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Independent Reviews

This is a place to gather reviews for all kinds of things. They are “independent” because they have no need for any dedicated article… at least for now.
Reviews are in no particular order.

Anime

Article on Anime.

Akame ga Kill!

What even is episode 24.

Akame ga Kill is a show about a guy named Tatsumi who spends his free time in the company of “Night Raid”, a group of assassins who kill “evil” people. The group is associated with revolutionaries, who want to overthrow the emperor.
I thought the premise was interesting, I was under the impression we’d watch the assassins kill people for the revolution. That’s not what ended up happening though. Once the Teigu/Artifacts are introduced the show shows1) what it’s actually about - 2 groups of superpowered killers fighting for reasons. I was a little disappointed, but, it remains largely enjoyable.
Until we reach a certain episode, at which point the series goes completely insane. It’s actually impressive how bad it gets in such a short amount of time. The last few episodes do so much wrong it hurts to think about.
I don’t recommend watching this, just read the manga if you feel like it.

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

Musical montage the Anime

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
The background artwork is amazing. The characters and character interaction is really good as well. But the whole series is really slow, it takes forever for anything to happen. The worldbuilding is also lacking, or at least we don’t get enough information about the world. There’s an odd amount of musical montages without dialogue in the show as well, the music is fine but we don’t really get much out of these montages. It gives the show a very relaxing feel. The few action scenes there are are done well. The special (episode 2.5) is probably the most enjoyable part of the show, at least for me.2)
Overall, I don’t consider watching the show to be a waste… but they should have done more and had less montages.

Links

Hisone to Masotan

This is what the air force is all about.

The series is about a fighter pilot who actually pilots a dragon for the JASDF. It’s an intriguing series… although I’m not sure whether it’s great. I found myself not really looking forward to any of the episodes.
It very much feels like a show for kids, which isn’t a bad thing of course. I don’t know, didn’t really feel it.

Links

Hyouka

Living a rosy life.


Hyouka is about a guy named Houtarou who spends his time unwillingly solving inconsequential mysteries. He does it at the behest of Chitanda who is very curious.
It’s a fairly standard slice-of-life with mystery elements. Although, it does keep hinting at supernatural happenings… but nothing supernatural happens. This came to annoy me more over time, but never enough to “ruin” the experience for me.
Some thematic elements also annoy me. Such as during the Juumoji arc, which is largely about talent… but since I fundamentally disagree with how they view it… yeah, I’m not the biggest fan.
The mysteries are fairly interesting… although I hesitate to call them “good” because a lot of the evidence is revealed last minute or after it’s solved by Houtarou, making them hard or impossible to solve (an issue I observe with many mystery series).
The emotion, characters and animation all keep it afloat though.
While this review may make it seem like I dislike the series… I do enjoy it a lot and recommend it. I dunno, these things just annoy me.

Links

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetei: Tenshi-tachi no Ren'ai Zunousen

Kaguya-sama: Love is War

Hate is peace?

The show is a romantic comedy about 2 teens who each try to make the other confess to them. Hilarious situations arise.
Seeing the internal thoughts of our duo is pretty entertaining, especially Miyuki’s “O Kawaii Koto” moments. Eventually you reach a point where you feel like yelling at them to “finally get together damnit” but it never reaches a point where it would degrade your enjoyement. Except when you reach the ending, where the lack of that may actually fill you with sadness.
Otherwise pretty neat, I didn’t notice any animation errors so good yes.

Links

Kämpfer

Sorry, but I only like girls.

This one’s a guilty pleasure of mine. The show is pretty bad, but I still can’t help but love it. It’s essentially about a guy, named Natsuru, who becomes a girl…but the show is better described as lesbian urban fantasy.
It just feels like it’s completely aware of what it is…and lacks any sort of shame.
The show gets gradually more frustrating, especially Natsuru’s denseness. The manga is a slight improvement (Natsuru is less of a push-over)…but it does have a couple’a plotholes and such.
Oh right, the original series ends on a cliffhanger and the last episode is a bizarre special. There’s an extra two-episode mini-series which extends the ending and has a pure fanservice episode.

