They’re the best Anime that 2011 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Hourou Musuko, Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni!, Sekaiichi Hatsukoi, and more!
10: Hourou Musuko
English: Wandering Son
MAL Score: 7.72
Effeminate fifth grader Shuuichi Nitori is considered by most to be one of the prettiest girls in school, but much to her dismay, she is actually biologically male. Fortunately, Shuuichi has a childhood friend who has similar feelings of discomfort related to gender identity: the lanky tomboy Yoshino Takatsuki, who, though biologically female, does not identify as a girl. These two friends share a similar secret and find solace in one another; however, their lives become even more complicated when they must tread the unfamiliar waters of a new school, attempt to make new friends, and struggle to maintain old ones. Faced with nearly insurmountable odds, they must learn to deal with the harsh realities of growing up, transexuality, relationships, and acceptance.
Lauded as a decidedly serious take on gender identity and LGBT struggles, Takako Shimura’s Hourou Musuko is about Shuuichi and Yoshino’s attempts to discover their true selves as they enter puberty, make friends, fall in love, and face some very real and difficult choices.
Then, there’s the animes that deal with the LGBT community.
Stereotyped as flamboyant creatures, the LGBT community suffers through insulting stereotypes and invectives. One of the least prominent group of the LGBT body is transgender community; there is so little focus on them. As far as most ignorant people are concerned, they are crossdressers. Nothing more.
Hourou Musuko, or Wandering Son, is a work, based on the bestselling manga, that focuses on crossdressers, puberty, and transgender issues. It serves to educate — and entertain — viewers about gender identity. What does it mean to be a boy or a girl? Why do people have so many problems with guys dressing up as girls? Are crossdressers “weird”?
The work tackles these questions through the eyes of Nitori Shuichi. He never like being a boy; he always feels he should have been a girl. Takatsuki Yoshino, a girl, wishes she is born as a boy. She hates wearing girly clothing. Both these main characters feel strangled over societal norms on gender issues and this anime adaptation does great justice in focusing their struggles.
Because this work starts in medias res, the drama immediately starts and that is one of its greatest strengths. It doesn’t waddle on setting the work; the work has an inviting introduction that explains most of the events explained in the manga in the first episode. Personally, the first episode is one of my favorite first episodes out there; it is so impressive that I said, “Wow.”
While it rests on the familiar tropes and archetypes, there is an engaging twist on everything. If you think love triangles are the most boring trope out there, Hourou Musuko will flabbergast you. Chiba Saori, a straight female character, falls in love with Nitori as a girl while Nitori has a crush on Takatsuki. The love triangle situation grows even more complex and captures the viewers’ imagination. Dramatic and slice-of-life situations are there for a reason: to characterize. There is nothing redundant about them and everything feels well-placed. Interestingly enough, the work climaxes on the silly anime cliche: a play in a cultural festival; however, it is one of the best endings out there in anime.
Everything about the characters feels realistic. Nitori and Takatsuki are definitely two of the best written LGBT characters out there; they act like people in real life facing actual dramatic situations. Except they have problems identifying themselves. Saori, while being a more unconventional — and almost insane — character, has a degree of believability. Ariga Makoto, Suehiro Anna, and Doi Shinpei — despite their labels as supporting characters — are strong characters that complement the drama in the work; it seems bizarre to call them supporting characters. While Sarashina Chizuru may vex viewers, her placement is a necessary evil.
The minimalist watercolor palette for its art is powerful. Bright colors and thin outlines almost feel like you are viewing a moving watercolor painting. Lush backgrounds have never been this interesting. The character designs look fantastic and dynamic. What can I say? Hourou Musuko’s art style is unbelievably incredible.
“Itsudatte” by Daisuke is a charming acoustic piece for an OP: clear vocals, catchy acoustic pieces, fantastic lyrics. While I find it hilarious that the OP focuses on furniture and symbols, its symbolism is worthy of praise. It introduces the serious yet enchanting elements of this work. The ED, “For You” by Rie Fu, is a soothing pop music, but loses its memorability quickly.
Fans argue that its noitaminA’s position creates problems with this work. Its 11 episode structure has condensed the work quite significantly. Despite that, it is an excellent way to introduce viewers to the manga; its easygoingness gives little problems.
So how does Hourou Musuko compare to the likes of other slice-of-life works? Excellent. Its pleasant nature does not scare off viewers; rather, it educates them about the issues. The animation staff did not back off from the issues, no matter the consequences. That, to me, is admirable.
“Simple, but effective” is a phrase that could describe Wandering Son on a couple of levels, but it’s most immediately noticeable in the artwork. The color scheme is warm, consisting mostly of pastel pinks and yellows. Backgrounds are reasonably detailed, and they fade into a sea of off-white around the edges, like a drawing on canvas. At the most basic level, you could call the character designs generic, but they’re drawn with the same light, rounded watercolor touch that’s applied to the backgrounds, and the result is a world that’s appealing to the eyes, as inviting and agreeable as it is distinctive. Each scene looks like a moving painting, remarkably fluid, with no out-of-place elements or sharp contrasts to break the sense of consistency.
The music and sound share many of those same qualities. Short of some obligatory “light and cheerful” music for the more upbeat school scenes, the series mostly relies on a seemingly limitless series of piano melodies. Dramas can sometimes be guilty of leaning too heavily on the sound of the piano, but in this case there are a surprisingly large variety of tracks, and they run the tonal gamut from soft and somber to soaring and hopeful, so it didn’t bother me in the least. What’s more interesting is the show’s willingness to use atmospheric noise in place of music. The soft ticking of a clock during a lull in conversation can become harsh and accusing, as can that normally-harmless loop of muzak playing in the karaoke place. In one heart-stopping scene, the shrill cry of cicadas and the beat of slow footsteps are all we can hear as an antagonistic classmate approaches the vulnerable main character behind a closed door, his motives unclear. In this regard, the series can produce an immense amount of tension and audience involvement from practically nothing.
The characters are both a blessing and a curse. Get ready to be completely and utterly lost as early as three minutes into the first episode: The cast is huge, and with the exception of two leads, Nitori and Takatsuki, none of the characters are explicitly introduced in any sort of depth. To make matters worse, in addition to their given name, every character is also referred to by several nicknames, so you can definitely expect to play a little who’s-who early in the series. Many of the characters knew each other in past years, but this is touched on very briefly, and the series seems to take it for granted that we’ll be able to grasp everyone’s histories. To be fair, if you’re paying close attention, you can do just that, but it’s definitely a tasking introduction that might be a little more complicated than it needed to be.
The series also falters a little when it comes to making the lead roles feel believable. It’s difficult to write children with true accuracy, but this is an extreme case; within this series, there are at least three middle schoolers who, by all indications, are more mature and intelligent than most adults. Nitori and Takatsuki are both unflinchingly honest and up-front about their motivations and desires, and Saori, the third lead, is a little girl who has the steely composure and resolve of a professional hitman. In one scene, Saori’s mother asks her what she plans to do with her life, and Saori sullenly responds that, if all else fails, she could “just be somebody’s mistress.” You’ll pardon me for thinking that seems like an unlikely response from an eleven-year-old, and it’s a drop in the bucket of unrealistic behavior exhibited by children throughout the course of the series.
That’s not to say the characters are a flop, though. Nitori is a character in a state of internal turmoil, trying his best to make sense of himself and work through confusion that most people could only imagine. It all shows through in his tepid behavior, his shyness, his inability to truly feel comfortable amongst others. He’s complex, and believable as a person, just not as a child. By and large, the supporting characters are put to good use—as mentioned, they’re many in number, so I can’t dig into everyone, but some standouts include: Sarashina, a brazen and upbeat girl whose positive attitude and strong sense of identity make her a good role model for Nitori; Ariga, Nitori’s friend and confidant who also has the desire to cross-dress; and Maho, Nitori’s sister who, like true family, can somehow manage to be simultaneously spiteful and kind. The sense of realism isn’t quite up to par, but there’s definitely a lot of good chemistry between the characters.
Even by slice-of-life/drama standards, there really isn’t much in the way of a conventional story here. Each episode is just a day or two in the life of Nitori as he faces numerous problems. In many ways, Nitori is the story—numerous subplots raise meaningful inquiries about him and the way that he is going to live his life. He starts to undergo puberty, he finds himself attracted to his sister’s friend, he is conflicted about whether or not he should cross-dress at school. These beg some questions; how will he handle it when he is too “boyish” to convincingly cross-dress? Will he be able to have a meaningful relationship with the opposite sex despite his own confused state? Will he live in secrecy, or be open about his desire to be a girl? The series is good at provoking these sorts of thoughts without ever being too explicit about them.
In that same vein, Wandering Son really does have something that’s absent from most dramas, and that is a sense of emotional understatement. It generates tension the same way that tension is generated in real life. Awkward silences; sometimes words unspoken are worse than those that are. Simultaneous sidelong glances in which both parties drop their eyes; just returning the gaze of a person you no longer call “friend” can be disquieting. A white flag offered by someone who has wronged you in the past; you want to let bygones be bygones, but you never can tell who’s genuine and who isn’t. Over time, Wandering Son collects all of these realities and more, hones them to their most disconcerting and incisive forms, and then uses them to great effect. The scene that I would consider to be the show’s climax is so soft and unassuming, yet so full of visceral impact, that it’s tough to even describe. Bad dramas default to artificially emotional screaming and crying. The good dramas are the ones that are built on the understanding that sometimes life is just so damn cold, silent, and uncomfortable that screaming and crying become a welcome change of pace, the finish line of an emotional gauntlet rather than the start. To that end, this series passes with flying colors.
What ultimately ends up marring Wandering Son more than anything is its treatment of its themes. Don’t think for a second that I won’t commend the show for taking an idea that’s often denigrated to the rank of a joke and bringing it up to center stage, because I will. It’s daring, original, and respectful, and I respect that to no end. The series is great at presenting insightful questions. But it cheapens itself a little bit when attempting to provide the answers. For all of the inner toiling, the complexity of the problems faced by the characters, the series ultimately ends up being permeated and diluted by the same overly simplistic “just be yourself and everything is gonna be okey-dokey” message that seems to be omnipresent in all forms of media. My own cynicism notwithstanding, there’s nothing terribly wrong with that message in and of itself, but in this context, it’s little more than a cop-out, a juvenile thematic resolution crudely tacked onto an otherwise mature and involving experience. It turns Wandering Son into an inarticulate meditation on the topic at hand rather than a full-blown attempt to embrace it, and for lack of a better phrase, it’s a crying shame.
Nonetheless, there’s plenty to appreciate here, and if you lean at all towards the slice-of-life/drama genres, or if you’re just intrigued by the idea but sitting on the fence about whether or not it’s worth your time, this is an easy enough recommendation. It doesn’t carry nearly as much weight as it might have, but it’s still the kind of uniquely artistic and effective series that I wish was a little more prevalent in the entertainment landscape.
Wandering Son starts off with an interesting structure. Instead of starting from an extremity, the beginning or the ending, the anime begins somewhere in the middle of the original story. Of course, it is assuming that either the viewer is familiar with the manga or is watching the series seriously. I’m saying this because it is easy to get lost in the anime as it refers a lot to pass events and it is mostly through dialogue than flashbacks. Actually, I applaud the director for using such a direction, simply because that the story works on already constructed and broken relations rather than focusing on making some. However, where the story keeps its real strength is in the problematic itself. Of course, our main characters have an idea of cross-dressing and wanting to be the opposite sex, but such dilemma is never blatantly exposed in the anime, nor does it make it over-dramatic. Instead, Wandering Son almost works as a slice of life. And by that I do not mean IT IS a slice of life, since it is absolutely not, but the story is found between the lines, between the dialogues and the actions of the characters. This way, the anime is helped by a correct blend between light moments and drama. While it is mostly a serious show, the happy moments are never actually forced and it sometimes it is not really sure if a scene was to be happy or sad. Ironically, the lack of focus in the story can also be a weak point for some, as it may get hard to get into a story that doesn’t really shows itself. From this point, it is really a matter of preference. Personally, I think the calm development is the best way to go, since a direct focus would make it too dramatic for nothing. Of course, the story wouldn’t matter without its cast, which exactly knows what it has to do.
Wandering Son has a relatively large cast. Only, it is clear that the anime only focus on the main characters rather than the supportive cast. This way, the small amount of 11 episodes is enough for the viewer to learn about the characters that are really important to the show. As for the others, they play their supportive role very well and that is a big plus point in the series. What is really fascinating about the cast is really the way they are used as whole rather than individually. More precisely, the representation of the classroom can almost be taken as one big character. The chemistry of the students is something I’ve rarely seen in the medium. Individually, the characters aren’t bad at all, but there is a tad annoyance. Looking at characters such as Nitori, Takatsuki and Chiba, they are certainly well written characters. However, especially for Chiba, their way of thinking can often look too far away from the physical age. It’s always hard to represent children or prepubescent teen correctly and realistically in anime and Wandering Son certainly doesn’t have the best one of them all. Of course, I might be wrong on this one, but the characters really were too mature for their age. Though, I wouldn’t say it’s a problem since it works greatly with the story and the feeling of the anime. Childish characters wouldn’t go well with subjects such as gender crisis and the fear of puberty.
The anime is accompanied by a wonderful soundtrack. While the opening song might be debatable, (I for myself wasn’t a big fan of it) the series itself is helped by wonderful melodramatic piano compositions. A prime example is in the first episode where Claire de Lune is played at the end. Not only I respect them for the use of a very popular composition, but it was also completely fitting with the situation. The music is never poignant in Wandering Son. Instead, it is played gently and calmly in the background. You don’t really pay attention, but you know it is well there. As for the voice acting, glad to know that it wasn’t a typical high pitched voice you would often see with children. For most of them, they did a really good job, and while Nitori had mostly a monotone voice, it went very well with its personality.
Another point that is easy to notice in Wandering Son is the artwork which is very similar to book art. I don’t know the reason behind this, but I found it to be relieving. In contrast to the melancholy feeling of the series, the light pastel colors help the viewer to go through the whole series and take it as a lighter anime. The character design is meant to be normal in this show, and so it’s usual for them to look like typical children. However, the artwork is enough to make them look different from the mass. I just can’t say it enough; I simply fell in love with the artwork.
To fill it up completely, Wandering Son is simply a good anime that blends dramatics elements with lighter ones in the best way possible. Even though the style might not be your cup of tea, which is a valid point, I still recommend it to everyone who wants to try something serious once in a while. Really, it shows how the anime industry is still trying to give us original titles rather than the same formula over and over again.
9: Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni!
English: Baka & Test – Summon the Beasts 2
Japanese: バカとテストと召喚獣 にっ！
MAL Score: 7.72
The blockheads of Class F return with more misadventures! Rather than desperately competing against the elite students in Class A for better facilities, they have other problems at hand. While the girls are constantly vying for the boys’ attention, Akihisa Yoshii and Yuuji Sakamoto are being blackmailed by a stalker who threatens to reveal their most embarrassing secrets to the whole school. Moreover, everyone’s avatar starts to behave strangely.
