They are by far the best anime! We counts down the best anime to come out all the time, including the likes of Yakusoku no Neverland 2nd Season, Persona 5 the Animation, Slow Start, and more!
14: Yakusoku no Neverland 2nd Season
English: The Promised Neverland Season 2
MAL Score: 5.46
Emma, Ray, and the rest of the older children have escaped the confines of the Grace Field House. However, with relentless demons set on capturing them, their arduous battle for freedom has only just begun.
Despite venturing into the treacherous wilderness, the children remain optimistic due to their possession of books written by William Minerva. Coded within his books are messages detailing the world outside the farm—information that can help them survive with the limited resources they have. But when their pursuers draw near, the children soon encounter their most dreadful situation yet.
In Yakusoku no Neverland 2nd Season, the children struggle to survive in the strange ruthless world, striving to find a sanctuary they can truly call home.
This sequel follows Female Kirito, previously known as “Emma”. Similar to Kirito, Emma is also the most powerful player in the video game. Rather than using a sword, she has the power of plot armor to protect her from any danger! Getting chased by a demon? She can outrun it. Armed soldiers can’t kill demons with guns? She’ll kill it with a bow & arrow. Instead of getting followed around by a harem, Female Kirito has a bunch of children that go along with anything she says. They have names but don’t worry—you won’t remember them anyway. Previously a character known as “Ray” challenged Emma’s overly idealistic goals. This season he has been renamed to “Hay” because has no weight on the plot and allows Emma to do anything—no matter how stupid she acts. A long-lost friend (who was lost for less than 6 episodes) returns, but he’s actually a bitter Bad Guy now! Shocking! But why is he bad? He explains everything to us because we are incapable of comprehending storytelling—we must be fucking idiots!
Just sit back and get spoonfed by one of Season Two’s many iconic exposition scenes: Emma and her harem gather in a non-descript room, and one character stands-up and summarizes 100 chapters of the manga in a five to ten-minute long speech. It’s like karaoke night, but instead of singing, they monotonously read SparkNotes summaries of the manga with no animation whatsoever. Unless you consider a PowerPoint presentation to be animation. The Promised Neverland 2nd Season does not tell a story, nor does it do much of anything. It uses a bunch of unrelated plot points throughout dozens of chapters. Years of time skips pass by in minutes. Then it stitches these barely connected pieces together like a hideous quilt.
The entire show rides on how Emma’s feeling today. In one episode she’ll let the kids eat potentially poisonous fish, in the other she’ll happily help a demon with its groceries despite knowing they like to eat children for supper. No matter anything she does, she’ll have either a smile on her face or a slightly concerned expression. I don’t like comparing the adaptation to the manga, but in this case, it is impossible to not notice the differences in art detail and writing quality. All of the passion is drained, turning climactic moments into laughably bad dialogue. Villains double-cross each other in unison like a hive mind being controlled by an annoyed writer.
They should have explained the motivations behind everyone’s sudden changes in goals and morality, but that’d require hard work. And lazy writers don’t like doing hard work. Why bother adapting three beloved story arcs from the manga—full of battles that would be VERY expensive to animate—when you can just summarize them with a PowerPoint presentation? That’s easy money! Strip away the psychological horror, intelligence, atmosphere, and logic that made the original anime so special, and what do you have left? This piece of inane shit. Granted, I am not a huge fan of the original, but it was light-years better than this. The show is dependent upon the demon creature effects but, even in 2D, they are below average at best. It’s remarkable, really. CloverWorks has mastered the art of being lazy, and they should be applauded for that.
My instinct is to blame the writers at Cloverworks, but it’s clear from disappearing names in the credits that they did not want to be associated with this colossal dumpster fire. According to interviews, the mangaka co-wrote the anime original story, but that has never stopped a film from being bad. George Lucas co-wrote The Rise of the Skywalker, and George R.R. Martin worked on the clusterfuck that was Game of Thrones S8. Just like those adaptations, The Promised Neverland will go down as one of the greatest declines in writing quality in all of anime history. The last time I saw an anime crash and burn so hard in the final act was Darling in the FranXX.
That’s all there is to The Promised Neverland 2nd season. Finishing as quickly as possible to cash a paycheck. Every aspect of it is rushed: The stiff voice performances, the recycled soundtrack is poorly mixed. They reuse the same facial expressions, character animations, background art, and CGI monsters. Even to the untrained eye, it will be obvious the production has cut corners in literally every aspect. If you don’t care about quality and want your intelligence to be insulted, watch this remarkable landmark in anime history. Come along, join these personified potatoes on a journey to rebel against Weekly Shounen Jump by becoming the most profitable adaptation while putting in the least amount of talent & budget possible. A journey which they have failed, apparently, according to the abysmal sales.
This is horror. This is The Promised Neverland Season Two. And it’s frickin brilliant.
Now you may be sitting in your comfy chair, mouth agape in shock, and asking yourself “Is this guy quite possibly insane?” Probably. But I also had a revelation to something that you don’t know…yet. But that’s ok. I’m here to enlighten you dear reader. I came to realize that this season’s apparent monumental failure was in fact done on PURPOSE. Yeah, I know it sounds unbelievable, but let me lift the veil from your eyes so you too can begin to appreciate this anime’s efforts.
Let me ask you something. What is the primary genre of Promised Neverland? The one that enticed viewers to watch and kept them craving more? The one that propelled this series to the height of popularity? It’s horror. THAT is the driving appeal of this series. The first season did an excellent job with this. I’m sure you don’t need me to reiterate the solid pacing, timing, character growth, conflict, and more. But most importantly, it was a faithful adaptation to the source material.
Now imaging destroying all of that.
The once well defined and centralized plot has become convoluted, characters have become one dimensional, and the solid build up has just completely evaporated among other things. But also…taking an anime original approach!? Gasp! Now this is what I call true horror!
There’s only so far you can go when trying to instill fear into viewers through animation. Studio Cloverworks clearly knew that they had to take things to the next level, so instead of providing some exterior unnerving content like they did with the first season, they strike directly at the heart of fans by making them feel the utter despair of watching something they love turn into…this. Wow. Totally soul crushing. And absolutely genius!
And that’s why this season is clearly a subversive masterpiece. Shows of this genre aim to break the viewer through deep and dark content. Yet Cloverworks found a way to effectively do this through an entirely different approach, and it clearly shows. Seriously, the overwhelming animosity towards this season by fans is almost as scary as this show’s complete and utter implosion. I applaud them for their enlightened and forward thinking methods! But here’s a warning. This only applies if you read and were a fan of the manga. Otherwise, it’s just a incredibly lackluster sequel to a really good first season. Through watching, fans get to experience the purest, most rage inducing kind of horror there is.
The horror of a butchered adaptation.
Let me be clear, season 2 of Yakuneba, or TPN, whatever you prefer, is the biggest disappointment I’ve ever seen in all my years of watching anime. Those familiar with the manga will know that the content after season 2 has an astronomical drop in quality, but season 2’s material was the best in the series. Yet, for some unknown reason, Cloverworks and the author decided to rewrite the story and condense the entire second half of the manga into 11 episodes and remove one of the best characters in the series. Why? There’s been rumours that the author didn’t like the pacing of Goldy Pond(the arc that should have been adapted this season) and decided to rework things. Out of all the things that went wrong in the second half of the manga, Goldy Pond was not one of them.
Now that I’ve got my manga reader tirade out of the way, I’ll explain just how atrocious this season was. “Well, I didn’t read the manga, so I might like it still, right?” No. Even if you were fortunate enough to not read the final half of Yakuneba’s manga, you will still find plenty of faults with this season. For one, the pacing is comically bad. Conflicts are set up and resolved in the span of a few minutes, often with huge leaps in logic. For two, the kids are often put into situations for which they have no training or previous experience and yet able to magically work their way out of with no casualties or so much as a scratch. For three, none of the mystery and tension that the first season or first half of the manga had are present. There’s never a need to fear for anything because you know Emma will talk no jutsu her way out of things.
This season is just bad, not just because it butchered a fan favourite arc or cut out a fan favourite character and moments. It’s bad because it’s poorly written, poorly directed and a shadow of the former glory of TPN. Honestly, I thought it would be hard to get worse than the manga, but Cloverworks succeeded here on that front. If you want a somewhat mediocre conclusion to the story, check that out, but even then don’t expect much. Yakuneba S2 gets 2 dumpster fires out of 10.
13: Persona 5 the Animation
English: Persona 5 The Animation
MAL Score: 6.44
Ren Amamiya, a new transfer student at Shujin Academy, is sent to Tokyo to live with his family friend Sojiro Sakura after wrongly being put on probation for defending a woman from sexual assault. While on the way to attend his first day at his new school, Ren notices a strange app has appeared on his phone, transferring him to a world known as the Metaverse, which contains people’s “shadows”: distorted depictions of their true selves. In the Metaverse, he awakens his Persona, a power from deep within that gives him the strength to fight the shadows. With the help of similarly troubled students, he forms the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, attempting to save people from their sinful desires by “taking their heart,” making evildoers regret their actions and turn over a new leaf. The group’s reputation continues to grow explosively, bringing along fame both positive and negative.
However, during the peak of their popularity, Ren gets captured and taken into custody. Here, he wakes up to a harsh interrogation, but this is cut short by the arrival of Sae Niijima—a prosecutor seeking answers. Just how will she react to his story, and what will become of the Phantom Thieves?
Persona 5, another addition to the long time SMT/Persona series was a huge success in both the west and in Japan. It won 2017 Game Awards “RPG of the Year” And was ranked at was of the top games of the year by many gaming outlets. Even with that, the anime was considered a disappointment from the start. With its cheap animation, off-pacing at times, and generally its lack of what made the game special.
However, my expectations played a part in the viewing experience. It was clear from the start that this wasn’t going to be like the game at all, as most game adaptations never are. Persona 5’s stand alone story is not what made the game special, rather just one factor. I wasn’t coming into this expecting what I got from the game, and neither should you. As I do see where most the criticism comes from, the root of it is from people who compare to the game, this probably isn’t a fair way to look at it. The game was made by thousands of more people, have had years to develop, and is generally taken more serious. This was a direct result of poor animation, bad pacing, and cutting out parts of the game. The anime should be given some slack in that regard.
With all that being said, I am not trying to defend the bad parts of the P5 anime. They are noticeably apparent, and part of why it led to widespread hate of the P5 anime. The animation is sometimes shit. The CG usage was often bad, especially in the background characters walking around. The faraway faces are sometimes laughable. And although the pacing is considerably better in the second half of the show, the beginning is way too fast. Usually I wouldn’t give these issues a pass, but like I said since it was mainly being compared to the game I do. People who haven’t played the game probably won’t see that much of an issue in these.
In many cases however, what likely appealed to you in the game should transition into the anime. If you like the characters, they will translate nicely. And of course, the music does as well. Chances are you didn’t complete everything in the game unless you played it through multiple times, so some of what you will be seeing from the characters could be a new experience. The character development was taken from the ‘confidant’ system so if you didn’t complete everyone’s confidant or maybe just were not paying attention you could be seeing new content. That along with the actual anime exclusive scenes, like seeing some of the characters in new situations, or seeing them given more backstory like showing them as children, gives the anime merit to watch even if you have played the game, a common criticism.
There isn’t always something to say about P5TA. Largely because it is just doing what it was supposed to. There are both good and bad parts. If you want to experience the game but don’t want the time investment of playing through all of it, (and trust me, the game is huge) than this might be for you. If you are a fan of the game, than this might be for you. It doesn’t necessarily show everything the game has to offer, but doesn’t do anything too bad to diminish it either.
You shouldn’t think too hard about this one.
Unfortunate for the fans of the game, the anime end up being 26 episodes long when it should have been 500, and unfortunate for anime fans, the anime end up being 26 episodes long when it should have been 13.
As far as fillers go, filler is canon content I mean, Persona 5 is full of slice of life nonsense that has nothing to do with anything. People fighting over pieces of bread and talking about their dreams just to make sure the pacing will become harder to comprehend than the popularity of the franchise itself.
What is directorship? is what I found myself often asking when seeing how Persona 5 is build to be nothing but a collection of random scenes that were edited together without any consistency or flow that makes the next scene related to the former one. Screen transitions seem to be some sort of “worst animated cabbage” meme when the focus goes from pan fights in the middle of the day to a scene where we drink coffee in the evening to a bully scene and finally returns to a scene where the actual pan is being eaten in a time that seems to be the very next day. The shots mainly remind me of Resident Evil The Final Chapter (movie) where the camera angle could change 45 times a minute over the same scene except here it changes from scene to another in ludicrous tempo. Visual storytelling at its finest. Bravo.
Our main characters are incredibly random. They mainly remind me of Suicide Squad. By Suicide Squad, I mean every superhero movie ever because that thing was exactly as good as they all are. The real mc is some sort of mixture of Robin Hood and Jesus. The female lead appears very mysterious, but the real mystery is why would anyone care. She is pretty hot, tho. The blonde dude is like spiderman but sassy. All the other girls were just swag, but gladfully there was like 7 beach episodes so they really had time showing off their naked bodies as it’s not like they had anything else to show. None of the side characters feel like genuine persons, they are more like NPC’s who only exist for the main characters… oh wait.
What is this series all about even, you ask. And that’s what I am still wondering. Teenagers with stand powers are participating inside some sort of fighting tournament shonen storyline that mainly reminds me of Katekyou Hitman Reborn (we even have the same mascot here) except the comedy was replaced with some type of combination of angst and edgy, the villains are evil adults, the actual events are Robin Hood with superpowers and most of it is slice of life. As epic as it might sound, what it really sounded like was a wet fart.
The only good thing about the game itself was the OST. Unfortunately, voice acting is always at louder volume than the OST, and SFX above all else. Boy don’t we love it when explosions cover the music. It really fits the definition of a background music because instead of trying to make the series better by using the songs to their full potential, they are just there hanging in the background. It’s pretty much a stupid decision.
Our art is at least pretty fun if not otherwise impressive. Villains wearing strings and cloaks made of fur offer the most original content in the entire series. Some of the leather suits were also pretty sexy. Especially the art room looked cool as fudge. Too bad its overall screen time totaled 3 seconds. Like literally. Not that even these things would be worth of praising in a series that had some other merits. Pretty much all side characters follow the “spot the main character” tier filler/design.
Hoy lads, I was quite excited to see my first review make it front page so thanks for that but now that the anime is done I guess I have to write this again. Most of my opinions haven’t really changed so bits and pieces will remain the same. Swearing to Brahman didn’t really help save this anime and P5A only slightly picked itself up towards later episodes. Atlus still should not be tolerating this kind of quality and I do sincerely hope they get out of whatever sort of contract they’re in before they decide to ruin another property.
Let’s begin, no spoilers. As someone who is passionate about the Megami Tensei franchise as a whole, and adore the Persona entries, I felt obligated to just… say what I’m thinking, give a little rant ya’ feel? Aight, cool. Let’s go.
P5 was my game of the year last year and is one of my favourites in MT as a whole. Lots of things they could work on, but nevertheless it’s a brilliant entry with a brilliant story, characters, art, music, etc.. If you’re wondering whether or not the *game* is worth your time, then yes. It probably is. Please don’t go looking at this anime for your answers because, well for fuck’s sake, you won’t find them here.
Let’s start with the big one. The animation is hilariously poor and it kind of pisses me off. The P3, P4 and to an extent DeSu properties have been treated quite nicely (except for P4G which was atrocious and made me want to die), and hardly did I ever cringe at any 1 frame. P5 however. Heh heh heh… uh, well let’s just say I’ve made a separate Discord to Jack Bros that just holds a bunch of cropped screencaps of characters.
From the awkward running cycles shown in the first couple of minutes of the first episode to the new, overly lazy All-Out Attack meme scene of the second episode and out of place CGI characters roam the corridors and street to episode 12’s (~9:30) scene where they tried to zoom out on a character but the character layer and the background layer were done to two different levels of zoom so basically the kind of shit I accidentally did in my 2011 YouTube videos and like how the fuck can this go unnoticed my god. I’mma take a breather. And we back. Okay. I also liked when they got too lazy to animate Makoto so they brought out a low quality P5 model in episode 11.
Whoever is animating this bullshit is in it for the monetary gain. They’ve been given one of the most well received RPG franchises and it just seems like they don’t give a shit about it. Ironic considering P5’s story.
Shoji Meguro is still a god with music. Whatever he creates makes me the very happy. The first opening song is brilliant, the second opening song is brilliant, the ending song is brilliant; Lyn’s voice is just great and Shoji knows how to create music. What little new stuff I’ve heard has also been pretty good. Actually using his music at the right moments however is a different story. I’m primarily thinking of the Ryuji awakening scene at the moment, the song choice and awkward sync made me (personally) cringe a little and took away from what should have been a very powerful moment for the character, like it was in game.
On top of all this, episode (12) had begun using P5D music, in particular the Jazztronik remix of Wake Up and ATLUS Konishi’s Blooming Villain. Considering P5D was released like a week ago from this episode’s release, their inclusions made me feel like the episode had only been completed recently, implying it was rushed. They might’ve gotten the rights to such music beforehand, but I personally believe they would’ve used more remixes in earlier episodes had this been the case. I had a discussion with a friend about this and they said it could’ve been a marketing strategy for Dancing but using random songs doesn’t seem like it would accomplish anything in my personal opinion.
Guess I should also mention that the sound design in terms of effects and ambiance is quite poor. I made a note of episode 16 having used stock sound effects, or what sounded as such, but either way it sounded very unprofessional and cheap.
The pacing feels awfully fast and unnatural, with them cutting out a bunch of stuff that ultimately added to the game’s story and development of characters. They cut out the part where Kamoshida asks Ren if he wants a ride where he says “Nah” and that. That. I was sitting there, anticipating the “nah” but they didn’t do it and I was just blue balled y’know. Cried a little even. Jokes aside, with 24 episodes I thought they’d not need to be rushing but look how that turned out with that 2 episode extension. Tips for next time: focus on filtering out the stupid long and drawn out shots of the fucking rain.
Also as a quick note, watched the show on Crunchyroll where they awkwardly linked Kamoshida to being in a train accident in the first episode or something and then relate that accident indirectly to the phantom thieves… which never happened in the game nor really happens in the anime. It was just worded really poorly.
I like how they ended the show with an ambiguous ending, did we get the “good ending” or the “bad ending” thing; obviously leading to their OVA but it was nifty none-the-less… at least in theory lmao. They’ve said they’re going to sway away from the original ending with the OVA so when I heard they left on a note of ambiguity I got a bit of a hard on. But from the looks of it, they set up the good ending pretty well so don’t know what to expect now.
In my personal opinion, Persona typically does its characters really well — formulating them in such a way that makes them more human than just characters playing their part in a story. However in P5A, they’re… well gee, they not done very well lads.
Ren (the protagonist) comes off initially as this angsty, edgy and depressed teen, and with such dialogue options from the game as “Please look after me” and “Hell yeah I’m into older women”, you kind of desire that silly aspect of the character especially when they did it with Yu in the P4 anime. Of course, Ren as a character is up to interpretation so I can’t really say it’s “wrong”. The other characters though, well yes I can.
Sojiro feels so monotone and boring. The first couple of moments in the game set him up as a character who doesn’t want to bother with your shit effectively helping to establish one of the best character development arcs in the story. He just sort of feels ‘there’ in the anime, to progress the story when we need him to. Ryuji was fine until his rushed awakening and overreaction to Ren’s story. There’s something about him but I cannot put my finger on it just yet. Morgana is there, Igor looks dumb, Mishima didn’t get hit by a ball, and I can finally understand why Shiho wanted to jump.
Ann is definitely the worst change though. Ann’s whole arc was supposed to be about her feelings towards objectification and slowly acknowledging herself as an attractive individual, using that fact for good. But what happens the episode after she goes on her whole “don’t objectify me” spiel? They objectify her. :clap: :clap: Constant fanservicey shots, close ups of the icky unmentionables, you name it.
This show has been making me very sad and I’m not entirely hopeful for Dark Sun. There’s nothing much more to say except that I hope Atlus start giving their properties back to competent studios. Tune in next time for when I show you how to hack into the Pentagon using only Futaba’s social link.
12: Slow Start
English: Slow Start
MAL Score: 7.02
Hana Ichinose, a 17-year-old high school student who is not only introverted, but also insecure and timid, has just moved and will be attending a new school. To make her situation more difficult, Hana is a “slow start,” which means that she missed a year and worries about attending a class where everyone is younger than her.
During her introduction, the teacher reveals it is Hana’s birthday, which gives her the jumping-off point to meet three of her classmates: Tamate Momochi, a charismatic and extroverted girl; Kanmuri Sengoku, who is shy and small; and the popular and pretty Eiko Tokura. Not wanting to lose the chance to make new friends, Hana’s interactions with these three mark the beginning of some beautiful relationships that will change her life.
Except it’s not a gimmick and it’s not treading the same ground. Rather it’s going farther than most CGDCT shows ever try to do.
In reality, the core of Hana as a character isn’t the fact that she started a year late, but rather how that late start effects her as a person. Hana shows all of the traditional signs of the worrier archetype but it goes beyond that. While sometimes it can be played up for laughs it doesn’t exist solely for laughs. Rather it is a core focus of the show. Hana isn’t just a worrier but rather is someone who has anxiety and a pretty bad case of that. Whenever something is brought up she is always finding the worse possible scenario for it and then fretting over it. Whether it be a misplaced unaccounted-for screw, fearing if she’d be able to get friends, or fearing what her friends would think about her secret, every event has something to worry about. This isn’t something that shows up just when it’d be humorous but something that exists in each and every interaction that she has.
And thusly the core of the show isn’t really about a missed year, rather the core of the show is about dealing with anxiety and the support system around her. And what makes Slow Start so magical to me is that it’s able to deal with the subject matter while also being fluffy and fun at the same time.
Hana is really relatable as a character. What she goes through and how she approaches situations is parallel to what I and others face as follow sufferers from anxiety. It happens all the time and it can happen from any sort of stimuli. Furthermore, there is this sense of feeling how silly or meaningless the worry is about. Hana remarks several times that she thinks her own fears are stupid but the fears never stop. Anxiety isn’t concerned with what makes sense and whether it’s logical to be worried or not. It just happens. A scenario pops into one’s mind and it cases worry until it can finally be put to rest. And this happens a lot with Hana. No matter what situation she’s in there’s always something that she can worry about and something that her anxiety can pick on. Furthermore, she’s not the only one to have anxiety in the show. There is also Ms Hannen who suffers from social anxiety. In her case, we get to see her slowly come out of her shell as she learns how to deal with society and be able to go out into the real world. She’s a shut-in but not even an okatu, just a shut-in, and it’s believable in the ways that she acts as a shut-in. And the slow steps that she takes to get out of it. She goes to many convenience stores because it’s somewhere to practice being in society at, and while it seems silly there is something real to taking small steps in order to conquer anxiety. Rome was not built in a day, and one can’t go straight out into the belly of the beast and expect things to be alright. That sounds like a recipe for a panic attack, and panic attacks are not fun.
The whole show is about taking small steps. And in that way, the name fits. While I understand why shows can try to build up something bombastic and have it resolved quickly, I also really like how Slow Start is comprised of small issues dealt with slowly. Especially the recurring issues like Hana’s anxiety are treated with care and are resolved slowly. There is no quick fix for anxiety. There is no way to stop the endlessly worrying mind from worrying. And the fact that this show gets that and rather focuses on having them slowly grow and be treated with love and comfort the whole way is something that I really enjoyed seeing.
The show is even able to show other parts of anxiety rather than just the worry. It also shows the effect of on self-esteem that it has and the ways that it cases Hana to react. Every reaction Hana had was deeply relatable to me. And even better is that they managed to provide this without the full melodramatic pain. Everything was alright. Everyone still loved her. But still the struggle existed and Hana’s self-esteem continued to erode at herself, only to be reminded by everyone that her fears were not true. Slow Start shows a level of acceptance I did not expect. Rather than dismiss her worries or how she is, her friends and Shion all accept who she is and that she has those worries. For every fear, Hana has there is someone not just telling her that it’s ok and rebutting it, but also telling her that it’s ok for her to fear that. That it’s ok for her to be herself. That she is ok and that there is nothing wrong with her because of whatever issue is bothering her. Anxiety is not ideal, far from it, but that doesn’t mean that the person with it is any less worthwhile, or that their thoughts are stupid. It just happens. And I’m so glad to see that Slow Start not only tackles these issues but reassures that it’s ok to feel this way.
It isn’t just Hana’s actions that make her anxiety so relatable but rather the reactions of those around her. Her parents are supportive and try to help her with what they can. Same with Shion. The actions that they take are completely in line with the actions that one would take for someone in Hana’s situation. They’re careful with her and coddle her a bit more than someone would be at her age. But they still do it because for someone like her it makes sense to comfort her. To tell her that it’ll all be alright. She is treated with more care than someone else at her age would be and it makes sense why that is true. Even the teacher knows about it and tries to help Hana along. She tries to guide her as well and tries to give her a good understanding of what’s what.
But Hana isn’t the only character who shines in the show. All of the characters shine and differentiate themselves from the typical mould of CGDCT. There is Eiko who feels like a real teenage girl, she’s fashionable, mature, and is discovering herself like most teenagers do. She has interests that are usually out of the scope of CGDCT, but that fall very in line with who she is as a person. And added on top of that she is a natural flirt who is able to get the attention of almost every girl that she interacts with. It’s hard to say whether this is on purpose or not though, on one hand, it all looks innocent but on the other hand, there seems to be a real sense of longing with her, a sense of emptiness that needs filling. Eiko isn’t just flirting just because she’s the natural flirt but also because it’s something that she likes to do and something that makes her feel more comfortable. There is an interesting push and pull with another character from the show that demonstrates this well. There is some level of a game to it for her, and a level, of satisfaction of being wanted and needed. She is an interesting character who I have yet to see another character like.
Tama also shines. She is the typical sort of Genki girl but also an okatu, and unlike what one would expect from that archetype she’s actually really responsible. She keeps track of her finances and seems to have a good grasp on what she has to do and all of that. She isn’t one of the Genki girls that need to be reminded every episode what’s important but rather she knows it already. Really she’s just hyper and someone who loves to get the full flavor out of life. And certainly, she adds to the show by giving just that. Adding extra fun and emotional moments that really shine and make the show even more distinct. You can tell her sense of responsibility by how her grandmas interact with her. In many shows, the Genki girl is scolded by their parents over and over again for being too irresponsible and causing trouble, but in the case of Tama, she is revered by her grandmas.
Kamuri is the weakest character of the group but she has her own flavor and certainly, she’s better than some of those characters can be. She doesn’t have the same character depth as the other three but she certainly does add to the group and is fun to watch.
The character interactions are fantastic in Slow Start, they fully and completely feel like friends and even more so than that it feels like they’re fully committed to helping Hana and each other. Both Eiko and Tama go out of their way to reassure Hana and show her that everything is alright. They don’t laugh at her issues but rather empathize with her. While the characters certainly can have fun with each other and joke about each other when push comes to shove they’re always there for each other and there to try to help out. They’re great friends and I loved every moment of watching them grow closer and support each other.
Add onto that the animation of this show is fantastic. The character animation is top notch as the characters are allowed to have small animated movements that make them feel so much more lively. It makes the emotions of each scene that much richer, including the fun which feels that much more vibrant. In fact, I’ve never been one to care too much about animation quality especially in a CGDCT, but seeing what the emotive animation of Slow Start can do really gave me an appreciation of what animation can do, even for a genre that doesn’t rely on it the same way that action would. There are so many little movements in this show that work so well and it’s so great.
Slow Start is one of the best CGDCT shows that I’ve watched yet. It’s able to tackle serious issues in the background while still being vibrant and fun. The way that the situations are handled also is very heartwarming and its just so nice to see people bond and care for each other. CGDCT is made off of heartwarming interactions and fun fluff, and for a show to do both so well like Slow Start has, along with providing interesting distinct characters, and dynamic character animation… magical.
When I started watching slow start I was ready for another relaxing cute anime with cute characters but this was just not like that, I’m all for trying new stuff but that doesn’t mean that when it fails then them trying will make it better than it really is.
Most of the characters were bad, 3 out of the 4 MCs are bad, first the MC is probably the most forced always worrying like character with most of the time all she is doing is worrying about the stupidest shit, then we have the loli character which at this moment feels like a child just staying with them and I’m personally starting to dislike her VA because of how overused her voice is tbh, then Eiko which I don’t really like or hate her but the way she interacts with other characters is weird specially with her trying to act flirty and normal at the same time which made it look random and weird, Also the overused joke of how she gets every girl is annoying, repeating jokes is ok and it is necessary at times but when it happens every episode about 3-4 times that is just annoying, it’s not funny listening the same joke again and again every week.
There are still good characters like Tama,Landlady, Hiroue and the teacher, they gave out the most enjoyment out of the anime and made it kinda bearable to watch when it started feeling like a chore rather than an enjoyable anime.
The times where Eiko tries to get the teacher to lover her and the teacher always making the comeback so easily was also kinda enjoyable.
Now the worst thing about this anime is the interactions, at times you are watching friends playing together then 1 second later and it almost turns into a full-on Yuri action which made the anime all over the place.
