Kakuriyo: Bed & Breakfast for Spirits Anime 1st Cour Review

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I’m a sucker for youkai shows, so when this one started streaming on Crunchyroll last season, you bet I followed along with every episode. It matched well with both the other romance animes airing that season as well as the food-based shows. I was a little worried that it would wind up following a lot of tired tropes with the arranged marriage plot-line, but while Kakuriyo doesn’t quite present something different, it wound up being interesting enough in it’s characters and setting that I continued watching all the way to the end of the first cour. It’s at the end of the first cour, or 12 episodes, that we’ll stop for this review. I’ll pick back up the show this season and do a second cour review at the end of the Summer. So for those of you who are fans of youkai and cooking shows, I’d suggest checking this one out while it’s still airing, though I do still have a few problems with the series to talk about. If you’d like to hear more, keep reading.

Kakuriyo follows the life of Aoi Tsubaki who was born able to see youkai/spirits or ayakashi as they are called in this series. After her only relative, her grandfather, passes away she is left alone to deal with the ayakashi by herself. But one fateful encounter with an Ogre Ayakashi finds her transported to the spirit world. It’s there she learns that her grandfather wracked up a huge amount of debt in the spirit world while he was alive, and put Aoi’s hand in marriage up as collateral to the Head of Tenjin-Ya, a hotel for spirits. However, Aoi has other plans, and to escape her arranged marriage and pay off her grandfather’s debt, she decides to open a small eatery and cook for the spirits of the other world. Continue reading

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Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku Anime – The Nerdy Romance We Needed

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I feel like over the course of this blog I’ve read, watched, and reviewed more highschool romances than I can count now, with even more sitting on the back-burner waiting for their moment. It’s been a never-ending cycle of young girls worrying over indirect kisses, love triangles that always end how you expect them to, and relationships that amount to a singular kiss and some hand-holding. Don’t get me wrong, I still find enjoyment in a lot of these series, especially when they have engaging characters or some sort of psychological drama. But I’ve found myself gravitating more towards Josei series over the years. Maybe It’s just because I’m getting older, or that my own relationship has progressed to the point where I don’t see inexperienced adolescent romance as appealing or relatable anymore. Because of this, I think Wotakoi came at an opportune time and quickly rose to number two on my list of favorite (non-recurring) anime this season overall.

Wotakoi is the story of closeted fujoshi Narumi who gets a new job after a bad break-up and the reveal of her secret. It just so happens that one of her new coworkers is childhood friend, Hirotaka, a handsome gaming otaku. After a night of drinking and lamenting the scarcity of good men in her life, Narumi and Hirotaka begin dating. The two seem a perfect match, but as the title says, love is hard for otaku. With the help of otaku couple and coworkers Koyanagi and Kabakura, they begin to work at their new relationship. Based off the webmanga series by Fujita, the story was picked up for adaptation by A-1 Pictures for the 11-episode series and is currently being streamed in the US through Amazon Prime. Continue reading

Hyouka Anime Review

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I’m not sure what I expected going into Hyouka. I knew it was a mystery series and I had seen the occasional clip here and there, but it definitely wasn’t the kind of mystery I was used to. I grew up on old black and white murder mysteries from the 40s and 50s. One of The Thin Man movies was sure to pop up on our TV at some point every week. It was and still is, in some ways, a staple in my household to sit down every once and a while and watch those old shows. It’s something I’ve grown to love over time, a love passed from my dad to me. But going into Hyouka with this background made a bit confused as to how exactly this series was considered a mystery. It isn’t like any mystery show I had experienced, after all there’s no murder, no real crime to solve. I think that’s the appeal though. Hyouka isn’t just a mystery. It’s a slice of life show, a school life show, and a romance. It follows students being students, solving the kind of mysteries that matter to them in the moment. I have to say, it’s a really interesting show, and one that may make it onto my list of ones I come back to again and again.

