manga, Manga reviews

Review: She’s My Knight vol. 1

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Story and art: Saisou
Genre: Comedy, Romance, School
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Synopsis: Haruma Ichinose, 17, has been popular since he was born. So popular, in fact, that he figured no one could even come close…until he met Yuki Mogami. She’s tall, cool, collected, and totally makes him crazy. He may just be in love…but can he deal with falling for someone even more dashing than himself?
Publication date: 30th March 2021

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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Ichinose is used to all the attention being on him; he’s been praised for his good looks his whole life. When he meets his classmate Yuki, he is instantly jealous due to the attention she gets, plus even worse, she’s taller than him!

The first volume of She’s My Knight does a good job of establishing the characters of Ichinose and Yuki and the dynamic between them. For characters who are both fawned over by their peers, that’s pretty much where their similarities end. Whilst Ichinose is fully aware of how attractive he is and of his charms, Yuki is totally oblivious, which only adds to Ichinose’s frustrations.

I’ve talked before about how I prefer manga with a continuous plot and story, over one where each chapter is a different vignette in itself. She’s My Knight is the latter, but actually, I think in this case it works. It’s not to say there’s no continuity throughout the manga, but each chapter is like a skit where Ichinose and Yuki are in a different situation, whether it’s a class play, or getting stuck together in a supply closet. Seeing the pair navigate these different situations is really amusing and makes for a lot of comedic moments.

The dynamic between Ichinose and Yuki is really fun, and commented on many times as Ichinose being the shoujou heroine and Yuki being the shoujou hero. It’s a fun, subverted story which has some really cute moments between its protagonists.

Whilst Ichinose and Yuki are entertaining and interesting characters, the same can’t be said for the supporting cast who are largely forgettable and add nothing to the stories. It’s a shame as the manga feels like it could really do with some more fleshed out characters to give it some depth and an extra layer, rather than the sole focus being on Ichinose and Yuki and their attractiveness.

She’s My Knight has a lot of promise and it will be interesting to see where it goes. I’d hope that there’ll be less uncertainty about the future of Ichinose and Yuki as a couple and more focus on them actually as an established couple, but we all know that ‘will they won’t they’ is a popular trope, so I won’t hold my breath!

3 stars

 

 

NetGalley requires users to rate on a star rating of 5, so I have adjusted my star ratings for any reviews for manga reviewed via NetGalley. Non-NetGalley reviews will remain out of 10.

Game Reviews, Games

Review: To The Moon

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Originally released on PC back in 2011, To The Moon was created by Kan Gao using the RPG Maker XP toolkit based on his own experiences with his grandfather’s life-threatening condition, and influenced by his own questions about end-of-life thoughts and whether a person can live with their regrets. Fast forward 9 years and one rebuild on Unity, and To The Moon was released on Switch in early 2020, ready to be enjoyed by a new generation.

Read my full review at Nintenpedia.

To The Moon

2021 challenges, Challenges

2021 Challenges: June Recap

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Can you believe we’re halfway through the year? My challenges progress certainly can’t. So, how am I doing you ask? Terribly, I answer!

Watch 45 anime

June end total: 9

Anime progress is super slow, but I’m hoping now I’ve decided not to watch (or attempt to watch) so many seasonal shows, I can pick up the pace on this. I’m also looking ahead to Anime August, which is next month – crazy how time flies, I feel like I’ve been stuck in a time loop.

Read 50 complete manga

June end total: 2

Man, if I thought my progress on other challenges was slow, at least I’m actually getting somewhere with those unlike my manga reading goals. I just never seem to have time to sit down and read manga, but I know I’ve got to make time! I don’t think I’ll manage to hit this target by the end of the year but I still want to give it a good go.

Watch 30 films

June end total: 9

Watching both films of The Quiet Place means I’m up to 9 films now, which is probably 3 times the amount I watched through the entirety of 2020, so I’ll take this as a win. I need to get more into the habit of watching a film at the weekend, and then I’ll definitely hit this target!

