Anime Time! 3 Anime Shows I Watched Recently (Mini Reviews)

Something a bit different to my usual today. Lately I’ve been looking into new jobs and education prospects. I’m doing a lot of it, trying to figure out what work I want to do in life and just trying to better myself in general. It’s taking a lot of my time and between that, work and average daily tasks, I’m not in the mood to game. Nothing intensive anyway. Bit of Smash Bros here and there but lately in my down time I just want to watch rather than play. Anime has been my big filler there and so today I want to talk about 3 anime shows I’ve watched over the past few months. Rather than talking about gaming, something that I’ve been neglecting. I won’t be getting into major spoilers but basic story beats and plot elements will be spoken about.

Mob Psycho 100 Seasons 1+2

Mob Psycho 100

I decided to try this after starting One Punch Man season 2 and finding it’s animation very lacking compared to the past season. I knew Mob Psycho 100 was by the same writer and captured the similar feel of One Punch Man, a blend of comedy, action and a story. What I wasn’t expecting, was for Mob Psycho 100 to not only surpass One Punch Man, in my view, but for it to earn a spot in my top 5 anime shows. I was floored by how good this show is. Not just in terms of animation, which at times is stunning, but in the characters themselves. I’m not ashamed to say that there were times where I was getting glassy eyed when certain characters interacted with or supported the main character. This show had the capacity to have me laughing my bum off one minute and then feeling an immense sense of union and comradery the next. Before I continue to swoon over this show in more depth, I should explain the plot.

Shigeo or Mob as he is known to some friends, is a human with psychic abilities. He seems unique in this world at first but as time progresses in the show, the more and more esper’s start revealing themselves and ghosts start cropping up. In his day to day life he’s been told by family that he needs to limit his psychic usage so that he can be like everyone else. From a young age he seeks the help of a local esper named Reigen who runs his own psychic consultation business. Reigen actually has no psychic abilities whatsoever but is a confident conman, skilled at taking desperate people’s money in exchange for ridding them of their spectral problems as a self proclaimed psychic master. This is where Mob comes in handy and a place for him to use his psychic talents, who believes in Reigen’s abilities and dutifully follows his orders as his business apprentice. That is the core concept of this show. Most episodes are the duo’s business call outs but there are big overarching story line’s that take the show in a more serious and intense direction. The big appeal of this show, for me anyway, is Mob himself. Due to subduing his psychic abilities, it has allowed Shigeo to blend in with regular school life but has also helped to dull his emotions in the process, as he is unable to use his natural talents. This process has turned him into a bit of a loner and one that is unable to feel like a regular student. Because of this, Mob has difficulty with making friends and living a regular day to life.

Over the 2 seasons Mob’s life changes as new people enter his life, some friends and some enemies. What I love about this show is how Mob develops as a character when surrounded by these people in his life. It really is something amazing and his development is one of the most natural that I’ve seen in any media source. For a character that initially lacks a plethora of emotions, the show has huge emotional weight at times. This is aided by the supporting cast of characters who I honestly can’t find a weak link with. Each character adds something new to the show and the plot elements they bring never failed to amuse or enrapture me. Reigen especially deserves a mention. My favourite character of the show and the one who gave me the most belly laughs. I’m a sucker for scam artists in funny shows or films and Reigen is one of the absolute scammiest of scam artists. Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls is one of my favourite animated characters of all time and if you like Grunkle Stan, you’ll love Reigen. He’s the embodiment of a man in a world he doesn’t understand but his sheer attitude towards it is all he requires. His assortment of ‘special’ moves will always get a laugh out of me too. Also, the show has 2 of the best OP’s I’ve ever seen. Not important to this review but I highly recommend checking out the first one on Youtube.

Reigen

I fully recommend this show especially if you enjoy humour in your anime. I fully recommend it even if you don’t! The way it looks and the action deserve huge praise. I’ve never seen anything that made telekinetic battles look this good and intense. As mentioned, this is very similar to season one of One Punch Man and deserves more attention than what Mob Psycho 100 currently gets, more so than One Punch Man in my view. Super Recommend!

My Love Story!!

My Love Story

After Mob Psycho 100 I wanted to continue the comedy element into another show and My Love Story!! has been on my radar for a while now. I’m not a big romance anime/series person but My Love Story!! nicely balances the cutesy aspect with the tonal shifts and sharp edits that bring the chuckles to My Love Story!! I also felt a strong connection to the main character within the first episode and so maybe the emotional aspects hit harder for me than an average person but this series made me feel a wide spectrum of feelings whilst watching it.

