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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

The Flash S4E2: Mixed Signals


The Flash
Series 4, Episode 2
Mixed Signals.



With all the guff about getting Barry out of the Speed Force and the speed madness and such out of the way, this episode -- a forty-two minute long comedy about relationships, communication, and technology -- is the first real test of The Flash's writing staff insistence that this series will be much lighter and fluffier than the two preceding it. It's the point where they have to prove that not only can they do that, but that they can do it well

When Kilg%re, a metahuman with the power to control technology via a bio-digital computer virus, starts killing off wealthy tech moguls, Barry and Iris are given their first chance to test out the new Team Flash dynamic. Barry's over-enthusiasm and his unwillingness to listen to Iris, either on the job or in their relationship, swiftly causes problems, however, resulting in Iris insisting on taking Barry to several awkward sessions of couples counselling. Meanwhile, Cisco, wrapped up in figuring out a way to stop Kilg%re, misses a date with Gypsy, earning her ire -- since on Earth-19, the day is 111 Day, their equivalent of Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Black Clover E2+E3: The Boys' Promise & To The Royal Capital Of The Clover Kingdom


Black Clover
Episode 2+Episode 3
The Boys' Promise & To The Royal Capital Of The Clover Kingdom.




Man, I think the last time we did a fortnightly ongoing was when we were doing Kamen Rider Ghost. In this case, as in that case, this is the result of there simply not being enough content in a single episode to get an entire review out of. That, and I need at least two weeks to recover from each occasion where I force myself to listen to Asta's ridiculous, crunchy voice.

So, episode one finished on the suitably dramatic note of Asta receiving his weird, demonic grimoire, with a five-leafed clover (the eponymous black clover, even) on its cover, vindicating him when he said he wasn't powerless after all.

Episode two plunges us straight into a flashback, showing Asta and Yuno's upbringing -- and the event that made both boys wish to be the Wizard King: A night when Yuno was attacked while out on an errand, forcing Asta to come and save him. In episode three, both boys prepare to set off to the capital, intending to take the examination to become Magic Knights -- but while everybody has complete confidence in Yuno, they doubt that Asta can cut it.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E15: Differing Paths


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 15
Differing Paths.



Well, we had a good run of episodes wherein things actually happen, but now we've slipped securely back into 'absolutely nothing is going on' mode. A more charitable soul might call this a character development episode, but with the exception of Sisigou and Gordes, nobody's character actually gets developed at all -- and let's face it, nobody cares about Gordes. Even the writers don't care about Gordes, they just needed a way to fill up some time.

Look, I'm not saying that I want there to be action all the time, that'd be boring. What I am saying is that every episode needs to have some kind of arc, and some kind of conflict: You can't just have an entire episode of people pottering around and doing basically nothing. You need some kind of structure, and some semblance of plot.

Anyway, in this week's episode, in the aftermath of the battle with Avicebron, Jeanne (Ruler) bestows new command spells on Sisigou and Sieg (Saber of Black), and warns Sieg to never use his third command spell. With the Shirou Faction making an escape on the Hanging Gardens, the Jeanne Faction attempts to figure out how to pursue them, and Sisigou tells Mordred of his past.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

What We're Watching 14/10/17


What We're Watching
14/10/17


Once Upon A Time S7.

It's odd to say this, especially since I still don't know exactly how I feel about the old cast being reduced to just Henry (who's functionally a new character now), Regina, Hook, and Rumple, but this soft reboot was exactly what the show needed, I think.

The new location, characters, and conflict (even if that conflict is, in many ways, a rehash of that of the first series) has revitalised the show in a way that it was difficult to imagine -- but at the same time, I do also find myself missing Emma and co, and the comfortable familiarity of the old show. It hadn't been good for a long time, but it was fun, at least.

Still, I'm interested to see where the show goes from here, and setting up a power trio of Henry, Hook (revealed to be wishverse doppelganger Hook), and Regina is an interesting turn.


Marvel's Inhumans.

Inhumans is a strange, strange show, from its high-budget-but-everything-looks-really-low-budget-and-it's-not-even-intentional production style, to its oddly flat and yet incredibly unsympathetic characters, to its weird political themes that seem to amount to 'sometimes slavery is good, and sometimes people who say they want social change are just jealous and petty.'

Odder still, the show seems intent on just digging its whole deeper and deeper. This week's episode decided to forego any trace of subtlety by having Maximus loudly proclaim that his sole motivation for everything is wanting superpowers; and meanwhile, we had the odd situation with Medusa, a double punch of 'Medusa acting like she has a right to invade people's privacy and personal space, and this being treated as a hi-larious social mishap even though she's from a culture that does have notions of personal property and space,' and 'Medusa's backstory being alluded to as her family wanting some kind of social change, and Medusa realising this is Bad and distancing herself from it.'

This is a really strange show.


Arrow, Supergirl, & Legends of Tomorrow.

So, most of the CW's DC superhero lot have started for the year, with only newcomer Black Lightning yet to premiere, and so far, there's been a definite turn towards the lighter and chirpier -- with the singular exception of Supergirl, which appears intent on plunging to more fraught and angsty depths.

(God, please don't let Mon-El come back. Nobody likes that guy.)

Legends of Tomorrow has gone from a silly drama with a heavy comedic elements to an out-and-out comedy with dramatic elements; Arrow makes it as clear as possible as early as possible that every main character (bar Thea, who's in a coma) escaped from the explosions just fine; and Supergirl marks itself out as the odd one out of the bunch by having an episode about Kara being depressed, and mercenaries attacking the city on the whims of Nathan Petrelli from Heroes.

Coming up next week, it looks like we have Ollie navigating a political scandal, the Legends visiting the circus, and then Kara in a brooding episode about fear. The trend of having Supergirl be the odd one out seems set to continue, then.

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Woodcutter (2010) [Reecey]


Hey, another review by Reecey today: If you enjoy Reecey's content on this blog, why not Buy Her A Coffee?

The Woodcutter (2010).
(Review by Reecey.)



There are two major sorts of plot, I find, changing the status quo and upholding the status quo.

Generally, when the status quo is shown as being bad, you know, people living in fear, being compelled to act against their own interests, having their lands forcefully annexed, being subjugated by the more powerful, that’s one of the times that the status quo being changed is the plot.

In this case, it isn’t!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Flash S4E1: The Flash Reborn


The Flash
Series 4, Episode 1
The Flash Reborn.



