Boruto: Naruto Next Generations – 02

Last week I felt bad for Hinata stuck at home as a housewife and mom when she, Naruto, and their friends once did battle side-by-side on the front lines…but I just might have it all wrong. This peaceful life, both for themselves and for their children, is what they fought for in the first place. But some youngins are restless, and long for a time they probably romanticize since they weren’t even alive for the worst of it.

One such knucklehead, Aino Iwabe, picks on Denki, leading to Boruto challenging him. It’s the second straight week Boruto saves Denki from a bully or bullies, only this week there’s much more emphasis on Boruto as a brat riding his illustrious dad’s coattails. After all, he crashed a train into a mountain and just got a slap on a wrist.

Between that incident, the lenient punishment, Yamanaka Inojin’s shade, and Iwabe’s taunts, Boruto has to work for acceptance by his peers (at least the ones who aren’t Denki or Shikadai). That means the class dismisses itself for a good old-fashioned schoolyard duel.

Boruto is able to keep up, but gets thrashed around quite a bit by the older and clearly more advanced Iwabe. Even Uchida Sarada, who had put up a haughty dismissive front to that point, seems to fret over the outcome of her childhood friend’s fight with the older kid.

In the end, Boruto all but convinces Iwabe that everyone has their individual circumstances, but blaming “the times” for one’s failures, not to mention picking on those weaker than you, is way uncool.

When Iwabe loses his temper and readies an earth-based weapon, he is quickly stopped by Inojin, who despite his earlier shade, gained respect for Boruto for defending Denki and proving through his skills that he’s not simply riding coattails.

When class reconvenes, Iwabe is right there behind Boruto, and they exchange cordial greetings. And Boruto is no longer unpopular, getting lunch invitations from many a classmate. Another peaceful resolution in a peaceful world. No one knows how long such peace will last, but they certainly can enjoy it while it does.

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Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel – 01 (First Impressions)

The Gist: Amatsuki Meguru is a rural island girl who’s moved to Tokyo. She dreams of becoming a super hero. Kisaragi Sumire is a tsundere who’s secretly already a hero fighting power ranger style villains, and she doesn’t seem to like it. There’s a magic hedgehog too, and magic coins, and a transformation sequence, and a boss-bady to defeat right out of the gate.

You can skip KTTA because nothing of remote cleverness happens in it. The plot is completely by the numbers introduction of a magic world and a wide eyed novice quickly stumbling into a place of importance, and a partner who doesn’t want to be a partner. It’s wrapped in a blanket of safe, optimistic characters, acceptable but unremarkable animation and design, and a complete lack of humor.

Wacky friends from left to right — A girl dressed like a lamb who ends every sentence with “bah,” a fortune teller, the ‘normal’ girl… and a Trap.

The Verdict: like many shows this season, Twin Angels isn’t terrible. Rather, it’s built with the minimum necessary effort to make a functional story. It relies heavily on convention but, even though the villain’s minions almost look like they are wearing costumes and explode into sparkles when defeated, there’s no sense of irony or fun here.

Oddly, this is the third show I’ve seen this season about a girl from the country side trying to make it in Tokyo. While that doesn’t have any meaningful impact on the story so far, it’s a weird thread to see repeated. Regardless, I have no desire to watch, let alone review, this show.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations – 01 (First Impressions)

This spin-off of and semi-sequel to Naruto starts at the end, and in a pretty dark place with Naruto’s grown-up son Boruto fighting some baddie among the ruins of Konohagakure. Looks pretty serious and hardcore, but it is only a small taste of what will supposedly come to pass many years hence.

Rewind to when Boruto is just a little punk kid, on the eve of the Academy entrance ceremony. He spots a boy being bullied and later learns his name is Denki and he’ll also be attending the academy, but only because his father is making him as part of his duty as heir to the family business empire. Boruto can probably relate to dad’s casting long shadows, as his own is none other than the Seventh Hokage.

Back home we check in on Boruto’s little sister Himawari and his mom and Naruto’s wife Hinata. Seems like a nice enough house but if I recall correctly Hyuuga Hinata was and is a pretty large badass kunoichi, and frankly looks rather bored looking after the ol’ homestead while Naruto is buried under paperwork at Hokage HQ. But this show ain’t about the parents; they had their time in the limelight…fifteen years and 720 episodes’ worth, to be precise.

