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WN Review: Release that Witch Ch 1 – 25

Year: (completed)
Author: Er Mu
Genre: Seinen, Fantasy, (transmigration) Isekai, Drama, Action, Adventure, Romance

I first came across Release That Witch via a webtoon adaptation last year. Given how much I enjoyed that adaptation, I was intrigued when I discovered that it was based on a web novel. It was a no-brainer to check out a series that reached its conclusion after nearly fifteen-hundred chapters that range between a thousand and two thousand words in length. Yep, that is a LOT of instalments. In any case, here are my thoughts on the first twenty-five chapters.

Chen Yan is a hardworking engineering that finds himself transmigrated into the body of fourth prince Roland Wimbleton who is currently overseeing a backwater border town (aptly named Border Town) as part of a competition between the royal siblings to prove themselves worthy of the throne. As the loser prince, he has one of the worst starting positions. However, the newly reborn Chen Yan sees an opportunity to turn this seemingly bad situation around. He saves a young woman named Anna sentenced to be execution for being a witch and employs her. With her abilities as well as his management skills and knowledge of science, Chen Yan begins to shore up the defenses of the region ahead of the hibernal raid of monsters. This soon leads to him making contact with the enigmatic Nightingale, a member of the Witch Cooperation Association.

PLOT & CONFLICT
This series begins with Chen Yan about to oversee the execution of the young woman who he will later employ. Delaying the execution in order to grow accustomed to his new body, the young engineer begins impersonating Roland using merged memories in order to avoid discovery. He is also curious about the world with his innate scepticism about the nature of a witch and his lack of trust in a church dragging people off to be executed on weak allegations informs some of his decision to employ Anna. The desire for justice and to follow the line of evidence makes for a compelling reason to butt against the system. This inevitably puts the entire region at odds with the kingdom that enforces discriminatory laws as well as the church in the midst of an inquisition.
The first twenty-five chapters put in place several ticking clocks. The first is the five-year deadline for the competition for the throne that pits each of the royal siblings against each other. The second is the upcoming raids of tainted creatures upon Border Town and other nearby communities. The third is the change that occurs to most witches when they turn eighteen years of age – something that will soon affect seventeen-year-old Anna.
The competition for the crown provides its own share of possibilities for future storytelling and I really look forward to seeing how the four candidates compete with each other. The conflict has already affected the lives of many, with something as simple as an egg having a huge impact on those living under Roland’s jurisdiction. A lot of authors take these small details for granted. However, these tell us very human stories in the harsh reality that is the wretched world that Chen Yan has transmigrated to.

CHARACTERISATION
The male lead Chen Yan / Roland 2.0 is a lot of fun to see in action. Chen Yan is essentially trying to “stay in character”, whilst staying connected with his identity as the modern-day engineer with a knowledge of science and progressive ideas such as “three meals a day”. He is a character that follows the evidence rather than being led by the nose. This simple trait makes him an admirable trait because he is appropriately sceptical. He is also a character that looks for solutions rather than wallows.
The female lead of Anna (a flame witch with an eidetic memory) is so well-placed and we see how the little things that her employment offers impacts her life in major ways. Something as simple as a soft bed is a big deal. Chen Yan’s faith in her is rewarded by her trying to do her best. She is a character looking for a purpose and a place to call home. And yet, she is also somebody that tries to adapt to crap situations. Simply complaining won’t get you anywhere, after all. In addition to this is the obvious affection that Anna has for Roland and is becoming more irritated with him as he is treating her as a younger sister. Yep, a bit of an anime/manga convention, but it does a good job of showing rather than telling us that she wants to be his waifu.

