(REVIEW) The Clock Strikes Twelve for CALL OF THE NIGHT

This review contains spoilers for the reviewed material. This is your only warning.

Remember 2022 as a banner year for the anime vampire. Between the second part of The Case Study of Vanitas, 5-episode wonder (and future Magic Planet Anime review subject) Vampire in The Garden, and of course, this very anime, Call of The Night, it’s been a solid year for the fanged and fearsome among us. Of course, vampires—more specifically vampires and romance—are not new additions to anime as a medium. Not by a longshot, as I discussed when I first blogged about this series back in July, they’ve been common bedfellows for a long time.

Since then, in my intermittent coverage of the series, I’ve made mention more than once that vampires, traditionally, are symbols of the other. Of outsiders. The thing about symbols of course is that they eventually acquire a life all their own, separate from any single author’s intent. They become entities of their own; concepts that lurk in the collective human subconscious, to be interpreted a myriad of different ways as any individual artist sees fit, certainly, but always retaining a core identity that, if it changes, only does so slowly, over time, and through repeated effort by many individual interpreters.

So, when we look at Call of The Night, a series primarily centered on the 14-year-old Ko Yamori (Gen Satou) and his quest to fall in love with, and thus be turned by, decades-old vampire Nazuna Nanakusa (Sora Amamiya), we must ask ourselves what it is using that symbol to say, and how these things align with its broader storytelling goals.

In a general sense, there’s not really anything complicated about Call of the Night at all; it’s a story about Ko, an antisocial shut-in who starts taking long, lonesome night walks because he’s stopped going to school, coming of age and becoming his own person. Thought about this way, it could be lumped in with any number of other anime.

What lessens those commonalities that Ko and Nazuna’s relationship is somewhat fuzzy for much of the series; are they actually in love? Just friends? Something else entirely? It takes almost the entire 13-episode run for a definitive answer to that question to actually emerge, and that very uncertainty is largely what “vampirism” means within the context of Call of The Night. If we take “vampires” to be anyone who lives outside of normal society, the show’s theming clicks into place perfectly.

Indeed, it is very easy to read Ko, Nazuna, and their relationship in any number of ways. I’ve previously mostly looked at it through the lens of Ko, a fairly strongly neurodivergent-coded character, and quite possibly an aromantic, trying to figure out the foreign field of romance. Far on the other end of the field, I’ve also seen Nazuna called a sexual predator preying on Ko’s insecurities (I think you have to get pretty far into a countertextual reading to argue that, but I definitely get why people might get that vibe at first glance). In hindsight, I’d say neither of these, really, fit the show particularly well, which is a little unfortunate in the former case and a massive relief in the latter.

Instead, Call of the Night effectively presents a world much like our own, where human relationships are complicated, thorny things, full of accidents and insecurity, and in which you can never truly entirely know where you stand. This becomes clearer during the show’s last arc, with its introduction of the detective / vampire hunter Anko Uguisu (Miyuki Sawashiro), who makes it very clear that she does not see human and vampire lives as equally worthwhile. (It’s also worth noting that she guns for Ko more directly than Nazuna ever does.) Her killing a blood-starved vampire kicks off the final quarter of the series, which casts much of what comes before in a different light.

But, crucially, not all of it. At series’ end, Nazuna and Ko redouble their commitment to each other. Call of the Night ends on the line “we’re in this together.” Perhaps, then, what is crucial is not so much what Nazuna and Ko are to each other, but simply that they are something to each other. The very last scene is a kiss; so clearly this is a romantic relationship, but what is almost more important than the establishment of a definitive romance is that this clears out any uncertainty. “You and me against the world” is pretty easy to get your head around, even for the most romantically disinterested among us.

In that final arc, Call of The Night seems to pose Ko a choice; to become human and return to the world of ‘living’ (read: ordinary) people, or to take a gamble on the unknowable dangers of the vampire world. But interestingly, it does not present either humanity or vampirism as “the right choice.” Vampirism is neither a curse nor an automatic liberation. What is more important than making the choice at all is making it honestly, definitively, and with purpose. By the series’ end, Ko makes his.

None of this is to say that the show is flawless. For instance, its only real depiction of a genuinely GNC character, the otokonoko vampire Hatsuka Suzushiro (Azumi Waki) leaves quite a lot to be desired, and, for better or worse, there are many open questions by the time it ends. (Less a flaw, admittedly, and more just a consequence of adapting a still-ongoing manga.) It also probably spends a little too much time leering at various characters’ bodies; some of it makes sense, some of it just feels a little much.

But indeed, even in terms of positive qualities there’s a fair bit I haven’t talked about, such as the show’s absolutely phenomenal directing courtesy of Tomoyuki Itamura, whose pedigree includes not only fellow 2022 vampire series The Case Study of Vanitas, but also work on most of the Monogatari series, and, remarkably, episode 7 of ever-underrated SHAFT comedy And Yet The Town Moves. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that episode’s second half is entirely about the wonders of liminality, centering on a story about a young boy who watches midnight tick over into a new day for the first time. Call of The Night, despite many other differences from that series, inherits some of that spirit, a certain sense of midnight-black magic that no amount of cynicism and adult world-weariness can truly erase.

Back when Call of The Night first began, I made the remark that if it could keep up that feeling of nocturnal wonder from its first episode’s closing moments, it had nothing to worry about. Thirteen weeks later, that thought remains unchanged. Nazuna and Ko definitely have, but not the night itself. It’s as young as it’s ever been.

Like what you’re reading? Consider following Magic Planet Anime to get notified when new articles go live. If you’d like to talk to other Magic Planet Anime readers, consider joining my Discord server! Also consider following me on Twitter and supporting me on Ko-Fi or Patreon. If you want to read more of my work, consider heading over to the Directory to browse by category.

All views expressed on Magic Planet Anime are solely my own opinions and conclusions and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of any other persons, groups, or organizations. All text, excepting direct quotations, is owned by Magic Planet Anime. Do not duplicate without permission. All images are owned by their original copyright holders.

Let’s Watch LYCORIS RECOIL – Episodes 6 & 7

Let’s Watch is a weekly recap column where I follow an anime for the course of its entire runtime. Expect spoilers!

Well folks, I hope you like reading my opinions on Girls with Guns anime, because we have a full double-writeup this week.

Episode 6 is a weird one, although in the greater context of Lycoris Recoil it’s actually fairly typical, dealing as it does with a mix of action and wacky hijinks. Takina moves in with Chisato as an extra defense against the recent rash of Lycoris killings (we saw one of those in episode 5), mostly to comedic effect, despite the deadly serious situation, and there’s a running gag throughout the episode about Chisato’s preternatural skill at rock-paper-scissors, as well as plenty more gay subtext for those who are watching the series just for that.

But you wouldn’t assume such silliness from how the episode opens; it begins with the DA in crisis. The targeted killings have thrown the agency into disarray, and there’s not much indication that the commander really knows what to do. That’s actually all we see of her in this episode, but it sets the tone for that part of the episode pretty well.

Let’s briefly talk about Majima (Yoshitsugu Matsuoka). Majima is the weird terrorist who’s been behind these Lycoris killings. We learn in this episode that he’s probably working for Mr. Alan (whether he knows that is an open question at this point), and that he has a pretty short fuse, threatening his cohort, the hacker Roboto, if he can’t get him what he wants soon enough. What does he want? To smash the DA. To be honest, if that motive were welded to a more developed character, you could very easily make the case that Majima is actually the good guy. But Majima is not much more than a cartoonish killer with a grudge at this point, and frankly, he’s not a terribly interesting antagonist. (At least not in this episode, but we’ll get to that.) His being the bad guy is easy to chalk up to the show’s rather simple political principles. He is a functional counterforce for Chisato, though, which is enough for this episode specifically. He becomes interested in our hero when Roboto inadvertently shows him some footage of her roughing up some would-be assailants, and from then on it’s mostly ravings about “balance.” Although there is one interesting reveal snuck in here; that Chisato is, or at least Majima thinks she is, an “Alan Lycoris.” It really doesn’t seem like our protagonist is actually working for Alan, so what that means, beyond Alan’s brief allusion to her being a “genius of killing” back in episode 4, is fairly up in the air.

The actual section of the episode where Majima and Chisato fight is strongly done, and LycoReco makes a much-needed comeback on the production front after the visually iffy episode 5, here. The fact that Majima’s favored method of attacking Lycorii starts with “run them over with a Lambo” is still deeply silly, but it at least looks suitably dramatic and menacing this time around. Most notably with this shot, where it does actually look like Chisato might be seriously injured or worse. (She is, of course, fine. No one can stop an anime high school girl with a firearm.)

Things do get dicey enough though that Takina has to intervene, although not before we get a pretty great “hero and villain fistfight while surrounded by chanting goons” scene. I’ve always loved that particular trope, it’s an easy way to inject some grit into a story. (And the between frames of a full-on slugfest are inevitably hilarious.)

There are some other interesting bits in here. For one, we get yet another piece of the puzzle as to the question of what exactly happened back in episode 1. Today we learn that the person who hacked the Radiata system—and thus, indirectly lead to Majima’s people getting their hands on the names and faces of the Lycorii he’s been hunting down—was in fact Walnut, AKA our very own Kurumi. This is basically treated like a serious but ultimately goofy mistake on her part by most of the cast, which is as odd as it sounds. The only resulting consequence being her offering Takina a tearful apology and promising to help them see the case through to the end. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse whenever I bring this up, but this show’s oddly undercooked ideological framework really just lends a weird air to developments like this, and a few other “gags” throughout the episode. It’s the show’s most serious writing-side weakness, but admittedly, Kurumi committing a serious crime being treated as an Uh-Oh Whoopsie is actually kind of funny.

