I think Kaguya-sama was probably one of the only romance anime that came out of last season to really capture my attention. There were definitely a few too many shonen harem anime during the winter, and that’s not usually a genre I know I’ll enjoy. But I think Kaguya-sama did a phenomenal job capturing the vast majority of anime fans in the US and Japan, making it arguably one of the stand-out hits of the season. I certainly enjoyed myself immensely, and I have a hard time getting both the opening and ending themes out of my head even when we’re now into the Spring season. A-1 Pictures did a great job with the animation, creating an aesthetic that is truly visually interesting and isn’t something I’ve seen for quite some time. And while the focus is certainly more on comedy than romance, there is definitely enough quintessential romantic moments throughout the series to be entertaining on both fronts. So if you’ve been holding off on picking this series up I would highly suggest checking it out especially if you’re looking for a good laugh.
Kaguya-sama follows Student Council President Miyuki Shirogane and Vice-President Kaguya Shinomiya who seem like they would be the perfect couple. Shirogane leads the school with his grades and is generally respected by the school and the community. Kaguya is the daughter of a wealthy conglomerate family, second only to Shirogane in grades. Both of them hold feelings for the other, but neither wants to be the one to confess first, because to confess would be to lose. So begins the war to make the other one confess their love first through trickery, mind games, or whatever’s necessary. Continue reading
This anime has to be one of the most talked about of last season, and for good reason. This is another contender for top show of the Winter season for me as it is just all-around a great series in terms of animation, story, and characters. Bunny Girl Senpai has an interesting mix of romance, magical realism, and drama with a touch of wit to really keep you hooked for the long-haul. It’s the type of show that I can see sparking so many discussions about the nature of human psychology and how we cope with society and stress. I’ve already seen quite a few interesting discussions on its subject matter not to mention its catchy opening. I highly encourage anyone who has been wavering about watching the show especially due to its title, to really give it a chance.
The story follows Sakuta Azusagawa whose life takes a weird turn when he meets the actress Mai Sakurajima in the library dressed in a bunny girl costume with seemingly no one noticing she’s there. Mai is intrigues that he seems to be the only one who can see her, and as Sakuta begins to speak with her more, he discovers that more people are slowly losing their ability to see her as well. Sakuta calls this “adolescence syndrome” or “puberty syndrome” and works to help her solve this mystery as well as those of other girls he meets along the way. Continue reading
It’s rare that I come across a show that really hits me hard, but I seem to be stumbling on those more and more this past year. Maybe it’s true what all the anime bloggers and youtubers are saying, that 2018 was one of the best if not the best year of anime to date. We had some really hard-hitting series this year, from Violet Evergarden to Banana Fish to name a few. I’d like to make the case that Iroduku should fall into this list too, and not just because it got me to cry like a baby. Studio PA Works did an amazing job on the animation, character designs, music, and backgrounds. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this series and I absolutely loved how this story weaved magical realism, time travel, and regular high school romance into something truly engaging.
Iroduku: the World in Colors follows a girl names Hitomi who lives in the year 2078 and comes from a family of witches. From early childhood, Hitomi has not been able to see color and has lost all passion or love for magic. In an effort to help her granddaughter be happy again, Kohaku sends Hitomi 60 years into the past to meet her teenage self. Back in 2018, Hitomi winds up joining the Photography and Arts Club and focuses on learning how to take black and white photos. It’s here that she meets Yuito, the only person she’s met whose drawing appear in color for her. Continue reading
What is it about Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku that keeps drawing me back? So far I’ve probably watched the anime about three times now all the way through. I’ve also picked up all three US volumes (6 Japanese volumes) of the manga and have read through all of those at least twice. I’ve reviewed the anime before on this blog, and I stick by my assessment that it’s a genuinely great series about nerdy people falling in love. It’s an anime I think we really needed with its energy, comedy, and healthy older relationships. So after the anime ended I felt the need to pick up the manga and see what other content there was, and I have to say that the anime is a fairly faithful adaptation with some minor changes to pacing and story. Like a lot of other adaptations, there are advantages to each medium whether it be animation or comics, and I find myself enjoying both the anime and the manga almost equally. However, there are a few notable differences between the two that I’d like to touch on more below. Continue reading
Kakuriyo hits a lot of the key points for me in terms of a series that I know I’m going to be interested in long-term. It has a focus on youkai, and as you probably know by now, I will forever be drawn to series that use concepts of mythology and the supernatural. But it keeps going further, by blending this youkai base with concepts of cooking and romance. In essence, it becomes its own weird isekai/cooking genre, with similarities to say Restaurant to Another World where the main character is forced to cook for youkai and other interesting characters with the romance integrated into the main plotline but not overshadowing it. I have to say at the end of watching the last cour, I do find myself liking the series as a whole and might pursue looking into the manga since the volumes are just starting to publish here in the US. However, I do have certain problems with the series, but those mainly focus on the quality of animation.
