They’re the best Anime that 2019 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Boku no Hero Academia 4th Season, High Score Girl II, Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2, and more!
10: Boku no Hero Academia 4th Season
English: My Hero Academia Season 4
MAL Score: 8.00
After successfully passing his Provisional Hero License exam, Izuku “Deku” Midoriya seeks out an extracurricular internship with a professional hero agency. At the recommendation of his mentor All Might, Midoriya lands a position under All Might’s former sidekick, Sir Nighteye, now a famous hero in his own right.
As Midoriya’s classmates further their own abilities through various internships, up-and-coming villain Kai Chisaki utilizes his terrifying powers to gather favor in the criminal underworld. Known by the moniker Overhaul, Chisaki’s ambitions collide with the League of Villains and its leader, Tomura Shigaraki.
Through his work with Sir Nighteye, Midoriya discovers Chisaki’s crime syndicate and the villain’s hostile relationship with a mysterious young girl named Eri. Fearing for the child’s safety, Midoriya and his upperclassman Mirio Toogata must work together to put an end to Chisaki’s reign of terror.
My Hero Academia is slowly but surely becoming Fairy Tail 2.0.
Every time I hear something good about “My Hero Academia”, it has mainly to do with its writing and how beautiful it is. There are also so many great developments from many characters, so they say, but I don’t see any of this. I really don’t. I’m probably being a bit too nitpicky with the show but I really wouldn’t mind at all if only people would stop calling this show’s writing a magnum opus when you all know that’s not true. I, personally would call “My Hero Academia” a cringe show and not in a good way, either. It’s a show that gets on my nerves, can’t stand, and yet, I’ve seen all 4 seasons of this damned franchise and I will finish everything with a little hope that its writing will be a little better, but I don’t think it will ever happen since you know, I’m reading the fucking manga and it’s looking real bad there as well.
The third season starts with a filler and despite my hatred for fillers in general, the first episode was genuinely a good episode (as far as fillers go) but it was still a recap of the story and honestly I would have gladly done without. Then it starts with the arc of “Saving the girl from the bad guy, because we’re heroes even though there are so many other people out there that need our help and we should dedicate our time to them as well but who cares about them as long some one random kid is saved and let’s cliche the fuck out of it”. Oh yeah, it’s just happen that the girl has the power of rewind time (VERY convenient for what’s going to happen later). Fortunately for everyone, she has not control over it, so our boi, Deku – was able to save her and in the meantime Mirio lost his quirk powers, a random dude dies, some chicks do nothing, random stuff happens at random, 3-5 episode fillers, a not-so-good animation is not-so-good and predominantly we get to see many bad dudes. They show up now, but not before, because why exactly? I see, because the plot didn’t want them before. Oh Yeah, It’s All Coming Together.
Basically the whole premise of this season is basically to save her (and give her the happy life everyone needs, lol), a kid nobody cared before, and I can’t believe it took that many episodes to save her who to tell you the truth, can’t give a damn about. Like, no. She’s that one girl everyone wants to protect but why though? Because she’s cute? Because, you know, she’s a kid? Dude, if I were a hero, i’d go from town to town to look for people who need my help. I’m not gonna take days staying around her as Midoriya and others do because… reasons? In fact, I don’t think I exactly know why it was so necessary to save her… no, I actually know the reason of such thing, it’s because we have to make our main character somewhat revelant. Whatever happens, Deku will take care of the main villain of the arc.
What bothers me is the coincidence that both Midoriya and Mirio stumbled upon her just after Midoriya somehow got Nighteye’s approval on becoming his student and before somehow after Nighteye himself apparently had a plan to bring down Chisaki and his gang that just happens, the little girl both our heroes stumbled upon, I think a day before, is in that group, too. In my entire life i’ve never seen a more convenient thing than this part here. Think about it. If Deku never went to Nighteye, all this would probably never happened, and thus, the girl would have suffered even more before someone really was able to save her (if not never saved), but because Midoriya is the main character, he’ll save her anyway (which he did), even going up against a probably much stronger enemy but because she has the power of rewind throughout the fight she was able to repair Deku’s body, so he wouldn’t explode and all this make the entire fight, a complete ex machina + asspull and bullshit, too. Look, the problem here is Deku and nobody else. He’s writen in such a nuance that is so repetitive, nausating and predicable.
I can predict what he’ll do because he has the same personality he had at the beginning. He has been doing stuff over and over again with the same outcome that wouldn’t put him in any danger. He ain’t in danger and probably never will. Did you see how he beat Gentle? Did you? It was a total bullshit of a fight. Deku was down. He was annihilated by gentle and yet, he won? How that happened? He doesn’t surrender. He’s persistent. Yes, this is what the author has made of him. Persistent. You’d think that does mean shit, amirite? Yes, but who the fuck cares anyway, he’s the protagonist, logic means shit here anyway. Both Gentle and La Brava would have won since the beginning but because he’s the main character and because of his own victories he’d became a much mature person, according to the author.
Has he become one?
No and probably never will. Being a cringy kid and shooting clichés every two seconds doesn’t make you one. Being over obsessed with “justice” doesn’t make you one. Being the overprotective person doesn’t make one.
My Hero Academia is badly written. The series has way too many characters that does not flesh out a single one. They are all here because they’re told to be and when they fight, they do win but they win in “Deku style”. You know, the villain has the upper hand but because of a flashback or that set character endurance they force their body to its limit and win, by one blow. Have you noticed this patern? You never see a flashy fight but rather a dull one when some people hit each other non-stop for a few seconds multiplie times and the winner is the most obvious you can think of. I tell you, on this season there should have been at least 5 deaths. Some characters have a plot armor beyond belief. They won’t die no matter what. Anyways, as I said, the writing is bad, so I chosed a random scene just to prove it to you:
– Uraraka gets knocked out by a big dude.
– Asui too gets knocked out by the same big dude.
– The big dude is about to deal up to the 9th strongest hero.
– It is not so clear whether one of the strongest heroes would win against him or not.
– Uraraka sees Deku (Toga in disguise).
– Uraraka, real shit, despite I can’t move and despite being almost unconscious by the enemy’s power, I have to force myself moving because (this is repeated later in the episode, but this time she sees the real deku) we are taught by seniors not to give up and somehow move the villain to where Deku (Toga in disguise) had said, with Asui, in case you didn’t figure that out. Asui came outta nowhere to help Uraraka and split some clichés alongside Uraraka. Did she also saw Deku? I do assume she stopped “being unconscious”, by seeing him, right? Above all, how they both were able to escape from that big dude’s power? Whatever that fucking thing was, it was something that made both girls lose senses. You’d think even if the bad dude were to be defeated, it’d take a minute or so for them get conscious, but nope, it only took less than 5 seconds for them completely be fine and be able to use their powers at full. Man, some of these scenes are incomprensibile.
It all goes like that. Instead of using strategies to defeating the bad dudes, they get overpowered by them, rarely goes vice versa and by the end of the fight, heroes win. Now, how come the heroes win when they’re clearly not strong enough to have the better? The answer is pretty simple, they SHOULDN’T. What they should, though, is to have a proper training such as fighting with professionals, until the proper gets unconscious more and more times until the victory goes the vice versa. It’s gonna take a while but because it’s writing is really bad they’ll face off a villain anyway and eventually win, presumably without too many consequences if not any. They obviously do it but it is very rare. Students should be pressured many times to learn the dangerous that is the outside.
Also, let’s talk about Uraraka a bit since now we’re here. Is there anything useful she can do without yelling “Deku” every two seconds? We all know she loves him, and i’m happy for her but she only needs to hear his name or see him fighting to make herself do something is something i’m not happy of. She should have some character development, at the very least, by the end of the story. At least I hope because as for now, she’s quite literally useless. Most of the girls are, in fact. At no point any of them got their shining moment. What a shame.
Least but not last, allow me to spare two words about something that I, for the love of god don’t understand. I am obviously referring to the “characters power and their name” via text that appears on everyone’s appearance. And not only that, do you guys remember Hizashi? He’s that one character no screen time was given, instead the author has found a clever way to making him talk as much as one can by repeating the same stuff over and over again. If it’s a new power and Hizashi explains it, i’ll be completely fine with that but because we’re given explanation to powers we have the knowledge of already, it’s making me to believe it’s just added there to pad some time. Considering this is the 4th season of the franchise, I doubt it’s gonna stop anytime soon but it really should. It’s annoying and distracting.
My Hero Academia is highly praised and I have nothing against that but people need to know that its writing it’s not pioneer and overall it’ll never be. Whatever the reason you are watching this anime, I say, hats off to you on appreciating these characters and their story. I really couldn’t. I tried, but I just couldn’t since most of the characters are both uninteresting and annoying.
If there’s one thing that My Hero Academia’s 4th season has proven, it’s that mangaka Kohei Horikoshi has mastered the art of spinning his wheels. And that’s not to say that the production team attached to this project doesn’t share a portion of the blame, for all I know, the manga could just be THAT much better. But this score, this review, it’s not a nagging response as a disgruntled fan of the manga frustrated with the panel to frame fidelity, I don’t have that frame of reference to care all that much. I’m sure it doesn’t need to be said because the general lack of excitement for this season more or less speaks for itself, but this is the most uneven and nonessential season of the My Hero Academia anime to date.
Not counting any brief transitional arcs, Season 4 can essentially be divided into two major story arcs, the “Shie Hassaikai arc” (for brevity’s sake I’ll simply refer to it as the “Overhaul arc”) as well as the “U.A. School Festival arc”. If I were to describe the essential structure of this season, it’s sort of a weird Frankenstein’s monster of the latter halves of both the Second and Third season. Cursory filler aside, the Overhaul arc doesn’t take much time to get going and after a point resigns itself as a collection of poorly strung together action sequences of varying quality. Let me just say, for as poorly handled as that License arc was in the third season as both a transition from the previous arc and as a necessary plot device, I contend the School Festival arc might be even worse.
There are plenty of fans who have dubbed this arc “filler”, which isn’t necessarily true in the literal application of the term. But the severe lack of consequence in this arc does make it feel like fluff. I’ll humor anyone who’s curious about Gentle and La Brava later.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a season of My Hero Academia without debilitating amounts of pointless character introductions, most of which you’ll probably never see again and live and die with their shallow characterization. The reverence for comic books is cool, it really is, but unlike comic books which have the benefit of recontextualization, My Hero Academia feels pointlessly overstuffed. I’m not expecting Frank Miller or Grant Morrison to write their own takes on these characters, so it just feels like Horikoshi is overpopulating this world for the sake of it (I will gladly eat my crow if more manga like Vigilantes are green-lit).
One issue I have with the way Horikoshi writes characters is the utilitarian manner in which he will introduce and then dispose of them like they never mattered all that much I.e., scapegoating. This happens a few times throughout this season, one of which is with Mirio. With the way the kid was gassed up by his peers and specifically by Nighteye for being more deserving of the torch that All Might left behind than Deku, it was a clear path to this kid’s demise.
The obvious parallel you can draw with the Overhaul arc is with the Hero Killer arc but it also heavily treads territory that the Raid arc did in Season 3. Mirio is essentially a stand-in for All Might, both of them being used in the exact same way. Have both of them fight the villain, have both of them lose their powers, have both of them reaffirm Deku’s goal as the “Number 1 Hero”. Not to diminish Mirio’s character, he’s likable enough on his own, but his lack of presence in the story up until that point only makes his story beat vastly inferior to All Might’s (and it’s already annoying enough that they were used in the same way). Nighteye is handled in a similar fashion. The show expects you to care about what ultimately ends up transpiring but barely gives you a chance to even digest his character before it happens. If nothing else, it’s pitiful.
Eri is the latest addition in a long line of prepubescent power-sources (lolis specifically) to be exploited for the protagonist’s use. You’ve seen it in Berserk. You’ve seen it in the Monogatari Series. You’ve seen it in the A Certain Series. I get it though, I get the fun hacky appeal of having a little girl be the source of immense power, it’s “ironic” if not just a bit on the nose. The issue is, compared to characters like Schierke and Shinobu, Eri’s character starts and ends with her status as a plot device. She has no personality, not much of a backstory, not much of anything really, but the story expects you to care and buy into the other characters’ investment in saving her because she’s a little girl. It’s such an easy out.
Deku in Season 4 is like that beater car you bought with your first two paychecks in high school. 6 years later and now it has a tacky spoiler, phone mount, and a full tank of gas. At this point, you can’t be bothered to change anything about it because you’re just going to get rid of it when given the chance. Deku in Season 4 is just Deku from Season 1, except now he has cup-holders. I get that the intent was to make his conflict simple and relatable for the audience by having him overcome his bullies as well as the societal role handed to him because of his shortcomings. But all of that hard work and studying is undercut by the number of plot conveniences and hand-outs hoisted upon him. For as hard as Horikoshi tries to make this kid relatable, his character arc feels as insincere as Naruto finding out he was kid Jesus.
That said, Horikoshi, please, You have A TON of characters in Class 1-A that have yet to do much of anything, stop needlessly proliferating this fucking cast like a pack of rabbits in heat and use the characters you’ve already established for crying out loud! Bakugo for instance, he had a great character arc that culminated fantastically in the previous season! He’s an afterthought in this season!
The conflict in My Hero Academia just isn’t palpable. Cutting up Deku’s fingers and giving him a sunburn on his arm just isn’t good enough for me. Having All Might fall from grace is a given, but a good step in the right direction but that’s not enough to hold things over for much longer. There is no tension in this series, it’s only a step-up from shows like Fairy Tail that tout friendship and love as a badge of honor. Nothing of significant consequence happens in this show’s story, and Season 4 perhaps the worst offender of that notion to date.
In itself, the entire concept of having these kids do work-study/interning for agencies that will very likely throw them in perilous situations is just asinine to me. The series made it a point of conflict in the past to highlight the school’s reckless abandon for security as a fundamental flaw in the system, so why leave these kids to handle these situations on their own when death is clearly a looming danger? I get that these kids are hot-shots with provisional licenses but why leave Mirio, Tamaki, Deku, Kirishima, etc. to their own devices when they are clearly dealing with literal Yakuza who are out for their heads at any given chance? For consistency’s sake, isn’t that an incredible oversight in terms of the school’s security policy? Does this piece of plastic essentially wipe the school’s hands clean of any responsibility if a death were to occur while a student is on assignment interning for an agency?
You know, maybe it’s just the child murder renaissance we’re living in (I’m American if you couldn’t tell), but it’s not like Horikoshi has a limited roster to choose from. It’s a simple solution and admittedly would probably only put a bandaid on this series’ several chronic ailments, but having the guts to kill a major character from 1-A can be spun in a variety of ways. Imagine the fallout and backlash this would cause for the school. Imagine how Deku would internalize this. That’s an interesting conflict to work with, and as I already hammered down on, this show is in DESPERATE need of decent conflict and tension.
Oh God, I haven’t even touched base with the villains yet.
I have my reservations about Stain, his paper-thin platitudes, and the very obvious holes in his flawed ideology, but I could buy into his persona as a delusional loon with a few screws loose. Overhaul doesn’t really have much of an excuse.
The dude comes in and kills one of Shigaraki’s goons (good, Shigaraki and the League of Villains get on my fucking nerves) and clearly carries himself with a menacing cool. Another notable aspect to his character is his overtly paradoxical ideology. So you’re telling me the guy considers Quirks a plague upon humanity (setting aside the fact that he himself heavily relies on his own Quirk) and his master plan is to create a vaccine as well as a vaccine for the vaccine…because Yakuza? Overhaul is a joke, to put it bluntly, and to further rub salt in the wound, he lets a loser like Shigaraki get the best of him.
Gentle and La Brava have been both hated and lauded for their pitiable backstories and relatability. If it wasn’t made clear by La Brava spelling it out during their fight, Gentle is essentially a “this could’ve been you” character for Deku. Gentle lacked the aptitude and ambition to make the cut as a pro-hero and spirals into depression when he is ostracized from society after making a miscalculation. Listen, I appreciate the sentiment and under the supervision of a better writer, this very well could’ve been an effective dynamic, but does anyone really expect the thematic underpinnings of these two characters’ stories to significantly alter the trajectory of the story or Deku’s character?
The story has already moved on without them like they never mattered. It’s like Horikoshi lacks the self-awareness to realize that these villains deeply undermine Deku as a character. I get such mixed messages as to what the point of these characters was because they only make Deku look like even more of a child of privilege. Was that the message he was trying to convey by introducing and disposing of these villains? That if you hit a rut in life but still have that fire in your belly to realize your dreams and “be a hero” maybe some venerable benefactor will literally drop from the heavens and bail you out? It’s depressing to think about.
Fittingly, there were plenty of power-point reminiscent montage stills of characters just doing things, really dialed back my clock to high school when I would do the same thing. I guess that was the point since they’re in high school? But hey, at least Horikoshi’s designs are perdy to look at. I haven’t fully kept up on news as far as this season’s production schedule but it’s worth noting that this season was produced in tandem with a film (that I’ve yet to see) which apparently affected which animators were available to work on the TV series. Maybe my eye isn’t trained enough to catch the subtleties in the key-frames or perhaps my lack of investment in the manga makes this a point of contention that just flew over my head, but this season seemed pretty par for the course for the previous seasons. If there’s one thing I’ll say about Horikoshi, it’s that he’s a fantastic character designer and a pretty talented artist, even if the anime doesn’t properly translate his panel-work.
