Tag Archives: Fall 2014 Season

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 17

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I couldn’t believe the voice I was hearing.  Rukia Kuchiki of popular shonen series BLEACH?  Wow.  This is definitely a step up for her than some of the roles she has taken on in the past–  Lady of Devil May Cry and Shizuka from Vampire Knight.  Lately she’s picked a lot of more subdued roles and it’s paid off really well.

Yuuta’s mother is really naive in believing that her son is going to get better after receiving the medicine from Ginko THAT quickly.  This proves up-close how the people throughout this series are unaware that mushi can harm someone close to them.

I really like the relationship between the mother and the son here–  Yuuta having this delayed speech on top of having a calm demeanor goes to show how different he is from the very woman that raised him.  The struggle isn’t that he’s able to swim incredibly well and not able to run on land, that he gets thirsty all the time and has webbed fingers by the mushi’s desire to live but that he is farther away from his mother than he ever has and it’s Ginko that emerges this fact to her.

Family relationships and how this can make such an impact on a story–  if I recall I might’ve mentioned this before about a previous episode of Zoku Shou.  It is these personal connections like Yuuta and his mother here that make for a devastating blow to the viewer by the ending.  This was not a happy ending at all–  as we’ve had a lot of them of the course of Zoku Shou.  Mushishi often times doesn’t stray away from telling a dark story around light-hearted visuals.  The backgrounds were some of the best this series has to offer–  especially towards the second half of this episode where the rainstorm arrives and Yuuta wants nothing more than to be a part of it.  Two aspects here–  the curiosity of a child that wants to belong somewhere and the second being the guidance of the mushi Uko.

Mushishi constantly excels at not only being genuine in its atmosphere but its development in the characters.  Without a doubt this episode chose set the focus onto the mother and her own personal issues–  she mentions how she doesn’t want trouble and this is due to losing her husband that ultimately started this entire mess with her unborn son at the time.  She doesn’t want Yuuta to drown like she did years ago only to relive the pain that she felt after the death of her husband.

I’m not sure who the episode director on this was but they did a phenomenal job at placing the past segment about her near-death experience at the end.  Especially since Yuuta has already disappeared–  which isn’t exactly explained how but the aftermath was powerful here.  She regrets what happened and blames everything on herself for losing Yuuta, but in actuality this reflects what this episode was trying to say.  In the middle of this story, there is this touching moment between her and Yuuta where they have this discussion about where rain, clouds, and the sea comes from–  she responds with how they may look different but they are the same.  Amazing parallel to what Yuuta truly is–  as Ginko describes if an Uko goes within a embryo than it becomes more than a frog or a newt than a human.

The last few lines were bittersweet in that she slowly is coming to terms with her son’s disappearance and that he has become one with water–  part of the sea, the clouds, the river, looking different and not there physically by her side but will be remembered as just like the other kids.  That the huge underlining truth that this episode was progressing towards here is that Yuuta will always be her son.  He lived.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 16

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The animators at ARTLAND did wonderfully at creating the mirror-like world that Izumi is lost in.  The Light Vein makes another return here and it was just as beautiful as it had been before in previous episodes.  However, it’s used in quite a different way than when young Ginko encountered it previously.

Izumi locks away her memories and rests in the light vein and when Ginko arrives in the mysterious world this slowly gives the viewer the occult detective perspective this slow-paced story needed to lift off.  For in regards to the house, the doll among other aspects of her being are gradually getting realized to the viewer that things are out of balance or rather in this case misplaced literally and figuratively.

Mizuho was probably the best character here because what introduces her is the doll that connects both sisters.  A bond between sisters just like a bond between friends from the last episode we had, tons of parallels here seem to remain.  Great to see, because we now can get a glimpse at how far Ginko can go at helping humans.  To Mizuho, she is looking for her doll that has been moved by Izumi, in her mind she hopes of reuniting with her sister once again.

Incredible sound effects especially when Ginko materializes between worlds and when the family calls out to Izumi from the well and smoke flies upward.  Kiyotaka Kawada, sound effects engineer for numerous series including Nighthead GenesisAku no Hana and the most recent being Akame ga Kill!, however this series is miles ahead from any other work he has ever done.  Helps that there very strong story around a relaxing style of animation.  Also want to point out the sound effects from the rocks covering up the mushi in the well– such amazing sound right there!

