They’re the best Anime that 2018 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Koi wa Ameagari no You ni, Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara, Sword Art Online: Alicization, and more!
10: Koi wa Ameagari no You ni
English: After the Rain
MAL Score: 7.52
Akira Tachibana, a reserved high school student and former track runner, has not been able to race the same as she used to since she experienced a severe foot injury. And although she is regarded as attractive by her classmates, she is not interested in the boys around school.
While working part-time at the Garden Cafe, Akira begins to develop feelings for the manager—a 45-year-old man named Masami Kondou—despite the large age gap. Kondou shows genuine concern and kindness toward the customers of his restaurant, which, while viewed by others as soft or weak, draws Akira to him. Spending time together at the restaurant, they grow closer, which only strengthens her feelings. Weighed down by these uncertain emotions, Akira finally resolves to confess, but what will be the result?
True, even when one puts aside the moral implications of such a romance, these sorts of encounters are often left to erotic fiction (the sort people would do their best to enjoy in complete and utter secrecy) and rarely depicted or even acknowledged in any serious context. The man is a manipulator, a pervert, and the girl merely a confused soul. There is no happy ending to be sought, for the situation itself is a crisis without salvation.
If I told you After the Rain is one of the more innocent and heart-warming anime I’ve seen, would you believe me?
After the Rain is something unique in the entertainment industry. It takes a profoundly controversial topic and focuses not on its moral content, but depicts instead a story of ordinary, decent people merely put into a difficult situation. A young girl develops an innocent crush on someone older than she who she admires and looks up to, and the man, recognizing the obvious issues with such a difference in age, does his best to dissuade her and lead her back to an ordinary teenage life. There is no sexual tension, no outright physical romance; the two often describe their relationship as something more akin to friendship, even if it may not necessarily be platonic. Perhaps things will stay that way, or perhaps the girl will reach adulthood and find her feelings to stay true. I didn’t find the outcome so important. After the Rain exists to capture a moment in time, a slice-of-life anime truer to its genre than nearly all surrounding it.
A significant portion of the anime depicts the daily lives of the two protagonists (Tachibana and Kondou) and their co-workers at ‘Garden’, a family restaurant modeled after the real-world Japanese restaurant ‘Gusto’. While most events at Garden are linked in some way to Tachibana’s and Kondou’s relationship, so too do we see the relationships between the other workers, and get a glimpse at what it is like to work at a Japanese family restaurant. Though these co-workers are hardly developed beyond their one-dimensional comedy relief or jerkass-dude-who-should-be-kicked-and-then-punched-in-the-nutsack roles, their presence serves as a simple reminder that Tachibana and Kondou are just two ordinary souls in a big, bustling city.
Anime has taught us that confessions are meant to be the peak, the conclusion of a romance—that telling someone you like them may as well be asking for their hand in marriage—but for After the Rain, “I like you” is merely the start of their story. Those expecting a long, protracted build-up to the confession may find themselves disappointed, but if you are a bit more like me and prefer to see characters behaving naturally as humans actually do, the pacing in this case is far more appropriate. How could it end with a quick “yes” or “no”, anyway, when the question is such a difficult one to answer?
Though the first few episodes create the impression that the story’s primary focus is upon this complicated relationship, Tachibana and Kondou are carefully characterised and developed in other, more multi-dimensional ways. Tachibana is confronted throughout the anime with the consequences of her withdrawal from the track and field club and the strained, awkward relationship with her closest friend, worsening with each day she has left the club. Kondou isn’t just some happy-go-lucky 40-something-year-old, but a complicated individual who struggles with reconciling his dreams with reality and of his clinging to the past. Though it is rarely mentioned—likely as he does not want to mention it himself—it is strongly implied that Kondou is still hurt by his separation from his ex-wife and the difficulties of raising his son in this environment. These are issues shared by many real, living and breathing people of their age groups, and the result is that you can identify with the two and give more than a damn about their problems.
It is also worth noting how accurate the anime’s depiction of its setting, Yokohama, truly is. Famous landmarks of the city such as the Cosmo Clock 21 Ferris wheel and Akarenga Warehouses (though, by God, did I ever hate visiting that place with its floods of tourists) are shown regularly throughout the anime, as well as the actual train lines (the Tokyu Meguro) and individual stations (Takadanobaba) of the Tokyo region. The cheap, boisterous nature of the pub Kondou and his old friend visit, along with the drink bars and parfaits on the family restaurant’s menu brought a smile to me and made me feel right at home. Though I doubt people who have not lived in the Tokyo area would notice or care much about these details, they do well in making the story feel more real than imaginary.
After the Rain has a few minor issues—major, depending on your preferences. The ending is abrupt and does not resolve anything, resembling more the ending of any ordinary episode of the show rather than for the story in its entirety. Kondou’s and Tachibana’s personal struggles remain ongoing, their relationship still undecided, as though we only got about a third of the way through the story before the book was suddenly slammed shut. The reason why Tachibane loves Kondou is never really made clear—although I suppose you could argue that you don’t need a reason to love someone—and her behaviour regarding him, while cute, can occasionally be a bit creepy and uncomfortable to watch, what with her squealing and squirming in bed like some five-year-old who just got new dollies from mommy. One of her co-workers, the one I so described as a jerkass, detracts from the cute, innocent nature of the anime and briefly turns it instead into some borderline netorare thing. Everything surrounding that situation was frustrating—though I reckon that being frustrated only once by an anime isn’t such a bad thing, maybe.
I can’t convince everyone to look beyond the anime’s premise, especially with how heated these sorts of topics have become in today’s political climate. But for anime fans willing to go a teeny bit outside of their comfort zone, or even for those who are just fans of slice-of-life anime, After the Rain is a thoroughly enjoyable and heart-warming little adventure. There’s nothing so special about it to deserve high praise, but odds are, it will brighten up a rainy day.
Based on the manga of the same name, this series came like a storm of rain, like a roller-coaster of emotions. As someone who have read the manga, my expectations were high. The first few episodes establishes the general premise as we meet high school student Akira Tachibana. As a former track runner, she isn’t someone easy to get close to especially for her male classmates. That doesn’t mean she’s a cold person as we see a different side of her. This side is shown through her interactions with Masami Kondou, a restaurant manager at the place she works at. The series chronicles her life and relationship dynamics with him and what viewers will discover along the way.
Now, getting straight into this show at first may set off some red flags. The idea of a high school student being interested in someone over 40 years old can rub someone in the wrong way. It feels as if the show commits the sin of an unhealthy relationship or daydream fantasy. However, that is not how you should experience the series’ intentions. The idea of the show isn’t just a story about two lovebirds. It’s more about how a series tests human feelings. There’s realism as a lot of the circumstances we witness in this show can happen in real life. The main point is to establish how complicated human feelings can be when tested under heavy waters. Right off the bat, we can see that Akira has feelings towards Kondou. The first episode shows that any dialogue directly related to her manager causes her to react. For instance, some of the dialogues about Kondou’s marital status immediately causes Akira to behave in ways that show her emotions. While this is first seen as cheesy delivery, I see it more as a realistic reaction of how characters should behave. Akira is still young and she doesn’t fully understand what love is. Yet, she feels connected to Kondou because of how kind he is. Similarly, Kondou responds to some of Akira’s feelings such as going on a date and telling how he feels. The way these two connect is incredibly appealing to watch as it’s easy to want to root for them. The charm between their chemistry shines best when they understand more about each other. While it’s easily possible that it won’t be one of those ‘they live happily ever after’ tales, the series still capitalizes on bringing out human feelings at its fullest.
As a good portion of the show puts emphasis on characterization, expect a lot of background stories and character focus. It doesn’t just fall in the case of Akira but other characters too such as Haruka Kyan. Through effective storytelling, we learn more about Haruka and her connection with Akira. I think an important part to note about the characters is that a good majority of them are worth investing time into. Examples such as Chihiro and Yuuta gives us a better insight of Kondou’s personal life outside of his workplace. Even a character such as Kase can be interesting to watch despite my personal dislike of his interactions with Akira. In essence, the main characters easily carry this series while others play valuable roles to influence their choices. The series remains faithful to their personalities too based on the manga.
Koi wa Ameagari no You ni takes the approach of bringing mostly drama so if you’re a viewer interested in such genre, then this will be a wonderful treat for you. The title translates to “After the Rain” and literally, there’s plenty that falls. In literature and storytelling, this symbolizes for depression as it’s what see from Akira’s perspective in the beginning of the show. Still, there’s light comedy with some hilarious moments too for those who think this may be just a drama fest.
The main selling point of the series is undeniably the character chemistry between Akira and Kondou. It’s hard to ever forget about these two even when episodes doesn’t fully concentrate on them. That brings in the question if you think they do or don’t get together. As a 1 cour adaptation (12 episodes), the show can feel more like a titanic ship tease with how the series delivers its storytelling. It’s obvious the show won’t have a concrete conclusion as the anime couldn’t cover every chapter. However, from a fictional storytelling viewpoint, this series is what I view as drama done right. The emotional moments looks impactful and holds special meaning for the characters. I can’t remember how many times I replayed certain scenes to get a better look at how the characters behave and why they do so in such ways. Plus, I think this show really delivers the promise of its premise without ever being distracting. The only time I do find a character distracting is perhaps Takashi as he’s there for more as comic relief.
As a studio that produced mostly fantasy themed series, Wit Studio was definitely not a choice that I was expecting. However, I’m highly pleased to say that they aced this with flying colors in terms of production quality. The scenery in this show looks incredibly well-polished and show their effort through the realistic setting with rich details. These scenes also delivers a melancholic tone that you’d fully expect out of this show such as the smiling and crying. The key animation and choreography makes this show sometimes look like a moving painting. Every emotional segment looks impactful through its tone and captures the importance of human feelings. Scenes such as Akira running under the rain or the bittersweet moments when she feels heavy emotions is bought out through the talents of this show’s creative team. The theme songs contain great usage of sequences to show creativity while the visual style of the character designs bring the cast to life. A beautiful girl like Akira deserved such treatment.
I wasn’t too convinced into the character behaviors in this show until I heard the voices of the cast. Sayumi Watabe may not have an impressive resume but she is able to step into the shoes of Akira perfectly. The way her character speaks brings truth to her personality while showcasing a more delicate side when she’s with the manager. I also felt how real the character cast were whenever they interacted under different circumstances. As a show with heavy drama, Aimer’s performance is nothing short than a spectacle. “Ref:rain” felt like one of the most memorable ED theme songs of this year so far with how melancholic it’s performed. The choreography and mood of the sequences captures the series’ themes at its fullest. Besides that, I think the overall usage of the OST in this series also brings in memorable moments. Between quiet moments of melancholy to more dramatic segments, it’s easily acceptable.
In conclusion, I think this show did just about everything it was set up to do and that’s to deliver a drama story with realistic human feelings. What started off as two seemingly lovebirds connecting from a workplace turned into complicated storyteller. I’m more than pleased that this got an anime adaptation in the first place. It felt more like a series suited to air on live action TV as a drama. However, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni lives up to its promise and made a show that’s as real as it can be.
Today, I want to write about love. It’s no coincidence that this show is about love and writing, and the love of writing, among other things, because I don’t often write in the first place. From time to time, I find that there are some shows which evoke certain feelings, or thoughts, that I have to write about them. This is one of those shows.
There are many kinds of love. The advertising for this show, and its OP/ED, focus largely on the romantic kind. It’s almost a shame, because the show focuses mostly on the love of hobbies or work. Akira and Masami are the kind of people who have lost sight of their passions for one reason or another. Akira gave up on running due to an injury. Masami gave up on writing because of a lack of success and the hardship it brought on his family.
It’s frequently difficult to pursue these passions. It’s also not easy giving up on a thing you feel so strongly about, or dealing with the regret of having done so. That said, wouldn’t you be happier doing the former, given that it’s a thing you enjoy anyway? It’s a hard question for a lot of people, and like most real-world problems, there isn’t one right answer for everyone. There’s a catch to this dilemma, though. A person who doesn’t really want to give up and walk away from his dream simply shouldn’t. He might still do it, though, for one reason or another. In this case, wouldn’t someone who encouraged him to follow his dreams be making his life demonstrably better? In that case, isn’t it better to be with that person?
This is the essence of human relationships, in the end. “Romantic love” is something that mostly exists only in fiction, and this show isn’t interested in perpetuating the fantasy. However, love itself is real enough, and this show sets out to explore it. In this case, it starts out in what’s basically the most straightforward way. Akira is physically attracted to Masami. I consider this much to be clear, though many things in the show are presented nonverbally, and thus up to interpretation. It’s less clear how Masami feels about Akira, especially at first. I got a similar impression from him that I got from Kyon. Namely, that he’s prone to self-deception. That’s why it’s so refreshing that Akira is so honest about how she feels about most things. This is why it tears at my heart to see her lie to herself, and to others, about the most important one.
You see, this was a very emotional show for me. I cried at the finale, which is already rare enough, but it was a different kind of cry. These were tears of joy; the joy of experiencing something truly beautiful. I don’t consider this to be an accident. Where many shows would generally be content to tell you what their characters are feeling, or use some kind of established visual shorthand, this show tries to make those emotions visually apparent, and to impart certain feelings onto the viewer. Nonverbal communication is inherently risky, and I’ve always admired shows that rely on it and succeed. This show likes its metaphors, visual and otherwise. I’ve long known that Wit Studio has some talented animators, and has a passion for making visually beautiful shows. It’s wonderful to see them take that energy and talent, and use it for a clear purpose. I’d also like to credit the background artists, because their work is stellar, but I know almost nothing about this element of anime production. It’s also no coincidence that the music is very good; I’ve often considered this to be the most emotional part of the experience of watching anime. Even what I thought might be a flaw, that the music is somewhat repetitive, may in fact be a motif, which again serves a purpose.
I love this show. It really speaks to me. It fits my ideals for what an anime should be, and its theme and some of its trappings appeal to me personally. Its ending exceeded whatever hopes I might have had for it. It’s not very interesting to talk about its personal appeal to me, since the reader’s life experience and situation will certainly be different than mine, but it’s there. That said, I feel confident that this show’s more objective merits are strong enough that I could recommend it to anyone. I hope you love it as much as I do, because in the end, we’re better off being happy. (Sorry, Chihiro! No poison today.)
9: Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara
English: Iroduku: The World in Colors
MAL Score: 7.53
Despite the kaleidoscopic magic ingrained in everyday life, Hitomi Tsukishiro’s monochrome world is deprived of emotion and feeling. On a night as black and white as any other, amidst the fireworks spreading across the sky, Hitomi’s grandmother Kohaku conjures a spell, for which she has been harnessing the moon’s light for 60 years, to send Hitomi back in time to the year 2018 when Kohaku was in high school.
Hitomi’s mission seems unclear, but her grandmother assures her that she will know when she gets there. Following a trip through time aboard a train driven by a strange yellow creature, Hitomi finds herself in stoic artist Yuito Aoi’s room, and his drawings flood her world with color. What is Hitomi’s purpose there, and why do Yuito’s drawings return such breathtaking color to her drab world?
To my delight, Iroduku turned out to be yet another show that made me realize how an original anime should be done. Believe me, this seemed like a hit or miss in the beginning that looked like an average modern teen soap opera. However, I would say not to judge too fast as the premise itself possesses great potential for a storyteller. From the beginning, we are introduced to the city of Nagasaki where magic is also part of normal life. We meet main female protagonist Hitomi Tsukishiro who happens to be a 17 year old descendant from a family of witches. What we know about her early on is that she has a disdain towards magic. It’s because she lost her sense with colors and also became distant with people. The plot involves her grandmother Kohaku who decides to send her 60 years into the past so they can reconnect. To be honest, this show became a modern fantasy about self-discovery even with the time travel gimmick. At the center of it is Hitomi Tsukishiro.
I’ll say right off the bat that the show will test a bit of the audience’s patience. The pacing in the beginning is slow and doesn’t jump over itself to sell its core concepts. But that’s not really a negative of the show. I came to realize that the directors wanted to help the characters grow especially with important relationships. From the first few episodes, it’s shown that Hitomi is not a sociable person and finds it difficult to open herself to others. That soon changes when she meets Yuito Aoi and the photography club. Through their influence, Hitomi begins to climb out of her shell. For some reason, Hitomi is also able to see Yuito’s colors in his drawings. This is important as it enables the both of them to connect on a more personal level.
Indeed, Iroduku shines best when it’s able to capitalize on the character relationship development. Hitomi and Yuito is a prominent example. The show commits to developing their relationship from strangers to close friends. It felt like the creators wanted us to experience both of their character growth alongside them. Significantly enough, Hitomi does develop from a withdrawn witch girl into a more mature woman. This is thanks to the positive influence of Kohaku Tsukishiro, who also joins the Photography Club later on. What I find interesting about Kohaku is her outgoing personality and loyalty to her friends. From the beginning, she seems like the opposite of Hitomi and is easily open to others. At the same time, she’s also a bit of a troublemaker for her experiments with magic at school. While I can’t say she is a flawless character, Kohaku brings in a lot of hope for character development. Hitomi begins to regain her sense of magic but also able to make new friends. It’s a very simple and acceptable way to see her character growth.
Now you may be questioning yourself if this show contains romance as part of its storytelling. While the show itself isn’t adamant on building romance, it does exist in some ways. As the story progresses, it seems Hitomi develops some feelings towards Yuito and vice versa. Their photography club president Shou Yamabuki also begins to show an attraction towards Hitomi. Meanwhile, there’s Asagi Kazeno in the club who has an obvious crush towards Shou. You get the idea. Not to mention, misunderstandings ensue early in the series when Kurumi (vice president of the photography club) took a video of Hitomi coming out of Yuito’s room. Romance angles exist in the show but really doesn’t overshadow the story’s flow. P.A. Works have been known to make anime with romance content that can get be stale and overly sensitive. Thankfully, Iroduku isn’t the case even though it exists.
Still, the big question to ask yourself is what’s the most you can get out of this show? At best, this show works in wonders as a character driven story with a creative modern fantasy atmosphere. Every character in the show brings something to the table for their role. The show’s main push though is Hitomi for her character growth and self-discovery. Whether you like it or not, the story focuses on her growing with more self-confidence and plays a central part in regaining her sense of magic. She even gets on better terms with characters like Asagi after the two understands each other more. Meanwhile, we also get some unique symbolisms. The most prominent one is the golden fish that symbolizes hope. Not only does Hitomi finds her own world now, she also grows to accept magic. This is also thanks to Kohaku’s presence as she wants to make her granddaughter happy. Magic plays a role and she wants Hitomi to experience the best out of it. As you may expect, the show also contains time travels tropes. But really, this isn’t a show about fixing the past but rather about changing a character in a positive way. I’m probably going easy on this show in some ways but everything felt like it flows so well from start to finish. From Hitomi joining the photography club to experiencing cultural festival together with friends, P.A. Works manages to sell this series as a modern coming of age fantasy.
Even if this show isn’t your cup of tea for its drama, the technical content is a feast for the eyes. P.A. Works once again manages to showcase their talent with high level production quality. It’s very well polished that makes the show itself look like a work of art. It’s easy to also accept the show as a modern fantasy with the relaxing setting and lush backgrounds. Magic itself is portrayed in aesthetic style with blending of unique colors. As it’s part of the plot, the show’s visuals manages to capture the essence of that at its finest. My only pet peeve is the character expressions. An easy finger to point at is Hitomi for having the same face for the majority of the show. I get the creators wanted to portray her as a withdrawn girl in the beginning but it’s hard to sometimes feel empathic about her on the surface. This is a contrast to pretty much almost every other character. As you may also expect, this show is very melancholic especially during some of the more emotional episodes. The theme songs reflects that as well along with voice mannerism in those cases.
There’s probably countless ways to accept this show but the simplest way is to embrace the character growth of the main protagonist, Hitomi. My initial impression of the show grew from a story about magic to how characters can change thanks to others’ influence. Character relationships play a big role for its ability to capture the significance of their growth. Once again, P.A. Works shows how valuable their original anime can be. And to me, I can’t help but recommend Iroduku for those who wants to experience more.