Funny and endearing, My Love Story!! tells the story of Takeo a hulking beast of a student. A man of big stature, big features and an even bigger heart. Takeo wouldn’t be described as handsome but his stoic-ness and kind demeanour shine for those that are willing to give this, at first, scary looking mountain a chance. Takeo is a gentle giant and even though his close friends love and respect him, he’s never had a girlfriend, though he has fallen hard many times. Suna, is Takeo’s best friend and in an average anime, he would be the main protaganist. Smart, handsome and somewhat mysterious, Suna was always the attention of girls around Takeo and usually those that Takeo had developed feelings for. One day, Takeo spots a girl on his train being groped by a creep. As chivalrous as always, Takeo rushes to her rescue and upon seeing the girl’s face, instantly falls in love with her. Rinko, the girl he saved, also develops feelings for her saviour but as this is an anime love story, it’s not a simple affair. Rinko is incredibly shy and Takeo has complex’s due to his previous unrequited feelings. Thankfully this whole charade doesn’t outstay its welcome and even though there are more miscommunication mishaps throughout the season, I never found them to be infuriating. Takeo has every right to doubt that someone as amazing as Rinko would have feelings for him. Not because he’s a bad person, but because of the damage and insecurities his past feelings have wrought him. I resonated with that characteristic and perhaps that’s why this show got me as much as it did. I had self esteem issues in the past and when obvious signals or even flat out propositions were thrown my way I would have a hard time believing them or would just flat out dismiss them. I didn’t regard myself highly and so I couldn’t see how others could either. Hindsight is 20/20 and I’ve come to appreciate the qualities that I have to offer but Takeo really reminded me of how I was. Not in terms of sheer strength or courageousness but in his internal struggle and his ability to over analyse situations or to be oblivious to what’s practically spelled out. His naivety is his charm but a detriment to his happiness. But that’s what makes him a likeable character to watch.

Not only that but the supporting cast are great too, though the show mainly focuses on the 3 main characters. Which is a great thing as it gives Takeo and Rinko’s relationship substance. We see how they develop and how they each imbue one another with aspects of themselves. Rinko is lovely, shy and a kind person; Takeo is a lovable brute with a heart of gold and Suna is the perfect straight man for Takeo to bounce off of. There is great story elements to this trio’s interactions but what I really love is the humour between them. Takeo and Rinko’s internal thoughts and freak outs in their new relationship really put a smile on my face. If you’re someone who second guesses a lot or are just socially awkward in general, you’ll relate to these two. And then there is Suna who works best being Takeo’s support. Takeo is unrefined and clumsy when it comes to feelings and relationships. His constant harassing of Suna for advice is both comical and touching to see. Two very different people but it’s easy to see why they’re best friends and why there friendship has lasted so long. The show does a good job of switching up story beats or changing the focus of the episodes to one of the three main characters. Romantic tropes don’t play for too long and the series has a good balance of serious episodes with humour to flat out comedy episodes or character development arcs.

Takeo

At only 24 episodes, My Love Story!! tells the beginning of a relationship, a sweet tale between two individuals who deserve someone who thinks the world of them. This is a pleasant show to watch and it does a great job of making you feel happy inside. It’s a charming watch and one that has some of the best quick cut gags and intensely comical face shots that I’ve seen for a long time. As this came out in 2015 and only one season was produced, there isn’t much finality to the show. The last episode could be seen as a regular arc ending and so I was a bit disappointed that a second season wasn’t made but that can’t be helped really. An enjoyable watch but just be aware that you see the start of a blossoming relationship but you won’t see the end. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the journey is very enjoyable but be prepared to feel a small void in your heart when the last episode ends. Highly Recommend.

The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland

This anime got a lot of attention at the start of the year and I always thought about checking it out. I knew it involved kids in an orphanage and that there was a mystery element to it but that’s all I knew really. The term, psychological thriller/horror was also chucked around and this seemed right up my alley. I love when a basic concept or real life situation is twisted in a unique way. The Promised Neverland definitely has that going for it and isn’t shy about the horror element.

