(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)
Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Crunchyroll/Funimation. I received no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank youCrunchyroll/Funimation for this opportunity.
Well, here we are, we are talking about a shonen battle anime franchise film. For those that know this critic’s personal bias towards them, you know that these franchise films aren’t really all that good. Most of the time, these films are shallow non-cannon experiences that introduce elements that could have been useful in the main story and are never brought up again. You wonder why the showrunners never think about adding the film elements and making them canon, but no matter how good they are, they tend to be just shinier versions of the show with exclusive villains and storylines. There is a debate on which type of shonen franchise film is worse, the recap of an arc in film form, or the filler story that may introduce some new characters, villains, and story beats, but will absolutely not matter in the long run. Luckily, we are seeing a new trend where some franchises are adapting certain story beats into films. Like, why not pace out an arc for a film when it might not work in the form of a show? This happened with Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, even if they did then reanimate a chunk of it as a couple of episodes. Luckily, today’s review will not have that issue, since it’s a prequel to the overall anime! This is a review of Jujutsu Kaisen 0.
The film is directed by Sunghoo Park, the director of the show, The God of Highschool, and Garo: The Vanishing Line. It’s written by Hiroshi Seko, and based on the manga by Gege Akutami. Our story follows Yuta Okkotsu, dubbed by Kayleigh McKee. He’s a high schooler who happens to have something looming over his shoulders in the form of a deadly and immensely powerful cursed spirit named Rika Orimoto, dubbed by Anairis Quinones. This spirit happens to be his childhood friend before she died and was cursed to stick to Yuta. After an incident where Yuta put some classmates into the infirmary ward, he is sought after by our favorite Jujutsu sorcerer/mentor Satoru Gojo, dubbed by Kaiji Tang. He decides to enroll him into the school where individuals who want to become sorcerers can train and save people from these curses. Unfortunately for Yuta and Gojo, the main villain of the series, Suguru Geto, dubbed by Lex Lang, wants to get Rika for his own desires to rule the world and kill anyone who isn’t a Jujutsu sorcerer. Can Yuta get a handle on his grief and save the day? I mean, obviously, something happens since this is a prequel story, but still.
What’s so fascinating about this film is how it fits into the overall franchise. Unlike most films in battle franchises, this one is actually important to the story. You can literally start the franchise with this film and then watch the show. The film rewards you with watching it first by making a lot of the stuff that happens in the show have more substance to them. However, watching the show and then the film afterwards can also give you some rewards in a different sense by filling in those parts of the story that this film explains. It’s such a smart decision to adapt the prequel story into a movie due to how it really couldn’t work as its own small story arc due to how little substance there was in the original manga. The film itself has a rock-solid story of Yuta getting over the loss of his friend, and him metaphorically and literally holding onto his grief with Rika. There is also a part of the story dealing with the different ideals, and the ravine that separates two of the characters due to their backstory and philosophy. It’s a film with a lot more substance than “the heroes fight a movie-exclusive villain that doesn’t do anything for the main storyline”.
Animation-wise, it does look fantastic. Despite the fact that MAPPA is overworking their animators like the rest of the anime industry when they shouldn’t, their animation is top-notch. The film might not look any different from the show, but considering how good it looked in the first place, that isn’t the biggest deal. The characters look great, the animation is fluid, and the action beats are incredible. There is a reason why most studios try to book MAPPA for action shows due to their incredible work. I am sure this is what the director is now going to be known for. The English dub cast is fantastic as usual, with a really good set of actors that are obviously in the show as well. As I previously mentioned, we have Kayleigh McKee, Anairis Quinones, Kaiji Tang, Lex Lang, Allegra Clark, Xander Mobus, Matthew David Rudd, Bill Butts, Ryan Bartley, Sarah Williams, and Laura Post. The music hits all of those fun bombastic and action-packed notes, and they bring back the overall team of the show for the film. I mean, why wouldn’t they? They brought back composers Hiroaki Tsutsumi, Yoshimasa Terui, and Alisa Okehazama. Hiroaki is a well-known composer who also worked on shows like Tokyo Revengers, Dr. Stone, Orange, Children of the Whales, Monster Musume, and the infamously awful Koikimo.