Watch 30 anime films

June end total: 4

I didn’t watch any anime films in June, boo! I need to really get a move on with these!

Get 35 platinum trophies

June end total: 14

I have slowed up on the platinum trophies in the last few months, but I still added Angels of Death to my pile in June. I loved the anime so much so when I saw the game had come to PlayStation, I had to play it. I loved it all over again, and the anime was such a good adaptation. I’m still confident I’ll hit the 35 total for platinum trophies.

Clear 30 games from my backlog

June end total: 1

Look… I just… don’t have the time. At least I’ve started a game from my backlog – Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age, so at least I’m trying!

Play 12 Switch games

June end total: 1

It’s a miracle, I played a Switch game! I finished To The Moon for a review for Nintenpedia, a site I’m about to start reviewing for. I’m super excited for the opportunity to write more reviews, and get lots more out of my Switch so I’m hoping this number will go up dramatically by the end of the year!

Read 12 books

June end total: 6

I’ve finally got back on track with my reading! I finished the third book in the Percy Jackson series to bring my total this year up to 6 so far. I’ve moved onto the fourth book, and then there’s another to go! I’m really enjoying the series, and as I’ve said before, I really wish I had read it when I was younger as I would have totally loved it. As much as I am enjoying it, I am looking forward to moving onto reading something a bit less aimed at children.

Anime

Why I’m Giving Up With Seasonal Shows

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At this stage of the year, I’d be watching the first episode of a bunch of shows ready to write up my Summer Anime Preview post. Whilst I’ve enjoyed doing the previews in the past, it leaves me with 10+ shows I have no hope of keeping up with or finishing.

I’ve found that generally, I’m able to keep up with two or three shows, and then the rest get abandoned, added to my ‘to watch’ list, where they’ll inevitably stay until I look at them and think, “Why on Earth did I ever want to watch that?”

Speaking of the ‘to watch’ list, it’s never ending. Relentlessly adding to it after I give up on 10+ seasonal shows certainly isn’t helping but there’s all the stuff on there that I genuinely did want to watch that I’m just never getting round to as I’m stuck in a cycle of never ending seasonal shows. I just feel like I’m watching stuff for the sake of it and I’m not enjoying it anymore.

Well, no more! I’m giving up with my previews. I’ll still be watching whatever shows I want to each season, but it certainly won’t be as many as I have attempted to do in the past and will be a much more manageable number. Hopefully this means I’ll have more time for other things – whether that’s watching other shows, drawing, writing. I’ll also feel a lot less stressed about being behind on everything always, so that can only be a good thing!

Anime, Anime Reviews

Review: Demon Slayer The Movie Mugen Train

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Let’s preface this whole review by just establishing my position on the Demon Slayer anime. It’s alright. That pretty much sums it up. I was pretty behind in watching Demon Slayer so by the time I got round to it there was so much buzz about it, and I had really high expectations which I don’t feel were met. I really don’t understand the hype around it – people seem to really, really love Demon Slayer, and I just kind of like it. I can totally appreciate it’s a good story, and some of the animation is really nice, but do I love it as much as other people seem to? No, I don’t. I think it’s quite average, I liked it well enough, but I definitely think there are other shows out there with similar premises doing it better.

I hear you ask, if I don’t like Demon Slayer that much, why did I bother to see it? Well, I like it enough to want to watch the second season, and the film is canon unlike the My Hero Academia movies, so I felt like I needed to watch it before season 2 started. I even took half a day off work for it!

So, with that in mind, how was Demon Slayer: Mugen Train? Let’s get into it.

Please be aware the following review may contain spoilers for the movie.

mugen train

As a reminder, season 1 of Demon Slayer ended with Tanjiro and co. receiving a message to join flame Hashira Rengoku on the Mugen Train to investigate a case where people were going missing, and this movie is then the outcome of that mission, hence the title, Mugen Train. 

