Magic-kyun! Renaissance – Episode 13 [Magic-Kyun For You!] [Final Impression]

Teika’s big idea is to have everyone talk to Kohana overnight, in the hope that their voices will reach her subconscious. One by one, they enter her hospital room alone and say something true to their character. Rintaro, for example, talks about how much he loves her smile and even makes a confession of his feelings for her! Kanato thanks her for looking after him, something which apparently no one has ever done for him, and he also encourages her to smile. Louis says he doesn’t want to dance if Kohana can’t dance with him, and thanks her for helping him to realize his feelings for dancing, namely that he loves it with all his heart and wants to continue practicing it. Monet, the whiny little brat, berates Kohana for leaving him to deal with life on his own and tries to bribe her to wake up by telling her he’ll (gasp!) eat raw carrots for her. Aoi keeps his words short but simple, thanking her for helping him to return to the world of light.

Naturally Teika is last, and he thanks Kohana for “saving him” and bringing light to his world. No one had ever told him they loved his singing, just that he was really good at it, and Kohana’s proclamation of “I love your singing!” has stuck with him. Teika asks her how they should help her wake up, and out of desperation he starts to sing, which provokes a very small reaction in Kohana.

This gives Teika an idea: they will hold an art session for Kohana right in her hospital room. Everyone performs their magical art, and their sparkles blend together beautifully. Inside Kohana’s subconscious the guys manifest with swords, and they start to slash away the thorny vines holding her mind captive. Their singing causes light to break through the clouds in Kohana’s mind, and she can see their sparkles raining down on her. As they sing to her about how important she is as a person, and that she must be true to herself, Kohana has the realization that even if she can’t arrange flowers like her mom or even use her magical arts at all, she’s still herself.

With that epiphany, Kohana’s subconscious is instantly transformed into a land of flowers with butterflies everywhere. Two hands shove her forward and Kohana sprouts a large pair of glittery wings of her own. The hands are revealed to belong to Kohana’s mother Sakura, and the two share a few brief moments together before Kohana flies up above the Earth where the guys are waiting for her.

Back at school in the real world, the Scala Artista are reborn not from glass but from what look like sakura (cherry blossom) trees. Petals rain down yet again over the school’s campus, and everyone watching knows that things are alright again.

Now that Kohana is “cured”, the event committee goes ahead with their Halloween party as planned and it’s a huge success. Everyone on the committee has dressed up, and their costumes are pretty neat. Everyone on the event committee is helping out, and Kohana helps comfort a lost child at one point with a small bouquet of flowers. We see that her sparkles have transformed from snowflakes into butterflies and she’s able to use her magical art without punishment again.

As the festival passes by quickly, each of the guys talks about how important it is to enjoy the present moment with each other because soon some of them will be graduating, and next year the committee will have some different members. After the parade the committee gathers to put on their play about “Sleeping Beauty”, and it’s a big hit of course. Teika even kisses Kohana (as part of the play, haha)!

Later in the evening after the festivities are over, the committee regroups back at their headquarters where the discussion turns to talk of hosting a Christmas party! Wow they sure don’t waste any time eh??

Final Impression

Story: I was pretty impressed with the pacing, as the story progressed much more quickly than I thought it would and extra events were included in the final few episodes that I didn’t think would make the cut. Each bishounen typically got their own episode, but together they only took up half the season and the rest of the episodes were devoted to putting on the Hoshi Festival and then Kohana’s personal struggles. The twist with Kohana’s illness at the end was appreciated, even if it never posed a serious threat and was resolved in the span of an episode.

In a nutshell, Magic-kyun! Renaissance promises to be a light-hearted reverse harem, and that’s what it delivers so I really can’t complain too much.

Characters: I think the cast is my favourite thing about this title. It follows the standard formula of each bishounen being a different personality, and they’re all so wildly different from each other that they’re each entertaining in their own way. I feel like certain characters had deeper backstories than others, but everyone’s past was covered. Juri was also a fantastic character and had her own strengths, though we didn’t get to see any of her backstory.

That being said, because this is a reverse harem there usually isn’t too much character growth outside of the main two or three characters. Kohana doesn’t change much outside of the final episode, but Teika experienced a lot of personal growth and Monet comes to mind as well.

I do appreciate that the Kohana x Teika pairing never really took root, although I feel like there was definitely some set-up for that couple. I guess Hundred spoiled me and now I keep expecting the main character to actually pick a romantic partner, even though I’ve been told it usually doesn’t happen. *shrug* Either way, Teika gets to give Kohana a quick kiss but we don’t see her reaction. If there’s a season 2, maybe their relationship will progress some more?

Music & Animation: FANTASTIC! Musical animes are starting to grow on me I think; after Dance With Devils, Magic-kyun! Renaissance is the second musical anime I have covered. I enjoyed all of the songs, and I thought it was neat that the seiyuus for all the guys perform both the opening and ending themes together under the group name ArtiSTARs.

And the animation? THIS ladies and gentlemen, is how you blend together 2D and 3D animation. The “sparkles” are beautiful and don’t take away from the 2D animation at all. Magic-kyun! Renaissance is beautiful and I loved every minute of it.

Overall thoughts: I’ve been with AAB for one year now, and this show easily makes my top 3 list of favourite shows. While sometimes I found myself wishing for some “real” conflict or danger, the reality is that most reverse harems are not like that and so it’s somewhat unfair to expect something from a show that says it’s full of fun and romance. Which is exactly what we get, by the way. The characters are unique, there’s romance and hot guys, and oh did I mention that the music and animation are kick-ass?? I definitely recommend giving this show a watch, especially if you’re a fan of musical anime!

Final Score: 10/10

Bernard-Jou Iwaku – Episode 12 [Final Impression]

At last, the final episode. This one was rather adorable and made me appreciate Shiori and Sawako’s friendship even more.

Shiori is on the shinkansen (“bullet train”) traveling to see some relatives. She’s brought along a book she’s been wanting to read, but a call from Sawako derails her plans. Sawako tells Shiori that she watched the sci-fi movie directed by Christopher Nolan which Shiori had recommended, and that’s all Shiori needs as she starts to gush about the Dylan Thomas poem included in the movie. The movie’s title is not specifically mentioned, but if you google Christopher Nolan’s name along with the poem’s author, it appears that the movie the girls are referring to might be Interstellar. Anyways, the poem is as follows:

Do not go gentle into that good night
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Shiori also makes connections between the movie and the book The Grapes of Wrath.

Sawako’s pretty easy to please; she says she only likes the poem because the “rage, rage” line reminded her of all the times that Shiori’s gotten mad at her.

Shiori is caught off-guard. Does she really get mad all that much? The call gets dropped, and Shiori heads back to her seat stunned. She tries to continue reading her novel, which is revealed to be the young adult dystopian novel Matched by the American author Ally Condie. Shiori considers recommending the book to Sawako because the Dylan Thomas poem is included in it, but while she’s deliberating whether she should, Shiori gets a text message from Sawako. It’s the cutest thing ever – smiling tangerines! Shiori’s pleasantly surprised and she can’t help but giggle out loud just a little.

Shiori decides to recommend Matched to Sawako after all, making sure to mention that the Dylan Thomas poem she likes is also in the book as well.

As the credits roll, we see all of the characters reading their respective books. Later on Sawako tells Shiori that she hasn’t read Matched yet, just that she feels like she has. Shiori, predictably, gets annoyed and tells Sawako to just read it already.

