Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 1: Taking into the right direction.

Some Spoilers from Season 1 and Season 2 ahead! 

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The unique premise of humanity’s struggles for survival was what sparked Attack on Titan’s popularity back in 2013, but it never felt like the premise was expanded further enough, resulting in an exciting, but superficial series. Despite said criticism, I understand that the shallowness of its storytelling is the result of Isayama’s setup for the entire series, which in my opinion, IS Attack on Titan’s biggest flaw.

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The prominent theme of the show is the mystery and mental strain of “battling against the unknown”. With that in mind, it is bold to assume that we the viewers are similar to humanity with how we don’t know anything about the titans. It is the core reason why I find moments like Eren’s transformation in the 1st season to be jarring . Of course the reason being because there was no logical explanation of why Eren would suddenly turn into a creature that he is desperately trying to eradicate, but if we assume that the viewers know nothing about the titans, then that particular transformation scene can be excused due to my lack of understanding of titans. In other words, I can’t blame Eren’s transformation from being contrived because I don’t know titans and their identity well enough. I think this can apply to many moments throughout Attack on Titan lifespan that felt too much of a plot-convenience.

In the third season, I can safely accept that Attack on Titan deepened our knowledge of the titans. Now I can look back at the “contrived” events in the previous 2 seasons and laugh at myself for being ignorant of the foreshadowing behind. The satisfaction of the reveal is obvious enough, but to reach that point after 2 seasons might not be welcoming for newcomers. And that is really my biggest gripe on the series as a whole, but now let’s move on to season 3.

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Attack on Titan Season 3 took what many considered to be a fun one-dimensional hype series into possibly one of the best written stories in modern anime. It gave the fans and regular viewers of the answers that we all wanted since season 1, and its success in developing a cohesive history and lore that connects well with the events in the present upped the writing to critical praise. I myself highly enjoyed this season of Attack on Titan, and truly appreciate the direction the story has taken.

Season 3 is separated into two cours that are vastly different from one another. The 1st cour (sry for the poor image) is an intense political conflict that brings moral issues and corrupt power to the table, while the 2nd cour is a heroic confrontation of two races, both with their own fundamental flaws, and a grandeur reveal of humanity’s history. I think it’s unfair to talk about both seasons at once, let’s break this down into two. I will talk about the first part in this post or it will get ridiculously long.

Season 3 Part 1

Part 1 took an interesting twist from the usual titans fighting and nape slicing. It smoothly transitioned into a more political battle against humans with contrasting views of peace and order. The story is overall solid, it is loose and unpredictable, with multiple sides of humanity and their different ideologies. At first glance, different regiments might have different beliefs, but all of them lead to one goal – wanting humanity to survive.

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While still being excellent at storytelling, it is mostly characterization. The main cast grows as they face off against humanity, and bought them into their morals crisis. In a world where giant naked people robbed them out of their freedom, humanity should be united to take back what they have lost, not inflict more deaths within themselves. Subtle changes in facial expressions indicate the cast’s loss of innocence, but they’re capable of grasping the reality of this cruel world. Correspondingly, we see them becoming braver and their lack of hesitation in doing what must be done.

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I think what really struck me was how no side is morally correct over another, not even the survey corps themselves. Looking back, their priority since the 1st season was to explore further than the walls that caged them for decades. Being able to finally escape these giant concretes that prevented humanity to experience the beauty of Earth will no doubtably advance the human race to another level. If humanity were to continue living through such confined space, it will slowly rot them internally. Once the solution was found, humanity will come to a realization that life is not all about just trying to survive.

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However, the survey corps’ actions will inevitably bring more risks to humanity, which explains why the officials and the higher rankings must stop them. Although they are treated as the antagonists this season, it does not make them morally incorrect. At the end, can you really blame them for prioritizing humanity’s survival over exploration?

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Another lovable aspect of part 1 was recreating scenarios from the previous seasons to indicate the development that our characters went through. That scene where Eren, Mikasa, and Armin all sat down on the same set of stairs as in season 1 was emotionally devastating. Back in season 1, all they had in their hearts was hate and revenge, but in season 3, that hate turned into a desperation for freedom. This drastic change in beliefs really captivates all the painful moments they’ve experienced in their journey.

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Part 1 was able to inflict many psychological emotions on why characters have certain sets of goals. Most of the characters are impactful to the narrative, even the side characters. The same amount of emotional impact is there for newly introduced characters such as Kenny. I think I don’t need to elaborate further on why the extensive care for the characters is Season 3 Part 1’s greatest strength.

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As much as I appreciate the characterization and storytelling behind this cour, the direction, presentation, and action sequences are definitely at its lowest in the series. I felt like they took too much attention on characterization that they forgot how to write good action sequences, because they are actually terribly illogical and ludicrous. There was a scene where the main cast (around 10 people I assume) fought against 35 skilled police soldiers and retain victorious with next to no casualties. The characters being able to dodge gunshots despite not receiving adequate amount of training is ridiculous and it comes off as plot armour that shouldn’t be there.

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As powerful as the story of Attack on Titan is, what made it to be one of the most successful series of all time was the exhilarating fights that left us enthralled. It is moments like Bertholdt/Reiner transformation and Eren’s fight with the female titan that transcend what animation can be capable of. Without such breathtaking actions in season 3 part 1, it really push this season back from being phenomenal.

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Keep in mind that I don’t think every action scene is bad. Levi vs Kenny has some of the most fluid and beautiful shots I’ve ever seen, and that one titan battle in the series is beautifully directed. If they put the same amount of effort into the rest of the fights, then this cour would’ve been much more memorable.

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My last complaint with part 1 is the amount of backstories and how they are presented. On one hand, the backstories themselves are very interesting and really connect the world’s history into the events in the present, but I think they lack emotional impact due to it being info-dumped by monologue with some minor issues with plot convenience (bloodline power was kind of whack). I also think the amount of information is excessive, and really prevents the story from being cohesive.

The problem magnifies when the entire story relies on a gimmick where the history is extremely crucial for the story to connect. Unfortunately, they didn’t present the backstories optimally, resulting in a rather disjointed story. If they had spread out the backstories more throughout the cour rather than introducing them episode by episode, then these plot-lines would definitely converge better.

Final Score and Conclusion:

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Season 3 Part 1 is taking Attack on Titan into the right direction with its story and character work, but it fails to capture the essence of the series due to its mediocre directing and presentation. The approach to focus on human and political issues rather than the extermination of titans is an excellent decision that allows different ideologies to be established. These different ideals bring up the morality of the characters very well, and the show made sure that no side is evil over the other. In reality, the survey corps are the people who we should be cheering for, but the show’s excellent portrayal of beliefs convince us that they’re not really heroes of justice, but rather just following what they believe to be right.

The backstories are undoubtedly the most important section narrative wise, and they perfectly present each character and their motivations, including how everything ended up as the disaster it is in the present. As crucial as they are, the abundant of history can be overwhelming, and with better pacing, it could benefit from being a less convoluted mess. Of course, if you can follow the story well, it won’t really be a complaint.

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With this cour’s beautiful ending, it transitions well into Season 3 Part 2 – taking the progress the characters have made in the past 2 seasons, and bring it into an all for nothing confrontation for humanity’s freedom.

