Today begins what could be seen as a new era on this website, starting with the two-hundred-word daily blog, which will focus on life and art and is likely inspired by David Lynch’s weather report on youtube. Now to let you know what is happening: I am making a comic book, which I hope to have on sale soon, and I’m also learning how to animate while doing other things. I will also be warming up the artistic muscles by producing a thirty-minute-or-less sketch every day, with the plan of posting it here and on Instagram, whether I like the end result or not. We’ll call it a personal challenge. And as some of you also know, I haven’t written a review since July of this year, with my last post being the final episode of the anime called Super Cub. The Reviews will be back again, but not weekly. Although there have been some great shows, movies and games that I would love to talk about here when the time is right. I have also, more or less, quit social media, so I will be documenting that in the days and weeks to come. Everyone, have a great day!
I’ll also get this thirty minute daily sketch started with picture of Lulu from Final Fantasy X & X-2.
Well, here we are. The last episode of Super Cub. Just to let you know, there will be spoilers ahead. Afterwards, I will give my final opinions and a star rating. So let us begin.
The sun is up as Koguma opens the window to reveal a chill in the air. She remarks that far away cherry blossoms are in bloom. Now – the cherry blossoms were going to arrive where they were soon. But the girls all decided that they wanted to see them in winter for a change. This journey also adds to Koguma as a person. Other than the school trip and staying over at Reiko’s house, this will be her furthest trip away from home. After arriving at Buerre to see Reiko and Shii already there, the goal is set: To claim the season of Spring earlier. With this, the opening credits roll.
In Buerre, the girls drink their first coffee of the day. Shii’s father gives them a loaf of Komisbrot – the rye bread of the soldiers. After some reassurance and jokes, they depart. While travelling, the colour saturation increases – suggesting a moment of pleasure among the group. We get a small montage of their journey. For once, Shii does no screaming. They make a stop within the first hour of the trip – as a means of preventing the ‘Devil’s sixty minutes’ from kicking in. This is when trouble of the Cub can happen, and checking parts after the first hour can prevent problems down the line. Another journey montage happens as we see them ride through at least two towns before stopping for coffee. We see why Koguma planned the route they were taking. It was so that Shii can have a look at different cafes and teahouses. For notes, when she runs her own business. They eventually stop for lunch when the show, don’t tell, aspect of the programme suggested Shii needed the bathroom. Koguma says she will not squander money – but Shii offers lunch by preparing the Rye Bread with cream cheese and smoked salmon. On the road again – they arrive in Nagoya City.
Nearly the whole time, the colour saturation has been up. The girls are getting a lot out of this trip. By sunset, they arrive at Lake Biwa before stopping at the Biwako Inn. Koguma prepares the rice she brought while Reiko still likes to parade around after a bath before Koguma tells her to stop wetting the floor and put her clothes on. Shii is in awe as she stares out the window.
That morning, Koguma indicates a meeting of Cub owners who appear in a park nearby, and it looks like they will be going to check it out….later on in the year. They check the map and continue their journey along the sea. They stop at the beach for a break and have a banter before heading in the direction of Kyoto. Prefecture after prefecture they go. Eventually, they witness the Tottori sand dunes along the way. After passing some Windmills they stop at a shop to buy seafood and take selfies before staying at an inn to eat it.
The next day they reach the far end of Honshu island and continue their journey until they end up sleeping in a net cafe. Their destination is set that morning. To go as far as their Cubs can take them. They eventually arrive at Cape Sata, where they see Cherry trees below them. The girls have done it. They have found ‘Spring early. And with this, Shii reclaims her joy for life after the accident. For once, Koguma was wrong. Her Cub did take away winter for Shii.
When the girls returned to their hometown – Spring had already arrived. Or, as Koguma put it – they brought Spring with them. While cleaning her Cub, Koguma gets a phone call from Shii. She got a Little Cub for herself. With this – Koguma and Reiko give Shii advice on what to do during each season. We then see the girls riding their cubs in unison. Koguma brings us a full circle in the narration: She has no family, friends or hobbies. But did the Cub take away that nothingness? No. It was her desire to take the risks that did it. The Cub simply complied to the want.
So…would I recommend Super Cub? Yes! I entered it expecting to have a journey similar to that of Laid Back Camp. But what I got was not only different, but it hit different targets. It is one of the quietest, realistic, unassuming, and most beautiful anime that I have ever seen. Now to say why:
The art style and animation are based more on realism with a handful of fantasy elements – primarily the fact that the colours increase in saturation when Koguma experiences happiness and excitement. The only aspect I have against the design is the fact that the line work looks (a little bit) digitally pixelated rather than smooth. The animation deliberately excludes exaggerated or over the top expressions. Instead, chooses a route centred on realism. However, one thing it does incredibly well is provide us with a rock-solid show don’t tell. We know not what they are thinking exactly, but we see it in their body language. As their body language occasionally advances the plot.
The voice acting is as I would expect from the characters. Yuki Yomichi as Koguma and Ayaka Nanase as Reiko were especially prominent.
