BurningLizard (Level 8)

Review: Legend of Korra Episode 03 http://t.co/otzl8IMJ
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The Story

Toriko and Komatsu go to get some special seaweed, called eco nori, a kind of seaweed found only in one special place. They travel to the lands of Aimaru and his Gourmet Knights, who then take them to Eco Village, where the seaweed turns out to be the out layer of a certain kind of tortoise. After Toriko charges all the solar batteries for the tortoises, they return to Monchi with the seaweed. He then creatures the fortune roll, by wrestling the ingredients into submission.

The Review

Toriko is one of those series where if you take a couple of week's off like I did you come back wondering what the heck you're watching. Thus it was for me, after a few weeks of not watching the anime, and reading the more series current storyline of the manga. Coming back to what is essentially a filler, yet not really since it was in the manga, is very odd. I find myself asking, "Did I really just see that?" more and more often.

My expression throughout most of this episode.

This episode dragged on a lot longer than I thought it should have. Perhaps it's because there was not enough material left before the actual plot needs to move on, otherwise I imagine they would have made this another double story. The parts with the eco village were interesting, if some of the more ludicrous stuff I've gotten from the series.

I found, however, that this series' weakest point is the tropes that can be found in far too much anime. For example, Monchi and his brother are beyond irritating. The voices are bad enough, but the fact that their entire personality is based on a single phrase or word is frustrating as heck. I find this kind of thing works best in the manga, but when put into motion and voiced these character quirks get real old real fast. And the fact that the anime always spends more time focusing on them gets to me.

Ultimately I found this episode suffered most from my having been away from the series for so long. I found myself getting annoyed much faster at smaller things that I ignored up to this point. Toriko and Komatsu's vocalizations of wonder, also known as the "Ooooooooh!" get real annoying the further you get into the series. I think this is a weakness of anime in general, especially series produced by Toei. They just spend far too much time focusing on the most basic of tropes and characteristics. Which is a complaint I've heard from many friends that don't care for anime. I can't argue against that, because I find myself agreeing with it more and more.

Of course that has more to do with the types of shows that I watch, so expanding my horizons might not be a bad idea. I may need to get away from all this shonen, or at least watch more other shows on top of that. The comforting sense of familiarity is starting to wear thin where shonen series are concerned. One could say I've left the honeymoon stage and am now starting to notice some of the more irritating habits.

The Grade

2/5

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Watch the Show Here!

The Story

The episode begins with an explanation of the titans, how they appeared over a hundred years ago and began preying on humanity. In retaliation, humans built three walls to keep the titans out. With the wall breached the titans are eating everyone in Zhiganshina, a small protrusion from the wall meant to focus the attack of titans on that small area, to simplify the defense of the wall.

Eren gets angry at Hannes for leaving his mother behind, Hannes confesses that the reason he took them and ran was because he lacked the courage to fight the titan. The refugees make it past the gate in the Maria wall and start loading up boats to escape in. The soldiers continue to defend the wall, but a large titan, not the largest one, but a similar looking one, rams the wall Maria and breaks it down.

On the ships, Eren vows that he will not just sit there crying, that instead he will kill all the titans. The refugees are taken past wall Rose. Eren has a dream of his father going crazy and injecting him with some kind of drug. In the dream his father tells Eren to remember the key and to make it back to their home and the secret hidden in the basement. Eren wakes up and finds that he has his father's key. Mikasa tells him food is being handed out. Armin brings them a roll each.

Eren gets into a fight with some guards that are saying more of the refugees should have been eaten by the titans. Eren and Armin argue over whether they should fight back, or rely on others to survive. Eren calls Armin a coward, and Mikasa hits him. She berates Eren about how they don't have the strength, but for now all they can do is just survive.

There is still not enough food, despite the refugees trying to grow more. So 200,000 people are sent to try and recover wall Maria. Only a few hundred survive, but the sacrifices allow the remaining refugees to have enough food. While Armin is mourning his grandfather, Eren vows to enlist in the army so that he can gain the power to destroy the titans. Armin and Mikasa decide to enlist as well, and the three of them begin their basic training.

The Review

The firs thing I notice about this episode, compared to episode one, is that it feels a lot less personal. Episode one's big strength was the personal element the horror took. And while there are certainly losses on a personal level, the story focuses away from that personal loss to focus instead on the large numbers of casualties. The opening focuses on some individual humans, but only for a minute or two. We don't really get anything as horrifying as the death of Eren's mother.

It's hinted at that Eren's father did something to him, though what exactly it was isn't certain. The timing of everything makes little sense. And since Eren's dreams are meant to be confusing and disorienting then I'd say job well done. But from what I can see, something happened when his father came back after the death of his wife, and that's where Eren got the key. But he doesn't wonder where the key came from, so I'm wondering if perhaps I missed something in episode one.

