Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu Anime Season 1 Review

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This anime wasn’t even on my radar until I saw it recommended as the best anime of 2016 by Mother’s Basement on Youtube. The concept of the show deals with a part of Japan’s theatrical history that was present before WWII, and then follows it through the post-war era as it battles with the westernization and subsequent censorship. While I’m not entirely sure if I would agree with Mother’s Basement that this show deserves to be heralded as the best anime of 2016, but it comes pretty close. Produced by Studio Deen, the team really showed their skill in the amount and range of expressiveness in the characters, which includes the amazing work the voice actors did in bringing their characters to life.

For anyone who was like me and let this slip under their radar, here’s a quick synopsis:

After being released from prison, Yotaro knows exactly what he wants to do: become a rakugo performer. However, rakugo is an art that is often passed from master to apprentice, with chosen apprentices taking on their master’s name once he retires. In order to be the best, Yotaro decides to learn from the best, but the great Yakumo has never taken an apprentice in his whole career. Something about Yotaro intrigues Yakumo, though, and he finds himself joining Yakumo’s dysfunctional family that includes a red-headed, fiery adopted daughter. After finding out that her real father used to be an apprentice under Yakumo’s predecessor at the same time as him, Yotaro convinces his new master to tell them the story of the now deceased Sukeroku which takes them all back to the 1930s. Continue reading

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Lucky Penny Graphic Novel Review

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Lucky Penny is co-created by one of my favorite artist and writer teams, Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh, who also create the webcomic Johnny Wander plus many other independent comics and collaborations. This graphic novel was published through the support of backers on Kickstarter, but the experience and unique style of Ota and Hirsch help make it a great and entertaining read especially for fans of other comics like Scott Pilgrim by Brian Lee O’Malley. I saw a lot of his influence in both Ota’s style and the story overall, a story that follows the lives of two very flawed but passionate people trying to come together and grow into adulthood while facing some seemingly unlucky events.

If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at Lucky Penny, here’s a quick synopsis:

Penny Brighton is a woman down on her luck. She lost her job, lost her apartment, and is now living in a storage shed and working for a 12-year-old boss at a laundromat. Armed with her stash of raunchy romance novels and a cat named Boyfriend, she tries to make the best of her situation. But when she agrees to go on a date with the slightly dorky and quiet Walter in exchange for free showers at the gym, will her luck begin to turn? What about the rumors of middle schoolers causing trouble, does that have anything to do with the sounds she’s hearing outside her shed door? Continue reading

Winter 2017 Anime First Impressions

Welcome back for another installment of Anime First Impressions! The new Winter 2017 has some interesting shows coming out this time as well as some not-so-interesting ones. All of the shows I’m going mention here adhere to my blog’s genre theme of romance and all come from Crunchyroll’s simulcast list. But, I’ll also list briefly the shows I’ve been watching that don’t fit into these parameters at the end of this post. You can also keep track of what I’ve been watching or reading on my Kitsu page, which is like a Goodreads for anime and manga.

But enough of that. Here’s some of the Winter 2017 anime’s I’ve been watching:

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Fuuka (2 episodes in)

This show revolves around a boy, obsessed with Twitter, who moves to a new school. While walking around Tokyo, he meets a blue-haired girl who mistakes his raised phone for him taking a picture of her and promptly slaps it out of his hands. The girl, Fuuka, is a lover of music and a general tom-boy. After forming an unlikely friendship with him, she drags him and another person into forming a light-music club at their school in order to start making music of her own.

This show starts out as a pretty typical shonen romance, with gratuitous up-skirt panty shots and tsundere antics that are sure to appeal to a lot of male views. However, I wouldn’t write this show off just yet as it still has a few things that I found appealing and entertaining. For one, the show is supposed to focus on the formation of a band and the music they create together, so as long as it doesn’t turn out to be like K-ON, I think it could be interesting. The art style and animation throughout the episodes so far has been really strong as well, with a lot of vibrant colors and details.

