Why I Love Anohana: The Flower we Saw that Day

Anohana

Hiyo, everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing an anime I recently rewatched that I found awesome! As you can tell from the title, it’s called Anohana: The Flower we Saw that Day. As usual, I will avoid substantial spoilers, but discuss the premise of the show. But I have an entirely different warning to issues about this eleven episode anime: Anohana is one of the most emotional stories I have ever experienced. If you watch from beginning to end, prepare to cry. If you don’t mind that, I encourage you to read ahead!

The story of Anohana began with a group of six kids who were close friends and called themselves the Super Peace Busters. For a while, they enjoyed days of fun and camaraderie. That came to a crashing halt when, after a dispute, one of the six friends, a girl named Menma (I will use their childhood nicknames instead of their real names in this review) suddenly died. Her death devastated all of those around her – her family and, of course, the surviving members of the Super Peace Busters. The group shattered, leaving the secret base they had long played in vacant.

Years later, the five surviving Super Peace Busters have, for the most part, gone their separate ways. Molded by his grief, our protagonist, Jintan, succumbed to the hole in his heart left by his mother (who died of disease) and Menma, and eventually stopped going to school. His father didn’t try to stop him. As of the beginning of the story, he lives at home and spends much of his time doing things like playing games.

Then, suddenly, Menma appears to him, and only him. He can see her and hear her whenever she’s around, but no one else can. She asks him to grant her wish, and he agrees. The problem is she forgets what her wish is. So, Jintan finds himself revisiting the places and people of his past, trying to find out what it might be. Before long, he is reunited with his old friends – and it’s abundantly clear that he and Menma are not the only ones who have struggled to move on.

I don’t want to spoil more than that. Such a beautiful anime deserves to be seen for itself. It’s on Crunchyroll for free as of the time of this writing, so I recommend you check it out… provided you can withstand a violent tearjerker. I’m not at all ashamed to admit I cried! A lot!

Anohana’s music is absolutely wonderful and pulls you right into the story’s themes, which include friendship, wistfulness for the past, grief, and the struggle to move on despite great loss. Anohana masterfully shows how intricately tied together your life is with those who care for you. If you’ve ever experienced loss, this will hit close to home in the best way possible. It will help you acknowledge your sadness even as you move forward.

Obviously, I rate Anohana 5/5. It’s phenomenal, and I just can’t praise it enough. I also rate having a box of tissues close at hand while watching Anohana 5/5. You’ll probably need them.

Do you like sad stories? If so, which are your favorites? They can be anime, movies, books, games, whatever! I’m eager to hear about them, ’cause I love that stuff. If not, feel free to share something cheerful instead! Until next time, I hope you make beautiful memories, and cherish your friends and family. Buh-bye for now!

 

Tales of Zestiria Review

ToZ

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I will review a game I recently finished playing – Tales of Zestiria! Like Tales of Xillia 2, this game is part of the Tales series, which I adore. Also, for reference, I played on Steam using a controller. I’ll be covering the premise of the story but, as usual,  I’ll avoid significant spoilers. That said, let’s get right into it!

The story begins with two friends, Sorey and Mikleo, engaging in their usual hobby – the exploration of ruins. Sorey is a human, but Mikleo, along with the inhabitants of Elysia, the town where the two grew up, are seraphim, beings much like humans, but who wield elemental powers and are invisible and inaudible to most humans. Sorey, having grown up with them, is an exception.

During their exploration, the two boys discover something most unexpected – an unconscious girl. They rescue her and allow her some rest, but their adoptive grandfather, the chief of Elysia, says she cannot stay for long. So, once she’s healed up, (and after revealing she’s a princess; there will be a few cliches in the premise of this story) the girl, Alisha, departs – and a hellion (creatures corrupted by malevolence) attacks one of the citizens of Elysia. After defeating him, he escapes, and Sorey and Mikleo learn his true mark was Alisha. Concerned, they leave in secret to warn her.