The second cour of Kakuriyo picks right up where the first cour ended, and while I only went up to episode 12 in the last review, I would say the second cour starts around episode 14. It’s within these first couple episodes that we see the beginning of the second major story arc with the arrival of the head of the competing Southern inn Orio-ya, Ranmaru. We met some of the employees of this inn before in the last cour, but it is here that it is revealed that Ginji’s status as a Tenjin-ya employee is only temporary, and he called back to Orio-ya to complete a special “ceremony”. In an effort to prevent this from happening and convince him to come back, Aoi threatens Ranmaru and Ougon-douji and is promptly kidnapped and taken with them to Orio-ya where her struggles begin anew. Continue reading
Welcome back to another first impressions post. I didn’t get a chance to do one last season, mainly because there was really only one romance show that season worth talking about, Banana Fish. It seemed like a lot of other bloggers had that one covered so I figured I could skip the first impressions post. Well, this season has certainly made up for the lack last season in both quality and quantity this season. There are six romances I wanted to talk about this time, and a few that I didn’t include in the list below because they sat on the line between romance and something else without specifically being tagged as a romance. In particular: Jingo-san no Yome and As Miss Beelzebub Likes. Both I have found to be pretty entertaining and I encourage you to check them out, but I won’t be talking about them here as neither are fully romance and sit more in the moe or slice-of-life genre. Anyways, see below for some first impressions of six romance shows currently airing this season, and if you want to see what other shows I’m watching this season, feel free to check out my MAL account. Continue reading
Today and yesterday mark the two-day only release of Misaaki Yuasa’s new film The Night is Short, Walk on Girl in US theaters. I almost didn’t get tickets, as the ones at the theater closest to me were selling out rather quickly, even a two weeks before the release. Now, I’m so glad I decided to buy those tickets when I did because this movie is definitely worth watching. Coming from the director of the Tatami Galaxy, Lu Over the Wall, and, most recently, the new Devilman Crybaby series, you can definitely see Yuasa’s free-form and expressive style throughout the film. I’m a sucker for unique and artistically expressive animation, and this film has it in spades. It’s honestly a feast for the eyes and wound up warming my heart in the process.
If you haven’t had a chance to look into the film, it follows the plot of the novel of the same name written by Tomihiko Morimi of a young college-age girl (Otome as she’s referred to, since she doesn’t have a name) who is enjoying a night out on the town in Tokyo, a night that doesn’t seem to end. It’s full of drinking, festivals, and the magic of used book markets. It’s also full of love, longing, and the search for romance as Otome’s senior in college (called just Sempai) searches for a way to get her to notice him and earn her love. Continue reading
After months of waiting and teaser trailers that showed off its awesome animation and world, I finally got the chance to see Maquia in theaters. There seems to be more modern sci-fi or slice-of-life movies coming out than say high fantasy or stories that focus on fantastical worlds. Your Name and A Silent Voice being the bigger block-busters of the last two years, both focusing on the lives of highschoolers with the former having a sci-fi twist. We had Mary and the Witch’s Flower, which was pretty good, but it still doesn’t really capture the high fantasy feel that Maquia does with its towering castles, dragon riders, and almost elf-like race of humans.
We also have Mari Okada at the helm, one of the bright stars of the anime industry in her first directorial debut. The Canipa Effect has a great video on what makes Okada so great, from her her ability to pull apart scripts and figure out their flaws, to her work on Anohana that’s impact is still being felt in Japan seven years after the series debuted. She pushed and continued to push her role as a screenwriter as far as it could go, eventually getting the chance to write and direct her own project. As The Pedantic Romantic mentions in his video on Black Rock Shooter and Okada’s involvement in the production, she is sometimes seen as a sort of queen of melodrama by members of the anime fandom. But if we look deeper into her stories and characters, we see that Okada has a keen eye for human relationships and how people develop friendships and the nature of devotion. Continue reading
Tada-kun Never Falls in Love was one of the stand-out animes of the Spring 2018 season. I mentioned in my First Impressions post that it was series I could see becoming one of the romances I would keep watching all season. It had some tough competitors last season, and while it didn’t necessarily come out on top, I did enjoy the time I spent watching. It is a series that managed to take a look at what it means for children to mature faster than perhaps they should, how regret can fester over the years, and how the people you meet only for a short time can have a huge impact on your life. It’s an anime that spoke to me in many ways, both through some stunning scenes and through the messages it tried to impart along the way. Tada-kun is definitely not a perfect anime, and I have problems with the way the show ended, but over the course of last season I found myself enjoying the time I spent with this series.
Tada-kun Never Falls in Love is a 13-episode romance anime that follows the life of Mitsuyoshi Tada, an aspiring photographer and member of his high school’s Photography Club. After a chance meeting with a captivating blond-haired girl while out taking photos, Tada finds his life getting turned upside down as he begins to run into her again and again including at school. This girl is Teresa Wagner, a foreign exchange student from the fictional European country of Larsenburg. She’s followed closely by her travel companion Alexandra Magritte. Both girls wind up joining the Photography Club, and the story continues to follow their new and building relationships with Tada and the other members of the club. This original anime was picked up by Studio Doga Kobo and licensed by Sentai Filmworks for US release.
[My reviews tend to have spoilers, so proceed with caution] Continue reading
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