They are by far the best anime! We counts down the best anime to come out all the time, including the likes of Hakyuu Houshin Engi, Seikoku no Dragonar, Starmyu, and more!
8: Hakyuu Houshin Engi
English: Hakyu Hoshin Engi
Japanese: 覇穹 封神演義
MAL Score: 5.37
When his clan is wiped out by a beautiful demon, young Taikobo finds himself in charge of the mysterious Houshin Project. Its mission: find all immortals living in the human world and seal them away forever. But who do you trust—and whose side are you really on—when you’ve been trained to hunt demons by a demon?
(Source: VIZ Media)
Before we begin, I’ll cover the external problems Hakyuu Houshin Engi faced before it even aired before I review the show because I feel it is necessary to let the readers of the review know that they should understand what the show went through and the unfair problems it had to face and finally that they shouldn’t judge this show by its rating and this review will answer all of that. The manga purists of Houshin Engi were quick to outright reject the anime and this isn’t surprising because the LotGH purists quickly rejected the remake of the show as well. For Houshin Engi’s case, the manga lovers complained that the pacing in the anime is “too fast” (which was true for the first few episodes) and that “it deserves a 1 for doing so” which is definitely something that didn’t make sense since they didn’t look at the other things in the anime at all or heck, give the show a chance and watch it through, because Hakyuu Houshin Engi did improve considerably from around the end of it’s first half and went on. As such, another problem that was unfair for Hakyuu Houshin Engi was that not many people decided to pick it up when it first aired (and before the purists started giving 1s and 2s and the mean broke down completely) since the show was pretty niche outside Japan.
Unlike the monstrous popularity of Hunter x Hunter (a show Houshin Engi the manga is comparable to according to people acquainted with both series) which obviously was a great hit among the Western Anime market along with Japan as well and this is largely because the manga was still publishing around the time when the remake first aired and another fact being that Hunter x Hunter (2011) went on for a year with more than a hundred episodes, thus allowing the hype to go on and keep on increasing, Hakyuu Houshin Engi didn’t have that unfortunately. It’s manga ended long ago, it’s budget was a mere shadow of Hunter x Hunter’s budget and the purists couldn’t swarm HxH since it’s casual view count steadily kept on increasing thanks to the benefits the famous show had. My point of rambling on about HxH, a show I haven’t watched but have spoken to many readers/watchers about? It’s that Hakyuu Houshin Engi had a lot of problems to face even before it aired that were against its power or control and this sadly took over and let to the show’s drop in rating early on thanks to the manga fans. This ultimately led to casual watchers not acquainted with the series being discouraged from watching the show because of it’s unfortunately low rating and again didn’t help the show garner the attention it so deserved either. I’m not saying the show is a 10/10 at all, but I’m saying the show isn’t worth it’s average score on the site and needs a person to have a clear mind when watching this anime.
A last reminder, when reading this review, I recommend not having the prejudice about checking back with the show’s mean score and read the review with a clear mind 🙂
To begin with, Hakyuu Houshin Engi has a fantastic world. It’s world building is such that I haven’t seen most fantasy anime equal at such a scale before. The Sennin World, the Doshi world, the Human World, and the skies above it, and to get into detail, Kongrong Mountain and Yin. There were a lot of places covered in the anime and the way they were represented and created was done with intricate detail and much like other high fantasy shows, it made you think a lot. As such, the fleshed out world didn’t feel bland or empty and surprisingly made you feel at home or imagine that there might be such a place far far away, a lot like the Hobbit for you Lord of the Rings fans out there (as an example of course, I’m not comparing it with Houshin Engi mind you). But it had a vibrant feel that such a world could exist, and that it made you dream or imagine it as I mentioned above, which is why I related it to the aforementioned book (once again, it can’t compare to the Hobbit but it’s amazing in its own right). It also had an amazing set of characters with varied and detailed backstories. Be it Taikobo the MC, Yozen, Bunchu, Genshi Tenson among others. Everyone had an important story to tell. Taikobo’s tragic (and obviously non-cliched) past was a highlight since we’ve been used to seeing the pathetic MC type nowadays (more on Taikobo below), but then again, the Houshin Engi manga first released in 1996 so we can’t say he’s a good MC among MCs in this decade (even though he may be close) since his original appearance was around 2 decades ago obviously. Yozen’s backstory was interesting since it had a dark feel to it especially when his mere existence is dark for that matter and his backstory is the same. You’d make a huge mistake if you wrote Yozen off as the happy go lucky type. And Genshi Tenson wasn’t exactly as good as you might think either. He was involved in some shady dealings which came back to bite him and you’ll find out more about this seemingly very good man later on in the show as well. Bunchu as well set a different tone and you couldn’t exactly label him a villain as well surprisingly, since he wasn’t invading a place for personal gain, he was protecting the place he loved but took a strict stance on protecting it at all costs and the reason behind that has to do with a very important part of his past. All these were examples of characters who do change and have distinct changes within them that set them apart from other shows as well. A villain who isn’t necessarily bad? Your master lying to you? Your existence being used for someone else’s gain? These were examples of how deep the story was with it’s explanation and representation of it’s said characters, and there are a few more of them as well who I can’t cover due to them coming later in the show which could mean a spoiler and I’m trying to keep this review spoiler-free.
As such, you see the development these characters had as well during the course of the show and how they deal with the questions I gave as examples above. How will you deal with powerlessness? Can you really save the world as you thought you could? Are you prepared for losing companions and friends if there’s war? These were all questions Taikobo was faced with throughout the series and boy do they feel unfamiliar since they’re rare to see in Shounen shows of today because Shounen today is all about the MC defeating your enemy without any major losses and winning because of the spirit of your nakama and you. Houshin Engi shows us the harsh reality that you can lose much more than you thought in war and that spirit alone isn’t enough to win a battle. You need power, and if you don’t have it, you lose. Emotional and physical strength both are necessary. As for other characters, we saw Yozen deal with his story and his existence, Genshi Tenson deal with his past mistakes, along with that, Bunchu try his hardest to keep Yin alive, Dakki control over the kingdom. These all are examples of what the aims and efforts of characters were and how they dealt with their problems. As such, development was most certainly seen in the show and I covered this in detail in the paragraph above as well.
Despite that, Houshin Engi knew how to cleverly hide a few important details in the beginning and show them in the later episodes, making for a decent surprise. Another thing I want to cover is the art. It being a remake obviously gives it a chance at having a better artstyle than the previous adaptation and so far Hakyuu Houshin Engi does really well for it’s time. Character models looked great, the world and backgrounds were great and the fight scenes, arguably the most important, were done well. Speaking of things done well, what was REALLY fantastic was the BGM (BackGround Music to those unfamiliar with the term). It had a distinct Chinese root to it as was the show’s theme for that matter and not once did I feel like it was bland. The same could be said for the OPs and EDs of which a very clever selection of songs were chosen, a hype OP by none other than Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas and peaceful EDs to balance it out and to be honest it wasn’t at all underwhelming. It was a fantastic choice of music to go with the brilliant BGM as well.
Hakyuu Houshin Engi does a few things that set itself apart from other anime in the genre. Aside from the one I mentioned above, a very important example is that Hakyuu Houshin Engi shows us character deaths. And no, I’m not talking about minor character deaths. We see important characters die. A LOT. After receiving the development they need as a character some of them were killed. Why is this important? It’s important because it signifies that Taikobo’s side is not strong. Many Shounen anime try to paint the MC’s side as weak but they don’t FEEL weak because they usually win every time with no casualties but Houshin Engi was different. It as mentioned had a set of important characters who died perhaps horrible deaths while some died honourable ones, giving the viewer a sense of gravity that the world of Houshin Engi especially Taikobo’s side suffers from. Speaking of Taikobo’s side as well, Taikobo isn’t a slacked of an MC either. His tragic past is clearly shown and his past is reflected in the present and as his brother said, it shows in his future as well. He might seem like the happy go lucky type as most other Shounen MCs are but Taikobo’s sudden tense behavior when he’s going through a tough time (like for example dealing with the death of a close companion?) isn’t something you’re gonna see so often in other places. Yeah the bright world is shown as being a colourful and happy place and yeah we have a wide variety of characters but Taikobo is the MC for a reason, and his character clearly deserves to be called a good MC as a result of his actions. He makes you root for him. Not because he has more screen time, but when we see him interact with everyone else and vow not to let more deaths happen you really root for him because you get attached to the vibrant characters as well. That’s what Houshin Engi is all about. The world, the characters, the harsh realities of the world as well and of the people involved too.