The characters and story are interesting. In particular, Koguma and her journey. While on the surface, she comes across as the blandest character. Especially at the beginning. The reality is that she is a blank slate. That we can somehow insert ourselves into her place. And the Cub is metaphorical – not necessarily about the Bike. It is about anything we put our minds to. A hobby in general, and how it changes our lives, changes our personalities and changes our relationships and friendships. Koguma went from nothing and nobody with no ambition or social skills to being a Cub Otaku, friend, coffee lover, traveller, courier, maternal figure, and of course, a hero. All she needed to do was take baby steps every day to change herself. The Cub was the vehicle that had her to become all of these things. And I said it before, if Koguma was our kid, we would be very proud of her. We would have thought that Reiko would have played the cool kid role by making Koguma cool by association. But thankfully, they did not do this. Despite being beautiful and bright – in her own way, Reiko is very similar to Koguma. The big difference could be that she acquired her Cub much earlier. Her identity had already been established before the show began. Some could argue that the show lacks conflict and build towards a showdown – but this is because the show falls under the Iyashikei label. It is an anime with a healing quality. Designed to give a gentle perception of a simple life.
The music for this anime is excellent. The classical and piano music (Debussy, Satie and Vivaldi, especially) really bring a beautiful, artistic and timeless quality to the show. The opening and closing themes are very suitable in their audible depiction of adolescence and personal growth.
The themes of Super Cub are what make the show as good as it is. It is about stepping out of our comfort zone. ‘Taking risks and doing little things every day towards a goal. ‘Being yourself and enjoying the journey of life. ‘Trying new things and learning from others. And the fact that it is portrayed realistically should only inspire others to chase after whatever they want out of life.
If this is the end of the show, I will miss it. But at the same time, it is masterful within its genre. I will definitely watch it again sometime. I might even try to find the manga too, and hopefully Studio will produce more anime like this.
Would I recommend Luca? Yes, I would. This is a Disney Plus exclusive worth seeing and is bursting with colour, personality and character. The story is simple, but the underlying layers make it a very engaging watch, and we can walk away thinking about it afterwards.
The art style and animation are marvellous! It is Pixar in top form and has among the most beautiful uses of the colours blue and green that I have ever seen in a film. Despite their amount, the colour palette is nice and warm. The town of Portorosso is a pure overdose of nostalgia. A timeless Italy. A romantic Italy. A world of simple delights lovingly crafted by the artists. The character designs are reminisced of
The voice acting is absolutely excellent, and I enjoyed watching this film in both English and Italian. You can blame my love for anime on why I seek to view it in the language in which it is based. Saverio Raimondo, who voices the main antagonist Ercole in English and Italian, is fantastic. He perfectly creates the sound of a smarmy and arrogant young man. Everybody else is very suitable in their roles.
The characters, story, and themes are very sharp. Some would say, a literal fish-out-of-water story with considerations to be made. It is a story about the friendship between Luca and Alberto. As well as a story about the influence and love of education and exploration. You have Alberto showing Luca the vehicle. In this case, the Vespa scooter could take them anywhere they want. However, Alberto’s role is simply to get out of the boat and swim on the surface (metaphorically speaking). Then you have Guilia showing Luca a higher calling or destination through education and/or truth. She, metaphorically, encourages Luca to dive into the water and see the world underneath – something that Alberto cannot provide due to his own lack of knowledge to do so. Some could argue that Luca’s parents could have played a bigger role in this film – however, I think this would have taken away the focus. Plus, 2017’s Coco already covered the defiance-of-family-to-learn-the-truth story a few years ago. There needed to be a different story here. You will also get some obscure inspirations and parallels for reference. Such as Luca and Alberto being compared to Ariel and Scuttle in The Little Mermaid. Never mind Alberto being based on an old childhood friend of the director Enrico Casarosa.
The music in both score and soundtrack is lovely and really bring you into its world. The opening in particular, known as Un bacio a mezzanotte by Quartetto Cetra is…perfect. And hopefully, more people will find the song for themselves. Apparently, they wanted Ennio Morricone, which would have provided a wonderful touch. However, it didn’t work out (rest in peace, Ennio), and the job was given to Dan Romer, who some might know as the composer for the video game Far Cry 5. In general, it all works well.
After a quiet, inspirational and not-so perilous ten episodes – Super Cub receives an intense moment of danger. While travelling along the cat trail on her bike, Shii had slipped into the river and is too cold to get out. It is the middle of winter – meaning, without help, she could die from hypothermia. Upon receiving a phone call for help from Shii, Koguma rises to the occasion. Getting onto her Cub and heading there (and delivering the line ‘My Super Cub will come to the rescue. A cute piece of dialogue). Winter from Four Seasons by Vivaldi blasts throughout the next few minutes, as even Koguma struggles to travel the trail on a Cub (let alone Shii on a bicycle). As extreme as Reiko attempted to conquer Mount Fuji, what Koguma does here is probably the most badass scene in the whole show, bar none. Why? Because the girl who had no hobbies, friends or life in episode one just saved the life of a friend by episode eleven. Something she could not have been able to do had she not gotten the Cub, to begin with. After slipping on some black ice. Possibly the spot that caught Shii – Koguma notices a break in the barrier. She looks down to see Shii in the water. Hesitant due to the steepness of the bank, Koguma gets in, picks Shii up, wakes her up with a good slap across the face, and then aids her in climbing out (rather than carrying her like a fireman). They eventually reach the top. Koguma offers to bring Shii to her home for a hot bath and change of clothes, then phones Reiko to tell her what happened while Shii looks into the bank at her bicycle. Which she cannot retrieve just yet. Possibly even reliving the fall in her head. Koguma then decides that, because Shii is so petite, she picks her up like a baby then put her into her front basket. Shii wonders if this is wise, but Koguma indicates that Shii weighs less than a stack of newspapers being delivered. Leading to Shii screaming as Koguma drives them home. The opening credits begin after this.
