Blog Update – Taking a Break

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Hi All!

It’s been a crazy couple months, and I want to thank you all for being patient with me about putting new reviews out.

I wanted to let you guys know that I will be taking the month of December off to work on some longer articles and spend time with family. I was thinking about continuing my Ghibli month from last year, but I have a steadily growing list of articles I want to write so I figured I should start crossing some off my list. Most of those should be posted here, and if I wind up pitching them to another site, I’ll let you know where to find them over on my Facebook page.

I’ll be putting up as many reviews as I can for the rest of November, so keep an eye out, follow me on Facebook, or here on WordPress! Be sure to check out my archives if you get bored, share your favorite articles around, and post some comments on ones you really like (or don’t like).

I hope you all have a great holiday season!

~ Allison

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Dirty Diamonds #8: “Sex” Comic Anthology Review

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Dirty Diamonds is one of those anthologies I look for every time I go to a convention like MICE (Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo) mainly because I know there will be something in there I will like. Also because I definitely think women and queer comic voices don’t get the amount of attention they deserve. The anthology itself goes back to 2011 when it was started by the two editors, Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman. Each volume is funded through Kickstarter and takes submissions from anyone who identifies as female. This volume’s specific theme is  sex, and it manages to present a lot of different semi-autobiographical stories about sex itself, our relation to it, and the social pressures surrounding it. I wanted to take a moment to look at some of the stories and issues presented in Sex as well as highlight some of my favorites. Continue reading

Hitorijime My Hero Anime Review

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Hitorijime My Hero was the token boys love anime of the summer season, and as not many mangas of this genre are adapted into anime, I was pretty excited to see what would become of this one. Unfortunately, I can say now after watching it though twice that this one doesn’t really give me much to be excited about anymore. For those of you who like the traditional boys love/yaoi tropes — semi-abusive semes, weird power dynamics, and overly naive ukes — this show will probably be fairly enjoyable. However, for me, I very nearly gave up halfway through after I found I wasn’t looking forward to a new episode every week as much as other shows on my list that season. I won’t say I completely hated it, there were moments that I liked, that made me laugh, but it definitely not a show I’ll be returning to.

The story follows the love stories of two couples — Masahiro and Kousuke; Kensuke and Hasekura — as they try to reconcile their feelings for each other. For the majority of the plot though, we focus on Masahiro and Kousuke as Masahiro’s admiration for the man who saved him from a life of gangs turns into love and Kousuke must admit that their relationship is more than teacher and student. Based off the mangas Hitorijime Boyfriend and HItorijime My Hero, the story was licensed for the anime adaptation by Sentai Filmworks and picked up by Encourage Films for the animation. It was simulcasted in the US by Amazon’s Anime Strike and ran for 12 episodes last season. Continue reading

Little Gods Comic Review

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Little Gods — much like Blue that I reviewed a week ago — was something that I found at Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) last month. I have to say, I don’t regret picking this up. I was a little skeptical of the art style, but I’ve found the comic to be pretty interesting overall. It manages to utilize Native American creation myths as a jumping off point for its own story of adolescence and discussions surrounding family and queer romance. As someone who loves both mythology and watercolor artwork, it was pretty much a done deal that I would find at least something to like about this comic.

Created by Leda Zawacki and published by Tinto Press, this single volume comic not only contains the story “Little Gods” but also its prequel “Sky Gods.” The prequel follows the Northwest Native American creation myth Shasta Mountain and the Grizzly Bears, using most of the original text. “Little Gods” diverts the story to focus on the Sky God’s eldest daughter as she dreams about descending the mountain to see the world her father created. After a failed kidnapping by a bunch of wind monsters, the eldest daughter — nicknamed Bunny Girl for her distinctive bunny mask — finds herself at the base of Shasta Mountain, free from the watchful eye of her father. Continue reading

Konbini Kareshi (Convenience Store Boyfriends) Anime Review

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Konbini Kareshi was one of those animes that I wound up dropping after about four episodes last season. I decided now was probably a good time to revisit what made me drop it and find out if it actually got any better in the following episodes. Short answer: not really? It’s an anime with a lot of problems that tries so hard at being good, but ultimately pales in comparison to others that have taken its concepts further. I mentioned in my Summer 2017 First Impressions that this is primarily a fluffy and easy watch in terms of romance, but ultimately feels dull if you’re looking for something more, and I’m going to stand by that assessment for this review.

The story centers around a group of four friends who always stop at a convenience store on their way home from school and the relationships that develop from chance meetings. It continues to follow these four high schoolers, two girls (Mashiki and Mihashi) and two boys (Mishima and Honda), as they make their way through their last years of school and the troubles that come with it. It started as a multimedia project by the publisher Kadokawa, first  as a mook (or like a cross between magazine and book), then a bundled drama CD, before being picked up for animation by Studio Pierrot. The simulcast was licensed by Crunchyroll and ran for a total of twelve episodes. Continue reading

Blue Manga Review

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Blue was something I found while wandering around MICE (Massachusetts Independent Comic Expo) a couple weeks ago. One of my purposes in going to that convention was to find interesting and little-known comics to review for this blog. I saw this particular one sitting on the display shelf, its cover almost a solid blue with the faint outline of a girl, and knew it would be something great to review for this blog.

Written by Kiriko Nananan, who got her start writing for the prominent magazine “Garo” in Japan, which specialized in alternative or avant-garde comics. The story itself follows the relationship that grows between two girls, Kayako Kirishima and Masami Endo. We see their friendship slowly develop into confused feelings of love as their high school years slowly come to an end. It’s a story of fleeting love, told in a sweet yet powerfully moving way. Continue reading

Fall 2017 First Impressions

Compared to last season, I feel like this season is lacking on some diverse romance options. As you can see, there are a four animes I can talk about, but definitely not as much of an offering as we saw last time. What I see lacking this year is our token shonen-ai series or the once and awhile shoujo-ai series. However, what we do have for options this season are a lot stronger than last time, and I can say now that I can recommend almost every show on this list. I’ll also list some other anime’s I’m watching outside the romance genre at the end or you can follow me on My Anime List to see what I’m watching and what I’ve dropped. Continue reading

How Love and Lies Remains a Shallow Romance Despite its Premise

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Love and Lies is an anime that I was relatively interested in when it first came out at the beginning of last season. The first episode caught my attention with its backstory based on a very real problem facing Japan today: the declining birthrate and subsequent aging population. Its an issue I’ll go into in more depth later on, but suffice to say it’s an issue that can make or break a Japanese Prime Minister depending on how they handle it. This anime took this highly relevant and contentious issue and decided to use it as the backbone of their story — and they failed. What was set up in the first episode as a romantic drama surrounding a governmental mystery became a poor excuse for a romantic and harem anime. It brought up issues that could have made the story more interesting, but failed to capitalize on them. Honestly, its one saving grace is that Liden Films did a great job on the animation.

In this alternate Japan, every person receives a notice at the age of 16 that tells them who their assigned wife or husband is. The story specifically follows Yukari Nejima who has been in love with his classmate Misaki Takasaki from a young age. On his 16th birthday, Yukari decides to confess his love to her minutes before his notice is supposed to arrive. And minutes before that notice, Misaki returns his confession. Strangely enough, when Yukari gets the notification on his phone about his future wife, she is listed as Misaki. However, when agents show up with his hard-copy notice, his assigned wife is listed as another person — Ririna Sanada. When he meets her, though, Ririna is so taken with his love story they she allows him and Misaki to grow their relationship under her watchful eye. Continue reading

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

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