Now, criticizing this film is a touch complicated. Not that it doesn’t have any flaws, there are a few that could be leveled against this film, but some of those complaints are probably build-up for the second season coming out next year. For example, the side villains? They don’t get to do much. While a few of them have a lot more story importance with the upcoming season, it’s a shame some are simply introduced. Luckily, this show is tremendously popular and will have some story relevance in the future, but for the sake of this film, they aren’t really substantial to the story. There also should have been a lot more time for moments to expand upon the friendship and love between Yuta and Rika. The film does enough to tell you their backstories, but they really are the highlights. They were both kids with illnesses, they loved each other, and then Rika dies and gets cursed by Yuta and turns into this powerful cursed spirit. There isn’t much time for Rika to breathe as a character, and while a majority of this film’s story is about Yuta letting go of loss and the grief of cursing his childhood friend, Rika is used more like a prop rather than having her own actual character. Or at the very least, she isn’t as fleshed out as Yuta is, and that’s a shame. It’s essentially the big problem with shonen battle shows and Jujutsu Kaisen as a whole, where sometimes the story and writing aren’t taking time to give the characters time to breathe.
Overall though, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is fantastic, and once again, it’s one of the rare franchise films where you can literally start with the film and then jump into the show, or watch the film after the show, and get rewarded in many different ways. It’s a fascinating film that mostly works as a perfect introduction to a franchise, and it has substance within the franchise. It’s actually mandatory that you watch the film, unlike so many franchise films that you can pretty much skip. The franchise is pretty good, and is a much better battle show than most that get released. Well, next time we will be looking at another Netflix feature from a prominent director. You will just have to wait for the review in the near future.
Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!
(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)
Here we have the second part of my impressions of the Summer 2021 anime season! As usual, these are just my subjective impressions of anime from a three or more episode viewing. The summer season has been mediocre, full of misfires that really didn’t connect to me or other viewers. It’s a sign of how there is too much anime coming out, and not enough time or people to properly flesh out the ideas. Who knows how good some of these could have been if they had proper time and talent attached to these projects. They also run into that problem of just because you can adapt something, doesn’t mean you can or should. Hopefully, the overly stuffed Fall 2021 Season will be better, but we will have to see. Let’s talk about these last few shows.
Cheat Pharmacist’s Slow Life: Making a Drug Store in Another World (Crunchyroll)
Based on the novels, light novels, and manga by Kennoji, this anime adaptation is directed by Masafumi Sato, written by Hiroko Kanasugi, and produced by EMT Squared. This is the most middling mediocre isekai of the season. It’s not the worst one, but boy you had better be okay with watching a show that gets wildly repetitive. First off, we don’t know how the lead character got into this fantasy world or what he did beforehand.
It’s a weird take, and while it is usually groan-inducing to see the lead character either die of being overworked or getting hit by a bus or a truck, the show, as of the episodes I watched, didn’t seem interested at all with telling us our lead’s backstory.
Due to this being an EMT Squared anime, it’s more interested in having a male lead with a bunch of very young-looking women around him or falling for him than telling us a proper story. Listen, I’m not saying EMT Squared is a little sister or young girl harem anime studio, but after a while, you see a particular pattern in the shows they make. It’s luckily not directed by the guy who has made some of the studio’s more notorious shows like Assassin’s Pride or Master of Ragnarok, but it still has a few of those show’s worst elements. The little werewolf girl is meant to be this cute mascot for the character for the show, but her design is rough to look at, due to how it looks like she’s wearing just cotton panties/shorts and a vest that doesn’t cover her torso. Come on, anime industry, can we stop with these types of design tropes? I know you have to work hard and make your show look distinct from the other shows coming out, but let’s not cater to the creep crowd. It’s a shame this show is so mediocre, because an isekai all about potion making and health items sounds cool, and the visuals are decent enough to make for a different take on the isekai genre.
It even has a few decent side characters that were enjoyable to see every time they are on screen. It’s a bummer they aren’t the actual focus of the show, since I don’t care for our main characters. It’s also too bad we already had a much better show all about this last season with The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent. Oh, and Cheat Pharmacist doesn’t handle a character who has anxiety attacks very well, so, yeah. It’s one of the more notable misfires of the summer season, but I can at least understand why someone would turn on this show due to how lightweight and junk foody it is. Due to some elements that rubbed me the wrong way, I can’t say it’s harmless, but if we want to talk about shows that I find morally repugnant, well, I know a few that I would call the worst of the season.
The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated (Crunchyroll)
This quirky little comedy is based on the manga by Wakame Konbu, is directed by Mirai Minato, written by Michiko Yokote, and produced by Silver Link. I think outside of an obnoxious first episode, the show mellows out by the second and third episodes. I even watched the latest episode and found the show to have a lot of charm. I don’t care for Jahy’s child form wearing a large shirt though and the fact they keep focusing on her legs.