From the start off it’s easy to see that there was a good amount of effort put into the visuals of the show. With a show with the name color in its name, it does make sure to bring it to the screen with a vibrant color pallet being applied to almost everything. However sometimes the vibrancy doesn’t work in it’s favor when it comes to the characters as they come of as glossy making them at time look a bit plastic like. What also doesn’t help for their characters is their designs, at least their faces. While i’m kind of fine with most shows and their minimalist design of the faces this show takes a it a small step more that ends up being to far. With the nose being far to small, and thanks to the glossy look of the show almost non-existent, and that could also play in part with now the eyes looking a bit far apart from the face that they start to look like fish people.
Anyway the main story is about Hitomi, a girl from the future, where magic is commonplace and not the type where technology is advance that it’s like magic, but actual magic. Due to her very strained relationship with her mother, she has lost the color in her life. I don’t mean in a metaphorically melancholic way, but she has honestly become monochromatic colorblind. Then her grandmother comes and has some inkling of how her granddaughter feels and then she just sends her to the past, after which this series of events happen. Hitomi wakes up in some guys empty room, she “secretly” leaves but forgets her earing, she is seen by some people who happen to be the friends of the guy living in the room, she realizes she lost her earring, she finds the guy who lived in that room with her earing, and finally the guys drawing are the only thing that Hitomi can see in color, and mind you that this is just the first episode. It’s not all the small conveniences that are the problem, but how they constantly stack up on one another that makes them so forced and so contrived. Events like these happen every once in a while in the show, and across multiple episodes that it is easy to be taken out of the experience that it is trying to sell.
Now i’m not going to get into the whole time travel thing since that’s a whole beast i don’t care enough to go into it, other than it’s just kind of dumb. The magic i don’t mind as much and i’m fine having it be somewhat ambiguous. However it’s obvious how these are used as plot devices and probably the main vehicle why so many parts of the story just feel so forced.
It just leaves lingering questions of why the creators of this work would go to such lengths to create such extraneous plot lines for a show about personal growth. Sure this is an anime original and it was trying to be original in its premise from other derivative Japanese high school anime. But that’s just how far they went, only the premise. Since outside of the whole magic and time travel thing all that’s left is a dull school romantic melodrama. None of which are bad elements but the show does nothing to make them work in its favor. There’s not much about the romance that makes it really endearing or compelling. Especially with how all the characters are “coupled up” with the main couple, the childhood friends, and the other two. None of them are in actual relationships with each other but the show still makes a point to make it overtly obvious. Even when there’s romantic conflicts which make up most of the melodrama portion. Most of it is just eye rolling and annoying and makes me internally scream, “get on with it already”! These problems probably had more to do with the characters themselves. There’s not really much to them when it goes to characterization and personality since it’s rather basic and on the surface and the few who do have some character development, it’s also rather basic and isn’t really that well done. There’s not much about them that makes them really compelling. Even the main character and her developing from her angst into a better person in end is still a dull character.
Now the whole show isn’t that bad. The theme of self growth is rather consistent across the show and it does have moments that are rather good and touching. It even hits a really good stride during the last two or three episodes, even if it’s undermined by more plot contrivance. The production value is fine even if there are some poor decisions with the directing of the show like when it the POV of Hitomi but from her perspective she can still see color and then a few seconds later it turns to monochrome to make a point that she’s color blind in case it wasn’t obvious enough times.
In the end there’s not much that is worthwhile about this show. With a cast of just boring 2-dimensional characters. A plot that could have gone down a more simpler road while still maintaining it’s core theme, but opted for a more convoluted yet easily convenient one. There’s not much that hides the intrinsic contrivances of the story. Maybe the show should have upped the plastic look of the characters so the writing could have something to match with.
Irozuku is a show that tries to mask its lack of plot and even remotely good characters with nice colors. That’s really about it. It’s reminiscent of Violet Evergarden as to how it tries to ride off of its art, except Evergarden doesn’t have a pathetic cast of characters and a boring plot.
Story (5/10): For some reason, this show isn’t listed as a Slice of Life, which is very strange, considering the plot is much more boring than your average Slice of Life. Honestly, there really isn’t a story. They’re in their club, they take pictures, and something about the main girl being semi-colorblind. It’s basically a Slice of Life without the tag. Then, lo and behold, in the last 3 episodes or so, drama drops out of nowhere straight onto your head, most likely giving you a concussion. Remember guys, drama means sad, and sad means good. That seems to be the golden rule of MAL users. Sad = good. But how am I supposed to feel sad when the characters are as well written as a fourth grader’s spelling test?
Characters (1/10): When you’ve got pretty much no plot for most of the show, you end up focusing on the characters. When your characters have effectively no defining character traits or personalities, well, you’ve got a problem. I still don’t remember half of the characters’ names after finishing the show. Well, sure, the characters might be boring, but you still have character development to make things interesting, right? Well, no, you don’t. Unless you count “this character likes that character” as conflict/character development, there is literally no character development until the last 3 episodes, where pretty much everything just takes a left turn. Now those plastic bottle characters from the last 10 episodes you watched are in a sad situation, so you have to feel sad. Just try to forget that they literally barely qualified as characters for the past 10 episodes. It’s pretty amazing that P.A. Works managed to create a worse cast of characters than that of ChäoS;HEAd. There’s 2 even remotely decent characters, and one of them is comic relief. I’ll just rate the characters individually on a scale of 0 to 5 below.
Hitomi (0/5): The only feature of her personality is that she can’t see colors. Yukiteru Amano probably has more going for him.
Main guy (1/5): Generic edgy loner
Club president (0/5): I don’t even know what to put here. He actually just doesn’t have any character traits whatsoever. The epitome of a worthless supporting character. Somehow him falling in love with Hitomi was supposed to be a character trait.
Chigusa (2/5): Kinda serves as comic relief sometimes?
Glasses girl (1/5): Really just only there for the same repeated fights with Chigusa, kinda got boring after the first time that happened.
Asagi (1/5): She’s cute, and she likes taking pictures of cute things. What a greatly defined character. Oh yeah, she likes the club president guy. There appears to be some sort of trend here, where the characters are defined not by themselves, but by who they like, or by the story.
Kohaku (3/5): Has more personality than pretty much the rest of the cast combined. She’s actually not dead inside! Whenever anything remotely interesting happens, it’s usually centered around her magic.
Art (9/10): Hey look it’s the good part of the show. Everyone knows art is the most important part of a show! Seriously though, the art is beautiful. Amazing color variety/combinations. The scenes where magic is used are absolutely breathtaking. The only reason it doesn’t pull a 10/10 is that there are random close-ups of characters’ faces in semi-profile views where their nose is just completely off-center. Really bothers me when the whole screen is a character’s messed up face. What are their noses doing on their cheeks?
Sound (7/10): Generic OST with nothing outstanding. Above average opening theme. I’ve never listened to an ending theme in my life. The music is simple, and it works well for the kind of show that it is.
Enjoyment (4/10): The only show that I watched this season where I didn’t feel the desire to watch it on the day it airs. Hell, I even watched Tokyo Ghoul every Tuesday, even though :re 2 is an absolute disgrace. I don’t hate the show though. Somehow the art makes this somewhat slightly enjoyable if you don’t think hard about it.
Overall (4/10): Do you like getting hit over the head with the exact same conflict? Do you have 25 minutes to just completely waste? Do you have some form of ADHD that prevents you from paying attention to what’s actually unfolding in front of your eyes? Do you enjoy having a block of drama concrete dropped onto your head? If you answered yes to any 2 out of 4 of these questions, you’ll probably enjoy the show. If you didn’t, there’s plenty of better things to do with your time than watch this.
8: Sword Art Online: Alicization
English: Sword Art Online: Alicization
Japanese: ソードアート オンライン アリシゼーション
MAL Score: 7.55
The Soul Translator is a state-of-the-art full-dive interface which interacts with the user’s Fluctlight—the technological equivalent of a human soul—and fundamentally differs from the orthodox method of sending signals to the brain. The private institute Rath aims to perfect their creation by enlisting the aid of Sword Art Online survivor Kazuto Kirigaya. He works there as a part-time employee to test the system’s capabilities in the Underworld: the fantastical realm generated by the Soul Translator. As per the confidentiality contract, any memories created by the machine in the virtual world are wiped upon returning to the real world. Kazuto can only vaguely recall a single name, Alice, which provokes a sense of unease when mentioned in reality.
When Kazuto escorts Asuna Yuuki home one evening, they chance upon a familiar foe. Kazuto is mortally wounded in the ensuing fight and loses consciousness. When he comes to, he discovers that he has made a full-dive into the Underworld with seemingly no way to escape. He sets off on a quest, seeking a way back to the physical world once again.
Sword Art Online’s biggest problem is itself.
Its writer, Reki Kawahara, keeps getting in his own way, and when he doesn’t, the anime eschews his vision. What he wants to get across is almost always clear, and there are effortful attempts to act on those ideas, but with the anime’s focus on moving the plot forward rather than making details feel elaborately set, it ends up bringing down the entire experience to make watching the series weekly for the most part, feel like a slog of boring exposition attempting to cover up poor pacing of external events. If something from earlier is justified, it can feel annoyingly retroactive. Kirito himself is less a factor than in previous arcs, he is still partially to blame in the indistinct coverage of how this season adds to the themes of the franchise.
General spoilers for the season below:
The main premise of this arc is that Kirito, while on a date with his girlfriend Asuna, is caught off guard and stabbed to near death by one of the three Death Guns from the previous season. While in a coma, he ends up in the digital world of Rath, a system used for a military experimentation project where he must do…………………………nothing in particular at no real urgency. There is a plot, and there is a goal, but for once they feel entirely separate from the tension.
But I’ll get to that later. SAO, being as popular as it is, has mostly being met with snark and derision from people calling it the “worst ever” or otherwise exaggerating the flaws of it, so I think it’s fair to start off with the positives of this season, because contrary to what haters will tell you, they do exist.
1. Production value and music. These have been consistent strengths of the SAO series throughout the years and generally, they still hold up here. The character models take on the new polished style from the Ordinal Scale Movie, and while not having as much animation (I’ll get to that), the look is maintained very well across all 24 episodes of the show. If you compare to the original two seasons, there is a definite improvement, and while the architecture present isn’t particularly unique or standout, it is well presented. Likewise, Yuki Kajura’s music, while not her best soundtrack, still does what it can to set the mood for the quieter scenes and the action scenes, with a great new remix of Swordland to go along with it. Special mention to some of the opening moments of Episode 2, and the fight in Episode 16. Of the music outside of the show, the first OP and the second ED are the best ones and do have a good amount of catchiness and energy to them.
2. Alice Schuberg, the arc’s new female lead. While it takes 16 episodes in to actually really explore her as a character, and she looks a lot like Saber from the Fate series, the time we do have from then on with her sets her as probably the most consistent female lead in SAO so far. As of yet, she’s hasn’t been subjected to an endless supply of ass shots, her growth hasn’t been stunted by time skips, nor is her growth entirely for Kirito’s sake. Her arc of rejecting the corrupt system she’s been brainwashed under, wanting to reconnect with her old life and opening up on her feelings is adequately handled and leads to some of the stronger character moments this season. She also has one of the coolest weapons in terms of both design and animation; a space bending sword acting as moving protection with golden butterflies as weapons. It’s been put to effective use in the fights so far and has potential to be used further as the story moves along.
3. Measuring Kirito’s power. Compared to say, the Phantom Bullet arc, some of the worst aspects of his character are toned down. He doesn’t start the series overpowered from the get-go, has actual struggles in several fights and even takes a few Ls in a couple of them. It gives a couple of the fights in the season more tension than previous ones. The existence of Eugeo also helps for his sake since the show is better able to balance the battles between the two of them rather than giving Kirito the entire spotlight. It doesn’t mean there isn’t still an annoying amount of contrived solutions to conflicts, but that’s more on the writing than him specifically.
4. Actually building the villain. The arc’s villain, a Knight Templar dictator calling herself Quinella, has an established backstory and a defined reason for ruling the way she does. We know why she is the villain, we see the clear consequences of her actions on the world and she isn’t as laughable to be taken seriously compared to say, Sugou from ALFheim. She’s a product of an as of now unknown evil seed, but nonetheless she’s established properly. However, showing her attractive naked body on screen doesn’t work at all to be alienating for a series that in the past used naked bodies during bath scenes as fanservice. There are some fun intensity moments with her in the climax, even if the battle is a mere two minutes long.
Unfortunately, that’s the positives out of the way. Now for everything else that really breaks this arc and saddens me given the inherent potential of a SAO story.
The biggest problem that persists throughout the entire show is the immeasurable focus on exposition over every other element. Characters will abandon the idea of development, fighting, talking, world building, or anything else for the opportunity to talk in technical terms about topics that, while somewhat relevant, are not as important as what else could be focused on. Eugeo, the new male lead, has got family issues? No, that’s not important. We need to talk about the villain’s plan and “Fluctlights” (the series’ pretentious name for digital souls in an indistinct coverage of AI vs humans) again. Knowing how that works is way more important that a main character’s backstory. The exposition often brings the narrative to a screeching halt, especially in scenes where the heroes stop fighting the villain and exposition for a few minutes while the villain just stands around waiting for them.
Exposition is something inherent in building a setting and establishing the plot. I understand the use for it. There are several shows that have still been entertaining despite or because of their exposition. But SAO Alicization’s exposition is not only incredibly frequent but boring and lacking in character. It’s frequent enough to where Episode 1 spends 10 minutes just expositioning off vague terms about the setting, while half of Episode 12 and nearly all of Episode 13 are nothing but this flat delivery of the plot. Other episodes tend to tag nearly every fight with exposition that’s 8 times longer than the fight itself. While the old director was no exemplar by any means, he at least knew how to make fights seem varied and exciting visually with a lot of movement. Here, Yuki Kajiura puts in the effort, but this new director who directed some of the worst LN adaptations in recent memory like Mahouka and The Asterisk War, just cannot pull it off. So, when the OP makes you think you’ll be getting this epic fight, it’s usually just maybe two attacks apiece preceded and followed by 5-10 minutes of exposition.
The framing device of the season also presents several issues this time around. The idea that Kirito’s exploration in this new world is happening while his real-world body is comatose could generate tension, but this alongside Kirito’s connection to the real world is poorly substantiated. In learning about this framing device, we, as the audience, know it is just a waiting game for Kirito to heal up and be back to normal. Until the very last episode, his actions in Rath have absolutely no consequences in the real world. None of that “die in the game die in real life” stuff here. He gets really hurt from time to time but we have no idea how his real body is taking it. There’s a two-year timeskip at one point, but unlike in Season 1 where it really was two years, we have no idea how much the time exchange is between the system and the real world which I think hurts the connection to the story. This framing device also separates Kirito from his past connections in this story. I don’t mind the reduced role of his entourage for the moment (even if Asuna, who SHOULD be important, has nothing to do right now), but he barely brings them up over what’s been at least two years. There was one moment Kirito thought of his real-world connections, but that was for a poorly animated fight that ended in a draw and had absolutely no effect going forward. Kirito cries more over the fact that flowers he planted were destroyed (that were contrivedly brought back anyways) than even the chance that he might NEVER see Asuna again being stuck for so long. I want to care, but the show refuses to let me with a framing device that undermines the events and severs past connections.
Other old habits die hard, whether because of Kawhara’s own writing or the adaptation. Not only do we get another ridiculous rapey scene, but there’s a two-year timeskip rather than say, actually seeing Kirito and Eugeo train up to be better swordsman. They set off for the Capital and the next we see them, BOOM, two years pass, and they’ve already had a lot of training done. They could’ve at least done an FMA03 type thing by building character relationships prior to a timeskip but nope, nearly all relationships at the sword academy are shown after and as of now, doesn’t matter to anything since we know so little about them. If this was better in the light novel, good for Kawahara, but perhaps it should’ve been a cause for concern seeing how much got cut for the anime onlys. In this adaptation, the only purpose of the sword academy stuff, aside from telling us Kirito and Eugeo became better swordsmen offscreen, was to build two bullies as irredeemable rapey monsters, and paint two cute girls as victims of this. We don’t know much about them either, aside from one of them having a romance arc with Eugeo that goes absolutely nowhere. There’s also a lot of contrivances to make progress, like with Kirito seeing the “ghost” of Alice in Episode 4 lead him the right way, how Cardinal is introduced into the story specifically to ex Machina Kirito and Eugeo out of a scene, and how Kirito uses a completely unknown attack to one shot a late-game villain that returns him to his Black Swordsman coat for a bit. This attack is never referred to by name and never mentioned again.
And it’s not like this progress has done well for the characters, as Alice aside, they range from passable to horribly flat. Kirito isn’t as overpowered as before, but aside from problems the framing device puts on him, he still has annoying moments, like one case where he retroactively Sherlocked his way to avoid being poisoned, or where he used a device he only had two of on a character he barely knew, rather than to potentially stop the villain and save Alice. The show puts him in the right for this by the way, and there’s not much of an arc for him this season either. Cardinal is actually pretty decent, even if the show’s use of her as an ex Machina isn’t for the best. The sword academy characters are barely developed at all, and among the antagonists, only Bercouli and Deusolbert are passable; the rest are just obnoxious. Fanatio’s only character trait is being ashamed of being a woman, which falls deaf when both the main villain and Alice, whom she knows personally, are also women, as well as there being no indication of gender division in the world. And Chudelkin’s only purpose is to ruin the tone and make rapey faces whenever possible until kill stealing at the end.
Which leads us to the biggest wasted potential so far, Eugeo. There was a lot of potential for his character at the start. Being a guy partner to help balance Kirito out of the spotlight, there was a lot Kawahara could do with what he distinctly did not know about Kirito, his personal relationships with him and Alice as kids, his fighting ability, the idea that he has more innate fighting potential than Kirito, his unawareness of being an AI program and his romantic relationship to Tiese.
Unfortunately, not one of these elements get to shine in this adaptation to let us in on his blank sheet personality. Perhaps improved in the light novel, but the anime should have better stood on its own. Him having more innate potential than Kirito is completely ignored later on, his sword training is told not shown, and anything the show tries to pull regarding his relationships with Kirito/Alice as kids, his family, or Tiese fall completely deaf because they received little to no focus. He didn’t even TALK to Alice in the present day, once. The show would rather go into long tirades of exposition than show a main character’s backstory! Near everything about him was entirely cut short by the show despite having more than enough time to act on all of it. They try their best to make up for it at the end, but it’s a bit too little too late.
It’s hard to say whether I’m more annoyed or disappointed with how Alicization has been executed so far. Sure, some of the problems in the world, characters and framing device can be fixed going forward, but first impressions are everything and this series did not make a good one. The focus on constant exposition over all else, the disconnected framing device, and lackluster character writing drag it down more than needed, but it could’ve been avoided if Kawahara just knew what to focus on or the anime didn’t skim over the better parts, since his ideas are abundantly clear. The SAO franchise can theoretically explore a lot, but it almost deliberately gets written into corners. That’s something I’ve always given SAO over the many works that have almost no effort at all to act on their ideas, and though there’s that chance for the future with new elements coming in to make the second half an improved experience, this season’s quality suggests it won’t be without a wide range of caveats.
It’s not rocket science to realize SAO would eventually get a continuation. It was just a matter of when and after 5 years since the second season, the time is now. Sword Art Online Alicization covers the light novels with an extended amount of material, much more than the previous season. It’s so much that in fact, a full 2-cour season of 24 episodes isn’t enough. Luckily, it has been confirmed the series would run more than that and given an additional season for its adaptation. However, the big question people should ask themselves if this is another SAO show to jump into or a cash grab at making more money.
