They’re the best Anime that 2018 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Megalo Box, Yagate Kimi ni Naru, Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai, and more!
10: Megalo Box
MAL Score: 7.90
“To be quiet and do as you’re told, that’s the cowardly choice.” These are the words of Junk Dog, an underground fighter of Megalo Box, an evolution of boxing that utilizes mechanical limbs known as Gear to enhance the speed and power of its users. Despite the young man’s brimming potential as a boxer, the illegal nature of his participation forces him to make a living off of throwing matches as dictated by his boss Gansaku Nanbu. However, this all changes when the Megalo Box champion Yuuri enters his shabby ring under the guise of just another challenger. Taken out in a single round, Junk Dog is left with a challenge: “If you’re serious about fighting me again, then fight your way up to me and my ring.”
Filled with overwhelming excitement and backed by the criminal syndicate responsible for his thrown matches, Junk Dog enters Megalonia: a world-spanning tournament that will decide the strongest Megalo Boxer of them all. Having no name of his own, he takes on the moniker of “Joe” as he begins his climb from the very bottom of the ranked list of fighters. With only three months left to qualify, Joe must face off against opponents the likes of which he has never fought in order to meet the challenge of his rival.
TL;DR: If a young Hajime no Ippo made an illegitimate baby with the sexy cougar, Cowboy Bebop, in an 80’s themed love hotel with Samurai Champloo music blasting in the background, then Megalo Box would be the gorgeous mixed bastard child that will emerge from the Redline ambulance nine months later. Such a hidden gem but packs so much hype. “JOEEEEE!”
[Story: 6/10 , Characters: 7/10, Art: 9/10, Sound: 9/10, Enjoyment: 8/10]
“They don’t make tombstones for stray dogs” – JD
Yes Yes Yes. This is that shounen sports anime this season badly needed to remind what real anime is all about. You don’t need bad CG. You don’t need blended CG. You don’t need Ufotable level CG. What you need is a good mindblasting underdog story, eyegasmic hand-drawn visuals and eargasmic catchy rap music to ignite that flame that you put out long time ago to suffer through random sports anime thrown at you. Boxing anime can always be hyped. There is just something about two people beating the crap out of each other that brings out our animalistic nature to get that testosterone cascading within us and our blood viciously pumping through our veins. Megalo Box just takes it one step further. If you didn’t watch it yet, then damn you are one lucky twat, because you get to binge this greatness and I’ll tell you why.
“I don’t mind dying as long as I know that the faith I had in myself was real” – Joe
This is an underdog story paying an homage to the 50 years of greatness to the boxing anime, Ashita no Joe, brought in the Japanese Anime Industry. It’s a similar story however with one twist, mechanical box or gear attached to every boxer that enhances the speed and power of the user. Boxing is already bloody as it is, now imagine boxing with robotic limbs.
It’s a crazy concept but luckily this is not the focal point of the story and we don’t focus on the gear too much but rather the boxer themselves. This anime follows the archetypal hero’s journey but since they execute it well, it becomes a great strength rather than an overused flaw. The whole idea is that there is a Megalo Box World Tourney and our hero must fight from the slums where he threw boxing matches to earn money to face the number one boxer, Yuuri, in the new Megalo Box Arena. Will he be able to do it? Find out on the next episode of DBZ. Jokes aside, from training montages to flashbacks of boxers’ background to understanding their purpose in life, you really get drawn to this linear rollercoaster plot that’s constantly giving you knee-jerks to throw you off of it. However, if you hang on tight, albeit a few slip-ups here and there, you get to taste the rewarding experience.
“Why don’t you tell me your name?” – Yuuri
The best part about Megalo Box are the characters. There aren’t many but the few characters that are shown are really well fleshed out. They don’t have as much complexity as other boxing anime have but given the limited number of episodes they have to work with, we get to understand their emotional baggage they carry with them. We have “Joe,” a junkyard dog coming from the slums that are cast aside in the society, Nanbu, his shady coach, Sacchio, a tech-genius kid seeking revenge against the rich and lastly Yuuri, a Russian husky of a boxer, champion of the Megalo Box arena, itching to find the greatest opponent in his life to give a good beatdown. All of these masochistic characters have so much charisma that they easily outshine the lackluster one-dimensional side characters thrown in this anime. Moreover, with a great deep-voiced seiyuu cast, this show feels so gritty and lifelike. Every time, Joe or Yuuri, speaks, they just steal the scene. Kudos to the seiyuus for not holding this anime back.
“If his punches were sharp, they wouldn’t sound like a cow cutting through cheese” – Coach Nanbu
Aside from the linear rollercoaster story and the gritty characters, the highlight of this anime are the animation and music. Seriously from episode one, the hand drawn animation puts so much life into this anime. Each panel feels picturesque. Each panel feels like it can be a wallpaper. The characters are so well drawn while maintaing the respect for Ashita no Joe and the use of lines & variation of pen-strokes just makes this anime stand out from other boxing anime that came out before them. It really goes to show how maintaining a good homogenous colour palette throughout the animation really pays off. The fight sequences are well drawn and choregraphed as well. Aside from the breathtaking visuals, the music is really freaking good. The OP song provides the hype and the ED song mellows us out but the background score and sound bits in the transitions are just addictive to listen to. This anime will have one of the best standalone OST to listen to. Couple that with gritty rap music thrown in at appropriate times in the anime, it catapults the plot and hype even further. If you don’t get to watch the anime, atleast listen to the OST.
“Everyone’s only looking out for number one,
so why stop now? You’re still not done.
No metal on your back so they call you gearless,
right now the way you act sure ain’t fearless” – Sacchio
Overall, Megalo Box is a great sports shounen anime to watch if you are into boxing. Their purpose was to celebrate the 50 years of Ashita no Joe and they went ahead did just that and more. They brought back boxing anime to its roots and they showed us hand-drawn animation will never be beaten by commercialized CG animation industry. If you put forth passion and work hard to achieve a goal, then it will all be worthwhile in the end. This anime isn’t perfect and everyone always enjoys sports anime of the sport they are into, but even if you aren’t into boxing, it’s enjoyable to watch as they don’t delve that much in detail about how to box. So if you can get past the crazy plot of boxers using mechanical gears & one dimensional side characters, give this show a watch. After all, this anime isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey and being the spectators we are in that megalo box arena, let’s just sit back and enjoy. Anyways, check it out & let me know later how you like it as well as share with me your favourite quote from the anime! Ciao.
P.S. Thank you for reading. I hope you found this short and supaishi review helpful!
Ergo, making the mixture of the two (art and sport) quite the peculiar one.
One demands openness and originality, while the other requires an outcome. Not to say that it cannot be done, as the predecessor of this series, “Ashita no Joe” proved otherwise. Yet, fans of the original series will be quick to point out, that while it was a “boxing anime,” it was so much more. In a numerous amount of ways, the original “Joe” is akin to Ping Pong The Animation — a character driven narrative — as opposed to your typical sports anime. Breaking free from the restrictions of defined outcomes and crafting something truly imaginative.
That all being said, how does this new iteration of “Joe” stack up on the hierarchy of sports anime?
I’m going to discuss the story first, mainly because I feel there is one glaring detail that demands acknowledgement before pressing forward. I am referring to the “Gear” (i.e. mechanical limbs) the boxers use to inflict blood-stained carnage on their respective opponents. The concept, in theory, sounds interesting, but when one considers the ramifications, especially with the proliferation of CTE in athletes, it’s a horrifying notion. Imagine if “Iron” Mike Tyson were equipped with this “Gear” in his prime, he would straight up murder people with one punch (cue the One Punch Man theme music). In all seriousness, weaponizing the instrument of pain with highly sophisticated machinery, without providing protective barriers for the combatants is just ludicrous and a colossal oversight on the writer’s part. I understand the rationale behind the decision, as it pertains to my original statement regarding originality, or lack thereof, in sports. But, this innovative nuance is just a cosmetic flourish that adds little to nothing towards the overall plot.
Which is a shame.
Because there are numerous routes the anime staff could have taken this idea, that would have elevated this anime into something worth remembering. Perhaps, for example, they could have used the technology to profit from unnecessary conflicts and war, propagating political tensions and the fears of an overreaching quasi-government (this was sort of hinted at, but never really explored with any specific detail). Boxing would have still been the main focus, but underneath, you would have an interesting perspective about the dangers of proliferating technology. Instead, what we are left with, is a brother and sister competing for control over their father’s legacy. Then, much to the chagrin of the viewer, Yuuri decides to expel his integrated “gear” for the final match, making the entire concept an irrelevant element in a story that — desperately — needed vitality to successfully engage the viewer. As the saying goes: haste makes waste. The “gear” was the waste; therefore, invariably, the production must have been made in haste.
The remainder of the story is your ordinary sports anime framework, by which I mean: a tournament. Somewhat unavoidable, given the format of the show, but do we really need to see Joe get knocked down for a ten count, only to rise to his feet at the count of nine, in every single fight? Watch boxing clips on YouTube and you will see for yourself that this sort of thing rarely happens.
Joe, as they refer to him in the series, is reminiscent of a stray dog: he’s tough, gritty, aggressive, and has nothing to lose. Another characteristic of stray dogs is fear, an emotion that is briefly touched upon in Joe’s first fight (his first fight in the tournament, that is), but is never revisited later in the series. I would have liked to see this affliction be a recurring issue for Joe, a malignant hindrance that would have required significant mental effort to overcome his anxieties, potentially derailing his short-term goal of reaching Megalonia. Unfortunately, the series allows Joe to conquer this obstacle relatively early, diminishing much of the intrigue in his plight towards the top. In this sense, the story quickly dissolves from being an in depth character drama, and into a simple revenge story. The reflection of emulating the original “Joe” proved too arduous for “Megalo-Joe” to achieve, disappointing fans of the original series who were looking for a show that retained its predecessor’s desirable traits.
Gansaku Nanbu, Joe’s manager, is your prototypical boxing coach: tough exterior, but has a sense of honor and virtue. His actions are fairly predictable, and while they attempt to portray him as an indifferent character, we all know he will stand in Joe’s corner, no matter the circumstances; thus, nullifying the astonishment of his evident, false heel turn(s).
Nanbu’s previous protege, Tatsumi Aragaki, is the “genuine article” of the entire series. A man who was robbed of his legs and half of his face during a war, Aragaki struggles to find a reason to press forward in his “meaningless” existence. Much like the duality of his disfigured face, Aragaki leads a conflicted life, wanting to exact revenge on his coach through Joe, but also desiring a peaceful resolution that will alleviate some of his psychological woes. The depiction of this character was spot on, creating a connection with the viewer in a palpable way. The emotions that flew from Aragaki highlighted the fragile nature of all humans, reminding the viewer that one’s own mind, can be the greatest opponent of all.
I won’t engage in talking about the other character’s of the show, as the vast majority were dearth of any real personality; however, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Glen Burroughs coming out in a monster truck. I mean, what was that? We already know he’s a boisterous American, but they really tried to hammer that point home. Perhaps they watched some old clips of Stone Cold Steve Austin driving on his ATV to the ring, but just missed the point that the WWE was a contrived entertainment event, and not a real sporting competition.
The boxing matches were, for the most part, uninspiring, and as the tournament progressed to its later stages, it became onerous for the viewer to tune in to the next episode. Real life boxing is tedious enough (just look at the declining viewership numbers), but watching it in an anime format is all the more dreary when you consider the absurdity of the “gear” itself. There were a few plot twists thrown in here and there, but nothing that made the viewer second-guess the outcome of the series as a whole. Perhaps watching Ping Pong the Animation and Ashita no Joe has spoiled my standards for what to expect from future sports anime, yet, in the end, being judged by your peers is the only unbiased way of determining your place on the hierarchy of the sports anime genre. And while this may seem blasphemous to some of you, I believe the first two seasons of Haikyuu!! capture character emotions with more veracity than Megalo Box. One of the few times a Shounen anime did something better than a Seinen anime. Not the legacy Megalo Box was attempting to solidify with its sights set on attaining the previous glory of its predecessor.
The premise of the series involves Junk Dog, an underground Megalo Boxer. He participates in a popular sport in their world known as Megalo Boxing. What is Megalo Boxing? It’s basically a sport that involves boxers fighting with metal gears. Think of it as boxing but with more lethal and brutal consequences. Junk Dog takes on the moniker name “Joe” so he can participate in the Megalonia tournament. Throughout the series, we see his life journey as both a Megalo Boxer and person.
On my first viewing, Megalo Box made an intimidating and fascinating impression on me. I haven’t seen the original Ashita no Joe series before so coming into this anime fresh felt intimidating at first. On the other hand, I’m also fascinated by the larger than life ideas of the show. The first two episodes immediately had me glued to my seat as we witness Junk Dog showing his fighting skills as a Megalo Boxer. It didn’t take long to realize that the show portrays him as an underdog. The experience that Joe gains is invaluable and also allows him to realize his potential. I’m also a sucker for the “David vs Goliath” trope as the idea can be applied in any sport. For Megalo Box, the stakes are raised higher because of how dangerous it is. Every fight feels as if Joe is putting his life on the life against opponents. And believe me, the characters he comes across with are no pushovers. Take Yuuri as an example. He is a Megalo Boxing champion and is considered one of the top fighters in the world. In a classic ‘David vs Goalith’ style fight, he humiliates Junk Dog in his match. The fight inspires Junk Joe to climb up the ranks and make a name for himself. It planted the seeds for Junk Dog to not only improve but also show why he deserves to be a Megalo Boxer. Junk Dog later takes on the ring name “Gearless Joe” because of his own choice to fight without gears in the ring.
Now I have to be honest here and wonder what makes a good boxing story. Is it about the development of character in and out of the ring? Does it also involve a fighter going beyond than just a fictional character? Or maybe it’s a story that always keeps up coming back for more. Perhaps it’s how much the story draws lines between fiction and reality. Personally, I think Megalo Box has a bit of every one of those aspects. Junk Dog goes against his manager Nanbu to throw a fight and takes control of his own destiny. This is a contrast to Yuuri who often follows the command of Yukiko, the head of the Shirato Group who oversees the Megalonia tournament. There’s a good contrasting comparison between these two characters as it feels like they are living in two different worlds. It also impressed me on how much Junk Dog is willing to go to prove himself. This is shown later in the series when he fights Aragaki, with both physical and emotional stakes. It escalated to the point where both fighters eventually took on an all-brawl approach to see who the last man standing. In perhaps one of the most important fights of Junk Joe’s life, he proves himself as a warrior.
For a sports show, there’s no doubt psychology is also involved in the ring. The gimmicks, trash talk, and press conferences hypes up match-ups between opponents. A big selling factor also involves the emotional quality of the show. I can’t help but root for Junk Dog early on in the series. He’s the underdog and for him to beat certain opponents is relatable. It sends across the message that anyone can do anything they set their mind into. While this seems like a cheesy gimmick for the show, it’s very real and the buildup for some of Joe’s matches is executed flawlessly. On the other hand, Megalo Box does suffer a bit on the drama side if we look beyond the ring. Some of the subplot involving Yukiko clashing with the board of directors makes a less memorable impact to connect the series together. The family feud between Yukiko and Mikio also feels like it doesn’t belong in a show like this. Don’t get me wrong. I like a good drama from time to time but the way their plot is carried out just doesn’t sell well. On the other hand, the rivalries between the fighters is what got me really invested into the story. Junk Dog/Yuuri, Junk Dog/Mikio, and Mikio/Yuuri are all rivalries that stays committed to selling this show. What I’m also more invested in is how far Joe goes out to prove himself. He is very committed to his goal even if it means putting his own life on the line and taking jaw dropping risks. The guy knows what he wants to accomplish in life and to me, that’s an attitude you need to succeed.
Produced by TMS Entertainment, it’s may take a while for viewers to get used to the animation style. The characters looks like they are hand drawn and creates a sensation of the 1990s. The characters are rough looking especially for our main protagonist, Junk Dog. There’s no doubt the anime was aiming make the characters look as badass as possible. The addition of the gears these fighters wear adds more aesthetics to raise the stakes. However, the biggest selling point of the anime’s technical quality is the actual fighting. It really isn’t hard to spot how intense the action is once the fight gets into a momentum. Every punch feels impactful and camera angles captures the realism of the pain. It’s never camera shy to show blood on screen and how fighters react to their win or losses. Every fight can get viewers’ heart throbbing. The emotional impact can also be felt with the protrayal of human expressions. In terms of boxing, it also delivers its quality action such as uppercuts, corkscrew punches, jabbing, overhands, etc. Additionally, it’s worth noting how well the show’s dystopia setting is portrayed without overemphasizing element of science fiction. Sure, the series place in a futuristic environment but also shows the reality of cruelness such as poverty. If the creators were aiming for making this anime feel real, they sure got their job done.
I’m not too familiar with Katsuhiko Manabe but the music talent he brings into this anime is undeniably stylish. The fighting music amplifies the hip-pop style of the OST to bring in a lot of attitude into the series. The soundtrack is mesmerizing that always keeps its momentum from the minute the first beat hits. In the meantime, I’m also impressed by the voices of the character cast especially our protagonist Junk Dog. His personality matches with his voice that almost sounds like a fierce dog when fighting in the ring. The masculinity of all the fighters is believable because of the talented voice cast. Both the OP and ED theme songs also reflects a bit of the 1990s mood that may feel nostalgic.
Megalo Box definitely turned out to be a dark horse that I’m glad I gave a chance this year. What started out as a fight turned into an emotional story that follows the heart of an underdog. I’m in awe of how much I became invested into Joe’s character before even realizing his potential. While this anime may not be suitable for everyone, it’s still an anime that can keep just about anyone at their seat. Here is a series that made a name for itself in just 13 phenomenal episodes.
9: Yagate Kimi ni Naru
English: Bloom Into You
MAL Score: 7.91
Yuu Koito has always been entranced with romantic shoujo manga and the lyrics of love songs. She patiently waits for the wings of love to sprout and send her heart aflutter on the day that she finally receives a confession. Yet, when her classmate from junior high declares his love for her during their graduation, she feels unexpectedly hollow. The realization hits her: she understands romance as a concept, but she is incapable of experiencing the feeling first-hand.
