They’re the best Anime that 2011 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Beelzebub, Tiger & Bunny, Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II, and more!
MAL Score: 7.89
Ishiyama High is a school populated entirely by delinquents, where nonstop violence and lawlessness are the norm. However, there is one universally acknowledged rule—don’t cross first year student Tatsumi Oga, Ishiyama’s most vicious fighter.
One day, Oga is by a riverbed when he encounters a man floating down the river. After being retrieved by Oga, the man splits down the middle to reveal a baby, which crawls onto Oga’s back and immediately forms an attachment to him. Though he doesn’t know it yet, this baby is named Kaiser de Emperana Beelzebub IV, or “Baby Beel” for short—the son of the Demon Lord!
As if finding the future Lord of the Underworld isn’t enough, Oga is also confronted by Hildegard, Beel’s demon maid. Together they attempt to raise Baby Beel—although surrounded by juvenile delinquents and demonic powers, the two of them may be in for more of a challenge than they can imagine.
As you can probably tell, Beelzebub is a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and this approach works very well for the story being told. The main characters, particularly Furuichi, seem aware that they part of a show that routinely sets them up with ludicrous scenarios, as if to test their reactions, and they are not shy about calling out some of the more preposterous elements that arise. Characters also address the viewer directly, which adds a nice touch of humour to the show while making the situations more relatable. I found this approach more satisfying than one where we are asked to accept ridiculous circumstances at face value.
The show has a lot of heart, and can also be surprisingly creepy at times; these are demons and the underworld we are dealing with after all, but this never lasts for very long, which is a pity because I think the show would have benefited from playing up the darker themes for longer periods to counter the otherwise jovial tone, which becomes a bit tiresome over a 60 episode arc. Still, the show maintains enough originality to entertain and the delivery of punch lines remains top notch for the most part.
One place where the show does disappoint terribly is in character development. Its remarkable how little the main characters change over the course of the series. This actually turns out to be a main detractor for the comedy as the show goes on because I often found myself wishing for fewer farces and more feeling. Some decent character growth would have solved this issue, but alas there just isn’t enough of that to go around. Relationships are especially frustrating. Waiting for something interesting to happen between characters other than fights with comically named “special attacks” is like watching paint dry; there just isn’t a lot going on there. The supporting characters fare a bit better in this respect, in particular with an entertaining story arc involving a multi-player FPS.
To add to this, the filler episodes quickly become an annoyance. Simply put, there are too many of them. This wouldn’t be so bad if these episodes contributed something towards developing characters, however, they do not. And in the end I kept feeling like these episodes were simply taking away valuable time that could be better used oh say, developing characters.
Overall though Beelzebub is a well written series which keeps track of its story plots, at least until the last episode, so you almost never see characters “forgetting they did something”, or acting out of character, which is very impressive for a farcical comedy like this. Eventually though, lack of character development and some nonsensical villains make it hard for me to call this anime great. Halfway through this series, if you’re not being entertained by the humor, chances are you aren’t being entertained by anything else. And this is unfortunate, because the show had all the right ingredients to make it absolutely amazing. Still, I would recommend watching the series because you will not regret doing so, if only because it is very different from a lot of what is out there. Moreover, I managed to find a much more satisfying end by basically ignoring the last episode and switching to the manga to get more out this series. The story of Beelzesama and his contractor Oga Tatsumi, does not end at episode 60, and for my money, is definitely worth catching up on.
You’re probably asking to yourself when picking up this Anime “Will this make me laugh so hard I can’t breathe?”. The simple answer is YES and let me explain why.
The names of the central characters the story of Beelzebub revolves around is Tatsumi Oga and Baby called Beelzebub. Tatsumi is a delinquent at the worst school in his area and Beelzebub is the son of a demon who was destined to take over the world. From there, wacky stuff happens in EACH EPISODE that will have you on the floor crying for laughter. Honestly, I would say that the story is of less importance than how the characters were executed since it is a comedy.
Before watching Beelzebub, I didn’t think that Anime could be so funny that I would consider it a masterpiece(This was also before I watched Gintama). Most Comedy Anime to me at the time seemed too tryhard/forced and that you would essentially need to be Japanese to laugh at the jokes. That all changed when I watched Beelzebub. I loved EVERY CHARACTER. Each of them had something to offer as a whole for the comedy so that nobody was left out. What would have played out as a normal thing in other Anime, Beelzebub turned on it’s head into pure laughter. I don’t want to spoil much but just keep what I said in mind because it’s true.
The music is pretty good also and each episode doesn’t feel like it’s dragging on. I honestly wish I could watch it all over again for the first time because I love it so much. It’s up there with Gintama as the funniest Anime of ALL TIME.
So just give it a try and see if you like it.
Art: 8/10 Very good art. Not too shabby.
Sound: 9/10 Nice voices. The baby’s voice is adorable.
Characters: 9/10 Super likable characters. Most of them are so funny. Decent character development.
Overall: 8/10 If you like to laugh. Watch this anime. If you’re one of those people who THINK they have a sense of humor, but low-key don’t. Don’t watch this anime. 😀
9: Tiger & Bunny
English: Tiger & Bunny
Japanese: TIGER & BUNNY （タイガー アンド バニー）
MAL Score: 7.90
In Stern Bild City, those with special abilities are called “NEXT,” and can use their powers for good or bad. A unique organized group of NEXT appear regularly on Hero TV, where they chase down evildoers to bring limelight to their sponsors and earn Hero Points in the hopes of becoming the next “King of Heroes.”
Kotetsu T. Kaburagi, known as “Wild Tiger,” is a veteran hero whose performance has been dwindling as of late, partially due to his inability to cooperate with other heroes. After a disappointing season in which most of the other heroes far outperformed Tiger, he is paired up with a brand new hero who identifies himself by his real name—Barnaby Brooks Jr.
Barnaby, nicknamed “Bunny” by his frivolous new partner, quickly makes it clear that the two could not be more different. Though they mix as well as oil and water, Tiger and Bunny must learn to work together, both for the sake of their careers and to face the looming threats within Stern Bild.
The most obvious attempts to capitalise on the success of these comic-book creations have come from television and cinema, but while shows like “Heroes”, “Chronicle” and “Misfits” have found a degree of success, the majority of attempts to reinvent, reboot or revamp the superhero genre have ended in ignominy.
Which is where Tiger & Bunny swagger onto the stage.
Set in Sternbild City (a fictional version of New York), the story begins 45 years after super-powered humans known as NEXT first began to appear. In the decades that followed, individuals with superhuman abilities took on the roles of heroes and villains, and over time the constant to and fro between both sides became a form of entertainment. Fast forward to NC 1978, where the forces for good have their own specialised broadcast – “Hero TV”, corporate sponsorships, and a chance to accrue points in order to win the coveted title of “King of Heroes”.
Every day brings new challenges for these intrepid do-gooders, but Sternbild City has been built upon many secrets, and when Barnaby Brooks Jr. takes his place amongst those who stand for truth and justice, the shadows of the past begin to move once more.
At first glance Tiger & Bunny may seem like nothing more than a super-powered “buddy” show, and to a certain degree that’s a fair assessment. The plot is relatively straightforward (but also rather predictable), and although there are several elements that add a veneer of complexity, none of these affect the pacing or progression of the storyline – mainly because it has been split into two major chapters. This has the effect of setting a “deadline” for the conclusion of certain arcs, which in turn adds a brevity to the narrative that prevents the atmosphere becoming stale.
Unfortunately some viewers may find themselves annoyed by the fact that certain episodes appear to deviate from the main plot by focusing on one or more of the supporting characters. Now while this usually a valid complaint, these “fillers” often serve as a platform to introduce themes, characters or events that may have a lasting effect on the story proper. In addition to this, the episodes in question have very little impact on the flow of the narrative, and in a very real sense this show is a good example of how “fillers” can add to the whole story.
When it comes to the visuals, Tiger & Bunny certainly looks the part, but it’s not without its flaws. The artwork is of a good standard, with a nice variety of character designs, settings, and outlandish costumes that uphold the reputation of superheroes everywhere. The series is well animated for the most part, and while there are the usual (and very minor), anime-related problems when it comes to wardrobes, one particular issue continues to crop up throughout the show.
Technology has progressed to the point where computer generated imagery can often be blended with more traditional animation to good effect, but for some reason Sunrise has decided to be a little more ostentatious in its approach – which has led to a few complications. The main problem lies in the movement of the heroes after they don their costumes, and in several action sequences the studio’s attempts to exaggerate the actions of the characters can make the entire scene look more than a little … odd.
That said, many viewers may forgive the slightly weird feeling they get from the CG, but only because the overall look is decidedly refreshing and the show makes very good use of some rather nice visual effects.
Tiger & Bunny features two opening sequences, both of which introduce the main heroes (with particular attention paid to their sponsors), alongside a few short scenes that display their powers. The only real difference between the two OP’s are the songs attached to them – “Orion o Nazoru” by Unison Square Garden (a rather upbeat rock song), and “Missing Link” by Novels (a surprisingly bittersweet rock ballad). The series also features two closing sequence, the first of which is a fairly simple affair that focuses on the characters of Kaburagi Koutetsu and Barnaby Brooks Jr. while “Hoshi no Sumika” by Aobozu plays out. The second ED is much more in keeping with the great traditions of the anime industry as it uses still images of the characters alongside some fairly basic visual effects – all to the J-Pop stylings of Tamaki’s “Mind Game”
When it comes to background music it seems like Tiger & Bunny is on firmer ground, and much of the soundtrack is littered with anthems that echo of heroism, action, and good old comic-book cheese. In addition to this there are a wide range of well defined audio effects, and overall the series is remarkably balanced in terms of its choreography.
As one might expect from a superhero tale, the dialogue is awash wish one-liners, catchphrases and other sentences that tend come out of the mouths of costumed vigilantes. That said, the script is surprising in both its intelligence and humour, and although there’s the ever-present shadow of cheese, it’s not enough to deter the voice actors from delivering some fine performances. Hirata Hiraoki and Morita Masakazu are in good form as the laconic veteran Kaburagi Koutetsu (a.k.a. Wild Tiger), and the fiery young Barnaby Brooks Jr., but while the two have a good on-screen rapport, the cornerstone of the dialogue is the camaraderie between the heroes as a group.
One of the nice things about Tiger & Bunny is that the characters represent a wide range of ages and backgrounds, and although the majority of them are adults, the show also tries to offer some insight into the personalities of the more prominent teenaged heroes. Koutetsu is a particularly interesting individual – a widowed father who rarely sees his ten-year old daughter (who lives with her grandmother), because of his “work”, and this lays a very strong and unusual (for anime that is), foundation for development. A big plus is that rather than travel down the Ikari Gendou route towards a “bad end”, the writers have decided to adopt an approach that’s more akin to “Lethal Weapon”, with Koutetsu in the role of the aging veteran.
On the other hand, Barnaby Brooks Jr. is Batman.
The problem is that where Barnaby is concerned, nobody has tried to think outside of the box (as they do with Koutetsu), and it’s for this reason that his background is one of the biggest stereotypes in the world of superheroes. Because of his origins, many of the changes in his personality over the course of the series can feel derived, and this is especially true where his relationship with Koutetsu is concerned. Thankfully the show has a pretty good set of supporting characters, and unlike many other anime, the series uses the relationships between the majority of the characters rather well.
If one compares Tiger & Bunny to its Western counterparts then it manages to hold its own, but only just as the weight of the superhero genre in America and Europe is enough to crush almost any challenger. That said, the series is a refreshing change from the shounen fare that’s being served these days, and one of the most laudable aspects is that Sunrise haven’t been afraid to take inspiration from Western media.
Which brings up one small but important point.
The majority of popular heroes were created decades ago, and since then there have been many attempts to update them so that they always appear to be in keeping with modern trends and tastes. Unfortunately these changes are only skin-deep, and aside from recent titles like “Heroes”, “Misfits”, “Kick Ass”, “Chronicle” and “Super”, the majority of Western tales don’t really serve as a good reflection of modern times, even if their core message remains valid. It’s in this particular area where Tiger & Bunny stands above many other stories, mainly because of its focus on “reality TV”, celebrity culture and corporate sponsorship. In a very real sense the anime highlights a direction that has been blatantly ignored, and while the whole concept may seem alien to diehard fans of Western comic-books, the simple fact is that modern superhero stories tend to follow the same formula that has been the mainstay of the industry for decades.
Overall, Tiger & Bunny is an enjoyable take on the genre that blends several old ideas and puts them in a setting that, while futuristic, is more a reflection of modern society than many people might initially believe. The mixture of super-powered shenanigans, comedy and drama is very much in keeping with the best traditions of action movies everywhere, and in all honesty that’s probably the best way to approach the series.
But that doesn’t automatically make it no-brain entertainment.
Then I saw that episode 1 was on Hulu. HULU? Was this legitimacy? OK, so I watched it. It was not what I was expecting. It’s not about Mafia or mecha. It’s about SUPERHEROES! Why couldn’t somebody just come out and say so? But mind you, this isn’t like the other Japanese superhero animes that are re-makes revolving around American-made characters. This ain’t Wolverine or Iron Man, folks. No, this is good stuff. GOOOOOOD. Just count how many times I use “awesome” and “cool” in this review.
Here we have bright and saturated visuals, comedy, some pretty sweet action sequences, loveable characters, and enough drama and melodrama to keep a sieve full. And an interesting twist on athlete sponsorship.
This is Stern Bild, the bright city of the (American) future, where citizens are kept safe by the troop of the city’s resident heroes. But these heroes aren’t freelancers or government employees. No, they’re privately sponsored. After all, it takes big bucks to get those suits done at the dry cleaners. But that sponsorship doesn’t just mean they get corporate logos slapped all over them like a biker or racecar. No, they have to let camera crews follow them around, to broadcast their feats in reality-TV style.
Our main character is one of these heroes, Kotetsu, whose hero name is Wild Tiger. Back in the day, he was cool. But now he’s older, and has lost his shine. And his tween daughter thinks he’s an absolute dweeb.
When his current hero company goes under, he gets transferred to another, where they aren’t too thrilled about having an old has-been hero. So they make the unusual decision to partner him up with another hero, and sell them to audiences as a team. They pick one that has the exact same superpower as Wild Tiger. And it happens that this guy’s everything that Kotetsu is not: fresh, new, young, arrogant, no sense of humor, dutiful to the sponsors, and he uses his real name for his hero work. Everyone knows that heroes are supposed to have a secret identity! Young upstart.