They arrive at Koguma Casa, while Koguma then gets the bath prepared. She then gets Shii prepared for it like a mother with a child. While soaking in the bath – Koguma gets clothes washed. Shii thanks Koguma, but Koguma insists that she gives thanks to the Cub. While preparing clothes, we hear an engine outside. It is Reiko. The phone call was Koguma asking Reiko to reclaim what was left in the river. Shii’s phone is fine. However, her bike was damaged in the fall. It has Koguma with a sad expression as we flashback to when Shii’s father told them that she was riding her bike more. Possibly a way to catch up to the Cubs while on the road together.
Koguma is then seen hanging some of Shii’s clothes. When Shii comes in, she notices that Reiko is there, who decides to take advantage of the bath. Shii then gives us a very anime moment – as she becomes embarrassed by Koguma holding her panties. To which, Koguma says, ‘You want to go home in wet panties?’ Shii decides to hang her clothes herself in a different room. Afterwards, Koguma serves some Curry Udon. Shii wants to help around the house, but Koguma continues to shoot this down. Reiko then comes out, giving Shii a shock by her lack of modesty at the moment before Koguma insists that she puts her maintenance overalls back on. Afterwards, they eat with a bit of banter on hard-boiled eggs.
After dinner, Shii insists on doing the dishes for them. Possibly as her way of saying thank you. Reiko delivers the news that the Alex Moulton bike Shii uses has had it. To which we hear a sniff – Shii about to cry. She breaks down. Asking Koguma to take winter away. Koguma responds – ‘this isn’t something my Cub can do’.
The next day, Koguma and Reiko bring Shii home, where her parents show their gratitude by giving them a one year pass to have as much coffee as they want. Shii’s mother then insists on including the bread and sandwiches in the offer. Afterwards, we see all three girls arrive at school. Shii is now riding an old bike that nobody used anymore. An “old granny bike” as Koguma calls it. A bike with larger wheels, designed for riding in the city, but wasn’t a good fit for her. Koguma then addresses that the days that go by are mundane. She and Reiko ride their cubs and Shii rides the granny bike. They go to school, then they go home. All of the challenges that Koguma and Reiko had to overcome – when it came to outfitting their cubs for the winter – had been solved long ago. And the Italian Bar appeared to be put on hold. Suggesting depression.
One morning we hear the radio tell us that Spring was around the corner after talking about cherry blossoms. The girls are also doing their final exams. In this case, English. They go to Buerre afterwards for coffee. As it turns out, they are beginning a holiday soon – and in Japan, this means that the school year is over, and they are entering a new grade when they get back. Koguma has no plans, while Reiko will just be riding her Cub, as usual. While leaving, Shii says, come again. But also says she is still waiting for Spring to come and for the cherry blossoms to appear. Koguma indicates that the Cherry Blossoms are already out in a nearby region of Kagoshima. Reiko suggests that they go see them. Koguma isn’t sure, and when she expresses this, Shii’s mood goes down again. But then she decides ‘okay, let’s go – Her reason for this decision is because…all along, Shii is the reason she got a Cub to begin with. As a girl who looked positively towards the future and went after what she wanted, Koguma found inspiration in this way. So why not reward that girl by bringing her back to who she was before the accident?
Outside of Reiko’s holiday at the bottom of Mount Fuji, it could be argued that this is one of the more extreme or perilous episodes of the show. This episode also adds extra development to the three girls: Koguma’s journey brought her to this point of saving the life of a friend. Afterwards, we see a maternal side to her. Reiko exhibits a high-functioning and carefree nature. As she was able to acquire Shii’s stuff, despite the weather conditions. At the same time, she takes the opportunity to have a bath at someone else’s house and suggest rewards where they weren’t considered at first. Such as everybody getting a hard-boiled egg in their curry udon. Shii changes with this incident, as she was near death and lost her bike. She lost some of her confidence and possibly experienced post-traumatic stress from it. Seeing cherry blossoms will give her a lift – so we will see what episode twelve will bring – which will be the last episode of the series. Personally, I have enjoyed this journey, and next week you will get my final verdict. See you then.
For this review, I will be addressing Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance as ‘3D’ (to separate it from Kingdom Hearts 3), Kingdom Hearts 0.8: Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage as ‘0.2’, and lastly, Kingdom Hearts χ Back Cover as just ‘Back Cover’ or ‘BC’. Let us begin.