Now, having enrolled in high school, Yuu, disconcerted and dispirited, is still ruminating over how to respond to her suitor. There, she happens upon the seemingly flawless student council president, Touko Nanami, maturely rejecting a confession of her own. Stirred by Touko’s elegant manner, Yuu approaches her for advice, only to be bewildered when the president confesses to her! Yuu quickly finds herself in the palm of Touko’s hand, and unknowingly sets herself on a path to find the emotion which has long eluded her.
The series follows the titular late bloomer, Yuu Koito, a girl who has never felt love before. Since she was young she has dreamed of falling in love, romanticizing the day when it would happen. Expecting to be swept off her feet, eventually. But that day has never come, even when someone confesses to her she feels nothing. This has kept her from fully connecting to her friends and peers, they are far more understanding of what they want romantically. She was alone until she met Tokou Nanami. A girl who has also never experienced love, until she met Yuu.
To Yuu’s surprise, Touko suddenly confesses to her, and while she does not reciprocate due to her inability to love, she allows Touko to be in love with her. The one condition Touko sets for Yuu is to never love her back. From here on, the tale of self-discovery begins, as each character learns from the other about who they are. At the start of the show Yuu seems like your typical blank slate protagonist devoid of the ability to love, but look further and you’ll see her personality is surprisingly realistic. Yuu is the type of person who cares for others deeply but masks it beneath a veneer of logic and normalcy. She possesses many of the telltale signs of sexual repression, her loneliness and lack of romantic feelings are just a few examples. Throughout the show, we see her pushing through boundaries she would have previously avoided, gaining more control of her life, she reflects on who she is and gains a better understanding of her own identity. This is why labeling Bloom Into You as a romance would be only half true; while it features people in love, it is more complicated than that. Before Yuu can love she has to face the realization what she wants, who she is.
Without a doubt, Bloom Into You depicts homosexual youth more realistically than I have seen in any anime before. Highlighting even the most minuscule of details that only someone who has experienced firsthand can convey believably. For example, in the first episode, Yuu’s father lets slide a casually homophobic comment about worrying that she isn’t in a relationship with someone of the same sex. After this line comes, the director smash cuts to Yuu in dismay at what he said. The tone sharply changes from moment to moment like this on many occasions to great success because of the subtly to which it is executed.
In comparison to Yuu, Touko is rather different in that she knows exactly what she wants and would die before she relinquished her purpose. Touko wants to love Yuu because she can be vulnerable with her, she wants desperately for Yuu to always be there to comfort her. However, she can’t stand the thought of being loved in return by Yuu because of her own insecurities. Throughout the series we see her personality pulled apart and analyzed thoroughly, she is rather basic upon first impression, but look further and there is far more to her than meets the eye. If Yuu were to love her, she would be conflicted, because in her mind she can’t possibly be loved. It’s an upsetting conflict that she endures, but incredibly effective in engaging anyone who has experienced similar insecurities.
Overall, these story beats are delivered with an impressive amount of grace and panache. The dialogue feels very natural, Yuu’s interactions with her friends are realistic and believable. Most of all, the supporting characters are consistent. They don’t have random lapses in their personalities, and if anything changes there’s an explanation for it in their lives. For example, if a character is acting awkward towards the suggestion of seeing a romance movie, it’s because they had their heart broken recently and needed a push to mention it to their friends. There’s a layer of depth to everyone that is far greater than what is expected of not only yuri, but anime in general.
This is also the rare explicitly lesbian show that does not fetishize its characters at all. Touko is very clear about her romantic and physical attraction to Yuu; likewise, Yuu is very clear about her lack of ability to love. Both are treated like fully realized people instead of objects. In figuring out themselves and what they mean to eachother, they do run into a few issues. Nevertheless their relationship is still built on communication, consent, and respecting boundaries. They’re a likable duo and it’s easy to get invested in their development. When the first kiss happens non-consensually, it is apologized for immediately, then it never occurs again. The author very deftly avoids, as well as subverts, the Class-S tropes negatively associated with the yuri genre.
Class-S usually refers to yuri that do not allow their characters to get into serious relationships, they are in high school and have time to play around before they get married to men when they graduate. The author of Bloom Into You has said on a few occasions that this is not a yuri, rather it is a story about girls and love. Understandably she wants to distance her story from negative connotations associated with the genre. Notably, this anime features a healthy adult lesbian relationship, showcasing that there is more to being homosexual and female outside of the scandalous high school melodrama. We also see a supporting character who faced the issue of her lesbian relationship being nullified under the pretense that ‘it’s just a phase’, and from this, she develops into a wonderfully nuanced character.
On the production side, Bloom Into You is magnificent. Beautiful visual storytelling, the storyboards convey characters inner emotions in engaging ways, it is very visually interesting. There are occasional breathtaking moments of sakuga, but what impresses more is the director’s keen eye for editing to clue us in onto how a character is feeling at any given moment. If emotions are obscured it is deliberately so, if they are shown then you have to take into account every little detail given to the audience. One of the best moments of visual storytelling in the first episode is when a rush of water divides Yuu from her friends; this shot perfectly conveys how her lack of understanding of herself divides her from the average teenager. Aside from just visual metaphors, how the story plays out is representative of the internal struggles Yuu and Touko face. The play that Touko desperately wants to enact is a tale of a woman without memories who needs to pick a desirable personality for herself, reflecting her insecurity and desire to better herself.
Punctuating each emotional beat are melancholic piano keys loudly implying the turmoils each character is enduring, and each of them is developed consistently enough for the musical accompaniment to feel very deserved. This is contrasted with melodic orchestral pieces to match the upbeat tone of scenes when characters come together and express heartwarming joy. With a talented and experienced composer like Michiru Oshima producing the soundtrack, the show’s audiovisual splendor blends together with its script wonderfully.
To say that Bloom Into You took me by surprise would be an understatement. At first, its unusually realistic characters blindsided me; Yuu and Touko are superbly nuanced people. They’re lost in the dark trying to find their way through a first relationship just as real people in their situation would. The many relevant themes this series tackles are what give the cast such believability and relatability unlike any other anime in this genre; self-loathing, societal expectations, homophobia, and sexual repression to name a few. Each theme is delivered respectfully and with subtlety. In the first few episodes, the pacing is quite slow, but always purposefully so, and once it gains speed it becomes enrapturing.
Without a doubt, Bloom Into You is the best anime I watched from this season, perhaps even the year. It is a masterfully crafted, unforgettable experience that will leave an impact on me for years to come.
The art of anime adaptations is a fascinating subject that takes many forms. I’m very open minded with just about any genre although when it comes to yuri and shoujo-ai, I’m rather indifferent about it. Recent adaptations of the shoujo-ai genre hardly made an impression on me such as Citrus or Netsuzou Trap. Both of those shows let me down big time with their aggressive stance on relationships. I wanted to see a softer side of the shoujo-ai genre without subscribing to sexual same gender relationships that relies on shock service. Thankfully, Yagate Kimi no Naru is the answer.
I’m not too familiar with the community related to shoujo-ai works but it’s clear that the manga has popularity. The series was launched in April 2015 from the Monthly Comic Dengeki Daioh and in the present, it has over 500k printing copies and ongoing. However, I was also curious about the anime adaptation after seeing the staff involved. Director Makoto Katou made a rather interesting impression back in 2015 when they directed a mystery light novel adaptation called “Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation”. While this series doesn’t contain much mystery, it definitely made me wonder if it has a similar mystique. Indeed, watching Yagate Kimi ni Naru (Bloom Into You) finally gave me a shoujo-ai that I desired.
Right off the bat, we meet Yuu Koito, a first-year high school student who has a love for shoujo manga. From her perspective, it’s easy to see what love is on a fictional level. It isn’t until a second-year student named Touko Nanami comes into her life that she really begin to experience what life and love is. Similar to Yuu, Touko also has trouble experiencing love although it’s clear that her mind is set to understand it. As a student, she is very admirable for her dependable personality and someone the freshmen look up to. However, all this seems to be masking her insecurity. The truth is, Touko has many weaknesses underneath her cool persona. It’s shown throughout the series that she feels loneliness due to her past and Yuu becomes the only person that she trusts in. On the other hand, Yuu seems to be more wary about love and wants to experience it. However, her view towards love is not as dedicated as Touko. She wants to experience love but often denies feelings of it. Yuu’s personality is more the opposite of Touko’s as she is indecisive at times, including her own future. So to say the least, how can these two develop a genuine relationship?
Honestly, I think the main draw of the show isn’t to see if the main characters can get together as a couple. Rather, it’s about how characters experience love and what love really means to them. Realistically, both characters views love in different ways although it’s clear that they lack experience in it. Touko is the more obvious with her insecure personality where she often isn’t sure what to do to make happy moments with Yuu. On the other hand, Yuu often believes what she experiences to be more of a fantasy than actual love. I guess part of that comes from reading all those shoujo manga although as the series progresses, she begins to grow out of her shell. The storytelling continues to test the two’s relationship on many levels. It’s a show that capitalizes on bringing in drama and thankfully, I can say that it accomplishes that very well. The drama sells with the character personalities, behaviors, dialogues, and realistic feelings. I’m also more pleased to say that everything in the show felt very real. Characters behave like humans do especially for high school students of their age. It’s a time period when young people want to get the best out of their lives and love is often a prominent part of growing up. To me, this show manages to capture the essence of character growing up while discovering what love is about.
While Yuu and Touko are the most prominent characters, it’s hard to take eyes off of some of the others. Sayaka Saeki is a good example as someone who used to attend an all-girls school and became a close friend with Touko. The two work together as part of the student council but it’s very clear that Sayaka sees her more than a friend. Love is the easiest way to describe it. It’s also easy to see why she falls for her too considering their similar personalities. Both Sayaka and Touko are hardworking individuals who are willing to help others. However, Sayaka is perhaps less outgoing compared to Touko and thus, not as easily as approachable. The series doesn’t dedicate to their relationship but it’s interesting to see Sayaka’s vision of love. In essence, she hides her feelings and is not someone that’s easy to read on the surface. This is a contrast to both Yuu and Touko as those two tends to say what’s on their mind. On a lesser extent, we also get to see the relationship between Miyako and Riko which is shown to be very healthy in nature. Their relationship is relaxing and almost like a contrast to the drama that we see so often in the story.
As for the shoujo-ai genre, I think it’s pretty easy to recognize that pretty much all the main characters are lesbians in one way or another. Some are to a lesser but it’s pretty clear from the start. What were you expecting though? The anime advertised itself as such with the same gender relationships so be prepared to subscribe to that from start to finish. But as a show with a lot of drama, I should say to watch this with a careful focus on the characters. Watch for what they say, how they behave, and their intentions. For me, I find the most complex character to be Yuu since her personality is often sarcastic and believes too much into fictional love. This is true especially in the beginning where it became hard to know what she really wants. The more I watched though, the more I came to accept Yuu for who she is and her quest to discover love. And that’s what I find so entrancing about this show.
In perhaps a coincidental timeline, we also get Troyca as the studio. It’s the same one that worked on Sakurako’s Investigation with the exact same director. As my first impression, this anime managed look colorful and vibrant with its character designs. There’s a feminine charm for the majority of the cast that really brings the elegance out of the characters. The emotional context are captured with the vivid details of body language and human expressions. The background visual quality is also stellar with a certain degree feeling of photorealism. Some of the scenes during the mid-season episodes like the ones with the bridge stands out the most. Last but not least, I would like to mention that character voice mannerism for the main cast is portrayed with supreme talent. Not only did I feel attached to their personalities, these characters also sounded like they belong in this anime from the beginning.
Ah, it’s about damn time. I’ve been indifferent about shoujo-ai shows for a good while but after seeing Yagate Kimi ni Naru, I may change my mind. This show managed to capture the expression of love in ways that exceed my expectations. It seized opportunities to recreate a sensational drama without stepping over the line. Keep your pants on because you’re not going to get sexual shock content all over your face. What you get is a drama done right in the most entrancing way possible. It’s almost perfect.
The show is very clearly, a romance genre. The key to any good romance media is the relationship: nothing else matters that much. My problem with the show is that it doesn’t try to make the relationships between our main characters all that interesting. An issue with many yuri or yaoi animes are that they use the idea that they are in a gay relationship to hide the fact that there is no real substance or development; they are too lazy to create anything interesting about the relationship besides the fact that they’re lesbians. The setting isn’t the issue either as there are a ton of romance anime that do well in mundane settings (and even if a romance media is set in a more unconventional and/or radical setting- the relationships itself isn’t taken over by the setting) because romance genres aren’t really supposed to be about exterior factors that govern the story’s universe per say, rather a device to tell a love story. My point being, the environment or exterior factors shouldn’t be the most important part overshadowing the characters, but should be used as an effective agent in portraying a relationship. However, Bloom Into You makes this mistake repeatedly throughout its course as boring subplots distract us from the main focus of the anime, the relationship.
So why was the relationship so uninteresting? Or, at least why did I subjectively find it bland? Well, it has to do with the romance development/buildup and characterization. A great romance anime that does this very well is Kimi Ni Todoke. There are certainly a lot of cute romance scenes in Bloom Into You, but it isn’t memorable or as effective as they could be. This is because there is no real buildup to the romance scenes or context, (for God’s sake one of the main characters doesn’t even reciprocate the same feelings) which makes the scenes unsatisfying and coming out of nowhere. There is no longing, no real angst that make the romance scenes worth while in this anime. Kimi Ni Todoke, my aforementioned example, takes the time to show longing, reciprocation of feelings as well as showing who each of the characters are: this is what makes trivial scenes of even the characters smiling at each other enjoyable and satisfying- overall making it an effective romance medium. Bloom Into You doesn’t do this very well either. Even in supposed-to-be emotional scenes, I fail to sympathize with any of the characters, and I’m a really emotional person, so it says a lot! There is no real character in dialogue, visuals or voice acting. It feels completely bland and lifeless, a very frustrating issue because the anime is centered around our characters and their relationship with each-other. There is just genuinely no substance in dialogue either which makes it very hard to emotionally relate with the last-minute backstory. Just overall making the characters less likable and therefore the romance/ their relationships less interesting and engaging.
A very important note I’d like to mention is the trend in a lot of animes that I’d like to call The Aesthetic Effect. The Aesthetic Effect is used in animes with “pretty” visuals, stories, music and concepts to be used as a facade to it’s mediocre nature. How vague the show is and the inoffensive factors of this anime make it desirable and appealing to a lot of the general audience. I think not only is this anime extremely bland, but also quite offensive at times by using lesbians as a token to justify dislikable behaviour to say the least of the main character Nanami forcefully putting herself upon the clearly uninterested Yuu. Not to be THAT person, but if a male character did things Nanami did to Yuu, it would be seen as extremely creepy. I found these scenes very unsightly and uncomfortable, which is the least thing you want for a romantic scene in a cute anime. To wrap things up, it is very clear this anime was made by people who see lesbians as an easy token key to attract audiences without adding real substance. Bloom Into You is just vague, pretty, attractive concepts jumbled into an unprofessional mess with the name of aesthetically pleasing romance. I will never understand why this anime is so overrated and put on a pedestal for being some sort of groundbreaking anime as it is just plain out boring with not really anything new to offer. Do yourself a favor and don’t watch this anime, it’s just a waste of time and it will leave you with nothing.
TL;DR – boring and mediocre, uses gay tokenism to hide behind it’s flaws.
8: Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai
English: Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
MAL Score: 8.31
The rare and inexplicable Puberty Syndrome is thought of as a myth. It is a rare disease which only affects teenagers, and its symptoms are so supernatural that hardly anyone recognizes it as a legitimate occurrence. However, high school student Sakuta Azusagawa knows from personal experience that it is very much real, and happens to be quite prevalent in his school.
Mai Sakurajima is a third-year high school student who gained fame in her youth as a child actress, but recently halted her promising career for reasons unknown to the public. With an air of unapproachability, she is well known throughout the school, but none dare interact with her—that is until Sakuta sees her wandering the library in a bunny girl costume. Despite the getup, no one seems to notice her, and after confronting her, he realizes that she is another victim of Puberty Syndrome. As Sakuta tries to help Mai through her predicament, his actions bring him into contact with more girls afflicted with the elusive disease.
Bunny Girl Senpai is full of the same issues commonly criticized in most light novel adaptations, so why does it get a free pass? Harem tropes, waifu bait, incest teasing, thin characterization, vague pseudoscience, and an asshole deadpan protagonist who solves a bunch of girls’ problems for them. Most of all, the art and sound are incredibly mediocre excluding the many moments when CloverWorks chooses to bend over and spray shit in our eyes with its abundance of hideous CGI crowds.
First and foremost, I hate the writing in Bunny Girl Senpai. Consider the ‘4’ points I rated the show overall to be a generous acknowledgment of its basic features. It was painful to watch, but not irredeemable. The story follows Sakuta, a second year in high school, as he tries to help girls afflicted by a supernatural phenomenon known as Adolescence Syndrome. If that sounds like a psychological disorder concocted by a pretentious teenage boy trying to sound smart, that’s because it is. If a character suddenly becomes invisible or if everyone is trapped in a three-day long time loop, then the author will call it Adolescence Syndrome and leave the rest up to our imaginations. In other words, it’s the author’s way of masking a cheap plot device. Rather than giving us a coherent explanation for the syndrome, the author just handwaves it with common quantum mechanics like Schrodinger’s Cat and Laplace’s Demon. It’s loosely defined as a supernatural affliction that manifests in people who are going through severe stress, whether it be cyberbullying causing physical cuts, or going invisible because you’re sick of attention. To the show’s credit, as a plot device, it is used to craft some empathetic struggles within the characters and even a little bit of relatability. However, these conflicts aren’t executed nearly as well as they could be. The story is told through five parts, each with a new girl for Sakuta to help and flirt with. This standard harem setup is so unbearable to watch play out because Sakuta is just an awful protagonist.