Mugen Train starts immediately with action, there’s little to no rehashing story from the first season, so you really need to go into the movie with some memory of the plot from the anime. Newcomers to Demon Slayer may feel a little lost starting their journey with Mugen Train, though it’s not impossible. Mugen Train does work well as a standalone story, though obviously there’s a lot of context missing without the knowledge of the first season of Demon Slayer.

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Plot-wise Mugen Train is an exciting and interesting ride. The action never really stops throughout the whole movie, save for a few moments of respite.

As with Demon Slayer‘s debut series, Mugen Train is beautifully animated. There does seem to be some reliance on CGI for transition scenes and some background imagery, which I did find quite jarring. I’ve never liked the combination of CG backgrounds within an anime series, which I understand is a personal preference of mine, so others might not find it as much of an issue but for me it really took me out of the moment.

Some key moments lack emotional punch as it feels like the viewer doesn’t have enough time with the characters to develop any real bonds, so it’s almost a “Well, that happened.” and not much else. I feel some of these moments might land more for manga readers who have probably spent more time with certain characters, but as an anime only viewer, for me it felt a bit lacklustre.

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Mugen Train is a good continuation of the Demon Slayer story, and builds well on the world created in the first season. Whilst the story lacked emotional depth in places, there’s no doubting that the plot is a good one, and sets up the second series of the hit anime nicely.

7 stars

2021 challenges, Challenges

2021 Challenges: May Recap

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I am once again delayed in writing my end of month wrap up because I have no concept of time passing. I think generally I’m doing really badly at my challenges, especially since I’ve starting learning to draw which seems to be the only thing I do with my time these days as I’ve got really into it. It’s a lot of fun but it’s not getting any challenges done.

Watch 45 anime

May end total: 7

Progress is so slow on my anime watching, I only watched one show, Love & Lies, through the whole of May. I’m going to do Anime August again this year, and I had a brief thought that August was ages away, but in actual fact it’s really not.

Read 50 complete manga

May end total: 2

I actually haven’t completed any more manga for a really long time. I desperately need to rectify this but I find reading manga such a huge time sink and as I said in the intro I’ve been putting a lot of time into drawing and I just don’t have that much time (or inclination if I’m honest), to do much else.

Watch 30 films

May end total: 7

I did manage to watch a couple of films in May, it’s something I’ve been consciously trying to do more of. I watched Moxie and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire, both of which I enjoyed (Eurovision more if I’m honest).

Watch 30 anime films

May end total: 4

Like with ‘normal’ movies I’ve been making an effort to try and up the numbers on this one. I managed to watch a couple more – Demon Slayer: Mugen Train (in a cinema and everything!) and Anthem of the Heart. 

Get 35 platinum trophies

May end total: 13

I had a pretty slow month for platinum trophies also, because drawing, so I only added one to my total – Call of The Sea, which I also reviewed if you check out my previous post.

Clear 30 games from my backlog

May end total: 1

*sigh*

Play 12 Switch games

May end total: 0

Oh dear, oh no. I just, don’t have time to do everything. I need to clone myself or something, I swear.

Read 12 books

May end total: 4

After a slow start to reading the Percy Jackson series, I managed to finish the first book in May (and actually the second in June, so I’ve now started the third). They’re a pretty easy read, and I’m enjoying them. I wish I’d read them when I was a teenager as I would have loved them then.

manga, Manga reviews

Review: Blue Lock vol. 1

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Story and art: Story by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Art by Yusuke Nomura
Genre: Shounen, Sport
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Synopsis: After a disastrous defeat at the 2018 World Cup, Japan’s team struggles to regroup. But what’s missing? An absolute Ace Striker, who can guide them to the win. The Japan Football Union is hell-bent on creating a striker who hungers for goals and thirsts for victory, and who can be the decisive instrument in turning around a losing match…and to do so, they’ve gathered 300 of Japan’s best and brightest youth players. Who will emerge to lead the team…and will they be able to out-muscle and out-ego everyone who stands in their way?
Publication date: 16th March 2021

blue lock

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free e-copy of this manga in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Disappointed with the state of Japanese football, coach Jinpachi Ego decides to set up the Blue Lock programme. A prestigious programme, Blue Lock puts the top 300 youth strikers through their paces in an intense and hardcore training programme, aiming to separate the wheat from the chaff and ultimately end up crowning one player as the top striker in Japan.