This is also the presumable inspiration for episode 6’s midcards, which I will not otherwise get a chance to include here, and which really remind me of that “girl being homoerotically bullied” meme that used to go around tumblr.

Do you think someone on the staff just made this as fanart, originally? I do wonder.

We close with Takina finally beating Chisato at roshambo, with her residence at Chisato’s place on the line, although not before the latter gets her hopes up.

….And, elsewhere, with Majima swearing vengeance against this “interesting” Lycoris he’s met, thrilled that he’s found someone who can “strike a balance with him.”

Which brings us to episode 7.

Episode 7 is not only much stronger than the comparatively weak 5 and 6, it’s probably the best episode of Lycoris Recoil so far, despite forgoing one of the series’ usual strengths. (That is to say; there aren’t really any cool extended action scenes in it.)

Part of this is down to a simple shift in focus; I haven’t made a secret of the fact that I’m a bit down on Lycoris Recoil‘s worldbuilding and the assumptions that it uses as foundations. That’s still true, but this episode foregrounds a more interesting and more directly interpersonal series of conflicts that makes that a fair bit less relevant. You can think of this as the show “zooming in”, if you’d like.

Our plots here are twofold; one follows Majima and manages to make him a fair shake more interesting than he’s been since his introduction, and the other follows Chisato, who, via an unintentionally sneaked look at a phone, manages to learn more about herself and the operation that saved her life than she probably wanted to.

Majima’s plot is the more straightforward of the two, so we’ll knock that out first; he spends much of this episode running around on Roboto’s orders. All to advance some grandiose plan he has to encounter Chisato again, who he has quickly developed a dangerous obsession with. We also learn, somewhat surprisingly, that Majima was present at the much-discussed Radio Tower Incident, and in fact claims credit for “breaking” the tower in the first place. What this might mean is still unclear, but he did meet a certain deadly, familiar-looking Lycoris back then, which immediately adds a layer of the engagingly personal to his fixation on Chisato.

On the other hand, maybe this is just The Flatwoods Monster wearing a schoolgirl uniform.

His half of the episode ends with him and his band of thugs shooting up a police station, and attaching a bugged USB stick from Roboto to one of their computers. (Which is presumably somehow connected to the Radiata, to be honest this is the episode’s only plot point that I’m still a little unclear on.)

Chisato, meanwhile, happens to glance at her boss Mika’s phone one day at the cafe’. One can see why the message would catch her interest.

As much as what follows is about Chisato, it’s also about Mika. I haven’t really talked a lot about Mika in these columns, but he’s actually probably my favorite member of the adult cast. For one thing, cast diversity has badly backslid in anime over the past 20 years, so it is just nice to have a Black character who is a normal part of the narrative instead of some weird stereotype. But more than that, he’s an interesting mentor figure in his own right, past episodes have alluded to a checked past with the DA, gesturing toward the notion that Mika is not entirely the kindly man he seems.

This episode does not pull any kind of secret villain reveal, but it does confirm that, yeah, the guy used to work in the truly unpleasant part of the already-unpleasant secret government agency. Namely, because one of his buddies was Shinji Yoshimatsu. The mysterious head of the Alan Institute who I’ve accidentally previously only been referring to by his pseudonyms, I think. Anyway! That is the guy that he meets up with at Bar Forbidden, the amusingly named members-only lounge mentioned in the text message.

Initially, some of the cast (especially Takina) think that it’s possible that he might be meeting up with the commander, assuming it’s a strictly business affair. They find out the actual truth of things once they infiltrate Forbidden in, I’ll say, a very Chisato way.

Where in the world is Chisato Sandiego?

As they find out, Yoshimatsu and Mika go way back. On the one hand, we get pretty explicit confirmation that they used to be more than just friends. (Quoth Chisato, who sounds like she’s speaking from experience; “love comes in many forms.”) And Yoshimatsu attempts to psych-out Mika in an elevator on his way out. Both by acting all domineering and then by pulling back and explaining the reasons for his actions.

He, as we already more or less knew, was the one who funded her operation after the Radio Tower Incident, and did so because of Chisato’s natural talents. Those talents go unnamed here, but it doesn’t take a genius to infer that he’s referring to her skill as an assassin. Skill she hasn’t really put to use since returning to work as a Lycoris and switching only to non-lethal arms.

Here again we do kind of run smack into LycoReco’s fundamental writing issues. Lycoris Recoil seems to think switching to non-lethal ammo is a much bigger deal than it actually is. Yes, it’s great that the child soldier isn’t wantonly killing people (anymore), but she’s still a child soldier. An unsolved problem remains.

Or does it?

The series has not been shy about portraying Yoshimatsu as a villain. This is the first episode we get that really humanizes him at all, and what we learn is hardly flattering. Chisato confronts Mika and Yoshimatsu, although unfailingly politely. She learns about why she was saved, and even though she does not show it in any way but the most subtle, it’s very clear that this bothers her on a deep level. And I imagine that with Majima setting plans in motion to cause full-on disasters to attract the attention of his favorite Lycoris, her commitment to the bare minimum baseline even of just not killing will be tested in the episodes to come.

While that is not the comprehensive breakdown of the toxic structures that put all this in place that many were hoping for from Lycoris, it is meaningful. In the episode’s closing moments, she hangs up her Alan Institute pendant inside her closet, implicitly locking that part of her identity away. She is clearly bothered by what she’s been told here, even if it’s not in her nature to make that obvious. Hopefully, the next time we see the pendant, she throws it out for good. (And Mika, certainly, feels like he’s failed Chisato in some way by letting her find out about this. I really do think the two have an endearing surrogate father / daughter sort of thing going on, and you really feel for him here.)

Making things worse is that Yoshimatsu tosses this comment toward Takina, possibly hinting at a future wedge between the two. (Even if not, Yoshimatsu is clearly trying to make one.)

The episode ends on a brilliant little match cut; Chisato hanging up her pendant with Majima idly dangling his in the air as he plots his next move. This is the most alive Lycoris Recoil has felt for a few weeks, and whatever happens next, it’s sure to be explosive.

Like what you’re reading? Consider following Magic Planet Anime to get notified when new articles go live. If you’d like to talk to other Magic Planet Anime readers, consider joining my Discord server! Also consider following me on Twitter and supporting me on Ko-Fi or Patreon. If you want to read more of my work, consider heading over to the Directory to browse by category.

All views expressed on Magic Planet Anime are solely my own opinions and conclusions and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of any other persons, groups, or organizations. All text, excepting direct quotations, is owned by Magic Planet Anime. Do not duplicate without permission. All images are owned by their original copyright holders.

Let’s Watch RWBY: ICE QUEENDOM Episode 6

Let’s Watch is a weekly recap column where I follow an anime for the course of its entire runtime. Expect spoilers!

Does anyone else feel like this storyline is dragging just a bit?

Far be it from me to say that the show is spending too much time on the titular Ice Queendom arc, it’s just that it’s taken a bit of an odd direction, and I’m not sure what to think.

“En garde, I’ll let you try my Wu Tang style.”

Before we get into the writing side of things though, an administrative note and some production observations. For the former; your girl is really sick with something that is hopefully not COVID-19. So if my commentary is a little harder to follow even than usual, I apologize.

As for the production; Ice Queendom has never been a particularly consistent-looking show. Even in the case of the premiere, one of the episodes (the third) looked much better than the other two. Given the spellbinding episode 4 I held out some hope that things might even out a bit, but two episodes later and we’re kind of back to where we started on this front. Some cuts look really good, but there’s a general sense that no one is really steering the ship. It’s not just things like very obvious CGI rigs being used for mid-distance shots (and even the occasional closer-to-the-camera cut), it’s a general lack of consistency. Some cuts look like they haven’t really been entirely finished, and this episode’s directing wanders down the weird cul-de-sac of manga-style panel cut-ins, a quirk that’s appeared throughout the series but is used to the point of abuse here, sometimes to disguise the fact that not much is really going on in a given scene.

Why do I feel like I’m watching an episode of The Pink Panther all the sudden.

There are also a few bizarre cases of directorial wonkiness straight out of Bakemonogatari, such as a scene where Yang and Blake talk over the phone while the latter evades monsters, but the latter’s side of the conversation is rendered entirely by cutting to a still image of her phone and replacing whatever dialogue might’ve been said with a bitcrushed electronic shriek. This really seems like it’s foreshadowing something, but nothing comes of it this episode. Interesting visually? Absolutely, but baffling in-context.

All this said, I still wouldn’t actually say the show looks bad. Occasional parts of it do, certainly, but that’s really the overall thing; it’s super uneven. (Maybe I’m just being nice because compared to the show that this one replaced in my weeklies, Ice Queendom might as well be Night on The Galactic Railroad.)

The writing, similarly, falls back into a much choppier mode after a few episodes of mostly holding it together. The episode’s actual plot is solid enough; Team RWBY attempt to defeat the Night Grimm lurking within Weiss’ subconscious and fail, getting expelled from her head yet again in the process. We see some good stuff along the way; like the very ship bait-y way that Weiss refers to Ruby as being “precious” to her, a couple solid (if, again, inconsistent) fights, some cool locales (including a floating snake statue wrapped into an infinity symbol that is only on-screen for a criminally short few minutes), and the return of the chibi doll gadgets from episode 4.

But there’s a strange thing here where the character interactions seem to imply a much greater depth to these relationships than what we’ve actually been shown. How long have Team RWBY actually known each other in this continuity? A few days at most? Interesting tidbits like Weiss possibly resenting / respecting / something? Blake for her dream-self’s habit of sneaking into the inner castle of Winter City only to escape again really seem like they’re playing off of some long-simmering tension….but we saw these characters meet, and it seemed fairly obvious to me that Weiss doesn’t like Blake because she has some bigoted attitudes that she’s not dealing with very well. (The series offers a not-entirely-convincing alternative explanation. We’ll get to that.) So, this entire notion just comes across as strange. Much like the odder visual moments, these scenes are interesting in isolation but lack any apparent further meaning in their actual context. It’s a little hard to buy that Weiss’ problems with Blake are somehow solely personal when she’s dressed like that.

