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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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Anime Review: ReZero

Alternate Names: Re:Zero Starting Life in Another World (English name), Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Japanese name), Re: Life in a different world from zero (English synonym)
Year: 2016
Episodes: 25 (English dub version)
Genre: Isekai, Fantasy, Romance, Drama, Psychological

Warning: Spoilers below.

Back when this series was first being released, I decided to wait for an English dub of the series to be released. Then, I somehow forgot about it. Well, hubby and I have been going over old shows and learned that ReZero did indeed get an English dub at some point. So, we jumped in headfirst.

When otaku Subaru Natsuki gets sent to another world whilst grabbing snacks from a local quickie mart, he meets a monarchy candidate named Amelia. The stigma of looking like the Witch of Envy creates numerous problems for the kind-hearted young woman, including gaining the attention of the witch’s cult who are trying to bring back the object of their worship. Suburu has fallen head over heels for her and quickly learns that he has the ability to come back to “save points” if he dies. How will he rise above his own fears to help her fulfill her dream of becoming the Queen?

The unusual nature of this Isekai series was a big factor in drawing people’s attention to the series in the beginning. That weird mechanic of coming back to a save point after death sounds appealing in theory. However, in practice… Natsuki’s desire to help Amela is easier said than done. He will need to die over and over again to gather information on numerous threats, but like any sane person, he is afraid of dying. As put forward in at least one of the episodes, he isn’t sure of the parameters of the return from death power. This uncertainty is an understandable concern. Also, his deaths tend to be quite horrific. Most people prefer to die in their sleep rather than disembowelment or torture by people you believed to be allies.
Natsuki is a relatable protagonist. He isn’t good at everything. Instead, he has to learn things over time. He makes mistakes along the way, but at his core is that love of Amelia. Folks will likely ask, “What about Rem?” Yes, Rem is the best girl of ReZero but Subaru was in love with Amelia from the start. Rem is played beautifully throughout this series, her own love of Natsuki reflecting how he feels for Amelia. They understand each other on this fundamental level even if Natsuki’s own affections are directed elsewhere. He never pretends otherwise even if he does talk of running away with Rem in order to reduce the chance of causing more harm to those around him. At this moment, we see one of the best pep-talks in anime and manga by Rem. It shows the strength of her character and how much she wants him to be genuinely happy.
“But Keiko, what about all of the violence?” Yes, there are some really violent sequences in this series. It can be confronting at times, but this gives Natsuki incentive to fight even more to avoid such fates for himself and the various people that he cares for. Some of these scenes also give us insight into the inner world of other characters as well. A great example of this is his relationship with the demon twins Rem and Rom. On several occasions, he is attacked by them resulting in at least one death. Multiple perspectives of situations often play a huge part in some of the conflicts. The stakes are even higher given that a lot of the series relates to the political situation of a kingdom.
The voice acting and characterization for this series was excellent. Sean Chiplock knocks it out of the park with his voicing of Natsuki. Given how he rocks this character, I am wondering why the hell he doesn’t do a lot more voice acting. The oddly named Brianna Knickerbocker is perfectly placed as Rem, with another unfamiliar voice actress, Kayli Mills doing a great job as Amelia. Of all of the cast members, the standout for me is Sarah Williams’ voicing of Felix Argyle. She does an awesome job of his vocal mannerisms and injects an ample amount of mischief into this odd character.

In conclusion, this is one of the better Isekai series out there. It also easily fits into the romance category because of how it approaches the love triangle of Natsuki, Rem, and Amelia. That approach to character and worldbuilding makes for a genuinely enjoyable experience. I absolutely adore this series.


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Manga Review: Isekai Houtei Rebuttal Barrister Chapters 1-5

Year: 2016-2018
Author and Artist: Homura Kawamoto (story) and Kamon Ohba (art)
Genre: Seinen, Fantasy, Isekai

Reviewers Note: I am reviewing the Waterflame Scanlations English translation version of this series.

A lot of manga creators have been trying their hands at Isekai over the last couple of years. We’ve seen cooking Isekai, farming Isekai, and a host of other twists on the idea of a character taken to another world. Whilst a lot fall flat because the creators don’t quite pull it off, Kawamoto and Ohba’s series about a wannabe lawyer bringing Tokyo law to a fantasy world managed to provide an unexpected level of charm.

Twenty-nine year-old Yuuto Shiba has been trying to become a barrister for years but continues to fail the exam. In lieu of mockery from some of his peers, he gets drunk and manages to get killed. A loli goddess from another world takes advantage of his passing to bring the Japanese legal system to a kingdom full of corruption, racism, and classism. It won’t be easy for Shiba. He soon has to deal with uppity nobles and a conspiracy involving a member of the royal family.