It feels like it's been ages since the last series of The Flash, even though it's only really been a few months. Perhaps odder still (for me, at least), I haven't really kept up with any news about the series -- I somewhat half-heartedly watched the trailer, and that was about it. That having been said, I don't think my interest in this show has really waned any, despite a rather unfortunate third series.

Anyway, The Flash is back, along with Supergirl (which I'm not reviewing as an ongoing, since I'm sure Mon-El will be back) and Legends of Tomorrow, with Arrow joining them soon. When we left things last year, Savitar had been defeated and Barry had just entered the Speed Force, ostensibly forever (although we all knew it wouldn't actually be forever).

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E14: Prayer of Salvation


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 14
Prayer of Salvation.



This episode leaves me in a somewhat odd position when it comes to tallying up whether there's actually any movement on the plot. Technically, there is: Two characters die, after all. It rather feels, however, that there isn't -- that this episode really serves no purpose except to tie off a loose end in a suitably explode-y fashion. Nothing that happens in this episode really feels like it'll have a lasting effect on the story.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls


Danganronpa Another Episode:
Ultra Despair Girls



Here's another review of a game I've been Let's Playing, so go check that out if you're so inclined.

So, it's not a secret by now that despite initial trepidation, the Danganronpa franchise did a pretty good job of winning me over: It's colourful, fun, has its fair share of well-crafted mysteries, and the majority of its vast cast are pretty engaging and interesting -- and the element that ties together Danganronpa, more than anything, is Monokuma, in his role as a simultaneously funny and sinister villain.

It's interesting, then, that Danganronpa Another Episode not only departs from the usual gameplay form of Danganronpa games, instead being a survival horror-y shooter, but also doesn't have Monokuma in it (at least, not the character -- Monokuma shaped robots comprise almost all of the enemies in the game). It's a slightly odd but not uninteresting departure from the norm for the series, so it was worth checking out.

Friday, 6 October 2017

What We're Watching 6/10/17


What We're Watching
6/10/17


Dies Irae.

Well, this show is ... odd.

Do you ever watch something and feel, deep within your being, that there's an entire backstory that the show expects you to be intimately familiar with, but you cannot possibly imagine what that backstory would even be? That's how Dies Irae's first episode felt.

It's not even really a story, so much as it is just events happening. We're introduced to a colourful cast of characters, most of whom aren't even named, none of which are fleshed out, and two of which are killed -- and there's the constant sense that the show expects you to already know who these characters are, and to understand the deeper meaning in their cryptic ramblings, and the bizarre montage that ends the episode.

A quick google search tells me that this anime is adapted from a small-time visual novel, and the events shown are the sacrifice of the people of Berlin to summon thirteen superhuman Nazis, but apart from there being Nazis involved, none of that came through in the actual episode. It's just -- weird.


King's Game.

I wasn't intending to watch this, but someone mentioned it to me and I was curious, so here we are, watching King's Game.

The basic premise is that it's a death game where a mysterious figure (the titular King) sends everyone in a class text messages with commands in them, with failure to follow those commands within twenty-four hour resulting in death for the people mentioned in them.

With that solid premise at its back, the show gets off to an interesting start by having the protagonist, who knows that the King's Game is real and dangerous, immediately decide to doom both himself and a girl he just met by not following the order, eventually having to be forced into it (the order having been that he and said girl must kiss).

His motivations for doing so aren't made entirely clear, bar that they're wrapped up in his guilt and suchlike, but I'm thoroughly soured on this protagonist now, and to make matters worse, Cool Baseball Hat Guy died, along with a decent chunk of the rest of the cast.

Still. Interesting show.


The Gifted.

The Gifted, Fox's new X-Men show, is settling nicely into its role as 'basically just Heroes,' complete with the requisite unsympathetic characters, shadowy but not that compelling government agencies, and boring, boring superpowers.

One episode in and the only characters I like are Lorna and Marcos, while everybody else is just somewhat intolerable. It's hard to feel sympathetic for the family on the run because their children are mutants when just five minutes earlier you saw one of them threatening an unjustly detained woman by using her pregnancy as leverage, you know?

Incidentally, apparently the father character -- who in the episode is basically a Nazi -- was changed to make him 'more likable' so dear god, imagine what he was like before.


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel


The Legend of Heroes:
Trails of Cold Steel



It's one of those days again, by which I mean 'one of those days where I review a game I've recently Let's Played.' In this case, it's The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, my longest Let's Play at a staggering seventy-five parts. Do go check that out if you have, like, two entire days to spare.

While I was vaguely familiar with the Trails series, virtue of the great many ads for Trails in the Sky on Steam, I only deigned to actually play Trails of Cold Steel after seeing Mother's Basement praising the Trails in the Sky series -- with a video that included several brief gameplay segments from Trails of Cold Steel. Those brief segments plus the praise heaped upon Trails in the Sky led to me -- well, getting a used PS3, to start with, and buying Trails of Cold Steel for it.

I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I was decently excited for it, and what I got was this strange hybrid of Final Fantasy, Persona, and Tales of Zestiria -- and actually, it works pretty well. Really well, actually, I enjoyed this game a lot once it got past its initial teething difficulties.

(I also acquired someone who stalks and downvotes all of my videos. Shout-out to that guy for sticking with it for about thirty weeks!)

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Black Clover E1: Asta and Yuno


Black Clover
Episode 1
Asta and Yuno



Watch Black Clover, they said. It'll be fun, they said. You can review it, they said.

Well, I watched it, and it wasn't that fun. It was predictable, and I've seen the concept a thousand times before in various forms of remix, and the main character wouldn't stop screaming -- so we're going to do this as an ongoing, reviewing all thirteen episodes of this series and seeing if it improves at all. First episodes are always awkward, after all.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E13: The Last Master


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 13:
The Last Master.



So, I initially thought that there was no Fate/Apocrypha episode this week, but it turns out fate isn't so kind: There is, and so I'm stuck here reviewing it. A regrettable turn of events, to be sure.

On the bright side, though, we have a new OP, and it's -- fine, I guess. A generic song, competently put together but not at all memorable or striking visuals, neither terrible nor in any way remarkable.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Digimon Adventure Tri: Coexistence.


Digimon Adventure Tri
Coexistence.



