Quick Reviews – Sequel edition: Kaguya-sama, Bookworm & Shield Hero

Whenever I do (quick) reviews I tend to exclude sequels. Mainly because most people have either chosen to watch or not watch the original of the series. This time around I had an opinion on three sequels this season that I wanted to get out, so I figured I’d combine them. I’ll try and avoid major spoilers for all of the titles involved but I will have to talk about some things to convey my opinion. These reviews are of the series so far and if I think they’re worth watching. Now without further ado, let’s get to it.

Kaguya-sama: Love is war – Ultra Romantic

The third season of Kaguya-sama feels very similar to the first two seasons, which is good or bad depending on how much you liked the first two seasons. A quick anecdote about myself. I watched early Kaguya-sama right after I got rejected by a girl. I wasn’t very good about dealing with that situation and felt very sad at the time. At that time, watching this convoluted romantic comedy was extremely painful so I dropped it early on. When season 2 was announced I gave the anime another chance and found the first season to be pretty decent. I was in a different headspace at that point so it was fine then. This isn’t particularly relevant to anyone, but I just felt like sharing it.

I know that this image says nothing about the show per se, but it’s a nice shot and has no spoilers. It’s from the ending, which is very good as always.

Kaguya-sama tells the story of Shinomiya Kaguya and her fellow classmates and friends. She’s going to a very prestigious academy where most students come from affluent backgrounds. Kaguya has fallen for the school president, Shirogane Miyuki, who in turn has fallen for her. The story is set up around the thought that whoever confesses their feelings first loses the war. Hence the title. The characters spend three seasons dancing around each other in an attempt to not share their feelings while desperately wanting to share their feelings. Misunderstandings galore. What makes the show bearable for me are the characters of Fujiwara Chika and Ishigami Yu. The main cast isn’t really that interesting to me. It gives me a similar feeling to the TV show Friends. It’s fun for a little while, but eventually you realize everyone’s just being a terrible person. No one is particularly likable and I find myself not really rooting for anyone. Chika is mostly comic relief which is actually quite funny at times and Ishigami’s pessimism, although very extreme, does kind of resonate with me. I think my favorite character over all is Hayasaka, who serves as Kaguya’s maid and gets embroiled in a lot of her bullshittery.

The titular Kaguya. Her design is very well done and absolutely adorable, but half of the show I just can’t stand her as a character.

The show does end on a high note, and I did enjoy the final episode more than I expected. To be honest with you, I’d already written my review of it and had to go back to add this tidbit in. The final episode surprised me and it seemed unfair not to mention that.
All in all, I’d say Kaguya-sama does what it wants to do extremely well and if you like season 1 you’ll like the sequel seasons just as much. It’s not my cup of tea per se but it’s good enough for me to keep watching it. If you want a solid romcom with interesting characters then you should give this one a watch. Also, the opening themes are certified bangers and extremely memorable.

Ascendance of a Bookworm: Part III

I first discovered Bookworm when a good friend of mine recommended interesting Isekai manga to me. The one I ended up picking up was bookworm and I read it for a little while before dropping it. The manga felt a bit slow. The anime on the other hand has a better pace going for it. Bookworm follows Myne, a young girl who has a dangerous sickness that only nobles can help cure. It’s more complicated than that, but let’s keep it simple. Being a bookworm in her past life, even going so far as to die when bookcases crushed her, she felt bad not being able to read books in this new world. So the young girl set out on a quest to make her own books in a world where they’re not readily available. Things unfortunately don’t quite go as easily as she would hope. Many things stand in Myne’s way. Luckily she quickly finds some allies along the way but when the people who wield a lot of power are the ones in your way, maybe things won’t go as you planned. Her childhood friend becomes a close ally and so does her father and a local merchant. Myne has taken over from the real Myne, so to speak, who died of her illness and then Myne’s soul from our world took over the body. Really sad when you look at it that way.

