Wednesday Writings: “Memory of a Lake”

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Listening to: All’s Well – Jeremy Soule (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion OST)

MEMORY OF A LAKE

There’s a lake in the woods that I loved to visit when I was younger. I don’t remember exactly where it was, or exactly when I went, but I do remember the time spent there, and how each day seemed more enjoyable than the last.

I remember walking barefoot with my siblings along the narrow strip of sand at the water’s edge, looking for turtles and frogs, or perhaps oddly shaped pieces of wood, washed clean of their bark by the water. I remember picking up one of the longer pieces from the water’s edge, waving it like a sword, splashing my siblings with the trailing droplets of water. Continue reading

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Review: Overlord

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Listening to: Clattanoia – O x T (Overlord Opening)

This review is free of major spoilers, in the interests of being helpful to those who are considering watching the show in question.

“Please bestow your orders upon us, Supreme One. We offer our complete loyalty to you.”

To the most casual observer, Overlord might appear to be derivative. It shares a basic premise with Sword Art Online: a protagonist trapped inside a video game, and the adventures that they have as they attempt to navigate the world. However, the two series could not be more different, both in tone and the way that the premise is carried out. As for how that makes a difference… well, wait and see.

Overlord Screencap 6

Overlord opens with the announcement that the servers of the popular Dive-MMORPG, Yggdrasil Online, will be shutting down. Momonga, the leader of the guild Ainz Ooal Gown, decides to hold a vigil of sorts, staying online until the servers are shut down at midnight. When midnight passes, however, Momonga finds himself still in the Tomb of Nazarick–his guild’s headquarters. What’s more, the NPC guardians that his guild trained are suddenly showing a lot more personality than programs usually do.

Momonga decides to make the best of things, taking on the persona of the Overlord that all of the guardians expect him to be. In the meantime, he tries to find out as much as he can about how the world has changed, and perhaps if other players from Yggdrasil found their way inside the new world as well. Continue reading

Review: Sky Wizards Academy

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Listening to: D.O.B. – Iori Nomizu (Sky Wizards Academy OP)

This review is free of major spoilers, in the interests of being helpful to those who are considering watching the show in question.

“I’ve been assigned to be your instructor, fireteam E601.”

Well, this was a difficult review to write. It took about five tries to get together the motivation to do a write-up for this. If you happen to be wondering “was it really that bad?” allow me to answer you in a word: YES. It was really that bad. But before we get into the whys and hows, I may as well follow my traditional format and give it a bit of outlining.

SWA Screencap 2

Humanity has withdrawn to flying cities to escape the threat of the Devil Beetles overtaking the surface. In order to ensure that these sanctuaries are not also overrun, they train an elite force of Sky Wizards for their defense.

Kanata Age, formerly an adored member of one of the elite fireteams of Sky Wizards, is now reviled as a “traitor.” One of his former comrades arranges for him to receive a teaching job in the Academy as a way to redeem himself. He is assigned to the notoriously unskilled Fireteam E601 as instructor. Unfortunately, he doesn’t exactly make the best first impression. Continue reading

Wednesday Writings: “The Last Advance”

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Listening to: Pray for Victory – Yoshito Hirano (Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn OST)

THE LAST ADVANCE

The High King Caldemarion lay dead upon the field, his forces in disarray. The once-proud hosts of Caldemar and the Empire now sought only to retreat. Flames burned across the plains, scars of war magic flung about by both sides.

Crown Princess Katarine—now the uncrowned queen—rode with what was left of her guards through the field. Her armor was grimed with smoke, her sword red in her hand and her arms bloody to the elbow, yet still it was not enough. They were being pushed back. They had lost the battle, lost the war, lost the throne.

Hoof-beats sounded, and two horses pounded out of the smoke ahead. Their riders wore the white coats of Imperial Knights, though they were barely recognizable as such through the filth of battle. One of the horses was doubly laden: a knight held one of his comrades in the saddle in front of him, the other man’s form hanging limply. The Imperials, seeing Katarine’s banner, pulled to a halt, raggedly saluting. “Lady Caldemarion, dire news!”

Katarine’s gauntleted hand pushed her visor open, letting the knights see her face: stark and severe, her blonde hair dark with sweat. “Out with it.” Continue reading

Review: The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan

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Listening to: Furefure Mirai – Hokkō Bungei-bu Onagokai (The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan OP)

This review is free of major spoilers, in the interests of being helpful to those who are considering watching the show in question.

Yuki Opening

“This is the story of a somewhat shy, bookish girl.”

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan (hereafter referred to as “Nagato” for the sake of convenience) is the latest spin-off of the Haruhi Suzumiya franchise (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which I’ll call “Melancholy,” and The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, which I’ll call “Disappearance,” are the other two animated features). As far as the franchise goes, it’s a bit of an oddball–rather ironic, seeing as it’s the only installment of the animated canon that doesn’t center around aliens, time travelers, espers, and other supernatural elements. This review is somewhat late in coming–the original airing finished in mid-July, but as a fan of Crispin Freeman and Michelle Ruff, I waited for the dub to complete before my viewing.

Nagato Screencap 1

In contrast to its predecessors, Nagato is mainly a slice-of-life romantic comedy, focusing around the members of the North High Literary Club. Yuki Nagato, the heroine and president of the Literary Club, has a crush on her best friend Kyon, but is too shy to admit it. Matters between them are further complicated when Haruhi Suzumiya, an energetic and rather domineering student from East High, decides to appoint herself to the Literary Club as well.