The art, designs (specially the teachers’s and hiroe’s design) and animation were outstanding specially the animation and how fluid it is, the interactions may have been horrible but the way they were presented was great, the attention to detail is perfect and it wasn’t like lots of other anime where a character stays in place for 1 minute to talk instead they were moving and walking around the place which made it seem like a normal real life situation, there was that 1 scene where Tama moved her hand to tell Eiko to set down while Eiko was talking which was rare to see other characters moving freely and normally even though they aren’t talking, it may not seem impressive but I thought it was a very nice touch.
Overall I would give the anime a 5/10.
I wouldn’t recommend it.
This story is focused on Hana, a shy girl who easily gets worried that she is a year behind the rest after not being able to do the exams for high school. That affected her and she couldn’t handle thinking about what everyone else would think of her, so she ended up leaving her house and went to live in the apartment of her cousin Shion to start a fresh life where no one would know her. That decision gave her the chance to meet three girls from her new school that she will end up being very close to in this fun and heartwarming anime.
Most of the series is focused on Hana and her interactions with the always active Tama-chan, the more adult and lover of accessories Eiko, and the childrish but surprisingly aware Kamuri, who is really attached to Eiko, these four girls are always entertaining to watch and they were just what Hana needed to slowly overcome her fears thanks to their affection and frienship, creating lots of scenes that never failed to put a smile on my face. There are also three other side characters who give some variety to the series, the previously mentioned and very kind Shion, the quite relatable Hannen (who creates a solid synergy with Hana due to her own issues) and Kiyose, the teacher of the girls and that has some very interesting scenes with Eiko. That together with some moments with Hana’s parents as well form a nice cast of characters that I enjoyed a lot watching.
The animation of the show is legit fantastic and honestly surprised me since I didn’t expect that from it, the characters move so smoothly and feel so alive. In terms of music, Slow Start has one or two memorable songs and that’s really all, but that’s something I see in general for most comedy/SoL series, where their objective is just to provide ambient sound. On the other hand, the opening song, “ne! ne! ne!” is one of my favorites of this season with one catchy song I sang along each episode.
Slow Start was a very enjoyable anime that I definitely recommend to any fan of the cute girls genre. Hana started high school a year later, don’t take that long to give it a try!
11: Gyakuten Saiban: Sono “Shinjitsu”, Igi Ari! Season 2
English: Ace Attorney Season 2
Japanese: 逆転裁判 ～その「真実」、異議あり！～ Season 2
MAL Score: 7.15
Defense attorney Ryuuichi Naruhodou is still hard at work defending the falsely accused with his knack for last-minute turnabouts. With his trusty assistant and medium-in-training Mayoi Ayasato in tow, Ryuuichi’s fame as a champion for the innocent steadily grows. But this newfound success attracts the attention of the coffee-loving, masked Godot?—a mysterious rookie prosecutor who bears an inexplicable grudge against Ryuuichi.
With the help of their allies, Ryuuichi and Mayoi take this new challenger head-on and search for the reason behind his appearance. But before long, the first two cases from the career of Mayoi’s late sister Chihiro Ayasato become critical to solving a fantastical murder mystery, continuing the bloody saga of the tumultuous Ayasato clan. Will Ryuuichi once again be able to overcome the odds and find the truths hidden within the web of lies?
Sadly, this was not to be.
If you’ve read my review of the first season, you’ll see I’ve already detailed there what a disaster this anime was from a technical perspective. There are some improvements to be found here – the colour palette for the character designs was improved from the undersaturated tones used in the season prior, although the facial proportions are still odd. The courtroom has also been revamped to something more closely resembling that of the games (although the defence and prosecution are still on the wrong sides of the court for some reason). Most importantly though, the CG court gallery, whilst not removed outright, has been made much less obvious. This anime even looks good at times – but it’s extremely uneven. In some episodes it looks completely fine, but in many more there are constant and severe animation errors. The animation may be slightly improved, but it needed much more than “slight” improvements.
As before, this takes a streamlined approach to the games, cutting a lot of incidental dialogue. This actually works wonders for its opening case, The Lost Turnabout. This was originally the first case of the second game, Justice For All, which was left out of the first season – Understandably so, as it serves mostly to reintroduce the main cast, which would have been quite out of place in the middle of the previous season. That case has some fun contradictions, all of which are preserved here (for once), but it suffered from having an extremely irritating main villain whose main characteristic was rambling and ranting. The streamlining of dialogue cuts this out, leaving a much more enjoyable case as a result.
However, this approach is detrimental to the entire rest of the anime. In particular this damages the characterisation of two of its most central characters – Godot and Mia Fey. Godot serves as the primary antagonist for this season, a mysterious masked man with a grudge against Phoenix. While Godot is probably the least capable rival Phoenix has ever had in the games, notable more for his characterisation than presenting a direct threat, he was still a competent prosecutor in the source material. Here, however, he fails to present a single decent argument.
And Mia Fey comes off even worse. Prior to Trials & Tribulations/Gyakuten Saiban 3, she had been a mostly one-dimensional character, having been killed off quite early on and serving more as a ghost mentor figure to Phoenix and a part of various character’s backstories. Here, however, we are treated to two cases set before the start of the series in which Mia Fey is the protagonist. Sadly she doesn’t differ much from Phoenix in this adaptation, as both were strongly characterised by their inner monologue – the game’s version of Mia is the sassiest thing on the planet, but that is completely absent here. Similarly, the anime totally changes the romantic dynamic she had with her mentor, making her obviously flustered in place of the more subtle dialogue that was used originally. It’s a clear downgrade, and takes her even further away from her excellent game counterpart.
Those two cases are adapted more faithfully than much of the game – presumably since as they are more closely linked with this series’ overarching plot. However while the events themselves aren’t changed much, the sequencing of the cases is bafflingly rearranged. Turnabout Memories, originally the first case of the game most of this season is from, is moved to around the midway point, directly before the other prequel case, Turnabout Beginnings. Given that the plot threads set up in this case are vital to the dramatic core of this entire arc, and help to build intrigue in some of the later cases moved before it, this rearranging of the cases damages the narrative somewhat. While it isn’t devastating, it’s still maddening that they would arbitrarily make such an easily-avoided misstep.
A similarly bizarre decision was to add an entire four episodes of filler (including a brand new anime-original case, Turnabout Express) when such a substantial amount of canon content was trimmed out. Save for the aforementioned Lost Turnabout there isn’t a single case here that couldn’t have used more runtime. Somehow, even the filler case manages to feel rushed, and wastes some ideas that might honestly have made a good case (although possessing some obvious flaws, like the killer’s identity being one of the franchise’ most outplayed tropes).
Fortunately the series does make a significant jump in quality in its second half. Turnabout Beginnings in particular manages to preserve if not outright improve on the eerie tone it sets, with its very premise spelling certain doom for most people involved. Even the animation here is noticeably better than usual, and many of the presentation choices in these episodes do a superb job of emphasizing some of its most key emotional beats.
Most importantly of all, though, this season adapts Bridge to the Turnabout, the indisputable masterpiece of the original Ace Attorney trilogy, if not the entire franchise – and manages to not completely bastardize it. While it does make some errors in its first half (in particular bungling the initial hook of the case), in its second half it fares far better, not only giving the events the due space to breathe properly, but also featuring some uncharacteristically excellent directing in places. This case is an absolute masterpiece of detective fiction, managing to create an incredibly layered mystery that weaves together an absurd amount of narrative threads so perfect a puzzle that it defies belief. It creates a perfect mystery while also managing the feat of tying it all into numerous threads laid throughout both of the previous games, and grounding it into the conclusion of compelling character arcs for much of the main cast. It really cannot be overstated just how good Bridge to the Turnabout is, even if the execution here is flawed in places.
Overall this season is a significant improvement over its predecessor, but it’s really too little, too late. While the production is better than its predecessor (what isn’t?), the improvement is owed more to having better source material than the previous season.
If you have not played the games, and have already watched the first season, I am begging you not to watch this one. Please go play the games instead. They are available on so many consoles at this point that there’s no way you don’t have something that can access it.
For Fans Of: Detective Conan, Umineko no Naku Koro Ni
The theme of the anime remains pretty much the same with Phoenix (Naruhodo) going through a few cases, but this time there is much more attention to the pacing, leaving enough time for a case to unfold in a more natural way than rush through everything. There were 23 episodes to animate only 1 game, which meant there was plenty of time for everything and indeed, they gave the final case the space it needed which made the series shine in the end with some great moments and a most well done climax, unlike the prequel.
Of course, this does not make everything great, as things still may be fast and there are various fillers that are just really boring (albeit some being on point!), but the changes have been welcome and it makes the experience much better for people who may have not played the games. It is still pretty far away from a perfect narration of a mystery (but that is not really the anime’s fault), but combined with the intricate story the 3rd game has, which involves our main characters deeply and has a span of many years, and the better storytelling, we have a series we can at least be happy about this time.
Character-wise, there is not much change other than the inclusion of Godot, who is by far the best character in the franchise, and Dahlia (Chinami), who is surprisingly very good at what she does. The downside of the characters is that the franchise itself is peculiar in ways that just do not make sense with characters acting so unnaturally sometimes, ignoring the obvious thing or somehow making the most absurd (yet right) assumptions, etc, so this happens in this series as well. It all comes down to how much you can like them and ignore such things, but of course it is not a good thing either way. Thankfully, there is a touching story involving a lot of characters this time and the more we learn, the better it gets.
Unfortunately, the art and animation have a lot of problems to the point that even in some close-up stills, the anatomy is pretty terrible which is astounding. I still consider it an upgrade though, because the opening/ending sequences were much better this time around and with better songs and I found myself rewinding to check some specific scenes created solely for the OP/ED. But that is all the positive feedback I can give to it, since the animation seems very simple most of the time and I was not a fan of some of the special effects used. However, they really tried bringing to life some of the game’s animations, which was welcome. Sound-wise, there was nothing impressive, but the voice actors were good (especially Godot, even though I didn’t like Hiroaki Hirata as a choice at first) and the OST is decent, with the 2nd OP being a weakness of mine.
Summing up, this is still not a great anime, but CloverWorks fixed to a big extent the problems that were there before and offered us an enjoyable watch, at least. If you are a fan of the game, you should definitely watch this. And if you are not, this deserves a chance someday!
More cases, more peculiar murders, and one suspicious woman that seems to keep popping up in everything that’s going on, the follow up to Naruhodo Ryuuichi’s start in his career as a defense attorney has him tackle more of these cases, this time with a lot more backstory and a lot more quirks to be had.
Noted as an adaptation from the third game of the Ace Attorney series, a lot doesn’t really change from the story aside from continuing to adapt cases from the source material, doing a sort of ‘animated tutorial’ with a hundred percent less trial and error hoping that you just ‘happen’ on the right answer since Naruhodo is a lot smarter of a defense attorney than (apparently) most people give him credit for. The quality of the show varies on a literal case by case basis as some of the defense cases are more interesting than others, so the overall story flow fluctuates depending on who or what is getting their time in the spotlight.
The one differing aspect from S2’s story this time around is the fact that the show has a set narrative regarding the past and presents of Naruhodo and his friends from the Ayasato clan, which by in large made the show a lot more interesting than should be given credit for since it surprisingly enough ties a number of things together in ways I didn’t think needed to be done, and actually for once engrossed me in the story and the eventual reveal and unveiling of everything since Season 1 was a series that I found either fun or exhausting to watch depending on who was slated to be put in the slammer. Really if it hadn’t been for three cases this time around all revolving around the same cast of characters and painting a full story within the lore of Ace Attorney, I probably wouldn’t have batted much of an eye at the whole thing.
The staying factors of Naruhodo and Mayoi haven’t really changed much beyond the explorations of their characters through their backstories. Since a massive chunk of this season is devoted to focusing on a select few cases that all revolve around the same cast, most of where their characters shine happens here where they’re at the forefront of the topic at hand due to their heavy involvement with the accused, culprits, and witnesses during these trials. It’s a nice change of pace since now Naruhodo has to put aside his personal ties in order to do his job, adding a nice bit of conflict to the usual zany cases that I’m sure would make any self respecting defense attorney want to take up the bottle due to the kinds of clues and convoluted plans these cases entail.
The rest of the recurring cast like the judge and Chief Itono don’t really shift all that much since their roles are primarily comedic fodder that also serves as the legal/civil team that helps with the investigations of these cases. The only major changes here exist in Mitsurugi’s role largely being pushed to the side with only one episode really dedicated to him, and the mysterious prosecutor Godot, who I would really think should be dead after ingesting so much black coffee in such a short amount of time.
As for the side characters who serve as the show’s ‘main attraction’, most if not all come back to be the series’s usual, quirky side cast that does their best at being (usually) hair pullingly annoying with varying mileage on my tolerance towards them depending on the case. Primarily one and done characters where solving the case/convicting the right person finishes their involvement with the series, a few that appear in the middle of the series show up to bring about that overarching narrative that I’ve been mentioning a few times. Strangely enough, the characters involved with THOSE cases feel a lot more like real people rather than oddities of society, making at the very least some of their actions seem plausible and a lot more interesting due to the results of their actions.
With CloverWorks picking up the slack from A-1’s work from Season 1, personally I don’t really see a difference with the artwork. Maybe a little more saturated than the shiny and bright polish that A-1 did when the series was in their hands, but the series largely looks the same, and that’s a lot better than what I was expecting since I usually expect a show that changes hands to boast an equally dramatic shift in art quality as well.
Likewise, the show still did its best to keep the little ‘quirks’ with everyone at the podium, animating replications of all the sprite movements that admittedly were a lot more annoying than I initially remember them being since I’m positive the they were just trying to fill up time with how often they were using them.
Personally I didn’t find much of many of the songs to be much of interest this time. At most I’d probably give Tomohisa Yamashita’s songs “Never Lose” and “Reason” credit for being an interesting pieces to listen to with their more mellow and modern beats, which while somehow really out of place with Ace Attorney, were definitely interesting choices that work well as songs to listen to on their own.
I honestly thought that this season would just be the ‘obligatory’ watching continuation of a series that I decided to watch on a whim and would continue doing so because I typically don’t like leaving series unfinished when there’s more material to watch. And for once I’m glad that I put time into watching it this time around because I had significantly more enjoyment this time around with the series.
While a number of the early cases in the season weren’t really all that stellar, it’s the last few that really made the series feel like it was worth watching beyond the quirky and borderline illegal murder court cases. I’m pretty sure a lot of what’s happening in that court room is a felony in and of itself. The fact that I felt engrossed watching the show when I previously didn’t really bat much of an eye towards Season 1 due to it seeming just average is a monumental improvement over what my expectations had initially put this series at. Man, people were right in saying that last case is their favorite. In context to everything, I can see why.
If you’re an Ace Attorney fan, you’re probably the one I would recommend this series to. While I typically relate the adaptation in closeness to the original source material, I’m not really qualified to say how close it is to the games. But at the very least I can say from the perspective of someone who has no idea what goes on in this series that this was a surprisingly fun series that had my eyes gunning for the next episode despite my apprehensions at the beginning.
10: Darling in the FranXX
English: DARLING in the FRANXX
Japanese: ダーリン イン ザ フランキス
MAL Score: 7.27
In the distant future, humanity has been driven to near-extinction by giant beasts known as Klaxosaurs, forcing the surviving humans to take refuge in massive fortress cities called Plantations. Children raised here are trained to pilot giant mechas known as FranXX—the only weapons known to be effective against the Klaxosaurs—in boy-girl pairs. Bred for the sole purpose of piloting these machines, these children know nothing of the outside world and are only able to prove their existence by defending their race.
Hiro, an aspiring FranXX pilot, has lost his motivation and self-confidence after failing an aptitude test. Skipping out on his class’ graduation ceremony, Hiro retreats to a forest lake, where he encounters a mysterious girl with two horns growing out of her head. She introduces herself by her codename Zero Two, which is known to belong to an infamous FranXX pilot known as the “Partner Killer.” Before Hiro can digest the encounter, the Plantation is rocked by a sudden Klaxosaur attack. Zero Two engages the creature in her FranXX, but it is heavily damaged in the skirmish and crashes near Hiro. Finding her partner dead, Zero Two invites Hiro to pilot the mecha with her, and the duo easily defeats the Klaxosaur in the ensuing fight. With a new partner by his side, Hiro has been given a chance at redemption for his past failures, but at what cost?
The actual story centers around our ten kids who are trying to find their soulmate/significant other/person with whom they share the best body compatibility with. They do this by piloting mecha in the pairs of two and fighting against these things called Klaxowhatever. Klaxosaur, just like everything and anything else, is a reference. If you remove xo from the name, you get the combination of klasa and ur, klasa standing for “class” in polish – and xo obviously meaning hugs and kisses – giving us klaxosaur as: “U R hugs and kisses class.” Same thing can be said about the actual title of this series. Darling in the FranXX basically standing for Darling in the Fran hugs hugs. The whole “two parties fight against each others until one collapses” is initially just a debate over should you remain loyal to your significant other and are hugs truly enough. The robots think it is not enough, and the whole series is basically our characters realizing the same little by little. This is, indeed, the plot of this series. Pretty cool, huh.
There are in total of ten main characters here (in case you forgot what you read 17 seconds ago). By 10 main characters, I mean we have 3 actual characters and the remaining 7 are filler people. The characters are just great. Oni girl is basically a whore who is looking for her prince charming. I musn’t runway guy does the opposite his name suggests. And the third wheel dude and the most potential prince charming… exists. I call this trio The Cuck Squad, by the way. Rest of the “characters” are so much filler I believe the thought process behind creating them was something like: “Hmmm. we need more people here. Let’s see…….. One fat guy? Yes, one fat guy coming in………. girl who wears glasses? …… Oh yes, f**k yes.”
The production is based Trigger. Not exactly as ADHD as Kill la Kill nor a masterpiece from every aspect like Inferno Cop, but at least doesn’t ruin the series like they did with Uchuu Patrol Luluko and Ninja Slayer. The OST could use some Tomatodermewhatever they called the band in KlK, and some tedious German language vocals would be great addition to put in the mix, but otherwise I was pleased to get a confirmation that every Trigger anime from now on will be the exact same thing production wise as all the rest have been.
When it comes to enjoyment, my expectations were very mixed. I heard so much praise and flaming, and after watching it, I have to conclude that this series can be liked and disliked for infinite different reasons. In one way, the series is a clusterfuck, the seasonal shitstorm, the trainwreck and sum of all wagons. This obviously makes it an obligatory watch for every critic so they can hit it with 1/10 and call the worst thing ever because once again you can criticize FranXX for thousand and one things. On the other hand, Darling is often so ridiculous that it can offer enormous entertainment value with ironic viewing. All you need is a sense of humor and some chill. The drama, the cute and comfy stuff and the happy moments will serve those are ready to take them for what they are.
As a final verdict: Critics and the likes can write thousand pages long analysis of all the things that are wrong in this one, people with sense of humor laugh their asses off, and people who approach it with more “casual” and open mindset will enjoy this show for what it is. This series has something for each and everyone. If a series like that is not a masterpiece, then I do not know what is. 10/10.
FranXX was hyped a lot. And that’s just the short of it, it had a huge marketing campaign and had a huge amount of anticipation with people calling it the “Next Evangelion” or a “Spiritual successor to Eva” and so on and so forth. The legendary Yabuki Kentarou was signed on doing the art for the manga adaptation for this unoriginal original and as a matter of fact, that’s how I found out about the show in the first place and went in expecting the amazing show the marketing had me believe. Result? Well I can’t surprise you since you might have seen the score I gave it. Yes. A mess. A terrible mess.
To begin with, the main part that is the reason fans gloss over this show, the characters. They are given little to no backstories and their roles to play are very less. Squad 13 mainly served as a bumbling group of teenagers (hmm… why teenagers in particular?) who don’t know jackshit except for the so called “fact” that they must pilot the mechs known as FranXX and defeat these blue magma lover monsters called Klaxosaurs. Let that seep in. Why children? Most likely because they wanna appeal to the target audience of the show, teenagers. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be as fruitful as A-1 and Trigger thought it would because when you’ve got an idiotic group of teenagers who contribute nothing to character development, I don’t think you end up with teenage viewers going crazy over a show. I mean, yes, teens in real life aren’t always smart, but if given the chance, I’m sure they’d do something sensible when they need to, but we don’t see such a thing at all. Why? All we see is random blushes and such stuff. I mean, these teens are acting like everyday teens, yes, that’s fine but is this the premise to do so? A place where people are bombarded by the constant threat of Klaxosaurs? Kids are supposed to have fun yes, but not when you’re literally guarding human lives from danger.
To move away from the characters for a moment, we move to another problem with the show, its connection. And don’t you dare justify it by telling me it’s an episodic anime, because it sure as hell is not. In reality, it’s just mixed up completely and had too many ideas to implement together and instead of choosing one idea to go with, they probably chose all and excellently failed at all of them. Why? Poor connection. To hold up a plot you need connection, FranXX didn’t offer any of that at all. It just dragged on and didn’t leave any mention of what happened before and most importantly WHY the situation happened before. What could possibly be the reason behind this? Simple. Bad direction. All it takes to destroy the whole hard work of a show is bad direction. In fact, about 90% of the issues with the anime can be traced back to bad direction. If the show had a good director I suppose the show would have a direction to follow, but this being FranXX, it had to follow all the directions it could and then ended up nowhere. In the first episode I had the show at a shocking 9 and if you look at it now it’s fallen pretty spectacularly. This is because of the show’s bad direction; events were unconnected and an irritated yours truly almost smashed his screen onto the floor . Random stuff happening here with no explanation, and then random stuff happening there without explanation, was this anime devoid of sense or something? Because I did not find any of it anywhere. And then we’ve got the problem that follows that the story was unexplained. Why did this happen? Why did that happen? How did this occur? Where did this issue first occur? There were many questions asked by fans, and the answer is that it was clear both studios didn’t want quality, they wanted the $$$ And that’s me trying to be positive, we got zilch as in reality but eh, gotta act positive.
Needless to say, apart from a cliched mess of a story, it’s disappointing in almost every other regard (read on for further explanation), serving as a reminder that it only takes one big mistake to spoil the whole effort put into an anime, or anything for that matter. Speaking of mistakes, we come to another part that had the cosplayers, fan artists and others crazy, the romance— particularly the romance between Zero Two and Hiro. First off, our two MCs. Zero Two was introduced as a waifu like character which immediately took the undeserving “deconstruction” tag which was ripped off from Eva (surprise surprise, FranXX ripped off a show) while giving us another useless MC who went by the self appointed name Hiro. Their romance was unexplained until way later into the series, an episode which even I liked, episode 13. They were largely unexplained for most of the anime’s run and it was only in the first episode of the second cour (episode 13) that tried to remedy this. Result? Thankfully good. Episode 13 was regarded as an excellent episode by even the harshest of critics since it explained a lot of the stuff between Hiro and Zero Two and obviously it was a flashback episode, yet despite being a flashback episode it was done well— surprising since this is FranXX. But the problem came afterwards; after that episode was done, we saw a lot of crap follow it in the form of the team getting “mad” at Zero Two for “hurting” Hiro for over dramatic effect and to make me sympathise with the characters. Why would you drag through 12 episodes just to see the one episode that seemed half decent and it goes back to its shitty formula? I loathed it even more.The episodes were cliched, unconnected messes with absolutely no relevance to the plot, just serving to pass time either to focus on Hiro or to make the fanboys go crazy over the fight scenes, which were nothing more than one hit kills and random dashes.
Moving on from there all we got were cheesy half hearted lines like “I wanna be with you forever” and all that teenage fantasy (severely paraphrased for ease of comprehensive analysis) and pointless romantic moments that don’t have much to do with the plot. Why am I crushing the romance here even though I’m a romance fan? It’s because FranXX deployed this romance at the wrong times, I can’t even say I’m surprised anymore at this kind of problem. Then we go to the other cast, Ichigo is a character that served as a reminder about the stupidity of fanboys since her voice actor Kana Ichinose received death threats just because of her work as Ichigo. Anno would be proud. Ichigo’s character though wasn’t fleshed out (to say nothing of the rest of the cast, especially Ikuno, Zorome and Miku) and her actions were basically “I’m jealous because I love him but can’t reveal it to him because I’m shy” and that time when she DID do it, it was enough to even send non romance fans into a fit because it was done in a (dare I say it?) slutty way cause teenagers? I do not know. Then we come to the signature part which had many people divided as well, Kokoro. To delve into this horrible character we must enter minor spoiler territory so if you can’t handle looking at a good character being turned into a whore please skip the marked spoiler section.
***Skip this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers about this side character and want the relationship as a surprise. Spoilers begin: Kokoro was paired up with Futoshi who liked Kokoro a lot but suffered from the same problem as Ichigo. However, since he’s male the fanboys didn’t take or notice much issue, perhaps also because Futoshi wasn’t made as a cockblocker character and instead was of the “I’ll protect her” than a “I want him to love me instead”, only thing is that Kokoro turned out to “betray” Futoshi and instead go for an unlikely character who was largely ignored throughout the show, Mitsuru. She suddenly developed feelings for him and even kissed him for no concrete reason apart from taking the show into an extremely shitty direction because guess what? She wanted a baby. Why? Freakin’ teenagers… this is the worst way to relate to them. Then Kokoro went from a “I am not in love with Futoshi but he’s a kind person” to an “I want Mitsuru’s @#$_ inside me”. I’m not even joking. This LITERALLY happened. Why am I rambling on about this? Because that’s definitely not how you make a show about teenagers because that’s not at all representative of the majority. Anyway, then they suddenly want to get married (!?) and we see other crap follow as well without explanation or reason, they just wanna fill time at this rate. With what? Throwing in the notion that Kokoro is pregnant later on. Teenage pregnancy, a very common thing in teens nowadays amiright? Wrong. And you know what worse? The fact that the folks at FranXX.inc pulled the WORST cliche to go with this. Both of them are caught and are “brainwashed” and their memories are “stored” somewhere. If VIRM didn’t want to let them regain their memories then why store them in the first place? Why not “delete” them into oblivion? Plot armour I say. Convenience too… this makes many viewers realise that the episode was just existing to pass time and fool the viewers into thinking their time into the episode was worth it? Spoiler end***
This brings us on to the next point, underused characters. Namely Miku, Zorome and Ikuno. Not to mention Goro but he got a little bit of a focus so I’ll give him a brief look later. Miku and Zorome were shown as characters who had a rivalry-love which seemed fresh and interesting but that was pulled down along with the anime because they didn’t focus on these two at all. What made them attracted to each other? Why are they paired up together? These questions were never answered and I was left hanging, which was disappointing since Miku apart from sharing the same hairstyle as the superstar with the same name (my profile picture character to those of you non-Vocaloid fans) she was one of the few characters who was believable as a teenager. Many people wouldn’t notice that these two weren’t given enough focus and that was sad because this fresh idea could be explored a lot more and I wouldn’t be surprised if I found their rivalry-love better than the two main characters, and don’t forget, I liked Miku as a character as well.
Leaving us with the last two, Ikuno and Goro. Ikuno was mainly used as fodder for Mitsuru to frown upon so that he could get hooked to the resident slut Kokoro (I don’t think I should call her that because she didn’t like Futoshi but considered him kind but then I’m disappointed because like Miku, I liked Kokoro, only that love turned to hate since FranXX ruined her) and Ikuno was ignored for the rest of the anime, she wasn’t given lines and that one “I want a baby” episode scene where she DID say something, it wasn’t explained WHY she stepped forward and did her act. My guess is because since she didn’t have any lines, the show didn’t want to make her look like a dumbass so they forcefully gave her lines and that was all. Then we enter spoiler territory yet again because Ikuno was given that small 5 minute focus in a later episode.
***Minor Spoiler Begin: Since Ikuno wasn’t given a love interest the folks at FranXX.inc thought it’s a good idea to introduce some Yuri at the worst possible time and in the worst possible way, as such, the result was never spoken of again, which pretty much explains how the “affair” went. Needless to say, this was a last ditch effort to save her character and it served as the final nail in the coffin for Ikuno. Minor Spoiler End***
We then come to the last character, Goro. Apart from being mildly explored, he served as the third wheel-ish character who was later shown as being in love with Ichigo unsurprisingly, unfortunately he as mentioned wasn’t explored much and so was thrown into the sidelines to focus on our main characters, yet another character thrown aside who had a lot of potential to do great things in this mess of an anime. I haven’t spoken of any “villains” yet, as this important role was destroyed by the Iotas, who were, like every other thing in the anime, unexplained, unwanted and irrelevant. They served as somewhat of a “backstory” to Zero Two despite not going into detail at all.
As mentioned above there was no proper backstory to Squad 13. Some people said it’s because sci-fi shows “don’t need backstories”. This is plain wrong because if you don’t have backstories of your character, there won’t be any depth to them (see the word depth again and imagine, if there’s no backstory, there’s no depth, which means the characters are shallow) and when the characters simply don’t develop at all during the course of the anime, you end up with flat characters who fall on their face to the plot. Why am I saying this? Hiro and the others didn’t change at all mentally from the first episode to the last. Some might say Hiro’s infatuation with 02 makes him a “developed character” but his rejection of his other members in Squad 13 proves that wrong. Others say that “characterisation is excused in a sci-fi anime”. At first it seemed as a joke to me but when people seriously started talking about this as a defense I got concerned and felt I needed to clarify this. Take arguably the best sci-fi show as an example to that statement: Steins;Gate. It definitely has development throughout the series. How? Okabe starts to realise he can’t do anything, and tries even harder, Makise realises she can’t do things alone, Mayuri does more tuturus because people around her are sad, or to move from the joke, Mayuri realises that she needs Okabe and he needs her, this is what development in a sci-fi is. FranXX, on the other hand, didn’t have any development to the show, its characters, or anything. It felt more like characters felt less real each time they appeared, and I’m not talking about them being realistic and human-like since that’s not what an anime’s main target is everytime, I’m talking about them being acceptable as a character which wasn’t at all seen. No characterisation is only excused in slice of life anime since we’re understandably looking at the lives of the characters and so there’s no plot and therefore no development. FranXX isn’t a slice of life, it’s (terribly weak) progression proved that.