Horikoshi has gone on record taking breaks for “research”, but in reality, I feel that research is really just to buy himself time to conjure more story. For lack of a better phrase, it really does just feel like he’s making shit up as he goes along or rehashing the same story with a shallow coat of paint. This season is so under-written that you could basically just read a list of a handful of notable bullet points and skip the entire thing without missing so much as a good action sequence. Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but to that end, I’d say that cutting this show slack is only doing a disservice to the countless number of well-wrought comic books and battle shonen to choose from in this modern era. Some may call this a predictable review, and to them I say, it’s only appropriate to fight fire with fire.
The animation is very stiff even relying on still frames at times; the characters feel like they haven’t progressed at all since the beginning of season 3 even though some of them went through huge developments; the main antagonist, Overhaul, isn’t explored through introspection, and the potential he had is lost when reliance on flashbacks is preferred for the “justification” of his motives.
Every season of MHA can be broken down into two sections, viz. the villains attacking UA, and the villains planning on attacking UA, and this season is no different. The season can be split into two parts – Overhaul arc, and the Cultural Festival arc. Herein lies the pacing problem of the show, the splitting of a season into two works for seasonal runtime but in reality, the actual plot, the story that it set out to tell, has been lost somewhere. It has been 88 episodes since the debut of the first episode and we have seen very little plot progression. The overhaul arc was unnecessarily long, eating up 17 episodes when it could’ve been truncated to 12. The said arc, though entertaining, did little for almost all characters, except Kirishima and Mirio, and was of even less import in the big scheme of things.
For me the characters in MHA have always been the highlight. The characters are quintessential shounen characters but are imbued with subtle nuances and traits, but after witnessing them in this season I feel like they’re slowly regressing back to being just your average shounen protagonists and sidekicks. Bakugo for example, who had a change of personality in the preceding season, is more or less back to his previously angry self for no reason. Sure, there are changes to his prior disposition, but they don’t seem to follow up. Midoriya had some interesting moments in S3, for example the aftereffects of his fights with Muscular and Bakugo were enduring to watch, but this season he has reverted back to being the character who says “I want to become stronger” a lot. Kirishima and Mirio get some good character work done on them and I’m thankful for that. Kirishima’s backstory with Mina did feel like a plot device as we’ve almost never seen them interact as friends on any prior occasion, but suddenly it’s revealed that Mina was in the same middle school as Kirishima? I call BS.
Sir Nighteye, Mirio’s mentor and All Might’s former sidekick is introduced this season, who had chosen Mirio to be the successor to All Might and was against the fact that All Might had passed on One for All to Midoriya. This leads to the development of some great character dynamics between Midoriya and Nighteye, which, unfortunately were only touched upon superficially. It had potential to lay solid groundwork for Midoriya’s development, but no such task is undertaken by the author.
One unfounded complaint I’ve heard about this season is that only a few characters get the focus while the rest are discarded which is a problem only if you see it as one. Other characters do get the spotlight at various instances in the previous seasons, but the seasonal nature of the show makes it seem like characters are forgotten at times. Take the Chimera Ant Arc in Hunter x Hunter for example. In this arc two of the main protagonists are not given any screen time for 60 straight episodes and no one batted an eye.
As for the main antagonist this season, Overhaul, was neither exceptional nor bad, he was just OK. He didn’t stand out as much as Stain did, but he felt like a rehashed version of him. I liked Overhaul aka Chisaki as a character, but his motivations are baseless and his ‘means justify the end’ scream hypocrisy. He proclaims that quirks are diseases and should not be allowed to transfer on the next generation, but at the same time invents drugs to increase the potency of one’s quirk.
Speaking of antagonists, it doesn’t feel like the main antagonist of the series, Shigaraki Tomura, has done much progressing since the beginning of the series. I really hope he gets some major role in the upcoming seasons, because I’m honestly starting to get tired of him. At least he’s stopped scratching his neck and being pissed about anything and everything, which is a plus, I guess.
One of the most disappointing aspects of this season has been the lackluster animation. The fights don’t have the fluidity they possessed in the earlier seasons. For the climax of one of the biggest fights this season, Mirio vs Overhaul, we get an amazing slideshow which anyone could’ve made given they had access to the manga, photoshop and MS Powerpoint. They totally made up for it in the succeeding fight, but the stagnant animation and lack of music towards the climax of the previously mentioned fight really takes away much of the poignancy off the payoff.
The animation is by no means bad, but it’s not what I’ve come to expect form My Hero Academia. I hope they’ll fix it in the Blu-ray.
The music is great as always. I wasn’t a fan of either the first or the second opening and ending songs, but that’s just me. Rest of the music, though misused at times, was great.
For me, this season of MHA has been the weakest season yet. I’m more disappointed in the writing and pacing in this season than I am in the animation.
9: High Score Girl II
Japanese: ハイスコアガール II
MAL Score: 8.02
The year is 1996, and second-year high school students Haruo Yaguchi, Akira Oono, and Koharu Hidaka live their lives as passionately about video games as they were five years ago. Brought together by arcade games, what began as a healthy rivalry and friendship has turned into something more. As they endeavour towards understanding their unfamiliar feelings, they work with allies, navigate high school, and find that, although life has its many challenges, there’s always a game or two they can rely on.
Well, what can be said about this but it for me is a 10/10.
The show picks up right after the ‘Extra Stage’ and the story is just spectacular. It may not seem so since it is about video gaming in one sense. But this is really just a sideline matter since it really is a coming of age romance.
The show has Haruo and Akira going through what can be only seen as the pivotal moment in their lives. They live in completely different worlds with the responsibility she holds and his immaturity. They go through some pretty intense situations that bring many emotions forward. Koharu also brings out her feelings openly towards Haruo. The story has a spectacular finale that really pulls the strings of the heart. You are on the edge of your seat waiting for the pivot of the episode that you hope ends as you want it too.
The show is a CGI show that many would complain about. This however actually fits really well with the show. The crazy on-screen situations occurring because of the video games makes this work. It wouldn’t also be right if it didn’t because games like ‘Street Fighter’ are not done in the way of traditional anime but in a more CGI format look.
The OP for the show is great. The ED is spectacular, ‘Unknown World Map by Etsuko Yakushimaru’ really is so fitting for the show. It is a great song too now on my personal playlist. I hope that she continues to do anime.
Characters are pretty much as before but that is perfect. They are growing though, they change in as many ways as they don’t. It is more you can just begin to see the more honest side of them.
Akira is the most outstanding of the characters in that for a girl that doesn’t speak you start to feel like Haruo in that you can almost hear her speaking like he does to understand her. Her emotions are just laid bare. Thankfully we have Koharu to keep reminding Haruo of a girl’s feelings that he misunderstands.
The show is just so enjoyable. Each episode had something new and unexpected and was tense and emotional. The show did not disappoint and is a triumph.
Since this catches up the Manga it is the end. There is a new one ‘High Score Girl Dash’ that is about Koharu when she is a middle school teacher in the future. Hopefully, we get closure on Akira and Haruo in this.
An OVA would be welcomed that shows the finale a few years later with its ultimate conclusion. That said I did wish for that with ‘Toradora!’ yet I still wait.
Acting as a follow-up to Season 1 (and the three OVA episodes I think are actually important), High Score Girl II acts as the finale arc to the story of Yaguchi Haruo and his unconditional love for fighting games. Now starting their first year of high school, things like growing up and past rivalries flare up in this era of adolescence in order to finally put a cap on his long-standing rivalry with the girl that he’s known from his youth, Akira Oono.
High Score Girl is a series I describe as being several parts video game history, several parts character growth, one part romance, and a scarily large part physical abuse for comedic effect. The brunt of the story really is a focus on Haruo and his feelings on both life and the people around him now that he’s in high school with more things to think about aside from just games. It’s because of this that I find his sections of the story to be both rewarding and enjoyable to watch, as it’s time dedicated to detailing and showing the audience the maturity and growth he’s had over the course of his life, while sticking true to his roots as a Guile main.
However the main selling point of High Score Girl is (apparently) its romantic story which unfortunately is a part of the series that misses a few beats with me. The story is good at building romantic tension. The rivalry between the two girls had motivations that felt like it had weight with Koharu especially feeling like she had something genuine to gain or lose by ‘winning the guy’. While I’m not particularly a fan of these kinds of setups outside of generic harems, there were enough stakes for that subplot to come to fruition. Haruo also having agency in his decisions also make the romance a bit sweeter, especially after about a season and a half’s worth of indecision (though that one’s not really through any fault of his own.) Despite those positives, the romance is still not as great as I think a lot of people believe.
For one thing, the season spends only the last third focused on the idea of Haruo having agency over his love life, whereas prior, both girls sent numerous mixed messages that really made me question whether or not this was supposed to be ‘romantic’. With the punchline of the series being “Everyone beat up Haruo every time he does something stupid”, that problem was only exacerbated with time. This problem is furthered by the show sporting a plot mcguffin at the end to achieve a kind of ‘satisfying’ conclusion that feels neither earned nor necessary. It feels like the creators wanted to add something to make the ending more dramatic, but really it just feels like a detail that comes out of nowhere in order to build tension that wasn’t there to begin with.
Regardless, the story of High Score Girl remains as a time capsule for a time long gone for veterans of the fighting game genre with a splash of romance added to the series for color. While I’m still of the opinion that the romance could’ve been way better than how it was portrayed, I’m at least still satisfied with the growth of (most) of its main cast and glad that Haruo is no longer that snot-nosed brat from the beginning of the series.
I’ve praised Haruo’s improvement as a character due to his agency in the latter halves of the season as well as the overall growth of his character from an annoying kid who finds everyone else around him just as annoying. His demeanor and attitude towards the rest of the cast is what sells him for me as a character, since his love of video games remains as a core part of his character, but mostly as a stool to step off of and slowly branch off into other avenues and interests as other things in his life start to become more important to him. It’s nice, and I’m glad he developed the way he did.
Oono though is a different story. So much of her character is aided by the use of side characters and Haruo that she almost feels like a non-factor to the series. Most of her interactions with the rest of the cast rely heavily on everyone else acknowledging her presence, and (towards Haruo only) physical violence. It gets to a point that the ending feels unearned because it makes it seem like, without saying a word, she gets everything she wanted and doesn’t nearly do so much as struggle when comparatively, Haruo does whatever he can to better himself and defiantly decides what he wants out of life and who is the one that fulfills him in the end. Things just happen around Akira, and it irks me how this is considered ‘romance’ when at the end of the day, only one party is speaking.
And then there’s Koharu, the unfortunate heroine of the main trio who unceremoniously gets booted out of the series and barely shows her face in the last third of the season. Inverse to Akira, Koharu’s presence and actions in the series are driven by her own desires and agency to get the things that she wants. Her struggle with coming to terms with her own feelings and the change that went along with it is one of the best arcs the series has made. And it’s a shame that the show ends up doing her dirty the way it did. It feels like a slap in the face because the series basically asserts its authority by saying “You are not the ending” and cuts out what little significance she had left by not giving her so much as a consolation prize for her impact to the series.
Side characters are surprisingly common this time around with a majority of the side cast having prominent roles in the lives of the main trio, and unnecessary characters were cut out to the series’s benefit. Mainstays like the Oono family driver and Haruo’s mom keep up prominent appearances while newer characters like Akira’s older sister REALLY make a splash to make up for any lost time when they weren’t in the series prior. My favorite supporting character however is Guile, Haruo’s SF main, who acts as his spiritual advisor for all situations. Which is kind of amusing, since it makes it seem like Haruo’s losing his mind from playing too many games.
As much as I had hoped, the aesthetics for High Score Girl have not changed, and J.C. Staff still sticking with the low budget 3-D model animation for the series still leaves something to be desired. Granted while it does reflect Oshikiri Rensuke’s artstyle, the movement and overall budget of High Score Girl aren’t really anything to note. It doesn’t take away from the experience all that much, but I would’ve hoped they could’ve at least made some improvements from to make help the characters not move so…unnatural.
The video game graphics are still good, and really help push for that nostalgic factor since the series is littered with pixel sprites and various fighting games from the 1990’s that eventually bleed into the real world as Guile and similar characters make more and more cameos in the real world around Haruo.
The OST was never something that I paid much attention to when I was watching the first season, which unfortunately spells for a similar story for Season 2. Flash sung by sora tob sakana is remarkably similar to the OP of Season 1 that I did a double take to make sure that they were two completely different songs. Personally I don’t find it that memorable, but the retro sounds throughout the piece are at least a nice detail that I want mention.
Yakushimaru Etsuko’s “Unknown World Map” by comparison is better than its OP counterpart, sporting a quieter singer and a calmer, steady tempo that I personally find to be more pleasant. I still don’t find this song to be all that memorable, but it’s at least a nice song to listen to.
I may have forgotten to watch the three OVA episodes before writing this review, but surprisingly enough, I don’t think it’s all that necessary? Yeah you miss on Makoto’s introduction to the series, but she makes enough of a splash in S2 to negate needing to know who she is prior.
High Score Girl is a series that I’ve seen being praised for being a great series with a great romance story that deserves all of the praise that it’s gotten. Honestly…it’s not. Maybe most of it, but in my opinion, it’s a series that succeeds in some aspects, but falters in others. The history and progression of arcade cabinets and fighting games posing as the series’s backdrop is one of the more interesting aspects of the series that I found myself weirdly engrossed in despite never delving into that genre of games. This, combined with Haruo and Koharu’s characters being given time to develop made for the blueprints of a show with a lot of potential. Unfortunately due to some questionable plot choices and committing to the trope of the ‘first girl’, the High Score Girl ends up shooting itself in the foot as it stumbles to the end with a well executed, but unearned ending that feels satisfying, but hollow.
High Score Girl still has my recommendation of being something that’s worth watching. But that recommendation comes with the caveat with sections that I feel should’ve been different and/or the plot wasn’t allowed to change from the rigid structure that it set itself in. Oono not saying anything up till the end is a narrative choice that I feel hurt the series more than helped, and I would’ve liked to see at least something, anything to make her more than just this mysterious, silent girl who just so happens to be an incredible Zangief main.
And I’d have to say that the romance aspect really takes up a notch here as the three kids age, so do their dreams and ambitions that could change within the short span of time. Most particularly for Oono, her family situation hasn’t been the best from Season 1’s build-up that slowly saw her getting more spoiled, and then forcing her to follow family protocol like she doesn’t have a choice of rebuttal to conform to. Coming from Season 1, she has been pretty much quiet for the most part, but when with either Haruo or Hidaka, only does she respond like a human in her robot state. Haruo is always playing his gamer face as usual following Season 1, as games get more bigger and complex that turns his heads 360 degrees around for the latest trends. Same for Hidaka, as her love for Haruo grows stronger, so does the objective to defeat Oono with her much improved skillsets, and understanding the bond between the inseparable duo. This love triangle sure burns brighter than the sun….and the hotter it gets, the love shines forth.
As for the other aspects, for veterans of the previous season, the CGI isn’t too daunting this time, and I’ve just gotta give a shout-out to the animators over at Shogakukan Music & Digital Entertainment (or SMDE for short) managed to do a great job knowing how Season 1 turned out, and refined the missing pointers for improvement towards the sequel for a better experience, especially the arcade games and such. J.C.Staff’s production standards still stands on par with Season 1, so it isn’t a big surprise to see it withstand pretty greatly.
What is a change though, is the music department. Obviously being a new season and such, the relevant music artists came back with another new song in their catalogue, and I’m afraid to say that while group artist sora tob sakana’s 2nd OP is good, the 1st OP is infinitely better IMO, while Etsuko Yakushimaru this time, managed to top her own 1st ED song with the 2nd ED that are both great.
This journey overall has been a fabulous one, and to think that this series spanned 1.5 years from start to finish really shows a lot about the dedication to a fast-dying genre, while keeping it modern. This show truly is a blessing not just as nostalgia but also to people who’d wanna see the replicas of the time of the 90s in anime form (that sadly no longer hooks). Instant recommendation for a binge if you’re finally wanting to watch this all the way through.
8: Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2
English: Teasing Master Takagi-san
MAL Score: 8.10
Even after spending a considerable amount of time with Takagi, Nishikata is still struggling to find a perfect plan to defeat the expert teaser. A battle of wits, a contest of physical prowess, a test of courage—any strategy he employs to expose her weaknesses is to no avail. On the contrary, Nishikata’s pitiful attempts only reveal more of his own flaws, which Takagi takes advantage of to become increasingly daring in her teasing attempts. To make things worse for Nishikata, rumors about him and Takagi may have spread in class due to the frequent interactions between them.
However, the optimistic Nishikata believes that wisdom comes with age and that as the days go by, his experience with her constant teasing will eventually bear fruit, leading him to the awaited moment of victory. Thus, Nishikata continues to strive for the seemingly impossible—to outsmart Takagi and make her blush with embarrassment.
