Yuzuru Otonashi wakes up in the afterlife without any memory of his life on Earth. Initially he is uncertain of who to side with, Angel or the Battle Front. Otonashi does not believe that it is impossible to die in the afterlife because he does not believe he is already dead. As a result, he needs proof. Otonashi is kind, adaptable, and willing to disagree with the crowd. He could probably be considered the main character, even though Angel and Yurippe are extremely important to the storyline.

Hideki Hinata is the co-founder of the Battle Front along with Yurippe. He is one of the strongest members of the Battle Front, but is not afraid to go against the crowd when his beliefs clash with theirs. He quickly develops a close friendship with Otonashi. Hinata gave Angel and Yurippe their nicknames. He is loyal and laidback, but occasionally violent towards Yui.

Yui is a fan of the band Girls Dead Monster. She has an awkward friendship with Hinata that is uncomfortable at times. She is short, easily frightened, energetic, and sometimes annoying. The other characters rarely take her seriously. She is also a skilled vocalist and guitarist herself, although she struggles when she has to do both at the same time. Yui’s tragic past makes her want to make the most of her time in the afterlife.

Backstories

The character backstories for some characters are superbly developed and tragic. Some characters have revealed deaths, while others just have tragedies revealed in their pasts. Many of the characters are not well-developed and have simple yet unique personalities that add to the show even though they are not developed.

Uncomfortable Relationship

The relationship between Yui and Hinata is uncomfortable at best. Don’t think that it’s just Hinata beating up on poor Yui either–they both beat on each other frequently and it’s played for laughs. If it wasn’t meant to be humorous it would be better, but it still would be disturbing to see them fight in a way that is that toxic.

Balance

There is plenty of comedy in Angel Beats! Above, there is a picture of Yurippe creating a distraction by rocketing a team member into the ceiling. While this is happening, dramatic music plays.

There are other sources of humor, such as when the characters consider what would happen is they were obliterated (disappear from the afterlife). They guess at various forms of sea-life they could be reincarnated as.

There is also a lot of sad moments, some of which made me tear up. The backstories of many characters are terrible and tragic too.

Furthermore, there are several tense missions that require a lot of sacrifice and pain.

Animation

The animation is beautiful, particularly the shots that involve light or the sky. It is one of the most attractive styles of animations that I have seen.

Intro & Outro

The intro is attractive and changes with every episode. I love when that happens because it takes extra effort and keeps people engaged during the opening. The piano playing of Angel in the intro is beautiful, and the song is fitting–called My Soul, Your Beats! The outro is softer and sadder, using a song called Brave Song.

At the end of the outro there is a preview that is basically snippets of conversations. It is very intriguing and always makes me look forward to the next episode.

Music

The music is phenomenal, whether its the intros and outros or the performances by the band Girls Dead Monster throughout the episodes.

Length

This anime would have been so much better if the creators had gone with the original plan of 26 episodes rather than cutting it down to 13. So many other characters could have been explored. Even though the show felt rushed, it was still amazing enough for me to watch it several times.

Repetitiveness

The Battlefront has a tendency to use the same battle plan multiple times upon finding it effective; for instance, Operation Tornado. Furthermore, once they find one way to solve a problem, they will often use the same solution over and over during the same episode.

Title

The title has a special meaning that will only be revealed to you if you watch the entire season. It is well worth it!

Conclusion

I would recommend this anime for ages 13 and up.

I think it is worthing noting that as a Christian, I still enjoyed this show and found it worthwhile and touching even though the characters were trying to defy God. The overall message was very positive and heartwarming, so I recommend it for Christians, those of other religions, and nonreligious people alike.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

Shows

Sherlock Season 4 Does Not Measure Up

Spoiler-Free Show Review:

Sherlock Season 4

Rating: 7 out of 10 stars

Intro

Having enjoyed the first three seasons of Sherlock, I expected the last season to impress, but I ended up being disappointed. It was actually still somewhat enjoyable, but nowhere as phenomenal as the earlier seasons.

Warning! Even though there are no spoilers for Season 4 in this article, there are minor spoilers from previous seasons.

Background

Sherlock Season 4 aired in 2017 and was produced by BBC and Hartswood films. It is based off of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books, but instead of being placed in Victorian England, the show is set in modern-day London.