Filled with more nosebleeds and eye-pokes, the boys of Class F must work together to discover the stalker’s identity and deal with the misfortunes that come with love among fools.
Baka to Test to Shokanjuu Ni! where to start… Haha. After I saw the first season when it came out I was left wanting more. What with the unique battle system they have in the series and the amazingly hilarious cast of characters, I totally wanted another season, and here my prayers were answered with another season of Baka!
Not really sure how to describe the story, there is a story behind it all, its just overshadowed by the fact that the anime is hilarious at every turn. Its not the main drive for the anime, the characters interactions and hilarity drive the show. This season actually did have more story elements in it than the last though, and it was pretty well written, becoming quite emotional at some points as we learn about how Minami falls for Aki and how Shouko fell for Yuuji.
I love the character designs in Baka, especially since they are able to make a wonderful mix of amazingly cute chibis to MEGA SERIOUS FACE transitions superbly. The chibis are used during discussions between the characters at some points and of course during summon battles where their summons are actually the characters themselves chibi-fied and armored. This season also threw in one last artistic win with the final two episodes changing the summons into a Halloween-esc theme, with the summons ranging from headless to vampires to brick walls!
I didn’t really like the Opening and Ending for this one. Compared to Season 1 and the OVA Opening and Endings this was subpar at best. They aren’t catchy or memorable like the others and you can’t really say, “Oh my god, another musical ear worm from Baka!”. Though as the season went on the OP and ED did become an earworm to be honest. I guess it was the kind of music you had to listen over and over to to become addicted, not sure if its a good or bad thing. The soundtracks in the background were also fantastic, especially in the episode about Minami’s past.
I love the characters. They have a little bit of everything in this anime! Aki is the idiot that all animes need (He might just be a little to idiotic sometimes). But when push comes to shove he always come through like a true anime idiot does! Yuuji is the total badarse of the anime, with the epic character design and attitude to go with him. Mutsurini… I love Mutsurini, he is an idol to all men everywhere, he’s a ninja, photographer and somehow he’s a pervert that girls don’t hate. I want him to teach me his ways. Hideyoshi the trap… He never gets old, right from the get go they still won’t let him be a boy, and honestly, it never gets old. Then the girls themselves are amazing as well. Minami is amazing with her tough attitude and abuse of Aki. Himeji is the shy girl that turns into an evil demon when things go wrong (evidence = end of episode one). Shoko…. She terrifies me with how she abuses Yuuji, honestly, I think she could kill us all. I love it.
Well if it isn’t obvious yet I love Baka to Test to Shokanjuu Ni!. The second season is everything I wanted it to be, with its hilarity, serious moments, cross dressing, and idiocy! What more could I ask for? (Maybe some moar Mutsurini awesomeness… The show might implode if we get too much though. I thought it was going to implode, freaking assassination’s he pulled this season were epic!)
Overall, I’m sittin’ here waiting for more episodes because honestly, nothing will stop me from watching this amazingly hilarious anime that is Baka to Test!
no fuck that, it was like when I sell my patented “cancerbegone” drug to terminally ill patients for their life savings. It was that bad, I mean the first series of Baka to test to shoukanjuu was no work of art but it had its good moments, it could be funny and clever with some interesting ideas like the whole battling thing and the division of classes based on test scores, there was room for some potential there.
But this sequel just threw all that out the window in favour of a story-less, plot-less, one dimensional, boring Harem with nothing more than episode after episode of unoriginal rom-com stuff that we’ve seen a million times before, you know what I mean, with misunderstandings between the main character and the girls and more shots of female characters bodies than you’d find in a playboy magazine, in fact one of the best ways to describe this series would be as a fucking Hentai without the sex.
When I looked closely I discovered that this series is a good example of so many romance comedy sequels out there that I felt sick, where after the first series is successful because of its good ideas or good characters etc they for some reason abandon all that in the sequel in favour of whats called the “safe route”.
The safe route basically means taking no risks by insuring the sequel will make money from DVD sales and toys by appealing to the Otaku types. Those who spend tons of money on shit like this with ridiculous amounts of fan service to appease theses dumb idiots that think that a series is good as long as it has cute girls in it. Other good examples of this is Nisemonogatari and Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu 2 both of these sequels to relatively good and okay animes were total scams where no thought at all was put into them, (see my Nisemonogatari review for more details) they are just there as manufactured scams to make money by tricking people into thinking that what they’re watching is a sequel when really its just a colourful mishmash of crap.
Now maybe you think im being to harsh, you say, “its not supposed to have a deep story”, or “some people just like to watch cute girls do cute things and don’t want anything more from an anime.” To that I say “that’s fine,” I also didn’t expect a moving story from this anime or deep characters and some fan service is nice, its good to be able to shut off my brain from time to time and just watch a dumb love comedy with summoned beings in it.
But this just went too far with the complete lack of any kind of story or character development and throwing all the stuff that made the first series good out the window, right next to my stock of piss flavou… I mean lemon flavoured ice lollies. If you would like one please email me at www.thisisdefiantlynotascam.co.fuckyousucker
to make matters worse they continually repeat the same jokes over and over again.. example…
guy and girl A are doing something, accidentally get in a provocative position, girl B walks in, sees this and gets angry, chaos ensues. lather, rinse, repeat.
Guy says something, girl misunderstands, gets angry. Lather, rinse, repeat,
“don’t worry the audience wont notice if we use the same jokes again and again, just throw in a shot of some girl breasts and they’ll forget all about, it doesn’t matter about originality as long as the girls say something cute or we see their panties then it all good. Don’t worry i`ve made tons of this shit, we can slap the story together in an afternoon, throw in some scenes of a girl blushing and we`ll make millions, who gives a fuck about art, as long as we can sell lots of crappy merchandise and I can buy myself a new boat then alls right with the world.”
Now its not all bad there were still some good elements in this series, despite the overuse of some jokes there was still some funny moments here and there and we do learn some things about the past of some of these characters, and if you like cute anime girls doing cute but pointless things then this series may appeal to you. There some okay music and some nice art here and there but nothing really to right home about.
Overall I would only recommend this series to die hard fans of the original or to people that really just want to see big breasted girls say cute things and flat chested girls do violent things, if your looking for a good romance comedy with a good story or good comedy then look else where.
If you click this review was helpful I promise to send you one of my new chocolate flavoured ice lollies (chocolate not guaranteed) in the mail or my new “cancerbegone” spray tan, for people who want to look good while they die. (warning “cancerbegone” may cause cancer)
Season 2 was mostly about character development rather than keeping up with the story, but that’s not a bad thing. Some shows don’t do character development without terrible terrible filler. Some don’t at all!
Season 2 focused more on developing the characters through individual stories than one full story throughout the season, BUT they did it right. Baka and Test Shokanjuu Ni incorporates excellent use of story arcs within it’s episodes to keep the audience from that “filler” feeling. From crazy beach days, to Minami’s backstory, to peeking into girls’ bathing rooms, this season took it around and back.
Once again the animation is amazing. It retains that manga feel to it with it’s “pop-art” look. The movement of the characters is smooth, and the detailed and whacky expressions of the characters in “extreme” times for them really show us what the animators can do.
The voice acting in this season (I’m referring to the Japanese voice acting) is greatly improved from the first. It’s much more believable and adds a whole lot to the humor. As for the English Dub, it’s not set to release until early 2013, but fingers crossed for it to be just as good or better than the fantastic first season. To go along with great voice acting, season 2 adds a whole new soundtrack of music to play through the series, ranging from epic battle themes to soft romantic jingles.
You gotta love it when writers dedicate time to letting the audience know about a show’s characters, without giving you a filler feeling. In the first season you got a feel of who the characters were and a general understanding. In this season you get a full on background check on several characters, and their motives to do what they do. As always we have a wonderful variety of characters in personality and looks, always a pleasure to watch.
YES. If I wasn’t entitled to write more for the sake of potential viewers that’s all I’d write. Simply yes, I enjoyed it. Take time to understand the systems in the show and what’s going on and who the characters are, I admit it can be random, but once you get a feel for who is who and what is what, you’ll love the show to no end. (To be honest its really not that hard, but I’ve known people who don’t even try). There’s also so many characters in this show, you’re bound to relate to one of them and say “Hey that’s me!” and put yourself in their world if only for a minute.
WATCH IT. Watch it, enjoy it, and don’t read online reviews from critics that don’t enjoy a show for what it is, and instead pick it apart by flaws that don’t matter in the long run. (Just look at Pokemon -__-)
I don’t recommend it if you don’t like to laugh. (Ha)
It’s a nice blend of action, highschool life, just the right amount of fan-service (nothing over the top), comedy, and more all in its own unique way!
Here’s hoping for a 3rd season and more, just get it marketed damn it! 😀
8: Sekaiichi Hatsukoi
English: Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi – World’s Greatest First Love
Japanese: 世界一初恋 TV
MAL Score: 7.72
After having to deal with jealousy from his co-workers for working under his father’s name, prideful literary editor Ritsu Onodera is determined to establish himself in the industry. To accomplish this, he quits his job at his father’s publishing company and transfers to Marukawa Publishing. But instead of being placed in their literary division, Ritsu finds himself working as the rookie manga editor for the Emerald editing department, a team that operates under extremely tight schedules in order to meet deadlines. There, Ritsu is introduced to the infamous editor-in-chief Masamune Takano, a persistent man who strives for results.
As it turns out, Takano is actually Ritsu’s high school love, and it is the aftermath of that heartbreak has caused Ritsu’s reluctance to fall in love again. Now with the two reunited after several years of separation, the reestablishment of their relationship is marked by Takano’s vow to make Ritsu say that he loves him again.
Sekaiichi Hatsukoi follows three couples that are interconnected within the manga industry, with each being subject to the budding of first love.
It’s simple, sweet, and straight to the point. Some may view that as a good thing while others may disagree and claim that’s a bad thing. Personally, I thought the story was fairly well done considering this is a BL anime. One of the biggest flaws, however, is that the drama is kind of forced upon the viewer…but since this is a Shungiku Nakamura series, we all know the drama isn’t going to end in heartbreak or tragedy; you know all of these guys are going to eventually end up in a relationship and live happily ever after because, well, that’s just what happens in her works. The drama is there to interest the viewer, but it doesn’t necessarily serve a big purpose within the story. Do I think that’s a bad thing? I believe if it’s a device to interest the viewers, then go for it.
Deen did much better this time than in Junjou Romantica, that’s for sure. The backgrounds have a more soft feeling about them, and it reminded me of Hourou Musuko’s background art (if you haven’t seen Hourou Musuko, the gist of what I’m getting at is that the background art is done extremely well). So the backgrounds are beautiful, that’s fine and dandy. But the characters? I don’t mind that they’re all bishounen/”bishies” because that fits in with the theme, but…ugh, the faces. And the hair. They’re all identical. I’m not talking about the color of the eyes and hair, but the shapes and styles are basically all the same. It’s just a little thing but it bugs me when I get the characters confused since they all look too similar.
It’s really nothing very special. The opening is upbeat which fits Sekaiichi Hatsukoi considering this anime is a lighthearted romance/comedy, and the ending is more serene. As for voice acting, it was simply alright. The ukes sounded girly and whiny and the semes sounded manly and rough. Too bad that, like the art, everyone sounded the same. It was a mediocre performance on the seiyuu’s parts.
Character is where the series starts slacking, because they’re all so stereotypical and it can get REALLY annoying after a couple episodes. All of the ukes (Ritsu Onodera, Chiaki Yoshino, and Shouta Kisa) have the typical I-don’t-want-you-to-kiss-you-even-though-I’m-obviously-in-love-with-you-so-I’m-just-gonna-keep-pushing-you-away-because-I’m-stupid attitude, whereas all the semes (Masamune Takano, Yoshiyuki Hatori, and Kou Yukina) won’t give up because they know the ukes are undoubtedly in love with them. There’s slight character development, but not enough to drastically change their attitudes or anything. It’s the average stuff you see in BL which is why I rated it as such.
I like this series, don’t get me wrong, but some major flaws and the ending prevented me from giving this a 9/10 like I would have originally put as my enjoyment score. I looked forward to watching a new episode every week, but it simply didn’t astound me like some other anime has done. I’d still consider it a favorite, but objectively speaking there are quite a few weaknesses within this series.
Overall: 6.4/10, rounded to 6/10
Sekaiichi Hatsuko isn’t atrocious, nor is it a masterpiece. It’s slightly above average. The story and art are nice, but that’s really all this anime has going for it. If you like BL, you’ll probably enjoy this. If you’re wondering whether you should dip your toes into BL by using Sekaiichi Hatsukoi as your starter series, you might finish up episode 12 and feel pretty underwhelmed.
Like the start. I found the setting introduction was pretty funny, and the initial backstory was pretty interesting between Takano and Onodera. A long lost boyfriend from 10 years ago ends up as your boss in the hectic manga section of the company, the section you didn’t apply for. The attitude between the two is pretty funny with their constant bickering. This does make it slightly difficult for the relationship to develop however, as there is even more issues than just Onodera’s attitude. Unfortunately, the story is left unresolved and leaves you with a horrible sense of un-fulfillment by opening up more plot.
The cause for the lack of resolution is the introduction of the two other side couples. The first is between Yuu a popular oblivious mangaka and his childhood friends who became an assistant and an editor. The second between a editor whom has given up on successful relationships with good looking men, and a good looking manga salesmen. They aren’t bad stories either, but eventually after episodes 5 through 10 you wonder what happened to the main story. Of course, neither is two or three episodes enough to deal with these new sub-plots either.
I found Hatsukoi to have a surprisingly good sense of humor, and for me that is what I enjoyed the most. However, this pretty much disappeared as things got more serious farther into the stories which is a shame. With the waning of the humor the show turned, metaphorically, into the Uke crying rape and leaving the Seme to scratch their heads at the situation. Seriously, I thought that the female tsunderes were bad, but the male ones can be just as annoying.
For me Hatsukoi started out as an enjoyable show and then turned into somewhat the dreaded show. Of course, if you enjoy BL which would be a logical assumption, then it is a good watch. The issues about the story are somewhat resolved as there will be a sequel leading the once crappy ending into something more acceptable.
Feedback and questions are welcome! Thank you for spending time to read my review!
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Let’s dive deeper into the deep depths of the phenomenon known only as “Sekaiichi Hatsukoi”.
Actually, the depths aren’t that deep. This is one of the shallowest anime I’ve ever watched. Like Junjou Romantica, Sekaiichi Hatsukoi focuses on not one but three different couples. Well, I say “different”. Each of the couples has one “bottom” and one “top”. The bottoms all look the same, as do the tops. It was the same deal in Junjou Romantica. The character designs aren’t very varied, to be perfectly honest. The couples’ dynamics are very similar, too. Often to the point of being completely identical.