Moving back to the MC of our wonderful series, Hiro. I hadn’t given him enough attention and will do so now. From the start he was unexplained. Why was he a prodigy? What was he doing before meeting Zero Two? What made him so special? To stand out from the rest of the cast, you need distinctive qualities that set you apart from other characters, Hiro had none of that. He was plain and boring. Many may point out that him being in love with 02 would mean that it makes him different from other MCs but that’s wrong because apart from his “love” for 02, nothing else was brought into his character. Although towards the end it was shown that he had become selfish and cared about 02 more than his squad who cared about him, it still isn’t the kind of development that makes you go “Oh, that changed my view of him positively” and if you read that line again you’ll probably understand why too. Then we come to the point that he named everyone else, which was revealed early on. This surprisingly is a good thing I saw. He named Ichigo and named other parasites as well which gave it a child-like feeling (perhaps the only successful child-like/teenage feeling that was executed properly throughout the anime, bear in mind this flashback was 2 minutes long) although it wasn’t explained at all I still felt an iota of warmth. And nothing else I suppose.
Going back to the other “villains”, the Iotas. Since they came in at random times and with random half baked reasons, unsurprisingly they served as yet another thing that was meant to be loathed in the anime. Another irritating thing is how they suddenly became buddy-buddy with Hiro and team in the final arc. I suppose now that FranXX has exhausted whatever little “creativity” they had, they wanted to end with a shounen-esque “everyone bands together to fight the enemy”? I mean, not complaining about the trope but was there any sensible stuff going on beforehand? Speaking of insane stuff going on beforehand, FranXX was said to have been in a post apocalyptic world all of a sudden which we were given hints of in the beach episode for about 20 seconds and then later shown in “detail” (I don’t even know why I’m so generously awarding that word when it’s meaning wasn’t followed at all) in episode 19, which to FranXX’s favour, was a decent episode. But until then for the first 18 episodes, it remained largely unexplained and I don’t think I can award a show a point for revealing something so important when it’s finished about 80% of it’s run. Not a good practice and it returns more harm than good which by now is definitely not what I need to calm myself down. Oh youth. But then wait! Youth reminds me that I should yet again cover another important part about the “juvenile” aspect of this show.
Spoiler Paragraph (or Spoiler-graph) for the final arc below. Skip this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers for the final arc. If you’re okay with them, then please continue 🙂
***Spoiler for last arc begin: The most frustrating part of FranXX is by far the last arc. After pointless teenage melodrama, the FranXX team thought of what “ideas” can be added to “save” the anime and they did what every laughable show tries to do as a last ditch effort. To take the battle into (wait for it) SPAAAAAACEEEEEE. Yes. FranXX pulled THAT trope. What an insult to Star Wars and Star Trek. Anyway back to this show, the sudden shift in tones (first a teenage melodrama, then a clone war, then a space war? Is this a tutorial on how NOT to make Star Wars ripoffs?) and extremely convenient and unexplained reveals (more on that in a bit) coming out of nowhere? I don’t think that makes for a coherent plot at all. Add to that another desperate added shounen trope where the enemy suddenly becomes your friend??? And he sacrifices his life for you just a while after you rescue him??? The Klaxosaur Princess was set as the antagonist at around the third quarter of the show and she suddenly joined Hiro’s side and sacrificed her life for him? What happened to her people, the Klaxosaurs? What happened to saving the world? And then suddenly VIRM puts themselves as the villains despite the show trying to establish the Klaxosaurs as the villains and then the aforementioned Klaxosaur Princess as an antagonist? And then their boss is a Power Rangers ripoff??? What even was that last arc?! The industry can do without more Dadolf Scmitlers you know! We’ve seen enough of this trope! Like when they’re losing Papa and the others suddenly give the order to destroy Earth? Nanja sorya??? And then if you thought all this stupidity wasn’t enough, we suddenly see YET ANOTHER problem with the show surface, Plot armour. If I hadn’t explained this before, FranXX suffered from yet another plot hole in the form of plot armour. The Iotas lost a few of their members but Hiro and team were left unscathed, the only “injury” being Ikuno’s hair being turned white… Throughout the course of the show Squad 13 was met with life or death situations but I was confused since no one died. It can’t be a life or death situation if everyone survives, or at least when you have so many life or death situations and no one dies even once I think that’s authentically bullshit. Why fill it to the brim with Deus Ex Machina crap then? In the last 3 episodes we saw Hiro and team suddenly band together and go to space, but then the pathetic dialogue in the previous episodes of the anime became even worse, when they’re in space they’re going “We’re really in space huh?” And Mitsuru’s reason for staying being “I wanna stay because I want to”? Even the dialogues took a huge hit and fell even further… Add to that the pointless Mobile Suit Gundam I ripoff battle except FranXX’s was much worse because everyone survived??? Not to mention Zero Two eating Hiro through her teleport to Hiro fro Earth directly in front of Hiro and she eats him and takes him to the dream world only to play hard to get? If you’re not understanding at all then you have common sense, because no sensible person could understand WHAT happened and WHY. Let’s not add to that horrible reasons to horrible dialogues such as bringing up love when your Squadmate is suffering? And then Hiro and Zero Two immediately go leave the Solar System and the others can’t tag along because “it’s not possible”? This is the limit of cliches but the studios broke it long long ago. And I want to skip over that last episode since that was the only (remotely) decent (?) part of this arc, but the means done to achieve it wasn’t and I spoke enough on that… Spoiler end***
FranXX tries to show us that adults are somewhat tyrants and displays the children’s “struggle” to gaining “independence” even though they’re perfectly fine with their lives with no issues. But you know what they say, if you’ve got no issues, you make them, and that’s EXACTLY what FranXX stayed true to. Trying to show us that our teenage cast is “growing” by acting “mature” with examples as “ wanting to have babies” and “doing the kitty” (don’t search up on that last one) both of which are related and were attempted by Kokoro and Mitsuru. Yet again you ask. Why? I do not know why the show did it. You can’t even tell anymore who they’re trying to make the show relatable for. Then we have to look at the teenage drama as well that follows (that I covered above).
Spoiler Paragraph (or Spoiler-graph) about a range of questions on things that were unanswered throughout the course of the anime below. Skip this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers on these questions. If you’re okay with them, then as expected, read on.
***Spoiler questions begin: FranXX as mentioned tried very very hard to be edgy by leaving out some so-called “mystery” feel by not answering the most crucial questions many had throughout the course of the anime. Although episode 13 answered the questions many people had in the first half, there was no such plausible explanation for the second half’s stupidity. What makes me say that? We got weak explanations or no explanations. For example why was the enemy VIRM all along? What was their purpose? Why does Hiro not care about the rest of Squad 13 who he’s lived with all his life and why is he so attached to Zero Two despite the above problem? Why are the problems for the characters happening? Who is to blame and why? Despite this being answered (VIRM) there was no proper explanation as to WHY the villains did it? What was their purpose? Why is Ichigo the leader of the group? Why is 02 not explained properly? How does she looks human and how did it happen (also why does she have pink hair when she was a clone of one with white or blue hair)? How are the rejected people treated? What happens to them? What about their memories? Although their memories as mentioned were stored in some place there’s no explanation as to why they’re stored. Why am I asking that question? When VIRM doesn’t want their puppets to regain their memory, why store their memory? And how is the memory stored anyway? Why are teens chosen to pilot the FranXX? Don’t tell me it’s because their sex organs are most prominent because the teenage years is not the age when this is so. Why are pregnant girls not able to pilot the FranXX? How did the Iotas suddenly be able to join Hiro in the last arc? Weren’t they broken or something? Why do Hiro’s group care and still chase Hiro despite him having rejected them for his “one true love” Zero Two? What was the bullcrap about them going to space and space being the important stuff? Like, what was that cop out explanation about VIRM and the enemies being the aliens? Who and what was the Klaxosaur Princess? Who were the Klaxosaurs? No detailed explanations were given. To cover the villains one last time, VIRM. We look again at the Dadolf Scmitler trope that FranXX.inc deployed. To viewers of Grancrest Senki who aren’t familiar with the Dadolf Scmitler trope, VIRM is basically the Mage Academy, for the first 20 Episodes we were focused on only one villain but suddenly that villain changes in around the 20th episode and they tell us the real villains were someone else all along? (Surprising how both shows deploy the same cliche in the same episode number. Coincidence? I think not), Why is this bad? This is bad because it makes the viewer question if the time they spent on the first 20 episodes even worth it. I mean, if you really HAD to do this, why do it so late? And instead, why not just make an OVA of the last 6-8 episodes and treat it as the same thing? I’m sure it would get a higher score from me and other disgruntled people if they did this instead because our time was wasted… Spoiler questions end***
With all that’s said, eagle eyed readers might have noticed that I haven’t trashed the art or the music. That’s because it isn’t shit. And continue to find out. Since it was a collaboration project with A-1 and Trigger (and later Cloverworks because budget issues?) many expected the art to look amazing and it did actually. They tried to make a world that looked beautiful and mostly succeeded in doing that but you can’t award points to a show for “looking good” as with what the “mainstream” gaming critics like IGN often do (“CoD a 9/10 because it looks good?” Have you even seen what they’re doing now ripping off Fortnite?) so though the art looked good thanks to the colourful backgrounds and eye-catching scenery from time to time, it was in vain as the show couldn’t manage to utilise it well into its plot. Another thing that the show did good was the sound. Even though I’ve been (rightfully) trashing the show left and right, I have to give credit where it’s due, FranXX’s usage of synth tracks are rarely seen in anime and obviously serve for something really good in terms of listening especially when you’re using headphones (and not streaming the show). Then we move onto the OP/EDs selection, I felt that the show went lazy and just changed the OP a bit and passed it off as an OP 2, but the EDs were great. If only FranXX used those EDs more in the second half and don’t abruptly end the episode I’d have a positive opinion of the show. But I’m guilty of singing “Torikago” from the show so gotta give a point to that I guess? But oh wait, they underused all the EDs anyway.
Overall, FranXX is a mess which was over hyped and tried it’s best to stay relevant by throwing in useless storylines all of which were riddled by plot holes and Deus ex machinas which were unconnected and not to mention completely unrelated events and random crap here and there (from teenage drama to Star Wars to Power Rangers? MASAKA???), to remain positive, towards the end, I only ever found the two caretakers Hachi and Nana (especially Nana) interesting and likeable since they had an aura of mystery and the 30 seconds they appeared in their few episodes were all great. Miku and Goro too were characters I pretty much liked but weren’t explored well since they were thrown aside for Hiro and Zero Two unfortunately. If the show had good direction, I’m sure it would have turned out to be one of my favourite anime of all time and for many other disillusioned fans-turned-critics as well. FranXX sadly will always serve as a reminder to how one big mistake in the form of bad directing can jeopardize the whole premise of a show.
Special thanks to TheCobraSlayer for proof-reading the review.
A coming of age story where 10 teenagers fight to both protect their homes and their bonds of friendship and comradeship as they fight in a war where the truth may not be what it seems.
Based off an original idea and concept Darling in the Franxx is a science fiction, mecha and romantic genre anime that also features elements of drama within it. Taking place in a futuristic setting that’s rarely seen within animes Darling in the Franxx gives us the opportunity to see the kind of life that the members of squad 13 a squad of teenage pilot’s experience as they become the newest defenders of their plantation and the kind of problems both personal and professional that they encounter as they enter a world that is fraught with danger where the threat to them and to the human race is not always what it seems. The first episode of the series made a pretty good impression on me and did a great job of hooking me as I become curious not just on the setting but also on the relationship that is forged between Zero Two and Hiro as well as how the squad would change as they enter the life that they had been training so hard to prepare for. Looking back, I’m glad that I decided to stick with the series right to the end as it was a series that I really enjoyed watching.
Taking place in a futuristic setting where the planet Earth has been devastated by humanity’s relentless mining of the planets key resource of magma humanity has now been reduced to a mere handful whose remnants are forced to live in large mobile fortress cities called plantations. Within these plantations while the adults live in the cities within specially trained and created children called parasites are raised and housed together in isolated home areas where they learn to bond and befriend their fellow parasites and learn the finer points of achieving their dream of becoming a part of the plantations defence force as a pilot that pilots one of the plantations valuable mecha the franxx. The bonds and friendships that are forged between the parasites, however, are more than one can expect them to be however as they are something that is vital for the operation of the franxx and to the life that all children within the plantations hope to achieve with their lives. Each franxx is piloted by a paring of parasites that consist of a female parasite a pistil and male parasite a stamen where alongside their mastery of the franxx’s controls they also have one more weapon in their arsenal which is the shared bond with one another that allows the two to synchronise their thoughts and feelings and use this bond as a weapon in the war against the Klaxosaurs a hostile alien race that seems bent on humanity’s destruction.
The overall story follows the character of Hiro also known as code 016 and the members of squad 13 a squad of parasites that had been created and housed in their home of plantation 13 as they train and prepare themselves for their eventual task of taking up the duty of becoming a franxx pilot and a defender of their plantation as they join the war effort against the humanity’s enemy the monstrous and horrifying Klaxosaur species. As the time draws near and the members of squad 13 begin to work even harder to become ready Hiro encounters a slump that causes him to lose hope and strain his relationship with the members of his squad. But in his moment of despair, Hiro encounters Zero Two a half human and half Klax pilot and a member of APE’s elite Nine’s spec ops unit. Though a girl of ill repute and possessing a sinister reputation and nickname of partner killer Hiro and Zero Two soon forged a bond after an attack on the plantation forced them to fight together to repel it. A bond that will be tested as Hiro, Zero and the members of squad 13 after graduation must come to terms with as they witness the brutal nature of fighting against the klax on the frontlines while at the same time reminding them that they need to get stronger and forge stronger bonds and friendships with one other if they want to protect their friends and home.
But as the war continues and the squad and their allies are confronted with sinister revelations the reasons for the war and the true aims of APE and their leader Papa become more clouded but one things for certain. The bonds of friendship, understanding, and romance that has been forged between Hiro, Zero and the members of squad 13 are not an illusion and even when pressed to the limit they will use these strong bonds to protect each other, their home and their fellow parasites and allies from all dangers whether from within or without. Joining Hiro and Zero Two in this endeavour are a host of allies that include the members of his fellow parasites in squad 13 which includes the Kind and level-headed Ichigo, the loyal and calm Goro, the perceptive and intelligent Kokoro, the proud but surprisingly stubborn Miku, the overconfident but surprisingly understanding Zorome, the calm and logical Ikuno , the arrogant but surprisingly fragile Mitsuru and the squads mentor and guardian the kind and caring Nana who wrestles daily with her duty to her superiors and her duty to the children. Together Hiro and his friends and allies would fight to protect their friends, allies and their home from all enemies and in the process grow not just as franxx pilots but also as human beings as they learn to forge a life for themselves and for the first time in their lives control their own destiny.
Hiro played by veteran voice actor Yuuto Uemura of Bungou Stray Dogs fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main protagonist of the series. At the beginning of the series, Hiro is a trainee parasite that along with the members of squad 13 are preparing for their accent to full parasite status. At the beginning of the series, Hiro was a quiet and composed person that seemingly preferred to remain apart from his fellow squad members. He was also noted to be of low self-esteem due to the fact that unlike the rest of his squad his abilities to syn with his assigned partner and thus be able to pilot a franxx had seemingly vanished from his body. This shock of losing his much-prized ability as well as being labelled as the failed prodigy by others caused Hiro to go into a state of depression as too him being to unable to pilot a franxx means that he’s little more than useless baggage to not just the squad but also to the plantation. However, this feeling of depression within Hiro gradually disappears after he encounters a strange human girl that had horns during one of his many walks in the nearby park an encounter that provided the perfect catalyst to awaken Hiro from the doubts and depression that had been making his life difficult.
After meeting Zero Two and successfully becoming her partner Hiro’s personality gradually begins to change as a result of not just meeting Zero Two but also fulfilling his own dream of becoming a franxx pilot. While still quiet and composed it can be seen that after his awakening Hiro has become more confident and determined and willing to help his squad mates when needed. While not shown often in his initial self but more so in his awakened self, it can be seen that Hiro is an intelligent, kind and calm person that prefers to be logical and think things through before committing to them. However, despite his composed nature, it can be seen that Hiro can also lose it pretty easily especially when confronted with unexpected situations. As a result of his new-found confidence and his willingness to help his friends Hiro rather than stay apart from his friends instead starts bonding with them and expresses regret that his past actions have worried them greatly. A key aspect of this process was the development within Hiro of a desire to forgive his friends for the many comments and doubts that they had subjected him to an aspect that I felt matched this development nicely. At the beginning of the series, Hiro was noted to be a firm believer in the belief that a parasite that cannot pilot a franxx was nothing more than trash for the plantation which was a key reason for Hiro’s depression at the beginning of the series. However, as the series goes on and Hiro and his squad mates forge stronger bonds of friendship as they fight alongside each other this belief of Hiro gradually changes and is replaced by a desire to value his friends and the bonds that exist between them more.
This is shown in Hiro’s gradual realisation that there is more to a parasite’s life than piloting a franxx and that having fun with friends, learning about them and spending time with them to overcome problems together is also part of a parasites life as well a development that I felt shows just how much Hiro’s personality has changed since his awakening. As a result of this while still retaining his core desire to protect the plantation as a franxx pilot Hiro also developed a desire to fight to live and have fun with his friends rather than simply fight because he had to as part of his duty as a franxx pilot. While Hiro’s desire to have fun with his friends and enjoy life by being with them were important another change that emerged within Hiro was a desire to find the truth that within the series was paired with the desire to be independent and be able to pursue their own destiny. This change can be said to be a development borne from Hiro’s new-found bonds with his friends and his desire to preserve them in the face of increasingly risky missions that were ordered by his superiors. This development I felt was surprising and was another indication of just how much Hiro has changed as a person and character. The character of Hiro I felt was an interesting character that was both well designed and developed as the series went on. The change from a depressive and quiet person who ignored all of his friends attempts to help him to someone that was both willing to help others solve their problems as well as forgive those that had no faith in him I felt was a great development of his character when combined with his new-found outlook on what a life should be. I felt that his voice actor Yuuto Uemura did an excellent job of portraying the character of Hiro.
Zero Two voiced by veteran seiyuu singer Haruka Tomatsu of SAO and Anohana fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main heroine of the series. A klax human hybrid that was specially created by the members of APE Zero Two outwardly had the appearance of a beautiful young girl with long pink hair and a peculiar headband that had horns on it and if one did not look closely most people would believe that she was human. At the beginning of the series, Zero Two was someone that behaved very similarly to a girl of her age being positive, innocent and playful while also possessing a strong sense of confidence and a certain streak of independence that quickly got her labelled as a problem child by her minders. While seemingly someone that preferred to act in the moment it can be seen that Zero Two was also someone that was perceptive and understanding at times which I felt was a nice contrast to her childish and wilful nature. Despite her seemingly stand-off nature Zero Two was someone that can be surprisingly kind to people that she respects and even willing to break the rules to aid them if it means that she can help them. At the beginning of the series largely due to her experiences with her watchers Zero Two had a very poor impression of humans and of life in general and as a result, she had a very low opinion of her fellow franxx pilots as well as that of the civilians that lived within the plantations. Combined with Zero Two’s sensitivity to comments and ill-will being displayed towards her this had the effect of making it very difficult for others to get to know her causing them to distrust or even fear her and thus creating even more distance between Zero Two and her teammates and allies. This relationship with her fellow teammates and allies remained unchanged until Zero encounters a young boy her age that drew her interest in him because he was able to do something that very few Stamen could manage which was to ride with her and survive.
After meeting Hiro and forging a bond with him as her new partner Zero Two’s personality gradually starts to change as for the first time in her life she has found someone that treats her with genuine kindness. Though still guarded to a degree it can be seen that after meeting Hiro and forging a deep bond with him that for the first time in Zero Two’s life she is happy as she is able to show her affections for Hiro who she sees as her darling openly without needing to hide it from her watchers. Indeed, it can be said that her affection for Hiro is strong enough that no matter who tries to stand in her way she will still persevere in treating Hiro as such. However, despite the happiness that Zero Two felt at this point as the series goes on it can be seen that beneath the surface Zero Two also struggles with the unique curse that exists within her a curse that has the effect of creating sudden mood swings within her that if left unchecked would cause her to display anger towards not her beloved but also to her allies as well. During this phase of her development as a result of giving in to the anger that she feels towards her creators and the life that they have given her Zero Two suppresses the feelings of love that she feels towards Hiro and replaces it with a desire to get stronger by fighting harder on the field and thus increasing the strain placed on her partner all in a desire to achieve her dream. After being snapped out of this reckless action however and after seeing what this has wrought upon her beloved it can be seen that Zero Two displays immense regret at her actions regrets that later served as the catalyst to forge an even stronger bond with her beloved darling and one that finally gave a sense of security for the worries and fears that Zero Two had within her.
After this and as a result of the change that was imparted within Zero Two by the stronger bonds that had been forged between the two Zero Two’s personality changes into her final form. Unlike her past self in which Zero Two showed nothing but disdain towards her fellow squad mates and cared little about friendships and bonds in this form Zero Two can be seen to have finally realised the importance of friendships and bonds and as a result becomes not just friendlier but also more willing to help them solve problems that are bothering them. At the same time Zero Two also becomes somewhat more rule-bound which when compared to how wild and unpredictable her personality was in the past I felt was a great change. Arguably one of the most important developments of this new change was the realization that her constant desire to become more human in the past was misguided and that being a human is not about transforming yourself to match them physically but rather its about living your life like them by forging friendships, finding love and enjoying the time that you spend with your friends as you walk the road that is called life. As a result of this new understanding Zero Two rather than having a bleak outlook of what her life and her future would be like instead see’s both in a new light one that is filled with both hope and wishes. The character of Zero Two I felt was an interesting character that was both well designed and developed. The development of her character from a mysterious, innocent but anti-social girl to one that was both friendly and understanding of others and yet playful and hopeful towards the future as a result of her new-found bonds I felt was really well done. The core concept and main focus for Zero Two which was her determined attempts to become human I felt was one that matched her character and personality perfectly and I felt that her struggles to achieve that goal was shown really well within the series. More than ever I was really glad that Zero Two was able to come to the realization that at the end of the day it’s the bonds with your friends and how you live your life that defines whether you are human or not and not physical appearance. I felt that her seiyuu Haruka Tomatsu really did an excellent job at portraying the character of Zero Two.
Ichigo voiced by new seiyuu Kana Ichinose in her first main role to date is one of the main characters of the series and is a member of the series main squad s13. A teenage girl that ’s the same age as Hiro and the members of her class squad and its commander Ichigo is a kind, caring and cheerful person by nature that approaches each situation with calmness and logic. A perceptive and understanding person by nature Ichigo is someone that can be said to be the very ideal image of a leader as in addition to possessing the after-mentioned personality traits Ichigo is also someone that’s responsible and always working to ensure that her squad mates and friends are fulfilling their duties as parasites to the city and that their actions are not causing trouble for their superiors. While this sense of responsibility was seen to cause tension between Ichigo and the more independent-minded members of her squad such as Miku and her partner Zorome it can be seen that Ichigo is someone that cares deeply about the unity of the squad and as a result dislikes it when this sense of balance within the squad is disrupted such as when Zero Two was inserted into her squad. While for the most part Ichigo is a serious-minded person that works hard to ensure the squad remains united and functional it can be seen that Ichigo also has a more childish and innocent side to her that is more prevalent when she’s interacting with her fellow squad mate and friend Hiro that was borne out of the happy childhood that both shared when they were children. This contrast with her serious-minded self I thought was pretty cute. From the beginning of the series it can be seen that Ichigo’s job of being the leader of the squad was a hard one and was a constant uphill battle as she had to deal with the many personalities that existed within the squad chiefly the independent personalities that Zorome and Miku had which caused them to dislike her as they saw her as too bossy and controlling. At the same time, Ichigo was also constrained by her own feelings towards Hiro which often clouded her judgement and kept her from seeing the larger picture and goals of a mission. Judgement flaws that led to a precarious situation that almost proved the end for the squad.
As the series goes, however, Ichigo’s personality and character begins to change as a result of not just dangerous missions but also of the increasingly brutal nature of the war that she and the squad bore witness to as it progressed. As a result of the guilt that she felt at freezing at a critical moment Ichigo becomes more determined vowing to become stronger so that she can protect her squad mates better and not rely on others to help her in a job that she was supposed to excel at. This strong desire to improve herself and not only to rely on others but also protect them soon bore fruit as the battles within the war turned even more brutal. In the past Ichigo while an efficient battle leader was someone that can be seen to rely too much on instructions from command and often let that dictate her actions on the field. At the same time, her cautious nature and her care for the members of the squad while welcome also hindered her as it made her rather inflexible on the field and not willing to trust her squad members for more serious objectives. As part of the lessons that she learned from the mine mission Ichigo becomes not just braver and more determined in battle but also more flexible with her thinking and developing the ability to make rational decisions in the midst of combat which is shown in the later battles within the series where she’s able to react to new situations and come up with new tactics to deal with new developments on the field without having to consult higher command. At the same time while not completely letting the members of her squad perform their own actions on the field Ichigo also becomes more mindful of her own performance as a franxx pilot and instead of worrying about the antics that the squad gets involved in instead makes the decision to care less about their antics and trusting them to make responsible decisions on their own initiative. This development is a good indication of the lessons that Ichigo has managed to learn as a result of the often-strained relations that she has with her squad mates and also from her interactions with Zero Two. The character of Ichigo I felt was an interesting character that was both well designed and developed as the series went on. The evolution of Ichigo from an overly cautious, inflexible and somewhat controlling person to one that was more open-minded, trusting and more flexible in both her actions on the field as a battle leader and her interactions with her fellow squad mates and fellow parasites I felt was well done and ensured that among the cast Ichigo alongside Zero Two and Hiro remains one of my favourite characters within the series. I felt that her seiyuu Kana Ichinose really did an excellent job in portraying the character of Ichigo and given her performance I feel that her performance has already been noted by many of her seniors within the industry.
Goro voiced by veteran voice actor Yuuichirou Umehara of Amanchu and Juni Taisen fame is one of the main characters of the series and is a member of the series main squad s13. A teenage male that’s the same age as the other members of the squad Goro on first appearance can be seen to have an attitude and aura of that of an older brother like character itself a rarity within the anime world. A kind, easy-going and caring person by nature Goro is someone that can be said to be the voice of reason within the squad. While not as bossy and as responsible as his partner and commander Ichigo Goro is still someone that cares deeply about the members of his squad and works hard to keep the peace in it taking great care to stop the arguments between Ichigo and Miku and Zorome from getting out of hand. An understanding person by nature Goro can be seen to be someone that’s moderate in temperament and indeed is someone that prefers to listen to all sides of an opinion or argument first before deciding on a course of action. As a result of this side of his personality, Goro handily fulfils the role as a deputy leader in an unofficial capacity within the squad.
Like the other members of the squad, Goro was wary of Zero Two’s appearance and her subsequent insertion into the squad. However, unlike the likes of Ichigo who disliked Zero Two due to personal reasons Goro was wary of her because he wanted to protect the members of the squad from harm and to stop the unity that his partner had worked so hard to create within the squad from breaking. While distrustful of Zero Two in the beginning like the other members of the squad as the series went on Goro like the rest of the squad was able to bear witness to how the actions of Zero Two have affected his childhood and also best friend Hiro and introduced within him a great many changes that enabled Hiro to become a better person and regain the confidence that he had in the past. As a result of this it can be seen that Goro feels that he owes Zero Two a great deal and having seen the interactions between Hiro and Zero Two knows full well that the two are meant to be together despite Ichigo’s fierce denial of it and as a result had no problem with giving the two the opportunity they needed even if such a decision made him oppose Ichigo on a matter that was personal to her. While the members of the squad like all parasites were created and trained at the facility known as the garden it can be said that Goro, Ichigo, and Hiro have deeper bonds with each other than most members of the squad. This is due to the fact that unlike the rest of the squad the three of them knew each other and it can be said that all three are childhood friends. As a result of this strong bond, Goro can with a certain level of success be able to determine whether any of his two friends are hiding something that is bothering them. Arguably Goro’s most prominent trait is his loyalty to not just the mission and to the city but also to his friends as well. Indeed, it can be said that his loyalty to his friends is so strong that he will be willing to put their safety above that of his. This attitude I felt was admirable and matched well with his character. The character of Goro I felt was an interesting character that was both well designed and developed with his loyalty and good-natured and easy-going attitude with his friends and comrades being the best aspects of his character. In addition, I felt that the balance that Goro’s personality traits provided to the squad was also something that was welcome as it helped preserve the unity and chemistry dynamics of the squad. I felt that his voice actor Yuuichirou Umehara did a great job at portraying the character of Goro.