That concludes season 3 part 1. If you haven’t start Attack on Titan yet (you shouldn’t be reading this), then what are you waiting for. If you are not a fan of season 1 and season 2, I guaranteed that you might change your opinion after checking out season 3. This is kind of personal, but here are some notes I took while watching Season 3 Part 1. They are nothing mind provoking, just want you to see what I’m thinking/feeling while watching anime. (Contains massive spoilers)

 

Part 1

pros

  • overall good story
  • not linear and unpredictable, different sides with different ideologies fight
  • smooth shift of tone to a more psychological battle with the government rather than rekting titans and slicing napes
  • main cast grows as they face off the police, they learn about their morals
  • backstories are interesting and really help explain the motives of the villians/ side characters and how they relate to the main cast
  • good at portraying how people can have different views
  • Erwin’s ideology is a good contrast to the other generals like Prixis or the Royal Family
  • I like how soldiers from different rigiments have similar views (some military police have similar views to the scouts)
  • rasies question of morals (who is right? who is wrong?)
  • levi vs the inner police in episode 2 was beautiful (not logically)
  • eren development in general
  • saddies’s backstory was simple but effective for eren’s character
  • beautiful ending when the three sat down the stairs, bring back the moment back in season 1 that shows us the progress they’ve made
  • Erwin’s game stepped up, one of the best characters now
  • the last Erwin scream!!

cons

  • action sequences are cliche and not realistic (10 v 35 at the cave?)
  • the cave fight in general was just awful
  • questionable plot armor (hange still alive?)
  • backstories are often infodumped by monologue, so not a lot of emotional outcome
  • cheezy insert song when historia refused the syringe
  • really not a fan of christa, too much of a into your face character
  • a tell, not show mentaility which i’m not a fan of
  • too characterization heavy, ignoring the action sequences making them half-assed
  • amount of backstories can be overwhleming (bloodline power, kenny, jaegar)
  • bloodline power felt convenience at times, the biggest whack in the story
  • no consequences for the main cast (why they no lose once!) although it didn’t bother me that much
  • presentation could be better (not using the medium as an advantage to tell a message, mostly expressed through dialogues)
  • honestly the backstory are great, but the way it was presented could be better, slower pace.
  • kenny entire’s character arc was dependent on his 12 min flashback, didn’t really feel for the guy (it didn’t end properly either)
  • still not a fan of the brownish colour pallet

 

 

 

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Quick thoughts on shows I’ve seen this week: Kimisui, School Days

Welcome back people, today I wanted to do something new with my website. Full length reviews are incredibly time constraining to write, in conjunction with the time I need to do other productive things. I watch tons of anime and there’s no way I can possibly write a long review for all of them. In this post and possibly more in the future, I will be giving shorter opinions on shows that I don’t feel like writing a full impression on. Today will be on Kimisui and School Days.

Kimisui (I want to eat your pancreas)

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Kimisui is an example of being generic in the wrong way. Its premise of two shallow teenage characters falling in love is nothing out of the ordinary, including a bare-bone message of the importance of human relations. This movie is about dealing with the death of loved ones, and the film does not treat this as a twist, as the death of the female lead is already revealed at the start of the film.

Our protagonist is an extreme loner who never had any human connection in his life while the heroine is predictably the opposite of him. These characters suffer from being cookie-cutter of the most basic drama personalities. You do not need to be a romance expert to expect what happens next. While Kimisui is extremely exposed to predictability, the primary intent of the film is to display the journey along the way.

The journey itself is filled with romantic cliches and a very few select of heartwarming moments. Nothing in this film is novel, and nothing about the relationship is remotely interesting. The core message and themes are drilled into your head in a “tell, not show” mentaility, treating its audience like a complete idiot. To make matter worse, the message felt very immature, as a movie shouldn’t be telling me how to live my life.

Unless you can closely relate to the despair that comes with losing another or somehow relate to the extremely antisocial MC, this is a very poor drama film that heavily relies its success on being able to invoke emotions. I’m sure this film made a lot of people cry, thus the high score on MyAnimeList. In my opinion, just because a show made me cry, it doesn’t mean that I will classify said show as good. There are many works out there that are good at manipulating emotions. Even though one don’t feel genuine connections with the characters on screen, seeing them break down is enough to affect people emotionally. The laughable part is that Kimisui didn’t even leave me with any emotional impact. I didn’t feel sorry for the dude, and I don’t even know his name lol.

Kimisui lacks novelty and heavily relies on romantic cliche to have a proper narrative. The only remotely interesting idea the film offers is the fear of death, but I think shows like Your Lie in April (which i’m not a fan of either) did a much better job of, due to the characters having a stronger history and their ambitions being driven by music, whereas Kimisui’s characters are only shaped up by common romance personalities.  Wrapping up, Kimisui’s only purpose is to display a simple but strong message of valuing human connections. Unfortunately, the film ignores what goes behind executing a premise effectively, and filled in the rest of the film with cookie cutter shit that not a single person has not seen before. I can personally see why people are moved by this film, but I think there are many better dramas out there, I recommend skipping this one.

Final Score: 3/10 (Terrible)

School Days

Spoilers for the ending ahead, but you’ve probably heard of it since it’s so infamous

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A flawed but original work that focuses on the negative aspects of high-school relationships and the immature mindset of youths. School days, while hated by many, is a show that I related to and ended up loving it unironically.

The story is a simple love triangle between Makoto, Katsura, and Sekai. I don’t think I need to elaborate further. The premise is nothing spectacular. It is the foreshadowing and the transition into a psychological piece that makes this show one of a kind.

Whereas most romance show reconstruct the idea that relationships are always constructive, every slight of romance in School Days is destructive to not only the couple, but also everyone around them. The story is structured into a downward spiral to hell, where characters continuously make terrible decisions that build into giant repercussions that they have no escape from.

At first, a simplistic cheating situation might not have the most devastating outcome – it might be traumatic to a person or two, but considering how common cheating is in the real world, I would put it off as normal. In contrast, School days show how cheating can affect people in a community and how it leads to bullying, massive misunderstandings, non-rational choice making, and fulfilling lustful desires. Hate on the characters for being douchebags all you want, but it is darkly realistic in showing how scummy behaviours and unsympathetic attitude is the result of a poor romantic relationship.

Makoto is one of the most hated character in anime, but he is essential for the type of story school days wants to be. While being good natured and innocence, his inexperience with relationships left him succumbs to his sexual desires. As he makes one terrible decisions after another, his life slowly becomes more perplexed until there is no way back. That feeling of hopelessness, shown by him sleeping with every girl he can get a hold on, is what made his character vicious, but at the same time tragic.

Animation and art-style itself is bland, but considering the tone of School Days, something good looking from Kyoto Animation wouldn’t exactly fit the show. Some shots are brilliant, such as the one of many train scenes where the characters past by each other on opposite trains, or the scene (the picture above) where Makoto and Sekai are staring blankly at the sky with full of regret and guilt in their heart while Katsura is desperately attempting to talk to them.  There’s a melancholic track played behind these scenes that adds extra emotional depth.

I particularly liked the reoccurring motifs – the train for example acting as a separation or rendezvous point for characters, or the cellphone which represents Katsura only source of communication with Makoto as a symbol of desperation and conviction.  An interesting detail of School Days is how there were not a single adult character in the show – it really puts all the emphasis on youths’ problems. If you throw a bunch of underdeveloped teenagers in a situation like School Days with no supervision, they would probably act like the characters in the show that so many people despised. Perhaps everything would’ve been prevented if one of the characters confronted an adult, which is what makes this show all that saddening.

Despite all these strengths, School Days is far from being a “great” anime. Some writing decisions are too hyperbolic and fails to represent the issue with youths. There is a particularly scene where a group of girls revealed a recorded sex tape just for ruining Sekai and Makoto relationship. There was no proper explanation as to why the girls did what they did, and the show just portrayed them as evil beings. I personally do not appreciate such a pessimistic approach, considering how all the other characters at least had some motivations to be the scumbags they are.

School Days also suffer from tonal shift. Even when the show is already in its dark side, the later episodes are still bombasted with comedic moments and bright atmosphere when it really should be gloomy and depressing.

The ending is praised by many because it killed off the characters that they’ve despised for so long in a satisfying manner. Whereas most people treat the ending as a carthatic release, I personally found it an incredibly tragic ending. I was feeling nothing but remorse for Makoto, Sekai, and Katsura and ultimately left me with an extra kick in the gut. I highly respect the ending not for its satisfactory, but as a perfect conclusion to a tragic story of a relationship problem that can never be resolved. At the end, School Days’s ending shows that there’s not always a solution to everything, an opportunity to learn from your mistakes, or a way to reform a once lost relationship. It is indeed an amazing ending, but not for the reason people think it is.