The other cast members are impactful, providing information (sometimes flawed), expertise and advice without it feeling convenient or like an infodump. We also learn about the world through the eyes of various side characters. This ranges from the often-anxious finance minister Barov (suggests killing witnesses to Anna’s release early on) to the straight-forward yet just Knight Commander Carter Lannis, Anna’s sceptical teacher Karl to Iron Axe the valiant hunter. These characters have their own strengths and weaknesses that make them feel authentic.
We also get to meet the heavily-motivated (and murderous) third princess Garcia Wimbleton in the first twenty-five chapters. As a major rival to the competition for the throne, she focuses much of her efforts through investment into maritime fleets used for plundering, all the while working on ways to remove any rivals permanently. Whilst we saw a bit of this in the webtoon, there is a lot more detail in the web novel, which emphasises what she is willing to do to win the competition.

MVP of chapters one to twenty-five? If I had to choose then it would hands-down be the witch Nightingale, a woman seeking a safe haven for witches. This desire initially puts her at odds with Roland because she isn’t convinced that he can protect Anna and Nana from the church’s teachings. However, she is also willing to be persuaded, which makes her both a reasonable and caring leader of a witch association.

One thing that I did notice in the web novel is that Roland and Anna have different coloured hair from in the webtoon.

  • Webnovel
    • Roland: silver / grey hair (Wimbleton family trait)
    • Anna: “flaxen” hair
  • Webtoon
    • Roland: brown hair
    • Anna: light orange hair

Whilst not necessarily a big deal, it seems odd to change hair colour for the webtoon adaptation. *shrugs*

Another character that has been treated differently in the web novel is the witch Nightingale. In the webtoon, she is easily brushed over. However, we learn a lot more about her in the latter parts of the first twenty-five chapters of this web novel.

WORLDBUILDING
The worldbuilding for this series provides an expansive sandbox for storytelling, mixing science with magic. The mystery regarding the origins of the witches and conflict pertaining to their persecution offers plenty of room for future conflict. We also see the mystery surrounding how Chen Yan got transmigrated as well. Will this have wider implications for the world setting? I suspect that it will, but I will have to wait and see.
On another note, this series also places great importance on lineage. Whist the more blatant example of this is with the royals, characters such as the hunter known as Iron Axe show how much family history plays a part in how the inhabitants of the kingdom are viewed. It is subtle but it is there nonetheless.

CONS???
Any issues? I only detected a few typoes in the English translation I have had the pleasure of reading. It is well within acceptable levels, not enough to hurt my enjoyment of the story. Apart from that, I haven’t noticed anything else of note.

CONCLUSION
So far, this series is proving to be an entertaining read that blends mystery, smarts and good character development in an interesting fantasy setting. I’d best describe it as “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court meets Game of Thrones” but with more science, magic and romantic elements. If you are looking for a fantasy setting and/or are Isekai trash such as myself, then this series will be right up your alley.

If you are interested in checking out this series, I’ve been reading it over at NovelFull (series page). I chose this site as it is easier to navigate compared to several others I found the translation project on. Also, the group that originally translated this series no longer has it on their website otherwise I would direct you to them instead.

 


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LN Review: Armoured Girl Monette Ch 1 – 10

Alternate Names: The Heavily Armoured Noble Girl Monette: How To Break a Curse You Don’t Remember Casting, Juusou Reijou Morenet: Kaketa Oboe no nai Noroi no Tokikata
Year: 2017 – 2018 (completed)
Author: Saki
Artist: Masuda Megumi
Genre: Shoujo, Fantasy, Adventure, Drama, Comedy, Romance

The day after being called “ugly” during her first meeting with her fiancé Prince Alexis, Monette’s engagement is annulled and her sister gains her former position. She develops a complex, soon covering herself head to toe in armour as she studies magic in an abandoned castle in a secluded forest.
More than a year later, Prince Alexis and his bodyguard Percival arrive on her dilapitated doorstep seeking help with a problem. After trying to redeem himself, the prince is now suffering from the effects of a curse bent on making his life miserable. Even the simple act of sitting in a chair or sleeping in a bed ends in disaster. Desperately, he begs Monette for help.

Monette will soon embark on an adventure to find out the identity of the person behind the curse to clear her name.