Sakuta is the average deadpan, cynical, uncaring protagonist, except he’s also an unlikable asshole. His one single tone of voice is monotonous boredom, and he almost never wavers from it for the entire series. Keep in mind, this show is FULL of dialogue, but it has no goddamn clue how to make any of it seem interesting. Sakuta’s dialogue isn’t witty or clever like you would expect from a deadpan character, it’s just vulgar, gross, and obnoxious. Deceptively, treats everyone like crap and hides behind irony so that people don’t think he’s that bad of a guy. However, everything he says is actually unironic, there’s no nuance, no punchline, he’s just a bad person. He is never punished for being an asshole, sometimes girls might comment on his behavior if he says something especially inappropriate to them, but right away they move on and act like he’s Jesus-kun again. For example, when a girl says something rude to him he fires back with:
“Are you on your period or something?”
Did a twelve-year-old write this script? Sakuta’s shallow quips are always like this, juvenile and crass, and the rest of his dialogue is completely deadpan. He is rarely emotionally impacted by anything; very little makes him impressed or concerned. Viewing a story from the perspective of an uncaring asshole like Sakuta makes it impossible to get invested in anything, or even enjoy it. If the show had actually confronted him about his behavior and acknowledged how bad he was to his friends, then it could have been a character flaw and something to develop upon. But from what we saw adapted, his character development is satisfied with being permanently stagnant. He continues to hide his ugly personality behind a thick layer of snark and quips. Sakuta is just the rotten core of this story, surrounding him is the main attraction, all of the ladies who are strangely drawn to him.
Our first heroine for Sakuta to assist is Mai Sakurajima, the titular bunny girl. Somehow she makes the dialogue even worse, she is equally as dry and cynical as Sakuta. Throughout the series, the script parallels standard rom-com dialogue, except it is written to be as pretentious as possible with the pace cranked down to molasses. Rather than a simple sentence lasting a few seconds, it’s needlessly wrapped into a messy jumble of sophistry and weird unfunny jokes. Why can’t these kids just talk like normal human beings? That would sure as hell make them more engaging to watch, and you know, relatable. Mai is the typical tsundere archetype, with the intruiging bunny girl costume appearing the most in episode one, then rarely appearing for the rest of the series. The whole ‘Bunny Girl’ hook in the title is contrived for what amounts to little more than big budget clickbait.
There is one area which Bunny Girl Senpai is deserving of praise, its themes. At least from a conceptual standpoint, they add some nuance and relatability to cast. The execution of these themes, like the rest of the show, leaves much to be desired. Where we see the most intruiging themes on display is in Futaba’s arc; she is introduced early in the show as more or less an exposition dumper with the sole purpose of lampshading plot conveniences. The relevant themes of insecurity and social anxiety addressed in her arc are muddled by the terrible hackneyed script. She is a scientist girl for the sole purpose of spouting tropey quantum theory pseudo-science to explain away everything that’s happening. It’s always painfully apparent that the author just read a brief summary about the theories he uses in his story in an attempt to seem intelligent, but it’s so clear he didn’t bother to fully research them so instead it makes him look stupider. These overlong, cringe-inducing, self-congratulatory ‘science’ scenes occur almost every episode.
Nothing in Bunny Girl Senpai feels real, it’s all plastic. Mai and the rest of the girls don’t feel like fully realized characters either. They all experience some kind of turmoil yet this rarely shows through in their personalities. They are all plastic prepackaged moe archetypes, unaffected by anything they go through. Even if a character is visibly changed by their conflict after it’s resolved, it is usually undermined by the show’s terrible writing. For example one girl is affected by Adolescence Syndrome because she is so insecure with her body from how people have treated her, then after her affliction is resolved Sakuta interjects with another one of his crude sex jokes that objectifies her body and undermines everything the arc was building towards. Another issue is the lack of lasting effects to each arc. They are paced too poorly for us to see how characters are impacted, rather than a satisfying conclusion the story just moves on. When the author decides he’s bored of a girl he simply ends the arc, in favor of a new case of Adolescence Syndrome. Of course, with another stock standard girl taken off the shelves at A-1 Pictures’ waifu warehouse to become the show’s new main appeal for a few weeks, until she is inevitably relegated to the supporting cast in favor of a new poster girl.
It makes the author seem like an impatient teenage boy who just wants to shove as many beautiful girls into the arms of the cool guy bland protagonist. He pairs a girl with the protagonist and lets them flirt a little bit, and before he has to commit and actually develop said girl he gets bored of her. And writing a nuanced character is such hard work for him. So instead he just solves the issue by tossing aside the old girl in favor of a fresh new waifu to fawn all over his self-insert. This is, of course, a fundamental issue of most harem anime, a revolving door of waifus and a self insert protagonist. Being a light novel adaptation, Bunny Girl Senpai bears many structural similarities to a harem anime. Generally this is the reason why I avoid the genre, that and obnoxious fanservice which this series is thankfully frugal with. Eventually, it leaves off on a non-ending because this is an adaptation of an ongoing light novel. The show tries to wrap up the story as neatly as possible at the end of the last girl’s arc, but it crashes and burns in its finale. The climax is a filled with overwrought crying, forced drama, and the cheesiest and most cringe-inducing writing in the whole show.
In a better series, this barren wasteland of a script could be saved by a larger budget, or a more experienced director. However, this show’s decidedly unimaginative directing style leaves much to be desired. The art is mediocre, it’s in no way vivid to look at, the directing fails to make the long stretches of dialogue remotely interesting. Aside from the abhorrent CGI crowds, it isn’t a visual disaster, it could be worse, but it could be so much better. Other dialogue heavy anime like the Monogatari Series utilize unique directing techniques and plenty of visual storytelling to engage the viewer in lengthy conversations between two characters. Strangely, Bunny Girl Senpai desires to be watched as a thoughtful supernatural character drama, but it plays out like a generic light novel romantic comedy, taking the worst aspects of each and failing to craft an original or worthwhile series.
[Final Score: 4/10]
Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai presents intruiging themes of how people treat and mistreat one another during adolescence. However, it fails to execute its best ideas successfully or in a compelling way due to terrible pacing, narrative structural issues, needlessly convoluted dialogue, mediocre presentation, and a thoroughly unlikable main character. If the author possessed half of the self-awareness he seems to think he has, this may not have been an overrated, cringy, bore-fest.
Raskal Does Not Dream of Copyright Infringement
There is going to be a lot of mentions of Monogatari series in the review, because you need to understand that this series is not just similar, or inspired, or derivative. No – it’s an unbelievably blatant plagiarism, it steals everything from Monogatari, and I mean EVERYTHING, except for a couple of elements stolen from Oregairu and Haruhi instead. Comparing it to the famous cases of literary plagiarism ruled by court (Like Harry Potter’s rip-off called Tanya Grotter), it would 100% be ruled a copyright infringement if Nisio Isin/Kodansha ever bothered to sue (and it baffles me that they didn’t). If you’ve seen Monogatari before, you might get a kick out of spotting entire scenes and minute-long dialogues meticulously copypasted word-for-word (don’t make it a drinking game, you’ll die) but there really isn’t much point in doing that over an actual rewatch, because production values are not as good as Studio SHAFT.
Well, one might ask, wouldn’t a carbon copy of a good series also be good? No, because there is another element in play – the author is a talentless hack. Something called “stupidity” manifests in multiple aspects of this story making it impossible to enjoy. Here are some examples:
1. Primitive surface-level copying results in nonsense. The best example is the show’s title – it’s terrible for marketing purposes because it made many people believe this is going to be some ecchi harem. Well, the title comes from the female lead wearing a bunny-girl suit …for approximately 15 seconds that basically amount to nothing plot-wise. You see, in Monogatari heroines have animal leitmotifs, and that got copypasted – except the writer couldn’t think of any actual reason for this inside the story, so it’s just an awkward non sequitur, sitting there, doing nothing except making the title stupid – and there are many other examples like that.
2. Insufferable protagonist. There is a certain trope familiar to most anime watchers – “badass loner”, aka “Gary Stu”, aka “Self-insert Jesus-kun”, aka “literally me”. Araragi from Monogatari looks like one – until he isn’t, because writing anime cliches as complex real people is what that series does. Hachiman from Oregairu is another take – he is also real, i. e. an awkward teenager who has trouble socializing. Being a talentless hack he is, the writer of Aobuta couldn’t do anything but write this trope completely straight. The MC is supposedly antisocial pariah, but he has social skills and confidence of a god. When some dumb females give him shit he just says “begone thot!” and they run away in shame, defeated by his awesomeness. He beats a jock twice his size in a fist fight by “outsmarting” him, nevermind a gang of jock’s friends standing there doing nothing. It’s just so cringy to watch. Kirito from SAO is a better protagonist, at least that guy farmed levels or something.
3. Idiotic non-logic. Monogatari has supernatural phenomena explained with ghosts. Aobuta has supernatural phenomena explained with quantum mechanics. That is, dumb and cringy “is math related to science?” level of quantum mechanics understanding. That’s not my point, pseudo-science is just a particular case of a bigger problem of nothing making sense. This is also better explained with an example. Spoiler ahead:
**Spoiler begins here**
Here is a conversation between two characters:
Person A: “I’m trapped in a day-long time loop.”
Person B: “That means there is another person also trapped in the same loop.”
Nonsense, right? Well the conversation is slightly longer but boils down to exactly that. Here is a full version with my play-by-play:
Person A: “I’m trapped in a day-long time loop.”
Person B: “What if you’re not trapped, but instead perfectly predict the future, and experience it as an advanced form of jamais vu?” //How could this possibly be a first idea in reaction to the time loop? How does that work? Why is it a time loop that repeats multiple times instead of just being clairvoyant? You what?
Person A: “How so?”
Person B: “Laplace’s demon. A theoretical intelligence that can perfectly calculate position and behaviour of every particle in the universe, therefore, can predict the future.” //But why would it make a repeating loop instead of just being clairvoyant??? Why would Laplace’s demon be your first idea if it doesn’t actually fit the nature of the situation?
Person A: “But I’m not a Laplace’s demon, I’m a normal human”
Person B: “That means some other person is Laplace’s demon and they do the calculations. You’re quantum entangled with that person so you experience their time loop.” //Again, how could this possibly be your first idea? Other person being Laplace’s demon doesn’t actually answer any of the questions posed. Also, quantum entanglement… a) Is an actual physical phenomena, not a theoretical construct, and it doesn’t fit the situation at all, so it wouldn’t be a thing that comes to mind here; b) Doesn’t have anything to do with Laplace’s demon, so it wouldn’t come to mind based on that; c) DOESN’T EXPLAIN WHY THE TIME IS REPEATING IN A LOOP, INSTEAD OF TWO PEOPLE BEING CLAIRVOYANT.
**Spoiler ends here**
Notice the pattern? Wrong physics aside, none of the conclusions of Person B logically follow from the previously reached conclusions, it’s a bunch of random lines arranged one after another. Either the author is a moron and “lines arranged one after another” is his understanding of how logic works, or he thinks the audience are morons and he can scam them with this garbage if he talks fast and sounds confident. Incidentally, if someone tries “but that’s just Person B’s theory, it doesn’t have to be true” on you – spit them in the face because the characters act on those assumptions and they are proven to be 100% correct.
2/10 because this series provides nothing of value and has no reason to exist, except to give an answer to a weird thought experiment – what if some acclaimed series was the same, but written by an author 50 IQ points lower.
If you thought this show was about literal BUNNY GIRLS, boi should you be prepared to be bamboozled by the most misleading title that you mightve ever come across. I was watching the first few minutes of the first episode expecting something probably as ecchi as it seems on the cover art, but hot damn did I got hooked by the quirky characters, mainly the interactions between our main protagonists. This show within the first episode reminded me of Bakemonogatari, which till this date I still think has one of the best monologues and dialogues, and now at the end of it, I think we have a great contester to dethrone the monogatari series, and here I present you, Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai.
Story / Character -10-
Revolving around the idea of ‘Puberty Syndrome’, this story mainly focuses on how our male protagonist, Sakuta settles this problem for the ones undergoing this syndrome. Albeit totally supernatural, there are sufficient backstory and explanations relating to quantum physics and what not (if you can understand that is), in which I think is always a great touch to the story to not let the audience sit in confusion. Puberty Syndrome is where you might find random bruises or cuts throughout your body, or having a juxtapose of yourself that takes your rightful place etc. However, because the setting of this story is actually in high school, it can be very relatable to some due to the fact that the problems usually are involved with gossiping, bad mouthing or simply falling in love. Consequences of not properly solving Puberty Syndrome can lead to severe problems, just like in real life, one wrong move and it might cause you the win or lose.
Now moving on to our protagonist, ladies first, and it is our best girl Sakurajima Mai senpai. Humorous, bold, outgoing, what more can one ask for, it’s an all in one package here for your service. Sakuta, again humorous, kind, and mostly perverted. With the encounter of Makinohara Shouko, Sakuta starts to treat others kinder and is the core of why Sakuta helps (perpetually) everyone out throughout the story, because he wants to be kind. As of the side characters, imouto, kouhai, thicc af girl IN LAB COAT, theyre all really great and likeable characters, with each of them having their own unique personalities. They also contribute a lot to the story, making this entire show a very wholesome one. Catchy settings and directing is what makes this anime stand at the top against the others this season, maybe even the year of 2018, you get so invested into the characters by the first episode it is hard to just not love this anime.
Cloverworks ( A-1 Pictures) nailed the crap out of it this time. The art style is really smooth to the eyes, and looks a lot like Oregairu (which is definitely an extra point), animations are fluid and some compositions are seriously on point. Subtle emotions are well laid out on the characters and they really add up to the feelings and they convey well to the audience.
Another big part that contributes to the wholesomeness of this show is the voice acting and the OSTs. The opening which at this point everyone probably knows how to sing, is hella catchy, and is like a blackhole sucking you in, once you heard it, theres no turning back. Same goes for the ending, every character had their own uniquely designed ending, just like how the monogatari series has the VA sing the OP for their respective arcs (in which case is the same here). Voice acting is top notch, whats better than having a quirky conversation? A lively and energetic one. And its all here in this show, cocaine for your ears my buddy.
Definitely my top pick of this season (year as well), if you haven’t watch it, please do so already, you really don’t want to miss out this show, even if the cover art turns you off (or the otherwise ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) You want some fun time watching some slice of life-y anime? Check! You want some home hitting feelings or tear jerking moments? Check! Having doubted this anime at first was my single worst mistake Ive ever made, because this series has proven itself worthy of being one of the best animes possibly out there. With an movie adaptation for another arc in the future, I can safely say that everyone should be looking forward for that, just like how Sakuta looks forward getting teased by Mai everyday.
7: 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.
6: Steins;Gate 0
English: Steins;Gate 0
Japanese: シュタインズ ゲート ゼロ
MAL Score: 8.51
The eccentric, self-proclaimed mad scientist Rintarou Okabe has become a shell of his former self. Depressed and traumatized after failing to rescue his friend Makise Kurisu, he has decided to forsake his mad scientist alter ego and live as an ordinary college student. Surrounded by friends who know little of his time travel experiences, Okabe spends his days trying to forget the horrors of his adventures alone.
While working as a receptionist at a college technology forum, Okabe meets the short, spunky Maho Hiyajo, who
later turns out to be the interpreter at the forum’s presentation, conducted by Professor Alexis Leskinen. In front of a stunned crowd, Alexis and Maho unveil Amadeus—a revolutionary AI capable of storing a person’s memories and creating a perfect simulation of that person complete with their personality and quirks. Meeting with Maho and Alexis after the presentation, Okabe learns that the two were Kurisu’s colleagues in university, and that they have simulated her in Amadeus. Hired by Alexis to research the simulation’s behavior, Okabe is given the chance to interact with the shadow of a long-lost dear friend. Dangerously tangled in the past, Okabe must face the harsh reality and carefully maneuver around the disastrous consequences that come with disturbing the natural flow of time.
Steins;Gate 0 is a story following “Open the Missing Link” – episode 23B of Steins;Gate.
My biggest gripe with the show is that no character delivers anything worth hearing in 20 episodes of the series. Okabe is a one-dimensional depressed person whose only way of exuding emotion is through shocked expressions. Mayuri is nothing but a plot device who clings to Okabe for reasons unknown since she has no character development at all. Her entire reasoning for existence is to love Okabe and that’s it.
Kagari is there to exist solely to look like Kurisu and make you feel bad. Nothing else… but she’s a cliffhanger for 4 episodes only to be overshadowed shortly after. She did not have enough character development prior to showing the sob story for you to even care.
I could break down each character, but this is what each of them are. They’re all hollow characters that have no justification for their actions. There’s no backstory and if there is it’s as basic as it could get, it’s just “This is them, and this is how they will always act.” and they never deviate from that.
World War 3 is imminent and they need to shift world lines to find “Steins;Gate” but Okabe says “nope”. After too many episodes, he says “maybe”. After more episodes, he’s just thrown into the future and he says “oh wow, maybe I should have done something”. From there his entire perspective changes because he “didn’t think it’d be like this even though he knew it’d be like this but didn’t think about it”. He actually says that. That’s it. Every other sub-plot that tried to fit itself in is now over-shadowed by this. Why did they exist? Mommy/daughter scenes? And did I mention this was 21 EPISODES of a 23 EPISODE series? So now he’s in a race to get back to the past to revert all the crap we had to painfully sit through.
Without a doubt one of the worst animations I’ve seen from an Anime that has done well world-wide. They pick it up in the final 4 episodes, but even than it barely passes. They kept the same art style which was great and a plus, but the proportions were insanely ridiculous in certain scenes. The action scenes were abysmal and sadly they came towards the end of the series. The series suffered a lot of realism with how poorly done every action shot was. Overall, it was pretty lackluster and the amount of close-ups of people’s faces started to become uncomfortable. Each episode seemed to have a different “budget” – some episodes looked bad, others looked a lot better, etc. Steins;Gate looked better, and that was 7 years ago.
