Klaus Review

It’s time for a Santa Claus origin story. You’ve probably seen some of these around and Santa always makes for a fun character to watch. Well, this one takes a bit of a different look at the classic tale and switches some things up. It’s a fun way to readapt the legend and you should have a good time with this movie. It’s a classic feel good film.

The movie starts with Jesper failing at being a mail man. He just can’t seem to do anything right but his father is wise to this and realizes that Jesper is failing on purpose so he can go back home to slack off. His family is rich after all so being at home just sounds more fun. Well now his father has sent him off to the coldest, smallest village out in the middle of nowhere. Jesper needs to have sent out 6000 letters if he ever wants to leave and that will be difficult. For starts the village is in the middle of a civil war and a lot of the kids don’t know how to write a letter anyway. It may take some Christmas magic to get this mission completed.

Jesper goes through a fairly classic character arc here where at first he’s spoiled and mean but gradually learns how to be a better person. He stays in the mean phase for quite a long time though so if anything holds you back from liking him it would be that you may feel the arc took him a little too long. Even by the end he is being mean to one girl because she doesn’t speak English and he doesn’t want to take the time to understand her. For a while he is only focused on the letters so since she wasn’t going to help him get closer to his goal, he had no time for her. It was rather a cruel moment on his part.

He also makes some big mistakes near the end. Inevitably you know there will be a moment where he has to decide to stay in the village or leave with his father and it plays out pretty much the same way in every film but for once you’d like him to just say straight up that he’s not leaving. There are a whole lot of ways that he could have gotten himself out of the sticky situation but he didn’t go with them.

So he definitely has his share of issues. That said, Jesper does give us a lot of the fun comedic moments in the film so you wouldn’t want to miss out on that. He may not be my favorite character but the character arc is still a big staple of the film. The village absolutely needed someone to help out and even if his motives weren’t the best, he did get the job done. It’s like when you see someone doing a good deed online for clout. Yeah they may not have the best reason for helping out but if they actually are helping someone then I can overlook the motive.

Alva is one character who ended up being helped out a lot thanks to Jesper’s selfish actions. She had grown quite disillusioned with the world but when the kids started being eager to learn then she was finally able to find her purpose. Likewise Klaus wasn’t in a great spot in his life and this whole adventure helped to snap him out of it. Jesper definitely did help a lot of people even without meaning too. There was a really solid scene in the movie where we see exactly how much the village has changed. It was worlds different from back when they were always fighting.

The village really couldn’t get much worse from how it was when Jesper first got there. It’s hard to imagine just how sad the place would have been to live in for all of those years but at least now there is no need to worry about any of that. The film has a lot of good musical themes to help back the scenes up as well. Some fun modern titles and then more classic Christmas songs. It all helps to keep a lot of energy within the film and the fast pacing is one of its strengths.

The humor style here is usually about quick wit. Characters talk really quickly as they get the jokes in and usually they’ll already be telling another one while the first is ending. That’s the kind of humor style I like because nothing is dragged out. You either get the joke or you don’t. There are also a good amount of visual gags as well. The animation style here is fairly unique. The characters are all off model but in a stylistic way which is usually used to amp up the humor as the designs are actually referenced once or twice like when Jesper meets Klaus. It may not be a style that you would want to overuse but it’s always tough to look unique in this day and age so props for pulling that off.

I dare say the film almost didn’t need any antagonists. We do have two villain groups here (The ones always fighting) and they continue to get involved all the way to the end but I don’t think they added much. Yes they create a little drama at the end but it’s fairly brief. You could cut that part out and get the same effect by having Klaus or the main heroine walk into his officer and see his notes about getting the letters and leaving. It would have the same effect and I dare say that it would work a bit smoother. The villains were okay but just a bit forced.

Klaus has a good ending so things really work out quite nicely. The ending is important for all movies of course but it’s massively important for a feel good film like this one. You need to feel good or it’s just not going to go over well and would spoil the whole thing. So the ending here is very satisfying and caps off a very nice experience. This is a high quality film that is a lot of fun. I don’t expect you would have any significant issues with the film. It’s got a nice amount of polish and it’s the perfect time to watch this one.

Overall, Klaus is a fresh take on a classic tale. It’s a good amount of fun from start to finish with good character arcs and a fun cast. Jesper may take a little long to get with the program but the important thing is that he does by the end. The movie has a lot of humor throughout and it’s all executed really well. Seeing how the film incorporates each bit of the Santa mythos by the end is always fun. It tackles the Reindeers, the cookies, the naughty list, etc. It was really quite clever at smoothly incorporating them in. You would understand the references each time but it never felt forced.

Overall 7/10

Stand by Me Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

Stand by Me is one of those films where I can’t say that I had high hopes for it from the jump. It’s a movie about a bunch of kids having a journey and that’s not the most interesting premise. I prefer the main characters to be a little bit older which always makes the banter and dialogue more fun. Throw in the fact that they’re in a fairly mean world and none of the kids are that likable and you have a recipe for disaster.

The movie kicks off with a kid dying so Gordie and his friends want to see the body. It’s a rather odd objective but for them nothing ever happens in this town so it’s the only thing they can do to get some excitement out of the day. The body is supposed to just be a few miles away from where they are at so the 4 kids (Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern) all head out. It will be a tough journey though and they don’t have much food so they really need to move quickly. That doesn’t stop them from having their share of fights and disagreements though. They just really want to make it all the way to the goal and so they will keep moving forward.

Perhaps with a better goal the journey would be more fun. Like if they all wanted to go to some kind of tournament or try out a pizza place. But running around to look at a dead body? It’s even worse that it’s another kid since no matter how the kid died that is rather tragic. It’s hard to get all that invested into the mission that the 4 boys have as a result. Do you even want them to succeed?

Then you have the fact that the world seems rather mean spirited. Just about everyone they run into is either an antagonist or just generally upset. The guy they run into at the car factory at least has some reason for this since they are the ones trespassing. They have fun making fun of him and his dog but then can’t take it when he starts hurling insults. Teddy in particular can’t take it as he gets upset when the guy insults his father. You really shouldn’t be hurling insults and acting like a delinquent if you can’t take it when the tables are turned.

Then you have the bullies who show up to make life tough on the main characters. They don’t have much of a grand mission beyond causing trouble and only seem to show interest in finding the body as well while they were there. It’s fortunate that the kids had some equipment because things could have really gone badly for them otherwise. These bullies seemed quite serious about possibly murdering these kids. At the very least you don’t doubt that they would do it.

To break away from the nonstop dangers we do get a quick story sequence about a kid who was teased for being overweight. It’s a story being told so you know it’s fake but we actually get to see it play out in real time. Basically the kid gets his revenge by having everyone start throwing up. It’s a rather gross scene to be honest and I would have cut out the story as well. Even if it was a lighter moment to try and keep the tone from being too down in the dumps, I wouldn’t say it was a good story so that limited how effective it could be.

As for the main kids, I wasn’t a big fan of any of them as I mentioned earlier. Teddy is always causing trouble and can’t really be trusted on the journey. He nearly caused all of the kid to die by deciding to play chicken with a train. It was a really dumb move. Then Vern is always getting picked on by Teddy and I wonder how the 4 of them are even friends anyway. It gets a bit mean spirited with how hard they ride the poor guy. You can have solid banter within a group without getting mean spirited but part of the problem is that the shots were always directed at Vern so it didn’t feel very balanced. If I was him then I would have definitely left a while back.