Would I recommend Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue? If you are playing the Kingdom Hearts games, they are essential to help figure out what is happening – especially if you want Kingdom Hearts 3 to make sense. ‘This doesn’t mean that everything was world-class.
The graphics in 0.2 are the best, as they were a demo for Kingdom Hearts 3, scheduled a year later when this came out. The textures belong on the PS4, and it shows. 3D was originally a Nintendo 3DS game, so the graphics are an HD upscale from that game. It looks good and appears as good as or better than Kingdom Hearts 2. Back Cover is a great looking 3D movie that replicates the graphical style of Kingdom Hearts 3.
The Art style in all three stays within the character of the franchise, with 3D being the most colourful, 0.2 being the darkest and Back Cover being a change in direction in terms of design. The multi-coloured Dreamcatchers in 3D would catch players off-guard at first, but gradually you will come to enjoy them.
The level design can only apply to 3D and 0.2. 3D could be subjected to the reality that there are not as many worlds as Kingdom Hearts 2, but it is still well put together. Also, the areas in that game feel huge. 0.2 was a demo, but the level design, though linear, gave us great beauty and a sense of exploration. ‘Especially in puzzle solving and item collecting to advance.
0.2 feels complete in its gameplay experience, but 3D very much experimented with what we could call Guardian Force or Pokemon mechanics. I grew particularly fond of the cat and penguin Dreamcatchers throughout my playthrough.
The characters in 3D and 0.2 are established while Back Cover gives us new characters. I’m already giving 3D and 0.2 high scores, but it is hard to get into Back Cover’s characters the same way – the fact that they all wear masks and hoods doesn’t help (which, if you are fan of Lucha Libre, is a terrible thing to say). The character known simply as The Master Of Masters is a hoot though.
The story in all of the adventures are a step back from Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2, but this doesn’t stop them from being essential. 3D is the bridge that Sora and Riku take to get to 3. 0.2 is the road that Aqua takes to get to 3. And Back Cover will feel the most alien, as it is a prologue before Birth By Sleep and chronicles how the Keyblade War began. Also, every main character is wearing an animal mask or a black hood. However, one thing it does have is a lot of humour. Humour enjoyed in Kingdom Hearts 3.
The voice acting, like usual, can be a little hammy outside of the Disney character voices. But still characterised and enjoyable.
Lastly, Yoko Shimomura’s music remains magical and characteristic – and the featuring of the music from Fantasia immediately gives 3D an extra star.
2.8 as a whole is a lot shorter than 1.5 and 2.5, as 3D can clock in at 25 hours long and 0.2 in 3 hours. Back Cover is a one-hour movie and is best experienced when you also play Kingdom Hearts χ as a free game on IOS and Android devices. If you are looking to play Kingdom Hearts 3, as I said, this is needed.
Well, we’re here. Episode twelve. The final one. This is the review where I give my final score at the end. With this said, I will notify you that the entire show hangs in the balance with this one episode, and spoilers will be abundant, including the ending. With this out of the way – let us begin.
The moon is full as Hanakaze confronts Sawa. Hanakaze, who has just given birth, tells Sawa not to go to Kuzuharu. Sawa acknowledges the fact that she could die. But then says that she has put something into practice – the envisioning of a desirable future. Where Asahi and the baby are free. Hanakaze tells Sawa that her baby’s daddy will pick them up, and she will take Asahi with them for safekeeping. Sawa thanks her before they both say that they hate each other. While Sawa walks the streets towards her midnight appointment with Kuzuharu, we overhear the crowd – that the ryumayaku is being stockpiled as it is running out.
We then get a scene we didn’t see coming. Sawa shows up at the Shogun’s palace. She tells the guards who she is – Sawa Karasumori. And that she has what the Shogun wants. Meanwhile, Asahi realises that Sawa has left and runs to go after her…only for Hanakaze to hold her back. Knowing it would be certain death for both of them (Remember, there’s a city-wide curfew going on). Asahi turns to Hanakaze and begins to cry. Sawa is still negotiating with Tokugawa’s guards while at gunpoint. Until – – the large crow-man that killed Makoto swoops in like a tornado of black feathers and carries her off. The Crow-man is Kuzuharu, who got this way by taking Janome’s experimental drugs. He also reveals that he gave Tokugawa a placebo. Why is Kuzuharu doing this? Simple: He wants to eliminate all distractions. Sawa says she would have killed Tokugawa, but Kuzuharu reveals that Tokugawa is no longer sane. With Kuzuharu being deliberately in Sawa’s way, she decides to kill him. With this, Kuzuharu transforms into Not-Eric Draven while Sawa brings out the Sorceress Of Castle Grayskull. They have a one-sided battle, where Sawa is on the attack while Kuzuharu defends. She gets her frustrations out – as it is clear she is sore about Kuzuharu murdering Makoto. Demanding to know why Kuzuharu is doing this – he tells her that she has a home to return to and doesn’t have to kill anybody else. He wants to do the dirty work for her. He then slices himself with her sword…and starts to give her answers.
