A review of Children of the Sea, how anime depicts athletes, and the promise of Black Myth: Wukong

A review of a unique anime

I have been meaning to review the anime movie Children of the Sea, however, I just returned to school (digitally), and have a backlog of anime to review. Regardless, Maya Phillips has a brief review of the movie. The movie combines “traditional hand drawing and C.G.I. technology.” Children of the Sea is an odd story that has phenomenal animation. Maya compliments the score by Joe Hisaishi calling it “whimsical string-heavy,” and “dazzling.” However, she’s not fond of the conflict between the C.G.I. and drawing saying that “the drawings make the C.G.I. look artificial, and the C.G.I. flattens the drawings.” 

Check out the review.

How anime depicts athletes

Also in the times is an article discussing the limits anime chooses when animating athletes. Maya Phillips writes “Because animation is free from the physical limitations of reality, it would be simple for these anime shows to slough off trifles like gravity” . . . ” they depict athletes as living just a few toes beyond the realm of possibility.” She mentions series like Yuri on IceHaikyuu!!, and Kuroko’s Basketball. She talks about how these series “dramatizes athletes surpassing the body’s limits.” She end’s the piece with Yuri on Ice, focusing on fluid animation, “The skaters swivel and swerve, fan out their arms and legs in a large circular sweep, then tuck themselves into tidy spins.” 

Check out the article.

Concept art for Black Myth: WuKong
Concept art for Black Myth: WuKong

A promising indie game

Final a few days ago I was introduced to a stunning game called Black Myth: Wukong. A project from Chinese indie developer Game Science, the gameplay trailer is impressive. According to IGN the founder, Feng Ji, wanted to use the video as a recruitment tool. IGN goes through what is currently known about the title and its developer. Game Science was founded in 2014 and produces mobile and free-to-play games. The story is based on the classic Chinese myth, Journey to the West. It gets its name from Sun Wukong or the Monkey King. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t have a release date, so it’s unclear when we could see it. 

Check out the preview


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My Top Five Sports Anime

I uses to wonder why anyone watched sports anime. Why not just play it or watch on tv? It can’t be more entertaining than real thing, right? Turns out it can be or at least sports anime is a different kind of entertainment. Regardless, I learned to love some anime sports. The best sports anime create drama through the characters and matches, while explaining the rules of the sport. I prefer series that allow the protagonists to lose from time to time. Even if the main character is a prodigy, even body loses in sport. At least sometimes. My top five are:

5. Air Gear

Air Gear is the least realistic of the anime on this list. Air Gear is an in-universe invention that is based on inline skates. Itsuki Minami “Crow” is the main character. Air Gear focuses on Ikki and his friends as the try to climb to the top of Trophaeum Tower. Personally, I preferred the manga to the anime because of the amazing art of Ito “Oh Great” Ogure. The anime isn’t true to the manga series leaving out some story aspects. Overall, Air Gear is fun, high action comedy anime.

4. Prince of Tennis

The Prince of Tennis series from Takeshi Konomi. Adapted from the manga in 2001, the series featured several OVA’s, 178 episodes and a movie. I love Tennis. It’s my favorite sport, so seeing it get the anime treatment was exciting. The animation in this series isn’t great, but the dramatic matches, and the dynamic presentation of tennis is entertaining.

3. Ping Pong the Animation

The first thing you notice when watching Ping Pong the Animation is the animation style. Rather innovative the art style is fluid in motion and the line work is phenomenal. That said, its unique styling isn’t going to work for everyone. Some characters can look deformed at times, but I didn’t find it of putting. The series focuses more on the characters than you would expect. Ping Pong the Animation is a complex series, with electrifying animation, and good character building.

2. Yuri on Ice

I only pay attention to Ice Skating during the winter Olympics. So when I kept hearing about Yuri on Ice I wasn’t convinced I would like it. After the first episode I was hooked. The ice skating was well done. With great music, camera angles, choreography, and animation Yuri on Ice stands out. However, it’s the characters that makes the series great. The main characters Yuri Katsuki, Yuri Plisetsky, and Victor Nikiforov all feel real. At the same time the secondary characters all have interesting stories. You hope they skate the best routine, and are heart broken when they fall.