However, I can’t do the same for Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2 at all, because that wouldn’t be doing it justice.
At its core, the second season doesn’t change anything drastically from the first – we have our two main characters and their teasing formula, our three side characters from Ashita wa Doyoubi, a side couple, and a new addition of another side couple who don’t get much screentime. So what makes the big difference between the two seasons? If I had to put it in one word, it would be passion. It feels as if a new team of die-hard Takagi-san fans have taken over the adaptation, and they’ve done everything in their ability to bring out the absolute best of what a story like Takagi-san could offer in this second season.
From fixing the awkward pacing issues of the first season that even as someone with the Takagi-san manga on his favorites list for a long time I could not ignore, to beautifully tying up episodic chapters to make them have more impact, to even coming up with completely new anime-original segments – which are all up there for me with my favorite manga chapters, that’s how much I loved them – the studio have clearly given it their all for this season, and it is definitely reflected in how much I have enjoyed every single moment of it.
And of course, something important which I should probably have said earlier – the anime-original segments I mentioned include actual romantic progression! If you enjoyed season 1’s “Critical Hit”, then you’re going to love this season – you’ll be feeling those critical hits through the screen, as the “teasing” has long since passed the line most people would call “flirting”.
To sum it up – if you liked the previous season, you are going to love this one. If you felt lukewarm about the previous season, there is still a very good chance you are going to love this season.
This season gets a honest 10/10 for me, and I wish every adaptation was given as much care as this one – but for now I’ll just be happy that one of my favorites got one.
The first thing I would like to mention happens to be the characterization between the 2 main characters. In the previous season Takagi always enjoyed making fun of Nishikata and winning their games to frustrate him, she finds it hilarious to dismantle the plans he spends hours coming up with and always being one step ahead. This season is different, although the bullying Takagi did in the last season seemed some what mean spirited to Nishkata, this season Takagi was generally a lot more kind and made it pretty clear she likes him and even tried to throw a few of their games on purpose. Of course, Nishikata is way to fucking dense to ever get the obvious signs that she wants him to just grab her hand and lean in for a kiss, but who can blame him he is like 11 and does not have much life experience. This improvement in characterization, especially during the anime original camping scenes, greatly improves the atmosphere of the show for viewers, as we no longer have to feel exhausted watching Nishikata get bullied episode after episode with no chance of winning. Takagi being kind and clearly trying to make games where Nishikata could win if he had some courage changes the atmosphere from being exhausting to refreshing, the show has progressed further into the romance genre and focuses less on the same overused mind games that occurred before. There is also one big moment in the show near the end where Nishikata does step up and its quite touching and shows how far he has grown since the start of the series.
Something else that improved in the show is the sound track, the opening actually covered a lot of the themes in the show, Takagi and Nishikata rivalry, their romantic undertone, the experience of adolescence of the other relevant characters in the series, and blended them all together in a very well-made OP. The general sound effects and OST did not change much however its use improved, the same soundtrack was not used for multiple stories back to back and instead the show alternated between them to keep it fresh, while in the first season they constantly used the exact same theme, you know which one I am talking about, whenever a new story started in the episode.
One other thing that improved was the focus on side characters, the show was getting boring with the entire focus being on Takagi and Nishikata in season 1. However, this season the 3 side girls had their own segments every episode and it made for a very comfy slice of life break from the drama between Takagi and Nishikata. The jokes involving the 3 girls were also of a completely different kind from the mind game jokes between the main characters which creates variety instead of the tired and overused humor we were seeing earlier. The other side characters like Nishikata’s friends had more scenes as well in which they served as commentary on the main characters, pointing out the frustrating stuff the viewers noticed but also misunderstanding some aspects of the power dynamic between Takagi and Nishikata which was sort of funny. Even the teacher got some more screen time and went from a hard ass who exists to yell at Nishikata to a more respectable guy who is just trying to properly educate children and make sure they behave in a reasonable way.
As far as art and animation go, Takagi San season 2 isn’t really any different from season 1, but that is alright no one is watching this show for quality animation or amazing art, it’s a romcom set in a middle school after all. Some things that were an improvement though was that the same background art was not being reused like last season, there were many new parts of the school, the town, and of course the entire background during the camping episode along with the starry sky that were very different from season 1.
Overall though these improvements do vastly improve the show for the viewer, even if a lot of mind games are the same as before, and the story plays out the same, there has been growth in the relationship between the main characters. The growth along with the small improvements in several aspects of the show lead me to give Skilled Teaser Takagi San 2 a rating of 8, higher then the rating of 7 I gave to the first season.
The series features the day-to-day interactions between the main duo, Takagi-san and Nishigata, which revolves around trivial moments in school and daily life, ranging from visiting a small grocery store to throwing stones beside the river. Each episode is divided into several sub-episodes where they will hold small bets or “contests”, with Nishigata being the loser on nearly all occasions. Still, he tries every desperate mean to trick Takagi-san back but fails anyways. Bit by bit, day by day, their relationship grows from the little pranks they put on each other. The second season continues to illustrate Nishigata’s inability to retaliate and the ever-increasing intimacy with Takagi-san.
The immaturity of Nishigata can be pinpointed in the title itself. In Japanese, “-san” is usually used for addressing formally or someone you are not acquainted with, which is basically the equivalence of “Mr.” or “Mrs.” in English. The fact that Nishigata still adopts such a distant approach with Takagi-san even after a whole year shows that he is unable to handle conversations or even a relationship with the opposite sex – a perfect example of how carefully designed Nishigata is.
If I were to nitpick, the show’s greatest downfall would be its repetitiveness. Episodes after episodes of contests with very predictable outcomes are surely dull and boring. Retaining the same format, the story nonetheless showed some progression from the first season, with Nishigata evolving from not revenging at all to reminding himself of the humiliation through push-ups and constantly plotting back at Takagi-san.
It is crucial to bear in mind that Nishigata was merely a grade 7 student(grade 8 in this season). Immaturity, irrationality, and evasion from physical and verbal contact with the opposite sex are all undeniably traits of someone in Nishigata’s age, and that is exactly what the show depicted Nishigata as with panache. Aberrant the scenes may seem, they are nonetheless a genuine and authentic portrayal.
Takagi-san features an art style nuanced from the mainstream. The colour tone is mainly bright and vibrant with the doodle-ish feeling, which is not commonly seen in other popular shows. We can see that the animation is done with passion and care. The backgrounds are well-crafted and details are not compromised.
The opening “Zero Centimeters” is sung by Yuiko Oohara, who also sang Season 1’s opening. The endings are sung by Takagi-san’s voice actor, Rie Takahashi. Not only are the opening and endings catchy, but the background music also gives a youthful and upbeat feeling with its performance with recorders and a piano, fitting the middle school theme perfectly.
Takagi-san has transcended beyond your typical seasonal romcom waifu battleground. It remains one of my favourites in the romance genre for its simple yet meticulous depiction of some heart-tingling and face-blushing middle school romance and touches on themes seldom explored. Next time before you are about to dive into another brawl for waifus, why not take a break and fill your wholesomeness meter with Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san instead?
7: Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken
English: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
MAL Score: 8.11
Thirty-seven-year-old Satoru Mikami is a typical corporate worker, who is perfectly content with his monotonous lifestyle in Tokyo, other than failing to nail down a girlfriend even once throughout his life. In the midst of a casual encounter with his colleague, he falls victim to a random assailant on the streets and is stabbed. However, while succumbing to his injuries, a peculiar voice echoes in his mind, and recites a bunch of commands which the dying man cannot make sense of.
When Satoru regains consciousness, he discovers that he has reincarnated as a goop of slime in an unfamiliar realm. In doing so, he acquires newfound skills—notably, the power to devour anything and mimic its appearance and abilities. He then stumbles upon the sealed Catastrophe-level monster “Storm Dragon” Veldora who had been sealed away for the past 300 years for devastating a town to ashes. Sympathetic to his predicament, Satoru befriends him, promising to assist in destroying the seal. In return, Veldora bestows upon him the name Rimuru Tempest to grant him divine protection.
Now, liberated from the mundanities of his past life, Rimuru embarks on a fresh journey with a distinct goal in mind. As he grows accustomed to his new physique, his gooey antics ripple throughout the world, gradually altering his fate.
The anime starts off pretty good actually with our protagonist (who is a not-so-social-virgin at 37) dying, with his dying wish being “If I ever get reborn, I want to be OP af and want to screw as many girls as I like”; to be fair, I would probably also wish something along those lines. After citing his wish, “the great sage” reincarnates him into another world as the most OP slime ever. Stuff happens and he ends up saving a tsundere dragon from eternal imprisonment by eating him and also saves a village of goblins from direwolves. He, then names all the goblins and direwolves and takes it upon himself to create an ideal living environment for the monsters to live in. Just because he worked as a “contractor” in his previous life, he’s able to plan out a whole city mostly by himself. He also becomes an expert in holding a conversation even though he was lonely and awkward in his previous life. I don’t know how that works, but good for him right?
After planning a whole city mostly by himself, begins the directionless adventure of the slime. This is one of the main problems with this show, it does not know what it wants to be. There’s no overarching narrative, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but audiences at least need a sense of direction of movement in order not to be bored. There was something about there being a demon lord or something, idk it’s probably the same guy that’s present in every other isekai. What the show does is, it makes one of the characters say “Demon Lord” in some way or the other and the anime is like “well that’s enough plot progression for one episode. Who wants tiddies?”. Instead of actual plot we get “plot”. Not “plot” plot, but PLOT. Every girl the slime ever comes across is infatuated with him because we need to construct a harem or it will not be an isekai. Thus, the slime turns into chad slime and is swimming in tiddies, literally. The second problem with the show is that the danger does not feel real. Since the slime, who gets the name Rimuru by the way, is as OP as Goku in his Rainbow Super Saiyan Ultra Instinct Super Saiyan Legendary Super Saiyan God Ultra BS Level 5 form, nobody stands a chance against him. Anyone who challenges him, gets their ass handed to them in about 5 milliseconds. The fights usually go like this:
1. Rimuru’s henchmen fighting evil guy.
2. Evil Guy: You are just cannon fodder.
3. Henchmen lose; evil guy laughs; Rimuru arrives.
4. Evil Guy: You’re just a slime, you can’t do anything.
5. Rimuru beats the shit out of evil guy.
6. Evil Guy: *gasp* *starts following Rimuru for no reason*
Seriously, everyone who ever comes in contact with Rimuru becomes as loyal to him as you’re to anime. There’s this direwolf whose father is killed by Rimuru, but he’s like “meh, shit happens. You killed my father and dozens of my friends with whom I’ve spent my life till now, but you gave me a name so I instantly forgot about them”.
The comedy is ehhh??? I know comedy is subjective, but I can distinguish between well written comedy that isn’t funny just to me and just plain bad comedy. There’s this character who doesn’t speak and just says “mmmhh” and whenever he does that Rimuru goes “Speak up, man”. It was funny the first time but became annoying after it was repeated for a million times. There’s this lizardman who’s arguably the most irksome character in the show because his only purpose in life seems to be to make stupid decisions for the sake of tasteless humour. But, the most annoying part is that those actions, those asinine actions that he takes in the show which we took for granted, actually contribute to plot progression. He overthrows his father, the king of the lizardmen, from the throne during an invasion just because 3 of his henchmen told him that he is strong *annoyed nose exhale*.
The characters are painfully mediocre. Except for one female character, all others are there just to show some cleavage and get wet over Rimuru for no goddamn reason. Rimuru himself isn’t that interesting of a character. We never get an explanation to his motivation or what he wants to do, he just does whatever is presented to him. That’s weak writing. If your character holds his/her characterisation only in the context of the story then that’s weak character writing. There’s not even much to write as the characters are the definition of average. If they were on either end of the spectrum you would have something to say about them, but the characters in this show don’t have much of a personality. Only one character gets anything resembling a backstory which was so cursory that I forgot about it as soon as it happened. The characters are introduced as some kind of badasses only to further paint them as only superficially badass. There’s a character who tames the orcs and has a calm demeanour in his first scene but loses his mind when his plan fails. He’s portrayed as smart and shrewd but isn’t even able to figure out that his own slave is going to kill him.
The female cast consists of useless fanservice character #1, useless fanservice character #2, useless fanservice character #3 up to useless fanservice character #10, and Shizue. You can literally replace the female cast with boobs and it wouldn’t make a dent of a difference. Every female in this show, in one way or another, is only present to hold Rimuru between her boobs or to get angry for absolutely no reason in order to provide “comic relief”. I’ve put comic relief if massive quotations because all it does is annoy the viewer or pad for time as every episode needs to be 20 minutes long. The “comic relief” usually (and by usually I mean all the time) consists of girls vying to get wet over Rimuru or having other characters eat food that they’ve prepared; usually (and by usually I mean all the time) the food is very unpalatable and causes the person eating said food to faint. As you can see these are entirely new concepts that have never been executed or seen before in any anime, ever.
There’s a demon loli who runs around in bikinis blowing up whatever she wishes and is supposed to be a “demon lord” who are apparently the most OP people in the world. The demon loli is defeated by Rimuru by stuffing her mouth with honey; a feat which is applauded by his loyal followers quoting it as “A feat which only Rimuru-sama can accomplish” *exasperated sigh*. The demon loli (that’s what I’m gonna call her because she was only present in the show to appeal to pedos and was such a superfluous character that I don’t even remember her name and can’t be bothered to search for it), becomes besties with Rimuru because, well, we need an excuse to shoehorn in a loli with enough helium in her voice to lead to dizziness, nausea, vomiting, loss of consciousness and ultimately death.
You might be thinking that despite shitting on this show why have I still given it a 4/10. Well, that’s because even though everything about this anime is utterly mediocre, I still had an urge to click the next episode and ended up finishing it in a day so it gets some points there. Even though the fights themselves can’t be considered anything other than one sided massacre, they were still fun to watch.
Oh, almost forgot. The music is ok, the OPs and EDs are just fine and with the exception of one piece (which I just can’t seem to be able to find), all the others are forgettable. The animation is pretty solid though, especially during the fights. But, what good is animation when the majority of the show is as bland and tasteless as frozen dry fruits.
If isekai is your thing, then go for it, but again if you really like isekai then you’ve probably already watched it. If you don’t like isekai and are going to try it because you’ve heard so many good things about it, then I’d recommend you to refrain from watching it. This is another one of those mediocre isekai that has been hyped to high heavens by the anime community. It’s literally like any other isekai.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime has one colossal issue preventing it from being the fun wholesome D&D comedy it wants to be. There are no stakes because of the insanely overpowered protagonist—Rinmuru. He was a 37-year-old office worker randomly murdered and then reborn in a new world as a blue slime in a JRPG-like fantasy world. It’s an original twist on the typical isekai plot. Except, it’s marketing bait. Rinmuru turns into a kid, and the whole slime thing gets thrown out of the window. Like most isekai power-fantasies, there’s not much tension. Anything Rinmuru encounters in the world can be effortlessly defeated, draining any suspense out of the show. Instead, the story focuses on comedy and constructing a peaceful civilization.
Isekai power-fantasy anime with video game logic are nothing new. Still, this anime’s premise isn’t inherently flawed—mainly because it aims for a light-hearted tone in a genre full of dreadfully serious and boring shows. The animation in the first episode was excellent, and the background art was highly detailed. The quality quickly went downhill—however, it never lost its goofy colorful style. It balanced this light-hearted tone with some offbeat drama from time to time. At first, the stakes were always low because Rinmuru wasn’t the focus; side characters’ stories were at center stage. Rinmaru would defeat a group or save someone, and then they would join his civilization. After that, they would just become cardboard cutouts destined to sit in the background like furniture. No one in this anime ever gets developed. Most of them barely get any lines other than side comments. The dialogue isn’t substantial. Instead, they make blatant observations. All of the humor got drained out. The writer resorted to the same dumb jokes repeated over and over. Haha, the monster girl has big boobs—peak comedy.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is dull, stupid, and can’t decide what it wants to be. The massive cast of characters have no personalities, no individual sense of humor, and we get no sense of who they are. Once the show gets too bored of it’s ‘slice-of-life’ aspects, it tries to pit Rinmuru against gruesome enemies like the man-eating ogres. There’s no point to these action parts except mindless entertainment. There’s no permanence because no one is in danger. As soon as the foes are defeated, it’s right back to silly, vapid comedy and fanservice. Inevitably the tone became so mismatched that it was no longer enjoyable, even as passive entertainment.
Every supporting character is irrelevant—they’re cannon fodder and fools to entertain Rinmuru. He never needs any of them. They linger around Rinmaru like his giant harem, showering him with praise and occasionally make quips like NPCs. By the midpoint in the show, the most important supporting character is Shion. She is continuously onscreen getting her boobs jiggled by the Rinmaru in slime form—that’s the only time he becomes slime again. Anyone Rinmuru defeats pledges their loyalty to him. One character exceeds him in power, but she comes so late in the series and does nothing. Imagine an immovable object meets an unstoppable force—their fights could’ve been epic. Instead of building off one another, she acts like an idiot, then gets ordered around by Rinmuru. He’s pretty much the only character, so this show earns one whole point in its character category. Rinmuru is mildly entertaining while he’s a slime. After that, you realize you’ve got baited.
