This is a reblog of my site http://geekysweetie.com – Other stuff may appear here such as reblogs from other wordpress.com sites. I blog and reblog about anime, video games, kdrama, toys, technology, and kawaii fashion and decor.
I went to see My Neighbor Totoro subbed last night as part of the 2017 GKids Studio Ghiblifest. The theater I went to seemed to have a fairly good turnout for the show, but not as popular as the theatrical SailorMoon Release which I reviewed here (dub) and here (sub)
Still it is nice to see anime getting more coverage in theaters. I drove almost an hour to go see Totoro, but it was still closer than the nearly 2 hour drive I made (twice) to go see Sailor Moon. It’s also awesome to see old anime like Totoro from the 80s and SailorMoon from the 90s finally on the big screen!
The excitement of seeing such childhood favorite films on the silverscreen inspired me to want to do a review for Totoro today.
Also be sure to check out the Studio Ghiblifest home page, there will be other Studio Ghibli films in theaters all summer long, with the next one being Kiki’s Delivery Service on July 23 (dub) and 24 (sub). I like Kiki’s Delivery Service so much, that I might just go to both of them :).
Onto the review:
Title: My Neighbor Totoro
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Release Date: 1988
Genre: Slice of Life, Adventure, Fantasy
Geeky: 2/5 This film is beautiful to watch, even now, 20 years after its initial release. But plot wise, this is a very slow moving film, slow and uneventful for almost the entire film, and then insanely rushed in the last 10-15 minutes of the film. Actually the ending feels really disjointed from the rest of the film and you can read about that under the Conspiracy Theory below. The languid plot and ending that feels out of place make this a hard film to like, unless you’re watching it for the beautiful backgrounds and cute characters. Systematically though, I can’t give it high “technical” points due to the poor writing.
Sweetie: 4/5 Like most Ghibli films, this is super charming with a lot of heart. It depicts every day life of two little girls living in a new home in the forest with their father as they wait for their mother to return from a hospital. The girls encounter magical creatures, and those creatures are super adorable to boot. Blending slice of life in traditional Japan in a quiet countryside rural village, alongside the mystical and fantastical secret world that only the girls can see, and all the new magical friends they make, this tale is full of sweet cute moments sure to appeal to anyone looking for a kawaii cute family friendly and feel good anime. — It loses one point because there is no plot or character development. Unlike other Ghibli films, this one just never seems to get off the ground or accomplish much.
Story: 6/10 The story is a slice of life look at the life of 2 very young girls. Their mother is sick in the hospital with some unexplained illness, and their father has just decided to move the family to a new home in the country, thinking the fresh air from the trees would be good for his wife once she returns back home. While exploring their new surroundings, the two girls stumble upon a magical creature which they dub Totoro. Their father says Totoro is a very old forest spirit, and the father, along with Totoro, teaches the young girls to love and respect nature.
Characters: 9/10 The real reason to watch this show is because all of the characters are cute, unique, heart warming, and funny. Not just the adorable Totoro and his friends, but also the human children. The anime puts a lot of work into making us like and care about the girls and their father. In fact, the entire film, until the very end, is just day to day stuff that the girls find exciting about their new home, or sharing loving family moments with their father. — That said, unlike most Ghibli films, there’s really no character “development” the characters do not change much at all throughout the movie. This, combined with a very slow moving plot, makes the anime feel slow and sleepy at times.
Conspiracy Theory: If you’ve already seen the film, here’s something you may be interested in reading. There are spoilers below here, so proceed at your own risk.
By the way have you heard the conspiracy theory that Totoro is actually a Shinigami and that the girls both die in the film? After watching the film again last night, this seems likely. Studio Ghibli denies those rumors and has even gone as far as asking fans to please stop talking about it.
A Shinigami is angel of death, often appearing to children who are about to die and taking comforting forms such as animals etc to help children cross over. Look at other anime such as Full Moon Wo Sagashite and how “cute” the Shinigami appear there. One of the Shinigami in Full Moon Wo Sagashite is even a white rabbit and there is a very old folk tale / superstition about white rabbits. It says if one appears in a village where someone is very sick, that person is sure to pass away soon. This same superstition is also tied to another superstition that says if you say “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” (note 3 rabbits) on the first and last day of the month, you will have good luck. And in the movie, there are 3 Totoro (who look very much like rabbits to me). Also the Totoro could be symbolic of the girls and the mother themselves! Mei says there is one GREAT BIG Totoro, a “little” Totoro, and a “tiny” Totoro. The big one could represent the mother, the little one the older sister, and the tiny one the young sister.
Even though Studio Ghibli wants these rumors to end, they just won’t die. And with the re-release of the theatrical movie, we can be sure more and more people will be looking for these clues and debating about if Totoro is actually the god of death.
Most of the film is very cute and innocent, with not much going on. It’s a slice of life about 2 little girls living in a new home with their father in the country side. They go to school, pray at the shrine, play in the forest, and take baths and have dinners with their father. But the ending of the film is just so dark and creepy and weird compared to the rest of the film; for me the biggest clue is when the nanny asks Satsuki if it is Mei’s shoe. Satsuki tells her it’s not, and she does this very quickly without even really looking at the shoe. When she tells her this, the old woman’s face is NOT one of relief (Thank goodness Mei is still alive), but one of sadness, there’s even a tear in her eye, and disappointment (in Satsuki not being able to face reality and accept the death of her sister.) the Granny tries to stop Satsuki from looking for Mei, but Satsuki runs off anyways.
From there, the last 10 minutes or so of the film, feel dark and different. As the sun is literally setting in the film, and time is running out to find Mei, everything begins to get really demented looking.
The catbus even explicitly SAYS he’s going to the GRAVE as his next stop to FIND MEI.
In the end, when the girls are in the tree, the mother in the hospital looks out the window and says she could have sworn she saw her children laughing in the tree, but the father cannot see them, despite them all being right there at the same time.
The film takes place in Sayama, and there was a real life murder/suicide with 2 school aged sisters. The young sister is kidnapped and murdered, and the older one goes to find her, but upon discovering that she has already been murdered, the older sister takes her own life / blames herself. And in Totoro, Mei is the younger sister who “disappears” and Satsuki is the older sister who goes to look for her. Satsuki also blames herself (she had yelled at Mei earlier). Also this murder took place in the month of May and the girls are both named May: Mei and Satsuki (Japanese word for May).
Then there’s the references to Billy Goat’s Gruff. In the fairy tale, there are 3 goats trying to cross a bridge. “Crossing a Bridge” is pretty universal for crossing over into the afterlife. And in the fairytale, it is only when all 3 goats are together that they can cross the bridge. And in Totoro, the three “goats” would be the mother and the 2 girls. The billy goat’s gruff is referenced countless times in the film, peering over the bridges, the story books the mom used to read, and even Totoro’s name is some variation of the Japanese word for troll (supposedly, I dunno what that word is, but it was a trivia thing before the show started asking how did Totoro get his name, and it said it was because Mei mispronounced the Troll from her story book). There’s even a SERIOUSLY VERY CREEPY goat near the end of the film who tries to take Mei’s corn. And in the billy goat’s gruff, the goats get safe passage across the bridge by yelling very loudly. When in Totoro, the Totoros and the Girls scream loudly as they fly around with Totoro, etc.
And if Totoro can be seen by children, why do none of the other children see Totoro or the Catbus when the girls are flying around, they even fly right past the boy that likes Satsuki, and she says “I guess no one else can see us”.
And all throughout the film they keep saying how their house is haunted and everyone is afraid to go inside it, etc.
Lastly, people say that in the final scene, the girls have no shadow when they had shadows in all the rest of the film. Though I think this was maybe just an error or oversight on the part of the animators.
Anyways, it is an interesting theory. It does ask the audience to discount the last 2 minutes or so of the film where the girls return home and are greeted again by the Granny and other children in the village. But aside from that, everything else fits this theory.
End of Spoilers.
Artwork and Animation: 10/10 The backgrounds are lovely and all of the character designs are imaginative, quirky, and cute. Totoro has become so iconic that he is now the mascot for Studio Ghibli and known around the world.
Music: 10/10 I don’t really love the opening song. However, I do super love all the background tracks throughout the film. The ending theme is also catchy.
Voice Acting: 10/10 The two sisters are adorable and precocious. They give very believable performances with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Totoro’s well timed animal sounds are quirky and cute. And the father and mother both sound very sincere and loving. Granny sounds old and slightly scary, but also warm and loving as well.
Title: Assassination Classroom Genre: Comedy, Action, Slice of Life Studio: Lerche Original Release Date: 2015 Based On: Assassination Classroom Manga by Yūsei Matsui Length: Season 1 is 22 episodes, Season 2 has 25 episodes, for a total of 47 episodes. There is also a spin off series called Koro-Sensei Q and several animated and live action films and OVAs. There’s even a game (only in Japanese) by Bandai.
Where to watch: Crunchyroll has season 1. But they do not have season 2 Funimation has seasons 1 and 2. You can subscribe to both Crunchyroll and Funimation – and some other anime/scifi networks for $9.99 a month in a new service called VRV at https://vrv.co/. They both also have Koro-Sensei Quest. From what I can tell neither of them have the movies or OVAs available.
Overall: 60/70 86% B “Very Good Anime for Girls”
Geeky: 5/5 The comedy and action in Assassination Classroom will appeal to fans of any gender. The animation and character designs are unique, and there are a number of pop culture references and jokes that will appeal to fans of geek or super hero culture.
Sweetie: 5/5 Surprisingly, this may not seem like a “sweet” anime at first glance, but Koro-Sensei is adorable, and also a very good, thoughtful, kind teacher who loves his students. This anime is full of just as many heartfelt moments as it is full of comedy and action.