1. Haikyuu

Volleyball is one of those sports that everyone thinks they can play. It was one of the sports I was required to play in basic gym class. Most of the class was uninterested in the game, but if you grade depends on participating you better try. It was surprisingly fun to play once everyone got involved. Haikyuu reminded me of this moment. Turns out real volleyball isn’t that easy. Haikyuu explains the strategies to the audience. Like Yuri on Ice, this series has amazing animation that works well with the action. Centered around the short Hinata and his antagonist/best friend Kageyama, Haikyuu is awesome. Balancing emotion, with dramatic action, and the occasional loss, Haikyuu is the best sports anime in my opinion.

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Haikyuu!! Season 4 Episode 13: Recap and Review

Image of Aran Ojiro, Inarizaki's Ace from Haikyuu!! To the Top.
Aran Ojiro, Inarizaki’s Ace.

Episode 13 of Haikyuu!! To the Top, is the final one of the season. Karasuno runs up against one of the favorites to win the tournament, Inarizaki High. In a meeting, Ukai focuses the team on the ace of Inarizaki. Aran Ojiro is a third-year wing spiker. He has height and power. Just outside the top three, he is going to be a major threat. The goal, use the same tactics against Aran that they did against Ushijima. If they can focus on defense, they might be able to stop Aran from getting the ball. The next threat is Rintaro Suna. A second-year middle blocker, Suna, is short compared to his peers. However, he’s exceptional. Ukai notes that he’s likely to use the “quick attack.” Finally, there’s Atsumu Miya. The number one high school setter, he’s also known for his service. He can use spike serves and jump float serves. Meaning Karasuno will have a hard time reading his serves.

Let the game begin

At the warm-ups, Karasuno watches Inarizaki. The twins, Atsumu and Osamu, set and spike. As Karasuno begin their warm-ups, Hinata impresses with the height of his jump. The game begins. Atsumu serves, despite being disrupted by cheering girls, he hits an ace. His next serve, however, is out. For team Karasuno, Asahi is next to serve. The loud Inarizaki cheering section begins to boo. Ukai states that they’re trained to be “perfectly quiet for their own teams serves but make a commotion when the opposing team goes to serve.” Asahi dumps the ball into the net.

Atsumu gets pumped

Hitoshi Ginjima serves next. He also dumps his serve into the net. The game so far starts with a lot of nervous serving. When a rally finally starts, Hinata is excited to reveal his new jump. Too excited. He misses the ball or I should say forgets to hit it. Hinata jump still manages to impress Atsumu with its height. He now counts Hinata as a threat, along with Kageyama. While this episode was largely just set up for this match, I think that it was well executed.

Personally, the romantic storyline between Tanaka and Kanoka wasn’t interesting. I’m not sure it really mattered. Haikyuu!! To the Top has always included the female volleyball team, but I think it’s distracting. Kiyoko Shimizu and Hitoka Yachi are apart of the team (as management), it would have made more sense to focus on them. Maybe give Hitoka more to do. Anyway, I’m looking forward to this match between Karasuno and Inarizaki. While it possible Karasuno loses I think Hinata and his new jump will pull through. Haikyuu!! To the Top will return in July.

Haikyuu!! Season 4 Episode 12: Recap and Review

Haikyuu!! Season 4 Episode 12: Recap and Review

Image of Hoshiumi from Haikyuu!! To The Top
Hoshiumi aka The Little Giant

With Karasuno through to the next round, Haikyuu!! To The Top, focuses on the other team’s progress. Fukurodani is playing their first game against Eiwa High School. While Fukurodani falls behind two points, Bokuto is in one of his moods. The reason behind his bad mood? He wanted to play in the big stadium. Elsewhere, Daichi introduces the first years to Tashiro and Kurokawa. Both are former captains of the team. Later, Karasuno eats bento while watching Nekoma play Kiyokawa. The team ace, Ryoji Yamazaki, is exhausted by Nekoma’s defense. After a brief rally, Nekoma wins, advancing to round 2. 