The show stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Rupert Graves, Una Stubbs, Mark Gatiss, Louise Brealey, Andrew Scott, and Amanda Abbington.

In addition to being nominated for various awards, Sherlock won in three categories in the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Pros

  • Phenomenal acting
  • Immersive setting highly relevant to a modern-day audience
  • Benefit of the familiar character of Sherlock with a new spin
  • Strong character development
  • A fascinating villain at the end of the season
  • Intelligent, occasionally comical, script
  • Catchy theme song and music

Cons

  • A lackluster first villain of the season
  • Sherlock’s ability to predict the future stretches believability
  • Unnecessarily confusing, especially in the last episode
  • Yet more predictable in the first episode

Observations

  • You could probably stop watching at Season 3 if you wanted a better ending for the series

Review

Acting

The acting, especially by Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, was incredible. They each played their parts well.

All of the fantastic and obnoxious qualities of Sherlock were brought out and emphasized. The way that the actors for Sherlock, Watson and Mary interact shows great chemistry and skill.

Setting

Sherlock Holmes - Wikiwand
Sherlock and Watson’s flat

The setting in Season 4 is the same as Seasons 1-3, unsurprisingly: modern-day London. The presence of modern conveniences such as security cameras and phones remains a way for this new Sherlock to test his intellect. John Watson records their adventures through a blog, another modern touch. This transition from the Victorian London of the books to modern-day London is seamless.

Characters

Sherlock is a highly intelligent man who lacks empathy. He is nevertheless shown on several occasions to have at least some degree of care depending on who the person is. He is always blunt, but occasionally shows remorse for his words when they have caused damage.

Watson is of higher-than-average intelligence, but he cannot compete with Sherlock. Watson, however, has a deep sense of empathy and values human life while wanting to negate human suffering. He has a high tolerance for Sherlock, but even he loses his temper sometimes at Sherlock’s careless comments ill-timed deductions, and drug habit.

This season introduces more tension between Watson and Sherlock when Sherlock makes a critical error.

The first villain is creepy at least, but he lacks the style and creativeness of villains such as Moriarty. The second villain is fascinating and more intelligent than Sherlock and Mycroft. She once cut open her skin because she wanted to see how her muscles worked. Unfortunately, I cannot provide a picture of either of them without spoiling the series.

Script

The script of Season 4 is actually pretty good. There are several quotable moments. For example, an unexpected reflection on suicide by Sherlock.

“Taking your own life. Interesting expression– taking it from who? Once it’s over, it’s not you who’ll miss it. Your own death is something that happens to everybody else. Your life is not your own. Keep your hands off it.”

There is also a decent amount of humor in the fourth season.

Watson: “I need a second opinion.”

Sherlock: “Oh, please, John. Since when have you ever managed TWO opinions. You’d fall over.”

There is even some genuine sincerity on the part of Sherlock:

Mycroft: “Dr. Watson? Could you please leave?”

Sherlock: “John stays.”

Mycroft: “This is about family.”

Sherlock: “THAT’S why he stays!”

Music

The theme music is catchy as always, and the music throughout the episodes is fitting and develops the mood.

Believability

Sherlock’s skills were always unbelievably amazing, but now he adds telling the future to his repertoire of skills. He predicts the exact location and time of events without a strong explanation as to how he managed to do so. Making Sherlock near-omniscient was not a good choice.

Predictability

The level of predictability for the first episode is higher than the rest of the episodes. Sherlock’s mistake is unsurprising, as well as the results.

Confusion

All the confusion in the series stems from one villain. Somehow the creators made her whole storyline extremely convoluted. I found myself wondering, what the heck just happened? The villain was impressive, but the events surrounding her created too much confusion.

Conclusion

Even though I found this season somewhat enjoyable, I think that you may be better off stopping at Season 3. That’s what my siblings ended up doing and I don’t blame them.

I recommend this season for audiences ages 13+.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

Related Articles

Anime, Shows

MHA’s Season 2 Super-Powered School Schedule

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

My Hero Academia Season 2

Rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars

Intro

My Hero Academia (also known as MHA) is my favorite anime. I watched Season 2 for the second time with my dad, and I had a great time–despite the fact that my sister had me doing jumping jacks during all the intro and outros.

