All posts filed under: Anime

Tomorrow’s Guardians | My Hero Academia Episode 113

Oh yeah, this series used to be about Heroes. We’ve spent a decent enough chunk of time with world-hating anarchists that that fact sort of got left behind. Well, we’re back in it and…the season is over. Drat. And for a season-ending episode…not a whole lot happened. We saw the 1-A kids showcase some new moves on a horde of (seemingly self-aware) robots and then celebrate their return to school with hot pot. It all essentially boiled down to a quick run through of the roster, making sure you remembered what everyone can do and making sure that all of 1-A got a smidge more screen time: a fun reminder of a cast less bent on destroying the world. That being said, I will point out how adorable it was that Ashido told Kirishima that her new move was based on his; maybe there’s a reason she’s so acutely aware of Uraraka’s mimicry of Midoriya. Either way, it’s always nice to see connections in 1-A that aren’t mired in familial drama or society-upending secrets.

To Infinity and Beyond – SK8 the Infinity (Episode Twelve) – Season’s Writings

After some ups and downs throughout the course of its run, SK8 the Infinity reaches its climax, and what better way for things to conclude than in a skateboarding deathmatch? Yes, you read that right. Langa and Adam take to a new course for their tournament final, and it is a deadly track designed by Adam himself where one wrong move could mean certain death. The race itself takes up the majority of the focus in this final episode, with very little time for other things, but it may very well be the most exciting race in the series—only the Reki vs Adam match rivals it. There isn’t too much to say about the race itself. It is basically a dangerous new stage where you can fall off a cliff and die, and of course Adam is repeatedly trying to assault Langa and kill him with his skateboard—which is okay, I guess? I never really understood why this is allowed and why no one has pressed charges against Adam for the grievous bodily harm he …

A Real Nail-Fighter – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Twenty-Four) – Season’s Writings

Well, this episode just kicks all kinds of ass, doesn’t it? I’m pretty sure you could count how many times the audience blinks on one hand…you can count zero on one hand, right? The action kicks in immediately and it really never stops until that metaphorical bell rings. Even the villain’s gloating is swiftly ignored for a flurry of blows to the face: it’s awesome. What’s doubly awesome is that Kugisaki gets a chance to go all out and also make it to the end of a fight. Seriously, I feel like she always gets taken out before victory is assured. This time, however, she pulls some seriously metal moves and damn near intimidates her opponent into giving up. Okay, maybe the pain feedback loop had something to do with it, but ol’ Face-Back (the elder, though not oldest, of the curse brothers) wouldn’t have undone his technique had he not been convinced Kugisaki and Itadori could live up to their threats. Oh, Kugisaki uses her technique to ricochet Back-Face’s decomposition, causing all involved a …

Feeling Infinite – SK8 the Infinity (Episodes Ten and Eleven) – Season’s Writings

After taking a break last week, we are back with a double-header write-up for SK8 the Infinity—covering episodes ten and eleven. Thankfully, episode ten put a cap on one of the most frustrating storylines in the series, that being the discord in the friendship between Reki and Langa. After several episodes of miscommunication and bouts of jealousy, the boys put that all aside and—instead of having a big apology between the two—decide to just shut up and skate together. I thought this was actually a really poignant and satisfying way to conclude the storyline here and reaffirm our leads as best buds heading into the series climax. Sometimes moments like this, of simple character connection, speaks more than any monologue ever could. There were also a few strange moments in the episode. Not only was Cherry hospitalised after Adam’s assault in the previous week, but Shadow is also randomly assaulted by some dude with a bat, saying that his girlfriend broke up with him because of Shadow. Did I miss something? For the life of …

One Little Push – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Twenty-Three) – Season’s Writings

With the usual explosion of energy and animation that makes Jujutsu so damn cool, this episode throws us into the whack-a-mole battle of the century. Apparently, that curse what done killed all those people at their doorways pops up in a multitude of bodies (though all the same doofy/scary shape). Fushiguro even notes how this curse is far weaker than they expected, tearing through its forms with the help of Kugisaki. All’s well that en—and Kugisaki’s being pulled through a portal. And Itadori jumped in too. And one of Sukuna’s fingers is here. And one of those creepy special-grades…this situation is wack. Still, this cavalcade of chaos does give Fushiguro the push he needs to become stronger. Sure dire-moment power-ups can be a tad cliché, but this one makes thematic sense…and is really cool. With unexpected confirmation (for us) that his ultimate technique is a sacrificial one, Fushiguro realises that he never truly pushes the limits of his skill and imagination. If his skills don’t work, he always has a trump card that’ll take him …

Tales Out of Middle School – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Twenty-Two) – Season’s Writings

If ever there was an anime episode for fans of both extreme sports and haunted locations, this would most certainly be one…also, what a very niche Venn diagram to be a part of. Regardless, this episode sees our lovable trio off to investigate a series of grisly murders, wherein victims were found brutalised at their own front doors. We do actually get to see one such murder in action, as a man loudly yells over the phone that his automatic door is on the fritz—a sign that the murderous curse is drawing near—before threatening to kill the inspector for not having already fixed the issue. He dies (the yelling guy, not the inspector). It’s not that sad. Did he deserve to be violently rent asunder? Probably not. But he did seem rather unpleasant, so I didn’t feel that bad. Also, we eventually learn that the curse targets people who underwent a “trial of courage” by venturing under a bridge in the dead of night. I don’t think that warrant his death either, but it definitely …

Out of Left Field – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Twenty-One) – Season’s Writings

Oh my, it’s a baseball! Yep, for reasons known only to Gojo—and us once Gojo himself reveals he did it for the sake of mixing up tradition, as is his wont—the second day of the Kyoto–Tokyo Exchange Event is not a series of individual battle: it’s a baseball match. That being said, the match is ultimately a collection of small skits that happen to take place on a baseball field. Arrow Guy strikes out after musing too long on Itadori’s reasons for becoming a sorcerer (undermining the sombre backstory playing out on screen), “Mechamaru” rocks up in his baseball-pitching-machine backup body, Broom Girl flies around to catch fly balls, and Todo gets walloped in the face by a pitch from Maki—which she did on purpose and literally every student praises her for. It’s a definite hard turn from the high stakes of last episode, but it’s a much needed situation: if things kept unfolding at the pace they had been then we’d all have exploded from the sheer outpouring of awesomeness. Not that this episode …

