Back Row Reflections – The Last Jedi

The following article contains spoilers for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.
You have been warned.
Besides it’s been out for over a month now. You’ve had time, damn it.

Well then, this has been a long time coming. I first saw The Last Jedi back in December, four days after it came out. Then proceeded to see it again three separate times in January. Partially because I gave The Force Awakens three showings, so decided since I like The Last Jedi more it had earned a fourth one. Though also because I could afford it.

Now, I could honestly go on forever about what I like, what I love, what I think is a little questionable and what gripes people have I can concede to, but if I did that all in this one piece I’d be here all day, and these things take me long enough to write as is. So instead I’ve decided to split my thoughts into one or two (three if I can justify it) entries, with this one being more of a “general scope” piece, and any additional stuff I write on the movie being a lot more specific to certain aspects of the movie that I can write about for long enough to justify it. That all being said I think I’ve exposited enough, let’s get into the meat of this thing.

Simply put, The Last Jedi is arguably the best Star Wars movie ever made. And it’s also, arguably, the single most polarising film in Star Wars history. And that’s saying a lot after the mixed reaction The Force Awakens received. Hell, my own opinion of The Force Awakens went from “what the hell is this?” to “Okay I like it now” to “Okay this movie is trying way too hard”.

But when I saw The Last Jedi for the first time? I loved it. I almost cried, because this was the Star Wars sequel I wanted. The Force Awakens was trying too hard to piggyback off the nostalgia train and ultimately doesn’t hold up upon further viewing (for me anyway) for the most part. Having seen The Last Jedi FOUR times in the cinemas now, I can tell you it absolutely holds up for me.

I honestly went into Last Jedi with very low expectations, given my waning interest in Force Awakens. I just couldn’t find myself getting hyped up for it at all. How could Rian Johnson do any better than JJ “Mystery Box” Abrams? Well, at least in my opinion, Rian Johnson did astronomically better by taking a lot of what bugged me about The Force Awakens and either handling it better, or going against the expectations everyone had for what may happen next.

To go into a bit more detail about that, since I may as well, let’s go for the low hanging fruit first. It’s often joked that The Force Awakens is basically “A New Hope 2”, which is hard to dispute given how many blatant similarities the movies have. All the way down to them feeling the need to hype how superior their “planet destroying space station” is compared to the previous one, in a moment that reads like a rejected Paul Hogan sketch.

“That’s not a Death Star. THAT’S a Death Star”

On the other hand, you have The Last Jedi. While Last Jedi does take elements from both Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, it does something interesting with them, as opposed to purely playing them out virtually unchanged for the sake of nostalgia. As a friend of mine once said, “This is not The Empire Strikes Back”. Yes, the scenes that were inspired by Empire & Return are quite obvious, but they also actually do something different aside from execution.

The most glaring difference being exactly how Kylo Ren betrays Snoke, and the fallout of these actions. Unlike Vader before him, Kylo isn’t saving Rey from a torturous death, as she’d already been tortured for information. On top of that, Vader’s act of defiance in killing The Emperor solidified his turn back to the light before his death. We’re led to believe at first that Kylo has possibly turned back to the light, but it’s made apparent in short order that Kylo has no intentions of turning back. He’s too far gone at this point to even consider it an option.

And my God, Kylo Ren, now there’s a turnaround worth talking about. If there’s one thing this movie did right, it was the character progression for Kylo Ren. In The Force Awakens he’s a bit of a whiny emo living in the shadow of his grandfather, Darth Vader. Over the course of Last Jedi, that angst turns into a focused rage. Sure, he can’t bring himself to kill his mother (I’ll get to that later), but at least at that point he’s still unbalanced, so it made sense that he wouldn’t have it in him to do it. Plus, he’d never expressed hatred for his mother. So again, the hesitation makes sense.

Another interesting evolution Kylo has undergone is the gradual journey from someone who wants to be Darth Vader, to wanting to be his own man. As he himself says “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become who you were meant to be”. It’s in this one revelation alone that we could possibly have foreseen Kylo’s eventual betrayal against Snoke and ascension to Supreme Leader of the First Order.

And then there’s Rey. Rey…doesn’t ultimately change too much in the grand scheme. I mean, sure, she’s had to hear some hard truths from Luke, but ultimately her undying optimism (which you could argue becomes Jedi arrogance) is almost her undoing. I would like to point out, however, I’m not saying the fact she doesn’t change much is necessarily a bad thing. If anything, I feel her character was generally handled a lot better in Last Jedi than in Force Awakens. You could argue it’s odd that she holds her own against those guards in the battle after Snoke’s death, but I was honestly okay with it.

Rey does okay, yes, but it’s clear she’s struggling a lot more than Kylo is, which makes perfect sense. It’s more so quick thinking on her part that saves her at one point more than skill. I mean, hell, at least now she’s had a tiny bit of training. It’s better than Force Awakens, where apparently all it took for her to beat Kylo was to remember the force exists and concentrate really hard. Sorry if it seems I’m being too harsh on Force Awakens by the way, but that’s kind of what happens when my only point of reference right now in modern Star Wars is Force Awakens (No, Rogue One doesn’t count).

I think that will do it for now on that subject, so since this is already longer than I expected, I’m going to move on to the elephant in the room. Leia’s “Superman” scene. I honestly didn’t mind it. I can kind of understand why people think it’s stupid or silly, but, this is the daughter of Darth Vader we’re talking about here. If Luke can force-project across the galaxy, and Vader can do half the crap some of the expanded universe has allowed him to do? I think we can let Leia saving herself from the vacuum of space, only to go right into a coma a bit of leniency. Don’t you think? By the way that most of why I give it a pass. It’s not like she’s totally fine after the fact. She’s in a coma for several hours in-universe, and needs a cane to get around after she wakes up.

As far as the last major talking point I have goes, I have an idea for something else I’m going to write that doesn’t allow me to talk about Luke’s portrayal much here. However, I will say I loved how they portrayed him. And to anyone who thinks his reasons for going into exile are “weak”, just remember he almost killed his own damn nephew out of fear and was the catalyst for Ben Solo to become Kylo Ren. If you can’t believe the depression that would bring on would be enough for Luke to want to hide away from the world? I don’t know what to tell you.

That being said, I also loved the force-projection stuff. Especially the attention to detail. At first the whole thing confused the hell out of me, personally. “Why does he look like he did the flashbacks? How did he get there so quick? (I know, light speed travel, but still) Why hasn’t he got his green lightsaber?”. Once it became obvious I almost had to applaud them. Especially upon further viewings, and noticing that while Kylo disturbs the ground every time he moves his feet, Luke’s projection never does.