Man, I, like everyone else, was sure the translated title would be 'Symbiosis,' but 'Coexistence' works just as well, I suppose, especially when the film's primary conflict involves humans not coexisting with Digimon, and Homeostasis not coexisting with the Chosen Children (or, indeed, anybody else).

Thursday, 28 September 2017

What We're Watching 28/9/17


What We're Watching
28/9/17


Star Trek: Discovery.

So, Star Trek: Discovery finally aired its first two episodes! The series was announced way back in 2015, so it's been a long time coming. Expectations were high, but I can't say I didn't have at least a little bit of trepidation: Star Trek still feels very much like it would be anathema to television executives of this day and age.

Still, those first two episodes were immediately compelling, setting us up with a small but fascinating cast of characters, and managing to pack in plenty of dramatic, awe-inspiring, and emotional moments. Sonequa Martin-Green knocks it out of the park as Michael Burnham, and Doug Jones and Michelle Yeoh performed excellently as Saru and Georgiou.

My one problem right now is that it doesn't feel quite like Star Trek -- there wasn't much focus on the crew for reasons that are obvious to anyone who watched the second episode, and the tone and aesthetic didn't really feel like Star Trek. There are thirteen more episodes for the show to rectify that, though, and I'm certainly looking forward to watching them.


The Brave.

The US is a very anxious, nervous country even on a good day, but you can track when it's having a nationwide panic attack by two things: The amount of bizarre, random things it's decided are insidious threats waiting to murder them (Clowns, guys? Really?); and how many military-themed borderline propaganda television shows about 'destroying the bad guys' it puts out.

On that note, we have two military-themed borderline propaganda television shows starting in a single week: Seal Team, which is regrettably not about cool pinnipeds; and The Brave, which positions itself as the kind of Law and Order of explosions.

(Even their opening episodes are nigh-identical, with both involving attractive blonde American women being kidnapped by Islamic terrorists, and a team of soldiers headed by a white dude setting out to save her.)

The Brave does nothing you haven't seen on better (or indeed worse) shows a thousand times, but it does get a few points for having a couple of interesting characters: Intelligence operative Amir and sniper Jaz are at least halfway interesting, even if nobody can exactly call them compelling yet.

Negative points for the unintentional and kind of racist irony of having a character say that there's nothing worse than hurting a woman (meaning a white American woman) less than five minutes before blowing up a woman (meaning a brown, Iraqi woman).


Law and Order: True Crime.

I've never watched a Law and Order episode before, and to be honest, I'm probably not going to watch one again. The true crime tagline got my interest, but the show itself was just kind of dull and flat, without much to really set it apart from any other police procedural.

Which I suppose is the draw of Law and Order: It is the ur-procedural, the one that most thoroughly describes what the genre is like, and that gives it a considerable amount of flexibility. It's just also not very interesting to watch.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Re:Creators


Re:Creators.



Well, here's a moderately divisive one. While this show, penned by Rei Hiroe (Black Lagoon) and directed by Ei Aoki (Fate/Zero, Aldnoah Zero), has been well-received in many quarters, its ending has certainly attracted no shortage of detractors -- and two weeks on, the debate is still raging, with those favourable to the series saying that the ending was the natural end point for the plot as set up; and with its detractors saying that the lack of any kind of punishment for the villains, or a decisive victory by force of arms for the heroes, makes the ending a tremendous letdown.

Or, well, when last I checked those detractors were actually saying that people who liked the ending were 'genocide sympathisers' who 'reveled in the beauty of suicide.' So, that's a whole thing, I guess.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Manderlay (2005)



Manderlay
(2005)




Sorry this is late, Doug came over for a few days and we’d rather play video games than watch a film where John Hurt narrates sex scenes together.

I am not joking, him narrating the main character’s dalliance and her sexual feelings is one of the most awkward things that I have ever had to sit through.

It was so awkward.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Teen Wolf S6E20: The Wolves of War



Teen Wolf
Series 6, Episode 20
The Wolves of War.



So, here we are, at the final episode.

(Until the reboot.)

I've watched this show since its first series, and started reviewing it in its fourth, just after it hit its peak and started going very rapidly downhill -- the series has certainly had its highs and lows, with an entertaining first series, a somewhat lackluster second series, a stellar third series, and then varying shades of 'sigh' as it dragged into its fourth, fifth, and sixth outings. Still, while I can't say I felt all that much when the curtains closed on this final episode, I can say that I will at least somewhat miss this show.

That said: God, this wasn't a great final episode. In fairness, endings are difficult -- they're always difficult, and they only become more difficult if, like Teen Wolf, you're aiming for an overall positive tone. Tragedies are easy to end: They stop at the point where things have gotten as worse as they possibly can, as many people have died as are going to, and the futility of it all has been hammered into the audience. More light-hearted fares require a rather more deft touch.

Friday, 22 September 2017

What We're Watching 22/9/17


Hello! You all might recall that Wednesday and Thursday were both entirely sans posts: This is largely because I was off visiting Reecey most of this week, and while we did plan to watch and write a review of Lars von Trier's Manderlay, what we actually did was play a ton of Yakuza Kiwami, on account of how that's a lot more fun, and how I hate Lars von Trier's work.

In that vein, here's a What We're Watching that could probably be more accurately described as a What We're Playing.


What We're Watching
22/9/17


Yakuza Kiwami.

So, during my four day absence, there was a great deal of Yakuza Kiwami, as myself and Reecey finished Yakuza 0 on the Monday and spent the next few days determinedly making our way through the first eight or so chapters.

Thus far, it's definitely a very fun game (that one boss battle with Lex Luthor and Kingpin's son notwithstanding), and it's vastly improved by the addition of the Majima Everywhere system, where local lunatic Goro Majima will come up with zany, off the wall ways to make Kiryu fight him.

And by 'vastly improved,' I mean 'it turns half of the game into the weirdest dating sim,' as you roam the district looking for Majima so that you can take him out drinking, or bowling, or to a private club. Sometimes it doesn't even end with a fight.

Best love story in video games 2017.


Fate/Zero.

In my ongoing quest to stockholm myself into liking Fate, I elected to watch a few episodes of Fate/Zero -- the original novel was written by Gen Urobuchi, whose work I adore, and the anime was directed by Ei Aoki (who most recently worked on the brilliant Re:Creators), so I thought it was worth a shot, even if I've thus far found every other branch of this franchise to be physically painful.