As for Gordie, he has less to do than the other characters as the true main character who gets the narration but he was okay I suppose. He did less to make him unlikable at least. Then there is Chris who is the most mature of the 4 main characters so at least he is doing his best in keeping everyone alive. Naturally that means that things don’t go so well for him in the epilogue and that’s a shame because he should have had the best ending of the group. In general the film’s ending isn’t very satisfying at all. Part of the point of the film is probably that it’s not supposed to be satisfying since part of the journey is knowing that completing it won’t change anything.

At the same time, intentional or not if an ending is not satisfying then it’s not a good ending. There just isn’t any point in the film where you get invested in what is going on. I don’t think this is a film that I would be able to finish on my own and that’s why it’s got a very low score here. With no hook or likable characters to root for then it was really doomed right out of the gate. I would stand by my theory that the film would be significantly better if the characters were grown up. A bunch of adults running around on an adventure is something that can and has worked for generations. There’s a whole lot that you can do with that and the story would naturally be more focused and interesting. Sure you still need good writing to execute on this premise but I would be confident that the movie could do it.

Overall, Stand by Me is a film that I would definitely recommend skipping. It just doesn’t work on an emotional level which is half of the film right there. Since you don’t care about the characters or the journey then there just isn’t much left for you by that point. This ends up just being a boring movie which is ultimately a really bad thing for it. If you want to see a solid coming of age story about a kid needing to come to terms with the future then watch Big Hero 6 instead. There the hero has to move on from the past but it’s done in a more engaging way.

Overall 2/10

Ford v Ferrari

I remember this film getting a ton of promotion when it was first coming out. You couldn’t walk a few steps without seeing some kind of advertisement or poster. I can see why since everyone loves cars and you would definitely at least now about both companies. I can’t say that I ever followed the competitions much though so at least whoever would win, I wouldn’t know the outcome much. It’s a pretty good movie but one that is hampered by a pretty bad ending. I suppose it is usually difficult to change any parts of the ending when you’re based on a true story but if there was ever a time to do it, this would be it.

The story effectively has two main characters. First you have Shelby who used to be a great driver but unfortunately he can no longer race at high speeds anymore. His heart just can’t keep up with it and so everything gets really blurry. He now works as someone who repairs and sells cars. One day he is approached by Iacocca representing Mr. Ford. He wants Shelby’s help in creating the ultimate race car so they can win Le Mans. Shelby figures this is pretty much impossible since Ferrari has such a strong hold on that race but they are willing to spend anything so why not right? He knows just the man for the job.

The top racer around is Miles. He has won many races over the years but unfortunately they don’t pay the bills very well since his bad attitude often costs him any shot of getting a sponsor. So he’s retired from the business at this point but Shelby pushes him back in. Perhaps by having the best racer and the best car they can actually have a shot at this. There are corporate suits trying to get in the way though, specifically Beebe who didn’t get along with Miles when they first met and now has a huge grudge. The grudge is so big that he would rather lose than see Miles come out on top here.

There is definitely a lot of drama here. I don’t know enough about the historical events to say how accurate it is or not but either way it is very entertaining and that’s the important part. I like the feud between Ferrari and Ford. It makes for a good reason as to why Ford is trying to hard to win this one. He feels like he absolutely has to win this or all is lost. That’s why Mr. Ford is a bit disappointing later on as he seems to lose that fire in favor of the suits calling the shots. Even leaving the race midway to go out and eat seemed a bit odd. I know it’s 24 hours so you need to go somewhere but have the 5 star food go to his suite or something since it’s so important to him.

Allowing Beebe to be the head of the race division again after telling Shelby that he would have no boss was also an odd move. It just seems like Mr. Ford’s mind can be easily changed and his big speeches don’t amount to much since his mind can be changed so easily. It’s not a great look for a man who considered himself to be a real power player. He gets manipulated with ease so while Beebe is a worse character, Ford just looks weak. Beebe being so petty that he would sabotage his own team is just an awful look for the guy. He’s really lucky that he wasn’t fired at this point.

The only executive I actually liked was Iacocca. He was one of the few guys who would stand up for himself and did well during the first board meeting. He didn’t let Shelby deter him the whole time and he had a voice with a good amount of power. Ultimately he still won’t try to rock the boat so at best he will give Shelby a heads up and then dip but I appreciate his doing at least that much. I don’t think most of the others would have done that.

As for Miles, he does get himself into a whole lot of trouble by being so emotional. Shelby tries to help him on several occasions and Miles usually find a way to get himself into trouble. I don’t blame him for being upset at being put on the bench at the last second though. That did feel like a betrayal so I don’t blame him but other scenes like throwing the wrench and causing a scene at the race weren’t good looks. His wife certainly has a hard time of it with everything going on but ultimately she did good to be very supportive when it counted. I thought she was a really fun character and helped to flesh out his side of the plot.

While Miles had his issues off the track, he certainly lived up to the hype on it. He was the best driver without anyone being even close. He knew the right turns to take and breaking all of those records was really impressive. I’d say a good part of why the film is good was due to him being one of the main characters. Additionally Shelby did a great job on his side of things and I would say that he was the best character.

Shelby knew how to play the corporate game while also making sure that things went well on the track. He would stop people from trying to sabotage his racer and he also played some tricks on the rival. Shelby was a big time competitor and his only mistake I would say was being passive with Miles at the end. He should have just told him to race hard and keep going as normal. Ultimately he gave Miles a choice but in a way that still made it seem like slowing down was the right call and I can’t say that I agreed with that at any point. Even if the person suggesting this idea wasn’t trying to mess the heroes up, it just makes no sense. It’s super risky to slow down and don’t you want to go as fast as you can to set more records? That would have been the right way to do it.

Ultimately a lot of characters share the blame for the ending. In the end I suppose Ford was unable to get past the bureaucracy no matter how much the leader thought he could. Ford is still a very top to bottom organization in this film and that does prevent things from being done efficiently and in the right way. There is a time and a place for it but it certainly came as a detriment in every possible moment during this movie.

Overall, Ford V Ferrari is a solid movie. It’s well written and has a lot of good characters. The pacing is good so you are really engaged from start to finish and don’t really notice the length. I did not like the ending of the film which definitely does sour the experience and takes away most of the replay value though. You probably wouldn’t want to watch it again after the first showing. I would still recommend you watch it at least once though. It’s clear that a lot of effort was put into this and they really did a good job of creating this film from top to bottom. You definitely get to experience what it’s like to drive really fast.

Sense, Sensibility & Snowmen Review

It’s time for the next Hallmark movie installment! As always it’s a solid experience all around and Hallmark is quite consistent with that. I did have some issues with the film relative to the others so this would not be one of the strongest ones but at the end of the day when your writing is on point and the film has good pacing, any issues tend to be quite minor ones.

The movie starts off with Ella messing up on another big Christmas decoration party by not following through and making sure that the musicians were set. Her sister Marianne is frustrated because apparently this happens a whole lot. They are co partners in their decorating firm but Marianne has really been doing all of the work. Ella is determined to make it up to her by nailing a big party this time on her own. She happens to overhear a CEO named Edward talking about a party and volunteers her company to complete it. Edward very reluctantly agrees and now it’s up to her to make this a success but is she really up for it?