Our protagonist is Yoichi Isagi, who is a well meaning striker on his high school football team. Yoichi costs his school a place in the national tournament due to his hesitation to take a shot at goal and his choice to pass to a teammate who then missed. Yoichi struggles to come to terms with the choice he made, and his whole mindset changes with regards to his feelings towards football. He’s always been very much a team player, but he starts to wonder if he should be more selfish when he’s playing and take the chances for himself.

Yoichi eventually gets recruited into Blue Lock, where playing alongside the best strikers in the world reinvigorates his love for football and makes him want to try as hard as he can to improve. Unfortunately, in comparison to his peers, Yoichi is really not all that. Ego’s vision for Blue Lock is very much to push the players as hard as he can, to breaking point. Everything in Blue Lock is based on rankings – what you eat, where you live, and how long you last in the programme. Yoichi finds himself in the bottom 11 ranked players fighting for his chance to be the best striker in Japan.

As a lifelong football fan, Blue Lock is really fun to read. There’s a lot of mentions to real life strikers which makes it really entertaining to compare the tactics and plot to real life occurrences. It’s also really interesting to see how the whole plot of the manga is to train the strikers in Blue Lock to only look out for themselves, and it’s basically the antithesis of any team game where the philosophy is very much based on playing as a team. The Blue Lock programme promotes the idea of ego and, what we’d call in the UK, glory hunting.

Blue Lock is a really interesting premise, and has a lot of potential. There are obviously a lot of potential rival characters for Yoichi to bounce off of, as well as a lot of self discovery ahead of him. Already in the few chapters of volume 1, Yoichi has come to realise that he’s perhaps not as weak as he believes himself to be.

It does feel like not a lot happens in this first volume of Blue Lock, but there’s a lot of set-up for onward plot and action. More and more characters are being introduced outside of the Blue Lock programme, and it’s interesting to see the perspective of outsiders on this very unyielding and unprecedented training programme as well as meeting the players who will undoubtedly make up the rest of the Japanese team with the Blue Lock graduates.

Whilst the first volume feels a little slow, Blue Lock shows a lot of promise, and one not to miss for fans of football.

3 stars

 

 

NetGalley requires users to rate on a star rating of 5, so I have adjusted my star ratings for any reviews for manga reviewed via NetGalley. Non-NetGalley reviews will remain out of 10.

Game Reviews, Games

Review: Call Of The Sea

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Norah is ill, and her husband Harry is missing after having gone searching the world for a cure. After receiving a mysterious package, Norah decides to go to the place Harry was last known to be — an island off the coast of Tahiti. Call of the Sea bills itself as a Lovecraftian mystery game, and whilst the first person adventure puzzler is clearly influenced by the writer’s work, it falls short on the mystery front.

Read my full review at Push Square.cots

2021 challenges, Challenges

2021 Challenges: April Recap

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I was panicking that I was so late with my April recap post, and when I went back to my blog to check something, I realised I didn’t even do a March one! Terrible. All the days are blending into one big blob and I can’t even tell what month it is anymore – if my birthday hadn’t been in April I think I wouldn’t have even realised how far through the year we are. So, apologise for no March update, here’s one to look back on the first third of the year!

Watch 45 anime

April end total: 6

Whilst my total shot up in March and April, I am still way behind on this challenge. Terrible progress is being made and I just don’t ever seem to have the time or inclination to sit down and watch anime. I hope this changes soon, as anime is one of my biggest passions but I don’t want to force it and end up hating it so I’m just sort of letting it go a bit!

Read 50 complete manga

April end total: 2

Absolutely terrible and this is looking less and less likely to be a reality as the year goes on. In addition to Haru’s Curse, I also finished reading That Wolf-Boy Is Mine.