School Days is a nihilistic, but over exaggerated take on school romance. While having issues with tone and realism, its presentation on confused youths, uncontrollable lust, and human’s weakness, defines the show’s merits. I’m not joking that School Days left me emotionally devastated and it definitely does not deserve the title of the worst anime ever. WATCH School Days!

Final Score: 7/10 (Pretty Good!)

 

 

Erased

Spoilers will be bolded with a warning message

Hello, I just finished Erased and here are my thoughts.

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Erased was at the center of attention for quite a while, with an insurmountable amount of hype backing it up and a MAL score as high as 9.0+ back when it was airing. Receiving many recommendations from people who enjoyed Steins;Gate, I was excited, as Steins;Gate is my favorite show of all time. Erased got a time travel gimmick, a murder mystery plot-line, and a good character arc; seems pretty good to me. Of course, I won’t be comparing the two for their vast differences.

The protagonist, Satoru Fujinuma is a 29 years old pizza delivery guy with an appearance and personality of a standard otaku MC. Living full of regrets, he reveals an incident in his childhood where his classmate was killed, but his regrets come from knowing full well that he would’ve saved her if he did said action. Luckily, he has a unique power that he calls “Revival” that allows him to travel back in time. Being sent back to the past, he attempts to prevent everything that went wrong surrounding the murder incident.

The idea of saving or preventing something through time travel is seen everywhere, it is not entirely unique but there are different ways on how it is used. At first glance, I find the premise interesting. I want to see a 29 years old man approach a situation where he is in the body and mind of a child, lacking the strength and usefulness as an adult. It is a huge hinderance for him, but I want to see how he can overcome this challenge in the eyes of a child; furthermore, I want to see Satoru change from being a cold person through him reliving events in the past. In the end, Erased leaned on being a character drama, and unfortunately, it didn’t work. Brimmed with artificial drama, plot holes, and pacing issues, Erased’s attempt of being a character piece while including a sci-fi concept and a mystery plot-line was rather disappointing.

Erased is essentially trying very hard to be multi-genre (is this even a word?) to an extent that it ignores some fundamental writing rules. Including a time travel ability makes it inclusive to the sci-fi genre, and having the story structured through a murder mystery to save a person he cares about makes this a mystery show. Yes, you can add those aspects in a show, but what is equally important is actually executing them well. Erased’s biggest problem is apparent when the show never tries to properly do anything interesting with either the time travel or the murder mystery. To make matter worse, the writer just throws these in the story to give it an extra kick with no effort to make it inclusive to the overall narrative, and only resulted in pissing me off.  With only a 12 episode run-time and questionable writing, it wasn’t enough for anything interesting to be implemented effectively. The time traveling was simply throw in there to give the MC a reason to return to the past, the approach to the murder mystery was awful especially regarding who the villain was and revealing him/her, and even the character development, which is what most seems to praise on,  are abrupt and uninteresting with a lack of realism. Resulting in a very  rushed, plot conveniences heavy, and poorly written narrative that is unable to decide what type of show it wants to be.

Here are the Spoilers, please skip the bolded part. You’ve been Warned

I’ve heard many complaints about Satoru’s power not having a clear explanation, making it seem like the author can abuse the power to make it convenience for the MC to get out of bad situations. I’m personally fine with it not being explained, and rather more interested to see how it was being used to present the narrative. After all, I’ve seen other shows which didn’t really have a proper explanation of a similar time traveling power, let’s say Re:Zero, but was still left impressed due to how it was utilized to tell the story and flesh out its themes. 

What IS my gripe with Erased is what I said above: it didn’t do anything special. Other than the first episode, Revival was only used as a meant to send Satoru back to the past, and conveniently back to the present again. Overall, the time travel makes up less than 5% of the story, and I felt like the writer should’ve done more in fitting such an important concept to the show

On the positive note, what made “Revival” unique was that Satoru had no power over it and would randomly activate, sometimes going back longer than the expected 5-10 seconds, giving this time travel plot device a necessary restraint. While it did follow its foundation in his first jump to the past in episode 1, it wasn’t consistent with the rest of his time jumps. There are times where Satoru was in a heavy situation and his power would conveniently activate to save himself. Although it did follow the rule of randomness, the presentation made it too plot-convenience to be believable. 

My second problem with the show is definitely its approach to mystery. Initially, Erased’s mystery had a promising start. With the premise of Satoru being a child, the suspects really felt like a threat, as we as the viewers know that Satoru can’t possibly defeat the villain physically nor mentally. Suspense was developed effectively through the music and lighting, and through the defencelessness and vulnerability of children. All of the suspects act suspiciously and leave doubts behind our mind. It did lean on some characters more than others, the teacher for example, but I initially put it off as a “red herring”, or an attempt to build up a false conclusion that usually leads to a massive twist at the end. In a mystery show, it’s usually used to distract us from the main suspect and making us suspect an innocent instead. 

Everything went well until the final reveal. A red herring in disguise, it was the teacher all along. Yes it “subverted” our expectations, but it was nothing more than a slight shock, leading with massive disappointment.  The problem wasn’t really the reveal itself, but rather how it was transitioned into it. With one suspect officially off the list (Kayo’s mom), the list is smaller, but still enough to ignite confusion. Shiratori wasn’t properly explored yet, nor did any other suspects except for the teacher, yet the show wanted to quickly get done with it. This is very bad writing, it ruined the potential this mystery can have on the story. There was clearly a lack of emphasis on the mystery aspects, and the author just wanted a quick way out. Very disappointing for Erased and my biggest problem with how the mystery was handled. 

Erased’s biggest problem as a whole is trying to bring in expectations by appealing to multiple genres, but its most notorious problem in its storytelling is by far the villain. He was terribly undeveloped, with no explanation of his motives other than a vague and lame spider web analogy. I can see his obsession with killing kids with his analogy of drowning hamsters, but that part about heaven and hell was just whack. At the end, I  only perceived him as an evil man, and Satoru as being the hero, a very uninteresting resolution of ideals. With the show building up for this moment, it undoubtedly left me very disappointed. 

And of course that leads to the ending, a poor, rushed, ending that fails as a conclusion. The roof scene was an absolute cringe to watch, filled with cheesy dialogues and a poorly directed “fight” scene. Satoru’s development was shallow, and went with the cliche power of friendship ending, but it did wrap up his character arc. As a man who seemingly has no future, and his only friend being a teenage co-worker, he now has trusted allies that would support him, shown by the trampoline scene at the end. The entire journey for Satoru was taking the time to form bonds with people, which he certainly did not do back in his old life. Other than Satoru’s change in character, the ending did practically nothing to conclude what the show started on, and that further reduced my appreciation for this show. 

My small but sufficient praise comes from Kayo’s arc and the meaningful relationship between her and Satoru. I particularly like this arc because it was handled well with a perfect amount of emphasis on it and some beautiful scenes. The plot is built around their interactions, while still creating tension and suspense from the murder mystery. Their romance is certainly not the most brilliance out there, but it is the best Erased can offer. Kayo especially is a good character, her experience with abuse and impoverishment enhance the realism of her emotions. 

With the arc coming to a nice closure, the ending completely fucked it up. Kayo’s mother is one of the major antagonists, and there was an immense build up to see how Satoru can solve the problem. All that build up, only leading to a conclusion that completely re-written a character in a matter of seconds through poor drama and dialogues. I can’t believe how Kayo’s mom is so eager to change by a couple of lines from her grandmother. A change in character can be done effectively, but not when the change is abrupt and contrived. In the case of Erased, it conveniently changed Kayo’s mom superficially with only a short backstory to explain why she became an abuser. There was no emotional weight behind it, and I was left feeling more frustrated than sorry for the mom. The grandmother was simply there as a plot device, as this is legit her only appearance in the show, and her purpose is only to force the mom to surrender. People can change, but you can’t expect to instantly make that through a rushed solution and a terribly made up story. 

Conclusion:

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Erased is a bad show, and its high potentials and expectations undermines it even more. The show started off promising, and successfully built upon an interesting premise to build suspense, while having its levity through the development of Satoru and Kayo. In what should’ve been a show that kept going on track, it unfortunately went off the rail through questionable decisions and morbid resolutions.

