Anime Review: Handa-kun. The comedic nonsensical “prequel” to Barakamon.

I don’t think I mentioned this in my Barakamon review, but I actually started watching Handa-kun before realizing it was a prequel. In fact I think I only found out about the show from this gif;

Japan has been fooling us all along!

That gif is actually a great example of what you can expect from the show, and to be honest if they’d dropped the idea of it being a prequel I think it would’ve made a better standalone show. Also if you’ve got the chance to watch it with the English dub, I’d highly recommend it! I only got to see the first 2 episodes that way, but I think it definitely helps with the comedic elements listening in one’s native language. At least as far as Handa-kun is involved.

Hated by everyone around him, Sei Handa goes about his high school life regarded as an outcast—or at least that’s what he believes. In reality, Sei is the most popular student on campus, revered by all for his incomparable calligraphy skills, good looks, and cool personality. However, due an endless series of misunderstandings, Handa perceives the worship he receives from his legions of fans as bullying, leading the school’s idol to shut himself off from the rest of his classmates.

But distancing himself from his peers doesn’t deter them from adoring him; in fact, his attempts at drawing attention away from himself often end up unintentionally converting even the most skeptical of students into believers. Fashion models, shut-in delinquents, obsessive fangirls, and more—none can stand against the brilliance that is Sei Handa.

[Written by MAL Rewrite]

Handa-kun has a lot of things working for it as a comedy with a funny implementation of breaking the fourth wall in the first episode, two “straight-man” characters to balance most scenes, and a variety of crazy Handa-obsessed students in every episode. However it’s when viewing it as a sequel to Barakamon that things start to unravel. In that light, Handa’s best friend, Takao Kawafuji, is actually kind of the villain of the show in a way. We learn it was because of his jealously of Handa that he told him everyone hates him. He then delights in Handa’s suffering while telling himself he’s reveal the truth some day. The show also loves to remind you it’s a prequel by showing you that Handa is allergic to cats as frequently as possible, and I don’t ever remember Handa being this dense in Barakamon.

All that said, I found the show pretty enjoyable for the most part. It’s only 12 episodes, and I managed to binge the first 10 in one day, however I did get a little bored with the show towards the end. The side characters such as those in, The Handa Force, really make this show what it is — in that way I guess it is like Barakamon. Much in the same way that Handa is always misinterpreting everyone else around him, they also misinterpret him and somehow become better people for it… Or much much worse as one girl nearly kills herself early in the show and becomes somewhat of a hitman/bodyguard for Handa shortly after.

 

Image from Jeroz on Reddit

To a degree Handa has this affect on almost every character including, or should I say mostly, those who hate him. Everyone in the Handa Force except for Yukio disliked Handa in the beginning — usually as the result of some kind of misunderstanding. Of course this being a comedy, reason goes out the window as the characters all ultimately “understand” how much Handa has “helped” them, and thus devote their lives to him. So is it really any surprise this concept gets old after a while?

But yeah, it feels a little dishonest to refer to this show as a prequel when it’s so loosely connected. Handa’s personality might be the biggest common denominator between the two series as his paranoia and otaku nature still shine through. However the insanity in Handa-kun is unparalleled even by Naru in Barakamon, and I feel like that really says something. Overall I’d say both series are worth the watch, and I’d even say the order I watched them is probably better. However I can’t stress enough that you shouldn’t go into either series carrying any expectations from the other.

This review felt a little light on substance, but sadly so did the show in many ways. However as far as visual gags go this show was a winner!

SEE YOU ANIME FANS …

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Anime Review: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Featured Image from SteamyTomato or maybe JWALL? Also just noticed the Funhaus logo on the mug ^_^

What a sweet and fun series! No wonder I finished all 13 episodes in less than 24 hours! I briefly mentioned yesterday in my First Impressions post, but I only really started this series because I saw a cosplay by Jessica Nigri as Lucoa and felt like giving it a shot. Haha that sounds a little worse than it actually is, but I don’t regret it one bit! This slice of life, fantasy, comedy is my favorite type of thing! The only downside is that there’s no second season… yet?

As office worker Kobayashi gets ready for work, she is greeted by a large dragon right outside her front door. The dragon immediately transforms into a young human female in a maid outfit, and introduces herself as Tohru. It turns out that during a drunken excursion into the mountains the night before, Kobayashi had encountered the dragon, who claims to have come from another world. Subsequently, Kobayashi had removed a holy sword from Tohru’s back, earning her gratitude. Having no place to stay, Kobayashi had offered to let the dragon stay at her home and become her personal maid, to which Tohru agreed. As Kobayashi had forgotten her drunken offering, she is initially reluctant to allow the dragon into her home despite her previous promise, but a mix of guilt and the usefulness of Tohru’s dragon abilities convinces Kobayashi to accept her. Despite being efficient at housework, Tohru’s unorthodox methods of housekeeping often end up scaring Kobayashi and bringing more trouble than help. Additionally, Tohru’s presence attracts other dragons, gods and mythical beings to her new home. – Wikipedia

Plot: 4/5

Being a slice of life, I wasn’t really expecting all that much plot progression from this series. In fact, I was a little surprised that most episodes did seem to build on one another and we learn bits and pieces about each character. We’re often only hinted at their pasts however which really makes me want to read the manga! I would be willing to bump the score if a second season is made.

