Category Archives: Anime

Juuni Taisen – Review & thoughts

After catching up on some series that I wanted to watch, I wanted to try and watch something that I knew absolutely nothing about, so I started smashing that random anime button on a lazy evening, until this one showed up. I got intrigued by the main image for the series, read the title, and then had a look at when it ended (because I didn’t want to start a series where I couldn’t watch all episodes within few days). I didn’t read the summary or anything, and had never heard about it although it aired last season, so I decided this should be the one to watch.

It all starts pretty normally, with a woman showing up to what is presented to be a battle tournament with 12 fighters of the Chinese zodiac, that were either chosen because of their bloodline, their capabilities, or because no one else was fit enough to take their place. Each zodiac represents an organization with power, and they all want to win. Why exactly they are sent to fight each other is not revealed until the end, but we quickly get to know why the individuals themselves fight, even if they don’t want to.

They are all forced to swallow a gem filled with poison that will cause them to die when their stomach fluids corrode the surface. In order to get the antidote, they need to collect all 12 gems, which means they will have to kill the other 11 contestants in order to survive. The winner also gets a wish granted, any wish!

During the first episode, we get to know the woman who entered the tournament, who is Boar, and the daughter of the last winner of Juuni Taisen which took place 12 years ago. During a look into her backstory, we learn that she is eager to please her father with her skills, so when he chose her little sister to enter the tournament instead of her, she decides to drive her sister into suicide to take her place. We also quickly learn, that one warrior has already been eliminated, so the Snake is out of the game before it starts, and his twin brother the Dragon starts off with 2 gems, although he was not the one who killed him.

This concludes the review of the story that starts it all. If you haven’t yet watched it, but want to, then go do so before reading the rest, because I want to write down some thoughts now, and they are filled with spoilers. You have been warned!

So, the first few episodes are a blast, and really beautiful to watch. But then I noticed that the characters die in the same order as the zodiacs themselves, which is also shown in the ED once you know what to look for. This made the show quite predictable in terms as to who is the next one to die (and who will win), but the questions of who would kill them and how were still interesting.

I also liked how Sheep didn’t swallow the gem, but hid it in his beard instead, wanting to use it as leverage to save his own skin, while thinking about how to win by letting the best of the others fight each other. He thinks nothing of Tiger, and deems her to be the weakest fighter, but shortly after, she is the one taking him down, not knowing that she didn’t even have to. His death also leads to the Rat winning in the end, which I saw as the red thread in this series.

A thing that annoyed me was the power Dog had. It would have made more sense for Snake to be poisonous, but since he died before the show began, we wouldn’t have seen Chicken become powerful enough to kill Dog, so yeah… It wouldn’t have played out well, but it still irks me that Dog was poisonous instead of Snake. Also, I wanted to know Rabbit’s backstory, and of course Ox’ wish, that would have been nice. Aaand the animation quality took a dive after the first few episodes, which was a bit sad, as it was so beautiful to begin with.

Before I end this, I just want to mention, that both the opening and ending animations were beyond gorgeous though! I really enjoyed watching them before and after every episode, and didn’t skip them at any time. The music was also very nice, and both opening and ending became stuck in my head pretty quick.

I enjoyed the show, it was a nice surprise 🙂

Puella Magi Madoka Magica – Review

Yeah, another anime review! I actually watched both Death Parade and this one back in January, but because I don’t want to post too much (is that even possible?), I decided to schedule the reviews for them. Me being busy this month is also a reason for that decision, because I can feel more relaxed when knowing my blog is being updated with fresh content. But enough talk; let’s go on with the review.

Madoka is a normal girl going to high school with her best friends. One night, she has a dream about a girl fighting a monster, and all she can do is watch. That same girl starts in her class the next morning, and her name is Homura. Although she seems fairly reserved, it’s obvious that there’s more to her than meets the eye, as she seems to know Madoka already, as well as the school building.

It doesn’t take long until they meet in a different manner, when Himura is hunting a creature named Kyubey, almost killing it. The creature seeks help from Madoka, and kind as she is; she rescues the little thing from Homura, together with another girl named Mami. She’s a so-called magical girl, and explains to Madoka how Kyubey is precious to her, as well as showing her what it’s like to hunt witches, which is what magical girls are contracted to do by Kyubey.