On Edward’s side, he is the CEO of a really big toy company but ever since he took over the reigns from his father, it has not been going super smoothly. For some reason he just doesn’t seem to have as much of a knack for it and he’s confused since he is going through the data. He has to land this one big account or the company is finished and in the spur of the moment announces that the company will have a big party. Of course that isn’t true but he has to change that and this is where Ella comes in. So now they must hurry to make this deception work out.

I just saw a Hallmark film about lying to the boss so this plot happening again so soon is quite the coincidence. The main characters need to learn not to just lie to the boss when they get stressed out. Trust me on this when I say that it is absolutely not a good idea and will just get you into trouble every time. As for Edward not doing very well as the boss, it definitely makes sense from what we see. He’s been completely lost in his spreadsheets to the point where he cancelled the teddy bear that the company was known for. He said it was not selling well but the problem is that the company’s very identity revolved around the bear.

The company’s whole origin was based around it so getting rid of the bear was absolutely crazy. He seemed a bit short sighted with that decision and early on he is even debating making a toy worse to save some money. You do have to make some tough calls when balancing the checkbook and all the right funds but this was not the right way to do it. Not saying you have to get super emotional but he really wasn’t seeing things through. Even the scene where he nearly tells Ella he’s not interested in her doing the party was not a good move since he had no backup options at the time. This was a moment where he let his emotions get the best of him.

In general you know that he needs to improve a lot. I also thought his mild outburst at the father during their Christmas meal was a bit uncalled for. He did want to set straight that he would be leading in his own way…but in every scene we saw it would usually be Edward trying to impress him or running some numbers by him. I felt like his dad was always eager to help and offered advice (Which was usually very sound advice) when he was around but I didn’t get the vibe that he was super overbearing the whole time. So it felt a bit dramatic when I think his father would have understood right away either way.

As a final note, I also thought Edward badmouthing Ella’s group was a bad look near the end. Of course he has a reason for it but it was very presumptuous. You would want to let Ella make the call at the end of the day and you could let her know why you think it’s not a good idea. But the way he handled that was quite poor so I could see why Ella got upset. Ella jumped the gun quite a lot near the climax so I don’t fully agree with her but that scene was a really bad look. I’ve been taking lots of shot at Edward but at the end of the day he’s still a good guy. His voice is super deep which makes all of his scenes rather entertaining but he also goes out of his way to help Ella out with her future plans and you could say this was before he got super interested in her.

He handled the decorating situation well once he was pressed into it so he still had his good moments. As always I do feel like the romance was a little rushed though. You definitely don’t want to go after your head of party planning when you’re already so busy with the big party coming up. Going for a quick fling during the holidays seems like a recipe for disaster and you need a lot more time to have a quality romance going. That’ll always be a bit of a weak link in these films because there just isn’t enough time to properly develop a romance.

The film even tries to balance a second one here with Ella’s sister Marianne and Edward’s cousin Brandon. I didn’t think this one really needed to be here but at the same time I preferred both characters to their main counterparts. This is a case where the side characters were just really solid. Brandon was always ready to help out and didn’t jump to conclusions. If not for him the whole movie wouldn’t have even started. Meanwhile you totally get why Marianne gets upset in each instance since it’s not like Ella let her down once, but apparently it’s been a whole pattern of incidents. So you’re not so quick to forget when it happens over and over again.

Perhaps it got a little too serious by the end with them not talking to each other for a bit but you know eventually they’d get along again. As for Ella, she’s a good heroine but the party business may not be for her. She has a lot of fun in the moment but because of that she will do things on a whim rather than planning things out. It may have worked out here but that doesn’t mean it always will. It feels like a much more dangerous strategy than the structured way that Marianne has things. Of course with Edward being a very methodical person that should help them find a good middle ground.

Overall, The movie may not have always handled the drama aspects super well at times which is what made this one a bit weaker in some way but at the end of the day it still gets all of the fundamentals right. There are fun Christmas songs here and great scenery throughout the movie. It’s always got a fun vibe and a good amount of replay value because it’s just a nice film to watch on Christmas. Some scenes may make you wince just a little bit with the romance but you’re still in for a good time. I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a fun Christmas title. It’s just solid fun.

Overall 6/10

The Mistletoe Promise Review

The Christmas movies that Hallmark generates are always a lot of fun. They know exactly what they have to do in order to succeed and you’re always in for a very consistent experience. Well this one is no exception and I like the general idea behind the film. The idea of faking a relationship in order to get through some kind of event may not be new but it’s always very interesting.

We start off by being introduced to Nick who is in the running to become a partner at the law firm he works at. This is a really big deal and he’s been working towards this for quite a while now but the catch is that this firm is very family oriented. If you have a girlfriend or even better, a wife then your odds of being promoted are great. So Nick quickly tells his boss that he does in fact have a girlfriend and promises to bring her over for the big party at the end of the year.

Meanwhile we’re introduced to Elise who is in a tough spot right now because she divorced her husband but unfortunately never signed the paperwork when getting married so he ended up with half of her company. Unfortunately she tends to get walked all over by this guy in the business deals and she can only watch as he sinks the company into the ground while showing off his new girlfriend. As a result she no longer liked Christmas as this is the period of time where he rubs it in the most. That’s when she meets Nick in an airport and we get to The Mistletoe Promise.

Basically it’s a legally binding agreement where they will pretend to dating so Nick can get the promotion and in the meantime she can also parade him around the office to get back at her ex. In theory it’s a win win and of course one of the rules here is that nobody will catch feelings for the other. That’s the most important rule because without it the whole thing falls apart in an instant. So they better not let that happen…right? After all that would just wreck everything….

Of course you know that they’re going to fall for each other but you’re really hoping that somehow they won’t for most of the film. It would be a really brilliant ending if they actually stuck to the script and then went their separate ways after a while. Close experiences can certainly bring people together but you like to think that sometimes they wouldn’t magically see each other in that light and would keep it moving. If anything that would be particularly inspired and I would definitely be a fan of that. Ah well.

In general I wouldn’t say it’s a very strong romance but the film is able to do well either way. For starters the writing here is good so there is some fun banter and the characters have a good time beyond the romance. It’s always nice to make a new friend once you’re a grown up like that so it’s good that they each found a friend during this tough time. Nick still shouldn’t have lied to his boss though and I was glad that Elise basically said this to him a few times.

The company seemed really good and the boss was particularly nice so while this may be a theme Nick doesn’t agree with (Needing to have a family) you don’t get around that with deception. Also while that was the talk of the town, it didn’t seem like this was a hard and fast rule. Yes it’s possible that Nick wouldn’t have gotten the job but you still have to play this straight and give it your best shot without all the tricks.

Beyond that Nick seemed like a nice guy though. He tried hard to help everyone out when he has a case and his secretary appreciated him. Nick doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who will give anyone a raw deal. He may have not made all of the right choices here but for the most part he was reasonable and worked well as the main guy. He was also able to stand up for himself and talk tough to the Ex who was messing with Elise.

That’s the one aspect that huts Elise a lot which is that she doesn’t really stick up for herself. At best she will say something passive aggressive but at the end of the day she just sits there and lets the guy do whatever he wants. That’s not the right way to handle this situation. She still owns 50% of the company so I want to see her do something about it. Block some of his initiatives or launch some of her own to tie up the funds. Doing anything would be better than just sitting there and allowing all of this to happen. She was just way too timid the whole time and it could be really grating.

