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Anime

Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 5

Episode 5 – ‘Declaration of War’

Attack on Titan has been making the case that both Marley and Paradis Island have reason for war. However, episode 5, “Declaration of War” undermines this case. Willy Tyber reveals the sorted his of family and King Karl Fritz. As Tyber tells this tale, Eren and Reiner discuss their similarities, while the Scouts work behind the scenes. Able to hear the stage from the basement, Eren shows Reiner that he’s already cut his hand. Reiner ask Eren, “why he is in Marley.” He responds that he there for the same reason as Reiner, “he has no choice.” Reiner breaks down. Since the beginning of the fourth season, Reiner has been at the center. Particularly, his guilt at the death of his friend, the attack on Paradis Island, and the betrayal of the Scouts. Reiner is a more sympathetic figure. Falco Grice is also sympathetic. Having trusted Eren when he was unaware of who he was, he becomes a pawn in the war. When Falco realises that Eren is from Paradiso Island, he’s devastated that he aided the enemy. Eren apologizes.

Elsewhere, the soldier escorting Pieck, Porco Galliard, and Zeke Jaeger orders Zeke to “go to the gate.” Pieck claims to find the soldier to be “familiar.” Most fans would instantly think of Armin. The soldier is much taller than the Armin we remember, but he resembles him. Willy tells the audience the entire history of the Eldian Empire. Using the power of the Titans, the Eldians dominated humanity, wiping out “many ethnicities and cultures.” However, the story of the Marleyan hero Helos was false. King Karl Fritz was the one that wanted peace. The Tybur family and the King colluded together to end the violence. The King moved the Eldians to Paradis Island, threatening to unleash a thousand of Colossal Titans. Despite this threat, the King accepted the invasion of the Paradis Island because he believed that “the Eldian sins could never be atoned for.”

Eren Jaeger is a threat to world

The soldier brings Galliard and Pieck into an abandoned room. He cuts a rope near the wall, opening a trapdoor beneath the two Titans. Pieck notes that they’re “too cramped to transform without being squashed to death.” Back on stage, Willy tells the shocked audience that the peace King Fritz wanted ended when Eren stole the Founding Titan. He announces that the “new threat to the world is Eren Jaeger.” With the Founding Titan’s power, Eren can command “millions of Colossal Titans at any moment.” In the basement, Reiner tells Eren that “they wanted to save the world.” Eren seems to see himself in Reiner, who blames himself for the tragedies that happened to Eren. Although Eren claims that he and Reiner “are he same,” he will “continue moving forward until his enemies are destroyed.” Eren’s eye turns bright green, and he transforms in the room with Reiner and Falco.

Eren emerges from underneath the stage, crushing Willy and tossing him into the air. I thought Falco’s presence was going to prevent Eren from transforming. We assume that Eren’s the “good guy” and won’t kill a harmless child. Attack on Titan has been making the argument that there are no heroes, just sides. Regardless, if the Marley nation had left Paradis Island alone, they all would have peace. The fear and bigotry of the Marley’s lead them to attacking the Island, resulting in the uprising that caused Eren to rise in power. The cycle of violence started with the Eldians, but could have ended with the Marley nation. They instigated this war, now they must suffer the consequence.


Anime

Fire Force Season 2, Episode 24: Recap and Review

Captain Hague meets his end of Fire Force episode 24.
Captain Hague meets his end

Episode 24 – “Signs of Upheaval”

Fire Force season 2 episode 24 is the last episode of the second season. Benimaru runs Shinra and Arthur to the point of exhaustion. The demand to know “what the point of this training is.” Benimaru tells them he doesn’t know. Enraged, they attack him. It pleases Benimaru that they have finally used their anger. Despite their assault, Benimaru can still dominate them. He warns them not to “let their guards down.” Having taught them the “Breath of Life” Benimaru intends to teach them the “Pressure of Death.” The three spar for five hours, leaving Arthur and Shinra exhausted. However, Benimaru tells them that the “Superfire training” is just starting. After reaching his limit, Shinra loses consciousness, and he surrounds himself with Acala flames.

Within the flames, Shinra sees his Demon Infernal mother carrying his brother Sho. He then realises that he only has one life and can die. He doesn’t want to lose again and vows to get stronger. Arthur and Shinra both awaken new powers appearing to develop blue flames. Meanwhile, Kayoko points out that Konro’s flames aren’t special and it’s likely that there’s a connection is between Great Cataclysm’s that occurred in Asakusa and Soichiro. The “scarred” are now targets for the White-Clad this includes Joker, Leonard Burns, Soichiro Hague, and Konro Sagamiya. Soichiro Hague fights against the White-Clads “butcher.” The White-Clad member Gold has a gold arm and the ability to make her arm magnetic. She uses this to levitate objects and assassinates Hague.