Overview: 10/10 Assassination Classroom is first and foremost a slice of life anime. Each episode focuses on a different student or faculty member and how Koro-Sensei helps them with whatever turmoil they are experiencing while at school. Assassination Classroom is also very much a comedy anime, as if you can’t tell by just looking at the design for Koro-Sensei. He is a murderous demon lord with a sweet tooth, love for super hero movies, and kind heart, but that still doesn’t mean he won’t destroy the earth. Although Koro-Sensei may be a villain that the other students must defeat, it is hard to not fall in love with Koro and his classroom. Each episode does have action, with the students trying to defeat their teacher, but each episode also is full of tender sweet moments, and lots of very wtf moments and comedy as well.
Story: 8/10 Koro-Sensei destroyed 75% of the earth’s moon, and his next target is to destroy the earth. Koro has made a deal with the government, he proposes that he be allowed to teach a classroom of students and that the students be given special weapons and special training in order to kill Koro-Sensei. If the students fail to kill Koro-Sensei before graduation he will destroy the earth.
Koro-Sensei is not such a bad guy though. He earnestly wants his students to succeed in defeating him. He also takes interest in each of his students, wanting to ensure they have a happy school life. The students he is teaching are part of Class-E referred to as the “Garbage Class”. The lowest scoring students, as well as delinquents and trouble makers of their school.
No one believes these students will amount to anything, and the principal even believes these students must not be encouraged to succeed because it is imperative to make an example out of them to motivate the other students to perform better or else they too may end up like the students of Class-E.
This is where Koro-Sensei disagrees. He absolutely believes that his students are smart, talented, capable, and just as deserving as the other students in the school. While many other students and faculty members seek to make life harder for the students in Class-E, Koro-Sensei seeks to make their lives better.
Koro is joined by additional faculty members, appointed by the school or by the government, to further train the students to kill Koro before the deadline. New students also come to the classroom as well. They all begin to get along and begin to experience a happy school life under Koro’s guidance.
Koro could best be described as a squid like creature. He makes (ridiculously cute) squishing sounds when he walks, has a sweet tooth, and unique super powers. He can travel at mach 20 speeds, regenerate his tentacles, clone himself, change forms, shed his skin, and other unique abilities that make him nearly impossible for his students to kill.
Little else is known about Koro-Sensei. As the story goes on, more is revealed about his past, his connections to the school, and the real reason why the students must defeat him before graduation. Note: I haven’t finished watching this anime yet, but that’s basically what the synopsis from wikipedia explains as the story. I’m up to episode 16 out of 47, so there’s still a lot to learn.
Wanting to learn the real reasons behind Koro-Sensei’s request to teach at that school, and learn more about Koro Sensei himself keeps the story moving, and keeps the viewer interested with morbid curiosity.
However, the story does at times move a little slow, like most slice of life anime. There are a lot of filler episodes, and after awhile, it becomes a bit predictable. My friend also likes to point out how unrealistic the story is, because if the moon was destroyed it would have a major impact on the Earth, and thus make Koro’s threats to destroy the Earth a moot point. This in no way detracts from the enjoyment of the show, but in trying to be objective, I would say those are the flaws of the show.
Characters: 10/10 One really unique thing about this anime is how each episode highlights a different character. You come to know the back stories of all 27 of the students, faculty members, and Koro-Sensei. There clearly are 2 or 3 students that are more “important” than others, but overall, each of the characters are given a chance to shine, and each of them are fleshed out in detail with their own troubles and school-life struggles which Koro guides them to overcome. Each character is so unique that they even (very slightly) alter every single opening theme song animation to include the new students. You get a sense that the classroom is like a close family. Koro begins doing exceptionally nice things for his students, taking them on trips, planting a garden, building a swimming pool, and of course encouraging them to stand up to the other students who bully them in the school. Character development is one of the key things that keeps this anime moving, watching the students in Class E begin to believe in themselves, and come together with a common goal (to kill their teacher.).
Art: 6/10 – Some of the character designs seem kinda wonky… but they are actually done in a style similar to the manga. Koro is super cute, and most of the students look distinctive. The animation style is clean, but simple, and not overly detailed. There’s nothing mind blowing about the animation, but it is still modern, clean, and fresh.
Voice Acting: 10/10 – Koro Sensei alone has one of the best voice actors, with a very distinctive evil laugh, that is more cute than it is terrifying. The other cast members are also very talented, but less memorable than Koro.
Music: 6/10 – The music is a bit hit or miss. The first opening and ending themes are really catchy. I’m not as much a fan of the 2nd themes. Background music is good, but not overly remarkable.
Other Titles: A Silent Voice, The Shape of a Voice
Genre: Shoujo, Romance, Slice of Life, Drama
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Based on: A Silent Voice manga by Yoshitoki Ōima
Length: 2 hours 9 minutes
Theatrical Japanese release: September 2016
Theatrical world-wide release: June 2017
DVD Blu Ray Japanese Release: May 17, 2017.
(no date announced at time of this blog post for an English DVD / Blu Ray Release).
Geeky: 4/5 Gorgeously animated and very true to the original story within the manga. It does lack action and move at a sometimes slow pace and deals with heavy and unpleasant themes at times.
Sweetie: 5/5 The transformation of the characters and values of friendship, love, redemption, and need for connection, are all highlighted in a tale that shows the coming of age of a group of adolescents.
Overall: 48/60 80% B- “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Story: 9/10 Koe no Katachi is a coming of age story wherein we witness the growth and life changes which shape and change the nature of relationships between a group of friends, enemies, and lovers. The story centers heavily around 2 youths, Ishida Shoya and Nashimiya Shoko, and their classmates. When the film starts, they are in elementary school, and by time the film ends they are seniors in high school.
Shoko is a deaf student who transfers in to the class. Shoko is the only student with a disability, and none of the staff, students, or teachers are prepared or equipped to deal with her. As a result, Shoko becomes the victim of bullying, with Shoya largely being the ring leader behind her tormenting.
When it is discovered that Shoko has been bullied by her classmates, the other students and staff all blame Shoya which results in then his being bullied. The bullying continues throughout highschool as well, leaving Shoya with zero friends, and afraid to get close to anyone. Shoya even considers committing suicide to escape the bullying.
He runs into Shoko in his senior year of high school and immediately begins a plan to befriend her, having felt guilty for bullying her when they were younger. Shoya has been studying sign language and is now able to easily communicate with Shoko. He asks if they could be friends, the same thing she asked of him when they were little.
Shoko has grown stronger and has many friends already, but she blames herself for breaking up Shoya’s group of friends and for Shoya’s years of being a victim of bullying. The two forge an unlikely friendship, both hating and blaming themselves for their past interactions.
Shoya has grown and matured, and not just out of his feelings of guilt towards Shoko. Early in the film he befriends a male classmate who is also being bullied. This leads to Shoya’s first friend since elementary school.
Even Shoko’s sister who is very over protective of her, comes to accept Shoya when she realizes how much he has changed, and encourages him to date Shoko.
Shoko wants to help repair the friendships of Shoya’s childhood friends so she begins gathering the other students, some of which still resent Shoko and Shoya. There’s even a bit of a love triangle when Shoya runs into an old classmate, Ueno, working at a cat cafe.
However, everyone is still haunted by their pasts. Shoko and Shoya both struggle with thoughts of suicide and guilt throughout the entire film. Eventually though, the two begin to develop feelings of love for one another as a result of their newly formed friendship, but even that love may not be enough to save them. (You should watch it for yourself if you want to know! 🙂 )
It is a touching and moving story. School bullying is a huge problem in both Japan, as well as North America, and it does often lead to an increase in child and teen suicide. Therefore, these themes and characters feel real, raw, relateable, and brimming with emotions.
The manga goes a little bit further than the anime by showing what happens after high school to most of the friends in this story. However, the movie is a faithful adaptation of the manga given the time constraints of the format (taking several volumes of manga and condensing down into a 2 hour film).
Characters: 7/10: It can be difficult to watch a show as “heavy” as this at times. Almost of the characters are bullies and/or the victim of bullying. The main character and his friends are not “nice”. Even after they mature, many of the characters remain self-interested and shallow.
However, seeing Shoya’s transformation, and character development throughout the film from a bully to being bullied, and then to finding love and friendship is really the highlight of the film. Well that, and just how cute and unique of a character Shoko is.
It does a good job of showing both the home life, school life, and recreational life of the group of friends. Even the minor characters, such as Shoko’s sister and grandmother are well fleshed out.
Art: 10/10 – the anime is gorgeous to look at, especially some of the lovely backgrounds such as the koi pond, fireworks festival, or starlit skies. The character designs are cute and distinctive, from Shoko’s utter adorableness, to Shoya’s unkempt “I don’t care” attitude (messy hair, tag always sticking out of his collar, etc). Even the supporting cast has unique well defined designs, from their height, weight, hair, or fashion, all making them more memorable.
But perhaps the most interesting thing here is that they have actually animated some sign language scenes between the characters. Unfortunately I don’t sign, so I can’t comment how accurate the animations were, but it was still an interesting touch none the less.
Music: 4/10: I felt the music was very hit or miss for me. The opening theme song is an old (70s or 80s I think) American rock n roll song, which isn’t to my taste and didn’t seem to fit the theme or characters. The other music was not very memorable.
Voice Acting: 9/10: I dunno if Shoko’s voice actress is actually deaf or suffering from hearing loss, but the actress definitely has a speech impediment – whether that is real, or fake, I can’t tell. Other films and TV series, such as Switched at Birth have used deaf actors and actresses before. If she is not deaf, then that’s even a higher testament to her acting ability since she is able to keep the speech impediment consistently throughout the film.
This does make her hard to understand at times. The version I watched was likely fan subbed and not the official translation. The writers tried to characterize Shoko’s speech impediment even in the subtitles, and at times, I found myself feeling as frustrated and confused as the other characters trying to understand what she was saying lol. She still sounds cute, and her speech impediment plays an important part in the story.
The other characters are equally as well cast and really bring the characters from the manga to life on the big screen.
I just purchased and watched “The Red Turtle” last night. The silent animated feature length film was done, in part, by Studio Ghibli, famous animators of feature length family favorite anime films such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Ponyo, and The Cat’s Return, just to name a few.