So Kotetsu’s partnership with Barnaby Brooks Jr. gets off to a rough beginning. And it stays that way for a loooooong time, while Kotetsu keeps trying to loosen “Bunny-chan” up. (Yes, Barnaby is the ‘Bunny’ in Tiger & Bunny.) But Bunny isn’t a hero just to do good. He has a specific goal in mind, and he won’t let Kotetsu’s goofiness distract him.
It turns out they will both need to learn a lot about each other to get this partnership to work.
MOST EVERYTHING ELSE:
I tried a few minutes of some of the animes based on Marvel characters. I didn’t like them. And judging by their low MAL ratings, most other people don’t either. But this is an original story. Fresher, brighter, and with no comic book (or manga) to compare it to. But you can still see classic superhero roots, in the villains particularly. They’re generally very flashy, unlike real criminals. And hey, we even get a mad scientist.
Even though Tiger and Bunny are our main characters, there is a whole cast of heroes that they work alongside: ice-caster Blue Rose (who has a crush on Tiger), the fire-shooting Fire Emblem, wind-warping Sky-High, hunky Rock Bison, tomboyish Dragon Kid, and Japanophile Origami.
And there’s non-hero characters. Kotetsu’s daughter Kaede, his mom, his former boss Ben. His suit-maker, Saito, with the quiet voice (he gets his own subtitles, since apparently Tiger is the only one who can hear him). Agnes, the producer of HERO-TV, the reality show that follows the heroes around. Legend, the hero that saved Kotetsu as a kid, and encouraged him to become a hero himself. The rogue Lunatic, dispenser of vigilante justice, who I think most people wanted to get more screentime. (I wanted to see more of him too; after all, he’s the only guy whose suit had bell-bottoms. BELL-BOTTOMS.)
It has a couple of story arcs. Some are as short as one episode, and give us a close-up look at the life of one of the heroes in the story. Other arcs span several episodes, as our heroes battle the villain of the moment. But there are clues scattered throughout the series that are used later.
The action scenes are generally pretty cool. There isn’t one every episode, but when they come, they are, like, AWESOME!!!!
There’s comedy aplenty, of the light kind.
But what’s at the core of the show is DRAMA. Lots of it. If the scene involving the little boy and the trading cards doesn’t impact you some way, then you should just stop watching, because that’s the melodramatic slant in this show. There’s the drama of a dad trying to get his kid to say he’s cool. Promising to meet with her, but then having to break his promise because he has been called to an assignment. There’s the drama of a man whose goal is to take revenge for his parents who were murdered. You almost wonder if Barnaby suffers from depression, since he keeps getting bogged down in melodramatic angst, and takes it out on anybody who tries to get close to him. And the one who tries to do that is our very own Kotetsu. Barnaby is in serious need of some professional counseling.
Incidentally, there is a bit racial variety. Which is unusual for anime, but was probably obligatory since the story is set, after all, in a place much like the United States. We have a couple of black characters: The mayor of Stern Bild (à la Obama, I’m sure); Ben, who is Kotetsu’s former boss and current mentor; and Fire Emblem (a lot of viewers chew out his character because he is the cliché gay character you see a lot in anime; oh well, the makers are still Japanese after all). And Kotetsu and his family, and Saito are Asian…or more specifically, Japanese. No other kinds of Asians around apparently. And all the other characters are probably white.
The animation is very awesome. The setting is often the sparky-lit city at night. Outlining is done in brown instead of the usual black, so the everything looks “warm” and alive. Action scenes are done well. And there’s lots of CGI. Which makes some purists mad. The suits are where you see it most. Some people squawk at this, which isn’t fair, because it’s usually done pretty well, especially for the chunky suits that Tiger and Barnaby wear. The only place where it doesn’t work very well is Fire Emblem’s skin-tight suit. Though his cape with the creeping-flames pattern is cool. I’d want one of those myself.
Style. There’s lots of style. There’s something about this that almost says “superheroes are a fashion statement.” Well, that and the fact that Tiger and Bunny almost ALWAYS wear the same clothes. It’s just begging for people to cosplay them. And the music seems to fit in with the style. The music is cool. Awesomely awesome. It varies from jazz to opera and places in-between. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Pixar movie “The Incredibles.” Something about that retro-esque heroes-in-real-life feels very similar to this.
MAKE SURE to watch after the ED in each episode. Often, there’s a little bit of extra story at the end before the previews roll. And by then you might as well watch the previews too, since they’re usually narrated by either Tiger or Barnany, and begin with him saying “Hi, I’m Tiger, the member of Tiger and Bunny who wears a beard!” or something else idiotic. Also, the episode titles are all in English, and based off some proverb. Tiger doesn’t even try to say the next episode title, but Barnaby does, and sound pretty horrible. Some people said it was worth it to watch each episode just to hear Barnaby’s Engrish at the end.
Some viewers felt that the final arc in the series was a bit lame. I wouldn’t say it was terrible, but it definitely did go for the cliche situations of “superhero meets the big boss” and more. Not necessarily bad, but it raised the bar pretty high for itself by then. But fans are waiting to see if there will be a second season….
WHAT IT’S NOT:
It’s not primarily action. We don’t get a full-blown action sequence every episode.
It’s not primarily comedy, unless you want to laugh at Barnaby’s childish attitude, or Kotetsu’s blunders. Which ARE funny.
There’s very little ecchi. Unless you count Blue Rose’s costume.
There’s little romance. Blue Rose obviously has a thing for Kotetsu, even though he’s a generation older than herself. (It’s OK Blue Rose, I sorta do too.) Yaoi fans may be disappointed that nothing goes on between our two main characters. (Though that hasn’t prevented scores of Yaoi doujinshi from being made.)
It’s also not hugely….intelligent. I have to say this for people who are expecting an amazingly intricate and solid plot. While the story overall is good and throws a few cureveballs, there are some mental goofs. But that is all forgiven because the drama is SOOOO feel-good, and the characters are so loveable.
I can say I’m very happy to see this show as popular as it is. I wrote a review after seeing episode 4, when the show’s MAL rating was below 7. Now it’s above 8. I’m happy it’s getting love.
Unlike most shounen series which are primarily about an action or suspense-driven story, Tiger and Bunny’s partnership, or attempt at a partnership, is the main draw. You care about them, and the other characters. You REALLY CARE. You might even say this is meddling in seinen territory. Which is probably why this attracts viewers from all sorts of demographics. If you like drama, and a little action, comedy, nice music and animation, and an interesting setting, please, please give this a try. But beware. You might just get hooked.
I have been told that I recommend this anime a bit too much.
That’s because it’s so underrated. Every time i tell someone to watch it, they give me shit like “I don’t watch mech” or “Looks gay”
IT IS NOT FUCKING MECH. Learn to read the damn tags.
As for the gay part, people can ship whichever characters they want, doesn’t make it canon. As long as you avoid the doujins, you’re good. Unless of course you like that kind of stuff, which is perfectly fine.
I do admit the banner doesn’t look too appealing. Trust me, the anime looks much better.
Anime about people with special abilities are far from rare. But they are rarely done well. Tiger & Bunny is about people with special abilities called NEXT. Some of these NEXT are chosen by sponsors to be superheroes. These superheroes are in a competition on live TV. Hero TV is the most popular show on TV. The hero with the most point at the end of the season is crowned as the ‘King of Heroes’
I found the idea of commercialised superheroes to be really fresh.
What is more important, the competition or people’s lives?
The story explores the main duo. It highlights the contrast in their views of justice and what it means to be a superhero. Another notable character is a vigilante, Lunatic, who believes that all criminals must die. He also happens to be my favourite character, his backstory was really touching. I actually gave a shit about him, and I’m a sociopath.
It’s no just a mindless action, comedy though. It does make you think a bit. Since I didn’t open with a real quote, here you go-
“The justice you speak of is truly weak and frail.”
The character designs are unique and I quite like them. The costumes/suits are all very different.
The visuals are stunning, even Redline pales in comparison. There’s just a slight problem when the characters are in their costumes, the CGI is a bit jerky and looks weird. But this isn’t a major problem and is only noticeable in a few scenes. Other than that Eyegasm.
The two openings were very different from each other, but both were excellent. Orion wo nazoru is a cheerful song while Missing Link is a more emotional. The first ending was decent and the second was even better.
The voice actors did a brilliant job, especially Hirata Hiroaki.
I also checked out the english dub, but I wasn’t too impressed. I didn’t think Yuri Lowenthal was able to pull off Bunny’s character very well.
So I recommend sticking to the sub.
The OST is absolutely brilliant.
This is one of the major strengths of Tiger & Bunny.
Each and every character is well written. We are shown the backstory of all relevant characters. There is a considerable amount of development in most characters. The supporting characters especially standout.
Tiger is a 40 year old man, with a teenage daughter. This is one of the things which sets Tiger & Bunny apart. The main character isn’t a perfect teenager. He has several existing problems. Including his relationship with his daughter.
Bunny is a cliched character. But that’s one of the reason he stands out. cause he’s the only one like that.
Lunatic is my waifu.
Well we all love superhero movies and we all love anime. Why wouldn’t we love this.
The show really has something for everyone. Even a tad bit of fanservice, which you won’t specifically notice unless you want to. It’s pretty funny. And was a fun ride altogether.
It’s a 10/10 Masterpiece you will love it.
Now stop reading this shit and go watch it.
8: Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II
English: The World God Only Knows II
Japanese: 神のみぞ知るセカイ II
MAL Score: 7.91
Keima Katsuragi, the “God of Conquest,” returns to his quest of expelling runaway spirits that have possessed the hearts of women. Still stuck in his contract with the demon Elsie, he must continue to utilize the knowledge he has gained from mastering multitudes of dating simulators and chase out the phantoms that reside within by capturing the hearts of that which he hates most: three-dimensional girls.
However, the God of Conquest has his work cut out for him. From exorcising karate practitioners and student teachers to the arrival of Elsie’s best friend from Hell, he is up against a wide array of girls that will test his wit and may even take him by surprise. Though he would much rather stick to the world of 2D, he is trapped in lousy reality, and so Keima must trudge forward in his conquest of love.
The second season has the same look and feel of the first season as our “Capture God” Keima continue hunting for lost souls with Elsea. The duo goes after 3 girls this season: A tsundere sporty, a cooldere classmate, and finally a student teacher! This season certainly poses bigger challenge for our heroes.
Then, there is the second girl demon. With exposition not needed this season, two whole episodes and a filler dedicated to introduce her.
Once again, Keima’s game logic is put to test in real life. The absurdity of his value is still funny as ever, and the animation and sound do not disappoint in delivering the comedy.
Visually, it has not changed much from last season. The art in this series is generic style drawn to perfection, and characters are as visually pleasing as they could possibly be. The level of detail, especially the eyes and lighting, may even have improved. Camera movements are dynamic in action scenes, and there is not a moment of boredom.
OP song this season has lost the epic sense of the first season, but still accompanied by jaw-dropping overproduced opening animation that’s nothing short of amazing. Voicing once again is right on, and perfect sound mixing with appropriate BGM playing on every scene.
The second season got off to a slow start with Kusunoki, the lone member and captain of girl’s karate club. Her arc turned out to be very corny, but the ‘Dragon Quest’ recap in the first episode was absolutely magnificent. I would say it was a sign that the production staff has plenty of creativity left in store.
Next up is Haqua, Elsea’s former classmate. Instead of going after a set target, Keima helps her track down a loose soul she failed to capture. Haqua’s character was rather dull, generic clumsy type, but this arc goes on to explain the consequence of letting loose soul grow, and further emphasizes the importance of what the main characters have been doing.
Chihiro arc is similar to Shiori arc from the last season, with slow, bittersweet youth drama. The direction in this arc was by far the best this season, and once again, they went with a different pattern. Instead of straightforward “conquering” her, Keima helps her conquer another guy. The ending was obvious, but I liked how they changed things up so this series doesn’t feel as repetitive as it could’ve been.
Finally, Jun’s arc was the conquering of a teacher in training. The teacher is a stereotype teacher in popular TV dorama like ‘3-B Kinpachi-sensei’ or ‘Gokusen’, with high ideals about tough-love and trust, but things doesn’t go like dorama for her. This arc had the best character development and a positive message.
The second season is not quite as good as the first, but it shows Keima and Elsea tackling the problems using different approaches. After two seasons, this series still feels fresh. A sequel is not announced in the finale this time, but I’ll definitely see it to the end if it ever happens.
This all gives an interesting twist to the “Monster of the Week” dynamic, in that instead of having the main character fight monsters every week, the series has him seduce women.
There’s a nice mix of drama and comedy; most of the drama and serious aspects come from the emotional issues that the love interests face–whereas most of the comedy comes from the wacky personalities of Keima and Elsee. The transitions from dramatic to comedic scenes can be abrupt, but most of the time it doesn’t feel too forced.
During a comedic scene, the characters (particularly Keima and Elsee) often switch to a much more cartoony art style, which helps to add comedic affect. There’s also a lot of shout outs to various media, which will probably warrant a chuckle or two if you manage to understand any of the references.
The two protoganists of Keima and Elsee, although actually quite likable, come off as a bit one-dimensional. Keima is a genius boy wonder who considers reality “a shitty game,” and Elsee is an adorable demon who screws-up at everything…and there’s not really much else to these characters, as there is barely any character development throughout the series. This is justifiable in that the anime only covers the first 40 chapters of the manga, which as of this writing is an ongoing series with 174 chapters released. So when watching this 24 episode series, think of it as the beginning of a larger story than it’s own standalone thing.
The level of enjoyment watching this sort of depends on how willing you are to suspend disbelief to the fact that Keima uses his knowledge to win the heart of a woman not once, but multiple times. The fact alone that Keima uses his knowledge of dating sims to win the heart of women will probably come as a little implausible. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see how Keima strategize, and to see *how* he uses his knowledge of gal games.
With each story-arc by itself, each of the heroine’s love for Keima doesn’t really feel forced or unnatural–especially when you consider that these are women who have their emotional weaknesses amplified by an infesting demon. Each love interest is quite likable, and goes through a fair amount of character development; its somewhat remarkable considering that none of these characters get more than three episodes of screen time.