More promising are the relationships centered around Ruby, who is by this point seriously doubting her capabilities as a leader and questioning if she’s really a good fit for the position at all. An interesting dynamic is brought to the fore here where Yang actively tries to flatter Ruby’s leadership in order to improve her mood, but it doesn’t really seem to be working and I suspect that Ruby is cognizant of her older sister’s obvious ulterior motive in, you know, seeing her baby sister happy.

The episode’s first half caps with a fight against “Negative” Weiss (that’s the Weiss within the dream, you see), who is actually defending the Nightmare Grimm hidden within the center of her own mind, either very much corrupted by it or acting on her own impulses in ways that aren’t immediately apparent. (Possibly her desire to appease her father and live up to the family name, or the watchful eye of her “brother,” who has continued to fly around as a bat throughout these episodes.)

In any case, Ruby gets a rather nasty cut from some of the Grimm’s thorned vines shortly after being explicitly warned about that exact thing. That will probably come back around later, if I had to guess. So, you know, keep an eye on it.

Team RWBY lose the fight, and are again expelled back to the real world. Exorcist-witch-coolest character in this entire franchise-sage Shion tells the girls that they’ll need to make their third try count; if they fail again, Weiss probably won’t make it. But, there’s some time before Shion can send them back in, so they should formulate a plan. Instead, they each split off on their own and talk with other characters. The second half of the episode thus centers around Team RWBY’s respective conversations with a bunch of minor characters who are mostly not worth caring much about.

The exception here is Yang’s chat with the robotic Penny (I don’t think we’ve been explicitly told that she’s an android or something, but it’s pretty obvious), whose talk about dreams as “maintenance” gives Yang the bright idea to perhaps try actually changing Weiss’ dream itself.

I like Penny. She’s very round.

Later, we learn this is actually a viable plan, although Weiss herself will have to perceive the changes as an improvement.

Ruby gets the short end of the stick in terms of talking to actually interesting characters, since she ends up sitting with Team JNPR from episode 3, whose leader (I think?) Jaune is the guy who was first infected by the Nightmare Grimm in the first place. The entire team is there, including Nora, who has a hammer, and Whoever This Guy Is.

No, seriously, who is this? Was he even in any prior episodes? I don’t remember him.

But! Ruby tells them that they—or at least, their dream counterparts—are present in Weiss’ dream as well, which gives Team JNPR the idea of perhaps tagging along. Again, this turns out to be viable. So hey, Team RWBY is two for two.

And then there’s Blake.

Blake meets up with her friend Sun (Tomoaki Maeno), the blonde Faunus first introduced in episode 3. Their little talk…rubs me the wrong way. Throughout their back and forth, Blake confesses that she wants to help Weiss change for the better (admirable enough), and then compares Weiss’ own dislike of her to the motives of the still-active section of White Fang, which makes no sense whatsoever. Even setting aside the borderline-repulsive implications there about what that may be trying to say (or inadvertantly be saying) about real-world political situations, on just a very basic level, one person’s prejudice is not comparable to the goals of a liberationist organization, which is what White Fang seems to be. Like, I almost feel like I’m way off in the weeds by even saying this, only because it’s so obvious; those fundamentally aren’t the same thing! They’re not even similar! It makes no sense to compare them! Ice Queendom of course just carries on like this is all a given, and Blake’s part of the episode’s back half ends with her redoubling her efforts to try to “change” Weiss. Sure, whatever. I like Blake as a character on a basic nuts-and-bolts level; she’s a stoic “cool girl” with raven hair and a pair of kitty ears, that’s hard to fuck up, but I really wish Ice Queendom would hand her a plot that’s not this.

I feel a little bad harping on this point so hard, especially because I know secondhand that this is a writing weakness inherited from the original RWBY rather than something that this series’ writers came up with. But still! It’s kind of a wild thing to do, right? There’s “having an inherited problematic background element in your show” and there’s “actively drawing attention to it.” This is the latter, and I really hope that the show either finds some way out of this little fox’s den it’s written itself into or it just stops trying to deal with this entirely. Obviously, the former would be better, but the latter would be decent compensation. To be fair; there is a glimmer of hope for the Blake situation specifically; Sun points out that Blake might be thinking about this the wrong way. The fact that Dream-Blake (who we don’t see directly, since our Blake is taking her place within the dream) seems to be such a thorn in Dream-Weiss’ side implies that Weiss thinks about Blake a fair bit. He puts forward that perhaps she’s just frustrated that she can’t understand Blake very well, implying that it may be because Blake isn’t someone Weiss understands—or even thinks she understands—and is thus beyond Weiss’ “control.” This has some weird implications all on its own, but simply as a relationship between two characters it makes way more sense than the stab at a political angle.

His name is Sun as in Sun Wukong, by the way. Get it, because he’s got a monkey’s tail? Ahaha. Worldbuilding!

In fact, it rather makes me wish that said angle weren’t present at all, because if it weren’t, Blake and Weiss’ cat-and-mouse relationship would actually be quite strongly written. As it stands; it’s iffy, but perhaps it’ll pick up, the series is only half over, after all.

As for the episode itself; it ends with Team RWBY headed back into the dream. Most likely with Team JNPR shortly following, but we don’t actually see them enter it here, as the credits roll before that can happen.

I worry I’m giving off the impression that I dislike this show. There’s a trap you can pretty easily fall into as a critic where you end up just listing everything you dislike about something, even the things you genuinely quite enjoy. I wouldn’t call Ice Queendom an anime-of-the-year contender or anything, but it’s a solid series on a moment-to-moment level, and it’s consistently entertaining. You can get away with a lot if you manage to just work as a fun piece of cheesy action, and Ice Queendom is pretty good at that.

To six more weeks thereof, or perhaps even more.

Like what you’re reading? Consider following Magic Planet Anime to get notified when new articles go live. If you’d like to talk to other Magic Planet Anime readers, consider joining my Discord server! Also consider following me on Twitter and supporting me on Ko-Fi or Patreon. If you want to read more of my work, consider heading over to the Directory to browse by category.

All views expressed on Magic Planet Anime are solely my own opinions and conclusions and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of any other persons, groups, or organizations. All text, excepting direct quotations, is owned by Magic Planet Anime. Do not duplicate without permission. All images are owned by their original copyright holders.

Let’s Watch CALL OF THE NIGHT Episode 5 – Well, That’s a Problem

Let’s Watch is a weekly recap column where I follow an anime for the course of its entire runtime. Expect spoilers!

In its fifth episode, Call of The Night refocuses on its first thought as a creative work. Namely, that Ko is down absolutely awful for Nazuna, and is maybe a slight bit in denial about it. Just a smidgen. The series recenters the two’s dynamic here, as after several episodes of also palling around with Akira, she’s entirely absent from this one. Thus, it’s just Nazuna and Ko.

The episode actually opens in Nazuna’s apartment, where we learn that the vampire version of waking up in the middle of the night is waking up in the middle of the afternoon. (This is where the show puts its allotted few scant minutes of actual daylight per episode. I have noticed that in restricting its usage of normal sunlight so heavily, Call of The Night basically inverts the usual day/night dynamic of most anime of this sort. It’s a neat trick.) Here, she does things like miss a FedEx delivery, paly a video game she’s not really that invested in, and other such Normal Things for people who are teenagers or young adults to get up to.

She seems a bit lonely, underneath that teasing vampire facade, but perhaps I’m just projecting a touch. Most importantly, she visits a bath house, and from there the episode’s plot springs.

You see, she’s only in the bathhouse for a little while when she gets a beep from Ko. As such, she leaves in a hurry, and when she meets Ko, her hair is all down and soft-looking.

This causes Ko to become self-conscious of the fact that, oh yeah, this pretty lady who sucks his blood every night is attractive, and he kind of falls down the stairs of being awkward and being aware that you’re awkward but not really being able to do anything about it for the remainder of the episode. When Nazuna sinks her fangs into him, perhaps finding his squirming cute, she actually bites him so hard that he cries out in….well, I’ll leave cries out in what up to you, dear readers. Suffice it to say, this is the hardest that the series has yet leaned into the whole “bloodsucking as sex” metaphor.

Sometimes I feel obligated to try to come up with clever captions for these pictures, but I really don’t know how I’d make this more of a sex joke than it already is.

Would you believe the two end up at a love hotel by accident? Yes, just like that episode of My Dress-Up Darling from earlier this year, and I’m sure I’m neither the first nor last person who will compare the two. But while I found that episode to be one of MDUD’s weaker forays, this episode—and this part of it, in particular—is surprisingly nuanced. More or less; Ko is definitely attracted to Nazuna, he knows that, and she knows that. Apparently, drinking someone’s blood lets a vampire get a sense of their thoughts and feelings via taste. This is a weird and cool bit of worldbuilding tossed in here, perhaps as a metaphor for Nazuna’s being generally more experienced than Ko is.

More to the point; Ko feels bad about his attraction, because he does genuinely consider Nazuna a friend, and those feelings rest uneasily together in his mind; he feels like he’s, to quote the subtrack directly, doing something “immoral.” Nazuna, interestingly, waves the entire notion off. Be immoral, she says. That is what nighttime is for, after all. The only thing she cautions him against is “being lazy about [his] emotions.” Feel anything, but feel honestly.

