With the Fall 2014 Anime season upon us, it is time to get cracking on a whole bunch of new shows. I used to watch a lot of anime in my college days, but then I fell off and only got back to them last year, and it has been a fun ride, with some really good stuff coming out in the last year and a half, and some bad stuff too. But it is definitely a great time to be watching anime I think, given that each season sees upwards of 50 new and/or returning anime series on television. And one of the newest is Lord Marksman and Vanadis aka Madan no Ō to Vanadīsu, based on a Japanese light novel series of the same name.
Despite being a rather odd title, Lord Marksman and Vanadis is a decent enough story about a young noble archer who is taken prisoner before a big battle, and then must confront some of his prejudices and rethink on his loyalties and his ties to his nation. Tigrevurmud Vorn is a decent enough protagonist, if a bit generic, and the female lead Ellenora Viltaria is the same, though she is thankfully quite a bit more of a badass. The first two episodes look very promising, but the animation sure can be quite basic at times and some of the camera angle choices make this an odd uncomfortable experience as well.
Fox’s horror hit, Sleepy Hollow, had a great first year and so far it has also had a great second year, though we are only four episodes into the new season, which is said to be half again as long as the previous season. That in itself is excellent news since while the short first season was excellent, the second season gets even bigger in scope this year. With Sleepy Hollow itself, we’ve seen the war between the good guys and the bad guys intensify as the “End of Days” continue to march on Sleepy Hollow, and lines between the two sides are even more sharply drawn.
Last week’s episode, “Root of All Evil“, and this week’s episode, “Go Where I Send Thee“, are really intense episodes that mix in a lot of different things. We see how the new Sheriff Reyes has a history with Abby and Jenny. We see the many ways that Henry intends to bring destruction to Sleepy Hollow and the rest of the world. We see how Abby and Ichabod gain a new ally in treasure procurer Nick Hawley in some of the best scenes of this season. And more, so much more. I really loved what writers Melissa Blake/Donald Todd and Damian Kindler did here, building on some great mythology and providing some new villains as well.
Sleepy Hollow‘s season 2 debuted last week with a solid season premiere that promised lots of different things. With Abby stuck in Purgatory, Ichabod buried alive in a coffin, Katrina in Abraham’s custody, Irving arrested and Jenny in a car crash, things looked pretty bleak, but the characters managed to bounce back handsomely enough that they are still a major threat to Moloch and his minions. Many of the plot-threads from the previous season’s finale were continued on and it ended on a great note, setting a great tone for the second season.
This week’s episode, “The Kindred“, does something that we haven’t seen on the show yet. We get some more on Benjamin Franklin this time around, and see how contingency plans to fight the Headless Horseman were being put together two hundred years back. Some of it comes to bloom in this episode in the form of the Kindred, and I think that Team Sleepy Hollow just got a huge boost in firepower, and with the increased activity from Henry, Abraham and their master Moloch, the team is going to need everything that they can get, even as they get taken out one by one, or so it seems.
Last year, Sleepy Hollow ended up being one of the best shows I’ve seen to date, especially for horror. It was a rather short debut season at just 13 episodes (the last two episodes were broadcast as a single long episode). One of the best things about the show was the relationship, both personal and professional, between the show’s two major leads, Abby Mills and Ichabod Crane. They were such opposites, and yet they bonded so well and they became the life of the show. The stories were awesome of course, but the characters were always front and center, which is what matters most I think.
Last night Fox premiered the second season of Sleepy Hollow. At the end of season one, all the major characters, whether Abby or Jenny or Ichabod or Frank Irving were in a really bad place. They had been betrayed and played for fools by the demonlord Moloch, and in many ways the season finale was about the bad guys winning their first major fight. Now, in the second season’s premiere, we see how things carry on from there, and how Moloch and Death and War are planning to proceed with the next phase of their plan to invade the mortal realm and destroy the world.
I started off my review last week by talking about the show’s preference for shock and awe with respect to violence against and the sexualisation of women. Game of Thrones does not have a good track record of that at all, and this season has shown that the showrunners are definitely not going to shy away from that. In fact, they are going to double down. This is quite puzzling indeed and one of the reasons why I’m never able to enjoy an episode as much as I want. That was true for this week’s episode as well, and I’m afraid that I don’t see this improving in the near future.
This week’s episode “Oathkeeper” is basically the calm before the storm. It lacks any significant OMFG moments right up until the final seconds and even then it isn’t really enough. Basically many of the different stories are moving forward and we suffer them all in silence. There were some good bits such as the emotional scenes between Brienne and Jamie, and some not-so-good bits such as Daenarys once again basking in the adoration of slaves, playing into the whole “white savour of coloured people” trope. All I felt after the end of the episode was “meh, next”.
And so we finally come to it. This week, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow ended its first season with a special two-hour episode. As I’ve said in my previous reviews, this is a show that I’ve really come to enjoy and the previous two episodes have been some of the best work on the show yet. Sure, some subplots have been sort of ignored and so have certain characters, but overall, I can definitely say that each and every episode has been a joy to watch. It avoided many of the pitfalls of a team-up show in its first season, or just first season blues in general, and that’s been the best thing about it, among others.
There have been a damn load of revelations in all the previous episodes. In episodes 10-12, all the revelations finally begin to make sense and they come together to deliver more revelations on top of all that. Another thing is that these three episodes allowed the full cast to get their day in the sun. The writers touched on pretty much every subplot here, although I think that the finale could have done with a lot more, but still, the finale mostly left me with my jaw hanging open all the time. It also helps that the acting has been great, with Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie being the breakout actors of television in 2013 for me.
Note: This review contains spoilers about these three episodes.
For the second-last day of the “Advent Reviews” series, I have another novel that I read earlier this year, but never got around to reviewing, mostly because I did not enjoy the book at all and was somewhat reluctant to do a negative review at the time. Plus, I already had too much of a backlog in that regard (still do), so I passed over it. I love reading SF set within the solar system, such as Orson Scott Card’sEarth Unaware or Katy Stauber’s Spin The Sky, and that’s one of the reasons I picked up this book, in addition to the striking cover art. But the book failed to impress me and it left me pretty disappointed as a complete experience. Once again, this is a review from memory, so I do apologise for any details that I get wrong.