If I recall from any episode we’ve ever had of Mushishi, there is a theme by the end of this that plays out from the very beginning of the first season of Mushishi and now this episode–  in order to save someone you have to have the desire or in the supernatural world this show has built itself around a belief that those that have been afflicted by a mushi can return home.

Powerful, because right at the get-go the father has a skepticism about Ginko’s methods and even his profession–  mushi don’t exist.  This did allow for a lot more drama to pull through and is what saves Izumi’s life and in an emotional sense Mizuho to believe what she’s been doing all this time–  hide and seek with the doll between Izumi–  very genuine.

A theme real quickly I want to point out here that I’ve noticed from this second half of Zoku Shou is ‘curiosity’.  Izumi returns to the well after having been stuck in a world that is not her own away from her family and at the very end gazes at the glowing mushi flying up from the well and out of the pipe.  Almost as if it’s a last glimpse at an obscure journey that has ended for her and one that she will talk about for the rest of her life.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 15

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Mushishi has always been strong with its pacing and this episode was no different!  THIS IS HOW to tell a story that switches time periods!  Starting off with a temperamental young boy Gen beating up kids bigger than him to a baby being nurtured by his ill mother, Yui and later on raised by his father.  The creators took this opportunity to adapt this chapter by Urushibara and escalate it.  Gen’s behavior depicts so much without outright saying it: he has some deep-ridden issues about his mother by not being allowed to see her.  As most of what he’s held onto turns out be some well-placed discoveries in the end. One part of this towards the beginning is where his father’s worries touches on a a pretty big idea here:  keeping secrets in order to protect both Gen and Yui from getting worse.

Punching the blanket and knocking things over on top of him discovers the curiosity that he has somewhat lost as a child and it’s the mushi’s influence during this first segment that develops a certain kind of mystery within Gen:  as he says he shouldn’t be allowed to see it and touch it.  Great follow up to circle the story by using Ginko’s introduction into this episode remembering how he gave aid to Gen when he was just a baby.  Ginko already knows that Gen has a strong affinity to the mushi and this ended up being a nice transition into the mother making the robe of a golden string a mushi string that is.

Very subdue story we had here and I really like what the development how the mother, Yui turns out in this.  She’s just as curious about the string as Gen was about the robe he found in the beginning:  her spinning the thread and the other villager being unable to see it really put this into perspective.  Her eyes glowing a tint of yellow illustrates this as well–  beautiful animation!  Yes!  Another episode where a mushi affects the personal relationships a family has with each other–  Yui being unable to tend to her baby’s health because she is ill sets into motion the feeling of regret she carries on through the present time.

The removal of the thread as Ginko describes as ether just as the previous episode had used Sumi, Yura and the stream to tie in visually a strong bond.  Good connection between these two episodes.  This thread results in what happens to Gen as he get’s older which we get a really good view at the beginning:  beating another kid up.  This emotional momentum that is pent up inside Gen finally breaks free when he hears the conversation between Ginko and his father discussing Yui’s situation.  Exposing the bigger picture that’s gradually unfolding within the family.

The spirit that is shown flying around in the sky above Gen happens to be Yui and by the end here provides one of the happiest outcomes of the second half of Zoku Shou.  Yui held regrets and her illness getting worse, whereas Gen throughout this episode felt his mom hated him when in actuality its the opposite.  Bringing a mother and son together allows so much to happen in the final minutes of this episode.  Gen saves Yui’s life with the ether and dissolves the mushi from further becoming a part of Yui while she frees him from the loneliness he had been subjected to all this time.  The lashing out throughout this story emphasizes this point incredibly well, and I love that scene at the end where he’s seen running and laughing with the other kids.  Fantastic resolution for this mushishi episode!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 14

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The bonds that tie humans together are sometimes the best kinds of stories to have–  especially when this idea is used for an episode of Mushishi.  I love this series, and it’s a series that I’ve missed for a long time after having such a long absence between the first season.  Great to have this series back!  Not a series for everyone as anyone that is looking for action-based anime series will not find that here.  This is a calm and relaxing series that is ultimately rewarding by the end and the story here emphasizes this idea of human relationships quite well!