With that said, Hakyuu Houshin Engi isn’t perfect by all means. I spent the first paragraphs explaining the manga fans problem and how they overblew the issues with the anime but what is true is true, the anime DOES have it’s set of problems (although not to the way the manga fans over blew it) and most of those have to do with the remake more than the actual story, again, it’s not as huge of a problem as it may seem to be to hear, else I’d be contradicting myself and the entire purpose of the review, which is to give you an honest look at why this anime should be watched instead of take the easy route and bash it from every angle to the tune of the manga fans. The first half’s pacing was indeed fast. Things happened all to quickly without letting the viewers understand what’s happening unless they have the ability to read fast (or watch the dub) and comprehend the situation fast and not need to backtrack. Unfortunately, if you were not a part of that group, you were out of luck. You’d have to backtrack for around the first 10 episodes since their pacing was on the fast side. On the other hand, if you’re someone who likes J.C Staff you’d probably be able to handle this C-Station.co Production (the other much more popular show C-Station.co did was Yuru Camp or Laid-Back Camp for you English name fans out there). In contrast, the second half was nicely paced. I think the studio felt that the pacing was fast and decided to cut on the pace which led the speed in the second half to be a huge improvement since everyone could understand what happened and how without needing to backtrack at all which is definitely something to be happy about, now if you’re bingeing the anime, the sudden shift from fast paced to normal pace may make you feel like the second half is slow but I can assure you that is not the case, with binging it may seem so but thankfully it’s not that big of a contrast.
What did seem to be a problem though was that Dakki is largely unexplained apart from a one episode backstory that leaves out some important details. This is something to be concerned about since Dakki is the main villain of the anime and obviously she needs development or at least backstory to make her seem so. As mentioned she DID get an episode solely dedicated to her backstory and it did serve most of its purpose but viewers may realise that a few questions were left unanswered, the biggest being where did Dakki come from? They did show a bit of what she was doing before she became the villain she is known for but they didn’t show how she interacted with the world as a child or her as a child for that matter as well. Apart from her though other villains were covered well. Bunchu was sort of like a villain and his backstory was covered and his purpose was repeatedly explained whenever he made his appearance, Ou Tenkun’s backstory was dark and eerie and was a surprise since I thought he’d have more of a villain-like backstory but instead his backstory was interestingly different, which is reflective of the anime since when you expect something you get a different point and it serves as a great idea to keep things fresh. The last problem is a subjective one. Bunchu’s obsession with Yin was repeated and reminded a lot and many people could be frustrated with listening to him preach about Yin again and again. But the last arc opened everyone’s eyes on that matter, along with the important fact that we do get to see Yin and its history earlier on in the second half so that’s that I suppose.
Overall, my purpose for writing this review was very different from my other reviews generally, the purpose of this review was to let the readers know that Hakyuu Houshin Engi isn’t a show that should be written off just because of it’s mean score since it’s mean score isn’t affected by casual viewers giving it a low rating but instead the manga fans voicing their frustration because “this didn’t happen” and “that didn’t happen” as strict manga fans usually do not like anime versions or remakes of what they hold to be the original but I don’t see that as a bad thing 100%. It’s because if you liked this anime, you’ll love the manga even more. That’s the most of what I could say which mirrors the manga readers but if I’m asked to offer my personal opinion, try this show without any prejudice on it’s mean score and just relax and watch. I’m sure you’ll like Hakyuu Houshin Engi, or at least it won’t be a “1/10 or 2/10” show as the manga fans describe it and the criminally low mean it sadly has to put up with. It’s never a good idea to judge a show by it’s mean score since a high rated anime can be bad and a low rated anime can be good (as is the case with Hakyuu Houshin Engi) so to end on a positive note, I hope you get to enjoy Hakyuu Houshin Engi the way the creators intended it to be enjoyed 🙂
Most viewers will not like this anime for two simple reasons: It’s not very good and most of all, not very enjoyable either. It walks the path of mediocrity without even trying to be anything. The outcome is very bland and a total lackluster.
This adaptation did surprisingly many questionable choices. First and foremost is the lack of introduction. Viewers are quite directly thrown into a random world around random characters. Nothing is explained, things just somewhat are there and stuff happens because it does. One could say that this is the right approach considering how direct and linear the story and narrative ends up being. Still, the lack of build up, world building and events that in generally offer reasons to care about any characters – make the series not really worth of caring about and most of all not very memorable. On top of that, nothing really happens during the whole run. Episode after episode, I was waiting for the series to go somewhere, but all it did was end without accomplishing much.
The characters are hardly worth of talking about. It seems like the author was afraid he would create shonen stereotypes and copy-pasted character macros from other shonen series, so instead he tried to abandon all these things. The outcome is not very pretty. Practically all characters are so empty that they aren’t even worth of being disliked.
The animation is a lackluster as well. Most living things look lifeless and sturdy objects. In most lazily animated series, the illusion of animation is done with camera work. Rollovers, zoom outs and that kind of small tricks typically focusing on backdrops. In this series, the character movement is often executed in similar fashion. Instead of the camera moving from place a to place b on solid speed, it’s the still character macro drawn on a piece of paper that is moved from place a to place b. It looks cheap and weird. In all honesty, the animation got miles better during the run, but the sad part is that the hideously executed movements from the first half of the series are among the most memorable things from this series for the reason that nothing else really stands out.
The music in this series makes the series seem better than it is. I am not sure how they managed to get Fear, and Loathing in Lass Vegas take part in this project, but they did. Most of the BGM is pretty chill and catchy. The voice acting is bland and makes the characters seem even more empty shells than they otherwise are.
Overall this series is lacking in most of everything. It’s hard to find any of it very interesting. Most of the things in it are so boring that even the most annoying things don’t seem all that annoying because you simply won’t care about them either. The series is so spectacularly unnoteworthy in both good and bad that I can’t really call it anything other than the pinnacle of average.
Hakyuu Houshin Engi is the remake of Senkaiden Houshin Engi. As a long time enthusiast, I picked up the remake with trembling excitement. I still remember the catchy theme songs, and melodic beats of the original anime. But I was in for some utter disappointment.
Soul Hunter was based off a very famous Chinese fable. The original story of Nataku is known as the Legend of Demigods. It taught kids to appreciate their parents. One day Nataku angered the wrath of the sea god. Nataku payed a heavy price for disobedience. His flesh was given to his mom. His bones were offered to his father (a legendary Chinese army general). Then he was revived. Essentially, Nataku, the emperor, and the cunning (Daki were supposed to mirror characters from the Legend of the Demigods. Daki was based off the wolf / fox) demon that used her cunningness, deception, and beauty to have the emperor do her bidding. The empire became very corrupt, and the citizens were stricken with poverty afterwards. The Legend of Demigods also had characters with supernatural powers. Therefore, Soul Hunter was based on that element.
But the remake failed to mirror the original Soul Hunter, eliminated some essential characters, and deviated from the plot.
7: Seikoku no Dragonar
English: Dragonar Academy
MAL Score: 6.47
Learning to ride and tame dragons comes easy to most students at Ansarivan Dragonar Academy—except for first-year student Ash Blake, who is known by his fellow classmates as the “number one problem child.” Poor Ash is the laughing stock at school because, despite his unfashionably large star-shaped brand that marks him as a future dragon master, he has nothing to show for it. His dragon has never appeared.
Until now, that is. One fateful day, Ash’s dragon awakes in full glory, but appears different than any dragon ever seen before—in the form of a beautiful girl! What’s worse, Ash soon discovers that this new dragon has attitude to spare, as she promptly informs him that she is the master, and he, the servant.
Ash’s problems with dragon riding have only just begun.
At first the story interested me, it felt quite unique in a way and parts of the story reminded me of Soul Eater at times ( for some reason ) but after a few episodes in; it seemed to abandon its interesting plot and instead turn it into more of a regular harem/ecchi anime. I actually do enjoy harems to a degree but when you have an actual story first and then abandon it 1/3 of the way through, it can make you feel disapointed because of its wasted potential.