With the Subtlety of a Skateboard to the Face – SK8 the Infinity (Episode Nine) – Season’s Writings

This was not an episode filled with subtlety and nuance; I’m beginning to see some troubling trends in SK8 the Infinity as it powers through its second half. While the first half of the series focused on falling in love with skating and the wonder of it, the second half seems to be more focused on melodrama and ridiculous skateboarding stunts that are as dumb as they are unbelievable. While it’s fair to say that sports anime often have somewhat of a fantastical take on things, SK8 the Infinity began as a very grounded show that focused on skateboarding in a realistic and authentic manner, but that seems to have gone out the window as time has rolled on. This episode sees two of the tournament matches take place. First off is Joe versus Langa, which was fine for the most part and despite some ridiculous moments—like Joe removing his feet off the board and riding it from his hands in a Superman-like position. This manoeuvre could not possibly be performed in reality. That said, …

Infinity on High – Demon Slayer: Mugen Train Movie – Humble Opinions

It goes without saying that Demon Slayer has proven to be quite the phenomenon, both in Japan and around the world. The fact that a Shonen Jump adaptation film wound up being the highest grossing Japanese film of all time, surpassing the likes of such cinematic greats as Your Name and Spirited Away, is an impressive feat to say the very least. So, does the film live up to the ridiculous level of hype that has surrounded it? Yes. Yes it does. A big part of what sets Demon Slayer: Mugen Train apart from other Shonen Jump anime films is that it actually adapts source material and is canon to the ongoing story of Demon Slayer. Often these anime film takes on anime series either go the abridged format, adapting a popular story from the anime in abbreviated form, or they go for a completely original story that takes place outside of the canon of the main series. Perhaps the crucial element that led to the success of this film is that it is compulsory …

Pound of Applause – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Twenty) – Season’s Writings

Boom! Clap! The sound of a punch: the fight goes on and on and on and on and. Boom! Clap! Beset by petals and wood: switch out with me, switch out with them. And now that you’ve got that tune stuck in your head, let’s ruminate on the sheer spectacle of this episode (which is just pompous talk for, “Holy crap. Holy crap. Did you see how sweet this episode was?”) Not content with being a figurative brick wall made of literal muscle, Todo busts out his cursed technique: Boogie Woogie. But don’t let the name fool you, it is as awesome as it sounds. Long story short, this skill lets Todo swap places with a target—a fact he quickly lets Hanami know. He then uses this ability to rapidly switch places with Itadori, throwing Hanami off balance and allowing the best friend duo to pummel the special-grade into the dirt. The episode maintains this furious energy by slowly revealing the hidden depths of Boogie Woogie. Not only can Todo switch places with an opponent …

Tree Slugger – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Nineteen) – Season’s Writings

Damn, nature, you are indeed scary. In case that previous statement wasn’t eminently know, Hanami (formerly referred to, by me, as Branch Eyes) continues to absolutely decimate the forces of Jujutsu Tech. They smack Fushiguro and Arrow Guy (still don’t remember his name) around like it was nothing, and the sheer power gap between them and Inumaki (that guy what talks magic) is enough for the rebound of the latter’s technique to take him out of commission. Oh, and did I mention that even Maki gets beaten up swiftly? Remember, she’s that sorcerer who bested two powerful opponents with ease. Plus, just for good measure, Hanami also stabbed Fushiguro with a cursed branch that threatens to destroy his body. So…yeah. I’m pretty sure this all counts as dire straights. But, what’s that? On the horizon. Why, yes, it’s those lovable best friends: Itadori and Toudou! Yep, it’s finally time to see our protagonist jump back into the fray and put his intensive, albeit brief, training to the test. Inspired by the encouragement of his best …

The Break Up – SK8 the Infinity (Episode Seven) – Season’s Writings

Well, it had been teased in the previous episodes, and everything comes to an ugly head here: Reki and Langa have officially broken up. What does this mean for our favourite skater-boy duo? I, for one, hope this is only a temporary separation because I love seeing these two skating the streets of Okinawa together. It just doesn’t seem right for them to skate alone. This week’s episode was rather significant in its goings-on compared to last week’s breather beach episode. A lot the focus here is on the slow but sure divide growing between our two leads, as Langa improves and surpasses Reki as a skater. Reki feels jealous and like Langa is leaving him behind. Langa, of course, is just having fun and loving skateboarding, blissfully unaware that the more he improves the more distance he is creating between himself and Reki. Reki goes into a bit of a depression spiral over the course of the episode trying to replicate tricks Langa had done and even chooses to not attend the reopening of …

Hurt Not the Trees – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Eighteen) – Season’s Writings

In this stage of our weekly roundup of what Jujutsu Tech students done fight who, Fushiguro and Arrow Guy rock the scene (and no, I’m still not very good with remembering these people’s names). Surprising absolutely no one, Arrow Guy uses a bow and his namesake to fight. However, he also infuses them with his own blood, a medium which he is able to manipulate due to his bloodline curse technique—an irony he himself notes. This technique allows him to kick physics to the wayside and have his arrows bend it like barbarian Beckham and hone in on his target. It’s pretty cool. On top of that, the dude’s strong. Like, punch-a-tonfa-in-half strong. It’s pretty scary. That being said, the reason behind his raw power is a tremendously creative utilisation of his technique: doping. By controlling his blood while it’s still in his body, he can manufacture the effect that is a no go in the world of sports. Simply put: the dude makes his blood carry more oxygen to his muscles, and this boosts …

