How Made in Abyss Became My Dark Horse Winner of Last Season

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Made in Abyss has to be one of the biggest surprises of the Summer 2017 season. I certainly did not see this show I had never heard of, that looked like it might be geared towards a younger audience, becoming one of my favorites. But once I started watching, I couldn’t stop. The world that was being built from one episode to the next, the characters, the overarching story, and even the smaller stories all combined to hold my interest. Though the romance aspect is a very small part of the show, I couldn’t help but write a post about this anime. Originally a manga created by Akihito Tsukushi, it was picked up by Kinema Citrus for the anime. In the US, Amazon’s Anime Strike service picked it up for simulcasting.

The anime centers around the city of Orth that surrounds a mysterious hole going deep into the earth, called the Abyss. In the city lived a young orphaned girl named Riko who is training to become a Cave Raider, or someone who ventures down into the Abyss to dig out and bring back ancient artifacts. On one raid, she finds and befriends a humanoid robot named Reg. Some time later, she is informed that personal effects of her mother, who was also a cave raider, were recovered in a deep part of the Abyss. One contains a note that encourages her to make the long and dangerous journey to the bottom of the Abyss. Continue reading

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My Love-Hate Relationship with Gamers!

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Gamers! was an anime that I was honestly excited to watch when it first started airing this past season. The first couple episodes were funny and the characters were people I could relate to as someone who avidly follows videogame culture. Then the episodes started to get more and more into relationship drama and I finally had to take a break at episode seven. It strange to think that as someone who loves romance, has built this blog around romance, that I would find relationship drama in this show grating and way too awkward to watch, but I did. However, I came back to the show a few days ago to write this review and found myself oddly enjoying it for the most part. There were still moments that annoyed me, but that instinctual hatred of awkward comedy that I was feeling before was dulled. I’m still on the fence about whether I like the series or not, but logically I can see the good and the bad in it.

If you haven’t had a chance to catch up on the Summer 2017 season, Gamers! is a show that follows the life and troubles of five high school students whose love of videogames brings them together. Their friendship quickly becomes fraught with misunderstandings, relationship drama, and he-said-she-said moments. Originally an ongoing light novel series written by Sekina Aoi, it was picked up by Studio Pine Jam for its 12 episode run. While not one of the top-rated shows of the season, it still clocked in at 7.33 on My Anime list. Continue reading

Reindeer Boy Graphic Novel Review

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Reindeer Boy is written and illustrated by Cassandra Jean and picked up for publication by Yen Press in 2016. It came to my attention while I was scrolling through the recommendations on the graphic novel subreddit. The concept seemed intriguing: a romance between a girl and mysterious horned boy that shows up at her school. I could see some basic romance tropes already in the description, but I’m always willing to give a new romance story a try. Unfortunately, while the character designs were pretty cool, the story itself left me wanting and kind of disappointed. But perhaps people looking for a something fluffy to read during the holidays, this could be good.

Quincy has the same dream every year on Christmas Eve – of finding a little boy holding a special gift for her under the tree – and every Christmas morning, she’s awoken to find a gift wrapped in tinfoil with her name on it. When school resumes after the winter break, Quincy’s class discovers they have an unusual new transfer student named Cupid. Ridiculously cute and friendly, the new boy has everyone both enamored and confused. Those antlers can’t be real…can they? With Cupid having seemingly set his sights on Quincy, it seems she’ll be having a memorable year indeed! (Official summary from Yen Press) Continue reading

My Love Story Anime Review

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My Love Story has been on my list to check out for a while now, and I finally decided to give it a shot this week. This anime was adapted from a manga of the same name written by Kazune Kawahara with art by Aruko. It was picked up by studio Madhouse for animation and was simulcast on Crunchyroll in 2014. I went into this anime only knowing the small snippets I had heard from other people and other reviewers so I was honestly surprised to learn how many nominations and recommendations the manga had received among the shoujo genre. This is mostly because I found the series as a whole fairly hit and miss in terms of story and my own level of engagement and enjoyment.

This romantic comedy features the high school student Takeo Goda who doesn’t have much luck with women. He’s tall, muscular, and not classically handsome. To make matters worse, all the women he falls in love with are more attracted to his best friend Makoto Sunakawa. That all changes when he spots Rinko Yamato, a petite shy girl, getting groped on the train and rescues her. Takeo, who’s never had a girlfriend in his life, must now try to make sense of what it means to be in a relationship. Continue reading

Manga or Anime? Say I Love You

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I wanted to give something new a try this time around and take a look at some short anime series to see how they compare to the manga. For our first review, we have Say I Love You, created by Kanae Hazuki, and picked up for its 13 episode anime adaptation by Studio Zexcs and Sentai Filmworks. The manga itself currently has 17 volumes published with the 18th and final volume due to come out sometime this year. Like most anime adaptations, the manga continues well after the anime ends, but the question then becomes whether it’s actually worth it to continue reading the manga or even if it’s worth it to check out the anime. I’m hoping with these types of reviews, I can answer those questions for you guys. Over the past couple days I’ve binged through all 13 episodes of the anime and 17 volumes of the manga, and have come to the conclusion that while I love how the anime handles the story, the manga has its good points as well.