That being said, the pacing felt fine and didn’t feel slow or rushed barely at all.
I did enjoy the art, it had some interesting designs and the girl characters were cute. Although, the actual dragons in the show could have had something more in their designs but they’re not at all completely bad.
In my opinion, one of the best things in the entire show was the opening and ending themes. The opening was really good and showed some really cool scenes. The ending was cute and had a fun song which was a nice reward after going through each episode. The voice actors/actresses did a good job throught the show ( you know they wanted the villian to be mysterious and cool when they cast Dio Brando’s voice actor )
Now this is where everything goes wrong. I thought most of the characters were paper-thin with nothing really going on with them. Some of the characters got character development while most just had no layers even if you thought they did. I also thought the villian was just bad and i wish we had gotten more depth to the character but unfortuantly we didn’t.
Here’s the weird part; i actually really enjoyed it. I got the same enjoyment as I would watching any harem. Even though I had so much problems with it, i actually looked foward to watching more. If you enjoy harem/ecchi shows i think you would actually enjoy this even though it has many flaws.
With the potential I thought it had at the beginning being destroyed as time went on, after watching the whole thing I feel disappointed. However like I said, if you enjoy harems and ecchi anime then by all means watch this one. But I don’t think that this will be a very rememberable one with its very plain characters and interesting story it mostly abandoned. Seikoku no Dragonar turned out as a mediocre harem.
The story was since episode 1 really interesting, i liked the idea that Ash Blake the MC could ride any Dragon he wanted because of what happened to him in his childhood by saving a girl that he doesn’t remember in the present, you will predict since the begining who she is, well he is about to die by a girl he saved again and that’s when his dragon Eco appears and not just a dragon a humanoid dragon. I would have rated higher but they left little questions that were important for the viewer to understand more the story.
Art & Sound
Both were very good because i really liked the music on the battle scenes, the voice acting was very good could have been great though and the ED song for some reason i liked it but that is my opinion you may not like the ED song, the art was very good i liked the dragons art style and even more with the bigger ones, bewbs are there too but you won’t mind it like me.
This is why i didn’t rated higher, because i didn’t got to know the backround of the character, they never remembered they met when they were kids, both Ash & Silvia, despite that, the characters were interesting because you want to know more about the majority of them.
I really enjoyed this anime, i wanted to see more, i wanted a 2nd season because of the questions at the end and to know the characters even more than what is shown here.
The story is a generic harem/fantasy story, filled with “Plot” and some battles. I liked the story and its concept, though halfway through the show, it became a bit too predictable. Though I really enjoyed certain parts, I also found myself wanting to fast forward others.
Art & Sound: 7
I grouped these two together because I felt like they complimented each other in this anime. The art was pretty good and consistent throughout the show, which is important. No particular sound stood out for me, but I did feel like the bgm (background music) in the battle scenes intensified the character’s moves and passion.
The characters were good. Nothing more, nothing less. There weren’t any exceptional or very outstanding and original traits between them, but they were good. The show had the usual harem girls, for example: a busty one, a rich one, a loli, a tsundere, and an erotic teacher etc. There were a few more, but that was the gist of it.
Enjoyment & Overall: 7
I did enjoy the show quite a bit, but it didn’t really strike me as exceptional, partly because I have watched hundreds of similar anime and so I’ve kind of gotten used to all the recurring things in harem anime. The characters were alright, but neither them nor the story were able to pique my interest past the point of amusement.
MAL Score: 6.90
Yuuta Hoshitani enrolls in the prestigious Ayanagi Academy in hopes of finding the high school student who inspired him. The academy is well-known for producing exceptional musical talent, but students must first compete for acceptance into the Musical Department. At the top of the department is the Kao Council—a group of third-year students who possess a great deal of influence over the school and admission into the department. The fastest route to entering the department for Hoshitani is to find a way into a Star Team, which would allow him to be taught by a member of the Kao Council.
After catching the eyes of Itsuki Ootori, Hoshitani finds himself under the tutelage of the Kao Council’s most eccentric member. Alongside him on Team Ootori is his roommate, Tooru Nayuki, fledgling Kabuki actor Kakeru Tengenji, the quiet Shuu Kuga, and Kaito Tsukigami, the younger brother of famous Ayanagi alumni Haruto.
As Hoshitani struggles with his lack of talent, his teammates must also overcome their shortcomings. Facing opposition from other talented Star Teams, including the other four members of the Kao Council, Team Ootori must carve their own path as they aim to perform in the Ayanagi Festival.
I first decided to try out this series because I saw a composer that I like was doing the soundtrack. Honestly this show wouldn’t have attracted me otherwise since I like watching anime with action or romance, so I didn’t expect I would come to love this series.
The first episode will definitely catch viewers off guard. But even though you’ll often be surprised by the sudden songs it’s something you’ll find yourself more or less getting used to. I recommend watching at least the first 3 episodes to see how you’ll like it.
Starmyu appears to be this dumb silly show but if you go deeper you’ll see the writers and director have put quite a bit of thought into it. There’s symbolism here and there and I like how they lay down plotlines and details that are picked up later again in the show. And more than that, it’s a classic story about youth and friendship, dealing with their own everyday troubles, chasing their dreams. I love the tagline on the show’s promotional materials – “I don’t know a way to give up my dream.”
A big plus of Starmyu for me is that it takes away annoyances I’ve had with other anime. There’s always the energetic and optimistic character type which appears here in form of Hoshitani, but the good thing about him is that he’s surprisingly realistic when it counts. Also, the lack of a female MC in this show (it being an all-boys school) was especially refreshing, and it made the relationship between the guys shine even more instead of watching them vie over a girl.
If I had to name one fault that Starmyu had, it would probably be the animation, which sometimes looks derpy and low-budget. There were a couple of times where the characters didn’t look themselves. But in return for that the staff puts special attention on the musical scenes. Some of them are really pretty and detailed, and the dance scene in one of the episodes was quite talked about thanks to the smooth hand-drawn animation.
No grouches about the voice acting. There are some good choices here in the cast since there is a lot of singing going on and for the most part they have good vocals, including even the least experienced member of the cast Lounsbery Arthur, who’s playing a main character for the first time. Standout singing voices for me are KENN and Hanae Natsuki.
I think that the music is something that everyone can listen to. Personally the character songs are 50-50 hit and miss for me, but that’s a very high rate by my standards. The good songs are really good, while the rest are just “meh” but not dislikable. Soundtrack BGM-wise, it’s always excellent in this series.
Lastly while this series is obviously targeted at females, I’ve noticed that there is quite a handful of guys in Japan who enjoy it. Don’t be put off by the all-male cast; you might just enjoy the story.
Generic. The story involves 5 boys who have auditioned and been put into an idol group within their school and must compete to be placed into the music department. This means they’ll be evaluated on their performance growth to see whether they could make it in the schools official elite musical.
Generally, you would assume this would mean competing against the other groups of performers for a place in the department. While this is true, it’s only to an extent. Ive counted over 20 different groups, and we only saw one group besides our main group ever perform, which they only did twice. This means there is almost ZERO tension when they are ranked as we dont see what any of the other teams did to compare them too! We dont even get to see much of the technical side of rehearsing, as we mostly receive still shots of stretches or poses. Whatever.
Going back and listening to the tracks, they actually werent bad. I think my favorite voices belong to Kaito and Kakkeru. Voice acting was pretty solid but I cant really recall much background music.
Generic Tropes. We have the stoic, blue haired “perfect” boy with an Onii-san complex, Red-haired and arrogant uppity boy, a timid motherly type who just wants peace, The purple other-stoic but also edgy artsy one (he plays piano!), and the BORING upbeat brown-haired protagonist. Red-har was the most entertaining, as I appreciate the arrogant ones a lot plus, his cat stuff was cute.
However, the character interactions just dont feel right. After watching it, the kids barely know shit about each other and I really barely feel any substance tying each other together aside from being on team Otori. I suppose Nayuki became more outgoing from being on the team and being around MC-kun, but it want really focused on. The characters barely reflect on their past or talk about their feelings so I really dont understand why I should care.
