Horimiya Manga Review

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Horimiya takes the concept of public versus private personas that we’ve seen in other manga’s such as Kare Kano and makes a truly entertaining and sweet story out of it. This manga, which at the time of writing reached 75 chapters, is a great read that thoroughly entertained me, possibly making it into my top 10 list. Focusing more on the comedic aspects that each character brings to the story, the overall manga is light on the drama. However, this also makes the serious moments all the more apparent when they do appear, and there are some good ones. The characters struggle with their own sense of self-worth, overcoming bullies and social exclusion to become people you truly want to root for.

If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, here’s a quick synopsis:

With workaholic parents and a little brother that still needs to be taken care of, Hori doesn’t have much time to socialize with her friends. But she also doesn’t want them to know that and the fact that she acts more like a housewife than a teenager at home. Miyamura is a stereotypically nerdy-looking guy with his long hair, glasses, and quiet demeanor. Pretty much everyone in class ignores him and he doesn’t seem to have many friends at all. Outside of school however, he pulls back his hair showing all of his piercings though still hiding his tattoos. When the two of them meet without their public personas, they form an unlikely friendship around keeping each other’s secret. Continue reading

Natsuyuki Rendezvous Anime Review

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Natsuyuki Rendezvous was simulcast aired and was simulcast by Crunchyroll in 2012, and it’s a shame I didn’t get around to watching it until now. This anime is not your typical romance, geared towards an older audience and dealing mostly with how people process grief over the loss of a loved one. Strong animation and vibrant colors help bring out the show’s emphasis on nature, flowers, and the individual characters that are the life of this anime. Packed with drama, grief, and the discovery of new love, Natsuyuki Rendezvous gives us a show that can be deeply introspective while crafting a tale of the process of moving on after death from both sides of the veil.

If you haven’t had the chance to check it out yet, here’s a quick synopsis:

After falling in love with the owner of a flower shop near his apartment, Hazuki decides to take up a part-time job there. But as he grows closer to Rokka, his manager, details about her past begin to be uncovered particularly when the ghost of her dead husband appears. It just so happens that Rokka’s ex-husband died at a young age due to cancer but still cannot let go of their relationship. As Hazuki tries to do his best to persuade Rokka to go on a date with him, her husbands lingering ghost does his best to get in their way. Continue reading

Tsurezure Children 4-Koma Manga Review

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This will be a short one today mostly because the comic I’m going to talk about is a short-format gag strip that was compiled into a few volumes of its own. Tsurezure Children started as a web 4-koma comic created by Toshiya Wakabayashi. Four-koma comics typically focus on gags and are typically arranged in four panels reading top to bottom or two columns of panels side-by-side. This comic was eventually picked up by Kodansha’s Bessatsu Shonen Magazine and then transferred to Weekly Shonen Magazine. It came to my attention a short while ago when an announcement was made that it was going to get an anime adaptation in the Summer season of this year. It seemed interesting enough, a simple comic that focuses on young high school kids having trouble confessing or talking about their feelings, and it very quickly made me glad I picked it up. Continue reading

I’ve Always Liked You Anime Film Review

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I’ve Always Liked You is an hour-long film that appeared on the Crunchyroll simulcast list last season. I was meaning to watch it then, started watching a bit of it, but wound up only finishing it this week. The film is based on a Vocaloid song produced by Honey Works but manages to combine their music and the films plot in such a way that it wasn’t that obvious until the end. With some of their other music interspersed throughout, this anime presents a story about three different couples, each learning about love in their own way whether it be questions about what it means to date, fears about losing a good friend, or what it means to actually be in love. The whole move comes off as a sweet but pretty standard shoujo romance.