When she is in her role as Nick’s fake girlfriend she does well in throwing slight digs in at the opponent and really getting into the role but I wanted to see her use some of that strength in her personal life as well. Sometimes you do need to stick up for yourself and I just felt that she wasn’t really doing much of that over here. It puts her below most of the heroines in these Hallmark titles even if she was a very capable businesswoman otherwise. It’s easy to see how she got so jaded about love but it also means that you have even less reason to believe that she would fall in love again so quickly. That’s always the one weakness of the Hallmark films so it’s good that every other aspect is so good that it can still bounce back.

After all one thing the films never disappoint in is that they leave you feeling good. The movies have a very happy vibe about them and the ending is always satisfying. Things just work out and and you always get a lot of great scenery and backdrops throughout. This may not be one of the most ambitious titles out there but it has a fun plot and execution so I have no significant issues with it. I could certainly recommend it to anyone looking for some Christmas cheer.

Overall, The Mistletoe Promise is a solid film. It reminds you that just because you sign something saying you won’t have feelings for someone, doesn’t mean they won’t happen. When you develop those feelings it can be just about impossible to stop them and sometimes it can be impossible to predict them either. The more time you spend the more likely this could happen but don’t expect it to be so fast and perfect like in the movies. Ultimately it’s why an agreement like this would be risky in real life and either way there is no benefit as long as you aren’t trying to trick your boss. Honesty ends up being the best policy once more.

Overall 7/10

12 Dates of Christmas Review

Time travel in my Christmas movie? That’s a great way to drum up some hype right from the jump because I like any kind of premise that involves messing with time a bit. The film’s going with rules similar to Groundhog Day where the main heroine is trapped in a spell sort of like Itachi’s Izanami. She must continue to relive the same day until she meets some kind of condition. Usually this involves learning a lesson about yourself but you never really know until you complete the objective. It makes for a fun film for sure.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Kate who is rather rude to everyone. She has not been having a fun time at all. Her father and step mom have set her up with a blind date but Kate has made plans to meet up with her Ex to try and win him back so she’s got a busy day coming up. There’s also the Christmas dinner with her folks but Kate figures she’ll ace everything. Unfortunately she is knocked out at the mall as she gets sprayed right in the face and when she wakes up she is in the loop. No matter how good or bad the day goes she keeps getting reset all the way back to the beginning of the day. How can she escape this loop and will she begin to find the faults with herself?

From the start you can see how Kate has a ton of issues so it makes sense that she would be getting a whole lot of character development here. She is rude to her next door neighbor, doesn’t take her friend’s advice seriously, is mean to her step mom for no reason, blows off the blind date, and then tries too hard with an ex who has moved on. So there is an absolute mess of things that she has to get right and of course this should sound like Groundhog Day. You start off by having fun with the whole thing going the path you think is right, then you try to fix everything, then you stop caring, and eventually you land on the right path.

In Groundhog Day I believe they said he spent thousands of cycles in the town which sounds crazy. For Kate she is around a whole lot of times but I would guess 30-40 max as opposed to it being such a long time so at least she doesn’t get as depressed. No matter how fun the day is though, eventually you will reach your limit because the repetition would just be too much. With your progress being reset each time as well it’s not like you could even try to win the lotto or something. I would probably use the time to start learning a new language or some kind of knowledge that would transfer over but that assumes that you haven’t lost hope in getting out of there in the first place anyway.

It’s also rough when you feel like you’ve done everything perfectly and still get looped. At that point do you just try harder and harder or do you give up? It would feel weird to try and do things exactly the same way again but at the same time you want to help people so you don’t want to just forget to help them in one loop. So in a way that means that the final loop where she gets out will usually not be quite as good as one of the failed ones. If you could control where you could end the loop then that would be perfect but of course it would be a little too convenient.

There are just so many possibilities when going through the scenarios as well so it’s hard to know where to even begin. We see all of the ripple effects when she just stops to talk to one different person. Then you also have to pretend that you aren’t tired of eating the same thing over and over again which has to be tough as well. Now there is one side effect of all this time travel which makes the romance one of the weakest ones I’ve seen in a bit. So we know that Kate is obsessed with getting back together with Jack. She tries this many times but ultimately realizes that it’s too late.

No matter what she does or how nice she is, he will always end up proposing to his new girlfriend. It makes sense, they’ve been split together for a very long time and he is serious about this girl, going back to Kate now would just make him look bad. That said, when Kate inevitably falls for Miles you can’t help but feel like it’s a rebound. He was absolutely the second choice. If in any loop Jack had actually said yes to her and gone back with her then she would not have given Miles the time of day.

Any time there’s a rebound romance I can’t say that it was a good one so this holds her back big time. There’s just no getting around that one. As for Miles, I had some issues with him as well. So this guy lost his wife fairly recent, I remember it was no longer than a few years max and I think they may have even just said it was a year ago. Either way he said it’s too tough to be alone at Christmas so that’s why he is looking around. A blind date feels desperate from the jump but fine we’ll roll with it.

In one loop Kate convinces him to skip the blind date and go out with her. He does after a mild amount of convincing and then they connect in another loop when she is undercover. The guy seems desperate for companionship by anyone. Sure, it’s her in each loop but he doesn’t know that she is the same person so that’s another reason why this romance would falter. At the end of the day he gave his word that he would be around for the blind date so skipping it so quickly like that isn’t a good look. He also has a tendency to take everything quite hard and then run off.

I don’t blame him on most occasions but once in a while he dashes off quickly like when Kate brought up her ex at the dinner table during one of the final loops. Kate’s ex Jack seemed reasonable at least. He didn’t fall for any of Kate’s traps and rejected her in every timeline. While he may have moved on to another romance rather quickly, at least he wasn’t going to backpedal. Once he made his decision then that was it. Meanwhile there was a nice guy named Toby who did his best as he waited at the diner but ultimately the girl never showed up. So it’s a bit of a tragic route for him but Kate helps him out in the end. That romance is even more rushed and doesn’t work but the film doesn’t give it much screen time anyway. If you’re desperate enough to go on a blind date then I guess you just hope that it works out.

This movie is definitely at its best when it is having fun with the premise and just going all out with the loops. It’s fun to see the main character slowly get more and more advanced in how much she knows and how to maneuver around the world. You’d think that you would quickly pick up on a lot of things when you live through the day over and over again like this. The movie’s pacing is good and the writing is solid. At most you could just say that Kate is a little too mean at first. She’s completely unlikable and you’d think that she was Scrooge the whole time.

It’s fortunate that she had the loops to protect her because otherwise she completely burns some bridges during the loops. Even before she gives up Kate is just so selfish and only caring about herself that she really makes life rough for the others. At one point during the film I felt like she was trying to ruin Christmas for everybody that she possibly could. Definitely not ideal main character behavior.

Overall, The 12 Dates of Christmas is a fun film. I always like films about a time loop since the premise is just so much fun. Who hasn’t thought about going back in time for a redo? If I had rolled a different way back in the Smash 4 days I could have made it to Tokyo and won the big tournament. It’s impossible not to think about things like that once in a while and the film gives you a chance to really visualize it. I’d definitely recommend checking this one out.

Overall 7/10

Prancer Review

When you think of Prancer you’re thinking of a fantastical adventure like with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and his friends. Not a more emotional film about a kid who wants to do the right thing. I think this film had some potential but ultimately the characters can be more on the annoying side and Prancer’s role wasn’t quite big enough. It’s an okay movie but it’s not going to hold its own with the big Christmas hits.