Kokoro voiced by veteran seiyuu singer Saori Hayami of Owari no Seraph and the Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei fame is one of the main characters of the series and is a member of squad 13 the series main squad. A teenage girl with a very well-endowed body for her age Kokoro on initial appearances has the aura and the impression of a classic Madonna a character type best described as the ideal girl in the eyes of males. A quiet, kind and caring person by nature Kokoro at the beginning of the series was someone that seemingly preferred to not speak much preferring to instead listen to the concerns and problems that the other members of the squad are facing in their lives. However, while a quiet person by nature Kokoro was not afraid of offering her own opinions to a discussion opinion’s that can be surprisingly observant and rational often considering variables that the others have not thought off showing that beneath her quiet nature Kokoro was also someone that was perceptive and intelligent. Despite her quiet nature, Kokoro is not someone that is unapproachable and indeed is the opposite in that she is someone that most people find easy to approach which allows her to listen to their problems without interrupting them and providing them much needed advice when needed which shows off her understanding nature. At the beginning of the series, Kokoro was noted to be someone that was rather indecisive in her actions and can be seen to lack the courage to fight on the field when compared to the likes of Zorome. This attitude while certainly understandable also made her stand out somewhat when compared to the rest of the squad. While not intentionally avoiding the members of the squad Kokoro is shown to be someone that prefers solitude and in this case, she took on a skill that I thought matched her temperament perfectly which was that of gardening. When surrounded by the plants that she cares for it can be seen that Kokoro is truly at peace as she is able to express her worries and doubts about events without having to worry about comments from others.
As the series goes on and Kokoro and the squad begin to fight in more fiercer battles as the war with the klax progressed Kokoro’s personality gradually gets expanded upon. In the beginning of the series as noted Kokoro was someone that got scared easily and was visibly hesitant in combat but as the series went on and Kokoro began to see and understand the important role that parasites play in the defence of the city this sense of fear and hesitation gradually begins to vanish being replaced by a desire to become braver and more responsible so that she can protect the friends that she so cherishes. In line with this is Kokoro’s gradual overcoming of her quiet and nervous nature which is shown in her willingness to not just express her own opinions on matters face to face but also be assertive with them instead of feeling pressured to change them like she did in the past. As a result of her new-found confidence, Kokoro rather than stay on the sidelines and get the gist of arguments this way instead decides to interact with her friends more and listen to their problems directly where her perception and understanding skills allow her to provide better advice to them than before. From the beginning of the series, Kokoro was noted to be someone that was far from being just a beautiful girl as she possessed both intelligence and an innate sense of curiosity to explore knowledge that they haven’t been taught. As a result of her new-found confidence, this sense of curiosity was only increased and eventually causing her to begin to ask questions about the past human’s something that APE specifically forbids and causing Kokoro to be the first member of the squad to change and setting the stage for the rest of the squad to follow suit. A notable result of this change was the development within Kokoro of a desire to live a life that Is not that of a franxx pilot and one where she can freely create a happy life of her own and bring something back into this war-torn world to create a future where she can be happy. The character of Kokoro I felt was an interesting character that was both well designed and developed with her development from a quiet, nervous and easily scared person to one that was both brave enough and determined enough to fight on the frontlines to protect her friends but at the same time brave enough to ask the questions that nobody before had the opportunity to ask papa and for the first time create the break within papa’s wall that would awaken within the squad a desire to be free. I felt that her seiyuu Saori Hayami really did an excellent job at portraying the character of Kokoro.
Mitsuru voiced by new voice actor Aoi Ichikawa is one of the main characters of the series and is a member of s13. At the beginning of the series, Mitsuru had the aura and the air of an honor student though, in this case, the arrogant kind that forms grudges easily. A teenage boy that’s around the same age as the rest of the squad Mitsuru at the beginning of the series was a quiet but arrogant and condescending person that seemed to treat the other members of the squad with disdain bordering on being on anti-social. Indeed, it can be said that in the beginning Mitsuru was someone that viewed friendships and bonds with disdain and as a result did not enjoy a good relationship with the rest of the squad. This had the effect of making the squad dislike him and also feel sorry for his partner Ikuno who had to shoulder the burden of cleaning up his messes when he argues with the members of the squad. Apart from being arrogant and borderline anti-social Mitsuru in the beginning was shown to be someone that preferred to act when under orders from his superiors similar to how Ichigo was before her change and here it can be seen that this is due to the fact that Mitsuru doesn’t want to worry about anything else that might cause his perfect record to slip. During this first phase of his personality, Mitsuru is noted to have a sense of rivalry with the members of the squad and with Hiro in particular and indeed their competition while certainly useful in a certain sense proved to be nothing more than a hindrance to the squad as it affected their sense of unity. This is illustrated in the fact that in the beginning, Mitsuru did not even see himself as wrong even when the facts are shown to him showing not just his arrogance but also of the fact that this nature of his was more than just about pride.
As the series goes on however and Mitsuru and the others encounter the ever-changing nature of the war against the klax Mitsuru’s personality gradually starts to change. As a result of a fortunate encounter with his squad mate Kokoro whose unique nature managed to slip through Mitsuru’s guard and get to the core of the person that was Mitsuru, it soon becomes apparent that Mitsuru’s surface personality was actually a safety mechanism that he created to hide his fear. Unlike Mitsuru’s surface nature which is arrogant and overconfident the true personality of Mitsuru is shown to be the opposite as more than ever he fears at being seen as incompetent and useless by others especially his squad mates as unlike them he was not born with innate skills and indeed was judged by APE as being almost worthless back in training. Indeed, the unfriendly nature that he displays towards his squad mates, as well as the rivalry with Hiro, can also be seen to be a by-product of this belief as well as he does not want anyone to see his true face and skills. But more than anything Mitsuru’s dislike of Hiro stems from a more personal matter and a crucial link to Hiro that he unknowingly broke. As a result of being able to open up to Kokoro Mitsuru’s personality changed substantially as he began to realise that not being able to trust his fellow squad mates was not just hurting them but also him as well and that coming clean and telling them of your problems and struggles would not be embarrassing and shameful but instead be a good thing as it will enable the squad to better understand your capabilities and allow them to better support you on the field. After the revelation it can be seen that Mitsuru has become more caring of others and also more perceptive at being able to determine any problems that his new friends may be experiencing and rather than keeping them at a distance as his old self would have been Mitsuru instead elects to try and solve it with dialogue showing just how much Kokoro has affected him.
Miku voiced by veteran seiyuu Nanami Yamashita of Trinity Seven and High School Fleet fame is one of the main characters of the series and is a member of S13. From initial appearances, Miku can be said to be the ideal image of a girly girl the high maintenance type specifically. A teenage girl around the same age as the other members of s13 Miku at the beginning of the series was a confident, haughty and proud person by nature that was also bossy and loved to order people around. At the same time, she was also stubborn and fiercely independent. These qualities when combined together made her a great challenge for Ichigo to handle as the latter tried to get the squad to fight together as a unified unit. Indeed, at the beginning of the series, Miku was someone that viewed Ichigo as sort of a rival to her and did all she can to impede her efforts often dragging along her partner Zorome along as well. Though a haughty person by nature Miku was shown to also have a softer side to her personality that often slips out at times when she feels there’s no need to keep her guard up. Here it can be seen that Miku while haughty is also a positive and playful person that loves to joke around with people that she considers friends. However true to her nature even in this state Miku is always ready for a fight. A prominent trait of Miku that stays constant with both of her personalities is the fact that she has great pride both as a woman and as a fighter and as a result gets annoyed easily at people that offend her too often comical results.
As the series goes on however and Miku and her squad mates become involved in the ever-changing war with the klax Miku’s personality gradually starts to change. While still arrogant and haughty to a degree it can be seen that beneath this Miku is someone that’s cautious and not someone that trusts strangers easily which is shown in the fact that among the s13 she was the one that was most suspicious of Zero Two when she joined the squad and was the one that took the longest to trust her. At the same time, however, Miku was also someone that can be seen to be very loyal to her friends and willing to help them with their problems when needed. Despite her attitude, Miku is also very perceptive and understanding of people’s feelings something that becomes much more prevalent as the series goes on. When confronted with situations where the other party is reacting badly she will not be afraid to lecture them on this. This is best seen in her changing attitude to Ichigo a person that while she disliked at first slowly developed a sense of respect for.
Zorome voiced by veteran seiyuu Mutsumi Tamura of Anohana and Digimon Tri fame is one of the main characters of the series and is a member of s13. From initial appearances, Zorome is the classic example of an overachiever and is very similar to Mitsuru in his phase 1 personality state. A teenage boy Zorome, in the beginning, was a moody, overconfident and prideful person that looked down on the other members of the squad. Indeed, it can be seen that at the beginning of the series Zorome seemed to have a fervent belief that he was the main star within the squad to the amusement of both the squad and of me the viewer. As a result of his personality, it can be seen that Zorome was someone that got annoyed at things rather easily and when he did he took it out on others much to their frustration. At the beginning of the series Zorome like Mitsuru had a sense of rivalry with Hiro as to him Hiro’s status as a prodigy was something that rubbed him the wrong way and as a result, the relationship between the two was anything but friendly.
As the series goes on however and Zorome’s personality gets developed and expanded upon it can be seen that beneath Zorome’s arrogant and moody nature Zorome was actually someone that can readily admit his own mistakes and would apologise to the people that his actions have caused harm to something that is shown in his interactions with his friend and partner Miku. While seeing Hiro as his main rival in the beginning of the series as Zorome and the members of the squad bore witness to Hiro’s gradual awakening of his abilities and his performance as a parasite on the field this sense of rivalry gradually disappears and is replaced by a newfound respect for Hiro who he now treats as a comrade. A prominent trait of Zorome that is unique to him is the reason that Zorome fights so hard as a pilot which is due to his desire to enter the plantations city and join the adult world as a full-fledged adult. This I felt was interesting as unlike Zorome the great majority of parasites which includes his fellow s13 squad mates fight because it’s their duty and also because they don’t want to be seen as useless by the plantation. Having a personal reason to fight for I felt explained a great deal as to why Zorome is fighting so hard to be the main man within the squad.
Nana voiced by veteran seiyuu Marina Inoue of 3 Gatsu No Lion and Infinite Stratos fame is one of the main support characters of the series and is the squad’s minder at the beginning of the series. A member of APE Nana is the combat HQ parasite manager that oversees squad 13 both in their personal lives and when on the battlefield where she acts as a controller. A calm, positive and efficient person by nature Nana is someone that is intimately familiar with the members of squad 13 as before being assigned there they were also under her tutelage when they were being trained at the garden. As a result of this type of personal bond Nana while responsible and steadfast in her duties also cares a great deal about the members of the squad and always tries to look out for them taking care to put them at ease when needed. As a result of this Nana is shown to dislike it when the squad is put in danger and in situations where they are not prepared for. As the series goes on it can be seen that Nana has two distinct personalities that she adapts. When on duty Nana is serious, efficient and cold and dislikes it when troublesome situations happen. However, when she is interacting with her fellow charges in s13 this is replaced by a more emotional and perhaps human side to her character one that is more emotionally invested in the members of the squad.
As the series goes on and Nana’s personality and character get’s expanded upon it can be seen that in the past Nana was very similar to the members of s13 which explains the kinship and strong bonds that she has with them as she too has also experienced the darker side of the war against the klax. This latter part proved to be a costly affair when she relapsed and remembered the pain that the war had brought her. However while this pain caused Nana no small amount of pain both physically and mentally this also awakened within her a desire to not just protect the children that she manages but also open her eyes to the realization that warfare is not something that they should be forced to do and that they should be able to forge a path that is based on their own wishes and one that is based on their own free will. The character of Nana while only a support character I felt was an interesting character in her own right that was both well designed and developed with the contrast between the calm, cold and efficient officer mode Nana and the friendly, caring and positive Nana being especially well done. While her emotional side and the fact that she’s too emotionally invested in the squad is seen as illogical by her superiors I felt that it was her greatest strength as she’s ensuring that her charges will not suffer the same fate as her friends a move that brings both her calm and to the squad a sense of security as they know that Nana will not risk their lives. I felt that her seiyuu Marina Inoue really did a great job of portraying the character of Nana.
In terms of animation, I felt that the series did a great job of showcasing the various types of locations and settings that existed in the post devastated world of the planet both in terms of the surface locations that existed outside of the plantations as well as locations that existed beneath the surface such as the magma mines. This also extends to the various plantations that within the lore of the series are essentially mobile fortress cities that housed the remains of humanity within them. The plantations, in particular, I felt made use of quite the interesting design as while on the exterior they featured large but bland spaces that gave wide sweeping views of the surrounding terrain beneath it lay countless gun emplacements that could be activated at a moment’s notice to protect the city. This helped give the impression that while the city was also a sanctuary for the people living inside it was also a bastion that will protect them from the enemies that roam this world. Within the plantation, this design continues as rather than house parasites which are the cities specially created and trained defence force with the civilians that they are expected to protect they are instead separated in which the civilians live within the city as adults and the children live in their home area which is called Mistilteinn. This isolation of the children from the adults that they were supposed to be protecting I felt was highly symbolic and represented well of the belief that the children were only seen and used as weapons and tools and nothing more. This is reinforced by the introduction of facilities like the garden and the lab where the children are created and trained as well as in the views of the parasites that the home area in which the parasites live and social at is nothing more than a birdcage which while pretty is also confining. The character designs for the main and support cast I felt was also something that was well done within the series as their uniform appearance while allowing us the viewers to easily distinguish who is who within the series also matches well with the theme that all humans within the series whether its parasites like the members of s13 or controllers like Nana all have a specific role to play in this war. The fact that the uniforms that are worn by the parasites resemble those worn by high school students which when paired with the individual physical appearances and personalities of the cast I felt also symbolised that the parasites by fighting on the frontlines would as they do develop and grow as individuals and eventually graduate from their roles. This analogy to the life of a high school student from the start to the graduation I felt was pretty interesting.
In terms of mecha designs for the series main mecha the franxx’s, I felt that their design was rather unique. While most contemporary mecha anime make use of mechas that are vaguely humanoid in appearance the designs of the Franxx I felt were far more closer to this idea due largely to not just the shape of the franxx but also because of the faces that each franxx makes which within the series represents the female part of the pilot pairs since their faces are linked with their helmets when in combat which makes the mecha’s faces actually theirs. This aspect of the design I felt was an interesting one as it reinforced the pair dynamics within the pairing as while the male handled weapons control and the larger picture the female pair handled piloting and navigation and reinforcing the concept that they must rely upon each of their bonds to be successful on the field. The fact that the franxx look far more human than most other mechas that I have seen however are not the only aspects that I thought made them stand out though as the fact that each franxx were designed for and were equipped with different weapons also contributed to this impression as well. When compared to the other teams that are seen within the series whose mecha are not just more uniform not just in appearance but also in weapons load out I felt that the franxx that were used by s13 were more unique as each made use of a weapons load out that matched the personalities of each pilot pair giving them a unique role on the field that other teams did not have. A good example will be the franxx that Miku and Zorome make use of which is oriented for close combat due to its main weapons of claws. When paired with the unique personalities of their pilot pairs I felt that the franxx’s only served to reinforce the fact that s13 is an existence that’s unique to humanity whether on the field or not.
In terms of combat animation and battles, I felt that the battles and combat scenes that were featured within the series were both well designed and developed that remained consistent throughout the series whether the battles were large-scale ops or small-scale defensive ops. This was helped greatly by not just the varied designs of the enemies that the cast fight within the series but also by the fact that the squad is still learning to fight as a team. Seeing the squad gradually learn to fight as a team while also seeing their contributions to the larger war effort I thought complimented each other perfectly as it helped not just improve the war effort but also their teamwork as well. In terms of music the series made use of one opening theme and six ending themes which was Kiss of Death which was sung by Mika Nakashima and Torikago, Manatsu No Setsuna, Beautiful World, Hitori, Escape and Darling which was sung by XX:me a unit formed around the main female seiyuu’s of s13 which was Haruka Tomatsu, Kana Ichinose, Nanami Yamashita, Saori Hayami and Shizuka Ishigami. I felt that the opening and ending themes were all pretty well done with the opening, in particular, being able to convey a sense of mystique around the nature of just the war but also of Zero Two as well. The series various ending themes I felt were also well done with each conveying, not just a different emotion but also matching with the themes and developments that were started in the episodes in which they were used in. The series OST I felt was pretty well done and helped complement the various emotions and feelings that the members of the squad experience as they encounter the many events that take place within the series as the war with the klax change, not just their lives but also that of their fellow parasites and the planet as well. In terms of voice acting for the series, I felt that each of the main voice cast did an excellent job of portraying their assigned characters within the series. In particular I feel that Haruka Tomatsu, Kana Ichinose, Yuuto Uemura, Yuuichirou Umehara, Saori Hayami, Nanami Yamashita, Aoi Ichikawa, Mutsumi Tamura and Marina Inoue who portrayed the characters of Zero Two, Ichigo, Hiro, Goro, Kokoro, Miku, Mitsuru, Zorome and Nana respectively deserve special praise as I felt that they did an excellent job at portraying their assigned characters. Additionally, while I didn’t cover their characters within the review I felt that Shizuka Ishigami, Kenyuu Horiuchi, Katsuyuki Konishi and Rie Kugimiya who portrayed the characters of Ikuno, Dr. Franxx, Hachi and Code 001 respectively also did a great job of portraying the supporting cast for the series a role that’s just as important to the series as that of the main cast.
In overall Darling in the Franxx was a strong anime that despite its flaws was alongside Katana Maiden’s one of the heavyweights of the Winter 2018 anime season with its main strong points being its unique premise, strong story, well designed and developed characters, well designed battles and combat animation, strong mecha designs and excellent voice acting.
The overall premise of the story on the surface may look to be one that highlights the destructive war that is being fought by the remains of humanity and the hostile alien species known as the klax, but this is far from the truth. Rather it can be said to be half the truth for the true premise of the series is what can be said to be a coming of age story for a group of teenagers as they forge friendships and bonds with each other both on and off the battlefield as they enter a hostile world where they must learn not just about each other’s strength’s but also their weaknesses as well and learn to support them when needed as they learn to forge their own destiny. When paired with the series strong story I thought that this idea while ambitious was one that the series managed to adhere to and largely succeed at. The overall story of the series I felt was one of the main strong points of the series and made great use of the core premise of the series. Like most full-season animes of this era Darling in the Franxx makes use of the cour concept and divides the overall story of the series into two distinct parts each with distinct themes and plot developments. The series first cour which ran from episode 1 to 15 was the first part of the series whose main purpose was to introduce the members of s13 as well as Zero Two. The main themes that were introduced and used in this cour were bonding with your friends, forging bonds, overcoming differences and finding one’s place in society and on the team. The first cour I felt managed to handle the main themes that it made use of pretty well and succeeded in creating a strong foundation for the squad thanks to the countless struggles that the squad manages to overcome as they settle their differences and focus their efforts on fighting against the true foe. The second cour of the series which ran from episodes 16 to 24 was the second part of the series that acted as the soft reset to the series as it showed the squad as a unified entity and not a scattering of sand that they were back in the first cour. Unlike the first cour where the squad simply acted under orders from their superiors here in this cour as a result of their development as characters the members of the squad are seen to learn to think for themselves and with this discover new concepts and beliefs that their past selves would never would have dreamed off such as freedom, independence, and destiny. Paired with and taking advantage of the squad’s newfound desire to become more independent is the revelation of this war and the desire by the squad to not just reject the current system that’s mandated by APE but also to fight for the truth of this war. Key to this cour is the belief that everyone whether its parasites or not should be free to pursue their own destiny and live their life the way that they want. The second cour of the series I felt while expanding upon the many changes that the main cast develop as a result of the struggles that they managed to overcome back in the first cour also did a great job of introducing new concepts and ideas that were largely unknown to the main cast such as notions of freedom, destiny and a desire to live a life that is your own that’s not dictated by someone else. When combined with the plot developments within the second cour these new themes helped greatly in developing the main cast into their final selves. Despite their differing themes I felt that the two cours of the series overall story supported each other pretty well with the development of the main cast being especially impressive as they went from being a mismatched class that had no small number of doubters to one that brought great change to the world by shining the light of truth into the darkness of APE and Papa’s lies. One particular scene that I felt symbolised the growing change within the members of s13 was the wedding scene within the second cour of the series a scene that was both beautiful and powerful but at the same time tragic at how it ended.
The overall story of the series while certainly entertaining also made use of a number of unique concepts that were unique to the series foremost among these is the bond that exists between the male member of the pilot pair the stamen and the female member of the pair the pistil. While bonds of friendship and comradeship are concepts that we often see in other action themed anime I felt that the bond that exists between the pilot pairs within the series are unique because the bond rather than being just a physical one like that of a friendship is one that is both emotional and mental as both pilots of a pair must not only be good friends but also be able to synchronise with each other by merging their minds and fighting as one being. As a result of this specific bond, it can be said that the stronger the friendship and bond that exists between the two the stronger the bond will be and the stronger their franxx will be on the field. This concept of using the feelings that exists between a boy and a girl I thought was an interesting one as it made use of the concept of turning the feelings that you have whether its friendship or romantic ones into a weapon that can be used to protect them when fighting on the field. A concept that was introduced as part of this bond within the series was the existence of the Jian which is a mythical bird that Hiro and Zero witness that must join together with another of its species in order to survive as on its own it cannot. This concept I felt was an apt one as it symbolises the bond that exists between a male and a female as both must rely on each other to survive thus showing the bond between a husband and a wife a meaning that I felt was also apt for the pilot pairs as well. While the story featured a number of interesting revelations that I felt was maybe at times too strong for it I felt that this was handled pretty well within the series by introducing well timed and well-developed explanations for these new faces within the series.
While I enjoyed Darling in the Franxx’s overall story and premise I felt that the series was also let down by a number of flaws that existed within the story. Flaws that I felt kept it from getting a higher score in my book. First in terms of character development while the main cast was developed pretty well as the series went on I felt that this wasn’t applied to everyone within the squad. The characters of Futoshi and Ikuno I felt had the least bit of development for their characters as the series went on and while admittedly both were minor characters when compared to the rest of the squad I felt that they could have at least been given some development to highlight the fact that they too are members of the squad. Secondly, there was the problem with the Nines. Within the series, the Nines is a spec ops unit of parasites that report directly to Papa and the APE’s but apart from acting as the antagonists of the squad, they have almost no character development whatsoever. Indeed, of the Nines their leader appropriately called Nines Alpha is the only one that actually gets some degree of development while the rest have nothing. I felt that the Nines could have been expanded upon so that their members at least have a more meaningful role within the series rather than just act as intimidating watchmen. Near the end of the series, I felt that the main cast lacked any kind of clear role within the series and while it can be said that they are at their final forms of development as a character I felt that they could have been given better roles rather than what they were given. Too me I felt that the main cast there acted more like support characters than main ones. While the story of the series was something that I really enjoyed I felt that some things could have been explained and expanded upon better rather than let the viewer infer from whats happening in the background to determine whats going to happen next.
Overall Darling in the Franxx was a series that I really enjoyed with its main strong points being its unique premise, story, characters, battle scenes and animation, mecha designs, voice acting and its take on a number of both new and existing themes. While it does have a number of flaws that hinder it and stop it from becoming the masterpiece that a lot of people wished that it was I felt that despite them Darling in the Franxx was a series that I still enjoyed watching as like Nana said within the series I like her have become emotionally invested in the members of s13 and I wanted to see whether they will be able to end this war and live their life independent of the decisions of others and having the freedom to do what they want with their lives in the world that they live in. As a final score, I felt that Darling in the Franxx deserves a final score of 9/10.
9: Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu.
English: DAKAICHI -I’m being harassed by the sexiest man of the year-
MAL Score: 7.41
Takato Saijou has held the title of “Sexiest Man of the Year” for five years running. He is an accomplished actor, with 20 years of experience under his belt, and is aware his good looks are well above average. Proud of his career, Takato regards the title as an appropriate indicator of his success.
But when his reign is ended by acting newbie Junta Azumaya, who debuted only three years ago, Takato’s initial shock gives way to jealous hostility. Even in the new drama that he has been cast in, Junta seems to have suddenly surpassed him; snatching Takato’s usual spot of lead actor, Junta continually manages to get on his nerves. Most infuriating of all are the bright smile and kind words that accompany everything Junta does.
All this animosity comes to a head, however, when Junta catches Takato in a rather vulnerable drunken state. Endangering his own public image, Takato confronts the junior actor with harsh words and angry comments—an opportunity Junta takes every advantage of. With the famous actor Takato Saijou now on video picking a fight with a co-star, Junta has the perfect means to blackmail him.
Asking the price of his enemy’s silence, Takato is shocked to find that his motivation lies far from advancing his career; instead, Junta’s terms are those that can only be realized in the bedroom!
Story: Pretty fun I would say. You can pretty much guess what gonna happen with each knew trial the main characters face and how it plays out but some things did take me by surprise. With that being said I do think it is still interesting and I was really engaged with everything that was going on. Never a dull moment to me. As a heterosexual male I wasn’t so into the sex scenes and such but I said no homo before watching it so wasn’t that big of a deal.
Art/sound: Actually not that bad. It did have some bad moments but mostly It was fine. As cloverworks did Bunny girl senpai and fairy tail this season I do think this had the better Art and animation out of the 3. The OP and ED are catchy as hell and nice to listen to. The OST isn’t something to excite to much but I love the OP and ED.
Characters: The characters are fun. Takato being the level headed cool person he tries to put on but also being very cute and bashful isn’t something new but still enjoyable as well as Junta looking innocent and sweet but really being a monster underneath his sweet angel exterior is funny and a lot of the comedy which I loved came from their interactions and mainly Juntas actions.
Overall: Really good show to watch. Enjoyable to watch would re-watch every now and then. Would recommend to watch. 9/10.
Get out of the way, minions. A Full Fledged Fujoshi is passing. English is not my native, but I don’t need much words to said many reviews about this wonderful BL anime are WRONG.
The main characters are SUPER fun, I specially love Saijou Takato (main), he is so funny and badass and Azumaya Junta (second main) is so wanko, BUT I have to said “Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu” manga, discarding his eroticism and funny mains, is a pretty common BL. In the manga Junta rape Takato. I really hate that scene… Oh God, I was so afraid when the poor Takato have to run for his live to escape to the bathroom, sadly, that beast catch him and rape him (I totally hate Junta manga for that reason) and later, Takato seems be to-ta-lly ok whit that, even, both have more sex, this time consensual. WTF. You have to be kidding me… We already passed 2010, defenilly you can´t use Trap Card “Rape to Love”. So why? Well… Whats really happens here is, Takato (the victim), is HIGHLY attracted by Junta since a long time (like the attracted to the magical energies of the moon, lol). That’s why, the rape, for bad its sounds, was no-hate by Takato. This is difficult to understand in the manga, not to say probably was later add by the author. For this reason and the argument no entirely linear, the manga “Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu” is a STANDARD YAOI BOOK (*skull voice)
Many BL aim to make readers fall in love their main characters, just that. Rest of elements are pretty secondary. If you have a 10/10 main characters you definitely have a 10/10 BL. In my case, I just dislike the manga because I CAN NOT FORGIVE JUNTA FOR THE VIOLATION.
“What? But you put 9 on this”
Yeah yeah, let me finish… Now is when the magic is coming…
CloverWorks studio take out the rape (I mean the rape literally dont happen), rearranged the story and, as if that was not enough, they also added many scenes and details in relation to the profession of the protagonists, like advertising art, scenes from recording drama, their practices and their stage plays performances, etc. Oh-my-God. I was very impressed how this typical “yaoi” become on a healthy story very well presented, with a healthy relationship where the interaction of main characters makes each one mature as an individual.
“Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu.” anime is, defenelly, a GREAT addition for this problematic anime genre, ussually bad adapted. All credit to CloverWorks.
Story: 7 / Art: 8 / Sound: 7 / (Main) Character: 9 / Enjoyment: 12
8,6->9/10 Boys love anime
*SPOILERS MAY APPEAR*
I believe that the story was okay. Even though it wasn’t anything that hasn’t been done before, the way it was told was pretty interesting to an extent. However, I wasn’t exactly keen on how the love story between Junta and Takato began, again, it was so damn typical like most yaoi shows. I’m kinda glad when it came to the bedroom scene in the first episode, it was toned down because in the manga, Junta just assaults Takato, and then Takato falls in love with him. I’m pretty tired of seeing shit like this. This is kinda how the first few episodes were like but it was toned down and became quite better as the show progressed. The last two episodes were cute and I really enjoyed them. Overall, the story was okay like I said, but because of the first few episodes, I have to give it a 6. From a realistic point, the whole love story wasn’t that amazing.
I pretty much loved the art, it was great, so no complaints there. In terms of animation, some animation was good and bad, but I didn’t really care that much about it.
I liked the intro and and especially the outro songs, it was lovely. As for the music during episodes, it was good, I didn’t mind them at all.
The character’s personalities and traits wasn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Junta (a top) being forceful and manipulative towards Takato (a bottom) who takes it anyway despite saying no and falls in love anyway. Like I said, I’m really tired that sexual assault and manipulative behavior has to be included in a BL story. This anime was made in 2018 (now 2019), surely we can make a good yaoi love story without this, with occasional loving making WITH CONSENT. Even though consent towards Takato was eventually made as the show progressed, my point still stands. As for the other characters, a lot didn’t really have a lot of personality or were just there for the sake of it, or appeared out of nowhere, so I didn’t really care for most of them. Ayagi did get some attention but he’s a creep and basically took advantage of Takato during the first few episodes. UGH
It was okay, but I didn’t exactly enjoy it as much as I wanted to. The last two episodes were the ones I felt like I could enjoy the most, and there was some nice moments and some funny humor.
