Why Kare Kano Remains One of the Best Shoujo Romances

 

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Kare Kano has always had a special place in my heart, starting from my early high school more than a decade ago now. It was one of the first romance mangas I picked up and still remains steadily sitting on my bookshelf to this day. I’ve been feeling a lot of nostalgia lately for manga and anime of the 90’s and early 2000’s, and decided to revisit this classic recently. I spent the better part of two or so days binging through the whole 21 volumes, and am pleased to say my nostalgia did do it justice, which I can’t say for many other mangas from that time period. I won’t say the story is perfect, but there are reasons why it has remained in my top five romance mangas of all time for so long.

Kare Kano, or His and Her Circumstances, follows the story of Yukino and Arima who are both the tops of their class at high school, admired by students and teachers alike for their intelligence and attitude. However, for both of them, this perfect student persona is just that, a mask that they wear to gain respect and admiration from their peers. Yukino thrives on the attention her classmates give her, while Arima must play the good boy role for the well-being of his adopted family. When Yukino sees her position in school threatened by Arima’s rise to class president, a vicious feud erupts that leaves their true faces exposed. Continue reading

Super Lovers Season 2 Anime Review

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As you probably guessed from my review of Season 1, I’m not a huge fan of this series, so it was with much procrastination that I finally decided to sit down and binge through all of the episodes. And, I have to say, my opinion hasn’t changed that much. I was kind of hoping that season two would at least be a little better, but I’m still seeing a lot of the same problems as I saw in the last season. The major problem being that Haru, one of the major characters, is boring and flat. This does not mean, however that the show doesn’t touch on some interesting subjects and display some pretty good animation, but these good points seem only skin-deep to me.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch the first season yet, I highly recommend watching it or at least reading my season one review before continuing. There was a huge point of contention among anime and yaoi fandom with this series that I touch on there that I won’t be returning to in this review. For those who need a refresher on plot, Super Lovers follows the life of Haru who goes to visit his mother in Canada only to find that he has a new adopted brother named Ren. While he prefers the company of dogs over people, Ren quickly becomes attached to Haru, vowing to follow him to Japan once he is older. However, when Haru returns to Japan, he is involved in a serious accident that takes the lives of his father and step-mother as well as wiping all his memories of Ren. So when Ren shows up at his door, he must figure out how to live and relate to his family again. Continue reading

Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid Anime Review

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Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid was one of those animes last season that it took me a couple tries to get into, but when I finally did, I could see why so many people were gushing about it. Written and illustrated by Coolkyoushinja — with a spin-off manga by Mitsuhiro Kimura — the series was picked up by Kyoto Animation for the anime adaptation. Most famous for Haruhi Suzumiya, Kyoto Animation manages to implement a distinctly moe style that enhances the moments of action through contrast. But its animation isn’t the only going for it. Kobayashi also creates empathy and moments of relatability through some truly heartwarming moments.

The story behind Kobayashi follows the life of computer programmer Kobayashi who suddenly finds herself face-to-face with a dragon one morning after a long night of drinking. Taking the shape of a young woman, Touru informs Kobayashi that she is her new maid. Touru quickly integrates herself into her new master’s life, taking care of day-to-day concerns as well as introducing Kobayashi to a few new dragons friends who are both curious and wary of humans. Continue reading

Scum’s Wish Anime Review

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Scum’s Wish is a tough show to talk about. Airing in the Winter 2017 season through Amazon’s Anime Strike service, this 12 episode series has become extremely contentious among anime fans. It took me writing the first two paragraphs of this review, watching the show again, and then rewriting this review for my opinions to really solidify. On one side are fans who love the series for its use of paneling, visuals, and display of sex in a normalized lens. On the other are people who see the characters as flat, only interested in their love problems, or as, in one instance, extreme caricatures with no believable substance or backstory. On this side, the paneling and directing create an almost oppressive atmosphere that can make each episode a slog to get through. In a way, I think I’ve found myself in the middle of this argument somewhere, though as I’ve thought more and more, I’ve slipped further into the latter side of things.

The story of Scum’s Wish follows the struggles of Mugi and Hanabi who have both fallen for different teachers at their high school. Hanabi wishes for her “big brother” from childhood to return her feelings, while Mugi longs for the attention of his former tutor-turned-teacher. When they both notice the other’s love interests becoming closer to one another, Mugi and Hanabi look to each other for comfort. Through a pinky-swear, they agree to be the fill-in for each other’s unrequited love, acting as a replacement until the time when one of them manages to succeed at gaining their love interest’s affection. Continue reading

The Great Passage Anime Review

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The Great Passage is, I would have to say, one of the biggest dark horses of the Winter 2017 anime season. Simulcast through Amazon’s new anime streaming service, Anime Strike, it definitely didn’t get the attention it deserved. I also think this is one of the few anime to be adapted from a full novel, not light novel or manga. Originally written by Shion Miura, it has gone through one live action drama adaption before being picked up by Studio Zexcs for the animation, and boy does the medium lend well to the overall story. The skill shown in the visual storytelling of this anime is breathtaking at times, really showcasing how an adaptation to a new medium can breath new life into a story.