The movie starts with Jessica showing off her reindeer knowledge and having a good time with her friend Carol. She ends up seeing a mysterious reindeer around but it vanishes before anyone else can notice it. Eventually it appears again and she realizes that this is Prancer. Somehow he got injured and has been split up from Santa and the rest of the reindeer. Jessica figures she will nurse him back to health and then set up a meeting spot with Santa to get the guy to take this reindeer back into the group. This won’t be easy though as her father John is going through hard times economically and he is thinking about giving Jessica over to his sister Sarah. Jessica is not happy about this at all but what can she do about it? Also, can she keep the reindeer secret for long?

The deck is absolutely stacked against Jessica here but she never gives up. That’s just not the way she does things. My first main issue with the film is that John can be rather mean the whole time. He never feels very understanding towards Jessica even when she is doing her best. Jessica makes mistakes sure, but she always apologizes and is very respectful towards her father. Usually in these films you see the kid being disrespectful and never apologizing so when he’s still harsh to her despite this it just feels off. The film overplayed its hand with John and makes him far too unlikable so it’s hard to root for him at all or even sympathize to the extent that you normally would. He’s basically an antagonist for most of the movie.

Then you have Jessica’s brother Steve who is also rather mean the whole time. He blackmails Jessica into doing his dishes for a year so he won’t tell their father about the reindeer. Sure he gets his emotional scenes later on where he stands by Jessica but he was a bit overblown in the opening scenes. Surely he could have made the demands a little better than that right? So I think this boils down to the writer where they wanted to put Jessica in a tough corner but they just weren’t good at holding back. So instead of the characters just being a little rude and setting things up for the heart warming second half, they accidentally made them really mean.

It’s a tough balance but you have to walk a careful line in these films or you make the characters go too far past the point of no return and that’s exactly what happened here. The film ends up suffering for this a bit as a result. Then you have the drama with Jessica and Carol as Jessica takes everything super personally. In this case you feel bad for Carol since she didn’t realize she was offending Jessica by saying she didn’t believe in God and Heaven. Jessica’s reactions were certainly not very graceful at all and this is one time where you didn’t really sympathize with her. She never really has a full apology to Carol on this either or at least not to the extent that she should. Carol really didn’t do anything wrong but got treated badly for most of the film.

Then there’s the neighbor Mrs McFarlane who was reasonable enough but I’m not really sure what the point of her character was. When you think about it she didn’t really do a whole lot here. I suppose we got to see that she wasn’t so bad after all but if you cut her out of the movie then nothing really changes. I expected her to have a much bigger role in the second half/climax because that’s how the setup felt. Not saying it’s objectively a bad decision to have her vanish but it just felt like an odd one.

Prancer also should have done more. Of course during the film you are meant to wonder if he is just a normal reindeer or not and that mystery keeps up until the film definitively makes a statement in the final scene. I liked the way that it ended so that worked out for me but I definitely would have given Prancer more to do. Either he was getting into mischief at the house or being kidnapped which isn’t the best role for this guy. If anything Prancer holds the film back as a result.

With a Christmas movie like this you are looking for an uplifting adventure where you can have a lot of fun. That’s the whole point you could say right? Well this one just isn’t super happy most of the time. You feel sad when Prancer is on screen since he’s hurt and injured. Then you feel sad when everyone is picking on Jessica or when Jessica picks on Carol. There are more sad scenes than happy ones here and as a result that makes the movie a bit lopsided. At the end of the day you could call it more of an uplifting film by the end but it doesn’t consistently grab that tone. So instead you have a balance where half of the time the movie just isn’t very fun.

The writing is decent even if the writers don’t know how to make some characters antagonistic without being over the top mean. With better writing I think you could have really done well with this movie. Perhaps have the main characters be grown ups instead even if it does mean rewriting the approach a bit differently. You could have succeeded with the kids though, it just would have taken more effort. Because of that I’d end up putting this film in the middle. I can’t picture myself ever re watching it over another Christmas movie but I still wouldn’t call it bad. I think that would be too strong.

Overall, Prancer may not be the film you were expecting but you can still get some good moments out of it. I found parts of the film to be a little too mean spirited so that can make it difficult to get to the ending though. It’s a fairly unique film as I wasn’t even totally sure what kind of vibe it was going for at times. I suppose you have to give it credit for trying to be really serious while also balancing the Christmas cheer, it just didn’t pull this off. Only watch this one if you really want to see some Reindeer in live action but otherwise you should watch the original Rudolph movie.

Overall 5/10

The Craft Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

When I hear the term “The Witching Hour” I think of Football since they use that term every week on Red Zone when the games are entering the final quarter. I don’t watch a whole lot of movies about witches either so I don’t hear it in this context as much. Well in the end that may be a good thing because this one’s not very good. The characters are all pretty bad for the most part and any scene involving a witch initiation or ceremony tends to drag on quite a bit. This one did not end up being a winner.

So the movie starts with Sarah moving into town and it looks like this place is filled with creeps so she’s going to have a hard time fitting in. One guy seems to like her but it quickly becomes apparent that he’s just using her and does the same to all the newcomers. This drives Sarah into the arms of the 3 witch outcasts at the school. They believe that Sarah is the person needed to complete their quartet so they add her to the initiation and begin their spellcasting. At first things seem harmless enough like little coincidences or love spells but then the 3 girls start getting more and more extreme about using their magic to hurt others and have a good time. Sarah wants out but much like a gang…once you’re in there is no way out. Can Sarah stop these 3 or is it game over?

One thing I’ll give the film props for is that it does cover a lot of ground. Keep in mind that at first Sarah isn’t part of the clique so gradually she joins them, then they all explore their abilities, then they see how these powers are causing damage to people, then they become cool with this, and then they turn evil and go after Sarah. So there’s a whole lot of turnarounds going on here and the film does a reasonable job of giving each section time to breathe. As I mentioned earlier it only really drags on during the witch ceremonies.

We don’t need to see them huddled in a circle chanting to the winds or forming blood pacts. Those were dated when they first came out and you feel like Sarah is really letting them take her down the dark side here without much resistance for a while. They are cool with just stealing books from the local witch expert and while Sarah doesn’t steal anything, just hanging out with these guys is a bad look.

Because if you keep being friends with people who are criminals then to an extent it seems like you are condoning it right? You have to take a firm stand against such things if you really want to make a difference. Sarah just gets in a bit too deep here and it feels like the film wouldn’t have even started if she didn’t hang out with these girls. Now you don’t want to judge them on the reputation of course so it’s good Sarah didn’t buy that but once she saw that they were actually not good people then it was time to cut out.

Sarah isn’t exactly blameless in this whole debacle either though. She casts a love spell on Chris, the guy who messed with her in the intro and apparently it’s basically permanent and can’t be turned off. From there he really goes off the deep end with how obsessive he is over her to the point where he becomes dangerous. She finds this amusing at first and disturbing later on but doesn’t take a very active role in trying to remove the spell.

There is one lady named Lirio who at least knows about witches and can maybe help to an extent but surprisingly she ends up doing nothing in this film. She gets to talk tough and come up with ideas but Sarah runs out of there before they can properly try out the spell. I think Sarah should have stood her ground there since maybe they could have fought off the 3 witches together but I guess we’ll never know from there.

Throughout the film they explain that Sarah is a prodigy in magic so you’re waiting for her big power moment but this isn’t quite Shonen Jump so that doesn’t get to happen. Would have been really cool though. Sarah still does get her clutch moments in the end though and we do get a witch battle by the end. Sarah gets to confront all 3 witches and shows them what true power really is. I appreciated having some action at the end.