For those that haven’t heard of the premise, I’m torn on describing this series. I think a big part of the impact I felt when watching the first episode was the reveal of the main plot. It’s something that I feel should be seen rather than read or heard. BUT! What’s the point of this paragraph if I don’t explain it? The basic version: the story centres on 3 orphans in an orphanage as they uncover the mystery surrounding their orphanage and their lives. If you are intrigued by this synopsis then I recommend reading no further on in this mini review of The Promised Neverland. The main mystery is revealed in the first episode and so I’m going to talk a bit more in depth about basic plot points of the first few episodes as it’s hard to explain this show without more detail. Last chance to avoid basic spoilers, skip ahead to next paragraph if you want to remain in the dark about this show. SPOILERS FOR THE FIRST FEW EPISODES NOW: As I mentioned, the plot revolves around 3 orphans. These orphans find out that their orphanage is a produce farm essentially, for weird monsters. Their caretaker who they refer to as Mother is in contact with the monsters and essentially rears the children for slaughter. There is mention of other farms and it is revealed that the smarter a child is, the better their quality is. What follows is the children trying to escape their fate and their effort to uncover the secrets of the world outside their knowledge. Before we get into non-spoiler territory, Sister Krone scares the hell out of me! That smile of hers *shudders*.

neverland1

The series is a really cool concept and for the most part I enjoyed it. My main gripe I had was not with the mystery or the revelations, but with the 3 main characters themselves. They are said to be 11 years old and the smartest children at the orphanage. Maybe because I was dumb as an 11 year old and so I find it hard to believe but their deductions and observations seem too unrealistic for three 11 year olds. That being said, I was never an A* pupil and I’ve never been in their situation. That kind of scenario would have the brain firing on all cylinders but I still have trouble with their intelligence. It’s weird given the surrounding story that that is the aspect I find hard to believe but they are three mini Sherlock Holmes apparently. But, they were raised in a different situation to me and so I can’t be correlating their mindset to mine but that is a minor gripe of mine. That being said, I do think this is a promising start. What I do love about this series is the way it builds dread. With intense camera angles, close up’s of characters in crisis and the occasional first person view, The Promised Neverland does a great job of building terror in this seemingly normal orphanage. It’s one of the best anime series I’ve seen, to really make me feel uneasy or concerned for characters. Not a series for the weak of heart. If you don’t mind a bit of unease in your life then I recommend trying The Promised Neverland! At only 12 episodes it’s worth a watch if you’re interested in the concept. Solid Recommend.

And that’s that! I haven’t been writing much as I mentioned due to lack of gaming and time but hopefully I’ll get back on track soon. In the meantime let me know your opinions on these anime series and if you know of any anime similar to them then please let me know. I’m in the mood for more great anime series/films as I’m currently re-watching all of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and I’m getting close to the current airing part so I’m in need of new things to watch! Recommendations are always welcome. Thanks for reading and take it easy.

Inventory Time: Metal Gear Solid’s PAL Key

The Metal Gear Solid is a bizarre series. Personally I’m a fan of it, I like the ridiculous and the over the top, and so the MGS franchise suits me well. Of all the crazy MGS stuff, and trust me if you haven’t tried the series, there’s a lot of bonkers stuff, one item in particular has perplexed me for decades, that item is the PAL key. The PAL key or the Permissive Acton Link key is an emergency disc that is used to activate or deactivate nuclear weapons. That’s all fine and good but it’s the actual disc and how to use it that I want to talk about today. Obviously this is going to contain spoilers for Metal Gear Sold but nothing too spoilery. If a memory card reading, gas mask wearing, levitating psycho hasn’t persuaded you to play the MGS series then my mild spoiler shouldn’t turn you away for good. With that, let’s talk about PAL, pal!

palkeyred

Towards the end of Metal Gear Solid you discover that the enemy, Liquid, has started the activation process for the nuclear weapons. Not good news. So you, as Solid Snake must deactivate the nukes. Previous plans have failed but you discover the emergency option, the PAL key. In an emergency, 3 discs of data can be input into 3 computers to either activate nuclear weapons or disarm nuclear weapons. These keys are one use and if you mess up the input order or input the same disc by mistake then you’re all out of luck. As Eminem said, ‘You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow nukes’. Pretty sure that was it or close enough anyway, clearly he wrote that rap whilst playing Metal Gear Solid. So Solid Snake checks his infinite pockets and wouldn’t you know it, he only has one PAL key. He gets on his walkie-talkie to his urine soaked scientist buddy Otacon and has a bit of a moan about only having one key. Otacon explains that that PAL key is a 3 in one key. It’s designed with a special Shaped Memory Alloy which allows the key to transform shape so that different discs within the key are readable by a disc scanner. I believe that’s correct, the MGS series is confusing. When in doubt, nano-machines did it. For those who are reading and don’t know what nano-machines are to the Metal Gear Solid franchise, they’re whatever you want them to be. It’s that bit from The Simpsons where Professor Frink asks a really specific question to Lucy Lawless about an episode of Xena where a really specific detail was wrong. And then she responds with this:

Simpsons wizards

Just replace wizard with nano-machines and you’re an expert on the Metal Gear Solid experience. Again, I must reiterate, I love the series for reasons like that.