Final Impression

Because this is a short, the series doesn’t have much of a plot. Each episode is rather standalone, though in the last few episodes there are references and flashbacks to events which happened earlier in the season. Rather it feels like this title operates on a series of “themes”, like Sawako not liking to actually read and Shiori getting mad at her for it.

Characters: This series has only four characters, which for me helped keep the storylines focused and to the point. That being said, Sawako’s voice got a little irritating sometimes when she and Shiori would bicker back and forth, and she could be difficult to listen to even in these short episodes.

It’s a little unfortunate that even with the small cast the Sumika-having-a-crush-on-Endou subplot didn’t get more attention. The two were definitely secondary characters next to Sawako and Shiori, which is understandable I guess because this is a short, but Sumika’s crush on Endou was cute and I was hoping it would get some kind of resolution.

I think my biggest bone to pick is that only Sawako and Shiori show any character growth, and even then they don’t change much. Sumika and Endou are definitely static characters, while Shiori and Sawako’s constant bickering got old sometimes.

That being said, the friendship which develops between Shiori and Sawako was perhaps my favourite thing about the series, aside from the tidbits about the books and authors featured within the show.

Music and Animation: The animation’s cute, no complaints from me. The music was alright, though again because this is a short there isn’t much of it. The ending theme is cute and catchy, so I can’t ask for much more than that. Nothing really stands out as being exceptional, but neither the music nor the animation are terrible or lacking in any way.

Overall Thoughts: This is a cute series about characters who really love to read. I loved the focus on the different books and authors each episode, and screencapped each one to save for later reference for myself. Most of the authors I was unfamiliar with, but it was always neat to see one I recognised, such as the novels 1Q84 or Matched. If you’re curious about learning more about Japanese literature, or even just literature in general, then this might be worth watching.

Final Score: 7.5/10

Bernard-Jou Iwaku – Episode 1 [Miss Bernard Said] [First Impression]

Sawako Machida, aka “Miss Bernard”, likes to call herself an avid reader. However as her friend Endou-kun points out, someone who complains about the work it takes to actually read a book cannot call themselves an avid reader.

Sawako likes the concept of books more than she actually likes to read. She enjoys the feel of paper and the smell of the ink, and she muses about her bookwormish appearance when she’s reading – all of these are more important to her than reading the book itself.

Another girl in the library also notices these idiosyncrasies, and they piss her off. Her name is Shiori Kanbayashi, and today’s the day she decides to confront vlcsnap-00002Sawako. However she gets caught up in telling Sawako and Endou about the differences between different book revisions, and the episode devolves into a long monologue about book editions and translations.

At the end of the episode, Shiori is embarrassed at having gotten so off-track when she was supposed to be berating Sawako. Sawako asks Shiori if she actually reads these books whose covers and titles she adores, resulting in Shiori gettomg pissed and decking Sawako in the face. Pot calling the kettle black, no?

Miss Bernard Said is a cute short, I’ll give it that. And I really like the bits of trivia that are shown when the characters are discussing an important book. Most importantly I feel like I can relate to both Sawako and Shiori in terms of being a dedicated bibliophile (a person who collects or who has a great love of books).

The music’s relatively engaging, and I don’t have an issue with the style of animation. However Sawako’s voice is slightly irritating, and I’m not sure if the comedic value will be enough to fuel my interest in this show. I’ll give it three episodes for sure. It’s not often I see aspects of myself reflected in an anime character, and I feel like this short has the potential to be a really neat gag series. I’m definitely interested to see which famous literary works will be discussed by these characters, too.

P.S – anyone else enjoy the nod to Neon Genesis Evangelion?

Possibility of Watching: Moderate
Possibility of Blogging: Moderate

Magic-kyun! Renaissance – Episode 1 [Brilliantly Blooming Renaissance] [First Impressions]

Nikolita’s First Impression

A romantic reverse harem set in a world where the arts become magic? Oh god, this is going to be my guilty pleasure of the season, I can tell already. *squee*

Our protagonist is Kohana Aigasaki, the daughter of artista prodigy Sakura Aigasaki, who is famous around the Hoshinomori School of Magical Arts but passed away when Kohana was a child. Kohana has worked very hard to be accepted into Hoshinomori, but she’s hiding a secret: while she’s worked hard to succeed in her mother’s chosen art, flower-arranging (ikebana), she cannot yet produce her own sparkles.

As Kohana arrives on campus, through her exploration we are introduced to each of the six bishounen who will be her love interests throughout the series. vlcsnap-00018There’s a red-haired young man who plays the cello beautifully, and a silver-haired guy who dresses and paints in monochrome and has a pet hedgehog.

Elsewhere on campus Kohana sees an orange-haired guy sculpting a cheetah and has sparkles which smell like vanilla. Around the corner she sees a ladies man named Angelo who shows off his dancing skills for his adoring fangirls, and whose sparkles manifest as wings on his back. Last but not least she comes across Aoi Suminomiya as he demonstrates his calligraphy artista for passing students.

Last but certainly not least is Ichijoji Teika, a gifted singer who is also the school’s unofficial “king.” It’s rumored that he can sing any song after hearing it only once. He’s obviously talented but comes off as very cold and aloof, naturally. Gotta have that romantic tension.

We also get introduced to Kohana’s new roommate, Juri Chikamatsu, and this girl is fantastic. She’s outgoing and friendly, and I have a feeling she’ll be my favourite character.

After meeting all the characters, the rest of the episode is split into two main scenes. In the first, Kohana tries to make sparkles while practicing her ikebana and fails, until she bumps into Ichijoji again. After he tries to motivate her with some strong words, she gives him a small bouquet of flowers. Both of them touching the flowers at once causes sparkles to emerge from the flowers, and Kohana is over the moon with her achievement.

vlcsnap-00040The second scene takes place in a classroom the next day. It’s revealed that Kohana is Sakura Aigasaki’s daughter, and for some reason this angers Ichijoji. He proclaims that Kohana is now his enemy, but the poor girl doesn’t understand why. After the credits Ichijoji talks on the phone to his brother, who tells him that he must become the Artista Prince.

All in all I adored this first episode and I’m super excited for next week. I love all the music themes and the animation is AMAZING – the CG sparkles blend perfectly with the 2D animation, and omg it’s just so gorgeous! *0*

A common side effect of reverse harems is that they are somewhat predictable, and Magic-kyun! Renaissance looks to be no exception. Based on the opening sequence and how the first episode went, I can take a wild guess as to who the main ship is going to be, but I’d love it if a twist proves me wrong. I basically expect this show to be like Dance With Devils, except with actual romance. I have high expectations so I hope I don’t get let down!

Side note: If you’re thinking of playing a drinking game for this first episode where you take a shot every time Kohana says “kira kira” (sparkles), don’t. You’ll give yourself alcohol poisoning. Maybe refrain from playing said drinking game throughout the whole series, just in case.

Possibility of Watching: Oh hell yes
Possibility of Blogging: Guaranteed

Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin – Episode 13 [In a Twilight Empire] [Final Impression]

Ikta has one last chance to defend against the Aldera army, and he comes up with a genius-yet-also-slightly-desperate plan. However it will only be him, Nanaku and Yatori participating, with Haroma and some of her platoon accompanying them as their medics; Matthew is to remain behind and guard the camp for two more days, retreating only if necessary.

Night falls, and Ikta’s troops have laid their trap in a section of narrow path, the same one the enemy is using. There is no way around the trap, forcing Jean and the Aldera army soldiers to take their chances. Jean decides to proceed despite smelling oil on the straw, but it’s in this flaw of thinking that Ikta succeeds in vlcsnap-00007deploying his trap. Once Jean’s men are in far enough, the smell of oil lessens and Jean realizes his mistake. At that moment Ikta and his troops burst out from under the straw with their light spirits on full and attack in full force.

