Clannad (2007-2009) Season 1&2 Anime Review

A common criticism that I hear about Clannad is that the ending ruins the show. People seem to think that the events from episodes 17-21 of After Story were all a dream… YOU’RE WRONG!!!

In order to explain what really happened, we’ll have to go back to Series 1, specifically Kotomi’s Arc.

Clannad’s Ending Explained

Remember her?

In case you forgot, one of the key (no pun intended) plot points of the Arc was that her parents have been doing ‘very important research’, this research is later revealed to be the possibilities of multiple worlds. This is later brought up in episode 15 of After Story. Remember this.

In episode 8 of After Story, Tomoya notices an orb of light ascending into the sky. Yukine brings up the legend of the town, being that people are awarded orbs of light when they help others who are in need. If enough of these are collected, a person could potentially wish for whatever they want to.

*I apologise for bringing up episode 16 in the next paragraph. I shed a tear just writing about it*

Fast-forward to episode 16 of After Story. Nagisa is in critical condition, as she is in labour. The baby is delivered, however, Nagisa passes away *let those manly tears flow*.

5 years pass and Tomoya rekindles his relationship with Ushio, as well as wishing peace for his father, with his father moving to the countryside with his mother. This scene is crucial, as Ushio notices an orb of light which enters Tomoya’s chest.

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Fun times ensue, until one day, Ushio is struck with the same illness as her mother. After repeated refusal, Tomoya agrees to take Ushio on a trip. Unfortunately, she also passes away (I can’t see what I’m writing through my tears), leaving Tomoya on his own.

Some have speculated that Tomoya also died here, as he now no longer had a reason to live.

Do you remember the sequences with the robot and the little girl? They weren’t irrelevant, rather they piece all the information together. In the final episode, the girl in the other world reaches the end of her journey. After saying some things, she calls the robot ‘father’.

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The Robot is Tomoya, the Girl is Ushio

Meanwhile, Tomoya is back where the anime started, he is on the hill slope where he met Nagisa for the first time. He has conflicting feelings, ‘If I didn’t talk to her, none of this would have happened’. She walks past him without saying a word, but at the last second Tomoya shouts out for her, runs up and hugs her.

In this moment, it’s as if Nagisa knows what has happened.

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Tomoya wakes up and is beside Nagisa during the birth, only this time, she is alive and Ushio has been delivered. We then get a 5 minute video going through the next 5 years. Most things that Tomoya does is the same as before, but with Nagisa by his side.

So what does all this mean?

Well, the world with the girl and the robot is a world created by Tomoya and Ushio, comprising all the orbs of light that Tomoya gained from helping people throughout the series. If you look closely, you can see an orb of light appear at the end of each arc.

Tomoya collected enough orbs of light to be granted an ultimate wish, so he wished for time to reverse back to when Ushio was born, only with Nagisa surviving the delivery.

He still remembers everything that happened during those 5 years, so he knows what to do now. He has to go to the field with Ushio and talk to his grandmother; he has to make amends with his father. This time though he will be even stronger because he has Nagisa to support him.

In the recap episode, episode 24, Tomoya recounts the entire events of the anime, including that which happened after Nagisa died, to Ushio. Proof that he remembers what happened during those 5 years. Unfortunately Ushio is asleep while he is explaining everything which is awkward

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On a side note, I love how the anime does this CG from the VN ^^

The big thing to note is that the anime is based off of a Visual Novel, and in the VN there are 13 orbs of light to collect. When you start After Story in the VN you will have at least 7 orbs, and you will see the bad end, where Ushio dies… That’s it. You can get more orbs of light during After Story which will unlock the true end where Nagisa is revived.

There is one more major confusion surrounding the final scene of the anime. We have an extended ‘epilogue’ where Fuko can smell a familiar girl. She follows the smell and finds the girl from the illusionary world under a tree.

Firstly, she is attracted to the smell because the girl is Ushio from the illusionary world. But why is she there? It’s kind of an easter egg for VN readers. Like I said before, you collect orbs of light in the VN, and when you collect one, it is shown on the title screen under the tree to the left. After all 13 orbs of light are collected and you complete the true end, the orbs of light are replaced with the girl from the illusionary world.

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Season 1 Trailer

Knives Out (2019) Movie Review

Knives Out is a 2019 American comedy murder mystery film written, produced, and directed by Rian Johnson. Described as a modern take on the whodunit, the film follows a family gathering gone awry, after the family patriarch’s death leads a master detective to investigate. The film stars an ensemble cast, including Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Toni Collette, Lakeith Stanfield, Katherine Langford, Jaeden Martell, and Christopher Plummer.

Knives Out had its world premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2019, and was theatrically released in the United States on November 27, 2019, by Lionsgate. The film received critical acclaim, particularly for its screenplay, direction, and acting, and has grossed over $162 million worldwide against a $40 million budget. At the 77th Golden Globe Awards, the film received three nominations in the Musical or Comedy categories: Best Motion Picture, Best Actor for Craig, and Best Actress for de Armas.

Plot

Wealthy crime novelist Harlan Thrombey invites his family to his mansion for his 85th birthday party. The next morning, Harlan’s housekeeper Fran finds him dead, apparently having slit his own throat. An anonymous figure hires private detective Benoit Blanc to investigate.

Blanc learns that Harlan had alienated many of the family: he had threatened to expose his son-in-law Richard for having an affair; cut off his daughter-in-law Joni’s allowance for stealing money meant for her daughter’s tuition; fired his youngest son Walt from his publishing company; and cut his lazy grandson Ransom out of his will.

Unknown to Blanc, after the party Harlan’s nurse Marta Cabrera accidentally injected Harlan with a fatal dose of morphine. Minutes from death, Harlan told Marta how to avoid suspicion by making it appear he was still alive after she had driven home, and then slit his own throat. Carrying out Harlan’s instructions, Marta was seen escaping the house by Harlan’s very elderly mother, who mistook her for Ransom.

Because Marta cannot lie without vomiting, she gives only partial answers to Blanc’s questions. Blanc asks her to assist in his investigation. As they search the property, Marta attempts to conceal evidence.