Here’s a brief synopsis to get you started:

The movie begins with Natsuki confessing her love for her childhood friend Yuu, but then chickening out and claiming that it was merely practice for her real confession. Yuu eventually agrees to help her practice her confessions, all the while wondering if he can really support her in the end. The next couple is Mio and Haruki, who are close friends bordering on boyfriend and girlfriend. Mio is also having trouble confessing her feelings, wondering what would change if they became boyfriend and girlfriend. While Haruki seems nonchalant about the whole thing, he too is wondering if they should take the next step in their relationship. The last relationship is between Akari and Mochizuki. Mochizuki has always admired Akari from afar, but never had the courage to confess let alone talk to her. Akari is someone who has never fallen in love, but when Mochizuki finally gets up the courage to talk to her, will that change? Continue reading

Love Not Found Webcomic Review

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I wanted to step away from the print arena for a little while to talk about a webcomic I recently came across called Love Not Found, created by writer and artist Gina Biggs. I’m always looking for new stories and comics to explore, and webcomics provide a way for new and experienced creators to tell the stories they want to tell. Love Not Found is a comic that may show a slightly amateurish art style, but it makes up for it for the story it weaves full of futuristic technology and the re-discovery of love. I was hesitant to read it at first, as I can be picky about art styles, but the unique world she brings to life kept me coming back for more.

To give an idea what this comic is about, here’s a quick synopsis:

In the years following the decline of Earth, much of its past inhabitants looked to the stars for their new homes, venturing to new planets and ecosystems to reap out a new living. But as they journeyed the galaxy and technology increased, the need for human contact diminished. Much of the human population gets their pleasure through personalized machines and sees human touch of any kind as revolting. It is in this time that Abeille decides to move from her planet of perpetual winter to one filled with lush, yet alien, greenery. She brings with her one desire, to build a garden in memory of her deceased sister. But that dream quickly becomes eclipsed by another: to feel what it’s like to be touched by another human being. Continue reading

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu Anime Season 1 Review

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This anime wasn’t even on my radar until I saw it recommended as the best anime of 2016 by Mother’s Basement on Youtube. The concept of the show deals with a part of Japan’s theatrical history that was present before WWII, and then follows it through the post-war era as it battles with the westernization and subsequent censorship. While I’m not entirely sure if I would agree with Mother’s Basement that this show deserves to be heralded as the best anime of 2016, but it comes pretty close. Produced by Studio Deen, the team really showed their skill in the amount and range of expressiveness in the characters, which includes the amazing work the voice actors did in bringing their characters to life.

For anyone who was like me and let this slip under their radar, here’s a quick synopsis:

After being released from prison, Yotaro knows exactly what he wants to do: become a rakugo performer. However, rakugo is an art that is often passed from master to apprentice, with chosen apprentices taking on their master’s name once he retires. In order to be the best, Yotaro decides to learn from the best, but the great Yakumo has never taken an apprentice in his whole career. Something about Yotaro intrigues Yakumo, though, and he finds himself joining Yakumo’s dysfunctional family that includes a red-headed, fiery adopted daughter. After finding out that her real father used to be an apprentice under Yakumo’s predecessor at the same time as him, Yotaro convinces his new master to tell them the story of the now deceased Sukeroku which takes them all back to the 1930s. Continue reading

Lucky Penny Graphic Novel Review

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Lucky Penny is co-created by one of my favorite artist and writer teams, Yuko Ota and Ananth Hirsh, who also create the webcomic Johnny Wander plus many other independent comics and collaborations.This graphic novel was published through the support of backers on Kickstarter, but the experience and unique style of Ota and Hirsch help make it a great and entertaining read especially for fans of other comics like Scott Pilgrim by Brian Lee O’Malley. I saw a lot of his influence in both Ota’s style and the story overall, a story that follows the lives of two very flawed but passionate people trying to come together and grow into adulthood while facing some seemingly unlucky events.

