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World of Keiko 2019/09/02

This week’s posts:

I manage to post at least one of the anime reviews on the backlog of finished anime. I also watched a lot of other anime over the span of the last week. It has been a lot of fun and I’ve come across some older shows that I would have otherwise overlooked. The large amount of shows I’ve been watching has also been a good study in both comedic and romantic elements. Whilst some of the material may not be the style that I intend to write, I can see the reasons behind specific plot choices.
Stories are not necessarily meant to reflect real life. In most cases, they are meant purely to entertain or to elicit another emotional response. There is also a series of elements that I am amused by in stories. Hubby dislikes many of these elements, suggesting that many of the characters within such series should be hit repeatedly with a frying pan. You see, he prefers the blunt approach. (pun intended?) To him, some of the drama feels unnecessarily forced. The criticism reminds me of how many people complain that jump scares are overused in modern horror series instead of setting the mood and creating tension. I can certainly understand where he is coming from, but taste is subjective because it is personal. Anyone that suggests another person’s opinion is “wrong”, as one relative stated some years ago, doesn’t understand that it is subjective.

I actually had a pretty productive week of writing-related activities this past week. Whilst I did jot down a few new ideas, some of the Party Time stories got some love. Fleshing out the back story of the character that ties a lot of the stories together also led to me discovering a new character in the process. Shipping ensued, resulting in me realising that he was the missing thread needed to complete her story. Agatha is a character whose past has a big impact on how she views

Well, it appears that upcoming league for Path of Exile, named Blight, will be implementing some promising changes to the game. With this in mind, I’ve decided to play it. I won’t be clocking in as many hours compared to when I played Delve league at the end of last year, but I am interested to see how the changes play out. I will likely be playing a toon that uses curses to take down foes, based on a build that hubby started playing with a few leagues ago.

A bunch of tomatoes, radishes, a rockmelon and my three zucchini plants are all beginning to flower. Whilst tomatoes were beginning to flower more than a week ago, I wasn’t expecting the rockmelon or zucchini to start flowering this early due to how small the plants are. As for the radishes, I’ve been waiting to see some in flower in person ever since I saw some radish flowers on a google image search. It turned out that those delicate, light purple flowers are some of the most precious vegetable flowers I will likely see in the garden.
I have also identified wood sorrel growing in the garden and yard. A lot of folks mistake the leaves for clover, but the heart-shaped leaves are not a clover. Wood Sorrel, like most sorel plants, is high in oxalic acid, resulting in a citrusy tang. And to think that this yummy plant that used to be a part of the European diet is now regarded by many as a weed. I also started some common sorrel from a pack of sprouts seeds. I really look forward to seeing the perennial plant thriving in the garden.
The Cress, rainbow chard mix and a host of other plants are doing well.
Unfortunately for me, the bigger of the two pumpkin fruit had to be harvested at a small size due to the vine finally dying off. As for the other fruit, an animal pecked a big hole which led to it splitting horizontally. It is a little sad, but I suppose it is time to consider starting some seeds from a smaller, sweeter variety of pumpkin that I purchased a few months ago. A smaller variety will likely result in sooner harvests as it typically takes time for smaller varieties to ripen.
I still haven’t got around to sourcing mulch from the tip or in preparing more growing space due to feeling tired and sore for most of the week. I really need to get it done before I lose my window. It is getting noticeably hotter now and it won’t be long before we start needing either the fan or air conditioner to keep our sanity. I wish that I was fitter but it is a work in progress.

I did my first workout in nearly a year on Tuesday. It wasn’t much, but that short period on the treadmill caused issues for most of the week. I need to find a way to ease back into exercise without wrecking myself. I am not entirely sure. Perhaps I should just do a smaller amount of sets, with more exercises to round things out, then increase the intensity when I get fitter and healthier. I have been thinking about the problem for days. I need to do something in order to meet my goals, but my starting point makes thing tricky.
Maybe I will just do more yard work and implement other lifestyle exercises to include more physical activity. If I had a pushbike, it would enable me to visit some friends in the area. That would be one way of including lifestyle exercise that also enables more socialisation. Perhaps I should petition for some of the budget to be allocated for that purpose. I could also start riding the motorbike again. I need to learn how to ride it and I know that I was covered in sweat every other time I’ve ridden it…

Thanks for stopping by to see what I’ve been up to. If you haven’t already read the posts for this week, feel free to check out the links at the beginning of this entry. Anyway, I leave you with the following song by Sam Padrul:

Be sure to check out more of Sam Padrul’s music!