It’s hard to know if the show herself will still be backing her up there in six weeks, but it certainly is for now. Later on, the topic of conversation turns toward other people whose blood Nazuna has sucked, and Ko, perhaps predictably, gets a bit jealous. (She tells him, in an apparent attempt to make him less so, that she also sucks women’s blood. One might call her bi-neck-sual, if they had a love of awful puns, and I very much do.)

Nazuna also reveals, upon taking Ko back to her apartment, that her job is actually how she meets most of the people whose blood she sucks. What is her job? Well, she is a “professional cuddler.”

Yeah, really. I did not know this was a thing either. Maybe it isn’t! Who knows?

What that seems to entail is a kind of non-sexual prostitution where she wears a slightly revealing nurse getup and gives people massages or the like while lying down with them but, pointedly, without actually doing anything beyond that. Frankly, I am a little torn here. Part of me thinks this is a bit of a cop-out. There isn’t anything wrong or immoral about sex work and I feel like that might’ve made more sense given the episode’s whole theme. On the other hand, it might make Ko and Nazuna’s relationship seem even dicier than it already is, so maybe it’s fine that they didn’t go that route. Who can say?

Nazuna proves herself to be pretty knowledgeable about massage work. (Watching this part of the episode honestly kind of made me want one myself. I do have pretty stiff shoulders.) She’s also, as we’ve long known, very adept at relaxing Ko, and just when she’s about to sink her teeth into him yet again, her door bell rings, and the episode’s denouement makes an abrupt swerve into cringe comedy.

The person at the door is one of her regular customers, and Nazuna is—or at least claims to be—far too tired from massaging Ko to actually help her out. So, Ko will have to do it in her place, using the knowledge Nazuna’s imparted to him.

Cue the credits!

Yes, on that particularly odd cliffhanger, today’s episode ends, promising next week’s will be perhaps a bit heavier on the wacky hijinks side. (Although honestly, who knows? This show is a bit hard to predict.) Overall, I like this episode. I know some folks find Nazuna and Ko’s relationship rather unpleasant, but for my part, I think the show manages a decent job of selling it as being good for both of them. This episode serves as a sort of back to basics, while also progressing that relationship along. The night keeps calling, why would Ko stop answering?

Like what you’re reading? Consider following Magic Planet Anime to get notified when new articles go live. If you’d like to talk to other Magic Planet Anime readers, consider joining my Discord server! Also consider following me on Twitter and supporting me on Ko-Fi or Patreon. If you want to read more of my work, consider heading over to the Directory to browse by category.

All views expressed on Magic Planet Anime are solely my own opinions and conclusions and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of any other persons, groups, or organizations. All text, excepting direct quotations, is owned by Magic Planet Anime. Do not duplicate without permission. All images are owned by their original copyright holders.

Let’s Watch RWBY: ICE QUEENDOM Episode 5 – Awaken in a Dream

Let’s Watch is a weekly recap column where I follow an anime for the course of its entire runtime. Expect spoilers!

The show about a character associated with the color red is dead! Long live the show about a character associated with the color red.

Yes, in stark defiance of all logic and frankly even my own personal preferences, I have officially made the jump. I am going to be covering RWBY: Ice Quendom from this point forward instead of Lucifer and The Biscuit Hammer, which, frankly, I just don’t want to think about that anime anymore.

So, I won’t! By more or less coincidence, I covered the surprisingly great episode 4 of this very show just the other day here on MPA. As such, anyone who’s read that and my impressions article on the premiere is totally up to speed. Let’s get into it without any further delays.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this episode isn’t quite as visually consistent as last week’s. What is surprising though, at least to me, is that it also doesn’t mark the end of the whole “Weiss’ Nightmare” arc, indicating to me that Ice Queendom is willing to invest a fairly significant amount of time into this story. (Even if it ends next week, that’s still three episodes; as many as the combined premiere!) Even with the visual wonkiness, which reaches a nadir with a botched scene transition about 11 minutes in, in mind this remains an interesting arc, and I’m curious to see how it eventually ends.

Something we don’t get here is the teased Ruby / Weiss fight from the end of the last episode. In a bit of a bait-and-switch, Shion actually pulls Ruby out of the dream before much else can happen. Team RWBY regroups in the real world, spending the first 7-ish minutes of the episode planning their next move.

Pictured: Regrouping (most of image), Weiss looking hilariously dead (top left of image).

Notably, when Ruby notes that it really seems like Weiss genuinely doesn’t like her, her teachers (including Shion!) are rather dismissive of the notion, chalking it up to interference from the Nightmare Grimm. I do wonder who’s right here, or if it’s a 50/50 sort of thing. We see evidence for both ideas throughout the episode. (Most shows would take the easy way out by revealing Weiss to be a good person “deep down” all along and thus sidestep having to thoroughly unpack the rest of her emotional baggage in the real world, time will tell if Ice Queendom is “most shows” or not.) We also learn, on an unrelated note, that diving into a dream world requires you to have a cute little mummy doll made of you.

I was going to crack a joke about how these seem like real merch, but I think they literally might be? I think one of my younger brothers owns a Blake one. I may be misremembering.

For the second dive into Weiss’ dream, all three members of Team RWBY tag along. The only other thing of note that occurs in the waking world is the folks from Team JNPR (still hate that name, by the way) checking up on her. Jaun makes a….weird comment, before our heroines set off.

Hey bud? What the hell are you talking about?

In the dream, Yang and Blake find that unlike Ruby, Weiss’ subconscious has mostly made them stronger. Blake’s weapon has been reconfigured into some wild grappling hook thing (and she’s been given a cute redesign, too), and Yang is so strong that she can knock trees flat in a single punch. Ruby laments getting the short end of the stick, it’s a fun little scene that also seems to betray who among the team Weiss has a kind of begrudging respect-of-strength for.

The dreamworld is as bizarre and goofy-dystopian as ever. With the notable exception of the grim, repeated White Fang attacks on the ice trains (which seem to happen basically constantly and are definitely indicative of some deep-held, fucked-up stuff on Weiss’ part).

A more fun thing about this kind of setting is that it invites you to try to puzzle out every little detail and its significance. Why does Weiss’ subconscious feature, for instance, storefronts filled with road signs? Why is there a musical number at about the 13-minute mark, with notably wonky and off-model animation, where a caged Pyrrha sings about how lonely she is? (Okay, that one’s pretty easy to figure out, but still, what the heck?) What of the strange shadow people that toss themselves into a frozen fountain?

And what, also, of her mysterious advisor, a living candleflame that seems to constantly dangle a bizarre carrot on a string in the form of a place of “true rest” in front of her face? Is this character part of Weiss’ own mind, the Nightmare’s influence made manifest, or is there not even a meaningful distinction anymore? What is pretty obvious is that the “resting place” being a frozen coffin is pretty damn ominous, as are the thorned vines that encircle Weiss almost any time she’s on screen.

Eventually, Ruby and Yang hear an announcement over a PA system. An announcement that they are “missing” and need to be recaptured. They actually allow themselves to be captured, and to be returned to the living prison where the “Sillies” are kept so they can’t cause any harm. (Specifically, the door to the jail is alive. His name is Sleepy Klein. This is delightfully weird.)

Blake, meanwhile, notes that Weiss’ announcement doesn’t mention her at all, and wonders if there’s just not any version of her in the dream at all, although Weiss mentioning a “woman in black” to her dream advisors would seem to indicate otherwise.

Ruby and Yang’s “prison” is a lot more like their dorm room than anything, and it’s filled with things Weiss likes. Some of these inclusions are rather telling.

In it, the two find a mysterious “artifact” (a red chess knight), which Shion helpfully informs them could possibly help them reach farther into Weiss’ mind and wake her up. Blake finds one too, while infiltrating the inner fortress of Winter City in a more conventional fashion. She breaks Ruby and Yang out of their prison, but Yang stays behind so that Sleepy Klein won’t get suspicious.

The episode then ends much like last week’s; after Blake and Ruby discover a new, strange part of the palace—a vast, spacious hallway lit by purple lanterns—Weiss discovers and confronts them, again an obvious setup for a fight next week. This time, though, she seems to have much more of an issue with Blake being there than Ruby, because her final comment in this episode is pretty straightforward about how she, or at least this particular part of her, actually feels about the ‘B’ of Team RWBY.

And on that note of extremely blunt bigotry, we cut directly to the credits!

It’s a little hard to know how to take all this. Weiss is, pretty obviously, a genuinely prejudiced person, and it’s not like it’s not worth exploring how she deals with that and, presumably, eventually rids herself of those notions. But even if “hatred of fantasy beast people = racism” wasn’t already a very difficult, if not impossible, metaphor to make work well, the extremely abstract approach taken here—with the dream world and all—might make it even harder.

What’s worse is that this arc, for all it does do right, is definitely going out of its way to paint Weiss as a victim, rather than as a perpetrator. The simple fact of the matter is that she is of course both. Being one does not excuse the other. (Note also how little of this arc has actually been about Blake so far, even though she’s the one who Weiss has this irrational bias against.) Some part of her does seem to recognize that what she’s doing is wrong, but her desire to “be worthy of the Schnee name” is overriding it, and she’s hurting people in the process. I would really like to see her have to actually deal with that and try to actively make amends somehow.

Of course, if Ice Queendom does simply take the easy way out and play the “Weiss was actually secretly a good person the entire time” card without any further development of the character, that will be disappointing. Strangely enough though, the fact that I’m even invested enough that I could eventually be disappointed is still a huge improvement over the premiere.