Together with Sayaka, Madoka’s best friend, she explores a world different than her own, and gets drawn into it, although she is not a magical girl herself. It is revealed to them, that to become a magical girl, you need to have a strong wish, and to fulfil that wish, you sign a contract with Kyubey. Sayaka decides that her wish is worth the powers of a magical girl, and becomes the protector of the city. The exact rules of the contract she signed have yet to be discovered by her and the other magical girls though…

While Madoka Magica is different from other magical girl shows, it still has the core features like fighting for the ones you love, evil monsters that can only be defeated by the girls, death and rebirth, and of course friendship. And without dropping any spoilers, I can say that the ending is so darn cliché that it almost hurts.

Still, adding a thing like depression to the mix, and girls who cannot overcome their self-doubt just by being loved is refreshingly new. The scenes with the witches are very creatively done, and so is the story and its twists overall. You just have to deal with some slow episodes in the beginning, until it all starts to unfold.

I will drop some spoilers now, because there is a thing about this series that irks me, so if you want to watch it for yourself, don’t read on. You have been warned. So, the thing is that Homura’s wish is to go back in time to where she first met Madoka, which creates a time loop in the end. When Homura goes back, Madoka is already a magical girl, time and time again, no matter how often she returns. Then how come Madoka is not a magical girl in the timeline we experience in the series? Did Homura become strong enough to break her own wish, and go further back in time than the contract stated she could? Maybe I didn’t pay enough attention to this part of the series, so it really annoys me…

Well anyway, it was a really nice watch, and I do recommend it, if you’re tired of regular magical girl series 🙂

Death Parade – Review

I decided to watch another series that I wanted to catch up with for a while, and decided on Death Parade. Fortunately, it was rather short, because it wasn’t really good. I can’t stamp it as bad either though, but let’s just go on with the review before I get to why.

In Quindecim, two people who died at roughly the same time get to be judged by an arbiter on whether they go to Heaven or Hell. The arbiter we follow is named Decim, and he gets to do a very special job; judge a person who knows she is dead. Usually, those who enter Quindecim know little to nothing about what happened prior to them ending up there, and especially not that they are dead. All they get to know is that they need to play a game to leave Quindecim.

The new girl gets her memories erased, and starts working with Decim as his assistant. Being with someone who is human makes his job a lot harder than it used to be though, as arbiters are not supposed to have feelings, but humans do. The duo goes on to judge their newly dead guests, all the while they both get to know each other and themselves.

Quindecim is only part of a big company of sorts, where other arbiters work on doing the same job as Decim, and they even have their superiors. The business is not as well-oiled as it seems at first though, and problems are bound to emerge from the actions of Nona, the head of the arbiters.

Now, I did like the overall idea and story of Death Parade, which was probably what made me keep watching the show. I liked how the memories of the guests gradually came back to them, and how they were like pieces of a grand puzzle, where we get to know what they were like, and of course how and why they died. I also liked that they still had the will to decide on certain things even after knowing they were dead, and how their actions in Quindecim could lead Decim to change his mind about their judgment.

However, the world it all takes place in is very shallow, and so is the main cast of the show. The opening makes it seem like we get to actually know each and every one of them, but we don’t. In fact, they very rarely meet each other, so it’s hard to feel something for other than our two main characters. Sure, we get to see Nona very often, but she’s just plain unlikeable, so it’s not really a good thing.

Another thing that really bothered me was, that it was mentioned a few times how arbiters are not supposed to have any emotions, and are just dummies doing their job. Each and every arbiter has his or her own personality though, and show almost nothing but emotions, be it boredom, fear, happiness, indifference, anger or whatever. This totally ruins the climax of the show, that clearly wants the viewer to feel something for at least Decim, but it’s so hard, because he was actually the least emotional of them all.

In the end, I didn’t know what to feel myself. I liked the episodes that revolved around humans and their stories, but the rest of the story was just utter crap. I don’t even know if I should recommend this show, but I guess if you have some time to kill, and you don’t mind a series being a bit bland, then you can go for it.