Character’s drama were artificial and ridiculous at times. There was particularly a scene where a divorced occurred because the husband was accused for stealing a chocolate bar. Does the writer really think such an absurd and unbelievable story will hit our heartstrings? Don’t even get me started on Kayo’s mom.

The mystery went off the wrong direction and left off with an anti-climatic solution that didn’t properly develop the other suspects, leading to the abomination of a villain that was just ass. If Erased didn’t go for a 12 episode series and explored the villain more extensively, then I couldn’t even imagine how much better it would’ve been.

Do I recommend Erased? Despite my low score, Yes. I think there is a correct appeal for this show, and even I personally think the first half of the show was decent at best. I recommend at least giving it a try. This sums up on how I think about Erased, see you next time guys!

 

To Love-Ru

 

No Major Spoilers!!!! (spoiler from episode 1, but that’s just the synopsis)

After finishing a series that has a heavy story and strong thematic values, it’s always recommended to watch a rather frivolous and light-hearted series after in contrast to the one you’ve just watched, or just a genre that is the total opposite.  This will prevent you from comparing the two. (E.x watching Bleach after Hunter X Hunter, you will compare bleach to Hunter x Hunter). With so many genre, I decided to go with ecchi, and I ultimately came in contact with To LOVE-Ru.

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It’s probably better to know what the story is about before starting this review. I’m rather lazy to explain what To-LOVE-RU is about, so here is my summary taken from what is written on MyAnimeList. If you don’t want any spoilers from the 1st episode, then you can skip the italicized section below. (It won’t hurt your experience anyway)

“Rito Yuuki has a crush on Haruna Sairenji—a classmate of his. One night, a stark-naked girl lands right on top of a bathing Rito.

Rito discovers that the girl, Lala Satalin Deviluke, is a princess of a home that she ran away from and she is willing to marry Rito in order to avoid an unwanted political marriage.

To LOVE-Ru is about Rito dealing with Lala, a foreign alien girl in his daily school life, while continuing to find a way to confess to Haruna. It consist of a cast of sexy girls who all have a different relationship with Yuuki, and added fan service moments to keep the show it’s ecchi tag.”

I’m just going to say it out of the bat, if I could take back the time I’ve spent watching this show, I probably would. I DID NOT have a satisfying experience with To-LOVE-Ru and I will explain why. At one glance at the synopsis, To-LOVE-Ru comes off as a generic harem series with cookie-cutter characters that are one-dimensional, with next to no story at all. However, judging from me writing this review, the show was bearable enough for me to finish it, so it really wasn’t as abysmal as you might think. The series made me laugh quite a bit and I honestly grew fond with the characters. (The characters are also hot asf), but I still cannot ignore the amount of time the show bugged me with its problems. This post will be me sharing my thoughts about the To-LOVE-RU anime adaptation.

To LOVE-Ru is a 26 episode harem/romance/comedy series that is mostly episodic except the last 3-4. In nature, episodic comedy series lack any story or what some people might consider as arcs. This is exactly what To-LOVE-RU is, an episodic series with each episode containing its own story and none of them ever connect to each other. Once you’ve reached the end of an episode, the show would abandon whatever was developed and start fresh new.

Generally, series like these are rather hard to binge and is better off to watch it in a subsequent manner. However, I found it rather easy to binge this series, as I managed to finish it in just 3 days. Although there might not be a huge underlying story that is 5-10 episodes long, each individual sub events in an episode are engaging and creative enough to keep me interested in continuing on without a break in between.

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wtf was this episode

This isn’t to say that there aren’t any bad episodes, because despite some being  great, there are more mediocre or even straight up garbage ones that really ruined the experience for me. These horrible episodes mostly consist of the 2nd half of the show, where I felt like the creator is starting to lose his creative juices in these subplots. I will go in depth further in my opinion on the show’s comedy.

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The comedic aspects of To-LOVE-Ru is even more important than the basically non-existent story. This is not surprising, as it is common for comedy series to not have a strong story. To-LOVE-Ru’s comedy is definitely a hit or miss. The comedy mainly consist of making the audience laugh by having the characters experience through the most absurd and illogical events that the creator can think of. This type of comedy (I think it’s called Slapstick humor) can be seen as rather depthless or even childish compared to the more character-driven ones. I think To-LOVE-RU nailed this type of comedy at some point, but failed at others. Some of the episodes honestly surprised me with their ideas and comedic value, and they kept me laughing for the entire 24 minutes duration. It can be blowing a hole through an aquarium and flooding it, ordering the student council to check everyone for lewd contents, and my favourite episode of the series; the total most messed up field day I’ve ever seen in anime, which made me laugh throughout the entire episode.

When the comedy can resonate with me, it’s great, but in moments that it does not, it is almost atrocious to watch. Most of the events that I described earlier was part of the first half. Just like the story, the show got increasingly less funnier in the 2nd half. It felt like the creator played too safe and didn’t want to do anything too stupid, which ruins the entire point of this type of comedy.

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There are still some decently funny episodes in there, but they are not nearly as good as some of the episodes in the first half. I find most of the scenes to just be characters running away from something/someone (unoriginal) to characters simply trying to be funny with their personalities, in which I don’t find it funny.  The creator is clearly trying to use character’s expressions to present the comedy rather than putting them into comedic situations. With the characters being rather cookie-cutter, shifting the comedy to character-driven was a horrible decision, and made the 2nd half very unenjoyable.

One of the reasons why I didn’t drop this show already were the characters. Yes, they might be archetypical of your standard harem cast. After all, we do have a Tsundere (Yui), Shy girl(Haruna),  the crush(Haruna again), and the kuudere(Darkness), but these characters don’t feel one-dimensional and have a sense of personality within them, usually in their interactions with Rito.

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There are some unique addition to the cast as well, like having a character with an objective to kill the protagonist, and a perfect model student that uses the protagonist to rival with Lala. These additions add more nuance to Rito’s relationship with them so they don’t all feel the same. It might not be impressive, but it’s good enough for me to appreciate the care that the creator puts to these characters and his attempt to subvert the normal harem troupes.

Rito

As for Rito, the protagonist, I didn’t hate him, and I guess that’s good enough for a harem character. Sure he is no where near to the like of Araragi, but for a more light-hearted series like To-LOVE-Ru, I wasn’t bothered by his character at all. I like the fact that Rito is aware of his relationship with all of the female characters. He has a different approach to how he interact with each of the harem member, and it creates a dynamic in the harem. I’m aware that this is probably a common writing technique, but I still respect the creator for not fucking up.

The character themselves fail to standout individually, and they really only work through the chemistry of the entire cast. Which is why I lean toward episodes that involves the majority of the cast rather than a limited 2-3 characters episode. Because the cast mainly consists of stereotypical characters, limiting the cast in an episode will lead to it being very predictable and cliche. But when you start to add in more people, it starts to get more nuanced. In the field day episode, it is able to effectively use nearly all of the characters that were previously introduced into one messed up exaggerated scenario. The ending section to the series (the only “story” you get), also utilized all of the characters to add more layers to Rito’s quest, in which I will not spoil. Each of these characters might be simple, but together, their dynamics can be very intriguing and fun to watch.

Now, what really hinders this show for me is when some side characters get their own episode to “redeem” themselves. There was one episode where the show felt the need to force a character into a drama with Rito, which was resolved in the most shittiest and cliche way possible. There is another one where another character goes through a change of heart after meeting a pregnant cat. Although it has its heartwarming moments, it didn’t make me respect the character’s growth and development. As said earlier, these individuals aren’t complex enough to be given an entire episode, which make these few “redemption arcs” painful to experience.

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To-LOVE-Ru as an episodic show had the audacity to also add two stupid filler-episodes of characters that are completely off the side with next to no screen time. One of them only appeared for 10 sec as an advertisement mascot(the picture above). So how come it is justifiable for her to get an entire episode of her own? The episode somehow ended up being decent, as they definitely hit the spot with the comedy, but if they switched the mascot girl with the original cast, the episode would’ve been much better.

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From To Love-Ru Darkness, the sequel to this show.