A Beach Episode – SK8 the Infinity (Episode Six) – Season’s Writings

I must say, it has been quite a while since I’ve seen the classic “beach episode” anime trope pulled out by a series. SK8 the Infinity does just that here in its latest episode, which (despite feeling like a bit of a filler episode) did manage to include a few moments of importance and progression. The premise behind this week’s episode is that after the S race had been discovered by the cops, no one has been able to hit the trail since. This leads our crew to decide to go on a bit of a vacation while, hopefully, the heat on the S race and its participants dies down. They decide to head to an island off the coast of Okinawa and, as expected, some beachy shenanigans unfold. There isn’t too much remarkable to comment on here. The guys try to pick up chicks and fail spectacularly, they play beach games, mess around in the water, and just have some fun in general. However, there was a really pivotal moment in this episode. Reki …

Sister Attacked – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Seventeen) – Season’s Writings

So, in case it wasn’t clear, sorcerers are some seriously strong folk. Like, tear-down-forests strong. Also, the voracity with which they use said strength is turned up to eleven when traumatic backstories come to the surface—even if they’re not their own stories. Admittedly, this is a touch weird, but let’s call Broom Girl’s defence of Mai “character development by omission”. Sure, we still know nothing intensely personal about the flying lass, but her vehement respect for Mai shows an intense loyalty—for better or worse. Broom Girl also expressed a belief that female sorcerers are worse off than their male counterparts, as they are also required to maintain appearance in addition to strength. Kugisaki soundly doesn’t give a crap about this opinion, but I can’t say I doubt its truth. The (literally) old guard maintaining the world of sorcery are traditional to the core, which is code for saying offensively exclusionary…which is code for sexist, probably racist, and narrow-mindedly violent. So, if them wanting to kill Itadori wasn’t enough, there are some more reasons to want …

Love Thugs – SK8 the Infinity (Episode Five) – Season’s Writings

Last week’s episode of SK8 the Infinity ended with Reki being hit by Adam’s brutal Love Hug technique and being seriously injured. We open up this week’s episode with the aftermath of that chaotic S-race beef: Reki has been hospitalised and suffered head trauma and an apparent broken arm. He won’t be able to skate for the foreseeable future and, after witnessing the Love Hug firsthand, he is begging Langa to not skate against Adam. While Langa acknowledges the danger presented by Adam, there is a part of him that feels an inescapable desire to skate with him. Reki recounts that his best friend in the past was seriously injured while skateboarding and gave up skating forever, leaving behind his friendship with Reki in the process. Langa promises that, even if he falls victim to Adam, he will not stop skating. The majority of the episode from here was really about Langa training for his S race against Adam. Cherry, Joe, and Miya all chip in to advise Langa on how to potentially survive the …

Grandfather Problems – Lupin III: The First – Humble Opinions

The legend of Arsene Lupin is not one to be understated. The classic gentlemen thief has long been a public domain character, so there has been countless takes on Lupin, but perhaps none have proven to transcend the original more than Monkey Punch’s iconic Lupin III. The purported grandson of Maurice Leblanc’s Arsene Lupin, Lupin III is likewise a master of disguise and an expert thief who—along with his frequent collaborators Jigen, Goemon, and Fujiko—travels across the globe seeking his next great heist. The fully CG animated film Lupin III: The First explores the relationship between Lupin and his grandfather in a way the Lupin the Third anime series and manga never has. The film parallels Lupin’s own journey in the footsteps of his legendary grandfather with the emotional discovery of the character of Laetitia. The film’s title, The First, is of course in reference to the original Arsene Lupin, who our hero Lupin III has stylised his life and career as a thief around. We have never seen the impact his grandfather had had …

Gorilla Warfare – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Sixteen) – Season’s Writings

Panda isn’t a panda. Just thought you should know that, you know, in case you paid no attention to the dialogue in this episode. On account of it reiterating that point. A lot. Also, Panda transforms into a gorilla/panda hybrid—which is a pretty big clue that he isn’t a regular panda. Well, that and the whole able-to-speak thing. Regardless, Panda ain’t no joke; pummelling Mechamaru up and down the forest, before finishing the bout on some (now busted up) rooftops. In addition to learning just how powerful Panda is, this fight also grants us insight into him as a character. Born through sorcery, Panda houses three cores within himself—“siblings” who lend him power and the ability to alter his form—unlike the singular core found within other cursed corpses (that being the blanket term for all beings constructed through sorcery). Panda is also unique in that he has emotions and the ability to to act on them, such as when he shielded Kugisaki from Mechamaru’s attack and also got sad when Mechamaru likened him to a …

Skating Uphill – SK8 the Infinity (Episode Four) – Season’s Writings

Let me begin by saying, fuck you Adam. Not in recent memory have I felt such immediate disdain for a bad guy in anime as I do for Adam. That just makes the events of episode four of SK8 the Infinity hurt all the more. Last week’s episode ended with Reki challenging pro-skater Adam to a beef on the S race to avenge Miya, whom Adam merciless mocked. We pick up right where we left off, as both skaters agree to the terms of their S race. If Reki wins, Adam must apologize to Miya; if Adam wins, then Langa must skate with Adam. Since Langa defeated Miya in the previous episode, Adam was immediately interested in the prospects of Langa. Langa agrees to the terms, showing his confidence and faith in Reki. We learn, over the course of the episode, a few things about Adam. He is the founder of the S race and is infamous for hospitalising any skater who dares to challenge him. How does he hospitalise them, you ask? Well, he …

Asking for a Friend – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Fifteen) – Season’s Writings

You know, I have to wonder how much of this interaction was planned. Was Itadori’s entrance exam revelation about his fondness for Jennifer Lawrence the origin, or was Toudou created as an afterthought to bring that statement home? Either way, it’s pretty funny. The fact that Toudou immediately forges a deep (and fictional) bond with anyone who shares his taste in women completely derails the entire “kill Itadori” subplot and sends us…somewhere. Is it strange? Yes. But it is an unexpected payoff to a seemingly random character trait—that being Toudou’s need to ask men what their type is—that actually matters. I’d say it could be seen as a weakness of Toudou’s, shifting his allegiance at the drop of a hat, but something tells me he can sense if his opponent truly means what he says…somehow. Regardless, Itadori passed Toudou’s test and is seemingly set to receive some manner of training from his new best friend. I’m also curious to see said training, by the way, since Toudou’s declaration that Divergent Fist is a “wrong” technique …