Art: TERRIBLE. The character designs are so uncomfortable to look at. Almost every frame had me cringing just at the faces. Seriously, what were they thinking. It’s easy to see almost all the faces are identical to wear I feel like im watching the much-better Osomatsu-san. Everyone’s haor had this weird splotch of (root?) color at the top making it look like they all had bad dye jobs. Even the bodies have mostly the same shape. This designer should be fired. Some of the backgrounds during the songs looked nice I guess.
Animation: Ugh. Some of these episodes would have at least a third of the scenes shown in still frames. It’s almost like they didnt try. Theatre is a very visual and moving art, but it feels so stiff, just like most of their dance sequences. Also, please fire this animation director. Overlaying ugly still images over simple repetitive movements doesnt look nice, it makes it look like you got lazy. There was also an extreme over use of sparkles. Come on.
At least I got some good laughs at the over the top performances. Nayuki rode on a dolphin through the sky. That’s good shit.
There’s a certain point in the final episode where the titular Stardust Team claims that they will host their final performance in an avant-garde way. You see, that’s sort of the overarching story of this show. The musical team of our 5 main characters likes to perform in unconventional ways – challenging the standards of their school ensnared with tradition. So while this embracing of the new and unconventional ways totally makes sense within the show’s story, it clashes with the anime as a whole.
I have not watched Prince-Sama, but I have been told by multiple trusted sources that High School Star Musical’s format is a carbon-copy of it. And judging by descriptions alone that makes total sense. Both feature musical academies with teams of 5 bishonen boys color-coded by their hair, and are likely made to appeal to the exact same audience. While High School Star Musical’s moral seems to be embracing quirky and new ideas, its execution is the exact opposite. It plays itself so safely that there’s not a single moment of the show that stands out to me. Likewise, there’s not a single moment that I really hated. High School Star Musical carefully constrains itself into as many classic tropes it can find, and by doing so, makes itself a bastion of average.
Although I didn’t hate any of it, High School Star Musical definitely has some quirks. The character designs look like they were stolen from the vaults of the producers of Free!, and the character models seem are very samey. Episode 6 introduces two twin girl characters (the only girls in the whole show, literally), and they kind of look like the animators just took their standard boy designs and added some long pink hair. Also they reminded me of those twin girls from Johnny Test. God bless all of our souls.
High School Star Musical, like almost every bishonen show, suffers badly from queerbaiting. The target audience of this show was surely preteen and teenage girls, and to capitalize on that, the producers made sure to add plenty of romantic tension between the main characters. But never enough. You see, the producers want those teenage girls to take the cast of High School Star Musical as their husbandos. However, they also know that boy’s love sells. In an attempt to appease both, the producers add all sorts of blushes, stuttering, and even misinterpreted declarations of love and dates, but never actually announce that their male characters are in gay relationships. This queerbaiting is present in western shows too (think Supernatural and Sherlock), and once you notice it, it’s really hard to ignore that the producers are using marginalized sexual orientations as a footstool to make their show more popular, without even giving those orientations proper representation.
I’ve been giving High School Star Musical a lot of flak, but if its goal was to create an utterly average show like I outlined earlier, then it did it well. If you don’t put a lot of critical thinking into it, the show isn’t a slog to get through – under one condition. If you watch the show at 1.5 times speed, it becomes easy to get through and all the music goes nightcore mode. The lines are simplistic enough that you can keep up with reading too. Shortening episode duration to 15 minutes makes this show incredibly manageable, and if I hadn’t discovered this I would probably have given it a lower rating.
In the end, High School Star Musical seems as average as can be, but there may be a lot of value in the discourse that results from it. Its ludonarrative dissonance is strongly resonating and each viewer may interpret said dissonance very differently.
Back in 2006, when the term “ludonarrative dissonance” was coined, game reviewers were so caught up in talking about how a game’s mechanics worked alongside its story that they forgot to actually talk about things readers cared about, like whether the game was fun and worth buying. Sort of like how you can read a Pitchfork album review and have no idea what the music is supposed to sound like. So for the Starmyu Review, I tried to recreate that feeling of being so far up your own ass that you can’t even write good reviews.
5: Starmyu 3rd Season
Japanese: 高校星歌劇[スタミュ] 3rdシーズン
MAL Score: 6.95
Third season of Starmyu.
Woohoo!! Yay! Yay!!
What a splendid anime I ever watched. Especially the character I love the most are Hoshitani Yuuta. Maybe he is the most influential character for the story. I like how he so confidential and passionate. That what I love from the story, he teaches me that we should never give up on something we hold dearly. I like how he said that he doesn’t know how to give up something. Bravo! And why he is the most influential character for the story? Mainly these other characters were being influenced by him so they become passionate for it.
For this 3 seasons. They had left the same impression for each time I watched for the new season, and it’s “NEVER GIVE UP!”
Yep, now this word had placed at my life dictionary. Yay!
Hope they make the fourth season for a new generation, maybe?
That said, this was a rather disappointing season, which managed to introduce yet new characters whose only whole purpose was to force the plot to make the main characters struggle.
Story (5): the story is simple and straightforward, but comes off as forced and convoluted because of the characters actions and motives. The finale is just a mess with a pinch of fanservice for long time viewers.
Art (7): nothing to complain, clean animations and nice art.
Sound (7): just like the art section, nothing to complain. Every episode features at least one new song.
Character (4): they introduced a bunch of new characters that we really don’t get to know (besides traits that are relevant to the plot), that overshadowed old and much more interesting characters. Maybe a longer season could have improved the characterization and deepened the plot
Overall (5): I grew to love this franchise, I admit idol-anime are a guilty pleasure of mine, and Starmyu is not an exception. This season feels like an empty shell of what the previous two were. I don’t mind the cheesyness or the clichès (that’s what I’m here for! Just guys being dudes) but God how tiring and pointless was this season…
The cast is just way too big, and holy smokes, there’s maybe two or three of them that don’t share the basic bland copy-paste look of everyone else – there are very good shots of them in episode 7, iirc, to showcase this, with the perfect bored look on all their faces to boot. Nevermind characterisation, just remembering their names is as close to mission impossible as it can get (there are character cards around the middle of each episode, sure, but even those are bad because the text is in the background that the characters just cover). They do a lot of running around (many times literally) to be able to perform together at the – wait, what even is that Ayanagi Festival, exactly? Frankly, if we ever got an explanation, I forgot, because it’s that uninteresting to try to keep up with. And all this running around in 11 episodes, only for the thing to finally happen in episode 12… and then skydive into the post-credits scene, way beyond that, where they’re not even just third years but even one step higher? Talk about pacing. Then the catchphrases add a layer of extra annoyance too: even with a big cast, one would be more than enough, especially if heard in every damn episode. Here we have three, and even a fourth has a cameo, because something has to trigger a completely out-of-place transformation.
I’m not sure how this happened. I watched it because of a sort of principle: I’ve suffered through the first two, I might as well pick the third up as well. I’d rather like to avoid having to go for a fourth round though.
4: Heya Camp△
English: Room Camp
MAL Score: 7.26
During an Outdoor Activities Club meeting, Nadeshiko Kagamihara, Aoi Inuyama, and Chiaki Oogaki debate what it means to be a real Yamanashi native. Somewhere along the line, Chiaki brings up the Yamanashi Kids’ Stamp Rally, which Nadeshiko has never heard of. The rally encourages one to visit famous places in the prefecture and collect stamps; those who complete the rally will win a year’s worth of Minobu steamed buns. Enticed by the humongous food prize, Nadeshiko is set on participating.
Follow the Outdoor Activities Club as they travel around the Yamanashi prefecture to collect stamps and explore what the region has to offer!
Yuru Camp△ has made an amazing performance in 2018, here is a new light-weight show added to the Yuru Camp△ series, Heya Camp△. Do not let the title mislead you, it is not anything related to camping in the room, but rather a side story of Yuru Camp△.
🎬 Story – 7/10
The story itself is actually interesting, instead of a theme of camping, Heya Camp△ offers a theme of sightseeing. The whole story is about visiting sightseeing places around Yamanashi to gather stamps, simply a nice travel show with cute girls as show hosts, but sadly, it is way too short, only 3 minutes per episode. Lastly, just like Yuru Camp△, this show includes comedic moments that will surely make you smile.
🎨 Animation – 8/10
Above-standard art quality, eye-friendly, nice scenery art, and delicious-looking food like its parent show, Yuru Camp△, as always.