The tone has two settings: either unfunny comedy or overly serious. Rinmuru cracks jokes in the heat of combat, and it comes off as tone-deaf. The violent action scenes are quite strange because they clash with his irreverent personality. It tries to blend humor with seriousness in one scene, and the result is just confusion and boredom.
From time to time, the dialogue doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and it’s the show’s best, but also the worst feature. The only thing that made it watchable, that kept me awake for all twenty-five episodes was the occasional funny line. They get sandwiched between bland lines of dialogue, breaking up the monotony. When Rinmaru quips at a weaker enemy for being stupider than him, it feels self-aware. Someone finally acknowledged the show is ridiculous.
Conversely, there is some palpable tension after one plotline gets developed for episodes and Rinmaru’s underlings work to succeed. But after all that build-up, he steps in with an annoyed expression, taunts his enemy with a quip, then easily defeats them. It’s boring. Who wants a main character like this? Before a fight, Rinmaru often says, “this fight won’t be easy,” BUT IT IS ALWAYS EASY. He is too ludicrously overpowered for what this show wants to be. He drains away all of the tension like a vacuum.
Another major problem with the broken story structure of this show is the pacing. The author has so little attention span that there can never be more than one plotline occurring at once. No time for character development. No time for world-building. We have a conflict, and we’ll have to see it to its boring unsatisfying conclusion before the show can even introduce the next plotline. I never thought I would miss Overlord, but at least that show made an effort to tell a story. Every arc in SlimeTime but one ends with an anticlimactic letdown; even ones with flashy action set pieces are still unsatisfying. Any giant final boss monster can easily be killed in one punch as if Saitama himself was reincarnated instead of a boring-ass salaryman.
*Spoilers in this paragraph*
Dozens of potential plot threads get cut off for the sake of the final arc. Unresolved plot threads are left open to be revisited in the next season potentially—though I wouldn’t count on it. And this is not a writing technique the author is intentionally using. Instead, this is a ‘Plan B.’ When the main plotline becomes monotonous and tedious, the author shifts gears into another one. The final arc in the show comes out of nowhere. The new characters, a group of kids, have no personalities other than one trait if we’re lucky. Hollow, bland characters are par for the course in Slime Time, but this is where the show went from boring to painful. It tries to make us care about the new NPC kids. We were told by the show that they are going to die if Rinmaru doesn’t help. Thankfully he doesn’t care about anything, so he ditches his small civilization temporarily to help them. He resolves the conflict by himself, totally separately from the kids. They end up just following him around, trying to act important like the rest of the supporting cast in this terrible hackneyed series. But of course, they teased a second season. I can’t wait for another 25-episodes of this mediocrity.
Overpowered main characters are a staple of the isekai genre, and That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime is no different. Studio 8bit’s stellar art style and the first two theme songs were fantastic. However, the production was not enough to carry such a disjointed and underwhelming story. If you’re a fan of the isekai genre, then you might enjoy the irreverent humor for a little while; Until that too gets devoured by the slime-loli-thirty-seven-year-old-virgin.
After being turned into a light novel, Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken (That Time I got Reincarnated as a Slime) is one of the few isekai shows that I genuinely looked forward to this year. While it subscribes to usual fantasy gimmicks, this show also does a unique job at entertaining the audience through its charismatic main lead, world fiction, and creative storytelling. I refer this show as more of a fantasy isekai, one that has a slime as the superstar.
Can the isekai genre really have potential to be more than just what’s on paper? It certainly could for some franchises. This show is one of them. Satoru is reborn as a slime and his role is crucial to everything around him. Taking on the alias “Rimuru”, he makes up for his appeal through a variety of personality traits: kind, witty, laidback, sarcastic, courageous, and among others. When you look at all these character personalities together, Rimuru can be very likable. In the early portion of the show, we see Rimuru’s charisma and being able to lead supernatural creatures without fear. He even gives names to his new friends while showing his compassion. Rimuru is built to be special in the show. This is established through his immense abilities (such his Predator skill), where viewers can easily point fingers at him for being overpowered. Indeed, this isn’t an overstatement. In most of his battles, they are more like curb stomp face offs where Rimuru dominates his opponents. From isekai shows in today’s world, overpowered characters aren’t uncommon. What actually sets Rimuru apart is his unnatural charisma and human behavior. The witty conversations and small talks he engages with others often makes his fights much entertaining than they should be. Even in serious conflicts, Rimuru finds time to make jokes while being strategic enough to formulate a plan. Now, that my friends, is setting a likeable isekai protagonist by example.
Yet, this show can be a tearjerker at times too. The emotional context draws important value with a character named Shizu. After a titanic battle against a demon known as Ifrit, we learn about her past and Rimuru even inherits her will. Taking on her form, Rimuru realizes that he can’t save everyone regardless how powerful he is. It sets the path of his journey to keep promises such as being a mentor for younger kids. In the latter half of the show, Rimuru finds a group of children with magical potential and tries to lead them as a positive role model.
Even as an isekai show established with such a powerful protagonist, its character cast shouldn’t be overlooked. We meet a variety of characters with colorful personalities during Rimuru’s adventures. Some of the most noticeable ones includes his allies such as Shion, Shuna, Gobuta, Benimaru, Ranga, and later on, the Demon Lord Millim. Through Rimuru’s character interactions, it’s easy to see how his charisma inspires others. Many of Rimuru’s followers shows great respect for him and similarly, he deeply cares about them. Even Millim, a Demon Lord with overwhelming powers, takes a liking to him as the two forms an unlikely alliance. Respect of course isn’t just demanded but earned. Thanks to Rimuru’s abilities, he manages to make alliances with the most unlikely races. Under Rimuru’s leadership, he even sets forth to build a new country with his allies. The central element of storytelling relies on Rimuru’s way of showing his will. He proves this throug his actions and words. Really, by the end of the show, I felt like I understood Rimuru far more than I originally anticipated.
Despite my love for the show’s witty humor, colorful character cast, and storytelling, I should point out the anime still suffers from pitfalls. Fan service scenes with baths are common and Rimuru is still vulnerable to earthly desires in the fantasy world. In fact, I dare say the author made the monster girls as cute and sexy as possible. Millim and Shion are prime examples for their character designs. Just take a close look at them. Millim is pretty much half naked in her default outfit while Shion gives more of a mature lady vibe. Like most fantasy isekai, elves are characterized as desirable by males. This is shown early in the show when Rimuru encounters them and finds himself in brief moments of lust. While the storytelling has adequate development and carries an emotional weight, it’s hard to say that it’s great writing. In fact, many of Rimuru’s battles are extremely predictable even against the strongest of adversaries. In most of those fights, you should certainly expect Rimuru to be the winner. While the series also gives some of its supporting cast time to shine, most of the spotlight falls under our little slime-kun. Perhaps a bit too much…
Finally, 8-bit is back. After years of mediocre light novel adaptations like Infinite Stratos and Knight’s & Magic, Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken’s sets a bar for being a marvelous example of world fiction. The magical world contains fruitful amount of content such as the various nations we see. Tempest is the most prominent one ruled by Rimuru. Located in the Jura Forest, it’s a prime example of a monster country filled with larger than life characters. Meanwhile, other locations such as Brumund Kingdom and Dwargon reminds me of the high fantasy elements of the isekai genre. While the visual quality can look a bit cartoonish at times, it remains vibrant, bright, and contains a fine degree of palette. It suits for this particular show with its lighthearted humor. The character designs are of course worth mentioning in the case of Rimuru, the Demon Lords, his monster allies, and the infamous Veldora Tempest. At times, I feel like the author really put his thought into making them look as otherwordly as possible. The battle choreography also delivers a visual direction of what isekai shows should be. Nothing too groundbreaking but being able to showcase what characters’ abilities can really do. You should definitely not expect a DBZ-level style of action quality but be prepared for some jawbreaking cinematography.
Don’t you just wish life was simpler these days? Looking back at Rimuru’s adventure, I confess that I am a bit envious of his life. He is so carefree despite being an such a prominent figure in his world. Whether taking on the form of a slime, human, or Shizu, Rimuru makes everything look so easy. As such, watching this show felt like an easy way of passing time and enjoying what the author creator wanted us to experience. Now I wish life was easier.
6: Fruits Basket 1st Season
Japanese: フルーツバスケット 1st season
MAL Score: 8.22
Tooru Honda has always been fascinated by the story of the Chinese Zodiac that her beloved mother told her as a child. However, a sudden family tragedy changes her life, and subsequent circumstances leave her all alone. Tooru is now forced to live in a tent, but little does she know that her temporary home resides on the private property of the esteemed Souma family. Stumbling upon their home one day, she encounters Shigure, an older Souma cousin, and Yuki, the “prince” of her school. Tooru explains that she lives nearby, but the Soumas eventually discover her well-kept secret of being homeless when they see her walking back to her tent one night.
Things start to look up for Tooru as they kindly offer to take her in after hearing about her situation. But soon after, she is caught up in a fight between Yuki and his hot-tempered cousin, Kyou. While trying to stop them, she learns that the Souma family has a well-kept secret of their own: whenever they are hugged by a member of the opposite sex, they transform into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
With this new revelation, Tooru will find that living with the Soumas is an unexpected adventure filled with laughter and romance.
There’s one thing for certain: Fruits Basket is a best-seller in the West. Whether you’re a fan of shoujo genre or not, the series has a large fan base that still exists today. As a fan myself, I’ve read the series many years ago and have seen the first anime adaptation. Coming into the new Fruits Basket feels like a trip down memory lane. Only this time, we have enhanced visuals updated to more modern quality and a commitment to bring a full adaptation. For an emotional story and character driven show, Fruits Basket is a classic.
It’s 2019 and bringing a show from the past isn’t that simple. The biggest question on many people’s mind revolves how many episodes will the new season consist. With the actual amount of content from the manga, it’s not enough for just 25 episodes. Hence, it’s labeled as “first season” serving as a remake continuation of the franchise. However, something else came to my mind with its staff and cast. Fruits Basket’s characters are significant and to bring their personalities on the TV screen would need an A+ level of talent. Luckily, there’s no need to worry as the voices in this show are able to step up to the plate. Tohru Honda’s VA has changed for the new adaptation but her personality remains relatively the same. For those new to the franchise, she is the main female protagonist and an incredibly kind high school girl. While her character introduction may cause some heads to turn away (I mean, who would be impressed by an orphan living in a tent?), there’s no doubt she is a selfless person. She is loyal and often optimistic about her life. There’s many times in the show where she treats others with respect and is well known for her kindness. At the same time, Tohru’s weakness shows in her personality with her being too forgiving of others. Her character growth this season is slow but should be respected as the anime wants to flesh out her personality as much as possible. Most importantly, the show establishes her as an iconic shoujo character.
Meanwhile, we shouldn’t forget about the other main cast. Fruits Basket is a shoujo after all and isn’t complete without important male characters. These consist of members the Soma family. Most prominently, there’s Kyo and Yuki. The characters themselves are based off of the Eastern Chinese Zodiac with 12 animals. Strangely enough, Kyo himself is not part of the Zodiac although he is still a member of the family. He is portrayed as a young man with a short temper who often gets into pity arguments with Yuki. Their rivalry is relentless with battle of words, contests, and occasional physical fights. However, their rivalry is more about Kyo trying to prove himself and whether he truly can be accepted as a member of the Soma family. In other words, it’s not really some blood feud with lives at stake. Plus, a princely guy like Yuki isn’t the type that would want to harm others. His gentle and reserved personality at school earned him many fans, including his own personal fan club. Despite this, Yuki is portrayed as a distant man who isn’t easy to make friends with. Throughout the show, he develops a unique bond with Tohru as the two understands each other more. It’s also important to realize the season occasionally shows cryptic parts of his darker past. We don’t see it often but there are windows of moments where he shows insecurity and fear. Any new fans would no doubt be curious to learn more about Yuki. And as the more episodes progresses, the more complicated his character gets.
On the other hand, the more you look at Kyo, the more you can probably realize he’s growing a deeper affections towards Tohru. There are some episodes that shows his curiosity about her and even transforming into a genuine friendship. From a character relationship perspective, their chemistry evolves surely, although slowly. Tohru herself also begins to see his true character, beyond that of a hotblooded youngman. It’s important to know that outside of the Sohma family, she has close friends such as Arisa Uotani and Saki Hanajima. It’s noticeable that the anime dedicates time to focus on all three of them ranging from when they first met to how much they deeply care about each other in the present timeline. Similarly, Tohru has a deep devotion for her deceased mother. Known for its flashbacks, Fruits Basket both shows and tells a story about the importance of family. It’s a tear inducing story once you truly understand how much Tohru’s mother cares about her. At the same time, Tohru inherits characteristics from her mother as being a selfless woman who isn’t afraid to protect her friends.
The more I watched this new version of Fruits Basket, it made me wonder how they can introduce the other characters properly. Remember, there are 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac and outside of the two main guys, there are at least 10 others. Shigure Sohma is introduced early on after taking in Tohru in as a house guest. Being much laid back than others, there’s not much we understand about him although he is a man with a word of wisdom. Unfortunately, this season doesn’t fully explore his character so anime fans will have to wait a bit longer. Others such as Kagura, Momoji, Hatsuharu, Hatori, and Ayame are also introduced in various episodes. While not being prominently featured as the main cast, they do have value in the show despite some portrayed as being very childish. Kagura and Momoji are key examples of this with their behavior. I mean, who can forget about the episode with Kagura practically jumping herself into Kyo’s arms? Indeed, while Fruits Basket often carries a melancholic mood, there’s many comedic moments. There’s even a running gag in the show with the guys losing their clothes after being hugged and transforming into animals. Now that’s a curse to really be careful of. But perhaps one of the most mysterious character is someone named Akito. This character is mentioned many times by the main cast, most prominently by Yuki. Just who is Akito? What’s this character’s purpose? And why does Akito make Yuki react in such fearful ways? If you want answers, you’re going to be in for a long ride.
TMS Entertainment is honestly a studio I have mixed thoughts for. They do have a history of producing shoujo anime such as Kamisama Kiss and even bringing back long running franchises like D Gray Man a few years ago. After seeing the promotional material for the anime, I’m thankful to say there’s no need to worry. The animation quality lives up to modern standards with the vibrant and colorful character designs. They’re faithful to the manga on most parts with updated quality compared to the 2003 version. The setting itself presents a youthful field of decorated visuals full of life. And of course, the ladies will be in for a treat with the guys getting the bishounen makeover.
The fact that I’m even talking about Fruits Basket in 2019 is amazing by itself. Not too many franchises gets the golden treatment of having a complete remakes these days especially for the anime medium. Fruits Basket is a great example of a show that deserves this continuation for the 2003 version didn’t truly live up to its expectations. Here, we have the beginning of a beautiful journey and a reminder of why certain franchises deserves to be revived.
I know that’s an unpopular opinion as the author and manga readers despised the original anime for dropping the ball in terms of adapting the manga but I thought it was a pretty good show, despite its flaws.
When Fruits Basket 2019 was announced around late 2018 I was very excited as I finally got to experience this tragic tale in complete form.
I went into Fruits Basket 2019 with very high exceptions as I expected the series to deliver it’s promises and fortunately the series managed to meet and surpass my high exceptions as Fruits Basket 2019 is only the best anime I have ever encountered but it’s easily the best Shoujo anime I have seen from this decade.
Watching Fruits Basket 2019 story unfold was like picking up light hearted fairy tale book only to find out that the fairy tale book that picked has a lot of dark and mystery elements in it. That’s Fruits Basket 2019 plot in the nutshell. It’s a dark and intriguing story that was disguised as a fluffy and light-hearted story.
One of the things you begin to notice while watching the first couple of episodes was how it simply got straight to the point. The series wastes no time establishing its characters, themes and mystery elements to the viewer. It felt like a proper introduction and the way the show did was astounding.
Naturally this is an anime remake and the whole point of an anime remake is not only to fix the flaws were presented in the original adaptation for that particularly series but to also tell the present the classic story again to newer anime fans. This is Fruits Basket 2019 second biggest strength.
You can clearly tell that the Fruits Basket 2019 director Yoshihide Ibata had passion, respect and ambition towards this remake as he made sure it was accurate to the manga from story elements, themes and characterisation and it shows especially in the second half where the original anime went out of bounds.
Before we talk about Fruits Basket 2019 biggest strength I want to talk about the other aspects that it does well-staring with the well handed tonal shifts. One of my biggest issues I have with modern anime is how they struggle to have a consistent tone and many anime that shall be nameless end up being bad.
Thankfully Fruits Basket 2019 doesn’t suffer from this as it knows how to use its tonal shifts and it never feels out of place due to the show understanding pacing.
Speaking of pacing that’s an another aspect that Fruits Basket well.
The plot moves at the smooth and consistent pace that never bores the viewers. The smooth pacing also gives characters as its mystery and plot elements enough time to shine. Which leads me to Fruits Basket biggest strength theme exploration.