The family is shocked to learn from Harlan’s lawyer that Harlan left everything to Marta. They turn on her, but Ransom helps her escape. At a restaurant, Ransom tricks Marta into confessing to him, and offers to help her in exchange for his share of the inheritance. The other Thrombeys realize that, under the slayer rule, Marta will lose the inheritance if she killed Harlan, but Blanc tells them that they all are still suspects. They try to persuade Marta to renounce her inheritance.

Marta receives a blackmail note with a partial photocopy of Harlan’s toxicology report. She and Ransom drive to the medical examiner’s office, but it has been destroyed in a fire. Marta receives an email with a time and address to meet the blackmailer. When Blanc spots her and Ransom, Marta speeds away. The police catch them and arrest Ransom. Blanc explains to Marta that Harlan’s mother had seen Ransom climbing down from Harlan’s upstairs rooms on the night of his death.

Marta goes to the address in the email and discovers Fran drugged. She performs CPR and calls 911. Marta confesses everything to Blanc, but Ransom has already informed on her. At the house, Marta finds a copy of the full toxicology report hidden in Fran’s cannabis stash. Marta is about to confess to the family, but Blanc interrupts her after reading the report. He brings Marta, Ransom and the police to a room to reveal his deduction.

After Ransom learned at the party that Harlan was leaving everything to Marta, he swapped the contents of Marta’s medication vials so she would kill Harlan with an overdose of morphine, making her ineligible to claim his inheritance. However, Marta, an experienced nurse, administered the correct medicine without reading the labels, and is thus innocent of Harlan’s death. After the death was reported as suicide, Ransom anonymously hired Blanc to discover Marta’s guilt. Fran later saw Ransom swapping the vials back and sent him the blackmail note. Realizing that Marta had given Harlan the correct medication, Ransom passed on the blackmail note to Marta, removing the address and time. He destroyed the evidence of Marta’s innocence by burning down the medical examiner’s office and burning Fran’s copy of the toxicology report. He drugged Fran with morphine and emailed her location to Marta, planning to frame Marta for Fran’s murder.

Marta receives a call from the hospital and says that Fran is alive. Believing that Fran will implicate him, Ransom angrily confesses, vowing revenge. Marta vomits on Ransom; she lied that Fran had survived, and tricked Ransom into confessing. He attacks her with a knife, but discovers it is a retractable stage knife. As Ransom is taken into custody, Marta watches the Thrombeys from what is now her mansion.

My Personal Thoughts

Marta vomits on Ransom after lying about the Fran thing and in a fit of rage, Ransom tries to kill Marta with a knife that turns out to be a prop one that Harlan mentioned earlier in the movie.

In the end, Ransom is taken away into custody past the shocked family who all gather on the drive to see what has happened. Marta takes one of Harlan’s cups that is labeled ‘My House, My Rules, My Coffee’ and she goes to the balcony to overlook the pack of vultures. They all turn round and peer up at her and she moves one of her fingers covering the cup which reveals the top line that says ‘My House.’

Now the movie cuts to credits after this and whilst we don’t get complete confirmation on exactly what the character is going to do with the fortune, personally I believe that she’s too nice of a person to not at least give them all something, especially meg who she vowed to take care of.

I would have loved to have seen her tell them where to go but Marta is still the nicest person in the movie, maybe the nicest person of all time, maybe the new mother theresa.

It’s clear she’s keeping the house though and after the tricks that the Thrombey’s pulled I’d be surprised if she didn’t oust them from it too because yeah, let’s face it, they deserved it.

Well, I really enjoyed Knives Out and it shows that in Hollywood there can still be original properties that make for great movies. All the actors complaining that superhero films have stopped there being a focus on anything else need to take a good look at Knives Out because it’s a perfect example of why they’re wrong and when a good idea is executed well it makes for a really entertaining ride.

Everything in Knives Out just works really well and I could have happily had another half hour of the movie just following the family and all the kinds of things that they got up to.

The cast really compliments the work and overall the film is a brilliant deconstruction of what a whodunnit mystery is that takes the classic elements apart and celebrates them.

Films like this are pretty much either made or broken on their twist and this did keep me guessing throughout which was nice as doing a channel like this often means you pretty much watch the same tropes over and over again.

Knives Out feels like the perfect movie to close out the year and it’s definitely worth going to see in the cinema. It feels like a throwback to Poirot and the murder mysteries of old that retains all of the right elements whilst updating them for modern audiences.

I will rate this Movie 8/10.

Directed byRian Johnson
Produced byRam Bergman Rian Johnson
Written byRian Johnson
StarringDaniel Craig Chris Evans Ana de Armas Jamie Lee Curtis Michael Shannon Don Johnson Toni Collette Lakeith Stanfield Katherine Langford Jaeden Martell Christopher Plummer
Music byNathan Johnson
CinematographySteve Yedlin
Edited byBob Ducsay
Production
company
Media Rights Capital T-Street
Distributed byLionsgate
Release dateSeptember 7, 2019 (TIFF) November 27, 2019 (United States)
Running time130 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$40 million
Box office$162.8 million

Judgementall Hai Kya (2019) Bollywood Movie Review

Judgementall Hai Kya  Are you judgmental? is a 2019 Indian Hindi-language black comedy film directed by Prakash Kovelamudi, with screenplay by Kanika Dhillon starring Rajkummar Rao and Kangana Ranaut. Produced by Ekta Kapoor, the film was theatrically released in India on 26 July 2019.

Plot

Bobby is a strange wealthy young woman living alone in Mumbai and working as a dubbing artist. In childhood, she had interfered in a fight between her parents, causing them to fall off the terrace to their deaths. When a producer touches her at work, she reacts by slicing his nose with a knife. She is then sent to an asylum. Her uncle manages her property and offers her house as a rental to a young married couple. Keshav is the husband to Reema. Bobby is obsessed with the couple and spies and stalks them constantly. Reema dies in a fire in the kitchen when a bottle of pesticide explodes. Bobby suspects Keshav and tries to get the police to investigate him but they find no evidence. She hallucinates Keshav threatening her and hits him with a chair in front of the police. She is put back in the asylum. It is revealed that she is imagining things; during electric shock treatment, she remembers that she threw the pesticide on the wife because she hallucinated a cockroach on her.

