Era of Samurai: Code of Love – Okita Souji Main Story

Okita’s main story is part of Love 365’s Free Titles promotion until the end of the month, so I decided to check it out. Okita, of course, is a skilled and ruthless swordsman of the Shinsengumi. The MC is a medic girl who is taken in by the Shinsengumi after some bad guys attack and destroy her home.

I thought Chapter 3 was too soon for the MC to be lecturing Okita about the value of life and wrongness of murder. He’d been a killer long before they met and they barely knew each other at this point. In fact, there was a very real chance she could become his next victim at any time. If they were becoming friends or considering becoming lovers, that would be a reasonable time to bring up that impediment to their relationship. Lecturing a stranger just seems cluelessly naïve and frankly dangerous.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable Shinsengumi period-drama even without the love story. As for the romance, their lives were so different; I didn’t see how they could truly understand and comfort each other. But whatever, it was still a decent little fantasy.

Masquerade KISS: Kazuomi & Kei Main Stories

One of the titles from Love 365’s otome app, Masquerade KISS features only 3 suitors and a MC who is an undercover secret agent. I recently read Kazuomi’s and Kei’s main stories concurrently; Kazuomi because he interested me, and Kei because his route was new and free to read without wait times. Normally there is a 5 hour delay between chapters if you’re reading for free. Being new to Love 365 and its Love Choice system, I read both stories completely for free just to see what it is like.

Kei, as expected, was not really my type. Guys with a tendency to lock you up are inherently kind of creepy to me, no matter how good looking or otherwise gentle they may be. I did like how he and “Nagisa” sort of became partners in crime. However, the early and middle sections were pretty slow moving, so I’m glad I was able to marathon several chapters at a time while reading his route.

Kazuomi was definitely more appealing to me, arrogant on the surface, but actually a good guy deep down. I found it believable that “Arisa” gradually came to admire him and feel reluctant about her assigned mission.

The same jazzy soundtrack was used in both routes, and it set a distinctive mood for these stories of love and deception. I particularly enjoyed the piece used in the ominous scenes; it sounded pretty to me.

The biggest factor that drew me in to Masquerade KISS was the smart and confident heroine. That said, I was a bit surprised that she was never suspicious about being tracked or bugged, even though it seemed strange to her that her boss always knew where to find her. Well, these are stories that are told in 26 very short chapters. They probably needed to keep the narrative moving and there was no time to make things more complicated.

I might go back and read the third guy, Yuzuru’s route eventually.

INUYASHIKI

Released 2018

I have not read the original manga series, but I did enjoy the 11-episode INUYASHIKI LAST HERO anime from 2017. This live-action INUYASHIKI movie features a great cast, including Noritake Kinashi and Takeru Satoh in the lead roles. The acting is good too. The ending is a departure from the way the anime went. I don’t know which version is more faithful to the original.

I’m not fully convinced that there’s an anti-ageist theme going on, but the movie is certainly an effective illustration of how wonderful or frightening great power can be, depending on who wields it.

Fate/stay night: Heaven’s Feel – I. presage flower & II. lost butterfly

Released 2017 and 2019, respectively

Prerequisite: Fate/stay night original series and/or Unlimited Blade Works or other familiarity with the franchise prologue.

Strongly recommended: Fate/Zero.

The Heaven’s Feel movies offer no recap of the events that start the story, including the initial attack and introduction of Saber, other than a brief montage in presage flower that’s more artistically evocative than explanatory. It is assumed that you have seen it all before, and will make no sense if you haven’t.

Heaven’s Feel is Sakura’s route. We had a glimpse of Sakura’s traumatic childhood in Fate/Zero, and her story definitely needed to be told. Unfortunately, Sakura’s quiet personality makes her kind of weak as a main character.

As expected, these films (parts I & II of a trilogy) are stunningly gorgeous, the best-looking rendition of Fate/stay night yet. While presage flower provides some set-up, lost butterfly features extended battle action scenes. By the end, a lot of troubling revelations come to light. I’m definitely looking forward to the final film, although I don’t really see how this can end well.

Mid-Winter 2019 Anime Ranking


01. THE PROMISED NEVERLAND (Yakusoku no Neverland) (ep. 1-10) – The kids at Grace Field House make the shocking discovery that their loving orphanage is in fact a farm for raising yummy children to serve as demon food. The clock is ticking as they try to find a way to escape, but with such insurmountable obstacles in their way, and no way to know what lies outside, the odds are against any of them making it out alive.

