Overlord Episode 12: Is This a Game or Reality?
Anime / September 27, 2015

Overlord’s 11th episode, called “The Bloody Valkyrie,” raised as many questions for me as it answered. The episode started with Ainz teleporting to Shalltear’s vicinity with Aura and Mare. Ainz immediately ordered the brother and sister to scout the area for enemies. Since they both carried world-level items, he gave them strict orders to retreat if attacked — the items were worth more than their lives (“…depending on the situation,” Ainz said). Plus, more importantly, their retreat was part of his plan. Failure to follow his orders could throw his goals into disarray. As Ainz prepared to confront Shalltear, he had to admit that he still didn’t know what was going on — or who was behind it. Back at the Great Tomb of Nazarick, Albedo and Cocytus are engaged in an increasingly tense argument with Demiurge. To say the latter was unhappy with the other two allowing Ainz to fight alone would be a profound understatement. At one point, he even suggested that if Ainz fell, that Albedo should step down as supervisor. That prompted Cocytus to accuse Demiurge or blasphemy. But Albedo said that even though she knew that Ainz wasn’t being completely up front with them, that she supported him: “I…

Gate Episode 12: Yao Ha Dushi’s Despair, Itami’s Ascendancy
Anime / September 25, 2015

The last episode of the first season, titled “What Would Itami Do?”, started by giving us a clear understanding of what the fire dragon did to Yao Ha Dushi’s people. To put it succinctly, it massacred them. I’ve always liked Gate’s animation, and I have to say that seeing the dragon ruthlessly burning dark elves to death was almost hard to take. After telling us that 220 of her people died (including her fiancé), the scene cuts to the remaining elders explaining Yao Ha Dushi’s mission to her: bring the green people to help even if she has to use her body to do it. Gate’s always impressed me with its realism. In a sense, this is just another example. But seeing a warrior as proud and strong as Yao Ha Dushi ordered to do this and accepting it even knowing what the mission means (it’s clear she’s no fool) really affected me. The world can be cruel if you don’t surround yourself with the right people. The narratives returned to where Episode 11 left off, with the dark elf approaching the base on Alnus Hill. It almost broke my heart to see her so happy to have found the green people…

Overlord Episode 11: Confusion and Understanding
Anime / September 22, 2015

When we last saw Shalltear, she was in human-appearance mode, slumped over slightly, eyes vacant. That image haunted me all week. She was such a powerful character, so full of life, that seeing her so broken hurt. What did such a state mean for our heroes? This week, the episode begins with Ainz Ooal Gown sitting on his throne in Nazarick. He was lamenting that he thinks he’ll need a god-level item to break whatever spell bound Shalltear. Narberal Gamma, who’s still in the field, reported that key adventurers in E-Rantel are alarmed at the appearance of a vampire nearby, and Ainz immediately recognized the description as Shalltear. This gave him a perfect cover story — he could offer his help as Momon the the adventurer, which meant he could help Shalltear and advance his reputation at the same time. I’m not sure how to interpret what happened next. As Ainz/Momon pitched his idea to face the vampire, one of the adventurers, jealous of Momon’s quickly-earned fame, demanded to go along on the hunt, ostentatiously to prove the vampire is as powerful as Momon claims. In reality, I suspect he wanted to kill Momon and fulfill the mission for his own glory. Momon warned him that if…

Gate Episode 11: Diplomacy in the Special Region
Anime / September 19, 2015

Gate’s balanced presentation has impressed me since episode 1. For example, Gate presents the Self Defense Force (SDF) as capable but not infallible. Also, while they fought the fire dragon, Itami‘s reaction to Tuka’s nudity wasn’t a bloody nose (as I see far too often in anime); he really didn’t even react because they were in the middle of a battle. And in this episode, we see something similar. More on that in a moment. This episode, titled “Visitor,” begins a few months after our heroes returned from Earth. We see Lelei in the refugee camp, now simply a fellow refugee and not the representative of another world. Like the other refugees, she’s going about her daily routine like brushing her teeth and getting ready for the day. A comfortable, peaceful, and bustling town has taken root around the military’s PX, and folks are more or less safe there. Some locals have seen the opportunity to start businesses, so natives and SDF soldiers can buy all sorts of things. It appears our heroes are safe and sound. Then the story switches Princess Pina. After having seen Japan and realizing the insanity of trying to challenge the SDF, she’s working herself to exhaustion to bring about…

Overlord Episode 10: Wow, That’s an Ugly Vampire!
Anime / September 12, 2015

Well, “ugly” is prejudicial. Unexpectedly fierce? Appallingly vicious? I’m struggling to describe how Shalltear Bloodfallen looked to me when she went into full bottle mode in True Vampire, the latest episode of Overlord on FUNimation (or here for information if you’re not a subscriber). Last week’s episode (review here) ended on a shock: Albedo announced that the vampire Shalltear, one of Ainz Ooal Gown’s loyal servants, had turned traitor. This episode starts with a flashback. Sebas Tian and Solution Epsilon, a Pleaides Battle Maid, are on an expedition along with Shalltear to find warriors with promising martial arts to bring back to Nazarick, their base of operations. I thought the episode did a great job building suspense: when was Shalltear going to show signs of rebellion? The narrative really drew me in: I was on edge from the first second! Shelter makes her appearance in a stagecoach with her Vampire Wives, Sebas, and Solution. She showed no signs of treason: she spoke of her desire, even enthusiasm, to fulfill her mission for her lord. She even seemed happy to share her recollection of conversations with the “supreme beings”, which included Ainz and his friends, with Sebas. Would something happen to her in the…

Gate Episode 10: From Cellphones to Strength in Numbers
Anime / September 9, 2015

I hate to admit how much I look forward to watching Gate on Crunchyroll. I kinda feel like someone my age should be yelling at kids to get off my lawn or complaining about the weather. But fortunately, I embrace my affection for anime… The tenth episode of Gate, Despair and Hope, picked up where last week left off. Rory, aroused by the killings near by, made it clear to Itami that if he wasn’t going to let her go on a killing spree, she expected him to relieve her stress in a more personal way. He fought well — I’m not sure how many human men could resist a 971 year old demigod like Rory. I’m not sure I think it’d be safe to say no to her! But Itami’s cell phone broke the mood. The call warned Itami that hostiles from the United States, Russia, and China were about to arrive. If the three groups were surprised to see each other, they were even more surprised to see Rory — who greeted them graciously before ripping them to shreds. We’ve seen Rory in action against the humans from her world. Now, she went up against modern, highly trained special forces. And they…

Overlord Episode 9: The Dark Warrior
Anime / September 7, 2015

I started watching Overlord, streaming on Funimation, late in the season, so I just got caught up. The story begins with the main character playing a server-hosted game that’s about to be shut down. He’s the last of his friends to be online, and he’s determined to stay until the very end, when the hosting company powers down the servers. Except, that doesn’t happen. After the appointed hour, the world’s still intact, except that he can’t log out. Now, I love Sword Art Online and Log Horizon, so I wondered if there was room in the “online world gone awry” trope to keep my interest. After the first episode of Overlord, I found the answer was a resounding “Yes!” As Episode 9 dawns, the main character, who’s attempting to establish the persona Ainz Ooal Gown, and his sidekick Narberal Gamma, have caught up with those responsible for killing their party. Ainz divides the combat: he takes on Lady Clementine, a nasty piece of work that the story has built up to deadly. At the same time, he leaves Zuranon, a warlock aligned with Clementine and determined to drown the world with an undead army, to Narberal. The narrative built up Zuranon…

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