The ending of the film is also quite solid with Sarah really laying down the law. It’s not quite sequel bait but you know if there was another film that Sarah would be in good shape now. These other 3 won’t be able to do much against her anymore. So in the end I wasn’t big on Sarah’s character but at least she ends well. Bonnie and Rochelle were played up as if they were going to be sympathetic characters for a while there so I was definitely surprised when they went into full villain mode. It wasn’t a bad decision, the film subverted my expectations in a solid way there. These two didn’t really plan things out very well but at least they were following some kind of path.

Nancy was definitely the main villain of the group in the end though and was certainly the most ambitious. She probably should have tried a more direct way of taking Sarah down before it was too late though. Beating around the bush just put her in a tough spot here and gave time for Sarah to get her bearings. The way the witch powers work here is typically more mental than physical like messing around in the dreams but when push comes to shove you can also use telekinetic abilities. There isn’t much in the way of defense though so if they all ganged up on Sarah and just beat her up there would not have been much of a counter to that.

Overall, The Craft wasn’t really my cup of tea. The witch ceremonies drag on a whole lot and the main characters just aren’t very likable. There’s a super random scene with a guy and his snake that pops out of nowhere but for an instant opens up the door to some interesting plot threads. I thought things were going to go in a different direction with some kind of shady group showing up and the main characters having to team up. The 3 witches actually being evil by the end was unexpected and could have worked but ultimately just didn’t take this title to the next level.

Overall 2/10

Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea Review

At long last, it’s time to dive in to the aquatic romance drama from a while back. This is quite possibly the most dramatic romance that I’ve seen to date. Just about every episode seems to end with a massive cliffhanger like someone confessing or being (literally) swept away before they can do something. It’s a very interesting show so you’ll stay engaged the whole time and ends up being a solid show for that reason. That said, while there are a lot of romances in the show, I can’t say that I could get behind most of them, but the main romance was on point which is what counts right?

The show introduces us to a world very much like ours except for one big difference, a huge chunk of people live underwater. This started ages ago and so there is a divide between those who live underwater and those who live on the surface. They don’t tend to get along very well but at least the kids are allowed to attend school on the surface. They have Ena which effectively lets them breath and interact as normal but they must stay hydrated by swimming or splashing water on themselves every once in a while or they could dry out and die. It certainly makes everyday life a little trickier.

The surface dwellers are all completely normal while the underwater factions get a bit more supernatural too. See, they serve the Sea God and he is represented by a familiar/high priest who accepts their tokens and free meals in exchange for keeping things peaceful. You get the feeling that the surface dwellers wouldn’t buy into that as much. There is a whole world out there but the series mainly sticks to one village. I found myself wondering how the rest of the planet handles the situations and disasters that come into play later on in the series. I guess there wasn’t much time for that but it would have been interesting.

Now lets get to the main story. We follow a group of kids from underwater, Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, and Kaname and they’ve always been a very close knit group. They would like for things to stay the same always but with their having to go to school on the surface and growing up that seems impossible. They’re all changing and there is no way to turn the clock back now. They can at least do one last big project together which is to create a Lady Ojoshi doll to celebrate the annual Ofunehiki festival. This used to be an annual thing before there became a lot of bad blood between the two factions of humans.

Having kids from the sea and surface work on this together could help to finally heal the divide but it won’t be easy because Hikari isn’t particularly happy about this. He started off on the wrong foot with the surface characters because a guy named Tsumugu is among them and Hikari’s childhood friend Manaka seems to like him. This is where all of the drama starts. The chain of events seems to be: Kaname likes Chisaki who likes Hikari who likes Manaka who likes Tsumugu. With everyone chasing after someone else, that means almost nobody can have a happy ending here.

This is a very character driven show of course so you can expect a whole lot of development for all of the characters here. The romances are a big factor in the show as well so I’ll talk about each one and how they stack up. The cast is at a decent size here as well but fortunately the series is over 20 episodes as 13 probably wouldn’t have been enough to really handle this one. As it is, you feel like the show did a good job of covering a whole lot of ground and even changing things up with a big time skip midway through the series.

The animation is fairly good here. I wouldn’t call it anything super special but as this isn’t an action series they don’t have to worry about big fight scenes or anything. The backgrounds with the water are on point and that’s what counts. The visuals underwater can be good as well and I liked the ice effects. The show could have a bit of fanservice at times but for the most part stays away from that so you could still call this a classier romance story. Falling into that trap would have been bad for the show.

The soundtrack is really good. In this case the second ending particularly jumps out as it plays early for a few of the cliffhangers and works really well. Whenever you hear the song picking up you know that something big is about to happen. It’s suitably emotional and works really well for the show. I’ve listened to it quite a few times and the normal tunes during the episodes are good enough as well. They really serve to enhance the scenes.

Where the show does particularly well is with the drama. The show takes itself really seriously and it works here. Typically I am more of a comedic romance fan if I have to watch something that’s part romance but everything here was dialed up to 11 and it just worked. The show doesn’t do anything halfway and the drama kept me interested so it succeeded. I’d say that’s a credit to the writing as well as to the strong character cast here. You wouldn’t be able to pull off a romantic drama otherwise which is why the genre is so tough to get right. There are some really annoying characters here but that tends to be intentional. The pacing is good as well but now lets go into the characters in more depth.

Lets talk about Hikari first. As the main character he will be getting a ton of screen time here. Initially he is very headstrong and always getting into fights as he lets his jealousy over Manaka get the best of him time and time again. He’s quick to fight and constantly gets into a lot of trouble. It’s hard to root for him at this point in time because he’s just causing so much damage. It’s also the wrong approach to try and win Manaka over as well.

After the time skip he’s a lot more mature and a much improved character. He definitely did good by that point and does his best to keep everyone on track. He really grew into the leadership role out of the main group of friends and by the end I liked him a good amount. Then you have his best friend Kaname who is much more of a quiet figure. He tends to keep his feelings to himself most of the time and just enjoys being part of the gang. Gradually as he sees everyone else making moves he starts to make his.

Unfortunately while Hikari went up as the series went on, Kaname kept on going down. He started out well as the smart member of the group who always had Hikari’s back but then things started to get rough when he would do whatever it took in order to try and win out in the battle of relationships. This would cause him to put Hikari on the spot and try to stir up trouble. He went way too far at different points and there was no going back for that. It’s quite possibly why his ending isn’t quite as bright as some of the others.

Manaka is the fun heroine here who always has a good time and sees the bright side of things. She’s always a fun character and also gets quite a bit of development as the series goes to the end. I don’t think she stuck out as much as the other main characters as her personality is a bit more simple and she doesn’t have as many big character moments to have to fight through. Still, she is always at the center of things so you will see a lot of her.

Chisaki is Manaka’s best friend but of course she likes Hikari so that makes things a bit tricky. Chisaki is always trying to be the very mature member of the group so in a lot of ways she is like Kaname there. That said, the more you bottle stuff up, the tougher it can be and so she makes the situation a lot tougher on herself. She just isn’t able to voice her feelings as easily as Hikari can. Chisaki certainly has her big moments here and of the 4 characters I would say that she gets the most tragic scenes. You feel worse for her than the other 3 in part because you really know that she’s doomed from the start while for the others you figure that they could possibly have a shot at some point.

