Review: Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk

Nippon Ichi’s latest release Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk is a first-person dungeon crawler where you play Tractie – that is, the Tractatus de Monstrum – a mysterious book with a soul trapped inside, able to communicate by filling out its pages. Tractie is under the control of a witch named Baba Yaga, or Dronya as she goes by in the village of Refrain. The titular labyrinth is a no-go area for humans, so Dronya decides that Tractie is going to explore on her behalf, and throws it down the well that serves as the entrance to the labyrinth.

You’ll need to report back into Dronya after fulfilling a set requirement in order to progress the game. Early on this is a bit frustrating, as it means you have to abandon your position in the labyrinth to get back, but eventually you’ll learn a skill called Mud Exit which creates a one-use portal to teleport back to, making exploration much easier.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

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Review: Tokyo Ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul is one of my favourite anime, so when I saw that a cinema near me was doing a screening of the release of the live action film, I jumped at the chance to get tickets.

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In all, I really enjoyed the movie. It’s not perfect by a long stretch, but it’s a really good adaptation of the anime and manga, and stuck faithfully to its predecessors. There weren’t really any moments I could nail down where I could comfortably say “It didn’t happen like that in the anime/manga”, and trust me, I’m always the first one to point out that sort of thing.

Tokyo Ghoul is let down by some of it’s not-so-special effects. So much of the plot is reliant on CGI, so it’s really disappointing that the CGI was so subpar. It really took me out of it seeing the ghouls fighting using their kagunes which were just laughably bad. Really, I think this is the only negative I can say about the whole experience.

The movie does showcase some really stellar acting. Masataka Kubota in particular was especially convincing as Ken Kaneki, managing to show off his inner turmoil at becoming a ghoul. There are some really great moments later on in the movie where Ken is being overtaken by his ghoul side where you can really feel how the experience is affecting him and how troubled his mind is.

7 star

Review: Downsizing

Downsizing is a peculiar one. I think it’s really hard to make a ‘serious film’ where the key concept of the movie is that people are shrinking themselves. I don’t know if that’s because I was a child in a time where Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and its various spin-offs were a big thing, but to me the idea of a person shrinking is just funny.

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The thing with Downsizing, though it does have its funny moments, is it’s not really a comedy. The concept of ‘downsizing’ is so that a person takes up less space on the planet and has less of an effect on the environment, so the movie is a pretty serious one with a focus on environmentalism and the selfishness of humanity.

Downsizing doesn’t really deliver its message with much impact. Yes, we all know that the Earth is struggling to cope with the volume of people who inhabit it, as well as the way they treat it. Past this it doesn’t really offer much more exploration into things. There’s no focus on how things change once the project begins, how things are developing or whether the project met its aims. Things just happen, and we’re expected to accept that.

Downsizing touches on a lot of points that would have been really interesting to explore; the import/export business in the miniature world, the wealth divide in Leisure Land, politics between the ‘normies’ and the downsizers to name a few examples, but it doesn’t expand on any of them. It’s disappointing, but throughout the movie Downsizing has a habit of introducing an interesting topic and just leaving it, undeveloped.

The protagonist, Paul (Matt Damon) doesn’t really develop much, and the same can be said for most of the characters. Everyone ends the movie as they started, there’s no journey, no development, nothing to keep you engaged and the movie feels every second of its 2hr15 runtime.

4 star

Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Going into Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri I had very little idea about the film. I thought vaguely, maybe it won’t actually be about billboards, and the billboards might be a sort of metaphor? Nope, it’s about billboards.

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The billboards, whilst not necessarily a metaphor, are a representation of ­­­Mildred’s struggle to get closure and justice for her murdered daughter. Frustrated, Mildred (played by Frances McDormand) rents out the three billboards and puts up some choice words for the local police chief essentially questioning whether he has done his job properly.