Isekai Houtei: Rebuttal Barrister has your standard setup of a character being brought to another world forcibly. In this case, the excuse is an interesting one and I got the sense that there is more to the Goddess’ choice than simple convenience. Shiba has, after all, been studying for years, showing tenacity and passion for the Japanese legal system. I have at least one theory but I will see how that pans out in further reading of this series.
Anyhoo, our male protagonist’s first job is to defend a female elf after she injures a noble to stop his carriage from riding over a child. This opening “case” gives us a good sense of what the average person in the other world has to deal with. It also sets up several other relevant plotlines.
Whilst the series does a good job of showing worldbuilding elements in a timely fashion, we also see the inclusion of references to Japanese legal jargon. Whilst I am not entirely sure how much of the material covered reflects actual Japanese law, it does appear to be similar to how a lot of state laws are worded. Somewhere in my household, my husband and I have numerous large legal tomes from around a decade ago. I won’t go over why we have them in the first place but I will say that those suckers are damned heavy.
I really like the characters that we’ve been introduced to in the first five chapters. Yuuto is such a good protagonist as well, one that was easy to like. He was kind, hard-working and had a sense of justice. He was also appropriately flawed. We also get a sense of intelligence even though his confidence is a little on the low side. Donatella Bastianelli is such an awesome assistant as well. She’s perceptive, has some magic and has a strong sense of right and wrong that makes her admirable. She comes off as thankful but not an obsessed “fangirl”, which is a refreshing change from a lot of series I’ve read and watched recently.
To art, it is nothing out of the ordinary but it is solid. The characters are easy to differentiate between, the backgrounds are attractive, and scenes do a decent job of conveying action, emotion and get you excited to see what happens next. The art style also doesn’t make me want to gouge my own eyes out from weirdly drawn facial features like a few other series I’ve looked at recently. I will not name names!

In conclusion, this series was a pleasant excursion that merges several interesting ideas to good effect. I really like the balance of a courtroom procedural with several other elements. I like the characters and the world so far and have high hopes for the plot based on the groundwork laid in the first five chapters. I really look forward to reading more of this series.


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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: Overlord Seasons 2 and 3

Year: 2018
Episodes: 2 seasons of 13 episodes (English dub version)
Genre: Isekai, Dark Fantasy, Action

If you’ve been paying attention to anime and manga in recent years, you’ve no doubt heard of Overlord. Back when the first season came out, a friend of hubby and I recommended that we watch it. Whilst the first episode was a bit weird, we stuck with the show and ended up really liking it. Recently, we both decided to binge-watch the second and third seasons. Whilst I could have posted a separate review for each, I decided to consolidate as it seemed that it would provide a good comparison.

After the mind-control of Sheltear in the first season, Ainz continues to try to learn about the world he is trapped in and hopefully find other player characters. He runs numerous experiments, all the while his primary advisor Demiurge works towards Momonga/Ainz Ooal Gown’s “goal” of taking over the world. As time progresses, we see the expansion of Carne Village and the introduction of a host of new characters. More factions are introduced and Ainz’s world becomes more and more involved in political maneuvering, until a large-scale massacre in which Ainz establishes his own nation.

These two seasons did a good job of showing the audience of the world. However, just like many viewers, I found myself heavily disliking the use of CG in the third season. It looked terrible, showing a lack of care on the part of the producers of this anime adaptation. It was a shame as well because many of these sequences could have been significantly more impactful if a bit more care had been taken.
As for the voice acting and characterization, it was solid. I did, however, feel a lot more depressed as many of the characters I grew attached to were soon killed off in horrific fashion. The problem with doing this on a regular basis is that you soon learn to simply not care about any of the characters because what is the point? This is in stark contrast to the way in which the book series The Sword, The Ring and The Chalice by Deborah Chester. Deborah Chester shows the reader from the beginning that the world is screwed and doesn’t try to pretty it up like Overlord does and we can accept when bad things happen because that is a part of the world. There are no false promises made by the writer, unlike Overlord with the ecchi elements and humor seen in that first episode.
Consistency and holding true to initial promises is very important to readers and viewers. We also want an adaptation to reflect the core material. This is why movies such as Dragonball Evolution and Dead or Alive did so poorly. Legends of the Dark King (a spin-off from Fist of the North Star) did so well because it reflected the core material and kept those promises made in the first episode.