You see, the top is in love with the bottom for some reason or another. The bottom is completely clueless about this affection until the top sexually harasses the bottom in some way or another. The bottom then goes into full-blown tsundere mode, as he completely ignores the top’s advances, while said top keeps going “WHY DO YOU NOT ACCEPT MY FEELINGS” or “I WILL MAKE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH ME” with occasional additional sexual harassment. Repeat this formula twice and et voila! You have a 12 episode yaoi series.
How wondrous! How magnificent!
Okay, there’s a slight bit more to it than that. I actually had high hopes for the third couple, which seemed to be basically… based on physical attraction and nothing more. Of course, by the end of their introductory episode those hopes were dashed and it was on to the aforementioned formula. But enough about that. If you’ve seen Junjou Romantica you know full well what to expect.
On to the other aspects of this work of art.
The art and animation is rather lackluster for 2011. I mean, okay, it’s Studio DEEN. They’re not exactly the most financially stable studio. Hell, they’re not even the best known for high quality stuff. Anyone see Higurashi? That was a very ugly show in more ways than one. Basically, it looks exactly like Junjou Romantica, a show from 2008. Not terribly ugly, but not exactly breathtaking.
As for the BGM, I hardly even noticed it. I’m not too hot on the ending theme, but the opening theme, sung by Shuuhei Kita, is admittedly very catchy.
The characters are about as three-dimensional as a piece of paper being ironed while being run over with a steamroller made of pancakes, but they do have some rather nice voices. I mean, Hiroshi Kamiya. He can make just about anything better with his… very lovely voice. Too bad his character is relevant for all of one episode.
Now, if you liked Junjou Romantica, you’ll probably like Sekaiichi Hatsukoi. I mean, it’s pretty much the exact same thing, but with less steamy gay sex. Junjou Romantica’s absolutely hilarious fits of melodrama are still on display here, but either they’re just not as amusing or I’ve been desensitized towards them. At any rate, Sekaiichi Hatsukoi isn’t too bad a way to kill some time.
Just don’t go in expecting anything with substance.
You will be sorely let down.
I give this show a 6/10. It’s unremarkable but I kind of like it, even though I’m not exactly in its target demographic. Unless I’ve somehow turned into a 13 year old girl overnight.
That would be an interesting experience. More interesting than this anime, at least.
MAL Score: 7.85
The exciting antics of Wagnaria return as more ridiculous incidents occur, friendships are deepened, and new feelings are discovered. In addition to Souta Takanashi and his wacky co-workers, more eccentric personalities join the family restaurant: Haruna, Hyougo Otoo’s missing wife, who has a habit of getting hopelessly lost through the sewer system; Kirio Yamada, Aoi’s older brother, who is able to withstand Mahiru Inami’s deadly punches; and twins Youhei and Mitsuki Mashiba, Kyouko Shirafuji’s juniors who do not get along.
Absurdity, romance, and hilarity are all on the menu for the Wagnaria family restaurant!
How everything begins, and why everything happens. (Skip if you already read synopsis)
Following last season’s end, Takanashi continues to work on Wagnaria with his fellow co-workers and bosses, dealing with his own family affairs meanwhile. Here, the relationship between co-workers goes slightly better, but just enough to not involve any serious romance affairs, but also to make new gags to crack a laugh from time to time.
Some animes makes time pass faster when watching them, and some do the opposite.
Oh, it’s good. Believe me. As I said, it doesn’t have a concrete story or goal to archieve on each episode, but even so, you’ll get dragged in one of the many sub-plots, normally involving 2 characters, and you’ll eventually worry about them, sympathize with them, or simply laugh as the situation gets incredibly awkward to one of them.
Every episode has about 3 “semi-stories” in it, so you’ll never get stuck in something that doesn’t go on or simply get the feeling nothing’s really happening there.
–Story and Characters Evolution–
Story (usually) grows as time passes, but how about the characters?
Hard to say, actually. Comparing to the last season, most people is basically the same, with their same strange habits and same unrequited loves. But, during the season, things change a little. Inami, as she gets better at controlling her androphobia, Takanashi begins to deal better with non-chibi woman, Yachiyo starts to get closer to Satou, and so on.
Exactly what it means. What I think about the anime ^^
Some people says watching an anime without a story is like reading a book about a normal old man: you get nothing out of it….well, half true…but does it really matter? Really? I watched this anime just a couple of months ago, and I laughed every 4 minutes of it, and just because of this little fact I became so addicted to Working. Indeed, most animes have their gag scenes and phrases, but on Working, it never gets old or repetitive, and even on apparently normal scenes, it throws something all of the sudden just to make you laugh.
The visuals are gorgeous as always, the soundtrack is pretty much the same, the new characters are just as complex and well balanced between crazy and realistic as the others, and of course, you’ll have lots of fun watching the anime
— Score and Recommendation–
Final score to me and to what people I would recommend.
If you don’t care about story and just want to go in to meet crazy characters and a little of their lives, welcome in. Otherwise, better go watch some other anime.
I′m not really that strict when it comes to anime with no ‘goal’ and story line. If it has a great art, music and set of characters – I′ll watch it. And of course, I need to rely on my enjoyment, if it′s not pleasing enough to make me smile, drop it. Working!! Is a really great and funny anime, with a simple sense of humor and jokes. At first, I wasn′t really paying any heed to Working!! because I thought this anime is just a mediocre and will be boring as hell – well I was totally wrong at all the points.
Talk about story, this anime doesn′t really have what you would call a ‘plot’, neither does this story have a goal that they need to aim and complete at all costs. If you don′t like shows with no story and just full of gags, this isn′t for you. But hey, this one′s different – by different I mean really different. Truly, Slice of Life and Comedy mix is one the best combination of genres in a show.
What about the characters?
The characters in Working!! are all great, they have their own personalities that most probably suit their images and outer appearance really well; Working!! has a great mix and set of characters – Popura who is as cute as a hamster, Takanashi or Katanashi as referred to by Popura who is a lolicon — in which he is denying strongly by stating that he just likes cute things/kids. Yachiyo, a closed-eye character who is very naive and is in-love with the Manager, Kyoko, who is not really doing her job and is just eating all day. Satou, who is a blonde-haired handsome dude. Souma-san who has a radiant smiling face and Inami who has an androphobia – let′s say she′s a bit of a Tsundere and cute (but not as cute as Popura) but her androphobia sickness is pissing me off really really bad.
The characters are very like-able, though at some point, you may find of them as annoying and irritating, it can′t be helped since not all creations are perfect, and every person has something they will not like, based on their preferences.
What I like about Working!! is its simpleness – the genres are balanced and distributed really well. The art is very simple and clean, along with the cute melodic intros and outros which are very catchy. I also like the comedic flashbacks with a mix of light drama in them; and the introductions of the new characters—who are only supporting—is also very much like-able. Because their intros have a mix of light seriousness and a touch of comedy.
I really like comedies, especially when there are parodies involved, like in Gintama. Though the genre of Working!! doesn′t involve parody, it′s still very much funny, like so. Though if you′re a type of person who barely laughs, I doubt you′ll go along with the gags and jokes, if I do say so. Nevertheless, the slice of life share of genre, is also quite much on par with the comedy here — if there′s a slice-of-life type of scene in the anime, rest assured that there will be an incoming gag and comedic insert. The comedy and gags will never ever be missing.
The thing that I didn′t like about Working!! is its lack of story line, given that there isn′t one. It′s not that I really dislike it, the things is, I hoped for a more great development with the characters, along with their ‘story’; And at some point, I also hoped for romance to bloom, given once again that there isn′t one. If there were a romance to bloom, I think that lots of people would really like this show more, as much as they like as it is now.
As far as you′re concerned, I really enjoyed watching Working!! despite the fact that it has no plot and goal involved, the substitute is your laugh and your smile. I′m really glad I didn′t follow others′ opinion to check out a new refreshing environment – which was Working!! If you′re hesitating to watch Working!! because of other people′s review, do not hesitate. Follow your own eyes and your own preference, who knows, you might get hooked on something you thought that wasn′t worth the time and effort. For me, it was totally worth it.
Ironically, everything that I was looking forward to this fall season turned out to be absolutely mediocre, and everything I didn’t care for turned out to be pretty decent. Knowing this, I picked up Working’!! without watching the previous season, and surprisingly, it wasn’t difficult to quickly get accustomed to the characters.
From what I’ve noticed, several factors make Working’!! a “good” anime; however, a few others hinder it from becoming a “great” anime. Working’!! has a cast of great characters, although they’re not the most original and developed; they all remain easily likable. Now, as opposed to many other slice-of-life’s; relationships between the characters tend to stay almost completely static, with a few smaller developments towards the end. This normally wouldn’t be a “bad” thing in a slice-of-life, but it’s disappointing to see the possible “romances” at a halt, especially when there’s so much chemistry going on between the characters.
But what else makes Working’!! a “good” anime? The centerpiece in the anime besides the slice-of-life aspect is the comedy. Now how is the comedy dealt with? It’s actually dealt with in a rather unusual way. In comparison to other anime such as Seitokai Yakuindomo and Haganai where the basis of the majority of the jokes are vulgar, the jokes in Working’!! actually incorporate a different feel. The jokes aren’t really offensive, which opens the show to a much broader audience.
Now, the greatest factor that sets Working’!! apart from many other comedy anime, is the lack of ecchi. Nowadays, obnoxious fan service and ecchi basically go hand in hand in comedy anime, it’s somewhat disappointing. But Working’!! is basically void of all the irritating aspects of it. It’s a rarity, and it should be appreciated.
Objective Rating: 6/10. It’s a good comedy anime. It’s episodic, you could easily pick up the anime on episode eight, as easily as you could on episode one. It’s constantly enjoyable, but there aren’t any episodes that leave you breathless, it’s constantly good, but it’s never extraordinary, or great. It leaves you in a good mood after watching it most of the time.
Subjective Rating: 7/10: It’s a really enjoyable watch. The characters create a familial atmosphere, and it’s hard to not keep a smile while watching it.
6: Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II
English: The World God Only Knows II
Japanese: 神のみぞ知るセカイ II
MAL Score: 7.91
Keima Katsuragi, the “God of Conquest,” returns to his quest of expelling runaway spirits that have possessed the hearts of women. Still stuck in his contract with the demon Elsie, he must continue to utilize the knowledge he has gained from mastering multitudes of dating simulators and chase out the phantoms that reside within by capturing the hearts of that which he hates most: three-dimensional girls.
However, the God of Conquest has his work cut out for him. From exorcising karate practitioners and student teachers to the arrival of Elsie’s best friend from Hell, he is up against a wide array of girls that will test his wit and may even take him by surprise. Though he would much rather stick to the world of 2D, he is trapped in lousy reality, and so Keima must trudge forward in his conquest of love.
The second season has the same look and feel of the first season as our “Capture God” Keima continue hunting for lost souls with Elsea. The duo goes after 3 girls this season: A tsundere sporty, a cooldere classmate, and finally a student teacher! This season certainly poses bigger challenge for our heroes.
Then, there is the second girl demon. With exposition not needed this season, two whole episodes and a filler dedicated to introduce her.
Once again, Keima’s game logic is put to test in real life. The absurdity of his value is still funny as ever, and the animation and sound do not disappoint in delivering the comedy.
Visually, it has not changed much from last season. The art in this series is generic style drawn to perfection, and characters are as visually pleasing as they could possibly be. The level of detail, especially the eyes and lighting, may even have improved. Camera movements are dynamic in action scenes, and there is not a moment of boredom.
OP song this season has lost the epic sense of the first season, but still accompanied by jaw-dropping overproduced opening animation that’s nothing short of amazing. Voicing once again is right on, and perfect sound mixing with appropriate BGM playing on every scene.
The second season got off to a slow start with Kusunoki, the lone member and captain of girl’s karate club. Her arc turned out to be very corny, but the ‘Dragon Quest’ recap in the first episode was absolutely magnificent. I would say it was a sign that the production staff has plenty of creativity left in store.
Next up is Haqua, Elsea’s former classmate. Instead of going after a set target, Keima helps her track down a loose soul she failed to capture. Haqua’s character was rather dull, generic clumsy type, but this arc goes on to explain the consequence of letting loose soul grow, and further emphasizes the importance of what the main characters have been doing.
Chihiro arc is similar to Shiori arc from the last season, with slow, bittersweet youth drama. The direction in this arc was by far the best this season, and once again, they went with a different pattern. Instead of straightforward “conquering” her, Keima helps her conquer another guy. The ending was obvious, but I liked how they changed things up so this series doesn’t feel as repetitive as it could’ve been.
Finally, Jun’s arc was the conquering of a teacher in training. The teacher is a stereotype teacher in popular TV dorama like ‘3-B Kinpachi-sensei’ or ‘Gokusen’, with high ideals about tough-love and trust, but things doesn’t go like dorama for her. This arc had the best character development and a positive message.
The second season is not quite as good as the first, but it shows Keima and Elsea tackling the problems using different approaches. After two seasons, this series still feels fresh. A sequel is not announced in the finale this time, but I’ll definitely see it to the end if it ever happens.
This all gives an interesting twist to the “Monster of the Week” dynamic, in that instead of having the main character fight monsters every week, the series has him seduce women.
There’s a nice mix of drama and comedy; most of the drama and serious aspects come from the emotional issues that the love interests face–whereas most of the comedy comes from the wacky personalities of Keima and Elsee. The transitions from dramatic to comedic scenes can be abrupt, but most of the time it doesn’t feel too forced.
During a comedic scene, the characters (particularly Keima and Elsee) often switch to a much more cartoony art style, which helps to add comedic affect. There’s also a lot of shout outs to various media, which will probably warrant a chuckle or two if you manage to understand any of the references.
The two protoganists of Keima and Elsee, although actually quite likable, come off as a bit one-dimensional. Keima is a genius boy wonder who considers reality “a shitty game,” and Elsee is an adorable demon who screws-up at everything…and there’s not really much else to these characters, as there is barely any character development throughout the series. This is justifiable in that the anime only covers the first 40 chapters of the manga, which as of this writing is an ongoing series with 174 chapters released. So when watching this 24 episode series, think of it as the beginning of a larger story than it’s own standalone thing.
The level of enjoyment watching this sort of depends on how willing you are to suspend disbelief to the fact that Keima uses his knowledge to win the heart of a woman not once, but multiple times. The fact alone that Keima uses his knowledge of dating sims to win the heart of women will probably come as a little implausible. Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see how Keima strategize, and to see *how* he uses his knowledge of gal games.
With each story-arc by itself, each of the heroine’s love for Keima doesn’t really feel forced or unnatural–especially when you consider that these are women who have their emotional weaknesses amplified by an infesting demon. Each love interest is quite likable, and goes through a fair amount of character development; its somewhat remarkable considering that none of these characters get more than three episodes of screen time.
Overall The World God Only Knows is a fun and enjoyable series, albeit one that might challenge your suspension of disbelief depending on how you look at it (although only a little.) It has a nice blend of drama and comedy, and manages to make good use of its premise. If you like romance-centered cartoons, you’ll probably like this.