Tsumugu is the guy from the land who is here to help out and he at least treats the ocean kids well from the start. You can’t say that about a lot of the other kids who were around. He knows a good amount about the ocean children which makes sense as the series goes on. I like that he has a cool head on his shoulders and doesn’t panic a ton the way the other characters do. Tsumugu calculates every move and then tries to find the ideal outcome. He takes this approach to romance as well and this makes for an interesting approach. I liked him well enough. He may have broken up the main dynamic of the main 4 which left them a little sore but he always meant well and he doesn’t tend to make any big mistakes.

Then we have Miuna and she starts out as a girl who causes a lot of little problems for the heroes but after the time skip she becomes a fairly big character. She likes Hikari but of course that’s a problematic crush there and so you can’t root for her and have to hope that she can get over it. Miuna feels doomed from the start due to this and while the whole thing is sad, you just need her to move on. Beyond that plot she was much improved after the time skip to the point where she could now think up plans to help with the festival and do her best to pull her weight.

Her friend Sayu gets a bit less of a role. She starts studying really hard though and does her best to be a bit of a genius. She tends to also be good at being direct with the other characters like Miuna and isn’t quick to get too discouraged or depressed. Her romance may have some of the least development to it but at the end of the day she has spent years on improving herself and putting herself in the best possible position to land her guy. I appreciate the effort into that.

Lord Uroko is an annoying character though and now he’s someone that you won’t be rooting for. He likes to remind everyone that he is just a scale of the sea god so he can’t do much but he rarely helps the heroes out. He tends to feel like a pawn all the way through but one who makes the wrong decisions. Attacking the heroes was already uncalled for with the ice but then helping with the tidal waves? This guy’s a villain if you ask me and I’m glad that Hikari didn’t give the guy a second thought as he went to save Manaka. Sometimes you just have to go out there and save lives even if the cryptic characters claim that it’ll just make things worse. You can’t listen to them.

Akari is a reasonable character for the most part. She was one of the first to rebel from the village since she liked someone from the surface world. I did not approve of the relationship but I agreed with getting out of the village. Those guys could be a little too dicey at times. She did her best to still mend the relationships with everyone in the meantime. Akari ended up being a very memorable supporting character. More so than her husband Itaru. I was less sold on him and he didn’t feel quite as pro active as she was. He was mostly just around but not doing much of anything.

Atsushi doesn’t have much of a role in the story at all except to be someone who likes Miuna but doesn’t seem to stand a chance. As soon as he appears you figure that he’ll get to do something though. I never really liked him much but his role is so small that you won’t really think about him anyway. Now Tomoru was a very annoying character. This guy is the chief of the village and yet he can never be bothered to actually help Hikari out. Worse than that is the fact that he will get in the way. The old traditions are just too important to him and he takes forever to act. He really needed to have Hikari’s back no matter what and helping out earlier could have also solved some of the issues they all faced ahead of time. By not doing that he just put them in an even deeper hole. He has got to be one of the worst characters in the show.

Now lets talk about the final pairings for the show and I’ll tell you which one(s) worked and which did not. This will of course have spoilers to skip the next 7 paragraphs if you haven’t seen the show yet. This is really about romance and drama so if you know all of the final pairing then it’ll probably take away from your enjoyment a bit. So yeah this is your big warning on skipping it because it’s time to dive right in!

First up we have Hikari + Manaka as the first final pair and this one you will probably have guessed. They’re the main two and the show is about all of the obstacles that get in their way. Hikari openly liked her from the start but it always seemed like Manaka liked Tsumugu so things weren’t working out. It turns out that she didn’t like him in that way and just appreciated having him as a good friend. Some scenes may make you think twice about that but at most I suppose you can write it off as her having a very temporary crush on him when they first met. That said, this is easily the strongest romance of the series.

It’s a romance where both of them were the top option for each other and that’s a good thing. There were no rebounds here and Hikari did try real hard for her. He got rejected several times for moving a bit too quickly and I’m all about slowing things down so that wasn’t bad of Manaka. Ultimately I could give this romance a thumbs up because a lot of time passed and so the relationship developed naturally rather than being rushed. It was a good romance all things considered.

Next up is Chisaki + Tsumugu and this one is definitely a lot weaker. Keep in mind that Chisaki has liked Hikari all this time. Tsumugu wasn’t even on her radar until deeper into the series once the time skip happened and Hikari wasn’t a realistic option anymore. Even then she didn’t want to get together with him because she figured that it just wouldn’t be right but by the end she “settled” for him. Second choices never really work and so naturally this one’s going to get the thumbs down. It’s still a rebound even if it’s slightly less so compared to some of the other romances coming up.

After those two is Kaname + Sayu and this is probably the weakest romance. Kaname was desperately after Chisaki and even played dirty with the other characters to knock Hikari out of the running but in the end she just never ended up liking him in that way. He still likes her by the end of the series and only gives Sayu the hope that one day he will like her. On one hand the pairing doesn’t actually happen yet so perhaps it never will but if it does then it wouldn’t work as another rebound. This romance also gets less screen time than most of the others. At the end of the day you felt like Kaname was probably going to lose out and as the show went on that is what happened. Playing dirty never pays.

Then we’ve got Miuna + Atsushi as another romance that takes a nosedive here. Atsushi likes Miuna a lot but the guy barely gets 10 minutes of screen time in the show. Miuna is flat out not interested because she likes Hikari. Glad that ship didn’t work out but Satoru would be a very obvious rebound if it happens. As with the last ship it was only starting to be set up and hadn’t actually gone through so that gives me a little leeway to not give it the full thumbs down yet.

Akari + Itaru is next up and this one is definitely a full thumbs down. Look, Itaru’s wife died fairly recent given how young their daughter Miuna still is and yet he is now going out with the wife’s best friend Akari? It’s easy to see why Miuna was so upset. It’s an unspoken rule that you never go out with friends and so that was a bad idea. It really didn’t make either character look good and while it’s supposed to be a very emotional moment, I wasn’t buying into it. This was a romance that didn’t really need to happen.

Finally we have the Lady Ojoshi and the Sea God. We get to learn more about this one and it just makes the Sea God look really petty and awful. He broke up a perfectly happy couple on a whim and while Ojoshi tried to be happy it was clear that this was not the case. By this point it’s not like you could take things back and so their relationship ends rather tragically. The Sea God then decides to be petty for the rest of his existence and becomes another one of the worst characters here so that’s definitely not a good look for him. In the end the only romance I actually thought was good was the main one with Hikari and Manaka. The rest of the romances lose out but the show is written well so it’s still a fun adventure.

I’ve mentioned quite a bit about how the writing was good for this show and it’s important because as a non action title you’re really counting on the writing and characters to be on point. Without them there is no way the show could have succeeded. It also made some really bold choices like having the big time skip midway through. Part of why that one was interesting was because only some characters aged as the ones in a coma did not. So that really served to change the dynamics up. A few years may not be too crazy and you could make it work in a relationship but at the same time it is still tough because you know that you missed out on several years of your life.

