Heaven Official’s Blessing (Early Impressions)

I started a fair few shows from the current season but haven’t really drifted back to many of them yet – with one exception, Tian Guan Ci Fu.

Only the first 4 episodes are available but I’m enjoying it a lot – it has plenty of things I love: action, fantasy, historical aspects and fantastic costumes, lovely art and engaging characters, so I’ll definitely continue on.

This early, the romance hasn’t really kicked off – in fact, the show is a little darker, more supernatural perhaps than I was expecting, but that’s not a problem at all. Xie Lian is a great lead too and I’m keen to see how he’ll hold his own against the Demon King.

I’m also enjoying this introduction to the Xianxia genre (which is closely related to Wuxia, I believe), with the heroes not just being warriors but also gods – which creates some interesting problems for the story; how to make them not too overpowered too early etc

Looking forward to more!

It’s also my first introduction (I think) to Chinese animation group Haoliners Animation League, and this is beautiful work so I’ll definitely seek more of their productions in time.

I will say, that I have one minor issue so far, which is with the typsetting for the subtitles, they’re a touch small. Obviously, that’s because both the Japanese and English are placed onscreen, one above the other. Maybe that’s just my poor distance vision, but the alternative is to have no translation at all, and I would not like that!

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 12)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

Okay! Another series final – this time No Guns Life wraps up and I’m left kinda desperate for a further season one day.

I feel that mostly because all 24 episodes of No Guns Life seem to be set-ups for something that cannot possible happen within 24 episodes.

There’s just so much more story! And I fear I won’t get a chance to see it. (Especially because I don’t have the shelf space to start collecting the manga, and thus my hope is that Madhouse green lit more.)

Ultimately, I didn’t enjoy this ending episode as much as I’d hoped – but that doesn’t mean I thought it was bad, not at all. (It was interesting to get some backstory on Pepper for instance).

And there was a bit of welcome focus on comedic stuff and the switch in colour palette was refreshing, but the finale wasn’t an explosive finish, even if I appreciated an important reveal in there.

Still, as I said before – I really do want more No Guns Life one day.

DECA-DENCE (12)

Deca-Dence 2020

Yay for a big finish!

So, whether some things were easy to predict in the finale doesn’t matter so much to me, since they were fun, and I got an upbeat ending too! Plus, my curiosity is high now, upon seeing the changes in the aftermath.

Interestingly, I enjoyed this ending more than that of the other show I’m currently writing about on an episode-by-episode basis, which is No Guns Life.

I am also (due to the length of time and repeat exposure perhaps) growing accustomed to the visuals of “Tanker + Cyborg within the one frame” now, so I guess I’m onboard fully, despite much initial resistance 😀

And, based on the ending, I can see room for more story and I wonder if – based on this interview that Lyn mentioned to me on twitter, maybe a film sequel in the future?

(It was fun to review a seasonal show as it streamed, but I don’t know if I could handle doing two this October. Maybe just one will be enough :D)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 11)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

After a fairly large recap for an intro, and a bit of recapping within that kinda impacted the pacing for me, the fight between Juzo and Seven kicks up a notch or two.

At the same time, there was a little widening of the focus to bring in other players too, and to give Pepper a chance to make a mess of things.

Maybe there are a few cracks in Seven’s resolve too, enough to weaken him – but I think the most important thing I picked up with episode was basically confirmation that those two have essentially gone rogue.

Not much else that I think needs highlighting for me, other than my feeling that the over-sized arms as weapons could be a touch comical… but then, is it really any more odd-ball than guns as heads?

Nope 😀

DECA-DENCE (11)

Deca-Dence 2020

Stakes are definitely getting higher – as they probably should, now that the season draws closer to its end.

And while the new Gadoll threat brings with it not just echoes of the God Warriors in Nausicaa, but also a horde of offspring to trouble the Tankers and Gears alike, I still found myself enjoying the comedic bits most.

Again, I’m hoping that next season there will be a chance for characters to explore a bit but for now, it feels like the episode is using the pause before the big showdown to offer a few light moments.

Kurenai’s drinking was one of course, and the mistaken identity moment, but I’m mostly thinking about Natsume and her reaction to seeing the cyborgs, plus her attempt to imagine what Kaburagi really looks like. I won’t spoil it here, but I definitely laughed.

(It was also satisfying to be offered a small resolution for he and Minato, and I remain very curious about Jill’s past. Ready to see how the gambit she and Kaburagi have come up with plays out too.)

