Clannad: After Story Review

Clannad: After Story is one of those shows that will start to stress you out near the end. It starts to go towards an ending that you know would absolutely wreck it and you’re just hoping that it doesn’t go that way but a small part of you knows that it could be possible. Well, it doesn’t happen and so you can breathe a sigh of relief. The show does stick the landing and ultimately it’s a good show. I do think it lags behind the original which managed to balance the drama and comedy a lot better. As the After Story this one is a lot more serious throughout with less time for light hearted humor. As expected from this franchise though the emotional scenes definitely do land and this will be a show where you get emotionally invested.

The show starts off with some final school adventures. Enjoy this part of the show while you can because once they leave the school then that’s it. The first episode is sort of the introduction episode for new fans that you often see for season 2s. It’s a chance to get the whole cast hanging out and having fun. It’s a Baseball episode so you’ve also got the sport bonus. It’s a fun way to start up the season and is probably the happiest episode in the saga. Nothing goes wrong, it’s just everyone having a good time bonding over the game. Definitely one of the best executions of the “intro” episode that I’ve seen.

The first real arc involves Tomoya’s friend Youhei as he finally gets his time to shine. Or falter as is the case this time. His sister Mei is really concerned about him because Youhei is still a big troublemaker and doesn’t seem to have matured at all. A lot of time has passed over the years so she was hoping to see some improvement. Youhei figures that he will need a fake girlfriend to trick Mei into thinking that he can look out for himself. None of his female classmates want to help out with this though so the only candidate left is Nagisa’s mom Sanae who doesn’t mind helping out.

The only tricky part is that Youhei doesn’t actually realize that she is the Mom and actually thinks he has a chance. Meanwhile Mei sees through this fairly quick and is discouraged again so she pretends to be going out with Tomoya to test Youhei’s bond but unfortunately he fails at this one because since he’s Tomoya’s best friend he figures that he will look the other way. Everything pretty much blows up at this point and it doesn’t help that Mei wants Tomoya to help her get Youhei back on the soccer team since everything seemed to go wrong as soon as he was kicked off of that club.

Part of the problem though is that the club is as corrupt as they come. The actual members of the club just aren’t good people so there isn’t much benefit in trying to warm up to them. It would have been better if they didn’t even try to help but of course once Mei says she will go Tomoya has to accompany her because these guys can’t be trusted. We do get a big fight there though and then another fight later on between Tomoya and Youhei.

This arc definitely had a lot of serious moments and a lot of dramatic ones as well. The reason I thought that Youhei didn’t look good though is because all of the plans were just bad. For starters, getting a fake girlfriend to convince Mei that he is mature now is just going to have the opposite effect when she inevitably finds out the truth. Even if he could keep the secret, well now he’s living out a lie. His best bet would be to get an actual girlfriend but of course that wasn’t quite in the cards for him either.

He’s always been the most unintelligent member of the cast and so Tomoya ends up tricking him a whole lot but if there was ever a time to rise above that then this would have been it. Instead Youhei makes the wrong call in not speaking up when he knows Mei is way too young for Tomoya. Honestly if the explanation was that he thought it was another prank that would have been way better than his nonreaction here. I would at least have been able to buy that a bit but otherwise he had to make a stand here and shut this down.

Youhei never really came back from that since he doesn’t get much of a role after this. Ultimately he was a good friend to Tomoya and kept him in check over the years but as the resident punching bag of the series it would have been nice if he could have at least looked really good during his big serious arc. That was his chance and he blew it.

Meanwhile I’d also say Mei didn’t look very good here. She could be a bit too forceful in trying to make sure that Youhei matured. At the end of the day it’s something that he has to do on his own and it’s not like you can really force it to happen. Her decision to get him back on the soccer team just ended up causing a whole lot of issues instead of really helping anything out.

It is unfortunate that Tomoyo and the others don’t get much of a role this time but it does work as the after story. It’s a bold approach for sure but when you think of this as the story taking place after the main story has concluded then it makes sense that most of the old characters would be completely written out. Their time in the sun has ended after all.

That said, we do get an alternate reality saga real quick with Kyou and Ryou. So of course Ryou has always liked Tomoya but was way too timid to actually say anything. Well, this time she does say something and he agrees to go out with her basically because he would agree to go out with any girl who worked up the courage to ask him out. That’s how it seems to be at least given how many alternate paths there are. Thing is…he quickly realizes that he actually likes her twin sister Kyou more which makes things complicated.

Kyou’s always liked Tomoya as well but tries to bury these feelings. Having her twin sister going out with him just makes it even harder to hide. Ultimately she wins out and Ryou gets wrecked again but I feel like having both of these involved in the same alternate path made things a little extra tragic. It would have been better if either Ryou got her own alternate universe episode or didn’t do much here. It just makes Tomoya look bad for jumping around so quickly.

Additionally Kyou owed it to her sister not to make a move in that case. Teasing Tomoya on the bench and messing with him was really just a way to get him to fall for her even if she wouldn’t admit it. It’s only natural that she would defeat Ryou once she got serious because she’s more outgoing and attractive while also being able to hold a normal conversation with Tomoya way more than Ryou ever could. But it’s like the bro code, you have to have the sister code as well where you won’t just steal the man like that.

The instant it happened everything was all over because if Tomoya stayed with Ryou then she’d know it was out of pity so the relationship was destroyed right off the bat. This at least allowed them to get more of a role in the season though. Kyou appears a bit anyway as a teacher in the future but Ryou mainly vanishes. Fuuko also appears a bit in the future but her role is really small and I wouldn’t say that it’s too pivotal. It was mostly just a reason to have her around but I miss her supernatural abilities as a ghost. Surprisingly the ghost never got to appear again but I guess that’s because she was back in the world of the living.