🔈 Sound – 8/10
Just relaxing soundtracks similar to its parent show, Yuru Camp△, however, they are not standing out and that noticeable. Heya Camp△ also includes a short 30-second ending song, which I find it pretty okay.
🕶 Characters – 7/10
Rather than featuring 5 main characters like in Yuru Camp△, Heya Camp△ focuses on 3 girls, Nadeshiko, Chiaki, and Aoi instead. This is a good idea of giving audiences more details and screen time of Chiaki and Aoi since Nadeshiko and Rin are the main stars of the main show, Yuru Camp△.
🎉 Enjoyment – 8/10
As relaxing as always. While waiting for the second season of Yuru Camp△, it is nice getting a light-weight show. If watching Yuru Camp△ is like having a main dish, Heya Camp△ would be a dessert. Since I love traveling in Japan, I liked the idea of the show, but sadly it is way too short but enjoyable and relaxing enough.
Heya Camp△ is basically a mini Yuru Camp△, rather than a 23-minute episode length, Heya Camp△ offers a 3-minute one. Heya Camp△ might not be that great, but it is enjoyable and relaxing, recommended to anyone who loves the main show, Yuru Camp△. Enjoy!
Then Heya Camp △ is just the perfect anime for you. Grab a beer (or another drink) and just relax for a few minutes. Make yourself COMFY!
Most of you have probably already seen Yuru Camp △ and loved that anime. If not, you definitely have to watch it. Because this little short anime is as COMFY the main part.
The story is a little less due to the short length in compare to Yuru Camp of course. Our girls (Nadeshiko, Aoi and Chiaki) discover the beautiful nature around the Yamanashi prefecture with the help of a stamp rally. What could be better than being out in the wild and discovering new delicacies and other interesting things?
The girls are just as cute as in the main anime. We see their beautiful friendship and their love for our nature again. Your well-known personalities also come to light here, of course everyone is in a good mood as always and having fun together.
The art style is just like Yuru Camp △. The backgrounds and mountains are all very nicely animated. Everything is wonderful.
The ED song “The Sunshower” fits perfectly for Heya Camp △, relaxing to listen. Anyone who has already liked “SHINY DAYS” (OP) and “Fuyu Biyori” (ED) from the main anime will certainly love this one too.
It’s good to see our camping girls again. The feeling of the COMFY comes right back, no matter how hard the day was.
Just forget the stressful everyday life and make it cozy and COMFY! Everyone needs to relax.
(Can’t wait for the second season in Jan 2021 already!)
Instead of solely focusing on Rin Shima and Nadeshiko, the perspective’s on the Outdoor Activities Club’s trio of Nadeshiko, Aoi and Chiaki on their stamp really journey along the Yamanashi prefecture. And the experience is what you’ll see, what you’ll get and more.
C-Station’s animation and Asaka’s short ED are pretty much reminiscent of the times of Iyashikei-filled hopes of taking a snail’s pace and enjoying life that’s come to be expected of the touché of Yuru Camp.
Nevertheless, as a huge fan of the original series, this sadly left me wanting more of Yuru Camp, and while this short is a nice getaway for a slow burn, having moments of solace for 4 minutes every week is still a good thing. Easily recommended for fans of said series.
Now we’ll just have to anticipate the movie and the eventual Season 2.
3: Starmyu 2nd Season
MAL Score: 7.31
Second season of the Starmyu.
So into their second year, the five teams of the Musical Department are battling it out for the training roles for the third years’ graduation performance. Honestly, the whole story basically follows the characters trying to get their senpai to notice them. Not disappointed in the least.
Jokes aside, the story is really about Hoshitani at this point and shows the influence of his friends which leads to his success, despite being the least skilled candidate for the training roles. And of course, it shows how he is able to influence the rest of the cast in return. The story takes constant twists and turns that make it impossible to stop watching.
The art was decent at best. The transitions to the musical are much smoother and I love the design of the new characters. Although not the anime’s strong point, it doesn’t really matter because the story is good enough for you to overlook it.
Compared to the first season, the songs in the second season were slightly better. It wouldn’t be a 7 if it weren’t for the final song which was a masterpiece I absolutely love.
Since the beginning, I always believed the characters were Starmyu’s strong point. I mentioned that it follows Hoshitani solely this season, but they still manage to treat the other characters appropriately such as Kuga and Nayuki despite the huge cast. Not only the main character, but everyone else’s development was so impressive that when I rewatch the anime, I laugh. It wasn’t exactly unnoticeable but definitely not unnatural either. They change according to the course of events that happen in the anime.
The best part that I didn’t see coming was the discovery of new/hidden sides to certain characters, even the ones I thought were annoying. Along with new unexpected friendships, it made the anime so much more interesting to watch.
Honestly, I thought it would be worst than the previous season. But in actuality, this completed the whole anime that when I go back to season one, I enjoy it more than the first time I watched it.
There wasn’t anything wrong with the way the creators approached making this anime, but I know the first few episodes are difficult to adapt to; however, it does get better and it is definitely worth it. Those who were impatient or harsh towards their first couple episodes are missing out on a good story.This season definitely brought out the true potential of Starmyu which wasn’t possible without the introduction in the first season. It was amazing, completely worth it. Recommended for those who enjoy cliche stories.
As we continue with interjections of musical numbers, the storyline this time is perhaps a little weaker in comparison to the first season, and I already considered the first storyline pretty standard. The focus does not revolve around just Team Ootori anymore but in fact an expanded cast of all the star teams and the previous Kao Council. For the first half most of the focus lies on introducing a lot of interactions between everyone for us to familiarize. Especially a new character called Ageha who serves as a “antagonist” for Hoshitani. Which really felt like an unnecessary amount to dedicate and makes the story drag on week by week only for a little spice of drama.
Some interesting parts come after exploring the wide cast in how they train for their roles and some of their personal struggles. Particularly Nayuki and Ugawa and especially Kaito. Sadly the amount of time to explore everyone is quite limited (maybe if we didn’t have so many training montages). For the most part the journey intensely focuses on Hoshitani, which I think explored some wonderful thoughts on how to act and his “shine”. Alot of people dislike this, but Hoshitani is supposed to represent the viewers in a way because he’s a total newbie, so to understand anything we have to understand through him. I think the show does a wonderful job of showcasing some inherent qualities of the musical acting world but sadly just didn’t pace everything they wanted to accomplish successfully.
There were some more varied character designs this season surprisingly. I noticed however a lot more dips in quality though. But I have to say that the production for some of the song scenes/sets were definitely more elaborate and beautiful. There was more artistic expression in costuming and set design and choreography.
And again, this series continues it’s fabulous choreos with no CGI. Also because we have some “action scenes” these are very well directed and enticing.
Arai Ken’s techno/piano/upbeat music works again quite wonderfully for the series, with some beautiful new themes. The new voice actors are also quite another impressive addition to an already impressive vocal cast. One song that notes this is the Kao Council song sung by the Ancients, and you can really see the experience in their vocals.
Starmyu continues to explore a wide range of musical genres, but the songs were about half and half for me sometimes. Particularly we get a lot of crossunits between teams and I think it was a bit difficult tailoring songs for these wide range of characters. It’s one thing to just sing a song, but a lot of the songs for Starmyu just make me think that these songs were made for someone to sing. It was great for them to again take these chances and wonderful to hear new characters and combinations.
The expanded cast is actually quite a gem, though overwhelming. It’s really a disappointment that it was quite hard to focus and devote enough time to even half of them. Again, most of the focus is on Hoshitani’s personal journey with how to become a role and what does that mean for him. We get tidbits of others that are a part of this journey and represent other sides that aren’t just the main newbie with charisma working hard to the top. We get Kaito who is someone is trying hard to find his own pace in trying to fill big expectations. We get Nayuki and Ugawa that have skills but have to find the confidence to deliver. We get Ageha who’s been expected to come out on top. And really, we only get so little of so many others that I would love to know.
Of course I enjoyed it! Inumine is quite precious this season and should be appreciated lol For the most part I was a trudging along, finishing the episodes never feeling satisfied. But the ending really wrapped it up spectacularly and basically killed me. So. Beautiful. If you might be a little saddened that perhaps it didn’t turn out like the first season, believe me that Starmyu especially brings back its magic from then for the last episode.