If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at Lucky Penny, here’s a quick synopsis:

Penny Brighton is a woman down on her luck. She lost her job, lost her apartment, and is now living in a storage shed and working for a 12-year-old boss at a laundromat. Armed with her stash of raunchy romance novels and a cat named Boyfriend, she tries to make the best of her situation. But when she agrees to go on a date with the slightly dorky and quiet Walter in exchange for free showers at the gym, will her luck begin to turn? What about the rumors of middle schoolers causing trouble, does that have anything to do with the sounds she’s hearing outside her shed door? Continue reading

Winter 2017 Anime First Impressions

Welcome back for another installment of Anime First Impressions! The new Winter 2017 has some interesting shows coming out this time as well as some not-so-interesting ones. All of the shows I’m going mention here adhere to my blog’s genre theme of romance and all come from Crunchyroll’s simulcast list. But, I’ll also list briefly the shows I’ve been watching that don’t fit into these parameters at the end of this post. You can also keep track of what I’ve been watching or reading on my Kitsu page, which is like a Goodreads for anime and manga.

But enough of that. Here’s some of the Winter 2017 anime’s I’ve been watching:

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Fuuka (2 episodes in)

This show revolves around a boy, obsessed with Twitter, who moves to a new school. While walking around Tokyo, he meets a blue-haired girl who mistakes his raised phone for him taking a picture of her and promptly slaps it out of his hands. The girl, Fuuka, is a lover of music and a general tom-boy. After forming an unlikely friendship with him, she drags him and another person into forming a light-music club at their school in order to start making music of her own.

This show starts out as a pretty typical shonen romance, with gratuitous up-skirt panty shots and tsundere antics that are sure to appeal to a lot of male views. However, I wouldn’t write this show off just yet as it still has a few things that I found appealing and entertaining. For one, the show is supposed to focus on the formation of a band and the music they create together, so as long as it doesn’t turn out to be like K-ON, I think it could be interesting. The art style and animation throughout the episodes so far has been really strong as well, with a lot of vibrant colors and details.

There are a couple things that could be annoying such as the love triangle between him, Fuuka, and his childhood-friend-turned-singer. If the show continues as the first episode did, we could also be seeing more fanservice in the future.

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Masamune-kun’s Revenge (2 episodes in)

This shonen romance revolves around the premise that a previously overweight boy returns to his old school a changed and more handsome person and intends to exact revenge on the girl who rejected him. So far the show’s love interest is tsundere-esque girl who hates men of every kind, preferring to give them insulting nicknames and ostracize them instead. Not to mention that the main character isn’t that great either, believing that the only thing you need to be successful is to be handsome. Also, his mom looks like a 5 year old with the amount of moe they tried to inject into the show.

I may give this one a few more episodes to see how it goes, and it may be entertaining for the pure comedic value. Episode two starts to venture into a little more weirdness with the start of the weird lackey character getting herself involved in their feud. Who knows, but give it a try if the premise sounds interesting to you and let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Seiren (1 episode in)

The third shonen romance this season that puts a spin on it by also being a harem anime. It markets itself as the story of the main character’s “pure” relationship between three different heroines and the memories he makes with them. Honestly, I question the validity of this being described as pure as the first episode has a girl getting up off a desk and leaving behind a fading imprint of her butt, but that’s just me. It does include the standard high school drama of studying for entrance exams and finding out what you want to do in the future, so that might balance it out a bit. But I think this one might be right on the edge of dropping for me.

I’ll give it a couple more episodes to see what happens, but I’m predicting dropping this one. That is unless it does something interesting or terrible that warrants its own review on this blog.

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Super Lovers Season 2 (1 episode in)

Here we go again, another season of Super Lovers. If you’ve read my review of the first season, you may know my opinions of this show lean towards the negative. If you haven’t read that review, I’d give it a look before reading this.

The first episode picks up right where the last season leaves off after Haruko makes her appearance with the threat that she’s going to take Ren back to Switzerland. This episode feels packed with plot, but ultimately the danger posed by Haruko dissipates pretty quickly as there seems to be little actual threat that Ren will actually move to Switzerland. What we do get is though is more of a look at Haruko who is honestly a little more of an interesting character than Haru at this point. We also get a brief and glossed over plot point of Ren almost having to give up Tanuki and the reiterated, kind of creepy reference that Ren and Haru still kind of see each other as brothers even as they start making out.