Skating for Fun – SK8 the Infinity (Episode Three) – Season’s Writings

Skating should be fun. That is the message that is drilled home by the latest episode of SK8 the Infinity and, as a skater myself, there is no greater truth than that. Picking up where we left off last week, Langa has accepted the challenge of Chinen, the National Championship hopeful. Chinen is immediately presented as on another level, as he easily out skates Reki and Langa in a freestyle skating session. Chinen tells Langa to get his board sorted because he doesn’t want any excuses when he defeats him in the S race. After some training at a local parking garage—which I can attest is just a great spot to skate in general—Langa and Reki are chased away by local security before Reki trips over some garbage, which included a broken piece of an office chair, and he is struck with some inspiration. Reki decides to redesign the trucks on Langa’s board to have full rotational spin like the office chair wheels do. We see that Chinen is a bit stuck up and considers …

Alive and, Well… – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Fourteen) – Season’s Writings

And so, just like that, Jujutsu Kaisen turns what would normally be an emotional, heartfelt reunion into a cavalcade of jokes…and I dig it. Poor Itadori wanted his friends to cry tears of happiness when he revealed that he was, in fact, not dead (you know, from when Sukuna ripped his/Itadori’s heart out?). Unfortunately, Gojo’s attempt at ramping up the surprise to a capital “s” turns Itadori’s return into…an embarrassment. Itadori was embarrassed. His friends were embarrassed. Everyone was embarrassed. It was right embarrassing. Still, Kugisaki did well up slightly; so, they do actually care that he’s not dead. Which is nice. Playing of this reunion as a joke also allowed the series to kick right into it’s next arc with minimal delay—minus the obligatory introduction of new characters. Even that flies by pretty fast, with some simple sentences and splash screens giving us the rundown of the students from Kyoto—one of whom is a robot. I don’t know what impact that has on the lore of the series, but one of them is some sort …

Ollie Revolution – SK8 the Infinity (Episode Two) – Season’s Writings

Word travels fast in the skateboarding scene, and after the complete unknown rookie Langa defeated the champion Shadow, social media has been set abuzz about the mysterious, blue-haired skater who conquered the downhill jam of the S race. All of the skaters across Okinawa now know about Langa and, as we come to find out, that has now put a target of sorts on his back in the skateboarding world. This weeks episode focused primarily on the growing friendship between Reki and Langa, as Reki aims to teach him how to properly ride a skateboard—without having to tape his feet to the deck like he did during the S race. Langa struggles due to a number of reasons: for one, he rides goofy style, and he is mentally still set in his ways with his snowboarding background. As the episode progresses, though, we see Langa improve slowly but surely—after suffering more than his fair share of bumps and bruises. When he finally hits an ollie near the end of the episode, it was a truly …

Downhill Jam – SK8 the Infinity (Episode One) – Season’s Writings

As a skateboarder myself, I have been eagerly awaiting the premiere of SK8 the Infinity, a full-fledged skateboarding anime series. Lucky for me, SK8 the Infinity turned out to be every bit as great as I had hoped it would be. The animation, the music, the attention to detail regarding the skateboards themselves, and the way the show captures the feeling of skating so authentically were truly remarkable and noteworthy achievements to me. SK8 the Infinity follows skateboarder Reki, a young lad who works at the local skate shop Dope Sketch. Reki participates often in the local underground skateboarding race known simply and mysteriously as S, which is not unlike the Downhill Jam level in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The champion, Shadow, who looks like a rejected member of KISS, decided to completely and utterly humiliate Reki after defeating him in the S race by burning his skateboard in front of the entire crowd. So yes, Shadow is a bit of a dick. After the failure and loss, Reki comes to meet an exchange student …

Evolution and Empathy – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Thirteen) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- The Devil’s Plaything – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Thirteen) As far as body-horror beatdowns go, this is definitely one of them. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just that, after writing that first sentence, I realised that I have not seen enough body-horror beatdowns to codify them. So yeah, Mahito is one messed up curse, and he goes bunches of bananas on our two sorcerers. Dude’s got blade arms, urchin body, eye hands, and even a child form. It’s all pretty disturbing. The continued glee on Mahito’s face is also less-than-pleasing, showing that even in life-or-death situations he has no real concern or compassion for anything but himself: he is, by all accounts, a sociopath. Worse still, he has yet to reach his full potential, as being pushed to the edge by a brilliant onslaught from Itadori and Nanami allowed him to develop and employ Domain Expansion. Creepy hand motif aside, Mahito’s Domain means that his Idle Transfiguration is a guaranteed hit: guy can just straight up alter anybody’s soul against their …

Fury and Fulmination – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Twelve) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- The Anger of a Gentle Man – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Twelve) That Mahito’s a real jerk, isn’t he? Like, the kind of jerk you want to punch so hard in the face that his nose becomes an innie. Well, good news: Itadori hits him a lot. Like, a lot. Dude is pissed. Rightfully so, might I add, because Mahito up and idly transfigured Yoshino into a grotesquery, forcing him to fight Itadori. Oh, also Yoshino dies: not because of Itadori, but because Mahito was “a little rough” when forcibly altering the shape of the poor kid’s soul. So yeah, Itadori hits Mahito. And kicks Mahito. And headbutts Mahito. And throws him. And vows to kill him…which is a pretty big deal. Itadori’s own narration of the moment he snaps notes how his rage is so powerful, so primal that it makes his entire being up until that point feel like a lie: that’s some serious fury. I know we’re meant to understand that Itadori is in a rather dark place at the moment, but I’ll be …