Starting with the prologue, we get a double length episode to give a general background of the new season. Make no mistake though as Alicization is not going to spoonfeed viewers with recapping. The show assumes you are familiar with the first two shows so anyone hoping to watch this needs to have completed the first two seasons. Light novel adaptations tends to suffer a lot from adaptation standards but thankfully, Alicization manages to deliver a faithful start with its character cast and storytelling. Besides Kirito, we are introduced to Eugeo, a new character who serves as his partner and best friend in this arc. Similar to Kirito, he has a kind heart although lacks experience in the beginning compared to him. He also appears somewhat cowardly in the beginning as he is unable to prevent certain events from happening, in particular for failing to help his childhood friend Alice. It’s not until he meets Kirito that he develops a resolve and finds the courage to become a stronger person. That is to say, Alicization features a lot of character bonding especially in the first half of the show. Eugeo begins to grow out of his shell after training and becoming strong enough to fight as a warrior. It really shouldn’t take long to realize that he has great potential, perhaps even someday of surpassing Kirito himself. As for Kirito, his personality remain largely the same in this season. That is, he is a selfless person who isn’t afraid to help others in need. Kirito and Eugeo develops great respect for each other and the latter even finds his resolve. The two sometimes almost feel like brothers.
Outside of the duo, you may have noticed another prominent character being featured in the trailers or key visuals. Alice would be her name and she is Eugeo’s childhood friend. The show makes it clear that she is an important character from her introduction to later on in the story. Alicization also devotes time to developing her character after meeting Kirito. Despite having a rocky start, she develops respect and a growing trust for him. Now, people may have a curiousity if Alice become another ‘harem girl’ similar to some of the previous seasons. SAO is not a harem although it gives off a stench at times. Thankfully, there’s no need to worry. The closest that Alice seems to be with Kirito is when they are at the tower during one of the episodes and nothing more comes out of it. On the other hand, Kirito’s friends from the real world are still concerned about his well-being. In particular, Asuna searches for him through unorthodox methods while discovering some revelations about the technology in the real world. Remember, the world of SAO contains complex technology that defies the law of nature. I’m not even referring the VR system or robotics but rather the capability of influencing people’s lives. This extends to the virtual world where the Administrator managed to use system commands to reverse her own age. Sounds unbelievable, right?
As with previous seasons, Alicization can’t be complete without antagonists and conflicts. One of the major antagonist in the new season is the Administrator, Quinella and her Integrity Knights. She’s an important character as not only is she a threat to the main protagonists but also a catalyst for some of the key events in this season. This includes character manipulation that extends to our new characters such as Eugeo and Alice. I’m not going to lie though, one of the events in this show is rather disturbing to watch considering the way she manipulates others. (I’m looking at you, Eugeo) On even more disturbing matters, we even have characters that commits unforgiveable sins that pushes Eugeo to the edge. It’s the type of event that brings controversy out of its fullest. I’m not going to spoil it but when you get to that particular episode, you’ll feel disgusted too. It’s so disturbing that it even changes Eugeo’s views on the laws of their world and causes him to rebel. Quinella herself also demonstrates a God-like complex with her own dark motives. If I said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. She is detestable. I doubt anyone with a sane mind would find her character likable.
I can’t be the only one to notice that the animation quality improved more than the previous seasons, right? The Ufotable-like animation is used in parallel with the Sword Art Online movie, Ordinal Scale. Not only did the animation style improve, it also managed to craft an imaginative virtual world to it its fullest. The character designs are also featured in great details compared to previous seasons. In particular, Alice is important to note for her chivalrous look and golden armor. Character expressions are meaningful with an emphasis put on human emotions. Eugeo is a prominent example especially as his personality shifts from a weak survivor to a noble swordsman. While I’m not impressed by how antagonist are portrayed this season, they were able to deliver their dialogues straight with a degree of villainous expressions. Quinella is the biggest culprit with her manipulative personality. Her malevolence simply cannot be overlooked.
The SAO franchise is one of the longer light novel running adaptations that continues to build more into its universe. Truthfully and despite some of the controversy from the past seasons, this one managed to finally jump out of its rabbit hole and deliver what I wanted to see. With another season on the way, I cross my fingers that it will ride on this momentum.
**THIS WILL INCLUDE MINOR SPOILERS ABOUT THE OVERALL SETTING **
The story this time is centered not on a game, but around a simulation of civilization. The aim of this simulation is to develop highly advanced A.I capable of thoughts and emotions. It brings about some ethical questions about humanity, playing God, and where to draw the line in scientific experiments. This season deals with more of these mature themes than the previous seasons ever did.
The premise is that Kirito finds himself in a medieval world with its own history and lore and journeys with his newfound friend Eugeo to achieve both of their (different) goals. It starts out slow, with a lot of focus on world building. Even though it seems disconnected to the plot of the previous seasons, eventually many plot points from before will make their way into the story. So it is important to watch the last seasons to get a full understanding of the current season.
Eugeo is the focus of these two cours, Kirito just tagging along. He has an innocent, easygoing personality that makes the story work – much like Frodo from Lord of the Rings. He is the embodiment of a common citizen of Underworld. His opinions about himself, others and the society he is in changes throughout the story and the viewers get to experience the same things he does. Alice has not much role in the initial part, but her time for development will come in the 3rd and 4th cours.
Unlike SAO’s history, there is pain and blood in the fights. It makes the characters’ struggle believable and makes you root for the characters. Later on, the story gets even more darker without resorting to plain bloodshed – in a psychological way. Kirito is not overpowered in this arc. He only has the knowledge of a swordsman and works his way from the bottom up.
The entire story is well thought out and is planned beforehand. There are several questions that arise in the early episodes – the answers are made clear slowly, as the plot progresses. Some of the things happened may seem irrelevant and random, but they make sense eventually.
A large number of new characters are introduced in this season. Most of them influence main characters in various ways. The three main characters undergo some changes throughout the series and get some good character development. But the same cannot be said about the side characters.These characters last only for about 3 episodes and don’t make an appearence till the 2nd part of this arc, but the gap is too long.
The review will be incomplete if the villain is not mentioned. It is an ambitious character capable of easily manipulating others for personal gain that ended up turning into a different and dangerous entity due to an accident. Certainly there are better villains in the anime history, but this character is arguably the best villain SAO has seen so far. There is a moral ambiguity for this character.
There are plenty of criticisms that can be offered as well. Some episodes have a lot of talking involved. A lot of exposition is delivered this way. People expecting all out action scenes will be disappointed or bored by these episodes. There is some pseudo-science explanation for the premise. It may not appeal to everyone.
The tower climbing arc is adapted very poorly. The Integrity knights that are supposed to have their own reasons and understandings about the world around them are dumbed down to mere villains of the week. The cliffhangers are conceived in a very poor way. They feel forced and unnecessary because most of the fights are very short.
The anime looks gorgeous with colorful shading – just like Ufotable. But the same can’t be said about action sequences. In many action sequences, the frame of animation focuses only on one character. It makes the viewer unable to follow the fights well. The short fights are usually already ended by the time we get invested into them.
The soundtrack is underwhelming compared to the last seasons. Old music is repeatedly used by remixing it. Only few soundtracks are memorable and they don’t last long. Some of them sound very similar to Yuki Kajiura’s other works. Only new notable music is the Eugeo’s theme and the Quinella’s theme.
The adaptation of the source material is below average. It is not butchered to Tokyo Ghoul Re’s extent, but it is significantly rushed and cuts out a good amount of inner monologues that gives a good understanding of character relations and motivations. Think of the GGO arc that lasted for 14 episodes but now compress it into 8 episodes. That is how much rushed it actually is. Even so, everything that has happened can still be understood with some thought.
Tl;dr – If you liked the previous seasons, it is a must watch.
If you thought that the previous seasons were wasted potential then this is still worth watching as it explores a different theme – in far more detail.
However if you didn’t like the original characters of SAO, then better stay away from this season. Chances are that you will not like this season either.
There is still two more cours to come. But that is a different entry in the database. Be informed that the story doesn’t end yet.
For me, what is great about this arc are its themes and execution, albeit the poor adaptation.
7: Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai
English: Tada Never Falls in Love
MAL Score: 7.56
Love has never really been a concern for Mitsuyoshi Tada, and as the aspiring photographer enters his second year of high school, it truthfully couldn’t be further from his mind. However, things just might change after he meets a bright and bubbly foreigner named Teresa Wagner while he was taking pictures of a cherry blossom tree. Nevertheless, after she asks him to photograph her, the two soon separate… only to meet each other again twice more that same day! Finding Teresa just as she is caught in a sudden downpour, Tada invites her to his family’s coffee shop to dry off. There, she explains that she was separated from her traveling companion, a no-nonsense redhead named Alexandra ”Alec” Magritte. When Alec reunites with Teresa shortly after, they say their goodbyes, expecting to part ways for good—but the two unexpectedly show up as transfer students in his class the next day.
Teresa and Alec quickly get used to their lives at Koinohoshi High School and decide to join Tada in the photography club, along with his narcissistic friend Kaoru Ijuuin, the idol-obsessed Hajime Sugimoto, serious class rep Hinako Hasegawa, and the dog-like Kentarou Yamashita. With these two peculiar additions to his equally eccentric group of friends, Tada’s second year of high school is about to get even livelier, and he might need to start rethinking his approach to love.
Right around the first and second episodes I felt it was amazing since it started off so well, showing a bright artstyle not unlike Doga Kobo’s other more popular (and obviously better) anime, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. The characters felt cheerful and the whole anime gave you a cheerful vibe, now this vibe was obviously continued in the rest of the anime but the differing point is that it was cliched to the extreme. Don’t get me wrong, cliches aren’t bad, but they have to be handled properly to make the show watchable and not lazily copy over cliches and skin them with your colour and post it as your anime, this is unfortunately what Tada-kun continued to do and it certainly was heartbreaking for me to see that the show I loved in episode one became a cliche machine by the 5th episode (and I’m talking about myself here, others may have started seeing effects way earlier than me).
Being a Slice of Life meant that a concrete plot wasn’t exactly on the list of priorities for any anime studio for that matter, so it comes by no surprise that this show as well didn’t have one, and since this is very normal and common with most Slice of Life shows in general, I’ll make this the one step I’ll forgive. But what comes is the rest. One problem only, cliches. Each episode was filled to the brim with cliches, be it a situation, a backstory (not Tada’s), the characters, and unfortunately, the romance.
A cliched romance isn’t exactly something I’ll throw over to the Lions for, but when it’s not even trying to add a dash of originality things start to get messy. I mostly went “Oh so in the next episode preview this is going to happen? Then this cliche will be followed” and it killed my enjoyment in the anime as compared to the first episode. And this isn’t a hot springs episode thing, sudden bumps, blushes at the same words, a situation being ruined by the characters’ actions, are all examples of cliches that the show followed (forgive me for being vague, as of the time of writing I’ve been watching a lot of anime this season so my memory is slightly hazy). “Why is this guy focusing so much on the cliches?” you might be asking. To me, cliches were the one biggest problem the show had, if this was fixed, I doubt the show would disappoint me, but then again, improving cliches is very much easier said than done. And fixing them is important because to keep a Slice of Life fun, especially a romance, you need fresh ideas, Tada had none of that.
Tada-kun’s characters weren’t the most unique of ones but I’ll have to give credit, they were cheerful but their personalities were once again riddled by the C word (pretty sure you’re as tired of reading it as I am writing it, but then again, this was the biggest problem of the show anyway). Although fans were gleefully picking out the ships right from the first episode going “Alec x Ijuuin” and the like it kinda felt a bit boring. I mean, not trying to act nitpicky but a little bit of a surprise is always welcome in a romance isn’t it? “No” according to this anime. Although not having a surprise isn’t 100% bad per se but yet again, Tada-kun didn’t try to make it work. At best this can remind me that the show felt lazy. Doga Kobo tried to make something fun but a little different but didn’t want to make the effort for it and got itself trapped within its own plans. Apart from the cat, every single romance in the show was horribly implemented. Tada X Teresa has got to be one of the most irritating romances I’ve ever seen because both of them acted so stupidly and their shyness for normal things like talking to each other (especially when they first met) has got to be a pathetic way to go about the “falling in love” step of romances. I mean, I despise the “love at first sight” view and Tada didn’t help make it better at all. Pin-head and Representative-san’s romance as well wasn’t explored and was left shallow. But then again it in itself was shallow from the start. Him not knowing that his childhood friend is the idol he idolises so much? Could you be any more cliche? Before you answer that, Tada already did. Yamashita Dog and Tada’s sister as well were just a one blush game as well. Coming back to Tada, his “romance” with Teresa was random, pretty much non-existent except for the last 3 episodes maybe if you don’t count stupid “Oh I saw you look at me and I don’t know what to say” crap as “love”… I’m not saying shy romances are bad, but Tada and Teresa made them look pathetic with their random shyness. Sometimes they’re super shy and the other second they’re pretty much flirting?
People went memeing around saying that the cats had the best romance but funnily enough that turned out to be very much true, until *that* happened. On the other hand the other romances felt average and not out of the box. At many times I found myself predicting what the next situation could be for the characters and when and how the blushes would happen. Perhaps the one romance I could like was of Ijuuin and our secretary Tsundere, Alec (since it is of a cliche I could say I don’t have a problem with). The rest meanwhile, were… average like I said. It seemed as if the writers wanted to do something different, they wanted to try to make the show enjoyable in episode one, but the sad contrast in the later episode showed that they were the teenager who after getting bad grades thinks “I’m going to work hard from tomorrow onwards” and right the next day get caught in their usual routine, without any thought or apology for not doing what they promised themselves they’d do.
Now, this show isn’t filth, far from it, it’s not FranXX, but it’s average, it’s mediocre. Why? It doesn’t ruin everything and burn everything to the ground. It is still an anime you could watch in small increments (perhaps once a week to you binge watchers who are going to watch the show after it airs). It’s still an anime that can leave most with a normal face, since it’s charm is still present, only drastically reduced from what it could have been, perhaps a mere shadow of itself. Is Tada-kun the show I like to call “wasted potential”? Definitely. Although it didn’t go it’s own way it didn’t veer off into the abyss either, therefore putting it in the middle. What wasn’t in the middle would be the artstyle, which I’ve iterated thrice here was cheerful, bright and very much like Doga Kobo. Apart from reminding me about Gekkan Shoujo, it made it’s characters look cute and attractive. Be it Hinako, Teresa or Tada-kun himself, everyone looked cute, and that’s not to say about the colourful backgrounds and eye-catching scenery either, those were fabulous and my favourite part about the anime. But then again, cute characters and a great artstyle don’t make for a good romance.
Now something that was almost decent was the voice acting. Although it felt bad in terms of the female voice actors the male actors made up for it. I can forgive the female voice acting only on the grounds that Alec and Teresa’s voice actors aren’t as experienced in the field as the males were (but I must admit, Teresa’s high pitched voice was VERY IRRITATING) and to be honest, apart from these two, on the male side I found Ijuuin a bit irritating with his voice, I was absolutely shocked to discover that Miyano Mamoru voiced him as a result. But in the end it boils down to how much you enjoyed the show. I for one don’t hate the show (NANI), it’s just that I felt let down because again, I wanted the show to continue the direction it had in episode one, if it did, it would be an 8 today or maybe even a 9. But not everything goes your way.
There’s always that one show that clearly shows the idea the writers had in mind in the beginning but lazy writing can turn the best of starts into an average okay-ish show AT BEST, and it’s sad to say but, Tada-kun stays as an example of that. I do hope that we see some improvement in Doga Kobo’s next show, but as of now, I doubt a sequel to this show could carve out something better like Nozaki-kun, although I’d love to be proven wrong. Amaze me Doga Kobo.
Undeniably crafted with talent, Tadakoi offers refined background art and detailed character animation in place of quality writing. While the show had potential to be good with its solid audiovisuals, they are entirely wasted on generic characters and a poorly written story.
The story follows the titular Mitsuyoshi Tada, an uncharismatic photographer who’s tough past has prevented him from ever knowing love. Through a chance encounter, he meets an enthusiastic foreigner, Teresa. She acts overly excited, running around trying to hop fences and expressing a crazy amount of interest in a Samurai TV series, which seems to have given her some wrong impressions about Japan. All of it is played to comedic effect, it’s fun and lighthearted enough in spite of being unrealistic, with her voice actress’ upbeat performance to sell her personality well.
Then, through another chance encounter, she ends up being stuck in the rain protecting a stray cat and getting splashed from all directions by water like the universe is punishing her for being nice. But to her rescue comes the lethargic Tada with an umbrella and an invitation to go to his family-owned cafe. Teresa compares what she believes is Tada’s heroism to the samurai she idolizes in her favorite show, and that’s how she falls in love. The cafe itself is lushly ornamented and has warm lighting to contrast the gray rainstorm, a cozy atmosphere for sure. She meets his family, has a meal, changes into dry clothes, thanks Tada, then heads home to the house she just moved into… which happens to be right next door.
Tada and Teresa’s relationship feels contrived and hard to believe from the moment they first meet. An unbelievable amount of plot conveniences bring them together, it feels less like their relationship develops organically and more a writer forces them together. The show attempts to play off the cliched intro as a joke, but it’s still lazy writing no matter how much you laugh about it. Aside from these contrivances, they leads don’t have much chemistry with one another for the vast majority of the show.
Often times it feels as though Tada’s writing bends over backward in order to Fall in Love; his character and the relationship he has with Teresa never feel believable enough to be the foundation for the series. He’s unrealistically oblivious to Teresa’s pining over him, that is until the plot decides it’s the right time for them to finally acknowledge their feelings. It’s contrived for the sake of creating a compelling resolution, but in doing so it makes Tada difficult to look at as anything but a plot device for most of the show. There is no analysis of his personality that wouldn’t lead to frustration, obliviousness for the sake of stalling the story is lazy writing and does not make good characters. Occasionally the show lampshades his emotional unawareness with the fact that his parents were killed in a car crash when he was younger, but we never see him from a personal enough perspective to understand why he became closed off or to what degree it affects him in the present. Why does it feel like these days more and more anime mistake emotionally-damaged characters for brain-damaged ones?
In one of the show’s best and funniest episodes, narrated by Tada’s cat Nyanko Big (a far more interesting character), the two protagonists share a sensitive moment that seemed on the surface like something out of a much better series. However, this is Tada-kun we’re dealing with so there’s practically no introspection; when Teresa catches Nyanko Big from a tree and falls back onto Tada only for him to catch her, it’s an excellent timed moment of silence between the two yet it has almost no impact. While that moment showcases the very understated burgeoning love Teresa has for Tada, it never feels like a mutual romance. When they make eye contact in a seemingly mutually tender moment there is no sign anything is on Tada’s mind. He’s totally vacant. There’s never a hint he might be in love outside of these moments where he might blush a little and only to return to normal moments later, unphased. Any potential for development is squashed, there is no satisfying growth for him. When the ending inevitably has to wrap up the story in a ‘satisfying’ way, his character arc takes a jarringly rapid change to compensate for the missing development. Leaving both him and the finale feeling underserved and artificial.
At least Teresa’s feelings for Tada feel somewhat genuine. Lasting effects of their understated flirtations are seen in Teresa throughout the show. Her feelings develop more and more until she has to face them in a somewhat compelling resolution. Sadly, any potentially remarkable scenes that Teresa has get entirely snuffed out by Tada’s dull idiocy, but they’re also somewhat helped by the interesting visual language. Through subtle visual storytelling techniques we learn that she’s pining for him from the start; over the course of the show we see brief moments of her lost in thought looking at him with starry eyes. It’s not one-dimensional drama like Tada’s; she gets enough scenes describing her life situation for us to know that she is constantly considering the arranged marriage she’s in and how it ensures that she could never have a relationship with Tada. Her dilemma is miles more compelling than anything else the series offers emotionally, but that’s thanks to the strong directing rather than the writing.
Plenty of care has been put into the visuals. There’s no shortage of small but purposeful details added to the settings the cast inhabit; homes lined with photos of memories from previous episodes or ones that refer to their backstories. Is it enough to outweigh the mediocre characterization? No, not by a long shot, but at least it’s something to keep you engaged with it and tells you that the director cared about their craft. Where the visuals are more effective is the comedy. With the director of Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun, it’s clear to see why the comedy here is so strong; jokes are well timed and there’s so much character animation to telegraph a joke and convey the cast’s personalities. Of course, when jokes are derived from the bland characters they almost always fall flat.