There are no twists or turns along the way. Everything you thought would happen, did happen. And the worst part is, the show made you think you’re stupid and left EACH one of these things on a “cliffhanger”. We knew how this ended before it began, so why did you put cliffhangers of character deaths in it? That’s lazy writing.
The plot moved at a snail pace and the story didn’t flow together at all. It felt as if 5 people wrote it without talking with one another. They don’t delve into the plot until episode 20. Instead you sat through watching Okabe be sad and people trying to cheer him up with slight plot nuances here and there that you saw coming a mile away. There is no sci-fi/mystery in this, there are no philosophical quotes/ideas. It’s just, “hey get the time machine let’s go back in time”. The conclusions are just chopped up to “convergence” with no consistency or even showing it since it’d look so idiotic.
The new characters are all shadows of past characters(Kurisu vs Maho)… or Kagari being a duplicate of Suzuha that looks like Kurisu. We still don’t even know why she does. That’s the type of originality this show has to offer. It banked on nostalgia of Steins;Gate and it shows – this wouldn’t hold its own if it didn’t exist. The fan service episodes, the non-existent character development… and most of all, how little everything made sense when you look into it.
Amadeus is reduced to a plot device for people who wanted to see her and they needed to add some melodrama to it that made NO SENSE. The story makes you fixate on one thing, and hopes you forget about everything prior and what’s to come countless times. I’ll give one example. Why do we need a full episode of Amadeus right before the finale when Okabe knows the AI has to seize existing to have the REAL Kurisu next episode? Why did it exist? It’s like they forgot the entire plot for one episode in hopes of recreating what the original had that wasn’t forced. Any other cliche made sense there, “I’m coming to save you Kurisu. I love you.” – I’d go as far as to say THAT was better than what they did. It fit into the theme of what Okabe was at the time, unlike what they did.
If you’re looking for a sci-fi/thriller with a great plot, watch the original again. If you want to see the same ideas rehashed with bad writing, bad characters, and pointless plots with a good amount of fan service… look no further. Steins;Gate 0 awaits you.
when we are traveling or sleeping we don’t know what happened to the situation out there in other words if we pull out a hair what happens to our head? it doesn’t have much effect on us to imagine when a piece of hair gets pulled one by one over a long period of time what happens? of course we will feel the impact of a single hair.
in the world we live there is nothing that can stop time as our will is like a spinning wheel we live always spinning and experiencing some heavy process and if the wheel loses the chain what happens? the wheel will stop spinning like a world that stops spinning and only shows day and night forever.
and so on and on …
Originally a visual novel by 5pb and Nitroplus, Steins; Gate 0 tells the story of Okabe Rintaro (the crazy scientist known as Hououin Kyouma) who fails to save his lover and cannot stop the occurrence of the third world war. Okabe spends the rest of his time lamenting sadness after losing his lover and time spent with his “friends”. The gadget is the name of the laboratory that Okabe founded to experiment on tools that could be said to be like the tools of the future. After experiencing Okabe’s failure to save his lover he no longer visits the laboratory he founded with his colleagues.
after he gave up he threw out the name of chunnibyou “Hoounin Kyouma” and decided to become an ordinary student after three months of studying / as a student he met with the assistant professor at the place where he studied “Maho Hiyajo” a woman aged twenty-one years. the woman Okabe attended the brain intelligence seminar created by “Alexis Lexinen” in the seminar appeared Okabe’s lover who had died a while ago but his lover was in the form of AI (Artifical Intelligence).
Steins; Gate 0 is a good series, but unlike the previous series in this series it seems not too tense. White Fox is the maker of two series of Steins; Gate, this studio gives a good impression in adapting Novel Visuals and Manga (no need to be surprised because the studio this is a studio that produces Akame ga Kill and Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seiketsu which until now has become the best-selling series).
aside from the matter above now an anime series will not be good if it is not supported by voice actors, song themes, and song background (BGM) like a car if there are no supporters like wheels then it will not work well. Thanks to the voice this time of course only this matter did not escape Miyano Mamoru’s voice talents as “Okabe Rintarou”, Hanazawa Kana as “Shiina Mayuri”, Imai Asami as “Makise Kurisu” (although she did not play many roles and was AI), and Seki Tomokazu as “Hashida Itaru “once again I thank the series voice this time for struggling in carrying out their duties.
for the opening theme “Fatima” sung by “Itou Kanako” she has already contributed in the making of the opening theme song in the previous series. For the music background it’s pretty good especially when the “twenty-two” episode starts from music that makes the audience get excited and sad
This series gets three new characters, “Hiyajo Maho” as the, “Shiina Kagari” (she is a person from the future who came with Suzuha to stop the third world war), and the last is ” Leskinen Alexis “.
This series has the impression of being funny, sad, tense, and so romantic, it’s no wonder the viewers are confused by the nets of the story. Although this series focuses more on the daily life of “Okabe Rintarou” who fails to save his lover, compared to the fight itself it may this might have an effect on the value or ranking down in this series even though in this series it is also no less stressful than the previous series.
even though Steins; Gate 0 is an anime science fiction it is not denied even though the time we passed from this moment we cannot return or repeat and change it according to our own desires because it is something that is contrary to the universe.
it is strange if the final winding is regret or happiness
Back in 2011, we were stunned by the hit-anime named “Steins;Gate” with its unique story-telling of Sci-Fi, which is time-travel in the anime industry. The industry doesn’t have many anime that focuses on time-travel conflicts. So far, the only time-travel anime I’ve watched were Steins;Gate and ERASED, which both made me amused, excited and thrilled on their unique, individual scenes. Now, this Spring 2018, we were hitted by nostalgia with the return of the Steins;Gate franchise although, instead of it having a sequel, we get a “midquel” of the original Steins Gate. Thus, we get to watch the phenomenal dark story of the franchise named “Steins;Gate 0”. Just a brief reminder, before you watch Steins Gate 0, keep in mind this is an alternate story of the original. After Episode 22/23 of the original series, watch “Steins;Gate: Episode 23 (B), Open the Missing Link”, where this episode leads to the episode 1 of Steins;Gate 0.
We get to follow the story of a man once named “Hououin Kyouma” but then he suddenly changed with a certain incident, changing him back to only “Okabe, Rintarou.” Hence, “Hououin Kyouma” was no more in this world. We are looking into a broken-man named “Okabe, Rintarou”. With him not finding the goal which is the Steins;Gate world line, he was stuck to be in the Beta World Line, where Kurisu sacrificed herself for Mayuri. This is a story where Okabe failed to reach a good ending and was now stuck in a world line where WW3 was inevitable. If you want to expect more dark revelations like what the original Steins;Gate did, then you are on the right series because revelations are breathtaking on each episode of Steins Gate 0. We get to follow an Okabe who wears a dark suit, not a lab coat, depicting how his mental state is. Here, we get to see how he, a once delusional man, is now a normal college student. But, when “Amadeus” (AI Kurisu) was introduced to him, the peace that Okabe was longing started to get disrupted. Basically, everything up to the last episode, was related to “Amadeus” keeping the plot synopsis in tact and the characters as well. What I like about the story is the originality of the plot rather than copy-pasting from the original anime. Scenes that were anime-original that cannot be found in the VN were some instance, were there as well. Another thing was that the story keeps becoming dark and dark and as it goes darker, the characters are developing as well making the thrill of the story fitting to the characters not only Okabe but the others as well.
What makes a great anime is a ton of great and well-developed characters and the Steins;Gate franchise always impresses us, including Steins;Gate 0 with their characters. Take our favorite mad-scientist for example “Hououin Kyouma”. We were so attached to him on the original Steins;Gate that seeing him being so broken and fragile on Steins;Gate 0 makes me (and I bet the fans as well), hoping the great mad-scientist will return someday. But even tho he was so broken and fragile, due to the story’s progression, his character development progressed each episode as well. Then we have Shiina Mayuri, who shockingly have the best character development of all. She did something so courageous that is out of her character and made us fans say “Great Job Mayuri.”. Of course we will not forget Hashida Daru. The perverted otaku and hacker who for some instance a dad, a caring friend and a scientist. If you finished this anime, you know why Daru really improved alot on this series not only on a romantic way but with Okabe as well. Then we have Makise Kurisu (Amadeus a.k.a AI Kurisu), again like Mayuri, Courage made her a great character in an instance even though she is just a computer version of the actual Kurisu. Or should I say, she is just a fake. Not to mention the “trap” Ruka to have some character development even tho her screentime is not that much. Along with Ruka (who is a supporting characters) are of course Mr Braun and Moeka. If you watched the original Steins Gate you would have known they are the villains (SERN’s employees or like that) but it is a good fact that this two are allies of Okabe on this Beta World Line, so expect some revelations of villains ahead.
Then we are introduced with some new characters like Professor Leskinen and Hiyajou, Maho. Maho, who is a colleague of Kurisu back in America shows lots of character traits but one of them was jealousy. Then this trait was shattered as episode goes on and on and we see her having more confidence to herself. Then there’s Professor Leskinen who just wants her japanese shaman girls Lintahlo!!!..
There’s nothing to say about to visuals/art design of Steins;Gate 0 as it stays just what it was back in the 2011 adaptation of Steins;Gate, and of course I’m glad it stayed that way. However, if look at it, there are more action scenes on Steins;Gate 0 compared to Steins;Gate. If your an action fan you will be disappointed as the actions are pretty whacky and not so good. But since we all know Steins;Gate is more focus on the Sci-Fi and thriller stuffs, we can let it all slip. The visuals of the opening and endings are phenominal and matches the current state of the characters on the story. Not to mention, the Endings as well. But out of all those, the first ending which is entitled “LAST GAME” grabbed my attention both visually and musically. Its inferences and basis of Okabe and Mayuri to the first half of the story are all in that ED. Overall, the visuals are great.
A good anime comes with good openings, endings and background music and oh boy….. Zero really made my ears feel the nostalgia back when I watched Steins;Gate and play the VNs. Aside from the openings and endings being good, the background music as I hear them some felt like I heard them before. Even tho they are reusing those background music, it doesn’t affect the story and scene at all. It actually makes the scene more powerful and eye-catching with your ears hearing those nostalgic beats.
Overall thoughts and Enjoyment:
In conclusion, if you are a diehard steins gate fan you wil love this 23 episodes ride of Steins;Gate 0. It actually felt like I watched a whole another anime which should be because if I felt that I just rewatched Steins;Gate, then Zero would have lacked uniqueness with its plot and characters. But thank god I didn’t felt that and I enjoyed it at the same level of the original Steins;Gate. Even tho it is more dark, it should be and will always be a good anime to watch if you feel like Steins;Gate was not enough. If you haven’t watched Steins;Gate, do it now and then watch this. I assure you. You will not regret it. El..Psy..Congroo..
5: Banana Fish
Japanese: BANANA FISH
MAL Score: 8.51
Aslan Jade Callenreese, known as Ash Lynx, was a runaway picked off the streets of New York City and raised by the infamous godfather of the mafia, Dino Golzine. Now 17 years old and the boss of his own gang, Ash begins investigating the mysterious “Banana Fish”—the same two words his older brother, Griffin, has muttered since his return from the Iraq War. However, his inquiries are hindered when Dino sends his men after Ash at an underground bar he uses as a hideout.
At the bar, Skip, Ash’s friend, introduces him to Shunichi Ibe and his assistant, Eiji Okumura, who are Japanese photographers reporting on American street gangs. However, their conversation is interrupted when Shorter Wong, one of Ash’s allies, calls to warn him about Dino. Soon, Dino’s men storm the bar, and in the ensuing chaos kidnap Skip and Eiji. Now, Ash must find a way to rescue them and continue his investigation into Banana Fish, but will his history with the mafia prevent him from succeeding?
Drugs. Rape. Pedophilia. Gangs. PTSD. Violence. Corruption.
These are the terms at the core of Banana Fish. Though at the same time, the crime and gangster backdrop is not all the story is about and confining it within those boundaries massively undersells the broad scope of topics this anime covers. Because while Banana Fish’s pragmatic and deplorable world is filled to the brim with death and sexual violence, the tale it tells of its main character, Ash Lynx, is a visceral story about life and love. And just as deliberate as its juxtaposition of death with life and lust with love, Banana Fish is a carefully woven story about dichotomies. Its two halves, like the darkness and light reflected in its two main protagonists, Ash and Eiji, permeate this character drama in numerous ways to paint a grounded tale about both the ugly and beautiful aspects that make us human.
With little exposition to back it up, Banana Fish sets up intrigue from the outset and primarily uses its early episodes to build character back stories, motivations, and tension until its first major climax. From there, the copious amount of setup spent on its foundation gets grounded and becomes meaningful. Although Banana Fish has an overarching narrative, its story can be broken down into multiple arcs. The narrative shifts seamlessly from arc to arc; however, the tone between them can vary drastically. These tone shifts combined with Banana Fish’s brisk pacing, does cause sudden mood swings, that at times lead to whiplash. But overall, its purposeful tonal dissonance is used to great effect to accentuate the light and dark themes that imbue its story. Its pacing allows eventful occurrences to happen every episode but sometimes hurts the show in its calmer hours. And unfortunately, the anime rushes a few episodes in the second cour to accommodate the daunting task of adapting nineteen volumes of manga into twenty-four episodes of anime. While in its other weaker moments, Banana Fish can suffer from clumsy plot developments, become somewhat fantastical, and get repetitive with both innocuous and annoying elements, overall, the story rarely ceases to entertain and because it is comprised of many moving parts, it often takes unpredictable turns that keep its audience on their toes. Though because a large amount of finer details were cut, viewers are required to pay close attention and often read between the lines, which at times, can lead to the discovery of surprise character nuance.
While Banana Fish’s story can be described as its weakest element, its characters are its strongest. Despite having a rather large cast of relevant main and supporting characters, Banana Fish adeptly characterizes the important ones in a short amount of time and consistently develops them throughout the narrative. As a result, characters as well as their interactions are both dynamic and engaging. At the center of this ever-evolving maelstrom of personalities is the two protagonists, Ash and Eiji. No other character in Banana Fish is as carefully realized or developed as Ash, who teeters between his hardened persona and vulnerable self seamlessly, but the complex, multi-faceted relationship Ash and Eiji share come close. Their relationship, while not the focus of the story, is just as important as the plot. It never becomes physical because of Ash’s past, but the emotional connection between the two cannot be understated as it develops both protagonists and organically becomes the emotional foundation in which the narrative is founded upon. However, unfortunately, due to the limited episode count, several side characters are stripped of their more nuanced character traits that can be found in their manga counterparts. And even Eiji was regrettably simplified in the anime. Antagonists of varying degrees of depth and competence will come and go. All are twisted in their own way, most will be hated, and some are more than they seem. While Banana Fish is not one to have overly complex antagonists, mainly because writing sympathetic rapists and pedophiles goes against the themes of the piece, they all serve the narrative purpose that they were written for even if it is not entirely clear from the outset. However, Yut-Lung and Blanca deserve special mentions for not only being complicated and interesting, but for also highlighting Banana Fish’s themes by serving as impressive foils. Each character has been made to life by talented voice actors, but most notably, Uchida Yuuma, the voice for Ash, has given a powerful performance with resounding care and heart put forth in conveying all of Ash’s complexities.
Consistent with other series produced by studio MAPPA, the animation and art quality are spectacular for the first several episodes before eventually becoming a series of ups and downs. The latter half of the show and the action-oriented episodes in particular have suffered as the anime progressed. For this sole reason, it is recommended to watch the Blu-Ray release, which has already been confirmed to have touchups. Despite its dips in animation and art, Banana Fish’s cinematography remains very strong throughout its entire run. Storyboarding is consistently dynamic, and when applicable, framing is done with a certain message in mind. The music composed by Shinichi Osawa, also known by his stage name, Mondo Grosso, while not necessarily memorable, is distinct, stylish, and fitting.
As an adaptation, the anime does a commendable job in keeping the manga’s spirit in spite of its brutally short episode count. MAPPA makes predominantly solid decisions on the material to cut and while the anime loses some of its plot cohesiveness as a result, prioritizing the character moments was the correct call. And in general, the manga is a highly recommended alternative for those interested in the gritty details that the anime had no choice but to leave behind. However, despite the strengths of this production, not all of MAPPA’s adaptational choices enhance the experience. Most notably, the decision to update the original manga’s 1980s setting to modern day in the anime has been baffling. Character designs have been modernized and smartphones have been given to the majority of the cast but the world continues to exude an anachronistic 80s vibe. While this may seem to be a harmless cosmetic overhaul, contemporizing Banana Fish means covering dated topics. This becomes most apparent when the anime delves into political maneuvers that would be more plausible in the Cold War environment that the original manga was written in. And because Banana Fish is a product of its time, the anime, though not always through the fault of MAPPA as Amazon has also mistranslated generic insults into homophobic slurs, contains elements that can be considered tone-deaf in today’s sociopolitical climate. If anything, this adaptation should be treated as if the setting was still in the 1980s as the moderization Banana Fish’s world received are largely superficial and even leads to plot inconsistencies.
With the vast majority of anime released nowadays abiding by successful formulas and character stereotypes, Banana Fish stands out as one of the rare few that is unafraid to take risks. Its brashness in that regard will inevitably land itself many criticisms but hidden beneath its rough exterior is a gem worth digging for. It touches upon heavy subjects without sensationalizing or sugarcoating their brutality and its grounded approach makes it a unique work that is more reminiscent of old Western action films and television than that of anime. It shows us the truly wretched sides of humanity but also reminds us of the hope and love individuals all possess while expertly invoking an array of emotions. From start to finish, it is a hauntingly real depiction of the very essence of being human. And despite the flaws in its story and adaptation, it leaves much to ruminate about. It is a deceptively simple story that can become complex in the themes it explores and the topics it leaves its viewers to ponder. Even the series’ namesake, derived from the short story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” by J.D. Salinger, and references to other American literature in the form of episode titles or overt mentions offer food for thought. Banana Fish is far from perfect, but at its core, it is an unforgettable rollercoaster of relentless action and raw emotion. The manga broke genre barriers over thirty-years ago and while the anime regrettably does not retain all the qualities that made the manga as groundbreaking as it was, it does deliver its own one of a kind experience with much of the same heart. There really is no other anime like Banana Fish. And it is one no one should miss.*
*Disclaimer: but only if you can stomach the long list of heavy content this show has
Now I have to admit, I’m not too familiar with Akimi Yoshida’s work or her style of writing. The only other series I’ve read by her is a manga called “Yasha”. It has no relation to this series but the artwork is distinctive with her work. Not to mention, her series evokes a sense of mystery that’s present in Banana Fish. Yet, just what exactly is Banana Fish?