In general, it was okay but it wasn’t the best. It could have better if it wasn’t so typical and the love story between Takato and Junta was executed better. If you want a more realistic love story, I wouldn’t recommend this. To be honest, there’s better BL/Yaoi out there than this.
8: Fairy Tail: Final Series
English: Fairy Tail Final Series
Japanese: FAIRY TAIL ファイナルシリーズ
MAL Score: 7.53
Although Fairy Tail has been disbanded and its members are now spread far across Fiore, Natsu Dragneel hasn’t given up on reuniting the guild he and others once called home. Along with his companions Happy and Lucy Heartfilia, he will stop at nothing to keep Fairy Tail and its fiery spirit alive even as they face their most difficult trial yet—the invasion of Fiore by the Alvarez Empire’s immense army and their all-too-familiar ruler.
The vast majority of the western anime community is made up of kids, teenagers, and college kids, and as the medium becomes more and more mainstream, that bell curve keeps centering around lower and lower ages. Many within this community of young people have grown up with anime and can reminisce about shows like Naruto, One Piece, or Bleach which have been influential for as long as they can remember, teenagers on the older side can still remember their own era’s shows like Pokemon or Dragon Ball, and now the newest generation of children growing up with anime have faces like My Hero Academia and Mob Psycho 100 to grow up with themselves. I don’t have any of that. I’m seasoned enough for even the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia to loose their effects, since a good ninety percent of anime I can remember watching with few late 90s exceptions the likes of Outlaw Star and Cowboy Bebop rerunning on TV have been viewed through my eyes as they are now. I can’t ride on nostalgia and fond memories I don’t have, but I can ride on lies.
Fairy Tail came and settled into my life of extreme clinical depression and violent self-harming, intently suicidal tendencies in a roller coaster of fashions. Watching something so vapid and kiddish began by simply making me feel even dumber and even lonelier by getting into a show aimed at an audience nearly half my age, but after getting along with my streak of nihilism at the time, it soon became my single favorite show ever made, seriously. Just hearing Natsu and Lucy autistically screaming about the power of friendship ad nauseam was enough to lift my spirits, no matter how hollow those feelings were. No matter how little sense it all made, I truly did come to love Fairy Tail and the cast of characters therein. I’d always rated it lowly as I do currently, but never would I deny how genuinely I adored it despite its countless flaws, lacks, and offenses. No matter how many victories they won without a shred of logic, no matter how many times villainous motivations would break and birth new allies apropos of nothing, and no matter how many times they’d tease a romance only to never make a single iota of progress for hundreds of episodes, I always left the viewing with life in my eyes, because at the end of the day, everyone was a friend and friendship was magic. In my real life, “friendship” stands only as a childish dream my insomnia never permitted me to relish in, but if I remembered the Fairy Tail necklace I was wearing hidden under my formal attire, I could keep going, if only for one more day.
During Fairy Tail’s first hiatus, A-1 Pictures had made it crystal clear they would be picking the series back up in 2014, and they did exactly that, but when the next break came in 2016, they gave no indication of it coming back, much to my dismay. I was horrified by the idea of losing this lovable guild of friends who I cared for more than my own family, so when the manga announced its plans to end, and the production committee behind it announced they would fund its final season set to adapt the rest of the manga, I was absolutely overjoyed. After all, I was finally getting to see my friends again. As the Fall 2018 season approached, and they started airing promotional videos, I was kind of taken aback. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, I knew how technically bad Fairy Tail was. Be it the terrible animation, overuse of still frames and speed lines, endless off-model character artwork, a totally nonsensical script, infinite plot holes, egregious filler arcs, or the brain numbing pacing, I was always more than willing to say, “Yeah, but I still love it.” That being said, watching these promotional videos was the first time I noticed Fairy Tail was the only show I did this for. Anyone whose seen my profile knows how painstakingly critical I am, and the single bad show I refused to drop was Fairy Tail. Since I refuse to watch low quality anime, the time Fairy Tail was on break was enough time for me to completely forget what it was like to sit through a bad show. I know I’m coming off as sarcastic, but I’m being completely serious. I simply forgot what it was like to watch a poorly produced, poorly written, poorly paced, poorly directed, poorly acted, generically scored show without dropping it nigh instantly, and trying to get back into it was an unforgiving, brutal challenge. I knew I should’ve just left well enough alone and trying to watch the final season would do nothing but expose all my blissfully ignorant yet recently made fond memories…but I did it anyway. Whilst all those happy memories were, indeed, trampled into ruin exactly as I thought they would be, I’ve come to argue the degree to which they were was not entirely my own fault. After all, even after forgetting the feeling of watching a bad show, if Fairy Tail had returned exactly as it was when it left, then all I could really say was touché.
And for the zero people still reading, I suppose this is where the “review” actually starts…
Fairy Tail: Final Series is unquestionably among the worst pieces of so-called entertainment I’ve ever committed the sin to consume, and I’m going to do my absolute best at selling you on this horrendous reality as fast as possible, because I want to be here doing this just about as much as the corporatized, probably zombified staff wanted to produce it. To start, I’ll acknowledge the elephant in the room: who in the fuck cares? No matter what argument I propose and no matter the eloquence or logic with which I do so, who the hell cares if a shitty series no one respected anyway went from bad to worse? FANS! All the dumbfuck fans, LIKE ME, no matter how stupid we are for already liking a bad show, have the right to be angry when that standard which we’ve grown entitled to gets even worse. And, holy SHIT, did it get worse or what?! The animation went from poor and lacking to outright non-existent. Entire minutes, literal complete minutes were spent just panning over everyone’s face any time the slightest movement was made, any time someone said anything even remotely emotional, and any time the screenwriter knew they couldn’t animate the action and had to instead show people flatly reacting to it. The sound design went from repetitive and boring to straight up inaccurate. Gunshots used the same sound effect as doors closing, and Natsu getting comically slapped by Lucy was the same sound effect used when someone literally slammed into the ground after falling out of the damn sky. It’s a complete and total joke no fan of the series could laugh at. The directing went from stock and amateur to inexcusably dishonest. As mentioned, whenever the budget would run out and they couldn’t animate an impact, they would awkwardly hard-cut to someone else’s still face reacting to it. This was the case with action scenes, obviously, but also in fucking DIALOGUE SCENES! IS IT REALLY THAT HARD TO ANIMATE THREE FUCKING FRACTIONS OF AN ALREADY STILL SURROUNDING FRAME FOR SOMEONE’S MOUTH TO OPEN AND CLOSE?!?!?! The pacing went from purposefully slow to drag out the series for as long as possible to breakneck rapid fire speed because now all they wanted to do was finish the damn thing since the cash cow apparently became infertile. Remember the big tease Gray was going to kill Frosh? Got retconned; forget about the Rouge from the future and all the plot lines tied to his actions. Remember how Zeref was a legendary black wizard known even outside of Fiore? Got retconned; apparently he’s so poorly known, he can be the king of an entire foreign nation, merely under a different name, without ANYONE outside the country being aware of this fact. Remember the big bad Emperors of Ishgar who were hyped up to be greater than all the Wizard Saints? Got retconned; they all go down at the same time at the hands of some random guy who’s owned barely four minutes later. Remember all the symbolism suggesting Mavis to be the fundamental antithesis of Zeref? Got retconned; not only do they have the EXACT SAME CURSE AND POWERS, but they got them by literally falling in love. I could go on. No effort was expended explaining anything properly or concluding the series in a satisfying manner because all they wanted to do was finally put the last nail in the bloody coffin as soon as livingly possible. Even when the characters were given a few paltry scraps of time to develop, we were treated with bafflingly retarded lines like Precht holding Mavis’ dead, cold, limp, pale, lifeless fucking corpse, looking at it in its closed eyes and asking, “Mavis, are you dead?” Even when the characters were given equally paltry scraps of time to explain the plot and motivations, we were treated with equally retarded lines like Zeref looking at his counsel of nameless lackeys saying, “Humanity must be temporarily exterminated.” Like, seriously?!? The one and only aspect of the series which remained consistent with previous seasons was the music, but that’s only because they wholesale reused the soundtrack. I don’t know why I’m complaining, though, seeing as if they did put in the work to actually recompose anything properly, it probably would’ve been just as awful as the rest. If you wanted a silver lining, I guess I could say there’s a few opening animations which aren’t bad and the show never fully gives up by falling back on CG, but that’s really all I’ve got for you. I’m sorry. Believe me, I wish I had more to offer too.
In hindsight, there is a moment from episode twelve which really summed up my experience with Fairy Tail: Final Series in one nice little package. They were saying some dumb shit—I wasn’t really paying attention—and I realized as they were panning across the guild hall the characters just…weren’t drawn. You’ll have to see it to believe it, but they just weren’t drawn. I was looking at a guild hall of greyed out silhouettes. When I really looked closely, shocked, as I couldn’t believe what I was seeing either, I could pick out who was who, I guess. I could make out Gajeel’s Sonic The Hedgehog hairdo and Bickslow’s weird helmet thing. I could make out Elfman’s broad shoulders and Mirajane’s bangs in that quirky little ponytail of her’s. But why did I have to? Was it so hard to draw the faces of the people I couldn’t wait to see again? Couldn’t you’ve just grabbed a frame from another scene and reused it as a still image? Hell, couldn’t you’ve just copy and pasted their god damn character models right off file into the scene, again, just as a still image? It’s not like the silhouettes were animated. How many seconds of care would you have to expend to add them this one time for this one unanimated scene? This bleak lack of any semblance of passion or investment will be my last memories of what once was the most beloved series in my small world.
Thank you for reading.
No but seriously for a “final season”, Fairy Tail really brought their all or more or less Hiro Mashima amalgamated all his loose plotlines (especially with the deal with Zeref and Acnologia) not only to a grand final war but to resolve the MANY MANY characters plot threads it gave us and the majority of it…succeeded.
LA had been and still was a huge fan of Fairy Tail, Fairy Tail brought LA into the shounen genre and though Fairy Tail did abuse the entire “nakama” arc finales as an asspull let alone it’s “no one dies” attitude and to this end makes Natsu has immense plot armour and one-shots every main arc villain in the series, all these flaws bar one or two get given some context and actual reasoning to, the exception being the “nakama” BUT LA even has a defense for that (to a certain extent) and that is..well Fairy Tail was ALWAYS about nakama or family, heck Fairy Tail was always about camaraderie even in the worst of times and most of the characters centred on family one way or another, Lucy with her father, Cana and Gildarts, Natsu and Igneel, Gray and Ur and Wendy with the guild itself. Yes Fairy Tail had some problems be it it’s filler arcs or the flaws LA mentioned above but man this final season remedied ALOT of the problems it had.
With this being the culmination to the final battles against Zeref and Acnologia, the character development and the lore intertwining things to make sense was all there. For character development the main players gets the most screentime, expanded both on the world building and lore of Fairy Tail to ties things together, everything from why the Year 777 was soo important, Lucy’s mother, the Dragon Slayers themselves, Zeref and his conflict and war with Mavis and how Acnologia came to be. It’s all covered here. If anything the main characters who get the most screentime and development became Natsu, Zeref, Mavis, Acnologia, Erza, Wendy, Gray and Lucy though LA thought that Lucy once again took the fanservicey status and her backstory was more towards her family line than her as a character came into play but nonetheless she was a central player…mainly helping Natsu in all this but still.
The battles were crazy to say the least, mainly because of Zeref’s Elite commanders, being mages of ABSURD magical strength and having them pitted against not only Fairy Tail themselves but EVERY guild (including the main dark guilds who have turned over a new leaf giving THEM redemption as well as well as minor development as well). But most of the battles were interesting in how the character overcome it as…well Natsu was focused on Zeref, it gave the rest of the cast a chance to shine MAINLY Erza, Gray, Wendy and Gajeel. YES…sometimes they used nakama power but….ummmm…it’s cool ok.
The animation done by A-1 Pictures, Bridge and Cloverworks…well the animation was toned and alot sharper, the fighting and battles scenes were much more fluid and intense and because of the tone, the character designs and quirky and exotic as they were were crisper and much sharper than before, since this was a collaboration between three studios, LA can see the animation was consistently great (aside from the rare derps) because of it and considering the animation was consistent for 51 episodes and still the final few episodes were greatly detailed and batshit cazy in terms of battles…well what else woul LA say but bravo A-1 Pictures, Bridge and Cloverworks!
The voice cast was utterly HUGE so LA will go by the simple standouts or MVP’s…for LA they were Mamiko not as Mavis, Akira Ishida as Zeref, Tetsuya Kakihara as Natsu, Sayaka Ohara as Erza, Yuuichi Nakamura as Gray, aya Hirano as Lucy, Satomi Sato as Wendy, Rie Kugimiya as Happy, Kousuke Toriumi as Acnologia, Takako Honda as Eileen Belserion, Manami Numakura as Brandish, Saori Hayami as Kagura, Show Hayami as Ichiya (yes really) and Kana Hanazawa as Zera, seriously a damn great voice cast if LA could go on this section would be HUGE.
Fairy Tail: Final Series is nothing but a great send off to the series, as it just ties everything up from 10 years of Fairy Tail anime, sure in a bit of shaking ways especially considering the nakama power activating time to time but like LA said, it’s kinda what Fairy Tail embodies time and again and Fairy Tail just wraps everything in a crescendo.
LA had and always will be a fan of Fairy Tail even when it was in it’s lowest moments and in a time when Fairy Tail was looked down upon, LA always stick by it and wanted to get better and with this Final Season it did. Fairy Tail was LA’s first shounen anime and be it the annoying filler arcs, Natsu’s plot armour, Lucy’s unneeded fanservice and of course the nakama eleventh hour superpower but even with all that this Final Season did it’s job and ended the way it wanted too and by god, did it go out great.
Here’s to Fairy Tail and a close to Zeref and Acnologia as the Big Bads of the series…
The final season initially had mixed reception so seeing this been translated into anime form would also generate some degree of trepidation. I approached this final season with some optimism as a voice told me it would be a proper sendoff of the show but far from a masterpiece. From the first few episodes, It reintroduced the main characters we are so familiar with – Natsu, Happy, Lucy, Erza, Gray. The Fairy Tail guild itself is no longer the same as we remember. But surely enough, the final season begins to slowly reintroduce the other familiar cast ranging from Wendy, Gajeel, Laxus, Levy, and among many others. Perhaps most noticeable is the reintroduction of Zeref, a powerful dark wizard who has been an integral part of Fairy Tail’s expansive plot. Now, he’s a character with a purpose and takes on the role of an emperor with his own personal empire. The final season covers the Alvarez Empire arc that concludes the series.
Looking back now, Zeref has been a complex character since his introduction. Now that he is in command of an empire, Zeref developed a more strategic and cunning mind who seeks to achieve his ambitions. The previous season also covered a side series (Fairy Tail Zero) that chronicled his relationship between Zeref and Mavis. The importance of their relationship carries an emotional degree that fully reaches its apex at the final stages of the season. To me, it’s a type of long-term development that actually works effective in terms of story writing. But from the start, we also have to realize the conflict Natsu and his friends to has to deal with now. From the Alvarez Empire, the Sparggan 12 serves as an elite unit of powerful wizards under Zeref. They consist of some of the most powerful adversaries Fairy Tail has ever encountered. From the arrogant sand mage Ajeel to god-like entities such as God Serena and August, there’s no doubt we’ll see the guild struggling to overcome these obstacles. Others such as Brandish and Irene has their own complex relationships with certain characters. I’m not going to spoil but it’s let’s just say that they are important to the overall tone of the season. Unfortunately, a decent portion of Sparrgan 12 are easily forgettable such as Jacob, Neihart, Bloodman, and Wall Eehto. I honestly forgot some of these characters and had to look them up again. Others such as Larcade and Invel has somewhat important roles in the show but honestly are overshadowed by powerful mainstays like Zeref. Collectively, they are a unique group of individuals that brings a thrilling sensation to the final arc. Individually, some just lacks presence on their own and suffers from stardom.
Fairy Tail’s own members has their many spotlights although most of it is carried by the usual suspects. Of course, Natsu and Lucy play significant roles in determining the outcome of the arc. This is especially shown through Natsu’s complex relationship with Zeref. In one particular episode, we also get an important revelation about their origins. In the meantime, the final season also hopes to elicit character emotions beyond just the usual friendship gimmicks. Don’t expect much romance outside of Zeref and Mavis though. At this point, it’s pretty much established that Fairy Tail values its character connections more important than anything. As a guild, Fairy Tail has always been known for developing connections between its cast and forging bonds that lasts seemingly forever. From a storytelling perspective, it’s hardly unique as friendship themes have always been a part of many action adventures. It’s just that Fairy Tail amplifies its friendship context more than the usual. To me, it’s oversaturated and seemingly forced down our throats. Sure, it’s an important context of the show but when you’ve watched over 200 episodes of this, it gets pretty damn redundant, no?
With 51 episodes, Fairy Tail final season does hit the sweet spot for concluding this anime. It doesn’t rely much on fillers to do the storytelling in this case and is actually quite faithful to the manga. The previous seasons had numerous filler episodes that can be a chore to get through. Some of those fillers were genuinely enjoyable while others had an entire arc of shallow writing. The final season gets straight to the point and commits most of its time on bringing out what the fans wants to actually see. The first half builds on the main plot while the second half executes what it establishes and ultimately brings together its conclusion. I’m not going to lie though. The final season is pretty much aimed at fans who really wants to see how this anime franchise wraps up. Chance are, some people just wants to finish the show and be done with the franchise for good. Others really wants to see the best of what Fairy Tail can offer. Personally, that part was long and done from the first seasons. The final season at best is a definitive end of the main story saga and as its worst is lazy writing that continues to use recycled ideas.
However, I will give a credit where it’s due and that’s for Hiro Mashima’s work consistency. Being able to finish the manga from the start to finish with his weekly schedule is almost inhuman. When writing the script and storyboarding, I’d imagine he planned out well ahead of time. The mangaka is a madman when it comes to his speed of working. Why do I mention this? It’s because Fairy Tail’s art style has a cartoony look but can be deceptively complex at times to watch. Both the anime and manga also consist a lot of character emotions during important moments. Fairy Tail has been known for a lot of crying times and this final season is no pushover with those scenes. Emotions are drawn out by the main themes of the show and connects the characters together. A-1 Pictures return with their staff with a similar look to the previous seasons. And of course, any longtime fan will know Fairy Tail has fan service. It has lot of fan service, sometimes which can be dramatically distracting. There’s even jokes about the fan service itself with characters like Lucy being a main culprit. Gray taking his clothes off is also a running gag that melts Juvia’s little heart.
The anime is over. This is the final season and I doubt we’ll see another Fairy Tail anime for a long time. If Hiro Hashima’s other works like Eden’s Zero or Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest ever gets adaptations, I’d imagine it to be much shorter than what we’ve seen here. The final season indeed concludes the long running Fairy Tail main saga that started between a fiery salamander and a blonde mage. And if you want to give it a chance, the ball is in your court.
7: Fugou Keiji: Balance:Unlimited
English: The Millionaire Detective – Balance: UNLIMITED
Japanese: 富豪刑事 Balance:UNLIMITED
MAL Score: 7.54
Daisuke Kanbe, a man of extraordinary wealth, is assigned to the Modern Crime Prevention Headquarters as a detective. It is there that he gets partnered with Haru Katou, a humane detective who values justice above all. The two are polar opposites, and their morals clash time and time again. Haru despises Daisuke for using monetary wealth to solve cases, as he believes that money isn’t everything. The two will have to combine their efforts, however, to solve the mysteries that are coming their way.
There were things that I liked – like the opening and ending songs, also the drawing style, but that’s all.
I’m being so mean about this anime, because I was very excited about it when it first came out, but like I mentioned in the beginning, it’s amazing potential was wasted.
Honestly this series was such a unique experience to watch and I loved it from start to finish. The series starts off episodic with the MCs solving individual crimes to help smooth us into the story then it gets to the main plotline later on. The immediate appeal is Daisuke and the whole theme of Balance Unlimited. I never get sick of seeing him throw around money to solve his problems with that smug smile that makes it hard to hate the guy.
Matter of fact Daisuke is now one of my top 3 favourite male characters. The characters in this series are all pretty great. But definitely the highlight of the show is Kato and Daisuke. They have such good chemistry from their opposing views that make them such good partners. One is a normal guy while the other a rich millionaire with a flawed common sense. So the two complement each other where the other lacks. Just watching these two talk is amusing as hell.
As usual with a great anime the soundtrack is AMAZING in Balance Unlimited. It gives it such a unique vibe and feel with its jazz/trumpets that gives that kind of James Bond spy type of feel. Also helps Daisuke’s natural charisma to make him the ultimate chad badass lol. The OP is SO GODDAM CATCHY!!!! It really encompasses that rich theme the series has.
Overall I absolutely loved watching this series and highly recommend if you’re even slightly interested in the premise or look of the series give it a try. Or if you’re not quite hooked yet just go watch the OP on youtube and that might motivate you to watch it with how good the OP is. A very high 9/10. Will definitely buy it on DVD and re-watch again in the future. I’d love to revisit some of the earlier episodes again.
The story of this show is pretty good. Some might say it’s nothing to write home about but I believe that the story was good for the narrative the creators wanted to pull off. The first few episodes are sort of in an episodic nature, with just a case-of-the-day sort of setup, but the actual story picks up after that. As per what you’d expect with a detective show, the story has a good amount of mystery and twists that keep the viewers intrigued from start to finish. The concept of Daisuke’s unlimited balance, hence the title, lends itself to very interesting, unique, and fun occurrences. When they’re doing detective work, it’s interesting to see them uncover clues and put the pieces together. The action is well done, and while some may see it as a tiny bit over-the-top because of Daisuke’s James Bond-esque gadgets and obscene amount money, I think it’s great in the context of this show.
I absolutely loved the art style of this anime. The best way I’d describe it is quasi-simplistic. Everything in this show is animated with just a little bit less detail than a traditional anime, which gives it a quite unique art style. It really stands out from other shows and just looks really great. As for the characters, they are all animated very smooth and well. There are some instances of CGI in this show, mainly just with vehicles, but it doesn’t distract from the show.
The sound design is well done in this show. All the effects sound like they should. As for the soundtrack, it is sublime. The soundtrack has a soundtrack reminiscent of buddy-cop shows and movies that helps to set this show apart from others like the art style does. It uses more brass-sounding music that just sound really good. This show also has really good opening and ending songs. This is one of the few shows where I never skipped the opening. NAVIGATOR by SixTONES is a very good song that is also quite catchy. It’s more clean-sounding to reflect one of the main characters, Daisuke Kambe. The ending, Welcome My Friend by OKOMATO’S, is also quite good, although not as good as the opening. I often found myself staying for this ending, something I usually don’t do. This song has more of a rugged-sounding effect to reflect the other main character, Haru Kato. Voice acting is also very good. Daisuke Kambe is voiced by, as far as I know, a newcomer to the voice acting business, Yuusuke Oonuki, as this is his first and only role listed on MAL. He does a fantastic job. The voice fits the character perfectly. That is the only voice acting I felt like specifically mentioning, but the rest of the voice acting is really great.
The characters are done quite well in this show. For starters, the main characters are very likeable. Daisuke and Haru have great chemistry. Even though they often butt heads over conflicting ideals, their reasonings for doing things are perfectly understandable. Also, they are very entertaining together. The development the main characters receive is very good, as well. I won’t delve into it to avoid spoilers, though. I won’t spoil who the villain is, but I will say that the reveal was initially a little confusing, but once I put more thought into it I understood it fine. The side characters, while they don’t add too much to the story, are still quite entertaining. It was always nice when they were featured in an episode.
I couldn’t get enough of this show when it initially aired. It was so much fun watching a new episode and seeing how the intriguing story progresses. It was also fun to see character interactions and how they bounce off each other.
Despite some minor flaws, The Millionaire Detective – Balance: UNLIMITED takes the detective genre and gives it a fresh twist that manages to stay very entertaining from start to finish. From the characters to the music to the art style, everything in this show is well done one way or another. It really sucks that this show is on the short side, as it only clocks in at 11 episodes, but that just gives you more of a reason to quickly check it out. I’d highly recommend seeing this show for yourselves. It’s exclusive to Funimation if you want to go out and see it.
6: Shadows House
MAL Score: 7.77
The Shadows, characterized by their pitch-black appearance and tendency to emit soot when agitated, are a family of nobles who reside in a colossal manor deep within the mountains far from other humans. When a Shadow child is nearly of-age, they are assigned a Living Doll who acts not only as their attendant but also as their second half—the faces they could have had if not for their complexion.
Emilico is a cheerful, newly created Doll who serves a rather soft-spoken master named Kate. Despite their difference in personalities, Emilico does what she can to carry out the needs of her master. As she learns more about her role and duty, Emilico begins to meet her fellow Dolls and their respective masters and comes to know more about the purpose of her existence.
“Do not fret over trivial matters,” says one of the rules to which all Dolls must abide. But how could the ever-curious Emilico do so in the face of the deep secrets that the Shadows House holds?
Shadows House takes place in a mansion reminiscent of gothic horror meshed with steampunk aesthetics. The manor itself is a Victorian-era stone castle shrouded by fog high on a hill. Its imposing architecture with spiked fences resembles a prison. Inside, it is a dimly lit maze bearing heavy curtains, red rugs, drab wallpaper, finely ornamented rooms, and expensive wood furniture. Oil lamps light each room, and coal provides the heating. Soot coats the walls, but not from the fireplace—each member of the Shadow family is noble, dressed fancifully, and covered head to toe in soot. They appear like silhouette paintings of humans wearing colorful dresses and regal attire. Whenever they feel anxiety or anger, they emit soot. Once these shadow people come of age, they are granted a “living doll” or servant to take care of chores and represent their personality.
In the beginning, an enthusiastic girl awakens for her first day as a living doll. Her room bears all the similarities to a prison cell; a bed, table, run-down walls. Her master, Kate, is a prim and proper shadow with a nearly identical silhouette to the girl, eventually named Emilico. Their dynamic has more depth than meets the eye; Kate possesses the qualities Emilico lacks, and vice-versa. Grace and nobility versus happiness and compassion. Their goal is to become as one with each other as possible in order to integrate into the noble Shadows family. Their diametrically opposed personalities cause difficulties. Through their struggle to conform with the aristocracy, the manor’s oppressive class structure cracks begin to show. Surprisingly there is a considerable amount of action and thrills here. Light humor from Emilico’s enthusiastic personality balances the otherwise bleak tone. She brings enjoyment to the show, and her dynamic with Kate leads to breakthroughs in both characters.
There are five main pairings in the cast; Kate and Emilico are the primary perspectives. The dynamic between master and servant is different for each duo; parasitic, symbiotic, ambivalent, codependent, and more. All of them are compelling characters in different ways—by the end, I was emotionally attached to all of them. Their master vs. living doll relationship showcased the facets of identity a person needs to live a fulfilling life. There are life or death stakes for both the masters and servants that test their relationships. Is there one answer to the right way of forming a companionship? No, however, we see each variety portrayed; there are benefits and shortcomings to all of them. The living dolls respect the Shadow Masters almost to the point of worshipping them. In many ways, it not-so-subtly critiques modern class structures within a capitalist society. They confront how working-class people will praise the upper class, even though those people gained their power through exploiting their workers. Without the dolls’ unpaid labor, the affluent society would not function.
The Shadows House is ruled by an oppressive class structure; the lords on the third floor, the new Shadow masters on the first floor. Beneath the tiles they walk on are the Living Dolls—levels of the mansion representing social status. Rising in the ranks to achieve success requires ambition, talent, and practice. Living dolls must forgo their personality and serve the role as their master’s personality—mimicking their gestures and emotions through facial expressions. The final test, as well as a driving force of the plot, is The Debut. The pairings of young Shadow masters and dolls must prove themselves in this ominous event.
The horror of Shadows House comes from watching the seemingly pleasant living dolls treated like objects, despite looking and acting like humans. Emilico is told she is a living doll, despite looking and acting like a human. She even looks for joints to oil when she feels exhausted. It can instill fear in a brightly lit room with upbeat background music. Living dolls sleep in coffin-like beds, have no connection to the outside world, no means of escape, and know nothing except to be servants. They endure abuse, work without pay, and are practically prisoners, yet they have been conditioned to believe it is normal. Success is caused by natural talent and effort in this world, and failure is not an option.
There are characters with disabilities, and the systems of the Shadows House leave them behind. It’d be fair to say this reflects real-world issues. The ways living dolls get mistreated during the show asks thought-provoking philosophical questions. What makes a person? Is it how much they look like a human? Or does it depend on how others treat you? What determines status? Is it your appearance, your wealth, the things you own, or your property? These questions develop with time. The main thematic throughline connecting them is identity.
Both the manor, and the anime, function by its people not asking questions, but watching it only makes you ask more. Over time, we are given the puzzle pieces to put together the answers ourselves. Answers aren’t given to us. It is up to us to solve the mysteries. Each twist, reveal, and clue recontextualizes prior scenes, adding heaps upon heaps of rewatch value. These reveals are entirely reliant on showing rather than telling; the manor itself gives us clues. If we’re shown an object, a sign, a character, who is not immediately relevant, it will surely return later. Like all great mysteries, Shadows House is masterful at foreshadowing and reincorporation. It follows Chekhov’s gun rule: If you place a gun on the stage, it must eventually be shot. Much like the gun, the direction only brings our attention to details relevant to the story. Even though this adaptation departs in many ways from the manga, it ties the narrative together with connecting plot threads.