Moving on from that I think I’ll round this out by finally mentioning my favourite talking point. The fact Rey is NOT a Skywalker. So many people seem confused or angered by this, and I don’t see why. Sure, her seemingly natural ability with the force would probably be a lot easier to hand wave away, but I prefer the notion that she’s a nobody. It actually makes her more interesting in my opinion. Besides, we already have a third-generation Skywalker in the mix with Kylo Ren, so they’ve checked that box already.

Wow. This really did end up being a lot longer than I thought it’d be. Apologies for that, but I’d rather get everything out there than regret leaving something out later. There were some things I didn’t mention, but they were fairly minor by comparison so I don’t mind leaving them out. So, what do you guys think? Agree with my thoughts? Disagree? Think I should rot in hell for not liking The Force Awakens? Let me know.

WWE Royal Rumble 2018 Review

So, hello. Been a good while since I’ve done one of these, and with good reason. I decided rather than doing catch-up reviews I’d just actually bother catching up on the PPVs before reviewing them again.

Kick-Off Matches

Kalisto, Gran Metalik, & Lince Dorado vs.
TJ Perkins, Jack Gallagher & Drew Gulak

Very solid six-man tag match. Kind of bugged me that the crowd was so dead for most of it, but I guess to be fair the fans had only started getting let into the arena a short while before this match. Best spot of the match was when all three of the faces got up on the same turnbuckle and all hit a moonsault onto someone on the outside. The faces ultimately got the win when Kalisto hit TJ with the Salida Del Sol.

Match Rating – Solid B+

The Revival vs. The Club

Honestly this match was nothing to really write home about. Not a terrible match necessarily, but fairly forgettable in hindsight. The Revival getting the win was nice to see though, since this was basically them getting a win back on Gallows & Anderson. Yeah nothing else to really say. Again, not a bad match, but also fairly by-the-numbers.

Match Rating – Solid C+

US Championship Open Challenge: Bobby Roode (c) vs. Mojo Rawley

Was kind of surprised to see Mojo Rawley be the challenger, but it works. Although I’m a little disappointed in hindsight that Mojo didn’t interrupt someone else answering the challenge by beating them down and taking their place. Would’ve given him some more heat going into it, but oh well. The match itself was okay. Not the best match these two could’ve had by any stretch, but like the former match I didn’t exactly hate it.

The main thing that bothered me was the finish being a bit sloppy. Roode goes or a Tornado DDT from the second turnbuckle but rather than doing it properly, he ends up landing on his feet before hitting a normal DDT. I don’t know if that was a case of miscommunication or not but it was really weird. To the point I thought Mojo would kick out and Roode would hit a normal Glorious DDT. But he didn’t. So yeah, serviceable match, but hindered a bit by that iffy finish.

Match Rating – Solid C-

One last thing I’d like to mention is the absolute hilarity of the crowd hyping themselves up by counting down every time the counter to the main show got to ten seconds and even making a buzzer noise. I got a few cheap laughs out of it. Thanks for the laugh Philadelphia. Hopefully you keep that enthusiasm the rest of the night.

Main Show

Handicap match for the WWE Championship:
AJ Styles (c) vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

Not the match I was expecting to open the PPV if I’m honest, but a good match none-the-less. I’m definitely glad they also exploited the fact this was a handicap match by having Sami or Owens help the other from succumbing to AJ’s finishers, since it helped to protect them a little. The finish itself was initially a little confusing until I realised they did it on purpose. That being Kevin Owens getting pinned despite clearly not being the legal man.

AJ comes away with the win in any case and both Sami & Kevin looked good despite losing. Hell, the victory roll finish helped with that I’d argue, but generally the way they worked the match made it believable that AJ could beat the two. I assume this feud or the Sami/KO & Shane feud will continue into whatever the next SmackDown PPV before blowing off at Mania, but who knows.

Match Rating – Solid A-

2/3 Falls for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships:
The Usos (c) vs. Shelton Benjamin & Chad Gable

Holy shit was this match good. It took forever to get one fall, but the build to it was great. That said I did not see The Usos winning two straight falls coming at all, and the latter fall almost seemed a bit unintentional as well. It legit looked like Gable was supposed to break it up to me but fucked up his timing. That said that’s just one minor nit-pick in an otherwise fantastic tag team match.

Match Rating – Solid A+

Men’s Royal Rumble match

Funny how we have to make that distinction now isn’t it? What a time to be alive. I’m honestly surprised this match was the third match in, but I guess the novelty of the Women’s Rumble being a first-time thing makes sense for it to go on second. That said rather than write out varying thoughts on what happened I’ll list some moments/aspects of the match worth mentioning.

• Corbin gets eliminated then knocks out Balor, Rusev & Slater (as Slater comes out)
• Elias sings because everyone’s knocked out
• Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas is a surprise NXT entrant
• Tye Dillinger draws #10 again only to be taken out backstage
• Sami Zayn takes Tye’s place
• Slater eliminates Sheamus in about two seconds after finally getting in the match, then gets eliminated
• All three members of New Day are in at once
• Adam Cole (BAYBAY) is another surprise NXT entrant
• Jinder eliminates Big E & Xavier before being eliminated by Almas
• Matt Hardy & Bray Wyatt eliminate each other
• The Hurricane returns then gets almost immediately eliminated
• Almas lasts almost a half hour before finally getting eliminated
• Rey Mysterio is a surprise entrant at #26
• Dolph Ziggler returned to WWE after about a month off TV as #30
• Final 4 are Reigns, Cena, Balor & Shinsuke

And finally, SHINSUKE WINS MOTHER FUCKERS! WAHOOOOO! HOLY SHIT! I am SO happy right now. I’d kind of had it spoiled for me but I marked the fuck out when he won regardless. And they even custom made it to have the biggest pop possible by having him eliminate Cena and then Reigns to win the whole thing. Honest to God this is the best Royal Rumble match I’ve seen in YEARS.

Can’t praise it enough. Sure, some eliminations bothered me, but guys like Rhyno & The Hurricane weren’t gonna win anyway so it’s more of an issue based on personal bias. But yeah, damn, the women’s Rumble match has a lot to live up to now.

Match Rating – Solid A+

RAW Tag Team Championships match:
Seth Rollins & Jason Jordan (c) vs. The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro)

Three of these men were in the Rumble that just happened. Speaking of which I really wish the Men’s Rumble had happened after this instead of before. The match itself was interesting, though I’d half think Jordan was working through an injury for how little he was in this match. He got smacked into the post and then did literally nothing aside from tag himself in, then tag back out to sell the post.