Overall: 6/10 (rounded down from 6.25)
+ Very funny and has good humour
+ Good ED Theme
+ One slight plot twist in the Chihiro arc
+ Very good character design with many variations
+ Strong male main lead
+ Good character growth
+ Some touching and emotional / romantic scenes
– Lack of overarching / engaging plot
– Lack of some coherence in the Nagase / Kusunoki arc
– Lousy OP Theme
– Lack of some important character development, especially in main characters
– Can be a bit boring towards the middle
– 2 filler episodes out of 12 of them
There are 4 main plot arcs to the story, 1 of them being an encounter with Haqua and a gigantic loose soul, and 3 of them being the regular “capturing” of loose souls by making girls fall in love with Keima – Kusunoki, Chihiro and Nagase. Once again, there is a lack of an overall plot line, though Haqua does shed a bit of light on the extent of this “loose soul” capturing contract – 60,000 more – but this adds nothing to the plot whatsoever, neither does it actually give us an indication about whether the end is coming.
The first arc, Keima encounters Kusunoki – a martial arts / karate tough girl who is basically struggling to reconcile her feminine liking for kawaii things (like cats and clothing), with her masculine fighter training and background. Nothing very ingenious here, sadly. Keima himself didn’t do much except take her out for a fun date which was honestly more for comic laughter than to drive to plot. In the end, Kusunoki resolved it on her own by “fighting” with her feminine side, eventually leading to an awkward compromise that, to me, didn’t really solve the main problem. Perhaps this anime was created too long ago and the writers were still stuck in their own gender stereotypes – but yeah, this plot arc didn’t shine too much. Also, Kusunoki randomly being “forced” awkwardly to kiss Keima at the end was very unconvincing.
In the second arc, Haqua comes in, and this is where things start getting interesting. She happens to drop by after failing to catch a loose soul, then gets Elsie’s help to capture the loose soul – after quite a lot of cooperation and hard work. Keima doesn’t really do much in this particular arc, which is actually quite good in my opinion, since it shows that the actual “demons” do have some ability to capture loose souls on their own – as long as the soul has not possessed anyone. There is also talk about how loose souls can possess even demons, and there is greater clarity about the difference between the civilized demons and the more “wild / loose” ones who wreck havoc on the earth – so that’s some much needed plot development right there. (+1 to interest, +1 to depth)
In the third arc, we get another interesting girl – this time by the name of Chihiro. Everything about her is uninteresting – she’s basically a wallflower / background character with no exceptional skills and nothing (basically, this character is someone the audience can empathize with the most). The plot for this one, however, gets a slight twist, which I thought was good, though it was kind of expected. Keima starts off trying to fill up Chihiro’s heart by helping her to make her crush fall in love with her – but it turns out that Chihiro turns back at the last moment, and Keima is forced to make her fall in love with him instead. I also think that out of all the girls so far, Chihiro is by far the most “realistic” capture of them all. As an ordinary girl with no particularly special powers bestowed on her, she reacts convincingly to everything that Keima throws at her. (+1 for depth, +1 for coherence)
In the fourth arc, the final one, we have student teacher Nagase, who used to be on the school’s basketball team captain – but disbanded the team after the members left the squad because Nagase was “too passionate” about basketball. I really didn’t like how this arc played out because it really didn’t make much sense. Nagase, as a teacher, tries to help Keima to get off his gaming during class – but she is convinced that this is because Keima is “lonely”. Clearly, Nagase has not seen the interaction between Keima and Elsie and how they are always inseparable.
After many awkward encounters with Nagase during lunch, in class playing games, Keima ends up going to watch a pro-wrestling match with Nagase – and he does so by stealing her seat, then making her share seats with him. First of all, you can’t possibly fit two people there without disturbing the rest of the people watching, and second of all, how the heck did Keima even know that Nagase was going to some pro-wrestling match? I know Elsie has information on Nagase, but this is only limited to background info, interest, hobbies, and doesn’t actually reflect what is going on in Nagase’s calendar / notifications / planner right?
After that match, Nagase does one last passionate thing in class before breaking down and heading to the basketball locker room, only to find Keima hiding inside her old locker – which is not only creepy, but almost impossible under any case. I’m not talking about whether Keima could actually fit inside, but if you check the time that Nagase had to reach the locker room and Keima, you would clearly see that Nagase had a headstart of around 30 seconds. Assuming both of them went directly to the basketball locker room – Nagase would have reached first, and there was no way that Keima could have squeezed himself into that locker in time, unnoticed, without leaving any traces such as an open door, a locker, or anything else whatsoever. Although to confirm this, we must have more information about how the “dummy swap” spell by Elsie actually works.
In any case, after Nagase was cheered up by her students, at the end, she probably had no reason whatsoever to go back and kiss Keima. This probably wasn’t even part of the plan. Keima had no intention of kissing her or romantically proposing to her – and somehow he was just there at the right time so that the loose soul could be captured? It was very forced toward the end of this arc, I felt.
We’re not even very sure if they went for the marathon in the end, because remember that Nagase signed all of them up without their permission? Firstly, is it really possible to sign an entire class up for a marathon without sufficient details like shirt sizes / NOK details / even making payment? Even if Nagase just used the school’s database of students – she would have to fork out close to $1000 just to register the entire class. The anime also never explicitly said anything about Nagase cancelling the marathon or the class going for the marathon in the end – they really glossed over this plot point, didn’t they?
As a whole, the story lacks quite a bit of depth, coherence, and only 1 of the plot arcs was actually very interesting. The rest were “ordinary” and were not very special compared to the previous captures.
Animation: 2/3 – The animations were spot-on, striking and very colourful
Aesthetics: 3/3 – I really loved the cute theme
OP Sequence: 2/2 – Very well choreographed intro scenes
ED Sequence: 1/2 – Nice, but could have been more interesting
OP Theme: 0/2 – Really bad. Stop it with those horrible English intros please.
ED Theme: 2/2 – Really good, upbeat and catchy. Why isn’t this the opening theme??
Background Music: 2/2 – These were mostly classical, and were used in all the romantic portions of the anime. They suit the mood really well.
Additional Themes: 2/4 – The comic / upbeat theme that plays at every start of an episode, the light hearted one, is really comfortable to listen to.
Once again, we will look at the main characters, Keima and Elsie, first.
Since the first season, Keima has gotten slightly more used to all this catching real-life girls stuff that it’s already second nature, and he’s already accepted his fate that he pretty much has to embark on a new mission every time the detector goes off “Doro doro doro…” As a character though, he has grown slightly, as by the end of the anime, he starts to accept reality more – and says that there might be an “ideal” path along the very sad real world that he must find. Keima himself however, still doesn’t have much of a backstory, and we don’t find out much about any other sides / back stories to his character – as not much of his life other than gaming is shown, or perhaps his entire life is just games. Keima as character remains interesting though, especially in the way that he strategizes his captures, though most of it this time, may have just been due to dumb luck. (+1 to interest, +1 to growth)
Elsie, too, has not changed much. She’s still her usual hyper-active useless self, and we honestly don’t know much about her past either – save for the fact that she was a classmate of Haqua – but it doesn’t tell us anything about Elsie.
Haqua, a new character in this series, is also another “tsundere” type, but maybe less so. She does come with some backstory – a demon who aces all the theory tests back in school, through sheer hard work and determination, but when it comes to the real world, she falls flat and can’t seem to replicate all the successes she had in the past – so that’s good, and it really helps to explain her frustrations / dissatisfaction with her current situation. She isn’t that interesting of a character though, and she also doesn’t exhibit much growth. (+1 to depth)
Moving on to the 3 main heroines, Kusunoki is another “tsundere”, but this time, it’s one that can really kick ass. Definitely one of my favourite character archetypes – the fighter girl – made famous by FFVII’s Tifa, that shows that pretty girls can pack a punch that will send you flying across the room. Kusunoki show’s some growth after doing girly stuff on a date with Keima, and also after “embracing” and “accepting” her feminine side. Kusunoki, in this manner has two sides to her, and makes her more multi-faceted than most other girls. (+1 for growth, +1 for uniqueness)
Chihiro, is the other less likeable character, that nobody likes and nobody dislikes either. She’s just the stereotypically normal girl with stereotypically normal interests and dreams – but since she is this way, you can really empathize with this girl – how she always feels inferior to everyone else who can do things better than she can, how she loses to someone in every department, singing, sports, studying, looks, you name it. But she eventually grows out of this depressing state and moves on to decide to start a band, despite knowing that she sucks at singing, just because she wants to follow her heart. (+1 for growth)
Finally, we have Nagase, the character that I’m not convinced would do so many crazy stuff just because she’s passionate about trying to get others to agree with her / follow along with her or trying to “help others” in ways that are usually over-the-top and hence uncomfortable for many people. Her personality is actually very linear – sure she has an interesting back story, but it only goes to prove one point – that Nagase suffers from “overdose of passion” syndrome and can’t understand that you can’t impose ideals on other people.(+1 for depth)
Nagase isn’t that interesting of a character either – and I thought that what Keima did with her was not anywhere near romantic enough to warrant that kiss at the end. All he really did was talk to her in a basketball court and told her to stop imposing her ideals on people, yet continue living out her own ideals for herself, and then it was straight cut to a scene where all her students came over to apologize and encourage her.
I definitely enjoyed this comedy, once again, with so many laughs here and there and all the funny cutscenes with Keima explaining things to Elsie who always has that clueless cute look on her face :3 The humour is really very good and is one of the few things that this anime executes perfectly. (3 points for good humour)
In terms of romance, I would say that there were some touching scenes – especially the scene on the boat with Keima and Chihiro. That was probably the one that I felt the most emotions for. The other two kisses by Kusunoki and Nagase were too forced, so I can’t give the romance bit too high this time around. Kusunoki going on a date with Keima was -slightly- romantic though, and it definitely was enjoyable to watch Kusunoki’s reactions to cute stuff (2 points for romance)
However, I have to say that there were honestly some parts of the show where I felt bored – mainly in the Chihiro arc where it seemed very circular in nature – like they were going nowhere, and the background music was so slow that it was making me fall asleep. Luckily, this was only for one of the arcs. (2 points for pacing)
Unfortunately there were some filler episodes – namely episode 8 and 12, so I can’t give it any bonus points.
Kami Nomi 2 seemed interesting, but as a whole, it was inferior to the first season. But I guess it’s still necessary to watch because of the characters who will be become main characters again in Kami Nomi 3 – so it’s worth watching if you intend to continue the series to season 3, which I believe will be the best out of the three.
5: Sekaiichi Hatsukoi 2
English: Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi – World’s Greatest First Love 2
Japanese: 世界一初恋 2
MAL Score: 7.91
First loves are messy. While settling in as a shoujo manga editor at the famous Marukawa Publishing House, Ritsu Onodera is quite troubled. Working under the stern and superb Masamune Takano is hard enough as it is. However, Masamune is not only Ritsu’s first love from middle school but he also suddenly declares that he will make Ritsu fall for him again.
Unknown to them, another editor in the department, Yoshiyuki Katori, is in a relationship with the popular manga artist Chiaki Yoshino. The carefree Chiaki fails to notice, however, that his high school friend—Yuu Yanase—thinks of him as more than a friend. The stoic but caring Hatori will not surrender his love so easily.
Falling in love for the first time when you are 30 is certainly troublesome. Shouta Kisa, yet another editor, is going out with 21-year-old Kou Yukina, an art student. Despite Yukina’s assurances, Kisa cannot help but doubt whether someone like himself is truly worthy of his younger, “sparkling” boyfriend.
The second season is better and has more plot than the first in my opinion. What excited me about the second season is that it has plenty twists in every couples’ story. I personally enjoyed Kisa and the book keeper’s story. It has a strong impact and heavy drama which will probably lead fujoshis in tears. Although there also cliffhangers which will inevitably make you hate the anime but all in all the story is what delighted me the most about SH 2.
Sorry I had to give this a tad lower score than the others but hear me out first. My reason kinda sucks actually, it’s because sometimes I get confused with the characters and I can’t tell which is which! It’s because some characters look almost the same. Same hair, same eyes, but, maybe it’s just me. I don’t know! I get confused a lot! Sorry but the art is just okay for me.
The soundtracks were cute although I didn’t take a liking to them at first.
I gave this a perfect score simply because they were all perfect. Everyone of them, although I have my personal favorites, the other characters aren’t to be overlooked. All of the pairings had this unbreakable and promising auras which will keep you wanting more of them. The antagonists were also good.
This anime is very interesting and commendable. Since this is the first yaoi I’ve watched, I don’t have much to compare it with, but it will leave you both laughing and in tears… and peeved.
Is there a problem with this anime? In the fact that it seems that it was written by a homophobe who wanted to ridicule gays and took all stereotypes about gay molesters, aggressive, perverted, the stereotypical division into seme and uke because in a couple two men must be woman and man.
Sekaiichi Hatsukoi’s problem is that the relationship he shows is a toxic hell. They can only be called hysterical, melodramatic, violent, manipulative, clownish, but not romantic. And I can explain it. The end of the first episode is disgusting.
Ritsu drinks at Takano’s house. And it’s okay, but suddenly sexual harassment begins. And Ritsu yells no, stop, but Takano sees what Ritsu is in. He is very drunk, and Takno starts mumbling romantic things in his ear, and suddenly the moment is interrupted. And we have a scene where Ritsu wakes up in bed and doesn’t remember what happened. Do I have to explain such banal things? A drunk person cannot consent to sex! What Takano does? Takano takes advantage of this state by manipulating him to get what he wants. In addition, Ritsu refuses to give him permission. I don’t need to say what it is.
This season differs from the first only in that Ritsu is no longer a victim of sexual harassment 24/7, and is getting a little closer with his “love”.
Takano doesn’t take Ritsu seriously. It shows all the time that you dominate it, it shows its ‘toxic masculinity, because I don’t even know what to call it. They can’t talk normally. Takano does NOT like Ritsu. Instead, talk to sexually harasses him. As in season 1, episode 3, he molested Ritsu or force kissed him. He treats him like a stupid kid, not an equal man and partner. Plus he plays the victim. How? Takano laughed in Ritsu’s face as he confessed his love to him 10 years ago. How is he acting now? Like a bad boy. He thinks Ritsu is a fool because he says something to him all the time like, “Dummy, I know you love me.” In addition, Yokozawa blames Ritsu for Takano’s depression after Ritsu quit him 10 years ago. No, Takano didn’t take Ritsu seriously, and Ritsu has the right to his own limits and doesn’t have to go out with such a person. In addition, Takano is jealous. Not as much as the famous molester, oh sorry writer Usami Akihiko of Junjou Romantica, who wouldn’t let poor Misaki go to meet his friends. He gets so jealous just the thought of seeing Ritsu with other guys. Humor is OK. Kisa and Yukina are great people for whom I give +10 points.