A battle ensues between the two sides, with Yatori’s platoon coming from the rear to join the fighting in order to ensure that Jean’s platoon can’t flee. After several minutes one of the soldiers from Ikta’s troop raises a flag signaling they’re opening to negotiating, but Jean doesn’t immediately call for a ceasefire. Not long after, Ikta loses his sword when an enemy soldier knocks it from his grip, and he is a split second away from losing his life when Jean finally gives the order to cease combat.

Jean probably ends up wishing Ikta had been killed however, because Ikta’s blunt in his terms of negotiating. Ikta absolutely will not surrender, and instead wants the Aldera army to withdraw to back behind the forest, which will give the Katjvarna army enough time to finish their retreat. Jean refuses, convinced that his men will kill Ikta’s if they’re forced to continue fighting.

Ikta slyly points out that Jean only thinks that his platoon will be the winners if Jean himself lives, and he makes his point by having his light sprite Kus shine a strong beam at Jean’s heart. Ikta says that he has his best shooter, one from the Remeon family (Torway), is hiding and ready to shoot Jean as soon as the negotiating flag is dropped. Jean knows Ikta is most likely bluffing but part of him feels that he can’t ignore the 10% chance that Ikta is not bluffing. Jean gives the order for his men to retreat, and we see that Ikta was indeed bluffing all along.

As Jean’s men retreat behind a fire barrier, Jean asks Ikta why he’s fighting to protect the Katyvarna Empire. After all, Jean believes in Kioka’s beliefs and ideals and is fighting to make them real, and he assumes that Ikta would be doing the same for Katyvarna. Ikta however bluntly states that he’s not fighting to protect his country but the people within them. Ikta says that heroes like Jean will eventually be used up and thrown away as soon as they are no longer useful. Ikta leaves a furious Jean with some parting words: “All heroes die of overwork.”

Back at the safe location where Princess Chamille had retreated to earlier in the season, Ikta’s platoon arrives at last. Princess Chamille is relieved that Torway and the others have arrived safely, and she is so excited to see Ikta that she knocks him over with a hug. He gently points out to her that she needs to speak to the other soldiers too, because they made just as mvlcsnap-00023any sacrifices and fought just as hard. Embarrassed over her mistake, Princess Chamille speaks to all the troops and thanks them for their efforts, promising that they will be rewarded.

One month later a trial is held where Lt. General Safida is accused of oppressing the Sinnack, which cost soliders their lives, and that attack invited an enemy invasion from the Aldera army. As a result he’s found to be the highest class of war criminal, resulting in a demotion, the stripping of all his military decorations… and executed. Justice at last for all the Sinnack who died.

Later that night, Princess Chamille summons Ikta to the throne room. She asks him point blank what he thinks of the Katyvarna Empire and Ikta tells her his brutally honest opinion, which Princess Chamille agrees with. She makes a request for Ikta to rise to the top of the Katyvarna military, and when Ikta asks why, Princess Chamille says she wants him to lose a war. She feels that losing to Kioka at the right time will invite in Kioka’s culture, economics and philosophies, and that the pressures from these outside influences could be used to force the Katyvarna Empire to change from the inside out.

However after the credits, there’s a short scene where Ikta tells Yatori that his father was a hero who also died from overwork. He tried to do everything that was asked of him, and lost his life in the process. Ikta’s inner monologue reveals that he doesn’t agree with Princess Chamille’s plan, and that if he were to try to follow it he’d run into conflict from others who support him. He tells Yatori that he won’t allow her to be caught up in the collapse of the country, should it choose to fall, and reminds her that he came to take her from her homeland for a reason. Yatori reassures him that she’ll never forget.

My thoughts: Fantastic final episode! I was hoping we’d get a little more revelation about the relationship between Yatori and Ikta, but the final quarter of the episode made up for that deficiency. I’m glad that the scene with Ikta and Princess Chamille made it into the final episode, for it was definitely worth the wait. I didn’t see a twist like that coming!

I’m also Lt. General Safida got what was coming to him. What a stupid- *mumblegrumble*

I really, really hope there is a second season in the future because I would love to blog it if I had the chance.


Final Impression

Story: While I’m not usually super into anything to do with the military, I enjoyed Alderamin enough that I was able to just suck it up and deal. I could find no major flaws with the story that I can think of at this moment.

Characters: One of the biggest strengths of this show is, in my personal opinion, its characters. I feel that Torway and Ikta experienced the most character growth, but the main cast had enough variety that there wasn’t really anyone I disliked watching. Even Haroma and Matthew, two of the more secondary characters from the main cast, had roles which highlighted their value: Haroma was a medic and thus had to be with the main platoon for healing purposes, and Matthew was put into situations where he could demonstrate his family’s military talent. Matthew was also a good example of comedic relief throughout the vlcsnap-00044series, along with Ikta.

And Ikta, wow. What an incredible main character. I’ve never seen an MC quite like him. He’s blunt, has been sexually active, is comfortable talking about “taboo” topics, and is gifted with exceptional ways of thinking and an overabundance of military talent. Yes ladies he really is all that and a bag of chips.

Music & Animation: 5 gold stars, A++, the whole nine yards. I actually started watching this series based SOLELY on its gorgeous animation, and man it did not let me down. I love it when chances pay off! Madhouse did an amazing job with the animation and the music they chose, and I’ll definitely be looking for the soundtrack to add to my music library.

As for the music, I loved everything. Everything! Especially the opening and ending themes. Nothing to complain about here.

Overall Thoughts: An outstanding anime from start to finish. If you’re looking for a new title with stellar characters, invigorating music and pretty animation, then this might be the series for you. ^_^v The only complaint I have is that I was hoping we’d get more romance between Ikta and Yatori, but it’s not enough to lower my score and honestly if there ends up being a second season, maybe we’ll get some smooches at that point in time. I’m thinking of reading the manga in the meantime, and see how it compares to the show.

Final Score: 10/10

Endride – Episodes 23 & 24 [Final Impression]

Episode 23

The second-to-last episode picks up with Pascal’s sacrifice allowing Shun and Emilio to continue their journey to Tir Na Nog. As Shun and Emilio fly away, Ralph and Joseph break away from the group to search for Pascal’s body while the Ignauts concentrate on fighting Ibelda.

Back at the castle, Alicia stays with Eljuia, Felix and Louise. Eljuia has mostly recovered already, but Louise and Felix are still injured. Felix wants to go back into battle anyways to help Demetrio, but some pointed words from Louise cause him to back down. Not only that but she convinces him to stop throwing his life away.

The Ignauts continue their fight against Ibelda, and realize they need a new plan. Fighting Ibelda from the front isn’t gaining them any ground, and eventually vlcsnap-00011they will all run out of energy. It’s decided that Demetrio, Mischa and Gradido will distract Ibelda long enough that Guidoro can attack Ibelda and throw the grenade into his body.

The plan goes off, but not entirely according to plan. Ibelda envelops Guidoro into his gelatine body and they have a meeting of minds, during which Guidoro tells Ibelda that while the Truculent never had allies, he now has friends who want to help him protect Endora. Then Guidoro detonates the grenade and he dies along with Ibelda.