Also, I gave so little of a shit about this match that I almost finished writing this review up before realising I hadn’t finished my thoughts on it. Take that how you will. Though I didn’t hate it. But I do hate short title runs, so you know, there’s that.

Match Rating – Solid B+ (Decided to be nice since Rollins put in a good showing considering how long he lasted in the Rumble)

WWE Universal Championship match:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Kane

I don’t give a flying fuck about this match Why? Because Lesnar won. Fuck you Lesnar. Drop the title or retire already.

Match Rating – Solid Z (Fuck you I can rate this as badly as I want, it’s my review)

Women’s Royal Rumble match

Well thank God, my prayers were answered. Since the men’s Rumble didn’t close the show, this one did. And really, I hope that’s how it goes from now on. That being the men’s and women’s Rumble matches take turns closing the show. Like before I’ll just point out moments of interest from the match as opposed to making five or six paragraphs talking about stuff in detail.

• First women ever involved in this match are Sasha Banks & Becky Lynch
• Lita makes her in-ring return as a surprise entrant at #5
• Kairi Sane makes her main roster debut at #6
• Tamina becomes the first woman ever eliminated from the Women’s Rumble
• Torrie Wilson makes her in-ring return to WWE as entrant #9
• Molly Holly makes her in-ring return as a surprise entrant at #12
• Michelle McCool gets 3 straight eliminations
• For some bizarre reason Vickie Guerrero is a surprise entrant at #16. Way to waste a spot WWE.
• For some other bizarre reason Kelly Kelly is also in this match at #19
• Jacqueline makes her in-ring return in WWE at #21
• Ember Moon makes her main roster debut at #23
• Beth Phoenix returns as a surprise entrant at #24
• Trish Stratus makes an in-ring return as the final entrant
• Final four are the Bella Twins, Asuka & Sasha Banks

And finally, ASUKA WINS! I mean yeah sure, we all knew Asuka was gonna win but damn it’s still good to see happen after how disappointing I’ve heard her main roster run has been so far. Even if the finish was a bit clunky. Then after the match we have this really random and awkward segment where Ronda shows up, points at the Mania sign, stares at Asuka, Bliss & Charlotte, points again, shakes hands with Steph and then leaves. And that’s how the PPV ends.

What should be Asuka’s crowning moment in WWE gets spoiled by a woman who does basically nothing aside from show up. I really feel they should’ve just saved this for the RAW after the PPV instead. Or have just had Rousey be present for the entire match so this whole thing didn’t come out of nowhere. Seriously, watch that segment and try to convince me it didn’t seem anti-climactic.

Either way, Asuka wins, yay, I don’t care who she faces since either match should be good. That said I feel the men’s Rumble was ultimately the better overall match. The women’s Rumble wasn’t shit by any means, no, but I just felt a lot more excited for the men’s Rumble, and ultimately what we got was a better overall experience.

Cut some of those bizarre entry choices out and it would’ve been a lot better than it already was. Again, it was a solid match, but just didn’t live up to the hype for me, unlike some of the other “first time in WWE” women’s matches have.

Match Rating – Solid A-

Overall Thoughts

Aside from my unbridled hatred for how Brock “I win lol” Lesnar is booked this was a very solid PPV, which makes me happier than I’ve been in a while for a big four PPV. I really hope they keep this going leading into WrestleMania. Mainly I hope Lesnar drops the title at Elimination Chamber. A man can dream, right? Anyway, I may as well stop now or I’m just gonna keep finding ways to bitch about how Lesnar is being used. So yeah, solid PPV, fuck Brock Lesnar. I’ll see you guys again for Elimination Chamber.

Overall PPV Rating – Solid B+
(Would’ve been at least an A or A- but my hatred of Lesnar brought it down)

Back Row Reflections – Blade Runner 2049

The following article contains minor spoilers for the movie “Blade Runner 2049”.
You have been warned.

The day I’m writing this is the day I saw both the original Blade Runner (Director’s Cut) and the subject of this article, the 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049. As such my thoughts are gut/initial reactions to both, so keep that in mind, please. That said, this will primarily be my thoughts on certain aspects of the sequel. Though there are some thoughts on the original that I’ll be bringing up when they’re relevant.
With that preamble out of the way, let’s get to it.

(Final note: Occasionally I’ll simply refer to the sequel as “2049” for short)

Blade Runner 2049 is a movie I’m surprised actually managed to turn out the way it did. This, a sequel to a neo-noir sci-fi movie from the early eighties that actually manages to keep the spirit of the original intact. Logic dictates this should’ve been an action-filled mess, or generally have just missed the point of the original entirely.

I would assume the involvement of Ridley Scott (who I was surprised to learn was just an executive producer, not the director for this) helped with that. And the safe assumption the director, Denis Villeneuve, was committed to keeping the tone in line with the original. Also helps that one of the original writers was on board. Generally speaking, the stars seemed to align in this specific case, and the movie is all the better for it.

The main talking point I have is something I might as well get out of the way now, and is a nice segue from the point I just made. 2049 has several moments where it looks like it could turn into an action-movie out of nowhere. But it doesn’t. Sure, there are some action scenes, but they’re very subdued and brief. The most “action-movie” thing that happens (apart from a few, very brief fight scenes) is when the character “Luv” and some lackeys come to kidnap Deckard.

They blow a section or two out of the side of the building Deckard & K are in, which knocks them (and Deckard’s dog) back as a result. From memory that was the only explosion in the movie, and even then, it was a fairly small one. Especially given the size of the building being hit. This was one of few key instances where I expected the movie to devolve into a typical action set piece…and (thankfully) that never happened.

Don’t get me wrong, I like big action set pieces as much as the next person. When they actually belong in the movie in question. Blade Runner & 2049 are not action movies, and they never really try to be. While I’m not sure how much this made Blade Runner stand out back in the early eighties (given I wasn’t born yet), I know for sure it makes 2049 stand out among the movies of today.

Of the few sci-fi/sci-fi-related movies I have seen (and one yet to be released) this year, 2049 stands out like a sore thumb in the best way possible. I have a feeling Hollywood thinks this kind of movie can’t be made anymore, or can’t make money. Hopefully the fact that 2049 has already made its budget back proves them wrong. Though at the same time, I hope it doesn’t make them try to milk the franchise dry. Given rumblings of sequels to 2049 I won’t hold my breath though.

Tangent aside, I’ll now end on my thoughts comparing the original to the sequel. Straight to the point, I actually like 2049 more than the original. While I will concede I may have to give Blade Runner a proper watch later on (and also watch The Final Cut, as I’ve only seen the Director’s Cut), there’s just something missing from it that I feel 2049 actually has. And while I can’t pin-point too much, there is one major factor 2049 has over the original. Time. 2049 has a run time of almost three hours. Blade runner, no matter which version you’re watching, falls short of two hours.