We get a mini arc for Misae who is sort of the dorm mother for a bunch of the kids. She was around a bit in season 1 as well so I suppose this was her chance to finally get some real development. It’s a pretty emotional arc that even has some supernatural elements to it. Basically she likes one guy who already has a boyfriend and then a magic guy named Katsuki likes her but it’s hard for him to confess now since Misae was already crushed.

As you can see this is one of those very dramatic arcs. I do think getting together with Katsuki wouldn’t have really worked because the rebound would have been way too quick there. You need time to get over the first love since things didn’t really work out there. It’s interesting to know more about her past but at the end of the day it’s not like she ever ends up being a main character. Think of it as extra world building. Katsuki did the right thing in not confessing initially though. I would defend that as there are times where you shouldn’t “Shoot your shot” and confessing right after someone had a big break up or was rejected is certainly one of those times.

Yukine gets a mini arc as well and if you don’t remember her that’s fine. Her role was eve smaller in season 1 but basically she is always in a small room in the school with some coffee. It turns out that she works as the resident nurse for a bunch of gangs in the area and patches them up whenever they get hurt. As a result everyone likes her because she doesn’t interfere in the fights. Still, her brother was the only one strong enough to stop the fighting entirely and things are getting dicey without him. This leads our hero Tomoya to have to jump in and try fighting.

There are some fun moments here especially the big moment where the brother seemingly appears. This one is less of an emotional arc I’d say and more of a quick action one. The fight is actually played totally straight and has a good amount of tension. It’s clear that Tomoya won’t be able t win with his busted arm but it’s always impressive just how long he lasts considering what he has to deal with. He does well in every sport and challenge even when he can only use one arm.
Now we enter the big part of the series which is the climax to Tomoya and Nagisa’s plot. Well, she is sick once again which is rough because that means that she will have to miss school once again which could prevent her from graduating. Her condition has always been a bit of a mystery as the doctors could not figure out exactly what was wrong with her. This naturally makes things rather tough on Tomoya who can’t possibly enjoy graduation without her. Also if she has to start a whole new year again then that means she will be all by herself this time. He also has to move on and get a job which is where Yoshino comes in handy.

I always thought Yoshino was a good guy and he really comes in handy when it counts here. The guy does his best to show Tomoya the ropes and has his back at every turn. It’s not every day that you find a good friend like that. Yoshino’s speeches also may be a bit on the cheesy side but he does mean every word of them. I was glad that Tomoya never laughed at them because he does owe this guy a lot.

Akio and Sanae are fun supporting characters here as always. Sanae definitely likes to have fun and act as one of the kids along with the main characters. She’s good at alternating between being a motherly figure and a friend and helps quite a lot of the characters in the show. She really came in clutch with helping Tomoya when he was down in the dumps during the show. He really had a rough stretch and during that period she kept going after him until she was able to get him into the clear. It’s not something most characters could have done.

Akio also helps out a lot too of course both verbally and economically. He wants Tomoya to know that he’s here for him and the message is definitely received. I’d say a good part of why Nagisa is able to remain so hopeful throughout everything going on is because she had such supportive parents. It just wouldn’t have been possible without them.

The show definitely goes farther in the timeline than you’d expect but it’s why around half of the show takes place after school. We get to see Tomoya out in the real world working a job and how each character has went on to pursue their dreams. It does mean that the show takes on a much more serious tone for those moments though. There isn’t a whole lot of comedy after the school part is over and things can even get rather dark. It’s why everything was riding on the ending which ultimately is what keeps the show afloat.

You are super invested in everything going on and it’s all emotional but of course that is also why a bad ending would really doom the whole thing. The animation is solid here as expected. I would say it maybe doesn’t feel quite as high budget as the first season which had some really stylish moments for the occasional fight scenes and Chun Li combos. This one has moments like that as well but they tend to be rare and not quite as flashy. Still, it all looks good enough to me. Then for the soundtrack you’ve got all of the classic tunes. The emotional songs definitely fit in with the scenes really well and help to really amp up the atmosphere. I’d definitely give the full soundtrack a thumbs up for sure.

Now I’m going to dive into the more spoilery aspects of the show so skip the next 5 paragraphs if you haven’t seen the show yet. After all with a big emotional show like this you don’t want to know any of the big events before they happen. It would soften the impact of every scene in a big way since you can only experience them once.

All right so here we go. Nagisa is unable to overcome her illness and ends up dying. It was definitely a real tragic moment because you really thought that she would get better this time. She does end up delivering her baby Ushio first though and asks Tomoya to watch out for him. Unfortunately Tomoya gets super depressed to the point where he can’t even interact with the baby and so for several years Nagisa’s parents take care of him instead. I have to say that this made Tomoya look really awful though. You can’t just shut down like that and he basically became his father even though he swore that he never would.

Well, eventually Sanae tricks Tomoya into spending time with his daughter Ushio and the two of them grow close. Tomoya finally reconnects with all of his old friends and becomes a good father…only for Ushio to get the same illness and die. So now Tomoya has lost everything. See, this is where the show would have immediately gone down the tubes for me if it ended like that. There would just be no coming back from this because it would all be way too mean spirited and empty. It would be like the whole adventure was a waste and it was a cruel twist of fate. Tomoya had a theory that Nagisa and Ushio’s lives were dependent on the town so it being changed was what destroyed them.
Well, that wasn’t quite it. It turns out that instead there is an Earth Prime of sorts with the robot and the girl. By sacrificing her life the girl is able to give everyone a fresh start and resets things to the happy timeline where everyone lives and is happily ever after. Every part from Nagisa dying onwards just didn’t happen. It’s a little rough for the robot since he wanted to have fun with her but in a way he is reincarnated to the human world too. It’s all a bit trippy there for sure bit I was a big fan of this one without a doubt. We needed a happy ending and it finally justified that whole plot so I was glad about it.