Shun and Emilio reach Tir Na Nog, and it’s not how they had envisioned. As they approach, Emilio tells Shun that Tir Na Nog is rumoured to be ruled by an omnipotent god. Falarion flies them all up to the top, where they see a large blueish-green circular crystal in the middle of the platform. Emilio and Shun try to break it with their Warp Relics, but it isn’t until Shun remembers that crystals have gem cleavage that they are able to shatter the crystal’s top layer. Just then someone interrupt them, and it’s Shun’s father, who has returned to Endora! And with a Warp Relic of his own apparently, one that makes him look like the Spiderman villain Doctor Octopus. Looks like the omnipotent god who was rumored to live in the tower was really Shun’s adoptive father all along?

Asanaga cruelly tells Emilio that his father Alzerm didn’t die in vain, for Asanaga has taken some of his body. It’s not specified but I assume that this is a reference to his Warp Relic. Asanaga then uses one of his barbed octopus-like arms to stab Falarion in his chest.

Shun and Emilio attack Asanaga with their Warp Relics, but they can’t seem to hurt him. They have to take him down to stop the leeching of Warp Particles, but how??

Episode 24

Emilio is the first to evolve his Warp Relic in this episode, turning his two-pronged spear into one with a larger, heavier point. Asanaga assumes that this evolution is due to his hatred, but Emilio corrects him and says that it’s due to the strength he has for the people he’s fighting for.

Asanaga grabs Emilio and holds him upside down with one of the arms of his Warp Relic, and Emilio and Shun discover that the arms can be broken if they are struck. (Previously they’d just been deflecting the barbs at the end of the arms.)

Shun is the other person to evolve his Warp Relic this episode, and Shun tells his father that now that he knows the truth about him and Endora, he can never go back to his old life of ignorance. Shun destroys another of Asanaga’s mechanical arms, bringing him down to three.

vlcsnap-00011Deep in the forest, Joseph and Ralph find Pascal. He’s alive! Pascal was able to deploy a parachute as he fell, and it’s what saved his life as he got caught in the canopy and hung above the forest floor.

Up at Tir Na Nog, the battle isn’t going well for Shun and Emilio. They haven’t been able to hurt Asanaga, but he’s been whittling away at their strength and stamina with each blow he manages to cut them with. Asanaga tells Shun that he only became strong for him and for Makiko, but Shun tells him that his mother would never be happy with what Asanaga has chosen to do.

Asanaga is not happy to hear this, and he strings up Shun with two of his remaining Warp Particle arms while he moves to stab Shun with the third. But in the end he’s not able to kill his own son. Emilio sees that Asanaga is distracted, and he morphs his spear into a shaft of light. Falarion too turns to light and melds with Emilio’s weapon, and together both energies stab Asanaga right through the chest. Shun rushes over to his father’s side, and Asanaga looks gently up at Shun but says nothing as he dies.

Upon Asanaga’s death, Tir Na Nog stops sending Warp Particles to the surface, but it also starts to fall apart. Shun and Emilio try to hold onto the rubble but fail, and are saved only by Falarion who catches them on his back.

Shun and Emilio fly back to the Ignauts, who are waiting for them with baited breath. Falarion also seems to have miraculously recovered from his injury. Demetrio teases the guys for making Alicia cry, and Emilio is reunited with Pascal. At least the guy still has one father figure left in his life right?

Pascal, Joseph and Pascal’s friend look over the blueprints for the parinblue, but decide it’s not a good idea to try to duplicate that ancient technology. Pascal says that they should focus their energies on Warp Particle research, because at least Warp Particles can be used to better Endora.

In the evening, a large feast is held at the castle to celebrate the Ignauts’ victory. Emilio and Shun have a quiet moment with Demetrio beforehand, and Emilio thanks Demetrio for everything he and the Ignauts taught him. Emilio even takes a moment to apologize to Alicia for worrying her, although he can’t figure out why she’s crying again.

During the celebration speeches, Demetrio says that the Ignauts must continue to help the people of Endora because all of the conflict and chaos is not going to magically stabilize overnight. Demetrio says that he’s asked Gradido for permission to use the Zoozian’s island as a base, and for Gradido to oversee the northern vlcsnap-00017continent along with Ralph. Demetrio goes on to say that Felix and Louise are to focus on healing their injuries, while Mischa, Eljuia, Pascal, Joseph and Aaron will work to restore the castle. Lastly, Demetrio’s plan includes Shun and Emilio helping Demetrio with the southern lands.

Later on while everyone is busy drinking and celebrating, Shun decides to quietly slip away from the festivities. However Emilio catches up to him outside, and Shun reveals that as much as he’s enjoyed visiting Endora and meeting everyone, he has to go home because he can’t leave his mom alone. Emilio says that he wants to protect Endora, but admits he’s not quite ready to be king yet. Shun and Emilio bicker one last time, then say their goodbyes.

Up on the surface, Shun materializes on top of a building like before. However this time his parinblue emerges from his chest, then turns grey and falls to the rooftop, crumbling into pieces. Shun picks up a piece and holds it up to the sun, admiring its color and shape in the light. His voiceover talks about his idea of finding worlds inside rocks as a child, and how the memory of Endora will always remain locked away safely in his heart.

But after the credits, we see a dusty land reminiscent of the Sahara Desert. As the winds blow the sand around, a parinblue is revealed to a mysterious stranger. They pick it up to admire it. Who could this be…? Will Endora have a new visitor from the surface in the future?

My thoughts: No I didn’t miss a week, Endride‘s finale really did air two episodes in the final week of the season.

I feel like this was a fitting end to this series. I’m a little sad that Shun didn’t decide to stay in Endora with his cousin, but I can understand his need to not leave his mother alone. She already lost her husband at the hand of her son, she didn’t need to lose her son too.

The ending after the credits makes me wonder if we’re going to get a second season of Endride in the future. Maybe there will be a timeskip? (I know I’ve been all about timeskips in my musings lately, but seriously it would make sense for all my shows this season to have sequels!) An adult Shun visits Endora to see Emilio and Alicia’s family? Or another evil bastard takes the parinblue and travels to Endora to fuck things up? Make it so!

Final Impression

Story: I have no idea why this show was two cours; it honestly could have been done in just one. Yes alright the first half introduces us to all the characters, gives us some insight into their personalities and relationships to one another, but in the end it all feels like filler. And really, really annoying filler at that. Emilio and Shun bickered CONSTANTLY, the dialogue was really repetitive and kinda cheesy at times, and there wasn’t much that really stands out in my mind.

How bad was it? I was literally going to drop this show until I watched the twelfth episode and my intentions did a complete 180. After that episode, enough drama happened and intriguing questions about Endora were raised that I felt like sticking with the show for its second cour. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still struggled to blog Endride, but I tried hard to find things I enjoyed about the show so I could at least keep myself interested.

So in terms of the story, the first eleven episodes can be written off. Well, maybe watch the first one or two and then skip ahead to episode twelve.

Which parts of Endride‘s story were done well, in my opinion? I really liked the mythology behind Endora and its connections to the surface the most, as well as learning about Emilio’s past and his blood ties to Shun. I also appreciated that the big bad guy of the show ended up being Asanaga, Shun’s adopted father. It made Shun losing his biological father (without initially realizing it) that much more bittersweet. Last but not least I also enjoyed learning about the parinblue and some of the techology Asanaga helped create.vlcsnap-00001

Characters: Endride had a really large cast, almost too large. I feel like several characters ended up with rather small roles to play, and could have been omitted from the show entirely. For example, Felix and Mischa had similar personalities and spent so much time bickering about their devotion to Demetrio that I found them both annoying. And Louise played the traitor role well but aside from the subplot about her being a Zoozian and later betraying the Ignauts, she didn’t do much. Alicia did even less, having one episode devoted mostly to Falarion but otherwise didn’t seem to have a role other than to cook for the Ignauts and have Emilio as a love interest. And even the latter didn’t get very developed over the course of two cours.