The first thing that stood out to me was how much of a gap there is between Urobuchi and Kinoko Nasu's writing skills: Nasu has his characters drone on and on, delivering very little information in a lot of words, and usually adding a hefty dose of creepiness on top of it; Urobuchi, meanwhile, is markedly more concise, emotive, and clever in his use of language.

(Not that Urobuchi doesn't have a tendency to have characters drone on: Makishima in Psycho-Pass is evidence enough of that.)

Bafflingly, Fate/Zero isn't terrible so far. It may even be good. It's certainly not a great anime (at least not three episodes in), and it doesn't hold a candle to Urobuchi's later works, but it's easily the best branch of this particular tree.


Dragon Quest Heroes: The World Tree's Woe and the Blight Below.

So, when Reecey and I weren't playing Yakuza Kiwami, we were playing Dragon Quest Heroes, which is actually a charming little game.

It's a Warriors-style game, so a hack and slash with a wide range of characters, wherein they're pitted against dozens or hundreds strong hordes of enemies, with only bosses posing a threat and with the main challenge being a spinning-plates type thing, wherein you must defend multiple places at once by rushing between them.

It's got a fun, lighthearted storyline (despite the accidental implications that monsters are an oppressed slave class), some really fun gameplay, characters that aren't that deep but are at least a lot of fun, and the short missions mean that it's the perfect game to play in little bitesized chunks. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Teen Wolf S6E18+E19: Genotype & Broken Glass


Teen Wolf
Series 6, Episode 18 + Episode 19
Genotype & Broken Glass.



Another two parter! Wow, MTV is really eager to get this series over and done with, aren't they? I don't think I've ever seen a television network be in such a hurry to get a show well and truly off its channel.

Well, until the reboot, at least.

Also, because I feel I should bring this up since I made a big deal of it last week: Cody showed up again in episode nineteen! For all of two scenes. The fact that he can be out of the show for nearly three episodes and it changes nothing about the story does not say good things about how much stock the writers put in his and Mason's relationship, especially when we have several minutes devoted to the totally chemistry-less Scott and Malia having poorly lit shower sex.

Anyway, these episodes start off with the gang trying to find the Anuk-Ite: Scott and Liam hunt down its female half by trying to expose one of their teachers as a werewolf, for -- reasons; Mason and Theo hunt Aaron in the sewers; and Lydia and Malia attempt to wake up Halwyn and find out how to defeat the Anuk-Ite. Unfortunately, the Anuk-Ite merges into one body, a Skeletor-esque guy with glowing purple eyes who can turn people to stone when they look at it, leaving Scott and Malia to try to learn how to fight without sight from Deucalion; while Liam follows Nolan, who wants to show him something. Meanwhile, elsewhere, Argent meets up with Derek, and they both run into Kate, who steals a bottle of green wolfsbane for use on Scott.

Good news, guys! I've figured out why the pacing of this show is so atrocious. It's because rather than having shocking moments occur naturally in the story, every episode is working towards the shocking moment that ends the episode.

That's how we get, for example, Lydia and Malia doing a boke and tsukkomi skit about knocking Lydia out and/or MRI machines -- even though it would be more effective to have Halwyn's warning not to let the Anuk-Ite unite, and not to look at it if it does, halfway through the episode, the writers seemingly decided it had to happen at the end, where the moment was robbed of any tension or meaning because we already knew they were going to reunite (which they did, about thirty seconds later).

It's also how we get Liam and Scott wasting time trying to make their teacher shift instead of just asking her, even though they do, eventually, just have to ask her anyway. It's because they have to do something while they wait for the last ten minutes, because the last ten minutes is where all of the actual story is stuffed.

Oddly, there are other plotlines afoot that basically just completely lose their threads: The storyline with Nolan wanting to show Liam something comes out of nowhere and tapers off to a total non-finish; and Mason and Theo are never followed up on after Aaron gets away from them (and, in fact, Theo isn't seen at all after that). 

The episodes are far from irredeemable: Seeing Gideon Emery back as Deucalion is a treat, and the scenes with Argent and Derek are a lot of fun, even if they're rather thin on the ground. The Anuk-Ite is actually shaping up to be a halfway compelling villain, with shades of the eldritch abomination about it, and its alliance with Gerard is, at least, a halfway interesting one. Lydia's visions continue to be fairly atmospheric and sinister.

There is another elephant in the room we should briefly talk about, though: It's the same elephant we talked about a few weeks back -- the 'you have a black woman and a disabled boy facing off against heroic white law enforcement' problem. Well, good news, the white law enforcement is also evil now. Bad news, we're now explicitly comparing said black woman and disabled boy -- both of whom would have been Holocaust victims -- to Nazis, and their almost entirely white (Scott and Mason being the only ones who aren't), almost entirely straight (Mason, Cody, Aiden, and Jackson -- the latter three of which are barely in this show), entirely American (and needless to say there's a degree of controversy over depicting Americans as the victims of Nazis right now, when America is in every respect a Nazi state by any other name) heroic cast.

The icing on that particular cake of 'the writers didn't think this through' (because I'm certain they didn't: I don't think this is malice, just thoughtlessness) is that, you know, werewolves aren't real, whereas Jewish people in Germany and Austria absolutely were and did not have the advantage of claws and healing factors.

Anyhow, next week we have the very final episode of this show, with Stiles returning for what will surely be a very brief few scenes, and presumably everything with the Anuk-Ite and Gerard and so on and so forth being wrapped up. I mean, I guess. There's rumblings that the story might be left unfinished and wrapped up in podcast, which would honestly just be the perfectly awful way to end this series.

Ah, Teen Wolf. I don't hate you, but you have disappointed me for a very long time.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E12: The Triumphal Return of the Saint


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 12
The Triumphal Return of the Saint.




Is 'triumphal' even a word? It probably is. Probably is a word.

So, surprisingly, we have another episode in which stuff actually happens. I was shocked, because that's, what, three episodes now in which events have actually taken place, with some semblance of a story and, like, an arc that has a beginning, middle, and end? What on earth does it say about this series when basic storytelling gets me more excited than a furry at the Megaplex prom. 