I have to admit, I didn’t really do my research on this title (and didn’t realize it was a silent film until I began watching it), but every time I saw a preview, I just wanted to see it oh so badly. When I realized I could buy it for only $10 more than the “rental” price ($15 vs $5) I immediately purchased it.
For about the first 20 – 40 minutes of the film, I felt disappointed and disinterested; that quickly changed as the plot began to advance, and by the end I was so emotionally invested that I was crying.
Read on for the full review below.
Title: The Red Turtle
Studio: Studio Ghibli
Release Date (theatrical limited release) : January 20, 2017 (dvd / bluray) : May 2nd, 2017
Length: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Geeky: 3/5 – The beautiful artwork has a story book like quality while the musical score helps covey the feelings of the wordless cast of characters.
Sweetie: 5/5 – Without any voice, this movie still manages to tell an uplifting, wholesome, sad, touching, and romantic tale. This film reminded me of the Song of the Sea (which I also HIGHLY recommend and will eventually get around to reviewing). It also reminded me of a silent “Little Mermaid”. Or a little of the Tom Hanks “Castaway” film or Swiss Family Robinson.
Overall: 42/50 84% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Story: 8/10 If you’ve watched any of those films, you can guess some of the themes present in the Red Turtle, a story about a man shipwrecked on an island trying first to leave the island, then coming to accept his new life and live off the land.
There’s really several stories within the story here if you’re paying attention. At first, it is just the man and the sea and land and creatures there of. But a miracle occurs one day, turning a lonely devastated man, into a protector, caregiver, lover, and eventually father.
It’s a very circle of life tale. You watch all of the characters as they age, grow up, grow old, while witnessing their triumphs and struggles as they evolve and grow.
Although there are no words, and it takes some getting used to (at least for me; the only other silent film I’ve ever liked is Wall-e.), if you keep watching, you will eventually fall in love with the characters, and by the end it will leave you in tears, as it did for me.
It does start slow. I think the first 30ish minutes of the man being alone on the island could have been cut down to about 10-15 minutes and still conveyed the same point, that he is unable to leave the island, that he is angry, cold, bitter, and vengeful, etc. — Still after the appearance of other humans, we witness how their love for him changes the man into a much different and better person.
Characters: 8/10 : The characters have no names, and no real back stories. It’s never explained exactly how or why things happened the way they did; whether that was intentional to allow you to insert yourself into their shoes, or just the nature of the silent story telling format, it doesn’t matter because the characters are still incredibly real, raw, and full of emotion and personality even without back stories and without voices. I felt an immediate connection to the characters and felt myself emotionally invested and caring about what fates and circumstances fell upon them.
Animation: 8/10 – Although it’s not done in any kind of “traditional” anime style (big eyes, fantasy hair colors, etc), it still has charm. The sea, the starlit sky, the forests, the land, and even the characters. This film had to rely 50 / 50 on music as well as animation to tell the story. The characters’ movements had to convey their emotion. This is no easy task, yet it is one that this film excels at. Whether it’s capturing the curiosity of a small child, the desperation and isolation of a lonely man, the love and tenderness of a woman, or the animals who share the island with the small family, there is no shortage to emotion and charm in the animation.
Music: 10/10 – Think of this as basically Fantasia meets the Little Mermaid. The music score, when music is present, is vital in telling the story. Many times throughout the film there will be little to no music and only ambient noises and sound effects. This makes the power of the instrumental musical pieces even more powerful when it is used to convey the emotions of the cast or even the power of nature itself.
Geeky: 2/5 This anime has high production values in terms of artwork, music, and voice acting, however; it lacks any real substantial plot or depth beyond the unique and cute characters.
Sweetie: 4/5 This is a very cute anime with a ton of charm. I deducted 1 point for lack of a strong central story and lack of character growth or development. Still if cute is what you’re looking for, be sure to check this series out.
Overall: 43/55 78% C+ “Good Anime For Girls”
Concept: 8/10 Interviews with Monster Girls as the name suggests, revolves around a professor who discovers Monster Girls attending his school. The girls come to form a friendship with their teacher who in turn comes to learn more about each of the girls’ unique traits and (dis)abilities.
Each episode is structured as another day spent going to school and features one or more of the monster girls in the teachers’ office. Sensei will also make home visits or encounter the girls in the halls of the school. He tries his best to help them with their problems and cares a lot for the girls’ well being.
It gains points for a unique concept with interesting and diverse characters. However, it at times becomes a typical Harem like anime, which detracts some from the overall “uniqueness” of the show.
Story: 5/10 My main complaint with the story is that we don’t see the girls’ day-to-day lives very much, aside of their time spent in Tetsuo’s office. It is a very cute and fluffy anime with interesting characters, but just not much depth. I would have liked to have seen the girls interacting with other human classmates, taking part in club activities, school festivals, sports, or other hobbies.
My main reason for watching (aside from the sheer cuteness), is wondering which girl, if any, Tetsuo will choose to become romantically involved with in the end.
Characters: 9/10 While story is a bit blah, it makes up for that with completely unique and entertaining characters. Hikari a vampire, Machi a dullahan (headless horsewoman), Yuki a snowwoman, and Saki, a succubus.
At the center of those girls we have their Teacher, Tetsuo Takashi, who goes out of his way to help the girls and also serves as a shared love interest for each of them. He is very caring and kind hearted. He is also very curious and interested in Demi-Humans. Sometimes he is at odds for his desire to help the girls vs his fascination and curiosity.
The anime is carried almost completely just by the fact that all of the characters are so likable and different from any other anime out there right now. I also appreciated that the anime puts its own spin on folk lore and legends about the monsters.
For example, Hikari actually likes garlic, and while she gets weak in the sun, and overheats from her low blood count, she can counteract that by seeking a cool place to rest or eating cold food.
I also enjoy seeing how it focuses on the friendship formed between the girls and how they go from being lonely, to now having each other so they can begin to enjoy their school life.
It is a coming of age story too, and all of the girls are becoming aware of the opposite sex (in this case, their teacher lol). It has a lot of cute heartfelt scenes, like Hikari setting up a date between Sensei and Machi, but then Hikari herself getting jealous that the date is going “too well”.
Hikari is quite bold and immature, but she knows that people expect her to be childish. She uses her “childish reputation” to get away with acting however she wants, whether its kissing Sensei, making her sister help her get ready for school, or eating extra desserts.
I did deduct one point for lack of any character growth or development throughout the series though as we never see the girls deviate from their stereotypical roles (Hikari being bold/childlike, Machi being shy/tender, Yuki being timid and fearful, etc.)
Artwork: 5/5 The girls are so super cute. I think a lot of people are watching this just because it’s one of those “cute girls doing cute things” types of anime.
Music: 5/5 I love the opening song. It’s very soft and different. Almost feels like a lullaby. Unique music also highlights how unique the anime is.
Voice Acting: 5/5 I really like the voice acting, especially Tetsuo who seems a bit nervous, but also curious about the girls. Of course the girls all have cute young voices (Saki is a bit more mature sounding). All of the characters are well cast for their roles.
Big Fish & Begonia (also known as Da Yu Hai Tang) is not technically an anime since it is from China instead of Japan; however, it is a beautifully animated fantasy adventure with a lot of heart. The quality of the animation is on par with Disney or Studio Ghibli.
The story has a few plot holes and pacing issues, but overall, the emotional impact of the story telling makes this film a must watch. The story may feel familiar if you’ve watched Disney’s the Little Mermaid, or another Chinese animation from the 90s, Chinese Ghost Story. Despite the similar concepts, Big Fish & Begonia still manages to add its own unique twists and takes on concepts of forbidden love and reincarnation.
Title: Big Fish & Begonia (Da Yu Hai Tang)
Release Date: July 2016 (China) (Not yet licensed for North America)
Production: Bejing Enlight Media
Geeky: 5/5 – The production values are top notch. The quality of the animation, music, and acting are all on PAR with Disney or Studio Ghibli. Many consider this film to be the “dawn of animation” in China. It took 12 years to complete, and the level of dedication, time, care, and skill that went into making this film really shows.
Sweetie: 4/5 – I did decide to deduct one point for a few major plot holes and pacing issues. However, the themes of love (often times unrequited), life, death, and reincarnation make this film very “sweet” indeed. I was not expecting to cry as much as I did by the end!
Overall: 47/55 85% B “Very Good Anime For Girls”
Concept: 10/10 I am in love with the concept behind this film. I am a huge fan of Chinese Ghost Story and also the Little Mermaid.
I even prefer the old 80s Japanese version of the Little Mermaid over the Disney one (blasphemous, I know, right?). Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney’s Little Mermaid too. But the reason I love the non-Disney version so much is because of how sad it is.
Spoiler for the Japanese Little Mermaid below:
In the end, the prince marries another girl. The Little Mermaid’s sisters come to her with a poisoned dagger. If she chooses to kill the prince and his new bride, she can return back home with her family. However, the Little Mermaid only wishes for the prince’s happiness and cannot bring herself to harm him because she is so in love with him. As the sun rises, per her agreement with the Sea Witch, the Little Mermaid turns into sea foam and dies.
I know this sounds horrible to some people who always insist on watching movies with a happy ending, but I’ve always loved tearjerkers, even as a child. There’s just something so touching and sweet about this tragic tale. It also happens to follow the original story more closely as well.
So if we combine that 80s Little Mermaid with Chinese Ghost Story, we get something very similar to Big Fish & Begonia. Chinese Ghost Story is another beautifully animated Chinese film. (The animation was done by a Japanese studio). The story involves a young man who finds himself lost in a literal “Ghost Town”. All of the city’s inhabitants are spirits who have passed over. There, he meets a beautiful woman who also happens to be a ghost. Eventually the two of them fall in love; however, the only way for them to be together is for both of them to reincarnate back on earth.
Story: 7/10 The story of Big Fish and Begonia revolves around Chun, a young girl who has just become an adult in her society. Chun is from a mystical world. The movie describes the world by having Chun narrate that they are not gods, nor humans, but “others”.