Watch 30 films

April end total: 5

I’m up to 5 films on this challenge, not too bad considering a very slow start. I really need to pick up, much like uhhh…. every other challenge on my list.

Watch 30 anime films

April end total: 2

Good grief, progress is slow! I’ve had Anthem of the Heart out and sitting on my coffee table since New Years Day and I STILL haven’t watched it. But, I have watched the given movie, and Yes, No, Or Maybe?

Get 35 platinum trophies

April end total: 12

Doing suspiciously well at this challenge actually. Not only have I got 12 challenges as of April end, I also have many more in the works and lots of games downloaded and ready to go. I’m quietly confident on this one.

Clear 30 games from my backlog

April end total: 1

God, I am so slow at playing games these days! I finished Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy back in March after having it in my backlog for a good couple of years. I really enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to when the next lot of Phoenix Wright games come to consoles!

Play 12 Switch games

April end total: 0

Still can’t believe I haven’t even finished a Switch game this year, terrible!

Read 12 books

April end total: 3

It took me what felt like an age to read my third book – The Girl Who Could Move Sh*t With Her Mind by Jackson Ford. It’s not that I didn’t like it necessarily, it just felt very average and didn’t grip me. I’m one book behind at the moment, but I’ve moved onto the Percy Jackson series which I’m really enjoying so I’m hoping that I’ll claw it back on this challenge.

Anime

Anime Preview: Spring 2021

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I definitely took on too many Winter seasonal shows, and I found it really overwhelming to keep up (spoiler: I definitely didn’t keep up at all). Have I learnt my lesson? Absolutely not. I really enjoyed writing up my Winter 2021 Preview post, so I wanted to do it again for the Spring seasonal shows. I’m hoping that I will manage to finish the bulk of my Winter shows before Spring kicks off properly, otherwise it’s going to be a mess of me watching anime on an infinite loop. Again, I’ll try to avoid going over plot points and just focus on my feelings towards the opener for each show. This season, aside from the sequels I’ll be watching, I know nothing about any of the shows at all, so I’m going in totally blind.

Tokyo Revengers

tokyo revengersloved the first episode of Tokyo Revengers. It had everything I love in an anime – it was really suspenseful, it made me laugh a lot, and the cliffhanger at the end of the episode definitely left me wanting more. I got some real Erased vibes from Tokyo Revengers, which is definitely not a bad thing as it’s definitely up there in one of my favourite shows.

 

 

 

To Your Eternity

tyeWow. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much at a show since Banana Fish, and this was only the first episode! To Your Eternity was beautifully animated, it felt so cinematic, and honestly just heartbreaking. The first episode was an incredible opener, and I’m so invested in it already.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro

nagatoroI was really looking forward to Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro because I’d seen screenshots floating around on Twitter and I thought the character design for Nagatoro was really cool and that she looked really cute. Unfortunately, I don’t really have anything good to say about it. It was a really uncomfortable watch from start to finish, as Nagatoro relentlessly bullies her senpai – who is so bland I’ve forgotten his name entirely. It’s not even in a lighthearted making fun of someone because you like them kind of way, it’s just out and out bullying and not something I’m interested in watching.

 

Fairy Ranmaru

fairyThere is a lot going on in Fairy Ranmaru, and honestly it just felt like a total mess. It starts off as a kind of isekai as the fairy characters are sent to the human world, then there’s a sort of magical boy element, and then it turns into a musical with a song halfway through. I honestly felt like I had whiplash watching this show, it just was all over the place. Its saving grace was that the male characters were quite interesting, otherwise it doesn’t have a lot going for it.

 

 

Farewell, My Dear Cramer

cramerI don’t think I’ve ever watched a girl’s sports anime, but Farewell, My Dear Cramer looked really cute so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s about girl’s high school football (I will not succumb and call it soccer!), and the first episode was mostly about the girls joining from their various middle schools and joining the club. It was a really interesting episode as it gives you some backstory about the kinds of players the main girls are, and sets up the premise for the series nicely.