Overall The World God Only Knows is a fun and enjoyable series, albeit one that might challenge your suspension of disbelief depending on how you look at it (although only a little.) It has a nice blend of drama and comedy, and manages to make good use of its premise. If you like romance-centered cartoons, you’ll probably like this.
Overall: 6/10 (rounded down from 6.25)
+ Very funny and has good humour
+ Good ED Theme
+ One slight plot twist in the Chihiro arc
+ Very good character design with many variations
+ Strong male main lead
+ Good character growth
+ Some touching and emotional / romantic scenes
– Lack of overarching / engaging plot
– Lack of some coherence in the Nagase / Kusunoki arc
– Lousy OP Theme
– Lack of some important character development, especially in main characters
– Can be a bit boring towards the middle
– 2 filler episodes out of 12 of them
There are 4 main plot arcs to the story, 1 of them being an encounter with Haqua and a gigantic loose soul, and 3 of them being the regular “capturing” of loose souls by making girls fall in love with Keima – Kusunoki, Chihiro and Nagase. Once again, there is a lack of an overall plot line, though Haqua does shed a bit of light on the extent of this “loose soul” capturing contract – 60,000 more – but this adds nothing to the plot whatsoever, neither does it actually give us an indication about whether the end is coming.
The first arc, Keima encounters Kusunoki – a martial arts / karate tough girl who is basically struggling to reconcile her feminine liking for kawaii things (like cats and clothing), with her masculine fighter training and background. Nothing very ingenious here, sadly. Keima himself didn’t do much except take her out for a fun date which was honestly more for comic laughter than to drive to plot. In the end, Kusunoki resolved it on her own by “fighting” with her feminine side, eventually leading to an awkward compromise that, to me, didn’t really solve the main problem. Perhaps this anime was created too long ago and the writers were still stuck in their own gender stereotypes – but yeah, this plot arc didn’t shine too much. Also, Kusunoki randomly being “forced” awkwardly to kiss Keima at the end was very unconvincing.
In the second arc, Haqua comes in, and this is where things start getting interesting. She happens to drop by after failing to catch a loose soul, then gets Elsie’s help to capture the loose soul – after quite a lot of cooperation and hard work. Keima doesn’t really do much in this particular arc, which is actually quite good in my opinion, since it shows that the actual “demons” do have some ability to capture loose souls on their own – as long as the soul has not possessed anyone. There is also talk about how loose souls can possess even demons, and there is greater clarity about the difference between the civilized demons and the more “wild / loose” ones who wreck havoc on the earth – so that’s some much needed plot development right there. (+1 to interest, +1 to depth)
In the third arc, we get another interesting girl – this time by the name of Chihiro. Everything about her is uninteresting – she’s basically a wallflower / background character with no exceptional skills and nothing (basically, this character is someone the audience can empathize with the most). The plot for this one, however, gets a slight twist, which I thought was good, though it was kind of expected. Keima starts off trying to fill up Chihiro’s heart by helping her to make her crush fall in love with her – but it turns out that Chihiro turns back at the last moment, and Keima is forced to make her fall in love with him instead. I also think that out of all the girls so far, Chihiro is by far the most “realistic” capture of them all. As an ordinary girl with no particularly special powers bestowed on her, she reacts convincingly to everything that Keima throws at her. (+1 for depth, +1 for coherence)
In the fourth arc, the final one, we have student teacher Nagase, who used to be on the school’s basketball team captain – but disbanded the team after the members left the squad because Nagase was “too passionate” about basketball. I really didn’t like how this arc played out because it really didn’t make much sense. Nagase, as a teacher, tries to help Keima to get off his gaming during class – but she is convinced that this is because Keima is “lonely”. Clearly, Nagase has not seen the interaction between Keima and Elsie and how they are always inseparable.
After many awkward encounters with Nagase during lunch, in class playing games, Keima ends up going to watch a pro-wrestling match with Nagase – and he does so by stealing her seat, then making her share seats with him. First of all, you can’t possibly fit two people there without disturbing the rest of the people watching, and second of all, how the heck did Keima even know that Nagase was going to some pro-wrestling match? I know Elsie has information on Nagase, but this is only limited to background info, interest, hobbies, and doesn’t actually reflect what is going on in Nagase’s calendar / notifications / planner right?
After that match, Nagase does one last passionate thing in class before breaking down and heading to the basketball locker room, only to find Keima hiding inside her old locker – which is not only creepy, but almost impossible under any case. I’m not talking about whether Keima could actually fit inside, but if you check the time that Nagase had to reach the locker room and Keima, you would clearly see that Nagase had a headstart of around 30 seconds. Assuming both of them went directly to the basketball locker room – Nagase would have reached first, and there was no way that Keima could have squeezed himself into that locker in time, unnoticed, without leaving any traces such as an open door, a locker, or anything else whatsoever. Although to confirm this, we must have more information about how the “dummy swap” spell by Elsie actually works.
In any case, after Nagase was cheered up by her students, at the end, she probably had no reason whatsoever to go back and kiss Keima. This probably wasn’t even part of the plan. Keima had no intention of kissing her or romantically proposing to her – and somehow he was just there at the right time so that the loose soul could be captured? It was very forced toward the end of this arc, I felt.
We’re not even very sure if they went for the marathon in the end, because remember that Nagase signed all of them up without their permission? Firstly, is it really possible to sign an entire class up for a marathon without sufficient details like shirt sizes / NOK details / even making payment? Even if Nagase just used the school’s database of students – she would have to fork out close to $1000 just to register the entire class. The anime also never explicitly said anything about Nagase cancelling the marathon or the class going for the marathon in the end – they really glossed over this plot point, didn’t they?
As a whole, the story lacks quite a bit of depth, coherence, and only 1 of the plot arcs was actually very interesting. The rest were “ordinary” and were not very special compared to the previous captures.
Animation: 2/3 – The animations were spot-on, striking and very colourful
Aesthetics: 3/3 – I really loved the cute theme
OP Sequence: 2/2 – Very well choreographed intro scenes
ED Sequence: 1/2 – Nice, but could have been more interesting
OP Theme: 0/2 – Really bad. Stop it with those horrible English intros please.
ED Theme: 2/2 – Really good, upbeat and catchy. Why isn’t this the opening theme??
Background Music: 2/2 – These were mostly classical, and were used in all the romantic portions of the anime. They suit the mood really well.
Additional Themes: 2/4 – The comic / upbeat theme that plays at every start of an episode, the light hearted one, is really comfortable to listen to.
Once again, we will look at the main characters, Keima and Elsie, first.
Since the first season, Keima has gotten slightly more used to all this catching real-life girls stuff that it’s already second nature, and he’s already accepted his fate that he pretty much has to embark on a new mission every time the detector goes off “Doro doro doro…” As a character though, he has grown slightly, as by the end of the anime, he starts to accept reality more – and says that there might be an “ideal” path along the very sad real world that he must find. Keima himself however, still doesn’t have much of a backstory, and we don’t find out much about any other sides / back stories to his character – as not much of his life other than gaming is shown, or perhaps his entire life is just games. Keima as character remains interesting though, especially in the way that he strategizes his captures, though most of it this time, may have just been due to dumb luck. (+1 to interest, +1 to growth)
Elsie, too, has not changed much. She’s still her usual hyper-active useless self, and we honestly don’t know much about her past either – save for the fact that she was a classmate of Haqua – but it doesn’t tell us anything about Elsie.
Haqua, a new character in this series, is also another “tsundere” type, but maybe less so. She does come with some backstory – a demon who aces all the theory tests back in school, through sheer hard work and determination, but when it comes to the real world, she falls flat and can’t seem to replicate all the successes she had in the past – so that’s good, and it really helps to explain her frustrations / dissatisfaction with her current situation. She isn’t that interesting of a character though, and she also doesn’t exhibit much growth. (+1 to depth)
Moving on to the 3 main heroines, Kusunoki is another “tsundere”, but this time, it’s one that can really kick ass. Definitely one of my favourite character archetypes – the fighter girl – made famous by FFVII’s Tifa, that shows that pretty girls can pack a punch that will send you flying across the room. Kusunoki show’s some growth after doing girly stuff on a date with Keima, and also after “embracing” and “accepting” her feminine side. Kusunoki, in this manner has two sides to her, and makes her more multi-faceted than most other girls. (+1 for growth, +1 for uniqueness)
Chihiro, is the other less likeable character, that nobody likes and nobody dislikes either. She’s just the stereotypically normal girl with stereotypically normal interests and dreams – but since she is this way, you can really empathize with this girl – how she always feels inferior to everyone else who can do things better than she can, how she loses to someone in every department, singing, sports, studying, looks, you name it. But she eventually grows out of this depressing state and moves on to decide to start a band, despite knowing that she sucks at singing, just because she wants to follow her heart. (+1 for growth)
Finally, we have Nagase, the character that I’m not convinced would do so many crazy stuff just because she’s passionate about trying to get others to agree with her / follow along with her or trying to “help others” in ways that are usually over-the-top and hence uncomfortable for many people. Her personality is actually very linear – sure she has an interesting back story, but it only goes to prove one point – that Nagase suffers from “overdose of passion” syndrome and can’t understand that you can’t impose ideals on other people.(+1 for depth)
Nagase isn’t that interesting of a character either – and I thought that what Keima did with her was not anywhere near romantic enough to warrant that kiss at the end. All he really did was talk to her in a basketball court and told her to stop imposing her ideals on people, yet continue living out her own ideals for herself, and then it was straight cut to a scene where all her students came over to apologize and encourage her.
I definitely enjoyed this comedy, once again, with so many laughs here and there and all the funny cutscenes with Keima explaining things to Elsie who always has that clueless cute look on her face :3 The humour is really very good and is one of the few things that this anime executes perfectly. (3 points for good humour)
In terms of romance, I would say that there were some touching scenes – especially the scene on the boat with Keima and Chihiro. That was probably the one that I felt the most emotions for. The other two kisses by Kusunoki and Nagase were too forced, so I can’t give the romance bit too high this time around. Kusunoki going on a date with Keima was -slightly- romantic though, and it definitely was enjoyable to watch Kusunoki’s reactions to cute stuff (2 points for romance)
However, I have to say that there were honestly some parts of the show where I felt bored – mainly in the Chihiro arc where it seemed very circular in nature – like they were going nowhere, and the background music was so slow that it was making me fall asleep. Luckily, this was only for one of the arcs. (2 points for pacing)
Unfortunately there were some filler episodes – namely episode 8 and 12, so I can’t give it any bonus points.
Kami Nomi 2 seemed interesting, but as a whole, it was inferior to the first season. But I guess it’s still necessary to watch because of the characters who will be become main characters again in Kami Nomi 3 – so it’s worth watching if you intend to continue the series to season 3, which I believe will be the best out of the three.
7: Sekaiichi Hatsukoi 2
English: Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi – World’s Greatest First Love 2
Japanese: 世界一初恋 2
MAL Score: 7.91
First loves are messy. While settling in as a shoujo manga editor at the famous Marukawa Publishing House, Ritsu Onodera is quite troubled. Working under the stern and superb Masamune Takano is hard enough as it is. However, Masamune is not only Ritsu’s first love from middle school but he also suddenly declares that he will make Ritsu fall for him again.
Unknown to them, another editor in the department, Yoshiyuki Katori, is in a relationship with the popular manga artist Chiaki Yoshino. The carefree Chiaki fails to notice, however, that his high school friend—Yuu Yanase—thinks of him as more than a friend. The stoic but caring Hatori will not surrender his love so easily.
Falling in love for the first time when you are 30 is certainly troublesome. Shouta Kisa, yet another editor, is going out with 21-year-old Kou Yukina, an art student. Despite Yukina’s assurances, Kisa cannot help but doubt whether someone like himself is truly worthy of his younger, “sparkling” boyfriend.
The second season is better and has more plot than the first in my opinion. What excited me about the second season is that it has plenty twists in every couples’ story. I personally enjoyed Kisa and the book keeper’s story. It has a strong impact and heavy drama which will probably lead fujoshis in tears. Although there also cliffhangers which will inevitably make you hate the anime but all in all the story is what delighted me the most about SH 2.
Sorry I had to give this a tad lower score than the others but hear me out first. My reason kinda sucks actually, it’s because sometimes I get confused with the characters and I can’t tell which is which! It’s because some characters look almost the same. Same hair, same eyes, but, maybe it’s just me. I don’t know! I get confused a lot! Sorry but the art is just okay for me.
The soundtracks were cute although I didn’t take a liking to them at first.
I gave this a perfect score simply because they were all perfect. Everyone of them, although I have my personal favorites, the other characters aren’t to be overlooked. All of the pairings had this unbreakable and promising auras which will keep you wanting more of them. The antagonists were also good.
This anime is very interesting and commendable. Since this is the first yaoi I’ve watched, I don’t have much to compare it with, but it will leave you both laughing and in tears… and peeved.
Is there a problem with this anime? In the fact that it seems that it was written by a homophobe who wanted to ridicule gays and took all stereotypes about gay molesters, aggressive, perverted, the stereotypical division into seme and uke because in a couple two men must be woman and man.
Sekaiichi Hatsukoi’s problem is that the relationship he shows is a toxic hell. They can only be called hysterical, melodramatic, violent, manipulative, clownish, but not romantic. And I can explain it. The end of the first episode is disgusting.
Ritsu drinks at Takano’s house. And it’s okay, but suddenly sexual harassment begins. And Ritsu yells no, stop, but Takano sees what Ritsu is in. He is very drunk, and Takno starts mumbling romantic things in his ear, and suddenly the moment is interrupted. And we have a scene where Ritsu wakes up in bed and doesn’t remember what happened. Do I have to explain such banal things? A drunk person cannot consent to sex! What Takano does? Takano takes advantage of this state by manipulating him to get what he wants. In addition, Ritsu refuses to give him permission. I don’t need to say what it is.
This season differs from the first only in that Ritsu is no longer a victim of sexual harassment 24/7, and is getting a little closer with his “love”.