The show also has a lot of humor relying on Jahy being poor, and those jokes get tiring fast. The show was at its best when it focused on different types of jokes and introducing characters that play well off of Jahy, like her loyal servant, her unknown rival/assassin, the owner of the apartment, or her friend she works with at the pub. When it focuses on those elements, the show is decent. Granted, I kept thinking about The Devil is a Part-Timer while watching this anime, but that’s a huge problem with many shows this season, where I was constantly thinking of other shows with similar premises that I would rather be watching than the one I am watching now. However, I can’t say that this was one of the worst of the season. It’s straight down the middle. It has its moments, but it’s a show I can see myself skipping for other ones.
Remake Our Life (Crunchyroll)
Based on the manga and light novels by Nachi Kio, this adaptation is directed by Tomoki Kobayashi, written by Nachi Kio, and produced by Feel. I will be honest about two specific things. One, I forgot to put this within the slice of life category for the first half, so I’m sorry about that. The second thing is that this show doesn’t get off on the best foot forward. It’s an hour-long premiere, and I felt like it focused too much on the front half of our lead getting sent back in time 10 years to go to a different art school to restart his life. It also dips too much into art school drama and cheap fanservice moments.
With that said, when it starts to dive into the main character interacting with his classmates for projects and their drives for what they want to do, the series seriously picks up. It might not be the best-executed drama, but considering how mediocre a lot of the stories were in all of the anime this season, I am all for a show that does eventually by the second episode get the ball rolling, and tell a compelling enough tale for the audience to enjoy.
The Duke of Death and his Maid (Funimation)
Consider this the problematic favorite of the entire summer season. It’s based on the manga by Koharou Inoue, and the anime adaptation is directed by Yoshinobu Yamakawa, written by Hideki Shirane, and is produced by JC Staff. Seeing the team behind this series makes a lot of sense when you consider that the director was behind High Score Girl. The CGI visuals and cutesy gothic aesthetic will look familiar to the director’s previous work.
It’s called the problematic fave, because on the outside and as a whole, there is a genuinely sweet story about a young man who is fated to be alone due to a curse put on him. Anyone or any living thing he touches will die, and the only people in his life are his loyal butler and his very anime-looking maid. The chemistry between the two leads from the title is extremely sweet and wholesome. They have some of the best chemistry out of any duo this season. The romantic feelings for one another are believable and cute. Some of the show’s best moments are when the two are together and speaking sincerely to one another.
So, what makes it a problematic fave? It’s because the show’s tone and how it portrays the duke and his maid’s dynamic seems to be at odds with one another. It’s supposed to be sweet and cute, but the dialogue, how the characters act, and the tone play it up as harassment that’s played for comedy. Harassment is not okay, and it’s weird how the show uses dialogue and sequences that reinforce that, when the show is also saying it’s not that harassy. It’s a very odd tone to a quirky show, and to some degree, you can understand why they took this angle. Still, I don’t care much for the Duke’s sister’s quirk of falling for the butler. That felt tacked on and weird.
Even then, with one or two rewrites and a fix to the tone of how these scenes are shot, everything would feel more cohesive with the rather expressive CGI animation. It’s an incredibly charming show that could have used one more run-through with the tone or maybe a female director or perspective on how to make it feel more cohesive. It’s still one of the better anime of the season though, and if you want to see a cute romantic comedy with a gothic twist, then this show will be right up your alley.
The Dungeon of Black Company (Funimation)
This anime is based on the manga by Yohei Yasumura, and the adaptation is directed by Mirai Minato, written by our recurring writer this season Deko Akao, and produced by Silver Link. At first, the series shows its cynical dark comedy fangs with an isekai that’s all about tearing down and commentating on the infamous Black Company-style working conditions seen throughout Japan. Considering the definition of Black Company, I assume you can find this kind of problematic work ethics in any work culture from around the world. It has shades of Konosuba, where our main character is a real pain in the neck who, due to working around legal loopholes, was originally a human who raked in the cash by making a few questionable business decisions. The anime then sends him straight into the deep end by forcing him to work in inhumane working conditions. It then expands on the overall commentary about the flaws of workforces driven by capitalism.