 

 

Koikimo

koikimoI’m a little bit sceptical of this one. Playboy business man falls in love with and pursues his high-school sister’s best friend. I’m sure you’ll understand my reservations. That aside, I did actually really enjoy Koikimo. I thought it was really nicely animated and it made me laugh quite a lot. I’ll still hold onto my scepticism for now, but I was pleasantly surprised.

 

 

 

Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved And Took In A High School Runaway

higehiroAnother seasonal show with a huge age difference! Again, like with Koikimo I went into Higehiro totally wary and ready to bail at any moment, and honestly, I almost did. Yoshida is a 26 year old salaryman who takes in teenaged Sayu after seeing her on the street under a lamppost. She quickly propositions him and tells him she’ll sleep with him if she can stay which is how she has been managing to find places to stay. Yoshida rejects Sayu, which is the only reason I kept watching, but instead he offers to have her live with him in exchange for doing the household chores. Again, like with Koikimo, I’ll remain skeptical as I feel like there’s definitely potential for this to cross some boundaries. I’d really love it if Yoshida and Sayu’s relationship developed into more of a brother/sister one, but I fear that will not be the case.

Oddtaxi

oddtaxiI definitely didn’t expect a show about anthropomorphic animals to be so dark and mysterious. I’m so intrigued by where Oddtaxi is going, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

 

 

 

 

Those Snow White Notes

snow whiteThose Snow White Notes totally took me by surprise. I thought I’d be getting some sort of high school music club situation, and this is far from that. It’s actually quite dark and deals with some pretty serious themes. I was really pleasantly surprised to be wrong, and it’s definitely one I’ll try to keep up with.

 

 

 

86: Eighty Six

86Maybe I’m stupid, but I found 86 really hard to follow. I think by the end of the episode I’d sort of got the gist, but all the way through the episode I just felt baffled. It’s hard to say whether I enjoyed the episode as for a lot of it I felt totally lost, but I think by the end I can say I liked it. I’ll definitely give it another few episodes.

 

 

 

Backflip!!

backflipI love a sports anime, we all know it. Backflip!! is about men’s rhythm gymnastics. I’ve always enjoyed watching men’s and women’s rhythm gymnastics at the Olympics and such, so it’s cool to see an anime version! The plot hasn’t really kicked off yet, with most sports anime, this first episode was really just about the protagonist joining the club, but it looks to be quite promising. The animation of the performances looked really nice too, I was worried it might go full CG like in an idol anime dance, and whilst I think there was an element of CG it still looked pretty cool.

 

Burning Kabaddi

kabaddiAnother sports anime! This time one for a sport that I was entirely convinced was totally made up until I Googled it after the episode, and was shocked to realise that this contact sport version of tag is real. That aside, Burning Kabaddi was totally unique and chaotic, but in a good way. The protagonist doesn’t even want to be in the club, for one, but he’s basically blackmailed into joining. It made me laugh a lot and I’m really intrigued to see where it goes and how actual matches of this weird sport work.

 

 

Let’s Make A Mug Too

mugThis is a totally wholesome school club anime about a pottery club. Episodes are short, which is just as well because not a lot happens, and they’re surprisingly informative about the Japanese pottery scene. I’ll keep watching it because it’s quite sweet, but I can’t envisage it being a standout for the season.

 

 

 

The Pretty Boy Detective Club

pbdcI’d seen a lot of people hyping up The Pretty Boy Detective Club online so it felt like one I wanted to watch – who doesn’t like pretty anime boys, anyway? I’m not sure how I feel about it after the first airing, I like the premise of a detective club filled with pretty boys, but they all felt very shallow and there didn’t feel like there was a lot of substance to the plot, feeling almost like a knock-off Ouran. The animation choices were really interesting though, and there were some beautiful moments.

 

 

Sequels-wise, I’ll be watching the new seasons of My Hero Academia, Moriarty the Patriot, Zombieland Saga and Fruits Basket. What a great season!