This series begins on an interesting premise. What if the female lead was hurt so much that she closes herself off from society? I think most of us understand at least from a basic level how words can seemingly have power over us. In this case, it leads to Monette’s family abandoning her as well. Monette may be a flawed character on numerous levels, but her behaviour is understandable. Whilst I usually prefer characters that are more tenacious, she is still quite likeable.
When Alexis and Percival show up on her doorstep, Monette is p*ssed. She was content living alone with companions such as Robertson the spider and his “fashionable friend”. Seeing how she reacts to these human intruders, especially one with whom she has a difficult history, is entertaining due to the level of snark involved. This is coupled with some funny internal dialogue by all three characters. Through these interactions, we also get some good insight into the world without it falling into the trap of the infamous info-dump.

To the subject of forgiveness, Alexis is a person that is desperately trying to redeem himself because he acknowledges that a simple word held so much power to destroy somebody that didn’t deserve it. Unfortunately, his attempts to make amends haven’t worked so far and he also gets cursed by persons unknown. It is easy to feel for him, just as it is easy to understand that Monette is still p*ssed at him. I have no doubt that Monette’s forgiveness will have some effect on the direction of this series as this seems to be the promise made in the first chapter.

Did I enjoy the first ten chapters of this series? Yes, I did. The humour works well and the tone of the series is playful. It very much feels like it could easily be adapted into an anime series as well, which is another selling point. I liked the characters, plot and premise. Based on what I’ve read so far, I recommend it to anyone looking for a comedic fantasy adventure with the promise of some drama and romance to come.

If you are interested in reading this series, there is an English translation offered by Experimental Translations (series page). Please note that the first seven chapters are slightly modified versions of some translations done by Kamimami.


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Anime Review: Maou-sama, Retry! Season 1

Alternate Names: Demon Lord, Retry!
Year: 2019
Episodes: 12 (English dub version)
Genre: Fantasy, Isekai, Action, Adventure, Harem, Ecchi

Earlier this year, I happened across this odd series. I admit that I wasn’t impressed during the first watching. However, hubby and I binged the entire series this past weekend and I found myself wondering why I didn’t give it a chance that first time. Maybe it was due to what I had been watching at the same time. Perhaps it was the fact that it focused more on a comedic take on an OP Isekai lead that most series. In any case, I now know what I was missing out on and I am kicking myself for it.

Akira Oono has been managing the science fiction MMORPG Infinity Game for just on fifteen years. As the game servers shut down for the last time, Akira finds himself in another place and dressed as a mullet-haired player character called Hakuto Kunai. He saves a young girl called Aku, who is a poop-removal slave at a local village and subsequently ends up taking a liking to her. After some shenanigans, he is declared to be the Demon Lord, which leads to all sorts of misunderstandings such as having a huge bounty on his head and gaining the angst of a Satanic cult for not living up to their expectations as an evil overlord. In the midst of tracking down information of how he can return to his own world, he begins to make sense of how many of the systems from Infinity Game he can utilise, such as switching between player characters and being able to summon minions. It will be a long road but Akira is determined to make the most out of a bad situation.

I am sure that many of you can already see a few similarities in the beginning premise of this series. Some of you will likely shout out the name OVERLORD at the top of your lungs, and with good reason. However, this series managed to do some things that a lot of other series have not. First up is giving the male lead some perks that would otherwise be unavailable to normal players. He is, after all, both a moderator and partial creator of the game itself.
Another notable element is the systems used. Being able to switch between two characters and summon minions is somewhat unique to this series. This creates an odd dynamic between Akira, his minions and the world around him. For example, various ladies and a certain transvestite are enamoured with the persona of Hakuto whilst two of the ladies have taken an interest with his other persona, the dragon fist Zero Kirisame. The first minion he summons also falls head over heels for him, lessening the sadistic tendencies that were a part of her personality back when she was a part of Infinity Game. Akira also tries to act in-character, which adds another interesting layer to the story. In this regard, it shares some familiar ground with Overlord and How Not to Summon a Demon Lord.
The artwork for this series has clean linework and tight colouration, which does justice to the character designs and setting. Whilst the character designs and setting aren’t anything special, they do a good job of telling the story, conveying action and humour. It doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but instead embraces the elements of an Isekai and harem series that work.
Coupled with good casting, it makes for a genuinely enjoyable show that in no way takes itself seriously. First and foremost, the series tries to be silly fun, which it does well. It delivers what it promises in the first episode, and then some.
However, some people may not appreciate the harem and ecchi elements. Or the use of cliche to elicit humour. Some viewers might be offended by the young transvestite Yukikaze who is one of the several characters that wants Hakuto’s D. I won’t claim that this series is for everyone because it isn’t. It doesn’t try to be either.

