As you can probably tell by now, Cardcaptors is one of my top favorite animes of all time. I can honestly say that’s probably one of, if not the, best magical girl anime out there. It was one of my first animes as a child and one of the first mangas I picked up, so I’m sure you can understand how intensely excited I was for the new Clear Card arc. After almost 20 years, Sakura Kinomoto and all her friends and magic cards were going to come back for a new, modern story made for both nostalgic fans and a new generation of young girls. I’ve tried to keep my hype in check because I know how things things go most of the time. You get super hyped over something and then it just kind of lets you down, that’s just how new anime/media releases are. I knew already from the manga that it probably wouldn’t meet my nostalgia expectations, but when the anime started I was surprisingly confused on whether or not I liked where CLAMP was going with the series.
If you don’t know already, the Clear Card arc follows Sakura Kinomoto as she transitions into middle school. It picks up where the last movie left off, with Li returning from Hong Kong to join everyone for a new school year. All of our favorite characters are back with minimal changes. In the beginning, the magic front has been pretty quiet to the point where Sakura is considering putting away her key. But things quickly change when she begins to have weird dreams about a hooded figure trying to steal her magical key. Her Sakura Cards then become unusable, her key changes into something new, and new cards begin appearing around town. Sakura, Tomoyo, and Li must once again collect all the new Clear Cards. Continue reading
Our Love Has Always Been 10 Centimeters Apart snuck up on me last year. I didn’t realize it was airing until after the season was over, and it wasn’t until now that I had the chance to actually watch it. I also didn’t know that this short, 6-episode series is supposed to be a sequel to the Vocaloid anime short film I’ve Always Liked You, something I reviewed a while ago now. But in watching this anime, I almost think you could consider this it’s own stand-alone series with how little it actually feels like the continuation of the previous film. I honestly prefer looking at it separately like this as well, as the story told within the series is well-crafted whole, using it’s short run to its advantage by focusing just on the story and characters without extraneous filler.
Where I’ve Always Liked You focused on the relationship between Yuu and Natsuki, 10 Centimeters Apart focuses on Miou and Haruki’s relationship more in depth. It tells of their last year in high school, as Haruki, Yuu, and Mochita struggle to make a final film for their Movie Club before their forced to retire. It also tells of Akari, Natsuki, and Miou’s Art Club experiences and the development of their passion for art as the year comes to a close. But Miou and Haruki both have something their keeping from one another. Something, that if not dealt with, could mean the end of their dreams for the future. Continue reading
Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid has to be one of the few yuri animes I actually like. It manages to combine great animation and enjoyable characters in such a way that you almost feel like you’re not watching a typical yuri show. The anime was originally part of the Spring 2017 simulcast season on Crunchyroll and ran for 13 episodes. Just recently, they released the 14th episode, a Valentine’s Day special OVA that brings us back to the world of cute dragons and ridiculously lovable characters. Compared to the previous episodes, this special may seem a little empty as it focuses on more mundane aspects of the character’s lives rather than the fantastical. However, I think the episode holds a lot of great, small character moments, and, while the episode doesn’t have the regular crazy dragon moments, it makes up for it in the quieter exploration of relationships.
If you haven’t watched Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid yet I highly suggest you do (and also read my review of the full series here). The basic story centers around an office worker named Kobayashi who opens her front door one day to find a large dragon staring back at her. The dragon transforms into a cute maid girl and introduces herself as Tohru. Apparently, the night before Kobayashi stumbled into the forest while drunk and found Tohru, and subsequently offered her a place to stay. Kobayashi now finds herself with a maid that happens to be a dragon who also happens to be madly in love with her. The recent OVA gives a look at their first Valentine’s day together and a hot spring trip with friends. Continue reading
Everyday on this blog is Valentine’s Day, so for this and every year after, February 14th will be known as Anti-Valentine’s Day here. This will be a time where we take a look at one non-romance anime, manga, or comic whether it be horror, mystery, or even comedy. In the case of the one we’re looking at today, it’s all three. Ghost Stories, specifically the English Dub, has developed a cult following over the years mainly due to the ridiculous amount of freedom given to the voice actors during development. The story itself is generic to the point of being boring, and I can understand why the original bombed in Japan. I think it’s really only through the creativity of ADV Films that this show developed as much of a following as it has now. If you haven’t already, I highly suggest checking this one out as all 20 episodes are widely available online.
The anime is based off of some fairly popular books by Tōru Tsunemitsu. The story goes that a girl, Satsuki, and her little brother, Keiichirou, move to the hometown of their deceased mother. On the first day of school, while chasing their pet cat, they and three other kids (Leo, Hajime, and Momoko) are led into the school’s old building. It’s while searching through the building that they learn that it is in fact haunted. They also discover that Satsuki’s mother was the one who sealed this ghosts away in the first place through the discovery of a book she left behind, and that construction on a nearby mountain released all of the ghosts she sealed away. Now Satsuki and the rest of them have to re-seal these ghosts away one by one. Continue reading
I came across this short film a little while ago and it looked interesting enough to cover while waiting for the seasonal anime to finish up. The movie itself is about 45 minutes in length, good enough for a one-shot story with a fairly simple premise. Best known for her other work Natsume’s Book of Friends, it is thought that the mangaka Yuki Midorikawa took a lot of inspiration for that manga from this story which is fairly easy to see. I’m a huge fan of Natsume and could feel a lot of the same wonderment through her positive representation of the youkai characters throughout. However, I definitely think you can see a fairly big difference in experience and story-telling skill between this film and her later series. As much as I did like Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light, there are a few points of the plot and pacing that I think could have been handled differently.