(I made her my coach during winter break, which was both the best and worst idea ever.)

Warning! Although this review has no spoilers for Season 2, it does have spoilers for Season 1.

Background

My Hero Academia Season 2 was released in 2017. It was produced by the studio Bones and directed by Kenji Nagasaki. The plot is based on the graphic novels by  Kōhei Horikoshi.

You can watch My Hero Academia on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.

Summary

UA high school students participate in a sports festival, internships, and final exams.

Pros

  • Likeable characters with diverse personalities
  • Get to see a bit more of Class 1-B and the General Studies, Support, and Business classes
  • Intimidating villains
  • Creative quirks
  • Fantastic dialogue
  • Balanced plot with light-heartedness and darker aspects
  • The UA Sports Festival Arc is the best arc in all of Season 1 and 2
  • For once, the UA girls get a chance to shine
  • Actual consequences for poor decisions
  • Catchy music
  • Attractive outros and intros
  • Original art style

Cons

  • Mineta being his usual pervy self, sexual harassment basically treated as a joke
  • Mei Hatsume has a habit of getting uncomfortably close to people and being super touchy, an instance of probably unintentional harassment of the male characters

Observations

  • Maybe Midoriya was not quirkless–maybe his quirk was superpowered crying
  • Midoriya uses the most boring visualizations to try to control his power
  • And yet he’s still breaking fingers…

Review

Characters

Season 1 had so many great characters, and Season 2 not only developed them further, it added a host of new characters to enjoy. I especially appreciated that I got to see a bit more of Class 1-B and the General Studios, Support, and Business classes.

Hitoshi Shinso is a student of the General Studies department. He has a quirk that would be perfect for a villain, but that he wants to use to become a hero. However, he failed the entrance exam for the hero course because his quirk does not work against robots, even though it is highly effective against people. Shinso is an underdog character I couldn’t help rooting for even though he was pitted against Midoriya.

Mei Hatsume is assertive, stubborn, and incredibly intelligent. She is a student of UA’s Support Class, and her calls her inventions her “super cute babies.” Her quirk is that she can zoom her eyesight to be able to see things far away. Her main focus in the UA Sports Festival is advertising her inventions for pro heroes and investors to see.

Itsuka Kendo is the class rep of Class 1-B and is part of the hero course. Her quirk is Big Fist, her ability to make her hands larger, which allows her to be better able to block and attack. She keeps Class 1-B in line and is on good terms with Class 1-A.

Neito Monoma is an obsessive, rude, and stubborn student from Class 1-B. He takes his rivalry with Class 1-A really seriously, frequently mocking them. It’s a running joke that Kendo repeatedly knocks him out when he tries to pick fights with Class 1-A. He is particularly effective against Bakugo and has proven that he can stay cool in intense situations.

Gran Torino is another person worth mentioning, but I cannot go into the details of his character without spoiling him. It’s enough to say that he was a mentor to All-Might.

The main villain of Season 2 is an effective, terrifying foe.

Hero Killer Stain is a villain with actual ideals, disgusted by heroes who lack the pure intentions and true spirit of heroism. He kills those who fail to meet his frankly way-too-high standards.

Dialogue

My Hero Academia Season 2 has plenty of quotable moments. This one is from Midoriya, and sums up what being a hero is all about.

Meddling when you don’t need to is the essence of being a hero.”

There is also plenty of Midoriya being a funny awkward teenager.

I can’t believe I talked to a girl on the phone. It was like she was whispering in my ear!”

And who could forget All-Might’s ring tone?

A phone call…is here!”

Plot

Season 2 starts with the UA Sports Festival, which in my opinion is the best arc of Seasons 1 and 2. Why? Several reasons.

First, we get Todoroki’s backstory. If there were awards for the best backstory, it would have to go to him.

Second, Ochaco gets to take part in an amazing battle. Finally, a girl gets her chance to shine!

Third, Bakugo meets his match more than once. It’s satisfying to see him humbled somewhat by the impressive skill of his opponents.

Fourth, Midoriya makes a decision that leads to permanent consequences. That’s nice to see, especially since until that point, he experienced no lasting ill effects from using his immense power.

Right after the festival arc, there is a really fun episode when students choose their hero names and it is revealed how Eraser Head got his name.