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Anime Review: Amagi Brilliant Park

Alternate Names: Amaburi
Year: 2014
Episodes: 12 + 1 bonus story (English dub version)
Genre: Fantasy, Comedy. Magic, Drama, Romance

For some time, I kept seeing references to a series called Amagi Brilliant Park in various anime recommendation lists. Whilst in some cases the reviews were low-energy, I found a couple that suggested that the series might include comedy that I would be entertained by. With that in mind, I roped my husband into watching it with me. And holy crap, I am glad that I did!

When Seiya Kanie is forced at muzzle point to go on a date with new girl Isuzu Sento, he discovers that the dilapidated theme park that she takes him on the date is home to a bunch of magical creatures that live off of the joy of visitors. Asked to take over as park manager, the former child star (and resident narcissist) is reluctant at first but decides to help in order to save the theme park. However, it is better said than done when the employees cause more problems than they fix. Seiya has to contend with deviant mascots, useless fairies and a host of other annoyances.

The artwork is solid, with neat linework and colouration. The character designs don’t try to reinvent the wheel but still do a good job of looking visually interesting and attractive. This is coupled with good set design that provides a sizable playground for shenanigans to occur. Whether it is a dragon hanging out in a faux-dungeon or Moffle’s mousy battleground, Amagi feels like a magical theme park. Ridiculous and silly at times, sure, but magical nonetheless. We also see the magical nature of the offworlders come through in various other ways, such as some of the staff using illusory trinkets to pretend they are human when they are off work.
As mentioned above, this series is a comedy. Whilst it is set in a theme park that is inhabited by magical entities, the situations and adult references are geared for an older audience. The plushie characters turn the idea of a cute and innocent furry on the head with the three primary mascots being middle-aged perverts prone to either acts of violence or over-the-top pranks. Yes, they are still plushies, just perverts with either womanising (re: Macaron the sheep and Tiramy the pink dog) or sis-con tendencies (re: Moffle the primary mascot). A lot of the humour comes about because of the antics of Macaron and Tiramy in particular, with the violent Moffle being tame in comparison. This makes for some entertaining scenes that integrate well into the primary story arcs.
The characterisation is awesome, with each character being given a chance to shine (or fanny about) over the span of those thirteen episodes. Each character managed to feel unique as well, without seeming like filler. For the magical characters, the over-the-top lunacy shows just how weird magical creatures are. That being said, outsourcing human astronauts for the customer and retail service sector does seem like an odd choice. But hey, I’m not Seiya.
The story itself relies on a ticking clock, wherein the theme park must bring in 500k customers before mid-year otherwise it will be shut down. This is also aggravated by the circumstances of Princess Latifah. Throughout the several months in which the series takes place, we see a host of shenanigans wherein Seiya and his employees must deal with economic problems, supply chain issues, marketing and otherworldly pirate attacks. It comes together in a charming manner that still makes me grin like an idiot at the recollection. Unlike Bethesda products, this series does work.

In conclusion, this is one of the better comedy anime series out there if you want something targetted for an older audience. It hasn’t knocked Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun off of the podium but is pretty damn close. I can also see myself rewatching it again soon. With that in mind, hurry up and watch the first episode already!

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Anime Review: Hunter x Hunter (1999-2001) Vs Hunter x Hunter (2011-2014)

Alternate Names: Tate no Tuusha no Nariagari
Year: 1999-2001 Vs 2011-2014
Episodes: A LOT (English dub version)
Genre: Shounen, Science Fiction, Martial Arts, Action, Adventure, Drama

I don’t usually do comparative reviews, but I decided to make an exception for the two series of Hunter X Hunter. Both series showed how simple changes can alter how you see a situation. That being said, I adored both series because of how solid the plot, characterisation, drama and world-building played out over the span of more than 200 episodes. Whilst I will try to avoid specifics, I apologise for any spoilers over the span of this comparative review.

