PEAKY BLINDERS [SEASON 3]

PEAKY BLINDERS [SEASON 3]

The third season of Peaky Blinders picks up about two years after season 2’s thrilling climax. Let’s check it out now [Note : Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the second season of Peaky Blinders].

After the successful coup on Derby Day to take over Sabatini’s racetrack gambling business and the killing of Major Campbell[along with Tommy’s all-too-close an encounter with death], we jump forward in time by about two years. Grace returned at the end of the second season, and the first episode begins with Thomas Shelby getting married to her. During the reception, a Russian refugee comes to the Shelbys and gives them a code for a money-exchange meeting between Tommy and an unknown other. Also, Tommy has entered into a deal with Father John Hughes and Co., not something Tommy wanted to be a part of, but something he can’t really help in his current situation. With the tensions between the Soviet and the British factions within the country increasing, Tommy is forced into a conspiracy  in which he has to plan and play both the sides to get out safe and sound. Can he and his Peaky Blinders gang survive this?

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                                                            One of the cool scenes…

Far as the setting and atmosphere are concerned, no worries about the creators messing them up; they do a clean job of conveying the conditions of the times perfectly, and the early-mid 1920s have been recreated well. But this was only expected from a team which has been consistent over two previous seasons. Also the pacing of the story has only increased, which is all to the better. Acting is top-notch as always. Some new characters have entered into the Peaky Blinders saga now. Chief among these are Paddy Considine playing Father John Hughes, and Gaite Jansen as Princess Tatiana Petrovna; both being nothing short of amazing. Just see for yourself, as revealing any details about their roles might spoil some of the sense of discovery to the viewers.

If you’ve watched and enjoyed the previous two seasons of Peaky Blinders, then there should be little stopping you from getting into the third installment as well. Great stuff as usual.

RATING : 8.6/10

PROS :
– even better pacing
– amazing new characters

 

PEAKY BLINDERS [SEASON 2]

Anyone who has watched the first season of Peaky Blinders and enjoyed it, ought to sign up for its next installment too. So without further ado, let’s jump into this. [Note : If you haven’t watched the first season of the show yet, you might find some spoiler here, so keep away!]

The plot picks up after the dramatic happenings of the first season, with the guns being found thanks to Grace’s spying from the inside of the organization, followed by her taking her leave from the country, off to America. About a couple of years after these happenings, we return to the show, just in time for Freddie Thorne’s funeral. While they were attending the funeral, someone blows up the Shelby pub. When Tommy goes to confront those who he thinks were behind this atrocity, he winds up in yet another conspiracy, this time of an even greater magnitude than the one before. As if that were not enough, Tommy’s old, old friend, Chester Campbell, now a Major, makes his way back to Small Heath to settle scores with Tommy.

Also, Tommy’s plans of expanding his business to London is met with hostility by the Italian gangsters working under Sabini. So, to get a foothold in the city of London, Tommy decides to join hands with a Jewish gang working under Alfie Solomons, a difficult man to predict at the best of times. Arthur is losing his mind due to recurrent flashbacks of his experiences during the war, and Aunt Polly is trying to make contact with her long-lost children who had been forcibly taken away from her. So basically, a lot of stuff is under foot.

Anyone who has watched the first season of Peaky Blinders should feel right at home with the sequel’s pacing too. The plot is solid as expected, and the character development is brilliant. New characters make their way into the show, and at least two of them are awesome choices. Tom Hardy plays Alfie Solomons, the Jewish gangster, and his depiction of the role is intense, to say the least. Finn Cole’s role of Michael Gray is careful and calculated, and the actor fits into the role like it was made for him. And all the familiar cast is great as usual, no complaints there. Arthur Shelby’s role has now been more fleshed out, a welcome addition, if somewhat unsettling to watch.

Overall, a great follow up to a great show. Watch it immediately if you have watched the first season.

RATING : 8.3/10

PROS :
– all the positives of the first season
– new characters are great

PEAKY BLINDERS [SEASON 1]

PEAKY BLINDERS [SEASON 1]

As I might have said before once or twice, I’ve always been a big fan of British/Irish films. Especially the crime-type ones, with their gritty, dark humor throughout. So I thought, why not watch a series instead? And that’s the gist of how I came to watch Peaky Blinders.