A lot of the show is about The Ofunehiki festival and creating a Lady Ojoshi. To be honest this tends to be the most dull part of the show relatively speaking as you’re more interested in the interactions than the actual play. It is used to great effect though as tragedies always happen around this festival. You can see why a lot of people don’t even want to do it anymore even if the adults handle it in a very petty way. Hikari really has to handle most of it which is a bad look for the grown ups. The time skip was a good way to show how things have changed for a lot of the characters and not as much for others. It’s almost like having two completely different shows rolled into one. Hikari is still stuck in his season 1 mode but everyone else has changed so much. Even the attitude when doing the festival again was very different for the adults and kids who had aged up. There was a lot less petty fighting and everything this time around as people saw the very real danger from last time but also the bonds that came through it. Still would have been interesting to see more of the outside world and I wonder if the threat was as apocalyptic as Lord Uroko made it out to be. Something tells me that he exaggerated a bit. This wasn’t the point of the show but it still made me interested.

Hikari also gets the best hype moments of the series like when he saved Manaka from the sea god’s trap. The shoe is not generally going for hype but it does have its moments. Due to the drama there will also be times during the show where everyone makes a mistake or two. I don’t think there is a single character here that acted perfectly but at least most of them are likable so it’s cool. Some moments may feel like they’re just here for drama but it just works out. Each episode has some kind of big development and that’s key for this kind of show. There is also some humor but for the most part this is a very serious show. A happy one as well as a sad one but you’re just along for the ride. It’s so eventful you may be tempted to say that it isn’t a slice of life but I think that’s still appropriate.

Overall, A Lull in the Sea is a good how. It’s a very emotional tale about romance and characters having to grow up. They all deal with a lot of drama and issues that pop up because no matter how hard they try, they aren’t able to keep the old dynamics the way they once were. It’s just not possible and the show is really about accepting change. While it may sound a little too dramatic on its surface, the show does a good job of keeping you invested. It just dives in 100% to being a super dramatic show and that really works out. I would recommend this if a drama sounds appealing to you. Then you won’t find ones much better than this title.

Overall 7/10

Ranking all of the RWBY Episode 4s

We are back for another round of the RWBY episode rankings! You probably won’t be surprised at how well Volume 3 does but the question is if any of the other volumes can keep up. Will they get absolutely destroyed or will they have a fighting chance here? With a series as good as RWBY it’s always fun to see which episodes can really surpass the others in these battles. You can tell how about half of these episodes are more about setup though, but there are the action ones as well. It shows how balanced the series is as the action changes from volume to volume.

9. Volume 4

Volume 4 has to come in at the tail end here which is rough for the volume but this is more of a low key episode. We see Yang finally come to terms with not having her other arm anymore and it was nice to see the teachers off duty. I always like Yang as the really confident heroine so it was nice to see her get back in the groove. Meanwhile Raven and Qrow’s meetup was hype. We hadn’t known Raven too well by this point so any appearance was really appreciated. A lot of setup for future events occurred here.

8. Volume 7

Finally seeing the heroes become fully official huntsmen was great. It’s been a long time coming after all and it was nice of Ironwood to have kept this in mind with everything going on. That said, I still think the heroes act a bit too in awe of the Ace Ops here. Cmon they may be reasonably tough but RWBY and friends have dealt with much more powerful fighters. We see here that the Ace Ops don’t even see each other as friends so naturally that was going to hurt them down the road. The episode is really more on the calm side but seeing the heroes finally get some real recognition was great. They’ve saved the day on many occasions after all.

7. Volume 6

The cliffhanger for this episode is really what gets it a bit higher up. We have the heroes making their way to an abandoned village which has clearly seen better days. It’s a nice ominous way to end things off but otherwise this episode doesn’t have a whole lot happening. Everyone’s really upset at Ozpin for the fact that he kept more secrets and has no real plan. That’s probably the worst part of it because then he has been stringing them all along for ages without any big strategy. You’d think he would have thought of something over the years but I guess he just never got around to it. It’s a really bad look if you ask me. I was never a big fan of Ozpin but if I was then this would probably hurt even more.

6. Volume 5

Volume 5 will always be the most nostalgic volume for me even if it isn’t my favorite one. That’s because it was coming out right as I first got into the show and so I kept watching the episodes over and over. It may be a dialogue heavy volume but it handled itself in much more interesting ways than Volume 4 so it stayed fresh. We do get a quick Yang fight in this episode though. While the speed of the fight is a bit on the slow side, the choreography is still on point and that’s what counts. It’s also nice to see more of Raven and we’re gearing up for the big conversation there. I also liked that Weiss was able to break free on her own and didn’t really need to be saved. Of course if Yang was not there then she would have been doomed though.

5. Volume 1

Volume 1 has some more fun gags with Ruby and Weiss having their differences. I do wonder where Ruby popped out from though, has she just been beating up on a bunch of Grimm off screen? Admittedly it probably is her fault about the trees burning down since she should have seen Weiss while zipping around. It also is embarrassing to be having so much trouble with normal grimm when individually they should be able to defeat them all with ease. We also get to catch up with the other teams like Jaune and Pyrrha so it was nice to see them. The episode has a good blend of story and action while covering a lot in a small amount of time.

4. Ice Queendom

Now we’re entering the anime only original story and it works quite well here. We get a whole new environment and get to learn about Weiss’ psyche. It’s an effective way of showing her true thoughts the whole time without having to make it appear too forced or anything like that. It’s the right way to go about it. The visuals still look really good and actually getting a Ruby vs Weiss fight is something we’ve been waiting for throughout the franchise. The battle theme is also on point even if it seems like the show always uses the same ones. The lyrical moments are on point though and this show just continues to operate at a very high level. I’m eager to see how this plays out for the rest of the show.

3. Volume 8

Volume 8 continues to go strong in this episode. We get a really tense chase scene where Yang and company are trying to save Oscar. Unfortunately there are just too many Grimm in the way and they can’t keep up. They tried hard though. Ren is annoying in this episode though as the guy blows up on Yang and does a lot of complaining the whole time but it’s all undeserved. He’s the one not handling things well and trying to push that off to everyone else. It’s not the right approach to the situation and he’s hurting the team unity. That’s playing right into Salem’s hands. This would begin his downfall as Ren never really recovers throughout the volume. Well perhaps his downfall began in volume 7 but I remember thinking this was a particularly bad moment for him. The actual episode is just too hype to have any lower though and the song during the chase was on point.

2. Volume 2

This was the first time we really got to see Team RWBY fight..well as a team. They used advanced combination moves and really overwhelmed Torchwick throughout the fight. It was nice to see the combos and as always I liked seeing Blake and Sun team up here. I miss when Blake was the very rebellious one who was always leading the charge like this. She is really at her best here and Sun has always got her back which is great. Neo’s debut appearance was also exciting and seeing the bar from Yang’s trailer was a nice callback. It reminds you why you definitely don’t want to be skipping those trailers. The lyrical song that played during the fight in the episode was also masterful.

1. Volume 3

I have to admit that I was not surprised to see this one at the top because Volume 3 is full of stunning fights. This one had us finally see Mercury and Emerald get their first action scene. Considering that these villains have been around for quite a while, it’s something that has been a long time coming. What better way to show off their skills than to beat some of the most experienced students in the whole school? They won so easily too that it really made a statement too. To this day I’ve watched the fight many times over. The trash talk is also excellent.

That wraps up another comparison list for the RWBY episodes. Some more shake ups here but at the same time Volume 3 is still dominating so things haven’t fully changed yet. That volume was just so epic though, it really set the tone and pace for the series going forward. A lot of fun moments here though and it’s always nice to revisit the series. Will Episode 5 start to turn the tables? Well we’ll definitely find out soon! That said, the best comparisons will probably be once we hit the climax because every volume always ends with a bang with no exceptions. Measuring which climaxes were the best will be the exciting part.