Hunter X Hunter follows Gon Freecss as he navigates the world of Hunters in the hopes of connecting with his long-lost father, Ging Freecss. A hunter license gives qualified individuals a bunch of perks, including access to a hunter-only job board. However, it isn’t all fun and adventure. Gon soon comes face to face with numerous perils, including several that will irrevocably affect the known world.

The newer version of this series is a retelling that changes his background. the starting point of the series, adds a bit more detail to certain scenes as well as including two more story arcs. The new series begins with Gon about to do the qualification test for the Hunter license instead of the starter point where a chance meeting with a hunter named Kite sends him down a rabbit hole of sorts in order to find his father. His father’s cousin, who Gon refers to as Aunt Mito, has raised him. Whilst in the original version she runs an inn alongside her mother, we see her working on the docks of their small fishing community in the newer of the two series. A few scenes are provided with further context ahead of the Greed Island, Chimera Ant and 13th Hunter Chairman Election arcs that were absent in the original series which got abruptly cut off in 2001 at the conclusion of the Yorknew City arc. On top of these changes, the newer series also updates some aspects to be in line with modern technology. At the end of the newer series, the scale of their world is revealed in dramatic fashion, almost reminding me of the scene at the end of the film Men in Black.

Now that the differences are out of the way, below is a list of what you can expect from both series:

The artwork is a mixture of different styles, ranging from the Astroboy-like and Pokemon-esque appearance of Gon to the bishounen appearance of Kirapika. This includes some Dragonball Z inspiration for some of the character designs in the Chimera Ant arc. The linework is crisp and the colouration provides good contrast. Along with this, the settings are a mix of cityscapes and lush wilderness that provides a stark contrast to some of the darker aspects of this series.
Hunter X Hunter is a series that dares to show the darker side of humanity, with Gon being confronted with harsh reality. Unfortunately for Gon, there is rarely black and white. Whilst he wants people to care about each other equally, humans form into groups and we tend to favour groups that we associate with. This simplistic view is both charming and foolish. On top of this, we see the huge power disparity between Gon and many of the foes that the twelve-year-old and his allies deal with during the span of both series. An example is the Phantom Troupe, an organisation that killed and took the eyes of Kirapika’s entire family. Each one of the members could easily kill him and child assassin Killua. That being said, Gon brings his heightened senses and stealth to bear on numerous occasions.
The world-building for this series is somewhat unique, in that we cannot rely on our modern forms of fairness because the various nations don’t provide safety nets. Organised crime is a big deal, and a lot of people have to rely on their wits and luck to survive in a lot of regions. Even the Hunter Association is questionable at best, survivability being favoured over morality and ethics. This further demonstrates the nature of the world in which Gon and his friends live, where looking out for number one is a strategy for staying alive. That being said, there are glimpses of kindness and joy that act as a candle in the dark.
The power set provided by the chi-like martial arts system allows more room for escalation of threats on top of basic martial arts techniques. This gives a lot of room for weird and wonderful powers that the characters contend with. Whether it is poetry power words, chains of imprisonment or puppet-mastery of assassination, we see a world filled with the many tools that can be used to harm as well as protect.
As eluded to earlier, the characters are heavily shaped by the world around them. This provides a level of complexity to a lot of the characters that often shown through subtext. In the case of the enigmatic psychopath Hisoka, we also see that many of the characters think dozens of steps down the line in order to create the desired result. And our heroes are allowed to fail on a regular basis, showing the ramifications of not dealing with a threat. People do die on occasion, such as several during the Hunter License test. Whilst the Chimera Ant arc wavered a bit in this regard, we see how good writing can create a logical solution to deal with foes that would otherwise win.

In conclusion, both series are worth watching. That being said, I recommend that you watch the newer series instead which also includes three extra story arcs and drops you into the thick of it with the Hunter Test arc. This places an appropriate focus instead on life outside of the safe haven that is the small island in which he was raised by his Aunt Mito. So, if you are a shounen fan that hasn’t already checked out either series, it is time to do so!