So, this episode sees Darnic commanding Vlad (Lancer of Black) to assume his vampiric form, and the two of them merging, preventing Vlad from killing him. As the Vlad-Darnic vampire rampages, Jeanne commands Achilles (Rider of Red), Chiron (Archer of Black), Karna (Lancer of Red), Avicebron (Caster of Black), and Atalanta (Archer of Red) to form an alliance to take it down. Fleeing, Vlad-Darnic encounters Shiro, who kills him and reveals his true identity to Jeanne: He is the Ruler of the previous Holy Grail War, who has chosen to subvert this one to his own ends.

So, quick question: Why did Darnic think this was a good idea, again? Because all we know about this character is that he's preserved his youth by fusing with the souls of babies, and that he wants the Holy Grail for some undisclosed glory of Yggdmillenia reason -- but it's made clear that fusing with Vlad turns him into a barely intelligent beast who would definitely use the Grail to wish for everyone to be vampires, and something tells me that wasn't Darnic's original wish.

If the show had made more of a big deal of Darnic's will and personality being subverted by his new vampiric nature, I would've bought it, but as it is, Darnic just looks like an idiot who did something stupid and then proceeded to have a total personality transplant for the sake of drama. And don't say it's Vlad's mind influencing his, because Vlad's wish was to eliminate the vampire legend entirely.

Apart from that, I actually didn't hate this episode. We got some actual status quo shifts -- the leader of the Black Faction is dead, leaving it under Fiore's control; and the most powerful Black Faction Servant is also dead. At the same time, we actually find out some of what Shirou's deal is, including that he's Amakusa Shiro Tokisada, an apocryphal saint. 

All that means that not only is there a bit of a power vacuum in the Black Faction, but the numbers in the war has changed. The new count stands at four Black Servants, six Red, and three neutral Servants. That seems more equal than it is, because one of those Red Servants is Karna, the strongest character in the series by a long shot.

(Speaking of, what's Mordred doing right now? This episode is almost laser-like in its focus, to the point where I have no earthly idea what any of the characters not mentioned above are doing. Hell, what's Shakespeare doing? He's in the Hanging Gardens, after all, where Vlad-Darnic and everyone else also are. You'd think he'd at least show up to write a sonnet about Vlad-Darnic or something.)

The action is also surprisingly well-animated. Well, for this series, at least: It's not gorgeous, and it relies overmuch on having characters and objects move so fast that they're basically blurs, but it works out to something surprisingly effective when it comes to selling Vlad-Darnic as a threat -- which makes it all the more weirdly anticlimactic when Shirou unceremoniously murders him with magical wolverine claws.

This episode also gives us another flashback and, yet again, the flashbacks are the most interesting part of this show, with Shirou seeming to have some kind of love affair with a young woman, who then -- dies? Somehow? Darnic probably kills her? Darnic probably kills her.

Speaking of Shirou, though, this is a really odd situation where the show pulls a 'aha, plot twist' moment on us, but the plot twist is less interesting than what we all thought. Because 'Shirou Kotomine,' who looks like Shirou Emiya from Fate/stay night, but with Archer's hair and skin colour, seemed like he should be an AU version of Emiya, who was raised in the church and become a wrong'un. Instead, he's some apocryphal (yes, yes, it's in the title, well done) saint of little relevance to the story.

This brings us to the end of this story's third act, and also puts us at roughly the halfway point. Things we no doubt get to look forward to coming up: A new opening! More Hanging Gardens shenanigans! Many interminable episodes of people doing nothing! Sieg being a milksop! Mordred continuing to be one of the only interesting characters!

Saturday, 16 September 2017

What We're Watching 16/9/17


What We're Watching
16/9/17.



Outlander S3.

New Outlander! I admit that, even though Outlander is not exactly a good show (although it is, on occasion, an effective one) I am actually pretty happy about that -- for all its many flaws, I do really enjoy Outlander, especially since there's nothing else quite like it on television right now.

This third series is adapting Voyager, the third book in the series and also, coincidentally, the moment where the book series flings itself off the rails, with a massive timeskip and an oddly convoluted plot that is essentially all just a ruse to get the characters to America.

Last series showed us that the show tends to suffer when it takes Jamie and Claire out of Scotland, so god knows how this series is going to turn out.


Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.

So, in preparation for Let's Playing it, I've been doing practice runs of Death of the Outsider, and so far I'm very much enjoying it. 

It's a slightly different beast from the usual Dishonored fare -- there's no power upgrading (with, instead, you having all of Billy's relatively few powers from the second mission onwards), and no chaos system, meaning that you can kill as many people as you like.

To account for that, the game now incentivises stealth in other ways (you'll very quickly be overwhelmed if you try to fight your way through, and some powers only function if people are alive) and has made the missions longer and more complex, along with adding in optional contracts.


Jikan no Shihaisha.

You know, Jikan no Shihaisha is definitely growing from being a shameless Fullmetal Alchemist to being something that's really quite enjoyable, even if it's not going to be winning any awards soon. 

At the heart of why the show works is the weird family unit the main characters have formed, with their interactions helping to elevate what would otherwise be a very mediocre battle shounen to a -- slightly less mediocre battle shounen.

(The creative uses of time magic also help.)


Thursday, 14 September 2017

Kingdom Hearts: Five Disney Worlds and the Final Fantasy characters that would suit them. (A Reeceytorial.)



When I wrote my schedule for this month, I was assuming that I’d come up with a rant worthy subject to share with you all. I mean, this is me, you know me. I have about as much control over my temper as Bruce Banner.

Yet, somehow there has been no pop culture thing that has annoyed me enough to spend eight hundred to fifteen hundred words complaining about it. I have been alarmingly chill these last two weeks.

(Well, apart from being annoyed at PewDiePie, but we’re all tired of the endless think pieces on whatever he thinks he’s doing.)

So, today, let’s do something classic Fission Mailure and have some fun talking about a thing we enjoy and how it can be improved.

It’s a long running source of mild frustration for us on this blog that Kingdom Hearts doesn’t have more Final Fantasy characters in it. Sure, dedicated Final Fantasy worlds wouldn’t go amiss, but I think that it would be a lot more fun to try and integrate Final Fantasy characters into Disney Worlds. Which would help with this idea that the worlds in the series were once part of a larger united entity, because at the moment they are such discrete units that this backstory is obviously total nonsense.

So, what worlds would I put these characters in and who are the characters in question?


Kingdom Hearts: Five Disney Worlds and the Final Fantasy characters
that would suit them.
(A Reeceytorial.)



The Land of Dragons and Yang Fang Leiden.