My only annoyance is Hakuto’s mullet. Throughout the entire show, it kept crying out for a barber. Seriously, I do NOT like mullets. They remind me too much of Billy Ray Cyrus and Rod Stewart.

In conclusion, I really enjoyed this series. It builds on a good base to deliver a fun watch. If you are looking for a comedic Isekai fantasy that plays around with systems, seriously consider giving this series a watch. If you do, be sure to watch up to least the third episode when Zero is introduced. We also learn a bit more about the politics and the religion of the world as well, laying the foundation for a lot of the events that follow. Have fun!


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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: 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.

 


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Manga Review: Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon Chapters 1-20

Year: 2017 (Ongoing)
Author/Artist: Sosori???
Genre: Seinen, Dark Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Gaming, Webtoons

When I came across Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon, I was fascinated by the premise but was initially skeptical in lieu of how many webtoons I’ve been let down by in the past. I took a chance and started reading. I was happy that I did because the first twenty chapters of this series were a breath of fresh air. This series can be best categorized as dark fantasy.

A loyal skeleton warrior loses his succubus mistress when adventurers enter their dungeon. He awakes years before, to the moment of his creation by a young female necromancer. His intention is to become stronger in order to protect his succubus mistress in the not-so-distant future but things begin to get significantly complicated when his creator is tortured and killed by a secret criminal organisation.

How this series dealt with the gaming element set it apart from a lot of the stuff that I’ve been reading of late. It isn’t another Isekai but about an undead minion that gains that ability to come back to “save” points in the event of a death. He also learns from what he’s experienced before dying, helping him to negotiate it in future attempts. The ability to see available quests also gives him a clue as to how to progress further but he also has the added baggage of loss.
The plot moved along in an appropriately chaotic fashion. The introduction of new characters and other elements felt organic. We are also left with a host of questions which aren’t immediately answered. This is a pretty good move if you want people to continue reading your work as you have material to work with later.
The characters that we are introduced in the first twenty chapters are not what you’d call heroes in the classical sense. However, we get a clear sense of what their motivations are in the moments that see them go about their business. I found myself really rooting for such an unusual protagonist in the form of an intelligent undead minion. He may not be a dashing hero but he has a purpose and you can see definitive changes in how he views the world around him the more he interacts with it. The connections that Skelly makes with the two women that he meets inform a lot of his worldview but we keep seeing how they merge with the image of the Succubus from the beginning.
The artwork for this series is pretty solid even if it isn’t unique. The character and world designs easily conveyed action, emotion, and locale. Having a series that was completely colored was a change as well, which is one of the big differences between the average webtoon and standard manga.

In conclusion, the first twenty chapters of Skeleton Soldier Couldn’t Protect the Dungeon was an enjoyable read. This was a darker story than I usually read but it had a lot of depth due to how well it made good use of the various elements.