The next arc involves the student internships. It’s nice to see most of the characters exhibit some growth through their experiences. As may be expected from My Hero Academia, this arc tends to be more on the dark side, but is neatly balanced with humor.

The final arc focuses on final exams, which include both studying for pencil-and-paper tests and practical exams. Momo gets a chance to show what she’s made of in the finals.

Music

Unlike the first season, Season 2 uses four theme songs, all of which I have enjoyed thoroughly. Click on the links if you want to listen for yourself. The music is upbeat, gets stuck in one’s head, and fits the intros and outros perfectly.

  1. Peace Sign by Kenshi Yonezu
  2. Dakara, Hitori ja nai by Little Glee Monster
  3. Sora ni Utaeba by amazarashi
  4. Datte Atashi no Hero by LiSA

If you ever need music to exercise to, My Hero Academia‘s playlist would be a phenomenal choice. I still exercise to this music.

Intros and Outros

The first intro for this season is mostly just the characters stretching. I love it though, because it gives some insight into the training the young heroes have to put themselves through on a daily basis.

The first outro highlights scenes with the girls of My Hero Academia, which is long overdue since the show tends to underrepresent the achievements of the female characters. My favorite part is finding Toru Hagakure, The Invisible Girl, in all of the scenes. It also emphasizes how the school is a positive environment where most of the students have become close friends.

The second intro is attractive with color themes and glimpses into character memories and foreshadows future events. Overall, it does not disappoint.

The second outro is My Hero Academia reimagined into the Fantasy genre. It’s clever, funny, and beautiful. It’s my favorite of all the outros I have seen in the four seasons of My Hero Academia I have watched so far.

Style

All Might Highlights Boku no Hero Academia My Hero Academia

According to IMDb, the animation was done by Studio Bones, which also did the style of Fullmetal Alchemist, another of my favorite anime.

The style is different from Fullmetal Alchemist because it uses bold, bright colors and deep shadows for contrast. The pupils of characters are much smaller than in most anime.

Perverted Aspects

Yep, Mineta is a perverted little freak as usual. He happens to be quite smart and score high on one of the exams, which prompts another character to say that perverts like him are only likeable if they are dumb.

I disagree…I would despise him just as much if he were dumb.

The fact that the girls sometimes fall for his tricks makes it even worse. In Season 2, Mineta fools all the girls of Class 1-A into wearing cheerleading suits.

Hatsume, on the other hand, is so touchy it’s almost as uncomfortable as the scenes with Mineta. At the very least she’s seems unaware she is being that way, which makes her somewhat better than Mineta.

Observations

From the beginning of My Hero Academia, Midoriya has been known to cry a lot. Now personally, I do not think that is a bad thing. And it doesn’t mean he is weak. Anyone who can break their bones repeatedly and keep fighting is not weak.

Seeing how impressively he cries in Season 2, I can’t help but wonder if he had a quirk before One-for-All–super-powered tears. Anyone who can spout such volumes of water from their eyes is pretty special.

Midoriya’s visualizations of microwaves are a recurring thing in Season 2. I cannot imagine a more boring metaphor.

And if you were hoping poor Midoriya would be done breaking fingers by the beginning of Season 2, you’re out of luck. Ew….

Conclusion

I fully recommend My Hero Academia, especially for anime fans. It would best fit an audience of ages 13 and up due to violence, serious injuries, and a perverted character.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links

Anime, Shows

A Rom-Com About the Trials of a Manga Writer

Spoiler-Free Anime Review:

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun Season 1 and Bonus Footage

Rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Intro

I was first introduced to this show when I accidentally came downstairs in the middle of an episode my sisters were watching. I was intrigued by what I saw. When they later asked if I wanted to give it a try, I was all for it. I enjoyed the anime so much that I ended up re-watching it with a college friend too.

Background

Also known as Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun, this anime series is based on a manga series written and illustrated by Izumi Tsubaki.

Season 1 was released in 2014. There is no complete Season 2, but there is bonus content that amounts to about the length of one episode.

Monthly Girls’ Nozaki Kun is available to watch on Netflix and CrunchyRoll.

Summary

A high school student named Chiyo Sakura confesses her love to her schoolmate Umetaro Nozaki, but he mistakes her for one of his fans and she ends up with his autograph. Chiyo finds out Nozaki writes girls’ romance manga and becomes one of his assistants.