Sometimes, anime that wants to dabble in serious topics, using humor with commentary falls flat due to not being able to balance out the two, but Dungeon of Black Company tends to hit it out of the park with being creative with the fantasy setting, having a cast that are likably dumb and mean, and the commentary is spot on with how twisted some major corporations can be for the pursuit of the bottom dollar. Personally, I had to briefly stop myself from watching the show due to how much I was laughing and enjoying my time with the show.
Of course, there is a reason why some people find the setting so disgusting, due to the real-life Black Company policies being used on actual people. Sometimes comedy has lines they shouldn’t cross, and that will be dependent on what that individual’s taste in comedy is. With that being said, with how many mediocre comedies and fantasy shows are out this season, anime fans should be happy there are a few isekai/fantasy shows that have more meat to their discussions.
Itaden Deities Only know Peace (Crunchyroll)
Content Warning: Rape is shown at the end of the first episode and is a constant thing in the overall show. I won’t blame you for wanting to bail after this warning.
This anime is based on the manga by Amahara. It’s directed by Seimei Kidokoro, written by Hiroshi Seko, and produced by MAPPA. Honestly, while Gods of Highschool still might be MAPPA’s worst anime, Itaden Deities is right up there. This hot mess of a show feels like it was meant to be a dark comedy of fantasy action shows like YuYu Hakusho, mixed with the visual style of Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, which is not a subtle comparison due to how the illustrator, Coolkyousinnjya designed the look of both Itaden and Dragon Maid series. It also has a ton of that edgelord tripe from the late 80s/early 90s anime era, where rape and assault are played up as huge elements of the story and even as jokes, which, you know, aren’t great. It has a decent hook at the beginning about the morality tale of Deities. They were meant to protect the human race, but due to how the newest batch never had to fight demons until a few episodes into the show, they don’t know how to react.
I can see that hook being a really solid bit of commentary. With that said, it doesn’t work because I do not like these characters. You can make flawed and obnoxious characters interesting, but the lead characters in this show are some of the most unlikable I have seen this season. Even when the villains are also complete garbage, I would rather invest time with the villains than the heroes who are insufferable.
By the time I caught up with the rest of the episodes, the show got worse when the stakes became nonexistent. Why should anyone care about what happens when the humans suck, the villains suck, and the heroes are intolerable jerks? There is no balance with it being stupidly violent and edgy. Anytime it gets better, it takes five steps back. This is one of MAPPA’s worst shows, and easily one of the worst shows of the season and the year. I’m so mad this wasn’t better. If you like it, that’s perfectly okay, but for me, I just can not recommend this to anyone.
Spirit Chronicles (Crunchyroll)
This wildly mediocre isekai anime adaptation is directed by Osamu Yamasaki, co-written by Yamasaki, Megumu Sasano, and Yoshiko Namakura, produced by TMS Entertainment, and is based on the novels and manga by Yuri Kitayama. Outside of an incredibly dark way of making our characters teleport, and a slight twist to the formula with some of the characters having to share a mind and body of a pre-existing individual in the fantasy world, everything else is awful.
It has cartoonishly mean characters who are bordering on a parody of rich classist individuals. There are no real surprises in terms of what the roles of our main characters are, and the biggest problem is that it does want to be something distinct. It has moments where it either builds up the lore of the world and has proper character moments that expand on our otherwise bland leads. It then drops those beats and turns into another mediocre isekai fantasy series that wants to be another Sword Art Online in more ways than one. Seriously, it took me three episodes to realize that the lead in the opening looks exactly like the lead in SAO. It also has some of the EMT Squared blood in its DNA as the lead has a harem of really young-looking girls and it’s never not uncomfortable. I know the isekai genre is super popular, but maybe we should take a break from adapting them if they are going to be this bad. It’s easily one of the worst anime of the season.
How a Realist Hero Rebuilds a Kingdom (Funimation)
The title should be How to Not Have Fun in an Isekai or How To Take A Comedic Idea and Ruin It! This anime adaptation is based on the novels and manga by Dojyomaru, directed by Takashi Watanabe, co-written by Go Zappa and Hiroshi Onogi, and produced by JC Staff. I was looking forward to this anime, due to the premise of an isekai where the story and action take a seat on the throne of running a kingdom from a “realistic” perspective. It’s not so much about the action as it is more about running a healthy and fair kingdom.
That sounds great. Too bad someone decided to lean into the more “work” side of things, leaving me unimpressed with how seriously they are taking the “realist” part of the show’s title. This whole anime and story feels like an anime made for those smarmy individuals that made articles that kickstarted Disney’s live-action remake train, because no one ever accepts that a fantasy story should be full of, well, fantasy/fantastical elements. This show is a boring sit, but it’s not like I don’t get how this can gel with someone.