Art: 4/5

While there wasn’t anything wrong with this series’ animation, there wasn’t a whole lot that stuck out really. It’s receiving a higher rating than I would’ve otherwise given for branching out with character models a bit. Most of the girls are actually thicc (lol may be the first time I’ve actually used that term) instead of the typical stick figures, and one of the dragons, Fafnir, takes a human form that greatly resembles Sebastian from Black Butler! I also think the show did a great job with the design of their dragons. I don’t typically like dragons besides the shenlong or tianlong kind with the long bodies, but this show made them look really cool!

Characters: 5/5

Seriously I loved all of these characters! The only possible exception would be Miss Kobayashi’s cowoker, Takiya, who goes full otaku with the spiral glasses and buckteeth from time to time. However every other character had their own traits that made them quite lovable. Fafnir for his hikikomori game-obsessed lifestyle, Lucoa for her succubus-like advances on her master, Elma for her passion for food, Kanna for her innocent childish behavior, Tohru for her love for Kobayashi, and Kobayashi for her umm… back pain? Kidding kidding! I actually loved Kobayashi’s character because she proves to be such a kind-hearted, mothering person. She’s always looking out for Tohru and Kanna and they look out for her in return.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid: 4.5/5

I just couldn’t bring myself to leave it at four. This series may not be for everyone, but I certainly enjoyed it. I’m actually hoping to find the Japanese manga so I can enjoy reading it while learning the language. Hopefully that doesn’t ruin the fun of reading it, but we’ll have to see. Anyway, if you’re a fan of slice of life, easygoing anime, you can’t go wrong with this show!

Short Anime Review: Shirokuma Cafe (Polar Bear Cafe)

Shirokuma Cafe is a slice of life, slapstick anime that uses Japanese wordplay as a convenient way to help teach Japanese. It’s primary audience may child younger children, but for someone hoping to learn the language it can be a valuable show to watch. The story focuses around the everyday lives of a group of animals mingling with humans at a café run by a polar bear.


Main characters

Polar Bear (シロクマ Shirokuma)
Voiced by: Takahiro Sakurai
A polar bear who runs Polar Bear’s Café, which serves organic foods and drinks and is popular with both humans and animals. He has a habit of making bad puns with his customers and friends, just for the amusement of hearing their retorts. He was born in Hudson’s Bay, Canada.

Panda (パンダ Panda)
Voiced by: Jun Fukuyama
A lazy, somewhat dimwitted, and kind-hearted giant panda who works part-time at a zoo. He enjoys lazing around and eating bamboo and only orders iced coffee at the café until Polar Bear adds bamboo to the menu only for his sake. He is obsessed with all panda products and has a tendency to point out his popularity at the zoo and his own cuteness.

Penguin (ペンギン Pengin)
Voiced by: Hiroshi Kamiya
An emperor penguin (コウテイペンギン Kōtei Pengin, also his legal name) and a frequent customer of the café and friend of Polar Bear who generally orders a cafe mocha. He generally serves as the tsukkomi to the antics of Polar Bear and Panda. He has a crush on another penguin named Penko, and eventually upon learning that Penko has six sisters identical to her, he ends up dating them all. However, Penguin’s inability to get their names right sets off a chain of events that lead to them dumping him.
Sadly couldn’t find a good gif for Sasako
Sasako (笹子)
Voiced by: Aya Endo
A human girl who works at the Polar Bear’s Cafe. She used to live in the same town as Llama and her hobby is to take rides on her bicycle. Although not fond of scary stories, she’s great at telling them, even making Mr. Handa faint of hearing it.

– Wikipedia


Overall the show is cute and easygoing. My favorite character is by far the polar bear, though he has a grizzly bear friend that I enjoy as well. I can’t necessarily say the show has taught me a ton of Japanese as I’ve already taken quite a few classes in the subject already, but I would say it’s akin to a Japanese Dora the Explorer. So if you’re looking to kill some time and expand your vocabulary, I’d recommend checking it out on Crunchyroll!

Anime Review: Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai (I don’t have many friends)

First things first if you find yourself wanting to watch this show, be very careful of where you watch. I don’t just mean your physical location, though that’s certainly a factor, but the source you’re watching from as well. I found out you might get more than you bargained for if you accidentally stumbled upon the Blu-ray version… Anywho the show is available on Hulu, so if you’re willing to put up with some ads or have an account all should be good. Also here is a link to my “First Impressions” for the show from a few days ago. I feel like it might be helpful before going into this, but it’s really up to you. Now for the review.