The show is set in the immediate years after the first World War, in the town of Small Heath, Birmingham. It kicks off with the discovery of a robbery of ammunition and weapons from a BSA munitions factory, with some telltale signs of it being the work of the Peaky Blinders gang. This prompts none other than Winston Churchill himself, to send in a special branches officer to Small Heath to retrieve and possibly, apprehend the Peaky Blinders in the act. Meanwhile Thomas Shelby, a WW I veteran and head of the family, has taken over the family business of gambling and bookmaking in the town, and has grand plans for expansion. The arrival of the special branches officer, Inspector Campbell, complicates things for Tommy Shelby and family, and now begins a tense game of cat-and-mouse between Campbell and Tommy. Also, where the hell did the munitions go?

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                                                                       The Peaky boys…

The plot is pretty tight and is relatively free of flaws. It is a bit slow at the start, but that is something I’m sure most would be fine with if they stick with Peaky Blinders for more than two episodes. Also the setting of the post-WWI conditions has been faithfully recreated, with great attention to detail. The cast is filled with amazing actors; Cillian Murphy as the battle-scarred Thomas Shelby is beyond brilliant. So is Annabelle Wallis’ portrayal of Grace, a new barmaid at one of the Shelby bars, and Helen McCrory as Aunt Polly. But my personal favorite was Paul Anderson’s act of Arthur Shelby. Even I myself don’t know why this is the case.

Get on the Shelby train if you are a fan of atmospheric dramas and gangster stuff. I’m pretty sure you won’t regret the decision. Because the show is great. Unless you don’t like watching good shows. But I digress.

RATING : 8.3/10

PROS :
– setting is faithfully recreated
– awesome acting
– slow, tense buildup

CONS :
– slow pacing early on

 

ONE OUTS

ONE OUTS

This anime, produced by the creators of Kaiji and Akagi, is one of the best in the business. It is a baseball anime on the outside, but what it really is, is an anime about gambling, manipulation and trickery.

Kojima Hiromichi is the star batter of the baseball team Saitama Lycaons, one of the weakest teams in the Japanese baseball championships. In his 21-year career, Kojima has reached many a milestone and won a number of awards, but the championship trophy has been eluding him forever. Determined to win the championship in his final year of baseball before retirement, he organizes a rigorous training camp for two weeks, not only to improve his power-hitting, but also to scour for new talent.

The real story begins when the pitcher gets injured during practice and two of Kojima’s teammates are forced to search for a substitute pitcher in the city. When the two get approached by an American woman who claims to help them out, little do they know they’re going to enter into a high-stakes gambling scene revolving around baseball [called one-outs] in one of the local playgrounds. And that is where they meet Tokuchi Toua, the protagonist of the series. The two get trolled into entering into a bet which Tokuchi goes on to win. When Kojima comes to know of this, he himself goes to the ground to have a one-on-one match with him. But when Tokuchi defeats Kojima despite possessing no apparent pitching skills whatsoever, Kojima is forced to re-evaluate his training and mental thinking. The events unfolding thereafter cause Tokuchi to enter the Saitama Lycaons team, as a favor(?) for Kojima, to help his team win the championships.

Here is where the notorious “One-Outs” contract comes in. The owner of the Lycaons, Saikawa, is a devious tycoon whose only interest in the baseball team is as a revenue source. Saikawa cites Tokuchi’s lack of professional experience as a reason for his reluctance to offer him any significant salary, but then Tokuchi comes up with an offer. The One-Outs contract : earn 5 million yen for each out he makes, lose 50 million yen for each run he concedes. Saikawa sees this as an opportunity for easy money, little does he know of Tokuchi’s guile. The series thereafter follows the mind-games between Tokuchi and Saikawa, the tactics and strategies between baseball teams for the championship trophy and what-not.

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                 Everything Tokuchi does, has a reason…

The story is great, and the narration job is done pretty neatly. Although once in a while, the viewer might feel the analogies are being repeated a bit too often. Even though the story is pretty linear, it gains more weight from the strength of the characters. Tokuchi’s role is the best, as is expected of course, but some of his teammates(especially the catcher Satoshi Ideguchi) are fully fleshed out and believable. Most of the story is seen from Ideguchi’s point of view, and he is the first one to notice Tokuchi’s genius, apart from Kojima. Full points to the creators for the characterizations. Animation for the show is above-average and holds up pretty well even after more than 7 years since its inception.

The anime may not be for everyone, though. If you want to watch something light-hearted or romantic, this is definitely not for you. But if you like anime like Code Geass, Death Note and other such thriller anime, this is a must-watch.

RATING : 9.5/10

PROS :

– characterization
– mind-games throughout
– pacing
– smart-ass protagonist
– opening and ending themes

CONS :
– somewhat repetitive analogies
– Kojima is relegated to a minor role in the latter half

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