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Anime Review: The Rise of the Shield Hero Season 1

Alternate Names: Tate no Tuusha no Nariagari
Year: 2019
Episodes: 25 (English dub version)
Genre: Isekai, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Drama

I first came across The Rise of the Shield Hero by chance when Crunchyroll released the first episode. Intrigued, I started delving into the manga as I knew it would be some time before the next episode came out. Over the next day, I binge-read all of the available chapters. The plot, world-building and characterisation got me hook, line and sinker. The following contains my thoughts on the first season that was released earlier this year. I apologise for any spoilers contained within my review.

The story tells of a young man named Naofumi Iwatami whose parents have allowed him to live as a shut-in after he helps get his brother onto the straight and narrow. During a visit to a local library, he comes across a strange book pertaining to The Four Cardinal Heroes and is promptly sucked into it. Awakening from being summoned to another world with a peculiar game interface, Naofumi quickly learns that he is one of the four cardinal heroes known as the shield hero. He is soon wrongly accused of rape by the eldest princess of the realm, leading to numerous revelations about the kingdom of Melromarc. With the help of a Raccoon-girl named Raphtalia and a Filolial girl he raises from a chick, the party quickly uncover both a threat within the kingdom and some clues as to the nature of the various waves that the cardinal heroes are trying to halt.

The artwork for this series is pretty solid, with solid linework and rich colouration of both character and setting which reflects the source material. These provided necessary contrast and differentiation between people and places without feeling out of place. Whilst the artwork wasn’t to the heights of masterpieces such as Violet Evergarden, it doesn’t need to be. Instead, it focuses on telling a story about people in a screwed up situation.
The characterisation was solid, with the especially-interesting protagonist who has a heart of gold beneath that understandably hardened exterior. He has a lot of anger there, and with good reason. Being accused of something that he considers a heinous act, to begin with, also provides him with the motivation to problem-solve through issues that only somebody isolated by society would be forced to contend with. Naofumi still manages to show moments of love and kindness to the likes of Raphtalia, who shares her own traumatic past. This contrasts with the flippant personalities of the three other cardinal heroes who have much of their wants and needs delivered on a silver platter up until >spoilers<. We also see the interesting point about how appearances can be deceiving, such as the case of Princess Malty of Malromarc. To understand the character of a person, we must dig deeper.
The setting where the story predominantly takes place is an awesome one to play in. We see how the religious and political elements of Melromarc inevitably create problems for Naofumi and the demihumans in his party. His first connection to Raphtalia is through a slave trader, just as an example. The royal family is a mess, with an angsty father being manipulated by his eldest daughter whilst his wife is away on a diplomatic mission. Malty and her father are characters that most will hate a lot more than the forces attacking the world in which they reside. The religion of the kingdom has a huge part to play in the situation of Naofumi and his companions. These various elements build upon each other to make for a complex and compelling story.
The plot itself might not be unique by the standards of an Isekai fan such as myself. However, it is how these elements are brought together that makes all of the difference. Whilst being brought to the world is a big deal, it can be argued that the false accusation against Naofumi is the inciting incident that changes the protagonist in a dramatic fashion. His view of the world around him, that feeling that he is fighting for people that need his help, is tipped on its head as he realises that heroes sometimes protect those that see their salvation as trash. There are numerous other realisations as well, but this is a big one. The twists that we see throughout the first season offer lots of room for storytelling as well, which the writer/s took advantage of.

To a comparison between the manga and anime, I would say that this is a rather faithful adaptation of the manga. It follows the chapters nearly blow b blow, whilst at the same time reflecting the art style and vibe of the other aspects of the manga. Unfortunately, the status of the manga will likely create issues with the release of a second season. I suppose that I will just have to read the manga until the next season comes out.

In conclusion, I adore this series. Whilst there are numerous confronting moments throughout the series, they show us what the heroic party of Naofumi and his allies are fighting against. The probing of human nature and what it means to be a hero make for a compelling watch, as do the various twists and turns along the way. So, if this sounds like something you would enjoy, be sure to check out the first season wherever you watch anime. Happy viewing!