Where the majority of my gripes come in is the side characters. This is a rom-com after all, so there is quite a few of them. None of them make up for what the protagonists lack, a few even bring the whole show down. Most of them are incredibly generic one-note cardboard cutouts, the ones that do receive development are somehow made even worse with insufferable episodes dedicated to telling us the boring story of characters that I can’t imagine anyone would care about. There’s Teresa’s friend/servant who traveled with her to Japan, Alec. Her whole character is just the tough girl who is overprotective of Teresa because a few shallow reasons told to us through a backstory. She often beats up the clown of the group, generic clown kid who’s name I literally can’t remember. His only purpose was comic relief, and his animation was the most detailed of the group to showcase his comedic personality, but in truth, everything about him felt so cringy with an overdone voice performance to add even more annoyance.
There are a few others who hang around the group like Tada’s sister and occasionally the prince engaged to Teresa. I somewhat appreciated how Teresa’s suitor wasn’t portrayed as an evil threat like many tropey arranged marriage stories do, but instead as a nice guy who respects her wishes. However, his passivity also leads him to have no impact in the story. He’s surprisingly forgettable for one of the more unusual archetypes, but the show wastes all of his on-screen presence, leaving him a bland cipher like the rest of the recurring cast.
Hajime, or more commonly known as Pin-senpai is undoubtedly the worst part of the show by a wide margin. Introduced by him creepily ogling the female cast to ascertain their breast sizes, defusing the saccharine factor this series was going for whenever he appears on-screen. He’s constantly yelling, so much yelling with such an irritating voice. He is never content with just fading into the background while on-screen with everyone else, he has to scream as loudly as possible whenever he speaks. Having an obnoxious character like Pin is fine for a comedy series of this type; but what he screams about, no, what his whole character is about, is so pointless and weird, sometimes downright creepy. He adores a model, Hina, to an absurd degree because he loves big boobs… You can have a perverted character, that’s fine, but he is over exaggerated to an obnoxious and unbelievable degree. None of his jokes are ever funny unless its other characters making fun of him; like how they used Hina merchandise to trick him into losing their photography club game.
Pin’s character arc seemed little more than an excuse for him to seem less like an annoying walking cliche, and it fell flat. Sadly, the show gives him an entire episode meant to show he had some kind of compassion. His character had potential, with his childhood friend Hinako (notice the name??) who is so very clearly the model from the moment she’s introduced right next to the pinup poster. Throughout the show, there’s plenty of hints to indicate she’s in love with him, despite him not realizing the model he ogles ever day is actually his friend. Hinako looks the exact same as she does in her bikini shoots, except that she wears glasses. It’s such a stupid conflict that the show lampshades the lazy writing by having Alec point out that it’s obvious. This stupid conflict damages the believability of both Pin and Hinako because other than the cookie-cutter personalities they have nothing else to prove their unlikable stories aren’t all there is to them.
Their relationship arc literally culminates in Hinako disappointed at how Pinhead never realized she was the model all along, but she’s happy that he at least likes her idol personality and her boobs. Wow, great themes Tadakoi. Their episode is the most boring because of how one-dimensional the situation and characters are, but also one of the most distasteful ones. I guess you could say Hinako technically had character development, she discovered her fetish for cucking herself. Amazing. But Pinhead still has no redeeming value even after we’re forced to sit through his ‘development’ episode. Screw that guy.
Barely anything happens in Tadakoi until the final few episodes, that’s when it finally decides there needs to be some kind of progress made before the end. Regardless of the artificial developments made by the end, it’s always predictable; right from episode one, you can guess how the story will play out. Perhaps with more interesting characters, it could have been watchable in spite of these flaws, but instead, it’s just aggressively bland. No amount of lush sceneries and trained directing could save dull, lazy writing. At least the opening song is pretty good.
Tadakoi is the variety of mediocrity that will pass through the anime community with no impact, then inevitably be forgotten forever. You might get something out of it if you’re a fan of the director or if you’re new to anime. Otherwise, I suggest you skip this generic fluff.
Original anime like this doesn’t fall into the trap of a weak adaptation. It has no material to follow after all. The story involves Mituyoshi Tada as he meets a foreigner named Teresa Wagner during her trip to Japan. As a rom-com, you should definitely expect love to develop between the pair, right? Well, that would be the case if Tada actually understands it. To be fair, love is a complicated subject but for Tada, he treats it indifferently. There’s undeniable chemistry between the two yet the show seems to rarely make a connection between them. However, the first few episodes did draw a big curiosity out of me. Teresa brings in a lot of her own personality and interest into the show as well. The idea of a Western foreigner coming to Japan has a lot of potential. Even from the first few episodes, she shows a lot of curiosity about Japan. It’s also shown that she is an avid fan of Rainbow Shougun, a fictional TV drama with samurai themes. My impression of her from early episodes is that she is a bit airheaded but kind to just about everyone. This is a contrast to Alec Magritte, Teresa’s caretaker who seems to be intensely protective of her friend. Unlike Teresa, she is blunt and often takes aggressive moves to protect her. That doesn’t mean she is a cruel person though. Alec is mainly close to Teresa because of her past and isn’t as easy to make friends with. She often gets into oddball moments with Kaoru because of his flirtatious personality and attempts to hit on her.
You’ve probably noticed by now but the show has a small character cast. The majority of the characters you meet in the first episode are the ones you’ll get to know for rest of the season. This also includes Tada’s classmates such a Hajime Sugimoto from the Photography club and class president Hinako Hasegawa. The show does also make time to give these two a spotlight in early episodes although it’s more of a tease than anything else. To me, it’s goofy and funny although also unoriginal. The idea of a girl living a double life with a love interest being oblivious isn’t new in rom-coms. There’s not much uniqueness to either Hajime or Hinako in terms of character development. They also fall into the character archetype that you can find in any series that takes place at school. Even more questionable is a character named Kentarou Yamashita who enters the show as a comic relief. There’s a comical reason why he’s nicknamed Yamashita Dog with his behavior. The character chemistry he shares with Yui Tada (Mitsuyoshi’s sister) is pretty forgettable honestly. That’s actually a big part that holds the show back from achieving success. It feels like as each episode passes on, the characters become less and less intriguing. Teresa and Tada gets sidetracked as the show tests the viewers’ patience. I say this with an open mind because I want to love them. Even for characters like Charles de Loire, I wanted him to be more engaging in the show besides just being a guy with French nobility. His role as a fiancé to Teresa originally gave me the feeling that he may be a love rival to Tada. Unfortunately, this series doesn’t really capitalize no bringing much romantic drama. Tada is often too stoic and thinks straightforward without much emotion to bring much interest. Teresa is too energetic that contrasts with both characters’ personalities. When you mix these ingredients together, the end product isn’t appealing.
Well, you’re probably thinking if any character in the show is worth paying attention to overall. Thankfully, there is and it’s not even a human. Nyanko Big is a stray cat that Tada found and adopted a decade ago. The furball has a lot of human personality and one episode even focuses on his little cat adventure. This anime needed episodes like this to bring out a more refreshing style of storytelling. Because let’s face it, a majority of the episodes feels the same. I can’t say this without shaking my head honestly because I really expected more from the writer involved. Yoshiki Nakamura previously worked on Skip Beat and that bought out a refreshing outlook on the rom-com genre. What does Tada-kun bring out instead? It’s a half-assed generic anime story that somehow made me care just about anything else than our two main leads. By the time this show reaches near its end, you may be wondering if Tada and Teresa are even worth being the main characters. It’s almost sad to see how the cookie crumbles. I’m not going to lie. The suspenseful subplot about Alec’s love interest made me more curious than to see if Tada and Teresa will get together in the end or not.
Despite my disappointment in the storytelling, there’s a lot of good to say about the animation quality. This was expected as some of the staff previously worked on Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. In essence, the show is colorful with a sense of youth. The springtime backgrounds really brings out the setting that’s sprinkled with vibrant colors. Character designs also look elegant especially for characters like Teresa, Charles, and Alec. Even comedic moments are timed right with the body language and humorous expressions. There are also windows of moments that makes couple pairings impactful especially for the case of Teresa and Tada. While the show lacks impact on storytelling, the technical quality definitely deserves some praise. Even the photography elements got my attention with the precise shots and camera angles. Similarly, the music of the series brings an element of beauty thanks to the modern talents of Yukari Hashimoto. She also previously worked on Nozaki-kun and there’s definitely a similar feel in the music for both shows. The voice cast also did a phenomenal job at portraying their characters. Nyanko Big especially gets praise from me as a cat that is made larger than life. Even Teresa and Charles deserves some attention for their voice being filled with elegance and charm. They behave like characters of upper class in their home nation and that’s something I find believable.
With all due respect, it’s really hard for me to say that Tada-kun succeeded in the end with what it offered. The show started with a lot of promise but ultimately stabbed itself in the foot. It really felt like a test of patience for viewers that degenerated into a cheesy rom-com story. Characters like Alec and Nynako Big overshadowed them early on and it’s hard to look back. I’m not a big fan of photography and this anime is definitely not worth a thousand words.
6: Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen
English: Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card
Japanese: カードキャプターさくら クリアカード編
MAL Score: 7.65
With all of the Clow Cards recaptured and changed into her own Sakura Cards, Sakura Kinomoto now enters her first year at Tomoeda Middle School. After her initial day of classes, Sakura reunites with her love Shaoran Li, who informs her that he is permanently moving back to Tomoeda. Much to her surprise, it even turns out that Shaoran will attend the same school and it seems as if Sakura’s life is heading in all the right directions.
However, when Sakura goes to sleep, she encounters in her dream a mysterious cloaked figure and finds herself surrounded by transparent cards. Waking up in fear, Sakura is shocked to see her dream has come true, with the Sakura Cards having turned clear. Continued dreamlike encounters with the unknown enemy and her gaining a new magical key sets the stage for Cardcaptor Sakura’s latest adventure!
Nostalgia, while is a strong tool to make a sequel successful with high ratings, is not enough if you are banking only… and only on it.
The act of watching the sequel of a beloved show itself brings on enough nostalgia. The older audiences feel happy inside, thinking of good old days when the original show used to air and how they enjoyed it and talked about it with their friends; or enjoyed the show alone while cuddling up with their house pet, and parents moved around doing daily chores, smiling secretly at their kids’ lit-up faces.
Your etc. is part of that older generation audience, and is a huge admirer of CCS. And precisely that is the reason Clear Card-hen has disappointed me. Big time.
Regarding Story and Character, I am going to be in rant-mode now, please bear with me.
Yes, of course I shall compare this to the original saga. The original saga was not simply about a girl who can do magic and plays around with cards. It had decently paced narrative with immense character development, surprisingly good exploration of love, gender identity, sacrifice, family and most importantly, efficient magical world-building without expanding it in an out-of-control manner, in only 70 episodes.
On the contrary, Clear Card-hen has a pace that certainly reminds you of all the bad fillers of shounen animes, the SOL way! Even after 16 episodes, the story reaches nowhere, taking quite a test of patience. When a season is only 22 episodes long, this is certainly not the ideal way to advance a narrative. The new narrative has such limited amount of new elements – only introducing new characters does not imply the story will immediately feel new. While there were SOL-ish elements in CCS, this sequel has stretched that into “I-will-read-a-WHOLE-story-to-kids-and-use-up-an-episode” level.
Why are the episodes consuming so much time by revisiting the same locations to catch similar cards? Was a new location so hard to design? No. The answer is, “remember, we had
In a dynamic medium like Anime, if one does not follow the audio-visual rule “show, don’t tell”, then it quickly becomes a boring tale. The lunchtime banter among friends or “remember that?” between Sakura and Kero / Tomoyo/ ANYONE added surprisingly little to the actual story.
This show does not give detailed attention to an important factor like character development, given the fact that it takes place some years later. What happened to the MC? Mind that, Sakura is fourteen now. But her behaviour still does not feel like older than that of CCS. Her “Oyeeeehhhhh”, the frequency of which is much more than her younger years (how??) and endlessly thanking and praising Akiho-chan, while are very cute for the first couple of times, quickly become repetitive aspects of her behaviour. Sakura can do better.
The only possible answer to this is that Madhouse is trying to grab the attention of the new younger audiences of Japan and around the world, for whom this sweetness of Sakura is new. But while nostalgia is the trump card, it is surprising to see Sakura herself not maturing with time. Even Anime-only Meilin has come a long way, she does not behave as she used to. Syaoran, while having frustratingly less dialogs except in the last three episodes, has grown up from that brat-y type of CCS.
As for the other characters, well, we come to know very little about the old characters and even less about the new characters, rather than seeing them saying endless thank you to each other and praising each other. Meanwhile, Syaoran boy keeps saying just “yeah” to everyone.
Romance of Syaoran and Sakura certainly took a backseat, which it shouldn’t have, after all those build-ups in CCS series and the movies. Interaction of Touya and Yue, while remained interesting, was SO short that I am sure many viewers were left feeling unfulfilled. A tease? Okay. But Touya’s secret power, which he will unleash whenever he feels right, serves no purpose in this season except being all words.
Akiho is a puppet and is painfully and repetitively so. Had the season been longer, we could have dived deeper into her and Kaito’s backstory, but the conscious decision of the director and animators to keep everything as the material for the next season is hardly the right way to keep the audience interested throughout.
The OP1 “CLEAR” and the ED2 are my favourites. Background sound is not as adorably cheesy as CCS, but not exceptional either.
The art is beautiful and the animation feels refreshing. It’s 2018, and it’s Madhouse, so of course! This is a good update.
I was elated as the show started, and was quite forgiving in the beginning. It was great to see Sakura and others again! But then, I grew tired of waiting for the big reveals, new magic by new characters, new power of old characters and so on. Nope. It never really took off.
To me, Clear Card-hen has clearly gone overboard with nostalgia and the SOL trend. Only the last two episodes are comparatively decent ones. The season leaves everything so open-ended that one is bound to feel cheated by the brains behind this show; ‘okay, so you simply want me to watch another season, you never had any intention to make it a concise, self-sufficient narrative’.
Will I watch the next seasons? Yes, I will. But this “hen” needs to step up the game. Else it is nothing more than an okay-kind nostalgia-fest than being the true successor of arguably the most interesting magical girl show.
I’ll wait, Sakura and friends.
The series starts with a beautiful opening performed by Maaya Sakamoto, who did the third and final opening for the original, which was why personal favorite from that series. First impressions are looking pretty good! Then the actual show begins. The first thing I noticed was that the overall color design felt significantly more washed out than the original. The hand painted backgrounds, fluid animation, consistently great storyboarding, amongst many other things, made Cardcaptor Sakura feel warm and alive. Clear Card’s digital backgrounds doesn’t even hold a candle. Nothing about this show pops quite the same way. Even the animation feels a lot less lively. Characters rarely go into chibi mode, which is something that is often very typical and commonplace for Clamp series, which wouldn’t really be a problem if the facial expressions weren’t also so consistently dull.. Again, the original does a way better job at portraying emotions across the board, giving those funny scenes more comedic value and those sad scenes more weight.
But visuals aren’t the only element that factors into a show’s overall quality. What about the plot itself? Well… it sure is Cardcaptor Sakura. The overall story structure is pretty much the same, characters act exactly the same, even some of the music and most of the cards are lifted straight from the original. Gale is just Windy, Labyrinth is just The Maze, Mirror is just… The Mirror. You get the idea. It’s honestly pretty frustrating that I have to talk about the original in comparison so much, but Clear Card seriously feels like it has a bit of an identity crisis, and that’s my biggest problem with this show in general.
The manga and the anime came out about 20 years after the original. With such a huge time gap, I would’ve wanted them to either do some changes, such as make the characters older to better reflect the audience that would’ve been excited for this show in the first place, or start over from scratch and remake the original or introduce a new cast to sell the show to a new generation of anime fans. Instead it’s in this awkward in-between spot where it doesn’t quite offer enough new for older fans, and isn’t accessible enough to new fans because they would have to watch 70 episodes of a show that’s over 20 years old now beforehand.
With all that being said, I wouldn’t be honest if I said I didn’t like anything about Clear Card. I really liked the first ED. The song and animation is very lively and playful, and I also found it cool how they reference cel animation in the first shot of the ED with the name plates. The characters are only colored within that small frame, with the full character sketch taking up the rest of the picture, just like how cel animation is done. The original was obviously made before the era where digital animation was the standard for anime, so I thought that was a cute nod. There are also certain moments that do capture the spirit of the original show, with my favorite episode being episode 19. That was a great episode.
So how do I feel about Clear Card as a whole? As a huge fan of the original Cardcaptor Sakura, I was very disappointed that the sequel didn’t feel like much of an evolution of the series, but instead more like the exact same thing we already watched 20 years ago, just not quite as good due to its lackluster presentation in comparison to the original, as well as reused plot points and ideas, making it an overall exhausting watch.
Would I recommend Clear Card to you? Eh, probably not. You might get more out of this than I did, but I wouldn’t raise my expectations too high. Just be aware that it ends on a massively unsatisfying cliffhanger. I won’t spoil what happens, and we may still get a second season someday to resolve the plot. I’m just throwing that out there for anyone who hates cliffhangers as much as I do. Actually, maybe watch Saint Tail if you’re clamoring for more anime like Cardcaptor Sakura. That show doesn’t get nearly as much love as it deserves.
I’ve both watched the first series and movies, and read the manga (the final volume). Like other anime I’ve been watching at the time, this show helped keep my spirits up during some dark times in my life.
Madhouse and CLAMP have come a long way since the original CCS 20 years ago. Madhouse re-entered my radar with Hanayamata a few years ago, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and the animation and production quality there belied their struggles in the early 2010s. Likewise I haven’t really kept up with CLAMP since the early episodes of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, a series I just couldn’t keep up with like I could with CCS.
Then the preview episode, “Sakura and the Two Bears” came out. Sure, there were a handful of shortcuts (“stick figure” like kids), but overall this was a “reboot” from the final episode of the series, modeled rather faithfully after the final chapter of the original manga, but with a more understated coloring compared to the first series’ saturated coloring. “Oh… could this be?” I wondered. Yup, new anime confirmed with Madhouse as the production house. This is a welcome reunion in my book.
Possible spoiler: At first I thought this was manga canon, but… well, yes and no. The preview is straight from the final chapter of the (edit) manga, but in the series proper there are shots from the anime series finale, as well as references to the 2nd film in dialogue. It’s entirely possible we’re looking at parallel universes here (which appears to have been a fascination of CLAMP’s since Tsubasa Chronicle, and it’s a tempting pitfall for any fantasy or sci-fi writer). I think if they’re careful, CLAMP could have a badass show/manga that not only delivers a great story in its own right, but resolves the differences between manga and anime, or, even better, preserves both and brings them together somehow. It really seems to me that they enjoyed what Madhouse did by expanding the manga into a 70-episode hit kids’ anime series and 2 films, and they wanted to bring that expanded world into the manga as well (not sure if they actually talk about content exclusively from the anime in the manga, this is more intuition than anything).
The first cour (12 episodes or so) feels like a tribute to the fans of the first series. From the opening animation, to Maaya Sakamoto singing, to the continued use of the first series’ soundtrack and voice cast, to familiar scenes here and there, the callbacks to series 1 are legion. Having watched the first series, it was fun looking at all the ways the production staff drew from series 1, and I think this was absolutely the right thing to do. We are picking up right where the first manga left off, so it makes sense to start with the familiar and have fun with it.
Clear Card repeats the tried and true episodic formula from before, but with new dangers, new cards, a new key, and a new twist. The slow pace might be a turn-off for those who demand faster-paced storytelling, but remember, this is a sequel to a 70-episode production where the first arc was almost an entire year’s worth of anime. Not only this, it’s a kid’s show that’s heavily character-driven– if you move the plot too quickly, you will leave the younger viewers in the dust, characters won’t develop organically, and it simply will be too jarring a difference in a world where fans pick apart everything in a sequel with an electron microscope.
Visually, the more understated coloring lends itself to brighter, more dramatic action, and a less “cartoony” look. The coloring reminds me of Honey and Clover in a good way, and their experience with particle systems/effects from Hanayamata (and probably other works) serve them well here.