Myne is regularly casting strong prayer magic since she has such talent for it. I wonder if the story will eventually see her become her own person as opposed to a tool for the people around her. I think that would be a cool direction to go but I doubt it.

Still, Myne is determined to succeed in her quest to make books. I think what I really enjoy about Bookworm compared to other Isekai shows is that it’s really unique and that in a lot of situations the main character is fairly powerless. Not always, and when Myne is at her best it’s super satisfying to watch, but in many situations a small child is only going to be able to do so much. Myne is likable and the complicated political structure of the world she lives in is very interesting and well thought out. With this show I think it’s safe to say that it gets better as the seasons continue. The scale in season one is quite small but as things progress everything gets more intertwined and by the end of season three we’re at the center of a political mess that’s not easy to escape. The political aspect of this show really sells it for me so the fact that we keep seeing more of it is a definite boon for the series. If you like drama, isekai and politics this is the show for you. The artstyle and animation are not great in my opinion, but it’s not too distracting either. I think anyone who is at least curious after this description should give the show a watch.

The Rising of the shield hero 2nd season.

I was listening to the Trash Taste podcast on spotify while I was working the other day. The episode in question had a guest; Kevin Penkin. For those of you unfamiliar with him, he’s an Australian composer who is most famous for doing the soundtrack for Made in Abyss as well as Rising of the Shield Hero. Except I’d forgotten that he also did Shield Hero. So needless to say I went through some of the OST and it’s really good. Which is fortunate for my opinion on the show because the rest of it is not really good. Let’s dive into the third and final show for the day.

The rising of the Shield Hero follows Iwatani Naofumi, who is summoned to a fantasy world as the Shield Hero. One of four Cardinal heroes tasked with saving the world from waves, which are enemy invasions. Early on in the show, Naofumi gets betrayed by the princess of the kingdom and very quickly becomes alienated and ostracized by everyone. With a useless shield as his powerful weapon he quickly starts despairing. Fueled by anger, Naofumi decides that buying up slaves is his best plan to get stronger and thus he comes across Raphtalia, a young demi-human who becomes his first party member. He trains with her and she quickly becomes stronger and they develop a bond. They’re joined by several other female (see the pattern?) party members which includes an angelic bird lolicon character who is extremely annoying.
The first season of Shield Hero isn’t even all that bad. I suppose in hindsight the signs were there already but back when I watched season one I didn’t think it was a bad show. I enjoyed the first half a lot and although the second half felt a bit more forced, I was excited for season 2 to start.

Yeah, it’s like that I guess. It’s one thing to have the slave owner try and moralize their actions as being one of the good ones (which is still a very false narrative) but to have people just say they want to be slaves is psychotic and bad writing in my opinion. If it were explored as a serious mental health issue on her end later it’d be different, but it’s not.

Then season 2 started and I realized very quickly that this wasn’t a good show. At least not the kind of show I enjoy. The characters weren’t particularly interesting to me and I realized that the show really struggles with figuring out if slavery is good or bad. I think the show thinks it’s good, which is really weird to watch unfold. It does that thing in anime that I hate, which is constantly taking characters away from the main party. It can be done well, like in One Piece’s Enies Lobby arc, but most of the time it just feels forced, annoying and is done to create tension knowing it’ll all end up alright. Shield Hero falls very flat on several points this season and at this point I think there’s just better Isekai shows out there.
It’s hard to suggest the second season but I still think season 1 is worth a watch. Early Shield Hero was quite enjoyable and like I said early on, the soundtrack is very good. 

I just wanted to highlight that this has to be the dumbest person I’ve ever seen in anime, it’s impressive how stupid this guy is.

And that’s all I have to say about that. I considered putting Komi-san in this review too, but now that I’ve gotten to this point the review is already super long and that just feels like overkill. Komi-san is really good, just go watch it. I already talked about it here. As always, this is my opinion, I know people like different things, so if you’re unsure watch the shows to see for yourself. Thanks for reading!

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