There are sweet moments. Yes, but it’s the same as coming to a crime scene and sprinkling glitter on everything. Or how to say that a tyrant neighbor who beats his wife is good because he kissed her once. It’s a toxic relationship because really cute moms get mixed up with real abuse.
I’m not surprised that Ritsu doesn’t want to deal with him. But this season he likes him more. Apparently, the beloved Stockholm Syndrome is starting to work because I don’t know what else.
I don’t even know what to say. This is better than Romantica? Are you kidding? Just because Romantica is officially a problematic anime that has already shot itself in the leg showing harassment, and more specifically, molestation? Sekaiichi has the SAME in the third episode of the first season. Sex manipulation in Junjou Episode 2? It’s the same in Episode 1 and Season 2. I am shocked because it is already considered good. Sekaiichi is the same garbage, but only less rapey. I am shocked and would not recommend this crap to anyone.
I have reviews for the first season, but I don’t even want to go back to that. I think I explained in TWO reviews why Sekaiichi is not much better, just less rapey and that’s it.
4: Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season
English: Kimi ni Todoke: From Me To You 2
Japanese: 君に届け 2ND SEASON
MAL Score: 8.00
After a momentous New Year’s vacation and with Valentine’s Day approaching, Sawako Kuronuma is beginning to get along with her classmates. However, now that Sawako has realized her romantic feelings for the popular Shouta Kazehaya, she grows hesitant toward giving him obligatory chocolates and decides to not give him any. In turn, Kazehaya, who likes Sawako, feels a distance between them.
As February ends and April arrives, the second year of high school begins for Sawako. Luckily, she ends up in the same class as her friends Ayane Yano and Chizuru Yoshida, along with Kazehaya and his friend Ryuu Sanada, in addition to the newcomer named Kento Miura. When Kento develops an interest in Sawako, Sawako and Kazehaya’s feelings for each other are put to the test.
What really attracted me originally to Kimi ni Todoke was the way it broke the typical shoujo stereotypes and mostly stayed away from them. Instead standing many of them on their heads and having fun with them. It stayed away from love triangles, misunderstandings, and the other typical cockblocks that plague romance anime. This begins to change somewhat from episode one when we are introduced to a new character Kento Miura. A character that could only have one purpose and a type that anyone familiar with the genre could recognize from the start. While in retrospect I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that a rival might make an appearance, I also think that it’s a bit out of character for the series as well. Sawako is just too innocent and simple of a personality to have her heart swayed by the appearance of additional bishies. Though his character doesn’t really pan out the way I feared he would, I am still left wondering if it was even necessary to include him at all.
As much as Kento’s arrival initially annoyed me, the main problem overall with this anime is the frustratingly slow pace. This started to bother me in the first season towards the end but most of the time you just found yourself tapping your cheeks and exclaiming, “Aw, they’re so cute!” However now I found myself more often pounding on the arm of my chair screaming, “Get on with it already!” The constant string of misunderstandings and hand-wringing gets old really fast. There is a limit to how clueless, how bashful, and socially awkward two people can be. And this is the source of most of my frustration with the plot.
However, as much chagrin and annoyance as most of the series’ pacing caused me it’s almost completely offset by how it ends up. All of my expectations were fulfilled as we are treated to a wonderful culmination of their struggles to reach each other’s hearts. We are even treated to something that we rarely get to see in romance stories, the after the confession story.
Another rewarding aspect of this season is the continued growth of Sawako’s character as a normal well adjusted person. As much annoyance as certain characteristics of her personality caused me at times by the end you see a girl who changed quite a bit from the shy and gloomy person at the start of the first season. Even Kazehaya is changed, though it is not as noticeable with his outgoing personality as a shell to cover up his own insecurities.
The rest of the cast remains pretty much unchanged with one notable exception; Kurumi. Her role in this season is greatly diminished but all of her appearances are quite impactful. Each one displays an element of her character, from jealousy and vindictiveness to vulnerability and honesty. Over the course of the series she manages to both stand in Sawako’s way and to help her get around her. Though you could say they are technically not “friends”, this kind of tough love probably changed Sawako in more ways than any of her other friends managed to. I think that everyone can relate to Kurumi’s feelings and her unrequited love. It’s hard to not feel a little sorry for her, but while she’s still not over Kazehaya by the end its clear she is going to be ok. Unlike most rejected romance characters, it’s hard to imagine Kurumi pining for Kazehaya for the rest of her life.
Artistically there is really no change from this season to the past one. It remains the most beautiful shoujo romance probably ever made. If there is any fault to be had it is with the overuse of Sawako’s chibi form. While I myself happen to love chibi style animation, I felt they were used inappropriately at times. Particularly in some of the more impactful scenes which ended up taking away from them. The music and voice acting remains top notch, MAY’s “Kimi ni Todoke” ED song I think is the best one of the entire series. Mamiko Noto’s performance is also quite memorable. I really believe this is a defining role for her, almost as if the character had been created specifically for her. I cant imagine any other seiyuu voicing Sawako.
Overall the 2nd Season of Kimi ni Todoke is an excellent conclusion to the series. Though even with its excellent ending it never feels like it equals the quality of the first one. Combined with the frustratingly slow pace and an implausible string of misunderstandings, makes the experience as a whole uneven. Despite these warts if you loved the first season your still going to like and perhaps love this as well.
Before you skip over this because of the low score, do me the courtesy of reading through the review, first.
I came into the second season immediately after watching the first. It might be a good idea to read my review of the first season, to give you some context.
Even if you don’t, the short story is that I really, really liked the first season. I was this close to giving it a 9, which for me is an amazing grade.
The point is, I came into the second season with very, very high hopes and expectations.
They were not met. In fact, they were crushed.
Let me get some good points out of the way. The animation is still very good, with some very powerful moments here and there.
The music, surprisingly, fit in a bit better and actually left an impression at times rather than being nonexistent like in the first season. The closing song sounded better this time, too.
Now, on to the plot:
Disappointing first few episodes. In fact, the first 7 episodes were a total disaster. Cheap drama created by characters thinking but not actually saying what would fix an otherwise simple situation.
Total reboot of the relationship, invalidating the last several episodes of the first season and cheapening the plot overall for pointless drama.
A lot of the things that I hate about drama anime surface on the second season, while they were absent the first. Namely, it’s the retarded misunderstandings. The sort of situations that arise only because a character took something someone said completely the wrong way, or didn’t say something simple yet vital. These sort of things are easy, cheap drama generators and would never happen in real life because in real life people are not that stupid.
Similarly, Sawako seems to have taken the same steep dive the show itself has. There is no sign of the backbone that she had in the first season. She’s turned into the depressed, passive and utterly stupid classic anime chick who believes whoever’s mouth is moving at the time. What the hell? Sawako in season1 spoke her mind and, even though she was afraid, always tried her best for what she wanted to achieve and wasn’t afraid to contradict other people. What happened to that? For f-‘s sake, even Kurumi admitted that she didn’t expect Sawako to be such a mindless sheep.
Similarly, Kazehaya seems to have realized he’s starring in an anime and started doing all the retarded shit anime characters sometimes do, even though he’d made it a point to contradict those expectations in season 1. Things like being led around by the nose by everyone who speaks to him, having no personal conviction, and not respecting other people’s right to a decision, like he demanded in season 1 for himself. The latter episodes kind of fix this, but the damage is done by then.
I mean, what the actual f-? Did they seriously make more than one episode’s worth of drama based on the misunderstanding that both think the other meant a different definition of ‘like’? How can that elicit any emotion other than bafflement from the viewer? How are we supposed to empathize with the characters when their only problems consist of having exactly 0 communication skills?
When the answer ‘Does your anime’s conflict get solved if the characters say a single reasonable sentence to each other?’ is ‘Yes’ then you’re doing something wrong, goddammit.
I wanted to drop it on the first 4 episodes. I really wanted to drop it on episode 5. I should have dropped it on episode 6. I kept going because I’m the kind of guy who can’t look away from a train wreck, and because after watching the first season I at least wanted to see how the second one concluded.
The episodes after 6-7 seem to merely be trying to reel back in the shit parade. They’re not bad. In fact, they’re fine. However, that doesn’t erase the fact that none of this should have happened. Much as I enjoyed the episodes from 8 onwards, the fact remains. The last few episodes are spent resolving situations that arose out of pure and unadulterated stupidity that are definitely not the kind of thing I was expecting coming into this.
The last episode is appropriately heartwarming, I’ll give the series that. However, imagine the last two episodes being, in fact, the FIRST two, and then the rest of the season being the two of them exploring their new relationship. There was no need for the pointless and outright silly drama of the first 7 episodes.
The fact that the last few episodes were good kind of softened me up by the time I finished it, but it doesn’t change the fact that more than half of the season was garbage. I want to rate it high because of the last two episodes, and I want to rate it very, very low because of the first few.
I guess I didn’t do myself any favors by having high expectations.
As it is, I’ll just sigh and give it a 5/10.
I thought that in the second season Kuronuma and Kazehaya would be dating early on and that the episodes would be about their relationship together. When I realized that it was going to be twelve episodes of them doing nothing, it was pretty frustrating.
In the first season, I liked all of the characters (especially the protagonist Kuronuma Sawako) because I found them all funny and enjoyable. By the fourth episode of the second season, Kuronuma became obnoxious. There was no plot development at all in this season, and it seemed like every episode was exactly the same, with the characters restating their feelings of, “I like him/her but what if it ruins our friendship!”
I really enjoyed the first season of this show, but I was surprised when they didn’t get together in the end since we had already reached the conclusion of “they both like each other” quite a few episodes prior.
There was no need to drag this out so long. If this was all that was happening, they should have just gotten together at the end of the first season and had no second season.
Overall, even though I liked the ending and I was happy to see them get together, the frustration of seeing nothing happen for twelve episodes straight was a waste of time and I think this season was a waste.
Japanese: GOSICK -ゴシック-
MAL Score: 8.08
Kazuya Kujou is a foreign student at Saint Marguerite Academy, a luxurious boarding school in the Southern European country of Sauville. Originally from Japan, his jet-black hair and dark brown eyes cause his peers to shun him and give him the nickname “Black Reaper,” based on a popular urban legend about the traveler who brings death in the spring.
On a day like any other, Kujou visits the school’s extravagant library in search of ghost stories. However, his focus soon changes as he becomes curious about a golden strand of hair on the stairs. The steps lead him to a large garden and a beautiful doll-like girl known as Victorique de Blois, whose complex and imaginative foresight allows her to predict their futures, now intertwined.
With more mysteries quickly developing—including the appearance of a ghost ship and an alchemist with the power of transmutation—Victorique and Kujou, bound by fate and their unique skills, have no choice but to rely on each other.
So what was the great innovation brought forth by the anime industry? Why loli detectives of course!
Originally a light novel series by Sakuraba Kazuki, Gosick (which may be a play on the word “Gothic”), is set in the fictional European country of Sauville where Kujo Kazuya, the third son of a high ranking officer in the Japanese Imperial Army, begins attending the prestigious St. Marguerite Academy. He quickly discovers that almost everybody in the country is enamoured with tales of the supernatural, and one of the strangest tells of a golden fairy who lives at the top of a tower …
The plot is generally well constructed and the basic premise is actually quite interesting, so it’s unfortunate that the narrative is a bit too linear for the majority of the series. In addition to this there are several rather blatant attempts at moving the story forward by inserting some obvious tokens into specific episodes, many of which could have been handled in a far more subtle manner.
A major issue when adapting a written work into a visual form is that it will undoubtedly lose something in the process, and that seems to be the case here. Part of the problem stems from the fact that certain aspects of a given story will lose a degree of mystery once they’re converted into an image, and this is even more prevalent in animation. While experienced authors are able to hide certain clues or foreshadowing elements in a body of text, once the story is adapted for anime the differentiation between foreground and background becomes far more pronounced. This has the effect of “highlighting” the more important parts of certain scenes, and when taken in conjunction with the linear plot, it makes several of the seemingly impossible to solve mysteries relatively easy to deduce.
That said, there is quite a bit of sleuthing going on, and the variety of cases on offer should tickle the fancy of many a mystery buff.
Because the series is set in 1920’s Europe, Gosick has a very continental look to it that’s reflected in the clothing, buildings, and even modes of transportation, and the majority of the background artwork is implemented rather well. There has also been a decent attempt at giving the majority of the characters a vaguely European caste to their features, and this can sometimes contrast nicely with the somewhat stereotypical design used for Kujo. The one oddity is Victorique as everything from her height to her clothing is very different to that of everyone around her, which raises an interesting thought. Gosick is, at heart, a detective drama, and in the spirit of tradition the leading sleuth must have something that visibly sets them apart from everyone else. In this case, it’s a loli wearing ruffles, lace, and a charming array of bonnets.
The animation is pretty decent for the most part, and the majority of character movements have been implemented rather well. Unfortunately Bones haven’t really pushed the boat out with this anime so there are a few telltale signs of inattention here and there.
Gosick features a variety of classically themed background music, and while the majority of the tracks reflect the serious tone of the show, there are a few lighthearted pieces scattered here and there. The opening theme, Destin Histoire by Yoshiki☆Lisa, is a J-pop/rock song that seems a bit too action oriented for a series that relies more on utilising the character’s brains instead of their brawn. In addition to this the stylised montage that accompanies it drops a few too many hints about events that occur in the story, which is unfortunate as otherwise it’s a well made and choreographed piece of work. As for the two ending themes by Komine Lisa, Resuscitated Hope (episodes 1 to 12), is a pop ballad that seems to fit better with the tone of Gosick, both musically and in terms of the visuals used for the end sequence. The second song, Unity, is the one that stands out the most as it’s far more melancholy and dramatic than the other two tracks, and the accompanying imagery reflects the darker turn the series takes after the halfway point.
The acting is pretty decent for the most part, with Yuuki Aoi and Eguchi Takuya performing rather well in the roles of Victorique and Kujo (and it’s actually surprising to find a tsundere loli that isn’t being played by Kugumiya Rie). The rest of the cast also handle their roles passing well, but like so many other titles out there, the script could have been done better. The dialogue is sometimes childish or stunted, and there’s a lack of cohesiveness that appears during several conversations which can make the characters seem … lacking.
Possibly the biggest surprise in Gosick is that there’s actually a fair degree of justification for Victorique being not only a loli, but also tsundere. Kujo is the typical “blank canvas” used in so many anime to highlight just how much he develops by the end of the series, but in all honesty neither of the leads is anything really special. The fun actually starts when one looks at the supporting characters as there’s literally a wealth of personalities and ambitions on display. While there is some growth to be found for both Victorique and Kujo, it’s the amount of characterisation that has gone into the minor roles that makes this series interesting to watch.
That said, the show does sometimes play fast and loose with certain events, and there are several occasions where the situation has clearly been contrived to develop a particular character in a certain way.