If you’re not familiar with our boy Yang, he’s a warrior monk that appears in Final Fantasy IV.

Having there be a small allied mountain kingdom in the wider world of The Land of Dragons would only help it feel like a real place.

Sure the idea that China didn’t manage to invade and subjugate this kingdom, or at least tried to recently enough to make an alliance impossible, is somewhat laughable, but Disney is involved and Pocahontas exists. So why bother with logic?

Have him be attached to Shang’s unit and help out with training and the like.

Heck, you could have him be all ‘Wait, you’re actually a woman? I thought you were just trans,’ at the big reveal.

He could act as a supportive big brother type to Mulan. It would be nice and, since I’m a proponent of ‘for the love of god, split these film plots into multiple visits’, it would make Sora leaving Mulan in her time of crisis acceptable because Yang’s there.

Not to mention, it would be cute for this big, burly, warrior monk type to be in Mulan’s corner.


Port Royal and Balthier.



The great thing about Balthier is that he’s a sky pirate. This means that having him be able to travel between worlds is consistent with his presented character in Final Fantasy XII.

So as well as inserting him into the film plot as a long suffering wingman to Captain Jack Sparrow (he could condescendingly pat him on the shoulder when Elizabeth hugs Will, for example) there could be an additional plot thread where Sora and co. help him repair his ship and get the hell out of there.

Possibly with Jack in tow, because that would be entertaining as hell.

I’d also like to suggest a second character who could be integrated into Port Royale.


... Also, Lulu.



Of course, she’d need redesigning a heck of a lot more than Balthier or Yang, but I still think having her as a smart mouthed friend of Elizabeth’s during the Balthier centric section of the world would be deeply entertaining.

Heck, she could go with Balthier, and possibly Jack, when he leaves to show up in other worlds every now and then to offer assistance.

She could snark with Meg in Olympus Coliseum, it would be great!

Just having characters who move around more would help, to be honest.


Agrabah and Vaan, Penelo, Basch, and Ashe.



Rabanastre is also a desert kingdom.

You could very well have Ashe visiting Agrabah for the wedding of Jasmine and Aladdin with a small retinue consisting of the other three. You could even have Balthier’s dad be the one trying to revive Jafar for reasons of his own, causing a villain scuffle between him and Maleficent.

Villain scuffles are a lot of fun and need to happen more often.

You could also have a lot of this happen with Balthier and his little gang arriving for a big damn hero moment. Which, let’s be honest, is why I’d like Jack to go with Balthier. He could complain about the lack of ocean.

Also, Vaan and Aladdin could bond over their shared passion for those little waistcoats.


Halloween Town and Vincent.



Just have him lurk around as a weird loner.

Jack Skellington could constantly be trying to bring him out of his shell and enjoy Halloween.

His character arc could consist of the old ‘seemingly misanthropic but helps save the day because he really does care about Halloween Town’ and Jack and Sora could learn a valuable shared lesson that not everyone shows their love in the same way.

Not to mention that his Final Fantasy VII backstory includes an unscrupulous scientist and Halloween has one of those too.

Additional point while I’m on the subject of Halloween Town ...


... And Vivi.



He’d make a much more natural (and adorable) fit here than Twilight Town where they actually put him.

Seems like a missed opportunity, if you ask me.


The Pride Lands and Red XIII.



A non-experimented on version, obviously.

He could be from an area near the pride lands that is also negatively affected by the plot of The Lion King.

Sure, a bit simple, but it’s still a fun way to integrate the franchises together.


So, there you go, five worlds and nine characters who could have been integrated together to create more believable universe, and stopped those of us who like Final Fantasy more than Disney grinding our teeth into nubs.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Dark Matter


Dark Matter.



So, Dark Matter's been cancelled. We all knew that, right? We're all entirely clear on it being no more, ran up the curtain and joined the choir invisible, et cetera? It's a bit of a downer, not least because we're now down one space opera, but also because it ended on a hell of a cliffhanger, with space having been torn open to admit the alien Black Ships through.

Well, we're definitely never going to see the conclusion to that cliffhanger, but if it helps, the decision was motivated by Syfy's increased focus on original works that it can have a monopoly over, rather than acquired works where it shares the rights with other companies, and not down to a drop in audience -- in fact, the show still had a considerable audience.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E11: Eternal Radiance


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 11:
Eternal Radiance.



Well, well, well, another week where stuff has actually happened, surpassing my expectations in the process. Will wonders ever cease? Probably, yes. In fact, they'll probably cease next week, but I suppose we can dare to hope that the show might continue this streak of actually telling a story instead of meandering about pointlessly.

Continuing on almost directly from last week, this week's episode sees Mordred (Saber of Red) emerging victorious in her battle against Sieg (Saber of Black), only to be interrupted by the now crazed and monstrous Spartacus (Berserker of Red). As Spartacus unleashes a powerful sacrificial attack, Shirou, Semiramis (Assassin of Red) and Shakespeare (Caster of Red) move the Hanging Gardens into position to steal the Greater Grail. Incensed, Vlad (Lancer of Black), Chiron (Archer of Black), and Avicebron (Caster of Black) give haste, coming face to face with Karna (Lancer of Red), Atalanta (Archer of Red), and Achilles (Rider of Red). Meanwhile, Jeanne sets out for the Hanging Gardens, leaving Astolfo (Rider of Black) and Sieg to retreat.

So, wow, okay, wow, dude, man, amaze: There are actual changes to the status quo here! By the end of the episode, not only is the Greater Grail in new hands, but our Servant count has also changed, with the Black Faction down to five (really four, since Jack doesn't count) Servants, the Red Faction at six, and the neutral faction staying at two.

The episode predominantly focuses on Vlad and Jeanne, with each of them having their own plot threads (and never the twain shall meet). Vlad gets a rivalry set up with Karna, the only Servant strong enough to fight him on his own turf -- but, to be honest, it never rings entirely true. Karna represents a significant threat, sure, but we've not been given any indication prior to this point that Vlad is the sort of person who'd obsess over not being able to beat someone.

Still, it's one of the few interesting character dynamics the show has seen fit to give us, so I'm not going to look a gift vampire in the mouth. 