That leads them to the city of Ladylake, capital of the Kingdom of Hyland, where an event is going on wherein people try to pull a blade from a pedestal (told ya) and the one who succeeds is named Shepherd. The Shepherd’s role is to protect humanity, cleanse malevolence (a corrupting substance that can turn humans, animals, and seraphim alike into monsters) and eventually face the Lord of Calamity, who generates overwhelming malevolence. Naturally, Sorey succeeds at extracting the sword and becomes Shepherd. A seraphim named Lailah, who has been watching the sword for some time, makes a pact with him as Prime Lord and informs him of his duties – and that he musn’t let them consume him. But Sorey is a kind-hearted boy who is always looking out for others, so that’s a bit difficult for him. Regardless, that is the beginning of his journey, and he picks up several companions along the way!

Like most Tales games, Zestiria does a good job of developing its major characters, and expands upon them through small, mostly-optional interactions called skits, where they discuss anything from major plot points to completely trifling matters, like the meals they eat when they rest at the inn. Speaking of the plot, like most Tales games, Zestiria has a strong one with several twists, though in my opinion, it doesn’t quite hold up to Tales of Symphonia. (One of my favorite games ever.) Even so, both the story and the characters made me want to see more and more. I especially liked Mikleo and Edna.

The combat system is also similar to other Tales games, where you fight enemies in open areas, controlling one character at a time with a focus on combos. Zestiria’s iconic combat feature is armatization, which allows a human and a seraphim character to fuse and unfuse during combat; when fused, they become especially powerful, with a unique moveset. Armatization made for quite fluid and interesting gameplay!

Another of Zestiria’s features that I was less fond of was the use of special traits to boost your equipment. As an idea, that’s sound, but the 5 x 10 grid of traits you had to work with to line up traits for bonuses seemed excessively large and cumbersome, and it made gear customization a bit of a hassle. In my opinion, it’s a symptom of the mechanics bloating that has characterized some of the more recent Tales games. Still, even when you don’t worry about lining up or stacking traits, you can hold your own on lower difficulty levels. (Like most Tales games, difficulty is flexible and can be changed frequently throughout your run.)

Zestiria’s music was strong, and its visuals were quite pleasing. Overall, though I do have a few small gripes with the game, it was still an overwhelmingly enjoyable one to play through. Therefore, I rate Tales of Zestiria 4.7/5.

Have you played any Tales games before? If so, which did you most enjoy? If not, what are your favorite RPGs? I hope to hear from you in the comments! Have a wonderful weekend! Buh-bye!

My Top 5 Favorite Moments in Code Geass R1

Code Geass R1

Hiyo, everyone! It has been a while since I did a top list on this blog, and I’ve been gradually rewatching Code Geass, which I previously covered as my favorite anime, so I figured it was a perfect subject to discuss! In this post, I’ll talk about my five favorite moments from Code Geass R1 – that is, the first of the series’ existing two seasons. I’ll probably do another list for the second when I finish rewatching it, but that could be a while. Anyway, unlike my previous review, this post will be absolutely teeming with spoilers and will assume you have some knowledge of the series. If you haven’t watched it yet, I can’t recommend it enough! And, um, you probably shouldn’t read this post until you do. xD

Let’s begin!

5. The end

I guess beginning with the end is so overdone by now that it has become a cliche, but in this case, it’s still an accurate reflection of my opinion. R1 ends with Suzaku finally confronting Zero, his greatest enemy, and shooting the top of his mask, cracking it in two – only to have his worst suspicions confirmed in learning Zero is Lelouch, his long-time friend. With Kallen watching, Suzaku lays all that he knows bare – he reveals that Lelouch has been using a supernatural ability, his Geass, to control people. When Lelouch suggests a temporary alliance to save Nunnally, Suzaku will have none of it – he says Lelouch would just betray his trust, as the world betrayed Lelouch.