To be clear, the original manga was published from 1985 to 1994. This adaptation serves as a celebration of her 40th anniversary. It’s also somewhat unusual that Noitamina adapted this into 24 episodes rather than their usual 11/22 format. Regardless, Banana Fish strikes to me as a refreshing experience. First impressions are important and this show accomplishes that with the aesthetic story setting. It shows New York in a crime driven state and conflicts dealing with mature content. It’s also interesting to note that the series has a more modern feel compared to the 1980s. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
A main appealing factor that drew me into the show is the character relationship and development. We meet Ash Lynx, a snarky young man who ran away from home. Despite his not-so-friendly attitude, Ash has charisma that makes him a person not to be underestimated. He also possesses a variety of skills that puts him on the wrong sides of the law. Being incredibly daring and never afraid to take risks, Ash stands by example as a daredevil. It’s almost if he anticipates his death at any moment and isn’t afraid to risk it for what he believes in. This puts him on the opposite side of Eiji Okumura, a photographer’s assistant and college student. Unlike Ash, Eiji is a kind young man but often easily manipulated or gets caught into complicated circumstances. The story goes to show his character relationship with Ash. Now I’m just going to throw it out there but there’s heavy implication of BL context between the two. While not being too explicit, it’s shown that Eiji develops a growing love towards Ash. On the other hand, Ash shows his own devotion with action that speaks louder than words. Ash’s acts of self-sacrifice becomes a central part of their relationship as he takes on many risks to save his life. The story often involves with Ash’s enemies exploiting his weakness and that would be Eiji.
Still, the million dollar question remains. What exactly is Banana Fish? To be clear, the title itself isn’t necessarily just about what Banana Fish really is. Rather, it’s a pivotal component of the plot that has Ash investigate into. In essence, Banana Fish delivers a sensation of mystery and suspense. The main premise focuses on how Ash’s fight against the mafia in this rebellious age. Crime lords like Dino Glozine is the stereotypical antagonist you’ll quickly love to hate. I don’t mean that in the sense of him being a distasteful human being. Rather, Ash has a personal agenda to settle with him considering their dark history together. The series isn’t shy to deliver mature context in the form of drug deals, criminal activities, sex slavery, or gang wars. If you’re here to stay for the show, then be ready suck it up and indulge on these controversial topics. In the meantime, we also meet allies that Ash meets in his quest of vengeance. Characters such as Ibe, Max, Griffin, Alexis, and Jessica join to fight the good fight. In many cases, their roles all are important for the overall mission. On the other hand, their most prominent adversary is Corsican Mafia consisting of Dino and his crew. Deep down, this anime crafts these antagonists with intentions to destroy Ash’s life. It becomes a crime thriller that often tests the limits of the main characters and how much longer they can last. Later in the show, we also meet other dangerous groups such as the Chinese mafia. Among their members includes the cunning Yut-Lung Lee who wants Ash’s head on a plate.
At its core, Banana Fish shows that in their society, crime is more than just a social problem. In our society, criminal activities are not tolerated and punishable. In the world of Banana Fish, characters believe they are above the law. Some even believe they are the law. Let’s take a closer look at Ash for instance. Having being raised by Dino, it’s clear that he has a dark past that’s explored more and more as each episode progresses. While I don’t consider Ash to be a villain, there’s no doubt that he has committed questionable acts. As this show takes place during a period of gang warfare, Ash stands out as more of an antihero to me than a protagonist. And of course, the man who raised him wants nothing more than to destroy Ash. I think in many cases, Dino wants to destroy Ash’s soul rather than just his life. It’s a fate perhaps worse than death and just one of the few examples of how cruel characters can really be. Indeed, Banana Fish contains mature content that isn’t suited for a younger audience. Going back to what I said before, Noitamina’s audience expands beyond than just a general audience and Banana Fish is an example of that.
Adapting a manga from over two decades ago isn’t an easy task. Manga being resurrected again after all this year tends to lose steam but I can say with supreme confidence that Banana Fish hits the marks. It manages to recreate a sensation of the 1980s while the anime takes place in a more modern setting. Rather than going with any flashy style of presentation, it commits to bring the manga’s characters up to date. Characters such as Ash and Eiji are designed to look exactly how their personalities are meant to be. Gang wars and violence are showcased without holding back with the intense bloodshed. There’s also some daring scenes of man service present that may be nerve wrecking or pleasing to watch. As I mentioned before, there are cases of gay moments although it’s not distracting to the point of losing its main focus. Watch this series and you’ll see that it’s more than just a homosexual relationship between two men. In addition, I have to give some well-earned praise to the voice acting in the show. These characters are older than your typical high school students and crime lords like Dino isn’t easy to portray. Yet, they all looked pretty damn believable in such a time period.
Banana Fish is a show with a peculiar title that could probably be quoted often. It’s Akimi Yoshida’s most well-known work and MAPPA manages to produce such a series with commitment. Director Hiroko Utsumi worked on Free! in the past so it’s no surprise that you’ll see some man service along the way. But really, Banana Fish isn’t just about a gay romance story between two guys. It celebrates the chance to showcase a crime story in a setting of corruption, revenge, and politics. Now it’s your chance to experience that story.
“He very definitely told your father there’s a chance – a very great chance, he said – that Seymour may completely lose control of himself.” – J.D. Salinger.
A soldier’s life is one of hardships. Seen as the pride of a nation, they are tasked with defending the honour of their motherland with both flesh and blood. A life that requires chivalry, discipline and steadfastness. Their existence serves as a beacon light to the tame and cowardly; a source of inspiration for the youth to grow strong. But underneath all the glory and medallions reveal a darker tale more telling of their lives. Ordinary people before donning a uniform and sent off to war, a life of violence and suffering entails them. A hellish nightmare seeming to never end makes it near impossible to return to their former self. One must be physically and mentally tough to ever hope to survive such a turbulent time, but not everyone is capable of carrying that weight.
J.D. Salinger was one writer who certainly understood the pressures put upon people in severe circumstances such as war, through first-hand experience being drafted into the US army in 1942, even being hospitalized by ‘combat stress reaction’ months after Germany was defeated in World War II. He was clearly affected, going so far as stating “[he] found it impossible to fit into a society that ignored the truth that he now knew.” These events all informed his writing of the short story titled “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”. While numerous interpretations of the story do exist, the common belief is that it symbolizes those soldiers sent off to war and came back traumatized; gorged by the anguish brought on from war and stained of bloodshed. Decades later this short story would be loosely referenced to in the successful shoujo manga series Banana Fish, written and illustrated by Akimi Yoshida that would later be considered highly influential to the BL subgenre. And now over 20 years since the manga’s initial release, Banana Fish received an anime adaptation produced courtesy by Studio MAPPA to run for 24 episodes in the latter half of 2018.
Banana Fish focuses on the relationship between Ash Lynx, a cold ruthless teenage gang leader in New York City, and a naïve assistant photographer from Japan in Eiji Okumura. Both men, despite appearing as polar opposites in personality and upbringing end up being caught in a fallout over an entity known as “Banana Fish”, that also happens to be related to Ash’s brother and what occurred on his stint in Iraq. The pursuit of this mystery further pulls Eiji to the centre of this conflict, thereby leading to Ash pushing against the wishes of his bosses and gang members who put the safety of his newfound friend in jeopardy. It would be easy to summarize the story as simply a developing romance between two men, but the series is more concerned in making the story and overarching weight of it at the forefront of the tale, causing the narrative, despite being heavily reliant on genre tropes, to work effectively as a fast-paced charming thriller. The series uses heavy topics regarding drugs, sexual abuse, corruption and other mature themes to craft a careful drama that avoids sensationalizing the sheer brutality inherent with such subject matter. Likewise, these ideas further accentuate the thematic correlation between Salinger’s “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” and this loosely inspired adaptation.
No other character is as carefully crafted nor developed to the same degree as the main protagonist Ash Lynx. His backstory alone would be enough to garner the sympathy of many: a boy who ran away from home at 8 years old only to be taken into custody by the head of the Mafia. Having been kidnapped as a sex slave numerous times later before being granted leadership of a street gang years later, he has seen his fair share of violence and trauma. Part of his likability derives from him never seeing himself as a victim and therefore is able to overcome adversity. However, his meeting of Eiji is what ultimately acts as the cause for Ash to slowly reveal himself emotionally and properly recover from trauma accumulated throughout the years. His character easily parallels that of Salinger’s protagonist, as someone who has been exposed to so much that the idea of recovering from it all is improbable. Both of these characters take a liking to their more innocent counterparts, seeing in them what they once had but now have lost for reasons that were outside of their control. Clinging to that one person in the hope to keep them sane, and in the case of Banana Fish, no matter how the world might see Ash, Eiji will remain by his side. But similarly to Salinger’s short tale, it may not be enough to help Ash change to a more civil lifestyle.
Despite the original manga being set in the 1980’s, Studio MAPPA decided to move the setting to a more modern time and as such caused various changes to the anime that deviate from the original source. Some of the most obvious examples include using character designs typical of the current animation standards rather that the original’s well-defined character models, and the implementation of technology such as smartphones used by the majority of the cast. These changes, whilst they may come off slightly off-putting are fairly harmless in the grand scheme of things. Although when it comes to contemporizing the story and its themes, there are numerous issues that arise. For example, by revising the setting to present day, many of the topics covered can be considered outdated and requires a certain suspension of disbelief not to lose any immersion the viewer has with the world established. This take also renders most of the social commentary the original story had as nearly obsolete, which was one of the aspects that made the manga so important for its time. It’s something that most viewers probably wouldn’t have a problem with, as it still remains a piece of fiction that can be enjoyed without social context. But for those that want to look at this show deeper that the ordinary fan, it’s an issue that can easily cause disappointment amongst certain anime fans.
Another key issue that I personally had throughout watching was how many elements regarding the plot and characters slowly become narrowed as the series continues. Allow me to elaborate; the beginning of this show was really appealing, not only on a visual level with how vibrant the settings were and the distinct designs on display, but with how many different moving parts there were to the plotline. From the main characters, to the supporting gang members, to the various villains, to everyone else involved, each of these groups felt like their own intricate parts to the storyline and had the potential to create something truly special. But as the plot continues, it becomes apparent that the storyline is only meant to focus on the relationship between Ash and Eiji. This is not necessarily a bad thing – Banana Fish revolves around this in particular. But I can’t help but feel disappointed when a show with so many moving parts to begin with are funnelled out to prioritize all the screen time on the core plotline. Especially if comparing the anime to the manga, which gave more balanced attention to the large cast of characters intertwined. The villains all had varying degrees of depth but none of which I would honestly call complex, most characters not associated with a gang are shafted halfway through the anime and the gang members that are fleshed out are always given time and focus corresponding to their relationship with Ash. This is not a severe knock against the show, but I can’t help it when I see a series like Banana Fish have so much potential and not seriously capitalize upon it.
The visuals for Banana Fish are a solid outing for Studio MAPPA. While I have my personal preference for character designs, the animation present here is energetic in how it depicts character movements and expressions, as well as providing the audience with some very exciting action scenes. The dynamic colour palette and background art are both visually appealing that while some might consider it detrimental to the tone of the show, I believe do better to initially attract anime fans to the series in general, acting as a pleasant treat for the eyes at first glance. The framing of the most controversial events that took place in Banana Fish was also commendable in giving the series a good sense of artistry.
The audio for Banana Fish is also praiseworthy with strong performances for voice acting overall, really capturing the essence of each main character. The soundtrack also fits most scenes well despite none particularly standing out, except for the OP and ED tracks which is just simply fun to listen to. No matter what your music taste, these tracks are pretty accessible and make for fun openers to each episode. The translations however could definitely act as a detriment to the series as a whole depending on your take of the sensitive topics covered in Banana Fish. Personally I found it funny when Ash calls a separate character a “fag” in the translation considering what the series is about, but some could easily take such as a homophobic slur and the anime as a whole as tone-deaf. Just be careful what you’re getting yourself into, k? 🙂
Looking back on Banana Fish, I see a series with a lot of upside to it. A carefully handled crime drama, innovative for its time, critically acclaimed source material, etc. And despite having my own criticisms against the series I would still recommend this to anyone interested in the series at all. Despite creative liberties it is at its core a well-made drama with emotionally powerful moments that are likely to entrance you in a tale barely brought to light by anime. There may be homoerotic undertones present, but the series was not made solely for such. Instead it clearly values a strong appreciation for storytelling, for that is how people from all different backgrounds are able to relate to what is told here at a fundamental level.
4: Sora yori mo Tooi Basho
English: A Place Further Than The Universe
MAL Score: 8.55
Filled with an overwhelming sense of wonder for the world around her, Mari Tamaki has always dreamt of what lies beyond the reaches of the universe. However, despite harboring such large aspirations on the inside, her fear of the unknown and anxiety over her own possible limitations have always held her back from chasing them. But now, in her second year of high school, Mari is more determined than ever to not let any more of her youth go to waste. Still, her fear continues to prevent her from taking that ambitious step forward—that is, until she has a chance encounter with a girl who has grand dreams of her own.
Spurred by her mother’s disappearance, Shirase Kobuchizawa has been working hard to fund her trip to Antarctica. Despite facing doubt and ridicule from virtually everyone, Shirase is determined to embark on this expedition to search for her mother in a place further than the universe itself. Inspired by Shirase’s resolve, Mari jumps at the chance to join her. Soon, their efforts attract the attention of the bubbly Hinata Miyake, who is eager to stand out, and Yuzuki Shiraishi, a polite girl from a high class background. Together, they set sail toward the frozen south.
Sora yori mo Tooi Basho follows the captivating journey of four spirited girls, all in search of something great.
The problem that I have with this season that many of the shows are nothing more style over substance meme feasts.
A1+ Trigger mecha show Darling in the Franxx is the worst example of this because not only in my opinion bad at storytelling it also allowed the memes and reference to older shows to take over the actual story to a point where you’re literally only watching it for the memes instead of a story and characters. However out of all the anime from the Winter 18 season, A Place Further than the Universe quietly became a big hit and unlike any other new show from this season, it was actually good.
So good to a point where every other anime from winter 18 that is not a squeal or a leftover look mediocre by comparison.
Okay, there was Yuru Camp (Which I haven’t seen yet) and cleverly cute Skilled Teaser Takagi San which are great shows on their own right but they pale in comparison to this.
Anyway, what made this show so special?
How did this show become so great that it outclassed ever other anime from the season?
Let’s find out.
The story of A Place Further than the Universe follows a high school student name Mari Tamaki who want to make the most of her youth, but she is afraid to do it. One day she encounters a girl named Shirase Kobuchizawa who has been saving up, so she can travel to Antarctica to find her missing mother. Together with two other girls Hinata and Yuzuki, they join an expedition headed towards the Antarctic.
On the surface, A Place Further than the Universe looks like your typical cute girl doing cute things type of show but as the show progresses the show becomes so much more to a point where it deviated from the whole cute girls doing cute things route where it becomes more complex. Add to the fact the pacing the show was brilliant throughout its own as well having great writing, worldbuilding and great themes exploration and got one hell of an amazing series.
One thing that I love about the show is how adventurous it is. Seriously every time you watch an episode of this show you always feel like your actually going on an adventure with the four main girls.
The characters in A Place Further than the Universe were fantastic.
The main girls are very well written as well as having complex backstories that were believable and well told to the viewer.
The character interactions for the four main girls were outstanding as each girl delivers great and charming interactions with each other plus the way the four main girls react to comedic and emotional moments were outstanding to a point where they actually felt like real high school girls.
I honestly have nothing more to say about the characters here since they are all awesome and well written in their own ways.
Honestly, do I really need to say it? It’s freaking Madhouse, and they are known for making anime with amazing production and this show is no different.
The character designs were well drawn as being very adorable to look at on-screen.
The one thing that I adore about the anime is the visual directing, in fact. The visual directing is good it overwhelms the great writing of the story that is honestly very impressive.
For example in the first couple of minutes of episode 1, the show establishes the main character Mari who is an adventurous girl even though she never went for an adventure herself in her whole life however as she finally decided to take the first step towards her adventure of we get some use existent swelling music, however, the train leaves the station and we see Mari standing there. If this was a regular anime, the music would have ended here, however, the music kept playing which was the more emotionally effective choice.
It doesn’t stop there in the couple of scenes we see Mari still being adventurous even though she can’t act it out.
The next shot showcases Mari shoes being wet and that shot alone perfectly symbolize the real world the reality of leaving the school and going on this adventure was being actually more complex then she thought at first. There are more great symbolism and visuals in this but this was one of the best examples of this show amazing visual directing.
Overall visuals in A Place Further than the Universe are a masterpiece of art thanks to great directing and stunning visuals.
The soundtrack is honestly beautiful. It is filled with life, adventure as well-being very emotional.
Yoshiaki Fujisawa did a great job with the soundtrack adding more emotional impact to the series.
The opening theme Alright by Saya is a great opening theme that captures the adventurous tone of the series. It’s also very catchy.
The ending theme Koko kara, Koko kara sung by the voice actors for the 4 main girls is an awesome ending theme that I adore to no end. Even more than the opening theme.
As off now A Place Further than the Universe hasn’t got an English which is honestly sad because I really wanted Funimation to do a simuldub with this hidden gem but no we cannot always have nice things because Funimation rather simuldub a broken show like Hakyu Hoshin Engi.