Kuzuharu won’t kill Sawa because of a promise he made to her mother, Towa. A woman he loved but didn’t pursue. He promised to protect Sawa. And while he was probably doing it for himself, he insists it was his desire to take the burden. He then transforms into full crow-form again. Tells Sawa that she needs to live to see a new era. Then flies away.
A group of protestors gather outside Tokugawa’s castle. Where Kuzuharu shows up to kill all of the guards and then enter Tokugawa’s chamber. He slices the blinds…We see The Shogun in person for the first time. The all-powerful Yoshinobu Tokugawa. A man so terrifying and mysterious that he went unseen by nearly everyone…is just a senile old man who evidently took Janome’s drugs at one point. Kuzuharu has a one-sided conversation. About how difficult it is to accept reality, and that he finally realised there was someone he cared about more than himself…which is why he’s there. To be the man Tokugawa created him to be – the man who takes out the trash. With this, he slays Tokugawa. The resistance breaks into the palace and brings Bastille Day to Tokyo as the castle burns. Sawa arrives in town to witness the fire – screaming ‘Idiot!’ at Kuzuharu, who sees his last full moon before being consumed by the flames.
That morning, Sawa, along with Nana the Albino Crow, stare out at the ocean. Sawa looks at the feather Kuzuharu gave her. A feather belonging to her mother, or at least her Crow. It then starts to snow. No – it’s actually ash. Meanwhile, a car outside Mountain Dew Used Books drives off – suggesting Hanakaze and Asahi have declared Sawa dead. While walking the path, Sawa then picks up a dark blue flower while civilians walk the streets. Trampling over Tokugawa’s flag. Indicating the end of his time. While walking the streets with the flowers, Sawa focuses on a mother and daughter. With the daughter looking a little like Asahi in the distance. It is then that a hooded figure approaches Sawa from behind. It is Rinko. She’s alive – Something happens. Enough to cause Sawa to drop her flowers before Rinko disappears back into the crowd. Sawa picks up her flowers and walks on.
We then find out that in the car is Hanakaze, her baby, and her baby’s daddy. But no Asahi. As it turns out, Asahi stayed behind at the book shop to wait for Sawa. Meanwhile, Hanakaze utters Sawa’s name under her breath – to which the Baby-daddy thinks would be a good name for the baby.
Sawa arrives home, where Asahi gives her a big hug. Meanwhile, the news is that there is a new government being formed. We then find out that the flowers Sawa picked are called Dayflowers – which are blue when they bloom. Asahi joins Sawa in the garden. Sawa says she will probably keep her hair down from here on – a symbol of letting go. She mentions that summer is coming soon and that they should start to do some flower pressing. Sawa reveals that Asahi was named after a summer flower. Sawa then gradually enters a slumber, leaning on Asahi as the credits roll.
After the credits, we receive one final scene, which takes place about ten years later. We find out that Sawa had actually passed away during that scene. Rinko had stabbed her in the back while in the streets. Here we see a seventeen-year-old Asahi who looks remarkably like Sawa, only with a fringe. We find out that what saved Asahi was a blue-blood transfusion that turned her, effectively, into a Karasumori. With her is a young blonde girl, who is obviously Hanakaze’s daughter. But we don’t see Hanakaze anywhere. Suggesting she may have passed on as well. The journal Sawa had left for Asahi was used to ‘talk’ to Sawa. Something that Sawa didn’t do when she had it. Nana then lands on Asahi’s shoulder, as her eyes go from brown to glowing blue. The cycle of revenge continues.
Would I recommend Joran The Princess Of Snow And Blood? I would…if it was done in the theatre. With actors, clever lighting and effects, make-up, costume, music, dance and drama. It would have been the perfect medium for this story. As an anime – it’s good. Not fantastic, but good.
The aesthetic direction was strong. In particular when it came to creating visually memorable main characters and beautiful scenery. The animation was consistently good, with pockets of brilliance in places.
The voice acting was great as well, with Suzuko Mimori (the wife of Japanese professional wrestler Kazuchika Okada) delivering a good performance, ranging from stoic to breaking down in tears.
The characters and story, as I said, I think they work better in theatre than anime. A Story of revenge. With twists that you would find in a soap opera that will not hold your hand. Many characters shared a handful of good scenes. But like the characters when they are around each other – they almost remain unknown to us. Even after all of the backstory and development to show why they are bad people doing good things or the other way around. In truth, I feel like I was watching the second half of a longer anime. I am aware of mise en scene. But I feel like we could have stayed in the status quo a while longer to make any deaths that happen hit harder. I wanted more stand-alone episodes where Nue just did their jobs, kind of like Public Security Section 9 in Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex. But unfortunately, we do not get that kind of development. Some could call it razor-sharp in this sense, but I do feel like more could have been told to make us laugh and cry. I will also acknowledge the quality dip in the middle when episodes four and five were poor and confusing. But the rest of the show adds up the stars. As for the themes, you have revenge, power, trust, family, love, life, death and rebirth. All good and standard in this kind of story.