In this mystical world, all adolescents become dolphins and journey to the human world for 7 days as a right of passage. During this time if they should come into contact with humans, they will not be allowed to return back to their own world.
However, a sea squall occurs which traps Chun in a fisherman’s net on her last day on Earth. The past few days, she has spent observing the humans and their world, especially one young human who loves the sea. This human sees that Chun is trapped in the net and swims out to save her.
Although he is able to free Chun from the fisherman’s net, he drowns in the storm. Chun tries to save him, but is only able to retrieve his ocarina. Chun can’t forget the young man or his grieving family even when she returns back to her own world.
Chun discovers that there may be a way to revive the young boy and return him back to his world. She trades half of her life in exchange for his. In doing so, she also irreversibly links together their two souls. Should one of them perish, so shall they both. To complicate matters, his soul must remain a fish until returning back to the human world. In Chinese legends, there was a big fish who could fly through the skies. Thus Chun names him after the fish of legend, Kun.
Many sad things happen along the way, but Chun resolves herself to complete her mission, even if it costs her her own life. As much as Chun cares for Kun, there’s another character who equally cares for Chun. He is her childhood friend named Qiu. With the same resolve that Chun takes to protect Kun, Qiu takes similar resolve to protect Chun, also willing if necessary to trade his life for hers.
Overall, I really enjoyed the film and loved the concept and story. My complaint with the story is the introduction of minor characters halfway through. They abandon certain concepts they have introduced, and create inconsistencies and plot holes. Here are a few examples.
1.) In theory, Chun should not have even been able to return back to her world. Contact with humans was forbidden. Yes, her world begins to suffer, and everyone turns against her. But, when the film starts, her mother warns her not to let the humans see her and tells her that another girl just took the journey and was unable to return for breaking this rule.
2.) At one point, a villain will escape into the human world. (You’ll know what I’m referring to if you watch the movie). After escaping into the human world, we never see or hear from this villain again. You would think it had some motive for wanting to go into the human world and that some consequences may occur in the human world as the result of introduction of this character. We’re never shown exactly what those consequences are.
3.) When returning to the human world, all memories are supposed to be erased; however, that doesn’t seem to happen. There’s also the issue or significance of the necklace that Chun is wearing at the end, that I don’t recall being explained. It seems the creators want your attention to be called to the necklace from the swinging and shining animation and camera zoom and pan given to that scene. What significance exactly did the necklace hold?
This next bit might be a Spoiler for the end of Big Fish and Begonia
4.) If you watch past the credits you see a scene with Qiu (possibly eluding to a sequel of some sort), and at the end of the credits you are told that the film is based on a Chinese legend about a brother (Qiu) who evoked an 8,000 year long autumn, and his sister, Chun, who evoked an 8,000 year long spring. Then we are led to believe that the Qiu and Chun in this film are the reincarnations of the ones in Chinese Legend. Chun even tells Qiu that she can’t love him because she thinks of him as her brother.
When we look at their respective magical ability, Chun with her flowering and plant growing, and Qiu with his fruit growing/harvesting, this also reinforces the idea that they are brother and sister. Also while researching this, I discovered that Chun is the Chinese word for Spring, and Qiu, the Chinese word for Autumn.
You can also do your own research into reading more about the Legend of Qiu and Chun. One such source that I found describes that they had an incestuous affair for many years, despite Chun later marrying for political reasons, and being separated by distance geographically. Despite the distance, their feelings for one another never diminished.
The problem that I have with this theory is just simply that Chun doesn’t love Qiu in this film which seems to be a direct contradiction to the ancient legend. If it was based on this Chinese legend, it seems that she would have also had feelings for him as well as, or maybe even more than, her feelings for Kun. Qiu very clearly has those feelings for Chun as he tells her that his only regret is having not held her in his arms on their final night together. However, Chun seems to only regard Qiu as a good friend, and nothing more.
Despite the inconsistency that this creates, I have to say, Qiu is my favorite character, and that one line of dialog, and the scene of their final night together, and Qiu’s sacrifice for Chun, really is my favorite part of this movie.
Characters: 8/10 Qiu makes this film for me. He begins as a bit of a child-like impish, practical jokester. By the end of the film, he has matured so much, and sacrifices so much as a result of his love and desire to protect Chun.
Chun likewise grows as a character, with her resolve to protect Kun. She goes against her elders, her mother, the people of her village. She is shunned as a result of breaking the laws of her people. While it would be easy to harbor a grudge against the people who have cast her out of their tribe, she instead endeavors to help them when tragedy befalls their home.
Chun also realizes what she was warned, that we cannot ever truly atone for our sins. As a result of helping Kun, other people begin to suffer. She realizes the weight and consequences of her actions; however, it is too late to change course.
Qiu learns a similar lesson. He asks how to save and help Chun, but the answer he receives eats away at him. He asks a shopkeeper if he has anything that can make him forget his sadness. The shopkeeper offers him a drink, but he warns it will also take away his happiness. He learns that in order to have happiness, you must also experience sadness.
The minor characters are also sources of wisdom and have a lot of heart, especially Chun’s grandparents who help her even after their own death.
I did deduct 2 points because there are some characters that are forgotten and abandoned, and even Kun himself feels underdeveloped as a character. It was hard for me to like the relationship of Kun x Chun because so much more development had been put into Qiu compared to Kun.
Animation: 5/5 This is one of the most beautifully animated films I have seen, not just from China, but from anywhere. It blends beautiful 2D and some nice 3D animation techniques. The fantasy world and characters are all unique and mesmerizing.
Voice Acting 5/5 Big Fish and Begonia is a very emotional film, and to pull that off, it makes use of talented voice actors who can capture and convey their feelings of love, guilt, grief, and despair.
Music: 3/5 Music also has a Disney-ish feeling and helps tell the story. I especially liked the song during the ending credits. There a few Disney-ish feeling “song/dance” skits, which can sometimes detract from the mature and dark feeling of the film; these are brief, but not as well handled in my opinion as similar scenes in Chinese Ghost Story, which makes great use of music interludes to tell their story. The music also doesn’t feel that memorable in Big Fish and Begonia, but it is overall, quite lovely.
I just recently discovered and began watching “Aikatsu! Stars”. Aikatsu! Stars is a sequel of an anime called Aikatsu! The anime is based on a card / arcade game by Bandai. The arcade card game involves dressing up idols with cute kawaii clothes and accessories to help them achieve a higher score. — From the success of these arcade machines, as well as the success of the anime (which I believe has about 6 seasons now), and the success of the other media related to the Aikatsu franchise — Bandai then introduced Aikatsu! Photo on Stage, a mobile game which is kinda similar to Bandai’s other Idol Collecting / Rhythm Games such as Idol M@ster which I’m just learning now, and Love Live School Idol Festival, which I’ve been meaning to also review, but haven’t really gotten around to just yet.
The main difference in Aikatsu! Photo on Stage compared to Love Live School Idol Festival, is the way in which the rhythm game is actually played. Love Live School Idol Festival displays characters’ faces in a half-moon arc like shape scattered around the screen. As a song plays, music notes, indicated by a ring shape, float out to one of these characters. Pressing on a character at the right time will score higher points. You “chain” “perfect” time presses for the highest score possible.
In Aikatsu! Photo on Stage, the rhythm game is completely different (and in my opinion more challenging). This time, you see your selected characters standing on a stage, and over top, overlaying these characters, you see a various number of boxes, outlined by white squares. As the song begins, these squares begin to fill, with what I would describe as playing cards. Spade, Diamond, Club, and Heart symbols begin to fill each box. Pressing when the shape has filled in the white outline the fullest will result in better scores. The number of squares, layout of squares, and speed with which they fill, varies not only from song to song, but within different parts of a single song as well. Some squares, indicated by a golden color, can be spammed over and over before they fade, letting you chain dozens of notes quickly. Often multiple squares appear at once and while playing which you can either press simultaneously or in rapid succession.
You may also unlock combos and abilities of your girls; This seems to be determined by who is in your team. When the song begins, there’s a lengthy animation showing your girls, and they “Pair off” It seems like certain cards when “paired together” will activate different abilities “together”. Sometimes a girl will also activate a single ability. All of these abilities will act as huge score multipliers for the duration that the ability is in effect.
The other significant difference is that Aikatsu! Photo on Stage has never been released in North America. This means the game is in Japanese. My time spent with Aikatsu Photo on Stage has amounted to probably an hour, spread over the past two days. I cannot speak or read Japanese, and am not an expert by any means on this game. In fact, twice now I’ve accidentally clicked things and wasted my stars (in game currency used to summon new idols).
There are people and places to get much better information on this game than what I’m about to share with you. I just wanted to share my love for the game and show how cute it is, and tell you you should be playing this game. You should also watch the anime, at least Aikatsu Stars! because it is super kawaii (cute). It’s like Harry Potter crossed with Love Live School Idol Festival. It follows a young girl as she enrolls in a special academy just for idols. She is given a phone and badge and even taken to pick out a special outfit. And it was discovering this anime that sparked my interest in the game. I thought WOW this would make such a fun game! I want to go to a school for idols too! Then I thought “I wonder if there is a game based on this anime already” There are numerous Nintendo DS games, and then there’s this mobile game (and of course the original arcade/card game).
Once again I’m no expert and the following info may not be 100% correct or accurate. I will include some resources at the end of this article that will probably prove more helpful.
First here is how to get the game if you use IOS (iphone, ipad, etc).
From a PC, log out of your Itunes account. In the bottom right corner you should see a flag to change your country/region. — If you don’t see this or if it has moved, don’t worry I’ll show you how you can change regions midway through this process later.
You need to decide which version of Aikatsu you want to play. I chose the Japanese version, but there’s also Korean and Chinese versions. The Chinese version for country code MO even looked like it was in English??? I can’t confirm that though as I chose the Japanese version believing it to be the most updated and least likely to close down later.
So if you want to play the Japanese version, select to change your region to Japan now.
