Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor! Anime Review

Media: Anime
Name: Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
MAL Score: 8.31/10
Episodes: 26
Genres: Game, Psychological, Seinen, Thriller

Potential light spoilers ahead

Do you have a sweet spot for psychological anime? Stories that feature the main character scrapping with others in a battle of wit? If you’re hungry for more mind games from a rivalry akin to Light and L, continue reading. Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor (Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji) is probably what you’re looking for.

Story

Kaiji Itou is a lonely, lazy man that is always in debt. His daily routine consists of drinking beer, gambling, and stealing hubcaps from expensive cars. At first glance he may appear to be nothing more than a useless bum in society, but underneath that rugged exterior, is a man with a hidden gift. Kaiji is a genius with a gift for gambling. A unique ability that might have the potential to rescue him from drowning in his current debt. Desperate and out of options, Kaiji is presented with an opportunity to pay off this debt — by competing in a shady game of chance against other debt enslaved individuals. Unbenownst to Kaiji, this is where he would begin to unravel a world filled with cold-hearted deception.

Art

The unusual art style is easily the first thing you’ll notice. Admittedly, I was initially turned off by Kaiji’s gritty, ugly aesthetic. It’s definitely a style that strays from the norm. Thankfully, the story was gripping enough for me to look past this and continue watching. A few episodes in, I actually started to get attached to the hideous world of Kaiji. The exaggerated facial expressions make the tense situations even more gut wrenching. I quickly realized the gritty, ugly aesthetic is all too fitting for the world of Kaiji.

Sound

Both Kaiji’s intro and ending song do a fantastic job at getting you hyped for our hero’s next mental battle. The voice acting is above average, but where Kaiji really shines is its narration. Tachiki Fumihiko’s dramatic narration explaining each character’s thought process is hilarious and gripping at the same time. This narrator could make any mundane task seem epic. There is a recurring “zawa” sound that represents the characters being in uncomfortable situations. This Fukumoto trademark onomatopoeia paired with tense music has you feeling just as nervous as the characters in the show.

Characters

The list of abnormalities in this anime continue to grow as I reflect on the show’s characters. You won’t find a single female character in this anime. The entire roster is made up of men and Kaiji Itou is the only character with any actual development. Kaiji is heroic to a fault, his trusting nature is often his downfall. Betrayal after betrayal, his cynicism grows throughout the story. Hopeless situation after hopeless situation, he has to get even more bold with his tactics in order to survive. You’ll be rooting for Kaiji all the way as the other characters are impossible to like.

Conclusion

Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor is easily one of the most addictive anime I’ve ever consumed. I effortlessly powered through all 26 episodes of the first season in one day. Despite this, be prepared to watch both seasons as the first season has a slightly unsatisfying ending. Also, there is a certain arc in the second season that goes on a little too long for my liking. These minor flaws hardly put a dent in the anime, consequently, I rate Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor an 8.5/10. If you consider yourself a fan of psychological thrillers, do yourself a favor and watch this immediately.

Written by yxn

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Dragon Ball Z: Goku Character Analysis

Goku’s Flat Character Arc

Goku essentially is a character that does not change as situations around him change and times change. He has what is called a “Flat Character Arc”, which means “the character starts out already in possession of the Truth—and then uses that Truth to bring positive change to the world around him. As such, the Flat-Arc protagonist is a person who, on the specific level of the Truth, has things figured out.” Goku in that sense is an archetype, representing the epitome of that character style. Goku in his 50s isn’t very different from the Goku that we meet when he begins this journey as a 10 year old, and that’s after he reaches an incredible amount of physical strength and dealing with some of the most insurmountable enemies in the series.

Before we discuss the subtleties of his character I think its best we dispel some myths about the man himself. He is in no way the strongest character in the series for most part of the story line, he has never actually beaten Vegeta in a duel. The reason Vegeta is always on the edge about beating him is not something that’s ingrained in his nature, its just the way his fights with Goku has always turned out to be. In their first fight Vegeta almost killed him after transforming into his Great Ape form. That fight was interrupted by other Z fighters and Goku was more or less defenseless and almost certainly would have lost and most probably died because of it, had it taken its natural course. In their second duel Vegeta in his Majin form wiped the floor with him and left him lying on the floor it was more or less his own fault that, that this particular fight ended in that outcome, he concealed his ability to transform into a Super Saiyin 3, which ultimately let Vegeta to exploit it.