Of the characters I did end up liking, again due to the show’s rocky start, it took me awhile to warm up to them. Shun and Emilio are the primary examples of this sentiment. By the end of the series I liked both Shun and Emilio, but in the beginning holy fuck did I want to smash their faces together. Repeatedly. Far too much bickering and far too much stupid dialogue. Yes we know that Shun’s from the surface and Babel can send him home. Yes we know they need to go to Babylon. ENOUGH. REPETITION.

That being said, a few of the main characters experienced character growth that they kept from being static, Emilio being the most obvious example. He went from being a spoiled prince consumed by his mis-directed anger for the man he thought was his father, to a supportive friend to his cousin who ended up losing his father twice over. Actually they both lost their fathers twice over, come to think of it. Emilio however had to show more maturity and have a calmer personality because he will most likely one day be king.

Also, Asanaga was a fucking psychopath. Enough said.

Music and Animation: I wasn’t a fan of either ending theme, but the opening theme did grow on me by the last few episodes. The animation… well, to be nice, let’s just say that I feel like this was some production company’s first attempt at making an anime. There was lots of derpness, lots of bodies that were out of proportion or just looked off. The backgrounds and scenic shots were beautiful, incorporating CG well, but much of the series felt like it was rushed or just made by people who needed some more practice with their animation.

Ironically, unlike my other show from the summer season Qualidea Code, I feel like the animation got better during the last few episodes. Don’t ask me why, everything just seemed sharper and better animated to me.

Overall Thoughts: I felt like the second half of this show was a good effort, a beginner’s attempt at a fantasy show. The music and some of the animation was done well, but Endride suffered from lackluster characters, rushed-looking animation, and not enough plot in the first half of the show. The only reason I’m scoring Endride as high as I am is because I a) actually decided to continue with the second cour, and b) the final five episodes were pretty good.

Final Score: 7/10

Qualidea Code – Episode 12 [Qualidea of the Radiant World] [Final Impression]

The final episode begins with a flashback to when Gutoku first met Airi: she impaled him on her claw. When he awoke, Airi appeared human to him again, and he seemed to be healed.

Back in the present, Ichiya and the others are prepared to do battle against Gutoku, until Aoi activates her World. We already knew that it enabled communication between people, but it can also prevent others from using their World powers. Aoi steps over to Gutoku’s side permanently, leaving behind her peers for good.

Gutoku whispers something to Aoi and she takes off, with Asuha and Canaria hot on her heels. Gutoku gets into a fistfight with Ichiya, but when he stops one of Kasumi’s bullets with his hands, he transforms and reveals he’s half-Unknown. Perhaps this is the result of Airi infecting him when she injured him; the cause of his mutation is not specified.

Meanwhile Asuha catches up with Aoi, and the two girls get into a fistfight. The fight serves as a reminder that Aoi is not as useless as she’s been portrayed vlcsnap-00008throughout the series – she was Maihime’s backup until Hotaru showed up, after all. Aoi also mentions that her World allows her to basically read Asuha’s mind when they’re face to face. Eventually Aoi manages to almost choke Asuha out, but Asuha turns the tables around and gets the upper hand on Aoi.

Elsewhere in the tower, Maihime and Hotaru are facing off against Airi in her true Unknown form. She’s a strong foe, probably the strongest Maihime has ever faced. Maihime and Hotaru’s fight with Airi ends as Maihime impales Airi on her energy sword. Just before she dies Maihime remembers a conversation she had with Airi when she was a child, and Airi talked about wanting to experience having a baby and dying a satisfying death. Maihime flashes back to the present and she realizes that she has been fighting Airi all along. This is confirmed once Airi’s body disintegrates and Maihime spots the pocketwatch on the ground. However there is no time to grieve yet – Maihime and Hotaru must rescue the remaining children from cold sleep.

As all of these fights are going on, Canaria has gotten herself lost chasing after Asuha and Aoi. However she spots the dimensional gate, and once she reaches the top of the tower, she activates her World and begins singing her song.

Everyone else hears Canaria’s song and is boosted by its effects. Ichiya fights back against Gutoku, who had pinned Kasumi and Ichiya against the wall with a blasting stream of energy. Gutoku reveals that Airi has died and that the tower, which was Airi’s own body, will soon crumble and the dimensional gate will fail. Gutoku closes his eyes and Ichiya’s gravity powers blow a hole through the side of the tower.

Ichiya wastes no time telling Kasumi and Asuha to flee the tower, as he flies off to find Canaria. He finds her in freefall and he saves her in the nick of time. Once everyone is assembled outside the Administration tower, Ichiya and the others join the rescued cold sleep kids in watching the tower fall to the ground.

However inside the tower, something is happening. A severely injured Gutoku finds Aoi’s unconscious body, and then Airi’s spirit appears and asks him to take care of Aoi. Airi knows that losing two parents at once would be too much for Aoi to handle. Gutoku agrees to take care of Aoi.

vlcsnap-00031Ichiya and Canaria meet with Johannes, and tell her that they want to rebuild Tokyo before they leave to see their parents. Then Kasumi and Asuha rush in to visit with their mother, and Ichiya and Canaria leave to give them some privacy.

By the seaside, Hotaru and Maihime stand at Aoi’s grave marker. They discuss how Airi was kind like a human mother would be, and Maihime admits she still doesn’t fully understand the conversation she had with Airi in her past. Then they’re joined by the other four representatives, and Kasumi reveals that he and Asuha are leaving. The other four will remain behind and work to rebuild their cities.

After the credits roll, Canaria’s voiceover says that the story is about learning more about their World powers and how they can be used to save the world.

My thoughts: I thought the memory of Maihime and Airi talking was a nice touch and helped tie in with the family theme of the previous episode. In the end Airi never birthed a child created from hers and Gutoku’s genetics, but Maihime was probably as close to having a child of her own as she got, and Aoi definitely saw Airi and Gutoku as her parental figures. So in a sense, in the end Airi did sort of have a child, and she was something of a parent.

I wonder if we will get another season. Maybe a storyline that takes place after a timeskip, when Gutoku has been raising Airi for a period of time? Maybe there’s a battle between countries over the kids who have World powers?

Lastly while I don’t want to whine about graphics and animation yet again, I feel like I have to mention how disappointed I was with the quality of animation in this episode. The series had been getting slowly worse as we got closer to the end, but I feel like this episode took a sharp decline in quality. Much of the animation was derpy, like it was rushed and there was simply no time to get a lot of the proportions right.


Final Impression

Story: Absolutely fantastic. If you’d told me at the beginning of the season that this would be a story about aliens abducting children and brainwashing them to fight mankind, I would’ve told you that you were nuts. Qualidea Code had some of the biggest twists I can remember seeing in an anime in recent years, and I am still so impressed with the plot of this show, even if it was somewhat hindered by poor animation.

Characters: I’m kinda meh on the cast. Maihime’s probably my favourite character, but I have issues with most of the others. Airi and Gutoku were also very interesting to me, especially once it was revealed that Airi was an Unknown and Gutoku loved her despite being half-human himself.