The series explores the themes of child abuse, family, bullying, memories, pain, love, accepting your true self, guilt child abandonment and discrimination. I loved how the series was able to execute and present its theme to the viewer without feeling forced or hamfisted thanks to great writing and direction. This was in retrospect absent in the original anime.
Obviously a well-written story like this is nothing without strong and likeable characters and fortunately the characters are just as great as the well written plot.
Thoru is one of the best Shoujo protagonists I’ve ever encountered in a long while. I know you guys are thinking right now. But you called her a great character already in your original Fruits Basket review.
It is true that I called Thoru a great character in my review for the original anime however the reason why she was not one of my favourite Shoujo leads period is that she a bit of a Mary Sue. 2019 Thoru is not a Mary Sue whatsoever she a caring but mentally damaged person.
Throughout the series we see trying her best to break the Shoma family curse by getting to know the Souma family as well not losing her cool in life due to her tragic past that damaged her mentally as a person. She also a nicely developed character as she changes through the plot with each new Shoma counter.
In the original anime Momiji was my character in series however in the remake Kyo is my favourite character. I just low how aggressive and caring he is when interacting with other characters. Kyo is also a well-developed character as he goes from an angry individual who hates everyone especially to a friendlier person who is able to his peers. Kyou strong characterisation is only better with his sad and well-written backstory.
Yuki is an another character that I really liked. I loved he’s clam, charming and mysterious personality when he talks to other characters in the series. He also develops through the anime as he goes from an isolated individual who has a hard time communicating to his peers due the Shoma family curse in him to a more spoken individual who is able express his feelings towards others.
The supporting characters are just good and well-written as the main characters.
In the original series Saki and Arisa were mostly comedic relief characters that only embraced the comedy nature of the original series.
They were hardly relevant in the original plot minus a few key scenes notably episode 25. The remake turns Arisa and especially Saki into more serious and relevant characters and it was honestly for the better.
Seeing them properly characterised in this remake put a smile on my face as my wish for the now defunct season 2 of the original anime was granted. They finally became more than just tools of the plot as both Arisa and Saki as just as interesting as the Shoma family.
This is not to say Saki and Arisa aren’t funny characters at all they still retain they gags and personality quirks that never fail to make the laugh their asses off.
The other Shoma members are also great. Every Shoma member is unique in terms of personality and seeing them interact with Thoru and the other Shoma members was fascinating due to Fruits Basket 2019 outstanding character chemistry.
The series also manages fantastically characterise every Shoma member to a point where you can sympathise with them including the some of the more loud and bizarre members like Kagura and Hrio.
If there was one word to describe Fruits Basket 2019 it would be gorgeous. Studio TMS did an outstanding job at bring the show to life with the smooth and sharp character designs that were only the enhances by the smooth bright and vibrant colour palette.
The background scenery is bright, well-detailed, and the lighting is spot on. As for actual animation it’s pretty good. Character movement is smooth and there’s hardly any still frames used.
The series may not be visually stylish as Demon Slayer and March Comes in Like a Lion but it makes up by great direction and shot competition especially towards the final 4 episodes.
Fruits Basket 2019 soundtrack is for the most part very good. The soundtrack features an upbeat, cheerful and melancholic score that perfectly the tone of the anime.
The first opening theme Again by Beverly is a beautifully composed song that perfectly captures the tone of the series.The second opening theme Chime” by Ai Otsuka is an upbeat and sparkling song that captures the more light-hearted elements in the series.
The first ending theme Lucky Ending by Vickeblanka is one of my favourite ending themes of all time due it’s calming and beautiful bass. Fun fact the singer who did the ending theme for this also did the famous kickass third opening theme for Black Clover Black Rover.
The second ending One Step Closer by INTERSECTION may not be as great as Lucky Ending but it’s still a pretty solid song.
The voice acting is strong in both languages but if I had to pick between the original Japanese audio and the Funimation English Dub I would easily pick the Funimation Dub. Not only the dub was very well-acted, but the audio quality was top notch. Returning voice actors Laura Bailey, Jerry ewell and Eric Vale absolutely blew the Seiyuus counterparts away.
The new voice cast for certain characters is also very good. My favourite newcomer for the dub is Mikaela Krantz who did a great job of portraying the bubbly Monoji especially with that German accent.
Overall its personal preference but I suggests giving the English Dub a shot.
Watching Fruits Basket 2019 reminded me why I love this medium. It is a fantastically written and charming series that screams passion and love.
Compared to FMAB and Hunter x Hunter 2011 where you have the opinion to check the original adaptations for more detailed versions of earlier arcs there’s little to no reason to watch the original anime as this remake from head to toe did everything better.
Sure the original series may have nostalgia factor but nostalgia is only as good as it’s overall quality and that where Fruits Basket 2001 unfortunately falls flat on that regard.
Fruits Basket 2019 is not only great it’s the type of great that makes you laugh, smile, cry and happy.
Studio TMS and Yoshihide Ibata thank you for bringing this classic story to the modern day.
I’ll go through each point that made me love this anime that didn’t please me as much in the beginning. Firstly, let me tell you that this anime is perfect for shoujo lovers, BUT I’ll try throughout my review to interest the people who skip this only because it’s categorized as a shoujo.
Fruits basket is a simple shoujo story as we could have seen at first sight. Our main girl, Tohru Honda helps certain people affected by a curse that makes them transform temporarily into a cute animal of the zodiac when they hug someone of the opposite sex. What is the big deal you would say?
Yeah doesn’t mean much as a problem for me also when I started this anime. The beginning is what you expect from a typical shoujo show. A cute and simple girl flirting with handsome males that makes jealous others random female students at school. And she starts to live with them from the very first episode! In the first episodes, you could find that all is going well without any strong pressure and you will probably think: “Ah, another shoujo/slice of life anime without interest”.
You could’ve never been so wrong.
As the anime and the story advances, you will discover a very dark and mysterious story behind all the characters, and it doesn’t limit at the mains ones! That’s one of the strongest point of Fruits Basket (2019), the characters are really well written. Theirs backstory are roughs, deeps, unpleasant, frightening but also sometimes happy and they made them as they are today. All their interactions with the other members of the cast are coherent and really well thought taking into account their own experiences, traumas, etc… even if the spectator doesn’t know them yet.
From a certain point in the anime, the mysteries about the past lives of some characters start to be revealed. And it’s done in a magnificent way. Trust me when I say you will need more tissues than you usual jerking week routine. More seriously, the way this anime conveys the feeling is incredible and is on par with Violet Evergarden as an example. Those few episodes really hit the spectator because for some characters, all the pressure built during the anime releases suddenly as a flow of beautiful flashbacks, hidden memories and sickening past situations that explain a lot about how they are behaving today. Even for the characters that were not hinted to have a dark past, we do get some breathtaking moments that will stay on your mind for a while after.
I also must highlight that Tohru is one of the strongest characters I’ve seen in this genre of anime. Being able to put on the truest smile you’ve seen and being constantly a flurry ball of cheerfulness for everybody she met while staying reasonably true is something truly admirable if we consider what she has been through.
Enough about the characters, the music/sound in Fruits Baskets (2019) serves perfectly its role. Accentuating the emotional moments when it should and give a relaxing tone when the story goes on. And God I love the endings, they did a really good job, the songs are very emotional and remind us at the end of every episode the feels that went through during the last 24-min (If you saw episode 24, you know how powerful it can be haha). Moreover, they are meaningful both in their lyrics and in their visual.
F-yeah we could do a complete review on the second opening about how Tohru is giving hope and peace for all the characters as we see the cast bring down their umbrellas one by one while the rain stops and the luminous sunrays lightens up their faces.
For a remake, the animation of Fruits Basket (2019) is so worth it. Not much to say about it, it’s just beautiful. The sceneries are great, the movements are fluid and the expressions on the characters faces really feel authentic and is giving a lot to the spectator.
Overall Fruits Basket (2019) is close to a masterpiece of its genre. A story of love, friendship but mainly a story about life itself. The hard times that we all had once at least can be found and reflected in this anime. Thus, the spectator can easily relate to the various tragic event and it’s so well done that even if he didn’t encounter them in his life, they will still get through him. As Tohru brings peace and joy to the people she loves, Fruits Basket (2019) brings us tears of understanding and a very strong feeling of compassion that makes us want to take into our arms every single character of the show (and it’s not because we only want to pet them after!).
If you loves shoujo or you seek anime like Violet Evergarden with strong emotional moments with beautiful music and smooth animations, you should 100% go for it RIGHT NOW.
And if you are not particularly interested by shoujo nor slice of life anime, why not give it a try? You might be surprised by how moving an anime about simple things in life can be!
5: Diamond no Ace: Act II
English: Ace of Diamond Act II
Japanese: ダイヤのA[エース] actII
MAL Score: 8.24
The hallowed ground of Koshien Stadium is the “field of dreams,” where the ambitions of high school baseball players come true. After emerging victorious in the autumn tournament last year, Seidou High School baseball’s team has finally earned the right to compete there for the first time in seven years. Beyond the spring tournament looms the battle to decide who is the best team in the nation — the Summer Koshien.
With the third-year players due to retire after the summer tournament, the team has to integrate the experience of the seniors and the potential of the newcomers to overcome familiar and new opponents alike and win the coveted national title.
Meanwhile, pitcher Eijun Sawamura is as determined as ever to earn jersey No. 1 and seize the position of “ace” from his persistent rival, Satoru Furuya. As the team prepares for their greatest challenge yet, Sawamura and Furuya carry on their struggle to lead their team to glory and become the star of the game: the true “Ace of the Diamond.”
Jumping right into it, let’s talk about the art and sound. I’ve long said this about Diamond no Ace, but the animation in this anime blows me away. The fluidity in every motion is phenomenal. I won’t harp too much on it, but the art and the animation are absolutely gorgeous. As for the soundtrack, Diamond no Ace has got to have one of the best soundtracks I’ve heard in anime, at least from my experience. The way it’s able to evoke emotion just from a backing track or character theme gets me every time, man. It really does.
Alright, characters. Holy hell, this season was pure joy to watch. This anime definitely doesn’t develop its characters lightly; it takes progression and improvement and failure very seriously, and this season was no exception to that rule. Actually, I found that this season in particular took special care in developing the characters, though maybe that’s due to the fact that a lot of time in this season was spent in practice games rather than actual games, which allowed for an interesting path on which these characters could develop. Though, we didn’t only see amazing personal developments this season from the characters, we got to see interpersonal developments as well. Especially considering the fact that this season added a new cast of characters in the new first years, it was absolutely lovely to watch these fresh relationships grow into the core of what this anime is.
Which brings me to the story. With new characters to develop, barely any official games on the records, and a story dedicated to pure advancement of the characters, was it a worthwhile season to watch? Hell yes it was. It was the best season yet. The story being so focused on team and individual progression as it was allowed me to connect with these characters in a new way. It felt like this season was the perfect setup to a future of Diamond no Ace while also being relentless with progressing the story. I absolutely loved it.
I can’t talk about much more beyond this point without spoiling the season, but let me just tell you, watching Sawamura– in all ways: on his own, with Okumura, with Miyuki, with Kataoka, within the team– grow this season was the most excited I’ve been since starting this journey. Thinking about where he was in episode one of Act II to where he stands now makes me so happy, and I’m counting the days until I can watch him pitch again. Personally, I can’t recommend Act II highly enough. Until the next one!
I would not say that the animation is flawless and great, but it will never disappoint you. All characters, while do look like somewhat similar, are unique. In addition, the moment a game starts, the camera work will never leave you disappointed, bored, or sleepy. Another fact you can commend this series for is the fact that this series also has an amazing OST (that adds to tension in games and makes this series quite epic to watch), as well as the great work the Japanese voice actors did voicing their characters. And while music is not needed for many series, it is a must for sport series to add the needed tension to the series and here, Diamond no Ace: Act II does not disappoint music wise and animation wise.
Diamond no Ace follows Eijun Sawamura, a left-handed pitcher, who also bats with his left. Sawamura was invited to join the baseball team of Seidou High School in West Tokyo on a scholarship. Under the coachship of Tesshin Kataoka, Eijun will need to work with the team to compete against other pro-teams. The new season starts with a brief flashback of Seidou beating rival Yakushi High School in the Tokyo Metropolitan Fall Tournament finals and got invited to the Spring Koshien. Long story short, Diamond no Ace: Act II continues truly high-quality storytelling and character development. It is what makes matches spectacular and characters interesting to follow. Each game is not just a stupid clash of the two teams: it is a unique story, which is being told by one, or two characters of a team; everyone has their own motives to win and something to put at stake. Not only do most of the main characters receive enough development, but also the supporting cast. You understand why all the players are trying to achieve the victory and you might even start to sympathize with any team.
Enjoyment wise, unlike some other sport series, Diamond no Ace is just enjoyable because it has nothing to do with super powers and some other out of ordinary things, it is just how sport should be, where players are actually having it hard, they are trying to get better to improve, where every win costs you a ton of effort to achieve the victory that you desire so much. That is how sport series should be made, it was quite interesting to follow the series and the characters, I have nothing to criticize this series for.
Overall, over the past few years, sports anime have been one of the most consistent, most entertaining genres, and Ace of Diamonds is yet another example of this. If you, however, have never seen the series and are afraid of watching it because of the number of series, do not be afraid, it is worth your time. Indeed, it is not a show for everyone, but it has interesting storyline and amusing characters and also provides some fascinating insight into Japanese baseball culture.
Art – 6/10
Although sometimes the anime can have its moments, I feel as if things were like really linear this time. Past seasons had better animation in my opinion, openings still had pretty good animation. A few episodes have good animation, but where its just training, the animation is kinda cheeks.
Sound – 7/10
I don’t really see any problem with it. Openings like I said above are pretty good, ending is also pretty nice. The OST over the past 3 seasons have become very nice to hear. They always have the correct time for a specific soundtrack to come in and some soundtracks have been an addition in Act 2.
Character and Story – 10/10
If you want more explanations, feel free to leave a comment on my profile. The character development is probably top class. Its not like some other anime where they just become overpowered instantly. This actually takes its time with each and every one of its characters. They make their characters have depth and its quite amazing. The main cast really shines and they give good screen time to other characters. How we have come this far and how I am still engrossed in the show is quite amazing. Seeing Sawamura and Furuya’s development is truly a treat.
Enjoyment and Overall – 8/10
While not as good as other seasons, this still has me watching just for the character development, story and repeatable soundtrack. If you are looking to get into this series and a good show to watch during the pandemic, I would highly recommend this show.
4: Dr. Stone
English: Dr. Stone
MAL Score: 8.31
After five years of harboring unspoken feelings, high-schooler Taiju Ooki is finally ready to confess his love to Yuzuriha Ogawa. Just when Taiju begins his confession however, a blinding green light strikes the Earth and petrifies mankind around the world—turning every single human into stone.
Several millennia later, Taiju awakens to find the modern world completely nonexistent, as nature has flourished in the years humanity stood still. Among a stone world of statues, Taiju encounters one other living human: his science-loving friend Senkuu, who has been active for a few months. Taiju learns that Senkuu has developed a grand scheme—to launch the complete revival of civilization with science. Taiju’s brawn and Senkuu’s brains combine to forge a formidable partnership, and they soon uncover a method to revive those petrified.
However, Senkuu’s master plan is threatened when his ideologies are challenged by those who awaken. All the while, the reason for mankind’s petrification remains unknown.
The setting of the show is so intriguing that you’ll get sucked right in: Earth has been petrified; turned to stone by a mysterious light that suddenly encompasses the globe. Not one person on the planet is left standing. However, petrification doesn’t mean death. These people are still well and truly alive, but they can’t move, can’t speak, can’t think? Well, there’s one person who’s still maintained his ability to think and through his steely determination, breaks his petrification. I’m talking about none other than the protagonist: Senkuu.
Now, Dr. Stone is a show that you’ll only fully appreciate if you can give a pass to its ridiculous science fiction stuff. A lot of what it portrays in terms of science is correct, however, the way the characters achieve it is fairly exaggerated. That’s all down to the genius of Senkuu. He’s a supercomputer in the skin of a human. Senkuu is a guy made by mixing all of the most brilliant brains to ever exist in the real world. He’s just ten billion times smarter.
The main focus of Dr. Stone is showcasing the brilliance of Senkuu and his little science team that he manages to gather. The gang of characters that he befriends all have their different goals and personalities. His initial encounters with them are not always on friendly terms but one of the things that’s good to watch about this anime is how these characters work together with an aim to form the kingdom of Science – Senkuu’s ultimate objective. Most of the inventions of the team wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation and expertise of each individual and this, in my opinion, is one of the major standout points in the show.
The story starts off with Taiju finally deciding to confess his feelings to the girl he’s loved for all his life. But, just like all great things, this does not come to pass. Right before his confession, the world is petrified. Along with Senkuu, Taiju is one of the few characters who partially maintained his ability to think, and that was largely thanks to his overwhelming love for Yuzuriha. He’s a hardheaded character (in both senses) who’s a perfect foil for Senkuu’s genius. He does most of the physical stuff which Senkuu isn’t great at, and their partnership together is what helps them overcome their greatest enemy.
