They are by far the best anime! We counts down the best anime to come out all the time, including the likes of Granbelm, Wakaba*Girl, Darwin’s Game, and more!
MAL Score: 6.70
Long ago, magic was abundant and enriched the lives of all people until its usage in war. To end the chaos, seven of the most powerful mages gave up their lives in order to seal all magic. Now, almost one thousand years later, their magic seal Magiaconatus hosts Granbelm, a monthly series of battles meant to determine who among its participants is worthy of the title of Princeps, the one true mage.
On the night of a full moon, high school student Mangetsu Kohinata is suddenly transported to an illusionary world where six mages are participating in Granbelm. Mistaken for an enemy mage, Mangetsu is attacked by two mages until she is rescued by Shingetsu Ernesta Fukami and her Armanox Viola Katze. However, when Shingetsu is ambushed for protecting her, Magiaconatus grants Mangetsu the Armanox White Lily, allowing her to fight off Shingetsu’s assailant. Overwhelmed by the revelations presented to her, Mangetsu decides to help her new friend fight in Granbelm and make her wish come true.
– Romans, 8:18
Have you ever wondered why you’re alive? It seems like such a silly question, one that a lot of people wouldn’t really take seriously, but then again, there are others that spend their entire lives actively searching for the answer.
Now how about this one… have you ever experienced so much loneliness, pain, and suffering that you wished you *weren’t* alive and wondered what the point of living was if it was going to be like that? Now we’re getting somewhere.
I’m sure many of us, at some point in our lives, have felt absolutely lost, without direction, wondering what our purpose is and where we should be going, not understanding who put us here or why. And I know I’ve at least thought before, maybe more than a few times, that maybe it would be better if I wasn’t alive, that I was a waste of space, that the world didn’t need me, that nobody would miss me if I was gone, that I was basically nonexistent while simultaneously having to exist.
And have you ever dreamed of… have you ever wished with all your heart for something that could miraculously rid your life of all the conflict, pain, suffering, sadness… completely and entirely, forever and ever?
Granbelm, an original production that’s very clearly a passion project, hit me exceptionally hard because it explores and really dissects these very feelings that we’ve all experienced. As a matter of fact, the entire anime might be a cleverly masked commentary on finding self-purpose in life through challenges and obstacles. I’d have to say that it succeeds in doing such because it is not inherently obvious that its goal is exactly that until near the very end of the story.
The story of Granbelm is driven almost entirely by its characters, and what an excellent job character development does on progressing the plot. At the very start, we as the audience are immediately thrown into a scenario that is extremely chaotic. We initially learn very little about what is going on, mirroring the perspective of our protagonist, Mangetsu Kohinata who also knows absolutely nothing. It is only until we begin to learn about each of the characters’ pasts and their reasons for participating in the tournament known as “GRANBELM” do we begin to find out crucial pieces of the puzzle that piece together to give a more formulated picture of what is truly happening and why. This type of plot development, relying heavily on individual character experiences and background, can ruin a story when done incorrectly – when the characters fall flat and the pieces don’t come together nicely, the plot itself becomes a jumbled mess. Granbelm, however, absolutely excels at tying each of the character’s stories into a beautifully presented package of an overarching plot that will simultaneously blow your mind and slice your heart in half.
All of the seven girls participating in Granbelm are ultimately are fighting to become the one true mage, the Princeps, because they have a purpose: something that they’d give everything in the world up for, something so important and precious to them that they’d do anything to succeed by all means necessary. Whether it’s wishing for a miracle, fighting to fulfill what they consider their own purpose, proving their own self-worth, or simply fighting to find their own purpose, what matters most – the only thing that makes a difference in their strength in battle – is how much unshakable conviction they are able to invest into their ambitions. It’s this moral conflict that is at the very center of the premise of Granbelm: how far would you go, how strong are your desires, that you would destroy the dreams of anyone else to obtain them? Is it selfish to destroy everything and everyone in your way for that in which you find your own purpose, your own reason to live? And is it morally right to obtain and use something to which no single person should ever have access, something that shouldn’t exist, a power that could warp the whole world just to grant one wish?
In this way, the battles each month at full moon both symbolize and literally represent the characters’ feelings and desires clashing against one another. All skill, practice, and talent are thrown out the window to give way to raw passion and emotion. Each of the characters’ mechs – their Armonoxs – are said to be a reflection of their inner selves and their souls, which ties perfectly into this moral dilemma whereby physical, tangible value of each of their greatest wishes is thrown out the window for the intangible, unmeasurable strength of desire that they possess. To me, this symbolism is an absolutely incredible and thrilling way of representing the many emotions experienced in life through a physical art form that can be seen, felt, experienced, and shared by anyone. Granbelm is able to transcend the limitations of expressing feelings through words by visually representing them, which meshes perfectly with the themes and goals of the story.
Each girl has their own internal conflicts and are facing some form of suffering. And although six of the seven girls each have a distinct and obvious reason to fight, Mangetsu is set apart because she has no visible reason to desire becoming the Princeps mage. This is where the theme of suffering and the theme of morality in self-purpose come to clash: is there any meaning to living through pain and suffering, and is it right to obtain and take the “easy way out” by destroying anyone and anything in our way? And does it matter what our intentions are for doing so?
Besides the overarching narrative, there are a few other things I wanted to highlight that made Granbelm the masterpiece I see it as.
The art and animation, although wonky at times, were outstanding for the amount of people working on the show. Very few animators were involved in this, and yet the amount of detail within every scene and the consistent fluidity in the animation really stood out. The mech designs, while… questionable, are entirely drawn in 2D. As a matter of fact, the entire show is in 2D, it’s just mind-blowing how much passion and love was put into this project. Of course, much of the staff that worked on Granbelm also worked on Re:Zero, so it’s not a surprise to see the quality of this production, especially in the direction, writing, and composition.
The writing itself is littered with foreshadowing that I guarantee you won’t notice or understand until your second watch. Lots of things at first don’t make sense because as the audience we are thrown directly into confusion, but seeing how everything has progressed, I’m thinking it was an intentional decision to start this way. The foreshadowing combined with the plot twists take the story from extremely good to masterful.
And now for perhaps the most impressive part of the show: the sound direction. I’d first like to give credit to Kenichiro Suehiro for making me absolutely sob uncontrollably during episodes 12 and 13 with his heartwrenching OST. The music altogether is top-notch – very orchestral and classical and reminds me a lot of a John Williams-type soundtrack that you’d see in something like Star Wars.
Also like something from Star Wars, the sound effects in Granbelm are fantastic and add to the experience tenfold. The sound design and effects are distinctively “magically ethereal” and non-mechanical and fit the atmosphere of the show to a T.
Most strikingly, the vocal performances throughout the entire series are through the roof. I’d like to specifically give a shout-out to Aoi Yuuki, who has given me chills countless numbers of times with her performance as Shuishou.
Lastly, the characters themselves are impressively built and developed. None of the characters feel like cardboard cutouts and each clearly have their own unique purpose to the show. The most impressive part is how impressive the ‘villains’ are depicted – they have a distinct amount of depth to them whereby you can actually sympathize with them, understanding how they ended up the way they did. For a show with a cast as large as Granbelm and only 13 episodes to work with, every girl of our main seven was utilized to perfection and important in their own way. They all have their own desires, wishes, and hopes they are trying to obtain, and each of them is plagued by some type of pain.
While the other girls are all suffering because of specific occurrences in their lives, Mangetsu’s suffering stems from the exact opposite – the LACK of occurrences, pretty much anything at all happening in her life. Her feelings of non-existence, and loneliness because she wants to be acknowledged by at least someone and has never been are what have led to her inner suffering and pain. Because she feels she has nothing, her goal is simply looking for a purpose for her own life, which she thinks she can find by participating in Granbelm, excelling, standing out, and winning. She has no desire in actually becoming the Princeps mage; rather, she desires to exist and be recognized and believes that simply by winning, she will obtain those things inherently. And also unlike her competition, she has no interest in the power that would come with winning. But although she doesn’t desire power, is it still okay for her participate and destroy those in her path for her own personal gain, to end her suffering? Through participating in Granbelm and interacting with the other girls and learning from her experiences, Mangetsu comes to realize that notoriety and recognition isn’t at all what she needed to obtain. Suffering from an existential crisis, she begins to understand that life is what she makes of it, not what other people make of her. Her progression from a person who is suffering and doesn’t care what she does as long as she gets noticed to someone who can appreciate and find purpose in life for what it is reflects the main purpose of the story:
Suffering and pain are a crucial part of life. Life is filled with all sorts of challenges and obstacles that might seem impossible to overcome and make you want to give up, but it is precisely because of the fight to overcome our own struggles that we can find purpose in our lives. Furthermore, it is of high importance that we live life in an honest manner – without looking for shortcuts or the easy way out – and make the most of what we have.