Takano doesn’t take Ritsu seriously. It shows all the time that you dominate it, it shows its ‘toxic masculinity, because I don’t even know what to call it. They can’t talk normally. Takano does NOT like Ritsu. Instead, talk to sexually harasses him. As in season 1, episode 3, he molested Ritsu or force kissed him. He treats him like a stupid kid, not an equal man and partner. Plus he plays the victim. How? Takano laughed in Ritsu’s face as he confessed his love to him 10 years ago. How is he acting now? Like a bad boy. He thinks Ritsu is a fool because he says something to him all the time like, “Dummy, I know you love me.” In addition, Yokozawa blames Ritsu for Takano’s depression after Ritsu quit him 10 years ago. No, Takano didn’t take Ritsu seriously, and Ritsu has the right to his own limits and doesn’t have to go out with such a person. In addition, Takano is jealous. Not as much as the famous molester, oh sorry writer Usami Akihiko of Junjou Romantica, who wouldn’t let poor Misaki go to meet his friends. He gets so jealous just the thought of seeing Ritsu with other guys. Humor is OK. Kisa and Yukina are great people for whom I give +10 points.
There are sweet moments. Yes, but it’s the same as coming to a crime scene and sprinkling glitter on everything. Or how to say that a tyrant neighbor who beats his wife is good because he kissed her once. It’s a toxic relationship because really cute moms get mixed up with real abuse.
I’m not surprised that Ritsu doesn’t want to deal with him. But this season he likes him more. Apparently, the beloved Stockholm Syndrome is starting to work because I don’t know what else.
I don’t even know what to say. This is better than Romantica? Are you kidding? Just because Romantica is officially a problematic anime that has already shot itself in the leg showing harassment, and more specifically, molestation? Sekaiichi has the SAME in the third episode of the first season. Sex manipulation in Junjou Episode 2? It’s the same in Episode 1 and Season 2. I am shocked because it is already considered good. Sekaiichi is the same garbage, but only less rapey. I am shocked and would not recommend this crap to anyone.
I have reviews for the first season, but I don’t even want to go back to that. I think I explained in TWO reviews why Sekaiichi is not much better, just less rapey and that’s it.
6: Hanasaku Iroha
English: Hanasaku Iroha: Blossoms for Tomorrow
MAL Score: 7.93
Ohana Matsumae is an energetic and wild teenager residing in Tokyo with her carefree single mother. Abruptly, her mother decides to run away with her new boyfriend from debt collectors, forcing the young girl to fend for herself—as per her mother’s “rely only on yourself” philosophy—in rural Japan, where her cold grandmother runs a small inn. Driven to adapt to the tranquil lifestyle of the countryside, Ohana experiences and deals with the challenges of working as a maid, as well as meeting and making friends with enthralling people at her new school and the inn.
There’s an age old belief that certain traits are passed down from parents to children, and like most ancient convictions, there’s an element of truth to this one. It’s a well known fact that much of a person’s future behaviour is learned during their formative years, and while it’s true that children will instinctively copy the mannerisms and behaviours of the role models closest to them (which in most cases means their parents), even trained professionals and researchers can’t fully explain the “inheritance” of less tangible traits like stubbornness, temper, perspicacity, etc.
But what does all that have to do with a show about a girl who goes off to work at a hotsprings inn? Well, not enough to be honest, and that’s biggest problem.
Hanasaku Iroha (The ABC’s of Blooming), is an original anime from P.A. Works that tells the story of Matsumae Ohana, a 16 highschool student who, due to a variety of circumstances regarding her mother, is forced to move away from Tokyo to live with her estranged maternal grandmother, Shijima Sui, at the hotsprings inn that she owns. Knowing that she has no choice in the matter Ohana tries to make the best of her situation, and at the request of her grandmother she begins working at Kissui Inn.
It all sounds like a fairly straightforward set up for some teenaged melodrama, and for the most part that’s what viewers will get. The plot is functional, but the anime can often have difficulty getting to the point or sticking to the storyline, and there’s little in the way of originality where the narrative is concerned. In addition to this there appears to be no real direction or cohesiveness with the progression of the series, and these factors may cause viewers to wonder when the story will offer up some actual development.
That said, there’s a surprisingly interesting subtextual thread that runs through the plot (which we’ll cover in a bit), but because of the numerous issues with the main storyline it’s often overlooked. The sad part is that Hanasaku Iroha would have had a much, much better storyline if Okada Mari had simply removed certain events from the screenplay and tightened up the narrative.
Thankfully, some thought seems to have gone into the visuals.
P.A. Works deserve some applause for the effort they’ve made in producing Hanasaku Iroha as it’s easily one of the better looking anime of 2011. The artwork tends towards realism rather than the cartoonish offerings of several titles I could mention, and while this allows for some rather picturesque backgrounds and settings, there are numerous occasions where the usage of various lighting effects create some truly stunning imagery. The animation is fluid, and unlike many other shows of this type, there’s a surprising range of movement for both people and animals.
The characters are an interesting mix of styles and shapes that can sometimes appear a little plain, but in actuality there’s a method to their design that may not be obvious at first glance. The thing to bear in mind is that the story takes place at a working hotsprings inn, and because of that Sekiguchi Kanami has tried to create a contrast with the picturesque surroundings.
One of the notable aspects of Hanasaku Iroha is the background music, or rather, the lack of it. There’s a nice variety of styles on offer ranging from pastoral pieces (which in some cases sound a bit like elevator music), to upbeat little ditties, but it’s the lack of musical accompaniment in many scenes that fits very well with the often quiet tone of the series.
Which is why the number of tracks used for the opening and ending themes seem … a little too much.
Like many 26 episode anime, Hanasaku Iroha features two main opening and ending songs that change over at the midway point of the series. The show begins with a surprisingly well put together sequence that introduces the more prominent characters, but the track used for this, “Hana no Iro” by Nano Ripe, is a fairly bland piece that only works because of some good audio/visual choreography. In contrast to this closing sequence is a simple montage of Ohana and her three friends that has been set to “Hazy” by Sphere. From episode fourteen the opening track changes to “Omokage Warp” by Nano Ripe (again), which is a far more upbeat song than the previous one, and while the animated sequence is different to that of the first OP, the quality and content are pretty similar. The closing song, “Hanasaku Iroha” by Clammbon, is a feelgood ballad set to an animated image of Ohana and her friends, but unlike the other sequences it doesn’t seem like much effort has been put into this one.
There are also two more ending themes, “Tsukikage to Buranko” (episode 6), and “Yumeji” (episode 8), once again performed by Nano Ripe, but there doesn’t actually seem to be any real reason for their inclusion so one has to wonder why they were used in the first place.
Given the fact that this is a highschool drama, one might expect a degree of overemphasis when it comes to the acting, but there’s surprisingly little of this in the dialogue. The script is well balanced between each of the roles, and while there are occasions where the seiyuu “fest it up”, in general the voice actors deliver some very good performances. In addition to this there’s a surprising, yet clear demarcation between the adult and teenage roles that is apparent not just in the manner of speech, but also in the language used.
One of the problems with the lack of direction and cohesiveness in the storyline is that it has a direct impact on the prominent characters, and this is the main reason why some viewers consider Ohana to be a very lacklustre lead role. Unfortunately, there’s little in the dialogue that can actually raise her above average, and while there are clear efforts made to develop her character, these can often seem contrived or unnecessary.
That said, it’s the supporting characters who really steal the show.
From Ohana’s mother, Matsumae Satsuki, to Kawajiri Takako, the business consultant for Kissui Inn, the adult roles are defined from the start of the series, and this makes a nice contrast to the somewhat vague characterisation of Minko, Nako and Yuina (Ohana’s friends). The series also makes the effort to further develop several of the supporting roles, and because of this the subtextual thread in the plot comes to light.
On the surface Hanasaku Iroha is nothing more than another teenaged melodrama, but underneath it’s also a story about family and role models, and that aspect of the series is far more intriguing than much of the exisitng plot. The relationship between Sui, Satsuki and Enishi forms the cornerstone of everything that happens at Kissui Inn, and unlike many other anime out there the series handles the dynamics of this in a very realistic manner. Thanks to the efforts made to highlight how each person affects the other two, several minor but key clarifications of the storyline become apparent, the most notable being the reasons for the estrangement between Satsuki and her mother, Enishi’s desperate attempts to win his mother’s approval and finally step out of the shadow of his sister, and Ohana’s festival wish at the end of the series.
Hanasaku Iroha isn’t as good as it could have been, but that doesn’t make it bad. If one is able to tolerate the tangents in the storyline then it really is a pretty decent show at its core, and it’s a fairly good depiction of working life in a hotel. That said, at 26 episodes this series really is far too long, and it can often feel like certain events or situations were added only to fill the required number of episodes. Unfortunately the detrimental effect this has on the character interactions may lead to some viewers giving up on the show entirely,
The sad part is that if the series had been trimmed down and the subtextual plot given more prominence, this could easily have been a contender for the best anime of 2011, but as it is right now it’s nothing more than another show that joins the ranks of “Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda”.
I enjoy slice of life. I really do. The problem I have with them is that it’s incredibly difficult to find one that isn’t terrible. The two biggest pitfalls I find with the genre are the lack of compelling plots and the lack of depth as the episodes get drowned in clichés. They often end up simply being boring as the episodes drag on to the formulaic beach/school festival/holiday routine in an attempt to entertain. Needless to say, I’m usually turned off by the introduction to a slice of life anime before I can even get into the series.
I watched Hanasku Iroha with massive heaps of cautious optimism. The entire premise sounded a little worrying. It tells of a teenage girl, Ohana, who experiences a set of circumstances that would send her to live and work with her grandmother, who owns and manages a hot spring inn of a small town. A hot spring inn staffed by mostly teenage girls? With that setup, fanservice seemed to be primary driving force.
Watching the first few episodes, I was pleasantly surprised. The characters had depth and were likable. The stereotype of the doting grandmother never got played out, settling for the minor stereotype of the “tough love” grandmother instead. There were actual obstacles presented to the characters. The events of one episode held consequences over the next episode. And for some bizarre reason, the anime that least needed fantastic animation had some of the best animation of the season.
The central message of Hanasaku Iroha is one about purpose. Ohana is pulled out of her comfort zone and sent into an unknown town. Here, the insecurities of her life are magnified. Here, she suddenly is faced with the uncertainty of where she wants to go in life. Here, she is forced to grow up, just a little bit. However, she embraces her new life and tries to find her place as one of the waitresses of the inn. She begins to learn more about herself, her place in life, and her family. Her resolve to face these challenges serve bring about change in the staff of the inn. Each member of the staff are faced with a crossroads on where they see themselves heading. As the story progresses, there is legitimate growth in each character. In the end, even the status quo of the inn is changed as a result of this growth with Ohana’s grandmother closing the inn to allow the staff to pursue their own dreams.
One of the best points of the series is how well they understand their audience. Each point that needs to be made is clearly made without underestimating the audience’s ability to understand. They show character development and conflicts rather than telling us about it. Some of the best scenes have no words at all, something that can easily be afforded with the animation quality. As a result, the plot doesn’t get too caught up in its own complications. They focus in on a situation just enough to get us tied to the characters before attempting to tug at our heartstrings.
As captivating and dramatic as it is, Hanasaku Iroha has its drawbacks. Remember that fanservice I suspected a few paragraphs back? It’s certainly here. It never completely dominates the series, but it doesn’t add anything either. My stance of fanservice is a disapproving one. I’ve never felt that it’s truly necessary for the female characters to disrobe for whatever reason or to include all these bath scenes. At best, it’s an odd scene to inject into an otherwise good episode; at worst, it is the entire series. Thankfully, the episodes that do include fanservice use them with a decent amount of restraint. Like I said earlier, it doesn’t harm the series as a whole. It’s just a bit unnecessary.
The romantic dramas within the series are a whole mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the drama they added and how it complicated the situation at the inn at times. Yet, the infuriating pacing and lack of closure on some of the stories really got to me. I know that the focus is supposed to be on the characters themselves while the romance is used to contrast their growth throughout the show. Then again, with the possible announcement of a second season, there should be plenty of time to flesh out those side stories in addition to showing us what the staff is up to now.
Hanasaku Iroha has reaffirmed my belief in slice of life series. It’s raised the bar for what will pass as entertaining and engaging and hopefully, it’ll continue to do so in its possible second season. I’m still going to approach these shows with cautious optimism, though. There’s just too much crap out there sometimes.
Everybody knows that “void” feeling you get when you finish a really great show. The feeling of emptiness that you feel when you finish a show that really connected with you or entertained you on a higher level. Only a few shows give you a feeling like this, and for each person the type of shows that can produce this feeling differ. For me, Clannad is the golden case of a show that gave me a void, because for months on end after finishing it, all I wanted to do was rewatch it.
Hanasaku Iroha is an anime that gave me my first “void” in quite some time.
Story – 7.2/10:
Hanasaku Iroha is a slice of life anime that follows the life of city-girl, Ohana, while she lives and works at her grandmother’s inn. Like most slice of life anime, the story does not necessarily follow a focused plot, and instead finds its niche in story arcs complimented by underlying themes and a very loose main character arc. The story by no means breaks any grounds or really stands out from the crowd in terms of its concept, but its execution are what elevate Hanasaku Iroha’s story from the crowd of slice of life anime. The story has many great character arcs that really get you attached to the characters. The themes in the story are also very easy to relate too. Whether its the idea of hard work pays off, the struggles of adapting to a new setting, failing to live up to your parent’s expectations, or simply struggling to gain the love of the one you want, Hanasaku Iroha tackles a slew of themes that many will connect with. Because of these themes, the show can get quite emotional at times, but the characters and writing does also open the door for some entertaining comedy. I also have to point out that the homestretch of the show does provide some edge of your seat entertainment as you desperately hope to find out what happens next. Slice of Life anime tend to limit themselves on how good their story can be due to a focus on a character driven plot, and Hanasaku Iroha is no exception. However, the execution and maturity of the story are without a doubt worth recognition.
Art – 8.6:
P.A. Works has yet to fail to impress me with their animation quality. They always manage to bring a really cinematic feel to all their projects and Hanasaku Iroha is no exception. The character designs are all great, as well as the varied settings. There were quite a few still frames, but seeing as the show wasn’t action packed, and with the lighting and colors being as beautiful as they were, this wasn’t much of an issue. Really, the art is just beautiful and really helps immerse you into the show.