It has a few decent jokes, and to be fair, I have heard the anime doesn’t do a great job at portraying the source material’s charm and appeal. Well, that’s too bad, but even if I at all cared about whether the manga was good or not, the anime has to stand on its own legs. Being bored in a pretty generic fantasy world with a few elements that bug me is what I got from watching the first few episodes of this show.
It’s not the worst show of the season since it is technically doing what the title set out to do, but I think if this series leaned more on the comedy aspect of this show’s premise, I would have enjoyed it more. How much fun would it be if it took the One Punch Man approach to subversive comedy, taking full advantage of how goofy this plot is and then have fun with it trying to be as realistic as possible? I think I’m also a bit burned by this anime, because I was looking forward to it, only to find out the actual anime I was curious about was coming out two seasons from now in Winter 2022. If they didn’t fully commit to being so realistic with how a realist would run a kingdom, maybe I would have enjoyed it more. Check it out if you want, there is a dub available, but this show was not my cup of tea.
Battle Game in 5 Seconds After Meeting (Crunchyroll)
Another battle royale? Must be a day that ends in Y. This one is based on the manga by Saizo Harawata, and the anime adaptation is directed by Meigo Naito and Nobouyoshi Arai and produced by SynergySP, Vega Entertainment, and Studio A-Cat. Well, it’s another battle royale. It doesn’t do a whole lot to differentiate itself from other anime in the genre, and that’s becoming a huge problem. Why adapt something when there is no real meaty hook to make you stand out from the rest? It has one interesting hook with the lead character’s ability, where he has to convince his opponents what his abilities are, but that’s it.
I guess it’s nice that the lead character is not a pushover, and whimpering about not wanting to be there, but they did make him a sociopathic monster, so, I guess you pick your poison on which one is worse. The other characters don’t stand out much, and the only thing that is fun to look up about this show are the voice actors with the sadistic cat girl being voiced by Haruko’s voice actor from FLCL and the dude with the sword ability voiced by the Japanese voice of Zoro from One Piece. It is a show that wants to be super grimdark and edgy, and it keeps doing so in the most cartoonish of ways. By trying to come off edgy, it comes off as edgeless. It can be a pseudo-fun time during certain battles, but I can already watch much better battle royales and much better action shows from this and previous seasons. It’s a vapid show that is another low point for this season full of low points.
D_Cide Traumerei the Animation (Crunchyroll)
Based on the mobile game by Sumzap and Drecom, this anime adaptation is directed by Yoshikazu Kon, written by Hiroshi Onogi, and produced by Zanzigen. Do you know what we have here? It is yet another anime with something really good about it, but undermined by mediocre storytelling and writing. First off, this is probably some of the best CGI animation of the season. It looks incredible and the fight scenes are well executed. It has some of the season’s best action sequences!
But then it comes to the story and how it tries to do the whole “we have social commentary” approach, and this is where it falls flat. I don’t hate it when shows try to cover tough topics, but if you are going to touch topics like abuse, drugs, and toxic fans, maybe you should handle them with care and not like some uneducated teenager who thinks they know everything. I’m so sick of shows this season with half-baked plots and half-hearted executions of themes and commentary.
Tsukimichi: Moonlit Fantasy (Crunchyroll)
Who would have thought that one of the best shows this season would be an isekai? It’s based on the manga and novels by Kei Azumi, and the anime is directed by Shinji Ishihara, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by C2C. It finally happened. We have an isekai this season that wasn’t complete garbage!
While the comparisons to That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime are understandable, the novels came out a year before Slime got started, so technically, Slime should be thankful for Moonlit Fantasy. They even have some fairly similar elements of the main character getting warped to a fantasy world and befriending/making contracts with powerful individuals. Moonlit takes it in a more comedic direction where the lead gets two hot women who are loyal to him, but not in a horny fanservicey way. Even the lead getting sent to the fantasy world gets the raw end of the deal from that world’s goddess, and has to get bailed out by another deity to actually survive in the world.
It has some real top-notch comedy, action, and character dynamics. It’s able to mix its comedic edge with sincere character moments and solid action. It’s one of the anime this season that feels the most cohesive, outside of Uramichi Oniisan and The Aquatope on White Sand. It stands as one of the best anime of the season and of the year so far.
Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!