I love this scene because it shows just how far apart the two once-friends have grown. And Lelouch is visibly angered by Suzaku’s accusation; I believe this is the first scene in the series where it is presented to him so bluntly. It’s the culmination of the strife between the two throughout R1. At the end, Lelouch and Suzaku each aim their guns at each other – then there is a brief shot of Nunnally in some distress followed by blackness. The end of the season. I started watching Code Geass after the first two series were already released, so that didn’t really bother me, but I can’t blame anyone for hating that scene for its cliffhanger ending if they were watching while the series was ongoing. That’s just mean!

4. Euphemia orders Suzaku to love her

This scene is a short one, but I just can’t get enough of it! After thinking through the conflict that had occurred between herself and Suzaku, Euphemia finally comes to a striking realization, with a bit of help from Nina: she discovers that Suzaku suffers from self-hatred just as she does. Rash as ever, Euphemia contacts Suzaku in the middle of a battle and demands that he love her – and promises she will love him in return. Suzaku’s instinctive reaction of “Yes, your highness – huh?”just makes the scene even cuter!

This moment is particularly dear to me because I deal with self-hatred, too. Suzaku and Euphy can’t love themselves, so they each take on the responsibility of loving the other instead. It’s just so adorable, and had to ship it!

Until another event occurred…

3. Shirley follows Lelouch and discovers he’s working with the Black Knights

This entry may seem a little weird to some. The Black Knights are holding an operation to ostensibly save a submarine containing members of the Japan Liberation Front, but it’s not the battle itself that interests me, but the events leading up to it. As the beautiful “Stories” plays in the background, Shirley learns that Lelouch, the boy she’s had a long-time crush on, is working with the Black Knights, the terrorist organization responsible for killing her father. Meanwhile, Lelouch, under the guise of Zero, explains to his subordinates that they have to stay the course; that, to atone for all the blood they’ve spilled, they have to spill even more, and eventually succeed.

“Stories” played a large role in this scene’s influence over me. The feel of that song perfectly captures the tone of the unfolding events; everyone is trying to do what they feel is right, and despite those intentions, the song signals a tragedy in the making. The same sort of scenarios play out all the time in real life. Conflict is essential to who we are, and at this moment, it struck me more powerfully than ever.

2. Mao’s Death

Having kidnapped Nunnally and rubbed Lelouch’s weaknesses in, Mao agrees to confront Lelouch in his game of choice – chess. Winner takes all. The problem for Lelouch is that Mao’s Geass allows him to read minds over a large area, or, alternatively, focus his abilities on an individual and hear their every thought. Lelouch enters the situation knowing all about that, and he believes this is his last chance to save his sister’s life. But, as expected, Mao uses Lelouch’s own strategical prowess against him, then wins the game. Gleeful, he watches Lelouch melt down and presses the button designed to set off the bomb to end Nunnally’s life.

It doesn’t go off. Instead, Suzaku, who had been helping Lelouch, bursts into the room. By doing a high-precision maneuver, he disabled the bomb, and Lelouch’s chess game had been a diversion – one he himself hadn’t known about. With the help of a reflective surface, Lelouch used his Geass on himself so he would forget his own plans. Completely taken off guard and beaten by Suzaku’s comically overpowered physical abilities, Mao uses the only weapon he has – he reads Suzaku’s mind and reveals that Suzaku killed his father to end the previous war between Britannia and Japan. As a result of that action, Suzaku has been carrying a death wish with him, and that’s the reason he’s always so willing to risk his life.

But the visor Mao usually used to protect himself from Lelouch’s Geass had been removed. Furious, Lelouch gives his immensely satisfying command: “Never speak again.” Robbed of the voice he relies on to control others, Mao leaves  – only to find himself face to face with C.C., the only person he loves and the one who gave him his Geass.

But C.C. has had enough. She’s finally ready to clean up her past mistake. With a bullet, she ends Mao’s life.

I like this scene because it pushes so many characters to their limits. It makes everyone face their pasts. I also found Lelouch’s Geass trick particularly clever. The scene plays out in a wild rollercoaster of emotions that I just loved to death!