He’s found by his subordinates hanging from the ceiling with metal nails protruding from his body. Shinra receives an Adolla Link where he learns of Hague’s death. He collapses, along with Arthur. They put captain Hague to rest, but they cover his death up as a suicide. Back in Asakusa, Captain Benimaru warns Konro that the White-Clad will return. He accepts that the empire must come together, even if it’s only for the sake of Asakusa and the 8th. The Stigma arc centers on those that have scars from Adolla Links. Fire Force often alludes to religion images, and Stigma is the latest one. In religion, stigma is a “mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.” So far, the White-Clad has killed one of the two targets. This latest arc is just getting started, but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.


Anime Movie

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train Review

Demon Slayer – The Mugen Train Arc

The Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga was first published in Weekly Shonen Jump from February 2016 until May 2020. The series was written and illustrated by Koyoharu Gotoge. Demon Slayer tells the tragic story of Tanjiro Kamado and his sister Nezuko, who become orphans after their family is massacred by a demon. Nezuko herself is turned into a demon. Driven to return his sister to normal, Tanjiro embarks on a journey to find a cure. The series became a hit especially after the anime adaptation in 2019. As of December 2020, the manga had over 120 million copies circulation and surpassed One Piece as the highest-selling manga of 2019 and has gone on to sell over 82 million copies in 2020. 

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train is the first film from the series. A direct sequel from the anime series, the film retells the Mugen Train arc. In the anime, Enmu was given Muzan’s blood after the demon leader disbanded (and killed) the lower Twelve Kizuki. Meanwhile, Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke are sent to join the Flame Hashira, Kyojuro Rengoku. The Hashira is investigating disappearances on the Infinity Train. Enmu is the cause of these disappearances. Enmu’s demon ability is dream manipulation. He can enter and control someone’s dream, it’s possible to kill them if he can destroy their “Spiritual Core.” Zenitsu, Tanjiro, Kyojuro, and Inosuke all get trapped in vivid dreams. Tanjiro dreams of his family, Zenitsu dreams of dating Nezuko, Inosuke dreams of being a “cave explorer” with Tanjiro, Nezuko, and Zenitsu as animal helpers, and finally, Kyojuro dreams of his family, particularly his father and brother. 

Kyojuro’s dream

Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train has the task of humanizing Kyojuro. At this point in the series we only just meet him. It’s important to make us care about him, especially considering how this movie ends. His father, Shinjuro Rengoku, was the previous Flame Hashira. Shinjuro seems nihilistic, responding to Kyojuro’s announcement that he became a Hashira, with “it was pointless.” It unclear what made Shinjuro this way but it’s obvious that Kyojuro wants his approval. As the four children enter the dreams and locate the spiritual core’s they’re attacked by Kyojuro, Tanjiro, Zenitsu, and Inosuke. After everyone awakens, Tanjiro heads to the roof of the train to face Enmu. Tanjiro attempts to cut Enmu’s head off, but the demon keeps putting him to sleep. However, Tanjiro can wake up almost instantly each time. 

Eventually, Tanjiro decapitates Enmu using Water Breathing 10th Form: Constant Flux. However, Enmu is still alive because he’s merged with the train. The concept of a demon changing its form and therefore its anatomy is interesting. I wonder if the series will explore this further or if this is a one-off. However, the following fight between the demon slayers and Enmu wasn’t interesting. The use of CGI was distracting and I found the repetitive hacking of Enmu computer-generated flesh boring. Only when Inosuke and Tanjiro worked together to defeat Enmu did it become enjoyable. After the train crashes the most exciting fight begins. After Kyojuro teaches Tanjiro to stop his internal bleeding, something lands behind them creating a dust cloud.

Akaza, the Upper Rank 3 was revealed in the first Demon Slayer movie.
Akaza is the Upper Rank 3

Upper Rank 3 Akaza verses Kyojuro

It’s revealed that the Upper Rank 3, Akaza was the cause. He instantly tries to attack Tanjiro, however, Kyojuro uses Flame Breathing: Second Form – Rising Scorching Sun, splitting Akaza’s arm in half. The demon attempts to recruit Kyojuro, asking him to become a demon. Kyojuro refuses and Akaza attacks with his Blood Demon Art: Technique Development – Destructive Death – Compass Needle. Akaza and Kyojuro move so fast that Tanjiro can’t follow them. Throughout the battle, it becomes clear that demons have a natural advantage over humans in battle. No matter how much damage Kyojuro delivers to Akaza, the demon simply heals and does so quickly. It’s still possible to win but it must be done quickly. Until Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train, those of us that only watch the anime was told that Hashira’s and Upper-Level Demons are at another level. 