I think breaking down the places where the cracks show in the series’ writing is just the responsible thing to do, and it does legitimately bother me to see something trotting out this particular bit of hackery in 2022 (not that it’s ever really gone away. See Bright, infamously and somewhat recently), but on a moment-to-moment level, Ice Queendom is actually working a lot better now than it was during the premiere. (Which, to be fair, handled the Faunus stuff even worse, so maybe there’s a correlation there.) There is certainly more than enough room for Ice Queendom to go up from here, and I really hope it does. As it stands, this has gone from, frankly, a pretty bad show, to a solidly decent one. I would really love to see it get even better.

Like what you’re reading? Consider following Magic Planet Anime to get notified when new articles go live. If you’d like to talk to other Magic Planet Anime readers, consider joining my Discord server! Also consider following me on Twitter and supporting me on Ko-Fi or Patreon. If you want to read more of my work, consider heading over to the Directory to browse by category.

All views expressed on Magic Planet Anime are solely my own opinions and conclusions and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of any other persons, groups, or organizations. All text, excepting direct quotations, is owned by Magic Planet Anime. Do not duplicate without permission. All images are owned by their original copyright holders.

Let’s Watch LYCORIS RECOIL Episode 5 – So Far, So Good

Let’s Watch is a weekly recap column where I follow an anime for the course of its entire runtime. Expect spoilers!

I didn’t cover Lycoris Recoil last week, but thankfully, the fourth episode was fairly minor. Mostly, it was a character-building exercise; Chisato and Takina being cute together at an aquarium and things like that. There was one major actual plot development though; the introduction of a new villain, an explosion-obsessed Joker-y type who blew up a train, killing a bunch of Lycorii in the process. Also introduced (or re-introduced? I don’t recall) were a pair of disgruntled police detectives, frustrated at being kept out of what actually happened in the subway. They turn up again here too, though only briefly.

This week’s episode is, in a phrase, a bit of a series low point. It’s not bad, but there are moments here that raise concerns about where all this might be going. To start with a fairly minor detail (a sin, I know), let’s talk about those detectives. They have no idea about a solid 90% of what goes on in Lycoris Recoil. The show portrays both as well-meaning bumblers, who are in over their head by trying to look into this conspiracy stuff at all. But at the same time, it draws a very sharp distinction between them and, say, the DA. These ordinary cops are perhaps, in Lycoris Recoil‘s opinion, the good ones. It’s the shadowy secret agents who control the government that are the bad guys.

To put it bluntly, this is a problem. Not because it’s Bad Politics™, but because it’s just not much of a notion at all. Even if you think a strong police force is a good thing, a statement I very much disagree with, you would, I think, be forced to concede that “cops should be good” is not much of a stance on anything. It’s not so much a point of view as a statement of the trivially obvious. “Cops are good, unlike the shadow cabal that controls the government” is full-on conspiracy theorist shit that has nothing to do with reality, although whether LycoReco actually believes that or is unintentionally saying such as a byproduct of its genre (it would not be the first show, or even the first anime this year, to do this) is not yet clear.

Now to be very fair to LycoReco, maybe that’s not where this is going. There is some palpable dramatic irony to Abe saying, upon having a brief run-in with Chisato, that it “doesn’t matter what’s being covered up” as long as “kids like [her] can live at ease.” Obviously, Chisato does not live at ease, specifically because she both is one of the things being covered up and is actively helping out with the covering. It’s totally possible the detectives are just meant to be a bit of comedic relief. And if so, that’s fine, and I’m just underestimating the show here. But on the other hand, I have very much gone broke on assuming anime were trying to something more involved than they actually were before. So really, who knows?

The main plot of the episode doesn’t really help elucidate matters, because this is, if not the weakest plot so far, definitely the oddest.

As is usual for LycoReco, things start out simple and then get very complicated. Initially, we’re led to believe that the client-of-the-week for this episode, a Mr. Matsushita (Teruo Seki), simply wants to tour his homeland of Japan one last time before he passes away. You see, Matsushita has been living abroad for the past 20 years because an assassin murdered his wife and daughter, and has been trying to finish the job for some time. He’s also severely physically disabled, is kept both alive and mobile by a suite of mechanical devices that are integrated into his wheelchair, including a speech synthesizer and a pair of hi-tech goggles that are evidently connected to the internet. (To be honest something about this depiction strikes me as vaguely offensive? But I’m not physically disabled, so I will pass the question of if that’s so to people who are.) Early in the episode, Chisato bonds with him over the fact that she also relies on a machine to stay alive, an entirely artificial heart (not a pacemaker, as she’s quick to correct). Naturally, this is supplied by the mysterious Alan Institute, who seem to have their hands in just about everything that goes on in Lycoris Recoil.

This conversation also establishes that however her artificial heart works, it doesn’t actually beat. So no, Chisato’s kokoro does not, in fact, go doki-doki.

Throughout most of the episode, Chisato and Takina—mostly the former—play tour guide. These scenes are pretty cute, although I point out with some trepidation that there are bits that look noticeably rougher than LycoReco has so far, which is a touch worrying. (There’s also a lot of leaning on various characters’ mid-distance models, which is less worrying, but is a bit funny.)

Of course, Lycoris Recoil is not a show about taking calm riverboat cruises and nice visits to local temples, even if it does a pretty good job of dressing up as one here.

And before we get to why it’s not that, I’d also be remiss to not mention that Takina gets very curious about Chisato’s heart during the aforementioned cruise, which leads to a Moment.

But enough of that. Did you guess that the assassin who tried to off Mr. Matsushita 20 years ago would show up as this episode’s primary antagonist? If you did, come collect your prize, because you were correct. “Silent” Jin is an interesting but decidedly minor character—true to the name, he only speaks a few words here, all in the last minute or two of the episode—a former colleague of Mika’s and consummate professional who is actually able to get the drop on the Lycorii. Not that it saves him from eventually getting his ass handed to him when Chisato is able to confront him directly. The roughness of the rest of the episode doesn’t apply as much to the action sequences, and there are a couple pretty great moments, although nothing that tops the whole “bullet dodge shuffle” bit in episode 2.

It’s been a great week for stills depicting rumpled skirts here on Magic Planet Anime.

But after they catch Jin, Chisato and Takina learn that, oh dear, Mr. Matsushita’s actual request is that Chisato—specifically Chisato—kill him. For revenge reasons, of course.

Chisato, being something of a pacifist-by-technicality, objects to this, but before anyone can really get their point of view spelled out in full, Matsushita’s life support is remotely deactivated. Do you feel bad for him yet? Well, don’t. There is no Mr. Matsushita, and this episode’s entire premise rests on a massive lie. As the folks at the cafe eventually discover—and we learn along with them—the man actually in the wheelchair was a helpless, lifelong addict who was, apparently, basically just straight-up kidnapped. Everything else; the voice coming out of the synthesizer, the actual movement of the wheelchair, etc., was done remotely. The entire point, all along, was getting Chisato to kill a guy.

Which of course then brings us into the question of who did all this and why. A few stray statements made by “Mr. Matsushita” as he’s trying to get Chisato to off Jin, coupled with something that was said last week, may clear things up. Specifically, it seems that the enigmatic Mr. Alan (not to be confused with that Youtube fellow who thought Turning Red should mention 9/11), who was probably the person who gave Chisato her new heart in the first place, thinks Chisato is a—the show’s words here—“genius of killing.” The Alan Institute, as the show’s gone over more than once, helps out extraordinary individuals in difficult situations. Perhaps Mr. Alan thinks that Chisato is the Picasso of murder and is trying to push her into taking up her craft again.

There are a lot of places Lycoris Recoil could take this. We don’t know enough about Alan to make strong statements on what (if anything) he’s supposed to specifically represent, yet. The fact that he’s a billionaire and grants aid to people only to then take that to mean that they owe him their entire life certainly can be read a very specific way. But it also wouldn’t be at all hard for Lycoris Recoil to back off of that point of view entirely. (It would not be the first work of fiction to fail to properly analyze the underlying problems of an evil billionaire.) It still feels too early to call, even as we approach the show’s halfway mark.

The episode ends with two very different scenes, and I think that the contrast between them can serve as a useful metaphor for the crossroads which Lycoris Recoil currently stands at.

One is the worst scene in the entire show so far; a nameless Lycoris is assassinated in the dumbest fashion imaginable by the Joker-y terrorist I mentioned at the top of this article. He runs her over with a car and then has a bunch of anonymous goons riddle her with bullets in the middle of a random nighttime street. It’s comically abrupt, comes out of nowhere, and seems to serve no real purpose but shock value. (It’s also easily the ugliest scene of LycoReco so far, which doesn’t help.)

The other, which happens immediately after, takes place back at the cafe. Takina, now alone with Chisato, rests her head on her chest, fascinated by her lack of an audible heartbeat. (Whether she has ulterior motives, well, that’s a matter of interpretation.) Takina justifies her doing this by saying that no one else is around, and Chisato raises no further objections. The two simply lie there, enjoying each other’s company, and Chisato remarks that her quiet artificial ticker is “cool.” On that very much true statement, the episode comes to a low-key close.

Like what you’re reading? Consider following Magic Planet Anime to get notified when new articles go live. If you’d like to talk to other Magic Planet Anime readers, consider joining my Discord server! Also consider following me on Twitter and supporting me on Ko-Fi or Patreon. If you want to read more of my work, consider heading over to the Directory to browse by category.

All views expressed on Magic Planet Anime are solely my own opinions and conclusions and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of any other persons, groups, or organizations. All text, excepting direct quotations, is owned by Magic Planet Anime. Do not duplicate without permission. All images are owned by their original copyright holders.


Let’s Watch is a weekly recap column where I follow an anime for the course of its entire runtime. Expect spoilers! But you really shouldn’t care in this case. Seriously, don’t watch this.