In the end, Mangetsu is able to fully grasp the opportunity to experience even the just the small things in life, appreciating the beauty in experiencing existence itself. All of life is a precious gift, and she is grateful for the ability to live, even grateful for experiencing suffering and pain. Her understanding of this and her selflessness in the very end ultimately is what liberates her from her chains and frees her soul, giving her true happiness.
Like Mangetsu, the intimate and precious experiences of life itself – everything we think, feel, see, touch, and dream of, our wishes, our aspirations – are what give us hope of finding direction and the strength to keep living. It is precisely through finding and fulfilling our purpose in life, appreciating life for the gift it is, that we will truly and honestly be liberated from the shackles that bind us in life. Only then will we find peace and happiness and transcend all our suffering once and for all.
The story of Granbelm is one of the best I have ever experienced, and I will never forget it.
“Nothing in this world is that simple. But… The world is filled with so many feelings! Feelings like happiness, enjoyment, love… And of course, that’s not all. There’s frustration, sadness, hate… There’s regret, and desire… Hoping things will turn out the way you want, wishing for a miracle…. There are so many wishes that can’t be fulfilled. They’re forgotten, and then they gush forth again, eternally building this world.
Humans live on… and that’s good enough. That’s how people can have hope, how they can live.”
– Mangetsu Kohinata
The biggest rub is that Granbelm does have some good ideas. There is intrigue in a competition where girls compete to be the sole magical entity in the world. The premise is a bit forced but there is a lot to work with there. You can show why all the characters want that power, how they react when they don’t get it, and the lengths that they’ll go through for that power. And while Granbelm attempts to hit some of this ideas, and even comes close in some cases, the execution and result is quite lacking and lackluster. For example in the first episode there is a girl who is clearly in the battle, loses, and thusly loses her magical abilities. Rather than exploring this girl and her circumstance and the future that she must now pivot, they just cast her off and focus on less interesting characters. This is a theme with Granbelm.
Because despite having some interesting characters in its cast, Granbelm decides to focus on the most bland of the characters. We have the traditional pink haired magical girl who has no talents, no purpose in life, but for some reason seems to be really good at this magic thing despite never having any experience in it what so ever before. And second to her is the magical girl with long black hair, insane skills and work ethic, who happens to be very cold. Both of these tropes have been done to death. And while a good show can be made out of tired tropes, neither of these two are particularly interesting, and it’s even more frustrating when they take away time from much more interesting characters in the cast.
For example, Anna is a girl from a talented mage family who has a grudge against Ernesta. It is clear she hates her for some reason and has a burning desire to out do her. As the show progresses her mental state erodes and you can see how the stress of the competition and her hatred is effecting her. But despite this she is more of a side character than a main one. There are interesting points to her character and her relation with Ernesta but it’s often seen in the lens of Ernesta, the main character, rather than Anna. By focusing on Ernesta more the show willingly focuses on a much weaker and flat character and don’t explore the interesting traits of Anna quite nearly as much as they should.
This is what the show is like as a whole, it’ll bring up good ideas, give hope that it’ll explore them and cover something meaningful before diverting back to Mangetsu and Ernesta and ending up failing its potential. The most baffling thing about this show though is despite how edgy it tries to be, whenever the show can actually do something with that edge and give an interesting situation for the characters the show decides to zag in a different route to give a slight less edgy but also a lot less interesting result. It’s as if it’s trying to both be as edgy and uninteresting as possible. So while the show is very content to make the characters miserable and to make their lives that much worse with each episode, it’s also content to take a slightly less miserable path if it means that the characters won’t have to react to something interesting or unique.
The art is actually pretty good, and would be nice to have in a much better show. Sadly, the problems with Granblem far outweigh the good art. The sound is passable and doesn’t help or hurt the show. The production of the show is pretty good although the fight scenes to me are still pretty boring. They can be dynamic, but they lack the power to really make them shine.
Overall Granbelm is a massive disappointment and forgoes its interesting ideas for bland uninteresting edge. I don’t recommend it for anyone unless you need more edge in your life and have ran out of other options.
From my perspective, Granbelm’s story is the strongest point in the series. The plot configures two worlds where all the characters interact. These two environments, a real-world, a combat scenario, are directly affected by magic and are the premise of several details that will appear as the story progresses. The idea of the combat scenario is to create a world where the main characters or the selected magicians can use magic robots called “Armanox,” and they fight for all the magical power that disappeared from the world (Magiaconatus). The last standing magician will become the “Princeps Mage” and will be worth to use the Magiaconatus. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, what the he …, that sounds messy, the story can be confusing at first, but it is entertaining. I can not explain more because it could spoil the plot with small details. Following that order of ideas, the main characters are the mages who will fight each other. I find it very interesting how the authors fused the two worlds with the help of the characters. They compete in the magical world, and they can be friends, enemies, in the real world, and they do not know what could happen after each fight.
The characters are the magicians. Unfortunately, one of the things that could have scared many viewers is that the entire cast is feminine, so a large group will think it could be a junk story, a fan service story, cute girls doing cute things, but none of that fits this show.
There are two main characters, Mangetsu and Shingetsu. The rest of the cast is secondary because they stimulate Mangetsu and Shingetsu’s traits.
Mangetsu or the girl who has nothing. She appears in the magical world without any magical knowledge and is found worthy of using an Armanox. As the story progresses, its complexity and behavior run brilliantly.
Shingetsu “the white.” However, her Armanox is black, but she is wiser than Gandalf. I wanted to give a little magic reference lol. She is one of the strongest magicians. She fights following her ideals and wants to become Princeps for a personal reason. She needs Mangetsu to become a good character. Sometimes her decisions are painful, and she fulfills her role fantastically.
Suisho or the girl who will die soon, I thought that. A complex character with a lot of background. You must pay attention to all her information because it is the most complex character in the series.
Nene or the magical genius with an exciting story. She is the most resourceful character, and her background is a need for the story progression
Anna or cry and angry girl. She considers herself very special and powerful. Maybe it is, or perhaps it’s just another aspiring magician. However, she fulfills Shingetsu emotions and boosts her traits and background.
Shisui or she will fight for her. She fights for a relative, and she is a need to show the real face of a certain mage.
Rosa or the girl who steals some time in front of the screen. She fights … without further details.
All characters contribute to the story in some way. The most important part, they give and add details to the story, and their features are totally different. Furthermore, their background is diverse, so their actions and development vary, which gives the story a refresh of the casual generic characters that appeared in the season * cough tra *.
Art and animation are good. The fights are not ugly; the effects are acceptable, followed by good movement and a proper configuration that varies from one mage to another. Also, the powers and Armanox are subtle. The real world has beautiful and vivid colors, and the magical world changes according to the scenario.
The sound is excellent and the VO is acceptable. I think the most influential part is how the interpretation conveys some feelings to the public. I know it’s not a great VO, but it’s okay. Also, I’m glad to hear Aoi Eir singing again (well, she came back several months ago, but I’m happy she has recovered as I expressed to her in the past), the opening is good and has good lyrics.
Finally, the show has a different air than the usual magic fight series. It is refreshing, and if it was an experiment, it ended acceptably. I cannot complain about Granbelm. The series has good pacing, the story fragments are explained in the perfect time, and they help the characters to grow and shine. Yes, the show is not excellent, it could have been better, but it is the season’s hidden gem and deserves to have a second chance.
English: Wakaba Girl
MAL Score: 6.89
Wakaba Kohashi, a sheltered rich girl, dreams of becoming a fashionable and trendy gyaru because she admires their outgoing and carefree nature. With this goal in mind, Wakaba begins the school year hoping to make her high school debut as a gyaru. On the first day of class, she meets the pure Moeko Tokita, the serious Nao Mashiba, and the eccentric Mao Kurokawa, and the four of them quickly become friends as they learn about and imitate each other’s lifestyles.
Wakaba*Girl follows the adventures of these four friends while they experience events like school festivals, waterpark trips, and gym class tests. Along the way, Wakaba discovers what it is like to live as a regular student while Nao, Moeka, and Mao catch a glimpse into the life of a rich family. With never a dull moment in their lives, the four girls make sure to live each day to the fullest.
The story tell us about Wakaba who is a rich girl trying to learn the common things that are done by commoners, she wanted to be a ‘gyaru’ which her friends help her, it was cute to see them doing girl things like eating ice cream, hanging out and more which Wakaba really takes it to the next level. The cultural festival scene was also fun, enjoying to see Wakaba crowned as the winner and yeah. Overall, it’s a fair amount that i enjoy looking at the story as there is nothing much on the plotline except trying to become gyaru but glad that the story is not too complex to understand, as this is basically slice of life.
From my perspective, i already know that this author is the same person who write Kiniro Mosaic, since the character designs are obvious. Background image are not too saturated, and animations are not that bad either, great job Nexus studio! Would love to see more of your works.