Akaza and Kyojuro’s fight is a good display of the difference between the lower demon’s like Enmu and lower slayer’s like Tanjiro. Furthermore, the Upper Six can fight recklessly since the loss of limbs isn’t a concern, whereas, Demon Slayers much pace themselves, be disciplined, skilled, and cautious. Akaza and Inosuke note that Kyojuro’s form is flawless. When the fight reaches its climax, Kyojuro uses his Flame Breathing: Ninth Form – Rengoku verses Akaza’s Destructive Death: Annihilation Type. Kyojuro wounded both externally and internally is at his limit. After the dust clears, it’s revealed that Akaza has stuck his arm through the chest of Kyojuro. Undaunted, Kyojuro swings his sword into Akaza’s neck, Akaza tries to punch him but Kyojuro grabs his forearm. Akaza can’t break free and the sun begins to rise. After the blade digs deeper into Akaza’s neck he finally pulls free tearing his limbs off. He flees into the forest, as Tanjiro calls him a coward. 

Demon Slayer is about heart

Anime movies are often non-canon, creating lore that doesn’t impact the main series. In a lot of ways, this allows for more creative freedom. However, because Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train is adapted from an arc in the main story it has an impact on the story. This movie feels more “real.” This movie’s central themes focus on the “beauty of being human,” and “the sorrow of death.” Kyojuro argues for humanity’s value. He says that “growing old and dying” is beautiful and humans are only “loveable and precious” because of this. He notes that the strength in humans isn’t based on the body. The film opens with Ubeyashiki and his wife, Amane walking through a graveyard for demon slayers. He laments all the death and hopes that it will end with the next generation.

It’s a foreshadowing of Kyojuro Rengoku’s death. I expect that Demon Slayer is going to kill off more of the “good” guys, Tanjiro and Nezuko might be safe but I’m not sure anyone else will be. What has set Demon Slayer apart from other shonen series has been the emotional maturity of Tanjiro Kamado. He is willing to sacrifice himself to protect others, however, unlike other shounen protagonists, he does pursue power for power’s sake. Tanjiro’s heartbreak at the end was probably the most impactful part of the film, he barely knew Kyojuro but was devasted as he knew him for years. Kimetsu no Yaiba: The Movie – Mugen Train tells a story that emphasizes that it’s not strength that matters, it’s the heart. 

Anime

Jujutsu Kaisen Episode 10: Recap and Review

Episode 10 – “Idle Transfiguration”

In the tenth episode of Jujutsu Kaisen, Yuji and Ijichi investigate Junpei while Mahito and Nanami square off. After a flashback of Junpei being bullied, he explains to Mahito that he believes in “indifference.” Mahito encourages Junpei’s killer instincts. It remains to be seen if Junpei takes the next step to murder his classmates, but Jujutsu Kaisen is making the case for why he might. Mahito explains the concept of a “soul.” I found his explanation of the soul to be confusing. Regardless, he claims that “all emotions are the result of the soul’s metabolism.” Mahito can “reshape,” the soul using the Cursed Technique, Idle Transfiguration

The rules of engagement

Jujutsu Kaisen flip flops between Yuji and Nanami as they engage with Junpei and Mahito respectively. It’s done well but I keep wanting to see more of the fight. Anyway, Yuji and Ijichi follow Junpei with the intent to “attack” him. Ijichi explains the plan, 1) if he’s a normal person who can’t perceive curses, Yuji should save him. 2) If he can perceive it, but has no means to deal with it, then Yuji should also save him. 3) If he exorcises the fly head with jujutsu, Yuji should restrain him by force.

Or 4) if Junpei is a grade 2 sorcerer or higher, they must retreat. In Jujutsu Kaisen, the grade scale from grade four to grade one puts the Sorcerer above the corresponding Cursed Spirit grade. For example, a grade two sorcerer is slightly stronger than a grade two cursed spirit or a grade two sorcerer is closer to the power of a grade 1 curse.

We learn that Nanami is a grade one sorcerer, much to Mahito’s excitement. He claims that reshaping the soul of a strong sorcerer is preferable. Nanami and Mahito engage in an intense battle. Nanami lands the first serious hit, using his Cursed Technique to tear open the arm of Mahito. As his wrist dangles by his skin, Mahito is surprised that his block didn’t work. Mahito almost seems boneless as he waves his arm around. That could be an oversight in animation or something distinct about his body. I just don’t know. Regardless, Nanami isn’t interested in small talk and he wants the fight over by 6:oo pm. Mahito uses his ability to shape the souls of several humans, reforming their bodies to attack Nanami. 