Speaking of gift vampires, though, we also get introduced to the idea that Vlad has a vampire-related Noble Phantasm, but that he despises its use and will kill his Master rather than use it, which is -- actually halfway interesting, to be honest. It's not difficult at all for me to imagine other writers having Vlad revel in his vampiric reputation, and cheerfully use those powers, but having him actually hate them, and see them as a stain on his reputation (as it diminishes his struggles as a king and lumps him in with the sorcerous undead) actually creates some nice character conflict: Does Darnic, who seems to respect Vlad, use those abilities, even though doing so puts him at risk? Does Vlad give in and use them himself, when it seems like his goal might not be in sight?

See? Character conflict! It's not difficult, and yet this show has spent eleven episodes struggling with it.

Having Shirou and company go and steal the Greater Grail was also a nice touch, even if I'm unsure of the point when they're all fighting over the Grail anyway. I thought the whole point of this war was to determine which faction had the right to use it? Surely if you win, it doesn't matter that it's in Yggdmillenia's castle, right?

Well, either way, it means the battle -- so far the most interesting part of this show -- continues, with people tangling in the hallways of the Hanging Gardens.

Which leads us onto our second, less interesting plot point: Jeanne's. Mostly, this plot thread seems here to write out Spartacus and show off some of Jeanne's abilities, but it does so in a way that almost deliberately saps any kind of dramatic tension the plot would have.

Basically, almost as soon as we see that Spartacus can heal from any wound, we're told he's at his limit and will release a powerful attack instead -- and instantly we know that we no longer need to care about Spartacus' crazy healing ability. There's no tension anymore, and there continues to be no tension because we know that Astolfo, Sieg, and Jeanne aren't going to be killed by a random energy blast from Spartacus of all people.

Problems in fiction can be compelling because we don't know the outcome, or compelling because we don't know how an outcome will be arrived at: In this case, the problem is compelling in neither respect -- overcoming Spartacus' healing factor would be an interesting thing to watch, but blocking his big crazy energy attack isn't, because we can pretty easily figure out that someone will just throw up a magical shield.

Still, I won't say this wasn't one of the more entertaining episodes we've had, and I'm actually reasonably interested to see what happens with Vlad, Darnic, and Karna next week, so I guess roll on next week? Maybe this show can actually salvage something worthwhile after all.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Teen Wolf S6E17: Werewolves of London


Teen Wolf
Series 6, Episode 17
Werewolves of London.



You know, for an episode that has marketed itself heavily on Jackson and Aiden (Ethan?) coming back, it hardly has them in at all. They show up in the cold open and very briefly at the end, and that's about it. 

All of which creates a somewhat odd situation: The writers and producers are clearly acutely aware that audiences want LGBT characters and relationships, otherwise their marketing wouldn't lean so heavily on that, and yet there is a total unwillingness to actually show those relationships happening, instead of just briefly showing an end point and asking us to fill in all the actually interesting stuff like how they met, how they got to know each other, et cetera.

(And before anyone goes 'but what about Mason and Cody!' I'd like to remind all of you that Cody hasn't shown up in two episodes, and Mason didn't show up in this one. Clearly, they are not characters the show sees as especially important. I'd also like to remind you that you didn't even notice that Cody wasn't in the past few episodes, because that's how little impact he has on the show.)

Saturday, 9 September 2017

What We're Watching 9/9/17


What We're Watching
9/9/17



Re:Creators.

Re:Creators has effectively finished its main plot now, closing things off with an emotional episode hinging entirely on the relationship between Altair and Setsuna -- a relationship we've actually never seen in the story before.

Surprisingly, it works. It works really well. There's an honesty to the writing that tugged at my heartstrings some, and the relatively quiet end to Altair's reign of terror is -- while not unexpected -- pulled off remarkably well. I know some fans are disappointed that it didn't end with a huge battle, but honestly, they kind of have themselves to blame for that: It was pretty thoroughly telegraphed that this is how things would end.

We have one more episode left, presumably to wrap up what's going to happen to the remaining Creations, and then this series (which has been one of the standout shows of the year) will be over for good. That's a shame, somewhat, but hey, Troyca can always rake in some cash by doing Elemental Symphony Vogelchevalier, Alicetaria of the Scarlet, Infinite Divine Machine Mono Magia, Lockout Ward Underground, and Code Babylon.


My Hero Academia.

My Hero Academia, another standout anime this year, is approaching the end of its second series, with an arc about pairs of students taking on their teachers. So far, it's a lot of fun, and I'm quite happily watching all the different pairings struggle on their tests -- all of which, of course, is building up to Bakugou and Deku versus All Might.

I've enjoyed watching this show so far, so I do hope that it gets renewed for a third series in short order, and all indications suggest that it probably will be.

Seriously, though, people can stop talking about how great a villain Stain was, now. He wasn't that great. He was just some guy with knives and subpar reddit-y talking points.


Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu.

I feel like this show has a bit of a tone problem. It really wants to be a dark, thought-provoking show about history, and regret, and duty -- and in its more understated moments, it sometimes even manages to somewhat achieve that.

But then you have plotlines like Horikawa's defection, which just feel painfully forced. I don't feel like the show has earned this plotline, or that it has any particular emotional weight attached to it. It just feels like a rather shallow attempt at adding drama and pathos to a show that doesn't have any.

It doesn't help that, eleven episodes into the show, everything the characters do just feels weirdly pointless. We still have no idea what the Retrograde Army are or what they want, apart from vague notions about changing history, so the struggle to keep history intact feels wholly empty. That's a big problem when you're hinging emotional plot points on the idea that preserving history is somehow important.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Magical Mystery Tour (1967) [Reecey].


Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
Review by Reecey.


Okay, so cast your minds back to my post about how much I hate the book A Rebours. At one point I mention that its tagline is that it doesn’t have a plot, and that that is a base lie.

Magical Mystery Tour, on the other hand could, and probably should use that tagline.

It doesn't have a plot! You have been warned.

This really shouldn’t be a surprise if you know anything about the production history, which you don’t, so you are.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Killjoys S3


Killjoys.




Oh, Killjoys. Between you and Dark Matter, might heart most definitely belongs to you, even if I sometimes have to admit that Dark Matter may be the stronger show. Imagine my pleasant surprise when, with an increased budget and a more focused storyline, revolving around the Rack gearing up for war against the Hullen, you outstripped Dark Matter by a significant margin this year, with the only real letdown being your rather lackluster final episode.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E10: Scattered Flower


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 10:
Scattered Flower.