Well, this is the second anime where i don’t hear any ED song aside from Wakako, just only the OP, the OP is really catchy , i enjoy hearing it. Aside from that, most of the seiyuus are the seiyuu i’ve known like Ozawa Ari and Rie Murakawa whom they voice acted Wakaba and Nao. Great voicing! While Ichimichi Mao voiced Mao Kurokawa, i never know she can voice different way which she already voice acted Gakkou Gurashi’s Wakasa Yuuri and
Izawa Mikako where she voiced Moeko, kinda cute to hear. Overall, it was enjoyable to listen all the seiyuus voice.
I do enjoy Wakaba, since she love to explore new things which she hasn’t done in the past, i love seeing her doing stuff at the next level, like taking pic of foods repeatedly and taking a huge bite of Moeko ice-cream. She does react very funny but very cute. I find her interesting for a rich girl trying to be a gyaru. Nao, does really like to act like tomboyish since she kept saying boku but she tend not to use in front of them since she loves the boys-love genre.
Overall, i do enjoy watching Wakaba for my loveable wee hours of saturday, it alerted me to wake up before going to school as i do love watching cgdct, with the season over, wouldn’t be a fun saturday wee hours anymore, but i do gonna enjoy with fall anime as they would have more SoLs and CGDCT airing but hopefully on Saturday.
So i do hope you guys enjoy reading this review, hope it’s helpful to you though there are some of it can be a bit nonsense since my brain is overloaded with stuffs, but yeah do enjoy and have a nice day!~
P.S get me a season two for this.
The history is not something very complex, by the way, it is pretty simple. But the anime is so interesting that makes you want to watch more even without a complex history behind.
The humor is nice. Particularly I’ve liked a lot the animation and expressions of the characters, it is “one more point” that made this anime so funny.
The characters are so different between each other, and it’s nice and funny to see their friendship because of this. They are very cute too!
The only thing I didn’t like so much was the fact that the episodes are pretty short (seven minutes each one), the anime is pretty interesting and I wish I could watch more. That’s why I’m giving rate nine.
Conclusion: I recommend a lot this anime if you are looking for a simple history and humor.
Not wanting to waste time, Wakaba soon latches on to the first group of girls she meets. This forms the quartet of friends who we’ll be following through the school year, & what a bunch they are: Wakaba is rich & naive; Nao is “rotten” & a bit boyish; Mao is the impulsive one & speaks in the third person; & Moeko is moe. Together they’ll go to the usual places, talk about the usual things, & get into the usual misunderstandings.
Wakaba Girl is by the same mangaka who graced us with Kiniro Mosaic, & it seems likely that it’s the success of that show which resulted in this one, which ended circulation in 2013, also getting the anime treatment. It’s certainly clear why it was Kirino Mosaic & not Wakaba Girl was the one that became the success it has. For lack of a better way to put it, if Kirino Mosaic is like eating cake, then Wakaba Girl is like eating refined sugar.
The components to a good cute girl show are there. The moe character designs, vibrant colour palette, voice actresses trying really hard to reach the upper limits of human hearing, the day to day vignettes about girls doing things & girls crying over what great friends they are. It’s all here, all arranged in such a way that feels like Wakaba Girl was practice for what would become Kirino Mosaic (although they began publication at around the same time).
The setting is one that’s been done to death several times over. The characters lack anything that makes them seem more than just cute girl cutouts. Wakaba being a rich girl whose spent a lot of time abroad is simply used to make fairly pedestrian jokes resulting from her apparently having never had friends, seen snow or used a kotatsu before. The other three girls are just kind of there for the most part, there to react to Wakaba rather than do much themselves.
Occasionally it can even get rather mean spirited. One episode, for example, sees Nao try to enter a beauty contest, only to first be all but told she isn’t good looking enough by her friends. Then, after a self-inflicted cold causes her to have to let Wakako take her place, they throw out the dress she designed & made herself in favour of a bland maid outfit. Wakako wins, of course, because rich girls are amasing. Maybe that’s funny, & maybe there was a point to it. But I didn’t laugh, not once throughout this predictable cute girls doing cute things parade that did precisely nothing to distinguish itself.
It’s inoffensive, & it does enough that If you’re a committed fan to the cute girl thing, Wakaba Girl might be alright if you need a quick sweetness fix & aren’t picky so long as there’s girls with oversize heads smiling on screen. Otherwise, you can pass this one by. It’s sweet, but it lacks heart.
3: Darwin’s Game
English: Darwin’s Game
MAL Score: 7.27
High school student Kaname Sudou receives an invitation from a classmate to play Darwin’s Game, a mobile game he has never heard of. However, as soon as he opens the application, a green snake suddenly pops out from his phone screen and bites his neck, leaving him unconscious. Waking up in the infirmary without any signs of a snake bite, he is told by the school to take the rest of the day off. Although he is puzzled by what has happened, he dismisses the surreal experience as a hallucination and boards the train home.
Unfortunately, his curiosity gets the better of him and he uses the application once again. As the application appears to be just like any other battle game, Kaname breathes out a sigh of relief and decides to start his first match. However, the pleasant surprise is short-lived, as his in-game opponent unexpectedly appears right in front of him and attempts to hunt him down with a knife.
As he desperately runs for his life, Kaname puts two and two together and realizes that Darwin’s Game is not an ordinary game, but rather, it’s a brutal fight for survival.
Logic, reason, reality… these are things I simply do not care about. But because of an anime called Darwin’s Game, we need to talk about them. And by we, I do mean me, so take a seat and let me tell you why this anime is crap.
Darwin’s Game tries to pass itself off as a battle royale, one of my favorite sub-genres, but it really isn’t. I expected it to be dumb, shlocky, and nonsensical, which has never stopped me from enjoying an anime before. So I prepared to suspend my disbelief, but nothing could prepare me for what I have witnessed.
The titular death game everyone plays, shortened to D-Game, is a fight to the death downloadable right on your phone. Players enlist to earn cash money and to get away with murder. It’s also a dueling arena, a power struggle between clans, a citywide scavenger hunt, and it grants every player a random superpower known as a Sigil. There’s a lot going on in this show, it’s chaotic, which is good because chaos is my middle name. The problem is, they never stop adding new concepts, even until the final episode. There’s no shortage of lore and mystery to untangle here, but it’s so confusing and underwritten that I don’t think even the writer understands it all.
No one knows how an entire city is emptied for the game. No one knows how the game works. There here are new rules constantly being added. Skyscrapers are destroyed, people are slaughtered in the streets, entire city blocks are reduced to rubble. And all of society was taking a nap. Every now and then, the entire population wakes up and realizes all this shit happened, and they say “Hey guys what happened to our city? How did everyone sleep through it?” That’s a question that the author doesn’t seem to have a grasp on. Apparently, the game blocks your phone signal, but it still takes place in the real world. In the first episode, someone tries shooting the protagonist multiple times and no one calls the cops. Later on, civilians run over a player, an invisible man, dent their bumper, then drive off without a care in the world. They look around and see the terrified protagonist, but they don’t ask him if he’s ok or if he knows what they hit. They just leave. This is so detached from reality. Although the guy who was trying to kill him was a Panda, so I do like that.
I can’t stress this enough, but I do not care about what is logically possible in reality. Make it stupid, make it ridiculous. I will enjoy it. Punch a guy’s head off, topple a building, make a crazy yandere fall in love with the bland protagonist. Where I draw the line between dumb fun and inane writing is internal logic, which Darwin’s Game has none. For starters, the superpowers are not consistent at all. The main protagonist, Kaname, has the ability to create anything he can think of, any weapon imaginable. It’s awesome. Contrast this with a dude who can detect when people are lying. Not awesome. These powers are incomparable. Another main character is essentially a super-computer who can freeze time, she’s absurdly overpowered.
The logic is skewed to give the main characters as much power as possible, which is admittedly sometimes really fun to watch play out. I loved seeing Kaname pull a machine gun out of his ass to scare bad guys; Or a thirteen-year-old professional sniper evade a dozen burly bad guys and dodge a moving train within seconds. It’s kind of amazing how dumb this show is. But from the start, it’s clear who is expendable and who will never die. Their abilities make them practically invincible unless the author contrives some way for them to get hurt. Keep in mind, there are dozens of random fighters in either clan who have different abilities. There’s no telling how powerful they are or what their power even is. This means anyone can gain a new ability at any time. Unpredictability can be exciting, but it’s hard to enjoy a clusterfuck when you have no idea what’s happening.
Add this to the ugly animation and generic background music, and you’ve got a recipe for boredom. The action is supposed to be the appeal of the show, the rest of it is just the characters trying to figure out how the hell game functions. To this day, no one knows! Even after watching the whole show, I have no idea what Kaname was supposed to look like. His face changes every other shot like he’s made of melting clay. The artists prioritized animation over consistent character designs, probably because the story wouldn’t work without action. Other than a few special occasions, the animation looks pretty awful too. If you pause at any point while people are moving, you’ll notice the perspective is off, limbs look too big or too small.