Sound – 7.8:
The soundtrack to this show was great. The background tracks weren’t really that memorable or noticeable but that was fine given the kind of laid back tone this show had. However, when the show needed to get serious or emotional, the soundtrack did shine. Additionally, I must say that the first OP is absolutely fantastic. I didn’t skip it once while watching the show, and that is damn impressive for me. The voice acting was a bit up and down, but overall strong. Most of the characters were well portrayed by their VA’s but there was one character that was so frustratingly annoying with her nonstop Engrish that the voice acting portion of this grade has to take a dip down. But with the overall strong voice acting, and great, but not fantastic soundtrack, I still have to give this segment a high score.
Character – 8.2/10:
The thing that makes or breaks slice of life shows is its characters, and I must say that Hanasaku Iroha had a splendid group of characters. The first of the notable characters I will mention is Ohana. Ohana is the main character and a very outgoing teenage girl from Tokyo. She is forced to leave Tokyo and her best friend Ko (who admitted his feelings for her before she left), due to circumstances with her mom, and is now living/working at her grandmother’s inn. Ohana is a caring, hard working, and energetic girl that is extremely likeable. Next is Minko who is a chef in training at the inn. Minko is very sharp-tongued and mean, but she is also very dedicated to her craft and actually a nice person underneath her harsh words. And finally we have Nako, the timid girl who is a waitress with Ohana. All three of these girls, and really all the characters in general seem to initially fit a set, one dimensional archetype. However, the beautiful thing about this show is that every single character develops. The characters all learn new things about themselves and by the end of the show all become better, more likable people. What I think makes these characters so likable, even more-so than the outstanding development they have, is just how easy it is to relate to them, and how human they seem. They all have desires, struggles, and emotions that we all feel. The interactions between the characters can also be golden at times. The only thing holding the character section back here is the lack of a unique, stand-out type of character that you could find in some other shows like Code Geass (Lelouch), Steins;Gate (Okabe), or Haruhi Suzumiya (I wonder who). But really, with this kind of show, a more realistic main lead probably fits the role better than a wildly unique one. Oh… and Takako is pretty bad at first…
Enjoyment – 8.1/10:
Like I said in the into: This show gave me a void. I connected with the characters so much, that by the time the show was nearing its approach, I was feeling sad that it was going to end. Although I enjoy almost every anime I watch, Hanasaku Iroha for some reason just stuck with me better than the vast majority of others. It isn’t an edge of your seat thriller like Death Note, nor is it a laugh out loud comedy like , or a non stop tear jerker like Clannad. The atmosphere of this show is actually quite laid back, with some drama and humor here and there. But because I became so attached to the characters, I couldn’t help but feel a little empty when it was all over. This has become one of my favorite slice of life animes and I am so glad I decided to watch it.
Hanasaku Iroha is a beautiful anime that is truly in the top tier of the slice of life genre. It is not only visually and audibly stunning, but the themes and characters in this simple show really help make it one to remember. It may not have one primary theme, story, or ability that it really owns, but it impresses in every category that a slice of life should, making for a very enjoyable experience. By the time you finish this show, you will be wishing you could rewatch it all over again like you’d never seen it before.
A wonderful slice of life that feels how it’s supposed to: Real.
+Realistic themes and struggles
– No big emotional or intense scenes
– Ohana x Ko “relationship” is poorly paced
If you liked Hanasaku Iroha, watch…
Nagi No Asukara:
Also by PA Works with a very similar art style and similar themes of friendship and the idea that people and things all eventually change.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo:
Another fantastic slice of life anime with emphasis on hard work and dedication as well as strong characters.
7.98 – Wonderful
5: Mawaru Penguindrum
MAL Score: 7.97
For the Takakura family, destiny is an ever-spinning wheel, pointing passionately in their direction with equal tides of joy and sorrow before ticking on to the next wishmaker. With their parents gone, twin brothers Kanba and Shouma live alone with their beloved little sister Himari, whose poor health cannot decline any further.
On the day Himari is given permission to temporarily leave the hospital, her brothers take her out to the aquarium to celebrate, where the family’s supposed fate is brought forth with her sudden collapse. However, when Himari is inexplicably revived by a penguin hat from the aquarium’s souvenir shop, the hand of fate continues to tick faithfully forward.
With her miraculous recovery, though, comes a cost: there is a new entity within her body, whose condition for keeping her fate at bay sends the boys on a wild goose chase for the mysterious “Penguin Drum.” In their search, the boys will have to follow the threads of fate leading from their own shocking past and into the lives of other wishmakers vying for the Penguin Drum, all hoping to land upon their chosen destiny.
You know how everyone talks about this anime called Mawaru Penguindrum?
Just one single show can completely change your landscape.
Such a thought-provoking series is not made by mere coincidence.
It’s definitely… fate.
Of course, it’s not for everyone.
There are many mysterious, seemingly pointless story developments.
It’s hard to accept abstract ideas that start with nothing but confusion.
But I think… Every line of dialogue, every object drawn in the show exist for a reason.
Nothing in this show is pointless.
What if I asked viewers what anime was like before they have seen Mawaru Penguindrum?
They’ve forgotten what it was like when they didn’t?
You could say anime today isn’t hopeless thanks to this show.
The feeling of noticing perplexing symbolism.
Hearing the sound that you’ll never forget.
Plot twists at startling rate.
This show can change your perspective of anime in a heartbeat.
Apples, diaries, penguins, and even the color of trash cans…
seemed like treasures filled with possibilities when I saw them with an open mind.
But… I can’t go back now.
I can still watch generic anime.
Although, I can’t recall what I liked about them.
Sometimes I wonder why there aren’t more deep, meaningful anime like this.
The next season’s lineup appear awfully uncertain to me right now.
Like Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki’s cat.
A half-cute, half-round, manly cat.
On the other hand, if there has to be shallow series to make deep ones more enjoyable…
then everything must have a meaning.
That’s what I would like to think.
Mawaru Penguindrum starts with mystery.
Storytelling here is like a true Japanese movie: Subtle.
Main heroine here is Oginome Ringo.
The stalker of main characters’ teacher.
She builds an observation post below the teacher’s house from scratch.
A charismatic yandere in modern Tokyo.
It’s a penguin eat dog world.
The “real”, heroine in the second half is useless in the first half.
Girls like her should just get netorare!
Gosh, you must watch this series to the end.
Mawaru Penguindrum will keep you thinking.
Abstract ideas here are like puzzles: Thought-provoking.
Main heroine here is Takakura Himari.
The sister of main characters.
She’s sick from a terminal disease.
A tragic princess in the border between life and death.
It’s a world of duality.
The brothers stop searching for an unknown object called “Penguindrum” and try to keep her alive from scratch.
Journeys like that should be more important than destination!
Gosh, I must watch this series again.
Do you like beautiful imagery in anime?
Do you like allegory and careful attention paid to every detail on the screen?
Of course you do!
I feel the same way.
Or rather, I can only love beautiful artwork.
After all, I am an anime enthusiast.
There are so much detail in every single frame that will make more and more sense by the episode.
That’s why you must not only watch this series, you have to watch it again.
Viewers who don’t do this are ugly and stupid.
They can’t appreciate the art in Mawaru Penguindrum.
Listen well. No one loves mindless viewers. They don’t have the right to be loved.
It’s a pretentious anime, after all.
Artwork in ‘Mawawru Penguindrum’ removed the impurity in the background, such that only beauty remains.
Just as the great Ikuhara produced the magnificent ‘Shoujo Kakumei Utena’ from storyboards.
So, I have a favor to ask of you.
Give yourself the opportunity to see this masterpiece. Let yourself see the beauty in this series.
It’s Fabulous Max!
Action, comedy, suspense, joy and sorrow, calmness and anger.
If BGM didn’t reflect the mood on screen, then why do they even exist?
Because, ever since that very first episode, music in the background matched perfectly with the story.
The only thing we heard were true theme songs and BGM… Music to our ears.
Isn’t it electrifying?
Listen, you lowlifes who will never amount to anything.
Obtain the TL notes from my blog.
Let’s initiate the Survival Strategy.
Why are people born?
If people are born only to suffer through shallow anime,
is it meant as some kind of a punishment?
Or a cynical joke?
If that’s the case, viewers who adhere to their innate curiosity programmed in their DNA…
are far more elegant and simple.
If there really is a 2011 anime worthy of watching,
then, it must be called Mawaru Penguindrum.
I love anime that deal with “fate”.
You know how everyone talks about this anime called Mawaru Penguindrum?
If you were able to read through this wall of text, you probably have what it takes to enjoy this series.
I didn’t write the review in this format by mere coincidence.
It’s definitely… fate.
Of course, it’s not for everyone.
There are many unpredictable twists and unexplained mysteries.
It’s hard to fully understand the meaning of all the allegories and symbolisms in this series.
But I think…
Every line of dialogue, every object drawn in this series exist for a reason.
Nothing in this show is pointless.
Practically, the whole anime in itself is a pure symbol of what you may think is a child’s play is actually much more than that.
The thing that made me drawn into the anime was pretty simple, the cute little blue penguins. I barely took the anime that seriously because I don’t really check out the summary of an anime just for an element of surprise and the picture cover of the anime made it look like a children’s show. The first few episodes did turn out to be a joke and I had a great time laughing and admiring the fun atmosphere the anime was giving. But once the anime started to take the story in a different direction the anime turns into an anime worth raising an eyebrow for.
During the start of the anime, more likely the word “fate/destiny” does keep on repeating a dozen of times and mainly that is the general story line. Likely avoiding the destined future a person takes is not plausible — and so that’s when the penguindrum comes. Symbolism can never die down in this anime and it is unavoidable. What is unique about how the anime’s flow of story goes is the endless amount of flashbacks you will receive in every episode. It surely is annoying and confusing because they do show you flashbacks in random but then it isn’t much likely a bother if you are serious about getting to know this anime better. Another word you’ll be hearing a lot of times in this anime is “punishment” and in life happiness doesn’t come along the way you like it. There will always be hard times and consequences no matter how painful it is. The way I see with this anime a reward has to be equal to its punishment — but I think that’s just me. The greatest part of the anime for me was the ending. I think it was a pure masterpiece. I was overflowing with tears and anger but if you look at it in the story line itself and the meaning of destiny that ending did not fail to surprise me. An ending worth crying and worth inspiring.
Practically the reason is that once we see a colorful piece of artwork the logical meaning is “fun & happy” but that picturesque is just a cover up and so that’s when the “Psychological” genre clearly explains it. The bright colors was well-spot on with the anime. I always loved the transformation part of Himari. The splashing of colors, the angle shots and the well-detailed animation are all worth praising for. The opening and ending animations are both done beautifully. If I may, the Opening Animation or even the title screen of Mawaru in itself holds a lot of clues. They sure took their time planting these clues very well and hiding it from the viewers and with these colorful images it is a very bright idea that the director was hiding the “main” plot.
One of the best soundtracks out there. I fell in love more with the OSTs rather than the Opening and Ending songs. What is so great about these OSTs is that the music is so perfect with the scene it was trying to match. My favorite OSTs would be “The Children of Fruit and Destiny” or “Unmei no Ko Tachi” — listen to it and let the music feel you. I still cry to this OST and it still holds a deep meaning to me.
Excellent character development. The characters made this anime possible. Let me remind you, this has a psychological genre so more likely you’ll see a lot of out-of-the-box characters. The anime didn’t just focus on the four main characters but also all those characters around them had a big role in the anime and what can be more realistic than that. Today, we live our lives thinking that the people around us are just individuals who will be nothing more than just strangers not knowing that these people can change our life or more likely our destiny and that’s how Mawaru Penguindrum explains it so well. The beautiful way of how the director connects all these minor/major characters makes you ask at how much more can this anime get more realistic as it is.
One of the most rare animes that truly uses my brain to unfold the story. As I go beyond the episodes it becomes more intriguing and exciting. So much were happening in this show that I actually grabbed a pen and paper (literally) to try to unfold the life of all of these characters — and it was a bliss. For a show to be called as an “anime” that kept me pre-occupied with questions was something I haven’t really experience in my time being of watching animes and that’s what makes this show so special. Penguindrum also holds my most favorite anime quotes. This is so far the only anime that truly made me experience happiness, sadness, anger, suspense and even madness. It practically is the only anime that moved me to think over my life (I know, what the hell) and the great deal of Penguindrum being able to touch me so much is a much better work than any masterpiece.
Mawaru Penguindrum is not like any normal anime. It’s a work of art that is in need of 100% of your attention and fairly “a lot” of brain power. Like any great literary piece, not all would understand the point of view of the creator but then if you are able to, most especially in Penguindrum, you’ll feel how beautiful this creation is.
Mawaru Penguindrum falls under both definitions.
What Kunihiko Ikuhara of Utena-fame has created here is a show that takes philosophical musings on themes such as fate, love and death; and combines them with slapstick antics involving ghost penguins and ping-pong balls that erase people’s memories.
If that sounds difficult to take seriously to you, don’t bother watching this show. It’s going to get a lot weirder.
The overall product is audacious, if nothing else; presenting the story 2 brothers, Kanba and Shoma, who promise to help a mysterious entity track down an object called the Penguindrum in a desperate attempt to ward off the death of their sister, Himari. Their quest has them run into a slew of messed up characters and situations, and before long the narrative turns into a complete mess.
There are several reasons for this.
A big problem is that the series has absolutely no regard for logic and consistency, even within its own narrative. At the start of the series, Himari is brought back to life after succumbing to an incurable disease. Her death and subsequent revival are treated as tragic and miraculous, respectively. Makes sense. What doesn’t is that this is repeated several times over the course of the series, treated with the same impact every time. Viewers, however, might be puzzled or annoyed by this repetition seeing as it raises the question as to how severely this series treats the concept of death. This is exacerbated once another character reveals that he’s been dead for over a decade, after which the story moves on, completely unaffected by the revelation.
Character development also tends to be very inconsistent. Motivations, personalities and even backstories can change from one scene to the next just to suit the needs of the plot. The aforementioned memory-erasing ping-pong balls are liberally used to retool previously established plot-points to the narrative’s convenience.