A young girl Sumi is able to feel the presence of her close friend Yura by the influence of a mushi.  Worrying her father embellishes the family relationship that this story contains in enhancing the small town around it.  Reflects a lot of the episodes we had in the first half of this series–  Mina and her father from episode two, the sake brewer story in the first episode.  Probably the strongest link to this episode has to be the special OVA from January about the two sisters and the sun-eating shade.  Tons of parallels across these widely different episodes gives the viewer a larger look into Ginko himself and how he understands mushi and the connections humans have with each other and the supernatural.

The stream that runs through the village illustrates the connection portion of this amazingly well.  The mushi, Kairogi living in the consciousness of humans that have ether.  Neat concept to use here–  the parallel here is that the stream conveys a message to the viewer visually that the Kairogi‘s host can send thoughts to anyone.

What I liked a lot about this episode is how it carries this weight that the Kairogi can affect Yura without much done on her part–  she doesn’t understand what Sumi is doing since she isn’t with her and while being apart turns out to be the main focus of this friendship she herself can still feel what Sumi’s thinking.

Yearning to sever ties with her for being stuck in feeling everything that Sumi’s feeling pushes this slow-pacing tale further.  By bringing in the father’s thoughts to Yura enveloping the entire connection through the whole town by using a set of dreams that villagers end up having at the very end.  Portrays this etherial side to the mushi that I had not really noticed until the fog scene at the end of this shows up.  Great imagery there to bring not just the villagers together but Yura and Sumi and the inevitable long-lasting bond they share.

This was a spectacular episode and it is really going to be tough on picking my Top 10 Best Anime Series of 2014, Top 10 Best directed episodes, and even best endings.  Great story here with stunning visuals and a soothing soundtrack!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Kiseijū: Sei no Kakuritsu Episode 12

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The staff we had in this episode was rather unique in everyone seemed to switch roles.  The general director of this series Kenichi Shimizu handling the storyboard of this episode and Yamashiro Chie moving away from adapting this series into the director’s chair here.  This was an issue of placing the right staff into the right spots at developing an episode.  As I’ve got to admit this was the weakest episode of Kiseijū I have seen yet and not a great way to end the first half.

The source material to this was fantastic because it moved at such a sluggish pace but here it felt rushed as if the creators were trying to establish Kana’s end situation against the parasite by rushing Kana’s movements towards Shinichi throughout this episode to a sudden climax.  Resulting in her death.

This is a prime example of where having a New Years break can hurt a 2-cour series’ progression–  having said that I think it was the fact that the staff happen to be in all the wrong roles here in designing this episode as the manga chapters to this were fantastic and this episode seemed loose because of it.

Shinichi has constantly told Kana to stay away from the people that she is able to notice with her perception abilities but I felt like this was over emphasized here to great lengths.  However one good point of this episode is that Migi hasn’t changed all that much from previous episodes in that he is still very weary of Shinichi interacting with other humans in questioning whether or not the truth should be brought up about his hand and the other parasites.  Its a reoccurring theme that has played out since the third episode and cannot shake this idea that more people will die from it.

More over Shinichi and Migi do learn about the group that Goto is somewhat leading in trying to control food sourcing.  This turns out to be a smart move to shift the plot in the middle of the episode away from all the focus on Kana.  Keeping in mind that what happens to Kana here takes a toll on Shinichi and ultimately brings up a theme that this show has been asking since his mother stabbed him in the heart.  What is it that makes us human?  To signify this point even more is the affect it has on Mitsuo and how he has been unable to tell Kana how he feels about her.  He likes her and its quite noticeable to the viewer but not so much to Kana as she is obsessed with Shinichi and his peculiarity.  This was a nice touch to add as this first half arrives to a stopping point.