Kaname, aside from being the personification of mashed potatoes, isn’t that bad of a character. Yeah, he’s an edgelord, but who isn’t these days? My problem with him is that he gained his overpowered sigil out of pure coincidence, and it allows him to succeed in the game. He does not develop until late in the series. Lucky circumstances cause him to succeed, dumb decisions cause him to temporarily fail. He meets powerful and agreeable players, who he dick whips ruthlessly until they join him. Ladies throw themselves at him, worshiping his sigil, to the point of insanity. Dear God, impregnate me Kaname-sama! There were one or two scenes when he was relatable, but that was all.
As for the other characters, we have Yuno Gasai with twin tails, a crazy child who is convinced she has the ghost of her twin in her body. She just whines for most of the show and does nothing. Might as well show her half-naked for the plot! The 13-year-old supercomputer sniper girl, she’s pretty cool. The human lie detector, this game is balanced. The Florist, a man trying to earn money to save his daughter, valid reason. Then he develops a hero complex for reasons. He has a heartfelt dialogue with the sniper girl, but afterward, he regurgitates his same pointless desire to live and die a hero undigested. HE learns nothing from one of the best scenes in the show. The main villain, big Wang himself, is another psychopathic edgelord who fits his role as the leader of the Bad Clan. There’s nothing to him, still, I have to give props to his voice actor for his great performance.
Ever since watching the classic Japanese film Battle Royale (that the Hunger Games shamelessly copied), I’ve loved death games. I think I have made a good argument for why Darwin’s Game is a very shitty anime, and I could end the review here. But I need to make it clear why this is also a shitty death game anime as well. I’ve enjoyed bad death game anime in the past, I love the catastrophe that is Mirai Nikki. I expected Darwin’s Game to be a fix for my shlocky battle royale addiction, but I was baited. Kaname basically uses his power and *sexy* personality to sway his enemies he encounters into joining his team. This is where Darwin’s Game ceases being a battle royale and becomes a battle between clans. I didn’t sign up for this! Worst of all, a lot of the violence is censored. There was a badass scene when a dude punches off a guy’s head. Well, it would have been badass if they hadn’t censored the shit out of it! Fuck censorship! Some guy’s arm got chopped off and it’s shown as a silhouette because they didn’t want to offend the children. Kill your shitty child for all I care! I want to see blood, guts, filth!
I feel like I’m committing some kind of crime by reviewing this garbage. It’s not worth the effort I put into writing this review. It shouldn’t be as popular as it is; People are going to see this and think this is what anime is like. They’re going to think we’re all babbling angsty babies who believe this trash is high art. It’s obscene that I feel the need to announce I know this anime is bad when it’s clear from just the first few minutes how shitty it is.
Yeah, it sounds a little ridiculous (and borderline plagiarized in some aspects), but you know what? I actually ended up really liking it. And that’s not because it has a thought provoking narrative or satisfying character development or anything like that, because the show honestly doesn’t. It does however provide ample entertainment in the form of quirky characters duking it out in a fun battle royale environment. That’s exactly what I expected to get out of this anime and it’s what Darwin’s Game delivered, so it’s a success in my eyes.
One thing that Darwin’s Game does that many others in the genre do as well is to make the setting of the story take place in a realistic world modeling our own. This however raises questions once the survival game starts, such as how the heck can such a game of such a momentous scale be orchestrated and executed in this society, how on earth are people able to receive magical abilities just by opening an app, and why does the game even exist in the first place? Maybe Darwin’s Game’s longer source material explores these questions more, but this anime adaptation certainly doesn’t, which I’ve noticed has caused some people to view it in a negative light. All I have to say is why does it matter? Yes, an explanation of things is always important and necessary, but this anime is only the beginning stage of Darwin’s Game. It’s not meant to provide all the answers, just explore interesting scenarios and establish preliminary character relationships. This isn’t a thought provoking anime by any means, and I just wanted to say that this show is meant to be watched for some good natured fun, and if you’re looking for something deeper, I can almost guarantee that you’ll be met with disappointment.
The plot itself is pretty simplistic, but effective. It follows protagonist Kaname, a normal high school student, who gets abruptly thrown into a death game after opening the titular phone app Darwin’s Game. It’s easy to predict that he makes allies throughout his journey and slowly progresses in power, but it’s the way that these points are portrayed that makes them effective. Every single one of Kaname’s teammates that he makes by the end of the anime besides the analytical loli Rein he ends up fighting before becoming friends. Now while this does seem basic, I actually really like this approach. Most other survival games may have the protagonist make one or two allies with initial enemies, but they just usually up and murder everyone else. Kaname is different in that he tries to befriend all his enemies, and it never once felt forced because there was always a reasonable explanation for why these people who had just been trying to literally kill each other earlier would team up.
And despite it’s short run time, I actually ended up liking the bonds between the members of Kaname’s clan Sunset Ravens. By all means I shouldn’t, because there’s been hardly any time for their relationships to develop and they don’t have great chemistry yet or anything, but there’s something about this group that I just like. Their banter during the car chase episode near the end got me to smile, and I just have a feeling that if there’s ever a sequel, I’ll start to like them even more.
What ended up surprising me most about this anime was just how normal the characters have ended up being thus far. I’ve watched enough survival games, both good and bad, to naturally come to expect the majority of the characters to have absolutely insane character traits. But in Darwin’s Game, they’re surprisingly mellow by comparison. I didn’t even hear a single maniacal laugh given by the main girl Shuka, who I had assumed would be a Yuno Gasai knockoff. Now don’t get me wrong, she’s possessive of Kaname and kills people, but it is a death game after all, and she’s given an understandable, albeit simplistic, reason for participating. The “craziest” she gets is getting jealous over Kaname talking with other woman, which is pretty standard in anime (and probably real life too, but I wouldn’t know…) In the end, Shuka ends up being just a regular badass anime babe with some cute mannerisms and outfits, which I’m perfectly fine with.
So I’m basically saying if you’re here because you want to watch a possessive yandere murder everyone for the sake of the one she loves while laughing hysterically, you’re probably in the wrong place. Sorry!
Speaking of laughing, the voice that stood out to me the most was actually Wang’s, the main antagonist of this arc. While none of the girls were crazy psychos, this guy certainly was, and if you couldn’t tell by his appearance or actions, it was definitely evident in his voice and crazy laughs. Wang isn’t listed under the characters section here on MAL at the time of writing this so I don’t know who is credited with voicing him, but to me he definitely sounds like Yoshitsugu Matsuoka just having fun in an antagonistic role, and he just sounds great! Besides Wang’s voice, the rest of the anime’s technical aspects were generally lacking. The other voices were fine and I did like Rein’s soft-spoken loli voice. The theme songs were catchy and I got pumped up whenever that death metal sounding insert track would play during certain fights. However, it’s the battles themselves and the visuals in general that were a letdown. The art itself is pretty standard, but for some reason I was put off by the anatomy of some of the characters’ faces, primarily Kaname. During many fights, the anime does something that I totally dislike, which is the implementation of many, and I really mean many, still shots. Having unmoving panels with characters talking and sound effects playing over them when a battle is supposed to be going on is just the epitome of laziness in animation in my eyes, especially when the images aren’t even drawn particularly good or anything.The visuals redeem themselves a little with the car chase scene, which I thought implemented a combination of hand drawn and cgi visuals quite nicely. But overall, the animation definitely could have been more polished and aesthetically pleasing.
Overall, Darwin’s Game didn’t bring anything new to the table, that much I’ll concede. The story up to this point has been pretty standard and the characters are as well. But you know what? I still like it. It’s an entertaining anime, in fact one of the most enjoyable to watch that I’ve seen in awhile. I binged watched every episode bar the last in a single sitting, and I had fun the whole way through. And in my mind, being able to captivate and entertain an audience, no matter what the means, is the most important aspect of any show. And for me, Darwin’s Game succeeded in this, so it gets a pass in my book.
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. Looking at the episode count, you’re probably asking yourself how on Earth this show could cover the manga in just 11 episodes? The simple answer is impossible because the manga contains well over ongoing 80+ chapters. Even with an hour special, Darwin’s Game falters on its strange pacing. We’ll get to that later but for storytelling purposes, Darwin’s Game does try to connect itself with the genres it has to work with. Specially, the first hour special throws main protagonist Kaname Sudo into a survival game from his phone. In the digital age today, everyone has a phone so the author wanted the audience to be familiarized with the elements. That’s fine and dandy until you realize how that phone throws Kaname into a labyrinth of his worst nightmares. Now as a contestant of a dangerous survival game, Kaname must not only battle but survive with each episode raising its stakes. For its very purpose, Darwin’s Game takes on the survival game genre perhaps influenced by similar franchise such as Battle Royale or Mirai Nikki. I don’t blame the author for having upcoming with such an unoriginal idea but for good sakes, this type of recycled plot is anything but unique.