Um, speaking of death…

1. Euphemia’s death

Throughout the series, Euphemia is depicted as unfailingly benevolent. She struggles to make the world a better place so earnestly and impulsively that you can’t help but root for her. So, when Lelouch finally takes her hand and tells her she’s won – that he will assist her in running the specially administrated zone of Japan she’s creating to put a stop to the violence – it’s quite cathartic.

That doesn’t last.

Lelouch’s original scheme involved having Euphemia shoot him, something he had told her she would do. She prods him about that, and he admits that he has the ability make others obey him. Euphemia scoffs, leading Lelouch to joke that he could even order her to kill the Japanese people, and she would have to obey.

That’s the moment his Geass starts acting up. The command takes, leaving Euphemia a mess begging not to be forced to do something so horrible. Lelouch tries to stop it, but it’s too late; he can’t undo the damage. Eventually, Euphemia succumbs to the order and runs off to do her new, dark duty.

The Japanese people gathered outside have no idea what hit them. Even the Britannian soldiers are shocked. But Euphemia takes the first shot, and the slaughter begins in earnest.

Chaos erupts. Through tears, Lelouch orders that the Black Knights make the most of Euphemia’s actions and orders her death. But, when the time comes, he himself is the one to shoot her. With Suzaku watching.

Enraged, Suzaku dives into battle, grabs Euphemia with his Knightmare, and flees. Euphemia is immediately hospitalized aboard the command ship, but the doctors quickly conclude she won’t make it. So Suzaku is left to speak with her in her final moments.

The emotions reach a crescendo when the song “Innocent Days” begins playing. Suzaku – who is Japanese himself – asks why she gave that order. But Euphemia remembers nothing. For a moment, it looks like she might again fall under the command’s spell, but, faced with the thought of killing the man she loves, she closes her eyes and finally snuffs out the Geass. “Innocent Days” alteernates between a mournful melody and a triumphant one as the scene shifts back and forth between Zero, who condemns Euphemia as a murderous hypocrite as the people wish her the worst, and Euphemia’s death bed, where Suzaku tells Euphy the lie she needs to hear – that her project was a success – and she asks him to complete his education in her place.

Then she flatlines, and the music with her. It’s replaced by a chant of “Zero, Zero, Zero!” as images flash by. Of Zero standing triumphant before a crowd having just established a new nation. Of Suzaku crying and reaching out for Euphy as he’s pulled away from her body. Of Zero’s supporters brimming with joy. Of the badge Euphy gave Suzaku when she named him her knight.

Cornelia, Euphy’s sister, sums up the scene succinctly at the end with the phrase “Dear God” when she learns what happened. Just like that, Euphemia, who pushed herself to her limit to help everyone, who was willing to give up her status as royalty to make the world a better place, has her legacy sealed as “Massacre Princess.”

Those events moved me to tears. The writers so masterfully pressed conflicting emotions right up against each other with perfect juxtapositoning; it all hits like a truck. And I love when media can draw an intense emotional reaction from me, so I love this scene. My descriptions can’t do it justice. It just has to be watched.

Aaanyway, that’s the end of my list! Have you guys watched Code Geass? If so, what were your favorite scenes in R1? If not, which scenes in anime move you the most? I hope to hear from you in the comments! Until next time, I hope you have a great time! Ciao!

 

Avengers: Infinity War Review (Massive Spoilers)

Avengers Infinity War

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I want to talk about a nifty little movie I’ve recently seen called “Avengers: Infinity War.” You may have heard of it.

For context, I don’t read comic books at all. My only real familiarity with the characters in this movie comes from watching others in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. (I think I’ve seen them all so far.) So, I can’t compare this movie to the comic book version of the story or anything like that. I also assume most others with an interest in this film already know the general premise, and are decently-versed in the MCU themselves. Therefore, I won’t hold back; this review is going to be full to the brim with spoilers. If you intend to see the film but haven’t yet, I suggest you not read further until you do.