Junpei meets Yuji

Elsewhere, Yuji makes contact with Junpei. However, the plan falls apart when a teacher unexpectedly arrives at Junpei’s home. Yuji distracts the teacher by taking his pants and running away with it. Junpei is mildly amused by Yuji but it seems to provide an opening for Junpei and Yuji to talk. Meanwhile, Mahito shows off so of the other abilities his Cursed Technique provides him. When he fails to transform Nanami, he avoids a strike from him by morphing his legs into horse legs. It’s an unexpected ability and does seem weird at first but it also suggests that Mahito might not have any limits on how he can “shape his soul.” If Nanami gets touched by Mahito two or three more times then he will cease to be human. When Nanami’s watch strikes 6, Nanami undoes his tie and increases his curse energy. He’s preparing to go into “overtime.” 

I admit that I thought Nanami was going to get killed. Now I’m not so sure. He’s handled himself much better than I thought possible. Mahito’s power is interesting. I wonder if there’s a limit to it or what the limit is. Jujutsu Kaisen presents the Cursed Technique as being more sophisticated than initially suggested. I think we’re going to see more techniques from Nanami. I’m also not sure how the Junpei storyline is going to play out. Yuji can be effective even if he’s a bit immature. However, this might undermine the image that Junpei has regarding humanity. Would it be enough? 

Anime

Haikyuu!! To the Top Episode 23: Recap and Review

Kageyama focuses down match point in episode 23 of Haikyuu!! To the Top.
Kageyama focuses down match point

Episode 23 – “The Birth of the Serene King”

The twenty-third episode of Haikyuu!! To the Top begins with the Inarizaki up 18-17 on Karasuno. Suna quickly scores, telling Tsukishima that “he lacks stamina.” In the next point, Tsukishima and Kageyama fail to implement a synchronized attack, resulting in an error. They each take the blame for the failure. In the following point, Tsukki gets the spike past Aran and Omimi. Asahi prepares to serve and the commentators note that he’s only been getting 50% of them in this game. With Inarzaki with a 20-17 point lead, he hits a powerful service ace in the corner. The Miya twins get excited. Kita can receive Asahi’s next serve. Aran gets the spike but Tsukki gets the one-touch. Asahi then fails to get his spike through Atsumu. Suddenly, Osamu and Atsumu attempt the knew quick attack but they’re off. Daichi receives the next ball and joins the sync attack.

Kageyama sends him the set and Daichi spikes it. Kita attempts to receive, but it bounces off into Inarizaki’s banner. The teams are tied at 20-20. Asahi is up to serve again. It clips the net. Akagi gets it back over but Tsukishima smashes the ball before Atsumu can return it. However, the lead is short-lived as Omimi immediately scores. The Miya twins try another quick attack but they pivot at the last minute allowing Aran to score. Inarizaki goes up 22-21. Tsukki steps up to serve. Due to his weakness in serving Karasuno is alert especially Hinata. Suddenly, Atsumu performs a setter dump. Daichi quickly tries to get his team to move past the point. In the next rally, Inarizaki reaches the match point.

Karasuno save match points

The Aoba Johsai High members watch cheering for Karasuno to make a comeback. Asahi receives Aran’s serve, Kageyama sets for Tanaka who attempts a cross-shot. However, Omimi blocks it. Nishinoya gets the save and Kageyama sets to Hinata. Aran manages to pop the ball up, the ball is too low but Atsumu makes the set anyway. Kageyama gets another chance to set to Tanaka. Ukai notes that “Inarizaki’s blockers have been more cautious of Tanaka ever since he managed the cross-shot that won the first set and how the blockers have been subtly cutting off the path for Tanaka in case he were to attempt it again.” However, another path is left open, straight up the line. Karasuno is excited and Inarizaki is shocked. Regardless, Inarizaki is still up a match point. 

Kageyama prepares to serve. He makes a powerful serve but Osamu receives it. The power of the service causes the ball to go over the net landing out. The teams are now timed at deuce. Kageyama uses a powerful serve the next time, surprising Inarizaki. They still get the ball over but Hinata gets the spike, giving Karasuno match point. Ginjima saves match point after Atsumu sets in the next point. Deuce. In the next rally, Kageyama barely manages to reach the ball before Suna. When the ball falls straight down, Hinata kicks it over the net. Karasuno has match point again. Episode 23 of Haikyuu!! To the Top ends on a cliffhanger. This episode was successful at building tension and anticipation. It was intense. The match was notable for its focus on characters other than Hinata and Kageyama. At first, I was resistant to it but I think this series was effective. Ending the episode at match point is an odd choice. However, I’ll reserve judgment after I see the next episode.