Two years later, Bobby is taking her meds but not leaving her house. Her cousin in London arranges for Bobby to be an understudy in a re-imagining of the Ramayana that she is helping design. When Bobby meets her cousin’s new husband, it turns out to be Keshav. Keshav warns his wife that Bobby is not stable but his wife does not believe him. Bobby starts to lose herself in the character of Sita that she is understudying. She believes Keshav is Raavan and it is up to her to defeat him. Keshav panics and reaches out to her old boyfriend, Varun, who confirms that she obsesses over things and had imagined him to be a criminal. He breaks into her house and finds boxes of photos with Bobby photoshopped in instead of Keshav’s wife. A photo of Keshav’s wedding to her cousin proves that Bobby knew beforehand that they were married.

Keshav confronts Bobby. The next morning, he tells his wife that Bobby tried to kiss him, and she in turn tells his wife that he tried to rape her. When she later sees Keshav backstage, she grabs an ax and chases him, cutting a rope that sends a light falling. Afraid she has hurt someone, she goes on the run and gains three hallucinatory friends. They take her to a library, where she researches Keshav and thinks she has found evidence that he is a serial killer who takes on new identities and kills his wives. She returns to the house to confront him, dressed as Sita, ties up her pregnant cousin and when Keshav arrives, threatens him. Keshav tries to reason with her before revealing that he IS indeed a serial killer. He even killed his first wife, throwing the match on her after Bobby covered her in pesticide. Bobby fights him and she and her cousin are both saved when Keshav is burnt alive in the same manner in which his victims burned to death. At the end, she strides down the street in London surrounded by her hallucinations proudly declaring that she is what she is and will not change.

My Personal Thoughts

A brutal childhood trauma leaves Bobby (Kangana Ranaut) diagnosed with acute psychosis in her adult years. And after doing time at an asylum for assaulting a coworker, she is let off on the condition that she will stick with her medication. Bobby is a dubbing artist for movies, where she is the voice of the female lead characters. And interestingly, her mind is a medley of all the characters she has voiced. For every time she dubs, she gets obsessed with her onscreen avatar and imagines herself in place of the character. This obsession is dealt with a narrative treatment that’s cool and quirky.

To bring out this element of madness in her further, there’s also a busy wall in her house that has photographs of her dressed as every character she has dubbed for. And deep down, Bobby yearns to be an actor herself, something that her manager cum so-called boyfriend, Varun (Hussain Dalal), is unable to pull off. So he ends up grocery shopping with her more often than ‘getting lucky’ on dates. When he protests, she tells him without batting an eyelid, “Tum aloo ke jaise nahin ho sakte… easy going and adjusting. Be like aloo.”

In the midst of this existence, enter Keshav and Rima (Rajkummar Rao and Amyra Dastur) as her new tenants and a much in love couple. And Bobby gets drawn to their love story, which in her world is too good to be true. But then a murder breaks this momentum and Bobby believes Keshav is the culprit. Is it her overactive imagination, or is it her paranoia to the power ten that has led her to do this instead? The characters here are twisted… and you are left wondering, trying to figure which of the two has blood on their hands.

Bobby is always in a zone – that’s funny and alarming – and in her contorted world, she imagines characters and hears voices. Interestingly, the story leads to a frenzied turn of events, with Bobby’s imaginary world often blurring into shocking reality.

Prakash Kovelamudi’s narrative style is quirky, edgy and one that absorbs you instantly. The mood is set with shots in dappled light, play of light and shadows and high contrast shots. The stylisation of the scenes, characters and sound design ensures that the atmosphere remains intriguing throughout the story.

To give it another dimension, the film brings in an underlying motif of the Ramayana, albeit with a modern day twist. At one point in the film, Bobby tells Keshav, “Ab Sita Ravan ko dhundegi.” ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ keeps you engaged all the way, though the screenplay in the second half does go a bit awry at times, with some scenes that seem stretched. The climax, something that you’re waiting for, is hurried. Nonetheless, it is worth the wait.

The performances are consistent throughout and it’s delightful to see such talented actors feed off each other. Kangana Ranaut is brilliant as Bobby, as she seamlessly gets under the skin of her character, nailing the quirks and nuances. Even her styling makes a statement without going overboard. Rajkummar Rao, fits into his slightly macho, edgy persona like a glove. We haven’t seen him in a role like this before and he pulls it off fantastically. Jimmy Sheirgill impresses as he breaks out of the one note characters he has been playing lately. Amrita Puri, too, holds her own very well. And Hussain Dalal brings in the comic quotient quite effectively.

‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ keeps the element of suspense alive all the way till the end. The film pushes the envelope as a dark, psychological whodunit, with a social message weaved in that can’t be ignored. The film treads into a zone where Bollywood has rarely been, and just for that, it deserves applause.


I will rate this movie 6/10.

Directed byPrakash Kovelamudi
Produced byEkta Kapoor
Shobha Kapoor
Shailesh R Singh
Screenplay byKanika Dhillon
StarringRajkummar Rao
Kangana Ranaut
Music bySongs:
Arjuna Harjai
Rachita Arora
Tanishk Bagchi
Daniel B. George
Score:
Daniel B. George
CinematographyPankaj Kumar
Edited byShweta Venkat Matthew
Sheeba Sehgal
Prashanth Ramachandran
Production
company
Balaji Motion Pictures
Karma Media and Entertainment
ALT Entertainment
Distributed byPen Marudhar Entertainment
Release date26 July 2019
Running time116 minutes
CountryIndia
LanguageHindi
Budget₹29–50 crore
Box officeest. ₹44.92 crore

Tell Me a Story (2018) TV Series Review

Tell Me a Story is an American psychological thriller web television anthology series, based on the Spanish television series Cuéntame un Cuento created by Marcos Osorio Vidal, that premiered on October 31, 2018, on CBS All Access. The series was created by Kevin Williamson and stars James Wolk, Billy Magnussen, Dania Ramirez, Danielle Campbell, Dorian Crossmond Missick, Sam Jaeger, Davi Santos, Michael Raymond-James, Zabryna Guevara, Paul Wesley, and Kim Cattrall. On December 17, 2018, it was announced that the series had been renewed for a second season, which premiered on December 5, 2019.