So I explained that To-LOVE-RU is basically a filler series, focused on the characters living through their absurd daily life rather than dealing with serious and life threatening issues. I pointed out that comedy is a big part of the series, and I think the show did it decently to crack a smile on me a couple times.

Am I forgetting something here? Oh yes, can’t forget that To-LOVE-Ru is well known for its lewd moments. From some of the fan-service scenes I’ve seen, the ecchi is quite exaggerated, but that is for the 2nd season and Darkness, but I’m still expecting to see the same for the original. So how did the show handle the ecchi aspects? It FAILED MISERABLY!

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compare this lazy piece of mess to the picture above

There are no borderline hentai moments, no creative sex references, no sexy orgasm, all of what an ecchi should have. Instead, it’s just repetitive and irritating troupes that you can find from any anime. The fan-service moments only consist of the most generic ones you can find, like standard boob grouping, accidental panty reveal, and occasionally girls being trapped in tentacle. There are no thoughts being put behind these troupes, and it makes me cringe seeing it being repeated over and over again. I can’t count the amount of time Rito harassed Haruna (his crush) in the same ways. It was really disappointing to see the potential this show has to become a good comedy while having great fan-service to fit the harem of the show, only to be wasted because the creator only rely on overused cliché.

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As for the last 2-3 episodes, it unsurprisingly brings a conflict to the show. I said it’s unsurprising because I’m pretty sure it’s common for comedy series to end with some sort of bang. The ending arc had me full of mixed feelings. On one hand, it gave a satisfying conclusion to the characters, as they were all somehow involved in the arc in a way that naturally fits them. The ending also had a fun twist that I had a good laugh with, which perfectly returns and reconstructs this show as a comedy series once again. Other than that, the sequence of events is rather predictable and nothing really surprised me. 

This might be unnoticeable, but To-LOVE-Ru is also a shonen series that was serialized in Shonen Jump, in which I’m surprised that such an erotic series is running on a Weekly Magazine that is targeted to boys. The ending is able to present the classic Shonen themes and storytelling by portraying friendship through the cast helping each other to achieve Rito’s final goal.  It’s rather simple, but it allows me to see that the creator is aware of the fact that his series is running on Shonen Jump. Friendship is probably the main one in To-LOVE-Ru, but there are other less apparent and explicit themes in the show, such as love, overcoming the odds, achieving your dreams, and the wills to sacrifice. 

On the other hand, the ending arc also has one of the most abrupt transitions I’ve ever seen in my life, with zero build-up, being filled with out-of-character moments, and a totally unnecessary intro full of characters walking around contemplating their life. The lack of transition made this entire arc contrived and it bugged me like hell.

Lastly and least, I don’t really have a detailed opinion on the music, animation, and art-style. The music is nothing outstanding, but it wasn’t a distraction. The animation was solid enough, but I don’t really have enough knowledge on animation to really judge it. (of course, I will know when an animation is superb). The art-style for the original is rather outdated compared to the new one. I think I prefer the new art-style, but this one wasn’t unbearable to look at either.

Verdict:

Interesting

I initially had a good impression on To-LOVE-Ru. The starting episodes were fine, but it got increasingly better as the show introduced new characters in the cast. I loved the episode with Lala’s rival, the student council Yui, the animal cafe, and especially the field day episode, which combines everything that is great about the show into one episode. However, there were still some mediocre episodes along the way that I kind of wanted it to end so I can move on, but there were more good ones than bad and that made me overlook those.  Also I already developed a distaste with the fan-service.

When the 2nd half of the series started, my interest is starting to deteriorate. I found it harder to laugh in each subsequent episode, and the filler and side-characters redemption episodes were just killing it for me. I kind of had to force my way through the end, because I didn’t want to drop it after watching more than 50% of it, which of course i regretted.

At the end, To-LOVE-Ru was lacklustre, but had enough redeeming qualities to prevent it from falling to the bottom of my list. I will be giving To LOVE-RU a 4/10. This show had too many things that bugged me, but it wasn’t an abysmal experience, and I did overall enjoy the characters and the comedy.  I do not recommend this series, but I heard that the later seasons vamped up their fan-service and characters. So this might be worth a shot if you want to get into the other seasons, but don’t feel like missing out on the story of the original. The characters are also pretty hot, so you could find your potential waifu in this show. Anyway, this is it for my review, thanks for reading and see you next time.

 

 

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: A Mystery Story at its Finest. (First-time impressions, Review, and Analysis)

NOTE: THERE ARE TWO SEASONS FOR THIS SHOW AND THIS WILL ONLY COVER THE FIRST SEASON.

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In the mystery genre, it is rare for a fourth-wall break to ever happen between the screen and the viewer. We all watch as the characters slowly solve the mystery, but have you ever wonder what it’s like to solve an actual mystery – being a detective yourself to uncover the secrets of the event, and developing your own theories and guesses along the way? Especially in a piece of fiction, where it is common to put the responsibility into the characters to uncover the ambiguity of the setting. What if the task of solving the mystery is enforce into you? You’re the one that will need to piece it together, and all of the characters are completely clueless until the very end? No one will help you on this journey except yourself, well, maybe some people in the comments will tell you prior to that. Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m glad to inform that I’ve found the show that perfectly reflects this feature. Welcome everyone to my fifth anime review. Today I will be looking at the first season of Higurashi, the mascot of the Horror/Mystery genre – a haunting story that reminds you the consequences of insincerity, a story to teach you a lesson to never trust cute girls, and most importantly, a story that allows you, the viewer, to uncover the secrets of Hinamizawa.

Story/Setting/Aesthetics

Higurashi is a story that is truly distinct and profoundly done, it follows a teenage boy, Keichi Maebara, adjusting his lifestyle in the new town of Hinamizawa after he recently moved in. He makes a group of friends in his school, and at first glance, they seem like a group of normal and innocent cute girls. As Keichi lives through his peaceful days, he discovers some things he shouldn’t have. The village had a dubious past – there were a series of mysterious serial murders, happening each year on the exact same day. There is a belief around the village on a mysterious omnipresent entity, known as Ayashiro-sama, and the villagers claim that the killings was the result of Ayashiro’s curse. As Keichi digs deeper into the dark secrets of Hinamizawa, everyone around him is starting to get suspicious, including his closest friends.

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Sounds creepy right? It is not one of the most defining horror anime for no reason. So does it lives up to its infamous creepy vibes and horrifying nature? Unfortunately, as a horror, Higurashi failed miserably. It took many aspects that made the original visual novel so intimidating and somehow made it much worse. The creepy atmosphere isn’t prevalent, everywhere is colorful and bright. The score is also adapted terribly, they didn’t bother using some of the memorable tracks in the VN and none of the anime exclusive tracks sent a chill down my spine like the VN one did – not enough dead silence scenes, not enough cicadas sound. I also can’t ignore the horrendous animation that this show has that made the girls look more hilarious than scary if you ask me. Just look at that shot from above, it is uttertly laughable compared to their original counterpart in the VN. If you’re looking for a good horror experience, then why are you even watching anime? If this is the best horror experience anime can offer, then the horror genre shouldn’t exist in the first place. For a truly terrifying experience, I urge you to read the Visual Novel instead. Of course, if you can’t handle the overly long and pointless dialogues, stick with the anime.

In any piece of literature, fiction and non-fiction, it is natural to follow the dramatic structure: every story must start with a beginning, middle, and end. Almost every story goes through this plot exposition process once – the beginning fulfill the purpose of informing the audience about the upcoming conflict, giving them some clues to the mystery behind. The middle, also known as the rising action or climax, gives the audience an immediate sensation of negative emotions. This can be fear in a horror, sadness in a drama, or suspense in a thriller. Finally, there must be an end, an event that brings end to the demise, or the other way around, which is also known as a Bad Ending.

Higurashi created an entirely unique and inventive method of story telling by blending the rules of the dramatic structure. As I said earlier, most stories only goes through the structure once right? What if you repeat the same story multiple times – where each of them takes place in the same setting, with the same characters, but with a different perspective each time?