Once you’ve selected your region, search for Aikatsu! – you’ll see a lot of anime and music here, you can narrow your results to just Iphone or Ipad apps to make it easier to find.
Once you find the Aikatsu! Photo on Stage app, click the “+Get” button.
You will then be prompted to create a new itunes account.
Here is where you can change your country if you didn’t already do so. It will say something like “If your billing address is not in the United States, click here to change regions” You can then search again for the Aikatsu app and click the +Get button and be prompted again to set up a new Itunes account.
The important thing is that you select the app and use the +Get Button BEFORE MAKING YOUR ACCOUNT. SUPER IMPORTANT DO NOT IGNORE THIS STEP.
Assuming that you followed this advice, the payment should be set to “None” by default.
Ignoring that step and trying to either change an existing Itunes account region, OR creating a new account before clicking the +Get button will result in you being asked for payment details even for FREE apps! And it will only accept Japanese credit/bank cards or Japanese Itunes Gift Cards. So It’s really important to remember to FIRST select the app, and THEN create your account.
You will then need to finish filling in your details, an email address that is not associated with any other Itunes account, you may need to create a new email address, which you can do for free on sites like hotmail, gmail, yahoo, etc. Then fill in your secret hints and select a new password.
You need a Japanese address, I have read that you can use a university address, your mileage may vary. My understanding is that as long as the Prefecture, city, and zipcode all line up, the rest of the address doesn’t matter.
You can use a US cellphone number.
You are now the proud owner of a Japanese Itunes Account. Congratulations!
Your app should begin downloading automatically after entering your password or thumbprint.
To get your app to your Iphone: Now from your Iphone, go to settings, and under the “Itunes & App Store” select sign out, and select sign in to use the new account you just created.
Now when you browse the App store you’ll be browsing the Japanese app store.
You can switch back at any time by going to settings and again signing out and back in to your US Itunes account.
Aikatsu! Photo on Stage will not Work on any Rooted Devices, so if you Jailbreak your Iphone it will no longer work for you. This also means Aikatsu! Photo on Stage will not run on android emulators such as Bluestacks. So I am not sure how Android users can enjoy this game. I think it involves using a VPN and Tunneling service, but then I don’t know if that would “flag” the “Rooted Device” warning signal, so unfortunately I can’t provide help or directions to get the app on Android.
But assuming you’re an IOS user, you’re now ready to Play Aikatsu! Photo on Stage. And I’m now finally ready to review it for you 🙂
Geeky: 3/5 – This app is over the top cute/sweet which can distract some from the actual gameplay and features. I read that it was originally aimed at young elementary school girls… However, Bandai was surprised that many “Hardcore” adult male gamers also play the game, perhaps moreso even than their original audience. The reason for the mass appeal is that, if you look past the pink girly graphics, the gameplay itself is quite challenging, and guys like to collect their virtual “waifu” – They may also be trickling down from the other two popular Bandai Franchises, Love Live, and Idol M@ster (or a slew of other Bandai Namco Idol Simulation game series). It loses some points in my opinion with some of the graphics… For example your girls are just motionless/still on the stage, and in the story mode, they’re still, but come “Bouncing in” like a child playing with a Barbie doll, walking her Barbie across the floor by picking up and lowering the whole doll. — This was maybe intentional, given Bandai’s original target audience, and the “dress up theme” but it’s none the less, strange to watch and distracting compared to the more “fluid” looking animations in the other idol apps. The UI also confuses me but that could just be since I can’t read Japanese — However, by contrast, the UI of Ensemble Stars, which I reviewed here, is so simple that it doesn’t matter that it’s Japanese. So I would say there are some overly complex issues with the UI in Aikatsu… but it’s not as bad as the UI in Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls which I’m having even more difficulty navigating (too many things to click/options/features, which yes, makes for an awesome game, but steep learning curve when not in your native tongue).
Sweetie: 5/5 – As mentioned, this game and the anime are unbelievably cute. Seeing your girls on the stage, instead of just a circle with their face is very cute, and outside of performing, you can set your home screen to different backgrounds (often with pink glitter, hearts, gems, etc floating by) and select if you’d like to see 2, 3, or all 8 of your girls. When you go to power up your girls, you will be “dressing them up” to even more kawaii versions of themselves.
Concept: 8/10 – I feel like feature wise, it’s a step up from Love Live, but a significant step down from Idol M@ster. You should play this game because it’s cute. But as for actually “dressing up your girls” Idol M@ster does this better and in a fashion much closer to the Aikatsu! Card Arcade game, which allows you to equip tops, pants, shoes, or a dress which can sometimes take the place of multiple items. By contrast, the Aikatsu mobile game “dresses up” your girls much in the same way that Love Live idolizes your girls. In Aikatsu you have Rare, Normal, and Super Rare “Tokens”, each card will require some combination in some amount of these tokens to “dress up”. It will also require a certain number of hearts… Despite that… I have met the requirements — saying “OK” for each type of token, and have more than enough hearts, and still haven’t been able to dress up my girls (so perhaps I am misunderstanding something about how this works. Like I’ve said a couple times, I’m no expert). But it still seems to me, a rather lackluster system, and seems that Idol M@ster actually has the “dressup system” that the original card arcade game was so popular for.
That said, I do think there is some way to scan your cards in Aikatsu Photo on Stage, but I haven’t figured it out, nor do I have any of the cards.
Music wise, I feel like it’s not quite as good as Love Live.
Overall, it’s just “another” idol sim and rhythm game from Bandai Namco, of which there are probably a dozen different apps and franchises to choose, each with their own anime and target audiences. But you just can’t look past how cute and addictive it is to collect all of the girls. Like most of these games, there are limited time events, and the desire to collect the rarest cards keeps players coming back.
Gameplay: 8/10 What makes Aikatsu stand out (at least compared to Love Live), is the way the rhythm game is played which involves squares filling with shapes from a deck of playing cards. If you read the first few paragraphs of my review, you have a good idea how that works already. If not, here’s a recap.
This time, you see your selected characters standing on a stage, and over top, overlaying these characters, you see a various number of boxes, outlined by white squares. As the song begins, these squares begin to fill, with what I would describe as playing cards. Spade, Diamond, Club, and Heart symbols begin to fill each box. Pressing when the shape has filled in the white outline the fullest will result in better scores. The number of squares, layout of squares, and speed with which they fill, varies not only from song to song, but within different parts of a single song as well. Some squares, indicated by a golden color, can be spammed over and over before they fade, letting you chain dozens of notes quickly. Often multiple squares appear at once and while playing which you can either press simultaneously or in rapid succession.
You may also unlock combos and abilities of your girls; This seems to be determined by who is in your team. When the song begins, there’s a lengthy animation showing your girls, and they “Pair off” It seems like certain cards when “paired together” will activate different abilities “together”. Sometimes a girl will also activate a single ability. All of these abilities will act as huge score multipliers for the duration that the ability is in effect.
Again deducted a few points for a somewhat overwhelming UI, as well as not quite as feature rich as some of Bandai’s other Idol simulation games.
Also another caveat to the gameplay is the ridiculous load time and frequency at which it keeps requesting to load things. Their loading screen is cute, but I see it way too often and it interrupts my game to the point of frustration.
Story: 8/10 – This is my assumption on what the story is about, based on what I’ve seen of the anime. I cannot read Japanese, so I can’t really grade the story within the actual game. But the story in the anime involves a young girl who goes to a special school for idols. When the girls perform they seem to become like Hatsune Miku or a Vocoloid, and “transform” into much cuter versions of themselves. In the anime, there’s some really bad/cheap 3D animation used when the girls perform their songs lol. But the concept is none the less cute. As the girls enter this special academy they are given all kinds of cute thing, and begin their special training to become idols.
In some ways, it’s very similar to Harry Potter; there are different houses (whose names I forget, but just winging it here) such as Star, Bird, Ocean, Whisper, etc. Students are assigned a house based on their personality and natural abilities. The houses compete with each other, as well as other schools, to be the top idol group in their school and in the world. The girls are given cute costumes and magic idol tools to use in their training and performances. They make friends and go to classes with a variety of characters as classmates and teachers.
The story in the anime is very cute. I prefer this story 100 times more than the story in Love Live because it has that sort of fantasy, Harry Potteresque, “magic idol school” setting. Once again I can’t confirm that the game follows this story.
The story is revealed in story scenes upon clearing certain song stages and ranking up, similar to how story is revealed in the Love Live mobile game as well.
I only wish it was in English so that I could actually read the story. As it is now, I skip all the story scenes because I just can’t read them.
The story is a bit juvenile / fluffy – but once again Bandai’s original target audience was gradeschool children with this franchise, so this is to almost be expected.
I also compared the story quite a bit to Full Moon Wo Sagashite – which this anime is really nothing like, except for the age of the main characters, and their desire to become Idols and their sorta similar personalities between the main girls.
Full Moon Wo Sagashite has much more substance, feeling, heart, drama, and strife than Aikatsu! Stars. But if you’re looking to get your idol fix, this may do it for you. Another anime to check out in a similar tone is Fancy Lala.
Characters: 4/10 – I feel like the character designs are hit and miss, both in terms of personality, and also in their visual appeal. I’m not super far into the anime, but the characters so far story and background wise, feel so cliche… actually many of them feel like a copy/paste of “corresponding” characters from Love Live. There’s one girl that could be a dead ringer for Kotori with the same hair style, half up side pony tail, twisted and clipped over her light blonde/silvery/grey hair. Despite the change in setting to a more fantasy / harry potter style of “Crazy Cute and Cool Idol School” the characters themselves aren’t that unique at all. However, the main character of Aikatsu! Stars is so cute…
She’s my favorite girl, and I was excited when I got her card, even though it’s only “Rare” and not “Super Rare” or “P Rare” (dunno what the P stands for? Precious Rare? Pretty Rare? Premium Rare?). (P Rares are what you want to be aspiring for, but Super Rares are pretty good too. Rares, just as the same with Love Live, aren’t really all that rare at all! lol.) — Anyways sure she’s cute, but how does she differ from any other magical shoujo girl main character? She doesn’t, even the yellow pigtails are sure to remind you of a certain well known shoujo magical girl.