The animation was top notch here and as rushed as this episode had been the team over at Madhouse did a wonderful job at modernizing a story that is around 27 years old.  Especially when Shinichi ran through that parasite and snatched his heart, such fluid animation!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10

Kiseijū: Sei no Kakuritsu Episode 11

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It has been a couple of weeks since I’ve talked about this series, I haven’t forgotten it one bit.  It’s a fantastic look at an 80’s manga series that uses a modern style:  animation is bright, Shinichi wears glasses in the beginning which in the manga if I remember doesn’t at all and the music stands out:  dubstep by Ken Arai.  The soundtrack is out for this and I could not have asked for a better collection of anime music as it is very unique in terms of your traditional style of sound in the anime world.  I finished the manga to this and it was just as people have been telling me:  very very good.  Now I can’t wait to see what the creators do to animate the rest of this!

Kana’s dream sequence was a really nice start after the introduction of two new parasites prior to the opening to this show that gives us this wide view of her character.  The love she has for Shinichi and her innate ability at detecting other parasites without really knowing exactly what they are.  Monsters that follow her and a knight in shining armor that resembles Shinichi with a sword-like hand that rides in on horseback to save the day–  I laughed when I saw this simply because this is this is a good vision of how a horror series would be if it were cheesy shonen anime.  This also touched on her constant inquiries about Shinichi being someone that is not human:  the result is that he allows her to pluck a few hairs out of his head, good thing Migi is in his hand and heart and not in his head.  Great idea to recap a slight detail from the previous episode into this one here with that idea.

The dream was also undeniable proof of things to come especially with the introduction of Goto and his annihilation of the Yakuza and interest into integrating with the human society.  Would like to point out that the seiyu of Goto is the same voice of Gilbert from Masterpiece Theatre’s Akage no Anne from the late 70’s into the early 2000’s.  Wonderful casting job here.

After witness the slaughter here he’s much more vicious than any other parasite antagonist Shinichi has ever faced and was a great transition into going towards the second half of Kiseijū and its new cast.  Best fight I’ve seen for this series so far as it finally shows us the terror of a parasite at close range between a group of humans.  Shimada killed a class 3-3 but none of it was really shown so it was nice to finally have a scene like this brought into the open to the viewer here.  Also want to point out that what Goto was testing with the Yakuza very much establishes the main plot of this show to life and full circle from the first episode.  An alien invasion.

The shapeshifting portion of this proves once again that these creatures aren’t to be taken lightly, even by the end here as Shinichi is trying to maintain a level-head and keeping everyone that he knows safe after two massacres at his school.

Glad that Murano and Shinichi are in a relationship now and have a real date without the hinderance of another parasite provides the realistic nature this show chooses to neglect with its other-wordly plot and incongruous soundtrack: smart move here.

The transition here was absolutely perfect where a distraught kid is about to be slapped for crying right in front of Shinichi’s date with Murano–  really reflects the time he had with his own mom and what he’s lost due to his transformation beyond human and parasite.  Those quick flashback segments were ridiculously good and a nice build up to what occurs here at the very end.  Migi’s discovery of new parasites towards this gradual tension to another cliffhanger of meeting Kana there and being noticed by Goto.  The up-close face sequence of him highlighted on screen was that the same animator of the Shiki opening?

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Mushishi Zoku Shou Episode 13

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Ringing in the new year with another Mushishi post.  I was hoping that I could finish up with the Fall 2014 season before January 1st but that does not seem likely.  However I do hope to at least continue on through these posts and once I get to a good stopping point I will discuss the Top 10 2014 Anime series and anime series that I will be covering for the Winter 2015 Season.  I hope that all of you are enjoying your New years and look forward to seeing what 2015 will bring us.

Mushishi is back again and week after week it continues to be one of the most surreal series I have ever seen.  This time with a young girl Akane having gone missing due to the confrontation with a shadow-like mushi that involves Ginko in a rather comedic turn of events at the start.  The music has also been strikingly different and if I recall this is the first time in Zoku Shou that presents itself with a light-hearted story about an older married couple and the relationship they’ve carried together for years including its deep secrets whether they can be remembered or not.

The previous story was about a man reliving his life through a winding tunnel mushi only to forget the most important aspects of his own life, and here is where the author’s point about forgetfulness comes across here in a rather vastly distinct style.  Mikage cannot remember a lot of her past from when she was a child but it’s Youkichi that bears the heavy burden of knowing in his heart that Akane the girl she loved from so long ago disappeared and now ends up spending his life with the suddenly appeared young girl Mikage.