Hinata meets Hoshiumi

The moment I have been waiting for arrived. After watching Fukurodani win their match, Hinata sees Hoshiumi for the first time. The two quickly stare each other down. Kageyama interrupts them and introduces Hoshiumi. He asks Hinata his position, height, and running vertical. Hoshiumi is happy to know that he’s taller and has a higher jump. Karasuno watch as Hoshiumi dominates the game. Hinata even feels the need to get a closer look. Hinata has always had to accept challenges from players taller than him. How will he respond to a player around his height but with greater skill? Kamomedai win.

With Karasuno, Nekoma, Fukurodani, and Kamomedai moving to the next round, matches will only get harder. I’m excited about the possible match between Karasuno and Kamomedai. It seems like Karasuno is the better team but Kamomedai has the best player, Hoshiumi

So are any of you excited to see Hinata verses Hoshiumi?

Haikyuu!! Season 4 Episode 11: Recap and Review

Haikyuu!! Season 4 Episode 11: Recap and Review

In episode 11 of Haikyuu!! To the Top, Kageyama takes over the game. Asahi is the unsung hero of the game.
Karasuno’s ace Asahi is the unsung hero

Season 4, Episode 11: ‘ A Chance to Connect’

Kageyama steps up his game, but Asahi is the star

In episode 11 of Haikyuu!! To the Top, Kageyama takes over the game. In the last episode, he finally finds his game. This episode begins with Karasuno’s “lethal weapon” a quick attack. The crowd is wowed by sight particularly the speed. Karasuno is still down 13 to 15 though. When Tsubakihara focuses on Hinata, Kageyama manages to score. Realizing the turn in dynamic the rest of Karasuno is excited. Kageyama and Hinata manage to score on another quick attack. Tsubakihara’s coach notes that if they focus on Hinata they will be falling into Karasuno’s “trap.” He encourages them to “keep up the rad blocking.” He hopes to keep the “pressure on.” The pep talk seems to work. 

Tsubakihara takes the lead, 18 to 17. Hinata takes a ball to the chest. Asahi finish the rally with a kill. Hinata once again miss calculates the distance between him and the ball. Tanaka gets the ball over the net. During the next rally, Karasuno takes the lead after Asahi hits the ball against three blockers. After a freeball, Hinata scores from the back row. Karasuno now has scored three points in a row, taking a 20 to 18 lead. At 23 to 21, Kinoshita is up to serve. He misses. Despite that Karasuno scores reaching a set point. However, when Kageyama serves he dumps it in the net. Now at 24-23 its Tsubakihara’s turn to serve. 

Himekawa Aoi serving underhanded
Himekawa Aoi serving underhanded

Himekawa the pinch server

Himekawa Aoi is the “pinch server” for the team. In his first official match, Aoi looks like he’s going to throw up. Suddenly, he serves underhanded hitting his teammate in the back of the head. Karasuno takes the first set, 25-23. I like how Hiakyuu keeps playing with our expectations. As a sports fan (Tennis) the better player doesn’t always succeed. Kageyama’s serving was top-notch until a set point. I assumed that Aoi would overcome his nerves and serve lights out. It seemed that the dynamic would play out that way. However, Aoi comically missed his serve. Even if I expect Karasuno to win, I won’t know exactly how. 

In the second set, Aoi gets a chance to redeem himself. He takes a deep breath and sends the serve flying towards the ceiling. Daichi fails to receive it. He goes for another “ceiling serve” that Asahi and Dachi fail to even more for. Himekawa gets two service aces in a row, giving his team Tsubakihara the lead. Karasuno loses the next point. Aoi fails to get his fourth service point. He leaves the game with the teams tied. Asahi serves an ace. However, Tsubakihara scores on the point. With the game tied, Tsubakihara sends a ball over that’s higher than usual. However, Daichi can reflexively knuckle it over, giving Karasuno a match point. Sugawara is subbed in to serve. Clear minded he serves a big but it’s received. The teams engage in a spirited rally with Hinata pretending to spike, leaving Asahi to spike. Winning the game. 