Links

Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

He’ll figure something out.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is about a group of people who live on an armored train called the Iron Fortress.
The world is one of a sengoku/shogunate-era steampunk Japan. There are also zombies, which people just call ‘corpses.'
One day, the Iron Fortress comes to a settlement. The day is fairly peaceful…until another armored train crashes into their settlement’s wall, which lets a bunch of corpses in. The settlement is lost, so the survivors gather and escape on the Iron Fortress. One of the survivors Ikoma almost gets turned into a corpse, but he manages to prevent that. However, it’s soon revealed by another survivor, Mumei (No-name), that he actually became a ‘Kabaneri’ (translated as demicorpse sometimes). These are basically vampires, blood drinking but no sunlight issues.
The first half of the series focuses on the survivors trying to survive in the world. In the second half, the series shifts to a sort of drama series, where the people of the Iron Fortress get caught in a violent power struggle. The shift isn’t too jarring, and it’s possible the survival aspect would have gotten old…hence the shift.
The animation is great for the series, I would frequently find myself practically drooling over the animation.
The setting and general worldbuilding is really interesting to me. The blending of the sengoku/shogunate-era with steampunk works incredibly well, and it reminds me somewhat of the eclectic styles of the Meiji-era.
The villain has a name I find hilarious for whatever reason: Biba.

Links

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha

Maoyu: Archenemy & Hero

Get ready to learn the basics of economics!

We follow the hero as he enters the demon king’s castle and prepares to make the final blow, but before he does he listens to what the demon king has to say. The (quite feminine) king tells him how the war between humans and demons should continue because it’s better for both sides. She then tells him her plan to end the war peacefully and make the world a better place. So, he decides to work for her. The show is well made and has good writing, but if does feel a bit boring sometimes. Most of it is just talking about what’s going to happen when we do x and then we kind-of see x being done and the results of that.
The most entertaining parts are near the beginning, a brief period in the middle and then the end. The rest just feels a bit empty.
And as strange as it sounds, I feel like it may have progressed a bit too quickly. Near the beginning-middle we see 3 people getting educated by the demon king in like 2-3 episodes and around the end we see them again, but they feel like different people. It feels like a bit was left out where they undergo character development.

Links

Midori no Hibi

Is this better than just being single?

Midori no Hibi is a cute and funny show about a highschool delinquent named Sawamura Seiji, who has terrible luck when it comes to girls. Anytime he confesses his feelings to a girl he gets rejected. He off-handedly says to himself that the only girlfriend he’ll ever have is his right hand. The next day, he wakes up finding a cute girl where his hand used to be. The rest of the series is about them dealing with this.
The premise is somewhat stupid, but it is taken seriously to a certain degree. There isn’t anything too deep. It’s a competently written romantic comedy. I recommend it.

Links

Mieruko-chan

Just ignore them…

Mieruko-chan is a series about a girl named Miko who can see scary spirits. Yūrei and the like. She decides to deal with this… by ignoring the spirits as best she can.
The premise struck me as interesting, but what really hooked me was Miko herself. She is, in my opinion, one of the bravest characters I’ve ever seen and she’s become a personal favorite of mine. I admire her greatly. Despite her incredible fear, she still does her best to ignore the spirits…even if that means getting really close to them. While I like the other characters, I don’t like them as much as Miko.
The show is episodic until the last couple’a episodes, which is a mini-arc. There is a pretty good twist that honestly got me good.
I recommend it.