Other, basic issues also plague the storytelling: many of the back stories feel interchangeable (crappy childhoods galore), some characters who get a lot of screen time end up being completely insignificant while others are introduced seeming important only to be forgotten about before anything could even be done with them. The latter goings-on of the story also feature hackneyed developments involving terrorism, delusions (it’s all in your head!) and cliffhangers (someone was stabbed! but who?) that end up not mattering in the slightest.
Most damning of all, however, is the clumsy way the overall product comes together. The shifts in tone – from whacky to dark and vice versa – are as frequent as they are jarring, and it all too often feels that the subjects about which characters are philosophizing have very little to do with the story of two brothers who are attempting to ward off that which should be inevitable.
*WARNING! The following paragraph contains spoilers about the general tone of the ending! WARNING*
Speaking of which, the ending cops out on that in a major way. The series spends a lot of time emphasizing how ordinary people are powerless in the face of fate and that struggling against the inevitable will often result in greater tragedy. One would expect such a story to end on a tragic note as is befit for a something that fancies itself an exploration of fate, but the actual ending turns out rather bittersweet; mostly leaning towards the sweet considering the dark events preceding it.
All that said, the series must certainly be praised yet again for its unique style. This show isn’t just different for the hell of it. Ikuhara combines audio and imagery in striking ways, constantly delivering scenes that will shock and surprise. Even if you end up disliking the series, there’s a definite guarantee that you’ll remember it. Which is more than can be said for a lot of other stuff.
In closing, I’d like to say that while many others would opine that the Mawaru Penguindrum’s unique style, impeccable direction and interesting themes make for a wonderful anime, I think that there are too many issues with the overall product to really consider it great. Many of which, I feel, can’t be chalked up to mere artistic idiosyncrasy.
MAL Score: 8.21
As a child, Moritaka Mashiro dreamt of becoming a mangaka, just like his childhood hero and uncle, Tarou Kawaguchi, creator of a popular gag manga. But when tragedy strikes, he gives up on his dream and spends his middle school days studying, aiming to become a salaryman instead.
One day, his classmate Akito Takagi, the school’s top student and aspiring writer, notices the detailed drawings in Moritaka’s notebook. Seeing the vast potential of his artistic talent, Akito approaches Moritaka, proposing that they become mangaka together. After much convincing, Moritaka realizes that if he is able to create a popular manga series, he may be able to get the girl he has a crush on, Miho Azuki, to take part in the anime adaptation as a voice actor. Thus the pair begins creating manga under the pen name Muto Ashirogi, hoping to become the greatest mangaka in Japan, the likes of which no one has ever seen.
The true meaning of the title was never revealed, but most speculators believe it’s short for ‘BAKUchi MANga.’ (Gambling Manga). It is a simple tale of two middle school guys setting out to become professional manga artists. The story progresses like any other sports or music anime, where ordinary guys aim for the top, facing many challenges and rivals on the way. However, I consider this to be the greatest shounen/seishun (coming of age) genre anime I have ever encountered, because it analyzes what makes a manga good in a coherent way, and more importantly, it practices what it preaches.
This is a review by EIGHTHSin, and contains many spoilers. Read it at your own risk.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are SEVEN major steps to manga creation – Name, under-sketch, inking, filling, effects, screen tone, and whiteout. I’m no expert in manga drawing, but with this series being a manga about manga (which actually got serialized), I have no doubt this is correct. Of course, this anime alone is not nearly enough to teach you about how to draw manga, but it is quite enough to entertain a casual viewer like me. The show also emphasizes the difficulty of the process, that one cannot hope to succeed half-heartedly.
As the character mentioned in the first episode, “Manga is the Japanese cultural heritage popular across the globe.”
This NHK series is extremely educational not only in introducing the process of manga creation, it also debates many other aspects of mang such as: how things work in a weekly manga publisher; the selection process; how artist stay serialized; the importance of target demographics; and argues how things ought to be in the industry. In addition, famous classic and current manga series and their authors are mentioned throughout this series without alteration of any sort, which functions as a masterpiece suggestion for new manga readers. It even directly quotes them, re-enacts DBZ “fusion”, and uses quirks like Naruto’s “-dattebayo”. I take this to be a stamp of approval from those authors, and also to pressure themselves to create a masterpiece worthy of mentioning those names. The show uses real-life examples as case studies to explain its theories.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are SIX key elements to a successful shounen manga – A world that pulls the readers in, clear reason why protagonists are fighting, battles where it’s easy to tell what’s happening, equally or even more intriguing antagonist, a cute heroine, and some laughs or tears.
The first episode had an extremely strong pull – The tested and tried “average joe whose life changed by a trigger event”, in this case, Takagi’s request to be a partner. The turn of events leads to a promise of marriage upon realization of dreams, which serves as the clear reason why the protagonist wants to get his manga serialized, which is the first step to getting an anime series.
The story then goes on to show them making manga, meeting their ‘opponents’ in manga contests, and their manga are actually shown… even with a clear ranking measurements to determine a winner – easy to tell what’s happening in the battle.
Then, there is Niizuma Eiji, the prodigy archrival of the protagonists, who is extremely intriguing, and happens to follow the “Introduce an enemy character, he’s even stronger than protagonists, but turns out to be an ally” as mentioned during the ‘CROW’ production.
There’s the cute heroine in Azuki, and the show has many comedy and tear-jerker moments to keep the audience interested throughout the series.
I find it interesting that the shows makes many observations that we probably don’t consciously realize when casually reading manga, and even more interesting that if we pay close attention, almost EVERY observations of a successful manga made in this series are actually reflected in the series itself. In fact, it was also mentioned that most shounen protagonists wield swords, and if you think about it, the protagonists in this show brandish their pens in “battle”.
The protagonists make FIVE manga series in the first anime series – ‘The Two Earths’, ‘A Millionth of’, ‘The World Runs on Money and Wits’, ‘Angel Days’, and ‘Quasi-Detective TRAP’.
‘The Two Earths’ is their very first manga. It serves as introduction to the manga creation process.
‘A Millionth of’ shows the difficulty of getting a prize in manga contests, and introduction of various styles of manga.
‘The World Runs on Money and Wits’ functions as their confidence booster, as well as their gateway to future successes.
‘Angel Days’ is used to show the qualities of typical shounen manga, and the importance of choosing manga that fits each author style.
Finally, ‘Quasi-Detective TRAP’ is their success of the series, and its production process emphasizes the bond and friendship between the two main characters.
The story follows the standard shounen format with many seishun elements. The good guys work hard to realize their dreams while encountering one obstacle after another. After clearing each obstacle, they “level up” by becoming better artists and attain better understanding of themselves. Like all seishun sports or music anime, there are consistent themes of awkward youth love, challenges of being a student, and the importance of friendship.
The protagonists set FOUR years as their goal for their anime debut. This is the prime reason why Mashiro is always in such a rush to make manga, and frequently shows his impatience.
The main characters in this series are extremely human, and they act according to their own desires to make their dreams come true.
Takagi has the ambition of becoming rich and famous, and he gave up the “mainstream” path of elites (get good grades to get into a prestigious university) for his love of manga and became a true “gambler”.
Azuki follows her dream of becoming a seiyuu and moves to Tokyo, while stubbornly limits interaction with Mashiro to motivate both herself and Mashiro.
Miyoshi truly acts on her desires, and can’t help but reveal secrets of others and butting into their business.
Niizuma also acting on his desires, but in a different way, drawing what he pleases and doesn’t care what others think about him.
Hattori sees promise in Ashirogi, and does everything, even some “dirty adult tricks” to make them succeed.
What I’m trying to get at, is that the characters are interesting, and they “move on their own” according to their desires. I have to say, they are *too* human at times, and causes their actions and motivations to detach from reality, but as a fantasy and dreams shounen series, this is totally acceptable.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are THREE requirements for a successful mangaka – Conceit (Confidence), Effort, and Luck.
One of the major themes in the series is to have “Confidence” in yourself to follow your dream.
To follow that dream, the protagonists put a lot of “Effort” into manga, sacrificing sleep, school, and even time for girls in order to become successful.
Further more, “Luck” is prevalent in this series. However, it remains realistic due to many setbacks they face, just as they would in the harsh reality. The protagonists consists of a relative of a mangaka and a guy who’s getting the best grades in school yet interested in manga. Right off the bat, they have been dealt pocket aces as “gamblers”. Still, they don’t become an overnight success. It took a lot of sacrifices and effort, and after 5 manga series, they finally made it to an authentic weekly magazine.
This series isn’t just a fairy tale. It successfully shows the difficulty of making a living with manga, and shows the harsh reality that only the most talented *and* hardworking succeed. They were dealt another lucky card in getting Hattori as the editor, who truly cares about the authors and preciously “raises” them as mangaka.
As a shounen manga, a convenient setting is actually preferred. The key is how realistic the story develops given the fantasy-filled premise.
I especially loved a subtle snippet of reality in Mashiro’s family. Where the breadwinner and the eldest of the family call the shots in home, like when father and grandpa straight up shut off the mother in roundabout ways, with the “Decision-making process” in his home and “Please get me seconds (refill my bowl)” by grandpa. It’s outdated and somewhat sexist, but the harsh reality in Japanese culture.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are TWO types of successful mangaka – “The Genius-Type”, and “The Calculating-Type”.
The anonymous author of this series is the same as that of ‘Death Note’ series, and it is also clear in this series that the storyteller is the “Calculating-Type” just like the protagonists. In other words, he “calculates the laughs and tears in a way that doesn’t seem to be calculated, through calculation.” Obviously, this is not going to work on everyone, so we will all have different opinion, but the story is extremely well-constructed, and the anime direction presented the plot in very interesting ways. It’s easy to sympathize with the characters.
I believe the ONE single most important theme in ‘Bakuman.’ is the love for manga. Both protagonist and antagonists in this series really have passion for manga. It really shows how much love the author has for this series, and manga in general.
The series points out flaws in Shounen Jump (“Shounen Jack” in series), the only real-life title altered in the anime. The show communicates to producers in the real life through its characters.
For example, there shouldn’t be any politics in manga selection, like rejecting student submission or favoring popular authors – “Anything interesting will be published.”
The potential incompetence of editors, in their heavy reliance of survey to determine which series gets cut off – “Manga written for votes rather than true quality.”
The need for manga to have a strong pull early due to selection process of using names of first three weeks and the threat of cancellation due to votes – “The lack of series that slowly draws the audience in, and consequently series being approved without long-term prospects.”
Manga published in order of popularity – “Creates unfairness for new and aspring authors.”
How audience like stereotypical stuff that stifles creativity – “All popular series have swords”
The young mangaka depicted in this series have hinted how they wanted to change Shounen Jack when they get popular. Perhaps the author of ‘Bakuman.’ wanted to do the same with this show as well.
‘Bakuman.’ is the “mainstream among mainstreams” in terms of shounen anime, but has the dreams, the inspiration, the depth, the entertainment value, and of course, the laughs and tears unmatched by any other. It also has the uniqueness in being a manga about manga and an anime about anime. In terms of contribution to the industry, this easily ranks among the most significant series to be aired in this century so far, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
I’ll start by giving credit where credit is due. This anime is an AMAZING look into the manga industry and the lives of mangaka. By the end of the show, I felt like I knew how to create a manga of my very own and it told me how I too could get it published in a weekly magazine. It also told me why I wouldn’t ever want do that in a million years. Being a mangaka is hard, and Bakuman shows us that in spades. It cleverly uses Ashirogi Muto’s emotions to give a clear understanding of how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. That’s certainly where this anime shines the most. So, what’s wrong with it? Well…
Although Bakuman uses Ashirogi Muto well in some cases, it completely fails at making them likable in the slightest. Mashiro is an arrogant love struck teenager who has a crush on some girl he’s barely ever made any interactions with, and Takagi is just the plain boring smart yet doesn’t act smart kind of character. I’m sorry if I’m being a little harsh, but in an anime that tries to show a realistic representation of the challenges in the manga industry, making the main characters get away with absolutely everything that would probably get them fired just from the power of pure arrogance and a tad bit of plot-armour just doesn’t sit well with me. And that’s not even talking about the most forced romance in anime history.
Mashiro decides his entire future based off of a promise he made to girl he had a slight crush on. That’s would be pretty fine, if not still a bit stupid, if it weren’t for the fact that they drag out this completely uninteresting romance for the ENTIRE SERIES. And they only ever talk directly about 3 times. 3 times! The show rubs it off as being their own way of expressing love or some shit like that, but it was just painful to watch from start to finish.
Not all the characters are bad. Whilst most of the best ones don’t really show up that much till season 2, Niizuma Eiji is by far the best character in this show. I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say that he’s fun to watch every time he shows up on screen and his passion for manga makes you route for him all the way.
Overall, I can see the appeal of this anime. I really can. But the characters and story were just so uninteresting for the most part that I cant bring myself to like this anime. If what I just told you puts you off watching this in anyway, then stay clear. There’s much better anime out there.
You’re still probably going to end up watching it after reading the other reviews anyway, aren’t you?
Oh, and the music isn’t that memorable. I forgot that part.
NOTE: This review covers all 75 episodes of Bakuman.
Contains Minor Spoilers
If I could describe the story of Bakuman in one sentence it would be something like this: Bakuman is a tale about two best friends, Mashiro Moritaka and Tagaki Akito who want to become Japan’s greatest mangakas. Their journey is long and filled with laughter, cheers, tears, courage and romance. The personal lives of our mangakas contain a lot of twists and drama which makes the story more engaging than one would expect. The story is engrossing and so well written that I wish some of the stories and ideas that the characters come up with for their manga were real.
One word, beautiful. Obata Takeshi is an extremely talented artist. His art matches perfectly with the uplifting story and bright atmosphere of Bakuman. Character designs are drawn very realistically however from time to time designs are exaggerated for slapstick purposes, and it actually manages to be extremely funny. The backgrounds are extremely detailed, from the art pens and work desks to the manga posters spread throughout the series. You can even see Mashiro’s writer’s bump callus from drawing so much. It’s amazing how Obata manages to come up with different art styles for the different manga in the series. Whether it’s dark, gloomy and serious or bubbly and flashy, the art always manages to be entertaining and eye catching.
I enjoyed every single song used in the show, particularly “Blue Bird” by Kobukuro and “Moshimo no Hashi” by nano.RIPE. The voice acting was top notch. All the seiyuus did a fantastic job, especially Morita Masakazu and Okamoto Nobuhiko, who were hilarious and constantly had me rolling on the floor.