My Personal Thoughts

"Hope" -- Episode #101 --Pictured (l-r): Dorian Missick as Sam; Paul Wesley as Eddie; Michael Raymond-James as Micth of the CBS All Access series TELL ME A STORY. Photo Cr: Patrick Harbron/CBS © 2018 CBS Interactive

With opening credits that show Little Red Riding Hood being raped by the Big Bad Wolf, “Tell Me a Story” is about as fun and understated as you might expect. The new CBS All Access series from Kevin Williamson, master of dark and icky shows like “Stalker” and “The Following,” attempts to twist classic fairy tales into his dark and icky mindset (never mind that these stories are already pretty grim). When viewed through their fairy-tale origins, the tales are laughably contrived. As standalone stories, they’re as ugly as they are trite.

Season 1 focuses on “The Three Little Pigs,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” Sam (Dorian Missick), Eddie (Paul Wesley), and Mitch (Michael Raymond-James) stand in as the not-so-little pigs, forming a hapless gang of jewelry store robbers whose story bookends the premiere. Presumably, Eddie is going through with the heist to fix his leaky roof in the shoddy shack he calls home — probably made of straw (get it?) — and his brother Mitch is joining him to provide for his family, but the metaphors don’t end there. In case anyone is confused why the formerly innocent swine of the O.G. fairy tale are now corrupt, gun-toting killers, don’t worry about it: They’re wearing pig masks, and there are three of them.

Perhaps you’d argue the pigs are still victims in this dark new world, and they’ve been driven to violence by circumstance. That’s still too far of a reach, but one that’s also required to swallow Williamson’s spin on “Hansel and Gretel.” Hannah (Dania Ramirez) and Gabe (Davi Santos) are siblings, but they’ve grown apart since moving to the woods, aka New York City. Hannah is a cop and a veteran, while her brother is a burlesque dancer and a drug addict. When he gets in trouble (lured to a dangerous house! by drugs!), she comes to his rescue. From there, it’s only a question of what duck will ferry them home safely.

Not that that makes a lick of sense. Where’s home? Is it Gabe’s seedy drug den? Is it their unknown parents’ house? Is that a twist yet to drop in this confusing allegory? Despite the overt attempts at grounding the series in a familiar setting — Trump, of all things, is a regular topic of conversation — little in “Tell Me a Story” follows logic, let alone realism. But the third story is where things start to turn vile.

"Loss" -- Episode #102 -- Pictured: James Wolk as Jordan of TELL ME A STORY for CBS All Access. Photo Cr: Patrick Harbron/CBS © 2018 CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved.

Kayla (Danielle Campbell) has just moved to NYC, after the death of her mother forced her dad to relocate the family in hopes of a “fresh start.” After all, Kayla made some bad friends and developed some bad habits after the tragedy — a 17-year-old smoked pot, you guys! — so clearly the Big Apple is a better place for her than the west coast. Somehow, Kayla keeps making trouble in the quiet little town of Manhattan. She grabs her fake ID, sneaks out of the house, downs some molly with a swig of vodka, and meets the sweetest man you’ve ever laid eyes on. Of course, he lays eyes on her first, staring her down with ferocious intensity that somehow reads as charming to Kayla. The two hook up, and, well, anything else would be a spoiler, but the twist should range from yucky to sickening.

I will rate this TV series 6/10.

GenrePsychological thriller
Created byKevin Williamson
Based onCuéntame un cuento
by Marcos Osorio Vidal
StarringJames Wolk Billy Magnussen Dania Ramirez Danielle Campbell Dorian Crossmond Missick Sam Jaeger Davi Santos Michael Raymond-James Zabryna Guevara Paul Wesley Kim Cattrall Odette Annable Matt Lauria Eka Darville Natalie Alyn Lind Ashley Madekwe Phillip Rhys Carrie-Anne Moss
Composer(s)John Frizzel
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes12 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Gonzalo Cilley Andres Tovar Dana Honor Aaron Kaplan Liz Friedlander Kevin Williamson
Producer(s)Colin Walsh Hollie Overton
CinematographyDoug Emmett Charles Grubbs
Editor(s)Andrew Groves Emily Greene Brock Hammitt Roseanne Tan Zachary Dehm
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time42–53 minutes
Production company(s)Resonant Outerbanks Entertainment Kapital Entertainment
Release
Original networkCBS All Access
Original releaseOctober 31, 2018 –
present

The Promised Neverland Anime Review (2018)

The Promised Neverland (Japanese: 約束のネバーランド Hepburn: Yakusoku no Nebārando) is a Japanese manga series written by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu. It has been serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump since August 1, 2016, with the individual chapters collected and published by Shueisha into sixteen tankōbon volumes as of October 2019. The story follows a group of orphaned children in their escape plan from an orphanage.

An anime television series adaptation by CloverWorks premiered from January to March 2019 in the Noitamina programming block. A second season will premiere in 2020.

Viz Media licensed the manga in North America and serialized The Promised Neverland in their digital Weekly Shonen Jump magazine.

Summary

Set in the year 2045, Emma is an 11-year-old orphan living in Grace Field House, a self-contained orphanage housing her and 37 other orphans. Life has never been better: with gourmet food; plush beds; clean clothes; games; and the love of their “Mother”, the caretaker, Isabella. The bright and cheerful Emma always aces the regular exams with her two best friends Ray and Norman. The orphans are allowed complete freedom, except to venture beyond the grounds or the gate, which connects the house to the outside world.

One night, an orphan named Conny is sent away to be adopted, but Emma and Norman follow after noticing that she left her stuffed toy, Little Bunny, back at the house. At the gate, they find Conny dead, and they realize the truth of their existence in this idyllic orphanage. Determined to break out of Grace Field House, Norman and Emma join with Ray to find a way to escape along with their other siblings.

My Personal Thoughts

I crave for a new good horror series or movie in the anime medium. And I know this is a sentiment many people share in the community. Good horror is rare nowadays, and this goes double in anime. There are just so many times I can rewatch Higurashi, and as much as I love shows such as Attack on Titan and Parasyte – they don’t maintain the horror aspect for long.

The Promised Neverland was a, well, promising contender for the very small club of good horror anime well before its airing.