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Anime Review: The Disastrous Life of Saiki K Season 1

Alternate Names: Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan
Year: 2016
Episodes: 24 (English dub version)
Genre: Shounen, Comedy, Supernatural, School Life

Years ago, I came across an odd manga that left me scratching my head. It wasn’t a case of it being bad, but it was in a format that I was unused to. A few weeks later, I discovered an English dub of the anime. It would take some time before my hubby would agree to watch it with me. As expected, he absolutely loved it as well. (Sadly, the same cannot be said for Gintama. Oh, well.) Anyhoo, the following discusses a series that holds a special place in my heart, the part that enjoys over-the-top gags and general anime shenanigans.

Kusuo Saiki was born with psychic powers, something that he has to control with a strange antennae thing in his head. His psychic powers come with numerous issues, and his efforts to be overlooked is made difficult by the moronic “Yankee” Riki Nendou, a host of annoying classmates, a pathetic father keeps asking for help getting out of self-created messes and the Kusuo must also deal with the bizarre machinations of his jealous super-genius older brother. All the while, he must figure out how to get an ample supply of coffee pudding.

First up, the artwork for this series is strikingly beautiful. The linework is neat and colouration provides a lot of contrast, reminding me of some of Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun at times. The character designs are amazing, adding to the humour of this series. An example is Midori Nendou, Riki’s mother. Along with the dialogue, the artwork brings to life some really good situational humour. However, some folks might not find the butt humour as amusing as yours truly.
Whilst the small sketches that comprise each episode do well on their own, there is still a continuity to the timeline. A situation from a previous episode often affects what happens later as well, showing that there are ramifications for what happens. Each sketch adds to the story as well, instead of feeling like filler. Over time, these happenings result in Kusuo making connections with people, the one thing he has been avoiding.
The plot is backed up by some really good characterisation and character development. It might be over-the-top at times, but it works really well. This is backed up by some good casting for the English dub version, doing justice to a really good collection of characters. It also does a good job of managing a larger cast of characters as well.

How closely does it follow the manga? Like Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun, it ends up being fairly close if not identical to the source material. Both are a good adaptation of their respective manga series. As an anime fan, it is always awesome to see an anime studio do justice to the series it is adapting. J.C. Staff and Egg Firm deserve praise for how well they adapted this series. Can we expect anything less from studios that adapted Toradora!, A Certain Magical Index, Kino no Tabi, and DanMachi2?

In conclusion, this series is in my top five anime. It is also something that I have enjoyed in both an English sub and dub version.

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World of Keiko 2019/08/26

This week’s posts:

When I posted an update in April, I anticipated working on a book ahead of hubby going on holidays. Whilst I did spend a bit of time on it, I hit a wall ahead of drafting when I realised that I needed a map in order to best gauge things like travel times. This resulted in me coming to the conclusion that the world needed a significant amount of fleshing out. Whilst I continued fleshing out characters and plot, I haven’t been able to do as much geographical and political world-building as I would like, putting the drafting on hold until I do.

What aggravated the above issue was hubby resubbing to WoW whilst on holidays. A touch of nostalgia led to me also resubscribing. I came out of the six-week gaming coma realising just how much of a waste of time it was. I felt an overwhelming sadness as I had to acknowledge yet again that MMORPG gaming doesn’t give me as much joy as it used to. On a good note, I also acknowledged that other things bring me joy now, just as anime, manga and gardening. I am pretty cool with that.

Over the past month or two, I have been working hard to expand the garden in the yard. This meant cleaning up the strip on the side of the house that I removed the partition from last year. As I surveyed the space, I realised that it wasn’t going to be an easy job. I am missing a lot of the tools that would help make the job less taxing on my unfit body. Several cut-off star pickets that acted as support for the old partition were embedded deep into the ground and needed to be removed. I ended up using a LOT of water to loosen the compacted clay but the ones in the way are now removed. I still have about six meters of gardening space for edibles and four to ornamentals to prepare before summer, but I did manage to open up nearly twenty meters over the past two months, which feels pretty good so long as the bush turkeys can be deterred from the space. I planted my first eggplant, okra, amaranth, sorrel, cress, chervil, watermelon, rockmelon and a lot more this past few months, along with dedicating a small bed to ornamentals. I plan on moving some of the ornamentals in the front beds along the fence to a new bed once I have it ready to go, but that will likely be a few weeks from now.