In conclusion, whilst I didn’t mind Overlord, I felt like numerous promises weren’t kept and I felt decreasing emotional investment in any of the characters over time. A story can be quite smart but if you ignore those two aspects, and screw up the aesthetics, it is a waste of time and energy. This is a real shame overall. However, feel free to watch it for yourself and come to your own conclusion if you like dark fantasy and Isekai.


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Anime Review: KonoSuba Seasons 1 and 2

Year: 2016-2017
Episodes: 2 seasons of 10 episodes (English-subbed version)
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Ecchi, Isekai

I first came across this series after watching a video compilation of funny clips from various ecchi series. A clip from KonoSuba perked my interest and I began to do a bit of research on the series. This led to me watching my first Gigguk video, in which he discusses KonoSuba in great detail. It was enough that I felt a strong desire to see this blasphemy against all thing Adventure Fantasy. And with that, I watched my first episode. I loved it and thought that my husband would find it funny as well. Alas, it would take me close to a year to convince him. It was enough to get him to start watching anime again. Here’s hoping that I don’t reveal too many spoilers. 

Kasuma Sato is a teenaged shut-in, spending most of his time reading manga, watching anime and playing computer games. During a rare excursion to collect a newly released game from a nearby town, he dies trying to save a girl from being hit by what he thinks is a truck. He awakes in front of Aqua, a goddess that repeatedly mocks him for his embarrassing death from shock at being hit by a tractor. He is also given two choices: go to heaven (which is quite boring) or go to her world to fight the Devil King with a special item. He picks the latter and decides to choose Aqua as his item as retaliation.
Aqua is replaced by her underling Eris and the duo are sent to a world very different from modern Japan. With Aqua losing much of her power, Kasuma uses his knowledge of gaming to navigate a fantasy world with computer game elements. They soon meet two female party members: the explosion-loving magician Megumin and Virginal Masochist Knight Darkness. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

A good series has the ability to not only make sense from a plot standpoint but also do interesting things with character. In KonoSuba, we see the mockery of archetypes and in our resident “heroes” constantly having to clean up messes that they started, all the while trying to stay out of debt. The initial hurdle of joining an adventurer guild was small compared to the perils that they have to face on account of each other. Getting the four to work as a team will be an ongoing job. However, the story really works and the four develop a reluctant bond.

  • Kasuma: NEET that is constantly fighting an uphill battle with his own party members. He just wants to be the hero and eventually have a girlfriend. If only…
  • Aqua: An egotistical water goddess that is lazy and a bit of a chicken. She likes to point out that Eris uses pads to make her breasts look bigger. If only she could get her clergy to acknowledge who she is…
  • Megumin: Explosion-obsessed Loli-like magician that becomes paralyzed after using a single spell… her only spell. She’s not interested in learning anything else.
  • Darkness: Large-breasted female knight with a fetish for pain and humiliation. She has issues hitting people but seems to be able to hit inanimate objects without a problem.

I also liked the world-building aspects of KonoSuba. Whilst we see the European fantasy aesthetic, there is more to the world than that. It is a living, breathing world with computer game elements such as character sheets. The nobility is snooty, often throwing their weight around over petty things. There is also a secret sex club in the starter town where Succubi sell dreams in exchange for a small amount of lifeforce to survive.
The adventurer guild evaluates each new member, rating their ability in order to help match the adventurer to appropriate work. Their card also allows the members to see if they have skill points to spend. Trainers charge for skills, which resulted in Kasuma learning how to steal. Of course, the first time he uses the power, he manages to steal panties. About that…
As mentioned in the genre overview, this is an ecchi series. Much of this is on account of having a masochist in the group. Darkness is a freak, pure and simple. Her taste in men… leaves something to be desired. But all of the main characters have very unique flaws. These flaws play out in interesting ways.
You will also notice that “harem” and “romance” wasn’t on the list. That is because KonoSuba is not that sort of story. It is a story about idiots and freaks, not a “kissing book”. Whilst Darkness likes being chastised by Kasuma, none of the females in his party are girlfriend material. As it is, he really likes Eris as she was kind to him on numerous occasions that he died during an adventure. Kasuma also acknowledges that he has no chance of having a girlfriend like her. Being called Trashuma hurts one’s chances of meeting other girls as well.

In conclusion, I really love this series. It is a franchise that deserves a lot more love because it doesn’t take itself too easily nor does it makes excuses. It is fun, playful, and downright enjoyable. KonoSuba was a pure joy to watch and I really look forward to getting stuck into the manga and light novels as it appears that a third season isn’t going to happen. There is apparently an upcoming movie, as well as a crossover with several other isekai series. I am not overly sure about the latter, but will still probably watch it.