THE PROMISED NEVERLAND is as thrilling as it is artful. It’s great to see Emma, Norman, and Ray’s ingenuity and friendship. Their situation is looking dire, to say the least, but man am I rooting for them to succeed.

The OP by UVERworld is pretty awesome too. I’m personally not a huge fan of most of their works, but every once in a while, they will surprise me with something unique and hooky; and “Touch off” is one of those songs.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


02. Mob Psycho 100 II (ep. 1-10) – Fans of sakuga are obviously loving this series. For me though, the real draw is its main characters, Mob and Reigen; they are so complex and well-written, and completely lovable in spite of their flaws.

Episode 7, which focused on Reigen’s humiliating downfall, was a clear highlight in storytelling. He is such an interesting person, first of all; plus the arc was ironically funny at times, and painful, and ultimately uplifting too.

The big battle arc, beginning in ep. 9, gets pretty complicated real quick, with multiple factions and too many characters in the mix. It’s still good, but I enjoyed the earlier character-driven episodes more.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


03. The Rising of the SHIELD HERO (Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari) (ep. 1-10) – I don’t particularly consider myself a fan of the genre, but I will pick up an isekai-adventure series now and then. This is definitely one of the better ones that I have seen.

It’s interesting that even though this alternate world uses some obvious game mechanics, it is stressed that the effects of a person’s actions are real. Completing one task doesn’t mean all the work is done, as unintended consequences may occur, and economics come into play too.

Malty (Myne) and the Spear Hero are a little overplayed in their villainy and ignorance, respectively, but the main characters, Naofumi, Raphtalia, and Filo are sympathetic and likeable enough to sell the show.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


04. Domestic Girlfriend (Domestic na Kanojo) (ep. 1-10) – A teenaged boy suddenly becomes step-siblings with both the teacher he has a crush on and the random girl he once had sex with. Such a trashy premise sounds like it would have to be a train wreck. However, Domestic Girlfriend plays things straight, and seriously considers the implications of its odd scenario on the lives of Natsuo and the sisters.

Unpopular opinion, but for the record, I’m Team Hina – because that’s who Natsuo really liked all along. Plus, they get along well and have some actual chemistry together. However, even if their being statutory siblings isn’t an issue (I think it shouldn’t be), their ongoing relationship as student-teacher is a huge red flag. By all indications, Hina is an excellent teacher; it would be a shame for her to put her career at risk. If they’re both serious, they really need to put the brakes on the romance until after he graduates.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


05. Dororo (ep. 1-10) – This is a dark, but nice-looking show which combines historical realism and folklore. A young man named Hyakkimaru hunts demons in order to reclaim the parts of his body that were sacrificed at his birth.

The little kid who is the title character is sweet and precocious. I’m not that into the primarily monster-fighting episodes, but the ones that focus on Dororo, Hyakkimaru, and Daigo’s family are pretty good.


06. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind (JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze) (season 4) (ep. 13-22) – The stands have gotten so complicated by this point that I don’t even bother trying to comprehend them all. The guys however, being stand users themselves, are really good at catching on to stand abilities, even though they can be really dense when it comes to other things. Good thing the selective stupidity of JoJo’s characters is well-established! It’s fabulous and you gotta love it.

It’s strangely easy to forget that Giorno is the main character of the show when Bruno is so clearly the driving force and leader of the group.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


07. My Roommate is a Cat (Doukyonin wa Hiza, Tokidoki, Atama no Ue) (ep. 1-10) – I’m not really the target audience for cute pet or slice of life shows. The gimmick here is that part of each episode is told from the point of view of Haru, the cat. Beyond that however, there’s an overall story showing how she sets off Subaru’s personal development and his coming to terms with the loss of his parents. It is surprisingly affecting.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


08. KAGUYA-SAMA: LOVE IS WAR (Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen) (ep. 1-10) – Plenty of awkward romance shenanigans in this anime about a couple of over-achieving high schoolers who stubbornly refuse to reveal their romantic attraction to each other. The episodes typically play out in several short vignettes and they are often very funny. Sometimes though, I do want to just smack these two – they take their games so far that it’s never gonna work out for them, ever!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


09. MEIJI TOKYO RENKA (ep. 1-10) – There’s very little real plot, mostly just lightweight content of the main girl’s interactions with the various male cast in this time-travel reverse harem anime. Just to give you an idea, the overarching storyline seems to be the search for a missing cat! Fortunately Mei is pretty likeable and charismatic for a heroine of this type of show and the episodes are moderately enjoyable.