Speaking of the enemy, that would be Tsukasa Shishio: the strongest person in the show thus far. He is another example of the exaggerations in the show as he’s shown to be powerful enough to kill lions with a single punch. His petrification is cured by Senkuu when he found himself in a perilous situation. However, the two soon find themselves to have totally opposite goals. Their rivalry is a great example of what Dr. Stone is about: brains vs brawns. We don’t see too much of Tsukasa after the initial few episodes but I do expect him to play a major part in the upcoming seasons.
The fiery Kohaku is the first of the many characters of the “new generation” that Senkuu encounters in his quest. She’s a fiery girl who’s one of the best fighters in this prehistoric world and one whose story I particularly enjoyed. Then there’s Chrome, the yang to Senkuu’s yin; a science user who’s shunned as a sorcerer as people find his interests weird. I personally think that Asagiri Gen, one of the characters introduced a bit later in the first half of the season, is one of the best in the show. I won’t go into details about him because almost anything I say about him would be more than some minor spoilers.
The art of Dr. Stone is great with extremely detailed backgrounds and character designs, but the animation does leave some question marks at times. It’s not that it’s bad, but you can certainly ask for something better, especially for a show that’s garnered this much popularity. There are times when stills are overutilized while the “chibi animations” were somewhat overused. That said, I can’t fault the overall art quality, although I fully expect and hope for this aspect of the show to be improved upon in the second season.
Unlike the animation, I have very little to complain about in the sound department. The OST has a variety of different tracks for various situations and their placement is pretty much spot on. I felt the voice actors too did a great job of mixing comedy along with the more serious stuff. The balance between the two adds a lot to the overall experience of the show. The first opening was good, but I think the second opening truly set the tone for the rest of the episode. I never really got bored of listening to it every episode and the visuals during the OP were perfectly directed.
Dr. Stone is definitely going to irk a few people due to its approach to the sci-fi genre and the way it’s handled. It has divided opinions over the last few months and I can understand where some of the negative opinions may stem from, but it covers up for it in spectacular fashion. But if you can ignore that, you’re in for a hell of a ride and an amazing watch. It kept me wanting more after every episode and I watched it as soon as possible most weeks during its run. Its transition from comedy, which is better than most pure comedy anime out there, to a darker tone whenever required was one of the highlights for me. Overall, Dr. Stone was a great source of entertainment, and definitely one of my favorite anime of the year.
Dr. Stone is an anime that took itself too seriously, and not serious enough — at the same time!
It did this by highlighting the ‘cool’ aspects of science (through Senku’s re-engineering of past inventions), via methods that were beyond human capability. Sure. Humans can grow their own antibiotic (penicillium) through the natural molding process of bread; in fact, this was taken advantage of in ancient Egypt. But is it reasonable for one man to memorize the entire process of producing a sulfa antibiotic, and creating the various instruments necessary in doing so?
Seems rather absurd.
But what’s more unbelievable than these absurd scientific feats, is Senku’s eccentric personality. Actually, everyone’s personality is turned up to an eleven on the ridiculous scale (Taiju would probably be around 3,700). This wouldn’t be a problem if said characters were funny, yet their personalities are anything but. Starting with the man of science himself, Senku, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of all scientific inventions (actually, he puts encyclopedias to shame with their dearth of information). Senku offsets his profound cognitive abilities with an edginess that redefines the trope itself. Essentially, think of Senku as an extreme version of Light Yagami. But where Death Note succeeds in providing an engaging, thought-provoking plot, Dr. Stone is as fake as Matsuda’s girlfriend (forever alone!).
Even bad anime have one character that can make the show, somewhat, bearable. That is not the case for Dr. Stone. (Google) Chrome’s inane antics and exaggerated facial expressions would normally be sufficient to categorize him as the worst character of the show; however, Taiju’s tomfoolery is second to none (although, Ginrou’s cognitive bêtise was something to behold — so many awful characters). Moving on from the comedically impoverished lot, Shishiou is the token evil dude who is bent on world domination. Instead of a personality, he perform epic physical feats like punching a lion or snatching a bird in mid-flight (dude thinks he’s a f—kn’ falcon). Kohaku is your basic action-girl, and Yuzuriha is just that…m-minus the action, meaning: she’s just a girl (hard to believe, I know).
The amount of posing in Dr. Stone puts runway models to shame. Every time Senku inspires Chrome — which seems to be at least once per episode — they overly dramatize the situation to make it look like the two are going to save the world. Incidentally, this tone matched numerous events, particularly the tournament for Ruri’s hand in marriage. The staff conveyed a sense of urgency in winning the tournament, but zapped all tension away when “liquid hot” Magma lost in the second round. Also, the tournament itself was a travesty of bland fights, mismanaged pacing, and excessive stupidity.
Dr. Stone sort of had an interesting concept (turning everyone into stone), but it quickly dissolved into bat shit. The isekai-ish plot, along with the MMORPG style of acquiring new items was a stark reminder that Dr. Stone was a video game masquerading as an anime, meaning: we all got played.
The year is 5738, and the entire human population was petrified in stone three millennia ago. Three thousand years in the future, one kid awakens. He isn’t your typical kid. He’s Senku, and he’s ten billion percent smarter than the average high school student. Now that civilization has regressed to the stone age, and the world needs a hero. Senku embarks on a journey to rebuild civilization with his knowledge of science.
First of all, if you are expecting a grand story about reconstructing the 21st century within twenty-four episodes, you will be disappointed. I initially assumed this would be a dystopian action-adventure—it’s not; this is an edutainment comedy about science. I understand why this direction frustrated a lot of people. The trailers and promotional material were misleading. Unfortunately, this led to people harshly nitpicking it. It blows my mind that people have said the writing is shallow, without redeeming value and lacking focus. This series successfully uses an unreliable narrator; this gives it a sense of unpredictability. Anything can happen. It’s exhilarating. I’m not going to pretend like this anime is perfect, but it’s way better than some would lead you to believe.
In truth, this show is about Senku: The prideful genius who makes it his job to help everyone through science. Senku is overconfident to a fault. He prides himself on being ten billion percent logical, and he likes to think he’ll always be right. Honestly, he makes his fair share of mistakes. He might be able to make a high-speed wagon in a couple of minutes, but don’t expect it not to fall apart the first time he rides it. Seeing the show from his perspective is fantastic. He’s not another overpowered blank-slate isekai protagonist who gets pushed through the story by coincidence. The story’s direction is unpredictable because Senku is a force of nature. His encyclopedic knowledge of science is his main advantage. He’s not invincible, he makes impactful decisions, and he makes mistakes. Much of the time, he has a utilitarian motive behind any of his kind actions. If he needs a lot of manpower, he baits villagers with ramen, with hard labor as their payment. It was always funny seeing the different ways he would trick people into doing what he wanted.
In this show, a life or death situation lies on whether or not Senku can create Coca-Cola from scratch. It does not attempt to hide how ridiculous it is. At the same time, it will also detail how to make cola with science. Once they have all parts of the latest science scheme working, we get a quick montage of it in action. He explains each scientific idea comprehensively before everyone begins working. It’s all said in simple terms so the audience can follow along. I’ll be honest; I don’t know much about science. I slept through biology, chemistry, and physics. Somehow Dr. Stone got me to love science. Senyu taught me science can solve every problem. Like all good edutainment programs, the teachings are seamlessly weaved into the story.
The main characters are so likable—not just for their personalities and chemistry—because they have personal goals and senses of humor. The writers make sure to give each member of the science squad a considerate amount of development. For some of them, it’s only a few minutes shoved in-between arcs, but their growth is visible throughout the rest of the show. I’ve said all I needed to say about Senku—he’s the heart of the show. He has a subdued personality; even admitting he prefers not to show much emotion, but the show always subtly clues us in to how he’s truly feeling. One of his pals, Kohaku, is entirely the opposite: She’s a spirited girl who takes no shit.
On the other hand, his partner Chrome is another avid science fan, but he’s more relatable because he isn’t quite a super genius. He made a great deuteragonist, but I missed the original side characters Taiju and Yuzuihara. They’re a pleasant enough duo even though they’re only in a couple of episodes. I wish the story occasionally cut to their perspective. In the beginning, it’s exciting watching Senku and Taiju trying to survive in the stone age. In a life or death situation, they revive the strongest man they can find, Tsukasa. With his revival, the antagonist enters the show. I’ve seen people criticize Tsukasa and say he’s a weak villain, and I can’t help but disagree. His goal for the stone world is to give everyone equal opportunity; no one will pay taxes; no one will own anything in simpler terms, libertarianism. To achieve his dream for the stone world, he endeavors to kill every petrified adult. He wants only to revive the strongest youth he can find, or the “pure-hearted youth,” as he hypocritically calls them.
The first arc is an action-packed battle of wits, hunting for food, running from lions, creating the cure for humanity, friends reunite after thousands of years, the goddamn world ends. It’s kind of epic. It’s entirely unlike the bulk of the story, which is fine. It was an unexpected but welcome change of pace. I came for the exhilarating premise; I stayed for Senku and his band of goofy science trailblazers. When watching Dr. Stone weekly, my biggest problem was the slow pacing of the main plotlines. After rewatching the entire show, the progression didn’t bother me as much. Even if it looks like the show forgot about your favorite character—don’t worry—they’ll be back.
Dr. Stone thoughtfully uses reincorporation in its narrative to hint at future plot points, new characters and foreshadow meaningful twists. In one of the early episodes, someone mentioned a specific electronic he missed from the old world; as Senku progresses science, he reflects on that conversation nostalgically and endeavors to make that same electronic. It seemed so insignificant at first, yet it became a central plot point later on. One of my favorite characters, Gen, the magician, is subtly mentioned in a book long before being introduced. Another clue sprinkled throughout is the modern pop culture references, which contrast with the archaic society. There’s a pretty awesome in-story explanation for the villagers to use derivatives of modern Japanese. I have to give props to the writer for making someone from the stone age say “meme” without ruining the timeline.
These small victories might not seem like much on their own, but together it shows great foresight from the author. Senku’s occasional unforeseen scientific solution comes to life satisfyingly—surprising both the audience and the other characters. Like any engaging twist, Senku’s science is never contrived; every twist left me in awe. I could always look back and see the clues the writer creatively laid out. If the writer weren’t just as brilliant as Senku, then he would not work. Thankfully, he is, and that’s why Senku’s a great protagonist. You could argue there’s a lot of unexplained science in this series. I’d say it’s not bad. There’s no concrete explanation for the stone epidemic, and that’s fine. I don’t know science. I know stories. As long as the science stays consistent with its own internal logic, I think it has succeeded, and Dr. Stone does.
The humor is over-the-top but well-executed. It relies entirely on comedic timing and the presentation. Thankfully the editing in Dr. Stone is top-notch. Every part of the audiovisual production works in unison. The BGM, openings, and endings were all superb—this is the best soundtrack I’ve heard all year. Each background song is deftly synced up with scene transitions and set pieces. Jokes land with boisterous sound effects—absurd facial expressions pop-up on the screen, lined-up perfectly with the punchline. I understand why people have criticized the comedy for being idiotic. And they’re right. All of these characters are either idiots or socially inept. If you don’t like them, you’ll hate the comedy aspects. The jokes mainly rely on the character chemistry and, fantastic directing aside, I think they have hilarious chemistry. Other than the stellar character artwork (warning: some of the female faces are borderline Lovecraftian horrors), the backgrounds are consistently beautiful. TMS Entertainment continues to provide great still art; however, the longer the show went on, the more animation hiccups I noticed.
Dr. Stone gets heavily scrutinized for its plot progression, pacing, and dumb characters. Some of the criticism is fair, but much of it underserved. I consider myself pretty critical, and I enjoyed this show way more than I thought I would. The amount of research put into the science blew me away. The way it entertained me while teaching me felt so nostalgic. I grew up on edutainment, like Bill Nye The Science Guy and Magic Schoolbus. This anime follows in their footsteps, but for an older audience.
I never expected I would love these characters so much. I’m looking forward to their science shenanigans next season. It took humanity two million years to crawl out of the stone age to the modern era. Thankfully, it only took twenty-four weeks for people to realize Dr. Stone is a great anime.
3: Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen
English: Kaguya-sama: Love is War
MAL Score: 8.40
At the renowned Shuchiin Academy, Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya are the student body’s top representatives. Ranked the top student in the nation and respected by peers and mentors alike, Miyuki serves as the student council president. Alongside him, the vice president Kaguya—eldest daughter of the wealthy Shinomiya family—excels in every field imaginable. They are the envy of the entire student body, regarded as the perfect couple.
However, despite both having already developed feelings for the other, neither are willing to admit them. The first to confess loses, will be looked down upon, and will be considered the lesser. With their honor and pride at stake, Miyuki and Kaguya are both equally determined to be the one to emerge victorious on the battlefield of love!
Story? There’s no story beyond two teen high schoolers failed love attempts at getting the other person to confess. Fans have dubbed Kaguya sama as the “Death Note of romance”, which is laughable because the mind games here are pretentious, basic tactics.
The comedy is hit or miss most of the time, with the odd joke being able to crack a smile from me. The jokes and gags are repetitive and become stale e.g. the skit where the President and Kaguya gave love advice dragged on too long. The episode about the wiener joke (no, I’m not kidding) was so childish.
The characters are a bunch of troupes who receive no character development: Kaguya is a rich, childish, pampered tsundere with barely any endearing qualities. Chika is the cute ditsy airhead, Ishigami is the depressed emo okatu that fans relate to calling him “our guy”. He’s easily the worst character because of how one dimensional he is and all his jokes being so predictable e.g. “oh no, Kaguya is going to kill me! I’m going home President!”. The president is the hardworking and studious guy. He’s the best of the main cast in my opinion. He’s the most interesting, relatable and got varied comedy.
The main problem with this show is the narration. The narrator might as well be his own character with how overused it is, to the point it becomes overbearing and annoying. The writer clearly didn’t grasp the concept of “show, don’t tell” because i don’t want to be told about the characters and their thought process like they’re puppets. I don’t know why the narrator is keeping score of their matches because it ultimately amounts to nothing and we get the same rinse-repeat scenario next episode. He’s often mentioning stuff that’s obvious on screen with info dumps, which is jarring because it comes across as if the viewer is too stupid to think for themselves.
I’ll give it to A1, the animation is great, the osts are good and the stylistic presentation is visually impressive enough for you to overlook most scenes taking place in one location. The opening visuals are creative, however the opening song is cheesy and the ending is forgettable.
Overall, Kaguya sama is a fun rom-com, but it’s cliche and filled with troupes that would otherwise be criticised in other shows. The dynamic between the two leads doesn’t change as they are no closer to confessing to each other than they were at beginning. It’s baffling to see so many positive reviews and the amount of praise it’s received when it lacks substance and does nothing special compared to other rom-coms.
Kaguya-sama: Love is War takes this relatable fear to the extreme. This anime isn’t your average rom-com; it’s a fight to the death between two stubborn geniuses in a battle of who will confess first. Kaguya Shinomiya is the wealthy heir to a corporate enterprise, a prodigy of course, but sheltered, with far more pride than common sense. Her adversary, Miyuki Shirogane, comes from a much more humble background, a workaholic to reach the top of his class, but unfortunately, he has little experience with anything else. Despite wildly different upbringings, they share many things in common; stubbornness, unrivalled intelligence, egos more inflated than two hot air balloons, and they’re both hopelessly in love.
Rather than merely confessing, they use their intellect for schemes to make the other confess their love first. Fear rejection is too much for their overly inflated egos to handle—this makes their attempts to trick each other over-the-top and hilarious. Still, the underlying motivations of their outrageous scheming are heartfelt. It’s always evident that they’re in love. Whenever they come close to confessing, they immediately fall deep into their egotistical personas and shrug it off.
Truthfully, I should hate Kaguya-sama. I prefer romances that focus on development and believable relationships—rather than awkward interactions until they finally confess in the final episode. Kaguya-sama’s main appeal is cringe-worthy teasing, and it’s abundantly clear we won’t get a confession anytime soon. Albeit with the stakes raised so high that its psychological warfare is comparable to Death Note. You may think a premise as simple as this would grow tiresome. Still, it continues to raise the stakes. The directing is phenomenal. People often complain that nothing changes through the series—but they’re overlooking details. The relationship gradually progresses, and each chapter has permanence. The student council room changes, past conversations are referenced all the time, and their attitudes change. Kaguya and Shirogane start as very cold, keeping conversation to a minimum, then they become more open with their personal lives. Of course, they retain their professionalism. Another complaint is that the jokes are repetitive; this isn’t entirely offbase. As the show progresses, each characters’ sense of humor changes. They begin to understand each other more; as such, their banter becomes more personal.
Each character fulfills a distinct comedic role. Shirogane, the student council president, and Kaguya, his vice, both at the top of their class, are always the center of their school’s attention. They’re geniuses but also crazy in love with each other. The supporting cast and even the narrator add so much more to the comedy. They all have fantastic chemistry with one another. Even the smallest mannerisms and reactions put you into the character’s mind, conveyed through close-ups and internal monologues—this clues us in on how each of them feels, from a wild comedic display to a subtle emotional response.