Fast forwarding to the present brings us to  Youkichi’s discovery by Ginko about the Oomagadoki–  the featuring mushi of this episode that only appears at dusk and anyone that is sucked in by it switches places with its shadow.  This is the reason why Akane has lost her physical body and Mikage replaces her.  It took me two viewings of this to catch on that Mikage struggles with remembering her past about Akane ONLY at dusk which portrays an out-of-body experience traversing across time and space for the two of them.  The mushi throughout this  season especially have been able to establish a connection of strange occurrences within humans;  however this time around its more-so a reflection of the humans’  past that sway that ambitions or rather motives or these supernatural beings.  Also, I think it really helps that the animation has remained the same since the first season to get this huge idea across.

One huge impact this has on this episode most notably is how the past figuratively can cast a long shadow onto this married couple and the feelings of remorse that acts as weight for the two of them.  In the literal sense, it’s Akane’s shadow that creates a rather physical meaning that rests in the back of Mikage’s mind and without question in the village.  Perhaps this is also why there is so much influence of mushi affecting the other villagers having ailments as we see Ginko curing them of old knees that ache.

Really like how Youkichi has buried deep within in his heart a set of tightened feelings of regret regarding Akane which right at the end here reaches its peak potential!  He visits Mikage’s grave after some time has passed and notices Akane’s shadow only to step on it as she’s running away from him so that she may live for all the time she’s lost.  This plays out spectacularly well because Youkichi has already lived a full life with Mikage and by removing himself from the physical world he will absolve himself of any blame he feels of living with the very woman that stole Akane’s:  giving her a chance to feel very much alive in the way that mushi do every episode of Mushishi.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS [75/100]

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If someone asked me to define this series in one word I would have to say “entertaining”.  As this is exactly what this show was trying to do, it didn’t follow most adventure anime series with it’s incessant scenes of sexuality, deus-ex machina like how BLEACH or even Naruto suffers from at times, but MAPPA succeeded in bringing a japanese-based card game series to life!

Shingeki almost feels at times not like anime in the way it pushes tons of Pirates of the Caribbean ideas around the supernatural aspect that the card game is known for–  demons and angels at war with each other where the humans of this story are used as pieces of entertainment for them.

For the most part this series was well-paced and coming from Gegege no Kitaro season 5’s script writer Keiichi Hasegawa this was like an entirely different realm for him that worked out well for his repertoire.  Without a doubt though episode 3 was one of the best episodes that used necromancers in introducing Miyuki Sawashiro’s Rita as a main cast member by building up the town around her in such a darkly and grisly-defining way.

Also, if any of you recall me mentioning how the music to this is more film-quality like than you’ll understand how many similarities it has to Karas’ score and Tiger & Bunny’s collection of orchestral pieces.  It’s strong and hard-hitting that allow the emotional scenes of this series to really carry over and IKE is great at pulling this off!  While the staff of this consisted mainly of the same creators that worked on Karas and Tiger & Bunny this worked out in their favor for a lot of the episodes but what has surprised me the most was the voice acting–  Go Inoue’s performance as Kaisar provided a style of insecurity in upholding his family name while having his lackluster scenes against Space Dandy Meow’s Hiroyuki Yoshino as Favaro.

However, the best seiyu of this is a tie between Rita’s Miyuki Sawashiro and how much she was able to downplay the role with subtle remarks about her zombie nature.  The other being Martinet’s Kenjiro Tsuda–  an accomplished seiyu that reminds me somewhat of what Johnny Depp does in his roles as a film actor.  Versatile in giving voices to a wide-range of characters that give off an oddball yet mysterious sound to enhance each anime personality, and Shingeki was no different: given that Martinet was a maniacal human tampering in the affairs between demons, angels and of his own kind.

Not everything in this series shined as there were episodes in the middle part that seemed to take a backseat to the adventurous ride that focus on Favaro and Amira’s journey to Helheim.  The actual card capturing had only been shown at least three times in this series and as much as I enjoy the trick that Favaro and Kaisar pull on Martinet in the finale with it I can say it should have been more prevalent in this series considering how it uses source material from this very idea.