The tradeoff for the personal sense of horror is that we are allowed a larger picture of the world these characters live in. Personally I think the trade is no in the show's favor, considering how strong the sense of horror was in episode one. And considering most of the information is shared by a narrator I can't say episode two benefits from that detached approach.

Eren's character arc, as much of it as we see in this episode, still allows for him to be somewhat of an annoying character, but he does grow at least a little bit. His lust for revenge, while a worrisome thing in and of itself, is well handled. I'm not the biggest fan of characters driven solely by revenge. But because we saw the death of his mother at the end of the last episode, and saw it in as graphic, horrible detail as we could on a broadcast show, we can more fully empathize with Eren. In other cases we usually hear about the horrible thing that happened, or we see it but don't ever see exactly how traumatizing it is. In Attack on Titan we see exactly how traumatizing the death of Eren's mother is. And no matter how annoyed I may get by the constant repetition of, "I will have my revenge" I will still be one hundred percent behind him.

Still, I can't help but feel this episode lacked focus on the main characters. Trading the big picture look at the situation made this episode weaker than the first episode. Still good, and the lack of severe horror made me think that perhaps this is something I wouldn't mind continuing into episode three. The preview for episode three makes it look like a detour from what made episode one good, but I'd probably have to watch it before I can make a call. After seeing how different episode two was from episode one, seeing episode three as a departure from even these two episodes means that I can't really determine what it will be like.

The Grade

3/5

If you liked my review, Watch the Episode Here!

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The Story

Humanity is kept safe by fifty foot tall walls, until the day when a titan larger than the walls themselves shows itself over the top of the walls. But before that, we skip to earlier, while the survey corps are attacking a smaller titan. Cut even earlier, to a fractured dream the main character, Eren, is having. Him and his friend, Mikasa, head back to the city from gathering firewood. While on the way back they notice the guards are drinking. Eren gets mad at one of the guards, Hannes, for not being prepared to defend the city. The guards say that no titan has breached the wall in a hundred years.

Eren and Mikasa go to see the survey corps return, but few of them made it back. An old woman tries to see her son, but all they were able to recover of him was his hand. The captain of the corp breaks down, saying that they haven't learned anything about the titans. They have no idea where they came from.

The children return home, where Mikasa tells Eren's parents of his intention to join the survey corps. Eren's mother forbids him, and his father tells him that they will talk about it when he returns from a trip inland.

Mikasa and Eren save their friend Armin, who is being bullied for saying he intends to leave the city at some point. They talk about how strange it is that nobody is allowed to leave, and that just because the walls haven't been breached in a hundred years doesn't mean that they never will be. There is an explosion, and the massive titan appears at the wall. It breaks a hole into the wall and all the smaller titans break into the city.

Peek-a-boo

People start fleeing, Eren and Mikasa run back to Eren's house, where his mother has been trapped by rubble. They try to free her, but she tells them that her legs have been crushed and even if they do free her she could not run. Hannes shows up, intending to fight the titan coming towards them, but stops short when he comes face to face with the titan. He takes the children and runs. Eren's mother is picked out of the rubble and eaten by the titan.

Vroom goes the airplane

The Review

Guys...I don't think this is going to be a very happy anime.

In an attempt to be a little bit more relevant with my anime reviews, I've decided to skim the new releases this season and pick out some shows to review. Well, I decided on only one, Attack on Titan. The idea is that if I pick up one new series this season, then once I catch up on all those other series I mean to review then I'll be good to pick up a lot more come the Summer season. Of course, since I do have a lot I review, or try to review, there's no guarantee I'll be continuing this series beyond the first episode. Let's see if I drop it or keep it shall we?

Well, first off, as I'm sure you could tell, this is a very grim series. Just one episode is enough to tell me that. And while I'm not a fan of series that get to dark or too grim, I can appreciate Attack on Titan for what it does well. Namely, it knows how to use silence. The score gets bombastic when it needs to, but the most effective moments of the episode are those moments when the sheer scale of the titans and their horrific faces are used to convey exactly how horrifying the situation is. No need for massive flairs from the score when the titan looms over the wall. We can see how big those walls are, we can see how big the titan is, we don't need the score to tell us this is bad news. So the episode lets us absorb the horror without distracting us.

The episode was a slow burn until that final climax. And it worked well, foreshadowing the upcoming tragedy by showing exactly how unprepared the humans are for any kind of attack. Though, I have to wonder, if they are as defenseless agains the titans as they are shown then how in the heck did they manage to build that massive wall without the titans eating them all? I've played enough RTS' to know that building defenses is impossible when you are being attacked by a much more powerful enemy. Or, perhaps their ancestors of a hundred years ago were much bigger badasses than they and could somehow build that wall and fight off the titans.