Hotarubi no Mori e focuses on the relationship between a young girl named Hotaru who meets a strange man wearing a mask while lost in the forest when she is six years old. The man leads her out of the forest but warns her that if she touches him he will disappear. Every summer after that, Hotaru returns to that forest to visit the man named Gin. We follow their growing love as Hotaru gets older but Gin does not, ever limited in their relationship. The anime was adapted from its one-shot shoujo manga and picked up for production by studio Brain’s Base. It opened in Japan in 2011 and has since won the Jury Prize at the Scotland Loves Animation festival and the Animation Film Award at the 66th annual Mainichi Film Awards.
This review does contain some spoilers below, so if the movie sounds interesting, I’d recommend watching it first and then coming back for my analysis. Thanks! Continue reading
Welcome back to another long overdue installment of Short Romance Animations Worth Watching (I probably need a better name for this) where I pull a few animated shorts out of the internet that I think are a good representation of the genre. This series has always been about broadening my view of animation, and below I’ve found four animations that captured my attention from across cultures and styles, all within the romance genre. One of them is from one of the seasons of Japan Animators Expo, and if you haven’t checked out the creations that came out of that, I highly suggest you do. What makes a good short for me though, is the ability to compress a meaningful story into a small window of time using skilled directing and art style. In some instances, the draw of the short for me will be its visuals, but beautiful animation without a solid plot can still be frustrating to watch. So without further ado, look below to find my four animated shorts I think you should watch. Continue reading
Welcome to another installment of First Impressions for the Winter 2018 season. If you’re new here, there are a few simple guidelines this blog follows when it comes to first impressions. One, the shows I review here all have to fall under the romance genre umbrella. If you’d like to know what other shows I’m watching this season, you can follow me on MAL or my Twitter to see updates there. Two, I follow the general three episode rule. That means I’ll try my best to watch three episodes of any show I plan to cover depending on their release schedule. There are two shows on this list that didn’t have a third episode out by the time of this post, so we’ll be going off the current number of episodes. As usual, if I’ve missed something, feel free to leave me a comment below and also feel free to tell me what shows you’re excited the most about this season. Now, without further ado, here are the new romance shows I’ve checked out for the Winter 2018 season. Continue reading
Recovery of an MMO Junkie looked to be a romance anime that would really capture my interest last season, and I was not disappointed. It became not only a fairly entertaining romance but also a nearly equally deep look into online relationships and the reasons behind why people play MMOs. In fact, I’m actually planning a much longer article to look more in depth into this issue, but for the time being, I wanted to get my overall review out to you all first. As someone who frequently played these types of games all through high school, I found myself easily relating to the characters and the feelings they ascribed to their avatars and online friends. For anyone who finds or has found themselves logging into a game every night to meet with friends you have never met in real-life, I think this anime will be right up your alley.
Moriko Morioka is a 30-year-old successful career woman who decides to quit her taxing corporate job and become an elite NEET (not in employment, education, or training) and find a more fulfilling life. She joins an online MMORPG Fruits de Mer and creates a male character named Hayashi as her avatar. In game Hayashi meets another character Lily, a high level player who helps him learn the game. Hayashi and Lily become close friends and Hayashi joins her guild, @HomeParty. Meanwhile, in the real world, Moriko has a chance encounter with a good-looking elite company employee, Yuta Sakurai, who may have ties with her online life. Adapted from the webcomic by Rin Kokuyō, it was picked up for the anime adaptation by Signal MD and licensed for US simulcast by Crunchyroll for their Fall 2017 season. Continue reading
Just Because was one of the romances of last season I was most looking forward to. One of the reasons being that it strived to depict life for high school students during that interim period between college exams and graduation. Mixed with the problems of adolescent romance, it looked as though this could be a series that accomplished something different. I think we have far too many school romances that focus on the whole of high school life or the middle of it. They may depict college exams and graduation, but they don’t start their story there. This turbulent time adds to the drama and adds to the stress the characters are feeling as well as giving a sense of limbo to their relationships. Even with the problems surrounding this series production, I did find myself enjoying the ride through mundane life and romance.
This original series was written by Hajime Kamoshida, the creator behind The Pet Girl of Sakurasou. Production was handled by the small studio Pine Jam and licensed in the US on Amazon’s former Anime Strike. This anime follows the lives of a group of high school students during their last semester and the drama that arises with the appearance of a new transfer student, Eita Izumi. Izumi had lived there during middle school but had to move away because of his father’s job. On his return, old feelings resurface and new relationships are formed. For most students, the end of the school year is expected to be devoid of fanfare, but not for these students. Continue reading
Brothers Conflict was something I watched a long time ago when the sub was still streaming on Funimation. I’ve always meant to review this one, and this interim period while the most recent shows are finishing up gave me a chance to sit back down again and watch it all the way through. This second watch-through, however, has made me realize just how uninteresting this anime is overall. It has it’s good moments, don’t get me wrong, and I think fans of reverse-harems and the otome genre might appreciate it, but I feel like I don’t get that much enjoyment anymore out of series that don’t try and do anything different with their concept.
The series was originally a novel which got turned into a manga, 4-koma comic, and then Playstation otome games before finally becoming an anime in 2013. The story follows the life of highschool student Ema Hinata who finds out that her father will soon be getting married to another woman and she will soon have 13 new brothers. In order to not be a bother to her newlywed parents, Ema decides to live together with her new extended family. As Ema tries to make a place for herself in this new family, her brothers are also having a hard time accepting her as just a sister. Continue reading