As a manga, The Promised Neverland is nowadays considered one of the most acclaimed titles published by Shonen Jump. Yes, the same magazine responsible for popularizing and dominating the shonen battle sub-genre also hosts a manga that could easily pass for a seinen magazine.

And frankly I was a little worried for this anime adaptation due to a multitude of reasons; horror in general is a very hard genre to execute in the anime medium, and the studio responsible for the anime, CloverWorks, are a new name in the industry with a hit-and-miss list of works.

But you know what? After watching the entire show twice, I can safely say that our prayers have been mostly answered.

So without any further delays, let’s review the 2019 anime based on the manga written by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu, directed by Mamoru Kanbe (Letter Bee, Elfen Lied) and produced by studio CloverWorks: The Promised Neverland.

Now I should probably warn you that if you have no idea about what The Promised Neverland is about, close this review and go watch the first two episodes before coming back. The Promised Neverland is one of those shows that only reveal their true nature at the end of the initial episodes.

Okay, so now as the uninitiated are gone, let me explain the series’ premise and sudden plot twist.

Emma, Norman and Ray are three kids growing up in a small orphanage called Grace Field House, circa the year 2045. It’s a lovely place, with Emma and her friends being taken care by Isabella, the orphanage’s “Mother,” who sees to every need of the kids. The kids enjoy excellent food and can play anywhere within the orphanage’s limits.

Of course, if anything, such a “perfect life” premise is never without a catch. And indeed, at some points the kids are supposedly sent away from the orphanage to caring foster family. When one of the kids leaves, Emma and Norman decide to follow her, and their world is turned upside down upon discovering the true nature of their lives.

Demons exist in this world. The orphanage is a little more than a farm for the demons to harvest human children, specifically their brains. And Isabella is merely the overseer of the children’s growth. But that doesn’t stop Emma, who quickly concludes that in order to avoid their gruesome fates, the children must escape the orphanage.

From here on out, over the course of twelve episodes The Promised Neverland focuses on Emma and her friends trying to uncover the truths about their world and hopefully escape before their day of shipment would arrive. What follows is a terrific game between the kids and their seemingly stoic caretaker, with the potential for new, equally dangerous opponents.

One thing that The Promised Neverland excels in, is the best asset horror has: the atmosphere. When the first episode starts, the world seems bright and lively, and the kids enjoy their peaceful lives. Even when a kid leaves for a so-called foster family, it’s a bittersweet departure because the kids are led to believe their friend found a warming family.

But something still feels off, and once The Promised Neverland decides to remove any pretense at being a perfect orphanage comedy, the real dread sinks its teeth into the series. When the three main heroes realize that everything they’ve known throughout their lives was a big lie, their once pleasant home suddenly becomes distant and cold, swarming with an eerie sense of danger from every corner.

Nothing feels safe anymore, and the surrounding forest next to the orphanage at times feels like a less scarier place than being near Isabella. Despite a fairly gruesome shot in the end of the the first episode, The Promised Neverland almost never relies on gore or violence; the suspense and fear come almost purely from great directional shots and excellent dialogue.

While I wouldn’t say The Promised Neverland is the scariest thing, or even anime, that I’ve ever watched, it is still a step in the right direction. Nothing made me jump off my chair or pause the screen to catch a breath, but the series never lost its dark, eerie feel after setting off. Each episode introduced new twists and pieces to enrich the experience, keeping up a good pace throughout all twelve episodes.

And then comes the fact that the orphanage is really just the starting area. Imagine this; even if you could escape what is basically a farm for human brains, there is still an entire world out there, filled with vicious demons who see you as nothing more than a delicious meal. And when your protagonists are little children, the tension and fear grow stronger.

But that might be among my biggest gripes with the series.

The Promised Neverland hints at a much larger setting that is far more dangerous than anything posed in the orphanage. We get bits and hints about the relations between humans and demons, the existence of other plantations and even a tiny glance at the demon society, but little more.

Thankfully, a second season has been confirmed right after this one ended, so we will get our answers, and I do understand the need of the series to keep its cards close to the chest, but when I think of how larger the world of The Promised Neverland really is, I can’t help but feel that this first season is a little more than an appetizer.

And don’t forget: the story is set in the 2040s, which means we have around three decades of lore and mysteries to unravel, and it’s definitely something I’d love to see explored in sequels.

Despite the rather light touch on the setting, I do have to say that The Promised Neverland manages to handle its central theme of life and survival very well. Aside from focusing on the kids desiring to break away from their cruel fates, the series also takes time looking at it from the other side.

Their opponents also present their own struggles to stay alive in a world where they are just as replaceable as the kids, if not moreso. How far one will go, what morals are they willing to stomp on… Those are legitimate concerns and actions the characters ponder on, and the series even acknowledges that selfishness is fine at times.

And to close this segment, let me just say that the ending for this season was amazing. Even if this show wouldn’t have received the confirmation of a sequel, I’d still recommend the series because of how well this season ties up its story arc. It was briskly-paced, engaging and satisfying.

One of my favorite things about The Promised Neverland is how, due to the playful nature of the series and its reliance on tension and surprise, a lot of the characters come off as somewhat two-faced. And not in a bad way, though we do have some characters like that.

What I mean by saying that, is that a lot of the major and even supporting characters manage to sell the idea of “more than meets the eye” almost seamlessly without feeling inconsistent.

For example, you have Emma, the series’ primary protagonist. For the most part, Emma feels and acts like your typical shonen protagonist – itself an interesting choice of a lead for a horror series; she’s wild, energetic, chipper and almost always spots a massive smile on her face.

However, as the bleak reality weighs down on her, Emma depicts another side to her. A colder, more calculating and sometimes even terrifying side that will shock even the most stoic of characters. This change in personality still links to her desire to save her peers, so it never feels at odds with Emma’s true demeanor.

Meanwhile, the white-haired Norman is presented as the calmest of the main trio. In first glance, he appears to be collected and calculating for the most part. But this brilliantly sets the stage for when he breaks due to the series’ main hook, yet at the same he manages to cover his fear with his usual confidence, to the point of easily tricking his caretakers.