While the most effective scenes in the episode are the quiet moments, where the sense of dread kept building towards the climax, a few of the performances were a bit too much. Characters constantly yelling at each other, or Eren constantly yelling at everyone else, was a bit much. He feels like a shonen hero trapped in constantly hopeless situation. Which, to an certain extent, he is, so it's either an interesting take on the shonen hero, or a clumsy attempt at interpersonal conflict where the atmosphere is enough to carry the proper mood for the episode. I think that's where my disconnect is. The atmosphere works so well for me as a subtle conflict, that any attempts at interpersonal conflict don't work quite so well.

Since I can't speak Japanese I'm not the best to comment on the performances of the actors, but Eren and his mother are easily my biggest complaint for this episode. It's like their seiyuu have only two settings, normal and loud—with no range in between. The reactions are all warranted by the events, but something about the performances just bugged me, like they didn't belong in this world. Sure, I'd be screaming too if giants were eating my family, but the difference between the characters and the mood of the episode made it difficult not to find this a bit annoying.

I like the overall setting, the design of the houses and clothes is more European than I'm used to with most anime, and since my preferred aesthetic for fantasy is medieval European I quite like this. Though there is that difference in technology levels that a lot of anime fantasy likes to bring in. I assume this is a post apocalyptic setting with humanity regressing from modern times, but it's so weird to see everyone dressing in clothes and living in houses that look like they came from the fifteenth century, and at the same time having super advanced spiderman cable systems.

I'm not sure if I can continue this series. It has a lot going for it, but the entire point is how horrifying it is to be eaten by giants. I'm not entirely sure, but I'm pretty sure if you made a few changes to the scenario it would qualify as a fetish for someone somewhere. But, that aside, I'm not too keen on dark material. Sure I chose this series because I know a thing or two about it, but I wasn't entirely sure exactly how dark it would, or could, get. I like the setting, and the idea that this is essentially a zombie series, but with giants, but eventually the excessive tragedy and darkness would distract me from everything I do like. I can definitely see that a lot of people would enjoy this series. But I just don't think it's for me. I feel that I at least owe it to the series to watch the second episode, but after that no guarantee.

The Grade

4/5

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The Story

The four kings gather together, and between them and Komatsu they compete to see who can catch the Madam Fish first. While the four kings use their special abilities to narrow down the Madam Fish's location, they all discover that Komatsu picked the right spot at the beginning, thanks to his food luck. Together they are able to catch the fish and defend it against an opportunistic predator.

The Review

Well then, this is a bit of an awkward title considering what episode number I have it on. It's not that I have it wrong, I'm counting the episode numbers based on what Hulu has, it's that the creators of the Toriko anime are in fact cheating with their numbering. Episode one was in fact a crossover with the popular One Piece; episode fifty one was yet another crossover with One Piece; and episode ninety nine was a crossover with One Piece AND Dragon Ball Z. So going by non-crossover episodes, or the only episodes we can get legally in the states, THIS is episode ninety seven.

Interesting side note, the very "first" episode of Toriko, ie/ the crossover one, has a different name in the One Piece episode list.

Though, since they insist on being a bunch of cheater faces, this is technically episode one hundred. And what do we get to celebrate such a momentous occasion? Well, for one, we get a canon episode so that's nice, but out of all the major moments of the series I wouldn't have thought that the Madam Fish chapter was worth commemorating as the hundredth episode. But I guess there's not much they could have done about that, besides not count the crossover episodes in the official episode ranking; and cutting out the filler episodes; and adjust the pacing to not only flow better but allow them to decide on a different episode for this hundredth episode. Actually, there was a lot they could have done.

This was a fine episode, nothing groundbreaking, and definitely not what I would have aired for a landmark occasion like this, but I guess that's just how things turned out. Toriko can pull off some surprisingly conflict free episodes every once in a while. With the exception of the scavenger at the end that is. Still, it's a mark of the characters' strength that even after going through the Toei prism they can support an episode about all of them going fishing.

Hitler Fish?

The appeal of this episode comes from the fact that it more or less stands on its own, and can be watched without having to worry about previous episodes. It's a nice breath of fresh air before the next big arc. Though, knowing the manga as I do, I'm aware that the next few episodes will be standalone stories taken from the manga. With maybe a bit of filler here and there. It would certainly be the best time to insert filler, rather than trying to force it into the middle of a big arc.

This episode will be unsatisfying for anyone that wants the kind of big stories we've had in the past. But it's a good chance for regular viewers of the show to sit back and enjoy a simple story without all the baggage of the larger story arcs. It's good, but not mind blowing.

The Grade

3/5

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Watch the Show Here!

The Story

Natsu fights Zancrow, but is overpowered by his God Slayer magic, and blown off the mountain. Elsewhere, Lucy and her group are fighting Caprico, but are unable to lay a hand on him. Loke shows signs of recognizing Caprico.