More of the world could have been expanded here and the traveling side of things should have been explored to great length in not just establishing the relationships between Favaro and Amira constantly escaping Kaisar’s clutches but in how the other side-lined demons could handle situations as they arise.  Colorful animation in the scenes of the underworld and in the skies with the demons and angels but when it comes to plot development not much remains to be enhanced.

However putting the gripes I had with this if you are looking for a series that is short but fun and fluid in its animation then look no further than Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS!  Animation by Zankyou no Terror and Sakamichi no Apollon’s studio MAPPA brings a style all its own here that gives off this idea that sometimes anime stories can be something leaps and bounds separate than the action/adventure anime series of the norm.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: [75/100]

Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS Episode 12 [END]

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The swashbuckling adventure series by MAPPA finally comes to a close and this could have been one of the most satisfying 1-cour endings we could have had.  It tied everything together wonderfully here especially by hardening the fact that Lavalley and Martinet are the same person.

While it might not have been the most creative way to utilize Lavalley as the final villain here but it did work out in terms of pushing this story at a quicker pace in such a limited amount of time.  Even Bahamut who was the main crux of Shingeki was able to handle Beelzebub to such effect that Azazel could redeem himself–  giving his character closure.  Speaking of wrapping up the people in this series Kaisar turns out to be one of the strongest characters in this–  he shoots his friend Favaro and ends up freeing him from his manipulative and somewhat comedic lying which reflects with the expression on his face towards Amira at the end.

The duel between them ends up being what Shingeki is trying to convey as a genre–  a stage play.  Two bandits on a journey both of self-discovery to fill their own desires and yet they come across tons of fantastical obstacles that ensures this series as highly entertaining.  Would like to see the same staff including the director here write an anime for the Brothers Grimm because that is definitely what I got from this finale.  When Kaisar gets his hand cut off by Favaro it really displayed the strong bond they share as friends and more notably how this friendship matures as the story moves along.

One of the few parts of this I could not seem to grasp was how little Bacchus and the duck Hamsa were shown throughout this and finally they receive the screen time to actually do something useful–  this is where this show could have improved and where the finale lacked substance as we had a small amount of detail known about these two characters.

Amira stuck within Bahamut accepts the amazing journey she had with Favaro and their own bond they share–  an adventurous love.  The kiss signifies this point to a large extent even where she appears from Bahamut’s eye and disappears into it depicting this idea of the “eye of the beholder” both literally and figuratively towards Favaro.

Nonetheless this was a conclusion to me that was delightful, beautiful to the viewer’s eye and a whimsical action anime series that aims at delivery themes that hits all the right notes on friendship, love, good versus evil and the supernatural.

Also if the ending card sequence of “I’ll be back” rings true than we might see another season of this sometime in the future!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 8/10

Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS Episode 11

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This series has surprised me yet again!  Scriptwriter Masanao Akahoshi probably pulled off one of his strongest plot threads with this episode by allowing Jeanne useful as a demon, Kaisar’s  courageous attempt at saving Amira only to fall about 4 times and Azazel is the one who saves him.

We’re finally getting to the climax of this show and at the brink of Bahamut getting revived–  I am impressed that the episode director here utilized Jeanne’s fighting skills to their full potential by killing angels Raphael, Uriel and Michael.  The very angels that pressed on the belief that Jeanne was going to become the savior throughout all the land and here is where it gets entirely reversed!  Paving the way for Bacchus to fight against her–  proving his usefulness as well.

I hope that this show receives another season because while a few episodes towards the middle had been lackluster for the most part it’s been a fun series to watch!  Also want to point out how Karas composer Yoshihiro IKE is channeling his orchestral pieces into film quality here–  especially with the scene between Michael dying in the human returned Jeanne and the fantastic fight between demon Favaro and Kaisar resulting in him getting shot right into the chest by his very own arrow.

One thing I cannot seem to understand and a character change that felt abrupt is why Lavalley pushes Kaisar off the cliff [what is this the fifth time he’s fallen in this single episode?] only to celebrate in the revival of Bahamut.  Hope this ends well after seeing THAT reveal and this plot development doesn’t blow up in their faces for the finale.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10