The plot of Hyouka follows high school student Hotaro Oreki, someone who hates expending energy on anything, who is forced by his older sister into joining the Classic Lit Club to keep it from going defunct. He is joined by Chitanda Eru, Satoshi Fukube, and Mayaka Ibara. Together they try and solve various mysteries around school, mostly at Eru’s request. The series is based off of a 2001 mystery novel written by Honobu Yonezawa, book one out of six, the other five books being published between 2002 and 2016. A manga adaptation was created in 2012 by Taskohna, with the 22-episode anime by Kyoto Animation following soon after. Continue reading

How Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Managed to Disappoint One of its Biggest Fans

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The title of this blog post makes it sound like I’m feeling a bit betrayed right now, and in a way that is true. Cardcaptor Sakura is one of my all-time favorite series. It’s one that’s been a favorite of mine since early childhood and, because of this series, I was introduced to many more brilliant CLAMP series like xxxHolic and Kobato. It was one of the first magical girl series to really break the mold of what it meant to be a magical girl, doing away with transformation sequences, actually adding characterization to the male leads/love interest, and promoting positive views of single parenthood and same-sex relationships. To say that I was looking forward to this series when it was announced would be an understatement. I knew there was a chance it would turn out to be a sub-par remake, but I honestly had faith that CLAMP wouldn’t let one of their most popular series fail like that.

Back at the end of last season, the middle of the series, I wrote a blog post talking about Clear Card as it stood then and my hopes for where the story may go from there. There were a ton of questions circling around at that time about where the story would go, what kind of reveals we would see later on, and predictions on where the story around Akiho might go. Now, I can definitively say after watching the last episode that I honestly have more questions now than I did then. This review is probably going to end up being pretty spoilery, so if you haven’t caught up on the new series, I suggest you go watch it before reading further. Continue reading

Manga or Anime? – Snow White with the Red Hair

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Snow White with the Red Hair has been one of my favorite romance anime for a while now. I love the characters, the slight fantasy setting, and how some episodes focused on Shirayuki using her herbology knowledge to solve problems. I’ve discussed both seasons of the anime at length before, so if you’re looking for a review of the anime, be sure to check those two posts out. There was one thing I’ve never gotten around to doing though, and that was read the manga. I recently watched back through the whole series on a day or so that I wasn’t feeling well, and finally felt the need to see where the story went after the anime ended. In doing so, I also discovered just how much Studio Bones altered and added to get it to the current anime we have now. The story is still pretty much the same, but I can’t deny that there are a few moments in the manga that I find to be much better in the anime. If I had to make a decision right now, I would say that while the manga has the advantage of story, the anime has the advantage of polish. For the purpose of this review, I’ve only had the chance to read up to chapter 34 in the manga, a little bit past where the anime ends. Continue reading

Citrus and Why I’m so Critical of Yuri

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For some reason it’s been super hard for me to write this review. I’ve probably started and stopped writing this about three times so far. I went back and rewatched the whole series after stopping at episode four last season just to remind my brain what I actually thought of it as a whole. Maybe this review wouldn’t have been so hard to write if the series was bad or good for that matter, but I think it’s hard to write about just because it’s so average. And I think that’s why I have such a problem with yuri anime in general. There have been a few stand-out series for sure. I absolutely loved Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, but Citrus leaves me frustrated and wanting (and not in a good way). I see so many tropes and pitfalls reflected in this series that I’ve seen pop up again and again, problems that have ultimately prevented me from liking yuri manga and anime in general for a long time (and some yaoi as well).

Citrus is a high school romance with a bit of sisterly taboo love thrown into the mix. Yuzu is your fairly typical fashionable teen, a self-proclaimed Gyaru defined by their bleach blonde hair, focus on flashy fashion, and love of large accessories. After her mother decides to remarry, Yuzu is forced to transfer to a new school, one that happens to be all-girl and strict on conformity. Her Gyaru style stands out ridiculously from all the other dress-code-adhering students. To make matters worse, she finds out that the student council president, a girl who lectured her and stole her phone on her first day, is her new half-sister. And they’re going to be living together from now on. But after her step-sister pins her to the bed and kisses her, Yuzu begins to think that her feelings for her sister may be more than familial love.