There are a couple things that could be annoying such as the love triangle between him, Fuuka, and his childhood-friend-turned-singer. If the show continues as the first episode did, we could also be seeing more fanservice in the future.

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Masamune-kun’s Revenge (2 episodes in)

This shonen romance revolves around the premise that a previously overweight boy returns to his old school a changed and more handsome person and intends to exact revenge on the girl who rejected him. So far the show’s love interest is tsundere-esque girl who hates men of every kind, preferring to give them insulting nicknames and ostracize them instead. Not to mention that the main character isn’t that great either, believing that the only thing you need to be successful is to be handsome. Also, his mom looks like a 5 year old with the amount of moe they tried to inject into the show.

I may give this one a few more episodes to see how it goes, and it may be entertaining for the pure comedic value. Episode two starts to venture into a little more weirdness with the start of the weird lackey character getting herself involved in their feud. Who knows, but give it a try if the premise sounds interesting to you and let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Seiren (1 episode in)

The third shonen romance this season that puts a spin on it by also being a harem anime. It markets itself as the story of the main character’s “pure” relationship between three different heroines and the memories he makes with them. Honestly, I question the validity of this being described as pure as the first episode has a girl getting up off a desk and leaving behind a fading imprint of her butt, but that’s just me. It does include the standard high school drama of studying for entrance exams and finding out what you want to do in the future, so that might balance it out a bit. But I think this one might be right on the edge of dropping for me.

I’ll give it a couple more episodes to see what happens, but I’m predicting dropping this one. That is unless it does something interesting or terrible that warrants its own review on this blog.

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Super Lovers Season 2 (1 episode in)

Here we go again, another season of Super Lovers. If you’ve read my review of the first season, you may know my opinions of this show lean towards the negative. If you haven’t read that review, I’d give it a look before reading this.

The first episode picks up right where the last season leaves off after Haruko makes her appearance with the threat that she’s going to take Ren back to Switzerland. This episode feels packed with plot, but ultimately the danger posed by Haruko dissipates pretty quickly as there seems to be little actual threat that Ren will actually move to Switzerland. What we do get is though is more of a look at Haruko who is honestly a little more of an interesting character than Haru at this point. We also get a brief and glossed over plot point of Ren almost having to give up Tanuki and the reiterated, kind of creepy reference that Ren and Haru still kind of see each other as brothers even as they start making out.

I probably won’t drop this one though as it will most definitely get its own review at the end of the season. My opinion most likely won’t change, but we’ll see how it plays out.

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Season 2

I don’t have much to say about this season yet as I’m still working on an upcoming review of the first. However, if this season is anything like the first, I’m predicting I’ll love it. If you don’t know, this show is a historical drama set in post-war Japan centered around the storytelling art called Rakugo. Performers of this art must sit at all times and only have their upper body, expressions, and voice to rely on to convey their story. But Japan’s culture is going through some major changes at this time, and performers are forced to watch as their art slowly dies out. All of this happens in the background as the story focuses on two sets of performers, jumping between the past and the present.

My understanding is that this season will focus more on the present and the lives of the two younger apprentices while also posing the question: should Rakugo change with the times or be preserved? Keep a look out for my review of season one coming very soon.

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Ancient Magus’ Bride OVA

This is another that I can’t quite speak to yet as the episode slated for this season has yet to be released, but if the first episode from last season was anything to go off of, I’m very excited. You can read my review for the manga this prequel OVA is based off of here.

That does it for this first impressions review. Be sure to tune in later for more anime, manga, and comic reviews. New updates post twice a week, usually every Saturday and Wednesday. Here are some other shows I’m watching this season: March comes in like a lion S2, All Out!! S2, and Spiritpact. Be sure to follow be on Kitsu to see what I drop or keep watching.