While this might seem like an odd thing to bring up as a flaw of the original, I really do believe a lack of time is what hinders it slightly in comparison to 2049. 2049 has plenty of time to set up the plot and characters involved, especially the main character K. Blade Runner has some characters that you could honestly cut out entirely and it feels like you ultimately wouldn’t lose much. At least from a story perspective.

Whether it was thought a two-and-a-half-hour movie of this nature wouldn’t sell in 1982, or Ridley Scott just envisioned it as being as long as it was, I don’t know for sure. But again, I feel an extra half hour could’ve been added, which could’ve allowed for certain aspects to be expanded upon. Oh, also, I feel 2049 has a better/more fulfilling ending than Blade Runner. Sue me.

All-in-all I enjoyed the absolute hell out of Blade Runner 2049. And while I am very sceptical about any potential sequels that may happen in the future, I feel the future is bright for this franchise so long as the team behind 2049 is kept around to make sure it’s handled correctly.

The Podcast Without Banners: The Dragon And The Wolf

The Podcast Without Banners returns as Thomas, Maeve & Bill give their thoughts on the season finale of Game Of Thrones season 7.

The Podcast Without Banners: Beyond The Wall

The Podcast Without Banners returns as Thomas Fyrehart, Maeve LaFey & Bill Silvia give their thoughts on the penultimate episode of GoT season 7, “Beyond The Wall”.

The Podcast Without Banners – Eastwatch

The Podcast Without Banners returns as Thomas Fyrehart, Maeve LaFey & Bill Silvia give our thoughts on episode 5 of GoT season 7, Eastwatch.

The Podcast Without Banners – The Spoils Of War

The Podcast Without Banners returns, this time they give their thoughts on episode 4 of Game Of Thrones season 7. Due to technical difficulties, only Bill Silvia & Maeve LaFey will be giving their thoughts on this episode.

The Podcast Without Banners – The Queen’s Justice

The Podcast Without Banners returns as Thomas Fyrehart, Maeve LaFey and Bill Silvia give their thoughts on episode 3 of season 7; The Queen’s Justice.

The Podcast Without Banners – Stormborn

The Podcast Without Banners returns as Thomas Fyrehart, Maeve LaFey and newest recruit Bill Silvia give their thoughts on episode 2 of season 7; Stormborn.

The Podcast Without Banners – Dragonstone

The Podcast Without Banners returns after a two year hiatus, as Thomas Fyrehart and Maeve LaFey give their thoughts on episode one of season seven; Dragonstone.

At First Glance – Black Butler

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the concept of these “At First Glance” articles is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Black Butler

Ah yes, Black Butler. This one has been on my to-do list for a while, especially since it was suggested to me back when I started doing these in 2016. So, to the person who did suggest/request this…sorry it’s taken so long. As far as my knowledge of the anime went, this was another of those anime I was vaguely aware of but had absolutely no idea what it was about. And going by some of the promotional imagery, including this article’s banner, let’s just say you could be forgiven for expecting something other than what we get.

No, Black Butler thankfully isn’t what the imagery implies, it’s just a story about a rich tween boy called Ciel Phantomhive in Victorian England who has a Demon Butler, and is also apparently Queen Victoria’s Guard Dog, investigating and solving crimes in London’s seedy underground. You know. The usual. Oh, also he has three other servants who act as comic relief, and one of them looks like an interpretation of the Final Fantasy character Cid.

Which makes sense given Square Enix had a hand in publishing the manga

There isn’t ultimately too much to say about the events of episode, other than it serving as a good introduction to the characters more than anything. We’re not given much of a background on the characters yet, aside from a cold opening showing the deal being made between Ciel and Sebastian. Though we’re given no context as of yet exactly why this deal was made aside from hints. Though I am aware due to reading up a tiny bit.

I must admit, I actually expected this episode to have action in it. I mean, you know, demon butler and all. The actual approach of playing this more like a drama with some psychological horror kind of thrown in as well ended up working fairly well. Though I am aware there is action in this anime. So, this episode being more of a set up explains the lack of it.

One thing that irked me about this though is the English dub. Yes. I’m complaining about the English dub. I rarely if ever do that, but this is one instance where I will indulge in that kind of snobbery. The English accents in this are horrible. Just horrible. Well, most are anyway. Sebastian is fine, and to an extent so is Ciel, but Baldroy, Mey-Rin & Finnian’s accents are all just so terribly exaggerated that it takes me out of the moment. Whatever comic relief they’re supposed to provide just turns into annoyance.

Also, those three having very thick working class English accents makes no sense. Baldroy is from the US, Mey-Rin is of Chinese descent and Finnian is of German descent. Baldroy might as well have a thick US accent of some kind, and the other two should either be speaking English with a much posher accent than they are, as they’d have been taught English by Sebastian, or they’d be speaking English with an accent fitting their heritage. And yes, this is normally a silly thing to expect from an anime dub, but they went through the trouble of bothering to give them accents at all, so they could’ve afforded to be a bit broader with their choices. Maybe that’s just me though.

I’ll just stop there so I don’t end up talking in circles. In any case, will I continue to watch Black Butler? Well, the concept has me interested enough, plus I can’t really judge it too much on this one episode. I will say however, I’m not watching it in English again.

For those who are interested, Black Butler consists of 46 episodes across three seasons (24 in season one, 12 in season two, and 10 in season three “Book Of Circus”, respectively), all of which are available in both subbed and dubbed formats. There are also nine OVAs for the show overall (one for season one, six for season two, and two for season 3 respectively), all of which are also available in both subbed and dubbed formats. Lastly there is also both an animated Black Butler movie (available subbed and dubbed) and a live-action one.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

At First Glance – Food Wars!

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the concept of these “At First Glance” articles is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Food Wars!: Shokugeki No Soma

Well now. Where to start. Going into Food Wars I figured this would just be a cooking anime, maybe with some action-y emphasis to make it funny/interesting. What I got…well, let’s just talk about the set up first, shall we?

Food Wars is about Sōma Yukihira, a plucky middle schooler who works at his father’s local restaurant as he tries to hone his skill as a chef. Apparently Sōma and his father are continually hounded by loan sharks who want to buy the building they live and work in so they build an apartment block or hotel or something on top of it. This seems like it would be a recurring theme throughout the show or something, but no. Later in the episode the loan sharks trash the place and the head loan shark, a woman with…err…” large ambitions” …tries to force Sōma into making a meat dish for her, knowing full well they ruined all the meat.