Vitriol and Vengeance – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Eleven) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Skin Game – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Eleven) You know what type of villain is scary? A child. Seriously scary stuff. You know what’s even worse than that? An eminently powerful being with the mentality of a child. Some villains bluster about what led them down the path of evil, what event twisted their psyche until it snapped. But those with an eerie innocence? They just don’t know the difference between sanity and chaos. Whatever shiny idea floats through their mind: they latch onto it. What would happen if I ate this chocolate? Why do people like this movie so much? How far can I push a person before they do something crazy? It’s all valid; it’s all a game. Somebody standing in the way of your fun? Push them down. They get back up? Make them stay down. It’s all very frightening; it’s all very much Mahito (the villain in question, and the guy I usually refer to as Stitches…because of his stitches). See, Nanami (previously referred to, by me, as Salaryman) deduces that …

Torment and Treachery – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Ten) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Working the Soul Case – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Ten) If there’s one thing villains love, besides evil, it’s philosophising and touting the inherent truth of their personal ideals. That being said, such conversations usually don’t occur so early into meeting a villain; so, seeing the embodiment of humanity’s fear of humans having a relaxing chat with a student is interesting, to say the least. Naturally, a being whose entire existence is owed to fear and hatred has a less-than-positive opinion on humans. The clinical manner in which this being discusses distorting people’s bodies is unnerving, as is the overall jovial tone of its voice. Salaryman (whose name I still don’t remember) even compares the curse with Gojo, noting their childlike simplicity and the tremendous power said personality conceals. Also, the state of the humans this being (who I’ll call Stitches from now on) contorts continues to horrify: not content with the ability to twist and stretch, Stitches has taken it upon themselves to test the limits of their power. You know, seeing how big …

Bane and Bravery – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Nine) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- All Work and No Play – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Nine) And so Jujutsu Kaisen finally deals with one of the most horrific subjects: going to the movies (*lightning crash sound effect*). Okay, so it maybe isn’t for the same reasons that people are avoiding the movies (an other public gatherings) in the year 2020, but my point stands. Although, global situations would be on the back of anybody’s mind if they saw three high school students who had their heads contorted much in the same way a three-year-old child plays with Play-Doh. It’s…not a pretty sight. I mean, the students in question were jerks who beat up a kid and made him eat a cigarette butt—in the hopes of letting them “bang” an equally cruel classmate of theirs—but they still probably didn’t deserve to have their skulls crushed like an empty can. The fact that we know anything about these jerks is due to our insight into Fringe (that isn’t his name, I just haven’t remembered it yet…and he has a fringe). As the one …

Desire and Dishonour – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Eight) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Beat and Greet – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Eight) Pop quiz, hotshot: what’s the best way to show that a new character is powerful? Have them beat up a character who is already established as powerful. What’s the best way to establish that a new character isn’t the friendliest tool in the crayon box? Have them beat up a character who is already established as (mostly) likeable. Enter Toudou: a big, buff badass from the only other jujutsu school in Japan, and the kind of person who pummels somebody half to death because he disagrees in their preferences in women. So…a strange guy. Also, what is it with Jujutsu Kaisen and characters proclaiming their type of woman? I know it’s only happened twice, but it happened very aggressively both times. S’weird. Regardless, Toudou’s absolute walloping of Fushiguro clearly shows that he is one tough customer—some added exposition explaining that he is already capable of taking down a special-grade. Moreover, it is only when versing a special-grade that Toudou even bothers to use cursed techniques, seemingly relying …

Endlessness and Exclusion – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Seven) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- The Space Between – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Seven) Well, job done, we know what Gojo looks like under his blindfold: pretty. I’m not to proud to admit it, dude’s got eyes you can literally get lost in; he can make the world around you fade away. It sounds like a fan fiction; however, it’s actually terrifying. Apparently, Gojo can control the infinity that exists between objects—or something to that effect—making it so that attacks never actually make contact with him. Certainly a boon in battle, it also makes it so that Gojo can stand on water, block enemy blood from sullying his form (like a magic windshield), and possibly warp (though that may be a separate power). Oh, Gojo is also really tough, like, he no sells every attack that Volcano Head throws his way. Though we certainly knew that Gojo was tough, seeing him effortlessly combat an opponent we expected to be powerful is…awesome. It’s also more than a little cathartic, considering that Volcano Head is an arrogant jerk and also immolated an …

Conditions, Crocodiles, and Cats – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Six) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- The Bear Minimum – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Six) So, Itadori isn’t dead. Spoilers. Surprise. Fooled you. Well, maybe; chances are you thought he was coming back. Regardless, he’s alive and now secretly contracted to allow Sukuna one minute of freedom at the utterance of a specific word; however, Itadori has no memory of said deal—as per Sukuna’s additional condition. Still, as frightening as this sounds, Sukuna promised not to use his minute of freedom to harm or kill another being—the obvious lack of trust being mitigated by the apparent punishments that arise from breaking an agreed-upon pact. What a nice guy. Still, potentially dangerous or not, this development is largely pushed aside for Itadori’s real-world mission: learning how to used cursed energy. Though played mostly for goofs—and as an opportunity to throw in a few Shonen references—the intricacies of utilising cursed energy are actually pretty interesting. With cursed energy relying on negative emotions, jujutsu sorcerers must learn to utilise the faintest traces of these feelings to power their techniques, whilst also maintaining emotional stability …

Gloom, Guts, and Generosity – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Five) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Heart Attack – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Five) Well, we were promised a death. Who would’ve thought it was (stop reading if you haven’t watched the episode yet) Itadori. Okay, there is a chance that he isn’t dead—a very large chance—but let’s just play this out like his death is permanent. And what a way to go it was: having your heart torn out of your chest. Yikes. You know, I’m starting to think Sukuna is a bad guy. Unfortunately, he is also clever. As heinous an act as it is, removing Itadori’s heart to prevent him regaining control of his body is genius. We know Itadori can freely subdue Sukuna’s control, so artificial boundaries needed to be established. Sukuna’s actions also showcase just how powerful his will to persist is. We don’t know why or how Sukuna was split apart and imprisoned, but I expect that is an experience he is not too keen to return to…which probably means he wasn’t happy when Itadori killed them both. Sure, Sukuna said he could revive using …