After thinking back on it, nothing quite made me feel a little love for music like the first season than it’s last episode. However, it’s still a well done series that was at least consistent in its approach.
The plot is quite good. There’s some entertaining dramatic conflicts that kept me entertained thorough the whole episodes.
The art itself isn’t that bad, but unfortunately I can’t say the same for the way it’s animated. The animation is really choppy and the movements are rather awkward. The colorful background arts and pretty character designs make up for it though.
Overall, music isn’t anything spectacular. But it’s not disappointing. …..Though it probably could be due to the fact that I didn’t really had any much expectation beforehand. But well, there are some rather good songs that stuck in my head for a while. My favorite is probably the duet song between Ootori and Hositani in their play at the end.
The most disappointing thing in this show–aside from the animation–is probably the characterization. The characters are pretty and all, but they’re so one-dimensional. Thankfully the plot is good enough to make up for it.
I personally won’t rate this as 7/10. But since we can’t give out rating in decimal numbers in this site, I decided to give out 7/10 instead 6/10, since this season is quite better than the previous season (in my opinion) and I rated the previous season 6/10.
2: Yuru Camp△
English: Laid-Back Camp
MAL Score: 8.27
While the perfect getaway for most girls her age might be a fancy vacation with their loved ones, Rin Shima’s ideal way of spending her days off is camping alone at the base of Mount Fuji. From pitching her tent to gathering firewood, she has always done everything by herself, and has no plans of leaving her little solitary world.
However, what starts off as one of Rin’s usual camping sessions somehow ends up as a surprise get-together for two when the lost Nadeshiko Kagamihara is forced to take refuge at her campsite. Originally intending to see the picturesque view of Mount Fuji for herself, Nadeshiko’s plans are disrupted when she ends up falling asleep partway to her destination. Alone and with no other choice, she seeks help from the only other person nearby. Despite their hasty introductions, the two girls nevertheless enjoy the chilly night together, eating ramen and conversing while the campfire keeps them warm. And even after Nadeshiko’s sister finally picks her up later that night, both girls silently ponder the possibility of another camping trip together.
Yuru Camp is one of the gems from the season. Who could have guessed a camping series would be fun, refreshing, and very entertaining? Also, no matter how you are feeling, after each episode you will end with a big smile on your face. Yuru Camp isn’t about cute girls doing cute things. It is about how to enjoy simpler situations and how to maintain the proper mood and be happy under any circumstance. More important, the series irradiates that sensation to all the spectators. These girls give us a funny and delightful gem and will stay in our memories for a long time.
The story is straightforward and easy to follow, it is fun, fresh and entertaining to watch. It focuses on camping. Yes, I envision the same thing you’re thinking: camping, are you kidding me? How can you have a plotline about camping? It must be a fiasco. However, Yuri Camp is not dull, from a common event like camping, the authors create an amusing narration where all the characters take pleasure in camping. Keep in mind that maybe you want to go camping with your friends after the series because the characters’ commitment is plausible, delightful and absorbing. The message given to the audience through the story’s simplicity is enjoying the moments of life.
As a starting point, the pacing is perfect, and the way how all the characters are involved is pretty clever. It is remarkable seeing the correlation and the chemistry between them, no matter if they appear in the scene for few seconds, their actions complement the setting, and you don’t feel them wasted. Every character has a different personality that boosts the dynamic through the storyline and embodies the meaning of friendship. Another notable aspect, the trust. Would you camp with someone you do not trust? The series enrich the plot with those values and propels them in each episode. For example, Rin likes camping alone, but she starts enjoying her time with Nadeshiko and considers her as a friend. Since they are a group of “buddies,” they share their tastes (food, hobbies, fun). Also, the story maintains the realism and gives tips about camping. This small world is full of comical events and funny jokes executed at the perfect moment ingeniously. Look Nadeshiko, she may seem to be childish, yet she is very energetic, and she uses that side of her personality to be humorous. Just with her behavior, the characters seem flashy and feel happy. All this is possible because the authors care about the pacing and the story.
On the other hand, some spectators believe the series doesn’t have a plot, so they consider the show boring. The simplicity of the narrative can be measured in the course of action and the mood while camping. How many of us have at least camping once in our lives? If it was a gratifying experience then this show will bring memories and forgotten desires, perhaps you could end remembering some of your old friends. This series demonstrates that every action, no matter how insignificant is, it would make our existence happier and enjoyable. For me, seeing how these characters admire a landscape, it is very remarkable. Maybe it is a cliché, but that easiness is what we call having a good time. Lastly, I have not found any negative aspect of the show. Nothing is perfect, yet the anime covers some basic ideas such as friendship, trust, passion, joy, and boosts them in a very entertaining way. Yuri Camp’s beauty lies in its simplicity.
We have five characters in the story. The most noticeable Is Nadeshiko because she is the one that which gathers the rest of the cast together, and she is the central point for most of the jokes. Nadeshiko is very energetic and blissful. She loves eating, and we can consider her a thrilled girl. The other main character, Rin. In the beginning, she enjoys camping alone, but Nadeshiko’s influence may change her. Rin has more camping experience than the others.
The remaining characters add fluency to the story. Aoi and Chiaki, they are the members of the Outdoor Activities Club. Thanks to Nadeshiko the club continues with the activities and start to plan camping meetings. Lastly Ena, she always mocks Rin. Something I notice is the lack of a detailed background, but the plot works very well without it. You only need to know they like camping and the rest will come from their personalities.
The art and sound are good. One exciting part is how they care about the landscapes. It is a plus because most of the scenes are outside. The camera angles and the camera movement focus on the main characters. Also, the color palette is very vivid and catch the attention of your eyes. However, the character’s design is standard compared with other series; it goes well with the simplicity of the plot. Regarding the sound, the score fills the moments and the jokes. It isn’t bad. Although, sometimes you don’t notice it because it is standard.
The OP and ED are great. I love those two songs. The lyrics and the rhythm work very well and are very catchy. Honestly, I hummed the OP for a whole day. I am getting crazy. =(
Finally, the combination between a simple and a fluid narrative, good characters, attractive art design, right sound, creates a delightful story called Yuru Camp. I like the show, I want a second season but maybe isn’t going to happen, yet it was a hilarious ride. You must give this anime an opportunity.
So what is Yuru Camp△? (Yes, you have to have the little tent). In English, the title is “Laid Back” Camp, and that honestly couldn’t be more appropriate. It’s about a group of girls that form a camping club at their school, and spend their breaks doing just that; camping. There’s relaxing atmosphere, friendly humor, and tranquility.
So, being that it’s this kind of Slice of Life, the story certainly means to be casually presented. It’s a ripe candidate for those days where you do nothing but sit back, eat snacks, and refuse to care about anything else for at least 24 minutes of runtime (288 if you just watch the whole thing in one go, which is acceptable to me, being only a 12 episode show).
That’s not to say the show is bad, I really don’t think that—but if you wanted something profound, look elsewhere. Yuru Camp△ is a show for the people who appreciate calm, happy presentations of friendship, hobby exploration, and overall contentment. There’s nothing but smiles to be had, but it does it in a way that is neither over the top nor painful. We can find joy in how smoothly the anime incorporates naturalistic imagery alongside comfortable music and some pretty adorable characters.
Despite that, the characters in the show are completely defined by their love of camping and their girlish charm. Again, I just cannot stress enough that this story is not trying to be anything more. They don’t need to be deeply complex for this type of thing; they serve the experience well enough with just having well-defined archetypes. Still, while I wouldn’t call this a detractor, it’s scoring no points—it breaks even. The story has little going for it other than the demeanor with which it’s shown… they camp. That’s honestly, really all it is.
The animation is honestly wonderful, though. The colors are defined and the motion flows so much better than a lot of other shows that you’d be entirely forgiven for coming to Yuru Camp△ for how it looks and the way it makes you feel. You definitely won’t find much else.
– Consistently relaxing atmosphere.
– Camping tips and knowledge are pretty prevalent throughout, to the point where I learned a few things I didn’t know before, and was appreciative that they had been taught to me through a decently entertaining show.
– I can’t honestly say it’s really boring, parts of the show did make me chuckle at times and I appreciated the camaraderie amongst the characters.
– WOW that opening. And ending. The music in this show is phenomenal, as is the animation.