However, I may have misspoke on the actual reason why this show is called “Darwin’s Game”. Based on the Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, it would seem the author has decided to apply some of the same principles into the storytelling and characters. For that reason, this anime is more about surviving than discovering the truth of the Darwin’s Game. Getting back into the main story, Kaname is initially clueless about his position until he realizes that lives are at stake including his own. The first episode bounds him into a chaotic fight that puts him into near death positions. If that wasn’t enough, he also learns that in order to survive, he must rely on special abilities while competing against others. The objective of the game is to kill others to collect their points and in return, they can cash into those points for money. In the beginning, Kaname’s lack of allies puts him into a compromising position as he is alone with no one to trust. It isn’t until he defeats other competitors and begins to build his own clan of allies. Among the first of these allies is a girl named Shuka Karino. Coming from a rich family and dressed in a lavish way, Shuka becomes his most trusted friend and perhaps a romantic interest. Their relationship is built on reliance at first but later flourishes into trust. The anime doesn’t explore much of their romantic side, however. If you’re looking for that, don’t bother because Darwin’s Game at its core is about survival. The Darwin’s Theory of Evolution deems those who are worthy to be competitors in this game and Shuka is one of them.
And as the story progresses, we are introduced to other formidable players such as the 13 year old prodigy Rein Kashiwagi, Ruji Masesaka, and even Sui, a character with a dual personality. These characters all possesses special abilities in the form of “Sigils”. In fact, Sigils play an imperative role in the overall Darwin’s Game world for each one has a different ability. For instance, Kaname’s Sigil allows him to recreate items and use them in battle. Shuka has the ability to use wires as weapons and thanks to her agility, she can utilize these wires as a killing tool. Rein’s “Laplace” sigil allows her to analyze vectors and use that information to her advantage. The idea the creators wanted to enforce into these character abilities is that each of them has potential to change the outcome of the game. But the bottom line is that despite having all these creative ideas, the main characters suffers from general characterization. It’s very difficult to get invested into any one of them besides Kaname. The show pushes him as the main guy who is protected by plot armor and his allies. Kaname himself is designed as a generic teenager that you can find in just about any similar gimmicky shows. His relationship with the main cast is untimely written and lacks commitment. I can honestly say that there’s no character pair in this show that has emotional appeal. It’s also hard to root for anyone in this show because by the end of the day, we all know who’s going to be alive.
Despite not facing production issues, Darwin’s Game animation quality lacks any distinctive qualities and relies far too much into its action elements. Character designs looks uninspiring with almost every character having the same face. Main protagonist Kaname adapts a high school student look that can easily turn heads away. On the other hand, I do applaud the character designs for the female cast such as Shuka. That dark scarlet dress she has on is something most viewers will have a hard time taking eyes off of. And if you’re looking for some fan service, you’ll be pleased to know that the anime loves to occasionally have the characters ends up in erotic-like positions or camera angles. Beyond that, Darwin’s Game visual appeal is mediocre at best and insufferable at worst.
Honestly, I think I’ve given up on the whole idea about survival games being translated into anime form. Too many times, this type of show aims at a niche audience and reuses the same ideas over and over. Plus, it seems this adaptation’s goal was to advertise the manga because there’s much more content out there in storytelling. However, take my advice and don’t throw your money at this franchise. It’s not worth it and this decade is just getting started.
2: Comic Girls
MAL Score: 7.40
Kaoruko “Chaos” Moeta is a young manga artist who is down on her luck. She wants to draw manga about high school girls, but her storyboards are bland, her art uninspired, and her premises weak. Her concerned, exasperated editor comes up with an idea: push Chaos to be more social. So, by her recommendation, Chaos moves into a dormitory for female manga artists. She soon meets the other residents: Tsubasa Katsuki, a shounen manga artist; Ruki Irokawa, who draws erotic manga popular with women; and Koyume Koizuka, a shoujo artist who, like Chaos, has yet to be serialized. Quickly striking up a friendship with these girls, Chaos finds new inspiration for her manga and continues to grow her creativity.
Comic Girls is a showcase of the daily lives of these manga artists. Will Chaos finally be able to make her debut and become serialized? None of the girls know, but they will all do their best to help each other become the best artists they can be.
Cute Girls learning to overcome their problems and flourish as true manga artists by bonding, having fun and living the life of a high school girl as they confront their struggles together as friends and fellow professionals.
Based off a popular 4 panel manga of the same name Comic Girls is a comedy and slice of life anime that gives us the rare opportunity to see what the life of an aspiring manga artist is like and the kind of struggles that they have to face as they try to balance their personal lives with their professional careers. The first episode of the series made a pretty good impression on me and did a great job of hooking me as I was curious to see whether Kao’s would be able to fit in a dorm and live alongside fellow manga artists her age and learn from them to save her career as a manga artist over a period of just one year. I’m glad that I decided to watch the series right to the end as it was a series that I really enjoyed watching.
Taking place in modern day Japan the overall story of Comic Girls follows the life of Kaoruko Moeta a shy and timid high school girl and aspiring manga artist that thanks to a series of disastrous manga sales is forced to attend a well-known manga dorm for female manga artists in an effort to improve her manga drawing skills. At the dorm, she meets a number of fellow manga artists who while working in different genres of manga all share a passion for manga that Kao’s can relate too. These include the kind and older sister like Ruki, the energetic and positive Koyume, the tomboyish but confident Tsubasa and the quiet and eccentric but surprisingly understanding Fura. As Kaoruko lives and interacts with this colourful cast at the dorm and at school Kaoruko would soon learn that being a manga artist is not just about trying to imagine an idea that you have never encountered or experienced before but rather its about drawing in ideas that you yourself have enjoyed doing with the friends that you have befriended and bonded with. One cannot draw a manga until they have experienced the scenes that they want to draw with their friends.
Kaoruko played by new seiyuu Hikaru Akao in her first main role as a seiyuu is one of the main characters of the series and is the series main protagonist. A high school girl and an aspiring manga artist at the beginning of the series Kaoruko better known as her pen name Kaos was a nervous and mentally fragile girl that had very low self-esteem and was very weak to any form of pressure. While passionate towards manga and a relatively hard worker Kaos was hampered greatly by the fact that she has yet to experience the scenes that she draws in her manga panels which ended up causing quite the negative feedback from her readers as to them her scenes were unrealistic. As a result of this Kaos was given the opportunity to move to a female dorm designed specifically to allow female manga artists to focus and improve their skills. As a result of her low self-esteem and nervousness, Kaos at the beginning of the series had some trouble fitting in at the dorm and had great trouble in befriending her fellow manga artists who were the same age as she was due to the fact that until now few people had been nice to her. In line with this fear is Kao’s belief that she is merely a background character when compared to the results that have been secured by others the same age as her.
As the series goes on, however, Kao’s personality gradually changes as a result of her new-found friendships and bonds with her fellow manga artists and dorm mates. As a result of being able to not just form friendships but also experience the very actions that she will need to draw within her manga panels Kaos was able to realise that no manga artist is ever alone and that the best way to improve your skills as a manga artist is to first improve yourself and secondly experience the very events that you are drawing into your manga by living a life as an actual high school girl. While still nervous and timid to a degree Kaos becomes determined to change herself and live the life that she had been missing and draw what she experiences into her manga. While Kaos in the beginning of the series was hesitant about helping her seniors within the dorm as a result of her determination to improve herself this fear of the unknown gradually vanishes and she becomes more earnest and willing to help others as well as developing an interest into finding out why someone is acting the way that they are with this latter one being more prevalent in her interactions with the dorms resident horror manga artist Fura. The character of Kaos I felt was an interesting character that was both well designed and developed. Seeing Kaos transform from a quiet and meek girl that knew nothing about what an actual high school girl’s life is like to one that was determined to live the life of one and use the memories that she makes with her friends to improve her skills as a manga artist I thought was one of the best things about her character. I felt that her seiyuu Hikaru Akao really did an excellent job of portraying the character of Kaos.
Ruki voiced by veteran seiyuu Saori Oonishi of Food wars and Clockwork planet fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Kao’s fellow dorm mates. A high school freshman and classmate of Kaos Ruki, unlike Kaos, is an established manga artist with her genre being teens love. A confident, imaginative and positive young woman Ruki is someone that easily fits the image of an older sister being not just kind and considerate towards her juniors but also perceptive enough to notice when something is bothering them. As an experienced manga artist Ruki knows very well the types of challenges that aspiring manga artists face as they try to break into the industry and make their mark on it and as a result while hardworking and earnest tries hard to create the perfect balance between her personal life and her pro career all the while watching over and encouraging her kohai’s.