Naturally Boruto and Denki don’t simply arrive at the opening ceremony on time and get on with classes, because that wouldn’t be that exciting. Instead, Denki’s bitterness at being rejected by his dad causes him to be possessed by an evil aura, which Boruto is able to see with his trick right eye.

Denki sets it up so the bullies will get killed in a head-on collision of two trains (built and run by his dad’s company). Boruto gets him to snap out of it and cast off the evil aura, and with Boruto uses his clones’ combined reach to pull the switch that avoids the collision. Everybody’s safe and sound, and both Denki and the bullies learn a lesson and bond a little through their shared ordeal.

With that, all that’s left is to get to the ceremony on time, and Boruto and Denki just make it, by making one hell of a ridiculous entrance, aboard the derailed train car, which crashes into the side of Naruto’s face. Not his real face, but the colossal stone face carved into the mountain with the other Hokage. Symbolism, much?

This week is the Boruto & Denki show, sprinkled with a bit of Nara Shikadai, with naught but a cameo by Sakura and Sasuke’s daughter Sarada. The episode gets the job done: introducing the title character, demonstrating his considerable but still very-raw abilities and very familiar personality, and giving him a mission-of-the-week to carry out with Denki.

I’ll admit to dropping Naruto: Shippuden about two years in after completing Naruto, but there’s a nice fresh-start feel about Boruto, a newly-revamped take on an old, familiar world. The production values are higher than I remember (granted, back when Naruto started there was no widescreen or HD). It’s nothing fancy, and is by definition unoriginal, but there’s a inscrutable easy watchability to it nonetheless. Whether you’re a big fan of the franchise, a complete noob, or somewhere in between like me seeking ‘shounen comfort food’, it’s worth a quick glance.

DAYS – 12

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The Gist: Tsukamoto’s kick goes wide at Seiseki loses the game, and is out of the tournament. Everyone is devastated and eventually cries and resolves to win in the next tourney.

Kazama is most effected because he doesn’t understand the emotion of caring and he hates it, but loves that he finally cares about a team. Tsuka and Tsundere-chan are maybe a couple now, having shared a meal and spilled tea on the table. The other first years are jealous…

The Verdict: I am officially surprised Days pulled such an utterly generic mid-show twist. However, for such an average show, the lack of a payoff for all Seiseki’s hard work totally kills my interest for watching more.

Kazama’s emotional response was well delivered, true, but man do I not care enough about any of this to want to sit through 6 episodes of ‘building back up’ to a show down episode. Not after a quarter of the season was dedicated to ONE game. Yuck.

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DAYS – 11

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The Gist: Tsukamoto finally takes the field and his buffoonery immediately lightens the mood. Refreshed and reinforced, Seiseki puts on serious pressure and the Kazama/Tsuka duo proves too much for Saku High to beat.

However the episode ends tied 2 to 2 with under five minutes to spare. Presumably Seiseki will win it, based on next week’s preview but a cliff hanger is a cliff hanger.

The Verdict: Oy! With the opening being dedicated to recaps and the cliff hanger, this single game will have taken essentially 4 of the season’s episodes. That’s an awful lot for a relatively average looking sports show — and even with all the time given to building up this single rivalry, I still don’t know half of the cast by name, nor have a strong connection with anyone other than Tsuka and Kazama.

And really that’s a shame because a more competent hand could probably do s lot with what’s here to work with. The under dog protagonist has a dead dad and a crippled mother and his best friend is an abandoned child who’s only self value was his talent for soccer — that still didn’t stop his family from abandoning him. It’s got honest drama at stake… but not so much going on screen.

oy!

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DAYS – 09

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The Gist: Sakuragi and Seiseki play about 2/3 of their game this week. Neither has the true upper hand. Tsukamoto spends the episode sitting on the sideline to absorb some general pointers from the coach (or not). We learn a little more about some of the players and Kazama develops a bit more — to the point of getting his face smashed in to save the day.

It may be surprising that Nozomi wasn’t even in the episode and that the crowd shots were all ‘nobody’ NPCs chattering about pretty much nothing. Not a lot actually happened and the budget constraints of animating soccer made that extra painful.

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The Verdict: while it actually breaks with expectations by not resolving the match within the 1.5 episodes I anticipated, the result was not particularly noteworthy. Lots of time was spent on internal monologs, or with Tsuka crying on the sideline.