Otherwise that arc was quickly becoming a train wreck. Tomoya would have lost all my respect in ditching his daughter like that. It would have been such a horrible look for him. Meanwhile his father committed a crime and went to jail which I thought was unexpected but maybe it would at least remind Tomoya not to make the same mistakes. So seeing him go to the dark side anyway was just really off. Even though the timeline reset it still happened so I can’t forget that but at least he got a shot at a second chance.

Meanwhile Ushio was a good character. She had to live without her father for a very long time but she kept a positive attitude about the whole thing and didn’t hold it against Tomoya. She just rode the waves of life and kept it moving. We don’t get to see her too long since the series was nearly ending by the time she showed up but she made an impact in that time.

I didn’t really talk about Nagisa much but I’d say that she’s a good heroine. It’s certainly not her fault that she gets sick a lot and she tries to stay strong throughout all of the sad things happening to her. Having to repeat a year again for the third time just because she was sick probably felt really unfair. Then she does her best to work and support Tomoya during his tough job as well. She never complains and always tries to do the right thing so there’s nothing to really dislike here.

Meanwhile Tomoya definitely made more mistakes this time around. Even in season 1 he wasn’t perfect as I thought some of his pranks could be a bit on the mean side but at least that was more of a humor plot. Here he tends to make more serious mistakes as the show goes on, ones that are a whole lot harder to just wave away. To in the end I have to say that I didn’t like Tomoya, he erased most of the goodwill around his character.

At least I can say something for this show that I rarely say and it’s that the romance here was actually rather solid. At least for the main pairing since Tomoya and Nagisa got a lot of time to interact and build this romance up. It’s certainly way better than the usual rushed type of romances where you feel like it just happened out of nowhere. In context this one took months to develop and at this point they’ve known each other for well over a year. When a show that is part romance manages to execute the romance well you know that it’s going to be in good shape.

In a way the show benefits from not trying to squeeze in a bunch of side romances. That would ultimately just distract from the main one where you want as much development as possible. Since this is the after story we also don’t have to worry about any of the other heroines trying to make a move because at this point they have all accepted that Nagisa and Tomoya are together. So there’s no funny business. It’s just everyone being good supportive friends as the adventures go on. The show is also long enough where you feel like you’ve known the characters a long while and got to see them on their journey. Not all of the characters get a big conclusion but since it’s from Tomoya’s view it makes sense that he wouldn’t see them all complete their dreams. We do get quick glimpses to see where they are at though.
Overall, Clannad: After Story really lives up to its name as being the post game in a way. The characters get to go through their epilogues while you watch. It’s something you almost never see since usually the end of the story is just that…the end. It’s very rare that you get the cast back for a whole other season like this. Maybe a big movie or something but not a full show. In the end the first show still wins just because it is a lot more fun and the school setting just works better but if you saw the original show then you owe it to yourself to watch this one. Even if just to see how the whole robot plot ends since in season 1 it still felt rather pointless by the end. At least now in this season you really see why it was included.

Overall 6/10

The Slime Diaries: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime Review

Slime is one of those series I always mention as having improved greatly from the start to be one of the premiere light novel adaptions. Well this spinoff is more like a return to the old days. It’s more of a slice of life adventure about the cast hanging around the village and having fun which can absolutely be a fun angle to have on this. The only issue is that when the series isn’t focused on the action it always gets real tempted to just focus on fanservice instead and….well this one falls into that trap as well. The fanservice is pretty much a constant in every episode and so this one was a bit doomed from the start. It can still be a lot of fun but it’s certainly not a title you would recommend to someone to enhance their view on the main show.

As the title would suggest this series is about adventures that Rimuru has written down in his diary. During the rare times when the heroes aren’t defending themselves from another kingdom or fighting off demon lords they get to have a whole lot of parties. The village loves their parties and why not, they’re a great way to build up morale and get everyone excited. Quite a few of these episodes have some kind of a party to the point where it is almost a running gag. As someone who likes making a big deal out of just about any kind of event I can definitely get that.

So the show is completely revolving around how interesting the day to day life of the characters can be without the fights. Because there are no big fights here, this is all about just having fun around the village. Slime’s cast is pretty solid but I would say they got more of the good characters to the cast by season 2. This one doesn’t have Veldora as a main member yet or Diablo but Milim is here a lot and she’s always a real highlight in the show.

The show’s humor is typically fun too. You have Rimuru having to teach the monsters about Christmas and New Year’s which results in some fun scenes. The holidays probably do sound a bit odd to someone that’s never heard of them before but simplifying things to just say that it’s a big party works for the cast. Milim is also a lot of fun because she can end the whole kingdom with a punch and is thousands of years old but she still acts like a kid the whole time so Rimuru has to be careful how he talks to her about anything really. If she gets the wrong idea or gets upset then it can all be over for them.

Now as mentioned the fanservice is the main issue here. It feels like quite a few episodes through in the obligatory hot springs type moment. Shion’s outfit has never been the most practical one but this show certainly makes sure to jump in with the zoom ins from time to time. Every episode will have some iffy fanservice moments like that. I wouldn’t say the scenes are ever super egregious and the light hearted comedic nature of the show ensures that it never gets too serious or anything. It’s just the sheer frequency with which they happen that really bogs this one down. It’s always the low hanging fruit, the easy way to try and generate clicks but the show should have more confidence in its own humor and characters to not have to rely on this. Instead of being another advantage it just works against the show.

It’s also been a while, maybe ever since I saw a show that had both Christmas and New Year’s in a single season. So that was nice to see. As a slice of life I wouldn’t say that the show is able to keep up with the bigger titles like Kanon or Clannad though. Maybe in part it’s because the characters are more suited for action and aren’t built for comedy or maybe it’s just that the setting doesn’t work as much. I’ve thought about this and a lot of times the best slice of life casts and circumstances are in worlds that are more like real life. Of course you could make the case that it just makes sense statistically because a lot of them take place there. It’s hard to make such a sweeping generalization there either.