Higurashi tells its story in a unique perspective by separating it into different arcs, and no, the arcs are not in chronological order. Every time the show reaches the end, usually when a character were to die in unfortunate events, the story resets back to the beginning, in a completly different world, thus starting a brand new arc. This goes on until everyone is saved from this terrifying time loop. Think of this like Stein;s gate, but of course, Reading Steiner doesn’t exist in this universe. Meaning that everything that happened before will be forgotten. This sudden change probably made many dropped their jaws, scratching their head wondering if there was a revival or some time leap going on after seeing all the characters fully-alive and well.

The arcs in Higurashi are puzzle pieces, they each give you a piece of the real truth. This truth is something that you must look for yourself. Everyone will have different theories and guesses, some might be right, some might be completely wrong. It is important to constantly make assumptions while watching the show – deciding who is the real culprit is, guessing the origin of the events that happened last arc with the new information you’re given, and most importantly, figuring a way to get out of this hell hole. Your predictions might be wrong, but please do not feel bad about yourself. Realizing you’re wrong might be even more satisfying than being completely right, because once you’ve finally piece the story after countless failures, the satisfaction will be immense. These arcs might not be connected canonically, but they all points at one direction; the truth. The characters might not remember what happened in previous arcs, but you do. You’re the one with Reading Steiner, which is why the show is leaving the disconnected arcs for you to solve.

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I know this might throw away some people and I understand that this might not be everyone. If you’re not paying fully attention, you could really miss out on some of the charm behind it. Unfortunately, you will need to think a little. If you’re not willing to put in the effort, I think you should just walk away. BUT… if you do decide to join in the mystery, you will experience one of the most engaging stories that would leave you thinking about it the next week.

As the story itself, it is no doubt the strongest aspect of the show, but I still have some problems with it. In the beginning, the pacing is too quick, especially when you’re telling the story in multiple broken arcs. Everything moves so quickly, and you will probably be even more confused than you should be. Don’t worry, I was initially holding Higurashi as a 6/10 for the first half, but the story really starts picking up in the latter half. When things are starting to make sense, the story is much easier to follow, making the last 3 arcs the true highlight of the show, since the last 3 arcs were supposed to be the answer arcs anyways.  Basically, the first half can be a pain to get through, you will be constantly scratching your head and wondering why everything falls out of place. I personally didn’t like the first half, and there is a huge chance that you won’t as well, but if you can withstand it, it is worth for the amazing revelation at the latter half. The last 3 arcs are all related to the first three, and it gives you even more clues to the truth. After 15 episodes of complete mind fuckery, I’m guaranteed that you will feel incredibly SATISFIED when you find some of the answers you’ve been looking for in the answers arcs.

Characters

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Who is the Yandere Queen? Do I hear Gasai Yuno at the back of your head? Well, clearly someone haven’t seen Higurashi. The characters in Higurashi…. well, other than their insanely strong Yandere appeal, they are nothing to cry home about. Higurashi is not a character-driven story, the characters are nothing but plot convenience and development. There isn’t any noticeable character development anywhere, maybe except for Rena. Although I did appreciate the sudden shift in character perspective – we get to see the story in the eyes of different characters. In the fifth arc of Higurashi, the protagonist shifted to Shion and then shifted again to Rena in the last arc. As a result, it creates an effective method that allows the viewer to answer some of the questions that are unresolved, since seeing the story with just one eye makes it difficult to absorb all the secrets.

For the characters themselves, they tend to struggle from the lack of originality and connectivity. None of them are amazing well done, but they are not overly filled with cliche personalities either. Don’t expect some Evangelion character depth from this, because there isn’t much to explore around these guys. The heavy focus of this show is the story, and the characters are only there to supplement the mind-warping story.

Final Verdict:

I’m already loving Higurashi just from the first season alone. What we have as a first season, is a suspenseful tale of mistakenly knowing more than you should, the consequences of being insincere, and the resulting fear of someone seeing through your lies. Higurashi plays with you, forcing you to theorize what is happening on the screen, because it does not show you the answer. This story telling is unique and subversive from its genre, because the pure satisfaction that is waiting ahead once you’re fully pieced the story together will be immense. Unfortunately, Higurashi lacks aesthetics and thematic value – the animation is low below subpar quality, and the show does not explore any depths. Higurashi is a pure plot-driven story, there isn’t any profound ideas or deep characters. In other words, Higurashi is not a “smart” show.

The first season ended well, and makes for a perfect transition to the second season. We’ve been given the basic foundation of the story – at this point, we know the multiple possibilities of who the culprit is, we understand the origin of the village, and why do some supernatural events occur. Now we have some clues on the answer that lies ahead, it is time to explore even deeper to the deepest realm of Hinamizawa.

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Higurashi will receive a subjective rating of 8/10, a rating that considers Higurashi a show that is definitely worth your time. This will conclude my review on Higurashi, I will definately check out the second season sooner or later. See you guys soon and thank you for watching.

Going Through Everything #1

Welcome to the first week of Going Through Everything where I will look at the first 5 anime I’ve ever watched in my life. Here I will predict the rating I will probably give now if I do decide to rewatch the show one day and give my thoughts on my viewing experience. Let’s start off with the first anime I’ve ever seen in my life!

Spirited Away – Score: 9/10 – First Watched: 2007

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Damn 2007, that’s literally more than 10 years ago and I’ve only seen this movie once. I really don’t remember almost anything about this film, other the fact that this is the first anime I’ve ever seen. I shouldn’t even consider this to be the first because I didn’t even know anime existed back then. As an animation film I’ve seen as a child, the art-style was impressive for my innocent eyes. I loved the ancient Japanese style on some of the landscapes and buildings. I remembered enjoying the story quite a bit even though I don’t even remember any of it now. The most memorable part for me was when the girl (forgot her name) sat with the ghost on the train, and clearly remembering that the ghost gave me nightmares as a kid. Other than that, I think the show impressed me the most with the aesthetics. Spirited Away looks amazing, probably the most beautiful anime I’ve ever seen. I might come back to this film in the future to relive what I’ve experienced 12 years ago, but with a much clearer mind of course. If I were to re-watch Spirited Away, I think I would give it a 9/10, but finding somewhere to watch this movie might be difficult.

Fairy Tail(Original) – Score 6/10 – First Watched: 2013

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Fairy Tail is the first anime I’ve ever seen where I’m aware that I’m watching an anime. When I first finished the 175 episodes of the first season, I thought it was the best fucking thing ever. I thought the story for Fairy Tail was amazing, the character interaction is brilliant, and even thought the show was deep lol. Of course, after watching around 10 more shows, it’s hard to look back at Fairy Tail. I realized that there are so many shows that are better than Fairy Tail and questioned my past self for liking this trash. Around 2017, I finally decided to re-watch most of Fairy Tail and lost all respect to this anime. The story of Fairy Tail is a mess and never actually gets better, the characters are shallow and annoying, and the worst part about Fairy Tail is that it is literally the definition of cliche. Everything about this show represents the lack of originality we see in anime today. This show is notorious for the most frustrating power-up in anime: The Power of Friendship. I see this so many fucking time in this show at the point where they are constantly abusing this in almost every fight and it pisses me off so much. I also can’t stand almost every characters in this show. I hate Natsu, Lucy, Gray, Elfman, Luvia, e.t.c. They are not interesting, lame, and their interaction felt fake. They are also the definition of cliche characters, just like everything else in this show. Why is this still a 6 then? Well, the world of Fairy Tail is still fascinating to me and the experience that I got back then was still memorable till this day. I definitely do not like this show right now, but I can’t admit that I didn’t love it back then. I don’t see a reason I would ever re-watch this show ever again, and I would probably give this show a 3 if I do decide to re-watch.