Personality

His naivety has led him to make some decisions which ordinarily in the right state of mind you wouldn’t want to make, like giving Cell a senju bean. To add to this Vegeta is stronger than Goku on multiple instances for example, when he emerges from the Hyperbolic Time chamber to challenge Cell. This explains the rougher edges in the personality of Vegeta more than anything else, because for the good part of the series the outcomes usually indicate that Goku is the strongest Z fighter and possibly the strongest in arc however Vegeta’s essentially higher win rate and his own mental outlook on Goku’s strength stand to contradict this judgement on everyone else’s part. 

His professional record as a fighter only reinforces the belief that he does not always cares about winning in these tournaments, fights or coming off as the strongest fighter of them all. He has won only 1 tournament even though he participated in 9 of them. He has lost to Jacki Chun, Tien. He forfeited in the Cell games, and in the Other World’s tournament was a disqualification. His fights with Vegeta are known to be brutal and not in his favour both times. The only person he has ever defeated in a tournament Finale is Piccolo.

Having said all this, there were times when he was left in a state where he could have died had his bouts continued, the only two times he has ever died are because of self-sacrifice on his part. Both when he first held his brother Raditz so Piccolo can kill him and when he contained Cell.

Characterisation

Goku seems to have attained some sort of metaphorical enlightenment in this series, he does falters sometimes like when he snapped in his ssj3 form when his plan didn’t go as he expected it to, but at for a good part of anime he seems to have some sort of other worldly confidence in his own self and the universe. Many times he showed he was above the entire progression of story line itself for example when he was ready to give up earth in one of the arcs which truly represents Flat Character Arc at its finest. It doesn’t means he is careless or too dumb to actually understand whats going on. It just shows the character is complete without the arc.

This is also one of the trappings of such character. A lot of people would use this as an accuse to bash DBZ and one of its chief protagonist, saying things like “This anime is same as it was in Ep1.”, “Oh he is just going to rely on another power up to solve every crisis…”, “Well it gets really boring because all arcs are so similar”, all this just represents ignorance on the part of the watchers because they fail to notice the emotional and mental maturity Goku goes through as the story line progresses. Yes certain things like his core character is not going to change, but that’s what make him so unique, that doesn’t means he is not going to gain anything as the anime progresses. That’s just false assumptions based on one observation that the character seems way ahead of the arc and confident that all is going to turn out well most of the time.

Yes the 10 year old Goku is very similar to the Goku that appears in the DB Super, but they are both on entirely different planes of emotional maturity. Remember Goku did sacrifice himself on two occasions since the beginning of the series.

This article attempts to draw out some fine points with regards to Goku’s Flat Character Archetype. Such characters are truly rare in anime. In fact Goku can be used as a yard stick for perfect Flat Character Archetypes. We hope you enjoyed the DBZ experience with him if you watched DBZ in past, feel free to come by and discuss about Goku and other characters from any other anime on our anime discord AnimeSoul (WLA).

Written by Suzaku.

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Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken Anime Review

Media: Anime
Name: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken
MAL Score: 8.26
Episodes: 24
Genres: Fantasy, Shounen

WARNING. Review below can contain minor spoilers.

Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken aired between October 2018 to march 2019 by studio 8-Bit, based on light novel with same title, written by Fuse.

Story tell us about Satoru Mikami (37 years old) who is (who would expect?) a salary man, who dies to unfortunate circumstances and reincarnate in new world as….Slime!

As typically for most of Isekai franchise our hero gets brand-new, cheat-like ability, then as mentioned – reincarnates in totally new world.

Same fact that our hero reincarnates as slime makes entire story bit more original than usual isekai title where most characters reincarnates as humans.