As the series goes on and as Ruki’s character gets expanded upon it can be seen that Ruki also has a fair share of struggles that she has to deal with. While an experienced manga artist that has already established her place within the manga industry it can be seen that Ruki has mixed feelings about this. While happy that she has managed to establish a career in a field that she is interested in it can be seen that Ruki is somewhat embarrassed about the way people see her due to the fact that she’s an ero manga artist which isn’t helped by the fact that for whatever reason people often see her actions as being of the lewd nature even if she did not mean it to be so. A fact that I felt was hilarious as it contrasted with Ruki’s usually composed attitude. In line with this is Ruki’s complex in that she is conscious of the fact that her fans would imagine her as someone that is sexy and mature when she herself is not. As a result of this fear Ruki is shown to be wary of meeting new people and would go to great lengths to stop people from seeing her work on her manga due to both her embarrassment at having others see her work and at seeing the doubts that she has regarding whether this genre is really the one that she wants to be known for. As a result of these fears Ruki was shown to have a very deep fear of book signings as she was conscious of the reactions of her fans to her actual physical appearance an aspect of her that I really liked as it showed that no matter how skilled one was at writing and drawing the person behind that can be someone that’s far from what one can imagine their favourite author to be. As a character, I felt that Ruki was one that was well designed and developed with her many fears and embarrassments contrasting well with her usual calm and mature self. The older sister like personality that she exhibited I felt helped greatly in allowing her juniors to overcome the fear and struggles that they faced in making their first marks on their careers. I felt that her seiyuu Saori Oonishi really did an excellent job at portraying the character of Ruki.
Tsubasa voiced by veteran seiyuu singer Rie Takahashi of Re Zero and Konosuba fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Kao’s fellow dorm mates. A high school freshman and a classmate of Kaos Tsubasa is unlike Kaos and Koyume an established manga artist with her speciality being a Shonen manga artist. A hardworking, positive and kind person by nature Tsubasa is someone that while quiet is someone that is friendly and kind to everyone that she meets whether they are juniors or adults. A confident and steadfast person by nature Tsubasa on initial appearance can easily be mistaken for a boy due to the fact that she insists on adapting the guise of a tomboy to hide her true identity from her friends and schoolmates. As a result of this Tsubasa is seen by many of her fellow schoolmates as someone that is cool, focused and calm something that she really appreciates as she feels that her normal self does not fit the image of her chosen speciality. While being less skilled with words than her fellow manga artist Ruki Tsubasa is shown to be someone that doesn’t mince words and is someone that can be quite direct with her praise and is always willing to offer her honest opinion on something when asked for advice by others. Despite being only a high school girl Tsubasa is shown to be someone that’s mature for her age and can easily take control of situations easily someone that I really like about her character.
As the series goes on Tsubasa’s personality and character starts to gradually change as she interacts with her friends and fellow manga artists. While a quiet person by nature as the series goes on it can be seen that Tsubasa is someone that can get really focused into her work to the point where she can actually transform into the main character of her manga via the use of cosplay a fact that I found to be really hilarious. While having a well known and popular series can often make people arrogant this is not true for Tsubasa who seems to be fine with just being able to draw manga to her heart’s content showing how humble she is regarding her profession. This aspect of her goes well with Tsubasa’s core belief that only by drawing the best you can, can you get closer to the idea that you want. A prominent trait of Tsubasa’s character is her insistence on adopting a tomboy persona that stems from the belief that her true appearance and the one that she adapts when going back home is unsuitable and not fitting the image of her speciality. While very determined to maintain her cool and mature tomboyish side to her fans and friends this feeling gradually changes as a result of Koyume’s actions that cause her to regain some of her girly spirit. The character of Tsubasa I felt was an interesting one that was both well designed and developed with the constant transformation into her manga’s main character via the use of cosplay and the hilarity that this ensures being one of the best aspects of her character. Additionally, the struggle that Tsubasa has with her family and the decision to adopt an entirely new persona to allow her to better fit in her manga speciality I felt was well done and showed how determined Tsubasa was to make a name for herself in the manga world with or without her family’s support. I felt that her seiyuu Rie Takahashi really did an excellent job at portraying the character of Tsubasa.
Koyume voiced by veteran seiyuu Kaede Hondo of Battle Girls High school and Girlish Number fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Kao’s fellow dorm mates. A high school freshman and schoolmate of Kaos Koyume like Kaos is an aspiring manga artist that while new already has a lot of experience in the industry due to her willingness to learn. A carefree, confident and positive girl by nature Koyume is someone that can freely fit into any environment that she enters whether it’s a new school or a new dorm due to her positive, friendly and caring nature. An intelligent and fast thinking person by nature Koyume though still a new artist approaches her work as a shojo manga artist with both determination and passion aspiring to be a successful manga artist within the field like her fellow dorm mates. While having a vivid imagination Koyume at the beginning of the series had great trouble drawing material for her manga due to a lack of knowledge on romance matters. As a result of this at the beginning of the series, she like Kaos were in a state where they were forced to find new inspiration to improve their skills.
As the series goes on and Koyume’s character and personality gets expanded upon it can be seen that while confident and positive Koyume is someone that can easily get embarrassed and lose her normal composure which is best shown when discussing matters related to romance and her relationship and admiration of her fellow manga artist and friend Tsubasa. This latter interest in Tsubasa as a romantic partner is also used as a running gag within the series as Koyume has a habit of picturing her as the male in her manga stories to her embarrassment and the amusement of her friends. While possessing boundless optimism and faith in her skills as a manga artist Koyume can become discouraged if people don’t like her work but this latter part is offset by the fact that her happy and go lucky attitude always enables her to return back from the brink more energised and determined than before. The character of Koyume I felt was an interesting character that was both well designed and developed with her ability to stay positive and energetic at all times to offset Kao’s sudden mood swings being the best aspects of her character. Additionally, her ability to come up with random ideas and expand them into crazy scenarios I thought was something that matched well with her personality. Her romantic interest into Tsubasa was also an aspect that I liked as it allowed us to see Koyume in a rare sight of panicking in embarrassment of having a secret found out. I felt that her seiyuu Kaede Hondo did an excellent job at portraying the character of Koyume.
Suzu Fura voiced by veteran seiyuu Reina Ueda of Relife fame is one of the main support characters of the series. A fellow manga artist and dorm mate of the girls Suzu Fura who is often called Fura sensei by the girls due to her experience is a quiet, isolated and awkward person by nature that seemingly prefers to stay within her room instead of socialising with her fellow dorm mates. A horror manga artist by trade Fura due to her awkwardness and lack of social skills is someone that has few friends in her life due to her scary nature that causes people to avoid her. As a result of this Fura often spends long periods of time in isolation creating material for her manga. As a result of this isolation, her first meeting with Kaos was about as much as a shock for her as it was for Kaos. In line with her isolation and her speciality as a horror manga artist Fura adapts a very distinctive physical appearance of white clothing that contrasts well with her dark hair that covers her eyes. An outfit that I thought suits both her chosen field and her personality of loving to hear others scream in terror really well.
As the series goes on and Fura’s personality and character gets expanded upon it can be seen that Fura while a scary and somewhat unsettling person to be near is actually someone that is incredibly lonely due to her lack of friends. As a result of this loneliness Fura often compensates by acting overly friendly with people that she knows trying hard to savour the warmth that comes from being near people that she’s familiar with which is best shown in the strong bonds that she manages to establish with Kaos despite the latter’s initial fear of her. As a result of her awkwardness around people, it can be seen that Fura has a great deal of difficulty interacting with people that she’s not familiar with and as a result can easily misunderstand their actions. Because of this personality, Fura is someone that is unused to people being kind to her and as a result, she holds people that do so in very high regard counting them as one of her dear friends. When relaxed and in an environment that suits her though it can be seen that Fura reverts back to her normal personality that she keeps hidden behind her scary one a personality that contrasts a great deal with her usual one. Instead of being scary and awkward around people in this personality Fura is instead a kind, attentive and patient person that can be surprisingly talkative and is a very capable teacher that uses both jokes and scares to allow her students to concentrate more on their work a far cry from her default persona. As a character, I felt that the character of Fura was an interesting one that was both well designed and developed with the contrast between her two personalities and her gradual opening of her heart to others as she bonds with and befriends her fellow manga artists and dorm mates being the best aspects of her character. I felt that her seiyuu Reina Ueda really did a fantastic job of portraying the character of Fura.
Animation wise I thought that the dorm that the main cast live and work at and the school that they attend as students were very well designed and did a great job of showing that a manga artist is able to work from anywhere as long as they have the creative resources that they need to create their work. The character designs for the characters whether for the main cast or the supporting cast I felt was well designed and matched well with the personalities of each character. The inclusion of manga setting scenes to illustrate individual scenes within the anime I thought was also well designed and matched well with the theme of manga creation. In terms of music, I really liked the series OST as it matched well with the many different emotions and feelings that the cast experience in each scene. The opening and ending themes for the series which was Memories and Namida wa Misenai which was sung by the series main cast I felt was pretty good with both conveying a cheerful and positive mood to the listener and matching well with the series main theme. In terms of voice acting, I felt that each member of the voice cast was able to do an excellent job of portraying their assigned characters. In particular, I feel that Hikaru Akao, Saori Oonishi, Rie Takahashi, Kaede Hondo and Reina Ueda who portrayed the characters of Kaos, Ruki, Tsubasa, Koyume and Fura all deserve special praise as I felt that they all did a fantastic job at portraying their assigned characters. In addition, though I didn’t cover the members of the supporting cast I also felt that Aya Endo, Minami Tsuda and Ayaka Nanase who portrayed the characters of Ririka the dorms matron, Mayu Kao’s editor and Miharu who was the homeroom teacher of Kao’s class all deserve special mention as I felt that they did an excellent job of supporting the main cast in this series.