Major spoilers ahead!

Kodaka Hasegawa, a transfer student to St. Chronica’s Academy, has found it difficult to make friends because of his mix of brown-blond hair (inherited from his deceased English mother) and fierce-looking eyes that make him look like a delinquent. One day, he accidentally comes across the equally solitary and very abrasive Yozora Mikazuki as she converses with “Tomo”, her “air” (imaginary) friend. Realizing that they lack social lives and skills, they decide that the best way to improve their situation is to form the Neighbors Club (隣人部Rinjin-bu), “an after-school club for people with no friends like themselves”. Other students with various backgrounds join the club: Sena Kashiwazaki is an attractive but arrogant idol who has no female friends and treats the boys as her slaves; Yukimura Kusunoki is an effeminate underclassman who idolizes Kodaka and strives to become manly like him; Rika Shiguma is a genius scientist with a twisted and perverted mind; Kobato Hasegawa is Kodaka’s little sister who generally cosplays as a vampire; and Maria Takayama, a ten-year-old nun who serves as the club’s advisor. The story follows their adventures as the club tries out various school and outside social activities as practice for making friends. – Wikipedia

Oh and one more thing I wanted to point out before we go any further. I’ve only watched the subs of the anime, but I hear the dub is actually really entertaining. I can only imagine with some of the lewd things they force Sena to read aloud!

Now then, as the Wikipedia summary points out above, our harem’s protagonist, Kodaka, is finding it hard to make friends because of this mixed hair and RBF (resting bitch face). I actually found the concept kind of funny because I’ve heard of blond hair being a sign of delinquency for guys in Japan, but I’ve never seen RBF applied to a guy before. To be honest, it wasn’t that believable as plenty of anime guys have naturally meaner faces than Kodaka, but the show does a decent job of exhibiting it when needed.

Speaking of Kodaka, this show introduced a concept in the harem genre I’d never really considered before. Rika actually considers at one point that Kodaka is purposefully acting dense, but is actually fully aware of how everyone feels about him. What’s interesting about this show compared to all the others is that we find out she’s actually right for the most part. The clichéd, “What was that? I didn’t hear you.”, moments are all just his way of keeping things normal and preventing romantic plot developments. I thought this was a brilliant introduction, and it actually makes me wonder if all guys in the genre do the same thing! (Relax I know they’re not real ^_^)

This show also did a pretty good job with the characters in my opinion. Though we don’t see a ton of development, the pacing was much faster than your traditional harem/slice of life. One of the seemingly most important plot points, Kodaka and Yozora’s childhood friendship, gets fleshed out in the first season! The viewer isn’t stuck knowing this information for seasons on end waiting for the protagonist to catch up? What a breath of fresh air! I know we don’t find out until the end of the first season in a two season show, but still it’s a nice change of pace.

By the time we get to the second season, I was actually pretty surprised that I felt conflicted about the romance. Until the final episode of the first season I was kinda hoping for something between Kodaka and Sena. But in the second season Sena doesn’t show much character and Yozora really seems like the right choice. However when it’s revealed that Kodaka’s and Sena’s fathers had arraigned for their engagement when they were young, it really seems like the show was pushing for them. Of course we’re left with a crazy cliffhanger after Sena confesses and we never get a straight answer from Kodaka.

I guess that brings us to a part of the review I’m not thrilled about. It doesn’t look like this series is getting another season, but it desperately needs one. There are numerous, interesting plot points that go completely unresolved. Does the gang go after Yozora after she disappears? Why is Sena’s father so obsessed with Kodaka? Just what the fuck is a yaoi hole?!?… and do I really want to know? It’s looking like I may actually have to read the light novels to get the answers I want.

Did that review sound similar to anything else I’ve reviewed recently? Because it sure as hell reminded me A LOT of Nisekoi while I was watching it. I still don’t know how I feel about that, but so many of the characters seemed interchangeable! Kodaka = Raku plain and simple, Yozora has characteristics of Chitoge and maybe Ruri. Sena has characteristics of Chitoge and Tsugumi, Yukimura = Tsugumi, Rika has characteristics of Tachibana but smarter, and Kobato and Maria are basically like a more forward Haru — though far less mature and honestly the weakest parts of the how. The three main character just happen to have met and been friends/engaged from a young age? Maybe I’m reading between the lines too much, and sure these traits are pretty common, but I just couldn’t get the thought out of my head!

Oh and we also find out that the effeminate Yukimura is a girl after all! Go figure.

Overall this show went way beyond my expectations when I found out what it was. The characters were funny, I was always surprised by the amount of cursing, it was nice to see them all become friends, and I fell in love with the second OP! It was a truly enjoyable watch that flew by before I knew it.