So at the end of the day it just comes down to writing and character dynamics. There are a lot of fun dynamics within the cast and Rimuru is a good main character so that makes for a lot of good humor. I do think the show would have absolutely have been able to hold its own well enough if it focused on the humor entirely. Probably not an award winning show or anything but it had enough pieces there.

The animation is decent. I wouldn’t say that it’s great or anything but it’s good enough and you can always tell what is going on. I wouldn’t say they’re trying to make this an S tier title with animation and you can certainly tell that but it’s still good. Part of the show is about seeing the seasons in the village and you can clearly see the differences the whole time so the animation succeeds there. The soundtrack is much more on the forgettable side though. There aren’t any big emotional or action tunes to really focus in on.

In a way there also isn’t a whole lot to talk about in this show compared to most since there isn’t as much of a plot here. So you can expect this show review to be shorter than the last few. As it is when a show is only around 12-13 episodes like this one then it’s always going to go fast. It works in this sense though because then the show doesn’t drag on. I also think they would have had a hard time thinking of more ideas after a bit because it’s not like there are any other holidays to grab. If the show went too much further in the timeline then you would be questioning how they are able to have this much time before the next attack.

I don’t think the show needs to worry about continuity and being in canon too much to be honest but it’s still something they were probably trying to keep in mind. I do think that a season 2 would benefit from taking place later in continuity because then you can have Veldora as a main character and he could have a lot of fun interactions with Milim. That would be a recipe for greatness right away. As it is Milim does a lot of the heavy lifting here already. Throw in the fun Veldora and then things will get even better. After all he’s one of the only characters who can hold his own against her in power so they’re able to have even conversations.

Plus he’s another immortal who acts rather young but I feel like he’d end up being a bit of a father figure to her. Shion and Milim have a bit of a rivalry going but it’s so one sided in terms of power level that it just doesn’t work nearly as well. It does help to show that Milim is still fairly nice on the inside. No matter how heated things get it’s not like she blows Shion up or anything which would be easy to do even accidentally with how powerful Milim is. It was nostalgic seeing the old Rimuru though. He gets teased for looking like a girl quite a bit here as a result though and his old design could seem like that at times so it’s not super surprising. I feel like this pretty much stopped once he got the cool black leather jacket so in a season 2 if it takes place late enough then Rimuru can probably look forward to the teasing ending.

Plus later on he ends up being strong enough where he is finally in Milim’s league so he doesn’t have to be quite as nervous either. I mean Rimuru is a bit nervous just due to his personality so he’ll still be panicking a whole lot but it’s a different kind of panic. The village idolizes him so much that you’d think it would have improved his confidence more though. I get that it can be a bit weird to have everyone making statues of you and everything but Rimuru needs to either embrace it or find a way to stop it. By meekly accepting it, that just means that nothing will be changing anytime soon.

It doesn’t go to his head though so at least I don’t really see the harm. It’s something for the village to unite around and it gives them hope. Rimuru directly saved most of their lives from futures that would have been way more dire after all so this is still an upgrade. The average townsfolk is living a near perfect life in the village protected by powerful fighters all around. Who wouldn’t want to live there? None of them take this for granted.

Overall, Slime Diaries is a reasonable show to pass the time by. The fanservice is what keeps me from giving this one a positive score and being able to recommend it though. It would be interesting to see this get a season 2 though and if they can build on the good aspects of the show to make it better. Imagine a jump in quality similar to the main Slime seasons 1 and 2? That would be great and also a fun coincidence. I also think there is an audience for this kind of a show as just a very calm slice of life title. You can watch it as something peaceful in the background or something to watch before bed. A show filled with good feels can be fun so I’ll be rooting for the series to surpass its limits.

Overall 5/10

Edward Scissorhands Review

Edward Scissorhands is a film that’s actually quite a bit different from my mental image of how the film would play out to be honest. I wasn’t expecting a horror per say but I was expecting something very dreary the whole time with a lot of dark lighting and jump scares. Okay….so I guess kind of a horror. Instead the film is like an odd slice of life taking place in a happy town. It’s maybe more of a surreal comedy. Either way I thought it had some good ideas but ultimately I wouldn’t say it was particularly good.

The film starts off by introducing us to Peg…actually it starts off by revealing that this is all a flashback first. That’s still one of the absolute worst story telling devices if you ask me. For one thing it guarantees that the person survives. That’s more of an issue with action titles compared to one like this but it can still be annoying. Additionally you’re always more engaged with the present than the past so automatically it makes you want to jump back to the present again instead of being stuck in the flashback. No matter how you slice it that just makes this a very questionable decision.

Back to the story though. Peg is a saleswoman so she goes around trying to sell products but everyone knows her already and nobody wants to buy anything. That’s when she heads to the creepy mansion…for the first time I guess? It seems like Edward has been here for a while so I guess she just chose not to go to the castle but she doesn’t seem scared or anything. Maybe the film mentioned she had moved in recently or something…but this actually makes less sense the more I think about it. Hmmmm……well she goes in there and meets Edward who as the title suggests has scissors for hands. She invites him to live with her since that seems tricky. The town like him at first but gradually you realize this will not stand because humanity is always really tough on any superhero/monster/creature in these kinds of things. No way it stays peaceful for long.

Right away I can tell you that my main issue with the film is really just that Edward constantly scarring and cutting himself always feels rather painful. It’s hard to look at the guy directly with all of the scars that he has. You just want to turn away and as he is a main character that’s not exactly an option here now is it? The movie does a good job of showing just how hard it would be to live like this though. Every single action you take now has to be thought about very carefully because a slight slip of the hand could cause serious injury. In an instant your very life can be changed and it’s not like he can take them off either.