When winter arrived, so did binge-watching of several old anime series. Marathon-viewings of both long series of Hunter X Hunter brought me a lot more joy than expected. I had watched the first episode of the early 2000s series a few years back but felt initially too kiddy and I didn’t continue. However, starting over offered the chance to see how well the creator deals with characterisation, plot and action sequences. On top of that, we finished up The Rise of the Shield Hero Season 1 and That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 1.
Hubby took time out to watch a few series on his own, such as the peculiar pervy action series Highschool DxD. Whilst it pokes fun at how much of anime is a bunch of closeted sex-puns, there are some decent action sequences and solid worldbuilding, including a good example of power escalation. I will likely not review this series as I didn’t watch enough of it to provide a detailed analysis. However, I did enjoy what I did watch of this bizarre, boob-centric series.
I am currently watching several of the current-season anime. I have narrowed it down to about five series worth putting time into and am hoping that my initial impressions prove to be correct. In the meantime, I still have a few old series to fall back on, such as that strange beast that is Yu Yu Hakusho. I heart the crap out of that silly show.

I’ve been researching some diet options and trying to figure out a good game plan for improving my fitness. As a result of recent changes, I’ve about three kilos since the beginning of the month and anticipating losing more in the next few months should I continue. It might change in future but I seriously need to get my health and fitness on track. I have about 20kg to lose in order to be at an ideal (muscular, rather than super-skinny) weight. It will take a lot of work, but I hope that I’ll be able to keep it off once I get to my target weight.

I do plan to post blog entries more often but I have to decide what to focus on. Quite likely it will anime, manga and live-action TV shows, but I will think on it and get back to you guys on it. Regardless, I will be focusing on improving my health and fitness over the next few months.
Whilst long-term plans for the blog are currently up in the air, I do have a few things planned for the next week. I plan on losing at least a kilo of weight, prep a few meters of growing space, reclaim at least a couple of meters from the area behind the back fence, do at least a few hours of solid exercise that is part of a more organised fitness plan, and also write at least one review for the blog.

Anyway, a big thank-you for stopping by this blog. I leave you with the following mashup by Said the Sky, MitiS and Illenium:

Be sure to check out the music by each of the artists featured in the mashup!

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Anime Review: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Season 1

Alternate Names: Tenshi Shitara Suraimu Datta Ken
Year: 2018-2019
Episodes: 25 (English dub version)
Genre: Isekai, Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Earlier this year, various anime recommendations led me to watch the first series of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime. The show begins with the sacrificial death of our protagonist Satoru Mikami, whose rambling, delirious last words result in him being reincarnated in a different world as an OP sentient slime. Under the guise of “Rinmaru”, our bouncy protagonist goes about defeating bad guys, making friends and builds his own forest-based nation in spectacular style. All the while, he learns that he isn’t the only one that has been brought to the world, some of which were summoned alive, and that there are powers at work to summon a powerful demon lord.

The strength of this series is in how our protagonist goes out of his way to help others, in the process founds and expands his own nation. This creates its own share of issues due to the collection of monsters, humans and demihumans inhabitants, both friend and foe. He also has to deal with trade routes and other necessary requirements for a functioning government. As the nation grows, it gains the ire of other parties, including foodie Demon Lord Milim Nava. All the while, we see the machinations of powerful individuals naming monsters in an attempt to summon Demon Lord Kuro. This teaches the audience about the world and its inhabitants as it becomes relevant, avoiding info-dumps seen in a lot of fantasy series.
Although I loved the main arc, it quickly leads into an out-of-place arc where Rinmaru goes to a different country to save the lives of off-worlder students of the young warrior he uses as a template for human shapeshifting. As cute as this arc was, it deviated too much from the central themes that got me interested in the series in the first place, the big picture effect of Rinmaru’s arrival. However, it would have fit well as a standalone OVA series, preserving the main arc ahead of the second season arriving in 2020. That being said, a single-episode origin story about Shizu is a good introduction to the character we will no doubt be seeing in the second season, Demon Lord Kuro.

In Conclusion, I loved this series but one of the small arcs seemed out of place. That being said, it was a fun watch. If you don’t have an issue with OP leads, love both isekai and fantasy, then I recommend this series. It is also accompanied by the main manga and several spinoff manga as well which are sure to add to the world-building and character development.