Review Lightning Round!

Plot: 3/5

Quite enjoyable, but too many loose ends. Interesting, but underdeveloped characters.

Art: 4/5

Though nothing special in terms of animation, there were cut-scenes in the show with live action girls with bits of the animation playing on their shirts. I thought this was an interesting element I haven’t seen in other shows.

Sound: 5/5

Dialogue was hilarious, and I hear the English dub is even funnier. I know sound usually has more to do with the actual audio, but I think that was done well too* — tries not to remember the “mooooo” every time Sena’s breasts took up the screen.

Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai receives 4/5

I’m trying not to fault the show too much for it’s lack of seasons, but if I were to take that fully into account this would probably have been a 2.5/5. I know it’s usually not the creator’s fault though, and I did really enjoy what they did manage to put out. If you’re a fan of the harem/slice of life genre you should definitely give it a shot!

Now for today’s ending question. Who would you rather Kodaka end up with, Yozora or Sena? Maybe Rika?

Oh hey gifs!

Anime Review: Your lie in April

This show had a pretty quick turnaround from my first impressions post earlier last week, but I got a little caught up in it and couldn’t stop watching. It reminded me of Kids on the Slope from time to time as well as shows like Clannad, Anohana and Angel Beats. I didn’t necessarily go into this show with high expectations, but I knew the show was loved by many. I just didn’t yet know why.

Warning! Major spoiler ahead!

Music accompanies the path of the human metronome, the prodigious pianist Kousei Arima. But after the passing of his mother, Saki Arima, Kousei falls into a downward spiral, rendering him unable to hear the sound of his own piano.

Two years later, Kousei still avoids the piano, leaving behind his admirers and rivals, and lives a colorless life alongside his friends Tsubaki Sawabe and Ryouta Watari. However, everything changes when he meets a beautiful violinist, Kaori Miyazono, who stirs up his world and sets him on a journey to face music again.

Based on the manga series of the same name, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso approaches the story of Kousei’s recovery as he discovers that music is more than playing each note perfectly, and a single melody can bring in the fresh spring air of April.

[Written by MAL Rewrite]

The early episodes of this series are fairly lighthearted while the main focus is on Kousei’s recovery as a musician. We’re first introduced to his childhood friends Tsubaki and Watari. Shortly after he encounters Kaori who they’re trying to help set up with Watari. When they first encounter, Kousei hears her playing a melodica and tries to take a picture. Right as he takes it however a gust of wind lifts her skirt, forever cementing their angry tsundere-like relationship. Oddly enough though, Kaori makes it her mission to help Kousei become a musician again as it seems he was pretty famous two years ago before he stopped playing. We get a few hints early on that Tsubaki is jealous of Kaori’s relationship with Kousei, and of Kousei’s jealousy towards Watari’s relationship with Kaori. And anime being as anime is, these feelings are rarely if ever properly expressed — though I will say this show does a much better job than many others.

Along the way, we’re also introduced to a series of interesting side characters all with some kind of connection to Kousei and the piano. We have Takeshi Aiza, who’s aim was always to catch up and surpass Kousei, his hero, on the piano since watching him play at a young age. We’re also introduced to Emi Igawa, who like Takeshi, was inspired at a young age by Kousei to become a musician. There’s also subtle evidence she has a crush on him. Next we have Hiroko Seto, a famous pianist and Kousei’s mother’s close friend from college. She eventually mentors Kousei once he picks the piano back up. Finally we have the younger sister of Takeshi, Nagi Aiza, a young girl, (a year younger than Kousei, but this anime shows crazy character differences in age) who is mentored by Kousei at Hiroko’s request. They perform a duet together at a school festival to the dismay of Takeshi, but it gives Nagi a great deal of growth as a musician. There are a few other prominent side characters as well, but I feel they’re slightly less central to the plot.

Unfortunately, love and music aren’t the only driving forces of this series as we discover that Kaori has some form of chronic illness. She plays it off initially as being anemic and hitting her head, but over time it’s revealed to be much more serious. Fans have speculated she had ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, but the show never actually names it. Kousei is one of the first characters to realize the severity of Kaori’s illness, and she eventually confirms it. This realization, as well as the similarities leading to his mother’s death, send Kousei into depression. He’s constantly haunted by flashbacks of his mother and her abusive teaching methods, and we eventually learn that his last words to her were saying that she should just die already… (No wonder this kid has such a complex surrounding the piano)

It’s also around this time that both Kousei and Tsubaki realize their true feelings. Kousei realizes his love for Kaori first, and so sets the way for a relapse of depression if she dies like his mother. Tsubaki on the other hand doesn’t realize her feelings until Kousei talks about leaving home to become a famous musician. She’s devastated to learn that the boy she always considered her kid brother will no longer be by her side. What we end up with is a sad parallel where nobody seems to get what they want.