The story of The Great Passage follows the life of a man named Majime who is currently working in sales at a major publisher in Japan. The only problem is that he has trouble finding the right words to use when communicating with people, especially clients. When the dictionary department needs a new editor to complete their most ambitious work yet, Majime somehow gets recruited into their ranks. But this proves to be the perfect fit for him as he is fascinated by the multiple connotations behind words, always searching for the best way to communicate and connect with people. The department’s dictionary steadily becomes his ship across a sea of words. Continue reading

Your Name isn’t my Favorite Anime Movie, but it was Good Overall [Extended Review]

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Your Name has to be one of the most hyped up anime movies of all time. It grossed about 23 Billion Yen (190 Million USD) in Japan, coming in second behind Spirited Away on the charts for most popular domestic movie. This is a first for a movie not directed by Miyazaki to top the charts in any meaningful way. But that was last August. The hype has been growing ever since leading up to the much-publicized US release which would feature both dubbed and subtitled versions in choice theaters around the country.

My Facebook feed has been inundated with both Funimation news about the upcoming release as well as fans and critics adding their excitement and opinions (if they managed to see it early). Finally, that energy crested this weekend with the official release on Friday, and I found myself the following day staring at a crowded theater in Boston wondering if I was ever going to find a seat that wouldn’t eventually hurt my neck. Honestly, even with all the hype behind the movie, I was a little surprised at the large turnout even in a fairly sized city like Boston. But, armed with an oversized popcorn and soda — the smallest size you can get — I managed to a find a relatively good seat and settled in for my second viewing on Your Name.

[There will be spoilers ahead] Continue reading

Daytripper Graphic Novel Review

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Daytripper is a comic that melds discussion about death, friendship, and love into a story with so many twists and turns that you almost can’t keep up. Created by the famous twin-team of comic artists Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon — who you may recognize from a previous review — and published by Vertigo in 2011. This comic has been on my list to read for awhile ever since I saw samples of their art in passing, and even more so after I read How to Talk to Girls at Parties. I finally got the chance to borrow it out of my local library, and I was not disappointed. Both the story and the art are finely crafted to emphasize themes of living life to its fullest and appreciating the time you have with people.

The story of Daytripper follows the life of a man named Bras who works as an obituary editor at his local paper. He spends most of his time writing about the lives of people who have recently passed while trying to make a name for himself as a novelist. In each chapter, Bras takes us through a different segment of his life, whether it be his childhood playing with his cousins on a farm or the time he first met his future wife. However, each event inevitably ends in his death, highlighting the inescapable nature of death and cycle of life itself. Continue reading

I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying Anime Review

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This short-form anime is just three and a half minutes long but is packed with romance, comedy, and slice-of-life moments that make you want to keep watching. Like most short-form series, this anime started as a 4-Koma webcomic created by Cool-kyō Shinja which was then compiled into volumes. The anime adaptation started airing in 2014 for 13 episodes and received a second season the following year. Created by Studio Seven, you can see their long history with moe anime throughout this show, but that certainly doesn’t detract from the show at all.

I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying follows the lives of a husband and wife who couldn’t be more different from each other. The husband, Hajime, is a complete otaku who works as a web designer and obsesses over figurines and manga. Kaoru, the wife, is a more “normal” person who likes socializing with her friends and works a regular office job. Throughout the series, their differences in interests and culture clash, but they both work hard to try and understand one another. Continue reading

Liquor & Cigarette Oneshot Manga Review

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Liquor & Cigarette (L&C) is a one-shot manga that drew me in from the very first page but didn’t necessarily live up to the level of its art when it came to the story. Created by Ranmaru Zariya, L&C is their first work in the shonen-ai or boys love genre. It’s a short and sweet story that definitely has a lot of great points to it, but left me wanting at the end.

For anyone interested, here’s a very brief synopsis:

Teo recently inherited his father’s liquor store after he retired. Camillo is his best friend from childhood who lives across the street and runs a Tobacconists. During the warmest days, Teo can smell the scent of cigarettes and shampoo wafting over. With Camillo completely open about his bisexuality, flirting with the many women who come to his store just to see him, Teo begins to question why Camillo’s scent is becoming so appealing. Continue reading

Doukyuusei Anime Film Review

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As part of last season’s shows, Doukyuusei slipped through my radar mainly due to it not being aired on the various anime streaming services I follow, but I managed to track it down just a short while ago and I have not regretted it. Doukyuusei is a short, hour-long movie that combines some great animation with a sweet romance to produce a truly entertaining Boys Love film. For fans of Boys Love I really can’t recommend this enough.

For anyone interested, here’s a quick synopsis:

Rihito Sajou is an honor student who got perfect scores in every subject on his high school entrance exam. Hikaru Kusakabe plays guitar in his band that performs at live events and is popular among the girls. These boys would have never crossed paths. But one day Hikaru offers to help Rihito prepare for their upcoming chorus festival and the two begin to talk. As the two meet after school, they feel one another’s sound, listen to each other’s voice, and begin to harmonize as their hearts beat together. Continue reading