Who remembers Utawarerumono? It was a series that came out in 2006 (adapting an earlier visual novel) that was kinda dull and best remembered for getting real freaking weird out of nowhere at the end and being called “Underater Ray Romano” because nobody knew how to pronounce the name. Well, fast forward nearly a decade and this rather forgettable series got a sequel!
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen (TL: The False Faces), or at least the anime I’m reviewing here, doesn’t make any explicit reference to events from the first series so you don’t have to have watched it to follow this, but it does assume some knowledge about the world. Nothing vitally important, but there are things that will seriously come out of left field if you’re coming in blind (don’t worry; they’re as inexplicable in the first series too).
Much like the first season, Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen is about a man (‘Haku’) who wakes up with amnesia and finds himself in a mysterious and hostile world where the people have animal ears and tails, before befriending and essentially being taken in by the woman who found him. The story beats are much the same – Haku gains an ever-expanding group of friends before the story turns towards war – but the direction it takes is wildly different.
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You may not know this about me, but I play Bushiroad’s Cardfight!! Vanguard (Bermuda Triangle and Neo Nectar 4 lyf). That’s pretty much the only reason I picked up Luck & Logic; it’s based on Bushiroad’s new TCG of the same name. I was interested in maybe checking the game out (especially now that it’s confirmed to be coming out in English too) and figured that watching the anime might help me get an idea for what it’d be like. Turns out that Luck & Logic is based on the background and ‘story’ of the game, such as it exists, so no card battles for me!
Still, I kept at it, despite it not being the type of anime I’d normally watch. In terms of premise and execution Luck & Logic most closely resembles a lot of modern light novels. Yoshichika is an exceptionally gifted ‘Logician’, he ends up being pulled into ALCA – an organisation on Septpia, ‘Earth’ in this setting, dedicated to defeating and/or capturing invading alien beings from other dimensions – where he fights alongside a bunch of beautiful female Logicians, and also they’re all teenagers. Strong sense of déjà vu, right?
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Sports series aimed primarily at women have seen a major surge in popularity over the past few years, with the likes of Kuroko no Basuke, Free! and Haikyuu!! becoming veritable phenomena. I’ve only seen Free! and Yowamushi Pedal (along with endless thirst on my Twitter timeline), but even though I am decidedly not in their target demographics I still found myself swept up by the excitement of competition, the satisfaction of hard work paying off and, of course, the cute anime boys.
But what do these sports series offer? With Free!, it’s all about the characterisation; their growth as people, the development of their relationships as friends and teammates, and the drama of rivalries and inadequacy, all framed within a competitive environment. It’s not about the sport per se, but rather it’s used to explore the athletes involved. Yowamushi Pedal is practically the opposite – the sport is a huge focus, with the building of their strength as a team and the thrill and tension of racing taking centre stage.
Prince of Stride: Alternative delivers neither, nor does it offer up a compelling third option.
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