In general Edward is also not a character who is used to the ways of the world and so he can come off as a bit naïve and new to everything at first. He has to be taught everything as if he was a kid and that’s usually not my favorite character type. If he was a little more sharp it would be more difficult for the characters to put him in tricky situations or gain the upper hand. There is a pretty solid twist involving his character though which was good. I thought that it landed rather well and if they ever want to do a sequel to this film it would certainly make things really easy. I would like him to have learned from this experience though and be a little more knowledgeable in general.

There’s one neighbor here who is desperate to get together with Edward but in general she seems to be desperate for anyone. Her very first scene is about trying to seduce the pipe guy but fortunately he stays strong…is how I interpret the scene tbh. We don’t see the climax of this. The scene of her trying to get Edward is certainly a bit painful particularly since it’s not like he even understands the concept of romance yet. In general all of the romance in this film is particularly weak for that reason. I don’t see how you can build a proper relationship when one of the characters doesn’t really know what is going on beyond the most basic part of the concept.

I do like the set designs though. The town looks fantastic with how colorful it is. Everything really stands out and it’s a perfect contrast to the dark castle which is as ominous as ever. Tim Burton is definitely good at maximizing the visuals or anything that he does. In a way he probably did too well on the parts that are hard to look at like the scars and all but otherwise he should still get full props on the town.

The main character in a way is Kim as she grows to know Edward and like him but I wouldn’t say that she was great. She’s another character who falls to peer pressure and allows her boyfriend to trick Edward and get him into trouble. She doesn’t realize the full scope of the plan at first but she still did know that she was helping to commit a crime and was getting Edward into trouble when he didn’t know any better. She took advantage of the fact that he would help her do anything and that wasn’t a good look.

Meanwhile Peg did well in bringing Edward into her home and doing her best to help him out. She worked hard on learning how to apply make-up to hide his scars and treated him normally from the start. If the rest of the town was like her then things would have gone well. Her husband Bill was also good and very nonchalant about the whole thing. Nothing could ever phase him and that’s what I liked about the guy. It would be very easy to panic at what’s going on but he just takes it all in stride.

I liked how in general all of the characters acted like this was actually a bit of a normal thing. It’s a really great break from the usual panic and all of that about how they’re in danger. Just see this as a positive and keep it moving. The movie has a lot of fun light hearted scenes as well like with Edward giving everyone and their pets a haircut. He is really great with those scissors and you would expect him to be since he has been using them his whole life. You still get a little anxious whenever he’s cutting the dog’s fur at such high speeds though. I feel like even if I knew he was an expert I wouldn’t be able to let him give my dog a haircut because I’d just be stressed out. Like the 1 in a million chance of something going wrong would happen to me.

Overall, Edward Scissorhands is a very unique film. I think it deserves a lot of credit for going in a different direction than you would expect. It is fun and also fairly ambitious. At the same time it’s not really for me. The scars just make it too hard to watch Edward in any of his scenes and I also thought the ending was a bit of a downer. It’s not a satisfying way to close things out with some characters looking awful and ultimately nobody stepping up. In a way no character looks good by the end and they all should take a massive part in the blame. Given that this is all a flashback we can assume that nothing changed in the present either which is really terrible when you think about it. Perhaps a sequel could lightly retcon some of that if it takes place a year or two later or something like that.

Overall 4/10

Metropolitan Review

Metropolitan is one of those films where characters mainly talk about nothing much and then the film ends. I’ve seen a few titles like that but in general they tend to be quite awful. Hannah and her Sisters is a classic example of a film like this that I’ve seen. So I can’t say that I had high hopes for this title but it’s actually better than I expected. I’d say in part because the characters are a little more interesting and some of the dialogue is actually decent. The climax is ironically one of the weakest parts of the film but on the whole I was entertained.

So the movie is about a group of teenagers who all hang out at an apartment and try to feel really fancy. They talk about very complex subjects with each other like politics and general warfare of social customs. Anything that sounds very intelligent like that is something they’ll talk about even if they don’t know what they are doing. It’s just what they’ve always done. One day Tom is invited into the clique by chance. This sort of thing isn’t really his idea of a fun time and he’s not quite as wealthy as they are but ultimately he can’t find it within himself to leave. In a way he’s actually having a whole lot of fun right now. Still this means he has entered the world of romantic drama and scandals so his life may be a bit more complicated now.

There is a general plot in that he likes a girl named Serena who is related to the group even though she has long since moved on. Then you have Audrey who likes Tom and Charlie likes Audrey. It’s a full circle thing here and so you can see how it gets complicated. But while that’s the general plot, this isn’t a film that’s super connected to the story or anything like that. For the most part it’s still about the general day to day operations of what’s going on here and the romance is on the back foot.

The climax involves one of the villains who was mentioned during the film and now Tom has to go and save the heroine (I won’t say who this is to keep up the suspense) but it’s really just a way to quickly have some action. It almost feels out of place and some characters really made a bunch of iffy moves in order to get into that scenario. I should mention that while the characters are interesting, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that any of them are likable. They all succumb easily to peer pressure and just don’t seem like good influences to have around.

Starting off with Tom, in general he has some reasonable views. I’m not much of a party person myself so going to these events where you just sit and talk would have me bored to tears. I can do festive parties where you’re running around and eating. Those are a lot of fun while you’re eating at least but parties with no food? Nah not my cup of tea. Now the problem though is that Tom actually does enjoy them and he’s just jealous. Sure he denies this a whole lot but that’s what it comes down to and Nick calls him out on this at one point. Tom is so busy looking down on himself and throwing a pity party that he doesn’t realize nobody really cares.