Eventually Tsubaki confronts Kousei about both of their loves, telling him that Kaori likes Takeshi so Kousei has no choice but to love her… before kicking him and running away. Likewise, just as Kousei openly admits his feelings for Kaori, she has a medical emergency before he has a chance to tell her. Moments later, Kousei witnesses a car hit the black cat he and Kaori were so fond of, and races it to a vet for treatment. However it was too late for the cat.. and for Kaori, as she’s sent to the ICU. As Kousei begins to shut down again, he starts to wonder if the piano only brings him pain. Their next encounter is just before his next competition when she informs him that it’s the same day she’ll be undergoing surgery. He goes into the competition a pale, uncomposed mess. He cries at the piano. It’s doubtful he’ll even plan… until Tsubaki sneezes in the audience, waking him from his trance. He plays a beautiful but sorrowful performance, one that is eventually met with a phantom of Kaori playing the violin in a parade of colors. They finally play their last duet.

The next scene is Kaori’s funeral, and her parents give Kousei a letter from her:

Dear Arima Kousei,
It feels weird writing a letter to someone you were just with…
You’re the worst.
Indecisive. Gullible. Twit.
The first time I ever saw you perform, I was 5 years old. It was at a recital for the piano school I was going to. This awkward, clumsy kid came onto the stage and accidentally hit the piano stool with his butt. It was too funny. He turned to the piano that was way too big for him and the moment he played that first note, I was drawn in.
The sound was beautiful, like a 24-colour palette. The melodies danced.
The girl next to me started crying. I wasn’t expecting that at all.
And even so, you gave up the piano. Even though it totally changed other people’s lives. You’re the worst. Indecisive. Gullible. Twit.
(Cut to Kaori as a kid, telling her parents she’s giving up piano for violin because she wants Kousei to play for her.)
When I found out we were in the same middle school, I was ecstatic. But how would I ever come to talk to you? Maybe I’d hang out at the lunch concession. Instead, I just watched you from afar.
I mean. After all. You all seemed to get along so well. There wasn’t really any space in there for someone like me.
When I was a kid, I had to have an operation and I started having to be at the hospital for regular check-ups. In the first year of middle school, I collapsed and I was admitted over and over. With every visit, I was there for longer and longer. Really, I didn’t get to class much in middle school, I spent more time at the hospital. And I knew something was wrong with my body.
One night, I saw my parents crying in the waiting room and I knew that my time was running out.
That’s when I ran away.
I didn’t want to bring my regrets with me to heaven, so I stopped holding back from what the things I always wanted to do.
I wasn’t scared anymore to get contact lenses.
I ate what I wanted instead of always worrying about my weight.
And I took the music with all its high and mighty directives and played it the way I wanted.
And then I told a lie. Just one.
I lied and said that I, Miyazono Kaori, liked Watari Ryouta.
And that lie brought you to me.
Please apologize to Watari for me… though I’m sure he’s forgotten me by now
I think I need someone more wholehearted and earnest than him.
I think we’d be fine as friends though.
And please apologize to Tsubaki for me too.
I want for there to be no hard feelings. And there was one thing I could never ask of her, to ask her directly to introduce the two of us.
I don’t think she would’ve had an answer for me.
After all, she was in love with you.
We all knew that.
I think the only people who didn’t know were you and her.
That underhanded lie brought me to you didn’t work out the way I had imagined.
It was darker.
And meaner.
And denser.
And more stubborn.
And more perverted.
And softer.
And more masculine.
And sweet.
Remember that bridge we jumped off? The water was so cool and refreshing.
Racing each other alongside the train. I really thought I could win.
The moon we saw from the music room that night, like a delicious-looking bun.
Singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with you as we rode on that bike together. Then falling out time. We’re awful singers.
At the school at night. I’m still sure there was something there.
The falling snow, just like cherry blossoms.
It’s strange to be a musician, but then to have your heart so filled by something that comes from off-stage
They’re unforgettable scenes to me. But they’re such little things. It’s weird, isn’t it?
What do you think?
Do you think I made it into anyone’s heart like that?
I wonder if I made it into yours.
I wonder if you’ll still remember me.
If you forget me, I’ll just come back and..
No, I don’t want to start over.
Please don’t forget me.
Promise me you won’t forget me.
I’m glad it was you.
I hope this reaches you, Arima Kousei.
I love you.
I love you.
I love you.
I’m sorry we couldn’t eat all those canelés.
I’m sorry I hit you so much.
I’m sorry I was so selfish.
Over a million times sorry.
Thank you for everything.
Miyazono Kaori

Sorry for including the whole thing, but I feel like it was the most touching way to end the series. It’s a little off from the one in the anime, but considering it’s half the last episode I couldn’t bring myself to keep watching over and over. Legit had me tearing when she finally told him she loved him. Honestly considering how much emotion is packed into this series I’m surprised I didn’t cry more. After Kousei finishes reading the letter, Tsubaki is there to comfort him as the show ends. They wrapped it up beautifully with finesse.