Natsu wakes up and finds the injured Makarov, who tells him to take everyone and flee from Grimoire Heart. Natsu refuses, and before the two can argue anymore, Zancrow arrives. Natsu shakes in front of his powerful opponent, but says that he may be afraid but he's not afraid of Zancrow, he's afraid someone other than himself will beat up whoever it was that hurt Makarov.

Lisanna and Mirajane face off against Azuma, with Lisanna showing off impressive transformation skills. But Azuma is too powerful for her. Mirajane lands an attack from behind on Azuma, who realizes that the sisters are more powerful than he had first suspected.

Natsu attempts to eat Zancrow's flames, after being trapped inside them, but is unable to. Makarov grabs Zancrow with a giant fist and begins to crush him, while his hand is being burned by the flames. Natsu empties all his magic power and is able to absorb Zancrow's flames into himself this way. Combining the two flames together he is able to defeat the God Slayer.

The Review

Well, since I promised to last review, I might as well get into why I hate the idea of God Slayers in Fairy Tail. Now, I could write a manifesto about why I think this such a stupid idea—something that I've been saying for years any time the topic is brought up. But, for the sake of brevity, and clarity, and not sounding like a raging lunatic, I'll keep my complaints limited to two points.

First, the thought process behind this development is as obvious as it is juvenile. "Okay, I need an enemy to seem really tough for Natsu at first. What's stronger than dragons? Oh, I know, gods are! Let's see, I want to have a connection between the two so readers know exactly how much more powerful Zancrow is. I know! I'll call him a God Slayer. That's like a Dragon Slayer, only better!"

It's the kind of reasoning I would expect from a preschooler, not a professional writer. It wouldn't be as obvious, were it not for the fact that:

Two, at no point in the series have we been told that gods are a real thing in the Fairy Tail world. We've seen cathedrals and churches, but we've never actually heard anything about the gods of the Fairy Tail universe. The existence of religion, a topic that hasn't gotten enough coverage for this sudden twist, does not automatically mean gods actually exist. Considering how many religions there are in the real world, and how mutually exclusive they all are, even if one of them is true, there will be multiple religions whose gods turn out to not actually exist. In the same way, just because there is religion in Fairy Tail doesn't mean that the gods of that religion are real. We've seen Celestial Spirits, and the Spirit King, are they the gods? Or are they more like angels? These are questions that need answering if we're supposed to buy the idea of God Slayers.

Furthermore, with Dragon Slayers we know for a fact that dragons are real and something that can be slain. And throughout the series we've gotten examples of how impressive their power is. With God Slayers, until we see what gods in Fairy Tail are like, what their power levels are, we don't really have any reference for how impressive a God Slayer actually is. Are we talking Norse or Greek god levels of power? Who are undoubtedly powerful and immortal, but not invincible according to their respective mythologies. Or are we talking about the Abrahamic god, the creator of all things and the most powerful being in the universe, incapable of being defeated under any circumstance? If we're talking the latter, then yeah, God Slayers would be impressive. But without knowing this, my only reference is that gods are more powerful than dragons. Which apparently they aren't because Natsu managed to beat Zancrow.

Ultimately, it comes down to needing a reference and foreshadowing for God Slayer powers. Without that proper foreshadowing Zancrow's power comes across as less than a lost magic with a deep, rich history, and more like the result of a playground argument.

Child 1: "I'm the most powerful because I'm a Dragon Slayer."

Child 2: "Oh yeah, well I'm even more powerful! I'm a God Slayer!"

Hiro Mashima (Hiding in the bushes): "Holy crap that kid's a genius!"

Police Officer: "Sir, this is the third time this week, you're going to have to come with me."

Hiro Mashima: "Run away!!"

My thoughts exactly, Natsu.

As for the rest of the episode, the focus was definitely on Natsu's fight, but we did still break between different scenes to help the pacing flow better. And in this case it worked out quite a bit better than last week. We only switched between three scenes overall, and each was long enough to take up some time without having to switch between a bunch of shorter segments. Azuma's blatant sexism is more amusing than offensive and it just makes me want to see him get his butt handed to him. Lisanna's transformations were weird, either goofy or fetishy, and she really should listen to Mirajane and let big sister handel the situation.

Despite my complaints about Zancrow, the finale of the episode was a lot better than I expected. Once again the music helps pick up the slack. Any climactic scene would be epic with Fairy Tail's soundtrack playing in the background. It helps me enjoy the scene without thinking about how dumb it is overall. And ultimately it's why I'm going to be giving this episode a higher grade than initially planned. It's worth a watch, just don't think about it too much.

The Grade

3/5

Buy The DVDs!

Fairy Tail: Part 1 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Fairy Tail: Part 2 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Fairy Tail: Part 3 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

Fairy Tail: Part 4 (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)

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