As I mentioned, the soundtrack is largely the same, but there are some new additions, like the battle theme, transformation/release theme, and the capture theme. Honestly, this is a good (if economical) choice to me. Even though the older synth tracks might sound dated now, they’ve held up well. Rocket Beat is a fantastic OP, even if it’s not something I’ll put in my car playlist; Clear by Sakamoto is all right, but I think Platina is much better (because Yoko Kanno). The ED in the second cour features Akiho’s voice actress, and she’s a good voice to listen to while the mascots play out a funny scene; while she doesn’t play a voice role, Saori Hayami sings the first ED. She’s pleasant to the ears, and yet, again, I wouldn’t put Jewelry in my playlist.
I suppose if there’s one gripe I would throw at this, it’s that the gang seem like elementary school kids but with different uniforms and a different school. This is partly due to the character design and the voice acting/direction. I know it’s a kid’s show and you don’t really want to be discussing the birds and bees here, but it kinda makes it seem as though people go from dwarves to giants as they reach high school age. Not a deal-breaker for me, and the suspense element does help convey the passage of time.
SPOILER: I’d thought they would wrap up the entire arc in this series, but that didn’t happen. I actually think they’re fixing for a film, if not season 2. I think the kind of showdown that’s brewing is too small for 22 or even 44 minutes of television. There’s a possible contradiction between manga and the finale, so I desperately hope that (a) Madhouse does NOT fall into the same trap that sank Rozen Maiden and a few other series (i.e. rushing ahead of the manga), and that (b) CLAMP does NOT rage quit or completely wreck the world with their fascination of alternate universes.
5: Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san
English: Teasing Master Takagi-san
MAL Score: 7.73
Having a friend that knows you inside out should be a good thing, but in Nishikata’s case, the opposite is true.
His classmate Takagi loves to tease him on a daily basis, and she uses her extensive knowledge of his behavior to predict exactly how he will react to her teasing, making it nearly impossible for Nishikata to ever make a successful comeback. Despite this, Nishikata vows to someday give Takagi a taste of her own medicine by making her blush out of embarrassment from his teasing.
For those that have become infatuated with a crush, for those that are adjusting to their feelings of attraction for another, for those that are stumbling their way into their first relationship, Skilled Teaser Takagi-san is a reflection of their lives, their own romantic endeavors manifesting themselves on a grand scale. As this show ignites and refines the chemistry between its two protagonists, Nishitaka and Takagi, it reveals its understanding of relationships and the intricacies they possess. Subdued in its tone and serene in its outlook, Skilled Teaser Takagi-san’s handling of its central couple is accomplished with nigh-unparalleled ease, using their series of frivolous yet elaborate pranks to slowly and steadily transition into something more, and its examination of their relationship is delivered with a rather unconventional approach.
When two contrasting personalities attempt to align, there is an army of problems that arise along the way due to the differences between them. Although said differences can generate a rift in relationships, they can also strengthen them; contrasting personalities naturally heighten common interests. While most works of the romance genre opt for discovering these common interests, Skilled Teaser Takagi-san almost entirely ignores this pursuit. Instead, what it values is how these characters think and why they’re attracted to one another. In particular, it values these concepts as they relate to Nishitaka.
It is his point-of-view that Skilled Teaser Takagi-san operates from. It is his series of pranks, his attempts to outwit and “tease” Takagi, that this show mainly revolves around. Nishitaka is always thinking of ways to perplex Takagi, either by concocting a complex scheme to use on her or (more often than not) by solving the problems she gives him. Every challenge Nishitaka tackles, every puzzle he confronts, makes for a satisfying watch. No two obstacles are alike; each distinct in their own way, they’re deceptively simple at first glance but dangerously intricate the more you analyze them. And, boy, does Nishitaka analyze these obstacles. The music crescendos to a fever pitch, with saxophones screaming their way through, and the animation dizzily spirals out of control, its color scheme constantly changing, as he ceaselessly conjures countermoves and hypothetical solutions in his head. To Nishitaka, these pranks are far from trivial pastime activities. To him, they are battles of the intellectual variety, epic in scale, each choice determining one’s fate.
It’s obvious that Nishitaka cares deeply about outsmarting Takagi, which makes it all the more depressing to witness him falling short time after time. It matters not what plan he formulates, what measures he takes, what approach he adapts; the result never changes. Nishitaka is Sisyphus, forever doomed to try changing his fate, to watch his efforts go to waste, to repeat the same pattern. It’s not his fault, though. With his remarkable tenacity, perception, confidence, and cunning, Nishitaka definitely distinguishes himself as a talented individual. Were he competing against someone else, against anyone else, one could argue that he’d easily be more than a match for them. However, as long as Nishitaka remains tethered to his current circumstances, he’ll always be defeated. Sure, he’s quite intelligent for someone his age but, for all of his virtues, he pales in comparison to the titular character.
“Prodigy” is an overused word; it’s a term that’s often given to people who don’t deserve such praise. Takagi, however, is an exception. Not only is she able to unravel the most intricate of Gordian knots but she also does so effortlessly. Not only does she repeatedly confound Nishitaka with riddles, traps, and decoys galore but she also manipulates each and every one to obscure her true motives. However, it’s not just Nishitaka that Takagi dupes. On multiple occasions, she easily deciphers the tricks her classmates pull on her, alongside subjecting them to a few of her own, and (in one memorable instance) she’s even able to deceive her teacher, manipulating him into disciplining someone else for her transgression.
With each competition, with each episode, with each challenge, it’s almost pre-determined who’s going to persevere in the end. On the one hand, this pattern of predictability causes Takagi to come across as a Mary Sue, one who’s almost entirely defined by her ceaseless victories. On the other hand, you simply cannot resist watching her mercilessly outfox her peers time after time. Takagi is akin to a world-renowned chessmaster practicing against novices of the game, a decorated military tactician competing against cadets in the field, a veteran criminal investigator matching wits with rookies on the job; the inevitable outcome of each encounter never detracts from the entertainment value that they provide. While it is pleasing to witness Takagi flaunting her intellect, it’s in conveying this show’s themes where she really proves her worth.
Skilled Teaser Takagi-san is, perhaps more than anything else, a master of subverting expectations. With each issue that arises, the solution to them is never what you’d anticipate. Takagi and the show itself deceive you into assuming, alongside Nishitaka, that the motives, nuances, and hints in each situation are leading to one solution when the true answer is entirely different. Again and again, this show emphasizes that Takagi’s victories are due to Nishitaka overthinking each situation, attempting to uncover the deeper meaning behind it, instead of choosing the most obvious answer. Through its titular character, Skilled Teaser Takagi-san argues that the problems we encounter in life aren’t as challenging or complex as we think they are. Through Takagi, this show argues that if we can push aside the details surrounding these problems (alongside our preconceived notions of them) and simply examine them for what they are, it’d be easy to find a solution for our issues.
For Takagi, each challenge presents an opportunity for Nishitaka to acquire more knowledge, and she strives to accomplish that goal. Yes, part of why Takagi teases him is for her own amusement; she enjoys watching her opponent panic, struggle and ultimately collapse under the pressure she places upon him. However, the other part is because Takagi wants to see Nishitaka mature and grow. The puzzles that she tasks him with are crafted out of love; Takagi gives Nishitaka a hard time mainly because she cares about him, and this detail really strengthens their relationship.
When Skilled Teaser Takagi-san directs its focus away from the smoke and mirrors, it’s actually a genuinely sweet and charming show to watch, and the central couple’s relationship emphasizes its virtues. On the surface, Nishitaka and Takagi couldn’t be more different if they tried. While Nishitaka approaches every situation with tact and caution, Takagi is far more direct. While Nishitaka leans towards the naive, Takagi is incredibly perceptive. While Nishitaka is something of a workaholic, Takagi is more relaxed. However, with a closer observation, one can see that, despite the surface-level differences, they are essentially alike. Both Nishitaka and Takagi are confident and intelligent individuals that adopt an extremely timid approach to their relationship (Nishitaka more than Takagi). Watching them develop more and more into expressing their feelings for one another, while supporting each other along the way, is easily the highlight of the show. In fact, the central couple’s bond is so heartwarming, nuanced, and inspiring that it allows one to overlook the more unappealing aspects, the various deficiencies and mishaps, of this show that materialize just outside the insulated sphere of the central couple.
100% Unrequited Love is an in-universe anime that not only inspires a few of Nishitaka’s schemes but it also serves to poke fun at other works of the romance genre. By overloading Unrequited Love with genre-specific stereotypes, cliches and tropes, Skilled Teaser Takagi-san claims that it’s different from the other shows of its chosen field, more intelligent and self-aware than the rest. However, when it involves its supporting cast, Takagi-san resorts to the same tiresome and tedious cliches as its peers. Whenever this show transitions away from its central couple and towards the people around them, it almost always suffers because of it. While the supporting cast strengthens Takagi-san’s youthful charm, they also represent this show at its weakest. With each appearance the supporting cast makes, it becomes more and more apparent that, outside of its central couple, Skilled Teaser Takagi-san isn’t all that adept at developing its characters.
The relationship between Mano and Nakai, classmates of Nishitaka and Takagi, is among the most dull and lifeless that I’ve seen in recent memory. Mano is the “shy one”, blushing, squirming, and stammering about to no end, while Nakai is but a cardboard cutout, hardly worth mentioning, really, and they lack even a faint resemblance of chemistry. Then, there’s Mina and Sanae, classmates of the central couple that serve as comic relief. The adventures that this pair embark on are rife with memorable gags – my personal favorite is a recurring act where they dub over random conversations, like an exchange between cats or a chat between the central couple – but they tend to wear themselves out after a while. Mina and Sanae’s adventures are meant to represent the protagonists’ shenanigans from a different, more carefree, perspective but they (more or less) come across as re-iterations of previous events than anything creative or unique. It doesn’t help matters much that this show stylistically pigeonholes these two. One is the “genki girl”, manically working herself into a frenzy over trivial matters, while the other is the “quiet one”, silently observing the mess that unfolds around her, and Takagi-san never allows either of them an opportunity to establish themselves beyond these classifications.
When Takagi-san strays from its intended course (mishandling a supporting character here, re-treading an old plot line there), it’s the central couple’s chemistry that helps re-adjust its focus. Skilled Teaser Takagi-san is, in part, an elaborate game of chess, a neverending battle of wits, with brilliant strategists on either side. It is also a refreshingly pure and simple tale of romance, a love story mostly unchained by the conventions of its peers. And all of it is deftly secured by the incredible bond between its protagonists. Fascinated with their intellect and awestruck by their passion, you cannot resist wishing to accompany the central couple in whatever direction their relationship guides them toward. Time itself ceases to move as you rush headlong into Takagi-san, allowing its loving, all-encompassing embrace to overtake you.
My jadedness eventually died out in November of that same year and I started to love romcom animes again.
Fast forward 4 months later where I made a list of romcom anime that I should give a second chance. Skilled Teaser Takagi San was the first anime on that list and I watched the whole series again in it’s dubbed form on Blu-ray.
After re-watching Skilled Teaser Takagi San I went from disliking it to loving it to a point it became not only one of my favourite shows of 2018 but one of my favourites romcoms period.
The story follows a young boy Nishikata who mercilessly gets teased by his classmate Takagi. Not wanting to be an easy target he swears vengeance on his classmate Takagi for all the times she’s teased him and made him blush out of embarrassment.
Will he be able to make Takagi-san blush from embarrassment even once in the end? Find out in Skilled Teaser Takagi San.
Saying that the story of Skilled Teaster Takagi San sweet is an understatement. This is one of the sweetest and innocent shows I have seen in a long while. Where do I begin? For starters does a fantastic job at establishing the shows innocent nature by having the kids in the series behave like actual natural kids that you will encounter in real life.
No unrealistic, melodrama, no misunderstanding contrivances just actual kids living they youth as people. It is very grounded on that aspect as it makes the world of Skilled Teaser Takagi San unique and refreshing compared to most romcom anime.
The teasing matches themselves range from engaging, smart and addicting. Some would say that the series is way too repetitive for its own and I can understand why however the teasing matches add more to this show then hinder it thanks to brilliant character interactions that never gets old.
The best part of theses teasing matches is that is they were not contrived and mean spirited. Nishikata may do some stupid things during the teaching matches that causes him to lose but the show reminds the viewer that he is a kid and kid’s generally would do anything to reach the goal even if it’s a dumb move that Takagi often comments on.
Another strong aspect of Skilled Teaser Takagi San is how it’s romance. Dialogue wise, especially in the beginning, may not be much however it completely makes by having character movements and body language.
Episode 10 is the best example of this as it was the episode that these two would eventually become a couple. From Nishikata bushing more frequently than usual to Takagi getting more physical to Nishikata Skilled Teaser Takagi San showcased that you don’t always need long dialogue just to indicate love.
(End of spoilers)
If, there one thing that Skilled Teaser Takagi San does masterfully well that most other romcom anime lack these days is character chemistry.
Despite them having these teasing matches on a daily bases they actually do support one another very well.
Add up to this show’s rich comedy that would make anyone and you got yourself a charming romcom story on your hands.
If I had any nitpicks at with this innocent cute love story it would slow pacing at times then again this is a show that features primarily a child character cast and children tend to learn things slower compare to adults.
However, this nitpick is nothing compared to the fact that the show at times still functions like a short despite having 24 minutes of run time. It wasn’t noticeable in the first and last couple of episodes but when that slights issue happened it really showed as some episodes did not translate well to the 24 minutes format. This is especially distracting when the show decided to focus on the funny but less interesting trio of girls.
Lucky these small nitpicks that I had didn’t damage the overall story for Skilled Teaser Tagaki San as It’s a simple, nicely directed and entertaining slice of life romcom.
Naturally, this is a character driven show meaning the characters for a character-driven should bring they’re A game. Thankfully the chararters in Skilled Teaser Takagi San are great and charming to watch from start to finish.
Nishikata is a sweet and adorable idiot. He consistently screws up his teasing antics against Takagi, and he always feels bad for screwing up. However, while he may be an idiot he makes up with determination and humanity. Despite him flailing he’s very detected to beat Takagi at a teasing match however at the same time he’s not a mean spirited angsty brat who wishes Takagi out of his life. This makes him a great character to watch because despite everything that happens to him still a human.
The real star of the show is without the question, Takagi. A first glance, she appears to your typical kindhearted and caring person who loves to tease her classmate Nishikata.
However, there’s more to her than her teasing antics. She has a strong crush on him where she is constantly doing these sexual teasing acts just to penetrate Nishikata bluishness.
This makes her an interesting foil for Nishikata to overcome and seeing her tease and outsmart him in the most unpredictable and savage ways was intriguing to watch.
Despite Takagi being my favourite character in the show, there was one slight problem I with her is that she can be a bit of a Mary Sue at times. She’s not one of the theses annoying types or anything but at times she can be too perfect for her own good. Hopefully, this slight problem will get fixed in season 2.
Despite that small complaint, Takagi is an incredibly fun and likeable character to watch.
The supporting characters are surprisingly good. While they don’t develop as characters they were enjoyable chararters especially the main girl trio who were some of the funniest supporting chararters I have seen from 2018 thanks to nicely done short stories.
I’m glad that the series was able to have a strong cast because it wasn’t for the characters then the series would be nothing more than a tedious slog feast.
On to the visuals side of things, Takagi San is gorgeous. The background scenery is masterfully drawn in a realistic way and it only made better with the show smooth colour palette that brings the scenery to life.
Character designs were simple and nicely drawn especially Takagi. Forehead memes aside her design is gorgeously cute to the eye and I really adore her expressions.
The animation may not be as good as the art as the series relays on basic animation techniques for movement but it was still serviceable for what it is.
As for the sound department, it’s very good and fits well the cute and innocent show.
This is all thanks to the Hiroaki Tsutsumi did an outstanding job at bringing this charming romcom series to life with the light instrument pieces that play in the background.
Both opening and ending themes are super cute and perfectly fitted the show.
Romcom anime generally have a hard time when it comes to English Dubs as many of them especially back then suffered from subpar audio quality and bad acting. When I decided to watch this show dubbed I was worried that these two cute love birds (Takagi and Nishikata) would be butchered by poor acting.
Thankfully Funimation manages to produce a fantastic dub for it.
Funimation’s rising figure Sarah Wiedenheft did an outstanding job voicing and portraying the cute Takagi. Another great performance in the dub goes to Aaron Dismuke voicing the determined Nishikata. Every other performance ranges from good to great.
Great job Funimation.
Skilled Teaser Takagi San won’t be winning the best romcom anime award from me but it is still a great, fun and engaging show that I loved from start to finish.
The characters were great, funny and nicely written, the visuals for a slice of life, romcom anime were stunningly beautiful and music is sweet.
If you’re looking for an innocent and charming romcom anime to watch on a sunny afternoon than Skilled Teaser Takagi San would be a fantastic choice. It’s an innocent and charming romcom piece that I hold in high regard.
To put it simply, this show feels like watching two players compete but not in the way you’d think. To me, Takagi and Nishikata are two characters that play with each other in life. However, it’s a little bit different than competition. Between the two, Takagi is always the one that stays ahead of the game. Think of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. In that show, the coyote attempts to catch the road runner but always comes up short. For this show, Takagi is always successful in defeating Nishikata at pretty much anything. As predictable and tedious as that sounds, the show is actually more than that.
I’ve read the manga and even as a 1-cour adaptation, the show manages to deliver what’s needed to achieve success. The majority of the story focuses on the duo of Takagi and Nishikata as the two main characters. Every episode takes on multiple segments that features the two in various shenanigans. Even though the show is fictional, many of these shenanigans can occur in real life. These range from being tricked into strolling down a shadowy tunnel, competing in sports, test of courage, school academics, and among many others. The main attraction of the show is to sell the character chemistry between Takagi and Nishikata. This pair’s relationship will undeniably be the take or break for most viewers.
On the individual level, Takagi is a clever girl with a cute face and crafty mind. While she isn’t a prodigy or gifted with extraordinary talent, she often thinks outside the box to outsmart her opponent, Nishikata. Takagi’s character and personality also makes her quite likable as she carries a youthful charm. Even as she teases Nishikata, it’s more than just teasing. She wants to know him more and through their interactions each time, they unintentionally grow closer. There’s also no malice between the two despite the low key drama. From my perspective, Takagi considers Nishikata as more than just a friend. Some people may call that nonsense since she often plays Nishikata like a toy. However, if you really pay attention to their character interactions, it’s easy to realize how close they are. Does this venture into the territory of romance? That’s actually left for viewers’ imaginations. There’s the genre tag of romance for this series but it’s far from a love story.
Nishikata is pretty much the boy that gets defeated by the master of tease, the one and only Takagi. The show often tries to make audience anticipate with a thrilling feel on whether he can ever beat her or not. For me, this made me come back to this show every week. From simple games involving erasers to more complex mind games with playing with emotions, it’s the type of show that categorizes game as more than just winning. Nishikata himself is an average kid with an average personality and living an average life. We don’t find out much about his past and honestly, I don’t think we need to. This show focuses on the present and what’s ahead rather than characterization. In essence, the show’s character dynamics lies in how characters connect rather than how they develop.
Speaking of characters, there are also three others that show up in the show although they are unrelated to the series as a whole. Well, technically they are in a way but they don’t get involved with the teasing and games. That’s probably one of my complaints about this show. They should keep the characters from Ashita wa Doyoubi away in this anime as it feels like a distraction. Thankfully, their screen time isn’t long and mostly added to make the show flow a bit as a slice of life. That being said, I think the show succeeds not just in the character chemistry but also in pure comedy. The way characters react comes out naturally in many ways. This is especially true for Takagi as she often gets the joy of teasing Nishikata shown through her reactions. While Nishikata feels annoyed by this, he never truly hates her. In fact, you could say that he gets a joke out of losing countless times in their daily life games.
A simple show like this only needs simple visuals and TMS Entertainment accomplishes that. Takagi is undeniably adorable with her charming smile, bright personality, and facial expressions. She’s able to carry this show thanks to these characteristics that are adapted straight from the manga. Similarly, Nishikata has a goofy looking face that often makes him look like a fool, as viewers will expect in many episodes. It makes this pair incredibly cute to watch thanks to how they act. The art style enhances that experience. Their voice mannerisms also stays pretty consistent throughout the show. Even someone like Yuki Kaji can play a character like Nishikata as he’s been in the roles of goofball characters before. The incredible voice acting of Takagi makes her character even more believable as a master of teasing.