Finally we have Ray, who unfortunately I can’t talk about in depth due to a few plot twists regarding his character, but he starts off as the cool-headed and somewhat aloof young boy (it helps that he is voiced by Killua’s voice actress in Hunter x Hunter), only to reveal multiple different sides to him ranging from manipulative to similarly emotionally broken.

And the series really shines when the three of them are together, as the differences in each kid’s mindset and approach to their problems compliment each other beautifully. Not to mention that over the course of the season’s twelve episodes we get to see how deep and organic their friendship is.

But The Promised Neverland also has surprisingly complex and deceptive antagonists. I’m not talking about the demons, though; they don’t get enough time to establish themselves as more than just hungry man-eating monsters. No, the real meat is in “Mother” Isabella and Sister Krone, the children’s primary opponents for the season.

Isabella might be the series’ poster girl for deceptive characters, as she sells the image of a kind and motherly figure before subsequently stomping on said image with a stoic, almost sociopathic control and manipulation over the children. And indeed, she is among the series’ biggest players as she easily deduces what Emma is up to.

At the same time, however, she is not without her humanity, and I was fairly surprised as the series hinted and implied at her genuine love towards the children, both with subtle and obvious character acts. And that is without mentioning the amazing conclusion to her character arc during the show’s finale.

Krone is also a fascinating villain, often showing a disturbing amount of both affection and unhinged terror through expressions and movements alone. Despite her supposed ties to Isabella, Krone is more like a dangerous wild card with loyalties only to herself.

But underneath those psychotic grins, Krone hides genuinely painful experiences in life that make her actions and state of mind more understandable, and while she doesn’t get nearly as much as development or screentime as Isabella, she is undoubtedly a wonderful adversary with enough depth to be able to relate to.

The supporting cast is extremely large, ranging from kids around Emma’s age to babies, to shadowy humans who work with the demons, but given the series’ limited time, only a handful get meaningful appearances, namely Don and Gilda, the two kids closest to Emma, Norman and Ray’s age.

While the series doesn’t focus on them as much as the core trio, both characters get the time to build their personalities and quirks, which sometimes come to blows with their friends. This makes for interesting dynamics, with Don and Gilda being somewhat self-aware that they’re not as important as the leads, but I hope that a second season will throw a bone to their direction.

As I mentioned in the beginning of my review: before its airing, The Promised Neverland had me worried a bit due to the fact it was produced by the relatively new studio, CloverWorks. CloverWorks is an offshoot of the larger A-1 Pictures studio and is best known for its work on Persona 5: The Animation, Bunny Girl-Senpai and, alongside Trigger, Darling in the Franxx.

And while these shows have their merits – Bunny Girl especially is a remarkable experience, I wouldn’t say that visually they’re exceptional. I mean sure, some shots are nice and Darling has some great action scenes, but they’re rather inconsistent overall.

But for the most part, The Promised Neverland looks good. At times even great. Vibrant, saturated day scenes contrast the dark, moody atmosphere present at night or inside the walls of the orphanage. Lighting is used carefully, CGI environments are blended surprisingly well and the series employs wonderful long shots to invoke suspicion and dread.

The animation too can get pretty fluid and beautiful from time to time, and you know, it’s the kind of series that has a good enough screenplay to hold its own even if the presentation was lackluster, but I greatly appreciate the effort to polish The Promised Neverland’s aesthetics to a more acceptable zone.

My one fault with the art direction would lie with its character designs. At this day and age it’s not strange to find thriller anime with moe artstyles, but as with many of them, The Promised Neverland included, it may prove to be an acquired taste.

The child characters’ big heads and relatively small faces, alongside their noticeable chins might take an episode or two to get used to, even if I personally think they work well against many of the dramatic scenes.

And this brings me to the biggest criticism I have against the series: Krone’s design. She’s a fantastic character, but her general design might carry a few… unfortunate implications, and we’ll it at that. I do think the writing, at the very least, manages to make up for it.

The soundtrack for The Promised Neverland is probably among my favorites in recent memory, and it’s rather surprising considering that the composer, Takahiro Obata, hasn’t done anything of note beforehand; if to believe MAL, it’s actually his first work.

To tell the truth, if this is Obata’s starter work, then it’s a fantastic way to establish himself as a promising new composer.

As with the rest of the show, what makes the soundtrack of The Promised Neverland work so well is its duality. It has many tracks that are cheerful, upbeat and relaxing such as “Like a Refreshing Morning” or “Tag”, and then it slowly creeps into eerie, chilling pieces such as the aptly named “Tight Tension”.

You even have more experimental pieces such as “Examination”, and tracks that could have starred in more action-heavy shows, including “Training For Escape” and Emma’s downright epic theme with its ominous vocals and hard-hitting guitar chords.

And yes, it will be a disservice not to mention the soft, poignant piece that is “Isabella’s Lullaby”, which might very well stand as the soundtrack’s best track. If there’s one track that deserve to return for a second season, it’s this one.

This doesn’t mean the theme songs are bad; on the contrary they’re pretty damn good. “Touch Off” by UVERworld is a fantastic opening theme that combines rock and electronic music. Meanwhile, “Zettai Zetsumei” by Cö shu Nie is a solmen, yet fast-paced rock song that captures the spirit of the series wonderfully.

There is no English dub yet, unfortunately, but this may be for the best as simulcast dubs tend to be of a slightly lower quality than ones released months or years after the series’ original airing. Unsurprisingly, the Japanese dub is excellent, with special note going for Sumire Morohoshi’s Emma, Mariya Ise’s Ray and Maaya Uchida’s Norman.

It’s suffice to say that The Promised Neverland has exceeded my expectations despite lukewarm thoughts prior to its airing. If studio CloverWorks can maintain the quality that they showed in last year’s Bunny Girl and this series, then we may see a new star in the anime industry, and I’d go as far as to say that The Promised Neverland is the kind of anime thriller that every studio would have wished to have it under its belt. A bold claim, that one might be, but given the horror genre’s status in the medium, not an inaccurate one.

The only real gripes I have with The Promised Neverland are its barely-explored setting and art style, but the former is just a temporary issue for sure while the latter only takes an episode or two to get used to. But in most aspect this series soars; it has an excellent story with good pacing, engrossing themes and fantastic characters. Excellent presentation with a slick atmosphere and flexible shifting style. And a glorious soundtrack to boot. The Promised Neverland is easily one of 2019’s best anime titles so far, and a must-watch for anime fans of thriller and horror.