Links

Sakura Quest

Just the cold indifference of time’s unending march…

Sakura Quest is an anime about a girl named Yoshino, a model looking for a job in Tokyo. Although she comes from the countryside, she wants to live and work in the city because everything is in the city. After failing to find a job for a while, her agency calls her to say she was specifically requested for a special job in Manoyama, a town in the countryside. Despite her hesitation, she accepts the job. Upon getting there, she learns her job has her act as the ‘Queen’ of a micro-nation for a year. As the Queen, she would help increase tourism to the town. After a brief crisis, she decides to do her best as the Queen. Over time, she gains a number of ‘ministers’ to help her with her duties. Their goals eventually shift from ‘tourism’ to ‘revival.'
The series is built into a collection of 2-parters, and each of these is focused on a particular thing. The first two episodes are focused on Yoshino for example. The particular thing of each 2-parter is typically a character and their issues, with it being tied to the town of Manoyama in some way. As another example, one 2-parter is focused around a small village and their unique culture, while also developing the ‘Minister of IT.'
Sakura Quest initially appealed to me because I could relate to Yoshino. Yoshino comes from the country, but finds life in the country unappealing, wanting to live in the city instead. According to her, ‘everything is in the city.’ I had a very similar attitude in the past.
Besides this, I was surprised to find the ‘philosophy’ in the series closely aligned with my own. The series starts out somewhat depressing - the town has been in decline for decades. Even many of the ‘schemes’ the tourism office comes up with in the first-half of the series fail or don’t end up as good as expected. Despite this, there’s an optimistic attitude, which eventually leads to a revival of the town.
Of the issues present in the series, the music is out-of-place sometimes. I’m also not sure whether some of the music actually fits the series. Besides that, the powered suits and what-not are just ridiculous and I don’t think they should have been present at all. I didn’t notice any significant writing issues, outside of it being incredibly convenient that Sandal-san’s hometown’s mayor happens to be in Japan during the festival and he’s not too far away from Manoyama. This is made worse by the fact he’s needed to do the sister-city thing to preserve Manoyama, which is a significant issue that was revealed a few episodes ago. The solution feels cheap. Perhaps I just haven’t noticed the others.
I would still recommend the series.

  • Sakura Quest is related to Shirobako and Hanasaku Iroha because all 3 were part of P.A. Works’ ‘working series.’

Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda

May the light of Zvezda shine throughout this world!

World Conquest: Zvezda Plot! is a show about a guy called Jimon Asuta who finds himself getting recruited into an evil secret organization called Zvezda, lead by a loli. Zvezda’s goal is to conquer the world. However, Zvezda is opposed by the secret organization White Light.
The series is a fun, simple, comedy. I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece, but I personally really like it. While I didn’t realize it at first, I believe it might be a parody of magical girl anime, following the ‘bad guys.’ The worldbuilding in this series is bizarre and it’s revealed gradually over time…some stuff actually isn’t revealed for a while. Highlights include udo being a source of power and smokers don’t have souls.
The series reminds me of stuff I watched when I was a child, although I can’t point to anything specific, just that the series feels very nostalgic for me. Besides that, I find a lot of the jokes hilarious and the show includes some of my favorite ones.
I think it’s entertaining, and for that reason, I recommend it.

Links

Tonari no Seki-kun

I wonder what he’s doing today.

Cute, short, simple series about a girl who observers her tonari Seki-kun and the unusual ways he passes time during class.
It’s episodic and nothing too deep happens. Nice for a relaxing watch.

Links

Games

There's Something in the Sea

There's Something in the Sea! There’s Something in the Sea was an ARG created to promote the release of Bioshock 2. It also happens to be some of the best Bioshock content released and I highly recommend it for fans of the series.
The ‘game’ involves playing as the character of ‘Mark Meltzer’ a journalist who starts investigating the disappearances of little girls. It starts out with a map of the world, with the locations of kidnappings, alongside their dates, marked on it. Additionally, clippings from news articles, notes, and the occasional picture, start getting added to it.
TSitS is strangely captivating, and I found myself practically glued to the archive site…so much, I ended up forgetting to do stuff in life, like eat. The story is relatively simple, but the characters are so well written that they feel like real people, aided quite a bit by the acting. I did, however, at times end up mentally screaming at Mark, but this was not because he was doing anything stupid, but because he wasn’t doing what I would have done in a particular situation.
There is a summary video of it on YouTube, but I’d recommend going through the original, as the video leaves out a lot of details and isn’t nearly as captivating.

