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Friday, 7 July 2017

What We're Watching 7/7/17

What We're Watching

Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu.

An offshoot of Kantai Collection and an increasingly growing Japanese subculture of female history aficionados, Touken Ranbu is an otome game about traveling through time to protect history using an array of personified famous swords, all of whom take the form of attractive young men. It's currently spawned two anime adaptations, a slice-of-life dealio called Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru and this, a more action-oriented story about protecting the timeline from 'historical revisionists.'

The first episode was, it's fair to say, not brilliant. It's got Ufotable's distinctive style, including the always slightly awkward blend of traditional animation and CGI, and that's popular enough that a lot of people probably watched specifically for that -- but if they did, the episode itself probably put them off watching any more, because the story is a whole lot of nothing.

The plot could be boiled down to 'two sword guys arrive in town, there's a fire, historical revisionists attack with skeleton monsters, more sword guys arrive to help,' but it's strung out over twenty minutes with endless, endless exposition that mostly involves going over the same relatively simple concepts again and again.

I'll probably three-episode-rule this and watch at least the next two episodes, but I do so begrudgingly.

Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works: The Abridged Series.

Another one from Project Mouthwash, whose work I really do kind of adore.

In this case, though, my only exposure to Fate has been one episode of Fate/Apocrypha, so my entire approach to this abridged series is different -- because I'm not going to get any series in-jokes, but also because this will be my first exposure to the story of Fate/stay night.

So, a little after watching the most recent episode, I went and checked out one particular scene from it in the actual episode, and was surprised to find that it didn't really measure up. The Abridged version of that scene was better by a not insignificant margin.

So, yeah, go check that out.


I have zero familiarity with Castlevania, the now thirty-one year old franchise of vampire themed action adventure games, so this animated mini-series, weighing in at four episodes long and available on Netflix, will be my very first proper exposure to it.

I've watched two episodes so far and I have admittedly mixed feelings. The first episode, following Dracula as we find out his motivation for destroying Walluchia, was surprisingly good, with some actually really striking moments that upped the horror stakes considerably. It was a strong enough opening episode that I immediately went and watched the second episode, at which point I was disappointed.

The second episode is ponderously slow, and does little to build up any kind of atmosphere or provoke any kind of emotional reaction from its audience. It shifts the focus to Trevor Belmont, seemingly the main character for the rest of the series, but doesn't really have him do anything, instead spending more time establishing a reason for him to go to the city of Gresit, and then a reason for him to go into the catacombs.

Here's an idea: Start with him going into the catacombs! Establish why he's there as you go, especially as his motivation is simple enough that it can be explained pretty easily.


Okay, after a solid six episodes of not really being good enough to make me stop wishing I could just watch the in-universe shows, Re:Creators has managed to pull in my interest somewhat, with a relatively meaty and surprisingly well-handled storyline about Sota having driven someone to suicide, the plot ratcheting up a few notches in terms of stakes and pacing, and even some decent character moments.

It continued at a pretty solid clip to episode twelve and the end of the first arc, with a recap episode coming after, so it remains to be seen if episode fourteen (and the remaining nine episodes of the story) can keep up the level of quality it's set in the last five or six episodes, but I do hope so.

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