Pros

  • Well-developed thematic intro
  • Great music
  • Creative characters
  • Range of characters’ expressions entertaining
  • Changing backgrounds to convey mood
  • Beautiful animation with great attention to detail
  • Humorous dialogue
  • Pokes fun at rom-coms in general and shoujo manga in particular
  • Hilariously awkward relationships
  • Fitting ending

Cons

  • Uncomfortably violent relationship between two characters
  • Repetitive themes that can get a little annoying

Review

Intro

The intro is one of my favorites. Like in the picture shown above, it shows the characters transposed against comic-style panels. This is perfect because it is an anime about writing manga, to some extent.

The part where all the characters are beating up on the Tanuki doll is funny too considering how their dislike of Tanuki comes up in the story.

Music

I love all the music of Monthly Girls’ Nozaki Kun. It’s quirky, just like the show. Music adds to the humor throughout the show. My favorite song definitely is the one in the intro though.

Characters

Umetaro Nozaki is a teenager who is oblivious to love in his everyday life but is able to write characters who are in love with precision and skill. He thinks Chiyo just wants to help him with his manga, and even though that’s true to an extent, he is incapable of recognizing Chiyo’s love for him.

Chiyo Sakura has a major crush on Nozaki, and I mean major. She is sweet, helpful, and persistent. The flirt Mikoshiba doesn’t bother being flirtatious with her, probably because they become good friends and she sees right through him.

Mikoshiba Mikoto is basically the handsome flirt of the show, but he is quirky too. After saying something flirtatious, he becomes extremely embarrassed. He frequently tries to get his friends to help him out of unfortunate situations his flirting gets him into, and is surprisingly socially inept.

Yu Kashima is nicknamed “The Prince” because of her princely behavior around guys. She is more popular than Mikoshiba even. I think that her crush on Hori is unfortunate because of the brutal way he treats her though.

There are plenty of other colorful characters, but you’ll have to watch the show to get to know them!

Mood

Backgrounds show how characters are feeling and exaggerate that emotion.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Chiyo-expression-2-1024x423.png

Character expressions are an added element, and they have a wide range of them.

Animation

The animation is beautiful and well-executed. No complaints here.

The level of detail is astonishing. The fact that they went to the trouble of making a bin of pens look like an actual artist used them is phenomenal. The different types of pens with the sizes and everything is so amazing. It looks kind of like the box of pens I use with my Copic markers.

Humor

Dialogue is one way that humor comes across in Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-Kun. Here are two lines, both from Nozaki himself, that show what you can expect from the show.

Critics have called me the spokesman for girls everywhere.”

You couldn’t have a character more oblivious to the feelings of girls around him, and yet critics laud his ability to understand girls.

In another instance, when Nozaki is questioned about what he and his friends do, he tries to hide the fact they are working on girls’ manga by saying:

We like to meet at my apartment for unspecified activities.”

All the people you can ship in this anime have the most awkward relationships possible. I mean, look at this:

I don’t even have to explain who these characters are–you can tell that they are shippable in the most awkward way possible.

Nozaki holding the umbrella for Chiyo is the worst. I mean, poor girl. But reverse their roles and it’s not much better:

This is also a way that the anime pokes fun at romances. Walking home together under one umbrella is such a cheesy, cliché thing. By making it not work at all, they maximize the humor in a satirical way.

The also makes fun of how in shoujo manga alcohol has to be replaced by juice and cigarettes have to be replaced with lollipops.

Ending

The ending may not be satisfying to many, but I would say it fits the theme of the show well.

Problematic Relationship

I don’t like the relationship between Kashima and Hori because he beats her up and it is meant to be comedic but it’s really just…uncomfortable.

Repetitiveness

Chiyo’s continued hopes that Nozaki understands her love for her are continually squashed by Nozaki’s oblivious. Does it get old? Well, kind of…but there is so much more to the show and it’s really humorous anyway.

Bonus Footage

The Bonus Footage is not as good as the episodes of Season 1, but they were still worth watching. There are hilarious parts to them as well.

Conclusion

If you like lighthearted rom-coms, I would recommend this anime.

It is rated PG and I think that’s a fair rating. There is nothing in this anime I would be worried about children seeing.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

Links