Gosick may have its flaws, but that doesn’t mean it’s a terrible show. There’s a decent amount of detective work in the series that raises it above the likes of Tantei Opera Milky Holmes and Hidan No Aria, and while the mysteries on offer can sometimes be easy to deduce, there are also a few that contains some interesting twists on the stories that they’ve inspired. That said, this isn’t an anime for everyone, mainly because it relies more on the characters using their heads rather than the usual shounen tactic of solving problems by hitting them until they’ve gone away. In addition to this the element of romance in the story can often feel more like an afterthought, something added to give the characters a bit of added dimension.
Somewhat surprisingly, I found that I enjoyed this anime a lot more than I thought I would. The idea of loli detectives is no more laughable than that of a little old lady, an author of crime fiction, or even a mouse, and once I got over my initial aversion I found a show that was interesting at the very least. That doesn’t mean I’m sold on the idea though, but that’s mainly because of shows like Milky Holmes and Hidan No Aria, which really haven’t done the concept any favours.
If nothing else, at least Gosick tries to redress the balance.
Overall – 9
If you are looking for a good detective series, this is not the show you are looking for. Gosick is not a detective show. It is a historical fiction that tells the story of Ministry of the Occult’s attempt to maintain political power against the rise of science. Victorique, the heroine, solves minor mysteries in a Sherlock Holmes manner throughout the show. As Ridiculous as they may seem at first, the resolutions of these mysteries foreshadow events crucial to the actual plot. Although the conflict is not obvious until the second half of the season, it is present from the first episode.
Another important note to mention is that the show is also a romance. I would put it akin to Toradora. The romantic plot is important to the overarching plot, but it does not take priority over it. If you don’t like romance, you can still like this show. If you want a good love story, you still get that.
Gosick gets very dark towards the end, as the overarching plot becomes noticeable. There are scenes filled with action, especially towards the end. Every episode build suspense and questions; as the show comes to a close, it does not disappoint.
The staff of Gosick takes the unimportant details seriously. Minor characters have a lot of personality and perform their roles decently. The background art is among the best of any show I have seen. Every little thing was given time and effort by the staff, and that is one of the best parts of the show.
If you love music, this show doesn’t have the world’s greatest soundtrack. However, the music is still very good, especially in the opening and ending themes. As a warning, endings change at episode 13. Being a huge fan of the first ending, the second was a shock, as it is not nearly as good. It is still a very good song, once you’ve hear it a few times. The in show music could be better.
Characters – 10
The lead role of the show is a Japanese exchange student Kazuya Kujou. Kujou is an intelligent, albeit naïve, student. He trusts the myths of his host country, Sauville, but does not become entranced by them like the students of that land. In his home country, he is considered a pansy; in many ways he is, but there are times when he has plenty of courage. He is not a toughened warrior at all times, but when other people’s lives are in danger, he steps in the path of bullets. Although Gosick is not narrated, Kujou seems to take that role. Whenever the viewer is left in the dark, so is he. Whenever the view would be confused, so is he. When the show journeys into the supernatural, even Kujou keeps it tied to reality.
Victorique is the character that causes people to label Gosick as a detective series. People present her with cases, sometimes unintentionally, and she solves them within moments. She constantly acts bored and rarely shows any emotions at the beginning. Her history is a mystery that is uncovered bit by bit after each case she solves. The only thing that is obvious in the first few episodes is that Kujou causes Victorique to change. She becomes more social and emotional. Her character changes so much over the course of the show that she looks dramatically different at the end than at the beginning (literally and figuratively – although the literal change is to emphasize the figurative). The changes make sense with the story, and do not distract the viewer at all.
Each supporting character has a clear cut personality. Even one shot characters have histories explained briefly without distracting from the plot. This is one of the best aspects of the show. The minor characters fulfill their roles well. Grevil de Blois, the only real detective in the series, plays a complex part. He often becomes an obstacle to the main characters, but sometimes he aides them by following or ignoring his superior’s orders. He changes as much as Victorique as the show progresses. Although Grevil is the strongest support, almost none of the others can be done without.
I’m not as picky on grading characters as I am with other sections. I am willing to give 10’s to multiple shows, not just the best. There are requirements to get this score. The cast must be well developed, have purpose in the plot, and fulfill their roles properly. Gosick is one of few shows where I could not find a character I did not like. That being said, there are characters I wouldn’t want anything to do with if they existed. In fact, that is the reason I’d give this show such a good score here. I think that every single one of these characters could exist, because they are developed enough to have realistic personalities.
Story – 9
The first half of the Gosick has lots of little mysteries that seem to have little relevance to the entire plot. Also, for someone expecting a detective show, these mysteries are a bit disappointing. Very little work is done in the actual investigative fields, and Victorique solves these mysteries quickly. While many people would find her evidence a bit farfetched, it is fitting for the overall plot of the show. Victorique claims that she puts together the chaos around her using a “wellspring of wisdom.” This is a horrible way to end any mystery arc, if you want a show like Columbo, Monk, or Law and Order. However, this does not hurt Gosick at all. After all, this show is not a detective series; it is a historical fiction. The first few mysteries help develop the characters and foreshadow the important plot points that come later on in the show. Each minor event has relevance to the story, but it does not become noticeable until the second half.
Like the first half, the last episodes are full of minor mysteries. At this point in the show, these mysteries are no longer random. The cases from the first half have gained relevance to the overarching plot. The new mysteries reveal the most important details of the history within the show. Victorique’s past is revealed. The conflict becomes overt. This is an important point in the show; the viewer can see that the conflict has always been present, but no one knows exactly what it is until Kujou discovers it. Also, it proves that the show is not a detective story. Although the heroine is treated as a detective, she does not change the show. The conflict of a detective show is always the same; the leads must discover how an event happened, and who caused it to happen. In the case of Gosick, the conflict present in the overarching plot is completely different: the Ministry of the Occult’s final attempts to maintain political power against the Academy of Science.
The presence of the supernatural is important for the plot of Gosick. Myths and superstitions help keep the Ministry of the Occult in power. The ignorant populace responds to mystical evidence before the scientific. Victorique offers scientific theories to cases, but she creates them through unlikely means. These theories also make sense when she says them, but they seem mythical as well. This makes Victorique the focal character; she contains elements of the Occult and science in her. She represents both sides equally.
The ending of the show feels rushed. The last episode is forced to switch between several characters, locations and times that it is hard to understand what is going on. While it isn’t the smoothest finish ever, it still ends the story well. The conflict between the Occult and science is resolved properly without anything being rushed. The resolutions of all the characters, however, are rushed. As the Second World War passes, viewers get to see where each of the characters are and what they are doing. Perhaps the chaotic ending was intended, since everything that happened during that war was chaotic. Very few questions are left when the screen reads “Fin,” and most of those are philosophical.
As mentioned in the characters section, this show is also a romance. The relationship between Kujou and Victorique is very important throughout the entire show. The conflict between science and magic still takes priority over it, but the conflict of the romance plot is directly related to the other. Although they are not the same, the events that occur affect both plots. When the main conflict is resolved, so is the romantic one (albeit a romantic sub plot remains unresolved until the very end).
In many ways I want to give the story a 10, but I will not for one reason. The show that gets a 10 in this field must be, without a doubt, the best story I have encountered. While I haven’t seen such an interesting storyline executed in such decent way, I cannot say it is the best. That being said, I cannot say that about anything else I have seen. I’m picky that way. So go ahead and put a 10 in that spot, since it would have one if I wasn’t stubborn.
The character art in Gosick is basic. It does not distract the viewer by being too flashy or by being of poor quality. The faces of the characters do not have the details they could have, and my art styles surpass the one used in this show for that reason. However, plenty of detail went into the clothing of each character. Not only were Victorique’s dresses given plenty of time and effort, but even the supporting characters had well thought out clothes. Luigi, who appears only a few times, first appears wearing a ratty set of clothes. The detail put into making his simple set of clothes look like he slept in the streets took effort that many shows don’t put in.
The quintessence of art in Gosick is its back grounds. From the insides of homes and libraries, to greenhouses and full landscapes, the artists of this show worked hard on every detail. The scenery of the city near Kujou’s academy is splendid; the cobblestone street and European style homes look realistic. Several landscapes are shown when the characters travel, and they are never reused images. Every time one appears, they look like places worth visiting.
This is why I gave Gosick a 10 in art. I would want to visit every place the characters travel if they really existed: from the lush green countryside to the snowy Alps (granted I could visit Italy for that). The scenery was never ignored or rushed, and I have seen very few shows that compare in the slightest. As for character design, the show does not lose any points from that. Although it is not the best way to draw characters in my opinion, it fits the rest of art well. Because the art does not take any time to get used to (unless you’ve never seen anime before), with the combination of its simplistic style and mixing well with the background art, the character designs do not distract from the show. As a note, art is one aspect that I’m extremely picky about. Art alone can decide whether or not a complete show.
Music – 8
The in show soundtrack is very good, but it does not change much as the show continues. Nakagawa Koutarou does not ruin the show with her music. In fact, many of the scenes are made much more dramatic due to her works. However, she is no Yuki Kajiura. A show of such high quality seems deserving of an amazing soundtrack, but it is left with an above average one at best.
The opening and endings of the show are among the best music the show provides. Yoshiki Lisa created an amazing opening for the show. Destin Histoire puts the viewer in the right mood for the show. It is an upbeat song, but it is not so happy that it deceives the viewer (as the show gets dark from time to time). It is not dark enough to scare away people looking for a good story.
Komine Lisa made the first ending, Resuscitated Hope. This song was a perfect ending for each episode. Since the show often ended on a cliff hanger, this song only intensified the suspense. Also, appropriate for a show title in the engrish version of “Gothic,” this ending has plenty of Nightwish vibes. Of all the themes for the show, this fit the very best. Unity was the second ending of the show. Also created by Komine Lisa, this song is drastically different from Resuscitated Hope. It is not unfitting for an ending for the show, and it accomplishes everything the first ending did nearly as well. However, this song drops the score dramatically. It is so different from the first ending, that it is a shock to the viewer when it appears. It is not as good as the first, so it seems quite worse than it actually is. This should be unexpected when you go from a Finnish rock style to a folk style suddenly. For those willing to ignore the change, the song becomes attractive over time. However, it is an immediate distraction, and unfortunately is the absolute worst part of the show.
I give Gosick a generous 8 in music. I generally don’t pay attention to in show soundtracks, and if I don’t notice it, it deserves about an 8. I noticed this soundtrack from time to time, always in a good way. All of the openings and ends are songs I can listen to over and over again. This show deserves a 10 for its work. I will not give that score, because the music causes what I believe to be the biggest flaw in the show. If the endings had not changed, I would not be as harsh as I have to be.
I find that GOSICK is flawed and weak in every way, and to summon up a commonly used cliche to describe an undesirable mystery,”it’s like watching Scooby-Doo.”
So my first comparison will be how Scooby-Doo is, in fact, superior to GOSICK in terms of mystery. Scooby-Doo is an episodic mystery show (similar to GOSICK in this regard) in which a cast of bumbling characters winds up with a mysterious case on their hands, that is always solved (similar to GOSICK). Unlike GOSICK though, Scooby-Doo always introduces it’s culprits prior to the solution, and presents CLUES as to HOW the mystery is solved along the way. GOSICK has no development in regards to it’s mysteries. They are solved *magically* and I mean, without any clues or evidence nearly every time by a “Fifteen” YEAR OLD GIRL. She can spot who the cuplrit is by the way he or she holds a gun, for example. She knew that the culprit of murder must be blonde because it was sunny out, for another. Or how about the ever so flattering “the culprit is black because it was dark out.” Are you kidding!? So in short, Scooby-Doo is a better mystery because GOSICK is not a mystery. GOSICK is a fantasy anime in which little girls can outwit their older brothers who have detective’s licenses.
As every review has said, Kujo is a garbage character. Even the reviews attempting to explain how wonderful GOSICK is mention that Kujo was a generic protagonist. The story is that he is a highly intelligent Japanese student who is transferred to an imaginary European country. So we have the Japanese highschool student cliche with legs as our lead. How creative. This cliche would have worked if the setting was Japan in the 1920s. I am not willing to embrace this cliche if the setting is supposed to be in Europe though. Just so the teenage Japanese audience could relate to the story, they forcibly needed to add a poorly written Japanese boy as the lead? Kujo is so pointless as a character and shows so little development that I doubt he was necessary to any point of the story except to add a filter for the audience to see through and to stir some “romantic scenes” with Victorique.
Except GOSICK is not a romance. There’s twenty-two episodes of light banter between two archetypal characters, and then two episodes of reversal, and we’re supposed to believe GOSICK is a romance? Unless you are easily deceived by crying and enormously blatant drama then you might. This kind of finish can be termed as “wrap up drama,” in which the story lacks development for eleven episodes or so and then in the final two or so episodes a dramatic plot is concocted to give the show lasting appeal, a technique commonly used in slice of life anime as a way to finish a show.
My favorite (sarcasm incoming) part of said ending though, was when about half way through the series a “super serious ultra scary dramatic prophecy of great mysteriousness” was directly told (in a supernatural manner, once again GOSICK would’ve sat far better as a fantasy) to Kujo by an old dude that he and Victorique would travel far apart and that they would face grave misfortune for the rest of their lives. [[[[SPOILER:]]]] Of course, GOSICK has a happy end. There’s no point in introducing this concept of great loss and permanent misfortune if it /does not happen/. Adding in uselessly “epic” scenarios and scenes into an anime does not actually make it an epic.
Now a lot of reviews criticize Kujo, but not Victorique. Victorique is a by the book tsundere character. That’s about the level of depth she has other than (once again, unrealistically) her incredibly mature voice. The show actually tried to explain her mannerisms in one episode by delving into her “dark and mysterious and emotional and begrudged” past. Oh my goodness, laugh out loud for real. Oh sure, a little girl can change the tone and pitch of her voice as well as the way she acts by being locked in a prison… her whole life. Is that scientific? No. Is that possible? Well without any facts, statistics, charts, studies, or maybe even imaginary facts, statistics, charts, and studies I would have to say, no! There is no logic behind her behavior other than “uh well she was alone for a while and then she completely changed forever.” Reasonable logic, I think not.
Beyond that her character is loved by many for doing pointlessly childish things and puffing out her cheeks much like every tsundere. And she isn’t even voiced by Rie, so like, what the point is, I don’t know. She’s just another piece of bait to attract fans.
What GOSICK really attracts people with is though, is it’s Victorian setting (well, and having a small blonde girl as it’s cover piece). A few anime share a similar setting in a similar time period – Chrno Crusade, Victorian Romance Emma, and Kuroshitsuji to name a few. The mysteries in this series are so convoluted that this setting isn’t even necessary. It’s definitely not needed for the mystery, because there is nothing Victorique can’t solve, essentially making her solutions as inconceivable as having a futuristic computer solve the mysteries. It also isn’t needed for the “romance” because it could have been set in any wartime period (or more exact inter-wartime period, or post-wartime period, or whenever more exactly). So what’s it needed for? It’s needed for an audience is what I draw from this. It’s needed so it can be slightly different, but exactly the same. Anime has only scratched the surface of the Victorian setting, and people are highly interested in such a time, so it draws in viewers. I’m not trying to be a cynic here and tell you that it did all this to draw in fanbase but… I actually think that’s why GOSICK has the Victorian setting as it’s time period because I logically can’t think of any other reason.