Graphics: 9/10 – So Cute, this is probably the cutest app on my Iphone… I deducted 1 point for the “bouncing” animation in the story scenes where characters move across the screen by bouncing up and down as they glide stiffly across the screen – which looks pretty bad. The anime also is mostly cute 99% of the time, but when the girls transform to sing, it shifts to some really bad 3D animation that looks cheap and dated. Sticking to 2D would have looked so much better; but I think they wanted to show that the girls’ idol performances are using Virtual Reality like Hatsune Miku.
Music: 7/10 – The music is good – it better be, since it’s a rhythm game right? But not great. The girls’ vocals don’t have the same tone and quality as the girls’ in Love Live – or if they’re using some of the same cast, perhaps it’s that the song arrangements aren’t quite as catchy. Whatever the reason, if I were to play a game just for music alone, I’d stick with Love Live. The music in Aikatsu! is not bad, it’s “good” but I think it’s natural to want to compare it to Love Live, and it just doesn’t stack up.
Voice Acting: 6/10: The game has a few “one line” voice overs. The voice acting that’s there is good, really good even. I love the voice actor for the male teacher in the red track suit. He is funny and energetic. But the game is not fully voiced and I feel like the potential, especially in the story scenes, is not really reached, especially when similar apps do have full voice overs in this area.
Replay Value: 10/10 This cute game has addictive rhythm games, lots of cute rare girls, and lots of in game events. It’s one that will keep you playing over and over. It’s best in small but frequent doses.
Overall: 68/90 76% C “Good Game for Girls”
Overall Aikatsu Photo on Stage will appeal to you if:
You like Kawaii things, such as shoujo, magical girl anime or idol culture.
The rhythm game is fun, and it’s not impossible, but slightly frustrating to play since it is not in English.
If you like Aikatsu Photo on Stage, check out Bandai Namco’s other idol games such as Love Live, Idolish, and Idol M@ster Cinderella Girls. — For anime check out the original Aikatsu! and newer Aikatsu! Stars, as well as Fancy Lala, Full Moon Wo Sagashite, and Chance Pop Session. You may also like Wizardess Heart because of the harry potter theme which I reviewed here. You’ll also like Ensemble Stars which I reviewed here.
For Additional English Aikatsu! Resources Please Refer to:
OK…. I just watched one of the weirdest anime of my life… Well two of the weirdest anime of my life…. And I didn’t really hate it?..
The first anime I came across is a relatively new anime called OneRoom. In OneRoom, everything is supposed to be in first person… except… only… it’s not??? Because why then can I keep seeing almost up the backs of the girls’ skirts?! Do I have hidden cameras in my apartment? Do I have super powers? Am I having an out of body experience? The answer is NO, they just wanted to cram as much fan service as humanly possible into each 4 minute episode…
Not only that…. But it is the first anime I’ve ever watched which puts YOU in the anime…. or tries to… but fails miserably at this… They make it so you never see, hear, or know anything about the main character… sort of… only except… you do know/assume what he is saying based on the things the girls are saying to you… And unless you’re a total pervert, chances are whatever the anime thinks the main character is feeling/thinking/saying doesn’t line up with what you’re actually feeling/thinking/saying while watching it… so it’s still almost impossible to immerse yourself into this supposed “blank slate”.
While watching it, I felt like I was playing Love+ (a dating sim game), except I wasn’t playing anything at all. It was like a waifu simulator, with all the gamification and simulation parts taken out.
Still… because the artwork was cute… and the music was catchy… and most of all because the episodes were only 4 minutes long, I kept watching….
While reading reviews after watching, just to laugh at peoples “WTF” comments…. I discovered there’s a version of this “anime experiment” designed for women as well….
Enter Makura no Danshi! Pillow Boys! An anime by the same studio as OneRoom, Makura no Danshi, or Pillow Boys, features a different Pillow Boy each week.
This anime was blatantly created for one sole purpose… to sell such pillow cases…. and this anime is effective at doing that… Before watching this anime, I knew about the Pillow Boyfriend / Pillow Girlfriend trend in Japan…. and I’d looked at such pillow cases before… I didn’t have a large pillow at the time though; About 3 weeks ago I got a really big expensive memory foam body pillow…. It’s currently dressed in a not very feminine or kawaii dark color…. Watching Pillow Boys reminded me that I could get something more Kawaii that would fit my image, my room, my decor, my life. I already cuddle my pillow every night so why not cuddle it and look at cute anime boys too lol. So I will probably buy one of these pillow slips, as soon as I decide which one I want… there are literally hundreds of styles, some from popular games and anime, and others completely original characters.
So now that you know what a Pillow Boy is… let’s move on to the actual review…
Title: Makura no Danshi! Pillow Boys!
Episode Length: 4 minutes
Release Date: 2015
Genre: Slice of Life, Shoujo, Romance, “Pillow Boy Simulator?” lol.
Geeky: 1/5? lol… Not sure… I mean it does have pretty art, and actually I really like the opening theme song, and it IS geeky, because I mean, who else buys these pillows except for geeks. But I can’t in good faith give it a higher score here, because aside from the opening theme, there’s almost no other music, each episode is 4 minutes long, and there’s literally no plot, and it’s just weird as heck lol.
Sweetie: 5/5 – at the opposite end of the rating spectrum, this is an incredibly cute, kinda awkward, and at times highly inappropriate, funny, fun, anime…
Concept: 6/10 — Fanservice for Women. Blatant money-grab anime whose sole purpose is to sell merchandise… but yet… oddly… interesting… and entertaining… Each week a new Pillow Boy is introduced… and they’re all pretty cute and likeable….
I want to make a comment here… but it may be a spoiler… not that the story is important or even coherent in this series… but just in case, using my spoiler tags… you can click to read… it’s about the ending of the final episode…
Perhaps the weirdest thing about this anime is, I believe that the characters actually ARE pillows throughout the anime, not just cute guys who the main character (You) spend your time with… My reasons for believing this include, in the final episode the Pillow Boy says “Hey!! Don’t Fluff me! That’s so mean!” Now why on earth or even how on earth would you fluff a person? You could fluff their HAIR maybe, but that’s not what the character says… Also there’s the fact that You are always tired and/or sleeping in every episode… And… the fact that all of these guys know where you live, sleep in your bed, and seem overly familiar with you, and that’s odd especially for Japanese cultures even more so than American culture, and it STILL seemed weird to me too as an American. My first thought was WHY do I have so many different boyfriends, and how do they know where I live, and why are we sleeping together all the time? — All of these things led me to the conclusion that not only are they ACTUALLY PILLOWS; but that YOU as the viewer are well aware of this fact, and that YOU as the viewer and main character, are actually talking to and fantasizing about your pillows… making you perhaps one of the saddest, most desperate, lonely main characters that I have ever seen… On the other hand, you could just be dreaming in each episode, which would be less creepy, and also less funny, than someone talking to their pillows and pretending to be in a relationship with them lol.
And when you realize THAT, it kinda completely changes the entire tone of the anime lol.
Story: 3/10 – Each week a new Pillow Boy is introduced, each episode is self contained and stand-alone. Each episode consists of the Pillow Boy talking to you about his day, and asking you questions, which you’re encouraged as an audience member to talk back to the TV (k we go from talking to pillows to talking to the TV now lol). They don’t give you much time for response, and ultimately, it suffers the same problem as OneRoom, in that it’s still difficult to immerse, because you can still get a vague idea of the “conversation” that is supposedly going on.
Characters: 9/10 – Ok so the characters themselves though are actually strangely cute, and charming. I honestly liked just about all of them. My favorite was probably the cuddly one or the shy astronomy geek, or maybe the naughty twins lol. “Let’s play find the flower” lol. But even the little boy was cute, in a strictly platonic way. But that didn’t stop the anime from making highly inappropriate sexual innuendos and jokes even in that episode such as the title of that episode: “Innocent Danshi, a highly energetic, hot, 5 year old” WHAT THE F??? That is the creepiest weirdest title for an episode I’ve ever seen. PS, the episode is COMPLETELY G rated – thank god. It’s NOT some weird creepy perverted pedophile anime lol. — You know most anime with a “young looking” “Loli” or “Shota” character, they merely LOOK young but are actually of age of consent, and not an ACTUAL 5 year old… but in this anime, he really is a 5 year old, and you’re baby sitting him… I won’t give too much away, but you’re playing power rangers and he tells you to be the pink ranger, and he wants to be the super “rare” black ranger, whose super power is “Fatty Beef Bomber” — Really? lol… Innuendo much there? Given the character’s age, that is just messed up…. But then… when you take into account what I mentioned in the spoiler tag above, about the ending of the final episode, then you can look past this part. Each character is unique and has a charm of their own.
Artwork: 3/5 – The character designs are super cute, but the animation itself is very low quality and cheap. One scene, with your coworker, in particular, keeps one still image on for 1-2 minutes… in a 4 minute episode… that’s…. pretty cheap lol. The character designs are also not consistent — the final episode brings back the pillow boy from Episode 1… and he looks like a junior high school or even elementary school student now (which to be honest, fits his personality better) Except then, near the end, he goes back to looking about college student aged again (as he appeared in the first episode) for a few seconds. I don’t think this was done for any reason other than they were lazy. It wasn’t like he was done in a “chibi” style to be more cute, It was more like, they forgot what they went with, or couldn’t decide on and stick to one style, or they were outsourcing or using different artists – which would be pretty sad given its a 4 minute per episode kind of show, which shouldn’t be overly complex or have that much detail etc.
Music: 3/5 – The opening theme honestly, would be like a 5/5 — I really like it. It’s catchy as heck. But the rest of the anime has almost no music at all… Even an episode where the Pillow Boy is a violinist, which was the weirdest episode to watch without music.