Terror, Trees, and Truth – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Four) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- A Face of Evil – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Four) Have you ever thought a situation was going to be bad, only to be proven wrong because everything was actually worse? That’s this episode in a nutshell. After being summoned to rescue five people unable to evacuate in time from something pleasantly known as a “curse womb”, our trio de protagonists find themselves way out of their depth. To be fair, such a scenario is fairly common in this world, apparently, and sorcerers are often forced to deal with curses far stronger than themselves. But hey, nobody said the logistics of fighting creatures beyond the ken of mortals would be easy…not that that reality is comforting in anyway. Still, pitting three first-year students against a special-grade curse is apparently an occurrence as rare as it is dangerous—and it is very dangerous. Yet, despite the intensity of the situation, this is a solid element of world building. Sure our leads can be thrown into terrifying situations, but knowing it is not an entirely unique scenario makes …

Salutations, Shame, and Subscribers – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Three) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Meeting Is Such Bitter Joy – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Three) In this episode, our duo (trio if you count Blindfold) becomes a trio (quartet if you count Blindfold). Side note: I still don’t know Blindfold’s name off the top of my head. Regardless, our lead characters are joined by a girl from the countryside who just makes the most charming first impression. Side note: I am being very sarcastic. From the second she is introduced, Nobara (I looked up her name) makes all manner of assumptions based solely on how Yuji and Fushiguro introduce themselves. Though abrasive, people aren’t generally chummy with everybody they’ve met for all of ten seconds; so, realistically, it tracks. What confuses me, however, is the fact that Nobara’s entire backstory revolves around her hatred for the people of her hometown, whose judgemental nature drove her friend to move away. Again, human nature is fickle, but boy does it set up a contradictory meeting. Nobara does show moments of joviality, geeking out with Yuji about the highlights of the big …

Competition, Coups, and Chronology – Fall Anime 2020 (Week Two) – Season’s Writings

-Kane-  A Reason to Die – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode Two) If there was one thing I would not expect to come after chowing down on a demonic finger, it would be seconds. Yep, it looks like Yuji’s decision to ingest Sukuna’s finger is set to take him on a demonically gourmet quest: to eat the other nineteen fingers. Oh, Sukuna had four arms, by the by, hence the twenty digits. Double oh, Yuji already ate a second one to prove his resolve—and his ability to actually serve as a vessel. Essentially, Blindfold convinced the Council of Scared Old-Fashioned Guys to hold off on executing Yuji until he has eaten all of Sukuna’s fingers, as killing a vessel kills the curse within them. It’s not the worst plan, and it’ll definitely make the series last longer than if they killed him right now. I’m certain we’ll eventually learn why Yuji is so special, and it’ll probably have to do with the parents that his grandfather kept attempting to discuss, but that’s a chat for a later …

Drums, Dragons, and Demons – Fall Anime 2020 (Week One) – Season’s Writings

-Kane- Finger Food – Jujutsu Kaisen (Episode One) On the long list of things I would never do with the severed body part of an ancient being, eating it would be pretty dang high up there. Though I suppose that’s why I’m not the one imbued with the power of a curse powerful enough to be labelled a “special threat” even when correctly stored. So yes, much like Blue Dragon, Jujutsu Kaisen seems like it will follow the story of somebody who decided that consumption is nine-tenths the law of the jungle. Though definitely an unexpected turn in the grand scheme of things, the series sort of tipped its hand when Yuji asked why anything would try to eat a cursed object—in this case a severed finger—only to be told that doing so would grant the consumer tremendous power. Still, it was decidedly cool to see somebody oblivious of the potential dangers turn the opponents strategy against them—the “opponents” in this case being horrific abominations known as Curses. There is also certainly a greater reason for Yuji’s …

The Fight is Won – The God of High School (Episode Thirteen) – Season’s Writings

When a villain begins their diatribe against the very notion of existence, you know you’ve reached the final act. If, for some reason, said monologue does not convince you, the spontaneous arrival of a hero’s true power should assuage any doubts. Now, as to whether you actually care about any of these events…well, that depends on every moment prior; on how much you’ve come to care for each character through their adventures; on how much the world was built out around them. Without that care, well, even a spectacle can be boring. So…The God of High School didn’t make me care. Harsh, but, if anyone has been reading my ramblings, not unexpected. I’ll say it again: I don’t like dunking on a series, I really don’t. But man, I just never connected to this series on any decent level. Sure, the fights were cool, but I just didn’t care beyond the visuals. Take this episode for example—because that’s the one we’re talking about—it featured a transcended human fighting a physical god…and it meant nothing. It’s …

The Devil, You Know? – The God of High School (Episode Twelve) – Season’s Writings

They say that all good things must come to an end. What they don’t say is how cataclysmic said end may be. Now, I’m all about reducing human experiences into easy-to-understand phrases, but maybe add an addendum or two: all good things must come to an end, but be sure to stand outside of the blast radius of the incoming ballistic missiles that are going to do the ending. Something like that. So, it would seem we have hit the endgame of this series. Well, the part just before the endgame, since I believe there is still one episode left. I kind of hope there’s one episode left. Not because I’m champing at the bit for more God of High School, but because this particular segment of story is woefully underdeveloped—even by this series’ standards. I feel like such a jerk for constantly railing on this series, but it encapsulates my thoughts after walking away from every episode. And since that has been my experience every episode, even the apocalyptic stakes of this latest fight mean …

The Once-Bitten – The God of High School (Episode Eleven) – Season’s Writings

They say that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Now, while that sounds really cool and poetic, it essentially boils down to this: people are big, dumb scaredy cats. People get stuff, want to keep stuff, and fight the possibility of losing their stuff. Unfortunately, this mentality apparently also extends to the universe’s boss, the head man, the top dog, the big cheese, the head honcho, number one: G-to-the-O-to-the-D. Sufficed to say, things get serious when that guy gets frightened…and then orders the death of his closest ally. So yeah, apparently The Key is the charyeok of a being so powerful that the actual God utilised it as a protector. Also, Why can’t we watch that story play out? I mean, in the span of a single cold open I feel I know more about the world eons ago than the one I’ve been watching for the past eleven episodes. Even so, the concept of a being who wants revenge on God lending their power to a human sounds awesome…so why has it taken …