I decided to give this show an 8 after reflecting on what I watched. At first, it seems like a high score for such a dry story. However, it’s the pure comedy and character chemistry of the main character pair that won me over. Every episode made me laugh and it never betrayed expectations. There are times when I wish this show’s segments would last longer than it should. Time flies fast when you’re having fun after all.
4: High Score Girl
MAL Score: 7.82
The year is 1991, and arcade video games are the latest craze. Becoming a professional gamer is a far-fetched dream in an industry that has yet to spread its influence. Yet, that is the path sixth-grader Haruo Yaguchi wants to pursue. His aptitude for video games has earned him respect in local arcades and bestowed him with confidence and pride, both of which are shattered when fellow classmate Akira Oono easily defeats him in Street Fighter 2.
Akira is rich, pretty, and smart—as close as can be to a perfect girl. But Haruo had never cared about these things as, despite his multiple shortcomings as a person, his supremacy in video games was, in his mind, undisputed. So, now that someone has appeared who can rival him, part of Haruo cannot help but loathe her. Another part, however, itches for somebody who can compete with him on equal terms, and Akira is more than capable.
The word “video” in “video games” initially refers to a raster display device. But with the use of the term “video game”, now the word video game can be used to refer to games on any display device. The electronic systems used to run video games are called platforms, for example personal computers and game consoles.
taking the theme in the year one thousand nine hundred and ninety one in that year the video game is still experiencing its popularity, a child named “Haruo Yaguchi” spends his days playing video games regardless of how his future destiny is as if the world is just a link between himself and video games .
The manga composed by “Oshikiri Rensuke” has made JC Staff studios make this series as an anime series. JC Staff made this series feel good and have a big impact (to be honest this studio has adapted some good manga / light novels for example Shokugeki no Souma and of course Shakugan no Shana which was adapted by three seassons).
no part of the voice is like eating without a drink, it doesn’t feel complete if an anime doesn’t have a supportive voice. For this series of voice actors, “Suzushiro Sayumi” acts as Oono Akira (although Oono’s character rarely speaks) “Hirose Yuuki” acts as Hidaka Koharu and “Amasaki Kouhei” act as Haruo Yaguchi.
from the song theme section, it might be quite fitting and well, the opening song “New stranger” which was sung by Sora Tob Sakana was so good even though I don’t know who he was, but what made me like the series this time for the closing theme song could be a favorite ” Houkago die strauction “which was sung by Etsuko Yakushimaru.
in this series maybe at the beginning of the episode Haruo Yaguchi was an academic fool and only liked video games after the meeting with Oono Akira Yaguchi began to regard him as a rival but after a while Oono left Japan for a reason. When Oono left we got or the appearance of playing the third character, Hidaka Koharu, acts as an encouragement even though she also has feelings with Yaguchi.
The series adapted by JC Staff this time is more prominent on the impression of romance and honesty, I as an audience are very enthusiastic about this series and can’t wait for the story to continue where a child who often goes to the place of video games begins to have feelings for his rival and his meeting with Oono Akira grow the seeds of love are very good to watch for teenagers and adults.
in the end we as humans also have a sense where we want to relieve stress from our daily busyness with the existence of video game games which are now very sophisticated and this series reminds us that we do not fall into a world that is only temporary.
if you expect a happy life forever then fight from now on because of the future what we do today.
It’s just a generic love story where the main dude is an over exaggerated character whose behavior is the outcome of “anime” and not any personality traits. The main female is perfect gamer and student, beautiful and ideal girl with tragic past story AKA a textbook example of a Mary Sue. There is also another girl in the series who creates the fallacy of harem, but she only appears in few episodes and her entire purpose in the series is to have silent monologue inside her head where she praises the main dude for being so amazing and kind and perfect, and cucks herself for the “canon pairing”.
The romance is build around retro gaming and that arguably offers some nostalgia and the only content that is really worth of anything in the series. The romance writing itself almost entirely relies on the Mary Sue traits of the female lead where we get cliches that commonly occur in shoujo romances, and the main dude acting like prince charming whose life resolves around the Mary Sue chick. Of course, the anime is just a fraction of the story and almost nothing outside sol happens in the romance, mainly because the girl is awkward and weird and the dude is dense above all else. In fact, at this point it’s safe to say that the whole thing exists just to advertise the manga which is an obligatory read unless S02 gets confirmed.
The comedy is almost never funny. In the first half of the series, it relies on goofy animation tricks and similar over exaggerated situations as the main dude’s behavior. This is best seen in scenes where the mc gets hit by a car and spin in the air for something like 20 times or gets kicked in the nuts by other characters. The 2nd half didn’t even attempt to do any comedy anymore outside mc’s mom and few reliefs.
The art is real nice and the retro gaming side of the story is entertaining to watch, but the romance writing is closer to pathetic than anything else and our characters are mediocre, average at best.
I already wrote a longer review earlier but it was buried under the praise so I will leave this as a short explanation on why I don’t personally find this series to be amazing at all. Sure it was okay to watch, but I wouldn’t personally go praising story or characters of this sort.
Fast forward to late September where I was done watching throwaway seasonal anime from this season like Angel Of Death, How to Not Summon a Demon Lord and Happy Sugar Life I decided to check out High Score Girl after leaving the show in my plan to watch list for so long. Then I watched it and after watching all 12 episodes of this I can defiantly say this. High Score Girl is not only the best anime from this season but it’s also one of the best modern anime romcom to ever come period. I completely underestimated this show because at first, I thought this would be another forgetful romcom anime but this series completely blew me away in terms of writing, characters, music, romance and plot to a point where the series became a masterpiece
The story follows Haruo Yaguchi who is a gamer who spends he’s all free time at the arcades playing various retro games such as Street Fighter II than take his daily life seriously, earning him the title Beastly Fingers Haruo. However, things would take a turn one day when he encounters honour student and rich girl Akira Oono dominating everyone else at his favourite game with Zangief. Having lost to her 7 times in a row and eager to break her 29-win streak, he resorts to underhanded tactics with his own favourite character Guile, an act which earns him a solid right hook from the otherwise quiet and aloof girl—and ultimately sparks their rocky relationship as she brazenly follows him from arcade to arcade after school.
The story of High Score Girl is brilliant and sweet.
Right from the gate, the show makes a great first impression where the show fantastically shows us the setting of the series with its early 90s gaming atmosphere where there are people standing up watching the players playing various arcade games. Not only that but it greatly introduces it’s main two chararters in a form of a Street Fighter match where up to that point they have never interacted with each other.
It is series is effectively a coming of age tale of two people who meet up thanks to the hobby of gaming as well them understanding how the world really works outside of gaming.
At first this show may appear as your typical happy romcom anime however as the series progresses the show becomes more than just your typical romcom anime where the anime slowly dives into serious and relatable themes such as lack of free will, child abuse, letting go of your hobbies in favour of improving your studies and helping people get into the medium that you love and am glad that the show was able to handles theses theme with respect.
The romance in this show is very well handled. At first, Haruo and Oona don’t have much chararter chemistry with each other but at the series progresses these two started to understand each other thank to video games to a point by the end of the series you feel like they are made for each other.
Even though this show a rom-com at heart it was still a great detail that adds more life to this show world.
The one thing that I loved about High Score Girl is how the show perfectly presents gaming in the 90s era. Before the days of Fortnite, Call Of Duty and League of Legends where people play these games online people would go to the arcades to play various games such as Street Fighter II, Final Fight, Vampire Hunter Darkstalkers Revenge etc. Not only that but compared to modern gamers today where they mostly spend the time talking to people online thanks to the power of the internet people around that time would ask face to face if they co-op/versus match with them.
Another thing that I liked about High Score Girl that was that the gaming industry develops alongside the characters for example in episode 1 people are playing the arcades as well SNES/Genesis however after episode 8 onwards people in the show started to talk about Virtual Boy, Sega Saturn and PlayStation 1 showing us how much the technology has evolved since episode 1. You would think that the attention of detail would be pointless in the overall narrative but it isn’t as it perfectly tackles the themes of catching up, pride and getting left behind. In episode 10 when Harou lost to Koharu in both Street Fighter and Vampire Hunter Darkstalkers Revenge he didn’t simply lose the fight but he’s slowly losing his gaming pride as while all the new games and consoles were coming out Haruo was studying hard to get the high school that Oono is in and because of all that hard work Haruo literally started to struggle to play games for a while. This doesn’t end there the social commentary in High Score Girl is extremely well handled. Throughout the show, characters would often commentate on a certain games/consoles as well as nongamers giving they views on the game industry. For example Haruo mother despite her being clueless about video games she doesn’t mind Haruo playing video game even if his grades are at rock bottom. On the other side, we have Oono’s private tutor who thinks that video games are a big waste of time and she doesn’t’ want her to be part of the gaming crowd
Overall the story in High Score Girl was amazing as it’s not only a great throwback to 90s gaming but it’s the best modern love story I have ever seen.
Now we have the charters and to be frankly honestly the characters are all awesome and enjoyable in they own ways.
First up have our main protagonist Haruo who is an anti-social boy who has a passion for video games. Haruo may start off as a generic romcom geek protagonist he quickly became one of the most relatable character I have ever seen in a long while.
The way that he develops over the course of this series was as he went from being an anti-social kid who just sat down playing video games to a sociable person who starts caring more about the world as well Onna by trying his best to reduce his gaming addiction just so he can better person. It doesn’t stop there the way he behaves and acts towards people was a nice portrayal of gamers from the 90s as whole were they so passionate toward video games that they either stay in the arcades playing games until closing time or pretending to be ill so they can play more games missing school in the progress. Overall brilliant chararter and he’s by far my favourite chararter in the series.
Next, we have Akira Oona who is the silent rich daughter of the Onno family who sneaks away every so often to the gaming arcades to escape the harsh environment at home. Despite her being mostly silent in the anime I really enjoyed Oona. Instead of being another typical loud tsundere type she uses facial expressions that what she likes and what she hates. This alone makes Oono a complex chararter because the only way we relate communicate with Oono is by facial expressions. Unlike Haruo where he a great gaming life Oono gaming life is pretty sad as she has a strict private tutor that prevents her from going the hobbies that she enjoys doing like playing Video Games and while all that drama is going on she doesn’t say a word as she show us her facial expression of what she’s feeling. Overall great character.
Finally, we have Hidaka a girl who has no real hobbies. I really like her. At first, I thought she would just love triangle bait for the main two however as the series progresses she beings her own character where instead of interfering with the potential couple she actually supports Haruo by helping him get closer to Oono. Her character doesn’t end there she actually starts getting interesting playing video games and by the 10th episode, she becomes a competent gamer for fighting games.
The rest of the characters were great for what they were as they are all fun and entertaining to watch especially Haruo’s mom.
Overall the characters High Score Girl were amazing and it’s easily the series biggest strength
While the story and chararters were amazing I sadly cannot say the same thing the visuals because this is easily the weakest part of High Score Girl. Okay the visuals aren’t necessarily bad in fact I don’t mind if a show goes for a different visual style but the problem with High Score Girl is how the show uses it’s CGI. When the show it’s at best visually the anime can look pretty good however a lot of the show can look rough especially the first half where the CGI was at it’s worst. It eventually did get better in the second half as the show more constraint with its CGI but I honestly wish the show could have handled the CGI a bit better where it can attract the mainstream audience of anime fans. It’s such a shame really because the show is outside its use of CGI is very good especially when the show uses actual footage of video games that are been played by real skilled people.
The soundtrack in High Score Girl is an amazing throwback piece towards the 90s gaming as many of the tracks in the anime have that nice retro 16-bit mix to it along with a couple of modern tracks.
The opening theme New Stranger by sora tob sakana is a fantastic opening theme that perfectly captures the show tone and setting of the series with a nice blend of modern and 16-bit style. Not to mention it’s very catchy.
The ending theme “Houkago Diestrauction by Etsuko Yakushimaru is a clam and relaxing theme that perfectly closes each episode of High Score Girl. While it’s not as great as the opening theme it’s still a good song that is memorable on its own right.
The voice acting in High Score Girl is incredible. The Seyiuss all did a fantastic job on the roles that they were given. Not only was the voice acting well acted but the characters react to the games based on voice acting alone was great as they all sound like actual gamers that either won or lose a game.
At this time of the review, High Score Girl hasn’t got an English Dub, however, like with Dragon Pilot: Hisone and Masotan the show will be dubbed sometime in the future by Netflix.
High Score Girl is another modern anime masterpiece.
Sure the CGI in the show wasn’t that great however the writing, romance, music, characters, and the great use of gaming references completely make up to a point where we can ignore the shows meh use of CGI. The show was truly a wonderful experience I will never forget and because of that, I thank the people who make High Score Girl for making this wonderful anime that perfectly shows that the story and characters come first before the production values.
Final Score 9.5/10
3: Yagate Kimi ni Naru
English: Bloom Into You
MAL Score: 7.91
Yuu Koito has always been entranced with romantic shoujo manga and the lyrics of love songs. She patiently waits for the wings of love to sprout and send her heart aflutter on the day that she finally receives a confession. Yet, when her classmate from junior high declares his love for her during their graduation, she feels unexpectedly hollow. The realization hits her: she understands romance as a concept, but she is incapable of experiencing the feeling first-hand.
Now, having enrolled in high school, Yuu, disconcerted and dispirited, is still ruminating over how to respond to her suitor. There, she happens upon the seemingly flawless student council president, Touko Nanami, maturely rejecting a confession of her own. Stirred by Touko’s elegant manner, Yuu approaches her for advice, only to be bewildered when the president confesses to her! Yuu quickly finds herself in the palm of Touko’s hand, and unknowingly sets herself on a path to find the emotion which has long eluded her.
The series follows the titular late bloomer, Yuu Koito, a girl who has never felt love before. Since she was young she has dreamed of falling in love, romanticizing the day when it would happen. Expecting to be swept off her feet, eventually. But that day has never come, even when someone confesses to her she feels nothing. This has kept her from fully connecting to her friends and peers, they are far more understanding of what they want romantically. She was alone until she met Tokou Nanami. A girl who has also never experienced love, until she met Yuu.
To Yuu’s surprise, Touko suddenly confesses to her, and while she does not reciprocate due to her inability to love, she allows Touko to be in love with her. The one condition Touko sets for Yuu is to never love her back. From here on, the tale of self-discovery begins, as each character learns from the other about who they are. At the start of the show Yuu seems like your typical blank slate protagonist devoid of the ability to love, but look further and you’ll see her personality is surprisingly realistic. Yuu is the type of person who cares for others deeply but masks it beneath a veneer of logic and normalcy. She possesses many of the telltale signs of sexual repression, her loneliness and lack of romantic feelings are just a few examples. Throughout the show, we see her pushing through boundaries she would have previously avoided, gaining more control of her life, she reflects on who she is and gains a better understanding of her own identity. This is why labeling Bloom Into You as a romance would be only half true; while it features people in love, it is more complicated than that. Before Yuu can love she has to face the realization what she wants, who she is.
Without a doubt, Bloom Into You depicts homosexual youth more realistically than I have seen in any anime before. Highlighting even the most minuscule of details that only someone who has experienced firsthand can convey believably. For example, in the first episode, Yuu’s father lets slide a casually homophobic comment about worrying that she isn’t in a relationship with someone of the same sex. After this line comes, the director smash cuts to Yuu in dismay at what he said. The tone sharply changes from moment to moment like this on many occasions to great success because of the subtly to which it is executed.
In comparison to Yuu, Touko is rather different in that she knows exactly what she wants and would die before she relinquished her purpose. Touko wants to love Yuu because she can be vulnerable with her, she wants desperately for Yuu to always be there to comfort her. However, she can’t stand the thought of being loved in return by Yuu because of her own insecurities. Throughout the series we see her personality pulled apart and analyzed thoroughly, she is rather basic upon first impression, but look further and there is far more to her than meets the eye. If Yuu were to love her, she would be conflicted, because in her mind she can’t possibly be loved. It’s an upsetting conflict that she endures, but incredibly effective in engaging anyone who has experienced similar insecurities.
Overall, these story beats are delivered with an impressive amount of grace and panache. The dialogue feels very natural, Yuu’s interactions with her friends are realistic and believable. Most of all, the supporting characters are consistent. They don’t have random lapses in their personalities, and if anything changes there’s an explanation for it in their lives. For example, if a character is acting awkward towards the suggestion of seeing a romance movie, it’s because they had their heart broken recently and needed a push to mention it to their friends. There’s a layer of depth to everyone that is far greater than what is expected of not only yuri, but anime in general.
This is also the rare explicitly lesbian show that does not fetishize its characters at all. Touko is very clear about her romantic and physical attraction to Yuu; likewise, Yuu is very clear about her lack of ability to love. Both are treated like fully realized people instead of objects. In figuring out themselves and what they mean to eachother, they do run into a few issues. Nevertheless their relationship is still built on communication, consent, and respecting boundaries. They’re a likable duo and it’s easy to get invested in their development. When the first kiss happens non-consensually, it is apologized for immediately, then it never occurs again. The author very deftly avoids, as well as subverts, the Class-S tropes negatively associated with the yuri genre.
Class-S usually refers to yuri that do not allow their characters to get into serious relationships, they are in high school and have time to play around before they get married to men when they graduate. The author of Bloom Into You has said on a few occasions that this is not a yuri, rather it is a story about girls and love. Understandably she wants to distance her story from negative connotations associated with the genre. Notably, this anime features a healthy adult lesbian relationship, showcasing that there is more to being homosexual and female outside of the scandalous high school melodrama. We also see a supporting character who faced the issue of her lesbian relationship being nullified under the pretense that ‘it’s just a phase’, and from this, she develops into a wonderfully nuanced character.
On the production side, Bloom Into You is magnificent. Beautiful visual storytelling, the storyboards convey characters inner emotions in engaging ways, it is very visually interesting. There are occasional breathtaking moments of sakuga, but what impresses more is the director’s keen eye for editing to clue us in onto how a character is feeling at any given moment. If emotions are obscured it is deliberately so, if they are shown then you have to take into account every little detail given to the audience. One of the best moments of visual storytelling in the first episode is when a rush of water divides Yuu from her friends; this shot perfectly conveys how her lack of understanding of herself divides her from the average teenager. Aside from just visual metaphors, how the story plays out is representative of the internal struggles Yuu and Touko face. The play that Touko desperately wants to enact is a tale of a woman without memories who needs to pick a desirable personality for herself, reflecting her insecurity and desire to better herself.
Punctuating each emotional beat are melancholic piano keys loudly implying the turmoils each character is enduring, and each of them is developed consistently enough for the musical accompaniment to feel very deserved. This is contrasted with melodic orchestral pieces to match the upbeat tone of scenes when characters come together and express heartwarming joy. With a talented and experienced composer like Michiru Oshima producing the soundtrack, the show’s audiovisual splendor blends together with its script wonderfully.
To say that Bloom Into You took me by surprise would be an understatement. At first, its unusually realistic characters blindsided me; Yuu and Touko are superbly nuanced people. They’re lost in the dark trying to find their way through a first relationship just as real people in their situation would. The many relevant themes this series tackles are what give the cast such believability and relatability unlike any other anime in this genre; self-loathing, societal expectations, homophobia, and sexual repression to name a few. Each theme is delivered respectfully and with subtlety. In the first few episodes, the pacing is quite slow, but always purposefully so, and once it gains speed it becomes enrapturing.
Without a doubt, Bloom Into You is the best anime I watched from this season, perhaps even the year. It is a masterfully crafted, unforgettable experience that will leave an impact on me for years to come.
The art of anime adaptations is a fascinating subject that takes many forms. I’m very open minded with just about any genre although when it comes to yuri and shoujo-ai, I’m rather indifferent about it. Recent adaptations of the shoujo-ai genre hardly made an impression on me such as Citrus or Netsuzou Trap. Both of those shows let me down big time with their aggressive stance on relationships. I wanted to see a softer side of the shoujo-ai genre without subscribing to sexual same gender relationships that relies on shock service. Thankfully, Yagate Kimi no Naru is the answer.