Unciv

Please no more…
ninjasr 2022-08-01 14:27:05

Unciv is an open-source turn-based strategy game which is a straight up copy of inspired by the Civilization series of games.
I used to occasionally play it in the past, but I stopped once I realized I wasn’t having fun.
I don’t know, nor care, if what I say can/does apply to the Civ series. This is partially because I don’t intend to play any of the Civ games. However, I am convinced the Civ games are of a better quality, from what I know.
Victory in this game lies in only one thing: population. As long as you prioritize growing your population you will win no matter what happens. Population essentially generates all the other resources you need, so once you reach a certain point you’ll start rapidly outpacing everyone else…in everything.
To achieve rapid population growth you should prioritize tech that:

  • Raises population growth (obviously)
  • Raises food growth
  • Gives buildings that provide either

Once you unlock religions it’s even easier, as there’s a god conveniently titled ‘god of fertility’ and, later, you can choose tenets that either increase population growth or food production.
While you could get a bunch of settlers to increase your overall population (and, by extension, increase your production of everything), this isn’t actually all that needed…but I do recommend it.
Of course, this makes the game somewhat boring, since you can simply overpower the AI…or dumb players.
An older version of the game had an exploit where you could trade tech with AI. Within just 4 turns you could become the most technologically advanced civ in the world. You would then proceed to overpower the AI.
Besides this easy exploit(?)4), the combat in this game is painful, especially in the late game. Unless you’re technologically superior to your enemy, fights will take ages. Sieges of cities however, are far worse. Cities have both defense and offense - while this is nice when you’re getting attacked by barbarians, it’s annoying when you’re trying to conquer. In the late-game, due to tech, cities are indestructible fortresses, where you’re forced to shell or bomb them to hell before you send an infantry division to kill themselves to take it. Even then, you will probably lose half your army in conquest. Being technologically superior is the only reasonable way to take this. The only upside to this is that it does force you to build up before you go to war…more realistic.
I don’t like this game, and I won’t be playing it again.

Visual Novels

Visual Novels

Crusoe had it easy

Just move to France or whatever

Our first visual novel on this site, and what a great one we chose.
This is an 18+ VN, so don’t play unless you have a very specific intent.
We follow a guy and his hot cousin as they’re trapped on a deserted island together. Only you can decide how things’ll turn out.
Art is decent, the actual 「good stuff」 less so. I was very disappointed by the quality of the CGs.
There are 6(?) endings if I remember correctly and they really aren’t anything special.
If you expect anything more than ‘hot cousin shenanigans on island’ you will be extremely disappointed. But if that’s exactly what you’re looking for, it’s (almost) perfect.

Links

Films

Films

The Commitments

I’m black and proud of it.

The film is about a man named Jimmy and his gradual decline into depression.
Jimmy is disappointed with the state of Soul in Dublin, so he decides to put a band together. He picks them purely for their musical talent and doesn’t take their personalities into account. The result is, predictably, a ticking time bomb.
The film is very funny; it’s one of the few western comedies (that I’ve seen) that made me laugh my ass off. The music is also pretty good, although, it’s not my kind of music.
I really felt for poor Jimmy and the epilogue doesn’t make it clear what he ends up doing (but I assume he has a job).
A nice watch; it includes a lot of “fucks” but that’s just a minor detail.

Links

Death on the Nile

Denial is a problem.


I should state first that I watched the Oriental Express adaptation with the same actor before, and I quite liked that one. This film is inferior to that one in almost every way. My disappointment upon watching this film is indescribable. It doesn’t help Gal Gadot’s acting is trash. The film is also boring, which the original was not.
One of the things that bothers me most about this one is how they ruined a character from the Oriental Express: Book. Book was a character I quite liked, but his characterization isn’t consistent with the previous film. It’s like he’s watered-down. This is strange since they didn’t even need to include him in this one because he wasn’t even in the original. Then they fucking kill him. Wasting him as a character.
There’s also something off about the pacing, but I can’t say for sure what it is.

Links

I, robot

Victory unintentional

I, robot has almost nothing to do with I, robot, nor iRobot. The less you think about how they’re related, the better.
It’s a decent action film and does make you think, just not too much. Don’t think about the story too much, you will discover a few plotholes. For 2004, the CG and special effects are amazing (and they still hold up, a little); I was even convinced it was released in 2008. Nice characters, interesting music.

Links

Labyrinth

Kick him in the crystal balls!