Oh well least with got the Japanese audio which was amazing as every Seiyuu did a great job with the roles especially with the four main girls.
What an amazing emotional and fun ride this was.
This show was honestly a blessing to the winter 18 anime season from mediocrity hell.
The story was amazing filled with great writing, world-building, themes, and pacing. The characters were wonderful and developed, the visuals were brilliant, and the soundtrack and voice acting were great.
I honestly never expected this show to dominate the whole winter 18 season and am glad it did because the show is a perfect example of how to make a good modern anime.
I hope this show gets an English dub someday as well getting licensed by an anime distribution company so we can get a Blu-Ray release for this hidden gem show.
If you want to watch a great slice of life/adventure show then I strongly recommend checking out A Place Further than the Universe.
You won’t regret it.
//I just wanted to say that this is my first ever review on MAL and I really felt the urge to discuss the greatness of this Anime.//
//Spoiler Free (As much as possible)//
Never judge a book by its cover. It’s something I’m trying to get over because this happens most of the time, we judge everything based on first impressions. My initial judgment of the cover was my greatest downfall because it just looked like a Moe/Slice of Life anime, which was a genre I never understood/appreciated up until now. I judged it, so much so that I didn’t even read the title, “A Place Further Than The Universe”, which certainly does sound like an interesting adventure anime title. Oh was I wrong! Well, not entirely because this WAS a fun Slice of Life Anime with high school girls doing EXTREMELY fun things. Like going to Antarctica.
The story starts off with four high school girls who are total strangers and have problems that are related to one another. In the first few episodes, these problems were presented and used to connect these characters together, to build a friendship based on related problems, and to have an end goal of going to Antarctica, which satisfied all of their problems in the end. I won’t be diving into these problems in the story aspect of Yorimoi but rather, the characters aspect. During the journey of preparing and going to Antarctica, they’re faced with many problems in between that are usually resolved within each episode, but in the end, it creates the atmosphere of resolution and serves to strengthen their friendship. When the girls finally arrive in Antarctica, they were able to experience “A Place Further Than The Universe”, an entirely new experience, the things they’ve learned for the first time, seeing the distinctive scenery, creating and experiencing friendship throughout a journey. You feel like you’re experiencing the journey and feeling their emotions with them.
Overall, the story is very unique, emotional, and adventurous to the max! I feel that adventure animes are either being buried by shonen animes or we just don’t see enough adventure animes that can make you feel some type of way, the way this anime makes me feel, relatable and connected to the characters.
Honestly, nothing too much to say about the visuals except that it is phenomenal. I mean, it’s Studio Madhouse. They never cease to amaze me with the direction of their animes, including their art and music, which were always perfectly timed for an epic experience. Most of my, and probably a lot others’, favorite anime are produced by Studio Madhouse. After finishing the series, I saw in some forums and comments that the Syowa Station was actually a real thing and was linked to google maps, where I was able to view a 3D image of Showa Station and their ship, Icebreaker Shirase, in real life and they were strikingly similar. The visuals of Antarctica was definitely something new for us anime viewers since we don’t see a lot of animes take place in Antarctica. Overall, beautiful.
Although the soundtrack wasn’t anything special, I believe the direction of the OST was what made the sound as impactful as it was throughout Yorimoi. At first, I didn’t find the opening, “The Girls Are Alright”, to be anything special. As time went on though, I found it ‘Alright’ then started to find it catchy and by the end, I felt something every time this OP played. Now every time I listen to this OP, I feel happy and remember the great experience I had with Yorimoi, it’s very connecting. The ED was always emotional for me and I feel it is largely due to the fact it is sung by the four main characters. Also, each, if not most, episodes end with a happy, resolved ending and when the ED comes up, it just hits you hard in the feels. As for the OST, the great timing of the legendary OST at the right time—Legendary. Every time an emotional scene comes up, the sad music makes it way more emotional. When they’re enjoying their time with each other or a problem is resolved, the happy and inspirational OST kicks in. Every time this happened, I was on the brink of shedding so many tears. Actually, many tears were shedded ;_;. Overall, I think the soundtrack and the timing were extremely essential to my Yorimoi experience.
Characters (10/10): //Might be spoiler-ish//
I’m going to start off by saying that all four of the main characters are very relatable. Their problems are of what regular people would have. The first girl that shows first screen time was Tamaki Mari. She’s a typical high school student who has a typical problem: wanting to make the most of her youth but doesn’t act upon their wants. She feels as if she hasn’t done anything impactful in her life and now that she is in high school, Mari feels must do something before its too late but she is indecisive. Relatable. Kobuchizawa Shirase. Shirase was initially the one to want to travel to Antarctica, in hopes to find her Mother and say “In your faces!” to all the haters who told her it was impossible for a high school girl to travel to Antarctica. All in all, she is the type that doesn’t like to give up, stubborn but is very passionate. Miyake Hinata, the third girl, caught wind of Mari and Shirase’s trip to Antarctica and asked if she could join their journey. Out of all of the characters, she was the most confusing for me, I’m not sure why. However, her problem was that she was essentially thrown under the bus by her friends at school so she quit school, wanting to be alone, and started working at a convenient store. The last girl, Shiraishi Yuzuki, is an idol who doesn’t have real friends, due to the overload of work as an idol, leading her to not understand friendship. They all first come together with a similar problem: Antarctica. Yuzu is being forced to go but Mari, Shirase, and Hinata, who wants to go, cannot. The girls find a way that satisfies their problems and end up going together on this beautiful journey. As the story goes on, each of their problems is slowly being resolved and their friendship becoming stronger as they help each other through tough situations. Overall, the characters are loveable and quite relatable. They all have different problems that they work out in the end. Beautiful.
Yorimoi was such a great adventure and had such a blast experiencing their journey to Antarctica. It showed how the characters had many problems when experiencing something new, something totally different, and how they learned from it and overcome the many problems they experience throughout the process. But in the end, after all these problems, these hardships, they build friendship. They have fun, they experience something new, something memorable that they can look back to just like how we would look back to Yorimoi and think: “Wow, I would love to have my own adventure with people I enjoy being with”. This taught me, through Mari’s eyes, that if you want to do something, if you want to make the most of your youth, act now. Do something extreme. Something you don’t do, either from fear, laziness, or time. Like adventuring. Like Antarctica.
Overall, 9.6. Such a great anime that I wanted to write my first review on. I hope you enjoyed reading this review and are going to watch it right now if you haven’t already. Like RIGHT NOW! I look forward to doing more reviews on great animes like Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho!!
A Place Further Than the Universe was a show I almost skipped out on. I was just starting to get into seasonal anime for the first time. As I perused through the Winter 2018 anime list, I noticed this show. At first, I was going to pass on it, as like most others, it just seemed like an average cute girls slice of life show. But I noticed a little something about it that intrigued me to no end, the promise of an adventure to Antarctica. So I went with my gut, and gave it a shot. This gut feeling turned into total joy at this amazing sleeper hit I had found.
A Place Further Than the Universe (Sora Yori mo Tooi Basho), or Yorimoi, as I will now be calling it, is about 4 girls who decide to go on a nice little trip. And where else would a couple of high school girls rather go than the icy, unforgiving continent of Antarctica? It sounds out of nowhere and downright crazy, doesn’t it? Well, the show soon establishes why each girl wants to go to Antarctica and goes out of its way to show people that it isn’t an impossible dream. I’m going to be honest here, this is absolutely my favorite story told in a slice of life series. The sense of adventure is unlike any series I have ever seen besides the likes of One Piece. It adds so much charm to the narrative, which you can’t find in a lot of series. Not to mention, Yorimoi perfectly balances comedy and emotional moments. The jokes can end up hitting so well, I’m left crying of laughter at the show. But the same goes for the emotional moments, where when they hit, I’m left feeling hopeless and stunned. The show provides us a masterfully interwoven plot, and one I will be praising for years to come.
Madhouse knocked this one out of the park. Yorimoi is absolutely gorgeous. So many amazing directing decisions went into play here. The utterly beautiful, detailed backgrounds, the interesting and varied shots, and the subtleties and fluidity of the animation all make this a treat for the eyes. One of the most visually stunning shows I’ve laid my eyes on. Atsuko Ishizuka (the director of Yorimoi) went all out on this and it really shows in the final product.
The weakest area of Yorimoi but it is by no means bad. The OP “The Girls are Alright!” and ED “Koko Kara” are very memorable (partially due to the visuals). The insert songs, especially “One Step” are quite nice as well. The OST is fine, its nice and peppy, but really nothing to write home about. One may also argue the insert songs are intrusive to the show after a while. I disagree with this statement, as I believe it added to the emotion of the scenes, but if said person got tired of the songs, I could see it having a negative affect. The voice acting on the other hand, is great, with each performance fitting the characters to a tee (my favorite being Kana Hanazawa’s performance of Shirase. Overall, pretty good on the sound department, but not too much to write home about.
One of the main draws to Yorimoi, its fantastic characters. While I don’t think its cast is as godlike as something like K-On, it still has one of the best casts I’ve seen in anime. They all work off each other fantastically. This is mainly because they feel real. Their conversations are the same things that you could easily see real high school girls having. They laugh together and they cry together, but never are their unique and distinct personalities compromised throughout this. Let’s go over each one of the 4 main girls:
Mari Tamaki: The (debatable) protagonist of Yorimoi. Mari (or Kimari, as she’s called) is very vibrant and energetic. Yet, she finds herself feel like she’s wasting her high school years away, doing nothing special with her life. This is why she sets out to go to Antarctica with Shirase after they have their chance encounter. I find Kimari’s reasoning to be the most relatable, as I personally don’t want to go throughout my life doing nothing interesting. Overall, Kimari is a very likable protagonist, but probably the least interesting of the 4 main girls.
Shirase Kobuchizawa: My favorite character in Yorimoi and currently sits comfortably as my 8th favorite character in all of anime/manga. Shirase is quite shy around others, but when with friends, she shows her true colors and opens up as a fun-loving, wild person. She is the one who sets the story into motion, as she is the first of the girls who decides to go to Antarctica. This all stems from her mother, Takako who leaves for Antarctica when she is young, only to disappear and never return. Shirase is determined to go see what drew her mother to Antarctica, and experience what she experienced for herself. Shirase is my favorite as she easily has the most depth of the four. She’s unpredictable, crazy and funny, but also quiet and emotional and that’s what makes her so damn enjoyable to watch.
Hinata Miyake: Between Hinata and Shirase, its hard to pick favorites, but I think I prefer Shirase ever so slightly. This is not to discredit Hinata though, she is still fantastic. She’s vibrant, peppy and acts as the comedic relief for the most part. She joins on this Antarctica expedition on a spur, just because it’d seem fun to her. You think she’d just be the funny character, with little to no depth to her. I thought this for a little while too, but slowly, we learn more about her and her past, and see how many layers there really are to her. We see her struggle with her loneliness from getting outcasted from school. We feel the pain she is going through. We understand her, and that’s ultimately what made her character succeed for me Hinata is definitely the character who grows the most throughout this journey, and for this unexpected depth, I will forever appreciate her character.
Yuzuki Shiraishi: Yuzuki is the most introverted of the gang. She is very shy and it takes a while for her to open up to the other 3. She journeys to Antarctica out of the desire to make real friends and forge real relationships for the first time in her life. Since she was young, Yuzuki has been a celebrity, making her a very busy person. This led to her not having the time to making friends, and even when she did, she never had the time to hang out with any of them, slowly killing thew few relationships she had. Her story really hits home, despite it not being relatable to me personally. I ended up really feeling for her. She got the happy ending she deserved.
That does it for the main characters, but the side cast is also pretty great too. Megumi (Megu) is a longtime friend to our main character, Kimari. She starts out as this boring, uninteresting character, but over time, her true intentions are revealed and you end up sympathizing with her. She just wanted someone to keep by their side and grow up with together, and that’s not really such a bad thing is it? Gin Todo is one of the people who was on the Antarctica expedition where Takako (Shirase’s mother) disappeared. Due to this, she has fantastic interactions with Shirase, and they slowly develop a bond, despite everything in the past that had happened. This is on top of all the fantastic backstory she adds to the show.
Overall, this cast is brilliant, with god-tier interactions, both comedically and emotionally, and is probably the best part of Yorimoi.
I enjoyed this series from Episode 1 all the way to the finale. It never failed to surprise me every episode at its sheer quality and ability to consistently improve each time, whether it be through its wonderful characters, fantastic direction or breathtaking art. Captivating just begins to describe it.
A Place Further Than the Universe is an anime for anyone. Anyone can appreciate its complex characters. Anyone can acknowledge the beautiful animation and direction in it. Anyone can see the love and care put into this. Yorimoi is an inpsiring tale, that has helped to convince me that no dream is impossible (within the plausibility of reality). If you want to do something in your life, GO FOR IT. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from reaching your goals. This is a story I won’t forget for the rest of my life, I’m sure of it.
3: Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3
English: Attack on Titan Season 3
Japanese: 進撃の巨人 Season3
MAL Score: 8.62
Still threatened by the “Titans” that rob them of their freedom, mankind remains caged inside the two remaining walls. Efforts to eradicate these monsters continue; however, threats arise not only from the Titans beyond the walls, but from the humans within them as well.
After being rescued from the Colossal and Armored Titans, Eren Yaeger devotes himself to improving his Titan form. Krista Lenz struggles to accept the loss of her friend, Captain Levi chooses Eren and his friends to form his new personal squad, and Commander Erwin Smith recovers from his injuries. All seems well for the soldiers, until the government suddenly demands custody of Eren and Krista. The Survey Corps’ recent successes have drawn attention, and a familiar face from Levi’s past is sent to collect the wanted soldiers. Sought after by the government, Levi and his new squad must evade their adversaries in hopes of keeping Eren and Krista safe.
In Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3, Eren and his fellow soldiers are not only fighting for their survival against the terrifying Titans, but also against the terror of a far more conniving foe: humans.
Coming into Attack on Titan season 3 I was slightly nervous because I heard that this season was going to be more focused on Human vs Human, but by the second episode all my doubts had been relieved and thought It was the greatest shit ever.
Visuals and Animation – 10+
Out of nowhere Studio Wit upped the quality of the production values to a point I didn’t was possible in a TV anime. The Levi vs Kenny Squad sequence in episode 2 had some of the best Sakuga and animation I had ever seen All of anime, let alone TV anime. The amount of shit going on in that scene literally just made my brain go like, “what the fuck that just happened.” Not only did the animation improve but also the art quality improved. In some scenes I was just in awe of how Wit Studio crafted the world of attack on titan so beautifully.
The only thing I had a slight issue with was some of the CGI cuts. The rod titan was done pretty well but some CGI cuts were not pretty. I Also liked how they designed the crystal basement, thought it looked nice.
Sound & Music -10+
Hiroyuki Sawano, the man, the myth, the legend. This dude has composed almost everyone of my favorite soundtracks and is always consistent. Some uneducated people might say all his work is too similar, but guess what? Who tf cares if it is similar all his music amazing and on top of that Attack on titan has in my opinion the best soundtrack in anime EVER. PERIOD. Everyone song in attack on titan sets the mood and tone perfectly and can strike a range of emotions, whether it be sad,inspiring,hype,heartwarming,scary, or nervous every emotions can be felt. Also the last scene when they played the scouts theme and Erwin was getting the scouts and the people hype was fucking heart pounding and gave me goosebumps.
Not only is the soundtrack good but the voice acting and sound effects are excellent as well. Dub and Sub both do a great job.
Characters – 9
Eren- had some pretty good development learning that he is not special and developed some chemistry with historia and became overall more mature, only issue I had was he sometimes got a little over dramatic and the stretch of episodes where he wanted to be eaten and was called constantly crying got a little old. Though even did come up clutch with that crystallization power and was badass when he through the barrels in rod titans mouth
Levi- We get some much needed depth on Levi’s backstory and see how his mom died and was a prostitute, how he lived with Kenny and when Kenny died how he really showed sadness that his father figure died. Also we get to see how fucking badass he is taking out every mf in his path. He went off against Kenny Squad twice and even injured Kenny. But that chase sequence was something else and just shows us how super human Levi is. Also the scene at the end where he is threatening to break Erwin’s legs so he can’t go on the mission shows how much he cares for Erwin and doesn’t want to see his friend dead, but at the same time when Erwin reveals that he values going on the mission to retake Wall Maria more than humanities victory Levi has to respect Erwin’s dream and let him continue. Also we see how Levi has to mentor the new Levi squad – Connie, Eren, Mikasa, Jean, Sasha, and Armin, to kill other humans and hardens them as shown when the new recruits see that there faces have changed.
Historia – she gets a lot of development in this season, first we see her backstory how her mom was rod reiss’ mistress and didn’t care for her in the slightest. We also see her develop a relationship with Freda, who she remembers when rod shows her the erased memories through his magic bloodline power. Historia for the first half of the season is manipulated by rod who wants her to become a titan so he can get off on his God fantasy. Historia who is blinded by the memory of Freda blindly follows and at the last second changes her mind and breaks the syringe and flips Rod. This a huge development because historia is finally taking control of her own destiny and doing what she feels is right. When historia was made queen I thought it was going to be weird but AOT pulled it off and Historia gets her huge payoff when she cuts ties with Rod completely by cutting the last piece of him, thus ending his life and breaking historia completely free of her past. Also Historia gets closer with eren and Mikasa catches wind of this in episode eleven when she gives Eren the Death Stare.
Erwin – Uh oh, the Erwin death flags are high after episode twelve, with Levi showing concern for his safety on the mission to retake Wall Maria. Moving on, Erwin starts of this arc being arrested for murder he didn’t commit and having dramatic conversations with pixus and Nile.
He then comes up with a badass plan to fake a titan invasion and turns the table on the aristocratics running the government, who panic and want to quarantine Wall rose. This doesn’t sit well with pixus or Nile so they overthrow the government and head for eren. We also see Erwin’s backstory and how his father was killed because he found out too much about the world and that drives Erwin to uncover the truth of the titans and the world. Finally, Erwin gets the send off he deserves rallying the crowd and the soldiers.