With that out of the way, Infinity War started with a bang! We were thrown right into the action, and we had a tiny lil character death right away – the beloved and charismatic Loki! He was one of the best things about pretty much every movie he was in, so, geez, I hope that one doesn’t stick.

Instead of linearly going through the movie, I’m just going to spout my thoughts in whatever order they come to mind. That’s just how I work! That said, one thing that struck me near the beginning of the film was how powerful some of Thanos’ minions were. Thanos’ prophet (I forget his name – was it even mentioned in the movie?) sticks out in particular. Y’know, the guy who is all ‘Rejoice, for your lives will be sacrificed for the great Thanos’ sake!’ He held off several Avengers at once with a cavalier attitude that made it look easy. It was enjoyable to watch, though his eventual death was just as satisfying.

I wasn’t expecting the Scarlet Witch/Vision romance at all. Maybe I just didn’t pay enough attention during Civil War. Anyway, they were easy to root for, but I still couldn’t help but feel from the outset that they were doomed. (Though I still wonder whether Shuri managed to pull off more than meets the eye; she seemed really determined at the end there, when the attackers were entering her workspace!) The scene where Wanda was forced to destroy Vision herself was a bit painful to watch, though not as much so as it would have been if I hadn’t seen it coming a mile away. Also predictable was Thanos’ casual reversal of that event; he had just obtained the Time Stone, so I figured he would use it.

Speaking of Thanos, what a well done villain! His desire to promote prosperity by keeping the population in check was a fairly believable motive, though it does have a few flaws. (For example, once wouldn’t be enough; he’d have to keep doing it over and over. Also, some worlds may have been prospering, and I imagine losing half the labor force wouldn’t help them very much.) Even so, I went into the movie expecting some all-powerful, indifferent monster, but instead I was treated to a Thanos capable of loving, sacrificing, and crying. He was shockingly relatable!

I feel many of the heroes didn’t get all that much character development. Among the ones who did were Spiderman, The Scarlet Witch, Vision, Gamora, Thor, and Tony Stark. A lot of the others just felt like they were along for the ride – I guess that’s inevitable in a movie with such a large cast.

If there’s one character this movie made me think less of, it’s Star-Lord. Upon learning of Gamora’s death, he lost his cool and started going to town on Thanos’ face – freeing him from the grasps of the others just before they could pull off the Infinity Gauntlet. Congrats, Quill, you just carried Gamora’s killer to victory! I felt bad for all the other characters present, who worked so hard only to have things screwed up by a teammate. They nearly had him!

But, in the end, they didn’t. Thanos collected all the stones and committed the foreshadowed snap of his fingers. Honestly, that was my favorite part of the whole movie. Watching half the heroes I rooted for across over a dozen films evaporate before my eyes. What a daring step for the writers to take! I love it. I totally basked in the despair engulfing the end of the movie, adored the shock of those watching their loved ones vanish, and reveled in the chaos that followed. Thanos actually won. For now, at least. Of course, they’ll all be resurrected later. I mean, Marvel has already announced sequels for several of the dead characters, such as Spiderman. Spoilers much?

Still, as things stand, we’re left with the original Avengers (minus perhaps Hawkeye; he didn’t show up in the movie anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter if he vanished or not), Rocket, and Nebula to continue the battle, along with possibly Ant Man, who was mentioned but also completely absent. (He’s got a sequel coming up, so we can’t kill him right now.) Obviously, in Avengers 4, our little crew is going to revive a bunch of the ones who died. I just hope they save Loki. 😦

Overall, yes, there were some small flaws, but I don’t really care. I had a lot of fun. 5/5

Aaanyway, what did you guys think of the movie? If you ignored my warnings and let me spoil you rotten despite not having seen it yet, who are your favorite characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe? I’m eager to see what others thought! Until next time, ciao, and I hope your days are Marvelous!

Get it? >.>