I’m not too familiar with the community related to shoujo-ai works but it’s clear that the manga has popularity. The series was launched in April 2015 from the Monthly Comic Dengeki Daioh and in the present, it has over 500k printing copies and ongoing. However, I was also curious about the anime adaptation after seeing the staff involved. Director Makoto Katou made a rather interesting impression back in 2015 when they directed a mystery light novel adaptation called “Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation”. While this series doesn’t contain much mystery, it definitely made me wonder if it has a similar mystique. Indeed, watching Yagate Kimi ni Naru (Bloom Into You) finally gave me a shoujo-ai that I desired.
Right off the bat, we meet Yuu Koito, a first-year high school student who has a love for shoujo manga. From her perspective, it’s easy to see what love is on a fictional level. It isn’t until a second-year student named Touko Nanami comes into her life that she really begin to experience what life and love is. Similar to Yuu, Touko also has trouble experiencing love although it’s clear that her mind is set to understand it. As a student, she is very admirable for her dependable personality and someone the freshmen look up to. However, all this seems to be masking her insecurity. The truth is, Touko has many weaknesses underneath her cool persona. It’s shown throughout the series that she feels loneliness due to her past and Yuu becomes the only person that she trusts in. On the other hand, Yuu seems to be more wary about love and wants to experience it. However, her view towards love is not as dedicated as Touko. She wants to experience love but often denies feelings of it. Yuu’s personality is more the opposite of Touko’s as she is indecisive at times, including her own future. So to say the least, how can these two develop a genuine relationship?
Honestly, I think the main draw of the show isn’t to see if the main characters can get together as a couple. Rather, it’s about how characters experience love and what love really means to them. Realistically, both characters views love in different ways although it’s clear that they lack experience in it. Touko is the more obvious with her insecure personality where she often isn’t sure what to do to make happy moments with Yuu. On the other hand, Yuu often believes what she experiences to be more of a fantasy than actual love. I guess part of that comes from reading all those shoujo manga although as the series progresses, she begins to grow out of her shell. The storytelling continues to test the two’s relationship on many levels. It’s a show that capitalizes on bringing in drama and thankfully, I can say that it accomplishes that very well. The drama sells with the character personalities, behaviors, dialogues, and realistic feelings. I’m also more pleased to say that everything in the show felt very real. Characters behave like humans do especially for high school students of their age. It’s a time period when young people want to get the best out of their lives and love is often a prominent part of growing up. To me, this show manages to capture the essence of character growing up while discovering what love is about.
While Yuu and Touko are the most prominent characters, it’s hard to take eyes off of some of the others. Sayaka Saeki is a good example as someone who used to attend an all-girls school and became a close friend with Touko. The two work together as part of the student council but it’s very clear that Sayaka sees her more than a friend. Love is the easiest way to describe it. It’s also easy to see why she falls for her too considering their similar personalities. Both Sayaka and Touko are hardworking individuals who are willing to help others. However, Sayaka is perhaps less outgoing compared to Touko and thus, not as easily as approachable. The series doesn’t dedicate to their relationship but it’s interesting to see Sayaka’s vision of love. In essence, she hides her feelings and is not someone that’s easy to read on the surface. This is a contrast to both Yuu and Touko as those two tends to say what’s on their mind. On a lesser extent, we also get to see the relationship between Miyako and Riko which is shown to be very healthy in nature. Their relationship is relaxing and almost like a contrast to the drama that we see so often in the story.
As for the shoujo-ai genre, I think it’s pretty easy to recognize that pretty much all the main characters are lesbians in one way or another. Some are to a lesser but it’s pretty clear from the start. What were you expecting though? The anime advertised itself as such with the same gender relationships so be prepared to subscribe to that from start to finish. But as a show with a lot of drama, I should say to watch this with a careful focus on the characters. Watch for what they say, how they behave, and their intentions. For me, I find the most complex character to be Yuu since her personality is often sarcastic and believes too much into fictional love. This is true especially in the beginning where it became hard to know what she really wants. The more I watched though, the more I came to accept Yuu for who she is and her quest to discover love. And that’s what I find so entrancing about this show.
In perhaps a coincidental timeline, we also get Troyca as the studio. It’s the same one that worked on Sakurako’s Investigation with the exact same director. As my first impression, this anime managed look colorful and vibrant with its character designs. There’s a feminine charm for the majority of the cast that really brings the elegance out of the characters. The emotional context are captured with the vivid details of body language and human expressions. The background visual quality is also stellar with a certain degree feeling of photorealism. Some of the scenes during the mid-season episodes like the ones with the bridge stands out the most. Last but not least, I would like to mention that character voice mannerism for the main cast is portrayed with supreme talent. Not only did I feel attached to their personalities, these characters also sounded like they belong in this anime from the beginning.
Ah, it’s about damn time. I’ve been indifferent about shoujo-ai shows for a good while but after seeing Yagate Kimi ni Naru, I may change my mind. This show managed to capture the expression of love in ways that exceed my expectations. It seized opportunities to recreate a sensational drama without stepping over the line. Keep your pants on because you’re not going to get sexual shock content all over your face. What you get is a drama done right in the most entrancing way possible. It’s almost perfect.
The show is very clearly, a romance genre. The key to any good romance media is the relationship: nothing else matters that much. My problem with the show is that it doesn’t try to make the relationships between our main characters all that interesting. An issue with many yuri or yaoi animes are that they use the idea that they are in a gay relationship to hide the fact that there is no real substance or development; they are too lazy to create anything interesting about the relationship besides the fact that they’re lesbians. The setting isn’t the issue either as there are a ton of romance anime that do well in mundane settings (and even if a romance media is set in a more unconventional and/or radical setting- the relationships itself isn’t taken over by the setting) because romance genres aren’t really supposed to be about exterior factors that govern the story’s universe per say, rather a device to tell a love story. My point being, the environment or exterior factors shouldn’t be the most important part overshadowing the characters, but should be used as an effective agent in portraying a relationship. However, Bloom Into You makes this mistake repeatedly throughout its course as boring subplots distract us from the main focus of the anime, the relationship.
So why was the relationship so uninteresting? Or, at least why did I subjectively find it bland? Well, it has to do with the romance development/buildup and characterization. A great romance anime that does this very well is Kimi Ni Todoke. There are certainly a lot of cute romance scenes in Bloom Into You, but it isn’t memorable or as effective as they could be. This is because there is no real buildup to the romance scenes or context, (for God’s sake one of the main characters doesn’t even reciprocate the same feelings) which makes the scenes unsatisfying and coming out of nowhere. There is no longing, no real angst that make the romance scenes worth while in this anime. Kimi Ni Todoke, my aforementioned example, takes the time to show longing, reciprocation of feelings as well as showing who each of the characters are: this is what makes trivial scenes of even the characters smiling at each other enjoyable and satisfying- overall making it an effective romance medium. Bloom Into You doesn’t do this very well either. Even in supposed-to-be emotional scenes, I fail to sympathize with any of the characters, and I’m a really emotional person, so it says a lot! There is no real character in dialogue, visuals or voice acting. It feels completely bland and lifeless, a very frustrating issue because the anime is centered around our characters and their relationship with each-other. There is just genuinely no substance in dialogue either which makes it very hard to emotionally relate with the last-minute backstory. Just overall making the characters less likable and therefore the romance/ their relationships less interesting and engaging.
A very important note I’d like to mention is the trend in a lot of animes that I’d like to call The Aesthetic Effect. The Aesthetic Effect is used in animes with “pretty” visuals, stories, music and concepts to be used as a facade to it’s mediocre nature. How vague the show is and the inoffensive factors of this anime make it desirable and appealing to a lot of the general audience. I think not only is this anime extremely bland, but also quite offensive at times by using lesbians as a token to justify dislikable behaviour to say the least of the main character Nanami forcefully putting herself upon the clearly uninterested Yuu. Not to be THAT person, but if a male character did things Nanami did to Yuu, it would be seen as extremely creepy. I found these scenes very unsightly and uncomfortable, which is the least thing you want for a romantic scene in a cute anime. To wrap things up, it is very clear this anime was made by people who see lesbians as an easy token key to attract audiences without adding real substance. Bloom Into You is just vague, pretty, attractive concepts jumbled into an unprofessional mess with the name of aesthetically pleasing romance. I will never understand why this anime is so overrated and put on a pedestal for being some sort of groundbreaking anime as it is just plain out boring with not really anything new to offer. Do yourself a favor and don’t watch this anime, it’s just a waste of time and it will leave you with nothing.
TL;DR – boring and mediocre, uses gay tokenism to hide behind it’s flaws.
2: Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii
English: Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
MAL Score: 7.95
Having slept through all four of her alarms, the energetic Narumi Momose finds herself running late for her first day of work at a new office. As she races to catch her train, she makes a promise to herself that none of her coworkers will find out about her dark secret: that she is an otaku and a fujoshi. Her plan goes instantly awry, though, when she runs into Hirotaka Nifuji, an old friend from middle school. Although she tries to keep her secret by inviting him out for drinks after work, her cover is blown when he casually asks her whether or not she will be attending the upcoming Summer Comiket. Luckily for her, the only witnesses—Hanako Koyanagi and Tarou Kabakura—are otaku as well.
Later that night, the pair go out for drinks so that they can catch up after all the years apart. After Narumi complains about her previous boyfriend breaking up with her because he refused to date a fujoshi, Hirotaka suggests that she try dating a fellow otaku, specifically himself. He makes a solemn promise to always be there for her, to support her, and to help her farm for rare drops in Monster Hunter. Blown away by the proposal, Narumi agrees immediately. Thus the two otaku start dating, and their adorably awkward romance begins.
The English translation title is “It’s Difficult to Love an Otaku” and “Love is Hard of Otaku”. Literally, those words mushed up together already feels like the show is a big joke or satire. While the show seems like it’s taking a risk at mixing a variety of questionable gimmicks together, I can say safely that there’s no need to worry. As a fan of the manga, I was thrilled to learn that Noitamina was chosen to air this show. It seems fitting for such an anime based on their history of lineups. What’s more is that this show also portrays a more realistic slice of life story that you don’t see too often these days. To me, this was a God-sent gift for Spring 2018.
I’m not going to lie. Watching this anime reminds me of being a kid despite the show being targeted at an older audience. The goofy style of the storytelling along with the colorful character cast brings in a very playful atmosphere. Even as the show takes place in an office life environment, it’s hard to ignore the character chemistry between the main cast. From the start, we got two childhood friends named Narumi Momose and Hirotaka Nifuji. The two have known each other for awhile but are almost like complete polar opposites. Narumi is a bubbly outgoing girl with an interest in fujoshi and otome games. On the other hand, Nifuji is an otaku with an avid interest in video games and doesn’t actually seem to care what other thinks of him. Despite their different personalities, it’s undeniable that the two has chemistry both during and off work. The other two lovebirds in the show consists of Hanako Koanagi and Tarou Kabakura. They are dating as a couple and while the two constantly bickers at every chance they get, the two genuinely seems to love each other. Now, you’re probably thinking…is this going to be a show filled with drama and misunderstandings? Absolutely not. While the show contains office romance, it’s hardly a story that focuses on that exclusively. Instead, this anime stands out as a way of exploring the everyday adventures of these characters.
One of the primary factors that makes this show appealing is the small character cast. It capitalizes on giving every character a chance to shine without leaving another in the dust. The couple pair of Narumi and Nifuji is infectiously entertaining to watch. Their character chemistry is shown through their interests that somehow intersects with their daily lives. At the office, the two maintains a professional relationship although they still act casually towards each other. The show explores their relationship development as they understand each other more in their adult lives. This even includes going on dates to the movies or amusement park. While the show adapts their relationship more as a ship tease, I think it’s safe that fans accepts them as a couple. Hanako and Tarou are dating already so the show doesn’t hide the fact that they care for each other. It’s mostly lighthearted romance that relies more on realism to do the storytelling. Office romance isn’t easy to adapt but this anime does that without ever being distracting. Characters act the way humans do while drawing connection to their otaku interests. Each of the main characters has their own interest. (otome games, gamer, cosplaying, bishoujo) As a central theme of the show, it establishes their interest through dialogues, interactions, and references. The show often throws in jokes with characters’ small talk and arguing to sell its comedy. It’s damn entertaining as every character gets their moment of fame. It masterfully matches the pacing of the dialogues that feels very real. The impression those moments bring is an accurate depiction of how co-workers behave. Whenever this nerdy group goes out for a drink, they act like casual adults enjoying life. It brings in the sensation of a rom-com between working adults that leaves me satisfied. Oh and before I forget to mention, give the manga a try too. The anime actually expands on some background content but the manga also feels like its own little world.
To be honest, A-1 Pictures is the last studio I would imagine adapting this show. However, the production quality itself is vibrant with colorful character designs. The characters looks distinct between one another with their different hair colors and facial expressions. Character reactions also sell a good deal of the comedy especially whenever Narumi reacts in exaggerated manners. As an anime that focuses on otaku, do expect video game references to be made such as the Nintendo Switch and Monster Hunter. There’s even one episode where the characters are adapted into an RPG setting with very gimmicky video game themes.
No fan service? No problem. You have the character dialogues doing the talking and most of it delivers humor in the most harmless ways. Yet at the same time, it’s able to create quality entertainment thanks to the talents of the voice cast. Narumi and Hanako in particular are able to bring out the best out of characters through that with their human personalities. The theme songs are also quite creative with their choreography. Namely, the OP song “Fiction” by Sumika is adorably cute with the body language. Every character in the theme songs stands out with their coordinated movements.
With 11 episodes, it felt just enough for this anime to do what it’s intended and that’s to sell its ideas to the audience. It succeeds that thanks to its creative circle of characters and their interests. Otakuism is not something that’s accepted easily as a positive culture norm. In fact, it’s often looked down upon in our society. However, this show presented that in a positive way. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the show is recommendable to just about anyone. A show like this deserves more attention, seriously.
The romance in this anime is more of just a setting as it is hardly explored. It will only occasionally throw in some romantic moments. Meanwhile, the jokes in this anime are rarely funny. I feel like the biggest problem to the comedy is the awful timing. It is really slow at delivering punchlines, making it unfunny at most times. To make it worse, there are sometimes short explanations by the game-sounding-narrator, which further slows down the pace.
The characters here are not really outstanding. There’s no traits or moments that I feel really stand out from them. Also, even though the couples’ relationships might change a little, the characters themselves hardly changes.
The background music is one problem I have with this anime. Maybe it’s just not my taste, but although there are some good tracks, there are a lot of weird tracks that are just slapped unto an unfitting scene (honestly, I don’t think those tracks could fit anywhere).
Overall, I think this anime fails to deliver a good romcom. There is only a little romance development and jokes fall flat. This is an anime for watching the daily lives of otaku couples. And that’s it, since the only thing this anime got going for it is its relatability for people familiar with the otaku culture.
If you feel that way? You’re not the only one. Because I am also growing kind of tired of this kind of show as I hit my late 20’s. The problem I see with this kind of show is that we get an ample amount of it every season with little to no variety amongst them that sometimes make the experience no longer engaging enough for me to care. But to be super clear I still enjoy watching high school rom-com every now and then, especially the very old ones. It’s just becoming much harder for me to try out new ones especially if I expect I am not getting the pay-off. And by the way, a lot of rom-com doesn’t end in a very satisfying way which ends up either make me wanting more or felt depressed.
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku is a show I consider, in my opinion, a breath of fresh air when it comes to the romance and slice of life genre. Sure, there are lots of anime featuring working young adults’ love story while some are more solid because the couples are already married. But if you going to count the memorable ones that heavily focus on the idea I mention. I think I cannot count them more than my ten fingers.
In this Review, we are going to explore why I think this anime is good and fresh on what is presented in the year 2018.
(Story/Plot/Writing) (7/10: Good) (Spoiler Free)
The first thing that I found interesting in the anime is that the basic story is about characters living their normal young adult life with their hobbies co-existing with their current lifestyle. The catch in the formula however is that they also have to build and maintain upon an established romantic relationship with their partners.
For young audiences who haven’t been involved in this kind of stage of their life as a working adult will find it kind of boring and unrelatable. But for me currently as a young adult on the writing of this review found it very common around the office. People balancing work and relationships is a challenge by itself.
I find it fascinating that characters are realistically self-aware about the public mentality against otaku culture, they are not ignorant about it. Even though the approach is quite different for each character. There is a sense of realism about it.
Most of the time, on other anime I’ve seen but not all, heavily glorified “Otaku Culture’’ as some kind of magnificent way of life that society failed to understand. They victimized otakus as an undesirable group of people that society failed to understand. Giving the notion that Otakus are ”Special” and the “Real World”’ is a stupid place, only Isekai’s will understand them. The show is quite subtle in showcasing a sneak peek at how otakus enjoy their niche hobbies in a very down-to-earth way. No exaggeration or Hyperbole involve. Just regular people doing the things they love.
Ok, we cover why I found the core synopsis interesting, now let’s move on to the comedy aspect of the show. The show makes use of some really funny inside jokes about certain otaku habits. And I am surprised that the gag is only used in small amounts. Usually, in rom-com with otaku-related humor, we commonly get like 10 or more of the referential jokes each episode. But in Wotakoi’s case, there are only lesser than anticipated per episode if I remember correctly. related to jokes that might be niche jokes that only certain groups of people will get the reference. Jokes that only otaku knows sort of things. The show relies on basic office humor and your typical slice of life rom-com humor that any non-otakus person can understand. I found this style pretty nice. Less is more. The more time I can breathe between jokes the better. I am not a fan of comedies that loves to bombards 10 to 20 random jokes within the span of 1 to 5 minutes. Looking at you Pani Poni Dash!
The humor is well-paced in the majority of each episode. It has a good transition from serious mood to light-hearted or awkward mood to relatable feel-good moments. Though emotional whiplash exists in this show, it is not too damaging enough to destroy the overall experience.
Now we are done with the core aspect of the show comedy. Let’s talk about the show main spice in the story, the romance. If I am going to rank the character’s level of relationship on the scale of 1 to 10. I say they are between a 6 or 7, depending on how far you look at the depth of the romance. I say the character’s mutual attraction to one another and how they behave is realistically normal. The romance of the show is more slice of life than heartwarming romantic.
It doesn’t shy away from the reality that a romantic relationship is not all about flowers and sex. Most of the time you will just see characters having a mundane conversation about each other’s lives, hanging around in each other’s houses, watching movies, and playing videos games. Doing dates that don’t seem to be super fun as other people romanticize it. And for me that’s Ok. A relationship is all about sharing life experiences and personal stories to their partners that they wouldn’t honestly talk about to other people.
It’s all about being comfortable being yourself. Doing what you love around the person you love and you are proudly supported every step of the way. And to me, that’s pure romance at its core.
(Characters, Only Main to Talk About) (7/10 Good) (Spoiler-Free)
I usually talk about each individual character on their pro and cons when a show has a limited scope of less than 6 acting casts. But I decided just to highlights some very significant general traits to avoid giving up some major spoilers. That show doesn’t have an overarching plot. Most episodes can be very independent of one another. The enjoyment and the main content of Wotakoi can offer is the main character themselves. Just to give you guys the idea.
People should know that otakus are not set as a single stereotype. There is a multitude of different niche groups of otakus with varying interests and hobbies. Hirotaka, Narumi, Hanako, and Tarou present the message that not all otakus have an aligned set of interests. Even though Narumi and Hanako almost shared the same interest but they have different opinions and perspectives on specific topics like most individuals within a fandom. Not very stereotypical. This makes each character stand out in their own right and not getting overshadowed by another.
When it comes to conflict and relationship hurdles. The format is quite similar to Boy VS Girl squabbles. As I mentioned recently the show remains consistently light-hearted and never sway too much on more serious adult theme boundaries. And there is no antagonizing character either in this show so expect there will be no serious dispute will occur in this show.
I also found the small cast of characters very fun to watch since I like the relationship dynamics with a combination ok humor.
(Technical Stuff) (Art & Animation 7/10)( Music and Sound Design 7/10)
I only gonna make this section a little short since there isn’t anything much to talk about. The Opening “Fiction by Sumika is enjoyable to watch every episode. Good OST Ambience on particular scenarios has some very relaxing vibes to it. And the Ending Music is Good too.