Look, I’ll give it this much. In a way, the sheer lack of ambition in the Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer anime is almost comforting. Over the past week, I have been dealing with quite a lot of things, most of them relating to my mental health and mostly too complicated to go into here. And there is something strangely reassuring about the fact that, no matter what happens to me, the Biscuit Hammer anime will continue to run for its allotted cours, and it will continue to be totally superfluous the entire time, a general ball of Stay-Puft cotton that will ultimately mean very little to anyone. I could move to another city, I could buy a house, I could get isekai’d, I could become a magical girl in a far-distant fantasy kingdom. I could buy a house in that fantasy kingdom. I could get married to an elf woman and raise four kids in a cottage as some kind of ultimate lesbian power fantasy. None of it would matter; the Biscuit Hammer anime would still be here, and it would still be terrible, the kind of thing that is instantly agreed upon by fans of the source material to “not count” the moment it ends, inducted into those rarified halls of nonexistence next to the Umineko anime and whatever kids meme about “not having an anime” these days. There is, admittedly, a kind of strength in that sort of consistency. It’s an absolutely worthless kind of strength, but, hey, it’s something.

“God’s in her heaven….

On the other hand, its equally-consistent, crushing badness is also just depressing, because it renders actually watching the series an actively draining experience. I didn’t cover last week’s episode, which gave us the end of Yuuhi’s emotional arc with his grandfather, where he both refuses to forgive the man yet wishes for Neu to cure his illness (something that mostly survived intact from the manga), Yuuhi defeating his first golem (laughably bad, given how awful the anime uniformly looks), and the introduction of another main character, Hangetsu Shinonome (Shuuhei Iwase), a goofy self-styled “hero of justice” who appears to know more than he initially lets on (he was pretty obnoxious at this point in the manga, and it’s even worse here). Most of the episode was as ramshackle as anything else so far. Samidare, as seen in Yuuhi’s dream, pulling Yuuhi into a kiss is at least still kind of cute.

And that sentence, right up there, is the last unambiguously positive thing I am ever going to write about Biscuit Hammer on this blog.

This is your brain on Biscuit Hammer

Because other than that, the show still completely fails to sell anything more complex than “people standing in a room and talking,” and sometimes can’t even swing that much. This was true of episode 3. It is also true of episode 4. It will probably be true of every episode going forward. Have I yet mentioned that, because this thing going by BD listings, has the ball-shatteringly absurd temerity required to be this and be two cours long, we’re an eighth of the way through it? Simply by typing that, I feel like I’m trying to escape from a rabid monster in one of those nightmares where your feet feel really heavy and you can’t get proper traction on the floor. In this tortured analogy, the nightmare is Biscuit Hammer‘s deeply pointless, depressing, cynical existence. It is inside of you, just embrace it.

I have, and I have to confess that little of what you just read—and only slightly more of what you’re about to read—has much of anything to do with episode 4 in particular. But in my own defense; how possibly could it? With an anime production this soul-sucking, it manages to somehow sand down the manga’s many quirks and rough edges until the entire thing feels like a single slab of indistinguishable concrete. Frames, then seconds, then minutes tick by. Eventually, the episode ends, and we are closer to understanding nothing but the truest and deepest meaning of the word “tedium.” Biscuit Hammer is a final answer to the question posed in 2000’s Gladiator. No, we are not entertained. I am beginning to wonder if entertainment as a concept is even real.

Since it began, I have also asked myself repeatedly who the Biscuit Hammer anime is for, since it clearly isn’t for people who like anime. There is of course the obvious notion that it’s a cynical cash-grab, but even that makes little sense. This isn’t some huge smash hit we’re talking about here. Biscuit Hammer the manga is a cult classic even domestically, and it’s equally so abroad. Who, exactly, is being cheated out of their money by doing this? Perhaps Studio NAZ themselves, who have apparently subcontracted some or all of these episodes so far—to be honest I haven’t looked terribly hard for details, because who could possibly care?—including the fucking premiere. That’s probably why it looks like owl pellets pickled in fryer grease nine-tenths of the time.

It is clear by now that we have to start reaching for the really, really dramatic and hysterical words to describe this adaption; words like “butchery,” “desecration,” and “unwatchable piece of shit.” It is equally clear that it exists for no purpose beyond pleasing some nebulous cluster of bean counters. Episode 4 continues this pattern because this anime was made by people who want to hurt you. Lucifer and The Biscuit Hammer is trapped inside the content mill, and we along with it, as the mill is bleeding to death.

Even the one bright spot of the anime adaption, the one thing it could not totally snuff out, Samidare herself, a wildly compelling character, is mostly gone in this episode, because Samidare herself isn’t really in it. What do we get instead?

Oh boy.

I am so glad you asked, friend.

This, you see, is a comedy episode. It’s a ” ” “comedy” ” ” episode in that this is the one where the adaption does what it’s been doing since the premiere, taking the manga’s jokes—there, admittedly a weak point, but a necessary reprieve from the more intense moments—and stretches them out, grotesquely, like a serial killer binding a book in human skin. This episode is so dreary, so empty, so totally devoid of joy that the fact that it’s trying to be funny somehow makes the entire thing harrowing on an existential level.

You probably want me to actually, you know, recap the episode. But honestly? Why? What is worth covering here? Toward the end there is some of the talk about what it means to be an adult that would, eventually, form one of the manga’s main themes. But that’s a small portion of an episode that is mostly just the most flatlined shonen jokes you can possibly imagine trotted out like they’re somehow still fucking funny and executed in the driest, dullest, most visually depressing fashion possible. If there is a Hell for anime critics, it looks something like this episode; surreal and nightmarish in its mundanity, but not in a way that you could mistake for even a passing second for interesting. None of it is even remotely funny. Obviously it isn’t. You know what’s funny? @LyricalGarfield, a twitter bot that replaces Garfield dialogue with random song lyrics. That’s comedy. You want to have a good time? Go read that for 20 minutes, skip this show entirely, and thank me later.

Yes, you’re getting Family Guy-style cutaway gags mid-article right now. That’s how done I am with this fucking anime, if the swearing didn’t give it away.

At some point I feel like I’m either dipping into Seanbaby territory or just repeating myself. What is there to say? The show fucking sucks. The jokes are shit. It looks like shit. (Seriously, why the fuck does half this show have the color palette of an FPS game from 2005?) The pacing is shit. It’s conceptually shit. The only thing that’s not entirely shit is some of the character writing, which is of course a strength inherited from the manga. Lucifer & The Biscuit Hammer, the anime, is a rare TV anime that could be improved upon by animating it less. And we know this because the manga is, of course, completely static and yet manages to have more weight and motion to it than the thing that is, you know, made of moving drawings.

When the Biscuit Hammer anime premiered I unflatteringly compared it to a variety of my personal bottom-of-the-listers. Pride of Orange, Magical Girl Spec. Ops. Asuka, etc. I also did something very silly, which was say that this show is not as bad as those. This was, in hindsight, totally wrong. It’s absolutely as bad as those. It might be worse! Because while Puraore is constantly, actively unpleasant, at least it is not an adaption of a cult favorite beloved by many people. If Biscuit Hammer is not “worse” than Puraore (or other, similar anime), it is at least more insulting. Every single moment of the Biscuit Hammer anime feels like an act of deliberate malice on the show’s part. It feels as though it’s going out of its way to be the worst version of itself.

Above: for your consideration, one of the most error-prone episodes of the original Transformers cartoon, straight from Hasbro’s official Youtube channel. I have seen this episode, and I would watch it a million times before watching this episode of Biscuit Hammer again. Also, can you tell I’m just embedding random garbage at this point? You probably can.

And let’s be serious here; it will not improve. That just isn’t going to happen. Sometimes shows pick up after a weak premiere, but something like this, where it’s clearly just visual shovelware that exists for no real reason? Genuinely, literally zero chance. It would take divine intervention. It might get worse, mind you. But better? No, absolutely not. Biscuit Hammer has a shovel and a dream of digging to China, and friend, you and I will not be the people to stop it.

So that’s where we are. Four episodes into Biscuit Hammer‘s anime adaption and that is how I feel about it. I often say that I hate writing things this negative, and I usually do, but honestly? This is one of a vanishingly few cases where I’m actually rather satisfied with myself for doing so. Because it deserves this! It really does! It deserves much worse, frankly! I hope Studio NAZ‘s employees all quit en masse because they found some better place to work and the show has to be cancelled. I think that would be the only fitting end to this utter fucking travesty.

Do you guys remember that episode of Steven Universe where the Crystal Gems fused into Alexandrite so they could fight Malachite, and also there were a bunch of little watermelon guys? That episode was dope.

Yet, perhaps the most damning thing I can say about the show is this. Six months ago, we knew roughly what was going to air in the 2022 Summer season, and the Biscuit Hammer anime was perhaps the thing I was most excited for. I am not the kind of person who is afraid to hype myself up for things, and the way that that initial optimism has been, nearly methodically, shredded to ribbons by this production is just astounding. I am deeply, deeply sad for every single person involved with this project, from Satoshi Mizukami himself all the way down to individual in-betweeners. Let me be polished-glass clear; even if this were an original production, it would still be a very bad show. But the fact that it is an adaption of a pre-existing property, one that many people love, makes the entire thing stink of true tragedy.

A final observation; I mean no disrespect to that franchise in spite of how I’m sure this will come off, but there is no real reason that between the two, the anime based on RWBY should be, at this moment in time, more visually interesting and more compelling on a moment-to-moment basis than the one based on The Lucifer & Biscuit Hammer. (And I do feel that it’s fair to compare these two things in an at least loose sense, given that they are airing in the same season and thus directly compete with each other.) Yet, that is where we are.

Oh wow, look at that, an actually-relevant image embed! In this article? Who’d’ve thought.