There’s a pretty stellar cast, with Frances McDormand being joined by Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell, who is particularly fantastic throughout the whole film, portraying a really complex character perfectly. Everything is sublime and it’s really hard to find any faults in the whole movie.

I don’t want to delve too deeply into things, as I think it’s good to go into Three Billboards as I did, not really knowing much about it. I will say it’s a wonderfully emotional film with a really engaging plot.

Three Billboards does comedy and drama exceptionally well, giving you moments that are genuinely hilarious before smacking you in the gut with some well-delivered emotional trauma. The whole thing keeps you on your toes, in a good way, and you’re on an emotional rollercoaster along with the characters throughout the film’s 115 minutes.

I can’t recommend Three Billboards enough.

8 star

Review: Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier

Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier is set between Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes – the two most recent movies in the franchise.

With the power of PlayLink, up to four players can decide the fate of humans and apes alike, as we take control of Jess, the head of a human settlement, and Bryn, an ape in a mountain tribe. If playing along with the PlayLink app isn’t cutting it for you, fortunately you can also use multiple DualShock 4 controllers. In fact, playing this way is preferable, as you’re not threatened by connection problems if your wi-fi isn’t behaving. Still, the option for PlayLink is there should you need it.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

Review: Tsuredure Children

Anime: Tsuredure Children
Studio: Studio Gokumi
Crunchyroll description: To those of you out there who could never say “I love you” – this story is about ordinary highschoolers and how love makes them fired up, shaken, laugh, cry and hurt. Whether things go well or not, this story of adolescence and romance will show you how they spend their precious youth. Every character is the main character here, and you’re sure to find one you can sympathize with.
Genres: Comedy, Romance, School, Shounen
Original run: 04/07/2017 to 19/09/2017
Episodes: 12

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The theme of my summer anime seems to have been mostly me watching things and not really knowing what I was getting myself into. I had no intention of watching Tsuredure Children, but my housemate recommended to me, and as it was only about 10 minutes per episode, I didn’t have a reason to pass it up. I’m so glad I watched it.

I’ve seen a lot of people saying Tsuredure Children was the unexpected hit of last season and I wholeheartedly agree.

The basic premise of Tsuredure Children shows you snapshots of different sets of couples. Not every couple features every week, but across the series you get to follow the different stages of their relationship. There are a lot of characters crammed into this show, and going in, I was really apprehensive about how a 10-minute show was going to build on all of these relationships and develop the characters, but that’s the beauty of Tsuredure Children.

It’s surprising how quickly you can get invested in characters that really, you’re only seeing on screen for a couple of minutes each week, but Tsuredure Children presents us with some really likeable and well written characters. There’s the danger of having a lot of bland characters, or a few with similar personality types, but this anime seems to avoid this and all characters are memorable in their own right.

Each couple’s story brings something different to the show. Some are funny, some are emotional, and some are just downright bizarre, but they all fit together and make a really endearing and heartwarming package. Yes, I liked more of the individual stories than others, but there weren’t any that I really disliked. I especially liked the way some of the stories linked into each other, making them feel part of a whole rather than standalone offerings.

By the end of the series I did feel like some stories weren’t resolved as much as they could have been, and made way to Chiaki and ­­­­­Kana’s story instead, but the show started with some relationships already begun, so I guess the idea is that it ends with them and their issues ongoing.

Conclusion:

Tsuredure Children is a delightfully unassuming anime, which evokes all sorts of feelings. It’s heartwarming, funny and just a wonderful look at young love and all the ups and downs associated with it.

7 star

Review: Chaos;Child

Chaos;Child is the latest visual novel brought to us by developer 5pb, and the fourth main entry in the ‘Science Adventure’ series. Chaos;Child sits in that series with acclaimed titles like Steins;Gate and this game’s predecessor, Chaos;Head, but don’t worry too much about having experience with either. Ultimately, playing those will add depth to Chaos;Child, but it’s perfectly enjoyable and works as a standalone game if you haven’t played the others.

Read the rest of my review on Push Square.

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