Chika, the student council secretary, is the embodiment of chaos and the straight man in the comedy routine. She unknowingly intervenes in the intense battles between Kaguya and Shirogane to hilarious effect. Although she acts airheaded, she’s intelligent, talented, and has more life experience than both of the leads combined. Then there’s the always anxious student council treasurer, Ishigami, who makes a late appearance in the show. He’s likable for his long-running gags and banter with Kaguya. We often see Kaguya and Miyuki’s nefarious strategizing from the side characters’ perspective, revealing how ridiculous they both look. It gives the show a welcoming sense of self-awareness.
Every joke lands with a powerful impact because of the audiovisual feedback. Every sound effect is pitch-perfect. The melodic orchestral music constantly changes to complement wild tone shifts; it’s nothing short of brilliant. The opening credits beautifully showcase the cast and the exaggerated mind games with an aesthetic reminiscent of studio Shaft. The theme song is so damn good; it is unlike anything else in anime nowadays. The third episode’s notable ending credits are impressive, too. Chika’s dance was rotoscoped with expert detail rarely seen in big-budget productions. Talent like this is hard to come by. The artist, Nagisa Sugao, must have days animating that one-and-a-half minutes of intricate animation. She not only came up with the dance herself; she performed it to get replicated with animation. If that’s not the ideal blend of talent and passion, I don’t know what is.
What elevates Kaguya-sama’s great comedy material far above any other rom-com is the exceptional directing from Shinichi Omata, among other industry experts. Known for his work on Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, he brings brilliant storyboards, a considerate eye for framing, dynamic direction, and creative budget distribution that takes what could have been an average adaptation to the best this season has to offer. This anime’s excellence is thanks to perfect production management. Even with as little animation as this show has, there is always something moving onscreen. If a shot lingers, it’s to highlight emotions without any dialogue, like the moment Kaguya admired her nail polish on the way to the club. It’s brief, but it tells us exactly what she’s thinking.
Scenes blend into each other seamlessly. Objects fade into one another—and the transitions never break the 180-degree film rule. I counted more than a dozen match cuts in a single episode; The level of detail put into storyboarding each cut is impressive. I have nothing but admiration for the director. Background art transforms to reflect the character’s inner monologue’s mood, indicating how they overthink even the simplest of exchanges. The breathtaking animation only gets used to highlight pivotal moments, such as when Kaguya and Miyuki come close to kissing. Emotional character-development moments are highly memorable because of this extra attention to detail.
Omata employs a frenetic style to emphasize punchlines and give importance to every bit of dialogue. Reality occasionally bends to create incredible and abstract visuals, which makes potentially mundane punchlines incredibly intense. These moments reflect just how exaggerated the crazed characters perceive their mind games to be. On the far end, the show straddles the line between slapstick comedy and an all-out thriller with static lines overlaying close-ups as a character verges closer to defeat in a battle; this is what makes Kaguya-sama so funny. Kaguya and Miyuki have astronomical IQs, but they use their intelligence to do the most idiotic things because they’re afraid of having their hearts broken. It’s so painfully relatable. The mind games they get lost in are entertaining, but they’re so misguided in their approach to love that even their failures are hilarious to watch. They’re both walking catastrophes. Thankfully the show acknowledges this and pokes fun at them through irony and sarcastic supporting characters. Its visual excitement, music, and wildly contrasting tones craft a dynamic comedic experience.
Confessing your love to someone is terrifying. Growing up is an even more formidable challenge. Kaguya and Miyuki are slowly but surely navigating through their complicated emotions. Masterfully timed jokes, expert directing, and relatable characters—this show has it all. No matter if you love or hate anime romcoms, this takes the standard genre tropes and subverts them in new and exciting ways. Kaguya-sama: Love is War is an outstanding series that anyone can walk away from wholeheartedly adoring.
Not because these type of scenarios don’t happen throughout the show, but more so because I’m not entirely sure that it is accurate to describe the characters as “prideful” or even “geniuses”; and that might be the biggest issue the show has.
Kaguya-sama begins in a very direct way; the whole idea of the show, everything about Miyuki and Kaguya, and their relationship is thrown at us through a narrator. There is no build up of their relationship, we are told they are in love and we are immediately expected to care. As a result, I found it difficult to ever form a sort of solid connection with the characters, to ‘root’ for their romance, to think their ridiculous antics were always funny. Miyuki and Kaguya have little chemistry. It feels like I am missing something. With more care given to the characters, this show really could have been something special.
I can imagine this could have been salvaged, if the characters proved themselves so charismatic and fun that they would eventually become completely endearing. But the characters never really had a consistent personality. Because let’s be honest, Miyuki and Kaguya are not always ‘prideful’. The are constantly shown as vulnerable, embarrassed, and shy. Highlighting those parts about them were easily the worst bits of the show. When they were smart, cunning, devious, it lead to the best and most hilarious moments. The author probably did this to make them more relatable and cute, but I ultimately think it negatively impacted the show. Some of the situations Miyuki and Kaguya go through are so trivial and childish that only sheer ridiculousness of their characters could have made it genuinely hilarious. When we know that the basis of their resistance to being open to one another is rooted more in shyness than pride, it makes the situations come off as more silly than potentially hilarious. It should have gone all in on making them scheming egomaniacs, for the sake of the humour.
Sometimes the show did have moments where the characters acted the way I hoped they would—and it was funny. Various moments of the show proves itself as creative, enjoyable, and worthy. Chika and Ishigami served as good side characters, although it may have been a little too obvious that sometimes they were just there to steer the direction of the joke. The art style was bold and outwards. Over time the show starts to get a bit more ‘normal’ looking, but I do appreciate shows taking a step outwards to make it more memorable.
Many times I was left feeling like some potential was being wasted. The show does stick to a formulaic way of having a ‘winner/loser’ in every bit, which didn’t always work. Sometimes it seems like the direction of the joke was radically shifted for no other reason than to just create a winner or a loser. I never found the narrator useful, and at worst he was just annoying. The show should have been more free, less confined to one particular style. Often it came off as settling.
The most disappointing thing about the show is how good it could have been.
2: Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru
English: Run with the Wind
MAL Score: 8.42
Former ace runner of Sendai Josei High School, Kakeru Kurahara is chased away from a convenience store for shoplifting. Shaking off his pursuer, he runs into Haiji Kiyose, another student from his university. Haiji is impressed by Kakeru’s agility and persuades him to live in Chikusei-sou, the run-down apartment where Haiji resides along with eight other students. Having lost his entire apartment deposit at a mahjong parlor, Kakeru accepts the offer reluctantly.
However, Haiji reveals a secret during Kakeru’s welcoming party: the apartment is actually the dormitory of the Kansei University Track Club. He unveils his ultimate goal of participating in the Hakone Ekiden—one of the most prominent university marathon relay races in Japan. Unfortunately, all the residents apart from Haiji and Kakeru are complete running novices. Worse still, none of the inhabitants are even remotely interested in being involved with Haiji’s ridiculous plan! With only months before the deadline, will the fourth-year student be able to convince them otherwise and realize his elusive dream of running in the Hakone Ekiden?
Run with the Wind boasts such a splendidly rich animation production, it really reminds you just how impressive, how downright humbling this division of the studio is at its best of times. The character designs are as clean, sharp, and all-around attractive as those of Haikyuu and Welcome to the Ballroom, fit with a level of orate detail which was incessantly impressive to see in such fluid movement. The design-work of the main cast in particular, as well as the voice actors chosen to play them, clearly had a lot of thought put behind them, as you can see exactly why they dress the way they dress, walk the way they walk, accessorize the way they accessorize, and how such distinct appearances representing such well-realized personalities can really benefit the immersion of the work as a whole. And as the show progresses and you come to understand the characters more intimately, you’ll slowly start noticing more and more of those little details that had been there the entire time. It’s as brilliant as it is beautiful, and the background art never slacks either, as expected of the committed craftsmen and women of IG who would never sacrifice one facet of production on behalf of another’s quality—they just make it ALL that good. The astounding level of hand-drawn details, expertly mixed manual and digital shading, color variation and gradients, and well-researched setting references all work in tandem to build this gorgeous aesthetic of naturalistic beauty balanced with realistic subtlety.
On top of the impeccable visuals, the sound design is so nuanced and ever-present, when I noticed it I would become so absorbed and distracted as to miss entire lines of dialogue and have to rewind. And I can say without hesitation the soundtrack is an easy nine out of ten, as the composer was the same talent behind the monumentally epic, blood pumping score for Haikyuu, the emotionally gripping yet hyper-stylized Studio Trigger tracklist for Kiznaiver, and the music for Death Parade, which reached the heights of contemplative character dramaturgy and exciting psychological thrillers both. I simply cannot praise the production of Run with the Wind any more without it coming across as hyperbole, and as for the narrative which gave the beauty its heart and the solid writing which firmly held it all together, it was pretty damn good itself, even if not as breathtakingly perfect as the production values were. The main characters made up one of the most grounded ensemble casts in all of anime, easily competing with and outclassing legitimately good shows like Durarara, Hajime no Ippo, or Assassination Classroom, who’re all known for their ability to deftly juggle enormous casts whilst developing those within them. Unlike those aforementioned and most others which aren’t even half as good, Run with the Wind managed to not merely manage the large cast, but to actually mete out character development in a down-to-earth manner which didn’t challenge the realism of the story’s structure.
At no point in this show is there anything that could be described as an “arc.” Never does the narrative take a break for drama, nor does it ever feel like one character in particular is being too overbearing or stealing the spotlight, with any necessary character building sneaking its way into the narrative subtly. Such sensible pacing works wonders for any conflict too, since all confrontations are built up to naturally. Nothing ever comes out of nowhere and is usually born from within the main character, Kakeru, who you get to know well enough to both sympathize and empathize with the anxieties of. While it’s not hard for me to image someone having a problem with the blunt spright-man bringing all the conflict to the table being the main character himself, his deep-seated motivations are so well-written and intrinsic to his character which we’ve come to understand, I totally got where he was coming from whenever he blew his top. That said, this brand of discord is by no means unique to Kakeru. All the characters have insecurities and hangups which feel truly genuine. Most anime will have characters ranting and raving about a bunch of out-of-this-world garbage the viewer has no reason to care about, but Run with the Wind does nothing of the sort. The character Nico-chan (a play on the word “nicotine”) has difficulty running for his addiction to smoking and his unhealthy BMI. The character King has trouble being committed to the team because he has to find work to pay for college. The character Shindo has doubts about his involvement with the team because his girlfriend dumped him after feeling he had neglected her. All the characters are real, with real scripts, with real problems. It’s a seriously wonderful cast who brings the relatively straightforward story to life, and there were a number of times I had tears in my eyes watching them cross the finish line.
The final point I wanted to discuss before concluding is the villain, Sakaki. Sports anime, simply put, NEVER commit to real villains. They always pussyfoot around the issue with mutually understood competition wherein the opponents are never genuinely malicious and are only causing conflict for the sake of sportsmanship. The only time truly antagonist villains appear in sports anime is like Jabberwock from Kuroko no Basuke, or Bryan Hawk from Hajime no Ippo, or the Blue Mars from One Outs, or any other one-dimensional villains out there who are just evil assholes for the sake of being so. Out of all four thousand anime I’ve seen, I’ve yet to see a wholesale ill natured antagonists who truly wants to beat the protagonists solely out of hatred. Sakaki, the main villain in Run with the Wind, is the first character I’ve seen in a sports anime who truly earned the title of “villain.” His history with Kakeru makes for a heavy motivation for conflict, and his vindictive attitude comes across as being deserved, even if you take Kakeru’s side. Again, Kakeru may not always be righteous, so the idea he has some skeletons in his closet isn’t all that far fetched. As you learn more about their pasts, and you get both sides of the story, you’re naturally invested. It’s just another really, really good aspect of the show which I wanted to make a point wasn’t under-appreciated at all in my review since Run with the Wind is a fantastic show I highly recommend for what I hope are now obvious reasons, and that’s not even mentioning the fact this point is what begins to illuminate the refreshingly unexpected psychological core behind it all. As I’ve said no shortage of times, the main character Kakeru is a really flawed person. He’s impulsive, irritable, and outright violent, and it’s not even anyone’s fault, it’s just who he is. So, he runs. He literally and metaphorically runs away from his problems and is constantly accused of doing so by many characters in the show. As said problems continue to pile up despite his speed, he realizes the problems are within and running simply won’t escape them. When he finally stops and turns around to see all the people he’s hurt along the way, all the mistakes he’s made and regrets he has, and all the people still trying to support him in spite of all he’s done, he sits down and confronts reality in a poignantly human fashion, and it’s this emotional courage that frees his spirt, so to speak, so he can truly move forward and run with the wind.
Thank you for reading.
To check off the bucket list, you should probably ask yourself if you enjoy a story driven by drama with sports elements. Because make no mistake, this anime contains a great deal of realism while selling drama at every chance it gets. It will try to evoke emotions out of the viewers and between the storytelling, you’ll experience a story with its insightful character cast.
Meet Kakeru Kurahara, the 1st year former elite runner at Kansei University. The first episode shows his daredevil actions as he is caught stealing. Thankfully, he is saved by 4th year student Haiji Kiyose who has an ambitious dream of competing in the Hakone Ekiden. The Hakone Ekiden is considered an important relay race taking place btween Tokyo and Hakone in Japan. Kakeru seems like a perfect candidate to be on the team. Upon being invited to the Kanse University Dorm, he quickly discovers it’s a place for the Track and Field team. The show sets up for huge amount of story and character development as we quickly realize how weak their team actually is.
Now I’ll say right off the bat that I am a sucker for an underdog story. It has potential to develop characters on many levels. The problem here is that Kakeru isn’t a noob compared to the rest of the team. He already has experience in running but lacks the enthusiasm. This is explained through some very complicated and dark background storytelling. Apparently, an incident from his former Track & Field team caused him to doubt himself. Nonetheless, I believe Kakeru’s personality to be one that people can understand after seeing what he’s been through. This is a sharp contrast to Haiji, who is always enthusiastic about the team and his dream. The main problem is that the team requires a lot of training and commitment to compete at the Hakone Ekiden level. Still, I appreciate the character bond of the team. As the show progresses, Kakeru begins to realize that he’s not running alone and that he has friends to run with. A main selling point about Kakeru’s own journey is how he conquers his personal demon and move beyond his past.
You better get used to seeing a lot of Kakeru and Haiji’s character bonding in this story. Interestingly, the rest of the cast get their spotlights too as they reinforce the show’s themes. Characters such as Takashi and Akane (aka Prince) are inspirational for their dedication and realization to succeed. Remember, most of the guys in Haiji’s team aren’t experienced or very athletic. It takes a strong will, determination, and attitude to become succesful. The show carries character development as its team members strives to be the best they can be. It’s a relatable concept that can be applied to real life with goals being accomplished through hard work. I personally find the show’s attitude to be very inspirational with many of its character cast conquering their fears and running toward their dreams.
As dramatic as the show can be, do also expect a decent amount of lighthearted moments and comedy. The Jo twins are a prime example of this with their playful personalities. The man service also adds in some cheek humor when the team have bonding moments while discussing about their goals. When the drama picks up though, definitely be prepare to experience the real deal. Teams such as the Rikudo University is no pushover for their reputation. Haiji’s push to get his team to succeed also comes at an immense amount of effort considering the requirements for this dream race. It’s revealed in the show that the team must rank into the top 10 teams and meet personal records. So by all means, it comes to no surprise the amount of pressure the team can feel while training. This is where the main amount of drama drops in with characters feeling how difficult is to reach their goals. Nonetheless, I confess to say that a show like this meets the satisfaction of “the journey is more important than the destination”. People may have hard this phrase many times before but as a driving force in the show, it suits for it perfectly. The amount of character development is expanded to most of the main character cast that you can easily recall their names and some of their memorable moments. No one is truly left out in favor of the main cast even as they seem featured more prominently at times.
As a Production I.G. show, this definitely reminds me a bit of their other sports projects. Haikyu especially comes to mind for its similar character designs and competitive atmosphere. More importantly, I felt the great deal of realism for its character designs. Throughout the show, the characters evolve physically and mentally. Their character expressions and reactions carries an emotional weight that can easily be felt throughout the show. It’s the type of feeling when you finally earn a sense of pride and accomplishment after all the hard work. And don’t forget, the team is consisted of cool guys so the man service can be a treat for the ladies.
With 23 episodes, I confess to say that it’s the perfect amount for this particular anime. Why? That’s because it managed to develop its character cast while staying consistent with the storytelling. The amount of realism made me realize how inspirational this show can be. With every episode, I felt compelled to see just how much the characters can succeed for their future. Honestly, we need more literature adaptations these days.
It should be warned already on the title page that every factor from story progression, seiyuu choices, male casting and slice of life-like approach yells out one thing loud and clear: homo undertones. While great many sports series have chosen this approach (Haikyuu, Kuroko, Wind Up, Free — just to name a few), Kaze ga has very little charm outside its naked ecchi boys / manservice factors. Just to specify to what extent this exist and why it is a problem: there are 4 scenes of our young boys being naked already shown in the first episode before we even know their names. I don’t mind male ecchi or bros bathing together washing each others dicks when it is manly and #no_homo, but when it becomes the first thing that stands out in a sports series that was told be filled with drama and comedy, and executed with cute boys who don’t, in any way, act like genuine humans, we are off to a terrible start.