Say I Love You follows the growing love story between high school students Kurosawa Yamato and Tachibana Mei. Mei doesn’t trust people, not after being bullied her whole life, and refuses to make friends or open up to people. But that all changes when she round-house kicks the most popular boy in school, Yamato, and gains his unwavering attention and phone number. While she vows never to use it, soon finds herself hiding from a stalker in a convenience store with Yamato the only person she can call for help. After he shows up to rescue her and subsequently steals her first kiss, she begins to see that opening up to the people around her isn’t such a bad idea after all. Continue reading

Four Romantic Animated Shorts Worth Checking Out

Lately I’ve been finding myself drawn more and more to different animation styles and animations from different countries, particularly those from different countries and cultures. I’ve been on a mission to branch out my love of animation beyond Japanese anime and so have started to compile a list of the romantic shorts I like the most. You can find these across the internet, ranging in length from 4 minutes to 12 minutes, but I generally say anything around or less than 15 minutes is what I would consider a short. Going over that amount of time and you’re getting close to a full length cartoon episode. These are animations which display story, creative animation, and great directing in a very short amount of time. Those that have made it onto this list display some or all of these features to create a well-crafted story or message in a small package. Feel free to check out any that interest you and let me know what you thought in the comments below! Continue reading

How American Romance Comics Died a Slow Death and No One Seemed to Care

As a lover and reviewer of romance in all forms, it became acutely apparent to me that there seemed to be a dearth of romance comics geared specifically toward women in the American marketplace. However, when you look at the success of the romance paperback market which has total fiction market share of 34 percent and an estimated total sales value of 1.08 million in 2013 this fact seems a little strange. It’s not that women don’t read comics either since GraphicPolicy points to women comic fans outnumbering men under 18 and among the older demographic time after time. What I have seen though is a lot of young girls around high school age turn to manga where Japanese publishers have fostered an industry focused specifically on the female market. It isn’t an altogether uncommon sight to see many girls sitting on the floor of a Barnes and Noble, thumbing through the newest manga featuring high school girls just like them discovering love and relationships. But still, where are the romance comics from an American perspective, and why aren’t mainstream publishers capitalizing on this demographic? The more I looked into it, the more I found that at one point in time American romance comics used to be, and in some cases still are, the most popular comics ever sold. So what happened? Continue reading

Blog Announcement/Update

Hi All!

I don’t know how many of you follow the Facebook page, but if you do, I’m sure you saw that I would be posting a surprise sometime this week. Well the surprise is the introduction of a new category for this blog: Long Form!

Since a few months ago I was writing an article once a month for the website Girls Like Comics. However, due to some technical trouble that website is now offline. Until such time as it comes back and all articles are restored, the pieces that were published on that platform will appear here! I’d hate for anything I wrote for everyone to go unread, so I’m bringing these long form articles back home for all of you again. I’m planning a few more longer articles as well, and I’ll let you know where to find them when the time comes.

Have a great rest of the weekend! The next review will be posting tomorrow!

~Allison

A Girl on the Shore Manga Review

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From the creator of Oyasumi Punpun, Inio Asano brings us a story of adolescent love, sex, and mental illness between two middle school friends. Originally published in Manga Erotics F, it was picked up for western publication by Vertical where they released all 20 chapters in one omnibus version. I honestly haven’t had to chance to check out Punpun for myself yet, but if it’s anything like A Girl on the Shore, I’m excited to see what kind of story Asano crafts and what kind of art he presents us with. After reading this manga, I almost want to say that this was what I was looking for when I went into Scum’s Wish, a gritty story about casual sex between two people who have a relationship complicated by fear and mental illness. And, while it doesn’t hold back on its displays of sex and exploration, I never felt like these scenes were there purely for our titillation rather they acted as a key component in our understanding of these two juvenile’s relationship to themselves and each other.

A Girl on the Shore follows the lives of two middle school students, Koume and Keisuke, as they develop a relationship based around casual sex and the need for something more. Koume looks to Keisuke as a rebound companion after the playboy Misaki loses interest in her, but soon finds herself enjoying their time together. Keisuke has confessed his love for Koume multiple times before, and agrees to help her get over the self-involved Misaki, but things quickly become clouded as the anniversary of his brother’s suicide fast approaches.

Continue reading

The Place Promised in Our Early Days Anime Film Review

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The Place Promised in our Early Days is something I saw years ago but completely forgot about until I was rewatching it earlier. I also completely forgot it is a Makoto Shinkai piece, which is fairly embarrassing, and watching it again — after seeing his most recent work Your Name — has given me a much better idea of the kinds of films Shinkai likes to create. Produced in 2004, this film was Shinkai’s directorial debut and was the first time he worked with a full team and large-scale funding. Compared to Voices of a Distant Star, his other major work before this one, you can tell just how much just having a team and adequate funding can mean for a project. With high-quality animation, a great sci-fi mixed story, and skilled direction The Place Promised in Our Early Days becomes a breathtaking movie about friendship, promises, and tragedy.

The film begins with a look at a Japan split in two after Hokkaido was taken over by the Soviet Union. A large, mysterious tower in the center of the northern island looms over the rest of Japan, making the rest of the world question its purpose. Is it a weapon or some sort of machine used to study something? Three friends, Hiroki, Takuya, and Sayuri, are drawn to this tower and make a promise to fly there one day on the plane they are secretly building. But when Sayuri suddenly disappears and war begins edging ever closer, their promise is soon forgotten. That is until the area around the tower begins to disappear. Continue reading