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 10: Recap and Review

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 10: Recap and Review

In Haikyuu!! Fourth Season episode 10, Kiyoko rushes to catch the bus.
Kiyoko rushes to catch the bus

Season 4, Episode 10: ‘ Battle Lines’

Hinata loses his shoes and it’s Kiyoko to the rescue

In Haikyuu!! Fourth Season episode 10, the Karasuno team prepare for their first match. However, they quickly run into a problem. Hinata’s shoes go missing. While Tanaka and Hinata are using the bathroom a young boy accidentally takes Hinata’s luggage. Lucky Hinata also left his phone in the bag. Tadashi calls his phone and learns that the boy took the bag. The boy and his mother remained in the gym but no one is there to get the shoes. Kiyoko volunteers to get the shoes. At the gym, Ukai warns the team that the floor is different from what is normal. For some reason its hard to slide on. From Ukai’s perspective, this can lead to injuries. Furthermore, the ceiling may also pose a threat. I find the potential pitfalls of the gym to be surprising. Having to adjust to a new surrounding seem likely but Ukai makes it sound so dangerous, I wonder why they would play at such a gym.

The team is still dealing with nerves while they warm up. Hinata becomes enamored with his surroundings. He’s somewhat paralyzed by the gym and its size. Kageyama doesn’t feel any nerves. Kiyoko returns with the shoes and Daichi prepares the team to line up. Their opponents are team Tsubakihara, who begins with a team chant. Tsubakihara’s coach Tatsumi Osado advice to his team to “concentrate on disrupting Karasuno’s attacks with their serves.” Osado also warns his players that if they take their “eye’s off Hinata,” they will pay. Despite Shiraiorizawa losing to Karasuno, the players aren’t intimidated because that win didn’t come easy. The game begins with Kageyama serving. Team Captain Sakae Echigo notices that the serve, despite its power was going out.

Hinata scores on a quick attack.

Tsubakihara wins the first point. Middle blocker Togo Iwamuro serves for Tsubakihara. Ukai notices that “he has purposely aimed his serve to go where Kageyama would pass in front of Tanaka.” Team Tsubakihara’s largest threat is their ace, Teradomari. He’s a tall player with a “powerful back-row attack.” He spikes over Hinata and Daichi but Nishinoya manages to save it. The combination of nerves and a new environment puts team Karasuno’s “awareness” off. Kageyama seems to be affected the most. He asks for some more time. Finally, Asahi manages to score. However, Karasuno falls behind by four points. Ukai sends Tadashi in early. Accepting the possibility that he will only serve, he delivers two effective serves. However, Tsubakihara is able to score after the third. Kageyama finally regains his confidence and together with Hinata, they score with a quick attack.

I always enjoy the matches in Haikyuu!!, but some of the early storylines felt unnecessary. I realize that they want us to understand that the team is more than the players, however, the Kiyoko shoe arc was too long. The potential “dangers” of the gym was an interesting plot point. I would have liked an explanation as to why Japan chose a gym with possible hazards to the players. My final criticism focuses on the nerves. Was it really necessary to have another episode include the fact that Karasuno was nervous? It seems overemphasized. At this point, I think we got that they were nervous. That said I’m glad to see that they’re over those nerves. I look forward to seeing Karasuno fly.

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 9: Recap and Review

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 9: Recap and Review

The opening ceremony, signaling the beginning of Spring Tournament

Episode 9: ‘Everyone’s Night’

As Karasuno prepares to play the Spring Tournament, nerves arrive


In Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 9, “Everyone’s Night,” the Karasuno team finally prepares to head to the Spring Tournament. It’s the New Year and the team is naturally nervous about the upcoming tournament. Kiyoko reassures them that ” she is certain they will do just fine.” The other team members are shown in a montage spending time with their families. Nishinoya, Tanaka, Hinata, and Kageyama end up playing hanetsuki together. Daichi, having had a nightmare earlier is unsettled. He scolds them for not resting before the tournament.

The following day, Karasuno heads to Tokyo. The members of Karasuno are stunned when seeing the Tokyo Skytree. At the Jaybird inn, Ukai announces that the team is going to watch their “best moments.” Titled, “I’m Awesome,” the video is a montage of all the best moments from the previous games. The video serves to inspire the team by reminding them that they are talented. This entire episode is about the anxiety that the team feels going into the tournament.