Now if you’re still reading, I must thank you, because I’m about to get into the muckiest part of this piece – the side characters. To begin unfurling this mess, I have to bring out the ditzy teacher. She does nothing except comic relief and drool over the other comic relief guy (whose hair is a drill, ha ha). The second comic relief character, Grevil, Victorique’s older brother earlier in the series is portrayed in every episode as an ignoramus. Yet he’s the detective and his little sister solves all his mysteries. (What a fantastical fantasy anime this is!) Then in the final arc, much like the two main characters, instead of getting development throughout this 24 episode series, his character suddenly goes grim and serious. This is not character development. This is a re-write. There is no character development in GOSICK, there is only a re-writing of the whole cast in the last few episodes, that is just too unbelievable even for my willing suspension of disbelief to hold. Another character is Avril, a classic dope supplying comic relief (but like the aforementioned two isn’t funny either). So the recurring cast are all dopes with the exception of supercomputer Victorique. Single arc characters are the tritest of the bunch though. The antagonists have their flimsy motive or mysterious prophecy (most arcs tend to center more around supernatural beliefs and occurances, despite the mystery tag) and all the side characters are one-dimension at best. Victorique’s mom and the Roscoe twins are actually hilarious though, because they create such a crudely dramatic and painfully bad allusion to Alice in Wonderland. I didn’t even know that the whole cast was essentially a poor parody until the ending when Kujo was holding a book with a white rabbit and little girl together. So apparently, their obnoxious roles as characters was to simply imply a better work! How classic! GOSICK wishes it could be Heart no kuni no Alice, which is already a fangirl’s rendition and (somewhat of an enjoyable butcher) of the original Lewis Caroll staple, forget Alice in Wonderland itself!
Touching on music is almost always subjective in a way, but I just wasn’t impressed. There were no tracks that caught my interest, the openings weren’t particularly enjoyable, nor were the endings. The voicing as I mentioned earlier felt unbelievable, too, because Victorique has the voice of a forty-year-old woman. So I can’t really complain about the sound beyond how average I found it to be.
I’ll end with the art and animation. BONES I’ve seen better from you. The background art was actually pretty nice, but was far too often engulfed by the ridiculous character designs. The animation in my opinion, was rather poor by BONES standards and the awkward positions characters managed to wind up in often amazed me, as well as the messy looking faces of the side characters. I did not find any character enjoyable to look at, and I feel that Bones just had way too much fun with the bold line tool. Also Victorique has a mishapen and malformed Uguu~ face.
So yeah, I didn’t like GOSICK. It was a waste of time to anyone who pays attention to detail and/or wants a mystery anime. And yes, I can say that going into GOSICK I expected a mystery and in every way I was let down. Because this is not a mystery anime, it is a fantasy anime, and I am quite upset that the database won’t let me fix this misnomer.
MAL Score: 8.21
As a child, Moritaka Mashiro dreamt of becoming a mangaka, just like his childhood hero and uncle, Tarou Kawaguchi, creator of a popular gag manga. But when tragedy strikes, he gives up on his dream and spends his middle school days studying, aiming to become a salaryman instead.
One day, his classmate Akito Takagi, the school’s top student and aspiring writer, notices the detailed drawings in Moritaka’s notebook. Seeing the vast potential of his artistic talent, Akito approaches Moritaka, proposing that they become mangaka together. After much convincing, Moritaka realizes that if he is able to create a popular manga series, he may be able to get the girl he has a crush on, Miho Azuki, to take part in the anime adaptation as a voice actor. Thus the pair begins creating manga under the pen name Muto Ashirogi, hoping to become the greatest mangaka in Japan, the likes of which no one has ever seen.
The true meaning of the title was never revealed, but most speculators believe it’s short for ‘BAKUchi MANga.’ (Gambling Manga). It is a simple tale of two middle school guys setting out to become professional manga artists. The story progresses like any other sports or music anime, where ordinary guys aim for the top, facing many challenges and rivals on the way. However, I consider this to be the greatest shounen/seishun (coming of age) genre anime I have ever encountered, because it analyzes what makes a manga good in a coherent way, and more importantly, it practices what it preaches.
This is a review by EIGHTHSin, and contains many spoilers. Read it at your own risk.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are SEVEN major steps to manga creation – Name, under-sketch, inking, filling, effects, screen tone, and whiteout. I’m no expert in manga drawing, but with this series being a manga about manga (which actually got serialized), I have no doubt this is correct. Of course, this anime alone is not nearly enough to teach you about how to draw manga, but it is quite enough to entertain a casual viewer like me. The show also emphasizes the difficulty of the process, that one cannot hope to succeed half-heartedly.
As the character mentioned in the first episode, “Manga is the Japanese cultural heritage popular across the globe.”
This NHK series is extremely educational not only in introducing the process of manga creation, it also debates many other aspects of mang such as: how things work in a weekly manga publisher; the selection process; how artist stay serialized; the importance of target demographics; and argues how things ought to be in the industry. In addition, famous classic and current manga series and their authors are mentioned throughout this series without alteration of any sort, which functions as a masterpiece suggestion for new manga readers. It even directly quotes them, re-enacts DBZ “fusion”, and uses quirks like Naruto’s “-dattebayo”. I take this to be a stamp of approval from those authors, and also to pressure themselves to create a masterpiece worthy of mentioning those names. The show uses real-life examples as case studies to explain its theories.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are SIX key elements to a successful shounen manga – A world that pulls the readers in, clear reason why protagonists are fighting, battles where it’s easy to tell what’s happening, equally or even more intriguing antagonist, a cute heroine, and some laughs or tears.
The first episode had an extremely strong pull – The tested and tried “average joe whose life changed by a trigger event”, in this case, Takagi’s request to be a partner. The turn of events leads to a promise of marriage upon realization of dreams, which serves as the clear reason why the protagonist wants to get his manga serialized, which is the first step to getting an anime series.
The story then goes on to show them making manga, meeting their ‘opponents’ in manga contests, and their manga are actually shown… even with a clear ranking measurements to determine a winner – easy to tell what’s happening in the battle.
Then, there is Niizuma Eiji, the prodigy archrival of the protagonists, who is extremely intriguing, and happens to follow the “Introduce an enemy character, he’s even stronger than protagonists, but turns out to be an ally” as mentioned during the ‘CROW’ production.
There’s the cute heroine in Azuki, and the show has many comedy and tear-jerker moments to keep the audience interested throughout the series.
I find it interesting that the shows makes many observations that we probably don’t consciously realize when casually reading manga, and even more interesting that if we pay close attention, almost EVERY observations of a successful manga made in this series are actually reflected in the series itself. In fact, it was also mentioned that most shounen protagonists wield swords, and if you think about it, the protagonists in this show brandish their pens in “battle”.
The protagonists make FIVE manga series in the first anime series – ‘The Two Earths’, ‘A Millionth of’, ‘The World Runs on Money and Wits’, ‘Angel Days’, and ‘Quasi-Detective TRAP’.
‘The Two Earths’ is their very first manga. It serves as introduction to the manga creation process.
‘A Millionth of’ shows the difficulty of getting a prize in manga contests, and introduction of various styles of manga.
‘The World Runs on Money and Wits’ functions as their confidence booster, as well as their gateway to future successes.
‘Angel Days’ is used to show the qualities of typical shounen manga, and the importance of choosing manga that fits each author style.
Finally, ‘Quasi-Detective TRAP’ is their success of the series, and its production process emphasizes the bond and friendship between the two main characters.
The story follows the standard shounen format with many seishun elements. The good guys work hard to realize their dreams while encountering one obstacle after another. After clearing each obstacle, they “level up” by becoming better artists and attain better understanding of themselves. Like all seishun sports or music anime, there are consistent themes of awkward youth love, challenges of being a student, and the importance of friendship.
The protagonists set FOUR years as their goal for their anime debut. This is the prime reason why Mashiro is always in such a rush to make manga, and frequently shows his impatience.
The main characters in this series are extremely human, and they act according to their own desires to make their dreams come true.
Takagi has the ambition of becoming rich and famous, and he gave up the “mainstream” path of elites (get good grades to get into a prestigious university) for his love of manga and became a true “gambler”.
Azuki follows her dream of becoming a seiyuu and moves to Tokyo, while stubbornly limits interaction with Mashiro to motivate both herself and Mashiro.
Miyoshi truly acts on her desires, and can’t help but reveal secrets of others and butting into their business.
Niizuma also acting on his desires, but in a different way, drawing what he pleases and doesn’t care what others think about him.
Hattori sees promise in Ashirogi, and does everything, even some “dirty adult tricks” to make them succeed.
What I’m trying to get at, is that the characters are interesting, and they “move on their own” according to their desires. I have to say, they are *too* human at times, and causes their actions and motivations to detach from reality, but as a fantasy and dreams shounen series, this is totally acceptable.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are THREE requirements for a successful mangaka – Conceit (Confidence), Effort, and Luck.
One of the major themes in the series is to have “Confidence” in yourself to follow your dream.
To follow that dream, the protagonists put a lot of “Effort” into manga, sacrificing sleep, school, and even time for girls in order to become successful.
Further more, “Luck” is prevalent in this series. However, it remains realistic due to many setbacks they face, just as they would in the harsh reality. The protagonists consists of a relative of a mangaka and a guy who’s getting the best grades in school yet interested in manga. Right off the bat, they have been dealt pocket aces as “gamblers”. Still, they don’t become an overnight success. It took a lot of sacrifices and effort, and after 5 manga series, they finally made it to an authentic weekly magazine.
This series isn’t just a fairy tale. It successfully shows the difficulty of making a living with manga, and shows the harsh reality that only the most talented *and* hardworking succeed. They were dealt another lucky card in getting Hattori as the editor, who truly cares about the authors and preciously “raises” them as mangaka.
As a shounen manga, a convenient setting is actually preferred. The key is how realistic the story develops given the fantasy-filled premise.
I especially loved a subtle snippet of reality in Mashiro’s family. Where the breadwinner and the eldest of the family call the shots in home, like when father and grandpa straight up shut off the mother in roundabout ways, with the “Decision-making process” in his home and “Please get me seconds (refill my bowl)” by grandpa. It’s outdated and somewhat sexist, but the harsh reality in Japanese culture.
According to ‘Bakuman.’, there are TWO types of successful mangaka – “The Genius-Type”, and “The Calculating-Type”.
The anonymous author of this series is the same as that of ‘Death Note’ series, and it is also clear in this series that the storyteller is the “Calculating-Type” just like the protagonists. In other words, he “calculates the laughs and tears in a way that doesn’t seem to be calculated, through calculation.” Obviously, this is not going to work on everyone, so we will all have different opinion, but the story is extremely well-constructed, and the anime direction presented the plot in very interesting ways. It’s easy to sympathize with the characters.
I believe the ONE single most important theme in ‘Bakuman.’ is the love for manga. Both protagonist and antagonists in this series really have passion for manga. It really shows how much love the author has for this series, and manga in general.
The series points out flaws in Shounen Jump (“Shounen Jack” in series), the only real-life title altered in the anime. The show communicates to producers in the real life through its characters.
For example, there shouldn’t be any politics in manga selection, like rejecting student submission or favoring popular authors – “Anything interesting will be published.”
The potential incompetence of editors, in their heavy reliance of survey to determine which series gets cut off – “Manga written for votes rather than true quality.”
The need for manga to have a strong pull early due to selection process of using names of first three weeks and the threat of cancellation due to votes – “The lack of series that slowly draws the audience in, and consequently series being approved without long-term prospects.”
Manga published in order of popularity – “Creates unfairness for new and aspring authors.”
How audience like stereotypical stuff that stifles creativity – “All popular series have swords”
The young mangaka depicted in this series have hinted how they wanted to change Shounen Jack when they get popular. Perhaps the author of ‘Bakuman.’ wanted to do the same with this show as well.
‘Bakuman.’ is the “mainstream among mainstreams” in terms of shounen anime, but has the dreams, the inspiration, the depth, the entertainment value, and of course, the laughs and tears unmatched by any other. It also has the uniqueness in being a manga about manga and an anime about anime. In terms of contribution to the industry, this easily ranks among the most significant series to be aired in this century so far, and I have enjoyed every minute of it.
I’ll start by giving credit where credit is due. This anime is an AMAZING look into the manga industry and the lives of mangaka. By the end of the show, I felt like I knew how to create a manga of my very own and it told me how I too could get it published in a weekly magazine. It also told me why I wouldn’t ever want do that in a million years. Being a mangaka is hard, and Bakuman shows us that in spades. It cleverly uses Ashirogi Muto’s emotions to give a clear understanding of how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking. That’s certainly where this anime shines the most. So, what’s wrong with it? Well…
Although Bakuman uses Ashirogi Muto well in some cases, it completely fails at making them likable in the slightest. Mashiro is an arrogant love struck teenager who has a crush on some girl he’s barely ever made any interactions with, and Takagi is just the plain boring smart yet doesn’t act smart kind of character. I’m sorry if I’m being a little harsh, but in an anime that tries to show a realistic representation of the challenges in the manga industry, making the main characters get away with absolutely everything that would probably get them fired just from the power of pure arrogance and a tad bit of plot-armour just doesn’t sit well with me. And that’s not even talking about the most forced romance in anime history.
Mashiro decides his entire future based off of a promise he made to girl he had a slight crush on. That’s would be pretty fine, if not still a bit stupid, if it weren’t for the fact that they drag out this completely uninteresting romance for the ENTIRE SERIES. And they only ever talk directly about 3 times. 3 times! The show rubs it off as being their own way of expressing love or some shit like that, but it was just painful to watch from start to finish.
Not all the characters are bad. Whilst most of the best ones don’t really show up that much till season 2, Niizuma Eiji is by far the best character in this show. I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say that he’s fun to watch every time he shows up on screen and his passion for manga makes you route for him all the way.
Overall, I can see the appeal of this anime. I really can. But the characters and story were just so uninteresting for the most part that I cant bring myself to like this anime. If what I just told you puts you off watching this in anyway, then stay clear. There’s much better anime out there.
You’re still probably going to end up watching it after reading the other reviews anyway, aren’t you?
Oh, and the music isn’t that memorable. I forgot that part.
NOTE: This review covers all 75 episodes of Bakuman.
Contains Minor Spoilers
If I could describe the story of Bakuman in one sentence it would be something like this: Bakuman is a tale about two best friends, Mashiro Moritaka and Tagaki Akito who want to become Japan’s greatest mangakas. Their journey is long and filled with laughter, cheers, tears, courage and romance. The personal lives of our mangakas contain a lot of twists and drama which makes the story more engaging than one would expect. The story is engrossing and so well written that I wish some of the stories and ideas that the characters come up with for their manga were real.
