Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit Review

moribitoStory:
Balsa is a bodyguard for hire, but in all her travels she has never been tasked with a more challenging ward than Prince Chagum, a sweet and caring child with the misfortune of housing a water spirit’s egg, a thing the royal house will not allow to live. Fearful for her son, the empress hires Balsa to keep him safe but her skills alone may not be enough against the entire royal house’s army…

Violence:
This show doesn’t use violence for shock value, however there is a lot of it considering the set up. Expect cuts, blood and death. It’s tastefully done, but definitely a show deserving it’s TV14 rating.
Side warning: At one point, the prince learns how to kill and skin wild animals to eat during winter. Again, it’s not focused on for long, but seeing animals being gutted can be extremely disturbing for some, regardless of how short the scene is. Be well warned.

Language:
Some b-words and d-mns are the worst, but they are rare things.

Nudity:
We don’t get any of this besides a scene of Balsa being shirtless while her wounds are tended to. It’s not sexual at all and the screen keeps to her face. Is it sad how happy that made me? Probably, but honestly I loved how clean this show was in this sector.

Theology/mythology:
This is probably going to be the determining sector for a few people. This story’s world has it’s own folklore, religions and customs. This makes the story incredibly believable and rich, but it also means the idea of the afterlife, magic and monsters can’t be ignored. These are active parts of the story and if anything like that bothers you, skip this title.

Personal impression:
This show was amazing. Easily the best show I’ve watched in a long time. The world is vivid and has a rich history of its own. Despite how much background needs to be revealed it’s never done in the dreaded info-dumping manor. Instead, it comes about naturally or through conversation. I never felt as if the information being given was forced in any way.
The characters are also unique and their development is slow at times, but very deliberate. There’s no point in which I felt their arcs were wondering aimlessly. The lead Balsa is especially amazing to watch. She’s a strong woman but is not treated the way most “strong women” are in anime. She gets a mixed bag of opponents, some which see her for her skill and some of which only see her gender, but the series, and her character, take this in stride. I never felt as if the show was pushing any agenda. Things in that world simply were and the characters dealt with it as best they could.
The music and art are also exceptionally good, as expected from a Production I.G. work. But still I felt as if this show’s art was especially so. The movement was amazing. Balsa’s weapon of choice is a spear and her movements in combat with it are beautiful to watch. Even soft scenes of nature are skillfully rendered, from dragonflies in the air to frogs leaping around in a rice paddy farm. The fact that this level of art remains consistent for twenty-six episodes is… well, let’s just say that it’s rare enough to see mediocre shows keep up these days.
If I had to find a flaw in this show it would be one arc in which, for around five to six episodes, there is a massive communication failure between leads. For no reason. It’s actually pretty obvious the creators wanted to make a plot reveal later more dramatic, but it’s very frustrating to watch as both characters are walking side by side for DAYS without discussing things they would normally be discussing. It’s a break from an otherwise very well written script and that makes it stand out all the more as a bad chunk. Thankfully it does get resolved eventually and the excellent scripting from before kicks back into place.
Overall this show is amazing and a very high recommend from me. My only regret is that I didn’t see this show sooner.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 26
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, adventure, action., drama
Company: Production I.G.
Production: Media Blasters
Official streaming: Yahoo View

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Hinako Note Review

hinakoStory:
Girl who has a hard time interacting with others moves to a big city to become an actress and ends up living in a strange dorm with strange girls and maybe comedy comes from this but mostly it’s just an excuse to tick off all the moe boxes anime seems to demand these days.

Violence:
Slap stick only over here. If you see blood, it’s only for comedy and never graphic.

Language:
Maybe some sh-ts here or there, but rarely and overall this sector is pretty clean.

Nudity:
This is where it goes downhill from a nearly All Ages rating and lands squarely in the YA sector. Most of the time this show’s art keeps the characters in either chibi form or a very generic style prime to be more cute than sexy. However, randomly, and at least once but often more per episode, the art swings right into heavy ecchi territory (if you aren’t familiar with that term, it’s essentially “soft porn”). We don’t see bare details, but it’s obviously sexual and yes it will give you genre whiplash.