Due to the incomplete manga, this adaptation is only a portion of the whole story. For that reason, not every setup gets paid off by the end. The final three episodes are primarily anime original content, which deserves criticism. These episodes are fine, but a noticeable decline in writing quality compared to the first ten. There are plot contrivances, helpful coincidences, and convoluted motives. Overall the solid ending softened these disappointing episodes. Regardless if Shadows House receives a sequel, it succeeded in convincing me to read the manga. Although Shadows House diverges from the source material, it stands on its own merits as a great anime.
Just what did go wrong indeed…
The story is great, at least in the first 10 episodes. It is faithful (with a few changes but understandable) to the manga, and the pacing is really well. The story builds up a great mystery story with a lot of interesting unanswered questions that would make anyone wanna watch just to answer those questions.
It’s all great stuff… until cloverworks said “nah”.
Like I said, the last 3 episodes were a complete disaster. Completely disregarding the build up that the story created. It was rush, it was completely plot-armor dependent, and it was boring because there isn’t any feeling of danger or tense in the final episode.
And how it ended… Oh God. I wanna forget about it.
The characters are pretty good, at least in the first 10 episodes. The remaining 3 episodes rushed out their developments and they really got ripped off by the developments they should’ve gotten (basing from the manga). I don’t have anything much to say.
The animation, like I said, is pretty generic. It does have some good scenes here and there, but the overall direction is pretty boring for the most part. It’s just a copy-paste from the manga panels.
The music is good. The opening is not my cup of tea, but the ed is so banger that I have to rate it high just because of that. It’s so good that I’m still playing it in my playlist after a month or so of constantly playing it.
Overall, just a disappointing and forgettable anime season that I won’t recommend. If you really wanna watch this, I recommend watching only the first 10 episodes. Or much better, just read the manga.
Our story begins in a small room with a coffin-like bed. Papers of instructions and details plaster dirty walls while a small door allows access to a chunk of stale bread placed upon the dusty wooden floor. Cramped, ill-fed, and forced to work. These are the harsh living conditions of a Living Doll—the living conditions of our main character Emilico.
From the start, Emilico’s personality shines through the screen. She is a bright and cheerful young girl trying to do her best, and everyone around her is affected by her kind nature. Though one may argue that Emilico’s personality consists of traits increasingly common in a typical anime protagonist, Shadows House’s depiction of Emilico as a character is far from generic. As subject to uncomfortable living conditions, there are many times when Emilico’s identity is tested. She is looked down upon by others and is reprimanded for being herself. And when Emilico is forced to obey the rules or when she is under the control of the shadows, her bright personality is sometimes compromised. It is through this narrative that Emilico’s character isn’t simply a compilation of happy generic protagonist traits but rather an expression of the anime’s theme of power and autonomy amidst oppression.
Living among the Dolls in the Shadows House are mysterious beings referred to as Shadows. Shadows are face-less figures that the living dolls attend to. They live much more luxuriously than the living dolls and have bodies made entirely of soot. Depending on a Shadow’s mood, Shadows sometimes emit their soot from the top of their heads. This means that as the shadows go about their classy lifestyles, they tend to leave a lot of mess behind which may accumulate in the rooms they occupy, spread all throughout the house, and dust the objects around them. As expected, cleaning this mess is a part of the job of the exploited Living Dolls.
Though the Shadows are a clear representation of an abusive upper class, this anime doesn’t villainize Shadows as a whole. It doesn’t just say that the shadows are bad or that the masters of the living dolls are bad people who abuse the dolls without reason. This anime is much more complex than that and takes us through the nuances of the overall situation by making the Shadows House a microcosm of real society. The house contains various floors, and each shadow strives to attain higher power by climbing up the ranks which are representative of the floor on which they reside. It is a beautifully plotted setting that is easy to understand and that showcases how power and class work. By having a well-written structure that serves as the foundation for the narrative and involves each of the characters, Shadows House avoids shallow messaging like ‘shadows are bad’ and ‘living dolls are good’ and instead focuses on the bigger picture, portraying each character as a victim of the poor system.
With this in mind, all of the characters act in their own ways and aren’t just labelled as “friend” or “enemy.” These characters have genuine interactions as they try to navigate through the roles they are placed in. Shadows House truly makes the audience feel like every person introduced serves a purpose in the story and makes sure that each of them has their own likable traits that’ll leave you wishing they had more screen time. Even the face-less Shadows were far from lifeless or expressionless.
Most notable of the cast asides from our main character is the Shadow Kate whom Emilico is assigned to. Kate is calm and collected and finds Emilico’s cheerful behavior to be endearing. Over the course of the series, Kate and Emilico grow to be close friends that constantly encourage one another and help each other through the challenges they face. Their friendship is fun to watch, and the events they undergo lead them to develop and influence each other in interesting ways.
Presentation-wise, Shadows House doesn’t let the viewers down either. The premise, proper setting, and well-written characters are all brought together by a unique gothic aesthetic that’s embedded into every aspect of the anime. In the art, we can see it in the lacy outfits and intricate backgrounds. The Shadows House itself is a a large manor with secret doors and pillars that perfectly work with the vibe that the anime gives off. The music matches the gothic aesthetic too. The opening song is a particularly fitting instrumental. And while the ending theme is more modern, it contains choral samples that exude a mysterious, almost haunting feel. There isn’t a single aspect of the show or single frame in the series that doesn’t fit the intended style. This is a show that knows what it wants to do and executes it.
Shadows House is an anime more people should be talking about. As a show that is both fun yet thematically sound and mysterious yet socially relevant, this anime has a lot of variance in appeal. No matter what you’re looking for, Shadows House will likely have something for you to appreciate. The story which discusses power, autonomy, class, and friendship all at once, is well-built with likable characters. The expertly integrated gothic aesthetic alone sets it apart from most other anime, both in this season and in general. This is one of the most easily watchable and easily recommendable shows I have seen in a while, and I highly encourage everyone to give it a go.
5: Wonder Egg Priority
Japanese: ワンダーエッグ プライオリティ
MAL Score: 7.88
Following the suicide of her best and only friend, Koito Nagase, Ai Ooto is left grappling with her new reality. With nothing left to live for, she follows the instructions of a mysterious entity and gets roped into purchasing an egg, or specifically, a Wonder Egg.
Upon breaking the egg in a world that materializes during her sleep, Ai is tasked with saving people from the adversities that come their way. In doing so, she believes that she has moved one step closer to saving her best friend. With this dangerous yet tempting opportunity in the palms of her hands, Ai enters a place where she must recognize the relationship between other people’s demons and her own.
As past trauma, unforgettable regrets, and innate fears hatch in the bizarre world of Wonder Egg Priority, a young girl discovers the different inner struggles tormenting humankind and rescues them from their worst fears.
I had such high hopes for Wonder Egg Priority. I praised its first few episodes like it would be the best anime of the year. If only I could go back in time and prepare myself for a massive disappointment.
Before someone tells me, “You didn’t understand the symbolism and metaphors.” I understood it, but I don’t think it’s as deep as people say. The symbolism is either so blatant you barely need to do any thinking or so vague that it becomes pretentious. It’s like watching a movie while the director is breathing down your neck, telling you what every symbol, line of dialogue, and gesture means.
In my eyes, the most underwhelming art is the kind that tells you exactly how to interpret it; though writers can break this rule successfully, it must be purposeful. Wonder Egg didn’t ignore subtlety for a reason, and it did it because it’s simpler to spell everything out. The viewer can feel instant gratification for understanding a symbol, which inspires us to dig deeply into the vague and nonsensical parts—leading to theory crafting to excuse the show’s writing flaws. With only thirteen episodes, one being a recap and the thirteenth airing months later, the series bit off far more than it could chew. If we ignore everything except Wonder Egg’s movie-like technical qualities, it is a masterpiece. Scratch off the paint, and underneath, all you’ll find is hack writing exploiting people with mental illnesses and trauma.
Spoilers incoming, but you’ll thank me later because you won’t have to sit through the show to discover its idiotic twists. I’ll try to explain the show to those of you whose brains died trying to understand what was supposed to be the hamfisted twist near the end. Trigger warnings include suicide, self-harm, pedophilia, child abuse, and sexual assault.
Entering Wonder Egg, I had no expectations. They hardly advertised it, and the plot summary was mysterious. “The story of four girls who find eggs.” It sounded intriguing. From the start, it introduced our main character, a 14-year-old girl with two different colored eyes. She was cleverly named Ohto Ai. While aimlessly wandering through her town, Ai finds an egg with numbers stamped on it. What could it possibly be? When Ai falls asleep, she enters a dream world that resembles her middle school. Things immediately become dire as an invisible man yells at her to break the egg—once she cracks the shell, it expands and breaks to reveal a girl was inside.
Angry CGI gnomes wielding knives chase after the two girls. These creatures are named “seeno evils” because they symbolize any bystander who allowed bullying or harassment; this is the kind of on-the-nose symbolism the show is known for, rather than designing a creature that conveys the idea. The writer just named it the thing because it’s easier. The seeno evils wear demonic masks, wielding knives, and leave a blood-red paint trail, like generic horror game monsters. Monsters can physically harm Ai within the dream world—those wounds won’t go away when she wakes up, similar to the horror classic A Nightmare on Elm Street. The dream world has a final boss called a “Wonder Killer” representing the person who tormented the ‘egg girl’ in the real world—they are an oversimplification of cruel adults: abusers, pedophiles, stalkers, and other creeps. There’s no nuance to them, don’t expect complex villains. Ai assists the girl by clobbering the monstrosities with a large colorful sword resembling a Kingdom Hearts weapon. The girl who Ai rescues has a name, but you won’t remember it because, as every egg girl, she is present for half an episode at most and given the bare minimum characterization.
This is Wonder Egg’s plot structure; in most episodes, Ai, or one of her three friends who later get introduced, enters a dream world to save an egg girl from their tormenter. Every egg girl is 14-years-old and a suicide victim. The heroines, Ai, Neiru, Rika, and Momoe, defend the egg girls to resurrect a friend who committed suicide. Every girl they protect brings them closer to achieving their goal. Each girl’s dreamscapes are the location where their friend, or family, passed away. The victims are represented by a statue, frozen in place moments before their death. The girls buy the eggs from two mannequin men who call themselves Accas; they explain various aspects of the dream world to create an internal logic; that way, it doesn’t feel like an asspull when a character jumps 30 feet in the air. The Accas are the author’s mouthpiece because he cannot trust us to think on our own. Their gender essentialist philosophy makes them unreliable allies, and that’s welcomed character depth. However, their ideologies are never criticized within the story. Instead, they are reified. One of their gender essentialist quotes goes as follows: “Boys’ and girls’ suicides mean different things. Men are goal-oriented, women are emotion-oriented. Women are impulsive and easily influenced by others’ voices.” This is blatantly untrue, and suggesting otherwise is stupid and harmful.
The heroines struggle with personal turmoil, such as forbidden love, grief, regret, self-loathing, and more. Throughout their interactions with the egg girls and conquering trauma, they confront their problems. While a shallow, one-dimensional archetype, each dream’s Wonder Killer is animated beautifully and brought to life with the best fights in TV anime. The production is on par with Jujutsu Kaisen and Demon Slayer. Though the egg girls are suicide victims, there isn’t enough time to shape them into real people, so Wonder Egg uses a tactic to make us care for them. Designing a cute character design. There’s no need to write a deep character when you can make her cute then say, “She committed suicide,” or “She was abused.” It has the same effect as putting an adorable puppy in a depressing situation—you’d be a monster if you didn’t feel sympathy for it. If you want to scare the audience straight, then it works purely on the basis of the shock factor, like a stunningly animated Public Service Announcement. But you have to admit, PSAs aren’t very well written.
In all seriousness, throwing in sensitive topics such as mental illness, suicide, and writers must handle sexual assault with respect and care. Wonder Egg treats them with the sensitivity of a sledgehammer. It doesn’t feel deserved when the director throws in shots of a girl’s dead body, with her head smashed into a splatter of blood on the pavement. It’s overly indulgent. One of the worst scenes showed a one-off character getting raped on screen. The writer plays with fire, not caring who he burns in the process. It’s no surprise that Wonder Egg’s loudest critics are the ones who’ve experienced the trauma that it brazenly uses to startle the audience. Gratuitous violence and high-quality art does not make a story deeper. Trying to excuse the meticulous attention to detail put into drawing a dead girl’s foot only leads to pretentious navel-gazing.
Wonder Egg has mastered the art of emotional manipulation in this way. Of course, I am not saying you cannot make depressing stories featuring cute girls. Look at Madoka Magica, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Princess Tutu. They deal with suicide, sexual assault, death, and other heavy topics. Not to mention, the show copied Madoka’s spirit gems which the girls use to summon adorable Pokemon-like guardians. Wonder Egg’s issue is that it doesn’t have enough time to make its extraneous characters more than two-dimensional victims, and its understanding of mental illness is shallow. If you take away the cute character designs, odds are people would have a much harder time sympathizing with them. Each egg girl describes their reason for suicide; some bold-facedly says, “I was repeatedly assaulted.”
The script is so awkwardly alien it feels like you’re watching a PSA or an afterschool special for teenagers, rather than believable people with trauma. Perhaps they grew weary of writing suicide victims who resemble real people, reflecting problems with society and the economy, because most of the egg girls state they committed suicide for ridiculous reasons. Such as, ‘I want to be with my dead pop idol,” “The ghosts told me to,” and “I did it because my cult leader said so.” Although it could happen in real life, they far surpass the point of relatability. I’d almost laugh if it weren’t so exploitative of people who cope with mental illness and suicidal thoughts. It’s astonishing how quickly the show desensitizes you to suicide; it becomes so inconsequential that Ai straight-up asks an egg girl why she killed herself, no preamble. The girl said she saw ghosts—so Ai thought it was appropriate to reference The Sixth Sense. The whole thing gets played off as a joke. Suicide. Joke. What is the correlation? Do you see how this is a total nightmare? It appeals to the same kind of people who disingenuously say they like “Dark humor” when they only want to offend people in reality.
On the other side, the main characters have plenty more time for development.
Perhaps the most fleshed-out character of the four was Rika. Her story is one of redemption. Despite being young, she was a junior idol who dealt with fans regularly. Her biggest fan was Cheimi, a girl who spent all her money on seeing Rika and giving her gifts. Eventually, Rika discovered the girl was shoplifting to afford gifts, so she made an irrational decision to stop her. She insulted the girl by saying she could never be friends with a fan and would be “Embarrassed to be seen with a fatty.” Cheimi developed an eating disorder and died after starving herself to death. She said the cruel things seemed to reveal what Rika thought; they weren’t just made-up insults to make Chiemi leave. We saw her, and she was a big girl, then she starved herself because Rika body-shamed her. There are plenty of good ways to prevent a fan from visiting an idol. Insulting them isn’t one. But Rika understands the weight of her actions. Driving Chiemi to suicide leaves Rika regretful and self-loathing; she reflects on these emotions as she cuts herself with a razor beside a mirror. Do you get it? She is self-reflecting, next to a mirror. The MIRROR is a SYMBOL for her self-reflection. Seemingly to mock us, Rika’s weapon is a giant box cutter. She cuts herself with a box cutter, a weapon she uses against herself to fight her trauma. Do you get it? Shall I explain it to you again?
In the seventh episode, Rika’s character arc peaks. She confronts her feelings of self-loathing on her birthday while searching for a father she never met. The problem with this episode wasn’t just the unsubtle symbolism. It is how Rika’s self-harm gets treated. Clearly, she self-harms to cope with things—and it bothered me how the episode framed Rika stopping self-harming as positive growth. It’s a good thing she stops, even if she relapses, but that’s typically not how it is in real life. I’ll admit I went through a period in my life that I self-harmed to cope with a difficult circumstance. And I’d be lying if I said it goes away entirely—even after years of treatment. Framing it as a step in her character development ladder is dismissive rather than a long and challenging process. It shows a lack of understanding on the part of the writer.
Perhaps the most questionable part of Rika’s character arc was how a few times it is implied that Rika had sex with adults, but why? The probable answer is that the story restricted itself to a mere eleven episodes. Why would they include such a harmful topic like pedophilia concerning a central character, then not address it at all? One could argue the dream world allows Rika to conquer her inner demons, ala the Person franchise, which is true, but not enough to justify an unnecessary and painful aspect.
Within the dreams, the girls are stronger, but their injuries stay when they wake up. Rika got a giant cut on her arm in the seventh episode, but it disappeared when she woke up. The internal logic seems to fall apart whenever it’s convenient. They attempted to make rules in the first few episodes: Kill the monster, save the girl, then once the bell rings, it ends. That’s not longer important. The heroines use anything as a super-powered weapon, not just their designated swords or guns. Though I was frustrated with Rika’s mental illness’s poor handling, her mother’s relationship was perhaps the most empathetic part of the show. The end of her episode had a poignant message; love your parents, if they’re worth it.
I want to praise the show for Momoe Sawaki, one of the few respectful portrayals of a transgender character in anime. She confronts true-to-life problems transgender people face integrating into society as her true gender. Her friend fell in love with her, but Momoe “Got scared and pushed her away” because she was uncomfortable. Note, it wasn’t anyone’s fault. Inevitably, this led the girl to suicide; This is one of Momoe’s most significant obstacles. Her egg girls are all lesbians in the dream world, or they mistake her for a man, except for one. I wouldn’t say I like how the show portrays its only lesbian interactions as predatory. Still, it could be worse. They’re attracted to her because she appears handsome and dresses masculinely, despite being feminine on the inside. The Wonder Killers that Momoe fights are typically pedophiles; her fights are symbolic for her claiming her true gender and rejecting the patriarchy. Her dream worlds were perhaps the most straight-forward.
There was a time I didn’t like her, though. In the bowling alley, Momoe jokingly said, if you don’t let us bowl, “We might kill ourselves without it.” I dislike people who joke about killing themselves to get what they want—even though they exist among highly privileged people. Chances are this won’t bother most people, but it is a major annoyance for me; whoever wrote this joke should’ve considered talking to real people with mental illness. It’s another unfortunate reminder that Wonder Egg doesn’t understand the people that it’s story is about—rather it has the understanding of a parent’s obtuse understanding of their depressed child. Momoe is wholly unlike Neiru, the most complicated of the four heroines.
Neiru Aonuma is a quiet and reserved super-genius who owns a company. She was created in a lab, has no parents, and no friends except a comatose girl. Her circumstances are so unbelievable I found her the hardest one to relate to; she seemed to belong in a Sci-Fi show. Her sister stabbed her, then jumped off a bridge. The reason why she is fighting in the egg world is to forget her sister. It’s not until episode nine that she becomes outwardly unlikeable. She invites her friends to her home (part of her company’s building), introduces them to her comatose friend, then says she’ll unplug her life support right now. Of course, her friends are distraught. They don’t want to watch someone die. In response, Neiru says, “I didn’t… ask you to take a field trip here.” No, she did ask them to come; she just wasn’t honest about why. The writer rushed the whole thing. It introduced new concepts and far-fetched ideas; they showed that the Accas could record the dreams, Neiru’s Plati society’s existence, and its ambiguous connection to the Accas. As it rushed through content, it became apparent there would only be one season. If you don’t understand what’s happening by the eighth episode, don’t worry; the recap explains all of the symbolism for you.
Comparatively, Ai received less development despite being the primary character. Her friend Koito committed suicide due to bullying—a typical sad story told in many PSAs geared towards kids. Her classmates harassed Koito because her teacher Mr. Sawaki gave her ‘special treatment.’ Due to the show’s prevalent theme of not trusting adults, it is glaringly obvious that Mr. Sawaki is a suspicious figure. He’s dating Ai’s mom to get closer to her; Ai saw him getting intimate with Koito, so she has been awkward around him, and now she suddenly likes him for unclear reasons. The thing that bothers me about Ai’s relationship with Sawaki is that he blatantly grooms her—like the other young girls who are in love with male adults (And yes, this becomes a trend), it seems irrational. Ai is the quiet outsider, allowing the audience an avatar to connect with the fantastical setting. The truth is, we don’t have enough details to enter her headspace, unlike the other girls. When Ai saw how Sawaki painted Koito, she associated it with their mutual love. Ai believed if Sawaki painted her, they would form a similar bond. Their problematic relationship gets promptly brushed past until the twelfth episode to make room for the other characters, lore dumps, and unnecessary exposition. In episode twelve, Ai confronted different versions of herself from other worlds and predictably fought Sawaki in the dream world. The writers introduced totally new concepts and ignored previously established logic. They aimed for a profound conclusion like Evangelion’s final episode but it landed closer to Darling in The FranXX’s clusterfuck of an ending.
By the eleventh episode, Wonder Egg jumped the shark. It added an entirely new villain, a schoolgirl with the head of a butterfly, and it replaced meandering dialogue with gory ultra-violence. Episode eleven shifts perspective to developing the two Accas. You know. Because they’re important, right? Their backstory focuses on their lives as scientists; for no reason whatsoever, they created an artificial human girl. Somehow the show ripped off both the Matrix and Ghost in The Shell in one scene.
The girl looked like a hideous bleached raisin. Less than a minute later, it turned into a 14-year-old girl, designed to look and act painfully adorable. She names herself Frill. In a better show, they’d use this as an opportunity to critique the male writer/director for designing a dozen cute female characters with prepackaged traits to be readily marketable. But no, the two men raise Frill for a couple of years, then they neglect her. She develops a mental illness, murders one of the guy’s wife, and consequently, they throw her in a basement for years. Acca physically beats the girl on screen, and it gets framed as though she deserved it. However, it was he who created then neglected her. The show implied she caused Acca’s daughter to commit suicide, gratuitously shown on screen. With no logical evidence, the man grabs Frill and burns her to death. The anime added her for two reasons: To show how the Accas are bad guys (which we already knew), and for sadistic entertainment that’s more befitting a series like Magical Girl Site.
I didn’t even get to the part about Frill controlling the dream world all along. At the last minute, it is all revealed to be a simulation designed to torture young girls. What is the message here? Don’t create artificial life and let two mansplainers raise it? Beyond faux-intellectual theory crafting, there’s no value in this exercise in futility. To any audience members with mental illnesses, I strongly advise you to avoid this like the plague. If you want to feel shocked, disgusted, and insulted, this is a good choice.
Wonder Egg Priority was a passion project created by young aspiring artists from across the world. Frankly, their work paid off because this is one of the best animated TV anime I’ve ever seen. Due to the pandemic, the staff worked remotely, but the lack of management led to them working far past their deadlines with little to no pay—even causing staff members to need hospitalization. Ironically, Cloverworks is a horrible studio that exploited young artists to create an anime ABOUT cruel and untrustworthy adults. The final episode will get released in a few months because the studio tortured its staff, but no polished animation will make-up for this show’s deeply ingrained flaws.
Edit: I watched the final episode and it was horrid. It somehow made the show even worse. Do not watch it, just let the original ending be one of life’s little mysteries!
I have rewatched Wonder Egg Priority multiple times in an effort to organize my conflicting feelings towards it. On one hand, it has beautiful visuals, an intriguing aura, and a great first couple episodes. On the other hand, it has shallow concepts, a messy narrative, a lack in direction, problematic messages, poor character development, exploitation of sensitive themes, and a failed execution of ideas. Yeah, the cons definitely outweigh the pros with this one.
Wonder Egg markets itself as an odd yet beautiful dream of self-acceptance full of imagery and symbolism. The first scene of the anime introduces us to our protagonist, Ai, in the middle of the street when a strange voice taking form of a firefly brings her to an underground arcade and gives her an egg. Breaking the egg transports Ai to a surreal world that slowly reveals itself as a danger zone where she is tasked to protect a person called a “Wonder” from a creature called a “Wonder Killer”, a representation of the person’s struggles or trauma. Ai then meets friends who also take part on their own journeys to defeat Wonder Killers. Every character has their own backstory and a set of convictions that affect how they act and fight against trauma. It’s a very original and mysterious Ikuhara-esque concept that aims to tackle how we overcome our issues. But with each episode, the anime gets more and more problematic until it completely falls apart.
One of Wonder Egg’s main fallbacks is its use of imagery. Ironically, imagery is the whole appeal of the show and the reason why I admittedly had high hopes for it. But over time, it got repetitive, and I realized that it was due to the constricted nature by which imagery in Wonder Egg is presented.
The wonder killers (victim’s trauma) are always actual beings. There’s the abusive teacher, the abusive teacher #2, the abusive coach, and so on. Not only is this the same thing over and over again, but I find this pattern problematic because when we talk about sensitive topics like self-harm and suicide in real life, trauma doesn’t always take form of one specific event or attacker.
We can see how this issue affects the story in one of the episodes that focuses on Momoe, a tomboyish girl learning to deal with society’s ideas of gender and appearance. Fitting with the theme, the person Momoe was tasked to save in that episode was a non-conforming girl who identified as a boy. This is great. Having Momoe pair up with someone who is also subjected to society’s standards is a very thematic plot choice that allows the opportunity for Momoe to maybe learn something about herself from their encounter. I thought, “Cool, so this whole dream sequence is going to focus on how they accept themselves despite societal pressures.” Perhaps the wonder killer would be a representation of society that they could beat together.
But no. Instead, the Wonder Killer was a rapist… which I found completely random. Yes, rape is an issue. But is it a good issue to poorly tie into the topic of gender norms for no deep reason? Absolutely not. Why suddenly insert a rapist when the topic isn’t about dealing with rape? Doing this just feels like the show is forcibly inserting rapists everywhere. It also feels a lot like the show is just digressing from the initial topic at hand.
If Wonder Egg wants to tackle challenging societal norms, then the issue should be society itself. But this anime consistently uses one specific attacker to encompass the whole issue. In doing this, it only focuses on face-value encounters and makes it seem like the entire problem lies within just one superficial enemy or trauma. It is a wasted opportunity that hinders Wonder Egg from using imagery in a broader way. Had they used the dream sequence in order to symbolize society and its issues as a whole, the anime would have better succeeded in connecting to the bigger picture. Instead, Wonder Egg’s imagery is too narrow, relying on a single person to put the blame on.
Object symbolism in this anime doesn’t come with much meaning either. The firefly from the first episode is seen every once and while but doesn’t represent anything. It could’ve been any other bug or small object, and everything would’ve remained the same. Ai has heterochromia which is supposed to show how different she is and tie into the fact that she was made fun of in school. But then the anime contradicts this symbolism by introducing another character with heterochromia who was considered smart and beautiful rather than someone who was made fun of. All of the main girls have different weapons when they enter the dream world, and the show even draws attention to this when Ai first fights a wonder killer with one of her friends. But the weapons barely catered to their backgrounds OR only referenced one small part about their personality. It would be easy to assume that the creators just randomly gave them something cool that would look good with their character design. For the most part, this isn’t a huge issue. But it’s disappointing because the anime sets itself up to be something deeper and because most of these ideas take place in a dream world that’s supposed to be some representation of reality. I love analyzing and reading between the lines, and I thought that Wonder Egg would make me do that with its unusual concepts. But it’s mostly just pseudo-symbolic repetition without thought.
Despite this shallow repetition and narrow imagery, the girls-fighting-against-wonder-killers formula was still a solid one that produced decent results in the beginning of the anime. We got to see girls be badass and overcome their trauma. Everything was running smoothly, and there weren’t any big plot issues. But that’s exactly why when Wonder Egg abandoned this formula, the narrative completely collapsed.
For some reason, the creators of the anime couldn’t stick to one idea. So before we even hit halfway through the series, they started playing around with the messages of the anime. One line that shifted the tone of the narrative was “Boys’ and girls’ suicides mean different things. Men are goal-oriented, and women are emotion-oriented. Women are impulsive and easily influenced by others’ voices.” Suddenly, Wonder Egg was no longer a show that focused on girls simply to show their growth and strength. It became a show that focused on girls because apparently ‘they’re emotional and easily manipulated’. Tying those stereotypical ideas into suicide was a horrible choice. The show tries to make sense of it later on in the anime, but it just ends up being rushed. So the lines came off like something that the writers genuinely believed in.
A lot of the smaller dialogue started relying on similar gender stereotypes as well. For example, some quotes from the anime are “Men who ask women for money are all fake” and “A beautiful woman never needs a wallet.” Both of these lines come from Rika, one of Ai’s friends who is involved in acts of self-harm and lives in a single-parent-household with an alcoholic mother. Knowing this, I assume that the dialogue was meant to show the mindset of a child from a troubled home with absent parental figures. However, I don’t understand why they had to be so stereotypical. There are multiple other ways to display a person’s mindset without having to rely on problematic dialogue. The fact that these messages are repeated throughout the show makes it feel like the anime is exploiting Rika’s background and using these lines more as shock factor rather than to show her growth. This is even more evident when Rika implies that she hasn’t gained a sense of self-acceptance.
After one of her Wonder Killer battles, Rika says “Even if it means hurting myself, I’m going to live.” Anyone who knows how dangerous self-harm can be should understand why this line is a big issue. Not only did the anime actively promote self-harm, but it also marketed it as growth.