And it is for that reason that coverage of RWBY: Ice Queendom will be replacing Biscuit Hammer as my third seasonal weekly for the 2022 Summer season. Don’t get me wrong; I have a fair few problems with Ice Queendom, some of them fairly serious. But I am, without exaggeration, 100% confident that it will be a better experience to watch, to enjoy with my community—that is to say, you all—and to write about than Biscuit Hammer has been. If literally nothing else, it has a color palette beyond “grey, brown, and occasionally red.”

For the few of you who enjoyed these couple recaps for their ranty qualities, I do apologize for any disappointment. I know I promised during the premiere that I’d stick with the show until the end, but in my defense, that was before we knew we were getting two cours, and I’ve also gone through a fairly major life event since then. I just don’t have the energy to keep doing this week after week.

As for Biscuit Hammer itself, I don’t intend to continue watching it. If you do, I’d suggest petitioning a higher power to extend their cosmic reach into the production process. But if that’s the route you’d take, I’d say you should pray to the devil. I don’t think God will be listening for this one.

….and all is right with the world.”

Like what you’re reading? Consider following Magic Planet Anime to get notified when new articles go live. If you’d like to talk to other Magic Planet Anime readers, consider joining my Discord server! Also consider following me on Twitter and supporting me on Ko-Fi or Patreon. If you want to read more of my work, consider heading over to the Directory to browse by category.

All views expressed on Magic Planet Anime are solely my own opinions and conclusions and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of any other persons, groups, or organizations. All text, excepting direct quotations, is owned by Magic Planet Anime. Do not duplicate without permission. All images are owned by their original copyright holders.

Anime Orbit Seasonal Check-in: What the Hell Happened to RWBY: ICE QUEENDOM?

Anime Orbit is an irregular column where I summarize a stop along my journey through anime, manga, and the related spheres of popular culture over the past week. Expect spoilers for covered material.

I really did not think I’d ever be writing about this show again. I didn’t make a secret of the fact that I wasn’t super impressed by RWBY: ICE QUEENDOM‘s premiere. When discussing that first episode, I called the show a mess. In that context, I meant it negatively; a slapdash, hacky story given a wildly uneven production that felt like it was being carried on the backs of individual boarders and animators rather than being directed with any strong sense of purpose. I stand by those statements as they hold to episodes 1-3, which together made up the series premiere on Crunchyroll, and they might still hold true going forward, but we’re not here to talk about any past or future episodes of this show. Not today. Today, here, in the very first of the new Anime Orbit columns, I’d like to talk about episode 4, the first new episode since the series began its normal weekly airing schedule.

Because 4 is something else entirely. To really just lay the matter on the table; it’s really good. In a way that feels a whole universe removed from what Ice Queendom had been doing up until this point. The actual plot here is very simple—one of the ‘Nightmare Grimms’ introduced in episode 3 gets its hooks into Weiss, and it’s up to Ruby to rescue her from the confines of the resulting dream-prison—but the way its presented is another beast entirely. If nothing else, Ice Queendom deserves some sort of “most improved” award here. This is lightyears ahead of what the first three episodes were doing, both in terms of visuals and, to an admittedly lesser extent, writing.

When we were introduced to the Nightmare Grimms concept (not a name explicitly given to them in-dialogue, but I can think of nothing else to call them), the first person they afflicted was Jaune. Who is, just speaking honestly, not a character who particularly endeared himself to me when he first showed up a few episodes ago. Jaune’s mental world was also not terribly interesting, to my recollection.

No one could make the same criticism of Weiss’. Her inner world is an absurdist dystopia monitored by living propaganda posters of her father Jacques and robots that greet each other with a bizarre salute of “Big Nicholas!”. It’s a massive walled factory town surrounded by blizzard-stricken bluffs, allegedly part of a wider “Empire”, where it always snows. Huge trains made of ice run unknowable cargo in and out of the city, only to be set upon by White Fang-affiliated bandits. Everything here seems jumbled up in guilt, insecurity, paranoia, and inherited prejudice. It doesn’t make Weiss seem like a particularly great person—and it’s not like the show needed help in that regard—but for the first time, it makes her sympathetic.

This entire thing is still mess-y, mind you, and I doubt Ice Queendom is going to really reckon with the inherent problems at the core of the whole “Faunus” analogy, but you can consider episode 4 a study on the difference that the addition of a single Y can make. For certain, it holds your attention in a very immediate way; one more comparable to all those other great SHAFT shows than anything in the first three episodes.

Helping to build the dreamy atmosphere are lots of little details, like Ruby’s scythe-gun not working the same way it does in the real world because Weiss is mistaken about how it’s put together. (Weiss seems to be under the impression that the gun is on the handle, which isn’t true. The first time Ruby goes to fire it in the dreamworld, she hits one of the robots behind her because of this, accidentally firing it backwards.) The little dream-gadgets Ruby can use via a payment of magic coins connected to the mysterious witch-exorcist (Shion Zaiden, played by Hiroki Nanami. We met her in episode 3 as well) helping them try to pull Weiss out of this thing are great, too. Using the coins, she can conjure up phone booths to talk to Shion for advice, she can summon decoy “chibi” Rubies who run around and repeat various things she’s said, etc. It’s strange and fun in a way that’s just an absolute joy to watch.

This is RWBY Chibi, right?

It’s not all fun and games though. As mentioned, there’s a distinctly dystopian / authoritarian bent to Weiss’ dreamscape. Winter City is a cold, hostile place.

A place where Ruby learns about the horrors of capitalism.

Even the few seemingly-friendly faces that Ruby meets turn on her the instant she’s declared a “dummy” (which Weiss’ subconscious seems to use as a catchall for people who can’t be trusted) by the regime, and she’s spied on for much of her stay by Weiss’ brother Whitley….who is also a bat here. (It’s a dream, just roll with it.)

Perhaps the most revealing scenes are the ones from Weiss’ own perspective. She is the city’s dictator, and sure enough, her outfit here has her rocking a militaristic overcoat and shades, making her look like some cross between Douglas MacArthur and Esdeath from Akame ga Kill!

I couldn’t get any good stills of her with the sunglasses actually on. So, in order to preserve the hilarious reference above, I’m going to need you to just imagine them. Picture an old-school smoking pipe in her mouth while you’re at it, really complete the look.

But she’s as trapped by the long shadow of her father—and the ancestor to the both of them, the ‘Nicholas’ referred to in the robots’ salute—as anyone else. When she reads reports off of a giant computer screen in her castle at the center of the city, a massive hologram of her father appears on the ceiling to berate her for her many perceived failures. Most especially, of course, letting this “Ruby” girl run free. This is what leads to Ruby’s branding as a “dummy,” and sets up their actual confrontation at the end of the episode, which builds both on what’s established here and the friction we already know exists between the two of them. Their battle starts here, but doesn’t end, implying this intriguing arc will have at least one more episode.

It’s worth looking forward to. In addition to the many things about Weiss herself we learn, there’s no denying the sheer mood of this thing. Perhaps my favorite moment actually comes not from either Weiss or Ruby, but from Shion, who offers this very true and absolutely fascinating piece of advice when Ruby calls to ask for help, concerned that Weiss secretly hates her.

If it can keep delivering moments like that, and like the more openly bizarre turns in this episode, Ice Queendom will be worth keeping up with. It remains to be seen if this marks a new direction for the series or if this is merely an anomaly. But for the first time since the series premiered, I’m optimistic. You should be, too.

Like what you’re reading? Consider following Magic Planet Anime to get notified when new articles go live. If you’d like to talk to other Magic Planet Anime readers, consider joining my Discord server! Also consider following me on Twitter and supporting me on Ko-Fi or Patreon. If you want to read more of my work, consider heading over to the Directory to browse by category.

All views expressed on Magic Planet Anime are solely my own opinions and conclusions and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of any other persons, groups, or organizations. All text, excepting direct quotations, is owned by Magic Planet Anime. Do not duplicate without permission. All images are owned by their original copyright holders.

Let’s Watch CALL OF THE NIGHT Episode 4 – Isn’t This a Tight Squeeze?

Let’s Watch is a weekly recap column where I follow an anime for the course of its entire runtime. Expect spoilers!

And we’re back, just like Akira walking to school.

I feel that, over the course of my coverage of Call of The Night so far, I’ve painted the show as a sort of choose-your-love interest dichotomy for protagonist Ko. Nazuna, the vampire, and a very literal child of the night on one hand. And Akira, who is comparatively normal, is more straightforward as a person, and is also, you know, actually Ko’s age, on the other.

This isn’t entirely wrong, I don’t think. But it’s also not the whole picture, and “Isn’t This a Tight Squeeze?” complicates that dynamic in some interesting ways. It’s also probably, by only just a hair, the show’s most suggestive episode so far. But as in the premiere, these plays as conventional sexiness don’t really scan as such. (To be fair, I’m not the target audience here. I feel the same about any number of romance-oriented pop songs.)

The episode opens on a short introductory scene, where we see Akira attending school. (Once again, the series adheres to its loose rule that she’s the only one who gets to spend any time in actual, full-on daylight.) There, a teacher lectures a student on the importance of a proper sleep schedule. Maybe a bit on the nose, but it does bring this episode’s central twisting of the dynamic to the forefront. Because the night after that schoolday ends, Akira finds herself unable to sleep, and joins Ko in hanging out with Nazuna after dark.

But we’ll get back to that. Ko himself is in a bit of tizzy given the events of last week’s episode. He spends the first third or so of “Tight Squeeze” replaying them in his mind. He and Nazuna kissed, and he can’t get that kiss out of his mind. Does this mean, he wonders, that he’s already in love with Nazuna? Is there really any way to be sure? There’s even a faintly ridiculous scene in here where he catches sight of a couple kissing on a small walking bridge and freaks out a bit, howling that it’s the first time he’s ever seen two people kiss before. (This seems very dubious to me. Not even his parents? Not even just….other random people while he’s been out and about before?)