Voice Acting: 5/5 — I thought the voices were cute, as well as the artwork, those two factors played a big role in my liking of the characters and overall enjoyment of the anime.
This review is going to be a little bit different. I’m going to start by pointing out the changes between both versions, some thoughts on the overall experience of each version, and then, my more traditionally formatted review near the very end. Hope you enjoy my review; and if you get a chance, go watch this at the theater. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for you as a fan, and it may help to bring us more Sailor Moon movies, series, and merchandise!
Onto the changes between each version.
For starters, there’s a scene where the girls are sitting around planning their next move and Usagi is feeling nervous about the nature of Mamo and Fiore’s friendship. In both the Dub and the Sub the girls begin to tease Usagi. However, in the Sub, they also begin to tease Ami and it’s a very cute moment. In the Dub that Cuteness is Lost. Here is an overview (from my memory) of how it goes in each version.
Usagi: “Am I overthinking things?… But they sure seemed like more than friends to me”
Ami: “I guess Mamo is popular with the guys too”
(I think it was ) Mako: “Well I guess it’s fine if you’re born that way”
(I think it was) Rei: “There’s even a few couples like that at my school”
(I think it was) Mina: “What, Really?!”
Usagi: “Am I overthinking things?… But they sure seemed like more than friends to me”
Ami: “I guess Mamo is popular with the guys too”
Rei: “Ami! I can’t believe you just said that!”
Mako: “That’s not like you Ami”
Ami: “That’s not what I meant.. Just…”
Mina: “Ami, you’re blushing!”
Rei: “There’s even some couples at my school who are like that”
Ami: Nervous Laughter (and she is blushing) “Guys come on, that’s really not what I meant!”
Ami was really super cute in this scene in the Subbed version. Ami rarely breaks from her serious character, and she said this without thinking. Immediately, you can see the look on her face when she realizes what she has said; even SHE can’t believe she just said that either. Then she shyly tries to backpedal on what she meant. And the other girls have playful fun teasing her for it too.
Although the scene in the dub is very similar (They kept 3 or 4 of the lines verbatim), for some reason they chose to just have the other girls agree with Ami and add their own thoughts, instead of being so shocked that she of all people would bring up a topic like that. It loses some of the cuteness by changing or removing just those few lines.
The other big change was that in the new dubbed version, Sailor Jupiter swears about 4 to 5 times during the fighting scenes. Now, I was watching for my own enjoyment, and not super analyzing things for this review since I’m just a hobby blogger, so maybe I just missed it, but pretty sure this was not part of the subtitled version. It’s possible it was there, and just didn’t stand out as much since I was “reading” and not “hearing” what was being said.
As I mentioned in my review of the dub here, hearing swear words in Sailor Moon was so shocking that it stood out like a big sore thumb; so in the dubbed version, I began counting the number of times she swore. I feel they could have done without this. It adds nothing to the film. It could have been replaced with a Haaa or Yaaaaaa fighting sound or a simple click of the tongue like Tch sound to replace the 1 syllable swear word.
Did they do it to make Mako sound tough? Or to make the anime “cool” and “edgy”? The thing is though, yes, Mako is a bit “rough” but she’s also extremely concerned with being feminine, so she wouldn’t swear. The reason she wears her skirts so long and her rose earrings, and probably the reason she curls her hair, is because she’s self conscious of her height. Yes, she has a bit of a temper, but she’s always trying to appear more feminine, which is why she begins cooking, etc.
So by making those seemingly “small” changes like that to the dub, they somewhat changed the basis of her character, by ignoring the fact that Mako is actually very feminine, despite being physically the strongest, and tallest, of the girls.
The other big difference in watching it subbed was the interaction from the audience. The dubbed audience had way more FUN! While watching the dub, the theater was more crowded AND filled several times with UPROARIOUS laughter so loud that you couldn’t even hear parts of the film.
In the subbed version, there was some hushed chuckles here or there, but largely, the movie went by with almost no reactions from the audience.
This in part, was because the dub was cheesy, and some of the voice actors were unbelievably over dramatic, turning suspenseful, touching, or sad scenes, into comedy gold.
The one part that both audiences laughed at though was when Chibiusa was trying to wake Usagi after being saved during a fight. Watch for this near the first fight sequence. It’s one of the best jokes in the film lol.
In the dub, Fiore’s voice actor, and the lines he had to read, combined to create some rather cheesey dialog in the final fight. Also I did notice an odd choice in translation here as well. In the sub, Fiore says “My flower’s seeds shall rain down on the earth”. In the dub I believe he says something closer to “My seeds shall rain down on the earth” — which of course, people’s minds went to the gutter with that one. Que more laughter.
In BOTH versions he does say “It’s all over now, Mamo has thrown a flower at me” — For some reason, only in the dub did people laugh… and laugh… and laugh… and laugh…. To where I was glad I did get to see it again cuz I couldn’t hear the next several lines. In which he asks Mamo if he intends to leave him all alone again. (aww so sad 🙁 ).
There were many more instances within the dub where the audience would just burst out laughing. Actually I’ve only been to maybe 2 other movies where people have laughed this much. I liked the “energy” of the audience a lot more at the dub.
I also think maybe it’s because of the “types” of people who prefer dub, vs the “types” of people who prefer subs. Most people who want to watch it subbed are older, more mature, more artsy, intellectual types, compared to the younger, more loud, outgoing, off the cuff types of otaku who watch more mainstream stuff.
The “experience” of seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen was more fun during the dub because of the audience’s reactions. Of course, I know plenty of people who don’t want to join anime clubs, or even watch anime with their friends, etc, because they dislike comments/laughter/remarks etc from the audience and just want to focus on watching their anime.
So this just comes down to a personal opinion. Either way, seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen is a once in a lifetime, unforgettable experience!
The final difference, was that the English dubbed version was prefaced by about a 15-20 minute exclusive interview with the English dubbed cast asking about their characters and how they feel the characters have grown or evolved from season 1 to the start of the new film, whereas the Subtitled version jumps directly to the Mini-Cartoon after the previews end and then follows directly to the movie.
Now, finally, onto the review – You will notice some things are the same in both my reviews for the dub and sub, and a few things are different! :). You’ll see our score for the Sub ranks only very slightly higher than that of the Dub. It moves from a B- to a B+.
Title: Sailor Moon R the Movie (Subtitled Version)
Release Date: January 2017
Publisher: Toei Animation, Eleven Arts, and Viz Media
Geeky: 5/5 High points for Nostalgia, and excellent animation for the date/time of the film.
Sweetie: 4/5 I gave the dubbed version 3/5, but the subbed version 4/5. Both are weaker on character development than the TV Series; however, in both versions, seeing Mamo, Fiore and Usagi as little kids, as well as the comedy and certain romance scenes, earn it 3 hearts. The additional 4th heart on the subtitled version comes from different (cuter) dialog choices, such as the scene I pointed out where the girls are teasing Ami.
Overall: 48/55 87% B+ Very Good Anime for Girls
Concept: 8/10 Seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen is awesome no matter how good or bad the movie itself is. It’s something I’ve literally dreamed of doing ever since I was a child. And, as the English cast points out, rarely do you see anime in a US theater, especially anime that is now, nearly 30 years old. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience… and judging by how many tickets the theater sold, perhaps Viz and Eleven Arts will treat us to re-releasing the other Sailor Moon movies in theater format in the future as well. I had given the dub 10/10 here, but the interaction from the audience also weighed heavily on that experience. Without the cheesiness that the series is known for, and a more straight forward, literal translation, it loses a tiny bit of the “overall experience” here to me. (but makes up for it in other ways!)
Story: 8/10 There is a lot of action and almost no character development in this film. Also, unless you’re a fan of the series (but then again, who isn’t a fan of Sailor Moon?), you may feel a little lost or confused even with the inclusion of the Mini-cartoon that re-introduces the scouts and explains their strengths and weaknesses and about the silver moon kingdom and their rebirth on earth. — And although Chibiusa is included in the Mini-cartoon and actual movie, her past and history and relationship to Usagi is actually not explained at all.
The story gives you a unique look at Mamoru’s childhood. Also, in this uncut version, they more clearly explain Mamoru’s relationship with the new villain. I remember when the movie was announced a few months ago, I got into an “argument” with someone on facebook who made a comment when I shared the news post. They argued that the relationship was more than platonic, and I counter argued, that they were just close childhood friends… but after seeing the uncut version, I have to concede, and agree, the relationship is definitely 100% romantic.
The Sailor Scouts even joke about the questionable nature of the relationship, quipping things such as “I guess Mamo is popular with the guys too” “There’s even a few couples like that at my school” and Usagi is stressed/worried and says to herself “It sure seemed like more than friends”. Which comes as no surprise, because by the next few seasons, almost everyone in the Sailor Moon universe is openly exploring their sexuality, with Uranus x Neptune, Uranus x Moon, and Chibiusa X Saturn… and that’s not even mentioning Sailor Stars, which are essentially gender-neutral, or transgendered Women who were born in Men’s bodies when they re-incarnated and transforming back to female when they take their Sailor forms. So Sailor Moon is no stranger to dealing with these topics. It was actually quite revolutionary for its day and time, back in the 90s, when even live-action TV shows were still shying away from tackling such relationships.
If your favorite part of Sailor Moon is the action and fighting scenes you will probably really enjoy Sailor Moon R the Movie. It is way more action heavy compared to the TV Series. It opens right away with a lengthy and fairly violent fight sequence within the first 10 minutes or so of the film.
The story is also full of comedy… Shortly after that fight sequence, there’s a scene with Usagi and Chibiusa that builds and builds the same joke for what seems like forever, but it was effective. I don’t laugh out loud easily… and even that elicited a chuckle from me.
Despite, at the core, the story being about Mamo and Usagi and the new Villain, it’s actually not very Romance laden. They are on a date at the opening of the film, but once again comedy comes in to foil any chance of romance for the two of them. We do get a little taste of romance at the end though.