Labyrinth is a bizarre film about David Bowie acting as someone like David Bowie surrounded by goblins.
I can’t describe how it felt to watch this film. It isn’t bad or good it’s kinda meh. But there’s just so much that’s weird in it you end up feeling… strange. There were a lot of things that make you wonder just what the hell you’re watching. I think the jokes were pretty funny though, one of the few things that works in this film.
David Bowie was an interesting choice for the goblin king. What he did in the film was also pretty intriguing5). His crystal balls were a bit… well weird.
The production value was way higher than it deserved.
Can’t say much except that it was a strange film, give it a watch at least once.

Links

Last Action Hero

Kung Fury before Kung Fury.

It’s about a kid who really likes action films. Specifically, he enjoys the Jack Slater film series (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger). One day he receives a magic film ticket from his… old friend. While watching Jack Slater IV the ticket activates and he ends up inside the film as his favourite hero’s sidekick.
The film is hard to define. While it’s clear that it’s comedic; whether it’s a satire or parody is unclear (In this film the line is very thin). That isn’t to say it’s bad; just a bit confusing.
I really liked Arnold’s performance in this (along with the kid, don’t know his name) and everyone else is pretty solid. The music was fantastic. The special effects were a bit meh, but seeing as it’s not supposed to be taken seriously I let it slide.
What I didn’t like was how much time was spent in the film within the film, I think it would have benefited more from spending more time in the real world.
Good film. Watch it at least once

Links

Music and Lyrics

“We are bigger than the Beatles”

A rom-com from 2007 about an 80s has-been and a plant waterer who have to write a song together.
The film is actually funny, unlike most rom-coms. I spent most of it laughing my ass off. The music video at the beginning is a perfect depiction of 80s music videos, down to small details. At the end we have a “what happened to them” segment during the credits. The music was actually nice too, a lot of it reminded me of different eras of music (we hear stuff that sounds like it’s from the 80s and the early 2000s).

Links

Pandora

The comparison to pandora’s box is a bit on the nose.

On the surface it looks like a film that opposes nuclear power, but it doesn’t.
We follow a group of engineers who work at a nuclear plant, the plant is over 30 years old and hasn’t undergone any maintenance. When the man in charge sends a letter to the first lady (intended for the president) the shady politicians have him fired. Then something bad happens, and then something worse happens.
The film critiques bureaucracy and crony capitalism I guess. Everything wrong that happens is the result of greedy business men and politicians.
But anyways, the special effects are marvelous. Especially when the plant finally explodes. Set design and costumes were great.
Although obviously just part of the film, but the way things just kept getting worse felt a bit eh to me. But I guess this is to show how bad it could get if something like this happened.
Overall, if this happened irl it would be the worst nuclear disaster in history.
Pretty good watch.

Links

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Have I told you about the Umbaka?

I haven’t played the games, so I can’t comment on that aspect.
The film is pretty alright and I don’t understand how people can’t enjoy it. I guess it has something to do with the games, because it’s fine.
Only the ostriches were weird.
Characters were alright, although I wish they fleshed out the relationship between the princess and Dastan a little more.

Links

Shin Godzilla

Those bombs actually worked though

A minor note, other than Godzilla 1999 I have not watched any Godzilla films.
Shin Godzilla is a film about Japanese Politicians trying to deal with Godzilla and failing to do so spectacularly. Shit goes sideways so many times it ends up in the same position.
The CG is really bad in the beginning and it doesn’t really improve all that much, just gets used less. The Godzilla suit actually looks great. The plot is a bit hard to follow and some might say it spends too much time making fun of Japanese politics and not enough with Godzilla. The jokes involving Japanese politicians are all pretty funny, I especially liked how they kept moving from room to room.

Links

Twister

I thought it was just a metaphor!

We follow a group of scientists who are crazy enough to chase tornadoes. The MC is a guy who stops chasing tornadoes because he wants to become a weatherman6).
The premise is interesting and the execution is alright. The special effects were pretty good except for a few moments7).
It felt like it went on too long, at least for me. The characters use Dorothy 3 times and the space between each feels too long.
Minor complaints aside, it’s a decent watch.

Links


2) ^ a Watched it about 2 times now
3) ^ a Such as Pale Moon or Opera V12
4) ^ a Maybe it’s intentional.
5) ^ a The thing with the baby was priceless
7) ^ a Like with the cow
lb/independent_reviews.txt · Last modified: 2022-10-08 14:22:53 by ninjasr