Pictured: Large Ambitions

Unfortunately for the lady loan shark, this backfires, as Sōma creates a dish using things he’d bought to have for breakfast the next morning. The dish, a Pork Roast of sorts made using bacon wrapped over a potato/mushroom filing and such, goes over quite well. A little…too well, really.

No joke needed

Point being Sōma manages to save the family business by making the woman swear they’ll leave his family alone if she wants to eat more of the dish he made. She agrees, family business saved, then it turns out Sōma’s dad is closing the place for a few years anyway to help a friend out overseas.

So, Sōma gets shipped off to a cooking academy. A cooking academy that turns out to be one of the country’s best (at least in the show’s universe), with a very low graduation rate. Good luck with that Sōma.

Okay, let’s get down to the main…I just realised whatever word I’m thinking of using it’ll be a food or cooking pun. Damn it. Oh well. The main portion of this article will basically me be talking about what I tried to refrain from mentioning until now. That being that this anime actually rivals Prison School when it comes to the amount of borderline hentai imagery that this anime has. I’m not even kidding.

It’s basically a running joke that this anime has everyone having orgasms of varying degrees any time they eat anything they find to be delicious. From fairly subtle reactions like this.

To more intense reactions, like the infamous moment where the loan sharks all eat some of the Pork dish and orgasm so hard they go into a fantasy where their clothes rip right off them.

Then there’s the opposite extreme when Mayumi, a classmate of Sōma, is forced to eat an intentionally horrible dish he created. Her reaction not so much being orgasmic as much as feeling like her mouth was..violated. Which is shown to us via what I can only describe as softcore tentacle porn.

Yeah I’m actively avoiding showing some stuff as you can see. Why? Because I like being on That Ruled, that’s why. Besides, you can easily find it in your own time. Or you’ve already seen it, so you know what I’m talking about anyway. Point being there’s a lot of stuff in this that caught me off guard, considering I was just expecting a fairly simple anime about cooking. I mean, this is still an anime about cooking and the premise is still fairly simple, but I only got a warning about the whole “food-gasm” aspect of the show minutes before I watched this episode. This really is the Prison School of this genre of anime.

That said, will I continue to watch Food Wars? Yes. Holy fuck, yes. This is far too hilarious for me to just give up after one episode. That and the anime is different enough from others I’ve watched for this to generally keep me interested. I’d definitely recommend people give this show a watch. However, do not watch it in public, or near your parents, or near pretty much anyone who would judge you if they’d walk in at the wrong moment. It’d be pretty damn awkward.

For those interested, Food Wars currently consists of 37 episodes across two seasons (24 in season 1, and 13 in “The Second Plate” respectively), with a third season set to air in October, which I only just found out about. Aside from that there are also four OVAs. To clarify, both seasons and all of the OVAs are currently (as of me writing this) only available in Japanese with English subtitles.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

At First Glance – Log Horizon

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the concept of these “At First Glance” articles is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Log Horizon

Ah yes, that OTHER “We’re stuck in a video game somehow” anime I’ve had on my to-do list for quite some time now. I could’ve done Log Horizon back to back with Sword Art Online few weeks back, but the listing Gods determined it would happen now rather than then. Unlike Sword Art Online however, Log Horizon revolves around the main characters realising they’ve been sucked into the MMO they’ve been playing (Named “Elder Tales”), as opposed to just being stuck in a VR headset forever.

A fate worse than death

Also unlike SAO, Log Horizon has the people just kind of thrust into this situation and forces them to realise what must’ve happened on their own, rather than having an exposition dump. Honestly? I found that funny, because it shows how much of a trope this set up must be by now. They even guess the whole “if you die in the game, you die for real” aspect of the whole thing.

From what I can gather, we’re introduced to the characters that make up the main cast (or at least main trio) in this episode. Shiroe (The Strategist), Naotsugu (The Pervert), and Akatsuki (The loli-I mean The Assassin). Shiroe I feel will be the one I like the most out of the main three, though Akatsuki is a close second purely by how she deals with Naotsugu’s perverted nature.

I’m fairly certain Naotsugu is going to grade on me with time. His “I’m perverted and proud” thing was kind of funny at first, but they somehow manage to run it into the ground in this one episode alone. At least in my opinion they do. Like, I grew up watching Dragon Ball Z, and am a huge Naruto fan. I can handle pervy characters as comic relief, especially ones that don’t get away with being pervy idiots. This time though, it just…doesn’t work for whatever reason.

Speaking of Naruto, let’s talk about Akatsuki. Fitting how she’s named that considering her Assassin class thing seems to be modelled after ninja, by the way. Akatsuki shows up as a “guy” that won’t talk, only to turn out to be a girl who got stuck as her male character, taking a potion Shiroe gives her so she can revert to a female body. And then she comes out looking like an eight-year-old. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, both Shiroe and Naotsugu find her attractive.

Considering she looks like an eight-year-old, that’s a creepy choice of words

And yes, I bothered to check, she IS an adult, as are the guys, but the anime never clarified that on her end. And sure, it’s still just an in-game avatar, but it’s blatantly stated she took the chance to model her female appearance on herself a bit more. Thinking about it, Akatsuki’s appearance seems to garner a lot of unwanted attention for her, though only Naotsugu has made anything resembling a sexual advance so far.

Which quickly prompts her to knee him in the face, hence the cut-off

That aside we only meet a few other characters, and the plot of the next episode is set up throughout, not that I realised at first. But overall this episode did a decent job of introducing us to the characters we’ll be following on this adventure, so I can give them that much. Plus, the lack of exposition for why this happened works for now, since any explanation would probably come off as sounding pretty technobabble-y anyway.

So, will I continue to watch Log Horizon? Sure, why not. It’s definitely a different enough set up from SAO for me to not just write it off as a rip off or anything like that. Also, despite all the negatives I mentioned, it’s better than bad. It’s good! …Okay, fine, I couldn’t think of a better way to work that reference in there. Sue me. I was determined to make it anyway…even though most might not even get what I’m referencing.

Anyway, bad references to 90s shows aside, Log Horizon currently consists of 50 episodes across two seasons (25 eps per season), and from what I can tell is only currently available in Japanese with English subtitles.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

Back Row Reflections – Wonder Woman

The following article contains spoilers for the DCEU in general to a degree, but primarily the 2017 Wonder Woman movie. You have been warned.

Well, this is interesting. Normally I would do a lengthy Facebook post about my thoughts on a movie but, for once, I’m actually writing them out for this site instead. Don’t hold your breath on this becoming a habit though. I know I’m not going to make any promises.