One word, beautiful. Obata Takeshi is an extremely talented artist. His art matches perfectly with the uplifting story and bright atmosphere of Bakuman. Character designs are drawn very realistically however from time to time designs are exaggerated for slapstick purposes, and it actually manages to be extremely funny. The backgrounds are extremely detailed, from the art pens and work desks to the manga posters spread throughout the series. You can even see Mashiro’s writer’s bump callus from drawing so much. It’s amazing how Obata manages to come up with different art styles for the different manga in the series. Whether it’s dark, gloomy and serious or bubbly and flashy, the art always manages to be entertaining and eye catching.
I enjoyed every single song used in the show, particularly “Blue Bird” by Kobukuro and “Moshimo no Hashi” by nano.RIPE. The voice acting was top notch. All the seiyuus did a fantastic job, especially Morita Masakazu and Okamoto Nobuhiko, who were hilarious and constantly had me rolling on the floor.
Bakuman’s greatest strength lies not in its story, but in its characters. Mashiro and Takagi are fantastic leads that fit the theme of the story perfectly because through them we see the struggles mangakas go through in order to get serialized and the constant battle to keep on being serialized. Both of them care for one another deeply and through ups and downs, together they always keep pushing forward. The supporting cast is one of the most likeable and funniest I’ve ever seen. From the fellow mangakas to the editors everyone felt like they had a purpose and helped contribute to the story. I loved every single character however I felt Niizuma Eiji and Hiramaru Kazuya stood out above the rest. They were eccentric, funny and just plain damn fun to watch. And like I said previously, Morita Masakazu and Okamoto Nobuhiko portrayed the characters perfectly.
Bakuman is one my all time favourite anime. It’s not philosophical, cynical, depressing or about the downfall of humanity. It’s not the anime to end all anime. I just love it because it was so fun to watch. I forgot about my problems for 75 episodes and that’s why I watch anime, to have fun. A great story, beautiful art, a catchy soundtrack and a well developed cast of characters, please give this one a try.
1: Bakuman. 2nd Season
MAL Score: 8.37
With the serialization of their new manga, “Detective Trap,” the writer-artist team, Akito Takagi and Moritaka Mashiro, better known by their pseudonym Muto Ashirogi, are one step closer to becoming world-renowned mangaka. For Mashiro, however, serialization is just the first step. Having promised to marry his childhood sweetheart and aspiring voice actress, Azuki Miho, once his manga gets an anime adaptation, Mashiro must continue his to popularize Ashirogi’s work. A tremendously competitive cast of ambitious mangaka—including the wild genius, Eiji Niizuma; the elegant student, Yuriko Aoki, and her older admirer and partner, Takurou Nakai; the lazy prodigy, Kazuya Hiramaru; and the abrasive artist, Shinta Fukuda—both support and compete against Muto Ashirogi in creating the next big hit.
As they adjust to their young and seemingly untested new editor, the dynamic duo struggle to maintain their current serialization, secure the top stop in Shounen Jack, and ultimately, achieve an anime adaptation of their manga. With new rivals and friends, Bakuman. 2nd Season continues Takagi and Mashiro’s inspiring story of hard work and young love.
The first season of Bakuman was great, the story, the characters, the atmosphere fitted perfectly, though It did suffer from pacing problems and could of been adapted better. This time however, J.C Staff has stepped up their game, managing to fix those problems and make Bakuman 2 one hell of a enjoyable anime and probably the best slice-of-life series I’ve seen yet.
= Story  =
Bakuman starts exactly where it left off from the first season and gets right into the story. I won’t say much to avoid spoiling it for people who happen to see this review before watching the first season but this season has a lot more drama and romance, which make for some very intense scenes and memorable moments.
Something, that is unique to the story of Bakuman is how realistic it is. The two main characters aren’t always successful and positive like you find in most shonen series and there isn’t any shock twists which would be impossible to find in a real life situation, well maybe one.
= Art  =
I never get tired of the art in this series, It’s amazing how J.C Staff can make the manga illustrations look so realistic and the amount of detail and effort they put into the backgrounds.
The character designs are nothing special but they don’t really need to be, If anything, the only character design I can fault is Shuujin’s/Takagi’s, It’s just that he looked a lot different and a lot better in the manga, though I don’t really mind the change.
= Sound  =
I have to admit, I didn’t like any of the first seasons OP and ED’s that much, though Bakuman 2 has some great ones which really suit the story-lines in this season. The OST remains nearly entirely the same in this season, which is a good thing since it doesn’t feel overused yet and suits the anime perfectly.
All of the VA’s do a great job reprising their roles and the newcomers fit their parts perfectly in my opinion.
= Character  =
There’s a lot more Character development this time around, which is welcomed especially for the minor characters such as Aoki and Nakai, who really annoyed me at first, but then actually became likeable.
The romance side of Bakuman shines through a lot more this time around, which also helped character development a lot, though some of the relationships became a bit boring and repetitive during the the second half of the story.
Bakuman 2 is one addicting ride, the story and the characters really draw you in and makes you want to finish the whole series in one go, which not just any anime can emulate.
If you’re a fan of first season, you’ll love this sequel, all the spirit and fun of the manga and prequel are maintained in Bakuman’s second anime outing, which leaves us eagerly awaiting the third season.
Overall, Bakuman 2 outdoes it’s predecessor in every aspect, with faster pacing, a more ‘tighter’ and entertaining story, great character development with art and sound to top it off. If it wasn’t for a slow down during the the latter episodes with the story and characters, I would’ve considered Bakuman 2 a masterpiece.
Now I know why I decided not to stick to watching the second season. Even as I’m typing this, I still can’t grasp the stark difference between my thoughts on the show vs the majority’s opinion. I felt betrayed by the score, so I thought I’ll throw in a different perspective regarding the anime.
The first season felt like an inoffensive story that was just okay to watch (from what little I remember), but this second season was a trudge to go through. I had to force myself to watch another episode with the idea that it’d get better eventually, but unfortunately it got worse. The entire season could be skipped, and nothing would change except a few set pieces.
Near the end, I decided not to continue on with the third season since I realized that I lost my interest.
Now the characters. The way I’d describe the majority of them would be: Obnoxious. They barely have any redeeming qualities. They are one dimensional and only serve as convenient devices to keep the story moving along. Romances are thrown in out of completely nowhere and only feel as though they are introduced and used for motivation.
Character development consists of complete 180 degree changes in personality and character thought processes are indescribable.
The story consists of a popularity contest between manga authors of the same publisher. It starts with them calling each other rivals, telling each other that they’ll beat each other next time. Then, they come up with ideas haphazardly and start working on them, hoping it’ll get NUMBER ONE IN THE RANKINGS!…. then if they get a good ranking they congratulate each other, if they don’t then they say they’ll beat each other next time.
There are some stakes thrown in to each of these repetitions because the makers know if they don’t include those in, then there would be nothing left of interest. But then the stakes are pummeled as soon as push comes to shove, and you start wondering why they were included in the first place.
Artwork is okay, nothing special but it’s decent. Actually, it was nice to see different manga authors with different drawing styles.
Sound was okay too, serviceable enough for the show.
It’s difficult for me not to spoil stuff while talking about my experience watching this anime, so I feel that right here would be a good place for people to stop reading. But for those who’ve watched the show or don’t care about spoilers, please continue…
I mentioned the characters being obnoxious. So let me expand on that…
The main characters Mashiro and Takagi aka Ashirogi Muto stand true on that statement the most. They are childish, whiny, arrogant and stuck up, with these inflated but fragile egos. They are constantly bitching about being popular and getting the best rankings and would change their entire story they worked on to get ranked better. They feel like they only want to be manga authors for the sake of becoming famous, getting anime adaptations, and striking it big. Mashiro is especially guilty of this to the point where almost every word spoken out of his mouth made me go “oh just shut up” in my head.
Mashiro’s art is very good and never needs any polish. Takagi is just this genius who can think of a good story on the spot, but is otherwise really bland. Ah who am I kidding, everybody in this show is bland. But still they crapshoot everywhere because the season needs to stretch to 25 episodes and the makers need some form of progression throughout the series.
Of course, every “rival” has this behavioural pattern as well, although not to the same degree. They’re all different flavours of “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” and “I wont lose to you!”.
Niizuma Eiji is shown as this super genius with an eccentric personality, and serves as the main rival to Ashirogi Muto. Both as manga authors and being super annoying to look at. Sheesh, his screams still ring in my head. He has no “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” but he does have “I wont lose to you!”.
Fukuda is this angry man that rages at everything and is a hardass with a caring heart. He is the angry version of “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” and “I wont lose to you!”.
Hiramaru was a character that I found decent. His dynamic with his editor was predictable but okay to watch. His shtick is that he is forced to draw manga while he wants to do other stuff. He is the unwilling version of “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” and “I wont lose to you!”.
Nakai is just a plain creep with fragile self esteem.
Iwase is an arrogant woman with too much time on her hands. A vindictive and narrow minded individual with the weirdest motivation. She is the vengeful version of “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” and “I wont lose to you!”.
Aoki is a manipulative, heartless and proper woman who does a 180 degree personality change into become a blank slate. She is the female version of “I’ll work hard and beat you next time!” and “I wont lose to you!”.
Moving on with other characters,
Azuki is Mashiro’s girlfriend and nothing would change if she was replaced by cardboard. Their relationship makes no sense and makes you wonder how the hell they fell in love and decided to marry each other in the first place.
Miyoshi is a convenience.
Miura is just this loudmouthed, boisterous man who actually achieves nothing. NOTHING. His purpose is solely to act as an obstacle and he comes in to achieve only that, then to leave after he has been overcome. To me, it felt like he is the only reason the second season occurred. If you take out the portion of the anime from the point where Miura is introduced as Ashirogi’s editor to where Miura is exchanged back to Hattori, then apart from Nakai leaving the picture and the serialization manga names changing, nothing happens.
Oh I guess Takagi and Miyoshi get married? I don’t even know how or why they decided to do that. Felt like it was just convenient to throw in because they’re both best friends of the show’s main romance.
Hattori is a decent character. He’s the only one that made me laugh once in a scene in the entire season, but still he seemed like a genuinely likeable and competent editor. Don’t get me wrong though, still a bit bland.
The chief editor is shown as this very competent and serious dude, but to me he seemed like a really indecisive prick. First, he says he’ll put Ashirogi on hiatus for a whole year since Mashiro got sick due to overworking and for some reason was sick and needed to get surgery, so he needs rest to recover. But then he’s like “naah jk”.
Second, he tells his editors to vote for Ashirogi’s manga serialization to see if it can compete with Niizuma Eiji’s work, since they’re all incompetent and can’t judge their own publications. The condition is that if it can’t compete, then Ashirogi’s contract would be terminated. The editors vote 4 to 3, saying that Ashirogi can’t beat Eiji with this at the end of the episode. BUT NOOOOOOOO, since this show can’t have that happen, just at the fucking start of the next episode, they editors are like “But sir! Ashirogi’s career is at stake! Let’s leave it in the hands of the readers to decide!” so the vote changes to 7-0 in favour of Ashirogi’s serialization.
Are you fucking kidding me?! Are you telling me that all that time spent into coming to these dilemmas was for nothing? Why can I see these predictable outcomes from a mile away! Things like these make for a very frustrating viewing experience and you’re left thinking “What was the point?”.
Near the end, a conversation gets shoehorned in about manga authors focusing on story vs popularity and this is where I realize why there is such an obsession with rankings. Mashiro basically declares that he writes manga only for popularity’s sake, and to me personally (even though I do not read manga) that was indication to not watch the third season.
Actually, now that I think about it. This show unintentionally, through it’s own dialogue, the way it’s story is written, the way it’s characters interact and behave, tells me a lot about how some manga authors think and go about creating a manga. That is really interesting and odd since none of the actual content depicts any semblance of realism.
The thought processes and dialogue of characters really commentate on the thoughts of the makers themselves as they were making the show, and how shallow the whole thing is.
Making a weekly publish in a manga while coming up with what happens next every week will not make up a good story or an interesting read unless the whole thing’s planned from the beginning. Shounen mangas have this problem the most, and this show magnifies this by showing us the actual time and thought put into them.
These works are done purely for the purpose of running a business, and authors’ ideas are reworked and washed down to make them more mainstream at the cost of originality. Overworking their authors by giving them breakneck deadlines while manipulating their want for becoming popular as fuel for encouragement for working hard.
This makes me understand why I never liked shows like One Piece, Naruto or Bleach. I always felt like the stories in them were made up on the spot and pieced together, dragging on for no reason other than maintaining viewership, popularity and fanbase.
Bakuman is one of these shows but with no battle scenes or action.
* * * S T O R Y * * *
It’s rather original and is likely to draw in anyone with an interest in anime/manga. It has some pretty good drama and whatever in it.
* * * A R T * * *
I’d say the “typical anime faces” (such as oAo) they sometimes have kinda lowers the quality of this series. I like that they have some more original types of gag faces, though. The art and animation looks quite nice overall.
Some of the parts where they showed storyboards/”names” were poorly drawn and dull to look at. I think they should’ve at least had more panels/actions shown so we could see the story, not just hear a narration. Manga is all about the visuals, after all. There were some good moments with the more elaborate manuscripts, though.
* * * S O U N D * * *
I think Mashiro sounds a little too wimpy. The music didn’t stand out to me whatsoever. Their relaxed, “everyday” country-ish music is just pretty boring. They live in a city, so why the country bumpkin music? There’s other music more appropriately fitting the anime, but none of it is memorable.
* * * C H A R A C T E R S * * *
Yes, yes, people hate Miura. I think Miura was another good display of what the world of manga can be like. He also developed into a decent editor after realizing his flaws. As an obstacle, he created more entertaining points in the series and made the end result all the more satisfying.
Mashiro and Takagi are always developing and learning to see manga from different perspectives. They change in other ways, too, making unexpected decisions as the story progresses.
Other characters develop, other characters stay the same. That’s the way life is, including when it comes to a manga artist’s aspirations (or lack of).
* * * E N J O Y M E N T * * *
Compared to the Bakuman manga, they cut out a lot of the more technical aspects of planning and writing manga. They kept the “Tanto arc” short and sweet, really. It also feels like they balanced things out so that Azuki would seem like she has more involvement in the series. I know people complained about how small her role was in the manga, so I think this is a good change. It was pretty easy to neglect and forget about her in the manga, but I think it’s important to maintain this romantic aspect based on true love.
One thing I didn’t like is how they made it sound like panty shots are not only normal, but necessary in the world of manga. Honestly, things like that cause people to label all manga as bad. I think panty shots should’ve been treated as a cheap way to get votes from perverts, not something a female manga artist should strive to achieve. It’s sad to think people would be unable to appreciate a good story unless it had softcore porn in every chapter.
* * * O V E R A L L * * *
Good story, nothing really disappointing (other than the panty thing), satisfying ending. I didn’t find this too addicting, but maybe that’s just because I read the manga already. This is some quality anime.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Bakuman. 2nd Season
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