QQ Sweeper Manga Review

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QQ Sweeper is a manga that I wasn’t quite sure I would like going in, but it did win me over after a little while. Written and illustrated by Kyousuke Motomi, this three volume manga isn’t perfect but manages to have a lot to say about mental illness while keeping to its fantasy aesthetic. Set in a world where people called Sweepers are able to access people’s minds through magical doors, QQ Sweeper combines romance, magic, and psychology with a pretty striking art style to produce something short and sweet.

Here’s a quick synopsis to get you started:

After her family abandons her, Fumi finds herself wandering around her school after-hours with no place to go. She manages to stumble upon a strangely calming room in the school’s old building that practically glows with how clean it is. Letting the room’s atmosphere overwhelm her, Fumi falls to sleep only to be woken by Kyutaro, the school’s official cleaner and her future classmate. Kyutaro is treated like an outsider by the rest of the school for his obsession with cleaning and his nasty temper, but Fumi can only see him as a sort of mystery. When a mysterious door appears in the old school building room, Fumi gets dragged into something both magical and frightening. Can her strong will save her this time, or will she get sucked into the darkness filled with squirming insects? Continue reading

Yuri!!! on Ice Anime Review

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Yuri!!! on Ice was one of the biggest hits to come out of 2016, taking many anime fans by surprise as they slowly fell in love with this beautifully animated story about ice skating. Produced by studio Mappa, this anime captured so many people’s attention with both the way it brought an old technique back to life and the various characters that breathed their own sense of vibrancy into the show. I won’t say this show is perfect, but I did find myself wanting to return again and again each week if only for the great music and ice skating sequences.

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to watch it yet or maybe didn’t think it looked interesting, I would suggest stopping here and watching it before continuing. Here’s a quick synopsis to get you started:

Yuri is 23, on the older end for pro-figure skating, and has just lost his chance at winning a major competition. Filled with self-doubt and fear of losing once again, he decides to take a year off and journeys back home to Japan, seeking comfort with his family and friends. But being on the ice is a comfort as well, and Yuri finds himself skating to a routine perfected by one of the most famous ice skaters, Victor Nikiforov. Little does he know that his interpretation of that routine was shared throughout social media and eventually reached the eyes of none other than Victor. He then became so interested in Yuri that he dropped his pro-skating career and flew to Japan to be his coach. With Victor’s support, Yuri reenters the competitive scene, facing off against experienced contenders including one hot-headed Russian dead-set on making Victor his coach. Continue reading

Ghibli Month: From Up on Poppy Hill

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Welcome back to our last installment of Ghibli Month, where we look at one Studio Ghibli Movie every weekend in the month of December. This weekend we’ll be looking at From Up on Poppy Hill, a movie based on a serialized comic of the same name with the screenplay written by Hayao Miyazaki. This is also the second movie directed by Goro Miyazaki, Hayao Miyazaki’s son, and also one of the few Ghibli movies to focus more on slice of life elements without their recognizable touch of fantasy. Set in post-war, 1960s Japan, From Up on Poppy Hill looks at the value of preserving history and centers around a melodramatic love story between two teens whose lives have been heavily affected by both World War II and the Korean War.

If you haven’t had the chance to watch From Up on Poppy Hill, here’s a quick synopsis:

Every morning Umi raises signal flags over the port of Yokohama praying for safe voyages before going inside to take care of her family and other boarders. One day, a poem appears in the school paper that features her flags, sparking a sense of drama and mystery within her and her friends. She happens to meet the author of the poem soon after when he jumps from the roof of a club building into a pool of water in a stunt to protest the building’s destruction. His name is Shun, a member of the journalism club who winds up recruiting Umi to help with their newspaper. Seeing the value in the ramshackle clubhouse full of history, Umi joins Shun in trying to appeal to the school board to save it. Their first step? Clean it from floor to ceiling, a task much harder than it sounds. But in the process, will feelings between the charming Shun and Umi be kindled? Continue reading