Random list of thoughts: Ichiya was too arrogant for my liking, Kasumi was too apathetic, and the brother-sister complex between Kasumi and Asuha kinda weirded me out. Canaria was cute but a little too vapid for my liking. Johannes was far too childlike, but that was also part of her appeal, and I love how Kasumi was just having none of her ego-stroking. I did like that Asuha eventually accepted Johannes once she got used to having her biological mother back in her life. Aoi became infinitely more interesting to me in this episode, and I honestly wish her betrayal had happened an episode or two ago so there was more time to feel vlcsnap-00035the resulting pain from her decision.

Music and Animation: The music in Qualidea Code was pretty awesome. There was a couple of opening and ending themes used throughout the season, which always helps to keep things fresh. I liked the electronic-sounding themes used during some of the larger fight scenes, and Canaria’s World song was pretty to listen to without it getting repetitive.

However, in terms of the animation… I’m really disappointed. The animation was so pretty in the first half of the season, but the latter half was pretty disheartening. Faces were not proportioned right, limbs looked off, and just blah.

Overall Thoughts: Honestly, like with Berserk (2016), the only issue I have with this show is the quality of the animation. The difference is that it was known from the beginning that Berserk would be using a mix of 2D and 3D animation, and it was clear pretty quick that viewers would either love or hate it. Qualidea Code started off with stellar animation, but experienced a decrease in quality for the last six or so episodes.

And the final episode in particular was really atrocious. The example that sticks out in my mind was the fight scene between Aoi and Asuha. Faces were off, limbs were everywhere, and the whole thing just looked really warped. For the poor animation in the last episode alone, I’m taking off an extra half a point. I don’t know why the quality suffered so much, but I’m curious whether anyone else noticed a change too. Or am I really just too picky?

Final Score: 8.5/10

Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV – Episode 5 [The Warmth of Light] [Final Impression]

The last episode of Brotherhood picks up where the first episode left off, with Noct launching himself into battle against the same snake daemon which had killed his security team many years earlier. Ignis and the others yell for Noctis to stand down, but he refuses. In the meantime while Noctis fights the daemon, Gladio, Ignis and Prompto have their hands full with mechanical soldiers.

Until the daemon wipes out the mechanical soldiers, that is. Ignis again yells for Noctis to back off, and once more the prince refuses.

We get a flashback to the events of the first episode, when the snake daemon first attacked Noctis’ group. The snake kills all of the security members in the cars, and then Noctis’ wet nurse as she tried to flee with the prince. The snake daemon is about to kill Noctis when Noctis’ father shows up and squares off against the vlcsnap-00017creature.

Eventually Noctis’ father is able to slash the daemon across its face, and then push it backwards off a cliff. The king comes over to check on Noctis’ condition, but Noctis passes out.

Back in the present Noctis continues to attack the snake daemon, but he’s not able to get the upper hand. Then a particularly strong strike from the daemon sends Noctis flying into the ocean, and it seems like all is lost.

As he slowly sinks, Noctis remembers his father yelling his name in a panic, and it seems to wake him up. He concentrates and we can see some familiar white particles forming…

Up on the cliff, Ignis and the others are not able to damage the snake daemon at all. Then Noctis flies up from the sea to strike a blow to the daemon’s chest. He reveals that he now has the same ability his father has, to generate weapons of white light. Along with this new ability Noctis’ strength, stamina and speed seem to be vastly improved.

Noctis is now able to go all out against the snake daemon, and it doesn’t take long for him to slash off several of the enemy’s arms. Ignis and the others rally around him and together they finish dismembering the snake daemon’s other limbs, with Noctis ending the fight by decapitating the creature’s head with a large sword.

After the battle everyone is relieved that the daemon is dead, but they stand back to give Noctis some space. Noctis flashes back to when he woke up after the snake daemon’s attack, and his father was holding his hand. “I won’t let anyone hurt you,” his father had said. Noctis falls to the ground in tears; the idea that his father may be dead is almost too much for him to wrap his head around.

Later on Noct and the others continue in the Regalia to Altissia. The four of them discuss the upcoming battle, and they do their best to remain optimistic about the upcoming war. Noctis teases Prompto about seeing Lunafreya, and Prompto takes the bait and gets all worked up. As Ignis and Gladio try to settle Prompto down, Noctis closes his eyes and takes another nap.

My thoughts: I think that this anime short serves as a good introduction to the upcoming Final Fantasy XV video game. Viewers have a good grasp of the events leading up to the game, as well as the main cast of characters they will be playing as and interacting with if they choose to play the game.


Final Impression

Story: It’s hard to have much of a story with only five episodes, but as previously mentioned the anime sets up the events leading to the beginning of Final Fantasy XV. Most of the series is covered in flashbacks, but that’s alright with me.

Characters: I really liked the format of having the middle three episodes be an introduction to each of Noctis’ friends and guardians. Prompto’s the lighthearted comedic relief, Gladiolus is the muscle and Noctis’ trainer, and Ignis is Noctis’ protector and mentor. Each character serves a different role in relation to Noctis, which is why they make such a good team.

However I still think Prompto’s gun is pretty useless in comparison to the others’ swords. Maybe there will come a point in the game where Prompto will save the day with his gun?

Music & Animation: The animation is pretty solid and the music, particularly the songs played during the end credits, is fantastic. I will definitely be finding a way to get my hands on the game’s soundtrack once it’s released.

Overall thoughts: Fantastic short! I only wish there was more. No complaints about this short at all. Bring on November!

Final Score: 10/10

Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu – Episodes 10-12 [Final Impression]

Episode 10

It’s New Year’s, and Ryo, Rumi and Toshiaki have gone to a shrine to pray and make wishes for the new year. Ryo and Rumi share their wishes with Toshiaki, but he refuses to share his because he says he heard that if you tell someone your wish then it won’t come true.

Later they run into Keiichi, his childhood friend Reiji, and Reiji’s younger sister Yukari. Rumi is thrilled to see that Yukari is a “real priestess” and insists on taking pictures of the young woman in her shrine attire. Toshiaki and Ryo think Rumi’s reaction is funny, but when Toshiaki sees that Keiichi isn’t at all amused by Rumi’s behaviour, he scolds himself for “falling so far” and becoming so used to Rumi and Ryo’s world that he can apparently no longer just what is normal and what’s not.

Keiichi and Reiji invite the trio inside for some New Year’s soup, and we see that there’s some attraction between Keiichi and Yukari. However Reiji insists on getting in the way, much to their annoyance.

Sitting around a table, Rumi and Yukari discuss spending money on New Year’s goodie bags, bags with a random assortment of items inside. Neither girl really likes the bags, but Yukari confesses that she buys them anyways every year. Rumi’s inner monologue then inisists if she’s going to buy items with a hit-and-miss value, she’d rather buy and trade BL prints.

Later as they’re walking home, Ryo discovers that he’s pretty broke. Toshiaki teases him by saying people often buy a lot of things around New Year’s, but Ryo says that he and Rumi are often broke at other times because they spend a lot of money on thin volumes of doujinshi.

Episode 11

The series jumps forward to Valentine’s Day, and Ryo tells Toshiaki that he’s too busy shipping his BL OTP to have a girlfriend. He opens his shoe locker to find no love notes waiting for him, but wait, Toshiaki has one!

Ryo and Toshiaki go to the meeting place described in the letter, and a cute girl named Miyuki is waiting for Toshiaki. Ryo jokes that just because she presents as female doesn’t mean she won’t have a penis, and honestly this episode is worth it for the still shot of Miyuki with a “secret” censor over her crotch. Toshiaki is not pleased with the joke, but he knows he just has to go for it and find out what this girl wants.