It’s one of those things that you have to remind yourself of which is that you aren’t the main character of everyone’s story. If you make a mistake or fall down you may think everyone is watching you but really they’re still just continuing along with their lives. Once Tom gets this into perspective he starts to enjoy himself more. He’s the kind of guy who has a lot of strong views on books that he’s never read and still keeps on going after Serena even when it’s clear that she’s not interested in him and just generally enjoys being in a lot of relationships. I don’t think that means he has to rebound with Audrey of course, if he’s not interested in her then he’s not but my issue is with him still going after Serena the whole time.

Then you have Nick who is probably the best of the main characters. Yes he’s a bit more arrogant and dare I say even a bit rude but the guy knows what he likes and doesn’t put up as much of a front as the others. He just has a good time all the way through and lives his life. I would argue that while most of the characters are worried about their image or fitting in, he just actually is that way. The only thing he denies is how he’s jealous of the main antagonist when he is to an extent but the guy also does seem like he is a creep so I can see why Nick wants to take him down.

Audrey is a little too shy which hurts her character for me. Part of the issue here is that she likes Tom but is of course too shy to tell him herself. So she keeps this in but then also gets super upset when he doesn’t notice her or makes a pass on another girl (Serena). I don’t think she really had much reason to be super upset at him. She could be upset at herself for not making a move but it’s not like she and Tom were actually together so it’s too early to be jealous. Not saying it’s easy to have 100% control of your emotions or anything like that but it’s still not a great look. She can be upset at him for just ditching her though, that was really uncalled for. Then she makes a very questionable decision that could have easily ended badly for her later on.

She seems like a decent person but one without a strong will so it’s easy to influence her. Then there is Serena but there isn’t a whole lot to say about her. She’s very outgoing and can be a bit manipulative with how many pen pals she wrote too who all thought that they were together with her. I guess you could just say that they were gullible which is absolutely valid but at the same time she’s just not a very nice person. It’s a shame that Tom couldn’t just move on himself.

Finally there is Charlie who is a fun character. He likes to be a doomer about everything and is always talking about how their entire generation is destined to fall to ruins. He refuses to accept any examples or evidence to the contrary. The guy constantly goes on speeches about everything and it’s why he’s fun. I liked the dialogue in the movie thanks in no small part to his contributions. Charlie always had something to say about everything and they were actual thoughts so I could appreciate that. He had a way of tying things together that worked and even if you didn’t agree with anything that he said, I didn’t mind listening to the speeches.

That’s where this film had an advantage over most which is that the dialogue was actually interesting as it happened. Most of it is still fluff and everyone outbluffing themselves with crazy theories but they didn’t drag on or feel pointless at the time. I could do without the romance and of course the characters are annoying but they’re annoying in a way that’s fun to watch as opposed to shaking your head the whole time.

Overall, This would be a hard film to recommend to anyone because it’s hard to make a sales pitch for it. I’m not really sure how I’d even market this film to people. That said, I did think it was surprisingly a good movie and one that I could see again. It embraces the fact that this film isn’t really about much at all. If you could do a movie like this without the drama, maybe a group of adults who get together then it would probably be very good. Either way, it’s a bit of a strange film in the sense that there isn’t much of a focus but it works. I wouldn’t recommend other filmmakers to try and replicate this title though because it seems hard to pull off.

Overall 6/10

Mrs. Santa Claus Review

Santa Claus gets a lot of films so it’s about time that Mrs. Santa Claus gets something too right? This makes for a fun film even if it is a bit uneventful. Santa doesn’t look great here and the kids are annoying but we do get a standout villain that’s actually rather impressive. When you have a villain that can take on the reindeer then you know things are going to get good. There are a few scenes in the film that make you think things are about to get epic but they tend to be false alarms.

The movie starts with Santa ignoring Mrs. Claus as she tries to help him out by making hot chocolate and creating a whole new path across the world. He just can’t be bothered so she figures she’ll travel the world to prove that it works. Unfortunately her reindeer crash and while they are being healed by a doctor she is trapped in New York. Well she figures that at least she can help out with the working conditions for the children and even meets up with a lady named Sadie who is protesting for women’s rights. There is only one man who can stand in Mrs. Claus’s way now and that’s Mr. Tavish. He is the owner of the largest toy company in New York and what he says goes. Can she defeat him?

So what makes Mr. Tavish special is that he can talk back to anyone. When Mrs. Claus tries to make a plan like having the children go on strike or not working hard then he immediately counters by punishing them with not being allowed to leave work early. He’s always one step ahead of her and that’s crazy because usually she is on top of things. There’s even a scene in the climax where he takes over the stables and basically prevented the reindeer from being used. Sure, Rudolph wasn’t around but he still basically stalemated all of them which is quite impressive. Ultimately the powers of friendship were what deterred him but physically nobody was about to stop this guy. That’s why I say that he was real impressive.

Meanwhile Sadie did a good job of petitioning and protesting all by herself for ages until Mrs. Claus showed up. Sadie was determined and wasn’t about to let anyone get in her way. That is absolutely the kind of dedication that you want to see from any character. It was really a credit to her character and she did a good job. It only makes the other characters look bad in how literally nobody was around to support her. You’d think that at least someone else would have taken a risk. Every great movement starts with one person though and Sadie can be proud to say that she was that person this time.

As for Mrs. Claus, I thought she was a solid character. She can be a bit naïve at times as New York takes her by surprise at first. I suppose everyone at the North Pole are rather nice and even tempered so she wasn’t ready for all the big antagonists here. That said, even if it takes her a while to get past this, ultimately she does well. She also gets points for bravery in going on the trip by herself when Santa was too busy with his work. She also couldn’t have predicted that some of the kids would be petty traitors who were too busy looking after themselves to help out with her plans. A lot of times these plans only work when everyone bands together and that was not the case here.

Santa looks bad here though. He seriously could have heard Mrs. Claus out about her plan instead of staying buried in the books. Then apparently he didn’t realize she was missing for several days? No that’s a really bad look for the guy and it was only when the hot chocolate tasted bad that he noticed. I liked when he started walking over to the elf as if to threaten him but sadly that scene wasn’t handled well as he came off as more confused and unsure of himself than threatening. That could have been a really hype scene otherwise but it just wasn’t to be.