Since we’re doing this, for the record, I’m Team Syunso. I really do not feel the attraction between Mei and leading man Ougai. It seems to me she clearly has better camaraderie with Syunso. Heck, I’d even ship her with the cross-dresser more easily than with Ougai!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


10. B-Project: Zecchou*Emotion (season 2) (ep. 1-10) – Sometimes the real drama doesn’t happen until after the ending credits roll; that’s an indication of how (not) packed with plot this idol series is! Fortunately, Zecchou*Emotion is pretty good at presenting its characters, and it can be adequately entertaining just watching the guys interact with each other.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


11. The Morose Mononokean II (ep. 1-8) – I was satisfied with the original series when it ended, but it’s the sequel, so we’re back. This time, it’s a little less yokai-of-the-week and a little more about the Underworld’s issues about Ashiya, the reasons of which are yet to be disclosed to the audience and to Ashiya himself.
(streaming at Crunchyroll)

ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL

Released 2019

3.25 stars (out of 4)

Long in the making, ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL is the live action Hollywood adaptation of a manga from the 1990s. I came to the movie as someone who has not read the manga nor seen any prior visual adaptations, and I really enjoyed it! I watched in IMAX 3D and found it to be an immersive experience that held my rapt attention throughout.

The motorball and fight scenes were exciting and were presented in a way that made it easy to clearly follow the action.

If I stop to think about it, there may have been some plot holes, and certainly points which could have been fleshed out more, but none of that seriously detracted from the overall enjoyment of the film.

ONE CUT OF THE DEAD

Released 2018

3.25 stars (out of 4)

We intended to see the first screening of ONE CUT OF THE DEAD at the JCCC back in November, but missed it due to a nasty snowstorm. Thankfully, we got another chance to catch this comedic gem last week, weather permitted.

What starts off as a campy single-take horror film, in which zombies suddenly invade the set of a movie, becomes much more when the making-of details of that production are subsequently revealed.

So with a story about the people making a low-budget horror movie, which is itself about a film crew making a movie, this is essentially a show within a show within a show within a show. And that’s about as meta as it gets! ONE CUT OF THE DEAD is very cleverly put together, and the zombie action and film-making satire are tremendously funny as well. I think everyone in the audience had a smile on their face when it was over.

Jacquie’s 2018 Year in Review – Anime

Looking back, I didn’t have incredibly strong feelings about any series I watched in this past year. So I considered the titles that I rated most highly at MyAnimeList, that is, the ones that scored an 8 or high-7, as I did not give any 9s or 10s last year. However, there were 2 notable series that did not get ratings at all because they were not anime: an American cartoon that was based on a Japanese video game, and a Japanese-Taiwanese co-production puppet show, both on their second seasons. And honestly, I think those were more flawless than the other titles on my short-list!

Things are certainly continuing to be weird here at Jacquieandbini. You may recall I selected a 3D CG short (Ikemen Sengoku: Bromances Across Time) as my Anime of the Year for 2017. For 2018, two non-anime series are dominating my year-end “anime” chart. I don’t think you’re likely see a Top 10 like this anywhere else!

I’m keeping it simple this time. Please follow the links if you wish to view the previous write-ups.

☆ Top 10 Anime or Anime-like Series:

#1. CASTLEVANIA Season 2 (8 episodes)

Aired Autumn 2018
(streaming: NETFLIX)

#2. Thunderbolt Fantasy: Sword Seekers (Touri-ken Yuuki) (season 2) (13 episodes)

Aired Autumn 2018
(streaming: Crunchyroll)

#3. The Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These (Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These – Kaikou) (12 episodes)

Aired Spring 2018
(streaming: Crunchyroll)

#4. SCHOOL BABYSITTERS (Gakuen Babysitters) (12 episodes)

Aired Winter 2018
(streaming: Crunchyroll)

#5. DOUBLE DECKER! Doug & Kirill (13 episodes)

Aired Autumn 2018
(streaming: Crunchyroll)

#6. MEGALO BOX (13 episodes)

Aired Spring 2018
(streaming: Crunchyroll)

#7. The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. 2 (Saiki Kusuo no Psi Nan 2) (24 episodes)

Aired Winter 2018 to Spring 2018

#8. How to keep a mummy (Miira no Kaikata) (12 episodes)

Aired Winter 2018
(streaming: Crunchyroll)

