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Hunterson Magic Wallet

July 28, 2017

After years of use, my wallet was looking the worse for wear, it was time to replace it. Being an older design black leather men’s wallet, it definitely was sturdy but its classic layout was not optimised for cards and through daily abuse it unfortunately became one of those bulky wallets filled to the brim with receipts, notes and the like.

While there’s plenty of fun, interesting and moderately priced anime themed wallets available online, their quality usually leaves to be desired and their layout is surprisingly not modern at all. Hence, opted to look for a well-designed, modern slim wallet instead.

Looked at several interesting candidates, including Bellroy’s slim sleeve, the Skagen by Nordstrom and Ögon’s aluminium card case, but I opted for the Hunterson Magic Wallet in black leather with RFID protection.

Granted, there are plenty of resellers to be found online that offer the magic wallet or other slim wallet designs at much cheaper prices, but build quality and durability are a legitimate concern with those priced-down products. Preferred to get the genuine article from Hunterson instead with real leather and tough straps that should last.


Tales of Berseria

July 24, 2017

Recently completed the main and major quest lines of “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” after having played its special edition on Playstation 4 for many hours since its release last October. Although I likely will revisit this excellent game for another run with a different character build and orientation, was keen on trying something else even though I usually tend to spend a year or more playing the same immersive game.

When the Playstation Store ran a special summer sale earlier this month featuring discounts on games created in Japan like “Nights of Azure” or “Star Ocean Integrity And Faithlessness”, took advantage of the opportunity to grab “Tales of Berseria” for Playstation 4 at half price.

Friends had recommended “Tales of Berseria” to me and it has been far too long since I played a good jrpg. Also, had quite enjoyed the two episodes featuring the “Tales of Berseria” cast that aired during the “Tales of Zestiria The X” anime which showcased one of the games earliest chapters.

Made a few dozen hours of progress into the game already, am enjoying it so far and it has positively impressed me. Velvet is an intriguing main character and a welcome departure from the usual, superficial too-good-to-be-true male protagonist often used in such games. Also, the interaction between Velvet and Eleanor over Laphicet has been hilarious.

Plus, it is nice to play another game where not everything is overly simplified into good or evil, but instead characters their choices, positions and actions are a complex range of shades of grey, although it does not achieve the level of how a gem like “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” worked with this.

After two open world games, it did feel somewhat odd though to go back to a typical jrpg play style and map navigation. The cutscenes and dialogue animations though are superbly animated by studio ufotable, making them feel much more immersive and enthralling than in engine generated cutscenes.

Centaur no Nayami

July 17, 2017

Was looking forward to “Centaur no Nayami”, the anime adaptation of the “セントールの悩み” manga by Murayama Kei as it brought some refreshing elements to the monster girl genre that is mostly known for harem, ecchi or other fanservice oriented franchises.

On the surface “Centaur no Nayami” might look like your average slice-of-life story in a school setting but instead of humans, all characters are centaurs, mermaids, demons, angels or other hybrids. Throw in some comedy, a bit of yuri fanservice and that would be already sufficient for your decent average anime, luckily “Centaur no Nayami” delivers more than that.

Using its core premise and daily life setting, “Centaur no Nayami” surprises by injecting sociological and political elements, making the audience reflect on our own society. In the original manga, this does lead to a jarring contrast between the lighthearted slice-of-life chapters and those few more serious chapters. Sometimes it felt as if you were reading a different manga altogether.

Considering the opening sequence suggests the anime is a bubbly slice-of-life show about cute monster girls, was quite glad to discover they did include the sociological and political commentary from the manga. The first episode cleverly uses a classroom lesson scene to explain the story’s background and world setting in a simple way, while at the same time making poignant observations about the world these characters live in.

The original art in the manga is fairly simple, a style with clear lines and little clutter, was curious if they could elevate this franchise to a higher level by delivering excellent animation and richly detailed characters and backgrounds or by using exciting visuals. Unfortunately, the animation is rather average overall, although I must specify some key scenes are surprisingly well done, for instance centaur Himeno’s galloping seems spot on.

Those of you who are looking for an average slice-of-life series with cute girls doing cute things, then you’ll likely enjoy “Centaur No Nayami”. If you are looking for a show featuring more interesting themes, I still do recommend you give this anime a try as it may offer enough things to surprise you.

You can watch “Centaur No Nayami” as “A Centaur’s Life” on Crunchyroll.

New Game!!

July 14, 2017

The “ニューゲーム”four-panel manga by Tokunou Shoutarou already spawned a first anime adaptation that aired last year, this workplace slice-of-life comedy is back for a second season with “New Game!!”.

A year has passed since Aoba joined game developer Eagle Jump, the company has just released their latest game, Aoba has gotten more familiar with her quirky colleagues and working society. What new silly shenanigans will the girls be up to next?

The first episode of this second season made fans feel right at home, it had all the typical elements that make “New Game!!” such an enjoyable anime and features some scenes that paralleled with the opening episode of the first season.

While overall its characters are fairly default, the comedy is classic and the series offers little besides excellent workplace comedy and a typical but refreshingly idyllic slice-of-life world of cute girls having fun doing everyday things, “New Game!!” is nonetheless a solid show that offers viewers exactly what it promises, cute and fun entertainment.

In contrast to the manga, the anime did not show male characters at Eagle Jump, not in its supporting cast nor in the background mob characters, which was pointed out by viewers when the first season aired. Was pleasantly surprised when the opening episode of the second season featured Aoba openly questioning this absence of male coworkers, leading not only to some classic humour at Rin’s expense, but it was a nice tongue-in-cheek statement.