Throughout the series, the Literary Club embarks on a series of adventures, from a Christmas party to a vacation in the mountains. As time goes on, Yuki begins to examine her feelings for Kyon more and more, and their friends take notice of it as well. Continue reading

Review: GATE

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Listening to: GATE~それは暁のように~ – Akeboshi Rockets (GATE OP)

This review is free of major spoilers, in the interests of being helpful to those who are considering watching the show in question.

“If you asked me which I’d choose–my job or my hobby–my hobby takes priority.”

I didn’t pick up GATE until just after its final episode aired, but when I began watching it, I ended up sprinting through every single episode and coming to the end within three days. Accordingly, I can’t really speak for the pacing of the show, but… well, it was one wild ride, and one that was definitely worth the time.

GATE Screencap 1

The story kicks off when the Ginza district of Tokyo is attacked by an otherworldly army, led by dragon-mounted knights and men in legion-style armor. Itami Youji, an off-duty lieutenant of the Japanese Self-Defense Force, helps to coordinate the evacuation of Ginza before the remainder of the JSDF shows up to push the enemy back. For this, he is promoted to First Lieutenant. Three months later, when the JSDF enters the Gate to secure a foothold in the so-called “Special Region,” Itami is put in charge of a recon unit with the purpose of communicating with the locals.

Itami isn’t terribly happy about his promotion–after all, according to Itami himself, his job takes second priority to his otaku lifestyle. However, he decides to make the best of it, and as the occupation of the far side of the Gate goes on, he comes to be known as a hero, both to the Japanese and the people of the Special Region. Continue reading

Wednesday Writings: “Flowers”

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Listening to: Final Cue – Jeremy Zuckerman (The Legend of Korra OST)

FLOWERS

It was like a slow descent through water–gradually sinking further and further downward. The sensation was a familiar one to Korra: when she had created the spirit portal, she and Kuvira had sunk down with the same slow, deliberate motion.

“Are we… dead?” Kuvira had haltingly asked, looking around with wild eyes. Korra had known better. Even if she hadn’t recognized the Spirit World, she would have known. The dead didn’t feel as much exhaustion as she had in that moment. It was finally over. Continue reading

Review: Chaos Dragon

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Listening to: ISOtone – Natsumi Kon (Chaos Dragon OP)

This review is free of major spoilers, in the interests of being helpful to those who are considering watching the show in question.

I’ve decided which friend to kill… and in turn, what is to be protected.”

Owing to the sheer number of anime that I eventually picked up over the course of this season (and, thusly, the greater number of reviews to be written), I’ve decided to stray from my normal updating schedule a bit so that I can finish reviews earlier and be able to write about a greater variety of subjects. Today’s review is on Chaos Dragon, one of the best 12-episode Japanese animated television shows based on a tabletop game that aired during the Summer 2015 anime season.

Chaos Dragon Screencap 1

The island kingdom of Nil Kamui has its fair share of problems: the covetous nation of Kouran overrunning the west, their supposed ally Donatia occupying the east, and Nil Kamui’s guardian deity–Red Dragon–driven insane and laying waste to the center. In the interest of preserving the island’s resources, the three factions strike a temporary truce to form a party known as the Red Dragon Expediition–an organization with the sole purpose of putting down the mad god and stopping its rampage.

Ibuki, the last surviving descendant of the royal line of Nil Kamui, is chosen to represent his people in the Red Dragon expedition. However, the other members of the party have plans of their own: for both Red Dragon, and Ibuki himself. When the mad god imbues Ibuki with a portion of its power, the fate of the expedition–and the kingdom–become more and more uncertain. Continue reading

Review: Rokka ~Braves of the Six Flowers~

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Listening to: Cry for the Truth – MICHI (Rokka no Yuusha OP)

This review is free of major spoilers, in the interests of being helpful to those who are considering watching the show in question.

“It is always six that are chosen. And for that reason, they are called the Braves of the Six Flowers.”

Sometimes, I don’t need anything more than the premise of an anime to choose to watch it. I was onboard with Rokka from the moment the episode started. Everything that happened afterward was just icing on the cake.

Rokka no Yuusha Screencap 1

Opening in the Mesoamerican-inspired kingdom of Piena, Rokka tells the story of six heroes–the titular Braves–who have been chosen by fate to save the world from the fiends who threaten to destroy it. Upon being chosen, each of the Braves is marked with a crest of six petals, proving their identity. This is a recurring cycle–over and over, the Demon God awakens, and in turn the Braves arise to return him to slumber.

The protagonist is Adlet Mayer, the self-proclaimed “strongest man in the world.” Determined to be chosen as one of the Braves when the time comes, he has trained his entire life to be deemed worthy. When the time comes and he receives the crest, he sets off alongside Nachetanya, the princess of Piena, to join the other heroes and meet the Demon God in battle. However, when the heroes gather, they begin to suspect that there is more to the choosing than meets the eye, and not all is well… Continue reading

Wednesday Writings: “Stitching”

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Listening to: “We should turn in for the night” – Hiroki Morishita (Fire Emblem: Awakening OST)

STITCHING

Lyon woke up to the sound of rustling from the other side of his room and slowly opened his eyes. Glancing over at the corner, he saw a dark-haired figure sitting in his chair, one arm crossed over their chest to hold the other. The moonlight through the window fell on his open sewing kit on the floor nearby. He cleared his throat meaningfully.

The intruder started guiltily, looking up, and he recognized Vera’s face. She smiled disarmingly. “Evening.”

“…evening,” said Lyon.

There was a long pause.

“Why are you in my room?”

Continue reading