Review:

Plot: 5/5

There was never really a point in the plot where I felt something was missing, and the story flowed well the entire time. We’re introduced to a series of devices that make abstract concepts more relatable as well. Some such as synethesia, or the overlapping of sense, explain the emotion behind the music using colors, smells, or even tastes. Others such as projection are used to reveal the past. Examples of this include Kousei’s interactions with a black cat in which he’s reminded of his mother, or even when he sees his mother in her usual place. Another important element are the characters’ self-identities. Kousei constantly questions his, asking if he’s anything more than a pianist, eventually defining himself as many things including a voyeur, substitute, baggage handler, and accompanist. We also see this question from a variety of other characters as well. Tsubaki for instance wonders who she is in relation to Kousei quite often. These subtle additions to the story are a significant part of what make it so fascinating and relatable. Do I wish certain things about the show were different? Of course I do. My heart still feels like it’s breaking because of Kaori’s death. But it was a somewhat unexpected ending that made the show stronger than it would’ve been otherwise.

Art: 5/5

This was a no-brainer. The anime industry in general could learn a thing or two from this show, but I suppose it’s to be expected from A-1 Studios. Honestly though the art in this series was a few steps above the rest. Sure there are more beautifully done anime, but they are few and far between — and usually produced by the same people.

Let me put it this way. I don’t know that I’ll ever hear classical music without this show in mind ever again. Same thing happened with Cowboy Bebop and Jazz. I’ll be imagining the cherry blossom petals raining down, or the snow turning into an iridescent frenzy. It will probably bring both happy reminiscence and stabbing pain at the same time. And oddly enough I’m looking forward to it.

Sound: 5/5

See Art above. No kidding, we’re talking some of the best in classical music, so this is a no-brainer as well. Even the voice acting was great so no complaints there either. The variation of playing styles was actually one of the most enjoyable aspects of the show as I wasn’t actually aware some of them were even possible. I’m not really a music buff, so I was fairly shocked to learn just how much emotion could be packed into dead and bland songs I’ve heard a million times. Stunning.

Enjoyment: 5/5

Your lie in April isn’t your typical show. I would put it up there with Miyazaki films for its ability to tell a story in a somewhat unique way. The color, the sound, the allusions, the subtleness, the character flaws, etc etc. all did their parts magnificently. If I had to describe this show in one word it would be bittersweet. However this isn’t a show that should be defined through words, but through music.

Your lie in April

Receives a solid 5/5

So what did you think of the review? Are these longer ones better or worse than the short ones? I definitely like writing them, but they’re probably a bit of a drag to read huh?

Manga Review: Nisekoi (False Love)

What’s this? A manga review? Well that’s new isn’t it? I don’t believe I’ve ever reviewed a manga before. Or finished one for that matter. But this is a special occasion as I’ve officially read all 229 chapters of Nisekoi! It’s been a pretty funny journey over the past couple of years. I was introduced to the series through the first season of the anime, and even read past the second season before it was even released. I stopped reading however as I didn’t want to read week-to-week, and wonder if I ever would’ve finished the series if Wikipedia hadn’t spoiled the ending for me. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, so I’ll start the review with something Wikipedia should’ve kept it mind!

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!

Nisekoi follows high school students Raku Ichijo, the son of a leader in the yakuza faction Shuei-Gumi, and Chitoge Kirisaki, the daughter of a boss in a rival gang known as Beehive. They unexpectedly meet when Chitoge hops a wall and knees Raku in the face. After she runs off, Raku realizes he has lost his locket which was given to him by his childhood sweetheart with whom he made a secret promise. After discovering Chitoge is a new transfer student in his class, he forces her to help him look for the locket. During the search, they begin to dislike each other.

Upon returning home, Raku learns that the Shuei-Gumi and Beehive gangs have agreed to settle their feud by pairing their leaders’ children. Raku learns that his girlfriend-to-be is none other than Chitoge. For the next three years, they must pretend to be in a relationship to maintain peace between the gangs. This turns out to be quite a challenging task, not only because of their hatred for one another, but also because Raku has a crush on another schoolmate, Kosaki Onodera, whom he secretly wishes was the girl who bears the key to his locket. Various developments complicate the situation, including Chitoge’s over-protective bodyguard, a female hitman, a girl who claims to be Raku’s fiancée, and the existence of multiple keys. Yui Kanakura, the newly appointed head of the Char Siu Mafia and Raku’s childhood friend, also joins in as a fiancee with yet another key to the locket.