Overall Comic girls was a series that I really enjoyed watching and had among its strong points an interesting premise, an excellent story, interesting and well-developed characters, strong voice acting and its inclusion of real-world issues into the professional lives of the girls.
The premise of the show I felt was an interesting one as unlike seiyuu’s and the making of anime the creation of manga and what the life of a manga artist actually is like is something that is largely unknown to us. Unlike anime and seiyuu’s the age of a manga artist is hard to ascertain because as human beings our skills and our innate talents at a particular action manifest at different times and as a result it’s perhaps not unusual to have talented manga artists to actually be high school freshman instead of say young adults that had just entered society. However, as a result of this unique premise of having the main cast as high school girls, we are also presented with an opportunity to see the types of problems that both manga artists and teenagers such as the members of the main cast face. This combination of having the main cast experience not just the problems that they face in their professional lives such as the dreaded slump that many a manga artist and light novel author has felt as well as more personal problems like being afraid of attending book signings for your work due to being afraid of what your fans would feel at seeing your actual physical appearance I felt was well done as it allowed us to see the kind of problems both personal and professional that manga artists can feel as they both start and maintain their careers in the field of manga.
The overall story of the show I felt was also a strong point of the series as not only did it allow us to see the members of the main cast develop both as individuals and as manga artists but also allow us to see them doing so as they work alongside each other, bond with each other, have fun together and overcome problems together while at the same time not forgetting that at the end of the day they while professionals in their own right are still high school girls that are just at the beginning of their lives. Paired with this story is the strong chemistry that is established between Kaos and not just with her fellow manga artists but also with the many support staff that helps them in their everyday lives whether as high school students or as manga professionals. This chemistry when paired with the story is what really makes the story stand out as this allows us to see Kaos and the girls gradually mature as the series goes on both as individuals and as manga artists as they incorporate what they had learned from bonding with their friends into their work and improve not only themselves but also the work that they so cherish. One of the main themes of the series is, of course, the act of overcoming doubts and improving yourself to break your limits a theme that I felt was really appropriate for the series and handled really well within the series through the evolution of Kaos and the girls not just as manga artists but as individuals as well. Overall Comic girls was a series that I really enjoyed with its premise, story and the chemistry between its cast being the highlight of the series. As a final score, I would say that Comic girls would easily deserve a final score of 10/10 and is easily one of the best animes i seen this season.
I’ll say right off the bat that the series is about as simple as it sounds. It’s an anime that explores the daily life misadventures of a group of female mangaka. For a series that deals with such a simple premise, the way it executes its storytelling is just as effective. At its core, the show uses its character cast to do the storytelling. Every day is an adventure of its own as we see how these characters interact and behave. In essence, the series provides the opportunity to showcase manga making in a very casual, everyday life environment.
Our main characters consists of a group of young girls of similar age. They have nicknames and all have them different preferences in their manga tastes. For instance, Koyume prefer shoujo manga compared to other genres. Ruki loves ecchi and fan service in her work. Tsubasa’s passion for shounen manga is also reflected in personality. Then, there’s Kaoruko Moeta (Kaos) who just wants to improve herself as a manga artist after having her work met with overwhelming negative reception. The main selling point is how these characters are motivated to do what they love through their connections with each other.
As a fan of the manga, the adaptation is relatively faithful and brings the mood of the series to life. The lighthearted tone of every episode is what you can expect from most “cute girls doing cute things” shows. Now I’ll be honest with you. If this type of show isn’t what you’re familiar with or a fan of, then it may be hard to enjoy this. There’s not much character development despite the series exploring a life journey of these young mangaka. Storytelling on most parts is very simple and doesn’t get any complicated as time goes on. Every episode has a repetitive nature and it feels like if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. There are some characters the series brings in that occasionally spark more popcorn entertainment such as horror mangaka Suzu Fuura, Tsubasa’s shounen style cosplays, and various misunderstandings. However, don’t expect this series to be one that’s dramatic or even competitive. In fact, the show is hardly about competition when it comes to manga craft but instead about characters working to improve themselves. The comedy is presented through reactions, character interactions, characters’ behaviors. There’s not much characterization although we do see some of the family backgrounds of the cast. In retrospect, these characters are pretty easy to understand along with the show itself.
Nexus is a studio that’s probably known for its 2015’s anime adaptation, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry. While this series is nowhere near on that level of fan service, it still contains fan service and skinship. It’s mainly mild and nothing too distracting. In some places, it’s necessary as one of the mangaka wants to improve her skill of making “teenage love” manga. On a technical level, the series looks crisp with colorful quality and cute character designs. The series never hides Kao’s shyness or Tsubasa’s tomboy tendencies. Suzu Fuura and her mischievous personality is also animated with such intention. The series’ character designs may also be misleading at times as such characters look older than they seem. Luckily, it doesn’t hold them back as every characters’ voice fits well with their persona. The theme songs for the show overall also contains the style of what slice of life should be with mangaka theatrics.
Comic Girls, the series about mangaka striving to improve their craft did what it needed to do and I didn’t expect anything more. It’s a simple series that capitalized on the chance to explore mangaka lifestyle. It succeeds doing that through the storytelling and can even occasionally surprise you. But if you’re not a fan of this type of series, then it may be hard to look back and enjoy what it is. Still, give the show a chance and see what awaits you on the other side.
This story is focused on a group of girls who love manga and either draw one professionally, or are trying to get a series published. This proves to be difficult for our lovable protagonist, Kaos, who honestly is just awful at it, and goes to live in a dormitory for female manga artists where she meets the other main characters of the series, hopefully getting inspiration from them.
Comic Girls uses the setting really well to provide a fantastic comedy both via the characters and the use of the manga elements. This anime doesn’t focus on the profession like series as Bakuman or Shirobako do, but it’s still quite informative and, most importantly, succeeds at using it for the comedic value it wants.
There are four main characters in this story: our protagonist, Kaoruko Moeta (pen-name Kaos), who is an absurdly likeable and quite relatable girl who seems to be in constant state of panic, but is also a hard worker that you will want to adopt and protect, Tsubasa, a tomboyish girl who draws shounen manga and puts herself really seriously in the mind of the characters she creates, Ruki, who loves drawing cute things but ended up discovering her true skills at drawing lewd stuff instead to her embarassment, and Koyume, a cheerful shoujo manga artist and doughnut devourer who can’t draw guys. Their personalities balance well and make for a lot of entertaining situations, and together with fantastic (and also quite touching at times) episodes focused on each character I ended up very attached to them. The number of secondary characters is pretty short but they do well when they appear and add to the fun that comes from this anime.
The art style and character designs of the series are very visually appealing, with lots of nice character reactions and well done use of the camera angles, studio Nexus hasn’t done many things yet but I would be totally in for them doing more series in the future because they never fail to deliver in terms of quality. The music on the other side is nothing memorable but fits well for the tone of the scenes, the opening and ending themes are two good songs by the VAs of the four protagonists, with the later having some really nice transitions into it at the end of some episodes.
Comic Girls is a fantastic series I enjoyed a lot and I really recommend to watch to any fan of the cute girls genre, or for anyone looking for a comedy series to watch, because this one delivers hard.
1: Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry
English: Chivalry of a Failed Knight
MAL Score: 7.49
There exist few humans in this world with the ability to manipulate their souls to form powerful weapons. Dubbed “Blazers,” these people study and train at the prestigious Hagun Academy to become Mage-Knights; among the students is so-called failure Ikki Kurogane, the sole F-rated Blazer. However, when the worst student in the academy sees Stella Vermillion, an A-ranked Blazer who also happens to be a princess, naked, she challenges him to a duel with dire stakes—the loser becomes the slave of the winner. There’s no possible way that Stella can lose, right?
Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry follows the story of Ikki as he tries to prove his strength to a world that believes him to be the weakest, all the while gaining new friends, wisdom, and experience.
The story is basically that Japan won WWII, a hierarchical society of magic users (where magical aptitude is superior to all) exists, and the main character is someone who apparently sucks at magic and yet somehow can conveniently fight on an equal level to some of the best students in an academy that apparently is renown for training magicians.
No, I did not describe Mahouka to you just now. That is Rakudai.
Let me continue, our female main character is a girl with reddish pinkish hair, who conveniently forgets to lock her door while dressing up (in the very first episode) while the main character walks in. Our main character responds by stripping in exchange to her baring her unmentionables accidentally (something no human being does and is done only for the sake of comedy) and then establishes himself as a fairly reasonable person, complaining because the girl didn’t lock the door and that it was an accident.
So basically, it’s attempting to be witty and breaks any chance of me taking this guy seriously.