Finally, the big day arrives and team Karasuno meets and greets, friends and adversaries. Motoya greets Kageyama. Hinata sees Bokuto and Akaashi. Bokuto tells Hinata that “he will not show any mercy if they were to ever have a net between them.” Kageyama and Hinata’s nerves give way to excitement as the opening ceremony begins. This episode was mostly a set up for the tournament to come. It is effective in presenting the angst that the team feels. Everyone feels some level of this angst, not just the players. I expect that all the teams will focus on the upcoming tournament, while, nerves will remain determination and excitement is likely to rise to the surface.

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 8: Recap and Review

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 8: Recap and Review

Episode 8: ‘Challenger’

Karasuno and Date Tech continue to battle in an eighth set

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, episode 8, “Challenger” continues the practice match between Karasuno and Date Tech. Karasuno earns a set point after Aone bumps into Futakuchi during a block. Ukai and Hinata conclude that it’s best for him (Hinata) to “blend in with the crowd.” With Hinata remaining back, the rest of Karasuno manages to execute an attack. Distracted by Hinata, Asahi is able to get the spike winning the set for Karasuno.

Date Tech’s ideal plan

It becomes clear that the change in Hinata’s movement has caused Date Tech to “hesitate.” Ukai points out that teams often plan for Hinata to outpace his teammates. Tsukishima notes that Date Tech isn’t “fazed” by Hinata’s quick attack. He states that “Even if they are not aiming to stop every attack, they will still be able to have two blockers attempting to block and possibly even get a touch on Hinata’s quick.” The ultimate plan of Date Tech is to exhaust Hinata causing him to be blocked more. Tsukishima believes that when Hinata scores “Date’s blockers will hesitate more.”

Karasuno continues with the strategy of having Hinata blend in with the team. Karasuno is able to get another point frustrating Date Tech. In the fifth set, Karasuno lead by 3 points. Tsukishima points out that Date Tech will pay attention to Hinata more. As a result, “the chance to score from the side will increase and will cause the blockers to hesitate even more.” Tsukishima figures that eventually Date Tech will resort to “guessing,” when blocking making scoring for Karasuno easier.

The eighth set

In the eighth set, Tsukishima begins to tire. Annoyed, Tsukishima “pointing out that he does not have the same kind of stamina that Hinata has.” Kinoshita is chosen to sub in. He doesn’t really want to join the game and is visibly nervous. He performs a jump float serve that Obara fails to receive. His following serve misses. Later in the set Hinata pretends to use a minus tempo attack. He manages to trick Koganegawa into blocking him, leaving Asahi open to attack. Despite Date Tech’s blocking improving so much, Asahi isn’t afraid. Against three blockers he hits the ball with enough force to get the point and win the game. Karasuno and Date Tech each win four sets.

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 7: Recap and Review

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 7: Recap and Review

Season 4, Episode 7: ‘Return’

Karasuno continues to struggle with Date Tech’s improved blocking


Can Kageyama and the rest Karasuno get along. The King of the Court returns in Haikyuu!! Fourth Season Episode 7
The King of the Court returns

Last week’s “Haikyuu!! Fourth Season Episode 7” sees Karasuno trying to incorporate new things while combating the improved blocking of Date Tech’s team. Tanaka manages to score when hitting a spike against Onagawa’s arm. The change in Kageyama’s personality doesn’t go unnoticed. Kinoshita and Narita are impressed by Kageyama’s “boldness,” however, Yachi is worried. He feels that Kageyama is “scarier.” Meanwhile, Date Tech’s blocking excites even their manager. Mai Nametsu notes that his team’s level must be due to their excitement at facing Karasuno. Coach Oiwake agrees, noting that “it was not too long ago that the Date players would fall for distractions that would cause them to be more spread out on the court but now are more focused.”

Kageyama’s changes

Some of the changes to Kageyama is his personality. Despite Kageyama’s annoyance at Tsukishima spike, he’s more subtle or reasonable. Sugawara points out that Tsukishima and Kageyama would have engaged in an argument had the later responded. It seems that Kageyama is learning to moderate his responses. Koganegawa, watching from the sidelines, admires the set that Kageyama made. Not too low, too high, too far or too close, Koganegawa becomes emotional. Date Tech continues to dominate, successfully blocking many of the Karasuno’s attacks. Date Tech gets a three-point lead. The other players of Date Tech realize that Karasuno is “off their game.” They win the first set.