For a modern anime made in 2018, I would say the animation and art style is quite standard, nothing special. Not always being flashy nor super hyperbolic nonsense all the time. The style plays out very maturely most of the time. For Slice of Life Anime About Adults, I think the art style is good for the show in general. And for small details, the “Lighting” and “Shadowing” are quite good too.
(Enjoyment/ Bias Personal Opinion) (7/10 I have Fun Watching This Show) (W/Spoilers)
I’ve been telling a lot of positives about the show but I would like to discuss some of my little complaints about it in this section though they aren’t that many. This issue I found in the show might be not a negative to others.
Introducing some new character in mid-way is ok but in the last few episodes, I considered a foul play in regard to character introduction. And Wotakoi actually did this kind of tactic which I found kind of annoying since this anime didn’t get a season 2 to fix the sudden introduction of the character. Until now I don’t remember him/her very much because of lack of screen time.
The character “Fleshing Out” is Good but there isn’t any deep development or change on the characters. But I would like to counterargument that each character does establish to know each other’s interest and dislike over the course of the series which still made them organic until the end. And can you blame them? There isn’t any major conflict in this show that will force them to change their ways. And that is fine for a slice of life Rom-Com. But it also filled me the void of wanting it more and I might check out the source material in the future.
(Final Thoughts) (Overall 7/10 A show worth recommending to specific niche)
The show did a good job of presenting a basic slice of life romance story of your modern office worker that has a niche interest. It didn’t go deep into any heavy themes and stay consistently light-hearted to the majority of the 11-episode run. I like the way this show doesn’t represent otakus as creepy pedophilic rapists or pathetic basement dwellers. The show presents them as normal human beings who live a healthy life. It doesn’t make you feel sorry for them or feel disgusted if a person has a distinct interest in anime, games, or stuff people will find disturbing.
I will also conclude that this show is not for everybody but I believe that people’s preferences change over time depending on our age and our environment. So you might not appreciate this kind of show now but maybe someday you will.
Like the show once said. I used to be Pure. I wasn’t born as a boob guy.
If I have the chance to describe the show overall using specific character dialogues this is what I choose.
Narumi Momose to Hirotoka Nifuji:
>My last boyfriend, and the one before that, and my first boyfriend were all the same.
>They all dumped me because I was an Otaku. It is always like that for me. It was always like that, so this feels easy for me now! I don’t have to hide the fact that I am a nerd.
>But Neither of us is the other’s ideal type. We are both otakus. I am sure we’re both making some compromises.
Hirotaka Nifuji Reply to Narumi Momose:
> Well you’re right, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t compromising on anything.
>I’m not with you just because you’re a nerd or just because it’s easy.
>I love seeing you do the things you like.
>Anyway that’s how I feel
End of Conversation
And Always Thanks for Reading Guys! Peace Out!
1: Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai
English: Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai
MAL Score: 8.31
The rare and inexplicable Puberty Syndrome is thought of as a myth. It is a rare disease which only affects teenagers, and its symptoms are so supernatural that hardly anyone recognizes it as a legitimate occurrence. However, high school student Sakuta Azusagawa knows from personal experience that it is very much real, and happens to be quite prevalent in his school.
Mai Sakurajima is a third-year high school student who gained fame in her youth as a child actress, but recently halted her promising career for reasons unknown to the public. With an air of unapproachability, she is well known throughout the school, but none dare interact with her—that is until Sakuta sees her wandering the library in a bunny girl costume. Despite the getup, no one seems to notice her, and after confronting her, he realizes that she is another victim of Puberty Syndrome. As Sakuta tries to help Mai through her predicament, his actions bring him into contact with more girls afflicted with the elusive disease.
Bunny Girl Senpai is full of the same issues commonly criticized in most light novel adaptations, so why does it get a free pass? Harem tropes, waifu bait, incest teasing, thin characterization, vague pseudoscience, and an asshole deadpan protagonist who solves a bunch of girls’ problems for them. Most of all, the art and sound are incredibly mediocre excluding the many moments when CloverWorks chooses to bend over and spray shit in our eyes with its abundance of hideous CGI crowds.
First and foremost, I hate the writing in Bunny Girl Senpai. Consider the ‘4’ points I rated the show overall to be a generous acknowledgment of its basic features. It was painful to watch, but not irredeemable. The story follows Sakuta, a second year in high school, as he tries to help girls afflicted by a supernatural phenomenon known as Adolescence Syndrome. If that sounds like a psychological disorder concocted by a pretentious teenage boy trying to sound smart, that’s because it is. If a character suddenly becomes invisible or if everyone is trapped in a three-day long time loop, then the author will call it Adolescence Syndrome and leave the rest up to our imaginations. In other words, it’s the author’s way of masking a cheap plot device. Rather than giving us a coherent explanation for the syndrome, the author just handwaves it with common quantum mechanics like Schrodinger’s Cat and Laplace’s Demon. It’s loosely defined as a supernatural affliction that manifests in people who are going through severe stress, whether it be cyberbullying causing physical cuts, or going invisible because you’re sick of attention. To the show’s credit, as a plot device, it is used to craft some empathetic struggles within the characters and even a little bit of relatability. However, these conflicts aren’t executed nearly as well as they could be. The story is told through five parts, each with a new girl for Sakuta to help and flirt with. This standard harem setup is so unbearable to watch play out because Sakuta is just an awful protagonist.
Sakuta is the average deadpan, cynical, uncaring protagonist, except he’s also an unlikable asshole. His one single tone of voice is monotonous boredom, and he almost never wavers from it for the entire series. Keep in mind, this show is FULL of dialogue, but it has no goddamn clue how to make any of it seem interesting. Sakuta’s dialogue isn’t witty or clever like you would expect from a deadpan character, it’s just vulgar, gross, and obnoxious. Deceptively, treats everyone like crap and hides behind irony so that people don’t think he’s that bad of a guy. However, everything he says is actually unironic, there’s no nuance, no punchline, he’s just a bad person. He is never punished for being an asshole, sometimes girls might comment on his behavior if he says something especially inappropriate to them, but right away they move on and act like he’s Jesus-kun again. For example, when a girl says something rude to him he fires back with:
“Are you on your period or something?”
Did a twelve-year-old write this script? Sakuta’s shallow quips are always like this, juvenile and crass, and the rest of his dialogue is completely deadpan. He is rarely emotionally impacted by anything; very little makes him impressed or concerned. Viewing a story from the perspective of an uncaring asshole like Sakuta makes it impossible to get invested in anything, or even enjoy it. If the show had actually confronted him about his behavior and acknowledged how bad he was to his friends, then it could have been a character flaw and something to develop upon. But from what we saw adapted, his character development is satisfied with being permanently stagnant. He continues to hide his ugly personality behind a thick layer of snark and quips. Sakuta is just the rotten core of this story, surrounding him is the main attraction, all of the ladies who are strangely drawn to him.
Our first heroine for Sakuta to assist is Mai Sakurajima, the titular bunny girl. Somehow she makes the dialogue even worse, she is equally as dry and cynical as Sakuta. Throughout the series, the script parallels standard rom-com dialogue, except it is written to be as pretentious as possible with the pace cranked down to molasses. Rather than a simple sentence lasting a few seconds, it’s needlessly wrapped into a messy jumble of sophistry and weird unfunny jokes. Why can’t these kids just talk like normal human beings? That would sure as hell make them more engaging to watch, and you know, relatable. Mai is the typical tsundere archetype, with the intruiging bunny girl costume appearing the most in episode one, then rarely appearing for the rest of the series. The whole ‘Bunny Girl’ hook in the title is contrived for what amounts to little more than big budget clickbait.
There is one area which Bunny Girl Senpai is deserving of praise, its themes. At least from a conceptual standpoint, they add some nuance and relatability to cast. The execution of these themes, like the rest of the show, leaves much to be desired. Where we see the most intruiging themes on display is in Futaba’s arc; she is introduced early in the show as more or less an exposition dumper with the sole purpose of lampshading plot conveniences. The relevant themes of insecurity and social anxiety addressed in her arc are muddled by the terrible hackneyed script. She is a scientist girl for the sole purpose of spouting tropey quantum theory pseudo-science to explain away everything that’s happening. It’s always painfully apparent that the author just read a brief summary about the theories he uses in his story in an attempt to seem intelligent, but it’s so clear he didn’t bother to fully research them so instead it makes him look stupider. These overlong, cringe-inducing, self-congratulatory ‘science’ scenes occur almost every episode.
Nothing in Bunny Girl Senpai feels real, it’s all plastic. Mai and the rest of the girls don’t feel like fully realized characters either. They all experience some kind of turmoil yet this rarely shows through in their personalities. They are all plastic prepackaged moe archetypes, unaffected by anything they go through. Even if a character is visibly changed by their conflict after it’s resolved, it is usually undermined by the show’s terrible writing. For example one girl is affected by Adolescence Syndrome because she is so insecure with her body from how people have treated her, then after her affliction is resolved Sakuta interjects with another one of his crude sex jokes that objectifies her body and undermines everything the arc was building towards. Another issue is the lack of lasting effects to each arc. They are paced too poorly for us to see how characters are impacted, rather than a satisfying conclusion the story just moves on. When the author decides he’s bored of a girl he simply ends the arc, in favor of a new case of Adolescence Syndrome. Of course, with another stock standard girl taken off the shelves at A-1 Pictures’ waifu warehouse to become the show’s new main appeal for a few weeks, until she is inevitably relegated to the supporting cast in favor of a new poster girl.
It makes the author seem like an impatient teenage boy who just wants to shove as many beautiful girls into the arms of the cool guy bland protagonist. He pairs a girl with the protagonist and lets them flirt a little bit, and before he has to commit and actually develop said girl he gets bored of her. And writing a nuanced character is such hard work for him. So instead he just solves the issue by tossing aside the old girl in favor of a fresh new waifu to fawn all over his self-insert. This is, of course, a fundamental issue of most harem anime, a revolving door of waifus and a self insert protagonist. Being a light novel adaptation, Bunny Girl Senpai bears many structural similarities to a harem anime. Generally this is the reason why I avoid the genre, that and obnoxious fanservice which this series is thankfully frugal with. Eventually, it leaves off on a non-ending because this is an adaptation of an ongoing light novel. The show tries to wrap up the story as neatly as possible at the end of the last girl’s arc, but it crashes and burns in its finale. The climax is a filled with overwrought crying, forced drama, and the cheesiest and most cringe-inducing writing in the whole show.
In a better series, this barren wasteland of a script could be saved by a larger budget, or a more experienced director. However, this show’s decidedly unimaginative directing style leaves much to be desired. The art is mediocre, it’s in no way vivid to look at, the directing fails to make the long stretches of dialogue remotely interesting. Aside from the abhorrent CGI crowds, it isn’t a visual disaster, it could be worse, but it could be so much better. Other dialogue heavy anime like the Monogatari Series utilize unique directing techniques and plenty of visual storytelling to engage the viewer in lengthy conversations between two characters. Strangely, Bunny Girl Senpai desires to be watched as a thoughtful supernatural character drama, but it plays out like a generic light novel romantic comedy, taking the worst aspects of each and failing to craft an original or worthwhile series.
[Final Score: 4/10]
Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai presents intruiging themes of how people treat and mistreat one another during adolescence. However, it fails to execute its best ideas successfully or in a compelling way due to terrible pacing, narrative structural issues, needlessly convoluted dialogue, mediocre presentation, and a thoroughly unlikable main character. If the author possessed half of the self-awareness he seems to think he has, this may not have been an overrated, cringy, bore-fest.
Raskal Does Not Dream of Copyright Infringement
There is going to be a lot of mentions of Monogatari series in the review, because you need to understand that this series is not just similar, or inspired, or derivative. No – it’s an unbelievably blatant plagiarism, it steals everything from Monogatari, and I mean EVERYTHING, except for a couple of elements stolen from Oregairu and Haruhi instead. Comparing it to the famous cases of literary plagiarism ruled by court (Like Harry Potter’s rip-off called Tanya Grotter), it would 100% be ruled a copyright infringement if Nisio Isin/Kodansha ever bothered to sue (and it baffles me that they didn’t). If you’ve seen Monogatari before, you might get a kick out of spotting entire scenes and minute-long dialogues meticulously copypasted word-for-word (don’t make it a drinking game, you’ll die) but there really isn’t much point in doing that over an actual rewatch, because production values are not as good as Studio SHAFT.
Well, one might ask, wouldn’t a carbon copy of a good series also be good? No, because there is another element in play – the author is a talentless hack. Something called “stupidity” manifests in multiple aspects of this story making it impossible to enjoy. Here are some examples:
1. Primitive surface-level copying results in nonsense. The best example is the show’s title – it’s terrible for marketing purposes because it made many people believe this is going to be some ecchi harem. Well, the title comes from the female lead wearing a bunny-girl suit …for approximately 15 seconds that basically amount to nothing plot-wise. You see, in Monogatari heroines have animal leitmotifs, and that got copypasted – except the writer couldn’t think of any actual reason for this inside the story, so it’s just an awkward non sequitur, sitting there, doing nothing except making the title stupid – and there are many other examples like that.
2. Insufferable protagonist. There is a certain trope familiar to most anime watchers – “badass loner”, aka “Gary Stu”, aka “Self-insert Jesus-kun”, aka “literally me”. Araragi from Monogatari looks like one – until he isn’t, because writing anime cliches as complex real people is what that series does. Hachiman from Oregairu is another take – he is also real, i. e. an awkward teenager who has trouble socializing. Being a talentless hack he is, the writer of Aobuta couldn’t do anything but write this trope completely straight. The MC is supposedly antisocial pariah, but he has social skills and confidence of a god. When some dumb females give him shit he just says “begone thot!” and they run away in shame, defeated by his awesomeness. He beats a jock twice his size in a fist fight by “outsmarting” him, nevermind a gang of jock’s friends standing there doing nothing. It’s just so cringy to watch. Kirito from SAO is a better protagonist, at least that guy farmed levels or something.
3. Idiotic non-logic. Monogatari has supernatural phenomena explained with ghosts. Aobuta has supernatural phenomena explained with quantum mechanics. That is, dumb and cringy “is math related to science?” level of quantum mechanics understanding. That’s not my point, pseudo-science is just a particular case of a bigger problem of nothing making sense. This is also better explained with an example. Spoiler ahead:
**Spoiler begins here**
Here is a conversation between two characters:
Person A: “I’m trapped in a day-long time loop.”
Person B: “That means there is another person also trapped in the same loop.”
Nonsense, right? Well the conversation is slightly longer but boils down to exactly that. Here is a full version with my play-by-play:
Person A: “I’m trapped in a day-long time loop.”
Person B: “What if you’re not trapped, but instead perfectly predict the future, and experience it as an advanced form of jamais vu?” //How could this possibly be a first idea in reaction to the time loop? How does that work? Why is it a time loop that repeats multiple times instead of just being clairvoyant? You what?
Person A: “How so?”
Person B: “Laplace’s demon. A theoretical intelligence that can perfectly calculate position and behaviour of every particle in the universe, therefore, can predict the future.” //But why would it make a repeating loop instead of just being clairvoyant??? Why would Laplace’s demon be your first idea if it doesn’t actually fit the nature of the situation?
Person A: “But I’m not a Laplace’s demon, I’m a normal human”
Person B: “That means some other person is Laplace’s demon and they do the calculations. You’re quantum entangled with that person so you experience their time loop.” //Again, how could this possibly be your first idea? Other person being Laplace’s demon doesn’t actually answer any of the questions posed. Also, quantum entanglement… a) Is an actual physical phenomena, not a theoretical construct, and it doesn’t fit the situation at all, so it wouldn’t be a thing that comes to mind here; b) Doesn’t have anything to do with Laplace’s demon, so it wouldn’t come to mind based on that; c) DOESN’T EXPLAIN WHY THE TIME IS REPEATING IN A LOOP, INSTEAD OF TWO PEOPLE BEING CLAIRVOYANT.
**Spoiler ends here**
Notice the pattern? Wrong physics aside, none of the conclusions of Person B logically follow from the previously reached conclusions, it’s a bunch of random lines arranged one after another. Either the author is a moron and “lines arranged one after another” is his understanding of how logic works, or he thinks the audience are morons and he can scam them with this garbage if he talks fast and sounds confident. Incidentally, if someone tries “but that’s just Person B’s theory, it doesn’t have to be true” on you – spit them in the face because the characters act on those assumptions and they are proven to be 100% correct.
2/10 because this series provides nothing of value and has no reason to exist, except to give an answer to a weird thought experiment – what if some acclaimed series was the same, but written by an author 50 IQ points lower.
If you thought this show was about literal BUNNY GIRLS, boi should you be prepared to be bamboozled by the most misleading title that you mightve ever come across. I was watching the first few minutes of the first episode expecting something probably as ecchi as it seems on the cover art, but hot damn did I got hooked by the quirky characters, mainly the interactions between our main protagonists. This show within the first episode reminded me of Bakemonogatari, which till this date I still think has one of the best monologues and dialogues, and now at the end of it, I think we have a great contester to dethrone the monogatari series, and here I present you, Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai.
Story / Character -10-
Revolving around the idea of ‘Puberty Syndrome’, this story mainly focuses on how our male protagonist, Sakuta settles this problem for the ones undergoing this syndrome. Albeit totally supernatural, there are sufficient backstory and explanations relating to quantum physics and what not (if you can understand that is), in which I think is always a great touch to the story to not let the audience sit in confusion. Puberty Syndrome is where you might find random bruises or cuts throughout your body, or having a juxtapose of yourself that takes your rightful place etc. However, because the setting of this story is actually in high school, it can be very relatable to some due to the fact that the problems usually are involved with gossiping, bad mouthing or simply falling in love. Consequences of not properly solving Puberty Syndrome can lead to severe problems, just like in real life, one wrong move and it might cause you the win or lose.
Now moving on to our protagonist, ladies first, and it is our best girl Sakurajima Mai senpai. Humorous, bold, outgoing, what more can one ask for, it’s an all in one package here for your service. Sakuta, again humorous, kind, and mostly perverted. With the encounter of Makinohara Shouko, Sakuta starts to treat others kinder and is the core of why Sakuta helps (perpetually) everyone out throughout the story, because he wants to be kind. As of the side characters, imouto, kouhai, thicc af girl IN LAB COAT, theyre all really great and likeable characters, with each of them having their own unique personalities. They also contribute a lot to the story, making this entire show a very wholesome one. Catchy settings and directing is what makes this anime stand at the top against the others this season, maybe even the year of 2018, you get so invested into the characters by the first episode it is hard to just not love this anime.
Cloverworks ( A-1 Pictures) nailed the crap out of it this time. The art style is really smooth to the eyes, and looks a lot like Oregairu (which is definitely an extra point), animations are fluid and some compositions are seriously on point. Subtle emotions are well laid out on the characters and they really add up to the feelings and they convey well to the audience.
Another big part that contributes to the wholesomeness of this show is the voice acting and the OSTs. The opening which at this point everyone probably knows how to sing, is hella catchy, and is like a blackhole sucking you in, once you heard it, theres no turning back. Same goes for the ending, every character had their own uniquely designed ending, just like how the monogatari series has the VA sing the OP for their respective arcs (in which case is the same here). Voice acting is top notch, whats better than having a quirky conversation? A lively and energetic one. And its all here in this show, cocaine for your ears my buddy.
Definitely my top pick of this season (year as well), if you haven’t watch it, please do so already, you really don’t want to miss out this show, even if the cover art turns you off (or the otherwise ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) You want some fun time watching some slice of life-y anime? Check! You want some home hitting feelings or tear jerking moments? Check! Having doubted this anime at first was my single worst mistake Ive ever made, because this series has proven itself worthy of being one of the best animes possibly out there. With an movie adaptation for another arc in the future, I can safely say that everyone should be looking forward for that, just like how Sakuta looks forward getting teased by Mai everyday.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai
2. Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii
3. Yagate Kimi ni Naru
4. High Score Girl
5. Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san
6. Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card-hen
7. Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai
8. Sword Art Online: Alicization
9. Irozuku Sekai no Ashita kara
10. Koi wa Ameagari no You ni