Sure, you could lament that the shoujo-ai is little besides fanservice and suggestive bait to reel in more viewers, but for this type of anime, that approach of suggestion, superficial and innocent fun without committing to any specific direction does work.

Do appreciate how “New Game!!” is one of those series that properly realises what it’s about and what it’s trying to achieve, which is simply to show viewers cute girls doing fun things as they go about their daily lives in an idealised workplace. This makes the anime much more entertaining thanks to it being grounded in its own reality of being mindless, innocent and fluffy fun with plenty of shoujo-ai.

Can’t wait for the next episode!
You can watch “New Game!!” on Crunchyroll.

Isekai Shokudou

July 10, 2017

Yet another anime adaptation of an isekai genre light novel? In a popular, but in recent years overdone genre that not always (or often) yields good franchises, can this new anime based on the “異世界食堂” light novels by Inuzuka Junpei really bring viewers something new and fresh?

It most definitely can because “Isekai Shokudou” is not a typical isekai story, it is instead a most welcome breath of fresh air for this genre. Admittedly, even though it has another world or ‘isekai’ in its title and features plenty of fantasy elements, this show is not merely an isekai story but is actually more a cooking anime.

Most anime that feature cooking as a core theme do mix it with another genre, for instance “Shokugeki no Souma” with the shounen tournament genre, “Ben-to” with comedy in a typical school setting, and “Koufuku Graffiti” with soothing slice-of-life. “Isekai Shokudou” does the same, mixing cooking with a fantasy setting.

Don’t let these fantasy elements fool you though, because “Isekai Shokudou” feels more like a culinary anime with a slice-of-life style atmosphere. Each episode does feature plenty of fantasy due to the restaurant’s patrons coming from another world, each having a unique backstory and positive reaction to what is otherworldly cuisine to them. However, this seems little more than a gimmick to create a different spin on what are otherwise classic character templates or background stories.

Thoroughly enjoyed the first two episode of “Isekai Shokudou”, do hope it will keep its current level or even improve because it has plenty of potential to become a terrific slice-of-life cooking anime.
Although personally I would not yet label “Isekai Shokudou” as equal to or really the same as the sublime “Koufuku Grafitti”, both anime feel quite similar in their pacing and how the cuisine is a catalyst for the characters emotions, dialogue and interactions.

If you enjoyed “Koufuku Grafitti” or “Shokugeki no Souma”, then I definitely recommend you give this show a try.
You can watch “Isekai Shokudou” as “Restaurant to Another World” on Crunchyroll.

Netsuzou Trap -NTR-

July 7, 2017

Having a penchant for the yuri genre, was looking forward to the “Netsuzou Trap -NTR-” anime. Adapting the “捏造トラップ-NTR-” manga by Naoko Kodama, its story centers around childhood friends Yuma and Hotaru who develop feelings for each other during their high school years. Conflicted by these emotions, it puts a strain on their friendship and relationship with their respective boyfriends.

Seems that the story may hold plenty of drama as these teen girls struggle to figure out how they truly feel about each other. Am uncertain how the anime adaptation will turn out though, will it be a serious yuri story with dramatic moments and mature emotions, or will the show instead focus on cheap fanservice thrills to reel in viewers?

Based on the first episode alone, I cannot say how good the anime will be. Even though some key scenes contained obvious hints about the characters’ state of mind and likely things to come, this first episode featured plenty of yuri fanservice bait as well.
Still, when done right and in good taste, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the occassional anime centered on yuri fanservice.

Remains to be seen if the short episode running time will be of benefit to the show, enabling it to focus on key events, creating a more potent story that does not feel watered down or lingers on filler material. However, its short running time could be detrimental if this character driven story wastes too much time on yuri fanservice or other gimmicks.

Look forward to watching the rest of this series and hope it will bring fans a solid, good yuri story.
You can watch “Netsuzou Trap -NTR-” on Crunchyroll.


July 3, 2017

Although the very first “Fate/stay night” anime adaptation left much to be desired, the recent “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” television series and the “Fate/Zero” adaptation were both excellent anime, so was looking forward to the “Fate/Apocrypha” anime.

Adapting the original “フェイト/アポクリファ” light novel series into anime, its story is set in an alternate timeline where the events of “Fate/Zero” and “Fate/stay night” never occurred. Instead of a Grail war between seven servants and their masters held in Japan, “Fate/Apocrypha” takes place in Romania where two factions fight an all out Grail war, each faction pitting seven servants and their masters against the other.

As was to be expected for an adaptation of a Type Moon story, the first episode introduced a slew of characters and had quite a bit of plot exposition. Luckily the episode opened with an eye-catching, action packed battle sequence that fired you up, making viewers curious to see more and discover what is to come.

While the anime is slated for a twenty-five episode run, am somewhat apprehensive that its large cast could lead to a portion of them being generic characters that have little screen time and are never truly fleshed out. The fact that some servants have far more outlandish designs than the iconic characters from earlier Fate stories reinforces my impression that most will serve little purpose besides being window dressing.

Nonetheless, do hope the show will be an entertaining fantasy action anime like “Fate/Zero” and “Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works” are. Am anxious to see the rest of the story unfold and the epic battles between servants and masters alike because I am confident “Fate/Apocrypha” could be another addition to the great fantasy action anime based on Type Moon’s ‘Fate’ franchise.