Oh, man, could it be that things are actually going to happen that change the status quo and move the plot forward? What a lovely surprise! I should note that not a great deal happens in this episode, though: It really comes down to two things -- Frankenstein dying, and Sieg discovering the ability to transform into Siegfried. That's it, those are our only two plot developments of note.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Teen Wolf S6E16: Trigger


Teen Wolf
Series 6, Episode 16
Trigger.



This episode presents me with a dilemma, and it's related to what we talked about a while ago in terms of episodic vs serialised storytelling. Because, from an episodic standpoint, this is a pretty good episode, a tense cat and mouse game between Gerard on one side and Scott and Argent on the other, resulting in neither side getting what they want: Scott fails to destroy Gerard's weapon cache, and Gerard fails to take out Liam, Scott, or Malia. Placed earlier in the series, or in a longer series, this episode would surely be a triumph.

In a serialised show with only five episodes -- including this one -- left, it is a complete waste of time. The plot with Gerard and his hunters is barely advanced at all, and the plot with the Anuk-Ite is also barely moved forward, with the only development being that Aaron is still, in fact, a Very Spidery Guy, and seeks to make others Uncomfortably Spiderful. That's a problem when there's only a very limited number of episodes to work with -- it barely feels like there's enough to wrap up one of these plotlines, let alone both.

Friday, 1 September 2017

What We're Watching 1/9/17


What We're Watching
1/9/17


Jikan no Shihaisha.

Jikan no Shihaisha is firmly into what might be the final arc for this series (depending on if it's twelve episodes or twenty-four, nobody seems entirely certain), a character focused arc about Victor's childhood and regrets, and it's -- fine, I guess?

Victor's not a hugely compelling character, and the most interesting part of his backstory is very much not his childhood, so the characters hemming and hawwing over how terrible Victor was as a child (although I'm sure we'll find out that he wasn't really that bad) and how many regrets he has isn't that interesting.

Still, we'll probably see the introduction of the show's main antagonist in this arc, so that's interesting, I suppose. Thus far, this series is turning out to be a fun Fullmetal Alchemist knock-off, but not much more than that.


Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix.

Somewhat earlier than expected, I've started streaming Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix, which I've admittedly never played before -- I've played Kingdom Hearts II, of course, but I never saw much point in buying the Final Mix, until I decided to buy the PS4 bundles and do some streams of them.

I must say, the game's prologue is better than I expected. No less long (it really, really drags), but certainly a lot more enjoyable than I recalled it being. As a tutorial, it's definitely one of the most unique ones I've seen -- although I still hold that the game would have worked better if you played Roxas throughout, only switching back to Sora just before the visit to The World That Never Was.

Having a situation where Donald and Goofy have to adjust to a new status quo with a new keyblade wielder, and having that engender conflict, and finally having the player feel a mix of resentment and happiness as Roxas leaves and Sora returns would have been very effective. Then again, I suppose Kingdom Heart's writers are naught if not sort of cowardly.


Dragon Age: Inquisition.

It's been a while since I've played Dragon Age: Inquisition, but currently I'm experiencing it in a different way: By watching the streams of Reecey Plays Some Games, who, while new to the franchise in general, seems to have become rather quickly hooked.

It's difficult to know what modern games will become classics, but Dragon Age: Inquisition, which still has an involved and enthused fanbase some three years on from its release, with no sign of interest in it waning, is a pretty good contender. It really does stand head and shoulders over nearly any other Bioware game.

So, I'm enjoying revisiting it a lot. Please, Bioware, now is the time to announce Dragon Age 4. We all know you're making it.


Thursday, 31 August 2017

Old Harry's Game S3 [Reecey]


Old Harry's Game
Series 3

(Review by Reecey.)


Consider this your regular warning that this is a comedy series about hell. A lot of bad things are going to referenced in a humourous manner.

There, you have been warned, so let’s get back to work, shall we?

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

The Defenders.


The Defenders.



Marvel is certainly prolific, I'll give them that. Between their multiple cinematic releases, video games, big budget television shows, and growing number of small budget Netflix offerings, this one shared universe has been almost unrivaled in its output for years now. The most recent shot in Marvel's never-ending barrage of entertainment is The Defenders, a low budget crossover series combining Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, or 'Marvel's current Netflixers.'

Despite a relatively poor last offering in the form of a terrible Iron Fist series, buzz for The Defenders was pretty high, with a lot of people genuinely excited to see Matt, Jessica, and Luke interacting, with Danny as an unfortunate extra who they could, at the very least, mock.

So, did it live up to the hype?

Ehhhhh.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Fate/Apocrypha E9: Hundreds of Flames and Hundreds of Flowers


Fate/Apocrypha
Episode 9
Hundreds of Flames and Hundreds of Flowers.



It's truly amazing to me that in an episode with so many battles going on (six in total: Karna vs Vlad, Atalanta vs Spartacus, Semiramis vs Astolfo, Mordred vs Astolfo, Achilles vs Chiron, and Shirou and Shakespeare vs Frankenstein), so little can actually happen. It's like watching a battle shounen show devised by someone who has only ever had battle shounens (or anime, or fiction at all) described to them.

Look. I don't ask for every episode to radically change the status quo -- although, honestly, in a series like Fate/Apocrypha, I really should be asking that, since it purports itself to be a story of war and tragedy -- but I do insist on some kind of semblance of story and structure. Twists; a certain amount of back and forth; some kind of struggle; someone to root for. This episode fails to provide that: Instead, things just happen, and then they stop happening.

Continuing on immediately from last week's episode, this week sees Shirou (backed up by Shakespeare, Caster of Red) confronting Frankenstein (Berserker of Black) in the forest. As the two fight, it occurs to several people that Shirou is wholly unlike any normal Master. Meanwhile, Astolfo's (Rider of Black) assault on the Hanging Gardens of Babylon ends in disaster, and as he's beaten by Mordred (Saber of Red), Sieg must come save him. Jeanne attempts to locate Shirou, only to run afoul of Semiramis (Assassin of Red), who's intent on keeping them apart. Meanwhile, Karna (Lancer of Red) continues to duel Vlad (Lancer of Black), Atalanta (Archer of Red) duels Spartacus (Berserker of Black), and Chiron (Archer of Black) duels Achilles (Rider of Red).

Seriously, these summaries are predominantly composed of me clarifying everyone's designations. Sometimes, I have to remind myself, because I keep forgetting that Astolfo and Achilles aren't lancers.