Bakuman’s greatest strength lies not in its story, but in its characters. Mashiro and Takagi are fantastic leads that fit the theme of the story perfectly because through them we see the struggles mangakas go through in order to get serialized and the constant battle to keep on being serialized. Both of them care for one another deeply and through ups and downs, together they always keep pushing forward. The supporting cast is one of the most likeable and funniest I’ve ever seen. From the fellow mangakas to the editors everyone felt like they had a purpose and helped contribute to the story. I loved every single character however I felt Niizuma Eiji and Hiramaru Kazuya stood out above the rest. They were eccentric, funny and just plain damn fun to watch. And like I said previously, Morita Masakazu and Okamoto Nobuhiko portrayed the characters perfectly.
Bakuman is one my all time favourite anime. It’s not philosophical, cynical, depressing or about the downfall of humanity. It’s not the anime to end all anime. I just love it because it was so fun to watch. I forgot about my problems for 75 episodes and that’s why I watch anime, to have fun. A great story, beautiful art, a catchy soundtrack and a well developed cast of characters, please give this one a try.
3: Bakuman. 2nd Season
MAL Score: 8.37
With the serialization of their new manga, “Detective Trap,” the writer-artist team, Akito Takagi and Moritaka Mashiro, better known by their pseudonym Muto Ashirogi, are one step closer to becoming world-renowned mangaka. For Mashiro, however, serialization is just the first step. Having promised to marry his childhood sweetheart and aspiring voice actress, Azuki Miho, once his manga gets an anime adaptation, Mashiro must continue his to popularize Ashirogi’s work. A tremendously competitive cast of ambitious mangaka—including the wild genius, Eiji Niizuma; the elegant student, Yuriko Aoki, and her older admirer and partner, Takurou Nakai; the lazy prodigy, Kazuya Hiramaru; and the abrasive artist, Shinta Fukuda—both support and compete against Muto Ashirogi in creating the next big hit.
As they adjust to their young and seemingly untested new editor, the dynamic duo struggle to maintain their current serialization, secure the top stop in Shounen Jack, and ultimately, achieve an anime adaptation of their manga. With new rivals and friends, Bakuman. 2nd Season continues Takagi and Mashiro’s inspiring story of hard work and young love.
The first season of Bakuman was great, the story, the characters, the atmosphere fitted perfectly, though It did suffer from pacing problems and could of been adapted better. This time however, J.C Staff has stepped up their game, managing to fix those problems and make Bakuman 2 one hell of a enjoyable anime and probably the best slice-of-life series I’ve seen yet.
= Story  =
Bakuman starts exactly where it left off from the first season and gets right into the story. I won’t say much to avoid spoiling it for people who happen to see this review before watching the first season but this season has a lot more drama and romance, which make for some very intense scenes and memorable moments.
Something, that is unique to the story of Bakuman is how realistic it is. The two main characters aren’t always successful and positive like you find in most shonen series and there isn’t any shock twists which would be impossible to find in a real life situation, well maybe one.
= Art  =
I never get tired of the art in this series, It’s amazing how J.C Staff can make the manga illustrations look so realistic and the amount of detail and effort they put into the backgrounds.
The character designs are nothing special but they don’t really need to be, If anything, the only character design I can fault is Shuujin’s/Takagi’s, It’s just that he looked a lot different and a lot better in the manga, though I don’t really mind the change.
= Sound  =
I have to admit, I didn’t like any of the first seasons OP and ED’s that much, though Bakuman 2 has some great ones which really suit the story-lines in this season. The OST remains nearly entirely the same in this season, which is a good thing since it doesn’t feel overused yet and suits the anime perfectly.
All of the VA’s do a great job reprising their roles and the newcomers fit their parts perfectly in my opinion.
= Character  =
There’s a lot more Character development this time around, which is welcomed especially for the minor characters such as Aoki and Nakai, who really annoyed me at first, but then actually became likeable.
The romance side of Bakuman shines through a lot more this time around, which also helped character development a lot, though some of the relationships became a bit boring and repetitive during the the second half of the story.
Bakuman 2 is one addicting ride, the story and the characters really draw you in and makes you want to finish the whole series in one go, which not just any anime can emulate.
If you’re a fan of first season, you’ll love this sequel, all the spirit and fun of the manga and prequel are maintained in Bakuman’s second anime outing, which leaves us eagerly awaiting the third season.
Overall, Bakuman 2 outdoes it’s predecessor in every aspect, with faster pacing, a more ‘tighter’ and entertaining story, great character development with art and sound to top it off. If it wasn’t for a slow down during the the latter episodes with the story and characters, I would’ve considered Bakuman 2 a masterpiece.
Now I know why I decided not to stick to watching the second season. Even as I’m typing this, I still can’t grasp the stark difference between my thoughts on the show vs the majority’s opinion. I felt betrayed by the score, so I thought I’ll throw in a different perspective regarding the anime.
The first season felt like an inoffensive story that was just okay to watch (from what little I remember), but this second season was a trudge to go through. I had to force myself to watch another episode with the idea that it’d get better eventually, but unfortunately it got worse. The entire season could be skipped, and nothing would change except a few set pieces.
Near the end, I decided not to continue on with the third season since I realized that I lost my interest.
Now the characters. The way I’d describe the majority of them would be: Obnoxious. They barely have any redeeming qualities. They are one dimensional and only serve as convenient devices to keep the story moving along. Romances are thrown in out of completely nowhere and only feel as though they are introduced and used for motivation.
Character development consists of complete 180 degree changes in personality and character thought processes are indescribable.
The story consists of a popularity contest between manga authors of the same publisher. It starts with them calling each other rivals, telling each other that they’ll beat each other next time. Then, they come up with ideas haphazardly and start working on them, hoping it’ll get NUMBER ONE IN THE RANKINGS!…. then if they get a good ranking they congratulate each other, if they don’t then they say they’ll beat each other next time.
There are some stakes thrown in to each of these repetitions because the makers know if they don’t include those in, then there would be nothing left of interest. But then the stakes are pummeled as soon as push comes to shove, and you start wondering why they were included in the first place.
Artwork is okay, nothing special but it’s decent. Actually, it was nice to see different manga authors with different drawing styles.
Sound was okay too, serviceable enough for the show.
It’s difficult for me not to spoil stuff while talking about my experience watching this anime, so I feel that right here would be a good place for people to stop reading. But for those who’ve watched the show or don’t care about spoilers, please continue…
I mentioned the characters being obnoxious. So let me expand on that…
The main characters Mashiro and Takagi aka Ashirogi Muto stand true on that statement the most. They are childish, whiny, arrogant and stuck up, with these inflated but fragile egos. They are constantly bitching about being popular and getting the best rankings and would change their entire story they worked on to get ranked better. They feel like they only want to be manga authors for the sake of becoming famous, getting anime adaptations, and striking it big. Mashiro is especially guilty of this to the point where almost every word spoken out of his mouth made me go “oh just shut up” in my head.
Mashiro’s art is very good and never needs any polish. Takagi is just this genius who can think of a good story on the spot, but is otherwise really bland. Ah who am I kidding, everybody in this show is bland. But still they crapshoot everywhere because the season needs to stretch to 25 episodes and the makers need some form of progression throughout the series.
Of course, every “rival” has this behavioural pattern as well, although not to the same degree. They’re all different flavours of “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” and “I wont lose to you!”.
Niizuma Eiji is shown as this super genius with an eccentric personality, and serves as the main rival to Ashirogi Muto. Both as manga authors and being super annoying to look at. Sheesh, his screams still ring in my head. He has no “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” but he does have “I wont lose to you!”.
Fukuda is this angry man that rages at everything and is a hardass with a caring heart. He is the angry version of “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” and “I wont lose to you!”.
Hiramaru was a character that I found decent. His dynamic with his editor was predictable but okay to watch. His shtick is that he is forced to draw manga while he wants to do other stuff. He is the unwilling version of “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” and “I wont lose to you!”.
Nakai is just a plain creep with fragile self esteem.
Iwase is an arrogant woman with too much time on her hands. A vindictive and narrow minded individual with the weirdest motivation. She is the vengeful version of “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” and “I wont lose to you!”.
Aoki is a manipulative, heartless and proper woman who does a 180 degree personality change into become a blank slate. She is the female version of “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” and “I wont lose to you!”.
Moving on with other characters,
Azuki is Mashiro’s girlfriend and nothing would change if she was replaced by cardboard. Their relationship makes no sense and makes you wonder how the hell they fell in love and decided to marry each other in the first place.
Miyoshi is a convenience.
Miura is just this loudmouthed, boisterous man who actually achieves nothing. NOTHING. His purpose is solely to act as an obstacle and he comes in to achieve only that, then to leave after he has been overcome. To me, it felt like he is the only reason the second season occurred. If you take out the portion of the anime from the point where Miura is introduced as Ashirogi’s editor to where Miura is exchanged back to Hattori, then apart from Nakai leaving the picture and the serialization manga names changing, nothing happens.
Oh I guess Takagi and Miyoshi get married? I don’t even know how or why they decided to do that. Felt like it was just convenient to throw in because they’re both best friends of the show’s main romance.
Hattori is a decent character. He’s the only one that made me laugh once in a scene in the entire season, but still he seemed like a genuinely likeable and competent editor. Don’t get me wrong though, still a bit bland.
The chief editor is shown as this very competent and serious dude, but to me he seemed like a really indecisive prick. First, he says he’ll put Ashirogi on hiatus for a whole year since Mashiro got sick due to overworking and for some reason was sick and needed to get surgery, so he needs rest to recover. But then he’s like “naah jk”.
Second, he tells his editors to vote for Ashirogi’s manga serialization to see if it can compete with Niizuma Eiji’s work, since they’re all incompetent and can’t judge their own publications. The condition is that if it can’t compete, then Ashirogi’s contract would be terminated. The editors vote 4 to 3, saying that Ashirogi can’t beat Eiji with this at the end of the episode. BUT NOOOOOOOO, since this show can’t have that happen, just at the fucking start of the next episode, they editors are like “But sir! Ashirogi’s career is at stake! Let’s leave it in the hands of the readers to decide!” so the vote changes to 7-0 in favour of Ashirogi’s serialization.
Are you fucking kidding me?! Are you telling me that all that time spent into coming to these dilemmas was for nothing? Why can I see these predictable outcomes from a mile away! Things like these make for a very frustrating viewing experience and you’re left thinking “What was the point?”.
Near the end, a conversation gets shoehorned in about manga authors focusing on story vs popularity and this is where I realize why there is such an obsession with rankings. Mashiro basically declares that he writes manga only for popularity’s sake, and to me personally (even though I do not read manga) that was indication to not watch the third season.
Actually, now that I think about it. This show unintentionally, through it’s own dialogue, the way it’s story is written, the way it’s characters interact and behave, tells me a lot about how some manga authors think and go about creating a manga. That is really interesting and odd since none of the actual content depicts any semblance of realism.
The thought processes and dialogue of characters really commentate on the thoughts of the makers themselves as they were making the show, and how shallow the whole thing is.
Making a weekly publish in a manga while coming up with what happens next every week will not make up a good story or an interesting read unless the whole thing’s planned from the beginning. Shounen mangas have this problem the most, and this show magnifies this by showing us the actual time and thought put into them.
These works are done purely for the purpose of running a business, and authors’ ideas are reworked and washed down to make them more mainstream at the cost of originality. Overworking their authors by giving them breakneck deadlines while manipulating their want for becoming popular as fuel for encouragement for working hard.
This makes me understand why I never liked shows like One Piece, Naruto or Bleach. I always felt like the stories in them were made up on the spot and pieced together, dragging on for no reason other than maintaining viewership, popularity and fanbase.
Bakuman is one of these shows but with no battle scenes or action.
* * * S T O R Y * * *
It’s rather original and is likely to draw in anyone with an interest in anime/manga. It has some pretty good drama and whatever in it.
* * * A R T * * *
I’d say the “typical anime faces” (such as oAo) they sometimes have kinda lowers the quality of this series. I like that they have some more original types of gag faces, though. The art and animation looks quite nice overall.
Some of the parts where they showed storyboards/”names” were poorly drawn and dull to look at. I think they should’ve at least had more panels/actions shown so we could see the story, not just hear a narration. Manga is all about the visuals, after all. There were some good moments with the more elaborate manuscripts, though.
* * * S O U N D * * *
I think Mashiro sounds a little too wimpy. The music didn’t stand out to me whatsoever. Their relaxed, “everyday” country-ish music is just pretty boring. They live in a city, so why the country bumpkin music? There’s other music more appropriately fitting the anime, but none of it is memorable.
* * * C H A R A C T E R S * * *
Yes, yes, people hate Miura. I think Miura was another good display of what the world of manga can be like. He also developed into a decent editor after realizing his flaws. As an obstacle, he created more entertaining points in the series and made the end result all the more satisfying.
Mashiro and Takagi are always developing and learning to see manga from different perspectives. They change in other ways, too, making unexpected decisions as the story progresses.
Other characters develop, other characters stay the same. That’s the way life is, including when it comes to a manga artist’s aspirations (or lack of).
* * * E N J O Y M E N T * * *
Compared to the Bakuman manga, they cut out a lot of the more technical aspects of planning and writing manga. They kept the “Tanto arc” short and sweet, really. It also feels like they balanced things out so that Azuki would seem like she has more involvement in the series. I know people complained about how small her role was in the manga, so I think this is a good change. It was pretty easy to neglect and forget about her in the manga, but I think it’s important to maintain this romantic aspect based on true love.
One thing I didn’t like is how they made it sound like panty shots are not only normal, but necessary in the world of manga. Honestly, things like that cause people to label all manga as bad. I think panty shots should’ve been treated as a cheap way to get votes from perverts, not something a female manga artist should strive to achieve. It’s sad to think people would be unable to appreciate a good story unless it had softcore porn in every chapter.
* * * O V E R A L L * * *
Good story, nothing really disappointing (other than the panty thing), satisfying ending. I didn’t find this too addicting, but maybe that’s just because I read the manga already. This is some quality anime.
