Episodic Reviews

DARLING in the FRANXX – Episodes 1-24 [Complete]

Easily the most controversial set of reviews I’ve ever had to write (so far), DARLING in the FRANXX began it’s run with a lot of promise. This show was a combination of the production efforts of Studio TRIGGER and A-1 (who later renamed the offshoot team that worked on this series to Cloverworks), and it started off with a lot of potential and hype.

The first half of the series is a bit messy and way too derivative of other, better shows (*cough* Evangelion *cough*), but it still managed to tell and endearingly cheesy love story punctuated by well animated mecha battles, all set in a reasonably compelling post-apocalyptic landscape. Hiro never made much of an impression as the series lead, but his partner Zero Two had the benefit of energetic characterization and a top-tier character design, so it’s easy to see why folks latched on to her as the season’s Best Girl™. The robots themselves, called FRANXX, were an interesting hybrid of bulky mecha designs and, erm, “humanoid” proportions (they have boobs, you see). The method of piloting the FRANXX is perhaps the least subtle sex-metaphor ever put to screen, but the battles they have with the mysterious Klaxosaurs are usually quite fun. DARLING in the FRANXX mostly worked in it’s first cour, despite some troubling subtext and a few puzzling story beats.

The second half of the series, though, started off as problematic and devolved into a hot mess of terrible exposition, confusing and potentially offensive themes, and one of the worst attempts at executing and 11th-hour “twist” that I’ve ever seen. Zero Two’s characterization undergoes a lobotmy that rids her of any of the charm and personality she started the show as, Hiro becomes an increasingly insufferable and selfish asshole of a protagonist, and the Big Reveal that explains the true motivations of the Klaxosaurs is just irredeemably dumb. I didn’t hate DARLING in the FRANXX, but it did manage to almost completely nullify everything I liked about its first half with every awful decision it made getting to its finale, and I’d consider the final product to be mostly a waste of time.

Don’t let any of the hardcore FRANXX fans find out about that, though, because they very well might try to hunt me down and pelt me to death with their expensive Zero Two figurines.

My full set of streaming reviews can be found on Anime News Network.

Episodic Reviews

MEGALOBOX – Episodes 1-13 [Complete]

Originally Aired: Spring 2018

MEGALOBOX fucking rules. Functionally, it’s a remake/homage of the seminal 70s boxing anime Ashita no Joe, but aesthetically it’s a supremely cool callback to the hip-hop fueled badassery of early 2000s series. It’s a very familiar story told with so much confidence and style that you can’t help but get engrossed in it’s grimy world, and I loved every single second of it.

My reviews of MEGALOBOX can be found on Anime News Network.

Episodic Reviews

Kokkoku – Episodes 1-12 [Complete]

Originally Aired: Winter 2018

Kokkoku is an anime with a fascinating premise hamstrung by terrible execution. It’s an adult narrative about a dysfunctional family finding out they can stop-time, only to be caught up in a crisis of cults, monsters, and their own personal hangups. The show is usually ugly as sin, and the ending is godawful, but there are just enough bright spots for me to recommend giving the series a look if you think you’d be interested. At least the first half of it; after that…yikes.

My reviews of Kokkoku can be found on Anime News Network.

Episodic Reviews

Vatican Miracle Examiners – Episodes 1-12 [Complete]

Originally Aired: Summer 2017

Vatican Miracle Examiners is a glriously insane and vaguely homo-erotic supernatural mystery show about Catholic Priests who solve mysteries and debunk fraudulent miracles. It’s a hot mess from beginning to end, and mostly a waste of time, but there is one exceptionally wonderful arc in the first four episodes that involves secret Nazis, an army of brainwashed schoolboys, and a psychotic clone of Hitler that ends up getting set on fire with acid. Watch those episodes if you can, because who knows when we’ll get something as ludcrously stupid as that again.

My reviews for Vatican Miracle Examiners can be found on on Anime News Network.

Episodic Reviews

The Reflection – Episodes 1-12 [Complete]

Originally Aired: Summer 2017

The Reflection will likely be remembered as an interesting experiment, if nothing else. The show’s highly-Americanized take on superheroes, as well as it’s controversial cell-shaded and rotoscoped animation, are the result of Stan Lee’s BOOM! Studios and animation veteran (of The Flowers of Evil fame). It’s a neat idea that never fully gells together, mostly due to the story’s incredibly slow pacing combined with it’s generally broad and vague storytelling.

I enjoyed some parts of it, and was bored to tears by others, and though a second season was teased awhile back, the recent legal drama between Stan Lee and BOOM! Studios has me thinking that The Reflection won’t be making it’s grand reappearance any time soon.

You can find my episodic reviews of the series on Anime News Network.

Episodic Reviews

Made in Abyss – Episodes 1-13 [Complete]

Originally Aired: Summer 2017

I don’t want to say too much about Made in Abyss here, because I have some future content planned for exploring the series in much greater depth, but suffice it to say that Made in Abyss is one of the greatest anime I’ve ever seen. Kinema Citrus took Akihito Tsukushi‘s underground manga and essentially perfected it by ironing out the series more problematic elements as much as possible while commiting every ounce of skill and effort they had to gorgeously adapting the source material’s darkly beautiful vision.

Plus, Kevin Penkin’s score is one of the all time great OSTs, anime or otherwise.

You can find my original episodic reviews for Made in Abyss on Anime News Network.

Episodic Reviews

Himouto! Umaru-chan R – Episodes 10-12 [Complete]

Originally Aired: Fall 2017

Himouto! Umaru-chan R represents one of the biggest 180s I’ve seen a franchise take in a while. I reviewed the first season of the series for ANN back in 2017, and it just didn’t click with me. The titular Umaru was just too much of a selfish-brat for me to latch on to the comedy, though things did improve in the final few episodes.

Himouto! Umaru-chan R, however, manages to recontextualize Umaru’s childishness in a way that keeps her a brat while making her infinitely more likable, and I ended up loving the second season ten times more than the first. The side-characters get much more to do this season, too, which means that the stories the show can tell are much more varied and impactful. Himouto! Umaru-chan R is so good, in fact, that I can appreciate the first season much more in retrospect. A turnaround like that is no easy feat.

You can find my episodic reviews of Himouto! Umaru-chan R on Anime News Network.