That’s without mentioning a character’s ability at copying movements (Kakashi from Naruto says hi), the girl using a fire sword (because Shana), our main character having the same conflict as Tatsuya from Mahouka (though he’s a lot better than that abomination of a “character”) and even an Accelerator like character who is randomly and maniacally doing crazy things. That’s without mentioning just how absurd some of the powers are (your pupil losing color gives you a power up, really). Like seriously, that’s just plain stupid.
This show may legit be the most uninspired thing I’ve ever seen in terms of story.
If only it was just that, but the characters aren’t better either. Stella is a generic tsundere, Kurogane is the blank MC with the occasional moment, he has a sister that is in love with him, some side kick that’s kinda cool and…do you see where I’m getting at here?
So. Finally we come here. What is the show’s selling point, that drove its fans insane and say that it’s so original and distinct from all those other LN adaptations?
The main duo get into a relationship.
Nah, I’m not pulling your leg here. They legitimately get into a relationship, and it’s actually handled alright. By alright, I mean that I’m not cringing every time they interact, and it’s actually kinda cute on a superficial level…until you realize it’s just that, superficial.
Every single time they interact, the show feels like it’s trying to force you to recognize that it’s in a relationship like “OH GOD THEY KISSED” or “OH GOD GIRL IS ASKING GUY TO HAVE SEX” and so on, and it just doesn’t feel natural. No one is legitimately this pushy when in a relationship, and people don’t endlessly shove their love lives down people’s throats. I will admit that there are a few scenes that are legitimately alright (the cabin scene was nice…then the ending blew it) and that it honestly is nowhere near the worst relationship I’ve seen in anime, but I’m genuinely surprised that this is considered by its fanbase to be the best relationship between two characters in an LN. Toradora? Hyouka? Oregairu? Spice and Wolf? Seriously, this is the best relationship in an LN-adaptation you guys have seen? The characters aren’t even that interesting, you honestly can’t describe or think of these guys as people (and let’s face it, getting them into a relationship quickly may be a nice idea on a basic level, but makes no sense chemistry-wise, we hardly see them get along as friends and boom they’re in a relationship).
Animation is drop dead gorgeous, especially during the fight scenes. The backgrounds look pretty nice, and there are actually some pretty nice scenery shots throughout the show. I just with they were better spent on some other show, because I honestly don’t think this show deserves it.
I can’t remember any particular track from the OST, though I guess the opening was alright.
And I honestly can’t say I enjoyed the show all too much, honestly. It’s too cliche for its own good, has only one aspect to remember done in an extremely superficial manner, and is just too much of the same as a whole to enjoy. Like sure, I may be repeating myself here, but it’s hard not to feel that when you watch this show.
If you like this show, fine. I hold no grudge against you (unless it turns into another Mahouka) and can totally understand why you’d like it. Hell, I may have liked it if I watched it when I was 14. But honestly, if you’re sick of more of the same and just heard that it’s unique or original or any other absurd claim, please avoid it. It’s not worth your time.
The story takes place in a magic academy, and it only takes about 2 minutes and 30 seconds into the first episode before the MC, Kurogane Ikki, walks in on a girl, Stella Vermillion, in her underwear. Yeah I’ve never seen that development before. One thing leads to another, and the two of them eventually end up in an official duel where the loser has to become the winner’s “slave”. Ikki promptly defeats her in style, and thus immediately scores himself a sexy girl as his personal servant before the end of the first episode. Or at least that’s the official verdict, but in reality the two of them are quite friendly with each other, and it doesn’t take long before a full-blown romance begins to blossom in-between them.
And this is how Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry aims to be special. By this point we should all know what a typical action/fantasy/ecchi/harem magic academy light novel anime adaptation looks like, not to mention how absurdly many there are of them. This series however tries to kick out the harem aspect, and replace it with romance. Like an actual established romance from very early on in the story. That’s an incredibly rare thing to find in any anime, let alone an action-oriented one, and it’s a quite refreshing thing to see.
As far as the characters themselves go, Ikki is supposedly the weakest student in the entire school, nicknamed the “Worst One” by the pupils. However, this is strictly because he lacks magical skills, but on the other hand his prowess with the sword is second to none. And sadly that ends up being a mostly negative trait as Ikki thus ends up being an incredibly overpowered protagonist anyway, and there is so much plot armor throughout the fights in this anime that it really doesn’t have a whole lot of tension in them. That aside he’s an all-round good guy who has a lot of fans and supporters. In that sense he reminds me a lot of Shiba Tatsuya from Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei, and I can’t really consider that a good thing. However, the way he normally acts towards Stella is very respectable I think, and that probably has to be considered the most important thing in the end. Stella herself on the other hand is not only one of the top students in the academy, but also a fiery redhead who is light on the tsun, heavy on the dere. She’s a bit too submissive to be my type personally, but I know many people who like her a lot, and she’s also got a pretty stunning body. My one problem with her as a character is that she seemingly falls head over heels in love with Ikki in a split second somewhere in-between episodes 1 and 2, but for no apparent reason. As cute as their romance is, I can’t help but feel that it started off awfully unnaturally. It almost feels like the author was impatient at getting his dream pairing up and running, and thus he kind of just forced the two of them together in the beginning.
Of course those two aren’t literally the only characters in this anime, and this is where we find the first of two problems I have with this anime. Namely, why are there so many other girls in here that are not only prevalent, but also in love with Ikki? Like really? First you make such a big deal about how this is a pure romance anime and not a harem, and then you *still* insist on having a bunch of other girls ogling the MC with lustful eyes? What’s the point? We already know with absolute certainty that Ikki x Stella is the established main coupling in the story, so why do you have all these other girls as well? Are they there just in order to cater to certain target audiences, despite the fact that those people would know that their favorite girl has already lost the love game before it’s even began? Make up your damn mind already; is this supposed to be a harem or not? It’s like it’s pretending not to be a harem but it actually is one. You can’t just both have the cake and eat it, seriously. I mean if they were just there as friends, classmates or whatnot it’d be one thing, or if their feelings towards Ikki are just there in order to create some light love drama and make Stella jealous or something then I could understand it, but that’s not the case here. Instead it’s literally just for harem romcom shenanigans, which ought to be the last thing Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry should have in it given its premise.
My second issue with this anime lies with the action elements. Taking place in a magic academy, naturally there is a lot of dueling going on in-between the students. In fact… there’s too much of it. Let’s be real here, the one thing which Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry has going for it in comparison to other anime with the same setting is the romance. And yet despite that I swear it’s spending more time on magic duels than romantic progression. Furthermore, there’s still the simple fact that we got a pretty seriously overpowered protagonist in Ikki, so there’s very little excitement in the duels themselves since you always know how they’re going to end before they’ve even began. His abilities oftentimes feel like asspulls too as there are numerous special moves of his which are brought out seemingly out of nowhere in order to turn the fight around. There’s also this one scene where at one point he’s lying nigh-unconscious in a huge pool of his own blood, only to be in top tier fighting condition and kicking ass a minute later. Like really, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that that’s simply impossible. The few times where we get to see fight scenes where Ikki is not involved however, then it’s actually a lot better. Especially the magic duel in episode 10 was a treat to watch.
Anyway, the point is that the entire action/fantasy part of the anime feels almost meaningless a lot of the time. It’s predictable and most importantly it doesn’t really add anything noteworthy to the romantic part of the story at all. It just drags the romance down rather than complement it. Similarly, like mentioned earlier, the pseudo-harem elements are equally pointless, and does nothing but distract from the one thing which you’re probably watching this anime for to begin with.
So if you put all that together, what can you conclude? Well, like I said initially, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry is an attempt at taking the most overused premise in modern anime and adding a real romance plotline to it. And that’s pretty much what it is. But there is no real sense of compatibility in it. The one thing which makes it worth watching is the romance. Almost everything else in it is average at best. So then I can’t help but ask, was there really any point in using this setting to begin with? Why do the action, fantasy and harem elements even exist? Why is it taking place at a magic academy in the first place? Because seriously, this story could just have been an ordinary school-life romance anime taking place at an ordinary high-school with no dueling, no magic, no villains, nothing like that. It could just have been a realistic romance story between Ikki and Stella. That’s all it’s worth watching for as it is, and there’d be so much more focus on that in an everyday setting compared to what we got. It’s like the anime is focusing on its own weaknesses more than its strength in its current state.
Originality is an admirable thing, and I highly respect Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry for trying to be different. But being unique doesn’t always mean being better, and in this case I really feel like it wasn’t entirely successful. Sure, it’s still definitely better than your typical magic academy anime, no doubt about that, but it’s definitely worse than what it could have been if it was rewritten into a dedicated romance story in a normal setting. Or if you want a graphical representation of it, then:
Pure romance > Romance + battle harem > Pure battle harem
I.E: mixing good with bad certainly makes it better than just bad, but still not as much as just good. So to speak.
On the other hand, you can say what you want but the ending is pretty satisfying.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry
2. Comic Girls
3. Darwin’s Game