Toshiaki approaches Miyuki, who presents him with a really elaborate hair accessory. She tells him she loves making them, and she’s always thought he had beautiful hair so she wanted to make something for him. And honestly this girl is talented – the hair accessory is gorgeous!

Ryo recounts the story for Rumi later, and she gives him some chocolate she found him at a convenience store. It’s got some artwork on it from an anime Ryo likes, and he’s super excited that she was able to find it for him because he hadn’t been able to find it.

Ryo asks Rumi if she gave anyone chocolates for Valentine’s Day, and Rumi confesses that she gave them to her favourite BL character, even though she knows the chocolate will of course go instead to the series mangaka.

Toshiaki watches the two of them gabbing and he muses to himself that he doesn’t know why they aren’t dating yet. They have a lot in common and many of the same interests, so what’s missing?

Episode 12

Ryo tells Toshiaki that he’s thinking of getting a part-time job. Toshiaki is suspicious of there being BL-related motivations for the decision, and in a way he’s a not wrong: Ryo wants a job so he has spending money for the next Comima convention.

Just then Daigo sticks his head into the conversation and asks if Ryo would be willing to help him out by working for him as an assistant at the event. Ryo knows that Daigo is connected to one of the authors he really likes, plus he needs the money, so he agrees to help out.

At the convention, Ryo is struck by the differences between himself and Daigo. They’re both fudanshi, but Ryo feels that Daigo is much more popular with females and is a little jealous. However Daigo points out that Ryo was getting his share of attention from the ladies too, and sure enough, them being together at a stand selling BL doujinshi has drawn some attention. Ryo is absolutely horrified but Daigo encourages him to play up the perceived attraction for sales.vlcsnap-00014

Just then Rumi arrives to snap a picture of Daigo with his arm around Rumi, and she teases them by saying maybe they should share one of the drinks she brought them instead of having one each.

After the event is over they go out for a drink together. Daigo asks Ryo how he got into BL, and Ryo says that in his first year of high school, he found a fan-created manga anthology for a series he liked which had BL content in it. He initially wasn’t into it, but realized the material was pretty good and the genre grew on him from there.

Ryo asks Rumi how she got into liking BL, and she says that both her mom and older sister are fujoshi too, so it was natural that she became one as well. Daigo teases Ryo by saying that he is Ryo’s kindred spirit, but Ryo’s not impressed.

Afterwards Rumi and Ryo leave together and bump into Toshiaki. He asks that they’re doing, and they tell him they are back from Comima and are going to check out some new volumes of BL. Toshiaki comments that they’re on a date together, but Rumi and Ryo both deny the remark.

My thoughts: For an episodic series about a topic not covered much in anime, Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu isn’t terrible. I was hoping for a little more with the last episode, ie something which would end the series on a nice note, but it was still just as episodic as the other episodes. It was nice to see how Ryo and Rumi got into BL, and I guess that will have to do for a “series finale” episode.

I did also wonder why Ryo and Rumi aren’t dating. I don’t know if there’s enough manga content for a second season, but I got the impression that there’s the potential for that to happen if Fudanshi were to get another season or two. They definitely get along very well and have a lot of the same interests in common, and their personalities seem to compliment each other.


Final Impression

Story: Fudanshi doesn’t have much of an overall story. Rather because it’s an episodic series, the series revolves around themes like Ryo going to Comima, meeting new people who like BL, and the differences between Ryo and “normal” people like Toshiaki who aren’t into BL. More than anything I think this series is about exploring BL subculture, and in that aspect it succeeds with flying colors. I knew nothing about BL or the boys love genre, and I’ve finished this series feeling like I at least have a basic understanding of it now.

I had started the season hoping that Fudanshi would push the envelope a little in terms of which topics it addressed, and I feel like the back half of the season was more successful in that regard. In particular the episodes about cross-dressing were somewhat tastefully done and not used to harass individuals who do cross-dress, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender.

But there’s still a long way to go. There’s still the stigma around being gay or individuals who present as being homosexual. Yujiro was somewhat of an exception, vlcsnap-00003as his feminine behaviours were accepted by his peers, but other characters including Ryo just could not stop themselves from seeing two guys together in the flesh as being “wrong.” There’s also the problem of groping/sexual harassment still being used for comedic purposes too.

Characters: Some of the characters are a little flat and one-note. Ryo for example is pretty straightforward, but he’s all about BL, all the time. Rumi is much the same, as adorable as she is. They’re cute and funny, but they’re boring.

That being said, I did like that Ryo and Rumi were such extreme fans of BL because some of their reactions and the terms they threw around (shipping, having an OTP, etc) were totally relatable to me (and presumably many other fans of anime and nerd culture as well).

My favourite character was Toshiaki, and I wish we’d had more episodes focusing on him. As a non-fudanshi he was the “normal” character of our main trio, and I was a little sad that he always seemed relegated to the role of being the supportive best friend.

Music and Animation: The animation was pretty meh, pretty average. Nothing super special. The still panels which were often used to convey reactions or capture expressions were well done and very detailed, but any animation which conveyed movement was nothing special in my book.

The music was alright too. Again nothing special, nothing that really stood out as being exceptional. The ending theme did grow on me and I eventually found it to be a little catchy, though it’s far from being my favourite theme.

Overall: If you want a cute series about a topic that’s often ignored in mainstream animation, then this might be the series for you. Just don’t go into it expecting anything mindblowing or above average. I’ll be watching to see if Fudanshi gets a second season, but I don’t think I’ll blog it if there is one.

Final Score: 7/10

Berserk (2016) – Episode 12 [Those Who Cling, Those Who Struggle] [Final Impression]


Final episode… T_T

Nina’s still alive, unfortunately. She landed on a covered pallet of some kind, and she’s hurt her ankle. Feeling sorry for herself she manages to hobble into the middle of the road and fall over, and is nearly stampeded to death by panicking refugees, except that Luca appears at the last possible moment and throws them both out of the way. Behind the wave of refugees are more of the blob spirits, and Nina can’t run with her injured ankle, so Luca stuffs her into a barrel and tells her to be quiet until everything passes.

vlcsnap-00017As she’s trapped in the barrel and being knocked around every which way, Nina begins panicking and then coughing up blood. She realizes that when she’s the most afraid is also when she feels the most alive. Nina resolves to try her best to continue living, for both Luca and for herself.

Atop one of the lower gateways, Guts and the others are attempting to hold off the purple gelatinous-looking spirits with their torches, but they are in danger of being overrun by them. Puck explains that the spirits are the manifestations of the pain and resentment felt by those who died at the tower, and are being fed by the negative emotions held by the people they’ve been engulfing.

Farnese is having a hard time processing what she’s seeing. At one point she’s about to resort to prayer, until some harsh words from Guts bring her to her senses. With Guts facing one way, Farnese and Serpico attempt to watch his back with their torches.

Suddenly the massive army of spirits converge on the tower and swarm up its sides towards the five fingers outstretched towards the sky. Their weight is too heavy and the tower itself actually starts to snap and crack, but the merged forms of the spirits hold it somewhat together.

A monologue from the Egg of the World overlaid with shots of the God Hand implies that the long-awaited reincarnation ceremony is finally starting to take place. The thoughts of the living and the dead are converging into a single point, which will result in the birth of the White Hawk Griffith and a whole new world.

Both Guts and Casca are feeling the agony from the spirits through their brand. As the ceremony reaches its pinacle, the spirits vomit what looks like blood and the tower finally collapses into rubble. As it falls, we get a brief glimpse at an unnamed female witch and her fairy companion.