Characters 9/10: I had given the dub 8/10 here, but I think the Subbed version comes much closer to capturing the true character of each scout, showing Ami in an unusually vulnerable light, and removing some things that felt off to me about Mako’s dialog in the dub throughout the final fight.
As mentioned, character development is really pretty much non-existent. You could easily skip watching this film and not miss anything earth-shattering in developing the scouts or Mamo as characters. You’d miss out a lil on Mamo’s backstory but it’s mostly stuff that’s been glossed over briefly by the series anyways.
The scouts are featured heavily in the film and so if you’re the type who complains that one of the weaknesses of Crystal is how it’s all about Mamo x Usagi, (this seems a common complaint), then you’ll like how prominent each of the scouts are in this film, and a decision that Usagi makes near the end of the movie, showing how much she loves and cares for the other scouts. Though this too is not surprising if you’ve seen the 90s TV series you know the focus was more on Usagi and the Scouts and less on the Reincarnation / Romance bits.
If however, one of your primary draws to Sailor Moon is the character development or romance, this movie may very well disappoint you.
But you should still go see it, because it’s Sailor Moon :). How long have we waited to see this cast of characters on the big screen? And if we want to see the other movies, a re-run of the dub, or airing of the new Viz dub, or a new season of Crystal, or perhaps a continuation of the series even beyond Stars, or more Sailor Moon merchandise and collectibles, then, you know as they say “Money Talks”.
Also, as you know, the characters in Sailor Moon are very diverse, with almost someone for EVERY girl out there to look up to. How many TV shows or Movies can claim such a wholesome cast full of role models for young women?
Sailor Moon teaches us about friendship, love, respect, and kindness. Moon is the quintessential loud/ditzy/friendly outgoing girl, Mercury is the smart/brainy/shy girl, Mars is the mysterious/quiet/serious/beautiful girl, Jupiter is the “tomboy” type girl (who also secretly has a soft side and loves to cook, and falls in love easily), Venus is the “best friend” or “girl next door” type of girl.
With so many different personalities, there’s bound to be a superhero that your kids can look up to, which I think is one of the reasons for the series continued success and popularity.
Artwork: 4/5 This is the old 90s style animation, and it shows… There’s some really bad CG effects later on in the film… and the characters have that unique 90s style to them… However, I was surprised by how bright and vivid the colors were and how crisp, clean, and clear all of the animations looked. There are also some lovely backgrounds too.
Music: 5/5 I had given the dub 4/5 here for some scenes where the Japanese music didn’t fit and caused a strange mismatched and disjointed feeling (like when it was actually the characters themselves singing). But that problem doesn’t exist in the sub, because the characters are both speaking and singing the same language now.
The music in the film was quite enjoyable, adding to the suspense, action, and drama of the film. The soundtracks to Sailor Moon have always been among my favorites. I owned many of the imported Japanese CDs, as well as some of the English cassette tapes and equally loved both the Original Japanese music, as well as the old 90s stuff too.
Voice Acting 5/5 –The Japanese voice actresses and actors just sound more cute, energetic, youthful, and emotional in their performances. Also as mentioned throughout this article, several creative liberties were still taken with the dub despite it being so-called un-cut. These changes ultimately changed some scenes, or even characters’ personalities. So it was definitely nice to see the sub and the original dialog and scenes. The changes were VERY slight, and understandably done to appeal more to an American audience, but there were still differences none the less, which is why I still prefer watching subbed anime. We’ve come a long way from the rampant censorship of the 90s, but still, I prefer the little nuances and charms of the original voice cast.
Overall: 48/55 87% B+ Very Good Anime for Girls
Overall, the experience of seeing Sailor Moon on the big screen, the hundreds of moonies who turned out for the event, and the movie itself, made for an enjoyable and nostalgic night of entertainment.
Both the dub and sub are worth going to see on the big screen. Depending on your own personality and preferences, you’ll clearly enjoy one version more than the other. If you enjoy a lot of audience interaction, fun, laughter, and a little bit of over the top cheesiness, the dub is the version you should see. If you’re more reserved, quiet, or just want to enjoy the movie in peace and quiet OR if you prefer a more literal translation that’s more “accurate” to the original script, then go see the Sub.
Either way, you do not want to miss this once in a lifetime experience to see Sailor Moon in theaters.
Fuuka is very similar to other band slice of life anime such as Beck Mongolian Chop Squad or Nana. If you like either of these anime, I think you’ll also enjoy Fuuka.
Check out my “Early Review” for episodes 1 through 4 of Fuuka below, and catch Episode 5 on Crunchyroll Friday at 11:00am EST.
Genre: Slice of Life, Romance, Drama
Length: 12 Episodes (so far only 4 have aired).
Related Media: Fuuka is a sequel to another anime called Suzuka. Fuuka is actually the daughter of one of the main characters in Suzuka. Both Fuuka and Suzuka also have manga adaptations, and Fuuka’s manga is currently still running with new material.
PS: You can enjoy this series without watching Suzuka – I had never heard of Suzuka until I was researching my blog post tonight – and only just started watching Fuuka tonight too and already in love with it. It’s definitely “my kind” of anime! Suzuka is similar but instead of a love triangle in a band, it’s a love triangle in a sports anime. I may marathon it this week while waiting for the next episode of Fuuka :).
Geeky: 3/5 – The animation and music are both highlights in this series with extremely high production values; however the slow plot and short overall length of the series could alienate some fans.
Sweetie: 4/5 Awesome characters and story with love as a huge focus and slice of life about kids starting a band. Took away one heart for huge amounts of fanservice.
Concept: 9/10 – It’s not terribly original. (-1 point) It’s been done before, and probably done better before too… but Overall, I am in love with the premise of this series. Two childhood friends drift appear, reconnecting years later – One is well on their way to fulfilling their dreams and promises; while the other simply drifts aimlessly through life until a key event occurs which puts them also on the path to their destiny.
There is a huge love triangle/love rivalry at the center of this drama. There’s also huge amounts of significant character growth and development. Already just within 4 episodes, we’ve witnessed the main character overcome his fears and shyness and learn to speak up, and we’ve seen already several relationship ups and downs.
As for the female lead whom is the namesake of this show, we’ve watched her, also like the male lead, go from wandering aimlessly, to having a purpose and a goal and a vision. We’ve also seen that although she can essentially be a tomboy, that she too gets shy and awkward at times, and has trouble expressing her feelings.
Also within just 4 episodes we’ve watched them find and recruit all of the necessary members for their band, and even put on an impromptu performance.
Story: 10/10 – If relationship drama and slice of life is not your cup of tea, you will not be too interested in this — However, for me, it’s my favorite genre; and yes, although there are similar anime dealing with “band drama” (Beck, Nana, Your Lie in April, and White Album to name only a very small few) — I still find the concept refreshing and enjoyable.
To put it simply, the story revolves around a love triangle between “music geeks” who are pursuing their dreams of becoming either solo artists or rock band musicians. I’d like to say “pretty sure we know how the triangle will end” given the name of the show… but that is not necessarily true you know~!! Similar Manga such as Nana have had a lot of failed relationships and couples that you’d think should be together, but aren’t.
It could just be that Fuuka goes on to become an idol and fulfill her dream (which is to sing). She could go on to become a strong, independent character — she already is so much stronger than the more emotionally weak (but successful already in her singing career) love rival that she’s pitted against.
Though we do witness weak, tender, and vulnerable sides of Fuuka as well. At this point it’s anyone’s guess how the story will go. Who will Yuu choose? Or perhaps none of those relationships will pan out.
Aside from the love triangle, you witness the day-to-day struggles of performing music, and see the characters at school, work, and home, typical slice of life stuff here.
Characters 10/10: The story begins by introducing the male lead, Yuu, who will become the bass player for the band. He is a very shy and awkward soft-spoken boy who finds escapism online and has difficulty connecting with others face to face.
One day he meets the namesake of the series, Fuuka, as she’s dashing across the street and bumps into him, because he is so busy looking at his phone. This creates a misunderstanding about why he was using his phone, and it won’t be the last misunderstanding between them either.
Fuuka is an extremely energetic and bright young girl who has a strong tomboy streak and acts very unlady-like at most times. Like a lot of young people, she wonders what she should be doing with her life. One day, she gets free concert tickets to a live event. As they’re walking home, she begins to sing, and finds encouragement and feedback from Yuu, which causes her to impulsively want to form a band. She pretty much forces Yuu to go along with her idea, and Yuu can’t say no at this point, because his personality is weak, and Fuuka is very dominant at this point.
They also enlist the help of a classmate who is charming and good looking but “not interested in girls” as he himself says lol. He becomes the keyboard artist for the group.
Lastly, they recruit an upper classman who has been pestering Fuuka to join the track and field team oneday when he lets it slip that his big brother used to be a drummer; thus, he too becomes a drummer like his brother.
As mentioned, there’s also a very prominent love rival in the form of a childhood friend of the main character.
The main character also lives in a house full of females (enter more copious amounts of fanservice). And a cast of side characters consisting of teachers and advisers who also happen to be former band-mates who have taken the new members under the wing.
Anyways, most of all, I can’t explain but the namesake of this show is just so darn cute sometimes (in her actions and facial expressions). And there are some truly cute moments between both “couples” in the series… It’s definitely the cute characters that make this series for me, especially Fuuka!
Artwork: 4/5 I love the artwork in this series; they way their eyes are drawn and the detail and light in their eyes is especially pretty. However — could do without the huge amounts of blatant fanservice.
Music: 5/5 – Thankfully this is really, really good; I mean it’s an anime about music, so it’d better be good right? lol. Crunchyroll for some reason doesn’t have subtitles on the opening or ending theme which is a bummer, but no fault of course of this anime and just a fail on Crunchy’s part.
The music is fast paced, and more “J-Rock” infused. Once again similar in ways to Beck and Nana with the same “vibe”. There are also a few tracks (from the love rival) which are definitely more soft and Pop inspired.
Voice Acting: 5/5 They have to be able to both sing and act, so I once again give this a 5 out of 5.