The Key to Success – The God of High School (Episode Ten) – Season’s Writings

The key to crafting an effective conflict—much like slaying a vampire—is stakes. For an audience to be emotionally invested, they must know what is on the line. If the heroes lose, the world ends—or something to that effect. It also helps if the audience knows both sides of a conflict. True, mystery can increase the threat of an opponent, but that still leaves one side that must be thoroughly explored. Without any of these factors, simply put, nobody cares. If there’s one thing The God of High School loves, it’s avoiding consequences. Throughout its entire run, every time a fight would have a solid impact on the story, it is side stepped. This week’s juke sees us learn of Ilpyo’s motivation for joining GOH. Long story short, Taek busted up the leg of one of Ilpyo’s friends—preventing her from ever fighting again. So, Ilpyo wants to win and wish her back to fighting form. Simple. Unfortunately, he is fighting Team Seoul (a.k.a. our protagonists). So, how do we root for our leads when their victory means …

The Spirit of a Warrior – The God of High School (Episode Nine) – Season’s Writings

When arranging an all-styles-allowed fighting tournament, one must abide by certain rules; without them, chaos would reign. The key is focusing the near-mortal combat to a well-lit arena—one where the whole family can watch the violence. Without production value, a tournament becomes nothing more than brawl, and that doesn’t line anybody’s pockets—with money or wishes that are potentially from actual gods. The arena also probably has to meet certain building codes; wouldn’t want a fighter accidentally hurting themselves when suplexing an opponent, with the intent to render them unconscious or worse. No, the violence has to be intentional; otherwise, what’s the point? It’s a trap! That’s what that guy from Star Wars says, right? Well, nobody in The God of High School says that…like, ever. Most events that have surrounded our main cast have, indeed, been traps; you think someone would’ve caught on by now. Regardless, Mori rushes to save his grandfather—who has been captured by the evil church—and discovers that his grandfather was actually a bomb…and also not his grandfather. Luckily—for both Mori and the series—point-blank …

Trouble at the Tournament – Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac (Galaxian Wars Arc) – Humble Opinions

For the first time ever, the complete original run of the Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac anime series has been released in full English dub—thanks to Netflix. That’s right, all 114 original episodes—which aired from 1986 to 1989—are now available to English language audiences completely uncut and with restored visuals and audio. The series has previously seen release in heavily edited formats, such as the ADV Films dub which retitled the series as Knights of the Zodiac and commissioned punk band Bowling for Soup to cover A Flock of Seagull’s 80s hit “I Ran (So Far Away)” for the theme song. The dub was widely criticised for being almost unrecognisable from the original series—with its plentiful alterations and censorship. Having no legal manner in which to watch the series, many English speaking fans had to resort to fansubs; not anymore. As a long-time fan of the Saint Seiya series and franchise, I decided to give the Netflix dub a spin and found myself amazed at its production quality and incredible dubbing effort. As such, …

The Calm Before the Storm – The God of High School (Episode Eight) – Season’s Writings

Running is cool; it’s like walking, except you get places faster. Still, there is the little thing where you get tired way faster and you have to catch your breath—which is ironic considering that you were just running. Does that mean your breath runs faster than you? and if it does, then why do you have to slow down to catch it? That’s some backwards ass thinking if you ask me, but apparently it’s the way things work; so, whatever. In this vein, a series sometimes just needs a moment to chill, breathe easy, and calmly present the story it wishes to tell…then it can get back to throwing bodies into a meat grinder masquerading as a tournament. For what seems like the first time since The God of High School started, this episode eases up on the titular tournament—and is all the stronger for it. Without barrelling towards the next match, the story actually had a chance to unfurl. I imagine it as akin to having a balled up piece of paper thrown at …

The New Normal – The God of High School (Episode Seven) – Season’s Writings

Chekov’s gun states that if you show something within a story—a weapon/power/ability—it must be used within said story; to present it otherwise is pointless. The God of High School states that if you show something within a story—charyeok—you must use it at every given opportunity and just, you know, go nuts with it. In fact, you don’t even need to show it earlier in the story: just chuck it in and wreck shop. This approach is also aided by not really establishing what the rules of the story are; who needs ’em, anyway? Speaking of rules, the God of High School remains true to its titular foundation: fighters must be high schoolers. However, the rules apparently do not limit said participants to those on their first run through high school. This technicality allows us to meet Jin Pum Kwang, a thirty-eight-year-old worker who has taken it upon himself to see through the education he once bailed on. On its own, this is a pretty admirable endeavour, and his wish upon winning GOH is to help …

The Conventional Wisdom – The God of High School (Episode Six) – Season’s Writings

They say that God moves in mysterious ways…what they neglected to mention is that there are a plethora of pantheons all bearing powers beyond mortal ken, some of whom really enjoy a good scrap. I mean, plenty of people enjoy watching a regulated fight for the purposes of entertainment; very few of them bestow otherworldly powers upon high schoolers for nebulous reasons. I mean, I imagine few of them could, but that’s besides the point. The point is…be responsible with your imbuing of forces humankind were not meant to wield? Yeah…that sounds good. We have confirmation, folks! An in-universe—partially off-screen—explanation regarding what the holy hell is going on. The long and short of it being: some people are able to tap into the realm of the gods and borrow power. Said fact is also the entire reason for the God of High School tournament, with Mujin seeking out others who can wield these godly abilities. I say “others” because, well, he obviously flattened that island in the first episode. I mean, we all knew it; …

The Moment of Truth – The God of High School (Episode Five) – Season’s Writings

In a competition: everybody wants to win. I mean, it wouldn’t really be a competition if people weren’t competing. Still, that doesn’t mean that everybody is competing for the same reason. Sure the prize may be a singular goal, but what it means to the contestants may differ; when these ideals clash, things can get messy. This is especially true when said competition involves knock-down, drag-out rumblin’. Okay…I’m not really sure where to start with this one. Though the drama of two friends clashing is always dramatic, it helps when said friends are…friends. Though it’s true that Daewi and Mori have been friendly with each other since they met, the two haven’t really spent that much time together—at least not that we’ve seen. They helped Mira find her sword and also helped Mira escape her ill-fated wedding…so, now that I think about it, their entire friendship has revolved around helping Mira. And in case that wasn’t clear, the memories that Daewi recalls about Mori and Mira—when told they’re friends—are those two moments…because they’re the only …