The selling point of sports series tends to be their cast for their stories can never truly work if the person(s) going thru the story are not worth of being followed. Kaze ga’s cast and approach I’d like to describe with a short meme: y Tho? Our “club” of 10 boys are, outside few expectations, the exact same people. They have nearly invisible personalities, all they have are things that are common between all of them for there aren’t such things that would separate them from each others — outside their outlooks. And even this isn’t entirely true since there are even twins among them. As a whole, the cast is fake and empty to a point that I wonder if this is what feminists see when watching CGDCT or ecchi anime. The cast doesn’t have much appeal to me. I couldn’t find any way to care about any of them. They have nothing that would make relate to them, they offer no entertaining personality traits, their behavior is dull and mainly reminds me of cardboard. None of them have any interesting past stories or current stories. None of them even says anything mildly interesting at any point during the run. The more they talked the more I came to go meh over them. How awfully boring must ones life be to hang out with any of them? A question I found myself asking several times.
Outside episode 16, the sports side is an absolute joke. Even tho I don’t like running myself, I have seen series that focus on running and track&field and which I have liked. Kaze ga’s take on this torture method is exactly as dull as the sports itself. Nothing stands out, nothing feels meaningful, there aren’t even any fitting/atmospheric or agro songs used that could make these scenes better. Instead, same few songs are repeated over and over and none of them is very fitting. So often, there plays some supposedly emotional song whilst our cast members run and sweat, followed, for example, by a scene where they get scolded for being too slow. What the series is trying to deliver here never reached my end. And typically, these running scenes are very short and made in the exact same manner, only thing that differs is the aftermath. Watching the execution here feels like repeatedly hitting ones head in the wall with a force so light that you barely even feel the effect, but still know it is happening. There are even sports series centering around baseball and fighting sports which field work (AKA running) is more noteworthy than anything Kaze ga achieved. The best characters here are these one-dimensional ‘evil’ buttholes who just come around to mock our sports team for being a disgrace towards track’n field. Why? Because their phrases are truthful remarks. Especially towards the end, the melodrama Kaze ga mixes together with sports is nothing less than a disgrace towards all athletes.
In terms of actual story, one of the driving motions here are our boys interest to girls.. Literally “lets run for the are girls.. on the other side of the road.” I am not sure who the writer is trying to fool with this since they only introduce one slightly relevant female cast member and she is more obviously filler than any other character. Also, she falls under the trope “every food she prepares turns poison” because apparently it is funny when women can’t cook. She is totally adorable regardless. Yet it feels so unnecessary to insert such things here yet not deal with them accordingly. The outcome is just idiotic. The events itself are rather formulaic. Male x male interactions in fujobait manner, bathing together naked, and running. Some pseudo-psychological things going on since, apparently, running (for our mc) is the same as running away from problems, and the main dude seems to have some. Even so, there is no clear reason for the series to exist, story-wise. It’s clear from early on that the mc’s “insecurities” are just bullshit used as an excuse to work as some sort of ongoing cliffhanger to make people interested in what type of “mysterious” reasons he has for being such an angsty loner. Other sides of the “drama” are practically sitcom-tier since the cast acts like a bunch of drama queens instead of there being any “real” drama going on. Sometimes randomly asspulled and beyond fake event occurs, such as one character suddenly losing a consciousness at the end of an episode just to create a cliffhanger worth of 3 pennies. To talk more about these cliffhangers, they are used to some extent and every time they match the definition of “horse shit”. False tension and not much more.
The production, outside the incredibly bland character models (their bodies look like spaghetti and have even weirder necks than people in Ballroom e (not exaggerating — same studio, also) — and worth-of-nothing sports scenes, is one more thing that is not making this thing any better. The naked men bathing -scenes seem to be the ones that have gone thru the most planning. Comedy moments are over-simplified to a point that it looks just cheap and it is practically the exact same execution every single time. Dude’s doing 2 frame shaking when being cornered. Otherwise the series screams it is made by Production I.G with their modern standards (which have been going down and down rather consistently for years if someone hasn’t noticed). The pacing is simply too slow during any part that is not related to running and too fast with anything that is. Obviously, because they wanted to save money when animating running masses. CGI is being used during track events and it’s like 3fps when out zoomed. Often, people who run look like they are floating over the track rather than touching the ground with their feet. Looks so incredibly lame. Not that it couldn’t be forgiven if there were some actually good things going on. Pros that out weighted the cons. To me, even the smallest of problems stood out for I couldn’t achieve any level of immersion with the series, rather saw it as nothing but a soulless product.
All the criticism aside, I did quite enjoy moments around Akane “Prince” Kashiwazaki, who is the polar opposite of everyone else. Seems to hate running and is in really bad shape. His running form is so awkward and wrong that I managed to laugh at it few times, mainly reminding me of zombie movements from Resident Evil games. Even his posture while standing is advanced scoliosis, so I guess kudos for creating a dude like him. Other thing I have to drop here is the ending of episode 19 which was simply hilarious. If only there had been other good things I could praise than the rare few.
1: Mob Psycho 100 II
English: Mob Psycho 100 II
Japanese: モブサイコ100 II
MAL Score: 8.82
Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama is now maturing and understanding his role as a supernatural psychic that has the power to drastically affect the livelihood of others. He and his mentor Reigen Arataka continue to deal with supernatural requests from clients, whether it be exorcizing evil spirits or tackling urban legends that haunt the citizens.
While the workflow remains the same, Mob isn’t just blindly following Reigen around anymore. With all his experiences as a ridiculously strong psychic, Mob’s supernatural adventures now have more weight to them. Things take on a serious and darker tone as the dangers Mob and Reigen face are much more tangible and unsettling than ever before.
The most hyped up second season since My Hero Academia II has come to fruition and let me say, it does not disappoint.
My expectations were sky-hecking-high after an incredible first season. Yet, SOMEHOW, the second season went above and beyond the call of duty and blew me away with the most amazing season of any show I have ever seen in my life. Allow me to explain.
While most people’s complaints related to the show is “bland” and “too slice-of-life”. I must first say that this show is centered around the characters rather than the plot, despite the plot being really, really good.
Nothing related to the story is wasted. Every character, every line, every moment, every sound, camera angle, power, you name it, is important. There wasn’t a single episode that I felt that I was sold short. I ate up every moment, because it MATTERED.
While small things like incredible animation, directing, pacing, humor, romantization of normal occurrences and all other terms I could use to show how great the show is despite 90% of the population not knowing what that means, I want to focus on the main part of the series I love the most.
The characters. Every single one of them feels like a fragment of a real person’s soul, and shaped to become a well rounded character. Reigen, Mob, Teru, Ritsu, Suzuki, Shou, CLAW, new villains, side villains, and school kids, are all important characters. I was constantly surprised and satisfied with how real these characters felt and reacted to their situations. Their motivations were understandable, and frighteningly relatable.
The relationships between these characters are even more fascinating and is what brings me to tears a majority of the time.
The psychology of this show blows my mind, and saying that it has taught me how I think is flawed (by showing characters that mirror my way of thinking) and how life is actually beautiful (albeit being kind of awful sometimes) would NOT be an understatement.
Mob Psycho 100 is my favorite form of entertainment on all platforms for probably the rest of my life. I would not hesitate to recommend this anime to other people, knowing that many people will probably miss the point of the whole show, which is this:
You matter. Relationships matter. Living life joyfully and working hard, even as a everyday commoner, is not something to be ashamed of, but to be cherished. Enjoy yourself, your life, and your relationships. A message needing to be heard by every human being.
I hope this review was helpful.
“There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”
When season 2 of mob psycho 100 got announced it would be an understatement to say that I was excited. I was brimming with excitement to see the continuation of Reigen’s, Mob’s and all the other characters story. But now after it’s release and I’ve watched all the episodes of my oh so awaited season 2. I’m honestly not feeling it, and I’m very disappointed.
I’m in no way saying that mob psycho 2 is a bad show. Not at all. The animation is stunning, the direction is phenomenal and the voice acting is as good, if not even better than the first season. It’s noticeable that a lot of care and effort has been put into making Mob Psycho 2. But despite all of these amazing features it has, I feel as if Mob Psycho has lost what made it unique and fun. What made the first season of Mob psycho great in my opinion is three points: the lightheartedness, the sense of humor and the characters. Season 2 only hits one of these points, but actually improves upon it. The characters. Mob and friends have never been better. Mob actually has an arc spanning over the whole season, not one forced into the last few episodes (as in season 1). Mob wants to improve as a person and actively makes an effort to do so. Something you really can’t say he does in the first season. Reigen also has an amazing arc this season. I won’t talk much about it because it would be a shame if I spoiled it for someone. Reigen was more or less the same person at the end of the first season as he was at the start. In season 2 tho, he’s a changed man at the end. It’s not only Mob and Reigen that’s gotten better, but all other characters also stepped up in season 2. They all changed so much that some felt out of character. But I don’t mind since the most of the characters are very well written. And that’s the part of Mob I adore. The rest of it kind of sucks.
The two other points that season 2 doesn’t get is the lightheartedness and humor. Which mostly goes hand in hand. Mob psycho season 1 is a lighthearted slice of life anime about a boy with psychic powers that despite his lack of emotion tries to live out his normal life as good as possible. Mob psycho season 1 never gets serious and dark. It has its emotional moments but never something too serious. In season 2 mob literally comes home to find his house on fire and sees what he believes to be his family burning. Mob Psycho 2 is one of the darkest and most serious shows I’ve seen in a while. And I don’t understand why, Mob Psycho was funny because of how lightheartedly these situation that would be handled totally different in other shows. That’s why it’s funny. When the most serious thing ever happen and Reigen then laughs about it later isn’t funny. It seems more like a flaw in Reigens character. I feel weird saying this but Mob Psycho season 2 isn’t funny at all. Season 2 abandons the concept of the first season and it makes me really disappointed. The first season of Mob Psycho was an analysis of manchildren and more or less a parody of shounen animes. But the second season isn’t a parody anymore. It’s turned into what it made fun of in the first place. I find it very hard to even call it a slice of life anymore.
To further prove my point that Mob psycho isn’t a slice of life anymore is the frequency and lengths of fights. There are few fights in the first season of Mob, meaning that when Mob went 100% and the fights broke out, it felt Impactful and epic. But in season 2 there are fights more or less every episode. The fights are longer, some spanning over something like 10 minutes. The animation might be great, but it gets overwhelming. I was finding myself sighing and thinking isn’t this fight over soon? Rather than being amazed by them as I was in season 1.
The most stupid thing ever happened as well. You know how the show is called Mob Psycho 100. Well suddenly mobs emotions can get ever 100% and he grew even more powerful. The point of the WHOLE show is that once the emotions get to 100% they overflow and Mob can’t control them anymore. But what’s the point of that if he suddenly can get 200%. It breaks the concept season 1 put up. Season 2 takes everything season 1 does good and throws it in the trash can.
What was once fresh and amazing is now just another My Hero Academia, and it’s a real shame. I had high hopes for this anime and I was let down big time. I would honestly rather watch the worst anime ever than rewatch this. The animes I feel the least from are the ones that are mediocre, the animes with extreme wasted potential. And Mob Psycho has sadly become one of them. I was expecting greatness and when what I got was very mediocre. It hit hard and my rating off this season of Mob Psycho suffered.
This season, we again go on a journey with Mob (the OP psychic) and Reigen (the conman) as they exorcise the demons present in the world and those present inside of them. The plot is as simple as it gets, we have our exorcisms going on; Mob being taken advantage of and deciding to become a better person; Claw, making a move; the body improvement club being awesome, etc. The plot doesn’t really diverge from what was presented to us in Season 1, though it does take some detours, those are what make this season so much better than the first one.
The previous season focused more on the fights and their aesthetics whereas this season the attention is more on the character development through the fights. Sure, the fights look as beautiful as ever, but more importance is given to how the characters change and what they take away from the fights. Reigen and Mob visit various clients, and most of the time the exorcism of the spirits serves as a catalyst for Mob’s growth as a character and as a human. But, where the anime shines is not the plot, but the characters.
The characters are the heart of the show, which is true for most stories but more so with this one. The characters may look like typical shounen characters if you look superficially, but when scrutinized, one can come up with a different conclusion. One aspect about the characters I love is how human they feel. Mob does not require any catalyst for the instigation of the feeling that he needs to change, it comes from within him. It’s a joy to see him transform into a socially acceptable person from a socially awkward teen. The show handles this change in a way that is realistic and poignant, which is to be expected as the show does such a great job of portraying the difficulties and hurdles faced by Mob due to his awkward disposition. No development feels rushed or out of place and everything is handled at a pace that is not too fast but not too slow that the watchers get bored. As you watch Mob trying his level best to grow up as a person, you can’t help but start to support him. The body improvement club is what our society should be. They are introduced as temporary comic relief characters but slowly they become an integral cog in the growth of Mob. We don’t spend much time with them on screen, but whenever they are on screen the experience is absolute gold.
The two characters in the spotlight are Mob and Reigen with the latter also getting a character arc which is probably one of the best I’ve seen in recent years. Reigen is a conman, he swindles people, including Mob, for his own personal gain, but, despite that he’s one of the most likeable characters in the series. At first, there seems to be a dichotomy between him and Mob, with Mob lacking the very confidence that Reigen seems to be brimming with, but this season lets us view things with a different perspective. We see Reigen’s inner struggles vicariously and realise he’s not much better off than Mob. Reigen when put in a difficult situation where his only ally seems to be him himself, his introspection reveals a great deal about him and his relationship with Mob. He realises that under the pretence of helping Mob control his powers, he was actually taking advantage of him and was holding Mob back from enjoying his youth. After his epiphany, he does not feign ignorance but tires to better himself as a person. Reigen, in Mob’s own words, is a genuinely good guy. Furthermore, his ultimate move – Self Defence Rush – is capable of destroying the whole planet and needs to be nerfed.
The anime also boasts a spectacular cast of supporting characters. We’ve got dimple, the spirit who wanted to take over Mob’s body at first but warms up to him and becomes more and more of a comrade after each passing episode. This change happens gradually which helps audience familiarise themselves with his character. We don’t get any abrupt character change and thus the show avoids alienating the viewers. Another character worth mentioning is Mogami, a resentful spirit who is the perfect depiction of what Mob would’ve been had he not met with Reigen or had Reigen been a selfish person. The serendipitous meeting between Mob and Reigen is what kept Mob and his uncontrollable powers anchored to the ground. The body improvement club is as epic as ever and this season has convinced me that the biggest muscles they have are their hearts. The characters are meticulously crafted and handled with care. That being said, there are some flaws here and there.
Most of the villains are underdeveloped and are there only as an obstacle for our heroes to overcome. We don’t know their motivations for joining the evil organisation that they have joined and neither do we learn about their personalities. Not all villains are cannon fodder though. The leader of the organisation has a goal set in his mind and though his motivations are a bit overbearing, it’s not difficult to picture that among tens of hundreds of espers one would come across such a guy. Although, the villains are not as interesting as they could have been, I don’t think it matters much because at the end of it all what Mob Psycho really is, if you ask me, is a coming of age story.
The animation is absolutely fantastic. Studio Bones have outdone themselves once again. If you’re holding out on this show because you think that the animation looks crap then, I don’t know what to say to you except you’re missing out on an acid trip. The facial animation conspicuously shows the characters’ emotion and much of the characters’ thoughts are accentuated through their body language. There is a lot of visual storytelling which is really well complimented by the unique art and animation. Lastly, the fights are stupendous. The animation does a great job of presenting the tension and force exerted by each punch, each kick that the characters throw and receive. Every time someone uses his/her psychic powers to pin someone to the ground, the anime does an awesome job of accentuating the augmentation of gravitational field around them which helps in visualising the incomprehensible telekinetic powers that the characters possess. This one guy has the power to teleport himself anywhere he wants and keeps doing so while fighting. You would think that it would make it very hard for us to follow him as he keeps darting around, but due to the excellent cinematography and clever use of visual direction, you can always keep your eyes on him using your peripheral vision. That’s some next level stuff right there. Massive props to everyone involved in animating the series.
The music is brilliant as well. I’m no connoisseur of music but I can tell whether a piece of music fits a scene or not and in the case of Mob Psycho 100, most of the pieces perfectly complement the ongoing scene. The music during fights are perfect to get you hyped, and those during the emotional scenes will make the feels hit you like a truck. Also, the OP is fire.
Mob Psycho 100 is one of the best character driven narratives to come out in recent years. It’s a near prefect retrospective look into a teenage mind and how everyone is susceptible to change. It sends a message that no matter how incongruous you are with respect to your surroundings, no matter how detached you are with reality, you can always start over.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Mob Psycho 100 II
2. Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru
3. Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen
4. Dr. Stone
5. Diamond no Ace: Act II
6. Fruits Basket 1st Season
7. Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken
8. Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san 2
9. High Score Girl II
10. Boku no Hero Academia 4th Season