I will rate this Anime 10/10.

GenreDark fantasy, science fiction, thriller
Manga
Written byKaiu Shirai
Illustrated byPosuka Demizu
Published byShueisha
English publisherNA Viz Media
DemographicShōnen
ImprintJump Comics
MagazineWeekly Shōnen Jump
English magazineNA Weekly Shonen Jump
Original runAugust 1, 2016 – present
Volumes16 (List of volumes)
Manga
Oyakusoku no Neverland
Written byShūhei Miyazaki
Published byShueisha
DemographicShōnen
MagazineShonen Jump+
Original runJanuary 11, 2019 – March 28, 2019
Volumes1
Anime television series
Directed byMamoru Kanbe
Written byToshiya Ono
Music byTakahiro Obata
StudioCloverWorks
Licensed byNA Aniplex of America
Original networkFuji TV (Noitamina)
English networkUS Adult Swim (Toonami)
Original runJanuary 11, 2019 – present
Episodes12 (List of episodes)
Live-action film
Directed byYūichirō Hirakawa
Written byNoriko Gotou
StudioToho
ReleasedDecember 2020

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection Anime Movie Review

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection (Japanese: コードギアス 復活のルルーシュ Hepburn: Kōdo Giasu: Fukkatsu no Rurūshu) is a 2019 Japanese anime film by Sunrise. It premiered in Japan on February 9, 2019 and ran in over 120 theatres. It is based on the Code Geass anime series, with the plot taking place after the Zero Requiem arc of the recap films’ universe. It is directed by Gorō Taniguchi, written by Ichirō Ōkouchi with music by Kōtarō Nakagawa and Hitomi Kuroishi, all of whom previously contributed to the TV series in the same respective roles. The film has been licensed by Funimation and it had a limited theatrical release in the United States and Canada on May 5, 2019.

“Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection” is set in the alternate universe which is composed of the 3 previous movies. It is not a sequel to the original series “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, but to the 3 alternate universe movies, which generally kept the same path as the anime series but had a few meaningful changes in characters’ motivations and relationships, and some major changes in the survival of a previously dead secondary character because of the removal of some major events.

Plot

A year has passed since the events of the Zero Requiem, a scheme Emperor Lelouch vi Britannia formulated to end conflict with his death, and Nunnally vi Britannia rules Britannia while aided by her bodyguard Suzaku Kururugi, who has taken the identity of Zero. Nunnally and Suzaku are in the middle of a goodwill visit to a desert nation when they are ambushed by a Knightmare squad; Suzaku is easily defeated and they are abducted. The two find themselves in the custody of Shalio and Shamna, the sibling rulers of the Kingdom of Zilkhistan which has suffered from the world peace crippling their primary export: mercenary soldiers. Shamna explains their plan to use Nunnally to access the collective unconsciousness within C’s World to restore Zilkhistan’s political might.

Suspecting Zilkhistan’s involvement, Kallen Stadtfeld, Sayoko Shinozaki, and Lloyd Asplund infiltrate the country and run into C.C. and a surviving but timid and nonverbal Lelouch. C.C. explains that, after the Zero Requiem, their school friend Shirley Fenette smuggled Lelouch’s corpse to her and that she resurrected Lelouch from the dead by reconstructing his corpse, but his memories and personality are trapped in the collective unconsciousness. The group launches an assault on a Zilkhistan prison, where they rescue Suzaku and discover an Aramu Gate, a portal to C’s World. C.C. uses the portal to fully resurrect Lelouch. Lelouch once again dons the mantle of Zero and meets up with Britannian forces led by his half-sister Cornelia li Britannia and his former lieutenant Kaname Ohgi.

Lelouch’s forces track Nunnally down and find her in a Zilkhistan temple. Lelouch infiltrates the temple and kills Shamna, but she activates her Geass and travels back six hours in the past, allowing her to perfectly predict Lelouch’s actions. Lelouch uses his tactical prowess to deduce the mechanics of Shamna’s Geass and knocks her out. He frees Nunnally, but learns that her mind has been transported into C’s World. C.C. guides him into the collective unconsciousness, and he successfully rescues Nunnally. Suzaku kills Shalio in combat, destroying Shamna permanently. In the aftermath, Lelouch once again bequeaths the title of Zero to Suzaku and departs on a journey with C.C. taking the alias L.L.as his idea of a marriage proposal.

My Personal Thoughts

Not only was it well thought out, it also included characters that I could truly feel connected to. Unlike many other anime titles, Code Geass ended with a well wrapped up conclusion. Though the main character, Lelouch, dies at the end, the ending managed to do justice to the story as well as the characters, providing viewers with a sense of closure.

When news broke about a film adaptation being made, I was skeptical, and even more so when it was teased that Lelouch would return. Though this captured my attention, I didn’t actually think that they would bring back a character whose death provided the perfect ending to the series. I was wrong.

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection really did bring Lelouch back from the dead. The film began where the series left off, with the world at peace, the way Lelouch intended. However, it’s revealed that there’s more to the power of Geass than we, audiences, knew about. We learn, rather early on in the film that Lelouch is indeed alive and well, dragged into a power struggle where he must use his wit and his Geass in order to save his kidnapped sister, Nunnally.

Though the narrative is familiar, the gripping story telling that I saw in the anime series felt lost in the film. The plot felt rushed and appeared to be something set in motion simply to justify bringing Lelouch back to life. This made the story rather lacking in comparison.  However, the film was watchable and in many ways quite enjoyable, particularly in terms of the reunion between characters and watching the ever conniving and cunning Lelouch in action. 

The introduction of new characters and more detail into the various Geass powers illustrated that there was so much more to Code Geass than what the anime series provided. The way in which the narrative flowed also illustrates the creation of opportunities for more Code Geass anime or films to be made in the future, an idea that I particularly am not quite sure I like, due to how well the original anime ended. Often, the perfect ending can be ruined by the addition of more story.