Now I like to give shows the benefit of the doubt, so I thought that the line might have just been a part of the story. Maybe the anime is self-aware of how incorrect it is and is only using it to build bigger themes. I tried to think of it as a means for Rika’s characterization to maybe emphasize her troubled background. But I recently rewatched that episode and saw no indication of that line having a deeper connection to Rika’s family life. In fact, that line was part of the last episode of the series that fully focused on Rika, so the anime never clears up the way it poorly handled self-harm. Though I’ve tried to think positively, I cannot find anything to justify that piece of scriptwriting. It blatantly views self-harm in a positive light to the point that I can no longer call this an anime about self-acceptance.
The creators also began flooding the show with too many ideas and cheap plot twists, most of which were crammed towards the end of the anime where the writers didn’t have enough time to cover them all. New antagonists and backstories were introduced in the last few episodes of the series, unnecessary changes to the storyline happened at every corner, and random events were inserted just for the sake of shock value rather than actual relevance to the overarching plot.
Wonder Egg even introduces inter-relational conflicts that never get fully explored. One example of this is with Neiru, one of Ai’s friends. Neiru has a tense relationship with her sister, and when she tells Ai about this, we learn about the sequence of events that led to their complex sisterhood. But the details were incomplete. The anime set it up as a mystery to unfold as the story went along. What really happened? Why did her sister act the way that she did? Even after watching all twelve episodes of the anime, I still don’t know. The show just brings up the issue but never resolves it.
When I expressed these concerns, fans argued that there would be more episodes or at least more content to close things up properly. Though a special broadcast in June has been announced, I highly doubt that the franchise will be able to tackle all of the issues found in the anime and tie all the loose strings together in a twenty-minute episode. The storyline is already a mess and there would be too many relationships to cover. This is a clear production, time management, and story building mistake on the studio’s part. And the need for a special broadcast only emphasizes their shortcomings.
Amidst all of these flaws, I admit that there are still some things Wonder Egg does well. For example, the directing really stands out in some of the quieter scenes of the anime. From the moment we’re introduced to Ai and the world of Wonder Egg Priority, there’s this calming aura of quiet eeriness that pulls you in. The atmosphere is immersive and will keep you hooked to find out what happens next in the series.
Wonder Egg also has stunning visuals. The animation looks like it came straight out of KyoAni with consistent and fluid drawings. The color palette is unique with bold colors that grab your attention, and the artists use this with a good understanding of contrast and tone. Flexible and eye-catching, Wonder Egg’s art is one of the few parts of the anime that remained consistent throughout its twelve-episode-run. Paired with the messy plotline, some may call Wonder Egg an anime that chooses style over substance. And they aren’t wrong.
Looking at it as a whole, Wonder Egg was an imperfect but cool idea that ended up being too ambitious for its own good. It introduced too many plot points without properly bringing them together which affected the messaging and made the show feel less cohesive. While watching this anime, I often found myself wondering whether the creators even knew what they were doing. It seemed like they couldn’t decide the direction that they wanted to go, so they just let the story jump around until they found something that evoked some sort of emotion from the audience. It’s messy writing that falls short in multiple aspects of story building and fails to connect to the initial topic of self-acceptance. Putting aside the solid beginning and fun visuals, I can’t find much to recommend about this show. And though I’m frustrated that we’ll never see how this anime could’ve gone with proper execution, I’ll probably just remember it as another one of CloverWorks’ cringeworthy letdowns this season.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
Initially the premise seems like the backstory for a high school set drama, however this quickly shifts during the first episode. At the start the protagonist, Ai Ooto, goes full hikkikomori due to personal issues, some of the issues include a close friend committing suicide and Ooto generally being ostracized while at school. She lives her days full of regret and dreaming about her friend, Ooto knows she should have stood up her for her friend who was being bullied, especially since it was because her friend protected her that she became a target. All of this is just the prologue to the actual story which begins when Ooto picks up an egg which asks her if she wants to change her future.
The story really launches at this point, the audience is introduced to a dreamworld full of the regrets and the personification of inner problems that suicidal girls face, Ooto is given the task to save the girls who are in the eggs. She obtains eggs from a gacha machine and cracks them open, afterwards she needs to find a way to solve their regrets or help them overcome their inner problems. More is revealed about this later on, the plot twists involving the gacha eggs and the system are really well done and the messages the show deliver are executed in a completely satisfactory way. Every important scene is full of symbolism, this is definitely the type of show to watch with your full attention, it is also highly recommended that you pause and reflect between each episode. There are also a lot of heavier themes in place mixed with the lighthearted atmosphere, the themes are handled well and do not conflict with the more easy-going atmosphere outside of the dreamworld events. The director very effectively balanced the show so that it was never oppressively dark or painfully edgy but still carried the serious tone that should be expected given the themes and subject matter. Overall, the story is, until its ending, fairly well executed and one of the most original ones in recent anime, it tells a wonderfully crafted story of self redemption and overcoming inner turmoil, it gets a 7 out of 10 for its creativity and originality but it loses points for failed execution near the end.
The artwork is movie quality, it does not feel like a TV anime at all, every single scene looks like something out of an anime movie. From the background art which looks lifelike at times due do some absolutely amazing tracing work, to the food which looks like it belongs in a Ghibli film with its detail and rich colors, everything in the show has a lot of love and care put into it to an extent that is shocking for a TV anime. Most of the transition scene backgrounds, such as Ooto walking in the rain or the flowers in the fields can very well work as wallpaper for a 4k computer background, it cannot be understated exactly how detailed all the art is for this series. The symbolism is reminiscent of Mawaru Penguindrum and Madoka, while the action is about as fluid as Mob Psycho despite the massively more detailed character design. With a combination of rather unique looking enemies, excellent fight Choreography and cuts during major attacks, Wonder Egg Priority might have some of the best action scenes among recent anime even though action is not even the main focus given the nature of the story.
Character designs for all the girls were quite well done as well, the studio used a very saturated vivid color pallet for each character which can conflict with lighter backgrounds, however the characters actually contrasted in quite a beautiful way with the scenery present. The girls had unique traits such as a variety of skin tones, eyes colors, hair highlights and subtle differences in body type that set them apart from each other in a bold way, the studio did not use cheap tricks like recycling the character model with different hair colors or overdoing the body type differences between the girls to differentiate them. Every girl also has a unique outfit, texting style and accessories that convey their personality, an interesting weapon in the dream world which reflects their trauma, and they all have some of the most detailed reaction facial animations for when the girls are tense, excited, smug, frustrated, upset. Its worth adding that very few shortcuts were used like blank faces during distant convos, characters speaking without being seen, and there was next to no CGI at used at all for character movements despite the intense detail in their character design. Now the combat animation wasn’t perfect in that characters did have a lot of transition cuts during fights, however it was done in a tasteful way that actually added a lot of impact to the hard hits, blood splatter, knock back effects present. Wonder Egg Priority also managed to achieve something only a handful of anime have ever achieved, true horror during a fight scene, anime by design is pretty terrible at conveying a sense of horror due to how difficult it is to make a scene looks revolting, but that crocodile and butterfly scene really does it.
Overall, the presentation of Wonder Egg Priority is spectacular, the show essentially has no notable flaws and exceeds expectations in every way, there is nothing present or lacking that lowers its score and due to this it receives a very rare perfect score for its art production values.
The sound: 8
Interesting OP, an ED that closed each episode perfectly, sometimes in a hilarious tonal shift, but I maintain that it was perfect, the show also highly effective sound effects for fights. The OP itself including both the sound and the visuals really fill the audience with a strong sense of familiarity, it genuinely feels like the richness of daily life and all those small moments we take for granted being highlighted in the form of a warm and slow song. The background music soundtrack by itself was not that impressive, unlike other shows this series is compared to, for example Madoka Magica. However, on its own, it still complements the show well enough, and its memorable, therefore an 8 feels like a fair appraisal of the music.
The cast is all female, and they are all focused on saving someone they knew that committed suicide, this binds them together and gives them a common background. Outside of the common tie, these girls come from entirely different socio economic and familial backgrounds and they all have entirely different, but complementary personalities. Every girl is well fleshed out and this anime feels like an inverse Bechdel test in ways, there are next to no men present, if they are present, they are either a source of trouble or irrelevant to the cast. In short, the cast is very similar to most magical girl shows; however it goes a step above and beyond in both their characterization and their distinct designs, all of the girls have an important story to tell and they are all in this important journey together.
As noted, before, men in the show are usually portrayed as bystanders or active antagonists, there is not much character development for them except one man who was very relevant for the protagonist. This is a notable weakness for the show, the antagonists are not really solidly fleshed out, the final antagonist was thrown in without any significant foreshadowing. It can be argued that the system itself and the girls inner problems can substitute as an antagonist, but its always nice to have a well characterized antagonist with their own motivations and goals that are clearly explained, while a true antagonist is sort of provided near the end of the series it felt a bit too rushed in to be counted. Despite missing a properly built up antagonist character, the main cast does grow together and complement each other well, they have their disagreements, conflicting opinions on whether or not they really have to undertake the egg gacha, and their moments of coming together after a major event. Overall, the main cast do feel like real characters with a lot of substance and depth, with multiple motivations for their actions and solid foundation behind the friendship they form with each other. The characters are a solid 8, it would have been better if there were solid antagonists and if the secondary cast such as family or the girls being saved had some more interesting moments, but the strength and development of the main cast was still quite well done.
Between the exceptional visuals, the original plot, interesting cast, and initial great direction, Wonder Egg Priority was easily among the 3 best shows this season. This is despite the fact that some of the most well awaited and popular sequels came out in the same season. Every episode was a fun ride, and it was entertaining to come up with theories on where the show was going to go and ending up being right or wrong. It ranks very high on the enjoyment scale overall, definitely one of the most fun anime in recent history, probably the most fun original anime in years.
The production values, direction, story, cast all being excellent lead to this show being given a 9 overall. This was one of the best recent anime that made, definitely one of the best original anime in years, it had an excellent approach a lot of hard issues without making the story edgy and outside of the last leg of the story it was executed with perfect direction. If you enjoy visually impressive abstract shows with a psychological thriller plot, Wonder Egg Priority is right for you.
4: Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia
English: Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia
Japanese: Fate/Grand Order -絶対魔獣戦線バビロニア-
MAL Score: 7.94
A.D. 2016, the foundations of humanity have been incinerated by the Mage King Solomon. Chaldea, a secret mages organization with the mission to preserve humanity’s future, foresaw mankind’s extinction in 2015. Thus commenced the operation to repair the Singularities in history caused by Holy Grails dispersed across time and space—Operation Grand Order.
Using the Rayshift time travel technology, Chaldea’s last master Ritsuka Fujimaru and his demi-servant Mash Kyrielight have traveled to and resolved six Singularities. Now, they depart for their most dangerous destination yet: a civilization in the Age of Gods, B.C. 2655 Mesopotamia. Ritsuka and Mash soon discover that Demonic Beasts roam the land, attacking people and towns. Amidst chaos and terror lies humanity’s last defense—Uruk, a fortress city that acts as the frontline for the battle against the beasts. The battlefront is commanded by none other than King Gilgamesh, the King of Heroes, who sought aid from Heroic Spirits and took on the role of a mage to protect his city.
Along with Gilgamesh and the summoned servants, Ritsuka and Mash must protect Uruk against the magical beasts’ onslaught and defeat the Three Goddess Alliance who aims to eradicate humankind; all the while, a greater threat looms over Uruk, preparing for its awakening.
Simply put, it’s one of the best game-anime adaptations I’ve ever seen. This isn’t just my Type-Moon bias talking. The show packs a punch. Unfortunately, due to fears about the complexities of the Fate series, many people did not get to experience this gem.
To calm any concerns, Babylonia tells the story of the 7th Fate/Grand Order singularity and is able to be watched and enjoyed without having seen or played the previous ones. The singularities are pretty self-contained and until Camelot, the 6th singularity, which will be receiving a series of films this year, the story doesn’t really hold much weight anyway.
You will need to have watched Fate/Grand Order: First Order OVA which will act as a prequel of sorts to the entire game, as well as FGO Babylonia episode 0. Both of these will give much needed context for newcomers and enable you to get the full experience.
For a video game to anime transition one of the most important things is how a studio can bring to life talking heads on a screen while remaining faithful to the game’s story and tone. FGO’s story is told in VN narrative, yet Cloverworks were able to masterfully recreate and expand upon powerful scenes we’ve come to know and love from the game. The pacing throughout feels excellent. There’s never a wasted moment. If there’s not a battle going on, there’s a slice of life moment that really adds to the characters and gives them characterisation. The only negative comment I’ll make on pacing is that episodes 19-20 feel a bit on the rushed side. There were some powerful moments from the game that did not make it into the anime. This could be intentional, could also be a result of having 21 episodes instead of 24.
In addition to superb writing, characterisation and world-building, Cloverworks have put together some of the best animation of the decade. In fact, many battles in the anime rival the popular “unlimited budget works” of Ufotable. There are several contenders for fight of the year within the show and CW can’t be commended enough for their work here.
Other technical notes include amazing sound design, gorgeous background art, consistent character models and an amazing OST.
In conclusion, FGO:Babylonia is a criminally slept on anime that if it had been made by Ufotable, would have seen insane levels of popularity. Due to concerns about the watch order of the fate series and the fact it’s cloverworks, a lot of people slept on this. Do not make the same mistake. Give it a shot, you won’t regret it. FGO Babylonia gets 10 grails out of 10.
To get the obvious out of the way, viewers don’t need to absolutely watch the previous Fate shows or play the game. Sure, it can enhance the experience but Fate Grand Order is perfectly watchable if it’s your first entry into the Fate universe; although I do recommend watching at least the prologue or OVAs. Taking place in the A.D. 2016, Fate Grand Order Babylonia chronicles the adventures of Ritsuka Fujimaru and his partner Mash. Their journey takes them to Mesoptoamia where they make sinister discoveries. Fate Grand Order Babylonia is designed to celebrate the game but also tell a story with mythological elements and uniting heroes for the beloved fans.
And when watching a Fate show, you have to remember that there’s many terminologies to remember, some that imperative for the show’s overall purpose. Fate Grand Order also personifies its cast that makes each and every single character stand out in some way. With such a large cast, the anime did have to make work to fit the overall tone of the story. Director Toshifumi Akai knew the monumental task at hand and had to make this into at least a 2-cour show. With 21 episodes, Fate Grand Order sets sail from the first episode to showcase the human side of our main leads, Ritsuka and Mash. As with most Fate-related shows, character chemistry is an important part to connect the cast together. Ritsuka and Mash shares a relationship built on their companionship. They share a common interest with but also looks after each other’s’ well-being. Essentially, this pair is a living proof of how important trust can bring two characters together. Ritsuka himself also goes on to become a central figure to dealing with the conflict at Uruk, a city led by the famed and prideful king, Gilgamesh.
Oh, you’ve heard of Gilgamesh right? Maybe you’ve heard him from one of the previous Fate franchises or perhaps from the actual historical king in ancient textbooks.
He’s the ruler of Uruk and as you may expect, he is a central figure in this iconic city from Mesopotamian mythology. Compared to his other incarnations, Gilgamesh still retains some traits of his character but in this show, he is more compassionate and caring towards his followers. The alliance he forms with Ritsuka and Mash also shows that unlike his previous characters, Gilgamesh realizes he cannot accomplish everything solely by himself. In essence, this version of Gilgamesh takes on a more heroic role compared to the “Big Bad” he made himself famous for in previous animated franchise. Taking a step back though, you should also come to understand other characters such as Ana, Merlin, and the Three Goddess.
The three Goddess is a trinity of beings with extraordinary abilities. Consisting of the members Ereshikgal, Quetzalcoatl, and Gorgon, they represent absolute power and a unity of divine strength. The first half of the show focuses on Ritsuka and Mash trying to defeat and recruit them as part of Gilgamesh’s grand plan. While the fight themselves are predictable by story nature, it’s still very important to understand the purpose. Individually, these Goddesses have unique character personalities such as Ereshikgal’s pride or Quetzalcoatl’s playfulness. Character bond between these Goddesses and main protagonist Ritsuka is also important as Ereshikgal grows closer to him and vice versa.
But let’s also not forget other prominent characters such as the famed Ishtar. Making herself famous with her “Rin-face” and similar personality, she plays an integral role in the main story. One of the fascinating things about Fate Grand Order Babylonia is being able to get us to invest into its cast, and for this instance, Ishtar is a breakout character. She exemplifies the behavior of a Servant but also crosses into the realm of humanity with her behavior. It’s one of the more curious elements of the show that get us to see what separates humans and Servants. This is somewhat opposite of Enkidu, a Servant who values animals and nature more than humanity. Every Servant in this show is an enigma, with more lore that are explored in the game. But as a setback, the anime adaptation had to make time and cut loose some background storytelling. That just can’t be helped.
Fear not as I’m sure most of the audience should be able to understand the fundamentals of Fate Grand Order even if you’ve never touched the game before. The anime does an excellent job at characterizing the main cast such as Ritsuka. He’s even more aware of his decisions with logic and acts more human under extreme circumstances. Other characters such as Mash gets an upgrade to showcase their fighting abilities. Rather than being a tank bot like in the game, Mash delivers offensive power during her fight. Even Ushikwakamru manages to get a badass upgrade in the show in one of her most iconic battles. Watching Fate Grand Order Babylonia assures that the audience will experience a journey aimed for anyone, both newcomers and the hardcore fans.
Artistically, the Fate franchise has jumped between Unlimited budget productions made possible by ufotable to mediocre disappointment such as Fate/Apocrypha. And oh, who can forget about Fate/Extra Last Encore, the show that decorated with absurdity and surreal choreography. Where does Babylonia stand in the Nasuverse? It’s not too easy to answer because everyone will have different perspectives. The main selling point is the combination of 2D and 3D animation during intense fight scenes. This applies to later episodes in the anime where the heroes fights boss entities together similar to the game. According to an article from the animation staff, many of the season’s animators are young but are able to bring their storyboarding skills to the table. One thing to do take notice is how the show’s setting is able to grace us with the mythological setting. It feels like we enter this new world with the characters during their journey. The anime does far more than just telling and showing but rather giving us a tour of the world. Uruk itself is decorated with its rich culture and the civilization that lives on its lands. And course, we can’t ignore the character designs. Fate has been known for some extravagant and colorful visual designs especially for its prominent characters. Gilgamesh and the Goddess Alliance falls in this category with their distinctive looks. They have the look of divine entities, to be worshipped, and holds a commanding presence over others. And like most of Fate shows, there’s also room for running gags such as Jugarman’s animalistic-like characteristics or the tsundere fashion of Ishtar.
It feels like every year or so, we get a Fate adaptation that fans will talk about but some will shake their heads in disappointment while others accept it like a gift from the Gods. I’m pleased to say that Fate Babylonia managed to become a show that welcomes all viewers with open arms and one that is enjoyable from beginning to end. Now that we have the Fate goldmine flourishing, can we get something like Fate/hollw ataraxia adapted next?
When this adaptation was announced, I was excited. However, I cannot say the same after seeing the entire adaptation. Although Fate Grand Order Babylonia arc has a good story, it made three mistakes. First, as a vivid fan of the whole Fate series and as a FGO player, I expected them to use the adaptation to expand the background of the characters, their relationships, reasons, for example, Tiamat, Quetz, Enkidu, Gilgamesh to name a few. I was hoping that they would add some new story to aid the plot and fill in the little holes left by the game’s stages and, in some cases, the game plot choices. Unfortunately, this never happened, and you can notice unexpected behavior in some parts of the story without any previous explanation. The production only focuses on adapting the same game story. They did not add any new content, but they did remove some parts. Also, to understand the plot, you must have a little knowledge of FGO setting and the other singularities. Furthermore, they used three episodes as summaries and one more with a special (repeat). I cannot forgive that.
The second mistake is the horrible 2D – CGI mix. Even if I love FGO Babylonia, I cannot say that CGI models are great. They are awful in most scenes. I need to be honest with all of you; perhaps the most acceptable model is Tiamat Dragonic Beast. The rest of the models are very average and don’t fit the production and budget for the game that gets a lot of dollars a month. I do not accept some comments like “they will polish some visual errors in the BD.” As an animator and character designer, we deliver something to a screen as a final product because it will have a wider promotion.
On the other hand, the biggest mistake is to add broken lines and inconsistency to Ritsuka. In the game, you use the character as the conduit between the servants and the player. However, the player’s choices do not dramatically affect the plot. Following that order of ideas, in the adaptation, the writer tried to make him the great hero. For me, as a player, in the singularities arc, it has no meaningful use. It may have some use if you think you are Ritsuka and if you play the game for that reason alone and not for the servants. I’m sure 99% of players are more interested in servants than this character because he has no traits. You (Ritsuka) pay for the servants and not for your development, keep that in mind.
Also, this changed some characters like Hassan (he needed more screen time and a little explanation of who he is), Gilgamesh (the cartoon behavior at the end), Gorgon (Avenger, the plot never explained what she did when she destroyed Tiamat’s horn), Ana (died without glory), Enkidu (lost much of the progression and growth that can be noticed in the game). These characters were only used to make the MC shinier. Ritsuka is an important character but it cannot be the most important character because the story is not centered on it. You (Ritsuka) do not have traits, so trying to play a role with strange growth is a writer’s mistake.
Finally, although all those mistakes that drove some fans away, they can be accepted, and ignored. I mean, I enjoyed the story. Maybe the reason is that I follow the game, and I enjoyed the main essence of the plot, so I am biased, very biased. However, they wasted a great opportunity to adapt something that could have been called epic. As a fan, you will enjoy it no matter the mistakes or my comments as a casual viewer, maybe not because it is needed some extra info to understand the plot. Sadly, I cannot give it a better score because when I love a series, I am very critic.
MAL Score: 8.21
On the surface, the thought of Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura getting along would be the last thing in people’s minds. After all, Hori has a perfect combination of beauty and brains, while Miyamura appears meek and distant to his fellow classmates. However, a fateful meeting between the two lays both of their hidden selves bare. Even though she is popular at school, Hori has little time to socialize with her friends due to housework. On the other hand, Miyamura lives under the noses of his peers, his body bearing secret tattoos and piercings that make him look like a gentle delinquent.
Having opposite personalities yet sharing odd similarities, the two quickly become friends and often spend time together in Hori’s home. As they both emerge from their shells, they share with each other a side of themselves concealed from the outside world.
Beneath the superficial presentation, Horimiya is a computer-generated romantic comedy story that thinks in cliches: It merges tropes from the mediocre rom-com anime with the worst parts of sappy shoujo dramas. I should start by saying, I have never read the manga and this subpar anime didn’t convince me I should.
Chances are you’ve heard this premise before: A male high school student with no friends meets a girl through a chance encounter. She’s popular at school; still, she works hard to take care of her family, and she doesn’t have time to socialize: The pair bond over their secretive lives. Despite his edgy appearance, the girl does not judge the boy. She encourages him to come out of his shell and find friends. In return, he does everything within his capability to make her happy. While it is a bog-standard plot, Horimiya was my kind of show. It had a simplistic trajectory: Make progress on Hori and Miyamura’s first love, tackle sexual awakenings, develop the side characters, and develop the themes of self-acceptance. That’s not quite how it went. Instead, they rushed through the story at a breakneck pace while repeating identical jokes and throwing in endless cliches. Fake dating scenarios, love triangles, perpetually pissed off heroines, and a tidal wave of misunderstandings.
Even though the premise was simple, I liked seeing Hori and Miyamura together. Their relationship felt genuine; beginning as playful friends who got along despite their differences. Miyamura was a cipher at first—Quiet and introverted, he does not like school, cliques, and social requirements. He spoke very little about his personal life and he stood out from every other generic character design. Simply looking at him raises questions: Why does he have tattoos, nine piercings, and such long hair? All of these questions are answered in a very cut and dry manner. About two minutes of each episode is saved for flashbacks to his dark past. His backstories are presented with washed-out colors, quiet background sound, and darkened backgrounds to highlight his depressed state of mind. The solid presentation makes his melodramatic past seem more interesting than it is. With Hori’s help, he overcomes his trauma, depression, and isolation (rather quickly). Miyamura’s most significant obstacle was his inability to say how he truly felt. Characters joke about it because they reference how stereotypical his behavior is. If your story makes fun of a genre cliche, then repeatedly uses it, you are not subverting anything. The story is aware it is annoying and it does not care.
Miyamura is a respectful guy; he’s not possessive of Hori. He does everything she asks, and then some. When his friend Toru asked him for permission to date Hori, he said ‘it’s her choice’ because he’s a decent person. Most importantly, he had plausible reasons for falling in love with her. His first reason was, “She doesn’t judge people based on looks.” She embraced him even though society frowns up students with long hair, piercings, and tattoos. In reality, kids would be lining up to be friends with someone like him—but we need anime high school drama logic! So let’s say being Cool makes him Uncool. Hori’s classmates made fun of her for dating Miyamura since he’s so uncool. Though she never let their words bother her. She accepted him, which made his high school experience better. He’s the perfect guy for her. Yet in love stories, there’s a problem if one of the partners is a little too perfect.
Miyamura does anything he can to make Hori happy, even at his own expense. Though the story frames his selflessness as something good, his dedication strips him of individuality and all intriguing aspects. Such as to prevent Hori from getting teased, he cut his hair and stopped wearing his piercings because people looked down on him for them. However, Hori never needed help. I hate how the show frames his edgy appearance as a problem he must fix to have a good relationship. Part of what made this show so appealing was Miyamura’s distinct appearance from generic high-school anime protagonists. As we found out, that amounted to little more than a marketing gimmick. In the first few episodes, it pitched itself as an emotional portrayal of bullying and depression, but those themes were bait. When it comes down to it, this show doesn’t give a rat’s ass about “Not judging people by their appearance.” When Miyamura tells his friends about people talking behind his back, they tell him to man up—in a show about bullying that we’re meant to take seriously.
The only problems in their relationship that weren’t Hori’s fault were caused by contrivances. Miyamura’s phone dies for five days, so Hori goes into panic mode and assumes the worst. The grand reunion is played up with dramatic slow motion, loud, emotional music, but it rings hollow. It’s meant to feel like they’ve been apart for a long time, but to us, it was only five minutes. What should’ve been a significant turning point for their relationship felt inconsequential. Alone, this one contrived moment isn’t a big deal; however, it is a persistent problem with the anime. The pacing issues are more noticeable the longer the show drags on. However, no amount of adaptation magic could’ve saved Hori from being an awful person. She treats Miyamura like sewage water—yet no one ever meaningfully criticizes her, so she is never redeemed! No matter what Miyamura does, she’ll yell at him, whack him, or get silently pissed off.
Girls compliment him? WHACK!
She’s feeling nervous? WHACK!
He compliments her? WHACK!
There’s no winning with her. She’s like every bad shoujo author’s idea of a strong female character. Making your heroine hit and berate her boyfriend totally makes her a girl boss. These ‘issues’ only got worse the longer they dated. First, she became possessive, then jealous, angry, and creepy. Mind you, Hori’s short temper is not a character flaw. No, it’s merely a sign of her love! Because this is how sane people act when they’re in love, right? Hori could work on solving her anxiety and jealousy by communicating with her boyfriend. Or better yet, she could confide in her parents, who occupy background space for no reason. Her little brother acts as a bridge between the two when they’re having one of their misunderstandings. When Hori finally expresses why she is upset about Miyamura getting attention from other girls, it is revealed to be all in her imagination! If they were able, to be honest, then these misunderstandings would stop. But we can’t have that. We need Hori to be jealous because that’s one of her three jokes! If I remember this show three months from now, it will be for those God damn misunderstandings.
Relationships are about compromise. Loving someone requires giving and taking. Hori takes, Miyamura gives. Some relationships are acceptable this way, but this one is toxic. Miyamura is the glue that keeps them together because he’s always patient and submissive. When Hori asks him to act dominant by berating and hitting her, he tries. Expectedly it didn’t work, but it’s not just played off as a joke. Hori asked him to be dominant, and she always gets what she wants. This is the level of humor in the second half of the show. She constantly asks Miyamura to hit her and insult her. He says no, and that he’s not into that—yet she continues to pester him! I would’ve ghosted her at this point, but he is perfect; therefore, he mustn’t reject his queen. He even tries S&M it for her sake, but it makes him uncomfortable. Even stranger, they do their S&M shit in public. Their classmates just watch it happen and say “Wow Miyamura is so cool…” for calling his girlfriend a bitch. What kind of bizarre alternate reality is this writer living in? Still, Hori keeps asking him. If you’re a masochist, and your partner isn’t a sadist, don’t force them to be one! To make her happy, he ignores his discomfort to berate and slap her. The writer must’ve assumed S&M just meant consensually abusing your partner in broad daylight. No, that is not how it works, nor is it good humor.
Miyamura confides in Hori’s father, saying he feels uncomfortable with the S&M dynamic and asks for help. Finally, he spoke his mind! Hori’s father tells her how Miyamura feels and to be considerate of her boyfriend’s feelings. I felt blessed; finally, the show listened to my cries: Please stop being boring! You’d assume this would be enough to get through to her… but no, she responds with, “Stop blabbing about stupid crap and help me out with the chores.” This could’ve been a problem they resolved to strengthen their relationship, but no, it is played off for humor. I knew for certain Hori wouldn’t get any worse than this. Right?
Wrong. It’s time to address the worst joke. Miyamura expresses attraction and considers dating other guys; it’s apparent he’s bisexual. That’s cool! Bisexual people are great partners… though Hori would disagree. At the slightest implication that Miyamura is bisexual, Hori says, “Gross,” with a nauseated expression. A little bromance? “Gross.” To get the joke, we have to understand it from the way she does, and that is to believe it’s gross. Very cool, girl boss.