However, I spent a bit of time after the episode thinking about stuff ‘behind the curtain’ as it were, re: the way both Natsume and the viewer are being eased into the eventual moment when she and Kabu finally meet face-to-face.

I still think the two art styles are not complimentary… but this interview with some of the Deca-Dence team explains nicely why the ‘cute’ choice was made, and intellectually I like the reasoning, but at a gut-level I feel the clash between the two styles.

Anyway, to finally get to the point – I like this episode’s approach to revealing the cyborgs for several reasons, one because we get to see Natsume process the idea of cyborgs in general first, and two, this implies that she won’t have to ‘waste’ time doing too much adjusting when she does see Kaburagi in the next episode, which I think will need to pack a lot in to set up the next season.

And finally, I liked it because this way, we didn’t have to rush her onscreen response to the cyborgs either, as might have happened if it was part of the final ep.

A little sad that next week is the final installment for now, but also feeling a touch relieved because I don’t know if I’m cut out for reviewing multiple seasonal shows at once 😀

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 10)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

So, I didn’t get the big confrontation I was hoping for on Kronen’s behalf, but I’m sure he’ll be in action again soon.

Instead, aside from a bit more of the struggle between Juzo and Seven (and a quick check-in with Mary) it’s mostly a long flashback where we meet Juzo’s Hands and see events that made him who he is today.

As the audience is meant to be, I think most of us have been quite curious about certain details in his past and so I was glued to the screen here. Feels like my old (obvious) prediction that the Big Bad was not going to be dealt with this season has been accurate.

I guess it’s Seven instead, who will be the main antagonist after all, which is, in a way, a little disappointing. He’s no Victor for one, but then, he (and Pepper) are at least more interesting than Cunningham 😀

DECA-DENCE (10)

Deca-Dence 2020

Another short post – I’ve little to complain about, an episode to take stock and to process things is exactly what I was hoping for.

And as you may have seen elsewhere online, this is a classic shot from the car – I couldn’t avoid including it 🙂

Ultimately I don’t think I have much to say again – after the reflection, things started to build up again, especially at the end, with a new rather large threat. I was also excited to see that there was time for a little back story re: Natsume’s father, something I’ve been curious about for a long time.

I remain hopeful that next season there will be some exploration of the real world – maybe that’s the end point here, as whoever survives what’s coming, set off to find something else?

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 9)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

Yes! Kronen is back 😀

The action is escalating, as are the stakes and risks too, so I’m still enjoying this half of the season. I’m also expecting the narrative to check in with Mary soon, though we’re mid-battle at the end of the episode.

A few surprises in episode nine, and some handled… differently than others, but overall the tension is rising toward that big finish I’ve been craving. I’d really like to see a few characters drawn into the struggle more directly for the next few episodes, chief among them Victor.

As I feel like I’ve said many times before, I hope this does get a second season so a few scores can be settled, especially things that I don’t think there will be time for right now.

DECA-DENCE (9)

Deca-Dence 2020

Since I’m so far behind this week, I think this will be a far shorter post than usual when it comes to me and seasonal shows!

So, a big moment at the end of this episode, with a fair bit more action than we’ve seen lately, which was fun. And while I felt bad for Natsume, who will surely struggle to deal with the truth, I wonder if there are any big reveals left for the viewer?

We’ve been ‘ahead’ of the human characters for a long while now, so I’m interested to see whether the show will instead serve up some shocks for the cyborgs.

For instance, has this storytelling structure now lulled me into a false sense of confidence? I think I know what’s going on because I seem to know as much as Kaburagi, who in turn knows more than the humans… and then, suddenly when he gets hit with a surprise, I do too?

I feel a cruel cliffhanger coming at the end of this season!

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) (Season 2, 8)

No Guns Life (Nō Ganzu Raifu) 2020

Happy that my guess from the last episode was right, but on the other hand it was more fun to see that nasty surprise from Wachowski near the end.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’m noticing the most of the more serious episodes use this blue, green, grey palette with the lighter ones going for warmer tones, though it’s not a bright show in any sense.

Despite the action and revelations here, it still feels like that ‘pause before the big finish’ I’ve been expecting.

I’m hoping for some rising tension to build quickly now, as we head to the end of the season. But maybe I’ll be extremely wrong and there’s only a really cruel cliffhanger coming, rather than a strong resolution?

I’d love for some other folks to return also, like Kronen, and he was at least mentioned here, so I have hope!

Again, I’m a bit short on stuff to say – basically, I still look forward to No Guns Life in spite of how much I grumble about what I consider to be pacing issues.

Onward!