Plot

Personally I found Slime story rather average. Rimuru is not hero who suddenly needs save world, fight demon lord or deal with other form of threat. He is more of world exploring/his adventures in it, if we are at world building – in my opinion, reincarnated as slime did it pretty well, with various characters, countries and races. Same plot is also in more relaxed manner; action is served in rather medium/slow manner.

Characters

Tensei Slime have rather interesting bunch of characters, sadly 24 eps felt like not enough to develop and express them properly. Some of them were still noticeable. Let me start from our main hero – Rimuru. What I like within his character is that he is not as usual. He overly naive or “justice Mary sue” white knight who’s main target is to spread justice, equality or similar things. He is rather person who cares about his friends and peoples and don’t hesitate when there is need of eliminate threat, which makes him bit more interesting than usual isekai hero.

Another character who had rather big impact on story was Shizue which is revealed in later stages of story. With her regrets, story, secrets and dreams, what they are? Watch and see for yourself.

There is also bunch of other characters and races (wolves, goblins, dwarfs, elves, demons, orcs, one with rather interesting backstory and development) or even tsundere dragons.

Animation

Most of times tensei slime got very impressive visuals. Especially first episodes were made with great, smooth animation, colors, and great backgrounds. Sometimes some eps were inconsistent had some weird “potato/derp” faces. One thing which I feared – was CGI, widely used in many shows. At least in current times, luckily I admit, animators did very good job with CGI usage and it never felt out of place or just plainly bad. Overall, in terms of art/animation studio 8-bit did great job.

Final thoughts

If you are looking for more original “reincarnated as….in another world” or just “isekai”, in rather calm, chill manner where MC discovers new world and live his daily life in new fantasy world I can recommend this show.

Personal rating

9/10

Written by Shaniss.

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Mawaru Penguindrum Anime Review

Media: Anime
Name: Mawaru Penguindrum
MAL Score: 8.01
Episodes: 24
Genres: Mystery, Comedy, Dementia, Psychological, Drama

” I hate the word “fate” “.

Mawaru Penguindrum aired in 2011 by studio Brain’s base and directed by Ikuhara, Kunihiko is a story about Takakura’s family – Twin brothers Kanba and Shouma,along with their younger sister Himari.

Story

Entire plot spins around Takakura family and their problems with “fate” and himawari’s incurable disease, to save her, they need to find Penguin drum. Same story was quite interesting, with good pacing, good amount of dramatic along with comedic relief or funny scenes. Everything with big amount of symbolism and metaphors in various scenes, sometimes happy ones, sad, dramatic and bittersweet ones.

Animation

Personally I didn’t see too many flaws in animation or art, rather it was very well made. It was very colorful, with beautiful moments. The same goes for character designs and way they were expressing themselves where every single one was quite unique, with their own special lines and quotes. Animation felt very smooth, with many awesome detailed,colorful backgrounds.

Soundtrack

Personally one of strongest points of this show for me. Starting with opening “Nornir” by Yakushimaru Etsuko, through to other songs like “Fate of the Sons of Flame – Scorpion & Fruti Wheel” “Unmei no kotachi” or “Namida no Umi” and many others. Most of them beautifully emphasized many scenes, making them even more powerful and emotional.

Characters

In my opinion every character got very good, detailed and proper development along with their own past backstory and problems with which they need to deal. Obsession, revenge, forgiveness, grief – and many others, we can see characters in big amount of mental states and how they are dealing with them. Be it the cool, serious and sometimes ruthless Kanba, brave and more innocent Shouma. Then the always cheerful Himari, obsessed with her fate and future Ringo, or mysterious Watase. Yet is rather short and shallow description of characters, where every single one get their time to shine with their expression. Very noticeable background characters are penguins which express mental and physical state of the Takakura family, but also make great amount of less serious and comedic relief which adds even more variety to show.

Overall summary

Mawaru penguindrum was one of most unique shows I have ever seen, with very well-written characters. I also enjoyed the beautiful, smooth animation, great soundtrack and awesome story. I especially enjoyed the very emotional finale, but the many moments which gave us a lot to think about. Certainly recommend, personal rating 9.5/10.

Written by Shaniss.
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