Day breaks, and Guts and the others have made it through the night in one piece, including Nina in her barrel and Luca who hid in a well. However they are not out of the woods yet: the Kushan have arrived! Their leader commands that their forces attack and capture Farnese and the others, including the Black Swordsman.

Just then Azan shows up to help out. It looks like all of the other Holy Iron Chain Knights didn’t survive, as Azan is alone. As he prepares to join the battle, Zodd vlcsnap-00033the Immortal bursts through the rubble. Guts is initially unsure of why Zodd is there, but as he strides towards a figure in the distance, everything becomes crystal clear: Griffith has been reborn, and he is now Zodd’s master.

While Guts understands the significance of this turn in events, the Kushan do not, and they do not hesitate to launch an attack against Griffith. Guts is about to join them when he stops suddenly. He has Casca to protect; he can’t abandon her again, not after he made a promise to keep her safe.

Azan leads Luca, Farnese and the others away from the ruins, but Guts and Casca remain behind. As the main Kushan forces arrive at what’s left of the tower, Isidoro and Jerome spot Guts and Casca riding away from the battlefield on horseback. Meanwhile a nude Griffith soars away into the distance on Zodd’s back.

It turns out there are a handful of other surviving refugees who made it through the night as well. Luca picks a little bouquet of flowers and throws it into the wind, saying it was for a poor lonely soul who never met anyone. It’s a nice gesture for such a pitiful creature. Isidoro takes off on his own, and Nina momentarily excuses herself from the group.

Down by the water Nina runs into Joachim, who claims to really care for her and apologizes for ratting her out. He turns to leave but Nina stops him; she decides to leave with Joachim, for they are two similar souls, and they depart without saying goodbye to Luca or the others.

Farnese also has a major revelation: she decides to leave the Order to follow Guts. His strength and ability to stand alone in the darkness have captivated her for reasons she can’t yet define, but she will follow him at her own pace, and Serpico will of course be with her.

As the credits roll, Luca, Jerome and the other working girls are still waiting for Nina, who has fucked off with Joachim. The Skull Knight sits atop his horse on top of a cliff, watching down through the clouds at this new world below.

And elsewhere as night falls, Guts, Casca and Puck make their way through a forest. Guts and Casca are finally together again, but what new adventures await them?


My thoughts:
As a story arc, I thought that this episode was a little anti-climactic. The Conviction arc basically builds up towards the ceremony which results in the birth of a new world (which is elaborated on later in the manga) and Griffith’s reincarnation, but the ceremony itself was actually pretty short. And we barely got to see or hear the God Hand either. I feel like this last episode could have spanned two episodes and included a little more content.

That being said, what we did get to see of the reborn Griffith was pretty awesome, I just wish there had been more of it. He had an almost magical girl-like reveal, what with his long white hair flowing behind him and feathers everywhere.

I’m super excited that we’re getting another season in the spring 2017 season, and I am hoping that I’ll be covering that arc as well. We’ll get to meet a new cast of characters, including the green-haired forest witch and the fairy whom we got our first look at this episode.

I’m stalling the inevitable, so I guess without further ado, here’s my final impression for Berserk (2016).

From what I remember of the Conviction arc in the manga, this season was a pretty faithful adaption of the source material. I can’t fault the story just because I don’t like the arc, so the story gets full points from me. We’re also still early enough in the series that events are not getting super repetitive yet, which is good because that’s definitely one thing I am critical of later on.

Characters: Again full points from me. With the exception of Casca, pretty much everyone experiences some kind of personal growth and development during this arc. For example, Farnese changes from being a devoted leader within the Order to someone who openly questions and later discards her religious beliefs. Guts goes from being on a personal quest to destroy all Apostles (and by extension Griffith) to someone who realizes he must protect what is most important to him: Casca. Even Isidoro goes from being a cocky kid who’s most concerned about Guts training him to someone who learns about the notion of personal responsibility and fixing one’s mistakes.

There are some characters who do not experience a lot of growth or have much of their backstory revealed (such as Serpico or Azan) who will get their turn in later arcs, so I can’t discard any points for that.

vlcsnap-00046I’d also like to point out that I feel that Casca’s seiyuu, Toa Yukinari, does a fantastic job voicing a character who has literally no dialogue in the entire season. In all episodes she appears in, Casca communicates with only grunts and cries, and it’s left to the other characters to determine her wants and needs based primarily on her body language and tone of voice. That can’t have been an easy role to voice, but I think Yukinari-san pulled it off well.

Lastly Nina needs to go DIAF. Holy fuck what a whiny, useless, annoying character. She is perhaps the only character who has virtually no growth, because what little she gains in the final episode is offset by her desire to avoid hating herself. I knew she would not die during this arc because she doesn’t die in the manga, but that didn’t stop me from hoping that maybe the producers had made a couple changes here or there and that her death would be one of them.

Music & Animation: The music is top notch, and I am still thrilled that Hirasawa-san returned to compose more music for Berserk. I have my fingers crossed that the Blu-ray release of Berserk (2016) will include the official soundtrack. Tracks like “Hai Yo” really add to the dark, demonic fantasy world which Guts and Casca inhabit, and the music for this series is include any other anime music I’ve heard before. The opening theme is fucking awesome, gets me really amped up to watch the show, and the ending theme is just beautiful.

This blend of 2D and 3D animation is not my preferred style; I personally would have rather seen Berserk (2016) done in a more traditional style (as with the original 1997 TV series), or in the method used for the Golden Age film trilogy. Granted there are some scenes which the CG doesn’t warp, but for larger scenes with lots of characters such as group shots or battles with demons, the CG blend doesn’t do Berserk (2016) any favors. Characters’ movements often seem clunky or slow, and the CG lacks the smoothness of 2D animation.

What I did enjoy about the animation in Berserk (2016) were the close-ups, because those shots used more 2D than 3D animation, given them a more “traditional” look. I also really enjoyed the colored still at the end of each episode shown right before the “To Be Continued” screen.

Overall thoughts: Honestly I’m in love with everything about this season except the animation. It’s a little hard to tell from the brief preview we got at the endvlcsnap-00001-2 of this episode, but it looks like the next season might be done in the same CG style, so if that’s the case I will be bitching less about the animation the next time around. Like many other fans while I’m not big on this style of blended 2D & 3D animation, I was so excited to learn that us Berserk fans were getting a new adaption, and so I’m just grateful for the new seasons.

I’ve had a few people question over the last few months why I’m such a big fan of Berserk, because I normally hate anything from the horror genre and I try to avoid blood and gore (I’m squeamish). But like with many other shows, I don’t watch for the violence or the blood – I watch for the characters and their relationships more than anything. And the music. Always for the music.

Berserk is a dark fantasy, but it’s the growth shown by Guts that intrigues me more than anything, and the devotion he shows to Casca which draws me in. He and Casca only have one intimate encounter, but the relationship he has with Casca is powerful enough that it alters his entire psyche. He’s willing to give up his quest to kill Femto, give up his mission to kill the Apostles just to protect her. Not only that but as we’ll see in the next season (and hopefully later arcs too!), Guts will go to extreme lengths to help try to restore Casca’s mental state.

In parting, here are my final songs from Susumu Hirasawa for you. They are Inferno and Meimoku no Kanata, the opening and closing themes from Berserk (2016), respectively. Thank you to those who’ve read my entries for Berserk (2016), and I hope you will join me when I (hopefully) blog the next season in the spring. ^_^v

Final Score: 9/10