Toru’s entire character encapsulates this joke. He was in love with Hori, but he got turned down in the first episode. Afterward, he stuck around to support Miyamura. The thing is, he’s into guys too! He’ll call a guy attractive, then everyone will go, “Whaaaaat?” How quirky! I swear some of his dialogue was ripped straight out of a BL manga. This isn’t just a Hori thing. Random extras act disgusted when they see Toru being friendly with Miyamura. They tease romance with full intention of never making it happen because it’s bait. So what’s the point of the joke? There is none—the show tries to have its bisexual cake and eat it too.
Every supporting character can be placed in at least one of three categories: 1. Nice on the outside, mean on the inside. 2. Constantly acts happy to avoid burdening others. 3. Too dumb to understand what’s happening. Although some of them get a few seconds of characterization, it is skipped for the sake of dramatic romance. Ultimately none of their side plots mattered. They’re simply a diversion from the primary couple, who could use more screen time because the anime skims through dozens in the blink of an eye. You probably won’t remember all of their names, but thankfully their candy-colored hair makes it easy to tell them apart.
Hori’s friend, Yoshikawa, falls into all three. Her character flaw is that she has trouble communicating. She acts sweet to make everyone around her happy, but she actually does it because she’s a spiteful person underneath. Like most of the cast, she narrates her thoughts and puts herself down because she lacks self-worth for unknown reasons. She hides her emotions for the sake of others to not be a bother. Aside from Very Original character writing, this doesn’t make her unique. Everyone in the show is terrible at communicating—not because this is true to actual high school students, but because it’s repetitive writing. It’s never a mystery what a character is thinking, and if you can’t tell, the directing makes it even simpler.
When they don’t know how to communicate the characters’ thoughts, they just put a text box on-screen. Adapting a manga involves more than copying and pasting panels—you creatively develop ways to show emotions through body language, music, camera angles, and editing. The extent of Horimiya’s visual storytelling is by focusing on a character, slow motion, changing the backdrop to a white wall, and adding a colorful shadow. The first time, it was unique. It conveyed Hori and Miyamura’s thoughts. Even though they were evident without the sudden art style change. Then they kept doing it. Eventually, it would happen five times per episode for each side character. It lost its effect right away and became forced. There are numerous more ways to convey the character’s thoughts without recycling this mindless visual effect. It just made me roll my eyes. Before it felt personal like I intimately knew who these people were. But then it happened again. Then again. And before I knew it, every irrelevant character had their little introspective moment and I realized I didn’t know these people at all. By the end I still had big questions, even about the main characters, for one—why does Miyamura continue to date Hori even though she’s a toxic asshole?
Nearly everyone has said Horimiya is a masterclass romance, that it is the anime of the season. All I saw was a subpar, run-of-the-mill anime weighed down by superfluous characters, annoying misunderstandings, rushed pacing, and a viscerally unlikable heroine. After sprinting past over a hundred chapters, the story screeches to a halt at the thirteenth episode with a tearjerker ending. I enjoy watching shamelessly corny love stories that make me tear up with joy. But I don’t like anime that are so cliche that they do the tearing up for me. If you’re new to anime, a lover of romcoms, and have a high tolerance for cliches, you’ll get a kick out of this. To everyone else, there are much better choices than Horimiya.
Are you a girl who does the chores every day and babysit your younger sibling but wants to be popular in school? Or are you a boy with a gloomy-looking who doesn’t talk to anyone in the school but wants to be an edgy boy? Or do you have fantasies about having a popular girlfriend who is a homebody after school? Or do you have fantasies about having a silent and gloomy boyfriend who is actually cool-looking and polite but will abuse you when you want? If all of the 4 answers of yours are no, then there is no reason to watch Horimiya for you, because Horimiya is just about the author’s random fantasies. It’s as if she started writing this story without any plans in her head and just poured all of her fetishes into it. Some may be like this kind of story, but when it comes to romcom I want some good comedy or engaging story, not something that looks like that ripped out of an h-manga. Ironically, I’ve seen h-mangas that have way better stories than this. In Horimiya’s story, it looks like something is happening, but in the end, nothing actually happens. We all knew Hori and Miyamura will be lovers even before the anime started because of the title, and the only thing anime adds to this is some silly, overly dramatic, unnecessary, and cringe events.
At least it has good visuals and OST. That was what I thought in the first episodes, but it quickly turned into a disappointment since Horimiya’s director is a man who knows nothing about how to direct an anime. He is also responsible for the trainwreck that called Persona 5 the Animation, and he ruined a great potential in Horimiya too. There are too many scenes that could be impactful if the director was someone decent. He needs to stick to being an animator, and leave being a director to others. And about the OST, it’s the same. If the sound director could’ve used them in the right way, some scenes would be way more impactful, and the worst thing about this is the sound director, Jin Aketagawa, is actually a good sound director. For some reason he couldn’t do a good job in this show. Is it the CloverWorks curse? And lastly, animations and voice actings are above the average, but they definitely can’t save this wreck by their own.
Oh by the way, characters are as silly as the story too. Actually, I thought it got a good cast of characters in the early episodes, but it quickly turned into a mess. I don’t know why but the wholesome relationship between Hori and Miyamura turns into a toxic relationship after couple of episodes. And that’s the point you realize author has no intention to keep going with the wholesome relationship of Hori and Miyamura at the beginning of the story and just writes her own S&M fetishes. You can think, at least supporting cast is somehow okay, and can bring life into show, but no. They got the spotlights for some episodes, but there are no chances to shine for them since the events aren’t anything engaging.
So, if you say no to all of the questions I asked at the start, then there is no reason for you to watch this rubbish. Even peeing in the morning after a nonstop 8 hour sleep is more enjoyable than watching Horimiya.
Horimiya is one of the most anticipated adaption ever. After years, when everyone gave up on an adaption, there was an announcement. It might not be an exaggeration to say that Horimiya is Winter 2021 most anticipated anime right after SnK final season. After reading the manga for so many years, I was also happy to hear the news. Did it live up to my expectations? Yes.
Horimiya feels like it’s about to cross that line between a light-hearted rom-com and an over the top romance drama, but it never does, which is a good thing (A reference from the Oscar winning film, Parasite). On one hand, we have stuff like overwhelming drama like White Album, on the other hand, we have Horimiya, which balances between drama and simplicity so elegantly. The simplicity of Horimiya is what makes it stand out from other rom-coms, and is part of the reason why the manga was crazy popular, long before the adaption.
Horimiya (Full title: Hori-san to Miyamura-kun) at first glance, might seem like the typical “Popular girl dates unpopular guy” story, but it isn’t. Kyoko Hori is a popular girl at her school, almost like an idol for students. Everyone looks up to her, this pushes a burden onto her, she always has to maintain her perfect-girl attitude in front of everyone else. After all, its the people around us who decide our social standing, not us. She has a side she doesn’t want to show to others. In one scene, a bunch of girls saw Hori near the supermarket, one of them exclaimed how she resembles Hori, but then they say that she was too ‘simple’ to be Hori. You can see the burden that is pushed onto her. It’s not easy being popular and act perfect when you are not. Hori only shows her simple and imperfect side to those she cares about a lot—like her family, her close friends like Yuki.
Miyamura on the other hand, is a gloomy student who barely converses with others. He can definitely pass off as a side character because he’s that unremarkable among students. In his flashbacks, we see Miyamura get bullied and ignored by his classmates, we also get to see him do his piercings by himself with a safety pin, side-by-side to those events. In this way, the act of piercing his ears comes as a response to the bullying. He also has tattoos on his body. So to hide all these features of him, he has grown shoulder length hair and wears a jacket, even in the hottest of days. He stands out among the other students in his school, but not in a good way.
One day, both Hori and Miyamura just happen to meet, but not under normal circumstances. Both of them show their hidden sides to each other. Miyamura happily accepts the real Hori, just like she accepts Miyamura. Thanks to Sota, their wingman, they spend a lot of time together and slowly starts developing feelings for each other.
The story is hardly remarkable at this point, so what is it that’s so good about Horimiya? The characters. I have to admit, the characters in this anime feel so much more genuine than I’ve seen in hundreds other rom-com. Horimiya is by far the most genuine feeling rom-com I’ve ever seen. The character interactions elevates this anime to another level. First off, the interaction between the quartet—Hori, Miyamura, Yoshikawa, Ishikawa, they feel so calming. There is a certain warm feeling in this anime, and it’s all thanks to the characters. It’s almost surprising how they can develop the side characters so well in an anime that focuses on two characters.
Yoshikawa is a character that hides her true feelings. She won’t tell people what she truly desires. As said by Hori, “The less she wants you to know she’s upset, the bigger she smiles”. True feelings can not always been shown, there are many circumstances to people. Ishikawa is a long time friend of Hori and Yuki, he is also becomes good friends with Miyamura. Though he’s one of the more simple characters, he cares about others a lot. When Yoshikawa tried to make cupcakes but it didn’t turn out well, Toru was poking fun at her, he happened to glance at her fingers and notice some bandages, which is proof how hard she tried to make those cupcakes. He immediately starts eating those, even though it looks inedible, he eats all of it, with a big smile on his face. There’s the student council president, Sengoku and Remi who have their own unique dynamic. He is with her because he thinks she’s weak and he likes the feeling like he can protect her. But actually, she isn’t weak at all. Remi lets him feel that way on purpose because she likes him so much. Kouno is also very insecure because she’s always with Remi, who’s like an idol at her school, similar to Hori. They are together so much, that some students call them “Beauty and the Beast” beauty referring to Remi, beast referring to Kouno. Similar to how Miyamura felt that he brought down Hori’s image by being with her so much, Kouno also feels the same.
Of course, not all the characters are good. There is Sawada, who’s the damsel in distress and cockblocks Miyamura for a few episodes. She’s annoying and doesn’t know the idea of personal space. She desperately forces herself into the cast and takes away screen time. There’s Yanagi, everyone pretends that he’s so hot and beautiful that in front of him, their own ugliness wants to make them puke. This whole bit with Yanagi is just not working at all and taking away the screen time.
The characters are definitely what makes Horimiya so great, but is that the only aspect of what makes this anime great? Definitely no.
CloverWorks is gaining a reputation because of their well directed anime. The Horimiya anime (much like Kimetsu no Yaiba) is a lesson in how to properly adapt a manga series. The anime’s direction, pacing and the excellent voice cast elevates every scene to the next levels. Ishisama is a great director who knows what he’s doing. The opening of Horimiya is possibly the most well-directed opening of Winter 2021. CloverWorks is quickly becoming one of my favourite studios. The camera work in this anime has been pleasant. Especially the moments of vulnerabilities, I was wondering how will they handle that, but it was handled amazingly. When the background goes white and vibrant watercolors shift their silhouettes, you know that they’ve given extra care to the more dramatic scenes of Horimiya. Horimiya is a treat, beautifully animated by CloverWorks.
The beautifully animated scenes, combined with the OSTs, especially during the dramatic scenes, the sound is yet another aspect Horimiya thrives at. Starting from the mesmerizing opening sequence, which perfectly fits Horimiya’s theme, to the unique ending sequence.
One other thing that I must separately mention is the dialogue delivery. This is one of the most important factors to me when I watch an anime. The dialogue delivery feels WAY TOO genuine. The casts are so talented because it is music to my ears. There is no girl who talks in a high pitched voice which is borderline annoying, even Remi talks in a normal way, I expected her to sound annoying. Dialogue delivery is definitely one of the thing I expect the anime to do well, since it doesn’t exist in manga. And Horimiya absolutely nailed it, starting from the conversations to how they were executed, all of it.
In summary, Horimiya is a satisfying adaption. Many people will find plenty of reasons to hate it, since even I admit that this isn’t a perfect anime or something. For example, people might not like Hori’s masochistic side or how he often hits Miyamura. Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me. I am well aware of the fact that Hori is a bit violent in nature, but it is explained why, and it’s not like she’s the Tsundere from Zero no Tsukaima (An actual bitch), she admits her mistakes and admits how she knows she was wrong but she blames it on Miyamura anyways, she can’t help it. Miyamura chose to accept that side of her, so who am I to judge what’s good for him? Besides, S&M is getting more popular day by day among people, I’m here to watch anime, not to kinkshame anime characters.
After waiting for so long, I am nothing but happy to receive such a quality adaption. This definitely lives up to the manga. The manga ended weeks ago, and I was looking forward to the anime every week. This Winter season has been a pleasant ride, with a mix of almost everything, Horimiya takes the spot of the best rom-com. It adapts the starting few chapters, which is the glorious chapters of Horimiya, even in the manga, so naturally I enjoyed it to the fullest. This is as best as it gets, so if you didn’t like this, don’t go into another season or into the manga.
As for me, Horimiya is all I could ask from an adaption. Through ups and downs, the anime has proven itself with the stellar direction, well written and likeable characters, and an acceptable story. It definitely became one of my all time favourites. Since I have no Horimiya chapters to look forward to every month now, I’m gladly waiting for a second season 🙂
2: 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.
1: Yakusoku no Neverland
English: The Promised Neverland
MAL Score: 8.58
Surrounded by a forest and a gated entrance, the Grace Field House is inhabited by orphans happily living together as one big family, looked after by their “Mama,” Isabella. Although they are required to take tests daily, the children are free to spend their time as they see fit, usually playing outside, as long as they do not venture too far from the orphanage—a rule they are expected to follow no matter what. However, all good times must come to an end, as every few months, a child is adopted and sent to live with their new family, never to be heard from again.
However, the three oldest siblings have their suspicions about what is actually happening at the orphanage, and they are about to discover the cruel fate that awaits the children living at Grace Field, including the twisted nature of their beloved Mama.
Thriller, horror, psychological and mystery. These 4 along with some genres I guess makes excellent shows not only in the anime industry but also in other platforms. This is because of there uniqueness. There outtake of the story is unique with uncommon sceneries, settings, characters, plot and conflict. This Winter 2019 anime season, we were introduced into the world of “The Promised Neverland”. A world where if you are a healthy young blood, you will never like this world. You will never hope that you will be a main character of some parallel world or something. With kids being the main characters of the story, you thought this will be your typical “slice of life” drama or comedy things that you enjoy. But it turns out, not every show that have little children as the main character can always be light hearted. It can also become your worst nightmare.
The story of “The Promised Neverland” starts off with little kids in the Grace Field House, which is an orphanage. The three eldest of the family of children are Ray, Norman and Emma. The three of them are seen as talented, skillful, agile and intelligent base on what we see on the episode. From Hide and Seek to playing Tag, this two excels on physicality. They are seen as big brothers (Ray and Norman) and big sister (Emma) to other kids. Of course, these three will not take care of the children all by themselves right? The main caretaker is their “Mom” in the orphanage. She is your typical mother-like figure who loves her children so much and admire them. Everyone seems happy. Everyone is having fun. “Mom” loves her job. Children love her back. Ray, Emma and Norman are having a normal life until a departure of a friend came to play. A girl named “Connie” was about to depart or leave the orphanage because so-called “parents” are now going to take care of her. It was a joyous moment. Everyone was happy for her to leave and finally have a family. Then of course she left something behind and Emma and Norman proceeds to give it to her back to the gate. The night was really dark and a tragedy will happen. What Emma and Norman saw was not a family reunion. It was a murder, done by supernatural beings a.k.a “demons” from the “outer” world. Turns out that Emma, Ray, Norman and every single living child in the orphanage are “livestocks”, caged in an orphanage surrounded with walls and vegetation. This drastic change of tone and mood of the atmosphere was overwhelmingly good. Plot twist on every episode synchronizing the characters’ goals whether to escape or not. The Promised Neverland story is really unique among any other winter 2019 anime this season. It provides us a fresh idea of escaping one’s position whether it is physically or mentally. It also delivers well with the plot twist making us audience grasp for more until the next episode and the plot twists are not just there to make us say “Wow okay”. It is there because it connects to the story of the anime. It is there to not only surprise us viewers but also provide us the ongoing intake and pattern of the story without affecting the overall goal of it. In the end, The Promised Neverland is a type of anime where you must get involve to with its unique capability of placing plot twists on each scenes and an intensifying story. With each season having different types of genre but less/few mystery and thriller, The Promised Neverland is a great anime to start-off the year and it is a masterpiece.
In the first episode of the anime, the joyful atmosphere made the personality of the three characters especially Norman and Emma. Norman is the master strategist and the one who admires Emma. Emma which is the girl who never backs down no matter what and have more physical capabilities than Norman and Ray. Ray, on the other hand have that gloomy tone (edgy one which makes sense because his hair looks like Sasuke) but he is also a master strategist like Norman. All of them looks normally fine and happy tho in the first few minutes of the episodes. As the plot twist came along, character development and their change started to appear. They became more fierce, deceiving and strong. Not to mention, Gilda and (character) as well. These kids were the highlight of the show and it was enjoyable and thrilling to watch them get over with the trials Mama and Sister Conney (who is a vital character that presented the possibility of children coming from the orphanage/House). All of these characters contributed to one of the best anime this season to come out ever.
After I watched some few episodes of the anime, I can’t help not to read the manga as manga readers kept on telling how good the manga is. Comparing the art of the anime and manga, they are the same on my perspective. The anime captured the thrill, chilly atmosphere and the characters expression to every situation that they fall within. The shock factor of the characters, the cries, the demons, everything was intense with the art at played and it synchronizes with the music as well. Overall the art was good for the shock factor. It is not your best art but it fits the theme. Of course I have to mention the backgrounds of the OP and ED as they both define implicitly how dark or thrilling Promised Neverland is and they did it well.
Ohhh boyyy the opening is really a hit on my ears. The OP’s song and transition with the background art depicting how events can turn unfold without explicitly showing it is just excellent on the sound. The excitement, the rush to the chorus, the saxophone on the starting of the OP, it is all perfect. I have to worth mentioning the ED as well because it is a good one (but the OP is better). Aside from the songs, the background music whenever I chilling moment comes really goes through my spine and felt the chills. It captures well to the scene and makes the scene more thrilling. Overall, sound is perfectly played on this anime.
Overall thoughts and Enjoyment:
The Promised Neverland are one of the anime I am so engaged to watch on. It is mostly because of its engaging story. It captivates you to watch it more with its shock factor and plot twists on every scene. It makes me or you question “What is going to happen next?!” and once you get to know it, disappointment is not really there. Instead you will be fascinated how the author played out the scenes all correlating to the main conflict of the story. Hence, The Promised Neverland is a must-see show for those who wants to watch a thrilling anime that has no cliche or whatsoever. It is a fresh intake from the anime this Winter 2019 season and it is really really really enjoyable to watch.
It’s been literally years since I felt the need to give out any 10s to an anime TV-series, but in the case of Neverland I knew from the start that as long as they don’t mess it up, it would be worthy of it for sure. The first arc of the manga was simply brilliant after all, and the anime which covers it is not too different.
Horror is a genre which generally does not work very well in anime for the simple reason that it’s very difficult to make cartoons straight-up scary. However, they can still be creepy and eerie, and that’s one of the areas in which Neverland excels. It has one of those truly great opening episodes that immediately hook you, starting off showcasing the wonderful and cheerful orphanage of Grace Field filled with children who spend their youths in complete happiness… until the rather shocking truth of the whole situation is revealed at the end of the first episode and at that point it’s almost impossible to not be immediately captivated by what the story has to offer. I won’t reveal anything about what that truth actually is though, and I would highly recommend you try to avoid getting spoiled by it before watching if it is somehow possible.
At its heart, Neverland is mainly a mystery and a thriller though, as our main characters Emma, Norman and Ray try to investigate the secrets of the mansion which they live in and start to plot an elaborate plan to escape it along with the other kids that live there, all without attracting attention from the eyes of the ones opposing them. The direction is quite simply superb, both in terms of making the viewers feel engaged in the main characters’ situation and to be wanting to cheer for them, but also in terms of slowly unwrapping the mystery in a way which is not too quick, eventually resulting in an incredibly satisfying finale. The main characters are all quite intelligent but in very different ways, with Emma being the cheerful and strong-willed one whereas Norman and Ray are more scheming and unpredictable, but for totally different motivations.
The production value is also excellent. The art and animation across the board is always on point, the opening theme is pretty kickass and the voice acting does an adequate job of breathing life into the characters. I think in particular Morohoshi Sumire’s performance as Emma is quite commendable in that aspect.
Overall I think Neverland is a fantastic anime in terms of story, direction and the ability to immediately get you hooked an invested into the show. As a result it’s a show I would highly recommend to anyone that enjoys well thought-out thrillers and mysteries.
To add to that, we’ve now also gotten confirmation that a second season is in the works for 2020 so the joyride isn’t stopping anytime soon. However, I should at least mention as a manga reader that the quality of the story does in fact drop a decent amount after the first arc and it takes a considerable amount of time before it recovers to a similar level as it had in the beginning. Thus I would not expect the second season to be as good as the first one, but still definitely worth watching at least. Or if you’ve been hooked enough on the story by now to be unwilling to wait that long, well then the manga always lies around the corner if you want to give it a shot.
Well this was unexpected. A horror anime getting a lot of attention and praise by viewing public? This is truly a rare sight indeed. But seriously, the hype for this series before airing and its first couple of episodes was reaching really high levels and talked about a lot by the anime community. But the question is, how does this anime hold up with the horror greats of anime, can it stand in the upper echelon of horror anime like Monster, Parasyte and Higurashi? Or is this series a victim of its own hype?
Well I’m about to tell you. Sit back, relax and…hold on. Wait, what’s going on outside. Oh god. OH GOD! MRS TWEETY! THE CHILDREN ARE REVOLTING! Quickly, got to finish this sentence up. I present to you the anime review for The Promised Neverland. Lets Begin shall we?
Ok. Now that’s settled, lets begin with the story.
Welcome to Grace Field House. An orphanage run by the lovely caretaker of the house Isabella, aka “Mama.” The children of the house enjoy there time here. They are well fed, educated well and have fun free time playing tag. They can have this luxury by obeying two simple rules. Not to go over the fence and not to go past the gate in front of the house. Of course, the children will get adopted and will have to say goodbye to their friends. Three of the children, Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest and eldest of the children, and they, along with the others, enjoy their time at the orphanage. However on one day. One of the children, Connie, is adopted but has forgotten her beloved rabbit teddy. So Emma and Norman decide to give it to her before she leaves. They go past the gate to deliver the bunny, only to realise that Connie is dead and in fact the children of the orphanage are livestock to Daemons and Mama is involved with it. Knowing this truth, Emma, Norman and Ray must plan to escape the orphanage with everyone before they are all lambs to the slaughter.
What makes this show scary is the fact that we have an innate motive to make sure children are safe, for they do not know the dangers of the real world. So when the children find out the truth, you fear for them. You fear for their lives for they are innocent and didn’t deserve this fate. You want to see them safe and you constantly hold your breath to see if they are okay. You want them to live. By showing us their fate, you know the dangers that they are in. The show however, does leave mysteries for us to think about and find out later on; giving us something to look forward to and something to fear as we uncover the truth as to why these events are happening and why security is almost non-existent. While not every question is answered, some of them are answered and we are left to theorise about the others.
Now this show really does like to build things up, build to this great escape plan to get everyone out of the orphanage and it does build things very well. The suspense in this show is enough to drive anyone mad with the eagerness to find out what happens next. That is mainly because the pacing and knowing what and when to reveal things is very well executed in order to keep you on your toes. Knowing when it is a right time to scare you, make you feel uncomfortable and uneasy and knowing when to give you relief. It toys with your emotions to keep you on edge. But if it keeps building up, then it needs a payoff, otherwise what is the point? While it does cut it a bit close, it does pay off in the final episodes of this season.
The trio of Emma, Norman and Ray make up our main characters. They all compliment each other in some way with their personalities being different and flawed. Emma has a lively personality and is very thoughtful of others, but she is also the most naive out of the three and doesn’t know when to stop. Norman is the level headed one, as well as being very calm and collective, but has a soft spot for Emma so he normally agrees for what she does. Ray is the rational and critical one of the group, but is not willing to take too many risks that could very well danger his friends. So these three compliment each other well as they cover their flaws and when they put their minds together, they can do great things. Yet while they do have the mindset and intelligence of an adult due to their education, they are still children. While they are smart, they are still naive to the dangers of the outside world and the setbacks that could be in place when their plans don’t work they way they intended. Giving us some realisation of the age of our characters and that they still have some things to learn. The rest of the children are just faces with names with the exception of some but they act as a nice reminder of what Emma, Norman and Ray are fighting for. To make sure to change these sweet, innocent children’s’ fate and give them a better future.
Their main obstacle of course is the deceptive, cunning and well prepared caretaker of the house, Isabella. And MY WORD she is terrifying. More terrifying than the daemons. What makes her terrifying though is her intelligence. She always seems to be prepared as to what the main characters are going to do next. She is able to easily predict their moves and get constant information on their actions, almost as like she has dealt with this sort of thing before. She never really worries and manages to keep a calm demeanour. It is the fact she never worries about the kids escaping leaves the viewer questions and adds to the mystery of where they are. We question why she is calm, why is she not doing anything, why is she not quelling the escape plan immediately. To give them false hope maybe? Or does she already know they have no chance of escaping. She won’t simply ship them out to quell the problem, she would rather try to break their spirits to keep them in place. She would even add a wild card into the mix in the form of Sister Krone, a loud, loving, but bats**t crazy assistant to Isabella; yet is she in a alliance with Isabella? Again, she is a wild card into the mix to give the children another ally or another enemy?
Cloverworks takes the reign for the animation in this series. A roughly 1 year old studio that has done the animation for shows like Bunny Girl Senpai and the anime adaptation of Persona 5. So I din’t really know what to expect. Well I’m glad to say that the animation for The Promised Neverland is damn good. What makes it good though, are two main things. The first main thing is the character motions are fluid. There is a lack of really noticeable frame by frame motion as they move naturally when they run or when they are in fear. The fluidity is very good.
The other main point are the facial expressions. They are really expressive in this series, especially when the children are scared as their shrunk pupils, their tensed up faces and subtle movements make them generally scared of the situation. But other faces like Isabella’s many calm and scheming faces or Krone’s many terrifying expressions that would make even the faces in Higurashi wince a little. It adds to the horror because its visually scary. You are getting scared or unnerved by something simple yet unnerving at the same time.
The soundtrack is not prominent in this series. Often times, it is just silence as we just hear the characters voices and their footsteps on either grass or wooden floorboards. Often times for the better as we just need to hear these sounds to make us feel tense as we know someone or something is coming. The ost only plays when it needs to be played to amplify a scene and when it does, oh boy does it amplify a scene. The soundtrack can be really menacing at times as it likes to escalate the fear factor of the scene to make you quiver in fear. It is definitely a great addition to a scene and the fact they are used only sparingly makes it much better.
Then there is the opening. Without a doubt the best opening of this season. Don’t argue me on this, it is very clear that “Touch Off” by UVERworld is the best opening this season. The lyrics, the animation and the pace of the opening are brilliant. But what seals it is the symbolism in this opening. The use of puzzle pieces to symbolise the pieces of the plan, as well as the red string burning to ash to symbolise that they will not be tied to the strings of fate and will run to break out of their fate. It is used so well and matches the pace of the song. Speaking of the song, it is weird that the simple sounds of “Nanananananananana” would be so catchy. Well when used correctly it can be. So in summary, song great, animation great, pace great, symbolism great. Simply put, it’s a fantastic opening.
The ending sequences are pretty standard IMO. It uses symbolism and imagery as well to set a tone. And the songs used in these endings are also great. It helps cap off a great OST that this series provides. I didn’t skip them as I enjoyed them, but they didn’t wow me.
So the question I asked earlier was that does the Promised Neverland stand in the upper echelon of other horror anime? Well if it wasn’t obvious by now, it does. The Promised Neverland is a fantastic anime with a gripping plot, likeable characters, a terrifying villain, great animation, a cleverly used OST and the best opening this season. I’m glad The Promised Neverland turned out as good as it did. Horror anime is something difficult to get right. Even last year, only one horror anime managed to get horror right IMO and that was Happy Sugar Life. Yet The Promised Neverland gets it right immediately. The horror in this series is unnerving, suspenseful, tense and terrifying while also incorporating Shonun elements to improve the tension of a scene. It knows it can’t be scary all of the time, but knows it has to build to it and to not use it frequently so it doesn’t lose its impact.
I looked forward to every Thursday night waiting for the next episode to become available, which means its doing something right. It is without a doubt one of the best horror anime I’ve watched. A defining anime in a very good Winter Season of anime. And just maybe, it will still be considered by the end of the year to be one of the best anime of 2019. So yeah, just go watch it if you haven’t. And the fact we still have more to come leaves me really excited to see what happens next.
My Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Overall score: 9.6/10 Recommendation: Go f***ing watch it
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Yakusoku no Neverland
2. Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl Senpai no Yume wo Minai
4. Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia
5. Wonder Egg Priority
6. Shadows House
7. Fugou Keiji: Balance:Unlimited
8. Fairy Tail: Final Series
9. Dakaretai Otoko 1-i ni Odosarete Imasu.
10. Darling in the FranXX
11. Gyakuten Saiban: Sono “Shinjitsu”, Igi Ari! Season 2
12. Slow Start
13. Persona 5 the Animation
14. Yakusoku no Neverland 2nd Season