Akame Ga Kill – Score 6/10 – First Watched: 2014

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Surprisingly, I went with something entirely more mature and gory for my next show, Akame Ga Kill. Akame Ga Kill is a show that I have mixed feelings about even when I first watched it. On one hand, the world is really interesting and the fights were pretty intense and fun to watch. But on the other hand, this show clearly struggles on the narrative and its failure on developing the characters. I really liked the world of Akame Ga Kill and how the system works in the empire. There is this interesting ideology that all the villains share and another ideology that all Night Raids members share as well. Seeing the two sides clash against each other was interesting and there were some nice character interactions from both sides. This anime also has some incredible fights that uses unique powers and a satisfying amount of gore. I particularly like the final fight in the series which I’m not going to spoil.

My problem with Akame Ga Kill is Tatsumi, the MC of Akame Ga Kill. He is your average unlucky draw of a protagonist. We see these people everywhere – like Yukki from Mirai Nikki, Shu from Guilty Crown, Kirito from SAO, and you name it. Tatsumi is exactly like these guys – he is bland, dense, and has questionable decision making. Another problem is the show trying to be edgy by killing off all the characters to supposedly make the show emotional when it fails to do so. These characters were killed off for no reason when they should’ve survived. Even if they died, the lack of development for these characters made me unattached to their deaths. I got incredibly frustrated at one of the death scenes where the injury wasn’t even that BAD! But they killed her off anyways. I heard that the manga is actually much better because it kept some of the characters alive instead of killing them off for no reason. I went and read the manga myself and they are right, the manga is actually much better.

Akame Ga Kill is a show with highs and lows, but I think I was more into the positive aspects than the negative aspects of the show so the score will be a bit higher than average as a 6/10. Well, you should be reading the manga instead if you’re thinking of picking up Akame Ga Kill. And for my re-watch score, it would probably drop to a 5. No matter how flawed the show is, I still think it deserves some credits.

Naruto(Original) – Score 7/10 – First Watched: 2014-2015

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I actually dropped this show and never got around the Sasuske Retrieval Arc, which many claims to be the climax of the original Naruto. I probably don’t need to finish it after seeing thousands of flashbacks in Shippuden already. So how does the original Naruto holds up? Well, I thought it was pretty good, but not nearly as good as Shippuden. The narrative of Naruto is noticeably weaker than its successor, it does not take itself nearly as seriously as Shippuden did, but the original series excels at the lighthearted moments and the comedic aspects. Think of Naruto like a characterization arc in a long running shounnen, because Naruto really does explore the characters deeper.

Let’s talk about the story arcs we got in Naruto. I felt like most of the arcs were uninteresting and they totally do not live up to the wonderful Pain arc, itachi arc, and the Nine-Tails taming arc we got in Shippuden. I do have to give some credits to some of the arcs. The Chunin Exam arc was pretty good and arguably the highlight of the show, that is if you exclude the Sasuke Retrieval Arc of course. It was the most intense arc, with the most badass fights, and overall the arc that gave me the best experience. They really tried to put in everything in this arc. it introduced an immense amount of characters from the villages all around the world and introduced some awesome fight scenes involving the side characters. We got Gaara v.s Rock Lee, Naruto vs Neji, and Naruto v.s Gaara, which are all very bad-ass fights. A lot happened in the Chunnin exam and I really enjoyed it as a result. I can argue that it’s one of the best arcs in both Naruto and Naruto Shippuden combined.

Anyways, Naruto would receive a 7/10 from the time that I gave it a score back then. I thought it was pretty solid, but it does not get any higher than that because the story felt lackluster compared to Shippuden. If I have to rewatch it now, I will probably give it a 6 or a 5, because re watching long shows tends to be very boring. As an introductory to the series, Naruto was pretty good.

Sword Art Online – Score: 5/10 – First Watched: 2015

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WOOO am I jumping on the SAO hate wagon too? The answer is yes and no. Sword Art Online exceeded in publicizing anime as a medium in the west, it drew in one of the widest audience in the anime community, becoming a huge success in popularity. As time moves on, the MAL rating is only depreciating more and more. SAO became not only one of the most popular shows out there, but also one of the most contentious. It is hard to admit that everyone here including me have never seen at least one SAO hate video from some of the biggest you tubers in the anime community like Digibro, Mother’s Basement, or Gigguk. We all love to bash on SAO don’t we? – watching this filth being burned in this hell hole of criticisms until we are satisfied? Personally, I myself do not share a distinct hatred for SAO. As the matter of fact, SAO is average – not good, but not that asinine to pursue my dropping intentions or to write an hour long critique like Digi did. Let’s start this off by saying that SAO has a good exposition, although it might not be inventive or original now since we have thousands of Isekai anime that serve as a better representation of the MMORPG experience. At the end, SAO was still the first of it kind and I actually remember liking the show because come on, everything was good when we were 12 right? Just admit that SAO got a decently high rating when it first made it popularity in the west. As time goes on, we have moved on from our past self, and realized the obvious and severe flaws of this show. Our taste evolved and we don’t see the magic in SAO anymore. I could potentially find myself in this hate train now because let’s be honest, who thinks SAO is good anymore? As a viewer from 2015, my opinions were lenient towards SAO and would consider the show a 7 or 8/10. Of course, as I’ve moved on from SAO, my score for this show eventually drops until it reaches to a 5/10 right now. Thank you SAO, you bought me into the wonderful world of anime, but it is time to move on and discover the thousands of better shows out there. My rewatch score of SAO would bring it down to a 2, because after watching some of the masterpieces, SAO will just be utterly garbage compared to them.

Toradora!: From Love to Despair. (First-time Impression, Review and Analysis)

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NOTE: This post is more intended for people who’ve seen Toradora! already, because I’m going over some specific aspects of the show where people who’ve never seen it would have a hard time understanding. Also when i say “First-time”, it means my first time finishing a show, so I might not interpret or understand everything in Toradora which I can confirm I definitely didn’t. Therefore, I might be wrong on certain things, sorry if I misinterpreted something. Anyways, this will be a long post, sit back and enjoy. Fun Fact: The Longest my review is, the more I like the show!

Toradora is the best rom-com/drama I’ve ever seen period.  I got completely tricked into thinking this would be a full-on splice of life Rom-Com comedy. Only to be given one of the most intense character drama I’ve ever seen in anime. Makes me wonder why the fuck is this not classified as a Drama (I’m looking at you MyAnimeList). It is easily more dramatic than most of the shows that are actually considered a drama. Toradora is a beautiful story about romantic relationships ended up in the most heartbreaking way possible. It shows how developing relationships with others can hurt each others in unimaginable ways. As a matter of fact, this is absurdly similar to the hedgehog dilema from Eva, just in a different tone. Despite the show immense amount of drama, it maintain its comedy and slice of life moments throughout the entire show. Even in an atmosphere full of despair, there is still a loophole where happiness can be found. These comedic moments hold Toradora as the most acknowledged Rom-com series in the genre. I can tell you that I laughed more than I should, this might even be the funniest anime I’ve ever seen, but I haven’t seen many comedy shows, so that might be why. Together, Toradora will take you through an emotional roller coaster that will make you feel relaxed, happy, and incredibly heartbroken. Welcome to another post of my anime review and today I will be looking at the popular and critically acclaimed romance anime, Toradora!

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As a romance story, Toradora has a very simplistic premise. Takasu Ryuji is an ordinary high-school student that has scary looking eyebrow. People around him are scared of him because of his facial features despite him being a very nice person inside. A faithful encounter occurs when he accidentally took Taiga’s secret love letter back home after she mistakenly put it in the wrong bag. During the night, Taiga broke in his house in an attempt to retrieve the letter, which later transitions to the famous wooden Katana scene that you guys probably have heard of (in the picture above). Ryuji felt pretty guilty about knowing Taiga’s secret, so he told her his dirty little secrets and his collect of pictures on the person he likes. As a promise for revealing each other secrets, Ryuji and Taiga formed an alliance to fulfill each other romantic dream. As Ryuji and Taiga gets closer and closer, they realized that they might not love the person that they are trying to get, but rather the person that they are helping.