In addition to the delight that came from seeing familiar characters return, it was also a treat to see the knightmare frames in action once again, as are the visual effects that come with them. The animation style was exactly as I recall in the series, which of course gave off a sense of nostalgia and added to my enjoyment of the film. It would have been a lot more epic to watch the action, had there been some epic soundtrack to go with it. 

Nevertheless, I had mixed reactions to Code Geass: Lelouch of the Resurrection. The animation, action and seeing recognisable characters made the film enjoyable, however, the idea of Lelouch’s return, coupled with a rather slow and lacking narrative made it rather frustrating to continue to appreciate Code Geass overall. It would have been much better had they not done a film or perhaps had better pacing and a story that was more captivating.

All in all, the film was an enjoyable watch, but not one that I would be able to watch a second time around. It’ll be interesting, though, to see what’s next for Lelouch and the Code Geass series.

I will rate this Anime Movie 9/10.

Japaneseコードギアス 復活のルルーシュ
HepburnKōdo Giasu: Fukkatsu no Rurūshu
Directed byGorō Taniguchi
Screenplay byIchirō Ōkouchi
StarringJun Fukuyama
Yukana
Takahiro Sakurai
Ayumu Murase
Nobunaga Shimazaki
Wataru Takagi
Keiko Toda
Music byKōtarō Nakagawa Hitomi Kuroishi
CinematographyHiroyuki Chiba
Edited bySeiji Morita
Production
company
Sunrise
Distributed byShowgate
Release dateFebruary 9, 2019
Running time114 minutes
CountryJapan
LanguageJapanese

Home Sweet Home (2017) Game Review

Home Sweet Home is a single-player, first-person survival/horror/puzzle video game. It was developed by Thai developer Yggdrazil Group. The game features horror elements drawn from Thai folklore.

It is available on Windows and on VR devices. The game focuses on the main protagonist Tim. His life has drastically changed since his wife disappeared. One night, he wakes up in an unknown place. While trying to find an exit, he is chased by a female ghost. Players have to discover the mystery in Tim’s house and find his missing wife Jane.

My Personal Thoughts

Home Sweet Home Review – Xbox One – The Gamers’ Temple Home Sweet Home is a first person survival horror developed and published by Thai developer Yggdrazil Group. Right from the start, the most unique part about the game is its setting and overall atmosphere. The entire game is completely based on Thai folklore which is unique for survival horror. The game is the first game in a planned series of games, so it’s rather short – only about 3 – 4 hours of gameplay – but it has some good potential in it and some overall good horror moments that many survival horror fans will be interested in.

You play as a guy that travels to creepy areas from his house. The house is the central location where you wind up in between stages, sort of like the room in Silent Hill 4. While traveling to various locations, you’ll be solving puzzles, finding items and avoiding creepy ghosts in order to advance through the stage. The majority of enemy encounters require stealth. You can hide in lockers or take cover behind objects to hide from ghosts and other creatures that you’ll run into. There is very little way to fight back besides some button tapping when certain ghosts catch up with your character. The puzzles are nothing super complex, but some of them have some nice thought in them. You’ll often find hints for the solution of a puzzle near it, but the game doesn’t flat out give you the solution. There are also many hidden collectibles to find per stage and notes to read. If you’re a fan of good jump scares, you’ll find something to like in Home Sweet Home since it has a good bit of them and some of them are very well done. There are many cheap scares, such as doors that slam and other loud noises, but the game also has some VERY sudden creative scares that really got me at points.

The person that you are playing as is searching for his wife (Jane). The wife will appear many times and suddenly get closed off in an area and you’ll have to solve puzzles or find items in order to gain access to her last location. Sadly, the game’s story and characters are very vague. You only get to learn about what is actually going on through diaries and a few cutscenes. It’s interesting that you actually get to learn more about the enemies in the game rather than the main character and his wife. Considering this is the first game in a planned series, the story to the game has good potential at this point however, so we’ll have to wait and see before truly judging the game’s story.

The graphics are overall good for setting up the game’s creepy atmosphere. You’ll find some areas that have some extremely creepy appearances to them, such as a floor of a building that is completely dark with only one door open with red light coming from it, restrooms full of blood, rooms with spell tablets stuck to walls, etc. The enemies all have their own unique sounds such as the ghost woman that walks around clicking her knife and making white noise sounds.

The game has a few instances of random glitches and overall weirdness. Sometimes the AI enemies in the game would get stuck in certain places. The ghost woman once got stuck moving against a wall while walking around and one time she caught sight of my character and got stuck running against a table while trying to reach me. I also found it very humorous that the only part of your character that can be seen in a mirror is his hand when he’s holding a flashlight. It’s kind of creepy in a way. Toward the end, you play a sequence where you’re armed with a candle and knife and can only see two hands holding both objects when you face a mirror. Having an actual character model would help a bunch with immersiveness for areas with mirrors or just cut out the reflection altogether. I also find it strange how some doors open toward your character and actually clip through your character (well, the floating flashlight hand).

The actual ending to the game goes off with a huge cliffhanger – I literally just stared blankly at the screen for several minutes after the cliffhanger with how shocked I was that the game ended that way. It tells you that the story will continue in “Episode II” directly after the cliffhanger. It would have been so much better if the developers would have had more closure to the first episode rather than leaving so many questions unanswered. The final sequence to the game is quite interesting, but so very cryptic with the way it all ends up. If the next episode(s) of the game can fill us in more on what is going on and add more depth to the characters, this game series could have a good amount of potential, but as a standalone game, Home Sweet Home feels too incomplete to rank high among many other indie horror titles.

The Good:
+ Some really good scares
+ Overall good atmosphere
+ The game shows potential for an overall good series

The Bad:
– The ending has a very bad cliffhanger
– AI glitches here and there
– Overall lack of character development and story

I will rate this game 6/10.

Developer(s)Yggdrazil Group Co., Ltd
Publisher(s)Yggdrazil Group Co., Ltd
Director(s)Saroot Tubloy
Producer(s)Pongtham Nantapan
Designer(s)Pongtham Nantapan
EngineUnreal Engine 4
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
ReleaseMicrosoft Windows 27 September 2017 Playstation 4, XBOX ONE 16 October 2018
Genre(s)Horror-Adventure
Mode(s)Single-Player