Back to my PAL! So, this disc can transform and needs to transform for it to be used properly. How do you transform it? I hear you ask. Simple really, by severe changes in temperature. And by severe I mean Sweaty Betty or Chilly Willy. Rubbing the disc in your hands isn’t going to heat it enough and to cool it you can’t just seductively rub ice cubes on it like it’s Kim Basinger. Extreme temperatures are needed to get those 2 states and the 3rd state is just room temperate so that isn’t a problem. To get the key to cool enough you need to head to a freezer area of the facility and wait in that area for the PAL key to cool enough. Once it does, the icon for the item will change to a blue disc and you can then use it on the suitable computer. To increase the temperature of the disc sufficiently, you have to take Solid Snake to a furnace area and have him wait till the disc heats up. Once the disc is heated up, you must make your way back to the computers and input the disc into the correct disc drive. Sound like fun to do in a video game? Of course it is, everyone loves backtracking!

So where is my issue with this? Well, the existence of the PAL key is for emergencies. A trip to a freezer and then a furnace, does not sound like an emergency that is swift, and speed is usually what emergencies require. It’s not like a scientist can pop this PAL key into a microwave to heat it up. Have you ever put food in a microwave that had a small piece of aluminium foil attached to it? I have and I might as well have got the sparklers out and set up a bonfire. Then there is the case of the journey to and from the freezer and furnace. Solid Snake is a clone of Big Boss, the greatest soldier of all time. A high mark for fitness and stamina is required to earn that title. Him running to and from in a timely fashion I can accept. But a regular person? Unless they’ve got Usain Bolt in a lab coat, I don’t think they’re getting those discs anywhere sprightly. An average Joe scientist will be doing a run for 2 minutes, then with winded breath that becomes a jog for another 2 minutes and then a brisk power walk to the freezer. That doesn’t include the trip back or the furnace expedition. BOOM the nukes have detonated and the super mutants are being born.

Giant mechs that roar like a Bionicle T-Rex? Sure, I’ll bite. CD’s that require a hot water bottle and a slushie nearby? Yeah, OK Kojima, where are you hiding the glue? Anyway that’s my shower thought for the day. More than likely I’ll be returning to the MGS series in the future for Inventory Time but in the meantime feel free to check out my thoughts on The Legend Of Zelda’s Iron Boots. Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts in the comments. Take it easy.

Devil May Cry V Demo Impressions

I was gutted when I couldn’t play Devil May Cry V when the demo released on the Xbox One.  Essentially the one system I don’t have but when the demo was announced for a future date on the PS4, my hopes had been delivered. I try not to watch gameplay trailers nowadays as I like to keep the game mostly a surprise. When a game gets announced that I like the sound of, I’ll have a look at the launch trailer and until launch I’ll watch some GIF’s and an odd video on occasion to get a better feel for a game. Most recently I did this with RE2 Remake. I barely saw anything of that and then a week before release I started paying attention. It feels so good when a thing you’ve just got an interest in, is right around the corner. And it isn’t because I’m not excited for the games, it’s just that I like to trick my brain into not being excited until closer to the time. That hasn’t been the case for DMCV. I’m really craving a great character action game and DMCV is hopefully exactly that. Bayonnetta 2 was the last fantastic one for me with Nier Automata scratching that itch but not wowing me as much as I hoped. And so I’ve been eagerly awaiting DMCV and watching most footage that has come out for it.

Devil May Cry 5 Demo_20190208122636
So happy when I saw this pop up after the demo.

So with my excitement high I jumped into the DMCV demo and here are some of my thoughts on it. I will clarify that even though I said I enjoyed these games, I would never say I’m good at them. I clear them and sometimes on higher difficulties but the style meters and rankings at the end of each mission, have never been my forte. I stopped counting how many stone Enzo trophies I got in Bayonetta. And it’s not that I don’t try to do well, but it’s the same thing for fighting games, I just don’t learn the systems. I don’t have the patience and creative flare for it. I love watching it and when it all comes together for me and I do something cool I get stupid hype for it but I’m not one of those technique masters. Hell, I barely get far in the Bloody Palace’s of previous Devil May Cry’s. The moves that suit me and combos that I can perform easily become my staples in each game. Do they kill the enemies? Yes but they also kill my rankings. The reason why I bring this up is that in my brief time in the DMCV demo (3 attempts with 2 being successful), I can see myself learning the systems. Specifically the Devil Breaker system.

Devil May Cry 5 Demo_20190208120036
An S is very good for me! It does go higher than this. Thought I should tell you before you start worshipping me.