After numerous adventures with the girls, Raku realizes he has fallen for both Chitoge and Kosaki. When Chitoge learns that Raku and Kosaki have liked each other since they were in middle school, she tries to support their relationship by leaving Japan. This prompts Raku and the others to look for her. They discover more about the book that tells the story of the keys, and recall more of what actually happened ten years ago. Although it is revealed that Kosaki was the girl Raku had made the promise to marry, Raku realizes he now loves Chitoge and professes his love to her. The manga ends with the series’ characters preparing for Raku and Chitoge’s wedding. – Wikipedia

Told you it was spoiler heavy didn’t I? I suppose there’s not a lot else I could add to that in terms of plot, but I do honestly feel like that summation doesn’t do this rom-com justice by any means. However I’ll still try to give it a fair review. And while a lot of fans and readers expressed disappointment with the way the series ended, I’d like to present my case for why it was actually very well done. No it’s not just because I preferred Chitoge (biased much?), or because it was set up as the main romance of the plot from the beginning. But I will concede that the ending felt rushed in terms of time between confession to marriage. Also some of the gifs and images I use in the post will come from the anime as they’re the characters’ (voices and mannerisms) I experienced while reading the manga. It just fits okay?

Enter Chitoge Kirisaki, the cute, colorful, super-strong, rude, mobster daughter. When we’re first introduced to her, like Raku, I couldn’t stand her. I was full steam ahead on the Kosaki train. However I had my suspicions with her being a main heroine in this harem series that she would soon be redeemed. I was… kind of right? Okay so it took a little while since she was always full tsundere mode, but if nothing else it quickly became apparent that she wasn’t a bad person. She was more or less dealing with a forced relationship with someone she didn’t know or like. However the signs were all there from the beginning. She gives Raku a nickname “bean sprout” which is oddly both insulting and endearing. She’s insanely jealous when the other girls get his attention. She even sees that he’s a very caring person whom she may have judged incorrectly. They may have started out hating each other, but they overcome multiple hardships by helping each other out and bonding all the while.

Of course it’s a little unfortunate that she realized her true feelings so much sooner than Raku unraveled his. If anything that clueless bean sprout did his best to ruin the series, but these are the woes of every harem series it seems. It only took Chitoge a year to realize her feelings, two to act on them, and the third to confess. Raku and Kosaki however probably could’ve gone their whole lives without ever acting on their feelings if it weren’t for the constant prodding of others.

Here’s where I suspect I’ll lose a lot of people as it seems Kosaki was the people’s true choice. However if you hear me out I think we might find that things would never have worked out between her and Raku. I’m not saying it was the best choice Naoshi Komi could’ve made writing this series, but I think this ending was the only way it could’ve gone. Let me explain.

Since when!?
We’re told several times in this series that both Raku and Kosaki have had a crush on each other since junior high. Actually since ten to twelve years ago, but that’s beside the point. These two have been nervous, emotional train-wrecks around each other for years. But not even during their confessions are they on a first name basis. They’re pushed into romantic situations every other day, but always eagerly put each other into the friend-zone to avoid potential embarrassment. To me at least, it seems they’ve idealized their relationship, so intensely and for so long, to the point where they cherish the idea of becoming a couple more than actually pursuing it.

Hell even I want to root for Kosaki
Now don’t get me wrong. If Chitoge had never entered the picture I suspect that Kosaki and Raku would have ended up together. However I highly doubt it would’ve happened before their senior year, and even then I think it’s more likely to have happened in college. But this wasn’t a series set between two lovers with the occasional romantic rivalry popping up — only to be shot down by the end of the episode by the strength of their love. No no no. This was a harem series with two main “potential” rivals who happened to become best friends.

The problem for Kosaki lies with the very name of the game — False Love. Raku and Chitoge didn’t start all lovey-dovey, but were forced to be together as a fake couple. Sure Raku admits he finds Chitoge attractive, but it’s her personality and their dynamic growing over time that makes him realize he loves her. We see development in her character as she’s revealed to be more than just a gorilla-woman, but someone who also cares for others and is actually quite delicate inside. Whereas the biggest character development we get for Kosaki is 225 chapters of courage building. Until her confession, she remains a largely static character. A nice, sweet, loving girl, but an unchanging one. It could be argued that even other girls in the harem potentially had a better chance than Kosaki. They all have most of Kosaki’s good aspects, but something to add to them as well.

In the end though I understand where Kosaki fans are coming from. I’ve been especially critical of her for reasons not everyone can understand. To those who have read the manga, I’d say it’s the same reason Tachibana hated the other girls. To those who haven’t, I’d say it’s regret. That sinking feeling in your chest when you could’ve gone after something you wanted but didn’t because you figured it was unobtainable, or maybe you didn’t deserve it. Maybe you even changed your mind and did try, only to find out you were too late. In short, I see Kosaki as a metaphor for ones’ head in the clouds and Chitoge as one living more in the moment. Whereas Kosaki reluctantly decides to continue working in her mother’s bakery, Chitoge takes a new path as a fashion designer and model. I believe this story was subtly telling it’s readers to chase your dreams while you can or to “enjoy your youth properly”. If you do, you might get your happy ending.