– It does nothing new, yet does nothing wrong. It loses no money, yet makes no money. In business we call this “breaking even.”
– Hardly more emotions to be found other than pure joy and quiet peace. Also, some silliness here and there.
– It’s pretty much unspoilable. You can take this in two ways – one, that the show has no story; or two, the show presents a “unique” type of story. Both are acceptable descriptors.
– This is yet another one of those shows where cute girls do cute things, and it seems like they only exist for the explicit reason of camping every week. There’s no depth to be seen, and while I didn’t hate them, being archetypes is nothing to celebrate.
– Sometimes the series watches like an advertisement for various products and campsites around Japan, and honestly, I expect that this is exactly what it is.
Upon writing this review, I discovered that this anime is based on a manga, and I couldn’t be less surprised. According to my Japanese friends, who I’ve spoken to about anime and manga quite extensively, manga is pretty damn popular in Japan, and there are manga for virtually everything and everyone. So it comes to me as no surprise that there’s a manga exclusively about real camping locations, ways to camp there, and little else other than cute girls—it would be something that a bunch of kids pick up at the market on the way to their OWN camping trip to read before they snooze off or right after dinner. Simple, inoffensive, and quite adorable at times.
But is it any more?
I don’t think so.
Story: Yuru Camp focuses on a theme: camping. We follow the daily life of Shima Rin (nicknamed Shimarin) who goes camping regularly on her days off. She meets the happy Nadeshiko who knows nothing about camping. After a little conversation and a delicious dinner in front of the incredible Mount Fuji, Nadeshiko develops a taste for camping.
Those two girls attend the same high school. Nadeshiko also meets Aoi and Chiaki, two girls who formed the camping club. The latter is not so successful and has little budget. As for Shimarin, she prefers to go camping alone.
This is how the girls of the club will progressively be prepared for their adventure. Buy the equipment, the food necessary to spend a night in the mountains. Since we are in a cold period of the year, they also make sure they have the means to warm up. This is not always easy since the club doesn’t have a lot of budget and must be satisfied with their tent costing 980 yen.
It’s fun to see what means they will use to do their first camping. The anime does a great job explaining in detail the different types of existing materials and the tasty dishes to cook when we go camping. it is really trying to convey to us the passion of its characters for camping. I honestly understand why Nadeshiko and her friends are so motivated.
Shimarin travels alone (over hundreds of kilometers) to discover the sublime landscapes and peaceful places in the prefecture. The girls will make a lot of use of the instant messaging system. Each of them will send a photo to show her the places she visited or banalities. This is how the relationship between characters will progress (especially between Shimarin and Nadeshiko) and finally allow them to go together all together, later in the series.
The relationship is essentially based on the unsaid. We feel that Shimarin is someone who is used to being alone, whether in high school or camping. Her chance meeting with Nadeshiko will change things and allow her to share her passion with other friends of the same age.
Sometimes she doesn’t seem disinterested enough (except when she sees dogs) but in her heart, she really wants to have a good time with her new friends. For example, when Aoi will propose to go camping together. She refuses at first even if we can perceive a touch of regret in her words. Shimarin is usually mature, calm and resourceful.
At the exact opposite, Nadeshiko behaves like a child (although she uses some old expressions) but she is sociable and always ready to go on an adventure with her friends.
On the technical aspects, the landscapes are absolutely sublime, really. They would be ideal for wallpapers. These different places impressed me and I was fascinated by their realistic appearance. C-station studio isn’t known to me but I will remember that excellent work. We can notice the use of CGI when Shimarin drives his moped.
The vocal performances perfectly transpose the personality of our characters. Nadeshiko has an often playful voice, while Shimarin has a duller voice. The opening theme “Shiny Days” is catchy and the ending matches the relaxed atmosphere of the series.
The soundtrack is one of the highlights of the series. It is reminiscent of Celtic folk music. Tateyama Akiyuki has really captured this peaceful atmosphere with his OST. Honestly, it’s a delight, and I can’t wait to listen to them in a flac version.
Ultimately, the series has clearly exceeded my expectations. It is an excellent iyashikei with a relaxing autumn/winter atmosphere in Yamanashi that will make you smile regularly. The friendship between our cute characters is touching. Laid-back Camp is a success.
1: Yuru Camp△ Season 2
English: Laid-Back Camp Season 2
Japanese: ゆるキャン△ SEASON2
MAL Score: 8.54
Having spent Christmas camping with her new friends, Rin Shima embarks on a solo-camping trip to see the New Year sunrise by the sea. All goes according to plan until unforeseen weather blocks the roads back home, making a return trip impossible. Rin, who is now stranded for a few days, is invited by Nadeshiko Kagamihara to stay at her grandmother’s house.
What is supposed to be a two-day trip becomes an extended period of sightseeing and new experiences for Rin, and she encounters some new and old faces along the way. Yuru Camp△ Season 2 continues the story of Rin, Nadeshiko, and their friends as they further explore the joys of camping.
What makes Yuru Camp great is not grandiose writing, world building or plot developments. Instead, its greatness lies in its simplicity. An anime that teaches you the ins and outs of camping, outdoor life and encourages you to go out and be active might not sound like the most exciting thing on paper, but in its near flawless execution it pulls you in and makes you fall in love.
If you’re here, you’ve probably seen the first season of Yuru Camp. Simply put, season two is better in every way. It’s everything we had in season, but there’s an emphasis on Nadeshiko and Rin’s character development that we see pay off in their solo camping trips. It’s a very satisfying and comfy journey with the girls as they learn more about their favourite activity, as well as themselves. Speaking of comfy, Yuru Camp’s biggest selling point is better than ever this time around. Every episode just sucks you in and makes you want to get under a blanket, grab some hot coco and snacks and learn. The amount of places, dishes and outdoor ideas that this show gives you is alone enough of a reason to watch it. When you throw in loveable characters and the humour, it becomes a masterclass in anime.
The combination of adorable girls, comedy and legitimate outdoor safety education makes Yuru Camp a genuine treat for any anime fan of any age. The only complaint I have about the season is that it’s too damn short. Thursdays will not be the same without Yuru Camp. Yuru Camp season 2 gets 10 tombolos out of 10.
Great cute girl anime have an effervescent quality to them that never fails to casually curl either corner of my mouth no matter how inane or minimalist the antics on screen become. By now, we’re all familiar with quiddities/odds and ends of a cute girl anime as they’re thoroughly ingrained in the genetic code that makes anime…well…“anime”. What shows like “Yuru Camp” lack in narrative heft they make up for through sheer force of charm. And that’s not to say that shows pigeonholed as “CGDCT” are entirely bereft of anything worthwhile, as the narrative often goes. I say this without a lick of irony, but cute girl anime almost form a sort of parasocial relationship with their audience, more-so than a lot of other genres. This is due to the grounded simplicity of the storytelling as well as the cast members themselves often serving as proper analogs for friends and family (save for the shrill voices and big eyes).
But what more does Yuru Camp have to offer that hasn’t already been retrofitted by any number of other functional cute girl shows? Truth be told, you almost have to actively try to fuck up a cute girl anime because they’re just that easy to write. Most of them nowadays don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re aping one of their predecessors. In regards to content, Yuru Camp is quite breezy, so breezy in fact that some have taken to calling it (myself included) an iyashikei anime. On top of being an exemplary cute girl anime, Yuru Camp effortlessly bridges the gap between irreverent gag comedies like K-On! and meditative deliberately paced iyashikei like Aria and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. This is a particularly odd marriage of two genres on its surface, they’re practically diametrically opposed. But when you really think about these two contrasting energies, the shamanic self-reflective loneliness of an iyashikei and the galvanized free-wheeling entropy of being in a friend-group like a cute girl anime, therein lies the duality of a balanced life and the recipe for a damn great anime.
For transparency’s sake, I feel it’s necessary to be forthcoming about the fact that I am an avid camper myself. With that, you could potentially glean that I have a dog in this fight. Frankly, I do. Yuru Camp dials me back to those summer nights, splayed out on the pebbly shores of a campsite, drunkenly trying to point out the different constellations and asterisms above to my friends. Or simply lying there with our eyes closed as we share in a communal silence, melting into the night, knowing that when we open them again, we’ll be together once more. In the social distancing era, these moments are precious.