The music is a traditional Japanese score with a hint of middle eastern wonder and the instruments to boot. The exception to this is the opening and closing theme songs – “Exist” and “Embrace The Light” by RAISE A SIULEN. Very appropriate names for songs in this case. The score, in general, is good with four in particular, called 処刑人の涙 (Executioner’s tears), 鵺のアジト (Nue’s hideout), 夕闇のしじま (Silence Of Dusk) and 露草古書店の日常 (Everyday life of a secondhand bookstore) being the standouts.
A good anime. Far from the best. Also – who is Joran?
Art Style: ****
Voice Acting: **** (the VA in episode eight was especially good!)
So unlike what we might expect, this episode not only takes place in the middle of winter, but it takes place after Christmas. Both Koguma and Reiko are enjoying the lame-looking but evidently comfortable windshields installed on their Cubs. Koguma sees Shii riding her bike to go buy some Coffee Beans. As part of her effort/project to turn the bakery’s cafe into an Italian bar. Apparently, Shii also got a job at the post office, with the goal being to find items to use in the bar. We then see Koguma waking up to a cold day. The first snow day since she got her Cub. The opening then begins.
Koguma concludes that she can’t ride her Cub in the snow, so she heats up the bento rice she intended on eating. While looking out the window, Reiko calls her phone, yelling to come over. After seeing a J-peg photo, Koguma decides she’ll be over. She packs her lunch, sweeps off the snow on the Cub, then rides it to Reiko’s place. Conditions prove to be difficult, as Koguma is not comfortable riding in the snow. Even using her feet as extra brakes when going downhill. But as soon as she gets on the main road, she’s happy enough.
Arriving at Reiko’s house, we now see why Koguma agreed to come over – to check out the tyre chains that Reiko has put on the Cub. Turns out, a newspaper agency was going bust, and Reiko went to see if she could get Cub parts for scrap. It also turns out that Reiko got some chains for Koguma, who then watches a youtube video to find out how to put them on. They then head out by…going up.
Both girls love the new chains on the wheels, as they are allowed to be a bit freer on their approach to riding. They arrive at the bottom of a beautiful snow-covered mountain. We then see that the colour saturation increase – indicating that Koguma is having a great time. Even making a snow angel when she falls. They start to play with snow ridges, and despite falling over, all is well. They then decide to take off their winter coats and continue. Indeed, riding in a T-shirt on a snowy day is the most dangerous thing Koguma has done so far. They then stop for lunch – Koguma’s rice with coffee. After riding more and falling more, they then have a snowfall fight. By sundown, they go to Buerre for Coffee, where they notice that Shii is now using red, green and white, the colours of the Italian flag, for their usual spot. They have a bit of banter.
The next day, Koguma is preparing her Cub for another day. All three girls notice extra snowfall is happening, as we get a nice little montage of images. Now wearing a thermal suit, Koguma rides off. She sees Shii on her bike, going somewhere. But She continues her journey to Buerre to have coffee. Reiko arrives shortly afterwards in a similar outfit. From there, they have said coffee. Shii’s father remarks on the influence the girls are having on her. As she is now pushing her riding skills to catch up with them. Koguma gets philosophical about winter and how it is seen as a foe and a trial by Cob riders. However, we receive the first cliffhanger of the whole show, as Koguma gets a phone call from Shii…Shii says, “Help me!” as she lies in a stream. Possibly getting frozen. Presumably from falling off her bike into the water. And so ends the episode.
As someone who loves winter scenes, this episode was a feast for the eyes. The colours were beautifully chosen, as were the snow textures. I also enjoyed the banter and the playtime that the girls had on the mountainside. But what is also good is that we get some conflict in Shii’s accident. It has us intrigued about what the next episode holds. With this said – see you next week.
I am the god of Spoilers, and I bring you, Spoilers! I take you to Learn. Or at least that is how the song might sound in a parallel universe that Rick And Morty have not explored yet. Anyway, let us begin.
The show opens a little differently this time. Adding some sound effects. Sawa is behind Kuzuharu in a moment that has been building for two weeks. Kuzuharu has been revealed as the man who killed her Clan. Sawa displays fury – but also confusion. She wants answers, and she wants Kuzuharu dead. However, an intruder alert has been sound, and only Tokugawa can make the call. Kuzuharu then offers Sawa a deal. Kill him now, be captured and then bled dry for the blue blood she possesses. Or possibly kill him later at Shinobazu Pond at midnight, in which he provides her with an escape. She decides to kill him later and escapes. The guards arrive, looking for Sawa. One tries to get Kuzuharu to tell them, only for the others to say that torture will do nothing. They find the escape route and send another team in the direction of the exit. The guard then tells Kuzuharu that he may have to kill him when they meet again.
Meanwhile, Sawa is escaping through the tunnels. Lightsabre style bullets are flying until some of the guards are killed by crossbow arrows. Saw runs around the corner to see Hanakaze greeting her, then throwing a perfume bottle grenade. They escape through a fake headstone in the graveyard. Only to confront Rinko, who is in full-blown drunken-blade at this point, as she has been given orders from Tokugawa to take them in alive. It leads to Sawa leaving her sword on the ground and have some unarmed combat with Rinko. All I can think about is how they justify all of the broken tombstones. Sawa beats Rinko in the end. Breaking her Metal blades with chops and stomps, then dodging a last-ditch effort and landing an Iron Fist punch that ends up leaving Rinko broken and sobbing. Hanakaze asks if leaving her alive is a good idea – Sawa says there is no need to kill her. Hanakaze comments that Sawa has changed…then again, as a soon-to-be mother, she could be one to say anything.