This film is also part musical but none of the songs really land. They’re all old but also rather slow paced. A lot of times the songs in non-musical films tend to beat the musical ones and this continues along here as well. I wouldn’t say that any of them are bad or anything like that but they aren’t quite holding their own here. They don’t enhance the film and it has to succeed in spite of them rather than because of them which is a crucial difference. Also we missed an easy lay-up to see Mrs. Santa Claus learn about pizza. I get that she was in a poor area so that might have been tough and maybe pizza wasn’t even around yet in which case I would cut the film some slack but that would have been cool. It’s a staple of New York after all. You would almost forget that the film is in New York considering there aren’t any real landmarks after the Statue of Liberty. I guess that’s how old it is since usually I can recognize it right out of the jump.

Overall, Mrs. Santa Claus is a good movie. I would have liked it to have been a little more daring with lots of iconic moments all the way through though. Maybe have her defeat the villain at the end instead of talking to him or have Santa appear in a rage mode and take the guy down. I could have done without the songs too. It’s not a bad film to watch just since it’s rare to see Mrs. Santa Claus around and there’s nothing really negative to say about the film. It’s short too so it’s over quickly but I would just say that we haven’t yet seen the definitive Mrs. Santa Claus film yet. One day we will get one and we will know it when we see it.

Overall 6/10

Tenth Avenue Angel Review

Tenth Avenue Angel is a low key slice of life drama with characters having to make some hard decisions in the end. I did have some issues with the film but ultimately it is a fun film. It’s missing the extra step to go to the next level but it’s also so short that it’s over in the blink of an eye. If you’re looking for a fairly light hearted adventure then you should have a good time here but it’s also possible that you’ll find the main character to be a little too naïve which will end up hurting the whole experience for you.

The movie starts with Flavia excited because her uncle Steve is finally back from his long trip around the world. It turns out that he has actually been in prison all these years but her family convinced her that he was on a trip because they figured she couldn’t handle it. Steve wants them all to keep this deception up as well. It’s been tough getting back into the swing of things though and Steve figures that he should leave town to get a fresh start. He’ll then come back to marry Susan when he’s very successful but she says she might not be around when he’s back. Flavia wants Steve to stay but isn’t sure how to do it. Is there any way to stop this?

Right off the bat Steve comes across as an incredibly selfish character. Susan has been waiting for him all this time and he’s just going to run off? Just like that? It’s a really poor decision on his part and I can see why she said that she may not be around. There’s no guarantee that he would return and he might find someone else there. The fact that he refuses to bring her along because he says it would hurt his pride is an awful reason. He’s really not thinking about her at all so this romance is not going to work out at all.

The whole plot did irreparable damage to Steve’s character. Then additionally he gets tempted back into crime later which was really bad. He is not the kind of guy that is easy to root for and so automatically you can tell that I was not on board with the romance. Then with Susan there is another guy who likes her and she starts to agree to marry him. Basically she is ready to rebound immediately if Steve actually does leave which also isn’t a good sign. In this case she needs to make a decision and wait for Steve or pick someone else but she can’t have this whole set up of choosing based on if he stays or not. She does let the guy know that she doesn’t love him but he doesn’t care and says he will be fine with that. Great….

Then Flavia’s mother Helen is a little too quick to tell Flavia crazy lies to get her to calm down. I always thought it’s never a good idea to lie to kids even about simple things like Santa Claus. Why invent fake ideas for them instead of breaking the truth in a gentle way? It would have been so much better if they told Flavia that Steve was in jail because instead as the only person who doesn’t know the truth, that could potentially put Flavia in a really awkward position. They really didn’t think about that much but they should have. The lies catch up to them eventually and it’s not a good look for Helen.

Flavia’s father Joe is barely even in the movie so it’s hard to say much about the guy. Half the time you even forget he exists. Then there is Flavia herself who is way too gullible. She believes everything like about how mice turn to cash. That’s not something that she should fall for so easily and she apparently would believe everything all the time. It’s played off as tragic since she really trusted her mother so this was a big blow but she should have had a little more common sense. She’s young but she’s not That young to be getting fooled like this.

Flavia is old enough to know how to roller skate and even handle the newsstand for her friend Mac. She just shouldn’t be getting tricked all the time like this and it can be a bit annoying. At some points she wants everyone to treat her like a mature adult but then these things happen and you can really tell that she is not ready for it. Her friend Mac is good though. In fact I’d say that he is the only really good character here. He’s blind but he doesn’t let that stop him from doing a good job selling newspapers. It’s really quite admirable how hard Mac works at this.

He has been grinding out the tough hours and doing his best day in and day out. Rain or not, he’s out there selling the papers. He’s also quick on the uptake and is generally a good guy. He does his best and that’s really all there is to it. The other characters could learn a thing or two from this guy. He even bought Flavia her favorite pair of roller skates for her birthday. It was probably the funniest scene in the film as everyone got her the same thing but this time she was quite quick on the uptake and properly thanked everyone. A gift is a gift so I think you should always be gracious about it. Even if it’s not exactly what you wanted, someone worked hard to get it.

Overall, The writing is good and the film is fun but what holds it back are the characters. A good cast goes a long way and these characters were mainly just unreasonable. It means that there aren’t a lot of great dynamics here and the romance is sub par at best. Even by the end Flavia is just not smart enough and I’m not sure that the moral at the end was the best one since it’s sort of trying to give the stories a bit of credit so she’ll feel better. I would have preferred Flavia come to terms with the stories not being real but learning the reasons behind the stories and still being grateful to her mother. That would have been a whole lot more satisfying.