One person, at least, is of the opinion that he’s overthinking it: Nazuna herself. She does bite him, of course—Nazuna rarely seems to pass up an opportunity for a sip—but nothing happens. When he spills the beans about what’s been on his mind, Nazuna suggests that he’s probably not in love, just horny. That much is probably correct, but her follow-up to that, where she says that thinking about love and lust seperately is “unhealthy”, is absolutely hilarious coming from her. Reflective, I think, less of any real assumption the show is working off of, and more of a truly stunning lack of self-awareness on Nazuna’s part, given her love of sex jokes but inability to handle actual romance talk without getting flustered. (In fact, Nazuna mentions that their kiss last week was her first kiss, too, despite waving it off as just something “friends do.”)

We meet back up with Akira the following night—which seems to make that introductory bit a flash-forward, you don’t see those too often—unable to sleep and deciding to hit the town at the bright and early hour of 11:30PM, with the rather silly notion in her head that she’ll just stay up and go to school when it opens. (There’s a very interesting, but extremely blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bit of environmental character building as we see her get out of bed. Namely, the space under it is tiled with those foam puzzle piece tiles you see in kindergartens sometimes. Indicative of an inner childishness, perhaps?)

Or perhaps she just likes the texture of foam. You decide!

In any case, she obviously meets up with Ko, who of course takes her to hang out with himself and Nazuna. There is an abrupt smash cut from his invitation to he and Nazuna raging at each other over actual, no-trademark-avoidance Street Fighter II. The sheer contrast is hilarious.

The remainder of the three’s little sleepover is interesting. The show again makes a not-great joke about how Ko doesn’t like to be, ahem, bitten in front of his other friend. They also play a dating sim, where, even in the confines of a very primitive virtual world, Nazuna can’t bring himself to go to school, which leads to the tsundere character getting testy with him. At another point in the game, a quiet busty girl shows up, to which Ko has a much more positive reaction. Nazuna rags on him for this, and it’s pretty funny.

The real telling moment near the end here, though, is when the three of them are all laying down together. A weird experience for Akira, to be sure. But the conversation the two have here is legitimately sweet, with Akira essentially accepting that Ko prefers hanging around with Nazuna at night to going to school during the day but promising to still try to get him to go now and again.

Somewhat amusingly, as the two talk about studying, the framing of the shot seems to really strongly imply that the only thing Ko is studying at the moment is Akira’s legs.

Someone on the show’s production put their entire soul into this sequence.

That note is probably the first time in a while that Akira has really felt like a viable romantic option for Ko. But, at the same time, they could also easily just stay friends, too. The question of who he’ll end up with seems less important than ever as the episode draws to a close. The real value here is in the little moments.

Like what you’re reading? Consider following Magic Planet Anime to get notified when new articles go live. If you’d like to talk to other Magic Planet Anime readers, consider joining my Discord server! Also consider following me on Twitter and supporting me on Ko-Fi or Patreon. If you want to read more of my work, consider heading over to the Directory to browse by category.

All views expressed on Magic Planet Anime are solely my own opinions and conclusions and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of any other persons, groups, or organizations. All text, excepting direct quotations, is owned by Magic Planet Anime. Do not duplicate without permission. All images are owned by their original copyright holders.

Let’s Watch CALL OF THE NIGHT Episode 3 – A Lot Came Out

Let’s Watch is a weekly recap column where I follow an anime for the course of its entire runtime. Expect spoilers!

Literally speaking, Call of The Night is about a boy who’s down bad for a vampire. But more abstractly, and perhaps more importantly, its main theme, at least so far, seems to be otherness. I mentioned this a bit back in episode one, but “A Lot Came Out” really hones in on the concept, through a number of techniques both related to its actual narrative and more abstract material like its visuals.

To wit; this episode formally introduces Akira Asai (Yumiri Hanamori), Ko’s one actual human friend and, as one would expect from a pretty ordinary schoolgirl, she’s mostly active during the day. Despite that, Call of The Night never steps outside of its nocturnal purview; the only times we get to see actual daylight are during flashbacks.

Both ends of twilight are fine for present-set storytelling, but never broad day. That’s a forbidden zone that I doubt the show will ever breach unless it’s trying to one of a few very specific things.

What does that have to do with being an outcast? Well, as previously discussed in this column, a vampire can be a symbol for almost any kind of “other” in a narrative. In the creature’s roots as a being of the horror genre, this was used to stir up fear, but nowadays, as in Call of The Night, using vampires as a kinder (although not without some issues) metaphor for anyone who lives outside of one’s established frame of reference is fairly common. Ko, in his desire to become a vampire, has basically already committed to the choice of eventually joining that “other.” I imagine that much of the rest of the series is going to be testing that resolve. There are a lot of ways Call of The Night could do this (in future episodes look out for Ko running afoul of curfew laws or something of the sort, it almost seems too obvious not to do), but here it takes a fairly simple form. Akira, as a normal high schooler just like Ko himself, is representative of the kind of normal life that Ko is leaving behind.

Maybe that’s all fair enough but you’re wondering what actually happens in the episode. Thankfully, that’s pretty easy to explain; Ko and Akari reconnect after years of not talking to each other and start hanging out. Nazuna gets kind of jealous and she and Ko have a minor fight. They make up at the end, roll credits.

The devil (or vampire, as it were) is in the details, though. In flashback scenes that establish how Ko and Akira first met as young kids, Ko notably avoids playing with the other children on the playground. Instead, he studies a line of marching ants, finding their hurried resource-collecting amusing in its own way. (I’m not saying he’s definitely supposed to be neurodivergent, but when the shoe fits….) Akira, who converses with him and eventually joins him in his observation, comes across as a kind girl in this flashback, but they’re clearly coming from different places. This leads to some confusion when they meet again in the present day.

Which isn’t to say that she doesn’t like him, mind you….

When the two get back in touch (via the whole watch situation from episode 2), they start meeting up regularly. Akira gets up very early to go to school, you see, which conveniently lines up with Ko’s nocturnal schedule. In fact, between Akira and Nazuna, Ko is well on his way to building an entire nighttime social circle. But, there’s the small bit of trouble in paradise that, because Ko is now hanging out with two people, not just one, he has to cut into his time with Nazuna a bit. The episode doesn’t spell this out until the very end, but it’s obvious that this makes Nazuna a bit jealous. She ends up confronting the two, and any pretense at keeping the whole “vampire” thing a secret evaporates when she promptly sucks the blood out of Ko’s neck right in front of Akira. (If this entire dynamic sounds slightly uncomfortable to you, it’s that way in the show itself as well, although thankfully not to the extent that it ruins the scene or anything.)

The three hit up a restaurant to hopefully hash out their differences. (Which, frankly you could boil down how far removed Nazuna is from Akira or even Ko, yet, by pointing out that while Akira gets a full breakfast and Ko just gets a coffee, she gets a cartoonish-looking stein of beer.) Nazuna and Akira have a brief but fairly tense conversation, during which Akira also makes the mistake of inviting Ko back to school. This ends with Nazuna abruptly leaving after asking Akira why, if she’s really such a good friend of his, she hasn’t reached out to him in the past few years at all. (Akira, it’s worth noting, does not respond. Although arguably she doesn’t really get a chance to. My assumption is we’ll circle back to her side of things again next week.)

It’s telling that after Ko picks up her bill (classic vampire dick move, that, leaving a restaurant without paying), he rushes after her. We can think of Akira and Nazuna as representing two, roughly, different approaches to life. Whether we should boil that down to something as simple as “straight and narrow” vs. “dangerous but wild” or look at it in a more nuanced fashion will hinge on where the show goes from here, but when he sprints out the restaurant door, it’s very clear that Ko has already made his choice.

Ko and Nazuna’s little fight ends when the two meet up on a random rooftop—this show loves random rooftops—and the two have this exchange, which is worth reproducing in its entirety, if you’ll forgive the avalanche of image embeds.

And that really is the thing. No matter what else happens, Ko has already committed to going “over to the other side.” Despite what anyone else might think, and despite his own reservations. Nazuna likes to tease, but her and Ko’s relationship, while they definitely are also friends, is also much more involved than a simple biter / bite-ee thing, whatever you choose to map that to. (Although her constantly cracking jokes about how their relationship is ‘purely physical’ certainly pushes the viewer in a….certain direction.) As they resolve their differences, Nazuna notices that Ko’s bloodied his lip from tripping up the stairs to the roof. And then, in defiance of contemporary romance anime and manga structure, and in what I genuinely think is a pretty bold move, this happens.

A make up turns to a makeout, Nazuna flies off as the dawn breaks behind her, telling her “friend” that she’ll see him again tomorrow. A stunned Ko can only retort that “friends” don’t normally, you know, kiss and such.

Now to be fair, maybe—and it’s a huge maybe—vampires and humans have different ideas of what constitutes ‘romance’, and it is definitely not impossible that the show will try to walk this back. But I rather doubt it will try to do so with any substantial force. As mentioned, Ko has already made his choice. The show is called Call of The Night, after all, and only one of the two girls he spoke to in today’s episode is nocturnal.

Like what you’re reading? Consider following Magic Planet Anime to get notified when new articles go live. If you’d like to talk to other Magic Planet Anime readers, consider joining my Discord server! Also consider following me on Twitter and supporting me on Ko-Fi or Patreon. If you want to read more of my work, consider heading over to the Directory to browse by category.

All views expressed on Magic Planet Anime are solely my own opinions and conclusions and should not be taken to reflect the opinions of any other persons, groups, or organizations. All text, excepting direct quotations, is owned by Magic Planet Anime. Do not duplicate without permission. All images are owned by their original copyright holders.