Where S1 of Yuru Camp faltered was in its need to establish rudimentary camping know-how. Perhaps this is a non-criticism to those who don’t know much about camping, and in truth, the sight gags and sound editing greatly mitigate what would otherwise be something of a slog. This isn’t to say that the discrepancy in quality between both seasons is vast, not by a long shot, but with all of the minutiae having been already taken care of in its first season, S2 is significantly more focused.
The degree of agency that these characters are given is frankly somewhat unprecedented for a show like this. By now you’d imagine that one of the core tenets of a cute girl anime is wholesome togetherness in the face of everything from abject misery to minor inconvenience, to the point that the term “moeblob” takes on an entirely new meaning. It’s a scary thought, imagine Tetsuo Shima’s transformation scene in Akira except with bigger eyes and multi-colored hair. The globular goofballs that populate Yuru Camp’s cast have far more freedom than that.
What really sells Yuru Camp’s characters as an organic and believable friend group is the fact that they’re not always together. Their group texts read true to life, like one you may be a part of with a group of friends, making plans but also splintering off in different directions due to availability. While they all like each other in a manner expected of a cute girl show, it’s apparent that they have exclusive dynamics only present between certain friends. I’d also be remiss to not mention just how against the grain it is to force a wedge between these girls. This goes to show just how much trust is put into these characters as individuals going off on their own adventures and yet still being fully capable of carrying episodes on their lonesome. Often, these rare insular episodes are the ones that entrance you the most with their healing properties and measured pace.
Individually, most of the characters remain largely unchanged but there isn’t really a need for them to change. Inuko’s little sister (Chibiko?) is introduced in this season, and she is just as saucy and diabolical as her sister, thank god they don’t have the nuclear codes. Nadeshiko, who was mostly relegated to an audience surrogate in S1, really came into her own this time around. Watching her navigate her first solo camping trip was delightful, mainly because Rin and her older sister fumbling to shadow her like concerned helicopter parents underscores just how much they care for her (on top of being hilarious). That aside, watching Nadeshiko put into practice what she’s learned from Rin (as well as passing some of her own wisdom down to other campers) is deeply satisfying. And of course, there’s Sensei. Ah Sensei, I’m right there with yah.
I’ve watched quite a number of anime over the years but few that I’ve gone out of my way to watch have been so emphatic about exploring Japan’s natural beauty. You’d think that these girls were charting hinterlands in any given outing they go on. For example, I wasn’t even aware that there were notable basalt columns in Japan before having watched this anime (but I guess that’s on me). A show like this was made for the standard still-frame minimalism that animators in this industry are often forced to abuse due to scheduling and time crunches. The still-frames in Yuru Camp are almost like flipping through the pages of a glossy coffee table photography book. Would I be THIS charitable to just any show skirting by on the bare minimum as far as animation goes? It’s only because Yuru Camp knows how to properly calibrate its minimalism for maximum output.
Yuru Camp is a comedy of details, and often the smallest of details do the heaviest of lifting. It’s the little things that make Yuru Camp so special, like when Ena is showing Rin photos of her trip with Chiaki and Inuko and you can see her finger partially obscuring the camera lens on her phone in the corner of the picture. A resoundingly innocuous detail but one that further adds to the organic believability of this world. I also can’t praise the character designs and outfits in this show enough. These girls have that Pacific Northwest DRIP. The character designs and general art design of the show is distinctively cartoony, save for the scenery porn. Yuru Camp does not come up short in the sight gag department. Its dry comedic sensibilities are accentuated by its snappy but simple editing style. Quick cuts and stylized facial expressions make up the bulk of the laughs but it’s not afraid to get creative with the musical cues and effects.
One scene that really stood out to me as far as arresting camera techniques was when Nadeshiko was simply walking through a town during her first solo camping trip. As she walks with a mountain in the background and with the neighborhood she’s traversing in the foreground, the natural sense of parallax is almost like an old Disney cartoon on those multiplane cameras or even Akira (leave it to me to mention Akira more than once in a friggin Yuru Camp review). The interesting camera techniques also extend to the visual gags. Like when Rin attempts to cross a rickety bridge and it switches to handheld like she’s on Survivorman.
Theoretically, Yuru Camp’s soundtrack is something that shouldn’t have a modicum of cohesion. The diversity of its sound palette was deliberately curated by Akiyuki Tateyama, who pulled from completely disparate corners of the globe. I can only describe the lush instrumentation as rustic which deeply accentuates the outdoorsy antics. You’ll hear anything from pedal steel guitars and fiddles to pan pipes and mandolins in any given episode which can honestly catch you off guard. The delicate acoustic guitar notes and the mellow lounge percussion remind me of Choro Club’s work on the Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou’s soundtrack. There’s even a bossa nova track or two which makes me yearn for Hekiru Shiina on backing vocals at the very least.
For better or for worse, Yuru Camp’s tactile qualities will make it something of an insurmountable wall for certain audiences. It’s not a particularly challenging anime but it’s the type of thing that you kind of just have to “feel” for yourself. I’m sure some will find it to simply be nothing more than a twee travel brochure anime padded to its core with innumerable layers of fluff and the occasional yuck. But for others (who are fortunate enough to have the means and capacity to do so) Yuru Camp is a prescient anime whose content is a charming forecast of better days to come in the great outdoors. I’m privileged to live in an area with a rich cultural heritage/a melange of biomes and microcosms to see firsthand. Nonetheless, even if it’s as simple as a leisurely trek/drive down a street you’ve never been down before somewhere in your hometown, I urge everyone to soak in something new with or without the company of others, it makes no difference. There’s not enough time allotted to us to let it all slip away like a fleeting dream.
Yuru Camp was crafted from the purview of someone who has a deep affection and understanding for what they write about. What may be a quaint show to some, to others will be a didactic reminder of our transitory human condition, and the onus is on us to make the most of that fact.
In the winter season 2018 we all enjoyed the camping tour of our girls for the first time, three years later the long-awaited continuation is finally here and the comfiness continues!
We all already know what “Yuru Camp△” (don’t forget the little tent) is about: Camping! The story is just as simple and ingenious as we know it from the previous season. But wait, we experience Nadeshiko camping alone for the first time without her friends. Can that go well? Camping items are also quite expensive, so she has to take a part-time job to be able to afford all the trips. Of course, we get to see many new beautiful locations, the view is simply wonderful. Just having fun together and experiencing new adventures is the most important thing.
Our girls are just like we know and love. Nadeshiko, understandably, still loves food more than anything, while Rin is worried and takes care about her. A friendship for life. “Chibi-Aoi” or also called Akari is going on tour with the group as well. We experience the brilliant pranks of the sibling duo Inuyama even more. The co-president of “The Outdoor Activities Club” Chiaki can of course not be missing and Ena even bought a dog tent for her little Chikuwa. A heroine who thinks of the animal first instead of herself. The best teacher Minami is ready to drive our girls and accompany them on their camping. She sticks to the rule “Don’t drink and drive”, but her love for alcohol remains inseparable. Nade-chan’s older sister Sakura showed us that she also likes to go on excursions and onsens are definitely a good choice for her (at least for us viewers). With Ayano Toki we get to know a new character. Aya-chan is Nadeshiko’s childhood friend who has known her since middle school. The family members of the Kagamiharas and Shimas should not be missing of course. We know where Rin’s love for her scooter and camping comes from. In short, everyone is back!
The landscape is also beautiful this time. You would love to go there yourself and see it. Whether sunset or sunrise, we experience all the beautiful moments from their camping. The food in particular looks so delicious. Regardless of whether it’s just a simple cup noodle or hotpot with lots of ingredients, you get hungry by looking at it.
The music is as happy and relaxing as before. Perfectly suitable for this anime.
Had a hard day? Just want switch off and relax? Yuru Camp△ is the perfect anime therefor. The combination of the beautiful view, the simple tranquility and our loving characters makes Yuru Camp△ to THE anime we love. Get something nice to drink and eat and make yourself comfortable. In the end, comfy is everything!
Carpe diem – Seize the day and watch Yuru Camp△!
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Yuru Camp△ Season 2
2. Yuru Camp△
3. Starmyu 2nd Season
4. Heya Camp△
5. Starmyu 3rd Season
7. Seikoku no Dragonar
8. Hakyuu Houshin Engi