#9. Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san (Gaikotsu Shoten’in Honda-san) (12 episodes)

Aired Autumn 2018
(streaming: Crunchyroll)

#10. BANANA FISH (24 episodes)

Aired Summer 2018 to Autumn 2018

☆ The Biggest Slogs:
There were a few shows that seemed very promising in the beginning but ultimately felt like a chore to get through, with no real payoff at the end. The dubious honours in this category go to:

01. Angels of Death (aired Summer 2018, Crunchyroll)
02. SANRIO BOYS (aired Winter 2018, Crunchyroll)
03. Phantom in the Twilight (aired Summer 2018, Crunchyroll)

☆ Anime Songs TOP 10 COUNTDOWN:

10. INKYA IMPULSE, by Honda Hanako(cv:Kino Hina), Olivia(cv:Nagae Rika), Nomura Kasumi(cv:Kohara Konomi) feat. Ikepy & KSKN (ASOBI ASOBASE ED)

09. Heavenly Visitor, by TRIGGER (IDOLiSH7 ED3)

08. KISS OF DEATH, by Nakashima Mika (Produced by HYDE) (DARLING in the FRANXX OP)

07. Growth Arrow, by OLDCODEX (Butlers X Battlers OP)

06. One Side, by OLDCODEX (SERVAMP: Alice in the Garden Main Theme)

05. Treasure, by Narek (cv: Ishikawa Kaito) & Vino (cv: Umehara Yuuichirou) (Dame x Prince ANIME CARAVAN ED3)

04. The Perfect World, by Marty Friedman feat. Jean-Ken Johnny & KenKen (B: The Beginning ED)

03. His/Story, by Nishikawa Takanori (Thunderbolt Fantasy: Sword Seekers OP)

02. narrative, by SawanoHiroyuki[nZk]:LiSA (MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM NARRATIVE Main Theme)

01. Roll the Dice, by Nishikawa Takanori (Thunderbolt Fantasy: Sword Seekers ED)

Jacquie’s 2018 Year in Review – Music

2018’s Jacquie Awards go to:

☆ BEST SONG

THE MORTAL” by the GazettE, from the album “NINTH

☆ BEST SINGLE (A-side & B-sides)

His/Story / Roll the Dice” by Nishikawa Takanori (OP & ED for Thunderbolt Fantasy: Sword Seekers, composed by Sawano Hiroyuki)
(Available on iTunes Canada)


Honourable mention: “Heading to Over” by OLDCODEX – I loved all the B-sides (Bang, Another Point, and also Clean Out) but never warmed up to the title track, which served as the Free! -Dive to the Future- OP.

☆ BEST FULL-LENGTH ALBUM

XIII” by lynch.
Favourite tracks: SENSE OF EMPTINESS, AMBLE
(Available on iTunes Canada)


Runner up: “NINTH” by the GazettE
Favourite tracks: THE MORTAL, Falling, Sonokoe wa Moroku
(Available on iTunes Canada)

Jacquie’s 2018 Year in Review – Gaming

I have continued to play Ikemen Sengoku: Romances Across Time daily in 2018, marking more than one full year of play. I typically have a short attention span for games, so I’m pretty certain this is the longest time that I have stuck with any electronic game in all of my life!

2018 saw the release of Main Routes for 3 more warlords: Shingen (the flirt) in March, Kenshin (the yandere) in June, and finally Mitsunari (the angel) in October. Shingen, of course, is my best guy and I had been anticipating his route since before I even downloaded the app. His story was a little bumpy in the beginning, but ultimately did not disappoint – Shingen is sweet, forward-thinking, has a great self-deprecating sense of humour – I just love him! The Dramatic Route was more unique than the Romantic Route, but both were excellent.

Kenshin failed to win me over as the damaged, controlling boyfriend who needed to be saved. Sure, it’s a common story; girl falls in love, only to learn too late that her new guy has issues, so she ends up sacrificing her own time/freedom/money, gladly, for the sake of love. It could even happen to me in real life. But that’s so not how I want my fantasy romance to go! I completed Kenshin’s Dramatic Route only (to be fair, the epilogue was A+), but so far I have not felt like going back for the other ending.

Mitsunari’s route impressed me. I did not expect to like him as much as I did, especially after the way his story started. I guess I do tend to find the highly intelligent do-gooder types appealing (as opposed to the bad boys, which seem to be the preference for many girls). His Romantic Route was by far the better version; it was really fun.


Happy New Year, everyone!