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.
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
Jamie Noguchi has to be one of my favorite webcomic artists, up there wit Yuko Ota of Johnny Wander who I’ve talked about multiple times already. Noguchi has been involved in a lot of great projects, in and out of comics: the Super Art Fight Show, the Fucking Do It support network, and a ton of other art stuff. Chief among them for me is his work on the webcomic Yellow Peril, which he markets as an Asian American Office Romance Comedy. All of those words fit the series perfectly, and Noguchi shows his art and storytelling skills in interesting ways that really add to both the appearance and flow of the comic. If you haven’t already checked out my Top 5 Romance Comics list, you should do so, as Yellow Peril appears as the only honorable mention (which is basically number 6). It earned this spot for some very good reasons that I’ll be getting into more below, but to even make it onto that list, a comic has to combine creativity and storytelling to make something truly unique.
Yellow Peril is a webcomic that typically has around 4 to 5 panels, but has been known to feature more depending on the plot line and art style used. The story itself follows three co-workers who all work at the same design company, Penticorp, and are generally dissatisfied with their jobs. When the opportunity presents itself for them to form their own small design company, they quit their jobs and strike out on their own. The webcomic continues to show their struggles with work and romance as well as their love for good food, kung fu, and spontaneous dance-offs. Continue reading
So far Summer 2017 has had some great romances and some pretty trash ones. Below are the shows from this season that I think you should both watch and avoid for various reasons. I’ve included series that you can find on Crunchyroll and Anime Strike if you have those services. If there’s anything I missed that may not be on either of those, let me know! Also let me know in the comments below what you thought about any of these. If you’d like to talk about non-romance anime I’m watching this season, you can head over to my Facebook page and drop a message there. Without further ado, here are the new romance animes of the Summer 2017 season. Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to check out A Silent Voice ever since I heard it was coming to the States this year. It looked like it could be a fantastic movie that could rival Your Name for the top spot in the box office, and it wound up being that both of those things came true. A Silent Voice hit theaters in Japan in September of 2016 to a very positive reception, and hit number two in the box office, right behind Your Name. By the end of 2016, it became the 10th highest grossing Japanese film of the year, with Makoto Shinkai — Director of Your Name — calling it a “fantastic piece of work.” However, what drew me to this movie was the concept, the story of a former bully and the young deaf girl he used to bully coming to forgive each other, both seeking redemption for how they’ve changed each other’s lives. And, after I learned that the director of this movie is none other than Naoko Yamada, Director of K-ON, a lot of aspects of this movie fell into place.
Shoya Ishida walks along a bridge as he contemplates suicide, flashing back to the time he was in elementary school. His teacher had just introduced a new student to the class, Shoko Nishimiya, who they found out soon after is deaf. And so the bullying started, led my Shoya and helped along by the general willingness of the rest of the class to ignore them. But after Shoko’s mother finds that all her hearing aids have gone missing, Shoya and his mother are made to pay nearly 1,700,000 Yen to replace them. From then on, his class turns against him and he’s left by himself to wallow in regret and anxiety all the way into High school. But when Shoya works up the nerve to return Shoko’s lost notebook to her in an effort of redemption, he comes to find out that all she wants is to put the past behind her. Continue reading
There were a lot of anime that were considered for this list and, in the end, didn’t make it on. In the process of choosing my top five romance anime, I looked for series that I’ve found myself going back to and those that have done something unique with their stories. I ultimately decided not to include OVA’s, movies, or feature films if only to make sure this list wasn’t full of Ghibli movies. I have enough reviews covering my opinions of most of his movies already. Below are five series and two honorable mentions that I thought encapsulated all of the different facets of a good romance anime. Whether it be great characters, an interesting setting, the ability to parody shoujo anime to perfection, great animation, or a combination of all of these, a series has to be more than just great romance to make it onto this list. I hope you enjoy this last top 5 list and I encourage you to check out the other three that I’ve posted this week. So starting at number one, here are my top five romance anime. Continue reading
Cardcaptors has been a series that I have returned to again and again, whether it was trying to learn to read Japanese through its original manga or watching and rewatching the 70 episode anime and two movies. Now, after almost 17 years, CLAMP is bringing back one of their most popular and beloved IPs for a new — and old — generation of readers. Cardcaptor Sakura: The Clear Card Arc is both a continuation and a modern retelling of the original story. I say modern retelling in the sense that the content and world are updated to match our current culture and technology while also following the same storytelling formula of the previous series. As someone who is an avid fan of the series, I have both reservations and hope that CLAMP will be able to make good on their past success with both the new manga and the anime coming out in January. Continue reading
Western comics are an area where I admit I don’t have enough experience or knowledge of, something that I have been actively trying to remedy through research and reading as much as I can. However, I also know that I have almost no interest in trying to delve into the world that is Marvel or DC. I’ve tried once before with Deadpool and Wolverine, but didn’t get too far considering the amount of history and crossovers there is to follow. So, in this list, I’ve added comics from independent publishers, graphic novels, and even webcomic artist. Some of these have full reviews themselves, and I encourage you to check those out, and if you think something deserves a chance to make it onto this list, let me know in the comments below. Now, starting with number one, here are my top picks for best romance comics plus one honorable mention. Continue reading
Yaoi anime and manga are not for everyone, but I think it’s important to examine all kinds of love stories when searching for the best romances. However, it can be hard to weed through the smut and less serious works to find the stories that really have something great to tell. Below are my top five picks for best yaoi anime and manga, starting at number one. I will admit that this specific area is one that I need to experience more, so in the next couple years this list will most likely be changing. But so far, the series below are ones that I find myself coming back to or have displayed a unique art or story that has managed to stick in my memory. Before we get into it, I want to preface this review by saying that I will not be making a top five yuri list, more for the fact that I have not found many I like than an overall dislike of the series. This is also something that will change in the future. But enough of that, almost all of the series below have full reviews of their own, so be sure to visit those if you find a series interesting. Continue reading
Tsuki Ga Kirei was one of those shows that I needed to try watching twice before I actually finished it. This anime has quite a few problems, but is held together by the relative strength of the story behind it. I definitely don’t think this will be a series I ever rewatch again. However, I won’t deny the fact that there were a few scenes that did move me through the course of the series. As part of Crunchyroll’s Spring 2017 anime season, I’ve seen some praise from reviewers for this series, while ignoring some of the glaring flaws that almost made me completely dismiss it. A lot of these might have to do with the relative inexperience of Studio Feel who were in charge of its production.
The story of Tsuki Ga Kirei follows the growing relationship between Mizuki and Azumi who are students in the same middle school class. Mizuki has a passion for track, finding joy from running. Meanwhile, Azumi aspires to be a writer, joins the literature club, and participates in the town’s cultural festivities. When the sports festival comes around, Mizuki and Azumi are put on equipment duty together, allowing them a chance to get to know each other better. Through the messaging app LINE, they become closer and eventually start dating to the surprise of many of their friends. Continue reading