I probably won’t drop this one though as it will most definitely get its own review at the end of the season. My opinion most likely won’t change, but we’ll see how it plays out.

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Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju Season 2

I don’t have much to say about this season yet as I’m still working on an upcoming review of the first. However, if this season is anything like the first, I’m predicting I’ll love it. If you don’t know, this show is a historical drama set in post-war Japan centered around the storytelling art called Rakugo. Performers of this art must sit at all times and only have their upper body, expressions, and voice to rely on to convey their story. But Japan’s culture is going through some major changes at this time, and performers are forced to watch as their art slowly dies out. All of this happens in the background as the story focuses on two sets of performers, jumping between the past and the present.

My understanding is that this season will focus more on the present and the lives of the two younger apprentices while also posing the question: should Rakugo change with the times or be preserved? Keep a look out for my review of season one coming very soon.

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Ancient Magus’ Bride OVA

This is another that I can’t quite speak to yet as the episode slated for this season has yet to be released, but if the first episode from last season was anything to go off of, I’m very excited. You can read my review for the manga this prequel OVA is based off of here.

That does it for this first impressions review. Be sure to tune in later for more anime, manga, and comic reviews. New updates post twice a week, usually every Saturday and Wednesday. Here are some other shows I’m watching this season: March comes in like a lion S2, All Out!! S2, and Spiritpact. Be sure to follow be on Kitsu to see what I drop or keep watching.

QQ Sweeper Manga Review

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QQ Sweeper is a manga that I wasn’t quite sure I would like going in, but it did win me over after a little while. Written and illustrated by Kyousuke Motomi, this three volume manga isn’t perfect but manages to have a lot to say about mental illness while keeping to its fantasy aesthetic. Set in a world where people called Sweepers are able to access people’s minds through magical doors, QQ Sweeper combines romance, magic, and psychology with a pretty striking art style to produce something short and sweet.

Here’s a quick synopsis to get you started:

After her family abandons her, Fumi finds herself wandering around her school after-hours with no place to go. She manages to stumble upon a strangely calming room in the school’s old building that practically glows with how clean it is. Letting the room’s atmosphere overwhelm her, Fumi falls to sleep only to be woken by Kyutaro, the school’s official cleaner and her future classmate. Kyutaro is treated like an outsider by the rest of the school for his obsession with cleaning and his nasty temper, but Fumi can only see him as a sort of mystery. When a mysterious door appears in the old school building room, Fumi gets dragged into something both magical and frightening. Can her strong will save her this time, or will she get sucked into the darkness filled with squirming insects? Continue reading

Yuri!!! on Ice Anime Review

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Yuri!!! on Ice was one of the biggest hits to come out of 2016, taking many anime fans by surprise as they slowly fell in love with this beautifully animated story about ice skating. Produced by studio Mappa, this anime captured so many people’s attention with both the way it brought an old technique back to life and the various characters that breathed their own sense of vibrancy into the show. I won’t say this show is perfect, but I did find myself wanting to return again and again each week if only for the great music and ice skating sequences.

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to watch it yet or maybe didn’t think it looked interesting, I would suggest stopping here and watching it before continuing. Here’s a quick synopsis to get you started:

Yuri is 23, on the older end for pro-figure skating, and has just lost his chance at winning a major competition. Filled with self-doubt and fear of losing once again, he decides to take a year off and journeys back home to Japan, seeking comfort with his family and friends. But being on the ice is a comfort as well, and Yuri finds himself skating to a routine perfected by one of the most famous ice skaters, Victor Nikiforov. Little does he know that his interpretation of that routine was shared throughout social media and eventually reached the eyes of none other than Victor. He then became so interested in Yuri that he dropped his pro-skating career and flew to Japan to be his coach. With Victor’s support, Yuri reenters the competitive scene, facing off against experienced contenders including one hot-headed Russian dead-set on making Victor his coach. Continue reading