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.

Episodic Reviews

Konohana Kitan – Episodes 1-12 [Complete]

Originally Aired: Fall 2017

Konohana Kitan is a cute, relaxing slice-of-life story about foxgirls running a mystical bathouse for spirits, ghosts, and other mythological entities. It features some lovely characters, lush art direction, and a few emotionally heartrenching stories (don’t you dare remind me about the dog). It teases it’s characters same-sex relationships a bit too much, considering it never goes anywhere particularly meaningful or deep with them, but Konohan Kitan is still the perfect series to pair with a warm blanket and some cocoa on a lazy afternoon.

You can find my full episodic reviews on Anime News Network.

Episodic Reviews

Garo: Vanishing Line – Episodes 1-24 [Complete]

Originally Aired: Fall 2017/Winter 2018

I love the basic concept of the Garo franchise: Heroes hunting demons in the shadows, using magical powers and badass suits of armor to do it. Vanishing Line is the first of the animated Garo series I’d seen, and while it delivered the action and spectacle I was hoping for (most of the time), it also turned out to be an unexpectedly engaging story backed up by a strong and well-developed cast of heroes.

The first half of the series is the most predictable: Meat-headed hero Sword and his stoic partner, Luke, are hunting down the source of the Horrors that have been plaguing their city, which come from a mysterious place called “El Dorado”. A young girl named Sophie happens to be searching for El Dorado too, as she believes it is where she’ll find her missing older brother. For the intial twelve episodes of the series, Sword and Sophie do the usual thing of slowly learning to trust each other so they can work together to meet their goals.

The second-half of the series is much more interesting, though. It takes the form of a bizarre, fantasy-horror tinged road trip across the fictionalized US of the Garo universe, with Sword, Sophie, Luke, and a buxom mage named Gina forming a makeshift family of sorts. The action and storytelling in the back half of Vanishing Line can be a little messy at points, but there’s far more heart there than I ever could have predicted would come from what started as the season’s other, better homage to the T&A fuelled violence of 80s and 90s OVAs.

You can find my episodic reviews of all 24 episodes of Garo: Vanishing Line on Anime News Network.

Episodic Reviews

Juni Taisen: Zodiac War – Episodes 1-12 [Complete]

Originally Aired: Fall 2017

Boy, what a mess. This series comes from the famed author of the Monogatari franchise, but it contains little to none of that former series’ wit, thematic density, or even it’s fun. The first couple of episodes promise a blood-soaked homage to the gory anime OVAs of the 80s and 90s, but instead Juni Taisen devolves into a messy, poorly told deconstruction of Battle Royale-type stories.

This would be all well and good, except Juni Taisen has no idea of what it wants to say outside of “War can be messed up, and stuff”. There are the whispers of better stories buried beneath all of the muck, especially with Tiger’s arc late in the season, but it is never enough to make up for the boring action, terrible characters, and awful pacing that plagues Juni Taisen for a vast majority of its runtime.

If you’d like to check out my episodic reviews, you can find them on Anime News Network.