The Story for Toradora is very transitional, with the tone shifting at least twice in the story. The first half is a slower paced slice of life story filled with comedic moments and cutesy romance. Its entire tone is to make us feel comfortable with the characters as much as possible, captivating on showing a pleasant high-school experience and keep us relaxed. Nevertheless, we still see some drama going on with Taiga’s midget appearance and low-tempered personality, claiming that no one understands her. What we have here is an episodic first 12 episodes that will keep us laughing and get along with the characters with some minor drama. It also gives us the opportunity to understand the relationships with each character before moving on with the complication. I think the first half is incredibly fun to watch. There is a lot of chemistry between all 5 character from the cast and it kept a smile on my face throughout every episode.

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Here we go, you thought that part with Taiga was dramatic huh? Just wait until you get into the heartbreaking  second half. This show just did a Steins;Gate on me again. After seeing Ryuji and Taiga having their sweet romantic game for 12 episodes, we are taken back to reality. The reality of a stressful teen life, being filled with family issues, love issues, self-identify issues, trust issues, and you name it. Everything you can think about a horrible high-school experience is being thrown at you.

Let me start off with the incredible emotional battle of insincerity. We see the cast starting to doubt each other, and their relationship with each other is starting to shift. All 5 characters are now suffering from trust issues. None of the characters truthfully trust each other anymore at this point. Everyone is hiding in their own shells, refusing to reveal their own true feelings. This whole inner-conflict is a beautiful battle, allowing me to look under the lenses of every character and dig into their deepest desires. By having these desires, they realized that fulfilling what they really want will only hurt the people around them, thus explaining why everyone is so dishonest with each other. Everyone is in a emotional-trauma, hoping that no one else gets hurt. I love how I can deeply relate to this with the hedgehog dilemma; you can’t truly be close to others without hurting them. This is a difficult cycle to break, but they were eventually able to do it. Let’s go over the characters and their development throughout this battle.

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Kitamura is probably the weakest of the five because he is the least flawed out of all of them. He got his own little arc regarding his romantic problems and decided to run away from his problems. This arc gave him a boost that made him realize that changes will eventually occur and it is his responsibility to take the next step, rather than running away from his responsibilities. Other than that, he is definitely the least involved in the love drama, because he seems to understand how everyone feels. He acts rather maturely and seems to be following the flow. Overall, Kitamura is definitely the worst of the 5 cast because of his maturity, but he is no way near to be called a bad character. I feel like he is the comic relief character just because he stirs up the least amount of drama.

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Minorin is an interesting one as she is one of the major victims in this cycle of insincerity. At this point of the show, we realized that she is constantly putting up a facade, hiding her true feelings inside. She is the character that drastically changed the most (man she is pretty scary sometimes) from struggling to find what’s right for her. It all comes from her guilt for stealing Ryuji from Taiga. She deliberately cuts Ryuji off because she believes that it will keep Aisaka happy, but what about herself? Will she gain happiness by being honest and risking causing pain to others or by continuing her persona and put others ahead of herself? I feel really bad for Minori because I can totally understand that this is an incredibly hard choice and seeing her finally able to resolve the problem throughout the end (won’t spoil) made it very satisfying to see her development.

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Next we have probably the most interesting character in the show, Kawashima Ami. Ami is not your standard high-school student because she has adult experiences in her life since she works as a model as a part-time job. Ami is like an observer, keeping an eye on everyone and her ability to “mind read” people feelings. If you can tell already, Ami can understand people very well. She is probably the only person that saw through all the facade and persona from Minorin and all the insecurity in Ryuji. I especially like that part where she would constantly warn Ryuji to stop playing the “daddy”, which obviously means stop trying to hide his feelings towards Taiga and it shows that she is the only person that completely sees through Ryuji. Everyone else considers her to be mature, and how she is the person that “knows everything”. I honestly really like this kind of character, as it adds a new spice to the character diversity.

Despite her “maturity”, she has the most complex problems out of all of them. From this point and now on, don’t trust everything I say because I don’t even fully understand Ami myself. I think her problems come with being overly honest to people. Sometimes Ami feels like she is going overboard with her sincerity and that can ruin her relationship with others. Ami is some what similar to Taiga; she wants more people to understand her true nature, rather than her “maturity”. Honestly, maturity at a young age can be kind of boring, and I can get what Ami is trying to present: even if a person acts mature, it doesn’t mean that they are mature. Yes, Ami’s ability to see through people makes her mature, but is her sense of judgement and behavior adult-like? She is constantly trying to get others to be honest about their feelings, but isn’t that hypocritical? What is she doing for herself? At the end, she finally stopped harassing others, and solved her own problems. Honestly, I don’t even know what I’m talking about anymore, I will probably need a rewatch to fully understand her. Anyways, Ami could be a potential pick as my favorite character in Toradora!, mainly because she is such a unique character. What other characters made me look at the concept of maturity with a different perspective?That’s when you know whether a certain show has good character design or not.

These three are only part of the side cast and  none of them developed as much as the relationship between Ryuji and Taiga.

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The connection between Ryuji and Taiga perfectly replicates the hedgehog dilemma with how they must deal with choosing who to love without hurting others. This show takes love complicity and took it a next step, allowing us to see how going after your crush can go incredibly wrong. We see Ryuji and Taiga extremely close together, to the point where it is completely natural for them to be with each other. But when we put these characters with someone else, that connection is not there. For instance, when Taiga is in a situation with Kitamaru, it never seems like she can have a proper conversation with him, but  As the series goes on, Taiga starts to question who she really loves. Even though it is obvious that she has a crush on Kitamura, will Taiga be truly happy with him?

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Then, there’s the best and most beautiful scene in the entire show. Taiga wishes to have someone looking over her and claims that the only person that do so is Santa, which she obviously believes to be delusional. Later on, Ryuji dressed up in a bear costume to visit Aisaka when he should’ve ran towards Minori. The next 5 minutes consist of Ryuji holding Taiga and spinning her around the room and seeing Taiga leaving such a bright smile on her face made this scene special, because she will never feel this way with anyone else. This is when she realizes that her true love is Ryuji all along and she might’ve not realized it soon enough since these two are so naturally bonded, but it is quite obvious after this scene. Even though Taiga loves Ryuji, she refuses to confess to him because of Ryuji’s desire. She knows Ryuji loves Minorin – and confessing to him could potential hurt Ryuji, so she forced Ryuji to leave the apartment to get together with Kusheida, which is what she thought what he truly wanted. She is abandoning her true feelings just to satisfy him and what comes next is a very powerful moment. Taiga ran out the apartment after regretting kicking Ryuji out to chase him. Realizing it’s already too late, she broke down with tears and yelled his name as loud as she could on the street with the Lost My Piecese OST coming in. I will admit that I cried, this part got me real hard because it wasn’t contrived, it wasn’t forced, – it was real.

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I hope my character overview will convince you that Toradora is a character-driven show (my type!!), it purpose is to develop the main cast: Ryuji, Taiga, Minorin, Kitamura, and Ami. Not going to lie, Toradora cast of characters are not exceptional, at least compared to the Monogatari series or K-on, but I think when it comes to development and interaction, Toradora blew it out of the water and tt has easily the most impressive character development I’ve ever seen.

What we have here is another 10/10 show and I know I’m probably giving too many shows a 10, but Toradora is  the closest anime to the second coming of Steins;Gate. Yes that’s it, Toradora is now my 2nd favorite anime of all time (Sorry Bakemonogatari). Honestly this is actually not very rare. Before I’ve seen Steins;Gate, my favorite anime would always switch around because the next anime I watch would instantly be my favorite. I can tell you that with more anime added to my finished list, it would be even rarer and rarer to make a change to my favorite list. Keep in mind that my ratings will change. Maybe 2 years later, Toradora would be a 9, but I will constantly inform you about any changes in my favorite list so you would notice it.

Toradora left me breathless, I didn’t really expect it to leave this much impact on me. It’s almost similar to Steins;Gate, where the first half is very fun to watch, and the second half will completely blow your mind. I think Toradora transition to a full-on romance drama is handled very well. I do admit that when the show is starting to get crazy dramatic, it got a bit annoying. It’s like the show was trying to be a Rom-com and a drama at the same time. Once you reach around episode 20, the drama starts to make sense and you can piece it together. The result is a love story that teaches us what real love is.