Mikasa- she doesn’t really get that much focus into her character but does have some pretty cool fight scenes but we do see her mood improve when eren goes back to his normal scrappy self when he fights jean.
Armin- in ep 2 armin gets his first human kill and gets emotional about it, he starts to show maturity and is more useful to the scouts also he cross dresses and gets felt up which was weird, reminds Eren about dream to go she the sea
Jean, Connie, and Sasha – we get see just how More mature they become when in the first battle vs Kenny squad they are indecisive and nervous and then in the second fight they just straight up murder people from the Kenny squad. When I saw my boy Jean slice that dudes neck and Connie also kill someone I was like “fuck they really out here killing people.” Also that scene when they are hype for the send off was pretty funny
Kenny – personality was super unique and he was a really cool character his fights with Levi were pretty hype and the whole gunman style of him in his squad was really dope. His death was pretty sad and the story of how he came to live with Levi was well done only issue I have with him is he died before his character was completely fleshed out.
Plot – 9.5
Finally the PLOT! I appreciated the change in direction and commitment to focusing on character development rather than Titans. Although I did think the bloodline power thing was sorta whack the story was overall good. All though I am pissed that series is taking a break because I was hype to see them retake Wall Maria but whatever.
Half of the season is practically a collection of cliche action scenes. People teleport from the sky to save the day, others swing in the sky with spider-man gears, evil people sit on the face of someone just to prove that they indeed evil, Levi declares he is an insane badass by committing an act that distantly resembles the twisting of an arm. So fucked up! I am scared, literally how can man be this insane. Please, no, not the arm.
The other half is practically a parody of politics except the narrative itself doesn’t recognize this lameness as a parody. People with might and power declare a thing, but another thing happens — much like with the teleporting nakama in the action side — other big guys teleport whenever important decisions are supposed to be made. Essentially every part of the politics is so one-dimensional it hurts and serves as an excuse to create more bullshit to fill the story with. These vary from random kidnapping incidents to people thinking one of their nakama dies if they don’t hurry up. I am not sure how exactly am I supposed to be fooled by this when it is clear plot-armors in the series are thicker than the walls itself.
The best part of this show are the supposedly evil people and “our” enemies. Whenever our main squad gets called subhumen or pseudo-soldiers by them, I agree whole-heartedly. The opposing party did nothing wrong when looking down on our plebeian children at arms. Which this show really is all about. Some kids acting like they matter, fighting against titans or being titans or hiding from titans behind walls made of titans. At least the first season was fun to watch because it was a complete disaster and so overboard idiotic. This isn’t even ironically fun anymore. More meaningless events one after another.
This season doesn’t achieve anything. It’s just Eren being chained half the time + farming, characters pondering over some action for half an episode each episode just to see the thing itself never happening. It’s all false tension, all words no reward, no payout. Boring substance that is repetition of the same over and over while the fallacy that something might actually happen being there to fool those who are still buying this. Oh no, titan appears for the 700th millionth time, what a shock, I wonder which one of the two things that ever happen when a titan appear, happens this time around. Literally can’t wait for the next cour.
After only a year, Attack on Titan made its grand return. Given the popularity of the franchise, this was inevitable but the big surprise was how soon it got announced. The first season ran for 2-cour in 2013 while the second season ran for only a single cour in Spring 2017. Yet, here we are with a third season after just one year. As a fan myself, I’m more than pleased to say that the third season continues to live up to its household name. It’s a franchise that truly deserves its acclaim.
Watching the third season will make fans quickly realize the change of mood in the very beginning. In fact, this season may not be what you are used to and will take some time to adapt with. The lack of Titans is evident from the first few episodes. Attack on Titan has been praised in the past before for its great action. Not only does the production quality and rhythm enhance the experience, the show itself always managed to capture the momentum of every battle. Here we are in third season and it takes a step back with the fighting between Titans and humanity. Rather, we have humanity dealing with its own problems – internal issues and political conflicts along with deep secrets that runs in the veins of key characters.
For a long time, we’ve seen the political conflicts inside the walls and government. Coming into the third season had me wondering how much we take a dive into exploring that side. And to my pleasant surprise, this season made a clear point that Titans are not the only enemies in their world. In fact, humans are also part of the problem and our main characters have to find a way to deal with it. For instance, Levi’s Squad faces off against adversaries that challenges them to life-and-death scenarios. Levi also faces a dangerous individual from his past, a man named Kenny. You may have heard him screaming in the promotional video but that scream isn’t just a battle cry. It’s the realization that he has to deal with his own personal demon. It’s not just him either but the realization of actually having to kill humans will test the mental limits of our characters.
As in all of the Attack on Titan seasons so far, we take a look at background storytelling for some of the important characters. From this season, we take a look at Historia, Kenny, Keith, and even a bit of Eren’s mother, Carla. The key selling point is how these characters’ stories connect with the overall plot. It’s imperative that viewers understand them as these stories reveal characters’ motivations and how their actions influences the present. To me, I think Attack on Titan always managed to capture a viewers’ attention through its characterization. The creator wants the audience to understand these characters by both telling and showing. It’s accomplished with important dialogues and actions motivated by a clear set of goals. I can’t really talk exactly the precise details as it would be spoilers but the big picture to realize here is why these characters are created. Attack on Titan Season 3 also made me understand why characters are motivated to do certain things and is an accomplishment not to be overlooked. The amount of psychology and emotions makes the story impactful too even for newer characters like Kenny. In terms of plot elements, the show continues to heighten the mystery. Attack on Titan has been known to create a feeling of suspense and there’s no doubt this season will surprise you.
In the present, main protagonist Eren finds himself in more trouble than just a death sentence. I would say this season made him feel less relevant at first until you realize what’s at stake. Eren’s connection to the past is one of the key mysteries in the show that probably had fans formulate theories all the way back in 2013. Here we are 5 years later and some of that mystery has answers. In the meantime, characters such as Erwin and Pyxis also play important roles with consequences. The plot evolves to become much more complicated than just a war against Titans. It becomes an internal war of complex ideologies. There’s also many revelations that shows how certain characters have connections with each other. And to add on to the cherry on top, we do still get fighting segments for you action junkies.
Season 3 takes a different approach this time but retains its ability to tell a memorable story. It managed to hook me in the beginning once realizing how important character roles are. Through its characterization, it showed me that the show doesn’t need fancy action and cinematics to make a well-polished anime. Sure, that part isn’t entirely absent but is limited compared to the previous seasons. Whether that’s an appeal will be for you to judge. Just do realize that Attack on Titan doesn’t always need people drawing out their blades and sticking it into Titans’ necks.
2: Violet Evergarden
English: Violet Evergarden
Japanese: ヴァイオレット エヴァーガーデン
MAL Score: 8.65
The Great War finally came to an end after four long years of conflict; fractured in two, the continent of Telesis slowly began to flourish once again. Caught up in the bloodshed was Violet Evergarden, a young girl raised for the sole purpose of decimating enemy lines. Hospitalized and maimed in a bloody skirmish during the War’s final leg, she was left with only words from the person she held dearest, but with no understanding of their meaning.
Recovering from her wounds, Violet starts a new life working at CH Postal Services after a falling out with her new intended guardian family. There, she witnesses by pure chance the work of an “Auto Memory Doll,” amanuenses that transcribe people’s thoughts and feelings into words on paper. Moved by the notion, Violet begins work as an Auto Memory Doll, a trade that will take her on an adventure, one that will reshape the lives of her clients and hopefully lead to self-discovery.
But this is not Violet Evergarden I’m describing.
Look beyond the object, beyond the fabric; zoom pass the crystalline glass wall, and suddenly, the true image of my purple prose takes shape. There it is, coming into focus, a JC Penny’s mannequin positioned at the window front of a shopping mall district. The dancing lights, nothing but the cheap glow of neon signs from neighboring competitors adjacent to it. The wondering gazes, nothing but customers with money to spend.
If embellishments for something so minuscule is all you need to be entranced by the item being described, then Violet Evergarden will not bother you. However, if you desire content equally as deserving of the words being used to describe it, then it might benefit you to move on to greener pastures, because like this opening paragraph, so too is the material on display hyper-stylized rendering of a truly insignificant thing. The main difference being the tool; flowery words traded in for audiovisual frontloading. Layered color gradients supplemented in place of proper diction. Lots of icing, very little cake.
But it’s not all a lost cause. VE’s story is one of relation. Or rather, everything surrounding it facilitates sentiments easy to relate to. One that practically writes itself. A person used as an instrument of war attempting to find ways to rekindle their lost humanity. An appointed position that gives opportunities to do just that. A girl disciplined in strict military decorum. A puppet with its strings cut loose, unsure as to what to do with her newfound freedom. She’s a lost child, forgotten by society, forced to start from scratch. A holdover from a wartorn nation whose usefulness is brought to a crossroads. The story ends with the closing of one chapter, as we begin the journey of another. The journey is that of recovery. A journey aided by the guiding hands of someone not there in the flesh. Efforts made from beyond the grave for her betterment. One that will serve as her driving force towards improvement as well as the source of her grief as she draws closer to the answers she seeks.
Through her, we’re introduced to this world. One made up like a quilt of different time periods and cultural influences, all stitched together to create something new. Victorian-era structures serve as the city skyline while the undeniable look of early 20th-century technology takes the form of motor vehicles, as well as a wide assortment of widgets and trinkets littered throughout the environment. Our person of interest, Violet, equally as blended. Her appearance is that of an unassertive young woman, while her mechanical limbs tell a different story. A story of violence and darkness. This temperament reflected in her personality. She only sees things in utilitarian ways; typewriters are weapons, school is a mission, her job becomes headquarters, saluting whenever given orders, requesting permission for all her actions. Social graces are completely lost on her. Her upbringing robbing her of the privilege to decide. There was only ever one path for her to take. Until recently, her actions were that of a blade, sheathed, just waiting for the time that its usefulness was required once again. An instrument of death whenever its wielder sees fit.
Her new job changes that. She must write for others as an “Auto Memory Doll,” a profession where she’s tasked to transcribe the feelings and thoughts of others, giving a voice for those that have trouble doing so on their own accord. A job where recorded sentiments are captured in a letter. A chance for an emotionally stunted girl to learn what feelings are. A “doll” wanting to become a doll, when in fact, the act of becoming one is what brings her closest to humanity.
As I said, the show writes itself.
A self-oscillating arbiter of “good content” for anyone wanting to express why it’s “good content.” The mere act of explaining its basic premise does the legwork for them. Except for the fact that when the content is lifted from the pages of its screenplay and brought to life by the magic of animation, it’s equally as flaccid as the diegetic information would have you believe when following a character of such stunted social growth. It’s a show perfect for overthinking, perfect for negating any naysayer, where issues are fended off as “it’s meant to be that way.” Subject matter created to facilitate a drab character doing things in a drab fashion. A machine-like girl with mechanical limbs given a task to emulate empathy. Her stilted, often wooden personality is accounted for by her upbringing. She’s that way because she’s SUPPOSED to be that way. It’s all very self-serving. “To wear one’s faults on their sleeve” taken quite literally.
It would have worked too, had there been no viable means to circumvent such insular logic. But here’s where knowledge supersedes those counterarguments. Where one’s experience can allow criticism to stick. This isn’t the first anime to house such themes. And of those that did so before it, there are definitive examples of “better” out there disallowing the open acceptance of wooden behavior solely for the fact that the character’s given circumstances allows it. Humans aren’t that flat. To enable such simple-minded evaluations in place of spotting genuine issues is to trivialize the complexities of the human race altogether.
We already know what it would be like for an apathetic person unable to function without the strict regiment of paramilitary life because we’ve seen it done with a pedigree of writing befitting the serious subject matter. People that carry the baggage of their actions, the haunting memories of the things they’ve seen, unable to let go, to fully allow oneself to be integrated into society. We know what this looks like because well-developed personalities like Kazuki Fuse from Jin-Roh exists. Major Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell exists. Scar from Fullmetal Alchemist exists. PTSD is not a scapegoat for underwritten performances, and it should never be accepted as one.
These issues are made visible by VE’s very crowning achievement. Pristine art and animation that ends up highlighting the thin veneer of its inherent value. The undeniable look of sterile sleekness. The artifice of humanistic warmth made bare by the prim and proper order towards everything on display. Everything and everyone is made beautiful. Age, circumstances, genetics; none of it matters. Mandated aesthetics dictate this world. You die beautifully. You get angry beautifully. You get beaten up with style. Even tears are delivered with streams of diamond-like orbs, with the owners’ faces made for the camera. Everyone in this world like that of runway models, all given a chance to play civilians. Realism made implausible when all inhabitants look like they should be doing photo ops for H&M brochures. Any attempt at realism placed further on cease-and-desist when glimpses of battles are depicted with shounen-like fight sequences. A place where even the grim outcome of war must be performed with a sense of commissioned poetics, all done to appease the vision of a director too busy with their pursuit for a particular aesthetic to let the content speak for itself. Content that effectively gets in the way of its own vision because it’s never granted the chance to breathe.
Natural light emulation that aims for Call Me by Your Name but lands somewhere along the lines of The Visit. How an anime could suffer from overexposure is beyond me. Goes to show you that when you emulate without understanding, the issues are copied as well. Time-lapse photography used in every episode, not for any purpose other than to show off. Lens blur effects used for flashbacks and present-time, not because there’s a reason to but because the director can. Everything is in service of this perfectness. This very unnatural attempt at being “natural” utterly self-defeating of its intentions.
This is equally true for moments underlined with genuine character outbursts.
Silence is powerful. Playing music over every scene is amateur. Words drowned out by plucked strings, the steadily held notes of a violin, piano keys dolled out just as quickly; all of this without concern for what the characters are saying. Entire dialogue exchanges where silence is appropriate is washed out by a wall of sound. It doesn’t compliment the material; it hijacks it. There’s a time and a place for everything, this anime never come to realize that fact.
It may take drowning out its content before one take notice of what good is there, but in that regard, Violet Evergarden is not without merit. Our protagonist may be an empty vessel with flickers of humanity tucked inside, but thankfully we’re not made hostage by her presence, as every chapter in VE is in service of someone else. People of far greater interest than herself. Their emotional range not limited—even when presented with the same aesthetic brushstrokes that everything is painted in—their humanistic tendencies find a way to radiate outward. And as a vessel, Violet is given a chance to charter her clients’ emotions to those on the receiving end of the expressed affection, and through that task itself, is able to find a way to expound upon her own feelings in return. The broad spectrum of accumulated emotions serving as the proxy towards finding her own. The idea itself is very appropriate. I would even go as far as saying that it’s thoughtful. It also operates with a pace befitting the subject matter, even if that pace is considered to be a problem to some. These things need time to happen. Thankfully, Violet is alotted that.
It’s all told through carefully selected vignettes, being brought together by motifs relating back to nature, its seasons, and the various foliage that comes to represent them:
▸The story of Iris, a girl named after the flowers in bloom in her small village, seeking out an existence away from her meager upbringing. Unwilling to accept rejection, an act of stubborn pride catalyzes her steps forward.
▸The story of Luculia, a pleasant disposition befitting the flower she’s named after. She puts the feelings of her loved one ahead of herself. Hoping for their eventual emotional recovery from a tragedy that robbed them both of normalcy.
▸The unofficial sigils of two kingdoms: one a white rose, the other red. Lovers-to-be and penpals brought together by political circumstances, but share a love that aligns beyond the expanded power and peace of their union.
▸The final days of a mother, the autumn leaves fall as a countdown to her departure from the land of the living, wanting nothing more than to find a means to comfort the daughter that she’s leaving behind.
▸The blanket of snow that covers a warring nation in frozen stasis. People refusing to move forward. Like their winter surroundings, they too remain cold towards each other, leaving their country in a state of civil unrest.
And then there’s the story of Violet herself, named after a wildflower in bloom; she’s plucked out of the custody of a heartless man and into the care of one that sees beyond her reduced form. A disheveled mess, only treated as a tool, one meant to be used and later disposed of; the man sees differently. He wants her betterment at any cost, even if that means paying the ultimate price.
There is a beauty here when you view the intentions behind every chapter. The problem stems from the execution itself. Beautiful on paper doesn’t translate to well-done in reality. Funny enough, the doll-like nature of the protagonist and her initial attempts at writing serves as a sort of meta-commentary for the content on display:
Her intent is earnest, she wants to understand the expressions and feelings being directed her way, but like her mechanical limbs, so too is the show written with a sense of artificiality. An emulation of real-life that can’t muster up to being anything more than that.
Violet Evergarden is a beautiful plastic rose with stuck-on water droplets. It’s well-kept. Never finding the beauty in decay. Never needing to accept the full spectrum of life simply because its creators are wholly content with being “perfect.” True beauty is found in the blemishes. Within the scuffle of humanity’s futility towards greater ambitions. True beauty comes from the majesty of life itself making mankind a mere moment in a pool of infinity. True beauty is humbling.
It’s through the imperfections that true beauty is emitted. Violet Evergarden is pretty to look at, but with the absence of this understanding, it could never be the real thing, it could never be “true beauty.”
Written by Kana Akatsuki, the light novel series is a story about Auto Memory Dolls. They are dolls are made by Dr. Orland, a scientist who used them to assist his wife in writing novels. However, these dolls were also rented out to others for service. The main plot revolves around an Auto Memory Doll named Violet Evergarden as she tries to discover her purpose in life.