We then cut to Morning Dew Used Bookstore, where they provide us with some exposition – a catch up for Sawa, who had been out of town for a little while. Turns out the Ryumyaku, which powers the city like a nuclear reactor, is drying up. And the government armies, which rely on the ryumyaku, are struggling. As skirmishes happen every day, with the resistance gaining ground. Hanakaze puts on the radio for us to find out that the riots had led to a curfew. Anybody who is caught outside will be considered a rioter. Sawa still needs to see Jin, despite this. Hanakaze tells her to relax and live a little. Then…the door opens. Sawa, in shock, is seeing a ghost. Asahi walks in with daikon as if her bleeding to death had not happened. As it turns out, Kuzuharu rescued Asahi and had her treated by Todoroki, a medical school dropout who professed to be a revolutionary. While leaving, Hanakaze collapses to her knees…the baby is coming.
So now we have a new dilemma – delivering a baby during a curfew where the nearest midwife has left. Hanakaze gives the job to Sawa, who look through her bookshelf for a medical book. We then get a contrast. The sound of Hanakaze delivering a baby while a skirmish is happening on our screens. People are dying, and traces of the Tokugawa reign are being destroyed. The baby girl is successfully delivered.
While Hanakaze and the baby sleep, we get time with Sawa and Asahi, and we get plenty of touching moments here. Considering neither of them thought they would see each other again – they talk about the future. Sawa gives Asahi not only some school work but also the blood-stained journal her mother never wrote in. Excited about this, Asahi gets sleepy and lays her head on the lap of Sawa. Sawa then puts her to bed, cleans her sword. She has flashbacks of her time with Asahi happening at once. It causes her to drop her sword and weep openly, knowing the risk of losing her life and her chance at happiness. She sharpens her sword. ‘Gives us the eyes of Sawa Yukimura, and then heads in the direction towards Kuzuharu, where he waits for his final showdown with her.
So we are near an end, and this is the last episode before the final showdown. We now know that Sawa has a life to fall back on, with Asahi, Hanakaze, little Hana, and perhaps Kuzuharu if she lets him live. However, he will put up a fight that Makoto and Rinko together could not muster at that moment. I suspect something will happen to the Shogun, and his empire of tyranny will fall. We will also acknowledge the possibility that the words of Makoto will continue to echo – that everybody is playing their roles. Perhaps Asahi is to get her vengeance. Will we get a good ending or a bad one? I have two guesses: Either Sawa dies with Hanakaze adopting Asahi, or they all literally live happily ever after. Either way, let us find out next week. And if that is the final episode, I will also be giving a final overall score and some thoughts on the various building blocks that made up the show. See you then!
Today I’m beginning a more refined format towards giving reviews. Let us begin.
Would I recommend Cruella? Yes, if you have seen 101 Dalmatians and enjoyed it. And yes if you keep in mind that this is a central character rather than a protagonist. Meaning, even though she is the main character, she is still a villain in an overall larger narrative. What makes us route for her though, is the fact that she is the lesser of two evils (the other being Baroness von Hellman, played by Emma Thompson), and allows herself to be on equal ground around her family until her plans become too exciting and the others can’t keep up. Her family being Jasper and Horace, played by Joel Fry and Paul Walter Hauser respectively, and their dogs.
The acting is excellent, especially from the two Emmas, Stone and Thompson, who have great chemistry on screen when they try to out-do each other as the ultimate, unloving narcissist. Jasper and Horace are presented as being a lot less bumbling and evil when compared to their animated counterparts. But we keep in mind, a lot possibly happens to the trio between these two films that turn them into who we know today.
The characters are charismatic and likeable, even in their antagonising and evidently human moments. Cruella herself is intriguing because we do wonder which side of her is real: Estella the ambitious survivalist or Cruella the giant killer (metaphorically speaking). We know later what kind of character she becomes in the animated feature, but it is good to see what can be described as a “more innocent time” in her story. Throughout the movie, we also see Roger and Anita Radcliffe, the owners of what would eventually be the one hundred and one dalmatians. Roger’s surname is Dearly, while Anita’s is Darling. Roger is the Baroness’s lawyer while Anita is Cruella’s childhood friend from primary school, who becomes the columnist that elevates Cruella’s exposure within the press. Roger’s role is small, but Anita’s is pivotal to the plot. I can’t say much about Kayvan Novak as Roger as I barely remember him on screen, but Kirby Howell-Baptiste was great as Anita.
The story is a tale of revenge with a heist plot or two mixed in. We see a lot of scenes that could be inspired by Oceans Eleven or One Crew over the Crewcoo’s Morty. In its pacing, it hits all of the marks. At times we can feel like we have gone off-track, and some of the quieter moments have more telling than showing. But this doesn’t take away that it is a good journey.