So, my thoughts:

  • Devil Breaker is cool! You have 3 options in the demo: Gerbera, Overture and Punch Line. Up to 4 Devil Breakers can be equipped and each one can be used up if you opt to use its devastating functions.
  • You can’t switch between Devil Breakers without destroying the one you have equipped. I really like this functionality as it makes choosing the order of Devil Breakers important.
  • If you get hit in the process of charging your Devil Breaker or in mid use of its strong attack, it breaks. Fragile but powerful parts of Nero’s arsenal.
  • Gerbera is my favourite and my go to. It’s the mobility arm. Using it to damage enemies creates a short shockwave in front of you but my main use is its air manoeuvrability. Using it in the air while pushing the left stick in a direction will blast Nero a few feet that way. Holding the Devil Breaker button and releasing it in the air will launch bouncing lasers at your target. Holding it on the ground and releasing it, will launch a powerful, controllable beam that can hit multiple targets. A Devil Breaker that seems best suited for crowds of enemies with the option of destroying a bunch in exchange for destroying the arm.
  • Overture is more damaging than Gerbera and seems like a good Devil Breaker to have for standard enemy fodder. Tapping the Devil Breaker button (O) will blast a fracture of electricity from the palm at enemies. This needs to be up close but it does a good chunk of damage to enemies in range. Holding O and releasing it near an enemy will grab and launch the opponent away from Nero. The monster will then have a timed bomb attached to them. You can let the bomb go off when its countdown ends or you can shoot the enemy to prematurely set it off.  A great tool if you can aggro the enemy into its friends.
  • Punch Line is a big dumb flying fist. I love it! By tapping O Nero will launch the rocket propelled fist into his foe. The fist will then repeatedly loop around the victim, smacking it every chance it gets. It’s great for keeping an enemy distracted. By doing that, you eliminate them from the fight for a few seconds or leave them wide open to attack. By holding and releasing O, Nero will do a flaming uppercut to all in range. As you can guess, this does a lot of damage. I feel this Devil Breaker is best suited for stronger enemies or even bosses. The uppercut alone is a big deal as it seems the biggest and quickest damage dealer out of the 3. I may be wrong on that though. Gerbera’s laser is good damage but so easy to interrupt whereas Punch Line’s big finisher is big damage done very quick.
  • Nero’s gun, Blue Rose, can now preemptively load up several high damage bullets. Tapping square will fire bullets like normal but holding down square will load up 3 super charged bullets. When you release the square button, Nero will automatically fire one of those bullets. So the choice is yours, do you run around with 2 super bullets or do you do the charging in combat to get the full 3. It doesn’t take long to charge but I feel happy running around with 2 super shots ready to go.
  • It’s great that Nero still has the ability to pull his opponents close to him, it really does feel like a natural progression from his last game of now being able to pull enemies into his new powered up metal fist.
  • I’m willing to bet that there are a lot of ways to use the Devil Breakers in creative ways around certain enemies and bosses. I didn’t test it out much in the demo but in the boss fight, having Gerbera equipped seemed to be a huge dealing during one bit. Goliath starts inhaling and a massive suction whirlwind starts moving towards you. Using Gerbera I was able to constantly blast Nero through the air away from it. I’m not how you’d escape that otherwise. The other time I tried it I had another arm equipped and as I was getting sucked in, I was prompted to click L1 to launch my arm at him. Losing the arm in the process but evading any damage. I’m really excited to see the weird and unique ways each Devil Breaker can be used in certain situations. I feel there’s a lot of room for hidden techniques and cool moments.
  • I’m not sure how I feel about the running yet. It may be just because I’m so used to the mobility in Bayonetta but Nero does feel me weighty. It’s not a bad thing, I think that suits his style. But when running around out of combat, it didn’t feel as precise to turn as I was expecting. Saying that though, on my 3rd playthrough of the demo I felt comfortable playing but that might be because I knew more of the layout of the level. Only time will tell how I feel about this. I’ll have to see how I feel when the full game comes out.
  • The taunting is brilliant. I never really utilised the taunts in past games. Stupid me didn’t understand why you should taunt but now I understand for style points and to keep the style up during downtime in fights. It really helps that the taunts are incredibly likeable too and the enemies react to certain ones which can be pretty funny and empowering. Great detail that I fully appreciated.

And I think that about does it. There are loads of details I could talk about but I just wanted to get my quick impressions out there. Overall it looks beautiful, it plays for the most part like I hoped and I really excited to keep playing the demo to see what hidden gameplay mechanics I missed. If you fancy trying the game, I highly recommend this demo. Thank you for reading and feel free to sound off your thoughts on the game in the comments.

Devil May Cry 5 Demo_20190208122621