Overall 6/10

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

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

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

Detective Conan: Zero’s Tea Time Review

Zero’s Tea Time was a fun series. It’s very much a slice of life but one with a fun main character and is really goes all in with how over the top Zero is. He’s the world’s greatest police officer, detective, double agent, evil agent, soccer player, boxer, dog walker…and now….Coffee shop assistant! The series is fairly short with 60 chapters but since it ended with a disclaimer that it could continue with a part 2, hopefully that happens soon. There isn’t much of a plot here so don’t go in expecting anything fancy though.

The series starts up with introducing us to Zero as the man with 3 faces. By day he works at Azusa’s coffee shop where he helps to serve the food and drinks while also coming up with new recipes and making sure that everything is optimized. On his off days he works as a detective’s assistant to the great sleeping Moore where he handles difficult cases and provides great insight! Finally he is also a deadly assassin working for the Black Organization and pulling off countless crimes! So the man is very busy and this series focuses on his time as a cook. Of course what some characters don’t know is that he’s also a police officer working to make Japan as safe as possible.

Of course, if you’re far enough in the main Detective Conan series you’ll know that some of his tasks above aren’t quite as they would appear. Zero is a very complex character and easily the best part of the Detective Conan series. The man is amazing at keeping everyone off balance and always displaying a new side of him. He’s a natural talent at just about every skill that he has ever tried to learn and every profession that he has worked on. He’s the ultimate Gary Stu you could say and I like that the series just embraces it.

In fact, Zero’s Tea Time regularly pokes fun at this. Need someone for a soccer game? Zero’s never played before but he’ll win you the match. Need someone to find a new recipe that could use 600 pounds of Pumpkin? Zero’s got that handled too! He even adopts a dog and quickly teaches him a lot of cool tricks and they become best friends. Every chapter is Zero succeeding at something and amazing everyone around him. While that could get repetitive if you didn’t like the character, Zero is so much fun that it works.

Occasionally he’ll even troll people by intentionally not doing amazing at something but later in the chapter there will be a life or death moment where he has to throw away the façade. This happens once with Soccer where he only plays above average in the match but when a kid is trapped in a burning building Zero is able to make an impossible shot with the ball in order to save her. Things like that just happen on the regular for him. He’s even great at jump rope and break dancing.

That’s really where the humor lies in the series. So you need to be able to find it funny for this to work but fortunately it is very funny. I found all of these scenes to be super enjoyable for example. It’s just how humble Zero is about all of this. He makes it look easy and then acts nonchalant about it while also building everyone up around him. He’s just a super nice guy and it’s why nobody would even think to suspect that he may have any criminal ties.

The main cast in the series is rather small as a result. Aside from Zero you have Azusa who is of course the main person at the shop. Often she will ask Zero for help with things like how to get rid of a permanent stain or what food they could use to spice up sales. Often times Zero will just solve the issue but sometimes he’ll pretend not to know the answer so that he can slowly guide her to it. That’s always very considerate of him so I can appreciate that. She even tries to do some detective deductions of her own which she is fairly decent at but always fails when she tried to decipher Zero. The guy is just too good at being subtle and sneaky.

Of course they get along really well as the adventures go on and while he is a temporary employee, she has to come to terms with the fact that he might leave at some point. Clearly that would be bad for the shop since his mere presence massively boosts sales since everyone wants to hang out with him but he’s also just so good at the job that it would be a shame to lose him. The series doesn’t delve into this much aside from a chapter though because the series is more about having fun than thinking of the potential sad moments down the line.

The only other supporting character here would be Yuya who is Zero’s partner on the police force. This guy isn’t great on his job so he often needs Zero to bail him out of situations time and time again. He means well though so I like Yuya. It can’t be easy working alongside a literal genius who succeeds at everything in life. That’s a huge challenge for anybody. There are other characters who are around like some kids who ask Zero for help from time to time but for the most part the characters are all oneshots. Then you also have Zero’s dog who is fun to have around. In most cases you get worried that something might happen to the dog but that’s not a factor in this series. So then you’re really just able to enjoy him.

The biggest reason to read the series is really to just page through a very calming title. Think of this like Yotsuba or a title like that but with a much better character and still aimed at the grown-ups. It’s the ultimate happy title where nothing can go wrong and all the stories have a happy ending. You don’t even need to read the main series to understand this one since it’s very new reader friendly. I’m talking lots of exposition and a full chapter to catch you up on Zero’s chapter. From there, the main series doesn’t really matter and you can follow along with ease.

The art is also really good here. Granted, it’s not like the series has to try too hard since there aren’t a lot of big action scenes or anything but it’s all really clear so you can easily follow along with the action moments. The character models are on point and the layout is done well. It would defeat the purpose of being a calm series if the artwork was hard to read right? So fortunately the series didn’t miss on the easy layup there.

Although because there isn’t much of a plot, there also isn’t much else to say in this review. Usually for a series like this I would expect to reach 2000 words easily but this review won’t go anywhere near that. Look, you either like this kind of series and its premise or you don’t. If you can appreciate Zero just having fun and politely styling on everyone as he ensures that the town is as happy as possible, then you’ll like the series. It’s fun to imagine being in a neighborhood where you have a true jack of all trades like this watching over you. If you need some more action and excitement then you’ll probably want to check out the main series instead which still does have Zero so you’ll get to see him appear.

Overall, Zero’s Tea Time is a fun series. With a title like this you know right off the bat that it’s more of a slice of life type. There may not be much in here to really discuss or that will be thought provoking but not every series has to be like that. This one’s just a nice comfort title that you can read at any time and have a blast with. I’d say that this is the definitive slice of life title. It’s not part comedy, not part romance, and not part anything else. It’s strictly a slice of life with every chapter being about something super basic and yet it works out. There aren’t many titles that would have the writing or characters strong enough to pull it off but I suppose that’s just another one of Zero’s talents at work.

Overall 7/10