English: Nichijou – My Ordinary Life
MAL Score: 8.46
Nichijou primarily focuses on the daily antics of a trio of childhood friends—high school girls Mio Naganohara, Yuuko Aioi and Mai Minakami—whose stories soon intertwine with the young genius Hakase Shinonome, her robot caretaker Nano, and their talking cat Sakamoto. With every passing day, the lives of these six, as well as of the many people around them, experience both the calms of normal life and the insanity of the absurd. Walking to school, being bitten by a talking crow, spending time with friends, and watching the principal suplex a deer: they are all in a day’s work in the extraordinary everyday lives of those in Nichijou.
As the modern entertainment sector continues to emphasize excess and surplus, Nichijou is a much welcome, and frankly much needed throwback to a more old-school approach to entertainment. Nichijou’s frugal yet distinct style reminds us that something is perfect, not because there’s nothing more to add to it, but because there is nothing more to take away.
Nichijou brings to us a fusion of gag, moe, slice-of-life and slapstick comedy. It’s humor is very reminiscent of Azumanga Diaoh while it’s art style borrows heavily from the distinctly colorful palette of Lucky Star. Nichijou adopts a very light-hearted approach with it’s tone; it’s jokes are played fast and loose, and while there is a constant shift of pacing throughout each episode, Nichijou never seems to take itself very seriously.
Perhaps the most noteworthy thing about Nichijou is it’s production value. Frankly speaking, Nichijou is GORGEOUS to look at; it’s animation so incredibly fluid and it’s art so crisp and vivid that it actually puts other supposedly competent studios to shame. The artwork selects it’s palette very sparingly, with a result that is both vibrant yet easy on the eyes. This gentle tone is then frequently punctuated by segments of metaphorical (and in some cases literal) animation explosions, showcasing KyoAni’s talent with a huge variety of styles from gritty realism to crayon slapstick.
One can’t help but wonder if KyoAni isn’t deliberately showing off their workmanship with this anime. Many originally very short panels from the manga are translated into incredibly imaginative and stunning sequences of animation that simply scream “because we can.” Show off or not, Nichijou’s cinematography is nothing short of outstanding; it’s liberal interpretation of the original source material has really allowed the creativity of director Ishihara Tatsuya and the KyoAni animators to shine through like nothing we’ve ever seen before.
Special mention to Nichijou’s OP and ED songs, which are creative shorts (incredibly well sync’d I might mention) in their own right. As a fun fact, both of Nichijou’s OPs are sung by Hyadain, who is ONE guy. No female backing vocals at all, he does it all himself. Seriously I’m not joking, go look it up.
The aforementioned dynamic pacing forms the basis of Nichijou’s entertainment value. Each episode tackles it’s structure with a large degree of unpredictability. You never know what’s going to happen next, be it a humorous dialogue scene, a fast paced action sequence, an amusing random still image or a hilarious but completely unrelated skit. Despite this seemingly chaotic approach, Nichijou still manages to find a good balance between all it’s various styles so that no episode feels too weighted. While such a haphazard approach may seem counter-intuitive for a slice-of-life anime, this style ends up working greatly in Nichijou’s favor, adding another layer to it’s texture of absurdity.
The humor itself is very simplistic, almost to a fault, and one would normally attribute this as one of Nichijou’s flaws. That is of course until you remember that “Nichijou” translates to “My Ordinary Life” and as such, the simplicity of the jokes are a fitting homage to the show’s title and premise. Many of the jokes are simply exaggerated normal events like missing the train or a waiter forgetting your order, relying on witty dialogue delivery and clever timings to get the humor across. Some may consider this a hit-or-miss sort of comedy, which is only a fair judgement. All the same, you don’t necessarily have to laugh at jokes like these to appreciate them, which is one of the main reasons why slice-of-life can have such a widespread appeal (remember K-On?)
The characters are very likable, despite the obvious utilization of moe in many of their design. If you can shed that manly exterior and look past the few excessively “cute” scenes, there’s actually an abundance of things to enjoy about Nichijou’s characters. Conventional archetypes are few and far between in this anime, and all the characters harbor their own quirky habits and flaws that you’ll quickly grow fond of.
The best thing about Nichijou’s characters however, isn’t their individuality, but how they interact with each other. The personalities of various character groups clash, contrast and complement each other in extremely interesting ways; the conversations and activities of the two golden trios of Nichijou: Yuuko/Mio/Mai and Hakase/Nano/Sakamoto make up the abundance of material in each episode and just their hilarious adventures by themselves could probably carry an entire show. This is furthered by the great voice acting that the Nichijou provides; Nichijou is one of the rare shows where the seiyuus genuinely sound like they’re enjoying themselves. Dialogues are delivered with copious amounts of enthusiasm which really helps sell the spirited relationships that the various characters enjoy with each other.
With all that has been said though, I would like to come back to that idea I mentioned when we began, that idiom of “less is more.” The thing I love most about Nichijou, isn’t the amazing artwork, the clever cinematography, the light-hearted humor or even the imaginative characters. What I love most about Nichijou is the fact that, behind all the technicalities and production values, lies a very simple ideal. Everything about Nichijou revolves around this central principle of being enjoyable. All that it does, every scene, every character, every line of dialogue alludes back to this principle. Because at the end of the day, all Nichijou wants you to do is one thing; it wants you to enjoy yourself. With Nichijou, there is no story, no subplots, no recurring themes, no character development, no product placement, no lessons to be learnt, no obscure references to pander to a niche audience, no obvious fan-service pandering or ploys to sell related merchandise.
Fun is the only thing that matters, and it’s this frugality, this ingenious simplicity, that allows everything to just click together like magic.
When you finally get home after a long tiring day, the only thing Nichijou wants to do is to give you an excuse to prop your feet up after and wash that blue feeling away as it slowly puts that grin back onto your face.
This is an anime that I went into with high expectations. I was told OVER and OVER online that this was one of the funniest anime series to ever exist! I don’t think I laughed once. I’m not just saying that I didn’t get any sidesplitting laughs out of this, I don’t think this series made me smile more than 2 times! Nichijou is certainly a series with an outstanding online reputation, but in this case I don’t feel that the reputation was well deserved.
Nichijou was actually a bit of a flop in Japan and wasn’t able to build a large Japanese fandom. However, it became a massive hit on the English speaking internet after 4chan latched onto it. For the last 3 years, Nichijou fans have been to /a/ what the bronies are to /b/! They are an absolutely devoted cult that recycle the same tired image macros OVER and OVER and team up the attack anyone that doesn’t worship this piece of shit. Much like the Bronies, it is very difficult to tell how many actually like the show and how many embrace it entirely out of irony. Considering Nichijou is a comedy that is less funny than dropping a hammer on your big toe, I would say the latter is likely. Most of the humor consists of Japanese language puns and wordplay that doesn’t translate well to a non-Japanese audience and even Japanese audiences didn’t like it! This places Nichijou in a similar humor category as Vampire Holmes, which I also hated. The rest of the humor is “uber moe UGUUU” BULLSHIT, and tired slapstick gags that were old when Charlie Chaplin used them in the 1920s.
Story and Characters:
The story is simply the everyday life of a group of schoolgirls. Nichijou seems to borrow elements from both Azumanga Daioh and Cromartie High School without ever coming CLOSE to achieving the same level of humor and charm. A portion of this was that Azumanga and Cromartie had hilarious characters, while Nichijou just has really obnoxious characters. If I had to compare Nichijou to another anime it would be Lucky Star, but a version of Lucky Star that toned down all the anime and gaming references, leaving only the most mundane topics like finding a skirt that fits. Each of the characters fits into a well established archetype, but that alone doesn’t explain why it’s so bad. The Italian “commedia dell’arte” plays recycled the same stock characters and still won over audiences with their farcical humor. It is the combination of bland characters, linguistic humor lost in translation, tired gags, and horrible comedic timing that all come together to make this show a nearly un-watchable clusterfuck. If the show told a purposely bad joke and stretched it out until it became awkward for the audience, that would actually get a few laughs. When used right even “dead air” can be a useful comedic tool. Consider the opening of the famous comedy movie “Spaceballs”. The joke is that the ripoff Star Destroyer is absurdly long in comparison to the ones in Star Wars, but that alone wouldn’t be funny. It becomes funny because it just keeps going…and going…and going until the audience laughs because they don’t know how to react. Nichijou just hits the audience with one bad joke after another in rapid succession like a machine gun of FAIL.
Animation and sound:
Here is where Nichijou got its points from. The opening theme is at least kind of catchy and the animation has moments where it shines. Having said that, I fucking HATE the art style of this series for taking even “moe” to a new rock bottom.
If you want to tell other people online that Nichijou is great in order to fit in, go for it! However, I warn you to NOT actually bother watching Nichijou yourself because it is a massive waste of time. There are few experiences more annoying that watching a horrible comedy with no laughs. Avoid this anime like the plague!
Every episode is a series of semi-random “moments” in each of the characters’ lives. As far as an actual storyline goes, there is no distinct beginning or end to Nichijou. No goal, no real conflict – as to be expected of a slice of life, “storyless.” However, at about the halfway point, I started to question whether all of Nichijou somewhat revolves around Nano and her dreams of leading a normal, everyday life (which is what “nichijou” roughly translates to). There are some really beautiful moments that do advance the plot, which is part of what makes Nichijou so special as a slice of life.
Stunning. Characters are distinct, cute, and thoroughly enjoyable to look at. Animation has very fluid movements, and the “camera” work, especially during the funny scenes, is just brilliant. One thing that I particularly adore about this anime is the fact that, as opposed to some anime like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, in which the art style becomes overly-simplistic during moments of comedy, Nichijou’s art style becomes vastly more serious and dramatic for almost all of the hilarious moments. Without losing an ounce of fluidity, Nichijou will abruptly switch from cute and colorful to intense, fast-paced action with over-the-top explosions and yelling. Everything about the art in this anime is something to behold.
Hats off to Hyadain, as he did both of the OP songs and one of the ED songs, which are fun and upbeat, as expected of him. The background music is also very well-done, it’s unobtrusive and mellow, allowing the characters themselves to set the mood more so than the music.
This is the glue that holds the entire thing together. The characters make up for the lack of a concrete story and then some – this anime is definitely NOT just something pretty to look at. During the few times that the plot progresses, so do the characters. They learn and grow, they have problems and they help each other. I found myself growing attached to all of the characters, I don’t think there is a bad one in the bunch.
Overall, I love this anime. It is certainly beautiful in more ways than one, and it stands above many other anime in terms of being a slice of life and a comedy. If you like Lucky Star and Gintama, I can almost assure you that you’ll have a blast with this anime. I know I sure did!
English: Gintama Season 2
MAL Score: 9.06
After a one-year hiatus, Shinpachi Shimura returns to Edo, only to stumble upon a shocking surprise: Gintoki and Kagura, his fellow Yorozuya members, have become completely different characters! Fleeing from the Yorozuya headquarters in confusion, Shinpachi finds that all the denizens of Edo have undergone impossibly extreme changes, in both appearance and personality. Most unbelievably, his sister Otae has married the Shinsengumi chief and shameless stalker Isao Kondou and is pregnant with their first child.
Bewildered, Shinpachi agrees to join the Shinsengumi at Otae and Kondou’s request and finds even more startling transformations afoot both in and out of the ranks of the the organization. However, discovering that Vice Chief Toushirou Hijikata has remained unchanged, Shinpachi and his unlikely Shinsengumi ally set out to return the city of Edo to how they remember it.
With even more dirty jokes, tongue-in-cheek parodies, and shameless references, Gintama’ follows the Yorozuya team through more of their misadventures in the vibrant, alien-filled world of Edo.
That’s right. The #1 show is back – and I am damn excite, son.
To any of you who haven’t watched the first season, please do. but if you wouldn’t want to commit yourself to a 201 episode show, feel free to just skip ahead to season two and try an episode or two. The storyline’s arranged in inconsistent arcs, meaning you can pick it up from any arc – as long as you get an explanation on the origins of the different characters.
I assume all of you know the general setting – a Samurai who lives in a modern era in which aliens are a part of our (humans) daily lives. There’s an ongoing ban on swords, so being a Samurai is obviously forbidden by law.
Though there’s no rule against a wooden sword, is there?
In the last year, our friendly studio Sunrise had enough time to stack up material for a long-lasting second season, while our beloved mangaka had time to improve and write arcs which without a doubt – have the Gintama effect. Holding tears in your throat, and two minutes later laughing like a maniac – only to be in tears again a few minutes later. The long touchy speeches are back, the unexpected plot turns are back, everything we longed for in this Gintama-less year, is back.
It might be important to specify the fact that Gintama is now well funded, and is in HD. Can you imagine seeing Gintoki pick his nose in 720p?! Insane!!!
The first arc is the comeback we all wished for, every character you knew is making an appearance, though you should ready yourself for a surprise – they’ve all changed.
I promise this – starting at the first 15 seconds up to the end of the 24 minutes of awesome, you’ll be smiling, laughing, perhaps even crying if you’re touchy. Enjoy.
I was skeptical as hell for the return of the Gintama anime. To be honest, I went into this anime wanting to slam it as hard as possible, especially upon seeing it’s overbearingly high-score. But I won’t, because to be frank, I can’t.
I don’t really think a lot of reviews, complex and heavily-illustrated need to be written about this anime to get a feel for what it’s about so let me get straight to the point: It’s ridiculous over-the-top comedy, plain and simple. Of course you can’t forget the awesome stories built from these insane gags, too.
The scripting, the scenario, specifically the way that the anime envelops you inside – making you a returning character as well, are all ingeniously meshed together.
And of course, after five years… brought to you in 16:9 format.
…With even better songs than ever (hard to believe, I know).
If you haven’t seen Gintama before, I recommend checking it out, and I know 201 episodes sounds like a grueling task, but after seeing the pilot episode for the second series, I was left more than satisfied. This episode is reason alone to watch the over two-hundred preceding it.
Even if you’re familiar with Gintama and think you’re ready for Gintama’, let me be the first to tell you; you aren’t.
Note: I don’t believe this review needs to be edited every week, as most episodes are either episodic or self-contained within an arc. If you’ve braved the first 201 episodes, don’t miss season two.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
3. Bakuman. 2nd Season
5. Mawaru Penguindrum
6. Hanasaku Iroha
7. Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II
8. Sekaiichi Hatsukoi 2
9. Tiger & Bunny