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Anime Review: How Not to Summon a Demon Lord Season 1

Year: 2018
Episodes: 12
Genre: Fantasy, Isekai, Action, Adventure, Comedy, Ecchi, Harem, NSFW

When I first saw the manga version of this series listed online, my first thought was that it would be an Overlord. Well, it turns out that I was wrong. DEAD WRONG!!! After watching it, I do believe that it should be renamed, “How to Summon a Hot Dude with Horns” or perhaps, “How to be Summoned to Another World and Suffer from Blue Balls until the end of Time.” It all depends on your sexual preferences, I suppose.
After waking up one morning, I discovered that my husband had watched four episodes of the series and seemed to really like it. He managed to convince me to watch it and I was initially amused. By episode three, I was totally hooked. Hubby, of course, spent most of the time debating whether he preferred catgirls over elfy boobs. Important questions… The answer is 42.

Anyhoo, beware of some spoilers below.

A certain player named Takuma Sakomoto chose to solo as a “Demon Lord” called Diablo in the MMORPG Cross Reverie for years. When he is summoned to a world suspiciously similar to the game as his avatar, our sexy male protagonist learns that his magic reflection ring affected the two women that managed to summon him. Staying in character as much as he can, our socially awkward and sexually inexperienced protagonist travels with Rem and Shera in search of a way to free them from the chains of summoning and hopefully also manage to find a way to return to his own world. The player now known as Diablo quickly learns that he is one of the most powerful beings in the world.

So, where to start? Well, this series is an Isekai fantasy. The standard setup for the first few episodes is for our protagonist to learn about the world. Whilst this is true, we did manage to see the best villain in anime history beginning in the first episode. Yes, he dies a few episodes later, but our resident mage shows a gift for intimidating dialogue and evil planning that shall go down in the annals of history. May he rest in pieces…
A lot of the humor in this series is at the expense of our budding protagonist he is bombarded by attractive women. Yep, most of it is boob and butt related, with a large sprinkling of innuendo and obvious lewdness. And you know what? I do not care because I freaking loved this series.
Whilst the arc relating to Rem having the demon lord Glebsklem bound inside of her felt like it was going to be the central arc of the series altogether, we are quickly introduced to a bunch of other characters that make life difficult for our main character and his female companions. The rivalry between Rem and Shera is adorable but they quickly learn to work together now that they are both technically Diablo’s slaves.
There was also a short arc involving Shera’s brother which is pretty f’ed up. This was, however, strongly hinted at around the fourth episode. The continuation of this side arc towards the end of the season also helped form a stronger bond between Diablo and his summoners whilst also helping him deal with his trust issues.
The harem elements of this series are a little odd because Diablo doesn’t really have a romantic interest in the first season. Whilst Rem and Shera might be seen as front-runners, he is constantly restraining himself for various reasons. We don’t really see the jealousy commonly seen in harem series either. It is one of the strangest harem series I have come across so far because some of the common elements of a harem are completely absent in the first season.
I liked the art design in this series. Whilst there are slight differences from the manga, these are quite small overall. The character designs are solid even if they do reflect some common archetypes in anime.
As far as Diablo’s design was concerned, he reminded me of Gintoki from Gintama but with horns, a few markings, and fantasy garb. You also get idealized physique, a trait of many MMORPGs. This is a slight contrast from a lot of harem series where the protagonist has an average or close to an average physique. Three thumbs up for attending to the bishounen enthusiasts in the audience. I don’t know where I will get the extra thumbs but I will find one somewhere. Maybe a dumpster or something…  

My only issue with this series is in the last episode where most of the females in the cast attempt to give him magical energy. Sure, this is an ecchi series but it seemed out of character. There is no feeling of gratification in this sequence, just a weird sexless orgy thing. It was a real head-scratcher.

In conclusion, I found this series highly entertaining. Whilst it isn’t perfect, the comedic elements and drool-worthy appearance of Diablo more than made up for it. I highly recommend this series for anyone that enjoys an ample amount of comedic filth.