Theology/mythology:
Aside from some usual shenanigans concerning school ghost rumors and going to shrines, not much here. No discussions or deep theories on life. This show is shallow and does nothing to hide that.

Personal impression:
I played this show whenever I was doing the dishes. That probably tells you everything you need to know, but I’ll elaborate a tad just in case.
This show isn’t horrid. It has a few chuckle worthy moments here and there. But generally it’s boring. The characters are all stereotypes watered down to keep them as moe as possible at all times. No true conflict ever occurs. No character development ever occurs (the show’s lead even admits that in the final episodes).
This is a filler show. It does nothing well, but also isn’t insulting enough to warrant a drop from the get go. Unless, ya know, you’re bored. And you probably are.
The art and voices aren’t jarring though, so it’s decent background. Especially as you can trust nothing will really change in the moments you have to change the drain or put a cup away and miss a few minutes as a result. Nope. There will be no change.
This is a show I’m sure moe addicts would love, but for the rest of us, background noise is about all I’d recommend this one for.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 12
Languages: sub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Slice of life, comedy
Company: Passione
Production: Kadokawa Pictures
Official streaming: Crunchyroll

GRANBLUE FANTASY: The Animation Review

granStory:
Gran would like nothing more than to leave his village and set off to find his father, long sense missing after he pursued a tale of a mysterious island. But those dreams go on hold when a girl plummets to the forest, dropped from a military ship and with little knowledge of what she is.

Violence:
This is the only reason this show got bunked up to YA. Creatures are cut in two and in a dream sequence our heroine is walking in a lake of blood. Although this show still remains tame overall, it’s juuust enough that I felt I needed to bump this one a rating higher. That said, even if violence isn’t your thing, it’s really not that bad in this one. I’d say this is an avoid for you if any blood at all sets you off. Otherwise, this show is pretty tame.

Language:
Tame. Sh-t and d-mn are the most common, but they happen rarely.

Nudity:
We’re spared this for most of the entire show. Until the last two episodes. Then the overly skimpy outfits and boob fixations began. A shame as most of the show is in the clear for this sector.

Theology/mythology:
The ideology of this world doesn’t seem to put much stake in God or any normal variant. However there are these “beast” creatures that seem to have demigod abilities and are treated as “guardians” of specific elements or locations. If that kind of thing bugs you… Also, magic is used in this world. No details are given on how it works though.

Personal impression:
Remember that Phantasy Star title awhile ago? Yeah, this is like that one but with less character development and far more obvious “see isn’t this a cool world? Wouldn’t you like to play this as a game?” vibe.
Overall A-1 really did a nice job with what they were given. The world is crisp and the animation nice to look at. It’s nothing unique at all, but it’s not bad either. In fact, the relationship dynamics between the main cast are kinda cool. No typical anime romance triangle garbage. Just old school comradery. And we get two female leads that have a solid relationship with each other that has nothing to do with the male lead. So not a horrible show character-wise.
Until that second to last episode when they dump in every other party member you could have chosen instead in the game version out of nowhere. But if that makes you cringe, it gets better. The last episode goes back and switches to a female lead and the story doesn’t change AT ALL. It’s such an obvious shrill for the game that it hurts. To make the pain more grotesque they then take full advantage of the new all female cast and drag the rest of the episode into a -yooou guessed it!- beach vacation. Because anime boobs. I should have known the clean of fanservice angle would die, but this method really takes the cake.
The only redeeming bit about that last episode is how surprisingly more reliable the female lead seems than the male, Gran. When we finally see her in combat, she often isn’t even looking at the enemy, slicing one after another as if she’s making a grocery list while chatting on the phone. Think Wonder Woman on crack. It was actually kinda cool, in a funny and very unexpected way.
Overall, this show isn’t offensive (until the end) but it also offers absolutely nothing new. If you like the game or like generic RPG stuff, this will do the trick. But there’s nothing else to be had here. Nothing at all.

Personal rating: Young adult

Episodes: 13
Languages: sub and dub
Official rating: TV14
Genre: Fantasy, adventure
Company: Aniplex
Production: A-1 Pictures
Official streaming: Crunchyroll