***Spoilers Ahead***

Continue reading

Violet Evergarden Anime Review

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Violet Evergarden was one of the animes of last season that got huge amounts of hype when it was announced. From the trailers, the animation looked highly detailed and even movie-quality. It definitely seemed like KyoAni had their work cut out for them to make this series live up to the hype now swirling around this series. I was definitely excited too when I first saw the trailers. The story looked to be an interesting concept and the main character was intriguing with her metal arms. The show had one big hiccup when it came out though: the fact that Netflix decided not to release it episodically in the US, waiting until the series was complete to release the whole thing on April 5th. It was definitely weird that they decided to do this only in the US, and it made watching the series as it came out challenging. I finally managed to catch up and finish it this week, and I have to say that while the series definitely has some faults, I generally enjoyed myself and was looking forward to watching each episode.

The plot of Violet Evergarden follows ex-soldier Violet as she tries to re-enter society after a bloody war that fractured the continent of Telesis. She had entered into the war as a young girl, trained for the sole purpose of being a weapon that could decimate enemy lines. Taken under the wing of the Major Gilbert Bougainvillea, she is led into a bloody skirmish towards the end of the war that leaves her hospitalized and reeling from the memory of the Major’s parting words to her. She begins work at “CH Postal Services” where she witnesses the work of an “Auto Memory Doll”, ghostwriters who are tasked with transcribing people’s feelings into words on paper. Intrigued by the notion, Violet starts her training as an “Auto Memory Doll” hoping it will get her one step closer to understanding the meaning behind Gilbert’s last words to her. Continue reading

After the Rain (Koi wa Ameagari no You ni) Anime Review

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The Winter 2018 season brought us a new romance anime on Amazon Prime, one that has both excited people and garnered some controversy. I found myself quite excited to see what the show had to offer as the art seemed pretty solid and the story could present some interesting takes on the nature of stagnation and people’s dreams for the future. However, one of the major roadblocks and criticisms of the story has been the relationship between Akira and Kondo, their age gap, and the nature of their relationship. It’s been interesting to see how the show both works around this and fails in some ways to mitigate those criticisms. For me, the show had its ups and downs. I did enjoy the art of the series at points, and I did enjoy the story surrounding their relationship, but I can recognize that After the Rain has its faults.

After the Rain follows the story of ex-track club star who, after sustaining an injury that leaves her unable to run anymore, takes up a part-time job at a family restaurant. It’s there that she meets Kondo, the bumbling 40-year-old divorced manager of the store, a man she finds herself falling for. It’s a story about stagnation in the pursuit of dreams and the choices we make when facing a crossroads. One girl dreamed of being a track star and feeling the wind in her face. One man dreamed of following his passion and writing the next great novel. Will either of them be able to keep the promises they made to themselves? Continue reading

Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san (Skilled Teaser Takagi-san) Anime Review

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When this anime first started airing back at the start of the season, I was a bit concerned that it might become too repetitive and I would lose interest after a while. That did wind up happening to an extent–I took a break from watching it around episode 6–but I think my problem was that I really needed to be in the right mood to watch this show. As I was watching the last couple episodes, I found myself laughing along to Takagi and Nishikata’s antics. Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san wound up being a fairly cute and funny comedy. It’s pairing of simple story and interesting characters makes both the comedy and the slight romance elements stand out all the more. And what an appropriate anime to review on the eve of April Fool’s day.

Karakai Jozu no Takagi-san follows the antics of school desk neighbors Takagi and Nishikata. Takagi enjoys teasing Nishikata every chance she gets, and Nishikata is always looking for a chance to one-up her and get his revenge. The episodes follow the various pranks and teasing between these two as they sit together in class and walk home together. Adapted from the ongoing manga of the same name, it was picked up by Shin-Ei Animation for the anime and was licensed by Crunchyroll and Funimation for the US release this past season. Continue reading

Manga or Anime? – Ancient Magus Bride

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The Ancient Magus’ Bride manga has probably earned a permanent place on my top 5 list of best romance manga. I’ve explored why I love this story so much in the past and have been delving into the lore and myths behind certain ideas and characters. With the last episode of the anime adaptation behind us, I think it’s safe to say I enjoyed the anime as well. I won’t say it’s perfect, and there are a few moments that I feel could have been handled better, but as an anime adaptation I have to say it was fairly faithful to the manga overall. So, in this post, I hope to explore the similarities and differences between the manga and anime. I won’t promise an answer for the question of which one is better, as I don’t think I have an answer for that. But I think it’s interesting to explore how each medium treats and/or improves a story by the nature of their differences in presentation. Continue reading