Plot: 3/5

Nothing too original or bold, but I did enjoy the selective character development. Honestly not to much too add here after what I’ve written above.

Artwork: 4/5

If I were reviewing the anime this would’ve easily been a 5/5. In fact, it’s the vibrant colors that got me watching the show to begin with. However this being my first manga review, it only feels right to go by it. I don’t have any grand complaints as far as the art goes. It was well done and rarely seemed lazy or confusing. I constantly found myself reading 25+ chapters a day which I think had a lot to do with how digestible the drawings were. I especially loved the outrageous or chibi designs that were sometimes included.

Enjoyment Value: 5/5

Otherwise known as the “fun value”, I think this category is necessary to convey the humor and emotion this show evokes. I’m sure my roommate was a little worried hearing me laughing erratically from the other room one moment, and tearing up the next. When you think of harem series I don’t know if you’re supposed to expect an emotional roller-coaster but Nisekoi delivers anyways.

I give Nisekoi a 4/5

It was a fun read and I’m a little sad that it’s over. I wonder if anyone has a similar manga/anime to recommend to me to fill this void in my soul?

 

Also more gifs! I doubt I’ll be reviewing the show unless they decide to finish it someday, so I wanted to share some of these great clips I found while writing this review!

Another Top 10 Voice Actors!

Come now you didn’t really think I’d just post one of these and wait too long before posting another did you? There are far FAR too many talented VAs out there for that! And again remember I don’t care too much for the particular order except of course when it comes to my number ones.

#10: Todd Haberkorn

Whether he’s voicing Death the Kid (Soul Eater), Allen Walker (D.Gray-man), Ling Yao (Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood), or even Raki (Claymore), Haberkorn’s iconic voice is always recognizable. Don’t let his soft tone fool you though, he’s also capable of characters such as Natsu Dragneel (Fairy Tail).

#9: Laura Bailey

Another iconic Soul Eater/FMA star (she plays Maka Albarn and Lust respectively!), Laura Bailey’s voice always brings me back to Dragon Ball Z where she voices Kid Trunks as well as young Dende and Marron. I’m also just discovering she’s also married to the next person on our list.

#8: Travis Willingham

We all know and love him as Roy Mustang in Fullmetal Alchemist, but did you know he’s also a voice is [insert favorite video-game here]? Seriously love this guy’s serious voice, and think it’s just lovely that he’s married to Laura Bailey.

#7: Michael Jones

It was only a matter of time before someone from Rooster Teeth/Achievement Hunter made it onto this list. Michael (Rage Quit) Jones is one of my favorite online comedians, but he’s also been in featured films and VA for anime such as Fairy Tail and RWBY. He’s also technically the first member of Rooster Teeth I met in person, which is a funny but long story. Guy is WAY sweeter than his old Rage Quit videos would lead you to believe!

#6: Jen Taylor

Most famous for her role as Cortana in the Halo franchise, Jen Taylor is also the voices of Princess Peach in Mario and Salem/Narrator for RWBY. I really hope she decides to do more animation because her voice absolutely kills it!

#5: John DiMaggio

Let’s be honest, you probably already know who John DiMaggio is because he’s in so many things. Most know him as Bender from Futurama, but I actually prefer him as Jake the Dog in Adventure Time. Hmm wonder why ^_^

He is also the executive producer/narrator of I Know That Voice, a documentary about the world of voice acting, along with producer Tommy Reid and director Lawrence Shapiro.

#4: Peter Cullen

I didn’t know it until fairly recently, but Peter Cullen voiced a good portion of my childhood. From Optimus Prime to several characters in G.I. Joe to even Eeyore. He may not be one of the greatest or most popular, but I’d say he’s definitely underrated.

#3: Billy West

“Good news everybody!”

This guy practically is Futurama, voicing Phillip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Zap Brannigan, Dr. Zoidberg, as well as several others. In fact there are several scenes in the series where whole dialogues are done by him.

#2: Ron Perlman

Perlman just has the voice of a bad guy. Maybe it’s from his time voicing Slade in Teen Titans or The Lich in Adventure Time, but whenever I hear it I know we’ve met a true villain. Even when he voices Hellboy I get the feeling something is about to go wrong.

#1: Veronica Taylor

Veronica Taylor is Ash Ketchum. Yeah that Ash Ketchum. The OG Pokemon trainer she voiced for the first eight seasons. But she didn’t stop there. She’s also been in series such as Mobile Suit Gundam, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Sailor Moon, Berserk, and one of my guilty pleasures – Ah! My Goddess!


Well that about does it for this list. I’m sure there will be another one soon, but I’ve got another list I’m working on in the meantime. Until then, who’s your favorite VA (both on and off this list)!?