Just to give a little background, this was potentially going to be the last DCEU movie I’d willingly go and see in the cinemas. While I did like Man Of Steel, Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad were strikes one and two against WB for me. I was going into this movie with a lot of hype that it was amazing. While part of me hoped that it would live up to the positive hype, I was also fairly cautious at the same time. I’d given them a chance with Suicide Squad, which I thought actually looked interesting. I wasn’t going to get my hopes up twice.

Thankfully, this time, I wasn’t spurned.

Wonder Woman is a fantastic movie. Great visuals, a solid story, interesting characters, and above all else, Wonder Woman was Wonder Woman. I believed it. Whatever criticisms I have of this movie, and there are some, Gal Gadot’s acting is not one of them. I firmly believe that Wonder Woman is in safe hands with her.

The one thing they, and Gal herself, absolutely nailed was her empathy. My God. Empathy. That almost felt like a foreign entity in this franchise. Superman is a brooding Emo; Batman is Frank Miller’s Batman. While I liked Ben Affleck’s acting, and Henry Cavill isn’t bad either, Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is the first character in the DCEU I’ve truly given a shit about. I’m not kidding. Wonder Woman even captured elements of Superman’s character better through Wonder Woman’s eyes.

There’s a moment in the movie where Diana, Steve and their little band of misfits are making their way through No Man’s Land to try and get to who we’re told is the big bad. Diana is stopped by a woman who tells her the Germans have overrun a village and taken the locals hostage. Without a second thought, she puts her tiara on, discards her civilian clothes and proceeds to have one of the most satisfying action movies I’ve ever seen in a superhero movie.

I was almost brought to tears I was so happy. I’m not even joking. I was so happy with how this movie was going, and how Wonder Woman was being portrayed, that I genuinely almost cried. This was the Wonder Woman I wanted. This was the movie I KNEW they were capable of producing. If anything, it’s sad that it took them this long to do so. DC and WB HAVE made good superhero movies before. So, a string of publicly and critically panned ones annoyed the absolute hell out of me. They were better than that, and now they finally remembered it.

Wonder Woman is now the gold standard of the DCEU, and I hope they keep to that standard with the movies to come. I’ve always said I will never compare Marvel movies to DC movies (except when relevant, like BvS & Civil War), so now I thankfully, and finally, have a benchmark for this current string of films.

After thinking about it, I’ve decided I’m only going to mention one glaring problem I had with this movie. The inconsistency with blood. Diana gets grazed by a bullet and we get some blood on her arm. But then, much later, she stabs the guy she assumes to be Ares in disguise right through his chest. No blood. None. We see the blade sticking out through the ceiling of the watchtower they’re on. It’s clean. No. That’s not how that works. Don’t you dare wuss out on that.

Am I saying there needed to be buckets of blood? No. But for a movie with swordplay set in WORLD WAR ONE, there’s not much blood at all. Hell, the scene where Diana gets grazed by a bullet the Amazons are fighting and stabbing the shit out of the Germans. Once again, no blood on their swords. Do people in the DCEU not have any blood in their torsos or something? Like, this is something I’d expect from Disney, not Warner Brothers.

One other thing that bothered me, but wasn’t a major gripe, is that I wish this had just been a World War II movie. I mean, they put a pretty heavy emphasis on Germany as the bad guys, so it would’ve made sense. In fact, as I’d discussed with other people, this movie probably started that way. The assumption being “Ugh this is just Captain America” attitudes being what stopped them from committing to or possibly changing the setting.

Though in all honesty, I just wanted Wonder Woman punching Hitler. I mean. You can see where I’m coming from right? Wonder Woman. Punching. Adolf Hitler. In the face. That would be worth the price of admission alone. There are other minor things that bothered me about the movie, but as they’re mainly just nitpicks (as the WWII thing was) I’ll leave them out of this.

So, to summarise, Wonder Woman was a phenomenal movie that lived up to all the hype surrounding it. At least in my opinion. There were some issues here and there, but nothing that dragged the movie down for me all that much. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and if I’m able to afford it, I may actually see Wonder Woman again before it finishes up in the cinemas here in Australia.

So, there are my thoughts on Wonder Woman. At least, as much as I can justify spewing out anyway. What did you think of the movie? Did you agree with me? Do you think my opinion is akin to horseshit? Let me know. I’ll see you all next time with another At First Glance article.

At First Glance – Assassination Classroom

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the concept of these “At First Glance” articles is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Assassination Classroom

Unlike last week, this time we have an anime where the title only kind of threw me off to the actual premise. In that I assumed this was just an anime about a school for assassins but we’re just following one class. Nope. There is actually more to it than that. Long story short, a tentacle creature they come to refer to as “Koro-Sensei” has destroyed 70% of the moon, leaving it as a permanent crescent moon.

I’d be more impressed if Piccolo hadn’t destroyed the whole thing that one time

In an odd move, Koro-Sensei demanded to teach Class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High School, acting as their normal teacher as well as teaching them assassination techniques. The whole thing is kept under wraps, and the 30 students are offered a ¥10 billion reward to kill Koro-Sensei within a year’s time. If they fail, Koro-Sensei claims he will destroy Earth. So, yeah. Not quite what I was expecting plot wise, but a decidedly less generic set up than I thought up on my own, so that’s good.

Ultimately not a hell of a lot to talk about compared to last week, but I must say, Koro-Sensei looks like he’s gonna be fun to watch. A very charismatic and generally well animated villain with an interesting design. On the other hand, I’ll admit that I was completely unaware that our main character/narrator for this show was a boy until they specifically referred to him by male pronouns.

I mean sure he’s wearing pants, but the feminine face, tiny pigtails and such threw me the hell off. Not that I mind, and going by what I’ve read there is a reason for this aside from Japan just loving androgynous men, but yeah. I honestly thought Nagisa was a girl until they pointed out he’s a dude. So, my bad I guess.

Kinda bugs me that Nagisa is angsty and all, but at least his angst contrasts nicely with his cutesy appearance, rather than him looking like a complete edge lord, as some other anime are want to do. Though the general concept of the cast seems to be people society has tossed aside, so I guess there’s probably a lot of angst in that room. Just it’ll present itself in different ways.

That’s about all I have to say without reaching, really, so I’ll just start the wrap up. Will I continue to watch Assassination Classroom? Definitely. The concept, on top of Koro-Sensei, are more than enough to keep me interested. The first episode gives you just enough plot to allow you to determine whether you want to continue or not, and I for one am intrigued as to how the events of the series will play out.