Asahi apologizes for missing

The return of the King of the Court

Kageyama’s attitude continues to cause trouble. Asahi over-hit Kageyama’s set. He apologizes, but Kageyama bluntly tells him to “just score already.” He then goes on to say that his “tosses are so good that the spikers should be able to score more.” He quickly realizes that he went too far. He flashes back to when he was abandoned by his former middle school teacher. However, Hinata asks him ” what he finds wrong with being the King.” Hinata, Tanaka, and Tsukishima all agree that when he talks down to them they just ignore him. Ukai reminds Kageyama that in order to deliver the “best set” it’s necessary for the spiker to be able to hit it easily. Kageyama needs to communicate better.

Set number two begins. Kageyama uses a set that’s higher than normal. Tsukishima misses the ball. Kageyama informs him that “he is not going to stoop down to his level anymore.” Date Tech reach set point. Tsukishima runs to spike one of Kageyama’s higher sets, managing to get it past two blockers. However, he misses and Date Tech wins the set. Kageyama tells Tsukishima that “he too can fly.”

The fourth set

Kageyama and Tsukishima are working better together. Karasuno gains the lead. Tsukishima notes that if they had continued blocking form the lower point, they would have been met with better blocks. Daichi thinks that they can “experiment.” They decided to send Tanaka fewer sets. Kageyama tosses to Asahi. He fails to successfully send the ball over. Meanwhile, Date Tech’s Futakuchi hits a powerful jump serve. Tanaka hits the receive, Asahi sends the ball to Hinata. Blocked by three blockers. Ukai notes that Futakuchi and the rest of Date Tech could become their toughest opponent.

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 6: Recap and Review

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 6: Recap and Review

Team Date Tech arrives

Hinata and Kageyama are greeted by their fellow teammates. They are all interested in what happened at the camps. Yachi-san puts green tape on the net. She explains that she’s splitting the net into nine parts. The separation is designed to help the team with their serving. While Hinata and Kageyama were off at camp, the rest of Karasuno has been working on serving better. With the team heading into Nationals they will need to counter jump float servers. After the practice, Hinata asks Kageyama what he meant. He explains that “his current jump is like ‘boing boing’ and it’s his job to act as the decoy by running all over the court.” Kageyama believes that Hinata can jump higher.

Kageyama tries to get Hinata to “use the balls of his feet.” Hinata finally manages to shift his weight properly, but he’s interrupted by Daichi who yells at them through the windows. The following day Ukai asks Kageyama about his time at the training camp. Kageyama is still concerned with the “Goody Two-shoes” comment he received from one of the players. Ukai tells him not to be bothered by the comment. Eventually, the Date Tech team arrives. They are intense and thank team Karasuno for inviting them. Ukai notes that Date Tech has “blocks that are easily the best in the prefecture and may be worthy of being on a national level.”

Date Tech's blockers tower over team Karasuno
Date Tech’s blockers tower over team Karasuno

The game begins

The starting players begin the game, with Onagawa serving. Despite using Hinata as a decoy, team Karasuno is unable to get past the blockers. Date Tech used a “bunch shifting.” Ukai explains that “the bunch block works by the players bunching together in the center so they can move wherever they need to when they see where the set will go with as many blockers as they need.” The downside is that “this method is that they may not be able to get a block up in a time when faced with a fast attack at either end of the court.” Hinata and Kageyama are frustrated by the ability of Date Tech to block their spikes.

Hinata serves, as Tsukishima subs in. Date Tech manages to continue to dominate with their superior blocking. Despite the pressure of facing such blocking, Kageyama is excited about the challenge. During the next rally, Futakuchi is able to get a feint shot over Karasuno. However, Nishinoya manages to use his “Rolling Thunder” to make a receive. Even though he’s praised for his receive, Kageyama shocks him by yelling that he’s “in the way.” I am happy to see Haikyuu return to the games. Obviously that’s the point of this series. However, I missed watching the games from start to finish. Regardless, I like the dynamics of these matches. I am curious to see how Karasuno manages to overcome the blocking of Date Tech if they do at all.

Haikyuu!! Fourth Season, Episode 5: Recap and Review