The Artistic depiction of 1970s London is excellent, with fabulous costume and interior design and pinch of post-modernism to keep it fresh. At times the CGI can be a bit off and obvious. Especially in any scenes involving the ocean. The dogs are also a mixture of real and CGI, and it can be clear which ones are which, but they are still well done. The Cinematography is absolutely fantastic, with the swooping single shots going through the scenes like a fairy with a smartphone. It is wonderfully presented this way.
The music is among the best soundtracks you could ever ask for, with each scene more or less having it own song. Look at the full list sometime: Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots are Made for Walking (with what looks like a brief throwback to Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket), Time Of The Season by The Zombies, Queen, Blondie, The Clash, Ike & Tina Turner, Black Sabbath, the list goes on. It is a fantastic playlist.
This was my first time seeing a film in the cinema since before the Pandemic began – and you know what? It was a good starting point.
Oh, you gonna spoil me home tonight. Oh, down beside that spoiler light. Oh, you gonna let it all spoil out. Fat Bottomed Spoils, you make the spoiling world go round. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way – let us get frosty.
Koguma exits her apartment to get on her Cub – she lets us know that the weather suggests a feeling of mid-winter, even though it is autumn. She indicates that since getting the Cub, the seasons are more evident – especially if you’re wearing a knee-high skirt. Despite preparing for winter – both she and Reiko are feeling the cold. They both argue lightly about wearing a necessary item. Koguma acknowledges the benefit of it, while Reiko insists that they are a terrible fashion statement. Even their lunch breaks are more uncomfortable than before, with thighs being rubbed together for warmth and food cooling down quicker. Koguma reveals the tin bento box she got earlier, containing white rice, which she then dumps a can of spam onto. Shii shows up, asking to eat lunch with them – they accept her invitation.
Shii gives the other two a cup of Tè al latte or Italian Milk Tea. One that has a hint of Grappa (Italian Grape Brandy) in it – but not enough to make it too boozy. Reiko then pats Shii down like an airport security guard. Joking that Shii can fit into her Cub’s Rear Box, and then she can have Coffee or Tea anytime. The struggle for Koguma to be warm is made clear to Shii, who invites them over to the Buerre again. While having Coffee, Shii comes down to show them a warm looking cardigan with a braided design on the arms. Koguma isn’t sure and says it smells. However, Reiko is impressed, as it is made of abrasive wool. Which is a popular material for outfits worn by Canadian hunters and mountaineers. Koguma tries it on and goes outside. Despite initial thoughts, she likes it. They decide to take the cardigan to school to doctor it into liner for clothes and make stockings. This leads to Shii riding on a Cub for the first time. She yells the whole way that they are going too fast. Their Home Economics teacher offers to do the job after finding out that it’s abrasive wool – leading to the creations of a vest for Koguma, stockings for Reiko and a thermos covering for Shii. They stayed a while, with the school emptying by the time they receive their new garments.
The next day, Koguma tries out the vest under her riding jacket. Despite still wearing a skirt in cold weather, the colour saturation increases with Koguma and Reiko’s joy in the new items. Shii shows off the thermal covering on her tea flask. That night while preparing dinner, Koguma overhears on the radio that there will be a potential snowfall. She and Reiko arrive at school the next day, agreeing that as good as the thermals are – they aren’t enough for the destined weather changes. Koguma still insists that they might have to buy that ‘thing’ that Reiko really doesn’t want – leading to what could be interpreted as a fight. Shii, concerned, says to drop by the Cafe for coffee afterwards. They go to Up Garage again, where the big, uncool, ugly thing is revealed…a windshield…literally, that’s it. However, the last one is bought. They don’t have any more in stock. The girls jest their relief until the clerk says that they could get some in a few days – they shake their heads to say no.
Afterwards, they go to Buerre, where Shii serves them her coffee. Cappuccinos to a hint of Uchida grappa in them, straight from the Yamanashi Prefecture. Reiko jokes about adding more Grappa but is declined. They continue their argument about a windscreen until Shii suggests actually trying one on. After all, she tried a coffee machine for the cultural festival and liked it so much to have one in the Bakery. Upon this perception, Koguma and Reiko decide that it’s a good idea to try one. So they leave and go to where they salvaged the rear box and see if they have any cubs with windscreens. The only bike available was damaged by a Lorry hitting it. But it worked well enough to try a test run. Reiko tries it first, and then Koguma. Afterwards, they go back to Buerre to continue their talks about windscreens. They decide to just get one each at Up Garage and fit them, with Shii overhearing and thinking that Cubs are fantastic. Upon applying their screens, they go for a ride. Revealing a love for the screen that wasn’t there before.
Koguma then reflects. Not only on how great the Windscreen is. But how they prepared for the cold with the help of others – and Koguma mentions how comfortable she is around other people since getting the Cub. That the winter preparations of the Cubs surprised her – assuming they would create restrictions, they actually made the experience superior.
This was a good episode. It was one that continues the friendships as well as the development of the girls as Cub riders. With the next episode being called Snow, this is clearly another bridging episode. And also one that brings the girls out of another comfort zone. To choose comfort over coolness, when coolness has a double meaning: To be down with the other kids, but also to be frosty and perhaps ill. So comfortable it is.