The Big Day – The God of High School (Episode Four) – Season’s Writings

Everybody dreams. Whether in the sense of an idea that you wish to see achieved or a series of abstract thoughts that coalesce in your sleep, everybody dreams. We will be discussing the the awake kind; in fact, we most often are when it comes to anime. “I want to be the best!” “I want to save the world!” Every protagonist worth their salt is striving towards something, otherwise it would make for a very short series. However, there are times when bull-headed stubbornness is not as noble a sentiment as oblivious protagonists make it seem. Damning the consequences to protect something you hold dear, for example, means nothing if you damn yourself in the process. Not to start this off on a downbeat, but I wish to lay clear my biggest gripe with this episode: it should not have been one episode. So much character development is crammed into such a short period of time; it just doesn’t carry the weight it should. Almost immediately we are confronted by a man skidding his car …

The Powers That Be – The God of High School (Episode Three) – Season’s Writings

Wheresoever fighters gather, ideals shall clash…like, in the metaphorical sense; most of the clashing will be done with fists and weapons. Still, everybody has their own motivation for their actions; their own justification for what they do. They may sound right, wrong, smart, stupid, outdated, or just plain weird; but, they make sense to the person spouting them. Unfortunately for most, they aren’t protagonists—which sort of means that their purpose will often fall short. I mean, if the protagonist’s mind wasn’t the one we were meant to understand then we wouldn’t be given the most insight into it. Right? Following his rule-violating beatdown of Manseok, our impetuous lead, Mori, has found himself in hot water…not that he seems to care. Though the God of High School has been touted as a life-changing event, Mori has only shown interest in fighting people; we know nothing of his wish. Also, allowing Gamdo to get pummelled into oblivion would’ve made Mori a pretty lousy lead character. Though I do understand each character possesses their own desire to win, …

The Battle of Wills – The God of High School (Episode Two) – Season’s Writings

Fighting for sport is an interesting conundrum. Though the aim of the game is to see competitors go all out with their respective talents, the line of excess is much lower than in a real fight. You know, because you’re not actually trying to maim or kill your opponent. So, as pure a rule as “the match will not end until one participant is knocked out or gives up” may sound, it leaves a lot of grey area. Case in point: what happens when one fighter refuses to yield? Or worse, what happens when one fighter will not let the other yield? As it turns out, the answer to my question is a lot of bodily harm—broken bones to be specific. You see—having comedically jumped past the climactic clash that ended last week’s episode—we are given witness to the next round of combat, and it is not exactly pretty. Though we blast through a few bouts featuring characters who will undoubtedly become important as the story unfolds—such as wrestling girl and glasses boy—our main focus …

The Fight Is On! – The God of High School (Episode One) – Season’s Writings

If what movies have taught me is true, fights are standard fare at any high school. Be it a disagreement about money, an insult directed at a friend, or an attempt to prove one’s toughness: somebody is going to get hit. However, such paltry altercations have no place in an anime such as this—no, this is where the fighting gets serious. Suspend, if you will, your disbelief regarding the legal ramifications of allowing high schoolers to perform violent martial arts on one another. Have you done it? Have you suspended that disbelief? Good, because what follows is the beginning of a story in which it is apparently possible for a bicycle to keep pace with a motorcycle; a tale where normally fatal injuries are naught but an inconvenience; a show where nanomachines are used to gamify violence. So, you know, an anime. So, cards on the table, I’ve been excited for The God of High School since I saw its trailer. Smooth visuals, a badass soundtrack: what wasn’t to love? And, one episode in, I …

Two For All – My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising – Humble Opinions

What can be said about My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising without spoiling the plot in its entirety? Nothing, so buckle up for a slew of words that detail every single thing I found to be cool in this second film outing for the series I love oh so much. Fair warning, I am just going to write this as it pours out of my head; so, literacy be damned, this is about fun…and cool…and cool fun…and punching things really, really hard…with a film budget. As is apparently the case, My Hero loves throwing Class 1-A onto islands when it needs a film set piece. I don’t know why. Maybe so they can wreck shop and not impact mainland Japan? You could argue that it’s so Pro Heroes aren’t as readily available, but that only applies to this film, since the first took place on an island that had literally just called a bunch of extra Heroes to it. Regardless, Class 1-A is on an island, helping out the locals as part of their training. With …

Heard Feelings – Bryce Papenbrook – Waxing Inquisitive

During Anime Festival Sydney 2020, I was fortuitous enough to sit down and chat with Bryce Papenbrook. Known throughout the dubbing world for his roles in, well, most things, Bryce explained the nuances of voicing characters who have already received such a treatment in Japanese. More than producing a similar performance, he focused on the importance of translating the emotions behind the voice. One may understand the intention behind dialogue presented in a tongue not their own, but to feel it is a visceral sensation granted by knowing the language spoken. That isn’t to discourage linguistically branching out, merely acknowledge what adaptational performances can bring. Simply put: We can all enjoy what we love, and love what we enjoy. And that’s nice. -30-

Theatre of the Voice – Ricco Fajardo and David Matranga – Waxing Inquisitive

During Anime Festival Sydney 2020, I was lucky enough to be able to sit down and talk with Ricco Fajardo and David Matranga. Known for their work in dubbing, they were more than happy to discuss their experiences and the overall process itself. That being said, the discussion of how dubbing relates to both theatre and the study of dialogue itself presented a unique insight beyond the trappings of booth recording. Were time not so limited, I would’ve loved to carry on this train of thought, as it goes to show just how much goes into bringing the characters we all know and love to life; a second time to us, but also a first. Which is pretty darn cool when you think about it. -30-