We just don’t have enough of a relationship with the team to be invested in this week’s struggle, which is only compounded by meeting the upper classmen — the people who play on the team — several episodes after the first years who do not play on the team.

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DAYS – 08

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The Gist: we finally meet Tsukamoto’s wheel-chair mom Nozomi, who’s 86 lbs, blood type A, specializes in Origami and likes children and caramel sauce. She worries that her feminine son has no friends and or is being bullied in school.

However, Tsuka gets a ton of texts from his friends before the big game and she comes to realize, like his father, who’s funeral was full of friends, Tsuka’s gonna be okay…

Then it’s time for Seiseki High to face off against Sakuragi Metropolitan for the inter-high finals that will determine who represents Tokyo in the regionals. Brooding and speeches and a few throw away jokes about Tsuka not being allowed into the match because the guards think he’s a middle schoolers eat up most of that time, which leaves next week for the actual match…

The Verdict: This was absolutely paint by the numbers as far as sports dramas go. It’s all about the big game and raising our expectations for that games’ outcome. Since it’s mid-season, I can only assume Seiseki will win next week because of some Tsuka juice but the other outcome would be to crush their spirits and force them to train for the next tourney. (chosen by shows like Haikyuu!!) I find this unlikely, because enthusiasm and ‘raw untrained tallent’ isn’t at the core of this team. So a reload wouldn’t really do anyone (except Tsuka himself) any good.

Regardless of next week’s outcome, this week wasn’t very interesting. Rather, it was completely what you would expect by the genre and uneventful. Not even the smile-moment where Tsuka’s mom see’s his texts really made an impression. She’s been introduced too late as a motivation and too slap-sticky to take serious.

Also, nice ‘dead dad’ out of left field Days. WTH?

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Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Gist: Usami Mizuki has a crush on fellow art club member Subaru but he’s obsessed with creating the perfect 2D waifu. The club has a lazy president and also a girl who never shows up… except she’s actually always there, just observing everyone silently from the art locker.

Usami draws fruit. Subaru draws waifus. Usami experiences several cliched ‘unrequited love’ scenes with Subaru, who’s indifference to her feelings is almost funny. Almost. Usami occasionally becomes well animated and violent. Not much else happens.

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There is no reason you would enjoy KBnwMgA. It vaguely resembles Nozaki-kun, but with less likable characters and weaker comedic timing. The music is classic disney background filler — up beat but mindless.

There’s no sense of time and space either because we only experience these characters ‘after school’ save for one flashback to when Usami and Subaru met at the beginning of the year. Usami even has an emotional ‘crying that Subaru is leaving the club’ moment at the end of the episode… but we’ve had so little time with these characters, and she has so little reason to even like Subaru (he’s a jackass) that the scene is rendered emotionally pointless.

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example of an odd choice: the girl in the locker (above) is not revealed to the cast during the episode. This means we never get a ‘joke’ about her being in there…

The Verdict: You’ve seen everything here done better before. The resulting show makes you anxious for something interesting to happen and irritated when nothing but cliches do happen.

Somehow the humor doesn’t break through the monotenous music and minotenous love story and, without humor, there is no real point. It isn’t terrible but it is so utterly without personality I found it very hard to watch and for that reason, I can’t even give it an average score. (there’s not even a genre you may like that could justify setting aside time to give it a pity watch)

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Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars – 01 (First Impressions)

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Sisters Yui and Rena live a peaceful life in the kingdom of Enastoria, but they become involved in a vortex of destiny when a giant robot challenges Rena, who must reveal her true nature as the non-human core of the Regalia Magna Alecto. Yui stays by her side and together the sisters defeat the bad guy.

After watching Regalia’s first effort, my quest to find original Summer 2016 action/sci-fi/mecha shows continues to be unfruitful (Zestiria aside).

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While the strong sisterly bond is appealing, the motivations of Rena in this first episode—i.e. so quickly abandoning Yui to fight on her own—felt a bit forced.

The mecha designs are bland and chunky, the overall animation is merely average, and the bad-guy-of-the-week is laughably subpar, simply yelling a bunch of stuff before being taken down.

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More than anything, there’s the strong scent of the familiar all over Regalia, from the fact one character is an empress and the other the product of science/mysticism, to the extremely uninspiring mecha battle. Even the title of the show sounds generic.

Regalia doesn’t do anything offensively bad, but it doesn’t offer anything exciting or new that would hook me. And so, with a handful of new shows left to watch, my search continues.

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