As someone who came into this series half prepared (I have read parts of the light novel), I felt I was ready enough. The first few episodes came in as anime originals and that left me with some mixed reception. However, I will say that the pilot episode was a terrific picture. Beyond the lush quality and the visual magnificence, Violet Evergarden presented a story with heavy emotions. It synchronizes with the drama and melancholy of what I had anticipated. However, the main selling point of the show is titular character Violet Evergarden herself. The story feels like a character study that puts over her above the rest of the cast. Every episode focuses on Violet in some way through her role in the story, her interactions with others, and how she develops as a character. The conflicts she experiences tests her feelings and how she responds to them by trying to understand others. It draws viewers into asking questions about how she can develop as a character and in a lot of ways, I think the show did do that quite well. For instance, Violet displays a lot of human characteristics and tries to understand others. The most prominent scenes features her desperately trying to learn what “love” is and to me, this series chronicles her experience like a life journey of discovery. Unfortunately, I can’t really say that the first few episodes were well thought out in characterizing Violet as a memorable character. Beyond her expressions and role, it seems the show repeats a lot of the same things over and over. The example includes Violet expressing why she is an Auto Memory Doll and it gets tedious fast. It also doesn’t help much that the other side characters seemingly react in similar ways to Violet. My main concern for the first few episodes were mainly how this can keep viewers interested with such a way of storytelling.
Fortunately, the series does get better and puts emphasis in some of the side characters. While the plot feels non-linear at times, some of the other characters do get spotlight through effective background storytelling. For instance, one of the episodes featured a 14 year old princess who gets engaged to a prince and while this seemed like a cheesy love tale at first, it resolved in a very emotional way. It gave me the impression that certain side characters are worth investing time into. In the meantime, the series does eventually step into the light novel adaptation territory as we learn more about Violet’s past and connection with someone very important to her. That person would be Gilbert Bougainvillea, a major in the Leidenschaftlich Army and someone that influenced Violet a lot since she met him. As we look at Violet’s past, we learn how they met and how much he treasure her like a person rather than a doll. It’s also important to note that Violet feels comfort whenever she is around him and not lonely. The anime in the present timeline portrays Violet as a very lonely character and doesn’t have someone to depend on. In doing so, it establishes Violet as a character that has a hard time understanding others. This is especially true for her after she heard Gilbert’s final words. The show dedicates time to explore Violet’s change since the past and how she reflects her experiences in the present. As I mentioned before, the series takes a lot of time into examining Violet as a character and getting viewers to understand her. The side characters play important roles in later episodes to make Violet reflect on her past deeds. To me, it’s effective storytelling as it really made me understand her behavior. The more I understood her, the more compelling her character became. I don’t know if this was the creator’s intention from the start but honestly, it does come together as a well delivered plan.
Now you’re probably thinking of the story contains too much drama for its own good. In some ways, it does but in other ways, it’s also important for the main story. You have to remember that the timeline takes place after a war that Violet was previously involved in. Stories about war often involves pain, tragic memories, and even death. For Violet, she experienced the realities of war. Obviously, there’s going to be a lot of drama and its effect on the storytelling can be received with mixed receptions. I had some mixed feelings in general about Violet’s past as while it can definitely evoke emotions, it doesn’t feel unique enough to be memorable. In other words, I’m more interested in how she develops as a character in the present rather than focusing on her past. Even if it’s significant for her characterization, the drama presented in the background stories doesn’t always feel too impactful. I get it though. Some people will probably point fingers and say that it’s necessary. Others may agree with what I mentioned here. To me, I’m still more interested in Violet’s development in the present than who she is in the past. Otherwise, Violet’s role in the show feels more than just a protagonist. She is the character.
Anyone watching this series will easily recognize the powerful production of the show. This is perhaps one of Kyoto Animation’s best work yet in terms of technical quality. The world setting has natural and lush landscapes with European style architecture detailed with vivid colors. Every camera shot feels impactful and there’s no drop in quality in any episode. Body movements are also timed precisely well to highlight every fine detail such as Violet’s character expressions and role as a doll. Speaking of which, Violet’s character design makes her look very elegant. If you haven’t known about her background story, it’s hard to recognize her as a former soldier. Her signature hand is also a trademark animated with impressive features. It communicates the message to viewers as what she is. Other characters in the show also stand out with their human characteristics. While there’s no fan service in the show, there are characters such as Cattelya that can be very pleasing to the naked eyes. It’s clear to me that Kyoto Animation and the creative team poured a sheer amount of effort into making this series as a whole. The theme songs also highlights a sensitive feeling of melancholy to match the series’ tone while character voice mannerism for the majority of the cast are able to keep up with their momentum. The music and OST also hits the mark to deliver what’s intended especially for the emotional drama.
It’s definitely a series that felt different to me compared to some of other Kyoto Animation’s recent works. This one was an emotional storyteller that gave us a reason why we should care about Violet Evergarden; not just the story but Violet’s own journey of discovery. While I can’t say it’s always an effective tearjerker, it’s still a show that’s worth investing time into. Well done, Kyoto Animation. You gave me a better hope for your future.
From the dome of quality differences comes Violet Evergarden. Show half episodic, half character-driven, half story-driven. Yet all these halves barely make one show.
We mainly see try-hard attempts on making the viewers cry with melodrama. Most of the time it feels like spoon-feeding. Open your mouth, the emotions are coming! Let’s take a bite whilst this every-sad-piano-song-ever plays on the background.
The show does bring some interesting topics on the table, but instead of trying to do much with little, instead of developing the characters and playing around with all the good things the series already had, it starts expanding itself with irrelevances, 3rd parties and events so unnatural it felt like Hachimitsu no Clover S02 all over again. The focus always being on emotions, yet 0 emotional depth is present.
The characters on the other hand are bland and make no sense whatsoever. Violet comes with different personality and reaction based to the current episodic plot. Emotionally dead, hysterically crying little girl, I AM A WAR MACHINE – CYBERNETIC ORGANISM – LIVING TISSUE OVER ENDOSKELETON. Just choose your favorite version. Mine was the one in episode 6 who liked stargazing. I wonder where that personality disappeared for the remaining episodes.
Gilber’s brother makes even less sense. “You will be my brother’s dog.” And 3 episodes later “There is no emotional bond between my brother and you.” Who wouldn’t bond with their own dog? I don’t get it. Does this guy hate dogs or what is he even saying. What a cunt.
At the end of the day, Bialetto Evelugalden is a common drama series to this industry, and its saddest part is not the actual drama writing, but the waste of potentiality, the single thought about -not only how much better this series could have been- but how much better it should have been.
1: 3-gatsu no Lion 2nd Season
English: March Comes In Like A Lion 2nd Season
Japanese: 3月のライオン 第2シリーズ
MAL Score: 8.98
Now in his second year of high school, Rei Kiriyama continues pushing through his struggles in the professional shogi world as well as his personal life. Surrounded by vibrant personalities at the shogi hall, the school club, and in the local community, his solitary shell slowly begins to crack. Among them are the three Kawamoto sisters—Akari, Hinata, and Momo—who forge an affectionate and familial bond with Rei. Through these ties, he realizes that everyone is burdened by their own emotional hardships and begins learning how to rely on others while supporting them in return.
Nonetheless, the life of a professional is not easy. Between tournaments, championships, and title matches, the pressure mounts as Rei advances through the ranks and encounters incredibly skilled opponents. As he manages his relationships with those who have grown close to him, the shogi player continues to search for the reason he plays the game that defines his career.
It’s a show of many acts; the first season—while boasting many heavy themes—is an elegant watch, which reels the viewer in with a soft mood, realistic characters and delightful interactions, but never hits you with strong emotions. The second season—filled with melancholic tones, depressing themes and powerful messages—gives the show raw emotional power to invest the viewer at full force.
Shifting from the focus of Rei’s depression, this season brings more focus to the different mentalities of the supporting cast, both in the real world and the back-drop of shogi.
The season starts off with a focus on Hinata, and the daunting problem of bullying. Bringing forth an insight into the mass hysteria it brings and the draining effects on the victims, and those caught up in the drama. This arc is nothing short of impactful, and although it’s heavy, it never becomes painful to watch, something many other drama-oriented series fail to accomplish.
What makes this so powerful is down to the commonly relatable topic of bullying, the powerful visual presentation and the amazing characterisation found in the antagonist Megumi Takagi.
Megumi’s construct as a bully sets her apart from other archetypical antagonists—in the sense that, there are reasons to her actions—she clearly suffers problems in her mentality, leading her to torment others as a form of escapism, giving her somewhat an ability to be emphasised with for the wrong reason. It’s even easier to empathise with Hina, due to her characteristics, with her helping Rei with his struggles and inspiring him to escape his depression. Rei feels the same on the topic of helping her, creating a close bond between the two, something that plays importance throughout the rest of this season.
Although the first arc is definitely in the lime-light of this season, the series continues to impress in its focuses on different characters. The character study of Souya Touji is a breath-taking display of a mind disturbed solely by the life-style of shogi, with stunning direction to show his inability to hear those around him. The shogi match between Shimada and Yanagiharai uses profound visual imagery to show the determination of both characters and the weight Yanagihara carries. And the pleasant moments with Hina give the show a relaxing and charming escapism from the heavier themes.
I don’t consider the cast to be merely characters, they feel human. From Rei to Nikaidou to Yanagihara; each one has strong human characteristics that allow for relatability and empathy for these personalities as we see into their differing lives.
Even though Rei has less focus this season, his role as the lead character is as strong as ever as he seeks a way to help those around him. It’s inspiring to watch, as Rei’s empathy drives him to assist in fighting the varying problems that arise for everyone close to him. His outlook and narration provide a strong connection from the viewer as he continues to improve his life which was once locked in place by his haunting past. As the main character, his journey is an impeccable experience and he is character of relatability and complexity.
This season exposes elements of characters unbeknownst from the first season, such as the extent of Nikadou’s illness, the pressure Akari feels being unable to help Hina and the different psychological and emotional effects each character experiences in accordance to their surroundings. Each revelation is equally as tense and creates stronger connection to the characters once their situations are understood.
Studio SHAFT empowers storytelling through visual motifs and stunning presentation, bringing everything to life with powerful imagery to reflect the mood each scene portrays. Every visual element is a sight to behold, with gorgeous backgrounds, varying styles and ability to speak many words through its delivery that bring out many emotions from the viewer.
This mood is only enhanced by the stunning soundtrack composition. Melancholic tracks reflecting the depressing yet elegant mood can easily bring you to tears, acting as peaceful additions to the stunning composition of visuals and story.
For a while now I’ve been pondering over the topic of depression, this in turn has affected the way I view anime titles, and what I get out of said titles. While Cardcaptor Sakura healed me from having negative thoughts, End of Evangelion’s existential elements blew my mind away so much that the thought of depression was no longer on my mind. But, I think the best form of escapism from a feeling like depression is facing it head on, and that’s exactly what 3-gatsu gave me; giving me personal affection to its elements.
To me, 3-gatsu no Lion is the epitome of human emotion, an experience rivalled by none. A show that has brought me to tears almost every episode, and something I hope many others can appreciate in the same way.
This show is not about him. Just like Rei, it has moved on from the times of subdued, somber sadness; there is another storm brewing in the distance. Unannounced, but with utter and immediate intensity, the current changes as the happy-go-lucky Hinata gets home one evening: her face is pale, her expression pained; tears start a sinister stream. There is bullying going on in Hinata’s class. After fighting for and protecting the previous victim Chiho who has since left the school, the bullies shifted targets towards her. She knows she did nothing wrong, that what she did was in fact right—but it doesn’t stop her stomach from aching nor her heart from breaking. During a crucial time in Hinata’s life, she is left alone, being ignored by former friends and classmates, utterly isolated. With bullying, there is no easy way out; just one obstacle in the form of a weak-willed teacher is enough to create rips and ripples, all of which reflect, add, and cancel each other out—resulting in complete chaos.
In face of a problem near impossible for an outsider to resolve, her family and Rei do their best to help: Rei tries to repay the debt of Hinata and her sisters saving his life from dreariness and depression in a misled attempt to rack up money; Akari on the other hand views Hinata’s well-being as a responsibility relayed to her by her late mother—a responsibility too big for her to carry. Both of them fail to accomplish their goals and experience what to them seems like an indisputable defeat. However, this assessment based on the self-centered and self-serving assumption that one can do anything if one tries couldn’t be further off; their so-called failures led to them spending time with Hinata, listening to her. When she ran away, Rei ran after her; in times of sorrow, she found solace in a soothing and supportive home that let her smile again. Was it not for these small everyday gestures, for friends and family supporting her no matter how ferocious or frantic her feelings, she could not have persevered. They didn’t fail. They did well.
The ripples may wane but they never vanish, Hinata and Chiho might never fully recover—but in the end, these blemishes are part of what makes a human: they add another layer to their characters, dreams, ambitions and passions, to their relationship with family, friend and foe and add context to their everyday actions. As these values accumulate, they give form not to a character, but something greater. All of these people have their own stories to tell, some of which we may never hear of; their stories intermingle and paths cross, branching off and meeting up again—sometimes. Some days, the torrents may grow harsh, but other times may bring with them a friendly flux; some of the tributaries may meet a dead end earlier than expected, others may follow along the river of life and flow until they are released into the deep, dark ocean.
Consequentially, the further one coasts along, the more colleagues and communities one will lose to such bifurcations. For a person such as Kishou Yanagihara, there are no more people to lose: all of his former friends and rivals have thrown in the towel, and as they pass on what is left of their hope and passion for the sport, they also pass on from the world of shogi. Struggling against sickness and fatigue, this burden weighs down heavy on the eldest active shogi player’s frame: their sashes seem suffocating, and like a farmer staring at the remnants of a burnt field, he has no one and nowhere left to turn to. However, just like the farmer he knows that this desolate and depressing wasteland will soon give rise to a new mellow-looking meadow, fertile and fruitful. He catches on fire: his burning passion paints the picture of a haunting human torch slowly burning to cinder and as his fiery fighting spirit overtakes his self-doubt, he finally comes to terms with the fact that life moves on… even if he won’t let go just yet.
The show moves on, its natural flow harboring both healing and heartbreak; their paths continue to cross and their stories to intermingle. And as the pieces fall into place, they give rise to an unparalleled display of life and humanity, poignant and personal. March comes in like a Lion sets a new standard not just for Slice-of-Life as a genre, but for storytelling itself.
With 3-gatsu no Lion looks to be about Shogi, shogi is only one thing in a sea of ideas and themes that the show covers. depression as well is a main theme of the show, but I wouldn’t say it’s the only theme. Rather, I’d say the theme of the show is how everyone is struggling. The ways that the show is able to show this theme is absolutely magical.
Everyone has a story. Too often shows forget this. But 3-gatsu no Lion knows this so very well. Nuance is something sorely missing from many shows that 3-gatsu has in spades. Each character that comes up is fleshed out and even flaws as well as strengths/. There is no such thing as the hateable villain that is built up just to be hated. Every single character is shown the good and bad parts of them. Whether it be a bully or the opponent to a shogi match, each character is treated like someone real who has their own issues and things that they have to deal with. And while they may do things that aren’t nice. and in any other show would get them labelled as an unlikeable villain, 3-gatsu is able to show that there are other aspects of their life that make them this way. Everyone is explored in this way and it makes the show feel so real. In the end, there is no such thing as a truly bad person, and 3gatsu gets it.
Whats even more amazing is not just that it’s able to flesh out these side characters, but the extent to which it’s doing so. 3-gatsu has the powerful ability to make a character cast them in a negative light, but then show you their own story and change the audiences view so that they now want to root for them as well. It’s magical how the show is continually able to showcase different situations and different issues that are relatable and lead one to want to support the one that they are watching. Even if they were the opponent just a few minutes ago, the depth and feeling that goes into exploring these characters brings me around to them, and makes it so it’s hard to decide, who do I want to see win?
Added to this is 3-gatsu’s powerful imagery. 3-gatsu uses images in the best way that I’ve seen in animation. While I’m fine with a more realistic approach and like what most anime do, there is something extremely powerful about 3-gatsu’s art and animation. Metaphors and symbols are brought up. But they aren’t just flashed onto the screen. They are explored and shown in the person that they are digging into. If someone feels tied up and forced into something, it’s not just something that they say, it’s something shown with multiple sashes building them in place and making it hard for them to move at all. Creative and powerful visuals are something that 3-gatsu does so well. Even in the lighthearted happy scenes 3-gatsu is able to make them feel so rich. Bright happy colors and smiles litter the scenes and make them so infectiously happy. They’re sugary sweet and are even able to make those happy feelings feel so rich.
After all that leads into another aspect of 3-gatsu’s power. The duality of life. While the show may be focused on struggles and depression, the show also knows that there are happy parts of life. Life isn’t just a series of unfortunate events. While many other shows would focus on the negative to show that 3-gatsu shows everything. It shows the dark and sad moments and the art and animation to go along with it. But it also shows the moments of family, fun, friends, and all of the things that they do that brings light into their world. 3-gatsu even gets to the point of having cats talk to showcase the happy atmosphere that they’re going for. And these scenes are so powerful because they show what bonds can do even through struggles. While everyone is struggling and have their issues, they’re still able to come together and have a fun time. To support each other. And those moments feel so rich with that in mind. 3-gatsu really gets life it’s not just good or bad things. It’s good and bad things. And no show comes close to detailing them both with as much power as 3-gatsu no Lion does.
And that’s what makes it so magical. It’s not only able to make one feel strong feels, but it’s also able to make one feel happy, to make one invested in a character they only just met, and make me at least feel this greater appreciation of the world around me. Nuance is the word that so many anime lack but 3-gatsu has. And in the end, every element of this show is masterfully done. The story is engaging and well written. The characters are filled with flaws and depth. The art is filled with rich symbolism and power, and the music to go with it fits very well and only increases the power of this show. Not only is this one of the best shows that I’ve ever watched, but I feel like it has something really important to say. Everyone is struggling. Everyone is good and bad. While one may be an enemy or someone seen unfavourably there is probably a reason they are that way and there is more to them than just that. And if the world was able to understand it I think it’d be much better off. This show isn’t just masterful at all of its elements, it also gives a greater understanding of the world which I think would benefit everyone. If there was any show that I’d recommend to anyone it’d be this one. This is the best that animation has to offer, and I love it.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. 3-gatsu no Lion 2nd Season
2. Violet Evergarden
3. Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3
4. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho
5. Steins;Gate 0
6. Banana Fish
7. Kaze ga Tsuyoku Fuiteiru
8. Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai
9. Yagate Kimi ni Naru
10. Megalo Box