For those who are interested, Assassination Classroom consists of 47 episodes across two seasons (22 in season one, and 25 in season two respectively) and is available in both dubbed and subbed format. Along with the show there are two OVAs, a “recap” style anime film and two live-action movies (“Assassination Classroom” & “Assassination Classroom: Graduation”). Lastly, there is a spin-off “web anime” called Koro-sensei Q! (or Koro Teacher Quest), which consists of 12 episodes available in both dubbed and subbed formats. Koro-Sensei Q! has also received its own animated film adaptation.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

At First Glance – Prison School

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the concept of these “At First Glance” articles is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Prison School

I swear it’s an ongoing theme for this month (and, really, in general for these things) that I’ll be covering an anime I know of, but know nothing about. And boy, do we have a doozy this time around or what? Prison School. An anime I knew so little about that I honestly thought the premise was based around an actual school within a prison, rather than what turns out to be the other way around. Misleading title is misleading.

Anyway, the basic premise of Prison School, or at least what the first episode shows us, is that five boys (Kiyoshi Fujino, Takehito Morokuzu, Shingo Wakamoto, Jōji Nezu & Reiji Andō) have enrolled in what was previously an all-girls high school, Hachimitsu Academy, and find out they’re the only five boys in the entire school. Being horny little shits they attempt to peep on the girls bathing, only for it to backfire and them to get caught by the “Underground School Council”. As a result of their idiocy, they are publicly shamed and made to serve one month in the school’s prison block or face expulsion.

With that out of the way, wow. This anime was nothing like what I was expecting. Partially for reasons I brought up earlier (my assumption of a different premise) and partially because, well…of the anime I’ve covered so far, this one easily tops the list of “anime on the verge of being hentai”. Which is saying something considering I covered Shimoneta last year (using the shorter title cause it’s easier to repeat). And Shimoneta was basically a porn waiting to happen going by the first episode alone.

So, if that’s anything to go by, holy crap, you can tell I’m not joking. Like, I knew going in just by the promo image alone that this would be a pretty fan service-y anime, but holy shit. I had no idea the levels of borderline softcore porn this would get to. I’m not even kidding. But I also won’t give you any examples either. If you want that, do a quick google search in your own time.

One funny aspect of the episode that I will talk about though is the fact Meiko, the “Vice-President” of the Underground School Council, tries disciplining them only to realise it’s not working. Turns out all the guys except Kiyoshi are actually masochists and loved the whole thing. Especially since Meiko is wearing a skirt so short (and generally squats down so much) that you get a better view of her panties than I’d like. Though seeing her panties at all is weird for me, given the fact she’s most likely underage, seeing as this is a high school anime. Even if she does look old enough to be the headmistress (pun not intended) of the school itself.

Meiko in general just brings on more questions than I’m ever expecting answers for. That and more than I should even be thinking of considering the sheer insanity of this anime. Which, I guess I should also talk about, but I’ll leave that for the end blurb.

So…will I continue to watch Prison School? Oh hell yes. This anime might be borderline softcore porn, but holy hell is it funny. Like Shimoneta, the sexual stuff has a comedic aspect to it all for the most part. And generally, the show, as I said before, is sheer insanity. It’s completely over-the-top and it completely revels in it, making it an enjoyable “what the fuck” kind of watch.

For those who are interested, Prison School consists of 12 episodes, which are available in both subbed and dubbed formats. On top of that there is an OVA for the anime called “Mad Wax”, and the manga Prison School is based on also got a live-action show, which came out the same year as the anime, funnily enough. The live-action series is only 9 episodes long, and I don’t care if there’s a dub for it, because it’s live-action. Just watch it subbed. Dubbed live-action is weird.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

At First Glance – Sword Art Online

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. It’s been a long time coming, but I’m back to doing these again. To keep it brief my attention was diverted elsewhere, and now it isn’t. Sorry for anyone who actually reads these things that my hiatus was longer than intended. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the idea of these “At First Glance” articles is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Sword Art Online

Ah yes, familiar territory. Well. In that this is one of those anime I’ve heard of, but honestly had no idea what it was about prior to watching it. Basic premise is that the hot new Virtual Reality MMORPG in town, the titular Sword Art Online, has finally been released, and players are eager to jump on and play. However, it turns out the log out feature isn’t present.

At first it’s assumed this is just a glitch or a bug. However, an avatar of the game’s creator informs the players that this was, in fact, always intended to be an aspect of the game. Basically, the game dev is insane and wanted to be a god over this world.

Not only is the creator of the game, Akihiko Kayaba, totally insane and wants to be a god of a virtual world, he also made it that if anyone’s virtual headsets are forcibly removed, or the people playing the game have their life bars drop to zero, they die in real-life. Their only method of escape being to finish the game.


Oh, as an added twist, player avatars are erased through some random mirror item he gives them all, and everyone suddenly looks like they do in real life instead. The result of which is a joke that I honestly got a laugh out of, despite the fact I know it would’ve made others groan.

“Son of a-you’re a guy?!”

“You’re not seventeen!”

Trust me when I tell you that could’ve been handled a lot worse. Hell, there’s a few movies that are evidence of that. Anyway, with this revelation our hero, Kirito, goes out of his way to charge on ahead to level up as quickly as he can so he can get out of the game. And that’s about all it gives us really, as far as plot goes. The only other character we get a chance to see properly for now is Klein. With the bulk of the episode before the big revelation being Kirito teaching Klein the ropes of the game.

It’s honestly a nice way to let us get to know a bit about both characters’ personalities. It honestly got the point that when Kirito goes off on his own, I was actually disappointed that Klein didn’t go with him. Though I like fact they do part on friendly terms. Hell, Kirito even seems a little down that Klein has friends to worry about and isn’t going with him. Hopefully that gets touched on in later episodes. I mean, they weren’t exactly subtle about it, so if it gets ignored I’ll be disappointed.

Oh. Also. The anime doesn’t have an opening. No joke. I thought there was just a cold opening before an intro, but it never happened. In fact, I’m fairly sure what ended up being the outro may even be the intro for the following episodes.

So, did I enjoy SAO’s first episode enough to keep watching? Thankfully yes. The premise definitely has me hooked enough to keep watching. Though one thing I do recall hearing about SAO is that the first season is good, but the second is iffy. Whether I’ll agree with that is beyond me at this point, but who knows.

For those who care, Sword Art Online consists of 49 episodes over two seasons (25 in season one and 24 in season two) and is available in both subbed and dubbed formats. There’s also a TV movie, “Sword Art Online: Extra Edition”, and a film, “Sword Art Online The Movie: Ordinal Scale”. Aside from that there are also five video games based on the franchise. Normally I wouldn’t bother to mention that, but the meta nature of video games based on a property that revolves around the characters being in a video game world is hilarious to me.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

At First Glance – Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the idea of these “At First Glance” things is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.

Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club

So, I finally have an excuse to watch the “cute boys swimming” anime, do I? Interesting. Of course, had I not been made aware that this specific show is the first one, and not Free! Eternal Summer, then I would’ve been reviewing that instead. Thankfully I found out Eternal Summer is a sequel/second season, so here we are.

As far as the first episode is concerned, the episode follows four former members of a local Swimming club, Haruka Nanase, Makoto Tachibana, Nagisa Hazuki & Rin Matsuoka all reuniting for the first time since they were kids (Though Makoto & Haruka had still been in touch/remained friends). The reuniting with Rin specifically is a tad rocky, as his attitude seems to have changed drastically since childhood. The episode itself ends with Haruka and Rin about to race in Rin’s new high school, leaving us on a cliff hanger.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, it’s onto talking about what you’re all expecting me to comment on. The fact this is an anime with muscular guys who are constantly taking their clothes off. Which, I guess I don’t blame you, but they are high school guys after all, so it’s kind of iffy territory for me. Someone who is currently 26 as of writing this. Also, let’s face it. This was made for women, not gay/bi/pan men, so I’m not even the target audience.

That aside, there is some character stuff I’d like to talk about. Mainly Haruka’s obsession with water. And I do mean obsession. This guy is almost late to school in this episode because he’s submerging himself in his bathtub, and apparently missed a bunch of the prior day due to the same thing. He also wears his swimming trunks wherever he goes, so he can strip down and jump right in if the opportunity to swim presents itself.

It’s even a running gag in the show that he outright strips in front of the other guys in public because they’re planning to go into the pool at Rin’s new school, but they have to stop him because they’d be caught if he just ran right in there, and they were mainly only trying to spot Rin at the time. When they do go into the building he pretty much throws his clothes in seconds and is in the pool before they can stop him.

The other characters mostly just fall into normal high school anime tropes really. Makoto is easily scared, Nagisa is the younger naive/happy-go-lucky one, and Rin is the jerk. Not too much to say about them really, based on first appearances anyway. Well. Aside from the fact Nagisa is a little too eager to get naked in front of these two, which I found to be funny more than anything. He didn’t have any swimming trunks on when they went into the pool so he just stripped naked and jumped in.

I will say this much; I don’t hate any of the characters yet. Not saying I won’t hate any of them, just I don’t right now. I also feel Rin’s younger sister Gou was added so they have someone to fawn over the boys, but I could easily be wrong. Again, first impressions. Plus, her bio says she has a muscle fetish or something. So, there’s that.

So, will I keep watching this anime? Definitely. If nothing else I got a good laugh out of it, but I do want to see where the story goes. Especially since episode one ends on a cliff hanger. For those who are interested, Free! – Iwatobi Swim Club consists of 12 episodes, with a second season, Free! Eternal Summer consisting of 13 episodes and an OVA. All of which are available in subbed and dubbed formats. There is also a prequel movie called High Speed! Free! Starting Days, though I’m unsure of if it has a dub or not. As of this year, 2017, there will also be two movies based on both seasons of the show, along with a third movie based after the events of the show.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.

At First Glance – Psycho-Pass

Note: There are spoilers for the first episode of the anime in question in this article.
You have been warned.

Welcome back folks. As a quick reminder for those who are new or have forgotten, the idea of these “At First Glance” things is that I watch the first episode of an anime I’ve never seen and give my thoughts on it.
Simple, right? With that out of the way, let’s get down to business.


I must admit until I read the summary of this anime on AnimeLab I had no idea what to expect. I was vaguely familiar with Psycho-Pass’ existence, but I really didn’t know anything about the anime itself. Speaking of which, Psycho-Pass is an anime set in a dystopian future Japan where advanced technology can detect latent criminal tendencies in people, allowing them to either be arrested or killed before they ever commit any crimes.

And, wow, what a premise right? Japan sure loves them some dystopian future stuff. Fitting that this was made by the same studio that made Ghost In The Shell I guess. Though of course, being me, I can’t help but notice this anime has a more serious/dramatic version of a vaguely similar premise to the comedy anime Shimoneta. I mean, yeah, it is a bit of a stretch in a way, but come on. There are some VAGUE similarities in there as far as the basic premise goes. Just nothing beyond that.

Anyway. The entire first episode revolves around the first mission of Akane Tsunemori, a rookie member of Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division. Like that is honestly all the episode is. And it goes by quite fast for a 22-minute episode. Literally the entire episode (aside from one short bit at the start) is this first mission/case of Akane’s. I’m honestly unsure if I should just spoil the whole thing or just give my thoughts on how the characters come across. Guess I’ll just wing it.

Akane herself very much comes off as the typical rookie cop character, but going by what I’ve read that’ll change. And honestly, I don’t mind her being a typical rookie-type in this scenario. Especially since the idea is she’s thrown right in to the deep end on her first day. So, it makes sense she wouldn’t know what to do in a practical sense.

As far as the other main/supporting characters go, I don’t have any reason to hate any of them yet or anything, but I can’t judge too many of them yet in any regard. The episode mostly focuses around interactions between Akane and Tomomi Masaoka, an “Enforcer” for the unit. As far as explaining what an enforcer is for this show, think Suicide Squad without super villains and no “bomb in the neck” thing. Tomomi seems like a character I’ll like. The dynamic between himself and Akane is something I’m looking forward to seeing more of.

As far as the overall episode itself is concerned. Well. It isn’t all that far in that I realised what I’m in for with this anime. This one isn’t for the faint of heart. And I’m serious when I say that. Not only is there a rape scene (out-of-view but you’re still made plainly aware that it’s happening), and the rapist later dies in quite a bloody way. So yeah. If that kind of stuff doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, I’d say give this show a miss. Otherwise I’d say give it a shot.

So, will I continue to watch it? Yes, but I’m not sure how quickly I will continue to watch it. I mean, for a mostly self-contained first episode, not much ultimately happens. Those 22 minutes flew by very quickly. So I feel I’ll have to watch more to get a proper judge of the anime itself before properly deciding whether I’d want to watch the whole thing or not.

For those who are interested, Psycho-Pass anime consists of 22 episodes, with a second season called “Psycho-Pass 2” consisting of an additional 12 episodes. There is also a Psycho-Pass movie, which was released in 2015. The two seasons of the show and the movie are all available in both dubbed and subbed formats.

Well, that about covers it. If anyone has any suggestions for anime I should watch for this in the future, give me a shout and I’ll put it on my list. If it’s already on my list, I’ll bump it up in priority. However, if I’ve already watched it then I’m obviously going to have to decline.
I’ll see you next time folks.