Flavors of Youth Anime Film Review

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I have a new goal this year to watch a lot more animated movies, whether in theaters or online streaming. I think we’re definitely seeing a lot of great stories and animation coming out through full length movies. The only problem being that it can be very difficult to find a theater near you to watch them in and then it takes forever for them to come out on a streaming service like Netflix to watch. But I think with the efforts of more companies, we’re getting more screenings around the US for various animated movies. I’m not sure if Flavors of Youth ever made it to US theaters, but it did make it onto Netflix, and instantly became an addition onto my long list of things to watch. And while I don’t think it’s the best animated film I’ve ever seen, it definitely has its strengths and interesting moments to discuss.

Flavors of Youth is a three-part film that tells the stories of three separate groups of characters, all with their own histories and troubles. The stories all take place somewhere in China, from Beijing to some more rural areas. The first story follows a young man who looks back on his life and childhood in his hometown when he was able to get noodles with his grandmother or on his way to school. He narrates his memories from his younger years to the present, reminiscing about food, family, and the ever changing nature of his neighborhood. The second story follows the lives of two sisters, one a model and the other a fashion designer as the grow and adapt to their lives and careers. As one sister sees her career as a model being overshadowed by younger women, she begins to relearn the value the family. The last is a story of three friends and how their paths separate and converge as life moves forward. Continue reading

Flying Witch Anime Review

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I can’t conclude this month’s reviews of witch and magic related anime and manga without a look at Flying Witch, one of the best magic related slice-of-life’s to come out so far (in my humble opinion). The series is a calming look at the life of witches and magic users in rural Japan, an alternate society where witches exist in a semi-secret state within society. Due to the laid-back tone of the series as a whole, I would even go so far as to categorize this as an iyashikei series, or healing anime. The narratives of each episode give the viewer an intimate look at a witch’s everyday life without going into too much drama, going so far as to have very little plot at all. That is what I would call an iyashikei: warm life stories with light plots that allow the viewer to relax into a comfy state. Flying Witch has the comfy feelings down pat, the magic elements adding just the right touch of interest and difference to draw in fans looking for something unique instead of the typical slice-of-lifes out there.

The series follows the life of young teenage witch Makoto who leaves home for the first time to complete her witch studies in rural japan, living with her cousin’s family. The episodes are filled with stories of Makoto’s life living with her cousins, studying magic, going to school, and experiencing the hidden magical world around her. Each episode contains one or two contained stories with a specific story, interaction, or learning experience for Makoto or her cousins, most containing something to do with magic, but not always. The series is based off of a manga, and was picked up for the adaptation by J.C. Staff and released in 2016. Continue reading

Irregular at Magic High School Anime Season One Review

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Magic school narratives have been and. I suspect, will always be very popular. With the overflowing fandom surrounding books like Harry Potter and other similar fantasy novels, the amount of stories of this type have proliferated far and wide into varying mediums. Anime and manga, in particular, took a strong interest in this narrative type. Manga like Witch Hat Atelier, Ancient Magus Bride’s most recent arc. Anime like Little Witch Academia, Gakuen Alice, and now Irregular at Magic Highschool (honestly the list goes on). It’s certainly not a new anime, having originally aired in 2014, but with the recent announcement that it would be getting a second season soon, I figured I had the perfect time to talk about it considering the time of year. The series started as a novel and then became a light novel series before being picked up by Madhouse for the anime adaptation. I became a fan shortly after, attracted by the unique view of magic presented in the series and the well-crafted fight scenes. I’m not saying this is a perfect series, but it definitely has its strengths, especially for fans of magic school narratives.

The anime follows two siblings, Shiba Miyuki and Shiba Tatsuya, who are accepted to one of the top magic schools in the country. Miyuki manages to pass all of the entrance exams with flying colors and is accepted into the full Course 1 program, while her brother Tasuya has a slower magic processing speed and winds up being accepted into the lower Course 2 class. The narrative follows these two siblings as they navigate the culture of their new school with its favoritism towards Course 1 students, while trying not to be dragged into the country’s various political struggles in the process. Continue reading

Kaguya-sama: Love is War Anime Review

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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

Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai Anime Review

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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

Iroduku: the World in Colors Anime Review

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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

Manga or Anime? – Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku

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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: Bed and Breakfast for Spirits Anime 2nd Cour Review

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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

Fall 2018 Anime First Impressions

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

Some Short Thoughts on The Night is Short, Walk on Girl Film

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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