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Anime Review: Goblin Slayer Season 1

Year: 2018
Episodes: 12 episodes (English-dubbed version)
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Drama

Going into Goblin Slayer, I had read and heard a bunch of chatter online. Some people were upset whilst others provided some good rebuttals for why tragedy and bad things should be allowed to stand in a darker fantasy story. Two anime commentators convinced me that I needed to watch this series: YouTuber Gigguk (his video on Goblin Slayer) and fellow blogger Karandi from 100WordAnime. I’m glad that I decided to watch the series because it turned out to be really good.

Onna Shinkan is a fifteen-year-old cleric with high hopes of helping others by doing contracts at the Adventurer’s Guild. On her first job, two of her party are killed and another is violently raped by Goblins. She is saved by a mysterious silver-ranked adventurer known only as Goblin Slayer. He is a loner that only takes work killing goblins. The two start working together leading to an epic battle to protect the town alongside numerous other adventurers.

To begin with, you quickly get a sense that the story is written by somebody that is familiar with the Dungeons and Dragons pen and paper roleplaying game. This includes some of the systems used, such as Onna having a small number of prayers she can make each day. Another is a reference to alignment systems, as seen in how one of the adventurers is mentioned as being Chaotic Evil. The intro and outros also include dice, referencing not only everyday chance but as a continuation of that fantasy roleplaying feel.
Another interesting trait of the worldbuilding is how many of the characters are simply named after their either their class or race, sometimes even both. The elven archer is known as “Elf” and the Dwarven Shaman is known as exactly that. And yet, this frequently seen naming regime still manages to work. These characters are still allowed to have personalities beyond their race and skillset. This is in contradiction to modern identity politics wherein biological traits, rather than individual personality, as seen as the be-all and end-all of who a person is.
The plot did an awesome job of bringing numerous elements together and avoids the dreaded info-dump so prevalent in a lot of fantasy and science fiction settings. We become more and more familiar with the world over time. We also see some of the other events occurring in the world, such as periodic glimpses at a platinum-level party currently dealing with a demon lord causing issues with the kingdom. Whilst Goblin Slayer is dealing with the goblins with his companions, there are other problems that the world is dealing with. It helps establish a living, breathing world whilst also helping move the main story along. 
Goblin Slayer received a lot of flack in the beginning for depicting a rape scene in the first episode. However, this sequence shows the cost of adventurers and the government not dealing with the problem. And this is exactly what drives our main hero Goblin Slayer, a young man that is one of many within the series that has lost a lot to goblins. He shows no mercy as he understands the price of being merciful to goblins. Whilst he might lack in social skills, he has a noble purpose which drives him forward. Onna’s influence helps Goblin Slayer grow as a character whilst al
At his side is Onna, a young woman that manages to help him gain a glimpse of a world beyond goblin-slaying. She is a partner that quickly begins to learn more about our male protagonist than most other people in the series. The only two people that come even close to this is the Sword-Maiden Tsurugi no Otome and Goblin Slayer’s childhood friend Ushikai Musume.
The artwork for Goblin Slayer was pretty awesome. The character and world designs were spot on. Sometimes there is a deliberate divide between how a person is and how they want others to perceive them. Each character seems to fit into the world that they inhabit, both good and bad. The voice acting was also pretty good, with some familiar voice actors and actresses, which includes Brad Hawkins as Goblin Slayer from Black Clover and Mirai Nikki.
Lastly, I have to mention that I really love the choice of music for this series. Rightfully by Mili (intro) and Giri no Kisei by Soraru do such a great job of evoking the flicker of light in the darkness. These tracks also suggest drama and action within the parameters of a fantasy setting. Awesome stuff overall. Both seasons of KonoSuba also did quite well in this regard.

In conclusion, this series is one of the best-written Fantasy action series I have seen in recent years. (Please note that I still haven’t seen the likes of Guin Saga, a series that I have been meaning to watch for ages.) Whilst I haven’t read the light novels for Goblin Slayer as yet, I will likely dive into some fan translations to give me a Goblin Slayer fix whilst I am waiting for a second season to come out. Man, I really hope that a second season gets made because it is one of the rare anime series that hubby liked as well. Fingers crossed…